Thank you, Madam Chair.
I sit before you today to provide testimony in support of this bill. There is a broad base of support for this initiative on the north coast, where I live. The people who live in the region have been working for almost four decades to realize this day.
In our submission, you have several pieces from various municipalities that have felt compelled to provide support for this bill as well. They have written to both the and the minister himself. Our MP, , has felt compelled over the years to also speak on this issue. He brought forward a private member's bill some years ago with regard to the issue.
For those of us who live on the north coast, it is an extremely important place. We rely heavily on the resources within that region for economic, recreational, and personal use. We have for years feared an oil spill and the repercussions of that in terms of how our lives would fold out. I don't know how to equate for you the value that exists there for us. We have lived on that piece of land for a long time. Many of my neighbours are from first nations who have been there for centuries. We all rely upon the ocean there. We all rely upon the resources. Those resources are, to us, more important than the other industries that have been brought to us as economies. The economy we wish to see in the region is that of fish, of forestry, and of an ocean that we can rely upon for tourism for generations to come.
This bill, we hope, will provide us with the protection we've been looking for. For years and years, we have been trying to get this kind of initiative in place, to find some protection for our homes and the place in which we live. This place is a national treasure, to our minds. It's a spot that has huge abundance and great wealth in terms of the natural resources provided by the marine environment. We subsist on a lot of this, and we don't want to see it lost. We believe this bill will provide us the surety we are looking for, and provide surety for generations to come. The resources that exist there are invaluable. There's no way you could put a value or a price on this resource. Therefore, it is extremely important to us.
Canada itself has been working for the last couple of decades, feverishly in some respects, to provide protection for the oceans that surround our country, and is looking at 10% protection overall. We're hoping this bill will in turn play into that role and will help sustain that protection. For those of us who live there, it is not just a matter of an economy. It is a matter of our lifestyle and the quality of life we enjoy. For us, the belief is that it's time, as it has been for a long time, to come to this conclusion and finally protect what is an extremely beautiful place.
I'm not sure if the committee will allow it, but I have brought a cookbook for the committee members. This is not just “a” cookbook: this is part of my testimony today. It's a testimonial by the people who live in the region where I live. The recipes are their own recipes. The testimonials that accompany the recipes will in part inform you of the value we place upon those resources that are on our doorstep. It's one that we would gladly trade for...nothing. There's nothing that we could trade for it. The ocean, for us, is not just a place to generate an economy. It's a place that we live in and that sustains us.
It's time we showed this area the respect it requires. I would urge that this bill be brought forward and passed.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill .
Sierra Club BC strongly supports this oil tanker moratorium act. However, to truly protect the coast and all who depend on it, we believe the bill needs to be strengthened in four key ways, outlined in our written brief, which I am told you will be getting very shortly: limiting the ministerial exemption to emergency circumstances; including refined oil under the scope of the bill; decreasing the tonnage threshold to 3,200 tonnes, which, according to a recent Transport Canada report, is the maximum needed for community fuel supply; and expanding the geographic scope to prohibit vessels above 3,200 tonnes from transporting crude or refined oil through Hecate Strait, Dixon Entrance, and Queen Charlotte Sound.
We believe these amendments are necessary, because oil spill cleanup is effectively impossible, and because B.C.'s north coast, the Great Bear Rainforest, is a unique and special place, truly a global treasure worth protecting.
Some years ago, I was invited to a feast at the Gitga’at Nation in Hartley Bay. The table in the big house was loaded with food from the ocean, food you can't find in a grocery store: smoked eulachon, sea cucumbers, and sea lion. The seaweed was particularly good, so I asked around to see if I could buy some to take home. The next morning, a woman came up to me and gifted me a big bag of seaweed; she wouldn't let me pay. In return, she said, I could help them stop the tankers.
It's difficult to overemphasize how the narrow waterways of the north coast are the breadbasket, livelihood, and culture to coastal communities. This is a place where you can watch a spirit bear catch a salmon, catch a whiff of a sea lion colony, and come eye to eye with the coastal wolves that eat seafood. Even on land, the globally recognized Great Bear Rainforest depends on a healthy ocean. The bears eat barnacles, and the trees actually grow bigger in years with good salmon runs. There is nowhere else on earth like it, so we commend the government for introducing Bill .
