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

Sponsor

Dominic LeBlanc  Liberal

Status

Report stage (House), as of Dec. 11, 2017

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the 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

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

October 16th, 2017 / noon
See context

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to compliment the member for Bow River on his motion. I was happy to second it. The speech I am about to give relates quite closely to the wonderful motion he has introduced.

I am pleased to rise in the chamber to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and Canada Petroleum Act. Essentially, the proposed bill will allow the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to designate interim marine protected areas for five years while the government consults and studies whether the MPA should be permanent.

The Liberal government arrogance knows no bounds, given that the fisheries committee was charged with studying this very topic, and is in the middle of its study. However, the government is going ahead without the benefit of advice from the fisheries committee. I had the honour of sitting on the fisheries committee for nearly seven years. It does great work. People from all parties get together to conserve our fisheries resources and provide good advice, yet the government chooses to go ahead without the benefit of that advice.

Before I get into debating the merits of whether the bill will achieve its desired results, all of us believe in the protection of our coastal waters, and we have a deep connection with the environment. In my own career as a fisheries biologist, I have been involved with environmental conservation for 35-plus years.

When it comes to the preservation of parkland and the protection of our oceans, our Conservative government made giant steps to reconcile the divide between what was best for the environment and the people who lived there and used it. I would again refer to the previous motion. People who live on the land are the best conservationists. People who use our waterways and catch our fish care more about the environment and conservation than just about anyone else.

Our government took consultation seriously and strived to ensure everyone had a say. In 2009, Parliament unanimously passed legislation resulting in a sixfold expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve, bringing the park to 30,000 square kilometres in size. A year later, after a parliamentary review, the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site became the first marine protected area to be scheduled under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act, which was another great project of our Conservative government.

In a global first, this new marine protected area, along with the existing Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, to this very day protects the connecting area that extends from alpine mountaintops right down to the bottom of the ocean floor, a rich temperate rainforest and its adjoining marine ecosystem that is now protected for the benefit of future generations. All of this was accomplished as we worked hand in hand with the local communities that were most affected by this. That is the proper way to establish a marine conservation area.

It is important to note that our government not only worked to protect large or remote natural areas such as Nahanni, Gwaii Haanas, and Sable Island. We also worked to protect the endangered habitat and species, and to conserve some of the last remaining natural areas in more developed settings.

I am extremely proud of our Conservative government's track record when it comes to the environment. We were about action, about making the necessary changes for the betterment of all of our citizens. On our watch as a Conservative government nearly every environmental indicator in our country improved. From sulphur dioxide emissions, nitrous oxide emissions, etc., and the amount of land protected, nearly every environmental indicator improved.

A large part of our tremendous environmental track record was under the national conservation plan that Prime Minister Harper announced a few years ago, which unfortunately the current government is letting slip away. Under the NCP, we had the natural areas conservation program, which conserved 800,000 acres of highly-valued conservation land in Canada's developed areas.

One program I was especially proud of was the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program. In that program, our government partnered with the angling community and the recreational fishing community. About four million Canadians love to angle. We worked with these fisheries groups to fund about 800 projects to improve fisheries habitat right across the country. Unfortunately, this program is sunsetting under the Liberal government. It is a travesty that we are losing the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, and all the expertise and enthusiasm the angling community has generated. We did work on invasive species. We did important work in toxic site remediation. Randle Reef in Hamilton harbour comes to mind.

We streamlined and made a more efficient project review process without harming the environment in any way. We streamlined the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. We rewrote the Fisheries Act. None of this had any negative impact on the environment, but served to promote and encourage natural resource development.

The Liberals and the Conservatives are very different when it comes to environmental policy. The Liberals and the New Democrats, their fellow travellers on the left, are all about environmental process. The Conservatives are about environmental results. The two are very different.

Getting more specific about marine protected areas, they are a very challenging program to implement. It is much easier to implement protection in terrestrial areas such as our national parks, wildlife management areas, and so on. It is easy to say “protected” when we talk about marine protected areas, but from what? In terms of MPAs, the devil is always in the details.

Let us just visualize what a marine protected area would look like. Visualize the water column, which is a three dimensional slice of the ocean. We look at the surface, the water itself, the volume of water underneath that surface area, and the bottom, the benthic area where the benthic organisms live. Fish migrate through this water column at different times of year. Tides change the currents on a daily basis. The challenges with MPAs actually are much greater than the challenges with terrestrial areas. There are a multitude of activities in that water column, for example, human activity, ships going over the top of the water and recreational fishing. Marine protected areas are quite difficult. It is very important the government gets this right. If it does not, human activity will be disrupted, with very little improvement on the environment.

That is why I find this a bit difficult to support. One one hand, the Liberals say that they will consult with provincial governments and interested and affected stakeholders, yet time and time again witnesses at the fisheries committee testified that these consultations were not taking place. When they did take place, they were sorely lacking.

Leonard LeBlanc, the managing director of the Gulf of Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board, said:

The process DFO used to approach harvester associations and consult on the areas of interest for designation was unorganized and totally not transparent. This consultation process on the area of interest for MPA designation in the Cape Breton Trough perpetuated the lack of trust between industry and DFO. The lack of inclusion and answers during the consultation phase, the lack of [any] real scientific evidence for reasoning behind the area of interest, and the lack of guarantees that traditional fisheries could continue all led to further distrust of DFO's consultation...

Ian MacPherson, the executive director of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association, said:

...we have concerns surrounding the tight timelines to accomplish these goals. Prince Edward Island is a small province driven by small fishing communities. The displacement of fishers from one community to another as a result of an MPA would shift the economics of the island.

A gentleman named Jordan Nickerson has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a crab fishery. He talked about how well it was going. He said:

Our crab was landed in pristine quality...As a company, we were...relieved, as it looked as though we might actually achieve our dream and see a possible return on investment [but the MPA program has hit]...we were all too quickly familiarized with the concept of MPAs...and marine conservation targets, by DFO and the Government of Canada. Abruptly, our access to...fishing grounds was being called into question, thereby adding more complexity to an already strenuous situation.

Mr. Nickerson went on to say:

Canada should be a leader in listening to its people and taking the time to listen and spend the money and do the proper science before coming to a huge decision such as establishing...MPAs supposedly based on science. These decisions will take time, but they should be Canadian decisions based on Canadian timelines, not offhand commitments made to international arenas void of any voices of those who will be impacted most and who are most informed...We should all understand the importance of saving and protecting the environment; however, environmental groups don't depend on the fishery to put food on the table and tax dollars to work. They are using their campaigns to maintain their future funding strings and their own future.

Christina Burridge, executive director of the BC Seafood Alliance, said:

On the west coast, we're not seeing a lot of evidence-based decision-making. It's beginning to look like political decision-making....

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 [be] middle class and little for the health of [citizens], who deserve access to local, sustainable seafood.

Jim McIsaac, the managing director of the BC Commercial Fishing Caucus, said:

We need to engage stakeholders from the start, not bring stakeholders along at the end. We have to set outcome objectives, and the process should fit the objectives.

On and on, throughout the hearings, stakeholders, people who live and work on the sea, complained bitterly about the lack of consultation and, quite frankly, the lack of science.

Sean Cox, a professor of fisheries from Simon Fraser University, said:

Looking at some of the previous testimony, there was a claim that there was overwhelming scientific proof that MPAs are beneficial and widely successful. I think that was misrepresentation of the actual science.

Callum Roberts said, “If you want to build on a process of trust and goodwill, you don't then ignore what your stakeholders say and consult on only a minority of the protected areas that were being recommended” or we will end up without “a network of protected areas.“

Chris Sporer, the executive manager for the Pacific Halibut Management Association, said, “The MPA process needs to take into consideration and evaluate the ecological consequences of displacing fishing effort.”

Mr. Sporer talked at length about the fact that halibut fishing would be much more difficult and perhaps threaten non-target species if they were, “kicked out” of some of the prime halibut fishing areas.

Again, unfortunately for those making a living off of the ocean, the Liberal government has a pattern of broken promises and has continually put its own partisan interests above what is best for its citizens. To be honest, it makes me question why the Liberals are pushing the bill so hard. Could it be they are merely trying to appease the international community to score points for a much-touted Security Council bid?

With respect to the bungling by the current government in managing our environment and resources, nothing quite comes close to the bungling that happened on the energy east project. I am going to quote from an article by Dennis McConaghy, a former TransCanada Pipeline employee who designed pipelines. The title of the article is “I helped plan Energy East, and I know the government's excuses are bunk”, a very telling statement by a person who was on the ground. The article stated:

The vast majority of the $1 billion in Energy East development costs went to pursuing regulatory approval....Since TransCanada first filed with the National Energy Board in late 2014, the project has had to cope with litany of regulatory dysfunctions.

This may not seem related to MPAs, but it is all part and parcel of the government's approach to local communities, economic development, and our natural resources industries. He went on to say:

...regulatory dysfunctions ranging from protracted information requests beyond the initial filing, recusal of the original NEB panel to be replaced by a panel of limited pertinent regulatory experience, failure to use the existing regulatory record prior to the recusal, inadequate security arrangements for attempted public hearings and, worst of all, the recent decision to “re-scope” the issues to be addressed in the hearing itself.

From when TransCanada first conceived this project internally in late 2011, accumulated development costs have exceeded $1 billion, the vast majority relating to the pursuit of regulatory approval. No private sector entity would ever have expended such a vast amount of capital seeking regulatory approval if it had known the dimension of the regulatory and political risk....

The last straw was the re-scoping decision taken by the current NEB panel, and supported by the [Liberal] government. This decision concerned whether carbon emissions generated by the production process of the oil to be moved by Energy East were consistent or not with Ottawa’s carbon policy. To be clear, these are not emissions generated by the Energy East pipeline directly, but are emissions TransCanada is not responsible for....

Over the past week, the Trudeau government has offered various sophistries to obfuscate the basic point that it bears culpability for a dysfunctional regulatory system and its failure to clarify basic elements of Canadian carbon policy. Lamest of all is the government invoking changed commodity-price conditions

—as the natural resources minister always does—

as the cause for Energy East’s demise, while it proudly points out that Trans Mountain and Keystone XL are still alive, despite these projects facing the same commodity-price environment.

Again, the dysfunctionality, I think I may have coined a new word here, of the government when it comes to regulatory affairs, managing our natural environment, and consulting with local people, is clearly abysmal. I would like to go back to Mr. Jordan Nickerson, who has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in his small business. Just as he is about to show some success, his fear is that his access to his fishing-grounds will be compromised. Not only that, there is the small business tax program coming down upon him.

Of course, we were all treated to the excuses by the finance minister in not disclosing the fact that he owned a French villa. Having what he has, I would definitely excuse him from that. As well, there was his use of the phrase that it was caused by “early administrative confusion”. Should any of us ever be audited by the CRA, because the finance minister used that excuse, we could state the same excuse of “early administrative confusion”. We can say we have the finance minister's backing on that. I can see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries. I am not going to say he agrees, but I think he is enjoying this particular example.

The small business tax will make life harder for fishing families like Mr. Nickerson's. Throw in the MPA designation, throw in a potential carbon tax, and one wonders why somebody would ever take that risk, hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up a fishery in this risky environment created by the current Liberal government with its dysfunctional regulatory approach.

Again, we are concerned that this is another tax grab and a way to thwart the ambitions of people like Mr. Nickerson. We know that Liberal tax hikes are making it more difficult for entrepreneurs like Mr. Nickerson to maintain and grow their businesses. The previous Conservative government created a low-tax competitive business environment that drove investment and created hundreds and thousands of private sector jobs. In terms of the Liberals' small business tax proposals, Jack Mintz from the University of Calgary, said, “This is just one more way to discourage entrepreneurship, on top of all the tax increases in the past two years.”

Kim Moody, the director of the Canadian tax advisory at Moodys Gartner stated:

What the government will do here is stifle entrepreneurs who have been the backbone of Canada's growth … and all in a 75-day consultation period, held mainly over the summer, when everyone, including the government bureaucrats supposedly listening, are on holiday.”

It is my hope that we can work together on the issue of MPAs and that the government will listen to the members of the fisheries committee, and to local communities. As I said, I have been involved with fisheries conservation for many years and natural resource conservation, and I sat on the fisheries committee for nearly seven years. The conservation of Canada's natural resources is of paramount importance. It is vital that the government listen to the people who are on the land.

I am constantly astonished. I have the honour of representing Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa. In my riding, I have commercial fishermen, farmers, ranchers, trappers, tourist operators, hunters, and anglers. My particular constituency could be considered a model of natural resources development with people working in harmony with their environments. I have the honour of owning a little 480-acre farm south of Riding Mountain National Park. The biodiversity in my region is truly phenomenal. It is maintained by people on the land.

To conclude, it is very important that the government listen to people who commercially and recreationally fish. It is critical that they get the MPA program right.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for the efforts we have seen for the past seven years on our fisheries committee. I will echo the parliamentary secretary's comments that the impact our hon. colleague has had on the committee in the past will carry on in the future. He is indeed one of our leaders in this area within our caucus.

Bill C-55 gives the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and the Minister of Natural Resources the ministerial power to immediately designate a marine protected area without consultation. At the heart of this, it is about protecting our waterways, oceans and no one is debating that we want to make sure we are doing everything to protect our oceans. It is misleading when the parliamentary secretary says that perhaps we do not feel the same. It is our previous government's targets that the government is trying to fast-track, but consultation has to be met.

I know the member touched on this in his presentation, but would he agree that giving complete ministerial oversight in terms of powers to designate an MPA without consultation causes concern?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Burnaby North—Seymour B.C.

Liberal

Terry Beech LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to talk about Bill C-55. The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard has been given a clear mandate to protect Canada's three oceans, our coasts, our waterways, and our fisheries to ensure that they remain healthy for the benefit of future generations. This is a commitment that I take very seriously and personally. I am extremely honoured that my first piece of legislation as the parliamentary secretary to the minister is for such a worthy cause.

The Oceans Act is a fundamental tool that Canadians rely upon to ensure the future health of our marine ecosystems. A pristine and abundant environmental ecosystem is the greatest underlying economic driver that we have.

Specific to today's debate, the Government of Canada is committed to meeting Aichi target 11 under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. This commits us to conserving 10% of our coastal and marine areas through the establishment and effective management of marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures by 2020.

Canada's commitment to meet this target was confirmed again in 2015 through our support of the United Nations General Assembly 2030 sustainable development program. Our government established an interim target of protecting 5% of marine and coastal areas by the end of 2017 to show our seriousness in achieving this goal, and we will meet this standard.

The government is making progress on our marine conservation targets through co-operation and strong partnerships with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, and through a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples. These partnerships enable us to deliver real and positive changes that will preserve ecosystems and species to ensure that Canada's marine resources can continue to support sustainable industries, local economies, and our coastal communities.

Our three oceans are complex webs of ecological and human systems that need to be understood and, in many cases, protected. Marine protected areas and marine protected area networks preserve these ecological links and protect diverse marine ecosystems and species.

Canadians understand that our oceans hold many wonders and are an important source of resources. They also expect us to deliver healthier oceans for generations to come, and this legislation would help us do that. We will continue to establish marine protected areas through science-based decision-making, transparency, and in a manner that advances reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

The government has been following the five-point plan that we announced on World Oceans Day, 2016. This plan is not only guiding our efforts at home but also helping us reclaim our position as a leader on the international stage when it comes to ocean protection. The five-point plan includes advancing areas of interest toward designation as marine protected areas, such as the 140,000 square kilometres of ocean off the west coast of Vancouver Island that was identified for protection earlier this summer. The plan also includes the goal of establishing MPAs faster, based on results of scientific study and thorough consultations. As mentioned previously by the Prime Minister, Canada has taken important steps toward its 5% target, having now achieved 3.63%, or almost 209,000 square kilometres of marine and coastal protection across our three oceans.

It currently takes an average of seven years to designate a marine protected area under the Oceans Act. It requires time to undertake scientific assessments and socio-economic studies, as well as to conduct consultations with governments, indigenous groups, and stakeholders. These are important steps that cannot be eliminated, as they will ensure that a marine protected area will achieve its intended objectives while supporting local culture, the economy, and other needs. That said, a very clear understanding of what needs to be protected typically emerges well before all the data is compiled.

The amendments to the Oceans Act under Bill C-55 propose solutions that would help us protect critical and unique areas of Canada's oceans faster, without sacrificing the necessary scientific and consultative processes. The amendments will ensure that collaboration continues, requiring provinces, territories, indigenous groups, industry, and other stakeholders to be a part of both the establishment and management processes. Essentially, Bill C-55 proposes amendments that would provide an additional tool that would allow for interim protection of areas requiring protection through a ministerial order. This interim protection would be done following initial science and consultations, which would take around 24 months. Following this step, the full federal regulatory process would continue to formally designate the marine protected area within five years.

These amendments would ensure that when it is needed, an interim marine protected area could be put in place. New activities that risk further harm to ocean ecosystems, habitat, or marine life would not be allowed to occur in these interim protected zones. These amendments not only respect current activities but also the need to conduct comprehensive consultations and scientific research before a final marine protected area is established. The time frame to fully establish a marine protected area may still be up to seven years, but there could be some level of interim protection in place within the first two. No longer can a lack of 100% scientific certainty be used to delay or prevent the protection of a sensitive marine area that Canadians are counting on us collectively within the House to protect.

This is a policy that is entirely in lockstep with the precautionary approach, a founding principle of conservation in Canada. To put it another way, an interim marine protected area would essentially freeze the footprint of ongoing activities. Under this concept, only ongoing activities, meaning those activities occurring within one year before the interim protection is in place, would be allowed to continue. For example, current fishing activities, or fishing activities for which a moratorium is in place but licences are still held, would be considered ongoing activities.

To further support this new concept, which is integral to the creation of an interim marine protected area, Bill C-55 also includes amendments that would require application of the precautionary principle when deciding whether to designate new marine protected areas. This means that incomplete information or a lack of absolute certainty, 100% scientific certainty, as I previously described it, would not be justification for avoiding protection where there is a risk to the biodiversity in the marine ecosystem.

Bill C-55 also includes modernized, updated, and strengthened enforcement powers, fines, and punishments under the Oceans Act. The amendments and additions proposed in Bill C-55 align with other environmental laws, such as the Environmental Enforcement Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

The proposed amendments to the Oceans Act have received broad support during outreach efforts to discuss the bill. Canadians recognize that the amendments would not short-circuit the development of sound science or cut off people's opportunity to collaborate and be consulted on the development of marine protected areas. Instead, they would ensure that protection could be put in place more quickly in the interests of all Canadians. We would be able to act on initial science and information to help keep these areas safe while the additional research, engagement, and regulatory processes are worked through.

Supporting the health of our oceans is necessary to ensure that future generations will be able to rely on the unique and precious marine ecosystems and resources that underlie our environment and our economy. It should go without saying, but Canadians are counting on us to protect our oceans more than ever before, a resource that at times we have too often taken for granted.

I invite everyone in the House to support Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act, to ensure the protection of our oceans not only today but for generations to come.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Terry Beech Liberal Burnaby North—Seymour, BC

Mr. Speaker, within the context of Bill C-55, what we have come to realize from the development of previous marine protected areas, MPAs, is that they can take anywhere from seven to 10 years to establish. The ocean is changing rapidly and there are times when we need to take action to protect biodiversity before we are 100% certain about what all of the science will say or what the results of all of the consultations will be.

With this legislation we would be allowed to freeze the footprint. The current ongoing activities would be allowed to continue, but we would hold off on new activities while we do the rest of the science and consultations to make sure that we get it right when we finalize the version of the marine protected area. This means that we will not hold back from protecting an area simply because there are some outstanding scientific questions.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to this bill today.

In his mandate letter, the Prime Minister directed the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to increase the proportion of Canada's protected marine and coastal areas to 5% by 2017, and to 10% by 2020.

Before addressing various concerns with this bill, I want to comment on the feasibility of these targets and on the importance of advancing policies and legislation that actually deliver on intentions. The Liberals are hoping to reach 5% protected marine and coastal areas in three months from now. As of June this year, approximately 1.5% of coastal areas and 11% of land and inland water were protected spaces in Canada. It will be a very short time period between the Liberals pushing this bill through the House of Commons and the deadline they have set. The outcomes of either not meeting the deadline they have set and the target for protected spaces in that anticipated timeline, or reaching that timeline, but with insufficient consultation, research, and environmental and economic impact analysis, are both likely scenarios.

Bill C-55 would amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to allow the government to act unilaterally without consultation. The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard would be able to act on political whims, selecting areas and prohibiting activities without consultation and without rationalizing the decisions publicly with the science and evidence about which Liberals always love to talk a big game. What is it about these Liberals and consultation or, more accurately, their lack of consultation under the guise and repeated claims that they actually do consult?

