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

Sponsor

Romeo Saganash  NDP

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

Status

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.

Summary

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.

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

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

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 11:40 p.m.
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Conservative

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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Liberal

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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NDP

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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NDP

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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Conservative

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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NDP

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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NDP

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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NDP

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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NDP

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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NDP

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.
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Liberal

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.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

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

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not doubt at all the commitment of my fellow British Columbian across the way to indigenous rights. I have spoken to him privately about this.

What I am worried about, though, is the commitment of his government. I acknowledge that the Liberals did vote in favour of Bill C-262 last week, and I commend them for doing that.

Now we have an opportunity before us to put that vote into action with Bill C-69. The member will know that the member for Edmonton Strathcona has several report stage amendments on the bill. I will specifically reference Motions Nos. 12 and 13, which would insert language into Bill C-69 to recognize indigenous rights, and make specific reference to the Constitution of Canada and to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Will the member be consistent with his vote last week and vote in support of these report stage amendments so we can make the bill come into compliance, as per the instructions of Bill C-262, that the laws of Canada be brought into harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? I would like to see the member's commitment, right here and now, to support these amendments.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 9:40 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak tonight in support of Bill C-69. Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Anishinaabe peoples.

This bill provides the framework for a modern assessment process that would protect the environment, attract investment, and ensure that good projects go ahead in a timely way to create new jobs and economic opportunities.

Today, I am going to focus specifically on how it supports our government's commitment to reconciliation and a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples. Meeting this commitment is challenging, but it is also necessary. I will discuss how Bill C-69 would advance reconciliation and partnership with indigenous peoples. I will also describe what the government has heard from indigenous peoples in recent months, and how their input has helped strengthen this bill.

From the very beginning, our government has been clear that no relationship is more important to Canada than its relationship with its indigenous peoples. We committed to a renewed relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership as the foundation for transformative change, and we have taken important steps to fulfill that commitment.

In 2016, Canada announced its full support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without qualification, with a commitment to its full and effective implementation. This February, the Prime Minister announced that we will work in partnership with indigenous peoples to develop a new recognition and implementation of rights framework to realign the relationship between the Government of Canada and indigenous peoples based on the UN declaration.

Development of the framework builds on steps we have already taken along this path. That includes launching a review of laws and policies to ensure that the crown is meeting its constitutional obligations with respect to aboriginal and treaty rights, guided by 10 principles rooted in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, guided by the UN declaration, and informed by the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.

We have begun to make institutional changes to support the renewed relationship. In particular, we have announced the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the creation of two new departments: Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. This will accelerate work already begun to renew the relationship with indigenous peoples and better enable them to build capacity that supports the implementation of their vision of self-determination.

We have announced our support for Bill C-262, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples act, as a strong first step in the process of implementation. More legislation will be needed in order to fully implement the declaration in Canada. Our government has also made historic investments in indigenous education, health, infrastructure, and communities, including to improve primary and secondary education on reserve, improve health facilities, build housing, and ensure access to clean and safe drinking water.

Finally, recognizing that indigenous peoples have long been stewards of the environment and have knowledge of the land that spans generations, we continue to work closely with them as we take action to protect and enhance Canada's environment and respond to the threat of climate change.

Meaningful participation of indigenous peoples informed the development of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, and our government is working in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council to implement it. Given the indigenous coastal communities' deep ties to Canada's oceans, we are partnering with them to implement our $1.5-billion oceans protection plan, for example in developing training programs to increase the participation of indigenous community members and women in marine safety jobs.

Finally, the bill before us today is built on a foundation of engagement with indigenous peoples, along with industry, stakeholders, and a broad range of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

This bill is an important step, which would advance reconciliation and produce better project decisions by recognizing indigenous rights and working in partnership from the start. It would make it mandatory to consider indigenous knowledge alongside science and other evidence, including when the assessment is led by another jurisdiction.

Under the new impact assessment act, indigenous jurisdictions would also have more opportunities to exercise powers and duties, including taking the lead on impact assessments through substitution. Through measures such as the new early planning and engagement phase, the bill would ensure that indigenous peoples have opportunities to participate from the very beginning and throughout the assessment process.

Finally, it would place consideration of impacts on indigenous peoples and their rights at the centre of the decision-making process by including this as one of the key factors that must be taken into account when making a decision following an impact assessment.

