THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS
OTTAWA, Tuesday, May 7, 2019
The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications met this day at 9:30 a.m. to 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.
Senator David Tkachuk (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, I call this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications to order.
Before we get to the witnesses and Bill C-48, honourable senators, we have had Bill C-97, which is the budget bill, referred to us. We have to have it back, according to the motion, by June 6. So when we come back from our break we’ll have four meetings and we may extend the Wednesday night by a half hour or so. It’s quite a package that was referred to us. I want to make sure we finish and have it in to the Senate on June 6, and that includes the referral. Be prepared. Have a look at the motion and see the areas of study and we’ll go from there.
One more thing on clause by clause on Bill C-48, we’ll discuss that tomorrow. I’ve told her to have it in camera for a few minutes after our witnesses tomorrow so we get that organized, because we start that the following week.
With that, honourable senators, we’re continuing our study of 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, the oil tanker moratorium act. For our first panel this morning we’re pleased to have before us as an individual, Ms. Vivian Krause, Researcher and Writer; and from Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, Ms. Vanessa Rochester.
Thank you for attending. We’ll start with Ms. Krause.
Vivian Krause, Researcher and Writer, as an individual: Good morning. Thank you, Chair and to everyone on the committee for the invitation to appear before you today. Some of what I’m going to say may sound familiar to my testimony with regard to Bill C-69.
By way of background, I’m here as an individual citizen. Over the last 10 years or so I’ve been following the funding behind environmental activism. I’ve traced $600 million that has come into Canada from American foundations, most for what are called large-scale conservation initiatives: The Great Bear Rainforest, the Canadian Boreal Initiative and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. In all three cases, one of the original goals of the American funders was to restrict the development and export of oil and natural gas from Canada. This is according to the tax returns of these foundations.
Part of the effort to shackle the Canadian oil industry is activism for a legislated ban on tanker traffic on the north coast of B.C. More than 50 grants specifically mention a tanker ban or tanker traffic. These grants average $40,000 each for a total of $2 million.
I am providing to the clerk an 80-page document that has a page of a tax return showing each of those 50 grants that specifically refers to a tanker ban or tanker traffic.
To begin, I would like to refer to the federal government’s announcement made on November 26, 2016, which laid the groundwork for Bill C-48. That announcement approved Trans Mountain and Line 3, rejected Northern Gateway and announced a moratorium on tankers carrying crude and persistent oil. The government also promised legislation to implement the tanker ban which brings us to Bill C-48.
In its November 2016 announcement, the federal government said that it rejected Northern Gateway because the pipeline went through a sensitive ecosystem known as the Great Bear Rainforest. I believe it is therefore important for your committee to know the history of the Great Bear Rainforest.
As far back as 1999, the creation of the Great Bear Rainforest has been heavily funded by the Rockefellers — the famous family that founded the American oil industry. In more recent years, it has been the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, based in San Francisco, that has become the big funder of environmental activism in the name of protecting the Great Bear Rainforest.
Since 2003 the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has granted $267 million to Canadian organizations, 90 per cent of that for activism. The top recipient of these funds, Tides Canada, the central proponent of the Great Bear Rainforest, has received $83 million.
At least $60 million of that $267 million, 73 payments averaging $835,000 was specifically for protecting the so-called Great Bear Rainforest. The second biggest recipient of funds was Coastal First Nations, who I believe will also be testifying to your committee. Coastal First Nations has received $25 million from the Moore Foundation, 25 payments of almost $1 million each.
In the annual report of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for 1999 there is a map showing the area that, at the time the Rockefellers wanted to protect. This map called for setting aside what was called at the time the “Big Bear Protected Area.” This area truly is the natural habitat of the Kermode bear, and to me it makes sense to protect this particular area.
The Kermode bear is blonde. It’s actually a black bear — what they call a phase of a black bear. Black bears come in a range of colours. There are cinnamon bears, which are a lighter brown, and also a blue or glacier bear. The natural habitat of the blue bear is in Alaska. The blue bear is beautiful, but you can get a hunting licence to shoot the blue bear. There is no multi-million dollar campaign for the cinnamon bear or the blue bear.
The originally proposed Big Bear Protected Area was only a tiny part of the B.C. coast, but now, in the name of protecting the Kermode bear, environmental and First Nations groups say that along the entire B.C. coast, from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the southern border of Alaska, there can be no tankers anywhere.
I will show you this on a map. Here we have the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the south of Alaska, and this tiny area was originally going to be the Big Bear Protected Area, which to me makes sense. If we look at that on a map of B.C., it doesn’t get near the Haida Gwaii and nowhere near the northern tip of Vancouver Island, it’s just this little area. But now the area that’s called the Great Bear Rainforest is this and, as you can see, the original area is only a tiny part of this entire area now called the Great Bear Rainforest and also the Great Bear Sea. So you can see that what began as a good idea has morphed.
Now we have the Great Bear Rainforest and Great Bear Sea, but in most of this area there are no great bears. There is no park for the cinnamon bear, as I said, and no park for the blue bear. The only bear for which there is a park is the one bear that isn’t being shot at, and there is $100 million conservation area for that bear.
Obviously, the reason that American foundations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over 20 years to create this conservation is not to protect a bear that doesn’t even live in most of the area. Something is being protected here at great expense and cost, but obviously not the bear. What is being protected is the American monopoly on access to exports of Canadian oil. The Great Bear Rainforest has become the great trade barrier, keeping our country out of global energy markets.
All, or nearly all, of the main organizations that campaigned for Bill C-48 are funded as part of an initiative called the Tar Sands Campaign. It’s a decade-long international effort to sabotage the Canadian oil and gas industry by keeping Canada out of global markets.
In January, Wendy Mesley at CBC reported on the Tar Sands Campaign. If you go today to the website of CorpEthics, the organization that coordinates this campaign you’ll find a description of the campaign, but the current description bears almost no resemblance to what CBC reported in January. That’s because after CBC reported it, the organization coordinating the campaign, CorpEthics, rewrote the entire description of it. According to the original description, the goal of this campaign from the very beginning was to land-lock Canadian oil so that it could not reach international markets where it could fetch higher prices per barrel.
The wording used in some of the grants and other documents is revealing. For example, a grant for $97,000 to West Coast Environmental Law states that the purpose of the funds was:
. . . to constrain development of Alberta’s tar sands by establishing a legislative ban on crude oil tankers on British Columbia’s north coast.
Note that the funds are not to bring about a ban in order to protect the coast, but rather to get a legislative tanker ban as a way to thwart the Canadian oil industry.
Another document, a proposal submitted to a U.S. funder, states that its intended outcome was “. . . public pressure directed at the Canadian government encouraging a legislated ban on oil tankers in B.C. inshore waters.” That proposal goes on to say in the very next sentence, “Simply put, if tankers are banned, no pipeline will ever be built.”
This is not a sound reason for a tanker ban. For years, politicians have ignored, tolerated and acquiesced to this falsely premised activism. It is time that this comes to an end. It is time that this committee brings this scam to an end by rejecting Bill C-48. As Peter Tertzakian told this committee a few weeks ago, we need to get it together. Anybody looking at our country from the outside is laughing.
As I conclude, I acknowledge that legitimate concerns raised by activist organizations need to be addressed no matter who funds them. But part of the basic premise of Bill C-48 is a scam. The Kermode bear merits protection, but there’s no point in putting off limits the entire B.C. coast in order to protect a bear that doesn’t live there.
Finally, if a tanker ban is legislated, it should not be warranted on a false front for stopping pipeline projects that are crucial pieces of infrastructure for getting full value from Canadian energy exports on overseas markets.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I just want to add, I don’t know if it was distributed, but there was a second handout that had copies of some of the grants I referred to. It might have been at the bottom of the pile there.
The Chair: All right. Thank you.
Vanessa Rochester, Of Counsel, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP: Good morning, honourable chair and committee members. I am a lawyer with Norton Rose Fulbright. My colleague Ms. Shelley Chapelski and I were mandated by Senator McCoy to address a number of questions arising from Bill C-48. Our answers were submitted in the form of a 27-page report dated March 2019. For the sake of good order, I have Senator McCoy’s permission to be here today and her consent to speak to the report.
Briefly, a substantial portion of the report looked at explaining a number of issues relating to the bill: What was the voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone, otherwise known as the TEZ? What are its origins? What was the state of technology at the time and what changes have taken place since? What is the scope of Bill C-48? What does it prohibit? To what extent, if any, does Bill C-48 impact on Canada’s obligations under international law, including the right of innocent passage?
It’s likely not a coincidence that the genesis of the TEZ occurred just after the largest tanker oil spill in Canadian history. The tanker Arrow in 1970 spilled, depending on reports, somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 metric tonnes of oil off the coast of Nova Scotia.
Shortly thereafter, Canada acted and the TEZ was agreed to between the U.S. Coast Guard, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Chamber of Shipping of America.
The boundary of the TEZ was based on a drift study, so how would a 100,000-tonne dead weight tanker drift? How long would it take to ground on the shore? What distance was needed before help could arrive?