The amendments would allow the minister of fisheries and oceans, five years from the day an area is given designation, to make it a permanent marine protected area or remove the designation all together. Canadians whose livelihoods depend on marine and coastal areas, people who work in commercial or recreational fisheries, researchers, scientists, academics, and industry, are all going to be left in limbo. This is becoming a typical pattern. It seems that the Liberals are satisfied to keep talking about how important consulting is to them but not actually doing it, and especially if there is a chance that the outcome is not what they already want.

During an ongoing study on marine protected areas at the fisheries and oceans committee, witnesses gave testimony on the process of designating MPAs. Callum Roberts, a professor at the University of York, said, “If you want to build on a process of trust and goodwill, you don't then ignore what your stakeholders say...if in the end all you were going to do was cherry-pick...”

Chris Sporer of the Pacific Halibut Management Association of British Columbia said that “if fishermen are forced from productive, high catch per unit effort areas to less productive” areas, there will be an increase in fishing time and an increased cost for less fish. He said that the process needs to take that into consideration and evaluate the ecological consequences of displacing fishing efforts.

One of the points that the minister of fisheries and oceans raised in his speech on this bill was consultation and reconciliation with first nations people. However, Canadians are learning that this another subject on which the Liberals like to talk a lot. As the Hereditary Chiefs' Council of Lax Kw'alaams from British Columbia stated on the proposed Liberal oil tanker ban, “We absolutely do not support big...environmental NGO’s (who make their money from opposing natural resource projects) dictating government policy and resource developments within our traditional territories;”

The Liberals and the left often imply that all first nations people are against natural resource development, which is what they are doing here, yet AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde says that some 500 of the 630 first nations in Canada are open to pipelines and petroleum development. Natural resource development is the largest private sector employer of first nations people across the country, and first nations across Canada support crucial energy infrastructure like Trans Mountain and energy east.

The Liberals need to do more than talk about consultation, and they should prioritize the needs and the future of Canadians across this country over their political agenda. In addition to speeding up the designation process for marine protected areas by allowing the minister to arbitrarily designate an area to fulfill a campaign commitment, the Liberals are also proposing amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act that would prohibit oil and gas activities in marine areas where interim protection is declared unilaterally. Their amendments would give the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairsthe unilateral power to cancel proponents' oil and gas interests, wiping out leases and assets, and eliminating investment and job opportunities for Canadians.

This arbitrary and unilateral authority to extinguish development rights signals significant investment risk for Canadian offshore development. It is yet another decision that will undermine certainty, clarity, and predictability in Canada as a place to do business, and yet another way that the Liberals are violating competitiveness and confidence in Canada as a world-leading energy producer. These kinds of actions cause investment to leave Canada, and it kills jobs.

The Liberals are yet again specifically targeting the Canadian oil and gas sector. Considering the totality of Liberal policy and legislative decisions around energy during the past two years, it is completely rational and almost unavoidable to conclude that the Liberals are trying, any which way they can, to stop oil and gas development in Canada.

Canada has a thriving offshore oil and gas industry, with most of the activity in Atlantic Canada. More than 9,000 people work in the sector directly, and thousands more are employed indirectly. There are more than 600 supply and service companies, and there has been over $40 billion worth of capital spending in offshore development in Atlantic Canada since the mid 1990s. Canadian oil and gas companies also have interests in northern Canada and in B.C.

The Liberals are not considering the economic consequences of once again creating more chaos and uncertainty for energy proponents. Projects that are in provincial and federal regulatory review processes, and approved projects that are moving forward right now, will be put in jeopardy by these proposed amendments.

Continuing down this path will destroy economic opportunities in Canada. It is not balanced. Canadians witnessed this first-hand less than two weeks ago with the cancellation of energy east. After spending $1 billion, and years into the regulatory review, harmful Liberal policies forced TransCanada to abandon a project that would have added $55 billion to Canada's GDP, created over 14,000 jobs, and brought benefits to communities across the entire country.

Similarly, the Liberals are harming Canadian energy development with their proposed oil tanker ban. Somehow, the Liberals have managed to propose a bill that does not actually stop American or foreign oil tankers, or tankers carrying anything other than crude oil, from being in a designated area.

Likewise, the Liberals have announced a five-year moratorium on drilling in the Arctic, completely ignoring the very Canadians it negatively affects. The Premier of Nunavut said, “We have been promised by Ottawa that they would consult and make decisions based on meaningful discussion. So far, that hasn't happened..”. Premier Bob McLeod of the Northwest Territories added, “It feels like a step backward..”.

The proposed new powers of the ministers could be devastating to energy investment in Canada. Paul Barnes, from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said this in the fisheries committee:

...our biggest fear would arise if there are already licences in that particular area, because there would obviously have been a decision made by an oil and gas company or a consortium of companies to invest in an area. If a subsequent decision is made to have a marine protected area placed over those licences, potentially affecting the ability to do work, that's obviously lost investment and doesn't send a very positive signal to the investment community regarding Canada's competitiveness.

The federal government has a variety of roles to play to meet Canada's conservation goals, to be sure, but it should not be to eliminate the oil and gas sector in Canada.

The Liberals constant attacks are particularly galling, given the reality that Canadian energy operates under the strongest regulatory controls, with the best compliance and transparency in the world. Energy benefits all Canadians. It is the second-biggest investor in the Canadian economy, and it is Canada's second-largest export.

Recently, Nunavut cabinet minister Johnny Mike addressed the Liberals' lack of consultation on Bill C-55, saying that his residents “are well aware of the potential in our offshore areas, which is used for economic opportunities today by interests from outside of Nunavut. ...this proposed bill for marine management and petroleum industry sector management which is being developed seemingly turns its legislative back on the people of Pangnirtung.” He said, “The federal government never consulted any northerners or my constituents on what concerns they may have...”.

This is a disturbing trend in the Liberal approach. Canada has a strong and world-renowned track record of environmental stewardship, and ongoing innovation that minimizes the environmental footprint and enhances the sustainability of responsible natural resource development. That economic and industrial development, in turn, provides jobs for hundreds of thousands of Canadians everywhere. It generates revenue that is shared across the country and lifts the standard of living of all Canadians.

It is crucial that while Canada continues to protect the environment that it continues to be an attractive jurisdiction for investment for offshore oil and gas development.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. The Canada Petroleum Resources Act would still, with special favour and curry from the minister, win out over conservation. We will continue to treat our biodiversity differently than, for example, parks. Specifically, mining cannot be undertaken in provincial and federal parks. However, with the proposed changes to the act we will continue to see the potential and continued use of exploration and extraction of petroleum resources from these marine areas.

It is important for people to understand that distinction. We would not want to go to a national park, which was free admission during Canada's 150 anniversary celebrations this past summer, and see mining going on by the private sector. Unfortunately we are missing a specific opportunity carved out by the Liberals on this. I cannot understand it, but it goes with the theme of the government.

Some of us will remember when Paul Martin was prime minister. He eventually became known as Mr. Dithers. The Liberals would often talk about a lot of good things to take place, but they never really made decisions on those things. Now a decision is being made but it is a lazy one. It is mediocre. It is like being hungry at breakfast and having a bowl of corn flakes because they are just there. It will sustain us, but it really will not do much other than that. It is the same thing as sprinkles on ice-cream. They look great, but there really is no substance.

Mediocracy has consumed the government. It continues to be a major problem, but has become the staple approach. In the 15 years I have been here, I have never seen less work in the House of Commons than now. The agreement with regard to the percentage of the acquisition of space and protection of marine areas was signed in 1992. We are just barely bubbling above 1% where we are supposed to be. Ironically, it comes closer to the broken promises of the Liberals on climate change. We are light years away from our actual percentage requirement. We are also not even following some of the rules in that.

It is important to recognize a couple of major powers that will be put in place, but they do not have the teeth necessary for conservation. Hence, we had some hesitation. In fact, the thought that we could actually freeze zones, as described by the parliamentary secretary and others, while at the same time allow perpetual work and activity, knowing they are a danger to the biodiversity and marine activity, just because it meets a date is puzzling. We could literally have situations where a change happens rather rapidly. We have seen this with whales and other populations, We could literally protect zones after the damage has been done and the species is hurt beyond the potential of recovery. That is the model the Liberals are proposing in the bill.

We have not met Canada's international commitments to protect our marine biodiversity. There has been some criticism about painting a picture that other people are setting the rules and standards, the international community versus Canada. Our scientists, bureaucrats, workers, and politicians have all been part of this discussion going back to 1992, and before that, about what those standards and elements should be. We have been part of that discussion to create the base for an international agreement, which is very difficult to reach. We have failed to meet our targets, quite significantly.

We are not taking on oil and gas exploration in these zones, and that is important. Essentially we will not have that preservation.

I mentioned the pledge of the international community, the convention on biological diversity, which we were part of in 1992. If we measure Canada today, we are at 1.5% of marine protected areas.

We are behind China. China has protected more marine area space than we have. Japan is at 5.6%. The United States, our partners, is at 30%-plus. Australia is at 33.2%. Those countries use of marine areas is a much more sophisticated way for ecotourism and opportunities there.

The failing of the minimum protection requirements and having the elements related to oil and gas allowed is likened to the creeping privatization taking place. The creeping privatization on public elements, property, and space also happens in our social services and in a number of different of different things.

I want to compare a recent example in my community so people have an idea. In Ontario, we allowed creeping privatization, and continue to allow it, of medical services. For example, Unifor 2458 medical lab workers are on strike right now. Under creeping privatization, their wages are $12.50 an hour. They are involved in blood work, which is high risk. It is a challenge. Our entire treatment and publicly funded system are based on that. Most important, that creeping privatization now has a piece of private profit in it. We could do much better without that private profit.

This issue with regard to the MPAs and the availability of having privatization elements as part of them is quite a concern. Oil and gas is of particular note. Its activity can create further hazards for other types of industries that use the space or want to use it, for example, commercial fisheries and things of that nature. The fact that the minister would have so much leverage with no moratorium to stop it, allows for hard industry in our parks. We should not become accustomed to having that hard industry.

We have had a number of comments from industry and other people on that. I want to read a couple of quotes.

The World Wildlife Federation about the banks of Scott Islands said, “Oil and gas exploitation will still be permitted and harmful fishing practices, such as bottom trawling, will not be legally prohibited in the area.” That is the problem. It does not allow stopping of the extraction and exploration.

Canada's biodiversity is critical as we go forward. We should be looking at our international agreements and measuring ourselves by those. I know we are supposed to reach certain targets by 2020. We signed on in 1992. This is a credibility issue for our country to reach them. At the very least, the government should be benchmarking why we are not meeting those targets and the reasons why. It should be upfront and let the Canadian public have this debate. If we will not meet those targets, those types of agreements we have signed, at the very least we have the responsibility to tell the public and our partners why.

Our country has been blessed. We have invested in our scientists. Under the previous administration, there was virtually a war with regard to their involvement in government operations. The types of connections we have through marine biodiversity and scientific research also help us in other ways. When we backtrack on international standards, at least expect to have some type of discussion as to the reasons why. Maybe they make sense and maybe they do not, but the public can decide.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, I was supposed to be with our fisheries committee, travelling in Atlantic Canada and listening to stakeholders from a number of different communities regarding the government's proposed MPA process. Bill C-55 is being rushed through, and today we are debating it while most of the members of the fisheries committee, with the exception of me and one other, are on this consultation. The Liberals like to say they are consulting and they really want to hear from Canadians, but the committee that has been tasked to consult with Canadians on this very important issue is still consulting. The government wants to rush a bill through that deals with the very issue that the committee has been studying for four to six months, hearing Canadians coast to coast to coast. Much of what we hear is that the government consultations are a sham, that they are not real.

Does my hon. colleague from Windsor West think this is curious as well, that the government is just talking about consultation so it can check a box to say that it has considered it?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House to talk about marine protection, biodiversity, and marine protection areas across Canada.

This is a very important issue to me, one on which I have been working since 2012. At the time, the Conservative government wanted to build an oil terminal in Cacouna, right in the beluga nursery. Fortunately this project fell through thanks, in part, to the NDP's work.

It is a pleasure for me to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and also, strangely enough, the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. There are several important points to remember on this issue.

This bill will create the legal tools needed to fast track the creation of marine protected areas, which, in itself, is good news. It was recommended by the committee that studied this issue. On this point, we are very happy. This will help us meet Canada's international commitments on protecting our marine biodiversity.

We have been lagging well behind for a long time, and it is impossible for us to meet the 5% marine conservation target in 2017. We cannot create marine protected areas simply by snapping our fingers. It is more complex than that. This bill has several flaws. For one thing, it does not include minimum protection standards. That is unacceptable. We cannot have marine protected areas unless we state the minimum standards that will be in place to protect them.

That is one big problem with this bill. Another is that the bill gives the minister far too much decision-making power over which activities are permitted within a marine protected area. This is a major problem, as I will explain shortly.

Let me give some background. Canada made a commitment to the international community to protect 5% of its marine areas by 2017, a virtually unreachable target, and 10% by 2020. This is an ambitious goal, one that will require much work on the part of the current government, but if we do things right and spare no efforts in the process, we will be able to meet it, or at least come close. These are the targets we committed to when we signed the Aichi Convention on Biological Diversity, but they are nowhere near the target levels recommended by our top scientists and environmentalists.

They are recommending that we far exceed those targets. They are even asking that the targets that have been set be minimum targets and they are saying that, if we want to protect our marine biodiversity and habitats, we should exceed those targets.

I spoke about the beluga whale, which was an endangered species and is now at risk of becoming extinct.

According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, when a species is endangered, we need to ensure its natural habitat is identified and protected. As a result, we should have a lot more protected habitats, including those of marine species. There are many threatened and endangered species whose habitats are not protected.

To date, Canada has protected only 1.5% of its oceans through the creation of marine protected areas. We are not even close to meeting our objectives.

Countries such as Australia and the United States are already protecting 33% and 30% of their oceans, respectively. There is a marked difference between the protection that we provide and the amount of protection being offered by countries similar to ours.

The current situation is far from satisfactory, particularly if we do not have any minimum protection standards for MPAs.

What does that mean? Linda Nowlan, a lawyer for West Coast Environmental Law, gave a clear explanation as to why these minimum standards are so important. She said that the proposed amendments are useful short-term additions to the federal Oceans Act and related oil and gas laws, but they could and should go much farther. She also said that, for the long arm of the law to be truly effective, we need even stronger legal powers like minimum protection standards. Ecological integrity must be the top priority in MPA management.

When I was a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, the issue of ecological integrity came up on several occasions, particularly when we were talking about creating new parks. Ecological integrity is just as important when it comes to creating new terrestrial parks. All scientists, environmentalists, and experts pointed out that there could be no turning back in that regard. It is extremely important that we continue to protect ecological integrity.

We cannot allow harmful oil and gas development or fishing activities, such as ocean dragging, in our marine protected areas, just as large-scale mining operations are not allowed in Canada's national parks. That would be ridiculous, and yet that is exactly what this bill would allow if it does not include minimum protections. We want to fix that.

In my region, in Quebec, and in Atlantic Canada, there is an excellent marine protected area project under way, the Laurentian Channel. It will be the largest protected area of its kind in Canada. This unique ecosystem is located at the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and is home to several endangered species. It is a great example of a great project that must be promoted.

Unfortunately, the government would allow oil and gas exploration within this MPA, which sets a dangerous precent. We are very worried about this, as are many others. Furthermore, it would also allow future fossil fuel reserves and seismic testing, which is very dangerous because of its detrimental and even deadly effects on many marine species.

One expert stated that the government absolutely wants to reach its targets, but that it is taking shortcuts to do so. In other words, its measures are detrimental to the protection of species and their habitat.

Sylvain Archambault, of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, a biologist I have spoken to a few times and who advises me on marine protection issues, mentioned that the federal government risked setting a very worrisome precedent by opening the door to oil companies. He also added, “Why bother creating a marine protection zone designed to protect biodiversity, if activities that are completely incompatible with the protection of this biodiversity will be allowed?”

I could go on all day quoting experts, environmentalists and scientists who say that it makes no sense to establish marine protection zones without having minimum protections in place. I gave the perfect example of the Laurentian channel, the largest MPZ project in Canada. We want this project to go ahead, but we are very concerned. We do not want a precedent to be set because there would no longer be any restrictions. For that reason, this bill must be amended as soon as possible.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, the member for Drummond talked about the goals and objectives of marine protected areas. Time and again, Canadians heard in our consultations, which we have been tasked to have, that there are no goals and objectives set forth. The government has not specifically communicated what these goals and objectives are. The hon. parliamentary secretary mentioned earlier that by opposing Bill C-55, the Conservatives are against marine protected areas. That could not be further from the truth.

My hon. colleague commented on the size of a couple of countries and their marine protected areas. Canada has the longest coastline, which has been mentioned before, about 243,000 square kilometres, which is vast. The next longest one is Norway's, at about 80,000 square kilometres.

Would my hon. colleague agree with me that in terms of marine protected areas, we must state our goals and objectives clearly? Doing so would drive our consultations. Regardless of whether it is one year, two years, or seven years, getting it right is fundamentally the right thing to do.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to get up and speak about conservation, something that we, as Conservatives, know a lot of about and have done a lot about. When we were in government, I note that we were able to increase by 50% the amount of protected area around Canada. This is an accomplishment that is unrivalled in Canadian history. For example, we set aside the world's first protected area extending from the mountaintops to the sea floor, which would be Haida Gwaii; the largest freshwater protected area, which was the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area; a sixfold expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories; and three new national wildlife areas in Nunavut, protecting close to 5,000 square kilometres of marine, coastal, and terrestrial habitats, including the world's first sanctuary for bowhead whales. It goes on. There is so much more I could talk about.

Canadians understand that we should be protecting our environment. One of the keys to achieving that is to make sure our conservation goals are ambitious and that our conservation strategies are effective. I am looking at the bill before us, Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. Now, there would be those on the Liberal side who would have us believe that this is a conservation piece of legislation. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

If one actually reads this carefully, this is about the Liberal government doing an end run on those people who should be consulted before we set aside any marine protected area. We are hearing that from all over. We are hearing it from the territories, which have expressed significant concern about the lack of consultation that has taken place. We have heard it from the key stakeholders from one ocean to the other. For example, let me just go to some of these concerns.

From the east coast fishery we have the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association that says it:

...understands the requirement to protect marine environments, but we do have concerns surrounding the tight timelines to accomplish these goals. [We are concerned about] the displacement of fishers...we must also consider the independent owner-operator fleets and their significant financial contribution to the economy of Canada.

The concern is raised that small businesses that are fishers, the processors that rely on the fishers themselves, and even the recreational anglers and fishers have not been consulted adequately.

Let us go to the west coast fishery. Jim McIsaac, managing director, BC Commercial Fishing Caucus says, “We need to engage stakeholders from the start, not bring stakeholders along at the end”,which is what the Liberal government is doing. “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.”

That is what stakeholders are saying about this bill. What it is doing is avoiding key consultations. Let me paint the picture for everyone about why this bill is even here. Countries around the world have recognized that if we do not protect the earth's biodiversity we are going to pay a huge price for that. Under the auspices of the United Nations, countries like Canada came together and said that they should establish targets for setting aside marine protected areas and terrestrial areas so that over time they achieve protection of the biodiversity of our globe.

Canada decided what its target would be. By the way, this happened under the previous Conservative government, which I was very proud to serve in. That government said that it would set a target of 17% for terrestrial areas by the year 2020, but for marine protected areas it would be 10% by the year 2020.

Now, for some reason, during the last election, the Prime Minister thought it would be a smart idea to one-up the previous government, and said that he could do better, that he would do 5% by the year 2017, not 2018 as someone mentioned earlier.

Two years have elapsed, and what has the federal government done? What has the federal government done to achieve the 5% by 2017 goal? Absolutely nothing. Now it is scrambling to try to get some legislation in place that will allow it to do this by fiat, top-down government.

Let us imagine this, we have less than three months left to go before 2017 is history. The federal government promised that by this year it would have 5% marine protected areas set aside. It realizes now that it is not going to achieve that, because to do so properly would require ongoing consultations with the key stakeholders. These are the stakeholders I mentioned earlier, the fishers, the recreational angling industry, those who depend on the processing industry.

There is also the mining, and the oil and gas industries that have to be consulted. These are areas that many of them have concessions. They have invested billions in exploration. They have invested billions in securing rights. In order to impose these protected areas on them, they have to be consulted. Compensation has to be talked about, compensation to be paid to large businesses and smaller businesses that derive their livelihood from the sea.

What do we see happening here? We have a Liberal government that made a promise, like so many other promises the Prime Minister made in the last election. In fact, the Liberal government is a monument to broken promises. It is a road littered with broken promises. This is another one where the Prime Minister promised that we were going to achieve 5% marine protected areas by the year 2017. Now that we are getting close to the end of 2017, the government has run out of runway, and is now asking how it will do this. Then it says that it will pass legislation that gives it the power to just, boom, impose this on the different communities around the country. Then after the fact, it will consult. After the fact, not before.

