United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


Romeo Saganash  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Second reading (Senate), as of May 31, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-262.


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

This enactment requires the Government of Canada to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


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.


May 30, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-262, An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Feb. 7, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-262, An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesPrivate Members' Business

October 15th, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
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Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must admit, it is with some wariness that I rise today to speak to the motion moved by my Liberal colleague from Kelowna—Lake Country.

I would never want to give the impression of downplaying the importance of the subject of Motion No. 177 in any way. However, it seems to me that given the urgency of the needs in this area, it would have made more sense for the government to include a bill in its legislative agenda to address the concerns raised in Motion No. 177. Furthermore, the Liberal government's record over the past three years clearly demonstrates how important private members' bills and motions passed and adopted in the House of Commons, some of them unanimously, are to our Prime Minister and his team.

Let me remind members of a few examples. Perhaps the most recent one that comes to mind is the unanimous vote in the House of Commons to fully protect supply management. We saw how that turned out with the signing of the new agreement. That motion carried very little weight.

I could also mention Bill C-262, a bill proposed by my colleague from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, which is intended to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The legislation was passed by the House with overwhelming support, yet just a few days later, the Liberal government undermined the very spirit of the bill. Unless we get a real Liberal bill intended to fix a problem, I fear we will fall wide of the mark.

If there is one thing that will be obvious to Canadians by the next election, it is this government's paltry legislative track record. Setting aside its legalization of marijuana, its gifts to web giants, and its purchase of a pipeline that is a money pit, this government's accomplishments have been meagre, especially since it is on the wrong side of the fight against greenhouse gases.

Conversely, we could consider ourselves lucky to have a government that allows private members' bills to play a greater role in the political arena, enabling individual members to meet their constituents' expectations more effectively. However, as I just mentioned, there is a major disconnect between the role they are allowed to play and the results being achieved. Furthermore, we know the limitations of a bill or motion compared with a real government bill.

What is there to say about a motion calling for a study? While this is a legitimate issue, it could have been addressed in committee, where it would have received a positive response. This would have allowed us to make the most of our valuable time in the House. However, the government has made up its mind. Canadians will draw their own conclusions when the time comes, but for now, let us go ahead and debate Motion No. 177.

The motion asks that the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities be instructed to undertake a study of flight training schools in Canada and be mandated to do the following three things: to identify the challenges that flight schools are facing in providing trained pilots to industry, to determine whether the infrastructure available to flight schools meets the needs of the schools and the communities where they are located, and to present its final report no later than seven months after the adoption of this motion. I will come back to the second point a little later.

Although I support such a study, I believe there is a technical flaw in this motion. If we ask the committee to present its final report seven moths after the adoption of this motion, and I remind members that this is only the first hour of debate on the motion, then there is no way that the office of the Minister of Transport will be able to draft a bill before the next election, particularly since we have seen how slow the minister has been to act on other issues. I would like to remind members that people on the north shore, particularly in Trois-Rivières, have been waiting for 25 years for the train to come back. VIA Rail's high-frequency train proposal seems to have been languishing on the minister's desk or buried under a pile of studies that all say the same thing for several years now. Nonetheless, the minister is not taking a position.

Let us talk about the bypass that the people of Lac-Mégantic have been anxiously waiting for. There is an election coming up in 2019 and the bypass will not have been built.

What about a topic that was the subject of an interesting documentary on the JE news program on Sunday, namely the passengers' bill of rights, which everyone has been waiting for for ages?

The NDP proposed such a bill under the previous government even though it is clear even before anything has been tabled that it will be inferior to the one in European countries. It would seem that the government shifts the focus of most resolutions to the benefit of corporations rather than consumers.

These are just a few examples that make it hard for me to believe that we will be able to flesh out such an important issue.

Let me come back to the motion. As I was saying, I will support this motion and recommend to the members in my party that they do the same because this is very important.

The industry expects that by 2025, which is not long from now, we will need 7,300 new pilots. Fewer than 1,200 new licenses are issued every year, of which 45% are issued to international students. That does not take into account the fact that for undetermined reasons, which we might want to look into, 30% of these new pilots leave the profession or leave Canada to go work in China or the Middle East.

According to the Air Transport Association of Canada, there could be a shortage of 3,300 pilots in Canada by 2025.

The problem is even more complex than it would appear to be. Not only is there a shortage of students, but there is also a shortage of flight instructors because they are accepting lucrative offers from major carriers, which have been seriously impacted by the pilot shortage.

An adequate response to the problem can only be given with a more nuanced understanding of the issues plaguing this industry.

If we have questions about the causes of this shortage in a sector with generally good working conditions, we should first come to an understanding of the situation where, for example, there is significant inequality between male and female pilots before we propose measures to be implemented.

If our efforts were to give rise to recommendations for concrete measures that will mitigate or resolve the problem, this would automatically lead to an increase in students. More students means more training flights and perhaps more schools or schools that provide more hours, landings and takeoffs. The title “Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities” does make mention of “communities”.

I said that I would get back to the second point, which is to “determine whether the infrastructure available to flight schools meets the needs of the schools and the communities where they are located”.

Because these flight schools exist near urban communities, there are already questions about the effect of the noise associated with the frequent take-offs and landings and with loud, low-flying aircraft, which significantly diminish the quality of life of those living near these airports. With the agreement of my colleague from Kelowna—Lake Country, and in the spirit of taking a holistic approach, I would like to propose a friendly amendment to include research on potential solutions to this issue in the study. The amendment could be something like:

iii) study the effects of noise pollution on public health

iv) that the government be more transparent in how it handles all the data collected

It goes without saying that I will support this motion and, as a member of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, I look forward to working with all stakeholders to find concrete solutions to this whole issue, including the issue of noise for the people who live near these airports.

Natural ResourcesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

September 24th, 2018 / 7:15 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise this evening to speak to the motion to concur in the second report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, a report on the future of and innovation in Canada's oil and gas sector. I will not comment on the arcane procedures and strategies in this place that see us debating a committee report a full two years after it was tabled in the House, but I am pleased to be able to take it off the shelf, dust it off and see what is in there, especially in light of more recent events.

The New Democrats submitted a supplementary opinion on the report when it was tabled, so I will be referencing that when I discuss some of our concerns. Our first concern was with the scope of the study and the subsequent report. We had hoped that there would have been a good discussion on the opportunities in other parts of the energy sector, a discussion about innovation, job opportunities, investments and particularly the emerging renewable energy industry. Renewable energy offers significant opportunities for the creation of good jobs in every community across Canada and much of what is happening there is the very definition of “innovation”, but, unfortunately, that topic was not included in the study.

During the study, committee members heard a lot about innovation in the oil and gas industry and some of it was truly encouraging. We heard from Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, COSIA. In the model that COSIA put forward, a group of private companies put aside the usual proprietary nature of research and information to create a true alliance in which all members have access to successful innovations that could result in oil extraction methods that are both more economical and better for the environment. That is really exciting to witness. Unfortunately, we heard that many of these innovations would only be implemented in new projects, projects that are waiting for higher oil prices before they will proceed. I truly hope that the COSIA model will be extended to other industry sectors because of the way it amplifies innovation through quick adoption throughout the sector.

I would also like to echo the sentiments of Gil McGowan, the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, in that we have to be more than hewers of wood and drawers of water, that we need to develop value-added industries within the oil and gas and other resource sectors. He testified, “we should prioritize value-added development, because these kinds of investments not only create jobs directly in upgrading, refining, and petrochemicals but also create other jobs.” I would add that these investments create jobs that are not as subject to the volatility of global oil prices and create products that will be needed during our transition to a low-carbon economy.