At the time there were approximately 25 tugs along the coast of British Columbia. It was considered, however, that those tugs would be otherwise occupied at their duties. When performing the drift study, the tugs that would be used to rescue the tanker were two tugs stationed in Seattle. So how long would it take one of those two tugs to come to rescue the vessel before she drifts aground? That distance was what formed the outer boundary of the TEZ, and it does so to this day. The TEZ is voluntary and it applies to Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, or TAPS, tankers — those on the trade between Alaska and the southern states.
Briefly as to a few changes in technology, when the Canadian government announced the proposed moratorium shortly after the Arrow incident, the prototype hand-held mobile phone had yet to even be invented. In the 1970s, many vessels still had radio watchmen at the stations 24 hours a day. Signal flags were still sometimes in use. Tankers were single hulled and did not have many of the redundant systems that they have today, such as electronic charts and also the AIS, Automatic Identification System, like GPS but for vessels.
For over a decade now, vessels over 300 gross tonnes have AIS transceivers installed. If you were to give me the name of a commercial vessel trading worldwide over 300 gross tonnes, I could log into a system that my firm subscribes to and find that vessel in under a minute. I could find where she is in the world, where she sailed from, where she’s destined to, her estimated time, her owners and a whole slew of information. Frankly speaking, I find it far easier to find a vessel anywhere in the world than finding my car in the Costco parking lot on Saturday. Finally, since the TEZ has been introduced, we now have two Canadian emergency towing vessels stationed off the coast of B.C.
Turning to Bill C-48, there seems to have been some confusion around whether Bill C-48 enacts or formalizes the TEZ. The answer is no. Bill C-48 prohibits loading, discharging, mooring at ports and marine installations in the defined areas for tankers carrying over a certain volume of cargo. These are the internal waters of Canada. This differs from the area covered by the TEZ.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, otherwise known as UNCLOS, provides for a number of maritime zones. Briefly, you have the internal waters of a coastal state, so inside the ports, the rivers, and here a state has the same level of sovereignty that it would over its lands. One out, you have the territorial sea. That’s 12 nautical miles out. There is also sovereignty of the state there, but subject to a number of limitations, including the right of innocent passage for foreign-flagged vessels. This includes laden tankers.
Next out, you have the Exclusive Economic Zone, the EEZ, and that goes 200 nautical miles out. There, a state has certain rights, but foreign-flagged vessels have the right of freedom of navigation with very few limits.
Now, if Canada were to have legislated or put the TEZ into effect such that it prohibited tankers from sailing in the TEZ area, Canada would then be in breach of its international obligations under UNCLOS. So these are two different things: The TEZ covers the territorial sea and waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone, and Bill C-48 covers internal waters.
Finally, Bill C-48 places the prohibition on tankers carrying as cargo more than 12,500 metric tonnes of oil. It does not cover any tankers carrying less than this amount and does not cover bunkers or oil used in ships’ engines. For context, the Arrow spilled 8,000 to 10,000 metric tonnes, depending on the report.
The volumes of notable spills in the past three decades in British Columbia are: The Queen of the North, which grounded in 2006. She spilled approximately 200 metric tonnes. The Marathassa in 2015. She was a bulk carrier and she spilled and leaked approximately 2.3 metric tonnes. And finally the Nathan E. Stewart, in 2016. She was a tug. She grounded and spilled approximately 97 metric tonnes.
If one considers the claims lodged with the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund, our domestic fund that compensates victims of ship-source oil pollution damage, there were 42 open claims from British Columbia in their 2017 to 2018 open claims — some from years earlier — none of which involved tankers of any size. Rather, they involved tugs, barges, bulk carriers, fishing vessels and sailing vessels.
I thank you for the opportunity to speak today and welcome any questions you may have.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Rochester.
Senator Cormier: Thank you for your presentations. You have just reaffirmed the arguments we have heard in plenty since we began our study on Bill C-48. You talked very specifically about your arguments. I probably recognize that American industry may be involved in funding environmental groups, Ms. Krause, but I do not believe that all Canadians in favour of the bill are funded by American industry.
I read your resumé with a great deal of interest. You have worked for the UN and I assume that you are aware of the report that the intergovernmental platform on biodiversity and ecosystems services published yesterday. It paints a very alarming picture of the environmental situation and states that human activity is the main explanation of the changes in land and sea use. The report is also unique in one hitherto unprecedented aspect, the inclusion of local and indigenous knowledge.
Since we have heard so much about the pros and the cons, and in the light of this extremely alarming report, how can we reassure Canadians that an area designated for protection will be protected? What do industries and government have to do to reassure people? Clearly, some people oppose the bill, but many other Canadians support it and are concerned by the environmental issues today. I would like your opinion on those huge questions.
Ms. Krause: Since I have lived in countries like Guatemala and Indonesia for a decade or so, I have seen real dangers in the way in which industries conduct themselves in other countries. I have seen terrible things, the things that cause the problems you have just talked about. Those are the countries where the hundreds of billions of dollars should be going, not our country. The dangers have to be dealt with where they are found. Clearly, climate dangers are great, but we have to deal on the spot with the cause of many of the threats to some species. It has to be done in places like Asia and Africa, not on the north coast of British Columbia.
When I see what could be done with all that money in Canada and I remember what I have seen in Indonesia and elsewhere, I feel that it would be better for the money to be spent where the need is greatest than on the north coast of British Columbia, protecting a site on the basis, as I have just explained, of a false premise. Of course we have environmental crises, as you have just said. We have to react to them. But this moratorium on oil tankers will not help.
Senator Cormier: But the area has been identified as vulnerable, with a very clear description. I do not understand why you say that the area is not—
Ms. Krause: Are you talking about the global report?
Senator Cormier: Yes.
Ms. Krause: If you want to talk about an overall, global perspective, then, yes indeed, there will be areas where we have to act to deal with risks that are completely different from the ones we see in Canada.
Senator Cormier: Ms. Rochester, do you want to add anything? Thank you, Ms. Krause.
Ms. Rochester: To come at it from the more legal perspective, it would be simply to match up what the identified risks are and what measures can be taken to address those risks. Just speaking from certain facts and coming at it as a maritime lawyer, I believe the incidence of oil pollution from ships has decreased 97 per cent since the 1970s.
What has tended to be effective from the International Maritime Organization, or IMO, are a number of safety conventions that have come into effect. We see an appreciable difference. To give you an idea, in Montreal we had firms and hordes of maritime lawyers chasing accidents in the 1960s and 1970s. It has been a long time since my colleagues and I have visited a vessel as a result of a serious incident, so we see these measures are working.
Speaking from the perspective of the Port of Vancouver, it might be worthwhile for the Senate to consider what they are doing in relation to tanker safety. When a tanker enters the Port of Vancouver, they call ahead with advance notice of four days and they’re escorted in with two tugs and experienced pilots. It’s the sort of thing that is done to address the risks that may arise.
To use an analogy, if one is concerned about the traffic in the parking lot of a shopping mall and the types of cars and trucks that are going through there, the question is whether you put in schemes for how those trucks move, such as barriers between the sidewalk, or whether you prohibit certain types of stores from getting leases in the shopping mall. It’s about addressing the risks.
Senator Cormier: Thank you.
Senator Boisvenu: Ms. Krause, I am very pleased to be talking to you this morning because I have read your report. Witnesses have come to the committee and have confirmed to us that they receive money from American associations in order to carry out their activities. I am thinking specifically about the Bullitt Foundation. Do you know whether indigenous communities on the west coast of British Columbia have also received funding from American groups to oppose any activity related to shipping petroleum?
Ms. Krause: If I understood your question correctly, you’re asking me if I know of specific First Nations that have received funding.
Senator Boisvenu: Yes.
Ms. Krause: Yes, a whole bunch of them.
Senator Boisvenu: I read a passage in your article about the American strategy to block all international shipping of petroleum because the Americans know that Canada is a prisoner in terms of petroleum sales. They know that we are selling it between 30 per cent and 40 per cent cheaper than the current world price. You said in your presentation that this is a conscious strategy on the part of American environmental groups in order to control Canada’s market for petroleum. They are confining the petroleum production to central Canada so that the petroleum can only be sold on the American market, not on the international market. Is that your theory?
Ms. Krause: How can I put it? If you want me to explain my theory in my own words, these foundations, as I think I testified last time, have multiple objectives. It’s not just one thing that they’re trying to do. Some of their objectives are good, and I think we should work with them. They want to improve how we use every barrel of oil. They also want to develop renewable technologies and work on energy security.
I think all of the end goals are actually good. It’s just how they are going about it. One of the strategies they have chosen is to turn Canada into what they call the “poster child of dirty fuel” and to land-lock us and make us an unattractive country to invest in. That’s a very clear part of the strategy. I think that particular component of the strategy is unacceptable.
