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

Sponsor

Dominic LeBlanc  Liberal

Status

Awaiting royal assent, as of May 16, 2019

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

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

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 12:05 p.m.
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North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson LiberalMinister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, let me start by outlining the facts.

Bill C-55 was introduced June 15, 2017. Five days in total were spent debating this bill at second reading and three days in total spent at third reading. In total, there were nine House committee meetings and eight Senate committee meetings. In the House fisheries committee, five amendments were proposed to the bill by Conservative, Green and independent members, which were adopted by the House on April 25, 2018. The House committee heard from 36 witnesses, representing a range of different stakeholders. The bill spent over a year in the Senate. It was first read May 26, 2018, and was sent back to us just two weeks ago.

Therefore, I think the record shows that a significant amount of time and discussion have gone into this bill.

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is coming from a minister who now has protests outside his office and has to be escorted. It is because of a lack of consultation and a lack of engagement.

Closure of debate has been levied on this House 59 times. This represents the 59th time. There is a number for my hon. colleague across the way. It was the 10th day of the 2015 campaign when the member for Papineau, now our Prime Minister, said that he would let debate reign. He promised Canadians, and that was one of the promises that he broke.

On a piece of legislation as important as Bill C-55, I will grant that our hon. colleague, the minister across the way, was not involved in the debate at that time; it was the former fisheries minister, who has been quietly shuffled out because of a corruption issue over surf clam harvesting. It was the former fisheries minister who also said that he would truly consult and engage Canadians, but we have seen time and time again from this government and this minister that consultation and engagement were not there.

I would like to ask our hon. colleague a question. Debate has not reigned free or supreme, but has been closed 59 times. On such an important piece of legislation, on which reasoned amendments have come back from the Senate, why do the Liberals feel the need not to engage the 338 members of Parliament who have been elected to be the voices of those who put them here in this House? Why? Why is that the case with the government, time and time again? Why does it continue to invoke closure?

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, there has been significant and sustained discussion of this bill in this chamber, at committee and in the other House. Bill C-55 was introduced two years ago.

As I said, there were five total days at second reading debating this bill, three total days at third reading, nine total House committee meetings, and eight Senate committee meetings in total. The House committee introduced amendments that were accepted in this House. The House committee heard from over 36 different witnesses, representing stakeholders across the piece. The bill was in the Senate for over a year, in part because of stalling on the part of the Conservative Party, and it was sent back to us two weeks ago.

There has been comprehensive debate and discussion of this bill, and now it is time to move forward.

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 12:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the bill is about interim protection. It will enable us to move forward with respect to the protection of our marine environment.

With respect to my hon. colleague's comments regarding standards, about two weeks ago, I announced Canada's approach to marine protected areas and other effective area-based measures at a conference in Montreal. They are world-leading in the context of how we go about ensuring that standards exist. I am more than happy to review those with the hon. member if he has not yet seen them.

Bill C-55 was sent to the Senate last May. A year later, it has finally been sent back to the House. Many senators in the other place have noted that we need to pass the bill now. We have put in an amendment to their message that captures the intent of their message. It is time for us to finish debate so that we can start protecting our marine environment more effectively.

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with my hon. colleague. There are a number of pieces of legislation before this House that it is very important to Canadians across the country, from coast to coast to coast, we move forward with and ensure are implemented effectively. Certainly Bill C-55 falls into that category.

The ability to ensure that we are able, on an interim basis, to protect areas of great ecological and biological significance is very important in a world where biodiversity is in decline and the impacts of climate change are increasingly prevalent. We need to move forward in a way that allows us to ensure that the future of the environment is a clean one for our children and our grandchildren.

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would invite my hon. colleague to review the record. This government has achieved far more, from a legislative perspective, in three and a half years than successive Harper governments were able to achieve over the course of a decade.

Let me again return to the facts, something I know my hon. colleague sometimes likes to avoid. Bill C-55 was introduced on June 15, 2017. There were five total days spent at second reading and three total days at third reading. There were nine House committee meetings. There were eight Senate committee meetings. In the fisheries committee, five amendments to the bill, proposed by Conservative, Green and independent members, were adopted by the House in April 2018. In the House committee, the members heard from 36 different witnesses. The bill spent over a year in the Senate, in part because of delay tactics by the Conservative Party. It was first read on May 26, 2018, and was sent back to us two weeks ago.

This is a very important bill for us to ensure that we are moving forward with an agenda that allows for the protection of areas of ecological significance on a go-forward basis to ensure that we will have a strong environment and a strong economy in the future.

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, for Canadians listening in, and indeed those in the gallery, Bill C-55 is about interim marine protected areas. The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard as well as the Minister of Environment would have the ability, in the absence of science, to immediately designate a marine coastal area a marine protected area. The concern is that in the absence of consultation, it could do this.

Today we are talking about closure. We have had it 71 times, as my friend from Courtenay—Alberni corrected me. Perhaps I was being too light on our Liberal friends across the way.

The concern all along has been that those who matter the most in our coastal communities, those who would be most impacted by marine protected areas, whether they are first nations or non-first nations, those who depend on those coastal areas for their livelihoods and way of life, are not being consulted or engaged adequately. We heard this time and time again.

Our Conservative senators put forth two amendments.

The first amendment would ensure that prior to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard designating an interim marine protected area by ministerial order, the proposed order would be posted on the minister's website, and a 60-day comment period would be provided for. Written notice given to jurisdictions whose lands or interests may be affected by the proposed order would also be provided for in this amendment. This sounds reasonable. The rationale for this amendment came out of the Bill C-55 consultations, which did not include Nunavut. The senator from Nunavut said that consultation on Bill C-55 was not happening. He said:

The lack of a requirement of express permission for the adjacent province...to proceed with an establishment of an MPA has been interpreted by the Government in Nunavut as an act of bad faith, given the ongoing nature of the current devolution negotiations.

The second amendment, put forth by another Conservative senator, proposed to ensure that a certain level of detail, such as what we would be protecting, would be available to the public prior to the minister designating an interim protected area by ministerial order.

These are all things that came up in testimony. It is common sense.

Will the member be voting in favour of these common sense amendments from Conservative senators, or is it just because Conservative senators put them forth that the Liberals would vote them down?

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 12:35 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Fisheries for commenting on other actions.

I support Bill C-55, but I cannot support the continual use of time allocation. We have seen a steady increase in its use in this place. It was shocking when it happened under the previous government. I have bemoaned this over and over again.

The reality is that a government with a majority of seats can treat Parliament as if it is basically a nuisance. The debate in this place is not about improving legislation or actually about doing our work as members of Parliament, but rather just somehow wasting time. That does a disservice to this place.

It was probably not the hon. member's decision to place time allocation on this legislation. I beg the Liberal majority to stop using time allocation over and over again. It has now become the normal procedure instead of the rare exception.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 1:20 p.m.
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North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson LiberalMinister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be here today to talk about the message to the Senate on Bill C-55, a bill that will amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

First, I want to thank the parliamentary secretary, the member for Charlottetown, for starting the debate off last Friday and for his work on this file. I would also like to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for supporting this bill and for echoing the need to have this type of legislation so that we can move forward with protecting our marine spaces.

I would like to begin with an overview of the bill we are debating today, then an overview of the motion itself.

Bill C-55 seeks a new ministerial order instrument to establish interim protection marine protected areas to protect ecologically sensitive and important marine areas in cases where initial science and consultations tell us it is urgently needed.

The process to establish interim protection will not be a shortcut to any science and consultation processes that are integral to how we establish marine protected areas today.

The fundamental principle underlying interim protection is the application of the precautionary principle. This principle is not new under Bill C-55. It is already found in many pieces of modern environmental legislation. It is also consistent with the Privy Council Office's framework on precaution, elaborated in 2013. This framework outlines guiding principles for the application of precaution to science-based decision-making in areas of federal regulatory activity for the protection of health and safety, the environment and the conservation of natural resources.

Indeed, we have received the bill with an amendment. While we respectfully reject the amendment, we are adding an amendment that we feel respects the intent of the amendment from the other place. As indicated by government officials during Senate committee deliberation, as well as expressed by members in the the other place during third reading, the amendment proposed is duplicative and would also make the interim protection of a marine protected area process more complex than the designation of a permanent marine protected area. Therefore, the amendment would go against the very objective of the bill to provide faster protection and to freeze the footprint of activities in areas where we are proposing a permanent designation, all while ensuring that we continue our high standard of consultations.

Let me explain.

The first part of the amendment from the other place requires that the approximate geographical location and a preliminary assessment of any habitat or species in the area be published prior to an order for interim protection being made. This is already covered under the cabinet directive on regulations, which requires all regulatory process to be open and transparent. This is the reason why, today, one can go online to look at an area of interest, which is the first step in the current process of developing a permanent MPA, and see a description of the area, a map of the area and all other relevant information, such as the key objectives.

The second part of the amendment, which was added by Senator Patterson, would require an additional consultation period to take place outside what is already required under the Oceans Act and the Gazette process. This amendment would add another consultation period that is, at minimum, 60 days, and would require the government to respond to all comments within 30 days. That brings the added consultation period to a possible 90 days before an order can be made. Indeed, this only applies to the interim process and would therefore make the interim designation process more complex than the process for a permanent designation.

As I have mentioned, these amendments were also duplicative. The current Oceans Act already explicitly outlines consultation requirements under sections 29 through 33. As mentioned on Friday by the parliamentary secretary, section 33 states under the oceans management strategy:

(1) In exercising the powers and performing the duties and functions assigned to the Minister by this Act, the Minister

(a) shall cooperate with other ministers, boards and agencies of the Government of Canada, with provincial and territorial governments and with affected aboriginal organizations, coastal communities and other persons and bodies, including those bodies established under land claims agreements;

(b) may enter into agreements with any person or body or with another minister, board or agency of the Government of Canada;

(c) shall gather, compile, analyse, coordinate and disseminate information;...

For these reasons, our government is rejecting these changes and proposing an amendment that we believe captures the intent of the message from the other place. This amendment will require the geographical location and all other relevant information to be published, along with the consultations that were undertaken when an order is made. This will ensure that the information that communities need will be provided, and that the process for interim protection is streamlined to ensure that protection is provided in a manner consistent with the objective of this bill. That is, to provide faster protection on an interim basis to marine areas until a decision, after comprehensive consultations are undertaken, is made on whether to designate the interim area as a permanent MPA.

This bill was first introduced in the House of Commons on June 15, 2017. Since then it has had the benefit of many hours of debate, discussion and review. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans spent a great deal of time carefully reviewing its proposals. From October to December 2017, that committee heard views and opinions from many orders of government, partners, stakeholders and experts on the bill. Following this in-depth review, the committee made five amendments to the bill that were proposed by Conservative, Green and independent members, which were adopted by the House on April 25, 2018.

The House of Commons committee's amendments add new and important elements to the bill without undermining its spirit and intent. This bill is truly one of those rare bills that has had co-operation and agreement at the committee stage by all parties, and I urge all members to put their partisanship aside to support a non-partisan issue of protecting our oceans.

Since February 2019, the committee in the other place has further reviewed Bill C-55, hearing from more witnesses and experts. I am grateful for the effort and attention paid by the other place to this important legislative proposal. However, their additional amendments do not align with the spirit of Bill C-55 to apply interim protection in a timely manner.

Consultation is the cornerstone of effective oceans protection in Canada. The transparency we will exercise for interim protection will be no less than for establishing more permanent marine protected areas.

What is our current practice? We consult and collaborate with provinces, territories and indigenous groups. We include marine resource users, such as fisheries groups, aquaculture groups, the oil and gas sector, mining, shipping, tourism and other stakeholders. We reach out to other experts, such as environmental groups, academics and various community members. Finally, we also, of course, consult with the public.

All of this collaboration is extensive and conducted at various stages of the process. Advisory committees with partners, indigenous groups and interested and affected partners are established to provide input to this work.

We consult at the outset, to identify and select an area needing protection; to gather information about the ecological importance of a sensitive marine area, the socio-economic considerations related to the area and any current or planned activities that may be of concern; to identify initial boundaries and conservation objectives for an area based on the best available science, including indigenous and local knowledge and a risk analysis; to develop a proposed regulatory approach and study the benefits and costs of such an approach, including a 30-day public comment period when the regulations are pre-published in the Canada Gazette, part I; and on an ongoing basis to provide input to the development of the management plan for the area.

Over and above this extensive consultation, marine protected areas are collaboratively managed with local partners through an adaptive management approach wherein ongoing science and socio-economic and cultural information are all considered.

This government is committed to both the precautionary principle and the need for ongoing scientific analysis and consultation. Our commitment to science and consultation does not end once interim protection is in place. These activities would continue for up to five years, with an aim to establishing a permanent marine protected area. We continue to consult and improve our scientific understanding of the area following its establishment, as part of ongoing management efforts.

Bill C-55 reflects the government's commitment to indigenous rights and the requirement to respect the duty to consult and accommodate. This requirement is already provided for within common law. Moreover, the Oceans Act and the cabinet directive on regulation recognize the importance of working with and consulting indigenous organizations.

In addition, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans added an amendment to Bill C-55 to reiterate that marine protected areas establishment cannot be conducted in a manner that is inconsistent with any land claims agreement.

Bill C-55 will go a long way toward ensuring that as Canadians we protect our marine ecosystems. Supporting the health of our oceans is essential so that we can benefit from the unique and precious marine ecosystems and resources that we will rely on for generations to come. Canadians are counting on us to protect our oceans.

Our marine protection work seeks to preserve ecosystems and species to ensure that Canada's marine resources can continue to support sustainable industries, local economies and coastal communities. As we progress, Canada's marine protected areas will become part of a global network that will contribute to healthier and more sustainable oceans for generations.

Many senators supported passing this bill as quickly as possible. However, here in the House, two years after the bill was introduced, despite the amendments agreed to by all parties in committee, the Conservatives continue to oppose this bill. That is disappointing but not surprising because, unlike our government and our Prime Minister, who have a plan for the environment, the Conservatives have no plan to protect the environment or to address climate change.

I believe that Bill C-55 is a very significant step in the right direction, and I am confident that all members will agree. Bill C-55 has been subject to thorough parliamentary review, as well as public debate and discussion, for nearly two years. The time to act is now. With interim protection, we will be able to act now to protect our oceans from coast to coast to coast.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, who spoke on this topic for over an hour on Friday. It was fish Friday. Fish was even served in the lobby, and he spoke eloquently for over an hour on Bill C-55 and Bill S-203, which is on ending the captivity of whales.

I was back in the riding talking about species at risk, in particularly the issue we have with the southern mountain caribou. Members might wonder why I am bringing up this issue. It is because my colleague across the way wants to talk about consultation and how it has been thorough.

He would probably stand up and say that the consultation on the southern mountain caribou issue in the province of British Columbia was been thorough as well. I can tell members that what has been very thorough and robust is the attendance at these town halls done by the Province of British Columbia, and the reason attendance has been robust is that there has been no consultation. Here is an issue that is going to have detrimental impacts on our province in terms of industry and our way of life.

I also want to say at the very beginning that nobody wants to see a species such as the southern mountain caribou become extinct, or our chinook or our Atlantic salmon or our northern cod. One of the challenges we have with the current government is that its members stand up and say that they have consulted Canadians thoroughly, from coast to coast to coast, but indeed they have not. Why would the minister be getting protests outside his door by angry fishermen, angry groups, and have to be spirited away under the protection of security?

When we stand up on this side to talk about consultation, even the NDP members are in agreement with us that consultation is not there.

I will bring members back to earlier today, and for those in the gallery and for Canadians just tuning in to the debate, it has been 71 times that we have voted on time allocation. This is closure of debate. It has happened 71 times to this point under the current government.

I will bring members back to day 15 of the member for Papineau's campaign to be our Prime Minister. It was day 15 in the 2015 election when he stood up and said that under his government, we would be the most open and transparent government in the history of our country. Well, we have seen where that has gone.

He also said that he would run small deficits and then all of a sudden balance the budget in 2019. Well, where are we now? We have huge debt.

One of the other things he said was that under his government, they would not resort to parliamentary tricks and tactics such as omnibus bills, invoking closure or using time allocation. He would let the debate reign, because after all it was not about us as parliamentarians, but about the people who voted us in and got us here.

With that, I have to bring members back to today. I will remind those in the House who are checking their iPads and checking their messages and not really paying attention to the debate that this is not about them and it is not about the Prime Minister; this is about the electors who voted for 338 members of Parliament here to be their voice. When the government invokes time allocation and closure on debate, it is saying that the voices of those who elected members of the opposition and many others do not really matter.

We have seen that time and time again, and it is usually when Liberals do not like what they are hearing. It is usually when valid points are being brought up. We now see it again. We are sitting at 71 time allocation motions. I said 59 earlier, but my great colleague from Courtenay—Alberni reminded us that it is 71 times. I do not think that is letting the debate reign.

I also want to talk about consultation.

Liberals stand and talk about consultation. Throughout the southern mountain caribou exercise, a slide was brought out and then taken down very quickly. The slide said “consultation versus engagement”. That prompted me to think about this a little more. Liberals in government—and perhaps we on this side too, as elected officials—throw the terms “engagement” and “consultation” around as though they are interchangeable. The reality is that they are not. They are vastly different. Depending on the underlying motivation and the process, they come at different solutions.

In consultation, I would tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I have a great idea and ask you what you think about it. You may say that the hon. colleague from Cariboo—Prince George has a great idea, but there are some ways it could be tweaked to make it better. I would respond by saying that these are great ideas and I would think about them. However, with engagement, I would go to you, Mr. Speaker, and say that we have a problem and I would really like your help to try to figure it out. You and I would go back and forth in a transactional kind of dialogue, and I would take your thoughts, ideas and concepts, say that I think we have come up with a solution, and tell you what it was and away we would go.

I am probably going to elicit some boos from that side of the House, because in terms of what I just said about consultation versus engagement, it is engagement that Canadians truly want, especially those in fishing and coastal communities and first nations that depend on the fisheries for their sustenance. When we levy a policy such as what is found in Bill C-55, we are not consulting Canadians on what we should be doing but engaging Canadians from the grassroots on the issue. However, the problem with that is that at times, they cannot tell us what they want to protect.

Mr. Speaker, you just gave me a three-minute warning, but I think I have 11 minutes. It is three minutes until question period. That is going to ruin the video. Let the record show that I am splitting my time with question period, with 338 members of Parliament, unlike our colleagues across the way, who would not allow that.

Whether it is Bill C-55, the Fisheries Act, the northern cod study, the Atlantic salmon study or the aquatic invasive species study—which we will never get to, because our friends on the fisheries committee continue to delay it—Canadians are looking for engagement on policy that is going to impact them.

I have tried to change my vocabulary, my use of “consultation”, since that southern mountain caribou fiasco we dealt with in the province of British Columbia, and I now use “engagement”.

It is not an engagement. It is really just a check in a box to say that my colleagues across the way have talked about it. I wonder if it is because they do not believe Canadians are smart enough to come up with an idea. After all, we live in coastal areas and depend on the water, so maybe we are not smart enough to come up with a solution to the problem. Maybe they are worried the problem is that Canadians are too smart and will figure it out.

I have listened to a number of fishers, fishing organizations and first nations. They are concerned about the lack of consultation on Bill C-55. Our hon. colleague across the way is saying that the amendment that came back from the Senate is redundant and is way too much. After all, it would listen to Canadians, who time and again said that they were not consulted enough. They said that they were not being engaged enough.

We should always strive to be better. Bill C-55 is core legislation under the Liberal government. Now the Liberals say that time has dithered away, and I think my hon. colleague mentioned that there were only 25 sitting days left, and that is why there is an urgency to push it through. However, there are serious concerns with Bill C-55, which is why that amendment came forward. What they are essentially saying, which is no different than time allocation, is that because it is a Conservative amendment, it does not really matter. That is wrong.

With that, I will cede the floor and pick it up after question period.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, I will provide a refresher on this important debate for our colleagues and Canadians from coast to coast to coast who are tuning in, as I had to share my time with question period.

Prior to going into my debate, I shared with Canadians and those in this House that this is the 71st time closure and time allocation have been levied by a government led by a Prime Minister who, when he was campaigning, on day 15, the then member for Papineau said that under his government he would let the debate reign and would not resort to such parliamentary tricks as time allocation. However, that is where we are today. We have time allocation and closure forced on this important debate.

I also said that as parliamentarians and leaders in our country, when we are talking about consultation, perhaps what Canadians are looking for on an important piece of legislation such as Bill C-55 is engagement. I talked about the use of “consultation” and “engagement“ as if they were interchangeable. They are not. Consultation would be me telling someone I have an idea and asking what that person thought. That person would tell me whether that idea was good or bad. I would thank that person and be on my way. There would be no onus on me to come back to that person or for that person to take my suggestion. Engagement would be me saying that there is a problem, asking to sit down with a someone to fix the problem and asking that person what ideas he or she has.

When we are talking about bills such as Bill C-55, the feedback we heard from fishers, first nations, scientists and even environmental groups on Bill C-55 and the marine protected area process was that there was no consultation. They were not asked what they thought about the idea. There was no engagement. It is the lack of engagement we have seen time and again from the current government, so much so that there are protests at the minister's office. Therefore, when the Liberals talk about how this is good for Canadians and that they have consulted broadly, they really have not.

I will offer this. Bill C-55 is more about a vehicle that would afford the current government the ability to reach its international Aichi targets, which state that 5% of marine coastal areas would be protected by 2017 and 10% of marine coastal areas would be protected by 2020. As a matter of fact, the biodiversity goals and targets for Canada for 2020 state:

17 percent of terrestrial areas and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.

I will now go to a comment from a gentleman from Simon Fraser University. 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 also stated that some of the studies cited found that they are not broadly successful. He continued:

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.

I bring this up because Bill C-55 evokes a lot of questions, one being that under proposed subsection 35(2), certain activities, such as fisheries and fishing, may be prohibited, yet activities by foreign entities and other companies and countries will not be.

The groups that came before us at committee said that they all want to be part of the process. They asked that the minister and the department meet with those stakeholder communities and engage to develop a plan in concert with those communities that would be impacted.

The Senate amendments were fairly thorough. They did not tie the government or any future government to doing anything but thorough engagement with communities that could be impacted by the interim marine protected areas.

I will offer again that Bill C-55 is about creating an order in council that the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans could immediately designate an area an interim marine protected area for up to five years while the study was going on.

Using the precautionary principle was also mentioned. In the absence of science, that cannot be used as an excuse for not designating that area.

Our biggest concern was addressed by the Senate amendments, which are very thorough. I also looked at the government's response to the Senate amendments. I would have to say that those were fairly watered down.

I will go back to my comment about consultation versus engagement. When the government or parliamentarians consider policy that is so impactful on communities, first nations, coastal communities and industry, we should be engaging, not consulting, and bringing them to the table to develop thorough solutions.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, we heard testimony, from organizations and groups, that under the Liberal government, the people who have the seat at the table are not the stakeholders in the communities. Indeed, it is environmental groups that have the stakeholders. They even said at one point that at least with the Conservatives, they knew they could get in to actually have a conversation with the minister, and here they actually have to go through different groups to get to a minister or a parliamentary secretary.

They even said that the marine protected areas and the process Bill C-55 followed has shaken the fishing industry, has shaken coastal communities and has shaken confidence in the Liberal government.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 3:35 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

Madam Speaker, it is interesting that in a good part of the member's comments, he talked about why we are in this process of time allocation.

I want to just remind the member that Bill C-55 was introduced back in June 2017. There were five days total spent at second reading, three days total spent at third reading, nine total House committee meetings, and eight total Senate committee meetings. In the fisheries committee, five amendments to the bill were proposed by Conservative, Green and independent members. They were adopted by the House on April 25, 2018. The House committee heard from a total of 36 witnesses representing a variety of groups, including industry, indigenous groups and academics.