We not only need to be innovative in how we extract and use resources, we need to be innovative in how we regulate the extraction of those resources. I think everyone here would agree that we now have a complete lack of public confidence in our energy regulation process. Nanos Research has published data showing that only 2% of Canadians think we are doing a good job in that regard.

Professor Monica Gattinger of the University of Ottawa testified before committee about her positive energy program, a research group dedicated to studying ways to depolarize the public debate around the oil and gas sector, particularly with regard to pipelines. The supplementary report states:

We believe it is essential that the lack of public confidence in the current environmental assessment process be addressed by permanent, meaningful changes to the National Energy Board process as soon as possible. New Democrats believe that the proposed interim measures introduced by the government are inadequate to address the results of a decade of Conservative dismantling of our environmental protection regime. We share the concern expressed by witness Professor Monica Gattinger that if the process goes ahead without the existing gaps being meaningfully addressed, the end result will further erode public confidence in the entire assessment regime.

The supplementary report goes on to say:

We are disappointed that the majority report fails to recommend a speedy review of the NEB process as this had been a clear electoral commitment of the new government. We are disappointed that the newly announced review panel process contains no timeline for actual legislative changes leaving the Conservatives inadequate process in place and creating uncertainty for all stakeholders. We recommend that the government move faster to make the necessary permanent changes to the NEB assessment process to restore public confidence and ensure that it is fair, neutral, science based and designed to meaningfully engage communities.

Where are we now? Shortly after this report was tabled in the House, the government granted permission for the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline to proceed, and a few weeks ago, the Federal Court of Appeal quashed those approvals. The court cited two significant failures: the government failed to consider the environmental impact of the project on coastal marine environment, and the consultations with first nations were completely inadequate. The government officials who met with first nations groups were mere note-takers who mistakenly believed that neither they nor cabinet had the authority to change the findings of the National Energy Board in the consultation process.

What did they think consultation was about? If they thought it was about noting the concerns of first nations and telling the first nations they had no power to change anything with regard to the pipeline, that is not consultation. Consultation is listening and then acting on concerns, trying to make accommodations.

Here is what our first supplementary report had to say about first nations consultation:

The Government must also act quickly to honour its obligations to a Nation to Nation relationship with Indigenous peoples including proper consultation and accommodation on all energy projects and the protection of Indigenous rights. During testimony, industry representatives were clear about the importance of fixing the consultation process sooner rather than later. The Government of Canada, as representative of the Crown, is responsible for these duties and while proponents of projects should be a part of this process, we believe these responsibilities should not be devolved to proponents to fulfill, as was too often the case under the former Conservative government. The Government must take a much larger, hands-on role in creating the environment in which meaningful consultation can take place.

The supplementary report goes on to support Bill C-262, which would ensure that federal legislation is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This bill was brought forward by our colleague in the NDP caucus, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou. While we are happy to report that Bill C-262 has passed through the House of Commons, we were disappointed to see that its spirit was not included in Bill C-69, legislation that would implement changes to environmental assessment and energy regulation in Canada.

Here we are two years after this report was tabled. The NDP was criticized back then for its call to redo the Trans Mountain expansion process under a proper system. Critics said it would take too long, maybe another year or two. Here we are two years later back at square one. The decision of the Federal Court of Appeal is a reminder that we have to put in the effort at the start. There are no shortcuts.

I mentioned Nanos Research earlier that noted the pitifully poor state of Canadians' confidence in our energy regulation system, but it did point out there was a way forward. The polling data demonstrated that if the Canadian government could show it was consulting properly with indigenous communities by asking local communities about these decisions and developing a meaningful consultation process, Canadians would have more confidence in the procedure. There is a way forward.

I just want to read out some of the testimony from a witness representing the Indigenous Health Alliance who criticized the National Energy Board in particular for not engaging indigenous peoples early enough in its regulatory approval processes. He recommended the following measures to improve indigenous community engagement, which come right out of the main body of the report we are discussing tonight:

Early engagement of indigenous communities in the NEB process—by involving indigenous communities in “the problems, solutions and implementation strategies of any resource development project at the earliest reasonable opportunity”;

Acknowledging the multidimensional nature of resource development issues—by recognizing that resource development projects involve broader considerations related to education, health, economic development, the environment, etc. He stated that a consultation process that does not acknowledge and address these issues clearly will ultimately fail to address the real problems;

Including community leadership, namely elders, in the decisionmaking process—by recognizing elders as a stakeholder group that should be directly involved in setting the project agenda;

Acknowledging that indigenous peoples are reasonable and pragmatic about resource development—they are likely to support approval processes that respect their community-based needs;

Involving communication and consultation experts—ones that could accurately interpret and convey community concerns to governments and project developers; and

Recognizing indigenous peoples as a “third level of government” in Canada—which is how they are functionally recognized by the court system.

We have significant natural resources in Canada and they have always been central to our country's wealth. However, we must ensure that these shared resources are managed in the best interests of all Canadians, with a focus on protecting the environment, ensuring meaningful consultation with affected communities and indigenous peoples and maximizing economic benefits.

Bills of Exchange ActPrivate Members' Business

September 24th, 2018 / 11 a.m.
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Gary Anandasangaree Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism (Multiculturalism), Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I too share and echo your sentiments vis-à-vis the people of Ottawa-Gatineau, as well as the first responders and all those who were involved in assisting the families who were deeply affected by the events of last Friday.

I am honoured to contribute to this debate. I am pleased to acknowledge that I do so on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.

I thank the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River for introducing this bill. I also thank her for her ongoing work to achieve reconciliation.

The idea behind this bill is to establish a national holiday that will allow Canadians to reflect upon and understand the long and painful history relating to indigenous people. The road to reconciliation between Canada and indigenous peoples requires all Canadians to understand our shared history and acknowledge past wrongs while creating a path forward. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action provide all Canadians with this renewed path forward for Canada's journey of healing and reconciliation.

This bill is inspired by call to action 80, which states:

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

That is why when the calls to action were released in June 2015, the Prime Minister, who was then the leader of the Liberal Party in opposition, immediately affirmed the unwavering support of the Liberal Party of Canada and our parliamentary caucus for all the TRC's recommendations and called on the Government of Canada to take immediate action to implement them. When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report in December 2015, the Prime Minister then committed the Government of Canada to working “...in partnership with Indigenous communities, the provinces, territories, and other vital partners, we will fully implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

This past June, our government supported and passed Bill C-262, an act to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, also known as UNDRIP. In February, our government established a recognition of rights framework, which is a fundamental shift in approach between Canada and indigenous peoples. Today, there are over 60 rights recognition tables around the country that seek to advance the process of this recognition and ultimately self-determination.

Our Prime Minister noted earlier this year that reconciliation calls upon all of us to confront our past and commit to charting a brighter, more inclusive future. We must acknowledge that centuries of colonial practices have denied the inherent rights of indigenous peoples. The recognition and implementation of indigenous rights will chart a new way forward for our government to work with first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to undo decades of mistrust, poverty, broken promises and injustices.

We have listened and learned, and we will work together to take concrete action to build a better future and a new relationship. Over the past three budgets, the government has invested significantly to advance the implementation of the calls to action and to support the crucial work with our indigenous partners to identify and address joint priorities. In fact, progress has already been made on over 80% of the calls to action under federal and/or shared responsibility. However, we know that more must be done and that we need to be held accountable for advancing this crucial work.

