An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.



This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


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

This enactment amends the Federal Sustainable Development Act to make decision making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.


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.


Jan. 29, 2019 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
June 4, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
May 31, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
May 31, 2018 Failed Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act (report stage amendment)
May 29, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
Oct. 19, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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Ottawa Centre Ontario


Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

moved that Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I will describe how our government is taking action to ensure that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand; our work with provinces, territories, indigenous peoples, and international partners to address climate change; and our support for the global 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals.

I will go on to discuss how Bill C-57 supports our strong commitment to sustainability and how it will contribute to more effective, inclusive, and accountable sustainable development strategies in the future.

Let me emphasize again the importance of discussing how Bill C-57 would support our strong commitment to sustainability as well as how the proposed changes would contribute to more effective, inclusive, and accountable sustainable development strategies in the future.

First, I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. The committee's unanimous second report, “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”, provided thoughtful recommendations that were the foundation of the bill.

I would also like to congratulate the members of the committee for their work in considering and amending Bill C-57 and for taking part in fruitful discussions and debate. Their efforts resulted in a number of improvements to the bill, which I will be discussing today.

Of course, I would like to again recognize the hon. John Godfrey, former member of Parliament for Don Valley West and sponsor of the original private member's bill that became the Federal Sustainable Development Act. His vision and leadership gave rise to the current federal sustainability approach we are seeking to build on and enhance through the bill.

Bill C-57 is about advancing sustainable development in Canada. I have noted before in the House, and I will continue to emphasize, that advancing sustainable development is a priority for our government. Canadians have said that they want a sustainable future for Canada. We have always maintained that a clean environment and a strong economy can and must go hand in hand in the modern world. We also know that the well-being of Canada's future generations depend on it.

As part of the global community, we are all facing serious challenges, including the continued threat of global climate change. Here in Canada, we are already experiencing the effects of a warming planet from wildfires that rage longer and harsher than ever before, to thinning sea ice in the Arctic, to rising sea levels that threaten communities from coast to coast to coast, to unprecedented flooding, something we experienced first-hand here in the Ottawa-Gatineau area about this time last year.

Action is needed, and we are responding together with our partners in Canada and around the world. Our government is committed to supporting the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the global framework to eliminate poverty, fight inequality, and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. As the Prime Minister said in his recent address to the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly, we are committed to implementing the 2030 agenda’s sustainable development goals at home while we work with our international partners to achieve them around the world.

The federal sustainable development strategy demonstrates our commitment to the 2030 agenda, with 13 aspirational goals that are a Canadian reflection of the global sustainable development goals. The federal strategy's specific, medium-term targets, short-term milestones, and actions show how we will implement the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’s environmental dimensions.

The amendments to the act would support future federal sustainable development strategies that would continue to align their goals and reporting with the 2030 agenda, ensuring that Canadians would have a thorough view of our sustainable development priorities and our accompanying national actions to advance the 2030 agenda.

Tackling climate change, the most pressing challenge of our time, is an important part of the 2030 agenda and is a priority for our government. Transitioning to a low-carbon economy is critical if we want to ensure a good quality of life for our children and grandchildren. Inaction is not an option.

Recognizing this, our government ratified the historic Paris agreement in October 2016 and worked with provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples to develop the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, Canada's comprehensive plan to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy, accelerate clean growth, and build resilience to climate impacts.

Implementation of the framework is now well under way, with good progress already achieved on measures such as phasing out coal-fired power generation by 2030, developing regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, and introducing a clean fuel standard.

This past June, our government launched the $2-billion low-carbon economy fund to support projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are also working with provinces and territories to ensure that carbon pricing applies across Canada, including by developing a federal carbon pricing backstop system.

We also continue to work with our international partners to advance global action on climate change. Most recently, at the recent 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Canada became a founding member of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which includes national and subnational governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations focused on accelerating clean growth and climate protection through the rapid phase-out of traditional coal power.

This past November, Canada also became one of the first countries in the world to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This amendment will phase down hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are powerful greenhouse gases. In support of our commitment to the Kigali Amendment as well as our made-in-Canada climate plan, we have published regulations to reduce HFC consumption in Canada by 85% by 2036.

We are also taking action to protect Canada's lands, coasts, and oceans. We are engaging coastal communities, stakeholders, and all four orders of government as we implement our oceans protection plan. As part of this plan, we introduced legislation in May to formalize the moratorium on crude-oil tanker traffic on British Columbia's north coast. We have also achieved our commitment to protect five per cent of Canada's marine and coastal areas by 2017, and we remain committed to protecting 10% by 2020.

In August, the federal government, Nunavut, and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association announced the official boundary for a new national marine conservation area in Tallurutiup Imanga, Lancaster Sound, which will be the biggest protected area ever established in Canada.

We are continuing to conserve and connect Canada's lands, lakes, and rivers. With the Government of Alberta, we are leading a process to meet our target of 17% of terrestrial areas and inland waters conserved by 2030. This includes gathering advice from a broad range of stakeholders through the National Advisory Panel and the Indigenous Circle of Experts.

It is clear that we are taking effective action to realize our vision of a clean environment, a strong economy, and a better quality of life for Canadians. Much is being done, but more progress is needed to meet the challenge of sustainable development and to take advantage of its opportunities.

That brings me back to Bill C-57. This bill would make important improvements to the sustainability approach in the 2008 Federal Sustainable Development Act, particularly in the areas that require the government to prepare and report on sustainable development strategies. It would make these strategies more accountable and inclusive, thereby making them more effective. This would help to hasten our progress toward a more sustainable Canada, something I am sure we all support.

I would now like to take this opportunity to share the specific amendments proposed in Bill C-57. First, the bill proposes a new purpose, which clarifies that the focus of the act and the federal sustainable development strategy would be sustainable development, not strictly related to the environment. It would shift the act's focus from planning and reporting to driving action and improving Canadians' quality of life, and it would specify that the federal sustainable development strategy must respect Canada's domestic and international obligations.

Bill C-57 also adds principles to the act to guide our whole-of-government strategy, as well as the strategies of individual federal departments and agencies. These include, for example, the principle of intergenerational equity, which is absolutely foundational to the concept of sustainable development. The current act requires individual departments to prepare their own strategies that are in line with their mandates and that comply with and contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy.

