Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications

Issue 14 - Evidence, October 16, 2001


OTTAWA, Tuesday, October 16, 2001

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, to which was referred Bill C-14, respecting shipping and navigation and to amend the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 and other acts, met this day at 9:26 a.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Lise Bacon (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Welcome to this additional session on Bill C-14, to amend the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987 and other acts. At our last meeting, there was a fair amount of discussion on pleasure craft and pleasure craft in commercial use. Some issues were not completely clear to the committee, so we thought it would be helpful to hear further testimony.

Today we again have with us Mr. Vollmer of the Canadian Yachting Association. Representatives of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons were not able to attend on such short notice, but they and the Fédération de voile du Québec are pleased to have Mr. Vollmer speak on their behalf. Tomorrow we will hear officials from Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Before we hear from our witness and put questions to him, I should like to review a few points about the bill and our deliberations to date. Our parliamentary research makes clear that Part 10 of the bill, which outlines the responsibilities of Fisheries and Oceans for pleasure craft, is a new part, but the requirements for pleasure craft are not new, and the difference is that they are scattered throughout the current act. Let us be clear: we are not talking about a new regime; we are talking about a legislative update of what is in effect today. The same holds true for Part 11, enforcement. It is a new part, but it consolidates the existing enforcement provisions.

Whether the government has done an adequate job of educating the public about the rules and regulations or whether the enforcement has been adequate are other issues that we can discuss and which we will pursue tomorrow.

As well, we see the value of the jurisdiction being shared with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, being primarily concerned with pollution, prevention and pleasure craft, and Transport Canada, being concerned with commercial operations. We recognize the difficulties for owners and operators of pleasure craft that go in and out of commercial use, and we hope to discuss that further today and tomorrow. However, we want to make it clear that we accept the fundamental difference between a boat being used for personal recreational use and a boat that is providing a service to paying customers, even when it is the same boat. In the second instance, the person offering the service to the general public has obligations, and customers must be able to have reasonable expectations of safety. We hope the ways in which different personal and commercial safety standards are applied can be worked out, but the principle is clear.

I hope that making these several points at the outset will provide a useful background for our discussions today. With that, I would invite our witness to make his opening remarks. We thank Mr. Vollmer for taking the time to again appear before our committee. I look forward to hearing the questions that senators will to put to Mr. Vollmer.

Mr. Michael Vollmer, Vice-President, Recreation, Canadian Yachting Association: I thank the committee for taking such an great interest in the pleasure vessel community. It is heartening to see the government is indeed paying attention to us and that this bill, which governs all our actions, is being well scrutinized.

The pleasure vessel community has several minor concerns and one major concern with regard to this particular bill. Our focus is on Part 11 which, indeed, consolidates a number of the existing penalties, but it seeks to create a separate environment of both enforcement and penalty for commercial vessels as opposed to recreational vessels. This, we believe, will lead to uneven enforcement and a reduction in safety on the water.

In my previous notes to the committee, I have pointed out that there are literally almost 3 million boats operating on Canadian waters under the Canada Shipping Act. Transport Canada has no on-water presence to speak of, and this proposal to create a series of administrative penalties and violations as proposed under Part 11 will create a situation that we feel will lead to a lack of enforcement on commercial vessels. We would prefer to see all those regulations that are common to all vessels commonly enforced with a common penalty scheme. This includes regulations that the Transport Canada has kept for itself, such as collision regulations. Collision regulations, perhaps in the short form inappropriately named, are regulations for preventing collisions at sea. They govern from canoes to half-million-tonne crude carriers. Everybody plays by the same rules. There are other regulations, including the boating restriction regulations, which Transport Canada would have reserved under part Part 11 for themselves. We believe there is an important need for these common regulations to be commonly enforced.

Transport, at a recent meeting in St. Catharines, suggested that they may be willing to adopt the Contraventions Act, which would allow ticketing for all pleasure vessels and all commercial vessels less than 24 metres in length. Police and other enforcement agencies that do have an on-water presence would enforce the Contraventions Act. We feel this would be a big step forward. However, it is regulatory in nature, and the act at the present time does not address that.