This bill is an important step in preventing oil spills. In the case of a spill, what industry considers a success—10% to 15% recovery in accessible locations in good weather—is really a disaster for the communities and ecosystems left behind. While improving our spill response capacity is a good thing, having a bigger mop doesn't actually prevent the spills from happening in the first place.
In October of last year, the Nathan E. Stewart ran aground in Heiltsuk territory. This was an articulated tug barge that transported petroleum products between Washington state and Alaska. Fortunately, the fuel barge was empty. Even so, the sinking of the tug spilled over 100,000 litres of diesel, contaminating important harvesting and cultural sites. The response was slow, uncoordinated, and completely ineffectual for the conditions. Booms broke, and waves crashed over the booms. Fisheries are still closed. The Nathan E. Stewart provides a sobering reminder of the challenges of spill response in remote locations, and that social, economic, and environmental impacts can be very severe from even a relatively small spill of refined oil products. Note that I am not talking about just crude oil or persistent oil, but also the impacts of refined oil spills.
There are two refineries undergoing environmental assessment in northern B.C. that would result in supertankers carrying refined oil. These non-persistent oils are acutely toxic to marine organisms. The risk of an oil spill was a key motivating factor in why so many municipalities, first nations, unions, regional districts, businesses, and individuals over the years spoke out against Enbridge's Northern Gateway proposal, and why coastal first nations have declared a ban on tankers in their territories.
This government has broad-based public support for a tanker ban. However, the expectation is that the bill prohibit all tankers, not just some tankers. As I have outlined, this can be done through amendments that continue to allow for community fuel supply while prohibiting articulated tug barges, as well as tankers, from carrying refined oil.
While Bill focuses on the north coast, it must be mentioned that oil tankers also pose a huge risk to the communities, the economy, and the wildlife on the south coast of B.C., and that LNG tankers are a safety hazard. True coastal protection would ban oil and gas tankers, both north and south. Then, instead of investing in spill response, we could support the wild salmon economy and expand renewable energy production that could generate jobs without damaging our climate or putting our coast at risk of spills.
Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the committee.
The West Coast Environmental Law Association also strongly supports Bill , the oil tanker moratorium act. We've prepared a written brief, which I understand has yet to be translated. In that brief, we make a number of points, but I'm going to focus particularly on one of those right now, which is the clause 6 exemption provision that allows the minister to exempt oil tankers from the bill's prohibitions.
However, I will note that in our written brief we also address issues such as a recommendation to create a regulation-making power for appropriate public disclosure of monitoring enforcement information under the bill, as well as a recommendation about seeking further information from Transport Canada on the 12,500-tonne threshold when the oil supply study that Ms. Vernon mentioned indicated that supplies to communities are currently in the amount of approximately 3,200 tonnes.
I'm happy to answer questions on those, but I will focus on clause 6 and in particular recommend three amendments to clause 6, which we say would preserve its sensible purpose of allowing for the provision of necessary oil supplies during dire emergencies while adding three crucial safeguards to protect the purpose of the bill and the public's access to information, each of which I'll address in turn.
First, we recommend that clause 6 explicitly limit the use of the exemption provision to circumstances that, in the opinion of the minister, constitute an emergency. Currently under clause 6, the minister may issue oil tanker exemptions for any reason that the minister believes to be in the public interest or essential for community and industry resupply. The exemption provision is not limited to emergencies, and it could be used to grant oil tanker exemptions for other purposes, including those potentially contrary to the purpose of the bill.
Minister Garneau has been very clear before this committee and in the House that the purpose of the exemption provision is solely and exclusively to respond to dire emergencies. We say that the clause 6 exemption provisions should reflect that in order to ensure that the provision is not used for other purposes.
Second, we recommend imposing an expiry period for oil tanker exemption orders under clause 6 with ministerial authority to order extensions as necessary. We propose an expiry period of one year for oil tanker exemption orders and orders to extend them, although we note there's no magic in that number provided there is an expiry period of a relatively short term.
