Appropriation Act No. 2, 2014-15

An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2015

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.


Tony Clement  Conservative


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


June 10, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
June 10, 2014 Passed That Bill C-38, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2015, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
June 10, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Committee of the Whole.

Canada's Oil and Gas SectorEmergency Debate

November 28th, 2018 / 10:45 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, there was one part of the member's speech with which I completely agreed, and that is that the experience of the Kinder Morgan pipeline is the worst horror movie anyone could imagine, and it just keeps getting worse.

I want to put in her mind this notion, because I followed the process carefully. I was an intervenor. Every single step that led to the Federal Court of Appeal quashing that permit was virtually in concrete before the election. The NEB process was set up under Bill C-38 rules, and the process was moving in that direction. The advice from the NEB panel would not have been different if Stephen Harper had still been prime minister, and I doubt that the cabinet under Harper would have done anything different than what the cabinet under the current Prime Minister did, which was ignore the flaws and approve the pipeline.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 8:15 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I would say this to the hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. I remember the fight we had in the 41st Parliament with respect to Bill C-51, the so-called Anti-terrorism Act, which I believe made Canada much less safe. It is hard for me to actually vote for Bill C-59 now, especially when I hear his very good arguments.

However, I will tell him why I am going to vote for Bill C-59. I am very relieved to see improvements to what I thought were the thought-chill provisions in Bill C-51, the rules against the promotion of unexplained terrorism “in general”. There are big improvements to the no-fly list. However, there are not enough improvements, for my taste, to the ability of CSIS to take kinetic action. The big failure in Bill C-59 in front of us is the information sharing around what Canadians are doing with other governments.

The irony for me is that the Liberals voted for Bill C-51 in the 41st Parliament and voted against the destruction of environmental assessments in Bill C-38. Ironically, I think they have done a better job now of fixing the bill they voted for than of fixing the bill they voted against, at least as far as environmental assessments go. Therefore, I am voting against Bill C-69 on environmental assessments. However, I am voting for Bill C-59. I am influenced a lot by Professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, who overall think this is an improvement. I do too, overall. However, it does not fix everything Bill C-51 did to make us less safe.

I appreciate the member's thoughtful analysis, and I am going to vote for it, but with misgivings.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 11:10 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have heard referenced a number of times in this place that municipalities across Canada were upset with the Fisheries Act, and that is why the Harper government acted to change it.

I just want to reference this again. I mentioned it earlier in debate. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities dealt with this issue in 2012. They brought before the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' annual general meeting a motion to urge former prime minister Harper to protect habitat and to take those sections out of Bill C-38 that weakened habitat protections. The motion was brought forward by a British Columbian, and former Conservative minister of fisheries, the hon. Tom Siddon, who happened to be an elected official within his own area of British Columbia. It was brought to the floor of the FCM, where it passed.

Where municipalities have weighed in on this issue, they have called for the protection of fish habitat. There is no question that there can be times when there are conflicts for some rural municipalities, but those issues have been largely dealt with in Bill C-68. It certainly has the support of municipalities across the country.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to present my thoughts on Bill C-57. I regret very much that we have time allocation on this bill, and even more so the hour of 11 p.m. that is now approaching. This important legislation deserves to be heard in a normal fashion with full debate.

Let me go back to when this bill originated. The Federal Sustainable Development Act was actually passed in the era of a Conservative government, and was one of those rare pieces of legislation that originated with the opposition. It was brought forward by a former Liberal MP, John Godfrey. It was one of his last contributions as a very diligent and thoughtful member of Parliament. He went on to leave Parliament and go back to his old stomping grounds of education.

Sustainable development and aspects of sustainable development had been in Canadian law before. This bill managed to get through Parliament in 2008, and the successor bill that we have before us tonight does improve some elements of sustainable development as originally put forward with a lot of co-operation in this place back in 2008. I was not yet a member of Parliament in that year, but I followed very closely the development of the Federal Sustainable Development Act because it was really a high-water mark for the minority-government years of former Prime Minister Harper, because opposition parties were willing to work together. The opposition parties had a majority, but very rarely used it. In this case, the Federal Sustainable Development Act was brought in. This act could have been improved and strengthened, but there is very little that I would say is wrong with it. I am disappointed that we will repeal the definition of the precautionary principle, but overall the bill will strengthen the application of sustainable development principles to more parts of the federal government, and I do like the creation of a sustainable development advisory council. The bill has real potential, but I do not think the government plans to do with it what I hope it will do.

Going back to the early 1960s, for decades the Canadian government benefited from well-researched, strong public policy advice from institutions that we no longer have. We used to have, starting in 1963, the Economic Council of Canada. We had as well the Science Council of Canada. In the early 1970s, we had the creation of the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council. In 1993, all three of those agencies were wound up and repealed. That meant we lost the Economic Council of Canada, the Science Council of Canada, and the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council. They were wound up and repealed because in 1993 the federal government brought in the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. This was our first substantial sustainable development tool. To quote the late Jim MacNeill, a brilliant Canadian diplomat and former deputy minister who really challenged the ideas of sustainable development, one of the core ideas was that “If we change the way we make decisions, we'll change the kind of decisions we make.”

The idea of the national round table was that by bringing together people from different perspectives, including trade unions, large corporate enterprises, academics, environmentalists, indigenous people, as well as government ministers and agencies and so on, the resulting give and take and shared learning would create decisions that met the challenge of sustainability, because sustainability is not the environment by itself. Sustainability has at least three legs to the stool. They are the environment, and social and economic concerns, but those are within a very clear mandate to ensure that the decisions we take today do not compromise the ability of future generations to make their own decisions and to meet their own needs. In other words, sustainability requires that we think about intergenerational equity.