The National Council for Reconciliation's interim board of directors presented its final report to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations on June 12. According to the final report, setting up a national council for long-term reconciliation with adequate funding and enabling legislation is important for indigenous peoples, Canadians and the government. The council will have to report periodically to ensure ongoing oversight and accountability on implementing the Truth and Reconciliation's calls to action.

The National Council for Reconciliation's mandate will be to advance reconciliation efforts through the development and implementation of a multi-year national action plan for reconciliation.

The conclusion of the final report makes the following poignant observation:

We believe that hope is the first step in reconciliation. We believe hope is the basic building block upon which reconciliation must lay its foundation. We must plant and nurture seeds of hope in Indigenous communities and in the greater Canadian public. Hope gives us the belief that all action matters, no matter how small and no matter by whom. With trust, Canadians and Indigenous peoples can work together on building a new future, a better future. It all begins with hope.

We also need all Canadians to know what progress is being made.

The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has opened the eyes of many Canadians to the horrific truths of residential schools.

The Indian residential school system was a systematic plan to remove indigenous children from their homes, families and cultures to facilitate the stated policy of “killing the Indian in the child.”

During my tenure on the indigenous affairs committee, we heard from so many survivors of the residential school system. The member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou has shared his experience with all of us and has educated all of us in the House of his time in residential schools. Survivors like him continue to educate all Canadians of our past but equally, inspire us to do better.

All Canadians have a responsibility to educate themselves about this dark chapter of our shared history and work toward repairing the intergenerational damage caused by this appalling policy.

This is why our government is unequivocally committed to the implementation of the TRC calls to action and will be supporting sending this legislation to committee for further study.

"Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem; it is a Canadian one." These are words from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report and words that the member from Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River quoted in her speech when she introduced the bill that we are debating today. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment.

Healing the damage of residential schools will require the sustained action of not only involved governments, but other institutions and all Canadians.

The need to achieve reconciliation is a fundamental truth and is beyond partisan politics. That is why I am so pleased that the recent motion put forward by the member for Timmins—James Bay calling on the Pope to implement call to action 58 and issue an apology on behalf of the Catholic Church to residential school survivors, their families and communities passed with the overwhelming support of the House.

We look forward to working across party lines to ensure that this legislation fulfills call to action 80 and reflects the “collaboration with aboriginal peoples” contained in its text.

Together, we will chart a path forward that advances reconciliation and builds a stronger future for indigenous peoples and Canadians alike.

September 7th, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the members who are here today and the staff who are here to support us. Also, I thank you, Madam Chair, and the clerk for making sure that the response to this request happened so rapidly.

Finally, I would like to thank MP McLeod for her motion.

The request was urgent and it's a very important one. I'm here to speak in support of this motion.

In our last session, my colleague Mr. Saganash had his Bill C-262 pass in the House of Commons. This bill really provides the understanding that moving forward we need to have a framework for all legislation and that the action coming from that legislation must be in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That bill was an important one and one that many Canadians are wondering if this government will actually ever put into practice.

The Federal Court of Appeal's decision has brought to the forefront what indigenous communities and the NDP have been saying: the consultation for the Trans Mountain expansion has not been done properly. Sadly, this was a major factor in the last election. People were voicing their serious concerns that the then Conservative government was not addressing the real environmental impacts; nor were they consulting meaningfully with indigenous communities. Their failed process was again revealed in the Northern Gateway decision.

I am speaking on this motion.

Both the NDP and the Liberals ran on a message of addressing the environmental issues and creating a new process that this project, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, would go through. This was a direct promise from Prime Minister Trudeau. The Federal Court of Appeal decision is now another fact on a long list of broken promises that this government has had.

I hope the people in this room have read the decision, or, at the very least, closely reviewed the clear indications of the poor consultation process with indigenous communities. This report outlines the reality that the consultation process with indigenous communities was simply bureaucrats going out to listen to concerns and relay those concerns back to cabinet. The decision confirms very clearly that good faith is required on both sides in the consultation process. It is not good faith to send note-takers. The decision was very clear that the phase III consultation process was unacceptably flawed.

To quote directly:

To summarize my reasons for this conclusion, Canada was required to do more than receive and understand the concerns of the Indigenous applicants. Canada was required to engage in a considered, meaningful two-way dialogue. Canada's ability to do so was constrained by the manner in which its representatives on the Crown consultation team implemented their mandate. For the most part, Canada's representatives limited their mandate to listening to and recording the concerns of the Indigenous applicants and then transmitting those concerns to the decision-makers. On the whole, the record does not disclose responsive, considered and meaningful dialogue coming back from Canada in response to the concerns expressed by the Indigenous applicants.

Simply put, they were note-takers. There was no attempt to take and address the concerns. In fact, the crown consultation team and the government mistakenly thought that they could not add any more conditions to Kinder Morgan than the NEB had done. In this context, many, including me, ask why we would bother consulting anyway. Where is the commitment to the government's constitutional duty to address indigenous rights? Where is this government's commitment to dedicating itself to what it claims is the government's most important relationship? To be clear, there is a constitutional duty to consult with indigenous communities. This was not clearly recognized and the process was fundamentally flawed due to this. Canada may disagree and want to see it differently but the decision says this very frankly.

While Canada submits that the members of the crown consultation team were not mere note-takers, the preponderance of evidence is to the effect that the members of the crown consultation team acted on that basis alone. For the most part, their role was that of note-takers who were accurately reporting the concerns of the indigenous applicants to the decision-makers.

Too many times I've heard from indigenous leaders in my riding and across the country that they are tired of talking to people who are not decision-makers.

Simply put, this is not consultation, as the decision explains:

The Indigenous applicants were entitled to a dialogue that demonstrated that Canada not only heard but also gave serious consideration to the specific and real concerns the Indigenous applicants put to Canada, gave serious consideration to proposed accommodation measures, and explained how the concerns of the Indigenous applicants impacted Canada's decision to approve the Project.

We have heard repeatedly from indigenous communities that there is no serious consideration of their concerns. That is why we are here today. It's because this government's promise of meaningful consultation has been proven repeatedly to be a broken promise.

Whenever I contemplate consultation, I think of free, prior, and informed consent. Grand Chief Ed John said it best to this committee not too long ago. Speaking to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he said:

I think there's a misconstruction of the concept of free, prior, and informed consent....Consent at the end of the day is a decision that's made after a process, so governments go through a process to come to some decision. First nations' governments are in that same place. First nations' governments will look at information ahead of time. They should be free from any coercion. It should be prior to decisions being made. There should be extensive consideration. It may require an environmental assessment process or some other process that would help inform the decision-making process. Free, prior, and informed consent essentially, at its core, is about governments making decisions. When the Province of British Columbia, the provinces, the national government, the territorial governments, or municipal governments are making decisions, that's what they're doing.

The fact is that this committee has a duty to have a robust study on why the consultation process was so flawed. What are the barriers that seem to hinder both Conservative and Liberal governments to meaningfully consult with indigenous communities? Canadians want certainty. They want respectful relationships to be built. Indigenous communities want to be respectfully treated and for their rights and opportunities to be as important as all Canadians'.

The decision outlines some very specific examples of the lack of this consultation process happening. Coldwater, for one, wanted the pipeline to take an alternate route that would avoid their aquifer. That is a significant concern for their community, and really, it would be for any community in Canada.