Under Bill C-57, more than 90 federal organizations, up from 26 today, will work in a collaborative and coordinated way toward common objectives.

The bill would also reinforce our government’s commitment to an inclusive sustainability approach by strengthening the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. It would double representation of indigenous peoples on the council from three members to six, and would provide the council with a clear mandate to advise me on sustainable development.

Finally, and most critically, it would strengthen the government's accountability for achieving concrete and meaningful sustainable development results. Part of the recommendations would shift the focus in the Federal Sustainable Development Act from planning and reporting to results. This is extremely important. We want to see results. We need to show that government departments understand the importance of sustainable development. One way to do that is to have strong targets, measurable targets, targets that have a clear time frame for their achievement.

Bill C-57 would ensure that future strategies would continue to have a focus on results and would increase the accountability of departments and agencies in setting and achieving ambitious sustainable development targets. This would enable Canadians to closely track whether the government was meeting its commitments.

Parliamentarians have an essential role to play in holding the government to account for sustainable development results. Bill C-57 would support and strengthen this role. Building on the requirements of the current act, it would ensure that federal organizations report each year to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, and the equivalent committee of the Senate, on actions taken to meet their commitments and the results achieved.

Also, recognizing the crucial role of parliamentarians, Bill C-57 would provide for a permanent review of the act by a parliamentary committee. The review would be carried out every five years, further strengthening accountability and supporting continuous improvement of the act and its implementation over time.

I want to acknowledge that as well as providing the foundation for this bill through its unanimous report, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development strengthened it by studying the bill and proposing thoughtful amendments. I want to thank all the committee members for their contributions. Good ideas from all sides were considered, debated, and discussed.

While all the amendments accepted by the committee resulted in important changes to the bill, I would like to highlight a few in particular that would contribute to the government's sustainable development approach. First, the committee accepted an amendment proposed by the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands that added a new principle to Bill C-57. This principle tells us that sustainable development is an evolving concept. It clarifies that achieving sustainable development means protecting our environment, but it also means protecting health, promoting equity, conserving cultural heritage, respecting our domestic and international obligations, and recognizing our responsibility to future generations. Our government will look to this principle to develop strategies that go beyond environmental issues to address sustainable development as a whole and to draw on well-accepted approaches to promoting sustainability, such as applying the precautionary principle.

Public consultations are already an essential part of the current act. Comments from indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and the public shaped our current federal sustainable development strategy, leading to more measurable and ambitious targets, and a stronger focus on supporting the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

With the committee’s amendments, all federal organizations would take these comments into account as they prepare their own sustainable development strategies.

Finally, other amendments, including those proposed by the hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington, would help focus the act on sustainable development as a whole rather than on the environment alone. One, for example, specifies that Treasury Board’s role includes establishing policies and issuing directives related to the sustainable development impacts of government operations and not just environmental impacts.

Taking into account these improvements, how would Bill C-57 support greater progress towards our vision for sustainable development in Canada? Quite simply, it would be through better sustainable development strategies that focus on results and reflect the priorities of Canadians and by ensuring that the government set clear and measurable sustainability targets and could be held accountable for achieving them.

I want to highlight in particular the impact of the new principles proposed in Bill C-57, particularly given the improvements made at committee. Principles are at the core of Bill C-57, defining our values and aspirations for sustainable development strategies. The bill would ensure that government considers principles such as intergenerational equity, collaboration, and results and delivery when preparing strategies. The new principle would provide clarity on the nature and scope of sustainable development, and approaches the government should consider in working toward sustainability goals and targets. Under an amended act, future strategies will clearly demonstrate to Canadians how our commitments and actions reflect these core principles.

This means that future strategies will benefit from a clear, shared understanding of the breadth of actions that contribute to achieving sustainable development and to protecting the environment, as well as protecting health, promoting equity, and conserving cultural heritage.

Future strategies will also continue to benefit from engagement with indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians. We saw the importance of this in the development of the current federal sustainable development strategy. Comments received through public consultations helped make our plan more aspirational, measurable, and inclusive.

Bill C-57, including the amendments made at committee, would build on this important component of the government’s sustainability approach. It would better enable indigenous peoples to play a strong role in guiding our sustainable development strategies and actions, including by increasing their representation on the Sustainable Development Advisory Council.

It would also enable me to engage more effectively with my council, including meeting with its members in person, something that has never been possible before. By specifying that the council's mandate includes advising me on matters related to sustainable development, it would address a clear gap in the current act.

All these measures would help ensure that our strategies, both the overarching federal sustainable development strategy and strategies of individual federal organizations, reflect the priorities of indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians. In particular, it would ensure that the unique perspectives of indigenous peoples are heard and taken into account.

However, strategies matter only if the government can be held accountable for results. That is why Bill C-57 would strengthen accountability under the Federal Sustainable Development Act. In requiring all federal sustainable development strategy goals to be measurable and include a time frame, the bill would ensure that Canadians are fully aware of what the government has committed to achieve and whether those commitments are being met.

With a new requirement for federal departments and agencies to report each year on how they are implementing their strategies and the results achieved, parliamentarians and all Canadians will be able to closely track the government's sustainable development progress and hold the government to account.

In conclusion, Bill C-57 reinforces our government's commitment to put sustainable development and the environment at the forefront of government thinking and decision-making. We believe it is a very important step that we need to take in order to ensure that we make decisions about a sustainable future in Canada, focusing on results and increasing the accountability of departments and agencies for setting and achieving ambitious sustainable development targets.

The bill supports modernizing the Federal Sustainable Development Act and incorporating into legislation our government's strong focus on results. The bill also promotes close collaboration and coordinated action across government through a whole-of-government approach. In short, this legislation would move us from planning and consulting on sustainable development to achieving and reporting on results.

I would like to once again thank the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their ideas, commitment, and collaboration.

I encourage all my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:25 a.m.
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Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my counterpart for his question.

Clearly, we are going to see improvements thanks to Bill C-57, since it is a very results-based bill.

