moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their patience. I am anxious to do this because I do not get this opportunity nearly as often as I used to in the past. It is indeed a great pleasure to be able to speak to members about Bill C-14, the Canada Shipping Act, at third reading debate.
Before I discuss the bill I acknowledge the important role that members of the House and the standing committee played during the examination of the proposed legislation. Changes to Bill C-14 would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of industry. I also acknowledge the quality of their submissions to the committee.
This bill deals mainly with the safety and promotion of a safe environment. These are major priorities for Canadians. The challenge is to maintain safety and protect the environment against a number of threats while still promoting the health and viability of the shipping industry.
Officials from the Department of Transport and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans worked closely with all interested parties to ensure that the legislation's pollution prevention provisions are modern and consistent with other domestic and international standards. The departments have also worked together to ensure that the penalties for non-compliance would be effective and reflect those imposed in other legislation.
Let me point out to the House that when ship source pollution is detected in the marine environment, Transport Canada investigates in close co-operation with Environment Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard. It is clear that industry supports the departments as they move toward a brand new Canada Shipping Act. This legislation shows that this government is committed to deliver a new statute that will benefit the marine sector.
We have also heard an outline on the provisions of this bill, the compelling reasons for it and its many strengths. Transport Canada is very proud of the consultative process that has made the legislation possible.
While industry for the most part spoke in favour of the proposed bill, several remained in opposition to the enforcement scheme. It is to this scheme that I would now like to focus members' attention.
Bill C-14 would establish a streamlined administrative enforcement scheme. It would use modern, cost-effective means to secure compliance with regulatory requirements. The Department of Transport is committed to work with its partner agencies to ensure a consistent application of the enforcement measures contained in this bill.
The administrative penalty scheme would ensure that Transport Canada has a firm statistical base by which to assess the effectiveness of its regulations and help focus its enforcement activities.
Judicial fines have also been set at amounts high enough to deter unsafe and environmentally irresponsible practices. These amounts reflect the potential harm that can result from these practices. They would ensure that penalties would not be regarded as simply the cost of doing business.
This bill is a conscious effort to hold those responsible for non-compliance liable for the consequences of their actions, including corporation heads.
Nobody should be able to avoid personal liability by hiding behind a corporation.
The proposed system contained in this bill is fair. It would provide for a more efficient and less costly alternative to the courts. It would provide for an alternative to financial sanctions through the use of assurances of compliance.
This system would be based on the successful program of administrative penalties developed in the Aeronautics Act, the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act, and the Competition Act.
This House will recall that during second reading some concerns were raised about the government's ability to protect Canada from foreign vessels that failed to comply with international standards. I want to point out that in section 227 vessels that contravene international conventions relating to safety and the environment can be denied access to Canadian waters.
I will now speak about Part 15 of the bill, which deals with amendments to the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act. Part 15 of Bill C-14 contains several pro-competitive amendments. These amendments would encourage greater competition within shipping conferences.
The amendments strike a balance between the interests of shippers and conference shipping lines and are the result of an extensive consultation period with all stakeholders.
The amendments are aimed at streamlining the implementation of the act.
In response to shippers' concerns, a motion to amend the proposed legislation on service contracts was introduced. Modifications were made to clarify the level of confidentiality in regard to the service contracts shippers negotiate and sign with individual conference lines.
The government realizes that in order to protect various Canadian interests a balanced approach is needed with regard to the legislation on conferences.
It is in Canada's interest to continue to attract foreign shipping lines while at the same time encourage affordable ocean transportation and an adequate and reliable level of service for shippers.
By adopting the amendments to SCEA, Canadian legislation pertaining to shipping conferences would be maintained on par with our trading partners.
The bill before us would bring about much needed change in Canada's marine law. It would usher in a new era in marine safety and environmental protection.
Transport Canada has consulted widely. It listened to stakeholders and made changes to accommodate their concerns. We have a bill before us that responds to many of their concerns without jeopardizing the effectiveness of the legislation.
The bill is fair, thorough and effective. It would give Canada's marine industry the legislative framework it needs to operate successfully in the 21st century.
I urge the hon. members to support Bill C-14.