THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY, THE ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
OTTAWA, Thursday, February 28, 2013
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, to which was referred Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada), met this day at 8 a.m. to give consideration to the bill; to study the current state of the safety elements of the bulk transport of hydrocarbon products in Canada; and to consider a draft budget.
Senator Richard Neufeld (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. My name is Richard Neufeld. I represent the province of British Columbia in the Senate, and I am the chair of this committee.
I would like to welcome honourable senators, any members of the public with us in the room, and viewers all across the country who are watching on television.
I will now ask the senators around the table to introduce themselves. I will start by introducing the deputy chair, Senator Grant Mitchell, from Alberta.
Senator Ogilvie: Kelvin Ogilvie, Nova Scotia.
Senator Seidman: Judith Seidman, Montreal, Quebec.
Senator Patterson: Dennis Patterson, Nunavut.
Senator Wallace: John Wallace, New Brunswick.
Senator Massicotte: Paul Massicotte, Montreal.
Senator Brown: Bert Brown, Alberta.
The Chair: You can see that they all sit on the same side of the table, so it is a friendly group.
I would also like to introduce our clerk, Lynn Gordon, and our two Library of Parliament analysts, Marc LeBlanc and Sam Banks.
Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada), was referred to our committee on Tuesday, February 26. This private member's bill, which originated in the other place, changes the name of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada to Thousand Islands National Park of Canada. It is my pleasure today to welcome the sponsor of the bill, Mr. Gord Brown, Member of Parliament for Leeds—Grenville.
Thank you for being with us. I understand you will provide us with some background about this bill, so please proceed with your comments, after which we will have a question-and-answer period. The floor is yours.
Gord Brown, Member of Parliament for Leeds—Granville, sponsor of the bill: Good morning. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Senators, it is an honour to be here. It is the first time I have been in front of a Senate committee in my almost nine-year career in the House of Commons. Thank you for your consideration of this bill. I will briefly describe the reasons for the bill, and then I will be pleased to answer any questions about it.
It is a short bill, but it will make a huge difference in my riding and I thank you again on behalf of everyone who wishes to see this name change happen as quickly as possible. I should note that those include all the municipalities along the length of the park. Those are municipalities along the St. Lawrence River. They have all passed resolutions supporting this bill. We also have had interest from the native community, residents and businesses in the region that are also supportive.
There are a number of key points that I wish to make, and I will cover these as quickly as I can so you can have an understanding of why this bill is so important to the economic development in my riding.
St. Lawrence Islands National Park was established in 1904 as the first Canadian national park east of the Rocky Mountains. The park is located in what is popularly known and identified worldwide as the Thousand Islands. It was formed as a result of the last ice age. The Thousand Islands region provides a land bridge across the St. Lawrence River for plants and animals and is an area of rich biodiversity.
It is at a naturally occurring confluence of important geological formations, and it is also at a naturally occurring confluence of the cultural history of our nation. It joins the Canadian Shield in the North and the Adirondack Mountains in the south.
The Great Lakes, particularly Lake Ontario, which lie to its west, provide a heat sink that helps moderate both winter and summer temperatures in the region which, in turn, attracts flora and fauna that might not otherwise be found in the area. As a result, the area in which the park is located has been recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve.
The park consists of several ecologically important mainland properties and several islands which lie between Kingston and Brockville. The visitor centre at Mallorytown Landing provides an introduction to the park with a hiking trail, interpretive programs, exhibits and family activities. The park is a partner in encouraging sustainable lifestyles and in protecting the ecosystems of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve.
When Europeans first discovered this region, the French named it Les Milles Isles, and the English named the islands in 1816 with important names from the British navy. Traders and settlers heading into the Canadian interior passed by the islands.
Throughout its known history, it has continued to be identified as the Thousand Islands. Today, many people in the area already refer to the park as Thousand Islands National Park because this is how the region is known.
Visitor services are a growing and important part of the economic development of the region that encompasses this park. Visitor services are increasingly important as the economic mix of the area has changed from manufacturing over the past 15 years. Visitors from around the globe flock to the area to see the Thousand Islands. The latest statistics that are available from Statistics Canada indicate that 438 enterprises consider themselves visitor-based in my riding. They employ almost 6,000 people. Scattered throughout the riding, but concentrated in the area closest to the Thousand Islands, visitor services, by any account, are a very large employer in my riding.
Our government has been supportive of this economic change by helping to fund the Maritime Discovery Centre in Brockville, which is now called the Aquatarium, which will open this coming June.
When Parks Canada celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in 2011 and the parks were advertised nationally to promote this anniversary, there were, once again, questions raised about the name of this park. From coast to coast to coast, when you hear the name in terms of our national parks, they are generally named after the most significant feature in their region. When you hear the name St. Lawrence Islands National Parks, you do not grasp where the park is located. The St. Lawrence River, as most of you would know, is long, and the park could be anywhere on its length, from Kingston to the Gaspé.
Probably one of the most important aspects of this bill is to change the name of the park, and it all has to do with branding. Marketing associations describe a brand as a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers. Among other things, branding is about getting your target market to choose one product or destination over the competition and, hopefully, to see your product or destination as the best choice.
One of the objectives that a good brand will achieve is delivering the message clearly. “Thousand Islands” is the drawing card and the clear message for the region. It is the brand upon which the region plans its future and reviews its past.
My hometown of Gananoque is billed as the Canadian Gateway to the Thousand Islands. Brockville calls itself the City of the Thousand Islands. In Parks Canada's description of the park, we read that St. Lawrence Islands National Park is located in the heart of the Thousand Islands area.
The Federal Tourism Strategy released in 2011 has a section that specifically deals with national parks. It notes that our country has one of the greatest national parks systems in the world. The parks attract visitors, generate economic activity and bring our natural heritage closer to Canadians and visitors from other countries. They help to protect and manage ecosystems so that we can all understand, enjoy and appreciate them, while preserving them for future generations.
There is no doubt that Canada's national parks are important to this government and important to Canadians and will continue to be a valued asset in this country.
The tourism strategy has a specific goal for national parks. It states that over the next five years visitation to national parks will increase by 10 per cent, in part by increasing their attractiveness as destinations and improving the quality of visitor experiences. One of the ways we can achieve that goal is by providing the branding necessary for identification and research by the travelling public.
