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

Sponsor

Dominic LeBlanc  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere

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

Votes

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She continued:

Closing large areas to fishing off the west coast does little for biodiversity, little for conservation, little for the men and women up and down the coast who work in our sector and who...deserve access to local, sustainable...food.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Bonnett went on to point out:

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

He continued:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will turn to Bill C-55.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International best practices suggest MPA core no-take zones should encompass 75% of a given MPA. Canada is nowhere close to reaching that high bar....

Right now, the minister has the discretion to determine what activities are allowed in an MPA and how restrictive each zone in an MPA can be. So far, Canada's fisheries minister has implemented a no-take zone in only five MPAs [to date], and those areas are tiny when compared to the overall MPAs. Canada should follow international examples and make no-take zones the rule rather than the exception...[in] MPAs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Bankes writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Akeeagok writes:

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

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

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

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

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

As Professor Bankes put it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendation 1 states:

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

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

Recommendation 2 of the report states:

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

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

Recommendation 3 states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Governor in Council and the Minister shall not use lack of scientific certainty regarding the risks posed by any activity that may be carried out in certain areas of the sea as a reason to postpone or refrain from exercising their powers or performing their duties and functions under subsection 35(3) or 35.1(2).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendation 15 states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

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

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

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

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

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

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

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

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

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

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