I would refer members to the mandate letter that the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard was given when the government was elected, and he was appointed to the cabinet.

One of the mandates is, “Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to increase the proportion of Canada's marine coastal areas that are protected—to five percent by 2017, and ten percent by 2020”. Then it goes on to say “supported by new investments in community consultation”. That is what the Liberals are doing an end run around.

If we look at the mandate letter that was issued to the minister, it talks about strengthening the middle class and those working hard to join it. We hear that every day in this House, and it is not happening because the Liberals are dumping on small business. Time and time again, they are undermining our small business sector.

With this bill, the Liberals are again undermining the economic viability of the small businesses that operate in these proposed marine protected areas. It is a scandal.

We can go through this mandate letter and see the commitments that supposedly the minister was making to his Prime Minister, and it is just a record a failure. It talks about setting a higher bar for openness and transparency. This bill, this end run, has nothing to do with transparency. It undermines transparency and openness.

I am looking at this piece of legislation that should have been about conservation but instead is about the Prime Minister not being willing to acknowledge his mistake in making a commitment that he could not keep. He made many promises during the last election. We knew he could not keep them, but he kept making them. Time and time again, he would make a promise, and he would break a promise. He is doing it again. Now he is trying to cover his tracks.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back in the House of Commons. It really is a typical day in the House, because we are talking about broken promises of the government and its failure to consult properly. We deal with that fairly often here.

The issue at hand is the government's legislation, Bill C-55. In its desire to window dress its failure to meet its promises with respect to marine protected areas, it now wants to be able to make interim designations of marine protected areas. That would be done without the normal process of consultation and a fulsome review that would happen under a typical proper designation of a marine protected area. It is trying to give itself the power to do this through this legislation, effectively circumventing what is supposed to be and has historically been the consultation process for these marine protected areas, and it is doing so in an interim way to try to catch up with what in reality has been its failure to keep its promises.

We see this across the board with the current government. In so many areas, it is failing to keep the commitments it has made to Canadians. It is trying to disguise that through its shabbily designed consultation processes. We have one example in this legislation. Another example that many people are talking about today is the failure of the government to consult and to keep its promises to small business. In the summer, it came out with a set of proposals with respect to small business. What it put forward in the middle of the summer was an incredibly unpopular attack on small business that it planned to undertake, but there has been a large backlash in response. It was so important to the government, in fact, that the Prime Minister talked about these proposals during his speech at the United Nations. Apparently, hundreds at the United Nations were thought to be interested in hearing about the current government's plan to raise taxes on small business.

The government, in spite of coming out with clear proposals and draft legislation as part of its start of consultations, realized just how intensely unpopular these were because of the strong response by the Conservatives. Therefore, it is now trying to couch this in different ways. However, we know in reality that it is going ahead with trying to squeeze small business because it is desperate for revenue. Because of its failure to keep its promises in so many different areas, it is facing a revenue squeeze.

There are multiple different areas where the government is failing to consult properly, where it is not listening to what Canadians, businesses, and others are telling it, and where it is trying to cover up its failure to keep its promises. In this legislation, we are talking about marine protected areas, but we could talk about its failures with respect to small business.

When the Liberal government took power, it announced initially that it would no longer keep its promise to reduce the small business tax rate down to 9%. Let us remember that these were tax reductions that were already booked by the Conservative government. Small businesses were counting on them. In fact, every party had made that promise. However, we saw the government reneging on that commitment.

There have been repeated failures to listen, to consult properly, and to follow through on its promises. Another area where we saw the government fail to properly consult was in the debacle with respect to its electoral reform proposals. It had promised that the last election would be the last one under the first-past-the-post system. What happened to that? All of a sudden it was not in its interest to keep its platform commitment.

Here with the legislation now before us, we see another example of the way in which the government is trying to change the process, in this case around marine protected areas, and to back away from its previous commitments on consultation. Because it now realizes that it will be difficult to keep its commitment to having a certain amount of protected areas in place, it is coming up with this mechanism of an interim designation. However, this is out of step with the kind of consultations that we would expect to have, especially for something this important.

Our party, our caucus, is very much in favour of having a proper process for designating and protecting marine protected areas. We had a proper process, and I think we were able to make substantial progress on this. However, what we are not seeing from the government at all is a real plan to move forward with the proper process of designation. In general, it is trying to jump the process. It is trying to skip ahead by not having proper consultation at all. On that basis, I am proud to join my colleagues in opposing this bill.

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the House

October 16th, 2017 / 6:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our hon. colleagues for their speeches and their interventions in the House today, and on Bill C-48.

I listened to the debate intently, and heard it over and over again. It is very similar to what we have heard from the government time and again, whether it was on Bill C-55, which was earlier today, on the marine protected areas, or electoral reform, or the tax measures that the government proposed earlier on and is now backtracking on. It is very interesting. It comes down to consultation. It comes down to the fact that this has nothing to do with really banning tankers on the west coast, but has to do with slamming shut anything to do with a pipeline to get our product from the Alberta oil sands to the west coast and to get our product to other markets.

I should be really clear that there are approximately 4,000 ships or vessels each year that go in on the east coast, in terms of oil or petroleum-based tanker traffic. On the west coast, oil or petroleum-based tanker traffic represents less than 1% of the vessels that are arriving and departing off the west coast ports which is about 200,000 vessels each year, using 2015 numbers.

It was about 1,487 vessels total for 2015. It is interesting, and I know that other speakers have mentioned this, that it is okay for over 4,000 vessels each year, to go in through the east coast with over 600,000 barrels a day of foreign oil from some of the worst contributors of human rights violations in the world. It is okay for us to be reliant on foreign oil, but far be it for us to be self-sufficient and actually be able to get our product to market on the west coast.

This is really about shutting down the opportunity of the pipeline that was going through my riding of Cariboo—Prince George, one that had a lot of first nations' support. A lot of first nations became equity partners in this program that could have lifted some of our most vulnerable communities up. Instead what we are seeing is that those opportunities have gone away. Just recently, the Hereditary Chiefs' Council of Lax Kw'alaams, which is a community that would have been impacted by this, came out publicly and said, and there have been many who have been mentioned as well:

....we categorically reject interference of outside environmental NGOs (especially those foreign-based) who appear to be dictating government policy in our traditional territory.

That is talking about why we are moving so quickly to implement this tanker moratorium.

Canada has the largest coastline, over 243,000 kilometres. We also have some of the most stringent safety standards. I want to talk about some of those safety standards that we have. We have marine inspectors who board oil tankers that ply Canadians waters to make sure that they have double hulls. We do that because, as has been mentioned before, of the terrible, disastrous incident that happened with the Exxon Valdez in 1989. After that, the global oil shipping industry made a 25-year phase-out plan that banned single-hull ships. As of 2010, there have been no single-hull ships, massive tankers that have been shipping oil, plying the waters of Canada. There have been no single-hull tankers. We have marine inspectors who go out and check that.

Again, a lot of times the Exxon Valdez incident is used to shut down pipelines or have tanker moratoriums. It is used to anger and facilitate a lot of opposition in these areas.

Interestingly, the Liberal government approved Trans Mountain or Kinder Morgan. It said that it approved it, but we have not seen anything about it. That will facilitate 900,000 barrels of oil per day to that west coast port that is right among communities, and an interior passageway, and that is okay. However, to have an economic development project in the northern part of our communities, one that was critically important and had national interest, was nixed.

I look forward to the next nine minutes or so that I have to speak the next time that this debate comes up.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 29th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for North Island—Powell River.

I want to thank the government for presenting the proposed legislation to the House for debate.

No one on our planet has officially declared them an enemy but, make no mistake, our oceans are under attack. Canada has pledged to the international community to protect 5% of Canada's marine areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020, with the aim of halting the destruction of habitats and ecosystems to protect our oceans.

To date, Canada has only protected 1.5% of its oceans with marine protected areas, and we are falling behind. China is at 1.6% and Japan at 5.6%. Australia and the United States are much further ahead, with 33.2% and 30.4% protected respectfully. Canada needs to set strong protection standards in line with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and set legislated protected targets, if it is to meet its international commitments.

While Bill C-55 is unquestionably a step forward, it is a small one, with many glaring weaknesses. Two glaring weakness I would like to address directly are its failure to address the specific threats posed by marine debris and plastics in our oceans, and that it does not acknowledge the need for direct, permanent, and easily accessible funding for marine and coastal debris cleanup.

One of the greatest threats to the health of our oceans is the disposal of plastics into these beautiful bodies of water, be it accidental or purposeful disposal by cargo ships, so-called “ghost gear” lost by fishers, derelict fishing and pleasure craft, human waste from tourism and recreation, or the careless disposal of single-use consumer plastics. We are rapidly destroying our ocean and coastal ecosystem with plastics.

A study conducted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in Great Britain found that plastic production has increased twentyfold since 1964, reaching 311 million tonnes in 2014. It is expected to double again in the next 20 years, and almost quadruple by 2050. If humanity continues down this path, the ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050 plastics will outweigh fish. Therefore, by 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish.

While Bill C-55 and the ocean protection plan has some good measures, I find it baffling that there is no mention of either the word “plastic” or “debris” in the proposed legislation. Therefore, to illustrate the threat posed to our oceans and coastline with debris and plastics, I would like to highlight two local cases from Courtenay—Alberni: the Denman Island and Baynes Sound industrial debris epidemic, and the Hanjin debris field between Tofino and Ucluelet on the west side of Vancouver Island.

The Denman Island and Baynes Sound debris epidemic is caused by the local shellfish industry activity, although other sources have contributed to this problem.

Baynes Sound is home to 50% of all the shellfish aquaculture produced in British Columbia. In fact, 38% of the herring spawn on the west coast runs through Baynes Sound. Herring is critical. It is critical to our salmon, which is also critical to our orcas. Everything is interconnected when it comes to our sensitive marine ecosystems on the west coast.

Since the onset of DFO-regulated aquaculture, Denman Islanders have cleaned up between four and five tonnes of aquaculture debris each year in their annual cleanup initiative. The shellfish industry is a vital local economic driver, and it has made a serious effort to reduce its waste. However, it is the dedicated volunteers, local residents, who have engaged in these cleanup initiatives on many days and weekends each year, and they receive no official support or funding from the federal government.

The Hanjin debris field between Tofino and Ucluelet on the west side of Vancouver Island is well documented in the House. However, it bears mention, given the nature of the bill and the government's continued inaction on marine debris.

The Hanjin debris field was caused when 35 large shipping containers fell off an international cargo ship last November. It was the locals who came to the rescue as huge metal pieces of cargo spread along our coast. There were large swaths of styrofoam connected to those metal pieces that spread out. However, government inaction has actually increased the cost of cleaning up the spill.

This spill occurred in November. We were in the House raising this concern, calling on the federal government to take action, but it did not support this call to action. It was the government's negligence that allowed this spill to spread, and now it is costing local communities thousands of dollars to clean it up.

I have to applaud Pacific Rim National Park Reserve staff, because they appealed to the bankruptcy court of the shipping company, Hanjin, and they received $76,600 from the estate. That money went back to Ottawa within a month of this incident, yet Ottawa sat on that money until May before it started releasing it to the community to do the job. It is unbelievable to see how inept the government was at getting the money back to the community to do its work. This tripled the cost to the community.

The government itself has contributed nothing to this cleanup effort, which was one of the largest marine debris spills on the west coast. This is the government that takes pride in saying that it has a great ocean protection plan. It claims to be looking out for us and protecting our coast, but we on the ground know what it looks like.

It is volunteer groups like the Pacific Rim chapter of Surfrider that came to the government's rescue. These are great Canadians, who have put aside their own time in the community to protect the environment.

The Denman Island and Baynes Sound debris epidemic and the Hanjin debris field were the result of a massive amount of debris and plastic washing ashore along our beautiful coastline. That threatened our ecosystems. This debris was left there until volunteers engaged in tedious and lengthy cleanup efforts at their own expense.

I want to thank local groups like the Pacific Rim chapter of Surfrider. Clayoquot Action raised $90,000. People went out in barges and helicopters to remove this debris on their own, because they could not wait any longer. Denman Island Marine Stewards, CPOC, the Wild Pacific Trail Society, and Tla-O-Qui-Aht First Nation tribal parks are groups in my riding alone that stepped up to the plate because of government inaction.

Nationally, we see there are groups like the World Wildlife Foundation and West Coast Environmental Law. Ocean Legacy is a group that goes up and down the coast collecting marine debris. It has received nothing from the federal government today, except for $25,000 for the Japanese tsunami debris. It took eight months for that money to get back to the communities after Ottawa sat on it while debris lined up along our coast.

The Vancouver Aquarium and University of Victoria environmental law centre are also doing great work to raise awareness about the need for federal action on marine debris.

I want to compliment these groups. These are great Canadians, and the government has not had their backs. Instead of empowering them, it has disempowered them by leaving them hanging out to dry.

It has been local governments, like the District of Tofino and District of Ucluelet and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, that recently came to save the day after local volunteers collected tonnes of marine debris and trash and put it together in super sacks. The Pacific National Park promised to pick up the debris and remove it, but it ran out of money. The local communities were told that they could not finish the job. It was the local government that stepped up to the plate, because it was not going to betray local communities like the federal government has done so far.

Again, I want to compliment those local leaders for making sure that they have the local people's backs. They are truly committed to keeping our marine and coastal ecosystems clean. They want the government to feel the same way and to be partners in their efforts, directly and permanently, with accessible funding to support their work.

The government keeps talking about its ocean protection plan. I will tell the House what it looks like so far. The government made an announcement on derelict vessels and committed $6.8 million over five years, roughly about two boats a year, despite the fact that it has identified 600 abandoned and derelict boats. It will take about 300 years to clean up the abandoned and derelict boats with the way that the Liberals are going.

Washington state is a great model. My colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith has presented her Bill C-352, which contains a comprehensive coastal-wide strategy to clean up abandoned vessels. The government could adopt this legislation, but it has decided not to.

There is the coastal restoration fund on salmon. The government has not given money to communities like mine, which desperately needs it.

We have seen how the Liberals have handled marine debris. We have seen how they have failed to deliver marine training, as they promised, to indigenous communities. The Liberals are falling well short of delivering on their ocean protection plan to coastal communities.

I want to close my remarks by thanking the government for tabling the bill. We will support Bill C-55 at second reading, but the government needs to set minimum protection standards and targets for zoning for marine protected areas. It renders the designation inconsistent at best and meaningless at worst, if they do not do something to deal with the ramifications of everything and have everything interconnected.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 29th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak today on an issue that is so important to the people I represent in North Island—Powell River. The history of my riding is defined by its surrounding marine environment. The ocean is important to our culture, economy, and identity. The richness and biodiversity provide enormous potential for both present and future generations. The ocean provides numerous opportunities for commercial, recreational, and aboriginal fisheries; tourism; transportation; education; and biological research.

Today I am happy to be speaking to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. This act deals with marine protected areas, or MPAs for short. Despite supporting this bill, I hope to convey in the latter part of my speech that we, the New Democrats, have serious questions about it.

We need to be proactive in our conservation efforts to protect marine ecosystem functions, species, and habitats for future generations. Many ecosystems are under threat. A healthy and productive ecosystem is key to achieving sustainability and the harvest of living ocean resources.

In 2010, Canada agreed to marine conservation targets established under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to conserve 10% of coastal and marine areas, through effective management networks of protected areas and other affected area-based conservation measures, by 2020. The commitment was reconfirmed in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly's 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

Since signing the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992, Liberal and Conservative governments have dragged their feet. Where are we today? Canada has only protected 1.5% of its oceans within marine protected areas. Canada ranks near the very bottom of protecting our ocean biodiversity, following behind China, at 1.6%, and Japan, at 5.6%. Australia and the United States have come out on top, with 33.2% and 30.4% protected areas respectively.

The current process for establishing and managing MPAs under the Oceans Act is long and tedious. My support for this bill is based on the fact that it provides some new legal tools to speed up the creation of marine protected areas. Specifically, it would empower the minister to designate marine protected areas by order and to prohibit certain activities in those areas. This bill would clarify the role the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in establishing a national network of MPAs.

As a country, we are still falling short of our international commitments to protect our marine biodiversity. I see this as an accountability measure. When Canada fails to meet our targets, the minister can rest assured that the responsibility will fall solely on his shoulders. There is no more time for excuses.

Bill C-55 would increase ministerial powers to terminate private resource interests in MPAs and would create stronger penalties for those found violating the rules. Specifically, it would update and strengthen the powers of enforcement officers. It would 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 it would create new offences for a person or ship that engaged in prohibited activities within a marine protected area.

The issue of enforcement officers is a big concern in my riding. Many indigenous communities I represent have come to me wanting to do more than just watch what happens to the oceans in their traditional territory. They want to help. Repeatedly, these communities have talked to the minister's office about resources to train their people to support the protection and defence of their traditional lands. This is an area where the minister's office must start to move forward. When I think of the multiple spills in the ocean in my riding, for example, the indigenous people were there immediately. With the proper training, they could have supported the tracking of the impact, which we actually have very little information on. Protecting our oceans must include the people who have lived on the land from time immemorial.

As far as the MPA minimum standards go, these are steps in the right direction. However, to have a complete picture, one must look at what MPAs really do. In this context, we are not talking about marine protected areas in a generic context; we are referring specifically to the DFO program under the Oceans Act.

A marine protected area is an area of sea that forms part of the internal waters of Canada, the territorial sea of Canada, or the exclusive economic zone of Canada and has been designated under this section for special protection.

While this lofty definition to increase conservation is wonderful, there is little backing up how it will be done. Let me explain. This bill fails to set minimum protection standards and targets for zoning for marine protected areas, which would render the designation inconsistent at best and meaningless at worst. A lack of minimum protection standards for MPAs would make the rules so inconsistent and permissive that most MPAs would allow commercial fishing. One would even allow oil and gas exploration. I do not know how members feel, but I think oil and gas extraction is not compatible with conservation and should never be permitted inside a protected area. National parks have standards. Why can our marine areas not have the same?

According to Rudolphe Devillers, professor of geography at Memorial University, “Scientific studies have shown again and again that stricter protection provides greater biodiversity benefits”. Canada needs to set strong protection standards, in line with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and set legislated protection targets if it is to meet its international commitments.

At present, just over 1% of Canada's oceans are protected, an area just a bit larger than Nova Scotia. Only a tiny portion of our ocean, approximately 0.01%, is highly protected, meaning that no fishing or oil and gas extraction is allowed inside the MPA.

By not setting minimum protection standards, the Liberals are trying to appear progressive by almost meeting targets but have not made the hard choices to protect biodiversity. This is not only the NDP bringing up this important issue. Widespread opposition from environmentalists, from the WWF to CPAWS, has raised the issue. Fifteen university scientists from St. John's to Victoria have written to both the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change asking for stiffer conservation measures in Canada's 12 marine conservation areas as well as those being proposed for the future.

According to Linda Nowlan, staff counsel, West Coast Environmental Law:

These proposed amendments are useful short-term additions to the federal Oceans Act and related oil and gas laws, but they could and should go much farther. For the long arm of the law to be truly effective we need...stronger legal powers like minimum protection standards, and requiring ecological integrity as the foremost priority in MPA management. With a vast area in three seas within our boundaries—and the world’s longest coastline—Canada must implement a forceful, modern Oceans Act.

Bill C-55 would give the minister far too much latitude to decide what activities were permissible in an MPA. The minister would have the authority to list all the permissible activities that were ongoing activities in a marine protected area. The minister could also repeal the order that designated marine protected areas in the first place just five years later.

Liberal promises on ocean protection and environmental protection are still mostly talk. Canadians do not want to see more Harper targets and exemptions for the oil and gas sector.

I do not think we could discuss the protection of the environment without the involvement of coastal first nations. They are important parties in the decisions about how to conserve marine biodiversity and resources in B.C. As B.C.'s first peoples, coastal first nations have a long-standing historical connection to the ocean and its resources. While first nation community conservation areas have the potential to contribute to the MPA network goals, in most cases these areas would not qualify as MPAs, according to the definition. Bill C-55 makes no mention of this specifically. However, I know how important the sustained biodiversity in our coastal communities is, especially the ones I represent. In my riding, many first nation communities are spread across some of the most remote and beautiful places. They live on the ocean and are already doing the important work. An increase in training to support them in protecting the ocean just makes sense.

In my concluding remarks, I would like to ask the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to take a stand, listen to experts, and amend this act to include minimum standards for marine protection areas. Our planet deserves it.

I also hope that the Liberal government will finally fully implement the Cohen Commission recommendations. In my riding, there are serious concerns being raised about fish farms. This was a promise—

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 29th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. She is so passionate about protecting our oceans.