Currently under clause 6, the minister may order oil tanker exemptions for any period of time without restriction, including potentially long-term or even indefinite exemptions. We say that setting a default term for oil tanker exemption orders would greatly curtail potential use of the exemption provision for long-term objectives that are incompatible with the bill's purpose, and also reflect the reality that, in general, emergencies are not likely to require long-term oil tanker exemptions. At the same time, the ability to order extensions of those orders would provide flexibility to maintain exemptions for longer periods where required.
Third, we recommend adding a simple requirement that oil tanker exemption orders be published in the Canada Gazette. Currently, legal requirements for public notice of access to exemption orders are explicitly removed by subclause 6(2) of Bill . That is because the Statutory Instruments Act and its regulations generally require publication of statutory instruments in the Canada Gazette and provide for public access to and the right to copy statutory instruments.
However, those provisions would not apply to an oil tanker exemption order under the bill, because subclause 6(2) says the Statutory Instruments Act does not apply. The apparent rationale is to ensure that exemption orders can enter into effect quickly with a minimum of procedural requirements during an emergency. We don't propose disturbing that approach. Rather, we simply recommend adding a requirement to publish the orders in the Canada Gazette to ensure that the public has proper notice of such exemptions.
In summary, the clause 6 exemption provision could, if used to its full extent as currently drafted, allow wide-ranging and long-term exemptions from the bill's oil tanker prohibitions to be ordered behind closed doors without appropriate public review, potentially gutting the very purpose of the oil tanker moratorium act. We fully understand that this is not the minister's intention. He has been very clear on that point. However, given that, as the minister stated to this committee, the purpose of the bill is to preserve the pristine north coast for posterity, we say, then, that the bill's provisions must stand the test of time. This requires firm prohibitions that cannot be easily circumvented in future through the use of a broad exemption power.
The three amendments that we propose to section 6 would achieve this goal, providing ample flexibility for oil tanker exemptions when necessary, during emergencies, while eliminating uncertainty about whether the exemption provision could, in future, be used for purposes other than that, and potentially those contrary to the spirit of the bill.
I am very familiar with the Queen of the North
and the incident that took place there. This is a vessel, a ferry, part of BC Ferries' fleet, that essentially found itself aground. This was through human error. This is not due to technology or anything else. This is just the fallibility of humanity. We make mistakes. It's as simple as that.
That is still an issue for us. We have a ferry that is sitting in 200 fathoms of water and will at some point begin to discharge its fuel. We have another old vessel from the Second World War, an American vessel just north of that, that has been leaking fuel for years. The Canadian government last year spent an inordinate amount of money trying to clean that up.
We're looking down the road at an incident. It's just sitting there at the moment, but as the materials and metals dissolve and dissipate, that oil will be released into the water. What that will mean for the people of Hartley Bay and the ecosystem of that area is hard to say, other than that we know it will be detrimental.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, guests, for being here, and providing your testimony, and also for the passion you have on this topic.
I have a few questions for Mr. Smith, but others can jump in if they feel they want to.
With regard to the definition of emergency, could you elaborate on what you think it should be? You referenced the minister's comment about dire emergency. Is there a definition that your organization has, or that you feel would be a good amendment to this bill?
It's hard to add to what Des just said.
I recently had the privilege of travelling to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, a place that people in the world know as being rich in biodiversity. Honestly, the abundance of life, marine and land, that I saw there reminded me of the Great Bear Rainforest. The diversity of life in the Great Bear Rainforest on B.C.'s north coast is unlike anything else in North America. It is a place where, on a boat one day, I saw sea otters on one side, orca whales over here, humpback whales over there. It's hard to know where to look. There are cultures who have been depending on the land for tens of thousands of years. The land and sea are intricately connected, so the Great Bear Rainforest, forest jobs, wildlife, tourism, the trees, the bears, the wolves, everything depends on salmon. Everything depends on a healthy marine environment. The people depend on a healthy marine environment. We're talking about rich biodiversity. We're talking about incredible opportunities for tourism. We're talking about the fisheries economy. We're talking about cultures. Everything depends on a healthy marine environment. A catastrophic large-scale oil spill would destroy all of that.