Here I have to confess that I was a member and vice-chair for quite a while of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. Its work was substantial. I do not want to blow my own horn, but a lot of work was done by a lot of people over many years, and I served for only a relatively brief period.

In 2012, under omnibus budget Bill C-38, the national round table was eliminated. No one at that point said that we had better bring back all those other advisory bodies that we had eliminated in 1993 when we created the national round table. There is no longer the Economic Council, no longer the Science Council, no longer the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council, and there is no national round table.

This is the first time something has been created that could meet that need, namely a sustainable development advisory council. It is pretty thin gruel. It could do a lot. The Treasury Board within the act could establish policies or issue directives and could be adequately funding this new agency, which is quite modestly proposed in the act. That said, I certainly hope that the government will realize that we desperately need sound advice on what is sustainable and what is not.

Speaking of what is not sustainable, it includes today's announcement that the Government of Canada is going to form a crown corporation that will now be the management entity for a pipeline that the federal government proposes to buy with a closing date in August. I can only hope that something goes wrong with this sale because this is monstrous. We are proposing to spend $4.5 billion to buy the assets of what is called the Trans Mountain pipeline, but owned by Kinder Morgan of Houston, Texas.

The Trans Mountain pipeline was built in 1953 by a Canadian company with the goal of bring crude or synthetic crude to Burnaby, British Columbia, where over time they developed four refineries. The Trans Mountain pipeline was all about bringing Canadian crude from Alberta to Canadian refineries in the Lower Mainland for domestic use.

When Kinder Morgan bought the assets of Trans Mountain, which are now more than 60 years old, in its valuation to the National Energy Board, the company put the value of the Trans Mountain assets at $550 million. Those are the assets that today the Minister of Finance announced he would buy at a price of $4.5 billion. That is astonishing. Kinder Morgan has certainly achieved a very rich return on investment without having invested new infrastructure.

Kinder Morgan wanted to build a new pipeline, but I think it has lost interest in it. That is why it kidnapped its own project and said that if we did not have a solution by May 31, it would walk away. Clearly for political reasons, primarily for the impact in Alberta, the federal government decided that anything was preferable to having Kinder Morgan walk away, so it has done something astonishing. It is planning to spend $4.5 billion to buy the existing assets of the old pipeline and to take on, as yet undescribed by the Minister of Finance, but said by Kinder Morgan to be a $7.4 billion project to build the expansion. The government is taking on a project that has not yet cleared its conditions with the National Energy Board and is still before the courts in 15 different court cases for violation of indigenous rights, and is doing so with a completely scandalously inadequate environmental review before the National Energy Board within which evidence was put forward by Kinder Morgan and at which no intervenors were allowed to cross-examine.

We now find ourselves asking if the government understands sustainable development, because overarching all of this is the most fundamental and pressing question, what about the climate crisis? How can we possibly claim that Canada understands the pressing imperative of the transition away from fossil fuels, whether in 10, 20, or 30 years? We need to make plans. How can we understand the imperative of avoiding the kind of disaster that deprives not hypothetical future generations but our own children, children alive today that we tuck in at night? How can we possibly think we understand sustainability while building pipelines?

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
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Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in my place today to talk about this important issue.

It is nice to see an injustice done to a fellow colleague undone, just before I speak on this particular issue.

I was elected to this chamber in 2006. At that time, I was the proud member of Parliament for a constituency then known as Wetaskiwin, a large rural area between Red Deer and Edmonton. One of the biggest concerns I heard about at that time, from all the municipal reeves and councillors, was the onerous and very expensive, time-consuming process of doing something as simple as replacing a culvert under a gravel road out in one of the hinterlands of these counties. Some of these counties, such as Clearwater County, represent a massive tract of land. There are very few people in the eastern portion of that country.

There are massive numbers of roads, including forestry service roads, trunk roads, and all kinds of roads. There are constant little streams and so on in the foothills, and lots of small bridges and lots of culverts. The same thing could be said for Lacombe County, Ponoka County, Wetaskiwin County, Leduc County, or virtually any county or municipal district in Alberta. This would be the same for virtually any county or municipal district across the Prairies or anywhere else in the country, for that matter.

The Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, the AAMD, SARM, in Saskatchewan, and various other organizations, all the way up to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, had the onerous and odious situation of dealing with the Fisheries Act. In particular, the habitat alteration damage and destruction clauses, and their implementation thereof, were simply causing numerous delays. Fisheries officers would show up at a construction site, and the term used was “showing up with guns drawn”, where a couple of county workers and a contractor might be trying to fix a culvert or unplug something. These are the situations that these folks faced on a daily basis in our vast rural areas.

This is moving back regressively, taking this legislation back. We just heard the parliamentary secretary talking about how they are going back to the way it was before. That is simply another attack and another assault, in a legacy of assaults that are happening right now, on our rural communities across this country, whether it is regressing in the firearms legislation, the carbon tax, all the environmental legislation, getting rid of the National Energy Board, imposing a tanker ban off the west coast, cancelling pipeline projects, like the northern gateway, and changing the goal post so many times on development projects that companies are pulling out of projects they have spent years developing and that had prior approval from very competent authorities set up under legislation. We just seem to be going backwards.

