House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

May 16th, 2012 / 3:35 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Budget legislation guts the environmental assessment and fisheries laws, leaving Canada’s lakes, rivers, oceans, ecosystems, and fisheries at risk while unfairly downloading federal environmental responsibilities and their associated costs to the provinces, territories, and future generations.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share my time with the hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam.

My colleagues and I are hearing every day from Canadians who are rallying against the Conservative government's decision to table a Trojan Horse budget bill that contains measures that will do irreversible harm to our environment. It will affect the health, livelihood and future of Canadians, and it will leave an unacceptable and unequal burden on generations to come.

Canadians know intuitively that this cowardly attempt to avoid real debate on such significant legislation is undemocratic. It is another example of the government's penchant for avoiding accountability and scrutiny while it placates its industry bigwig buddies at the expense of the best interests of our communities.

There will not be sufficient public oversight or consultation on the bill. Communities that are relying on the very protections that are being gutted are being silenced. It is happening because the government knows that if Canadians were given the opportunity to examine this legislation fully, as they should be allowed to do in a democratic nation, they would reject the proposed changes because they recklessly gut environmental protection in this country.

New Democrats know and understand the importance of public participation in a democracy. That is why the NDP is holding a series of hearings in Ottawa and across the country that will allow experts and the public to engage in the policy areas of Bill C-38, such as the anti-environment provisions, in a meaningful way, which the government is trying to avoid.

The latest attempt by the government to hide from the public is yet another blot on the Conservative government's environmental record. From muzzling scientists, to withdrawing from international protocols that included mandatory greenhouse gas emission audits, to killing independent research bodies like the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and cancelling funding for environmental groups like the Canadian Environmental Network, the government shows time and time again that its number one policy is to stifle as much information and evidence as it can because that evidence flies in the face of the Conservative agenda.

The Conservatives keep forgetting one key thing and that is that Canadians from coast to coast to coast see these actions for what they really are: blindly partisan, incredibly short-sighted and devoid of any evidentiary framework or base.

One of the worst themes of Bill C-38 is the total lack of clarity and understanding on what impact these changes will have on the environmental protections we do have. For me, that is what makes this Trojan Horse bill so alarming. Canadians cannot be sure what the government is actually forcing upon this country.

We see in many different places where this legislation aims to give unparalleled discretion and powers to government and ministers, allowing them to override the best interests of Canadians in affected communities without really defining the scope of powers or important tests that would determine, for example, who could participate in a hearing.

Decisions will be made in the absence of an accountable framework. Make no mistake, these decisions of the future will be politicized and they will be partisan. This again flies in the face of good environmental stewardship.

I would like to talk about some of the proposed changes in the bill. In some of the cases we do not know what the outcome will be. We can see how the legislation is being changed, but we do not know what the impacts will be in the long run. That is all the more reason that we need to have a fulsome debate in the House and at committee on all aspects of the bill.

The entire Environmental Assessment Act is going to be replaced, and it is based on recommendations coming from the environment committee. That might sound like a positive thing, except that the review was the result of a very flawed legislative review at committee. It failed to meet any acceptable standard for a study of such an important piece of legislation.

I would like to talk about a couple of the changes to CEAA that are being proposed.

The bill would limit who could testify at environmental assessment hearings. It would limit that discussion to affected parties. Who is an affected party? Is it someone who lives in a place where a pipeline is going through the backyard? Is it someone who is five kilometres away or twenty kilometres away, or fifty kilometres? Think about Fukushima. How far away did that actually impact? Would people in that radius be able to participate?

What if people fish, but they fish very far downstream from a spawning bed, and there is an action taking place on a spawning bed? Are they an affected party if they live in southern Manitoba and the spawning bed is in northern Manitoba? Where do we draw the lines here? How do we know who gets to participate? What if they are scientists based out of Vancouver and they have good information about what could happen in northern British Columbia, or perhaps even in another province? Are they considered to be an affected party?

It is absolutely not clear what is being done here in limiting who can testify and who can participate. I am very worried that we are not going to get the good information that we need from the experts and from people on the ground who actually are directly affected, whether or not the government wants to believe they are.

This bill would also allow the federal cabinet to approve a project, even if the reviewing body has determined that there would be adverse environmental effects. In other words, if an arm's-length, non-partisan body says that a project should not go ahead—or yes, it should go ahead, but maybe with these changes—ultimately it is the cabinet that gets to make the decisions about whether that project goes ahead.

