THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS
TERRACE, Wednesday, April 17, 2019
The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, to which was referred Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast, met this day at 1:03 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.
Senator David Tkachuk (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: I call to order this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. This afternoon we are studying Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast, called the “Oil Tanker Moratorium Act.”
We are honoured to be in Terrace this afternoon to hear from witnesses on this bill, and I will ask all senators to introduce themselves.
Senator Cormier: Good afternoon. Senator René Cormier from New Brunswick.
Senator Gagné: Hello, I am Raymonde Gagné, from Manitoba.
Senator Dasko: I am Donna Dasko from Toronto, representing Ontario.
Senator Simons: I am Paula Simons, senator from Alberta, from straight down Highway 16 in Edmonton.
Senator MacDonald: I am Michael MacDonald, from Cape Breton, representing Nova Scotia.
Senator Smith: Larry Smith, Hudson, Quebec.
Senator Patterson: Dennis Patterson, representing a territory with Canada’s longest coastline, Nunavut.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: Julie Miville-Dechêne, Montreal, Quebec.
The Chair: I’m David Tkachuk. I’m from Saskatoon, and I am representing the province of Saskatchewan and the region of Western Canada.
I’m pleased today to welcome, from the City of Dawson Creek, Mr. Dale Bumstead, who is the mayor; Mr. Ellis Ross, the MLA for Skeena; from the City of Fort St. John, Ms. Lori Ackerman, the mayor; and from the District of Kitimat, Mr. Philip Germuth, mayor.
We’ll start with Mr. Bumstead.
Dale Bumstead, Mayor, City of Dawson Creek: Thank you. Bonjour. My name is Dale Bumstead. I am the mayor of the City of Dawson Creek, and a proud member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia. [Indigenous language spoken]. Thank you for giving me the opportunity today to present to the Senate committee.
Dawson Creek, on Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, is a small city in northeastern British Columbia, founded in the early 1900s. It might seem unusual, why we would be here today requesting an opportunity to speak to the Senate committee on Bill C-48.
We’re a little city that was founded in the early 1900s based on agriculture. That’s the foundation of our community. The railway came into Dawson Creek in 1931 to serve the agricultural products and distribute them across North America.
After the Pearl Harbour bombings in 1941, the U.S. needed an overland route to Alaska to protect their homeland, and the only way to build that Alaska highway was to bring those troops into Dawson Creek at the end of the railway, the end of the line. Some 10,000 troops came into Dawson Creek in March 1942, and away went the construction of a 1,500-mile highway that opened up northern British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska. It was completed in nine months; an engineering marvel.
Over the years we’ve progressed as a small city, with transportation being, obviously, a key component of our community, our economy. Tourism and agriculture came through the years, then mining and forestry became components of our community.
With the evolution came the natural gas sector and the shale gas, the unconventional resource development of natural gas in the Montney. The Montney is a huge natural gas reserve. It’s probably one of the top five reserves in North America today. It was looked upon as being one of the top five when it was first discovered in the early 2000s.
I want to expound upon that, as that’s really the purpose of my appearing here today, to talk about how prolific those resources have proven to be for our region, our province, our country. It is now one of the largest natural resources and one of the most prolific. There are five in North America that are looked upon as providing the unconventional resource to the world: the Montney; the Duvernay in Alberta; the Marcellus in the eastern States, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York; and down in Texas, the Permian and the Eagle Ford.
Part of what happens in the natural gas development in this unconventional resource development, in the shale gas, in the rock, are these reserves, these resources. I want to talk a little bit about this today. I didn’t realize there would be so many here today, so I don’t have enough copies for everyone. I do have an electronic version that we’ve passed on. It talks about the age of the ultra-liquid resource, the Montney. This resource contains these prolific reserves of natural gas. Along with it come these natural gas liquids, and at the bottom of that scale is condensate, light oil.
I listened to some of the testimony earlier today about Saskatchewan and Alberta, and how to get that oil to the world. In northeastern British Columbia, there is probably in excess of 20 to 30 billion barrels of oil within the natural gas, and it’s that prolific. Gas Metro in Quebec produces and distributes probably 200 billion cubic feet of gas per year. The Montney today, in proven reserves, has in excess of 100 years’ worth of proven reserves, producing 8 to 10 billion cubic feet of gas per day. So if LNG Canada, Kitimat LNG, and one other LNG project were built and could produce 8 to 10 billion cubic feet of gas per day, the Montney has in excess of 100 years’ worth of reserves, with proven potential.
These world-class reserves are giving us the opportunity to provide the world with fossil fuels. We touch fossil fuels in every aspect of our daily life. I think the perception is that we touch fossil fuels only in home heating and the fuel for our vehicles, but everything that we touch in our daily world as a consumer touches the petrochemical industry and the fossil fuel industry. Over 100 years ago, man first started using hydrocarbons for heating, for transportation, for cooking, or for light, and those same hydrocarbons are in use today. Man is using them a lot more efficiently.
When you take the natural gas out of the ground to provide it for the liquefied natural gas industry, that we hear so much about LNG, we don’t get those reserves out of the ground without the associated liquids — the propane, the butane, and the condensate. The light oil finds that exist in northeastern British Columbia today are matching those that exist in Alberta and Saskatchewan today.
If we don’t have access to the global market, it impacts our regions, communities, province, and our country. The medical costs in the province of British Columbia are expected to rise by $3 billion in the next three years. That money is coming from the development of the resource sector. The social programs that are provided by our communities, the province and to the country are built upon those reserves. LNG Canada accounts for $7.5 billion in GDP.
The Chair: You’re so enthusiastic, I don’t want to —
Mr. Bumstead: Thank you so much, and I appreciate the time. I’m happy to answer your questions.
The Chair: You can finish up, if you have a paragraph to finish off.
Mr. Bumstead: It is about allowing global access. We need to ensure that these resources have global access. Without global access, we are going to lose so much opportunity, and we do it the best.
The one thing that I do want to stress is that the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission that regulates the development of the industry in British Columbia — it’s not through any other process — is the best regulatory system in the country and in North America, in the development of this reserve. For us, it is absolutely about the development of these world-class reserves for the benefit of global access.
Thank you so much for giving me the time today.
The Chair: You’re welcome and thank you. Mr. Ellis Ross, MLA for Skeena. Welcome, Mr. Ross.
Ellis Ross, Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia for Skeena, as an individual: Thank you. As a newcomer to provincial politics and national politics, I want to talk to you about a trend that I’ve seen in B.C. and Canada over the last five years, and it seems to be getting worse.
To get to the bottom line, the deck is being stacked against Canadian resources, and it’s Canadians and Canadian governments that are actually doing the stacking. That would be fine, but none of it seems to be based on facts or truths, and it certainly doesn’t seem to be based on the interests of Canadians and what’s best for our future. If it was based on facts, these types of proposals would be aimed at all types of industries and jurisdictions across the board equally, and that is not happening.
I’ll give you an example. One of the reasons given for blocking Canadian tankers on the west cost of B.C. is the threat to orcas. Even Governor Inslee from the state of Washington made this comment about the threat to orcas from tankers, but he didn’t mention his own oil tankers travelling from Alaska to Washington State to feed refineries, and they park right across from Victoria, B.C.
The B.C. government also expressed similar concerns about orcas in terms of shipping, but failed to mention the increased traffic coming from an increase in cruise ships visiting Vancouver or even the B.C. government’s plans for ferry sailings along the B.C. coast would not affect orcas. They never mentioned that. Somehow B.C. ferries, international cruise ships, and Washington State oil tankers have a secret technology that avoids orcas, but Canadian tankers, including LNG tankers, don’t.
I mean, if that’s the case, why don’t we put this secret technology on oil tankers and LNG tankers?
By the way, Governor Inslee’s commitment to block Canadian tankers is not an idle threat. The newly enacted B.C. Environmental Assessment Act has a provision in it that says B.C. environmental assessments can be stalled in B.C. if a neighbouring jurisdiction mounts a formal challenge, and this includes the United States. I don’t believe there’s a reciprocal clause in the United States.
My real concern here is that there is no formal institution that is tasked with separating fact from fiction or rhetoric from truth. I thought this would be an obvious job for government, because we can’t expect the average citizen to decide what is legitimate information or what is an unbiased authority on information, and nor should they be expected to do so.
I myself, over the last 14 years, have had to hold myself to a higher standard to decide what is fact and what is fiction, but it’s a struggle I deal with every day. Social media doesn’t make it any easier. What I find is that as a society we are starting to listen more to political ideologies, statements from burned out rock stars, and visiting Hollywood actors, instead of basing our decisions on experts from specific fields and related jurisdictions.
I don’t know if this is how it’s always been done, but I’m very surprised and disappointed that this is happening now at all levels of government, because governing and politics are supposed to be separate, in my mind. They are two separate processes, and they should not be combined. And if we can’t depend on our own governments to sift through what is fact and what is propaganda, then what else can we depend on as citizens?
I learned over 15 years ago that what’s best for the majority of my constituents isn’t always popular. When I made decisions that went against the grain, most understood when the facts were laid out, and overall we described that it was best for the long term.
I can see these types of measures like Bill C-48 and Bill C-69 obstructing —
The Chair: Please move back a little bit, because the microphones are so sensitive.
Mr. Ross: Sorry about that. I’m just trying to rush through my five minutes.
The Chair: Don’t rush. You’re only at 3:50, so you have a long way to go.
Mr. Ross: Is that right? So I’ve got 15 more minutes?
I can see these types of measures spreading to obstruct other industries, like LNG, which I fully support.
I don’t want you to think I’m here advocating for the oil and gas industry, or the mining industry, or the forestry industry. I’m not. I just see this as unfair to Canadian resources and to the Canadian economy, to the delight of our competitors and economic activists. The U.S. is already laughing all the way to the bank, and these kinds of bills will have them rolling in the aisles.
With these types of bills, like Bill C-48 and Bill C-69, in combination with the provincial bills and acts that are created to create more red tape and to stall more projects, we’re giving in to politics. We’re giving in to propaganda instead of thinking about responsible government, responsible decision-making.
The result has been a bit of a Gong Show, with Alberta, B.C., and Canada in a three-way standoff, and Washington State poking the fire. It doesn’t make sense. We cooperate with other countries fully and wholeheartedly, but when it comes to cooperating with provinces and Ottawa, we fight. We fight amongst ourselves. We fight about oil. We fight about wine; of all things, wine. We encourage this with ideologies and political grandstanding and propaganda. If we continue to encourage this infighting based on propaganda and ideology instead of good governance, we will be the next country to fail. Venezuela, which believed in political ideologies, believed in everybody gets to get the best of everything in life, is paying a heavy price now. Their country has collapsed, and they are rich in resources, just like Canada.
This is not good governance. Good governance is treating everybody equally, including industry, including our resources. This is not how Canada was built, and it’s not how we should build it into the future. It’s definitely not what we want to leave our descendants, when we think about our kids or our grandchildren, thinking about leaving the province or the country to find a job. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Ross. That was pretty good.
Lori Ackerman, Mayor, City of Fort St. John: Thank you. Good afternoon. I want to thank the Senate committee for this opportunity to speak on an issue that is vital to the economy of Canada. I also want to acknowledge that we are gathered here on the traditional territory of the Tsimshian First Nations, the Allied Tribes of the Lax Kw’Alaams, and the Nisga’a First Nations.
By way of introduction, my name is Lori Ackerman. I am the mayor of Fort St. John, and I have had the pleasure of living in all four western provinces. Our city has carried the title of Clean Energy B.C.’s Community of the Year, and we are B.C.’s energy capital. We also work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Peru on building sustainable communities, and we have linked our strategic plan with the United Nations sustainable development goals
In a nutshell, we understand the fragility of communities in the face of national and provincial decisions.
What I want to share with you is a story of our community and how we managed in the face of industrial development on our doorstep outside of our jurisdiction, and that’s the B.C. Hydro, Site C hydroelectric dam, the third dam on the Peace River. The other dams had been developed decades prior, and we had no knowledge of the construction and how that would impact a community.
We could have immediately joined the Make the Lake Committee or the Damn the Dam Society, but as policy makers, it’s our job to provide an opportunity for a safe environment to listen to those who are going to be impacted, so we took a pragmatic approach. Most residents get up in the morning, and they don’t really know who provides their services to them. They just expect the water to be there, the water to leave; they expect the roads to be there; they expect that all levels of government are going to work together well to provide them with health care, education, and public safety. They don’t know how we do that, and there are days we don’t, either, but it remains our job to listen to our residents.
The environmental assessment process allowed us to be the voice of our community and the residents to engage and voice their concerns. The job of the Environmental Assessment Office is to make the recommendations on the impacts of each individual project, based on what they have heard and what the real science tells them. With engagement, involvement, and dedication, Fort St. John has managed to show how we could be impacted by that project, outside of our jurisdiction and outside of our sphere of influence as a local government.
Armed with these facts, we negotiated a community measures agreement that works. It’s possible, and I would be more than happy to provide your staff with an electronic copy of our community measures agreement and our Peace River agreement with the province.
We have seen projects where proponents are not able to manage those recommendations within the financial framework, and therefore the investment stops. Projects need to be managed on their own merit. I cannot imagine why any sort of moratorium would constrain opportunities, should they be initiated. It’s a very slippery slope.
Any community fighting for a share of revenues should understand that the projects have to happen first. We negotiate for jobs and a sustainable community, supported by responsible resource development. In other words, we negotiate for prosperity, not poverty. It is our goal to protect an enhanced sustainable development, to provide a high quality of life for our citizens. We ensure that economic, social, community, and financial impacts of any project are fully mitigated and compensated by government and industry. We promote the value of local workforce content and advocate for investment for our youth in skill development.
This bill unfairly inhibits the opportunity for First Nations communities and non-First Nations communities to understand and develop their communities to become sustainable economies and offer the social programs that improve their quality of life.
I understand you’re concerned about safety. I am, too. In Canada, we have some of the strictest safety regulations. There is no recognition of advanced technology and the stricter regulations that have made tanker traffic a highly reliable and increasingly safe way of transporting oil.
Canadians have a right to expect consistent and fair legislation and regulations that are not contradictory, arbitrary, and discriminatory toward one region of Canada.
We can protect all the coastlines of Canada and any threat of impact, while at the same time working to develop sustainable economies for our local communities. From my perspective, Bill C-48 is not the way forward.
Thank you for your time.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Ackerman. Mr. Philip Germuth, mayor of Kitimat.
Philip Germuth, Mayor, District of Kitimat: Thank you for inviting me here today.
I will give a brief history of the District of Kitimat. Kitimat exists only because of industry. It was back in the early 1950s that the Province of B.C. worked with the Aluminum Company of Canada to allow them to create a water reservoir for a hydroelectric facility to power an aluminum smelter.
Years since, we’ve also had pulp and paper, methanol, and, of course, now Kitimat is the location of the largest private investment in Canadian history with LNG Canada’s project.
The people of Kitimat fully realize and appreciate the benefits that happen from industrial development. For a town of just over 8,000 people right now, we have two ice rinks; we have a great recreation facility; our infrastructure, roads, sewer, et cetera, is in generally good condition for a community of our size. Having said that, we are also very supportive of value-added industry, and we strongly promote that. In the whole history of Kitimat, there has only ever been one industry where the community, through a plebiscite, stood together and said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” That was for the export of a persistent oil product.
Basically, operating in a global economy, it is natural that industry will seek profit first and foremost. Therefore, it is essential that all levels of government work together to ensure that citizens’ best interests are protected. Canada, its provinces, First Nations, and regional and local governments must start collaborating to implement appropriate policies and regulations to guarantee our natural resources are being utilized in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner.
Kitimat’s slogan is “A Marvel of Nature and Industry.” This motto recognizes our past and present assets of pristine natural environments and world-class industrial operations. This motto also reflects our present stance on economic development.
Kitimat is in favour of value-added industrial development, as long as the development does not pose a significant threat to our natural environments. It only makes sense to add value to Canada’s natural resources before exporting them to foreign markets. It is in the best interests of all Canadians.
Value-added industrial development helps bolster our economy at the same time as reducing risk to our environment. It is a win-win. Thank you.
The Chair: So are you supporting C-48 or are you opposed to it?
Mr. Germuth: We’re not opposed to it, let’s put it that way.
The Chair: You’re not opposed to it?
Mr. Germuth: We are not opposed to Bill C-48.
The Chair: But you’re not supporting it?
Mr. Germuth: We did write a letter in support of it, yes.
The Chair: All right, just so I’m clear.
Senator Simons: Thank you. I have many questions, and I’m going to sneak in two quickly, completely unrelated.
Mr. Bumstead, when you’re talking about the condensate that’s in your natural gas reserves, did you want to be able to pipe that to market for sale, or do you want to mix it with bitumen and sell it as dilbit dilutant?
Then I wanted to ask Mr. Ross, we understand you are a former chief of the Haisla Nation. We’ve heard from many people from the Haisla community who are vehemently opposed to C-48, and I wondered how you respond to their concerns.
Mr. Bumstead: The condensate is the final product in the chain of the hydrocarbons, and when the gas is produced, the condensate comes. Condensate is the dilutant. Condensate is the product that you use for the bitumen, and the only way they can ship it by pipeline or mix it is to combine it.
That’s the value that condensate brings to the marketplace. A few months ago, the price of a barrel of oil was $50, and a condensate barrel was $70. It’s that valuable, and so it goes now to Alberta to be mixed with it.
It’s a hugely valuable asset, and it is part of the process of the hydraulic fracturing of the shale gas. The gas comes; so do these liquids.
Mr. Ross: I was the chief councillor for the Haisla during the Enbridge days. Previous to that I was on council, as an elected councillor. In 2004, the Haida court case came out, and the duty to consult and accommodate. However, for three or four years, industry and governments actually just continued on the same road map that had gotten them to the courts in the first place. It took quite a few years for industry and government to understand that the rules had changed.
