Impact on East Coast of Grounded Ship MV Miner

Statements

Question Period Senator Jane Cordy June 5th, 2014

Hon. Jane Cordy: I, too, would like to congratulate the Minister of Transportation, Geoff MacLellan, and Premier Stephen McNeil because they're doing the right thing in the case of the MV Miner. Last summer, Progressive Conservative MLA Alfie MacLeod worked with Minister Raitt, but he got no results from the federal minister. Fortunately, the Liberals were elected last fall in Nova Scotia and one of the first things they did was fulfill their promise that they would deal with the MV Miner. As Senator Mercer said, I did ask questions about this about a year ago.

Minister Raitt, who grew up in Cape Breton, wrote a letter on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, to the Halifax Chronicle Herald. I'll quote from the letter:

. . . I want to state that I've continuously monitored the ongoing concern related to the MV Miner.

It's great that she has shown concern, but there has been no action by the minister. As Senator Fraser said earlier, I guess that all the steps short of action were taken. A letter to the newspaper lets people think that you're greatly concerned but, honourable senators, you have to provide action on the file. That's unfortunate because this is of great worry to the people of Nova Scotia, particularly the people of Cape Breton. Scatarie Island is a provincially protected wilderness area where the ship is wrecked. It's also a great lobster fishing area. Yet, the federal minister has sent a letter, a PR exercise that really doesn't say anything except to express concern. The people of Nova Scotia need more than words of concern from the minister.

I go back to Senator Mercer's questions about the regulations. I raised this issue with Senator LeBreton about a year ago. The Main-à-Dieu Community Development Association also raised the issue about a year ago. The words they used were "demonstrable negligence" by the federal Department of Transport. Senator Mercer said the federal government allowed the licence to be given for the towing of the MV Miner during storm season, no less. No one is greatly surprised if the chance of the wreckage of any ship being towed would be greater if the licence is given during storm season.

I go back to Senator Mercer's question: Will the government look at these federal regulations? You said earlier when you were listing things that the federal government has done that there was a panel on ship safety. One would have to think that if the MVMiner broke away while being towed during storm season after being given the licence to do so by the federal Department of Transport that in fact this panel that you spoke about on ship safety would indeed want to review the case of the MV Miner.

I asked in this chamber about a year ago and am asking again today whether Transport Canada will look at these regulations to determine when they're licensing the towing of a ship that it be done to ensure the safety of both vessels. In the case of the MVMiner, all of these okays were given by the federal government, and yet it is the Government of Nova Scotia, the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, who are stuck with the tab to take care of the situation caused by the federal Department of Transport.

Please click here to read the full text of Senator Cordy's question and the Government's response