Going forward, we are committed to working with indigenous peoples to define processes aimed at securing consent and collaborating with them as we develop regulations under this legislation.

Since the introduction of Bill C-69, our government has continued to engage with indigenous peoples at every opportunity. The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development also heard testimony from a number of indigenous peoples and organizations during the study of the bill. In response to that testimony, the committee made several key amendments that enhanced the bill's potential to advance reconciliation and a renewed relationship.

Indigenous peoples have said that it is important that the bill fully reflect our government's commitment to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Through amendments, the standing committee has ensured this commitment is at the forefront of the bill and will guide its implementation.

The bill now references the UN declaration in the preamble to both the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act. The purposes clause of the IAA now specifies that the government, the minister, the agency, and federal authorities will need to exercise their powers in a manner that respects the government's commitments with respect to the rights of indigenous peoples. Similarly, the mandate of the Canadian energy regulator would include exercising its powers in performing its duties and functions in the same way.

We have heard about the importance of taking a distinctions-based approach, one of the 10 key principles guiding our review of laws and policies. This is needed to ensure that the unique rights, interests, and circumstances of first nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples are acknowledged, affirmed, and implemented. In response to this feedback, the committee has amended the bill to ensure that membership of key committees under the legislation reflect a distinctions-based approach.

Indigenous peoples have told us that considering indigenous knowledge in impact assessments is critical. At the same time, they have called for better protection of this knowledge. The standing committee's amendments would strengthen both its use and protection of indigenous knowledge.

The bill would now require that assessment reports clearly show how indigenous knowledge has been taken into account. It also provides more safeguards across all acts to ensure appropriate protection for indigenous knowledge, while also recognizing that proponents may, at times, need to have access to it. Consultation would be required before indigenous knowledge could be disclosed, and ministers would then be able to place conditions on the disclosure of this information in light of those consultations.

In line with feedback from indigenous organizations, the committee has also clarified that indigenous knowledge would be considered, that this would not be limited to “traditional” knowledge of indigenous peoples.

Finally, throughout the bill, the committee has taken steps to further emphasize the commitment to meaningful participation in assessment processes for indigenous peoples as well as the public.

I am pleased to see that many of the amendments made by the standing committee directly respond to issues raised by indigenous peoples and will further ensure the bill can support reconciliation.

As I have described, our government is committed to advancing reconciliation and a renewed relationship in all of our actions, including this bill.

I want to recognize the contributions made to Bill C-69 by indigenous peoples and organizations across Canada. It is truly a privilege to work with indigenous peoples and to hear their perspectives and priorities. Our government looks forward to working collaboratively with indigenous peoples to implement the legislation.

I would once again like to recognize the committee for listening and responding to the testimony of indigenous peoples and organizations. This is a challenging process but, ultimately, a rewarding one as we work together to protect the environment, create economic opportunities, and advance reconciliation.

On a personal note, I would like to mention that I am a member of the environment and sustainable development committee. It was a great honour to be part of the considerations and the amendments on this legislation.

Bill C-69—Time Allocation MotionImpact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 7:35 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the minister's recollection, I want to read a summary from 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. Notice that it does not say anything about a preamble.

The minister previously mentioned that the Liberals accepted an amendment to the preamble, which, as every member in the House knows, is non-binding. I again ask the Minister of Environment, given that the Liberals rejected every single amendment by the member for Edmonton Strathcona at committee to make sure that Bill C-69 would be in harmony with UNDRIP, will she revisit her position and at least be consistent with her vote last week and accept the member for Edmonton Strathcona's amendments to Bill C-69? I am talking about the bill before us now. Will she be consistent? Will all of the Liberals be consistent with the way they voted last week?

The first nations of Canada are watching the government.

Bill C-69—Time Allocation MotionImpact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 7:15 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, here we go again with time allocation.

Now that I have the minister in the House, I have a question for her. Last week the minister and her government voted in support 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. The member for Edmonton Strathcona moved roughly 25 amendments at committee to make sure that this bill actually lives up to what the Liberals did last week, and every single amendment was voted down by the Liberals. She now has several motions at report stage that seek to bring this bill in harmony with the UNDRIP.

Will the minister be consistent with her vote last week and support these amendments to make sure that Bill C-69 lives up to the provisions of what she voted for in voting in favour of Bill C-262, yes or no?