Enbridge is one good example. They continuously made huge mistakes. Originally, the process was about recognizing rights and titles. Nobody recognized that, and they paid the price. LNG came in and did the opposite of what Enbridge had done.
Even the Coastal First Nations, and I’m sure you heard from them, made a statement in the Globe and Mail that said, if they could just go back and start the clock over again, they are sure that they could get a better outcome. By the time the company and Canada had woken up and realized they had to change their approach, it was too late. We were already in court.
I if they had taken the approach that LNG had done, that forestry had done, that the mining community had done, who knows? It could have been a different approach.
Right now, we don’t have that problem. Government, B.C., industry, they all have a different approach, and they’re all following the road map that LNG actually created.
Senator Simons: Do you think the federal government has met its duty to consult in the drafting of C-48?
Mr. Ross: I doubt it. It’s hard to say, because it’s hard to get hold of records that show what the consultation process was made up of. You have to go over things like: how many times did they meet, how many emails were sent, how many letters were sent, did you talk about it over the phone.
If there was an extensive list of how often and how meaningful consultation was, then you could decide. Unfortunately the only place that can happen right now is in the courts.
Senator Patterson: Thank you all.
Mr. Ross, I believe you expressed some support for the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, its regulatory excellence.
Bill C-48 would, in effect, ban the export of a certain commodity, heavy oil, and exclude it from the regulatory process. In that sense, would you agree that Bill C-48 actually undermines our regulatory process that’s in place and working well? These projects would need to undergo rigorous environmental scrutiny, probably at both the federal and provincial levels if they were to succeed. Is that another problem with Bill C-48?
Mr. Ross: I deal with bills at the provincial level; that’s my job, and even I have a tough time with it. I can’t understand how you relate this to the average citizen. This is part of the problem, legislatures and legislators themselves trying to describe what it is and what the outcome is going to be.
I don’t think anybody who really supports or opposes this kind of bill actually understands what the long-term impact is going to be. I did not say anything about the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, but they were foreign to our territory previous to LNG. I had to travel up to Mayor Bumstead’s territory, Mayor Ackerman’s territory, to see fracking for myself. I had to go see the offices of the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, and I had to read about what they were doing and how they were doing it. I came back to my people and told them there was actually a pretty good regulatory framework in place. They’re actually doing pretty good up there.
When they came to our territory, they were kind of welcomed with open arms, even when they came onto our reserve where another LNG plant was being proposed. They even hired an LNG-B.C. Oil and Gas liaison to work between the people and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission. So I thought the regulatory framework was okay the way it is. Maybe it needs tweaking in certain areas, but it’s such a complicated picture, I don’t think even people like myself, as an MLA, can understand and explain it fully to citizens.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: Thank you. This is a question for Ms. Ackerman and Mr. Ross. I will put to you an argument that we have heard over and over, which is that, while your city or people upstream will benefit from pipelines or different projects, the people who will bear the brunt of the risk are the coastal nations. If there’s a spill, Fort St. John won’t be affected, but they will be.
I know that the risk of a spill with a supertanker is less than it was during the Exxon Valdez spill, but there is still a risk. I’d like you to answer this argument, which is some people make the money and others bear the risks.
Ms. Ackerman: Thank you for that question about risk. The reality is that, when we put our feet on the floor in the morning, we start taking risks. We do have world-class regulators in this nation, and in this province in particular, and I believe that Canada has done an exceptional job of ensuring that the technology is there.
The tankers that are going from Alaska down to Washington State through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the supply vessels taking petroleum products from Vancouver to Vancouver Island are more of a risk than the tanker traffic that is regulated by Transport Canada. As to the argument about risk, for me, I don’t see that.
The reality is, if there is a risk, the industry could very well be impacted financially, and that will be a risk to all of us.
What I’m trying to say is that communities need to understand the industry. They need to engage up front, through the environmental assessment process. They need their voices heard, and the recommendations that come from that environmental assessment process. The company then has to put those in place in order to be a successful proponent. Each area is different; each community along the coast faces different impacts. You could have a sheltered bay that the tankers go in and out of to get to open ocean, or they may have a lot of islands. That’s where the local community, the local knowledge, needs to be heard.
Mr. Ross: I heard this argument with LNG. It was the same argument, and the answer was inclusion. How do we get these First Nations involved — not only with the obvious, which is spill response. Everybody wants to be a part of spill response, but even that is regulated and you have to be qualified to actually engage in that kind of activity.
What my point was, and I actually proposed this to Canada during the LNG days, was don’t just include First Nations in the after-effect but also include them in the monitoring. There is off-the-shelf technology that we can buy, the software and hardware, that can put the First Nations in a position where they can monitor tanker traffic. Let’s face it, the risk is already there. It’s been there for 60 or 100 years. Gill netters, seine boats,ferries, they’ve all been sinking on our B.C. coast for the last hundred years, and those vessels are still leaking diesel and oils into our environment. We can’t do anything about it.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: There will be more risk with tankers.
Mr. Ross: There’s going to be more, so mitigate it. Get the First Nations included, not only in cleaning up spills but also in monitoring. The technology is there, and it provides an opportunity not only for employment but for communities in our own right to monitor tanker traffic, the AIS technology. It’s there.
The good thing about this is that the First Nations can participate with no liability and responsibility, and they can work in cooperation with Transport Canada and the Coast Guard. It’s a good win-win in terms of partnership, and it can close that gap between Ottawa and the First Nations communities on the coast. There are a lot of different ways to include people in the shipping on the West Coast, not just for oil tankers, but LNG and anybody else who has AIS technology on their vessel.
Senator MacDonald: Thank you all for being here. Ms. Ackerman and Mr. Ross, I’m was interested to hear your comments on risk. The senator just mentioned increased risk.
Nova Scotia, has 100 million metric tonnes of petroleum going through the Cabot Strait every year to feed refineries in Quebec. We take all the risk; we get no benefit. Quebec gets the benefit. They also take risks, but we take risks without benefit. As you say, you walk out the door in the morning, you have to deal with risk.
We keep hearing about the Great Bear Rainforest, which, of course, is an artificial name created by an activist from Vancouver who happened to pick it up in San Francisco. I spoke to some of the Natives from the area who said, “We never called it the Great Bear Rainforest.” I said, “What did you call it?” They said, “We called it the woods.” In Cape Breton it is the same, we call it “the woods.” When it comes to those who say that tankers should not be able to transit the waters near the Great Bear Rainforest, what’s your response to them? What’s the correlation between the Great Bear Rain Forest and tankers in the water, if any?
Mr. Ross: My band was part of the organization that actually put that all together, the Coastal First Nations, and a small portion of our territory was within that protected land. At the time, we just saw it as being good for the majority of the First Nations that live in that area. They wanted to protect it. It wasn’t protected, by the way. Logging still goes on there. There are still exploring activities for other ventures. So it wasn’t fully protected.
What we thought as a band was, “Look, out of sight, out of mind. As long as it doesn’t affect what we’re doing, and it’s such a small sliver of our territory that’s going to impacted.” This comes to what I mentioned before: When we’re talking about this kind of activity, this kind of bill that actually affects other industries and is based on propaganda, not facts, it’s going to start to spill over.
A few months ago I saw a proposal, that all the land surrounding the Great Bear Rainforest should be labelled protected as the Great Bear Waterway, whatever that means. It so happens that what they’re proposing is right in the middle of LNG shipping lanes. Now, that’s not a coincidence. We are seeing this. We’re talking about activists who are actually funded by United States money coming in, and they’re proposing all these different mechanisms that are entirely legit within the B.C. framework, or the Canadian framework, but it’s with a purpose. It’s to shut down our resources from getting to Asia.
I mean, it’s obvious. You don’t see them doing it in Texas. If you did this in Texas, said, “Okay, all oil and LNG coming from Texas is going to be shut down, but the rest of you on the eastern seaboard will be allowed to continue exporting, and, by the way, the west coast of the United States, you can continue exporting.” you’d be hung. They would run you out on a rail — not an oil rail, by the way.
This is only happening in Canada. We’re only fighting internally amongst ourselves, and we’re allowing all of these other interests to dictate. This is why I say that there’s a difference between politicking and governance. In governance, we have to think about Canada as a whole. We have to think about the provinces. We have to think about the people. We have to sift through and push aside the ideologies, and we have to sift the propaganda.
So that was my opinion on it. I supported the Great Bear Rainforest because it didn’t impact me, but then it started to spread, and it had an obvious objective: shut down exports to Asia.
Senator MacDonald: Coming out here, you see that we have a great country, a big country. When you get to northern B.C., it’s a big country; a lot of isolated communities separated by a lot of land, and everybody fighting to get some prosperity.
How would the Eagle Spirit proposal, which I have to say I find to be an attractive proposal for many reasons, impact your communities geographically, physically, or economically? Would it have any impact on your individual communities?
Mr. Bumstead: As Mayor Ackerman talked about, we have a community-built quality of life; health, happiness, and economic opportunities. People come to our communities for a job, a career, or a business opportunity. It’s created by the resource sector.
Anytime we have an opportunity that creates access to the global markets — and that’s how world class the resources are — we’re on it because it will create economic benefit to our community, our region, our province, our country. They’re that prolific; they’re that big; they’re that immense in terms of what’s available to us.
Direct jobs, sometimes, are minimal, but indirectly there may be spin-offs to our community. That was, I guess, my point about the age of the ultra-liquid. It’s a world-class resource, and it is going to create a long-term economic benefit for — and I use these terms deliberately — our community, our region, our province, our country. They’re that significant.
The Eagle Spirit proposal will have a benefit.
Mr. Ross: It doesn’t affect my community directly, but indirectly it does. I understand why they’re doing it. If you want a good example of what this type of initiative can do for Aboriginal people, you have to look at the question of unemployment, the incredible number of our children being in government care, the incredible number of our people who are in jail, and the incredible number of our people who are committing suicide. We are starting to see that problem go away in Kitimat, and it’s not through a government program. It’s not through counselling programs, which have all failed in the last 30 years. It’s because the council opened the door with an open mind to resource development, and we were included.
So now these younger generations are actually going out and getting jobs, and they’re doing things that the rest of us take for granted. They’re getting mortgages. They’re buying trucks and cars. They’re going on vacation. They have no need to actually engage in all the social behaviours that we did in my generation and the generation before us.
This is not a program. In fact, when I was a chief councillor, my goal was to say no to Ottawa funding. I didn’t want it, because that’s the only hold that the Indian Act had over my band. The door is wide open now to First Nations who are waking up and are understanding that their opinions are evolving; very fast, mind you, ever since 2004. So now the door is open to proposals like Eagle Spirit, and it’s only because they’re included at all levels; spill response, monitoring, the economy, the regulations. They’re included, and they feel better about it, and their people are the beneficiaries.
Senator Dasko: Thank you, everybody, for coming and for your presentations.
My question is to Mayor Germuth. You said you used a referendum. I wasn’t sure which project that was on; I’m not sure if that was the Enbridge or the LNG project, so maybe you could clarify that. Tell me how you got to the idea that you wanted to use a referendum in the decision-making process. Tell me if you are contemplating or have done this on Bill C-48. Also, I trust you’ve done a better job than the Brits in dealing with referendums.
Mr. Germuth: Thank you for the question. Just to clarify, it wasn’t a referendum, it was a plebiscite. A plebiscite is basically non-binding.
We had concerns and questions from the community. The council really wanted to basically poll the community to see where the support was for the Northern Gateway Enbridge project. The District of Kitimat had already, at that time, taken the position that we would support value added resources. We currently have two value-added megaprojects, refineries, for our area; there’s Kitimat Clean Refinery and Pacific Futures Energy.
When we talk about providing jobs for our children for the future, wanting to pay for health care, education, et cetera; we honestly can’t see why we would ship out a product unrefined. We’re basically giving it away and, as someone said, we’re taking all the risk with very little benefit.
So it was for the Northern Gateway Enbridge project. It came out that 58 per cent of the community was against the project. As I mentioned earlier, for a community that was built by industry and only exists because of industry, and all the benefits that we have from industry, it really was quite something. You had a majority of the community coming out and saying, “We realize all the benefits from industry, we support industry, but on this one, sorry, we’re going to say no thanks, because we are not willing to take that risk for that little benefit.”
As for the Eagle Spirit proposal, that’s not in our neighbourhood, so it doesn’t directly affect us. We have the view that we don’t like other people, communities, trying to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do in our backyard. Therefore, as a general rule we don’t comment on anybody else doing what they want to do in their backyard.
Senator Dasko: Are you going to use referendums on Bill C-48, for example?
Mr. Germuth: That was a council decision, and we’ve had no other calls for any other referendums or plebiscites. LNG is clearly a win-win no matter what, and the reason LNG is so supported, I believe, is because it’s the product. Right? It’s the product in the pipeline, it’s the product in the ship. There is so little risk should a disaster happen, or should an accident happen, let’s say.
We have absolutely no proposals and no inclination to have any other plebiscites at this time.
Senator Dasko: Thank you.
The Chair: Do you know if there is less risk with LNG products than there is with oil tankers?
Mr. Germuth: Yes, 100 per cent.
The Chair: How do you know that?
Mr. Germuth: Well, it’s the simple nature of the product. If an LNG tanker happens to hit a rock and leak, it dissipates into the air. If it’s in a crude oil tanker, it’s persistent oil. It’s extremely difficult to clean up, if you can clean it up at all. It’s not recoverable.
The Chair: So it couldn’t blow up?
Mr. Germuth: Pardon me?
The Chair: It couldn’t blow up?
Mr. Germuth: LNG could. It’s very unlikely that that would happen.
The Chair: About the same as an oil tanker, I would think?
Mr. Germuth: Catching fire, it could, possibly, but it’s the environmental risk when it leaks out. Let’s just say there are no flames if it leaks out. I haven’t heard of too many oil tankers blowing up, but I’ve heard of oil spills, and so, as the District of Kitimat with the Douglas Channel, we’re not willing to take that risk.
Clearly the plebiscite, of course, was symbolic. We couldn’t stop the federal government; if the federal government was going to say this project is coming no matter what, fair enough. We at least felt it proper to at least poll our residents and see what the general feeling was so that council could take a position to represent our citizens.
Senator Smith: I have sort of a magic-wand question, maybe for the three of you, excluding Mr. Germuth.
If you had to give one piece of advice to Indigenous leaders and/or government and/or our committee on this particular issue of Bill C-48, and you may each have an individual recommendation, what would that recommendation be to Indigenous leaders, people, the citizens, local government, and even ourselves? What would be your advice?
Ms. Ackerman: Thank you for that question. Being a politician, I have way more than just one, but I’ll try and trim it down.
In our region, we have an area known as the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area. It is a significantly large area, larger than some of our provinces in Canada, and it’s known as the “Serengeti of the North.” It actually includes several provincial parks. It does not exclude the opportunity to do industry development, but any industry development in that area must reach higher standards. Our world-class regulators challenge our industries to reach those higher expectations, and they can do it. The beauty is that it is innovation created by Canadians, and that intellectual property creates a knowledge economy that we can then share globally. We have the ability to do this.
Mr. Ross: Well, that’s a question. I think I covered what I would advise when I suggested that we open up the discussion to more than just what Bill C-48 is proposing. Let’s face it, we’re only thinking about Alberta product coming to B.C. and going to Asia. That’s all we’re talking about. But I don’t see any conversation talking about our competitors, United States in particular. I don’t see any conversations about the foreign influence money that is coming in and basically guiding our mentality toward our own resources.
I mean, we talked a little bit about the risk. I know that the product actually has different behaviours when it hits the water, but when we’re talking about risk, we’re actually talking about the regulatory framework that is put in place to eliminate risk. I don’t see that regulatory framework being any different whether you’re shipping break bulk, oil or LNG.
In fact, in today’s political environment, I expect that the government would see that we have to put extra protections when we’re talking about oil because of the sensitivity of the politics around it, which is what the government is trying to do. The OPP was there. It had First Nations engagement. It still has First Nations engagement today; they’re talking about implementing that.
At the end of the day, though, I really think Bill C-48 is singling out one single industry and treating them unfairly, without actually considering the same standards being applied to other industries and jurisdictions.
Mr. Bumstead: I really would like to preface my statement here, that this is our backyard. My bride and I were born and raised in the Peace River country. Not at all costs. Not at all risks. We want it done effectively and responsibly, on behalf of our community. This is our backyard, so we want it to be done right. We want it to be done safely.
What we’ve done, and if there’s a message here in terms of how we’re working collaboratively together to build community, is established three pillars. Ellis Ross has talked about some of them for his community. To me, that’s resonated for us, working with our Treaty 8 neighbours. It’s building community; it’s health, education, and economic opportunities. We’ve signed relationship agreements with our Treaty 8 neighbours about that, working together, collaboratively, talking about how can we work together to help build healthy communities, staying within the fence of health, education and economic opportunities?
Respect our differences, and we do have differences, but not at all costs. Health, education, and economic opportunities are common for all of us to build a healthy community. That’s the way we think we can move forward in collaboration, together, to build the opportunities that we need for healthy communities.
Senator Cormier: I have two questions. Ms. Ackerman, you said that communities must understand the industry, so my first question is: What should the industry do then to help the communities understand their challenges?
I mean, we’re talking about consultation. We’re talking about government that should consult more, but what is the industry really doing to help communities understand their challenges and goals in the measures that they’re putting forward?
That’s my first question. The second one concerns the suggestion that First Nations could be involved in monitoring. There was a proposal that there should be a First Nations intervention centre, and the federal government didn’t accept that proposal. Do you think it could be useful to have that? It means that First Nations could be involved in monitoring, in intervention when spills happen.
Ms. Ackerman: I’ll speak to the first one about community understanding and what we did.
