An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act

Sponsor

Status

Considering amendments (Senate), as of Feb. 21, 2019

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-57.

Summary

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.

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

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

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to address my colleagues in the House and to reaffirm our government’s commitment to sustainable development and future generations of Canadians.

Through Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the government is working to ensure that decision-making related to sustainable development is more transparent, is subject to accountability, and promotes coordination across the Government of Canada.

Let me begin by thanking all members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their excellent work.

The committee’s hard work has led us to a stronger and more transparent bill, which builds on the government’s commitment to promote consultation and public engagement.

It is this last point that I would like to speak to today.

Worldwide we are seeing a resurgence of interest and desire to promote sustainable development and take action on climate change. By adopting the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, Canada will contribute to a global framework of action that strives for global sustainable development and aims to eradicate poverty and to leave no one behind.

Through its participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the historic Paris Agreement, Canada is also signalling a renewed global commitment to address climate change.

It is in this global context that we find ourselves, resolutely committed to ensuring that Canada is a sustainable development leader.

That is why we are proposing amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act that would propel us along a path to a sustainable future and ensure that we have the interests of future generations in mind.

The current federal sustainable development strategy is the strongest to date. It was developed using an inclusive participatory approach aimed at engaging and involving all Canadians. We released the draft strategy in February 2016 and asked Canadians to share with us their vision for a sustainable Canada and to suggest how we could strengthen transparency and accountability. The response was unprecedented. Canadians provided more than 540 written comments, 12 times the response received to the previous strategy. On social media they contributed about 900 posts and replies on the draft strategy. Overall, the draft strategy had a reach of more than 400,000 people over the course of the public consultation period.

We heard from individual Canadians who are fully committed and indicated that they are interested, engaged, and passionate about sustainable development.

We also heard from provincial governments, indigenous organizations, industry and professional associations, academics, and environmental non-governmental organizations. The strategy also benefited from the standing committee's review of the act and its recommendations. Evidence from the review included insightful testimony from witnesses such as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Hon. John Godfrey, the originator of the bill that became the act. We also spoke with the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, with representatives from each province and territory, as well as with members drawn from indigenous peoples, organizations representing business, organizations representing labour, and environmental non-governmental organizations.

In the public consultations, Canadians showed their support for the strategy, as well as for the 2030 agenda and other key sustainable development initiatives. They also appreciated the accessibility and transparency of the strategy, and the government's openness to receiving comments and input. However, Canadians also stressed that they are looking to the government for further progress and improvements, including greater inclusiveness to further guarantee the development of a strategy that engages all Canadians.

As a response, we felt we could go beyond improving the strategy, to improve the act itself. That is why, spurred by the standing committee's unanimous recommendations, our government introduced Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

The Federal Sustainable Development Act already requires the government to engage Canadians through public consultations on the federal sustainable development strategy, including through the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. However, we wanted to further increase the effectiveness of our engagement activities, starting with improvements to the council itself.

Bill C-57 would position the council to be better able to advise the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on matters related to sustainable development referred to it by the minister. Expertise and advice from the council would be sought on the development of the draft federal sustainable development strategy before it goes to public consultation. The council could also be asked to review the draft FSDS progress report during its development and to provide suggestions on its form, content, and direction. Similar to the current practice of including a summary of the council's comments on the federal sustainable development strategy, a summary of advice could also be made public by including it either in the federal sustainable development strategy or in the progress report.

Our bill also proposes to double the number of indigenous representatives from three to six. The Minister of Environment would further reflect the diversity of Canadian society by taking into account demographic considerations such as age and gender when appointing representatives to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council.

In addition, we have removed previous restrictions that denied council members reimbursement for reasonable costs incurred by them in connection with the business of the council. The proposed amendment would remove the prohibition on reimbursement of Sustainable Development Advisory Council members, in order to enhance effective engagement and inclusiveness. This was framed and was a recommendation by the member for Abbotsford.

The current act does not allow council members to be remunerated or reimbursed for their expenses, because it was part of a private member's bill. What that has meant in practice is that the council has been convened only virtually and by teleconference to review draft federal sustainable development strategies, and that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change has never met face to face with the council. Members are located in every province and territory from coast to coast to coast. Changing this would further help to minimize financial constraints on participants, particularly youth and members located in rural Canada. It would be unfortunate if individuals with a great deal to offer do not consider putting their name forward to be part of the council because they could not afford to participate.

Enabling the government to compensate or reimburse SDAC members would provide the ability for the council to play a more effective role in shaping the government's sustainable development approach. It would also enable the minister to engage with the council through in-person meetings or by bringing clusters of members together when appropriate.

We believe these changes would increase the ability of the council to guide and support our sustainable development agenda.

These proposed changes also reinforce the addition of numerous sustainable development principles. In addition to the basic principle and the precautionary principle, which are already included in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the bill adds principles of intergenerational equity, openness and transparency, the importance of involving aboriginal peoples, collaboration, and results and delivery.

Let me say a few words about these principles, which will guide the government's plans and actions on sustainable development. The principles emphasize that sustainable development is a continually evolving concept and allow the government to address new and emerging issues within future strategies. They also highlight approaches that the government should consider when developing sustainable development strategies.

In particular, the principle of intergenerational equity is the essence of sustainable development. It is the recognition that the decisions we make are not just about today but about tomorrow and far off into the future.

The polluter pays principle and the internalization of costs are also integral to sustainable development: that we must go beyond thinking of economic growth in conventional terms and stop seeing environmental damages as externalities.

The principle of openness and transparency supports the Federal Sustainable Development Act's stated purpose to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.

The Government of Canada is committed to advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples through a renewed nation-to-nation, Inuit-crown, and government-to-government relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. Our principle of involving indigenous peoples reflects this commitment, as well as their unique understanding of and connection to Canada's lands and waters, and the important role of traditional knowledge in supporting sustainable development.

Sustainable development requires contributions and actions from all parts of society: the public and private sectors and civil society. The principle of collaboration is about that joint pursuit of our common objectives.

The government has made it clear from its first day in office that we are committed to results and delivery.

Our principle on results and delivery emphasizes the importance of developing sound sustainable development objectives, associated strategies, indicators for measuring progress, and accountabilities. The Federal Sustainable Development Act must promote real change.

The proposed amendments to the principles are to be considered in the development of sustainable development strategies. Building more flexibility into the advisory council's role builds on these principles, particularly the principles of involving indigenous peoples, collaboration, and transparency and accountability, by providing an external perspective on sustainable development and ensuring that our federal sustainable development strategy reflects the diversity of Canada.

I hope that highlighting some of the major features of our bill would give members a better sense of how we can collectively move toward a more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. I am sure this is something all members of the House fully support.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I think the hon. member may be a bit confused. The discussion today is on Bill C-57, which is about the Federal Sustainable Development Act, and I think he is referring to a completely different bill. The amendment that was moved by one of his colleagues relates to Bill C-57, which is about the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

I have to say that it is a bit disappointing to see the opposition trying to politicize a bill that we all support, on all sides of the House. One of the great disappointments for many of us who got into politics quite recently is how everything, even things we agree on, tends to end up in a partisan discussion inside this chamber. The hon. member who moved the motion and I have a very good relationship outside the House. However, I am always surprised at how narrowly partisan some of the things that I hear coming out of his mouth in the chamber are.

I am proud of the work that was done by the committee on this bill. I am proud of the bill itself. It is something that all parties in the House have indicated they support on a go-forward basis. In the spirit of the non-partisan way in which the committee worked, I would simply ask that we continue to talk about a bill that we all support and leave some of the partisanship aside.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 10:55 a.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the chance to speak to this bill. It is very important that we strengthen sustainability legislation in this country. We have taken a few baby steps forward, but regrettably, this bill has not gone far enough. It is not enough for the government to simply say the word “indigenous”, say it cares about indigenous people, and then not take the step it promised, which is to actually incorporate that declaration into the law of the land.

It is important at the outset to recall that the Federal Sustainable Development Act was initiated in 2008 as a private member's bill with, frankly, much stronger measures. It was transformed by the then Liberal government into the law as it exists today. Second, it is important to recognize the earlier decision in 1995 to create of the office of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development within the Office of the Auditor General. A requirement was also imposed on departments to prepare and table sustainable development strategies. The commissioner was mandated to audit and publicly report on the government's delivery on these responsibilities. During the 1990s, a cabinet directive was also issued requiring ministers to provide an environmental assessment of any policies, plans, or proposals submitted to cabinet. As my colleague mentioned, that would include pipeline approvals.

In 2015, Canada joined other nations in signing a United Nations resolution, “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. This agreement committed the signatories to take bold and transformative steps that are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. Two months later, Canada also committed, in Paris, to deeper actions to address climate change.

