An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence

Sponsor

Dominic LeBlanc  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of June 20, 2018

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Summary

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

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

(a) require that, when making a decision under that Act, the Minister shall consider any adverse effects that the decision may have on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, include provisions respecting the consideration and protection of Indigenous knowledge of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and authorize the making of agreements with Indigenous governing bodies to further the purpose of the Fisheries Act;

(b) add a purpose clause and considerations for decision-making under that Act;

(c) empower the Minister to establish advisory panels and to set fees, including for the provision of regulatory processes;

(d) provide measures for the protection of fish and fish habitat with respect to works, undertakings or activities that may result in the death of fish or the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat, including in ecologically significant areas, as well as measures relating to the modernization of the regulatory framework such as authorization of projects, establishment of standards and codes of practice, creation of fish habitat banks by a proponent of a project and establishment of a public registry;

(e) empower the Governor in Council to make new regulations, including regulations respecting the rebuilding of fish stocks and importation of fish;

(f) empower the Minister to make regulations for the purposes of the conservation and protection of marine biodiversity;

(g) empower the Minister to make fisheries management orders prohibiting or limiting fishing for a period of 45 days to address a threat to the proper management and control of fisheries and the conservation and protection of fish;

(h) prohibit the fishing of a cetacean with the intent to take it into captivity, unless authorized by the Minister, including when the cetacean is injured, in distress or in need of care; and

(i) update and strengthen enforcement powers, as well as establish an alternative measures agreements regime; and

(j) provide for the implementation of various measures relating to the maintenance or rebuilding of fish stocks.

The enactment also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

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

Votes

June 13, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence
June 13, 2018 Failed Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence
April 16, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence
March 26, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence

Opposition Motion—Global Climate Change and Clean Energy LeadershipBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Mill Woods.

I am very pleased to stand in the House today to discuss the motion of my colleague, the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

I appreciate the call for Canada to be a global climate change leader. I agree, and Canada is. However, this motion fails in a number of areas, including its failure to recognize the actions the government has taken in ensuring that the environment and the economy go together as we build a clean energy economy. Our government has been steadfast in its belief that a strong economy and a clean environment go hand in hand. The NDP motion completely ignores the historic investments that the government has made through successive federal budgets that specifically address Canada's environment, coastlines, waterways, and wildlife, as well as the introduction of government legislation such as Bill C-69, Bill C-68, Bill C-57, and Bill C-74, which would further strengthen our ability to protect the environment and grow the economy in sustainable ways.

Today, I will highlight the global market for clean technologies and the enormous opportunity Canadians are already taking advantage of that is estimated to be in the trillions of dollars, with demand only increasing, and at an incredibly rapid pace.

This is an area I personally know very well, having spent the past almost 20 years as a chief executive officer and senior executive in the clean technology and renewable sector. The clean technology industry presents significant opportunities for Canadian businesses from all sectors of the economy. That is why investing in clean technology is a key component of our government's approach to promoting sustainable growth and to addressing key environmental challenges.

Our government also recognizes that clean technology is a source of good, well-paying jobs for Canadians. Therefore, when it comes to clean technology, Canada has the opportunity to be a true global leader, creating good, well-paying jobs for Canadians, while helping to meet our climate change and other important environmental goals.

Clean technologies are central to Canada’s low-carbon, globally competitive economy that provides high-quality jobs and opportunities for our middle class and those working hard to join it.

Clean technologies are by definition innovative technologies. Our government understands that innovation is a key driver of economic success. That is why we developed an innovation skills plan that will assist in making Canada a world-leading centre for innovation.

Today, clean technology already employs over 170,000 Canadians, and we sell about $26 billion annually in goods and services. Of that $26 billion, about $8 billion is exported.

Clearly, there is a strong appetite for Canadian innovation, but we have only just scratched the surface and there is so much more room to grow. That is why our government set aside more than $2.3 billion for clean technology in budget 2017. For the record, that is Canada's largest-ever public investment in this field. Prior to making this historic investment, we worked closely with industry to develop a comprehensive strategy that will successfully accelerate the development of the sector.

This $2.3 billion will support clean technology research, development, demonstration, and adoption and the scaling up of our businesses.

We know that access to financing fuels the growth of companies and provides the capital needed to hire new staff, develop products, and support sales at home and abroad, which is why we have set aside $1.4 billion in new financing for clean-tech providers. This is in addition to the $21.9 billion investment in green infrastructure, which will create jobs and position Canada for the low-carbon economy of the future.

We have also allocated $400 million to recapitalize Sustainable Development Technology Canada. This fund is helping our Canadian businesses develop world-class expertise in clean technology engineering, design, marketing, and management. To date, the fund has invested $989 million in 381 Canadian companies, supporting projects across the entire country. The funding has helped these companies develop and demonstrate new clean technologies that promote sustainable development, including those that address environmental issues, such as climate change, air quality, clean water, and clean soil.

There is also the Business Development Bank of Canada with its $700 million commitment to help clean technology producers scale up and expand globally. Since mid-January, I am pleased to say that four investments worth $40 million have been made. Through our participation in mission innovation, the Government of Canada will work with the international community to double federal investment in clean energy research and development over five years.

These are very significant and substantive investments, and we will drive for strong results. The government will carefully monitor the results of its investments both in terms of economic growth and jobs, as well as the environment.

Through a new clean-tech growth hub within Innovation Canada, the government will streamline client services, improve federal program coordination, enable tracking and reporting of clean technology results across government, and connect stakeholders to international markets. The clean growth hub is the government's focal point for all federal government supporting clean technology. Since launching in mid-January, the hub has served over 450 companies. This one-stop shop is a major innovative win for government that industry is already recognizing as a key step forward.

