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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was aboriginal.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Kenora (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Energy Safety and Security Act September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question and her participation in this debate.

At every turn throughout this debate, we have had an opportunity to look at legislation tabled here today, and in previous debates, that talks about a world-class liability regime. In getting to that point, we have had every opportunity to hear from experts.

There is plenty of information out there for us to rely on in order to advance the debate on this important and timely subject matter.

Energy Safety and Security Act September 15th, 2014

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome all members of this place back, and in addition, the new members.

It is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to discuss how our government has taken action to strengthen energy safety and security in Canada's offshore and nuclear energy industries.

The health and safety of Canadians and of our environment is of the utmost importance to our government.

In the Speech from the Throne we pledged that no resource development would proceed unless safe for Canadians and safe for the environment. In other words, no development would proceed unless rigorous environmental protection and health and safety measures were in place. That is the goal of Bill C-22. The legislation builds on Canada's already strong record of safety and security in the nuclear and offshore industries, and it will ensure that Canada's thriving energy sector will continue to grow.

One of the key features of the energy safety and security legislation is the $1-billion protection it provides to Canadians. The legislation would raise the absolute liability limits in both offshore and nuclear sectors to $1 billion. These changes would ensure that Canada continues to have world-class regulatory regimes. As hon. members know, Canada's liability regime is founded on the polluter pays principle. With Bill C-22, we are enshrining this principle into legislation for the first time. The bottom line is that Canadian taxpayers and the Government of Canada will not have to foot the bill in the unlikely, perhaps rare, event of a spill.

The Canadian offshore oil and gas industry is booming and provides many economic benefits for Canada's Atlantic region, including thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.

From an economic perspective, activities in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore accounted for about 28% of the nominal provincial gross domestic product in 2012. In the Nova Scotia offshore, they represented about 3% of the provincial GDP.

Canada collected an impressive $8.4 billion in royalties from the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore and $2 billion from the Nova Scotia offshore and transferred those funds to these respective provincial governments. I am sure they appreciated that. Offshore development is currently one of the fastest growing sectors in Canada. Right now there are five major projects under way in the Atlantic offshore, another project under construction with initial production slated for 2017, a major prospect in the Flemish Pass, and several major exploration projects under way.

Atlantic Canada currently produces about 200,000 barrels of oil a day. That is about 15% of Canada's conventional crude oil production and seven million cubic litres a day of natural gas. Put another way, that is enough to heat about 950,000 Canadian homes for one year.

There are still opportunities for the oil and gas industry. Our country has the resources to help meet international demand for energy, which is expected to increase by one-third by 2035.

Most of that growth in demand is coming from emerging economies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Few countries are developing natural resources on the scale and at the pace of Canada. There are hundreds of major natural resource projects under construction or planned for the next 10 years. These are worth approximately $675 billion in investment.

The Government of Canada shares the management of the offshore with the governments of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Companies operating in Canada's offshore have an excellent track record. Every stage of offshore oil and gas project development, from exploration to production, is managed and regulated by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board or the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

These boards ensure that operators exercise due diligence to prevent spills in Canada's offshore. With this in mind, we work closely with these two provinces to update and expand legislation to ensure that Canada's offshore regime remains world class.

Canada's environmental safety record in the Atlantic offshore, for example, is already very strong. In fact, some 73 million barrels of oil are produced in the region each year, without a significant spill since production began in 1997. Our plan for responsible resource development strengthens environmental protection by focusing resources on the review of major projects. We have put forward new measures, new fines, to punish those who would break Canada's rigorous environmental protections. We have also increased the number of inspections and comprehensive audits of federally regulated pipelines.

What is more, we are bringing in tough new measures for oil tankers to ensure the safe transport of energy resources through our waterways. These measures include the introduction of the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act and the formation of an expert tanker safety regime and proposed ways to strengthen it. Building on these measures with Bill C-22, our government is taking tangible steps to make our robust liability regime and its great record even stronger.

Our proposed changes focus on four key areas: prevention, response, accountability, and transparency. They will help further strengthen safety and security to prevent incidents and ensure a swift response in the rare or unlikely event of a spill. As I mentioned, our liability regime is founded on the polluter pays principle.

First, we are proposing to enshrine this principle in the legislation and to maintain unlimited liability when an operator is found to be at fault. This will clearly establish that polluters will be held accountable.