Finally, Canada has declared its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which I will refer to as the UNDRIP from now on, much of which deals with the indigenous right to self-determination, including on resource development, environmental protection, and sustainability.

Over the past decades, consecutive audits by the commissioner have reported abject failure by departments and ministers alike in incorporating credible environmental or sustainable development assessments for decision-making. It is similarly noteworthy that as recently as this past spring, after the tabling of Bill C-57, the commissioner delivered a highly critical audit on the government's commitment to implementing the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals, finding no federal governance structure, a narrow interpretation of sustainable development, limited national consultation and engagement, no national implementation plan, few national targets, and no system to measure, monitor, and report on national targets. It was a very scathing review.

It is important, then, in assessing Bill C-57, to determine if these proposed reforms to the act brought before us today are sufficient to update Canadian law to ensure delivery of our international and domestic commitment to ensuring sustainability.

A year before the bill was introduced, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development led a study of a draft federal sustainable development strategy, as required by law. The result was a series of recommendations presented to Parliament to strengthen this very law and the process of applying it. Last fall, the Minister of Environment tabled Bill C-57 to amend the act. The bill was debated and then referred back to the committee, which again undertook a study and reported back a number of recommended amendments. On behalf of my party, I proposed a series of recommended amendments, for the most part based on recommendations from the commissioner, experts heard at committee in both of its reviews, and the committee itself. Regrettably, almost all of them were refused, despite having been put forward by the committee itself in its earlier study.

Among my proposed amendments was that the bill provide specific reference to a commitment to the UNDRIP. Why did I propose this? The Prime Minister has committed to deliver on all 94 of the calls for action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including calls 43 and 44, which call on the federal government, in fact all orders of government, to fully adopt and implement the UNDRIP as the framework for reconciliation and to develop a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve those goals. Clearly, one of those measures would be to include the UNDRIP in this law.

In her address to a conference on implementing the UN declaration, in November of last year, the Minister of Justice stated:

With the direction and leadership of [the Prime Minister], our government will support Bill C-262. The bill acknowledges the application of the UN declaration in Canada and calls for the alignment of the laws of Canada with the UN declaration.

It could not be clearer. This address was made to the Assembly of First Nations, and it interprets that as meaning that the UN declaration will now be incorporated into every federal law going forward.

The government has publicly stated its support for Bill C-262, tabled by my colleague, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, which calls on the government to enact the UNDRIP in Canadian law.

This directive by the Prime Minister is clear: all Canadian laws must be written and applied to align with the UN declaration. The federal commissioner of the environment and sustainable development recommended to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development that it seek amendments to Bill C-57 to specifically include the UNDRIP. Again, it came from our federal commissioner.

Any reasonable person would conclude, therefore, that failing to reference the UNDRIP in the bill was just an oversight. Perhaps no one advised the minister that her Prime Minister, her justice minister, and the commissioner had recommended exactly this action. Therefore, it appears well-founded that I table this exact amendment. After all, the government's intent was clear.

What was the response by the majority Liberal-led committee? It voted down this amendment. One wonders, of course, why the Minister of Environment had not made this reference herself in the bill, but there we are: no support for inclusion of the UNDRIP in our nation's sustainable development law, which is supposed to guide all decisions on policy, programs, and law going forward.

There is no commitment to entrenching indigenous rights, but what about the other recommended measures to strengthen the bill? In testifying before the committee, the commissioner expressed appreciation that the minister had heeded the advice of the committee to incorporate into the law at least some of the recommended guiding principles, such as intergenerational equity, the precautionary principle, and polluter pays. Other recommended principles, including environmental justice and the right to a healthy environment, were not included.

The commissioner expressed concern that additional international commitments critical to sustainability remain missing from the bill. These include, for logical reasons, the United Nations agenda 2030 on sustainable development goals and the Paris climate convention.

During its review in advance of Bill C-57, the standing committee sought advice from a number of leading Canadian and international experts on sustainable development on ways to strengthen the federal resolve to deliver on sustainable development. These included, as mentioned, the current commissioner of the environment and sustainable development and the head of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, who was also the former commissioner. It also included Welsh and German experts on sustainable development, Global International, and the World Future Council. Clearly, the committee heard advice from a wide array of expertise on sustainable development.

A widely supported recommendation was to shift to a whole of government approach in instituting sustainability considerations in government decision-making by incorporating into law measures to improve enforceability and accountability on the sustainable development targets, appointing more senior-level authorities to provide oversight, and entrenching the cabinet directive in the statute. The minister chose not to follow this sage advice

These recommendations were repeated by the federal commissioner when testifying before the committee. She reiterated her call to shift the oversight role from a junior-level officer in the environment department to a central agency. It is no surprise why she came to this conclusion. As mentioned earlier, audits delivered over the past several decades reported abject failure across authorities, including the departments of environment and Public Safety, to comply with the law. Her fall 2017 report found a mere 20% compliance rate by the five departments audited.

As recently as this spring, the commissioner reported that the government has no federal government structure, a limited interpretation of sustainable development, and no system to measure or monitor sustainable development.

I would welcome questions and just share that I am deeply disappointed. This was an opportunity to strengthen the resolve of the federal government--

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my friend from Edmonton Strathcona for her tireless work on environment and climate issues.

I want to ask my colleague about the potential to find something positive in the bill.

I have been just appalled by the lack of advisory bodies for the Liberal government. Let me give a quick review. We used to have in Canada the Economic Council of Canada, which existed from 1963 until the 1990s. The Science Council of Canada existed from the 1960s until the early 1990s. The Canadian Environmental Advisory Council existed from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. All three were abolished in the early 1990s, because the government created the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. We were told that we did not need the Economic Council, the Science Council, or the Environmental Advisory Council anymore, because we had the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which, in the spring of 2012, was killed in the Conservative omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38.

Nobody seems to be aware of the paucity of basic research and the combining of themes around sustainable development that we used to take for granted.

This is a pretty weak instrument we have in proposed subsection 8(1) of this legislation. We have a Sustainable Development Advisory Council, which I think has potential, but it has to be properly funded. The Liberal government needs to see the potential to replace all those bodies we used to have that gave us good advice.

I wonder if my friend from Edmonton Strathcona thinks that is something we should push ahead with in Bill C-57.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 11:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to speak about how our government's priorities and Bill C-57 align with the core principles underpinning the sustainable development goals and support the overarching philosophy of the 2030 agenda to leave no one behind. For Canada, leaving no one behind means that everyone can participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the achievement of the sustainable development goals.

The 2030 agenda is an informative agenda rooted in the principles of universality, inclusiveness, interconnectedness, and the need for meaningful partnerships that deliver positive change for all. It commits all countries irrespective of their income levels and development status to contribute to the comprehensive effort toward sustainable development.

As Canada's Prime Minister said in his address to the UN General Assembly in September 2017, “the SDGs are as meaningful in Canada as they are everywhere else in the world”. The 2030 agenda seeks to benefit all people in need, in a manner that targets their specific needs and vulnerabilities. To do so, the 2030 agenda calls for inclusiveness and participation by all segments of society irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity, and identity. This generates an unprecedented demand for diverse regional and local understanding of community-based issues and robust data.

For instance, we know that while drinking water in Canada is among the safest in the world, access to clean water and sanitation remains a challenge in on-reserve first nation communities. This is why clause 5 of the bill, which addresses the composition and mandate for the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, is so important. Clause 5 seeks to increase the number of indigenous representatives on the council to better reflect the indigenous groups represented and the broad range of challenges they face across Canada.

This directly supports our efforts to forge a new relationship with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. Clause 5 also seeks to reflect the diversity of Canadian society by taking into account demographic considerations, such as age and gender, when appointing representatives to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Gender equality and the empowerment of women, for example, are foundational pillars of Canada's leadership in the fight against climate change. We are enhancing our gender-based analysis across all areas of work on environment and climate change to ensure that our actions promote gender equality.

To further support diversity and inclusion in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, clause 5 provides that representatives appointed to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council may be reimbursed reasonable expenses incurred so they can meet as a council face to face. Council members would only be reimbursed for expenses incurred under the Treasury Board Secretariat travel directive. This directive applies to public service employees and other persons travelling on government business, and its purpose is supported by clause 5, which would ensure fair treatment of those required to travel on government business. The travel directive provides for the reimbursement of reasonable expenses necessarily incurred while travelling on government business, and does not constitute income or other compensation that would open the way for personal gain. The ability to meet face to face will enable more fair and effective engagement of the council.

The 2030 agenda rests on the interconnected nature of its goals. For example, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation supports the achievement of zero hunger and good health and well-being, by providing clean water to grow food and eliminating potential sources of disease.

