An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Sponsor

Carolyn Bennett  Liberal

Status

In committee (House), as of June 20, 2017

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, in particular by repealing the provisions

(a) that authorize the federal minister to delegate any of his or her powers, duties and functions under that Act to the territorial minister;

(b) that exempt projects and existing projects from the requirement of a new assessment when an authorization is renewed or amended and there are no significant changes to the original project as previously assessed;

(c) that establish time limits for assessments; and

(d) that authorize the federal minister to issue binding policy directions to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.

The enactment also amends the Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act by repealing the transitional provision relating to the application of time limit provisions enacted by that Act to projects in respect of which the evaluation, screening or review had begun before that Act came into force but for which no decision had yet been made.

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 20, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is important for me to let the House know that I will not be nearly as exuberant as the previous speaker, and I apologize for that.

It is important for everybody also to know that I will be sharing my time with the member for Courtenay—Alberni on this very important issue.

Today, I will address Bill C-17, a bill that would amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act. As the title suggests, this bill does not directly affect my beautiful riding of North Island—Powell River in B.C. Nonetheless, I am happy to rise today to speak to these amendments for first nations and Yukoners whose voices were lost and opposition eerily ignored in the last Parliament.

Without affecting my riding directly, the matter at hand is a very important example of the behaviour lauded during the Harper years. This legacy reverberated in all ridings across Canada. We should not forget that this approach was alienating and downright contrary to the idea of a nation-to-nation relationship.

As the Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson said, in a public letter:

What we need, what is sorely missing, is a willingness to engage in an open and honest manner. We need a relationship built on dialogue and respect, rather than on lawsuits and secret negotiations.

We are here today to repeal the most damaging clauses in Harper's Bill S-6.

In 1993, after 20 years of discussions, the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Yukon reached an agreement concerning the management of land and resources in Yukon and the settlement of land claims. Chapter 12 of this agreement called for the establishment of federal development assessment legislation. This obligation was fulfilled in 2003 with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.

The five-year review of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act was completed in March 2012. Due to a disagreement over the recommendations, the review was never made public. The amendments were developed through a secretive process, yet at the end of it came Bill S-6, which unilaterally rewrote the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act. Bill S-6 imposed time limits on the review process. It implemented changes to allow the minister to give binding policy direction to the board overseeing the environmental and socio-economic assessment process. Bill S-6 provided a delegation of authority that allows the minister to delegate any or all of a federal minister's powers, duties, or functions to the Yukon government, and it also changed the requirement for additional assessments to only where the project has been significantly changed.

New Democrats have been leading the fight against these harmful provisions unilaterally imposed by the Harper Conservatives to dismantle the environmental and socio-economic assessment process. This process was developed in Yukon, by Yukoners, for Yukon, and the Harper government imposed these changes without consultation. Like many of Stephen Harper's agendas, this fell into the hands of the courts. On October 14, 2015, the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, and the Teslin Tlingit Council took these legislative changes to the Supreme Court of Yukon. Their case states that these changes are inconsistent with their final land claim agreements.

Grand Chief Ruth Massie stated:

It is very unfortunate that Yukon First Nations are forced to bring this matter to the courts. But after numerous overtures to the Harper Government resulting in no compromise or real effort to accommodate First Nations’ interests, Yukon First Nations are left with no choice but to defend our rights and established treaty processes. This Petition has broad based support, but we hope the case won’t have to go the distance once a friendlier federal government assumes power in the coming weeks.

Some will see this dismantling of the Harper legislative agenda by the courts as judicial activism, but I caution members to acknowledge the reason we are here. Bill S-6 represented a complete lack of co-operation. It was developed without adequate consultation with Yukon first nations and the residents of Yukon, and it was not supported by the majority of them. Moreover, many provisions in the review were not addressed during the review the government unilaterally imposed on the system.

Forty years of discussion have resulted in a unique relationship between first nations, Yukon, and Canada. The steps of Bill S-6 were an example of the realities. When one bullies one's way through, this does not lead to relationship building.

In addition to the provisions in the bill, the Liberal government must reverse the Harper government's unilateral imposition of a new fiscal agreement on first nations in the Yukon. Not directly associated with any provisions within Bill C-17, two weeks before the writ was dropped the Harper government unilaterally imposed a new fiscal agreement on comprehensive land claim agreements, including first nations in the Yukon. This new approach was produced and adopted behind closed doors with no meaningful consultation. It undermines these treaties and cannot be implemented without breaching these agreements.

It is the opposite of a nation-to-nation approach. In November 2015, the Land Claims Agreement Coalition, which includes first nations in the Yukon, wrote the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs requesting the immediate suspension of the previous government's fiscal approach as it was incompatible with their treaties. Too often we have seen this top-down approach failing indigenous communities across Canada.

The Harper government systematically weakened environmental protection legislation with no public consultation and little parliamentary oversight. Since coming to power, the Liberal government has done little to reverse these very important changes. Sadly, the Liberals are also still using Stephen Harper's inadequate targets that will not allow us anywhere close to meeting our international commitments, and nothing in their plan does anything to address this ever-growing, gaping problem. We have seen Liberal and Conservative governments repeatedly make international commitments and then fall very short of following through, and so far the current government looks no different.

New Democrats will be raising the continued refusal of the government to fix the National Energy Board review process, as the Liberals committed to in the last election. It is important that all energy projects be subject to a credible and thorough environmental assessment that allows for public participation, respects indigenous rights, and considers the impacts of value-added jobs.

New Democrats are willing partners to work with the Liberal government to roll back the damage from the Harper Conservatives, but New Democrats also know that we must do better with indigenous people in Canada, that merely rolling back these damaging changes is one step, but it is not enough, and that is where the Liberal government has continued to fall short.

I look forward to seeing some positive movements in the future, and I will continue to do my work in this House to make sure that happens.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for North Island—Powell River for her speech on Bill C-17, an act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, and I want to thank the hon. member for Yukon for his hard work on this matter and for his leadership.

We are neighbours. As a British Columbian, I feel very closely connected to Yukon. We share many important values around respect for the environment. Trying to find balance with the environment and the economy is very important to both of us in our province and territory, as well as trying to find balance in working with indigenous people on a nation-to-nation basis and trying to move forward from the wrongs and policies of the past.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, YESAA, was an opportunity for us to move forward. It implemented the environmental assessment framework set out in the Yukon umbrella agreement. That agreement, which Yukoners worked so hard to get, was a multi-faceted stakeholder agreement led by indigenous people with government. In June 2015, the Harper government passed Bill S-6, amending YESAA. This bill was opposed by the NDP in Yukon, so we share those values.

The opposition was based on four changes to YESAA that the Yukon first nations opposed.

First, time limits were imposed on the review process. I cannot understand why we would put a time limit on looking at something that is going to have an impact on people for generations to come, for hundreds and hundreds of years. Where I live, the indigenous people like to look at the economy and look at a forecast and a plan of what it is going to look like for the next 500 years, not the next five years. It is very important to understand that this is a very in-depth process, especially when development in the north has left environmental damage and a legacy of cleanups impacting the local people.

Second, changes were implemented to allow the minister to give binding policy direction to the board overseeing the environmental and socio-economic assessment process.

Third, the bill provided a delegation of authority that allows the minister to delegate any or all of the federal minister's powers, duties, or functions to the Yukon government and change the requirement for additional assessments to only where the project has been significantly changed.

We led the fight against these changes being unilaterally imposed by the Harper regime and we have fought to reverse them since the passage of Bill S-6. On October 14, 2015, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, and the Teslin Tlingit Council took these legislative changes to the Supreme Court of Yukon. Their case says these changes are inconsistent with their final land agreements. They have agreed to put the litigation on hold to see if Parliament will pass this bill to roll back these changes.

We support this bill for this very reason. We want to get these cases out of court and work on moving forward together. Unfortunately, these changes did exactly the opposite. They put confrontation at the front of this.

Bill C-17 proposes to remove these four changes that were unilaterally imposed by the Harper government. We have been leading the fight against these harmful provisions, which were aimed at dismantling the environmental and socio-economic assessment process in Yukon. This process was developed in Yukon, by Yukoners, for Yukon, and the Harper government imposed these changes without consultation with Yukon first nations.

We are willing partners in working with the Liberal government to roll back the damage from the Harper Conservatives, but New Democrats know we must do more for indigenous peoples in Canada than merely roll back these damaging changes, and that is where the Liberal government has continued to fall short.

We are still seeing indigenous people in court. In my riding, the Nuu-chah-nulth are still in court regarding their right to catch and sell fish. They won. In the Supreme Court of Canada, the case was thrown out twice in support of the Nuu-chah-nulth and their right to catch and sell fish, yet the government is still dragging it out.

The Huu-ay-aht won a case in the rights tribunal, and the government has also now challenged that case, so we need to do more. We are calling on the present government to stop fighting indigenous people in court.

In addition to the provisions in this bill, the Liberal government must reverse the Harper government's unilateral imposition of a new fiscal agreement on the first nations in Yukon.

In terms of some context or background, YESAA was established in 2003 in fulfillment of an obligation in the Yukon Umbrella Final Agreement. In October 2007, the five-year review of YESAA was initiated, and it was completed in 2012. Due to a disagreement over the recommendations, the review was never made public. The amendments were developed through a secretive process.