We didn’t rely on the industry to educate us. We educated ourselves. We sought those who understand; in this particular case it was hydroelectric dams, and how they are built. The United Nations had a world commission on dams, and we began there. We reached out to other communities across Canada that have had dams built in their backyards.
We educated ourselves, and then took the binders of the environmental impact statements made by the proponent and went through those with a fine-tooth comb and pulled out how we thought our community would be impacted, according to our official community plan, which we are legislated by law to have.
Mr. Ross: The monitoring issue was not my idea. It was actually put to me by a band member who opposed LNG and oil. He offered this to me as a way to get us to accept these products more openly.
It was based on technology that was being used in the Harbour of Vancouver. You can buy this technology, and I proposed to my counsel that we buy the software and hardware and we set it up down on Douglas Channel.
Now, the beauty of this is all we’re doing is monitoring it, but if we worked in partnership with Transport Canada and the Coast Guard, we could be another set of eyes. We’re the ones on the coast. We’re the ones watching. We’ve actually been watching tankers come up our territory for the last 60 years. They’ve been carrying pulp and paper products, aluminum products, bauxite. We’ve been trying to fight the environmental issues for the last 60 years. Instead of fighting it, we thought how could we become part of it?
The beauty of this was that we could actually employ, 24 hours around the clock, somebody to sit there and watch and know exactly what ship was coming in, what they were carrying, where they came from, and what direction they’re heading. If something really happened, or was going to happen, we could notify the Coast Guard in real time and say, “In 10 minutes, this tanker is going to hit a rock.” That actually happened in Kitimat about six years ago.
By the time it happens we’d have it all documented on our computer, and we could submit that as evidence. We would not be regulators. We would be just another set of eyes, and work in cooperation with the federal government.
This was a good idea. It wasn’t my idea. At the time, we had the money, as a band, to invest, but my band turned it down. I turned to Transport Canada, the Coast Guard, and asked if we could strike a partnership and develop this. My village would be the base. So if anything happens, you could come into my community, set up your incident command, coordinate with B.C., and we could all interact together. In the meantime, we all learn how to respond to spills while, in the interest of safety, mitigating as much as we can. Let’s include all of us in this.
Unfortunately, that didn’t get very far.
Senator Patterson: Mr. Ross, we’ve heard some strong voices in support of Bill C-48, and we’ve also heard from Indigenous leaders who would like to take advantage of the opportunities presented by energy exports to a hungry market in Asia. One of those you are familiar with, of course, Eagle Spirit. We also heard just today from the Nisga’a, and there are other Aboriginal leaders who would like to see something go forward.
Politics is the art of compromise, in my experience. I’m wondering how you would react to an amendment to Bill C-48 that would slightly lower the northern extent of the moratorium area. It would allow ports like one on the Nisga’a lands, a new or an improved port at Stewart, B.C., which we heard about this morning, and perhaps Grassy Point, which we were told is the safest harbour on the West Coast. What would you think about an amendment that would slightly adjust the northern boundary of the moratorium area to allow Indigenous-led projects with rights holders to have an opportunity to move forward while excluding much of the rest of the coast? What would you think of an amendment like that?
Mr. Ross: That would be a fairly surgical amendment. I don’t know how difficult that would be to get through the House of Commons, but you raise an interesting point, politics being the art of compromise.
LNG was opposed by a number of coastal First Nations, and my band, that had the terminal, the pipeline tanker situated in our territory, could see the opposition from our neighbouring communities, and we could see that government and industry were failing at addressing their interests. We went to these communities and asked them point blank: “What’s your problem? What is going to solve this?” The two communities in question said outright, and they were honest, “We have 80 per cent unemployment. We have no contracts. We have nothing. We’re living in poverty, and the company has offered us nothing.”
From that perspective my council decided to give part of our benefit to our neighbouring bands under our umbrella, so the company doesn’t have to expend any more money and the government doesn’t have to get involved. We offered one band a guaranteed contract limit of $25 million. We also gave our neighbours to the north unfettered access to contracts for the right-of-way for the pipeline. Our band didn’t say a word. They just said that we should give it to them. There’s no point in our band being successful when our neighbours are living in poverty, when we have all this wealth.
My point is, we’re talking a lot about reconciliation and looking for ways to lift First Nations up out of poverty and out of their social issues. However, there’s a responsibility here too, in my mind, that First Nations have to reach out to each other. We like to work in isolation of each other. That’s why we have overlap problems. We have to get away from all of our differences and look at what we have in common — we’re all suffering from poverty.
What you said is pretty true. There is compromise to be made, and that’s part of the art of politics. That is mainly why LNG was so successful, not along the pipeline route only, but along the Coastal First Nations as well because they were included.
The Chair: Mr. Ellis, you’re a wise man. I wish that the rest of the country could adopt your principles.I was getting to the point that it’s important for people to think of somebody else besides themselves. That’s a wise lesson that we all have to learn.
So much appreciated to all of you.
For our second panel this afternoon we are pleased to welcome, from Chunih Consulting, Mr. Martin Louie, the president; and from the National Coalition of Chiefs, Mr. Roy Jones, Jr., the chief; and from the Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition, Ms. Theresa Tait Day, president.
Martin Louie, President, Chunih Consulting: Good afternoon, guests, and chiefs of the Tsimshian and Kitselan homeland, and members of the Senate.
I don’t usually read; it usually comes from here.
The Chair: You can say it anyway you want. We’re fine.
Mr. Louie: First off, I’d like to thank the Tsimshian and Kitselan people for having the Senate, the Canadian government, to carry out such an important task that was put before them. I don’t envy you; I’ll tell you that much right now. It’s something that government themselves should have taken care of a long time ago.
My name is Cheexial. I was given that as a child. That’s my hereditary name. A lot of my colleagues know me as Martin Louie, and they know me as Enbridge Slayer. I was the one who sort of worked to take Enbridge out, not because I didn’t want progress. I wanted Aboriginal people to have proper equity on any project that comes onto their land, and revenue-sharing, and to ensure the safety of the environment. Those are the only two things I went after Enbridge for. One of the most important things that I did with Enbridge was ask them to move their line away from the major waterways of British Columbia. There were five major waterways that they had to move their pipelines away from.
They didn’t bother doing that because, actually, they take their orders from governments, Canada, regulatory standards. That’s basically what I want to talk about.
I’m going to apologize up front for things I’m going to say, but it’s the truth, and we have to know the truth of our past to actually move forward. The truth involves the Delgamuukw and Tsilhqot’in court cases. The Delgamuukw decision was delivered December 5, 1997. The Tsilhqot’in decision, was delivered June 26, 2014. These are the two most important decisions that were ever made in Canada. These decisions should have invoked changes on our land in our relationships, how business is carried out, how our resources are developed in our country. Because of these decisions that were made by the courts of Canada and B.C., we ended up with a governing structure that has two tiers, an Aboriginal structure of governance and Canada.
The court says that to get consent you need to speak to us properly. You cannot develop a consultation process that is going to affect our ability to make changes to the laws, your laws. That’s what is happening. After 22 years in B.C., the Indigenous relationship with government still remains legal. Anything we do has to go through legal channels to change it. If we’re part of Canada, I don’t see why we have to do these things.
In history, mankind set social, political, and economic stages by conquering in one form or another. Today, you look around the world, the countries are still in positions of conquer, but it’s not for land, it’s for economy.
Much of the colonial process that we came from is still in play today, and that’s what keeps us separated as Indigenous people and the governments. This colonial process that is in place has to change, to benefit the future of our children, all of our children.
There are ways that we can make these changes together. It has to be, in our minds, as Indigenous people, by a consensus process in our law. We don’t vote for this or vote for that in our laws. We bring the problem to the table, in our house, and we deal with it, and we do not leave until everybody is satisfied with the position being taken. That’s how we deal with our laws, through our laws. Our laws are more common sense driven.
The task that you guys have right now is to try to figure out how to get the economy going again. It’s simple. We know the damages that might happen, or could happen, the risk that we’re going to take. We all have to take it, all of us. If we’re going to have a better place for our children in Canada, and show the world that we can work together, we have to get rid of this colonial process. It just keeps us in a legal framework where lawyers, consultants, environmental consultants are the only ones who benefit.
The Chair: We’re getting close; we’re at about eight minutes.
Mr. Louie: There have been no changes in those court decisions. Everybody says they’re going to change it. Environmental people say they’re going to do it. The consultants say they’re going to do it, and we’re still in the same spot 22 years later. Not one change has happened in our country.
All the ministers, both federal and provincial, have this mandate to work through this reconciliation. You need to understand our laws and our people in order for you to understand how we can reach reconciliation, how we can, together in partnership, build a different country for everybody’s benefit. We have to work toward that together. We cannot leave anybody out, and that’s where the problem is. We don’t vote on things. When we vote on things, we get like the people on the street out there; one votes for the other, and votes for the other, and there’s no consensus. My way or no way at all, and that’s it.
The Chair: Thank you. I’ve got Mr. Jones.
Roy Jones Jr., Chief, National Coalition of Chiefs: Good afternoon. Before I start, I want to quote one of our previous panel from a news story that was done a couple of years ago:
“’It’s a lifestyle of poverty and welfare and suicide,’ said Ross. ‘These poverty skills are well honed. They’re passed on to the next generation. In my mind, I’ve got no choice. I’ve got to try something. If it makes an impact for my people and they can continue down this path of poverty, that’s my fault. They elected me to do something about their future, full responsibility. It’s not B.C.’s fault, it’s not Canada’s fault, it’s on me.’”
That’s quoted from an interview a newspaper for did with Ellis Ross, our MLA here.
I want to acknowledge the Tsimshian Nation and the Nisga’a. My wife is from the Nisga’a Nation, or her lineage comes from Mianch and I’m always comfortable up in this country.
My potlatch name is Chikel, aka Roy Jones, Jr. Today, I’m here in the interest of the National Coalition of Chiefs, supported by the Modern Miracle Network, which is funded by industry.
The goal of the National Coalition of Chiefs is to defeat poverty on reserves. We ask what would Bill C-48 do for the north coast? How would people benefit from this bill depriving us from opportunities associated with hydrocarbons?
I’ve been a captain on the B.C. coast for 30 years of my life. I was very fortunate; I grew up in the fishing industry. A young man came to me one day, and he said, “You’ve got no respect for the ocean.” When I was finished sitting down with him and discussing oil and gas and tanker traffic, what’s going on out in the world, he had a turn of events in his life and sits beside me today, asking me questions like how are we going to do this, how are the jobs going to work for us.
I started working for Enbridge in May of 2015, at a very big expense to my reputation among my people. It was very bitter. I learned a lot about shipping, cargo, and human nature. It was a valuable lesson in my life.
At one point, while I was working for Enbridge my youngest daughter was down in Standing Rock protesting the pipeline. She came home one day, and she said, “Dad, I just came from Standing Rock. Tell me about what you’re doing.”
When I was through with her, she asked me one question: “How do you sleep at night?”
I said I take sleeping pills. Cannabis is legal now. When I was 15, I smoked pot for the first time. It put me to sleep. When I was 66, I smoked pot probably for the fourth or fifth time, and it put me to sleep. So it helps me sleep at night.
Having given you a little insight into me right now, I lived a high life in the fishing industry. Two weeks ago I was out food fishing for halibut, and I got four halibut and did really well. I have nothing but respect for our oceans.
Now, in the time I worked with Enbridge, I started a research project. They hired us, and our job was to tell people that we worked for Enbridge. So I said, “I have to tell people more than that. I’m a hereditary chief; I can’t just say I’m working for Enbridge.” In 1969, I worked in Kitimat loading big ships with aluminum. In 1972, I loaded paper on ships in Port Edward. In 1976, I bought a seine boat, and 1977 was my first year as captain of my own vessel. I was a captain for 22 years, a private boat owner. That ended 21 years ago because of the fishing industry downturn.
In that time, one year I ran a tugboat for a corporation out of Seattle.
I come with a vast amount of coastal experience. I’ve fished from the mouth of the Nass River all the way down to the Washington border. I’ve fished in Hawaii. I’ve travelled the coastline and learned a lot about the Eastern Pacific coastline travelling in the southern United States. I’ve been on the East Coast, so I know what you’re talking about when we have to compare things.
I could not study only what was happening on the north coast of British Columbia; I had to take a look at what was going on around the world. Starting with Valdez, last year 8.6 billion gallons of crude oil came down the B.C. coast, from Valdez to the Lower 48. They’re planning 8.6 billion gallons again this year. By 2021, with the exploration going on in ANWR, which is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, they anticipate that all four loading ports in Valdez will be working and topping off at about 21 billion gallons by 2021.
Those numbers come from the Prince William Sound Advisory Council, citizen’s advisory council. I can get on the phone and get any information I want from them at any time.
This poses a major risk to our B.C. coast already. This is why we ask what is Bill C-48 going to do for us. We are talking about world-class protection for the B.C. coast, and yet we’ve got nothing. When we’re sitting there waiting for the contracts to come out for the tugboats to protect the west coast of British Columbia, and pick up the newspaper only to find that it was given to a Halifax company, that really turns your crank as an Aboriginal person living on the West Coast.
Now, I’ve also done research on the English Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal, the Milan Strait, the Singapore Strait, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, as well as Dixon Entrance. The unique thing about these places is they all have major shipping lanes.
The Chair: We’re at about seven minutes.
Mr. Jones: How much time do I have?
The Chair: You have no time, so wrap it up.
Mr. Jones: Anyway, in comparison with the northwest, we have absolutely minimal traffic. If we added another thousand ships to the shipping lanes of the north coast, we would call on industry to ensure that we had the right vessels to protect our waters.
That is why we ask what would Bill C-48 do for us. The opening remarks talked about poverty in our communities, and none of us are any different. With poverty comes drugs and alcohol, and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal are suffering the same fate. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you. Ms. Tait Day.
Theresa Tait Day, President, Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition: Thank you, senators, for this opportunity. It’s nice to see you again, senator, and Senator Patterson. I was in Ottawa and had the pleasure of meeting you two there.
I would like to acknowledge the territory of the Tsimshian people and the Coastal First Nations people. I want to acknowledge that the coastal people, with their lands and their water, are no different. We see them as the same, and we want to recognize that to begin with.
I’d like to take you back a little bit in history just to frame the question. Part of the problem that we’re facing right now in Canada is the issues that Indigenous and nonIndigenous people are grappling with. My colleagues have already touched upon that. It comes from the 1763 Royal Proclamation. That proclamation was the first treaty with Canada, and Canada and Indigenous people said, at that time, that we would live side by side together with respect, peace, and friendship. As well, the resources that we had as Indigenous people were to be used and shared.
As we went along in history, that did not happen. Indigenous people were put on the reserves and forced into assimilation and residential schools, and so forth. As a result of all of that we have now had 150 years of poverty in First Nations communities.
I point this out because one thing that is really prevalent in our country is the fact that Indigenous peoples — although we have made some strides through court cases, such as the Delgamuukw and Tsilhqot’in cases — are still in a place where we are getting crumbs from the table of our own resources.
I heard one distinguished Indigenous person from the Algonquin say, “Take back all of the money that you have given Indigenous people. Take it all back, and give us our land back, and then we could use that.”
As my colleagues have mentioned, Indigenous people have been suffering in poverty since the enactment of the Indian Act and the residential school system, the laws that have impeded Indigenous people from self-determination. With Indigenous people are involved in the decision-making, self-determination is something that we can work toward together, Indigenous and nonIndigenous working to get the best result with what we have.
I am the president of the Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition. As you know, the Wet’suwet’en have recently been in the news as being against the LNG project going to Kitimat. I want to say that this is indicative of the fact that our historical oppression continues to raise its head. In our community, 95 per cent of the people are living in poverty, earning $175 a month on welfare. Nobody can live on that, and as a result you have a downward spiral. That’s the reality in our communities.
The Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition was formed by hereditary chiefs, hereditary house chiefs, community at large. All of them want to see an economic benefit from the natural resources that are attached to our lands. Because all of us Indigenous people are connected in the north, wherever we go, we have a relationship. This relationship to each other has been colonized to the extent where we are not all on equal footing in the communities.
As a result, a lot of infighting goes on, because people don’t understand what is at stake. So the Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition took it upon itself to educate the people, to educate our members about the LNG. We have actually gone to see the fracking; we’ve actually gone to see the grey water used by the Fort St. John community for fracking. We are also involved with looking at the downstream. Why we agree with LNG and why we agree with natural gas going to China is because it’s the lesser of the two evils, we think. We want to see natural gas get to China because of the pollution that is being foisted upon our country by China, the CO2 emissions and so forth.
We also looked at what is the alternative to gas, and we found that the shipping of natural gas through the pipelines was the safest way. It dissipated in the air. There was no chance of explosion. We also heard from Indigenous people across the country who have been saying to Enbridge, “Change the pipeline. They’ve been in the ground too long; that’s why there’s a problem there.”
Industry needs to listen, and government needs to follow the lead of Indigenous people.
I say that as a representative of Indigenous people. The land is unceded and that means it hasn’t been sold. We haven’t been killed off. We are still here, and we want to go back to that Royal Proclamation of friendship, peace, and sharing. It hasn’t been an equitable sharing arrangement with Indigenous people at all.
So we are at the stage now, as Indigenous people, where we want to have equity in the decision-making process. We want to be able to have equity in these projects that are coming about. We want to buy into these projects. Yet, we cannot get a loan guarantee from the Government of Canada to buy equity in these projects.
The Chair: You’re almost out of time.
Ms. Tait Day: If we did not have gas or oil, we would have to have 102 Site C dams to deal with the CO2 emissions, to get to that target rate of zero CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. That’s not acceptable, because we don’t want to kill off all the animals, and we don’t want to destroy the land. We did our research and said that this is the better alternative. When we worked with the natural gas, all of our people were working on the line. They actually were able to change the way that the pipeline went around sensitive areas and, if there was enough funding for Indigenous people to be a part of the delivery of a project, equal partnership, we would be in a better position.
