Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Issue 17 - Evidence

OTTAWA, Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, theEnvironment and Natural Resources, to which was referredBill S- 12, concerning personal watercraft in navigable waters, met this day at 5:08 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Ethel Cochrane (Deputy Chairman) in the chair.


The Chairman: We have with us today Mr. Hawkins andMr. Haga. Mr. Haga is Executive Director and Privacy Officer, and Mr. Hawkins is the Executive Director of the Quebec Branch of the Lifesaving Society. Their offices are in Montreal.

The Deputy Chairman: I would assume that you have a statement to make before questions. Please proceed.

Mr. Rick Haga, National Executive Director and Privacy Officer, Lifesaving Society: Yes, I do. Good evening, honourable senators, ladies and gentlemen. We appreciate this opportunity to present our thoughts and position with respect toBill S-12, concerning personal watercraft in navigable waters.

As some of you may or may not be aware, the society is Canada's life guarding experts. We are a Canadian,national, volunteer organization and registered charity. We are a volunteer-based organization and we rely on volunteers and a small complement of staff to carry out our mission to prevent drownings and water-related accidents for Canadians. Our programs cover a wide range of areas of emphasis including lifesaving, lifeguarding, learn to swim, public education, first aid, aquatic safety management and boating. The society is the governing body for lifesaving sport and we have memberships in the International Lifesaving Federation and the Royal Lifesaving Society Commonwealth.

We have been conducting drowning research in Canada for over 10 years. At the outset, it is worth noting that we are encouraged by the continuing long-term downward trend of drowning incidents and that our drowning prevention initiatives and those of some of our partners are contributing to the decrease.

The good news is that the long-term trend downward of drowning incidents in Canada continues. For 2001, which is the most recent year of drowning fatalities on which we have data, there were 431 drownings and preventable water- related deaths. That marked the fifth consecutive year that a record low has been reached. We have national data on the last five years from 1997 to 2001. During that period, there were 2,523 Canadianwater-related deaths, which is a decrease of 20 per cent from the previous five-year total. In 1996, there were 617 water-related deaths.

However, drowning is still the third leading cause of unintentional deaths of Canadians under 60 years of age, surpassed only by motor vehicle collisions and poisoning. This makes drowning prevention a long-term commitment for the Lifesaving Society and its partners.

Our research over a five-year period shows that1,587 drownings occur while victims are engaged in recreational activities, including boating and playing in, on or near water. Boating accounts for 824 of those water-related fatalities, which represents 33 per cent of the total. Fatalities involving personal watercraft increased by 25, which is 14 per cent on a national basis, from 1997 to 2001. Deaths involving small power boats declined to 257 for that same five-year period, which represents34 per cent.

Fortunately, the absolute number is not that great relative to the number of power boats versus personal watercraft on Canadian waterways. We estimate that the number ofdeaths related to personal watercraft is 10 per year for every 100,000 craft. It is estimated that for the non-PWC power boats, there are six deaths for every 100,000, while canoes have a rate of three. It is important to note that the number of fatalities involving non-powered inflatable craft, which many of you have seen over the years, has increased substantially. There were nine deaths in 2001 and that rose sharply to 26 for that five-year period, which is about 37 per cent.

The society is opposed to the passage of Bill S-12 as it stands, and we would support some modifications. I understand senators have heard from experts at Transport Canada, otherboating-related organizations, and the Office of Boating Safety. Certainly from the testimony that I have read, some good suggestions have been put forward.

Our organization advocates and supports improved safety for all boating in Canada. We like to focus on three fundamental areas of emphasis in order to be successful from a Canada-wide perspective in reducing boating fatalities and incidents. While the prime objective of Bill S-12 is safety, its regulatory framework is applicable to PWCs and their users only. Given the drowning data research, it is our opinion that we should be looking at a Canadian solution to the issue that would encompass all recreational boating in Canada, not only personal watercraft. It would include jet boats, inflatables and all kinds of craft.

We know that many incidents in this country are the result of lack of knowledge and lack of boater training. In our view, education and boater training are critical. That is what we do as an organization. As well, there is the legislation and enforcement component.

Our organization believes that improved operator knowledge and training is essential to enhance safety on waterways in Canada. Some statistics that we reviewed in preparation for today included those prepared by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which determined that lack of appropriate instruction or education was a factor in 84 per cent of PWC accidents in 1996. This number may be a bit skewed, and it is an old number, but we do know that many incidents and accidents related not only to PWCs but also to power boats, canoes, rowboats and kayaks are due to a lack of knowledge and awareness. The wearing of personal flotation devices is a critical element in legislation for which we have been advocating.

We strongly support the expansion and improved delivery of the pleasure craft operator competency program under the umbrella of the Canadian Coast Guard. We work with Transport Canada to improve the program and the testing of operator proficiency for all boaters in Canada. As a boat training agency, we recognize that there have been fundamental problems with the program. We are as concerned, as I am sure is this group, with respect to the problems of the program, but solutions are on the table and there is some movement forward.

Knowledge and training can only be enhanced by on-water enforcement of boating regulations, which is a significant resource issue. We see a strength in Bill S-12 relevant to resources with the provision for local authorities, with the agreement of law enforcement officials, to determine what kind of restrictions for personal watercraft should be put in place. We would also encourage the inclusion of law enforcement officials in the development of these regulations. Enforcement is one of the most challenging issues related to the safety and use of all watercraft. It is important that we continue to work to improve the enforcement of those regulations in respect of all watercraft.

As senators are aware, the Canada Shipping Act prohibits the careless operation of a vessel. This means that no person shall operate a small vessel in a careless manner without due care and attention and without reasonable consideration of other persons. We know that, at the local level, there is a lack of awareness of this regulation, posting of regulations and education. There is a shared responsibility between the Canadian Coast Guard, the Office of Boating Safety and organizations such as ours to inform the general public.

The Lifesaving Society applauds the Senate for its ongoing commitment and work to improve boating safety in Canada. We agree that local knowledge of lakes should guide the use of all boating activities and effective legislation for the preservation and protection of Canada's ecosystem in harmony with the safe enjoyment and use of Canada's waterways. We encourage the Senate to develop effective regulations for all aspects of safe boating across Canada. To that end, we support the Canadianization of the model bill developed by the Personal Watercraft Association in the United States, which is a partnership of the industry that includes safe operation of personal watercraft, distances, interference with swimmers and non-motorized vessels.

I thank senators for this opportunity to present the position of the Lifesaving Society in respect of Bill S-12.

The Deputy Chairman: Does Mr. Hawkins have comments?

Mr. Raynald Hawkins, Executive Director (Quebec Branch), Lifesaving Society: No.

Senator Spivak: Mr. Haga, thank you for your presentation. I would like to make a couple of corrections, if I may. You referred to the U.S. National Safety Transportation Board and it is correct that 84 per cent of PWC operators studied by the board had no training, but the report does not conclude, as you suggested, that it was a factor in 84 per cent of the accidents; rather, it attributed accident cause to inattention, inexperience and inappropriate speed. These accounted for 70 per cent of the 814 accidents.

