An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act



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

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

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


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


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

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Whitby Ontario


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

Madam Speaker, I am proud to stand here today to speak to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

I want to thank the House Standing Committee on Environmental and Sustainable Development for the recommendations for legislative amendments to strengthen the act.

In October 2016, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change agreed with the recommended amendments, and committed to report back within one year on action taken. The bill responds to the committee's recommendations by shifting the focus of the Federal Sustainable Development Act from planning and reporting to results, and increasing the accountability of departments and agencies for setting and achieving ambitious sustainable development targets.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, I understand that the 2030 agenda on sustainable development is the defining global framework of our time. I am glad that Canada is fully committing to the agenda, both at home and abroad.

It is here that I will start with an example of how Canada is achieving these sustainable development goals, the SDGs, worldwide.

In January, I had an opportunity to visit Ghana. Through the work of the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, administered by a local Ghanian non-governmental organization, A Rocha, it aims to empower community members, especially women, to sustainably manage their own mangrove resources, resulting in productive and profitable fisheries, coastal ecosystem conservation, and improved resilience and rural livelihoods. This project operates in two small communities in the coastal town of Winneba, Ghana, and seeks to build resilience against climate change and promote a sustainable multi-land use approach for the management of the mangrove ecosystems. It also works with women's groups to build their capacity, and the capacity of their members, for businesses and within the value chain. Finally, the project aims to restore the ecological integrity of degraded mangrove stands and the adjacent ground that surrounds them.

Often we think of development in terms of developing countries versus developed countries—it is here versus there—but in order to achieve the 17 goals and 169 targets, we need to work together. The interconnectivity of the sustainable development goals, the SDGs, forces us to work across country borders, and, of course, here at home across provincial borders as well. The ability to work together is best demonstrated through our young people.

In early June, I had the pleasure of meeting 40 children in grades three to 11 from Toronto and Niagara, through Millennium Kids. They presented me with gift boxes representing the SDGs that showed how the goals apply both at home and abroad. Millennium kids are interested in Canada's funding for development, its plan to implement SDGs, and building greater awareness for the SDGs. Young people, like those in Millennium Kids, will most be affected by the actions we take today, the actions we take to tackle the problems that face our world, including climate change. Their concerns should be our concerns. I am glad to see this legislation providing a roadmap toward solving the problem that will affect our youth for years to come.

Residents in my town of Whitby and the region of Durham understand as well that the changes we face can be summarized by warmer, wetter, and wilder weather. Durham's community climate adaptation plan includes 18 proposed programs that address local adaptation measures within Durham region. Since much of Durham's physical infrastructure was built in the 1950 to 2000 period, it was designed to be resilient to the climate in that period. The region understands that this climate no longer exists. Therefore, we not only need to upgrade our infrastructure to make it more resilient to the climate of the present, but to look ahead to see how we could build resiliency within our communities. Even within our small towns like Whitby, we are taking the necessary precautions to build a more resilient community.

On October 6, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change stood in this House and defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. I am glad that Bill C-57 includes an expanded set of sustainable development principles, including pollution prevention and intergenerational equity, the important principle that comes to mind when I think of the millennium kids and the residents of Whitby. Canadians of all ages have clearly told us that they want a sustainable future for Canada. This bill clearly shows that sustainable development and the environment are top of mind and a major priority for our government going forward.

In the time that I have remaining, I would like to demonstrate how our government has already proven, in the work that we have done so far, how we have committed to these 17 sustainable development goals. There is more that we can do, but we are building on a track record, and one that is positive.

On goal number one and goal number two, no poverty and zero hunger, we are developing a poverty reduction strategy. We have introduced legislation such as the Canada child benefit that will lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty and will give more money to nine out of 10 families.

When we look at goal number three, good health and well-being, we have made a commitment of $5 billion to ensure the mental well-being of our young people under the age of 25.

Goal number four is quality education. We are making it easier for adults to go back to school, boost their skills, and get new certification by expanding Canada student grants. We are creating thousands of new work and co-op opportunities so that people can have the skills they need to have a good quality of life.

Goal number five, which is central to my work within international development, is gender equality. We led by example with a gender-balanced cabinet. Budget 2017 was the first ever budget to include a gender statement. The Minister of International Development and La Francophonie delivered the most ambitious feminist international assistance policy, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs ensured that all our trade policies include gender equality.

Goal number six is clean water and sanitation. Our commitment to eliminate boil water advisories is something that remains top of mind for our government.

I could go on. Goal number eight is decent work and economic growth. We have recently announced that we are reducing the small business tax rate for small and medium-sized enterprises, ensuring that they are able to grow and create good-paying jobs.

Goal number nine takes into consideration the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. He has just announced the creation of a supercluster, which is a business-led initiative, partnering with SMEs, large businesses, small businesses, and academia.

I would like to end on what I think is one of the most essential of the sustainable development goals, which is goal number 17, around partnerships. Canada has been very diligent in ensuring that we are creating the necessary partnerships around the world with businesses, academia, with other neighbouring countries. As part of that, Jamaica, which is in the Caribbean, and Canada, have formed a group of friends looking at ways to explore how we are going to finance the SDGs. We have to think about our sustainable development in a broad context. We have to think about how we can all work together to not only communicate the goals of sustainable development but also ensure that we achieve them without leaving anyone behind.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
See context


Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

I had the pleasure of serving as vice-chair of the environment committee when we studied the Federal Sustainable Development Act, a study that has resulted in some of the amendments before us today.

As had been noted before, the original act was an opposition private member's bill that was passed in 2008 under our previous Conservative government. Our Conservative Party recognized that sustainability needs to be included in every decision to ensure a balance between social, economic, and environmental factors. 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. I have 11 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. I am very proud of them. I want them to have a good life, as I have had. I want them to enjoy what I have enjoyed travelling throughout this great country of ours. I want them to appreciate the beauty of this land.

The importance of sustainable development is something on which all parties agree. This is proven by the fact that the report by the environmental committee was unanimous. While we are on that, a number of the aboriginal witnesses who came, from coast to coast to coast, to give evidence at committee also agreed that it was very important for them to be involved and that sustainable development was part of the agreement made between Canada and the aboriginal community.

Sustainable development is important to the future of Canada and our grandchildren. Not only should environmental factors be considered but social and economical pillars should be considered. For example, the National Energy Board's mandate is to promote safety and security, environmental protection, and economic efficiency in Canada's public interest and the regulation of pipelines, energy development, and trade. This ensures that Canada's pipelines are built to protect our environment while they create jobs and get our oil to foreign markets. This is one of the reasons the National Energy Board gives compliance conditions to companies, with literally hundreds of conditions on the list.

Given the board's commitment, as well as the commitment of companies, to build safe pipelines in Canada, it baffles me why the Liberal government has found it so hard to make progress on pipelines, such as the now dead energy east pipeline and the gridlocked northern gateway pipeline.

Our party is committed to sustainable development, because it is about protecting our kids and grandchildren. However, it seems that the current government is having a hard time implementing any of its policies.

In a recent report titled “Departmental progress in implementing sustainable development strategies”, tabled by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the minister and her government were given failing grades in applying a cabinet directive. The directive requires federal departments and agencies to consider environmental concerns early in the planning of policy and program proposals before making irreversible decisions. The commissioner concluded that the directive has not been applied to almost 80% of the proposals, which is a clear failure by the Liberals. If the Liberals were in school, they would not have received a passing mark and probably would not have gone on to the next grade because of such a failure. The same thing applies in 2019. This is a one-term government. It has failed Canadians and the environment.

In another report, titled “Progress on Reducing Greenhouse Gases”, the commissioner concluded that the minister's department did not make progress toward meeting Canada's commitment to reducing greenhouse gases. Just before me, the hon. member for York—Simcoe talked about the Lake Simcoe project and Ladies of the Lake. He asked that we judge the Liberals on what they have done and not on the talk they are giving. The Liberals are all about talk and no action.

I find it hard to believe when the Liberal government says it is championing sustainable development and protecting the environment. According to the last surveys, the Liberals are not doing that. They are not doing any of that, nor are they protecting Canadian jobs in the process. With all this considered, it concerns me how the government is planning to protect future generations, not to mention the mountains of debt that the government is piling on our grandchildren, or the massive new taxes being proposed. Liberals really need to rethink their policy.

Liberals always say they have a plan, but we never see any action on that plan. It makes sense that economic, social, and environmental priorities be advanced through an integrated whole-of-government approach. We cannot advance one of these priorities while ignoring the others. This brings me to a point where I have a lot of concern. During the past break week, Parks Canada announced a hunt in Jasper Park. It was allowing aboriginals from B.C. to go into the park and hunt deer, elk, and sheep. No one was told about this until it slipped out that they were allowed to go into a designated area to shoot. Many of my hunting and fishing constituents are very upset about us taking animals from our national parks.

We cannot advance one of these priorities while ignoring the others, yet this is exactly what the Liberal government did in allowing a hunt in our national parks. It did not take everything into consideration. Canadians expect that their government will consider all three priorities when designing policy and legislation. I do not believe that last week the Liberals took all those priorities into consideration. They were trying to please a small group of Canadians and ignored the interests, economic viability, and the environment in doing so.

The Liberals seem to forget about the economic aspect. If we are going to allow hunting in our parks, one of the largest attractions in our national parks are the animals. When I travel through the national park going to Jasper, which is in my riding, I love to stop on the side of the road and look at the elk and deer. In fact, I feed approximately 15 deer in my yard every winter. I love watching them in front of the house, and they stay there during the day. It costs me a little money, but I believe I am helping the environment and I am helping the deer.

