Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 16 - Evidence - June 21, 2005
OTTAWA, Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, theEnvironment and Natural Resources, to which wasreferred Bill S-
12, concerning personal watercraft in navigable waters, met this day at 5:12 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.
Senator Tommy Banks (Chairman) in the chair.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, I call the meeting to order.
Appearing before us today in our consideration of Bill S-12, an act concerning personal watercraft in navigable
waters, are witnesses from Transport Canada, from the Canadian Marine Manufacturers Association and from
Bombardier Recreational Products.
Mr. John Forster, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security, Transport Canada: As you are all very
familiar with this topic, I will only touch briefly on how our current legislation and process works with regard to
personal watercraft, some of the ways we think we could improve on the existing regime to make it more efficient, and
a couple of issues that Bill S-12 may raise if it proceeds.
The Canada Shipping Act and its regulations allow us to restrict the use and operation of vessels on specific bodies
of water. We have a regulation that stipulates that no person shall, in the inland waters within Ontario, Manitoba,
Saskatchewan, Alberta or B.C., operate a power-driven vessel at a speed in excess of 10 kilometres an hour within 30
metres of the shore. Nova Scotia has recently said that they would like to be included in that. Other provinces have
different restrictions, so the mechanism is there.
As you know, the present regime also allows specified groups to propose restrictions on specific bodies of water.
There are presently some 2,000 such restrictions in place through the government's regulatory process through
Transport Canada and the Minister of Transport. Under this process, cottage associations can consult locally to try to
reach a consensus on possible restrictions for a specific water body. They submit those to the municipality, which
submits them to the province. They come to Transport Canada, and we go through a regulatory process on that.
We were asked whether there are some changes or options we could recommend that would improve our process for
dealing with this issue and may obviate the need for separate legislation to deal only with personal watercraft. We
thought we could proceed with a new set of operating guidelines for personal watercraft based on the U.S. Personal
Watercraft Industry Association model bill, with which I believe most honourable senators are familiar, so I will not go
into the details of it.
Since the problems are created by the behaviour of the persons operating these craft, those guidelines would lay out
clear guidance, procedures and operating practices. We would promote those on the department's website and create
public education pamphlets to be distributed through our own offices, as well as in partnership with boating safety
people, to try to educate the public about the proper use of personal watercraft.
Second, we could expand our public education initiatives and work with municipalities to try to get them to post
more signage at key locations, such as marinas and boat ramps, notifying the public of the details of section 43 of the
small vessel regulations, which deals with careless operation of a vessel. In that way, the public would be well aware of
what is and is not acceptable.
We would try to launch a program in cooperation with the manufacturers and enforcement community to raise
awareness of what constitutes safe and acceptable operation of personal watercraft as a way to promote safe boating.
Third, we could amend the boating regulations and consider adding a schedule that requires more of a straight-line
course near the shore for operators of motor vessels. It could be, for example, that within 200 metres of a shore you
must travel perpendicular to the shore rather than parallel to it, near to where people are swimming.
In this case, local authorities, after consultation with residents on a lake, could request that their waterway be added
to a new schedule. This would ensure that swimmers, kayakers, canoeists and others enjoying the shore would not be
accidentally injured by careless use of a watercraft. This would significantly reduce the problems with which Bill S-12
tries to deal. We could possibly adopt these as part of our reform of the Canada Shipping Act. We will be rewriting all
the regulations under that act between now and the end of 2006. That is a major regulatory revision. We would need to
have more discussion on it with the safe boating community, the industry and the provinces, but that may be an
Finally, we understand that the time we take to manage requests for boating restrictions through the regulatory
process is also a concern that has led to the drafting of the bill. We are somewhat restricted by the government's
regulatory process. It is not optional. There are certain procedures and legal processes we must go through. We have to
do certain cost/benefit analyses and hold adequate public consultations, so there are limits on how fast this can be
done. However, we think that Transport Canada can and will improve its performance in processing these requests for
amendments to the regulations. Part of our problem in the last couple of years has been the transfer of this function
from DFO to Transport Canada. Getting that transfer in place has slowed us down in the last year. That is now
completed and we will be able to perform much better. As well, I am sure that the Department of Transport will do a
much better job than the Department of Fisheries and Oceans could.
These options focus on three areas: First, greater public education and awareness among the operators; second,
possible regulatory initiatives to deal with near-shore use of vessels; and third, a commitment from us to expedite
processing of proposals. There may be further things we can do in partnership with industry and others in the boating
safety community. These measures would go a long way toward addressing some of the concerns that many people
have and would avoid some of the problems that may arise from Bill S-12, such as having more than one piece of
legislation dealing with the same issue.
It would avoid any risk there may be in targeting a specific type of vessel in one piece of legislation, and it would
avoid having a piece of legislation that may put us in the difficult position of not being able to meet the regulatory
process and rules of the government.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes our remarks. We are committed to finding ways to improve boater safety in Canada
and reduce inappropriate behaviour. I and my colleagues are at your disposal.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Forster.
Senator Buchanan: I have no questions, but I do wish to thank these gentlemen for coming here. I think your brief is
excellent. I have no questions because I think you covered the waterfront, if you will pardon the pun.
Senator Angus: Gentlemen, I am sorry we did not have the pleasure of seeing you here on Bill C-15, because I am
sure you could have enlightened us. It is very interesting how you were kept in the closet. I worked hard on your behalf.
One reason for having these hearings is that some senators, including me, were not members when this bill came
before earlier iterations of this committee. I have come with a totally open mind.
If I understood the last part of your introduction, Mr. Forster, the department does not support this bill, does it?
Mr. Forster: We feel that the existing act and the regulations cover this area. I do not think it is for us to support or
not support it. We would have concerns about duplication in the legislation and how that would work. We think the
tools are there, but we need to do a better job of making them work, frankly, and there are perhaps some non-
legislative ways that we can all achieve the same goal.
Senator Angus: I thought I heard you use the word ``could'' quite often, and I am sure that was on purpose. I
thought I heard you say, ``We will try to deal with some of the many problems we have with this bill.'' I do not want to
put words in your mouth, but that was the impression I got. As I say, I have a totally open mind on it. I know some
other members of this committee are strongly in support of the bill. We try to be unanimous when we can here. I would
like to find out what these problems are, have them crystallized.
Mr. Forster: Just looking at my text, I said that some of the proposals we are talking about to improve our
performance could address many of the concerns that led to this bill.
Senator Angus: Right.
Mr. Forster: It was not so much my concerns with the bill. It was trying to deal with the issues and problems that led
to the drafting of a bill. Some of the proposals we are talking about would hopefully improve the situation.
Senator Angus: Is part of your hope that you could satisfactorily address these previously expressed concerns based
on your belief that Bill C-3 will pass? Does that have anything to do with it?
Mr. Forster: For the transfer?
Senator Angus: Yes. There appear, to me at least, to be many issues that lead to delays, because there is multi-
jurisdictional authority on matters maritime inter alia in Canada. I have some experience in maritime matters. I do not
profess to be an expert, but I have seen big problems in the maritime sector, including the small boat, small craft sector,
since 1995, when certain of Transport Canada's powers were transferred to Fisheries and Oceans and elsewhere. I
listened the other night to the minister and some of your colleagues from Transport talking about Bill C-3 and Bill S-
31. I came to the conclusion that the intention of the government, through some of this organizational legislation, is to
obviate the problems of communication and authority, duplication and/or overlapping. Do I have it right?
Mr. Forster: Yes, absolutely.
Senator Angus: Is it therefore your evidence that the concerns of Senator Spivak and others who are supporting this
proposed legislation should no longer be concerns?
Mr. Forster: To be fair, I do not think Bill C-3 necessarily fixes all Senator Spivak's concerns. It puts the boating
safety and marine safety functions of the government in one place. I think that will improve the situation. However,
regardless of whether it was in DFO or Transport, she has other issues related to personal watercraft and safety that we
talked about and that can be improved on. I do not think anyone has it perfectly right. We do not have a perfect regime
in either DFO or Transport. We are talking about, rather than creating another legislative regime, improving the
existing one. The legislative tools are there. The regulatory powers are there. How do we make it work better to deal
with the issues she raises? Certainly Bill C-3, the moving of those functions into one place, makes everyone's life
Senator Angus: I hope that is the case. Only time will tell. I will speak at third reading of Bill C-3 tomorrow, and I
hope you will look at the transcript, because I do not think it goes far enough to do that. There is still much
overlapping. Given the fact that Bill C-15 is what it is, Bill C-3 is what it is, and Bill C-5 is what it is, we are creating
more confusion than we are solving. I do not understand how that can happen today. I said to my staff, ``I hear
through the grapevine that Bill S-12 is basically designed to ban personal watercraft. Am I right?'' My staff said, ``No,
no, that is not right at all.''
I have an open mind here. Is that, in your view, what this bill does? Why would people from the industry who
manufacture them be so concerned?
Mr. Forster: They are following me with their presentation, so I would prefer that you ask them. I would not venture
to speak for them. The bill is trying to deal with a legitimate concern about how these craft are operated. It is really
trying to say, ``Okay, can we have an expedited process?'' Our view is that we have legislation that will address that and
a regulatory process that we are bound to, which is not, again, the world's fastest moving, but there are rules we must
follow, regardless of which act we live under. We think we can deal with it under the current act and make
improvements to reduce the problems that created the impetus for the bill through a lot more emphasis on boater
safety, public education, awareness and signage. We can look at some regulations on how they operate near the shore.
Part of Senator Spivak's concern was the length of the process for cottage associations to get changes to regulations
through. We will have to follow the same regulatory process regardless of which bill it is under.
Our commitment here is now that the transfer is done and out of the way, we think we can have better performance
and move faster.
Senator Angus: In your view, as government officials who administer and have a lot of experience with regulation of
vessels, is there the power to abolish the use of Sea-Doos under this proposed legislation?
Mr. Forster: My understanding is that the bill lays out a process by which local cottage associations can have those
craft banned or their operation restricted on their lakes.
Senator Angus: I visit a lot of lakes in the Laurentians, where the cottagers' associations have agreed to ban motor
boats. They are pristine lakes. You can paddle in a canoe, go fishing and come home with a big trout, which is
wonderful if everyone is in agreement. Why can you not do that under the present law?
Mr. Forster: You can.
Senator Angus: Why do we need this bill?
Mr. Forster: Under the present law the same process occurs. A cottage association has to consult with cottagers on
the lake, they have to come to a consensus, and then they go to the municipality. The municipality has to agree, and
then the province must support it, which, I am told, in 99 cases out of 100 they do. It comes to us and we will add it to a
schedule, but we must go through a regulatory process to do that. If they wish to ban or restrict the use of power
vessels, the legislation allows for that.
Mr. Victor M. Santos-Pedro, Director, Design, Equipment & Boating Safety, Transport Canada: The only difference
is that Bill S-12 would target a very specific vessel, and from a legal perspective, that causes some difficulties.
Senator Angus: Such as Charter issues?
Mr. Santos-Pedro: I do not think there are Charter issues. There are difficulties from a legal perspective in the
definition. A definition is never watertight. There will always be some way around it. Under the Canada Shipping Act,
it is best that we be able to address the behaviour of people using vessels of any kind; it could be other than personal
People on runabouts may also cause a lot of noise and other problems. By keeping it general, if personal watercraft
are creating noise, they will be caught by the net. It leaves out all the other vessels that do not cause noise or are not
doing figure eights on the lake.
We can address the concerns seen in Bill S-12 in a general manner, without that specific target and description of a
Senator Angus: Are you saying you would require some other legislation for that, or under the laws that presently
Mr. Santos-Pedro: Under the laws that presently exist, under the Canada Shipping Act and under the boating
regulations, we can apply these types of restrictions in a general manner.
Senator Angus: I mentioned the little lakes where the cottagers all form an association. That would presuppose a
relatively small number of residents in order to get the consensus. That works effectively. I happen to live on a bigger
lake, as others do. I live on Lake Memphremagog in Quebec, which is 33 miles long. I am right on the lake. I have
talked to a certain senator who has long white hair and is an outstanding environmentalist, and I have seen how
dangerous these particular craft that are targeted by this proposed legislation can be. To be frank with you, I do not
want them. I do not want to ruin an industry, but I do not want kids killing themselves right in front of my dock. I have
seen terribly close shaves.
How does it work on a big lake where there are 13 or 15 municipalities within a 33-mile zone?
Mr. Santos-Pedro: If I can address each point; you asked how you can deal with the problem in front of your dock.
This proposal suggests having a vessel steer a straight course from shore out to, say, 200 metres, which would avoid
that kind of behaviour in front of your dock.
With regards to the craft in the middle of the lake, if that is a concern, it would be a matter of having consultations
to create a consensus that there should be a speed restriction for allvessels, regardless of size or type. They should not
go more than 10 kilometres an hour. If there was a consensus, that would apply everywhere on the lake.
As Mr. Forster said, there is already a universal restriction in that particular province that you cannot go morethan
10 kilometres an hour within 30 metres of the shore. They could add a specific restriction for the entire lake. Some
lakes and rivers ban motor boats.
Senator Angus: I know that. There are huge issues on Lake Memphremagog, and I am sure the same applies to Lake
Winnipeg and other big lakes. Canadians like their leisure time. It is a big part of their social contract. There are issues
of noise with regard to these craft. We are told by the manufacturers that those have been addressed by a new
generation of engines. There are issues of safety. I do not know if they have been addressed, but I understand from my
colleagues that there are serious implications at stake. The record speaks for itself. There have been many severe
I have a motor boat that conforms to the small vessel regulations. Normally when you go out, you can follow the
rules of navigation and you do not get into a lot of trouble. With these little things buzzing around, you need eyes in
the back of your head, or else you may run over an eight-year-old kid. I believe that is what is driving this private
senator's bill and what makes it attractive to the ordinary Canadian.
We want to be fair before we pass it and that is why I am zeroing in here. This bill has been to Parliament three
times. You are clearly not in favour of it. This is your chance to help me be a good senator and do the right thing. We
are told that an entire industry could be ruined by allowing this bill. I have to be persuaded.
Mr. Santos-Pedro: The problems will not be solved through one particular solution. The examples that you
mentioned with regards to the safety aspects are already being addressed, and we will continue to address public
awareness and education with respect to safe boating. We have safe boating guidelines and campaigns in general.
We have introduced operator's competency cards that target personal watercraft. People operating them need to
take that kind of training and to have the card.
We already have restrictions on the books. The manufacturers tell us that they are reducing noise. In addition to
that, we have regulatory requirements for the noise levels of certain features of those vessels.
The regulations already address many of those points, and this is why we say that there is the potential for
duplication. We address many areas, not just one specific aspect.
Senator Angus: My instinct tells me, based on what I have heard around here, that there is something that you
people are not doing right. You have had three kicks at the can and it did not get through Parliament. Now it is back,
and here we are. There is a will here. I had not heard all the evidence the first time.