I would also like to say that the board concluded that there were problems of operator control during off-throttle situations and made recommendations to the manufacturers, for example, to evaluate personal watercraft design and make changes to improve operator control. To help prevent personal injuries, they should consider such items as off- throttle steering, braking, padded handle bars and operator equipment such as personal flotation devices and helmets.

You commented on personal flotation devices but, as you know, in Canada it is not yet mandatory to wear life jackets. Therefore, I would say that these are not matters of education alone; these are matters also of design and regulation.

Would you agree with that, since those are the U.S. Transportation National Safety Board's strong recommendations?

Mr. Haga: Thank you, senator, I appreciate that feedback.

I would agree that there is not one solution. I do not believe it is just a matter of education, I do not believe it is just a matter of legislation and that it is just a matter of enforcement. In the motor vehicle industry, we know that seat belt education alone did not solve the problems confronting that industry. Apart from changes in the seatbelts themselves, education and awareness were required. That is what I referred to earlier when I mentioned the three pillars, if you will. There must be some legislative teeth, there must be some education and then there must be enforcement.

If I may, I would reinforce the need for the mandatory wearing of personal flotation devices. That is the one solution to the problems in the boating community — and I know I am going outside the context of this hearing — that is critical and easy.

Senator Milne: You talked about 10 deaths per 100,000 PWCs, per year. What was the fatality rate for 100,000 boats per year?

Mr. Haga: I had indicated that the rate for non-PWC power boats was six deaths per year for every 100,000.

Senator Milne: Since the usage of PWCs seems to be almost twice as deadly as for other kinds of power boats, why are you against this bill?

Mr. Haga: There are certain elements in the bill that are important for consideration. It is not just a matter of one solution being incorporated in legislation. We need to look at the education component as well the enforcement component.

Senator Milne: Do you realize that the Senate can only consider legislation? We do not write regulations or guidelines, but we can introduce legislation.

Mr. Haga: Yes, I have been made aware of that, senator. I am aware that there is work being done by the Canadian Marine Advisory Committee to consider amendments and changes to the Canada Shipping Act to strengthen that component.

Senator Milne: Do you mean to change it from guidelines to regulations?

Mr. Haga: I am not sure if it is the intention to change from regulations or guidelines.

Senator Buchanan: May I ask a question of Senator Spivak? Maybe I misunderstood. Did you say that there are no regulations on life jacket use?

Senator Spivak: No, not at all. First, I do not think that is what I said. I just shook my head.

Senator Buchanan: No, you said there is no mandatory use.

Senator Spivak: I am sorry. In Canada, it is not mandatory. It is not regulated that you must wear life jackets. It is in the United States.

Senator Buchanan: You must have them in the boat. On the lake where I have a cottage, I know that the RCMP have picked people up because they did not have life jackets in their boats. It is mandatory.

Senator Spivak: Yes, but it is not the law.

Senator Milne: As far as I know, it is mandatory to have them in the boat, but not worn by a person.


Mr. Raynald Hawkins, Executive Director (Quebec Branch): Mr. Chairman, I would like to clarify something. Under Canadian law, all pleasure craft owners are required to have the right sizes and number of personal flotation devices, commonly called PFDs, or life jackets.

As for personal watercraft operators, under Canadian law, if an operator is not wearing a flotation device, there must be some additional equipment on board the watercraft. For that reason, the majority of personal watercraft users in Canada wear their flotation device, in order to limit the amount of equipment on board the watercraft.

According to a Canadian study done in cooperation with the Canada Safe Boating Council, kayakers and personal watercraft users wear personal flotation devices more than any other recreational boaters.


Senator Buchanan: That is right.

The Deputy Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Hawkins, for clearing that up.

Senator Adams: Mr. Haga, you say that the work of your organization is done mostly by volunteers.

Mr. Haga: Yes.

Senator Adams: I see you work with Transport Canada and with the Coast Guard. The figures of fatalities that you gave us, did most of those occur in recreational circumstances?Bill S-12 deals with the recreational use of water vehicles rather than boats used for other purposes.

You say you are in favour of Bill S-12 but, like some of our witnesses, you say that we need more regulation. How would those be enforced? Do we have enough manpower to enforce new regulations? If we do pass more regulations, cottage owners and ratepayers' organizations might see their taxes being raised to pay for the enforcement of new bylaws. Will the RCMP, the Coast Guard, or Transport Canada, be responsible to enforceBill S-12, if it passes?

Mr. Haga: I would imagine there would be an obligation on local community associations or municipalities to enforce the legislation, as well as the various police agencies across the country. The RCMP would play a role, as well as the OPP, the Quebec Provincial Police and, perhaps, conservation personnel.

Senator Adams: If we pass the bill, do they have enough people now to do that?

Mr. Haga: From what I am led to believe, that is a major problem. Enforcement resources are strapped. Ten, twenty or thirty years ago, more enforcement resources were dedicated to marine safety or marine enforcement than today. There have been some cutbacks. That would be a significant challenge to overcome.

Senator Adams: You are talking about training more people. Should people who wish to operate these vehicles be compelled to have the equivalent of a driver's licence for these vehicles? They might think twice about taking a six-year- old kid out on the back of a PWC if they do not have a licence to operate one. Should there be more education about watercraft?

Mr. Haga: Absolutely. Education is one of the cornerstones of what we need to do to solve this problem. Awareness, training and operator proficiency is also important. As Senator Spivak indicated, in the past, many personal watercraft owners went out and bought their PWC and did not have access to training. They did not have access to operator proficiency programs. More such programs are available today. That is an important element.

Senator Adams: I am of the view that anyone under the age of 16 years shoud not be allowed to operate an ATVs or a similar vehicle. Perhaps a notice to that effect should be posted on each piece of equipment. Do you agree with that?

Mr. Haga: Yes; absolutely.

Senator Moore: I am not sure whether you said that you are against the bill or you would like to see the bill amended to incorporate some changes that you could live with.

Mr. Haga: That is probably a fairer statement, yes.

Senator Moore: I do not think I heard you say you were against it. Does your organization look into the damage caused to the environment by these machines or to the pollution that they create?

Mr. Haga: No. We are certainly aware of the environmental concerns, but we are strictly focussed on boating safety, boat operator training and proficiency, not on the environment. As an organization, we do not want to see Canada's ecosystem damaged.

Senator Moore: I take it you are in favour of all vessels on the water being operated according to the rules of the water and observing proper navigational practices?

Mr. Haga: Absolutely.

Senator Moore: Have you ever watched these vessels being operated?

Mr. Haga: I have. I have seen some operated quite well and others operated quite aggressively and inappropriately.


Senator Massicotte: I have a question that may have already been answered. In the past few years, a number of changes have been made to the safety and handling of personal watercraft, and boaters are required to have some training. Has any decrease been seen in the number of fatalities and accidents since these steps were taken in Canada?

Mr. Hawkins: We are working with the coroners' offices all across Canada. Our data since the enactment of the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations are too recent to measure the impact of those regulations. However, in general, the trend is a downward one, both in Canada and in Quebec.