Bill S-6 unilaterally rewrote the Yukon's environmental and socio-economic evaluation system. This system was the product of the Umbrella Final Agreement, which settled most of the first nations' land claims in the territory. YESAA is seen by most residents of the territory as a made-in-Yukon solution to the unique environmental and social circumstances of the territory, while the changes proposed in Bill S-6 were seen as being imposed from the outside to satisfy southern resource development companies.

The New Democrats opposed Bill S-6 because it was developed without adequate consultation with Yukon first nations and the residents of the Yukon. It was not supported by the majority of them.

Yukon first nations took these changes to the Yukon Supreme Court. On October 14, 2015, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, and the Teslin Tlingit Council took these legislative changes to the Supreme Court of Yukon. Their case states that these changes are inconsistent with the final land claim agreements. They have agreed to put the litigation on hold, as I stated earlier, to see if Parliament will pass this bill and roll back these changes.

As we know, Bill C-17 proposes to remove the four changes that I discussed earlier.

We support this bill. A few people have spoken about the situation, and I would like to mention some. In her testimony before the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs on February 25, 2016 , Grand Chief Ruth Massie, from the Council of Yukon First Nations, stated:

You're right. This fiscal policy is being imposed. We have not accepted it because of the language in our agreement. How is it going to affect us if it goes forward? We have no choice but to defend our agreements. That means going back to court because that's not what the provisions in our agreements say.

That is when she is referencing Bill S-6. I could read quotes all day from leaders from the Yukon in support of rolling back these changes.

We know that in this agreement, the Harper government systematically weakened environmental protection legislation, with no public consultation and little parliamentary oversight. Since coming to power, the Liberal government has not done enough to systematically reverse these changes, but we are very happy to see this as a step forward.

I congratulate the member for Yukon again for moving this forward and for working hard so that we can do what we need to do. We need to ensure that laws changing the implementation of land claim agreements can only be made with full and active consultation with and participation of first nation governments. We need to understand that YESAA is a made-in-Yukon environmental assessment process, so any changes to it must only be done with broad public consultation and participation.

The NDP has led the fight against these changes and to support YESAA because we understand they diminished the rights won by Yukoners through the devolution process.

Again, we support this bill. We are excited to see this opportunity for us to roll back these changes and for the people of Yukon in order to move forward.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 6 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to stand this evening to talk to Bill C-17, an act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act.

I want to note that I have only had the privilege once in my life of going to the Yukon, and what an incredibly beautiful part of our country. As we celebrate Canada's 150th, I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go up there, to paddle the rivers, or just enjoy the beautiful history and scenery. It truly is a unique and wonderful part of our country.

I also want to note that as a British Columbian, when I went up there I really did appreciate how the Yukon seemed to have a very good, collaborative process in terms of having solved many of its outstanding land claims issues, having a comprehensive process in place. Contrast that to British Columbia, where we still have a lot of work to do to get to the same place.

It is interesting. I am hearing about four amendments, and I am hearing a lot of process concerns. We did not talk about it quite long enough. However, I am not really hearing good arguments about those four elements.

First, I want to make a special note. This was legislation that was enacted in the last Parliament. It has been in place for a couple of years now. I have not heard of any difficult stories coming out of the Yukon in terms of the way the legislation has been established. There has been unhappiness with elements of it, but I have not heard of any challenges in terms of what it has done to move projects forward.

I have heard of a lot of challenges with the uncertainty of the time frames and the fact that people do not know what the government is going to do. It is important to note that the government actually introduced this piece of legislation over a year ago. I think it was in June 2016. If we look at how much of a priority it is for the government, the legislation was introduced well over a year ago and here we are, in the final stages of 2017, before we rise for the summer, and all of a sudden there is now some kind of urgency to it.

We did not have the first debate in the House on this legislation until April. Again, what the government is trying to do in the final days of Parliament is to get legislation through the House, and through committee with hardly any witnesses and hardly any time. There is not really the opportunity for the due diligence that we are responsible for as parliamentarians.

The government is trying to move it through quickly. In terms of the time management and of its record for moving legislation through Parliament, the government has a strong majority and has moved fewer pieces of legislation forward than Conservatives did in a minority government.

I forgot to note at the start that I will be sharing my time with the member for Foothills. Although I would love to speak for 20 minutes, he has a lot of good things that he would like to say as well.

We have a government that is trying to rush things through at the end of Parliament, because it has actually had a bad time management, parliamentary management system in place. It is spending lots of time debating motions that could have been done through ministerial statements. It has been ineffective in terms of what the government says are priority pieces of legislation with important time frames.

The bill before us is going to do four things in terms of the environmental assessment process. I am going to talk a little about each one. I know there was a discussion for five years around the review of ESA. There was an agreement on 72 elements, and there were four elements that perhaps there was not consensus on. I think having consensus on 72 out of 76 elements is pretty darn good. Any municipal government would be pleased to have kind of consensus, in terms of moving forward.

If we had, in this House, agreement on 72 pieces of legislation out of 76, we would have a pretty darn good record. The fact that perhaps there was not as fulsome a discussion as some groups might have wanted on these few elements, I do not think necessarily means that there has not been an important process and good rationale.

First, with respect to time limits on the review process, I heard my colleague from the NDP say time limits do not matter. Time limits do matter because companies and capital investments travel, and they go where they are wanted. If there is uncertainty, or if they know they are going to have to potentially wait 20 or 30 years before getting a yes or a no on moving a project forward, they are going to take their capital and spend it in other places. Therefore, having certainty around time limits is an important and logical step. It has been done, and has been well received in most of the provinces in the rest of the country.

It is interesting that they are complaining about the time limits, but they say we are meeting those time limits anyway, so we do not need it in the legislation. However, in challenging projects, perhaps people might need a little push in terms of having a time limit. As with many people, when they know a paper is due and they have a time limit, it is easier for them to get the work done than when it is open ended and they can turn in the paper whenever they want.

On the concerns about the time limits, especially when they are meeting them anyway, especially when it is consistent across the country, I will use British Columbia again as an example. There is a start process. They might say it is 18 months, but lots of times they put a halt to the process because there is something they need to deal with. I know that even a process that might have an 18-month time frame from submission to when they are supposed to get an answer can often take three or four years because there are certain elements that can trigger a halt in the process. Therefore, it is really not a good argument to suggest that time limits would be inappropriate in this piece of legislation.

Second, on exemptions from reassessment when an authorization is renewed, unless there is significant change, there can be a very minor change in a project. To suggest that they have to go through a fulsome, robust environmental assessment process is simply red tape, time consuming, and inefficient in terms of dollars. I would suggest a very appropriate insertion that says when there are minor changes they do not have to do a major review. It is not an area that is particularly troublesome, nor do I think in general people should be troubled by that.

Third, regarding the ability for the federal minister to provide binding policy direction, I agree we could have some debate on that. Perhaps that is one area where I could argue on both sides. I will concede that although one and two are perfectly appropriate, perhaps we could have a discussion on three.

The fourth one is the ability of the federal minister to delegate powers and duties. That is what we are doing across the country. In the provinces, they are saying, “Get out of our business. You live a long way away. Let us take over. Let us be responsible for making our own decisions in our own communities.”

It is unfortunate that I had the one-minute warning, because I have lots more to say. On the process, we had full consensus on 72 out of 76 recommendations. We have three that are very rational and reasonable, and one on which perhaps there could have been different decisions. I look forward to any questions.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-17.

I was a member of the aboriginal and indigenous affairs committee when we started to finish up the initial bill, which was through the Senate, Bill S-6. I understand concerns were raised. However, I have heard many times in the House today from the other parties about this lack of consultation.

There was a great deal of consultation as we moved through this process. Again, that was highlighted by my colleague's previous comments with the fact that of the 76 elements of the legislation, 72 had strong support and consent. There were four areas that needed to be discussed and were discussed. There was a great deal of consultation. Our committee even travelled to Yukon to meet face-to-face with government officials, industry, and representatives from indigenous communities. It was a process done in partnership with the communities, which is important to note.

I raised some concern with dismantling some of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, YESAA and the precedent the Liberal government was setting. I am very concerned with the future economic development opportunities of the Yukon and other territories if we take some key elements out of YESAA, such as the moratorium on Arctic drilling and the tanker ban off B.C.'s northern coast. Now there is a carbon tax. It seems that limits will be put on communities in Canada's north over and over. They rely heavily on natural resource development and the economic opportunities that brings to those communities. They will be further restricted, not only by taking some of these elements from YESAA, but part of the bill would also add additional bureaucracy and red tape to the approval process.

In my home province of Alberta, more than $50 billion in capital investment have left the province. A big part of that was the downturn in oil prices, but we have been through that before. The most significant impact has been the federal carbon tax, provincial carbon tax, and axing the discovery of well tax credit. All of these things are having an impact, and we have seen the devastating effects this has had on Alberta. I fear the next areas to start to feel this and the implications of these Liberal policies will be Yukon and some of these other northern territories.