Sadly, Canada is doing next to nothing to protect our marine areas. With less than 1.5% of our waters protected now, the government says it wants to protect 30% by 2020. That is unthinkable. The Liberals got themselves elected on claims that they would make fighting climate change a priority, that they would engage in that fight, and that they would not be like the Conservatives. However, Environment and Climate Change Canada itself has said that current GHG emissions will make meeting our GHG reduction targets impossible and that there was not even a plan to reduce emissions.

Here we are then. We cannot reduce GHGs, we are building more pipelines, we have no standards for protecting marine areas, and we still subsidize fossil fuels.

How are we supposed to be visionary leaders if we cannot even implement all these bills? Plus, Bill C-55 is so flawed that it will prevent us from making any progress at all on environmental protection.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 29th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in the House this morning on behalf of the people of Barrie—Innisfil. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Edmonton Manning.

I will admit that the beautiful riding of Barrie—Innisfil does not have any oceanfront or coastline, but it does have a jewel of the central Ontario region, Lake Simcoe. My comments this morning will be more along the lines of transparency, consultation, and the inability, or inability, quite frankly, of the government to conduct meaningful consultation on issues that affect many Canadians.

Bill C-55 would amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. It would allow the government to effectively act unilaterally without consultation, consultation being a second thought. The government would be acting on its own in creating new marine protected areas, selecting areas to meet its own mandate to increase Canada's marine and coastal areas to 5% this year and 10% by 2020.

I am an MP of the almost landlocked riding of Barrie—Innisfil. It has some beautiful beaches and waters along Kempenfelt Bay and Cook's Bay. However, being the MP where Lake Simcoe is located, the government should be reminded of what positive action for protecting Canada's lands and waters by a federal government really truly looks like. The previous government took bold steps to add more than 220,000 square kilometres to Canadian federal parks and marine protected areas, an increase of more than 58%.

Canada's national parks provide outstanding examples of our country's natural landscapes, generate significant economic activity by attracting visitors from Canada and abroad, and provide Canadians with access to our natural heritage.

Under the former Conservative government, the national conservation plan expanded national parklands by tens of thousands of square kilometres and secured ecologically sensitive private lands. The previous government also understood the importance of Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay in Ontario.

Average phosphorous load levels for Lake Simcoe in the 1990s were well over 100 tonnes per year. Unprecedented funding commitments from Prime Minister Harper of nearly $60 million from Ottawa helped to improve environmental monitoring, conserve critical aquatic habitat, and reduce the discharge of phosphorous from point and non-point sources. I will add that tremendous work was done as well by the members for Simcoe North, York—Simcoe, Durham, and others, and, of course, Mr. Patrick Brown, who was a key advocate to the success of those programs with Lake Simcoe.

The action taken by Ottawa shows that annual phosphorous loads have significantly decreased and the health of our lakes, rivers, and wetlands is paramount to our future, but, sadly, not necessarily a priority for the Liberal government. Requests to continue the funding to further reduce phosphorous have fallen on deaf ears.

Along with saving Lake Simcoe, the previous government created marine protected areas in B.C., New Brunswick, and the Beaufort Sea, but it did it with consultation and did not give them any interim protection before those consultations occurred. Years of work by the previous Harper government will be undone by the Liberal government.

Affecting the major recreational assets, generating more than $200 million annually for the area's tourism and recreational industries was done by working with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, other local partners in Barrie—lnnisfil, and all the residents of the region. By partnering with angling, hunting, and conservation groups, we can ensure that our conservation efforts are good for the environment and good for local economies as well.

Unfortunately, Bill C-55 would stop the partnerships, all in the name of Liberal politically mandated targets, targets that would allow the government's Liberal friends to create interim protection, protection that would affect fisheries and recreational and tourist industries.

What is it about the government and consultation, or the lack of consultation? Delaying consultations and decisions for up to five years will only serve the Liberal targets, not commercial or recreational fisheries, industry, or academics. The Liberals do not listen to consultations. They did not listen on several issues, such as electoral reform and pipelines. A situation is happening now within my riding and that of Oshawa where Canada Border Services Agency offices are closing, without any consultation to stakeholders, politicians, and those who would be affected. They are again not consulting on major tax reforms that will affect Canada's small businesses, family businesses, family farms, and family health care in Canada.

Let me remind the minister and the government of comments from industries on Bill C-55. Consider it a form of consultation.

Callum Roberts, a professor at the University of York, said, “you want to build on a process of trust and goodwill, you don't then ignore what your stakeholders say...if in the end all you were going to do was cherry-pick...”.

Gerry Kristianson of Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia said:

My sector wants transparent and evidence-based decision-making...if government decides...on the volume of mail it receives, my recreational fishing constituency...is more than capable of engaging in that kind of activity.

Chris Sporer, the Pacific Halibut Management Association of British Columbia, said, “if fishermen are forced from productive, high catch per unit effort areas to less productive” there will be an increase in fishing time and an increased cost for less fish. He said that the “process needs to take into consideration and evaluate the ecological consequences of displacing fishing efforts...”.

I ask the government to forgo its current trend of non-consultation and instead listen and take note of their political agenda. It is not the environmental and economic agenda that makes Canada a leader in protecting marine areas. For that reason, the rest of the Conservative caucus and I will not support what the Liberals are trying to do.

There has been a lot of discussion on the issue by those being affected by this the most.

Recently, a Nunavut MLA read a statement in the Nunavut Legislature Assembly. I am not going to say which riding for fear of butchering it, but MLA Johnny Mike, who handles multiple cabinet files within the Nunavut government, slammed the federal government for not consulting. On September 18, he said that the potential impacts of Bill C-55 could be an absolute travesty for his constituency. He said:

...residents we are well aware of the potential in our offshore areas, which is used for economic opportunities today by interests from outside of Nunavut....this proposed bill for marine management and petroleum industry sector management which is being developed seemingly turns its legislative back on the people of Pangnirtung....The federal government never consulted any northerners or my constituents on what concerns they may have about this proposed bill.

He added that the provisions within the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement appeared to conflict with Bill C-55, specifically sections outlining Inuit access to wildlife and conservation area development within the Nunavut settlement area. It made him wonder whether this provision was used as the reasoning for Inuit not being consulted on this bill. He slammed the Liberal government, saying that it had no consideration for Inuit.

My understanding, not sitting on the fisheries committee, is that numerous stakeholders have come before the committee, outlining their concern, not just with this policy but also with the fact that their voices are not being heard.

When it comes to evidence-based science, we hear of a government that speaks about decision making that is evidence-based and science-based. The reality is that it does not come down to that with the Liberal government. It only agrees with evidence-based and science-based studies if they agree with its ideological position.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 29th, 2017 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. At the outset, while I understand that amending the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act would allow the Liberal government to meet its political target of 5% protection by 2017, by introducing this bill the Liberals have failed to follow through with their commitment to consult Canadians on issues of importance. The government flaunts its ability to consult Canadians, but is not consulting Canadians on the right things. That is what we call mostly “selective consultation”. For example, the government does not intend to consult Canadians on the interim marine protected areas, MPAs, it would seek to put in place once the bill has been passed. The word “interim” can be deceiving. Having these MPAs in place for up to five years would make it difficult to reverse the protection in years to come.

Another example of the government's inability to consult Canadians is Bill C-47 aimed at enabling Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, which I rose to speak to yesterday and on which law-abiding hunters, sport shooters, and collectors have not been consulted. When I was advocating for these Canadians yesterday, the members opposite said that my argument was bogus and phony. There are many more examples of the lack of consultation, but the final example I will touch on is the current government's proposed unfair tax changes announced in July of this year in the midst of Canadians' summer holidays. I have heard from numerous constituents on this issue, and the finance minister has refused to extend his measly consultation period, even though Canadians are begging for it.

Now I will get back to the topic of the day, Bill C-55. I would first like to read from the summary of the bill, which I have in my hand. In the summary paragraphs (a), (b), and (c), the bill's objectives read as follows:

(a) clarify the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to establish a national network of 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.

If passed the bill could completely alienate fishing grounds for other important marine activities for up to five years without adequate consultations with Canadians. Once an area has been placed under interim protection, it would become increasingly difficult to reverse as it would require removing protections that had been in place for up to five years. That by itself is a major problem. When we are talking about problems like that, which could become irreversible, we are talking about what could become a permanent problem that will take more and more efforts to fix. It is a recipe for failure and danger in the longer term.

This bill would put too much power in the hands of solely one person, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. That is an unprecedented granting of power to one person, regardless of who the person is, in which government, and in which area. By eliminating any requirement on the minister to rely on scientific evidence and by speeding up an MPA designation process with no oversight or consultation, we would put Canadians' jobs at risk in our coastal communities.

As I said, we are looking at selective consultation by the government. When it needs to consult, it neither consults nor takes a scientific approach. However, we believe that attention has to be paid to consultation when presenting bills of this calibre. We must make sure that our job is done, and take the time to do so.

Our previous government, through the national conservation plan, NCP, invested $252 million over 5 years to secure ecologically sensitive lands, support voluntary conservation and restoration action, and strengthen marine and coastal conservation. The Conservative Party is not opposed to creating MPAs by any means. In fact, we have championed conservation and marine protection in the past. All we are asking for is a balance between the protection of marine habitats and protection of the local economies that depend on commercial and recreational fishing. To that extent, I come back to the many stakeholders with expertise in various areas who have spoken at length about this, asking the government to consult more and to take its time in its approach to this.

MLA Johnny Mike from Nunavut said that he strongly opposes the bill, calling it an “absolute travesty” for his constituency. This is from a local politician who knows best, on the ground, what is going on and reflects his constituency's opinion.

The former MP from Nunavut, the hon. Leona Aglukkaq, is a strong advocate for the people of the north. However, she says that it seems that the government and its representatives have not consulted enough, have not talked to the people, and that the bill's poor consultative process was an insult.

I have other stakeholder opinions here that are along the same track on how the consultative process has been handled. The government rushed this in the second half of its mandate. This will be one of the signatures of the government: pushing a bill through without proper consultation and without a proper evidence-based approach.

Conservatives understand the economic importance of fish and seafood to the Canadian economy. In fact, the previous government focused on building on existing international markets, introducing new ones, and making significant investments in marine research, harbour infrastructure, the sustainability of lobster, and indigenous participation. However, by choosing to fast-track implementation of MPAs in order to meet its self-imposed political targets, the current government is doing a disservice to all Canadians.

On a final note, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans had studied MPAs. At the conclusion of its study, the committee concluded that understanding MPAs is quite complex. If the committee observed this at the end of its study and after hearing witnesses, it means that we have concerns on this and the approach taken by the government. Therefore, I encourage the government to take a pass on its bill. As my colleague, the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, said yesterday, take the time and get it right. To the government, to the minister, take the time and get it right.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 29th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Oshawa, and I would ask if you could give me a one-minute warning before my time is up.

It is always a pleasure to rise in the House to speak on behalf of my constituents of Chilliwack—Hope, especially when it comes to things that relate to fisheries and oceans.

Chilliwack and Hope are home to a large stretch of the Fraser River, which runs through the heart of my riding. It certainly plays role in our community, whether it is indigenous and sports fishing. These interests are represented and take full advantage of that great natural resource. Therefore, any time I can stand to talk about fisheries and oceans legislation, I welcome the opportunity.

We are here to talk about Bill C-55, which purports to set aside a percentage of the ocean as marine protected areas and ban certain activities from happening in those areas. As the member for Edmonton Manning just concluded, the main issue we have is that the government has failed to adequately consult with the stakeholders that will be most impacted by this decision, whether angling or indigenous groups. These groups have not been consulted, and there is real confusion as to what the government's plans are.

As the member for Cariboo—Prince George indicated earlier in the debate, numerous studies and witnesses have appeared before the fisheries and oceans committee and have shown that this is a slapdash approach that will not serve the environment, fishers or the communities to be impacted by the arbitrary targets set by the government.

I mentioned the Fraser River. All summer long, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans failed to adequately consult with or respond to the concerns of sports fishing interests on the Fraser River. They tried in vain, through numerous letters, calls, and contact with members of Parliament across the political spectrum, to get some action to get the river opened for sports fishing when other interests were exercising their right to fish. It was a real disappointment for the people in my riding, especially the Fraser River Sportfishing Alliance. It wrote to me and contacted my friend from Cariboo—Prince George and others. It was frustrated at the lack of response from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. We see this in Bill C-55 as well. It ignores stakeholders and their concerns with respect to fisheries policy.

In this case, the Fraser River Sportfishing Alliance supports conservation first and foremost. That is what it wants to see done. This is its primary concern. It wants the fishery to be there for future generations as it has been for us. It respects the constitutional priority that is given to first nations for food, social, and ceremonial fisheries. However, what it does not respect is a department of fisheries and oceans that does not respect it, that does not take into consideration the specific concerns it has raised, that does not provide any flexibility to allow it to use selective fishing methods, to allow its members to get out on the water with their kids and grandkids to exercise their right to enjoy that public resource.

I bring that up because I told the alliance that I would bring it to the House of Commons. It is endemic of the concerns we have with DFO's approach and with the approach of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to stakeholders that have a very real interest in how our fisheries are managed.

Another aspect of the bill is to prevent oil and gas development activity where these marine protected areas are developed. It is a real lack of consultation, which has again been a pattern for the current government. When it brought in its ill-advised top-down Arctic offshore drilling moratorium, it did not have the courtesy to give the premiers of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut a sufficient heads-up. It called them two hours before the announcement to advise them that offshore oil and gas drilling would be banned in the Arctic. What does that mean?

It meant that devolution to the territories meant nothing. It meant that Ottawa knew best, that decisions on what was best for northerners would continue to be made south of 60 in the Prime Minister's Office. That is a real step backwards when the people of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories specifically worked for years to get a devolution agreement that gave them the power over decision making on things like natural resources and energy, which was then stripped away by a press release from the Prime Minister's Office, instead of respecting our northern communities that would see a lack of economic opportunity.

Premier Bob McLeod said this felt like a step backwards. He stated:

We spent a lot of time negotiating a devolution agreement, and we thought the days were gone when we'd have unilateral decisions made about the North in some faraway place like Ottawa, and that northerners would be making the decisions about issues that affected northerners.

Peter Taptuna also said:

We do want to be getting to a state where we can make our own determination of our priorities, and the way to do that is gain meaningful revenue from resource development.

They want to control their own destiny when it comes to natural resource development. The federal government, with its Ottawa knows best approach, stepped in and killed that, very much in opposition of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut premiers.

Order Paper questions are an opportunity for opposition members to submit in writing detailed questions asking about the government's activities that relate to any matter we want to raise. When I was the former shadow minister for energy and the former shadow minister for fisheries and oceans, I asked questions on two occasions. I asked about the decision to conduct the offshore oil and gas exploration ban in the north, and I asked where the consultations were. What I got back was that the Liberals did not do the consultations before the announcement, but they were consulting now, after Ottawa had already made the decision. That is not the way it should be done. If we want communities to come along with us and to get community buy-in, we need to consult before we make an announcement.

We see the same pattern again with Bill C-55. The consultation phase is cut short, a decision is made by the government, and then it will consult now that it has said how it will to be.

It reminds me of the small business tax changes we are talking about right now. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance are not listening to Canadians. They are telling Canadians how it will be and are getting an earful because of it. Canadians want to have the opportunity to be heard. They do not want to be told how it will be. When I asked the government about this in Question No. 950, it said that no consultations were done in advance, that it would have them after the fact.

Another example was when the government arbitrarily shutdown the northern gateway pipelines project. I specifically asked if it had consulted with over 30 indigenous communities that stood to gain $2 billion in economic activity in their remote northern communities, where economic activity is a bit scarce. I asked the government to show me where the consultations were. It said that there were none, that it did not have an obligation to consult, so it arbitrarily shut down the project.

This is the pattern of the government. It says that it will consult when it wants to delay making a decision. When it wants to put off the tough choices, it hides behind consultation. When it already knows what it will do, when it has its Ottawa knows best approach, there are no consultations. The consultation is after the fact.

The Conservatives will oppose Bill C-55, because of this same approach to a lack of meaningful consultation and because Ottawa knows best. That is not the approach the government should take, and we cannot support it.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 29th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, as the MP for Oshawa, of course I do not have an ocean coastline in my community, but we certainly have an active fishing community in Lake Ontario and in our northern lake country. As a son of a proud navy officer, I spent most of my formative years in Nova Scotia. Indeed, I want to say hi to my family in Sydney.

Yesterday, many of my colleagues had an opportunity to rise on Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, so I will try not to be too repetitive here today. I am happy to be the voice for those affected by this most recent poorly thought out Liberal approach, because their Liberal MPs, unfortunately, will not be.

As we all know, the minister of fisheries and ocean's mandate letter instructs him to:

Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to increase the proportion of Canada’s marine and coastal areas that are protected—to five percent by 2017, and ten percent by 2020—supported by new investments in community consultation and science.

I want to highlight the part of that mandate letter about consultation and science. The Liberals' attempt to achieve an artificial political timeline has led them to rush a bill that has lacked exactly that: proper consultation and science. Are any of us in the House surprised? The Liberals are becoming notorious for limiting consultation periods in order to pass their own agenda and silence the public. Sadly, as I said in question period, a local issue that is very important in Oshawa is the Liberals' decision to shut down the Canada Border Services Agency office in my community. Typically, I found out after the decision was made. There was no consultation with local politicians, businesses, or stakeholders. This is going to affect families in my community, job creators, and businesses.

The Liberals are consistently putting artificial political timelines and ideology ahead of local interests and families. This seems to be the rule, not the exception. We have also seen it with their apparent consultation on their small business tax increases, on which the Minister of Finance made it very clear that the consultation would not change the direction of the government. We are seeing it again now with Bill C-55. The minister said that the government is not going to change direction on it.

What really is Liberal consultation? I say it is arrogance. There is no intention to listen. They have made up their mind: Ottawa knows best. Rather than consulting communities that will be most impacted by the Liberal plan on marine protected areas, the minister has fast-tracked this process. Sadly, the Liberal MPs from the Maritimes who are hearing from their constituents about this very issue are doing and saying nothing.

The Liberal commitment to protect 5% of marine and coastal areas by 2017 will result in enormous areas from coast to coast to coast being closed to commercial and recreational activities. Again, Liberal MPs are invisible. They are saying and doing nothing. In fact, a large number of academics, industry, commercial, and recreational fishing groups have come forward to speak against the minister's MPA targets within the current time frame. Why? The Liberal government's targets cannot be achieved without extensive consultation and a rigorous effort to prioritize the needs of local communities.

If the Liberals will not listen to Canadians affected by their rushed decisions, let me put what some of the stakeholders have said on the record. Maybe that is the only way the Liberal government will hear. These are the comments of those who will be directly impacted by this arbitrary timeline.

Leonard LeBlanc from the Gulf of Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board said:

The process DFO used to approach harvested associations and consult on the areas of interest for designation was unorganized and totally not transparent.

Ian MacPherson of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association said:

The PEIFA understands the requirement to protect marine environments, but we do have concerns surrounding the tight timelines to accomplish these goals.

These are quotes from Atlantic Canadians. I would like to remind everyone again that every single Atlantic seat is held by a Liberal member, including the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard himself. Unfortunately, they are silent.

There is another important quote by Mr. MacPherson:

The displacement of fishers from one community to another as a result of an MPA would shift the economics of the island. Throughout the consultation process, fishing areas were discussed, but not the economics of how a large MPA along the small coastline of Prince Edward Island would impact the island.

I could go on.

I am very curious to know whether Liberal members elected by Atlantic Canadians will listen to their constituents and vote against this bill due to the lack of scientific, economic, social, and cultural information taken into consideration.

Speeding up the MPA designation process could have significant impacts on the economy, as stated earlier, leading to job losses and fisheries closures in the coastal communities.

Let me make this very clear. The Conservative Party is not opposed to the creation of MPAs. In fact, we have championed conservation and marine protection in the past. I was very proud to be part of the previous Conservative government that launched the national conservation plan, the NCP, which invested $252 million over five years to provide a more coordinated approach to conservation efforts across the country. We took steps to add more than 220,000 square kilometres to federal parks and marine protected areas. That was an increase of more than 58%.

Under the Oceans Act, we accomplished the protection of three new marine protected areas. The first one is Musquash Estuary, in New Brunswick. The second is Bowie Seamount, off the coast of British Columbia, and the third is Tarium Niryutait, in the Beaufort Sea. We developed our conservation policies and were successful because we respected the economic aspirations of local residents and always focused on building a stronger economy from coast to coast to coast.

The Liberals, however, have not listened to Canadians. They have not been listening to their constituents, and to be honest, I do not think they are even starting to see the damaging consequences of the Prime Minister's agenda. The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard stated that he would take a balanced and fair approach. That is what he said, balanced and fair, in meeting the government's targets under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

He stated that the Liberal government was committed to a process that was transparent and science based and would consult with the provinces, industries, and indigenous peoples. That is what he said, except that Bill C-55 would allow the minister to make these designations without proper scientific review, which, not surprisingly, is a complete contradiction of his own promises and the Prime Minister's promises.