In 1990, when there was greater concern about drownings, there were, on average, around 125 drownings per year in Quebec. There are now around 90 drownings per year in Quebec. Over 15 years of awareness campaigns by the Lifesaving Society have been successful.

Based on police reports, we will begin to see the impact of the fact that operators are now required to have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. We have a series of questions for each survey we do. At present, we are unable to extract that data, because there is no national database to compare boaters who have an operator card under the regulations with those who do not. Nevertheless, it was naturally a very important step when personal watercraft and craft under four meters were included in 2002. As for other pleasure craft, we will have to wait until 2009 for them to be covered by the regulations.

As a result, I imagine we will soon be able to compile that data in order to measure the impact of the new regulations.

Senator Massicotte: Do you have an opinion on what the manufacturers are telling us about personal watercraft technology, and whether these vehicles can even be operated off throttle? Is that in your view an important safety feature?

Mr. Hawkins: To begin with, it is through training that people will be made aware. All personal watercraft operators in Canada must have an operator card. However, we have not yet managed to reach all personal watercraft owners, nor have we managed to reach all pleasure craft owners in Canada, and there is still a good number of them left. In Quebec, we are talking about close to 1.2 million recreational boaters. Of that number, we have managed to train around 400,000. So there are still 800,000 to be reached.

On the more mechanical side of personal watercraft, manufacturers are being pressured to limit the speed of these craft. And yet just this week, I have seen other types of craft on the St. Lawrence River going just as fast and maneuvering just as dangerously as personal watercraft. So in my opinion it is a matter of awareness raising. As an educator, I always say that you learn through repetition. The message has to be repeated year after year.

In Quebec, we have been running an awareness campaign that targets personal watercraft operators directly for ten years now. The data indicate that this campaign appears to have been successful. Of all drownings in Quebec, only 2 per cent are linked to personal watercraft.

We attribute our success to the fact that we are able to educate personal watercraft operators by approaching them directly at events. We have also worked with the dealers and various manufacturers to reinforce the training and awareness message. The results have been a bit slow coming, but in the long run, they will be positive.

Senator Massicotte: Transport Canada suggested to the committee that the regulations should require any craft heading away from shore to go out at least 200 metres before turning left or right. Some lakes in the United States apparently have this requirement. In your opinion, would that kind of requirement be a good thing?

Mr. Hawkins: We do know that heading perpendicularly out from shore is perhaps the best way to go. At the same time, you have to understand that it takes a certain speed to depart from a dock or shallow water. There are perhaps these constraints that the water skiing industry could tell us more about. The 30 metres currently referred to seem appropriate for all recreational boaters. There may be something that could be done with the legislation.

Senator Massicotte: Clearly, if we do that, there will be no more accidents with swimmers or kayaks because 200 metres is far enough. That would reduce the number of accidents.

Mr. Hawkins: The data on water-related incidents will enable us to make that connection. At this point in time, I cannot say specifically how these regulations will affect the data on recreational boating. However, the fact that Canadians are not wearing their flotation devices means that we have a lot more drownings in Canada. Barely 12 per cent of victims were wearing their flotation device. In Quebec, I have worked with coroner Jacques Bérubé on 55 recreational boating-related drownings. If those people had been wearing their flotation device, only five of those cases would have been investigated.

Here again, we need to toughen the requirement to wear a flotation device, especially because manufacturers have managed to invent devices that are entirely appropriate for each activity, be it kayaking, personal watercraft, waterskiing or large craft. There are now devices that inflate automatically if you fall in the water. There is no longer any reason not to wear them.


Senator Buchanan: Are you familiar with the proposal that was given to us last week by officials from Transport Canada, specifically Mr. John Forster, Assistant Deputy Minister?

Mr. Haga: Yes, I read the transcript.

Senator Buchanan: What do you think of their proposals to restrict the boating regulations? The first one they mentionedwas to restrict power-driven vehicles at a speed in excessof 10 kilometres per hour within 30 meters. That has been applied in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. In Nova Scotia, the department has made application for the same restriction there. The other guidelines, based on the United States Personal Watercraft Association's guidelines, include a public education initiative, a proposal of amendments to the boating restrictions and regulations, and the addition of a schedule, for example, requiring a straight-line course near shore, within 200 metres perhaps, applicable to all power-driven vehicles. Would you comment on that?

Mr. Haga: Certainly, we would support that approach from the perspective of safety and education. The establishment and harmonization of clear guidelines is critical. In essence, we would support that.

Senator Buchanan: We also came to the conclusion that, whether talking about Bill S-12 or about the current regulations under the Canada Shipping Act and the proposed amendments to those regulations, it boils down to one thing: enforcement. The problem with enforcement in most of the lakes with which I am familiar is that there are not enough people to do the job. Even though the RCMP and the Coast Guard would be involved in enforcement, there are not enough human resources to enforce the existing regulations, let alone additional regulations. That is the case whether the enforcement were to fall under the Canada Shipping Act, which would duplicate the proposed provisions in Bill S-12, or under Bill S-12.

Mr. Haga: Certainly, in addition to good legislation, education and awareness, enforcement is a critical area, and I recognize that the lack of resources is a problem. However, if the legislation were in place, the threat of enforcement could act as a strong deterrent. Until more resources are brought to bear, I would offer that as a possible solution.

Senator Buchanan: I am not opposed to Bill S-12, Senator Spivak, and your intent is credible. However, having been involved in government for many years, I have always been concerned about the duplication of legislation. It is ridiculous to have too many laws that duplicate one another. The Canada Shipping Act and its regulations cover power-driven vessels, including personal water craft. Is there any need to duplicate what we have and what we could strengthen by another bill?

Mr. Haga: I would agree with you, senator, that duplication is not the answer. Strengthening and improving legislation is perhaps the better solution. However, I recognize the frustration that many have faced with the length of time that that has taken. Certainly, from our perspective as members of the Canadian Marine Advisory Committee, from time to time, that has been a frustrating process for us as well. If there is any way to put more teeth into that process — to strengthen it in some way — or to speed it along, that would be good. I am not an expert in parliamentary or legislative procedures, but surely if a collective will exists, which seems to be the case, then that could be done.

Senator Buchanan: It is interesting that the current Canada Shipping Act does not require any new regulations or any new legislation to enforce it, but it does require amendments to the regulations to strengthen it. As well, there needs to be better enforcement. As Mr. Forster said, the department is willing to move as quickly as it can with these regulation changes. If that were to occur, the situation would be improved, but the enforcement problem would still exist.

Mr. Haga: Yes, but we would still have a problem with education and awareness due to limited resources at Transport Canada, the Office of Boating Safety and our organization. We are one of many organizations offering boater awareness programs and education programs, but it is a question of limited resources.

Senator Buchanan: We would have that same problem ifBill S-12 were passed. I simply do not like duplication. We could correct the situation with amendments to the current Canada Shipping Act and regulations. We will not eliminate the Canada Shipping Act, so there would be two separate pieces of duplicate legislation. Do you think that is right?

