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

South Surrey—White Rock and Bonavista—Burin—TrinityVacanciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find unanimous consent in the House for me to move the following motion: that the House honour its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states in article 1 that all peoples have the right of self-determination, and condemn the violent repression orchestrated by the Spanish government during the Catalonia referendum of October 1, 2017.

South Surrey—White Rock and Bonavista—Burin—TrinityVacanciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

South Surrey—White Rock and Bonavista—Burin—TrinityVacanciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

South Surrey—White Rock and Bonavista—Burin—TrinityVacanciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

There is no unanimous consent.

South Surrey—White Rock and Bonavista—Burin—TrinityVacanciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Since the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs was not aware of the specifics of the case I referenced in my question, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to table these court documents that state, from the survivors' lawyers, “The federal government has asked for a court to declare that former Indian residential school students have no right to a fair hearing when their claims are heard for the physical and sexual abuse they suffered.” How is it possible that the government would ask for such a thing?

South Surrey—White Rock and Bonavista—Burin—TrinityVacanciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table the document?

South Surrey—White Rock and Bonavista—Burin—TrinityVacanciesOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 2nd, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand today to present a petition from the youth in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, from Salmo, Nelson, Winlaw, and Creston, expressing concerns around climate change. They want the government to fulfill Canada's obligation under the Paris accord by including a strategy that has science-based targets for greenhouse gas reductions, eliminates fossil fuel subsidies, carbon pricing at $150 a tonne by 2030, and invests in renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, low-carbon transportation, and job training. They are asking that the government do this in order to avert disastrous climate change.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by people who live all along the Thames River. As everyone knows, the Thames River is a magnificent heritage river that runs through my riding. These petitioners are very concerned that the Conservative government stripped environmental regulations that covered the navigable waters act, leaving the river vulnerable, and that the current government has failed to reinstate the environmental protections needed in order to protect that river. Therefore, they call on the government to support my private member's bill, Bill C-355, and commit to the protection of the Thames River by amending the Navigation Protection Act.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

moved that 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, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, the 400 kilometre stretch of coastal temperate rainforest running along British Columbia's northern coast is one of nature's truly spectacular sites. It is beloved by all Canadians and global visitors who share their determination to preserve and protect this land from potential oil spills. I am here today to speak to the proposed legislation designed to do just that. It is my pleasure to outline the rationale for, and benefits of, Bill C-48, the oil tanker moratorium act. In addition, the proposed act fulfills our government's pledge to formalize an oil tanker moratorium on British Columbia's north coast.

Canada has a robust marine safety regime and a strong track record of marine safety. An oil tanker moratorium has been proposed and discussed by the Canadian public and in the House of Commons, by all parties, for years. I am proud that this government is delivering on important environmental protections for the coastline around Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, and Queen Charlotte Sound.

The proposed oil tanker moratorium act would take concrete action to address these risks. This legislation covers all ports and marine installations located in northern British Columbia. The moratorium area would extend from our border with the United States in the north, down to the point on British Columbia's mainland adjacent to the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The area also includes Haida Gwaii. In keeping with our government's commitment, we would protect the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, and Queen Charlotte Sound from a major oil spill.

At the core of the legislation are prohibitions on oil tankers carrying large volumes of crude oil or persistent oil. Oil tankers with more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude oil or persistent oil on board as cargo would not be permitted to stop at ports or marine installations within this area. Oil tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude or persistent oil as cargo would also be prohibited from loading or unloading any crude or persistent oil at a port or marine installation within this area.

In addition, the bill would prohibit what the maritime industry calls ship-to-ship transfers in an attempt to circumvent the moratorium. By this I mean that smaller vessels would not be permitted to load up with crude oil or persistent oil and transport it to or from a large oil tanker.

That said, these changes would not affect community and industry resupply. We have listened to the concerns of local communities. Many rely on some of these oils for heating and local industries. We also recognize that many communities are inaccessible by road or rail and can only receive these oils by ship, including the communities on Haida Gwaii.

I want to be clear. To accommodate community and industry resupply, this legislation would not prohibit shipments of crude oil or persistent oil below 12,500 metric tonnes. This threshold would allow existing resupply shipments to north coast communities and industries to continue.

