An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

Sponsor

Dominic LeBlanc  Liberal

Status

Awaiting royal assent, as of May 16, 2019

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-55.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Oceans Act to, among other things,

(a) clarify the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to establish a national network of marine protected areas;

(b) empower the Minister to designate marine protected areas by order and prohibit certain activities in those areas;

(c) provide that, within five years after the day on which the order of the Minister designating a marine protected area comes into force, the Minister is to make a recommendation to the Governor in Council to make regulations to replace that order or is to repeal it;

(d) provide that the Governor in Council and Minister cannot use the lack of scientific certainty regarding the risks posed by any activity as a reason to postpone or refrain from exercising their powers or performing their duties and functions under subsection 35(3) or 35.‍1(2);

(e) update and strengthen the powers of enforcement officers;

(f) update the Act’s offence provisions, in particular to increase the amount of fines and to provide that ships may be subject to the offence provisions; and

(g) create new offences for a person or ship that engages in prohibited activities within a marine protected area designated by an order or that contravenes certain orders.

This enactment also makes amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to, among other things,

(a) expand the Governor in Council’s authority to prohibit an interest owner from commencing or continuing a work or activity in a marine protected area that is designated under the Oceans Act;

(b) empower the competent Minister under the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to cancel an interest that is located in a marine protected area that is designated under the Oceans Act or in an area of the sea that may be so designated; and

(c) provide for compensation to the interest owner for the cancellation or surrender of such an interest.

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 13, 2019 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act
May 13, 2019 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act
April 25, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act
April 25, 2018 Failed Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (recommittal to a committee)
April 25, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act
Oct. 17, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, I hope the member will accept that I will not be able to respond to him in his native language, French. I would hate to butcher it in an attempt, so I will respond in English.

The targets that were set are targets. They are not a hardline deadline that one has to meet or one would get a failing grade and get kicked out of class. That is certainly not the case. Those targets could have been met without a bill like Bill C-55. All Bill C-55 does is allow a lazy government to move forward without accountability and transparency to meet a foreign body's influence on what we should do as Canadians. To me, that is terribly wrong. We have the greatest country in the world. As Canadians, we know how to protect it, how to conserve it and how to preserve what needs to be preserved. We should not have to push through a bill that would take away the transparency and accountability of any body in order to meet international targets.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I will speak for our side, as we are fortunate to have a member like my colleague, who gave an excellent summary of some of the deficiencies in the law. It has happened oftentimes, with Bill C-55 and others before it that the government has proposed, that there is a legitimate intent in the bill, but there are deficiencies in the way the government has gone about proposing different parts of it.

I want to ask the member a couple of more specific questions. He mentioned some of the amendments that were proposed on this bill, both by the Senate and at the House of Commons committee. Could he go, one more time, over how many amendments were proposed, what the substance of those amendments was with respect to improving Bill C-55 and what our concerns are on this side of the House?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, the other question I want to ask the member is on the consultation piece. He talked a lot about the communities in the north that he met with, both during some of the consultations on Bill C-55 and the process at committee, and through his outreach efforts to learn more about the impacts the bill would have on various communities, not only in British Columbia, on the west coast, but also in our territories in the north.

I would like him to speak specifically to some of the impacts that the governments in the north would have to work through and the economic impacts the bill would have on those communities. It is often stated by the other side that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. It is such overused verbiage. Perhaps the Liberals should replace it with the good Yiddish proverb “Trying to outsmart everybody is the greatest folly”, which is actually the substance of this bill. The government is refusing to take legitimate amendments from the Senate that would vastly improve the bill. If the member could speak to that, I would love to hear it.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and join my colleagues in the debate on Bill C-55, and more specifically the Senate amendments. Some of them were rejected by the government, which moved its own motion to somewhat amend the bill in response to the questions and criticisms from the Senate. That is the context in which I rise to express my opinion on this important bill.

I believe that protecting marine areas against the many potential threats concerns all Canadians. We must also protect the habitat of fish and marine mammals. I believe that Canadians are just as concerned about this issue as they are about protecting biodiversity and ecosystems on the ground.

All Canadians are proud of their national and provincial parks. They are places of national or local interest that deserve to be adequately protected to ensure their survival. That is the goal of protecting them. We will protect these places, which are beautiful and worth visiting, to preserve them for future generations and to conserve biodiversity. We also want to conserve the fauna and flora for future generations. I would also add that biodiversity must be protected not just in Canada, but around the world.

We also want to ensure that industrial development does not endanger certain plant or animal species. Scientists recently sounded the alarm over the protection of plant and animal species. Over a million species face extinction in the short term unless something is done to protect them. I believe that Canadians will agree that we need to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems around the world for future generations.

Canada needs to take action, but a global, concerted effort is also required. Although Canada is the second-largest country in the world by land area and has thousands of kilometres of coastline, we cannot singlehandedly do everything that needs to be done to protect global biodiversity. Global collaboration is needed for our actions to be effective.

A few years ago, we actually did enter into a collaboration with the international community. We set targets and made shared commitments to ensure the protection of biodiversity and sensitive areas. We pledged to protect 5% of our marine areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020. I do not need to remind anyone that 2020 is next year.