Mr. Haga: Personally, from my limited knowledge, I do not believe that that is a viable solution. If there is any way to strengthen the Canada Shipping Act, with respect to personal watercraft, then we should do so. As well, if there are flaws in the Canada Shipping Act with respect to personal watercraft or other boating areas, we should deal with those as well.


Mr. Hawkins: I would like to talk about an experience we had in Quebec. You know that all municipalities across Canada can make an application under the Boating Restriction Regulations. I was one of the Government of Quebec members involved in the matter of the quality of life on Quebec's lakes and waterways, under the auspices of the Department of Municipal Affairs. I attended some 100 presentations on how the quality of life on Quebec's lakes and waterways could be improved.

Thanks to Search and Rescue Canada's New Initiatives Fund, we developed a program called ``Peaceful Waters.'' The program had three goals: to place restrictions on certain small craft in terms of speed and behaviour; to educate and raise awareness among all recreational boaters and waterfront residents; and to set up patrols. This could be done using special constables, the local police, beach lifeguards or volunteer waterfront residents, with a view to enforcing the rules adopted by the municipality. The finding was that being able to educate users and to have both a volunteer and police presence led to a change in boater behaviour.

So regulations or restrictions on small craft have a positive impact inasmuch as we are able to educate, raise awareness and have a presence. Perhaps it is unnecessary to have a police presence, but a volunteer-patrol presence, capable of approaching the recreational boater directly to say that a particular behaviour is unacceptable on the lake or waterway has a positive impact.

The problem the municipalities encounter is the financial resources to buy the equipment to train these people. Once again, we are talking in Quebec about around ten municipalities that have chosen to go this route and that tell us every year that the ``Peaceful Waters'' program is producing positive and constructive results.


Senator Milne: We are talking about enforcement problems, which already exist, although it seems to me the OPP are out on our lake often enough. I look on this bill as proposed enabling, rather than mandatory, legislation. Realistically, how many local authorities, municipalities or cottagers' associations, would vote to come under this legislation? Have you any idea? I would suspect it is not as great a number as you might think it might be.

Mr. Haga: I do not know.

Senator Peterson: I know little about the Canada Shipping Act, but we have this bill in front of us. I would have thought someone would have cross-referenced the two by now to assess this issue of duplication. Under the Canada Shipping Act, would municipalities have the authority to enforce the provisions of this bill, such as limiting the times and locations where these PWCs can be operated? Is that dealt with under the Canada Shipping Act? It is an issue of jurisdiction.

Senator Buchanan: May I interrupt? I would refer to page 4 of the Department of Transport brief.

Senator Peterson: I do not have that, senator.

Senator Buchanan: May I read it?

The Deputy Chairman: Go ahead, senator.

Senator Buchanan: It states:

The enforcement regime also allows specific groups to impose restrictions for specific bodies of water. There are some 2,000 such restrictions in place through the regulatory process. Under this process, cottage associations consult locally on possible restrictions on specific bodies of water. Their proposal is submitted to the municipalities who would in turn forward to their provincial government for onward transmission to Transport Canada. At this stage of the department process the restriction proposal through the federal regulatory process.

Senator Milne: At this stage, it takes forever.

Senator Buchanan: Senator Peterson asked whether we have that at present.

Senator Peterson: It takes a long time to enforce restrictions. With passage of this bill, it could be done more quickly.

The Deputy Chairman: Would the passage of Bill S-12 preclude educational programs?

Mr. Haga: I do not think so, no. I do not believe that that is inherent in this, no.

Senator Adams: The representatives of Bombardier who appeared before our committee last week told us that passage of this bill will hurt their company business. I am sure you know that selling watercraft is a $500-million-a-year business that employs a lot of people. Your major concern is safety. Some people believe that the operation of this equipment is responsible for the deaths of people and that they should be banned. As long as people understand how to operate the equipment in a responsible manner, then should they not continue manufacturing these machines?

Mr. Haga: I did read part of Bombardier's testimony. As I consider their activities in Canada and in the United States, as a manufacturer of personal watercraft, they appear to be dedicated to improving the quality of the craft, improving the safety and handling of the craft, and improving some of the environmental concerns that have been raised. I am certainly not a technical expert, but that would be my observation. It certainly is clear that they are also supportive of education, awareness and training.

Bombardier has worked at a provincial level in a number of our provinces on educational programs and awareness programs. Certainly, from that perspective, they do take that responsibility quite seriously.


Mr. Hawkins: I am going to draw a parallel here. We often think, at the Lifesaving Society, that the best way to avoid drownings in backyard pools might be to ban pools. Clearly, that is not the best solution. You have to work with the industry and swimming pool dealers to discuss safety improvements. You have to raise public awareness about using backyard pools. That is the way to avoid incidents.

The same thing goes for the recreational boating industry. We think it best to work with the industry, to make them understand that behaviours have to change, to work with them long term in order to achieve, as in the case of backyard pools, positive and constructive results, which we feel we are capable of achieving in the area of recreational boating.


Senator Moore: I listened to the comments about possible duplication and working with the industry. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe that Senator Spivak proposed this legislation in 2001. Nothing has come forward from the Department of Transportation to implement the proposed provisions in this bill. I certainly have seen no improvement in the operation of these craft in the coastal waters near where I live. I have only noticed that the machines are get bigger, more powerful and more recklessly operated, regardless of any training or education that people take.

I have seen these machines being operated near the shores of inland waters. They create wakes which are dangerous for other boaters and children playing on the shorelines. These craft are so designed in such a way that they can be operated close to the shoreline. I have seen no changes since 2001.

Senator Spivak's efforts must be supported. She has taken a leadership role in trying to get something on the books that will give communities an opportunity to control the operation of these vehicles. We live in a democracy, so communities can make their own decisions. If enough people want to implement some type of enforcement program, they should have the opportunity to do that.

In the area where I live, boat dealers are refusing to sell these boats. The only PWCs in our area are operated by visitors who wreak havoc on the weekends when most people are trying to relax and enjoy the tranquil waters. That is my two bits.

I think that Senator Spivak is doing a heck of a job. I want her to keep at it until she gets what she wants.

Senator Massicotte: I have some comments to make on the bill, and I presume we will have a discussion after our witnesses leave.

The Deputy Chairman: Yes. If there are no other questions, I would thank our witnesses. You have been most helpful, Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Haga. We appreciate your coming here this evening.

Mr. Haga: Thank you for this opportunity.

The Deputy Chairman: Before we hear from Senator Spivak, Senator Kenny would like to have the floor. He would appreciate your utmost attention.

Senator Kenny: Thank you, madam chair. I was here at the conception of this bill, Senator Spivak. Those of us who have taken an interest in private members' bills in the Senate over the years have realized that they perform many different functions, functions beyond legislative. When officials appear before our committees and convey a message that they are having problems with any particular proposal, they are clearly reflecting the views of the people for whom they work. We get a pretty good sense of the sort of treatment the bill will get when it goes to the other place.

Having said that, it is important that this place sends messages from time to time regarding matters that we think are important. Senator Spivak has touched on and championed an issue that has touched a great many Canadians. It is an important issue that we should support.

Considerations about how this bill fits with the Canada Shipping Act, the issue of duplication, the costs associated with implementation, and so on and so forth, are straw men. I do not think we should be distracted by straw men.