We also have a shift of moving from list versus trigger. This is a technical aspect of the bill, but right now an environmental assessment can be triggered because, for example, a navigable waterway is crossed or migratory birds may be impacted. We would switch to a list of what is included and what is not in an environmental assessment.

On its face, this might sound like a good idea, but we heard very good testimony at committee that asked this question: if lists are what is in and what is out, what do we do with projects that we cannot even conceive of right now? For example, if the list had been drawn up 50 years ago, would oil sands exploration have been on that list? Probably not. Do we think there should be environmental assessments of oil sands exploration? Yes.

This change would really limit what gets assessed and how the assessments are done, and it would not follow the evidence that we heard at committee, which is very unfortunate.

I will touch lightly on the fisheries provisions, and I am sure my colleague will also touch on them.

One really important aspect is that under the Fisheries Act provisions, we would change the focus from impacts on fish habitat to impacts causing “serious harm to fish”. What is “serious harm”? Well, let us imagine that a fish is maimed, deformed or has its growth stunted. Maybe its habitat is even destroyed. Maybe a future generation of fish is destroyed. As long as that fish is not killed, it seems it is okay under this legislation. That is absolutely impossible for me to wrap my head around, and it flies in the face of testimony we are hearing from people on the ground, who say that we need to protect fish habitat if we are going to protect the next generation of fish.

I will remind the government that allowing the degradation of our environment has long-term economic costs. The budget bill is not good financial management.The budget bill is not responsible governing. It is, plain and simple, an attack on our environment by a government that lacks the maturity or the common sense to see the long-term risks that it is engaging in.

How will my colleagues opposite explain to their constituents, their friends and their families why they are choosing to reject a path of innovation, environmental stewardship, sustainable development and intergenerational equity? I wonder how they will answer that question to their constituents, their families and their friends.

This legislation would be bad for our air, our water and our soil, and it is bad for humans and animals alike. I ask all members of this place to support our motion today in its denunciation of the government's environmental proposals.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to address this issue.

I am disappointed in my colleague opposite. I did not expect her to resort to every exaggeration and cliché in the book to try to make her argument and then to resort to name-calling at the end in order to try to convince people that the NDP is somehow on track here. Our government is all about innovation, stewardship and sustainable development.

I want to challenge the member on her comments about the examination of this bill, because it seems to me there is a full examination. This bill is being debated more than any budget bill in the last 20 years.

Her own party spent either 11 or 13 hours hogging debate when we initially introduced the bill. The NDP members did not want to allow the Liberals to speak to it, and NDP members certainly had lots of time and opportunity to make their point at that time.

We continue to debate. Today the official opposition has dedicated a day to this debate. It is going to committee and then to a subcommittee as well, so this bill is getting lots of discussion. I just wonder why the NDP is so locked into its ideological position that the members cannot even admit that we are taking a lot of time to review this bill and do a good job of discussing it.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite was correct in saying that this bill is being studied more than any other budget bill. That is correct because budget bills used to only be 30 pages. This bill is over 400 pages. It is almost 430 pages. With an extra 400 pieces of dense legislation, it warrants a full and thorough examination.

I know I cannot ask him a question, but if I had the opportunity to, I would ask why, if this bill is being adequately studied, is assisted human reproduction in this bill, is the Auditor General in this bill and why are changes to CSIS in this bill.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party supports the motion. It talks about the importance of our fisheries industry, the environment and how the government is using the back door of Bill C-38 in order to have serious and significant impacts. What surprises me to a certain degree is why the NDP would narrow it down to just those two items in the form of the motion itself.

The real debate that needs to take place is the way in which the budget bill is being used to pass a great deal of amendments. We are talking about 60 or 70 amendments to different legislation, deletions and so forth. Yes, it is going to have an impact on these two issues, but also on immigration and many other areas.

My question to the member is this. Why did the NDP choose to narrow the debate down to just these two issues when there are so many other issues within that Trojan Horse bill that the member would, no doubt, acknowledge?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague that the real issue is the bill and how it is being used to ram all kinds of legislative changes through the House. That is why the NDP is holding its own consultations with Canadians around the country about what is in this bill, what they want and what their responses are to it. I would invite my Liberal colleague to attend these hearings. We have invited all members of the House in a show of openness, accountability and transparency. I would welcome him at any of our consultations.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know this is an area my colleague feels very passionately about. She brings that passion to her portfolio.