It doesn’t mean I disagree or think anyone should necessarily disagree with the overall end goals, but we should be able to have a conversation about how we go about getting there. This one particular component, which is to land-lock the crude and stop all the pipeline projects so we can’t reach overseas markets, is unacceptable. The creation of these parks, like the Great Bear Rainforest, is part of the strategy of land-locking the crude.
As all nations embark on this green transition, we need to insist that it’s fair for all countries and that no one particular country is bullied out of the global energy market, least of all under the guise of environmentalism. I think we simply need to find other ways of achieving those end goals that are better so our country doesn’t end up forfeiting billions of dollars because we are forced to sell into a market where we get lower prices.
Senator Boisvenu: We know that, in Canada, natural resources, in central Canada and Quebec, and in Ontario with the mining industry, are the key to our government revenues and make our social programs possible.
I am trying to understand how the Liberal government fell into this trap by wanting to pass a bill that will restrict one of the two main industries in two provinces and which even has the potential to kill our economy. How did the government fall into this trap?
Ms. Krause: Because I come from British Columbia, I can say that we have been talking about the Great Bear Rainforest project for twenty years or so. What happened is that everyone knew from the start that it was not quite the way things had to proceed, but they accepted it anyway. A lot of people said…
They’ve got billions. We’ve only got millions. We can’t fight them. And for many years there was a taboo on talking about this American money. It was not discussed. It was considered too politically hot. In fact, it was Ellis Ross, a First Nations chief from Haisla, Kitimat, who broke the taboo and said, “We are going to talk about this because it is keeping my community in poverty.”
What happened over the years is this was accepted, even though everyone knew it didn’t really make sense. No one wanted to haul the environmentalists on the carpet because people were scared. We have to do it now, because if we don’t the frustration in Alberta will tear our country apart.
The Chair: Senators, I have six questioners left. If anyone else wants to speak, I want to know now. I will try to divide the 25 minutes among the six, but if there are more, then I will divide it by that number. I want to finish by 10:30, because we have another set of witnesses. With that, Senator Miville-Dechêne.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: First, I need to ask you about your own financing, because you are pointing out that environmental groups and coastal First Nations are receiving American money. What about you? What about your research? How do you finance it?
Ms. Krause: Thank you for asking that question. That’s a fair question. I think if I’m asking rather pointed questions about other people’s funding, it is only fair that I disclose my own. Actually, since 2011, when I started writing about this, long before anyone ever asked me, I wrote a post on my blog called “Who Funds Vivian Krause?” You can go there and read it.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: I’ve seen it.
Ms. Krause: As you know, if you have read it, my work has not been funded by anybody. For many years, it was just —
Senator Miville-Dechêne: You have received fees from the oil industry for speaking?
Ms. Krause: But those fees started about five years after I had done the research. Basically after it was pretty much done. It was on the basis of what I had done and written over a number of years that people started to say, “We need to listen to this.”
My research itself has never been funded by anyone. I have eked out a modest living from those honorariums, and I think it is fair on my part to disclose those. If it makes people listen to me more carefully and scrutinize what I say a little more closely, knowing that I’ve received some honorariums from the oil industry, that’s fine with me.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: I have a question on your main argument about the Great Bear Rainforest. We have heard at length from coastal First Nations, and their argument is not so much about the Great Bear Rainforest; it’s that they don’t want their water in front of their community to be spoiled by an oil spill. This is a different argument, it seems to me. We’ve heard from the biologist Dr. Rice from Alaska, who said that for a big oil spill, in 15 days it travels 300 kilometres from the source.
Obviously, if there is a spill — and we know the danger of a spill is much less than it was 20 years ago. But if there is a spill along this particular coast, it will spoil the coast. I’m a little uneasy with your Great Bear Rainforest argument, because this is not what we’ve heard. They are afraid of an oil spill in the water in front of their community. This is a fear that exists and that we have seen. Whether they are financed partly by American foundations doesn’t take away their fear.
Ms. Krause: I totally agree with you. Local people have concerns based on the fact that they would be the ones most directly impacted. It’s a beautiful part of the world. I lived in Kitimat as a child. If there was a terrible oil spill up there, it would be absolutely catastrophic.
I think it’s perfectly natural and is to be expected that local people will be concerned. I think their expectations should be met. On the north coast of B.C., Arnie Bellis, Mick Morrison — I don’t know if they’ve spoken to this committee — there is a group of people who for years have been pleading for more resources so they can structure a proper marine incident response program.
I hope what we will do as a country is to take the opportunity to get into the global energy markets, make some money there and use that money then to develop a world-class marine incident response program that could serve to protect our own waters and well beyond.
Just to sum up, I think the concerns of the local First Nations are genuine and sincere and should be taken very seriously.
Senator Simons: Because I had the chance to ask Ms. Krause questions in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago, I will direct my questions to Ms. Rochester.
I want to thank you for the work you have done and thank Senator McCoy for arranging for that work. I want to understand a little more about the impact of Bill C-48 on the existing voluntary moratorium.
Is there any legal concern that if Canada enacts Bill C-48 it will put any part of the voluntary exclusion zone at risk? I want to get my head around this once and for all. Is it still possible, even with Bill C-48 — because it doesn’t ban tanker transit, it only bans loading and unloading. Could fully laden American tankers still transit through that inner sea passage?
Ms. Rochester: The answer is yes. They are doing two different things. The voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone, regardless if Bill C-48 is enacted or not, does something different. The voluntary exclusion zone basically says laden tankers sail west of this line. It has been adhered to. Those laden tankers are TAPS tankers. Any other tanker, any other vessel, unladen tankers, whilst they generally adhere to the exclusion zone, the larger ones in transit can sail in that area.
Let’s go back to the shopping-mall analogy. Imagine you have a small strip mall with Canada Shop and a large mall with America Shop, and they share a parking lot. Let’s say there are small cars that have had little fender benders in the parking lot in front of Canada Shop, and you have large trucks that go to the larger America Shop. What Bill C-48 says is that Canada Shop is concerned that one day if a bigger store opens in Canada Shop mall, then those large trucks might stop at our mall and that could increase the risk.
What it does is it says that from here forward, no large trucks can come into the loading bays of our mall. That doesn’t stop the normal car traffic that has had fender benders or the large trucks from following. They are two different things.
Senator Simons: If we were to recommend some kind of corridor at the very north end of the tanker ban area proposed by Bill C-48, say to allow the Nisga’a, for example, to develop a deepwater port and have access to the sea, how does that put us into any potential conflict with the voluntary exclusion zone or American ships transiting through Canadian waters?
Ms. Rochester: It would not even be in conflict with the voluntary exclusion zone, because that’s adhered to and that is a different thing. Think of it as this: Could that put us in conflict with Canada’s obligations under international law, UNCLOS? As mentioned, under UNCLOS, in the territorial sea, the state has certain rights to put restrictions. One that UNCLOS recognizes is separation schemes, particularly for tankers. So there are a number of mechanisms under UNCLOS to add more safety measures to recognize that a coastal state will want to protect its environmental resources.
There are also additional measures under the auspices of IMO. I believe the committee has heard about PSSAs, where you can designate zones and have mandatory pilotage, those sorts of things.
So if Canada is looking at doing something in the territorial sea in the exclusive economic zone, it would be at looking doing those in a way that is in line with Canada’s international obligations under the convention.
Senator Simons: Thank you.
The Chair: Many countries have environmentally protected zones where they may provide protection through legislative initiative. Are any as large as what Bill C-48 contemplates?
Ms. Rochester: It’s a prohibition on what you can do in a port. Placing aside what is stated as the policy aspect, what Bill C-48 basically says is if you have this much cargo, you can’t load more. You can’t come in if you have this much cargo. That is all it says.
It has a number of knock-on effects by virtue of the fact that you wouldn’t come to load or unload such cargo if there wasn’t a pipeline or other facilities there. All it says is that you cannot come into our port and moor here if you are carrying more than this cargo. That’s all it does.
It has knock-on effects. It is basically saying you don’t want people to load TVs in their cars, so we are going to prohibit putting a Best Buy in the shopping mall. It will have the knock-on effect of not having people load or unload TVs in the parking lot, but it really only addresses whether the TV is available.
Senator Galvez: Thank you, Ms. Krause. I want to understand your theory. You are saying that American money is funding environmentalists in Canada so that pipelines and oil in Canada are not developed in its enclave, but what do you do about the American companies that are here in Alberta with their extraction and their pipelines? There are a lot of American companies in Canada already.
I just want to understand what the fight is. Is the fight between Americans and Canadians or between Americans and Americans?
Ms. Krause: I think they are completely unrelated issues. My objections to what these foundations are funding has nothing to do with the nationality of the money, it’s that it’s not charitable, and it’s not helping to protect the environment. Even with this tanker ban, even with the whole campaign to land-lock Canadian crude, we are producing and using more oil than ever. It has not kept any oil in the ground.
Forget about the fact this is funded by the Rockefellers. It is not helping the said goals of reducing the environmental impacts of oil. That’s why I think it’s objectionable.