However, Bill C-17 would change four key areas. I mentioned that we had near consensus on 72 out of 76 elements of YESAA. Now we want to address time limits on the review process; in fact, removing these timelines. My colleague in the New Democratic Party, who I respect a great deal, talked a little about why it was important to remove these timelines. It is because we need to discuss these issues long term. I think he was saying that we were looking at 500 years down the road.

We are not going to attract investment from the energy sector. We would not have large private-sector companies, maybe in partnership with the public sector, municipalities, provinces, and territories. They will not invest in a project if they do not see a clear goal or clear timeline to approval or denial. If they see there are no timelines in place or very limited timelines on the review process, they will not take that chance. They will take their investment dollars and put them in jurisdictions where they know they have a chance to succeed, or at least a very clearly defined process on how to get to that place. They will take their investments, as we see right now, to the United States, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other countries where they will have a much better ability to get a return on their investment or at least see their project be approved. However, by eliminating those timelines, we will not be making our territory or jurisdiction attractive to capital investment, especially when it comes to the natural resource sector.

When we were in government, looking at Bill S-6 and making these changes to YESSA, we wanted to empower Yukon, the territories and the communities in these jurisdictions to make these decisions for themselves. That was a key element to this. We wanted to ensure Yukon and the communities in Yukon had a level playing field that was comparable to the rest of Canada. We wanted to ensure the regulatory process and the review timelines were the same for Yukon as they were in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario and Atlantic Canada. We wanted to ensure there were no obstacles or detriments to attracting new capital investment to Yukon.

That is one of the reasons why Bill S-6 was so important. It was intended to make the northern regulatory regimes more consistent with other provinces. The key to that was to ensure Yukon would not be at a competitive disadvantage compared to other jurisdictions. We wanted to ensure these reforms also gave northern communities greater control over their future. They would have more impact and more say on what resource development would happen and what economic growth opportunities would be available.

We wanted to ensure there was predictability with these projects. We wanted to ensure there was certainty for proponents, regulators and governments, as well as aboriginal and indigenous communities. When they are making these decisions, we want to ensure they have all the information available to them, including timelines, and predictability. The process of getting those to conclusion is also very important.

The removal of these timelines as part of the review process shows we were introducing unnecessary delays in the approval process. We see the impact that has with other infrastructure projects across Canada when it comes to our energy sector. We want to ensure Yukon has an opportunity for economic development.

A good example of that is when I was at the PDAC conference in Toronto earlier this year. I had an opportunity to meet with stakeholders from the mining industry in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut. They talked about the importance of the mining industry in those remote northern communities. We also did a mining study at the natural resources committee. Certainly, a very high priority was not only their ability to do business and work with their indigenous communities, but also the importance of having that strict timeline as part of the regulatory review process.

The stakeholders at the PDAC meeting told me that the carbon tax on its own would cost their two companies combined about $25 million. These projects may not even go ahead because of that tax. How can we have new economic opportunities in these northern and remote communities that need it if private-sector companies do not see a friendly government at the federal level, which wants to embrace these opportunities for the northern communities?

When stakeholders of two major projects in the tens of millions of dollars are now questioning their future, their ability to be successful, and may move out, other companies will follow. When we add the ban on Arctic drilling, the moratorium on tanker traffic off the coast of northern B.C., a carbon tax, and now red tape and bureaucracy to the regulatory regime and review process, they simply will not go ahead. Rather, they will look for other areas that they feel are more business-friendly and more friendly to economic and resource development.

The key there is that Yukon was one of the most attractive territories and jurisdictions in Canada for mining companies and for mining projects and to invest in new opportunities. Yukon very quickly fell down that chart not only in Canada, but around the world because of the regulatory regime in place. Bill S-6 was an attempt to clean that up to ensure Yukon would not be at a competitive disadvantage. We wanted to ensure Yukon remained in that top five as not only a jurisdiction that was welcoming, had willing partners, and offered great opportunities, but also had a regulatory regime in place that allowed these things to happen.

Therefore, Bill C-17 is a step backward with respect to resource development and economic opportunity in Yukon. We have to be extremely concerned about that.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to join the debate tonight on this piece of legislation. We are discussing Bill C-17, an act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act. It raises a variety of questions more broadly in our discussion of natural resource development. I will speak about the bill and the different provisions in it as well as about some of the underlying questions and the relationship between those questions and broader issues of resource development.

We have already had some discussion tonight about my province, Alberta, and some of the resource development questions there. A lot of the questions are the same in terms of how we view the kinds of processes that need to be in place when it comes to economic development, where we think the decision-making power should be situated, and how we think these things should unfold.

To start with, in terms of the particulars of the legislation, the bill seeks to repeal a number of sections of the act that deal with time limits for project assessment, the ability of the federal minister to delegate certain powers to the territorial minister, the ability of the federal minister to set binding policy regulations, and an exemption to allow for project renewal if there is clearly no significant change to the project. These provisions of YESAA help to facilitate orderly, relatively efficient discussions, evaluations, and conclusions in terms of the assessment of projects. They reflect the belief of the previous government that we should trust local governments, provincial governments, and territorial governments as much as possible to make decisions that fall within, generally speaking, their own competencies and areas of authority.

These are some of the existing provisions of the legislation the government is seeking to repeal. We oppose this legislation. We think the provisions the government is seeking to repeal actually make good logical sense, and I want to go a little bit into the reasons why.

I will start with the issue of time limits. The bill would repeal sections that provide for legislated time limits for project assessment. There are a range of perspectives in this House on this question. We had a member of the NDP wonder why we would have time limits for project assessment. How does it even, from his perspective, make sense to have those time limits. That is one perspective in the House. We then had a member of the government say that maybe there should be some degree of time limitation, but it should not be defined from the outset. It should be something that can be determined or shifted on a case-by-case basis.

Our view, in this party, is that constructive deliberation requires there to be clear opportunities for the evidence to be presented, then coming out of that process, an opportunity for a determination to be made that reflects that evidence. I think that is intuitively reasonable. Thinking through and coming to a conclusion requires some degree of certainty that at some point, that decision-making process will end and there will be a conclusion, either yes or no. It is not about saying that every project should go ahead. It is about saying that there should be a process by which that decision is made.

For members who maybe are not convinced of this idea that we should have some degree of time limits for energy projects in terms of the adjudication of them, I can maybe make an analogy to our use of House time. This is something we have debated quite a bit in terms of the Standing Orders. We provide for the fact that there are a large number of bills we want to have discussed in this place, and we cannot spend the entire life of a Parliament debating the same bill, because it will make it harder to pass other bills. We have to make difficult decisions about how we use the time in this House. Hopefully, most of the time that happens through agreement among House leaders. If we think about it, we debate substantial, very difficult issues, and we allocate, either by agreement or by the government imposing the allocation. It is quite short compared to the time windows that exist for many of these energy projects.

We spent two or three days discussing the government's euthanasia legislation at second reading. Recently we had the imposition of time allocation on the government's marijuana legislation to send it through to committee. After very little debate, we had the imposition of time allocation on a very expansive transportation regulation bill. These are cases where we had debate in the House of Commons limited to a number of days, even a number of hours.

Conservatives used time allocation occasionally when we were in government. The Liberals use time allocation. The NDP has voted on a number of occasions for time allocation. If members think energy projects should have no time limits, I would ask them to reconcile that contention with what seems to be the accepted view of all major parties in this House that there needs to be some limitation on debate that happens in this place. If members cannot go on to debate questions, broader legislative questions, infinitely, then how does it make sense that we can have an infinite assessment process for energy projects?

Let us be clear, there are individuals, interests, and groups, some of whom may not have a direct connection with the specific projects in place, that have a desire to filibuster energy projects. Any time there is a proposed project, they want to be able to insert themselves in the process and drag that process out as long as possible to prevent that project from moving forward.

In the House of Commons, there are only 338 of us, and in this chamber, we are subject to, generally speaking, certain time limits. There are other mechanisms of limiting debate. However, when we look at project assessments that happen outside this place, there are many different groups or individuals who could come forward and make presentations. There is always the worry that for these projects the assessment could be dragged out so long that effectively it would be a filibuster. Effectively, there would be no opportunity to make an adjudication on the basis of the information and the evidence, because the discussion would just keep going on and on.

I am of the view that there are some projects that should go ahead. If people think that there are projects that should go ahead, then we have to accept that there has to be some mechanism for setting time limits, for having an identification of a process in advance that allows that determination to be made.

I would take the view that the existing provisions of this legislation prescribe time limits, legislated time limits, clear time limits, so that everyone knows what the process is and everyone can have confidence and certainty in that process. There is predictability from the outset, and people can submit the opinions they want to submit. We make sure through that process that everyone has an opportunity to get their opinions on the record but also that a decision will be made at the end of that process. I think having that clarity, that certainty, from the outset is a reasonable way to proceed and to ensure that ultimately, the best decision is made.

I am going to switch to discussing some of the other provisions of this legislation. The existing act talks about the fact that there should not be a repetition of the assessment process if an evaluation has already taken place and the project has not substantially changed. Along a similar line, this is about saying that there should be an assessment. There should be a process by which a decision is made, but a decision should then be made. It does not make a lot of sense to say that we have to repeat the whole assessment process if what we are actually looking at is a project renewal and there is no significant change to the project. If there is not a substantial change to the project, then why would there be a need to evaluate it again? That is fairly obvious.