Recently, when I was in my riding, I had the pleasure of talking to some environmentalists, activists like Eliza, who have devoted a lot of their time, their lifetime I would say, fighting for environmental protection. They raised serious concerns about the degradation they see in this budget.

My question to my colleague is this. What would she say the government needs to do in order to have what I would call a full consultation not only in communities but a fulsome debate here?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Newton—North Delta is a fantastic environmental advocate.

I would like to see this bill split apart and to have a fulsome debate in the House and in committee on each aspect of it. The Conservatives did not campaign on what is in this budget bill. They did not put this forward in the election campaign. They were hiding this all along. My question to them is: What are they afraid of?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the NDP opposition day motion.

One-third of the budget implementation act is dedicated to gutting environmental laws that protect Canada's fisheries, rivers, oceans and ecosystems. With the stroke of a pen the government would eliminate decades of progress and condemn future generations to deal with its mess. The biggest theme I drew from the budget is the government's focus on mega-industrial projects at the expense of Canada's environment.

Behind the guise of words such as “streamlining” and “modernization”, the government would strip away long-standing regulations that protect our environment from short-sighted unsustainable development.

I would like to speak about the changes to the Fisheries Act that the Conservative government is attempting to sneak in through its Trojan Horse budget bill. These changes are an undemocratic and egregious abuse of power that would do permanent harm to the ecosystem and to Canada's fisheries. Make no mistake, these are radical and dangerous changes. Rather than prohibiting the harmful alteration, disruption and destruction of fish habitat, it would narrow habitat protection to apply to those activities that would harm fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or aboriginal fishery, or the fish that support such a fishery.

The government introduced the concept of “serious harm”, which talks about killing fish and permanently altering habitat. The question that a judge would now be faced with is to determine what constitutes “permanent”. Is that two years? Is that 10 years? Or is that 100 years?

What the Conservative government does not seem to understand is the concept of ecosystem health or biodiversity. If it did, it would know that one cannot protect one species of fish and forsake others.

Looking at the budget implementation act, it becomes even more evident that the Conservative government is not governing based upon fact or science. It certainly did not listen to the 625 scientists who wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, outlining their concerns with the removal of habitat protection from the Fisheries Act.

In March, a group of Canadian scientists, including many of Canada's most senior ecologists and aquatic scientists, stated:

Habitat is the water or land necessary for the survival of all species, including fish. All species, including humans, require functioning ecosystems based on healthy habitats. The number of animals and plants of any species that can be supported is in direct proportion to availability of habitat, which supplies food and shelter. Habitat destruction is the most common reason for species decline. All ecologists and fisheries scientists around the world agree on these fundamental points, and the Fisheries Act has been essential to protecting fish habitats and the fisheries they support in Canada.

The scientists called for a strengthening of the Fisheries Act, as well as the Species at Risk Act, and the Migratory Birds Convention Act. Yet the Conservative government is doing the exact opposite and sneaking it through, in a most undemocratic way, I might add, its budget implementation act.

The government is also not listening to the Association of Professional Biology, which said:

It is well documented that protection of habitat is the most effective means to avoid species decline and extinction and ensure populations remain resilient to future and ongoing impacts, such as climate change and the cumulative effects on human activities.... The removal of habitat from the Act risks narrowing its focus onto only a limited number of species or stocks...

The government's refusal to listen to science is nothing new. The government has, in the past, muzzled scientists and completely cut programs that it does not agree with.

However, it is not even listening to the wisdom of its own former ministers of fisheries and oceans. Tom Siddon, a former Conservative minister of fisheries and oceans and the architect of the modern-day Fisheries Act, has blasted the government over the changes. He said, “This is a covert attempt to gut the Fisheries Act and it's appalling that they should be attempting to do this under the radar.”

I completely agree.

It is not just Mr. Siddon who is raising the alarm. Another former Conservative minister of fisheries, John Fraser, had this to say:

To take habitat out of the Fisheries Act is a very serious error because you can't save fish if you don't save habitat, and I say this as a lifelong conservative. People who want to eliminate the appropriate safeguards that should be made in the public interest, these people aren't conservatives at all.... They are ideological right-wingers with very, very limited understanding, intelligence or wisdom.