It is important that visitors can properly locate the parks. The tourism strategy also encourages Canadian tourism enterprises and attractions to develop what they call signature attractions. Tourism operators in the Thousand Islands are already taking advantage of this.
The brand that local tourism operators use to describe their area is simply “the Thousand Islands.” It is important to understand that this is not a new brand for the area. It is one of historical and cultural significance. “Thousand Islands” is the name used by everyone in the region to differentiate themselves from any other region.
In naming national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites or geographical features in a park or site, Parks Canada follows the general principles of the Geographical Names Board of Canada. There is no historical record about how and why St. Lawrence Islands National Park acquired its name. The general procedure to propose a new name or change a name states that a federal authority would generally investigate a name by consulting the residents of the area, historical documents and files and other sources. Parks Canada has completed this.
When I began working on this issue a number of years ago, I consulted with business owners, chambers of commerce and members of municipal councils throughout the region. Some were actually surprised that the park was not already named Thousand Islands National Park, as they had been referring to it by that name for many years. There had been a recommendation, a number of years ago — it actually goes back to the 1970s — that the name be changed, but it never happened.
If you conduct an Internet search for St. Lawrence Islands, you find very little information. If you conduct a similar search for Thousand Islands, you will find a great deal of information, all tied to the region where the park is located. This is an indication that the Thousand Islands name is the one that is popularly used to describe the region and the place where the park is located.
Compounding the current name problem for the national park is the fact that the Ontario government operates an agency called Parks of the St. Lawrence. I actually used to be the chair of that agency before I was elected to the House of Commons. That agency operates properties along the entire length of the Ontario portion of the St. Lawrence River, from Kingston to the Quebec border, and it operates attractions that you will be familiar with, such as Upper Canada Village and Fort Henry, as well as parks and golf courses. I can tell you that when I chaired that agency there was often confusion over exactly what we were doing. Even when people are aware that they are searching for a national park with St. Lawrence in its name, they can often confuse it with that provincial government agency.
To sum up, future economic development for the region demands that the park be easily identified in its location on the lengthy St. Lawrence River, and that location is the Thousand Islands. Thousand Islands National Park is the natural name for this park.
I am happy to take questions. I thank the Senate for moving this bill through to second reading and to committee, and I look forward to its passage. I know the folks in my riding hope to see this happen as soon as possible.
I am open to your questions.
The Chair: Thank you very much for the good background information. We will now go to questions. I will defer to my deputy chair, Senator Mitchell.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you for that.
As you were talking about the importance of the name and branding, I took it that there was no traction for the name Gord Brown (Member of Parliament) National Park?
Mr. Brown: We consulted on that, but there was not a lot of uptake. I appreciate that you would support such a name.
Senator Mitchell: Absolutely.
You have worked hard for this name change, and you make great sense.
To give people who are watching an idea of the economic importance of the outdoor recreation and tourism economy in this country, do you have any idea of the kind of economic impact of people in that park today and what you expect it might be with increased branding?
Mr. Brown: It is the largest employer in the region. My background is in tourism. I was the chair of that agency — the St. Lawrence Parks Commission — that operates those attractions. As well, I used to be President of the Chamber of Commerce in Gananoque and the Thousand Islands. I know it is a growing business. Just in the last couple of years we have seen increased visitation there from around the world, with the new approved destination status for China. There are more and more Chinese visitors coming. There have been some cooperation and friendship agreements between the Thousand Islands Lake in China and the Thousand Islands here in Canada, which is helping to bring even more people. It really has become, as we have seen a decline in manufacturing over the last number of years, the predominant industry, and the region depends on it more than it ever has.
Senator Mitchell: Great.
I guess it is 1,864 islands, actually. We just googled it. You are rounding down. It is even better than the name would suggest.
Mr. Brown: I appreciate that comment, senator. The fact is that many of those islands are actually in the United States, but we do have the most islands of the thousand in Canada, and most of those islands are, in fact, in my riding.
Senator Massicotte: I should explain that I usually sit on the other side, but I thought the bill was so heavy that they would need some help this morning.
It makes a lot of sense. I understand it. However, just to make sure we get all the information on the table, what is the objection of the one person who objects, and why is that not appropriate?
Mr. Brown: Thank you for that question. There was only one vote in opposition at third reading in the House of Commons. In the second reading vote, the New Democrats opposed it, but only because they were looking for more information. The information was: How much will this cost?
First, we are really only changing the words “St. Lawrence” to “Thousand,” but Parks Canada has indicated that there would be about a $100,000 cost over a 10-year period. Most of that cost would be for sign changes, but most of the expenditure would, in fact, be ongoing maintenance to update signs and other materials, such as printed collateral, as well as work on the website. It is things that would be ongoing expenditures, in any event. They have indicated that the cost is very minimal.
Senator Massicotte: No one in the area objects? There is not one person who has said they do not agree?
Mr. Brown: No one in the region ever said it was not a good idea. As I said in my opening comments, people actually thought that was the name. The only way to change the name is through the National Parks Act. I was actually surprised when we started on this journey a number of years ago that we had to go to the length of actually introducing legislation to change the name.
Senator Massicotte: When they initially chose the St. Lawrence name, when you go through the history, is there nothing symbolic about that name, other than that it is the name of the seaway? Is there nothing historically significant?
Mr. Brown: No. We could not find anything that indicated why they called it that at that time. As I said before, it was the first national park east of the Rockies. Even before the park was originally designated, there was a real call for the protection of islands for public use. These islands are privately owned, and the islands that are part of the park are, of course, open to the public.
Senator Patterson: I would like to thank Mr. Brown for an excellent presentation and for acknowledging that Canada has three coasts, including the Arctic coast, which is actually the longest coast.
I think this bill has no controversy attached to it and I fully support it.
Could you elaborate a little bit on your comments about the area having rich natural and cultural diversity, please?
Mr. Brown: As I said before, Lake Ontario very much acts as a heat sink. That means it moderates the climate in that area. I live in Gananoque, which is right in the centre of the Thousand Islands, and it is an hour and a half drive here to Ottawa. The temperature in the summer is very much cooler, and it is warmer in the winter. On a frigid day here in Ottawa, it might be as much as 10 degrees warmer just an hour and a half south of here.
That means there are different flora and fauna. It is a very ecologically diverse region, which is why it has this designation. Many species are unique to that region; there is a unique and biodiverse culture. That means there are lots of different flora and fauna, and that is why so many people have worked to bring about this Biosphere Reserve designation. There are so many people who are working on the environmental protection of these lands. There have been some conservation easements of many of these properties to ensure protection of these lands. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve is working very much to develop environmental tourism along with that, in a sustainable way.
