Northern Jobs and Growth Act

An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

John Duncan  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

Part 1 enacts the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act, which implements certain provisions of Articles 10 to 12 of the land claims agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area and Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada that was ratified, given effect and declared valid by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, which came into force on July 9, 1993.

Part 2 enacts the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act, which implements provisions of certain land claim agreements. In particular, that Act establishes the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board, whose purpose is to resolve matters in dispute relating to terms and conditions of access to lands and waters in the Northwest Territories and the compensation to be paid in respect of that access.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can certainly say there were a lot of amendments. The NDP alone put forward 50 amendments.

It is unfortunate that the bill has not been passed by now. We know there was work being done by the Liberals on this, but they have dragged their feet.

There were some funding requirements that we wanted to see put in there, and let me speak for a few minutes about these requirements. Mr. Paul Quassa, chair of the Nunavut Planning Commission, was one of the witnesses, and he talked about the importance of this bill, saying:

That said, this organization has been critically underfunded for nearly a decade. Industry and Inuit have told us that the land use planning process takes too long, and we agree. However, without additional resources, the commission is helpless to respond.

Another recommendation we made was with respect to the review process, and the Conservatives certainly did not want to hear about it.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her comments and speech. She comes from a community in northern Ontario.

These kinds of comments need to be brought before the House, and she is right to say that we need to look at this bill. I am learning a lot today, hearing my colleagues discuss it.

There are many first nations in my colleague's riding, which is in the north. How does she feel this bill fares in terms of respecting first nations?

We have been hearing a lot about first nations recently. There was the Idle No More movement, Shannen's Dream, Attawapiskat, residential schools and funding for police services for first nations. Now we can add this bill and first nations consultations to that list.

I would like to hear her opinion or what she heard from witnesses and people taking part in consultations. Is this bill respectful? And what do first nations chiefs think about it?

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March 4th, 2013 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, the testimony heard in committee clearly showed that chiefs also needed more time to hold consultations because they were limited in terms of obtaining participant funding. That is important to note.

As the members are aware, the NDP supports consultations and consensus-based decision making, which respect the autonomy of the governments of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. More consultations should have been held concerning the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act.

The NDP will continue to defend the rights and interests of northerners, and we will promote the long-term prosperity of northern communities. That is exactly what all the chiefs across Canada want.

Chiefs want more consultations to determine which types of bills should be implemented in order to improve their communities.

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March 4th, 2013 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to join my colleagues in this debate on Bill C-47.

As a number of my colleagues in this House have already said, this bill raises issues of particular importance to Canada's northern communities. It combines two main bills, An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and makes related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

In addition to implementing some provisions of land claim agreements that were reached more than 20 years ago, this bill includes measures that would have a direct impact on development in Canada's north and the way in which natural resources are developed in that part of the country.

We all know that natural resource development is the basis for a large part of the economic activity in Canada's three territories. As elected members, it is important to do everything possible to promote development and prosperity in the region.

There is no denying that businesses that develop natural resources are major job creators. Their economic activities can also lead to the construction of new infrastructure, such as roads or railways, which benefit the entire territory in which they choose to become established. Sometimes, even when the business leaves, the territorial government may take over the infrastructure and continue to improve it for the entire population.

However, we must not forget that, given the very nature of the industry, natural resource development can have disastrous consequences for the environment and also for the communities that depend on the jobs it creates.

A natural disaster—a toxic spill, for example—affects more than just the environment, the fauna and the flora. If the company has to leave the region because it cannot continue to develop the resources, all the communities that depend on this major source of employment feel the impact. When we talk about the environmental impact, we have to keep this important aspect in mind.

From a sustainable development perspective, it is also important to take into account other aspects, particularly the social aspect. With that in mind, it seems crucial to me to ensure that a sufficiently binding legislative framework is in place to enable the various levels of government to track the economic, social and environmental impacts of all natural resource development projects in the country, particularly in northern Canada.

That is one of the reasons why it is important to study Bill C-47 in the House, because it responds in part to requests that come to us directly from northern communities.

As the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, I myself represent a riding where natural resource development plays an important role in the regional economy. For example, I am thinking of the forestry industry, which, unfortunately, has suffered significantly in recent years. The thousands of forestry workers have been abandoned by the Conservative government. I am thinking of the former employees of AbitibiBowater in Donnacona and a number of communities in my riding. Despite that, we cannot ignore the fact that this industry was very important to numerous families in my riding, be they in Saint-Raymond or Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval.