Right now, in 2019, only 1.5% of our marine areas are protected. That means we have missed our 2017 target of 5%, obviously, and we are on track to miss the 2020 target too unless the government wakes up and boosts protection to 10%. That would be surprising, but it would be woefully inadequate anyway, for several reasons that I will explain.

First of all, the protected areas, as defined by the government, will not be truly protected. That is the central problem with Bill C-55. It is a laudable commitment and a step in the right direction, since it would at least do something to protect certain areas, but the protection provided under the bill is grossly insufficient.

When it comes to terrestrial protected areas, such as national parks, these protections are very real and effective. Oil and gas exploration and activities such as hunting and fishing are not permitted in our national parks. The regulations governing these areas are clearly defined, and people know what can and cannot be done. These terrestrial areas are very well protected, and we should be proud of them. No one is allowed to do exploratory drilling for shale gas or oil in national parks, and everyone agrees on that.

The crux of the problem is that the government has decided not to extend those same protections to marine protected areas. On the one hand, we have the Conservatives who do not care one bit. They did not lift a finger to protect marine areas when they were in power. On the other hand, we have the Liberals, who only pretend to protect these areas. They are going to establish boundaries for protected areas in Canada, but if you really look at the details, it becomes clear that these areas will not be protected from oil and gas exploration. We know how dangerous drilling and oil and gas exploration and development can be.

All Canadians will be happy to hear about the 2% increase in marine protected areas, including a large part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, for example. However, they will be surprised to learn that this area will not be protected from oil and gas development.

Everyone knows that this is just window dressing by the Liberal government. It lets them say that they are protecting marine areas when really these are not protected areas since oil and gas exploration and commercial fishing, including with trawlers that drag nets along the bottom of the sea to catch fish, crustaceans and other species that we consume, are allowed. It is ridiculous that these activities are permitted in marine protected areas. In fact, industrial activities are not permitted in terrestrial protected areas.

Marine protected areas should enjoy the same protections as terrestrial ones, but the government refused to make that happen. The government always caves when it comes time to take important decisions. When it is not caving to insurance or pharmaceutical companies, then it is caving to oil and gas companies, which have quite a bit of clout. When it is not caving to banks, it is caving to companies like Loblaws or huge multinationals like SNC-Lavalin, which have privileged access to the Prime Minister's Office. Again, the government was not firm on the issue of development.

The government did not want to protect 10% of Canada's marine areas from these industries. It wanted to take a half-measure and do a little better than the Conservatives. The Liberals would have people believe that they did something. They want to announce that they are protecting marine areas and that they have a better environmental plan to protect biodiversity and ecosystems. In reality, if we cut through all the rhetoric, we see that the government is not really taking any meaningful action, and that is unfortunate.

If memory serves, my colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam tried to remedy that situation at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. He did extraordinary work to try increase protections. He did not want them to be protected only on paper. He did not want the government to simply chart out what areas should be protected and then for everything to stay the same as it was before.

The bill identifies the marine areas in need of protection on a map. However, if we were to go and check on what is happening in those areas after the bill is passed, we would see that the bill changes absolutely nothing and that it is business as usual. It is an opportunity for the government to claim to be doing something to protect the environment and to increase marine conservation targets by a few percentage points, when in reality it is doing nothing at all.

These protections are more urgent than ever, especially in light of the impact climate change is having on biodiversity and ecosystems. When all of this changes and when the ocean's climate changes, the ocean's currents and water temperatures change as well. This all has an effect on marine biodiversity, which must be protected more than ever.

Humankind long thought that the ocean was infinite. That is certainly how it appears when you stand on the edge of the ocean. The beauty of Canada's Atlantic and Pacific coasts are world renowned. Our beaches are as well, even though the water is quite cold in some places. Some beaches are still good for swimming in the summer. When you go to the coast you can really see the expanse of the ocean. It looks infinite; it looks as though the horizon has no end and the resource is infinite. However, we now know that it is indeed finite and that we must take care of it. This resource is far from being infinite. With today's technology, we understand the ocean's resources are limited and must therefore be protected. We must ensure that they can endure and that future generations will be able to enjoy them, as I was saying earlier.

The ocean's resources are a treat for the palate. People across Canada enjoy seafood every day, and in some areas they are eaten in large quantities. We must be responsible and ensure that the species that we enjoy so much will be available for future generations so they may enjoy them in a responsible manner. That is why we must ensure that the laws we pass are stringent, have teeth and provide the resources needed by those who will enforce these new protections. We must ensure that irresponsible fishing practices are not used and that no trawlers will scrape the ocean floor to harvest resources in these specific areas. We need the financial resources, but they have yet to be announced by the government. It still has not announced how it will protect these areas. Not only do we have false protections on paper, but we do not even have the resources needed to monitor them and ensure that these areas are well protected once designated. That is worrisome for many experts.

The experts are far from unanimous. They do not agree on this bill. Some of those experts are very well-known organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund, the WWF, which stated that oil and gas exploitation will still be permitted and that harmful fishing practices will not be legally prohibited. The World Wildlife Fund works with other organizations to make regulations as tough as possible. Even if this bill is adopted, some endangered species will remain endangered.