Let us remember that this is a government that promised to strengthen relationships with the provinces through consultations and collaboration, except, it seems, when most provinces and territories are criticizing the Liberal approach these days. With increased taxes, burdening legislation, and now giving themselves more power to unilaterally create MPAs that are not even backed by science, it seems that the Liberals' relationship with the provinces is worse than it was under the previous government. An MLA from Nunavut stated that Bill C-55 would be an “absolute travesty” for his constituency. He also stated that the federal government never consulted with northerners on what concerns they may have with the bill. It never consulted with northerners. That is sad.

Again, I repeat, the government needs to start making evidence-based decisions and to stop making political decisions that hurt Canadians. Liberals need to start listening to Canadians and ensure that the proper science backs up their decisions in establishing MPAs. Instead, they seem to be more concerned about their international commitments than jobs, growth, and economic development in our communities.

I will not be supporting this bill, because it seems that the Liberals' sole purpose here is to please other countries, even if that means hurting hard-working Canadians. I call on Liberal MPs to stand up for their constituents, not bow down to the PM who wants to create the world's first post-national state at the expense of Canadians. I cannot agree with a bill that eliminates consultation and evidence-based decision-making simply to meet these international commitments.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 29th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a real honour to speak to Bill C-55. I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Shepard.

Legislation and the policy of government must be based on logic, on science, and on sound consultation. I want to focus my comments on the process of consultation, which, I am hearing from Canadians in my riding of Langley—Aldergrove, is disingenuous and may be fake consultation giving the impression of consultation.

The Liberals, unfortunately, have a timeline they have set. It is often not well thought out. They set a target date, they make the announcements, and they move forward. Consultation is part of the optics, but their minds are already made up.

Bill C-55 would make the minister responsible for increasing the portion of Canada's marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020. For the previous government, protected areas were very important. There is a legacy of Liberal governments creating a mess and ignoring the environment and then Conservative governments being brought in to clean up the mess, and that has happened throughout Canadian history. That is what happened over the last nine years under a Conservative government. It increased the protected areas, but it was done based on science and based on consultation.

On a personal note, I love the environment. I consider myself an environmentalist. I spend lots of time walking in the forest. We have an invasive species called English ivy. In off hours, I get some exercise but also do tangible things to improve the environment around where I live. I cut off the bottom seven feet of English ivy that is growing around beautiful cedar trees. There is lots of cottonwood, birch, and alder. These trees will die if we do not take care of them and take off that invasive species, so I do that. Behind our townhouse complex in a beautiful pathway that goes through the forest. It is called Fairy Lane. We have not seen the Prime Minister with his shirt off running around through the forest yet, but maybe one day. For my wife and I, next month will be our 45th anniversary. Diane and I were married in 1972, and she is the best thing that ever happened to me. We like to walk in the forest and enjoy the environment.

As Parliament, we have a responsibility to make sure that we are protecting the environment for ourselves but also for the coming generations: our children, our grandchildren, and future generations. I am proud of the accomplishments of the previous Conservative government, but I am very concerned that the current Liberal government is making mistakes similar to those that past Liberal governments made. I am referring to past comments by the Environment Commissioner. The Environment Commissioner, relating to the past Liberal government, said that there is a gap between what the Liberal government said it would do and what it is actually doing. Good intentions are not enough. Another report from the commissioner, referring to the Liberal government, said, “When it comes to protecting the environment, bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground. The federal government seems to have trouble crossing the finish line.”

Nothing has changed, it appears. The Liberal government is making announcements, proclaiming there is going to be consultation, and then is moving ahead without basing it on science or good input.

There has to be a balance, and we have heard the Prime Minister say the right things about the importance of consultation and having a balance, saying that we can have a healthy economy and a healthy environment. That is true, but again, we have to have true, genuine consultation.

When designating a marine protected area, we have to consider the impacts on local economies in fishing, in forestry, in mining, and at all levels of industry and the environment. We need to base that designation on consultation, including first nations and aboriginals. For the knowledge we need, we need to consult, and it has to be genuine consultation, and that often takes time if it is done right.

In the middle of summer, when people were enjoying time with their families after working hard and paying increasing Liberal taxes, we had an announcement that there was going to be a form of consultation that would end on October 2. This consultation is on the new Liberal tax attack on small business. It is unfair, and that is what I am hearing over and over again. The consultations are town hall meetings that are being held at 3 p.m., when Canadians are at work, again evidence that it is disingenuous.

That applies to consultation on the environment, marine protected areas, taxes, and even the artificial target date of July 1 of next year, when marijuana is to become legal in Canada. On that consultation process that the government does not want to hear, police chiefs from across Canada and saying to slow down, that we are moving too fast and that the country is not prepared for some of these changes.

Generally speaking, the consultation process appears to be disingenuous. The government is not listening to Canadians.

At the very beginning, when this Parliament started, one of the first issues I was involved with was the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Consultation happened, and I sat on both the special legislative committee and the justice committee on that issue. In my riding and a neighbouring riding, we had town hall meetings, and I reported back to the committees what we heard. That was put aside because a Liberal member said it was just a moment in time, not really true consultation, and did not represent Canadians because it was a small group of people. They were people that we represent.

Unfortunately, if the Liberal members do not hear what they want to hear, it is not reported. It is dismissed. If we are going to have true consultation, we need to listen to Canadians. We need to hear what they are saying, report it to Parliament and adjust. We should not be stuck going in one direction, unwilling to listen or to adjust and create good policy that creates a balance between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

On Bill C-55, dealing with the marine protected areas, I want to make some very important points.

If we are not including consultation that listens and makes a difference, then we end up creating something that is rushed and does not have the desired impact. Rather than consulting communities that are most impacted by the Liberal government's plan, the minister has chosen to fast-track this process in order to meet the government's self-imposed political targets. Unfortunately, we will end up with a problem, another mess that a future Conservative government will have to clean up.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 29th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Langley—Aldergrove for his contributions to the debate so far. I am pleased to be rising to speak to this bill.

Alberta is really known for its coastlines.

There was not even a laugh in the chamber. I thought at least some people would appreciate that.

However, Albertans do care about coastlines. Members may have heard that for the past few years there has been a great debate on the construction of pipelines, for which Alberta is well known and for which Alberta has a lot of technical expertise.

Albertans are especially in pipelines that reach a coastline of some sort, so that we can sell our product at a higher world price. That is what has been consuming the interest, the time, and the debates in politics for the better part of the last few years in Alberta.

This bill to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act also deals with conservation and stewardship. When I worked in Alberta for the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, we were charged with the stewardship of not only Alberta's natural resources but also its wildlife, fauna, and aquatic resources. We do, indeed, have many of those. Some of the greatest inland sport fishing that can be done is in Alberta. No hooked barbs are used there. It all has to be done in our lakes and waters without any use of hooked barbs, so it takes quite a skilled angler to actually get it done.

Other members have already gone over some of the defects and some of the inconsistencies they see in the bill that the government has proposed, so I would like to focus my time on what is important when we are trying to talk about stewardship and protecting marine environments.

We should be measuring results by outcomes, not necessarily by whatever ranking we are trying to attain on some international statistic. We should not be using the government's stick to impose something on people. We should be using kind words and going out and reaching out to people, asking them what works in their particular area. That type of approach is the “Ottawa does not know best” approach.

Ottawa actually knows very little about places on any coast of this country, especially in our northern territories. People in those localities have a much better understanding of the local needs of the marine environment.

In the example I gave about measurements and ranking systems and international institutions grading different countries for reaching a certain goal or objective, the latter is good to have, but it is not the primary measurement goal. What we should be doing is asking whether we are reaching our own objectives. We, as Canadians, should be setting our own objectives, local communities' objectives.

It is not for Ottawa to set an objective of 1%, 2%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 30% or 40%. What do the local communities want? What are they talking about? What works for them? Is there one model for everyone? Could there be one model on the east coast, maybe another model on the west coast, and another in the north? Can it be made even more varied?

Can we say that we will call them MPAs, but within the MPAs we will allow it to vary and we will allow differences for different people? Can we also consult ahead of time?

I know the government has made a really big deal out of telling people that it is going to consult more and that the previous government did not do that. I feel that like most Liberal promises nowadays, this one should come with a warning label, such as “promise will be smaller than it appears” or “this promise may not be what it appears to be”.

I thought we were on the receiving end of science-based decision-making, which a lot of this proposal lacks. If the government is going to be moving ahead with forcing an MPA onto a local community or region or area, and then deciding after the fact whether it achieves all the goals we wanted to achieve or even to vary what an MPA is, then should it not be based on the best possible local science available first? Should it not be more transparent and have more consultation?

It seems that what the government is doing is very much the opposite. The government is giving the minister a stick to be used against local communities, instead of using kind words and enabling the minister to do the job in a more consultative manner.

What did the Liberals promise in their party platform in the last election? In the environmental section, they actually spent more time talking about Stephen Harper than they did about the marine environment. It is a seven to four difference. Maybe there should be a Stephen Harper protection area created. It could be all of Calgary.

In the document, the Liberals spent a lot more time complaining about what was not done before and saying that Stephen Harper did all these terrible things, and that in the marine environment the Liberals would do X, Y, and Z. However, they talked very little about the actual objectives.

The fisheries and oceans committee met and heard witness testimony. The member for Barrie—Innisfil quoted Sean Cox, a professor at Simon Fraser University, so I will not go over that particular point, but it provided valuable input. He said:

MPAs aren't likely to be effective scientific tools, either.

That was a direct quote.

He also said:

Just enforcing MPAs would be hugely expensive. Again, if you're looking at it from a fisheries management point of view, it's far more cost effective to do other things that don't cost that much.

He continued:

Looking at some of the previous testimony, there was a claim that there was overwhelming scientific proof that MPAs are beneficial and widely successful. I think that was misrepresentation of the actual science. Stephen just cited some of the studies that find that they're not broadly successful.

He was not saying that they do not work, but just that they are not as broadly successful as they are made out to be. Therefore, it is really a matter of what the content of the MPAs are. Do they match local community needs? Will they achieve their goals?

Brian Clark, an environmental adviser and registered professional biologist with Pacific NorthWest LNG, asked the following: “Where are the no-go zones? What are the thresholds for impacts?” He also said that “we need specific plans for coastal areas of high industrial activity.”

He added that “there is a lack of clear process for integrated coastal planning that leaves proponents to develop strategies in an information vacuum.” However, that information was collected from the local community. If we impose upon them an MPA and then say that we will formulate what it will actually be later on, what the permanent plan for the area will be, we will create anxiety, panic, and fear. It is like what the Liberal government has done with the small business tax changes it is proposing with a 75-day consultation window. To me, this seems like more of the same.

We have leaders from the territorial governments who have come out and openly attacked this proposal, Bill C-55.

Not to belabour the point, other members have mentioned that the MLA Johnny Mike, who is also the minister of the environment of Nunavut, openly attacked Ottawa. I have a headline that reads, “Nunavut MLA attacks Ottawa, Inuit orgs on proposed federal law.” I have another headline entitled, “Northern premiers present united front against Ottawa”, which is always a great headline for a government to have when it is two years into its mandate.

I will quote from that article:

To industry, the premiers delivered a message that they want to make investment in the territories more attractive rather than increase “regulatory complexity or uncertainty.”

That is exactly what this will create. It is an Ottawa-knows-best approach, one in which we have a box that we are going to impose on a community, a community that will have to live with it and comply with our plans and what we want to do.

Another headline, dated August 31, from Yellowknife is entitled “Territorial Premiers discuss plans to create strong sustainable North.” The article states:

Northern Premiers appreciate the federal government’s interest in improving the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, and recognize the increase in federal oceans protection commitment by 2020. However, the proposed amendments to...Bill C55 allow for the creation of...[these interim MPAs] by a federal minister without prior consultation. This amendment should not be part of Bill C55.

When we have northern leaders telling us that we have it wrong, we should go back and ask, “What did we get wrong?” When they are telling us that those types of amendments should not be in this bill, we should commit to removing them right away or, even better, we should just remove the bill and start over again. That is what I have said that the Liberals should do on many other occasions with many different bills. They should take the bill off the table, such as the access to information law they have proposed before the House and that has now gone to committee. They should go back to the drawing board and get it done right the first time.

I have a Yiddish proverb to recite, which I know many members are probably waiting for. I mentioned the Ottawa-knows-best stick. The proverb goes like this, “It's not the stick that helps but the kind word.” That is what the federal government should be doing. I will make a comparison here with the small business tax proposals the Liberals have brought forward. I think this is very much the same. We can see both sides of this. On the one hand, the government has said there would be 75 days of consultations, and then on the other hand, it had said that it will drop the hammer, leaving no time for small business owners and farmers during harvest to contribute to the debate and provide information on how their businesses will be affected. How will people in these communities be affected by MPAs when these marine protected areas are imposed on them? It is a one-size-fits-all approach for everybody. What works on the east coast will not work on the west coast. Even areas 100 kilometres apart on the same coastline might be different. We have heard it said many times in the House that we have the longest coastline in the world. What are we protecting it for if not for the local communities?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always a little more challenging to stop a speech or intervention mid-point and pick up a day later, which is what I am doing today. However, it is always an honour to have the opportunity to rise and speak in this House, especially representing the incredible riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap and in my role as deputy shadow minister for fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Rather than starting off mid-paragraph, I will briefly recap some of what I mentioned in my first half yesterday.

First, and most significantly, is that ministerial power would significantly increase under Bill C-55, if passed. It would reject scientific certainty as a basis for the designation of MPAs. Second, Bill C-55 would press inflexible timelines and would accelerate the process that has been used for many years for in-depth consideration.

Bill C-55 would significantly increase the power of the minister, allowing the government to no longer require scientific certainty or consensus among affected stakeholders before imposing closure or restrictions associated with marine protected areas. That may be just what this minister wants, but is that in the best interest of all Canadians?

It has been said that the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard already possesses more power than any other minister in cabinet under Canada's current legislation. However, we know that this minister will be replaced, and believe me, we on this side are working hard on that. This minister will be replaced by another minister, and another one after that. All this power placed in the office of one individual may seem okay in the short term, but no one can predict what the long term will bring.

First nations, fishermen, cargo shippers, tourism operators, conservation groups, academics, and many other stakeholders would continue to face the consequences of the government's frantic and half-baked approach to speeding up the process of establishing MPAs, among other things they are doing.

Our Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans is currently studying the criteria and process for establishing the MPAs, because we have seen a government hell-bent on reaching a political target. The government seems to be either oblivious to or callous about the havoc its decisions would wreak on the workers and residents who depend on marine and coastal areas for their livelihoods and subsistence.

The government has reneged or failed on so many other political campaign promises that it is now desperately trying to meet its unrealistic timeline to deliver the MPA campaign promise. In moving forward with this bill and short-circuiting the consultation process, the government fails to realize that it is breaking another one of its campaign promises, the promise of delivering openness and transparency.

In recent days we have witnessed the government short-circuit the debate and consultation process for its tax change proposals, effectively quashing debate in the House, but even more so, across Canada. Canadians are continually complaining to our offices in phone calls, emails, and letters. It has been unending, yet the government fails to hear it.

The government is refusing to listen to the thousands of small businesses and family farms that will be financially harmed by ham-fisted tax grabs that will not touch the family fortunes of the Prime Minister or the Minister of Finance. In the same way, through Bill C-55, the government is trying to eliminate the long-established structures and processes for engaging Canadians who will be affected by the new MPAs.

In the course of the fisheries and oceans committee's ongoing study, the committee has heard directly from a number of witnesses who have testified that the process for establishing MPAs should not be rushed.

For example, Ian MacPherson, executive director of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association, stated that his association:

...understands the requirement to protect marine environments, but we do have concerns surrounding the tight timelines to accomplish these goals. The first step to designating a ministerial order MPA is to gather existing scientific, economic, social, and cultural information on the area. Prince Edward Island is a small province driven by small fishing communities. The displacement of fishers from one community to another as a result of an MPA would shift the economics of the island. Throughout the consultation process, fishing areas were discussed, but not the economics of how a large MPA along the small coastline of Prince Edward Island would impact the island.

Time and again during the committee's examination of the criteria and process used to establish MPAs, we have heard how essential it is to consult with local first nations and stakeholders. Consultation is essential to preventing displacement of traditional uses. Consultation is essential to avoiding undue fishing pressures on adjacent areas that may not be sustainable.

The committee has also heard from Chris Sporer of the Pacific Halibut Management Association of British Columbia, who stated:

Further, if fishermen are forced from productive, high catch per unit effort areas to less productive ones, this means increased fishing time and the need to use more gear to catch the same amount of fish. If you increase fishing time, that means more fuel. That means greater carbon emissions. More gear means increased benthic impacts and the risk of bycatch, for instance, of things like seabirds, something that we've worked very hard in our industry to minimize.

During his testimony, Mr. Sporer also stated that:

The MPA process needs to take into consideration and evaluate the ecological consequences of displacing fishing effort, but it also needs to take into account all the sustainability measures that have been implemented to date. At present they're not being factored into the analysis.

I support protecting our coasts and offshore marine environments, but these protections must be in the right place and developed over the right time frame, with clear objectives that can be measured on a scientific basis and with all the support of locals and Canadians who will be affected.

What I see in Bill C-55 is the ability for the minister to use unrestrained power, without the backing of scientific certainty, to impose restrictions and closures with complete disregard for the culture, heritage, livelihood, and interests of Canadians.

I also see that proposed section 35.3 of the bill proposes a strict timeline of five years from the time an interim MPA is designated by the minister for the government to render a decision to either issue a permanent designation for the MPA or repeal the interim order. This timeline flies in the face of testimony and anecdotal evidence that shows that seven to 10 years are required to thoroughly establish an MPA. How can the government so blatantly choose political expediency over respect for Canadians? The government must recognize and respect the essential value of engaging Canadians affected by the proposed MPA, to hear their concerns, to receive their perspectives, and to respect their opinions.

If the government fails to fulfill these important steps, it prejudices the future sustainability of the MPA. As the government tries to discard scientific basis and democratic consensus from the MPA process, it runs the acute risk of undermining the legitimacy of future MPAs.

There are documented warnings that the government is rushing into our MPA process. If we cannot recognize the mistakes of rushed MPA processes that have happened elsewhere around the world, we run the same risk of repeating them here in Canada. I call on the government to step back from this bill's attempt to further accelerate and exacerbate the MPA process and reset its timeline for achieving MPA objectives.

That is what is needed to ensure that Canadians, especially those who will be most affected by MPAs, are able to factor into the MPA development process.

It is not what one does, it is how one does it that counts. I certainly hope that the government can put its own political interests aside in this instance and do what is right for the people of Canada.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question for the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap comes from direct experience in my own riding, where there has been a proposal for a national marine conservation area for some time. It is described in the government documents as the Southern Strait of Georgia national marine conservation area. It is known within our community as the Salish Sea conservation area. To give the member an idea of how long the proposal has existed, it was endorsed in 1972 by Jacques Cousteau.

I believe that Bill C-55 is long overdue to create mechanisms to speed up the process of establishing marine protected areas. I have many questions for the Liberal government and I have amendments that will come forth in committee, but I just want to put on record that I do not agree with the idea that this bill would give the Minister of Fisheries unwelcome draconian powers.

I would ask my hon. colleague if he does not think that after waiting from 1972 to 2017, we might be able to do something to speed up the process.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join my hon. colleague from North Okanagan—Shuswap in talking about amendments to the Oceans Act and the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act. The title somewhat bothers me, but I will speak about that a bit later.

My hon. friend from North Okanagan—Shuswap is compassionate about fishing in the interior and coastal waters of British Columbia. I have talked to him many times. I believe he is quite an expert on that, much more so than I am. However, both my interests and my heart lie in some of the points in Bill C-55 that deal with consultations with the aboriginal community, communities, businesses, and stakeholders.

I sat on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Last year, our committee presented a report entitled “Taking Action Today: Establishing Protected Areas for Canada's Future”. I believe it was an excellent report that all parties on the committee worked well on together. I have to commend our chair, the hon. member for King—Vaughan, who led us to prepare that unanimous report, which was sent to the government. I see the government has jumped on parts of that report and has included them in Bill C-55.

When we were preparing that report, we heard from people from coast to coast to coast. We heard from a large number of aboriginal communities on the west coast, from the Inuit in the Arctic, from the aboriginals in the interior of Canada, and from aboriginal communities on the east coast in the James Bay area. There was one specific message they sent to us: consultation. I see that has been somewhat missed in Bill C-55.

I note the Prime Minister's mandate letter instructs the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to:

Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to increase the proportion of Canada’s marine and coastal areas that are protected--to five percent by 2017, and ten percent by 2020--supported by new investments in community consultation and science.