These comprehensive measures are the result of extensive consultations on the moratorium. We listened closely to Canadians and came to the conclusion that a precautionary approach to the products included in the moratorium is crucial. Accordingly, we have included both crude oils and persistent oils.

To provide clarity, crude oil is defined in the legislation. It is based on the definition used in an important international maritime convention, namely the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. This definition will be familiar to individuals working in the shipping industry.

Persistent oils are those oils that are heavier and stickier. When these oils are spilled, they tend to break up and dissipate more slowly, fouling birds, wildlife, and shorelines. These oils include partially upgraded bitumen, synthetic crude oil, and marine diesel oil, among others.

I think you can understand our decision to include them. These persistent oils were identified using an internationally recognized test for persistence that is based on boiling-point range and are listed in a schedule to the act.

As members know, the Government of Canada takes environmental protection and public safety very seriously. This proposed legislation, which complements our larger strategy to promote marine safety and coastal protection under the oceans protection plan, confirms it.

The oceans protection plan would create a world-leading marine safety system, which would do more to prevent damaging incidents and be better able to respond quickly and efficiently in the unlikely event of a crisis. As part of this plan, we are investing in new preventative and response measures to better protect our waters and coasts. This includes oil spill cleanup, and science and technology.

With the breakneck pace of technological evolution, there may well be advances in oil spill science and technology in the future. Understanding this, amendments to the schedule on persistent oils could be undertaken under Bill C-48. Any such changes would follow a review that would consider the fate and behaviour of oil products in water and the state of cleanup technology.

Environmental safety and science will always be the main considerations in revising the product list. Any amendment to the schedule to add or remove a product would be made by the Governor in Council.

To reinforce just how seriously we take these matters, the oil tanker moratorium act also includes reporting requirements and stiff penalties in the event of contraventions. Oil tankers capable of carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of oil will be required to report pre-arrival information on the cargo they are carrying, or picking up, from a port or marine installation located within the moratorium area.

This information must be submitted 24 hours before calling at our ports or marine installations. This requirement will ensure we know the types and quantities of oil travelling in our waters.

I want to reassure shippers that the reporting burden will be kept to a minimum by aligning requirements with existing reporting processes. The only additional requirement will be for oil tankers capable of carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of oil to report the specific type of oil being carried and the amount of this product that will be loaded or unloaded at a marine installation in northern British Columbia.

Make no mistake. If there is any concern, the government will have strong directive and inspection powers. Oil tankers can be directed to provide more information. They also can be directed not to come into a port or marine installation in northern British Columbia if it is believed they do not comply with this reporting requirement. Transport Canada has trained, professional marine inspectors already working on the north coast of British Columbia who enforce our existing marine legislation. These inspectors will carry out new enforcement activities under the proposed oil tanker moratorium act.

The powers these inspectors will have under this act are similar to the authorities they have under existing marine legislation, such as the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, and environmental protection legislation, such as the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. If necessary, these inspectors will have the authority to board an oil tanker and take samples or conduct tests on the oil to verify compliance with the act. If a marine inspector has reasonable grounds to believe the legislation has been violated, the inspector can have the oil tanker detained while an investigation is launched.

Safety is our top priority. Lest anyone doubt that, consider just how seriously we will treat violations. There are strong penalties if an oil tanker is found to have committed an offence under this act. We are supporting this moratorium with an enforcement regime that could result in fines of up to $5 million for offenders.

These strong measures are what Canadians want and expect.

The measures of the oil tanker moratorium act that I have described today were very much informed by the voices of Canadians. Beginning in January 2016, I undertook a series of engagement sessions with Canadians from coast to coast to coast. I did this to listen to their concerns and views on how to improve marine safety in Canada and how to formalize an oil tanker moratorium, two of my priorities as the Minister of Transport.

I met with indigenous groups all along the north coast of British Columbia, as well as inland indigenous groups. I also met with environmental non-governmental organizations, the marine and resource industries, and communities from across Canada. Participants welcomed us into their communities to discuss a broad range of marine transportation issues. Many more citizens across Canada logged on to our website to leave comments on the oil tanker moratorium.