I want to once again thank the committee for its thoughtful suggestions with regard to the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Canadians want Canada to have a sustainable future. This bill clearly demonstrates that sustainable development and the environment are at the forefront of the government's thinking and future decisions. Thanks to the committee's recommendations, the sustainable development bar for Canada has been raised. We took into account all of the committee's recommendations. I think that will significantly improve the bill and we will see results.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:25 a.m.
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Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the Minister of Environment and Climate Change for bringing forward for discussion Bill C-57, including the recommendations from the committee.

I had a conversation this morning with one of my constituents, who was concerned about methane emissions in agriculture and whether these are included in our sustainability goals. I mentioned a sustainable agriculture study that I was part of, which we just completed on the agriculture committee. The minister mentioned CH4 in her presentation on methane in the oil and gas industry. Could she maybe expand on the importance of controlling and reducing methane emissions, to address my constituent's concerns?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, we are here to focus on Bill C-57, regarding sustainable development, but I will always stand up for our government's broader agenda, which is making key investments that actually are about the future. These investments are in public transportation, for example, historic investments. When it comes to investments in the light rail transit here in Ottawa, this is going to be the largest reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the city's history, and it is also going to be awesome for families. People can get home faster, with less pollution. That is what people want.

We understand that inaction on climate change is a tax on future generations. I wish the party opposite would understand that. If we do not take action now, we are going to pay. We are paying the consequences now. We have seen historic floods, droughts, forest fires. Prince Edward Island is shrinking by 43 centimetres a year. We need to take action on climate change while growing our economy, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

Today we are debating Bill C-57. I hope that I can count on the NDP's support. I think I can. We do have a plan for climate change. The previous government did nothing for 10 years to address climate change, but we negotiated a plan. It took us a year to negotiate with the provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, and all Canadians. In this plan we looked at how we can combat greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, including the oil sector. We will continue with our plan and we will make sure that we meet our international targets.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today in the House to speak to C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

For those who are not familiar with this piece of proposed legislation and what it is trying to do, it would provide a legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy that would make government's environmental, economic, and social decision-making more accountable to Parliament.

The bill proposes to expand the Federal Sustainable Development Act by enabling a whole-of-government approach, with mandatory and expanded reporting requirements and new enforcement measures. These amendments partly stem from the unanimous 2016 report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development entitled “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”. That report recommended a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development projects. As the minister has previously indicated, it was a unanimous report by the committee, with recommendations to try to move us forward on this topic of sustainable development.

However, it is important when we are trying to move forward on something that we understand what it is. Therefore, I will read the definition of sustainable development:

Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. The desired result is a state of society where living conditions and resource use continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural system. Sustainable development can be classified as development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.

There are a few important things in this definition. I want to highlight the first part that talks about having goals. It is important to have goals when we are trying to achieve sustainable development. The second part that is really important to me is where it says that we should meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations. I will highlight a few areas that could be of concern in this regard.

If, as I said, we need goals for sustainable development, what are the goals of the Liberal government here?

We have all heard countless times that the environment and economy go hand in hand. It is obviously a goal of the government to see this become a reality in the country. We also know that the government is keen to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If those are the goals, it is important to look at them.

First, let us talk about the Auditor General's report, because the Auditor General looked look at what the government is doing and has commented on its progress. Here we are about 65% through this current parliamentary session, but, unfortunately, the Auditor General's report is not very flattering about what is happening with the environment minister. The report talks about the progress that should have been made in reducing greenhouse gases. Members will remember that the Liberal government boasted in the last election that it was the only party that could address Canada's climate change challenges. However, after two years, the Auditor General gave it an F, a failing grade. His report reads:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...the measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions contained in this plan had yet to be implemented.

Therefore, two-thirds of the way through the government's mandate, these recommendations have yet to be implemented.

The Auditor General's report went on to say:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...did not make progress toward meeting Canada’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The report says that no progress has been made. It does not say that there was insufficient progress.

In the meantime, the one thing the minister and her government did was impose a massive carbon tax on Canadians, resulting in impacts that we will see for generations. Even so, the Auditor General still concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada had not provided adequate leadership to advance the federal government's adaptation to climate change impacts.

The progress made is nothing, and the Liberals have not implemented a plan. Therefore, that is not going very well.

Let us take a look at how he economy going. During the two-thirds of the mandate in which the Liberals have been in charge, $80 billion of investment have left Canada in the energy sector, 100,000 energy workers have lost their jobs, 400,000 forestry workers have been impacted by the government's inaction on the softwood lumber file, and who knows what the impacts will be from the most recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminium, which are huge industries in Canada.

In addition, there is the whole Kinder Morgan pipeline fiasco. The government has stepped in and spent $4.5 billion of taxpayer money to buy 65-year-old assets that will not build one inch of new pipeline. Instead of encouraging private investment in the country, which Kinder Morgan planned to do by spending billions of dollars and creating thousands of Canadian jobs, the government has given Kinder Morgan money to take to the U.S. and create jobs there. We are not creating those jobs here in Canada. There is no evidence that the government has addressed any of the conditions required to keep the NDP from protesting against the pipelines, the B.C. government from opposing this, and getting the licence from the indigenous people to move forward on this.

That is one part of the economy.

The other part of the economy is the deficit. Starting with a $10 billion deficit, the promise the Liberals ran on in the 2015 election, all of a sudden the deficit in the first year was twice that. The second year was twice that. Now in this third year, it is three times that, with no end in sight. The Liberals will not be returning to a balanced budget within its mandate. Projections are that they will not be returning to balance until 2045. The Liberals have added $1.5 trillion to the deficit. This is ridiculous.

The principles of sustainable development say that we want to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations. However, future generations will have to pay for the debt that the government has racked up. I did simple math yesterday to try to figure out what that would look like. It looks like every taxpayer in Canada will pay $5,000 right off the top, just for the interest on the debt being accumulated by the government.

This spending pattern is definitely not sustainable development, and it is not helping the economy. People are losing confidence in the Canadian economy, not the other way around.

Worse, environmental regulations have been put in place that lengthen the approval process, that create uncertainty in the approval process and drive investments out of Canada. Under the Liberal government, the energy east project was withdrawn by the private investor. The Petronas LNG project went the same route. The government arbitrarily decided that the northern gateway project was not to be built. Investors in other countries looking at Canada are not going to be inspired to think that development is sustainable or even achievable here. The government needs to do something to change that climate.