I can speak to that again.
The Great Bear Rainforest is the world's largest intact coastal temperate rainforest. The agreements that have been formed between first nations, industry, government, and environmental groups have been recognized globally. We don't need industrial sacrifices to support our economy; we can find ways for communities to thrive and prosper within ecological limits. All of these agreements that have been recognized, that have been signed, depend on a healthy marine environment. The salmon literally provides food for the trees. The bears depend on the salmon. The edge between land and sea is permeated; it's not a firm boundary. Everything depends on everything else, and so the integrity of the ecosystems of the Great Bear Rainforest, which is truly a global treasure, depend on a healthy ocean and depend on bills such as Bill , and I would argue even more strongly, on prohibiting refined oils and articulated tug barges like the Nathan E. Stewart which also have an impact on the rainforest.
I don't know if either of you wants to say something else.
This connects in part to Mr. Hardie's question.
With regard to the 12,500-tonne threshold, we're recommending that the committee seek further information from Transport Canada about why the 12,500-tonne threshold was selected, when the study released by Transport Canada in October this year indicated that fuel barges for resupply on B.C.'s north coast have a cargo capacity ranging from 1,600 to 3,200 tonnes. That would be the actual capacity of the barge. The threshold is obviously about four times that amount. It wasn't clear to us in reviewing the study why it would be necessary to have a threshold four times that amount.
We've previously suggested that the threshold be as low as possible in order to ensure both that the region is protected from larger spills and that future project proposals for large increases of crude or persistent oil marine traffic in the region aren't put forward. We would suggest to the committee that they seek further information from Transport Canada about whether the 12,500-tonne threshold could indeed achieve that objective, and why it was selected.
I'm calling the meeting back to order.
While our witnesses get prepared, on November 9, we are having the supplementary estimates. I assume, as with the normal process, we will request that department officials as well as the minister come for the supplementary estimates.
Is that all right with everybody?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Great. Thank you very much.
As our witnesses, we have Robert Hage, fellow of Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
Mr. Hage, would you like to start?
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I should say that I've timed my remarks. They're five minutes and 30 seconds, so perhaps you would grant me the other 30 seconds.
During my 38 years in the Canadian Foreign Service, I have had the opportunity to work in the department's legal bureau, including a period as director general for legal affairs. I was also a representative for Canada at the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea.
I have written two articles relevant to the committee's work for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. The first is the “Legal Aspects of an Oil Tanker Ban: Bill C-211”, which I wrote in 2012; and “Risk, Prevention, and Opportunity: Northern Gateway and the Marine Environment”, which I wrote in 2015.
was the last of five Liberal or NDP private members' bills between 2007 and 2011 to legislate an oil tanker ban on B.C.'s west coast in an area north of Vancouver Island. I wrote that this “opens a Pandora's box of issues involving the United States, including Canada's historic claims to these waters, the Alaska Panhandle boundary, the passage of nuclear submarines, innocent passage, and fishing rights.”
All five bills ban tanker traffic in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, and Queen Charlotte Sound, an area under Canadian legislation known as fishing zone 3. The key issue is the nature of the Alaska boundary, called the A-B line, adjacent to Dixon Entrance. Canada claims that the 1903 British-American arbitration, which delimited this boundary, created both a land and maritime boundary. The U.S. position is that the A-B line is a land boundary only and does not demarcate an ocean boundary. It has claimed a territorial sea south of the line, thereby creating a disputed maritime area where each nation has arrested the fishing vessels of the other.
Since the 1890s, Canada has maintained that Dixon Entrance is part of the historic internal waters of Canada. Canada has made similar claims for Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. While the previous bills banned tankers sailing within the defined waters of fishing zone 3, prohibits tankers carrying crude oil from entering or leaving ports in the same area.
In focusing on the use of Canadian ports, the government has avoided a confrontation with the United States over the status of these waters. A May 12, 2017, media report quotes 's response to reporters' questions about why does not ban tankers simply passing through Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, or Queen Charlotte Sound. Minister Garneau replied that “such passage is allowed by international law, but it is effectively stopped under a voluntary tanker exclusion zone that the U.S. and Canada agreed some 30 years ago.”