I have a degree in zoology, fisheries, and aquatic sciences from the University of Alberta. I do not want to date myself by saying when that happened, but it was a long time ago. I worked proudly for a number of years for Alberta Fish and Wildlife doing walleye minimum size limit experiments and working with DFO when I was a fishing guide in the Arctic. I know intimately some of the issues facing our country. I was an enforcement officer. I was a national park warden. As a conservation officer and a park ranger for the Province of Alberta, I enforced the Fisheries Act. I enforced the fisheries regulations therein, so I have a little knowledge about what I am talking about.

I am not saying, in any way, shape, or form, that the Conservative Party does not believe that we should be protecting our fisheries, protecting the environment, and making sure that we have sustainable development going forward. That is simply not the case.

In Alberta, some of the most active conservationists are people who work in the energy sector, people who work in the oil patch, people who work in rural areas, and people who work in the forestry industry. They come out of our cities, come out of Edmonton and out of Calgary. The May long weekend is coming up. The entire west country in Alberta is going to fill right up. There are going to be 40,000 or 50,000 people in Clearwater County alone over the May long weekend. They are going to be fishing in the Ram River and all the little lakes we have out there, and they are going to be enjoying themselves.

These people go to work every day, and they understand that they can get the balance right. What they do not understand is legislation that keeps on coming from Liberal governments, past and present, that denies them the opportunity, the livelihood, that would allow them to actually go out and enjoy the environment by preventing energy projects from going forward and by preventing all kinds of development.

There is so much capital flight happening right now. The lack of foreign investment in Canada is striking. The government says that it has all this economic growth. It is propped up by deficits. If the Liberals actually believed anything they said over there, they would have no trouble balancing a budget in so-called economic good times. The people of Canada have everything to fear from a government that says everything is going well but cannot balance the books. That is a different debate for another day.

I want to talk about the Fisheries Act and the onerous provisions that would come back on our counties. Our counties and ratepayers in our municipal areas will have to pay three to five times as much to replace a culvert and to repair a bridge. They will face delays. They will face road closures as a result of these delays and the enhanced enforcement.

Do my Liberal colleagues want to lose all their rural seats in the Prairies? Oh, they do not have any and here is why. After years and years of not listening when fisheries officers showed up, guns drawn, for something as minuscule as somebody wanting to drain a ditch off their property, this caused people headaches. They do not want to deal with this anymore, but we are sadly going back in that direction. Therefore, it will be more red tape, more delays, more costs, less development, and capital flight will be leaving.

I was proud to be part of some of the changes we made. In fact, I was even the legislative chair of the subcommittee on finance that brought in Bill C-38, which made common-sense changes. I remember bizarre stories coming out of Manitoba. For example, a farmer, after the Assiniboine and Red river floods, was charged for draining his field because carp had escaped the river during the flood and were in the field. Because he was draining his field, thereby taking away the fish habitat in which the fish were living in his wheat field, he was charged for destroying a fish habitat. This is how bizarre the implementation of the legislation was before, and we are going back to that legislation. We can count on a whipped vote on the other side, ensuring the legislation goes through, and we will be able to count on bizarre stories like this one coming forward again.

We do not need to go back to legislation from the 1940s and 1950s in this modern era. Counties and municipal districts are far more knowledgeable and far more responsible. There is far more education out there and far more oversight. We have social media oversight. We have all kinds of mechanisms right now. Not a single county wants to end up on the front page of a paper or anything like that after doing something that harms fish habitat.

That is the problem with the legislation. The legislation is not just focused on fish habitat, but focused on the harm of even one fish. If it happens, it is unfortunate and I get that. However, if we are not looking at the big picture of what we are trying to do and if we are focusing on something as minuscule as one fish and stopping an entire project because all the approvals are not in place, it does not matter what the methodology if going to be. The methodology will be the same. There are only so many ways to replace a bridge and only so many ways to replace a culvert. These things are well known and people will do them. However, if they do not have all the paperwork in place, they will be criminals it if they happen to kill a fish, notwithstanding the fact that the habitat was fine, all the process was followed, and all the offsets and restoration guidelines were followed. This is the problem with the legislation.

There was a great opportunity for the government to go in a positive direction, to send a positive message to the investment community. The Liberals tell us that they can get the balance between the environment and the economy right. They got it right from their perspective: no economy, all environment. That is the problem. They could have focused on natural fisheries sustainability. They talk about implementing the Cohen report. There are things in the Cohen report they will not do because they do not want to simply focus on natural fisheries and sustainability.

On fisheries enhancement, both in saltwater and in freshwater, my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, I and several other members advocated in past budgets for fisheries programs where we would partner, through these organizations, to enhance freshwater fisheries. Why are we not asking organizations or companies like Shell to, instead of rebuilding lakes in northern Alberta where mining projects are, use the same offsets and enhance fisheries where the actual people would be, so people could enjoy those enhancements. Restore the disturbed area to what it was, but do the enhancements where the people are. Make the fishery opportunities better. There is a sad situation here, a missed opportunity in the bill to be progressive going forward in looking after not only fisheries and fisheries habitats but looking after the people who sustain them.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2018 / 1:25 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I note that my hon. colleague mentioned technical briefings to understand Bill C-68. I assure him that I did not need a technical briefing. I was so relieved to read legislation that made sense again.

When I was in this House in 2012, when Bill C-38 was tabled at first reading, it was over 440 pages long and changed 70 different pieces of legislation. We were never offered a technical briefing. There was a rush to push it through. Former fisheries ministers, two former Conservative fisheries ministers and two former Liberal fisheries ministers, ministers Fraser, Siddon, Dhaliwal, and Anderson, were united in saying that what was happening was the gutting of the Fisheries Act.