The pleasure vessel community has debated this at length, and we have had, at best, preliminary discussions with Transport. They did not seem to realize the extent of their regulatory grasp until it was pointed out that indeed pleasure vessels were operating under these common regulations. We think there has been, perhaps, a lack of consultation, though Transport of late seems to be more amenable to that. We ask this committee to take a long, hard look at these proposals and, if necessary, ensure that Transport does have adequate consultation and that these regulations are passed for the benefit of all Canadians.

Virtually every second Canadian goes out in a small boat at least once a year. It is a ubiquitous part of life in Canada. Per capita, we have two-and-one-half times as many boats as Americans. We are an extraordinarily boating-oriented country, and this is an extremely important bill for all citizens of this country.

Senator Oliver: You are concerned about more consultation with the department and the fact that the department is decriminalizing certain things. You stated that many of the offences or contraventions were previously not so much criminal but more administrative matters, and that that creates confusion on the seas. Can these matters be resolved by regulations rather than being covered by this legislation? If so, and since you have been having good and improving consultations with the department, is that not the way to go?

Mr. Vollmer: Our experience with Transport over a number of years has been somewhat uneven. Promises of future consultation are important, and a commitment to that goal is important, but those promises and that commitment are have not materialized. Our concern is that we could have legislation which permits them to act in a manner which does not fully take into account the concerns of the biggest fleet in Canada, any way you would like to measure it, whether by numbers, weight, dollar value or economic impact.

Certainly there is an opportunity to address this in regulation and Transport Canada has suggested that they might do that. However, I would like a strong message to be sent to Transport Canada.

Senator Oliver: Perhaps we could do that by way of a memorandum or a note. We certainly we do not require amendments to the legislation to do just that.

Mr. Vollmer: I agree. At the last meeting I attended, it was suggested that some of the regulations could be referred to this committee for review. That, I think, would be a positive step. Although it would add an extra bureaucratic step, it would certainly ensure that the views of the pleasure boat community would, in fact, be well heard and well understood.

Senator Oliver: You said that these provisions would lead to a reduction in safety on the water. You did not say that they would have a positive impact. In what ways will these provisions reduce safety on the water?

Mr. Vollmer: If a small commercial vessel, which could be a water taxi or any small boat that is engaged in a commercial purpose, is being operated in a negligent or unsafe manner, this proposed legislation will not permit a police officer to board that vessel, and it will not permit a police officer to charge the owner or operator of that vessel with unsafe operation. We see these vessels, in essence, operating outside of an enforcement environment. The penalty clauses proposed by Transport Canada are administrative penalties. The first response from Transport will be a letter stating. "Please do not do that again." If I were operating that same vessel as a pleasure vessel operator in the same manner, I would immediately get a ticket from a police officer. They are creating parallel regimes of enforcement and penalty, and the two do not match.

This could affect a significant number of boats, probably 60,000 to 100,000. How many of these boats will be operated depends on the definition of "commercial" vessel. These vessels operate in every area in Canada, including False Creek in Vancouver and Honey Harbour on Georgian Bay. There are many small commercial boats. A marina's water taxi will be out there operating in the midst of the recreational fleet. Under this proposed act, it will be operating without supervision and with a penalty scheme that consists of, basically, a slap on the wrist. The provisions will have no teeth.

Senator Oliver: Or a fine.

Mr. Vollmer: Or a fine.

Senator Callbeck: The last time you were here, if I recall correctly, you talked about the economic burden for pleasure crafts to upgrade to commercial. If you have a pleasure craft and, for one month of the year, you want to use it for commercial purposes, what is involved?

Mr. Vollmer: At the present time, Transport has suggested that once a vessel is used on a commercial basis for any reason and for any length of time, it will henceforth and forever be considered to be a commercial vessel. At that point, in many instances, the operator of the vessel is required to have some from of certification. The personal flotation device, which has been a tremendous boon for on-water safety, the vest-type life jacket, is no longer permissible. The requirement is for the use of a small-vessel life jacket, which is much bigger and less likely to be worn.

The vessels themselves must meet different construction standards. There is certainly discussion within Transport Canada about applying stability tests and requirements for water-tight windows, hatches, port lights and doors, which are fundamental safety issues. However, if a vessel is used on a commercial basis, there is an economic impact.

