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37th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION

Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Wednesday, May 5, 2004




¹ 1535
V         The Chair (Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.))
V         Mr. George Finney (Director, Environmental Conservation Branch, Atlantic Region, Department of the Environment)
V         Mr. George Enei (Director, Conservation Priorities and Planning Branch, Conservation Strategies Directorate, Environmental Conservation Service, Department of the Environment)
V         Mr. Asit Hazra (Chief, Emergencies Prevention Division, Environmental Emergencies Branch, National Programs Directorate, Environmental Protection Service, Department of the Environment)
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney

¹ 1540

¹ 1545
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney

¹ 1550

¹ 1555
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rex Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls, CPC)

º 1600
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. George Finney

º 1605
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Julian Reed (Halton, Lib.)
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. Julian Reed
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. Julian Reed
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. Julian Reed
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. Julian Reed
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. Asit Hazra

º 1610
V         Mr. Julian Reed
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. Julian Reed
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Serge Marcil (Beauharnois—Salaberry, Lib.)
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Hon. Serge Marcil
V         Mr. George Finney

º 1615
V         Hon. Serge Marcil
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Hon. Serge Marcil
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Hon. Serge Marcil
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Hon. Serge Marcil

º 1620
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Hon. Serge Marcil
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Lib.)
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair

º 1625
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rex Barnes

º 1630
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Serge Marcil

º 1635
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Hon. Serge Marcil
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Julian Reed
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. Julian Reed
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. Julian Reed
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney

º 1640
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Asit Hazra
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Mr. George Enei
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Serge Marcil

º 1645
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Stéphane Dion
V         Mr. George Finney
V         Hon. Stéphane Dion
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair
V         Hon. Stéphane Dion
V         Mr. George Finney
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development


NUMBER 016 
l
3rd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1535)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.)): We are most fortunate and happy to have three witnesses here today from the conservation branch of the Canadian Wildlife Service, I presume--if not, you will correct me. We also have with us people from the east coast on the very important issue of the protection of birds when they are affected by oil spills.

    We are also indebted to the parliamentary secretary for having made the arrangements necessary for this meeting. Thank you very much.

    Without any further delay, Mr. Finney, we invite you to introduce yourself and your colleagues and then to make a presentation. Then I'm sure there will be quite a number of questions.

    Again, welcome to the committee.

+-

    Mr. George Finney (Director, Environmental Conservation Branch, Atlantic Region, Department of the Environment): Thank you very much.

    My name is Dr. George Finney. I'm the regional director of the Canadian Wildlife Service and the environment conservation branch from Atlantic region.

+-

    Mr. George Enei (Director, Conservation Priorities and Planning Branch, Conservation Strategies Directorate, Environmental Conservation Service, Department of the Environment): My name is George Enei. I'm the director of conservation priorities for the environmental conservation service of Environment Canada.

+-

    Mr. Asit Hazra (Chief, Emergencies Prevention Division, Environmental Emergencies Branch, National Programs Directorate, Environmental Protection Service, Department of the Environment): I'm Asit Hazra. I'm chief of the emergencies prevention division for the environmental protection service at Environment Canada.

+-

    Mr. George Finney: We're very pleased to be here to provide an advanced briefing on the bill concerning amendments to the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which will be introduced to you tomorrow.

    Our objective here is to describe the policy context that we are--

+-

    The Chair: What do you mean by “introduced” to parliamentarians?

+-

    Mr. George Finney: It will be introduced in the House. My understanding is it's at 10 o'clock.

    Given that, and respecting the rules of Parliament, we cannot get into the details of the act, but we will certainly tell you what we're trying to address through the proposed bill.

    In terms of sensitizing you to a very important problem, what I've tried to do, technology willing, is to present you a 12-minute clip that we did for a number of purposes. I don't think we imagined we were going to present it to this particular committee, but we're very pleased to have the opportunity to do it.

    So with your indulgence, I'll try to hit the right button and turn on the movie.

    [Video Presentation]

¹  +-(1540)  

¹  +-(1545)  

+-

    The Chair: Would you mind replaying the first minute, up to the point when Dr. Wiese comes on the screen? The part before it is very powerful. Would you mind repeating it?

+-

    Mr. George Finney: I will try, sir.

    I'm afraid I can't do it, sir.

+-

    The Chair: Is it available on the website?

+-

    Mr. George Finney: Yes, it is, sir.

+-

    The Chair: Is it available in French also?

+-

    Mr. George Finney: Yes, it is, sir. It's available on our Atlantic region website. I will make the web address available to the clerk immediately after the meeting.

+-

    The Chair: Please proceed.

+-

    Mr. George Finney: As you've seen from this video, we are facing a rather straightforward but important environmental problem, a problem that causes a great deal of concern, particularly to Atlantic Canadians. When I travel around in my business, it's one of the issues that people are most perplexed about. They tend to understand that climate change and forestry practices and fisheries, and what not, are complex environmental issues, but to most people this feels like it should be a simple one to solve.

