House of Commons Hansard #210 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was canada's.

Topics

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would go a little further and say that this is not formalizing an informal arrangement. The exclusion zone has existed for several decades. We are actually bringing new elements into this. We are saying that tanker traffic will not be allowed to go in and out of the ports in the north part of British Columbia. That was not anything that existed prior to this. This is a promise we are keeping to British Columbians and to Canadians.

Second, there is some ministerial discretion, but I want to assure my colleague that it would never be used unless there were exceptional emergency circumstances.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, we ran during the election on, and spoke a great deal about, balancing the economy and the environment. I wonder if the minister could comment on that and how the bill carries forward that commitment to balance Canada's commitment to develop our economy with protecting our environment and natural resources.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the largest by far in the country. A huge amount of trade leaves our country, and enters our country, either destined for the United States or for the Asia-Pacific region. The Port of Prince Rupert, which is in the north of British Columbia, is expanding in a very impressive manner.

We care deeply about the commerce of our country. We are a trading nation, but we have also said at the same time that it is important for us to ensure that we preserve these pristine areas and that we preserve the mammals that live in them for generations to come. This is where coastal people have lived for millennia, and we are very glad that as part of the oceans protection plan they are participating with us. They have a huge amount to contribute.

We care about the environment, and we want to grow the economy. We believe we are achieving the right balance.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to lead off debate on this legislation today on behalf of the official opposition. Although this legislation seems confined to one geographical area, with a very specific intent, it is in fact of national importance, with wide-ranging impacts on people and communities in the local vicinity and also across Canada. It is also instructive of the particular ideology driving the Liberals' policy decisions and reveals the cavern between their words, their aims, and the real consequences of their actions.

The roots of this bill were planted very early, in fact less than a month after the last general election. The Prime Minister himself said that it was his own highest priority to base his government's policies and laws on evidence and consultation. In the mandate letter to the Minister of Natural Resources, the Prime Minister said, “ensure that decisions are based on science, facts, and evidence, and serve the public’s interest”.

However, on November 13, 2015, mandate letters from the Prime Minister to at least three ministers directed them to work together to formalize a moratorium on crude oil tankers off British Columbia's north coast. One wonders quite reasonably how it could at all be possible that there was sufficient time in 25 days to ground this directive on the results of comprehensive assessments of existing environmental and safety records, standards, outcomes, and gaps; a comparative analysis of marine traffic rules, enforcement, and track records on all Canadian coasts and internationally; and thorough local, regional, and national economic impact studies. Clearly, those undertakings would deliver the information required for fact- and evidence-based decision-making.

On top of that, how could there possibly be sufficient time to consult with impacted communities, first nations, industry, and experts? There is a difference between consulting to get to a decision and meeting in order to get to the conclusion one already wants. Unfortunately, two years in, this is a pattern to which Canadians are getting accustomed. Despite all the talk, it is actually voter coalitions, politics, and ideology that drive the Liberals' predetermined conclusions.

This bill, of course, is not really about transport standards, marine traffic, or protecting the safety and ecology of B.C.'s northern shore exclusively for the Liberals. It is really yet another step in limiting Canadian oil development and hindering Canadian oil transportation and the Prime Minister's own explicit goal of phasing out the oil sands. The fact that this ban is exclusively in northern B.C. and only applies to crude oil tankers in a specific zone begs the question: why is tanker traffic okay near Vancouver and off the east coast but not in northern B.C.?

The unbiased, non-partisan Library of Parliament's legislative summary states explicitly that the debate around the tanker moratorium stems from the Conservative-approved northern gateway pipeline project, which would have transported 525,000 additional barrels per day of oil from Bruderheim, Alberta, which is in my riding of Lakeland in the industrial heartland that is Canada's largest petrochemical and refining region, to Kitimat, B.C.

In November 2016, the Liberals directed the National Energy Board to dismiss the project, citing concerns about crude oil tankers transiting in the area. The tanker ban in this region would permanently prevent any other opportunities for pipelines to transport world-leading Canadian oil to the Prince Rupert and Kitimat area, where it could reach the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region to achieve export market diversification by expanding Canada's customer base.

Reaching more export markets is vital to ensuring the long-term development of Canada's crude oil reserves, which are the third largest in the world. Energy is Canada's second biggest export, and 97% is imported by the United States. As the U.S. becomes Canada's biggest energy competitor, infrastructure that will get landlocked Canadian oil to more export markets worldwide is more important than ever. This is vital for all Canadians.

