Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act

An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act

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

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 amends the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act to provide that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 does not apply in Yukon, to allow for the coordination of reviews of transboundary projects, to establish time limits for environmental assessments and to establish a cost recovery regime. It also amends that Act to provide for binding ministerial policy directions to the Board and the delegation of any of the Minister’s powers, duties and functions to the territorial minister, and allows for a member of the board who is participating in a screening or review to continue to act for that purpose after the expiry of their term or their removal due to a loss of residency in Yukon, until decision documents are issued. In addition, it amends that Act to clarify that a new assessment of a project is not required when an authorization is renewed or amended unless there has been any significant change to the original project.

Part 2 amends the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act to modify the maximum term of certain licences, to establish time limits with respect to the making of certain decisions, to allow for the making of arrangements relating to security, to establish a cost recovery regime, to modify the offence and penalty regime and to create an administrative monetary penalty scheme.

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.

Votes

June 8, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
June 8, 2015 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House decline to give third reading to Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Surface Rights Tribunal Act, because it: ( a) was developed without adequate consultation with Yukon First Nations, as per the government of Canada’s constitutional duty, and without adequate consultation with the people of Yukon, as per the government’s democratic duty; ( b) provides the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development with authority to unilaterally issue binding policy direction on the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, which undermines the neutrality of the environmental and socio-economic assessment process; ( c) provides the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development with authority to delegate powers to the territorial minister without the consent of First Nations; ( d) provides broad exemptions for renewals and amendments of projects; and ( e) includes proposed timelines on the assessment process that will affect the thoroughness of environmental and socio-economic assessments and opportunities for First Nation input on major projects. ”.
June 3, 2015 Passed That Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
June 3, 2015 Failed
June 3, 2015 Passed That, in relation to Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
March 11, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
March 11, 2015 Passed That, in relation to Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Motions in AmendmentYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2015 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I do not think these amendments were a part of that consultation. The consultation was about the five-year review. These were not part of that. Mr. Geithner is the name of the director of the Tourism Industry Association. He started off in his remarks talking about the praise that Senator Lang had given for the assessment process, saying that it was a model for certainty, implementing responsible environmental and social balance while providing certainty to investors. If that was already there, why did it need to be changed?

Motions in AmendmentYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2015 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-6 today because we are dealing with a process, and this is extremely important, no matter what members on the other side are saying. In this case, the people who will be affected by these decisions have not been adequately consulted. The government unfortunately has a habit of not consulting people on a number of issues.

It is even more troubling in the case of the Yukon, which we are discussing today. Not too long ago, Bill C-15, if I am not mistaken, gave more powers to the territories, which was in line with what was done in the Northwest Territories a few years ago. We recently adopted the same type of approach with the Yukon.

It appears as though the pendulum is swinging the other way now. The government is bringing the power back to Ottawa and is giving itself more discretionary powers. This bill is a way to push through some natural resource development projects and to once again gut our environmental protection laws, which is another worrisome trend from this government.

Since we started the debate this afternoon, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development has been telling us that everyone in the Yukon agrees that the existing rules only delay the process, since it is unpredictable. However, as my colleague from St. John's East just pointed out, the rules proposed by the Conservatives make the situation even more unpredictable, since they simply say that if any communities in the Yukon are unhappy with the result they will have to go to court.

Speaking of trends, that is another one we are seeing more and more of all the time. Instead of being proactive and proposing legislation and an approach to governance that does not require legal proceedings, the government seems to be saying that this is not so bad because these people can turn to the courts. The focus is on the cure instead of prevention. If the government wants to have a real dialogue, then it has to prevent these conflicts where people, particularly first nations, feel that their rights are being trampled. Dragging things through the courts prolongs and encumbers the process, which makes the situation even harder for businesses that want to propose a project.

The interesting thing in the debates on the environment and the economy is the matter of environmental assessments. That came up again today, through this bill. If we took this responsibility seriously, we would not be obstructing those who advocate sustainable and responsible development. However, the government seems to believe that such legislation always gets in the way of development. Instead of trying to come up with better assessments, the government simply wants to get rid of them all. Words like social acceptability often come up when we talk about natural resource development projects.

It is clear that Bill S-6 has failed when it comes to social acceptability. The federal government might say that the territories are different from the provinces, but we must not play political games with the rights of the people of the Yukon and of the Yukon's first nations.

The parliamentary secretary talked about funding that was offered to the first nations, but that is not enough. The dialogue cannot be driven by money alone. There has to be a proactive attitude, a willingness to reach out and some openness.

We can have all the tools and resources in the world, but if we do not believe that they will be useful and that this dialogue will improve things, then it is hard to bring two or more partners to the table.