I would ask my hon. colleague to reflect that perhaps this legislation coming forward to re-establish the protection of fish habitat and to re-establish fundamental notions that we protect our fisheries and fish, regardless of whether they are destined for human consumption, would be an improvement in Canada's ability to steward the natural environment. We, as Canadians, hold an obligation to take care of these living marine resources far better than we have in the past.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I remember clearly the debates that we used to have here as Bill C-38, the omnibus budget bill of spring 2012, barrelled toward us.

It was interesting to hear the member reference Tom Siddon in his speech. I recall clearly when the former fisheries minister Tom Siddon, Progressive Conservative, joined with former fisheries minister John Fraser, also Conservative, as well as two former Liberal fisheries ministers, David Anderson and Herb Dhaliwal, and condemned what Harper was doing to the Fisheries Act. In fact, Tom Siddon was quoted in The Globe as saying, “They are totally watering down and emasculating the Fisheries Act...They are really taking the guts out of the Fisheries Act...”

It is the first chance I have to take the floor on this debate. I want to thank the Minister of Fisheries from the bottom of my heart for restoring lost protections, restoring habitat, and putting a focus back on fish and its habitat, as the Fisheries Act must do.

How did the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa end up so far away from the great Conservative fisheries ministers of the past?

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

February 12th, 2018 / 7:20 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this evening in adjournment proceedings to return to a question I asked on October 23 of last year. Some will remember this question only for the uproarious laughter that ensued, most inappropriately, as some members in this place thought the Minister of Transport had misspoken. He referred to the kind of sense of shared commitment the opposition benches all felt in opposing the omnibus budget bills put forward by the previous government.

In the spring of 2012, the omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38, repealed our environmental assessment act and destroyed the Fisheries Act. We fought very hard against that, and then in the fall of the same year, there was another omnibus budget bill, Bill C-45, that gutted the navigable waters protection act. In referring to that, the hon. Minister of Transport referred to remembering spending the whole night with me, which of course, was in this House over 24 hours of straight voting. Very few members actually stayed in their seats voting continually on every amendment and every motion, but since most of the amendments were mine, I stayed here in my seat for 24 hours voting straight through. It certainly was not an occasion for raucous laughter, but we know sometimes people in this place do not rise to the occasion. They sink to grade two or maybe kindergarten.

In any case, I want to return to that, because now we have seen the proposed amendments to the Navigation Protection Act. In fact, they were tabled in this place just last week. I have reviewed them thoroughly. I had extreme concern, which I raised in my question, that the Minister of Transport was not likely to meet the mandate letter, in which the Prime Minister had instructed him to restore lost protections to the Navigation Protection Act. It appeared from discussion papers and from the report of the parliamentary committee on transportation that the government was going to be prepared to say that this is what the previous government did, that it took some 99% of navigable waters from our inland waterways out of the act and created a short list of about 100 named waterways that are internal to Canada, and that is that. If a waterway is on that list, it is navigable water. If it is not on the list, it is not. It appeared for quite a while that the Liberal approach would be to say that they would create a system whereby people could add waters to the list by application.

It was a real relief, in reading Bill C-69, one of the few places in reading that bill that I was actually relieved, that the definition of navigable waters has been changed such that it is not just the schedule of waterways that will be considered navigable waters but any waterway human beings are currently using. It would not be as broad as what there was in 1881, but any body of water, anywhere in Canada, in which one could put a canoe or a kayak and navigate one's way through would require a permit from the federal minister before that body of water could be obstructed. It is much broader than it was under Harper. It is not a complete restoration of lost protections, but a much bigger swath of interior waters of Canada would now be under a navigable waters act.

One of the aspects of the lost protection was that the issuance of a federal permit would trigger an environmental review. Under part 1 of Bill C-69, we would now have what would be called an impact assessment, but without any triggering to review projects where a federal minister had to give a permit. We await finding out what the designated projects would look like, but it would still fall short of what was promised.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

February 8th, 2018 / 5:55 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking tonight in adjournment proceedings, and the timing is almost impossible to believe. On October 20, I attempted to warn the Minister of Environment and the Prime Minister of how very dangerous it would be to give the offshore petroleum boards in Atlantic Canada any power or role in environmental assessment. The idea that the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board or the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board should have any role in the environmental assessment of projects over which they have regulatory authority is desperately worrying. I say that because these boards were created by legislation to expand offshore oil and gas. That is their role. They have a mandate to expand offshore oil and gas.

I said to the minister on October 20 that offshore petroleum boards in Atlantic Canada have legislated mandates to expand oil and gas activity. They have never had any role in environmental assessment, and if they did, it would be a conflict of interest. Now it appears that the Liberals are following through on Stephen Harper's plan to put these boards into environmental assessments, where they should not be.

I have to say that my final question to the Minister of Environment was whether she could assure this House that she would keep these offshore boards out of environmental assessment. Her answer was not very clear on October 20. The answer is really clear today, because we now have omnibus Bill C-69, which entrenches a role for these very boards in environmental assessments, where they have no business being.

There has been a bit of fancy footwork in the Liberal talking points. Expert panels reviewed the broken laws left after the Harper era by omnibus budget bills C-38 and C-45. We had massive consultations. Very high-powered expert boards were commissioned to look at the National Energy Board and provide recommendations and to look at the environmental assessment process and provide recommendations. Both recommended that energy regulators should play no role in environmental assessment and that there should be a stand-alone environmental assessment agency.