To support the principles of interconnectedness, clause 5 provides that the Sustainable Development Advisory Council may advise the Minister of Environment on any matter related to sustainable development. Given that it was previously limited to reviewing the draft of the federal sustainable development strategy only, this will help to ensure that the core elements of sustainable development—social inclusion, economic growth, and environmental protection—can be further examined to ensure timely and meaningful advice to the minister.

All Canadians, including all levels of government, indigenous peoples, civil society, and the private sector, have a role to play in advancing the sustainable development goals and ensuring that no one is left behind.

In 2016, our government undertook an extensive consultation process to review our international assistance policy. Canadians showed strong support for the themes and issues addressed by the sustainable development goals. Canadians want to support the health and rights of women and children, to ensure peace and security, to provide clean economic growth and climate change, and protect governance, pluralism, diversity and human rights.

Responding to this consultation, Canada's feminist international assistance policy supports targeted investments, partnerships, innovation, and advocacy efforts with the greatest potential to close gender gaps and improve everyone's chances for success. As we implement the policy, we will strengthen our priorities through working in areas such as gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, human dignity, and growth that works for everyone.

Domestically, we have already begun to respond to the challenge of the 2030 agenda and the sustainable development goals through the 2016-2019 federal sustainable development strategy, our plan to promote clean growth, ensure healthy ecosystems, and to build safe, secure, and sustainable communities over the next three years.

The strategy presents 13 aspirational goals that are a Canadian reflection of the SDGs of the 2030 agenda, with a focus on their environmental dimensions. Our goals are supported by medium-term targets, short-term milestones, and clear action plans. Currently, 41 federal departments and agencies contribute to meeting our targets and advancing our goals. Our strategy was shaped by input from stakeholders and Canadians, and it recognizes the important role that our partners and all Canadians play in achieving sustainable development.

Recognizing the complex nature of coordinating the SDGs, budget 2018 announced $49.4 million over 13 years to establish a sustainable development goals unit to provide overall policy coordination and to fund monitoring and reporting activities by Statistics Canada. To facilitate meaningful engagement, budget 2018 also provided up to $59.8 million over 13 years for programming to support the implementation of the sustainable development goals. This means the development of an ambitious, whole-of-Canada national strategy, in consultation with provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, municipalities, universities, and civil society, to catalyze action across the country, build public awareness, and foster new partnerships and networks in advancing the sustainable development goals.

Many Canadian priorities, such as taking on climate change, clean energy, and oceans, growing and strengthening Canada's middle class, reconciliation with indigenous peoples, and advancing gender equality, already support the 2030 agenda. However, we know there is more work to do to ensure that no one is left behind. Canada's efforts to implement the 2030 agenda to date will be showcased this July at the UN high level political forum on sustainable development in New York, where we will present our first voluntary national review. Canada's voluntary national review will highlight our efforts and achievements to date, recognizing areas where more work is needed.

In conclusion, the sustainable development goals can only be achieved if everyone is on board. This is a Canadian agenda, a shared agenda, and an agenda that calls for all hands on deck. We strongly believe that Bill C-57 is in lockstep with our commitment to a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate today. For people who are watching on TV or following the debate in the galleries, Bill C-57 is one of those pieces of legislation that would be in many ways be viewed more as a process piece of legislation. It is not so much about a particular policy; it is about how to set up the particular processes, the mechanisms, the various government reports, etc. to come to a particular policy. Therefore, it is often fairly difficult to explain for people who do not live, breathe, and inhabit Parliament Hill why legislation needs to exist. However, we need certain processes and mechanisms to accomplish legislative aims.

What is fundamental about this bill is that it would expand the number of people who would be involved and the number of departments that would have to report. While that is all fairly interesting and probably useful in the long term, and may or may not have positive outcomes, I think the underlying question most Canadians want to ask is whether all these processes actually make for a better environment, do they get Canada where it wants to go. A process is only as useful as its end result.

Therefore, this is in many ways a difficult bill to comment about because we really do not know what the end result of all these changes to process will be.

What I will contribute to today's debate is to make some suggestions based upon the history and knowledge of what actually works in environmental policy, so when these processes come to fruition, the people who are involved in it will have some idea of what the various parliamentarians thought about what would be good input to have to create proper legislation in the future.

Again, to some degree, we are buying a pig in a poke today because the bill would create more fees and funding for people who would be on the advisory committees. It would require more departments to have more reports. Maybe that is good, maybe it is not, but as far as what the substance is to make the environment better, we really will not know based upon this legislation.

Let me give some advice for the House as to what has worked in history to make better, more proper, more positive environmental legislation.

For all the talk we have nowadays from the Liberal government about what works or what does not, the Liberals have not looked at the broader scope of world history to see what has fundamentally made our environment better. I know this may get some challenges from some parts of the House, but one of the things that has been most useful and successful as far as making the environment better has been the rise of capitalism and free enterprise.

Around the world, the countries that were the first and earliest to embrace capitalism and free enterprise now have the best environment. They may be drifting away from the free enterprise system, but systematically this is one of those things that cannot be disputed from history.

In places like Europe, which was having massive problems with deforestation, the Europeans brought in coal technology. The market brought it in to replace wood for energy. They began to use things like the market mechanisms to move food around the world. Ships that were run by oil, diesel, fuels, and coal were able to take food from parts of the world, such as North America, Europe, and various other places, and move it around.

How did that help the environment? Very simply, instead of local areas having to use their marginal resources to produce food, they were able to bring it from different parts of the world by using market mechanisms.

Technology has also helped to improve the environment. One of the ironies of the expanding debate around fracking and tight shale and different things about that, is these technologies have helped to create a greater supply of natural gas, lowering the price for natural gas which then replaces coal. I am no critic of the coal industry, but natural gas, when it is used for electricity, produces less greenhouse gases than coal.

Here is the irony. Petroleum engineers, through free enterprise, have done more to cut greenhouse gases than all the government regulations proposed by the various left-wing regimes around the world. If we look at the other place in the world, where there were major cuts to greenhouse gases, it was after the collapse of the Soviet communist bloc in Eastern Europe. They got rid of the heavy industry that was subsidized by the socialist-communist regimes of Eastern Europe. That was why the European Union was able to claim such massive credits. However, the irony of it all, for all the talk about regulation and taxation that the Liberal government puts forward, is that free enterprise and capitalism have actually done more for the environment than anything else. This is not surprising when we look at what people take responsibility for. They take responsibility for their own actions and their own property.

I used to live in the former Soviet Union for a short while as it was transitioning to becoming the various republics and independent nations it is now. I could see, as was to be expected, that people had environmental respect of their own property. However, the broader collectively-owned property did not. Free enterprise, responsibility, and all those basic things work to help protect the environment.

If we look at what the current government is doing, it has not been following those historical patterns. It has not looked at what broadly works to integrate with human nature to do it. Its ultimate policy is to do things like Bill C-57, which is about process, more talking, more reports, and more people being appointed to more committees to get more per diems and more payments, and so forth. Unfortunately that all tends to lead to more taxes and more regulation. The whole drive of the Liberal Party's environmental policy is to tax more and more.

What do people naturally do when they are taxed more? They do not necessarily change their behaviour in regard to the environment. They would if it were their own property and they needed to preserve and protect it. They do what people naturally should do. They try to avoid these carbon taxes.

I worked with the Saskatchewan Mining Association, which has been trying to communicate with the Minister of Environment, and not all that successfully I might add. However, it is very clear that it wants to work and do the best job it can for the environment. However, if the government overtaxes it with carbon taxes and regulations that have no basis in reality, its investment will move. Therefore, we do not actually clean up the environment. We do not actually have a better environmental outcome. What we do when we put on these carbon taxes and other regulations that are unnecessary for environmental improvement is that we move the industrial activity, hurt the Canadian economy, and do nothing to improve the environment.

If we tax electric plants in Canada that are generated by coal and we tax them so they move from Saskatchewan to North Dakota, all we have done is kill economic activity in Canada and moved it to the United States. We have not done anything to improve the environment.

This is what I encourage the government to do today. Process legislation is fine. Bills such as Bill C-57 could, if the process is actually implemented, do something positive.

Here is my challenge to other members of the House. When we look to support legislation, such as the bill before us, look to see what the historical record shows has been done to improve the environment. It has not been taxes, big government, or big government regulations. It has been people taking their own initiative under a free market, free enterprise systems, doing what they can with private property rights to improve it. That is what the historical record has shown and that is what we can expect to see in the future.

Again, a policy of big taxes, more regulation, and more government interference and bureaucracy will not improve the environment.

I realize I will not have convinced all of my hon. colleagues in the House, but I hope they are willing to enter into a discussion on what fundamentally will help improve the Canadian environment.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 11:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I am always happy to take part in debates in the House, especially on this issue. It is also always a pleasure to follow my colleague from Winnipeg North and his prose.