That sort of explains, I think, very much how that is such an important part of the community in that region.
Senator Seidman: Mr. Brown, you can count me as someone who always thought it was called the Thousand Islands. As a Montrealer, it is about an hour and a half drive to the area, and I have often driven along the Thousand Islands Parkway. The name is so very much entrenched.
I wanted to ask you one thing. I know it is a gateway to the U.S. as well, because there is a bridge to the U.S. there and the U.S. portion of the Thousand Islands. I presume this makes it much more coherent in the sense that it unites that name — the Canadian component of the Thousand Islands and the U.S. component of the Thousand Islands.
Mr. Brown: Yes, you are correct. There is a border crossing right in the middle of the park, the Thousand Islands Bridge, which is celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary this coming summer.
You are absolutely right that it is an international destination. There are significant cross-border efforts to promote the region, and those efforts all surround the Thousand Islands name. You are absolutely correct, and I do have the privilege of living on that Thousand Islands Parkway.
Senator Seidman: You are very fortunate, and thank you for the bill.
Senator Wallace: Mr. Brown, as you were saying, this will enhance the ability to market the park and brand it for what it is and what its people know that area to be. When you said that, and you spoke of Canada’s Federal Tourism Strategy for national parks, it made me think: Is there a marketing plan for this park; is there a document that specifically markets this park?
As you mentioned, tourists from around the world — China and otherwise — are attracted to this region. It made me wonder if there was a strategy specific to the park with a targeted audience that you are approaching. If so, how does this bill tie into that?
Mr. Brown: First, what really started to drive this for me a couple of years ago were the ads that were running nationally, celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of our parks system. Featured prominently in that ad was a young girl running on some rocks in the Thousand Islands. It said “St. Lawrence Islands National Park,” and it did not mean anything to people in terms of exactly where it was located. As I said, it could have been located anywhere from Kingston to the Gaspé.
The purpose of this bill is to clearly identify where this park is located, which will then be used in terms of the branding and marketing the park. I know that the folks at the park are anxiously waiting for this bill to go through Parliament so that they can start enhancing their efforts. They have felt that the current name has been an impediment to their efforts to market the park itself.
However, Parks Canada has been a significant tourism partner in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve and has worked closely with the tourism organizations along the region to promote the Thousand Islands. This will be just another part of enhancing that.
Senator Wallace: Are federal monies dedicated specifically to the marketing and promotion of that park? Annually, is there a strategy developed, marketing materials and so on?
Mr. Brown: They work cooperatively with the other groups, whether it be on websites or printed materials. Also, it is all part of the national parks promotion strategy in terms of what is happening on that end.
There are significant local efforts, as well, to promote the park, in conjunction with other tourism partners.
Senator Brown: I am really quite flattered with everyone here calling me “Mr. Brown” this morning; I feel like I am much more popular than I used to be.
At any rate, you were saying we have to change “St. Lawrence Islands” to “Thousand Islands.” What will the Americans say about it? Do they have any objections at all?
Mr. Brown: We have the Thousand Islands International Tourism Council, which is a joint tourism promotion effort. That name is used on both sides of the border. It really is an international destination, and they will be delighted to enhance that.
Senator Brown: What is costing the $100,000 to do this? Is it a lot of signs that have to be changed or do new people have to be hired?
Mr. Brown: No. A lot of the signs are these slats that they can just slide in and change the one word. That is why they do not believe the cost will be very much. Almost all of the expenditure is for ongoing maintenance and changes such as websites. There is the yearly change of the printed materials in any event. They have estimated over 10 years that it will be up to $100,000, but that is all ongoing expenditure.
Senator Lang: I have a couple of points, if I could. I have had the opportunity of touring part of the Thousand Islands Park. I have to say, along with our colleague Senator Runciman, that if anyone has the opportunity to go for a tour, they should. There is no question that it is an absolutely wonderful part of the world.
I just wanted to make this observation to you, as a member of Parliament, and congratulate you on your work in getting a private member's bill through the House of Commons and well on its way through the Senate. It is not an easy task. People should realize that it takes a lot of perseverance to get a bill on the Order Paper, to get it through and to get everyone to buy in. I just want to congratulate you on your work as an MP.
Mr. Brown: Thank you, senator.
The Chair: Thank you very much for all the questions and the answers, and the presentation. They were great. Mr. Brown, I invite you to stay at the table while we move to clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, or simply “clause consideration” in this case. I do not think there is any disagreement amongst the committee. I will go right into it.
Is it agreed that the committee proceed to clause-by-clause consideration, or rather clause consideration?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall the title stand postponed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall clause 1 carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall the title carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall the bill carry?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Is it agreed that I report this bill to the Senate?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Carried.
Thank you. We have completed the process.
Mr. Brown: Thank you very much.
The Chair: We will continue with the next part of our meeting.
On November 28, 2012, our committee was authorized by the Senate to initiate a study on the safe transportation of hydrocarbons in Canada. The study will examine and compare domestic and international regulatory regimes, standards and best practices relating to the safe transportation of hydrocarbons by transmission pipelines, marine tanker vessels and railcars. The committee has held seven meetings to date on the study.
We will now welcome, by video conference from Calgary, Dave Core, CEO and Director of Federally Regulated Projects for the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations.
Thank you, Mr. Core, for appearing this morning. It is a bit earlier in Calgary. Actually, I have that time on my watch, so I know that. Please proceed with your statement. We have one hour, which will include your presentation and questions and answers.
Dave Core, CEO and Director of Federally Regulated Projects, Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations: I would like to thank you for this opportunity to present the side of the issue that is seldom heard. You usually hear the story from the environmentalists and from the pipeline companies. Mine is a much different story.
Good morning, honourable senators. It is my pleasure to be talking to you from Calgary this morning by video conference. Our national office is situated in Regina, Saskatchewan, but I am in Calgary on personal business right now.
The Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations, CAEPLA, is an association made up of regional member landowner groups from New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and associate members from across Canada, coast to coast.