I am sure my colleague would recognize that for the Conservative Party agenda, it seems that Conservatives do whatever they can to stop legislation, whether it is good legislation or bad. It does not really matter. All the Conservatives want to do is play an obstructive role by not allowing legislation. As the government House leadersaid, it is because the Conservatives really do not have a plan. That is demonstrated by the so-called phantom plan on the environment. We have been waiting for it for well over a year. It is nowhere to be seen.

I am wondering if my friend would agree that the opposition party's role is more than to just criticize. It should also be bringing forward ideas, thoughts and plans.

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May 13th, 2019 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a little rich coming from a group that unveiled its plan two weeks into the 2015 election.

Canadians do not need to believe me. Let us put it in the voice of fishers. Fishers and first nations in those coastal communities are really the ones that matter. Here is a quote:

Canada should be a leader in listening to its people and taking the time to listen and spend the money to do the proper science before coming to a huge decision, such as establishing SBAs and 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 on the decision.

That was from Jordan Nickerson, a fish harvester.

I said this earlier in my comments, that Bill C-55 is really a vehicle or mechanism for the Liberals to be able to make their international targets, which they announced on the world stage. Canada has the largest geographical coastline, and to reach these targets, it is the west coast and the northern coast that are going to suffer the most, or be most impacted by what the government doing. Without proper engagement, it will be to the detriment of those coastal communities and those fishing groups that depend so critically on those waterways, those areas.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, it is all the pomp and circumstance. It is to put one's hand on one's heart and pledge all this and that. However, the reality is that there is no delivery. Nobody will be able to ask how all that pomp and circumstance worked out.

Again, members do not have to believe me. I will go to another comment in committee by Sean Cox, professor at Simon Fraser University. He said:

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.

Another witness 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.”

Fish do not follow boundaries; they are fluid and so are the conditions on what impact fish.

Even the academics are coming out against what the federal government and the minister is doing with Bill C-55.

All we are asking is to put in protections for thorough consultation. Regardless of what the mandate is, it needs to be added to clause 5. We are asking that clause 5 to be amended to include thorough consultations, including what the proposed legislation would protect, where it would be designated and all the areas of consultation that led up to that interim marine protected area being levied.

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May 13th, 2019 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

Madam Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the member for St. Catharines.

Today we are talking about Bill C-55, a bill that would amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

Bill C-55 is an important element of our marine conservation agenda. While the proposed amendments provide another tool for us to meet our international commitment to increase the protection of Canada's marine and coastal areas to 10% by 2020, our government's objective, first and foremost, is to protect sensitive and important marine and coastal areas for the benefit of present and future generations of Canadians.

Decades of experience in establishing marine protected areas has shown us that too many delays occur during the establishment process. Through this experience, we have learned there are circumstances where greater harm to sensitive marine areas can occur during the time it takes to establish a marine protected area, sometimes up to 10 years.

The interim protections proposed under Bill C-55 address this gap in conserving our marine biodiversity and will give us the option to establish interim protection where initial science and consultation tells us we need to afford the area extra precaution.

While I thank the other place for the attention paid to the bill, the new amendments would negatively impact the government's ability to apply the precautionary principle and could put sensitive and important ecosystems at risk.

While we are rejecting the amendment from the other place, we are proposing to replace it with an amendment that would capture the intent of the changes sought by members of the other place. Indeed, we understand the concern that was shared by various senators regarding the consultations and ensuring the communities would not be negatively impacted by interim protection orders. We agree that consultations are important. In fact, they are the cornerstone of the development of marine protected areas.

That is why we are proposing an amendment that would require the geographical location, relevant information, as well as consultations that were undertaken, to be published when an order for interim protection is made. This proposed amendment will ensure that communities get the information they need and that we undertake the comprehensive consultations that are outlined in existing legislation in the designation of interim protection. It will allow us to continue to apply the precautionary approach, which underpins the objectives of this bill.

Most of the discussions held during the Senate review of Bill C-55 focused on transparency and consultations. I would like to provide an example of how the Government of Canada is demonstrating its commitment to work with many of its valued partners in an open and collaborative manner.

This government has been working steadily to build a partnership with the Government of Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to advance protection of Canada's High Arctic marine environment. As well, we have been engaging directly with northern communities and conducting scientific studies to better understand this ecosystem and its linkages to food security for indigenous peoples.

This area is of particular ecological importance as it maintains a relatively constant cover of old, thick and multi-year pack ice. As the ice melts in the rest of the Arctic, this area is expected to retain its multi-year pack ice further into the future and may therefore provide a last refuge for ice-dependent species, such as polar bears, beluga whales, narwhals and seals. Sea ice also provides habitat for the algae that forms a vital part of the Arctic food web. This area is also home to the last remaining ice shelves in North America.

This ongoing collaboration has led to a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, committing us to assess the feasibility and desirability of protecting the High Arctic Basin. This work will consider the social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits and impacts of establishing a conservation area in this region.

This conservation effort supports the development of a conservation economy in the Arctic and our budget 2019 affirms this commitment to protect the High Arctic Basin with our partners.

The ability to provide early interim protection to the High Arctic Basin depends on royal assent of Bill C-55 in a manner that does not contradict the fundamental spirit and intent of the bill; that is to take action quickly to protect ecologically sensitive and important marine areas following initial science and consultation.

In a recent letter, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, which represents over 15,000 Inuit, expressed serious concerns about the amendments provided by the other place. In the letter, the president, PJ Akeeagok, states:

We are concerned that this proposed amendment risks undermining the actualization of Inuit rights by conflating the requirement to uphold the rights of Inuit with a broader engagement with the interests of stakeholders. The current version of Bill C-55, sets out the appropriate hierarchy. Interim measures allow parties the opportunity to commit to determining the final details required to establish protected areas. This important step is key to successfully ensuring all parties interests are taken into account prior to final establishment.

QIA further submits that striking a broader consultation after an interim order is appropriate and effective to assess whether formal designation of part or all of the area under an interim order should be recommended to be designated as a permanent MPA by regulation.

The Government of Canada respects the rights of indigenous peoples and we are committed to consulting, collaborating and partnering with the very governments and groups that are essential to interim protection and longer-term protection.

With the support of our Inuit and northern partners, we intend to establish an interim marine protected area for the High Arctic Basin. Following this step, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada agencies will continue to work with the Government of Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and others to continue important scientific work and explore the best ways of collaboratively protecting and managing this area through permanent protection measures.

On April 25, at the Nature Champions Summit in Montreal, the government announced new protection standards for marine protected areas. While these standards apply to future federal marine protected areas that are permanent and not to interim protection, the government's commitment to high protection standards was applauded in Canada and by the international community.

Marine conservation has always been, and will always be, an all-in effort. To date, we have protected 8.27% of our ocean estate. We did not get there alone. This tremendous achievement is the result of many protected areas established by provinces, territories and the federal government. It also includes the contribution of other conservation measures, like marine refuges, which have been developed in collaboration with many parties, most notably fisheries groups.

Reaching our target has been a high priority for this government and we are committed to achieving it together with our partners. We can no longer take our rich endowment of marine biodiversity for granted. We have been drawing economic benefit from our oceans for generations, but we need to invest in protecting our oceans to ensure the ecosystem services they provide can be maintained into the future.

Healthy marine ecosystems provide a range of vital benefits. They support climate regulation, provide nutritious food and support seafood industries and many other economic sectors and provide habitat needed to support species abundance.

Bill C-55 has been reviewed by Parliament for nearly two years. With interim protection, we will be able to act quickly and collaboratively to protect our oceans from coast to coast to coast. Bill C-55 is based on a vision to protect our oceans for future generations, and its success depends on partnerships. We must act today and pass the bill as the House intended.

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May 13th, 2019 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to be speaking to the motion concerning the Senate amendments to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

As many members know, the bill was introduced in June 2017. It is almost two years later, and I believe it is time to pass the bill so we can better protect fragile marine environments.

Earlier today, many members opposite showed their opposition to passing the bill as soon as possible, despite our having had nine days of debate in the House, nine committee meetings at the House fisheries committee and eight meetings at the Senate fisheries committee. Indeed, in the time it has taken for us to get to this stage of the legislative process, we could have already designated interim protections to some of the most sensitive marine ecosystems in our oceans. Instead, despite the importance of protecting our environment and the support from Canadians from coast to coast to coast, we are being forced to defend the merits of a bill that would simply provide a tool for the government to provide interim protection to marine areas. Again, this measure has been before us for almost two years.

The motion today provided by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard not only is a common sense approach but shows this government's commitment to working with the hon. members of the other place. Indeed, the Senate's message received just over a week ago by the House adds an amendment that would require, before an order for interim protection is made, that the approximate geographical location and a preliminary assessment of what needs protection be published. A further amendment by Senator Patterson would require that a secondary consultation process of at least 60 days be undertaken before an order is made, and that any comments or questions be responded to within 30 days.

At first blush, these changes seem reasonable. They are, for the most part. That is why they are more or less already required under existing legislation and the Oceans Act as it is written today. In fact, sections 29-33 outline explicitly the requirements for consultations. The act says in section 33, under “Oceans Management Strategy”:

33(1) In exercising the powers and performing the duties and functions assigned to the Minister by this Act, the Minister

(a) shall cooperate with other ministers, boards and agencies of the Government of Canada, with provincial and territorial governments and with affected aboriginal organizations, coastal communities and other persons and bodies, including those bodies established under land claims agreements;

(b) may enter into agreements with any person or body or with another minister, board or agency of the Government of Canada;

(c) shall gather, compile, analyse, coordinate and disseminate information

Furthermore, information such as the geographical location and all other relevant information is readily available regarding areas of interest, which is the first step in the permanent MPA designation process. That means we already have in place a process that provides the information that the Senate amendment is seeking. Let me give members an example.

Race Rocks is an area of interest over which the government is currently consulting with stakeholders, the community and indigenous groups to establish an MPA. While it has yet to be designated, people can go online today to see the proposed geographical location. It is located 17 kilometres southwest of Victoria, British Columbia, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and consists of nine islets. The area of interest, or AOI, is approximately two square kilometres. There is also a link to a 2011 report that includes an ecosystem overview and assessment.

Again, this is an example of how the government is already open and transparent, as required by the Cabinet Directive on Regulation, and shows how the amendment from the Senate is duplicative.

There is another interesting piece of information on Race Rocks, listed under the heading “Key Objectives and Approach”. It says, “On September 1, 1998, the Race Rocks AOI was announced by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The objective for the proposed Race Rocks Marine Protected Area, MPA, is to conserve and protect the biodiversity and ecosystem function of the area.”

The announcement for the AOI was made in 1998. That is over 20 years ago. It seems shocking that while we have heard it takes on average between seven and 10 years for an MPA to be established, this area was announced as being ecologically significant over 20 years ago, but in the past two decades has had no interim protection because the mechanism does not exist.

That is why we are debating Bill C-55 today. It would create the mechanisms. It would allow us to protect areas on an interim basis until the decision is made for permanent designation.

Let me emphasize that this is not a shortcut. On average, it takes seven to 10 years to designate an MPA. On average, it takes two years to establish an AOI. If a designation for permanent protection must be made within five years of an interim protection area being designated, that brings the time down from seven to 10 years to seven years. The process for designation continues to be rigorous and robust.

I would also like to speak to the part of the Senate amendment made by Senator Patterson regarding another consultation period. To be clear, consultations are the cornerstone of the MPA development process, and even after an order for interim protection was made, comprehensive consultations would continue.

Senator Patterson's amendment would create secondary consultation processes that would require an additional 90 days before an interim order could be made. This added period would go against the very objective of the bill, which is to apply the precautionary principle and provide protection faster to areas we already know are ecologically significant while the consultations continued on a path to permanent designation.

For these reasons, the government has suggested an amendment that accepts the intent of the amendment from the other place while still respecting the objectives and purposes of the bill. Our government is thankful for the robust debate that has occurred in the other chamber, and we are happy to support this proposed amendment that would not have been developed if not received through the message from the other place and the concerns raised from their regions.

I believe it is time to move forward on this legislation.

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May 13th, 2019 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Madam Speaker, in response to my colleague's question, climate is what people expect and weather is what they get. That is the simple definition.

What is a marine protected area? Obviously it is an area that is considered important and in need of some kind of protection. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details. Marine protected areas are actually quite difficult to do. They are three-dimensional columns of water, where a lot of things are going on inside that column of water. By comparison, terrestrial conservation areas are much easier to deal with.

I would like to comment on what my friend from Cypress Hills—Grasslands said a minute ago. He talked about stewardship. When it comes to environmental conservation, local people on the ground, conducting stewardship activities and using the knowledge they have learned over generations, is by far the better way than the top-down environmental regulation that the government prefers.

What are some of the problems with marine protected areas? For example, what are they actually going to accomplish? My colleague across the way talked about an area off Victoria, Race Rocks. It was designated some 20 years ago as an important area, yet it is still in place now and the discussions are ongoing. For 20 years, the area had been de facto protected.

The other issue with marine protected areas is this. What are the terms and conditions of setting aside one of these areas? Let us just say the benthic invertebrates, like the glass sponge reefs off Haida Gwaii, are going to be protected. I think that is a worthy goal, given that some types of fishing activities can affect the benthic environment. Would ships passing over top of this area have any effect on the primary reason for the MPA?

For the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Transport and regional economic development ministers, it is going to be critical for them to look at the terms and conditions of an MPA. Most people think it is an area that is set aside where there is no activity at all. The point is that, if an MPA has an important benthic environment, for example, that happens to be on a shipping lane, bottom crawling can be restricted to protect the benthic environment while shipping is still allowed. Again, it is a balancing act that I think needs to be done.

This is not a partisan issue at all, but the terms and conditions are very important. Again, in terms of marine protected areas, as was mentioned by the shadow minister for fisheries, many of the fish species are migratory, and they go in and out of these marine protected areas. When one looks at the two great fishery tragedies off the east coast in the last little while—the Atlantic cod and the Atlantic salmon—right now, it is hard to see what a marine protected area would have done for these highly mobile species.

There are places where aquatic protected areas actually make sense, but they have to be very well delineated and with the proper terms and conditions. I will use an example that I am familiar with from back home, and that is lake trout spawning reefs. Lake trout spawn in the fall, and they are very vulnerable to overfishing at that time, because they concentrate on specific reefs. It makes a lot of sense—and the Manitoba government has done this in many areas—to put these lake trout spawning reefs off-limits to fishing, even catch-and-release fishing, during the sensitive time when the lake trout are using these reefs.

Again, the devil is in the details, and it is far too easy to call an area “protected” when that protection does not really do a lot.

I sat on the fisheries committee when Bill C-55 was being discussed. A lot of the reaction from communities was quite negative. A lot dealt with consultation, and a lot dealt with the effect on the local economy. Leonard LeBlanc, managing director of Gulf 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 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....

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

...we...have concerns surrounding the tight timelines to accomplish these goals.... The displacement of fishers from one community to another as a result of an MPA would shift the economics of the island.

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.

She continued:

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...deserve access to local, sustainable...food.

My colleague, the shadow minister for fisheries, quoted Mr. Sean Cox, a professor of fisheries from Simon Fraser University, who 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.

Therefore, the Liberals' rationale for the MPAs, which is that they have done enough consultation and there is a scientific basis to them, is clearly shown to be bogus.

As I said in one of my questions earlier, I have a very strange environmental philosophy, which is this. Every environmental policy and environmental decision that government makes and every single dollar that is spent on the environment or fisheries by a government should generate a clear and measurable environmental result. So far, the track record of the current government is poor.

I also want to talk about some of my time on the fisheries committee dealing with the Atlantic salmon. As I mentioned earlier, I have the report here. The fisheries committee is different from a lot of other committees in that we operate on a very collegial basis and try very hard to have unanimous reports, which I think is still the case. We on the fisheries committee are treated to some excellent science witnesses, and there is robust debate about the data and evidence that is presented, yet it is always respectful. We produced a report in January 2017 entitled “Wild Atlantic Salmon in Eastern Canada”. Under the current government's watch, the populations of Atlantic salmon have plummeted for a whole bunch of reasons: the very high seal populations; the very high predation rates; the predation rates by striped bass on Atlantic salmon smolts; the overfishing by Greenland of our multi-sea-winter fish; and the issue of the smallmouth bass in Miramichi Lake, to look at one specific water body there.

We produced a report with 17 recommendations. They were very specific recommendations. In one, in particular, we recommended a target the government should have of restoring the Atlantic salmon populations to 1975 levels, with measurable results reported on a regular basis. We talked about engaging with Greenland. We talked about increasing the seal harvest to help the salmon out. There were other recommendations as well. These have all been ignored.

The letter the minister sent in response to this report was a disgrace. The words “restore” and “rehabilitate” did not occur in that letter at all. It was a fluff piece that talked about consultation and so on, in spite of the fact that our Atlantic salmon report had very specific, broadly based and widely supported recommendations. As I said in some of my earlier comments, the current government prefers show over substance.

On the west coast, things are not much better. I have an article here from the CBC, dated December 2018, just a few months ago. It states that more than a dozen B.C. chinook salmon populations are in decline and only one population in the southern group is doing well. The article reports that there is one population that is down to 200 fish. All of this is on the current government's watch. It is doing nothing to deal with some of the crises occurring with our fish stocks right now.

I will go back to my point about generating real and measurable environmental results. When we were in government, we had the recreational fisheries conservation partnership program. Over the life of the program, while we were in government, some 800 projects were funded. Indeed, in one year, for example, the first year, 380 partners undertook 94 habitat restoration projects; 1,700 volunteers donated their time; 2.4 million square metres of habitat were restored; and 200 linear kilometres of recreational fisheries habit were enhanced. These were real and measurable environmental results.

In fact, it was unanimous at the fisheries committee that the Liberal government continue funding the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, which delivered real and measurable environmental results. Guess what. It killed the program and the hopes and dreams of many small communities that depend on fisheries.

One of the projects that I am very proud of, which was funded by the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, was in a nearby constituency to mine, the constituency of the member for Brandon—Souris, Pelican Lake. Why am I mentioning this? The reason is that this was a project funded by the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program. In this particular lake, people used to winter kill. This community is partly based on tourism. Sport fishing is very important. With a very small grant from the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, aerators were installed on Pelican Lake, and now the fish population has been conserved in that particular lake. People do not winter kill anymore and the economy is booming because of it. Again, it is a real and measurable fisheries result from a program, something that the government simply does not do. It does not deliver results, and it does not measure results.

In terms of the effect on local communities, the government talks a good line on conserving marine mammals, but recently it implemented new whale-watching regulations. I happened to be in Churchill last summer. If any members have had the pleasure of going to Churchill, and I know some of them have, it is an unbelievable experience. I was there in July, and at that particular time of year, thousands of beluga whales crowd into the estuary. The new whale-watching regulations have minimum distances and the animals cannot be approached. It is clearly ridiculous for Churchill, because the minute people launch their boats from the shore, the whales come up to them and they are now technically doing something illegal.

DFO's concern should be the sustainability of populations. The population estimate of beluga whales on the west coast of Hudson Bay is around 55,000, and it is slowly increasing. That trend continues. This is a population of beluga whales that is thriving, yet for no conservation reason at all, DFO is imposing these whale-watching regulations on a tourism-dependent community, on an activity that generates millions of dollars per year. Again, the government's unthinking approach to fisheries and environmental policy is hurting communities.

In his comments earlier, the minister spoke about the Fisheries Act. I was on the fisheries committee when the Fisheries Act was changed in 2012. The Fisheries Act was written in 1898 and was in desperate need of modernization. The definition of what was designated as fish habitat kept expanding, so that puddles in farmers' fields, drainage ditches and so on were now considered fish habitat.

In 2009, for example, the Auditor General did an audit of the original Fisheries Act, after the act had been in place since 1898. The Auditor General found this:

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada cannot demonstrate that fish habitat is being adequately protected as the Fisheries Act requires. In the 23 years since the Habitat Policy was adopted [in 1986], many parts of the Policy have been implemented only partially by Fisheries and Oceans Canada or not at all. The Department does not measure habitat loss or gain. It has limited information on the state of fish habitat across Canada—that is, on fish stocks, the amount and quality of fish habitat, contaminants in fish, and overall water quality. Fisheries and Oceans Canada still cannot determine the extent to which it is progressing toward the Policy’s long-term objective of a net gain in fish habitat.

The Fisheries Act was so broad that it was ineffective, so our changes made a lot of sense.

For example, in the Prairies, there was an issue in the early 2000s when DFO went hog-wild trying to enforce this unwieldy and unnecessary act. It sent around what we called the “fish cops”, which really riled up rural communities and delivered no significant environmental results.

I was very impressed by the testimony of a Mr. Ron Bonnett, who was president at the time of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. He said:

The experience that many farmers had with the Fisheries Act, unfortunately, was not a positive one. It was characterized by lengthy bureaucratic applications for permitting and authorizations, and a focus on enforcement and compliance measures taken by officials.... Many farmers were then relieved when the changes that were made just a few years ago [by the Conservative government] drastically improved the timeliness and cost of conducting regular maintenance and improvement activities to their farms as well as lifting the threat of being deemed out of compliance.

Mr. Bonnett went on to point out:

There are also many accounts of inconsistency in enforcement, monitoring, and compliance across Canada with different empowered organizations, which led to a confusion and indiscriminate approaches to enforcement and implementation. Even at the individual level, there were different interpretations of the act based on one's familiarity with agriculture.

He continued:

It is CFA's position that a complete revert to reinstate all provisions of the Fisheries Act as they were would be unproductive, would re-establish the same problems for farmers, and would provide little improvement in outcome for the protection and improvement of fish habitat. Human-made water bodies such as drainage ditches simply should not be treated as fish habitat.

He also noted, “The current streamlined approach is working far better for all and efforts should continue this approach.”

Then he made this incredible statement, which backs up what I was saying earlier:

Overall, any changes to the current Fisheries Act [2012] should be considered as to how they will support outcomes-based conservation rather than a process-oriented approach.

I note that on his own farm, Mr. Bonnett is legendary for his conservation work in keeping cattle out of streams and working very well with the conservation community to enhance and protect all kinds of habitats.

In terms of the Senate amendments, I do support them. It is very important that we get this right. The Senate amendments are very clear that what an MPA is needs to be clearly specified and flexibility allowed. If an area is just closed off to everybody without any thought as to what the goals and objectives are, it would hurt coastal and rural communities.

Obviously, this legislation will pass, as the government has a majority. As I said early in my speech, it is very important that the needs of local communities be taken into account. For example, off the coast of Newfoundland there is a significant food fishery for cod. It is a very important activity there, one that I would like to participate in one of these years. What if the issue in that area is the protection of the benthic environment? Obviously, a food fishery for cod should not affect the benthic environment. Therefore, commercial fishing technologies that have the potential to harm the benthic environment could be dealt with, while at the same time ensuring local community benefits.

Also, I will go back to the notion of stewardship, which my friend from Cypress Hills—Grasslands talked about. I have the honour of representing a large rural community with agriculture, trapping, hunting, fishing, forestry and some oil and gas development. The environment in my particular constituency is one of extremely high quality, and that is because of the conservation efforts by people who are on the ground, who have years and years of experience and know what they are talking about. They will deliver environmental conservation on time and under budget in a way that benefits the environment for all of us.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased and honoured to rise today and speak to Bill C-55, a very important bill and one of particular significance to me, coming from Vancouver, British Columbia, where the coastline, the oceans and the marine species are so absolutely critical to our economy, culture, people, indigenous nations and, frankly, to our way of life. This bill really speaks to the need to look at our marine areas in a different way, and to start to treasure them and protect them for future generations.

I am pleased to say that our party will support Bill C-55, albeit with some reservations, which I will outline in my remarks.