The 2017 Global Cleantech Innovation Index, which investigates where entrepreneurial companies are most likely to emerge over the next 10 years, ranked Canada fourth, up from seventh in 2014. Further, in January of this year, the Cleantech Group released a Global Cleantech 100 list. The list recognizes the clean-tech companies that are most likely to have significant market impact over the next five to 10 years.

Under the Harper government, Canada's share of the global clean-tech market shrunk by half. In partnership with the clean-tech industry, we have successfully turned this around. This year, a record 13 Canadian clean technology firms comprised the top 100. All the winning companies are clients of the Canadian trade commissioner service, and seven of the 13 companies are Export Development Canada customers.

We know that is only a small sampling of the innovative clean technology companies that are doing amazing work every day across the country to create economic growth, and solve our most pressing environmental challenges.

For example, in Montreal, GHGSat has developed the technology to monitor industrial greenhouse gas emissions using satellite technology. They launched their first satellite in 2016. In my own province of British Columbia, Carbon Engineering is developing a process to turn carbon dioxide in the air into a clean fuel. I could go on and on, speaking about all of the fantastic and innovative clean technology companies working across the country in so many industries and sectors of the Canadian economy.

In order to ensure their continued success, we will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders and jurisdictions across Canada to meet our climate change commitments and bring innovative and competitive clean technologies to market.

We have developed strong international linkages that promote Canadian technology as solutions to global challenges and attract private sector investment. This government is focused on scaling our great Canadian clean technology success stories, and in the process, helping to solve the world's most pressing environmental challenges.

As we move forward, the Government of Canada will continue to be a strong partner for clean technology producers. Our government is incredibly proud and impressed by the innovative work being done by the entrepreneurial women and men working in this sphere and we will continue to support them and their work, and with their success, generate future wealth for Canadians, while safeguarding the environment for future generations.

Opposition Motion—Leadership on Climate Change and Clean EnergyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, a lot of the environmental programs we see do not have to be a windmill or solar power panels we see outside buildings. In fact, they can actually be about energy efficiency and the things we do on a day-to-day level to ensure that we actually save energy and use the good types of energy.

For instance, our government is ensuring that we are a model for sustainability by greening our government. We are on track to reduce the government's own greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050. Even when I was in the Canadian Armed Forces, there were many times, 20 years ago, when someone would leave the door open. We would be heating the outdoors, because someone thought it was too hot, and we were not able to actually turn down the heat. The government today is actually reviewing a lot of the policies on how we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day operations to see if there are energy savings. It is listening to people on the ground, asking civil servants, and even our military personnel, what we can do to ensure that we can meet that target. That takes a lot of effort, because it is going to be an effort by all Canadians to ensure that we actually get there.

I am proud of our government. Not only are we committed to those agreements but we are intent on actually trying to achieve those targets. It is not simply empty rhetoric. It is actually something we hold in our hearts to be true that we will get there if we work day in and day out, and we are doing that.

We are passing a number of bills that are repairing the damage from the decade of darkness. We are engaging with our international counterparts to ensure that we are going to be meeting those targets. For instance, we are changing legislation through Bill C-69 and Bill C-68. We have also introduced Bill C-74, and the list goes on.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, tonight I would like to focus my attention on the detrimental effects Bill C-68 would have on development. Before I do so, I want to point out to those listening at home that the government has once again moved time allocation.

When the Liberals were in opposition, they absolutely railed at the thought. They used every tactic in the book to disrupt and to stall debate. Now, however, it seems that every time the Liberal government House leader has a chance, she moves time allocation in an effort to limit our free speech.

This bill is completely unnecessary and, as the House has heard from my colleagues, this matter was studied in depth at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. In fact, it was the minister himself, in 2016, who asked the committee to examine the lost protections in the Fisheries Act.

After months of debate, do members know how many witnesses testified on lost protections? It was none. Zero. Not a single one. Now the Liberals have brought forward this unnecessary legislation, which is already expected to cost close to $300 million to implement. I want to clarify that as part of our previous government's economic action plan of 2012 and in support of the responsible resource development plan, changes to the Fisheries Act were introduced and received royal assent in November of 2013.

The legislative changes we, on this side of the House, made to the fisheries protection provisions of the act supported a shift from managing impacts to all fish habitats to focusing on the act's regulatory regime on managing threats to the sustainability and ongoing productivity of Canada's commercial, recreational, and aboriginal fisheries.

Prior to these sensible amendments, all fish, and consequently all potential fish habitat, regardless of economic or social value, were covered under the Fisheries Act. This created a system that was impossible to manage, and created impediments to the most minor work on ditches, flood prevention etc. This creates an incredible amount of red tape for towns and municipalities, and means completely unnecessary hardship for Canadians trying to simply go about their business, and protect their property, a fundamental Canadian right.

The Liberals' approach to the legislative, regulatory, and policy framework governing infrastructure projects would cause a competitive disadvantage for all Canadian companies and would be felt by local governments across the country. I would also like to point out that the Liberal strategy of layering broad policy considerations into environmental regulations, such as Bill C-68 and Bill C-69, would lead to a marked decrease in investment and competitiveness for Canada's energy sector, as though it could possibly get any worse. This threatens the sector's sustainability and its contribution to Canada's future social, economic, and development objectives.

What the Liberals have done is put forward a piece of legislation with a bunch of “fill in the blanks” or “to be considered” slots, and asked Canadians to trust them. Unfortunately for business, this approach does not work and only serves to undermine industry.

In relation to the authorizations pursuant to the Fisheries Act, it is uncertain as to the types of projects that would require approval and potentially trigger an impact assessment pursuant to Bill C-69. Depending on forthcoming codes of practices and regulations, there could also be the need for additional approvals for low-impact activities, and the result would be a longer process with no different outcome than is achieved under the current legislation.