That is a pretty damning indictment of the current Conservative regime and very strong words.

Recently, former member of Parliament and current leader of the B.C. Conservative Party, John Cummins, stated:

There is that potential for serious damage to the fisheries resource if we move in the way that's proscribed.

He further stated:

I expect that there will be justly deserved widespread criticism as the effect of these amendments becomes known in recreational and commercial fishing communities across Canada.

There is already widespread concern in the commercial and recreational fishing communities. I have been hearing from Canadians across the country who are concerned about these changes.

The natural environment is a part of the Canadian fabric. We take pride in the bounty of amazing nature that we have been blessed with. As a British Columbian, I am proud to live in one of the most beautiful regions in the world, but I am concerned, as are many people, that the Conservatives' oil pipeline and tanker agenda will alter our environment permanently.

British Columbians are concerned in particular about the plans to ship raw bitumen off B.C.'s rugged and wild north coast. They are worried about the two proposed pipelines that would traverse our land with the potential to leak particularly in the over 800 streams they would cross.

We know that the weakening of the Fisheries Act will help make the short-sighted pipeline project a reality. British Columbians and other Canadians will not even be given an opportunity to comment on this bill. This is the real travesty of this legislation; the lack of public consultation is undemocratic and wrong.

First nations, provinces, territories, municipalities, fishermen, and all those Canadians who are concerned about fish, fish habitat and the environment have not been consulted on these changes. Many Canadians enjoy recreational fishing with their families and camping in the summer. This bill will affect their ability to enjoy nature. It has a major impact on the natural environment, yet they will not be given a say. It is truly atrocious.

The budget implementation act allows the government to ram through changes to the Fisheries Act without scrutiny, study, oversight or input from Canadians. Because these changes have not been studied, it is impossible to know their full economic, social and environmental implications.

Canadians are rightly angry that the current government is content with downloading major environmental costs to future generations.

Trevor Greene, a retired captain who went to war in Afghanistan, wrote a scathing op-ed this past weekend in the Toronto Star. He said:

With determination, we can overcome all manner of adversity, and reclaim who we are both as individuals and as a people. We face this challenge now with Ottawa, with a government that is taking our country in the wrong direction, undermining the values that make us who we are. I am loath to have to admit to my children that the irreversible degradation of their planet continued on my watch.

Those are strong words.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, I am disappointed that I will not have the ability to meet with stakeholders, experts and others to discuss these fundamental changes to the Fisheries Act. If we are unable to study this bill at the committee, it begs the question as to the purpose of this committee.

As the deputy fisheries and oceans critic for the west coast, I see a continuing trend of contempt and neglect that the Conservative government has for coastal communities and nature in Canada. Whether it is pursuing its pipeline agenda on the west coast or corporatizing the fishery on the east coast, it has become clear the government has turned its back on the marine ecosystem and coastal communities in favour of their big-oil-at-all-costs agenda.

I really hope that all members of the House will support this motion.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, this week the environment committee is travelling across the country to develop recommendations for a national conservation plan. We have heard a lot in committee about the concept of a working landscape, that is, land being used for productive purposes while ensuring a positive ecosystem balance through sustainable development plans.

Recently, I met with some municipal leaders in British Columbia. They talked about how they have to put more resources into getting permits for ditch cleanup than they actually have available to do the work to protect the environment in that area.

I would ask my colleague opposite how he would address the concerns of farmers who cannot drain their ditches and who are losing productive land under current rules.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was a city councillor for seven years. I understand that municipal officials have concerns. Farmers have concerns. Road builders have concerns. Absolutely, we should listen to those concerns. Those concerns should be addressed. However, let us not be fooled. This is not the agenda. The agenda is with major industrial pipeline projects, mining projects, and other very large projects that the government wants to sneak through in a budget bill.

If this was a legitimate concern, why not put it out in the open? Why not pass a bill that is specifically related to the environment or the Fisheries Act? Why not deal with that specifically? Why sneak it through with 70 other amendments to legislation in a budget bill that has nothing to do with the environment, or the Fisheries Act, or CEAA, or the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, or the Kyoto targets? There are so many other things packed into this Trojan Horse bill. It is shameful.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the NDP actually meant for this opposition day motion to deal with the budget bill, Bill C-38, so I want to bring up one thing which I think the government could have incorporated into the bill. It is related to immigration.