We have a government that is allowing people to go into our national parks and to hunt there just to meet some of the Liberals' ideas. They think they are doing the right thing. However, they are not consulting with all the groups that should be consulted. I know that many people working within the parks were very upset when this was brought to their attention only days before the hunt started.

Instead of considering the economic component, the government has completely neglected our economy and the importance of small businesses across Canada. As Conservatives, we have confidence in the private sector and small and large businesses. They all contribute to the prosperity of this country, and they should be encouraged rather than punished for the risk they take. The government's approach to sustainable development and its policies seems very lopsided from the economic factors.

I was extremely disappointed this summer when I learned what the government proposed to do with the tax changes for corporations. I was very sad to hear two weeks ago about the cancellation of the energy east pipeline. Why? It is over-regulated. Liberals changed the regulations midstream, making it economically not viable for the company to proceed.The government is throwing in rules and regulations to make it not economically viable to retrieve natural resources from this country that help our economy, help develop jobs, and so on.

I have heard from small business owners, farmers, nurses, doctors, and accountants from all over my riding of Yellowhead, who tell me that the tax changes would endanger their businesses and family farms. In my riding of Yellowhead, which is in Alberta, the effective tax rate on investment income could be well over 70%, and new capital gains rules would make it more expensive to pass down a family farm then to sell it to a third party.

I was serving at a farmers appreciation breakfast on Saturday in the community of Wildwood. A couple of people came to me who were very concerned about their children taking over the family farm. They are third generation, and their fourth generation wants to take over the farm, but they are terrified by this tax. They are not sure which way to go, whether they should sell it to an outside concern or see their children struggle to try to buy it due to the unfair tax system that the Liberal government is planning.

A just and fair tax system should reward success and reasonable risk-taking. Most small business people take a tremendous amount of risk.

My son-in-law is a small businessman. He has a small oil company in the town of Edson. He has been successful. His company has grown. He employs over 100 people during the winter months. He is taking a large financial risk to employ these 100 people and to increase the economy of the town of Edson, the riding of Yellowhead, the province of Alberta, and the economy of Canada. He takes the risk, yet the government across from us wants to punish him for taking that risk. If he makes a little extra money and puts it aside, the government wants to punish him and take it. The government wants to tax it, up to 73%. Is that fair?

Going forward, I hope the government will honestly consider sustainable development throughout its departments when drafting new proposals. Again I go back to the commissioner's report, which said that the government failed. There are 80% of departments that did not comply with what they were asked to do. That is alarming. It is a total failure.

One of the amendments to Bill C-57 would require more departments and agencies to contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy, bringing the total to 90 departments and agencies. That is a lot of departments. Currently, only 26 departments are affected.

The bill would also require them to prepare strategies and to table progress reports on their implementation. If we go by today's figures, a failure rate of 80%, only about 18 departments out of 90 would possibly do what they are supposed to do. That would be if we follow what has been happening over the last two years with the government. That is sad statistical data.

We cannot continue to be so short-sighted in policy-making that we rack up billions of dollars in debt, and yet the Liberal government is doing exactly that. When the Liberals were elected, they said they would have a small deficit of about $10 billion, but that grew to well over $30 billion in the first year and the second year. We will probably be shocked at what it will be in the third year, but we have to wait and see.

I have four children, and we taught them when they got their first credit cards that they should not accumulate long-term debt in exchange for short-term unnecessary spending. We taught them not to spree and buy things they cannot really afford, that it might be nice to have a credit card, but if they cannot pay for them, not to buy. The current Liberal government is not setting a good example for my grandchildren; your grandchildren, Madam Speaker; the grandchildren of the secretary of state across there; and the hon. member directly across from me whose son is in the RCMP and is going to have to pay. We need to be cognizant of the money that the government is spending.

However, let us remember one thing. Sustainable development is a requirement in this country. This is an energy-producing country, and whether mining companies, oil companies, or gas companies, if a sitting government puts numerous hurdles in front of them that make it impossible for the companies to do economic research and development, where is the money going to come from to pay the bills of the government? Right now, the Liberals are blocking that. The oil and gas sector was one of the largest contributors to Canada's economy, and the Liberals have made it virtually impossible to take the natural products from the earth, the oil and gas in the provinces of B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan, and get them to an international market. The government members across think it is all right that we can just ship it down to the United States and we should be happy with that. That is one market. It is a big brother that controls us pretty hard. Will we get fair world prices on our oil and gas products? The country of Canada would be much better off if we could get our products, especially the oil and gas, to our coastal ports. Whether it be the east coast or the west coast, or even into the James Bay area, it would make it very reasonable.

We heard discussions yesterday about the ban on oil tankers on the west coast of British Columbia. We heard people standing up across from us, over to our left, talking about how unsafe it was to have oil tankers on the west coast of British Columbia. Under the pressure of the current sitting Prime Minister, they want to put a ban on oil tankers on the west coast. It is so bad, but it is okay on the east coast. Yesterday, one of the Liberal members was talking about how bad it was. I explained that when they go up the inlet into Stewart, which is about 130 or 140 miles, the line goes up the centre, so on one side of the inlet they can have a tanker, and on the other half they cannot. The Liberals are trying to tell us, logistically, that it is unsafe on one half of the inlet but it is okay on the other half. This is the logic that the current government is passing on. When we go back to the commissioner, and I brought her up a few times, it is obvious that same logic is being passed down hill to our bureaucrats, because we failed.

The Liberals have not reduced greenhouse gases one bit since they have been in government. I can stand here and say that when the Conservatives were in government, we did decrease carbon gases, in transportation and in coal-fired energy. They cannot say that. It is a failing mark. It is easy to talk, but when we walk the talk, it is much more difficult. Our former Conservative governments walked the talk. The current government just talks the talk, and there is no form of action.

Therefore, I am looking forward to this bill moving to the committee stage, so that it can be studied more and have more input and more evidence received.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
See context


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise this afternoon to speak to the debate on the amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

The concept of sustainable development is not new in Canada. There have been a number of reports and bills on this topic. Sustainable development was first set as a goal in 1995 as part of the amendments to the Auditor General Act, which sought to create the position of commissioner of the environment within the Office of the Auditor General.

We have had laws on the books for some time that make sustainable development a goal of the Government of Canada. As I mentioned, since 1995 and the Auditor General Act, we have had a commissioner for environment and sustainable development to review government policies. We have also had federal sustainable development strategies. Since 2008, we have had this law, the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Canada has a long engagement with the term “sustainable development”. I want to retrace those steps briefly.

The term “sustainable development” was first used in 1987 in the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. This report was generally referred to as the “Brundtland Report” because it was a world commission of primarily people who had some role in political life. Gro Harlem Brundtland was prime minister of Norway at the time, which gave this UN effort quite a lot of prestige. She started out as chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development as leader of the opposition party in Norway. Quite extraordinarily, she stayed committed to this process. When the government fell, she became prime minister of Norway and continued as chair of the process.

Two notable Canadians participated in this process. One was the Canadian member of the commission itself, Maurice Strong, who I met at the time in the late 1980s when I was working for the minister of environment. The federal Government of Canada, at that time, under the leadership of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, played a significant role in helping to fund the work of the work of the Brundtland commission.

More significant with respect to the creation of the term sustainable development, the man who held the pen in writing “Our Common Future”, the report of the Brundtland commission, became one of my very best friends, Jim MacNeill. He passed away a little more than a year ago. He was secretary-general to the World Commission on Environment and Development. He is the only person I know to have written a bestselling book without his name on the cover.

“Our Common Future” sold in many languages and sold around the world. It put in place the goal that in order to ensure countries and people, including Canada, who lived in poverty, could be raised out of poverty and at the same time limit the damage done by a consumerist industrialized society in destroying our environment, we needed to ensure that we developed to lift people out of poverty but do it in a way that did not destroy the life chances of peoples around the world, and particularly future generations.

The goals of the sustainable development strategies as put forward by the Brundtland commission rested on three legs, not two. It was not merely environment and development, but environment, development, and peace to which the Brundtland report directed its attention. It called for a limiting of military spending, attention to the need to end wars, and to end the environmental damage of the military industrial complex.

By the time the Brundtland commission report went to the United Nations General Assembly, the goals of peace and non-violence and ending military spending were set aside. It was the Brundtland commission report's recommendations around sustainability that led to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The acceptance of the framework convention on climate change and our entire agenda on fighting global warming by reducing greenhouse gases can all be traced back to this document from 1987 written by Jim MacNeill and endorsed by world leaders.

The term sustainable development in the Brundtland commission report is the one that more or less appears in Bill C-57. There were a number of definitions, in fairness, within the Brundtland commission report entitled “Our Common Future”. The one that seemed to achieve the most salience, which appears in somewhat changed form as a principle within a number of principles in this revised act is the following.

The principle of sustainable development is based on the ecologically efficient use of natural, social, and economic resources and the need for the Government of Canada to take environmental, economic, and social factors into consideration in every decision it makes.

That is a slight change, as we can see from the Brundtland definition, which was that sustainability and sustainable development required that the current generation develop in ways that did not jeopardize the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, the intergenerational equity piece was very strong.

Intergenerational equity then appears in the second part of principle 5 under this act, “that it is important to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. In taking this forward, the act has broken apart in two pieces, but I do not think it has done damage to the concept.