I can assure all members, and especially the member for Winnipeg North, that I will support the member for Abbotsford, because I know that he is on the right side. Based on his experience as a senior cabinet minister under our government, I know that he achieved great things for Canadians. I am sure he is on the right track.

We are gathered here today to discuss Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I will remind the House that this bill seeks to enhance, improve, change, and amend the initial bill, which had been adopted, tabled, and debated in 2008 by our government, under the guidance of the Hon. John Baird, then minister of the environment.

Various elements are addressed in this bill, but it is essentially about the environment. The speech I am going to make today is about the Liberal government's achievements and track record, considered against the commitments it made and the legacy we left behind from our time in government.

Let us look at the facts. In its electoral platform, the Liberal Party made numerous references to the environment scattered over more than 10 pages. Page 39 said that the Liberal government would “take action on climate change, put a price on carbon, and reduce carbon pollution”.

There are three assertions there: take action on climate change, put a price on carbon, and reduce carbon pollution. The first is debatable. The second is a promise that the Liberals did keep. The third is one they did not. That is the reality.

It is not the Conservatives who are saying so, but a neutral and objective authority, the Auditor General, who analyzed every step this government has taken in the past 31 months with regard to the environment.

The Auditor General reached three fundamental conclusions in his report to Parliament on the environment and sustainable development. Let us look at what he had to say in that report.

First, the Auditor General found that the Liberal government failed to reach the targets set when the Paris agreement was signed. Second, he found that there has not been any improvements with regard to greenhouse gas emissions. Third, he found that the federal government is not providing the proper and necessary leadership to fight climate change with the support and co-operation of the provinces. The environment is a federal-provincial joint responsibility and we need to work with the provinces.

The Auditor General found that the government failed in these three key areas, which are meeting targets, making progress, and providing leadership while working together with the provinces. The Auditor General said that.

This could undermine the efforts that must be made and the realities to which Canadians are accustomed when it comes time to take action on greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, the Liberal strategy was quite simple. They would impose a Liberal carbon tax on all Canadians. Let us remember that the Prime Minister famously said in this place that the Liberals would work with the provinces and invited them to implement a carbon tax or participate in a carbon exchange.

At first, this makes sense. However, we should not overlook what else was said, namely that if the provinces did not agree, a carbon tax would be imposed on them.

That does not really show leadership. That is forcing the provinces to do what they are told, or it will be rammed down their throats.

That is the approach of a Liberal government that came to power by saying that it would work with the provinces. If they do not co-operate, the government will force them to do what it wants. We do not believe that that is the right approach.

We should remember that this government has a study in hand that indicates what the impact of the Liberal carbon tax will be on Canadian families, a report that is not available to Canadians. We submitted an access to information request, which we now have in hand.

I will quote this study, which spells out the cost to families of the Liberal carbon tax:

...the potential impact of a carbon price on households' consumption expenditures across the income distribution. The key findings are:

The rest is blacked out. All of the information has been redacted. When people are ashamed of their numbers, they hide them. When they are proud of their numbers, they make them public. In this case, not only are they not making the numbers public, but they are also hiding them. Apparently they do not want Canadians to know how the proposed Liberal carbon tax will impact them directly.

In our view, the Liberals are out of line. Let me remind the House that if the provinces happen to want to introduce carbon taxes and if they happen to want to introduce their own carbon exchanges, that is their choice. I have first-hand experience with that. In 2011, I represented Chauveau in the National Assembly. There was a debate on whether Quebec should join the carbon exchange. Some people were in favour of it and others were against it. The political party I led at the time was against it. There was a proper debate. There was a debate and a vote, and Quebec has had a carbon exchange ever since. I was against it then, and I still am. People got to pass judgment on my stance three times, and I was elected three times with a clear majority each time. I was perfectly fine with that.

Just because someone is against the carbon tax and the carbon exchange does not mean that they are against the environment, on the contrary. People are smart enough to differentiate between the Liberals' partisan position and the facts.

The facts might surprise some because the propaganda we keep hearing about how the Conservatives were against the environment, did nothing for the environment, and are the enemies of the environment is completely false and not backed by facts. We hear this propaganda far too often.

Our government started by implementing a green plan, Canada EcoTrust, a $1.5-billion program, with the support and co-operation of the provinces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a scientific, tangible, and practical way. Hon. members will recall that in February 2007, the Charest provincial government and the federal Conservative government agreed to invest $349.9 million to fight climate change. That was done with the help of technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and it worked.

Those who claim the Conservative government did nothing are lying to Canadians. We worked in collaboration with the provinces, as well as private companies. I am in the best position to talk about it because there is a high-tech environmental firm in my riding called CO2 Solutions. For over 10 years, it has been working with Natural Resources Canada to shrink the Alberta oil industry's environmental footprint. Its methods are working. I am very proud of this company from my riding, because we believe that putting the ingenuity of private enterprise at the service of greenhouse gas reduction efforts is a promising approach.

Our government's track record therefore boasts a 2.2% decrease in greenhouse gases and a 16.9% increase in GDP. That is the perfect combination: tackling greenhouse gas emissions and growing Canada's economy.

Others will say that that is not true at all. I say that it is true. Public television viewers may have been a bit surprised last week when I answered an incisive question directly with that statistic. To silence the skeptics, I quickly put the information online, and I am pleased to repeat that statistic. The information comes from Natural Resources Canada:

Between 2005 and 2015, Canada's GHG emissions in the energy sector decreased 2.2% while real GDP grew by 16.9%.

That is the reality. Those are the facts. That is the Conservative track record. We had a real policy coupling economic prosperity with greenhouse gas reduction, unlike this government, which is not even capable of meeting its own targets, which incidentally are the targets that we set when we were in government and that were subsequently adopted by the Liberal government, President Obama, and the entire planet in the Paris Agreement.

That is the Conservative track record, and we are very proud of it.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

[Member spoke in Cree]

[English]

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today and speak in support of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I would like to acknowledge the great work that was done by members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Of the many recommendations put forward by the committee, I would like to focus on the recommendations to introduce amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act that would enable a whole-of-government approach and comprehensive engagement of all central government agencies in the development and implementation of the federal sustainable development strategy. I am going to speak to the House today about the roles and responsibilities of the various players in implementing the Federal Sustainable Development Act. These include the federal sustainable development strategy departments and agencies, the sustainable development office, parliamentarians, and the main purpose of this debate, the Sustainable Development Advisory Council.

When we think about a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development, we know that it can be accomplished in a number of ways.

First, Bill C-57 introduces some changes that would expand the act's coverage to include all federal organizations named in schedules I, I.1, and II to the Financial Administration Act, more than 90, in total compared to 26 in the current act. The act also provides for adding other entities at a later date and for removing entities.

While Environment and Climate Change Canada coordinates the development of the federal sustainable development strategy and its progress reports, these documents are the product of a collaborative effort involving all implicated federal organizations. The bill would require departments and agencies bound by the act to contribute to the development of the federal sustainable development strategy and its progress reports. It would also strengthen the accountabilities of all departments and agencies by requiring annual reporting to parliamentary committees.

Second, under an amended act, primary responsibility for the federal sustainable development strategy would remain with Environment and Climate Change Canada. However, Bill C-57 would formalize Treasury Board's role in leading greening government operation efforts. The bill provides that the Treasury Board may establish policies or issue directives applicable to organizations covered by the act in relation to the sustainable development impact of their operations.

Parliamentarians must also play an important role to ensure a whole-of-government approach to the FSDA when strategies and progress reports are tabled and referred to committees. Furthermore, Bill C-57 allows for the permanent review of the act, which further provides parliamentarians with the ability to ensure that the act takes a whole-of-government approach and remains, most importantly, transparent.

Stakeholders—which include parliamentarians, the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, non-governmental organizations, academia, associations, and Canadians—would also play a major role in developing the FSDS by providing input and feedback on the development and drafting of the FSDS.

In fact, under Bill C-57, the sustainable development office at Environment and Climate Change Canada would remain required to consult with stakeholders and Canadians for feedback and input into the FSDS for a period of 120 days. Under the current act, comments received from stakeholders and Canadians are summarized in a consultation synthesis report that is produced and posted to the web by the office, and these comments inform the final federal sustainable development strategy and subsequent progress reports. However, Bill C-57 moves one step further by stating that designated entities under the bill shall take into account comments made under public consultation.

Finally, and the reason for this debate, the sustainable development office is to seek advice from the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, the SDAC, as part of its governance structure and its consultation and engagement process.

When we first started the debate, it was led off by the Conservatives, who came up with a beautiful little statement that they felt they were being misled by the Prime Minister. Incredibly enough, we were misled by the former primer minister, Stephen Harper, for he cancelled the national round table on the environment and the economy, the NRTEE, which was a Canadian advisory agency founded by the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in response to the 1987 United Nations document “Our Common Future”. The NRTEE focused on sustaining Canada's prosperity without borrowing resources from future generations or compromising their ability to live securely. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper ended funding to the NRTEE, which ceased to exist on March 31, 2013.