If there is a good reason not to go ahead with this bill, I do not think I have heard it yet. I have heard both of you
gentlemen say you could do this and you could do that and you could alleviate the concerns, but I have not heard you
address four-square the problems that are driving this bill.
Mr. Forster: First, I do not think it is our role to tell you whether or not to proceed with a bill. It is our role to advise
you on what the current legislation and regulations allow us to do, how we think we can make it work better, what is
permitted and what is not. It is not necessarily the department's role to pass judgment on the bill.
We are trying to explain what the current law and regulations allow for and what they do not. We think we can
address many of the same issues you are trying to address with Bill S-12 and we have raised the concerns you need to
think about in this bill.
Firstly, do you want a bill that duplicates existing legislation? Is that good legislative protocol?
Senator Angus: You think it does duplicate existing legislation?
Mr. Forster: I think it does. The same powers exist in the current shipping act and the regulations to deal with bad
boating behaviour and poor operating practices. The current legislation also deals with requests from local
communities who want to either restrict the speed of boats on their lake or ban them outright. That is also in the
current bill. That would be a concern.
Secondly, I am not a lawyer and I am not from the Department of Justice, but there may be a concern about
specifically targeting one type of boat. You can have all kinds of boats on this lake except this one. I do not know
whether, legally, that leaves you open to more risk.
Thirdly, the bill prescribes a certain period of time for us to deal with requests from cottage associations to add a
lake to a schedule. I am not sure the time frame in this bill is consistent with the government's rules about how to
When we get a proposal from a community, there are certain things that we are required to do, because it is a
regulatory process. We have to do a cost/benefit analysis and we have to consult. I have concerns about whether the
time frames in this bill line up with the government's regulatory process that is required by policy and legislation.
I am not here to tell you whether to pass Bill S-12 or not. I am telling you what I think the current law allows us to
do. We have been asked whether we can make it work better to address the legitimate problems people feel are out
there. We are here to explain what we think we could try to do better and to raise some of the issues that Bill S-12 may
Senator Angus: I am sure you have heard of instances where there have been fatalities in the use of these particular
types of craft and there has been a call for action by the government in coroners' reports.
I may be making some mistakes here, but going by my sense of what I have heard and what I have been able to bone
up on, is it that the government has not answered that call? A private member has come forward in good faith for the
third time in four years with proposed legislation that you say duplicates what already exists. I find that weird. You can
understand that. I was not here the other times this committee studied it.
I appreciate your candour. You have said here that it does duplicate existing legislation. What I am taking away
from this is that we have the laws on the books to enable us to meet the concerns expressed by the private member and
by the community at large, we are working on it, we have the enabling legislative authority and we will try to do better.
Mr. Forster: I am saying that we think you cannot just solve the problem with a legislative fix. You also need to
educate operators. There are regulations on the safe operation of those boats. If people are buzzing your dock or an
eight-year-old is driving a boat, that is against the regulations. It is like any other kind of enforcement issue.
Senator Angus: This is the issue: Enforcement is what it is about.
Mr. Forster: It is a huge problem.
Senator Angus: It is about money and people. There are thousands of lakes in this country.
Mr. Forster: Whether it is enforcement on Highway 401 for driving 140 kilometres an hour or enforcement for bad
boating practices, it is the same issue, and we are not in a position to fix it.
Senator Angus: I have about 11 users of my boat. We were grandfathered and this is our last year, but you have to
get a permit now. It is like applying for a driver's licence. I have been quizzing my family at the dining room table, and
that is very good. I am told that about 3 per cent of boat owners will have done that. That is why Senator Spivak and
others get concerned.
Mr. Forster: Well, the boater operating cards are being phased in until 2009.
Senator Buchanan: After serving for over 30 years in legislatures, government and here, I have never been a believer
in duplication of legislation. It is wrong and it complicates things. One of the reasons I am pleased with what Senator
Angus brought up is that there is no question this is duplication.
I am interested in your statement about covering the waterfront. I think you have covered it. If you do what you say
here, it would relieve many of the problems that promptedBill S-12. If you make it work, then there is no need to
passBill S-12, in my opinion.
I know that in Nova Scotia they have applied to the Department of Transport for the 10-kilometre speed restriction
within 30 metres of the shore of any lake. The three proposals that you are talking about here and the new regulations
would solve many of Senator Spivak's concerns as expressed in Bill S-12.
I have never been a proponent of duplication of legislation because it is wasteful and does not solve the problem;
you work with what you have. These gentlemen have regulations that can be enforced under the existing act. If that is
done quickly, there is no need for Bill S-12.
Senator Adams: I have sat on more than one committee in consideration of the same bill. First it was referred to the
Transport Committee and now it is before the Energy Committee. The bill died three times on the Order Paper in the
House of Commons. I heard some of the witnesses before the committee talk about using two-cycle engines on the
lakes now because we want to force more rules on people who have cottages. When will we stop making regulations?
People with families have cottages where they like to go on weekends and holidays. We have heard that many rural
municipalities do not have the human resources to enforce such a law, should the bill pass. We do not have enough
RCMP or OPP or other provincial police forces to enforce such a law in cottage country so that people will be
compliant. More enforcement officers would have to be hired for those areas.
Then Minister Anderson and Fisheries and Oceans Canada explained to us that we do not need the new bill. The
minister said that there is a section in the Transportation Act to cover that. Is it true that there are sections with
supporting regulations on personal watercraft? Transportation deals more with larger vessels. The more I listen, the
more it seems that some cottagers and Senator Spivak want only kayaks and canoes out on the lakes. If I buy my son a
boat for waterskiing that costs me about $40,000 and Bill S-12 passes, I might not be able to use that boat.
My question is for the officials of Transport Canada. If the Senate were to pass the bill, it would mean additional
human resources for enforcement. Can the department do that, or will the municipalities look after that? They will say
they do not have enough policemen to enforce that law. In some municipalities, there are cottagers' associations as well
as municipal bylaws and taxing systems.
Mr. Forster: Bill S-12 does not speak to the enforcement issue. It would be similar to the Canada Shipping Act,
whereby you will rely on the local police for enforcement. It will be the RCMP in some provinces and the provincial
police force in others or a municipal police force. It will depend on the location. They will have to manage this with
their other priorities and decide how to respond. We are not in the enforcement business. I do not know whether the
bill would place huge incremental demands on municipalities. I guess it would, in a sense, but it would not be much
different from the sections in the existing act. The difference is, rather than a general provision to restrict the speed of
all motor vessels and/or their use on a lake, this says you can do it for personal watercraft only. I do not know that it
changes the enforcement that much.
Senator Adams: I do not know how many times we changed the bill. Initially, it was under Transport Canada and
the maximum fine was up to $2,000.
Mr. Forster: It is $500 now.
Senator Adams: I have a four-wheeler and can go anywhere. We might choose to regulate four-wheelers. I go to
Rankin Inlet, where we have no highways, and if I cannot drive through the community, I would have to walk. There is
no difference between motorized watercraft and a four-wheeler. It is difficult for those in the North. Bill S-12 could
affect our people in the North in terms of any kind of transport regulation on the age of the equipment, who can ride it,
and when and where. To drive a four-wheeler, you have to be at least 16 years old.
Mr. Forster: That law is in place.
Senator Adams: In the meantime, I might have to say goodbye to the boat. Such a law really restricts people in their
use of watercraft on any water. The people from Bombardier might be able to tell us more. In the winter, or even now,
when I go home I can go to the sea ice on my Ski-Doo. I watch the ice crack in the wintertime and it opens. Sometimes
it is hard to see how far the crack has opened up.
We do not have such a regulation in the North for the equipment we use. That happens here more for younger
people using watercraft and waterskiing equipment. People have enough problems in the city, and when they go to
their cottages, they do not want more problems. Young people might stay behind in the city if they cannot enjoy their
watercraft at their cottages.
I stay at home, but down the city, down the street, I am looking at it. I do not know if that is true or not. It seems to
me someone will force me to have nice equipment and things I cannot use. If I go to my cottage, that is my concern.
The Chairman: Do you own a Sea-Doo?
Senator Adams: No, I do not. I own three Ski-Doos.
The Chairman: What about a Sea-Doo, a personal watercraft?
Senator Adams: A Ski-Doo is the same thing. You go out on the snow.
The Chairman: Yes, but not on the water.
Senator Adams: Not usually on the water, but sometimes you go over the top of the water. One guy went ski-dooing
on the water; he went 24 kilometres last year. He will try this year to go 48 kilometres on top of the water with a Ski-
The Chairman: Do not go with him, please.
Senator Cochrane: Mr. Forester, are you the associate deputy minister?
Mr. Forster: Associate assistant deputy minister.
Senator Cochrane: Sorry — associate assistant deputyminister. I am looking at pages 6 and 7 of your brief. At the
top of page 6 you say Transport Canada could undertake public educational initiatives. The second paragraph says
Transport Canada could propose amendments to the boating restriction regulation to add a schedule that requires a
straight-line course near the shore. On the next page you say this limit could significantly reduce the problems that
many cottage owners have complained about over the years and that these possible regulations should be discussed
further but could be part of Transport Canada's regulatory reform of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.
I see the word ``could'' many times. Would you do so?
Mr. Forster: Yes, the plan is we will do that. It depends on the future of this bill and whether it goes forward or not.
We would see that as replacing some of these other items. The department is willing to go forward with all the
proposals for boating safety and public education. You can have us back a year from now and make sure we have
followed through on those.
The Chairman: On that exact point, it was not from you, but we heard that in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Now we
are hearing the same undertaking in 2005, that everything will be fine. I am playing devil's advocate because Senator
Spivak is not here. Nothing seems to have changed. There are those of us who would be cynical about ``We could do
this,'' ``We might do that,'' and ``This might solve part of that problem,'' but the fact is those same things Senator
Cochrane referred to have been said, for all intents and purposes, by folks from whatever department of the
government many times before. Nothing has happened yet. I want you to understand that the context of the question
was leading to that fact. To put it rudely, why would we believe you?
Senator Cochrane: I would not be so rude.
Mr. Forster: I appreciate that. That is a hard question to answer. I cannot speak for people who sat in the hot seat
before us. I can tell you a couple of things we will commit to doing. One, a set of guidelines based on the U.S. bill — we
will do that. Two, we will post those. We will develop some public boater-safety materials and try to distribute those as
widely as we can. Three, we will try to work with municipalities. I cannot control whether municipalities will post
signage. We do not put up the signs; they do. We are prepared to push and prod and do what we can.
On the regulations, we are prepared to put forward a draft regulation in that area. Again, I cannot guarantee that it
will pass because we do not pass regulations. We need to do some consultations on how that will work, and I believe
you will hear speakers after me saying that will be difficult. This idea of having to drive straight out from shore and not
parallel to it we believe has merit. We would need to discuss that with people. We are prepared to take that on and try
to move it forward.
The other area we said we would improve on is the speed with which we process requests from lake owners and
cottage associations. Now that the transfer is complete, assuming Bill C-3 goes through and we do not have to reverse
it, we think we are in a better position to manage that process a lot faster, and we are happy to have you hold us
accountable for that. If you want us to come back in a year and report, we will do that.
I cannot speak for the folks who were here before, and I would understand and share the same frustrations if I were
in your position.
Senator Cochrane: You understand where we are coming from then, because I do not see any changes. We have been
bringing these issues forward for a long time, and I am sure some of the people in your department have been there
Mr. Forster: We have just inherited the boating safety functions since the change. It is a little over a year. However,
from where you sit, who cares? It was in that box before and now it is in this box. The end result is still the same. I
would share your frustrations.
Senator Cochrane: Yes, because ``could'' is not a very good word.
Mr. Forster: I will take responsibility for the word ``could.'' It depends on how you want to proceed. If you want a
legislative proposal, that is a different direction. If we are not proceeding with the legislative route, these are actions we
could take. You are asking me if we will do those. If that is the way we want to go, we will do those as best we are able,
as I described.
Senator Cochrane: If that is the way you want to go?
Mr. Forster: If the legislators say we have heard your options to make the current system work better and are not
impressed so we are taking the legislative route, and the Senate and the House both do that, then we are into a different
regime that would change much. That is why it is ``could.'' If we want to go a different route and try to make the
current system work better, then the commitment is there from us to do that.
Senator Cochrane: Going 200 metres perpendicular to the shore, would that prevent cottage owners from using their
own boats to do things like water-ski?
Mr. Santos-Pedro: No, that is not what is envisaged. The expectation would be no water-skiing within the 200
metres.If that restriction was in place, they would go water-skiingwithin 200 metres of the shore in a straight line.
Outside of those 200 metres, they could go in whatever figure they decide.
Mr. Forster: Back to the ``could,'' we are saying it couldbe 200 metres. We need to have more discussion around
that. We do not want to decide today if it will be 200. Maybe it will be less, maybe it will be more. Maybe it needs to be
a variable, depending on the size of the lake. Maybe it does not need to be exactly perpendicular. We are trying to
encourage behaviour whereby people will not be buzzing two feet off the end of Senator Angus' dock. There would be
a requirement to proceed straight out into the lake.
Senator Cochrane: Some years back, the Coast Guard warned personal watercraft drivers that children under six
years of age should not be carried as passengers. Could you tell us what prompted that warning and why you have not
made that a regulatory requirement?
Mr. Santos-Pedro: I am not aware of that particular proposal.
Mr. Daniel Haché, Acting Manager, Office of Boating Safety, Transport Canada: I vaguely remember, but that was
before I took the job. I think there was a coroner's report on an accident. Our recommendation was to put a warning
on our website that children under six should not be passengers on personal watercraft. That is the extent of what I
Senator Cochrane: Is it regulated?
Mr. Haché: No, it is not.
Senator Cochrane: Is there any move afoot to regulate it?
Mr. Haché: Not at this time.
Senator Cochrane: When? When there have been a lot of accidents? There have been serious accidents with these
personal watercraft. When you have little ones on the water, it is a serious matter. I know you will probably say that is
the parents' responsibility, but these kids can go out and the parents do not even know they are there. Is there no move
Mr. Haché: Not at this time.
Mr. Santos-Pedro: It is fair to say we have heard all of this before. We are trying to be just a little different. Of the
four initiatives we have presented, three are new. The signage issue had been presented before, but the measure to have
a set of guidelines in place to address many of the issues by saying ``Here is the best practice that you should use,'' that
is something new.
Having a new schedule within the 200 metres from shore that addresses the behaviour issue is new; and a
commitment that we would indeed make every effort to have the restrictions in place sooner rather than later. There is
a commitment and a will to do that.
I just wanted to make the distinction that three out of the four provisions here under the ``coulds'' are indeed
The Chairman: On that same point, and on the same level of frustration, on August 28, 2002, the Canadian Coast
Guard recommended and warned that children under six should not ride on personal watercraft. You are right, Mr.