The principle of sustainable development was taken forward by the Government of Canada and we became one of the leaders of the world in operationalizing the Brundtland commission report when we put in place the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. This was the primary mechanism of the Government of Canada in ensuring sustainability. It was brought in under former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The act on which it was based was repealed in Bill C-38 in the spring of 2012 in the omnibus budget bill bulldozed through by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I do not know how many people even remember that is how the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy was eliminated, because that bill touched over 70 different laws and ran to over 400 pages. People could be forgiven for forgetting the various pieces and how they bulldozed forward.

This piece of legislation comes at a good time.

On October 3, 2017, Julie Gelfand, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development in the Office of the Auditor General, released a very serious report. She said it is clear that this government, like its predecessors, has no chance of meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets. Here it is in her words:

Climate change is one of the defining issues of this century. It will require a whole of government approach. It's time to move from planning to action.

Clearly, time is of the essence. The Government of Canada and all of the people on this planet are in an emergency situation because climate change grows worse by the day and we are still without an action plan to reduce greenhouse gases. However, we do have targets, and I think we also have the will to meet them. I think this government's desire to reduce greenhouse gases is genuine, but the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development made it clear that there has been too much talk and not enough action.

If we had a sustainable development strategy that was working, that touched all aspects of government, we would have a response to the single greatest threat to our future in climate change.

This bill, which I support, creates an opportunity that perhaps is more significant than members in this place realize as we debate this bill and take it forward to committee. The opportunity is here. Again I want to thank the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for its report in June of 2016. Most of the committee's recommendations were unanimous, and are coming forward in this bill. I will pause to note some that are not.

However, the committee did good work after having heard from many witnesses. One witness, who I am very proud to say is also my constituent, is one of Canada's leading experts in environment and sustainable development. Professor David Boyd described the current bill as a disaster.

I want to go back and say, as I did in earlier questions and comments, that the sustainable development bill that came forward in 2008 was based on a private member's bill from a member of the opposition, a Liberal member of Parliament, a former cabinet minister in the government of the former prime minister Paul Martin, a very dedicated parliamentarian who was very committed to climate action, and a dear friend of mine.

I mean no criticism of the Hon. John Godfrey when I say that the current bill is too weak. He had to get a private member's bill in 2007 in the time of a minority Parliament where the prime minister was Stephen Harper, the minister of environment was the Hon. John Baird, and there was tremendous co-operation to get this bill through before John Godfrey resigned from Parliament. It was a tremendous effort and success. We got a sustainable development act, but it did not call on the government to adopt a whole-of-government approach. The strategies around sustainable development were essentially environment strategies.

I also want to share this with the members of this place. We are told to get Christmas card designs in to the House of Commons print shop to receive free Christmas cards to send to all our constituents. However, I want to warn members that they will not be on recycled paper. Members might think that, having had a sustainable development strategy act since 2008, something as basic as the Parliament of Canada having Christmas cards on 100% post-consumer waste card stock would not be a current issue of concern. I hate to tell members this, but by ordering Christmas cards through the free available Christmas card stock, it is not from recycled paper.

It is virgin non-recycled paper.

I know that all of us would rather have our Christmas cards go out on recycled paper. That is a basic thing, as well as that the parliamentary dining room would serve seafood that does not come from an endangered species, and does not contaminate coastal waters because it is farmed salmon. I have written to the Board of Internal Economy and to the Speaker about this. I tried over the years to figure out how to control the decision-making by the wonderful staff in the terrific parliamentary dining room. The chef is wonderful and I do not mean to criticize. However, the staff does not have the scope to ensure that they can spend the money on ethical seafood for parliamentarians and their guests. Therefore, one has to be very careful when looking at the menu.

One would think these are basics for the Government of Canada, having had a sustainable development strategy since 2008. I do not think Canadians would be surprised to find that it had not radically reformed our attitude towards fossil fuels. Members might have hoped the strategy could do the little stuff, such as use recycled paper for Christmas cards, have ethical seafood in the parliamentary dining room, and not allow cars to idle outside Parliament Hill. That was a role, by the way, put in place by former speaker John Fraser when he was Speaker of the House in a document called “Greening the Hill” in which he required recycled paper, no idling of cars, and no use of pesticides on parliamentary lawns. That one is still in place. I hope what this bill does is to ensure the little stuff is done. More than that, it is my hope that some of the large goals can be achieved based on the changes in this act.

What are the places where we are looking at sustainable development now globally in 2017? Our biggest challenge is the sustainable development goals that were adopted by the United Nations in September 2015.

There are 17 sustainable development goals, and they have within them 169 specific targets to be achieved by 2030. They include such things as taking care of oceans, and a specific goal of stopping the dumping of plastics in our oceans. They include eliminating poverty. They include education for women and girls. These are broad and critical sustainable development goals, all 17 of them, and they apply domestically to industrialized countries, just as they apply globally, and create pressure for industrialized countries to do more in official development assistance to lift all people of this planet out of poverty. We can do it, we have the resources to do it, and that is a sustainable development goal.

I should also mention rights of indigenous peoples. In the Brundtland report, “Our Common Future”, it is very clear that an essential aspect of sustainable government are rights of self-determination for indigenous peoples. Therefore, I would submit to the House that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is part and parcel of the sustainable development goals, which are now called the SDGs of the United Nations system.

I will now return to Bill C-57 that we are debating.

I like the “Purpose” language under the act:

The purpose of this Act is to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy that makes decision making...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.

The international piece is important here as well.

I do not think there is a single department of the Government of Canada that will not find itself challenged to take these principles on board seriously, develop a strategy, and report to Parliament. These principles now include: openness and transparency; indigenous engagement; intergenerational equity; and social, economic, and environmental sustainability. These are all positive changes.

However, there is one change that I find problematic, and that is the deletion of the requirement under the previous act of performance-based contracts, which is found in section 12 of the act as it exists right now. It reads:

Performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada shall include [which is mandatory language] provisions for meeting the applicable targets referred to in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy

The parliamentary committee makes a reference to the performance-based contracts but does not suggest that the section be deleted. It suggests that it be given more specificity and applied to more entities. Therefore, I find it a little disturbing that, having done such a good job overall in drafting amendments to Bill C-57, performance-based contracts are removed. One of my law professors used to refer to something like this as having a lot of “weasel words”. This is now replaced with proposed section 10.1 under “Power of Treasury Board”.

10.1 The Treasury Board may establish policies or issue directives applicable to one or more of the designated entities in relation to the environmental impact of their operations.

In other words, that proposed section is a big fat nothing compared to the performance-based contracts section that exists in the current act. Therefore, I certainly will be taking amendments forward to committee, when the bill goes to committee, in hopes of preserving the existing section 12 for performance-based contracts.

Overall, Bill C-57 cannot come too soon. Sustainable development has been on the lips of Canadian politicians, who did not have any idea what it really meant, for decades now. If we are serious about this, it is about equity between a wealthy, industrialized country like Canada, and people who are the poorest of the poor living on this planet right now with us: our human family.

It is also about equity in intergenerational terms. I am a grandmother, but I do not have the right, nor anyone in our baby boom generation that just had a great big party since the end of the Second World War, to leave the ecological damages and ecological debt on our kids' credit cards. We do not have the right to deprive children born today of their access to a healthy and sustainable biosphere to live out their lives without fear of annihilation.

We are on the cusp of the last moment we can save this place. Let us get this bill to committee, and let us get a climate change plan under way immediately.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2017 / 10 a.m.
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Ottawa Centre Ontario


Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

moved that Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to speak about Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. This is an important step toward realizing our government's vision that Canada be one of the greenest countries in the world and that our quality of life continue to improve.

I am proud today to speak about C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. This is an important step toward fulfilling our government's vision of making Canada one of the greenest countries in the world and ensuring that our quality of life continues to improve.

As I will explain, the amendments in the bill clearly show that sustainable development and the environment are at the forefront of our thinking and that our government's decision-making going forward will reflect this. I will discuss how these amendments would increase transparency and enable a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development, building on the current act and its implementation.

I will talk about the contributions of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development and how the amendments would respond to them. Finally, I will describe how the bill would support an ongoing conversation with indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and all Canadians about sustainability and the environment.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge all the people who have helped to lay the foundation for the bill. First, I want to thank the chair and the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, as well as the witnesses who appeared before them during the committee's recent review of the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The committee's second unanimous report, “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”, provided insights and recommendations that were instrumental in shaping the amendments.

I want to thank the hon. John Godfrey for bringing forward the original private member's bill that became the FSDA, establishing the foundation for a federal sustainable development strategy. I also want to thank my colleague and parliamentary secretary, the member for North Vancouver. His hard work and his leadership have helped us move beyond commitment and aspiration to the bill before us today.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is at the heart of our government's agenda and priorities. Since the very beginning, we have consistently said that a healthy environment and a strong economy can and must go hand in hand.

The act also promotes integrated, coordinated action across government by requiring 26 departments and agencies to prepare their own sustainable development strategies that comply with and contribute to the federal strategy.

The federal sustainable development strategy that I presented a year ago today has shown what can be accomplished within the act's framework. It is bolder than previous strategies because it proposes 13 ambitious, long-term objectives that support the environmentally based sustainable development goals of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. It responds directly to the interests and priorities of Canadians. We are listening to them. We held over four months of consultations with the public and stakeholders, and we share Canadians' priorities, whether we are talking about the fight against climate change, healthy ecosystems, clean drinking water, or food security.