As I have said before, it raises some interesting questions. These are three foundations that began in the oil industry and are some of the biggest funders of this, but even if they weren’t I think this would still be objectionable because it doesn’t provide benefit.
Senator Galvez: Thank you. We have heard that there are two issues when there is an accident: the issue of the safety of the people in the boat, which rescue happens in less than 24 hours; and the environmental impact, which takes a lot of time — sometimes three days or longer because they are different people. They are not the same people, those who go in to rescue the people and those who perform the attenuation measures for the environment.
You talked about how boats have evolved and how ships are now better prepared. It is like planes, but as with Boeing, despite all the technology, accidents happen.
Could you comment on the issue of response to a spill?
Ms. Rochester: Spill response has increased. I know Canada has put a lot of effort and measures into spill response under the Oceans Protection Plan.
What you mentioned about safety of life and safety of property is true. It depends on looking at where your traffic is and what type of traffic there is.
A diesel spill, if it takes you time to get there, a lot of it will be evaporated before you get there versus a persistent oil spill. The persistent oil that they use to fuel the ship and will come out of the ship’s bunkers will be just as persistent as the oil that comes out of a larger tanker that is carrying persistent oil as cargo.
What tends to happen, like everything else, is accidents happen around bottlenecks. So whilst you have occasional incidents where accidents happen, say somebody falls asleep, now there are watch-keeping alarms to help crew members awake. Those safety measures have countered a lot of the accidents that happened before just out sailing in the open ocean, but most of the accidents tend to happen going in and out of ports. Something breaks loose from its moorings.
It is identifying where those risk zones are and managing those risks. So opposed to imagining in your head the large coastline, these are all the places where things will go wrong. It’s the same reason you are far less likely to get into a car accident when you are alone on a highway that is well lit than when you are in a crowded environment with lots of people turning and fighting traffic. It’s a similar thing with vessels.
Senator Dasko: Ms. Krause, I have several questions, but I will focus on one that follows up on what Senator Galvez was asking you about.
We have American oil companies that make their views known and spend money trying to promote their views. We also have American environmentalists who have their views and are funding organizations that try to promote those views.
Why is one type of American money worse than another? Why is the funding by those who have environmental interests worse than American oil companies making their views known? I ask this because your theory is sort of a quasi-conspiracy theory, and I have never believed in conspiracy theories.
Ms. Krause: I don’t think one type of American money is worse than another. What I was trying to explain earlier is, setting aside the fact that this is American money, this campaign is not helping to reduce our use of oil. In fact, we are using more than ever; it is just being produced by another country instead of Canada.
Our country has taken a huge economic hit here for basically no environmental gain. What I think we need to do is redirect the funding, effort and human energy to more productive and constructive ways of making better use of the fossil fuel fuels we still need to burn.
Senator Dasko: So the business of funding is basically irrelevant, really? We are back to basic issues?
Ms. Krause: It is important to look at the purposes for which the funds are granted. That’s why I tried to draw the committee’s attention to the fact that these environmental groups say in their proposals that the reason they want the ban on tanker traffic is that it is a way to kill the pipeline projects.
Senator Dasko: We heard from many organizations, groups and citizens who support the bill. One of them was the Coastal First Nations, who expressed to us their great fear for the fishery and how it may be affected. Since you always make the point about the funding, are you saying these people are confused about their economic interests and are actually being duped by the funding they are getting and don’t have a genuine concern about their economy?
Ms. Krause: I don’t doubt their sincerity at all. Here is the thing: Coastal First Nations, with $25 million from the Moore Foundation, has had a lot more resources to get its point across.
Senator Dasko: This should be a good thing.
Ms. Krause: Meanwhile, no one has been giving funding to the First Nations who do want to be part of the energy industry. They are disorganized, they are not funded and they don’t have anyone helping create their websites, produce videos for them or help them with social media. That’s the thing: this American money has gone only to the groups that are opposed, and it has gone for the purpose of cultivating opposition. I would argue that if it were not for this American funding, we wouldn’t even have the controversy we do. This has been manufactured as part of a strategy to land-lock Canadian crude and keep Canada out the energy market.
Senator MacDonald: Thank you, Ms. Krause and Ms. Rochester. Thank you for all of your good work, Ms. Krause. Canadians have to know these things, whether they want to hear them or not.
We have had a lot of groups speak on Bill C-69, many of which have already been discussed. Environmental groups from the east and west coasts, such as the Pembina Institute, are always showing up at the table. It looks like all these groups, or a majority of them, are funded from outside of the country.
Are you familiar with the Kern oil fields in California?
Ms. Krause: A little.
Senator MacDonald: The Kern oil fields are an environmental disaster. It’s about 1,200 tailing ponds in southern California. They are one of the worst users of water to try to extract their oil. It is basically a moonscape and the worst environmental disaster in the U.S.
Do you know whether these groups spend any money trying to shut down or curtail these operations in the U.S., or is all of their money going outside the country?
Ms. Krause: Yes, I have seen grants specifically trying to address some of the environmental issues with those oil fields. They are in the ballpark of tens of thousands of dollars, whereas the total sums of money, using the Tides Foundation as an example, has put through 400 grants — 400 cheques and wire payments — totalling $40 million. The amount of funding that has come in to sabotage the Canadian oil industry is orders of magnitude greater. There are small amounts of money trickling into California, but there is nowhere near the level of sophistication, coordination and behind-the-scenes backup to stifle the oil industry in the United States as there is in Canada.
Senator MacDonald: Thank you.
Senator McCoy: Thank you both for being here.
I don’t think any of us have any quarrel with the very legitimate desire of the Coastal First Nations to protect their coast, their water, their livelihood and their culture. It is a question of how we do it. The minister himself said it is not well protected at the moment; it’s inadequate. So how do we go about it? What I hear from Norton Rose is that Bill C-48 doesn’t do it.
We had one witness representing the Coastal First Nations saying that there were some gaps. I would like to address two of those gaps, but first I would like to invite you, Ms. Krause, to put on the record which First Nations are receiving funding from the American groups, as you say, or where we can find that information. Maybe it’s on your website, or you can mail it to the clerk and the clerk can circulate it later.
Ms. Krause: I can tell you some of the places you can find that information. For starters, there is an organization called the Coast Conservation Endowment Fund Foundation. It is a Canadian registered charity. If you go to the website of the CRA, you can look it up and see the amount that has gone to each First Nation.
The CCEFF was created as part of the implementation of the Great Bear Rainforest. You can see — the Haisla and the Heiltsuk nations and on down the line — who is receiving what.
All of these foundations have grants databases, and you can search them. For the Moore Foundation in particular, I’ve analyzed all that information in my blog. First Nations received $58 million in total, and I provided this information to this committee the last time I testified. I broke that $58 million down by which First Nations organizations received what, and what it was for.
Some of the purposes for which it was granted are good. There are some good things happening there and I think that should be encouraged.
Senator McCoy: As senior legislators, we should be able to be discerning enough. Thank you.
One of the acts we passed in December, which was part of an omnibus bill called Bill C-86, made changes to the Canada Shipping Act and to Canada’s Marine Liability Act. In fact, it gave the minister and cabinet far more powers than Bill C-48 purports to do. One of the witnesses representing the Coastal First Nations said there are still gaps, and one of those gaps is access by Indigenous communities to the liability fund.
Could you address that, Ms. Rochester?
Ms. Rochester: I mentioned earlier the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund. This is Canada’s domestic fund to compensate victims of oil pollution. Its main claimant is generally the Coast Guard and it reimburses the Coast Guard for money spent. The administrator of the fund, Anne Legars, who I understand has come before you, is doing a lot of outreach. I believe they recently posted on their website some of the outreach they’ve been doing to let Indigenous peoples know, and to report and educate them that if there are issues that would affect their land, fisheries and subsistence rights, they have access to the fund.
One of the things that may be of interest and of value to them is that since the fund was started — and I believe the fund’s predecessor dates back to the 1970s — there has never been a spill on the West Coast that Bill C-48 would have prevented.
So every spill on the West Coast since that time would fall within either a cargo volume or type of vessel that is not covered by Bill C-48. That sort of outreach and education by the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund is important.
Senator McCoy: How much is in that fund today?
Ms. Rochester: It’s close to $1 billion, I believe. I would have to check and get back to this committee.
Senator McCoy: I think I could go on a lot longer.
The Chair: You mentioned this umbrella group. I’m not sure of the name, it was a coastal group.
Ms. Krause: Coast Conservation Endowment Fund Foundation.
The Chair: Exactly. What charitable work does it do? If you contribute, do you get a charitable status?
Ms. Krause: I don’t speak for that organization, obviously, but my understanding of it is that its goal is to create what they call a conservation economy. In other words, to foster economic activities that are in keeping with their view of what is sustainable. For instance, they’ve funded things like small-scale shellfish cultivation.
The Chair: Does it have charitable status?