In some ways, if we were to read the press releases and the talking points, one might think that is what was just done today in Bill C-69. There is one agency, called the impact assessment agency, except for one thing. When one reads it in detail, one finds that when there is a project that would be regulated by one of these boards—what we used to call the National Energy Board, which we will have to get used to calling the Canadian energy regulator; the offshore petroleum boards; or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which, for the first time ever, Stephen Harper put in the frame of environmental assessment in 2012—under the Liberals, these boards would continue to play a role in environmental assessment.

This is how they did the fancy footwork. There is only one environmental assessment agency, but when a project falls into one of those jurisdictions, the people put on the panel to review the project must be taken from the boards of those agencies. They will apply their other laws at the same time as they go through environmental reviews.

Let me talk about the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board. I am going to quote Dr. Lindy Weilgart, an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University and an international expert on seismic blasting. She talked about the seismic surveys, approved by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, in the migratory habitat of the endangered right whale. Air guns are shot every 10 seconds around the clock. It is the loudest human-produced noise right after nuclear and chemical explosions. That is why she said that in 2016, 28 right whale experts declared that the additional distress of widespread seismic air gun surveys represented a tipping point for the survival of this species. The Liberals today have given these boards a role in environmental assessment.

I am horrified by this. I ask my colleague, the hon. parliamentary secretary, how she can live with what the government has just done.

Natural ResourcesAdjournment Proceedings

December 5th, 2017 / 7 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this evening in adjournment proceedings to pursue a question that I asked on September 20. It was to the Minister of Natural Resources. As congenial as it was, I did not find the answer satisfactory, because it did not actually answer my question.

My question related to the changes made in the spring of 2012 to Canada's National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which had existed since the early 1990s, was repealed. That was a tragedy that I hope we will see reversed, but I am afraid that the train of the debate tonight will reveal my very diminishing hopes that we will see our laws restored to what they were in 2006.

One aspect of what the previous Conservative government did in its omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38, was to massively change the way environmental assessments were pursued. One part of that was to say—and this was never defended as a policy choice, and no rationale was ever offered—that we should treat certain energy projects as distinct from all other projects in terms of environmental review under federal law. Pipelines, for the first time, had environmental reviews done by the National Energy Board, offshore drilling had environmental reviews assigned to the offshore petroleum boards from Atlantic Canada, and changes to new projects that involved nuclear energy would have environmental reviews by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. This was unheard of.

What I pointed out in my question to the minister on September 20 was that the National Energy Board, in doing environmental reviews on pipelines, was showing a much greater willingness to approve a project that interfered with caribou habitat than when Environment Canada reviewed a mining project in the same region with the same caribou herd. Mining projects were given a much rougher ride than pipeline projects. My question to the minister was if he would confirm that the National Energy Board would get out of environmental assessments once and for all. That was the expert advice given to the new government by two different expert panels: one expert panel on the National Energy Board and another on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Both expert panels said that the National Energy Board should get out of environmental reviews.

The National Energy Board is not an institution that knows how to do environmental reviews. The National Energy Board expert panel said very clearly that the board should be renamed the Canadian energy transmission commission; its mandate should be clearer; and it should be doing more to explain what it means by “national interest” than it has in the way it has been operating for the last number of years. Under the topic of environmental assessment review, the environmental assessment expert panel recommended putting one agency in charge and giving it quasi-judicial status. The National Energy Board has quasi-judicial status and the Environmental Assessment Agency should have it.

To me, it has been devastating to watch the government ignore the reports of two different expert panels. I say it has ignored them because it has not responded to them. A discussion document pushed together four different reviews. The discussion document came out at the end of June, but it was very clear that the government had no intention of fixing environmental assessment and getting the National Energy Board out of environmental assessment, because the discussion document said that the National Energy Board, the offshore petroleum boards, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission would be involved in environmental reviews, working alongside a revised Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Can the parliamentary secretary confirm that the government is interested in fixing this problem and getting the NEB out of environmental assessments?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 28th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to review Bill C-63 at report stage. I lament that we have time allocation in place, but I am grateful that I was able to grab the slot that occurs every 34 slots for someone in a position like mine: being in a party with fewer than 12 MPs. Time allocation tends to be a real detriment to the principle that all MPs in this place are equal. That is the principle of Westminster parliamentary democracy. Of course, the increased power of party whips and the increased partisanship within the House means that all MPs are equal in the way that George Orwell described all animals as being equal in Animal Farm. Some are more equal than others.

Regarding the rules on recognized parties, I only recently discovered that Canada is the only Westminster parliamentary democracy that has the notion that a party needs a certain number of MPs before they get the same rights as their colleagues. It is unique to Canada. It is replicated in our provinces and is something I would like to see removed someday.

In the meantime, the bill has already made history. It is the first time the new rules for parliamentary procedure on omnibus bills have been applied. I appreciate that the Speaker accepted to look at this and separate out the sections that did not appear to be within the same theme of action.

Omnibus budget bills became, I have to say, horrific in the Harper era. We had two omnibus budget bills in 2012, Bill C-38 and Bill C-45, that had nothing to do with budgets and were omnibus bills of the most egregious kind. The term “omnibus budget bill” became, in the public mind, something to be absolutely rejected and condemned. However, there is such a thing as a legitimate omnibus bill; there is such a thing as a legitimate omnibus budget bill. This one came close, but there were sections I appreciated the Speaker separating out.

For the most part, the debate in this place has been misplaced in tending to be, from the opposition benches, primarily about the Minister of Finance's personal finances. We need answers to those questions, but not in the context of a debate on Bill C-63. Bill C-63 has much in it that I would urge colleagues to read closely, because I have read the bill closely, and there is much in the bill I like.