Right now, as it stands, we’re only getting crumbs from the table. Thank you, senators.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
If there’s one thing that we have heard about — and we’ve heard a lot; we’ve had a really good day and a half of hearings — is the consulting process, which has befuddled me. I still don’t quite understand what it means. As senators, we hear that on almost every bill that in some way infringes onto Aboriginal rights or Aboriginal property. We hear about the consulting process failing. Nobody ever seems to get it right, but nobody quite knows what it is.
Could you tell us what a good consulting process would be. What does it mean to you? Maybe that would help us, because, obviously, we sure don’t get it.
Ms. Tait Day: I could start.
The Chair: We’ll have to be crisp on the answers.
Ms. Tait Day: I think what it comes down to is that, if you’re looking at Indigenous people’s input, then it’s Indigenous people’s vision and voice that must go forward. That needs to be supported by government and industry, because they’re the ones that are going to be driving this. Remember, it’s unceded territory, so whatever comes from Indigenous people is important, to be heard and led by Indigenous people. So the resources need to be there, a loan guarantee needs to be there. Those kinds of things need to happen so that we’re driving the economy as well.
Mr. Jones: For me, the consulting process is about education. There’s a number of things where we’re involved as well as Coastal. You heard all the fears. When I spoke in Calgary last year, that’s the very thing I talked about, the fear that people face in coastal British Columbia.
I’m not a big fan of oil and gas. I’m not a big fan of tankers. They’re real, they live out there today. The way I look at it is we’re like a baby in a winter storm without a diaper. We have to be very, very cautious about how we approach this because, on the north coast, we are virtually unprotected from any disaster. When I looked at Prince William Sound and the way they’ve operated in 1996, there was absolutely no sign of oil unless you got on the beach and started digging around to get it up. Oil always seems to manage to go back to where it comes from, no matter where you put it.
Consultation and education are the very keys to moving forward. The reason I say this is that when you’re consulting with a group of people, you’re better to go into ballot versus put your hand up, because you’ll get a better answer that way.
The other thing is educate about the marine aspects of moving products across the ocean. Educate people on what the IMO, the International Marine Organization, is and what it does. A lot of people in the room are drawing blanks on me for just saying that. These are the things that have to be done.
The education should start from the drop of oil in the well and go on to the oil in the ship and beyond. That’s the real key to it. I’ll tell you some of the human nature things I ran into. I was called the village clown and shit like that. The guy who said it, his twin sister was loading the pipeline at the other end to get it to the coast. So that’s the kind of human nature you run into when you’re in a small community.
The Chair: Mr. Martin Louie, do you have anything to add?
Mr. Louie: It’s, I guess, about projects. We’re usually the last ones to hear about projects that are going to be developed. By then the consultation process is already out the door.
If any project is going to happen in our traditional land, we need to know up front. I’ll give you a good example, it’s a new gold mine just south of Prince George, somewhere around there. Anyway, they were just about ready to build the mine itself, until they came to Nadleh, where I come from. They wanted to offer some revenue sharing just because they figured I might go and protest. I told them, “Yes, I’ll talk about revenue sharing as soon as you agree on our water policies.”
Being a chief, I developed a water policy for the mine right next door to us. It polluted the water so bad, and we weren’t consulted about how it was put in, how it would work. I told the company, “If you can abide by this water policy, then we can talk.” The consultation part of it has to happen prior to permits. They have to come to us, asking us for permission. Then we go and sit with you guys, and we’ll say, “How can we do this? How can we do this in a safe way together?” It has to be between you and us. It can’t be you, and you, and you. It has to be you and us, the consultation part of it. From the point of starting any project, we’re left out, right at the beginning.
Senator Simons: My question is for Mr. Jones.
One of the things that’s really disturbed me over the course of all the testimony we’ve heard here and in Ottawa is I had not realized how lacking we were in marine response capacity along this coastline. One of the things that really concerns me is, in terms of C-48, that the government might pat itself on the back, say, “We’ve banned the big tankers,” and not invest the money that we clearly need to do that marine response. That said, when we were in Prince Rupert yesterday, we had a witness who became very angry at the suggestion that Indigenous people should be involved in that response and asked why were we expecting them to put themselves at risk to deal with toxic cleanup, that that shouldn’t be a duty that they take on.
What you think about what is actually required to have the appropriate cleanup response close enough that it can actually function in a timely way, even if we don’t have oil tankers, even if it’s just to deal with things like the Queen of the North and the Nathan E. Stewart?
Mr. Jones: That’s a really good question. Places like the English Channel have first-class response vessels at their disposal. In a meeting with Transport Canada in my early days of research, one of the captains asked me a question: Why are you worried about oil and gas? And I said, “It’s going to muck up our beach and kill our food.” He said, “Well, there are 6 or 7 vessels a week going by Haida Gwaii. Any one of those vessels can kill all of you people, so you guys have to think about things like that.”
If Canada makes the commitment to put a first-class response system in, we are ready to do it. We’ve already done the research, we’ve got our tugboat design from Robert Allen Ltd. in Vancouver ready to go. Where we fell short was the money, and arbitrarily handing out a $67-million contract to a company in Halifax, like I said earlier, was a real burn to the West Coast people.
The other issue around that is our communication levels were down because, once the people went against Enbridge and it was found out that there was a number of us working for Enbridge, we were put on the outside.
I was the head navigator for the Simushir incident. I told the Haida and the Coast Guard people that that line was going to tighten up on the Simushir at 5:30 tomorrow night, as soon as I found out how fast the tugboat was going when it left Prince Rupert. I’m a coastal navigator, and I know what I’m talking about. The sad part is, in our Haida community, all of us skippers were slammed on the outside for our vision of working with Enbridge, when the whole purpose of working for Enbridge at the time was for coastal protection.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: I just have a small question for Ms. Theresa Tait Day. Could you explain to me what is the Matrilineal Coalition?
Ms. Tait Day: I would be happy to do that. The Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition formed as a response to the need for our nation to become aware of natural gas and the pipeline. We found that very little information was trickling down through the engagement with Trans Canada. They did engage with the bands, but the Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition is made up of hereditary chiefs —
Senator Miville-Dechêne: Women?
Ms. Tait Day: Women and men, as well. Wet’suwet’en and the coastal people in northwest B.C., along with Haida, are a matrilineal society. All of our children follow our clan. I’m a Frog Clan, and my traditional name is Wi’hali’yte , which means “Far Seer.” All of my children would become Frog clan members, and so forth.
We have a system and we have a geographic territory. You know about the Delgamuukw decision; our people took that to court. Since that time, we have not been able to access any resources. Like I say, crumbs from the table is an understatement. It’s just not something we have benefited from, but the rest of Canada has, because we don’t have the resources. For over 150 years, our people have wanted one cent a tree, from the manufacturing of that tree as it went through the process. We wanted to get that one cent. We never did get it until the Supreme Court decision, Delgamuukw, but we still haven’t got that one cent a tree.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: Thank you for your explanation.
Senator Dasko: I asked this question of one of the panels this morning.
The Senate has to make a decision very soon. There’s not a lot of time left to deliberate. Our choices as a Senate committee are, essentially, defeat, turn this bill down; accept it; or amend it, change it.
Can I ask each of you which of those — I think I know that one of them is off the table — options do you think we should take? If you’re going to say amend, please say what you would amend. Thank you.
Ms. Tait Day: I would say amend, and I would ask this question, because we as a coalition have gone around the block about this question: What do we do, and how do we become involved? What is our place?
We came up with this question: Can they amend Bill C-48 to go back to the drawing board, in effect, to look at how oil is shipped? For example, can they not put oil in pods and put them on the tankers? In the event that there is a hole in the ship, the oil is not going to drain out. It’s going to be protected by these pods, like pods of milk, if you will, in a plastic container. So if the ship goes down, you can always retrieve these pods. It’s that kind of innovative thinking that needs to be talked about. I would say let’s amend it and go back to the drawing board, and then have industry look at alternative ways of shipping.
We do have to get it to market. I would be in favour of it for another reason. Recently we met with Vivian Krause. Vivian Krause is a person who has looked at following the money and how the Rockefeller Foundation has managed to land-lock oil and gas in this country. It is costing us taxpayers, $2.2 billion for gas alone in this country. So we’re subsidizing the U.S. because they have landlocked oil and gas and prevented it from going to China. We want to get our natural gas to China to mitigate the problems with the pollution that we’re facing from there. That’s my yes and no.
Mr. Jones: Number one, this would be the only moratorium in the world, if it was passed. Number two, personally, amendments would work, such as excluding them from places like Douglas Channel. In the research that I did from Kitimat to a relief spot off Langara Island, on the northwest coast of Haida Gwaii, which was 258 nautical miles, I proposed Nasoga, which would be 118 nautical miles to the same point.
The Robert Allan report on the Strait of Juan de Fuca says that 25,000 ships a year go in there . It’s 10 nautical miles across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and 10 nautical miles across the Singapore Strait, but the Singapore Strait gets 70,000 ships a year.
I don’t think amending would work, but we have to be mindful that it’s a safer option than the Strait of Juan de Fuca. If a ship wrecked off Sheringham Point, which is on the southwest corner of Vancouver Island, we would be still affected by the oil, and we’re 411 nautical miles from that point.
There’s no safe place in B.C., if it happens down there.
The Chair: Does that mean you’re opposed to it, or you’re for it? I’m not quite sure.
Mr. Jones: No, the bill is not going to help the coast of British Columbia, period.
The Chair: Thank you. Mr. Louie?
Mr. Louie: Before the first reading, I was saying that we need to get the Aboriginal people involved so we don’t get into a situation like this. Amending it, I don’t know how it’s going to make a lot of difference, unless you amend it in our house. Talking about our house and how we do business, if you could amend it according to that process, then we’d know that it’s safe, we’d know that it’s equitable, and we’d know that everybody will benefit. That’s the only thing I can say.
Senator Patterson: Thank you, witnesses. It’s great to see Mr. Jones and Ms. Tait again.
Mr. Jones, I’m very impressed with your sailing experience and your fishing experience in all parts of the world. You mentioned that these sensitive areas have corridors, if I understood you right. Could you tell us how these corridors work and whether that could be an option for the north coast to improve safety?
Mr. Jones: Whether we have tankers or not, those corridors should be in place all over British Columbia. Right now, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is shared with the United States of America, there is a shipping corridor. It runs and it splits in the Haro Strait to go down to Puget Sound, and it also goes right into Vancouver Harbour.
If you look at a chart of Vancouver Harbour, you’ll see the shipping corridor is very clear there. Believe me, it is a dangerous place for a small vessel, and I owned a 66-foot seine boat. I’ve actually owned two of them. At the same time, you have marine traffic and everything there. The communication systems for marine traffic in the corridors do work for the major ships that do transit the areas. They are very well laid out and very well monitored.
Vancouver, being the metropolis it is and given the size of the harbour, has 12,500 boats going into the Greater Vancouver Area. They have all the tugboats and the facilities to ensure that they can mitigate any risk and they work together to ensure the safety of transportation for any products that come out of there, whether they be oils, powders, or organic peroxides and stuff, which is a large family of very dangerous cargo.
Senator Gagné: Mr. Veldman, a specialist and international hydro technical consultant in pipelines, mines, and infrastructure, appeared as a witness in March in Ottawa. He was saying that, if oil tankers were allowed to come to port on the West Coast, you would probably be able to support the marine response capacity, and that it would probably make things safer. That comes from that witness.
I would like your comments on that, Mr. Jones.
Mr. Jones: One of the things that would work is having community advisory involvement. Talking about the northwest coast, we have some really bad weather out there, believe me. When you can see a 60-foot boat just about standing on end or a wave breaking over your deck, it’s pretty scary. A large ship full of fluid, no matter what it is, powders, whatever, those boats are specially designed. They don’t look good when they’re moving across the ocean.
I think community involvement in developing regulations would allow industry and government to move forward more comfortably, and allow the community more comfort about what’s going on. Once you break away from the Dixon Entrance and get out into the Pacific Ocean, it’s a whole different story. You have a fair amount of protection in Dixon Entrance. You also have n that area one of the highest food-valued areas of the Haida people, both in the United States and in Canada. So if anything happens there, we have to be involved. There is no leaving us on the sideline, zero.
The sad part is we need education now for our younger people. As you heard in the Prince Rupert session yesterday, our fishermen have an average age of 65 in most communities. I’m 67, and my fishing partner is 64, and there are no kids following us. All I’m doing is food fishing, so we’re losing touch with the ocean, and that could be disastrous if something were to happen in my lifetime as a leader and an employer in our community.
Senator MacDonald: Thank you to all three of you; it’s been a great discussion. I think I’ll direct my questions to Mr. Jones. I have to tell you something. I grew up in a house, with a kitchen table that was full of people like you. On my father’s side, they all sailed for a living, captains, merchant captains, captains in the Coast Guard and the DFO. A lot of fishing on my mother’s side, too, but the big difference is that there were more drownings on my mother’s side. Fishing was always a more dangerous profession.
You talked about how you know this coast and you know how to respond to problems. Senator Simons raised spill response units, but I want to pursue it a bit. I don’t see any reason why industry can’t be leaned on, if industry wants to come in here and put pipelines in or export product, why can’t industry be more involved in setting up these spill response units? Do we need more spill response units along this coast anyway, and where should they be? Secondly, do we have enough compulsory pilotage areas on the coast here? Should there be more?
Mr. Jones: For the spill response areas, there’s no reason why we cannot follow the model of our regional advisory councils of both Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound. That would be a real valuable training, to learn from the people with the greatest experience.
For the pilotage areas, for large oil-laden tankers that will be moving around the coastline, I believe we would have to see some pilotage extended out to beyond where they are now. Right now, they’re all regulated to the surf line, which is three miles offshore. It would be no problem to extend it to a release point of, say, 60 miles off the mainland, to the Pacific Ocean. That could be doable.
Enbridge gave us $213 million to develop spill response, too. We had 32 First Nations involved with Enbridge. We were in the process of signing the thirty third when Mr. Trudeau announced on November 19, 2016, that the Great Bear Rainforest and the Douglas Channel are no places for tankers.
Saying that about the Douglas Channel meant the Kitimat would not be the port. Two months after I left Enbridge, I delivered them a letter saying that Kitimat is not the port, and it came with two maps showing the distances to tanker release and the routes, and why.
When I spoke at the JRP in 2012, my concern was about the route, so the pilotages are very important. We have to ensure that maximum measures are put in place for the safety of our oceans, ports and coastlines.
Ms. Tait Day: If I could just add to that, we’ve had several discussions about this as well. One of the suggestions was that there should be a billion-dollar bond put on the companies that use the coast ways, so that Indigenous people have access to that. Again, it’s important that relationships with Indigenous people be on an equal footing, so that we’re not giving away little bits piecemeal. We need to have control of the coast and, in order to do that, we need the funding to make sure that that’s going to happen.
The Chair: We have one question from Senator Cormier, and then we’ll finish this session.
Senator Cormier: Mr. Chair, my question follows on Senator Dakso’s question around amendment, because, of course, we will have to decide on this bill pretty soon.
Considering the lack of consultation with First Nations — they should have been there from the beginning of this whole process — and considering the technology evolution, there are going to be changes, new technologies, do you think that if a periodic revision obligation were included in the bill, that would help to continue the conversation, the consultation process with First Nations? The government would have to periodically revisit the act. I would like to hear your views on that one.
Ms. Tait Day: Again, what would satisfy Indigenous people is the recognition of their right to self-determination. In that recognition is the right to manage the lands along with industry and government. It’s flipping that idea on its head, where the Aboriginal people are the leaders and you are the supporters. That’s how I would answer.
Mr. Louie: I just need to add to that. You talk about the bonds, you talk about many things and you talk about time limits, which is one of the things that I was really interested in. With any project there should be plans to revisit no matter what. Even the legislation has to be revisited, because technology does take over. There’s no doubt about it. We’ve got electric cars running around out there; I don’t know how much longer we’ll need gas and oil.
The bill needs to be amended and revisited every few years, to see how effective it is, whether it was or wasn’t effective.. It has to be open, because things do change. People do change. It has to be for the better of Canada.
Senator MacDonald: Just one quick remark for the captain. My uncles, when it comes to getting to sleep, their drug of choice was always dark rum. That was their preference.
The Chair: Mr. Jones, would you like to answer Senator Cormier’s question?
Mr. Jones: The consultation process has to be an integral part of moving forward. Depending on which way this bill goes, you guys may say, “Okay, we’re going to go with the moratorium, we’re shutting her down.” There’s no need for consultation.
It’s pretty much like when we talk about the Eagle Spirit concept of an energy corridor. When I reviewed that and studied what they were doing with it, I thought it was absolutely brilliant. You could put redundancy systems in wherever there are sensitive areas to ensure that anything that happens in that area would be contained. It was just absolutely brilliant. It has to be the same way when it reaches tidewater and beyond. We have to make sure that the facilities that we need when this ship leaves this port are there to ensure the safe departure of a laden ship, no matter what’s on it.
The Chair: Thank you very much, witnesses. That was most interesting.
In the spirit of reconciliation, Senator Miville-Dechêne will chair the next session.
Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne (Deputy Chair) in the chair.
The Deputy Chair: We are pleased to welcome, from SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, Greg Knox, executive director; from The North Matters, Mr. Steven Simons; from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Mr. Kyle Artelle, research scientist; and from Douglas Channel Watch, Mr. Dave Shannon, retired engineer.
We will now hear from witnesses. I ask that each of you speak for five minutes, because if you are too long we won’t have time for answers.
Greg Knox, Executive Director, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust: Thank you very much, senators, for allowing me to speak. I know it was last minute, and I have done my best to get my presentation together on short notice.