The Canadian Yachting Association has great concern about one specific commercial use of these vessels. Presently our association trains tens of thousands of people a year in boating. Only part of the training is done in the classroom. We actually take our students out on sailboats and powerboats and teach them how to boat. Most of the bigger boats that are used for overnight training, including teaching navigational techniques, are part of charter fleets. The boat owner may be trying to recover some of his costs by renting his boat. The schools will use a charter service boat. If the boat is classed as a commercial vessel because it is "carrying passengers," then the next person to operate the boat must have a limited masters ticket, and the boat must have new safety equipment. The boat may have to be rebuilt to approved plans. We are very concerned about all sorts of things.

Within the bill there is a provision to create vessels of a prescribed class and persons of a prescribed class, which means that Transport could designate these people as being recreational boaters learning about recreational boats on a recreational boat, rather than being a commercial operation. Money does change hands for people to go out on a boat but, fundamentally, we are teaching recreational boaters how to boat, and that is an important safety issue. We want them to be better boaters. We do not want to cut back on this. I surveyed every one of our training schools in the country, and they all said they would be out of business if they were classed as commercial vessels for the economic impact reasons and other issues that we have talked about. We have discussed this area with Transport for almost two years, and we have not had an answer from them.

I understand Transport is about to hire somebody to help solve this problem. That is indicative of the lack of understanding of the small vessel community in Canada. Transport has an excellent record with big ships. However, that is not the case with respect to smaller vessels. It occasionally crushes our toes a bit.

Senator Callbeck: Many people in my community have pleasure craft that become commercial vessels for a month or so in the summer.

Will we be hearing from the departmental officials tomorrow?

The Chairman: Yes.

Senator Spivak: Mr. Vollmer, you have illustrated an important point regarding safety on the water. What other concerns do you have with regard to safety on the water? Of the 3 million boats that you say we have in Canada, how many commercial boats would fit into this category? I am referring to small boats that are sometimes used for training or for hire. Where are those boats concentrated?

Mr. Vollmer: There are no legitimate estimates of how many vessels may become commercial vessels. Presently, the government does not have a good handle on it, because there is no such designation.

Senator Spivak: Am I correcting in my understanding that the federal government does not license them?

Mr. Vollmer: All vessels over 10-horse power are required to be licensed. There is an upper limit, which is presently 15 tons, at which they have to move on to the ship registry.

Senator Spivak: I understand they are not licensed by the federal government.

Mr. Vollmer: They are licensed by the federal government. The federal government controls all navigation in Canada. It is a seamless system. This bill is so important because it does cover all boats in the country. The boats are not licensed from a business point of view. They are licensed based on the type of vessel. At the present time, all boats over 10-horse power must be licensed. At a certain size they must move on to the registry. The business licence aspect is a separate issue.

The federal government is trying to create a small vessel registry with this bill. All small commercial boats will be on that registry and will be easily identified.

Senator Spivak: Are you saying that they are licensed but not registered?

Mr. Vollmer: They could be either.

Senator Spivak: You told us that 3 million boats are on the water. Could you hazard a guess as to how many boats this particular provision would encompass? In my view, safety is a huge consideration, but I do not know if it is the highest priority.

Mr. Vollmer: It certainly is. I think I can give you some answers.

The number of vessels that qualify to be classified as smaller commercial vessels ranges from 60,000 to 300,000, which is a significant number.

As to the issue of safety, I would say that boating in Canada is a surprisingly safe sport. It is several times safer than driving a car. The majority of fatalities are a result of people falling overboard, either tipping a boat over or somehow ending up in the water and drowning, typically because they are not wearing a life jacket.

A number of accidents each year are collision-type accidents. Collisions between boats cause any number of injuries.

The creation of parallel enforcement environments, where the collision regulations would remain with Transport in an area where we do not see adequate enforcement, or even a presence on the water, and a penalty scheme with which we disagree, leads us to believe there will be a decrease in safety and an increase in on-water incidents which are not dealt with properly. It is my experience that almost everybody slows down if a police officer is parked by the side of the highway. If trucks were not policed by police officers, they would be driven the passing lane at 200 kilometres an hour because nobody could touch them. We are worried about this kind of scenario developing on the water.

Senator Spivak: Are you saying that another problem is inadequate enforcement of the existing regulations? Would you say that is a proper statement?

