Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Kanata—Carleton.
It is indeed an honour to be a member of Parliament from British Columbia and to be able to stand in this House in support 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.
Residents and communities on Canada's west coast have been working toward this legislation for years, as reflected in the comments made by my colleague, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam. It is a key aspect of actions our government is taking to protect British Columbia's Pacific coastline and to advance our transportation 2030 vision to protect Canada's waterways and three ocean coasts.
The Government of Canada recognizes that the health and well-being of our oceans is vital for our communities, our environment, our economy, and the well-being of all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Canada has the largest coastline in the world, and it is critical that these vast stretches of coastline and marine environment be well protected to ensure that our oceans can continue to support a rich variety of sea life, and our lives too. We are all one.
Our oceans play an important role in Canada's economy, facilitating the movements of goods and people and enabling trade to protect our high standard of living. It was a distinct pleasure for me to attend recently at the expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert, for example, with the Minister of International Trade. The head of the Indiana railway said to me, “There isn't a shipper in Indiana that doesn't know the Port of Prince Rupert.”
That goes to show how integrated Canada's transport system really is.
In full respect for the importance of trade, British Columbians and Canadians are passionate about the importance of marine safety and protecting the marine environment, which is exactly why the creation of a world-leading marine safety system is central to our government's $1.5 billion oceans protection plan. This will ensure that future generations of Canadians will continue to share and benefit from fisheries, tourism, and traditional indigenous and community livelihoods and knowledge, as well as global trade.
To develop this plan, the Government of Canada undertook extensive consultations with Canadians across the country on how best to improve marine safety and formalize an oil tanker moratorium. This included discussions with indigenous peoples, stakeholders from the marine industry, the oil and gas sector, environmental groups, and all levels of government. These perspectives informed the measures of the moratorium outlined in Bill C-48 today.
I am very proud of the work that many in my riding and throughout British Columbia did to get us here today.
The proposed oil tanker moratorium is just one of several crucial and complementary measures this government is taking to protect our coastlines and oceans. The oceans protection plan will build a world-leading marine safety system that increases responsible shipping and protects Canada's waters, and it includes new preventive and response measures.
We are also taking steps to preserve and restore marine ecosystems and habitats by using new tools and research. To support this work, we are building a stronger evidence base, supported by science and local knowledge. We are investing in oil spill cleanup research and methods to ensure that decisions taken in emergencies are based on the best information possible.
We are strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities to benefit from local knowledge of the region and to build local emergency response capacity.
These efforts and actions are national in scope, but I would like to be permitted to focus on specific measures designed to protect British Columbia's northern coast.
I would like to remind my hon. colleagues that our government has instituted a concentrated campaign to inspect tugs and barges in the province to ensure that tugs and barges, including those working in community and industry re-supply, comply with all safety regulations.
Preventing accidents from occurring in the first place is our primary goal. This is the main idea behind the steps our government is taking to build a strong prevention regime that enhances marine safety.
For example, we will be providing mariners, indigenous groups, and coastal communities in British Columbia with improved marine traffic and navigation information. This includes designing new information-sharing systems and platforms so they have access to real-time information on marine shipping activities in local waters.
We want to provide maritime situational awareness of who is doing what, and where—which is easier said than done—in a user-friendly way to benefit the safety and protection of British Columbia's coastline.
A first-of-its-kind program will fund initiatives to test new ways to bring local marine traffic information to indigenous and local communities from existing open source information from ports, the Canadian Coast Guard, and other government systems. This will not only help to prevent accidents but will also engage indigenous peoples and local communities with a real, important, and vital role in ensuring responsible shipping.
The oceans protection plan is also making investments so that a proactive, timely, and effective response can be mounted when incidents occur. This would mean enhanced search and rescue capabilities in British Columbia, including four new lifeboat stations and improved communication capacity. The Canadian Coast Guard would be increasing its towing capacity by equipping its large vessels with towing kits. It would also lease two large vessels on the B.C. coast capable of towing large commercial ships that are in distress and pose a hazard to navigation and the marine environment. This would improve Canada's ability to effectively respond to incidents, save lives, and protect the environment.
Beyond protecting marine ecosystems, our government is committed to restoring them. We would establish coastal zone plans and identify restoration priorities that would engage indigenous communities as well as local groups. Furthermore, we are working to understand the threat marine transportation poses to marine mammals and we will examine how to diminish these effects—for instance, by understanding how to reduce the threat whales face from noise and potential collisions from commercial traffic along the B.C. coast. The government would also fund research on the impacts of increased shipping on marine ecosystems, which would better position us to protect these mammals.
Strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities is a key element of the oceans protection plan. With the plan, as well as the oil tanker moratorium, B.C. indigenous communities would know that there is the highest level of protection possible on their coasts and that they will have a real opportunity to be partners in the marine safety regime. This means taking training in search and rescue missions, environmental monitoring, and emergency spill response. It also means that our government would work with indigenous and coastal communities to create regional response plans for the west coast and pursue shared leadership opportunities in other areas. As one example, this might mean creating local traffic management areas to minimize safety risks and environmental impacts.
Ensuring that indigenous groups play a leading role in decision-making processes is also a major goal of the oceans protection plan. We have demonstrated this commitment with the new Pacific region place of refuge contingency plan, which was developed in collaboration with the Council of the Haida Nation and provincial and federal partners.
We believe that we are demonstrating that by working together, we can more effectively manage and protect our marine environment across Canada. By formalizing an oil tanker moratorium on the north coast of British Columbia, the government is delivering on our commitment to develop a world-leading marine safety system, one that will meet or surpass the marine safety practices of other countries. I am confident that by collaborating with the provinces, indigenous groups, environmental NGOs, and other interested stakeholders, we have found an approach that demonstrates that a healthy environment and a strong economy can go hand in hand.
On a more personal note, I would like to say that it is a testament to the people of British Columbia that we are at second reading for an oil tanker moratorium act, and we are very grateful for the leadership of the Minister of Transport, his parliamentary secretary, and his collaborators in cabinet.