Another organization, West Coast Environmental Law, is very critical of the government. One of the organization's directors, Ms. Nowlan, believes the proposed amendments make useful short-term improvements to the federal Oceans Act and related oil and gas legislation but could and should go much further. For enforcement to be truly effective, we need even stronger legal authority, such as minimum protection standards that make respect for ecological integrity the top priority.

She added that this is not nearly enough, unfortunately. It is certainly a shame that the government is giving people the impression that it is doing something.

Academics have said that this is not enough. One well-known organization, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, or CPAWS, advocates for increased protection for parks and wilderness areas. The organization is concerned because the areas being protected do not meet the standard set out under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and therefore will not actually count toward the target.

That is what Ms. Jessen from CPAWS said. She raised the issue that I just asked my Conservative colleague about, though he did not seem to have an answer. She does not have a definitive answer either, but I think one will emerge over time. This expert says she is concerned that the protection standards that will be implemented under Bill C-55 may not meet the standard set out under the convention to which Canada is a party. Members may recall that the convention commits us to protecting 10% of our marine areas. Today, only 1.5% of our marine areas are protected, even though our target is to protect 10% by 2020.

It is also possible that the international organization will not even recognize the areas that we will be protecting under this bill. I asked my colleague if he had gotten any more information in committee, but apparently no one knows yet. Organizations and experts are still deeply concerned that even if this bill increases the percentage of protected areas from 1.5% to 8%, 9% or 10% over the coming years, the new protected areas may not even count under the convention. This bill is so toothless that even if the government designates new protected areas, the convention will not recognize them. That is a shame.

It would be a serious mistake for the government to adopt protections that do not meet the standards laid out in the convention. This would be a lost opportunity to catch up with many other countries in this regard. Not only are we not meeting our targets, we are actually falling considerably behind every year in relation to countries like the United States and Australia, which are leaders in this area. Even the United States, which is not necessarily regarded as a huge champion of the environment and biodiversity, has protected 33% of its marine areas against various threats. Australia has protected 30% of its marine areas. They are the leaders. Canada, meanwhile, still ranks near the bottom in that regard, because it refuses to stand up to the interests of big oil and gas and say “no” to exploration and development by oil and gas companies.

That being said, in some places, such as the Beaufort Sea, which my colleague talked about earlier, the government decided to ban these activities. That move was criticized for the lack of consultation, but I think that at some point, we have to stand firm and refuse to allow these activities in such sensitive areas that are so hard to access, especially in winter when it is difficult if not impossible to clean up the mess. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, there are extremely sensitive areas where we would not begin to know how to clean up the mess or restore the area after a disaster. The government has to be firm.

We in the NDP have the courage of our convictions. We are not afraid to stand up to the oil and gas lobbies and their highly dangerous activities to truly protect these areas. We have to protect these areas for future generations, to protect our environment and fight climate change. Unfortunately, the Conservatives are doing nothing and do not want to do anything, and the Liberals are only pretending to do something. At least there is one party in the House willing to do something meaningful to truly protect biodiversity and our ecosystems.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be joining the debate on Bill C-55 to contribute a couple of thoughts.

My colleague from North Okanagan—Shuswap gave an excellent overview of the contents of the bill and the substance of the amendments being proposed by the Senate. It has proposed a couple of measures that would improve accountability.

There is a series of common-sense ideas. They are very technical in nature. When I went through them, they gave me pause. I though about the implications for the minister of the requirement to consult and how to consult? I thought about how the government would deal with applying some of the other measures in the real world.

A lot of what we do in Ottawa is put theory into legal practice and provide the wording for what we want departmental officials to do on the ground. However, there is also an entire portion related to the application of the legislation and regulations. We want to know how it will work in the field. How will the ideas in this chamber, brought forward by the government through legislation and by government members and opposition members through amendments, actually work out in the real world?

It is not enough to have good intent. It is also what happens on the ground. The reality on the ground is extremely important in whether the legislation will achieve those goals. Intent is fine. I think intent is laudable. We talk a lot about that as politicians. However, it is the results on the ground that count the most. Did we achieve the goals we set out? Do we have a metric to measure how the legislation is working?

The member from North Okanagan—Shuswap gave an excellent overview of the work both parties on the opposition side have done in proposing amendments and improvements to the bill at various stages, going back to when the bill was before the House of Commons committee. Between 25 and 30 amendments were proposed at that time to try to improve the legislation.

I have been on different committees, and often I have seen government legislation that has technical flaws in it. Some of the flaws are inadvertent. They are simply copied and pasted from other pieces of legislation. Perhaps they had a good intent at one time, but when we sit down with officials and stakeholder groups, we quickly realize that they would have several unintended consequences. I will get to one of the unintended consequences of the MPA processes.

When sections of bills are being changed, or improved, as the government would say, I have seen members try to amend them at committee. I have done this myself. I have proposed amendments to government legislation that I thought would improve a bill and fix it in a substantive way, perhaps by amending a definition, as I tried to do on the medical assistance in dying bill, to provide a more technical definition.

With respect to Bill C-55, we are talking about Senate amendments that, as I mentioned, would improve the accountability of the minister to both Parliament and Canadians. They are common-sense ideas. Whether the amendments and the ideas therein are properly executed deserves further investigation and deliberation.