CAEPLA's objective is to assist Canadian pipeline landowners to address more effectively the impact of energy pipeline construction and operations that affect landowner interests, including soil preservation, environmental liability, land use restrictions, safety, repair and maintenance issues, abandonment and compensation. CAEPLA is a catalyst for the organization of pipeline landowner associations by providing organizational advice, advocacy and negotiation experience and services. It is also CAEPLA's intention to address landowner concerns with respect to present pipeline regulation in Canada with appropriate government and regulatory authorities.
I would like to open with a couple of quotes, food for thought, that might help contextualize the thoughts I am about to share with you.
The famous poet and playwright, George Bernard Shaw said:
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
Albert Einstein said:
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
Both sentiments are, I believe, applicable to the issue we are addressing this morning.
CAEPLA is a pro-development association. We support development that is responsible, sustainable and respects the stewardship responsibilities of landowners to protect land and water for future generations. To date, our mandate has not been to oppose energy or pipeline projects. However, if the industry and regulators continue to disrespect our property rights and stewardship responsibilities, that will certainly change.
Landowners are the most interested party when it comes to safety, yet the system prevents us from insisting on ironclad business contracts that include oversight and the discipline of insurance.
CAEPLA has provided assistance to many landowner associations in negotiating pipeline agreements across Canada. Much of our time right now is spent on pipelines and power corridor projects in the West. We continue to attempt to get ironclad business contracts, but regulators and their legislation do nothing but get in the way and protect energy companies from the free market and free market oversight.
I have provided you ahead of time with a few documents that will help you to understand the perspective of the landowners CAEPLA represents. I have provided you our position papers in the NEB's Land Matters Consultation Initiative on Company Interactions with Landowners, which includes the discussion paper of pipeline crossing issues and landowner positions on abandonment of pipelines and the collecting of funds for the same. I also include a 2009 letter from CEPA on the subject of damage prevention and pipeline crossings to the NEB with the Saskatchewan landowner Stephanie's candid views attached at the beginning. I have also provided the CAEPLA final argument in the recent NEB Enbridge Line 9 reversal hearing. I think this document provides some general history of CAEPLA, where we started and where we are today. Lastly, I attach a recent letter sent to the NEB by landowners and landowner associations concerning pipeline crossing issues.
My goal this morning is to bring perspective to the issues of landowners when confronted by pipeline companies, that is, the issues when private property owners like yourselves come up against government supported and subsidized corporations that are allowed to come packing with government regulations to take our lands, our rights and leave us with annual risks, liabilities, a duty of care that we do not want, costs and the pipeline junk, which includes the resulting safety and liability issues of historical contamination and pipeline collapse when the companies pack up and leave.
Before I proceed, I would like you to pretend you are sitting around your kitchen table with your family and a “land agent” has just left you with a brown envelope with a section 87 notice, a National Energy Board regulatory notice stating that a pipeline company will put a pipeline in your backyard, and the easement agreement and the compensation offer are included. Your stress has only just begun. Next come the teams of land agents, the men trained in profiling and in telling every tale they can to get the deal signed while they sit at your kitchen table drinking your coffee. He or she might even be your neighbour's son or daughter. It is like you have stepped into a spaghetti western, with cowboys coming to your door packing not a gun but big smiles, lots of lies and government regulations that allow them to threaten you if you question them.
Pipeline company bullies — forgive me, but there is often really no other the word for it — pack regulations that allow government sponsored industries and their shareholders to “expropriate” our land, while leaving our names on the title, and allow the discriminatory transfer of pipeline company responsibilities and duty of care to private landowners and the resulting decreased land values. It is legislated theft. They keep harassing you until you give up and sign.
As can be seen in the transcripts of your previous guests' presentations to date, pipeline companies have no real accountability to anyone, and they have not had any since 1959. CEPA, NRCan, the Canada Standards Association, the Alberta ERCB, which is the regulator from Alberta, the Saskatchewan government, and self-admitted “industry partner” Gaétan Caron, Chairman of the NEB, said nothing to you but that everything is wonderful, safe and sustainable. Well, it is not, and it is time everyone understands what is really going on.
Industry regulators, government officials and all of these participants are expert at seeming “reasonable” while promoting the privilege and protection of the pipeline industry. This industry has the wild card of a regulator willing to grant right of entry and expropriate land from a landowner rather than be forced to negotiate a business deal for the acquisition of the land. This industry is not forced to function in the free market and resists negotiating cost effective, binding contracts. It is an industry that tells its regulator what to do and say and gets legislation passed that protects it from its responsibilities and the realities of the business world. The description is “regulatory capture,” when the regulated become the regulators.
Mr. Cory, from NRCan, Natural Resources Canada, stated that the pipeline companies are fully responsible for cleaning up spills. If that is the case, then why are there spills and contaminated properties across Canada that have not been cleaned up? As I pointed out at the recent abandonment cost estimates hearing, there is contamination in the Enbridge and TransNorthern pipeline corridor just east of Toronto that has been there for 20 years and more has recently been uncovered as Enbridge does integrity digs to repair the polyethylene coating disaster on Line 9 in preparation for a reversal. I also have a letter I read at that hearing from a Manitoba resident complaining of an Enbridge spill on her property that had never been cleaned up. I also know of other spills where landowners have signed confidentiality agreements and cannot talk about what was left behind. The NEB regulations and oversight protect companies from having to do due diligence to landowners.
The expropriation process known as “right of entry” in the Canadian pipeline world and “eminent domain” or “condemnation” in the United States is much different than expropriation as most of us know it. Under pipeline legislation and power corridor legislation, these private or shareholder companies can take “use” of our land for their profit, while leaving us with resulting annual risks, liabilities, costs and a duty of care because our name is still on the title. Under most expropriation and government takings, the land title is also transferred, transferring all the related risks. Pipeline easement agreements leave landowners with risks and liabilities that should be addressed in an ironclad free market contract or lease that would include oversight and the discipline of insurance.
The National Energy Board emphatically states that it has nothing to do with the easement agreement. It says it is a private contractual agreement negotiated between the landowner and the pipeline company. The National Energy Board says the same about compensation. This is fully misleading and misrepresents the truth. Pipeline companies packing the NEB regulations and regulatory documents that allow them the right to take your land rights do not negotiate a free market contract that will stand up in a court of law. The NEB Act trumps any easement. There is no real negotiation. It is take it or leave it when it comes to the easement. The land agent might increase the compensation a little bit if you raise your voice, but, again, it comes down to take it or leave it. The last thing they want is an ironclad business contract.
