REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

has the honour to present its


Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-16, An Act to amend certain Acts that relate to the environment and to enact provisions respecting the enforcement of certain Acts that relate to the environment, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, May 27, 2009, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment. Your committee appends to this report certain observations relating to the bill.

Respectfully submitted,  

Deputy chair of the committee for W. David Angus, chair of the committee

Observations to the Eighth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

(Bill C-16)  

Your committee has the following observations:

First, your committee has heard concerns that Bill C-16 may contravene certain of Canada‚Äôs international obligations under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC), and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), particularly with respect to provisions which contemplate imprisonment of mariners convicted of various environmental offences.  

In recommending passage of this bill without amendment, your committee is relying largely on the testimony of the Honourable Minister that prosecutions under respective Acts will not proceed if such prosecutions would contravene any treaty or international convention to which Canada is a signatory.  Your committee will follow prosecutions and sentencing under C-16 with great interest and careful scrutiny.   

Second, Bill C-16 seeks to deter would-be polluters by strengthening enforcement provisions of environmental statutes.  In general, witnesses before your committee were supportive of the bill.  However, some raised a specific concern regarding these increased penalties for discharging waste into water.  Ships need to discharge waste as part of their normal operations.  Currently, a lack of reception facilities at Canadian ports leaves mariners with no legal means to discharge waste.  Recognizing that the provision of reception facilities is crucial for the effective implementation of pollution prevention treaties, the International Maritime Organization strongly encourages port States under the MARPOL Convention to provide adequate reception facilities.  Witnesses appearing before your committee stressed the need for these facilities at Canadian ports, and your committee endorses this view.  Strong deterrence measures, absent realistic means of complying with the law, are unreasonable.

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