I want to start by saying that I am disappointed that the government has once again used time allocation. In other words, the government has cut off and limited debate on this bill. This is the 71st time in this Parliament that the Liberals have used time allocation, which is one of the most undemocratic tools that a government can use. It cuts off debate and hinders parliamentarians who, after all, have been sent here to express our positions on behalf of our constituents. It shows a disrespect for Parliament and all Canadians, who elect us to come here to represent them and to ensure that their voices are heard and reflected in the debates in this House.

I sat in the last Parliament when the Conservatives used closure 100 times, and I am starting to see very little difference between Liberals and Conservatives in terms of their fundamental disrespect for the democratic traditions of this chamber.

Interestingly, I heard the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader refer to the budget and describe how one of the Conservatives, by speaking for 15 hours, denied other members the right to speak, yet he does so himself, having risen in this House to introduce a motion to cut off debate. That denies all sorts of members in this House the right to speak. Canadians should be aware of that fundamental disrespect of their rights and democracy.

In British Columbia, as in other areas of the country in the north and on the Atlantic coast, on our coasts, watersheds and oceans, the sea life, the pre-eminent species that reside on the coasts—the orcas and dolphins and of course the iconic salmon, as well as the sea lions and eagles and all other species—are of absolutely profound importance to our entire ecosystem, and when we say “ecosystem”, we are not just talking about ecology. It is part of our economy as well.

I know the Liberals are fond of saying that we have to balance the environment and the economy. Actually, I think we need to go farther than that: We need to recognize that the environment provides the fundamental capital that makes all economic activity possible. When we do not place protection of the environment and our ecosystem first and foremost, we actually threaten our economy. That is what the government has done, repeatedly, through its policies over the last four years.

We use our oceans and our marine areas for recreation. We use enjoy nature there, and they are fundamentally part of the cultural and historic fabric of our indigenous nations. As I have said, they are part of our fundamental economy.

In Vancouver and in British Columbia, tourism and fishing and these kinds of economic activities depend on having a pristine and well-protected environmental system in our marine areas. It is absolutely critical. That is why we need sustainable policies. We need to balance economic activities to make sure that generations forever can enjoy, in a sustainable way, all the bounty of our marine areas.

I do not need to point out that these marine areas are precious and delicate and require extreme care and balance. In fact, we are simply stewards for all future generations of these areas.

There is an irony in the Liberal government patting itself on the back for protecting marine areas at the same time that it has bought the Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan pipeline, which will carry raw bitumen and triple the number of tankers through the Burrard Inlet, right into the marine areas that the government is trying to protect. This will threaten the southern orca population, and if there is ever any kind of spill, it will create an ecological disaster of unimaginable proportion, because bitumen sinks and there is no way to clean it up. As for the Liberals pretending to care about our marine environment, it is impossible to square that idea with their approval of a pipeline that presents probably the most disastrous threat to our marine environment on the west coast that we have seen in some time.

I want to pause for a moment and mention a recent situation that is of great concern to my constituency and the tens of thousands of Filipinos who live in my riding: the hazardous waste that originated in Canada that has been sent over these marine areas to developing nations, in this case to the Philippines.

In 2013 and 2014, a private Canadian company shipped 103 containers to the Philippines. They were labelled as plastics for recycling, even though they also contained waste, such as soiled diapers. These containers have been rotting in a port in the Philippines for years. The Filipino government has been asking Canada to take back this trash, which has been rotting at the port in Manila. Environmentally concerned people in the Philippines were failed by two governments, the Conservatives and now the Liberals, at least until recently, and the Filipino-Canadian population in my riding desperately wants Canada to take back its garbage, quit using developing countries as a dumping ground for our trash over the marine areas and compensate the Government of the Philippines for all its costs in having to deal with this environmental offence over the last number of years.

I will turn to Bill C-55.

This bill would provide some new legal tools to speed up the creation of marine protected areas, MPAs, but it falls short of Canada's environmental and international commitments to protect our marine biodiversity. The bill fails to set a minimum protection standard and targets for zoning for marine protected areas, and while the government recently announced new standards for marine protected areas, we are concerned that omitting them from Bill C-55, from the legislation itself, and instead relegating them to regulations opens them up to easy reversal under a future government. This process would give the minister far too much latitude to decide what activities are permissible in an MPA. The government's new standards would not be enshrined in law and would therefore be easier to undo under a future minister.

As we have heard, Canada has pledged to the international community to protect 5% of Canada's marine areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020 with the aim to halt the destruction of habitats and ecosystems and to protect against the erosion that has gone on for decades under successive Conservative and Liberal governments. In fact, Liberal and Conservative governments have both failed to take meaningful action since signing the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. That is 25 years of a commitment that has really been ignored by successive Liberal and Conservative governments.

I think Canadians would be somewhat shocked to know that most marine protected areas today still allow extractive fishing activity, and one even allows for oil and gas exploration. Thankfully, the government recently announced that it would prohibit oil and gas activities, mining, dumping and bottom trawling in MPAs, and that is a good thing. However, it stopped short of creating so-called no-take areas, which have long been the recommendation of conservation groups.

I would also point out that Canada has yet to adopt the IUCN international marine protection standard, and 15 university scientists from St. John's to Victoria have written to the former minister of fisheries and oceans and the current Minister of Environment and Climate Change to ask for stiffer conservation measures in Canada's 12 marine conservation areas, as well as those being proposed in the future. Imagine if we allowed hunters into international parks to hunt. I think that would be absolutely shocking to most Canadians, and totally unacceptable. Why then would we allow it in marine protected areas? The very name implies a marine area that we are protecting. Would we not say that in this one area, there is to be no activity that would extract any marine species or life in that area?

Ninety per cent of Canada's marine areas are open to extractive fishing, so we are not talking about creating a huge burden on Canada's fishing industry. However, if we are going to protect an area for future generations, then we should protect it, and that means not allowing any kind of economic activity other than enjoyment and tourism and people coming to visit those areas and leaving a soft footprint when they are there.

The NDP moved a number of amendments to this legislation that we felt would have made the legislation stronger. We had five objectives. We wanted to enshrine minimum protection standards in the act. Unfortunately, that was rejected by the Liberal government. We wanted to maintain ecological integrity as the primary objective of an MPA. We wanted to enshrine co-governance with indigenous peoples as the governing principle of this act and establish the authority of indigenous guardians, who have such a long, millennial, actually, relationship with these areas under their stewardship. We wanted to require the establishment of significant no-take zones, as I just mentioned. Finally, we wanted to facilitate the implementation of networks of MPAs, which, of course, would facilitate the movement of species from one MPA to another.

Unfortunately, the Liberals were not interested in our amendments. They did pass some Green amendments and one from an independent member that touched on themes similar to ours. Unfortunately, those amendments were diluted versions of our own. We would certainly have been happier if we had received a robust adoption of the principles I just highlighted.

I want to point out some quotes from some environmental and marine experts in this country that show how important this legislation is. I want to quote from West Coast Environmental Law. Its representative said:

The law is currently very inconsistent. As you've heard and will probably continue to hear, people are astonished to learn that oil and gas exploration, undersea mining, and damaging fishing activities are all possible in the tiny fraction of the sea that we [currently] call marine protected areas. That's why an unprecedented 70,000 Canadians, members of the public, spoke out about one of the proposed new MPAs, Laurentian Channel, and said that we need to keep harmful activities out of these areas.

That is simply common sense. Again, I will give the government credit for announcing last week that its policy would be to prohibit those activities other than establishing no-take areas. That is a very important development. Again, I am curious as to why the government did not see fit to enshrine those standards in the legislation itself, where they would have been far more entrenched and more difficult for any future government to unwind.

We did see, in the previous government, that the Conservatives did massive damage to our navigable waters act and to ecological principles, not only on water but on land and in air as well.

I want to comment for a moment on how important it is that we are going to prohibit bottom trawling. I quote:

The scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that bottom trawling has significant damaging impacts to sea floor ecosystems, and that no-take fishing areas are a key component of effective MPAs. Research shows that MPAs that permit varying levels of fishing and other activities are less effective at achieving biodiversity than fully protected areas.

International best practices suggest MPA 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 when compared to the overall MPAs. Canada should follow international examples and make no-take zones the rule rather than the exception...[in] MPAs.

That was from our very excellent former fisheries critic, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, who has spent a lifetime in watershed development, river health and marine ecosystems.

I want to also take a moment to contrast this bill with the Canada National Parks Act. The Canada National Parks Act sets a high bar for maintaining ecological integrity in all national parks. However, marine protected areas lack the clear minimum protection standards that terrestrial parks benefit from.

The federal government recently announced that a national advisory panel would be established to provide the Ministry of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard with advice on minimum standards for future Oceans Act MPAs. This would still leave protection standards to the subjective judgment of the minister. Since fisheries ministers in the past have permitted seabed mining, oil and gas exploration and other industrial activities in MPAs, we do not have confidence in that discretion. Of course, that is based on empirical experience, not theoretical concerns. Therefore, the solution is to enshrine minimum protection standards in the legislation. The NDP would continue to urge the current government and future governments to take that very important step.

Our oceans are a critical part of our country. They are critical to our economy, our culture and our social relations. They are enjoyed by millions of Canadians from coast to coast. Therefore, in the same way we want to ensure that we continue to expand our protection for natural terrestrial parks, we need to do the same in marine areas. To do that, there can be no half measures. We should not be quibbling. We should be having world-class, cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, complete protection of marine biodiversity in all marine protected areas. Frankly, given that it is still such a small percentage of the vast oceans that many members in this House have already commented on, with Canada, I believe, having the largest coastline in the world, I think the case can strongly be made that in those few small areas we are protecting, we should protect them completely.

The New Democrats will be voting in support of this legislation, because it makes the designation of marine protected areas easier and faster, which is a good thing. We support the government's policy announcement last week that it will strengthen and tighten the kinds of damaging industrial and commercial activities that frankly gut the purpose of marine protected areas. However, we will be pushing the government in every positive way we can to make sure that this legislation responds in a more positive way to the concerns that have been raised, because it is not quite there yet.

I want to conclude my remarks by talking about the indigenous nations in Canada. In the New Democrats' view, reconciliation should be part of all legislation. Additional designations are welcome tools, but it does not make sense, in our view, to exclude the explicit recognition of indigenous rights in the Oceans Act. Given the implications of MPAs on indigenous constitutional rights, we believe this omission is irresponsible, and frankly, inconsistent with the current government's stated objective of pursuing reconciliation. The federal government's commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to working in a true nation-to-nation relationship with Canada's indigenous peoples is something we need to make a reality. Every time the government introduces legislation that does not make an explicit and strong reference to those indigenous rights, we see it as a missed opportunity and evidence that the government's commitment to reconciliation is more one of words than of action.

I will conclude with this. British Columbians are very proud of our west coast. New Democrats are very proud to be strong defenders of those coasts and all the species that live within them. That is why we are going to continue to fight hard against irresponsible pipeline decisions that threaten our coast. We are going to fight for strong environmental protections for all marine areas, for the expansion of those areas and for 100% protection of those marine protected areas so that all species, from the orca to the salmon to the human, who enjoy those areas can continue to enjoy them for millennia to come.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be here today to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, and the amendments sent to us by the other place.

Our government is in fact committed to increasing the proportion of marine and coastal areas that are protected to 10% by the year 2020. Over the past four years, we have worked with a great deal of people to increase our protected areas from just 1% under the former Conservative government to over 8% under the Liberal government.

Indeed, it is under the government and the Prime Minister that this great nation is showing leadership on the issue of marine protection. We are well on our way to achieving our target with sound science and transparent decision-making, once again, working with those within these communities.

We are actively engaging with our partners in both provinces and territories and with indigenous groups, marine industries and all Canadians to increase protections and meet our targets while supporting a health oceans economy. An important part of meeting those targets is Bill C-55.

As many members already know, the bill seeks to provide a new authority for the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to designate an area for interim protection. A decision to either permanently designate the interim area or to repeal the interim order must be made within five years. This mechanism allows for interim protection to areas that are currently under consideration for permanent designation, as the current process takes an average of between seven and 10 years and, currently, in the lead-up to a final designation, there is no mechanism to allow us to protect this area.

While we support the reasons behind the amendments made by the other place, we cannot support the message received as the amendment would add changes that are already required under the existing legislation and would make the interim process longer and more complex than the process for permanent designation.

That is why we have proposed an alternate amendment that captures the intent of the Senate's concerns, while also ensuring that the objective of Bill C-55, which is to provide faster protection, is in fact upheld.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Senate for its work, especially the sponsor, Senator Bovey. While she represents the beautiful province of Manitoba, I know she spent some years on the west coast and has continued to be a strong advocate for the protection and conservation of all of our oceans.

I also want to thank the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard for his leadership on this file. I know he was in Montreal just last month to announce new standards for marine protected areas that would prohibit oil and gas exploration. This announcement was indeed supported not just by Canadians across Canada but around the world.

Canada is taking real action when it comes to protecting our marine environment, but more must and will be done by those not only within government, but our partners throughout our great nation.

That is why we are here today, debating the merits of Bill C-55, a bill that has been received and has been given countless hours of robust debate. Five amendments to the bill, proposed by Conservative, Green and independent members, were adopted by the House on April 25, 2018. The bill has received support in one form or another by all parties in this chamber.

An important principle that acts as the basis of the bill that I would like to speak to and about is the precautionary principle.

Bill C-55 would require the ministries of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Governor in Council to apply the precautionary principle when deciding whether to designate new marine protected areas. This would facilitate the decisions to designate a marine protected area. The principle recognizes that the absence of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing decisions where there is a risk of serious or irreversible harm.

Indeed, if information such as the recent report by the United Nations on the collapse of biodiversity has told us anything, it is that we cannot wait to take action to protect our environment. While many of the members opposite want to sit in their seats and wait for more species to go extinct and for weather conditions to worsen because they have no plan for the environment or our marine areas, Canadians can be absolutely certain that the members sitting on this side are listening and responding accordingly.

We are listening and we are taking action because we know we cannot simply wait for our fish stocks to collapse before that is enough evidence to do something about it. We know there are options now, right at this moment, options that we can move forward with and therefore do the right thing to support a healthy marine environment and the communities that depend on those environments.

A good example of this, which has already been raised a few times but cannot be repeated enough, is the good work this government is doing with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the Government of Nunavut to explore the designation of a high Arctic basin for marine protection.

Last month, we announced the memorandum of understanding that outlines the commitment to co-operation that all three parties have signed onto in moving forward with this protection. Furthermore, budget 2019 outlines funds that will be available to support the development of a conservation economy in the High Arctic Basin, with support for critical marine infrastructure.

We know that Bill C-55 will facilitate this process by providing a mechanism that can be used to apply interim protection to the area until a final designation is in fact made. This is not only a good example of how government is taking action now, but is doing so the right way by engaging with the territorial government and respecting the Nunavut land claim agreement and working with rights holders, the QIA.

The members opposite want to say that this government is trying to take shortcuts with the bill, but I put the question for Canadians: Is a process that still takes an average of seven years, with the passage of this bill, to designate a permanent MPA taking a shortcut? Is debating the bill for almost two years in both chambers taking a shortcut? Is listening to the message received by the Senate and proposing an amendment that seeks to capture the intent of this change, while still respecting the objective of the bill, taking a shortcut?

I think that Canadians believe that the answer is no, no and no. I do not expect members opposite to agree with the government on this issue or with Canadians, because we know that those members have no plan for the environment. However, I want all Canadians to know that this Liberal government has taken leadership on this issue, and overall on the issue of the environment, and we will do whatever we can to get this bill passed and our marine areas protected.

As Canadians, we are all connected to our oceans, which are significant to our heritage, culture and economy, and are essential to all life on this great planet. In 2015, our government promised that 5% of Canada's marine and coastal areas would be protected by 2017, and we delivered. Over 8% of our oceans are now protected, which is up from less than 1% when we took office in 2015. Now our government is committed to reaching our international target of 10% by 2020, as I mentioned earlier. We will do this with sound science and transparent decision-making, working with our provinces and territories and communities that have a direct interest in the decision-making process.

One of the forms of protection is a marine protected area, MPA, under the Oceans Act, where unique species and their habitats are conserved and protected. We have examined how the Oceans Act could be updated to facilitate the designation process for MPAs without sacrificing science or the public's ability to provide their input, their thoughts and, most importantly, their interests in a process that considers the consequences of the decisions being made. The current process for a designated marine protected area is lengthy. These proposed amendments to the Oceans Act would shorten the time required to put protection in place, while ensuring that shortcuts are not taken when it comes to these consultations.

This legislation would, among other things, ensure that marine protection can in fact be done and completed in a timely manner by allowing the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to designate provisional protections to an interim MPA while the steps for a permanent MPA are in fact followed. The interim MPA would freeze the footprint of current activities in sensitive areas that are being considered for Oceans Act MPA designation. It would also allow for ongoing activities, those that have taken place in the last year, to continue.

We will continue engaging with our partners in the provinces and territories and with indigenous groups, marine industries and all Canadians. I cannot emphasize enough how inclusive this process is and will continue to be, to ensure the protection and meet the targets we proposed back in 2015, which we are now continuing to work toward.

Our government made a commitment to increase the proportion of Canada's marine and coastal areas to 10% by 2020, and we are going to meet that commitment, which we started in 2015. This proposed legislation is part of our plan to reach these targets. The proposed amendments would shorten the time required to put protection in place and allow interim protection for sensitive marine areas. Currently, there is no protection until there is full protection.

The Senate amendment is duplicative and requires an additional consultation period beyond what is already required in legislation. If accepted, the Senate amendment would make the order process for interim protection more complex and lengthy than the process for designating an amendment or permanent MPA. This would go against the objective of this bill, which is underpinned by the precautionary approach and seeks to create a mechanism that will allow for faster interim protection to marine and coastal areas.

However, we understand the concerns. We understand the concerns made by some members of the Senate, and that is why we have proposed an amendment that captures the intent of the message received by the Senate. Our proposal will ensure that the geographical location and all other relevant information, as well as information on all consultations undertaken, are published when an order for interim protection is made.

I come from a Great Lakes region, Niagara, and of course, with that we have just recently announced plans to look at protection of the Great Lakes, and there are reasons for that. I look at it under a triple-bottom-line lens. That triple bottom line lens consists of, in order of priority, economy, environment and social issues—the effects and consequences of decisions made on our waterways, whether they be the Great Lakes or our oceans.

Some of the things I have learned throughout the past years in my former life as a mayor and now as an MP are the critical responsibilities that we have, how critical it is to work with our communities, how critical it is to work with our businesses and our residents in those areas, ensuring that economic, social and environmental considerations are taken before those decisions are made, and how important it is that their interests are placed at the forefront of those decisions.

This bill, Bill C-55, is no different with respect to the oceans and, of course, the areas that we have to preserve to ensure that future generations—not just five, 10 or 15 years down the road but 20, 30, 40 or 50 years down the road—are looked after when it comes to our environment and what is attached to our environment.

In closing, I would like to say this. Although we here in Parliament sit in four-year terms, it is important that the vision goes beyond those four years and looks at 20- to 50-year thoughts, priorities, responsibilities and, therefore, strategies. Bill C-55 does that. I look forward to Bill C-55 passing in this House. Therefore, the thoughts and, of course, responsibilities that we have for future generations will be taken as forthright, in front of mind, and the strategies attached to same will include the involvement and priorities of the people whom we are going to actually affect by this legislation, the communities and those along our waterfronts.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 6 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a great point. Not only are we leaders internationally with respect to our responsibilities when it comes to the environment, our oceans and our great lakes, but we cannot do it alone. We have to be in this together. Our marine industry, being the obvious front-of-mind participant in action like this, has been very responsible. The Chamber of Marine Commerce and the companies it represents are equally important. Initiatives such as Green Marine and other initiatives have contributed to our overall ability to have these policies and bills, like Bill C-55, put in place here in the House and put into practice.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today on behalf of the fine people of Red Deer—Lacombe, in central Alberta, to talk again about this legislation, one which the Senate sent back to the House because it saw the same flaws in it that the opposition did.

The bill was passed at third reading by the Liberal majority government in an expeditious way as an attempt to fulfill its political objectives, without giving due consideration to the impacts the bill would have on the people of Canada, notwithstanding that it is about marine protected areas.

I do not think any reasonable Canadian would think that having marine protected areas is a bad idea. In fact, the previous Conservative government created many marine protected areas in fresh water and in our oceans. The current government has an ambitious plan to set aside 10% of our marine areas for protection by 2020.

The fisheries committee, of which I am a member, travelled across the country to talk to various stakeholders and groups about what that would actually look like. We heard loudly and clearly from aboriginal groups, particularly from those in coastal communities that rely on the ocean or the sea for their way of life, about their concern that marine protected areas would interfere with or infringe upon their lifestyles. The Inuit of the north want to have access to various estuaries for beluga harvesting or fishing. The coastal communities rely on shipping and marine traffic. The indigenous communities rely on salmon, halibut, clams and so on, not only for their personal use but also for the socio-economic interests that exist within their various bands.

In its wisdom, the Senate has basically found that Bill C-55 does not do a very good job of addressing the concerns of some of these communities. In fact, Senator Patterson, who is from the Nunavut territory, wanted to amend clause 5 of the bill to enhance consultation and co-operation measures. Even the government touts itself as one that wants to ensure the consultative process is done. However, the Senate, which is now dominated by members appointed by the Prime Minister, has sided with Senator Patterson, saying the bill needs to go back to have that clause reviewed.

Some people in my home province of Alberta may be asking why a guy from Alberta is so focused on fisheries, particularly on the west coast. They may wonder why a guy from central Alberta, who is also a farm boy, is always talking about fish and salmon. It just happens to be something I know a little bit about. I also understand that standing in between the economic prosperity of the people I represent in central Alberta and their future is the ability to ship energy products off Canada's Pacific coast.

Nobody back home in my riding actually believes that the current government has Alberta's best interests at heart. That is why traditionally, after the prime minister with the same last name as the current Prime Minister was elected, the Liberal brand, especially at the provincial level, is virtually a non-starter in Alberta. Why?

For people with a short memory or who have not learned their history very well, it is because people realized that brand and name just meant economic chaos. Whether through the National Energy Board program that was implemented some 40 years ago or the programs that are being implemented now, nobody back in Alberta believes that the marine protected area measures in Bill C-55 will not be used as a political sledgehammer to further restrict Alberta's ability to export its natural resource products off the coast, and this is why.

First and foremost, the current government, even though it tries to say otherwise, does not like fossil fuels. The Prime Minister has been very clear, through slips of the tongue, that the oil sands need to be phased out and stopped. He said as much. He said in response to questions about the carbon tax that the increasing cost of energy and the increasing cost of fuel for Canadians is what we want. When I say “we want”, I am using the Prime Minister's words. It is what the Prime Minister thinks Canadians actually want.

Right now we have a situation in British Columbia in which the Premier of British Columbia is basically threatening to block the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, yet at the same time threatening to sue the Government of Alberta if it chooses to shut off the existing Trans Mountain pipeline's delivery of oil. We find ourselves in this really bizarre world here in Canada, where nobody actually believes that anybody in the Liberal Party or the NDP wants to allow any more pipelines built to our west coast.

We have the carbon tax. We have had the regulatory changes. We have had the outright cancelling of the northern gateway pipeline by Enbridge and the changing of the regulatory process for energy east. The very first thing that the Liberal government published in November 2015 was changes that it made to the consultation process on pipelines, further delaying the Trans Mountain expansion and energy east and killing outright the northern gateway pipeline.

Everybody in the sector calls Bill C-69 the no-more-pipelines bill. This legislation is designed specifically and purposely to ensure that no more oil pipelines will be built in Canada, thereby trapping Alberta, Saskatchewan or all of Canada's energy in the North American marketplace. We sell that crude oil at a discount in the North American marketplace. Then it gets refined and shipped back to us at full price, and Canadians have to pick up the tab.