Ms. Krause: Yes. It began as an American charity. It had charitable status both in the U.S. and in Canada. The American foundations seeded it with about $60 million which was matched by provincial and federal money. It discontinued its American charitable status in 2013, I think, and now it is only a Canadian-registered charity. The money is supposed to be used for the development of these types of economic activities. I believe it was originally created as a way to sort of compensate for some of the economic activity that was going to be lost by a reduction in logging in certain parts, especially of the Haida Gwaii, when the Great Bear Rainforest was agreed to initially.
The Chair: I have a different view of charity than that, but it just seems the taxpayers’ dollars are being spent on these so-called charities. That’s an issue.
Ms. Krause: Unemployment is a huge issue in a lot of these communities, and if they can diversify the economy by creating industries like growing oysters, shellfish, geoduck and other seafood, it’s good.
The Chair: Yes, I’m sure it’s good. Whether it is a charity or not is another question.
With that, thank you, witnesses.
Before we get to our second panel this morning, Ms. Rochester has a report that she could send in, and Senator McCoy has requested that I consult senators and ask if we can make it part of our record. We forgot to ask her to send it in.
Senator McCoy: I have to say, it’s only in English and that is why I didn’t circulate it.
The Chair: She has a right to do that. We’ll do the translation if it’s needed.
Senator McCoy: It’s up to the committee.
The Chair: Are senators in agreement? Thank you. We will do that.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: Considering that time is short, I would like to make a motion because I would like Tzeporah Berman, who is a specialist in the oil question and environmental groups, to testify tomorrow night. We have a one-hour slot, and there’s time for her to testify. I’m sorry this is a last-minute request. It took us time to reach her.
I would like, if possible, to put to a vote that this witness testify tomorrow.
The Chair: Senator Miville-Dechêne, you came and asked me, and I ask you to submit a bio. Submitting a witness at the last minute is not exactly a habit we should get into.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: I know.
The Chair: You said you were going to do something, and you’re not doing it; you’re doing something else.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: We have only 24 hours to organize the video conference. If we don’t approve this witness now, we won’t be able to hear from her.
The Chair: I don’t know who she is and neither does anybody else.
Senator Simons: Ms. Berman testified before the Bill C-69 committee in Vancouver. She is a high-profile environmental activist. She had an advisory role to the Alberta government in dealing with oil sands. She is a high-profile environmentalist of, as some would say — how shall I put this?
The Chair: It’s not that we haven’t had enough of them testify.
Senator Simons: I’m not necessarily advocating for her to testify. I’m saying she is a noted activist.
The Chair: It’s good that you and Senator Miville-Dechêne know, but I think it would be good —
Senator Galvez: Chair, if there is a motion on the table, we should vote on the motion.
The Chair: We can debate as long as we want, Senator Galvez. If you want to have this debate take place over the next hour, we can do that, and then Mr. Kariya won’t have an opportunity to —
Senator Galvez: That’s why I’m saying let’s vote.
The Chair: Okay.
Senator Dasko: May I speak?
The Chair: Of course you may.
Senator Dasko: If this witness has appeared before the Bill C-69 committee, then surely her credentials have been vetted by a Senate committee, and that would be enough justification for me. Thank you.
Senator MacDonald: She testified on Bill C-69 in Vancouver. I have no interest in listening to her again.
Senator Miville-Dechêne: At this point we should vote. I didn’t have the opportunity to hear her on Bill C-69. I’m sorry some of the witnesses have appeared on both bills, but they have similar issues. I think it’s important to hear from her.
It’s true that we have heard local environmental groups in British Columbia, but I would say this witness, from what I’ve been told, is interesting in the context of the bigger battle on oil and environment in Canada.
Senator Gagné: Chair, can I ask that the question be called, please?
The Chair: We’re going to do it then. All in favour of having this witness — I’ve never seen this before, where a witness is scheduled for the next day without — and we’re interfering with our witness list. We should allow all senators then to propose witnesses for the following week. Senator Miville-Dechêne has proposed this. All in favour? All opposed? Five to five. The motion is defeated.
We will now proceed, and we have with us Mr. Paul Kariya, Educator, Former Public Servant, Senior Policy Advisor to the Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative; and from the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Ms. Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Programs Director. Thank you for participating and coming here today.
Paul Kariya, Educator, Former Public Servant, Senior Policy Advisor to the Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative, as an individual: Thank you very much.
I speak today in support of the northern oil tanker moratorium, Bill C-48.
Today I share my perspectives. You have already heard from the chiefs and leaders who are more eloquent than I am — I’m the hired help — and they represent the rights and title holders.
Why does Bill C-48 make sense? You’ve heard from industry, GR folk, politicians and others that Bill C-48 will land-lock Alberta oil, or Bill C-48 is — and I take these from recent articles — “garbage” or “un-Canadian.” These people speak with a short-term vision for industry and jobs for perhaps the next 15 or 20 years — laudable goals.
The Coastal First Nations speak with a vision for today and beyond 100 years. They aspire to communities, a region, jobs and livelihood and lives that are clean and compatible with the environment that sustains and enables their cultures. If the vision of the Coastal First Nations prevail, we, as British Columbians and Canadians, will all be beneficiaries.
Unemployment is high, jobs are hard to come by and communities have social problems. One half of the communities still rely upon diesel power for electricity, and most of them do not have road access; however, they are not impoverished.
Why, given this, would Coastal First Nations lead the initiative to reduce the annual allowable cut in forestry from something like 75 per cent to 30 per cent? Some businesspeople who have been before you with their 15- to 20-year vision might say that this has been a disaster for forestry jobs and investment, and it has come at the expense of industry and even First Nations forest companies.
To this I would say, yes, it has come at a price. Based on their clean vision, the Coastal First Nations have said the trade of cutting trees for some jobs at the expense of habitat for bears, wolves, birds, fish, water and people has been too expensive.
Do you know today that Coastal First Nations are Canada’s largest marketers of forest-based carbon credits in Canada? The B.C. government was given an award by the UN last year for becoming a carbon-neutral government because of the carbon credits from the Great Bear First Nations. The forests have been protected because they are needed for the ecosystems that sustain life.
By the way, we, as British Columbians and Canadians, are also beneficiaries because of this vision and leadership. Of course forestry is important, but our collective perspective and vision has to be longer term.
Today the people who have an Aboriginal right to fish are largely on the beach. A combination of government policies to reduce industry capitalization and imperfect market mechanisms has driven First Nations from a position of dominance to largely being observers.
The Coastal First Nations have been in reconciliation negotiations with Canada to re-establish a small boat, community-based fishery in each community so families can access their food, social and ceremonial fish and also derive a livelihood from fish like they used to.
Canada has informed us this past month that our negotiations have been successful. Soon there will be a joint announcement of this historic reconciliation initiative.
This is the economy that all First Nations have prioritized as number one. It will come with new co-governance and fishery management and put First Nation fishermen back on the water. All British Columbians and Canadians will benefit because the vision comes with clean, conservation-based approaches and integrated Marine Protected Areas and planning.
The new fisheries will never be what it was in the past, so new jobs will be needed. Today the combined payroll of the First Nations through stewardship offices exceeds 125 jobs. The First Nation public service will expand in this area with sustainable, long-term careers to monitor, steward and protect the terrestrial and marine environments.
These public servants monitor the forest, the status of grizzly bears, they hail fish catches from recreational fishers, they are sentinels on behalf of the First Nations and all of us to monitor human use on the landscape and the environment in a climate-changing world. Through the investment of foundation partners, the stewards and guardians have the latest innovation in tools and technology for their work. Neither British Columbia nor Canada have tools like the Coast Tracker. I hope you’ll ask me questions about that shortly.
This vision of the future is incompatible with heavy oils in the environment. One spill, however unlikely this might be, in what First Nations have invested in could be gone.
Experts have spoken to you about double hulls, the advances in navigation and new tanker technologies, suggesting that catastrophic failure and risk of an oil spill is very small. But what was the risk that two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, the newest and best in human ingenuity would fall out of the sky?
Why does Bill C-48 make sense? Well, for one thing it was a promise made by the government elected by the people. This promise needs to be kept on behalf of all British Columbians and Canadians, and you as senators need to weigh this commitment and the vision of First Nations.
As we have seen in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and recently in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission led by one of your colleagues, there have been too many broken promises.
When it has been convenient for larger society to invoke the argument of a greater good for all, First Nations have been swindled, ignored, fought, legislated, and programed out of their vision, their hopes and their needs.
Coastal First Nations are not anti-development, but they will not sacrifice the long term for the short term. They will not take quick jobs and money if it costs them the survival of their children and the environment that sustains us all.
Bill C-48 and Bill C-262 are real and necessary and must become law, but they are also symbols of the need for rapprochement, relationship and keeping promises.
Let’s continue to embark on writing a new joint history with First Nations of the Great Bear region, a world-class biological hotspot and an ecological stronghold. Heavy oils have no part of this vision.
I would like to leave you with two quotes. One from the author Wendell Berry:
Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.
The final one comes from the Bible, Hosea 4:3:
Therefore the land mourns,
And everyone who lives in it languishes
Along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky,
And also the fish of the sea disappear.