However, for years, Canada has claimed these waters to be internal waters of Canada, where passage is governed by Canadian law and not international law. The U.S. maintains that its rights indeed are governed by international law and has sent numerous diplomatic notes in that regard.
The rather odd result under the bill is that tankers carrying crude oil can still ply these waters as long as they do not enter or leave from a Canadian port. The legislation also does not apply to tankers transporting refined oil. It does not apply to B.C.'s southern waters, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca or the Port of Vancouver-Burnaby, the site of the Kinder Morgan tanker terminal.
Enbridge's Northern Gateway project was cancelled by the government, and the government always has the right to deny any future proposal for a terminal. This raises the question of why such legislation is required at all. The only pipeline and terminal project that the moratorium act affects is the proposed Eagle Spirit Energy corridor, which initially would build an oil pipeline across first nations traditional lands from Fort McMurray to a terminal on Lax Kw’alaams coastal lands, north of Prince Rupert.
In the 2015 article, I looked at Alaska's experience involving its native people and petroleum development. The United States government created 12 regional profit-making native corporations designed to give indigenous peoples the means to ensure their financial independence through their corporate ownership of large tracts of land and the opportunity to develop that land. The results have been very positive. One corporation on the north slope is the state's largest Alaskan-owned corporation, with over 10,000 employees. Another, on the Gulf of Alaska, designed, built, and operates the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, along with one of the world's largest spill preparedness and response organizations.
While Canada has not created similar native corporations, I believe the proposed Eagle Spirit Energy corridor on traditional first nations territory mirrors this partnership approach, with indigenous peoples very much in the driver's seat. It is paradoxical that this tanker legislation puts an end to a first nations project, which they see as an important move towards reconciliation.
I thank you for your attention, and I'm pleased to respond to any questions.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you very much for inviting me to be here today.
In the remarks that follow, I'm focusing mostly on elements related to my areas of interest, which are crude markets and energy markets in general as well as the impact of the proposed ban on our ability to maximize value from our resources and from the processing of the resources.
Importantly, the ban before us today focuses on tankers carrying any combination of crude oil and heavy or refined products including synthetic crudes, anything heavier than diesel or jet fuel, in an amount greater than 12,500 metric tons, an amount that would make it a tradeable commodity, essentially. It takes out from the consideration of our crude marketers and refined product marketers the strategic deepwater ports of Kitimat, Kitsault, and Prince Rupert, and of course it provides important protection to the islands in and around Haida Gwaii.
Importantly, it wouldn't affect gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel imports or exports, nor would it affect LNG. The latter is, of course, of particular importance, because we have LNG terminals proposed and/or approved for each of those three deepwater ports in question.
However, I'd like to focus the committee's attention a little bit on our refined products market, where we have refined product production that's broadly expected to increase in Canada with the addition of the Redwater refinery in addition to two major proposals on the west coast, one for Kitimat and one for Prince Rupert. While it's easy to say that this ban does not affect refined products, that's not strictly true, because it does affect some of the products of production, primarily the heavier fuel oils, lubricants, and waxes that would be challenged were this ban to be implemented.
The rationale for that ban, on one hand, is simple. On the other hand, it's very hard to reconcile with our other marine protected areas and such zones.
has referred to it as protecting a 400-kilometre stretch of coastal temperate rainforest, which is one of nature's truly spectacular sites. Both the and the minister have said something along the lines of the Great Bear region being no place for an oil pipeline, and it's no place for oil tankers either. I think the crux of my remarks is to remind you that such a statement is not without cost, first of all, but it's also not without a degree of inconsistency in the way we treat protected areas.
Today we have, as Mr. Hage presented, no proposed oil pipelines that would affect any of these ports. The remaining proposed oil pipelines would affect the Port of Vancouver or southern access via Keystone XL. However, neither of those pipelines is a sure thing.
I think we want to be very careful about eliminating the option value that exists with having additional ports on the west coast. I think it's also important that we don't ignore the role of rail in this discussion, in that CN currently moves significant quantities of oil and refined products through Prince Rupert and has estimated that, in the absence of other export capacity, it would be able to move significantly further volumes via their infrastructure at Prince Rupert, which would enable Canada to realize higher value for its crude oil.