Although it did not go far enough, I certainly want to support the steps toward something the government promised. The Stephen Harper government promised to remove fossil fuel subsidies at the 2009 G20 summit. The promise has been on the books for some time that Canada would eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. It is, in that sense, a government promise that is not strictly a Liberal promise, but it is also a Liberal promise, and it was made in the platform and in the Speech from the Throne. We have seen very little done at the federal level to eliminate subsidies to fossil fuels. The accelerated capital cost allowance for oil sands investments was tapering off under the previous Conservative government. It remains in place for existing projects that are grandfathered under this very advantageous tax regime. It continues to amount to about $1 billion a year for oil sands companies, but it was once closer to $3 billion a year. People debate what is a subsidy and what is not, but a capital cost allowance is seen as pretty advantageous tax treatment that amounts to a subsidy.

The other one that has not been touched at all by the Liberals was one Stephen Harper brought in after he pledged to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies. That is the subsidy for the production of natural gas, particularly to assist liquified natural gas companies. It is hard to beat the one the former premier of B.C., Christy Clark, left in place for the Woodfibre LNG plant, which will amount to about $4,000 in public subsidies for every job created. Therefore, we are still subsidizing fossil fuels provincially and federally.

However, I was pleased to see what the bill would do on oil and gas drilling, in part one, although it would not go far enough. If a company had an unsuccessful oil and gas drilling experience, it used to get a 100% writeoff. Under Bill C-63, that would now be reduced to a 30% writeoff. That tax treatment would be better. It is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough.

The other piece in that same section that certainly is encouraging is better tax treatment for a real winner in renewable energy, and that is geothermal energy. We have known for a long time that we can do a lot with geothermal. We have seen countries around the world benefit from geothermal. The bill includes very good new tax treatment to encourage geothermal electricity.

There are also improvements in the bill on the donation of ecologically sensitive land. I was part of the national round table on the environment and the economy back in the day when the member for Ottawa South was the CEO. We took a real fight on to try to convince then minister of finance Paul Martin not to treat the donation of ecologically sensitive land as something that penalized the donor. People used to get dinged with a deemed capital gain, when they did not actually get anything; they were making a donation.

Over time, our tax code has moved consistently in the direction of better treatment. Bill C-63 would expand the kinds of land that could be donated and would improve the tax treatment. The ecologically sensitive land donations are quite welcome.

I also want to support the improvements in the tax treatment of nurse practitioners so that they would have some of the same tax treatment as other health professionals, which would improve their day-to-day lives.

Similarly, in division 10 of part 5, there are improvements to how the Energy Efficiency Act would operate. We definitely want to see more energy efficiency programming. It has been a big disappointment to me, and the Minister of Finance knows this, as I mentioned it to him recently, that we are not using the tools in the federal tool kit to approach climate change as if we take it seriously.

If we could go back and look at the current Minister of Public Safety's budget when he was minister of finance, in 2005, and pull all those measures out and decide that they were a top priority for the government to put in the 2018 budget, I would be one happy camper. That would include ecoenergy retrofits, which we do not have. It would include support for electric and hybrid vehicles and improvement of the east-west electricity grid.

Those are the things we do not have in the budget, but at least in Bill C-63 we have amendments to facilitate a lot of energy products to include harmonization of regulations to enhance energy efficiency. Those are very welcome.

What I tried to change the most in committee, through amendments, was something that is generally positive or a step in the right direction, which is to give people the right to time off work if they or members of their family are victims of violence. It is obvious to anyone who thinks about it or has gone through it. If a person has been a victim of a violent assault, or if someone in the family, particularly a child, has been the victim of a violent assault, it takes time. That child will have to be taken to therapy appointments. People will have to go to therapy appointments.

If people are going to recover from the trauma, they need time off work. This legislation is very welcome. It would give employees, by right, time off work. However, the bill operates in such a way that employers would have the option to say that someone could not take less than a full day. Employees could not say that they just wanted a couple of hours off, because that was all they needed. Employees would have to take a full day, and this would be time off work without pay. I am very disappointed that my amendments did not get through, because in committee, we said that this should be time off with pay.

The evidence we heard in committee was overwhelming, certainly from Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, who pointed out that 90% of domestic violence survivors experience financial control issues.

If a spouse has been violently assaulted by a spouse, and in most cases it is the male partner who violently assaults his wife, and the wife is, generally speaking, in a reduced financial situation of independence compared to her husband, how does she manage, if taking time off work means she might lose her right to raise her own children because of the financial duress? These are the parts of the bill I would have liked to see fixed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 10:50 a.m.
See context


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to give a speech on Bill C-63, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures. This is an omnibus budget bill.

In speaking to this, I wanted to also start with the big picture. Most of the speeches in this place since we began the debate at second reading of Bill C-63 have not delved very much into Bill C-63 itself. I plan to go into it in some detail. Most of the speeches have dealt with the general question of how much we, depending on which side of the House we are on, like or dislike the budget itself. There are some big picture comments I also want to make.

In debates in this place, the Conservative official opposition members berate the government for spending too much and adding to the debt. It is as though we have forgotten how to distinguish between the deficit, which is rising, and debt. Debt is a more permanent condition, and unfortunately, it is very hard to eliminate debt once it has been added on. We have not reduced any of the $150-billion addition to the national debt accrued under former prime minister Stephen Harper. The debt increased quite a lot in that period, although in the final term, we saw a balanced budget. Deficit is an issue of concern, but not nearly as much as debt.