This bill is not a minor one with only specific impacts in a particular region, as it may seem. In fact, it is a measure that would impact all of Canada, with future consequences for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians employed in the energy sector across the country. Energy is the biggest private sector investor in Canada's economy, and as mentioned, oil and gas is Canada's second biggest export. Deliberately limiting export capacity potential by putting up roadblocks to access to tidewater, thereby putting a ceiling on production, would be detrimental to the livelihoods of Canadians everywhere. It would put very real limits on future economic opportunities, certainly with disproportionately harmful outcomes for certain communities and certain provinces.

Canadian oil and gas provides 670,000 direct and indirect jobs across Canada. In 2015, the oil sands alone generated 151,000 direct jobs and 300,000 indirect jobs across the country. The Prime Minister said, “the world needs more Canada”. We Conservatives agree. The good news is that the world wants Canada too, and it wants Canadian energy in particular.

The International Energy Agency projects that global oil demand will continue to grow in the decades ahead, reaching 99 million barrels a day this year and increasing to 121 million barrels a day by 2040. Global oil demand expanded in the past five years by 6.8 million barrels a day, with 69% of that growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

Reaching tidewater in all directions for Canada's oil and gas should be a pressing priority for the Liberals. It makes no sense to delay, hinder, or equivocate on this point from an economic, environmental, or moral perspective in the global context. All that does is take Canada out, ceding market share to oil- and gas-producing countries where standards, enforcement, and outcomes do not measure up to Canada's performance, and to corrupt regimes with abysmal environmental and human rights records, where energy development benefits only a select few. This is in stark contrast to Canada, where energy development benefits every community with jobs and with revenue for multiple levels of government, which is also shared across the country, with the aim of ensuring that all Canadians have access to roughly similar services and programs. Between 2000 and 2014, for example, on a net basis Alberta's individual and corporate taxpayers shipped an estimated $200 billion-plus to the federal government, and a major source of that revenue was from oil and gas.

A 2014 WorleyParsons study, which compared Alberta's environmental and regulatory systems with similarly sized oil- and gas-producing jurisdictions around the world, said that Alberta was among the best. That is no surprise, considering that Alberta, of course, was the first jurisdiction in all of North America to regulate emissions. The study said that Alberta was near the top of the list for the most stringent environmental laws and that Alberta ranked at the top for the availability of public information about the environmental performance of the oil and gas industry. The study confirmed that Alberta is unmatched on the compliance and enforcement scale.

Pipelines are a safe, efficient, and reliable way to move Canadian energy to consumers. In Canada, federally regulated pipelines carry over $100 billion worth of natural gas, oil, and petroleum products each year, 99.99% of which is transported safely.

I know that my Liberal colleagues will be eager to spin their narrative as champions of pipelines while peddling the myth that not one kilometre of pipeline went ahead under the previous Conservative government. I would like to dispense with that false claim right now, and I hope we can actually have accurate exchanges on the topic in the future. The Conservatives approved 10 pipelines, four that are already constructed and operating. Importantly, Conservatives accepted the independent regulator's recommendation to approve the northern gateway pipeline, which was a $7.9-billion initiative that notably involved 31 benefit agreements with first nations' equity partners of $2 billion all along the pipeline route. It also would have secured critical access for Canada to the Asia-Pacific.

On July 23, 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the crown did not adequately consult on the project. In response, the current Prime Minister could have sought additional consultations, with expanded scope, with directly impacted first nations and with those who stood to lose immediate and long-term revenue for their communities and job opportunities for their children and future generations, but he did not. Instead, for the first time in Canadian history, a prime minister overruled and rejected a recommendation by the independent, world-renowned, expert regulator and killed the northern gateway outright and unilaterally, along with all associated economic opportunities and an actual concrete way to give the world more Canada.

This tanker ban would permanently eliminate all potential for any future initiatives in the region.

Context is important. Incredibly, the Prime Minister vetoed northern gateway on the very same day he accepted the Trans Mountain and Line 3 expansions, the latter of which is currently at serious risk in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Commerce has said that the expansion is not needed. If Minnesota blocks the pipeline, landlocked oil and gas will face an additional challenge even getting to Canada's already biggest customer, which reinforces why Canadian access to tidewater is crucial.