Forster, it does not make much difference which box it is in; the Government of Canada seems not to respond to the
advice of the Canadian Coast Guard with respect to boater safety. This had to do with personal watercraft. That was
merely a comment, not a question, unless you want to comment back.
Mr. Haché: If I may, Mr. Chairman, prior to December 12, 2003, the Office of Boating Safety was under the
auspices of the Coast Guard. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for the Coast Guard and the
Office of Boating Safety was under the Coast Guard at that time. It was moved to Transport Canada on December 12,
2003. When the Coast Guard made that recommendation, it came from the same office that looks after boating safety
now at Transport Canada. It is not two different bodies; it is basically the same entity.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Senator Cochrane: What will it take to increase safety and environmental protection with these personal watercraft?
What could we do? I tell you there have been quite a few serious accidents. When we were dealing with the bill before,
we heard of youth coming into shore, and the problem was they stop and turn off the engine, and then the craft keeps
going. There have been deaths. We are here to try to keep Canadians and our young safe. What can we do? Is it a
Mr. Santos-Pedro: It is not a difficult question, but it is a difficult answer. We believe that the best way to address
this is by a number of measures. The kind of behaviour that you have described, senator, is an issue of the operator of
the vessel. It is not the particular vessel. Putting in place the operator's competency card is one aspect of it. Widely
distributing information, as we have with the ``Safe Boating Guide,'' is another way to raise that awareness. The type of
campaigns that you sometimes see on the Weather Channel, for example, is another way. We find that education and
awareness play a big part before you put any regulation in place.
As we also know, there are problems with enforcement of regulations that were discussed earlier. We think that by
raising awareness, which the guidelines would do because they would target the personal watercraft, we could make
that part of the education for everyone who uses them. It is difficult to answer because there is no single switch that if
we turn it on, we will stop that behaviour. We think we have to turn on many switches, and we are putting some of
those on the table.
Senator Cochrane: What about increasing the fines? Would it make parents become more aware in discussions
around the table, that you do not do this or you do not do that or you dare not go on that water unless all these
requirements are met? Would that help?
Mr. Santos-Pedro: We work with other organizations — the Canadian Safe Boating Council, the Red Cross and
others — and we find that having material available and going to the schools to encourage children to tell their parents
that smoking is not a great idea, or going on a boat without a life jacket is not a great idea, is effective; and perhaps
comments coming from children on the kind of behaviour we sometimes see on personal watercraft will have as great
The Chairman: I will ask a couple of questions in which I will try to assume the role of the author of the bill, who is
unfortunately not here today. I will ask you to comment on them because you are responsible for boater safety and
design and those issues.
The first is: Rather than waiting to find out what might happen with this bill, why not put those regulations in place
and obviate the necessity for it? If they would in fact obviate the necessity for this bill, why not go ahead and do that?
You could publish regulations in very short order; they could be dealt with by a joint committee of Parliament on
Scrutiny of Regulations and published in the Gazette and it is done. If that would obviate the necessity for the bill, why
not do it?
Mr. Forster: We are prepared to proceed with the measure we outlined in our package.
The Chairman: If you beat us to the punch and if these measures do the job, that would be the end of the question,
would it not?
Mr. Forster: I think, though, as Mr. Santos-Pedro was saying, you will not find a single silver bullet that will all of a
sudden stop boating accidents. These are measures we can take to improve the situation. You have to look at a
package, including public education, awareness, and further regulation, if necessary.
The Chairman: Senator Angus' question was does this bill allow a municipality whose jurisdiction is on the shoreline
of a lake to undertake the process by which it could preclude the use — not regulate, not slow down, not 200 metres —
of personal watercraft on that lake. That is what this bill does. Would the measures that you are talking about single
out a particular kind of watercraft or would they apply to all motorized boats?
Mr. Forster: The regulatory change would apply to all.The difference between Bill S-12 and the existing act is the act
allows a municipality concerned about motorized traffic ona lake to restrict the speed or place a ban, but it bans them
all. Bill S-12 gives you the power to go after and ban only personal watercraft or Sea-Doos. Going back to the earlier
question about a big lake with six municipalities, 12 cottage associations, et cetera, a municipality could only place a
ban on its portion of that lake. If there are six municipalities on a lake, all of them would have to agree. If only some
agree, it would only affect their parts of the shoreline.
The Chairman: We will not hear from them this time, because they have to come here on their own hook and take
time off from their jobs, but the municipalities, cottage associations and the like from whom we have heard in the past
have told us — and I think I recall correctly — that the process under the present legislation is so arcane, difficult and
slow moving that several of them have simply undertaken on their own, and I suspect quasi-illegally, to enact
municipal legislation banning personal watercraft. Their concern is that if it came down to it, they would be found to
have overstepped their authority. Notwithstanding that they have done it, as they told us, out of frustration after they
tried to use the process, they tried to do the consultation, such as it is, in Bill S-12, and go through the other levels,
which include, as you point out, the province, et cetera. They told us that they gave up and did it on their own.
We heard from two or three of whom that was true. Of all of the folks from whom we heard who were in favour of
this bill, they expressed frustration with the existing process and with the fact that they do not want to ban motor boats
on their lake. They do not necessarily want to ban outboard motors on a skiff. They want to be able to ban personal
watercraft. Comment on that, if you will?
Mr. Forster: As we said in our remarks, with the transfer of responsibility for boating safety now complete — that
slowed the whole process down — we think we can do better. We agree it has been slow. Even if you used the Bill S-12
process, you are still locked in, it is still a regulation. You will be in the regulatory process regardless.
The Chairman: The minister can refuse to include the process if he or she thinks there is a good reason for not adding
a particular water body under the act.
Mr. Forster: In terms of the timeline, regardless of whether you use the bill or the act, you will still have to go
through the government regulatory process, do a cost/benefit analysis, a regulatory impact assessment and go to the
Department of Justice. Either way, you cannot change the regulatory process.
We said in our remarks that we think now we will do better in terms of the time than we have in the past. Even if you
used the Bill S-12 process, if I were the minister, I would want to know if it is an association, I would still want to know
the views of the municipality and province on a particular lake as a matter of course. I am not sure you will change it.
If an association says that they have decided on banning personal watercraft on lake ``X,'' as the federal minister, I
would still want to know the views of the local municipality and the province.
The Chairman: If I remember correctly, the province is left out of this bill, but everything else is still included. The
other consultations will have to be done. The author of the bill is convinced that this will streamline things.
In their 2000 report, the Lifesaving Society said thatboating deaths in Canada have decreased each year for the five
years leading up to 2000, but water-related deathsfor PWCs have increased in the same time period and arehigher than
those for power boats. The PWC rate is 11 deathsper year per 100,000 boats, while for power boats it is six per 100,000;
and for un-powered craft like canoes, et cetera, it is down around two or three per 100,000.
Second, the Lifesaving Society recorded a 53 per cent increase in fatalities nationally from personal watercraft
between 1996 and 2000, while deaths from small power boats declined by 29 per cent. Those figures go in opposite
directions. What that boils down to is that there are characteristics of personal water craft, as we have heard — and I
am sure we will hear of improvements from the industry — and to which Senator Cochrane referred. There is no
braking mechanism on a boat, but a boat has a rudder and you can steer it as long as it is making way. If you are not in
irons, as the saying goes, you can steer a little skiff with a rudder. Jet skis are rudderless, and when the throttle is off, a
speeding jet ski is like a car on ice. You cannot stop it, you cannot turn it; the driver has no control.
I will not bother you with the anecdotal news reports of people who have killed their kids inadvertently. They are
accidents, but when those things are zooming along and you turn them off, they want to keep going that way as long as
the inertia will carry them, and there is nothing you can do about it; you cannot turn. We may hear differently from the
industry, but do you have any comment on that from the standpoint of boater safety?
Senator Angus: I was very interested in your questions and those quotes. Is that in the summary of the earlier
The Chairman: Yes.
Senator Angus: I know you follow the rule that I follow and do not give testimony.
The Chairman: This is part of the record that was sent to your office as well. Even if it were not from previous
testimony, it was in the form of a question.
Mr. Haché: Personal watercraft do not rule the behaviour of the people who ride them. We hope that the operator
competency card that came into effect in 2002 for all vessels under four metres, including the personal watercraft, will
help. We hope as well that the public education campaign we want to put forward will help.
With regard to the steerage of a personal watercraft, Bombardier has advised us that when the engine is cut, a little
propeller falls into the water and provides steerage of the craft, which is more than most propeller engines have. With a
propeller engine, if the propeller does not turn, you do not have steerage.
I hope that the measures that we are putting forward here today will help to improve safety on the water, in
combination with the operator competency card and the training that goes with it.
The Chairman: I want to put forward one last figure, again from the Lifesaving Society and again from 2000. At that
time, according to their figures, there were 1.182 million small power boats in use, and 75 people died as a result of
their operation. There were 52,000 personal watercraft in operation, which resulted in six deaths.
I hope we will hear that the new machines will obviate some of the problems, because we heard that almost all of
these deaths were attributable to the non-steering problem.
Senator Angus: In the U.S. they have lakes and a similar culture to ours. How do they deal with this situation?
Mr. Santos-Pedro: Each state has its own legislation dealing with pleasure craft, and it varies greatly from state to
state. The guidelines we discussed here are based on a model bill for the States. Some of the 50 states have nothing in
place, and some, although not the majority, have some provisions, but they vary greatly.
Senator Angus: I earlier summarized what I thought you were telling us, and I got the impression that you thought
this would be duplicate legislation. Having listened to Senator Cochrane and Senator Banks, I understand that this is
quite different. Under the laws presently on the books, either under your administration or that of the Coast Guard, it
is an all-or-nothing situation. You cannot regulate only personal watercraft. It must apply to all small craft, and that is
different from Bill S-12?
Mr. Forster: Yes. The unique feature of Bill S-12 is that it allows the targeting of specific craft.
Senator Angus: That is very important. How could we change your legislation? Why has the government not
generated a bill that could target specific craft? I have certainly noted the public mood. I personally hate cigarette
boats, and there is a particular mood concerning them, but it is nothing compared to the mood around personal
Do you agree with that, Mr. Santos-Pedro?
Mr. Santos-Pedro: I am not sure what I would be agreeing to.
Senator Angus: There seems to be more of an outcry for control of personal watercraft than of an 18-foot Sunray
Mr. Santos-Pedro: I agree that there has been an outcry, and we would not like to be put in the position of trying to
defend personal watercraft. As we have said before, there are some legal risks in targeting one specific vessel. There is
bound to be another kind of vessel that some municipality would want to target. We would then have another bill
describing another craft. That is one reason we believe it is better to put the restrictions in place through the Canada
Shipping Act, which already has general provisions that can target the behaviour of any type of craft.
The Chairman: Under the altered provisions of the Canada Shipping Act, could you target a specific kind of vessel?
Mr. Santos-Pedro: Our legal advice is that that would not be advisable, that it could be challenged.
The Chairman: Challenged by whom?
Mr. Santos-Pedro: It could be challenged by those who oppose having their particular craft named in legislation.
The Chairman: The Supreme Court would find that they are being disadvantaged, you see.
Senator Angus: I understand the legal advice, and that same legal advice would apply to Bill S-21. If it will be
challenged, it will be challenged.
You would have the same constitutional issues if you talked about only a certain type of municipality on Lake
Under your act, you can add things. You can say, ``I would like you to add Lake Massawippi and Brome Lake.''
Could you not say that this law applies generally? We have powers in respect of certain boats, and if some have
particular characteristics that are deemed by experts within Transport Canada to be dangerous, these could, without
coming back to the entire parliamentary process, be designated as specifically targeted for regulations. That would not
sweep every personal power boat, as the chairman said, into the net. Has that been considered?
Mr. Santos-Pedro: No.
Senator Angus: I can see the issue clearly now. Can I ask you a question, Chairman? What happened the three other
times? Did it just die on the Order Paper, or was it defeated?
The Chairman: I believe two were passed by the Senate and sent to the Commons, and there they died on the Order
Senator Angus: They were never defeated by the House of Commons.
Mr. Haché: Bill S-26, the first one, did not make it to the House. Bill S-10 did not make it to the House. Bill S-8 did.
Now we have Bill S-12.
The Chairman: Numbers one and three were passed by the Senate and sent to the House of Commons.
Mr. Haché: Actually, only the third one.
The Chairman: Only one so far has gone to the House.
Mr. Haché: That is my recollection.
The Chairman: If that is so, the others died on the Order Paper. I thought we had passed it more than once. I am
sure Mr. Haché is right.
Senator Angus: There has not been a big negative vote against these bills.
The Chairman: No, not in the Senate.
Senator Angus: Or anywhere that is on the record. I understand. Thank you very much.
The Chairman: Gentlemen, would you like to add anything before you leave?
Mr. Forster: No, I think that is it.
The Chairman: You are welcome to stay and have coffeeand listen to the next proceedings. On Thursday of this
week,at 8:30 in this room, we will be hearing further witnesses and the author of this bill. If you wish to come, you
would be more than welcome.
We are now joined by representatives of BRP, Bombardier Recreational Products. We have Mr. Garcia, Director of
Public and Regulatory Affairs, and Mr. Marcouiller, Director of Communications and Public Affairs. From the
Canadian Marine Manufacturers Association, we have our good friend, Mr. Sandy Currie.
Mr. Michel Marcouiller, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.:
Thank you for inviting us to meet with you. Obviously, Bombardier Recreational Products has an important interest in
these discussions, and eventually in the bill, if it ever became law. Let me first say a few words about our company and
then briefly mention the reasons why this particular bill, in our opinion, should not be accepted; and why, if it were, it
would have a particular impact on our company.
Bombardier Recreational Products, or BRP, has been astand-alone company since 2003. At that time, we were sold
by Bombardier to a group of private investors comprised of the Bombardier family, Bain Capital and the Caisse de
dépôt et placement du Québec.
We are a truly Canadian global company, meaning that we have manufacturing activities and R&D activity
basically based in Canada. Our international head office is located in Valcourt, Quebec, as are our main R&D centres
and our manufacturing activities for the snowmobiles, ATVs and personal watercraft. We are number one in the world
for snowmobiles and personal watercraft, as well as ultra-light aircraft engines. We are a market leader in a certain
number of recreational products.
We also have manufacturing activities in the United States, where we own the Johnson Evinrude outboard engines
brand, and in Mexico and Austria, where we manufacture engines that go into our products. They are also used by
companies such as BMW and Aprilia in their motorcycles.
We also have activities in China, where we manufacture outboard engines.
Our revenues are $2.5 billion, and in total we have 6,000 employees. I am giving you these figures to give you a sense
of who we are. We are a responsible company. We strive to make products that are as technologically advanced as
possible, and we think we do. We are socially and environmentally responsible.
I have with me Fernando Garcia, who is a renowned authority on PWCs. This afternoon we are making ourselves
available to answer all your questions, such as Senator Cochrane's question on the manoeuvrability of watercraft, on
emissions and all other matters that you want to delve into.