My name is Greg Knox, and I have lived in this area for almost 20 years. I moved here because the area is pretty special in terms of the wilderness opportunities it offers and the cultures that exist here in terms of indigenous cultures and the communities. They’re wonderful communities to live in. I am raising a family here, and this is now my home. , About 12 years ago, I became the executive director of SkeenaWild Conservation Trust. We’re a salmon conservation organization that was put together by people in the region who care about the wild rivers, the fish and the sustainability of our communities.
As I mentioned, this area is unique, and that’s what drew me here. It is unique on a global scale. The Skeena is one of the last large intact salmon watersheds in the world. It’s a place where people from all over the world come to fish and enjoy the outdoors. We have the largest, physically by size, salmon in the world, world-record caught Chinook salmon, steelhead, Coho salmon, and it is just a Mecca for sport fishing. It is also, of course, important for Indigenous cultures, as you’ve heard, and it supports a large industry, about $110-million industry, every year.
It is the region of the Great Bear Rainforest. The region has been protected over many years because of the unique values in the Great Bear Rainforest. It’s a large, intact, coastal temperate rainforest which, if you imagine a tropical rainforest, it has similar incredibly important ecological values. It supports a really rich diversity of species, as does the marine system surrounding it. That is what makes it so unique. It’s not only these terrestrial systems, these land systems, where we have incredible rainforest, but also the marine system interacts with that. The salmon that enter the rivers actually deliver nutrients upstream and enrich the trees and other organisms upriver. It’s a really unique system on the Earth.
The area is also extremely rugged. If you can imagine the country of Canada, it’s vast and diverse, and we have a lot of rugged and remote places, but this particular region is really remote. If we were to ask anyone to think of a really rugged place, this would be one of them for sure. The coastal mountain range is very steep, with high mountains up to over 10,000 feet high. There is lots of snow, glaciers, it’s extremely difficult terrain.
The marine system off our coast is known for heavy storms and is considered one of the stormiest seaways in the world, especially Hecate Strait. The ruggedness and remoteness this place means that it is particularly at risk because of the challenges that come with both navigation and pipelines or rail, but also because of the weather and the remoteness of getting out there if something happens. In the winter, trying to get access to a pipeline that’s broken is extremely difficult in this terrain. Getting out on the coast in the winter is also extremely difficult.
What’s at risk? Well, three million to 10 million salmon in the Skeena return every year to this particular watershed, this river that flows past us here. There are also tens of millions more salmon in the Great Bear Rainforest that feed the system, that feed these rich commercial and First Nations sport fisheries. It brings in $400 million alone in economic value from the north and central coast to commercial fisheries, and many hundreds of millions more in tourism and recreation.
Of course, we talk a lot about the tankers because it’s a tanker bill, but it’s also at risk from the transport of oil through pipelines and potentially by rail. This isn’t an abstract idea. Just north of here in Prince William Sound, we saw the Exxon Valdez run aground 30 years ago and the devastation that that brought. Fisheries were shut down for a long time. It took two decades for those communities up there to get compensation. All species were heavily impacted; 2,000 sea otters were killed; 300 harbour seals; 40 per cent of two pods of killer whales were decimated; a quarter million seabirds were killed; beaches were coated and contaminated. There is still oil there; you just have to dig a few inches under the surface, and you will find oil still there. Fifteen thousand kilometres of coastline were impacted from that spill.
Those are the sorts of concerns that we are bringing forward here as communities that depend on the ocean, depend on these rivers for the health of our communities and the health of our lives, our quality of life. This is where we take our children in our spare time.
The Deputy Chair: You are approaching minute five, so if you could conclude.
Mr. Knox: The biggest problem is we just can’t clean it up; 15 per cent isn’t good enough. That 15 per cent is world class, and that leaves 85 per cent or more of the oil in the water. That just isn’t good enough.
We hear a lot about safety, but if things are so safe why do these accidents keep happening? They keep happening, and we talk about all the technical fixes that we can have to prevent spills, but these things just keep happening.
Climate change is real. We’re seeing it here in the Skeena. I won’t go into that, but it is, and it’s really devastating to our salmon and our communities. This region has fought for this tanker ban for 40 years. There was an informal tanker ban in place for a long time, still is, and our communities have a history of standing up for it because this place is incredibly special to us, and we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to be here for a long time.
The Deputy Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Knox.
Steven Simons, The North Matters: Good afternoon. My name is Steven Simons, and I am here representing the citizens’ association The North Matters.
Before I start, I wish to thank the senators for providing citizens the opportunity to speak to Bill C-48. It’s an important consultation, and I’m sure that it’s attracted many voices and points of view.
The North Matters is a grassroots citizens’ movement started in Kitimat, B.C., by a group of motivated and concerned local citizens, and their mission statement is “Building Strength in Northern Communities by Aligning and Creating Opportunities for its Residents.”
The group was originally formed in response to an LNG project proposed to be built in the vicinity of Kitimat, and this original group of citizens was concerned by what seemed like an overwhelming amount of negative information and obstructions —
The Deputy Chair: Mr. Simons could you slow down for the interpreters, please.
Mr. Simons: You bet. The original group of citizens was concerned by what seemed like an overwhelming amount of negative information and obstructionist activity aimed at the proposal by special interests. That activity seemed out of proportion to what felt like overwhelming local support, so they took it upon themselves to research and learn the pros and cons of the proposed development. They worked to understand the real risks and real benefits in context to local, national, and global realities. They discovered that a number of the negative assertions attributed to industry were simply not true. The organization also recognized a trend where many of the same organizations protesting the LNG proposal protest nearly every natural resource proposal using the same negative rhetoric.
The North Matters itself takes a balanced approach to objectively researching and reviewing development opportunities, and a key objective for the organization is to make advocacy and social licence decisions based on fact and objectivity, not fear and emotion. That is a tall task, quite frankly, trying to sort fact from fiction, with so much information out there and in an extremely polarized setting surrounding natural resource topics. In the case of LNG, The North Matters and local citizens were able to make informed decisions once they were able to debunk rhetoric; from all sides, I’ll add.
This local involvement serves as a powerful lesson in objective local decision-making, and Bill C-48 risks eliminating that local-level decision-making. If the experience with researching LNG is any example, it serves as a model for local input, and local research, and local decision-making. Citizens are, in fact, capable of making these decisions, and Bill C-48 represents a risk to that democratic process.
The northwest is currently experiencing ardent anti-development obstructionism aimed at the coastal gasoline pipeline. We believe that, if this bill passes, it elevates the risk of that anti-development action evolving to include the LNG and other resource shipping. Bill C-48 is also an extreme reaction to the politicized, polarizing, and positional sensationalism brought by public relations campaigns of powerful anti-resource activists.
Regular citizens are just now starting to find their voice. We are doing our own research in order to make favourable or unfavourable decisions on any proposals, and we are working to include others through new awareness programs like “Together for LNG,” which brings together labour groups, grassroots citizens, civic politicians, First Nations, and small businesses. This committee is facing what The North Matters has faced in trying to sort incoming information, and you’re going to hear a lot of positional arguments, I’m sure, through your travels. Many of them are based on rhetorical hyperbole or extreme exaggeration of risks. And extreme exaggeration of the risks is something that Greenpeace has recently admitted is a common practice that is intended to be a purely illustrative and subjective opinion of their position, and it is not intended to be taken literally.
Unfortunately, part of problem is people do take some of that information literally, and many of the anti-development arguments try to position anyone interested in economic development as anti-environment, and that’s just not true.
The professional-level anti-development activists have become experts at maintaining a high degree of social anxiety on many of these issues, and what we have learned is that they have made a business out of protests, with paid positions and operating budgets. Their demands have become insatiable and uncompromising, with each campaign asking for more and more.
The Deputy Chair: You’re at five minutes, now. You have to conclude.
Mr. Simons: Oh, sure. If previous anti-development campaigns are any indication of what we can expect going forward, then we can expect these activist organizations to turn their efforts towards LNG shipping next, and that’s a concern for the community.
Legislation like Bill C-48 is too permanent of an approach to what amounts to a reactive social anxiety of modern resource development. It’s extreme government overreach, in our opinion, that risks permanently removing our own right to local decisions.
I’ll leave it at that. Thank you.
The Deputy Chair: Thank you so much, Mr. Simons.
Mr. Kyle Artelle, you have the floor.
Kyle Artelle, Research Scientist, Raincoast Conservation Foundation: Thank you very much to the standing committee for the invitation to speak before you today. My name is Dr. Kyle Artelle. I’m a research scientist at the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and a postdoctoral fellow and instructor at the University of Victoria.
I study resource use by wildlife and by people, with a focus specifically on the coast. I live in Heiltsuk territory, in the village of Bella Bella. I am also here in place of Raincoast’s senior scientist, Dr. Paul Paquet, who regrets he could not attend today.
Today, I am going to talk about two aspects that point to the necessity of Bill C-48. Firstly, the globally significant ecological richness of this region; and secondly, the very real risks that petroleum transport brings to it.
This is an area with an impressive diversity of species and with iconic ecosystems, such as kelp forests, eelgrass meadows, and estuaries that rival the productivity of tropical rainforests. It’s an area where the land and sea are closely connected, where marine nutrients and, unfortunately, pollutants find their way easily into terrestrial systems.
A couple of examples: Spawning salmon and herring feed communities of predators, such as wolves and bears. They feed communities of scavengers and even fertilize coastal plant communities.
This biological richness also supports and has been supported by people who have lived here in high densities since time immemorial. However, the ecosystems here, despite being naturally resilient, are vulnerable to industrial activities. In 2017, my colleague Misty MacDuffee presented three scientific studies to the House of Commons committee on this bill. These studies described, firstly, areas of exceptionally high marine mammal abundance throughout this region; secondly, that all of B.C.’s marine mammals are vulnerable to oil spills, with killer whales, Steller sea lions, and sea otters being particularly vulnerable; and thirdly, that marine birds across this region are similarly vulnerable.
Misty also described the expanded cumulative effects that increased marine traffic would bring, including increased underwater noise and physical disturbance of boats themselves, and increased risk of ship strikes, especially to whales.
In addition to these scientific studies, I have seen firsthand the risk this coast already faces from existing marine transport. In 2016 the Nathan E. Stewart, an articulated tug barge petroleum vessel, ran aground. Thankfully, the barge was empty, but the tugboat spilled over 100,000 litres of fuel into Qvúqvái, a place of central importance to the Heiltsuk Nation that, until this spill, supported, among other things, the bulk of the nation’s clam harvesting economy.
I worked as an observer in the aftermath of this spill, and that experience made it clear how effective containment and cleanup are nearly impossible in this environment once accidents happen. This spill would be considered minor by most metrics, based on the volume that was spilled and that diesel is less persistent than heavier oils. But the consequences have been considerable; the clam harvest is still closed there today, and the effects on inherent rights and title are ongoing.
One year after this spill, history almost repeated, this time with the Nathan E. Stewart’s replacement, the Jake Shearer. Its barge broke free in heavy seas and drifted to within less than a kilometre from Gosling Rocks before its crew members managed to drop its anchor. This time, the barge was fully loaded with fuels. These two incidents make abundantly clear the lack of preparedness for risks of current marine traffic, let alone those of increased tankers. The risks here are not just ecological, but are deeply tied to people.
For just a small sampling of this, a couple of weeks ago, the harvest of herring spawn, which is of considerable cultural and economic importance wrapped up in Heiltsuk territory. Just last weekend, the yearly Sputc Ceremony happened in Bella Coola, Nuxalk territory, welcoming eulachon back to the river. Right now, edible seaweed is growing on intertidal rocks throughout the region, with harvesting beginning in the weeks ahead, and salmon season is just about to begin, and the list goes on. All of these species are deeply tied to people and economies up and down the coast, and all are at potential risk from spills.
There is a rich opportunity now to sustain and restore a truly resilient region that supports people, ecosystems, and economies alike. And although this area has certainly faced pressures over the past couple of centuries, unlike many coastal regions in the world, it still retains most of its species and intactness, and there is a strong potential for restoring what has been recently lost.
We are already seeing some of that with the ongoing recovery of many nearly lost species, such as large whales and sea otters, and with the resurgence of Indigenous governance and stewardship throughout the area, which contribute enormously to the resilience of people and ecosystems alike.
Bill C-48 is not enough by itself to safeguard this area, but it is an important step in the right direction. Thank you.
The Deputy Chair: You are exactly five minutes, bravo.
Now we will hear from Dave Shannon.
Dave Shannon, P. Eng. Retired, Douglas Channel Watch: I am not going to do that well for time. You have my speaking notes, but I may miss some points. There are seven of them; I will try to cover the ones I think are most important, and you can ask questions on the speaking notes at any time.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is Dave Shannon. I represent Douglas Channel Watch, a grassroots citizens’ group in Kitimat. Our group was formed in 2009 due to concerns about the proposed Northern Gateway Energy project. I was one of three from our group who registered as interveners to oppose the project at the NEB/CEAA joint review panel in 2010. Subject to 209 conditions, the Conservative government at the time decided to approve the project in 2012, but following this approval, impassioned and concerned citizens of the community appealed to Kitimat’s city council to conduct a plebiscite of Kitimat residents to measure the will of the community on the project.
In 2014, the plebiscite was held, and a 58 per cent majority of voters chose to oppose Northern Gateway. Details of the plebiscite are given in my attachment, number 1, and CBC news coverage at the time is given in the link in the speaking notes I have provided.
In 2017, Mayor Philip Germuth, on behalf of city council, sent a letter in support of Bill C-48; see attachment 2, please.
Alaska Oil shipments, I’d like to spend a bit of time on that. Some senators on the committee have asked, with the exception of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, why has Alaska been shipping oil to southern states successfully for years?
The Jones Act applies to goods shipped between the U.S. ports and stipulates the ships are to be built, owned, and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The act has existed in various forms since World War II. Its provision requires that tankers are built in the U.S. and have English-speaking crews. This avoids language and cultural problems between pilot and master, and response organizations if, or when, problems arise. Attachment 3 shows what can happen when human error collides with cultural language barriers and affects vital communication at a time in a marine oil spill. Because Jones Act tankers are registered and flagged in the U.S., litigation confusion after a shipping incident, common with ships carrying foreign flags of convenience, is avoided.
The Trans-Alaska ConocoPhillips Endeavor-class tankers constructed since 1990 use dual modal redundancy safety features, which include two independent engines, power trains, and navigation systems. If one propulsion mode fails, the other one takes over. Low-speed manoeuvrability is enhanced with a twin-powered train and two skegs. Endeavor-class tankers have 3 metres between hulls, compared to the International Maritime Organization standard of 2 metres. This provides additional breach protection and ease of inspection. B.C. north coasts will not have the luxury of this level of safety assurance for crude oil tankers.
Compared to Kitimat, the route from Valdez to the open ocean is very short, straight, wide, and uncomplicated, with lane separation for arriving and departing tankers. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline system tankers have easily observed Canada’s voluntary tanker exclusion zone since 1985. Please see the maps I have shown in attachment 4 for detail of that.
Double-hulled tankers are not foolproof. In fact, in the first 10 years of this century, there have been 10 tanker spills, one a year. A picture is shown in attachment 5 of the Eagle Otome suffering a breach of both hulls after a collision with the barge Dixie Vengeance. The spill was 1.7 million litres of crude near Port Arthur, Texas.
I’ll skip corrosion, but you can ask me questions if you like.
Why should the north coast of B.C. be given special consideration? The moratorium zone contains the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest remaining untouched temperate rainforest in the world, and deserves our protection.
Weather on the north coast is notorious for rapidly forming weather bombs that occur without warning. An Environment Canada report notes that Hecate Strait is known as the fourth most dangerous body of water in the world. There are records of monstrous events, such as in 1968 when a drilling rig, Sedco 135f, recorded seas south of Cape St. James near Haida Gwaii building from 3 metres to 18 metres in just eight hours. Reference to these sources are given in my speaking notes.
North coast sea conditions in the west exhibit very large, maximum and significant waves that occur very close to shore; in fact, closer than they do on the East Coast. I have the source for that if you want it. This makes transferring pilots to and from West Coast tankers very risky, especially during hurricane-force winds, which are not uncommon in the region.
Compared to ports in New Brunswick and Newfoundland, Kitimat’s route to the open sea is far more complex, confined, and at least 10 times longer than those of the eastern ports.
The Deputy Chair: Mr. Shannon, you will have to conclude soon.
Mr. Shannon: Thank you. So why not open a special corridor in the proposed zone from Kitimat, Port Simpson, or Prince Rupert? Northern Gateway looked at this. They looked at a dozen potential ports, and they ruled most of them out because of unstable geology for the pipelines.
Pipelines are a very important feature when you think of a port. In fact, two natural gas pipelines in the Skeena River region have recently been damaged by landslides; there have been four since 1974. So Northern Gateway’s decision to avoid this region is a wise one. Comparative maps on section 7 and more than 40 shipping incidents since 1979 are shown in my attachment 8.
Thank you very much for your time. I hope you approve Bill C-48.
The Deputy Chair: Thank you, everyone, for trying very hard to stick within the five minutes. We have your attachments, and thank you also for those. We have maps, and we love maps.
Senator Cormier: Madam Chair, my first question is for Dr. Artelle, and it concerns the idea of a corridor. Some witnesses have suggested that it could be a good compromise. I would like to hear what you think about that idea and where it should be located. That’s my first question.
My second question is for Mr. Knox. I would like to know more about economic development in terms of the salmon industry, in terms of tourism, and markets. I want to understand better what are the economic opportunities for your region.
Mr. Artelle: In terms of a corridor, the specifics of where one should be if there were one, is beyond my expertise. I think it is worth noting that oil wouldn’t respect a corridor, if anything were to happen in any corridor. Raincoast did an analysis a few years ago where they looked at the footprint of a spill of the magnitude of the Exxon Valdez, how far that would spread. It would cover most of coastal B.C., in fact, if it happened.