By going above and beyond what the law requires, we included more federal departments and agencies in our strategy than ever before. In response to a recommendation of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to take a whole-of-government approach, 15 organizations are voluntarily contributing to the 2016-2019 federal sustainable development strategy, on top of the 26 organizations that are already legally required to participate. That means a total of 41 federal departments and agencies have a role to play in making our vision for sustainable development a reality. That is eight more than in the 2013-2016 federal sustainable development strategy for Canada.

Building on the act's commitment to transparency and accountability, we have also committed to updating our strategy on an ongoing basis to ensure that Canadians and parliamentarians can closely track our accomplishments and results. We have acted on this commitment, publishing the first update to our strategy in June. That update shows that we have already achieved a number of the short-term milestones set out in our strategy, such as ratifying the historic Paris Agreement.

Now, just this week, we are tabling more than 20 departmental sustainable development strategies for organizations across the federal government. These strategies set out concrete commitments that will help us deliver on the goals and targets of the federal sustainable development strategy. By adding this substance and detail to our plan, the strategies will ensure that Canadians have a clear picture of what our government is doing to advance sustainable development in Canada.

We have accomplished a lot, but we are committed to doing more toward implementing a renewed federal sustainability approach built on accountability, inclusiveness, and an ongoing dialogue with indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and all Canadians. Bill C-57 reflects this renewed approach. It would raise the bar for transparency and reporting; create a truly whole-of-government system of sustainable development planning, reporting, and action; and ensure that sustainable development strategies are inclusive and support our commitment to future generations.

Transparency and accountability to Parliament are at the core of the current FSDA. They were key issues for the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development as it conducted a review of the act, and they are central to the amendments set out in this bill.

Parliamentarians have always played an essential oversight role with respect to how the government keeps its promises and delivers sustainable development results. This bill will augment and strengthen their role by requiring every department and organization to submit, to parliamentary committees, an annual report on progress toward meeting sustainable development targets.

It will also ensure that sustainable development strategies include firm targets so parliamentarians and Canadians can hold the government to account. Building on the existing act, the proposed amendments in this bill will make it clear that federal sustainable development strategy targets must be measurable and have set deadlines.

Sustainable development cannot be limited to one department or agency. Organizations across the federal government play a role in protecting and restoring Canada's environment and in improving Canadians' quality of life. As I have said, we have already increased the number of participating departments far beyond the 26 that are named in the act. These amendments would take us further, expanding our whole-of-government approach to more than 90 departments and agencies. These would include organizations with a significant environmental footprint, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. So we can maintain the whole-of-government approach even when circumstances change, the bill would enable the government to add or remove organizations from the act.

All these amendments would align with our commitment to openness and transparency and to leading by example. Amendments that require strong sustainability targets and accountability for results would also support our commitment to future generations to address climate change, develop our natural resources responsibly, develop the clean-growth economy, and modernize environmental assessment and regulatory processes.

Now I would like to discuss the work and recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development that have contributed to the amendments in Bill C-57.

Acting on our strength of conviction, we have taken truly meaningful steps, such as ratifying the Paris agreement, working with the provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples to develop the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, and making new investments in clean technology and green infrastructure.

We have also pledged our support to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the global anti-poverty framework that leaves no one behind. The 2030 agenda's 17 universal goals signal a renewed global desire to make sustainable development a reality, and we want Canada to play a leading role in that movement.

I have already mentioned the invaluable contributions the committee made through its review of the FSDA last year in its report, “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”. In that report, the committee stressed that the amendments to the act must begin with its purpose. I agree. Bill C-57 includes a revised purpose for the act, shifting the focus of our sustainable development strategy from short-term planning to long-term vision. It places the focus on inspiring economic, social, and environmental advancement toward a better future.

The committee suggested that the government review the use of principles in the FSDA, and Bill C-57 will add new, generally accepted sustainability principles to the act. Two basic principles are already set out in the act: the precautionary principle, which states that if there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation, and the basic principle that sustainable development is based on an ecologically efficient use of natural, social and economic resources.

These are essential principals, but other principles are also needed to provide departments and agencies, and the ministers themselves, a clear direction when preparing sustainable development strategies and measures. Bill C-57 will incorporate seven new sustainability principles, including intergenerational equity, a polluter-pays approach, and the internalization of costs. The committee highlighted the need to involve key organizations in promoting sustainable development within the government, and that is what we have done.

In 2016 we established the Centre for Greening Government within the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. The centre's role is to track federal greenhouse gas emissions centrally, coordinate efforts across government, and drive results. Through the centre, the Treasury Board Secretariat has taken on an instrumental role in advancing our commitment to reduce federal greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. The amendments to this bill would build on this, formalizing the Treasury Board's role in developing policies related to reducing the government's environmental footprint and ensuring that departments and agencies take these policies into account in preparing their sustainable development strategies.

Again, let me commend and thank the chair and members of the standing committee for their efforts in reviewing the Federal Sustainable Development Act and formulating their recommendations. This is how Parliament should work. The standing committee has tabled a thoughtful and unanimous report, and our government is responding with concrete changes. I want to thank all the members.

With the 2016-2019 federal sustainable development strategy, we have completed the first step in implementing the committee's report. Our strategy responded to its recommendations with more ambitious and measurable targets and a clear commitment with regard to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and the core principles of sustainable development. Bill C-57 is the next step. The committee underscored the need to amend the legislation. We listened. This bill makes the necessary legislative changes to support a more inclusive, responsible, and integrated approach to federal sustainability. I want to emphasize how much I appreciate the efforts of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, and I hope this excellent collaboration continues.

I would like to go on now to discuss how we are engaging indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians on sustainable development.

As we acknowledged in our strategy, our government cannot achieve sustainable development alone. It requires action across Canadian society: by provinces, by territories and communities, by indigenous governments and organizations, and by business and civil society. In fact, as our strategy makes clear, all Canadians have a role to play in building a more sustainable Canada.

The FSDA recognizes the need for an inclusive approach by requiring the government to consult with the public and stakeholders on each new federal sustainable development strategy.

It also establishes the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, which I chair, and which includes representatives of each province and territory, indigenous peoples, business, environmental non-governmental organizations, and labour. The input that Canadians provided through public consultations, including advice from the council, shaped our current strategy. Their comments showed that Canadians are passionate, engaged, and informed about sustainable development and the environment. Between February and June 2016, we received hundreds of comments on the strategy from people and organizations from coast to coast to coast.

Canadians have sent us a clear message that they support the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and they want us to take bold action on climate change. They have told us that they want mandatory and ambitious sustainable development objectives, clear and measurable targets, as well as concrete action plans. They also told us that our government's strategy should be a call-to-action that shows what every Canadian can do for the environment and sustainability.

As I explained, the strategy I tabled last October includes a response to the priorities expressed by Canadians as well as the international community. For instance, for the first time, the federal sustainable development strategy includes a target for sustainable food, something that has been neglected thus far, according to Canadians. Our strategy also includes information on things that every Canadian can do to help us achieve our sustainable development goals.

We are also committed to continuing the dialogue with our partners, stakeholders, and all Canadians as we roll out our strategy, which goes above and beyond the requirements of the act regarding consultation.

Indigenous peoples, communities, provinces, territories, and Canadians expect to be heard when it comes to the economy and the environment. Since tabling our strategy, we have maintained an ongoing conversation with Canadians to let them know what the government is doing, and to learn about their own actions to support sustainable development.

We will continue to engage with them on how we can use a strengthened FSDA to ensure that Canada is a sustainability leader. We want to hear from Canadians about how we can address climate change, support and promote innovative technologies, strengthen our economy, and create good-paying jobs for Canadians in the clean-growth century.

The amendments in Bill C-57 will support engagement by strengthening the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. The council brings together passionate, knowledgeable people from all sectors of Canadian society. It provided important input into our 2016-19 federal sustainable development strategy. For example, our ambitious target for clean water in first nations communities responds to the council's advice, along with comments from other organizations and Canadians.

With this bill, we have the opportunity to enhance the role of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council through legislative change. We recognize that the involvement in indigenous peoples in environmental and sustainable development policy is essential. These amendments would ensure that their voices are heard, by doubling the number of representatives of indigenous people sitting on the council from three to six.

In conclusion, the Federal Sustainable Development Act has had a positive impact on federal sustainability, helping us move towards transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, and a whole-of-government approach. However, our government is determined to do more.

With the renewed approach to sustainable development that this bill represents, sustainable development strategies will be guided by sustainable development principles and a more ambitious purpose that combines transparency and accountability with the aspiration to advance sustainable development in Canada and improve Canadians' quality of life.

Guided by the sustainability reports, our renewed approach will reassert and reinforce the role of parliamentary committees through a new requirement for an annual report from departments and agencies on their contribution to achieving our sustainable development targets.

The work of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development has guided our approach, and the committee will play a key role going forward in holding the government accountable for results. This is the beginning of the next chapter in Canada's sustainability story. An amended act will provide the framework for action to fulfill our domestic and international sustainability commitments.

With the support of my colleagues, I am confident that we can achieve our vision of a clean environment, a sustainable economy, and a better quality of life for all Canadians.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the minister for bringing forth Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The minister is very well aware that the environment is a very important issue in Hamilton. It is a priority for Hamiltonians. I know the minister is aware of that, because she is a Hamilton girl and a Hamilton woman.