Second, we will ensure that the liability limits reflect modern standards. Under the current regime, offshore operators in the Atlantic have absolute liability of $30 million. Given the value of this resource and the boom currently under way in offshore exploration and production, most members, I think, can agree that this amount needs to be raised. That is why we are increasing the benchmark to $1 billion with this bill. In this way, Canada's benchmark remains among the highest in the world.

In addition to increasing the absolute liability in the Atlantic from $30 million to $1 billion, our government is also increasing the absolute liability in the Arctic from $40 million to $1 billion. Fault or negligence does not have to be proven for operators to be responsible for that amount of damage or compensation. I think that is important.

Let us move to a discussion, then, of financial capacity.

We must also ensure that companies operating offshore have the financial capacity to meet their obligations.

Before any offshore drilling or production can take place, companies have to prove that they can cover the financial liabilities and damages that may result from a spill. Currently the financial capacity requirements range from $250 million to $500 million, with $30 million to be held in trust for working in the Atlantic offshore and $40 million for working in the Arctic offshore. This deposit is held in trust by the offshore regulator as a letter of credit, guarantee, or bond. These amounts will increase to $1 billion for financial capacity and $100 million to be held in trust per offshore project. These are significant resources that I think go a long way to help build public confidence.

Furthermore, we are taking steps to create greater transparency in the offshore industry. With this in mind, we are making emergency planning, environmental plans, and other documents filed with regulators available to the general public. This will ensure that operators make protecting Canadians and the environment their first priority.

These are just some of the ways we are protecting Canadian taxpayers by ensuring that Canada has one of the strongest offshore liability regimes in the world.

In fact, with the passage of this legislation, Canada's offshore liability will be among the most stringent in the world. We will ensure that only those companies with an interest in operating safely and securely and with the financial wherewithal to address any problems will be able to comply.

I would like to spend some time talking about nuclear liability, the second piece of this act.

Canada's nuclear industry is also a critical component of our energy resource mix. This industry accounts for 30,000 high-quality jobs and helps make Canada's electricity supply among the cleanest in the world.

Electricity from nuclear energy powers our homes, our businesses, our cities and even our cars. In fact, nuclear energy is helping reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 89 million tonnes a year, which is the equivalent of over 18 million cars.

Our country is recognized the world over as a leader in nuclear energy for a number of important reasons. For one, Canada's nuclear industry boasts an impressive safety record. It has operated safely and securely for over 50 years. In fact, there has never been a single claim under Canada's nuclear liability act.

We have robust technology, a well-trained workforce, and rigorous regulatory requirements. The industry is supported by legislation, such as the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, and is overseen by the independent expertise of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

What most Canadians probably do not realize is that Canada's nuclear liability regime is already nearly 40 years old, young by anyone's standard in this place, I am sure. However, times and standards have changed when it comes to the nuclear industry. Clearly, this legislation needs to be brought into the modern age.

As a responsible government, we must ensure that our system is up to date and that it can respond to any incidents. That is why we have brought in a bill to modernize Canada's nuclear liability regime.

This new legislation will increase the amount of compensation available to address civil damage from $75 million to $1 billion. We believe that the $1-billion figure strikes the right balance between protecting Canadian taxpayers and holding companies accountable in the event of an accident. The amount is also in line with current international standards.

The proposed legislation maintains the key principle of absolute and exclusive liability for operators of nuclear facilities for injury and damage. This means that the liability of the operator will be unqualified and undivided. There will be no need to prove fault, and no one else will be held liable.

These are big numbers we are talking about. In fact, nuclear insurers have indicated that a $1-billion liability limit would mean an increase in premiums of five to eight times the amount operators are currently paying. If we take, for example, some of the operators in Ontario who have several reactors at their nuclear power plants, they currently pay premiums in the neighbourhood of up to $1.2 million for a $75 million insurance policy. Under this legislation, they would be required to pay annual premiums of up to $10 million for a $1 billion insurance policy.

What about the cost to ratepayers? Based on average monthly electricity consumption by Ontario households of 1,000 kilowatts an hour, the impact of the increased insurance would amount to a very small amount. In fact, it would be roughly less than $2 per year.

As for compensation, Bill C-22 will broaden the definition of compensable damage to include physical injury, economic loss, preventative measures, and environmental damage. It will also extend the limitation period for submitting compensation claims for bodily injury from 10 years to 30 years. This will help address any latent illnesses that may only be detected years later, after an accident. It is another important way our government is protecting the health and safety of Canadians.

Bill C-22 would significantly improve the claims compensation process, increase the financial liability of nuclear operators for damages and provide greater legal certainty for Canada's nuclear industry. Ultimately, these reforms would boost public confidence, Canadians' confidence in the safety and responsibility of the industry as a whole.

