Mr. Speaker, I was saying that my former colleague, Sheila Malcolmson, introduced Bill C-352, which proposed several solutions to the problem of wrecks in coastal areas. That bill never saw the light of day and could not be debated in the House of Commons because the Minister of Transport did not want the bill to be debated. My colleague was nevertheless very humble and wanted to work with the government and the Minister of Transport to make amendments to Bill C-64. The Liberals rejected 12 of the 13 amendments she proposed. When it comes to democracy, the Liberals say they want to do what is in the interest of the public and all Canadians, but we can see that they are not true to their word.
Several hundred vessels are rotting in Canadian waters, from British Columbia to Beauharnois-Salaberry to Newfoundland. In light of the melting of glaciers and the opening up of the Northwest Passage, a bill that protects our coastal communities and manages the dismantling of abandoned vessels is long overdue.
As members know, my riding has not been immune to this scourge. I am pleased to speak in the House, for what I hope is the last time, about the Kathryn Spirit, which, after seven years of hard work, has finally been dismantled. It risked compromising the drinking water supply for the people of Beauharnois and also for the people of the greater Montreal area, which is what galvanized everyone.
The Senate amended the bill, but it unfortunately did not talk about the amendments the NDP wanted to propose. The Senate essentially did the same thing as the government did with our amendments. It ignored the amendments that the Liberals had rejected.
However, Bill C-64 also contains some good measures. Any corporation that breaks the law can be prosecuted and ordered to pay a fine of $100,000 to $6 million. Those responsible could face additional fines or a maximum prison sentence of three years. Any vessels of 300 gross tonnage and above must have wreck insurance , which should seriously reduce the chances of another situation like that of the Kathryn Spirit from happening again.
I would like to remind members of what happened in the case of the Kathryn Spirit, an old bulk carrier that was 153 metres long and of 9,261 gross tonnage acquired by Groupe St-Pierre. That vessel was 30 times bigger than the limit set out in this bill. The bulk carrier contained thousands of litres of crude oil and hundreds of kilograms of asbestos, PCBs and other hazardous products.
Over the past seven years, I have spoken to the House on this subject more than 30 times. I have also sent letters and suggested solutions to the Ministers of Transport, Fisheries and Oceans, and Environment. I started while the Conservatives were in power and kept going when the Liberals took office. It took us seven years of hard work, but we finally won, thanks to the collaboration of local residents, the media, successive mayors and my team, which I am very proud of. We never gave up.
If the fines prove to be an effective deterrent, I hope the regulations will ensure that certain problems can be avoided. There was a lot of buck passing between Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. No one was sure who was responsible for this file. I hope the regulations will enable us to avoid taking action at the last minute and instead take action before disaster strikes. For instance, some work had to be done when the wreck started listing dangerously in 2016, leaning so heavily to one side that government officials thought it might fall all the way over. Four steel cables had to be installed. One even started to fray, causing sparks. There were fears that the ship could go up in flames in 2016.
It is important to ensure that all of the liquids have been pumped out and do not refill the hold. For example, halfway through the summer of 2016, it was discovered that thousands of litres of contaminated water had been left in the holds.
The last thing I want to mention, though not the least because the consequences are serious, is that we need to act according to the polluter pays principle. The Liberal government proclaims that it believes in this principle and hammers that point home when it talks about carbon pricing.
When it came time to choose companies to dismantle the ship, the government chose to give two contracts to the very company that abandoned the ship on the banks of Lake Saint-Louis, in Beauharnois. Groupe St-Pierre, the company that moored the ship, was granted two contracts worth a total of $20 million. What is wrong with this picture?
Would it be acceptable for the government to pay me to remove my own trash that I leave behind on my own property and in my neighbour's yard? I do not think so.
That is what the government did for Groupe St-Pierre. Jean-René Dufort did a fine job reporting on this on the show Infoman.
The irony of Bill C-64 is that the transport minister's program to dismantle abandoned ships will cost $1.5 million a year over five years. What a joke.
As I just said, the Kathryn Spirit alone cost Canadian taxpayers more than $24 million. The budget set out in Bill C-64 for all abandoned vessels in Canada was blown out of the water by a single ship. That is ridiculous. It is also completely irresponsible of the Liberal government when it knows that there are thousands of wrecks across Canada that must be removed and are waiting to be dismantled. This budget is a drop in the ocean.
It is too bad that the minister rejected almost all of the proposed amendments made by my former colleague Sheila Malcolmson in committee.
I can describe them after question period. I see that my time is up for now.