We have seen the proposed tanker ban legislation, Bill C-48, on the west coast. Interestingly enough, the government, which claims to care so much about the marine environment, did not put a tanker ban on the east coast to forbid tankers from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and elsewhere from bringing energy to the eastern shores of Canada, even though eastern Canadians would much prefer to buy oil that was taken from the ground here in Canada and refined here in Canada for the use of all Canadians and for the economic benefit of everybody.

It would not be a stretch in any way, shape or form to believe that the current sitting Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, or any version thereof that the Liberal government has had sitting in that seat, would use Bill C-55.

I have no reason as an Albertan to believe anything other than that marine protected areas will be specifically designated and set up in areas not based on science or not based on where the marine protected area could do the most good for the preservation of species or the preservation of unique habitat or ecosystems, but instead in specifically designated areas to block the kinds of industrial activity that the government does not favour, notwithstanding that there is a tanker ban already in place through Bill C-48.

People back home need to understand that in the creation of a national park, there is normally a long and arduous process. A consultative process takes place, as well as a gazetting process through the National Parks Act, usually in the form of a willing seller and willing buyer. When national parks are purchased or require land that is already privately held, going through that process would be a requirement. The annexation part did not work out too well for the previous prime minister of Liberal persuasion when he tried that in Atlantic Canada, so here we find ourselves using Crown land in the north, which is where most Crown land is. Anytime a new national park is created, it is created on Crown land, but oceans are owned by nobody. They are actually owned by Her Majesty the Queen. They are owned by the Crown in right of the people of Canada.

The minister, through Bill C-55 should it pass in its current form, will have the ability to designate a marine protected area wherever he or she sees fit. There is no legislative requirement at all for the minister to use best science. There is no legislative requirement at all for that process to be gazetted, not one.

This is the most powerful piece of legislation that I have seen that gives the minister the outright ability to take up to 10%—because the government is saying that is the target—of our oceans and close them down in full or part, however the minister sees fit. That means that he or she can designate a marine protected area that is completely closed from all activity, right from the sunlit zone at the top of the water, all the way through the pelagic zone to the littoral zone at the bottom, if there is enough sunlight there to create that, or even down into the benthos or the layer at the bottom of the ocean floor, and cease and desist all activity.

The minister could make any list of exemptions that he or she wants in order to accommodate whatever political agenda they have. They could deny fishing, trawling, tanker traffic or specific tanker traffic. They could simply say, just as Bill C-48 does, that ships will be allowed through as long as the ship does not contain products x, y or z. There is no ability in this legislation at all for any recourse whatsoever.

I would bet anybody with a crisp $10 bill who wants to take me up on it—maybe this is dangerous because I am not a gambler—that marine protected areas in the first tranche, once this legislation comes to pass, will be set up at the Dixon Entrance and the Hecate Strait, outside of Prince Rupert, to make darn sure that, if Bill C-48 fails, not a single tanker will be allowed out of that area—the Prince Rupert-Kitimat area—carrying any type of crude oil or any of its byproducts or any of its refined products.

Anybody who does not think that is going to happen is dreaming. We will have no justification or rationale printed in any Gazette for why the minister is choosing to do this, because they are not obligated to under the legislation. That is why the Senate has coughed this bill back up and sent it back to this place. I do not expect the government to actually take any of these amendments seriously. I expect we will probably get time allocation. I know that the government has already sent a note back to the Senate on this piece of legislation.

I actually do not expect the government to accept any of these recommendations. I do not expect the government to take any amendments on this legislation that would limit the heavy-handed unilateral ability of the minister to basically outline or delineate anywhere he or she sees fit to accomplish the Liberal political agenda. That is what I find most egregious and most frustrating with this piece of legislation.

The minister will have the ability, once Bill C-55 passes, to designate whether certain tanker traffic is allowed, or any products, or if any tanker traffic is allowed at all. The minister will be allowed to decide whether any commercial fishing would happen in that area. The minister would be allowed to determine whether any sport fishing or recreational fishing would be allowed to happen in that particular area, and set any terms and conditions for it. The minister already has that ability to regulate fisheries through the Fisheries Act, but this is something they are going to have the ability to do even further through the marine protected area legislation, which is what Bill C-55 is all about.

The government will also have the unilateral ability—and I am assuming this will get challenged almost immediately—to actually decide what the indigenous peoples of this country will be able to do in those marine protected areas. I do not expect the government to actually put too many restrictions on them, but it may. I would be curious to see how those actually stand up to a test.

It is very frustrating, because the talking points coming from the government will make it sound as though this is a great idea. Of course, Canadians, who think with their hearts—as many Canadians do, and it is okay to think with the heart from time time—are going to say that 10% of our marine area is going to be protected and that is fantastic. However, here is the rub. There is no actual scientific requirement or any requirement in the legislation at all that is going to require the minister of fisheries and oceans to follow any rules or obligations in the establishment of a marine protected area.

I will give an example of what happens on the terrestrial side of the equation. Years ago, when I was taking my zoology degree at the University of Alberta, the numbers floated and bandied around back then—and that was almost 30 years ago—were 12.5%, 75% and 12.5%, and I mentioned this in my earlier speech. It was that 12.5% of the terrestrial land mass should be set aside for complete preservation or in a national park-like structure, with very little use, very little activity.

This land is designated in a preservation classification type of area. Of course, that also needs to be representative of the various biozones that we have, in order to get the approval of the United Nations and all the other agencies that watch these things. It could not all be, for example, in the Arctic. We would have to represent things like grasslands, which is why we have the creation of Grasslands National Park, which is still ongoing. We would have to represent all of that area in order to protect a representative sample of all the various ecosystems and habitats in the country.

It was decided a long time ago that 75% of the land mass would be classified as common use, areas where conservation management practices actually come into play to manage the environmental considerations that we have. Another 12.5% was set aside as complete use, things that are paved over, under concrete, cities, roads, highways, industrial areas, things of that nature, where these kinds of human activities need to happen in order to benefit and improve the quality of life of all people, not only in Canada but around the world. It was 12.5%, 75% and 12.5%.

Now we see that shift on the terrestrial environment, moving forward, but here is the rub. Any time somebody wants to grow that 12.5% of the preserved land area, that person has to take that land from that particular area. We just saw how badly this backfired for Rachel Notley in Alberta, when she tried to take some of the land that is classified in the public land use zone, the 75% of conservation and well-managed land and terrestrial areas. To put that space in the preservation pot, a person has to take it from the 75%, which is everybody who lives and makes a living in small rural areas across our country. It is very seldom that anybody in an urban area has to pay a price or a consequence for the development of a preservation boundary inside his or her jurisdiction, very seldom.

The same thing is going to happen in these marine protected areas. It is not going to cost anything for people who do not venture out onto the ocean, because it is not going to impact their lives. However, all those who live in small, rural, coastal communities or make a living by going out onto the water will now have to contend with arbitrary delineations of marine protected areas and make sure they follow whatever rules and conditions the minister has made. The minister, according to this legislation, can make any rules he or she sees fit. It is limitless. It does not have to be gazetted and it does not need the approval of anybody, other than a ministerial order. It does not even need the approval of the Governor in Council. It does not even need the approval of his or her cabinet colleagues.

The minister can simply sign a ministerial order and declare an area as a marine protected area. That is unwieldy power, especially when we are talking about 10% of the surface area on down, right through the water column to the bottom of the sea, the ocean, the lake, the river or whatever it happens to be. That is under the care and control of just one decision-maker in this country. That is a lot of power. It is power that our friends in the Senate have said should be reconsidered, and that is why they sent this piece of legislation back here.

I truly hope that this House takes a serious look at this legislation. I know the government is running out of time in its legislative agenda, but I sure hope that common sense will prevail, that the right thing will be done and that these amendments from the Senate will be given due consideration and every opportunity to be re-examined and studied, and not only by this chamber. I would love to see this bill go back to the committee so it can look at some of the work the Senate committee did, so that we, as the elected representatives of the people of Canada, have a better understanding as to exactly what the impacts of the bill would be.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 6:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Mr. Speaker, nearly two years after it was first introduced, I have the honour to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, a bill that has the support of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Before I get to the collaborative motion we are debating today, in response to the message received from the other place a little over a week ago, I would like to correct some inaccuracies that have come out in members' comments on this motion.

First, the member for Sherbrooke said that we have protected just 1.5% of our marine areas to date, that we missed our 2017 target and that, according to him, we are on track to miss our target of 10% in 2020. With all due respect, the member's figures are completely wrong. Perhaps he was talking about the former Conservative government's record. I assure the House that those figures do not apply to this government, and I would like to clarify the facts.

To date, under the direction of the current Liberal government, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and our Prime Minister, we have protected 8.27% of our marine and coastal areas, compared to only 1% under the previous Conservative government. In fact, before reaching 8.27%, we announced in October 2017 that we had reached the objective of 5%.

With respect to the environment and the protection of marine biodiversity, our government is implementing the measures Canadians want and expect. In spite of what the member for Sherbrooke said last week, we have effectively reached our objectives and we are on track to reach our 10% objective in 2020.

The member for Sherbrooke also stated that the current government's standards for marine protected areas were not very high. I would like to remind the House that last month, at the Nature Champions Summit in Montreal, the government and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard showed great leadership by announcing new standards for marine protected areas in order to strengthen conservation and the protection of important marine habitats.

The announcement means that marine protected areas will operate a bit like national parks and ensure a high level of protection of the environment by banning four industrial activities in these zones, namely oil and gas activities, mining, discharging, and bottom trawling. This approach is consistent with the recommendations of the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards.

In fact, Oceana, the main marine protection agency, said that this announcement of standards for marine protected areas is a great step forward and will help ensure appropriate protection for Canada's most important marine areas; that marine protected areas meeting these standards will help protect fragile habitats that provide nursery, spawning and feeding areas for marine wildlife from harmful practices such as oil and gas activities and bottom-contact gear; that it is also a critical step toward rebuilding abundance and restoring our oceans to health, which will benefit coastal communities for generations to come.

The day the announcement was made, Megan Leslie, former NDP member, tweeted the “announcement by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on new standards for marine protection: no oil and gas, no mining, no bottom trawling.” She said she was at a bit of a loss for words. The tweet ended with emoijs of applause, trophies, and celebration.

The government's achievements in marine environmental protection really do deserve to be celebrated and applauded. The government is committed to protecting the environment, and that is just what this motion and bill are meant to do.

Now that I have corrected certain inaccurate statements made during last week's debate, I would like to talk about this motion on the Senate amendment.

The message we received from the other place just over a week ago contains one duplicative amendment. If adopted, it would make the interim protection process more complex and costly than the process of designating a permanent marine protected area.

That would go against the purpose of the bill, which is to provide protection to our marine areas more quickly while ensuring that exhaustive consultations continue. However, the government is also listening. We understand the concerns of the honourable senators in the other place, and we agree that the provincial and territorial governments, as well as the communities that will be most affected by an interim or permanent order concerning a marine protected area, should always be consulted and be part of the process.

That is why we proposed an amendment to the Senate amendment that takes the concerns that have been raised into consideration. First, the amendment requires the minister, when making an interim protection order, to publish a report indicating the geographic location and any other relevant information, including social, cultural and economic information.

The amendment goes even further. As we have always said regarding the duplicative Senate amendment on consultations, since consultations are already explicitly required and covered by sections 29 to 33 of the Oceans Act, the minister would also be required to publish information on past consultations.

The government has listened, and we know we can move forward in the right way with this bill and the proposed amendment.

The purpose of this bill is simply to provide another tool to protect marine environments by creating a mechanism that will enable the minister to freeze the footprint of activities currently under way in an area until a definitive designation is revoked or until it receives a permanent marine protected area designation.

On average, it takes between seven and 10 years to establish a marine protected area. All this bill would do is temporarily protect an area until permanent designation can be obtained, which is something Canadians support. Considering the important aspects of marine environments that need protecting and the fact that it takes between seven and 10 years to establish a marine protected area, if we want to ensure long-term protection for an area, we need to adopt this bill. This common-sense measure establishes certain protection standards until such time as an area is designated.

I would add that this bill has been before both houses for nearly two years now. The House committee alone met nine times to discuss it and heard from 36 witnesses representing a broad range of important interest groups.

Earlier I talked about last month's announcement by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard about new standards for marine protected areas and the support we have received on this issue not only here at home but around the world. Clearly, there is now tremendous support for protecting our oceans, so what are we waiting for? Let's adopt this bill and protect our oceans for our children and grandchildren.

I live near the coast, and we are already seeing major changes happening very fast. Over the past four or five years, the Gulf of St. Lawrence has warmed up faster than any other marine environment on the planet. We must act now to save species and the environment.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 10:05 a.m.
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Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak about Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. The bill would help protect our marine and coastal areas, and it would bring us closer to our 10% marine conservation target by the end of 2020.

Before I get into the substance of the amendment and the bill, I would like to thank the sponsor of the bill in the other place. I know that it is because of her passion for protecting our marine and coastal areas that we are here today debating the bill before we can see it pass and in action providing interim protection for our oceans.

While we commend the work of members of the other place and the important discussions that took place when the bill was under consideration in the other chamber, we are unable to support the amendments that were made at committee and subsequently passed.

However, in debating the motion today, we are proposing an amendment that we believe would capture the intent of the amendment from the other place. The proposed amendment would, first, in line with the amendment on geographical location, require that the geographical location of a proposed area for interim protection be published when an order was made, along with other information relevant and necessary to the order.

Second, as we have maintained, the amendment on consultations by the member of the other place representing Nunavut is indeed already covered by existing legislation and regulations. That is why our amendment proposes to require that consultations undertaken to establish the interim protection MPA be published upon an order being made. We have said repeatedly that consultations are required, so now the government would ensure that we showed that consultations had taken place for the interim protection MPA to be established in the first place.

Discussions in the other place looked at the importance of consultation and engagement, which will continue to be the foundation for establishing all marine protected areas, or MPAs, now and in the future.

Bill C-55 does not weaken our commitment to develop MPAs in collaboration with governments, partners, stakeholders and the public. This bill does not take shortcuts in establishing MPAs. It does not eliminate any steps. In fact, it provides new tools to make sure we are protecting more of our marine environment.

As members know, the purpose of the bill is to allow the optional use of a new mechanism to provide interim protection for an ecologically sensitive marine area and to freeze the footprint of activities in the area following initial science and consultations with our many partners and stakeholders. This freeze on ongoing activities would be in place for five years, during which additional science and consultations would continue as part of the process to establish a permanent marine protected area.

The proposed ability to provide interim protection is a common-sense approach that would respond to the reality that during the seven to 10 years it takes to establish an MPA, nothing is protected. With the new interim protection provision, some measure of protection would be provided, in the spirit of the precautionary approach.

The bill would also modernize enforcement powers, which would bring the act in line with other environmental legislation. These new powers would be important for ensuring the effectiveness of our 13 current marine protected areas and for meeting each of their conservation objectives.

The discussion in the other place on amendments focused predominantly on, one, ensuring that communities most affected were part of the consultation process, and two, fulfilling our duty to consult with indigenous peoples, as required under section 35 of the Constitution.

I would like to assure members of this chamber that our government takes both of these requirements very seriously. Engagement, consultations and consideration of socio-economic information and traditional knowledge are fundamental cornerstones to establishing marine protected areas and, indeed, for interim protection under this bill.

I commend the members of the other place for their commitment to these issues and for ensuring that their regions are well represented in the debate on Bill C-55.

We consult and collaborate with a wide range of governments and marine resource users as well as other stakeholders, experts and the public at various stages, including the following: at the outset, to select an area of interest; when gathering information needed about the ecological importance of a sensitive marine area, the socio-economic conditions related to the area and any current or planned activities that may be of concern; when identifying initial boundaries and conservation objectives for an area based on the best available science, including traditional and local knowledge and a risk analysis; and when developing a proposed regulatory approach and studying the benefits and costs of such an approach. There is also a 30-day public comment period when the regulations are pre-published in the Canada Gazette. We consult on an ongoing basis to provide input to the development of the management plan for an area, and of course, MPAs are collaboratively managed with local partners once designated. Furthermore, sections 29 to 33 of the current Oceans Act explicitly outline required consultations.

As pointed out by the sponsor of the bill in the other place, based on an analysis by Professor Nigel Bankes, from the University of Calgary, the change proposed by the member of the other place representing Nunavut is a piecemeal amendment that is counter to the spirit and intent of the proposed interim protection provision. It would only serve to slow down a process where the objective is to do quite the opposite, which is to provide early protection to areas on an interim basis and following the precautionary approach.

Senator Patterson’s amendment and, indeed, his explanation are based on the need to ensure that consultations take place. As I previously stated, sections 29 to 33 in the Oceans Act already provide for this, and all legislation must respect section 35 of the Constitution.

Furthermore, an amendment put forth by the member for Nunavut, which is based on a request from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and supported by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, was passed by the House committee and would ensure that all interim protection orders would be consistent with existing land claim agreements. Therefore, I respectfully suggest that the amendment from the member of the other place is unnecessary. As Professor Bankes stated, it would add requirements to establishing interim protections that are greater than what is required when establishing a permanent MPA and would curtail the application of the precautionary approach.

Professor Bankes writes:

since the amendment is only proposed to apply to the creation of MPAs by ministerial order and not to the process of creating an MPA by Order in Council and regulation, it will arguably be more difficult to use the ministerial order process than the MPA by regulation process.

I hope members will agree that this is neither logical nor consistent with the purpose of the bill. As the parliamentary secretary on this file, it is my view that we cannot continue to allow areas of ecological significance to go unprotected. This bill helps to achieve that without shortchanging consultations with provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, coastal communities and stakeholders.

Many members will recall that in 2012, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development commented on the slow pace of establishing marine protected areas in Canadian waters. The report stated:

During the 20 years since Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, 10 federal MPAs have been established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada as part of their marine protected area programs. Federal, provincial and territorial governments and non-governmental organizations are collectively protecting about 1 percent of Canada's oceans and Great Lakes through MPAs. At the current rate of progress, it will take many decades for Canada to establish a fully functioning MPA network and achieve the target established in 2010 under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to conserve 10 percent of marine areas.

It is worth noting that we have come a long way over the past four years since our government took office in that we have increased our marine protected and coastal areas from less than 1% to over 8%.

However, the process continues to remain long and comprehensive. It still takes years to establish an MPA, but under Bill C-55, we have an opportunity to provide early protection for sensitive and ecologically significant areas that support the health of our oceans and the coastal communities that depend on them.

The report by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development also identified the following factors that affected the rate of progress in creating MPAs: prolonged jurisdictional negotiations, including unresolved land claims; a poor understanding by Canadians of the environmental and socio-economic benefits of MPAs; delays in the approval process; lengthy legislative and regulatory processes; and the competing interests of stakeholders.

In terms of the latter point, I will refer to a letter submitted by the QIA, which represents over 15,000 Inuit, regarding the need to ensure that the interim designation process respects the rights of the Inuit. The letter expresses QIA's opposition to Senator Patterson's amendment.

President Akeeagok writes:

The further proposed amendment under consideration...would require the Minister to hold an additional public comment and consultation period before issuing an interim MPA order. We are concerned that this proposed amendment risks undermining the actualization of Inuit rights by conflating the requirement to uphold the rights of Inuit with a broader engagement with the interests of stakeholders. The current version of Bill C-55, sets out the appropriate hierarchy.

West Coast Environmental Law also spoke out against the amendment in its letter dated March 20, 2019. It states:

The proposed amendment would require the Minister to hold a public comment and consultation period before issuing an interim MPA order. We are concerned that this proposed amendment is redundant and, at worst, risks defeating the purpose of the interim MPA order.

Their letter also emphasizes that aboriginal rights and indigenous interests are, indeed, protected by the government’s constitutional obligations and the Oceans Act.

As mentioned earlier, I believe this amendment represents a piecemeal effort to improving consultations and, rather than adding value to the process, is redundant and only serves one single section of the bill.

As Professor Bankes put it:

The result of this amendment, if adopted, will be to create a stand-alone set of consultation provisions with respect to a single section and a single power within the statute. This is not a logical approach to address and improve the standard of consultation, nor an approach that will provide certainty with respect to consultation. It will simply beg more questions than it answers with respect to issues such as what the rules are (or should be) with respect to other powers within this same statute.

I would also like to speak to the redundancy of the amendment regarding the requirement to post the approximate geographical location of a proposed protected area on the DFO website and to make a preliminary assessment of any habitat or species in that area before making an order for interim protection. Let me explain some of the reasons this is redundant.

We already meet the requirement to clearly identify and provide public information on the proposed boundaries for an area to be protected as well as details on the area’s important ecological features, such as its habitat and species.

Developing and making this information available to the public is already required under the federal regulatory process, as outlined in the Statutory Instruments Act and the Cabinet Directive on Regulations.

Marine protected areas are a globally and scientifically proven way to protect marine biodiversity and preserve special marine features. They also help restore our natural capital for the benefit of future generations, supporting the long-term sustainable use of our marine resources and the economic benefits this protection provides. This in turn has a direct and positive impact on coastal communities which rely on healthy oceans.

In short, marine conservation is an essential and integral part of long-term economic planning and helps us better prepare for the impacts of climate change. However, all of this is a moot point if we do not have the right mechanisms in place to establish marine protected areas in a more timely fashion both when and where it is needed. It is simply not acceptable to wait seven to 10 years to protect ecologically sensitive areas in our ocean.

Climate change, global warming and ocean acidification mean that time is no longer on our side, which is why our government has gone to great lengths and held extensive consultations to amend the Oceans Act. I submit that the two amendments put forward by the other place, while right in their intent, will actually hinder the work that needs to be done to protect our marine and coastal areas.

As such, we respectfully reject the amendment by the Senate and propose that an amendment that we believe fulfills the intent of the Senate amendment is accepted. This will help us protect our oceans in a more timely manner while we continue to consult with Canadians, apply the precautionary approach and make scientifically informed decisions.

I trust we can move forward with these important measures that are designed to protect our oceans and coasts for the benefit of all Canadians.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 10:25 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to put on the record that I will vote for Bill C-55, the Oceans Act, as it comes back to this place.

This is probably my only opportunity to say something I have been wanting to say for awhile, which is that we owe so much to the former minister of fisheries, the member for Parliament for Beauséjour. He worked hard to fix the Fisheries Act, Bill C-68, which I hope gets back to this place soon so we can pass it. I hope it passes in the Senate unamended.

We need Bill C-68 as quickly as possible. We need Bill C-55. Constituents have contacted me, asking me to vote for the Oceans Act, and I will.

However, I wanted to take a moment in the House to extend my best wishes and constant prayers for my friend, the member of Parliament for Beauséjour, the current Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade. I thank him for his work. I also thank the current Minister of Fisheries. This is important legislation and I am really pleased to see it have full support of the government.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary stated that the bill did not take shortcuts. That is absolutely and categorically not true. I have sat in the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans since the beginning of this Parliament. In fact, before Bill C-55 was brought to the House, I put forward a motion in committee that we study the process of establishing MPAs in Canada to ensure the process was open, accountable and effective.

This bill would take some shortcuts. It would enable the minister, without consultation, to establish areas of interest, not marine protected areas but areas of interest, that would allow the minister to absolutely shut down these areas for any activity other than what may have been taking place in the last 12 months, without any consultation and without any accountability whatsoever.

I would like the parliamentary secretary to explain how that is not a shortcut.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to these proposed amendments from the Senate and the government amendment to those amendments.

I believe all Canadians, myself included, want to see protection for the special areas and species we have in our marine systems, special features like sea mountains, hydrothermal vents, deep-sea gorges and the creatures and species that live in those places. They hold incredible examples of sea life, some of which I have seen as life-size replications at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia. Some of those species and replicas are so bizarre and unbelievable looking. They look like they are creatures out of a horror movie, but they live in some of the deep-sea gorges off our maritime coasts.