Thank you very much. I would be happy to take your questions.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Kariya.
Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Programs Director, Sierra Club Canada Foundation: Thank you, Mr. Chair and honourable senators, for allowing me to present today.
I am here to ask you to pass Bill C-48 without amendments. This recommendation is made in support of the position of our sister organization in British Columbia, Sierra Club B.C., whose brief on this matter has been submitted to the committee.
My name is Gretchen Fitzgerald, and I am the national programs director with the Sierra Club Canada Foundation. We are a national grassroots organization with a mission to empower people to be leaders in protecting, restoring and enjoying a healthy and safe environment.
Sierra Club Canada Foundation has been involved in ocean zoning initiatives and protection processes for decades. For the last two decades we have called for a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the East Coast.
Our volunteers have also raised concerns about the impacts of marine shipping off Newfoundland, a lack of spill response preparedness and concerns about the proposed Downeast LNG facility that was to be set up in Maine, access to which the previous Harper government blocked due to the dangers of large tankers travelling between Campobello and Deer Islands.
As a young person, I watched in horror with my peers as the Exxon Valdez spill devastated the coastal environment of Prince William Sound. Until the massive BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it was this disaster that we turned to and the science that followed it to figure out what the impacts of a similar marine spill in Canada’s waters would do to our coastal ecosystems and communities.
According to a National Geographic article written on the thirtieth anniversary of the spill, which occurred on March 24, 1989, killer whales and eagle populations still have not recovered from its impacts and oil from the spill remains buried on the beaches — a lasting toxic legacy.
Of course, there have been changes to how ship tankers operate and improvements in safety since the Exxon Valdez, but the number of spills and accidents globally and in Canada is not zero.
I can say that spill response is little improved since that day. As you may know from hearing testimony, Transport Canada expects as little recovery of between 10 and 15 per cent of oil spilled in open water.
The reason we advocate for greater protection in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is we understand its ecological, historic and cultural significance. This highly industrialized estuary is home to endangered whales: the blue and North Atlantic right whale. It is no secret that shipping traffic is one of the reasons why the North Atlantic right whale is currently near extinction.
The recent spill of an estimated 250,000 litres from the Husky SeaRose platform shows how ill-prepared we are to deal with spills at sea: Not a single drop of the oil spilled in that accident has been recovered.
Spills on the East Coast have shown how difficult it is to clean up oil in northern oceans. Going back to the Arrow that went down in 1970, where 10 million litres of oil was spilled, coating 190 miles of coastline. The remaining oil was pumped out of that tanker decades later in 2015.
The Kurdistan tanker, which broke in half in the Cabot Strait in 1979, spilling 9.2 million litres of oil that came ashore 12 days later, coated 700 miles of coastline and took six months to clean up. It contaminated commercial fish stocks as well, as fishermen reported seeing lobsters coated in oil.
The Rio Orinoco went aground on Anticosti Island in October 1990, spilling 200,000 litres of fuel oil. The cleanup was extremely challenging — and I see a lot of parallels here with northern B.C. — due to the remoteness of Anticosti and winter weather. Five attempts at cleanup efforts in the wintertime were abandoned and had to be continued the following summer.
There are special places that need specific protection from such risks on both of our coasts. The Great Bear Rainforest is such a place. As an East Coast resident, it gives me great hope to know that there are places in Canada like the Great Bear Rainforest. Places where — as the previous witness described — jobs, culture and economy of coastal communities is supported by a healthy marine environment.
The unique ecosystems of the Great Bear Rainforest cannot be separated from the health of the marine environment. Salmon provide food for bears and wolves, and even the trees have marine nutrients from salmon found in their treetops. This is the world’s largest remaining intact coastal temperate rainforest. There is truly nowhere else like it on earth. It is a special place, and it deserves special protection.
By passing this bill without amendments, you will be part of a decades-long effort to protect the great bear. If tankers are allowed to transit this region, considered by Environment Canada to be the fourth most dangerous body of water in the world, it is not a question of if an accident will occur, it’s a question of when.
In northern B.C. waters there are recorded of examples of waves building from 3 metres to 18 metres in just 8 hours. This kind of wave condition, combined with the remote, inaccessible nature of the region, would make an oil spill cleanup effectively impossible.
I’ve heard some senators say they’d like to see a shipping corridor, a centre lane down the middle of the tanker moratorium region, as a compromise. Spilled oil would not stop at the boundaries of the centre lane proposed. It would spread up and down the coast impacting fisheries, whales, birds and communities. Such a corridor effectively defeats the purpose of this legislation.
For decades, communities have fought for a conservation-based economy in the Great Bear Rainforest based on sustainable forestry, tourism and fishing. With one spill, these efforts could be wiped out.
Bill C-48 is the result of over four decades of work by communities, First Nations and local industries to protect the great bear. The broad diversity of support for this bill is truly impressive. As a national organization representing members from across this country, we add our voice to this support. We ask you to pass this bill without amendment. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Simons: Thank you very much to both witnesses for your very passionate and eloquent testimony. Wendell Berry is one of my favourite writers. In a previous life, I got to spend some days with him in Kentucky working on a documentary about his life and works. That was an apt quotation.
Mr. Kariya, when we were in Prince Rupert and Terrace, we heard very eloquently from other First Nations, including the Nisga’a and the elected leadership of the Lax Kw’alaams, that they feel that Bill C-48 infringes on their treaty rights — particularly the Nisga’a, whose treaty was hard-won and hard-fought. They told us that they would like to retain the right to at least consider development of the deepwater port and a pipeline.
How are we to square the interests of some of the more southerly coastal First Nations, who did indeed speak very eloquently in favour of Bill C-48, with those of the Nisga’a, who spoke equally eloquently in opposition?
Mr. Kariya: Thank you for your question, senator. I, too, was in Terrace and listened carefully to that testimony. I want to be careful in what I say. I am not part of the rights and title holders. I am not Indigenous. I have worked in that area and with the previous presidents of the Nisga’a. If you listen to President Clayton’s pleas, it was certainly about speaking against Bill C-48, but equally loud was, “We were not consulted. We are a treaty First Nation. We deserve the right to sit down with Canada.” I think that was as strong as any, and the folks I have spoken to there would say that.
I think the other part of it is the Nisga’a are very concerned about their opportunities. This is an area where most nations don’t have access to urban land. These are not people like the Musqueam, the Squamish, the Tsleil-Waututh and others. Every opportunity needs to be investigated. I want to be careful in saying, yes, there needs to be adequate listening to all sides of this, but I think you heard very strongly from the rights and title holders of the coast, where most of the impact could occur, that this is a no-go.
Again, I want to be careful. I’m not criticizing the Nisga’a. They are on the river and have ocean access, but it’s nothing like the folks of the Heiltsuk, Haida and so forth.
Senator Simons: Then a follow-up to Ms. Fitzgerald. When I have been speaking about a corridor, it hasn’t been through the middle of the area, which I grant you would be seemingly illogical. But again, the Nisga’a spoke to us about the potential for a corridor far north, right up against the international boundary with Alaska.
Do you see any potential for a compromise there? Or is that equally problematic to you as one through, say, Kitimat or Prince Rupert?
Ms. Fitzgerald: Yes. Excuse me for using the vernacular centre lane terminology. I think just because of the remoteness, uniqueness and the dynamism of the system, from what I’m seeing if you had an accident there, the response would be poor, the oil would spread and, as I said, the ecosystem-wide impacts could be devastating. It would defeat the intent of the bill.
The Chair: How do you know the response would be poor?
Ms. Fitzgerald: From witnessing what’s happened on the East Coast, like I say we’ve just had a massive spill off of an oil rig here. Not a drop was contained. Scientists estimate deaths of seabirds could be in the tens of thousands, maybe more.
If you have the same dynamic system and that remoteness, I think history is teaching us that the ability to respond is poor. Then our own statistics show, even in good conditions, the recovery would be 10 to 15 per cent. If you had a spill, the remaining 90 per cent of that is anticipated to be out in the environment causing damage.
The Chair: The only reason a tanker would come is if there was a pipeline there. If a pipeline came, wouldn’t there have to be a full response plan devised and put before all of the authorities that would give permission to the pipeline? Wouldn’t they have to do all of that, as they do on the southern coast? There’s a pretty darned good response group there.
Ms. Fitzgerald: Yes, the operative word being “if.” Right now, this coast is protected, and I think it should remain that way.
No, we’ve seen reassurances on the East Coast regarding oil-spill response. Like I say, as of last November, I’m not seeing much impact of those promises regarding oil-spill response. As I tried to emphasize in my presentation, this is a unique, remote, dynamic environment. There will be features there. We just saw a barge accident, as you all probably know, and I think the response rate was slow and inadequate. I think history is teaching us that these are high stakes and there are certain areas where you don’t roll the dice.
Senator Boisvenu: My thanks to our two guests. My question goes to you, Mr. Kariya. I have heard the detractors and the supporters of Bill C-48 and I completely understand their arguments, their philosophy, because, basically, we are navigating between a philosophic position and a scientific position.