    As I indicated in my opening remarks, the purpose of the bill to be presented to Parliament tomorrow is to strengthen two important pieces of environmental legislation that can be used to better enforce pollution regulations that already exist. These two acts are the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

    We are looking, through this bill, to clarify some legal ambiguities that have arisen or some interpretations that lawyers have had to make of existing law. We're hoping, through this bill, to clarify those ambiguities and to make the will of Parliament absolutely clear. We're looking, through these two proposed acts, to provide a complementary capacity to that which exists in the Canada Shipping Act, both in terms of legal instruments and people who we can bring this to bear.

    We want, through this bill, to better harmonize our approach with the United States in dealing with illegal discharges, where fines are quite a bit higher than they are in Canada. That causes us some concern, and we feel it may make some shipowners and operators feel it's just a less costly enterprise to dump in Canadian waters, and therefore to perhaps hold onto their oil until they cross over into our waters. But of course we want to operate within the parameters of international law—or perhaps more correctly international codes of practice.

    Those are our overall objectives.

    In terms of some more specifics, we're hoping to clarify enforcement and judicial authorities for the two acts out to the limits of our economic zone, which are 200 nautical miles. For Canada, this is particularly important because with our bird resources out there and also our whales and other resources, the Grand Banks, the Scotian Shelf, and off the coast of British Columbia, there is an abundance of birds or natural resources that are important to us. These are also important shipping lanes, not only shipping lanes for ships coming into Canadian ports, but also ships in transit between Asia and North America or between Europe and the United States.

    We are wishing to clearly establish the potential culpability of officers of ships, corporations, and directors, because in our view it's people who pollute; it's not ships that pollute. Each of these people or corporations have responsibilities that are made very clear under international rules, and it is our view that if we find a ship that is polluting, it should be the requirement of those who are in charge of the ship to prove that they've exercised due diligence in respect of our laws. As I said, each has their own responsibility. Obviously, the captain is in charge of his ship and the chief engineer is in charge of his engine room, but the owners and operators will be responsible for providing equipment that's in good shape, and the training of the personnel, etc.

¹  +-(1550)  

    One of the things that we, and also particularly the Americans, discover when we have gone on board and have done investigations is that fairly frequently in cases where, as I said, we've gone on with cause, we find that their records appeared to be falsified with the deliberate intent to mislead authorities, both in Canada and elsewhere, into believing that something took place that didn't take place. We feel it's important to explicitly prohibit falsification of records, and we have proposed that this be addressed in the bill as well.

    We feel we need to clearly establish enforcement authorities for search and seizure, arrest, etc., through this bill, just to make sure our officers have a clear understanding of what their limits are and also that the shipping industry understands that as well.

    There's one particular authority that we feel is extremely important to use in some cases. That is the authority to redirect a ship to a Canadian port for inspection or for investigation. We feel that in some cases Canada is in a better position to enforce our own environmental standards through our own environmental laws than letting the ship move to another jurisdiction and have the enforcement undertaken by that.

    Finally, we feel it's important to increase the maximum fines allowed for the Migratory Birds Convention Act so as to bring it into line with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and that this will send a message to the shipping industry that the Government of Canada is serious about coming to grips with its problems.

    I should point out that amending laws are only part of the equation. There are many good shipowners and operators out there, as you've seen. This is a fairly typical situation where we're looking at a number of offenders in an industry that is basically willing to take their own environmental responsibilities. But it is our view that for a portion of the industry we're looking at a change in culture, which will take some time.

    Regardless of any legislative amendments that are made, there are going to be issues with surveillance and detection. It's a big ocean. As was indicated in the video, often the perpetrators are dumping their oily waste at night or in bad weather. It is hard to detect. In order to undertake an appropriate enforcement action, you obviously have to have your resources deployed to react very quickly. The ships are in transit. Frequently after an event is spotted we may only have six, eight, ten hours a day, if we're lucky, in order to deploy resources. That's not always easy.

    One of the things that we do need to look at as well is adequately communicating our intent to the shipping industry. I have some examples here that I will leave with the clerk, if you wish, on the kinds of communication products we make available to mariners who come into our ports.

    I think this particular one is in six languages, reflecting the international nature of visitors who come to us. Of course, it's important to do our science. It's important to be able to not only tell a story, as we've seen today, but we have found it very important over time, when we are in sentencing hearings with judges, to also be able to walk into the court with good, solid, scientific evidence and be able to explain to the court why we're seeking what we consider to be a level of penalty that eventually we hope will provide the deterrence we are seeking to the problem.

    That's by way of my introductory remarks, sir.

¹  +-(1555)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Finney. It's very important what you are doing, and I'm very glad you were able to come.

    Mr. Barnes first, followed by Mr. Reed and Mr. Marcil.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    It's actually, I suppose, a bit different. We usually have the bill in front of us and we're tearing apart the bill to see the faults of it. But this time, of course, we've just been given a brief that you are going to be presenting something in the House tomorrow—rather the minister is.