Bill C-55 would maximize the minister's powers. I have mentioned several times in this chamber, on other pieces of legislation proposed by the government, how opposed I am to maximizing ministerial discretion, especially on things like MPAs, which have an immense economic impact on the livelihoods of people in smaller communities, people who depend on fisheries for their livelihood.

It is incumbent upon any government and any member of Parliament to ensure that ministers are reined in and do not have free rein to do as they wish. Too much of the legislation that has passed in the House leaves it up to cabinet, through orders in council, to decide what the details will be.

I will draw the attention of the House to the cannabis bill, which decriminalized or legalized the sale and distribution of cannabis in Canada, and to the impaired driving bill. These bills created a litany of regulations that were basically to be written by a minister and then approved by cabinet at some point.

Some of them were very basic concepts, like definitions that should simply be taken out of a dictionary. We have the same situation here, where the minister's discretion and ability to intervene and interfere in a local area's decision-making process is very broad.

That is a deficiency in any government legislation, because often when we then ask those ministers to return to committees and provide a summary, provide some type of semblance of what was done with the powers, in almost every situation that I have experienced so far, I have been disappointed when ministers returned to committee to explain how they used the powers. They either went way overboard in their application or fell far short and actually did not pass a regulation that met the requirements of Parliament, thus being unable to achieve the goals that the legislation set out.

Just yesterday, at the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, where eventually the regulations that Bill C-55 would enable will make their way for gazetting and review and approval, I saw another instance of a government regulation being used by two previous governments, both Liberal and Conservative, whereby the officials in the department had collected information they were not legally allowed to collect.

Then an amendment to a piece of legislation was passed in 2012, and at that point, that collection of information was legalized. The logical question that all parliamentarians asked, including members in the government caucus and members of the Conservative caucus and members of the NDP caucus, was that if this collection of information was legalized in 2012, was it illegal before that? That was what the legal counsel for the committee was telling members of Parliament was in fact the case—that the government officials had improperly collected a whole suite of very sensitive, proprietary, corporate economic information.

My worry with Bill C-55 is again the broad discretion being given to the minister during the consultation process and the set-up of the MPA.

I want to quote Jim McIsaac of the BC Commercial Fishing Caucus, who said:

Right now on the west coast we have 10 or 12 different MPA processes. It's impossible for the fishing industry to engage in all of these in a kind of comprehensive way. We need a place where we can sit down and set some of these overarching objectives. If we don't do that, it's just going to disintegrate into a mess. It won't be durable going on. We need a way to bring all available knowledge into these.

That speaks to some of that consultation overload. Consultation is a great thing. I participate in government consultations when they post them on the website. I will mention one right after this, on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, just as an illustration of where I think the problem with this consultation on the MPAs exists.

Having 10 or 12 MPA consultation processes at the same time overwhelms one particular industry. It is too much in one area for one group, one sector, one group of workers in an economy to be able to answer to when we want in-depth, valuable information to be provided. We do not just want boxes checked.

The government has indicated that it does not agree with the Senate amendments and did not agree with many of the Conservative amendments at the House of Commons committee when the bill found itself there, and in this legislation what the government is trying to do is outsmart everybody. I think that is the greatest folly. It is a Yiddish proverb. It is one that has been used many times. We as parliamentarians should know, and the government should know, that it is impossible to know everything.

That is what consultation is supposed to be about. It is the process of discovering what we do not know; it is not supposed to be about affirming what we think we know. It is about discovering what we do not know.

In this case, my thought is that if we do 10 to 12 different consultations, again as with these MPA processes, it will overwhelm a particular industry. I am much more familiar with energy site consultations on indigenous communities at the Alberta provincial level. In a prior life, I worked for the Alberta finance minister at the time and the minister of sustainable resource development at the time. Our sustainable resources in Alberta do not happen to be fisheries. Unfortunately, fisheries are not a major sector in the Alberta economy, but they are a major sector in the British Columbia economy, and we should be worried by what we hear.

We should be worried when groups are telling us that the proposal in the legislation may overwhelm their ability to provide in-depth valuable information, whether it is traditional knowledge or qualitative or quantitative data that their industry collects just as part of doing business and part of proposing what they think. Again, the consultation angle here is that there could be an overwhelming number of them and that would make it very difficult for them to meet it.

I want to provide another quote for the chamber's consideration from Christina Burridge, the executive director of the BC Seafood Alliance. She states:

Closing large areas to fishing off the west coast does little for biodiversity, little for conservation, little for the men and women up and down the coast who work in our sector and who are middle class or aspire to the middle class, and little for the health of Canadians, who deserve access to local, sustainable seafood.

Again, that is valuable input from another organization that feels these proposed MPAs might have a fine purpose in mind, but the difference being the intent and impact on the ground, the reality of what will be done.

Several members have mentioned during debate on the legislation that they are concerned that the minister will have simply too broad a series of powers to do as he or she wants, such as to declare a certain area, cut out a certain border for the MPA first and then consult after the fact. However, the economic impact is immediate. People in the area who depend on this type of fishery or it is a significant part of what they do on a daily basis will not be able to continue to do so. They will have to consult with the minister as part of an organization or individually.

