Green Party amendments strengthening ‘polluter pay’ principle pass in committee

OTTAWA – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, successfully amended Bill C-46, the Pipeline Safety Act, to strengthen protections for taxpayers and First Nations in the event of a pipeline spill.

“I am thrilled that the Conservative members of the Natural Resources Committee chose to recognize the need to strengthen the polluter pay principle in Bill C-46. My amendments corrected what I saw as major weaknesses of the bill: that much of the recovery of funds from polluters is discretionary and that First Nations Peoples are not adequately included.” May said.

The Natural Resources Committee voted to pass two Green Party amendments. The first amendment enables Aboriginal governing bodies to be reimbursed for actions they take in relation to a spill. The second amendment mandates that the National Energy Board recover costs paid out from government funds to deal with a pipeline spill to compensate those affected.

They are the first Green Party amendments to a government bill that have been adopted, and among the only opposition sponsored amendments to be adopted in committee in this parliament.

“Bill C-46 is a step in the right direction, and the government’s willingness to remedy gaps in the legislation related to the recovery of public funds and compensation of Aboriginal Peoples is commendable,” May said. “However, no amount of improvements in pipeline safety requirements can actually prevent the environmental destruction that inevitably occurs when transporting diluted bitumen across our most sensitive ecosystems.”

“A spill will occur and it will be impossible to clean up. Further, no safety requirements will change the fact that the current system for assessing pipelines woefully excludes any discussion of climate change and systematically strips First Nations Peoples of their rights to meaningfully participate,” May said.