They had a lot to say. Individuals and communities want to be more engaged in our marine safety system. They want more information on the products being moved in our waters. I also heard how coastal indigenous groups are often first on the scene in responding to marine emergencies and that if they had better equipment and training, they could reduce the potential impact of marine emergencies or pollution incidents, such as an oil spill.

People also offered their ideas on the moratorium boundaries, the oil products to be prohibited, and the types of vessels that should be covered by the moratorium. I met with colleagues from provincial and municipal governments as well to hear their views on improving marine safety and formalizing a tanker moratorium. We discussed ways to strengthen our partnership to benefit the economy and the environment, because we share a common goal to keep our economy strong and to protect the environment and we understand that marine safety is a precondition to sustainable economic development. We all recognize that it is vital to deliver our products to global markets to improve the economic prospects for middle-class Canadians and to receive goods from all four corners of the world that Canadian consumers depend on. We also realize that it is equally crucial that those products be shipped in an environmentally responsible way. Canadians have been clear that they expect no less, and I could not agree more.

This act is part of our larger plan to protect our coasts—to ensure they remain clean and safe, vibrant and diverse, accessible and sustainable—while growing our economy.

Our government has introduced a suite of measures to protect Canada's coasts and waterways. The moratorium complements existing measures, such as the voluntary tanker exclusion zone on the west coast of Canada.

The exclusion zone is a voluntary agreement between Canada and the United States that has been in place since the 1980s. Oil tankers full of crude oil that are transiting between Alaska and Washington or California must transit west of the zone boundary. The zone boundary extends up to 70 nautical miles offshore and then narrows to about 25 nautical miles around the Juan de Fuca Strait as oil tankers enter U.S. waters.

Laden oil tankers stay west of this boundary to protect the environment and coastline should one of these oil tankers become disabled. Transiting west of the tanker exclusion zone allows emergency response services to assist a disabled oil tanker before it can get close to shore.

This has been a successful measure that, every year, keeps approximately 300 laden crude oil tankers at a safe distance from Canadian shores. While the tanker exclusion zone is voluntary, our monitoring indicates that it is being fully observed by all American tankers.

In addition, as I noted earlier, this past fall our government announced that it would be investing in a $1.5-billion comprehensive national oceans protection plan. This plan has four priority areas.

First, the government of Canada will create a world-leading marine safety system that improves responsible shipping and protects Canada’s waters. World-leading means the system will meet or exceed the best practices in the world. This area focuses on both prevention and response measures.

Second, our government is focusing on the preservation and restoration of marine ecosystems and habitats. This is being done using new tools and research, as well as measures to address abandoned and derelict vessels and wrecks.

The third priority is building and strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities. The government is helping to build local capacity so that indigenous groups play a meaningful role in emergency response and waterway management.

Finally, this government will ensure that Canada’s marine safety system is built on a stronger evidence base supported by science and local knowledge.

Canadians are blessed with some of the most spectacular coastlines in the world, places of raw beauty and ecological diversity. Our new oceans protection plan would safeguard our coastlines and marine environment so that iconic places like British Columbia's northern coastline remain proud elements of our national identity that can be enjoyed today and for generations to come. Once passed by Parliament, our oil tanker moratorium act would provide important environmental protection for British Columbia's north coast, something many Canadians have sought for years.

I am proud to lead this initiative, and I want to extend my thanks to my colleagues who have contributed to it: the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Minister of Natural Resources, and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. I am sure that they join me in calling for a constructive debate on this critical piece of legislation by all members of the House.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, legislation has been coming fast and furious from this minister, and I can imagine that he wants to get something done so that the Liberals can say their government actually accomplished some of the things that they promised to do. However, this would be one promise that we ask the government to think very carefully about.

As the minister noted, currently there is a voluntary moratorium on tanker traffic. It has been in place since the 1980s and it covers the area that would be affected by this bill. Regardless of whether one philosophically agrees with this voluntary moratorium, it appears to have been working. Since Bill C-48 would do nothing to change the current situation in regard to tanker traffic travelling up and down B.C.'s coast, why is the minister wasting the House's time with this smokescreen of a bill?