From the perspective of fairness in decision-making, a decision is made, and then we proceed with it once all the evidence is gathered and put together.

It is interesting, listening to the other debate in this House, that there are very few politicians who are prepared to say, “We are just against all energy projects”. However, we start to wonder, when we look at the accumulation of objections and excuses, if there is actually something else going on. What we hear more and more from those in certain quarters politically is an unwillingness to admit to being, generally speaking, anti-development, but they object to pipelines and to the transportation of energy resources. They want to impose new taxes and tighter regulations on it. They want to avoid having fixed benchmarks in place. They are concerned about defined time limits. They want these assessment processes to be able to go on forever.

As much as those who raise all of these objections may say they are pro-development, when we actually add up the pieces we can identify so many different ways in which these advocacy groups or these political interests are effectively putting up barriers to development without admitting that all they are trying to do is put up barriers to development. However, when they are consistently opposing new requirements that do not really make sense outside of an anti-development framework, then we start to wonder why we cannot just have an honest conversation about whether economic and resource development is going to be beneficial for the regions that we are talking about.

It is clear to me that there should not be repetition of assessment when it is not needed, that project assessment should have a reasonable and clearly defined timeline. For those who say that should not be the case, we have to ask the question, what really is the motivation for that argument? Not, perhaps, for everyone, but if they are opposed to pipelines, they want new taxes for energy resources and they want to make the process more complicated, less predictable, and longer, then they cannot really say at the end of it that they are pro-development because it becomes clear that they are not.

Economic development is so important for job creation in the north and in western Canada, but all across the country we should recognize that there are spinoff economic benefits associated with economic development that benefit the entire country. There are jobs in every province and every region that relate directly or indirectly to energy development. Therefore, all members, regardless of what region of the country they come from, should understand that they have a direct stake as part of one whole Canadian family, but also, given the direct tie-in to every region, they have a stake in supporting policies that are responsive to economic development.

One of the other provisions in this legislation that is repealed is powers around delegating authority. I am very proud of the fact that under the previous Conservative government, we took the position that territories deserved to be able to increase their power and control over their own territory, that territorial governments elected by their people, as the level of government that is closest to the people who are electing it, should be able to make more decisions over the direction and future of what happens in those areas.

Just as we have a federation that is well served by strong provincial governments that can be more responsive in many cases to what is happening in terms of local circumstances than the federal government, we have strong municipalities that can, in many cases, be closer and more responsive to the immediate needs of their communities than other orders of government. We recognize that principle in southern Canada and we should apply it in the same sense in the north.

That was our approach, and it was coming out of a broader philosophical commitment to the principle of subsidiarity. The emphasis on subsidiarity has been a part of the Conservative tradition for as long as I can remember. Decisions that can be made closer to the local level can likely harness the creativity and the connectedness to those issues of more people than if decisions are made far away, where they have people who are not actually directly involved in the circumstances on the ground. When they have decisions that are made by a smaller number of people that are applied across the board, even in cases where they may not apply, they are less likely to have positive outcomes.

If we delegate that authority, if we have as much of that authority expressed at the local level, and responsibility as well, and the power to make decisions and to see the consequences of those decisions, and then have local people respond in local or provincial or territorial elections, we get a more responsive decision-making process, we get more responsive outcomes as that process unfolds.

That is the emphasis on subsidiarity, that kind of philosophical framework that we brought to the discussion of this, and it is one that I think the Liberal government is less interested in. It is trying to impose specific policy direction on provinces, even outside of what is supposed to be federal jurisdiction. I think it is very relevant to our discussion that here we see the government proceeding in that way, with respect to the carbon tax. I think this is the first time we have ever seen a federal government say to the provinces, “You must impose a tax in an area of your jurisdiction and if you don't, we will impose a province-specific tax on you and then basically the voters in your province will be completely without recourse if they perhaps want to go in a different direction than the rest of the country is going.”

It is unheard that we have a federal government say, “We're going to have a special tax for Saskatchewan that we're going to collect in Saskatchewan and not elsewhere.” This has very concerning implications from a federalism perspective. I am sure it would be challenged legally. However, underlying all this is a lack of respect for the particular competencies of provincial governments—provincial governments that may have different priorities, which reflect the different priorities expressed by the voters in their areas, provincial governments which may have different visions of how to realize the broader policy direction that may be set out.

It is, of course, important that provinces work together, that they have discussions on how to do things that are in our collective interest. I think that voters in every province and every territory are going to push for those kinds of outcomes, those kinds of approaches. However, when the federal government comes in and tries to dictate to provinces, that is where we get into problems.

Again, we took the position, with respect to the approach that the previous Conservative government took to the territories, in general, that strengthening the powers the territories had to make decisions that reflected what the electorate in those territories were looking for, was a better way of proceeding, rather than having the power in the hands of the federal government.

The provisions that we had in place in YESAA gave the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs the ability to delegate certain powers that were provided to them under the act to the territorial minister. This legislation completely takes that power away, and that, of course, raises some questions.

I will now proceed to my next point, which is the changes that the legislation makes with respect to the ability to issue binding policy direction.

YESAA currently provides the ability for them to set policy direction to the board.

Again, I think the board has the responsibility of making determinations based on the immediate evidence but it makes sense that the broad policy would be set at the ministerial level. There is a distinction between assessment and policy. That, I think, respects the proper democratic function of ministers, which is to exercise authority on behalf of the people, and of the board to make independent evidence-based decisions as well. We think that properly reflects the balance that should exist in that case.

Overall, it is evident, if we look at this legislation, there is a broader objection in many quarters of this House to development projects. That is something that we are very concerned about and one of the reasons, among others, why we oppose this legislation.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 7 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, while we are debating Bill C-17, which is entirely about rights of people in the Yukon and maintaining a system of environmental reviews that had been negotiated with first nations, we want to put right something that was done wrong in the previous House.

However, I do want to take the member up on a number of the comments he made in relation to pipelines and the people who oppose them. I would like my friend to contemplate the position I take, which is that the problem is not the pipelines but rather what is in them, as long as we are determined to see bitumen mixed with diluent. Based on the best science we have in this country and in the U.S., the senior scientific academy, this is a substance that no one knows how to clean up. Bitumen is only mixed with diluent for the purpose of making it flow through pipelines, because it is a solid. It gets a very low price internationally, because it is a solid.

Certainly, I support upgraders and even support getting upgraders and refineries being built to create jobs in Alberta and pipelines to take a product that Canadians can use so that we can shut down the import of foreign oil to the east coast of Canada.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 7:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, a predominantly small community in a rural riding of eastern Ontario with a significant number of jobs that rely on the land, I chose to participate in today's debate as someone who can empathize with the people of Yukon on how bad federal policy impacts rural people. In addition to representing the people of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I am pleased to represent the people of northern Ontario as the Conservative Party critic for economic development for that region.

Like my riding in eastern Ontario and like Yukon, northern Ontario shares many of the challenges faced by residents north of the 60th parallel. Bill C-17, an act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act, would directly undermine the economic well-being of people living in Yukon, but it should set off alarm bells for every Canadian about what kind of Liberals were elected in Ottawa. Canadians were pitched a story about a new warm and fuzzy, centrist Liberal Party. Instead, they got the old Liberal power brokers, trading votes and money for policies infused with the radical left-wing ideology of paternalist progressivism. It is like Frankenstein's monster. It is alive, and it has the brains of Dalton McGuinty bolted onto the body of a Chrétien-Martin money machine.

Bill C-17 is just the latest example of the horror story that is the current government. It is a story that can be told in three chapters: from cynical vote buying, to an arrogant Ottawa-knows-best attitude, and ending in despair and economic destruction. Let us start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, with chapter 1, entitled, “power brokers, or how I learned to stop stressing and fight the Liberal vote-buying machine”.

Bill C-17 comes straight out of the Liberals' campaign platform, so it is important that we look at how it was developed. Unlike our Conservative Party's grassroots approach to policy development, the Liberals outsourced to their pollsters, ad agencies, and special interest groups to cobble together “a chicken in every pot”. The pollsters, ad agencies, and focus groups wrote the headline promises the Liberals would promptly break, like Chrétien's promise to scrap the GST, or the current government's promise on electoral reform, or the promise of tiny deficits, or the promise of using deficits for infrastructure, or the promise of eventually ending deficits.

For the rest of the Liberal platform, they hit control c to copy and paste lists of demands from various special interests who promise to deliver cash and votes. Those big promises test well but quickly get forgotten while the government gets to work delivering for its friends.

For the big promises the Liberals have not broken yet, the only reason is that, like legal weed, they made the promise having no clue of how they would make it happen. Therefore, they have to commission consultations—which is Liberal code-speak for hire their friends at taxpayer expense—to tell them how to do their job.

The promises in the platform they made to their lobbyist friends is the stuff that gets fast-tracked into legislation, which brings us back to Bill C-17. The government is rushing forward with a blunt instrument to enact a copy-and-past election promise. Instead, it should have worked with all the parties to ensure any amendments protected everyone's interests.