As members knows, I am not one to just criticize without making helpful suggestions. I do have some helpful suggestions at which the government should look.

First, let us talk about the climate change plan. Canada makes up about 2% of the carbon footprint of the world. We could eliminate the whole thing and it really would not make a big difference in addressing climate change. However, we do have some things that we can do.

If we could help other countries, such as China, India, Europe, and the U.S., reduce their footprints, and those four areas are 60% of the carbon footprint of the world, we would actually do something to help climate change. How could we do that?

We have technology and resources that we could bring to bear. If we can get the oil to the coasts and sell it to China, India, Korea, and places like that in the world that want to purchase our oil, they could get off coal. That is a huge advance in reducing the carbon footprint in the world. In addition, Canada is very well known for our renewable technology. My riding of Sarnia—Lambton has one of the largest solar farms in North America. We have wind power. We have a whole bio-innovation centre devoted to coming up with new innovations to cleverly create power in the world.

There are a couple of ideas. One of them is a vortex machine that could be used in places that have warm sea water, using the warm sea water to create power and energy. This is excellent technology. If members are not familiar with it, they should look up Lambton College and Bio-Innovation Centre in Sarnia—Lambton and take a look at that technology.

However, there is other technology such as carbon sequestration. Canadians are known around the globe for this. Leveraging that technology would also do a lot to help the world reduce its carbon footprint, which is important. Some things are in our control and others are outside of our control.

The volcano in Hawaii within a few short days will put out more carbon footprint than almost all of the entire planet. Those types of things we cannot control. Forest fires are the same. The number of forest fires in North America every year totally undoes all the work we try to do in carbon footprint reduction, so we need to have a plan for that.

The other thing the government needs to consider with respect to climate change is having a plan to address the impacts of climate change. Canada has seen an increase in flooding, for example. We had severe flooding in Calgary, in Winnipeg, in Toronto, and in the Atlantic provinces. We have seen forest fires in B.C. unlike anything we have seen before.

Disaster relief for these things takes money. There are issues that can be predicted. The permafrost, for example, as it is melting in the north, impacts on the infrastructure like roads and highways. Where is the government's plan to address this and where are the contingencies for these types of things? The government needs to do something on that.

With respect to the economy and ensuring that the environment and the economy go hand in hand, the Liberals need to look at how they are creating a climate for business investment in Canada. I would suggest they look to our neighbours to the south. They are lowering corporate taxes. They do not have a carbon tax everywhere but California. They are reducing the regulatory burden instead of putting in additional processes that add time, bureaucracy, costs, and uncertainty to the project. They should look at those situations and try to create a competitive environment in Canada.

Canada can compete. We have great talent and great resources. However, if we do not create a climate where investors want to come here to do business and feel certain they can, then we will lose out.

We cannot put all of our eggs in one basket, so the government needs to think more broadly about sustainable development than just climate change. We need to pay attention to a number of issues in Canada, but I do not feel they are receiving adequate attention today.

In the west the pine beetles are eating our forests. That is one of our great natural resources. It drives industry and jobs in Canada as well, not to mention the fact that it absorbs carbon dioxide. We need to address that crisis.

The algae bloom issue in Lake Erie needs to be addressed. I know plans are in place and people are working with the agriculture industry and others to try to reduce phosphorus loading, but more needs to be done.

Our agriculture industry is another area. It is very important not just to sustain the industry so all of us can eat, but also so we can grow things that will help us with a carbon sink. The agriculture industry is under attack in Canada. The government is putting regulations on this industry to ban pesticides, without replacement, but it is allowing people to ship food grown with those same pesticides into the country. This is another area where Canada is not competitive.

With respect to raising livestock, the government is currently introducing something to eliminate the selling of feed with antibiotics premixed in it. That is given to animals that are sick; it is not given wholeheartedly to all animals. It is another example of people in other countries being able to raise their animals in a way that is more competitive and ship those products here.

I could go on about the water issue in Canada, another one of our great natural resources. I am terribly disappointed in the government's progress on eliminating boil water advisories across the country.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to resume my speech on C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

To give a brief recap, for those who may have missed my beginning remarks, the bill is about putting a framework in place for the government to ensure that all government activities keep sustainable development in mind. In fact, it will be extended to 90 departments of the government, with reporting back to Parliament.

To make sure everyone understands what sustainable development is, I reviewed the definition. The important parts of sustainable development are having goals and making sure that development “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations”.

I then went into a review of what the government's goals are. We have heard repeatedly that the environment and the economy go hand in hand and that the government has an agenda to address climate change. We were able to review the Auditor General's comments on how that is going. The Auditor General, unfortunately, did not have very good things to say about progress on climate change under the current government. The Auditor General concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada's measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions contained in the framework had yet to be implemented. Here we are two-thirds of the way through their mandate, and the Liberals have not even implemented that.

The Auditor General's report also said that there has been no progress. It concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada “did not provide adequate leadership to advance the federal government's adaptation to climate change impacts.”

That is on top of the fact that we cannot get a straight answer from the minister with respect to the greenhouse gas emissions reductions her plan, which we have not seen, and it does not look like the Auditor General has either, will make. Therefore, that is not going very well.

In terms of the economy, $80 billion has left the energy sector, and about 100,000 energy sector jobs have been sacrificed. We also see the forestry industry impacted by the government's lack of action on softwood lumber. Of course, now we have the steel and aluminum tariffs, the elimination of the private investment of Kinder Morgan, and the cancelling of multiple projects. There is concern, as well, about the economy.

I then went on to briefly detail the debt the government is racking up with its out-of-control spending. I really think that goes against the principle of sustainable development, which says that we are going to meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations”. This debt is definitely going to be paid for by future generations, and I think the government needs to get that under control.

That said, I have many helpful suggestions on what the government ought to be doing with respect to climate change in the world. Canada, of course, has less than 2% of the world's carbon footprint. In terms of what we can do, we actually have a lot of technology to reduce our carbon footprint, such as carbon sequestration and some of the other green technology we have. We really should be leveraging these technologies to other countries in the world, such as China, India, Europe, and the United States, which make up about 60% of the carbon footprint.