Under free market conditions, there would be a willing buyer and a willing seller hiring legal experts to protect both sides' interests, negotiating an agreement that would be responsible and addressing safety, environment, liability and other legal issues in an annual lease agreement that also covers compensation representing a fair rental or share price. There would be a business agreement that is beneficial to each side. What happens under the National Energy Board Act is just legislated theft.
When I rent land from my neighbour for agricultural use, contract law and the courts protect me and my neighbour. I do not get to go in packing regulations, and I certainly cannot force him to take what I am offering.
The National Energy Board extends itself further into the murk of discrimination against landowners with its claim of having nothing to do with the contracts or compensation. It fails to explain further that its regulations, and any regulations that its pipeline partners talk it into, supersede any covenants in those “private, contractual easement agreements.” Yes, most of the regulatory change in the past 50 years has been at the behest of the pipeline industry.
The National Energy Board and the industry have a revolving door when it comes to employees. Brenda Kenny, CEPA's president, was a longtime employee at the National Energy Board, as were a number of other Canadian Energy Pipeline Association people, past and present. At the recent abandonment cost estimate hearing, two of the regulatory people representing Enbridge had just recently worked at the NEB as regulatory officers. I think the term sometimes used for these situations is “incestuous.”
Landowners are not stakeholders. Like you, honourable senators, we are property owners. We bought our property as a place to live, a lifestyle choice or an investment, to ranch our cattle, to crop farm or to run any other business zoning allowed. We did not request pipelines. We live, raise families and work on these properties, yet we have had pipelines forced into our backyards that do not respect our stewardship or legal obligations. Our name is on title and National Energy Board legislation leaves our future to the whim of pipeline companies and their regulatory partners.
Even the former Auditor General recognized landowner concerns and issues in her 1998 review of the National Energy Board. The NEB hired a consultant to advise them on how to address the Auditor General's concerns, in particular those related to landowners and stakeholders. The Purvin & Gertz report was very critical of the way the National Energy Board addressed landowner concerns, but, rather than address them, the National Energy Board provided the usual window dressing and then appointed the author of the report to the National Energy Board itself.
Why the pipeline industry and its regulatory partners wish to make enemies of a pro-development group like us landowners — the people minding the pipelines — is anyone's guess, but it seems to be a very dangerous and ill-begotten path to treat the people industry and regulators call the “first line of defence” in such a fashion.
I will now proceed to provide you with some history of our relationship with the National Energy Board.
In 1988, section 112 of the National Energy Board Act was created, and the legislation was reworked again in 1990 since it was not properly done in 1988. A senator at that time stated that the legislation was questionable from a landowner's rights perspective. It created new restrictions to the landowner's right to farm over the pipelines and also restricted 200 more feet of our land along the pipeline; that is 100 feet on each side of the 60-foot easement. Our original easements gave us the right to farm over the pipelines and stated that the company was to compensate for any land taken for the operation of its pipelines. Those old 60-foot easements are now 260 feet wide; that is four times the width, with no compensation.
Section 112 was created to allow pipeline companies the right to leave in the ground pipelines that are too shallow, corroded, thin and that are designed with ineffective protective coatings that compromise safety. These regulations protect the companies and their shareholders from the cost of upgrading its infrastructure and addressing those safety concerns. It is easier to restrict the activity of farmers over the pipelines than to repair them. Imagine restricting traffic forever rather than upgrading a deteriorating overpass.
For 20 years we have been asking that the regulations be changed to have pipelines buried six feet deep and for them to provide thicker pipes in rural areas because we farm over the pipelines and are concerned with our safety and the safety of the pipelines. The CSA standards require only 24 inches of cover and thicker pipes in highly-populated areas. We have pictures on our website of pipelines with only 1 foot of cover. They should be dug up, replaced and buried deeper.
CSA standards are set by the industry itself; there are no landowner groups involved. National Energy Board regulations state in many instances “to CSA standards,” but the CSA document is not readily available to landowners or the public. It costs about $750 to purchase.
Interestingly, farmers can no longer have buried fuel tanks; they must be above ground and must be either double hulled or surrounded by a berm — no buried tanks. Why the double standards; why are pipelines that are under high pressure not double walled? Why the double standards? Because they can.
Train cars are now constructed double hulled and can be heated to ship bitumen directly. It takes two pipelines to ship dilbit, the diluted bitumen. In other words, it takes one pipeline to ship condensates to where the oil source is and then another pipeline to take the diluted bitumen back out. In other words, the Northern Gateway pipeline is two pipelines, not one.
In the omnibus bill, Bill C-38, in June 2012, National Energy Board regulations were changed to put monetary and criminal penalties on farmers if they do not ask permission to cross pipelines. For a summary conviction, it is a fine of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year. On conviction or indictment, it is a fine of up to $1 million and/or imprisonment for up to five years. It is too bad the presidents of the pipeline companies do not suffer the same consequences for polluting miles of private property. Instead, they get multimillion-dollar pensions.
The pipelines want prescriptive regulations for landowners and stakeholders and only National Energy Board goal-oriented regulations for themselves. Interestingly, National Energy Board goal-oriented regulations include guidance notes rather than prescriptive regulations. The guidance notes cannot be used as standards or evidence in the National Energy Board quasi-judicial hearings since they are only guides, as CAEPLA found out in a recent jurisdictional hearing.
Let me read a landowner's perspective on goal-oriented regulations. This is an email that was sent to me:
The letter from CEPA to the board is most disturbing. They are so candid in their request to find ways to penalize third parties . . . . And, in the same letter, looking for confirmation that audits will NOT be conducted to ensure compliance with guidance notes or NEB regulations. That they, very blatantly, want prescriptive regulation with “effective enforcement and consequence” for 3rd parties and goal oriented regulatory text for the pipeline companies is nonsense. Using that same logic . . . . In prisons, the guards would be there with clear and enforceable rules for visitors and goal oriented “suggestions” for the inmates? In hockey, the refs keep an eye on the audience while the game goes on, with the players putting themselves in the penalty box?!?!?
If I understand correctly, part of the reason that the crossing regulation sec 112 is so vague is because of discrepancy between the English and French versions. Really, nobody has figured out how to fix that?
Anyhow, before I ramble too much . . . . After reading a little more and having my short-lived experience with the NEB, it is clear that they are hopelessly captured. Maybe just hopeless. It seems that arguing with them over specifics within the act will always be time consuming and for little gain. I really feel that the NEB needs to be dissolved completely. There are just so many loopholes for them as it is right now.