I intend to support the bill because I believe that it is on the right track. It has received a broad measure of public support, and it is important that someone making this sort of contribution to the public policy debate be supported by her peers and her colleagues so that the public understands that she is not alone and that others share her concerns. It will amplify the messagethat Senator Spivak has been ably championing virtuallysingle-handed.

I have only one qualification: My vote is conditional on how long Senator Spivak speaks. Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Senator Massicotte: I am not a member of this committee, but I am here because of what I heard of the bill. Living near a waterway, and I am very aware of this issue. When I heard of this bill, I wondered if there was not a better way to resolve the issue. I certainly acknowledge that there is an issue. I acknowledge Senator Spivak's work. The issue is real. In fact, I worked with her office to try to find a solution.

For whatever reason, be it good, bad or ugly, the minister and the Justice officials did respond well to the issue. They proposed three measures. In fact, in the first meetings, they were just treading water, to use the phrase. Of the three measures they proposed, I specifically like the 200-metre proposal. I think that will resolve many of the issues.

There are three components to the issue. One is environmental pollution. Personal water craft built in the last several years pollute a lot less than nearly all overboards. They are well within limits. The safety component is an important one, but few swimmers swim out more than 200 metres offshore. However, safety is still an issue, but training can, to some extent, mitigate that issue. Noise pollution is another component. Sea-Doos and other PWCs built in the last four years, produce significantly less noise pollution. At my home in Florida where the 200-meter restriction applies, noise is not much of an issue.

To pass additional legislation would be duplication, and I see no merit in that. The question is: Will the minister amend the existing legislation? When I spoke to this bill in the Senate, I wanted to hear the minister's announcement that the three measures would be taken. The department publicly made that announcement. There was a public commitment.

Senator Spivak's bill has many merits, but we should allow the government to find simpler solutions as opposed to putting more laws on the books.

We recognize the concerns expressed by the manufacturers. I see some of their representatives here. They commented on the economic impact of the passage of this bill. They are very much against the 200-meter restriction. Senator Adams' question regarding economics is relevant. We should care about the economy. However, in this case, I do not think the economic impact is so significant that it should influence our decision. There may be a somewhat negative impact, but not enough. We must cater to the needs of Canadians first.

While I am not a voting member of this committee, I would recommend that we do not pass this bill. Either delay it or vote against it at this point in time, given that a solution is already at hand.

The Deputy Chairman: This committee does the right thing. It is a democratic committee. There is no pressure applied to any member to vote for or against any bill. Everyone is given an opportunity to express his or her views. When the time comes, each member will vote for or against. Senator Spivak has been waiting a long time.

Senator Spivak: This bill has been passed by the Senate twice. It has been referred to this committee three times. I have presented the bill again because, since it was first introduced, there have been two elections and prorogations. I present it again because there is a huge community demand for something to happen.

Why the bill? The Senate cannot amend regulations to the Canada Shipping Act. We looked at various options, and this was the only way to do it. It is the result of the pressure on the government to come up with something.

Last week you were told that the bill duplicates existing legislation and that there is no need for it. In fact, it duplicates what the government has the capacity to do under the Canada Shipping Act but has declined to do for more than a decade. In 1994, the Coast Guard itself proposed that a new schedule be created under the act's boating restriction regulations to deal with personal watercraft. The industry opposed it, and it went no further than Part I of the Canada Gazette. Last week you heard that the Coast Guard is again proposing a new schedule that would deal with all motorized boats, not only personal watercraft, although few boats are capable of wake-jumping and the other stunts that PWC drivers perform. You heard that the industry is opposing even that modest proposal.

Bill S-12 does not duplicate existing legislation. It will do what a safety-minded and environmentally-minded government needs to do under the Canada Shipping Act but cannot muster the will to do in face of the industry lobby. It does not duplicate the Canada Shipping Act. It fills the rather large gap in the act's regulations.

You also heard the claim last week that it is discriminatory and may cause problems in targeting PWCs. There are many good responses to that suggestion. I should like to quote you one from RAPPEL, an association in Quebec that takes particular interest in water issues, the use of waterways and promoting water quality in the environment, who are greatly in support of the bill. They say:


Personal watercrafts are unique craft from the very beginning. Problems inherent in their unique design enable them to execute sudden maneuvers impossible to perform with a conventional powerboat, and this goes to show that separate regulations are needed.


PWCs are not just like all the other boats. That a PWC is different from other boats is recognized in the United States, Australia, Norway and in court decisions. The U.S. regulation that applies specifically to personal watercraft is something the industry association in the United States actually advocates that states adopt, as you heard last week. Contrary to what you heard, all states have adopted some form of regulation specific to PWCs. For example, 52 states require life jackets; 51 states set a minimum age for PWCs, as we do; 44 states impose limits on wake jumping; 38 prohibit operation in specific areas; and 12 set specific speed limits.

In Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island and Vermont, PWCs are banned on lakes that are reservoirs for drinking water. In Maine, they are banned on lakes of less than 200 acres; in Vermont, less than 300 acres; and in New Hampshire, less than 75 acres. On Lake Tahoe they are banned. They are also banned in Norway.

This bill does not purport to ban anything. I cannot understand why the industry is opposed to it as it is about giving people in a particular locale the ability to do something, if they wish and after proper consultation, about the quality of their lives on the lake. That is all it does.

With regard to emissions, you have heard that there have been substantive improvements in the technology and that, on average, PWCs only last seven years, so why worry?

Again from our friends in Quebec comes this quote, ``...the...state air board estimates one 5-year-old personal watercraft steered for seven hours produces the same emissions as a new car driven 100,000 miles.'' The emissions include ozone, carbon monoxide and a host of others, and 40 per cent of the fuel from the old machines is emitted unburned into the lake.

The good news is that stringent new regulations are coming to force manufacturers of PWCs in the U.S. to cut emissionsby 98 per cent by 2008. However, that applies only to the350,000 new engines sold annually. Meanwhile, there are millions of dirtier boats in the United States, and a proportional number here, and there are no plans to retire them. A California industry group estimates that 20 years will pass before all these highly polluting models are off the water.

Finally, with regard to education being the answer, I should like to read the following:

The industry considers boating education to be a key element in improving boating safety for all users of the water. We have already implemented a comprehensive education scheme for personal watercraft which will help educate over 6,000 boaters in the coming year.

This appeared in an industry brief on boating regulations and personal watercraft presented to the Coast Guard. It is dated January 1994, just as the toll of PWC-related injuries and deaths began to climb: So much for relying on education.

In Canada, the industry does not acknowledge that an extreme sports vehicle, built for speed and tricky manoeuvres, requires specific regulation. In the United States, it does. We do not allow motorcycles to drive around playgrounds. They must be driven in certain areas.

Senator Massicotte proposed an alternative to Bill S-12 and asked this committee to wait and see whether there is a need for the bill after the new measures are in place. Coast Guard officials spoke to it and promised to appear before us next year to tell us what has been accomplished.