    I've always felt over the last while, since I got into politics more so than ever, that the environment has never been what you call an issue for a lot of people. It's unfortunate because we are seeing today that there is a bigger need to protect our environment than ever before. Of course, it seems like the environment is the last on the list. Let's make the dollars first and then we'll worry about the environment after. But if we don't have a good environment, it's no good making money because we won't have anything here. Of course, there are words being used: “deliberate”, “disgusting”, “falsifying records”. It's going to be very difficult to strengthen the present regulations to basically stop all this, because people are deliberately doing it, falsifying records, and of course, it's hard to have surveillance at night time, especially, when a lot of this is being done. I'm just wondering whether you can tell us how you think you're going to make it work.

º  +-(1600)  

+-

    Mr. George Finney: First of all, with respect to the issue of surveillance, one of the things we are working on with the Canadian Space Agency and with RADARSAT International, which is an independent company, is we have a program going that we call ISTOP--integrated satellite tracking of oil polluters. What we're essentially using is radar satellites that bounce signals down to the earth and receive a response to try to detect oil spills. Initial results are quite promising. What happens when they bounce the radar down is oil tends to flatten the waves on the ocean, so they get a stronger signal back when there's oil in the water than not. They sometimes get a stronger signal back when there's hot water, upwellings, and what not, so we're trying to sort out false positives.

    In our pilot studies, which we've had going now on the east coast for a year and a half and on the west coast for half a year, we are beginning to convince ourselves that we can in fact spot these slicks, night or day, and in some fairly bad weather. Then we can deploy an aircraft and go out and prove that it's oil and we can see the ship on the radar image as well. I think this is a very promising method.

    Through our environmental protection service, we are also establishing some equipment with fluoroscopes that will help us detect oils from aircraft as well in a more precise manner. On the detection side, I think we are making progress, and we are going to be able to say to the shipping industry that we can see you day and night. “The night is not as dark as it used to be” is the message we're giving.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: I'll ask you one other, sir, as some of the members want to ask some questions as well.

    What happens off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, of course, and all of Atlantic Canada no doubt is disgusting and should not be tolerated. I think if the bill, the presentation of the regulations in the House tomorrow, is going to strengthen things, you'll have a large number of support for the new efforts.

    I've heard people say this and I'm just wondering what your view is. When you get these tankers that basically dump their oil at sea, wouldn't it be more reasonable to have dumping stations at ports so that they're required to dump before they leave? We've heard stories in Newfoundland and Labrador that they leave port and they're not out there, as we say, jig time, a short time, before all of a sudden they discharge their oil. Wouldn't it make sense to have something in the regulations to have either the government or the port authorities access money to have holding tanks available at ports so that they can discharge their oil before they leave port? That way they'll be working with the port authority and working with government to make sure they're not out there doing it, because it's all a cost factor. It's better to spend money upfront and do that cost, rather than let the boat owners go out. Regardless of what anyone says, although the captain may give the order, and the engineer may do what the captain says, the owners of these boats are the ones who have given the direction to move forward.

    I'm just wondering what your idea is. Is it possible to have holding tanks or stations at ports?

+-

    Mr. George Finney: In fact, Canadian ports do provide off-loading facilities for waste oil. But as indicated in the video, there is an average cost of $1,000 to have that done at a port. That is perhaps a disincentive for some ships.

    Transport Canada has advised us that it is looking at the possibility of building dumping facility charges into port fees. It is concerned about doing that unless the U.S. ports are doing the same thing. It doesn't want to end up in a situation where port fees are chasing boats away from Canadian ports and therefore chasing Canadian business and Canadian jobs away. I know it's having discussions with the United States on that issue. Hopefully it will be able to report back to us shortly on its conclusion.

º  +-(1605)  

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    Mr. Rex Barnes: I want to make just one comment, because I know the other members may pick up on it.

    In the beginning I said we need to protect our environment, and I know we've got to protect our economy as well. There's a price to pay for keeping a clean environment, and if we're not willing to do that as politicians, then of course boat owners and tanker owners are going to continually dump their oil at sea, unless we're serious about making sure it's going to work. That's the key. We've got to make sure these companies are going to strengthen it and make it work.

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Barnes.

    Mr. Reed, please.

+-

    Mr. Julian Reed (Halton, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    In a situation as obvious as this, who are the naysayers? Who are the people who say, “Okay so we lose a few birds, what the heck, it's commerce and we've got to carry on”?

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    Mr. George Finney: All I can say is that the polluters are speaking by their actions, not their words.

+-

    Mr. Julian Reed: We saw in the video an example of one ship that can do its own oil separation. Is that expensive technology to install in a ship?

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    Mr. George Finney: It's required technology. All international merchant ships carry separators. It's a question of whether they use them and maintain them. But they are required to have them, and port authorities in various countries will examine them regularly to make sure they're used.

+-

    Mr. Julian Reed: If I can extrapolate on this a little further, we have a problem of dumping in the Great Lakes, bringing in invasive species and that sort of thing. Are the separators that are required on these ships able to separate the invasive species, or purify the water sufficiently to discharge it safely?

+-

    Mr. George Finney: The separators normally deal with machinery space oil--bilge oil dripping off engines, and whatever, into the bottom of the ship. It's not ballast. Ballast is taken on board to lower the ship, and it has a much greater volume. They would not normally run ballast water through a separator. But they are supposed to run bilge water through a separator and hold the oil in a tank until they get to a facility.