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, yes, the exclusion zone has been in place since the 1980s, but we made an election promise to Canadians that we would also exclude specific zones along the coast: Hecate Strait, the Dixon Entrance, and Queen Charlotte Sound. Specifically, we did not want to allow massive amounts of tanker traffic to be operating in those zones going into Canadian ports. That is a new element in this bill, and it would ensure that the moratorium would satisfy the requirement not to have lots of maritime traffic within the exclusion zone.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby South, BC

Mr. Speaker, protecting B.C.'s coast is very important to all of us, but British Columbians have perhaps a different idea of protecting our coast.

This minister was part of a cabinet that approved and signed off on the Kinder Morgan pipeline that runs to our west coast and to which this moratorium does not apply.

A minister within that cabinet, the natural resources minister, said that he would send in the army to facilitate the construction of that pipeline. I wonder if this minister agrees. Is he willing to violate the rights of British Columbians in order to build pipelines to the west coast?

Further, the Union of British Columbia Chiefs has said it has 25,000 people signed up to protest, using any means possible. I wonder if this minister feels comfortable using army and defence forces to arrest first nations people on reserves just for trying to protect our coast.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, of course I am here to talk about the moratorium bill, Bill C-48. I am very proud that it covers the regions from the United States-Canada border in the north right down to the point that is roughly aligned with the northern tip of Vancouver Island. This is a pristine area for which we promised we would establish a moratorium for tanker traffic, and we are keeping that promise.

British Columbia's economy and environment are important along its entire coast. That is why we are particularly proud of having brought in the oceans protection plan, which will put in place world-leading marine safety measures to ensure that the economic development of British Columbia continues but does so with an eye to ensuring the highest levels of environmental safety.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, more than 750,000 barrels of oil come into the eastern coast of Canada every single year, and close to 3,900 tankers come down the eastern coast of Canada, whether around New Brunswick or the St. Lawrence River. That number is closer to about 240 tankers off the west coast of B.C., which accounts for 1.43% of the commercial shipping traffic off the west coast. These are statistics from Transport Canada.

My question for the minister is this: why is there such a strong stand to impede the economic abilities of the west coast when there does not seem to be a similar concern about Canada's east coast, or are we going to be looking at a tanker moratorium off the coast of New Brunswick down the road as well, as another opportunity to block energy east down the road?

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, British Columbians and Canadians in general have been telling us for a long time that they want to have a moratorium on oil tanker traffic on the north coast of British Columbia. We made that promise in the 2015 election. We are keeping that promise.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate hearing about what the minister has been doing concerning consultations with first nations groups. I would like to hear some of his ideas surrounding the criteria, and if he could explain further some of the criteria that were used to determine whether a nation-to-nation relationship and consultation had occurred.

Also, I would like to hear more about the consultation with the environment minister and Parks Canada to ensure that this proposal fits into a global vision for what needs to occur to protect our environment.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

It is a large question, but certainly I have spent a great deal of time speaking to various coastal nations in the affected area of the north coast of British Columbia, starting with the Nisga'a in the very north around Dixon Entrance; the Metlakatla; the Lax-kw'alaams; the Haida, of course, who have very strong opinions on this; the Heiltsuk; the Haisla; and various other groups as well, including some first nations that are inland.

If the member is asking me if everyone agreed 100% on the moratorium, I would say that there is a range of varying opinions, but by and large, the majority of the indigenous peoples that we consulted—and these are people who have been living on the coast for millennia—felt very strongly that it was important to protect this pristine area of Canada. Environmental activists and the NGOs felt the same way as we did. There were some differences of opinion within the shipping industry, and I can understand their arguments, but there is still very much the possibility to have a very active, economically progressive, and growing shipping industry in the southern part of British Columbia, as well as in the northern part, for traffic other than tanker traffic.

Oil Tanker Moratorium ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister and his government's introduction of this legislation. It formalizes an informal ban that has existed for many years on the B.C. north coast. However, one concern that we heard loud and clear with its introduction is with respect to ministerial discretion. The bill gives the minister quite a bit of latitude to exempt certain projects for any length of time and for any scale of project. Does the minister agree that ministerial discretion and a minister's ability to exempt certain projects should be a concern?