I will read directly from the report:

After Coldwater expressed its strong preference for the West Alternative Canada’s representatives responded that: [t]his issue is one which is very detailed, and will need to be recorded carefully and accurately in the Crown consultation Report. The Crown consultation report can highlight that project routing is a central issue for Coldwater.

At a consultation meeting held on October 7, 2016, again in the context of discussions about Coldwater’s aquifer, one of Canada’s representatives: …acknowledged that the aquifer hasn’t been fully explored, but explained that the [Board] process has analysed the Project and that the Crown will not be taking an independent analysis beyond that....The Crown (federally and provincially) will not undertake an independent analysis of potential corridor routes. That said, the Crown will take Coldwater’s concerns back to decision makers. … Coldwater asked what the point of consultation was if all that was coming from the Crown was a summary report to the [Governor in Council].

In the later stages of the meeting during a discussion...Coldwater stated that based on the discussion with the Crown to date it did not seem likely that there would be a re-analysis of the West Alternative or any of the additional analysis Coldwater had asked for. Canada’s representatives responded that: [The Crown’s] position is that the detailed route hearing process and Condition 39 provide avenues to consider alternative routes, however the Crown is not currently considering alternative routes because the [Board] concluded that the applied for pipeline corridor is satisfactory. The Crown will ensure that Coldwater’s concerns about the route are provided to the Cabinet, it will then be up to Cabinet to decide if those concerns warrant reconsideration of the current route.

The Stó:lo Nation reached out to the Minister of Natural Resources about the crown consultation report to share their concern that the Canadian representative left them to believe that the report to the Governor in Council “will be a summary” of what is being heard during its consultations with aboriginal people “with some commentary”.

It states:

The Stó:lo went on to observe that “[a] high level of consultation means more than simply gathering information on aboriginal interests, cross checking those with the Terms and Conditions of the project and reporting those findings to the federal decision-maker.” And that “[a] simple ‘what we heard’ report is inadequate to this task and the Governor-in-Council must be aware of its obligation to either reject or make changes to the project to protect and preserve the aboriginal rights, title and interests of the Stó:lo Collective.”

This statement clearly indicates the reality that a meaningful consultation process was not happening. Not only that, but the minister was clearly made aware of the process and the reality that it was not working. May I remind this committee of how many other cases this decision mentions and refers to. This is the legal system of Canada, which has outlined repeatedly the court decisions of this land on the process of consultation with indigenous communities. Canadians deserve to know why this has not been reviewed by this government and why we are here again.

The Upper Nicola's legal counsel clearly rang the bell on May 3, 2016, in a meeting:

Upper Nicola’s legal counsel responded that “the old consultation paradigm, where the Crown’s officials meets with Aboriginal groups to hear from them their perspectives and then to report this information to decision makers, is no longer valid.”

The Government of Canada cannot say they are surprised to be here. It is very clear from these examples, from the continuous engagement of multiple indigenous communities providing clear feedback, that this consultation process was not a consultation at all.

Another example comes from Mr. George, director of the Tsleil-Waututh treaty, lands, and resources department:

He affirmed that at a meeting held with representatives of Canada on October 21, 2016, to discuss Tsleil-Waututh’s view that the Board’s process was flawed such that the Governor in Council could not rely on its report and recommendations: Canada expressed that it was extremely reluctant to discuss the fundamental flaws that [Tsleil-Waututh] alleged were present in relation to the [Board] process, and even prior to the meeting suggested that we might simply need to “agree to disagree” on all of those issues. In our view Canada had already determined that it was not willing to take any steps to address the issues that [Tsleil-Waututh] identified and submitted constituted deficiencies in the [Board] process....

These are very good examples of why this process needs to be studied in this place. In fact, it could not be clearer, as the decision says:

Meaningful dialogue required someone representing Canada empowered to do more than take notes—someone able to respond meaningfully to the applicants’ concerns at some point in time.

The exchanges with the applicants demonstrate that this was missing from the consultation process. The exchanges show little to facilitate consultation and show how the Phase III consultation fell short of the mark.

Madam Chair, let me confirm that these are just a few of the examples from the substantial decision. It makes it clear that the consultation process was not considered thoughtfully and was rushed.

After the report came out, I was disappointed to hear the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance continue with their lines. The Prime Minister in a radio interview downplayed the idea of appealing the important decision that has been brought before us here today. He said, “The court was very clear: You need to do more on the environment. You need to do more on consultations, if anything is...to happen, so that's what we are going to do.” Soon after, when asked about the appeal again, he said, “We are looking at what an appeal would look like [and] what it would mean.”

Which one is it? Indigenous communities deserve to know. When any Canadian hears or reads these examples of consultation, I believe they will see how empty this government's promises are. Who would not be frustrated in that seat to hear repeatedly that we will take your concerns to decision-makers, but no one will really talk to you about any accommodations or have any meaningful discussion about why it might be important to protect your rights—for example, your water supply?

Now Canadians are going to own the Trans Mountain pipeline. In fact, right after the decision came out, over 99% of the shareholders of Kinder Morgan voted “yes” to sell to Canada. Of course they did. They saw this decision and they are receiving more money than the pipeline is worth. Many Canadians and many indigenous communities are wondering when their vote will happen.

What does the finance minister say? I quote:

As we move ahead with the project and the purchase, our government remains committed to ensuring the project proceeds in a manner that protects the public interest. That means ensuring the highest level over governance — including environmental protection. It means upholding our commitments with Indigenous peoples and it means responsibly protecting Canada’s and Canadians’ investment.

How do indigenous communities have any faith in a consultation process with this government owning and clearly stating that this project has only one outcome? How can Canadians have any faith that the environment and the relationship with indigenous people will be done well after looking at this report? How do they have faith in a government that buys a pipeline and leaves the taxpayer on the hook? The government knows what proper consultation is. There are many examples of successful consultation in this country. It does require that the government do the work. What it means is that the government must have a two-way exchange, a real discussion, not just a place for indigenous communities to let off steam but to be part of a process in a meaningful way.

I am hoping to not have this happen but I am expecting to have to listen to the Liberals speak now and blame the Conservatives. I agree with them. The Conservative process was very flawed. We saw what the results were during their time in government. However, once the Trudeau government was elected, it was this Prime Minister and this government who moved forward with the same flawed process, resulting in the decision I have before me.

Now there is $4.5 billion invested in a project that the Federal Court of Appeal has stopped. In no way does a climate change leader invest this type of money in an old pipeline. In no way does a Prime Minister believe the most important relationship is with the indigenous people of Canada when the consultation process is so completely flawed.

I live on the Salish Sea. It is my home and I am very proud of the beauty of it. It provides for many of the communities I serve: with jobs, recreation, sustenance, and obviously, complete wonder. I serve that region and I'm mystified by the lack of understanding that this government has for the need to protect it. I think it is important to also address the fact that the Conservatives like to throw out the word "veto" when talking about indigenous consultation. This is a non-starter that shuts down discussion about consultation and brings fear of indigenous communities participating fully within Canada. It is not about veto. Like Grand Chief John said in the quote I mentioned above, it is about being an active part of the process and being a part of the decision-making.

I will support the Conservative motion, although I do have my own motion that I'm hoping will help us along this journey because I feel that in this committee what we really need to be focusing on is the process of consultation that's happening in this country. It is time that this committee be strong and recognize that we can do a study that will provide some real direction for the future of this country.