The national round table was an independent policy advisory agency of the Government of Canada. Its mandate was to raise awareness among Canadians and their governments about the challenges of sustainable development. Over 25 years it released dozens of reports on priority issues—forests, brownfields, infrastructure, energy, water, air, climate change, and more. It offered advice to governments on how best to consolidate and integrate the often divergent challenges of economic prosperity and environmental conservation. It brought together hundreds of leaders and experts with first-hand knowledge in a diversity of areas. Its members, appointed by the federal government, were active in businesses, universities, environmentalism, labour, public policy, and community life across Canada.

On March 21, 2013, the Conservative government, in the decade of darkness under Stephen Harper, eliminated the budget for the NRTEE, effectively ending it. The then environment minister initially offered the rationale that the funding was unnecessary because Canadians could at that time access climate change research through the Internet, universities, and think tanks.

However, in response to a question in the House of Commons, then foreign affairs minister John Baird said the government should not be funding the round table because it had issued a series of reports advocating a form of carbon pricing, which he said the people of Canada had repeatedly rejected. He said the round table should agree with Canadians and should agree with the government and should not offer independent advice.

The round table released several reports that concluded that the federal government would have to act more aggressively in order to reach its Kyoto protocol target of a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020.

On March 26, 2013, the then minister of the environment issued a directive preventing the round table from transferring its research and the contents of its website to Sustainable Prosperity, a national research network based at the University of Ottawa. Instead, he said, Environment Canada would lay claim to all previous work, which was promised to remain accessible to the public. However, the move appeared to leave the fate of the two unpublished documents on the history, role, and relationship of the round table to the government uncertain. These reflections of past leaders of the NRTEE were subsequently leaked and posted on the Internet.

It is important that under this legislation the Sustainable Development Advisory Council would play an important role by advising the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that is referred to it by the minister. More specifically, it would ensure that the government takes a whole-of-government view, seeking the advice and expertise of Canadians who reflect our country's diversity of background, ethnicity, age, gender, and circumstance.

Research indicates that several OECD member countries have a national sustainable development commission or council similar to our Sustainable Development Advisory Council. These councils often meet on an ongoing basis throughout the year.

Moreover, reforms to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council set out in Bill C-57 would enhance inclusiveness by increasing representation of indigenous peoples from three members to six, by clarifying that the Sustainable Development Advisory Council has a broad mandate to provide advice on sustainable development, and by enabling more effective engagement.

There are governance mechanisms already in place to ensure proper oversight of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. The additional provisions in clause 5 of Bill C-57 will help to ensure that the best possible advice and guidance is provided on issues that touch all Canadians.

I hope that all of us in the House can support our common desire to make decision-making related to development more transparent, promote coordinated action across the Government of Canada, and ensure we receive maximum benefit from the Sustainable Development Advisory Council based on expert advice using data and science.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand again in the House on behalf of my wonderful riding of Saint John—Rothesay and to have the privilege of addressing my colleagues and to reaffirm our government's commitment to sustainable development and future generations of Canadians.

Through Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, our government is working to ensure that decision-making related to sustainable development is more transparent, subject to accountability, and promotes coordination across the Government of Canada.

Let me begin by thanking the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their excellent work. It has culminated in a unanimous report calling on the government to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The committee's hard work was seminal in guiding the government in the development of Bill C-57.

Stable development is critically important not just in Canada, but across the world. By adopting the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, Canada will contribute to a global framework of action that strives for global sustainable development and aims to eradicate poverty and to leave no one behind. Nobody knows more about poverty and the fight against it than I do in my riding of Saint John—Rothesay.

Through its participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the historic Paris Agreement, Canada is also signalling a renewed global commitment to address climate change. Our government is making sure that Canada succeeds during the clean growth century and the shift toward cleaner, more sustainable growth.

It is in this global context that we find ourselves resolutely committed to ensuring that Canada is a sustainable development leader. That is why we are proposing amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act that will propel us along the path to a sustainable future.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Federal Sustainable Development Act, let me say a few words about its origins, what it is, and what it does, In particular, I want to discuss how the amendments in clause 5 regarding the Sustainable Development Advisory Council would strengthen accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness in developing future strategies and how they complement action we are already taking under our current federal sustainable development strategy, FSDS.

The original act was introduced as a private member's bill by the Hon. John Godfrey in November 2007. Sustainable development was seen as such an important issue that it received all-party support in the minority 39th Parliament.

The purpose of the current act is to provide a framework to develop and implement the federal sustainable development strategy to make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The act also sets out which departments are required to develop a departmental strategy in compliance with and contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy. In addition, the act outlines the requirements to consult on a draft strategy; to create an advisory council; and to table a strategy and progress report every three years.

A key outcome of the act is the development of the federal sustainable development strategy, which is the Government of Canada's flagship strategy on sustainable development. The strategy itself sets out Canada's sustainable development goals, targets, and implementation strategies to meet those targets.

The current federal sustainable development strategy is the strongest to date. It was developed using an inclusive, participatory approach aimed at engaging and involving all Canadians. We released a draft strategy in February 2016 and asked Canadians to share with us their vision for a sustainable Canada and to suggest how we could strengthen transparency and accountability.

The response was unprecedented. Canadians provided more than 540 written comments, 12 times the number of responses received by the previous strategy. On social media, Canadians contributed about 900 posts and replies on the draft strategy. Overall, the draft strategy reached more than 400,000 people over the course of the public consultation period. That is an outstanding response.

We heard from individual Canadians, who showed they are interested, engaged, and passionate about sustainable development. We also heard from provincial governments, indigenous organizations, industry, professional associations, academics, and environmental non-governmental organizations. We spoke with sustainable development advisory councils, with representatives from each province and territory, as well as members of indigenous groups, and organizations representing business and labour, and environmental non-governmental organizations, as I mentioned.

The strategy also benefited from the standing committee's review of the act and its recommendations. Evidence from the review included insightful testimony from witnesses, such as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, and the Hon. John Godfrey, the originator of the bill that became the act.

The current federal sustainable development strategy also demonstrates a more strategic and aspirational approach than others in the past. It contains more measurable and time-bound targets, including reduction of Canada's total GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 relative to 2005 emission levels. However, we felt we could go beyond improving the strategy, to improve the act itself. That is why, spurred by the standing committee's unanimous recommendations, our government introduced Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Our bill proposes a number of changes to the act. First, it amends the purpose of the Federal Sustainable Development Act, with a view to making decision-making related to sustainable development at large—not only environmental decision-making—more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The 2030 agenda makes it clear that sustainable development is not just about the environment, and the revised purpose recognizes this by proposing to remove the current emphasis on the environment.

The purpose also promotes co-ordinated action across the Government of Canada to advance sustainable development and respect for Canada's domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development. The amended act would therefore recognize the 2030 agenda, the Paris Agreement, and Canada's other international obligations that bear on the well-being of future generations of Canadians.

Bill C-57 also proposes the addition of numerous sustainable development principles. To the basic principle, the precautionary principle, already included in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the bill adds principles on intergenerational equity, openness and transparency, the importance of involving aboriginal peoples, collaboration, and results and delivery.

Let me say a few words about these principles that would guide the government's plans and actions on sustainable development. The principles emphasize that sustainable development is a continually evolving concept, and allow the government to address new and emerging issues within future strategies. They also highlight approaches the government should consider taking when developing sustainable development strategies. In particular, the principle of intergenerational equity is the essence of sustainable development. It recognizes that the decisions we make are not just about today, but also about tomorrow and far into the future. The principle of the polluter pays and the internalization of costs are also integral to sustainable development, in recognizing that we must go beyond thinking of economic growth in conventional terms and stop seeing environmental damages as externalities.

The principle of openness and transparency supports the Federal Sustainable Development Act's stated purpose to make the decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability in Parliament. The bill is about promoting a whole-of-government approach and increasing accountabilities under the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Bill C-57 would dramatically increase the number of federal organizations that are covered by the act, from the current 26 to over 90. This would truly make it a whole-of-government strategy.

I hope by highlighting some of the major features of the bill, members will agree it would help to push Canada along the path toward a more sustainable future for our children, for our grandchildren, and for their children after that. I am sure all members of the House would support that.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
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Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Lauzon LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

I would first like to thank the members of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development for their excellent work. We congratulate the committee members and the witnesses for their points of view and commitment to addressing the challenges of sustainable development in the federal government. The government supports the committee's positive approach and constructive ideas.

The committee's recommendations in its report “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations” include broadening the purpose and scope of the act, adopting well-accepted sustainable development principles, increasing the number of federal entities that prepare a sustainable development strategy, establishing criteria for the targets, improving enforceability, and engaging and empowering Canadians.