As Mark Twain said: “Do not argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”
The NEB has a lot of experience.:-)
Moving on, in 1985 there were five abandonment regulations that held the companies responsible for removal of pipelines upon abandonment. Mr. Vollman, past chair of the National Energy Board, an engineer at the time in 1985, was responsible for creating a document called “Discussion Paper on Negative Salvage Value.” It discussed the issue of abandonment, pipeline removal and the collection of funds to finance the process. A year later in 1986, the National Energy Board gave notice to the industry that it would do nothing with the issue.
In 2002, CAEPLA invited the National Energy Board to come to Sombra, Ontario, to view farming practices, and we made a presentation on the abandonment and funding issue. The chair of the board, Mr. Vollman, and an engineer at the time, Mr. Gaétan Caron, were both present. Mr. Vollman stated that the issue had been looked at but could not be resolved. He never mentioned the 1985 document that he was responsible for, which discussed the same issue.
CAEPLA accidentally came across the document in 2007. Upon research, we found that five abandonment regulations that called for the removal of pipelines at abandonment in 1985 had been changed a number of times since, and now the regulations state that abandonment can now be approved in place.
In the meantime, two abandonment hearings and hundreds of thousands of dollars of landowners' money later, the National Energy Board has ignored its judicial burden of proof at hearings and decided to collect money — 50 years late — for only 20 per cent removal of pipelines. It has ignored the legal evidence provided by landowners that clearly shows pipelines must be fully removed to protect landowners from liability. At one point, the board even changed its 2008 judicial decision that protected landowners, which was 20 per cent removal of the pipelines with 80 per cent maintained into perpetuity until removal. They changed it to a scheme of just 20 per cent removal at the behest, again, of CEPA, without a hearing.
Interestingly, pipeline companies just applied to the board again to only remove 1 per cent of the pipelines. The board did stick with its other final decision from the technical conference.
In 2008, TransCanada PipeLines applied to the NEB to have jurisdiction of the NOVA Gas Transmission pipeline system in Alberta transferred to federal jurisdiction, the National Energy Board. The National Energy Board got to decide if it would take over 25,000 kilometres more pipeline and a tremendous increase to its bureaucratic mandate and authority. Such a jurisdictional change took away many long-standing rights that landowners had under Alberta law.
The NEB and NOVA Gas Transmission — TransCanada PipeLines — pretended the transfer would make no difference. CAEPLA and the Alberta Pipeline Landowner Association provided the proof at great financial cost, showing the imposition of the change on Alberta landowners. The Alberta government did nothing for its landowners, and the Energy Resources Conservation Board, their regulator, never once stood up for Alberta landowners.
In the presentation recently made to you by the Alberta regulator, the ERCB, they stated that Alberta pipeline companies are always responsible for abandoned pipelines until they are removed. That is now not the case for these landowners under the National Energy Board Act, and the ERCB did nothing.
Recently, in the very high-profile Jessica Ernst fracking trial, the lawyers for the ERCB argued that it owed no duty of care for landowners or groundwater. We understand now why they did nothing at the jurisdictional hearing for landowners.
By contrast, in Ontario, shortly after the NOVA jurisdictional shift, the Ontario Energy Board stated that the National Energy Board would have to recognize the rights of Ontario pipeline landowners when it attempted to take over jurisdiction of a pipeline in that province.
Landowners have had to spend hundreds of thousands of after-tax dollars to defend their property. When CAEPLA was invited to participate in the National Energy Board Land Matters Consultation Initiative Process, we were told it would not cost landowners to take part. After CAEPLA provided professional expert evidence to support our positions, the NEB backed out and would not pay. CAEPLA sends a monthly invoice and statement for our costly involvement in the LMCI process and hearings. The NEB refuses to pay the invoice even though the NEB told us our participation and evidence in that process was not to cost us anything. The NEB's fundamental principle when it came to abandonment is that “landowners should bear no cost for abandonment.”
Fifty years ago, the Canadian public and landowners were convinced by smooth-talking politicians, bureaucrats and pipeline companies that it was in the public interest to move energy from the Canadian western producers to the Canadian eastern market. Politicians had survived a few years of bedlam in the House of Commons with a government falling as a result. They no longer wanted the accountability, responsibility or the risks to their future that the debate of pipelines caused. The House of Commons quickly decided to unload their accountability on the subject and created the National Energy Board. They created a buffer so that they could again convince the public that they were being looked after by an independent regulator.
The pipeline and power corridor issues are no longer about providing energy to Canadians or providing electricity to rural Canada. It is all about exporting natural resources and electricity for private company and shareholder profit. Expropriation or right of entry is no longer warranted, if it ever was, for private for-profit companies.
I always understood that good pipeline engineering meant pipelines should be built as straight and as short as possible, thus the justification for expropriation.
I have been made aware by both industry and pipeline companies that good engineering practices have changed, and these standards are no longer the case. In the recent Vantage pipeline project National Energy Board application, the company applied for the longest of three proposed routes and a pipeline with many 90-degree bends in it to avoid landowners that did not want the pipeline — so they said. This was also done, though, to fall within exemptions in the National Energy Board Act that allowed pipeline companies to avoid a comprehensive joint environmental assessment.
The National Energy Board approved that project. These new engineering practices that would allow a pipeline company to go around the property of landowners who do not want a pipeline on their property prove that expropriation, right of entry, eminent domain and condemnation are no longer warranted and can be justified, if they ever could. Perhaps now pipeline companies will no longer be coddled by legislated theft that compromises safety and the environment. The National Energy Board can be abandoned and the legislation repealed, and pipeline companies will have to operate and be held accountable under contract law and the judicial courts because landowners can now say no. It may be difficult at first for the industry to adjust, to learn how to function in the free market economy and be accountable for their actions and their businesses. However, we as landowners are confident it can be done.
In closing, I would like to say there is another way. I would argue that we already have a regulatory system available to rural landowners, one not constitutionally recognized, unfortunately, but one that is embodied in common law and common sense, namely, property rights. Our traditional system of property rights, a system that, when allowed to function, has proven to be the fairest and most productive way to grow a prosperous economy.
I would like to make a few points about what property rights properly imply and what property rights are not.
Property rights imply the right to choose how to dispose of your property, the fruits of your labour. This would include the right to say no, in some cases, too, because the basis of any contract, any legitimate deal, is a willing buyer and a willing seller.