Mr. Vollmer: No. At the present time, the collision regulations and the sailing rules are not part of the Contraventions Act. Police have asked a number of times that the provisions be placed in that. This is part of ongoing discussions.

I sit as a director of the Canadian Safe Boating Council which has made representations in the House of Commons about this matter. We are concerned about safety across the board. We see an opportunity to create clarity with the passage of this bill, and it may lead to improved safety on the water through better uniform enforcement. We believe the bill is flawed. We have brought this forward on a number of occasions.

Senator Spivak: Do you feel that policy, the general national regime, for pleasure craft on Canadian lakes and rivers is adequate? Apart from speed, what other things might contribute to a lack of safety on the water?

Mr. Vollmer: Enforcement is the stick. The carrot is education. The federal government has moved forward, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans deserves great credit for creating the pleasure craft operators card, which requires people to at least pass a test so they can say they know this is the pointy end, this is the blunt end, this is one side of the boat and that is the other side. They have some understanding of the rules that govern boating.

The other aspect is safe vessels and safe equipment on board those vessels. We have seen a decline in boating fatalities since the adoption of floatation devices in boats and the development of the PFDs. Since the late 1960s, there has been a 600 per cent decrease in boating fatalities. That based on the number of boats tripling and the fatalities falling by a factor of three. There has been a tremendous improvement but there is a long way to go. Approximately 200 people in Canada die each year in boating accidents which are mostly entirely preventable. We want to put in place another leg. We need better enforcement. We have education and safe boats. Enforcement issues are key. This bill opens the door to decreasing enforcement, not increasing it.

Senator Spivak: You think the present regime is adequate, but this particular item that you have brought to our attention would be of utmost importance and is a high priority in your mind; is that right?

Mr. Vollmer: It is certainly a high priority. I would not say the current system is adequate. I say that because between Bill C-15 and Bill C-35 there have been a couple of changes which have reduced the enforcement agency's ability to board commercial vessels.

Senator Spivak: What are the elements that make up the pleasure craft community? Who makes up that community? I know the organizations you represent. Who else makes up the pleasure craft community?

Mr. Vollmer: Probably everyone in this room. I know that you are a pleasure boater, senator. You have a boat on your lake. You probably also have a canoe at the cottage and a small sailboat. People keep boats in their backyards and the engines in the garage. In general, Canadians use the waters to a great extent.

Senator Spivak: So it is the opinion of those individuals that count and not just the opinions of the organizations you represent; is that right?

Mr. Vollmer: In any democracy there are many unengaged people. Those who are more interested and concerned tend to belong to organizations which promote things like safety.

Senator LaPierre: I am at a loss here. When you talk about enforcement, you seem to have two views. Let me elaborate for a moment. If I have understood you correctly, you are saying that the enforcement of legislation concerning smaller vessels could be undertaken through the Contraventions Act, whereby a police officer of the municipality of Vancouver, for example, could board vessels and make arrests. Is that what you want?

Mr. Vollmer: Yes.

Senator LaPierre: Police officers could issue a ticket, just as they do on the road, and the boat operator would have to pay the fine, or his or her licence could be removed, and the boat could also be confiscated; is that right?

Mr. Vollmer: In extreme circumstances they can seize a vessel, yes.

Senator LaPierre: Is it possible to have enforcement without regulation, without a traffic code and without penalties?

Mr. Vollmer: Yes.

Senator LaPierre: That would govern every single vessel on the lakes and rivers, whether it be a canoe, a kayak or a sailboat that is 10 feet long or 70 feet long. Are you in agreement with that?

Mr. Vollmer: Currently there are uniform regulations for all those vessels. They govern the operation of the vessels and the speed limits that Senator Spivak spoke about. Those are presently in place.

The dichotomy is that the bill tries to create a separate enforcement regime and penalty scheme for commercial vessels.

Senator LaPierre: We will come to that.

Mr. Vollmer: Presently, there are sufficient regulations to ensure safe boating.

Senator LaPierre: There is a category of boats including those used for pleasure that are not used at all for commercial purposes. I lived in British Columbia for 15 years and I sailed an enormous amount. In fact, it was the only time I was happy. However, I saw a whole lot of nasty things.