There is always the possibility that the government will of course listen to a particular stakeholder group and will defer. It will move boundaries. It will change them to meet the demands. However, the impact will have already happened. There will be already investors, perhaps or individuals who will have changed their behaviour, either their purchasing behaviour or the fishing practices they had. In the meantime, people still have to make an income at the end of the day. They still have to make ends meet. They still have to pay their one's taxes, because the government will never let up on that. They still has to attain some type of middle-class lifestyle. People cannot just lay down their tools and wait for the government to finish its consultation process. They cannot wait for the minister to be satisfied that they have met the requirements of the law.

Some of the defects and shortcomings in the bill could be addressed by some of the proposals in a Senate amendment. We can look back, as the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap mentioned, to some of the amendments proposed on the Conservative side at committee about improving the way the consultation would be done to protect the workers out there. Part of the amendments proposed here also touch upon some of the announcements made by the government.

The government made an announcement that it intended to spend about $1.5 billion on ocean protection off the west coast. It was part of its goal to reach some of its international targets and it was part of the process toward attaining and ensuring the construction of the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline, so meeting some of the public concerns that individuals had. I have a couple of issues in how this legislation and those dollar announcements matter.

We heard from the previous auditor general, who passed away tragically from cancer. He filed a report late last year, saying that the government was more interested in big dollar announcements in its news releases. He went in-depth in attacking the government's means of testing how it was achieving its goals. He said that it rated its success according to how much money had been shovelled out the door, not the actual impacts on the ground. He had a more broader critique on how the government had managed its operations.

Bill C-55 operationalizes MPAs in a lot of ways. It is much meatier legislation than people might realize. Many people realize that the consultation processes and the conservation of these broad maritime ecosystems and the termination of economic activity in many of these areas for certain types of fisheries or the potential of certain types of fisheries is a big operational part of government.

Time and time again, in different parts of the government, we have seen their inability to meet their own department plans, which every minister tables in the House. There are many shortcomings on that side, such as loading up departments with more work while cutting back on the total FTE count of employees in the department.

The government seems to rate its success simply by how much money has gone out the door, or sometimes, if the money has not even moved, by the quality of the news release being put out and the dollar figure. If there is “billion” in the number, the government will say that it is a job well done, that the mission was successful and that it has achieved its goals.

I will go back to the TMX pipeline for a moment, because I am a member who represents a Calgary riding and I am an Albertan. The TMX pipeline is a perfect example. The government created an investment environment, or a public policy situation, where a company felt obliged to give public notice to its shareholders after a board meeting that it was thinking of backing out of the pipeline expansion. It was not going to meet its goals. The government had created that environment, and it felt obliged to expropriate the pipeline from Kinder Morgan and purchase it for $4.5 billion.

Here comes the operationalizing component. My worry about Bill C-55 is whether the government will be able to operationalize all of this and whether it is overwhelming communities with too much consultation. The government has not been able to build a single inch of pipe to twin the TMX line to the west coast, despite the fact that it promised legislation, despite the fact that it promised, over 300 days ago, that it would get the pipeline built, and despite the fact that almost two construction seasons have been thrown away.

I hear a member on the government caucus side from Toronto heckling me. I remind him that the previous government approved four pipelines. I remind him that the previous government had a record of actually building pipelines. I also remind him that under his government's watch, the government he defends, over 7,000 kilometres of pipe has been cancelled in this country.

The LNG Canada project on the west coast is a $40-billion project that was approved by the regulator in 2012 and approved by the previous Stephen Harper government. They approved it. It took six years before the company felt that the business environment was good enough. For three years, from 2015 to 2018, the project was on the cusp of being cancelled. The only thing that saved the project was that the government exempted it from the carbon tax. That is the only reason the company went ahead with a $40-billion project. As well, under the government's watch, 78 billion dollars' worth of LNG projects have been cancelled.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

May 10th, 2019 / 2:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill S-203, for which I have received a fair volume of correspondence from constituents in my riding of Calgary Shepard, whom I am pleased to represent. A lot of them were sent to me on behalf of various organizations across Canada that have been promoting Bill S-203 as a solution to cetaceans in captivity.

Before I continue on with the bill, I want to make one mention. The member for St. John's East had the best observation regarding a Senate bill I have ever heard in this chamber when he said it did not take advantage of creative acronym design. It has been four years and I will give him that. How acronyms are created with certain bill is probably one observation I have not made, so I will give him kudos for that one, but not for the content of what he said, especially on the oceans protection plan, which is a $1.5-billion plan, with very little spending so far. The Coast Guard ships that have been built are still in dock in Nanaimo with no crews to service them and make them ready for use in the field. I have not seen any actual spending of the dollars associated with the plan. That is the first part of my reply to what he mentioned.

With respect to the substance of the bill, I feel the need to provide an introduction. I have been writing back to my constituents who have been writing to me on Bill S-203, and I have had some back-and-forth conversations with a few of them on disagreements over some of the technical aspects of the bill.

One thing I want to mention is that the bill broaches a certain area of provincial jurisdiction—animal welfare laws, typically—by going after the Criminal Code. It is a way for Parliament to make a judgment call about a certain practice in Canadian society. In this case, it is the captivity of cetaceans.