Let us take the section of the bill that would repeal time limits on the review process. The government claims the time limits are unnecessary because the review board already exceeds the current time limits in law. However, time limits provide certainty. That certainty is how we balance the interests of the environment and the interests of the economy. The environmental review is not the economic cost; it might even save the company from an expensive future cleanup. What costs the economy is the uncertainty and its invisible cost. We cannot see the jobs not created by the investments not made because of the uncertainty the government seeks to create. If the time limits are too short for a thorough review to protect the environment, we should lengthen the times or add additional resources.

The costs of review are recovered from the companies and they will be happy to pay the costs. They just want some certainty about what those costs will be and how long they have to pay for them. That seems like a pretty reasonable compromise. The environment gets protected and Canadians get economic certainty.

Therefore, why is the government being so unreasonable? Removing the time limits means reviews can be indefinitely delayed to satisfy the government's radical left-wing agenda.

That brings us to chapter two: paternalistic progressivism or how to shut up and do what Ottawa says.

Bill C-17 is symbolic of the government's approach to resource development and environmental protection. That approach is to dictate to the provinces and territories. The bill would remove the ability of federal governments to transfer powers, duties, or functions to the Yukon government. It would be one thing if the Liberal government just thought Ottawa knew best and just never used the power under the current law to transfer any power to the Yukon government. However, to repeal that section, to make it so no future government has the legal authority to transfer powers to the territory, shows Ottawa knows best. It is more than just a little attitude; it is part of a larger agenda.

The government clearly seeks to expand its powers and simply order the provinces and territories to do what it says. Look at how it imposed a carbon tax on the provinces. It does not matter if different regions have different economies; Ottawa has ordered a carbon tax, so a carbon tax it will be. Already Canadians living in rural and remote communities like the Yukon pay higher costs for food and energy. Now the government wants these Canadians to pay more for a regressive agenda.

At the very same time it is increasing the cost of doing business in Canada with carbon taxes, it wants to repeal time limits on environmental review. Its agenda is clear. It wants to phase out natural resource development by strangling the industry with higher costs and longer reviews. This is not about carbon emissions or protecting the environment. Nothing in Bill C-17 actually improves environmental protection. All it does is inject uncertainty into the Yukon economy, which is the point: create enough uncertainty and investors will look elsewhere. Of course, the government hopes those investor dollars will flow into one of its super-duper clusters located in urban centres.

That brings us to the final chapter of the Liberal horror story. If this chapter needs a title, it would be, “How the Liberals plan to spread their anti-development agenda across Canada”. Bill C-17 is like a Liberal test tube. It makes these changes in Yukon like an experiment to see how well they can strangle development. If they are successful in creating economic uncertainty up north, they will replicate it across the country. In fact, one of the government's very arguments for repeal of the time limits on environmental review is the claim they will be reviewed across Canada, so they might as well do away with Yukon's. This is not a hidden agenda; it just an under-reported agenda.

Bill C-17 is just one part of that agenda. Eliminating the exploration tax credit in the recent budget is another part of that agenda. Removing time limits on environment review is another part. A punishing country-wide carbon tax is just part of the same agenda. Higher taxes, fewer credits, more regulation, and longer reviews are all part of the same Liberal agenda to eliminate our natural resources industries. They will scoff and claim how much they support rural and remote Canada, but actions speak louder than the PMO's scripted talking points.

With every action the government takes, it injects uncertainty into the economy. Even worse, with the government's love of picking industrial winners and losers, we will soon see the hollowing out of many industries in rural and remote parts of Canada. This will force even more Canadians to migrate to the cities, leaving rural Canada even further depopulated. Across Canada, we will see more and more ghost towns.

This is truly a Liberal horror story, but it does not have to end this way. For one, those sitting on the government side could speak up in caucus and call on the government to reconsider. Perhaps there is a compromise that can be found on setting time limits rather than unilaterally repealing them. Did they even try to find one? Sadly, I doubt Canadians can rely on a common-sense revolution within the Liberal back bench.

The only chance will likely be in replacing this incompetent government with one that takes campaign promises seriously, one that takes protecting the environment seriously, one that takes growing our economy seriously. Fortunately for Canadians, we have a Conservative Party with a better story to tell.

For example, we created the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency in 2009, a new stand-alone agency that not only benefited the development of the entire Canadian north, but directly benefited local businesses and entrepreneurs by providing them with better access to lines of credit, loan guarantees, and other things to foster growth.

Bill S-6, passed in 2015, amended the YESSA and granted further autonomy to Yukon by giving the federal minister the power to delegate federal powers to the Yukon government, or establishing timelines for environmental assessments so the process could be completed in a timely manner, without forgetting the importance of environmental sustainability.

That is just some of what we did for Yukon, which was part of a larger strategy to responsibly develop Canada's natural resources. We can protect the environment and develop our natural resources. It is not even a question of picking between the two. However, the Liberals have decided they will pick. Bill C-17 shows they pick. They picked more uncertainty. They picked less investment. They picked fewer jobs.

Hopefully, when Canadians next go to the polls, they will pick a different government. Hopefully, they will pick the one like they had before. Prior to the last federal election, with a Conservative government in place, Canada was successfully working to secure a position as the world's superpower in energy production. We were ensuring that Canada's precious natural resources were being developed in a way that respected the economy, by creating jobs and respecting the environment, without pitting one against the other.

Unlike the current government, with its policy of burdening future generations with its high deficit policy and the spectre of huge tax increases to pay for out of control spending today, the Conservatives believe a healthy environment and a job should be our legacy for our children's children to enjoy. It was in that context that we brought forth legislation to benefit northerners in the last Parliament.

Bill C-17, in stark contrast to the Conservative policy of job creation and a balanced budget, is symbolic of the government's approach to resource development and environmental protection. The Liberal Party is committed to a policy of fostering a lack of public trust in any environmental process. It is called “delay, delay, delay until the project collapses”. It demonstrates to Canadians, and to the world, that confusing environmental regulations and a weak economy go hand in hand, which is the Liberal government's policy on the economy and the environment.

With Bill C-17, Yukon's economic development is in jeopardy. It is an attack on natural resource development. The bill would remove provisions that would limit the length of time for environmental review. This action adds a barrier for investment, as companies are now uncertain as to when a decision will be made. There will be an immediate increase in the regulatory burden on proponents. The mining industry will face the largest impact, and it is a major employer in Yukon.

Bill C-17 would further worsen the economic situation in the north by putting thousands of Canadians out of work, while denying the opportunity of future Canadians to find employment in that region.

The proposed legislation removes northern independence. It is a proven fact that government undermines economic opportunity, in this case Yukon, by adding unnecessary red tape to the environmental review process. It threatens jobs in the private sector and investment.

The Liberal government is taking power away from the people of Yukon and not allowing them to make decisions that concern the development of their communities. Part of the policy interference when it comes to natural resource development is to create uncertainty in the review process. Our Conservative government worked hard to strengthen environmental protections and streamline the regulatory process in order to promote northern development while protecting the unique relationship between northerners and the land.

The removal of time limits and option for exempting renewals fits well with the ongoing narrative that Liberals use a false concern for the environment to introduce unnecessary delays and uncertainty into our regulatory processes. This will impact on the economy, similar in the manner that was used by Gerald Butts, the Prime Minister's principal adviser, and how he directed the Toronto Liberal Party to use the pretext of saving the environment to jack electricity prices to unaffordably high rates in order to shut down tens of thousands of jobs in the manufacturing sector in Ontario.

The Liberals' promise to repeal certain sections of previous Conservative government legislation is just another example of how green ideology over there trumps common sense. This change puts Yukon at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of Canada for attracting private investment. Yukon has huge jobs potential that only comes with development. The Liberal government is intent on adding stress to an already troubled industry through the addition of extra red tape, an unclear, unpredictable evaluation system, and the politicization of the final determination of projects.

This legislation hurts workers in Yukon and it hurts the heavily taxed middle class across Canada. Not only do the Prime Minister and his closest Toronto advisers not understand that northern development creates jobs, they prefer to create a patchwork of regulatory regimes across the country with no regard for cross-Canada economic development. There are many other examples of the bad practice of only listening to Toronto-based advisers with under-reported agendas on the environment, agendas that are based on junk science.

This is an intervention where no intervention is necessary. Yukon is already suffering from the federal 2016 budget measure to unfairly tax family campgrounds. It is absolutely ironic when I hear the Liberals claim they will replace lost resource jobs when the legislation we are discussing today goes into effect. They claim that jobs can be replaced by developing tourism. Promote the environment by promoting tourism. It sounds catchy. The reality is the Liberal Party brought in legislation that unfairly targets family-owned campgrounds in its 2016 budget. They reason that some slick city accountants have found a way to create a tax loophole using campgrounds.

The Liberal Party responds by attacking all campgrounds without taking into consideration private, family-run campgrounds. That attack is an insult to every husband and wife team working 18 hours a day in a seasonal business. The Minister of Finance could care less about family campgrounds. He has a vacation property, a holiday villa in the south of France. The Prime Minister uses the taxpayer dime to party in the Caribbean on a friend's private island in the Bahamas, someone who just happens to benefit from receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer handouts from the federal government.

Campgrounds offer an opportunity for families to spend time together, create lifelong memories, and discover Canada's natural landscape. It is an activity dominated by the middle class as their form of rest, relaxation, and entertainment. Camping creates a sense of community that is unique to this form of travel accommodation.