I think it is important to realize that you can take mitigations and reduce risk to a certain point; you’re never going to reduce it to zero. If an incident were to happen in a corridor, that could very quickly reach the places that I’ve talked about today and impact the kinds of systems that I have described.
Mr. Knox: As I mentioned, Skeena salmon specifically generate about $100 million a year, and that’s a combination of commercial, sport fishing, and tourism. I think some of your presenters this morning mentioned that there are a lot more benefits that came to First Nations communities which you can’t quantify by money.
Tthere are a lot of opportunities. Right now, although we are seeing some downturns in the commercial fishing industry, we are seeing more and more people interested in sport fishing. More and more people are interested in the tourism aspects of the region, coming and seeing salmon and seeing these amazing First Nations cultures which were developed because the salmon were here. It was such a rich food source that these incredible cultures were developed on our West Coast based on having that food source. A lot of people are interested in seeing that culture, coming here, seeing Indigenous communities fishing for salmon and managing salmon. We are seeing more and more of that all the time.
Senator Cormier: Thank you.
The Deputy Chair: Do you have an idea of the percentage of commercial fishing around the Skeena River done by the Aboriginal people versus the non-Aboriginal people?
Mr. Knox: The percentage of commercial fishermen that are Indigenous is really high. I don’t have the exact figure, but my guess is that it’s probably well over 80 per cent.
The Deputy Chair: Thank you. Senator Tkachuk?
Senator Tkachuk: Welcome. I notice, Mr. Knox, your organization is called the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust. Could you tell me, Mr. Knox, what kind of organization is it? Do you have memberships? How are you funded? Who supports you? What are your jobs there?
Mr. Knox: I am the executive director. I have a board of trustees, and they give me direction. They are responsible. They are legally bound by our trust agreement. We are a registered charity in Canada, registered to do salmon conservation work in this region of British Columbia.
Senator Tkachuk: So how do you get cash?
Mr. Knox: Mostly from foundations, a mixture of Canadian and U.S. foundations; also individuals. A lot of individuals in the region support us, local businesses, and it really comes in all sorts of forms.
Senator Tkachuk: How much money do you get Americans?
Mr. Knox: We get probably about 70 per cent from U.S. foundations.
Senator Tkachuk: How many people work there?
Mr. Knox: We have a mixture of eight full- and part-time people.
Senator Tkachuk: How many full-time and how many part-time?
Mr. Knox: We have five full-time, three part-time.
Senator Tkachuk: What about you, Mr. Artelle? How do you get funded?
Mr. Artelle: Raincoast is a science-based conservation organization. It’s a bit of a unique model, where the vast majority of us get our funding academically, myself included. My funding to date has been almost entirely through Canada, through Vanier Fellowship and NSERC scholarships, et cetera. That stands for the majority of scientists especially among the organization. There’s a small administrative staff. I don’t know the details of the funding for the rest of the organizations. I do biology, but it is a mix of foundations and partnerships with Environment Canada, Parks Canada, and some foundations. I think there is some American in there, but my understanding is that it is primarily Canadian.
Senator Tkachuk: Is this your job? Do you work there? Or do you work at the university and lent out? Does anybody work at this organization?
Mr. Artelle: There is a small sort of administrative staff. I think there are three full-time folks on the administrative side. The vast majority of us work through universities. I’m a postdoctoral fellow, and that’s where my income comes from. I’m an instructor at the University of Victoria, and that research ties into the work that Raincoast does.
So we do peer-reviewed research, scientific research, that informs our positions on different subjects.
Senator Tkachuk: How much money do the Americans give you a year?
Mr. Artelle: Me?
Senator Tkachuk: Well, your organization.
Mr. Artelle: Llike I said, I don’t know the details. I know it’s a minority. I could find that and report back, if that would be helpful.
Senator Tkachuk: That would be helpful.
Mr. Artelle: Zero dollars to me though.
Senator Tkachuk: I’ll get back to the others after.
Senator Gagné: Mr. Simons, what is The North Matters?
Mr. Simons: It’s a registered society. It was started by volunteers in Kitimat, registered just about a year ago actually; I think either this month or last month. It’s run by volunteers. Their fundraising is done locally, contributions by businesses or by individuals.Memberships cost $25 to join.
Senator Gagné: No employees?
Mr. Simons: No employees, no. There’s no money to have employees.
Senator Gagné: How does your organization or your association go about sorting fact from fiction, doing all the work you are doing right now?
Mr. Simons: A lot of research and personal time.
Senator Gagné: Who are your sources?
Mr. Simons: All kinds of sources. We spend time using the Internet, talking with companies.
One of the things that the organization undertook was to sit down with the proponents specifically, for the LNG project for instance, and ask very specific questions about the benefits to the community, what might be the risks to the community, bring some concerns forward, have them answer, and set up quarterly reporting where we sit down with the company and say: Okay, you’ve made these commitments, we have given you social licence, show us the progress. We want to see some measurable progress and we want to see the benefits come to fruition in the community.
Senator Gagné: Bill C-48 does not ban projects and pipelines like the LNG. Your presentation was mostly about LNG experiences. I was just wondering why?
Mr. Simons: Right. A good deal of our research has also highlighted that there are very powerful activist organizations operating in British Columbia. Again, following some of Vivian Krause’s research, we know the paper trail and the funding that has been attributed to anti-development campaigns. Those campaigns continue to grow and evolve, and the risk with C-48 is that it’s the thin end of the wedge. What’s next? Is targeting of LNG the next campaign?
Quite frankly, from personal experience, I have worked up and down the coast myself in resource operations, and in the 1990’s as a logger. We saw the coastal rainforest campaign, again, funded primarily by Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and Forest Ethics, which is now Stand.earth, being very active in these campaigns as well, foreign-funded as well. They put a lot of our logging communities out of work. What started out as small areas being put off-limits, grew to being like the Great Bear Rainforest, which ranges from the Alaska panhandle to Vancouver Island.
I guess the question is, when is enough enough? What we’re saying is, yes, we understand people’s concerns when it comes to these projects, and they are fair concerns. The place for those concerns is in a regulatory process and in formal discussions, where you can have objective answers put forward.
Senator Gagné: So are you for or against Bill C-48?
Mr. Simons: Oh, against it. Absolutely. It’s a sledgehammer approach to a perceived risk.
Senator MacDonald: I thank all of you for being here. I always like talking to engineers, so I think I’ll speak to you, Mr. Shannon.
Most of your report here deals with the movement of heavy oil. What’s your position on the export of LNG from Kitimat? Do you have a problem with that?
Mr. Shannon: No, I don’t have a problem with the export of LNG from Kitimat. What bothers me about LNG is the fact that it’s fracked. I’m also conscious of the world’s need to get our carbon footprint down and the amount of methane from a fracked well concerns me. A tonne of methane is worth anywhere from 50 to 80 tonnes of carbon dioxide when you put it in the atmosphere. That’s the only drawback I find with LNG.
Senator MacDonald: So you have no problem with exporting LNG through Kitimat?
Mr. Shannon: No, not per se.
Senator MacDonald: In principle. Going through your arguments here, double-hulled tankers are not foolproof. Well, of course they are not. Nothing is foolproof; we know that. I have great faith in good engineering though, I must say that.
You mentioned that, compared to oil ports in New Brunswick and Newfoundland, Kitimat’s route to the open sea is far more complex. You never mentioned the fact that there are refineries in Montreal and Quebec. That’s a pretty long route, through ice-laden waters. You don’t have that here.
Mr. Shannon: I don’t have the map and I haven’t looked at that, so I can’t say. I was looking at the East Coast ports that have been mentioned so far.
Senator MacDonald: Most of the petroleum that goes through our water actually goes to inland refineries, through Nova Scotia waters up the St. Lawrence estuary.
I was never a big fan of putting heavy petroleum through Kitimat when there are better options available, and that’s my question for you. We can put men on the moon. We can build a pipeline down the stem of Alaska, 50 years ago, from the Beaufort Sea, right down through Alaska. Do you really think we don’t have the engineering that’s capable of putting a corridor through to the West Coast, so that the West Coast can share in some of the minor risk that we share on the East Coast?
We manage 283 million metric tonnes of heavy petroleum every year. You have 6 million, and it’s all in the lower mainland. We had a captain here who is a part of the Aboriginal community here, and he has great faith in the ability to manage oil on this coast. I’m just curious to hear your response to that.
Mr. Shannon: Well, I have to get back to Enbridge’s calculation of oil spill risk on the marine portion. They’ve estimated a return period for an oil spill on either the north or south routes from Kitimat to the open ocean of 350 years. On the face of it, it sounds like pretty good odds, but when you look at the numbers statistically in another manner, that 350-year return period for a 5 million liter spill means that you could see one in the first 40 years. So you have an 11 per cent chance; that’s the number, an 11 per cent chance of a spill that size in 40 years.
That’s using the numbers they provide, from Det Norske Veritas’ evaluation of the course. This is a Norwegian firm that looked at typically tankers and other likelihood of spills, lost power, et cetera.
I find an 11 per cent chance of 5 million liters in the north coast waters for marine shipping to be unacceptable, personally.
The Deputy Chair: Senator, can we go to the other question, and you will be on the second round. We’ll have time, probably, for a second round. Thank you. Senator Simons?
Senator Simons: Thank you. It’s nice to have another Simons in the room, but my question is not for you. My question is actually for Mr. Shannon.
I’m really interested in what you’ve told us about the Jones Act, and I wonder if you could tell us how the American legislation compares to what the Canadian framework is.
My second question, if we have time, is: Some people have suggested to us that Stewart, a port in Nisga’a territory, might be a better option for a potential corridor, and I wondered if you knew anything about the geotechnical aspects of that part of B.C.
But I want to start with the Jones Act.
Mr. Shannon: The Jones Act tankers, because they are built in the U.S., they are notoriously expensive to build. In fact, John McCain, when he was alive, was trying to kill the act. It’s an old act, but John McCain was opposed to the fact that these ships cost so much, and they were more than was needed, he thought.
They are safe because of their redundant safety features, and I think it would be a wise way to ship oil, if you wanted to, from risky ports.
Senator Simons: How do Canadian laws compare?
Mr. Shannon: I’m not familiar with that.
Senator Simons: The other question is about Stewart.
Mr. Shannon: Again, I’m relying on Northern Gateway’s evaluation of the Mylor Peninsula, which is near that. They were worried about putting horizontal oil pipelines directional drilled under all the water courses they had to cross. They were frightened that it wouldn’t be feasible economically to be sure of safety on that section. So all of the ports except Kitimat were ruled out for reasons of geotech on pipelines.
Senator Simons: Grassy Narrows, as well?
Mr. Shannon: Yes.
Senator Simons: Are we in a world in which someone could actually drive their tanker into the Oakland Bay Bridge, which is shown in your pictures here? It’s a pretty big bridge. How does something like that happen?
Mr. Shannon: There was an National Transport Safety Board investigation of that incident. It was a container ship, it wasn’t a tanker. Do you have the name?
Senator Simons: Yes, the Cosco Busan.
Mr. Shannon: Cosco Busan, yes.
Senator Simons: Because that was a container ship, it wasn’t covered by the Jones Act?
Mr. Shannon: That’s right. It didn’t fall under the Jones Act because it was a Chinese crew. A pilot was handling the ship. He misunderstood, and medication was involved; there were a lot of issues with that incident.
Senator Patterson: Madam Chair, I’m going to try to get in three quick questions.
Mr. Simons, you’ve basically said that Bill C-48, if I understood you right, is undemocratic because it takes away the right of citizens to participate in environmental reviews that would otherwise take place with regard to these projects prohibited under the bill.
There’s a new, very comprehensive environmental legislative package before the Senate now, Bill C-69, and it’s been hailed by environmentalists as better than anything before, more rigorous, it involves full consultation, there’s a chapter on Indigenous people, and clause 22 sets out 20-plus interests that need to be engaged.
Are you thinking that we have a perfectly good environmental review process in Canada that would take care of local input and impacts rather than the sledgehammer blow of an act?
Mr. Simons: I’m trying to say that a there are many concerns. We hear them here, obviously, and from many communities. The place to address those concerns is through an environmental assessment process, where you can hear those concerns and put it upon the proponent to answer. When you get to the end of that process, you can make a determination on whether it happens or it doesn’t happen.
Bill C-48 is a leftover, is what remains of the Northern Gateway campaign. It was a political promise in the federal Liberal platform. MLA Ellis Ross talked about separating politics from good governance, and Bill C-48 in our view is a political reaction as opposed to good governance through a policy that would put these very questions in front of a review process in which you can make an objective determination of yes or no.
You folks have probably been legislators for a long time, and I’ve worked in that area as well. I’m actually a former bureaucrat. I spent 12 years in the B.C. government, in the area of resource regulation and legislation. Once something is enacted, it’s very hard to undo. There’s a permanence to Bill C-48, and that’s why I mention it as a sledgehammer approach to answering risk questions.
The Deputy Chair: Please keep your answers a little shorter, because the senator has two other questions.
Senator Patterson: I’ll try to be very brief, Madame Chair.
Dr. Artelle, I understand you’re a scientist and you’re not involved with the administration of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. You think there was some funding from U.S. donors. I just want to tell you that Vivian Krause has revealed that the Raincoast Conservation Foundation was part of the Tar Sands campaign aimed at land-locking Canadian oil. The foundation received funding from 2010 to 2014 from Tides Canada and the Tides Foundation, and $1.1 million U.S. from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation from 2003 to 2018. That information would be important for the committee to have, if you would.
Finally, Mr. Shannon, one thing struck me, and there was no footnote.
The Deputy Chair: Maybe we should give Mr. Artelle a chance to answer.
Mr. Artelle: I think it would be incumbent to have the full financial details, not Vivian Krause’s assessment of them. I don’t deal with the finances, but I think that that characterization should be backed up with the evidence of the actual financials. If you folks want to evaluate that, I’d be happy to follow up with that. Will do, you bet.
Senator Patterson: Very quickly, Mr. Shannon, you talked about the difficulty of transferring pilots in high winds in the northwest coast.
Today, we got another presentation from a witness that 99. 97 per cent of pilotage in the Pacific coast is incident-free. You didn’t have a footnote for your reference. Are you saying that pilots can’t make it on the boats at times? What’s your authority for that statement, please?
Mr. Shannon: It’s only anecdotal. I knew a helicopter pilot who used to deliver pilots to ships, and he said in rough weather it was very difficult to do that, quite risky for them to descend the line and get on board in heavy seas, strong winds. They get on board in Triple Island, near the West Coast, and they also get on board at Pine Island, near Vancouver Island. There are two places, as far as I’m aware, of where pilots join ships, and get off as well.
I’d like to make another comment on Vivian Krause’s concept of landlocked oil from Alberta. There are two oil refinery proposals for Kitimat which would take oil from Alberta and convert it into finished product, which would be shipped through Kitimat. Bill C-48 does not negate those two opportunities. I just wanted to make that clear. I ruled it out as far as a port for persistent oils; that’s what Bill C-48 is built on, not refined products. There are products like gasoline, diesel, light oils that are still shippable, let’s put it that way, from Kitimat.
Senator Cormier: My question is around funding, again. I just want you to tell us, if you are receiving money from the United States, does it link you to any kind of ideology or activities or specific mandates?
There is that perception. We have to be clear on this, so I would like to have your straight answers on that.
Mr. Knox: I can start, if you like. No, that’s not legal under U.S. charitable laws. So they can’t tell us what to do. We apply for funding to do work on stuff and we get money to do that. They don’t oversee any of that. Then we report at the end.
Although most of these foundations we get money from are based in the U.S., they’re international companies. They’re companies that Canadians invest in. Most of you have computers. You have Intel chips in them. These companies make lots of stuff and sell it around the world. They give back to charities all over the world, including Canada. Some of them happen to care about salmon conservation.
As I mentioned earlier, this is one of the last best places in the world. We have the largest salmon in the world; we have some of the healthiest salmon populations. That’s why these companies and foundations invest here. It’s not because of some conspiracy theory that an oil lobbyist like Vivian Krause has created.
Senator Cormier: Some foundations have specific criteria for giving money, and that could mean specific activities, specific visions.
Mr. Artelle: Just to echo, it is a little bit of a red herring, this line of argument, and a little bit of an ironic one, given that the proponents for these generally have international funding. That’s just a general comment.
But to answer the direct question —
The Deputy Chair: Yes, Mr. Artelle, please answer it.
To others in the room, this is a hearing, so let us hear our witnesses. Thank you.
Mr. Artelle: Thank you. In terms of my own process, I’m subject to peer review in the research that I do and in that I have to be fully transparent. That is one way of definitively weighing the evidence, where your biases are evaluated. If you do research, it’s subjected to anonymous peer review, and if you are trying to sell something, trying to spin something that the evidence doesn’t support, that’s exactly what the peer review system is set up to address. It is not perfect, but it’s one of the best systems for assessing evidence and assessing for bias.
In my own case, I don’t get American funding, period. If I did, I would not be able to give a message that this imaginary American funder would want me to give, because it would not pass through peer review. There is a built-in system to prevent that kind of bias in the sciences.
Senator Cormier: Thank you, sir.
Mr. Knox: I would just add, I don’t understand why this line of questioning is specific to conservation organizations. What about the oil and gas lobby? Where do they get their money? How much money do they spend in Ottawa every year?
The Deputy Chair: Senator Tkachuk has another question.
Senator Tkachuk: I have another question on that. We’re asking the questions here. You are coming here and you’re making your case. We’re asking you where you got your money from, and we ask that of everybody.
