House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was columbia.

Topics

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, by creating such an element of uncertainty, this is actually doing harm to the very industry the government hopes to support.

On one hand, the government is saying there is some sort of tanker moratorium, be it voluntary or otherwise. On the other hand, it is telling Enbridge to please apply for a pipeline project that is going to enable 225 tankers in the same place the government says there may be a moratorium. That uncertainty is a killer to business. Everybody knows that.

Another element of this project which is important to my colleague from Timmins—James Bay and anybody in this House who happens to represent a resource constituency, a place that draws from our natural environment, is that this is all for raw export, export of raw bitumen to other places to do the upgrading. This represents thousands of jobs.

It also helps create, as the finance minister will well know, the precarious nature of what is often called Dutch disease, where the Canadian dollar in fact becomes a petrodollar. Every time another tar sands operation is developed, the dollar incrementally rises and manufacturing in places like Quebec, Ontario, even in Alberta itself, becomes harder and harder to do. It becomes harder and harder for us to compete.

This is a known economic reality, and it is being perpetrated by a government that agrees to everything if it has the name “tar sands” attached to it.

(Bill C-47. On the Order: Government Orders)

November 30, 2010—the Minister of Finance—Third reading of Bill C-47, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, all questions necessary to dispose of the Third Reading stage of Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to Tuesday, December 7, 2010, at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Does the hon. government House leader have unanimous consent to present the motion?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion--West Coast Oil Tanker Traffic
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging the very good work that the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has done on this. He has been a passionate advocate for the motion that is before the House and has been tireless in doing appropriate stakeholder work throughout communities, environmental, business and first nations. I really need to put that on record.

I want to remind people what we are talking about today. We are calling on the government to protect the environment and Canadians by legislating a ban on bulk oil tanker traffic in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. The important part of this is legislating a ban.

My hon. colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley talked about certainty. It is critical that we have this legislative ban so there is certainty, so that people in Canada and British Columbia know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we will have a ban on bulk oil tanker traffic. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley ably outlined a number of concerns, and I am going to focus just on the first nations aspect of it because I have only a very brief period of time to speak about this.

I want to start with a news release that was done on November 30. I am quoting Art Sterritt, the executive director of the Coastal First Nations, an alliance of nine first nations. He says:

Our nations have declared a ban on oil tankers through our waters because a spill would kill our livelihoods and wipe out our culture. We have used our ancestral law to ban tankers from our territories. ...now it's time for Parliament to join us in legislating a federal ban on tankers in this region.

He goes on to talk a little bit about why this is so important. He says:

...the region is home to the Great Bear Rainforest, humpback and killer whales and a vibrant coastal economy and ecotourism industry that employs literally tens of thousands of Canadians.

He is joined by a number of other first nations, and I want to put this into the record. On Wednesday, March 24, 2010, several first nations people on the central and north Pacific coast and Haida Gwaii issued a declaration banning tar sands crude oil tankers from their territories. I will not read the whole declaration, but it ends up by saying:

Therefore, in upholding our ancestral laws, rights and responsibilities, we declare that oil tankers carrying crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands will not be allowed to transit our lands and waters.

In analyzing that declaration, West Coast Environmental Law made a couple of key points. It said that a decision by the federal government to disregard the Coastal First Nations' declaration and give oil tankers a green light would infringe Coastal First Nations' constitutionally protected aboriginal title and rights and Canada's international law commitments.

It goes on to say that:

Many First Nations have voiced well-substantiated concerns that the federal government's proposed review process fails to meet the Crown's constitutional duties to them. ... The government's review process for the Enbridge project does not accommodate First Nations governance and decision-making rights, which are inherent to their Aboriginal Title.

In addition, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs also opposes both the Enbridge pipeline and the tanker traffic. It says that:

The short-term economic gain promised by government and industry proponents of mega-projects like the Enbridge pipeline...are being opposed by First Nations who are thinking of the long-term impact on their territories and on their communities.

Grand Chief Phillip goes on to say:

It is abundantly clear, B.C. First Nations will not put their territories and waters at risk caused by the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and crude oil tanker traffic. As Indigenous Peoples, we know first-hand when third party interests are granted access to the resources of our territories, government and the courts protect those industry interests at great cost to Aboriginal Title and Rights and of the environmental values that many British Columbians share with First Nations.