The latest meeting I had with members of a local environmental group was this past Friday, a week ago today. I know that they, as well as all Canadians, want to pass on to the minister how proud they are of the work she has done. When we look at the Paris accord and the consensus-building that she was able to attain there, as well as the price on carbon, we are all very proud of the leadership and the passion that this minister has demonstrated.

One of the questions that continuously comes up with constituents in my riding is that they want to be assured that sustainable development and the environment are at the forefront of the government's decision-making with respect to all issues that come forward. I know that this bill does that. However, I wonder if the minister could expand on how this bill would assist in ensuring Canadians that sustainable development and the environment are at the root of all decisions that are made by this government.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to engage in this debate on amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act, Bill C-57. I believe Canadians understand that when governments make policy decisions, they should make those decisions through a lens that takes into account Canada's economic imperatives, our social imperatives, and our environmental imperatives.

The original act, as my colleague, the minister, mentioned, was passed a few parliaments ago, in 2008, under then environment minister John Baird. As members know, in majority governments, opposition private members' bills do not get passed unless they have the support of the government of the day. That is what happened here. Our government very quickly realized that sustainability had to be baked into everything the federal government did to ensure an appropriate balance between social, economic, and environmental factors within Canada. Therefore, we supported that act.

Upon further study at committee recently, of which I am a member, and was pleased to be part of the deliberations that gave rise to the report, and when we reflected on the act as it presently stood, it had a number of flaws that needed to be corrected. There was consensus at committee on the items that needed to be corrected. We were able to issue a consensus report, which is not always that common when there is a majority government that is fixated upon imposing its will on Parliament.

The act itself requires that all government decision-making is done with a view to future generations. I am glad my colleague, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, recognized the fact that the committee recommendations talked about the intergenerational nature of sustainability. Therefore, policy-making will be viewed through the lens of environmental, economic, and social factors to ensure that not only will today's generation have a lifestyle we can applaud, but is one that we can pass on to future generations to take up and build upon.

There are a couple of the things the proposed bill will do to amend the act. It will make more robust the provisions that require government agencies and departments to provide regular reports on their progress by ensuring they meet our sustainability goals. The number of departments and agencies has been significantly increased, those that fall under the act. They will be subject to a review of all policy-making through the lens of the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Beyond that, there is an increase in the number of members of the advisory council that provides advice to the minister. There also are a number of items that we will likely bring forward amendments on at committee, for example, that the advisory council members be paid. Every time the Liberals come up with a new policy, or new legislation, or new regulation, they always increase the number of people who get paid. That costs the taxpayers money. As Conservatives, we can say, with absolute conviction, that we have always defended the interests of Canadian taxpayers. That is why we will bring forward amendments at committee.

We have had the Federal Sustainable Development Act in place since 2008, close to 10 years, and the Liberal federal government has been in place for two years. It has had the chance to understand the act and to apply it across all agencies and government to ensure our sustainable development goals are met. Canadians have the right to ask this. What kind of progress has the government and the minister made?

It just so happens that this week, when we began debate on Bill C-57, the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development issued what was effectively an audit report under the Auditor General of Canada, highlighting the performance of the government and the Environment Minister when it came to sustainability and the environment. This is a damning indictment of the Liberal government's performance, not only on the environment file but on sustainability writ large.

I will go to the first report, which addresses the progress that might have been made on reducing greenhouse gases. Remember, the Liberal government boasted in the last election that it was the only party that could address Canada's climate change challenges. The Liberals have had two years to work on it. One would imagine, with all the rhetoric we have heard from them and from the minister, that there would be significant progress made. What is the conclusion of the Auditor General? It is an F, a failing grade. She said:

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

It gets worse. She went on to say:

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

With all the rhetoric we heard during the last election and over the last two years, and the minister always talking about the environment and the economy going hand in hand, I would expect some progress would be made. However, the report says “no progress”. It is not just that there was insufficient progress, or not enough progress. The commissioner said that no progress was made, which is pretty damning. In the meantime, the one thing the minister and her government did was impose a massive carbon tax on Canadians, which is sucking dry the pockets of Canadian taxpayers.

It gets worse. The second report, which was issued this past Tuesday, on page 27, states:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...did not provide adequate leadership to advance the federal government’s adaptation to climate change impacts.

It highlights a lack of federal leadership from the minister. It goes on to say that:

Most of the federal departments and agencies we examined did not take appropriate measures to adapt to climate change impacts...As a result, the federal government could not demonstrate that it was making progress in adapting to a changing climate. Stronger federal leadership is needed.

What a damning indictment of the Liberal government and the minister's performance on the environment file.

I believe Canadians can draw the conclusion that the Liberal government cannot be trusted. It would not be an unfair conclusion to make. When we look at the government's record on other issues, it is very clear the government, which made so many promises during the election, has now become a monument to broken promises.

The last two years are littered with broken promises. For example, on deficits, members will remember the Prime Minister said that the Liberals would run a $10 billion deficit. That was his word. Canadians took him at his word, and they elected him. Today we are looking at annual deficits of $30 billion a year. It is a huge broken promise. These deficits will be run in order to spend, spend, spend, not on the priorities of taxpayers, but on the priorities of the Liberal government.

Remember electoral reform, the promise that it would be the last election under the first past the post system? That is another broken promise, and what a fiasco that was. The minister lost her job as a result of that. Quite frankly, the buck should have stopped at the Prime Minister's desk. He was the one who initiated that failed process. He had promised Canadians he would consult broadly, that it would be a fair process, that he would divine some kind of a consensus out of the process and then move forward. Did that happen? No. It was a debacle. At the end of the day, the Prime Minister said that because he could not find consensus, he would break that promise of electoral reform. It is a disgrace.

Then there is the whole issue of taxes, taxes here, taxes there, such as a carbon tax and a payroll tax. The most recent debacle the government engaged in was to bring forward reforms that would impose a huge tax burden, not on the big fat cats, not on the rich people in Canada, but on small businesses. We are talking about mom and pop shops, the pizza owner in my community, who employs his family and maybe some other employees. They are working hard to scrape by, earning maybe $50,000 to $80,000 a year. The government has now determined they should be the target of tax increases. These are not tiny tax increases like the tiny deficits the Prime Minister promised in the last election. He proposes to tax small businesses across Canada at a rate of 73%. It is disgraceful.

The government will take the revenues from the savings of these businesses and tax them at 73%. I have talked to businesses in my community. I have held round tables on this business tax. The business people, the ones who have the small business operations, which are the backbone of our economy, are outraged that the government, the Prime Minister, and the Finance Minister would tax small businesses at a rate of up to 73%. However, the finance minister's billion dollar company, called Morneau Shepell, will not be impacted. It will pay lower taxes on half-a-billion dollars worth of income every year. This is one of Canada's largest companies.

The Prime Minister, who has benefited from a trust fund, a family inheritance, his investments, will not be impacted by the changes brought forward by the Minister of Finance. Again, this is a breach of trust.

The government wants us to trust it. When it talks about the federal sustainability act, it wants us to trust that it will get it done. It promised Canadians it would protect the environment. It promised Canadians that the economy and the environment would go hand in hand. I remember the environment minister saying that time and time again. She said it again today, and we will probably hear it in question period.

What happened? Instead of understanding the economic component, the government has completely neglected our economy and the importance of small businesses across Canada. Ninety-eight per cent of all businesses across Canada are small businesses. They are the backbone of our economy. The Minister of Finance, aided and abetted by the environment minister, are attacking the very people who build and sustain our economy. Not only are they doing that, the government is proposing to introduce tax laws that will make it more difficult for farmers and owners of small businesses to transfer their businesses to the next generation. That is why it is ironic to hear the minister talk about how important it is to look at the intergenerational impacts of our policies.

If she is talking about the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which is supposed to marry the environment and the economy, why has her government completely forgotten about the economic component? It is unbelievable.

When we were elected, we predicted that the Prime Minister was making promises far beyond what he could deliver on. We knew that he was making promises that were raising the expectations of Canadians and that he would never meet those expectations. Guess what? We have been proven right. Day after day there is a new fiasco, a new scandal.

There is no transparency. Do members remember the mandate letters that the Prime Minister issued to every single one of his ministers, including the environment minister? I have read through that mandate letter many times, and I am thankful to the Prime Minister for giving us a glimpse of what he was hoping would happen here in Canada and here in this House. That mandate letter said that the Prime Minister wanted to set a higher bar for transparency and openness in government and wanted to set a higher bar for addressing conflicts of interest, such that not even a perceived conflict of interest would be acceptable to the Prime Minister.

However, we have seen that in attacking small Canadian businesses with his tax reforms, the Minister of Finance stands to benefit from changing tax laws. Forcing small Canadian companies to de-incorporate would force those business people to invest in private pension funds and to have their pension funds administered by none other than the finance minister's own company, Morneau Shepell. We will hear more about that later in question period. The conflict of interest is jaw-dropping and is in such conflict with the minister's mandate letter.

The same is true for the environment minister. Time and time again I have requested the environment minister to provide me with departmental assessments of the impact that her carbon tax will have on Canada, including on our small businesses and on families across this country. The Liberals hand us the information, but it is heavily redacted, which means censored. This is a government of censorship. It does not want the public to know any information about what happens behind closed doors. What we had from the minister was not a clear presentation of what the impacts will be on our economy; we received a heavily censored document that did not help us make any kind of sense out of the government's policies.