Those are certainly aspects that we need to consider protecting, but there are other aspects of the bill that have been equally or more concerning, and that is our coastal communities. Our country has been built on our fisheries. The cod fisheries off of Newfoundland certainly helped establish that great area of the country and then it became a part of this greater country in 1949. Fisheries on our west coast helped build the province of British Columbia into the strong province it is today. The fisheries continue to be a strong part of the economies there.

Over the past number of months, since the current government came into power, we continually have heard concerns from local communities, not just the fishermen in those communities but the businesses, the people, the schools and the churches, which all rely on the livelihoods of the people who make their living off the sea. We have seen protests in front of the minister's constituency office in the past week by people who are concerned about fisheries closures on the west coast. We saw protests on the east coast when the minister visited there. Lobster fishermen are concerned they will be shut out of areas due to marine protection. We have heard concerns from coast to coast to coast.

However, we did not see that kind of protest and concern in the north, and there was a reason for that. The marine protected areas there were proposed by the local communities, the local indigenous peoples and the local Inuit. They recognized the special features of the areas and the special cultural activities that took place in those areas.

We had an incredible opportunity as members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to do a study on the implementation process for marine protected areas in Canada. I put forward a motion in 2016 that the committee study the process to ensure it was efficient and equitable and that it considered all the processes in place, and possibly being put in place, to establish marine protected areas. I put forward that motion long before the government introduced Bill C-55. That particular study had to be set aside while we did the committee work on the study of Bill C-55. We integrated a lot of the testimony we heard both on the study put forward at committee and the committee study of Bill C-55.

In those processes, we saw the absolute importance of consultation in the process. That is the main thrust of the amendments put forward by the Senate, which are being watered down by the government amendment. The Senate looked at the bill and said there needed to be accountability, openness and transparency, which the government seems to lack. It has a record over the past three and a half years of a lack of accountability and transparency, which is very evident and clear to the Canadian public.

Bill C-55 was put forward with great intentions. It was meant to help the government achieve targets, targets that were set by the previous Conservative government, to achieve a 10% protection of our marine protected areas by 2020. We are getting very close to that, but it is because of the great work and the unequivocal consultation process that have taken place. Yes, sometimes it took five to seven years, or maybe 10 years, to establish a marine protected area, but the ones that have been put in place have been accepted by the local communities for reasons that they saw were important.

In fact, with the ones I talked about in the north, what the local communities up there saw as most important was to try to keep the outside world out of their cultural practices, the way they need to harvest beluga whales to maintain their way of life. It was interesting talking to one of the chiefs up there. He does some travel to represent his community, and he is an incredibly amazing fellow. He talked about how, when he comes to the southern parts of Canada for consultation meetings or meetings with the government, he has to move away from his traditional diet of muktuk, whale, and seal. He said that he could eat three hamburgers for dinner and still feel hungry, and it is not until he gets back home and has a feed of muktuk that he actually feels full and satisfied again. That part of life is so important up there.

That is why the creation of MPAs was put forward in the Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk areas of the Arctic coast. The communities saw the values, and the government agreed with those values. The government went through a strong consultation process of including those communities in deciding what the criteria should be, what areas should be protected and what the results for the local community would be as far as activities are concerned, such as what harvest would be allowed in those areas. Those are examples of what was taking place under the previous rules and the previous government: strong consultation, strong input and strong collaboration with the local communities.

I want to go back to the mention of the protests we have heard about. As the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, we travelled to all coasts of this great country. We started on the east coast, in the Maritimes, and travelled to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We talked to the people on the ground. They were all concerned for their communities, not because of closures but because of how the closures might be done. They wanted input. They know the local features and the local values of what is important.

After we finished touring the Maritimes, we toured the west coast and the north. We talked to fishermen on the west coast, and again, they wanted input. There was talk of closures of areas off the Pacific coast. There was one area that was referred to locally as “the kitchen”, because that was where the local fishermen went to catch the greatest portion of their total allowable catch for halibut. The halibut were there in such high numbers that the fishermen could go out safely in good weather, catch their quotas and come back. That area has been fished continuously for decades. It is highly productive and highly sustainable, and yet they feared it was being considered as a marine protected area. This would have meant that, rather than going out for just a short time in a highly productive area, they would have had to travel further distances to unknown territories, where the catch was uncertain, and possibly spend more days out there through more inclement weather, putting their crews, boats, livelihoods and lives at risk, all because they had not been consulted.

That is the continuous testimony that we heard, time and time again, both in the study that I put forward at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and in the committee's study on Bill C-55.

Again, all Canadians want to see the special areas protected, but they want to have some input on what those special areas are and how they are protected. They also want to know what is being protected. That was part of what was in the Senate amendment, that the areas and the habitat and species that were in those proposed areas be identified before the closures are put in place.

Going back to the way Bill C-55 is worded with regard to areas of interest, certainly the parliamentary secretary talked about MPAs, which would still have the full consultation process in place, but areas of interest would not. The full consultation process happens only after those areas of interest are established.

Areas of interest also include closures and restrictions, whether it is shipping restrictions, fishing restrictions, boating restrictions, bottom use, and oil and gas exploration and development. All of those restrictions can be in place almost instantly with an area of interest designation.

For the parliamentary secretary to say that there are no shortcuts being taken with Bill C-55 is absolutely preposterous.

The weeks, months and sometimes years required to make sure that the multiple, complex and intricately connected pieces of MPA puzzles are put together properly are so important. It is not something that can be rushed, just so we can meet an international goal, to be in the spotlight on the international stage. Canada has led the way in this in many ways. As I have said, we have almost reached the 10% target. We reached the 5% by 2017 quite comfortably by identifying other protective measures that come into place that actually protect the features of an area.

Rockfish closures off the coast of B.C. were put in place long ago, because those areas were recognized as special spawning and rearing habitat for the core values of those populations. By allowing those rockfish closure areas to be established and reducing the amount of harvest in those key productive areas, the spill-off from those areas goes into many other areas of the ocean around the area, allowing other fisheries to continue outside of those local areas. Those are the types of things that really work.

What we have seen from the government is empty consultation, time and time again. Last year, we saw examples of how it had consulted for weeks and months, I believe, on the snow crab closures off the Atlantic coast. It established a process working with the crab fishermen to determine when the openings would take place, all in the aspect of protecting the right whale from the entanglements that were taking place. Nobody wants to see any of those deaths occurring from fishing ropes or from equipment that is in the water. Those measures were strongly valued and respected, because consultation took place.

At the same time, lobster fishermen had not been consulted. They had closures slapped on them with no notice. Basically, they were ready to go out on the water and set their traps, and they were told no, there are closures. They were frustrated by the lack of consultation by the government, by the fisheries minister and by his staff.

As recently as last year, we saw fisheries closures on the west coast to protect the southern resident killer whales. That is something we all value. We see the world value in protecting that population of southern resident killer whales.

There was strong consultation supposedly taking place with the fishing communities on the south coast of B.C., on Vancouver Island, and input supposedly being received by the department staff on where the proposed closures should be, on what time frame those closures should be and on the type of gear restrictions. All of that process seemed to be working, but then, when the fishing season was upon us, lo and behold, the fisheries minister announced totally different closures, totally different boundaries, focusing fishing pressure in a small area. Rather than spreading out the fishermen and their access over a slightly larger area, which had been proposed by the fishermen, all of a sudden everyone was constrained in a very tight area, and all the fish were coming past that very tight area.

In fact, I had the opportunity to be out there and experience this. The person I went out with said that we were lucky to be there after a long weekend. When we were there, there were about 25 or 30 boats all hemmed up against an invisible line in the ocean, drawn by the fisheries minister to protect the area north of it. There were the boats, side by side, all crammed into one small area, rather than being dispersed throughout a much broader area. However, on that day, there were only 25 to 30 boats. Apparently, on the long weekend prior to that, there were 200 boats in that same area. I cannot imagine the impact that this type of concentrated pressure would have. I have seen this in my work with fish and wildlife management. I have seen fishing and hunting pressure, shortened seasons, condensed pressure into shorter and shorter time periods. Instead of dispersing it over wider areas, it has been concentrated into a very short time frame, making the harvest that much higher. The concentration in that short period of time is so intense that it is just not workable.

We do not want to see that with marine protected areas, just to meet a target number for areas that need to be covered to meet international and not necessarily Canadian standards. Again, as I mentioned, the government seems to be in a big rush to get the spotlight on the world stage by meeting these targets by a set deadline, rather than doing it through a consultative and considered way with local communities that have a desire to meet those standards. The cases of conservation that I have talked about, the compression of seasons and the compression of areas, the intense pressure, are simply not good for fisheries or wildlife management or for the protection of our areas.

I want to get back to why the Senate brought this amendment back to the House. I credit the Senate for taking the time to study this, to see the potential risks that were there and to actually try to hold the government to accountability standards, which the parliamentary secretary seems to claim is redundant. Well, redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing. Redundancy can actually be a good thing. We see it in safety mechanisms all over the world. Redundancy means accountability and safety: safety for our communities that rely on our fisheries and access to the oceans, safety for shipping lanes that may need to go through or near an area, safety for the future economy of the country.

I cannot let the government go sliding through with this amendment it wants to put forward and really water down the Senate amendment.

There were a series of recommendations out of the parliamentary study that I put forward at the fisheries committee.

Recommendation 1 states:

That, when identifying new areas of interest for marine protected areas, the Government of Canada evaluate net economic and social values and responsibilities, including cost of patrol and enforcement in Canada, particularly for remote marine areas.

While some of this is in the bill, very much of it is left to regulations that will come out of the bill. We had big concerns with how some of these marine protected areas are going to be patrolled. That was another part of the consultation process we heard in the communities. The communities felt that often the fishermen or local guardians might be best suited to do the patrols and enforcement of those areas. Local lobster and crab fishermen might be best able to identify that a boat does not belong out there and question why it is there. They could be the reporting mechanism for that and could move it forward to the proper authorities for investigation and possibly enforcement.

Recommendation 2 of the report states:

That areas of interest and marine protected areas not be considered in isolation from sustainable fishery management practices.

That really gets back to the rockfish closure areas that I was referring to on the west coast. Those rockfish closures are considered a protective measure to increase the actual square kilometres of areas that are considered protected under the targets of 5% and 10%.

Recommendation 3 states:

That the Government of Canada acknowledge any negative impacts on people who directly depend on the resources of a marine protected area and the Minister use his or her discretionary powers to consider providing offsetting measures in consultation with the fishing industry where loss or harm is proven.

Again, the strong consultation piece is what is measured here. The consultation piece is what is missing in Bill C-55 and what the Senate is trying to put back in through its Senate amendment. Because of that, I am going to be suggesting that we oppose the government's amendment and approve the Senate amendment, because the Senate amendment will place much more accountability on the government.

Recommendation 4 from the standing committee's report states that the minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard should table an annual report to Parliament that includes a list of Oceans Act marine protected areas designated during that year and information on whether or not each established marine protected area is meeting its conservation objectives.

That has been one area where we have consistently seen the minister's department fail time and time again. The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development has issued a couple of reports over the past year and a half, very damning reports, against the fisheries minister's department. One came out last fall, I believe it was, showing there is a very low level of accountability within the department.

In fact, one of the things in a previous report from the commissioner, dating back over a year ago, was that when the department was audited on whether it had established integrated fisheries management plans for 155 major fish stocks in Canada, which it had committed to do in 1995, it was found that in 2005, 10 years later, the department had only recommitted to developing those integrated fisheries management plans.

The report that came out in, I believe, 2016, which was 10 years after the second commitment and 20 years after the first commitment, identified that the department had still not updated a large number of the integrated fisheries management plans. This was simply to develop integrated fisheries management plans for 155 fish stocks in Canada.

The department's response to the audit showing that it had failed time and time again was to develop a plan to develop those plans. It is absolutely unbelievable. The department failed to develop a plan after committing twice to do so, but it has committed to developing a plan to develop those plans. That is the type of unbelievable accountability that has happened under this fisheries minister and under this government time and time again.

Madam Speaker, I see we are getting close to question period. Do I have a couple of minutes left?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise again. It is always awkward when we have our speeches interrupted by question period, but it is an honour to continue with my debate on the Senate amendments to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

This bill went through the House. It went through the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which I sit on, and was studied at great length. There were a number of amendments put forward on this bill when it came through the House and the standing committee. Unfortunately, the majority of the amendments that would have provided openness, transparency, accountability and some assurance for the local communities that could be affected were rejected.

That is why I believe it went to the Senate. They have taken a look at it and have seen that it needs to have an increased level of accountability. It is simply not there.

In our opinion, the bill was not correctly drafted. That is just a continuation of what we have seen in draft legislation from the government. It seems to happen again and again. We get a bill before the House, it makes it through first and second reading here and goes to committee, and then a flood of amendments comes in.

Just recently, I remember the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo speaking about some of the indigenous-related bills that have been before the House, drafted by a government that is high on virtue and low on substance. It actually table-dropped a dozen or more amendments on top of an already long list of amendments that were actually submitted late, after the deadline. It was amendment after amendment coming from the very government that actually drafted the legislation in the first place.

It seems to be a continuation of ineptness on the government's part in seeing what needs to be in place in a piece of legislation. We have seen that multiple times. I actually had the opportunity to sub in at the environment committee when it was studying Bill C-69. That bill was rushed through this House and rushed through the process. I could not believe the rushed process when the committee was studying that bill, especially at the clause-by-clause stage.

I actually happened to sub in the day the committee was doing the clause-by-clause study of that bill and considering all of the amendments that were put forward on that bill. I believe that over 600 draft amendments were proposed. What is even more unbelievable is that over 300 of them came from the government side. There were 300-plus amendments from a government that originally drafted the bill. To me, that is unconscionable. How can it possibly be?

It is an example of how the government was very inept in getting any legislation moving in the early stages of its tenure, and now it is pushing and pushing to move things through at a faster pace as it comes closer to the end of its tenure. I certainly hope the end of that tenure happens in October. We are certainly working hard to restore the trust and faith that people in Canada and people around the world have in Canada. It was lost by the current government.

The government is simply trying to rush legislation through, but it is trying to do this through a lack of accountability, a lack of transparency and absolute power that is being bestowed on the ministers or the councils that operate under their purview. We see that in this bill.

The government does not want to be held accountable for the reasons that it may have within its secret place for establishing areas of interest or marine protected areas. It does not want to be held accountable for any part. If feels that it knows best.

It seems to be the drive of the current government to have the government manage everything. Pay it the taxes, and it will manage everything better. We know that it is not the right way to go. We know that the people on the ground, the people in the communities, know how to manage our fish and wildlife species, resources and access to those resources far better than a government centred here in Ottawa does.

The consultation process is a huge part of what is missing in Bill C-55. I will go back to my experience travelling across this great country, from the east Atlantic coast to our west Pacific coast to our North Atlantic coast, with the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

We met with fishermen, with communities and with business owners in those communities. They wanted to provide input on where a marine protected area, MPA, may be instituted, how it may be instituted and what type of restrictions may be in place. Fishermen brought us maps with the proposed protected areas sketched out. They showed us areas where they would fish and set out their trap lines, fishing lines and long lines in a certain pattern so that they had room to work together as they fished and would not cross over each other's lines or get entanglements. They could fish in a progressive and orderly manner. However, what was happening with some of the proposed marine protected areas was that they had not been consulted on the no-take zones within those areas. They were being squeezed tighter and tighter. They were anticipating conflict on the seas, which is certainly not what we want to see, nor do we want to see people put at risk because they have to travel further or spend more time on the water to catch their harvest. However, it is that consultation that is missing in the bill, which is what the Senate was trying to put in there.

I will talk a little about my understanding of conservation versus preservation and conservatism versus socialism, which really came to light for me after I came to the House and participated in a number of debates here.

I come from a conservation background, where we use natural resources in a sustainable way. We take something out of those resources that gives value so that we have something tangible to put back in. Sometimes that can be as simple as a volunteer angler or hunter willing to put his hours back into habitat restoration, whether that be stream restoration for trout, salmon and species that might spawn in those streams or forest restoration for elk and deer. That is how they put something back, and they feel the need to put something back, because they have taken something from it. To me, that is true conservation, and I put that up against the preservation side any day.

The preservation side wants to lock everything up. There is no take. There is no consumption. There is no value received by anyone from locking it up. There may be some views or a little travel through that area, but basically, it is no touch and no take. Nothing is taken from it. What do we have to do to maintain that? We have to take from somewhere else. We need revenue to patrol, enforce and manage the piece that is preserved. To me, when we have to take from somewhere over here to support something over there, it is too much toward socialism, and I certainly hope we are not going to have to go that way.

There are other pieces in the bill that are really troubling. I want to quote from part of it:

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).

For a government that claims to be investing billions in science, this paragraph jumped out at me when I first reviewed Bill C-55. That the Governor in Council and the minister shall not use the lack of scientific certainty in doing anything presents to me that they can use any reason they see fit, whether science supports it or not, to make a decision, which is simply unconscionable. I cannot support that type of power and authority being given to ministers of the Crown or their councils. The greatest part of that concern comes from foreign influence in those decisions. We see this continuously.

I mentioned earlier in my speech the consultations that took place on the closure of chinook fishing off the west coast of Vancouver Island. At the time, fishing organizations and local conservationists felt that they were having a reasonably good consultation process with the department about what closures there should be. They were working co-operatively. They were working with the department and the government on what they saw as viable solutions. They put forward their proposals, which they felt would be accepted. What they found out afterward was that there was a strong backdoor lobbying effort by environmental NGOs that wanted to see all fishing completely shut down. That pressure was behind the scenes, behind closed doors. No one knows what it was, because it was all done through ministerial confidence.

Foreign influence could affect the decisions that could be made through that clause saying that the minister does not need scientific evidence. All he needs is pressure from a foreign NGO. That is where I see huge risks in this bill. We had hoped to see more accountability in the reasoning, location and jurisdictional decisions the minister makes on establishing these MPAs.

Earlier today we heard the parliamentary secretary basically denounce the proposed amendments from the Senate, saying that they were redundant and not necessary. I would like to come to that. If they are redundant, they would be easy to step over to go to the next phase. If they showed that one phase of the consultation or assessment process covered off the concerns, when they got to the next phase, which might bring up those concerns again, they could point out, in the individual instances and cases, how those concerns were addressed. I really have a hard time agreeing with the parliamentary secretary's statements about the redundancy and the lack of the need for accountability. Everyone needs accountability from their government. I think that is why people send us here to Ottawa, to this great place. We are held accountable by our constituents back home.

I want to get back to an early draft of the legislation. The process in Bill C-55 is an attempt to speed up the government's ability to reach targets that were set by our government as targets, not hard-set goals but targets. We were working toward achieving those targets through a process of consultation and input from the local communities.

I talked about the marine protected areas that had been established in the north. I will have to apologize to the Inuit people for not being able to speak their language the way they do. There is the Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam marine closed area in the Arctic Ocean. There is the Tarium Niryutait closure also in the Arctic. Those marine closed areas were put in place because the communities wanted them. They saw what was there. They saw the value. However, they only protect against certain things. They protect against cruise ships coming in. They still allow the local harvest to take place for salmon, beluga whales and whatever the local Inuit had traditionally harvested out of those areas. It was a very co-operative process.

We travelled there and met with the chiefs and the band members. They were very proud of what they had achieved, a total opposite to what we have seen take place over the last three and a half years under the federal Liberal government. We saw a spirit of co-operation in the north, a recognition of those indigenous and Inuit values for the establishment of those MPAs. They were very specific about what they were protecting because they had consulted with the local people. The government understood what needed to be protected, what needed to be preserved, how big the area needed to be and what the risks were.

Another big part of what has taken place here is that for some of this, the moving forward with areas of interest and proposals for marine protected areas, there has not been a full identification of risks. There has not even been a basic identification of those risks. One of the things that came forward in the Senate amendments was that there would be an identification of the risks, the features and the species that might be involved in the marine protected areas.

Over the past couple of years, the fisheries minister has been questioned about MPAs, their enforcement, implementation and so on. One of the things that came out of the study we did, which was basically a unanimous report, was:

That, when identifying new areas of interest for marine protected areas, the Government of Canada evaluate net economic and social values and responsibilities, including cost of patrol and enforcement in Canada, particularly for remote marine areas.

The minister's response to this recommendation merely acknowledged that enforcement was an expense.

Last September, the minister's own national advisory panel, established to give advice on establishing marine protected areas, also recommended “That the government identify long-term, permanent, and stable funding for marine protected areas”. The minister's response to the advisory panel failed to even mention funding or resources for marine protected areas. It is unbelievable. It was mentioned in the committee report and in his own advisory panel's report and the minister did not even acknowledge it in his response.

DFO's 2019-20 departmental plan states that the department will provide enforcement in MPAs through the National Fisheries Intelligence Service, NFIS. However, the purpose of the NFIS, according to DFO, is large-scale fisheries offences, not habitat protection for pollution offences. The minister, through his department, is handing off patrol and enforcement of MPAs to the National Fisheries Intelligence Service that has no mandate to protect habitat or pollution.

There was no mention of MPA enforcement activities in the federal budgets or supplementary estimates since the fisheries committee and the minister's advisory panel told the government that enforcement activities needed to be funded. The minister knew there needed to be funding around enforcement. He was told that by the committee and by his own appointed panel, yet we saw nothing in the budget for enforcement of MPAs.

In the discussion earlier, I mentioned that local communities felt, in many cases, that they might be the best to patrol and enforce because they were on the water. They are out there anyway, performing their activities, at no real additional cost to the government. Therefore, they could spot the bad guys, the infractions, point out who was doing what at no expense. However, we have seen no program platform put forward, no ideas on how to enforce and increase the patrol of these upcoming MPAs.

It is another area where the government is simply putting out ideas and has no plan on how to follow through and complete those ideas. Without a funding plan for enforcement, the creation of marine protected areas is little more than government announcements and lines on a map. Out on the ocean, on the high seas, it may mean very little.

What is the government's funding plan for enforcement activities in marine protected areas?

I believe there were 24 recommendations from the standing committee's study on marine protected areas. The majority of those were around the consultation process that was needed, the consultation process with fishermen, with indigenous people, the Inuit and with people right across the country, on how it would affect them. I also do not want to forget the consultation that needs to take place with the shipping industry. All of those pieces need to be put together into a very intricate puzzle.

Recommendation 15 states:

That the creation of a marine protected area be founded on clear objectives, the best available science or, in urgent situations, the application of the precautionary principle, all informed by traditional knowledge contributed by the local indigenous communities and fishers that have traditionally operated in the area.

All of these pieces need to be put together. It is simply again the consultation process that needs to take place through the best available science. The recommendation is very clear, except for in an urgent situation, but still through the knowledge of the locals.

The bill has been through the House, the Senate, and amendments were proposed in the House and at committee. Unfortunately, a lot of those amendments were ignored by the government. We now have amendments from the Senate. Obviously, it saw problems with the bill. In that, we can see the bill is flawed. It needs to be improved. How the government intends to do it, I am not sure. The Liberals will probably try to push it through.

Rather than a page and a half of detailed points that the Senate made in its amendment that needed to be corrected, the government's response was to take a butcher's knife to it, send it back to the Senate, with three small bullet points saying that it needed to get this done so it could say that had achieved something, because the Liberals have achieved very little in their three and a half years.

I will conclude by thanking members for being here on a Friday to listen. It is has been an important process. I want to thank the Senate for its study and its committee that put the work into the study.

As I mentioned, even before the government introduced Bill C-55, in fact, months before, I moved the motion that the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans take a look into how marine protected areas were established, the process and procedure for establishing those to ensure the science and consultation was done. The committee did some great work on that. Unfortunately, I do not believe the government has actually followed through on the process.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Madam Speaker, I disagree with the member oppositive on just about 100% of what he said. This should not be any surprise. Bill C-55 really goes to the core of the identity of our government, a government that is committed to conservation.