This bill came under discussion a few years ago, at a time when personal watercraft were not what they are now. As
you said, there are about 45,000 to 50,000 personal watercraft in Canada. The replacement rate is about seven years.
This can be discussed, but it is evaluated at about seven years. Since we started producing and selling what I would call
new, more advanced, cleaner personal watercraft five years ago, there has been a transformation in the type of
watercraft that are used now, especially our watercraft.
We are a market leader, meaning that we have over 50 per cent of the world market. That market is also shared by
Japanese companies and the like, but from the beginning, we have been ahead of the competition, if I may say so, in
terms of technology, market share and so forth.
Personal watercraft manufacturing is very important to us. It represents revenues of about $500 million. All those
watercraft are manufactured in Canada. It is not only important to us and our employees, but this bill will also have an
impact on the marine manufacturing industry. If I were to ask you to describe the recreational marine industry in
Canada, some of you might be surprised to learn that Bombardier recreational products represent about 60 per cent of
the recreational marine industry in Canada, and of that $500 million worth of product, about 80 per cent is exported.
We feel this bill is either based on facts that have changed or is not supported by fact. If adopted in Canada, it will
have an impact worldwide that will not be negligible and will eventually affect us, the Canadian economy and our
What I am saying here today is more focused on BRP, but the fundamental reasons we oppose this bill are not only
economic or self-serving. They are also shared by a great number of knowledgeable and credible organizations in
Canada. In past hearings you have listened to a number of organizations such as the Canadian Yachting Association.
They do not manufacture personal watercraft and are not in the motorized recreational sports business. You have also
heard from the Council of British Columbia Yacht Clubs, the Ontario Sailing Association, the Ontario Boating Forum
and so forth. All these organizations share our concern that this kind of discrimination that focuses on a particular
type of craft could tomorrow, for whatever reason, be extended to another type of boat. The senator mentioned
cigarette boats. There could be other types of boats. We say that the regulations should be universal, uniform, and that
this bill is not warranted at this time.
Bill S-12 proposes to create a regulatory framework applicable only to PWCs and their users by imposing limits on
their operation, in spite of the fact that these craft, like other types of power boats, are already covered by law,
regulations, codes and restrictions respecting speed, safety and environmental performance. I have heard presentations
here and comments and answers to questions talking about the pollution generated by personal watercraft. These
comments are either ill informed or based on facts that date back to some years ago.
The senator has mentioned two-cycle and four-cycle engines. Let me say that two-cycle and four-cycle are not
necessarily conditions for one engine to be cleaner than another. Two years ago we started to manufacture an outboard
engine called the Evinrude ETEC, a two-cycle direct-injection engine which is as clean, if not cleaner, than any four-
stroke on the market.
A couple of weeks ago, we received the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Excellence Award, given for
excellence in environmental technology in the U.S. We were the first company to receive that for a marine engine.
However, coming back to emissions or pollution generated by the modern watercraft that we sell, you would be
interested to know that about 85 per cent are either four-stroke or two-stroke DI, with similar technology to the
Evinrude ETEC, and better than all other types of marine engines or products sold on the market today.
When someone says that watercraft are more polluting than other types of boats, at least in the case of our
company, our products are in fact cleaner than other types of boats. That is very important. I will not get into the
details of the manoeuvrability of the watercraft. I will let Mr. Garcia speak about that.
I will introduce the topic by saying yes, in the old days these watercraft were not as manoeuvrable and presented
some issues when it came time to manoeuvre them off throttle or off power. We were the first on the market to develop
systems to help manoeuvre these watercraft. In the past, your facts were correct, Senator Cochrane. Now the situation
is totally different.
I support the Department of Transport in their suggestion that education and training are a better way to improve
the situation. Enforcement is also a good way, but not if there is a different regime for personal watercraft than for any
other kind of boat.
Bill S-12 is unnecessary, we believe, because of existing regulations. It is unfair because, as an industry, we have done
our best to improve ourselves. We have engaged in a lot of R&D. I have not mentioned the special features we have to
reduce sound, such as our D-Sea-Bel, which has been installed within the past five years on our personal watercraft and
reduces sound by 50 per cent.
Mind you, not all companies offer these types of features. We are a Canadian company, we have the world market,
we produce better machines, we have done our homework, we invest in safety and education, and we support the
Mr. Garcia can talk about what has been done in countries such as the U.S, Spain, Australia and others. In the
1990s, we invested close to $1 million in education and safety. You can try to find other companies that have done as
We have done our homework. This bill, because of its repercussions, not only in Canada but particularly outside
Canada, could have a tremendous negative impact on our company. We feel that this should be taken into
consideration. I do not want to dwell too much on the fact that it would hurt the economy, jobs, and our company in a
very competitive market. This is true, but it is not the only argument we have to put forth here. As I said, our products
are much better than previously.
Since this bill was first introduced some years ago, regulatory trends have changed. Someone was asking about the
situation in the United States. My colleague, Mr. Garcia, can talk about this later.
A few years ago, there were a series of bans on personal watercraft in national parks in the United States. Mr.
Garcia can correct me on this if I am wrong, but these bans were declared without any proof that personal watercraft
were more harmful to the environment than other types of boats. Therefore, the U.S. government requested that
environmental impact studies be carried out.
In all cases where national parks carried out these studies, the conclusion was that personal watercraft were not
more harmful to the environment, and therefore their use was reauthorized.
We have to be careful when we say they cause pollution and more deaths. One death is too many, but we have to put
this in perspective. I do not want to dwell on these issues. You will hear from the Lifesaving Society representatives
later on this week. They have new reports, and my friend here has other reports.
Finally, I would like to address a question that wasbriefly raised here with the Department of Transport.Bill S-12
introduces a new regime whereby a small group of people called a ``local authority,'' not a municipality or users of a
body of water, contrary to the existing regulation and to what we think is the usual democratic process, could dictate a
ban on the use of PWCs without allowing the rest of the population on a lake or river to be consulted.
The Chairman: I need you to explain that. The bill says that the municipality, and only the municipality, may do
Mr. Marcouiller: Am I wrong in saying this? Do you have the bill? Do you have the definition of a ``local authority?''
The Chairman: The definition of a local authority includes ``an incorporated city, metropolitan authority, town,
village, township, district, county, rural municipality or other incorporated municipal body however designated.'' It
also includes ``a body, such as a cottage association, park authority, port or harbour authority, that the minister
determines to be a local authority for the purposes of this Act.''
The assumption there is that if a cottage association existed within a municipality, the municipality would be the
authority. In other words, the cottage association would only have the authority to proceed if there were no
incorporated municipal authority extant in the area.
Mr. Marcouiller: The legal advice we have received regarding this definition is that a small group of people forming
a cottage association for a certain part of a body of water could be recognized as a local authority.
You could read the part of the bill that deals with consultation. I do not want to get into the details of that. That is
not the purpose of our presentation here today. However, we think there is a threat there.
The consultation process provided for in the bill, according to our reading of it, and we stand to be corrected, does
not define exactly what the consultation process is. It is very different from the existing regulatory process.
In conclusion, BRP, the marine industry and their stakeholders are aware of and understand many of the concerns
raised by Senator Spivak and people who support her efforts and have appeared here.
However, we do not agree that Bill S-12 is the right approach, and therefore we are not thus far in favour of it. We
feel that the consequences of this bill, if it ever became law, could be substantial and have negative impacts on the users
of personal watercraft, the Canadian marine industry and a $500-million business, from our point of view, in the
Canadian economy. This is why we are here, to represent BRP's investment in Canada, especially in the Eastern
Townships, and our workforce.
The Chairman: I am very sorry to have interrupted you. You may be right.
Mr. Marcouiller: I draw your attention to this point. Not everything is clear. However, there are differences between
the existing process, which is a recognized one, and the process proposed in Bill S-12, which is new and risky, in our
The Chairman: That is partly the point, but we must ensure that if we proceed with this kind of measure, the
processes are very clear. I appreciate you having pointed that out to us.
Mr. Fernando Garcia, Director of Public and Regulatory Affairs, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP): I intend
to be largely a resource to this committee by providing information as needed.
I would like to provide insights and information on issues brought up by the first panel that appeared earlier this
evening. There was the question about passengers riding on a PWC raised by the Canadian Coast Guard. I am
knowledgeable on that issue. The other question that arose was the steering characteristics of personal watercraft vis-à-
vis other rudder-steered boats.
Another question came up pertaining to accident statistics. I would like to provide some insights on characteristics
of personal watercraft in comparison to other boats, their social responsibility, the value of education and training.
The main purpose is to underscore what can be achieved with more emphasis on education and training.
There was a question on U.S. trends. I could provide you with good insights on that, as I have been involved in the
U.S. on not only personal watercraft, but all marine boats, since 1986. I currently serve on the steering committee for
the U.S. Coast Guard.
On the issue of passenger riding and the Canadian Coast Guard, an unfortunate single accident occurred that
should not have. It involved a six-year-old child riding on a Kawasaki stand-up machine that was never meant to carry
passengers at all. That child should never have been on a machine intended for only one person. It was a single accident
and prompted immediate reaction, with all due respect to the Coast Guard, in that they posted on their website what I
would refer to as a temporary recommendation until the issue was investigated. I am not aware of any investigative
Since that occurrence, the U.S. Coast Guard has also investigated passengers riding on personal watercraft. The
board I serve on brought a resolution before the Coast Guard to investigate and take appropriate action on child
passengers. This resolution was passed in October 2004. The Coast Guard returned to the board this past April and
recommended that information be provided to the public, as there was no information showing any clear trend
involving children and accidents with personal watercraft. The board approved that recommendation, and in May the
Coast Guard quickly assembled a task force representative of industries. Bombardier Recreational Products
participated in that. It also included representatives of the public and Coast Guard.
The rapid conclusion is a safety brochure has been assembled and approved, and it will be distributed at the end of
June. I believe the Coast Guard took immediate action on an important issue. If you look at a timeline beginning in
October, information becoming publicly available in a matter of days is pretty respectable.
That is the background on the child passenger issue and the Canadian Coast Guard. I am not aware of any other
action the Canadian Coast Guard has taken. Industry will make the brochure available to the Canadian government
and users in Canada. That will be distributed beginning June 30.
On the issue of steering characteristics, particularly vis-à-vis boats with rudders, data has been provided by
Bombardier not only to the Canadian Coast Guard, but the U.S. Coast Guard, the Society of Automotive Engineers
and the International Organization for Standardization, the ISO. The Coast Guard has also evaluated rudder boats
recently. What we and others have found is that all boats that require propulsion to steer, due to their characteristics,
have decreased steering capabilities when throttle or thrust is removed, whether it is a propeller boat with a rudder or a
jet boat. It is a fundamental characteristic. It is the physics of a boat, given that there is no breaking system and no
direct contact with the surface such as with an automobile.
Our data and the Coast Guard testing, which occurred this past winter, showed all boats have compromised steering
when the throttle is released. What has industry done and what has Bombardier done? Bombardier was the first
manufacturer to introduce off-power assisted steering; the trade acronym is OPAS. We have followed that with OTS,
which is an off-throttle system. That technology is available on 75 per cent of our new models. As we phase out old
platforms, old hulls, and replace them with newer versions, that technology will be installed. Our goal is to have 100
per cent coverage. This system is integrated with the hull. It is not a stand-alone, bolt-on or add-on device.
The Society of Automotive Engineers has established a technical standard to evaluate off-throttle characteristics of
boats. The Coast Guard is familiar with that standard and has applied that test against traditional or rudder boats and
found there are some that cannot pass it either. They are currently investigating whether there is a need to take action
or further investigate rudder boats, and the conclusion of that is yet to be seen.
In addition, upon approving the SAE standard, the Coast Guard issued a statement thanking the society for
establishing a standard, but also for making very important findings. Their findings, in front of the U.S. Coast Guard,
showed no defect. The Coast Guard does not find personal watercraft defective in the area of off-throttle steering. The
technology being introduced and the technical standard issued is an enhancement to the product, but not an indication
of a defect. That is in an official document the Coast Guard issued to the Society of Automotive Engineers.
I mentioned that the Coast Guard has begun investigating traditional boats. In the short time since the data became
available, they have compared off-throttle steered boats, personal watercraft, with older boats not equipped with the
technology, and they have not found a different trend between the boats, which is consistent with what the Coast
Guard has been saying; that the issue is not the boat. It is the failure to operate the boat properly, through carelessness,
following too closely, being uneducated about the operation, operating too fast and so on. It is a one-year study
because the technology is still emerging, but the Coast Guard has not found a clear difference betweenoff-throttle
steered boats and those not so equipped. It is suggesting that the issue is not the product.
On the issue of accident statistics, with all due respect to the Canadian Coast Guard system, it is unfortunate that
Canadians do not gather comprehensive data on an annual basis. The United States does, but that is due to budgetary
obligations. The United States must report annually to the U.S. Coast Guard in order to qualify for boating safety
revenues. There is an incentive for the States to do so. However, that has provided good, solid data over the years for
There are Canadian data. I know my colleague from the trade association will speak in more detail on the most
recent Ontario Provincial Police data. It is important to understand that Ontario represents approximately 50 per cent
of the boating market in Canada. The trends are in contrast to what was discussed earlier in regard to personal
watercraft deaths. In the year 2003-04 there were none. In 2002 there was one. In 2001 there were two. Obviously, one
is too many. However, the trend is improving and the issue is small. That is not to underestimate the need for
prevention. It is important to recognize there is discontinuity in data within Canada, and we must be careful when we
look at data to ensure we have a representative set.
I will touch upon U.S. accident statistics shortly.
On the issue of sound, I will be brief. My colleague has discussed the technology we have on our boats. It is
important to understand that personal watercraft are subject to similar regulations as all boats.
One of the most stringent sound regulations that will come into play in January 2006 is the European Commission
regulation, which has been recognized by the EC technical officials as being at the technological limit of what is
possible. That is, if you remove the engine, the hull itself would be no quieter. That was the basis of this standard.
While the technical details can be boring, the point is it is by far the most stringent standard in the world. Personal
watercraft, particularly the Bombardier product, easily comply with that regulation. Even though it is a 2006
regulation, we are compliant now and our product has been compliant for at least two years. It speaks of the
technology of the product.
On the issue of the value of education and training, I will come back to U.S. statistics whereby we can see or monitor
trends. Where states have adopted training and mandatory education, there has been a dramatic reduction in accidents
and deaths involving personal watercraft and the entire boating community. Obviously, if you have more educated
boaters, the entire boating community will benefit. Where states have introduced mandatory education and policed it,
we have seen a minimum of a 35 per cent reduction in accidents, and as high as 70 per cent in the inland state of Utah,
which has a large boating opportunity on Lake Powell. The value of education and training cannot be understated and
should not be ignored. It should be supported and the resources to promote it provided because it has direct positive
results in boating safety for the entire boating community.