Let us look at those numbers. The government is hoping to reach 5% three months from now. As of June of this year, Canada was at less than 1% for coastal areas and protected spaces, and only at 11% for land and inland water protected spaces. Now we want to go from 1% to 5%.

Let us look back at the history of this. These numbers came from the Aichi targets that came out of the convention on biological diversity that was held back in 2010. Our Conservative government attended that conference. We agreed with many other nations around the world to establish protected spaces, both inland and on our coastal waters.

We agreed on 10% of coastal waters to be protected by 2020, and 70% of inland waters and lakes to be protected by 2017. However, as a government, we looked at those as aspirational targets. Could we reach them? No, not without proper consultations with our aboriginal communities, municipalities, provinces, and industry stakeholders. It would take a great amount of time and a lot of work.

However, we looked at those targets and agreed to those targets. We thought they could be reached. There is a large segment of environmentalists out there who think we should go much higher. In fact, during our committee's work, there were people who made presentations who thought 50% of Canada's coastal waters should be protected, and 50% of the inland should be protected. Those were unrealistic amounts.

I noticed it also stated in that mandate letter that since the designation of the marine protected areas, MPAs, would take several years, the Liberal government is introducing, through Bill C-55, an interim designation of significant or sensitive areas identified by scientists, through consultation with indigenous people, local communities, and other interested groups.

I would like to read part of the report that was submitted by our committee which was unanimous. It states:

Federal protected areas account for about half--45% terrestrial and 83% marine--of Canada’s total protected areas.

That is where we are at, but that is not the 17% or the 10%. The report continues:

Accordingly, collaborative action by all levels of government including Indigenous governments, landowners, industrial stakeholders and civil society is required to resolve issues of competing uses for land and water in order to achieve and exceed our targets. Protecting areas in the Arctic marine and boreal regions are of particular importance.

That is what the committee had proposed and sent to the government. However, the government, in its usual format of consultation said it was only going to listen to identified scientists. It was going to pick the areas because it was going to do this really quick. We have three months to do it, all of a sudden. The government is going to pick out 5% of our coastal waterways, and it is going to protect it, because the scientists are going to pick it.

Throughout the report, I thought we really talked about working with indigenous people, talking with indigenous people, talking with stakeholders, and talking with municipalities. That is not being done. The Liberals are not saying, they are dictating. They are dictating this. The scientists are going to tell them what land they are taking, and people are going to listen, and then they will have some consultations so they can say they had consultations. That is after the fact. After the fact is not what the report stated. It stated to have active consultation with all stakeholders.

I want to read another part of the report:

The federal government has a variety of roles to play to meet our targets. It must provide the leadership needed to ensure coherent and coordinated plans are developed to reach the targets. It must partner with Indigenous peoples to establish and recognize new types of protected areas in Indigenous territories while providing new opportunities for Indigenous economic development and advancing reconciliation. The federal government must also put its own house in order by coordinating its efforts, accelerating the establishment of federal protected areas and demonstrating political will, including through the provision of funding.

The Liberals do say that, somewhat, in Bill C-55 and, yes, we did recommend in Bill C-55 that we speed things up. However, to move to 5% in three months, by dictating the areas first and then start consultations after, is not what the standing committee reported to the government to do after listening to a number of witnesses across this country.

Again, a broken promise. The government does not even want to listen to its own members on the committee. It just wants to do as it sees fit, and expects people to follow suit.

I would like to go to another area of this report. One of the recommendations, in fact the first recommendation by the committee that studied this only a year ago was:

That a national stakeholder advisory group to advise the conservation body be established representing, among others, municipal governments, civil society, private landowners, conservation specialists, industry, academics and Indigenous groups; and that a process be put in place through which individuals, in particular Indigenous peoples, or organizations may suggest priority areas for protection.

Let us go back to what the Liberals are stating in Bill C-55. They state that by introducing Bill C-55, the legislation would allow for an interim designation of significant or sensitive areas identified by scientists.

Where in there does it say scientists? It says academics. It says aboriginal groups. It says stakeholders. It does not say scientists. I am not mocking scientists. Science is needed to establish these areas. However, the Liberals have gone completely, totally, against a standing committee that made very strong recommendations. Those recommendations were made on the information received from aboriginal people and stakeholders from coast to coast to coast.

However, it is not in the interests of the Liberals to follow the recommendations that were presented by the committee. They are just going to do as they see fit.

As I mentioned earlier, it bothered me to have the Canada Petroleum Resources Act thrown in with Bill C-55. Why focus on oil and gas? It appears, over the last little while, that the Liberals are attempting, any which way they can, to stop future oil and gas development in Canada.

I want to read recommendation no. 1 again. It says:

The federal government has a variety of roles to play to meet our targets.

It is not one specific target; namely, to get rid of the oil and gas sector in Canada. All we have to see, if we go from the last three or four months, or the last year, is that the Liberals want to probably change the strongest regulatory controls in the world held by the National Energy Board, the Alberta Energy Regulator, and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission. We have much scientific evidence that shows that these are the best anywhere. However, it is not good enough for the government. It is going to come up with new forms of stopping the oil and gas industry.

I want to read recommendation no. 22 from this report, entitled “Taking Action Today: Establishing Protected Areas for Canada's Future.”

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada place a priority on collaborating with indigenous peoples, northern governments, and stakeholders to protect highest ecological value arctic waters for traditional uses and future generations.

Is this being done? No, it is not. They are putting scientific evidence in there. They are telling them what areas they are going to pick. They are then going to consult with them, and basically tell them that this is what they will end up with.

On page 2 of the report, the recommendations refer to accelerating the establishment of national parks, national marine conservation areas, migratory bird sanctuaries, national wildlife areas, marine protected areas, and other federally protected areas, by establishing multiple protected areas concurrently; ensuring that no federal policy or legislation such as the mineral and energy resource assessment and the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act slows the process of establishing protected areas.

The committee did not say to get rid of that act, but Bill C-55 is saying that. Why did they just pick on the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act and not talk about the energy resource assessments or any of those others? They are just going after the oil and gas sector.

The report further talks about helping to coordinate the establishment of networks to protected areas: creating a federal protected areas system plan that incorporates not just national parks but all federal protected areas, terrestrial and marine, creating a mechanism for federal, provincial, municipal, and indigenous co-operation and encouraging public participation in the establishment of protected areas; and leading science-based assessments toward identifying protected areas, and so on.

They are using science to help, after we go through the consultation periods, meet with industry, the stakeholders, the indigenous groups, and we work together, united, Canadians, to come up with the areas that should be protected spaces.

I want to read a quote from a witness who appeared before the fisheries and oceans committee recently. Sean Cox is a professor at Simon Fraser University, and quite a leading expert in marine life. He said:

Looking at some of the previous testimony, there was a claim that there was overwhelming scientific proof that MPAs are beneficial and widely successful. I think that was misrepresentation of the actual science.

He went on to say:

Just enforcing MPAs would be hugely expensive. Again, if you're looking at it from a fisheries management point of view, it's far more cost effective to do other things that don't cost that much....

MPAs aren't likely to be effective scientific tools, either. They're not easily replicated. When you put in an MPA, it's subject to a high degree of what we call “location and time” effects. You can't just create a nice experiment where you have three of the same type of MPA in one place and then three control areas in another place. You just can't do that. They're wide open to outside perturbations, environmental changes that are not within our control.

If we want to build on a process of trust and goodwill, we cannot then ignore what our stakeholders have to say and consult only a minority of the protected areas that are being recommended.

This is what is happening with Bill C-55. They are going to tell the aboriginal communities. They are going to tell the stakeholders, “These are the areas we picked. Now we can sit down and talk about that”. Is that proper consultation? No, it is not. It is a completely opposite direction from what our report asked them to do.

He goes on to say that, as soon as we do that, we no longer have a network of protected areas, so it begs the question why we went to such elaborate lengths to put together these design criteria, if in the end all we were going to do was cherry-pick a few sites.

That is what is happening with Bill C-55: they are cherry-picking a few sites.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I totally agree that we need to work with the aboriginal communities. We need to fund aboriginal communities, wherever they be, whether it is the west coast, the east coast, or the Arctic. They are the true keepers of the land. Through traditional history, they know what has taken place and what may take place, and they are better equipped than any government body or organization to do such a thing.

We heard from many groups from the west coast when we toured there last summer, and we met and talked about expanding these protected areas. They very much want to be part of that. Our committee recommended that very strongly in our report. In fact, we recommended money be put forward and that it be ensured that they are part of these protected spaces.

I do not see that in Bill C-55. In Bill C-55, I see that the government wants to dictate and it wants to consult. I do not know how it is going to consult with everybody in three months. We need to take the time and effort, and we need to meet with our indigenous neighbours. When we make these new protected areas and they are picked, they should be picked in consultation with them, not with some scientists telling them. We should then work together to come up with a plan on how they can manage them for the government.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. Having just become a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, this is certainly an important topic for me, and I look forward to debate on this bill.

This bill would make a number of changes to the framework through which the government designates coastal and ocean areas as marine protected areas, otherwise known as MPAs. An MPA is defined by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as “a part of the ocean that is legally protected and managed to achieve the long-term conservation of nature.” Essentially, MPAs prohibit or limit certain activities in the area, depending on their impacts to the ecological features that are being protected. Therefore, the overall intent is conservation, conserving the environment and species within these protected areas.

I have always been a supporter of efforts to conserve Canada's lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal areas. While I know this is outside the scope of this legislation, I have served alongside a number of local sportsmen's associations in Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound to protect the local inland fisheries. Furthermore, I am very proud to say that Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound is home to Fathom Five National Marine Park. Established in 1987 as Canada's first ever national marine park, it protects the local environment, as well as allows Canadians to witness some of the cleanest and clearest water one will ever see. It is a benchmark for conservation efforts.

Conservation efforts are paramount to protecting our environment, but they must be done in the right way, with proper consultation, and must take into account a range of diverse issues, including the specific ecological needs of the area being protected, as well as social, economic, and cultural factors. It is my fear that Bill C-55, in an effort to promote conservation, will not give due consideration to the range of factors that must be considered when establishing an MPA.

Designating an area as an MPA can often take several years, as the process requires a significant amount of consultation with all stakeholders involved and a full assessment of the scientific evidence available. What Bill C-55 would do is create conditions for the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans to simply designate areas on an interim basis, and once the interim protections are in place, the minister would then have five years to recommend that the interim designation become a permanent MPA.

It is quite clear that this bill is in response to the Liberal Party's promise in the last campaign, which subsequently worked its way into the mandate letters of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Minister of Environment . Their Liberal platform stated that if elected, the Liberals would increase the amount of Canada's marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% by 2017, and 10% by 2020.

The provisions in Bill C-55 would certainly make delivery on this promise much easier for the government, but there are costs associated with moving at this unreasonable pace. We are again seeing the government move forward with a timeline that is strictly tied to a campaign promises rather than reasonable timelines. This makes for good politics, but it certainly does not make for good policy.

For example, once an area has an interim designation, it would be very difficult to reverse. Once the minister decides to deem an area as an interim MPA, there would be restrictions, regulations, and prohibitions put in place that would affect the use of the area for a full five years. What if, for instance, at the end of the five years, it is determined that the area should not be deemed to be an MPA? This could very easily happen. It would appear to me that this is a classic example of the old adage of putting the cart before the horse. It would be a much more effective process to fully examine all of the evidence in advance in a fulsome process to determine MPAs rather than just creating a piecemeal approach whereby areas are designated on an interim basis and then reviewed.

This is all the result of arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines that are unreasonable and will result in a rushed and, quite frankly, messy process. Already a large number of academics, industry representatives, and commercial and recreational fishing groups have come forward to oppose these targets. They state that speeding up the process will only increase pre-existing concerns surrounding lack of consultation, transparency, and inadequate science. That final point is the one I want to highlight, because I have deep concerns about a section of the bill that deals directly with the use of science in decision-making about MPAs.

In the summary section of Bill C-55, paragraph (d) states that the bill will “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...”

That goes away from what the government has talked about in some cases, in saying it wants to be science-based. It is an open door to basically ignore a lack of science. I cannot get my head around that one. Essentially, what it says is that even if there is no concrete, scientific evidence that an activity is affecting the local environment, the minister cannot use this as a reason to postpone or refrain from a designation.

For a government that is hell-bent on making evidence-based policy, I find this very odd, as do most Canadians. It is saying that even if there is no evidence at all, for example, that vessels are causing a disturbance to a local area, it will still forge ahead and prohibit the operation of vessels in a certain area. It makes no sense whatsoever. This is all despite having no evidence that the prohibition will result in ecological benefits either. Again, this offers the government another way to meet its arbitrary political deadlines.

At the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans we have undertaken a study of this topic to examine whether the current guidelines achieve the intended benefits of MPAs; assess the social, economic, and environmental impacts; and ensure that all traditional uses and values are respected when it comes to MPAs. We have just started hearing from witnesses this session. On Tuesday both the Cruise Line International Association and the Pacific Pilotage Authority expressed that they were quite concerned about how the proposed timelines would and could affect their respective industries.

I would like to take some time now to highlight what individuals from some communities have been trying to tell the government throughout this process.

Ian MacPherson of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association stated:

[The Prince Edward Island Fisherman's Association] understands the requirement to protect marine environments, but we do have concerns surrounding the tight timelines to accomplish these goals.

We can sense a theme here. He went on to say:

The first step to designating a ministerial order MPA is to gather existing scientific, economic, social, and cultural information on the area. Prince Edward Island is a small province driven by small fishing communities. The displacement of fishers from one community to another as a result of an MPA would shift the economics of the island. Throughout the consultation process, fishing areas were discussed, but not the economics of how a large MPA along the small coastline of Prince Edward Island would impact the island.

Fishing is the lifeblood of many communities on P.E.I. Protection of the environment is paramount, but it must be done in a responsible and prudent manner.

We all know that the new proposed Liberal tax changes will also be shifting the economics of the island when it comes to small business and local fishing businesses. By the way, just this morning at the fisheries and oceans committee, the Liberals rejected a Conservative motion to study the impacts of these changes on small fishing businesses and businesses that depend on aquaculture. Of course, the government members all voted against this motion. They do not want to talk about the damage that these tax changes would do to the fishers and other small businesses across the country.

There is no denying that the protections need to be in place to ensure the health of our waterways for future generations. We all get that. The Conservative Party is not opposed to the creation of MPAs. In fact, we have championed conservation and marine protection in the past, establishing three MPAs under the Oceans Act, including of the Musquash Estuary in New Brunswick, Bowie Seamount off the coast of British Columbia, and Tarium Niryutait in the Beaufort Sea. I apologize to anyone from any of those communities if I mispronounced those place names.

Additionally, the previous Conservative government invested $252 million over five years through its national conservation plan to secure ecologically sensitive lands, support voluntary conservation and restoration actions, and strengthen marine and coastal conservation.

Striking the right balance between the protection of marine habitats and the protection of local economies that depend on commercial and recreational fishing is critical. I, along with the numerous witnesses who have appeared at the committee, agree that the current Liberal government is failing to strike that balance. We understand the economic importance of fish and seafood to the Canadian economy from coast to coast to coast.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

To coast. To the member for Niagara Falls, that is one of his pet projects, and that is okay.

The previous Conservative government focused on building 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. Our fisheries are the lifeblood of our rural and remote coastal communities. They drive billions of dollars toward our national economy each and every year.

Rather than consulting the communities that would be most impacted by the government's plan on marine protected areas, the minister has chosen to fast-track this process to meet the government's self-imposed political targets. Speeding up the MPA designation process has the potential to have disastrous consequences in the form of job losses and fisheries closures if true consultation is sacrificed for expediency.

Jim McIsaac, the managing director of the BC Commercial Fishing Caucus, had this to say:

We need to engage stakeholders from the start, not bring stakeholders along at the end. We have to set outcome objectives, and the process should fit the objectives. We should build tools to fit the process and get the place and the scale right for that.

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.... We need a way to bring all available knowledge into these.

Consultation should not be done with the objective of checking a box and ramming through changes. The dialogue that was happening at committee and is playing out in the media is important.

It is not just the fishermen who would be affected by Bill C-55. The bill has the potential to impact resource projects and create lengthy delays in the approvals process. It would also give activists and non-governmental organizations the right to lobby the government in an attempt to achieve interim protection for a specific area, regardless of the science. That, again, is one of the main problems with this bill. This could alienate fishing grounds, marine activities, or resource projects for up to five years without adequate consultation or science.

It is interesting that the Nunavut minister, Johnny Mike, used his member's statement in the Nunavut legislature last week to speak specifically to the Liberal government's lack of consultation when it came to Bill C-55. He said:

As Pangnirtung residents, we are well aware of the potential in our offshore areas which are used for economic opportunities today by interests from outside of Nunavut....

This proposed bill for marine management and petroleum industry sector management which is being developed seemingly turns its legislative back on the people of Pangnirtung. The federal government never consulted any northerners or my constituents on what concerns they may have about this proposed bill.

I was in Pangnirtung when I was chair of the transport committee. It is a beautiful little community on the northeast shores of Baffin Island. We opened the first Arctic small craft harbour there. I would urge members, if they get a chance, to go there. It is a rural community. It is remote, and the dependency the residents have on the water is immense. I cannot say enough about the value of it to them. Therefore, the residents want to look after the quality of that water so that they have fishing available for them and their families for generations to come.

When I hear about this lack of consultation with people like Johnny Mike and his constituents, I think that sends a signal that we do not really care what they think and we are going to go ahead and do this. That is not the way to do things.

I have used almost the entirety of my speech to show that the Liberal government is once again ramming through a political agenda with no care for the people on the ground who would be directly affected by these changes. Local government, industry, and family businesses are shoved aside. The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard needs to stop playing politics with our fisheries and come up with a real plan that will support high-quality, well-paying jobs in our coastal communities. We should not be punishing the very individuals who want to come up with a fair plan for the environment and for our oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams.

Instead of expediting this dangerous piece of legislation, we should be working together with these groups that clearly want to be involved in this process. We should take the time, look at the science, and truly engage our stakeholders. Let us figure out what has worked and what has not and base our decisions on legislation on true consultation. If we go ahead and put in interim MPAs without having done that, we could, in the long run, delay the process and harm an area with unintended consequences.

I urge the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and the other 30 members from Atlantic Canada to rethink this legislation and take the time to get it right. We all know what the value of the fishing and seafood industry means to eastern and western Canada. I know that it would be in the best interest of all their constituents to speak up on this, do what is right, and consult in a proper way.

I will conclude by presenting an argument from academics who have commented on MPAs in the past. This particular article expresses concerns about moving forward with designations too quickly when it comes to MPAs. The article states:

In promoting MPAs it is important that there is a good understanding of the conservation science underlying marine protection in terms of the factual foundation and long-term implications. Ignoring this may lead resource managers and policymakers to make ill-informed decisions regarding MPAs, resulting in poor MPA design and performance.

In closing, I urge the government to heed this advice. Stop moving forward with these arbitrary deadlines, abandon the plan for interim designations, and ensure that MPAs are established based on fulsome consultations and thorough review of all scientific evidence.

I would like to say that if the government makes the right amendments to the bill, there may be surprisingly more support out there than the minister may have thought. However, until that is done, I will be voting against the bill.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member and a number of the concerns he has spoken of today. I must admit that I am a little surprised. I had anticipated that the Conservatives would be more sympathetic to the legislation. I do not quite understand why they would oppose something that advances what all Canadians are concerned about. Our oceans affect us all, the entire country from sea to sea to sea, in a real and tangible way.

The bill would move Canada forward not only in terms of our taking a progressive step forward internally but also in terms of continuing that international point of view. It clearly demonstrates that part of our Canadian values is to better understand and appreciate what takes place in our oceans. It is a part of our very fabric as Canadians.

The oceans have provided economic and social leisure, and all sorts of other benefits to us as a society. We all understand and appreciate their humongous economic impact. If one wants to get a better understanding, one should talk to the Atlantic caucus, where concern for our oceans and making sure that we are moving forward are hot topics all of the time. That is not to take anything away from our B.C. caucus, which is also a very strong advocate and supporter of the legislation. Of course, being from Manitoba, some might think it is landlocked, but it is not because we go right up north to Churchill. Even in Yukon and our other territories we have been fortunate as a nation to have what I believe is the longest ocean coastline of any country in the world. Given that background, one would expect to see something positive from the government.

I often talk about the many different accomplishments of this government, and we always highlight the middle class because that is our first priority. However, the number of things we have accomplished in these past two years is noteworthy. This particular piece of legislation will also make a difference. Therefore, I would encourage the members of the Conservative caucus to revisit their position on Bill C-55, because it does provide some tangible benefits.

The Government of Canada is committed to increasing the proportion of Canada's marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% this year, and 10% by 2020. That is a significant amount of territory. It demonstrates very clearly that the government is truly interested in what is taking place in our oceans and wants to protect them wherever it can.