I hope that all the people at this table would agree that it is certainly time for this issue to be moved into a reality that benefits everyone in this country. Indigenous communities have simply waited much too long.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 11:40 p.m.
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Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to follow up on the question posed by my colleague, and it has to do with UNDRIP, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Implicit in that is free, prior, and informed consent. That is an element that we in the Conservative Party have some serious concerns about because of the possibility of it being interpreted as being an absolute veto right.

However, in the last election, the Prime Minister made it very clear that he would incorporate UNDRIP into all legislation in Canada. In fact, earlier this year, there was a vote in the House on Bill C-262, a bill from the NDP, which agreed that UNDRIP would be incorporated into all government legislation.

At the amendment stage of Bill C-69, the NDP and the Green Party brought forward 25 different amendments asking the Liberal government to incorporate UNDRIP in the legislation, as it promised during the election campaign. On 25 different occasions, the Liberal government and the Liberal members of that committee voted no. They opposed the inclusion of UNDRIP.

Why would Liberal members of the committee vote against UNDRIP 25 times, when the Liberal government made such a clear commitment to incorporate it?

Opposition Motion—Leadership on Climate Change and Clean EnergyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 3:50 p.m.
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Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy with the role the people of Winnipeg Centre played in ensuring that Bill C-262 was actually passed in the chamber, because they were great advocates, advocating not only to me but to other members of the chamber.

We are spending $5.7 billion over 12 years on the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, including $2 billion for the low-carbon economy fund, ensuring that Canada's communities are healthy and productive places to live. It includes investments of over $5 billion over five years toward infrastructure projects that protect communities and support Canada's ongoing transition to a clean-growth economy. We are supporting clean technologies and accelerating clean technology company growth by providing over $2 billion—

Opposition Motion—Leadership on Climate Change and Clean EnergyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 3:50 p.m.
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Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend and hon. colleague, the member for Winnipeg Centre, for outlining things we can do and are doing. However, I also want to follow up on the question my friend from Abbotsford just asked that was not answered. He stated clearly that the government is falling well below its target of reducing emissions by 30%. It was a commitment it made. In fact, it still has not told us its plan. It has not presented a plan on how it is going to achieve its target. In fact, it is going the other way. The Liberals made a promise that they were going to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, but instead, they bought a pipeline. It completely contradicts everything he just said.

My friend from Abbotsford outlined where we are going. We are going in the other direction. I appreciate the member's comments, but we still have not heard what the real plan is. My friend voted in support of my colleague, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou's bill, Bill C-262, to protect the rights of indigenous peoples through UNDRIP, and still the government is picking and choosing the nations it wants to apply that to. Instead, it is running roughshod over nations that are against the pipeline.

Could the member explain how the government believes it is okay to run roughshod over the rights of individual nations that have opposed this project and how he can justify the government supporting Bill C-262 as well.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 10:30 p.m.
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Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, we do not agree with the Conservatives around this legislation. We are trying to restore and implement things they cut when they were in government that did not protect our salmon.

The member has raised a valid concern about consultation with indigenous people. The letter I have from the Ha'wiih, the hereditary chiefs of the Nuu-chah-nulth people, is because they have not been adequately consulted around the bill. They have brought forward their concern that they “may” be consulted instead of “shall” be consulted. That is a huge concern. It flies in the face of Bill S-262 that was recently passed, which was put forward by my colleague around applying UNDRIP. I am calling on the government to change the wording of that.

The government is currently fighting the Nuu-chah-nulth people in court. The government has repeatedly fought the nation in court, and the judge has ordered the government to get to the table and negotiate responsibly. It has not done that. It is carrying on the same policies from the Harper government in the past. The Liberal government has failed to sit down and have meaningful dialogue with the nation and negotiate fairly. It was in the recent judgment with the Nuu-chah-nulth, Ahousaht et al v. Canada, that the government had done everything it could to stymie negotiations.

If the government is going to honour and respect indigenous peoples, it should get to the table and negotiate with the Nuu-chah-nulth, who have won repeatedly in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Canada needs to stop fighting indigenous people in court and show respect.

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.
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Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague indicated, last week the Liberals voted for a piece of legislation, Bill C-262, to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In that bill, they made very specific commitments, especially around article 19, under which laws of general application would receive free, prior, and informed consent from first nations.

Does my colleague believe that the Liberals, in turning down those amendments, were living up to the spirit of the vote that took place last week?

I also want to note that there is another member from British Columbia in the chamber tonight.

Motions in amendmentFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 11:20 p.m.
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Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to be one of the British Columbians to whom my friend referred. It seems this is a fully British Columbian night.

I am proud to speak in support of Bill C-68. I want to salute the enormous work and contribution made by our fisheries critic, the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam. This bill goes a long way toward restoring lost protections to the Fisheries Act and introducing some modern safeguards.

We believe that the legislation to restore the HADD prohibition, which is the prohibition against harmful alteration, disruption, and destruction, should have been introduced immediately following the last federal election. Then we could have been working together to modernize the act from there. However, we did not see that from the Liberals. Therefore, the modernization that we could have supported earlier took a bit of time to get in place, and of course we still have to enact it. I believe that Bill C-68 is okay, although it could have been a lot better, for reasons I will explain.

We introduced a series of amendments to further strengthen the Fisheries Act. Although we were successful in seeing a couple of them pass, the ones that were defeated were also important, for reasons I will come to. They would have strengthened the act and had positive impacts on the health and sustainability of the fish populations and their habitats for generations to come.

Bill C-68 restores much of what was lost under the changes made by the previous Conservative government in 2012, and it introduces a number of positive provisions that we support. I would like to talk about those before I come to some of the deficiencies, in our view.

First, returning the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption, and destruction of fish habitat, and its applicability to all native fish and fisheries, as well as the prohibition on causing death of fish by means other than fishing, were critical. The fact that they were restored is an excellent feature of this bill.

Second, including in the act key provisions to strengthen how it is interpreted is important, such as a purpose statement, along with considerations for decision-making and factors to inform the making of regulations under this bill that reflect key sustainability principles.

Third, the bill introduces provisions that address the rebuilding of depleted fish populations. We talked about that earlier.

Fourth, it would establish a public registry to support the assessment of cumulative effects and to enhance the transparency of decision-making.

Fifth, strengthening provisions with respect to ecologically significant areas would move us from concept to action, at last.

Sixth, there is greater recognition of indigenous rights and knowledge, particularly in light of the historic commitment of the House in Bill C-262 to enshrine the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Finally, the fact that there is going to be a statutorily mandated review every five years is also an important evergreen provision in this bill.

The bill was amended at committee. One of the important amendments was the rebuilding of fish stocks section, because the core function of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is to manage our fish populations for the long term so that we have a sustainable fishery. That is what this is all about. If they are not at a sustainable level, we will not be able to allocate the fish because we will not have the fish to allocate. That is obviously important. For the first time in 150 years, Bill C-68 recognizes the importance of rebuilding overfished stocks by creating a legal duty to develop plans aimed at moving stocks out of a critical zone. I think that this is really important, if, as I suggested earlier, regulations are actually made to do the work that is necessary.

These are welcome and long overdue. I think we have to be sober about the state of our fisheries. Since 1970, over half of the biomass of our fisheries has disappeared. By some estimates, only slightly more than one third of our stocks are still considered healthy in this country. At least 21 of Canada's fish stocks are in the critical zone, and our fishing industry is precariously balanced on the continued abundance of only a few species.