I feel that, in terms of the consequences of Bill C-48. the problem goes far beyond short- or medium-term operations, as you are suggesting. When you listen to people, you hear that this bill is threatening the very harmony that existed for decades, especially in Western Canada, and even in Quebec, in terms of the use of those resources.
In Alberta, indigenous peoples also would like to invest in the Eagle Spirit project with up to 85 per cent ownership. Their chiefs said that it is a way for them to get out of poverty and their dependence on the federal government. Bill C-48 condemns them to a long-term dependence on funding from federal government programs.
Mr. Trudeau’s discourse strikes a relative balance between economic development and environmental needs. This bill would prohibit traffic on almost 90 per cent of the coast, but, if we protected 80 per cent instead of 90 per cent, would that be a good compromise, in your opinion?
Mr. Kariya: Thank you for your question, senator. My apologies that I do not have the French skills to respond to you in French. I did, once upon a time, achieve a certain level in the public service, but I’ve been back on the West Coast for 25 years.
Again, I don’t want to be overly critical, but you’ve heard a lot from Eagle Spirit and those who would support it. This is a private business venture, and I give full credit to the people behind that enterprise.
On the other hand, you’ve heard from the people I work for. You’ve heard from the rights and title holders, and there’s a world of difference between business enterprise and First Nations. First Nations, in particular in British Columbia, that do not have a treaty and have been trying for a long time to square that relationship with the Crown, I think that’s an important distinction. There are people who would ask, “Don’t we have good people on both sides in terms of First Nation issues?” It’s not like that. It’s rights and title holders versus a business enterprise.
Are there First Nation leadership and governments along the route that might be in support of Eagle Spirit? Of course there might be. There are folks who would look at jobs and investment possibilities, but I ask you to look at those who have been before you and weigh the difference between the rights and title holders and others.
Senator Boisvenu: I do not want to fall into one camp or the other in what seems to me are basically two irreconcilable positions, as is the case for a lot of environmental matters. As I worked for the ministry of the environment in Quebec for 15 years, I know that, with some issues, the positions are irreconcilable. At that point, compromises have to be sought. That seems to be where we are at the moment.
If we want to bring indigenous communities on the west coast closer to those in central Canada, rather than setting them further apart, we have to find a compromise between the economic needs of the indigenous communities in central Canada and the need to protect the environment, so that the communities in the west can live sustainably from the resources in the sea.
My question is quite simple. Currently, this bill will prohibit all oil shipping activities on 90 per cent of the coast. If that was 80 per cent, with very strict criteria for shipping activities in the part that is open, and similarly strict criteria for financial commitments and protection methods in the event of a spill of whatever size, would that not be a way to reach a compromise? I am just asking.
Mr. Kariya: In terms of percentages, I’m not sure if that’s the right way to go about it. Despite the work that we do at Coastal First Nations, we have no assurance that the work we do in terms of protecting the environment whether against this concern with heavy oils or forestry or others or bug infestation, there is no 100 per cent. What you do is try your best, if you will. I’m nervous about trading off a nominal 70, 80, when that kind of metric doesn’t exist in nature.
In terms of compromise, I say this representing the First Nations that I work for: they have been the ones compromising. This promise was made to them and they are saying, “Government of Canada, honour the promise you have made.” We are the ones who have lost our fishery, our forestry. I remember the MacMillan Bloedel slogan was Forests for Today and for Tomorrow. It was supposed to be under the principles of maximum sustainable yield. What did that bring? Fisheries was supposed to be under MSY principles. What did that bring?
Again, it is not to be overly critical of the governments I have served, but those were under principles that were, “Trust us. We have your best interests. This will be delivered for you and you will do well.” If I look at oil and gas, I used to work for the Department of Indian Affairs, and Oil and Gas Canada was part of my responsibility once upon a time. It did not perform very well. So to be told, “Let’s find balance and do it for the benefit of all,” I’m not sure if that’s a sustainable way to go about this, but I do know the folks I work for are saying, “Canada, honour your commitments to us.”
Senator Miville-Dechêne: Some of what I was going to ask has been addressed, but I will push a little further.
We’ve heard from many First Nations in Edmonton and Regina who said that, from their point of view, it’s also a question of reconciliation to have a way of living. In their case they have no fisheries. They don’t have the same resources as they want, and what they want to do is either build a pipeline or benefit from the oil industry.
It puts us in quite a difficult situation. I’d like you to address that specifically, this need to get out of poverty and their claim that they cannot do otherwise because what they have available is the oil industry.
Mr. Kariya: Thank you. Again, with all due respect to First Nations throughout different parts of Canada, I speak for those I work for on the coast. Reconciliation is an important subject. The vision I’ve mentioned in my remarks at fisheries is job one: We are going to recover the fisheries as best we can. They will never be what they were again but from that will come the access to food, social and ceremonial fishing. From that will come a fishery in terms of commercial access. First Nations dominated the fishery on the north and central coast once upon a time not that long ago. In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, they were the dominant players. They are not anymore. We hope to recover what we can there.
For these in the interior who are saying to you that they need a pipeline, that that’s the way for them to go, I don’t dismiss that. I think the greatness of Canada is that we can have different views and accommodate them. I think there is a role for adjustment and such through the Government of Canada if there is dislocation, be it in any sector or industry. I very much believe there is a role for government in that, but that doesn’t mean that you find a middle that satisfies none. I think that would be the wrong way to look at this.
When you think about bigger issues, and I really didn’t come here to speak about the climate considerations. One has to look beyond, as I say, the shorter term, 15 or 20 years, because what comes after the pipeline? How long will that industry go?
I’ve had experience through my work as a federal public servant, and I have to ask the question: Why are Indian reserves so co-located and associated with some of the most toxic waste sites in Canada? Why are Indian reserves in Canada so co-located with military sites in Canada? Cold Lake, the Tsilhqot’in gunnery reserve. There is a reason for that.
When we appeal to people and say, “Find the balance and let’s accommodate the pipelines,” I have to ask the question: in 15 or 20 years what comes after the pipeline? What I say to industry in our area is, “Let’s think about renewable energy, electricity, for example.” It’s a dialogue that we have with mining and LNG. If you have the foresight to look beyond when the mine will end and you have renewable power on site, maybe then another industry can come in and set up. Maybe you can have that data centre or whatever.
The modus operandi of mining, to be critical of mining, is that we have a string of mines with acid rock drainage across the North because what would they do? They would declare bankruptcy, and they would leave the public with the cleanup afterwards. That’s not across the board, but we have too many examples of that. Where are they situated? They are situated in traditional territories of First Nations.
I fear that, if balance is being sought, let’s give this opportunity, sure, but let’s look beyond 15 or 20 years.
Senator MacDonald: Thank you to both the witnesses. I have a question for both of you. We had a previous witness here talking about the amount of American money that is pouring into environmental organizations and different groups that are pushing back against development. The West Coast First Nations have received over $25 million from Tides Foundation and other organizations ,so I guess that’s helping to pay your salary and the same with our other friends on the East Coast who are backed up by Tides.
I’ll go first to the Sierra Club. We have met Ms. Fitzgerald before. You speak to the Arrow and the Kurdistan. I remember both of them very well. You may find this somewhat surprising, but to a certain extent I’m with you on taking heavy oil out of the interior waterways of the East Coast of Canada. I don’t see any reason why we should be tankering oil into our waters when we have other means of getting it. Right now these refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick are fed mostly by ships, pipelines or train.
Now, the ones in Quebec, we saw what happened in Lac-Mégantic when this highly volatile oil came up from North Dakota, and it was a disaster. On the other hand, we have seen Line 9 reversed, and instead of 12 per cent of the oil going to Quebec from the West it’s now almost 50 per cent. One way to get the heavy oil out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence would be to bring the oil from the west Canada the way they are doing it now.
Would you not agree with me that one of the best ways of getting oil out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and feeding the refineries in Quebec is to bring western oil by pipeline? That solves the problem.
Ms. Fitzgerald: Yes, like my colleagues say, the middle that satisfies none.
As you know, there is an imperative now to deal with the climate crisis, so that kind of investment, which would be decades long, would be a poor investment for everyone.
Senator MacDonald: With respect, I’m not talking about the climate crisis. I’m talking about refineries in Quebec that require so much oil a day, and right now the oil is coming in from all over the world through Nova Scotia waters to feed refinery stock in Quebec.
You need oil for them. Do you want to bring it in by train from North Dakota — you saw what happened — or do you want to bring it in from Western Canada, where it has tripled in the last few years to 50 per cent of it now, and nobody knows the difference? Nobody in Quebec notices the difference.
Ms. Fitzgerald: Yes. I think the crux of the issue for me is will we seek to deepen that investment?
It is unfortunate, I will say as a Canadian, that we did not invest more in refining and value added, and we are here today at a time of crisis. It’s a crisis in Alberta. I respect those people who are suffering. There’s also a global climate crisis —
Senator MacDonald: With all due respect, you haven’t answered the question.