What I’m interested in is, are you interested in the East Coast? Do you do work on any other coast besides British Columbia? We haven’t received any information about any of that. Or do you just focus here on the West Coast? It seems, on the West Coast, all these groups are located here. We don’t hear about them on the East Coast that much. We don’t hear about them in the United States that much. We hear about them here.
Mr. Knox: I work specifically in British Columbia, but mostly in northwestern British Columbia. The reason I work here is that I care about this place, and I care about what my kids and family have in the future. It’s special to a lot of people, as you’ve heard over the last two days.
Senator Tkachuk: We all care about that.
The Deputy Chair: Is there another question on that delicate topic? No? We’re fine?
Gentlemen, thank you very much. I hank you for appearing before the committee this afternoon.
Senator David Tkachuk (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Thank you, Senator Miville-Dechêne for sitting in.
For our next panel this afternoon, we are pleased to welcome, from HARBO Technologies Ltd., Mr. Colin Doylend, senior advisor for Canada; from the International Ship-Owners Alliance of Canada, Mr. Oscar de Gouveia Pinto, director; and as an individual, Mr. Stan Bowles, director, Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia. Thank you for attending. We’ll start with Mr. Bowles.
Stan Bowles, Director, Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia, as an individual: Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
As a Director of the Chamber of Shipping, I very much appreciate the opportunity to discuss the important technical details of tanker operations in view of the proposed moratorium on petroleum-based exports and related concerns to tanker traffic as outlined in Bill C-48.
My career has spanned more than 50 years, and I possess Canadian and British Class 1 Unlimited Master Mariners Certificate of Competence and Level 1 and 2 endorsements for oil, chemical, and gas. I have had command at sea and served with the federal government in Ottawa and Vancouver, where I was manager of Pollution Prevention/Dangerous Goods, Western Region, ship safety, and a marine investigator with the Transportation Safety Board.
I was OPI Western for the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, the CCME, and vice-chair of the Pacific Regional Advisory Council on Pollution Prevention and Preparedness. Under the International Institute of Marine Surveying, I have authored five bulk liquid modules under the HND Program. I am a former Chemical Distribution Institute, an SIRE inspector and a class surveyor with ClassNK, the Japanese Clarification Society. This allowed me to inspect and certify tankers to meet rigorous vetting, port, and flag state requirements. As a loading master for TransMountain/Kinder Morgan, I was on the front line, ensuring Aframax tankers met the operational controls during cargo transfers to prevent pollution and boast a 100 per cent safe operation with a zero pollution record.
Tanker safety and control of shipboard operations is paramount. Chemical and product tankers are at the top of the food chain. They require all personnel to operate at a heightened level of awareness, and tankers have significant pollution control measures over and above bulk carriers.
A day in the life of the executive team on tankers must conform to rigid controls set out in the company Safety Management Systems, or the SMS. All operations are related to known or perceived risks. Industry best practices are under constant review, promoting continuous improvement and self-assessment, the core elements within the Tanker Management Self-Assessment Scheme applied by the Oil/Chemical Majors through the Oil Companies International Marine Forum, or OCIMF, and other organisations such as INTERTANKO. Effectively, all tankers applying the company SMS rigidly, and subjected to a port state, flag state or a vetting, will achieve a clean report.
There have been no pollution incidents involving tankers on the West Coast of Canada. The Exxon Valdez incident 30 years ago evokes a great deal of emotion. For the industry, it was a game changer. She was a single-hulled tanker operating without the available technology, navigational aids, tug escorts, and response capability that is seen today in areas where these ships operate.
Since 2003, all tankers, including chemical and product carriers, have been mandated to be double-hulled as a result of agreements between administrations, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, otherwise known as MARPOL, or OPA’90, the US Oil Pollution Act.
Double-hulling effectively protects the cargo during low-impact incidents. During a major incident, the tank size and subdivisions limit a calculated outflow of cargo, thereby minimizing loss, depending on the vessel’s draft and disposition.
Chemical carriers must also conform to construction requirements dictating their survival capability in relation to the types of cargoes they are certified to carry that are listed in the Certificate of Fitness. International conventions and protocols lay down these parameters. Cargo containment is also addressed with respect to the deleterious nature of the particular cargo.
The master is required to complete cargo record books, oil record books, and conduct crude oil washing consistent with the procedures and arrangements manuals. These indicate precisely where and what cargo has been loade,; its in-transit care and control, where it was discharged and how it was cleaned prior to loading the next cargo. Atmospheric control is also critical under MARPOL Annex VI.
The tanker exclusion zone has been in place since the late 1970s to mitigate risks in the wake of the Alaska pipeline development. The so-called tap tankers have transited B.C. waters without incident and continue to do so, carrying Alaskan crude to many ports south of the 49th parallel.
Should this legislation pass, a comprehensive risk assessment of shipping in northern B.C. should be conducted within five years. The Minister of Transport should be tasked to review the feasibility of establishing particularly sensitive sea areas, or PSSAs, designated through the IMO.
A PSSA designation combines IMO protective measures and Canada’s marine safety standards, such as ship routing, reporting requirements, and areas to be avoided. PSSAs are supported by science and adaptable depending on the environment and would leverage initiatives such as marine protected area network planning, proactive vessel management, and the Oceans Protection Plan. The voyage of all vessels is thoroughly planned and executed.
For many years, I have been associated with chemical and product tankers operating in the Pacific Trade Lane. There have been no incidents. The ships are predominately stainless steel and built in Japan to the highest classification rules.
The days of substandard tanker operations have long gone. Both Transport Canada and the U.S. Coast Guard ensure, through rigorous inspection regimes, that weak links are quickly addressed.
In closing, the protection of the environment is paramount. Every tanker master is acutely aware, and throughout the voyage ensures that all operations are monitored and logged so that, when challenged, he can prove the ship is being operated within the myriad of regulations and that, morally, he is a good steward of his assigned role. Thank you.
The Chair: Mr. Doylend.
Colin Doylend, Senior Advisor (Canada), HARBO Technologies Ltd.: Thank you very much for having me today. My name is Colin Doylend, and I’m here on behalf of HARBO Technologies, a company that has developed first-response technology to contain oil spills in minutes, saving time, money, and the environment.
First, I want to acknowledge that we are here today on the unceded land of the Tsimshian Nation. Thank you to them. It is an honour to be here in front of you today and to provide additional information concerning the deliberation of Bill C-48. I am here today to share with you how oil tankers and all other shipping or marine traffic can reduce the damage from oil spills, fuel leaks, and other similar accidents in these waters; in fact, all Canadian waters.
HARBO has developed the world’s lightest, smallest, and most effective oil spill first response system that stops the spread of oil immediately. While the federal government is doing its part by deploying large booms operated by specialized teams in a small number of strategic locations around the coast, HARBO’s system is designed to be deployed closer to every spill, for example on all commercial vessels, docks, marinas, ferries, tugs, fish boats, naval vessels, pleasure craft and,of course, on oil tankers. All it takes is two people with just two hours of training and HARBO’s system can be in the water working to contain a spill.
Using a health care analogy, the federal government is currently buying ambulances and hiring paramedics; HARBO is offering AEDs which can be used by anyone. Compared to traditional booms, HARBO’s system is one fifteenth the weight and deployable in a fraction of the time using a craft as small as a lifeboat or in some cases no craft at all.
I want to show you the actual boom. This is it.
Senator Simons: We don’t usually get show and tell.
Mr. Doylend: This is 50 pounds. It carries 80 feet of boom, and being able to do that is unheard of in the oil spill response industry. So just to give you a measure of the ability to deploy.
The power of this product, as you can see, is in its ease of use and lightweight, compact nature which allows for rapid deployment from vessels of opportunity. It can be stored near, and on, high-risk waterways to enable immediate response and containment. Really, it presents an opportunity for rapid response along the 28,000 kilometres of B.C.’s sacred coast. HARBO’s system has been tested at OHMSETT, the world’s premier oil spill response research facility, and is being used in several ports globally, including Alat, Santos and Rotterdam.
Over the past four years, the coast has experienced a number of oil spill events that could have been contained much faster using HARBO’s system. Just to mention a few, the M/V Marathassa in English Bay in 2015. In 2016, we’re all familiar with the Nathan E. Stewart, the tug that ran aground. It took a long time to bring the required resources to this remote area. HARBO’s booms could have been easily and much more quickly transported. Critical areas of marine harvesting could have been immediately protected, with traditional ocean knowledge being used for deployment of preventative booming rather than hours later. Just in February 2018, HMCS Calgary, a federal asset, spilled 10,000 litres of fuel between Nanoose and Boundary Pass. I can’t imagine a more qualified group of marine professionals than our Navy to be able to easily deploy HARBO’s technology. On August 14, 2018, another tug in the Fraser River capsized and spilled some fuel. Like most, this tug had no containment system on board and the spread of oil was contained much quicker than usual because the company’s headquarters was close by with a cache of spill supplies at the ready.
Currently, oil spills in the Port of Vancouver must be responded to within six hours, and the targets in other parts of Canada’s Pacific waters are 12,18, or even 72 hours. These times were established in 1995 under the Canada Shipping Act and reflected the technology available in the early 1990s. It’s time to lower these times.
Don’t just take our word for it. In February of this year, the report of the National Energy Board made it a condition that oil spills must be responded to within two hours in Vancouver’s harbour and within six hours for the remainder of the Salish Sea. Even these can be improved upon. And, of course, they must apply on the entire coast.
As you undoubtedly know very well, cutting response times can mean the difference between a minor ecological disaster costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and a major disaster costing hundreds of millions. I even suggest that, within two hours, spilled oil can reach the shoreline. Response time means the difference between minor public criticism of the responsible party and significant loss of faith by consumers, residents, and taxpayers, to say nothing of the resulting lawsuits and payouts.
In Canada, while marine oil spill response is federally led, all respond is local. We keep relearning that lesson. There is an opportunity to get this right. The marine risk is there. All that is needed is leadership on marine response that is community- and Indigenous-focused. Like the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries did, noting that “every minute matters” in the SAR report, we just need to have a light shone on the good work that is done on all our coasts every day by ordinary Canadians who are prepared to do extraordinary things. We just need to give them the tools and the equipment. Canada needs to be ocean strong, and it can be. HARBO is proud to be a new addition to Canada’s ocean toolbox on marine response. Thank you, and I’d be pleased to answer any of your questions.
The Chair: Mr. de Gouveia Pinto.
Oscar de Gouveia Pinto, Director, International Ship-Owners Alliance of Canada Inc.: Thank you. Good afternoon, Mr. Chair, and members of the committee. I appreciate the opportunity to offer my technical overview of safe tanker and ship operations.
I have more than 22 years’ deep sea sailing experience, most of this as a captain on large oil tankers, and around 27 years in shore-based managerial and leadership positions. I have experience in all aspects of tanker standards, day-to-day safe operations, and management. I am currently the director of a company managing a fleet of tankers trading globally. I am here today as director and chair of the International Ship Owners Alliance of Canada, or ISAC, representing a group of international ship owners, operating various types of vessels, in British Columbia. I am also the current chair for the North American panel of INTERTANKO, an international and well-respected association of international tanker owners and operators, with a total of around 342 members, representing 75 per cent of the global tanker fleet.
Oil tankers have been moving cargoes safely in Canada and around the world, be it in the bio-diverse waters of the Bay of Fundy, the coast of Newfoundland, and the Great Lakes. All of these waters share meteorological and other challenges comparable to the northern B.C. coast.
How does our industry provide confidence to Canadians and Indigenous communities that tankers are operated safely?
Tankers have an excellent safety record in relation to the volume of oil transported across the globe. This is achieved by the multiple layers of oversight. Safe tanker operations start with the International Maritime Organization, or IMO, setting robust construction and pollution prevention standards through international conventions. Since the grounding of Exxon Valdez, the IMO has mandated all tankers to have double-hull structures, providing an extra protective barrier between the oil cargo tanks and the sea and therefore increased protection against accidental pollution.
In addition to IMO standards, there are industry standards over and above the national regulations. Some of the more important and relevant to the industry are the International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals, or ISGOTT; mooring and mooring equipment guidelines; Tanker Management and Self-Assessment, TMSA; an audited maximum rest period record to prevent crew fatigue; and semi-annual inspections and audits undertaken by company superintendents.
To ensure compliance with the International Safety Management Code, ISM, and tanker safe operations, all the major oil companies, referred to as Oil Companies International Marine Forum, OCIMF, established a Ship Inspection Report Program system of reports called the SIRE. These inspections are carried out by qualified inspectors who inspect the entire spectrum of tanker systems, including crew experience, qualifications, and competency. A typical inspection undertaken only during discharge operations runs for 10 hours, witnessing the actual tanker operations and emergency response preparedness.
This program establishes a uniform ship inspection report checked against a comprehensive vessel inspection questionnaire, VIQ, a copy of which I will submit to the committee for reference. These inspection reports are logged in one central database, and must be done once every six months. All deficiencies observed as a result of such an inspection have to be addressed within 14 days. Oil companies access the database to screen tankers against such inspection, prior to permitting any tanker to carry their cargoes. Additionally, there are classification societies’ annual safety and construction inspections and port state control inspections.
Canada has recently mandated every tanker calling Canadian ports shall be inspected by Transport Canada at least once every year, and every time on its first visit to a Canadian port. The tanker master must report any equipment deficiency prior entry into port.
Tankers are equipped with critical equipment redundancies such as independently powered double steering motors, double radars, double electronic navigation systems, or ECDIs, an emergency generator which is required to automatically kick in within a maximum of 45 seconds, and an emergency battery bank providing instant power to critical navigation equipment in the event of a major power failure, to ensure that the ship can maintain navigation and steering control. These are some of the redundancies just to name a few.
A report of 2015 by the Fraser Institute called “Energy Transportation and Tanker Safety in Canada” states in its opening summary: “A review of tanker safety in Canada and abroad shows that tankers are a highly reliable and increasingly safe way of transporting oil. There has never been a significant spill of crude oil in Canadian waters despite tens of thousands of transits on the East and West coasts.”
With such oversight and redundancies provided, all Canadians can rest assured that today’s tankers are technically safe and sound, competently manned and operated, continuing to influence safer operation in protecting the environment and support the safe transportation of our oil resources for the economic benefit of all Canadians.
It must also be recognized that there is no moratorium specifically to restrict the movement of oil tankers in any known maritime jurisdiction in the world.
As a matter of factual record, there is no known record of any pollution from a self-propelled tanker incident along the entire B.C. coast. Should this legislation be passed, it should task the Minister of Transport to explore establishing a particularly sensitive sea area, PSSA, through the International Maritime Organization, and also include a clause mandating a comprehensive risk assessment on the north coast of B.C. within five years.
I thank you for the opportunity to speak here today, and I welcome any questions you may have.
The Chair: Thank you all very much.
Senator Simons: Mr. Chair, I’m going to direct my question to Mr. Pinto and Mr. Bowles.
We’ve heard lots of conflicting testimony so far about the safety of ocean tankers. We had a witness in Ottawa who told us that the waves here are unusually strong and that they could unscrew the bolts that hold the tankers together. We had a witness earlier today who provided us with documentation that said that petrochemicals and oil, are particularly corrosive and that they could corrode the tankers from the inside. We had another witness who suggested that maybe we could put the oil inside pods instead of having it sort of rolling around loose in the tanker.
Perhaps you could address some of those safety concerns or ideas that we’ve heard.
The other question I had, a previous witness was just speaking about the Jones Act, which, I now understand, is unique to the United States in that it governs transport from one part of the U.S. to another. We are dealing with tanker traffic here on the West Coast that is not all Canadian-flagged. There could be tankers coming from Asia. How would we have assurance that the Canadian government would be able to regulate the safety of foreign-flagged tankers that were coming in and out of these ports?
Mr. Bowles: All very good questions; where do I start?
Senator Simons: Can a tanker come apart?
Mr. Bowles: Not since the Glükauf, which was the first ship to carry oil. Since then, a long, long time ago, basically after the World War II riveted ships — I guess that’s what the witness was alluding to — have all but disappeared.
In fact, I don’t know, Oscar, if riveted ships are even built now. So no, it’s not going to come undone at the seams.
Secondly, for product and chemical tankers, the reason those ships are built to such high standards — and the majority of them are stainless steel — is that it is recognized that a lot of these products are corrosive or caustic, like sulphuric acid, . These products need proper containment. So either you have a stainless steel ship or you have a coated ship, and those coatings are impervious to those products.
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: Very good questions, there. Expanding on what Stan has already said, all ships that carry crude oils have coatings. The ballast tanks are coated. They go through an inspection program, a condition assessment program, surveys every five years, which goes to the extent of measuring the thicknesses, the corrosion levels, everything. Those are documented, and if they fall below a minimum specification of the standards, the plates have to be replaced. So there are mitigation mechanisms in place to combat corrosion.
Tankers coming undone; I’ve never heard of that one. That’s the first time. But, well, what can I say?
In comparing Jones Act ships with international tankers, as I mentioned, all tankers go through a very stringent vetting process by the oil majors — oil companies. This book here , which I will give the committee for reference, gives details on the extent of inspection that the tanker undergoes during a cargo transfer operation, right from communication skills to crew competency. Everything is checked during the transfer operation, and that is lodged in a central database which is assessed by all oil majors. So before a tanker carries any cargo, another oil company would screen that database and ask if that deficiency was rectified, ask for further explanation, so that is covered from there.
Senator Simons: So the inspection isn’t just of the physical boat. It’s of the crew competency, crew training.
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: Absolutely.
Senator Simons: Language barriers.
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: No language barriers, the way the records are maintained, passage planning. They go to the extent of witnessing the passage. They download VDR, video recordings, like the black box of an aircraft, which records the happenings on the bridge of the ship. All that is downloaded and sent for review, and those review results are sent to the company to see how the bridge team functions on board a tanker. The enhancements for safety have gone well beyond the measures of the Exxon Valdez.