Therefore, these changes are important, and I salute the government for bringing them in. However, I also have to flag some concerns. First, the minister can make exceptions to these requirements under certain conditions. We have to make sure that this discretion to exempt fish stocks does not get abused. Second, the law only applies to what are defined as “major fish stocks”, a phrase that will only be defined in future regulations. This creates a situation in which the government could circumvent the intent of the legislation by dragging its heels indefinitely on adding fish stocks to the regulations, thereby not requiring sustainable management measures or a rebuilding plan. These concerns were raised by my colleague at the fisheries committee, and I want to put them on the record again this evening.

The NDP introduced a number of amendments to Bill C-68, 22 of them to be exact. A few of those improvements are still valid. First, the NDP submitted amendments to broaden the information base so that the public registry captures all projects, and to ensure compensation for the residual harm to fish habitat caused by small or low-risk projects. Those amendments, unfortunately, were defeated.

Second, explicit protection for environmental flows and fish passages was an issue, and we proposed amendments to strengthen those provisions for the free passage of fish and for securing the environmental flows needed to protect fish and fish habitat. I am happy to say they were passed at committee and are part of the bill.

Third, I have already alluded to the recognition of indigenous rights and knowledge. The committee heard testimony, for example, from Matt Thomas of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. New Democrats believe that reconciliation should be a part of all legislation. A true nation-to-nation relationship with Canada's indigenous peoples, consistent with our Constitution, should be fully embraced and reflected in the Fisheries Act. The amendments along those lines were defeated.

Fourth, on measures to increase transparency and accountability, the committee heard eloquent testimony from Linda Nowlan from West Coast Environmental Law, who made some great suggestions to increase transparency and accountability. The NDP made amendments to that effect, but they were all defeated.

Fifth, provisions to apply owner-operator and fleet separation policies to all coasts were proposed. Some of the most compelling testimony we heard was from young fishers from the west coast, and yet the section in the act talks about an independent inshore commercial fishery as being in “Atlantic Canada and Quebec”. Canada's New Democrats fully support putting owner-operator and fleet separation policies in the Fisheries Act, but we wonder why we did not do the same thing for our Pacific coast. First nations and independent fishermen on the west coast want the same policy as Atlantic Canada. New Democrats moved an amendment to open that door, but the door was closed and the amendment was defeated.

I want to make one further point before I conclude. We support the bill. We recognize the need to protect fish habitat, but I cannot let the opportunity go by of talking about the impact that the Kinder Morgan, now Government of Canada, tanker project will have, and the possibility of its destroying, with a devastating spill of diluted bitumen, the essential habitat and aquatic ecosystems that our fish depend on.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise here today to speak to Bill C-69, one of the most important attempts to modernize our environmental protection laws in Canada.

In large part, I think it was meant to deal with some of the actions of the Conservative government, which gutted a lot of our environmental protection laws in the previous Parliament through changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Fisheries Act, et cetera. We dealt with fisheries in Bill C-68, but Bill C-69 is an answer to try to fix some of the other acts that were radically changed by the previous government.

I have to say, off the top, how disappointed I am that the government not only brought in this bill as an omnibus bill, a huge bill, well over 300 pages long, but it moved time allocation in the first debate after only two hours. It moved time allocation on the bill yesterday as well. This is a bill that really should get fulsome debate. I am disappointed that not only did the government move time allocation, but it took so long to bring in this bill.

The NDP originally asked the Speaker to rule this an omnibus bill so that we could deal with it separately. The government agreed that we could vote on the navigable waters section separately. We also asked that the bill be split up for committee study. The first section, on the impact assessment, is ideally suited for study by the environment committee. The central part, which deals with the National Energy Board and the Canadian energy regulator, belongs with the natural resources committee. The navigation protection section, obviously, should have gone to the transport committee.

That division of labour would have provided for a thorough and efficient study. Instead, the whole bill was thrust onto the environment committee, where, with impossible deadlines, many important witnesses could not testify. I was contacted early on by a consortium of Canadian scientists who had studied this and wanted to present evidence before the committee. This was not a single scientist; these were a lot of the important environment scientists in Canada. They were denied access to the committee simply because, I imagine, there were too many witnesses trying to testify before the committee in those tight timelines.

At committee, the NDP submitted over 100 amendments, none of which were accepted. Tellingly, the government submitted over 100 amendments of its own. This tells me that the legislation was clearly rushed into the House and should have been written with more care.

The Liberals are hashtagging this bill #BetterRules, but the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the legal experts who arguably know more about this subject than most Canadians and most politicians, has said that this legislation in neither better, nor rules.

I will quote from a briefing note prepared by Richard Lindgren of the Canadian Environmental Law Association:

[T]he IAA is not demonstrably “better” than CEAA 2012. To the contrary, the IAA replicates many of the same significant flaws and weaknesses found within the widely discredited CEAA 2012....

[T]he IAA does not establish a concise rules-based regime that provides clarity, consistency, and accountability during the information-gathering and decision-making process established under the Act. Instead, the key stages of the proposed impact assessment process are subject to considerable (if not excessive) discretion enjoyed by various decision-makers under the IAA.

At the most fundamental level, for example, it currently remains unclear which projects will actually be subject to the IAA.... [It] contains no benchmarks or criteria to provide direction on the type, scale, or potential effects of projects that should be designated under the new law.

I would like to spend a little while speaking more to the second part of the bill, the energy regulator section.

This section disbands the National Energy Board and creates a new but rather similar body called the Canadian energy regulator. The section opens with a preamble and a statement of purpose. Surprisingly, in this day and age of a brave new world of energy, neither makes reference to linkages between energy and climate. In fact, there is no mention at all of climate in this entire section.

Much of the public work of the old NEB was about regulating pipelines. One could easily come to the conclusion that this is a case of closing the barn door after the horses have left, since it seems unlikely that the new regulator will ever have to review an application for a major new oil pipeline.

The Minister of Natural Resources has risen countless times in this place declaring that the government has restored confidence in the energy regulation system, and that is why the Kinder Morgan pipeline can be built. Unfortunately, he is deeply misinformed.

A couple of months ago, I met with Dr. Monica Gattinger of the Positive Energy group at the University of Ottawa, who studies this very issue of public confidence in energy issues, and Nik Nanos, whose polling firm had asked Canadians about that confidence. Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr. Nanos found that public confidence in the Canadian energy regulation system was at an all-time low. If we thought it was low during the Harper government, it has continued to decline, and now only 2% of Canadians have strong confidence in the energy regulation system. That lack of confidence is shared by members of the public on both sides of the issue: it is lowest in both Alberta and British Columbia. It results in situations like the Kinder Morgan impasse. I should mention that the last time I heard the minister speak on this subject, he did admit that confidence was suddenly a problem in this area.

The Liberals promised during the last election to put the Kinder Morgan proposal through a new, stronger review system, but instead sent a three-member ministerial panel on a quick tour along the pipeline route, giving communities, first nations, governments, and the concerned public almost no advance warning to prepare their presentations. No record was made of the proceedings.

Despite the serious shortcomings of this process, the panel came up with six questions that it said the government would have to answer before making its decision about Kinder Morgan. I will mention only the first three.

First, can the construction of the Trans Mountain expansion be reconciled with Canada's climate commitments?

Second, how can pipeline projects be properly assessed in the absence of a comprehensive national energy strategy?