We talked about achieving these targets, and the members across the way made reference to the issue of science. This is a government that generally believes in science, unlike the former Harper government, which at times was challenged on that issue. Rest assured that we will use the sound science that is out there to at least provide us with the necessary guidance, and also to support very transparent decision-making by this government. Those are the types of things we are very much committed to.

The act clarifies the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to establish a national network of protected areas. That is something of substance, yet the Conservatives do not seem to think that the bill is moving us forward.

It would empower the minister to designate marine protected areas by an order prohibiting certain activities in those areas. I do not quite understand why the Conservatives would oppose that outright. If they looked at the principles in the legislation, they would find that it is good, sound legislation that would in fact make a difference. They should support it and then look at ways to enhance or change it when it goes to committee.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 27th, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalMinister of Fisheries

moved that Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to speak in the House on this important legislation at the beginning of second reading debate. It is the first chance I have had as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to speak on a piece of government legislation in my portfolio, so you can imagine how pleased I am to be standing in the House today and to have a chance to talk to colleagues about an important element of our government's agenda.

Canada is uniquely blessed with an abundance of freshwater and marine coastal areas that are both ecologically diverse and economically significant. Our government knows that we have a responsibility to steward these resources for future generations.

In my mandate letter, I was asked by the Prime Minister to increase the proportion of Canada's marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% by the end of 2017 and to 10% by 2020. I am pleased and proud to say that thanks to the efforts of so many people and so many organizations, we will meet these targets. It is a commitment we made to Canadians, and Canadians should know that we will meet this important obligation.

Internationally, Canada's commitment to meet the 10% target was confirmed when we signed on to Aichi target 11, under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and again, in 2015, when we supported the UN General Assembly's 2030 sustainable development program. These efforts have garnered multi-party support over many years, and I want to thank colleagues on all sides of the House for their commitment to protecting Canada's marine resources.

Our approach to achieving Canada's marine conservation targets includes creating marine protected areas and networks, and is guided by three foundational principles: science-based decision making, transparency, and advancing reconciliation with indigenous groups.

Co-operation is essential to advancing our marine protection work, and we are working with the provinces and territories, indigenous groups, industry, and other environmental stakeholders to establish networks of marine protected areas.

We are committed to furthering reconciliation while these zones are being established. We strive to work more closely with indigenous groups, including Inuit communities, of course, to inform the process and make the most of their traditional knowledge.

Our government has a clear plan to reach these marine conservation targets. Not only is this plan guiding our domestic efforts, it is also helping us reclaim Canada's position as an international leader in ocean conservation. We are making excellent progress. We have now protected 3.63% of Canada's marine environment. At over 200,000 square kilometres, this new total includes long-term fisheries area closures, which the Prime Minister referred to a few moments ago in question period.

The first piece of our plan is to finish what was started, to complete the designation of marine protected areas that were already in the regulatory process. We currently have 11 Oceans Act MPAs in all three oceans. This year alone we have announced the establishment of the Hecate Strait MPA, off British Columbia, which provides protection for globally unique glass sponge reefs, which are thousands of years old. We also created the St. Anns Bank MPA, off Cape Breton, which is home to many endangered species, such as the leatherback turtle. There is more on the way as we progress with the establishment of, for example, the Laurentian channel and Banc des Américains MPAs as well.

Last month, my colleague the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced the final boundaries of the Lancaster Sound national marine conservation area. This was a very significant step, obviously in partnership with the Inuit people. The boundaries of this marine conservation area, the largest in Canada, were developed by the federal government in collaboration with the Government of Nunavut and are located in the Northwest Passage. This area is of particular importance, as it is home to one of the largest narwhal populations in the world.

The second point in our plan is to protect large offshore areas. In May, a new area of interest in the offshore Pacific was announced. This new area of interest will protect underwater seamounts and a series of hydrothermal vents, recognized as unique marine ecosystems in our offshore.

Our development of this network of MPAs speaks to the third point in our plan: to protect areas under pressure from human activities.

We have made great progress on the fourth part of our plan, which is to develop guidelines to identify other effective area-based conservation measures. These other measures are an important part of our marine conservation tool kit, which is recognized by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Thirty-two closures of fishing areas reflect our rigorous criteria and will help us meet our conservation targets. Other measures will be proposed in the future.

The final point in our plan addresses the need to establish marine protected areas faster under the Oceans Act, but without in any way sacrificing scientific research, socio-economic activities, and our consultation and co-operation efforts with our partners.

Bill C-55 speaks directly to that last point. The proposed amendments will streamline the process of creating new marine protected areas while guaranteeing their protection. These amendments are collaborative, in that they will require the participation of indigenous groups, provinces and territories, industry, and other stakeholders in the process of creating and managing MPAs.

For instance, pursuant to the minister's new authority to delegate enforcement powers, indigenous groups like the guardian watchmen or other environmental groups could be granted enforcement powers to monitor protected areas in their waters. The amendments can improve our marine protected areas, though not at the expense of our working relationships, of course.

In short, Bill C-55 proposes amendments to the Oceans Act to more clearly reflect my responsibility, as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, to establish a national network of marine protected areas.

I would like to focus on a few major changes, if I may. Currently, it takes seven to ten years to officially designate an Oceans Act MPA. Through all those intervening years, the potential MPA gets no protection at all. The solution we propose in Bill C-55 is to provide interim protection for these vital, unique areas in Canada's oceans by means of a ministerial order. This will be done after the scientific assessments and the initial consultations, in just 24 months, while the rest of the federal regulatory process to designate the MPA unfolds over the following five years. It may still take up to seven years for an MPA to be fully established, but interim protection could be provided within the first two years.

Currently, an Oceans Act marine protected area can only be designated through Governor in Council regulations, which do not offer any protection to an area of interest until the final designation regulations are published.

The lengthiness of this current process is due in part to the time required to take scientific assessments and broad consultations. These are important steps that ensure an MPA achieves its intended objectives while supporting the local culture and obviously, the local economy.

However, we know there is often a clear understanding from the beginning of what needs to be protected. For example, we may know that a species reproduces only in a certain area of the ocean, or that glass sponge reefs are a priceless natural wonder that need to be protected, even if we may not yet know all of the specifics of how these species are affected by surrounding ecosystems, boat traffic, or fishing activities.

Establishing boundaries and conservation objectives through an interim protection MPA would mean a much shorter timeframe, ensuring that while scientific research and stakeholder engagement continues, the essential elements of these important ecosystems are, in fact, protected.

An interim protection MPA would protect an area by effectively freezing the footprint of ongoing activities until the final regulations are completed, as I said, within five years. Only ongoing activities, those activities that had taken place, for example, within the preceding year, would be allowed to continue. Allowed or prohibited activities would be determined by the class of the activity, not according, obviously, to the individual or company conducting those activities.

This bill would require application of the precautionary principle when deciding whether to designate new MPAs. The precautionary principle means that the absence of scientific certainty should not be used to postpone decisions where there is a risk of serious or irreversible harm. Under this legislation, incomplete information, or a lack of absolute certainty could no longer be used as a justification for avoiding the establishment of a marine protected area where there is a significant and immediate risk.

Bill C-55 also updates, modernizes and strengthens enforcement powers, fines and penalties.

Provisions relating to enforcement, fines, and penalties will support the people who manage and monitor marine protected areas.

Enforcement officers will get the tools and authority they need to manage marine protected areas.

Bill C-55 also proposes amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act that would complement the freeze-the-footprint process of an interim marine protected area. These would provide the competent minister the authority to prohibit authorized oil and gas exploration or development activities, like, for example, seismic testing, drilling, or production, within a designated marine protected area.

Proposed amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act recognize that where there interest of an oil and gas exploration and development overlap with a marine protected area, ambiguity and uncertainty in the effectiveness of the prohibitions could sometimes result. Natural Resources Canada and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada would continue to discuss with all of our partners how this principle could best be operationalized.

I would like to briefly describe what we have been doing to engage with our regulatory partners, indigenous groups, and other interested parties, familiarize them with proposed changes to the act, and address their concerns.

In recent months, we have met with provincial and territorial representatives, indigenous groups, and stakeholders in the fisheries, marine transportation, and oil and gas sectors, as well as environmental groups and a number of other Canadians.

On the whole, we have received broad support for the proposed changes. For the most part, Canadians are happy with what we are doing to protect our unique and precious marine ecosystems.

I would like to talk about something this bill does not set out to do.

The proposed changes are not meant to short-circuit the development of reliable scientific data or deprive Canadians of the opportunity to contribute to the creation of interim marine protected areas. Our government knows that the effective management of Canada’s oceans depends on an in-depth understanding of the marine environment acquired through peer-reviewed science, the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, as well as information from the fishing industry and local communities.

This kind of comprehensive study and mobilization takes time, something that certain vulnerable areas of the ocean might not have. That is why we are proposing the implementation of the precautionary principle, in conjunction with the option to use ministerial orders to ensure immediate interim protection. In light of the concerns of industry stakeholders, we will apply the precautionary principle judiciously.

Many people fear that we do not have sufficient scientific resources to carry out the work needed within the five-year timeframe following the ministerial order, or that the precautionary principle could serve as an excuse for not doing any research at all. That is false. Our commitment to science and data collection remains unwavering. We have heard people's concerns, and we agree that our fundamental principle of science-based decision making must not be compromised under any circumstances.

In conclusion, if Bill C-55 would speed up marine protection without sacrificing science, or the ability of Canadians to shape this important process, then I hope all members of the House would join our government in enacting this legislation. This is a powerful step forward that our government is making on one of the key commitments we made to Canadians by protecting 5% our marine and coastal areas this year, and by 10% in 2020.

I am happy to be participating in this important debate today. I look forward to working with colleagues on all sides of the House, and members of the standing committee should this legislation get to committee, to ensure we have all of the details of this important legislation right. We look forward to hearing from Canadians in the committee process of not just this House but also the other place.

If we work together on the shared objectives that Canadians care deeply about, such as protecting our marine resources for future generations, then Canadians can be proud of the work that this Parliament is doing, and we can improve not only the protection of valuable ecosystems but also the economic livelihood of coastal communities all across the country.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 27th, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for his presentation on Bill C-55. I also recognize the point by the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam that these targets have basically been in place for 25 years now.

There is a reason that the targets have not been met. It is because these marine systems are extremely complex, difficult to understand, and it takes a long time to consult with whoever may be affected. However, the bill would impose a five-year limit on whether an area would be permanently protected or not, and there is no wiggle room: either it is, or it is not after that five-year timeframe.

If there is a need for more consultation, more consideration, why not allow for that possibility in the bill?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 27th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. I want to start my speech today by saying that we all agree that there are things that we can do better. We want to keep our rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans pristine, not just for today but for the future.

Today I want to talk a bit more about the process. I will start with a quote because the minister spoke about the three or five-point plan that the government has with respect to its MPA process. One of those points was about the use of scientific data. We have had a number of witnesses at committee and time and again we heard similar stories.

I will start with this. Looking at some of the previous testimony, it was claimed that there was overwhelming scientific proof that MPAs are beneficial and wildly successful. I think that was a misrepresentation of the actual science. My colleague just cited some of the studies that found that MPAs are not broadly successful. Enforcing MPAs would be hugely expensive and unlikely to be an effective scientific tool. They are not easily replicated. When we put in an MPA, its effectiveness is subject to a great degree of what we call, “location and time”. One cannot just create a nice experiment where we have three of the same type of MPAs in one place and then three control areas in another place, because they are wide open to outside perturbations and environmental changes that are not within our control.

If we want to build on a process of trust and goodwill, we should not ignore what our stakeholders say and consult on only a minority of the protected areas being recommended. I offer that comment from Professor Sean Cox of Simon Fraser University. We have more.

One of the other points that our hon. colleague brought up was indigenous consultation and reconciliation. As the Hereditary Chiefs’ Council of Lax Kw’alaams, from our neck of the woods in British Columbia, states:

...we categorically reject interference of outside environmental NGOs (especially those foreign-based) who appear to be dictating government policy in our traditional territory.

My speech will not counter what our hon. colleague said and not step away from the importance of making sure that we are doing everything we can to protect our rivers, lakes, and streams. Rather, we will talk about the notion of consultation, which we like to discuss a lot in this chamber. As we have seen from the very beginning, it is just a word to the government. The action depends on who is there. The government likes to say that it is consulting.

Our hon. colleague stood in the House and said that it is important that the government is working collaboratively with the provinces and territories. However, is the government really listening, because we are still hearing from so many stakeholders that it is alienating them? Whether it is indigenous peoples or those whose livelihoods depend on these areas in remote coastal communities across Canada, the government is forgetting these people.

Whether it was on the electoral reform process, access to information reform, or the most recent proposal by the Liberal government to implement tax changes that will significantly harm the competitiveness of small business, we often hear it say that it wants to be the most open and transparent government in Canadian history. However, when it comes down to consultation, it is really just about ticking that off in a box to say that it did the consultation, that it met with those concerned. It did not really listen to them, but it ticked the box.

It has no real intention to make changes for the betterment of our communities or for the people who will be affected by the contents of its bills, like the one we are debating today. Our hon. colleague mentioned the spirit of working collaboratively with the provincial and territorial governments.

I believe he said, and it was a Liberal campaign promise, that they are going to work with all parties in the House to be more collaborative, yet we still get announcements through question period. Indeed, some of the Liberal MPs are finding out about government initiatives through the media.

Going back to the closure of our salmon enhancement program and the potential Coast Guard closures, some of the Liberal backbench MPs who are part of our committee found out through the media. Again, that is just not open and transparent.

Bill C-55 in its current state will have serious consequences for our tourism, shipping, and fishing industries. This is yet another nail in the coffin for our small communities and the businesses in our communities that rely on our waterways from coast to coast to coast.

Bill C-55 stems directly from the mandate letter to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, which instructs him to work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to increase the proportion of Canada's marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020.

Bill C-55 will allow for an interim designation of significant or sensitive areas, again defined by scientists through consultation with indigenous people, local communities, and others interested in the area. That is what they say.

Immediately when the Liberals start this, there is a five-year ban. Is it going to be a complete stop? Does it mean there will be no take at all? Is there any activity that will be restricted? These are things that have not been communicated to the communities and to the fishers and families that depend on this industry for their livelihoods.

Once this interim protection is in effect, the minister would have up to five years to recommend that a permanent MPA be put in place. From the previous Conservative government's work on marine protected areas and from the committee testimony, we know that the average time to declare a single protected area ranges from roughly five to seven years. That is not to be debated. We know that. That is what is required to get it right, to make sure that true consultation takes place.

We had a professor from California who talked about a series of MPAs that they had instituted off the coast of California. They talked about true consultation. I sat through this presentation by this gentleman, and I thought, “Now, there is a group that got this right.” They started early on. They communicated what their objectives were to their stakeholders right from the start, including the indigenous groups, industry, communities, environmental groups, and NGOs. They brought them all to the table and they set out what they wanted to do off the coastline of California.

They set out what the goal was and tasked the stakeholder groups to go and really talk to people, engage the communities, and find a way to holistically reach their goal. That was one of the testimonies that really stood out. We always talk about Conservative this or Liberal this, but this non-partisan person came in to speak about the science behind the MPAs and said that it has to be right, that we have to look at the total, holistic process of the MPA and look at the ecosystems. Fish do not know where the marine protected areas are. They do not know that there is an imaginary boundary. They move.

They looked at a series of marine protected areas off the coast of California and they had buy-in from everyone. It is probably the most successful marine protected area testimony that we have seen to this point.

We also know that the Liberal government is taking measures to speed up the MPA designation process, because it knows that it will not be able to meet its political targets and timelines outlined in the mandate letters. It has missed promises from the campaign. The minister said himself that this is one that the government can say it finished, but it is going to come at a cost to those economies, those local communities that desperately rely on fishing and trade for their local economies, and indeed at a cost to Canada's economy.

Liberals know that if they do not ram this through, it will add to their mounting pile of broken promises.

In addition to speeding up the designation process, the Liberal government is also proposing amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act that would prohibit oil and gas activities in marine areas where interim protection is in effect. To move this forward, they would allow the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs the power to cancel companies' oil and gas interests.

We have talked about the process and we have talked about how these companies and stakeholders are not part of the process. We have asked a number of times that the minister sit in on the committee meetings and listen to the testimony, because the stakeholders are pleading, even stakeholders that one would think would be on the side of the government. Liberal members are saying that they are finding out stuff in the media and in QP announcements, and in their own communities in Atlantic Canada or on the Pacific coast they are hearing from their constituents.

In my riding, if there is an issue with small business or tourism, I hear about it and I bring their voices to Ottawa. There are 30-some Atlantic Canada MPs and outside of committee, they have not really been standing up. I think they are afraid to voice their opinions, but we are hearing it. We are hearing it in sidebar conversations.

We have already seen, in the last little while, further uncertainty in terms of business development. Whether it is the northern gateway or the Pacific NorthWest LNG, businesses are being spooked by the uncertainties, primarily by the Liberal government, because it does not know which way the wind is blowing or where the goalposts are anymore. Giving a minister the ability to say yes or no or “Wait a second; this might be a Liberal insider here, and we are going to say yes to this one”, is unacceptable. That is shameful.

Mr. Brian Clark, an environmental adviser and registered professional biologist in the Pacific northwest had this to say at committee:

...there is a lack of clear process for integrated coastal planning that leaves proponents to develop strategies in an information vacuum. Where are the no-go zones? What are the thresholds for impacts? ... ...we need specific plans for coastal areas of high industrial activity. The Pacific NorthWest project [was] located in a federal port within an industrial zone, yet there are no accepted activities to streamline environmental assessment processes. ... [In addition], there is a tremendous lack of scientific examination and resources to set baselines and determine thresholds on the north Pacific coast.

We all agree that some of the federal agencies need more funding, but Mr. Clark said, “...but don't overlook the knowledge database of proponents.”

Industry and communities are all doing their part. Industry has now become more keenly aware than ever that everybody has a cellphone. Whether it is the shipping industry, the cruise industry, or the fishing industry, everybody has a cellphone. We all want to make sure that we are doing our part, and industry is doing its part. Time and again we have heard at committee that it has offered up its findings, offered up the technology it is using, only to have that offer fall on deaf ears in the government. It is the “Thanks, we got it” type of thing. That is unacceptable.

The Liberal government has had numerous opportunities to work with energy proponents that want to ensure the health of our marine areas. With Bill C-55, we have another example of the government's heavy-handed, anti-development approach to our resource and marine industries.

I have to admit that when I took over the fisheries and oceans shadow portfolio last year, I remember thinking that the targets outlined in the Liberal mandate letters were ambitious. The previous Conservative government set the protection target at 10% by 2020. That was the previous Conservative government's target: 2020. We wanted to make sure that we got it right.

Do members know that Canada has one of the largest coastlines in the world, if not the largest coastline in the world? Disproportionately so, the north and the Pacific are going to face the brunt of these MPAs. We are hearing that over and over again.

The primary difference was that we were not intent on meeting these targets if it meant forsaking the needs of the local coastal communities across the country that depend on the ocean for their livelihoods.

Having recognized that the minister of fisheries and oceans might look to designate MPAs without proper consultation, my colleague from North Okanagan—Shuswap tabled a motion to study the issue further at committee. We began this study prior to the minister's tabling of Bill C-55, just days before the House adjourned for the summer. Unfortunately, it seems he has failed to take a look at the testimony that has come forward from this important study.

I remember the words in his speech when he said he was looking forward to hearing the testimony of Canadians, industry, and stakeholders. He acknowledged the hard work and great work the committees are doing in this House and in the other House. I can see folks in the gallery nodding their heads. They heard the same.

However, the government has continued to disregard the testimony we heard from stakeholders, from witnesses that one would think would be on the side of the government.

Over the past several months, we have had the opportunity to hear from a significant number of academics, industry professionals, commercial and recreational fishing groups, NGOs, and environmentalists. Many of them had one thing in common, and that was their inability to support the government's rushed timeline with regard to the MPA designation process. They all said one thing: “Get it right.”

One of the main issues we heard time and again was the deeply flawed nature of the consultation process. One witness, Mr. Leonard LeBlanc, the managing director of the Gulf of Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board, had this to say:

The process DFO used to approach harvester associations and consult on the areas of interest for designation was unorganized and totally not transparent. They indicated that the process to establish MPAs is typically a lengthy process over many years, yet they seemed to be rushing the process along to meet strict deadlines....

Later he said:

Finally, this consultation process on the area of interest for MPA designation...perpetuated the lack of trust between industry and DFO. The lack of inclusion and answers during the consultation phase, the lack of real scientific evidence for reasoning behind the area of interest, and the lack of guarantees that traditional fisheries could continue all led to further distrust of DFO's consultation and decision-making process.