We do have one report. It is from the Conference Board of Canada, which came out with a report showing that the carbon tax that the Liberals have proposed will have a modest impact on greenhouse gas emissions. When I say “modest”, I really mean a negligible impact. As well, the report says implementing the Liberal plan to address climate change is going to take trillions of dollars of investment.

The report goes even further. It says that under the Liberal plan, government expenditures will grow, and what will happen to the private sector? It says very clearly that the private sector will shrink.

As Conservatives, we have great confidence in the private sector. Small and medium-size businesses, as well as large businesses, all contribute to the prosperity we have in this country. This is a very credible report from the Conference Board of Canada, and it is shocking that it expects that the role of government is going to expand and that the role of the private sector is going to shrink.

I put a lot on the plate here. The government has a lot to answer for. We can do better, and if the Liberals cannot do it, they should step aside and let us do the job.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-57.

According to the world-renowned economic theorist, Jeremy Rifkin, “Facing the prospect of a second collapse of the global economy, humanity is desperate for a sustainable economic game plan to take us into the future.”

Rifkin suggests that Internet technology and renewable energy are merging to create a powerful third industrial revolution. He asks us to imagine hundreds of millions of people producing their own green energy in their homes, offices, and factories, and sharing it with each other in an energy Internet, just like we now create and share information online.

Why do I mention Jeremy Rifkin in discussing Bill C-57?

His foresight in naming this period we have entered as the third industrial revolution was a constant theme at the recent World Economic Forum's Sustainable Development Impact Summit during Climate Week in New York City. I was fortunate to participate at the invitation of the Environment Minister.

The workshop themes focused on the priorities to move us forward into this revolution in thinking and action, including accelerating financing for global energy conversion, strengthening partnerships for a sustainable future, transforming skills, and empowering citizens, and women in particular. These dialogues were all centred on the common recognition of the need to expedite action on the 17 sustainable development goals adopted by the UN in September 2015.

Unlike the previous iteration of sustainable development forged in the 1987 Brundtland report, this new agreement, called “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, recommended “bold and transformative shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path.”

There is a rapidly growing global recognition of the need for much broader considerations in the decisions we make about our future, including in developing policies and programs. These UN goals reflect the need to consider not only environmental but also social and economic considerations in seeking sustainability.

We require political will to make this shift, and as former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore has aptly shared, “Political will is a renewable resource”. As my new leader has said, there is hope for change.

In 2016, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development recognized the need to revisit Canadian law and policy on sustainable development. It undertook a study of the Federal Sustainable Development Act and submitted to the House a report with recommendations to update and strengthen Canadian law in directions that could better deliver these revised goals for sustainability.

Where are we at in Canada today?

By way of background, in 1995 the federal government created the position of the commissioner for environment and sustainable development within the Office of the Auditor General, and charged her with responsibility for providing sustainable development monitoring and reporting on the progress of category I departments towards sustainable development, which is a continually evolving concept based on the integration of social, economic, and environmental concerns.

In 1999, the federal cabinet then issued the cabinet directive on the environmental assessment of policy, plan and program proposals, supported by a series of guidelines obligating each minister to ensure that their departmental policies, plans, and programs were consistent with the government's broad environmental objectives and sustainable development goals. These must be contained in reports to ministers and the cabinet. The directive also requires the public reporting on the extent and results of strategic environmental assessments. Interestingly, the directive makes mandatory a gender lens, but an environmental assessment of proposed policies and programs is not mandatory.

That said, it is one step to issue a directive, but another to take action to ensure that it is complied with. Disappointingly, repeated audits by the commissioner over the past decade have reported significant failures in both the delivery of the departmental sustainable development strategies and compliance with the cabinet directive.

What does the current Federal Sustainable Development Act provide, and how well has the government succeeded in delivering useful results?

The current act was forged from an almost complete rewrite of a private member's bill that originally proposed the creation of a national sustainable development strategy; required short, medium and long-term targets to dramatically accelerate the elimination of all environmental problems, from a cap on emissions to penalties for non-compliance, to full cost accounting and the implementation of regulations; and the creation of a commissioner independent of the Office of the Auditor General, a proposal that captured considerable support at the time.

The actual Federal Sustainable Development Act provides a legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy based on the precautionary principle, with goals and targets. The act is framed in the basic principle that sustainable development is based on the ecologically efficient use of natural, social, and economic resources and the need to integrate all of those factors in decision-making. It calls for a committee in the Privy Council Office to provide oversight. It establishes a sustainable development office within the Department of the Environment that is mandated to develop and maintain systems to monitor progress in implementing the federal sustainable development strategy and to report every three years on progress in that regard. It then establishes a sustainable development advisory council chaired by the Minister of Environment. There are currently no per diems for council members, as it was a private member's bill. The act further specifies the departments and agencies that are obligated to prepare sustainable development strategies. Finally, it requires that all performance-based contracts must adhere to the strategies.

In testifying at committee, the commissioner described this approach as more of a federal environmental strategy than a sustainable development act. She observed that the strategies produced to date have focused more on the environment alone, as opposed to the broader environmental, social, and economic aspects of sustainable development. In her view, clearly reflective of the 2015 UN goals, “Practically speaking, sustainable development means thinking about how decisions can affect the economy, society, the environment, and the well-being of future generations.”

Again, as noted, the commissioner has repeatedly reported that the majority of departments and agencies have failed to adequately comply with the cabinet directive. In her 2015 audit, she reported that only five out out more than 1,700 proposals submitted to ministers provided the required environmental report. She also reported that less than 50% of proposals to cabinet filed the necessary reports.

Her report released just this week offers a similarly dismal assessment, with 80% of the departments and agencies she audited failing to deliver the required assessment. She reported that neither the Privy Council Office nor Treasury Board is seeking assurances that the strategic environmental assessment is completed. She also reported that five out of six entities audited failed to even apply the directive.

What recommendations did the committee make to improve sustainable development assessments? Following a review of the act and the results delivered, it recommended a number of substantive reforms, including expanding the factors to be considered in the sustainable development strategies; requiring a whole-of-government approach, consistent with the recommendation of the commissioner; requiring comprehensive engagement of all central government agencies, not just Environment Canada; referencing key sustainable development principles as the basis of any strategies; charging all parliamentary committees with responsibility to review the strategies; requiring all committees to review progress reports from the commissioner; making specific reference in the law to Canada's international commitments; and specifying short, medium, and long-term goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Does Bill C-57 respond to these criticisms and recommendations? Regrettably, while some changes are proposed in Bill C-57 to improve the act, it contains few of the recommended substantive reforms. The bill does propose additional principles to be added to guide development of any sustainable development strategy, although it lacks reference to important commitments, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and environmental justice principles.

Responsibility for leading the development and monitoring of the strategies remains unchanged, and is still vested in an official within the Department of the Environment appointed by and reporting to the environment minister. That official is to report on the progress of the Government of Canada, but the official's current role appears minimally changed by the bill.

The reports are still only referred to the environment committee. It not clear how that will deliver the revised purpose of accountability to Parliament or deliver coordinated action across the government to advance sustainable development. The committee recommended that these reports go to all of the committees, since sustainable development affects the whole of government.

While the Treasury Board is granted a discretionary power to establish policies and directives, it is limited to environmental reports, not the full 17 sustainable development goals recommended by the commissioner. The minister's advisory committee may now be paid honoraria, but all members are chosen by the minister, and are not self-selected, which will raise concerns on the part of many in the community.

The act does now require time frames for each target. Based on the most recent report by the commissioner, and absent more centralized oversight entrenching a more whole-of-government commitment, there can be little confidence there will be improved accountability or action for embracing the sustainable development goals. The facade of the government may be painted green, but the internal machinery regrettably will remain entrenched in outdated thinking until reforms are made to lead us into this third industrial revolution for a transformed planet.

I would like to share that I do find hope elsewhere. I find hope in the change-makers who are activating a global network of social entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders, policy-makers, and activists to build an “everyone a changemaker” world. This award-based competition is aimed at mobilizing key change-makers and change-maker institutions to develop and scale the most innovative solutions. The challenge is designed in a way to facilitate the creation of innovators who can work together to scale the best solutions. Participating institutions are encouraged to field “change teams” as participants, pooling the perspectives of, for example, students, faculty, and administrators to co-design solutions. Individual innovators are encouraged to connect and collaborate on solutions. Collectively, these teams become part of a broader community of practice, supported through tools such as peer reviews, stories, hangouts, and physical meet-ups designed to inspire, support, and inform the implementation and scaling of leading ideas.

I have been inspired by the efforts of Alberta change-makers taking concrete action to meet sustainable development goals. For example, Desa Crow Chief of the Siksika, as a change-maker, is hoping to hold an indigenous environmental summit to promote clean energy transition and environmental rights for first nations. Also, at the University of Alberta, the CODER project will provide open data access on renewable energy. I am inspired by these youth, as I am sure the minister is, many of whom we had the opportunity to meet in New York City and in Canada. Therein I find hope. I wish I were more hopeful in regard to this new statute, but I look forward to discussion and potential amendments at committee.

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October 6th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Ottawa Centre Ontario


Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for all of her hard work and support for action on climate change and sustainable development.

Here, I am also thinking of our colleague, who sadly is deceased, Arnold Chan, who talked about the importance of civility, working together, and engaging. I think Bill C-57 is an example of the very hard work of the committee that came together with a unanimous report. I am very pleased to be working with parliamentarians from all parties to make sure that we move forward to a more sustainable future for our kids.