The parliamentary secretary also said there were many meetings, but that is precisely one of the things that people, including first nations, are upset about. Closed-door meetings do not count as public consultation. It is pretty easy to sit down with select stakeholders, then say that consultations were held and people should be satisfied with that. The problem, once again, is what people are feeling. I want to respond again to the parliamentary secretary's remarks. He just asked if the NDP will be challenging all of the legislation about which witnesses say they were not adequately consulted.

We all know that in politics it is impossible to please everyone, but when it comes to Bill S-6, everything we heard in committee and in the Yukon points to agreement among members of the public and first nations: the consultations were inadequate. That is why the Yukon NDP moved a motion in the legislature there to condemn this bill. Sure, they can pull out quotes here and there to support the argument that this is a step forward, but I am not talking about an exception; I am saying that most people think this.

Consequently, I believe that it is important to recognize that the government's approach is problematic. All too often, people condemn its bills and its approach and the government views them as exceptions. Very often these people are voicing the concerns of the majority, and therefore it is all the more important for the government to listen.

In matters affecting first nations especially, this is happening more and more frequently. One of my colleagues spoke about the government's paternalistic approach in its relations with first nations. That is the problem, more than the bill's outcome. When the government is considering making such a fundamental change to the way a territory is managed—a change that could call into question some rights enjoyed by first nations—telling them to just go to court reflects a paternalistic approach. There is no doubt about that, and we see it all too often with this government.

I made a mistake at the beginning of my speech. I said Bill C-6, but I meant Bill S-6. There again, Senate bills are increasingly common, and that is a problem. This is not a Senate bill, but a government bill that is proposing to make a very important, even draconian change to how the Yukon conducts its environmental assessments. The bill would also give discretionary powers to the minister.

The fact that the Senate passed such a bill and sent us such a fundamental change is very problematic in terms of how our two chambers operate, and it is especially problematic when we consider how long it takes for the Senate to pass private members' bills originating in the House of Commons. Consider, for example, the bill introduced by the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca on the rights of transgendered people. The Senate is dragging its feet on passing it. Unfortunately, at this rate, it will not even pass before the election is called. I am using this as an example because Bill S-6 is a government bill, and we know how quickly senators pass government bills and how long it takes them to pass private members' bills. I think this clearly illustrates the problems that arise as a result of how the system works, and this only adds to public cynicism.

I touched on this earlier, but the issue of ministers' discretionary powers is becoming more and more common in government-sponsored bills. This government likes to govern in such a way that ministers are too often allowed to use discretionary powers to adopt certain policies. This is extremely troubling and worrisome when it comes to environmental assessments.

The government prides itself on having a system of checks and balances in place, but those checks and balances are the courts. Everyone knows that the courts are a good tool for protecting fundamental rights, but at the same time, a good government should not settle for getting to that point. I realize I am repeating myself, but this is really what stands out the most on this particular issue.

In closing, I would like to reiterate that we are prepared to work with the people of Yukon. The Yukon NDP is doing a terrific job. The member for the Northwest Territories knows what managing a territory actually involves and how to work with the federal government. We can do this job properly.

Unfortunately, all too often, the federal government is content to just centralize and impose its way of doing things on others. That is not how we believe that things should be done. There must be an open dialogue among the various nations, particularly the first nations. That is the approach that we advocate and this would be an opportunity to implement that approach. That is why we are opposed to this bill.

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, in relation to Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the Bill; and

That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

It has been 90 times, Mr. Speaker. This is the 90th time for closure and time allocation. This is the worst record in Canadian parliamentary history by far. The current Conservative government shows a marked intolerance of debate and discussion.

What is really bizarre about this is that we are talking about a bill that has not even gone for its first round of debate. Only eight members of Parliament have even been able to speak on the bill. We have the government moving time allocation for the 90th time, when the bill has not even received proper scrutiny.

As members know, the government has another very poor record, which is for the most pieces of legislation rejected by the courts in Canadian history.

When we combine the two, the Conservatives' intolerance of debate and the fact that often they put forward legislation that has not been properly vetted or properly written, we can see that we have yet another case when it is very clear that the bill before us may well be challenged in the courts.

Just two weeks ago, the last piece of legislation the Conservatives forced through the House, Bill C-15, was rejected by the courts. There is now a court injunction.

We are seeing with the bill on the Yukon a growing tide of reaction from people in the Yukon territory who are saying that they are very concerned about the bill, that it deserves appropriate scrutiny, and that there has not been appropriate consultation. In fact, the Coalition of Yukon First Nations has now threatened court action for another injunction.

Is that not the reason the Conservatives are forcing through, for the 90th time, closure and time allocation? Is it because they know the bill is increasingly controversial?

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4 p.m.
See context

Madawaska—Restigouche New Brunswick

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt ConservativeMinister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the member complains about this being the 90th time. Well, that is about the number of times his party has stood up with exactly the same reasons. Every time, it is what they complain about, but he cannot bluff his way around this one.