I then went on to talk about some things we had better prepare for, because we have seen a lot of flooding, definite changes in the permafrost, and forest fires that are larger than ever. The government needs to have a contingency plan on how it is going to address that.

Comparing the record of the current government to the previous Conservative government, we reduced emissions, reduced taxes, and grew the economy at the same time. I think we have shown that we can do it successfully. Therefore, I would encourage the government to move along on that.

On water, which is where I was when we paused, the Great Lakes are being remediated and need some of the $80 million that has been allocated to pay attention to that.

That said, I am pleased that the committee's report was unanimous. I am pleased that the amendments that were brought were thoughtful, and we will be supporting Bill C-57.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, the constituents in Guelph are really excited about the developments in Sarnia. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has been telling us about Suncor's St. Clair ethanol plant and the opportunities it brings farmers for carbon credits under the Government of Ontario's carbon credit program. The member mentioned Bio-Industrial Park Sarnia. Guelph has a net-zero water treatment plant and is using some of the technologies Sarnia is using.

I am excited to see the clean-tech opportunities and other opportunities we can share through Bill C-57 in terms of greening our government operations. It might help us achieve the climate change goals we have together. The benefit for our communities, for our province, and for our country is something we can share between Guelph and Sarnia.

Could the hon. member talk about the great clean-tech developments in Sarnia and how Bill C-57 might enhance the development of these types of solutions?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-57, which amends the Federal Sustainability Act. This is a very important issue, which I will get to in a little bit.

I want to start by saying that it is unfortunate and disgusting that we are once again under a gag order as we debate issues that are so very important not only to us as a society, but also to the future of our planet. Once again, the government is limiting the amount of time we have for debate. It is preventing parliamentarians from debating and improving this bill, to ensure that we have a strong plan for sustainable development. the Liberals are once again breaking a clear promise they made during the election campaign. They are limiting debate times, imposing a gag order on members of Parliament, and not giving us enough time to have a serious debate. Today is Friday, and this is the fifth time this week alone that the Liberals have moved a time allocation motion. For those who are not familiar with the jargon, a time allocation motion means that the government is imposing a gag order a limiting the amount of time for debate.

I think that topics like sustainable development, the United Nations goals, and global warming should be taken seriously by the Liberal government. It should give us enough time to have a thorough, honest debate on this bill, so that we can address all of the details.

It is so important that I am personally convinced, and many of my colleagues here share my opinion, that the environmental issues, the protection of biodiversity, and the fight against climate change are truly the challenge of our generation.

Our children and grandchildren will judge us on our ability to deal with these challenges, our ability to ensure that we maintain a healthy environment, and our ability to prevent global temperatures from increasing by more than 2%, since that could have catastrophic consequences. I do not say that lightly. It has been scientifically proven that the earth's temperature is rising. It has also been proven that the actions of human societies, including our production and consumption activities, are mainly responsible for global warming. Our actions and our decisions are causing global warming and there are many consequences to that, including what is known as extreme weather. In some places, it is much hotter than it used to be, while in others it is much colder. On average, it is much hotter, and there has been an increase in the number and intensity of so-called natural disasters. That means there have been more floods, droughts, forest fires, and hurricanes, and those hurricanes are stronger and cause more damage. We have already seen this sort of thing in Canada. It has been documented and there are reports on the subject. Extreme weather and natural disasters are costing us more and more.

We often hear about cost, about putting a price on pollution and the cost of making greener, more environmentally responsible choices. However, I want to make it clear that there is also a cost to doing nothing and sitting on our hands while disasters break out all around us. This is not just a financial or economic issue, it is a human issue.

I would remind everyone here that former U.S. vice-president Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental advocacy and actions. Why did the Nobel committee decide to award a Nobel Peace Peace to someone who works on environmental and sustainable development issues? There does not seem to be a link, but in fact, there is one. In addition to extreme weather, we are now going to start seeing climate migrants. Mr. Gore was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize because it is a well-known fact that drastically higher temperatures in certain regions, deforestation, and lack of access to water will cause population displacement around the globe and turn millions of people into climate migrants.

Environmental migration can lead to conflict, even armed conflict. That is why the folks at the Nobel committee decided to recognize Al Gore on his work a number of years ago and issued a statement saying that preventing global warming might get us just a bit closer to world peace.

Global warming also has an impact on our ecosystems here. One of our colleagues from northern Canada, the author of Bill C-262, noted that Quebec's far north now has species of birds and insects that it did not have before and that can trigger dangerous changes in the balance of certain ecosystems. Even in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, where there are not that many ecosystems, we were forced to cut down dozens of trees because of the ash borer, an insect that did not previously exist back home. Climate change has caused the ash borer to migrate north and now it is attacking the trees.

I was talking to a winemaker in the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé recently. He says climate change could affect wine production in Quebec because of a vine-destroying insect called phylloxera native to France and Europe. Phylloxera cannot survive our winters, but that could change as our winters warm and we get periods of milder weather. It may begin to attack our vines. Periods of milder weather have other significant impacts, too. For example, if there is a major thaw in January, the vines think spring has come and start to bud, then they freeze and die for the rest of the season.

I wanted to share those details with the House, but I will now turn to a situation happening a long way from home. This morning on Radio-Canada, I had a chance to listen to an interview with documentary filmmaker Matthieu Rytz, who directed a documentary called Anote's Ark. Anote is the leader of a small nation, a unique population living on Kiribati, an atoll in the middle of the Pacific.

Like many other Pacific atolls, their island is only about a metre above sea level, and sea level is already rising. If we do not meet our Paris Agreement targets and slow down global warming, the glaciers at the North and South poles will melt, causing the sea level to rise everywhere. For the people of Kiribati, it is almost too late already.

There are other countries where we hope to avert disasters. I am thinking in particular of Bangladesh, which is already below sea level, but which may have more resources to protect its coastline. The Netherlands and Holland already have an entire infrastructure for that, but the people of Kiribati do not. It is most unfortunate.

The documentary is called Anote's Ark because all these people plan on leaving. They are looking for somewhere else to live. They may move to Fiji, for example. They are already in negotiations to relocate to other countries. It is so tragic. Their entire way of life will disappear. It could also lead to complications and tension.