Not only were the committee's recommendations helpful in developing the bill, but the report and the recommendation played an important role in establishing the 2016-19 federal sustainable development strategy, the FSDS.

First, the strategy recognizes the role of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and its global sustainable development goals. In fact, the FSDS targets are a reflection of environment-related sustainable development goals. We drew inspiration from international sustainable development goals and other international commitments in order to develop more ambitious and measurable goals, and we made a clear commitment to the principles and the adoption of a whole-of-government approach.

Reflecting the committee’s comment that sustainable development goes beyond the environment, the strategy includes goals with strong social and economic dimensions, including clean growth, clean drinking water, sustainable food, and safe and healthy communities.

Second, the strategy addresses the committee's recommendation for strong targets and increased accountability by including more ambitious and measurable targets compared with the draft 2016-19 strategy and past strategies. For example, it establishes a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal government operations by 40% by 2030, which is significantly more ambitious than the draft strategy’s 30%-reduction target. It also reflects the government’s commitment to address long-term drinking water advisories in first nations communities, replacing a previous target that did not directly address drinking water safety or quality.

Third, reflecting the committee’s recommendation to include short-, medium-, and long-term targets, the strategy includes new short-term milestones that complement its long-term goals and medium-term targets. These milestones will help the government to gauge progress toward the strategy’s goals and targets and, if necessary, to make course corrections during the strategy’s three-year cycle.

Fourth, it responds to the committee’s recommendation for a suite of well-accepted sustainable development principles by providing a clear commitment to principles beyond the two set out in the act: the precautionary principle and the basic principle that sustainable development is based on an ecologically efficient use of natural, social and economic resources. These principles include polluter pays, reconciliation, intergenerational equity, public participation, and integration.

Fifth, reflecting the committee’s recommendation for a whole-of-government approach, the 2016-2019 strategy provides broader participation across the federal government than ever before. Fifteen federal departments and agencies participate voluntarily in the strategy in addition to the 26 required to do so under the act.

This brings the total number of departments and agencies to 41, which is 8 more than in 2013-2016. The committee's recommendations have already had an impact on the FSDS.

Now, I want to take a look at the amendments before us. The revised purpose of the bill includes respect for Canada's domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development, such as the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This new purpose will bring the strategy in line with Canada's future obligations and commitments, as well as the changing priorities and decisions related to sustainable development.

The bill also includes new sustainable development principles that will be added to the act. The new principles include prevention of pollution, intergenerational equity, openness and transparency, the involvement of aboriginal peoples, collaboration, a results and delivery approach, and the preservation of the basic principle of sustainable development and of the precautionary principle.

These principles set clear guidelines to help departments develop their own sustainable development strategies and draft an annual report on their actions and results to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and to the corresponding Senate committee. Furthermore, the government will continue to publish a whole-of-government progress report on FSDS, at least once every three years, which will highlight actions taken by participating ministers and agencies and their results.

We also believe that the government should be a leader, which is why we think the Treasury Board should step up and ensure that the Government of Canada's operations are environmentally sound. Leadership from central agencies will establish guiding principles on the federal government's environmental footprint, providing for an integrated, pan-governmental approach. This way, the government will lead the way on cutting emissions.

In addition, the changes proposed would increase the number of federal agencies from 26 to more than 90, extending the scope of the act to federal institutions and agencies that have a considerable ecological footprint, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the National Energy Board.

The principles of openness and transparency will be strengthened by encouraging the release of information to support accountability. The bill also proposes that interdepartmental evaluation mechanisms be put in place, including requiring federal ministers to report annually to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and the corresponding Senate committee. These committees will play a key role by forcing the government to account for its sustainable development results and monitoring the implementation of the act.

For example, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in particular will play a central role in holding the government accountable for sustainable development results. It may monitor the implementation of our overall approach and ask departments to account for their progress in achieving the FSDS targets. Several other amendments will help make the federal sustainable development strategy even stronger.

The committee also proposed enshrining the principle of intergenerational equity in the act. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development supports intergenerational equity. Amendments to the act will result in a reform of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Council members will take into account demographic considerations such as age and sex so that the council is more representative of diversity and Canadian society.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we support Bill C-57 and the sustainable development strategy. Throughout the member's speech, I heard a number of phrases used, such as quality of drinking water, pollution prevention, polluter pays, a results-based approach, and the precautionary principle. Those are all great, and Conservatives support them.

However, I asked twice already today in the House, and both times did not receive an answer, how to square the idea of these good principles, these great-sounding words, with the actions of the Liberal government on the protection of our water and drinking water. In November of 2015, the government approved the dumping of eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River in Montreal. One would think that was just a mistake it made, but again, in 2018, in Quebec City, another 43 million litres of raw sewage were dumped into the St. Lawrence River.

How can we use these great principles and good-sounding words but not follow them up with action that actually protects our environment?

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member who just spoke said that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. The official opposition, the Conservatives, completely agree. Contrary to popular belief, Conservatives do not wake up every morning plotting to destroy the planet. We did a lot for the environment in the past.

The principles of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, are commendable. Nobody can argue with the bill's intentions. However, now that we know how this government operates, we have serious doubts about its intention to respect our environment, set clear benchmarks, and make Canada more attractive to foreign investors so we can grow the economy while respecting the environment. I would point out that Canada has some of the strictest environmental standards. The previous government, under Mr. Harper, did a lot for the environment.

As I was saying, the bill's principles are commendable, but we have some serious concerns. The Liberals have been kind of inconsistent and seem to have trouble keeping their promises. People are losing confidence in the government, especially when it comes to the environment. To substantiate that claim, I would refer to the commissioner of the environment, who, in her recent reports, commented that she is very disappointed in the results but congratulated the former Conservative government on its actions. That reflects well on us. People should stop saying that Conservatives wake up every morning looking for ways to destroy the planet because that is totally false.

I would like to come back to the minister's mandate letter, which reads, and I quote:

Canadians sent a clear message in this election, and our platform offered a new, ambitious plan for a strong and growing middle class. Canadians expect us to fulfill our commitments...

We can already see that the government has fallen short, just from that section of the environment minister's mandate letter. It goes on to say, and I quote:

If we are to tackle the real challenges we face as a country—from a struggling middle class to the threat of climate change—Canadians need to have faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen.

If members read the news and keep up with current events, they will see that Canadians are losing confidence in this government, particularly when it comes to the environment. Fine words are all well and good, but the government also needs to be clear and consistent. It needs to keep its promises. However, the government is not doing what it said it would in the environment minister's mandate letter and in the mandate letters of many other government ministers. The ministers are not keeping their promises and they are not necessarily being honest in their actions. They want to look good, but when it comes right down to it, they are not keeping their word.

The mandate letter also says, and I quote:

It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them.

The Liberals have a lot of trouble doing that and they wait a long time to own up to their mistakes. The opposition is forced to draw attention to those mistakes day after day until the government realizes that it needs to reconsider. The Liberals are not even following the instructions they gave their ministers in their mandate letters. The letter goes on to say, and I quote:

Canadians do not expect us to be perfect...

We do not pretend to be perfect, either, but it is important to aim for perfection, and that is not what the people on the other side are doing. The letter continues:

...they expect us to be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.

Speaking of honesty and sincerity, let us talk about the marathon study of Bill C-69 that we just finished. I have the privilege to sit on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, which came under pressure to hurry up. All the members of the House were pressured to hurry up, preventing us from doing our work properly. Even the Liberals presented over 100 amendments. We were inundated with more than 30 briefs a day for a month.

Let us do the math. Is it humanly possible for an MP to do their work properly under such conditions? Furthermore, all of the witnesses who appeared before the committee were also hurried along. Very few of them got selected. The number of witnesses was capped. Many witnesses were disappointed not to speak. The avalanche of briefs we got shows how important this issue is to all the witnesses from across Canada. The problem with this process is that we are being made to rush just to get it over with. My personal impression is that the Liberals are following a political agenda. They are not really trying to protect the environment with Bill C-69.

They rushed us, they bulldozed through the process, and they made an omnibus bill. It is more than 650 pages long. I do not claim to be an expert, but most, if not all, of the experts who testified before the committee said they were deeply disappointed with this bill. The committee even heard from a university professor who suggested scrapping the bill and starting fresh. That says it all. That suggestion did not come from the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. It came from a specialist who studies the environment on a daily basis.

I come back to the mandate letter for the Minister of Environment, whom I respect greatly, but who is guided by political agendas and opportunities. Unfortunately, she has no control over what happens in her department.

In partnership with provinces and territories, establish national emissions-reduction targets, ensuring that the provinces and territories have targeted federal funding and the flexibility to design their own policies to meet these commitments, including their own carbon pricing policies.