I mentioned the refineries already. I won't go back into that again. Let me say finally, with respect to inconsistency, that I think it behooves the government to go beyond a one-off determination of areas of natural significance. I've had the opportunity to visit the area. It's indeed a spectacular area, a magnificent landscape, but it's far from the only such area in Canada.
I would call upon the government to consider that we do have oil tankers that ply a lot of waters that I personally hold dear, and I think many other Canadians do, such as the Newfoundland coast, the Fundy shore, the St. Lawrence River, etc. I think we need to consider not just a one-off in the creation of a special category of marine protected area but define well the characteristics that we think apply in a circumstance, and consider the areas to which such similar controls might well apply in other areas of the country.
It's not for me to decide whether this particular area merits special protection, but I think if we are going to merit that special protection, we should define the conditions under which it holds and examine the other areas of Canada that would merit such protection as well.
Thank you very much for inviting me to appear today.
Good afternoon, Madam Chair and members of the committee. I appreciate the opportunity to offer a few observations and a recommendation on this important legislation.
My comments are provided from the perspective of commercial shipping, marine transportation and, more generally, international trade. The Chamber of Shipping represents interests of shipowners, their agents, and service providers responsible for over 60% of Canadian international trade by ship. Some of our members also move bulk liquids and products of all types, including petroleum and chemical products, on both the east and west coasts.
Marine transportation includes everything from people in ferries and cruise ships to bulk commodities such as grain that is exported to Asia, to larger container ships moving goods that Canadian companies sell globally, and manufacturing goods that Canadians use in their day-to-day lives. Needless to say, marine transportation and its many spinoffs benefit and touch Canadians in their day-to-day lives.
I've been involved personally with marine conservation initiatives on all three of Canada's coasts and on the Great Lakes, and I am a member of the national Species at Risk advisory committee. As a former senior officer in the Royal Canadian Navy, I was also responsible for monitoring and coordinating surveillance in support of coastal protection. The Great Bear Sea on the north coast of British Columbia is indeed one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world and has enormous cultural significance to the people who live there, and it contains important resources for British Columbia's economy. Protecting it should be a priority, and in that respect, I doubt that anyone would question that goal.
Protection of our coastal environment goes hand in hand with being able to build trust with both Canadians and our international shipping customers. Furthermore, the ability to protect our coastal environment responsibly will also ensure the continued competitiveness of our trading gateways at a time when competitive pressures, especially from the United States, are increasing. This region is also an important trading gateway for Canada. It includes the country's fastest growing port, the Port of Prince Rupert, in addition to a number of smaller ports that afford future opportunities.
Within this context, there are three aspects of the proposed legislation that I would suggest are worthy of consideration by the committee. The first is the process and study that supported the identification and the list of scheduled commodities. The schedule was somewhat of a surprise when it was announced in May of this year, and until only recently the study that supported the decision to limit the scheduled commodities was also unavailable.
The study appears to have lacked some consultation with shipowners and operators, who currently move some of the products included on the proposed schedule. If the dialogue would have happened, those leading the study would have learned that most shipowners do not ship small quantities of a single product in a single sailing but frequently have cargo left on board that is destined for other ports. In this manner, a shipowner leverages efficiencies through multiple orders of a single or similar product. Limiting the quantity of scheduled commodities to 12.5 metric tonnes could result in unintended consequences, such as increased freight charges or a complete disruption in the supply chain.
Secondly, careful consideration should be given to whether the legislation is inconsistent with Canada's commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS. The intent of article 9 of this convention is to ensure that all ships, unless operating in a manner prejudicial to peace, good order, and security of another country, shall be provided innocent passage.
Article 24 reinforces this requirement on a coastal state, demanding that it shall not impose requirements on foreign ships which have the practical effect of denying or impairing the right of innocent passage. Furthermore, articles 194 and 211 also empower a nation to protect its marine environment and to harmonize, as much as possible, such laws and regulations with neighbouring states and international regulations more generally.
Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, this legislation establishes a precedent in Canada for managing our national supply chain and is another layer of complexity in the already multi-faceted supply chain, thereby making Canada a more complex country in which to operate. While the bill intends to embody the precautionary principle, it has not provided and is not providing a constructive framework for properly reviewing the maritime transportation supply chain of B.C.'s north coast.
I would like to make one simple recommendation. The proposed amendments to another piece of government legislation, namely Bill , an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, also embodies the precautionary principle. In the way that Bill C-55 takes a precautionary approach and then demands analysis and an evidence base to support a longer-term management plan, we heartedly recommend that the oil moratorium act also contain language that would require a risk assessment to be conducted at minimum every five years, such that it could inform the regulatory process of scheduled products.
In this manner Bill would take a similar approach to that of Bill , a harmonized approach. It would be grounded in an evidence-based analysis that would engage affected stakeholders collaboratively and would also provide a responsible legislative framework that could be sustained over the long term.
Thank you, again, for this opportunity, and I welcome any of your questions.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'm going to be about five minutes and 30 seconds, but I might talk a little faster because I'm nervous.
Thank you, again, for this opportunity to speak in favour of the oil tanker moratorium act.
As you know, or may even have experienced, British Columbia's north and central coast, along with Haida Gwaii, comprise a unique environment that is increasingly uncommon not just in Canada but in the world. It is an archipelago where lush forests and granite buttresses greet the sea, where grizzlies dig for clams in sight of the open Pacific, where wolves swim to distant islands in pursuit of seals, where the ethereal calls of killer whales are used to pursue salmon migrating thousands of kilometres to freshwater rivers of a forest, and where the summer sun sets on the blows of feeding humpback whales that are surrounded by thousands of shearwaters, auklets, and gulls, all in pursuit of tiny fish that spawn on a sandy shore or on the giant kelps that buffer the fragile coast shoreline.
All this is to say that this assembly of iconic animals makes the B.C. coast qualitatively different from most other exceptional places in the world. Distinctively, these animals are tied to the sea within a food web that knows no boundary between terrestrial and marine. Raincoast's two decades of published science studying coastal species confirms the knowledge that first nations have held for millennia. The coastal environment is an indivisible blend of land and ocean. What befalls the ocean, befalls the species of the land. It is no place for oil tankers.
Three recent academic papers by Raincoast are directly pertinent to the bill before you. First is a paper derived from our 10,000 nautical miles of surveys through the waters that Bill addresses, a region we refer to as the Queen Charlotte Basin. The paper, “Quantifying marine mammal hotspots” is a response to the overwhelming evidence that humans are contributing to rapid declines in marine species, particularly in coastal areas. This reality dictates the urgent need to identify important places for marine species, places where ocean processes and high species abundance interact to create hotspots.
We found that southeastern Haida Gwaii, outer Queen Charlotte Sound, the Scott Islands, Caamaño Sound, Calvert Island, Aristazabal Island, Chatham Sound, and Dixon Entrance are all places of exceptionally high marine mammal abundance. These areas all lie within the waters identified in Bill .
A second paper on spills and marine mammals evaluates the consequences of potential oil exposure on 21 species of B.C. marine mammals. All marine mammals are inherently vulnerable to oil spills because they live their lives at the air-water interface where oil contact, inhalation, or ingestion can all occur.
We found that British Columbia's killer whales, Steller's sea lions, and sea otters ranked very high in terms of vulnerability to oil spills. Their elevated risk above other marine mammals is due to their small populations, their slow reproductive rates, their specialized diets, and the tendency for large percentages of the population to group together in space and time.
Our third paper on marine birds and chronic oil pollution, along with the book, At Sea with Marine Birds, by Dr. Caroline Fox, identifies marine bird species considered to be at elevated risk of extinction and those with a pronounced vulnerability to oil spills. Marine birds in this region are vulnerable to oil spills in any volume, large or small. Bill reduces the threat of catastrophic oil spills to at-risk marine birds and their habitats.
Lastly, Bill C-48 addresses the rising problem of underwater shipping noise disrupting the communication and feeding of cetaceans, and the growing threat of ship strikes. As on the east coast, Pacific shipping is a growing concern for large baleen whales like fin, sei, humpback, and the handful of critically endangered North Pacific right whales that inhabit these waters.