On the question of U.S. trends, the direction has been for states to adopt similar measures in regulating boats,
particularly personal watercraft. Industry and Bombardier have been leaders in promoting at the state levels the model
act referenced by the Coast Guard. Currently, approximately 28 states have adopted the model act or some similar
component. These states have shown a dramatic reduction in accident statistics, not only for personal watercraft but
for all boats. Fortunately, due to good tracking of statistics, we can see the direct correlation with education. When I
spoke of the value of education and training earlier, it is documented.
There is a dramatic occurrence in the U.S. state to state, and it follows the model act that the industry drafted and
has promoted. We are involved with the National State Boating Law Administrators. They have biannual conventions,
and we are always there pursuing those states that have not adopted some form of the model act.
It was mentioned that the National Park Service has changed its position on personal watercraft. Two
administrations prior took fast action and passed a ban on personal watercraft without due process. Industry and the
boating community sued the government because of that. The result was a mandate to conduct the proper scientific
studies to support a conclusion.
Every park that has performed an environmental impact study has been reopened to personal watercraft. The
remaining parks are mandated to finish their studies no later than March of next year. There is no reason to believe the
conclusions will be inconsistent with the other studies, which found no negative impact due to personal watercraft.
The last point I would like to communicate is about partnerships. Partnerships with industry have been a growing
trend in the U.S. The latest partnership we are working on is with the park officials at Lake Mead, in which industry is
attempting to reach an agreement to financially support signage in the park at boat ramps and fuel docks. In addition,
these safety brochures created by industry would also be distributed at the various park entry points, getting that
education and information out to the public and into the hands of the users.
I am ready for any questions you may have.
Mr. J. A. (Sandy) Currie, Executive Director, Canadian Marine Manufacturers Association: Like the senator, I am a
veteran of Bill S-26 all the way through to Bill S-12. I should also point out that in addition to being a lifelong boater
and the Executive Director of the Canadian Marine Manufacturers Association, I am a graduate of Bishop's
University and am familiar with the Eastern Townships. I have done a fair amount of boating in the Georgeville area.
This evening I am here not to just express the perspective of the companies who manufacture personal watercraft,
but to represent our entire membership. We fervently believe that what is at risk in this debate is not just the behaviour
of the personal watercraft operators, but more importantly, the future health of the industry.
To give you an indication of where we are with this, I will give you some facts and figures. There is a copy of an
executive summary of our economic impact study included in the folders I handed out this evening. In 2001, CMMA
and some industry partners contracted with a company to do the first-ever economic impact study of recreational
boating in Canada. Among the conclusions, the highlight is that in 2001, the recreational boating industry accounted
for over $11 billion worth of impact on the Canadian economy.
If you scale that back, go through the economist's role and boil it down to GDP, what it amounts to is our industry
accounts for approximately 0.78 per cent of the total Canadian GDP. It is not a lot; but nevertheless, we are a large
industry and we employ many people.
To support Mr. Marcouiller's comments with respect to the manufacturing and enjoyment of personal watercraft,
our study indicated that in 2001, a total of nearly $785 million of economic benefit was derived not only from the
manufacture, but from the use, resale, repair, accessorising, et cetera, of personal watercraft in the Canadian economy.
This would include the employment of just under 6,300 people, of which approximately 2,000 work in the
manufacturing sector. It includes not just those people who work at the factories owned by BRP, but also those in the
parts business who support their manufacturing endeavour.
There is a copy of this document here, but I will point out that the recreational boating community contributes a lot
of fuel tax to the Canadian economy and various governments. There is a grid in the package that we put together, and
you can see thatin 2003, the federal government received $110 million in federal sales tax from the boating community.
The provinces received just over $104 million. There is a lot of extra revenue from recreational boating going into the
various government budgets across the country.
I have been here before, so I will stay away from many of the topics that I have covered previously. However, I want
to make it clear that the CMMA's position, and our members' position, is that Bill S-12 is unnecessary and duplicative.
If you wish to ask questions about why we feel that way, I will be happy to answer them later. We believe it is unfair
because it is intended toover-regulate the use of only one kind of boat on the waterways of this country.
Bill S-12 ignores the fact that PWCs are required to comply with the same emission regulations as other boats used
While we are talking about safety, Mr. Garcia already mentioned a document I received this morning from the
Ontario Provincial Police tracking fatalities in the province of Ontario. There is a copy in the folio. In 2003-04, there
were no fatalities related to personal watercraft operation. In 2002 there was one. If you look at the spreadsheet I
provided, you will see it there.
I am not necessarily trying to suggest, as the grid might show, that other products are dangerous, because you will
see that there are more deaths involving canoes, kayaks and other power boats, but the fact is there have been no
fatalities in Ontario in the last two years and only one in the year before that. That is lamentable, but those are the
facts. As we heard earlier, there are very weak Canadian statistics. I am not criticizing the Lifesaving Society. They are
one of the organizations trying to collect information that is hard to find and to pull it together into reports that can be
used in a meaningful manner. The bottom line is that in Ontario, there were zero deaths in the past two years.
Tonight you have already heard from our colleagues at Transport Canada. They have brought forward three new
ideas with regard to influencing boater habits, boat operations and operator knowledge and adding a new schedule to
the boating restriction regulations.
We support the first two ideas. They are logical and go to the heart of the matter: How to increase operating
proficiency and how to make the boaters more aware of the difference between acceptable and unacceptable
behaviour. The proposals of Transport Canada also make it clear what the penalties for unacceptable behaviour are.
There is a contraventions code. You can be ticketed, or, if the actions are serious enough, charged with a criminal
The initial two ideas that the Transport Canada gentlemen presented tonight are the best ways to influence
The model law that Transport has suggested — and youhave had heard Mr. Marcouiller and Mr. Garcia make
reference to it — has been copied and is in the document that wehave provided this evening. If you compare that to a
copy of section 43 of the small vessel regulations, which I have also included, there are some similarities between the
NMMA or PWA's model law and what is already in place in this country. That does not mean that some additional
ideas from the model law in the United States could not be put to good use here if they were pursued and if the users
were informed of the situation.
The third Transport Canada proposal, to add a new schedule to the boating restriction regulation does, however,
give us some concern if it contains the option of a 200-metre perpendicular departure and arrival requirement for
In simple terms, our concerns are, first, adding a new schedule will mean more applications under a boating
regulation system that is at least partially dysfunctional. We have all heard about how frustrating it is. The addition of
a new schedule will simply feed more applications into a system that needs modification and upgrading.
Second, a 200-metre perpendicular zone will createon-the-water confusion. Boats will be confined to a smaller
surface area, and I will admit I am a boater. On Lake Simcoe, a 200-metre zone from shore is not likely to pose a
massive problem; in other areas it may. In the middle of Lake Memphremagog, by Georgetown and opposite Owl's
Head, it may not create a huge problem. It will not create a big problem on the north shore of Lake Superior or outside
Belleville on the shore of Lake Ontario. On a small river, where most Canadians go boating, it will force the activities
into a smaller water surface area. There will, unfortunately, be an increased potential for accidents to happen.
I discussed the next issue with one of the ladies in my office. She is married, has a couple of kids and wants to teach
them how to water-ski. She is not comfortable in the boat. She will go as a spotter when the kids are out, but she is not
necessarily comfortable. Her husband and kids love it. She has concerns about the children being forced to water-ski so
far offshore. She wants to keep the boats clear of the swimmers and the end of the dock, but the 30-metre, 10-K zone
accomplishes that. She does not want to see her children in a tube or on water skis or a wave board — if they go that
far — being towed out into the middle of the lake, where there is more traffic. They want to be within sight of the
cottage. This type of regulation may make that unworkable.
The biggest concern the industry has is that a 200-metre zone may keep Canadians from becoming boaters, or it may
keep current boaters from upgrading their product. If they are confined to a smaller space, they may be less inclined to
go boating. If they are less inclined to go boating, it will create a reduction in spending.
To give you an idea of the potential damage that a significant change in regulations might bring about, I have
included a document that we prepared last fall in a debate not on this topic, but where there would be a countervailing
duty imposed on boats coming from the United States. The damage to this industry could be catastrophic. I am talking
about the Byrd Amendment.
Had Canada imposed countervailing duties on U.S. imports, by now many of the dealerships in this country would
have closed. If there were to be any form of regulation with an impact on sales of boats, there would likely be
significant retail and, downstream, manufacturing and distribution job losses and business closures.
I am not trying to suggest that the report that we wrote on the Byrd Amendment describes exactly what would
happen, but we could do that evaluation if we needed to. That is meant to illustrate what could happen.
As big as this industry is, there is a small cluster of large businesses at the top and a huge number of small,
independent entrepreneur, mom-and-pop marinas and boat dealers spread across the country. They operate with
virtually no independent bank financing and on a very thin profit margin. There is no such thing as a return on capital.
Anything that would keep customers from coming to their door would have a devastating impact on their business.
We think that the focus of the discussion today should be on finding solutions to improve the recreational boating
landscape in this country, with an emphasis on how regulations and other measures can be to the benefit of the boaters
and the community as a whole. This can be done by improving operator knowledge and the training and competency
level of all boaters, which will enhance boating safety.
From the outset, the industry has supported the existence of the pleasure craft operator competency program, and
we hope that Transport Canada will be as dedicated to that program as the previous masters at the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans were.
However, knowledge and training will not be the only solutions to the problems. We are also lacking adequate
enforcement. Changes must be made to public policy to ensure that there will be a positive impact on enforcement.
Earlier tonight, you had discussions with our colleagues from Transport with respect to the enforcement situation.
There is a distinct lack of enforcement on the waterways of this country. Many boats across this country that are
owned by various police forces are either sitting at the dock with no fuel in the gas tank, or sitting on a trailer in a
police station, unable to be used because there are no funds. Either there are no funds for the boat operator, or the fuel
and the maintenance. We have to do something to fix that situation.
We believe that a fair and open process to regulate boating already exists. The Canada Shipping Act says a personal
watercraft is a boat. The boating restriction regulations already address that matter. We believe that we need to
enhance boating safety.
We need to improve funding for local groups, including cottagers, to deal with the issue of signage and alerting local
and visiting boaters to responsible boating practices on a particular body of water and the local regulations. Funds
from the marine fuel tax revenues need to be diverted to a consumer and boater awareness program. Funds need to be
sent to police agencies and educational organizations who deliver the operator knowledge programs to both seasoned
and new boaters.
We need to create a national fund, such as they have in the United States, which can be used to promote boating
safety on a constant basis. In the U.S. it is called the Wallop-Breaux Trust Fund and is worth hundreds of millions
dollars, the source of which is the marine fuel tax revenue. We need to go down that path because the potential benefits
are great. We also need to modernize the vessel licensing system, which does not mean creating a likeness of the gun
registry and spending tens of millions or more. Rather, we are talking about simply computerizing an existing system.
As an example of the handicap we are dealing with, Transport Canada is unable to tell us how many licensed vessels
thereare in Canada. They know how many were licensed at the end of 2003, but they do not know how many new
licences were issued last year or how many used boats were transferred from one owner to another because the system
is not computerized. The paper-based system requires a paper form to be filled out that is then filed in a box that sits on
the floor in a customs office and is effectively forgotten. We need to fix that system.
We also need to provide the enforcement organizations with access to a database containing the names and other
pertinent information of all Canadians who have pleasure craft operator competency cards. There is no existing
national database. This is in contrast to the driver's licensing system. Each person in this room likely has a driver's
licence. Regardless of the province, a police officer is able to determine in a moment whether an operator's permit is
valid or has been suspended. Yet, we do not have any database of such information on pleasure craft operator
competency cards. Each organization that has issued cards has its own database, but none of that information is
centralized. That needs to be done; such a move will improve boating safety.
We must update the BRR process to improve how the regulations are created. They must be processed in a timely,
more efficient and less confusing fashion. That is one of the mainstays of Senator Spivak's bill, not singling out
personal watercraft, but finding a way to use legislation more efficiently and avoid the current frustration. We suggest
that Transport Canada be required to accept and process BRR applications on a quarterly basis. This would bring the
applications forward more frequently than currently.
Senator Banks commented on how frustrating it has been, and we have heard other anecdotes in the past to that
effect. We have suggested before that Transport Canada should be required to improve the situation, and now is the
right time to make that happen.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Currie; some of those thoughts were interesting.
Senator Angus: I have a couple of initial questions. Mr. Marcouiller, is Bombardier a member of the Canadian
Marine Manufacturers Association?
Mr. Marcouiller: Yes, Bombardier Recreational Products is a member and I am a member of the board of the
Senator Angus: You work together.
Mr. Marcouiller: Yes, but we are not a member of CMMA only because of personal watercraft. We also
manufacture sport boats, jet boats. They use the same technology as personal watercraft, except they are longer and
wider. Jet boats basically use the same technology but will not be covered byBill S-12 because of a definition problem.
As I said before, we also manufacture Evinrude and Johnson outboard engines.
Senator Angus: The information is well covered in your brief. In terms of the reorganization, BRP was created when
it was spun off to three principal shareholders: the caisse populaire, Bain and the family. What are the percentages?
Mr. Marcouiller: Bain has 50 per cent, the family has 35 per cent, and the caisse populaire has 15 per cent.
Senator Angus: Does the family control it through two classes of special shares? Who controls the company?
Mr. Marcouiller: It is controlled by all shareholders. There is no special mechanism of control.
Senator Angus: I understand it is a fine Canadian enterprise, but I also understand that Bain is an American
Mr. Marcouiller: Yes.
Senator Angus: It is 50 per cent Canadian controlled.
Mr. Marcouiller: Yes.
Mr. Marcouiller: However, I must say, unofficially, that there have been indications, as this is the way that
investment banks often proceed with this type of transaction, that show that an investor can eventually be replaced by
Senator Angus: For the moment, I want to ask some questions about the improved craft that the company
manufactures these days. Mr. Garcia and you went into the details of reduced noise and pollution and improved safety
factors, which make a case.
One could say it makes a case, to use a Transport Canada word, for not having your current product subject to this
bill. What about the thousands of the old kind of Sea-Doos out there?
Mr. Marcouiller: Let me make some general comments. When new standards are introduced, either for the
environment or for construction, this does not mean that we have discarded all the products which, up to now, had
been used or produced according to the old standards? This means that we cannot turn around and say that because we
have new standards, we discard the rest. And the same thing applies to personal watercraft.
Although I have no precise statistics, I can tell you that a personal watercraft has a much shorter useful life than an
outboard motor. As for the old two-stroke technology, it is found everywhere on this planet and, naturally, in Canada.
Should all the two-stroke motors that date back to the 50s and 60s, or even more recent ones or even those being sold
today, be set aside, because new regulations will be implemented in two years? They should not. And the same applies
to personal watercraft. There is no special treatment for watercraft. The system is universal.
Senator Angus: You people have come before our committee to urge us not to pass this private senator's bill. The
senators have had much evidence in the past about the old product, which is now probably well past its useful life.