    The separator is designed to take the level of oil down to 15 parts per million, which is legal--you can't see a sheen. The Europeans have done some experiments and you can't see oil on the water until it reaches about 50 parts per million, which is three times above the legal limit. So if we spot a sheen on the water, we know it's at least three times the legal limit.

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    Mr. Julian Reed: What would be the motivation for not using the separator?

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    Mr. George Finney: Money is one of them. It also takes time, and somebody has to monitor it. If you had a choice between playing poker with your buddy in the room or sitting down watching a separator do its work for four hours, what would you choose? I think there's probably a variety of motivations.

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    Mr. Julian Reed: Are there any ships on the ocean now that do not have separators installed--older vessels that did not need to meet that requirement when they were built?

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    Mr. George Finney: I think they would be retired by now.

    Asit, do you know?

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    Mr. Asit Hazra: It's only based on size. Some very small ships are not required to have it. Otherwise, all ships are required to have it.

º  +-(1610)  

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    Mr. Julian Reed: I was astounded to see this video and then to hear that these separators are on ships, available for use, and are not being used.

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    Mr. George Finney: We discovered in one case, and the Americans discovered in another, where rogue plumbing had been installed to actually bypass the separators. The Americans prosecuted one case successfully, where they received digital camera images from one of the crew members on board of the rogue plumbing that had been dismantled and corrected before it came into the U.S. port. Go figure.

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    Mr. Julian Reed: It is absolutely bizarre to me that you'd have the means to prevent the problem, but because of laziness, stealth, or stupidity...you have the crews on board the ship anyway, and machines there to do it.

    I thank you very much for bringing this so forcefully to our attention. We really appreciate it. I hope that when this bill goes to the House it will go through unanimously.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Reed.

[Translation]

    Mr. Marcil.

+-

    Hon. Serge Marcil (Beauharnois—Salaberry, Lib.): Obviously, the problem exists on the east coast, the west coast, the north coast, in fact all Canadian coasts along which ships might sail.

    You said earlier that the U.S. legislation is much tougher than our current one. What penalties are imposed on those who break the law, compared to what is done in the United States? How could the legislation be made tougher?

[English]

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    Mr. George Finney: First of all, the problem we see is most evident on the Atlantic coast. We are currently doing studies on the Pacific coast. We suspect we have the same problem there, and we're not seeing it because of the way the currents and the winds treat the birds. I don't think we have evidence that it's on the Arctic coast.

    The U.S. approach has been somewhat different from ours, and it's the approach as much as the law. I think their largest penalty was something like $30 million U.S. against a cruise line. They were able to prove that there were repeated offences that had essentially been directed out of the boardroom of the cruise line. There were essentially accumulated fines based on the number of incidents.

    I would hope that if we discovered that deliberate corporate decision-making had led to not one incident but a pattern we could prove, our act would treat the situation the same way.

    They've also looked upon falsification of records to be very serious, and they have essentially treated it as obstruction of justice. They've been attacking the problem, in some cases, not directly under their pollution laws but under laws the courts are perhaps more familiar with.

[Translation]

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    Hon. Serge Marcil: In Europe, there also has to be legislation to prevent such things from happening in the various countries. Obviously, with the European Union they must have common legislation. How is this different from what we want to achieve or what exists in the United States? Are these tough laws as well?

[English]

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    Mr. George Finney: But the penalties in Europe tend to be higher than in Canada as well; penalties in Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore are higher. Penalties are not as high in a number of other countries and are miserably low in some countries, which are often the countries that have the most ships under their flag. That's one of the issues we are facing and is one of the reasons, as I said, in terms of our objectives that in some cases we want to treat violations of our environmental laws and standards in Canadian courts rather than have them go to a country's judicial system where we know or have good reason to suspect their treatment would be very light. For example, I remember one incident in a country I won't name where a fine for a fairly serious offence was $600, which is hardly a deterrent.

º  +-(1615)  

[Translation]

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    Hon. Serge Marcil: Why do you not want to name the country?

[English]

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    Mr. George Finney: I'm speaking from memory and I certainly don't want to be wrong. I can get you the name of the country if you want the information, but I just want to make sure I'm right before I slander a country.

[Translation]

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    Hon. Serge Marcil: In the United States, the legislation is very tough. Imposing penalties as high as $30 million U.S. can cause some steamship lines to go bankrupt.

[English]

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    Mr. George Finney: That was a very big cruise line, and I think the judge took into account the capability of the company to pay, but that's a matter of prosecution and I guess judicial judgment. The fines we have in our act or they have in their acts are all maximums. Similarly, there is very little point in levying a $100,000 fine against the captain of a ship if he earns $8,000 a year.

[Translation]

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    Hon. Serge Marcil: What I understand from what I read on the fines that will be imposed for Canadian offences, or offences committed under the future Canadian law, is that this new legislation will affect other existing laws such as the Canada Shipping Act, I think, the Species at Risk Act and the Environment Act.