Over the last decade, Raincoast has tried to express what this maritime commons means to the people of British Columbia. Simply, it is a coastal archipelago that is priceless and irreplaceable, immeasurable in monetary terms.
We've also articulated the unequivocal evidence of decadal-scale biological changes that marine systems and species are undergoing, the ecological debt, and the perils of hidden consequences. But we held hope that the proposed industrialization of British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Basin was a step too far. My presence here is proof that it was.
As we codify a moratorium on oil tanker traffic into law, whales hunted to near collapse a century ago are returning to their historic feeding grounds. Bill honours the ecological legacy of this coast and the first nations people who existed with this landscape since time before memory. We will continue our work to ensure that this priceless and irreplaceable coast continues its evolutionary journey, and we will mark Bill C-48 as an essential step in determining that future.
The convention, which I have here, is largely now customary international law. Parts of it were already part of customary international law. This was the third attempt by the United Nations to get a worldwide convention, and they succeeded. It's quite remarkable.
The Americans certainly do support all the customary international law aspects of the Law of the Sea, and they are bound by the territorial sea, the economic zone, the right of innocent passage, and the right to navigation in the EEZ. All of those things they comply with, and they certainly expect Canada to comply with them as well. They don't cease to tell us that.
At the same time, there are certain aspects that you get from being a party of the convention, and one of them is dispute settlement. Another is the determination of the outer limits of the continental shelf, particularly in the Arctic. The Americans, we believe, cannot take advantage of that until they become a party, and the reason they haven't been is largely over seabed mining, which is another aspect that is not so consequential.
The Americans uphold all the aspects of the Law of the Sea that are relevant to what we're discussing here today. The dispute over the A-B line—the Alaska boundary and its nature—goes back to that arbitration, as I said, in 1903. Prior to that time, Canada had already said that Dixon Entrance was an internal water of Canada. Interestingly, the Americans didn't object to that until later.
It's important for us to maintain that position, which we've maintained for more than a hundred years now, that the waters in that area are internal to Canada and that we can exercise Canadian law in those waters. That's why the first attempts to legislate a moratorium focused on that area, fishing zone 3, where we could, under our interpretation, say “no traffic of tankers”.
I think the government switched that approach to avoid an argument with the United States. We have control over our ports: access to and from our ports. The Americans can't object to that, so I think that's the basis of the legislation.
Again, I'm by no means an expert in spill response or behaviour of spilled petroleum, so I want to avoid making any comments in that area.
In terms of where I highlighted the list and where I think there are some issues, first of all, insofar as it would relate to any potential refining asset on the west coast, understand that those refineries produce a wide slate of products. It's not simply a matter of saying that we want the high-value stuff and we don't want the low-value stuff, or that we want the light ends and we don't want the heavy ends. You want to make sure you have options to move those products. A lot of those refinery products tend to be products that have thinner markets, the ones where you would be able to take advantage of having an export market.
We saw the most recent National Energy Board forecast. Fossil fuel demand in general and refined product demand are forecast to peak in Canada. Gasoline has already peaked, according to their analysis. We're going to see more of a push, even from our existing refineries, to be able to move those products to markets. Where are those markets? They're not in the U.S. The U.S. is seeing the same changes we are, and they're already a big net exporter of products. If we want those refineries to continue to have markets for their products....
It's a gasoline, diesel, and jet business, but you want everything to be able to move to its highest-value market to make those businesses as viable as possible.
Thank you, Madam Chair. I'm going to have a couple of quick questions, and then I'm going to pass it to Mr. Hardie, as this is, I'm sure, of great interest to him, this being his area and jurisdiction.
With respect to the voluntary moratorium, it's been in place since 1985. Within that time, we've seen environmental assessments that have taken place, and environmental assessments that have in fact attached themselves to economic assessments, and with those came recommendations involving communities, municipalities, first nations, etc.
My first question is, what do you think is going to change if the moratorium bill becomes an actual act?
A voice: Is that to me?
Mr. Vance Badawey: It's to anyone who wants to answer.