Madam Speaker, I am a little taken aback by what I have just heard from my Conservative colleague, but I will focus on the bill that my Bloc Québécois colleague from Repentigny introduced. In the almost 14 years that I have known her, she has always been a defender of the environment and, of course, of Quebec.
Bill C-392 amends eight acts in order to bring the federal government to observe certain rules concerning land use and development, and environmental protection in particular. I will support the bill. My colleague from Repentigny introduced a very interesting bill that could force the government to take into account the assessments of the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement, known as BAPE in Quebec.
I agree with the amendments, but I have a few questions about their application and their implications. That is why I will vote in favour of the bill so that we can study it in committee and question expert witnesses to determine the potential negative and positive impacts of the bill.
Since I arrived in the House, I have seen too many bills imposed by the federal government without any real environmental assessment. Under Stephen Harper, the Conservatives eliminated the legal safeguards and the federal administration's ability to monitor enforcement of the few environmental rules they left on the books. The environment and the protection of our forests and waterways have become priority issues, however.
Last Sunday, my office organized a town hall on climate change and the need for a solid federal framework and tools at every level to keep our commitments in the fight against global warming. One hundred twenty Canadians came to hear people such as Lorraine Simard of Comité 21, Julia Posca of IRIS and Patrick Bonin of Greenpeace.
Bonin was clear: there can be no energy development without environmental assessment or estimation of upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government needs a short-term plan, a medium-term plan and a long-term plan to reduce GHG emissions. The advantage of this bill is that it recognizes that some provinces have effective assessment tools and allows them to use them, for example, BAPE in Quebec.
Consider the energy east pipeline. I do not disagree with the arguments put forward by my Conservative colleague. Conservatives in Quebec and across Canada would like to see the project resurrected. The Liberal Minister of Natural Resources says his government is open to a project like energy east, and yet, under the Conservatives, BAPE published a mini-study, and TransCanada refused to allow its project to be subject to Quebec's environmental legislation. Public opinion prevailed, and the vast majority of municipalities that could proffer an opinion on energy east opposed it for a number of reasons, in particular because there was no environmental assessment. Either the environmental assessments were inadequate, or there was a lack of information about the job creation potential, economic impact and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project. There was a serious lack of information, and people could see little potential for job creation.
How much GHG will be emitted because of the pipeline? Nobody knows. Will TransCanada pay for the clean-up if there is a spill? Maybe. What we know for sure, though, is that our wetlands, such as those around Sainte-Justine-de-Newton, have to be protected and that a spill in the Ottawa River could contaminate all of metropolitan Montreal's drinking water sources. No big deal, that is only about half of Quebec.
The company never told us how long it would take to contain a spill. What we do know is that it takes an hour and a half to respond to an emergency. That is how long it would take to get to the manual shut-off valve in Sainte-Justine-de-Newton. A lot of people are worried about this. The 23 municipalities in the RCM of Vaudreuil-Soulanges repeatedly asked TransCanada questions about energy east, but they never got any answers.
The region of Vaudreuil-Soulanges has the most pipelines and we need protections. The bill sponsored by my colleague from Repentigny could ensure that a BAPE study be considered if the Conservatives or Liberals decide to do further harm to our planet by approving another pipeline.
The notion of co-operative federalism is important to the NDP. It calls for mutual respect by the different levels of government, promotes co-operation on social and economic policies and guarantees the universality of social programs. To ensure that we have a healthy democracy, it is vital that we respect the jurisdictions of each level of government.
We can all cite examples of the federal government meddling in files in our riding where it has no jurisdiction or disregarding the opinion of the provincial or municipal government. A very telling example in the riding next to mine is a communications tower in Montérégie.
In 2008, Rogers informed Châteauguay that it intended to build its radiocommunication antenna system on municipal land that the company had leased since December 2007. The problem was that the people were dead set against the location. The municipal team proposed another location for the tower. Different problems arose along the way.
In 2016, in a case involving Rogers Communications Inc. and the City of Châteauguay, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the municipality had interfered in an area of federal jurisdiction when it tried to ban the construction of a Rogers telecommunications tower. The municipality had issued a notice of establishment of a reserve to prevent the construction of a radiocommunication antenna system.
The Supreme Court ultimately found that since radiocommunication comes under federal jurisdiction, the City of Châteauguay had interfered in an area of federal jurisdiction. However, the city's campaign sent a clear message about the importance of land use and forced a debate on the issue of procedings specifically, and the city ultimately won in the Quebec Court of Appeal.
How much money could have been saved if we had a real federal-municipal agreement on land use and the environment? The two levels of government probably could have saved millions of dollars in legal fees.
The NDP therefore believes it is important to respect the concept of co-operative federalism, which aims to counter unilateral actions by the federal government and ensure that multilateral decisions and negotiations take place with a long-term perspective. Bill C-392 is a positive step toward that objective.
I see nothing in this bill that would prevent the federal government from taking action. On the contrary, it promotes the need for agreements among all levels of government and strengthens necessary collaboration. We need strong institutions to deal with the coming climate storm. My constituents, and constituents in all ridings, need to be able to have faith in an environmental assessment process. This is not currently the case. A good federal process would help prevent some of the disputes addressed in Bill C-392.
I was shocked to learn that an RCM in my riding could receive what amounted to an insulting letter from the National Energy Board demanding that the RCM stop causing problems and asking questions. I think it is a problem when the federal government buys a pipeline with our money without consulting indigenous peoples and with no concern for giving $4.5 billion to a Texan company without our consent.
The government needs to step up. We all need to work together to combat climate change and support Canadians. In an open letter, my colleague from Longueuil spoke about creating a non-partisan department of war against climate change. We may disagree on the terminology, but we agree that we need to act quickly and decisively to protect our planet. We need to ensure that our planet will be soundly managed by future generations and also by us, since urgent action involves the next 12 years. Bills like these are therefore welcome.