That is not what the Liberals did. They imposed the carbon tax and then left it up to the people to figure it out and do what they wanted. They cannot even tell us how this is going to reduce greenhouse gases. Take Australia, for example. That country implemented a carbon tax, but that tax no longer exists in Australia because it was ineffective.

Let us look at British Columbia and see whether greenhouse gases are on the rise or on the decline. That province has a carbon tax.

I am committed to leading an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, brings our country together, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds.

Considering what I said earlier, I do not think I need to comment. My colleagues can draw their own conclusions. We have serious doubts.

In her report, the environment commissioner emphasized that the Liberal government has not succeeded, I repeat, has not succeeded in reducing greenhouse gas emissions or adapting to the effects of climate change. I am not the one saying this. This is not partisanship, it is the environment commissioner who said so. I have much more respect for her than for our friends across the aisle. The commissioner clearly indicated that the Liberals have made no progress in honouring Canada’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She confirmed that there was a lack of leadership in adapting to the effects of climate change. We should not be surprised.

In the last Parliament, we, the Conservative members of the House, implemented important measures that enabled us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We cut them by 15%. That is something. We did such a good job that the Liberals used our targets when they went to Paris to negotiate the Paris Agreement. They submitted the targets the Conservative government set when it was in power, and they applied them. They spent their time criticizing our work, but they used our tools.

I could say considerably more, but I will allow my colleagues to ask me questions.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Deb Schulte Liberal King—Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Specifically, I will discuss how the bill supports a results-oriented, accountable approach to federal sustainability. As chair of the environment committee, I also want to mention how the bill has incorporated many of the environment committee recommendations that were tabled as the first report of the committee, and a unanimous report, I might add, which is why today is so confusing with what is being brought forward.

I will begin by speaking about how the federal sustainable development strategy, or FSDS, supports accountability and transparency. Next, I will discuss the indicators that will be put in place to measure progress and how they will help demonstrate sustainable development results. Finally, I will describe how the amendments in Bill C-57 would strengthen accountability in future strategies and how they would complement action already being taken under our current FSDS. This includes clause 5, which seeks to ensure the federal government's approach better reflects Canada's diversity and its heritage.

The government has committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency, and that includes being transparent and accountable when it comes to the sustainable development results we achieve for Canadians. The FSDS that was tabled in October 2016 reflects this commitment. It provides the foundation for accountability by clearly defining what government wants to achieve.

At the core of the strategy, there are 13 aspirational goals, supported by measurable medium-term targets. The strategy identifies the federal minister responsible for achieving each of those targets.

The sustainable development goals and targets support the vision that Canada is one of the greenest countries in the world and that we want our quality of life to continue to improve. The goals reflect the environmental sustainable development goals of the United Nations 2030 agenda, aligning Canada's strategy with the priorities of the international community.

Responding to the expectations of Canadians and the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, the strategy includes stronger and more ambitious targets than previous strategies tabled in 2010 and 2013.

For the first time, short-term milestones have been included in the strategy. These milestones will help ensure we are on track to achieve our medium-term targets and our long-term goals.

I will now discuss how we are measuring progress on those strategies and communicating our results to parliamentarians, stakeholders, and Canadians.

Our strategy identifies a total of 46 indicators that will help us measure and report on our goals and targets. They are based on sound science and track Canada's progress on sustainable development issues about which Canadians care, such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, water quality, and our protected areas.

Many come from a network of environmental monitoring programs from across the country. These science-based programs deliver the data and information needed for the indicators. Many are founded on collaborative partnerships with provinces and territories, our partners.

For example, the air quality indicators report to Canadians on levels of five key air pollutants that can affect their health. These indicators use data from sources like the national air pollution surveillance program and a collaboration between Environment and Climate Change Canada and provincial, territorial, and municipal environmental agencies.

Similarly, the indicator on water quality in Canadian rivers uses data from federal, provincial, and territorial monitoring programs across Canada, as well as water quality guidelines from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and provincial and territorial sources.

Drawing on the indicators, the FSDS includes starting points so Canadians can closely track the government's progress over the strategy's three-year cycle. For instance, the strategy indicates that in 2014, 64.4% of Canada's electricity came from renewable sources and 80% from non-emitting sources. Canada's target is for 90% of our electricity to come from renewable and non-emitting sources by 2030, and 100% in the long term. As of 2015, 10.6% of Canada's terrestrial area was protected. Our target is 17% of lands and freshwater conserved by 2020. As the strategy is implemented, the government has already begun to report on the results.

The first-ever FSDS update was published in June 2017. The updates have provided early results for short-term milestones and show that a number of them have already been accomplished.

For example, Canada has ratified the historic Paris agreement. The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change has been adopted by first ministers of the federal government and the 11 provinces and territories, an achievement about which we should feel quite proud. We have surpassed our target of protecting 5% of Canada's marine and coastal areas by 2017.

Through the tabling of a whole-of-government FSDS progress report that will draw on the indicators, the government will continue to report on sustainable development progress.

I will now describe how accountability and reporting will be enhanced, including through the amendments in Bill C-57.

Following our review of the FSDA in the spring of 2016, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development recommended that the government take action to strengthen accountability under the act. The government listened and has responded. Bill C-57 includes a number of amendments to significantly strengthen reporting and ensure that the government can be held accountable for results.

The bill provides a comprehensive suite of well-accepted sustainable development principles to guide future strategies. This includes a principle that a results and delivery approach is key to meeting measurable targets. This new approach clarifies the importance of developing objectives, developing strategies for meeting them, and using indicators to report on progress.

Bill C-57 would also require that each FSDS target be measurable and include a time frame. This would ensure that future strategies could support rigorous performance measurement and reporting.

The bill also specifies that departments and agencies across government are responsible for contributing to the development of FSDS progress reports. Sustainable development is not something that one department working on its own can accomplish. It is a whole-of-Government approach with a broad range of federal organizations that must play a role in developing, implementing, and reporting on the strategy.

Our approach must also reflect the input and perspectives of all Canadians, not just the perspective of government. This is why clause 5 of the bill, which addresses the composition and mandate for the sustainable development advisory council, is so important.

Under Bill C-57, the sustainable development advisory council would play an important role by advising the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that would be referred to it by the minister. More specifically, it would ensure the government would take a whole-of-Canada view, seeking the advice and expertise of Canadians that would reflect our country's diversity of background, ethnicity, age, gender, and circumstance.

Clause 5 also seeks to increase the number of indigenous people representatives on the council to better reflect indigenous groups represented and the broad range of challenges they face across Canada. This directly supports our efforts to forge new relationships with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

The government recognizes the importance of a transparent and accountable sustainable development approach. It is important that parliamentarians hold the government accountable for sustainable development goals and progress, and the amendments in the bill would strengthen and elevate their role.

The bill would require that all federal organizations bound by the act report each year to parliamentary committees, including the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, on progress in implementing their sustainability strategies. We found it was important to make them accountable back. We do not want to have to wait for the auditor to tell us what is going on. These strategies comply with and contribute to the broader FSDS and support the whole-of-government approach.

With this FSDS, which is the strongest to date, the government established ambitious goals, targets, and milestones that would let Canadians know where we wanted to be on sustainable development.

The indicators show the progress being made, drawing on sound science and high-quality data from across the country. The indicators will help determine whether we are on track to meet the targets and where we need to focus our efforts to address remaining challenges. They also form the basis of the reporting to parliamentarians and Canadians.

Strengthening accountability was a key issue and it was in the unanimous second report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I am very proud of our recommendations, the government's adoption of the recommendations, and the new bill that we are discussing today.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here this afternoon speaking to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I last spoke in the House at length on this bill in October 2017. I am thankful for the opportunity to have served on the environment committee for a while and have wrapped myself around this topic quite well.

What does it mean, and what is its purpose? I am going to refer to a specific section:

The purpose of this Act is to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy that makes decision making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament, promotes coordinated action across the Government of Canada to advance sustainable development and respects Canada’s domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development, with a view to improving the quality of life of Canadians.

There is another factor in that section I want to read:

the principle that sustainable development is based on an efficient use of natural, social and economic resources and the need for the Government of Canada to integrate environmental, economic and social factors in the making of all of its decisions;

I bring that up, because I am going to dwell on that later in my speech.

Our Conservative Party recognizes that sustainability needs to be included in every decision to ensure that there is a balance between social, economic, and environmental factors. We have always believed in that. The record will show that we are the only government in the last decade and a half that has a record of improving greenhouse gas emissions.

This type of policy-making ensures not only that today's generation will have a healthy and prosperous lifestyle but that we can pass health and prosperity on to future generations to come: my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, Mr. Speaker, and everyone else's.