What would you say if we passed a law that applied to all the old kinds of Sea-Doos, not only the Bombardier ones,
but Yamahas and all of those that do not meet the safety norms?
We have heard of these of fatalities, where a child is in the water, the driver sees the child, turns off the power, and
the thing keeps gliding forward. These are sad and unfortunate accidents that are a matter of record. You have
indicated that you have made technological advances to obviate those dangers. Quite frankly, the safety of life and
limb is probably the primordial concern if one is trying to fill the gap that the government has left. The government has
had many chances to address the problem. We are sadly lacking there, as you can see tonight. In fact it is a bit of a
I am giving you an opportunity to speak. Would you be happy with that compromise? Not that I am offering it.
Mr. Garcia: I do not think, with all due respect, that that is a good compromise. It would be unprecedented. Let us
look at the automotive industry. There have been improvements in anti-skid braking systems. Automobiles have
dramatically reduced their emissions since the 1980s, when catalyzers became effective. We have airbags. We all know
about the technology in our cars today. When was it proposed to ban older cars because they were dirty?
Senator Angus: You are missing the point. I am trying to give you an opportunity to speak. There is a mindset here.
You came before this committee long before I was a member. This is the fourth time you have been here. There is
clearly a will to target personal watercraft, and some of those craft have become, if I believe your evidence — and I do
— obsolete, but they are still out there in use.
You do not know how far-reaching this committee is. We may be passing a bill sooner than you think to the effect
that all automobiles are banned except hybrid vehicles. We are into the One-Tonne Challenge.
Mr. Garcia: It would be unprecedented.
Senator Angus: You might say this bill is unprecedented.
Mr. Garcia: It is not. You have heard it three times before.
Senator Angus: It has always been this private bill of Senator Spivak targeting a product, which you say is unfair,
unjust and probably illegal on its face. That is what I am hearing.
Mr. Garcia: We spoke already of the National Parks Service in the U.S., which acted politically and banned
personal watercraft. When the science was required to be done, the product was welcomed back, although in a different
Senator Angus: That is my point. Maybe your current product is quite okay.
Mr. Garcia: That was my introductory response, but on the issue of the old product, I am sure we have mentioned
already the life cycle of a personal watercraft is in the order of seven years. The phase-out of these older-technology
products is occurring. We are reaching the point of very rapid disappearance.
I have spoken on the fairness issue, the automotive comparison and so forth, but keep in mind that this product,
when designed, sold and operated, is on a par with any other marine product in the market in environmental terms.
When it was designed and sold, it met the regulation. Look at the emissions of personal watercraft. For a comparison,
emissions from an old-technology personal watercraft were in the order of 150 grams per kilowatt hour. A 9.9 six-horse
or four-horse outboard two-stroke is in the order of 400 to 500 on the same scale. I think it is a pretty responsible
product if you compare it to the countless single-cylinder, two-cylinder, three-cylinder outboards that have a life of up
to 25 years.
Senator Angus: I do not want to interrupt you, but I am trying to help you here. I am the new kid on the block. You
may be absolutely right. Earlier, I stated I had an open mind when I came here tonight. However, I know many people
who have heard all the evidence and whose minds are pretty well made up on those earlier iterations of the product,
whether you like it or not. I do not know how many are out there. One of my researchers told me there were 7,000. I do
not know how many there are of these older kind that do not meet all the safety standards.
Mr. Garcia: With respect to the environmental aspect of this older technology, on the issue of sound, it was
compliant when it was designed. Short of the European regulation being in force next year, these products are still
compliant with today's standards.
Senator Angus: We could ban everything then. I do not see why you keep pushing the older one. This is hypothetical.
What if the legislator were to say, ``We do not care what you have to say. We are banning those earlier ones?'' Would
you give a new Sea-Doo to all those people, replace them for free? How serious is the economic issue?
Mr. Garcia: I apologize for giving a lengthy response.
Senator Angus: I do not want to know about the past. You are saying they are all compliant. I agree they are. I am
not arguing that. This bill says it does not care whether they were compliant then. It is saying it wants the authority to
issue orders whereby they can be banned. You people are coming here and saying, ``Please do not do that,'' for many
reasons. I am trying to find out how good the new technology is. The real concern, as I understand it — I am just one
person here — is the safety factor. You have addressed the noise pollution. You have addressed the gas emissions and
so on. I am saying, let us accept those. What about these earlier ones that are still in service?
Mr. Garcia: I apologize for my lengthy response. I will get to my point very quickly.
We have spoken on the environment and sound issues. On the issue of safety, the product is not defective; it is not
unsafe. It was designed for safety. It remains safe.
The issues we are discussing today are enforcement and educated operators. Replacing or banning an old product
will not address the issues. That is not the problem. The problem is not the old product. The issues at hand, which we
all want to address, are enforcement and education. Banning old technology is not where the issue lies.
Senator Angus: Have you ever been in the situation where you have one thing you want to say, but somebody else
has another point of view? You may be here to discuss education and safety, but we may not be. We are here trying to
pass a law that will ban all your products. I am trying to find out what you would do if we said we will only ban those
old ones. I guess that would be better than banning everything.
Mr. Garcia: The issue is not the old product versus the new product. The issue is irresponsible users. If you put the
same people on an old product or a new product, they will behave the same way. The product will not take control of
Senator Angus: Do you understand what I am saying?
Mr. Marcouiller: Yes, I understand your good intentions very well. As my colleague said, when these products were
put on the market, they were up to standard.
Senator Angus: This is patently obvious.
Mr. Marcouiller: We do agree on that point.
Senator Angus: Nonetheless, quite a few legislators want to amend the act and ban the sale of these products.
Mr. Marcouiller: We came here to convince you that the bill that is before you will not really solve the problem. The
problem goes well beyond banning old craft, reducing their use or restricting certain crafts from certain waterways
because they will not be restricted everywhere.
Senator Angus: I understand your arguments.
Mr. Marcouiller: We came here to make you aware of the fact that there are other ways to improve the situation. As
a manufacturer, Bombardier recreational products has nothing to be ashamed of with regard to social responsibility
and commitment to improving its products.
The products we made were up to standard and if the standards had been different, we would have followed them.
On the other hand, on our own initiative, we contributed to advance technology as regards the environmental
performance of our vehicles. We even did more than what was expected of us.
Let us look at the picture as a whole. We can draw the conclusion that our company has nothing to be ashamed of
as far as its performance is concerned. With regard to emissions, there are about two million motor watercrafts in
Canada, and 45,000 of them are personal watercrafts.
My colleague said that old motor boats had a useful life of 25 years. Our vehicles have a useful life of about seven
years. We have made enormous progress and we are not the only ones to produce this kind of craft because we have 50
per cent of the personal watercraft market.
Why single out our product, when we have made such commendable progress? As for banning old technologies, I
think that this is a much more general issue that is related to what my colleague was saying. Should certain cars be
banned because they are ten years old?
In the United States, we are carrying out studies in order to reduce the impact of old technology, but we have not
reached that point yet. We are trying to find out how it can be done without wasting money. As a company, we have
shareholders and employees. We are aware of the situation and we believe that the best contribution would be made by
building new, better craft to replace craft of inferior quality.
Senator Angus: If everything you have just said is correct, then your company has made a commendable effort to
make these products safer. If the evidence is correct, you have solved a future problem. Your company is not the
manufacturer of these older models.
Look at what has happened in the tanker industry. At a certain point, society decided it did not want single-hulled
tankers out there carrying oil. Where is the cut-off line? Is it 17 years? 18 years? The same thing happened with bulk
carriers. It turned out that after age 16 or 17, these bulk carriers carrying iron ore were starting to disappear onto the
bottom of the ocean, with 40 seamen on board. It became a terrible problem for society, and after a certain age, these
vessels now have to be sent to the breakers in Japan and Korea, and we say, ``They are all yours.''
The same thing should be happening in your industry. You are not the manufacturer of the older machines that are
the big danger, but the reality is that these vehicles have caused a great deal of injury and a number of deaths. I am not
saying BRP vehicles are causing the deaths. The old vehicles are a problem. I was trying to help you by asking if you
would be happy with this bill if it were to apply only to those vehicles that are not the technologically advanced,
current state-of-the-art machines that you people are making. That is all I was trying to do, Mr. Chairman. I thought it
Mr. Marcouiller: It is a welcome comment.
Senator Angus: You kept insisting the older vehicles are good as well. I would argue that those tankers now being
sent to the breakers were good at a certain point too.
Society's needs are evolving, and we must adapt to this. Things are different now, with the concept of a transparent
Mr. Marcouiller: I understand your comment very well.
The Chairman: Mr. Garcia, in respect of the question that Senator Angus asked, you have said it would not make
any difference, that the old ones are the same as the new ones. How can you, in the same argument, claim to have made
all these improvements? You tell us that you have improved the steering capacity. You claim to have reduced the sound
and fixed the emissions problems. If they are the same, why did you bother doing that?
Mr. Garcia: It is a matter of being a leader. We are a leader in our industry. It is not by chance that we have a 50-
per-cent market share. We continually strive to improve, and I believe our product is state of the art. My point was
simply if you do not have a responsible operator, the age of the product does not matter. He will operate it
Senator Angus: There is no doubt about that. That is another issue.
The Chairman: So the off-power assisted steering you have developed for your product does not make any
Mr. Garcia: Let me describe that technology.
The Chairman: We understand the technology.
Mr. Garcia: The technology is an enhancement. It does not actually steer the boat. It initiates the turn of the boat.
However, if you want to continue to manoeuvre, you must continue to apply thrust. This is a fundamental concept on
any boat. It initiates a turn, and it is really a feature to remind the operator to operate his vessel properly.
It is similar to an automobile. Have you ever attempted to steer an automobile after the engine is shut off? Without
thatpower-steering pump running, it is extremely hard to turn that car. Accidents have occurred as a result of the
engine turning off.
The off-power steering is an enhancement to the steering capabilities, but it does not replace proper operation.
The Chairman: I would like to clarify one point, because I do not know whether you were using automotive
terminology. You said off-power steering is available.
Mr. Garcia: It is available.
The Chairman: Is it standard equipment?
Mr. Garcia: It is. It is now in its third year of production. We are introducing the technology as we replace older
hulls, because the system is integrated with the hull. It is not a bolt-on afterthought.
The Chairman: Does a new one today have that new hull?
Mr. Garcia: Three-quarters of our models do. The remaining portion will be fitted with new hulls within the next
The Chairman: Eventually, every machine you sell will have that feature? It is not an add-on?
Mr. Garcia: For Bombardier products, yes.
Senator Angus: I have a couple of final questions on the statistics. Perhaps Mr. Currie or Mr. Marcouiller could
You mentioned that there were only two deaths in the last two years that you were aware of. You also mentioned
that there were many accidents, but you do not have statistics on them.
Do you have statistics in your company on the Bombardier product? Our sense is that the products are hazardous.
You are not getting arguments from me about the operations. The vessel regulations under Transport Canada say you
have to be 16 years old to operate a watercraft, and there are kids five years old driving them around. Members of the
board of directors of Bombardier own these products, but they are being driven by the kids. That is when terrible
things happen, and it scares the hell out of this committee and the entire Senate.
This may be using a sledgehammer to kill an ant; there may be a better way to negotiate this. The laws in existence
need to be enforced. People should not be allowing six-year-old children to ride around on Sea-Doos.
However, if there is still a hazard with the older model, Mr. Garcia described an improvement whereby when you
push a red button to stop or turn off the power, the forward momentum will cease and the craft will come to an almost
immediate halt. Is that true?
Mr. Garcia: It slows down dramatically, yes.
Senator Angus: That is quite an improvement over earlier models. Is that right?
Mr. Garcia: There are measurable improvements, yes.
Senator Angus: I do not know about many boats. One of the things I had to learn in navigation when I was in the
merchant marine was how long it takes at seven knots with certain sea conditions to stop a vessel, et cetera. You must
have all those numbers; that is your field.
Mr. Garcia: Again, there have been dramatic improvements to the characteristics of the boat, whether it is slowing
down, coasting, or initiating a turn. We publicly presented the improvements to that product.
It is Bombardier's position that operators should be a minimum of 16 years old. I hope that our company executives
are complying with their own recommendation. I can only speak on my own behalf.
Senator Angus: I am sure they are.
I was trying to create a scenario of fathers who buy these things, get a licence, and they have kids and grandchildren.
It is so much fun. They start off by having the child sitting on the back, they go zooming all around, and suddenly the
child falls off. That is situation number one.
Another situation would be children who thought it was so much fun, the next thing you know, they are out there
on their own. That is human behaviour that cannot be changed by legislation.
I am the first one to understand and argue that, but you folks are here because there is an initiative by a certain
group of senators to do something that will be deleterious to your industry, as I understand your position.
I was trying to explore with you how much safer the current generation of Sea-Doos are compared to the ones that
were operating when Senator Spivak first brought the bill forward. Your equipment has changed a lot. Does one size
I spoke with the chairman the other day and asked him what was coming up on our agenda. He said this issue was
coming up, so tell me about it. I said these things have changed and are much safer.
Let me listen to the evidence, and you can tell me that there is a huge difference between today's product and the
product four years ago in terms of safety and maneuverability. However, as the manufacturer, you cannot control who
Mr. Garcia: Is the product safer? Yes. Is it enhanced? Yes. Is the old product safe? Yes.
Senator Cochrane: We have heard from your parent company a couple of times previously regarding this particular
Mr. Marcouiller: I am not aware that our company came here to testify.
Senator Cochrane: No, they were representatives from the association.
Mr. Marcouiller: If I may repeat what I have just said, we are no longer a subsidiary of Bombardier. That is not our
parent company any more.
Senator Cochrane: This retrofitting that you are talking about is new to me. That was not talked about when we had
people here from your association previously, so when did it take place?
Mr. Marcouiller: I have attended hearings where an outside expert presented this very technology to this committee
in comparing personal watercraft that used it and those that did not. This is not information that we brought ourselves,
and it was not a very developed kind of presentation. However, it was brought to the attention of the committee in
Senator Cochrane: What percentage of watercraft would you say have now been retrofitted?
Mr. Marcouiller: As my colleague has said, they have not been retrofitted, in a sense, because this is not a new
feature that is an add-on. It comes built into the vessel.
Mr. Garcia: The technology we have been speaking of is part of newly designed boats. It is not a retrofit.
There are after-market devices that attempt to provide enhancements to a product. The U.S. Coast Guard
commissioned the Underwriters' Laboratories to study those devices, and they found that they do not enhance the
overall safety of the product but, typically, introduce another hazard. In fixing one problem, they created another.
The technology we are speaking of has been introduced. The earliest model to use it was introduced in 1998.
Mr. Marcouiller: This technology is not new. It is something that has been applied to more product lines. As my
colleague has said, it will be on all of our products very soon, on all of our personal watercraft. We were the first to
develop that technology and apply it to our products.