The committee will have to determine whether the regulations or the provisions of the proposed legislation will permit what you are after, which is better control and the ability to catch the person who is not behaving appropriately on the water.

Mr. Vollmer: Absolutely.

Senator LaPierre: In terms of commercial craft, I sympathize with your point of view. However, you cannot have your cake and eat it, too. If my family and I find someone who wants to rent to us a nice 39-foot sailboat, and I rent this boat, I want a guarantee that there is proper insurance and the boat is equipped with all appropriate safety features. I do not wish my family or anyone else to be put into jeopardy. If that boat is presented as a commercial venture, then it falls into a different category.

[Translation]

Madam Chair said: "We want to make it clear that we accept the fundamental difference between a boat being used for personal recreational use and a boat that is providing a service to paying customers, even if it is the same boat."

[English]

Certainly, there is a distinction to be made.

Mr. Vollmer: There is, senator, and you have touched on a fundamental point. Somebody, who knows nothing about boating, who goes down to the end of the pier and says, "Here is $5. I want to go for a boat ride" should be considered to be in a separate category. The vessel should be checked by a third party. The crew should be certified by a third party. This is what Transport Canada does to ensure public safety on what is, in essence, public transport.

The difference is a subtle one. If I rent my friend's boat and he receives money, I assume responsibility for the boat and the people onboard. It is a bare-boat charter. In fact, if I rent a boat and a skipper with the boat, then again I am assuming the responsibility. First-time charter party arrangements were written down in what is called the doomsday book. It is a fairly well understood point of admiralty law.

When you are no longer renting the boat and assuming responsibility for it, you become a passenger rather than the temporary owner of the boat.

Senator LaPierre: When I rent a car from a rental company, that company has the responsibility to rent me a safe car. It seems to me that the same should apply if I rent a friend's boat. I must have guarantees. Furthermore, the owner know that I can sail that boat because the fundamental responsibility for the vessel itself belongs to the owner. He would not be stupid enough to rent me a boat and I do not know how to sail. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that you do not want to admit that these little pleasure craft can become commercial vessels that have to be guided, supervised and handled in a completely different way.

Mr. Vollmer: I would like to respond to your analogy of the car rental. If you go to a car rental company, then that company will ask you if you assume the responsibility for that car. You are asked if you want to buy their insurance or if you will provide your own insurance. If you get a speeding ticket, you are responsible for paying it. All they are doing is giving you four wheels and a bunch of doors. You are still responsible for the use of the vehicle and any damage to it. They have a certain duty to give you a safe car.

In our presentation, we say there are clauses of the bill, such as those which deal with personal contracts of employment, authorized representatives and safety of persons onboard, which strictly and purely apply to commercial situations.

If there is a contract to employ someone on a ship, the ship has to be safe. The authorized representative for the ship has to ensure it is a safe ship. The owner has to ensure the vessel is safe. The master has to ensure there is adequate training of the people on board for emergencies, et cetera. This is not mirrored on the recreational side at the present time. In our brief, we ask that it be mirrored and that the owner of a vessel be responsible to ensure that the vessel is safe and that the master be required to operate the vessel in a manner that is safe. There is some discussion in admiralty law circles that, at the present time, civil law deals with the owner's responsibility, whereas in the bill it is clear, on commercial vessels, that the owner and the master of the vessel have different responsibilities. The clauses in question are 85, 106 and 109 in Parts 3 and 4.

To come back to your point, though, when you charter a pleasure vessel, you charter it as such. The expectation is that you will share it with your friends and family. You will not be paid to take people out on that boat. You are simply renting a boat to take your family out sailing or power boating or whatever. It is still a recreational vessel, not a commercial operation.

Senator LaPierre: I would have to be a Jesuit to understand that. If I understand correctly, you disagree with the principle that the chair read at the beginning of the committee: We want to make it clear that there is a fundamental difference between a boat being used for personal recreational use and a boat that is providing a service to paying customers.

Mr. Vollmer: I agree entirely with that.

Senator LaPierre: You say that if I charter a boat, it is no longer a commercial vessel but, rather, a recreational vessel which happens to have Laurier LaPierre on board.

Mr. Vollmer: You are assuming the responsibility. As a paying passenger, you do not assume the responsibility for your safe carriage. The vessel owner and vessel master have been paid to ensure that you get to the other shore. When you rent a boat to take your friends out, you are simply saying, "Come out for a picnic. Go swimming in my backyard pool. If you fall in and drown, sorry."

