Energy Safety and Security Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to have an opportunity to put some questions to the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley because, unlike the hon. member for Red Deer, I suspect he may have read Bill C-22 and knows there is nothing in the bill that has anything to do with tankers or a safety regime for shipping oil in tankers. I mean no disrespect to the hon. member for Red Deer. I think he was handed a speech he had not written that spoke to a lot of measures that have nothing to do with Bill C-22.

The tanker methods and measures that were mentioned by the hon. member for Red Deer, such as double-hulled tankers, which are not in Bill C-22, have been required globally since 1978. I think there should be a statute of limitations on how often this administration can announce a global standard that has existed since 1978, but which, by the way, is not mentioned in Bill C-22.

Let us talk about Bill C-22, which is a regime for liability for drilling in the offshore. That is what it is about. It sets limits that, as the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has pointed out, will do absolutely nothing to deal with a major disaster such as may happen if they go ahead and drill a deepwater oil well called Old Harry in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where no one should be drilling for oil.

I want to ask my hon. colleague one specific question, because I find it fascinating. On page 35 of Bill C-22, we find this wonderful statement about violations of the act. It states, “The purpose of the penalty is to promote compliance with this Act and not to punish”.

What does he make of that?

Nathan Cullen: Mr. Speaker, that statement buried within the bill tells us that certainly the Conservative government would never want to punish anybody in the oil sector. If people happen to donate to an environmental charity or be part of a social justice group, they would all be looking for punishment from the Conservatives, but if they are in oil, they are okay.

The association to risk is what is important here. If people could go to a casino and gamble knowing that no matter how much they gambled, they could only lose $100, it would probably influence the way they gambled. They would bet lots of money, knowing that there was no way for them to lose more than this maximum amount.

I do not suggest that drilling for oil is exactly like going to Vegas, but it has some similar qualities. The oil companies will say it is a one-in-a-thousand chance. They are into risk, but if a cap is placed on that risk, it encourages behaviour that we do not want, which is high-risk behaviour.

Finally, the member made the point that a lot of the Conservatives’ speeches are about tanker traffic and pipelines and so on. What the Conservatives are doing is so obvious that it is a bit unseemly. They are trying to soften the ground for the announcement that is coming with respect to Enbridge and the northern gateway. That is what this is about. They want the public to believe that somehow double-hulled tankers are going to save the day. They have been in place for more than a generation, and suddenly the Conservatives are going to talk tough on oil. No one is going to believe them, because it is not true.