In Yukon, of the 60 campgrounds that operate over 2,000 campsites, there is one federal campground and it has all of 39 sites. Unlike the private campgrounds that are serviced, all the sites at the federal park are unserviced. In addition to providing services like water and sewer hook-up and electrical plug-ins, private campgrounds on average stay open one month longer. Taking away privately owned family campgrounds takes away local tourism in that industry and the jobs that go with it.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 7:40 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke has put herself forward for the first time today as the true voice of Yukoners, and I find that rather shocking. If one speaks for an area that one does not represent, it behooves every member here to do research and find out what the people of that region actually want. The people of that region want this bill to pass as soon as possible.

I recommend that the hon. member give a phone call to the president of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, Mike Burke, who has called for this legislation to pass as quickly as possible. If what the previous government forced through the House, violating the rights of first nations, was so massively popular, then perhaps it would be Ryan Leef sitting over there instead of the hon. member for Yukon. This bill was an affront to first nations' rights.

It is not about promoting development. This is something that all in this House should want to pass as quickly as possible, because the unanimous will of the Yukon legislature is to pass Bill C-17 as quickly as possible.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 7:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my great privilege to rise today to speak to Bill C-17, a bill that would change significant amounts of a bill that was passed in the previous parliament, Bill S-6.

It is with some reluctance that I stand up today. I am quite concerned about the direction the current government is going. In particular, I am convinced that the government is certain that it does not want resource development to happen in this country. However, the Liberals are not willing to come out and directly say that. No, they are going to ensure resource development does not happen in this country in much the same way as they did when they said that they approved pipelines to the coast. They said, “We approved pipelines to the coast”, but they have no interest in those pipelines actually getting built.

I am going to be sharing my time with the member for Lakeland.

I sit on the northern and aboriginal affairs committee. I represent 14 first nations or Métis communities in my riding in northern Alberta. The north is where I come from. I always say to the people from Thunder Bay that if it is not still light at 11:30, they are really not in the north yet. They have to go where there is pretty much 24 hours of sunlight to understand what the north is all about.

However, it does give me some perspective for sure. Yukon is within sight, I like to say. I can nearly spit from my riding and hit Yukon, so it is within sight, so to speak, and I have some understanding of how things operate in the north.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 7:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, for the record I want to clarify the member's very last comment. There will not be any projects left in limbo.

On the day Bill C-17 receives Royal Assent, section 49.1, of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act is repealed. Projects that have been submitted to a decision body, prior to that day, for an exemption from assessment and have received, before that day, a positive decision (or as the quote above states “were greenlit without additional review”) continue to enjoy the benefits of that decision and do not have to be reassessed.

Therefore, the certainty this bill will put in place and that that has brought about the court case, and the uncertainty related to a potential abrogation of the treaty, and the letter of the law, if not the spirit of the law, I think will allay the member's fears in his last comment.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 8 p.m.
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Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking against the proposed amendments for Bill C-17, an act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.

The bill seeks to reverse progress in Yukon's economic and natural resources development. For years, northerners have built and relied on their increasingly thriving economy, unlocking the opportunity and prosperity of their natural resources. From mining, to hunting, to tourism, Canada's northern territories are an important and strategic asset to Canada's future.

The YESAA became law in 2003. The goal of that original bill was to develop a single development assessment process for projects on all federal, territorial, and first nations land in Yukon. Part of the legislation included a mandatory review after five years of becoming law. The review was a joint initiative of the Council of Yukon First Nations and the Governments of Canada and Yukon, and was completed successfully in March 2012. These changes were formally introduced in Bill S-6 in 2014, which intended to make northern regulatory regimes more consistent with those in the south in order to attract investment and expand economic opportunities now and for future generations.

The bill, which was called the Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act, amended both YESAA and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, and was part of a broader suite of reforms intended to give northerners greater control over their resources and to help promote resource development and economic growth.

The changes to Nunavut's regulatory regime have not been controversial. Bill S-6 reflected many of the jointly agreed upon findings for the five-year review of YESAA, but also reflected changes to regulatory regimes in the rest of Canada, as well as input from Yukon's government.

Bill C-17 proposes to repeal many of the changes enabled by Bill S-6. These include removing time limits on the steps in the review process, removing an exemption for projects that have already been approved through the assessment process, removing the ability for the federal minister to provide binding policy direction to the board, and removing the ability to delegate the federal minister's powers, duties, or functions under the act to the territorial government.

At its core, the bill would make natural resources development much more difficult in Yukon for project proponents and investors. It would slow down the review process by increasing the number of projects that need to be reviewed and by removing timelines for approval. It would also damage industry and investment confidence in the regulatory regime. It is a step backward for the self-determination of Yukoners, because it takes away northern control over northern resources and puts it in the hands of federal ministers and of MPs from large, southern urban centres. Northerners know their needs and capabilities best and they should be equipped and empowered to make decisions for themselves.

However, Canadians should not be surprised. The Liberals have shown their cards, sometimes on purpose, sometimes accidentally, that prove they are fundamentally anti-Canadian energy and anti-Canadian resource development. The bill is another part of their plan to dismantle Canada's successful natural resources development.

Bill C-17 brings more uncertainty to the resource development review process that will undermine economic opportunities for all Yukoners. It also introduces new uncertainty for the rest of Canada about whether it is a template for the basis of Liberal policy going forward.

I had the amazing opportunity to visit Yukon last summer. Of course, the landscapes are breathtaking, the resources vast, and the people are friendly. However, what stood out to me was an almost universal and distinct, independent, pioneering, adventurous spirit, and a deep appreciation and abiding love for their land. It is the same can-do streak of Canadian miners.

The most important sector of Yukon's economy is mining. The territory is extremely rich in mineral potential. The main resources mined are gold, which in 2011 accounted for 70% of metal mining, copper, zinc, lead, tungsten, silver, and coal.

Yukon has some of the largest iron ore and zinc deposits in the world. There are over 80 mineral resource deposits there with enormous economic potential. Last year, more than $300 million was spent on exploration and mineral production soared above $400 million, from just $46 million in 2006, according to the Yukon Chamber of Mines.

The mining sector in Yukon is very successful, but it has challenges. Difficult access and rugged terrain of the territory make it difficult to access many of these deposits. That is where the federal government can assist, by investing in infrastructure and making it easier for developers to access resources across the territory, given all of the challenges.

Bill C-17 would not make any of this easier. In fact, it would make mining more difficult for many families who have been in the industry for generations.

Last fall, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources heard from several witnesses during a study on the future of the mining sector in Canada. Mike McDougall is the president of the Klondike Placer Miners' Association. He came to Ottawa representing the 160 family-owned and operated placer mines in Yukon. I would like to share his thoughts on Bill C-17. He said:

YESAA defines much of how the placer industry's operations are assessed for impacts and how these impacts are mitigated. Placer mining is the single-largest client of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board...

Issues such as costly and time-consuming reassessments for unchanged projects, inconsistency and lack of accountability between designated offices, and a lack of clear timelines all leave our industry with uncertainty. The amendments were meant to bring YESAA into line with the other Canadian jurisdictions, provide certainty for investment, and allow the Yukon to be competitive. As the government is now prepared to amend this legislation once again, we would like to see these issues addressed in the amended bill.

The federal government has heard the concerns of the first nations. As the number one client and end-user of the YESAA process, the KPMA expects that government will engage with us prior to finalizing any amendments.

Mr. McDougall's testimony highlights how uncertainty and ongoing regulatory changes and challenges will hinder their ability to fully engage in northern development, which should be a serious concern to the Liberals, since mining is the most important part of Yukon's economy. Putting up more roadblocks and adding more red tape is not the answer. Bill C-17 adds a barrier for investment as companies would be uncertain as to when a decision will be made.

Furthermore, the bill would immediately increase the regulatory burden and major costs for proponents, which would impact many working Yukoners and their families, since mining is a major employer in the territory. The bill would worsen the economic situation in the north by putting thousands out of work.

The Liberals claim consultation as a cornerstone of their platform, and they consistently refer to it as an important part of their legislative process, but in this case stakeholders such as the KPMA, which would be impacted significantly, were not consulted before the changes presented in Bill C-17 were hastily introduced last spring.

The Liberals' Ottawa-centric agenda is not working, and worse yet, they are not listening to those who are and will be worse off because of it. Their promise to simply repeal the controversial sections of Bill S-6 is yet another example of how they made promises during the election campaign without considering the consequences. Now they put Yukon at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of Canada for attracting private investment.

Their regulatory changes are not the only ways they are harming the north, though. The Liberals' carbon tax burdens northerners, their businesses, and their families more than any other region in the entire country. People in northern territories are already required to pay more in fuel and transportation expenses just to sustain the basic necessities of life and to get essentials to their communities. The carbon tax will victimize people who rely on these services.

The Prime Minister said his plan will be good for the economy, good for innovation, and good for jobs, but it is just not true. His carbon tax will cripple industry, hinder the economy, and drive up the cost of living for northerners. It will also mean northerners will pay more for food that is already more than four times more expensive than the costs elsewhere, along with other essential goods and products. Electricity will become unaffordable to communities that do not have any other source but diesel. In the north, the carbon tax is really a tax on living. In a place where home heating and travelling long distances is part of life, northerners cannot afford it, particularly when legislation like Bill C-17 forces further barriers to their most important economic driver, Canada's world-class mining sector.

