Evidence of meeting #11 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was first.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Roger Jones  Senior Strategist, Assembly of First Nations
  • David Collyer  President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
  • Chantal Otter Tétreault  Member, Cree Regional Authority, James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment
  • Pierre Gratton  President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada
  • William David  Senior Policy Analyst, Environmental Stewardship, Assembly of First Nations
  • Graeme Morin  Environmental Analyst, James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment
  • Justyna Laurie-Lean  Vice-President, Environment and Health, Mining Association of Canada

11:55 a.m.

President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

David Collyer

We have guidelines, recommended practices for many of the activities we undertake. We're always open, obviously, to improvements on that, but your question is somewhat contradictory in that you referred to guidelines and then said “you must follow”. In the context of best practices and improvements in the way we do things, absolutely, we are open to that, whether they come from government regulators or from our own industry.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Your point is well taken.

Mr. Collyer, I was struck by the comments you made making the very strong distinction between the words “whether” and “how”, and as an elected official I really appreciate the fact that you've recognized the role of elected officials in making these kinds of decisions. I think you are exactly correct in your assessment of what an EA should be.

Unfortunately, it has become a political process, which questions whether a project should even go ahead or not, and that takes the responsibility out of the hands of elected officials, who, in terms of consultation processes, are subject to something called elections, and we're consulting on a regular basis. Having environmental assessments deal with the environment itself and how a project is developed makes a lot of sense.

I also appreciated your reference to the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, having been part of that assessment back in the 1970s myself, personally, and again, it's an astonishing poster child for how not to do things.

Mr. Collyer, just talking about the Mackenzie Valley pipeline for a minute, do we know how to build pipelines in an environmentally sound way, especially with regard to stream crossings?

11:55 a.m.

President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

David Collyer

The short answer is absolutely. We have a long history of building pipelines in a diversity of environments, including many stream crossings. Yes, the technology exists. We know how to do this, and one of the really unfortunate outcomes of the Mackenzie process—over and above the fact that it took so long and may well have an impact on whether that project ever proceeds or not—is the fact that we went over and over the same issues in a multitude of forums with a multitude of people. And that in no way is a representation that those issues should not be addressed. What we need to do is find an efficient and effective way to address them and make sure they are addressed to the satisfaction of the key stakeholders and the regulator, and then move on.

We keep recycling and going over and over things that frankly are well established and we've already done justice to in terms of addressing the issue.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

That surprised me as well. I know from own time in the Mackenzie Valley that the streams hadn't changed from the 1970s to the 1990s. To have to do that assessment all over again, given the multitude of reports from the 1970s, on almost the very same streams, seemed a little redundant and expensive to me.

I take your point about the tragedy of that process. I think it can be called that because those communities up there are impoverished now, and may remain that way for the foreseeable future, because the pipeline was not built. I think there are real consequences for communities with these processes.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

Your time has expired.

Monsieur Coderre, welcome to the committee. Ms. Duncan had to leave because of a health issue. We are studying the CEAA review. We'll provide some latitude.

Noon

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

I will attempt to do honour to my colleague. Thank you very much.

Welcome, gentlemen. Clearly, when one considers the environmental reality from an industrial perspective, it always looks different from the way it appears when viewed from a First Nations perspective.

My first question is for Mr. David. Do you think that, in the context of all of this legislative upheaval, it is possible to harmonize an environmental assessment act with the requests, or with the traditional respect of aboriginal peoples?

It is the strategist who is going to respond. Go ahead.

Noon

Senior Strategist, Assembly of First Nations

Roger Jones

We believe it's entirely possible to achieve coordination and collaboration among governments. I think the first principle that needs to be included and respected in any federal legislation regarding environmental assessment is that our governments have to be respected. They have to be included in the definition of jurisdiction and not simply regarded as a stakeholder or as an interest rights holder who is allowed to sit at the kid's table.