The unknown of the project specifics that would trigger approvals pursuant to the Fisheries Act is most concerning since it has a strong likelihood to impact all project development, not just those projects requiring assessment by the proposed impact assessment agency.

Former Liberal cabinet minister, the Hon. Sergio Marchi, who is now the president and CEO of the Canadian Electricity Association, has made it clear that he sees Bill C-68 as a missed opportunity. In its press release, the CEA stated:

...Bill C-68 represents one step forward but two steps back.

CEA is particularly concerned that the government has chosen to return to pre-2012 provisions of the Fisheries Act that address ‘activity other than fishing that results in the death of fish, and the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat’. In practical terms, this means that virtually any action, without prior authorization, could be construed as being in contravention of this Act. Consequently, the reinstatement of these measures will result in greater uncertainties for existing and new facilities, and unduly delay and/or discourage investment in energy projects that directly support Canada’s clean growth agenda and realize its climate change objectives.

Bill C-68 is a missed opportunity for the federal government to anchor the Fisheries Act on a reasonable, population-based approach rather than focusing on individual fish, and to clearly define fisheries management objectives.

Regarding criteria for project designation, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans heard from the Pembina Pipeline Corporation and were told of a number of alternative measures that could be used to lessen any environmental impact. Unfortunately, it seems any suggestions fell on deaf ears as the committee refused all 20 amendments put forward by my colleagues.

Pembina is a Calgary-based pipeline corporation that has provided transportation and midstream services to North America's industry for over 60 years. Sixty years is not a small amount of time in the span of Canadian history. In fact, it has one of the best integrated pipeline systems in the entire world and transport hydrocarbon liquids, natural gas, and natural gas products all over Alberta.

In its brief to the committee, it highlighted that pipeline associated watercourse crossing construction practices and technology had in fact come a long way over the last few decades. These processes are state-of-the-art, and horizontal directional drilling is a perfect example of a technology that is widely used and eliminates environmental impacts of a pipeline crossing waterways.

I will not go into the complete detail on the briefing submitted by Pembina, but I will say that this bill is unnecessary. It would create more bureaucratic red tape and would only serve to hinder development. In fact, the legislation is so very ambiguous that Pembina cautions that the Liberal government is virtually ensuring future conflict among indigenous communities because it has not considered the complexity of overlapping traditional territories.

On this side of the House, we support the protection of our oceans and fisheries. Our previous changes to the Fisheries Act were enacted to support transparency in the decision-making process and provide a level of certainty to those invested in the act.

The Liberals have done the exact opposite with Bill C-68. As usual, what they say is not actually what they do. They have said that they are restoring harmful alteration or disruption or the destruction of fish habitat. However, they sidestep any obligation to uphold the HADD regulations in the legislation by providing the minister with the ability to exempt certain provisions.

I want to reiterate also that Bill C-68 seems to undermine transparency and due process by allowing the minister to withhold critical information from interested proponents, and this goes against the Prime Minister's commitment to openness and transparency.

There is no way the Conservative Party of Canada will support this burdensome bill that serves no purpose other than to check off an election promise from the Liberals' 2015 red book.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it has been entertaining listening to Conservatives talk about Bill C-68. On the one hand, the New Democratic friends say that the government should be doing more. On the other hand, the Conservatives' mentality is that any legislation on the environment is bad. We actually just heard that from the member.

It is much like the pipeline. TMX is going to happen. The previous Harper government failed at getting a pipeline to the market on the coast, but this government has not failed. Would the member not acknowledge that the economy and environment do in fact go hand in hand? We can see that with respect to the success of this legislation and the pipeline, which finally will be built, and not because of Stephen Harper but because we have a government that understands this

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, it is no secret that foreign investment has been fleeing and will continue to flee Canada at an alarming rate. I have seen this first-hand in my dear hometown of Calgary, Alberta, where we have seen the exit of organizations and of corporations such as Murphy Oil, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, and I can go on and on with respect to the foreign investment that has fled. That is even prior to the installation and royal assent of such damaging legislation such as Bill C-68, which we are discussing today, and Bill C-69. The government has to take responsibility for the investment that is fleeing Canada and ruining the lives of Canadians.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to be speaking in the House of Commons this evening as we continue debate on Bill C-68. I am sure there will be more commentary as the night proceeds into the middle of the night and then late night, perhaps even early morning. Who knows in this place. It is an honour to serve the constituents of Parry Sound—Muskoka, regardless of the hour of the day. I am sure all colleagues feel the same about their ridings.

We are debating Bill C-68, which aspires to protect our oceans and fisheries. I believe all members of the chamber would want to do this. The issue is whether it does something meaningful in that regard. The answer is a resounding no.

As my colleague from Calgary just mentioned, there were extensive changes to the Fisheries Act under the previous government to ensure our fisheries were protected, and yet at the same time, it was much more user friendly for Canadians. It was important for economic development and it was also ridding the previous legislation of a nuisance factor, where every ditch all of a sudden became a protected area for fish that were too numerous to count.

Clearly, it was overreach in the pre-existing legislation, which the legislation of the previous Conservative government sought to remedy. Now we find ourselves again, with the Liberal government now in its third year, regurgitating legislation simply because there were changes made under the previous Conservative government. I am sure there is no ill will on the opposite side, but I tend to wonder whether the Liberals are simply trying to reinvent the wheel and put their own stamp on legislative priorities.

What happens with legislation like this is that it makes the situation worse for economic development. It makes it worse in trying to balance protecting fish habitat and at the same time moving forward in our communities. That is what we have with Bill C-68.

There are a number of things here. The bill seems to undermine transparency and due process by allowing the minister to withhold critical information from interested proponents. It goes against the Prime Minister's oft stated commitment in national and international fora to openness and transparency.