In the budget the government is trying to hit the delete button on tens of thousands of individuals who have applied to come to Canada as skilled workers. That is a cruel policy. It is something that should have been brought to this House as a stand-alone amendment so that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the government could be made fully aware, in detail, why this is a bad policy idea that should never have been incorporated into Bill C-38.

Would the member comment on that aspect of Bill C-38?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly why we are putting this motion forward. There are 70 amendments to legislation in Bill C-38, the budget implementation act. The member referenced one. That one issue alone should have enough study in the House. We are focusing on fisheries and the environment as major elements of the budget. There are over 420 pages in the bill which includes so many changes.

That is why Canada's New Democrats are spreading out across the country to engage in dialogue and to consult with Canadians, not just on the environment and fisheries, but also on immigration, on EI and many other changes that are included in this financial bill.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague has been a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for a very long time and that he is quite familiar with the issues.

Yesterday evening was something else and today really takes the cake. Yesterday evening I was here until 2 a.m. and I watched as the Minister of the Environment was unable to answer the questions. Today, an hon. member called the UN a radical organization because it has criticized the government's positions.

What is it going to take to make the government understand the consequences of its decisions?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I raised in my speech, science and facts are critical in order to make informed policy decisions to create law in this country.

I am not sure what it would take, whether it would be the United Nations, the specific government departments, or individuals around the country submitting information. They should be listened to. They should be heard. It is a tragedy that they are not being listened to in deciding on this bill.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

I want to thank the member for Halifax for the opportunity to set the record straight about our government's plan for responsible resource development. As members have heard from countless witnesses at the natural resources committee, our current regulatory system is a patchwork of overlap, duplication and unpredictable delays.

When our government announced economic action plan 2012, we promised to try to untangle the complex web of rules and procedures with a review of major resource projects in Canada. We know that all Canadians will benefit if our natural resources are developed reasonably, responsibly and efficiently.

Over the next decade, more than 500 major resource projects worth $500 billion are expected to come online. These projects will create literally hundreds of thousands of good highly skilled jobs and will generate economic growth right across this country.

Canada's natural resource sector already directly employs more than 750,000 Canadians. Mining and energy account for more than 10% of Canada's $1.5 trillion economy and more than 40% of our exports. It is clear that we need to do more to tap into the tremendous appetite for resources in the world's dynamic emerging economies, resources that we have in abundance.

We need to find new ways to prevent the long delays in reviewing major projects that kill potential jobs and stall economic growth, putting those valuable investments at risk. That is what our plan for responsible resource development actually does.

Our plan would make project reviews more predictable and timely. It would reduce unnecessary duplication and regulatory burden. It would strengthen environmental protection and it would enhance consultations with aboriginal peoples.

This legislation has already received broad support from a wide cross-section of business, government and labour leaders across the land. They are welcoming this government's leadership on regulatory reform.

I realize that members of the no development party across the way may not listen to what I have to say, but I wonder if they will listen to some other folks. I wonder if they will listen to the unions who speak on behalf of Canadian workers.

Christopher Smillie from Canada's building trades union, which represents 200,000 trade workers in our energy sector, said:

--we support changes to the system to facilitate large projects....

What we do not support is a 12-year or 15-year regulatory dance that impedes economic development and employment for our members.

By the way, he also said, “The NDP would be very bad for workers and the entire Canadian economy”.

How about the manufacturers and exporters? Jayson Myers, the president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters said:

Greater predictability and a more timely review process will encourage business investment - an important driver of economic growth at a time when governments and consumers face major spending constraints.

I wonder if the party opposite will listen to Canadian municipalities. Berry Vrbanovic, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, is on record as saying:

We are encouraged by the government's commitment to reduce duplication between federal and provincial regulations, especially in the case of smaller community projects.

Will the party opposite listen to those who are working to develop the ring of fire in northern Ontario which will bring a great potential for jobs and economic opportunities to that region? William Boor of Cliffs Natural Resources, one of the main players in the ring of fire, told our committee:

One of the main things I'd like to dispel is the concept that longer equals more rigorous or more thorough.