The importance of sustainable development is something on which all parties agree. I do not think anyone disagrees that we have to protect the environment or that the environment can survive on its own but industry cannot. It needs to protect the environment, and I believe we all believe this and will fight for it very hard. This is proven by the fact that the report from the environment committee was unanimous. Sustainable development is so important to the future of Canada and to our grandchildren that not only should environmental factors be considered, but we need to also consider the social and economic pillars that surround them.

If we go back almost 10 years, then minister John Baird, under the Conservative government, supported a Liberal member's private member's bill regarding the federal sustainability act. The bill was passed, and we followed the guidelines. We had positive results, better than I can say from the current government. The act declares that all government decision-making be reviewed through an environmental, economic, and social lens. I want to stress the social lens and the appropriate balance. That is a bit of a rub.

I had a great working career in the RCMP. I have lived near the energy sector in Alberta and British Columbia since around 1986. I also had the opportunity, nearly 20 years ago, to work directly in the oil and gas sector as a regulator, as an enforcer, for the Province of British Columbia after I retired. I have a pretty good understanding of what goes on in relation to oil and gas exploration in Canada and the way we protect the environment.

Part of my job was to make sure that companies out there were doing their job to protect the environment. I will stand in this House all day long and wave the fact that I think Canada—the provinces of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and even a little has been done in Ontario and Quebec—has the greatest, strongest environmental standards in the world, and we produce the cleanest energy, regardless of what it is, whether it is coal, oil, or gas. We have such strong, stringent regulations that we should be proud of that fact.

Twenty years ago, the B.C. government realized that industry was hampered, government was hampered, the public was hampered, and aboriginal communities were hampered by overregulation. Too many departments, having separate control, were all fighting and vying to do their part to protect the environment and the government and to regulate industry. What did the B.C. government do? Twenty years ago, it realized that it needed to hire one person to oversee it and one person to try to bring it back together, and it did.

If my numbers are correct, we got rid of one-third of the regulations. Industry prospered. We developed a really good working relationship with aboriginal communities. They could understand what was going on and could work with the government and industry because of the way the regulations were modernized and improved.

If we look at this bill, I believe it says that it would require more departments and more agencies to contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy. It would bring the total to more than 90, from the current 26. My God, look back at history, folks. It does not work. We have to modernize it and make it efficient, effective, and understandable so that everyone can work together. If we make it too big, the government cannot control it. If we make it too complicated, industry and the people involved, whether it is on private or aboriginal land, cannot understand it. Here we are with a new bill trying to increase it by over three times. Let us get this thing back to reality.

I am sorry that I am a little scattered. I was told about this about 20 minutes ago, so I came in here and wrote some notes down from what I remembered.

As I said earlier, the environment committee did a fantastic job, and it had a unanimous report on this. Conservative members on the environment and sustainable development committee supported the changes to the FSDS. They wanted to ensure, as did the Liberal and NDP members, that economic, social, and environmental considerations were accounted for by the Government of Canada. They wanted to make sure that happened. They wanted to ensure that the act included measurable targets and enforceability.

Measurable targets and enforceability are so important. We can throw out a handful of rules, but if we cannot enforce them and cannot ever make that number, why put them out there? Make it reasonable for all the people participating, whether it is the aboriginal community, people living in the area, industry, or government. If we all work together and can understand what we are all doing together, we can accomplish a lot together.

My friend from the Northwest Territories understands what I am talking about when I talk about finding an appropriate balance between the environment, the economy, and their lives. We can get everything to work together, but we must make it balanced.

I am thankful for the opportunity to speak. I have more to say. I could probably have gone on another 10 minutes.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I will be sharing my time with the member for Whitby.

I would like to speak about an issue in relation to Bill C-57 that is really important, not just to all Canadians but to many of my Pontiac constituents. There are a great number of Pontiac residents who work as public servants within the federal civil service. Many of them, across all departments, recognize the importance of the federal government, as a whole, contributing to a greater degree to achieving our sustainable development objectives. It is for this reason that I rise with great pleasure today. It is important that we have a discussion about what the federal government can do as an entity to better the outcomes toward sustainable development. Whether it is with regard to climate change or a reduction in the use of toxic substances, this is an important issue in my riding.

Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, was introduced in the House on June 19, 2017 by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. It amends the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which has been in effect since 2008, and seeks to broaden the scope of that act, make the process for developing the federal sustainable development strategy more transparent, and increase accountability to Parliament.

The first thing that has to be said is that this Federal Sustainable Development Act is important, because it helps create a federal sustainable development strategy. To many Canadians, this is internal business of the government, and it is, but it is business that reflects the interests of all Canadians. If one considers how many buildings are operated by the federal government, how many cars are purchased by the federal government, and what kinds of procurement decisions are made by the federal government, one can see just how important and how impactful a federal sustainable development strategy can be.

The Act requires federal departments and agencies to prepare their own sustainable development strategies. Each strategy must contain the department or agency's objectives and plans, comply with and contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy, and be appropriate to the department or agency's mandate.

The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development is responsible for monitoring and reporting on the progress of departments and agencies in implementing their strategies.

This is a perfect example of how Parliament works under a Liberal government. In spring 2016, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development conducted an assessment of the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

This standing committee study was a perfect example of how Parliament can work when there is collaboration among different parties. This was actually the very first piece of work I had the privilege of being involved in with the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I would like to take this opportunity to commend my colleagues on the opposite side, both Conservative and New Democratic, and there was also some good input from our Green colleague, for working together in recognition of the fact that the Federal Sustainable Development Act is not a perfect law. One of the reasons it is not a perfect law is that, as I mentioned, it was in fact passed in 2008 as a private member's bill. The law itself did not emerge as a government bill back in 2008, and it needed some updating. Parties worked together in this committee and came forward with some really interesting proposals for reform. I should add that these proposals were unanimously agreed upon, and they were tabled here in the House by the chair of our committee.

This is the result of a positive process, a process the Minister of Environment and Climate Change clearly took note of. She herself responded very positively to our report. That is why we see Bill C-57, which reflects a number of the amendments proposed by our committee.

Our assessment revealed various weaknesses in the current process for developing and implementing the federal sustainable development strategy. The committee's report contained 13 recommendations to correct these weaknesses. The minister agreed, on behalf of the federal government, to propose changes to improve the act's effectiveness and the federal government's performance in sustainable development.

The bill makes more federal entities subject to the act. From now on, the act will apply to all designated entities, meaning all of the departments, agencies, and agents of Parliament named in schedule I.1 to the Financial Administration Act, and all departmental corporations listed in schedule II to that act.

We are talking about a much broader application of the Federal Sustainable Development Act, and that is a very positive development.

First, the legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy must now increase the transparency of federal decision making in relation to sustainable development rather than to the environment.

Second, the sustainable development strategy must now promote coordinated action across the Government of Canada to advance sustainable development and respect Canada’s domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development, with a view to improving the quality of life of Canadians.

The bill lists a number of principles that must be considered in the development of sustainable development strategies.

In addition to the principle that decisions are to integrate environmental, economic and social factors, the bill adds the principle of integenerational equity, the precautionary principle, the polluter pays principle, the internalization of costs, openness and transparency, the involvement of Aboriginal peoples, collaboration and a result-based approach.

I will have a few more things to say about the issue of principles in this bill, and I will come back to that momentarily.

There will also be improvements to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. The bill sets out the role of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, which is to advise the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that is referred to it by the minister. The bill also changes the council’s membership by increasing the number of aboriginal representatives from three to six, and adds a provision calling on the minister to ensure that, to the extent possible, the council’s membership reflects the diversity of Canadian society.

The bill amends the way in which designated federal entities develop their own sustainable development strategies and report on their progress. Under the new provisions, the Treasury Board may establish policies and directives regarding the environmental impact of the operations of designated entities, and designated entities must take these policies and directives into account when preparing their sustainable development strategies.

Lastly, the bill authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations prescribing the form and content of the sustainable development strategies of designated entities. The Governor in Council may also, by order, add or remove entities from the list of designated entities subject to the act.

The bill adds a new provision requiring a review of the act by a parliamentary committee—a House of Commons, Senate, or joint committee—every five years following the coming into force of the bill, which is a worthwhile initiative.

One aspect that makes this bill touch down is that it goes to how each department is going to become more sustainable in its everyday operations. For example, when departments like Global Affairs Canada make a commitment to buy more eco-friendly cars, hybrid or electric vehicles, or Heritage Canada commits to establishing electric recharge stations at Terrasses de la Chaudière, these are concrete measures. We need our departments to concretely make advances so that we can achieve sustainable development.

If there is one thing I would like to conclude with, it is simply that I look forward to a discussion before our standing committee during clause-by-clause, because there are aspects of this bill that can be improved, notably with regard to the addition of additional principles. However, all in all, I think the Minister of Environment is to be commended for this bill.