The Liberals should restrain themselves on this theme, since they actually unilaterally denied the only new opportunity to reach tidewater while they approved two expansions assessed under the exact same process, with the same evidence. Anyone wondering about this incoherence can understand that it is a result of political and ideology-driven decisions, where the priority is holding voting coalitions together to fend off political opponents like the NDP and the Greens, rather than basing policy on science, evidence, or consultations or reaching conclusions in service of the broad national public interest.

The by-product of the constant Liberal and leftist barrage of attacks on Canadian regulators and energy developers, and changes to rules with new red tape and added costs, is that energy investment in Canada has dropped dramatically in the same time frame. Since the Liberals were elected, the policy uncertainty and additional hurdles during an already challenging time for prices, costs, and competitiveness have caused the biggest two-year decline in Canadian oil and gas investment in any other two-year period since 1947. This year alone, there is a projected 47% drop in oil and gas capital from 2016 levels. Energy investment in Canada, on which hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs depend, has declined more in the two years after the 2015 federal election than before it. One-sixth of total energy workers in Canada have lost their jobs with it.

Context matters here too. The overall lost investment of more than $50 billion is difficult to conceptualize, so I think it is important to know that it is equivalent to the loss of about 75% of Canada's auto manufacturing, and nearly the entire aerospace industry. I would suggest that those scenarios would rightfully be a national crisis and a top priority for a federal government, and not something to be met with added barriers, benign neglect, and a dismissive, “Hang in there” attitude. Therefore, it is rational to conclude that this ban is about stopping crude oil, not about protecting a specific area from marine vessels.

Gavin Smith, a lawyer for West Coast Environmental Law, points out that there is already a voluntary ban that keeps most big tankers out of the area and a dearth of information about what kind of traffic goes through the region, something that Transport Canada should make public.

This law will not affect the current voluntary exclusion zone that was implemented decades ago. The voluntary exclusion zone was put in place for American shipping from Alaska to the west coast. Because of international law, foreign vessels can decide whether or not to abide by the exclusion zone boundaries. This tanker ban will not make this ban involuntary for American tanker traffic and it will not mandate it for the exact same kinds of tankers that will now not be allowed to carry Canadian oil as a result of this bill. It makes no sense.

Nearly three years ago, the former Conservative government implemented a suite of strong measures to create a world-class tanker safety system that modernized Canada's navigation system, enhanced area response planning and marine safety capacity for first nation communities, and ensured that polluters pay for spills and damages on all coasts. Canada has industry-leading regulations with standards well beyond other jurisdictions'. Government certified and industry-funded marine response organizations, like the eastern and western Canada response corporations, and the marine safety response systems on the east and west coast and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are among the best in the world. Canada's commitment to ocean and coastline protection renders this moratorium unnecessary.

What is the evidence? Tankers have safely and regularly transported crude oil from Canada's west coast since the 1930s. In 2011, 2.2 million tonnes of oil were safely shipped from B.C., and on the east coast, 82.5 million tonnes of various petroleum products have been shipped from 23 ports in Atlantic Canada. There have not been any tanker navigational issues or incidents in about 50 years in the port of Vancouver.

To make matters worse, it turns out that many first nations leaders do not think the Liberals consulted on this tanker ban adequately either. In addition to the lost economic opportunities for first nations offered by the northern gateway pipeline, this tanker ban puts the $14 billion Eagle Spirit Energy pipeline proposal from Fort McMurray to Prince Rupert in serious peril.

The Chief's Council Eagle Spirit Energy Project has stated:

To be clear; there has been insufficient consultation for the proposed Tanker Moratorium and it does not have our consent. As Indigenous peoples, we want to preserve the right to determine the types of activities that take place in our territories and do not accept that the federal government should tell us how to preserve, protect, and work within our traditional territories.

Moreover, Isaac Laboucan-Avirom, a member of that chief's council, has said:

The decision to do that impairs not only the people on the coast but it impairs the diverse Canadian economy

This reality is in direct contradiction to what the Prime Minister and many ministers have said repeatedly they would ensure in laws, policies, operational practices, project reviews and assessments in service to what they have said is their most important relationship. However, it makes sense why the Liberals would not want to elevate the voices of the first nations people who supported northern gateway and those who oppose this tanker ban, because it undermines their myth that all first nations people are opposed to oil and gas and to pipelines, which the left exploits to advance its anti-Canadian energy agenda.