The mining industry also comes to mind. It employs several hundred workers in my riding, particularly in western Portneuf. I know this is also the case in other areas of Canada where the mining industry hires hundreds, if not thousands, of Canadians.

In my riding, the many mining sites, which are mainly sand quarries and gravel pits, are in the municipalities of Rivière-à-Pierre, Saint-Marc-des-Carrières and Saint-Raymond and in the unorganized territories north of the Portneuf regional county municipality.

Having these industries in my riding has given me a better understanding of the benefits they provide to the regional economy, as well as the importance of ensuring that their development of our natural resources complies with the principles of sustainable development.

I think it is essential to ensure that the economic, social and environmental impacts of this kind of project will benefit all members of the community, as well as future generations. That is why I share the concerns expressed by my colleague from Western Arctic in the eloquent speech he made earlier today.

The first part of Bill C-47, which deals with the Nunavut planning and project assessment act, seeks to improve the existing regulatory regime to give Nunavut more decision-making power regarding the speed and extent of planning within its own territory and regarding its resources, particularly by establishing a framework to determine how environmental assessment processes will be conducted and how licences will be granted for various projects.

In addition to focusing on the critical issue of environmental protection, these legislative provisions will also implement part of the Nunavut land claims agreement, while respecting the results of negotiations conducted by the territorial government of Nunavut.

Bill C-47 at least partially addresses a real need expressed by part of Canada's northern community and should pass at third reading. From the beginning, the NDP has been defending the rights and interests of northern Canadians, and we will continue to defend them in the future. That is why we believe that Bill C-47 should pass at third reading.

However, it cannot be said that creating this bill was entirely problem-free or that the version we are discussing here today is perfect. On the contrary, we know that the bill is not perfect and that it does not meet all of the demands of people who live in Canada's northern communities.

The second part of the bill, which deals primarily with the Northwest Territories surface rights board act, continues to raise a number of concerns among the opposition members and the people living in Canada's northern communities.

As several of my colleagues have said, many witnesses were invited to appear before the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development regarding Bill C-47. In spite of that, it seems that very few suggestions, if any, were taken into consideration by this government.

This was noted at committee, because consultations had taken place beforehand. When witnesses were given a preliminary version of the bill, some of them said they did not see any of the suggestions or recommendations they had made regarding the bill during the prior consultations.

In committee, my NDP colleagues tried to propose 50 amendments. That is a significant number. These 50 amendments were proposed to try to address the witnesses' concerns. The vast majority of these witnesses came directly from the aboriginal communities where companies are developing natural resources. The witnesses were not all opposed to Bill C-47. On the contrary, the majority of them simply wanted to ensure that the bill truly addresses the needs of our northern communities.

Unfortunately, as usual, the Conservatives refused to listen to the legitimate concerns of the Canadians directly affected by what is in Bill C-47. They once again refused to collaborate with the opposition and would not consider the amendments we proposed. We understand that it is not possible to accept all the amendments, but the Conservatives should at least look at them, think about them and debate them before systematically rejecting them. This would be an improvement over how the government normally operates.

It is as though as soon as the Conservatives formed a majority government, they felt they knew absolutely everything and were no longer required to consult with opposition members or the Canadian public.

It is unfortunate that, yet again, we are faced with the kind of arrogance and closed-mindedness that we have seen from the Conservatives since they became a majority government.

I have spoken out about this a number of times in the House and I am not the only one. My many colleagues, from the official opposition and the third party and from those who belong to unrecognized parties in the House, have all criticized this fact. However, the government refuses to listen to reason and to change its ways. The same thing happened when the government refused to split Bill C-47 in two parts, so that we could examine the impact of the different laws in the bill more closely. Once again, there is more than one.

These laws would have benefited from individual reviews, so that we could properly understand the effects they will have on the different northern communities. I hope that the government will soon drop its arrogant attitude. It refuses to collaborate with the opposition and refuses to listen to our suggestions. The opposition could have helped improve this bill, and we hope to be able to do so in the future.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the time to thank the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier for her excellent speech. I especially appreciated the comparisons she made with what is happening in her riding with regard to the forestry industry and communities. I truly appreciated it, and it was refreshing to hear that in the House. I thank her very much for that.