Let us talk about that for a few minutes. This is a constant theme of the government, that it is more open, more transparent, that the Liberals are the ones who cornered the market on openness and transparency. However, when we look at the record of the government, it is far from that.

In its 2015 platform, the Liberals said that they would fix the Access to Information Act. There was delay upon delay, and finally the President of the Treasury Board stood in his place and said that the government would have a two-pronged approach, that it would pick the fruit that it could pick first, and then it would leave the more difficult issues until later. That was denounced by the Information Commissioner, who had been waiting all these years for changes to the Access to Information Act. It was basically a big disaster for the government because it was not following through on its promises.

There has been a lack of transparency to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, and that is important. The Parliamentary Budget Officer is the person who works for the House, for Parliament, in analyzing the budgetary priorities of the government of the day. I will admit, when we were in government, and I was president of the Treasury Board, it was not exactly pleasant in this place for the Parliamentary Budget Officer to examine and be a pair of eyes over our shoulders.

It is not the most pleasant thing for politicians or bureaucrats, but at the same time, it is necessary. It is necessary for the proper functioning of this place to have that oversight. Because the executive has so much power under our parliamentary system, it is good to have that pair of eyes reporting to Parliament and reporting to the public on issues about budgetary priorities and the true cost of things.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has been complaining about the lack of information given by the Liberal government. I know that governing is hard. I was there. What I find offensive, perhaps, disconcerting certainly, is when the government and Liberal politicians promise openness and transparency and deliver precisely the opposite, to the detriment of Canadians, and certainly the opposite of what they promised while campaigning in 2015.

In Bill C-68, there is a provision for advisory panels, but no guidance, no limitation, on how they would be used. What are the rights of citizens when we have these advisory panels? What are the property rights of citizens when we have these advisory panels? How do we balance these advisory panels with local interests and local knowledge? The bill is silent. I wish I knew the answer to that before I voted on this bill, but the answer is not forthcoming from the government of the day.

As I mentioned and the previous speaker from Calgary mentioned, there were amendments on these issues back in 2012 that received royal assent and came into force in November 2013. There was a proper balance between protecting fish and fish habitat and measuring the economic and social value so that fish and fish habitat that were at risk would get the protection they needed. However, this was not the case in every case. Not every fish in our environment needs protection. I hope this is not a politically incorrect thing to say.

In some places in our country, I would say to the audience watching television, there are a multitude of fish, and there are protections for them, but we do not need the uber-protections of the federal government deciding that it knows better than local people how to protect the fish in their environment. That is why it was important to have that balance.

Now that balance is gone, and alas, we are in a situation of debating this lamentable bill, which is just another way for the Liberal government to show the world how wonderful it is and how it understands fish habitat and the environment. However, what we are going to get is the national government deciding on fish in a ditch. This is ludicrous. This is the old, oft-used Shakespearean phrase, “The law is an ass.”

On this side of the House, we want to stand for common sense. We want to protect the fish environments that need to be protected, but we are not here just to create laws for the sake of creating laws. I know that the Canadian Electricity Association has said that this bill is two steps back. It is concerned that we are back to the pre-2012 provisions. In practical terms, this makes life tougher for its members.

On this side of the House, we will continue, as Conservatives, to represent and work with the fishers, the farmers, and the industry groups to make sure that their concerns are heard and to make sure that fish are protected but that our economy can move forward. That is why I am a Conservative, and that is why I oppose this bill.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 7:30 p.m.
See context

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

moved that Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, before I begin, I wish to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Anishinabe peoples.

I am very pleased to once again address the House in support of Bill C-69. This is a key priority of our government. With the bill, we are keeping our promise to put in place better rules to protect our environment and build a stronger economy. It reflects our view that the economy and the environment must go hand in hand and that Canada works best when Canadians work together.

I am going to speak about why our government introduced the bill, and why there is a clear need for better rules to protect our environment and govern how decisions about resource development are made. I will talk about how the bill's balanced approach addresses the priorities of indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and how it delivers what Canadians expect.

I will also describe how our better rules will benefit all Canadians, how they will lead to a cleaner environment for our children, more investment as good projects go ahead, and more jobs and economic opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

We made a commitment when we formed government to regain public trust and help get Canada's resources to market. We committed to put in place new, fair processes that would ensure major project approvals are based on science and indigenous knowledge, that serve the public interest, and that allow good projects to proceed.

Why is this so important? Madam Speaker, $500 billion in major resource projects are being planned across Canada over the next decade. We need rules and processes in place that will allow these projects to move forward. Under the previous system, people lost confidence in Canada's environmental assessment processes.

Since participation in the review of major projects was limited, some Canadians were not able to contribute their knowledge and expertise.

The decision-making process was opaque, and Canadians began to fear that decisions on projects were being made based on political considerations, not on science and evidence.

Furthermore, after amendments were made to the Fisheries Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act, Canadians discovered that major protections had been lost, leaving Canada's fish, waterways, and communities at risk.

The changes made by the previous government eroded public trust and without public trust, it became very difficult for good projects to move forward. Weaker rules hurt both our environment and our economy.

All these changes eroded public trust, and without public trust, it became very difficult for good projects to move forward. Weaker rules hurt both our environment and our economy. If Canada wants to capitalize on the next wave of resource development, we need better rules that reflect Canadians' priorities and concerns, provide certainty, and foster the competitiveness of proponents operating in Canada, while respecting our responsibility to protect the environment.

Knowing this, we introduced interim principles in 2016 to guide our government in reviewing major projects until we could put the better rules in place.