Third, how can the review of this pipeline project be squared with the government's commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

I would suggest that none of these questions was answered, even in part, before the government made its decision to approve the Kinder Morgan expansion, and none of them were answered before the government bought the pipeline, which was actually the old pipeline. This leaves a lot of questions about how the government is to regulate itself in getting that pipeline built.

Amazingly, none of those questions are properly answered in the legislation before us, which comes two years after the Kinder Morgan decision. After the government has accepted Bill C-262, which calls for government legislation to be consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, there is no mention of this in the body of Bill C-69. Only after much pressure did the government agree to put it in the preamble, where it would have no legal effect.

We need to restore the confidence of Canadians in our energy regulatory system and in our environmental impact processes. Without that confidence, it will be increasingly difficult for Canadian companies to develop our natural resources, which are at the heart of our national economy.

The Liberals continue to pretend they are doing good, but they are all talk and no action, or as we say in the west, all hat and no cattle. We need bold action to build a new regulatory system that gives voice to all concerned Canadians.

June 7th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.
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Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you so much for being here.

I'm going to start with you, Chief Bellegarde, if that's all right.

I want to thank you, first of all, for bringing up my colleague's bill, Bill C-262, on UNDRIP. I think it's a fundamental principle that we need to be looking at.

One of the things I find very interesting about what you're telling us today is exactly what we should be moving forward in, which is changing the process in Canada because of the wisdom of the indigenous people who were here in the first place. It's that sort of changing process, and understanding that free, prior, and informed consent is a lot broader than just on energy processes.

One of the things you talked about really clearly here is that we have a framework where the policies are just piled on top of each other and they're not functioning at all. Yet you have applied a lot of wisdom and knowledge in figuring out how to bring these multi-jurisdictional areas together through your hospitals. Could you tell us a bit about what you could share with the federal government around that expertise?

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
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Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have this opportunity to join the debate on Bill C-69. It is an opportunity that unfortunately many colleagues in the House will not be able to have. We are currently debating it under time allocation, so we have a limit of five hours to debate it.

I want to walk the House through a little history lesson.

If we go back to the 2015 election, the Liberals, particularly the Prime Minister, made a lot of promises during that campaign. One of them was a repeated promise that if the Liberals were elected, they would immediately restore a strengthened federal environmental assessment process. They made a commitment that they would not approve any projects without first enacting that strengthened assessment process to ensure decisions were based on science, facts, and evidence, and that they would serve the public interest.

In fact, the Prime Minister made a visit to British Columbia. He came to Vancouver Island to the community of Esquimalt on August 20, 2015. People will know Esquimalt, because that is the home of the main Pacific naval base for Canada. He was asked specifically about the promise in the context of Kinder Morgan. He said, quite clearly, that the Kinder Morgan pipeline review process would have to be redone under stronger and more credible rules.

However, what we have before us today, with Bill C-69, is a gargantuan bill, clocking in at 364 pages. It is too little too late, because we are now debating a bill after the government has approved Kinder Morgan and after it has announced the purchase of the pipeline.

The bill comes to us roughly 28 months since the Liberals were elected. I have heard other members of Parliament express in this place that the bill should have gone to three separate committees. It should have gone to the transport committee, the natural resources committee, and the environment committee so each of those collective bodies, with the experience and knowledge that members attain while working on them, could have studied the constituent parts and called forth the appropriate witnesses.

Instead, one committee was entrusted to this monumental task, this herculean task. I know the efforts of the member for Edmonton Strathcona in listening to the evidence and in trying to put forward amendments to see that the bill lived up to the promises the Liberal government had made. Unfortunately, due to the time constraints and the Liberal members on the committee not really listening to her, most of those amendments were defeated, and here we are at the report stage of the bill.

I also want to go back to the time before Bill C-69 was introduced. The Liberals keep on saying that Kinder Morgan did go through a renewed review process. Well, let us just examine what they in fact set up.

The Liberals had set up what was known as a “ministerial review panel”. In fact, that panel admitted that it lacked the time, the technical expertise, and the resources to fill the gaps in the National Energy Board process. It ended up with little more than questions that remained unanswered. They kept no public records of hearings, admitted that the meetings were hastily organized, and confirmed that they had a serious lack of public confidence in the National Energy Board and its recommendations.

I attended one of those meetings when it came to Victoria. I remember the room unanimously coming out against Kinder Morgan. It was kind of a slapdash piece of work.

Despite all of the setbacks of the ministerial review panel, its members still came out and acknowledged that Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline proposals could not proceed without a serious reassessment of its impacts on climate change commitments, indigenous rights, and marine mammal safety. Therefore, they, in a sense, were acknowledging the huge problems that existed with this project.

The Liberals keep on openly wondering why there is such passionate opposition to this project, specifically in British Columbia where the risks are very much concentrated. It is because people did not have faith in the previous process. Many of them were lured to vote Liberal. They had hoped that the new Liberal government would actually live up to its promises.

Instead what they got was a ministerial review panel, judgment passed by the Liberal government before the facts, and now this bill, Bill C-69, which still has many problematic elements. One of the big ones is that the Minister of Environment will still have an arbitrary right to monitor environmental projects. It leaves them open to political influences instead of scientific evidence.

Governments come and go. We may have an environment minister in one government whom the public can trust and know that the person's heart is in the right place, but if a new government comes in that has completely different leanings and gives that kind of power to ministers, it can sway its decisions according to which way the political winds blow. That is not the way to enact strong, scientific, consensus-based decision-making.

I want to start framing this debate a bit more in the context of Kinder Morgan and the very fact that the government has made promises to get rid of subsidies to the oil and gas sector, that we are now last in the G7, and that the government has tried to strive to a 2025 goal.

The Liberals have paid $4.5 billion for a 65-year-old pipeline, one that exports diluted bitumen, and this is just the cost of the existing infrastructure and not of anything that will come from it. I hear members from all sides talking about a national energy strategy, but this pipeline serves foreign interests. It is not accumulating the best value for our product.

Diluted bitumen is the lowest grade of crude we can export. That is why it fetches the lowest prices. Expanding Kinder Morgan's capacity will not change the price. I see no incentive and I have seen no evidence that customers will be willing to pay more for the same product just because we can ship more volume. The existing pipeline exports 99% of it to California, so I would like to see evidence of all the buyers from Asia lining up at the door. They are currently not buying what Kinder Morgan is exporting today.

The Liberals like to use a favourite phrase that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. There are a few things that are wrong with this. It supposes that the environment and the economy are equal partners. That is not the case. I would argue that there is a relationship, but the economy is very much the junior partner. When we start affecting our environment, when we start polluting the waterways, and we see the effects of climate change, the economic ravages that can have far outweigh any of the benefits we can get.

There are economic opportunities in keeping in line with our environmental goals if we start to make the right investments into renewable energy. We have to see the way the world is going. This is 2018, and there is a trend. I want our country to take advantage of the economic opportunities of the 21st century economy, not invest in something that rightfully belongs in the 20th century.

Along the way, we have to be speaking to current energy workers. We have to ensure they come along with us. Everyone acknowledges that the oil sands will not stop production tomorrow, but we need to have a plan where we talk about the just transition of those workers to bring them with us into the new energy economy, so Canada is best placed for the 21st century.

I also want to talk about the Liberals' vote for Bill C-262 last week and how little those commitments mean this week.