I want to give a shout-out also to members of my department who have worked very hard on this, and those across the government who support the goals of sustainable development, as well as to the change-makers whom the member opposite referenced. There are young people around the world who are really pushing for a more sustainable future, because it is their future. We have worked with indigenous peoples and all sorts of stakeholders who provided input, as well as other Canadians.

I am very happy that we have support for this bill. We will certainly be considering all amendments to strengthen it at committee. I think this fits very well with what we are trying to do as a government. We know that we need to move to a more sustainable future, and we need to do it in a thoughtful and practical way. We need to be transparent and to be held accountable, and we need to be doing it with all Canadians and ensuring that the economy and the environment go together. This is a very important step.

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October 6th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the member for Guelph.

Today I am going to speak to how our government's priorities align with international sustainable development objectives. I will begin by providing an overview of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and what it means for sustainable development in both Canada and worldwide. I will then discuss how our government is supporting the implementation of the agenda for sustainable development goals, as well as a few of the contributions being made by other governments and organizations across Canada.

The United Nations has been at the forefront of the political discourse on sustainable development since the Brundtland report in 1987.

In September 2015, the next step in the evolution of sustainable development arrived when the world agreed to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, including 17 sustainable development goals. The 2030 agenda is a plan of action for people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. In adopting the 2030 agenda, all UN member states have pledged to leave no one behind.

The sustainable development goals, or SDGs, have been established as the global framework for tackling common economic, social, and environmental challenges. The goals apply equally to developing and developed countries, are integrated with each other, and the achievement of some cannot be made without the achievement of others. For instance, achievement of the clean water and sanitation goal would help provide people with access to clean water and ensure that waste water is properly treated. This would help to support the achievement of the zero-hunger goal by providing clean water to grow food, and the achievement of the good-health and well-being goal, by eliminating some sources of disease.

Our government is committed to supporting the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, and the vision that Canada is one of the greatest countries in the world. Unsurprisingly, the Government of Canada's priorities and programs are well aligned with the goals and targets of the 2030 agenda. For example, we are committed to moving to a low-carbon economy, ensuring that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand, and ensuring that all Canadians have access to clean drinking water and safe and healthy food.

As we work to deliver on our priorities, we continue to consult and engage Canadians to ensure their perspectives are heard and taken into account. 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. They wanted to support the health and rights of women and children to ensure peace and security, promote 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 chance for success. As we implement the policy, we will strengthen our priorities through work in areas such as gender equality and 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 SDGs through the 2016 to 2019 federal sustainable development strategy, or FSDS, our plan to promote clean growth, ensure healthy ecosystems, and 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. There are 41 federal departments and agencies that 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. For example, our strategy highlights actions being taken by Canadian organizations that support the FSDS goals and the SDGs. It also presents actions that Canadians can take in their daily lives to help build a more sustainable Canada.

One way in which our strategy responds to consultations as well as global sustainable development priorities is through the inclusion of the goal that all Canadians have access to safe drinking water, and, in particular, that the significant challenges indigenous communities face are addressed. We know that while drinking water in Canada is among the safest in the world, access to safe drinking water remains a challenge in on-reserve first nation communities. Our target to eliminate long-term drinking water advisories in first nation communities directly supports the SDGs of good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, and reflects our commitment to leaving no one behind.

To further support our commitment to the 2030 agenda and other international initiatives, we introduced a bill in June, Bill C-57, that we are debating today, that would amend the purpose of the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The revised purpose would specify that future strategies respect Canada's domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development. That includes the SDGs, as well as other agreements and initiatives, such as the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and the pan-Canadian framework.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, I am extremely proud of our government's response to our committee's unanimous 2016 report on the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Bill C-57 is a thoughtful response to our committee's report, and sets the legislative vision to meet our international sustainable development goals through many ways, including domestic actions.

I must also note that while being very supportive of Bill C-57, our committee has learned, through our current study on built heritage in Canada, that our international commitments on ecosystem protection and climate change include provisions relating to protecting cultural heritage. I raise this as an issue and a flag to our government that it might consider an amendment by the committee on environment and sustainable development concerning cultural heritage and our international commitments when this bill gets to committee.

By meeting our commitment to update our strategy on an ongoing basis, we will provide Canadians with a comprehensive picture of our sustainable development commitments and results. Through our first update in June 2017, we reported that a number of short-term milestones set out in the FSDS have already been achieved. For example, the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change has been adopted by first ministers of the federal government and 11 provinces and territories. Canada has ratified the Paris agreement, and Canada's mid-century long-term low-greenhouse gas development strategy has been released.

That initial update also incorporated investments announced in budget 2017 that support the strategy's goals and targets, including increased financing support for Canada's clean technology sector; funding to support research, development, demonstration and adoption of clean technologies; measures to enhance collaboration and establish new ways of measuring success; and new broad-based innovation initiatives.

The 2030 agenda depends on rigorous monitoring and reporting, including voluntary reviews by individual countries through the UN high-level political forum on sustainable development. In support of this global reporting effort, we will present our first voluntary national review in July 2018.

While the federal government has an important role to play, I want to recognize that we cannot achieve the SDGs alone. The 2030 agenda acknowledges that, along with governments, implementation will involve parliaments, the UN system and other international institutions, local authorities, indigenous peoples, civil society, business in the private sector, the scientific and academic community, and all citizens.

In Canada, organizations such as other governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations have already begun to take action. For example, the Global Compact Network Canada has undertaken a survey of their members' SDG priorities and actions. They identified climate action, no poverty, decent work and economic growth, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production as the most important SDGs for Canada, goals that align very well with our government's priorities.

As a proud British Columbian, I also want to highlight the work of the City of Vancouver. In particular, Vancouver's greenest city action plan and healthy city strategy include goals and targets that align with the SDGs. For instance, Vancouver has set a goal to have the best drinking water of any city in the world, which aligns with the clean water and sanitation principle of the SDGs. Vancouver has also established the goal of a healthy, just, and sustainable food system, targeting an increase in local food production. The city has seen an increase of 42% of neighbourhood food assets in Vancouver since 2010. This directly contributes to the sustainable development goal to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

In conclusion, the SDGs represent a renewed global commitment to sustainable development that our government has already begun to respond to through the development and implementation of the FSDS and the feminist international assistance policy. Going forward, we will contribute to the follow-up and review of the SDGs, including through the voluntary national review process.

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October 6th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member just said that the government has done a fantastic job on the issue, but I beg to differ. The commissioner's report actually states:

The findings presented in our fall 2017 reports show that in two important areas—reducing greenhouse gases and adapting to the impacts of climate change—the federal government has yet to do much of the hard work that is required to bring about this fundamental shift. For example, instead of developing a detailed action plan to reach the 2020 target for reducing emissions, the government changed its focus to the 2030 target. In addition, the government did not pursue a number of greenhouse gas regulations, thereby losing opportunities to achieve real reductions in emissions.

I could go on, but these are just some of the highlights that the commissioner pointed out around the lack of action from the government.

We have Bill C-57, where the government says it will take a whole-of-government approach but does not. In fact, it does not engage all of the central government agencies in the development and implementation of the federal sustainable development strategy.

How can the government think that this is going to address the issues at hand, especially in light of the commissioner's reports?

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October 6th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the excellent work that the commissioner of the environment does on her audits. It provides great information for our government to be able to move forward and address the concerns that have been raised.

As I noted, Bill C-57 takes the work of the committee that I was part of and incorporates needed changes into legislation. It will set the framework for our government to move forward. It is very much setting a leadership position for our government. I remain very proud of this legislation and the changes we will see.

I would also like to comment that the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development has on notice, a potential study that we will be discussing in the near future on climate change. Given the great relationship we have had with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, I believe we will be able to come up with wonderful recommendations for her consideration. That will also help move our government's agenda forward.

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October 6th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to have an opportunity to address my hon. colleagues in support of this new legislation.

I would like to speak to the principles of sustainable development in Bill C-57 and how these would help to advance the government's commitment to a clean environment and a strong economy.

Guelph has a long history of enacting sustainable development policies. Personally, I worked for five years on the mayor's task force for sustainability and have since focused my goals in the House around the triple bottom-line approach in balancing economic, environmental, and social development. Guelph is a living monument to our government's mantra that we cannot separate success in the environment and success in the economy. They are, in fact, one and the same. Guelph is known for its economic success, including low unemployment and a rapid growth in our economy. In fact, Guelph is one of the fastest-growing economies in Canada, but it is also one of the most environmentally conscious. We have the highest rates of waste diversion from landfills, at 68%. We have the lowest water consumption per capita, with a goal of reaching Norway's level. As we grow our population by 50%, we are looking to reduce our electrical consumption by the same amount so that we do not require more power for the 50% more people coming in.

Another key objective of Bill C-57 is poverty reduction. Guelph is actively working to eliminate poverty, with a focus on homelessness and mental health. Currently, the Guelph and Wellington task force for poverty elimination is a shining example of our community's dedication to eliminate poverty in our community. Its three-year strategic plan, from 2014 to 2017, addresses issues like food and income security, housing, and dental health. These social objectives are essential to sustainable development, as was acknowledged by the UN in the early 1980s. It all connects.

Let me continue with some global history. In 1983, the United Nations General Assembly established the World Commission on Environment and Development. It was chaired by Norwegian Prime Minister Brundtland, and in 1987 the Brundtland commission published its report, “Our Common Future”, known as the Brundtland report. That report put sustainable development squarely on the global agenda. In its own words, “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” That is often referred to as the standard definition of sustainable development. Indeed, that is how sustainable development is defined in our current Federal Sustainable Development Act.