This is not a bill about the Yukon only. It is about the regulatory system in the north, which affects, in this instance, both the Yukon and Nunavut.

For the information of the hon. member who complains about the bill not having been looked at by enough people, this is a bill that comes from the Senate. It has been before the senators. A host of witnesses have appeared before the Senate committee--

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are just sitting in the corner here sort of amazed at what is being said about the hearings that took place in the Senate. Those same senators made amendments to Bill C-377, a bill that attacked organized labour. They did not pay any attention to them. Why the difference now?

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, what he says in that corner is in that corner, all right.

The truth of the matter is that Bill S-6, the Yukon and Nunavut regulatory improvement act, is the final legislative step in the government action plan to improve northern regulatory regimes. This bill responds to years and years of calls for less duplication and a less cumbersome, uncertain review process to evaluate projects, one that encourages development, investment, and job creation in the north, and for that matter, in all of Canada.

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4 p.m.
See context

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, here we are again with the government shutting down democracy, for the 90th time. In this case, it serves to silence the voices of first nation peoples in the Yukon.

As Grand Chief Ruth Massie pointed out, this whole process attacks the integrity of their constitutionally protected agreements, and Yukon first nations will stand by their agreements, even if it means going to court. She said, “They give us no choice. We did not sign our agreements to implement them in the courts, but we will protect them”.

It is a disgrace that the current Conservative government is not only shutting down debate but is seeking to silence the voices of Grand Chief Massie and the first nations that are standing up for their rights and have been part of developing the YESSA agreement.

We will stand here in solidarity with them, sharing their voices and their words. We will fight back on this terrible piece of legislation.

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

That is nonsense, Mr. Speaker. The fact of the matter is that the Conservative member for Yukon has been pleading with the socialists in neckties to allow the committee to travel to Yukon. We hope that they will abide by the wish of the Conservative member of Parliament for Yukon and allow the committee to travel so that first nations can indeed be heard in the Yukon and so Yukoners have a chance to be consulted and give their points of view on this piece of legislation.

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, since he served in the cabinet of previous Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, how the Progressive Conservatives ever managed to get anything done, since they hardly ever used closure.

How was it possible that democracy was allowed in the House of Commons in the Progressive Conservative government and is no longer allowed in his administration?

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the opposition members call this the shutting down of democracy. They sit in the House of Commons and make their case, and this is not democracy? To me it is democracy, but democracy is also about elected members working for the welfare of Canada and the betterment of Canadians.

We are a government that does not consider the north just a trophy. We have decided that northerners will have their place in Canada. The northern strategy is about enabling northerners to be full Canadians, and we will keep doing this.

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Mark Strahl ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, in my role as parliamentary secretary, I have had the opportunity to meet with people at the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. in Vancouver as well as with the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada.

There is a new report out that shows that Yukon has actually gone from the best place in the world to conduct resource development mining to the ninth over the last number of years, because it is falling behind when it comes to its regulatory regime.

I am wondering if the minister can talk about the need to bring in regulatory reform so that Yukon, which used to lead the way with its mining development regime, can catch up now. I would ask him to talk about that.

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises a very important point. In fact, from 2011 to 2013, Yukon was rated the single most desirable place in the world for mining companies to conduct business. As the parliamentary secretary pointed out, the most recent report, however, shows that Yukon has actually fallen to ninth place overall. The leaders, communities, and workers in the Yukon are concerned. They see that the regulatory regime in the Northwest Territories has been changed to be in line with the one south of 60, and this is exactly what this would do for Yukon and Nunavut.

It is really important and urgent that we pass this legislation so that Yukoners and the people in Nunavut can get the same benefits as other jurisdictions in the north.

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, we just got the truth about why this bill is being rushed through. It was rushed through the Senate, and it is being rushed through the House. It is because the only voice that is being heard by the government is the mining associations'.

What is absolutely outrageous is that the government would limit debate on this bill when, in fact, the very issues we wish to raise are the ones expressed by Yukoners and the Yukon first nations themselves. Ruth Massie, the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, is vociferously opposed to this legislation. Why? It is for two reasons. First, it is substantively eroding their constitutionally entrenched umbrella final agreement and all first nation final agreements that were negotiated between the territories, the federal government, and the first nations. Second, the government is obligated by the Supreme Court of Canada and the Constitution to consult, consider, and accommodate, and it has absolutely refused to hear the concerns of the Council of Yukon First Nations.

Bill S-6—Time Allocation MotionYukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2015 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, this is totally false. The bill was part of a rigorous consultation process with first nations, territorial governments, and industry representatives. Drafts of legislative proposals were shared with stakeholders on several occasions. Comments received on the drafts were carefully considered, and where appropriate, were incorporated in the proposed text—