    Under the new legislation, will the money collected from the fines be put in a fund to be used to improve the environment, to take steps to improve the environment on the shores affected by shipping disasters?

[English]

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    Mr. George Finney: Yes, sir. The fines, as you may be aware, have been increasing over the last four to five years in part because the science is better. As I said in my introductory remarks, we're looking through the environmental legislation to provide complementary legislation to that in the Canada Shipping Act.

    In dealing with this we have had in Atlantic Canada for some time a policy where we recommend to judges the terms of sentencing, with a good portion of the penalty going to an environmental damages fund. In fact, several hundred thousand dollars has been directed to that.

    I do have some information on the environmental damages fund. The way that works is it's administered by Environment Canada. Environmental groups and others can apply to that fund, particularly to deal with any direct damage from the spill or similar spills, but they can also apply for various kinds of work that's complementary to government efforts, such as beach bird surveys and damage assessment.

[Translation]

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    Hon. Serge Marcil: I have one last question, Mr. Chair. The situation in Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula is reaching catastrophic proportions; we are talking about roughly 300,000 dead birds a year.

    Do you have any statistics? Given that we also have aerial and satellite surveillance, do you have any statistics on the number of similar incidents that occur annually? Let me reword my question. Do we know how many incidents occur annually on Canada's east coast?

º  +-(1620)  

[English]

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    Mr. George Finney: One of our ISTOP program objectives is to come up with that kind of statistic. We feel, based on what we're seeing, we are looking at several dozen incidents a year probably, but we do not have statistics of which we are totally confident yet.

[Translation]

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    Hon. Serge Marcil: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Marcil.

    Mr. Dion, please.

[English]

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    Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Lib.): I just have one question. In order to have a very effective law we'll need more than the Department of the Environment. We'll need, certainly, to involve DFO, the coast guard, the Department of Transport, the Department of Justice, and the attorney general, and we will need to speak to the governments of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia at least. Can you speak about that? How will you make sure you have good collaboration and a good interministerial framework in order to have an effective law?

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    Mr. George Finney: We do have a memorandum of understanding now on the east coast among us, Transport Canada, and the coast guard; we're the three principal agencies involved. It's essentially a memorandum of cooperation, but it also has annexes specific to enforcement. It is our intention to make that a national framework for cooperation, and we're working very hard at that.

    In addition to that, we are developing very specific protocols for how we make our decisions. For example, we are currently negotiating a protocol on the criteria we would use if we took the rather strong step of redirecting a ship to port. We don't want to do it capriciously; we want to do it in a way so the shipping industry understands in advance when we are going to contemplate doing this and when we are not.

    I should say that the list of organizations that have been helping us also extends to the Canadian Space Agency--which was not a partner originally envisaged as being one of our closest allies but has turned out to be a very enthusiastic partner--and the Department of National Defence. Particularly with its air force, it has been more than willing, for example, to direct training missions over known shipping routes or over ships we have reason to suspect for one reason or another to be polluters. It has helped a lot. It is going to have to be a joint effort, we all know that, because resources are limited and it's a very big ocean.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Before starting a second round, I have a few brief questions to ask you. Mr. Finney, in your presentation you mentioned ISTOP. When did ISTOP come into effect?

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    Mr. George Finney: I think we had a very small run in early 2002, and we started a more serious pilot study in September 2002, which has essentially continued on since then. It was bigger this past year than it was the year before, and I believe it's going to be bigger this year than it was last year as well.

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    The Chair: And have you accumulated statistics since then?

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    Mr. George Finney: Yes. I've seen a draft report; we don't yet have a final report on ISTOP, but I expect it'll be out within weeks.

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    The Chair: Can you make it available to this committee?

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    Mr. George Finney: I'd be pleased to.

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    The Chair: The next question is on statistics. Do you have a breakdown by steamship line or line by line as to those companies that have broken the law, so to say, over the last 10 years?

º  +-(1625)  

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    Mr. George Finney: I could get a list of successful convictions with respect to individual ships.

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    The Chair: That would be helpful, and how about unsuccessful initiatives?

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    Mr. George Finney: I could probably provide you with a list of unsuccessful initiatives in the sense that we laid charges but didn't have success at prosecution; it would be a rather long list of ships that got away. I could provide you with that.

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    The Chair: Well, if it isn't too much paperwork, if it is already available somewhere, we would certainly appreciate that.

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    Mr. George Finney: I will do my best to get that to the committee as well.

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    The Chair: Thanks.

    Finally, is the Canadian Wildlife Service now working at preparing a video on the situation on the west coast?

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    Mr. George Finney: Not to my knowledge, sir.

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    The Chair: Is this because it's too soon or for budgetary reasons?

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    Mr. George Finney: No, it's not budgetary reasons. We just started the research there about six months ago, in terms of trying to get a proper assessment of the magnitude of the problem. As I said, we don't see as many birds coming up on the beach. We're not quite sure why. In many cases, it's the same ship coming into Vancouver eight months later, for example, as the one that came into Halifax. It's basically the same shipping industry. They are the same ships. We are literally at a point of having to say we don't know why we're not seeing as many birds come ashore.