I share the same concern that a lot of my constituents have and that a lot of members of Parliament in this chamber have expressed over the necessary protection of whales, dolphins and other aquatic animals, which is that nobody wants to see them suffer. The member for Sherbrooke brought up an example of what happens in the Russian Federation. Of course, there are examples all over the world of abhorrent animal husbandry and captivity practices that most of us would say are brutal and should not be happening. Unfortunately, they do, because people use animals for entertainment purposes and to generate an income.

With respect to some of the historical aspects, as I think another member mentioned, there have been no live captures since 1992, although it is true that beluga whales and bottlenose dolphins have been imported from foreign sources.

It has been reported in various CBC articles and other media that parts of this bill seem to be veering into areas of provincial jurisdiction over animal welfare laws. Ontario has already banned the captivity and breeding in captivity of orcas, which is one of the concerns I had with the bill going the route of amending the Criminal Code. Perhaps it is more of a process issue that I have.

Going back to the previous debate we had earlier today on Bill C-55, with respect to the intent of a bill like this one, Bill S-203, I do not think many members disagree with the principle of the matter; rather, it is the execution we have concerns with.

There are a few scientists I am going to quote, some of whom provided testimony at committees and some who of whom provided feedback through correspondence that the member for Cariboo—Prince George and I have received.

I want to mention that this is a very unusual bill, because it has received review at over 17 committee meetings in an eight-month period. It was tabled way back in 2015 and has been on the public record for quite a long time. It has been debated for quite a long time. It had what I would say was a difficult process through that other place, the Senate chamber, with several senators expressing deep concern over the technical aspects of the bill in its interaction between provincial laws and federal jurisdiction over the Criminal Code. That area is where I am going to express some of my concerns as well.

The provinces are responsible for passing animal welfare laws. In this chamber we have pronounced ourselves on matters affecting what I would also think are areas of at least partial provincial jurisdiction, as in the bestiality bill the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice mentioned earlier. I do not think there is anything wrong in going the route of the Criminal Code, but in this case in particular the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap mentioned that it could potentially criminalize individuals that the law did not intend to criminalize, such as the booking of travel vacations or some service provision in tourism.

I do not think that was the intent of the law. However, I have seen before, as I mentioned in the House on Bill C-55, that with regulations passed by officials, written by officials and confirmed through the gazetting process that the Government of Canada has, the intention is typically lost. Nice words are shared by officials about the intent of the bill when the members of Parliament and senators express their will by passing a piece of legislation, but then the actual execution is not there.

Sometimes this debate among officials lasts well over a decade, two or three decades of quibbling over exactly what the law permits one to do and to whom it can apply. I think the concerns expressed by the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap on our side are that the lens with which the Criminal Code will be applied may be broadened by officials in the departments at a later point, far beyond the lifespan of any member here, or at least our elected lifespan. I wish all members good heath.

I think there is a concern there about that mission creep, about going after individuals or applying the law to individuals whom we had not intended it to be upon. That is why many amendments were moved at committee by the opposition side to try to improve and clarify this particular piece of legislation, of course not to obstruct it. Attempting to amend a piece of legislation is never about obstruction. It is about an improvement to the bill, especially when the intent is there. The technical aspect, the delivery of the bill and its execution, is perhaps lacking.

I want to mention the scientists. The member for Cariboo—Prince George previously made comments about an email from Dr. Laura Graham, a professor at the University of Guelph. I am going to read the quote, and then perhaps I can express some of my thoughts on the scientists' view on the impact that this bill would have.

The member for Cariboo—Prince George said:

Her speciality is endocrinology and reproductive physiology of wildlife species, including looking at factors that can impact the welfare of wildlife species managed by humans and using science to solve some of the challenges wildlife managers face as they work toward optimizing the welfare of animals in their care.

Thereafter, that information can be used in the general practices of the Crown when it is managing wildlife populations on behalf of Canadians. I am going to read a direct quote from the correspondence that the member for Cariboo—Prince George read, so that I can remind the chamber of what Dr. Laura Graham said:

As an expert in endangered species physiology I can tell you that this bill is short-sighted and will do irreparable harm to critical research on the marine mammals listed under SARA, including the Salish Orca. Over 90% of what we know about marine mammal biology is based on research on individuals under human care. And we need these captive animals to develop research techniques that can be applied to free-ranging animals.

The discussion goes on from there. The quotations given by this particular specialist, I think, are really important to keep in mind.

Many members have said that the economic operations of the aquariums, and those operations that save marine mammals and then perhaps keep them temporarily in captivity so that they can nurse them back to health, typically have some research component. It is never a purely economic operation.

Again, I could be wrong in the case of Marineland, which seems to be the best example being used. I am a member from Calgary, after all, so I do not head out to Toronto too often. However, on this particular piece of legislation, I think the intent is there but the execution is lacking. As I read from the scientist, I think there will be harm done on the research side of things that we were not able to fix at committee. In eight months and 17 committee meetings, we were not able to reach that mechanical fixing of the bill.

That is why I will be voting against this piece of legislation, just as I have been telling my constituents that I would. I implore all members to look at that fact and to vote against this particular law.