Senator Smith: Mr. Chair, my question is for Mr. Pinto and Mr. Bowles.
At the end of your presentation you said that should this legislation be passed, the Minister of Transport should explore establishing a particularly sensitive sea area through the International Maritime Organization and mandate a comprehensive risk assessment on the north coast of B.C. within five years.
What is the definition of a particularly sensitive sea area, is that a corridor?
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: A PSSA is established through the IMO. The IMO has a criteria guideline to establish a PSSA. For example, I can tell you that the sensitive area of Great Barrier Reef in Australia has a PSSA. The PSSA monitors the criteria required for those sensitive areas, and it also establishes the routes that a tanker should go through, as well as what additional equipment is required on a tanker to transit through those areas.
Senator Smith: So it covers the whole area, not just part of the area.
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: No.
Senator Smith: One of the options we talked about initially, is having a corridor concept, and I thought there could be some relationship to that concept. However, you’re saying the whole area, and then do a review after five years. Is that correct?
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: Yes. The thing is, if you go along that route, I would recommend that you establish a PSSA through the IMO which has very defined guidelines on the criteria required. Also that could recommend additional routes or corridors, as you mentioned, which would be traffic separation lanes.
So those corridors, or traffic separation lanes, are not to prevent oil spills, but establish a disciplined flow of traffic to prevent collisions. And that could be monitored and enhanced by shore traffic radars, just like air traffic control. So there are those resources in place.
Senator Cormier: Mr. Doylend, I read the press release, and you launched your spill-blocking system exactly one year ago: April 17, 2018. Congratulations on that.
How has it performed since you launched it? Can you give examples of situations, the context in which it was used and how it performed?
Mr. Doylend: Definitely, sir. There was a spill in the Port of Rotterdam. It was an oil terminal in Rotterdam, which is one of the largest ports in Europe. Our team at HARBO was called in from Israel with 1,000 feet of boom, and two people deployed it within less than an hour. It was a secondary containment. It wasn’t the first response, because it wasn’t set up to be first response. They saw the benefits of deploying it for secondary containment. Regular boom technology hasn’t changed over the last many years. This is one of the first innovations, in curtain boom technology.
The fact that you’re able to pick up that length of boom, connect it using the universal connectors, and deploy it off a small craft, allows for so many different scenarios in terms of containment of a spill event.
Senator Cormier: Is that the only occasion it was used?
Mr. Doylend: We’ve had a number of other, smaller occasions, but that’s the one most of note. We’ve done quite a bit of testing. I have to say that we’d like to do more real-life examples, but I also don’t want to do more real-life examples.
And so we’ve done the testing at OMSET in the United States, at the facility there, as best we can. That test went over 48 hours; we had a 100-foot boom with 1 tonne of oil inside that boom, with quite a bunch of wave action, and no losses whatsoever in heavy oil.
We want to do more tests. We’ve been talking to NRCan. We’ve just been talking to Minister Wilkinson about having more in-depth discussions about what might be possible in terms of working with his colleagues at the Coast Guard. We’ve demoed with Western Canada Marine Response twice now. It takes a while to do a paradigm shift in terms of how you look at oil spill response.
When I gave the analogy of ambulances and paramedics versus AEDs, that’s very much the case right now with every mindset. We’re trying to change that to get people to say, “No, there’s a better chance.”
Even AEDs in this province aren’t fully accepted in every single public building. That needs to change, too, and we think the same of oil spills.
Senator MacDonald: You’re all great witnesses; it’s great to have you here.
Canada is a country with great respect for the rule of law, and we have to have that respect. Of course, master mariners often find themselves sailing in international waters, or vice versa, master mariners from other countries sailing in our waters.
When it comes to international law and our international treaty obligations, where does this proposed law fit? Does this law contravene our international treaty obligations in any way? Perhaps, Mr. Bowles, I’ll send that to you first.
Mr. Bowles: The bill, in my opinion, has some contentious issues with anchorage. One clause is the right of free passage. Take the example of the Umnak Strait up in the Aleutians. It is contested by the Alaskan government, but it keeps coming back to that international convention. As far as anchoring is concerned and under the bill, with regard to unloading or loading, an anchorage may impact that convention.
Senator MacDonald: What would our response be, legally? Wouldn’t we have to respond and rescind it?
Mr. Bowles: Well, that may all be taken up within the PSSA. That might all be involved in proactive vessel management. It may be involved in the protected areas that are being mandated through OPP. So I don’t think we’re quite there yet.
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: I agree with Stan. That’s the way I would answer.
Senator Dasko: Mr. Pinto, were you ever a captain of an oil tanker? You were?
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: Yes, for decades.
Senator Dasko: It’s wonderful to have you here. I was just thinking a couple of months ago about how wonderful it would be to have a captain of an oil tanker appear.
Senator Patterson: We have two of them. Two of them here today.
Senator Dasko: Yes. I never did get around to asking the Chair or the Vice Chair about such a possibility. I think it is absolutely great to have all of you here, especially the captains.
However, my question is quite pointed. Do I understand from all of the testimony from each of you here today that, because of advanced technology, advanced regulation that covers many aspects — it covers the way tankers are treated, equipped and examined, and so on — and government regulation, because of all these factors you don’t think we need this bill?
Can I ask each of you to answer that query very specifically? Anyway, it’s wonderful to have you here.
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: Technological improvements and safety enhancements are inherent components of every business activity, be it the automobile industry, aviation, everything. They get a lot of press, media coverage, to bring it to the public perception.
Likewise, the marine industry has improved technology, advanced in leaps and bounds, but unfortunately the public perception has not caught on. From that point of view, ships today are technologically safe and sound. I feel confident. I love the coastline and I love the waters around here as much as any other Canadian, and I feel confident today to be able to say that as a tanker manager, the risk of doing business on a tanker, is very, very safe.
To give you some facts and figures, the volume of oil spilled in relation to the volume of oil carried in the 1970s was about a 56.6 per cent, volume of oil spilled. In the 1980s and 1990s, it stayed between 19 and 20 per cent. You will notice that in the 1990s, after Exxon Valdez, and in the decades of the 2000s, the relative volume of oil spill is as low as 3.7 per cent. That’s a very precipitous downslide on the volume of oil over four decades. It was only 3.7 per cent.
That shows the level of safety inherent in the operation of tankers, reflected in the fact that the entire B.C. coast has not had a tanker oil spill since those factual records, and so much tonnage is carried by oil tankers along the B.C. coast.
Senator Dasko: Mr. Doylend and Mr. Bowles, is this legislation necessary? Is it overreach? Does it serve any purpose, given these considerations from your point of view?
Mr. Bowles: It’s a very good question. The regulations and the management of ships has changed so dramatically, and all countries that are signatories to the IMO conventions are very aware of the environment being the paramount. Tankers must operate at that heightened level where you have to abide by these regulations, and as a ship’s master you have to abide by the controls that are put in front of you.
So as I’m approaching the Juan de Fuca Strait, it’s not just the fact that I’m entering a traffic separation scheme, it’s also the fact that I’ve gone through all of this other preparation work. Through vetting, applying the regulations, with all of the technology that we have in place, with the pilots that we have on the coast, I feel very comfortable that these ships are very safe.
Senator Dasko: Mr. Doylend, does the bill over reach? Is it needed? Is there any value in it at all, from your point of view?
Mr. Doylend: Thank you. Your question takes us to the heart of the matter. Simply, tankers haven’t spilled, as these gentlemen have said, on the B.C. coast, but we still have oil spills that have disastrous effects, and we’re talking about the risk to our shores.
It’s not to say that something could or could not happen with regard to tankers themselves. We’re talking about responsibility for our shared waters, and right now I don’t see our response organizations responding in time before oil hits the shore, and that’s what we’re trying to stop. I had a conversation with Suncor’s fleet director just yesterday, who said, in effect, that they will do everything they can to make sure oil never hits the water. That is their job as a captain of a ship, and that’s their responsibility. If it does, that obligation, that responsibility, lies within the regime that is set, and that regime still has oil hit the shores.
Until you answer that question and fully address the same risks that they’ve addressed on board the ship and by virtue of the ship, I can’t give you an answer as to whether or not you’re over-reaching or not, because I don’t want to see, nor do I want my child to see oil hitting the shore, if by that time we’re still consuming oil.
That’s the heart of the matter for me.
Senator Dasko: Thank you.
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: Mr. Chair, may I just say in conclusion, in short, no government should consider banning economic activity. It should consider boosting responsible activity.
Senator Patterson: Mr. Chair, my first question is to Mr. Bowles. We are very fortunate to have you two, with your almost 100 years of experience being masters.
We’ve heard that Bill C-48 was described as kind of a crude, sledgehammer approach which excludes communities from participating in environmental reviews and, worse, won’t do anything about the single-hulled vessels that are causing all the problems that we’ve heard about on the West Coast.
There is a much more flexible option available to Minister Garneau, and that is the PSSA. It’s working on the Great Barrier Reef, and it involves this wonderful organization, the IMO, which achieves international collaboration to high standards. Could you explain a bit more, Mr. Bowles, about how the PSSA will allow more flexibility and a more holistic approach than Bill C-48 represents?
Mr. Bowles: Good question. The whole aspect of PSSAs in relation to what Canada is doing already, modifying it to fit our concerns, can only enhance safety. In other words, it lays down the core parameters of applying a PSSA, but then we in Canada incorporate all our marine safety standards, our routing systems. It can only enhance the direction, the routing, that tankers take.
If we have a PSSA in place in a particular area, then the routing may be affected for that tanker traffic. There may be things such as enhanced radar, escort tug availability, dual pilots; there’s a whole host of things that Canada can do to raise the level of the PSSA.
I would say, if the PSSA is put in place through the IMO, it’s a far better mechanism, than what you term a sledgehammer approach that would basically kill the economy.
Senator Patterson: We’ve heard a lot about marine spill response capability, the absence of this on the north coast, but we have it on the south coast of British Columbia and also in Atlantic Canada. Can you tell us how that works? Do I understand that that’s all paid for by industry? If you have no industry, then you have no ability to pay for a marine response on the north coast?
Mr. Bowles: Well, effectively, yes, because that’s how it’s paid for, by industry. If you don’t have any industry and you don’t have a transportation network with ships, you don’t have a system.
Senator Patterson: Therefore, Bill C-48 actually will prejudice, will work against, the establishment of marine spill capability on the north coast.
Mr. Doylend, we’ve heard, without any substantiation, that only 3 per cent of an oil spill can be cleaned up. We heard that in Prince Rupert. I think the evidence was that the most that can be cleaned up is 15 per cent. This was repeated today in our hearing, without substantiation.
You’re in the business. Can you shed some light on how effective cleanup can be? Is it only 3 per cent?
Mr. Doylend: I’ve heard the typical industry rate ranges from 3 to 15, but it all depends on your response time. How widespread is that initial spill? You mentioned the Cosco Busan; in six hours, it had basically spread throughout the whole bay, I think the timeline was even shorter than that. I’ve got a report on it.
So the quicker you respond, the quicker you contain, the easier it is to clean up.
Actually, I wanted to work with NRCan to confirm that that’s, in fact, the case. From what we heard, the properties of the oil, as well, if contained closer together as quickly as possible, are maintained, that it doesn’t drop as quickly as if it was spread out more. The less area you have to clean up, the better chance you have to clean up more of it. It’s as simple as that.
Our current technology out there doesn’t contain quickly, so the cleanup is not about containment and then cleanup; it’s just about cleanup, and then trying to contain as large as several hectares of ocean, if not larger. That’s why you have such dismal recovery rates. We need to change that paradigm, on any spill. Oil tankers or anything on the water; if you have oil in your vessel, you have the responsibility to be able to contain that oil, just like we would treat a land-based spill. Any tanker truck, or whatever you want to call it, has the ability to contain. They have spill kits to help them to do their best to contain. Maybe it is not the best all the time, but let’s just do better.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: So it is true that it’s from 3 to 15 per cent recovery?
Mr. Doylend: I’ve heard that those are the typical rates, because of the experiences of response organizations and the way they’re currently set up.
The Chair: Mr. Pinto, you mentioned that, if the bill is passed, there should be a risk assessment done in five years. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Has there not been a risk assessment done before this bill was even drawn up?
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: I understand a risk assessment has been done already. I understand that, during the Northern Gateway Pipeline in 2013, I’m not sure of the year, there was a risk assessment where industry engaged expertise from the industry here. Simulations were done on this passage on adverse and severe weather conditions. Then it was followed by pilot assessments, B.C. coast pilots, who said that a VLCC could come through the Douglas Channel very safely, without any incident.
There is a document published by Transport Canada which substantiates that. There is a risk assessment, but it could go beyond that if need be.
The Chair: Is this the corporate risk assessment done by Gateway?
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: No, government —
The Chair: Then the government did one after? Just to make it clear.
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: Government was a participant together with industry in this thing.
The Chair: Very good. It would be nice to get hold of that.
That was done in 2013. So why, if the bill is passed, would we want to do another one?
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: You could expand on that to go beyond that with PSSA. So if you do establish a PSSA, then you would have a risk assessment done beyond what is done to determine the ecological balance and all the damage that could happen. You would have a more comprehensive risk assessment.
The Chair: Thanks so much.
Senator Smith: I’m finished.
The Chair: Oh, are you done? Senator Patterson took —
Senator Smith: He just did a great job.
The Chair: He hogged it all up.
Senator Simons, and then Senator Gagné. Senator Simons, you’ve had a kick at the cat, so I’ll ask Senator Gagné to go first, and then you can go.
Senator MacDonald: In Saskatchewan, they kick cats?
The Chair: Yes, we kick cats.
Senator Gagné: I’m from Manitoba. I’m very gentle.
It’s just a follow-up question for Mr. Doylend. Have you tested the equipment in different weather conditions, severe weather conditions? Is that simulated? Is it done in a lab? Could you expand on that, please?
Mr. Doylend: Excellent question. First off, I want to say that this is a complement to existing regimes. We’re not replacing anything; we’re just adding to the ability to make their job easier, just like an AED does.
The other thing is our system is better than nothing, no matter what weather system is out there. It’s meant to move with the water, so by the nature of it, it should slow down the spread of oil regardless. The issue is: Is it safe for the staff who are deploying it in that weather system they’re currently experiencing? We would love to do more testing. It is very difficult to do that testing. In fact, that’s why I reached out to NRCan, because we’d like to do more of that testing. We’re doing that and reaching out to requisite agencies around the world, and different institutions.
Again, this technology is coming out of Israel.We are looking to continue to innovate this innovative technology, and to test it and to show the results of what that testing is, because that’s what our goal.
I can tell you right now that, if it’s safe to deploy and if they can deploy it safely, then it will be better than anyhing that’s currently there.
Senator Simons: I have a question that we haven’t touched on much in our hearings. Witnesses we heard yesterday mentioned that they’re not just afraid of oil spills, but are also worried about ship strikes and disruption to whale pods. Is there anything on these new generation tankers that allows them to avoid whale pods, or to beep the horn so the whales get out of the way. I’m thinking about old-fashioned trains and cow catches.
I don’t know if there’s any technological answer to the concerns, which I think are legitimate, raised by people along the coast, that the tankers don’t just pose a risk of oil spills, but of disruption to wildlife.
Mr. Bowles: Bringing in the echo program is always a very good question. It shows that the shipping industry, regardless of whether it’s tankers or whether it’s container ships, or whatever, is working very hard to reduce whale strike. That’s not just the orcas; that’s all the other crustaceans and cetaceans that we have.
Senator Simons: You can run over crustaceans, that’s okay.
Mr. Bowles: Effectively, the industry is trying to reduce the speed to cut down on the risk of whale strike, to have systems in place to tell us where those whales are at that particular time to allow the pilots to take evasive action, and technology has moved ahead with the underwater noise that ships produce. They have what they call boss cap fins that reduce the noise level of the propeller. Of course, ships are getting quieter. They’re making the engines a lot quieter; they’re bedding them on composite materials to cut down that noise.
However, it’s all going to take time. Companies such as the one I work for is in a 22-build ship program right now, and it’s looking very carefully at all of these new technologies to take into account those items such as the ones the ECHO program is trying to deliver.
Senator Patterson: I just think it’s so great that we have masters of oil tankers here, and I’d like to ask one of you about the risk involved with coming ashore.
I believe that large VLCCs on the open water can’t be blown around with wind or waves. They’re very large, strong vessels. What about coming into a port? What do you do to mitigate risk there? We’ve talked about ports on this coast, Grassy Point, Prince Rupert, Stewart. Can you tell us a bit about what you can do to mitigate risk when you’re getting into port?
Mr. de Gouveia Pinto: Senator, that’s a very good observation and a good question.
I’ve got some experience in berthing VLCCs because I was a master of one.
It starts with having the resources there to guide the ship before coming to port. The berth configuration, the tugs, the currents, all this will be available to you in your passage planning. Before you come into port, you have a pilot and master exchange, where you discuss what the plan for mooring is going to be. You will know how many tugs, whether it has sufficient horsepower, what type of mooring, the berth configuration, how the ship’s head would lie in relation to the currents and tides. You would have a complete assessment of the weather situation for the next couple of days, before you do that.
So you have an intimate exchange of all this information with the pilot. Then you also supplement it with the number of tugs. So when you come in just off the berth, there will be tugs exchanging information with the pilot, taking orders from the pilot, but the master stays responsible because he is the most familiar with his vessel, how the vessel responds, the speed of approach. There are logs on the ship which will give you the speed of approach to the berth, so you are in control at all times in the conditions, the wind speed, the wind directions. All those enhancements are there at your disposal to see that you berth safely.
The Chair: I’d like to thank our witnesses for appearing before the committee this afternoon. It’s been a pleasure to hear from so many individuals over the last two days, in Prince Rupert and in Terrace. It’s been enjoyable for us, and we have learned a lot.
(The committee adjourned.)