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    The Chair: Finally, for educational purposes, do you make these videos available in both official languages to steamship lines?

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    Mr. George Finney: We've made it quite broadly available through DVD, and it's also featured on our websites. We bring it to the attention of ships when we go on board and hand them the various pieces of information we have.

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    The Chair: What about mobilizing the schools, the kids?

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    Mr. George Finney: We take it around to schools. We take it to naturalist groups. We've had a fairly wide treatment of it. We took it to an international oil pollution conference last year, an international conference that's held every two years. We entered it in their film competition and we won first prize with it.

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    The Chair: Congratulations, Mr. Finney. Thank you.

    For the second round, Mr. Barnes, followed by Mr. Reed.

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    Mr. Rex Barnes: Just to add onto yours before I start, Mr. Chair, you've asked that we get that information. I'm hoping it will include the country they fly under, the flag they fly under, as well as, if they've had convictions, the dollar value that the courts have ruled against these companies. It would be nice to have a comparison when the new regulations come out--if it's going to be better for governments, better for ports, or better for the boat owners.

    Mr. Chair, the honourable member across the way mentioned that he hoped there would be unanimous support for it, and I hope that all parties will support it. But there are parties in the House that will probably say you haven't gone far enough.

    I will tell you right now, from what I know of the people in Newfoundland and Labrador who are concerned, and from what I've heard over the last probably year and a half or two years, the question is, are we concerned with stopping what's happening at sea, the dumping of the oil, or are we more concerned with putting bigger fines out there? Because if we're interested only in putting bigger fines there, then we're not interested in stopping the problem. If we don't stop the problem, we're going to have, year after year, hundreds and probably thousands of birds that float to the lands of Newfoundland and Labrador. All across Atlantic Canada dead birds are going to be showing up.

    So are we going to see tomorrow a concentrated effort to stop it, or are we going to see a concentrated effort to basically increase surveillance--which is very important, don't get me wrong--and increase the fines? Is this just going to be a show for the sake of saying we're trying to do something?

    I do know that if we don't have cooperation with Europe and the United States, no matter what we do in Canada, it may not work.

    I'm just wondering, are we concerned about stopping it completely?

º  +-(1630)  

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    The Chair: We have to start somewhere, Mr. Barnes.

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    Mr. Rex Barnes: Absolutely, I agree.

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    The Chair: Mr. Finney.

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    Mr. George Finney: Well, I think what we're proposing is to fix a particular problem and to mend and strengthen a particular tool. It is only one tool in the kit.

    I couldn't agree with you more that it's not going to solve it by itself, and we know that. We're not interested in increasing the fines for the sake of increasing the fines; we're interested in establishing an effective deterrent and an effective surveillance and enforcement regime.

    We definitely are interested in harmonizing our approach with the United States. In fact, next week we are having a meeting in Halifax with the United States officials for two days for that very purpose. We propose to attack it on every front we can think of, because we recognize it's a serious problem, particularly for those of us who live in Atlantic Canada. It's in front of us all the time.

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    Mr. Rex Barnes: Mr. Chair, I have just one more comment.

    I'm very pleased to hear that you are going to be doing that, because I think it's very important to have the cooperation of the United States, as well as cooperation from the European countries.

    I don't think anyone in his right mind would say that what you will probably be submitting tomorrow won't be better than what's there, and I think any step to make it better is important, but I just want to make sure you understand that people are looking for something direct, something that's going to try to fix the problem.

    I do know we have to keep the economics involved. As a result, I think the most important thing we can do as a country is to impress on the U.S. and the European nations that this has to stop.

    It flabbergasts me to know that they have these filtering systems on board but they don't use them. To me, it's just not logical. It should be a mandatory requirement on these ships that they be used. And if they're not being used, then the courts should deal with them harshly to send the message. I think that's important.

    So I think the technology is there. It's only a matter of whether we want to use it to protect the environment.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Barnes.

    Monsieur Marcil, s'il vous plaît.

[Translation]

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    Hon. Serge Marcil: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    The report Safe, Secure, Sovereign: Reinventing the Canadian Coast Guard was prepared by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in March 2004, I believe. This report emphasized an incident involving a ship called Tecam Sea; I am sure you know the story. I believe this ship spilled 15,000 litres of used oil. The ship was boarded, and the crew held and released on bail. One would have expected charges to be laid by the Government of Canada, that is, Transport Canada or Environment Canada, but the Department of Justice dropped the charges, claiming that Environment Canada did not have the authority to prosecute, arrest the captain or the crew.

    In the legislation to be tabled, will the environment minister's authority be strengthened so as not to have to release an offender for lack of authority to arrest or prosecute said offender? There was a case, I believe, six days after the famous satellite technology was used. That means there may have been other cases that previously went unnoticed because we did not have the necessary means to detect them.

    Will the legislation have enough teeth to take full legal action when there is evidence of an incident and the identity of the offender is known?