The Brundtland report paved the way for an unprecedented 1992 United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro, better known as The Earth Summit. I want to make a special point of noting that it was a very great, distinguished Canada who helped to organize that event, the late Maurice Strong. The Earth Summit brought together more countries and heads of state than any previous event. It also established enduring and lasting mechanisms for international co-operation, following through on Gro Harlem Brundtland's vision of a sustainable future. Among these important agreements were the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biodiversity, and the development of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Canada was there. We supported the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.

We have championed sustainable development since then. Following the Rio summit, in 1995, Canada became one of the first countries in the world to create a commissioner for sustainable development. Since 1997, government departments have been required to produce sustainable development strategies in compliance with the 1995 amendments to the Auditor General Act. In 2008, under the leadership of the Hon. John Godfrey, his private member's bill, Bill C-474, passed and became law as the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

The act provides the legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy every three years. It also requires 26 departments and agencies to prepare their own sustainable development strategies that comply and contribute to the overall federal strategy.

The year 2015 was a watershed year. In September, Canada was among 193 countries to adopt the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The 2030 agenda sets out a global framework of action over the next decade and a half for people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership; to eradicate poverty; and to leave no one behind. The 17 sustainable development goals and 169 associated targets build on the previous millennium development goals. They are universally applicable and fully integrate the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

In December 2015, Canada was among the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which adopted the historic Paris Agreement.

The Federal Sustainable Development Act is part of the legacy that began with the Brundtland report and earth summit and is still relevant today as we advance the government's commitment to a clean environment and a strong economy. It provides the framework to develop and implement the federal sustainable development strategy, the complete guide to the Government of Canada's environmental sustainability priorities.

The most recent strategy, for the period 2016-19, was tabled in the House on October 6, 2016. It sets out 13 long-term, aspirational goals. In response to a recommendation of the standing committee, the strategy's goals are a Canadian reflection of the United Nations' sustainable development goals, with a focus on their environmental dimensions.

Today I would like to take a few minutes to tell my colleagues about the principles we are proposing in Bill C-57, principles this government believes will strengthen the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I also want to acknowledge the important work of our colleagues on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, who, in their June 2016 report, highlighted the importance of modernizing our sustainable development principles.

Bill C-57 proposes to include the following principles: intergenerational equity, polluter pays, internalization of costs, openness and transparency, involving indigenous peoples' collaboration, and results and delivery.

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 and about us but also about the future and those who will be here after us. The Brundtland report set out the following principle on intergenerational equity: “States shall conserve and use the environment and natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.”

It was also recommended in the standing committee's June 2016 report that the principle of polluter pays be adopted, that we look at a new way of thinking, and that sustainable economic growth take into account the damages imposed on the environment.

Polluter pays means that those who generate pollution should bear the cost of having created pollution. Internalization of costs means that goods and services should reflect all the costs they generate for society, from their design to their consumption to their final disposal. The principles of openness and transparency are also intertwined with the purpose of the Federal Sustainable Development Act, ensuring that decision-making related to sustainable development is more transparent and is subject to accountability to Parliament.

That is why Bill C-57 proposes a principle on involving all peoples and being transparent to all peoples. I also note that the government's commitment is supported by provisions in the act to ensure and expand aboriginal representation on the Sustainable Development Advisory Council.

Finally, the principles we set out in Bill C-57 reaffirm that we are up to the challenge. Canada, like Guelph, is ready to seize the opportunities before us and to be bold. Sustainable development means growing a diversified, low-carbon economy while reducing emissions, generating good jobs for Canadians, and having a society we can all be proud of.

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October 6th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, in light of the work that has been done by the standing committee the member referenced in his speech, I am wondering if the member is at all concerned, because Bill C-57's amendments do not completely meet the recommendations of the committee. As a matter of fact, the government put forward some recommendations that were not raised at the committee, which is a concern. I am wondering in particular if the member would like to expand on why it might be that the committee was not asked to weigh in and make recommendations when we are looking at the legal framework for a federal sustainable development strategy.

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October 6th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The bill was partly inspired by a 2016 report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, which I belonged to at the time of the report's release. I am pleased to have this opportunity to offer further input on this matter.

The Conservatives have long supported sustainable development strategies. Indeed, we supported the Federal Sustainable Development Act in 2008. It makes sense that economic, social and environmental priorities be advanced through an integrated whole-of-government approach. We cannot advance one of these priorities while ignoring the others. Canadians expect that parliamentarians consider all three priorities when designing policy and legislation. The public needs to be confident that policy has been thoroughly thought out on all three fronts.

Unfortunately, this Liberal government has made little progress in implementing sustainable development strategies, as the 2017 fall reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development made all too clear. I am sure we can all agree that the commissioner is incredibly competent and thorough, and her findings should carry great weight.

The importance of sustainable development is something on which all parties agree, and the government simply needs to make real progress on this file. Given that action is clearly needed, I am pleased the bill takes steps to meet the expectations of Canadians by amending the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

The bill takes a number of noteworthy steps toward improving government transparency and accountability. It greatly expands the number of government agencies and departments subject to the federal sustainable development strategy, from 26 to 90 departments. If we are launching a whole-of-government approach, expanding the number of departments subject to the strategy obviously makes sense.

It would also mandate that departments adhere to a reporting and progress schedule. This is a fundamentally sound practice. It would ensure we would have a means through which to assess what action departments were taking to meet their objectives. By assessing this action on a whole-of-government basis, we will get a better sense of whether targets are being met in a meaningful way. In the past, we have had issues with non-compliance. By empowering the Treasury Board to establish policies or issue directives to ensure compliance with the new reporting requirements, government accountability will hopefully be improved.

With that said, I do have some concerns with regard to how the departments and agencies prepare and report their sustainable development strategies. As I said, reporting on progress makes sense.

We heard from witnesses in committee that Germany had achieved success with an annual reporting requirement. Reporting on progress ensures that if a strategy is not working, there is an opportunity to make revisions to get back on track. However, it is also important that departments and agencies not be subjected to onerous requirements and red tape. The requirements should not merely add red tape to an already enormous and complex bureaucratic organization.

A key benefit of adopting a whole-of-government approach is efficiency and the elimination of waste. The specific reporting requirements should be carefully crafted so as to avoid bogging down the departments in more red tape. If government departments and agencies are allocating time and resources to preparing reports instead of actually taking action on sustainable development, then the bill will not have its desired effects. It simply will be a big waste of time. A firm sense of what the considerable reporting requirements in the bill will actually accomplish is also very important. Reporting can be an effective strategy to improve accountability, but only if it is well implemented. I hope the government will continue to carefully review the successes and failures of other jurisdictions as the bill's legislative processes unfolds.

Some of the jurisdictions we heard about took years to get this right. The government needs to be very careful and think this through. If it does not, the bill will serve as nothing more than a just another cautionary tale for other jurisdictions on what not to do.

With regard to how the departments prepare their sustainable development strategies, it is important that they not do so in a silo. Of course, the unique mandate of each respective department will mean that their strategies vary. I am not saying that we can develop a government-wide, one-size-fits-all plan, however, 90 departments and agencies will now be subject to the strategy. It would be hugely wasteful for departments to be individually developing strategies that overlap. Duplication simply must be avoided for this whole-of-government approach to actually improve efficiency.

To that end, it is vital that departments communicate with one another as they prepare their respective strategies. Along with the top-down direction from the centre, this strategy needs horizontal, government-wide coordination. A broad template strategy would be a common sense way of doing this. That way, it can be tweaked by each department to accommodate their specific needs, but would avoid departments wasting time and resources preparing plans in individual silos. The minister should provide clear leadership in developing the government-wide framework. Sorrily, according to commissioner's audit, this is missing.

Overall, a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development principles is an important means of protecting the social, economic, and environmental well-being of Canadians. However, it must not be allowed to degenerate into a costly bureaucratic nightmare.

I also have some misgivings about the remuneration of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Compensating out-of-pocket expenses is one thing, but our committee's unanimous report did not call for the advisory council to receive the compensation now being proposed. I am not sure what the Liberals' basis for introducing remuneration is. It was not in our report, because we felt it should not happen. Our committee conducted a thorough study on this matter. As I noted, we heard about the failures in many other jurisdictions. I hope the government has good reason for deviating from the findings on this point.

This is an important file on which all parties want action. At its best, the bill could offer an efficient, cost effective way of reaching sustainable development objectives. Introducing remuneration for advisory council members may do the opposite as far as cost-effectiveness. Further, it is important that Canadians can have confidence that the advisory council is offering the minister independent and objective advice. This is crucial. It cannot become tied to any minister or department. Its independence needs to be beyond question. The council members should not be remunerated.

Our committee's report also emphasized the importance of engaging the Canadian public on sustainable development. As one witness put it, “You'll not regulate yourself into sustainable development. Sustainable development is more than just regulation. ”Many Canadians are already taking incredible action. My motion, Motion No. 108, aims to recognize farmers and ranchers as stewards of the environment and conservationists. They are doing their part to develop their land and produce our food sustainably. Beyond the provisions outlined in the bill, the government should remember that it is everyday Canadians who are making a huge difference. They should be encouraged to do so. Open, informative dialogue about sustainable development is very necessary.

While I intend to support the bill, I hope the government will take action to address the concerns I have raised today. The stakes are too high on this file to continue to make no progress. Canadians expect a federal sustainability development strategy that works.