Our government is taking these concrete steps to address other important issues for the nuclear sector. This includes responsibly managing legacy waste, restructuring Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and promoting international trade.

Let us talk about international efforts.

As hon. members know, when we talk about nuclear energy, we are talking about a global issue that knows no borders. With Bill C-22, we are implementing the provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. This convention is an international instrument to address nuclear civil liability in the rare and unlikely event of a nuclear incident.

By adhering to these additional international standards, Canada will bolster its domestic compensation regime by up to $450 million by bringing in significant new funding. This will bring the total potential compensation in Canada up to $1.45 billion.

Joining this convention will reinforce our commitment to building a strong, global, nuclear liability regime.

This underscores how important this Canadian bill is, not only with respect to financial issues, but also in other areas, such as clarifying what constitutes a nuclear incident.

These changes will also help provide greater certainty for Canadian nuclear supply companies that want to market their services in a country that is a member of the convention.

Given that our closest neighbour, the United States, is already a member, our membership will allow the two countries to establish civil liability treaty relations.

Korea and Japan have also signalled their intention to join the convention. Once Canada becomes a member, the convention will be one step closer to becoming a reality.

In conclusion, our government believes that economic prosperity and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive goals. They can and they do go hand in hand. The legislation we are debating today is designed to do just that.

This bill will ensure that Canada's energy resources are developed safely and responsibly and that the environment is protected.

The energy safety and security act would provide a solid framework to regulate the offshore and nuclear liability regimes in Canada and to ensure they would remain world class. It sends a strong signal to the world that Canada is a safe and responsible supplier of energy resources and that Canada, at the same time, is open for business.

That is why I want to urge all hon. members to support this important legislation. I have appreciated the debate in previous sittings, and I look forward to responding to questions from my colleagues at this time.

Forestry Industry June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for asking a question on an important economic driver for rural communities across Canada.

This government understands how important forestry is for job creation and economic growth and the protection of those forests. I am proud that economic action plan 2014 builds on the government's success by focusing on innovation, protecting forests from the threat of pests, and on diversifying markets for our forest products. We have increased softwood lumber exports to China tenfold.

These are successes that we should be applauding.

Natural Resources June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our decision is based on the conclusions of an independent science and fact-based review panel. We have proposed 209 stringent conditions to ensure this project meets the highest standards. The panel heard from nearly 1,500 participants, 21 communities and reviewed more than 175,000 pages of evidence.

There is no question that the proponent has more work to do with communities along the route.

Natural Resources June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the proponent has more work to do to re-engage all communities along the route. Our government is working to build a stronger relationship with Canada's first nations. A response to the Eyford report is a first important step to building a relationship with first nation communities. The natural resource sector is the largest private employer of first nations people in Canada.

First nations have, and will continue, to benefit and contribute to the environmental stewardship and economic benefits of responsible resource development.

Natural Resources June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canada's environmental standards are stronger than ever. We appreciate the hard work of these independent, science and fact-based panels to do their important work.

We have improved pipeline, marine and offshore safety and are ensuring that companies, not taxpayers, are held responsible in the remote case of an incident. The provinces and territories agree. Important progress is being made to reform our regulatory system and strengthen environmental protection.

Natural Resources June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we have been clear. The projects will only move forward if they are safe for the environment and safe for Canadians.

After carefully reviewing the independent regulator's science and fact-based report, the government accepts the recommendation from the panel to impose 209 conditions upon the project. It will be up to the proponent to show the regulator, to show Canadians that these conditions have been met.

Natural Resources June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our decision is based upon the conclusions of an independent, science and fact-based review panel. After carefully reviewing the report, the government is accepting the recommendation to impose 200 stringent conditions upon the project.

Our government has always been clear. The projects will only be approved if they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.

Natural Resources June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the proponent has more work to do to re-engage with communities along this route. Our government is working to build a stronger relationship with Canada's first nations. Our response to the Eyford report is a first step to building stronger relationships with first nations on these opportunities.

The natural resources sector is the largest private employer of first nations in Canada. First nations have, and will continue, to contribute and benefit as full partners in the development of our natural resources, in environmental stewardship and its economic benefits.

Natural Resources June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we have been clear that projects will only move forward if they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment. After carefully reviewing the independent regulator's science and fact-based report, the government accepts the recommendation to impose 209 stringent conditions on the project. It will be up to the proponent to show the regulator and to show Canadians that these conditions have been met.