I want to address the last part of her speech. She spoke about some 50 amendments proposed by the NDP. Unfortunately, all of those amendments were rejected. That is extremely sad because they were all based on testimony given by experts or people affected by this bill.

My colleague is a member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages. My question is really very simple. I do not know if the same thing is happening in her committee as in mine, where the opposition's amendments are being refused. Does she not find this extremely arrogant? As she mentioned, we get the impression that the Conservatives think they are all-knowing. I would like her to expand a bit on that, if she does not mind.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her excellent comments, which unfortunately reflect the reality that I face every week at the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

That being said, I love this committee, which at least seeks to address issues that are extremely important to our official language minority communities. It is a shame that these communities, like northern communities and other communities and groups in Canadian society, are directly affected by the Conservatives' uncompromising attitude both in committee and in the House. The Conservatives have a bad habit of imposing time allocation on various bills, limiting debate and restricting the opposition's role.

The Conservatives are trying to prevent the opposition from scoring any victory, no matter how small, even if their actions could end up hurting hundreds or even thousands of Canadians who are truly in need. In this case, the Conservatives completely ignored demands that came directly from northern communities, to their detriment. The communities made specific requests and recommendations, and the Conservatives ignored them because they were contained in amendments put forward by the opposition. It is easy to see just how ridiculous this approach is.

We need to remember that the government won its majority with less than 50% of the votes. It is also important to remember that 60% of Canadians are not represented in the government's values, agenda and approach.

The government must make more room for the opposition and demands that come directly from Canadians. We are here to represent Canadians, not to advance our own personal agendas.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, for someone who is not a member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, my colleague has a very good grasp of the concerns raised by this bill. She also understands the importance of moving the bill forward. The testimony we heard has obviously created some concern about the likelihood of obtaining the funding needed to comply with the legislation.

Is my colleague worried about the fact that it will cost even more to go to court if the government does not provide the necessary funding so that these organizations can do the work they need to do?

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her comments.

Lack of funding is an issue in far too many areas, thanks to the government's approach, which is to cut funding for various organizations or offload costs onto the provinces, the territories or the organizations themselves.

And that may well happen again if the government is not able to put in place adequate funding measures. Once again, the groups, the people and the communities affected will have to try to find the money and will have to spend unimaginable amounts to guarantee their rights and interests.

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March 4th, 2013 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak now and I look forward to continuing the remainder of my part of the debate on Bill C-47 after question period.

Bill C-47 was about 15 years in the making. That does not necessarily mean those 15 years made it a perfect bill, and it is not a perfect bill.

On the other hand, Canadians expect us to put forward the absolute best legislation that we can. I like to think that we try to do that in the House. As I will speak to in a few moments, unfortunately what has transpired with respect to the progress of this bill through committee is a little disappointing.

I would first say that we put forth 50 amendments to the bill. By and large, almost all of those amendments were based on witnesses' testimony; in other words, witnesses came forward during committee stage to say what they would like to see in the bill. Unfortunately, all of the amendments were turned down by the majority government people on the committee.

They try to leave the impression that they consulted widely on this bill and on all bills. However, if we look at the record, we see that not just in this committee but in all committees they must surely be under instructions to not accept any amendments from either the Liberals or the NDP, because they simply do not get looked at in the proper light.

I think that is what has happened with this bill. While the bill does have some attributes that I will talk about in a moment, I believe it could have been made better by accepting our 50 amendments and the three amendments the Liberals put forward. That would have made the bill much better.

Amendments are always put forward in good faith. Unfortunately, in this case it was not helpful. The government turned down each and every one of them.

One of the amendments was to separate the bills. However, they have both been bundled together. One is a good-looking bill, which I will talk about in a moment; the other has some flaws that could have been fixed.

The NDP believes in consultation. We believe in building consensus in decision-making. I lived and worked in the Northwest Territories for five years in the 1980s. When I moved to the Northwest Territories to work in the field of education, one of the first realizations I came to was that the Government of the Northwest Territories worked on consensus. There were no overt political parties, and people worked together, building a consensus. I would like to think that we do that in this place as much as we can.