To rebuild trust in the environmental assessment process, our government launched a 14-month review involving two expert panels and two parliamentary committees. Input from provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, companies, environmental groups, and Canadians from across the country informed a discussion paper released in June 2017 and, ultimately, helped shape the approach set out in this bill. What we heard through those panels and committees is that Canadians want a modern environmental assessment and regulatory system that protects the environment, supports reconciliation with indigenous peoples, attracts investment, and ensures that good projects go ahead in a timely way to create new jobs and economic opportunities for the middle class. We have also heard from industry about the importance of a clear and predictable process.

Bill C-69 would put in place the better rules that Canadians and companies expect. Thanks to indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians who contributed their knowledge and perspectives, this bill would help rebuild public trust through key improvements that include decisions that are transparent and guided by robust science and indigenous knowledge; project reviews that consider a wide range of positive and negative impacts on the economy, health, indigenous rights, and communities, in addition to the environment; more timely and predictable review processes; measures to advance reconciliation and partnership with indigenous peoples; reduced duplication and red tape through a one project-one review approach; and through amendments to the current Navigation Protection Act, restored protection for every navigable waterway in Canada. It also complements Bill C-68, which proposes changes to the Fisheries Act to ensure it provides strong and meaningful protection for our fish and waters.

As I said, we made a commitment to restore public trust in Canada's environmental assessment system, to restore the protections that were lost, and to make sure that Canadians can trust the review process and its results.

It is essential that we ensure that all decisions are transparent and serve the public interest in order to restore trust. That is exactly what Bill C-69 would accomplish.

Under the previous system, Canadians had no idea how decisions were made. Under our new rules, Canadians can rest assured that all major project reviews are done fairly and based on evidence, that all decisions serve the public interest, and that good projects will go ahead.

Bill C-69 would clarify that project approval would be based on the impact assessment report. Decisions would also have to fully consider the factors that informed the review, as well as key public interest factors, including the project's contribution to sustainability and impacts on indigenous rights. That means all final decisions would need to have a clear basis in facts and evidence.

That alone is a major advance over the previous system, but even this important step is not enough to restore trust if Canadians are not informed about how final decisions have been made. To build that trust whenever a final decision is made on a project, a public statement of the rationale for that decision would be issued. That statement would clearly demonstrate to Canadians how the assessment report formed the basis for the decision and how factors like sustainability were taken into account.

To make good decisions, we need good processes that take into account a broad range of considerations. Bill C-69 provides clarity on the factors that would guide project reviews. We know that the impacts of major projects go beyond the environment alone. Projects also affect Canada's economy, our health, and our communities. They can also affect indigenous peoples and their rights.

Our government also recognizes that not all effects of major projects are negative. They also have positive impacts, like creating well-paying jobs for local communities. That is why under our new rules, both positive and negative consequences, economic, environmental, social, and health, would be taken into account. At the same time, tailored guidelines for project reviews would ensure they focus on factors relevant to the specific project.

These improvements will help improve the decision-making process and enhance public trust. Indigenous people, businesses, and the general public will know ahead of time what factors will guide project reviews. These reviews and the resulting assessment reports will the provide the basis for the final decisions.

Public decision statements will provide Canadians with the assurance that key factors were properly taken into consideration and that all decisions serve the public interest.

Without the support and partnership of indigenous peoples, there is no way to move forward with major resource projects. This is not optional. It is integral to ensuring that indigenous peoples, and all Canadians, can benefit from increased jobs and investment.

That is why Bill C-69 fully reflects our government's commitment to a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. This has been a focus of our government from the very beginning. We have taken important steps to put that commitment into action.

For example, we announced our full support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, we are working in partnership with indigenous peoples to develop a new recognition and implementation of rights framework, and we are making major new investments in education, health, infrastructure, and indigenous communities.

This bill puts our commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People at the forefront, in the preambles of impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act.

It also states that, when exercising their powers under the impact assessment act, the government, the minister, the agency, and federal authorities must respect the government’s commitments with regard to the rights of the indigenous peoples of Canada.

The new Canadian energy regulator's mandate will specify that it is to exercise its powers and perform its duties in the same manner.

Indigenous peoples, as well as stakeholders and the public, would have meaningful opportunities to participate in project reviews from the start and throughout the process. Recognizing the important contributions that indigenous knowledge makes to project reviews, our bill would make it mandatory to consider this knowledge alongside science and other evidence in every assessment, and would require transparency about how it was taken into account and used. At the same time, it would provide strong protection for the confidentiality of indigenous knowledge across all parts of the bill.

I have said that our better rules are designed to help good projects move forward to get Canada's resources to market. Companies have told us what they need to make sure that happens: clear, timely, and predictable processes that provide certainty at every stage.

Under our proposed legislation, one agency, the proposed impact assessment agency of Canada, would be the federal lead for all major project reviews. This would mean more consistent, more predictable reviews for all projects. At the same time, the agency would work closely with regulatory bodies so that their valuable expertise could continue to inform assessments.

A revised project list would provide clarity for companies, indigenous communities, environmental groups, municipalities, and all citizens on how our new rules would apply. We have consulted with Canadians on the criteria that would guide that revised list, and we will be consulting again in the fall on the proposed list itself.

Our bill would require a new early planning and engagement phase before an impact assessment could begin. This new phase would help companies identify and address issues early on. It would result in a clear set of products to guide the impact assessment. These would include tailored impact statement guidelines that are scoped to reflect the scale and complexity of the project, a co-operation plan, an indigenous engagement and partnership plan, a public participation plan, and a permitting plan.

While a broad set of factors would be considered in early planning, the tailored guidelines would reflect only those that are relevant to the specific project. Following early planning, proponents would be notified if a project is likely to have unacceptable impacts. This would not stop the process. Instead, it would allow the company to make an informed decision about whether, or how, to go forward with the project in the impact assessment process.