Senator Oliver: Who has the responsibility to protect the public in that case?

Mr. Vollmer: As I understand it, it is a matter of civil law rather than admiralty law. The person operating the boat must operate it in a safe manner. The bill, from a commercial point of view, does specify clearly that the owner and master of the vessel have duties, and those are not mirrored on the pleasure vessel side. We suggest they should be mirrored on the pleasure vessel side.

Senator LaPierre: If I understand correctly - that is a big "if" - if I approach you and I rent your 34-foot pleasure craft and sail off with it, I am totally responsible for it, and it remains a pleasure boat. If, on the other hand, I say to you, "I cannot operate it. Please sail this ship for me and my family," it is your boat and you are totally responsible. It becomes a commercial vessel and is subject to all the penalties applied to commercial vessels.

Mr. Vollmer: That is very close to the ideal, yes.

Senator LaPierre: So you are making a distinction.

Mr. Vollmer: Yes.

Senator LaPierre: Is it the responsibility of the owner of a vessel which is rented to me to stipulate conditions as would a car rental company? They have a whole series of contractual arrangements. Does that happen?

Mr. Vollmer: Some charter operators are very sophisticated and do have comprehensive conditions.

Senator LaPierre: We are not talking about them. We are talking about you renting me your little boat.

Mr. Vollmer: It is chartering a vessel, and it does not matter if it is a rowboat or a 79,000 foot long whatever. Chartering is renting a vessel.If I charter it and I assume the responsibility, then it can remain as a pleasure vessel. If I go to you and say, "Take me out for sail. Here $10 for me, $10 for my wife and $5 for both the kids," that is a passenger-carrying operation.

Senator LaPierre: It is then a commercial vehicle.

Mr. Vollmer: Yes.

Senator LaPierre: Is it therefore subject to all the laws applying to commercial vehicles?

Mr. Vollmer: Absolutely.

Senator LaPierre: Including going to jail or paying huge fines?

Mr. Vollmer: Absolutely. We agree with that. A number of charlatans attempt to quote charter vessels when in fact they are carrying passengers, and Transport Canada has been doing a good job of cracking down on that.

Senator Finestone: Am I correct in saying, Mr. Vollmer, that there is a degree of clarity in the bill, and that is dispersed throughout the bill? You, however, have pointed to one part of the bill which you say lacks precision. You say that pleasure craft are covered in the bill, but because of the various regimes involved here, there is a lack of precision and clarity. Would I be right in making that observation?

Mr. Vollmer: I suppose every cloud has a silver lining. We agree with large sections of the bill, but our central concern is and remains Part 11 because it creates parallel enforcement and penalty regimes which we feel strongly will be a detriment to adequate safety on the water.

Senator Finestone: If you had a magic want, what would you do to clarify and make more precise Part 11?

Mr. Vollmer: In our proposal, we talk about the enforcement officer, and that role defined. We suggest that the definition in Part 10, the pleasure vessel section, should be used throughout the bill. That would allow police agencies to adequately enforce laws that are common to all vessels - collision regulations, boating restriction regulations and small vessel regulations. We are not interested in a police officer enforcing the ship's tackle regulations or the requirements for cooks on ships. That is none of our business. We do not want that. We want our environment to be a common environment with the commercial vessels, so that we are assured that any transgression on the water will be dealt with quickly and in a fair and common manner.

The proposals that Transport Canada recently made to allow all commercial vessels under 24 metres in length to be policed under the Contraventions Act by police agencies would go a long way to ameliorating our concerns. There would have to be some clarification of the clauses which permit enforcement officers to board vessels. If those changes were made, we would have a better bill, and we would certainly support it.

Senator Finestone: Is there a need to change the language in the bill itself, or could this be accomplished through regulations?

Mr. Vollmer: I would suggest there would have to be a language change.

Senator Finestone: Have you given some thought to the nature of the language change, and have you discussed that with the department?

Mr. Vollmer: In our discussions with the department we have been trying to raise the department's awareness of the issue. Presently, the department is developing that awareness. They have made proposals that have not been well thought-out from the broader boating community's point of view. They have approached me and several other people saying that they want to sit down and work this out. Perhaps it can be regulatory.