Mr. Speaker, I neglected to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Montcalm.

Even though the government says that it consulted widely and continuously on the bill, I still believe that more consultation would have been useful.

We in the NDP stand up for the rights of northerners and all Canadians, and we continue to do that. I wish the government would join us in looking at Canada the way we do.

I will talk about the first part of the bill, which deals with the Nunavut planning and project assessment act. It is fairly straightforward.

I have a couple of good things to say about that part of the bill. There are a couple of very important measures in there that are certainly worth mentioning. One is that the roles, powers, functions and authorities of all the parties, including how their members are appointed, are very clearly defined.

The proposed process for impact assessment is streamlined and efficient, and hopefully this will make investments in Nunavut more attractive and profitable for people wishing to do business in Nunavut.

The act would establish timelines for various decision-making points. That is exactly the way it should be. Consultation with joint panels is also the way it should be.

The enforcement provisions in the act would establish new and more effective tools for ensuring that developers follow the terms and conditions, and there are specific monitoring plans that go along with that. These regulatory improvements are important steps in that part of the act.

After question period, Mr. Speaker, with your permission I will continue my part of the debate.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 3:10 p.m.
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NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to continue my comments in this debate. Just before question period, in the first part of my discussion, I was talking about one part of the bill that actually works quite well and would certainly be particularly good for Nunavut. However, let me take a few moments to speak about the Northwest Territories surface rights board act. There are some difficulties there.

I would like to reiterate that Canadians expect us to work together in this place. When amendments come forward, Canadians expect them all to be considered, regardless of where they come from, whether from the government or the opposition. Unfortunately, right across all the Conservative-dominated committees, without exception, they have all been rejected outright. That is sad for democracy, because here we have a bill that has been 15 years in the making and we have a real opportunity to make it not just a good bill but a perfect bill.

One of the big concerns I have is with the preamble, which says the Inuvialuit final agreement provides for a surface rights board, but it is not clear anywhere in the bill where that actually exists. It says it in the preamble, but not in the bill. That could be problematic going forward.

Additionally, there is no provision for a surface rights board in the Salt River First Nation treaty settlement agreement. Further complicating the issue is the unsettled land claims of the Dehcho and Akaitcho First Nations. What will happen is that all the lawyers will be in court some time soon after the act is implemented because there will be some confusion.

It is most unfortunate that we could have a perfect bill if the government had considered even some of our amendments. However, it would not do it. It would make mining more responsible in Northern Ontario if some of our amendments had been accepted.

The other part of the bill that has me concerned is the whole concept of sustainable training. Education and skills development are critical in all of these large projects. I refer to northern Ontario and some of the issues that we have had in the Ring of Fire and some of the other mining developments that are struggling to go forward. Chiefs have been very clear to me that they do not want one-year or year-and-a-half construction jobs for people from their first nations, and then nothing and they are out in the cold. What they want is real training with real, long-term sustainable results for their people. That means things like people being trained as tradesmen and journeymen electricians, carpenters and plumbers.

They are concerned about what happens when the projects end, and almost all of these mining projects do end, whether in five years, 10 years or 20 years. They want to ensure that the people in their communities have the ability to be mobile, that they have skills they can use any place across Canada and can still, in essence, support their communities and come back and visit and perhaps live there full time some day.

As we heard in question period, we are talking about $8 billion of potential investment and some 4,500 new jobs. It is important that there be something in the bill concerning sustainable skills and skills development that really spells out what the responsibilities are.

The member for Western Arctic, in his comments, was very concerned that the NWT surface rights board act may have been rushed and that perhaps not enough time was taken to talk about it.

We put forward the amendments from witnesses to try to clear this whole thing up, and none of them were accepted, so while this bill would be a step forward, it could have been better. I keep on mentioning that because I would like to see us moving forward in the next couple of years, particularly when government bills come forward, to have the opportunity to bring forward amendments and have them considered in the light in which they are brought forward.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 3:15 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, my friend from northern Ontario has raised two fundamental concerns that apply not just to this one piece of legislation but across the current government's broad policy, particularly when dealing with rural, remote and northern areas and the implications around first nations consultation and accommodation.