Will the no development party listen to aboriginal Canadians? John Cheechoo from the ITK said that if the process were “a lot more streamlined, it would still reflect and respect those land claim agreements. I don't see any problem with it being done that way.”

Will those members listen to clean energy associations such as the Canadian Hydropower Association? Its president said:

We need to eliminate regulatory duplication, encourage the substitution of provincial processes over federal processes where possible, improve coordination among federal agencies, and establish functional timelines for assessments.

Maybe those members will listen to Ronald Coombes, the president of White Tiger Mining Corporation, who said:

--we want to thank [the Prime Minister] and both the federal and provincial governments of Canada for committing to working with first nations and for recognizing that the resource sector and national interests should not be held captive to long-overdue legislative changes.

My guess is that members of the no development party are not listening. If they were listening, they would know that Canadians strongly back our government's plan to streamline the review process for major economic projects. Canadians understand that we do not have to choose between the environment and economic development. It is not an either/or proposal.

The NDP is putting forward a false choice and a misleading argument, and Canadians know that. A new poll conducted by Ipsos Reid showed that two-thirds of Canadians believe it is possible to develop our economy while respecting the environment. That is what responsible resource development does. In the words of Alberta Premier Alison Redford, “it sends an important signal in terms of the fact that we can have both economic development and environmental sustainability”.

In the words of Alberta Premier Alison Redford, “it sends an important signal in terms of the fact that we can have both economic development and environmental sustainability”.

Canadians understand that the need for regulatory reform is long overdue. Every year the regulatory roster is filling up with thousands of small projects, even things such as expanding a maple syrup operation or the construction of a building where blueberries will be washed, that are required to undergo an environmental assessment.

In my own riding, when the RCMP musical ride came to Fort Walsh, it was required to do an environmental assessment on the parade grounds in front the fort before it allowed the ride to proceed.

Too often, investors and Canadians have to jump through endless hoops of rules and procedures for approval of any projects. That tangle of red tape is putting billions of dollars of investment and tens of thousands of potential jobs at risk.

We need to refocus our efforts on reviewing major projects that may actually pose a risk to the environment. Our plan will ensure that time and energy is spent where it can make the most difference, where it can do the most good for Canadians.

Canadians know that our government not only maintains Canada's world-class environmental protection programs, but we will strengthen them. Make no mistake, more timely reviews will not mean easier reviews.

Our government will continue to have a rigorous environmental review process. For example, we will be providing enforcement of environmental assessment conditions under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. We will be strengthening environmental safeguards, including pipeline and tanker safety. We will be authorizing new monetary penalties for violations of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the National Energy Board Act.

In short, we will ensure that we will continue to have a rigorous environmental process that will serve Canadians well in the years ahead. Canadians know that we must make the most of our abundant natural resources and the opportunities found in the global markets.

That takes me to comments that were made last week by the Leader of the Opposition when he talked about Dutch disease, when he criticized the thriving industries, particularly in western Canada, saying that they were destroying the economy across the country. We all know that is foolishness. The premiers of Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan all addressed that issue.

It is unfortunate that the opposition leader did not then apologize for the comments he made. He decided he would raise the ante up one more step, and today he addressed it again. It is unfortunate. It seems that the NDP just does not understand that its policies will do nothing but cost Canadians their jobs.

I want to read what he said today about Dutch disease. He said, “The Dutch disease is setting in Canada. We are losing hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs because we're not internalizing environmental costs”. That does not mean much to the average Canadian until it is actually defined. When he says “internalizing environmental costs”, he is talking about a carbon tax. Canadians need to know that.

We know the NDP supports a carbon tax. We know that is what he means, but he will not just come out and say it. We need to understand, from testimony we have heard at the natural resources committee, that if a carbon tax is applied across the country, it will have to be so high that it will impact the life of every Canadian.

That is what the NDP's intent is in saying that we need to internalize environmental costs. The NDP is saying that we need a carbon tax, and we need to set that carbon tax so high that Canadians will have to pay the price until they change their behaviour.

Canadians need to understand that this is in fact what the NDP means when it talks about user pay.

Our government is committed to responsible resource development. We have brought forward a responsible plan in the budget. The NDP should support it. It has used a lot of cliches and exaggerated arguments and illustrations to try to scare Canadians. It needs to do better than that. It should join with us in protecting the economy and the environment and moving ahead, creating jobs, a stronger economy and prosperity for Canadians.