    The committee also made recommendations, including recommendation 4:

That the Canadian Coast Guard be given all the necessary resources and powers to conduct surveillance and collect evidence necessary for the—

    There was another:

That the Attorney General of Canada instruct federal prosecutors involved in marine pollution cases to bring to the attention of the court, prior to sentencing, the total cost to the Canadian taxpayer of investigating and prosecuting the offence.

    Recommendation 6 states:

That, as a matter of priority, the Governor in Council expedite the regulatory reform under the new Canada Shipping Act, 2001 in order that it come into force as soon as possible.

    Were these recommendations also taken into account in the work done by the department? Will the bill we want to introduce reinforce the government's authority to act, make arrests and prosecute?

º  +-(1635)  

[English]

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    Mr. George Finney: Yes.

    The Tecam Seawas one of our cases, and we felt we had a very strong case. We were the agency that ordered the ship to come back to port and we laid the charges, which were subsequently dropped, in large part due to some of the legal ambiguities that I referenced in terms of the actions we can take.

    There are some sensitivities around discussing this case in detail as there still is the possibility of some legal action associated with it. But I can assure you one of the objectives we have in mind is to make sure that in the next case like the Tecam Sea, we don't have a similar outcome.

[Translation]

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    Hon. Serge Marcil: That is all.

[English]

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    The Chair: Merci, Mr. Marcil.

    Mr. Reed.

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    Mr. Julian Reed: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    It just occurred to me, on this whole question of deterrence and how you actually stop this action from happening, that a relative of mine who is quite enthusiastic about cruise ships went on a cruise. She woke up at 3 o'clock one morning and couldn't properly get back to sleep. She went over to the railing and was looking down and saw some of the crew throwing bags of garbage overboard in mid-ocean. Her reaction to that was that she would never sail with the cruise line again.

    If cruise ships are doing some of this, and understanding that they are not always found in common shipping lanes, which is the other problem, it may be a little harder to detect, I suppose. But would it be useful as a deterrent to let cruise ships know that their name will be published or will be made public all over the country if they're convicted of doing something like this?

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    Mr. George Finney: Yes, I think it would be. It's a very good idea.

    Certainly, in cases that we have pursued and had successful prosecutions of, we have not kept quiet about it. We feel we have to go the way of deterrence; we can't go with enforcement after enforcement after enforcement. We have to get to the point where those who are inclined to pollute are convinced that we can detect them, that we can react in terms of enforcement, that we can prosecute them, and that when we prosecute them there's thump behind the penalties.

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    Mr. Julian Reed: Because of the irregular nature of the cruise ships' routes and so on, are those ships harder to detect?

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    Mr. George Finney: Not with satellite.

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    Mr. Julian Reed: No? Okay.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Reed.

    Mr. Finney, are you by any chance familiar with the contents of the report by the fisheries committee chaired by Tom Wappel, member of Parliament, entitled, “Safe, Secure, Sovereign: Reinventing the Canadian Coast Guard”, which is dated March 2004?

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    Mr. George Finney: No, I'm not. I don't know of it.

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    The Chair: It's the same one Mr. Marcil quoted from. In it there is reference to the MOU between the coast guard, Environment Canada, and Transport Canada. The conclusion made is that “...the interdepartmental agreement formalized in the MOUfailed its first test”, namely, in connection with the Tecam Sea case.

    Is that a correct conclusion?

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    Mr. George Finney: The MOU specifies that when we spot an incident we get together to discuss whether Transport will take the enforcement lead or action or we will. We can choose either to go together or not to go together in terms of a particular enforcement action. In some cases, for example, we have chosen to not have both agencies involved in enforcement simply because we weren't able to deploy people.

    In this case, I think it would be fair to say that it did fail in the sense that we attempted to contact Transport but were unable to do so. They chose to not participate in that enforcement action.

º  +-(1640)  

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    The Chair: The report goes on to say that:

It is still not clear to this date why the federal government dropped thecharges against the Tecam Sea. The Committee views this as a shameful incidentand points out that the MOU was signed at least two months earlier, to prevent thiskind of bureaucratic turf war.

    These are pretty harsh words, right?

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    Mr. George Finney: I don't think the issue of whether we pursued it jointly with Transport Canada or on our own was one of the principal factors leading to the failure of the case; rather, it's related to some of the ambiguities in the law that we came across after the fact—as I mentioned earlier. What we're doing is putting before Parliament the opportunity to clear up those ambiguities.

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    The Chair: A moment ago, Mr. Marcil made a reference to recommendation 6 on expediting the regulatory reform. But let me draw your attention to the one-pager that has been circulated for this meeting, under the heading, “Birds Oiled at Sea”, where we learn that the Canadian regulations are under development and are due to begin to come into force in 2006.

    How come it takes so long?

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    Mr. George Finney: It's the Canada Shipping Act regulations.

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    The Chair: Yes, that's correct. The new Canada Shipping Act came into effect in 2001 and the regulations, according to this sheet at least, are due to begin to come into force in 2006. There must be a reason. Can you explain it to us?

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    Mr. Asit Hazra: It's really Transport Canada who should be answering this. In order for it to let CSA 2001 come into effect, it has to go ahead and look through the whole suite of regulations it currently has. They have to be modified and updated. This is the kind of process the department is going through and that's the timetable within in which it'll be able to get a significant enough set of regulations done to be able to proclaim CSA 2001.