In fact, first nations are partners in Canadian energy development everywhere, with more than 300 impact and benefit agreements with energy developers in the last decade, worth millions of dollars and thousands of jobs. AFN Chief Bellegarde says that 500 of the 630 first nations in Canada are open to pipelines and to oil and gas development. First nations in Lakeland and the oil sands region demonstrate that every day. For example, the Fort McKay First Nation near the epicentre of the Athabasca oil sands have an unemployment rate of zero, average annual incomes of $120,000, and financial holdings in excess of $2 billion. Moreover, the Mikisew Cree are owners of part of a Suncor tank storage facility worth more than $350 million. In fact, there are 327 indigenous-owned enterprises that do business with oil and gas operations in Alberta alone, involving $10 billion in goods and services from those companies over the last 15 years.

It is not isolated to Alberta. The Hereditary Chiefs' Council of Lax Kw'alaams, whose traditional territories extend along the coastline that will be affected by this ban, declared their frustration with the Liberals' delay in consulting them on the tanker ban. They say it will have significant impacts on the ability of the council's members to make a living. They state:

As Indigenous peoples, we want to preserve the right to determine the types of activities that take place in our territories and do not accept that the government should tell us how to preserve, protect, and work within our traditional territories.

This tanker ban is not in the best interests of all Canadians. This bill enables an ideological, predetermined conclusion that is not based on evidence or consultations and is not substantiated by comprehensive safety, environmental, and economic assessments, or at least none that have been made public.

It deliberately and specifically targets one industry, with disproportionate damage to landlocked provinces, which will seriously hamper future prosperity for all Canadians and limit Canada's leadership role in the world. It is really all about Liberal politicking.

Canada's energy diversity is a vital strength. Responsible development in all sectors across all of Canada should be championed by governments. It is important to know that conventional oil and gas, oil sands, and pipeline companies are among the largest private sector investors in alternative energy technologies like wind and solar in Canada. When one sector thrives, so does the other.

Conservatives value the responsible development of natural resources in all sectors, in all provinces, to benefit all of Canada, and we oppose this crude oil tanker ban.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

[Member spoke in Cree]

[English]

Mr. Speaker, in 1989, the Exxon Valdez had an unfortunate incident. Human failure led to a critical incident that led to tonnes of crude oil being released into the environment, which still impacts the environment to this day.

In discussions with the Haida Gwaii, they have indicated they are not in favour of the transportation of crude oil through their traditional territories.

I think this is an attempt by the government to come up with a balance between the economy and the environment, allowing crude oil to be shipped from certain areas of the country but not others, depending on where we are and the type of environment involved. This is really based on the idea of using science and data to come up with something that can respect the long-term vision for what we can and cannot do. This does not mean, though, that I do not believe that this moratorium will prevent other types of economic development taking place.

What are the member's beliefs or feelings about the idea that we need to strike a balance in what we need to do to protect the environment while also developing the economy?

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canada already has a long and successful track record of balancing environmental stewardship with economic development and energy and industrial development, which benefit the entire country.

That is one way in which Canada is second to none or to any other jurisdiction on earth. I do not think this legislation is about balancing the environment with economic development. I think it is about the Liberals meeting a commitment, as mentioned in the minister's opening remarks, they made in the election to secure NDP and Green voters in B.C. I think the Liberals have been facing flak for the other two pipeline expansions they approved, so they are doubling down on this tanker ban to try to reinforce their own votes.

It would be incorrect to suggest that all communities and all first nations people have exactly the same perspective on energy development. That is clear from the first nations people who were speaking out in opposition to this ban and who supported the northern gateway pipeline that the member's government killed.

We should be clear that this tanker ban would absolutely eliminate any more potential for crude oil transportation and economic development in the area.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about ideology and consent. It was the Conservative government that approved the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline project over the objections of local communities, first nations, court rulings, environmental organizations, and public opinion. The Conservatives, under former leader Stephen Harper, accused opponents of Enbridge of being foreign-funded radicals hell-bent on undermining our nation's economic progress. It was in fact the Conservatives who reorganized the National Energy Board process, denied broad public participation, and weakened environmental protections like the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act in order for Enbridge to pass. In other words, they used ideology to move this forward.

Does this Conservative member regret gutting environmental regulations and public input for that purpose in that legislation?