I could go on about the number of first nations. It is unprecedented, the number of nations that have stood up and said that they oppose this bulk oil tanker traffic. They do not like what it is going to do to the environment, to their cultural rights and to their livelihood. They too are calling on a legislated ban.

To put this into an international context, I want to briefly quote from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, article 32, section 2. It says that:

States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.

We recently have had the Conservative government saying that it now endorses the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In that light, I would say that nothing can happen around oil tanker traffic unless the first nations are appropriately consulted.

I want to touch on some case law here, because the Canadian courts have enshrined in their decisions the fact that there is a constitutional obligation for the government to consult.

Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP did a paper, a focus on aboriginal law, back in 2004 that talks about an important decision, the Haida decision. I am just going to quote a bit from this. It says:

Speaking for a unanimous Court, Chief Justice McLachlin held that the Crown's duty to consult with Aboriginal peoples is grounded in the principle of the honour of the Crown, which must be understood generously. ...

In the Haida case, British Columbia had knowledge of the potential existence of Aboriginal rights or title and made decisions that might adversely affect these rights. Therefore, the honour of the Crown mandated consultation prior to making a decision that might adversely affect the claimed Aboriginal title and rights. The strength of the case for the Haida title and the Haida right to harvest trees suggest that the honour of the Crown may require significant accommodation to preserve the Haida interest pending resolution of their claim.

They go on to outline a number of key points. I do not have time to read them all, but I want to touch on a couple.

The obligation arises when the Crown has knowledge of the potential existence of the Aboriginal right or title and is contemplating action that may adversely affect those interests.

Clearly, with the number of nations that are involved around the oil tanker traffic and around the Enbridge pipeline, the federal and provincial governments are fully aware of that aboriginal right or title.

Another point this paper makes is “...the seriousness of the potentially adverse effect upon the right or title claimed“.

Of course the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley talked about the potential adverse effects on the coast of B.C. should there be an oil spill, and we only have to look to the Gulf of Mexico to see that potential adverse effect. Clearly it is another element where first nations need to be consulted.

It goes on to say:

Good faith in the consultation process is required on the part of both the Crown and Aboriginal groups....

The obligation to consult with and, where indicated, to accommodate Aboriginal concerns lies with the Crown alone. There is no independent legal obligation on third parties such as project proponents.

That is important, because sometimes people have tried to shuffle off the duty to consult to industry, and it clearly lies with the Crown. Although this paper is dealing with mining, it raises some interesting points around the duty to consult and economic benefits.

The Harvard Law mining project made a number of recommendations for the kinds of changes that governments need to make. It also said that, although there are allegations that mining and other projects like this one would provide revenue:

It also, however, frequently interferes with First Nations' use of their traditional lands and significantly harms the environment to which their culture is inextricably linked.

That is a very key point in this particular issue.

Of course I have much more material, talking about case law and analysis around the government's duty to consult, to accommodate, around the issues of rights and title for first nations, and of course the whole issue regarding employment. We know that in many first nations territories in this country, projects have come in and the first nations have not been the beneficiaries of the supposed economic spinoff. Often what happens is that they are left with the devastation of their lands and territories after the company has packed up its bags and gone away or polluted the environment.

Therefore I am calling upon all members of this House to support this very important motion and to call upon the government to legislate a ban on the bulk oil tanker traffic in this northern coastal area.

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been discussions among the parties and I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, for the calendar year 2011 in the present Parliament, Standing Order 81(10)(a) be amended as follows:

81.(10)(a) In 2011, seven sitting days shall be allotted to the Business of Supply in the period ending not later than March 26; eight additional days shall be allotted to the Business of Supply in the period ending not later than June 23; and seven additional days shall be allotted to the Business of Supply for the period ending not later than December 10; provided that the number of sitting days so allotted may be altered pursuant to paragraph (b) or (c) of this section. These twenty-two days are to be designated as allotted days. In 2011, no more than one fifth of all the allotted days shall fall on a Wednesday and no more than one fifth thereof shall fall on a Friday. For the period ending not later than March 26, commencing on the first sitting day of this supply period, no less than two and no more than three allotted days shall be designated in each ten sitting day period of the said supply period and for the periods ending not later than June 23 and December 10, commencing on the first sitting day of these supply periods, no less than one and no more than two allotted days shall be designated in each ten sitting day period of the said supply period, except pursuant to paragraph (c) or section (11) of this Standing Order.

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.