Ms. Fitzgerald: — and for our senior leaders not to be creating the political will for what’s needed to deal with that crisis is a shame. I think seeking those solutions, there is a joke on the Internet: What do you call a solar energy spill? A sunny day.
There are solutions. They are going to create jobs. They are creating jobs now, and they will create more. That’s the direction we need to be steering in, and not looking to the past. These are former mistakes we’ve made, for sure.
We’re going to transition our economies, and we’re going to —
Senator MacDonald: With respect, operating and people working today in refineries in Quebec is not something in the past. It’s going on today. That’s produced every day so the province can function. If you shut down the refineries tomorrow, the province would stop functioning. It has to have petroleum.
Ms. Fitzgerald: Yes, but what you’re suggesting is a greater — if I’m understanding your question — investment in infrastructure and change. I would prefer, given what we are facing, that that investment go elsewhere to serve all the concerns that you raise, as well as the concern I think we all have, which is the climate crisis.
The Chair: Mr. Kariya, did you wish to add to that? I don’t know if there is much you can add, but you go ahead and try.
Mr. Kariya: On the first part of the senator’s comment about the $25 million from U.S. foundations, I’d like to respond to that.
Yes, we have partnerships, and we receive funds from U.S. foundations. Before my time there used to be a tripartite initiative called the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area, or PNCIMA. It’s an integrated marine planning initiative. The federal government pulled out of that under the previous government and left the two other partners high and dry, and that’s when the increased commitment from the foundations came about from the private sector.
Could I say what we’ve done with some of that money? I mentioned in my remarks that we have something called the Coast Tracker. We have the most integrative tool. Our guardians are out on the water with an iPad-based tool, and they track grizzly bears, recreational fishers, salinity and what’s going on with the water. They are climate monitors.
What we are offering British Columbia and Canada is to contract with us. These are where careers will come from. Let’s monitor what’s going on in the environment.
When I was first introduced to it, it was an amazing test. I had a guardian from one of the communities say, “Paul, how many times do you think DFO was out here last year or the conservation people from Victoria?” I knew the answer. It was one or two patrols, and you could see it on the map trace.
They said, “How often do you think we were out, and what we were collecting?” and you see this array of lines go. They are out there constantly. That’s a dataset that can be used over time. No one disputes this from either government. They don’t have the resources to be out there.
The $25 million, a good chunk of that comes from groups like the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. As you know, Gordon Moore was a co-founder of Intel. The technology in the Coast Tracker is innovative, world class, and that’s what our nations are doing with a good chunk of investment.
Has there been money received for an anti-oil campaign? I believe there was money received for the anti-Enbridge campaign, but not very much though. Nothing like the $25 million that we have received from those foundations.
Senator Galvez: To any of you: Recently an international report was released saying that we are facing the sixth mass species extinction. I think a lot of people don’t understand why we need to protect areas and why biologists are calling it the sixth mass species extinction.
Because we live in Canada and see a lot of green and wildlife, we think that we have a lot. But I know that we are behind, because Canada’s international engagement is to protect 17 per cent of wildlife in areas.
Could you please comment on how important biodiversity is and protecting biodiversity and wildlife?
Ms. Fitzgerald: That report was shattering, although maybe not surprising. It emphasized the impacts on human economies and cultures, which I think was deliberate, so that it was a wake-up call.
This fabric of life that we rely on, everything from bees to salmon, all of that system is what makes our quality of life better but actually sustains us as well. It helps purify the water and creates food resources for us to rely on. That whole fabric of life is being torn.
I think the Great Bear Rainforest is a globally significant example where we are trying to do the right thing. It has been attempted for decades.
To touch on the U.S. funding, Sierra Club Canada is not actually the recipient of large amounts of U.S. funding at the Canada foundation.
This is a globally significant ecosystem. It has garnered the attention of global philanthropy. Species that exist there cross borders. There are reasons why it is garnering this attention. It is not a bad thing that it’s attracting global attention. We are protecting a globally significant ecosystem in Canada, faced with the report you mentioned, senator.
Mr. Kariya: I can’t add to that. It’s as important as that.
Senator Gagné: I’d like your view on the movement of large quantities of LNG or refined petroleum products on the north coast of B.C. and if that is a concern for you or the groups that you represent?
Mr. Kariya: It’s a timely issue, and one that I’m struggling with as an adviser to the Coastal First Nations.
I don’t have a problem in saying that not all of our nations are on board with LNG. I’ll use rough numbers: Half of them are interested. The distinction they make is because, in the environment, it’s not a heavy oil. It dissipates.
Are they concerned about marine traffic? Absolutely. Some of them are against it because of the shipping concerns.
There are others, however, who have signed options agreements with the LNG players out of the need for opportunity. The challenge they have given like me in the Coastal First Nations is, “Do this in a sensitive way that keeps us together, as nations working together. If indeed this is the safest of the petroleum products we can do in a transition manner, show us the plan.”
Recently, I met with Shell and LNG Canada, and they have risen to the challenge — credit to them — on water use, on fracking, on certification in the marketplace, that this will displace coal and oil, that it truly can be the cleanest LNG in Canada. Then 30 years hence, what happens? Shell has indicated to us that they will be an energy company without petroleum products in the future.
Those topics interest our nations, but it’s not an easy subject at all, and I don’t have a quick solution on it. It is very different than Bill C-48. Bill C-48 they line up against solidly.
Ms. Fitzgerald: Briefly, in solidarity with Sierra Club B.C., we oppose the LNG project. Your question touches on the fact that this bill is actually a compromise already, and we would recommend the bill include different fuel types as well. It’s for climate considerations and also for coastal safety considerations.
Senator McCoy: In the interest of time, my question is for Mr. Kariya, but thank you both for being here and, as my colleague from Alberta said, for your passionate presentation.
I’m thinking of the proposal that the Heiltsuk First Nation has on its website and has shared with us for an Indigenous marine response centre. I think it is one of two that are needed in the North. This would be on the central coast, but we probably need one in the North as well. When the chief was here, she said that they have had inadequate response from the governments, plural, which I take to be the federal and the B.C. provincial governments. Could you give us the status of that proposal?
Mr. Kariya: I probably don’t have the latest information; that would be Heiltsuk business with both governments. I can say that marine response throughout the coast of British Columbia is not what it should be. Hence we, as Coastal First Nations and other First Nations, have entered into a reconciliation protocol with Canada that we are trying to draw British Columbia into as well, to address things like vessel management and marine safety.
It would be a framework out of which a full reconciliation agreement would be struck. It’s slow, bureaucratic and frustrating, but we have to get there. It is not even dealing with the possibility of anything as threatening as supertankers; it is just dealing with traffic today. You will note that case after case was mentioned from our leadership about incidents that have occurred. Even throughout the coast, if you think further down to where I grew up on the west coast of Vancouver Island, who were the first responders to the sinking of the whale tour boat off of Ahousaht? It was the First Nations, and similarly with the plane accident off Vargas Island.
They are there and they want to work with Canada and British Columbia. It is not there in terms of adequacy right now, but it is in progress.
Senator McCoy: I’m totally in support of those appeals, because they have some practical effect. I appreciate your comments, brief though they may be. Perhaps we will find some way of helping you on that with Bill C-48.
The Chair: What is the unemployment rate in the Coastal First Nations?
Mr. Kariya: For our fisheries reconciliation we did a review of the data, and the overall employment rate was similar to what it was in the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District, at something in excess of 15 per cent to 20 per cent. It’s not great. In terms of whether people have just dropped out and are not looking, the difficulty in doing the unemployment rate is those who are no longer in the workforce. We presented to the Government of Canada something in the order of 15 per cent.
The Chair: The percentage is 15 to 20, or 15?
Mr. Kariya: Something like that. It was a range.
The Chair: How do those people live?
Mr. Kariya: Unemployment is high, and social assistance is high. Those are factors that go with being on an Indian reserve community on the north and central coast of British Columbia, for sure.
The Chair: Is that a good way to live?
Mr. Kariya: No, it is not. I have so often from others about poverty and being impoverished. It’s not comparable to the level of living in an urban situation. If you compare the level of living to neighbouring non-native communities, where the unemployment is still high compared to Vancouver or Victoria, it’s not that different. People can still get country food, and that’s what’s important about living in many of these communities.
The earned income jobs may not be there, but people do want them. They want to be in the cash economy, but in terms of food and access to the supports of life, they can manage. Do we need to find economic opportunity? Absolutely. There is no argument there.
The Chair: That seems a little paternalistic to me.
Mr. Kariya: To provide economic opportunities?
The Chair: No, to say, “Well, gee, they are poor, but it’s a good kind of poor.”
Mr. Kariya: I think I mentioned the fish reconciliation initiative we have been leading. For the nearly two years I have been there, that’s been priority number one, and I don’t think it’s paternalistic to work on something like that, senator.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
(The committee adjourned.)