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely false to suggest that Canada's regulatory systems and environmental oversight and compliance were weakened. Instead of just talking from my own personal perspective, I have already referenced an expert who, based on an analysis of other oil and gas-producing jurisdictions around the world, confirmed in 2014, before the Liberals were elected, that Alberta's oil and gas production and Canadian regulatory oversight, enforcement, and compliance were the best in the world.

Here is what 31 aboriginal equity partners who supported the northern gateway project said:

We are profoundly shocked and disappointed by the news that the Federal Government has no intention of pursuing any further consultation and dialogue with our communities on the important issue of the Northern Gateway Project. We are also deeply disappointed that a Prime Minister who campaigned on a promise of reconciliation with Indigenous communities would now blatantly choose to deny our 31 First Nations and Métis communities of our constitutionally protected right to economic development. We see today's announcement as clear evidence of their unwillingness to follow through on his promise.

As I stated, the Prime Minister could have expanded the consultations and held additional discussions with locally impacted communities and first nations people to get it right on northern gateway, and ensure that Canada's world-leading resources can reach diverse export markets.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know that Venezuelan oil is being accepted in Quebec, we know that Saudi Arabian oil is being accepted in the east coast, so why is it that oil from Alberta and British Columbia is not accepted in western Canada? I know that the member is passionate about this, as I am. My home town is Fort McMurray, Alberta, a place where the oil sands create prosperity, a place where I know Canadians go every day to make sure they can fulfill their Canadian dreams.

What kind of negative impact is this moratorium going to have on her constituents and people throughout western Canada?

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the issue that puts the lie to the Liberals' motivation behind this legislation. It would specifically target one industry and would be disproportionately harmful to one province. If this were only about coastal protection and the stewardship of ecological areas that would be vulnerable to marine traffic, then all marine traffic would be banned in the area, and it would be banned on all coasts. The member raises a very important point.

Moreover, as I addressed in my remarks, this is also problematic because it would limit Canada's ability to provide the world with responsible, sustainable, world-leading Canadian oil and gas produced under standards that are literally the best in the world and provide jobs, prosperity, and economic opportunities for every Canadian in every province.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to this idea of balance.

There was an article in the Winnipeg Free Press that discussed Lynn Lake and some of the mining that was going on there. Under current laws, the mining companies were allowed to pollute, destroy the environment, and make the these areas uninhabitable for indigenous people and average Canadians. I am very proud of the government going out, trying to get a balance between the environment and the economy. I know we are trying to redo the National Energy Board. The expert panel put out a report recently and Liberals have been reviewing that report. I have been reviewing that report.

Are there laws in Canada that should be changed to protect the environment? At the end of the day, we still have to live here. We have to drink the water and breathe the air. If we cannot do that, perhaps it is poor on a few of us and bollocks to the rest of us, but at the end of the day, we do have to live here.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, every time Liberal members stand and take shots at Canadian natural resources developers and suggest that Canadian regulators have not done a sufficient job, it damages Canada's reputation on the world stage. Our regulators are experts in the field. They are renowned and recognized by everybody else except the Liberals and maybe their friends in the NDP. It is alarming that policymakers and legislators do not know the facts.

Canada's mining industry is also a world leader. I was pretty shocked at natural resources committee when the minister talked about five or six different measures by which the Canadian mining industry lead the rest of the world with respect to consultation, environmental stewardship, regulation and compliance, and enforcement. I asked him a very clear question. Did the minister believe that Canada produced the most environmentally and socially responsible oil and gas in the world? He started stumbling and equivocating. He said that he was not really sure what I meant or what metrics I was referring to, so he did not know how to answer the question.

If the Liberals want to have a conversation about how we can improve environmental stewardship and enforcement, even beyond our already exceptional performance, which is the best in the world, then we should debate on that. However, this crude oil tanker ban is not about that.

Export and Import Permits Act—Bill C-47Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I move:

That, notwithstanding the order made on Thursday, September 28, 2017, the recorded division on the motion for second reading of Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments) deferred until Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at the expiry of the time oral questions, be further deferred until the expiry of time provided for government orders on the same day.

Export and Import Permits Act—Bill C-47Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Does the hon. member for St. Catharines have unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Export and Import Permits Act—Bill C-47Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Export and Import Permits Act—Bill C-47Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Export and Import Permits Act—Bill C-47Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Export and Import Permits Act—Bill C-47Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Motion agreed to)

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in favour of Bill C-48, an act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast.