I would thank Senator Massicotte for his interest and the many hours that went into developing his position. It is helpful that he has been able to get Coast Guard officials and the Minister of Transport to acknowledge that some form of new regulation is necessary. This is progress. However, as I said in the chamber, the proposal is not sufficient to address all the concerns that supporters of this bill need addressed. According to some initial feedback, it might create new, unintended problems for the people who use our lakes and rivers.

Simply put, Bill S-12 would create a process that would allow local knowledge and local concerns about personal watercraft safety and the personal watercraft threats to the environment to percolate up to Ottawa where the constitutional authority resides to do something about them. Along with their concerns, communities would send their proposed solutions. They could propose a ban in a specific area, for example, if they could show that it was required for safety or environmental protection and demonstrate support for it following public consultations. The bill leaves it open to the minister to determine how rigorous he wants that evidence and those consultations to be.

Communities could propose to allow jet skis to have the run of the lake between noon and 4 p.m. and prohibit them at other times, or to allow PWCs at any time of day, as long as they were driven like a boat and could not perform stunts. However, they would have to provide evidence that a restriction is needed, that consultations were held and that the solution was generally agreed upon.

Senator Massicotte's solution is two parts educational and one part regulatory. Of course, I welcome the efforts of the Coast Guard on the educational front. Every little bit helps. However, more than a decade of so-called education by the manufacturers, age restrictions on PWC drivers and, most recently, operator licensing has not been enough to prevent a considerable number of tragic deaths and injuries, let alone address the environmental costs.

PWC fatalities are not due to drowning, they are due to blunt trauma. Victims do not drown; they collide with something, or somebody is run over.

The first part of Senator Massicotte's proposal would educate PWC owners to a Canadian version of the U.S. Personal Watercraft Industry Association's model bill. Some states have adopted it in part or in whole; many have gone a good deal further. It has some good features, including a description of the kinds of manoeuvres that unreasonably and unnecessarily endanger life, limb and property. They include weaving through congested traffic, jumping the wake of another boat, becoming airborne, et cetera. All of these safety measures are to reduce injuries and deaths. Wake jumping restrictions near other boats is a law, for example, in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, and Maryland. Michigan and Minnesota have set a wider distance of 150 feet. However, you get the point. These regulations are needed for safety. Even the industry association in the U.S. advocates them. In Canada, the industry's model bill would be posted on the Coast Guard website for guidance and as an educational tool.

Another educational tool would be the promotion ofsection 43 of the Small Vessels Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act. This is your baby, Senator Buchanan, so listen up.

Senator Buchanan: I always do.

Senator Spivak: There is also the Department of Justice's interpretation of how the regulations apply to PWC manoeuvres. It mentions operating in circular or criss-cross patterns. I will not go into them. However, it is puzzling in that, ostensibly, it is a definition of ``careless operation'' of a small vessel, similar to the careless driving sections of provincial Highway Traffic Acts but the interpretation is so vague and potentially subjective that it offers little real guidance compared to the U.S. state laws. What, for example, is ``an extended period of time,'' or ``driving in circles''? Is the time frame 10 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour?

If the courts had firmed up these vague descriptions, the Coast Guard could let PWC drivers know what the law means in more precise terms. The regulation has been on the books for many years and has been cited by the opponents of the bill as a good substitute.

About this time last summer, as the bill was at second reading stage in the House of Commons, the department said that it intended to promote this regulation as an alternative. For one reason or another, it never happened. As far as we can determine, this section is rarely, if ever, used. In November, when we asked Transport Canada how often section 43 had been applied and whether charges were laid in the 29 deaths in recent years involving personal watercraft, we were told the department does not know, does not maintain an accident reporting system, and relies on news media and anecdotes. The research done by cottage associations is rarely used.

Better promotion of the regulation would be a positive step.

The third prong in the proposal of Senator Massicotte is the most encouraging. It would add one new schedule to the Boating Restriction Regulations that would allow communities to restrict what PWCs do: No wake jumping, no buzzing in circles, no playing chicken, et cetera. It is half the solution that New South Wales, Australia, adopted to make it waters and beaches safer. The other half was an outright ban in Sydney Harbour. This Australian regulation does not apply to everything that floats. In New South Wales, it applies only to personal watercraft.

I agree that stopping stunts 200 metres from shore will do a good deal to prevent collisions with people near the shore, for example, with paddle boat, canoes, and so on. It may mitigate the noise problems, although sound carries over the water. That very much depends on local conditions. It may even discourage PWCs entirely on very small lakes which would be a good thing for drinking water quality and wildlife. I can see it as one of the possible options that some communities might want to put in place under Bill S-12. However, it would not prevent another young Alberta water skier from being run over by a jet ski in the middle of a lake, or the death of another young Manitoba man in the middle of West Hawk Lake — the tragic collision that prompted this bill so many years ago.

Prohibiting stunts 200 metres from shore will not curb emissions into lakes that are sources of drinking water. It will not protect rivers that are fish spawning grounds, or loons in the middle of the lake, or shoreline birds. It will not protect ecotourism operators, who want this bill to protect their livelihood. It might, however, create some unintentional problems. It might limit all boaters from visiting their neighbours, because they would have to make a turn to visit neighbours around a bay.

Finally, this would not be available de jure until 15 months at the earliest and, de facto, it will mean at least four summers before we could learn whether it had met the needs of some communities. The time frame would be as follows: the summer of 2005 before any change; the summer of 2006 before the schedule is in place; the summer of 2007 before local consultations can be heard; and the summer of 2008 before the impact would be felt.

Perhaps it will never be available. The representative of the Canadian Marine Manufacturers Association is opposed to it. This is the same influential individual who successfully scuttled a similar effort by the Coast Guard in 1994. This proposal would go to the CMMA and its allies on the Coast Guard advisory board bodies. Will it ever happen?

My preferred alternative solution to this bill is simple. It would be for the government to take two schedules in this bill and add them to the existing schedules of the Boating Restriction Regulations. I have asked successive ministers to do that, to no avail. Why? It is because the industry does not want it. What can we do? I say that we must pass this bill.

Concerning the argument that this bill discriminates against PWCs, it does. The status quo discriminates against those who want to use their lakes and rivers for peaceful pursuits. It discriminates against water quality and wildlife. Unregulated, this activity dominates everyone else.

You also heard the argument that, over time, the industry has added safety features such as off-power steering devices and cleaner and quieter four stroke engines — all commendable. At the same time, it has been boosting the engine size incrementally from what was once in the range of 50 to 60 horsepower to over 200 horsepower. Not only will communities have to live with older models that do not have new safety features, but also the ones that are more powerful, consuming more gas and releasing emissions. Of last year's Sea-Doos, only two of the nine models had engines with less than 100 horsepower, and four of them exceeded 150 horsepower — triple the power of engines a decade ago. Show me another commonly used 10-foot boat designed to perform stunts with a 155 horsepower engine, run by a 14 year old, as is happening on West Hawk Lake as we speak, and I will agree that a boat is a boat is a boat.

Look at the advertisements. On the Internet, the ads are designed for testosterone challenged teenagers. They want to go. That may be fine, in an area that is safe for them to do that, but not with little grandchildren playing around.