The member for Edmonton Strathcona tried repeatedly, both at committee and now at report stage, to insert language into Bill C-69 that would live up to what Bill C-262 would do. Bill C-262 seeks to bring the laws of Canada into harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. If we look at all the report stage motions, we can see that the member for Edmonton Strathcona has tried to insert language in there that acknowledges the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and acknowledges the Constitution Act, 1982 and all of our commitments. I have been questioning Liberals repeatedly on this. Will they at least have some consistency and vote in support of those amendments, following their support for Bill C-262?

This bill is too little too late. There are gaps in it that we could drive a bus through. While we appreciate some elements of the bill, we have to look at the whole thing.

When it is this large, there are just far too many negatives. They outweigh the positives. That is why the NDP is going to withhold its support for the bill. We were hoping for a lot more, and frankly, so were the Canadian people.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 11:20 p.m.
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Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-69. I want to take a moment to talk specifically about some of the deficiencies of the bill. Then I would like to talk a bit more about a general pattern of behaviour that the bill fits into, which is problematic in and of itself.

With respect to the bill, Canadians were upset with the previous government and its approach to environmental assessment, if we can call it that. The previous government really gutted the existing environmental assessment process. The key feature of that gutting in my opinion and the opinion of many Canadians across the country was that the Harper government essentially made the final approval of large natural resource projects a political decision at the cabinet table. It became a decision that was not inherently tied to evidence, to science, to predictable impacts with respect to the effect of these projects on the climate. It was not tied to the rights of indigenous peoples to have a say over what happens on their own land. It was simply a political decision to be taken by cabinet. Therefore, one would think that a party that ran against the Harper Conservatives, in part because the latter had gutted environmental assessments and the Liberals committed to Canadians in the election that they would fix that, would have to address the issue of that approval becoming essentially just a prerogative of the government to make according to its own reasons.

The problem with Bill C-69 is that after waiting well over two years for the government to present its fix to the Harper approach to approving these projects, the bill does not in fact do that. It maintains the absolute prerogative of the government to plow ahead, irrespective of the facts, the science on a particular project, or the views of many first nations that may be affected by a particular project. To me, that is a clear and obvious deficiency in the legislation. It does not meet the commitment the Liberals made in the last election to Canadians who are really concerned about this issue. One of the clearest and most obvious things those Canadians wanted was to try to depoliticize the approval process for many of these projects and to have decisions based on science and evidence. It was not to allow the government a choice as to whether or not to go along with the science and the evidence, but to bake it into the process so that the government would not have a choice other than make decisions based on that evidence, or to have an independent body make that decision based on that evidence and science. That is a clear deficiency with the bill, and one that is very disappointing.

With regard to the rights of indigenous people being respected in the approval of these kinds of projects, my colleague, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, presented a number of amendments that would not have put that commitment in the preamble alone, which is what the government ultimately decided to do. The government's decision to put that commitment in the preamble gives us a measure of how strong its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples really is, because the preamble is non-binding. That, of course, is the kind of commitment that Liberals seem to prefer, the non-binding ones. That was evidenced in their rejection of a number of amendments that would have given UNDRIP real force and effect in the environmental review process. Putting that commitment in the preamble does not give UNDRIP real effect. They are nice words, but they do not get the job done when we have a government that is not interested in respecting the rights of indigenous people. What indigenous people needed was something with the force of law that they could take to court when the government trampled on their rights. The Liberals opted not to do that, and it really does not do it a service to say that it was a missed opportunity.

It is wrong for them not to have done that. It is wrong in principle, but it is also wrong in light of the commitment they just made in voting in support of Bill C-262 last week, which is essentially all about trying to implement UNDRIP within Canadian law. It is wrong, according to the claims of the Prime Minister, who often says that the nation-to-nation relationship is one of the most important relationships.

In light of all those things, it was clearly wrong for the government to do that.

It is part of a theme on a number of files within the government, where the attitude is that we should just trust the government. The government admits there is a lot of discretion, but it says discretion allows it to do the right thing, and it wants to do the right thing. It does not think it has to put the right thing in law or require itself to do the right thing, because it really wants to do it, so we should just take its word for it. That is what is happening with Bill C-69. That is what it means to maintain ministerial prerogative to decide on a project regardless of the evidence.

We heard the minister say something to that effect in the debate on time allocation earlier, when she said that the government cares about science and evidence and therefore it does not need to put a requirement in the law to make decisions based on science and evidence. She said that if we wait and look at the decisions the government makes, we will see, in hindsight, that they were based on science and evidence.

I do not think that this is what Canadians were asking for when they elected a government that said it was going to create a new process based on science and evidence. It is a bad way of making law. It means that a future government that comes in will not be required to do that, just as the current government is not.

Frankly, I do not think the Liberals are really committed, in many cases, to evidence-based decision-making. They would not have bought a 65-year-old leaky pipeline for far more than it is worth if they were actually serious about making information-based decisions. We could go down that road, but even if we do not, it is very clear that if one's commitment is to build a good process, this process should not rely on the goodwill of the government of the day. It should be a process that requires the government of the day to do the right thing, notwithstanding who is in power. This bill obviously fails that test.

We saw something similar with Bill C-49 with respect to voice and video recording devices in locomotives. The government said that we need not worry because it has no interest in invading the privacy rights of workers, and that it would look after it, but without putting it into law; it would just put it in regulations. The government asked us, when voting on the legislation, to trust that it would do the right thing later in regulation.

Never mind the fact that even if the current government does the right thing, and we have not seen that yet, it is still up to some future government to simply change the regulations by order in council without coming to Parliament, because it is not in the law. I do not think the government has done any great favour to workers in that industry by setting up a law that could be so easily abused.

We have seen a similar thing from the government when it comes to approving funding for all its new budget initiatives for 2018-19. It is asking for approval of over $7 billion up front. Department officials and ministers have been very clear in committee that they do not actually have a plan for the money yet. They do not know what they are going to do with that money yet. They have not designed the program, and it has not been to the Treasury Board. They do not know how many people they are going to hire. They do not know whether they will build a building, rent an office, or use existing space. They do not know if they will be travelling across the country. The government does not know what it is going to be spending the money on, but its answer is clear: We should just trust it that things are going to work out and that everything will be okay.

Canadians are looking to the government for leadership on a number of issues, whether it be fiscal responsibility, or being open and accountable, or the very important issues that Bill C-69 is at least nominally meant to address. I have given some indication that I am not convinced it actually addresses those issues.

Regardless of the issue, when Canadians are looking for leadership, they are looking for legislation that holds the government to account. If the government of the day is sincere in giving its word, it should not mind being held to a higher standard, allowing Canadians to test that in court if they have to. Hopefully it will not come to that and the government will keep its word, which remains to be seen.

Canadians deserve to have the tools to hold the government to its word. They also deserve to have future governments bound by those things. At the very least, if a future government wants to change that, it should have to come to Parliament to make the case to Canada's elected representatives, instead of being able to do it fly-by-night through regulation. That is the problem with Bill C-69.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 9:55 p.m.
See context


John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague his comments about Bill C-262 and how that will be reflected in Bill C-69.

As I stated in my comments today, we are dedicated to the idea of reconciliation, and not just the idea but actions of reconciliation. Through the amendments that were made, we have been able to reflect a commitment in the preamble to the legislation that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a key principle that needs to guide the legislation and how it is implemented.

Many pieces of the legislation deal with how indigenous knowledge will be used, how we will consult in a meaningful way with indigenous peoples. This really moves the principles and ideas of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples forward in a meaningful manner. I am quite happy that this is reflected here.