Legislating the prior informal ban has been a policy objective of Canada's NDP for many years, which received support from Liberal MPs, particularly on the west coast.

The history of Bill C-48 has been quite the legislative roller coaster. Multiple private members' bills have been tabled to protect the north coast, but none became law.

In 2001, Bill C-571 was introduced by an NDP MP. In 2009, Bill C-458 was introduced by an NDP MP. In 2010, Bill C-606 was introduced by a Liberal MP. In 2011, I introduced Bill C-211. In 2012, Bill C-437 was introduced by a Liberal MP. In 2014, Bill C-628 was introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

In 2010, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley moved a north coast tanker ban motion, which passed in the House 143 to 138, with the support of all parties in the House, except Conservative minority government members who voted against it.

Now, here we are finally debating a bill that would protect the north coast from crude oil tanker traffic for good. The New Democrats welcome the legislation, but we do so with caution. We are concerned that Bill C-48 would give the minister of transport too much arbitrary power to exempt vessels from the legislation and the power to define what fuels would be exempt from the act. We hope the government will implement constructive amendments to limit ministerial power and increase oil spill response resources beyond its ocean protection plan commitments to respond to spills from refined oil vessels not covered by this ban.

Our NDP caucus, local first nations, municipal governments, trade unions, environmental NGOs, grassroots activists, and concerned citizens have over the years increased the call for this ban due to the environmental threat posed by the northern gateway pipeline project.

Northern gateway would have meant the annual passage of 225 supertankers bigger than the Empire State building, which would carry three times as much oil as the Exxon Valdez did before its catastrophic spill into similar waters. Cleanup and coastal recovery for the Exxon Valdez spill cost about $9.5 billion, of which Exxon paid only $3.5 billion. Twenty-five years after that spill, fish habitat and stocks still have not fully recovered. I shake my head in disbelief that so many MPs in the House still think the northern gateway pipeline project would have been a net benefit to Canada.

It is equally galling that our last government ripped up essential environmental laws and undermined the National Energy Board process in order to rubberstamp this pipeline project and others like it. As a result, we are still living with the short-sighted rip and ship mentality for Canada.

It was this short-sighted economic vision that disregarded the crown's obligation to our first nation's people. Canadians still remember how in December, 2013, despite overwhelming opposition from British Columbians and first nations, the National Energy Board recommended approval of the project, along with its 209 conditions. British Columbians showed their resolve to defend our coast by creating a broad-based movement of resistance, which today has shifted its focus to the Liberal's Kinder Morgan pipeline project expansion.

The defenders of our coast were vindicated in January 2016 when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the Province of B.C. “has breached the honour of the Crown by failing to consult” with the Gitga'at and other coastal first nations on the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline project.

Not considering the environmental dangers of a pipeline through northern B.C. was a grave mistake. A large spill would be a disaster for the north coast. In particular, a supertanker oil spill could deal a serious blow to our already struggling wild salmon.

In British Columbia, our wild salmon are considered an iconic species, an integral part of our identity. They are a keynote species that delivers nutrients deep into the forests when they die. They are a major part of what makes the Great Bear Rainforest so great. Salmon support first nations communities, coastal communities, and are an integral part of our west coast economy.

The waters off British Columbia's north coast are a significant salmon migration route, with millions of salmon coming from the more than 650 streams and rivers along the coast. The impacts of a single oil spill would be devastating.

The commercial fishery on the north coast catches over $100 million worth of fish annually. Over 2,500 residents along B.C.'s north coast work in the commercial fishery. The fish processing industry employs thousands more.

The magnificent beauty of this region and the abundance of salmon have made it a world-renowned destination for ecotourism. The tourism industry has been a major catalyst for employment, economic growth, and opportunity in British Columbia. Businesses in this region have worked hard to promote their location as a major tourist destination.

As other resource-based jobs have taken a hit, tourism has provided a much-needed economic boost. The west coast wilderness tourism industry is now estimated to be worth over $782 million annually, employing some 26,000 people full-time and roughly 40,000 people in total. People from all over the world come to the north coast to witness the annual migration of the more than 20,000 gray whales and northern killer whales.

The shoreline is dotted with sports fishing lodges, as fishing enthusiasts flock to experience the natural marine environment and wild ocean and take part in the world famous fishery. People are often left awestruck after spending even a day kayaking, bear watching, or enjoying a guided trip showcasing the majestic west coast. They come to photograph sea otters and bald eagles, and to experience in some cases the untouched natural environment of the Pacific coast.