Senator Cochrane: A growing body of safety experts believe, contrary to industry claims, that the vehicles themselves
and not simply the riders cause numerous injuries and fatalities throughout the U.S. These products are also a menace
to swimmers, kayakers, boaters, and anyone who shares the water in good faith.
I will continue and tell you what we have heard about these Sea-Doos.
Once the key is turned off, there is no other mechanism with which to steer the craft. As well, once turned off, it
travels 348 feet before it comes to a stop. That is the length of a football field. Just imagine not being able to steer or
stop such a watercraft. That could cause many injuries, and not just to the person on the watercraft, but also to others
in the water nearby. With the newly installed system, how many feet would it take before the watercraft came to a stop?
Mr. Garcia: On the issue of menace, as more Canadians and Americans find pleasure in boating, thereby putting
more people on the water, we have an issue of user conflicts. On the issue of power steering, two technologies have been
developed: off-power assisted steering, OPAS; and off-throttle assisted steering, OTAS. The coasting and lack of
steering are characteristic of a boat. No boats have brakes and all boats have compromised steering once thrust or
power is removed. That has been documented by our testing and by the U.S. Coast Guard in applying the personal
watercraft steering test to conventional boats. They have found that some rudder boats failed also. We are speaking of
a characteristic of a boat. Why do boats not have brakes? The drag of water is so great that if you applied any kind of
brake, the boat would stop but not the passengers. It is purely the physics of water versus air, density and so forth. We
are speaking of characteristics of all boats in varying degrees. Personal watercraft have a tendency to coast farther than
larger, heavier boats because that is a characteristic of a lightweight small hull, which creates less drag. Once again, it is
a matter of physics. Can we improve upon that? Yes, we can. We have introduced the technologies, which I mentioned,
that dramatically reduce the coasting distance, but more importantly, initiate a turn when necessary.
Senator Cochrane: What is the stopping distance?
Mr. Garcia: Truthfully, I cannot give that figure.
Senator Cochrane: Would it about one half or three quarters of the distance without the new technology?
Mr. Garcia: I am not avoiding your question, senator, but I can only say that the difference is dramatic. The
distance will vary greatly with the number of people in the boat, wave conditions, fresh or salt water, which has greater
buoyancy, and other factors. I will not be vague and will say that the honest answer to your question is a dramatic
Senator Cochrane: I would prefer to know the specific figure.
Senator Angus: Fresh water, no wind, one passenger.
The Chairman: I want to be careful about our understanding of the words. You said that tests show steering is
compromised in all vessels when the power is cut. When a vessel of any size or shape loses way, you cannot steer it. If
there is no forward motion, you cannot steer any boat, even if it had 100 rudders. Our understanding of the difference
between a boat with an outboard motor and a rudder and a rudderless personal watercraft is that when the power is
lost and the skiff is drifting, you can use the rudder to help direct the forward drift.
Mr. Garcia: That is correct.
The Chairman: Personal watercraft are steered by the jet of water coming out the stern, and when the power stops
and the craft is coasting forward there is no means of steering. The steering was not merely compromised, it was
reduced to zero. That is our understanding. Is it correct?
Mr. Garcia: It is not correct in a pure sense.
The Chairman: How would you steer such a powerless craft?
Mr. Garcia: The water would still be coming through the jet nozzle, although it would be dramatically reduced. Yes,
the steering is compromised, but it is not reduced to zero.
Senator Cochrane: I want to give you an example. I am sitting in my living room and my husband and I are watching
TV. Suddenly, I hear tires squealing and I say to my husband that I swear to God someone will be killed. What would
your response be to something like that? I am sure you have heard the squealing of car tires and kids trying to make a
noise so everyone knows they can drive a car. What would your response be to something like that?
Mr. Garcia: As a father, my first response would be to hope that the parents know what the kids are doing. Beyond
that, I do not know. Perhaps they were braking hard to avoid a child crossing the street.
Senator Cochrane: That is not usually the case.
Mr. Marcouiller: You must have a question behind this question.
Senator Cochrane: I do. I have a quote from your website that says: ``You'll swear you hear tires squeal.'' Now that
makes me shudder. It does not leave me with a good image.
Mr. Marcouiller: I have not seen this. Is it currently on the website?
Senator Cochrane: It is for the Sea-Doo RXP personal watercraft on your website.
The Chairman: For the purposes of the record, is Sea-Doo a BRP brand name?
Mr. Garcia: Yes, Sea-Doo is a brand name.
Senator Cochrane: I do not like such advertisements because kids are so easily influenced. Is that your ad?
Mr. Garcia: It is our website. For clarification, are you asking us to comment on it?
Senator Cochrane: Yes, because I do not like it. It encourages kids to like squealing tires, screeching engines and
Mr. Garcia: The minimum age to operate a personal watercraft is 16 years.
Senator Cochrane: A 16-year-old is still a kid.
The Chairman: I knew everything when I was 16.
Senator Cochrane: Perhaps you could improve on your ad.
Mr. Garcia: Indeed, this is marketing material. We see and hear many interesting marketing messages on television
Senator Cochrane: We do not need more of them is my message.
Mr. Garcia: In many ways, you could be correct, keeping in mind that this is a marketing document.
Mr. Marcouiller: Senator, I will relay your message.
The Chairman: The point Senator Cochrane has made has to do with the question you asked earlier, about singling
out these particular craft. What is the difference between this and the guy with his fishing boat? The answer given in
your company's advertisement, which the senator has just shown you, is this machine is made to go fast; and in order
to illustrate that, the ad says you will swear you hear tires squealing. The point is you take off at high speeds, roadster
racing style. That is one thing distinguishing these vessels, not from cigarette boats, but most other vessels. That was
the point Senator Cochrane brought home, to me at least.
Mr. Marcouiller: Message received.
Senator Cochrane: You will get it to your marketing people. Thank you.
The Chairman: The boat is designed to go fast in a hurry.
Mr. Marcouiller: I will let Mr. Garcia speak on this. He is the specialist on the top speed limit of these boats.
Mr. Garcia: I am not justifying the statement here. There are different segments of every product line. This
particular model addresses the performance market. I would be less than truthful if I told you otherwise. We have
other segments, family boats and so forth. Indeed, this is a performance boat for the performance market. Again, your
comments will be passed on.
With regard to speed, BRP led the commitment to the U.S. Coast Guard years ago — I believe it is at least five years
— to cap the capability of all personal watercraft at 65 miles per hour. We were alone in that commitment for about a
year, before the other manufacturers followed suit.
We continue to be committed to that. Last year, a competitor submitted a complaint to the U.S. Coast Guard that
we were exceeding that limit. The Coast Guard purchased the actual model, performed an independent test and found
we were not. I believe it was based more on competition than actual speed concerns. There is a commitment from
industry, established by BRP, to 65 miles an hour. Recently, it was contested and the Coast Guard independently
confirmed we were compliant with that commitment.
Senator Cochrane: Your industry has made great improvements in reducing emissions in recent years, and the 75 per
cent reduction in hydrocarbon emissions does deserve credit. In the same period, you have greatly increased the engine
size of these craft, from 50 or 60 horsepower several years ago to over 200 horsepower today.
Mr. Garcia: Horsepower has increased with engine displacement. Why has that occurred? We needed larger engines
to reduce the emissions, or even to maintain the same level of performance. Power and displacement have increased
beyond that. Why? Because the versatility or utility of the product has expanded. Where the market started with a
single-passenger vessel and moved to a two-passenger vessel, it is now a three-passenger vessel. There are some four-
passenger personal watercraft.
The request from consumers is to be able to do more with the personal watercraft, to water-ski. The latest trend is
wakeboarding. A wakeboard is a large board. It has more drag, so you need more power to pull the wakeboarder out
of the water. In addition, people are requesting more comfort in the product. It is more stable, dryer and has more
creature comforts. For example, one boat has a built-in GPS unit. To move wake you need more power.
I will not deny that the speed has increased up to that commitment, but the basis for the greater horsepower is to
satisfy the consumers, and they want more to do with a personal watercraft. As the boat gets larger, it gets heavier. As
people want to do more, you need more power — again, wakeboarding. You need power.
Senator Cochrane: Does it make more noise?
Mr. Garcia: It actually has reduced noise.
Senator Cochrane: What have you done to design a vehicle to make less noise?
Mr. Garcia: The core engine has changed. We developed four-stroke engines and direct-injection technology. The
source of most noise is vibration. The older engines, two-stroke outboards, are unstable. They do their job but are very
unstable. They shake. Anytime anything moves, it will create noise.
We made the engine far smoother at the source. We have also addressed the other sources of noise. You have noise
coming from the engine breathing air. We have changed that plumbing to make it quieter. We have changed the
technology of our engine mounts so the engine transfers less vibration to the hull. We have new mounting geometry, as
we call it. Obviously, the exhaust system has changed tremendously, because that is a source of noise. We have added
many acoustics to the inside of the boat, to the hull, to keep the noise inside.
We have changed the hull design. When we made the boats more efficient, we made the hulls quieter. Are they
silent? No. Sources of sound are multiple, and we have addressed all of them.
Senator Cochrane: That is only in your recent models.
Mr. Garcia: The earliest introduction of the D-Sea-Bel technology was in 1998. Over the years we have enhanced it.
Now all our models today have this technology in various arrangements. As the years go by, we continue to reduce the
sound, to the point where I would invite you to go out on a watercraft. I was out with my kids this weekend, and the
wind was noisier than the boat. The product is nearly silent now.
Senator Cochrane: That was one of Senator Spivak's concerns when this bill was brought forward.
Mr. Garcia: If you can imagine 65 personal watercraft, 50 per cent of which are Sea-Doos, and one was modified,
you would hear that one boat among the other 64. We have talked about the issue of education and modifications.
Modifications will be more difficult to do, as Environment Canada is finalizing emission regulations for all boats,
including personal watercraft. That regulation will make it difficult to make changes to your engine. It is like your
automobile. You cannot do anything to automobiles because emission levels must be maintained. All you can do is add
gas. If you change something, you violate your warranty. The same thing will happen with boats. It will be such an
optimized engine that to change something would void your warranty; and it will have a negative impact. The boats
will have a lower performance. There will be fewer modifications in the future.
Unfortunately, there are still modifications out there today that we need to address. The source of noise is typically
a modified product.
Senator Cochrane: There has been litigation in the U.S. on injury cases involving Jet Skis. They have been settled out
of court. Do you have any idea what the total settlement costs were for some of these companies?
Mr. Garcia: I do not know. It is not accurate to say they have all been settled out of court. Many have gone to court
and it was found that the operator had misused the product. Have many been settled out of court? That is correct, but I
do not have any specific knowledge of that.
Senator Cochrane: They found the operator to be guilty and it was nothing to do with the craft?
Mr. Garcia: There are cases where the operator was intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, following much too
closely and other such behaviours.
Senator Cochrane: Have there been any involving problems with the watercraft?
Mr. Garcia: I am not aware of any case where the product was the sole source of the accident.
Senator Cochrane: Mr. Currie, I cannot believe there is no database.
Mr. Currie: It does not exist. There is a flaw in the enabling legislation that Transport and Justice are trying to
patch. The appropriate patch should require the sharing of the data. However, there is a bigger problem; the Privacy
Act gets in the way.
Senator Cochrane: If I am not mistaken, you told us that when you were here before.
Mr. Currie: That is correct.
Senator Cochrane: No one is listening, chair.
The Chairman: I am.
Mr. Currie: I know you are. This goes back to what Mr. Forster and his colleagues were speaking about. The
transfer from DFO to Transport of the Office of Boating Safety created a lull in terms of certain regulatory reforms
and other changes moving forward. I am not defending them, I am just speaking from my perspective as a member of
the National Recreational Boating Advisory Council; things stagnated as they were going through that process.
They have now identified where the ball is and they are reaching out to grab it and try to keep it rolling forward.
Repairing the gaps in the PCOC enabling regulations is one of their priorities. They recognize that they need to deal
with the database issue. Without it, the police have no way of knowing whether a card is valid or not. The biggest
problem they have run into is not the mechanics of repairing the legislation, but how to deal with the Privacy Act. They
are stuck in terms of trying to figure out what to do there.
The Chairman: Who are ``they?''
Mr. Currie: Transport. I presume they are receiving legal advice, either from in-house counsel or from Justice. I am
not privy to the source of their advice. We have been led to believe that one, and maybe the best, solution is to engage
an independent contractor mandated to collect the information, and then make it that contractor's responsibility to
share that information with search and rescue and the police agencies. That is only hearsay, and may not be 100 per
cent accurate. That is what we hear may be the best workable solution.
Senator Cochrane: Unless we have enforcement on our waters, nothing will happen. I know where you are coming
from when you say the enforcement vessels — in my province, it is the Coast Guard — are sitting there unused. We
have problems on the ocean with overfishing, dumping of bilge oil, you name it. I know for a fact that those Coast
Guard vessels have been sitting in Halifax Harbour because they did not have money for fuel.
Mr. Currie: I cannot remember which year it was, but I can tell you anecdotally that in the not-too-distant past, the
entire capital budget for the OPP marine segment was $250,000. It is not a lot of money when you consider they have
to buy X number of new boats with all the gear and train their people to get out on the water. There are 2 million-plus
power boats in this country and 1 million of those are running around in Ontario on various bodies of water. Some of
those may only be little boats with electric motors, but many of the lakes, like the one I go boating on, have 500
cottages. There are at least two power boats at every dock. On the one day the OPP detachment from Bracebridge
comes to Moon River, the etiquette is unbelievable. On the other days, it is less so.
We have to find a way to fund these operations so they get out on the water.
Senator Cochrane: You are so right.
The Chairman: However, we can only deal with the marine capabilities of the Coast Guard and the RCMP. We
cannot do anything about the OPP.
Mr. Currie: That is correct. There are some 125-footcutter-type vessels being purchased for patrolling the Great
Lakes. They will not be of any use with respect to pleasure craft. You could not get them into most harbours where
pleasure craft go; and heaven forbid the day, unless it is an emergency, that someone on a pleasure craft would need to
be rescued by one of these things. They are great big ships, not enforcement boats.
The Chairman: They are enforcement boats, but a different kind of enforcement.
Mr. Currie: Yes, but they are also being touted as a supplementary way to deal with the recreational boating
community. They will not be able to do that.
The Chairman: There are those who say that they might. If your yacht is sinking, taking on water, you would be
happy to see a 125-foot cutter pull alongside you and send out a Zodiac.
Mr. Currie: Absolutely, but my own boat is a 19-foot deck boat with an inboard-outboard motor. If somebody on
a125-foot patrol boat was trying to track me down, they would not catch me, and my boat only goes 40 miles an hour.
The fact is you have to have the right tool for the job. We have many good-spirited, well-trained people out there
who unfortunately are missing the right tool.
The Chairman: The kind of enforcement you are talking about is missing, but 125-foot boats do not generally go 40
knots, not on the lakes.