The pipeline industry is an industry, a business, like any other, or should be. As such, the norms of contract law in business agreements should govern it — willing buyers and willing sellers. If one party to a proposed transaction is not willing or is subject to coercion, then there is not a legitimate contract. There is not a fair deal, not a fair trade.
What I am proposing is free trade for the energy transport and pipeline industry in Canada: free trade without intervention by government, without government intervening on behalf of the industry, via expropriation, the right of entry power landowners are subject to when dealing with pipeline companies.
Right of entry is forced entry. It is not voluntary. It is not free, and it is not fair.
With the coercive power of expropriation, of forced entry behind them, pipeline companies have landowners over a barrel, an oil barrel approximately; however, it is an oil barrel that does not truly reflect the real economic costs of bringing it to market. Part of that cost is borne by farmers and ranchers and other rural landowners who are coerced into non-market transactions, non-market transactions that are effectively a transfer of wealth from one group of owners to another: from the owners of farms and ranches to the owners of shares in pipeline companies; a transfer of wealth from rural to urban Canada; a transfer from middle class and often less affluent, to the affluent.
Genuine property rights do not imply a right to hire a lawyer to attend a government hearing to receive a government decision as to the disposition of your property, property that landowners or their parents and grandparents worked for, and pay taxes on.
Real property rights imply the right to choose, the right to say no, if need be, the right to freely and voluntarily deal or not deal as you see fit, the right and responsibility to look after your property to the best of your ability, to put your property, your land, to its highest and best use for the benefit of the economy and the community you live and work in.
Government should not be in the business of facilitating the transfer of wealth from farmers, ranchers, and taxpayers to the shareholders of pipeline companies.
Rural landowners should be able to decline, to say “no, thanks” to any offer from a pipeline company; the same way we can say “no, thanks to you” to you, to other rural landowners who may wish to buy or lease our land; the same way urban residents can say no to an offer to buy or lease their property without the government or a regulator intervening with a right of entry, taking.
Government should support free trade in the energy transport sector. It should support fair trade between rural landowners and pipeline companies.
Government should move this country closer to the Canadian tradition of property rights, not farther away.
Government should allow for self-regulation, not just for pipeline companies but for rural landowners, too, when it comes to rental or real estate agreements for pipeline projects.
In closing, let me explain what this would all mean. It would mean that the goals of our society shares, namely a prosperous, growing economy and a protected and vibrant environment, can be accomplished. It would mean the removal of the moral hazard that inevitably captured regulatory regimes result in, namely, a reckless industry incapable of respecting neither the environment nor the property rights of citizens. It would mean an end to what economists call the “tragedy of the commons,” a scenario where actors — in this case, the National Energy Board and the pipeline companies, who have no real “skin in the game,” so to speak — have no real incentive to look after the resources they use.
While this is for the market to decide, it might mean that technological innovation and alternative means of transport, such as railways, could also participate in and spark economic development.
It would certainly mean that those of us who live, work and raise our families on the land would be recognized as the legitimate stewards of the land, which would enable us to enlist the services of the insurance industry to provide the discipline that landowners and the public so desperately need from pipeline projects.
It would mean that ranchers, farmers and other rural landowners are brought in from the cold to partner in a growing and prosperous economy, and to promote the public's interest in protecting the environment and, by extension, their own civil and property rights.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to make this presentation.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Core, for your remarks.
We have just 15 minutes left out of the hour, so I will go to my deputy chair to start questions. We must keep things tight because there are a number of questioners.
Senator Mitchell: Mr. Core, I am interested in your concern about the abandonment of pipelines and the 20 per cent/80 per cent. What is the danger in leaving a pipeline in the ground? An argument could perhaps be made that it would be better to leave it as it is and not disrupt things further.
Mr. Core: That is not an argument made by landowners but by regulators and the pipeline industry. From a landowner perspective, I supplied you with a document that contains our rebuttal on streams 3 and 4 concerning abandonment and abandonment funding. In that, we hired experts to look at the situation. Even as we know it, as professional farmers and ranchers, we understand what will happen when these pipelines are left in the ground. The pipelines can do any number of things. One, the large-diameter pipelines can collapse. If you have ever driven a combine with a load of grain behind your head in the bin, if you are driving over that pipeline and it collapses, it will kill you. That is the one thing.
Pipelines will corrode and there will be water conductivity from one landowner to the next through that pipeline, which will cause problems between the neighbours; it can move historical contamination from one neighbour to the next. That is third-party liability.
There are two other very important things. One is historical contamination. There is a picture on our website of a recent leak in northern Alberta on an Enbridge pipeline where there was a pinhole leak — a leak so small it sprays, and it can spray for a long time. They do not know it happens until it has leaked for a long time and it has come up above the pipeline and shown on the surface. Those leaks are happening all the time on pipelines across Canada. The only way you can find that historical contamination is to take the pipe out of the ground, put the soil back the way it was and ensure there is no contamination under that pipe, because it is there.
Under the National Energy Board Act, once they approve abandonment in place, the National Energy Board is no longer responsible for that pipeline. No one knows who is responsible then, so it is left to the title holder on the landowner’s property.
On our balance sheet, our land is an asset. On your balance sheet as a property owner, your land is an asset. On a pipeline company's balance sheet, the pipeline is an asset. On our balance sheet, the pipeline is nothing but a liability when we go for insurance or for loans. The pipeline is a liability. When the National Energy Board no longer has responsibility for that pipeline, it becomes ours and anything that happens to it will be our responsibility.
There are safety and environmental issues. Once that pipeline becomes ours, we will have to answer to provincial safety regulations and provincial environmental regulations. It will be a travesty if those pipelines are left in the ground. There is a need for regulations stating that those pipelines will be removed, and there should be funds collected for the removal of those pipelines because they will be left for us to remove.
There are a number of documents that the NEB has even helped create that discuss this very issue. If a company goes insolvent, who will clean up the pipes? Why does the Alberta government say that they will keep companies responsible for pipelines forever and yet the NEB loses jurisdiction as soon as they approve abandonment in place?
We have spent hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars at two hearings in the LMCI process to get the National Energy Board to address these issues, and they ignore them. We were the only ones at that hearing on abandonment that had evidence and the burden of proof to show that the only default position to protect landowners is the removal of pipelines upon abandonment. It will be a travesty if that is not followed through.