Our government is so committed to conservation that we took the bold measure of ensuring there would be no deepwater offshore drilling, for which there would be no response were there to be a blowout over the winter in the Beaufort Sea or in the Arctic, which we so zealously protect. We are there to protect our jewels and ensure they are conserved, whereas the member opposite and the party he represents would simply, in the case of the Arctic, for example, drill baby drill, go in there with no plan and we would end up paying for the consequences.

Therefore, what we really need to understand is that this is a question of identity. The identity of our government is one of conservation, protection and, yes, economic growth where it is responsible. Unfortunately, the member's comments indicate a completely opposite approach, which is most unfortunate.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2019 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I have a very specific question for him. He has a lot of experience in this field. He is a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

I would like to know whether Bill C-55, as drafted, will enable Canada to meet its international obligations to protect 10% of marine areas by 2020, which is next year.

I would like to know whether the rules, as set out in the bill, will ensure that these areas are recognized by the international organizations, even though there are significant deficiencies in how these areas are protected. The international organizations set out in the convention may not even recognize these zones as protected within the meaning of the convention.

Does he have an opinion on this? Did he hear experts' opinions on whether the areas to be protected through this bill will actually qualify as part of the 10% that must be protected in accordance with an international agreement we signed?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

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

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The member for Cariboo—Prince George said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I move:

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

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

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

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

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

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

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of Families.

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

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

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Jean-Yves Duclos Liberal Québec, QC

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

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

Bill C-55—Time Allocation MotionOceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

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

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

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

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

With that, I am willing to take some questions.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, if there is time, I will be sharing it with my colleague, the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay.

Last year, I had the fortune to work with the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development during its study of protected areas across Canada.

Our committee heard from 81 witnesses and received briefs from another 27 individuals and organizations. We also travelled to areas where national parks and marine protected areas are already in place, including the west coast, to meet with communities affected by these areas. The outcome of that study was the committee's fifth report, entitled “Taking Action Today: Establishing Protected Areas For Canada's Future”, which was presented to the House just a year and one day ago, on March 24, 2017.

I would like to speak today to Bill C-55, legislation which would expand the power of the Ministry of Fisheries to speed up the creation of new protected areas, in the context of what our committee saw and heard and the recommendations we made in our report.

The purpose of the bill is to expand the power of the minister to speed up the creation of new marine protected areas by making amendments to the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. It would increase ministerial powers to terminate private resource interests in MPAs, and create stronger penalties for those found violating the rules of MPAs.

The bill does not, however, define minimum protection standards for marine protected areas or legislate timelines or targets. Thus, the new powers would not have the teeth necessary to protect ocean biodiversity. The bill would provide some new legal tools to speed up the creation of it, but falls far short of Canada's international commitments to protect our marine biodiversity. It fails to set minimum protection standards and targets for zoning in marine protected areas, which renders the designation inconsistent at best. It gives the minister far too much latitude to decide what activities are permissible in an MPA. If oil and gas exploration can take place in an MPA, what is the point of the designation?

As many parliamentarians know, Canada has fallen far behind in meeting our international commitments to preserve important wild areas across our country. In our environment committee's 2017 report, it states that Canada committed to a set of 20 targets known as the Aichi targets, established under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Target 11 commits parties to an aspirational goal of protecting at least 17% of terrestrial and inland waters and 10% of coastal waters by 2020. As of today, we have protected only 10.57% of terrestrial areas and 1.5% of marine areas, 3.5% once Lancaster Sound MPA is approved, which is a far cry from the targets we have set for 2020.

Bill C-55 does introduce a framework that could improve the number of marine protected areas in Canada, and that is good. However, the environment committee heard that quality is just as important as quantity. The World Wildlife Fund told the committee:

While large MPAs are important, we must not simply designate vast expanses of the ocean that are not at risk from human use or that provide unproven or questionable ecological benefits at the expense of developing proper MPA networks. Canada's progress on MPA networks has to go further than developing a collection of sites without meaningful consideration of how they connect and complement each other, and without including representative coastal and offshore sites within all three oceans.

Arising from that testimony and the testimony of other witnesses, the committee recommended that the Government of Canada focus the expansion of protected areas not only on the quantity to meet the targets, but also to protect terrestrial and marine areas with the highest ecological value in the country.

Even more important than the issue of quality over quantity is the question of what uses may take place in a marine protected area. Bill C-55 fails to restrict the activities within MPAs, nor does it provide minimum protection standards. The rules are inconsistent and broadly permissive, allowing, for example, environmentally damaging bottom trawling, and allowing oil and gas exploration within MPAs.

Two key witnesses attended the fisheries committee discussion on this matter. One of them said:

The law is currently very inconsistent. As you've heard and will probably continue to hear, people are astonished to learn that oil and gas exploration, undersea mining, and damaging fishing activities are all possible in the tiny fraction of the sea that we call marine protected areas. That's why an unprecedented 70,000 Canadians, members of the public, spoke out about one of the proposed new MPAs, Laurentian Channel, and said that we need to keep harmful activities out of these areas.

That was from Linda Nowlan of West Coast Environmental Law.

Another quote was from the David Suzuki Foundation:

I think the other area of the act that needs strengthening is the area of indigenous protected areas. Many indigenous peoples have a long-standing interest in conserving resources and protecting areas of their traditional territory, and there's an opportunity to enable the government to accommodate indigenous protected areas, which are determined, managed, and governed by indigenous people. This amendment would not only facilitate additional conservation of natural resources, but would take Canada further down the path of reconciliation with indigenous communities.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, stated that in a marine protected area we need a “clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values”.

It goes on to name the essential characteristics that a marine protected area needs to have, including being nature conservation focused; having defined goals and objectives; having defined boundaries; be a suitable size, location, and design; having a management plan; and, of course, the resources and capacity to implement it.

It also specifies, “Any environmentally damaging industrial activities and infrastructural developments with the associated ecological impacts and effects are not compatible with MPAs.”

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day here when members cannot have their question of privilege heard in this House. I respect your position, but when we have members standing on a point of order and simply being shut down, it is a dismal day for democracy in Canada. What we have seen this week with the government shutting down debate and calling time allocation on multiple bills has to make one wonder what it is that the Liberals are trying to change the channel on, and it is disturbing.

I will start on a lighter note, noting that this is the second half of a 20-minute time slot that I was allowed. I had 10 minutes yesterday. It has now been almost 24 hours to carry on this section of the debate. I was debating whether I should wear the same clothes so if the two videos get clipped together it does not look like I did a Superman change. Oh, pardon me, that would be a super-person change, or a super-people change.

It has been almost 24 hours since I began my speech to Bill C-55, so I want to recap a bit of what has taken place. In December 2016, I saw what the current government may intend to do with changes to the way marine protected areas are established in B.C., so I put forward a motion at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans that the committee undertake a study on the criteria and process for establishing MPAs in Canada. That motion was accepted and approved by the committee members. We eventually got around to starting that study in about April 2017. We travelled to the north and to the west coast in June. We travelled to the east coast in the fall. As I said yesterday, we heard differing testimony on how the MPA process was working.

We heard that with the process that is taking place right now, in some cases, it took seven to 10 years to establish an MPA. That is a fairly lengthy time, but we heard that those MPAs that were created under that process were accepted by the communities and in fact in many cases were put forward by and promoted by the communities that were most affected. What we heard was that the proposed changes that Bill C-55 could bring forward would eliminate the opportunity for those fishers and those communities to have input into how those MPAs are created, and it was quite discerning. We heard that many times in Atlantic Canada and yet the current government, with full representation in Atlantic Canada, has chosen to ignore the testimony that we heard there.

The committee study on MPAs has been kicked aside and sidelined many times. We started a study on small-vessel licensing, which kicked the study aside. Now we are going to see legislation on Bill C-68 coming to the committee so the study on MPAs will be further kicked aside. I question whether the Liberals may be causing this because they do not want that testimony exposed to the public, and the recommendations that may come out of that committee study. The recommendations we would have seen would have indicated the problems with the new proposed process, so for some reason the Liberals are pushing aside that MPA study and the report that would result out of it, kicking it aside and fast-tracking by time allocation the debate on Bill C-55 so that we have no process of really exposing the issues and the problems that are in the bill. Again, it is an affront to democracy and just an example of the arrogance that the government has been showing over the past couple of weeks. It is really disturbing to me and should be disturbing to all Canadians.

There is another part of this scenario that we can only speculate on. Is there another reason that the fisheries minister wants to get this legislation out there and get it in front of the committee to tie up the committee's time? That may be because Conservative members on the committee have started to expose the surf clam scam.

One may ask what the surf clam scam is all about. The fisheries minister decided unilaterally to expropriate 25% of the surf clam quota from a holder in Newfoundland. He then issued that quota to a non-existent company that was established by close Liberal friends and family members. Unbelievable. The threads are starting to unravel on that surf clam scam.

I project that perhaps time allocation on Bill C-55 and Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act, may be a cover-up process to take attention away from what really should be concerning, that being a perceived conflict of interest.

That takes us all the way back to the mandate letters that were provided to Liberal cabinet members by the Prime Minister, which indicated that there should be no actual or perceived conflict of interest and yet we have seen it happen time and time again with the government, not just perceived conflict of interest but actual conflict of interest. The finance minister was found in conflict. There are still questions around the Prime Minister, who was found guilty of breaking the law four times and had to address that with the conflict commissioner.

I will get back to Bill C-55 and some of our concerns, which I touched a bit on yesterday regarding wildlife management, fisheries management, totally protected areas, and no-take zones as they are being referred to in reference to the Oceans Act and MPAs.

Similar things to those no-take zones have been put in place on land and in parks across Canada and they have created problems. They have also taken place in the U.S. and we have seen problems. We heard testimony from a U.S. scientist at committee who explained what had happened with the California MPA process. It was absolutely devastating to the recreational fishery and the supporting sectors down there. There was a 20% drop in licence sales and vehicle sales relating to towing equipment for boats. It was absolutely devastating for that process. We cannot afford to see that same process take place here in Canada. We need full consultation.

This legislation would give the minister overarching power to decide to close an area on extremely short notice, only taking into account one year's previous activity within that area, not going back eight to 10 years to see what might have been there. I also spoke a bit about this yesterday. I spoke about how a halibut fishery had recovered and was going back to an area in Nova Scotia. Fishermen had not been able to fish there for five to 10 years but suddenly the halibut were starting to come back, so they were going back to fish in that area. As I said, fish move, fisheries move, and ocean currents change.

This legislation proposes to eliminate all of the background information that can be gathered, the process of consulting with local fishermen, local communities, and the science community for establishing what should be a well-received and well-accepted MPA, as has been happening in the process already.

We have also heard that there are other processes for protecting our oceans and a lot of those are in place already in Canada with rockfish conservation areas on our west coast.

Those areas are not MPAs, but now some are saying that just to meet our targets we should include those. I do not disagree with that. That is a good process. However, those conservation areas need to be established, have long-term goals, but also the long-term background, which the bill fails to allow.

It has been interesting to have make the same speech almost 24 hours apart.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, while I lament that we have interruptions and a loss of time for debate, overall the bill is quite welcomed. It is well constructed. It is overdue. The initial Oceans Act was passed well before the Harper administration, but unfortunately it has never really been fully implemented. It has a lot of opportunities to improve adjacency, that local fishing communities have more say in the fisheries management adjacent to them. The bill also focuses on long overdue improvements to creating national marine protected areas.

While I understand my hon. colleague's frustration with the interruptions, such is the nature of work around here, particularly lately, I hope the House will pass Bill C-55 expeditiously.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, what a rare chance to be able to thank my friend from South Okanagan—Shuswap. He is quite correct. I had earlier today jotted down that we were moving to Bill C-55 this afternoon, and things do move quickly. We are on Bill C-68. Therefore, I regret that the Fisheries Act is moving so quickly, with time allocation on it. However, I support the bill.

I am so relieved to see the restoration and the protection of fish habitat in the bill. We have had the Fisheries Act since 1867. Protecting fisheries, including fish habitat, was a provision brought in by the current fisheries minister's father, the late and much respected Romeo LeBlanc. He also served as our governor general. Having those sections ripped out of the Fisheries Act in the spring of 2012 in an omnibus budget bill of over 420 pages that changed 40 different acts, with no consultation, not a single amendment allowed, and no proper hearings, was an abomination in this place. I am glad to see at least this part of it repaired.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
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Burnaby North—Seymour B.C.

Liberal

Terry Beech LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise for a third time to express my support for Bill C-55 and to speak against the proposed amendment to refer the bill back to the standing committee for the purpose of reconsidering all of the clauses.

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 they remain healthy for the benefit of future generations, something I thought about today when I saw so many young people in our gallery. This is a commitment that I take very seriously and very personally.

As I said previously, when we debated the bill at second reading, I am extremely honoured that my first piece of legislation as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard 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. I truly believe that at the end of the day, a pristine and abundant environmental ecosystem is our greatest underlying economic driver.

Specific to today's debate, the Government of Canada has committed to Aichi target 11 under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. As well, I just returned from the World Ocean Summit, where I was able to share the leadership that Canada had once again taken to protect our oceans.

In addition to this bill, we are returning lost protections and incorporating modern safeguards into the Fisheries Act through Bill C-68. We have committed to making the protection of our oceans a pillar of our G7 agenda. This includes leadership in four key areas, including ocean health, sustainable fisheries, addressing plastics, and building resilient coastal communities. We were applauded for making such significant progress on our targets.

As a government, we are committed to protecting 10% of our oceans and marine areas by 2020. When we took office, less than 1% of these areas were protected, but today we have protected 7.75%, representing hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of new protections, protections of which I know Canadians are proud.

Our three oceans are complex webs of ecological and human systems that need to be understood, protected, and in many cases restored. Marine protected areas and marine protected area networks preserve these ecological links and protect diverse marine ecosystems and species. We will continue to establish marine protected areas through science-based decision-making, transparency, and in a manner that advances reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

It currently takes an average of seven years to designate an Oceans Act marine protected area. It requires time to undertake scientific assessments and socio-economic studies, as well as conduct consultations with governments, indigenous groups, and stakeholders. These are important steps that cannot be eliminated as they ensure that a marine protected area achieves 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 of the data is compiled.

Amendments to the Oceans Act under Bill C-55 propose solutions that will help us protect critical and unique areas of our Canadian oceans faster, without sacrificing the necessary science and consultation processes. The amendments ensure collaboration continues, requiring provinces, territories, indigenous groups, industry, and other stakeholders to be part of both the establishment and management processes.

Essentially, Bill C-55 proposes amendments to the Oceans Act to provide an additional tool that will allow for interim protection of specific areas through a ministerial order. This interim protection will 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 the next five years. These amendments would ensure that when needed, an interim marine protected area could be put into 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 the final marine protected area is established.

Therefore, the time frame to fully establish a marine protected area may still take up to seven years, but there could be some interim protections 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. Right now there is no protection until there is full protection, which is a problem these amendments are effectively solving, a problem that is amplified by an ocean that is so quickly changing, along with our climate. This policy is entirely in lockstep with the precautionary approach, which is a founding principle of conservation in Canada.

To put it another way, an interim marine protected area would freeze the footprint of ongoing activities. Under this concept, only ongoing activities, which are those activities occurring one year before the interim protection is in place, would be allowed to continue. For example, current fishing activities, or fishing activities where 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. That means incomplete information or lack of absolute certainty would not be justification for avoiding protection where there would be a risk to the marine ecosystem.

Bill C-55 also includes modernized, updated, and strengthened enforcement powers, fines, and punishments under the Oceans Act.

The proposed amendments to the Oceans Act have received broad support during outreach efforts to discuss the bill. Canadians recognize the amendments would not short-circuit the development of sound science or cut off people's opportunity to collaborate and be consulted in the development of marine protected areas. Instead, they would ensure protection would be put in place quicker, in the interests of all Canadians.

We would be able to act on initial science and information to help these areas safe while additional research, engagement, and regulatory processes would be worked through.

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

I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to congratulate the fisheries and oceans committee on the great work it has done on this bill and on additional studies it has taken on, including several fisheries and MPAs, which was raised by the previous member. An example of its extraordinary work is visible in Bill C-68, amendments to the Fisheries Act. The committee made 32 recommendations after examining the changes made to the act by the previous government. We now know all 32 recommendations were not only considered but incorporated into the act.

I was also very impressed by the committee's deliberations and thoughtful consideration of Bill C-55. It consulted broadly and incorporated amendments from colleagues on both sides of the House. This is the primary reason sending the bill back to committee does not make any sense. The committee has considered the legislation clause by clause and now it is time to pass it for third reading.

I invite everyone in the House to support Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act, and to oppose the Conservative amendment.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Terry Beech Liberal Burnaby North—Seymour, BC

Mr. Speaker, if I recall correctly, I believe the committee passed a motion, when it was considering Bill C-55, that all witness testimony determined during the MPAs could be utilized when determining Bill C-55. I might be wrong about that, but that is my recollection.

The party opposite seems to want it both ways. On one hand, it wants to say that it set these targets, despite the fact that it only made it to less than 1% of protections during its time in office. It wants to say that somehow by 2020 it will meet the target of protecting 10% of our oceans.

This is a difficult task that our government has taken on wholeheartedly since the last election, and now we are at 7.75%. As I have said, that is hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of new protections. In fact, in total I believe that represents 446,000 square kilometres of protections. We are committed to hitting our Aichi targets and we are going to continue to do so.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to take us a bit further than Bill C-55. The Minister of Fisheries has thus far dealt with amendments in Bill C-68 and amendments to the Oceans Act in Bill C-55. He has not yet touched on the area that is of profound concern to people who want to see our fisheries areas protected and our oceans protected to protect the fish within those lines in a marine protected area on the map by really dealing with the threat of aquaculture in open waters in open pens.

I wonder if the parliamentary secretary can let us know when the minister and the parliamentary secretary will turn their attention to the threat posed by open-pen aquaculture of not-local species, with the contamination of sea lice and viruses that affect our wild fisheries.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Terry Beech Liberal Burnaby North—Seymour, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Brandon—Souris and I had an opportunity to work together for a brief period on recreational fish. With regard to the consultation process, we have consulted broadly from coast to coast to coast. We consulted with industry, fishers, coastal communities, indigenous people, and environmental groups.

I do not know exactly what the consultation process was under the previous government, but I am assured that the consultation process we have taken on as part of Bill C-55 has been extensive and thorough, and I am quite confident that it has gone well above and beyond anything the previous government did with regard to consultation.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I normally say what a pleasure it is for me to rise in debate on a specific piece of legislation before the House. That is the case because I enjoy talking about public policy. However, I would be remiss if I did not comment on why we are debating Bill C-55 today.

In fact, I feel bad for our table officers, our parliamentary clerks, and everyone trying to support debate in the House, because it has been a bit sporadic over the last number of days, for one simple reason. That is the fact that the government, which ran on slogans of accountability and transparency, has been desperate to not provide those two things to the opposition with respect to the Atwal India affair.

I have been speaking for some time, so I think my colleagues will see that I am ready for the debate. However, we would not be debating Bill C-55 at all today were the government willing to be accountable, with the same level of disclosure that was provided to the media, be that classified or non-classified, which is very hard to determine after today's question period. MPs should be entitled to that same thing.

In a ruling earlier today, Mr. Speaker, you confirmed that MPs, collectively and individually, are entitled to hear from Mr. Jean, but there needs to be an order of Parliament to facilitate that appearance. Normally, a committee would call on him to provide testimony to appear. However, when the government uses its majority to block Mr. Jean, to block the ability of Parliament to exercise that order, it is stifling debate, covering up the Atwal affair. Whatever they want to call it, the government cannot suggest that it is not violating our right to get to the heart of the matter, based on the fact that it is using its majority to quash proper scrutiny of the major diplomatic incident.

I say that at the outset, because I want Canadians following this debate, both in our gallery and at home, to recognize that we are debating Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, because the government is desperate to keep the national security adviser, Daniel Jean, from answering a few simple questions and providing the same level of information he provided journalists.

What I find curious about today's question period is that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety suggested that none of the information he gave is classified, yet a member of the press gallery, during question period, confirmed that the national security adviser said that certain pieces of information could not be shared publicly. They could not write about it. That would suggest the contrary. This is like an onion. Every level we peel away is another layer, and our eyes are watering with tears for the lack of accountability of the government, to keep with that analogy.

Getting to the heart of the matter on Bill C-55, what may look to Canadians like sort of an update of an act, I am going to suggest, is the creeping edge of ideological Liberal policy and ideology creeping into the science of our oceans and our economic relationships with companies that invest capital to develop resources offshore. I will speak to that in a moment.

Overall, the bill is suggested as empowering and clarifying how the minister can establish marine protected spaces and provide a national network of those. That has been done before, but I would suggest, with this bill, that the government takes a very ideological turn.

The bill contains new powers for enforcement officers and new offences for ships and operators that violate nationally protected marine areas. What is also contained in the bill is where the government is really going with this. It would provide the ability to cancel interests, be they economic or others, in a marine area and to compensate for them. Petrological investigation and development, I think, is what is meant by that. Already the government is signalling that it intends to basically pull back on some of the offshore licences many companies have.

I would suggest that members from Atlantic Canada ask some questions. They are already suffering greatly from the Prime Minister's move to try and increase the regulation that led to the cancellation of energy east. I know my friend from Saint John has watched that closely.

The Liberals are already hurting the energy industry in Atlantic Canada, and now, have they consulted with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland? We have provincial-federal boards to regulate the offshore. There is the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, and there is one that was created for Newfoundland and Labrador.

I would add that all of the work with respect to allowing provinces to be net beneficiaries of their offshore petroleum wealth, much like the onshore in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and even in Ontario, Petrolia, Ontario, at one point, all of that security for those Atlantic provinces was provided by Conservative governments, which do not try to chase away investment from the energy industry. They try to make sure Canada benefits to the full extent that our royalty regimes will allow, and to make sure that areas like Saint John, New Brunswick, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador benefit from employment and secondary and tertiary benefits from the offshore. It was the governments of Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper that provided that.

I was proud to learn all about that at Atlantic Canada's finest law school, Dalhousie Law School, where we studied that approach to the offshore.

Bill C-55 already indicates that the Liberals are going to be pulling a lot of these economic rights back. The members from Atlantic Canada should already be worried about the government's move to ensure energy east did not happen, and about the war on small business, which I know my friend from Saint John watched very closely, because he publicly criticized his government on that. There is a war on job creation in Atlantic Canada, and I see Bill C-55 as the latest arsenal in the Liberal government's attempt to stymie the ability for Atlantic Canada to benefit from its offshore resources.

There is a number of other measures in the bill. Interestingly, it excludes first nations organizations that may have agreements as part of a land claims treaty. If the Liberals really are doing this in the public interest, I wonder why there would be that exclusion. I think our first nations would want to know they were being consulted on part of the decision related to marine integrity.

Finally, there are obvious exemptions for search and rescue, scientific research, and damage response that would allow first responders and others to go into marine protected spaces. It is the odd time I get to speak in the House about my own experience in that regard. When I was with the Sea King 423 squadron in Atlantic Canada, we deployed with our Atlantic navy. We went out into these economic exclusive zones, to the fisheries patrol in the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap. My crew and I landed on Hibernia, hundreds of nautical miles from St. John's, because we had to train and prepare for evacuations and responses to tragedy. Newfoundland and Labrador knows that from the sad Ocean Ranger tragedy.

Developing a resource and the jobs related to the offshore has its risks. I have seen that first hand, but from living in Atlantic Canada and serving in that role, I have also seen first hand how the economic activity in, for example St. John's and the outports along the Avalon, benefits from this resource development. Bill C-55 is the plan to stop that, to pull back licences and the ability for these resources to be developed responsibly.