The testimony did not stop there. Jordan Nickerson, an independent fish harvester who was speaking on behalf of his family business, said this:

This current directive to protect the ocean leaves me with more questions than answers. As [a] harvester and processor, I would like to know how I, my business, my employees, and our shared future will be affected. What are our goals for MPAs...?

Canada should be a leader in listening to its people, taking the time to listen, spending money, and doing the proper science before coming to a huge decision such as establishing MPAs, supposedly based on science. Time and again we have heard that this is not being done. As a matter of fact, I have a quote from Christina Burridge of the BC Seafood Alliance, who says, “On the west coast, we're not seeing a lot of evidence-based decision-making. It's beginning to look like political decision-making.”

I am going to pare some of my comments down because I know my time is winding down.

Nunavut cabinet minister Johnny Mike used his member's statement just last week to speak specifically to the Liberal government's lack of consultation when it came to Bill C-55. He said:

[My residents] are well aware of the potential in our offshore areas which are used for economic opportunities today by interests from outside of Nunavut.

He continued:

This proposed bill for marine management and petroleum industry sector management which is being developed seemingly turns its legislative back on the people of Pangnirtung.

The federal government never consulted any northerners or my constituents on what concerns they may have about this proposed bill.

We are not against MPAs. We are against the fact that their consultation process, the process as a whole, is a sham.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 27th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, that is a great question by my hon. colleague who has served for seven years on the fisheries committee and did yeoman service for us, and did Canadians, fishers, and our committee a great service from coast to coast to coast.

I will say categorically 100%, no, that local knowledge is not being taken up, again going back to the industry, whether it was in regard to the Atlantic salmon, northern cod, or indeed Bill C-55. Local knowledge is being offered but not being taken up. It is being pushed aside for whatever reason. In the quote I read earlier from the Lax Kw'alaam hereditary chiefs, they believe that foreign interests are being looked at before local interests.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 27th, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak in favour of Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, and to offer a few suggestions on how the bill could be improved.

Let me say at the outset that I share the government's commitment to the international community and to the protection of 5% of Canada's marine areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020, with the aim of protecting our oceans by halting the destruction of marine ecosystems. However, since signing the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to take meaningful action to make good on this international commitment.

In the protection of marine areas, until very recently Canada lagged behind China at 1.6%, and is still behind Japan at 5.6%. Australia and the United States are much further ahead, with 33.2% and 30.4% of their oceans protected respectively.

This legislation would provide some much-needed new legal tools to speed up the creation of marine protected areas, but it falls far short of Canada's international commitments to protect our marine biodiversity.

While it has been encouraging to watch repeated announcements this past year of new marine protected areas, Canada is playing catch-up. The best parts of the bill will help us get there. The problem is that in the rush to meet our international commitments, the government has prioritized quantity over quality in the areas protected. That is a big mistake.

Most Canadian MPAs are not meeting international conservation standards and this legislation will do nothing to address that deficiency. It fails to set minimum protection standards and targets for zoning of marine protected areas, which renders the designation inconsistent at best and meaningless at worst.

It goes without saying that ecological integrity should be the foremost priority of MPA management. However, due to a lack of minimum protection standards, at this point Canada's MPAs offer an insufficient level of protection of sensitive ecosystems.

In its report, “Linking Science and Law Minimum Protection Standards for Canada's Marine Protected Areas”, West Coast Environmental Law states that ecological integrity should be a top priority for MPAs. The report states:

Decisions on activities permitted within marine protected areas should be required to prioritize maintenance of the protected ecosystems' processes, and functions.

The Canada National Parks Act (CNPA) and associated regulations require the prioritization of “the maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity” to guide decisions on allowable activities.

The national parks policy elaborates this in principle, stating that “national park ecosystems will be given the highest degree of protection to ensure the perpetuation of natural environments essentially unaltered by human activity” and that “human activities within a national park that threaten the integrity of park ecosystems will not be permitted.”

The CNPA also gives the Minister the power to designate Wilderness Areas in “any area of a park that exists in a natural state or that is capable of returning to a natural state”, and when that designation is made, the Minister may not authorize any activity to be carried out in a wilderness area that is likely to impair the wilderness character of the area.

Including requirements to maintain ecological integrity of protected marine ecosystems within Canada's Oceans Act would ensure adherence to protection standards and thus link science to legal practice.

A concern that we are hearing more and more about is ocean plastics and marine debris. We firmly believe that the government needs to implement a strategy and to fund programs that will preserve the ecological integrity of our MPAs from this growing hazard.

Some current and proposed MPAs allow harmful activities like oil and gas exploration and extraction, mining exploration, industrial fishing, including bottom trawling. Banning these activities from protected areas should be the obvious choice.

When we compare MPAs to the protections offered to terrestrial parks it becomes even more striking. In the words of World Wildlife Fund President David Miller:

Oil and gas extraction is not compatible with conservation and should never be permitted inside a protected area. National parks on land have long had this in place as a minimum standard. It seems outrageous that a marine area could be designated as protected and yet an oil and gas platform could still be placed there, but that's exactly what going to be allowed in the Laurentian Channel unless the government of Canada changes course. The channel is a critical migration route for some of our most endangered whales, and oil and gas exploration and extraction threatens them with noise pollution, habitat disturbance and physical injury from seismic blasting.

This situation is an appalling double standard. We would not allow oil and gas exploration in a national park on land, so why would we allow it in a protected area in our oceans? The answer to this problem is clear. A strong set of protection standards, in line with the International Union of the Conservation of Nature, and legislated protection targets should be adopted by the government in order to meet our international commitments.

This is exactly what 59 scientists from across the world requested in an open letter to the fisheries and oceans minister and the environment and climate change minister. The letter stressed that scientific studies have shown repeatedly that stricter protection provides greater biodiversity benefits. They argue, at minimum, we should ban the most damaging activities to marine biodiversity, such as oil and gas activity, undersea mining, ocean waste dumping, and industrial scale fishing. Marine protected areas are home to countless at-risk species, and by definition, those ecosystems are in great need of protection.

This is important. We cannot allow a lack of legal rigour and haste to prevent us from accomplishing the goal we have agreed to. The government has made much of its commitment to science-based public policy, but with Bill C-55, it has again chosen to ignore the best available conservation science. The Liberal government should listen to the scientists within the scientific community, and not let the bill be another broken promise to Canadians.

Unfortunately, the government's environmental record is a string of broken promises and unfulfilled campaign commitments. It begins with the stunning approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, with the promised review of public consultation and environmental assessment. The people of British Columbia did not vote for a seven-fold increase in the number of oil tankers in Vancouver harbour, and they certainly did not vote for the accompanying risk of an oil spill that would devastate our coast.

It continues with no action on their promise to restore essential environmental protection legislation. On the campaign trail, Liberals promised to restore the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigation Protection Act. While we wait, they have approved the construction of the now defunct Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal on critical salmon spawning grounds, and cleared the way for development of the Site C dam under the weakened legislation.

The Liberal record of saying one thing and doing another is why we should all be concerned that the bill gives the minister far too much latitude to decide what activities are permissible in an MPA.

Ministerial discretion has become a red flag for Canadians. Too often, the government has promised one thing in regard to environmental protection and climate change, while using ministerial discretion to accomplish the exact opposite. Recently, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans made an exemption to the Fisheries Act to allow one of the potentially most destructive projects on the planet to move forward, the KSM mine in British Columbia.

KSM will be the largest open pit mine in North America. Building this mine will require destruction of upper tributaries of the North Treaty and South Teigen Creeks, which flow into the salmon-bearing Nass and Bell-Irving rivers, for tailings storage. Alarmingly, KSM will store more than 27 times the amount of tailings stored at the Mount Polley Mine, using the same technology that failed three years ago.

We need clear legislation with strong guidelines to constrain ministerial discretion. These powers should be used to forward the ecological integrity of a marine protected area rather than permitting harmful activities. Recent research shows MPAs that permit harmful activities are less effective at achieving biodiversity than those with large no-take zones where extractive activity is banned.

Dr. Susanna Fuller, from the Ecology Action Centre, believes that MPAs core no-take zones should encompass 75% of a given MPA. Canada is nowhere close to reaching that high bar. Right now, the minister has the discretion to determine what activities are allowed in an MPA, and how restrictive each zone in an MPA can be.

So far, Canada's fisheries minister has implemented a no-take zone in only five MPAs to date, and those areas are tiny in comparison to the overall MPA. Canada should follow international examples, and make no-take zones the rule rather than the exception in MPAs.

I would like to speak for a moment about opportunities for co-governance of MPAs between indigenous nations and the crown in Canada.

West Coast Environmental Law has published a paper entitled “An Ocean of Opportunity: Co-governance in Marine Protected Areas in Canada”. It states:

Indigenous peoples have been governing marine territories using their own legal traditions since time immemorial. For the most part, indigenous legal orders have not been recognized or upheld in the governance of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada. The current Government of Canada has committed to “a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.” Co-governance arrangements in MPAs are one way of achieving a true nation-to-nation or Inuit-to-Crown relationship by creating space for the healthy interaction of Canadian and indigenous laws. With the Government of Canada’s renewed commitment to protect at least 10% of Canada’s oceans by 2020, there is a unique opportunity to implement co-governance arrangements in both new and established MPAs.

The report states that Canada has an opportunity to become a world leader in recognizing and implementing meaningful co-governance in MPA law, and I agree.

In closing, Canada's New Democrats understand there is no one-size-fits-all solution to marine protected areas, and we recognize that different MPAs are going to require different types of protections. Canada is large and geographically diverse. Local context must be taken into account. While uniform standards may not make sense for all coasts, minimum protection standards absolutely do, and that is what is missing from the bill.

The government needs to listen to scientists, first nations, working fishers, the provinces and territories, and concerned Canadians, so that we make the necessary improvements to Bill C-55.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 27th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Madam Speaker, Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world. For Canadians who live on the coast, there is a powerful pull and connection to the natural world. It is our identity, it is our livelihood, it is our life. Canadians are passionate about the health of the ocean. We watch and care about everything that happens on our shores, in coastal waters, and in offshore areas. Canadians have been calling for greater protections and the capacity to monitor and enforce those protections.

Bill C-55 is our government's legislation to protect marine ecosystems and to support the health of our oceans, in concert with forthcoming legislation under the Navigation Protection Act, the Fisheries Act, and the environmental assessment review.

Marine protected areas are a way to protect the ocean. These special areas seek to balance conservation and protection with sustainable use of our marine resources. They are living networks, where marine species are born, grow, reproduce, and thrive. It is by protecting these systems that we can protect the oceans and the maritime resources on which many Canadians depend.

Bill C-55 would enable the government to establish marine protected areas expeditiously, protecting critical and unique areas of our Canadian oceans as soon as within the next 24 months. These amendments would ensure that, when needed, an interim-protection marine protected area could be put in place so that new activities that could risk further harm to ocean ecosystems, habitat, or marine life would not be allowed to occur in these protected zones. The interim protection offered by the new provisions in the Oceans Act would be an important part of ensuring that Canadians who depend on fishing, whether for shellfish, finfish, or other marine organisms, could count on their livelihoods being protected over the long term. By establishing protection for critical marine habitats, we would protect the marine resources we rely upon.

A significant aspect of Bill C-55 is to strengthen the law and to lay penalties. We would ensure that enforcement officers would have the power to maintain the protected status of these marine protected areas. Under these proposed changes, the minister would have the authority to designate individuals as enforcement officers. For example, indigenous people currently working as guardian watchmen on the North Pacific coast or as members of provincial or local law enforcement could be designated the authority to enforce the Oceans Act within their waters. This provision would allow for greater collaboration with indigenous organizations and would distribute enforcement responsibilities to our partners. On the ground, this would make a significant difference to citizens, who have been begging for this kind of proper attention and collaboration.

The amendments would enable enforcement officers to make far better use of technology during an investigation. For example, an enforcement officer could require anyone being investigated to produce documents or electronic data, could examine the documents electronically, and could require that access to these devices be granted. It is hard to believe that we are talking about this in 2017, so it is important that we get with the times. These new contemporary powers are similar to those found in the Fisheries Act.

Not only would the powers of enforcement officers be strengthened but the amendments and additions proposed in Bill C-55 would be aligned with the powers of environmental protection officers under other statutes. Similar powers are found in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The proposed changes would better match those proposed under other natural resources laws. For example, the obligation to provide assistance to enforcement officers would be added to the Oceans Act. Under this new power, those involved would be required to provide reasonable assistance to enforcement officers during an inspection. The officer would also be able to examine, take samples of, and seize all objects that she or he had reasonable grounds to believe were obtained through the commission of an offence under the act.

Also, rights of passage would be added to the Oceans Act. When an enforcement officer needed to go through private property to inspect an area that could not otherwise be accessed, the officer would now have the right to walk through private property to gain access to the area of the ocean being inspected, such as a pier, a fishing vessel, or fishing apparatus. Ships that needed to be inspected could now be lawfully directed to or detained in any place in Canadian waters. Officers would have the authority to require this if they had reasonable grounds to believe that the ship or a person on board that ship had committed an offence related to the Oceans Act. Similar powers can be found in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act,1999, and the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act.

A new provision would also be added to the Oceans Act such that the legal owner of objects seized, locked up, abandoned, or confiscated, and persons entitled to possession of them, would be jointly and severally liable for the costs incurred by the government for their inspection, seizure, forfeiture, or disposition.

An offence under the Oceans Act could now also result in charges under other applicable Canadian legislation, such as the Fisheries Act or the Species at Risk Act. For example, fisheries closures could also be imposed in marine protected areas. A violation of such closures could expose a fisher to charges laid under the Fisheries Act, as well as charges for not respecting a prohibition in marine protected areas.

I will move on to the fines and punishments proposed under Bill C-55 to create greater certainty and administrative consistency. Under the current 20-year-old Oceans Act, contravention of the existing prohibitions can carry fines of up to $100,000 for an offence punishable on summary conviction, or $500,000 for an indictable offence. Penalties or punishments can vary, depending on the offence, and can include the imposition of monetary fines, licence suspension, prohibition orders, and creative sentencing, such as community service.

Bill C-55 seeks to align fines with those of other acts. The amount of the fine imposed on an individual would increase to between $200,000 and $300,000 for an offence punishable on summary conviction, and from $500,000 to $1 million for a criminal offence.

The bill also proposes to allow the courts to impose fines on corporations and ships. This is a measure that is consistent with other environmental laws, including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

We would add new factors the courts would be able to take into account when they determined the fine that would be imposed on a person, corporation, or ship if they were found guilty. These would be the following: Was the offence a continuation of an offence? Did the offender do this numerous times or over several days, weeks, or months? Was this a second or subsequence offence? Was the offender found guilty of having committed another offence in the past? Were there any aggravating factors, such as having committed the offence despite having been warned by an enforcement officer not to start or continue the activity?

The courts would also be able to take into account such matters as small revenue corporation status and the liability of directors, masters, owners, officers, agents, and mandataries. The bill would also provide the possibility of leniency under the due diligence defence. This means that if one was accused of an offence, one could explain to a court that he or she was prudent and reasonable in the particular circumstances of the offence.

There would also be more court orders in the bill, such as the ability to charge an amount to monitor environmental effects, to promote the conservation and protection of marine protected areas, to conduct research, to assist a group for its work on the marine protected area, or to support an educational institution.

Bill C-55 is an important step toward providing Canada's oceans with the protection Canadians expect and have been asking for, and for me, as a representative of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, this is an important step. It is a step toward protecting the livelihoods of many Canadians as well.

I look forward to continuing to participate in the protection of Canada's marine ecosystems from coast to coast to coast.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

September 27th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today, but not knowing when I will be cut off is awkward. Hopefully I can get through my speech today.

I rise today to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. The bill proposes to significantly increase the powers of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard so as to allow the minister to designate marine protected areas, or MPAs, for an interim period of up to five years.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans is currently studying MPAs, specifically the criteria and process being used to identify and establish them.

Last December, I presented a motion to committee to undertake this study because it was clear to me that massive efforts and a significant amount of funding was being exerted by the government to increase MPAs, while stakeholders living and working along Canada's coasts were unaware of what was happening. At that time, it was clear that the government was exerting pressure on the established process and protocols for establishing MPAs in an effort to speed up that process. It was also clear that the government was willing to sacrifice processes of consensus-building with Canadians for the sake of expediency.

First nations, fishermen, cargo shippers, tourism operators, conservation groups, academics, and many other stakeholders continue to face consequences of the government's frantic and half-baked approach to speeding up the process of establishing MPAs.

Why is the government in such a hurry? Why is it so desperate that it needs to propose a bill that would nullify long-established processes and protocols used to establish consensus among stakeholders?

The answer is that in 2015, the Liberals set delivery dates for achieving MPA objectives that the previous Conservative government had committed to through the Aichi targets under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, or CBD.

Through the Aichi targets, the Conservative government in 2010 committed to conserving 10% of our coastal and marine areas through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, not necessarily MPAs.

The objectives of conserving coastal and marine areas are worthy objectives, but the problem that thousands of Canadians working and living in coastal areas face today is that they have been cut out of the process for establishing MPAs. Why? Because the Liberal government has failed to deliver so many campaign promises that the pressure is on to deliver these commitments made by the Conservatives. The problem is that the timelines promised by the Liberals in the election were unrealistic in 2015, and they are unrealistic today.

The Liberal government has overwhelmed the established structures and processes for developing MPAs. Rather than stepping back and re-assessing its timeline, the Liberal government, through this legislation, is attempting to discard the systems, structures, and processes that have been used for years to establish MPAs in Canada.

Through the bill, the Liberal government proposes to give the fisheries minister increased powers to completely bypass established structures and processes designed to build consensus, designed to identify the right balance to strike in considering the interests of first nations, fishermen, and other Canadians affected by MPAs.

Bill C-55 would allow for arbitrary interim designation of MPAs prior to formal consultations with first nations or area stakeholders.

It is completely unacceptable in Canada, or anywhere for that matter, for the federal government to undermine structures and processes that allow citizens, including first nations, to engage and defend their interests when the government is considering a decision that could have a major effect on those citizens.

Upon reviewing the mandate letter of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, it was clear the government was going to do everything it could to reach its political targets come hell or high water, pardon the pun.

Considering that the 2010 Aichi targets were given 10 years to be implemented, it occurred to me that there may be a reason for the long time frame set to reach these targets.

The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, or FOPO, as it is known here on the Hill, consists of members from across the country and the three main political parties in the House. It is an honour to sit on that committee with members who I believe share a common commitment to fish, fisheries, and their habitat.

The FOPO committee is still in the midst of this study on MPAs, and has so far heard from witnesses from many areas of Canada and abroad. The committee had benefited greatly from testimony by first nations, fishermen, conservationists, and representatives from the shipping and tourism sectors. What has been even more interesting are the common themes borne in the testimony and the evidence the committee has received.

The committee has heard that proper consultation before and during the process of establishing MPAs is paramount to establishing MPAs that are both effective and accepted, especially consultation with and by local communities. Nowhere was this more evident than in the north where MPAs have been established for the protection of our aboriginal fishing and harvesting areas. These areas were established where the local people wanted them, in the manner in which the local people wanted them, and only after appropriate consultation was completed. It was not in an arbitrary manner, absent of scientific certainty, to meet a political target.

I raise the point of scientific certainty here, because in one of the most alarming clauses in Bill C-55, proposed section 35.2 reads:

The Governor in Council and the Minister shall not use lack of scientific certainty regarding the risks posed by any activity that may be carried out in certain areas of the sea 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).

Now, not everyone may take the time to understand what this means. However, it means that the minister would not need the backing of science to designate a marine protected area. There would be no science necessary.

It is shameful that the current Liberal government's 2015 policy platform alluded to basing decisions on science, yet now as government, it is proposing to discard the structures and processes of consultation and science by setting the will of the minister above the needs and interests of all Canadians, including first nations.

I support marine protected areas. Canada has some of the most biodiverse regions in the world, and our coasts are truly rich in biodiversity. We need to recognize and identify where those important and sensitive areas are and take measures to protect them while at the same time recognize that we can harvest and develop sustainably, so that our country can prosper, maintain our high standards, and be able to enforce the laws and protect the areas we designate. If we choose to move forward without first knowing what it is we were trying to protect, or what industry we may be prejudicing, we will fail in our duties to the Canadians who have elected us to represent them here in the House.

Getting back to the study by the FOPO committee, I could quote from a number of witnesses who testified that the process of establishing MPAs has been rushed. For example, Mr. Ian MacPherson, executive director of Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association, stated:

...the PEIFA understands the requirement to protect marine environments, but we do have concerns surrounding the tight timelines to accomplish these goals. The first step to designating a ministerial order MPA is to gather existing scientific, economic, social, and cultural information on the area. Prince Edward Island is a small province driven by small fishing communities. The displacement of fishers from one community—

It would appear that I am out of time. Hopefully, I will be able to continue my speech tomorrow.