Whether it is higher taxes, more red tape, or ongoing uncertainty, the Liberals make it clear that developing Canada's natural resources will be more difficult than ever before, everywhere. At a time when technology, research and development, and innovation are at an all-time high, the Liberals are attacking the very people who are ensuring the long-term and sustainable development of natural resources in Canada.

The bill would not help Yukon, a territory rich in natural beauty, natural resources, and irrepressible human capital. The Liberals are limiting opportunities for future generations and are just adding challenges to the north. The Liberals need to do what they have pledged all along. They need to listen.

That is why I oppose these amendments.

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

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, the sub-amendment and the amendment to the second reading motion of Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, respectively standing in the name of the Member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa and the Member for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, be deemed negatived on division.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

April 10th, 2017 / noon
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Toronto—St. Paul's Ontario

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett LiberalMinister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

moved that Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in the House today, acknowledging we are gathered on traditional Algonquin territory, as we begin the second reading debate on Bill C-17, an act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, or YESAA.

I would like to begin by highlighting the tireless efforts of my colleague, the hon. member for Yukon. Without all of his hard work with and on behalf of his constituents, we would not be where we are today on this critical legislation for Yukon.

The government believes that a sustainably developed resource sector is essential to the success of the Canadian economy and, if we get this right, will serve as an important foundation for future economic and job growth. However, unlocking this economic potential must be contingent on environmental sustainability and on impacted indigenous communities being engaged as equal partners. This is not only an indigenous issue, but one about which all Yukoners are extremely concerned.

Our government is absolutely committed to renewing the relationship between the crown and indigenous peoples in Canada on a foundation of recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

This not just a moral obligation, but a legal one, particularly in regions like Yukon, which are subject to comprehensive land claim agreements and self-government agreements.

Yukon is an inspiration to the rest of Canada, with so many self-governing nations and with our needing more and more first nations to get out from under the Indian Act and become self-governing. It is very important that the work we do together in partnership is well-communicated to all Canadians as an example of how things can be when we get it right.

The YESAA, as members may know, was passed in 2003 and stems from the umbrella final agreement between Canada, Yukon first nations, and the Government of Yukon. As required under the umbrella final agreement, a five-year review of the YESAA was launched under the previous government, resulting in 76 recommendations, 72 of which were agreed to by all parties. Unfortunately, despite spending years working with Yukon first nations on a comprehensive review of YESAA, the previous government added four further controversial changes at the end and pushed them through, absent meaningful consultation.

That ill-advised approach led to pointless litigation between a number of self-governing first nations and the federal government with respect to the previous bill and compromised the potential development of resources by undermining legal certainty.

By contrast, after months of discussions, Canada, Yukon governments, and Yukon first nations signed an MOU last April that outlined mutually agreed upon steps toward addressing the first nations concerns with respect to the changes to YESAA made in previous Bill S-6.

Bill C-17 is an example of what can be achieved when government works in partnership with indigenous communities at the very beginning of proposed changes. Yukon first nations were consulted from the very beginning, including on the draft legislative proposal. As a direct result of this bill's collaborative origin, Yukon first nations pursuing related legal action have adjourned their hearing dates while this bill proceeds. This bill would re-establish trust with Yukon first nations and restore legal certainty for responsible resource development, paving the way for increased investment, development and jobs.

The bill introduced in the House of Commons on June 8, 2016, would repeal the four provisions of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act that have caused the most concern.

Legislated time limits on the review process; exempting a project from reassessment when an authorization is renewed or amended unless there has been a significant change to the project; ability for the federal minister to provide binding policy direction to the board; and ability to delegate the federal minister’s powers, duties, or functions under the act to the territorial government.

With respect to the legislated time limits on the review process, the government believes that the more appropriate and consistent approach is to adhere to the timelines in the board's current rules that have historically matched or exceeded the limits under the Bill S-6 amendments.

The government of Canada believes that resource industry project proponents, indigenous communities, and other governments should work hard to reach consensus.

Canada, Yukon, self-governing Yukon first nations, and industry have agreed to continue to work in collaboration through the regulatory process to establish practical timelines.

In terms of reassessments, the need to evaluate projects requesting renewals or amendments is best determined on a case-by-case basis as informed by the clear policy guidelines created by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board. The board is best positioned to work in partnership with industry, first nations, and Yukoners to develop new policies, where required, to address project changes.

Yukon first nations are also strongly opposed to the idea that the minister could give binding policy direction to the board, as they feel this is inconsistent with the umbrella final agreement and jeopardizes the independence of the board. We agree.

Moreover, the current wording of the provision allowing me, as minister, to delegate any or all of my powers, duties, or functions under YESAA to the territorial minister may also be inconsistent with the umbrella final agreement. We do not support the pursuit of a unilateral or bilateral delegating authority, as it is not in accordance with our commitment to building respectful nation-to-nation relationships with first nations based on partnership, collaboration, and trust.

When I was in the Yukon last month and had the opportunity to listen to Yukon first nations and the representatives of the territorial government, I came to understand that this bill truly represents a consensus. I also recently received a joint letter from the Council of Yukon First Nations, Government of Yukon, and the Yukon Chamber of Mines confirming their support for Bill C-17 in its current form.

In that March 13, 2017 joint letter, they state clearly:

The Government of Yukon, self-governing...First Nations, Council of Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Chamber of Mines look forward to seeing Bill C-17 passed, without change, as soon as possible.

It goes on to say:

Your support for the passage of Bill C-17 assures us that the Government of Canada is genuinely committed to reset the relationship between Canada, Yukon and Yukon First Nations.

Once ancestral rights and titles are recognized, once lands and waters are protected, and once genuine partnerships exist between local and indigenous communities, responsible resource development projects will proceed, and they will do so faster and with greater legal certainty.

I urge all members to support this bill.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

April 10th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Mr. Speaker, the previous Conservative government made the north a priority by launching a comprehensive northern strategy focused on sovereignty, the environment, the economy, and governance. Our introduction of Bill S-6 was just one of the major pieces of legislation we put forward in order to empower the territories in all four areas.

Despite devolution of resource management to Yukon in 2003, the federal government remained responsible for environmental regulations in the region under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act. Under the act, 11 of the 14 Yukon first nations have negotiated individual land claims and self-governing arrangements.

After the legislated five-year review, it was clear that we could improve the legislation for the benefit of Yukon. The legislation introduced legislated time limits for assessment that were consistent with other federal environmental assessment legislation in order to not stall economic growth with unnecessary red tape and regulations. It also provided the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development with the authority to provide binding policy direction to the Yukon environmental and socio-economic assessment board, and it equipped the Government of Canada to communicate expectations on matters such as board conduct, the use of new technology, and fulfillment of roles and responsibilities related to aboriginal consultation.

To ensure both quorum and continuity, it allowed for a board member's term to be extended for the purpose of completing a screening or review. It enabled the Government of Canada to develop cost recovery regulations so that the costs incurred for public reviews would be borne by the proponents of development projects and not the taxpayer. It reduced the regulatory burdens by clarifying that a project need not undergo another assessment when a project authorization is to be renewed or amended, unless, in the opinion of the decision body or bodies, there is a significant change to the project.

When the previous premier of Yukon, Darrell Pasloski, spoke in front of the committee about the bill, he mentioned that this was about evening the playing field. Yukon had a different, less competitive regulatory regime, and that was costing Yukoners desperately needed jobs. The lack of development was also stopping Yukon from developing its untapped potential and offering jobs to those who need an opportunity.

The largest provider of jobs in Yukon right now is the territorial government. The second is the resource industry, which provides good-paying jobs to Yukoners from across the territory. Thousands of these employees are indigenous people. The Liberals talk a big game when it comes to supporting Canada's indigenous people, but how does the government expect to provide economic opportunity for these communities to grow when it continually puts up barriers instead of opening up opportunities as it promised it would do?

For example, mining in particular is the key to wealth for many first nation groups, whether it is gold, copper, or some other mineral. Mining does not happen unless a company can negotiate an agreement with first nations that have treaty rights to the land.

Bill C-17 is just another example of the difference between the previous Conservative government, which empowered northerners, and the current Liberal government, which is obsessed with taking power away from the territories and bringing in countless regulations to stifle economic opportunity and growth.

Bill C-17 is a step back in the progress that has been made for resource development in Yukon. It seeks to expand governmental regulations and stifle growth. These unnecessary regulations would impede private sector investment and pose further threats to jobs and economic development in the region.

The initial goal of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act was to establish a single development assessment process for projects on all federal, territorial, and first nations land in Yukon. We did that, and improved upon it. The Liberal government seems intent on undoing all the good work we did. Bill C-17 flies in the face of economic development and diversification by generating more government red tape and extra regulations that deter private investment.

In a time of global economic uncertainty, the Liberal government continues to increase deficits and give money to everyone who has their hand out, rather than eliminating barriers to investment to improve the economy. Bill C-17 puts the people of Yukon at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of Canada for private investment, as industry is dissuaded from resource exploration in the region by an uncertain review process and a seemingly endless amount of bureaucratic reassessment.