The climate migrants I mentioned earlier are a clear and typical example of the fact that this phenomenon will grow. If they are moved to another country, will a state be created within the host country, or will they simply be assimilated into the existing population? These are serious issues. What can we do to prevent this cultural diversity from disappearing? Biological diversity is important, but so is cultural diversity. We see the type of problems that this will cause.

Before I go into the specifics of the bill, I want to point out that the Liberal government promised to put an end to oil subsidies. After two and a half years in power, it has done absolutely nothing about this. On the contrary, I believe it has just handed out the largest oil subsidy in Canada's history by writing a $4.5-billion cheque to a U.S. company to purchase a 65-year-old pipeline that is leaking, by the way.

However, Canada pledged to participate in an accountability process adopted by the G7 and G20 to track each country's progress in reducing and gradually phasing out oil subsidies. We have received an invitation. We have already been invited to pair up with Argentina to examine each other's actions and decisions to see if we are serious and making progress. What is absolutely incomprehensible is quite simply that the Liberal government did not even respond to Argentina's invitation. Argentina is still waiting for Canada to say that it wants to partner up. As they say in Argentina, it takes two to tango, but Canada is refusing to get on the dance floor.

More specifically, we have a government that, once again, is saying one thing but doing the opposite. The oil subsidies are a blatant example. It is sad. I would like to quote a report from the environment commissioner that clearly states that this government is not going in the right direction and that it will likely fall well short of meeting the weak targets it has set, where it even set any, that is. That is another problem. It is unfortunate that, despite the Liberals' campaign promises, they set exactly the same greenhouse gas reduction targets as the previous government and kept the very same game plan, and yet it seems Canada will not even meet those targets.

I would like to quote the environment commissioner's report directly. It reads:

On the basis of current federal [and] provincial...policies and actions, Canada is not expected to meet its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting Canada’s 2030 target will require substantial effort and actions beyond those currently planned or in place.

It seems pretty clear to me that we are going to miss the boat. We are going to miss the boat on what is probably the greatest challenge of this Parliament, this government, at a time when it should be leading the way and making tough decisions. It is not only the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development who is saying so. The United Nations and the OECD share the same concerns and have said that Canada will not reach its targets for 2020 or 2030. There is nothing to be proud of or to brag about here. Giving great speeches in Germany, in New York, and at the UN is all well and good, but if the government is not willing to walk the talk, there is no point. It is nothing but hot air, nothing but words, as Dalida would have said.

As for the Federal Sustainable Development Act specifically and the fact that Canada has officially committed to achieving the United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals, once again, a report released in April by the Commissioner on Environment and Sustainable Development sounded the alarm that we are not on track to achieve them. One of the federal government's major commitments to the UN is likely to remain mere empty rhetoric if Ottawa does not take meaningful action to honour those commitments.

At a news conference in April, Julie Gelfand said that it is always worrisome when a government says that it will do something and does not do it. In one of her three annual reports, she noted that Canada is not on track to meet the 17 sustainable development goals it has promised to implement on two separate occasions since 2015. The Prime Minister himself reiterated this promise when he appeared before the UN General Assembly in September 2017.

However, five departments responsible for implementing these goals by 2030 still have no targets and no system for monitoring progress. This is absolutely ridiculous. Ms. Gelfand also noted that there is no framework for coordinating these efforts at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Status of Women Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. It is unreal.

We are not on track to meet the goals and will not fulfill our international commitments, and the departments are so inept that they cannot establish targets or tracking systems themselves. Furthermore, one of these departments is the Department of the Environment. What a terrible message. What a joke. This is why the government's credibility on the environment leaves a lot to be desired, in spite of all their fine words.

Bill C-57 makes a few small changes, but it is still not enough. We are missing the boat. I will come back to this if I have any time left, but this bill is basically a copy of Bill C-474, which was introduced by Liberal Party member John Godfrey and passed in 2008. The overall framework of the bill before us is extremely weak. What I am about to say may seem a bit technical, but rather than give the government an incentive to achieve a series of sustainable development targets based on certain principles, Bill C-57 merely sets out a legal framework for developing a strategy.

That means that, once again, a framework will be created, consultations will be held, and everyone will talk about big ideas for this strategy. In the meantime, however, the concept of setting targets and figuring out how to meet them has fallen by the wayside even though those steps are key if we want to take this seriously and make things happen. Instead, they are building castles in the air, ignoring the targets, and pretending what they are doing will be good enough. We think this is a missed opportunity that could have been used to achieve so much more.

Initially, the bill introduced and passed in 2008 proposed establishing an independent commissioner position to act as an environmental auditor general, which we currently do not have. There is no one who is entirely independent to oversee, as an auditor general does, what the government is doing on the environment. Regrettably, instead of creating that position, the bill aims simply to create a sustainable development office at Environment and Climate Change Canada, but without any real plan. Thus, the person responsible for monitoring progress on achieving the objectives will be part of the same organization that should already be tracking it anyway. I would not put a fox in charge of the henhouse. This is laughable.

Basically, we see a few steps in the right direction, but we think it is unfortunate that the Liberals did not act on all the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, despite what the minister said earlier today.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
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Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who always conjures up images to illustrate the contradictions and absurdity of the Liberals' decisions on climate change.

The Minister of Environment rose today to say that Bill C-57 would establish measurable plans, improved accountability, ambitious targets, and annual progress reports. However, reports prepared by the Commissioner of the Environment clearly indicate that five departments, including the Department of the Environment, have no plan and no system for monitoring progress.

How can the minister look herself in the mirror and rise in the House to speak about climate change and sustainable development when her own department has no plan and no reporting system? That is an insult to future generations, which will have to live with the consequences of this pollution and the lack of a plan. It has already been said that inaction on climate change costs millions of dollars.

Could my colleague perhaps explain what we should do, as a G7 country, to elevate the debate on climate change?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to split my time with my colleague, the member for Ottawa South.

I am proud today to speak to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which is a really important step toward realizing this government's vision that Canada become one of the greenest countries in the world and that the quality of life of Canadians across the country continue to improve.

