May 12, 2005 02:30 ET

Senate poised to kill Bill C-15

Opportunity to stop oil pollution and save seabirds all but lost Attention: Environment Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 12, 2005) - Several of Canada's leading conservation, environmental and animal welfare organizations are calling on the Senate today to quickly pass Bill C-15 which is designed to bring an end to the dumping of bilge oil from ships which results in the deaths of some 300,000 seabirds annually. If passed before the end of the session, it would stop operators in the shipping industry who pollute Canada's waters intentionally or through negligence.

"The Senate has the ability to pass Bill C-15 immediately," said Josh Laughren, Conservation Director, World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada). "It was referred to the Senate in December 2004 but has been delayed several times. We worry that Senators are playing political games at the expense of Canada's marine environment."

Bill C-15, if enacted, would hold shipping companies and their ships' officers accountable if they have illegally dumped bilge oil in Canadian waters. Vessels over 5,000 dead weight tonnes found guilty of contravening the Migratory Birds Contravention Act would face a minimum fine of $100,000 for a summary conviction and $500,000 for an indictable offence. These minimum fines will help bring Canada's penalties in line with fines in the United States.

"If the Senate fails to get this legislation passed before the dissolution of parliament, they will have failed to stand up for those Newfoundlanders who every year witness thousands of dead and dying seabirds washing up on shore and all Canadians who want to bring an end to this tragedy," said Kim Elmslie, Emergency Relief Campaigner, International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW).

In May 2004, the federal Government took an important step forward in protecting Canada's ocean habitat when an earlier version of Bill C-15 (Bill C-34) was introduced into the House of Commons. That Bill had garnered support from all parties in the House before it died on the order paper when an election was called. It has since been reintroduced in the House of Commons as Bill C-15, again was passed with all party support, and is now before the Senate.

"Every day the Senate delays passage of C-15 is one less day we have to avert this environmental crisis," said Elizabeth May, Executive Director Sierra Club of Canada. "The Senate now has a real chance to stand up for wildlife, our coastal communities and those in the shipping community who responsibly dispose of their wastes. By immediately passing Bill C-15 as currently drafted, the Senate can play a crucial role in helping protect Canada's marine ecosystems now and into the future. Let's make sure Canada is no longer a dumping ground for bad players in the global shipping industry. Canada's battered coastal ecosystems and dying seabirds can't wait." /For further information: Kim Elmslie, Emergency Relief Campaigner, IFAW
Cell: 613-878-4329 Office: 613-241-8996 x 223

Elizabeth May, Executive Director, Sierra Club of Canada
Office: (613) 241-4611

Rob Rainer, Director of Conservation, Nature Canada
Office: 613-562-3447 x 225

Contact Information

  • Josh Laughren, Director, Marine Conservation Program, World Wildlife Fund
    Primary Phone: 416-577-3131
    Secondary Phone: 416-489-8800
    E-mail: jlaughren@wwfcanada.org