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

Sponsor

Dominic LeBlanc  Liberal

Status

In committee (House), as of Oct. 17, 2017

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Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere

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

Votes

Oct. 17, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2017 / noon
See context

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Nickerson went on to say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—as the natural resources minister always does—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Burnaby North—Seymour B.C.

Liberal

Terry Beech LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Terry Beech Liberal Burnaby North—Seymour, BC

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us go to the west coast fishery. Jim McIsaac, managing director, BC Commercial Fishing Caucus says, “We need to engage stakeholders from the start, not bring stakeholders along at the end”,which is what the Liberal government is doing. “We need a place where we can sit down and set some of these overarching objectives. If we don't do that, it's just going to disintegrate into a mess.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the House

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

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

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.