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    The Chair: You will appreciate why it is at times frustrating for legislators to pass legislation, as in this case in 2001, and then have to wait for that legislation to become operative five years later. Is there nothing that can be done to compress these times?

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    Mr. George Finney: The bill you're going to see, once passed by Parliament, should be actioned very quickly. We've constructed it in such a way that it might take weeks.

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    Mr. George Enei: If I could add to that, the Canada Shipping Act is in essence an enabling piece of legislation. It requires the regulatory backstop in order to be a viable compendium, if you will, whereas what we're proposing here with the legislative amendments can stand at face value once proclaimed.

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    The Chair: So by Christmas we could celebrate. Is that what you're saying?

    Mr. Barnes.

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    Mr. Rex Barnes: Mr. Chair, when you were talking about this, something just came to mind. Of course we all know we're going into an election very soon. I just hope this doesn't get lost, and I just hope, with the number of Liberals we have on the committee, if we can get unanimous support from all the parties, that we can fast-track this, because it is very important. I wouldn't want us to come back after an election to find that the bill had died or that something had happened to it.

    This is very important. And I think if we can get unanimous consent, let's move forward with this before we have an election. We know we have two weeks--that's what the word is, anyway, what the media are saying--so let's get it done quickly.

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    The Chair: Mr. Barnes, who is saying that we are going to have an election very soon?

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    Mr. Rex Barnes: Well, that's the media, you know.

[Translation]

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    The Chair: Mr. Marcil.

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    Hon. Serge Marcil: Mr. Chair, our colleague, Mr. Barnes, needs to assure us that people are going to work on having the bill passed quickly at this standing committee. For our part, we will ensure that our Liberal colleagues are unanimous, because that is what many MPs, not just Liberal MPs, want. We have worked hard on this, and other MPs, committees, members of the general public are concerned about the marine environment. The reason we want to table the bill tomorrow is to expedite its implementation. I am counting on the unanimous support of all the members of this committee.

º  -(1645)  

[English]

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    Mr. Rex Barnes: I would say to you that I will do my utmost to make sure you get it. I believe that if we're going to do something, let's do it for the betterment of what we're here for rather than just playing foolish politics and delaying it so it gets lost, because I think it's important to get it done.

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    The Chair: Mr. Barnes, if there is unanimous consent, the bill will not need to come to committee. It could be dealt with at all stages in the House. But to achieve that, your House leader would have to be the key person because it's usually the official opposition that determines the fate of a bill. If you are able to speak to your House leader, it would certainly help.

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    Mr. Rex Barnes: I will impress on our House leader that we move forward with this very expeditiously to make sure it gets passed for the right reasons, rather than playing politics with it. I can assure you of that. Now, if he doesn't listen to me, there's not much I can do about it.

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    The Chair: Mr. Dion.

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    Hon. Stéphane Dion: Mr. Finney, I just want to be sure. I don't think you commented on my point about the provinces.

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    Mr. George Finney: The provinces are very supportive of us in this, but they consider this to be strictly federal jurisdiction. We are in marine waters. We're dealing with shipping, with migratory birds, which are a federal responsibility. In fact, the Minister of the Environment for Newfoundland was quoted in the paper today urging Parliament to take quick action on this.

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    Hon. Stéphane Dion: Okay. That's good to know

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    The Chair: On that positive note then, Mr. Finney, Mr. Hazra, and Mr. Enei, we thank you very much.

    Could you please, for the record and for those who may be watching, repeat the access code needed in order to view the video? How is that going to be done?

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    Mr. George Finney: You can get at it through www.atl.ec.gc.ca.

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    The Chair: That gives access to the video.

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    Mr. George Finney: That takes people to our website. If they go to the nature section there, they will be able to find the “Birds Oiled at Sea Video”. On Monday we're actually going to put it on our front page, so it'll be easier for people to access.

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    The Chair: The title is Silent Disaster.

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    Mr. George Finney: Yes.

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    The Chair: Mr. Dion.

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    Hon. Stéphane Dion: With the enthusiasm you have seen from us, I wonder why it took so long for Canada to act, when, as you say, the United States is well ahead of us and the problem has been so obvious since 1968.

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    Mr. George Finney: The problem has been there. We didn't realize we had some ambiguities in our law, to tell you the truth, until we had some recent legal opinions on court cases, which told us we needed to go back and make things stronger.

    That's the reason. As you can see, charges were withdrawn about a year ago. It took a while for lawyers to go through to see if they could find policy fixes. They spent quite a while trying to come up with policy fixes and eventually came to the conclusion that it would be too complicated. They advised us that our best strategy would be to give Parliament the opportunity to speak loudly and clearly through legal mechanisms as to what it wished to see happen in the country, and then let us get on with it.

-

    The Chair: And when the Department of Justice gets involved, things proceed at a glacial speed, as we all know--and you would know that, Mr. Dion, too.

    Thank you, Mr. Finney. It was very helpful.

    The meeting is adjourned.