In our second report, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development worked really hard across the aisle, all parties together, to produce a report entitled “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”. It was made clear in the report that reforms needed to be made to this law, and that is what Bill C-57 is all about.

As I am going to explain, the amendments in the bill, in particular to the purpose of the act, clearly show that sustainable development and environment are at the forefront of our thinking and our government's decision-making as we move forward.

First, I would like to acknowledge the considerable efforts of my colleagues on that committee, Liberal, Conservative, and NDP. The efforts were really collegial. It was my first experience working on a committee project and it was a very positive one.

I would also like to thank the witnesses who came before the committee, many of whom had deep expertise in this area and had committed their lives to the issue of sustainable development, both domestically and internationally. Ultimately what they helped us achieve was a unanimous report that provided insight and recommendations that were instrumental in helping shape the amendments that we now see in Bill C-57.

I want to acknowledge in particular the contributions of the hon. John Godfrey, who is now special advisor to the Ontario government on climate change. It was John Godfrey who brought forward the original private member's bill that became the Federal Sustainable Development Act during a minority government and established the foundation for federal sustainable development strategies that are brought together by each department.

I want to start by saying that this is about shifting toward a government culture that is reflective of the transparency and accountability that Canadians have come to expect of their governments.

In terms of the strategy that has been developed for 2016-19, there have been improvements every single time a strategy has been brought forward; but with this one in particular, it has become a lot better. It has set the government on a path that it will follow for the next three years with a vision for sustainability, not just across Canada, one that is more ambitious and more aspirational than past strategies, but also with more specific targets. It incorporates more social and economic dimensions and includes a wider range of departments and agencies.

That is one of the reasons we have had so much more public engagement for the 2016-19 strategy, which we consulted about for several months. There were over 540 comments delivered to the government on it.

Bill C-57 sets the stage for the future strategies that will be brought forward by different departments and agencies and crown corporations. It is going to focus on advancing not just environmental matters, but also broader sustainable development reporting. It is going to strengthen accountability by requiring that federal organizations report annually to parliamentary committees on their sustainable development progress, which means they are going to be scrutinized publicly. That is a very good thing. It is going to let people know what their government is doing, what departments are doing to implement sustainable development, by building on a whole-of-government approach, department by department, and will enable the measurement of government's performance with specific metrics.

Bill C-57 contains a number of new provisions that will support accountability and transparency. One of those is the principle of results and delivery, something that departments and agencies will have to take into account as they develop their own strategies, not just what they are aspiring to do, but also what are they actually going to be able to deliver. The targets they are setting will have to be measurable. They will have to be time balanced.

We are seeing a tightening of the screws around federal sustainable development strategies, and that is only a good thing.

When an explicit role is identified in Bill C-57 for Treasury Board in establishing policies and issuing directives in relation to the impact of government operations on sustainable development, that is a positive development. I say this because many of my constituents in the Pontiac will know that every department has its own specific challenges. Every department has its own specific operations and policy issues that they need to address.

The civil servants in my riding tell me regularly that they would like to have the opportunity to render their own departments' actions more sustainable. They know pathways, but they need the mechanisms to help get them there. They need a tougher, stronger law to make that happen. Bill C-57 would provide that. I am very confident that the hard-working civil servants in the Outaouais, in the national capital region, will be very pleased to see they will also be able to track the performance of their department, their crown corporation, the agency for which they work, as they work toward more sustainable operations.

I said that different departments and agencies would be added to the ambit of this legislation. Right now 26 departments are participating and are named in the act. That will be increased to include contributions from 90 departments and agencies, including organizations with significant environmental footprints, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Post, etc.

We are talking about legislation that will bring about a whole-of-government approach to achieving sustainability. That is a significant piece of our puzzle as a country. The federal government represents hundreds of thousands of employees. It represents so many dollars spent in products bought and in real estate. It is important for the entities that constitute the Government of Canada to be driving economic progress toward sustainability.

I also want to speak about the provisions and the purpose of the act around Canada's domestic and international obligations related to sustainable development. It has been raised in the House that the 2030 agenda from the UN, the sustainable development goals and our Paris agreement, are not included in the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

International obligations are acknowledged in the revised purpose set out in Bill C-57. This purpose reflects the government's commitment to consider current and future international sustainability obligations in the strategies that are developed. Future federal sustainable development strategies will reflect international obligations.

I would like to speak to concrete examples of activities that the government has undertaken to demonstrate how we take our international and domestic priorities seriously, in particular the voluntary national review on the 2030 agenda and our report to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

Last year I had the privilege of going to New York and delivering Canada's statement before the United Nations at the high-level political conference on sustainable development goals. That was truly a special moment and an honour for me. This year our government will be back there. I expect it will be one of our ministers who delivers Canada's very first voluntary national review, reporting back on our sustainable development goals and our achievements to date, our accomplishments, but also recognizing areas where more work is needed, whether in relation to health, gender, or consultation with indigenous peoples.

We can always do better, and better is definitely always possible in our country. We know that.

Bill C-57 would amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act in a very positive way. I am looking forward to discussing it with my colleagues on the other side.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec


Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the opposition House leader to speak to the government House leader on the questions that she has just raised.

In the meantime, this afternoon we will continue with report stage of Bill C-74, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1.

Following this debate, we will turn to Bill C-47, the arms trade treaty, also at report stage.

Tomorrow morning, we will begin third reading of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Monday and Wednesday shall be allotted days. Next week, priority will be given to the following bills: Bill-C-74, budget implementation act, 2018, No. 1; Bill C-69 on environmental assessments; Bill C-75 on modernizing the justice system; and Bill C-47 on the Arms Trade Treaty.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 9:45 p.m.
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Whitby Ontario


Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Madam Speaker, it is fascinating to hear the opposition complaining about having to be here, and this is only day three of extended hours.

The Conservatives say they are willing to stop debate on Bill C-47, but only if the government agrees not to call any other legislation. That makes no sense. They have been complaining about not having enough time to debate legislation, and extending the hours allows them to debate important legislation, so why do they suddenly not want to debate?

The government has been asking for information. The NDP has provided it, but the Conservatives have refused to provide it. Why do they ask for more debate time and then complain about getting it?