Senator Adams: We have been working on this since early last winter. Senator Kenny supports the bill, but I have some difficulty reaching that conclusion. Last week, we heard government witnesses say that we do not need this bill.

I support my neighbour, Senator Massicotte, who I believe understands that this must be done the right way.

Some of the witnesses oppose the bill. What percentage of the people do they represent? Senator Spivak, in quoting statistics, was not talking about Canada. If we are supposed to be making regulations for Canada, why are we using statistics from other countries?

Unlike those in countries such as Australia, Canadian waterways are not open year round.

Senator Kenny supports the bill. He has been a member of the committee since we started dealing with this bill last year, but he has only been in attendance about twice. We heard the evidence of many witnesses. Perhaps he has read some of their briefs and the evidence. I want to make that point about someone who comes here and says he supports Senator Spivak's bill. We do the job. If senators attend here only twice all year and then show up to support the bill at the time it is being voted on at committee, I wonder if they are doing their jobs.

Many witnesses said that they do not support the bill, and some of them work in the education system. My concern is about using statistics from other countries to suggest that Canadians should support this bill.

Senator Kenny: I would raise a point of order, Madam Chairman. The honourable senator is out of order to refer to the attendance of other senators. I should like him to retract that statement for starters. You cannot do that, Senator Adams. It is not the way it works.

Senator Adams: We worked on the bill before.

Senator Kenny: That is not the way it works. I want a retraction.

Senator Adams: It is all right.

Senator Kenny: No, there is a Senate rule that prohibits senators from talking about attendance, and you have just broken it.

Madam Chairman, I would like a ruling, please.

The Deputy Chairman: We will ask the clerk for the ruling.

Senator Kenny, if I just might say to Senator Adams, we heard from one senator who supports the bill, but we also heard from another senator who was opposed to the bill. I thought that was fair. We heard from Senator Massicotte, who is not a member of this committee, but I thought it would be a good idea to hear both perspectives. This was my decision.

Senator Kenny: Since we are waiting for the clerk, I have more to add. My point is this, Senator Adams: I keep close track of what is going on in the committee and the issue is not whether this bill becomes law. We all have a pretty good understanding of where this bill will go and where it will end up. The issue is that a statement is being made and a message is being sent. If you do not understand that, you should think about it a bit more. There is an important message going out to a lot of people that this is a problem in their communities. The fact that this has come back three times sends the message to those communities that there is a concern out there.

Senator Spivak knows the likelihood of this bill getting through the system just as well as the rest of us do, but she has persisted. Why has she done that? She has done that because it is important that the message get out. There are many ways to serve Canadians other than just passing bills. Private members' bills have, since Confederation, been used to send messages, even when they have not become law. That is worth thinking about.

Senator Adams: If we pass it will they pass it in the House of Commons?

Senator Kenny: You clearly have not heard what I have been saying.

Senator Adams: If we deal with it, will the House of Commons pass it?

The Deputy Chairman: Senator, I do not think this has anything to do with House of Commons. What we do here; we do here. We are masters of our own house and masters of our own committee. I am sure you realize that, Senator Adams. It is probably just a slip of the tongue.

Senator Spivak: I will not mention the House of Commons.

The Deputy Chairman: Are there any other questions?

Senator Massicotte: To be sure I understand, are we now asking questions to clarify Senator Spivak's statement?

The Deputy Chairman: Yes, but Senator Adams raised another issue.

Senator Massicotte: I wish to ask questions.

The Deputy Chairman: We will start now with our questions to the witness.

Are you ready for questions, Senator Spivak?

Senator Spivak: Absolutely, but it is my choice whether I choose to answer them.

I am taking a page out of Senator Jack Austin's book. When he does not like a question, he says it is political and not substantive.

Senator Massicotte: As a witness, you can decide whether you will answer.

Senator Spivak is more of an expert in this area than I am. To focus on the issues let me ask some questions. I think the answers will help me and others. I want to lessen the confusion.

It is my understanding that the approval process, in other words the right of municipalities, or the local authorities as the draft bill so dictates, in boating regulations and in the legislation is largely similar. Am I correct? Comments have been made about some local authorities having too much power, but my understanding is that the proposed bill is similar to the current legislation regarding making additions to the schedules and the boating regulations. Is that accurate?

Senator Spivak: It is up to minister to decide what constitutes a local community.

Senator Massicotte: In both cases existing boating regulation and your proposed bill are largely the same, except the province is not involved in yours; is that correct?

Senator Spivak: I believe so. Yes.

Senator Massicotte: Some people have expressed a concern about the authority we would be delegating by the passage of this bill. They should not worry. The authority of the local authorities is largely similar.

There are three components to the issue, one is security, one is noise and one is contamination. Senator Spivak, to deal witheach one, do you agree that, while there may be some contamination issue with personal watercraft, in the last two or three years 80 per cent of all personal watercraft constructed is less polluting than outboard motors?

Senator Spivak: Yes, I believe an attempt has been made to make more environmentally friendly, less polluting, but that does not take into account noise pollution, nor does not take into account the speed and the horsepower size of the engines. Those issues have has yet to be determined. The investigations that I have seen relate to older models. I want to know more about the newer models. I would be most interested in seeing the results of any current investigation, because these emissions are extremely toxic. That applies to all two-stroke engines. I am aware of the modifications that are being applied. That is fine.

However, that is largely irrelevant to the issues that I am raising. I am glad these steps are being taken. At some point, there may be no pollution issue, but safety, noise and people's right to pursue other activities will still be issues.

Senator Massicotte: From what we heard last week from the association representing the manufacturers of these machines and from Bombardier Recreational Products Inc., the amount of the pollution is well below Canadian standards. Would you also acknowledge that the noise — especially of the new ones — is far below what Canada sets as standards?

Senator Spivak: No, I do not acknowledge that. You have a document before you which notes the variation in the noise between when a machine is up in the air and when it is on the water. New machines are being introduced such as one called a Dolphin that can leap in the air or go underwater.

Senator Massicotte, with all due respect, the basic issue here is the right of people to determine what happens on their lakes, if they consult widely.

Bombardier and other companies can make money100 different ways, and they should, but a responsible industry should care that their consumers are happy. All of these questions are nitpicking around the issue. I am unimpressed.

Senator Massicotte: In our package today there is an analysis of accidents by personal water craft. If we were to presume that the operation of personal water craft would be restrictedto 200 metres from shore, what percentage of the accidents would still occur? The information we have shows that something like 20 per cent of the accidents are involve the drivers of personal water craft physically hurting themselves. Am I correct in saying that?

Senator Spivak: That is a projection.

Senator Massicotte: I thought those were statistics.

Senator Spivak: Let us go by experience and enforcement. On our lake and on the lakes next to me, kids are driving around on these PWCs. They are not paying attention. Why not? They are having fun. This is a fun, extreme sport vehicle. It should used in places where operators can drive all over, perhaps on huge lakes or in the middle of the ocean. This kind of behaviour is unlikely to go unobserved by anybody who lives on a small lake. Senator Massicotte should know that.

