Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.
I will begin by congratulating the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, neighbouring my riding of Acadie—Bathurst. These ridings share Chaleur Bay, which is recognized by UNESCO as one of the 10 most beautiful bays in the world.
I also thank him for his work on major issues, which we are also facing, since we share Chaleur Bay. For those who do not know, this bay has lobster. People like lobster. There are also all sorts of beautiful fish, as well as crab, and we want to protect them. We have a responsibility to protect them because they are fishers' livelihood. People also like to eat them.
I rise today to talk about C-3, An Act to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
Even though we support this bill at third reading, we are extremely disappointed that the Conservatives rejected our proposals to broaden the scope of this bill. We proposed amendments, unlike the Liberals. They wanted to propose some at second reading, but they missed the boat, to use a Maritimes reference.
Our approach shows that we are ready to make tangible and comprehensive changes to protect our coasts, whereas the Conservatives are not. I would like to expand on the Conservatives' lack of credibility when it comes to marine and air safety issues.
If the true purpose of Bill C-3 is to promote greater tanker traffic safety, why did the government not seize the opportunity to cancel the cuts in the latest budgets and the shutdown of marine safety programs?
The Conservative government wants to protect our coasts with this bill, but let us look at its record: the closure of the B.C. spill response centre, the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station and the gutting of environmental emergency response programs.
It does not make any sense for the Conservative government to cut programs at marine communications and traffic service centres and environmental emergency response centres, because we know that tanker traffic tripled between 2005 and 2010 and is expected to triple again by 2016. Pipeline expansion projects are also expected to increase crude oil shipments from 300,000 to 700,000 barrels a day.
When faced with these facts, it is difficult to believe that Canadians' concerns are really being taken seriously.
I would like to remind hon. members that the scaling back of Coast Guard rescue capacity and facilities has affected more than just British Columbia. The Conservative government has threatened to cut facilities across Canada, including those in the eastern part of the country. Most notable is its irresponsible decision to close the Newfoundland and Labrador marine rescue centre.
The Conservatives also planned to close the marine search and rescue centre in Quebec City, which, like the Newfoundland and Labrador centre, often conducts rescue and emergency relief operations. In fact, it responds to nearly 1,500 distress calls a year.
As a result of public protest and the hard work of my NDP colleagues, the Conservatives were forced to reconsider their decision to close the marine search and rescue centre in Quebec City, and it is still open today.
I would like to commend my colleagues and the people of Quebec, who stood up to show how important this centre is.
If the Conservatives really want to protect Canada's oceans with this bill, why not broaden its scope?
The measures that the NDP wants to see in a bill to safeguard Canada’s seas include reversing Coast Guard closures and the scaling back of services, including the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station.
We also want the Conservatives to cancel the cuts to the marine communication and traffic service centres, including the marine traffic control communications terminals in Vancouver and St. John's, Newfoundland. We have before us a bill that seeks to protect our oceans and tankers, but the government is closing the most important organizations for monitoring them.
We are also calling on the government to cancel the closure of British Columbia's oil spill response centre. It is unbelievable that the government would put forward this bill in the House of Commons and at the same time seek to close the oil spill response centre in British Columbia. Earlier, I was saying that crude oil shipments would increase from 300,000 to 700,000 barrels a day. Marine traffic is growing and the Conservatives are cutting the organizations that might be able to prevent catastrophes.
We are calling on the government to cancel cuts to the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research. The Conservatives even want to make cuts to a research centre. We are also calling on them to cancel cuts to key environmental emergency programs, including oil spill response in Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia.
It is scary. It is scary to see where the government is going with this. Canadians should be scared to see what is happening on the energy and oil fronts. It is not new, and each year we see an increase in the use of our rivers and oceans, both the Pacific and the Atlantic. The government is shutting down everything that has been put in place to protect and monitor these bodies of water.
We are calling on the government to reinforce the capacity of petroleum boards—which is currently nil—to handle oil spills, as recommended by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board needs to build in-house expertise to manage a major spill, including an independent safety regulator.
We want the Canadian Coast Guard to work collaboratively with its U.S. counterparts and conduct a parallel study to examine the risks additional super tanker traffic would cause in Canadian waters.
If the Conservatives really wanted to take marine safety seriously, they could have—and should have—expanded this bill. We know that the Conservatives are making these modest changes in an attempt to calm British Columbians' well-founded fears about new oil pipeline projects and the inevitable increase in oil tanker traffic that would result from new pipeline construction.
The people of British Columbia are right to be worried about potential spills resulting from the increase in tanker traffic. Oil spills have proven inevitable with oil tanker traffic. The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation has recorded nearly 10,000 accidental oil spills globally since 1970.
That should tell the government to be careful. Given all the cuts it has made in various areas, it is, as I said earlier, very scary.
The government needs to shoulder its responsibilities. This bill does not go far enough. We will support it because, while it is not much, it is better than nothing. However, it should go further.