A number of amendments to the bill were proposed in the Canadian Yachting Association's brief, both here and to the House of Commons. These amendments, if adopted, would help. Certainly, I know that the pleasure vessel community would be happy to sit down with Transport and sort this out as quickly as possible. There is a lot of expertise on our side of the table that we are perfectly willing to share.

Senator Finestone: I would have presumed, Mr. Vollmer, that the department, having noted that the Senate committee has not been prepared to pass the bill because we have a concern for the citizens of Canada, the ordinary people who use pleasure craft, would have been in touch with you and discussed this by now. Are you telling me they still have not talked to you?

Mr. Vollmer: No. In fact, I think they got the message loud and clear after the last meeting, and they have approached me.

Senator Finestone: What has happened since then?

Mr. Vollmer: It has been mostly talk. There has been no action to this point in time.

Senator Finestone: Have you had direct meetings with them?

Mr. Vollmer: I attended a meeting in St. Catherines, of the Central Region Marine Advisory Coucil, which is chaired jointly by DFO and Transport. That was followed by two days of introduction to the Canada Shipping Act amendments by the Department of Transport.

That was probably the first time I attended a meeting with Transport where they listened almost as much as they talked. That is a big step forward. Several senior officials at that meeting did assure me that they were more aware of our concerns and would want to work them out with us. That meeting was held within the past three or four weeks. There have been no formal meetings yet. The Canadian Marine Advisory Council meets at the beginning of November in Ottawa, and I presume that, at that time, there will be a more serious engagement on these issues.

Senator Finestone: The bill before us has been passed by the House of Commons, so I am sure that enough attention was paid to this particular aspect of the bill. We have expressed our interest and our concern, and the department has now spoken to you. In the best interests of all concerned, both pleasure craft owners and users, should this bill go through with a strong message to the government that it needs to work on the regulations? Should the bill be passed only with amendments? As it is, would it touch on safety issues?

Mr. Vollmer: I would suggest that there should be a number of amendments, For example, under "Definitions," the enforcement officer definition should be made broader. These are covered and laid out in the CYA's brief to the committee.

Senator Spivak: My understanding is there will be extensive, nation-wide public consultations on the regulations, which will take several years. It is not as if the department has not had public consultations, but it will have more extensive public consultation. However, that does not respond to Senator Finestone's concern as to whether we should amend the bill or look to the regulations. That was the department's intention prior to this gentleman's testimony, and perhaps it will only be reinforced by this gentleman's testimony.

The Chairman: That is why we will be meeting again with the departmental officials.

Senator Finestone: Regarding the Part 11 enforcement, you say that the entire clause creates a parallel set of violations to be dealt with through administrative penalties through clauses 228 and 244 and you do not believe this supposed system will serve the best interests of the boating public. You suggest that Part 11 be deleted from the proposed act until such time as the entire enforcement policy has been rethought.

You are concerned in 228 about the concept of a violation creating a second stream for enforcement of the act and the regulations, and you are opposed to this concept for the reasons that you have stated.

Mr. Vollmer: Yes.

Senator Finestone: You have discussed these with members of the department, and they seem to understand your concerns, although you say that, if they are not boaters, they do not understand the situation from a recreational boating perspective. Is that what I am learning?

Mr. Vollmer: That is pretty much the situation. They are unhappy to deal with any vessel less than 10,000 tonnes.

Senator Finestone: I believe Senator Fitzpatrick said it is better to have one department than two departments with the responsibilities being divided. I will leave that up to him to follow through.

Senator Fitzpatrick: It do not believe I raised that topic.

Senator Finestone: Perhaps it was Senator Banks.

In your remarks, Madam Chairman, you touched on all these points. Can we anticipate further discussion with the department on the issues?

The Chairman: Yes.

Senator Finestone: Frankly, and I think the distinctions must be made. There needs to be a great deal more clarity regarding federal, provincial and municipal responsibilities, so that the civil law is clarified.

Senator Spivak: We should know all of that.

The Chairman: Those questions can be asked tomorrow.

