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Speech on Bill C-48: Oil Tanker Moratorium Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Jaffer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cordy, for the second reading of Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast.

Hon. Scott Tannas: Honourable colleagues, I’m rising to speak briefly to Bill C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast, known by many Canadians as “the tanker ban.”

This is one piece of multiple actions that Prime Minister Trudeau committed to when he formed a grand bargain to balance the demands of a significant block of his supporters with the reality of having a functioning energy sector that can pay taxes, create jobs and contribute to the economy. This grand bargain he explained quite eloquently and thoroughly in a speech that he made on November 29, 2016.

In the speech, the Prime Minister referred to a number of steps that were being taken to satisfy the environmental bloc that supports it. He spoke of the Oceans Protection Plan and the investment of more than a billion dollars in that plan. He announced that same day the cancellation — “dismissal,” he called it — of the Northern Gateway project. He referred to the tanker moratorium for the West Coast, and he spoke glowingly of Alberta’s leadership on climate change. Here is what he had to say:

. . . let me say this definitively: We could not have approved this project —

— and he was speaking about Kinder Morgan, because that same day, he announced Kinder Morgan —

— without the leadership of Premier Notley, and Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan – a plan that commits to pricing carbon and capping oilsands emissions at 100 megatonnes per year.

We want to be clear on this point, because it is important and sometimes not well understood. Alberta’s climate plan is a vital contributor to our national strategy.

So that was the bargain. Alberta would come on side, there would be these steps, including the tanker ban, and all of these steps would help to balance the decision that was also announced that day, which was the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Let’s review where we are today in that grand bargain. Ocean Protections Plan, check. Cancellation of Northern Gateway, check. Alberta climate change cheerleading continuing, check. The tanker ban is in the final stages right here before us. Energy East smothered. That was a bonus. That was never referred to, but that actually has come about as well. We have TMX, the Trans Mountain pipeline, in purgatory at the moment.

Colleagues, Bill C-48 was introduced in May 2017, and it was conceived, clearly, on the assumption that Trans Mountain would proceed. I don’t think there is anybody who could credibly claim that all of the environmental measures were to be put in place and maybe Trans Mountain would happen.

What does that mean for Bill C-48? Well, without the Trans Mountain pipeline and with the tanker moratorium, there is absolutely no possibility for Alberta to get its product to tidewater. We will have closed the gate and made any alternative solution, if Trans Mountain fails, impossible.

That was not the plan. It was just not the plan, as evidenced by what the Prime Minister said when he made his series of announcements in November 2016.

As we move this bill through the final steps to becoming law, let’s keep in mind what the plan was. If TMX is not through all its obstacles and ready for construction by the time this bill comes back for third reading, then I think we should do one of two things: We should delay the approval, or we should amend the bill to suggest that the moratorium does not come into effect until Trans Mountain is under construction.

Thank you.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)