This legislated crude oil tanker ban will help protect the Great Bear Rainforest and Gwuii Haanas marine conservation parks. These two protected areas have incredible biological diversity that all parties in the House agree should be protected. They contain many species of concern like iconic killer whales, grizzly bears, bald eagles, and Pacific salmon. With so much at stake for our economy and our ecology, we are happy that Bill C-48 legislates an end to the threat posed by projects like northern gateway, but are also disappointed that the bill does not protect B.C.'s coast outright from oil tanker spills.

Limiting tankers to more than 12,500 tonnes of crude oil on the north coast of Canada appears arbitrary and dangerously high. I encourage the government to make public the past and current oil shipment information for this region and provide a rationale for the 12,500 tonne threshold, including the types of vessels or shipments it will include or exclude. There is no reason to impede necessary vessels that help our coastal communities thrive, but clarity is required to ensure a proper threshold so as not to cause undue risk.

The bill makes exceptions for refined oil products like diesel, gasoline, and propane in order for coastal communities to be resupplied and to support value-added petroleum industries. While most of this is understandable, it means the bill does nothing to protect our coast from refined oil spills that could impact marine environments and disrupt valuable ecosystems.

The recent Nathan E. Stewart disaster shows just how big a threat refined oil spills can be. It demonstrates the need for increased oil spill response funding and training on the north coast and increased oil spill prevention measures for refined oil vessels.

For those needing a reminder, the Nathan E. Stewart ran aground in the early hours of October 13, 2016, near Bella Bella, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, spilling toxic diesel into critical fishing areas off B.C.'s central coast. The vessel eventually sank, spilling as much as 110,000 litres of diesel into the marine environment. Cleanup efforts were repeatedly hampered by bad weather and the vessel was not recovered until more than a month after it sank. Good thing the Nathan E. Stewart was not at maximum fuel capacity. The damage would have been even worse.

A Transportation Safety Board investigation showed spill response was inadequate, including slow response time, insufficient and ineffective equipment, a lack of safety gear, and confusion about who was in charge. First nations leaders were outraged at the government's slow and inadequate spill response. This bill would do nothing to ban vessels like the Nathan E. Stewart from carrying the amount of fuel that it did. We must learn from this disaster to prevent such accidents, and to ensure that, if they do occur, coastal communities are better equipped to quickly respond. We are encouraged to see investments in spill response as part of the government's much-touted oceans protection plan. However, these investments alone are simply inadequate.

It is discouraging that despite the NDP's objections, the government closed three integral marine communications and traffic services centres on B.C.'s coast, which undermines the ability of a speedy spill response. Justine Hunter of The Globe and Mail wrote:

The MCTS is responsible for monitoring distress calls, co-ordinating responses, and taking action to ensure the safe and efficient movement of vessels in Canadian waters. However, with only two MCTS officers responsible for monitoring a vast stretch of B.C.'s coast, from north of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border and including the inside passage, a source with knowledge of the situation says there was little chance that anyone would have spotted the doomed course of the tug, charted in real time on marine traffic maps through its Automatic Identification System transponder.

The best spill response plans include spill prevention plans and, sadly, the current government is moving in the wrong direction. B.C.'s MCTS centres deal with an incredible volume of marine traffic. By consolidating MCTS resources into only two centres, Prince Rupert and Victoria, the government has increased the number of vessels that our already overworked Coast Guard staff have to monitor and has opened up the system to new failures. Marine vessels continue to report that communications systems regularly go down, leaving vessels without Coast Guard contact. It was short-sighted to close the Comox MCTS centre, removing much-needed resources along our coast who have local knowledge and monitoring capacity. The most troubling aspect of Bill C-48 is that it would allow the Minister of Transport to make exceptions for indeterminate lengths of time without public review or comment.

Gavin Smith of West Coast Environmental Law said:

Section 6(1) of Bill C-48 allows the Minister, by order, to exempt identified oil tankers from the ban on any terms and for any period of time. Moreover, section 6(2) says that the Statutory Instruments Act does not apply to such exemption orders, which removes requirements that such exemption orders be published and made easily available for public inspection.