There are two concerns. One is that we have seen, not just with bills that deal with first nations but across the board, that at every committee from transport to first nations to the environment, when we as the official opposition bring some amendments that are garnered out of the testimony from people who would be impacted by the bill and who are experts in that field, on every single occasion the government members vote down those amendments.

At some point we have to wonder if they believe the legislation they introduce is perfect and drawn up without a mistake, without a comma or a period out of place. Of course members of no government—this one, or any other—could be possibly be so arrogant as to think that when they draw up sometimes complex pieces of legislation, they got it exactly right the first time. The whole process that we go through and the reason this place exists is to hold government to account and ensure we get legislation right.

That is the first point: that yet again on this bill the member for Western Arctic and others took the testimony, actually listened and tried to modify the bill.

My question is on the second piece. When dealing with first nations, a big question is around certainty, whether it is the Ring of Fire, in northern B.C. or here in the western Arctic that we are talking about. Having good agreements based on consultation and accommodation is what allows industry and those communities the certainty they need to build that progressive and brighter future.

Can my friend comment on his experiences in northern Ontario as they relate to this bill and the Conservatives' lack of understanding or capacity to listen and consult and at the end of the day to finally accommodate?

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
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NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, as everyone knows in this place, and certainly in northern Ontario, the government has put the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka forward to try to move the Ring of Fire along. He will know, as will people in northern Ontario, that perhaps the main reason it is not moving along is there has not been the consultation that first nations people expect and deserve, and I know that the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka will do his best to ensure that happens.

In reference to this bill, it has been in the works for 15 years, approaching a couple of decades. This refers to the first part of the comment from the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. There really is an opportunity to put forward perfect or near-perfect legislation. After that period, one would think that the Conservatives would be interested in what the witnesses have to say when they go to committee. One would think that they would take everything that they have to say under proper advisement to ensure that they put forward the absolute best bill that they possibly can.

It is almost as if they go for 15 years, building up and building up, and then in the final hour they just say, “Oh well, let's go with what we got”, instead of going that extra little mile and saying, “Maybe there are some good amendments here; maybe we should look at these; maybe we can make this a better bill”.

Quite frankly, that is what Canadians expect from us.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my comment for the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River is in absolute support of what he has just said.

I had the pleasure, and it was a pleasure, of working for the then Minister of the Environment from 1986 to 1988 and putting legislation forward as part of a majority government, putting forward legislation to committees where we welcomed changes. As an example, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act was put forward without a priority substances list. The idea of a priority substances list came from an opposition member of Parliament on a parliamentary committee for environment. My boss, the Minister of the Environment, Tom McMillan, saw that it would be a benefit and would improve the act. This was a normal occurrence.

Parliamentary committees studying legislation used to be essentially non-politicized zones. We went in there, set our partisanship at the door and worked to make a better bill. I mourn that this is lost now. The comments that the member is making on this specific bill apply to every piece of legislation we have seen go through this House. Every piece of legislation in this place is treated as though accepting a single amendment to any government bill is a political defeat that the administration today will not tolerate. That is an offence to democracy, and I appreciate the member's mentioning it.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
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NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments. She is absolutely right. That is the feeling that we in the opposition get in committee. We know that these are worthwhile amendments and we wonder why the Conservatives consider that it would be some sort of defeat if they were to accept any of them. Perhaps the Ottawa bubble syndrome causes them to think that for some reason they would lose votes.

I do not know what they are thinking, but the thinking should be that we go through all of the controls to make sure that we come forward with the best legislation possible.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2013 / 3:25 p.m.
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NDP

Manon Perreault NDP Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, we are debating Bill C-47, An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts. This bill seeks to create a framework for determining how environmental assessments and project approval will be done in Nunavut given the new land use plans.

Through these amendments, the bill also seeks to improve the process and make it more efficient in order to support economic growth in northern Canada.

The bill involves two acts, and we are of the opinion that these two acts should have been examined separately. Including different implementation provisions in a single bill was clearly not the best thing to do. Unfortunately, the government decided otherwise, despite the fact that we proposed that the bill be divided in two.

The NDP supports consultation and consensus-based decision-making that respects the autonomy of the Government of Nunavut and the Government of the Northwest Territories.

However, we think that there should have been more consultation about the Northwest Territories surface rights board act. We will certainly continue to fight for the rights and interests of northern residents, and we will promote the sustainable development of northern communities.