Senator Massicotte: I think we all understand your argument, especially the last part of your presentation. You are saying that you believe in a capitalist system and a free market. You talk about free trade. That appeals to me because I am a business person. As a previous real estate developer, you are also saying that property rights are fundamental and they should not be prejudiced and imposed upon; let the people negotiate.
I suppose you are also saying that you do not like the part about the existing legislation whereby the government or its agencies can impose decisions. You are saying they should disband this legislation and let the two parties negotiate, irrespective of the public good or public interest; is that a good summary?
Mr. Core: I would tend to agree with your last statement.
Senator Massicotte: I figured that much.
Mr. Core: It would be in the public good and the public interest to do this. I am telling you right now that the pipeline companies go to the National Energy Board, the regulator, and get regulatory change that makes pipelines unsafe. The regulatory goal-oriented —
I am sorry. Go ahead.
Senator Massicotte: Therefore, let the two parties negotiate. If they cannot come to an agreement or if the negotiations are not equal and are therefore unfair, let that dictate things. Is that accurate?
Mr. Core: I would agree that that is a solution to the problem. I doubt, though, that society will go to that extent, even though that would be the best place to hold the pipeline companies accountable. I say that because when they then come on my property, I am not left with the ongoing risks, liabilities, duty of care and costs that are being imposed upon me by a regulator.
I do not think the Canadian public wants to compromise farmers and rural people as stewards of the land to the degree that the pipeline companies are doing this.
Senator Massicotte: Look at 40 or 50 years ago. Let us say you want to go across thousands of kilometres and you have negotiated with 10,000 owners, but you have one kilometre left. On the property owner's side, he is not stupid, so maybe as opposed to $10,000, he will ask for $10 million. Why not? The company would have to agree to it because it is tied up to all the other pieces of land. Where is the balance? How do you get there?
Mr. Core: I have thought about this long and hard. For 15 years I have been trying get landowners heard. There is a court of law, and there could be a minimal amount of legislation that says that once they have a very large percentage of landowners, they could go to a court of law to get through a property.
The point I am making, though, is that in the latest hearing I attended — the Vantage pipeline hearing — I was criticized for saying, “Is it not proper engineering practices that pipelines have to be straight and that is why there is expropriation?” They said that under today's engineering specifications, they can bend the pipes. I have pictures of the pipes bent 90 degrees; they can go around that man's property if they have to. They have stated they can. They stated the pigs that go down the lines can go around these bends now, too. There is also a court of law.
Let me explain. If you read some of the documents I provided to you, in 1975, two landowners went to court when Interprovincial Pipe Line was building a line in Ontario. It might have been Line 9. Interprovincial Pipe Line is the predecessor to Enbridge. They went to a court of law; arbitration at that time was before a judge in a court of law.
Interestingly, they won their case, and the judge allowed them 10 times the compensation that was offered by the company to address their soil remediation issues and what happened to their farm.
Shortly after that, the National Energy Board and the federal government changed the regulations and, rather than allow landowners to go to a court of law, created an arbitration committee, appointed by the minister, that would make the decision. They did not like the decision that was made by an impartial judge. There is the case where we can step back in time.
Senator Massicotte: Therefore, would you also recommend that the expropriation rights of cities and provinces also be limited using the argument of free enterprise and pure capitalism?
Mr. Core: Of course. I have an example of expropriation in Regina where they are building a transportation terminal outside the city. They expropriated farmland at farmland values, and a major grocery store chain got to buy that land at that price and build a transportation facility on that property. Yes, it should be limited.
However, the one point I want to reiterate is that when it comes to easement agreements, the problem with easements and right of entry is that the landowner's name is left on the title. Basically, it is a theft of rental.
One of the ways that we could resolve this, in a step, is to have lease agreements that are updated or renegotiated every five years and that go with the property. The way it stands right now, we have been able to negotiate. CAEPLA gets landowners along a linear project to work together to create leverage to balance the playing field. We have been able to get easement agreements that do protect us if we were able to go to a court of law. The problem is regulations can overrule it. We have been able to also increase the upfront payment.
What we need is a lease agreement that pays an annual payment that goes with the land to protect the property and protect the farmer.
Senator Lang: How many members does your organization have?
Mr. Core: I actually cannot give you a number because we have member associations from across Canada. What we are discussing are legal facts and the truth. The numbers do not matter. What I discuss here is the facts, and the facts are legal.
Senator Lang: The purpose of our committee hearings is safety and the safety of pipelines. I appreciate your concerns about the question of expropriation, but I would like to go to safety.
First, you talked about double-hulled pipeline installations versus the installation that they do now. Can you tell me if there is any place in North America where that is done?
Mr. Core: No, it is not, not at all.
I want to address the issue of safety. My whole talk was about safety. If you heard what I said, the issue right now is that pipelines are not safe, in my opinion, because they are protected by the regulatory regime that is their partners. The way for pipelines to be safe and environmentally responsible is through the free market system, the discipline of insurance and binding contracts. There are no binding contracts that keep pipelines safe today.
Senator Lang: You described the situation of a pipeline pinhole that someone experienced. In a year, how many safety breaches come to your attention as an organization? Give us an idea of how often this happens.
Mr. Core: I am not the transportation minister. I do not keep track of all of those. I think you have already been provided with most of those breaches. However, there are breaches with pinhole leaks that are not reported because they are not found. I can provide you with a picture of a pinhole leak on a spill in northern Alberta last year.
Senator Lang: This is important to us as a committee. We were given an approximate average number of ruptures that occur in pipelines in a year. The severity of it varies, obviously. You would accept those as legitimate numbers that have been provided to this committee from the point of view of public disclosure with respect to pipelines across the country; is that correct?
Mr. Core: I will say that those are the reported spills and reportable spills. In many of the pinhole leaks, as I have said before, the oil just flows along under the pipeline for a long time before it comes to the surface, and those are the leaks that are unreported and are not found until they come to the surface.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Core. That ends our time. I appreciate your time and your notes.
(The committee continued in camera.)
(The committee resumed in public.)
The Chair: Welcome back to our public meeting. We have had discussions, so I would like to present a motion and have you agree with me. Is it agreed:
That the special study budget application (hydrocarbon transportation) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, be approved (if required: that the chair and deputy chair be empowered to make revisions to the application), and that the chair be authorized to submit the application to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration.
Senator Patterson: So moved.
The Chair: So moved?
Senator Massicotte: Seconded.
The Chair: It is agreed.
(The committee adjourned.)