This provision, if used to its full extent, could allow wide-scale and long-term exemptions from the oil tanker ban to be ordered behind closed doors without opportunity for public review and input, effectively gutting the purpose of the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act. The need for this provision is unclear given that Bill C-48 already includes sensible exemptions from the oil tanker ban for vessels in various forms of distress (e.g. to ensure the safety of the vessel, for medical emergencies, or to render assistance to another vessel in distress), as well as vessels under the control of the Minister of National Defence. It is even more puzzling that the government has proposed excluding such exemption orders from the application of the Statutory Instruments Act, which effectively makes them less public.

Canada's New Democrats agree. The powers given to the minister in this bill would undermine its positive aspects. The minister's power to exempt ships for indeterminate amounts of time if deemed in the public interest is far too broad. There should be time limits on exemptions and opportunities for public comment on any long-term exemptions. This should also apply to the regulatory authority to add or remove fuel types that count under the ban.

Bill C-48 has loopholes large enough to drive an oil tanker through. Ministerial discretion has been used by the Liberal government and others to circumvent the positive aspects of this bill. There is no need to continue this pattern of letting industry circumvent Canada's environmental laws without constraint or review.

This bill is a positive development for British Columbians and Canadians, but it can be improved. It protects what we hold dear and takes us a step closer to a different vision of development on Canada's west coast. However, with the ability to veto protection for destructive megaprojects, the bill still leaves B.C.'s north coast vulnerable.

We ask the government to listen to first nations, NGOs, and coastal communities to close the gaps in Bill C-48 and truly protect the assets of the Pacific north coast.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, to be clear before I start, I oppose both the NDP's and the Liberals' positions on this bill. However, I have some facts for the member: 3,900 crude oil tankers a year are in the St. Lawrence; 240 oil tankers off the B.C. coast, which is only 1.3% of total commercial traffic on the B.C. coast; and the east coast has 16 times higher tanker traffic than the west coast.

Given the NDP's comments, do they actually want bans of all marine vessels of all sizes on all Canadian coasts, and given their own position, if not, why not?

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, absolutely not. Of course, the NDP is not looking at that. I said that clearly in my speech. We have concerns about vessels: 12,500 metric tonnes is the threshold of concern. We want to see coastal communities thrive and get the necessary fuels they need to carry on what they do.

I will say two words, and they are two words that people all around the world still remember: Exxon Valdez. We can talk about as much traffic and trips as we want, but people remember the one or the few spills that have happened around the world. They make impacts that last decades.

With the Exxon Valdez, it is two and a half decades since that oil spill devastated the north coast. People around the world and on the north coast are sensitive to that. They want to see a new way of doing business, one that protects the values they hold true, which are salmon, the marine environment and ecosystem. They have worked and lived off them for thousands of years in some cases.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we understand in listening to the member that there were many private members, both Liberals and New Democrats, who advanced legislation, a private member's bill, on this very important issue. It only seems to be the Conservative Party that is out of touch with what Canadians truly want to see the government do. We now have a piece of legislation, within two years.

The member made reference to private members' bills. Would he not acknowledge that even within these two years, we have a minister who has taken a very proactive approach, recognizing that the economy and the environment are both important, a Liberal trademark? This legislation is a positive step forward, and we look forward to it going to committee.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree, and I did mention in my speech that this is a positive step. We welcome this legislation. I did caution about ministerial powers and exemption, and hope that the government listens to those concerns. I hope my comments will be listened to and taken to committee.

I agree that there has been a shift, a change. However, it is two years later, and we are still waiting for the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and Navigable Protection Act to be restored, as well as the NEB. We have waited for two years. Canadians are tired of waiting. The Liberals promised two years ago that they would make these changes.

Many major energy projects have gone through, including Kinder Morgan, under those same gutted environmental protection laws. While we concede that this is a step in the right direction, the Liberal government has a long way to go before it can say it is moving in terms of true environmental protections, including carrying out the promises it made in the 2015 election.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague not only for his speech today, but for his many years of championing the resources of Canada's coasts, particularly the west coast.

It is sometimes portrayed as just a bunch of environmentalists who care about tankers and tanker traffic off of British Columbia's west coast. However, when I had the pleasure of sitting in for the member at the fisheries and oceans committee, it was very clear that there is widespread concern among many organizations and groups, including commercial fishers and many others.

I would like to give my colleague the opportunity to share with us some of the people he hears from on a regular basis who are concerned about tanker traffic on the west coast, besides environmentalists.