Senator Massicotte: Senator Spivak is taking a fundamental approach regarding the need. Senator Kenny is promoting the notion that this is a symbolic gesture.

Senator Spivak: If I could just interrupt Senator Massicotte, this is not my bill in the sense that it is not something I am doing to promote my own interests.

Senator Massicotte: I appreciate that.

Senator Spivak: Please listen. Almost every province has supported this proposed legislation, as have almost all of the cottage associations in the country as well as those people canoe. There is a huge interest in Canada in keeping lakes as a space where people can pursue quiet, recreational activities. This kind of response can never be manufactured. This response has come about because people resent what is happening on their lakes.

The bill only deals with PWCs. The whole issue of boating regulations and safety is something that Canada must deal with in the future. I am sure we will. I am only addressing a small, irritating and dangerous portion.

That is it. I will answer no more questions.

Senator Massicotte: Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Senator Spivak: I think I have been most generous in answering all your questions.

Senator Kenny: On a point of order. Senator Massicotte did not represent my position. I did not say that the bill was symbolic. What I said was that private members' bills have a number of different impacts and a number of different ways of functioning. For him to suggest that I think it is symbolic is not correct. I am not suggesting for a minute that it will fly through the other place and they will see the wisdom of it immediately. However, it might cause the minister to reflect more carefully and vigorously on what we are doing. That would not be symbolic. That would be something that would have a cause and effect. To suggest that this is just a symbol, does not do justice to the quality of the bill.

Senator Massicotte: Thank you for your clarification.

Senator Buchanan: I have a question.

Senator Spivak: By all means, go ahead.

Senator Buchanan: I have known Senator Spivak for a long time. I have told her this before many times: I am not opposed to the principle behind what she wants to do with this bill. It is laudable, and I have told her that.

However, perhaps experience has taught me that, if you do something, you had better be sure you are doing it for the right reasons. You should also be convinced that it has a good chance of getting through, which I do not think is the case with this bill.

It seems to me that what you have done so far is put the gun to the head of the department so that they are now starting to move in the direction in which you believe they should move. I think that is great.

The department has said that they will be addressing the speed issue in proposed amendments to the Boating Restriction Regulations, which, by the way, Nova Scotians support. Nova Scotia and all the other provinces except two, I believe, want to adopt those.

The pollution problem, as I understand it, has been addressed by the boat manufacturers and the Canadian Marine Association. Senator Spivak has already indicated that 80 per cent of that problem has been addressed.

Senator Spivak: I never said that.

Senator Buchanan: I am referring to the new machines. I recognize that many old machines that are not personal water craft that have more pollution problems than the personal water craft; is that right?

Senator Spivak: What is your question?

Senator Buchanan: Is what I just said correct?

Senator Spivak: No. It is encouraging that they are attempting to do this, but we have not yet seen the research to demonstrate that these machines are operating as the manufacturers say they are operating. As I said before, I want to see the research.

This bill has been through our legal department for a couple of years. I do not go into anything lightly. I have not introduced many bills in my time in the Senate. The bill was vetted by one of the top constitutional experts in Canada. The bill is constitutional and the legal department has gone through it with a fine-tooth comb. It has had three generations of scrutiny.

The alternative might have been to look at empowering the Senate to amend regulations, which they cannot do now. I will not go into that, except to say that the original reason for the Senate not being able to amend no longer exists.

Do not think that I went into this lightly. I have done all of the necessary due diligence.

Senator Buchanan: I do not think you have ever done anything lightly. There is no question about that.

Senator Spivak: I have done all the necessary due diligence.

Senator Buchanan: Are we duplicating what the department will be doing in X number of months?

I will make a suggestion. I would certainly support this bill and every aspect of it if this committee decided to suspend our discussions of it until next fall and put the gun to the head of the department.

Senator Spivak: Not a chance.

Senator Buchanan: Last week was the first time I heard the Department of Transport say that they are prepared to move on this issue. That is what they said, did they not?

Senator Moore: They said the same thing four years ago.

Senator Buchanan: They said last week that they are prepared to move. Give them an opportunity to do so. If they do not move by next fall, then let us get this bill through.

Senator Lavigne: I know you have been waiting for this bill to pass since 2001, but if the government is willing to make changes, then we should give them an opportunity to do that.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Lavigne: If they are ready to do something now, then let them do it. If they are not ready, then we go on.

Senator Spivak: It is better to have this bill pending. That will encourage them to act.

Senator Kenny: Honourable senators, this committee has been euchred by so many ministers that I have lost count.

We have received letters from ministers promising to do things, but they have backed away from their commitments. We have signed letters from ministers of the Crown making commitments, and then they do not follow through.

You do not back off. You do not release the pressure. You stay with it. You keep pushing, and eventually they will play ball. For example, you could go back to the MMT bill.

Senator Massicotte: Can we ask a minister to address this issue?

Senator Kenny: It was L.B. Mayer who said that a verbal promise is not worth the paper it is written on. I am telling you that some ministerial promises are not worth the paper they are written on.

Things become touchy when you are coming up to an election time or even a cabinet shuffle. We have had the same minister walk away from a written promise. Other ministers from the same party have said, ``That was her commitment, not my commitment.''

This committee has been sucked in a number of times.

Senator Buchanan: I do not think that has happened with regard to this bill.

Senator Kenny: Not on this bill. If we do not learn from experience and do not recognize the fact that ministers will say what they choose to say, and then you back off, you are playing their game.

Senator Milne: I voted for this bill before, and I intend to vote for it this time. I sincerely hope the Senate votes for it this time.

Practically speaking, this bill will be on ice until the fall anyway. The House of Commons will rise tonight. The bill has to pass in the House of Commons before it becomes law.

The Deputy Chairman: If there are no other witnesses, I would convey the information that our clerk has found regarding Senator Adams' comments. This comes from the House of Commons Procedure and Practice by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit. It states: `` is unacceptable to allude to the presence or absence of a member or minister in the chamber.''

Senator Massicotte: It says nothing about committees.

Senator Adams: Is that reference to the Senate chamber?

Senator Kenny: There are many of precedents from both.

Senator Milne: There is a fairly accepted procedure that we do not do that. It has also been accepted in the Senate.

The Deputy Chairman: It applies to both chambers.

Senator Adams: What do I say?

The Deputy Chairman: Withdraw your comment.

Senator Adams: The only thing I would like to say is that everybody has to work together.

The Deputy Chairman: Are you happy with that, Senator Kenny?

Senator Kenny: Absolutely.

The Deputy Chairman: Thank you, Senator Adams. You are a scholar and a gentleman.

We will continue with our discussion of the bill.

Senator Milne: I move that we proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of this bill.

The Deputy Chairman: You all have Bill S-12. Is it agreed that the title stand?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Deputy Chairman: Carried.

We will now go to the clauses. Shall clause 1 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 2 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 3 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 4 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 5 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 6 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 7 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 8 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 9 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 10 carry?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The Deputy Chairman: Shall clause 11 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Deputy Chairman: I propose that the bill be reported back, on division, to the Senate.

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: On division.

The committee adjourned.

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