I will now turn to some highlights of the two parts of the bill.

The first part of the bill, the Nunavut planning and project assessment act, creates a framework for planning and project assessment in the territory. This part of the bill requires the Government of Canada and the Inuit to create a joint system to supervise resource management in Nunavut. It sets out an apparently simple and effective impact assessment process, particularly for small projects. The goal is to make investment in Nunavut more attractive and profitable in the future.

The bill calls for a regulatory framework that will be more effective and regular, with timelines for territorial planning and environmental assessment processes.

The bill also makes it possible for transboundary and trans-regional projects to be assessed by joint committees, and the environmental assessment criteria have been harmonized.

The bill includes provisions for new and better tools to ensure that investors respect the conditions set out by the Nunavut Impact Review Board. It sets out general and specific monitoring programs, which will authorize both governments to monitor the environmental, social and economic impacts of projects.

The bill also defines how, and by whom, land use plans will be prepared, amended, reviewed and implemented in Nunavut. This will improve the regulatory regime to give the people of Nunavut the power to decide how quickly and to what extent territorial lands and resources will be developed.

The second part of the bill pertains to the Northwest Territories surface rights board act, which will give the board the power to make orders regarding terms and conditions of access and compensation to be paid in respect of that access when the parties are unable to negotiate an agreement.

As such, it affects the entire Northwest Territories and implements provisions of land claim agreements. Only some of the land claim agreements in the territory contain a provision for a surface rights board.

There is no provision in the Salt River First Nation Treaty Settlement Agreement for the creation of a surface rights board. Furthermore, this issue also includes unresolved land claims.

Lastly, the bill would also make changes to the Yukon Surface Rights Board Act, the purpose of which is to fulfill the federal government's obligation under the Yukon umbrella final agreement to establish a dispute settlement process for parties that have land and surface interests.

This has a lot to do with disputes related to access to and use of first nations land in Yukon.

That said, this bill could stimulate the development of responsible mining projects in Nunavut, where one already exists. This is a good sign for Nunavut, which currently has some exciting mining potential. We are talking about $8 billion in investments, which could help create nearly 4,500 jobs. Nunavut's GDP has increased by 12% since 2010.

The bill sets out a framework for determining how environmental assessments will be carried out and how permits will be issued in Nunavut. This new regulatory regime will help maintain economic competitiveness through new mining investments and will also be there to ensure that projects go through a rigorous assessment process.

By promoting new investments in Nunavut, this bill will help ease the uncertainty in the industry. Furthermore, it will now officially be necessary to obtain environmental assessment approval before starting development work.

This bill could clarify the rules on land use and environmental assessments, particularly when the designated Inuit organization is given the power to authorize new land use plans. This is a crucial aspect to take into account when debating this bill. We must absolutely ensure that development in the north benefits residents in the north.

Some important questions remain. The bill includes regions where land claims are still in dispute, which could result in legal proceedings.

Furthermore, the creation of a surface rights board has raised some concerns in many cases. This was the case with the Gwich'in Tribal Council, whose chief has indicated that the Gwich'in were not able to participate in creating a surface rights board in any meaningful way, since they had to deal with changes in the region.

We presented 50 amendments to this bill at committee stage. Unfortunately, they were all rejected or deemed out of order. Quite simply, the Conservatives were not interested in the amendments we wanted made to the bill. The amendments were perfectly legitimate and based on requests from witnesses from the Nunavut Impact Review Board, Nunavut Tuungavik Inc., the NWT Association of communities, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Nunavut Chamber of Mines, and Alternatives North.

With those amendments, we tried to modify the provisions of the bill that enable the commission to prohibit access and that give it authority over lands subject to outstanding land claims.

Therefore, we support the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act, which will apply part of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. However, we do not want to interfere in an agreement that the Government of Nunavut negotiated.

We also fear that the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act was drafted in haste. To compensate, we proposed numerous amendments to properly represent the witnesses' concerns. It was all to no avail because the Conservatives rejected every last one. I find it hard to believe that, out of 50 amendments, none of them had anything special to contribute to this bill.

So I would like to reiterate the fact that we support the consultations and consensus-based decision-making that respect the independence of the governments of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Having said that, we think more consultations on the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act should have been held in the context of this bill.