In looking at the deficit and deficit spending, this current Liberal government was elected promising to run a deficit, although a much smaller one than the one we now see.

Here is what concerns me on the subject of government spending and increasing deficits. We are actually in a situation in this country where we need more, not less, government spending. The strictures on spending the current government appears to feel constrained by on things that need to be addressed come from an unwillingness to spend more than the large spending announcements that have already been made, which were for needed spending.

We need spending on infrastructure across Canada. In a sense, we have been like a homeowner who has deferred maintenance on the home in order to afford the other things we need in our household budget. However, deferred maintenance adds up. When the deferred maintenance is on water works and sewage systems, bridges and roads, and social infrastructure, such as affordable housing, and those things come home to roost, we need to spend more.

At the same time, there is a deep aversion to raising taxes. There have been a lot of claims that the opposite side has raised taxes a great deal. The reality, which I support, and it was in the Green Party platform to reduce the tax on small business to 9%, is certainly applauded. However, we in the Green Party are urging the government to look at the need to raise taxes on large, profitable multinationals.

The tax on large business was, in the year 2000, 28%. It is now down to 14%. It certainly should be raised, because if we look at the percentage of our total government revenues that come from corporations versus individual citizens, the portion on individual citizens has gone up while the portion on large corporations has shrunk dramatically.

As the economy is recovering, and that is good, there certainly is no reason or excuse to not go after, as my hon. friend from South Okanagan—West Kootenay just pointed out, the big fish. The big fish are in offshore tax havens. The big fish are in large, profitable multinationals. Going after people who are seeking to avoid, or worse, criminally evade, taxes should be a top priority.

I note, and it is a personal story, but I think it is quite bizarre, that my daughter, who is a university student, reported to me that the CRA is wasting tax dollars asking for proof of various items on her income tax return. She is a student. She is not making enough money to pay much in taxes or anything in taxes, I think. However, she is being asked to provide proof of the cost of books. I said that it was bizarre, and she said that another friend of hers is doing the same thing.

I would suggest that CRA could adjust its sights on millionaires and billionaires as opposed to students. I think that would be something most Canadians would support.

Turning to Bill C-63, I have to say that I read it with a growing sense of happiness. No doubt it will surprise people that anyone on the opposition benches would. However, when I pick up an omnibus budget bill I still have a sense of, I guess, PTSD from having read the omnibus budget bills in the 41st Parliament, particularly Bill C-38, which destroyed our environmental assessment regime and wrecked the Fisheries Act; and Bill C-45, which devastated the Navigable Waters Protection Act, removed the inspector general for CSIS, and various other measures that had nothing to do with each other.

Reading Bill C-63 confirms in my mind the strong need to simplify our tax code. When we talk to tax accountants, they generally agree that it would be wonderful if the Minister of Finance went in for root-and-branch tax reform to simplify the tax code to remove so many boutique exemptions. I commend the Minister of Finance for removing a number of boutique exemptions, but the tax code, and therefore the omnibus bill we have before us, is very complex on very specific items, such as straddling tax years and figuring out how to deal with different derivatives and the use of various tax mechanisms, such as going through trusts or going through additional corporations and how we end up taxing.

For the most part, I actually find myself wondering if I am going to vote for this particular budget bill if we can make some amendments. I want to point out the areas I like in this bill and the areas I think would benefit from amendments.

As it is an omnibus budget bill, I am pleased to see that there has finally been a tepid move, although it could go much further, to eliminate some of the fossil fuel subsidies. This was a large-ticket commitment in the Liberal campaign platform. Most of the large fossil fuel subsidies remain in place, despite a pledge in the Liberal platform to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels.

This would be a parallel and needed measure that would go along with eliminating the market distortions that are created by both subsidizing fossil fuels and failing to put a price on dumping waste into the atmosphere. That is equivalent to having a municipal waste dump where there is no tipping fee. People are not encouraged to avoid dumping if it is free. That is why a carbon price makes sense, but we need to move to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

The move that is happening here is in relation to changes to the Canadian exploration expense. This happens to be in part 1 of Bill C-63. It would change the tax treatment of Canadian exploration expenses to reduce the tax deductions that are available now from 100% to about 30%. By the way, the way this is structured has created an incentive for accelerated drilling prior to this kicking in in 2019. This could be an unintended but environmentally damaging period. I am holding in my hands advice from Bennett Jones to that corporate sector suggesting that if any oil and gas companies can hurry up and start exploration activities and get commitments in writing before 2019, they can continue to take advantage of the 100% deduction on capital expenses.

I also welcome the changes to the donation of ecologically sensitive lands. I worked on this, back in the day, on the now defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, repealed in the omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38. We worked to persuade the minister of finance of the day, the Right Hon. Paul Martin, to create special tax treatment for the donation of ecologically sensitive land. The revisions in Bill C-63 continue along that road to clarify and improve that system.

I am not at all unhappy to see the follow-through on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This is part of Canada's development portfolio. We still lag far behind the commitments made by previous governments, including every government back to Lester B. Pearson, Jean Chrétien, and the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney, who all committed that Canada's development assistance should equal 0.7% of our GDP. We are nowhere near that, but certainly the provisions around the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are welcome.

There are a number of other provisions I was pleased to see, particularly those in the Canada Labour Code that would provide more flexible work arrangements and give Canadians prescribed statutory time off work to recover after experiencing family violence. I would like to see those sections amended. I would like to see that time off work as paid leave. I would like to see a single woman without children receive some assistance if she has been the victim of violence. There could be some tweaking of provisions in there.