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

April 25th, 2018 / 3:55 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, in relation to Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the Bill; and

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

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

April 25th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House. Today I heard the Prime Minister say countless times in question period that he defends freedom of expression and he would like everyone to be able to express themselves. However, at the first opportunity, the leader of the government announced that there would be a motion to limit debate and prevent members from speaking to Bill C-55, which is very important.

It is unacceptable to say one thing in front of the cameras and do the complete opposite when the journalists have left and when it is just us here in the House of Commons. The government should be ashamed of itself for using this tool to muzzle people who want to defend Canada's fisheries workers.

Why has the government once again chosen to prevent members of the House from publicly and freely expressing themselves on such an important issue?

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

April 25th, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of Families.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans did a great job on Bill C-55. That is not the problem. The problems is that the government is abusing the process by repeatedly imposing gag orders in the House. That is undemocratic.

Could the minister please explain to the House why we need time allocation? This is a good bill. It has been amended. It has gone through committee. It should not need to be forced through. We should be able to have the kind of work in this place which ensures that full debate can take place.

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

April 25th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos Liberal Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member and commend him for his interest and his contribution to the debate. As he well knows, Bill C-55 would correct a major flaw in the current system. The current system has two possibilities, zero protection or full protection, and nothing in between. The in-between matters where we have a presumption that some marine areas need to be preserved and protected. What we would put in place with Bill C-55 would be a regime within which interim protections could be provided. That means that the minister would have five years to consult extensively with Canadians, including indigenous Canadians, and draw upon science in the most fulsome, respectful, and efficient manner, and within those five years, there would be interim protections. After five years, a decision would be made as to whether we wanted to permanently protect the area or not protect it at all.

It is a good way forward. There will be more to come with the contributions of the members in this House.

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

April 25th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is quite dismaying that the minister has said that most of the speeches have been from the opposition side. Where are the 18 B.C. Liberal MPs? Where are their voices on this? Where are the 32 Atlantic Canada MPs on this? Bill C-55 will absolutely be transformative for our coastal communities. It will financially impact those coastal communities in a negative way.

Bill C-55 would empower the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to immediately designate marine protected areas by order and to prohibit certain activities in those areas while the areas in question are studied.

Could our hon. colleague across the way please inform the House what provisions are in place through Bill C-55 for any economic losses incurred by the communities and industry in those areas adjacent?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

April 25th, 2018 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind everyone that I am splitting my time with the hon. member for Yellowhead. I believe that puts my time down to about a minute.

Speaking to Bill C-55, the legislation goes way above and beyond what the government tried to pretend it wanted to do. It cuts into areas where fishermen have big concerns.

At the end of the day, this affects all the good changes that were made to improve the Fisheries Act in 2012. It seems to be the government's modus operandi that no matter what the item is, if the previous government did it, then it has to be reversed, instead of coming up with some good new legislation.

I wish the government would get back to dealing with some good ideas. Maybe if the Liberals sit down and think about it, they might even come up with something themselves.

With that, I am willing to take some questions.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

April 25th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, as a member from an ocean coastal riding, I welcome Bill C-55. The hon. member may be interested to know that there is a proposed protected area for a national marine conservation area in my riding. It is still called the Southern Strait of Georgia proposal, although everyone in my area calls it the Salish Sea. It was initially proposed and supported by Jacques Cousteau in 1972, and it still has not been enacted. Therefore, I welcome anything under the Oceans Act to speed up protected areas.

I wonder if my hon. colleague, who does not touch the ocean, might agree it would be a good thing to get an important area like this protected.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

April 25th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, it is good to rise today and speak to Bill C-55, even though our time is going to be limited because of the actions of the Liberal government. I have been here four other times trying to get this conversation going, and I will try to get it done today.

I rise in the House to speak to Bill C-55, an act that would empower the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to designate, without consultation, marine protected areas and prohibit activities in those areas for up to five years. After five years, the minister would be able to permanently designate that area as a marine protected area, or an MPA. The bill would also give the Governor in Council the authority to prohibit fishing, as well as oil and gas activity in MPAs. For a government that constantly praises itself for listening to Canadians and for public consultation, I was surprised when I read Bill C-55. I was surprised because the legislation completely ignores any kind of consultation.

I sat on the environment committee and was part of the study “Taking Action Today: Establishing Protected Areas for Canada's Future”. I want to mention a comment by one of the witnesses, Paul Crowley. He said:

I think the most important thing is to do this transparently. What are the economic benefits? What is the baseline management that can be handed over to communities? Have that up front right away and across the board, being fair and not renegotiating from one space to the next, from one community to the next, or from one land claim to the next. Start at the highest level right off the bat, and get to “yes” very quickly.

He said that, but he was saying that we need to negotiate, and here we have a government that says it is going to enact this quickly and study it afterwards. Once again, the Liberal government is putting environmental activists ahead of our economy, and the local people whom these decisions would impact the most will suffer. According to fishermen in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and British Columbia, they have not been consulted about the impacts of Bill C-55 at all. Why should we expect that they would be consulted, when the Liberals want to turn their regions into protected areas as quickly as possible to reach a personal mandate by that party?