I think we are debating this now because of the cover-up in the Atwal affair, but I am hoping that shining a light on Bill C-55 allows some of the Atlantic caucus to speak up to the Prime Minister and say, “Enough is enough, Mr. Prime Minister. We're already going to see jobs at risk and the energy industry impacted by your cancellation of energy east because of the burdens you have put on Trans Canada and other operators. Now, with this, are you forecasting more cuts in offshore oil and gas exploration?”

I hope our friends, particularly my friend from Saint John, asked those tough questions at caucus, because Bill C-55 seems to signal that.

The ideological underpinnings here that really concern me can be found in proposed sections 35 and 35.1 of the act, because it appears to integrate directly the precautionary principle into the legislation, and that should cause some debate. Those sections basically say that we cannot use scientific uncertainty regarding risks, marine health, and that sort of thing, as a reason to be cautious with respect to regulation, or to phase in or to not have regulation until there is scientific certainty.

The precautionary principle, which clearly some ideological adherents in the Liberal Party want to push forward, is that before the science is even clear, let us regulate and remove activity. That is what that says. Some call it the “better safe than sorry” philosophy, but actually it is not, because acting before we have the science will have unintended risks, especially, and learned scholars have written about this, when it comes to economic activity. We would hurt economic activity, because we would be leaning in favour of stopping something before the science was even clear.

As a Conservative MP who had the pleasure of being in government for a short time, including in cabinet—and now we are on our way back there, but we are on this side—one thing I remember clearly at the time was the current Prime Minister's love for such expressions as the Liberals were for “evidence-based decision-making”, that they were going to be a “science-led government”, that they were going to unshackle science. Well, here in the bill, it should concern Canadians that the Liberals are actually saying that they are not going to wait for the science at all. They are going to regulate. They are going to stop development. They are going to stop technological improvement that could address some of the issues at play before the science is confirmed.

People have written on how the precautionary principle, if it is mandated, will lead to economic disruption and stifle technological innovation. We would not have actually assessed the situation properly, and so we are going to run into unintended risks, because we are leaning forward without a proper assessment of the science.

The good thing, the way environmental legislation already reads, is that it generally will regulate where there is science, and it does not have to be absolutely certain. Legislation generally in Canada, the United States, and other countries has been able to regulate in a way that is minimally intrusive, particularly while the science is uncertain. I am not just making this up. These are sections that the Liberals are inserting into two acts of Parliament that already exist. I do not think the Liberals could suggest that there is no regulation of the environment in our oceans. They are acknowledging that the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act exist to do this, but they are going further by inserting this ideological approach to governing. This should concern people, especially my friends in Atlantic Canada who would like the Liberal government, for a change, to lean in favour of jobs. However, the Liberals lean in favour of stopping investment.

Members do not have to just take my word for it. We remember the famous and mildly embarrassing speech the Prime Minister gave introducing President Obama in this chamber, the hallowed ground where once Winston Churchill gave his “some chicken, some neck” speech. The Prime Minister introduced the president of the United States by saying that the Press Gallery and Canadians were going to witness a bromance in action, or “dude-plomacy” as he termed it. I wanted to crawl under the table at that moment I was so embarrassed by our Prime Minister.

What did President Obama's chief official from the office of information and regulatory affairs say about inserting the precautionary principle in legislation? He said, “The precautionary principle, for all its rhetorical appeal, is deeply incoherent.” He acknowledges that it is policy on the fly, so that people could feel good, without clear science.

We have the ability to have science, in terms of the impact of resource development, how to mitigate that. We have science with respect to fisheries, marine life. Why would we not consult the science?

The Liberals are inserting into legislation the ability for government to ignore the science and stop first. Stop and ask questions later. I think, particularly in Atlantic Canada, that should concern a number of people.

There has been criticism of this approach because it is inserting ideological value judgments in place of sound public policy supported by science. The interesting thing is so many of the Liberal candidates, and I am sure the members listening to my speech, probably repeated that “evidence-based decision-making” line. That was one of the Liberals' top hits from the election campaign. Where is that now?

By incorporating the precautionary principle into legislation, the Liberals are saying that they are making a value judgment—their value judgment—rather than consulting the science. That should concern people. I hope people see that in Bill C-55. They might think it is innocuous.

This is ideological creep of the Liberal government. We see it everywhere. I have said that this is a government that, in NAFTA negotiations, did not mention the auto industry or other core sectors of the economy. It said the priorities were going to be indigenous issues, environmental issues, and a number of things that are not even contained in the rules of origin, the market access provisions of a trade agreement. I termed that at the time as “virtue signalling”.

Liberals will say, “Here are our values. Who cares what the science is? Who cares what the trade agreement says? We only want to speak to a certain number of voters.” They are willing to change legislation and prioritize trade negotiations, all to support their voter base.

For a party that was constantly using the refrain “evidence-based decision-making” and “a science-based government”, Canadians should be concerned. This ideological approach we are seeing in this legislation is part of the Liberals' overall virtue signalling. “Damn the science. Let us stop development now. Let us have the ability to cancel interests in the offshore in here, and move on.”

The Liberals are not worried about the science. They are not worried about the impact on local economies in the St. John's area, and in the Saint John area, where our refinery is. There is no concern about some of the offshore support vessels throughout Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and what a value that is to the regional economy.

People in Atlantic Canada should be saying, “Wait a minute. We have a science-based approach to our offshore.” I still remember the famous case of John Crosbie putting a cod moratorium down, almost getting lynched but saying that the science said we had to do this because the stocks were dwindling, and we were going to do it. It was a science-based, tough decision.

Here we have the Liberal government basically saying, “We are not concerned with the science. We are going to lean forward. We cannot stop what we want to do because of the lack of scientific certainty.” This is an ideological wedge the Liberals have placed in this bill, and I think they are going to put it into others.

I have raised concerns that people in Atlantic Canada should have. I will conclude by asking the government to take that provision in sections 35 and 35.1 out, and to return to its old rhetoric about being focused on evidence-based decision-making. Stop the virtue signalling. Stop the ideological creep. Stop preventing areas of the country from properly and effectively benefiting from their onshore or offshore wealth, because thousands of families are paying the price for this Liberal ideology.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague. It is sad to see the government throwing Bill C-55 at us so quickly today, as a smokescreen, to avoid talking about the things that embarrass them.

What is even more embarrassing, though, is hearing the member caricature the debate by presenting positions that are so predictable that he could put anyone to sleep. Here we have a Conservative who believes that whale conservation is not based on science. We have international obligations in that regard that must be met. We have a duty.

Since my colleague seems so determined to talk about science, I wonder what his response is to the fact that science has proven that belugas are vulnerable. If an oil terminal were to be built in the beluga nursery, what would my colleague have wanted today? Does he think we are correct in guessing that this would cause a problem, or does he think we should have waited for this to be confirmed in black and white?

Many young people are talking to us about these problems, and reminding us of our international obligations regarding the protection of at-risk species. Another whale became beached yesterday in the Magdalen Islands.

Does my colleague think that not building an oil terminal in Cacouna was the right decision?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Durham for his fine intervention this afternoon. I take lessons from his speaking attributes. It is in admiration that I watch him.

I would ask the member if he sees the trend and traits that have been established by the government with its “we know best” attitude being reflected in Bill C-55, and with its proposed ability to close an area without any lengthy consultation and only one year of previous activity to be included. That trend is following, and we saw it in fisheries committee this morning when we tried to put forward a motion dealing with an issue of poor interaction between the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Transport, causing great consternation with fishermen in Atlantic Canada, hampering growth, and hampering activity in Atlantic Canada. We put forward a motion to try and put an end to that and get the two ministries together, but the Liberal members, mostly from Atlantic Canada, shut that down.

I would like the member to comment further on the comments he made about the Liberal government shutting down opportunity for growth, particularly in Atlantic Canada.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 5:20 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 again speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

I had the opportunity to speak to the legislation back in September at second reading. I expressed some serious concerns with the legislation and how it might affect fishers and coastal communities. It was my hope that the government would make some significant amendments to the legislation in response.

It was not just me expressing concern. A huge number of Canadians who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods have voiced their concerns loud and clear, but these concerns have fallen on the deaf ears of the government.

As I stated back in September, the provisions in Bill C-55 will certainly make delivering on the government's campaign promise of increasing the amount of Canada's marine protected areas much easier, but there are costs associated with moving at this unreasonable pace. We are again seeing the government move forward with a timeline that is so strictly tied to a campaign promise rather than having promises that are based on reasonable timelines. This makes for good politics, but it does not make for good policy.

For example, once an area has an interim designation, it will be very difficult to reverse. Once the minister decides to deem an area as an interim MPA, there will be restrictions, regulations, and prohibitions put in place that will affect the use of the area for a full five years. What if, for example, at the end of the five years it is determined that the area should not be deemed to be an MPA? 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 examine all evidence in a fulsome process to determine MPAs rather than create a piecemeal approach wherein areas are designated on an interim basis and then reviewed. Again, this is all the result of arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines that are unreasonable and will result in a rushed and, quite frankly, messy process.

At the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the committee heard time and time again that the government was moving much too quickly and needed to take a step back to ensure the process for creating an MPA was actually based on scientific evidence and proper consultation rather than simply the will of the minister. My colleague, the member for Durham, eloquently explained that lack of science. While the government constantly pretends to base everything on science, quite obviously it does not.

A number of the amendments that the Conservative members of the committee put forward were rejected by the Liberals. These amendments would have made Bill C-55 much more effective and would have ensured that all those who would be affected by an MPA would be properly consulted before it was put in place by the minister.

I would like to take some time to present to the House some of the amendments that were rejected by the Liberal members of the committee, many of whom represent coastal communities by the way. In fact, six of the Liberal MPs on our committee represent Maritime ridings. Their constituents have told our committee constantly that they are not very happy with the lack of consultation and science.

Under Bill C-55, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, without any consultation with stakeholders, fishers, or community members, may implement an interim protected area. The committee heard time and again that an interim designation without any consultation was simply not acceptable.

Therefore, the Conservatives introduced an amendment to require the minister to give a 60-day consultation period before using his or her powers under this act. Given that the government's favourite word on almost any other topic is “consultation”, we naively assumed that this amendment would pass. Unfortunately, the Liberal members of the committee did not agree that it was a good idea for their constituents to have a voice and they ultimately rejected this amendment.

I represent a landlocked riding in Ontario, so the impact of Bill C-55 on my constituency is fairly minimal. However, that does not take away the fact, as I see it, as well as many of the constituents of the Liberal members at the fisheries committee see it, that this would take away their livelihood without any consultation. Nobody should have to put up with that. If this thing were affecting my constituents in Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, they would be screaming bloody murder.

However, it truly boggles my mind that Liberal members at the fisheries and oceans committee would not fight against this legislation. We are supposed to be looking out for the best interests of our constituents, not the Prime Minister or the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

I feel truly sorry for the residents of South Shore—St. Margarets, Miramichi—Grand Lake, Avalon, and all other ridings of Liberal members on the fisheries and oceans committee. In 2015, they thought they were electing their voice in Ottawa. Instead it appears they have elected Ottawa's voice in their community.

Furthermore, the Conservative members of the committee also introduced two amendments that would have required some form of reporting to Parliament by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to update the House on the status of the MPA process and interim designations made under this act. Specifically, the amendment would have called for the minister to report to the House once per fiscal year regarding the administration and enforcement of this act for that specific year. The report would include any MPAs that were designated during that period, the extent to which, in the opinion of the minister, the conservation reasons stated for each designated MPA had been respected, and, finally, any further measures that the minister thought were required for any designated MPAs.

One would think that a party that has spent years in opposition, claiming that the former government had no respect for Parliament, would welcome this amendment with open arms. We were not asking the minister to come out every year and spill state secrets. It was simply to be a quick update on where things were at and where we were going. Unfortunately, once again, these amendments were rejected.

Before I wrap up my comments, I wanted to put on the record some comments that were made by Dr. Larry McKinney, executive director at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at the University of Corpus Christi in Texas. Dr. McKinney is an expert on MPAs and has established a number of them throughout the United States. He told the committee that the MPA process worked best when the identification and establishment of MPAs were driven by the communities that would be impacted by their designation. He stated that the most successful MPAs he had overseen were the ones that were actually identified by local recreational fishers who saw a need for protection and worked with the government to protect these areas.

I always say that anglers and hunters are the true stewards of the environment and true conservationists.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 1:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for Port Moody—Coquitlam for his and his party's initial support of this legislation. We look forward to working with them and other parliamentarians in committee to see if the legislation can be improved.

As I said when I spoke in this House, as we did with respect to the Oceans Act, Bill C-55, we are constantly looking for suggestions from Canadians, from other parliamentarians in this House and in the other place, for constructive ways we can strengthen this legislation. That is a process we look forward to having in committee. That is why we think it is important for this legislation to progress to committee where the committee can hear from Canadians, environmental groups, associations representing fishers and harvesters around the country. Of course, we look forward to working with parliamentarians as the legislation gets scrutinized in committee and comes back to this House.

I said the same thing in the other place when I had the chance to go to question period there, and it is something that I am happy to repeat here today.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is very rich that the minister stands here today and talks about our first nations. We just had an incredible ceremony for the Tsilhqot'in Nation in my riding. He talks about Bill C-68, his ministry, and how he and other ministers are willing to engage with first nations. The Liberals have a lawsuit with one of the largest first nations in the province of British Columbia, the Lax Kw'alaams, specifically over Bill C-68, and the other bill, Bill C-55, the lack of consultation, of listening, and the first nations assertion that the government is taking its direction from foreign ownership third party groups.

I want to offer the minister another chance to clarify his comments. We are standing today because the government is shutting down debate, not allowing the 338 members of Parliament from all sides to stand and voice their concerns for Bill C-68. Indeed, those who have some serious issues like the Lax Kw'alaams have now launched a lawsuit against the government.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.
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Burnaby North—Seymour B.C.

Liberal

Terry Beech LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise in the House today to speak for a second time to Bill C-55, following the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans' review and analysis of this bill. We thank the committee members for their careful study of this legislation and their thoughtful amendments.

Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, puts forward provisions that show Canadians our commitment to be responsible stewards of our ocean resources for future generations. Since 2015, we have made excellent progress in achieving our domestic and international marine conservation targets. We have kept our promise of protecting 5% of our marine and coastal areas by the end of 2017. In fact, we are now at 7.75%, up from less than 1% in 2015. Meeting this target has put us on track to reach our international target of 10% by 2020. I know that Canadians are proud of this achievement because it means hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of new protections. In fact, we are up to 446,000 square kilometres to date. To get to 10%, our government is following a clear plan, which is based on science, indigenous knowledge, consultations, and collaboration.

Bill C-55 is an important piece of that plan. It currently takes approximately seven to 10 years to officially designate an Oceans Act MPA. Our partners agree when we say that this is too long for a sensitive marine or coastal area in need of protection to go without. Establishing interim protection would address this gap, while still allowing for the necessary ecological, economic, social, and cultural analysis, as well as consultation and collaboration efforts with all of our various partners.

This bill would require the 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 an MPA where science tells us there is a need for action and where there is a need for protection.

The precautionary principle would be used judiciously. As we know, it is a matter of concern to some industry stakeholders. We have heard the concerns that science resources may be insufficient to conduct the necessary work within the five-year period subsequent to the ministerial order, or that the precautionary approach could provide an excuse for not doing the scientific analysis at all. This, of course, is not true. Our commitment to science and information gathering remains strong. We agree that our foundational principle of science-based decision-making must not be compromised in any way.

In addition, Bill C-55 would update, modernize, and strengthen enforcement powers, fines, and penalties, effectively bringing the Oceans Act in line with Canada's other environmental laws. Such changes to the act would support the people who manage and monitor MPAs. Enforcement officers, for example, would get the tools and authority they need to better protect MPAs, which in turn would improve the effectiveness of the MPAs. These changes would expand and modernize the tool kit for enforcement officers designated by the minister, which may include indigenous people or provincial and territorial partners.

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

During their review of Bill C-55, my colleagues in the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans have heard from many different witnesses and experts on the proposed amendments and what they think should be included in Bill C-55. I would like to take this time to talk about what we have heard through the standing committee on Bill C-55. Several witnesses expressed concerns that the proposed changes may short-circuit the collection and analysis of reliable scientific data or deprive Canadians of the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the creation of interim protection MPAs. Our commitment to science and to working with our partners remains unwavering. As is our current practice, collaboration is essential to advancing our marine protection work.

We are working with the provinces and territories, indigenous groups, industry, and other environmental stakeholders to establish networks of MPAs and will continue to do so under this new option for interim protection marine protected areas.

Our government knows that the effective management of Canada's oceans depends on an in-depth understanding of the marine environment. We gain this understanding through peer-reviewed science, the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, and through information shared by the fishing industry and local communities. By balancing the collection of information and consultations with our partners with the precautionary approach, interim protection marine protected areas will offer the needed protections to our important ocean seascape and resources, while still being shaped by science and consultation.

We have heard the call for stronger conservation standards. While Bill C-55 is a targeted response to the length of time that it takes to designate MPAs, we know that it is important to continue the conversation on conservation standards. That is why we have established a national advisory panel that will provide the minister with advice and recommendations on protection standards for future marine protected areas. The panel is to report back with their recommendations. It is essential that we come to the right answers to these questions together, in order to properly protect our oceans for long-term sustainability.

The issue of economic fairness was also raised by a few indigenous groups and fishers during the standing committee's hearings. These are concerns that the new powers proposed could deprive rights holders and others of their dependence on marine resources for sustenance and livelihood.

I want to emphasize that the ministerial order provision is not meant to close the door on economic opportunities. We are committed to working in full transparency with our partners to ensure that our oceans and marine resources support a long-term sustainable economy. In fact, we are of the view that provisions like this will actually make for more abundance so that future generations can have more economic opportunities.

Lastly, we have heard from some of our indigenous partners that we need to renew our relationships to ensure that their voices are being heard. We are open to conversations on co-management, and providing a greater role for indigenous partners in the management of our oceans. We are committed to reconciliation and are striving to work more closely with indigenous groups, including Inuit communities, to inform the process and make the most of their traditional knowledge.

We have listened to many important proposed amendments to Bill C-55 and the committee has worked diligently to reflect carefully on all of them. We particularly support the proposal made by the member for Nunavut, supported by the member for Northwest Territories, which amends the bill to ensure that our approach to interim protection MPAs is consistent with land claims agreements. We understand that conservation is integral to the indigenous way of life, but a balance with sustainable use is necessary to ensure that our communities are able to continue to thrive. As I have said, interim protection MPAs will not be established without constructive conversation, and it will be a collaborative effort.

We are not looking to move ahead without our partners, but to offer protection where it has been identified by our partners as necessary to ensure the long-term health of the marine environment. Bill C-55 is a powerful step toward better protection for our oceans, advancing reconciliation and moving towards a nation-to-nation dialogue, and continuing to work together on the shared objectives that Canadians care deeply about. We have a shared duty to protect our oceans for generations to come, and this bill helps us do that.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Terry Beech Liberal Burnaby North—Seymour, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by addressing the statement that we misrepresented the actual progress that has been made with regard to marine protected areas. Up until the last election, less than 1% of our oceans and marine ways were protected, despite the fact that we are five years into a 10-year commitment to get to a protection level of 10%. Our government has doubled down our efforts and now has reached a point of 7.75% protection, representing hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of new protection, which I know for a fact Canadians are proud of.

Also with regard to transparency, what we will see, not just in the changes to the Oceans Act in Bill C-55 but also in the changes in Bill C-68 to the Fisheries Act, and Bill C-69, is that our government is sticking to and increasing our commitment to provide transparency. In the Fisheries Act, for example, a registry is being created. This is to make sure Canadians have all the tools they need to understand what the government is doing so that they can hold us to account. It is also to make sure people who are doing projects, whether big or small, have certainty around timelines and the like. That is the kind of transparent work that our government continues to do on these important bills.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 5:25 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. parliamentary secretary knows I support Bill C-55. I am very pleased to see the amendments to the Oceans Act. I am also very grateful that amendments I made in committee were accepted by the committee and supported by the government.

Certainly, we know it takes a long time to establish national marine protected areas. By way of example, in my riding, what is still called the southern Strait of Georgia national marine conservation area, or as we call it the Salish Sea, was initially put forward so long ago, in the 1970s, that it was endorsed by Jacques Cousteau. We await the creation of this protected area. I wonder if the hon. parliamentary secretary can shed any light on how he sees the timing for the Salish Sea national protected area, adjacent to the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is truly a pleasure for me to rise and to consume about 30 minutes of this House's time on this issue.

I will couch my opening remarks by saying it was a privilege for me at one point in time in my life to earn a zoology degree in fisheries and aquatic sciences from the University of Alberta. I worked as a fisheries technician and on many fisheries experiments. I worked as a national park warden in Parks Canada enforcing the Fisheries Act, among other things, and of course as a conservation officer in the province of Alberta doing much the same, so I have a little working knowledge on this. I am proud to have folks like Dr. David Schindler as one of the professors I learned something from. If I told people when I was going to school, that would probably date both of us and I do not think that is a particularly constructive thing to do at this point in time.

Suffice it to say, I remained active. I was a fishing guide in the Northwest Territories while I was going to university. I spent a lot of time on Great Bear Lake, and of course on the north coast where the Coppermine River flows into the Arctic Ocean. I have maintained my love of the outdoors as an avid hunter and angler ever since. These kinds of issues are near and dear to my heart, especially when it comes to recreational fishing, or as it is more affectionately known, sport fishing.

These issues are very important. I will start by making some comparisons. When I was going to the University of Alberta years and years ago, there was a plan at that time by the World Wildlife Fund and the Canadian wilderness societies and so on that they wanted a 12, 75, 12 plan. They wanted to have 12% of all the land mass in Canada protected under the same kind of statutory protection a national park would have. That meant there would be no opportunities to do anything, no development and so on. There would be complete protection for that area. I do not want to call it conservation. I call it a preservation type of protection that they would have in these areas.

The other 75% of Canada would be considered areas that would be managed, like forest management areas. These would be areas where we would have human activity that would go on, but there would be zoning. Activities would be permitted, but they would be heavily regulated by the federal, provincial, or municipal government. Then about another 12% of our land mass at that particular point in time would be a complete disturbance areas. This would be areas for our cities, roads, major industrial developments, and so on.

I remember asking the question when I was in university if 12, 75, 12 was going to be enough. That adds up to 99, but members will get the point. As we have seen evolve through time, those numbers no longer hold true today with what certain groups are asking for. They are asking for more of that preservation land. They are asking for stricter regulations on the 75%. Of course, nobody wants to take responsibility for the 12% because that would mean we would have to tear down cities and do all those kinds of things in order to restore it back to its natural habitat, which is not a reasonable thing to ask people to do.

Who bears the burden then every time somebody asks for more protection? We have to take that protection out of that 12% or out of that 75% to add to the 12%. I am talking about the preserved areas. Who suffers the consequences of that? I am using this as an example on land to make my point later on about the protected areas and the marine areas. Who bears that price? It is everybody who lives in rural Canada. It is everybody who farms, everybody who relies on forestry, and everybody who is a fisherman, or a fisher person, or fisher peoplekind, depending on what the moniker of the day is.

The point is that everything we ask to happen in the natural environment generally happens outside the confines of city limits. This is not an aspersion on folks who live in cities, and I live in a city myself. However, having grown up on a farm, I understand every time somebody has to pay a price out in our so-called natural areas that price is borne by the people who live there or make their livings in these rural, remote, or non-city areas.

The same is going to actually hold true for those who earn a living in our marine areas. This would be our commercial fishermen. This would be anybody who does any tourism, anybody who does any type of business, and of course first nations people who earn a living off the coastal waters of our country. We have seen the absolute damage, the economic damage, that can be done to these communities when we do not get things right.