I am very happy to see the new tax treatment for geothermal energy and an Energy Efficiency Act.

There are many provisions in a bill of 275 pages, but I will stop there and say that I am generally pleased with the contents of this bill.

Omnibus BillsPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

November 7th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
See context


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will have an opportunity to address Bill C-63 in its substance very shortly in the speaking order in debate today, but I appreciate the opportunity to weigh in on the question of whether the bill is appropriately put before us. It is the first real test of Standing Order 69.1 on omnibus bills.

I made many attempts in points of order in the 41st Parliament to argue for the splitting of omnibus bills, for setting them aside. The Speaker at that point, currently the leader of the Conservative Party, ruled that was not for the Speaker to decide, and the House had to speak to the matter of whether a bill was properly an omnibus bill or not.

By way of background, there is nothing wrong with an omnibus bill. In tradition, all the Speakers in this place have said if a bill has a central and primary purpose, in order to achieve that purpose, amendments or repeals to other bills are acceptable. What was unacceptable in the 41st Parliament was randomly putting in so many bills. It was not only in the 41st Parliament. It happened in 2009 and 2010. When a bill is a budget bill, to defeat it is to bring down the government, so in a minority government it became political leverage to push through unpalatable bills all at once, with inadequate study. In a majority Parliament, it became a way for the government of the day to move through things expeditiously.

It put us in mind of the statement from Speaker Lucien Lamoureux years ago, who said he supposed there would come a day where the business of the House would be one omnibus bill that goes through all at once.

In this case, we now have guidance. I agree with previous speakers that it is lamentable that the Standing Order changes were brought in by majority rule as opposed to by consensus. However, Standing Order 69.1 is helpful. It gives us guidance, and it gives the Speaker the discretion to separate out those sections that are not properly within the bill.

I will be speaking to this in Bill C-63 in my second reading debate to say this kind of omnibus budget bill bears no relationship to the kind of egregious abuse of process that we saw in Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 in 2012. Those were bills that achieved things that had nothing to do with the budget, were not mentioned in the budget, and were egregious in their impact. This is of an order that is quite different.

I do not find Bill C-63, as an omnibus budget bill, objectionable, but it is quite right, as the hon. NDP House leader has pointed out, that where there are provisions that were not mentioned at all in the budget, if we are to uphold Standing Order 69.1, the Speaker has the discretion to move those parts out and allow separate debate and study of those portions only.

Standing Order 69.1 is an improvement over our previous Standing Orders. It does give guidance. However, I would hate to see the debate in this place misunderstood by anyone observing as representing an abuse of process, abuse of Parliament, and an affront to democracy that we saw in previous Parliaments under the previous government.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 6th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring us to the topic of today's debate, which has been completely absent for the last half hour or so. That is Bill C-63, the omnibus budget bill.

This is my first chance to speak to this, so I would like to mention that I read it over the weekend. It is a bill of 275 pages, with 11 different divisions. As much as I am genuinely fond of my friend from Cariboo—Prince George, I was disappointed by his speech, because vacuous rhetoric around the Prime Minister's socks is not as valuable as actually diving in and discussing the bill.

I have read a lot of omnibus budget bills. As for the ones under the previous government, I can genuinely and honestly say that turning page after page of Bill C-38 I moved from anger to grief. I was crying by the time I finished reading it. I am very happy to say that having read Bill C-63, I was nearly very bored. That is a good sign when dealing with a budget bill.

I would like the member to tell me if he likes or does not like the amendments in division 8, part 5, which would allow for flexible work arrangements for employees, or further in that division, the part that would guarantee time off work for families who are victims of family violence.

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the House

October 16th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Banff—Airdrie's speech was premised on many things that he may believe to be true but that are not true. There was no plan to stop importing oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, or Norway should energy east have gone ahead, because energy east was primarily an export pipeline. There is, in fact, no refinery in eastern Canada, in New Brunswick, that has the capacity to upgrade bitumen and refine it, which puts a bit of a problem to this idea that getting it to New Brunswick was somehow going to reduce the importation of 800,000 barrels of foreign oil a day.

I would agree with my friend that it would be far preferable to refine bitumen in Canada and use it domestically and therefore not be importing foreign oil, but energy east would not have accomplished that at all. The way to accomplish that is to look to Alberta and build upgraders and refineries in Alberta to end the divisive pipeline battles we see that do Canadians no good at all, pitting Albertans against British Columbians or against people from Quebec.

The other thing that is absolutely mistaken is the notion that TransCanada cancelled because of something that was done by the current Liberal government. I would congratulate the current Liberal government if it had lived up to its promise in the election campaign to make decisions based on evidence and to look at the absolutely disastrous mess created by Bill C-38 that put the National Energy Board, for the first time, in charge of environmental assessments of pipelines. It is not working. It has not worked since it started in 2012. We have pipeline reviews that have gone completely off the rails and have taken the NEB out of its usual regulatory role. As a former practising lawyer, I used to appear before the National Energy Board. It was a reliable agency. One could appear before it and expect procedural fairness under its quasi-judicial status. Throw in environmental reviews and we have a gong show of an agency that has lost respect from the public.

Back to my friend's point that this was Liberal interference in the review process, there is a very simple explanation. It is economics. It is that there are so many pipelines now approved, two of them that would affect TransCanada's delivery on the project. With Keystone being approved, energy east did not make economic sense anymore for TransCanada. That is understood by resource economists.

If my friend thinks I am wrong, could he name a refinery in New Brunswick that has the capacity to process bitumen?