Senator Finestone: I hope the representatives of the department are aware of what is being said today and that the department will look at all the interconnecting links and satisfy us that this can be handled to allow for cohesion, reduction of confusion and uniform enforcement. Then the pleasure craft community and Canadians can have confidence in this act.

We can discuss with the department the need for specifically targeted regulations and, perhaps, a delay in the application of the law, until such time as we have had the opportunity to review the regulations as a committee, bearing in mind our own observations here. I hope that framework is clear.

Senator Adams: Activities on the water can include many things. For example, in would include sports fishers on rivers and river craft. Are those activities covered by your organization, or do sports fishers have their own organization? How does that work?

Mr. Vollmer: There are as many different type of boating associations as there are different types of boats in Canada. No one organization represents them all. The Canadian Yachting Association tends to represent owners and operators of larger boats, sail and power. Since the 1930s, it has been a major training organization.

The Canadian Power and Sail Squadron, of which I am a member, is another training organization, and it wrote a glowing letter about me - a letter that I am slightly embarrassed about - allowing me to speak on its behalf. It has done a tremendous job of training people. It exists as a training organization. Those who train with that organization tend to be power boaters.

There are associations of anglers and hunters who use smaller boats. There are wind surfing associations, canoe associations, and associations which cover all sorts of paddle sports. There are many different organizations. Many organizations belong to the Canadian Safe Boating Council, which promotes boating safety. They try to act as a group. The approach to consultation is interesting, and Senator Finestone has raised the point.

The Canadian Coast Guard used to be a top-down organization. Most of the people were ex-shipmasters whose concept of consultation was: "I thought I gave you an order!" The Canadian Coast Guard has done a splendid job of totally altering its culture. It now sits down regularly with the recreational community at both national and regional levels, and it asks about the community's concerns and what needs to be done.

Transport still tends to be a top-down organization. We have very good relations with the Coast Guard which has reached out to many of these disparate boating groups. We urge Transport Canada to adopt a similar model.

Senator Adams: What is the difference between the regulations that cover the seas and those that apply to the lakes?

Mr. Vollmer: The regulations and the legislation governing boating are federal. They are uniform from coast to coast. The Constitution Act reserves for the federal government all maritime transport, which includes pleasure boats. This has led to a positive environment in many cases, where we do have good common regulations.

The American example is quite the contrary. Everybody including the dogcatcher can set boating regulations. The Indian River in Florida covers 23 different jurisdictions in 21 miles, each with its own rules.

Senator Adams: Should Bill C-14 cover only commercial vessels, and should there be separate legislation to cover recreational vessels?

Where I live many people go pleasure hunting for seal, walrus and whale, although it is not really considered to be a water sport. The RCMP, which is the local law enforcement agency in the territories, enforces the laws and bylaws in the communities in the North.

Mr. Vollmer: We have been well served by the common federal regulations, and I would not advocate that there be two pieces of legislation. As pointed out, many of the regulations are common to both recreational and commercial vessels. If we had two sets of right-of-way rules, for example, it would be chaotic. We are worried about enforcing one set of rules, not creating another.

Our community has been well served by the Canada Shipping Act. It has created responsibilities for us, as well as having given us certain privileges. If you register your vessel, you can take it anywhere in the world, and it is a little bit of Canada. That has been a positive thing. We have uniform application of boating restrictions. There are methods for putting in place speed limits and horsepower limits, et cetera. It is positive; and it works well. There are aspects in this bill that we see as divisive rather than cohesive. We believe that what we have had in the past is positive. We seek to craft better legislation.

Senator Adams: What do you think about the regulations governing vessels longer than 42 feet and the need for a captain?

Mr. Vollmer: I believe the crewing regulations have been amended recently, although I am not sure on this point. They are virtually the only ones that speak to the need for masters on pleasure vessels over 25 metres in length, which is approximately 65 feet.

Senator Spivak: Madam Chairman, if we are serious about all the issues concerning boating safety, should we not hear from other organizations?

The Chairman: The clerk contacted many organizations and their representatives said that Mr. Vollmer was the appropriate spokesperson.

Senator Spivak: I am talking about those who canoe, as well as others, not necessarily those operating motor boats.

The Chairman: Let us wait and see how you feel after we have heard the information from both departments. We need to know more. If we conclude that our knowledge is incomplete, then we will decide to hear other people.

The committee adjourned.