The government has spoken on this legislation, and we are now ready to advance it to the next stage. I would encourage opposition members to share information, as there is a better way to work in this place if they are willing to do so. We have not seen their desire to do so yet, but perhaps there is a way forward to be better.

They say they are eager to debate legislation, and yet they forced a vote on Bill C-57 when the House supported the bill. They did the same thing for private member's bill, Bill C-391.

If Conservative members can confirm that no members want to speak to Bill C-47 and they are prepared to let the debate collapse, then we would most certainly be happy to see the clock at midnight.

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 7:40 p.m.
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John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know all members are excited and intrigued to hear my commentary on Bill C-57. Why should we not be excited about debating in the House of Commons?

However, what is disappointing is that we are debating C-57, once again, under the guillotine of time allocation. In the last 48 hours, the Liberal government has used time allocation or closure on four separate bills or motions. Indeed one parliamentary expert on Twitter has referred to this fiasco as the closure supercluster of 2018. How many more closure or time allocation motions will it take before the Liberal government has a super-duper closure cluster of 2018? It is certainly well on its way to doing so.

We are into night sittings. We are here debating until midnight. We just had a time allocation vote at about 7:45 at night.

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 7:45 p.m.
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John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the encouragement. I know hon. members may want to hear what I have to say on this matter.

We are into the last week of May and the final four weeks of our sitting. However, the Liberal government has wasted and squandered its parliamentary session. Now, as the deadline of the summer recess approaches, the Liberals are trying to ram through bills on the threat and guillotine of time allocation and closure, and that is wrong. Canadians expect us to come to this place and have a fulsome debate on things that matter to them, yet we have time allocation and closure time and after time.

We are sitting until midnight, and I am happy to do so. I think all members here are willing to put in their time and do that work. However, I have to question how the Liberal government, which claims to be a family-friendly government and wants to see Parliament be a little more family friendly, thinks that having a vote at 7:45 at night is family friendly. Granted, as the father of an 11 day old, I am certainly used to being awake at all hours of the night, so it is not so bad. I would be happy to debate anyone at three o'clock in the morning if anyone is awake at that time.

Here we are in an evening sitting debating bills that clearly the government could have called and worked on. The bill before us has had relatively limited debate here at report stage. However, we, as the opposition, will be supporting Bill C-57, both at report stage and as it goes forward. I do want to commend our shadow minister, the member for Abbotsford, for his hard work on the bill. He was exceptionally eloquent when he spoke to the bill earlier in the session.

As Conservatives, we certainly believe in increased accountability. We are supporting the bill because it would provide a measure of increased accountability and increased reporting to Parliament. At the end of the day, Parliament is the ultimate arbiter. Therefore, providing that additional information and analysis to Parliament is important. The bill, with the amendment, would have a mandatory reporting requirement on a variety of matters, including environmental, economic, and social decision-making, and have that reported to Parliament.

As well, there are new enforcements. As Conservatives, we have always supported sustainable development. Many of our colleagues have been passionate about this matter and have spoken in and out of the House on it. Many of our colleagues have worked on this issue in the private sector and in their private lives for a number of years.

However, we do have some concerns with the bill. We have challenges with the increased number of paid advisory positions. These positions could be done on a voluntary basis. Unfortunately the bill would put paid advisory positions in the act. It is unfortunate, but at the same time it is something we will manage to deal with in supporting the bill.

It is a great opportunity as well to highlight that the amendment to the bill would be amending a bill that was first introduced in this place in 2008. At that time, it was introduced by our former colleague, the Hon. John Baird. This is an opportunity to highlight the good work that was done by Mr. Baird in his time as minister of the environment and the good work done by other Conservative environment ministers, including the member for Thornhill, who did an exceptional job during his time as minister of the environment.

As I said, we will be supporting Bill C-57. We are willing to see it move forward through report stage and third reading. If we look at our Conservative record on this bill, we supported the recommendations of the committee report that looked at the amendments to the legislation. We supported the committee report entitled “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations – A Report Following an Assessment of the Federal Sustainable development Act”. Sometimes we have reports with exciting titles, and this one rolls off the tip of the tongue and provides an exceptional basis from which to work.

I want to say a little about this committee report, and committee reports in general. Committees work best when they do so on a consensus basis. This was one of those reports that was achieved with a degree of consensus and reported back to the House with multi-partisan support. It is important that we, as the opposition, are able to do that. The challenge, however, is that so many committees are not working that way. We see that right now in the procedure and House affairs committee. We see the Liberal government trying to ram through changes to Canada's Elections Act without debate, without analysis, and without the time to fully hear from witnesses and to introduce amendments based on deliberations on the information from those witnesses. We should be hearing from Canadians on that matter. We should be hearing what they think is important when it comes to Canada's elections. We should be hearing how this issue will affect them on the ground, in their communities, at polling booths.

There will be an election in Ontario next Thursday. We should at least, as parliamentarians, be able to hear some of the stories and some of the options that have come out of that provincial election and the impact they may have on our federal legislation. We should be able to hear lessons learned and how they could benefit and improve that piece of legislation. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The Liberals are intent on ramming through legislation, ramming it through committee, and enforcing it with limited debate on this important matter.

That was not the case with Bill C-57. There was a previous committee report that analyzed this issue. However, now, when we have the opportunity to debate this at report stage, we have the guillotine. We have forced time allocation. Indeed, tonight we can only debate this issue for another 40 minutes. I have already used up eight or nine minutes of that time. There are only about 32 minutes left for members of the House to debate this piece of legislation. That is unfortunate, because I know that many of my colleagues could speak on this issue at great length, for the full 10 minutes of their time, or perhaps longer if they were given that time. However, unfortunately, we are being constrained to about 31 minutes to debate this issue. That is wrong.

I see I am down to one minute now to finish my comments. I am reminded of a famous writer who said that he did not have time to write a short letter, so he wrote a long letter instead. I feel like I am in the middle of a long speech, and I am being cut off early. I am so disappointed that the Liberals are cutting off debate on Bill C-57.

To conclude, the Conservative opposition will be supporting the bill at report stage, but under great duress, because we have been forced to debate this within the confines of time allocation, which is truly unfortunate. I look forward to questions from hon. members on this important matter.