The Cape Breton Fish Harvesters Association representative said, “I think we are more upset by the process. It was not done the way it should have been done. It should have been done more respectfully.”

The director of Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board, a fishermen's group, said that “the consultation process was not well planned, organized, or transparent”, and that it was disorganized even within the fisheries department.

The Chief of the Pictou Landing First Nation said that they have received very little information about the consideration of their region as an MPA. She also said that her community depends heavily on the revenues from snow crab and the lobster fishery. That is a $70-million lobster and snow crab fishery that has supported their small coastal region in Cape Breton for many generations, and it could be at risk because of Bill C-55.

Mr. Gordon MacDonald, a Fourchu fisherman in Nova Scotia, put it best when he said, “It’s more likely to be damaging than beneficial but it satisfies a need to be seen as doing good, as being a world leader in protection and conservation....”

Some of the locations being proposed are not in danger. They are being fished in a sustainable manner. That is exactly why our government enforces quotas: to protect these areas. Bill C-55 would require that when deciding to establish an MPA, the minister apply a precautionary approach: when in doubt, add it to the list, without any consultation.

First, if the government consulted with the people on the ground, it could avoid a lot of uncertainty. Second, if the government imposes an MPA that is unnecessary, even for five years, it would destroy the local economy, with little gain for the marine environment. However, as Mr. MacDonald said, the Liberals would look good on the international stage.

The Liberal government ran a campaign on transparency, yet there are serious questions about the transparency with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, both in this legislation and in decisions he has made in the past. Let us go back a few months. The minister awarded one quarter of the Arctic surf clam quota to a partnership between Premium Seafoods and the Five Nations Clam Company. However, neither the Liberals nor the Five Nations Clam Company would say which indigenous groups were involved, until weeks after the decision was made.

Apparently, at the time of the application, not even the applicants knew who was involved, but they got the contract. There were only reserved spots in their proposal for indigenous groups, and it was not until after the quota was awarded that they filled those spots. It smells a little fishy, not to mention that the president of Premium Seafoods, which won the contract, is the brother of a current Liberal member and has contributed thousands of dollars to the Liberal Party. The president of one of the Five Nations partners is also a former Liberal member.

The minister needs to stop playing politics with our fisheries and come up with a real plan that would support high-quality, well-paying jobs in our coastal communities. This bill would not only impact commercial fisheries, but also hurt people who fish for sustenance, as well as negatively impact tourism in these areas. For example, when the International Pacific Halibut Commission met this year to determine the catch limits for the year for Canada and the U.S., it could not come to an agreement and determined to keep the 2017 restrictions in place.

When the recreational fishing industry in British Columbia reached its quota early in the year, it had to close for the season, with just 36 hours' notice from the government. This meant that fishing charters were either out of business for the rest of the year or forced to lease quotas from the commercial fishery. Either way, this cost the fish tourism business a lot of money.

What would happen when the government suddenly decides to make a region a designated area, without consultation, and enforces a five-year ban on fishing in the area? The companies that rely on sport fishing and tourism would be completely out of business, never mind closing early or having to lease quotas. They would not even be able to leave the docks for five years.

Where is the compensation for the lost income? It is not in this bill. The livelihood of Mr. MacDonald's family depends on the region's bounty of lobster, crab, and other species. He calls the proposed MPAs a “human exclusion zone”. He said, “They’re trying to eliminate humans as if that’s a form of conservation.... True ocean health, within the part that humans have control, will involve greater human time and investment, not absence”.

The Liberals' plan to protect 10% of marine and coastal areas by 2020 would undoubtedly result in inadequate consultation and large areas from coast to coast to coast being closed to commercial and recreational activities.

I am not opposed to the creation of MPAs. In fact, the Conservative Party has championed conservation and marine protected areas in the past. Our previous government focused on building on existing international markets and introducing new ones, while making significant investments in areas like marine research, harbour infrastructure, lobster sustainability, aquaculture innovation, and indigenous participation.

Rather than consulting the communities that would be most impacted by the Liberal government's plan on MPAs, the minister has chosen to fast-track this process in order to meet these self-imposed political targets.

A balance between the protection of marine habitats and the protection of local economies that depend on commercial and recreational fishing must be struck. This cannot be achieved without extensive consultation and a concerted effort to prioritize the needs of local communities.

I challenge the government to answer why it is abandoning consultation and transparency. This bill has the potential to do a lot of damage to local fisheries, and it is not an example of the economy and the environment going hand in hand.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

April 25th, 2018 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, proper consultation with the indigenous peoples of the area and local ranchers who are dealing with agriculture leases for range land, and stuff like, has to be done. We need to work with the local ranchers. We need to work with the local counties and local indigenous groups and plan ahead.

I am going to refer back to my favourite report, “Taking Action Today: Establishing Protected Areas for Canada's Future”, because I sat on that committee. We had the environmental groups come and tell us that they wanted to protect all this land. Then we had the natives from northern Canada, the Northwest Territories, and the Inuit come in and say, “Slow down. We want to be involved in the consultations. We want to talk about what's best for the land we live on. We want to know how we are going to protect the economy for our future but also protect the environment.” That is what it is about. Bill C-55 is fast-tracking to put these protected areas in immediately. They will do the consulting or negotiating after.