As I have said, companies would have a clear understanding of what would be taken into account in the review itself, including positive and negative effects on the environment, the economy, health, and communities. Companies could also be certain about how final decisions are made. They would be based on the assessment report, and on consideration of key public interest factors, including the project's contribution to sustainability. This would be clearly demonstrated through public decision statements.

To provide the timely decisions and reviews companies expect, Bill C-69 sets out clear time limits for each stage of the process, including the new early planning phase. That includes 300 days for reviews carried out by a review panel with input from a life cycle regulator. When justified, more complex projects may take up to 600 days. This is a major improvement over the 2012 Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the CEAA, which allowed up to 120 days for all reviews carried out by review panels.

This bill will also reduce red tape and prevent duplication through opportunities to collaborate with the provinces. It provides for joint assessments in which a single assessment process can meet the requirements of several levels of government. The bill also provides for substitution should a process carried out by another level of government satisfy the federal government's requirements.

Bill C-69 will facilitate a smooth transition toward the new impact assessment system. The bill would set objective criteria to determine which projects will continue to be reviewed under the 2012 CEAA, give companies the option to go through the new process, and confirm that nobody will ever be sent back to square one.

This bill would also provide certainty and help restore public trust by providing opportunities for public participation at every stage of the review process.

When it comes to resource development, public trust and support are essential for projects to move forward. That will not happen if Canadians are not able to take part in project reviews. Bill C-69 would remove the “standing test” imposed by CEAA 2012, so that a broader range of Canadians could contribute their knowledge and perspectives.

With the new early planning and engagement phase, Canadians would be able to make their voices heard from the beginning.

Bill C-69 would provide for the public and for indigenous peoples to participate in a meaningful manner, and would ensure that they have the information and tools they need and the ability to share their thoughts and expertise.

The bill would strike a balance between allowing for meaningful participation and the need for assessments to be completed in a timely manner.

Canadians want projects to be approved based on scientific facts and indigenous knowledge. Our government is committed to adopting policies based on evidence, and Bill C-69 is proof of that.

This bill includes a clear commitment to implementing the act in a way that respects the principles of scientific integrity, honesty, objectivity, rigour, and accuracy. This is perfectly in line with our strong commitment to science and shows that we intend to implement this act.

Bill C-69 also provides for regional and strategic assessments. These studies would inform project reviews by looking at crosscutting issues and cumulative impacts, those that go beyond any one project. To ensure they can play an important role in our impact assessment system, these reviews would benefit from the best available advice and fully take into account indigenous knowledge. We are committed to moving forward with these assessments, beginning with a strategic assessment on climate change.

As we transition to the new system, we will invest up to just over $1 billion over five years to support the proposed new impact assessment regime and Canadian energy regulator; increased scientific capacity in federal departments and agencies; changes required to protect water, fish and navigation; and increased indigenous and public participation.

I am extremely proud of our government's work on this bill. It is the result of extensive public engagement and fulfills the commitment we made when we formed government: to rebuild public trust and get Canada's resources to market sustainably.

I want to acknowledge that many people have contributed to the development of this bill. Of course, I want to recognize the indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians who participated in our 14-month review process, as well as those who have continued to engage after we introduced the bill.

I also want to recognize the members of this House who have contributed to debate on Bill C-69 and its further development. In particular I want to express my appreciation for the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Their efforts in hearing from witnesses and amending the bill have resulted in important changes that have strengthened the legislation.

Throughout this process, the government and the standing committee worked on adopting a balanced approach that addresses the priorities of indigenous peoples, the industry, environmental groups, and other stakeholders. I think that, together, we succeeded.

Through this balanced approach, our better rules will protect Canada's environment, help good projects move forward, and recognize and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples. I think all of us in the House can support that.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 10:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to stand this evening to debate Bill C-69. I would like to say a number of things at the outset. The most obvious one is that the Liberals broke their promise with the bill. It has nothing to do with the wording of the bill and everything to do with the size of it.

First, the government said it would not have omnibus legislation and, as my colleagues mentioned earlier this evening, this is a 370-page bill. It cannot be put in any other context than it is an omnibus bill.

The second broken promise is that the bill is not very environmentally supportive by its very voluminous weight. It could have helped, in spite of its size, if it really would improve our environment, but this bill fails to do that.

A number of things have been said about the bill this evening and I will come back to those. However, a whole host of events has taken place around the rhetoric the government has put in this bill. The Liberals talk about trying to improve the environment, to create more jobs, and to improve those jobs, but they have ended up killing two pipelines already. One was the northern gateway pipeline across northern British Columbia to get oil in Alberta over to the west coast. The other one was the eastern access line to move oil to the New Brunswick area for refining purposes in that part of Canada.

Before I elaborate on that, I should inform the House that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Edmonton West. I know he will have much to say about the situation taking place in Alberta.

My perspective comes from the small amount of oil in southwest Manitoba, which happens to all be in my constituency. This is a very important issue to the communities, maybe not to Winnipeg as much, though it is impacted because a lot of income comes out of that area from this oil, and to the people who live in those communities and on the farms in that region as well. A great deal of work is being done by the oil industry in the southwest region, from trucking to the building of lines to the building of batteries to the moving oil from the wells to the batteries to the tracks to the loading facilities. We also have a major pipeline running right through the middle of my constituency, which moves the oil east and down through the United States.

There are thousands of jobs in my little southwest corner of Manitoba because of this industry. That is why it is so important to have certainty in this industry. It impacts the lives of individuals on farms as well. I went through the downturn in the farm economy, particularly BSE in 2003, droughts in 2003, and flooding in 2005, 2011, and 2014. Therefore, off-farm jobs in the oil industry have been a stabilizing factor in many of the family operations in southwest Manitoba.