As we know, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is tasked with maintaining fish stocks. We know in Atlantic Canada, going back to the early 1990s, some of the issues that happened there when we applied a purely political decision over good science and technical information. I am referring specifically to the collapse of the cod fishery.

I was a fairly young man at the time. I was studying in university in the late 1980s and early 1990s at about the same time that the cod fishery was closed. I believe it was in 1993 when it was closed. It was closed because it was mismanaged. At that time there were over one million seals in the Atlantic Ocean. Today we have six million or seven million seals there. It was a big problem. The fishermen had to move to other resources, such as herring, lobsters, and other fisheries. They had to adapt to overcome the loss of the cod.

To this day we have had a moratorium. I want to talk about what it means. The moratorium on the cod fishery means that no one is allowed to do it, so the cod for all intents and purposes are preserved. The cod population stocks are under a preservation style of protection. Have the cod stocks actually come back? No, they have not. We have moved this from a managed fishery into a completely protected class and even that movement in and of itself has not had the desired effect or outcome that we wanted.

We have not stopped any of the other activity that happens off of the east coast. There are still ships coming in and out. I would argue we have lots of ships with foreign oil coming into the east coast. It would be nicer to have a pipeline going from Alberta to our friends in the east, but I digress. It is a much easier thing to manage than tankers full of oil coming in on the east coast. It would be interesting to see if we had a tanker ban on the east coast the same as we do on the west coast. It seems to be a bit of a double standard there, but I am getting off topic and I will come back to marine protected areas.

When we moved from a management mode of the cod stocks into a preservation mode, it did not solve the problem. I am not saying it was not the right decision, but it did not solve the problem because all of the other aspects of managing the cod fishery have now fallen by the wayside. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, rather than restoring the cod stocks or managing the cod stocks, and I am not saying they are not doing some of that work, but now it is more interested in working the fisheries currently before it.

Now the Liberal government has proposed moving to a massive increase of the marine protected areas in our coastal waters. I was lucky to be a member of the fisheries committee in previous Parliaments because of my experience. As a matter of fact, people used to laugh when they found out a farm boy from central Alberta was a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for all those years, until they found out I actually knew a little about fisheries, other than how bad a fisherman I am.

Notwithstanding that, I learned a ton over the years and I was very honoured to go with the standing committee on a trip up north. We went to places like Prince Rupert, Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, and Paulatuk. We talked with the people who are going to be impacted by these marine protected areas there. The impacts and concerns are very real. People from local hunting and trapping associations up north came in droves to those meetings and made their voices heard. They are very concerned because they feel there has not been adequate consultation regarding some of the areas being proposed. There are very good questions about the risks of what is going to happen in the marine protected areas.

This is where we get to the conversation about what the international standard for a marine protected area is and how Canada is going to define a marine protected area. If we ask someone from the United Nations, that person would consider the marine protected area to be a no activity zone whatsoever. This is complete protection or what I referred to earlier as that preservation mentality. I am not saying it is right or wrong; I am just saying that is the mode most people would see when they hear about a marine protected area. They would see it as having the same protections that a national park would have.

Everyone knows that we cannot hunt in a national park. We cannot drill for anything in a national park. As a matter of fact, I have been an MP for 12 years and resort owners and so on in our national parks have not seen any changes over the last 12 years because it is so hard to get approval to get anything done in a national park. I am not saying it is right or wrong; it is just very difficult to do that because of the mandate Parks Canada has on its preservation, ecological integrity, and the other types of goals and ambitions that are laid out in the Canada National Parks Act.

Those same goals and ambitions are laid out in the legislative changes that are currently before the House with Bill C-55 and Bill C-68, which the government opposite just moved time allocation on, a bill that might be disastrous for the Alberta economy. It is just another straw on the camel's already broken back when it comes to the energy sector. However, I digress again and must return to Bill C-55.

With Bill C-55, the aboriginal groups, the Inuit, the people at the Prince Rupert Port Authority, the first nations groups, the Lax Kw'alaams and all the other groups we talked with out there are very concerned. PNCIMA was brought up. They are very concerned about the amount of foreign money that is coming in to influence policy decisions. The money coming in has been used by some aboriginal or indigenous groups out there to inadvertently stop what they thought was going to be an increase in the conversation. They realized they have sided with people who took money from a bunch of organizations that actually have a completely different mandate than what the first nations have. There is a court action happening right now where first nations groups in B.C. are raising funds to take the Government of Canada to court, citing all of the barriers it has put in place in the name of standing up for first nations, which will deprive them of economic opportunities going forward. This is something that is of very legitimate concern with Bill C-55 and the marine protected areas.

We have a tanker ban off the northern part of the west coast. Most people think that the entire west side of B.C. is coastal, but it is not. Just a little over a third of the west side of the province of British Columbia has access to the coast. The rest of it is in Alaska. We would have to go through Alaska in order to get some things done if we wanted to use the coastline in that case. We have a very small area to use along the British Columbia coast to begin with, and now a significant part of that coast is denied access, depending on what one is trying to ship or move.

I might be a bit cynical, but this is what the folks on the west coast and on the north coast who we met at committee are thinking. The folks up north want to be able to continue to hunt whales. One of the marine protected areas that the government is considering putting in place is right in the mouth of the Mackenzie River and the delta where it comes in. That happens to be an area of shallow water where the belugas come in. It is a safe place for the Inuit hunters to go. They go there every year to hunt belugas. If it becomes a marine protected area to protect the belugas, which seems to be a noble cause, it would exempt the Inuit from harvesting in that area. They would have to try and find those belugas somewhere else in order to maintain their traditional hunt. That is a problem for the first nations people there.

Are we going to create marine protected areas in Canada that do not actually meet the international standard of what is expected of us with respect to marine protected areas, or are we going to have a made-in-Canada solution, forgo our international obligations and then do our best? I am not sure what the government's intentions are with respect to that. It would be great to see. However, we seem to have a lot more questions than we do answers, and the legislation is not particularly clear on some of these questions.

I will go back to the port in Prince Rupert. We met with the port authorities there. They are already very much concerned. Most people in Canada do not know that most of the container goods that we see going through the western part of Canada on their way east—and a ton of containers that come to the west coast come in through Prince Rupert, which has a great container ability—go by rail through Canada all the way down to Chicago. This is supplying goods from the Asia-Pacific marketplace into central North America as a distribution hub. It is an amazing facility. It is a very small community. It is a great provider of jobs. There are great economic opportunities there.

There was a proposal for an LNG terminal in Prince Rupert. We know what happened with the LNG proposal. That seems to have gone by the wayside. Given the fact that there will be a tanker ban, there is no way anybody would even consider moving forward with an LNG terminal in that area.

If I were the kind of person who wanted to be bitter and vindictive about making sure that the tanker ban held its way for all time, I would consider putting a marine protected area across the Dixon Entrance and across the Hecate Strait. This would pretty much mean that particular area, depending on the provisions that were put in place for the marine protected area, could shut down shipping altogether in those areas, or at least really restrict what one is able to do.

This again brings me back to my point. What is a marine protected area supposed to do? Is it supposed to protect the water? Is it supposed to protect the species living in the water? Is it supposed to protect the benthic area directly below the water column along the sea floor? These are all questions to which we do not have answers.

If we look at the sunlit zone, which is the area where the human eye can see sunlight at the top of a water column, there is not a whole lot of activity there. There are some fish species, some algae, and some plankton. However, all of the stuff is very much moving as currents move in and out. Does it make any sense to try and protect a wave while it is a-wave? It does not make any sense at all. These things are going to move around the ocean. Are we protecting that area? Some would say yes. Some would say no.

Are we protecting a rearing area for whales or other types of migratory species that use the water? Are they going to be birds, fish, aquatic mammals, or terrestrial animals, where a certain part of their life cycle relies on the marine environment? Are we adequately taking into consideration where those protections should be best placed?

Are we taking a look at the littoral zone, and are we going to protect it? Are we going protect the benthic zone? Are we going to shut down commercial fishing, for example? Are we going to be shutting down dragging or trawling along the bottom of the sea for fish species? That is maybe a good thing, but maybe it is not. I happen to believe that, in certain cases, if it is done in the right place, protections on the bottom of the sea floor are great. They are great for the groundfish that live there, especially if it is an area rich in groundfish that usually stay in that area. An area of refugia actually creates species all around it.

I will go back to one of my jobs as a park warden, which was to patrol the north boundary of Jasper National Park on horseback. Why I ever gave that job up in the glorious Rocky Mountains riding horses, to this day I do not understand. However, my job was to protect the park boundary from poachers. Where did everyone go hunting for trophy rams or bighorn sheep? Well, they would go hunting where the rams were. The rams were in the national park, because they understood the refugia, and they would go back into the park any time they felt threatened. They knew where the boundary was. It was an interesting thing to watch. That area of refugia continued to populate the sheep populations as they migrated out, which is the same thing with other species.

This is not necessarily bad policy, but it is not an effective one-size-fits-all policy. It is going to work well for some species of groundfish, but it is not going to do anything for some species of fish that might migrate through or that do not use the area on a regular basis. We have to ask the question of whether the marine protected area is in the right spot.

I have a lot of questions about this proposed legislation and what the consequences of it might be. I have highlighted the fact that the cod fishery, taking the protectionist approach, has not exactly worked if we are not taking a serious look at management. When we put things into that category of preservation, it becomes very difficult to do any management, because we have to get double approvals for everything.

Imagine if Parks Canada said we need to shoot grizzly bears, wolves, and mountain lions in order to protect caribou. It is not unfathomable that this might be a desperation policy at some point down the road, as growth of the wolf, grizzly bear, and mountain lion populations continues to explode in the eastern slopes region of Alberta. These animals are everywhere, so much so that, in some cases, we cannot find any ungulates anymore. Rather than stopping economic activity such as oil and gas exploration or forestry, we are going to shut those industries down and not do anything at all about predator control.

I do not see some of my colleagues from Atlantic Canada who were here earlier, but I know that a lot of them, even though they might not say it in front of a microphone, hear the same things that I hear. I have been there many times with fisheries, and they are asking for control of the seal population in order to allow the cod stocks to come back. However, imagine a situation where we create a marine protected area around some of the islands where grey seals or harbour seals rear their pups. It comes down to the point that someday somewhere, someone will say we have to have the courage to manage these populations and do what is right.

Imagine trying to manage predator control in a protected area where the needs of the wildlife are put before the needs of everybody else, a fishery, or whatever the case might be. I have news for members. It is romantic to think we have the ability to have these protected areas and that they can operate in isolation from the rest of the world, but that is not the case. The bill before us could seriously limit the ability of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and other organizations to effectively manage wildlife populations and allow other economic activities to grow. Therefore, the bill should not be rushed through Parliament. It should be given every opportunity, which is why I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following therefor:

“Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, be not now read a third time but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for the purpose of reconsidering all of the clauses.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to provide those who are watching, and members, with a number of points about what we do and do not support in the legislation. The bill would provide some new legal tools that would speed up the creation of marine protected areas, but it falls far short of Canada's international commitments to protect our marine biodiversity.

The bill fails to set minimum protection standards, and I will speak a little more about that, and targets for zoning for marine protected areas, which renders the designation inconsistent at best and meaningless at worst. It would give the minister far too much latitude to decide what activities would be permissible in an MPA. If oil and gas exploration can take place in an MPA, what is the point of the designation? Those are some of our concerns.

I want to talk about the NDP's proposed amendments at the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans. We had five major themes. All were supported by witness testimony.

Our first theme was focused on establishing minimum protection standards. It makes sense that if we do not have a minimum basic standard with respect to protection, it gets very hard for either industry or for those concerned about protection, such as governments, nations, and first nations, to know exactly what is the definition criteria and how they meet a minimum basic level of protection. The government could focus a lot more on that.

The second theme was maintaining ecological integrity as the primary objective of an MPA, or marine protected area. That is critical and achieved through networks and other areas of protection, either federal designations, or at provincial or indigenous levels. All can play part in a constructive network of protection and protected areas. Maintaining that ecological integrity is critical for the whole concept behind an MPA.

The third theme was creating co-governance with indigenous peoples and establishing the authority of indigenous guardians. This is a critical element today of managing our resources, our oceans, our lands, and our watersheds. We just saw on the floor of the House of Commons an unprecedented ceremony recognizing those wrongs that were made prior to Confederation, but now being acknowledged by the government, and how our new relationship with first nations must be, which must include co-management. When we talk about marine protected areas, we must recognize a new way of managing and protecting our oceans.

The fourth theme was establishing no-take zones. This is a critical element to which the international community has drawn. I will speak more about that in a minute, about the importance of having some areas within the MPA. It does not have to be the entire area, but scientific evidence shows the more areas that are no-take or that have the highest level of protection flourish the best. There will be protection of sensitive ecosystems when no-take zones are established. Canada falls far behind when looking specifically at no-take zones.

Finally, the fifth theme was to facilitate the implementation of a network of MPAs, not just specifically looking at the protected areas off and on land. We look at parks, but on the water we call them marine protected areas. Like on land, we need to provide connectivity. Establishing networks of MPAs is a critical element.

Other elements touched on similar themes. I will highlight the ones we heard at the standing committee. Ecological integrity, network ability of MPAs, and the recognition of indigenous rights were passed at the committee stage. Our proposed amendments were stronger, and it was regretful that they were defeated.

Many witnesses at committee supported the bill, but they also supported our proposed amendments. On November 23 of last year, Linda Nowlan, staff counsel at West Coast Environmental Law testified:

The law is currently very inconsistent. As you've heard and will probably continue to hear, people are astonished to learn that oil and gas exploration, undersea mining, and damaging fishing activities are all possible in the tiny fraction of the sea that we call marine protected areas. That's why an unprecedented 70,000 Canadians, members of the public, spoke out about one of the proposed new MPAs, Laurentian Channel, and said that we need to keep harmful activities out of these areas.

On November 21, Bill Wareham, the science projects manager of the David Suzuki Foundation, testified about the need to strengthen the bill with respect to indigenous protected areas. He said:

I think the other area of the act that needs strengthening is the area of indigenous protected areas. Many indigenous peoples have a longstanding interest in conserving resources and protecting areas of their traditional territory, and there's an opportunity to enable the government to accommodate indigenous protected areas, which are determined, managed, and governed by indigenous people. This amendment would not only facilitate additional conservation of natural resources, but would take Canada further down the path of reconciliation with indigenous communities.

On November 9, Susanna Fuller, senior marine conservation coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, testified the following:

It makes no sense not to prohibit open net-pen aquaculture, for example, in a protected area that includes an important river for wild Atlantic salmon. It makes no sense to allow seismic testing and oil and gas drilling in areas that are important for marine mammals, or that are closed to bottom fishing to protect deep-sea coral and sponges. Essentially, our Oceans Act MPAs are lacking in some key ground rules that, perhaps, could not have been foreseen when it was drafted 20 years ago.

Third, the current lack of standards in this Oceans Act, and more broadly the lack of standards across all of the tools used to protect the marine environment—National Marine Conservation Areas, Fisheries Act closures—means that there is confusion at the ground level, which is not necessary. Canadians expect that in our terrestrial protected areas industrial activities will not be permitted. In the marine environment—and I think you've received our brief already that we put together with several other NGOs from across Canada—we're strongly advocating that activities like bottom trawling, oil and gas exploration and development, open net-pen aquaculture, and seabed mining should simply not happen in our marine protected areas. This does not preclude other low-impact human uses, like fishing with low-impact gear, ecotourism, and marine transportation.

The scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that bottom trawling has significant damaging impacts to sea floor ecosystems, and that no-take fishing areas are a key component of effective MPAs. Research shows that MPAs that permit varying levels of fishing and other activities are less effective at achieving biodiversity than fully protected areas.

International best practices suggest MPA core no-take zones should encompass 75% of a given MPA. Canada is nowhere close to reaching that high bar. Remember, this is the international community looking at examples in countries around the world that say they have the most success when there is the establishment of large no-take zones within the MPAs. Again, it is a very small fraction of a country's economic zone in the ocean. We are talking about a small sliver of the ocean.

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, and those areas are tiny when compared to the overall MPAs. Canada should follow international examples and make no-take zones the rule rather than the exception when it comes to MPAs.

We believe that reconciliation should be a part of all legislation. Additional designations are welcome tools, but it does not make sense to exclude explicit recognition of indigenous rights in the Oceans Act. Given the implications of MPAs for indigenous constitutional rights, it is irresponsible. The federal government's commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and working in true nation-to-nation relationships with Canada's indigenous peoples, consistent with the Canadian Constitution, should be reflected in the Oceans Act.

Marine protected areas are an opportunity to forward the cause of reconciliation, but Bill C-55 fails to include specific provisions to accomplish this. There are already successful examples in Canada of co-management that the government could look to for inspiration. There is the co-management agreement between the Haida Nation on the west coast of Canada and the Government of Canada on the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, or Parks Canada's co-operative management model in the Arctic. Those are a couple of examples. Best practices should be the rule and not the exception.

There has been some discussion about going too far or not far enough. Let us remember, if we go back to 1992, when the international community came together, that Canada signed on to a commitment to protect 5%, and then 10% of our oceans. That was over 25 years ago. Therefore, when I hear the Conservatives say that this is going too fast, or that we are protecting too much, we have to look at the context and talk about how we are doing. It is only just recently that we have managed to surpass 5% protection, and many of those MPAs do not enjoy strong protection of things like no-take zones.

If we look from the perspective of where we are, many countries are much further ahead than Canada is. Given that they have done much more since 1992 to look at protection of their oceans, Canada has a long way to go. This is a move in the right direction. Consultation is critical. We need to get it right. I do not argue at all when it comes to taking the time to get it right, in terms of consulting, whether it is with territories, provinces, first nations, industry, or environmental organizations, those who are really concerned about our oceans and marine ecosystems, but at some point, we need to move forward with achieving the protection that is needed in order to provide a healthy, flourishing ocean.

The bottom line is that our oceans are in serious trouble. I remember reading a report back in 2012 from the United Nations top marine scientist, who pointed out that the major predators in our oceans are in steep decline. For instance, we are losing sharks at a phenomenal rate. Back then, I read that we are losing between 38 million and 70 million sharks a year.

The scientific knowledge has increased since 2012. Scientists are finding that up to 100 million sharks a year are being killed for their fins. Those predators play a key role in maintaining ecosystem balance. That is just one example of what is happening in our oceans.

When we look at marine ecosystem issues, we are swimming in oceans full of plastics. In some areas, it is microplastics. They are a huge problem. When we look at the issue of climate change, our oceans are changing rapidly. Ocean acidification is happening at an alarming rate.

These issues have to be dealt with. The world needs to come together. Canada needs to play its part. Protecting portions of the ocean in the exclusive economic zone is a way to do that. This is one tool in the toolbox. We need to do more. We need to move faster.

Again, I appreciate the comments about consultation, because it is critically important that all who have an interest in our oceans and ocean ecosystems are included in important decisions.

I hope the legislation moves forward. I hope the government listens to the amendments and the concerns. It hope it incorporates them to get this bill right, because that is what is needed. I hope that the Liberals listen to the NDP's thoughtful and optimistic comments about what we heard from many witnesses who testified, not just at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans but in general in writing to me over the years.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 7 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, this will be the second time that my speech is cut in half because of debate closure for the day and I have to continue the next day.

This will be my first debate without a prepared speech, so I will be taking a bit of time to pause to make sure my thoughts are coherent.

First, I want to talk about the timeline of what has taken place over the last year and a half on the study of marine protected areas and this legislation.

I looked at the mandate letter to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and I saw a comment there about protecting Canada's coastlines. This was also a Liberal promise. The Liberals did not make any commitments. They only made promises, which they continue to break. There was a promise in that mandate letter to protect Canada's coastlines.

In December 2016, I put forward a motion in the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans that the committee undertake a study to look at the criteria and the process for establishing marine protected areas in Canada, to determine whether the process that had been taking place was an efficient and effective way of doing things. As members have mentioned, it sometimes took seven to 10 years for a marine protected area to be established.

The committee finally started that study in April 2017. We travelled north to Inuvik, Paulatuk, and Tuktoyaktuk, and talked to people there. They have established MPAs that were put forward by the communities. Those MPAs are supported by the communities, and they have been very effective. We also travelled to Prince Rupert.

In the fall of 2017, we travelled to eastern Canada, and what we saw there was a totally different story. Marine protected areas were being proposed or established by government without any consultation with the local fishermen or the local communities that depended on access to the resources in those areas. There is the odd one that was proposed by the community, and it is working, but we saw opposition to the way this was being put forward. There was no good consultation with the fishermen, who felt that their livelihood, their families, their boats, and their communities were being put at risk by the imposition of government over them. We have seen this process play out over and over, particularly with this government, with its “trust us; government knows best” attitude.

We are getting into a really scary situation. We see it with the values test in the Canada summer jobs program. We see it with Service Canada not being able to refer to individuals as Mr. or Mrs., Sir or Madam. These are values tests being imposed by a government that says Canadians should trust it because it knows best. Canadians are concerned with that. I am concerned with that. My constituents are concerned with that.

Conservatives truly care about the environment. My background is in conservation. That is how I arrived in the House of Commons.

My first interest in politics showed up in the 1990s, when a former Liberal government introduced a long gun registry. I owned one older deer hunting firearm. I went to the local fish and game club and asked what I would have to do to comply with a government that thought it knew best.

An older gentleman in the club said that I should become a member. Not being one to sit back and keep my mouth shut, within a few months someone said I should become a director. A couple of years later, people said that I should become vice-president. I worked my way through that organization, through the regional branch of the BC Wildlife Federation, and eventually became president of the BC Wildlife Federation for two years.

In that time, I found conservationists and Conservatives hand in hand. They were firearms owners, guys working with boots in the streams, doing wild game counts, actual work on the ground for fish, wildlife, and habitat. We did not dream about locking it up. We thought about using it so we were getting something from those resources to put back into them.

What the Liberals are proposing, without consultation, is identifying huge swaths of the ocean and locking them up, doing this only in consideration of one previous year of traditional use or existing use. In our travel to eastern Canada, we heard from fishermen who were now fishing halibut in an area where there had not been halibut in five to seven years. If an MPA had been established there as a no-take area to protect the halibut, people would not be allowed to fish.

The government is proposing to draw lines on a map to protect an area when everything is changing. Fish move, water currents change. The government would protect an area through a space on a map and a line on a map without taking the time that had been taken in previous governments and in previous roles. Sometimes it was seven to 10 years. That is not a very fast process, but when they were done, they were done well and they worked. That should not change. If it takes that long to do something right, then do it. A slap-happy, push it forward, bulldoze it through method is not the right way to do things.

I will get back to the committee and the study it undertook on marine protected areas. That study has now been pushed back and delayed. It may never see the light of day because of the time allocation. The Liberals have called time allocation on Bill C-55, to amend the Oceans Act, which deals with marine protected areas. They are calling time allocation on Bill C-68, to amend the Fisheries Act. Both of those acts will have to come before the committee. The committee has not been able to wrap up its study on marine protected areas, so the Liberals are bulldozing, steamrolling over a committee process that was put in place. Now is it going to be totally ignored by a government that simply tell us to trust it because it know best. The Liberals do not want to hear about the consultation. They do not want to hear the testimony that concerned fishers and communities have put forward. Why?

Are they pushing back because we have asked for half an hour with the public safety adviser? I propose that may be the case, but that should not be the way government operates. Governments should listen to the people. In this case, the Liberals are shutting us down. We are not going to be able to finish our study at committee and make the recommendations to the government. I imagine there would have been a long series of recommendations from that study. We have a number of members on that committee from Atlantic Canada. I do not think they liked what they were hearing about the proposed process either. The previous process may not have been perfect, but the proposed process really concerned them the most. They were going to be shut out. They were going to be disallowed from their current areas of access and from their current process.

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.