This unlimited environmental review process and perpetual reassessment calls into question the Liberals' plan for a larger pan-Canadian environmental process review. Do the Liberals want to remove timelines in the rest of Canada too? Did they even consider regulatory consistency across the country when writing this bill? At a time when the government should be focusing on stabilizing the economy, the Liberals continue to dole out money in their sunny ways delirium, and feverishly build barriers to private investment in Canada, particularly in our northern regions.

Let us look at some of those barriers.

One is the carbon tax. A carbon tax is a tax on everything. The Trudeau government does not seem to understand that the northern economy relies on—

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

April 10th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Mr. Speaker, the territories have already become leaders in climate change adaption because of the front-line impact they have already had to experience. It is irresponsible to now ask them to do more when our northern communities are facing many economic and environmental challenges.

According to the Mining Association of Canada, a typical Canadian mine spends about 30% of its annual budget on energy, and thus the impact of the federal carbon price will hit northern mines the hardest. The sole source of power for these northern mines is fossil fuels, and let us not forget as well the thousands of tonnes of resources that must be flown in just to start operations on these mines.

The election of Donald Trump south of the border means that mining operations in places like Alaska and Montana will not be paying an uncompetitive carbon tax but will instead be thriving on a lower tax agenda. How can we expect to help the economy if we bring in an uncompetitive carbon tax that simply encourages mining companies to take investments and jobs outside of Canada?

I should note that we have some of the strictest environmental regulations in the world. Let us talk about the oil and gas moratorium. Just a number of weeks ago, the Premier of the Northwest Territories, Bob McLeod, told the Arctic Oil & Gas Symposium that the five-year ban on Arctic drilling in the Beaufort Sea has created a no-win situation for his territory's plan to develop a strong resource economy. The same has happened all across the Canadian north.

For years, our northern territories have negotiated in good faith to have the power to make their own decisions when it comes to their natural resources, and the Prime Minister has failed on his promise to be a partner of our northern communities. Instead, he has forced an agreement upon them that will leave hundreds of billions of dollars of oil and gas in the ground, and thousands of potential good-paying jobs off the table.

The mining industry is at the heart of the economic opportunity for many residents in the north. The majority of project requests will be tied up, slowed down, and ultimately ruined by this legislation, which will impact investments in this industry. The suggestion that such a policy will benefit the Yukon reveals just how out of touch the Liberals are with our northern communities.

Bill C-17 is taking away northern independence. The Liberal promise to simply repeal the controversial sections in Bill S-6is another example of how they made promises without any consideration for the consequences. There could have been an opportunity to find a solution that addressed everyone's concerns while supporting economic development in Yukon, but instead Liberals are using the blunt instrument of repeal.

The people of the Yukon have the right to determine their own policies on natural resource development, rather than having a federal government restrict their opportunities for economic development. The Liberal government is shutting out the potential for many jobs in the natural resource sector that could be created from diverse private investment in the Yukon and all of Canada's northern regions.

Bill C-17 introduces uncertainty into the resource development review process, which will undermine economic opportunities for all Yukoners as well as create uncertainties for the rest of Canada about whether this will form the basis of the Liberal approach in the future.

Bill C-17 is detrimental to the independence of our northern communities, as it takes the devolution of regulatory power away from the territorial government, as was introduced by Bill S-6, and returns it to the hands of the federal minister. The Liberal minister from Toronto cannot know the reality on the ground in the same way as the people who live it every day. The power of Yukoners to decide what is best for their economy is being taken away and dictated by Ottawa.

Canada is a country rich in natural resources, and these resources contribute greatly to the country's economy and the economy of the Yukon, increasing opportunities for all Canadians. Such avenues for development should especially be pursued in the current economy climate, but the Liberals would rather create additional levels of bureaucracy and an uncertain future, to the detriment of all Canadians.

Now we have uncertainty in the review process. By introducing a limitless environmental review process and mandating continued project reassessment, the Liberals are sending a clear message that they will not support resource development in Canada's north.

The removal of time limits and the option for exempting renewal, on the other hand, fits well with the ongoing narrative that the Liberals are introducing unnecessary delays and uncertainty into our regulatory process.

Additionally, we can make the point that this change puts Yukon at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of Canada for attracting private investment. Private companies will take their investments elsewhere and the people of Yukon will not be able to experience the benefits of an expanding economy, while the Liberals continue their spending spree and ignore the ballooning deficit. This problem will only be increased as the Liberals create increasing uncertainty throughout the country with regard to a review process, sending a clear message to industry that Canada is not interested in pursuing natural resource development.

This will have an impact on the economy. The economy in the north is suffering enough as it is. We do not need the Liberals chasing away investments. Jobs are getting harder to come by in the north. Instead of encouraging investment in resource development and creating more jobs, the Liberals are developing a larger bureaucracy and eliminating opportunity. The government is so caught up in its own concerns for expanding the environmental bureaucracy that it has forgotten the people of Yukon who are struggling just to make ends meet because of a bad economy. The Liberals are stacking the deck against hard-working Canadians who are trying to provide for their families.

According to Statistics Canada annual estimate of mineral production, the Yukon territory has seen a decline of the dollar amount from mining activities for all but one of the past six years. Since 2012, the amount of money brought into the territories from mining production has decreased by a staggering 25%. By increasing the barriers of entry, by putting not a firm end date on environmental assessments, and through increasing operation costs with their carbon tax grab scheme, it is clear that the Liberals do not care about the economic future of Yukon.

If the decline in the actual value of minerals does not raise alarms about the negative impacts of these policies, a more staggering fact is the extreme decline in new investments. Since the Liberals took power just two years ago, Stats Canada reported that the actual investment in mining in Yukon had decreased by over 42%, or an equivalent of $80 million.

Bill C-17 is also an example of the Liberals thinking they know best for the territories. The people of Yukon should be the ones to decide whether extra environmental regulations are necessary as it is their economy that is being affected.

In Yukon one of the biggest problems is the fact that so many residents rely on the government to provide employment instead of a strong private sector. The fact that the Liberals are putting up so many barriers for private sector job creation with a bill like Bill C-17 seems like a personal attack on those trying to find jobs in Yukon. The bill, along with the carbon tax scheme the Liberals are forcing on to the provinces and territories, looks as if the government has a vendetta against any economic growth in the north.

I went to Yukon to meet with stakeholders about the bill. They were not impressed. One of the reasons they were not impressed is because the Yukon mining industry was struggling to survive. Although mining has always represented a huge share of the Yukon's economy, in recent years there has been a steep decline in the amount of open mines. This has taken millions out of the economy and thousands of jobs.

As of today, there is only one mine open and producing in Yukon, the Minto copper mine. I visited this mine with my colleague, the MP for Lakeland, to get a tour of the operation and was told that the operation was heavily dependent on the price of copper. With such low prices, the future is always uncertain. Adding more red tape to a struggling operation will not help anyone.

The Conservative Party's position has been to streamline and harmonize regulatory regimes across Canada in order to promote investor confidence, provide consistency and transparency, and increase efficiency in regulatory regimes. The economy of Yukon and all the north needs more development and investment and it needs to be put back in the hands of the people who understand it best. To think otherwise would be ignorant. Canada cannot continue on this uncertain path of unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that only serves to turn away private investment and cut jobs.

The north, being so rich in its natural and human resources, has the potential to be a powerhouse of industry in the country, but the Liberals want to keep resources in the ground and deny economic opportunity to millions of Canadians.

Bill C-17 is a knife in the heart of the northern economy and just one example of how the Liberals are taking away any provincial self-determination, creating uncertainty in regulations, and continually desecrating Canada's economic well-being.

I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be not now read a second time but that the order be discharged, the bill withdrawn and the subject matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.”

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

April 10th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, a number of the things the member said are incorrect and do not support his amendment.

A number of times the member, importantly, said that the people of Yukon should decide. This bill is exactly about that. When the previous government imposed four major conditions without consulting the people of Yukon and without allowing them to negotiate, the economic development people in Yukon and the first nations held two huge gatherings of the public in contravention so they could make their own decisions.

I am glad the member talked about northern strategy because the government is in the process of developing one from the bottom up, an Arctic policy framework, working with leaders in the north.

The member mentioned a few things that were agreed to in the bill, and there were 72 things. Some the things he mentioned as being problems are not problems because they already are agreed to and we are not touching them.

The member made a comment about reassessments. There have been changes to the regulations that now allow that in certain conditions and under appropriate conditions reassessments will not have to be done.

He talked about mining being at the heart of northern economic development and that there were barriers. That is another very important point. This bill would remove the uncertainty. It would take away the barriers.

He talked about Investment being down. That is exactly why we want to change it so investment goes up. Although, he also made a good point that it was partly because of world metal prices.

Finally, the member talked about mining. I do not have time to talk about them all, I have two letters from mining companies and a letter from the Yukon Chamber of Mines, which says:

The Government of Yukon, self-governing Yukon First Nations, Council of Yukon First Nations, and the Yukon Chamber of Mines look forward to see Bill C-17 passed, without change, as soon as possible.

Therefore, regarding the member's references to mining and wanting it to go ahead, Bill C-17 being passed is exactly what the mining industry wants.