It is pretty important to ensure there are sound rules so investors in the economy, not just in my area but more particularly in Alberta, Saskatchewan and, to a certain extent in Newfoundland, have the assurance they can make investments and know they will get returns from those investments.

I will refer to my colleague from Carleton when this debate started. He had a good economics lesson, I thought it was Economics 101, about whether the government learned anything from the lesson he was trying to teach about how important it was to have a sound investment process. We know that comes with great difficulty in Canada right now, and there is a lot of concern about it. As he pointed out, and as we all know, the country's debt is three times higher than it was supposed to be this year.

One thing I did not know, and it is worth repeating, is there are overpayments in Ontario's hydro of $176 billion over the last 30 years. That is a tremendous amount of money, when we consider that is a quarter of Canada's debt. The other number we need to bear in mind is that we have already lost $88 billion worth of investment in our oil industry. It has moved out of the country. It has gone south, as my colleague from Calgary Shepard just indicated. Thousands of jobs have gone south, 101,000 jobs in Alberta alone.

There is a little more drilling going on right now in our area of southwest Manitoba, but the bill would not help that economy survive. Bill C-69, this omnibus legislation, and the amount of regulations in it would not make it easier to grow our economy, which puts people to work.

I was the environment critic for seven of the 14 years I was in the Manitoba legislature. I want to put a few things into perspective. When we look at a situation where infrastructure and investment is required, the government always talks about how we can have both, the economy and the environment. That is not new. It is certainly not foreign to anybody in the House or to any Canadian for that matter.

This is about ensuring that Canadians know that the environment and the economy have gone hand in hand probably since oil was found in Canada in the late 1940s, early 1950s. Anyone who does not abide by those rules of trying to ensure the environment is kept as pristine as we possibly can is not paying attention. My colleagues have already stated tonight that we have the cleanest rules for dealing with environmental packages of anywhere in the world, particularly in our oil industry.

Rules have been brought, and not just in Bill C-69 or Bill C-68, the Fisheries Act. We know full that the efforts in Bill C-69 will not help the economy in any way. They certainly will not make jobs.

As I said, I was asked to become the environment shadow minister in Manitoba when I was first elected in 1999. It was either conservation or the environment. As the representative for Arthur-Virden, the constituency receives water from all of eastern Saskatchewan, southeastern Saskatchewan as well as northeastern Saskatchewan, and all of it comes into the Souris River, coming down the Assiniboine, and even through the Qu'Appelle in central Saskatchewan.

We know the impacts of what the environment can do to our province. The current provincial government is spending its infrastructure dollars rather responsibly. It is using them to protect cities like Brandon and Winnipeg particularly, Portage la Prairie, and the shorelines of Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg. This is responsible management. Why? It is because the provincial government is spending the money on infrastructure to prevent flooding, instead of paying billions out after the fact in flood damages and devastation.

The Liberals need to heed that example and respect investments, instead of killing investment opportunities like the eastern access and northern gateway. These are important issues.

I could go on about a lot of other shortfalls in the bill. Changes to the National Energy Board is just one of them. It may have needed tweaking, but the government decided it knew best and threw out the baby with the bathwater.

My colleague, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, certainly has more experience, having a master's in biology, and he has certainly hit the nail on the head with respect to the Fisheries Act and Bill C-68. I have spoken to him about this bill as well.

I just want to wrap up by saying that I will not be supporting Bill C-69 for a number of reasons outlined, particularly by my colleague from Abbotsford today, as well—

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 6:45 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

moved:

That, in relation to Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and

That, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at report stage and 15 minutes before the end of Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 6:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, here we go all over again. I am going to bring the House back to 2015, when the member for Papineau was campaigning and said that if he were elected prime minister that debate would reign, that he would not enforce time allocation. Here we are, and I believe this is the 42nd time that we are seeing time allocation, and on such an important bill.

The Liberals are saying that they are restoring and fixing Bill C-68, the Fisheries Act, which is a historical piece of legislation, because they are undoing the harmful changes that our Conservative government did in 2012. They are putting back the HADD provisions, yet they sidestep any obligation to uphold the HADD regulations in this legislation by providing the minister with the ability to exempt certain provisions. We know that the Fisheries Act is vitally important. Why is the minister trying to once again limit the debate on such an important piece of legislation for Canadians?

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 6:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Hochelaga for her questions.

I also thank the NDP for its support for Bill C-68. I had the opportunity to work with her colleague, the NDP critic. Some amendments were adopted by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, including very positive amendments proposed by the NDP. I think this is a good example of committee members working together. The suggestions made by witnesses and the examples we received from other administrations helped us strengthen and improve the bill. I am very proud of that. I thank the NDP for its important work in this regard.

The time allocation motion should come as no surprise because we made important commitments to Canadians during the 2015 election. We have worked closely with parliamentarians for several months. We conducted extensive public consultations. We held widespread consultations to get Canadians' suggestions on how we could modernize and improve the Fisheries Act.

We think the time has come for the House of Commons to vote on this important bill. What is more, we will have to wait for our colleagues in the Senate and work with them because they too need to study and debate this major bill. I hope we will be able to work with them in a very constructive manner in the fall, if the bill has reached that stage by then.

Bill C-68—Time Allocation MotionFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 6:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, our hon. colleague across the way talked about open and transparent ways and about consulting with Canadians. One of the issues our fisheries committee found when we were studying this was that a lot of communities and a lot of Canadians feel that they have not been truly consulted. By shuttering debate and forcing time allocation, the minister is indeed saying that all the members of Parliament on this side of the House, and all the Canadians, the electors, who elected the opposition, really do not have a say, and their views really do not matter. They are shuttering debate and not allowing all the members of Parliament to have a say on this bill.