Senator Adams: I have a little difficulty. We have other regulations for other equipment — a motorcycle, let us say,
or any type of equipment that makes a noise. To me, Bill S-12 looks like it is aimed at people with cottages on lakes
and things like that.
I am familiar with personal watercraft, but we do not have them up in the Arctic because the water is too cold. To
operate a machine like that, we would need special sweatsuits.
I think you said you have money in some of your companies for more education systems, to tell people how to
operate the equipment. Any type of boat I have been on does not have a prop any more. If you have an outboard
motor and you run over someone, you can hit them with the prop. However, personal watercraft mostly operate with a
jet engine; the prop is inside the pipe and the water is sucked in through the bottom of the machine.
I can see that the watercraft might turn over if it is doing 65 miles an hour; it depends on the type of water you are
driving on. We work in the water, it is nice. If I am driving in two or three feet of water and there are waves, it is not
operating the same way.
Say my engine quits. I can tip it over on the side. I do not go a straight 300 miles the same way, where you are
standing in the water. That is like seeing somebody on the highway with no brakes. You are standing there in one place
and he cannot stop and will run over you.
That makes the watercraft a little different from a car or a motorcycle.
Senator Spivak is mostly concerned about people not being able to navigate. If somebody went out on the lake he
would not know how to get back. I have a little difficulty with that. There are organizations for the people in the
community. We have not heard from many. They can make regulations for Sea-Doos.
We must remember that many people are employed to produce machines like that. We heard a figure of $500 million
a year; is that only in reference to personal watercraft?
Mr. Marcouiller: Total revenues or sales of our company, BRP, are about $2.5 billion, of which about $500 million
comes from personal watercraft sales.
Senator Adams: Is there a Canadian standards association? Does Transport Canada regulate the industry?
Mr. Garcia: In Canada, the Coast Guard has a set of standards called the TP 1332. Various components of those
regulations apply to different types of boats, but there is a specific set of regulations on personal watercraft with which
the products do comply.
Senator Adams: You can stand on a highway and be run over by a car. If I run over somebody on the water, at least
that person will kind of sink anyway. How heavy are those watercraft? Would people be killed if one of these machines
ran over them?
Mr. Marcouiller: Personal floating devices are mandated for personal watercraft. That is one of the reasons the
statistics concerning drowning related to personal watercraft are relatively low. Personal floating devices are used on
personal watercraft, which is not the case for other types of boats.
The Chairman: Senator Adams, to answer your question — we will hear from these folks later this week — of the 68
deaths attributable to personal watercraft that are recorded on this chart, 24 were from drowning and most of the other
44 were from blunt trauma.
Senator Adams: Are those cases of drowning after falling off the machine?
Mr. Marcouiller: Where are those statistics from?
The Chairman: This may be the U.S. Coast Guard; I am not sure. It is page 31 of something. These must be United
States numbers. It is a set of graphs of types of boating accidents from the year 2000, of which we will make you a
copy. It breaks down the number of accidents and injuries for different kinds of boats.
The answer, in this case, to Senator Adams's question is that of the 68 people who were killed in accidents of one
kind or another that were attributable to personal watercraft, 44 are listed under ``other causes'' and 24 were by
Senator Adams: Maybe Mr. Currie understands this information better. We do not know if it is the machine's fault.
It could be alcohol related. It could be somebody who does not know how to drive the machine and hits somebody else.
Do you hear much about regulations in the area of boating from your local association or your cottagers?
Mr. Currie: I spoke to our cottage association as a member a couple of weeks ago. I am not here as their spokesman,
but a general synopsis of the reaction I got is that the cottagers in our area support the idea of people gaining
knowledge and of there being more enforcement on the water.
They approach the 200-metre concept with great trepidation because large sections of the body of water that we are
on are500 metres wide. All of a sudden, we have a narrow path for boating.
Other cottager associations would have to give you their own perspectives. No one supports drinking and operating
a vessel. As far as our association is concerned, it is water on the water and beer when you are tied to the pier. That is
as far as it should ever go.
The only other scenario that we would entertain is if you have a large boat that meets provincial requirements under
the Liquor Licensing Act, you are at anchor and the sun is going down, you have the right equipment on board, a
galley and sleeping accommodations and you want to have a night cap — why not?
With respect to Ontario, there is a copy of this documentin the information I provided. I would not want to qualify
alcohol-related fatalities in Ontario as significant or insignificant, but effectively, from 1997 through to 2004, they have
gone from 14 as the high down to nine.
The ``do not drink while you are operating a boat'' message of various organizations — the Red Cross, the
Lifesaving Society, the Corinthian-minded groups — and the extra education that the Pleasure Craft Operator
certification system is delivering to the boaters, is sinking in. I do not know if that answers your question.
Senator Adams: In the Transport Committee we learned that over 3,000 people are killed in car accidents every year
on highways in Canada. I know Senator Spivak and have worked with her for 20 years now on different committees.
She is concerned about more than noise; she is concerned that people are being killed by motor craft. We have to
ensure that we are taking the right step in making a law.
Mr. Currie: With all due respect, most of the issues related to sound level and exhaust level emissions of these
particular types of boats have either been addressed through the USEPA regulations or will be through the upcoming
CEPA regulations that will cover vehicles such as boats.
Our big challenge has to do with the BRR process, which is what Senator Spivak is driving at, and operator
behaviour. There would be no need for BRR if the boaters would operate their boats properly. The challenge is to find
the right recipe to change the behaviour of the community that is buying our products.
Senator Adams: In the United States, 50 people are killed every year, out of a population of more than 200 million.
How does the rate of usage of motor craft compare between the United States and Canada? When we talk about the
number of cottage owners who are drowned every year, we do not use American statistics. We make our own laws in
Where I live, it is very cold. We do not have personal watercraft, but we have Ski-Doos. Sometimes young people
decide to go hunting on the land when the weather is nice. They may go with no snow knife, sleeping bag or food, and
they may get lost. When there is a whiteout, those people cannot be found until the storm is over. They have no
sleeping bag and cannot build an igloo because they have no snow knife. They can run out of gas, try to walk back and
get lost. That really has nothing to do with equipment, but it has everything to do with the education system. I want to
make sure we make a law that is good. I am not here to argue with your company. If I had a company like yours, I
would be concerned too. Maybe we need a better education system. Maybe the cottage owners have to be more
understanding. It does not matter what type of equipment you have, as long as you have an engine, it will make noise.
As you say, we have four- stroke engines now that make less noise. It is only young people who say they will not buy
them because 60 miles an hour is not fast enough. That is the kind of thing that people will deal with.
Senator Cochrane: Senator, you were talking about the population of the U.S. It is 300 million. You missed it by 100
Senator Adams: That means 50 million.
Senator Cochrane: Just for the record, senator.
The Chairman: I was surprised when you told Senator Angus that the shareholdings are ``normal'' and are split 50/
50. That is a recipe for disaster. Someone must have a shareholders' agreement or something so someone has some
kind of control.
Mr. Marcouiller: I am not familiar with the particular arrangements of the ownership of the company. If you wanted
to know more about it, I could inquire.
The Chairman: I certainly do not. I was just curious.
You talked about the fact that your product now meets the extremely stringent European regulations, in that the
motor is no louder than the sound of the hull moving along the water, or something to that effect.
Mr. Garcia: Nearly the sound level of the hull, yes.
The Chairman: Are those same engines in the vessels that I would buy in a store today in North America?
Mr. Garcia: They are identical. We have only one world model.
The Chairman: The sales of personal watercraft are about 20 per cent of your total sales?
Mr. Marcouiller: Of all products, roughly, yes.
The Chairman: Is 80 per cent of that exported?
Mr. Marcouiller: Yes. It may vary.
The Chairman: The numbers are approximate. Therefore, 20 per cent of that is domestic sales.
Mr. Marcouiller: Yes. I would have to look at the specific figures though. Domestic sales are probably a little less
The Chairman: You talked about the worldwide implications of this bill if it was to become law, and I just want to
get a handle on what the extent of the difficulty would be. No one wants to do any harm to any Canadian business or
lose a single job, but I do not understand how this bill would affect any sales of this product in Australia, for example,
unless Australia passed a similar bill. This bill would apply only to Canada. We are talking about the impact on
whatever proportion of the 20 per cent of domestic sales that would be affected by this. One assumes there will be many
municipalities that do not care about it or do want these kinds of recreational vehicles on their waterways. We do not
know the proportion, but the effect would be on 20 per cent of 20 per cent of your total production of these vehicles,
give or take a nickel.
Mr. Marcouiller: It is hard to quantify the impact of a law.
The Chairman: We do not know, but the most that could be affected would be 20 per cent of 20 per cent.
Mr. Marcouiller: We are saying that, worldwide, we are the premier manufacturer of personal watercraft. We are the
market leader. We are proud to say that we are the technological leader. We have had in the past, in the case of the
U.S., bans or restrictions, as Mr. Garcia explained. We have had them also in Australia and Spain. BRP has been
greatly involved — in some countries it was the only company involved — in investing in training, education, and in
convincing governments to put in place legislation that recognized that the product was safe and well built and that
emphasized education and enforcement more than controlling the personal watercraft because it was thought to be
something that in itself was a problem. This bill says that there are particular problems with the product, including
environmental problems and so forth. Coming from our own country where the industry is based, this type of
judgment would eventually be used by those in other countries, who would say, ``Well, Canada, where this company is
very important and well considered and so forth, has passed a judgment that became a law to ban or restrict personal
watercraft.'' It is hard for us to say what the true impact will be, but it will not be positive. It will be an evaluation, a
judgment on the part of government of our industry, our own company and the products we manufacture. This will
cause problems. It is hard to quantify, but certainly it will be a problem for us.
The Chairman: I want us to have an understanding of the scale. We are talking about, give or take a nickel, $100
million in domestic sales.
Mr. Marcouiller: It is less than that.
The Chairman: This is an example. If there were a law that said you cannot sell any such product in Canada, the
impact on your company would be $100 million, give or take a nickel.
Senator Angus: That is not the number.
Mr. Marcouiller: The sales vary, but it would be important anyway.
The Chairman: Yes, that is a lot of money.
Mr. Marcouiller: It would be less than that, but it would be important.
Mr. Currie: I am not here to defend anyone. I am here to be the generic witness. The domestic danger here is that the
use and enjoyment of these vessels, which includes the manufacturing and the various trickle-down businesses that
depend on them, is a $750 million per annum business in this country. BRP can account for the direct and immediate
impact on their business, but the danger is that the overall impact could be as high as $0.75 billion. It would be
somewhat silly for me to say that all of that business will be lost. If bans and restrictions became widespread, and
depending on where they occurred, the impact would be significant. If, for example, there were to be a prohibition on
the use and, therefore, the sale of personal watercraft in the Muskokas, the Kawarthas and the Haliburton area of
Ontario, that would effectively shut down the Ontario market, which would mean that sales offices, mechanics and
others in the business, including tourism operators, rental operators and so forth, would go out of business or reduce
their workforce. That is where the danger is.
The Chairman: We have heard that the capacity to do that already exists in the Canada Shipping Act. That
argument was made by Transport.
Mr. Currie: Under the Canada Shipping Act, a group of citizens decides that a body of water is to be limited tonon-
motorized vessels, and they apply it to the entire body of water, all of Lake Simcoe, all of Lake Memphremagog,
whatever it happens to be.
The Chairman: The impact on these particular vessels would be the same?
Mr. Currie: It would be enormous. It would be of the order of magnitude of what we ran into when we quantified
the impact of the Byrd Amendment.
Yes, we could go out and conduct an investigation on this. We have an economic model now that could probably be
programmed to pull this information out of Statistics Canada data, but suffice it to say that the actual number is
somewhere between what the direct impact on BRP would be and what we have identified at $750 million as of 2001.
Only research would be able to tell us where it is in between those two.
Mr. Garcia: I could provide three examples of events that have occurred. The fear is real. The world is getting
smaller and communications are excellent. Yes indeed, it is challenging to give you a precise description of the exact
impact, but let me give you three examples: We mentioned Australia. Australia did move forward with banning
personal watercraft in certain areas based on what the U.S. National Parks Service did. We have reversed the National
Parks Service decision, but that ban still exists in Australia.
Another example is when the National Parks Service proposed banning two-stroke snowmobiles in Yellowstone,
which is a small region. Sweden immediately proposed a similar regulation, and it took us four years to undo that.
A third example is there have recently been hearings in Quebec on restricting snowmobiles or bans on snowmobile
trails. It had an immediate impact on the northeast states in the United States.
We live in a global market that communicates quite well, and the possibility of events in one market impacting
another is real. It has happened. This bill will have an impact. It is difficult to predict exactly what that will be, but
there will be a global impact, I can assure you, because it has occurred already.
Mr. Marcouiller: If I may make a supplementary comment regarding the public consultation now going on in
Quebec onoff-road vehicles, ATVs and snowmobiles, we are involved in this consultation, obviously. We have met
with officials of the Department of Transportation in Quebec, and they have told us that all provinces, many U.S.
states and other jurisdictions all over the world have called them to be kept informed, because they believe that if we
adopt a model here, where the product was developed and the use is widespread, it could spread to many jurisdictions.
Therefore, depending on decisions taken and the legislation adopted, this can have a serious economic impact, directly
and in the long run, as this product becomes perhaps less interesting to the consumer because it is more difficult to use.
Senator Angus: I have one question and one comment. You had better hope that Mr. Charest is not defeated on the
snowmobiles. Can you water-ski behind these PWCs?
Mr. Garcia: Absolutely. The only one for which that is difficult is the performance machine, because it is not
designed to pull water skiers, but all the other craft are quite fun to water ski with.
Senator Adams: You are not the only company making those kinds of machines. You have competition, such as
Polaris, Yamaha and Suzuki. Are those companies affected the same way? These watercraft are not only Ski-Doos.
There are different types and models. Are you mostly concerned about your project at Bombardier, or are you
concerned about the others?
Mr. Marcouiller: We are concerned about the entire industry, but it happens that in this particular line of products,
we are the market leader worldwide. In the past, we have found ourselves in situations where we had such issues in
certain countries. I will not name companies and I will not name countries. However, we invited our competitors to
join us in developing a better system, and they refused. Again, as a responsible company, we are at the forefront of
promoting and defending our products when we have to.
Mr. Garcia: We have a 50 per cent market share on personal watercraft. The closest competitor is Yamaha, with in
the order of 25 or 30 per cent. The impact would be twice as great on BRP as on our nearest competitors. The other
Japanese manufacturers have half of that market share, so the impact is yet half of that. We would be harmed by far
Mr. Marcouiller: We are a company with revenues of $2.5 billion. They are important revenues. However, we are a
small company compared to some of our competitors. This will have a greater relative impact on us because our
competitors are part of a multibillion dollar industry offering other products such as motorcycles and so forth, which
we are not.
The Chairman: Thank you, gentlemen, very much. We appreciate your time. You will note that we are nothing if not
The committee adjourned.