Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak on Bill C-48, the oil tanker moratorium act. The name of the bill is actually quite curious, because when we look at the facts, we see that this piece of legislation has very little to do with banning oil tankers from the B.C. north coast and everything to do with continuing the government's hurtful campaign against pipeline and oil development throughout this country, and in particular in western Canada. Little is surprising in this regard. The Liberals arbitrarily shelved the northern gateway pipeline in 2016, forced the cancellation of the energy east pipeline in 2017, and continued to do as little as possible to support the development of the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline, which has been put on life support now, certainly in this month of May.
First, let us examine what the Liberals are saying this bill would do. Time and time again, we have heard in this chamber that Bill C-48 is about environmental protection, that by imposing this moratorium, the northern coast will be better protected, specifically against oil spills. They argue that a moratorium is the only way to safeguard against the problem and that this legislation is therefore the way forward. There are numerous and significant flaws with this jurisdiction, which mark it as both hollow and ill-advised.
First, there is an issue of consistency. Why are the Liberals targeting the B.C. north coast for a ban on oil tankers while they apparently ignore the presence of oil tankers along many other of our coasts in this country? Why are they making the arbitrary decision to limit the transport opportunities for oil along the north coast and not the south? This kind of moratorium does not exist along the St. Lawrence Seaway or in the Great Lakes, and it does not exist along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, or New Brunswick. It does not exist around Vancouver. The fact that Bill C-48 quite arbitrarily applies only to the B.C. north coast sheds serious doubt on the Liberal claim that the intention of this bill is environmental protection.
Second, this environmental jurisdiction fails to consider that a voluntary exclusion zone of 100 kilometres for oil tankers travelling from Alaska to Washington State has been in place since 1985. These preventive measures have already been taken, prior to any sort of moratorium being put in place by the government. Additionally, oil tankers operating at this distance from the coastline would continue to be unaffected by this legislation. Once again, we struggle to find any support for the arguments being put forward by the Liberals in favour of this bill.
Third, the Liberal argument that the oil tanker moratorium is the only way to protect the environment completely ignores the current and extensive regulatory framework that exists for oil tankers today travelling within our waters. Canada's oil tanker safety procedures and processes still remain one of the best in the world.
We recall 2014. The former Conservative government introduced and implemented many innovative measures to ensure that oil tankers operated under strict regulations and environmental protections. These measures included modernizing Canada's navigation system, enhancing area response planning, building increased marine safety capacity in first nation communities, and ensuring that polluters pay for any spills and damages since 2010.
Every large crude-oil tanker that operates in Canadian waters must be equipped now with a double hull, so any tanker in our waters is covered by two full layers of water-tight surfaces to ensure safety and environmental protection. Oil tankers are consistently monitored by our national aerial surveillance program, and our data-sharing and communication technologies rigorously guide oil tanker traffic across this country to reduce the risk of collisions.
Do these kinds of regulations and protections exist for tankers exporting oil from, let us say, Venezuela or Saudi Arabia? There is no way. Given the strong and extensive regulations that exist for oil tankers travelling through Canadian waters, it is very clear that any jurisdiction for a moratorium on oil tankers for environmental reasons is completely unfounded.
What, then, is this bill all about? The answer, of course, is that it is about the Liberals' ideological objective to restrict Canadian pipeline and energy development as much as possible. The bill can most accurately be described as a moratorium on any and all pipeline development along the coastline of northern B.C., and as a result, this legislation would kill any economic opportunities communities in this region would otherwise have due to the increased energy investment in that area. We are already seeing that. This ban would seriously hurt many, and I say many, first nation groups that have stood to gain from a pipeline in their area.
The Eagle Spirit pipeline is a $16-billion project that would stretch from Bruderheim, Alberta, to Grassy Point, along the northern coast of B.C., which would be forced to reroute to Hyder, Alaska, and its end point. If this pipeline ban is imposed, the Eagle Spirit pipeline project, directed by more than 30 first nations across northern B.C. and Alberta, and their communities stand to lose a major economic opportunity due to the Liberal government's ideological and political posturing.
Bill C-48 has been brought forward without any true or meaningful consultation with first nation communities, which would be severely impacted by the implementation of a pipeline ban in northern British Columbia.
I will quote Calvin Helin, the chairman of Eagle Spirit and a member of the Lax Kw'alaams first nation, who said, “First Nations are completely opposed to government policy being made by foreigners when it impacts their ability to help out their own people [on reserve]. The energy industry is critical to Canada’s economy”, which no doubt it is, “and by some reports we are losing [an unbelievable] $50 million a day”.
We are losing $50 million a day. That could be many schools and hospitals that we could build in Canada every single day.
It is simply unacceptable that the government refuses to consult with these groups to allow them to develop energy infrastructure, which would create significant economic opportunities in these communities. However, this behaviour coming from the Liberals is also unfortunately unsurprising, considering that it is the Liberal government that has overseen the largest decline in Canadian energy investment in the past 70 years. We have talked a lot in the House about $80 billion-plus taken out of the economy, along with jobs in the energy sector. Well over 110,000 workers are unemployed in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
A moratorium on pipelines in northern B.C. is just another example of the government's blatant hostility toward our energy sector and the jobs and economic opportunities it would supply to communities across this country. The government has used the justification of environmental protection as a smokescreen for its anti-Canadian energy policies. When this argument is held up against the facts, we see it for what it is: a desperate attempt to mask the Liberals' ideological agenda. There are no real winners as a result of the northern B.C. pipeline moratorium, except American consumers, who receive discounted prices on our Canadian oil.