If you want coordination, collaboration, and partnerships to achieve everything that people want, which is effective, efficient assessments and compliance, then I think you should include first nations governments right from the start. This will ensure that all the issues are addressed, and that all the parties have the ability to streamline examinations and, where necessary, come to agreements on how to proceed. As far as we're concerned, it's entirely possible.

Noon

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

As a Liberal, I am what Mr. Trudeau used to call a radical centre, meaning we have to strike a balance. We want to protect the environment, but we don't want to kill the industry, and we want to build a partnership with first nations.

Do you feel that it's just a fight based on interests? Is there a way, Mr. Collyer, to monitor, use, and work with them as partners? I have just been here for a few minutes, but with your answers, I have a feeling that it's a bit of an irritant more than anything else. I'm a straight shooter.

Do you believe that through the legislation we can make things happen?

Of course, we have to be respectful of governments. If there's a treaty we have to respect the treaty. At the same time, you don't want to kill the industry. It's good for the people—you create jobs for first nations and work in full partnership.

In a doability process, what can we do to make things happen? I believe the monitoring is important.

Noon

President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

David Collyer

Thanks for the question.

I would strongly reinforce your premise that we need to find a way to make all of this work. We need economic growth, we need to protect the environment, and we need to find ways for the major stakeholders--aboriginal people--to be involved in the process. I would say first that our industry understands the need for extensive aboriginal consultation. It's a regular part of what we do on all of our projects, and it happens throughout the project life cycle.

I think everybody understands the legislative requirements around aboriginal consultation. I can't comment on the specifics of some of the particular treaties, but there are existing legislation and requirements outside of CEAA that address many of these issues. I would caution the committee against trying to put all of those things into CEAA and expanding its scope to address things that are appropriately addressed elsewhere.

There may be occasions where that is necessary, but I think we have a tremendous tendency whenever we look at a piece of legislation to go like this and keep trying to put more into it, as opposed to saying, “This piece of legislation is intended to address significant environmental impacts.” That's what it's for. Let's make sure it does that. Let's make sure it does it well. But let's rely on other pieces of legislation to do what they do appropriately, and not try to feed it all into CEAA.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

I've had the chance over the last 15 years to be on both sides, so my role as a legislator is to find that balance. It's to respect the fact that we have to protect our environment, but also have all of the players working together.

When you're working with first nations, do you consider them as a level of government? Do you believe they are a government, so there is a jurisdiction issue that you have to respect in the negotiations?

12:05 p.m.

President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

David Collyer

We respect the government's obligation to consult and reasonably accommodate, and we respect the role we have to play in that. That's what we do.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Jones, do you feel that these are the kinds of things that happen on the field?

12:05 p.m.

Senior Strategist, Assembly of First Nations

Roger Jones

More often than not we hear people's dissatisfaction with the level of engagement that takes place in these processes. They are looking for more effective and meaningful engagement in these processes and in resolving issues relating to economics and social and cultural considerations.

I agree with the observation that everything is political around these major projects, and maybe as legislators you're not being given due respect and due regard in your role in managing those issues. The fact is that you have the ability to play an effective, efficient, and meaningful role in addressing these issues in the legislation you're examining and making recommendations on.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

Unfortunately, your time has expired.

Thank you, Mr. Coderre.

Next we have Ms. Leslie for five minutes.

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Thank you very much.

To the mining association and the petroleum producers, thanks very much for your testimony. I learned quite a bit. However, this is the first opportunity we've had to have first nations representatives bring the first nations voice to the table here at our committee. My questions will be for AFN and the James Bay committee.

When the president of the Environmental Assessment Agency was here they talked about how the environmental assessment process was well suited to delivering the responsibility of duty to consult, as far as the views and knowledge of first nations.

I had a meeting recently with Matawa First Nations about the Ring of Fire. As you probably know, that environmental assessment will be a comprehensive review, a paper review. It's the opinion of the Matawa that doesn't fulfill the duty to consult.

In your opinion, do the CEAA provisions fulfil the duty to consult? I'd like you to touch on the different levels as well, whether it's a comprehensive review or a full panel review.