It is interesting that the minister talks about the commitment to openness and transparency, because what this bill would also do is undermine transparency and due process by allowing the minister to withhold critical information from interested proponents. It would also give the minister sole discretion to make policy without consultation, something similar to what we are seeing with the surf clams and how that is impacting the town of Grand Bank. Bill C-68 is just another bill that would give the minister the authority to go in and make policy without consulting Canadians, and that is wrong.

Would my hon. colleague across the way not admit that perhaps shuttering debate on a bill that is so fundamental, while talking about openness and transparency, might be just a bit too far-fetched?

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 8 p.m.
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Liberal

Churence Rogers Liberal Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, NL

Mr. Speaker, we cannot take the vitality of our fisheries for granted. The fish and seafood sector is the heart and soul of many rural coastal and indigenous communities across Canada, and indeed of my riding of Bonavista—Burin—Trinity. Fisheries provide good middle-class jobs that draw on traditions stemming back hundreds of years. However, communities need support to meet the challenges of the 21st century. That is why I am proud to support Bill C-68, which would restore lost habitat protections and modernize safeguards to the Fisheries Act.

Our government committed to helping middle-class Canadians and to growing our economy so that more Canadians can join it. The fishing sector plays a key role in rural and coastal communities. In the end, 76,000 Canadians make their living directly from fishing and fishing-related activities. In 2016, Canada exported 87 species of fish, and our total exports grew by 5% between 2016 and 2017. The total export value was $6.9 billion.

Fisheries support important middle-class jobs. Most of them, including self-employed inshore and coastal fish harvesters, are part of the middle class. Fish harvesters, particularly in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, have told us time and time again that they need help to secure their continued independence, and they need support to protect the socio-cultural fabric of their communities.

In many of our communities, the fish and seafood sector is the primary economic driver, as well as the glue that holds people together. In other words, it not only puts food on the table, it also creates fodder for conversations around the table. In coastal communities, talk around the dinner table is about fundamental questions: Will the fisheries provide a living for generations to come, the way it has for us? Can we get a decent return on our investment?

Today we are acting for future generations. Bill C-68 would restore lost habitat protections and would provide for the making of modern regulations to help sustain the fisheries for many generations to come. While Bill C-68 covers many areas, I would like to focus on how it would impact the inshore and coastal fishery in eastern Canada.

Fishing remains one of the region's main industries. In 2016 alone, it generated $2.3 billion in landed value from inshore fleets. However, these impressive numbers cannot be taken for granted. Fish harvesters in Atlantic Canada and Quebec told us that to maintain an economically viable inshore fishery, licences need to be kept in the hands of independent, small boat owner-operators, and the fish harvesters need to be the ones making decisions about and receiving the benefit of their licences.

There are currently no legislative or regulatory requirements in place with respect to the rebuilding of depleted fish stocks. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, along with the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, has recommended that any revision to the Fisheries Act should include direction for the restoration and recovery of fish habitat and stocks. In addition, environmental groups have also called on the government to adopt measures aimed at rebuilding depleted fish stocks within the Fisheries Act.

That is why the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans recommended improvements to Bill C-68 to strengthen the provisions on the rebuilding of stocks so that the minister implements measures to maintain prescribed fish stocks at or above the level necessary to promote the sustainability of the stock, while taking account of the biology of the fish and the environmental conditions affecting the stock. If a prescribed fish stock does decline to a depleted level, the government will develop a plan to rebuild that stock.

The government realizes that maintaining a stock or rebuilding it to healthy levels may not always be possible for environmental reasons, or in some cases because of the adverse economic effects that some measures may impose on communities.

However, the legislation will require that when these cases arise, Canadians will be informed and provided with the reasons. The aim is to manage fishery resource sustainability for the long-term benefit of Canadians and to help ensure long-term stability of our fisheries for current and future generations. As the Prime Minister stated, we need the right balance between the environment and the economy.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has policies to help maintain a strong and independent inshore fleet. These policies aim to keep the benefits from the inshore fishery flowing to licence-holders and communities that are dependent on the resource. Successive governments have recognized that a licensing regime that supports independent inshore harvesters is crucial to the livelihoods of coastal communities that depend on the fisheries.

Bill C-68 would clarify the authority to make regulations that would support and strengthen owner-operator and fleet separation policies. In so doing, middle-class jobs in our coastal communities would be protected. Specifically, clarified authorities in the act would support the development of much-needed regulations relating to the inshore fisheries.

The department would work with stakeholders on the development of regulations that would seek to strengthen the independence of the inshore fish harvesters in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. The objective of the regulations would help individual inshore licence-holders keep greater control over their enterprises and livelihoods. The regulations could also provide for strengthened rules around how licences are issued. For example, the government could strengthen support for the fleet separation policy by prohibiting the issuance of inshore licences to certain types of corporations. Once regulations are in place, the department would take enforcement actions when there is non-compliance. Licence-holders could face severe consequences, even lose their privileges to hold a licence, if they were to contravene these rules.

Ultimately, the government, through Bill C-68, is acting to create a stable and predictable environment for greater transparency, co-management, sustainability, and accountability. As the bill moves through third reading and the Senate, the government will continue to reach out to all Canadians from all walks of life for their input. The government is earning the trust of all Canadians with respect to fisheries protection.

I am proud to put my full support behind the proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act. I urge all hon. members to join with me so that we can ensure its speedy passage through the House.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 8:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague gave a great speech. He had talking points. It was a speech that was probably written for him by the minister's office, but I have to commend him. It was well delivered.

The fisheries committee studied Bill C-68. There were well over 50 witnesses, as well as written submissions. Not one witness was able to produce any evidence of loss of fish or fish habitat due the changes that the Conservative government made to the Fisheries Act in 2012. Is my hon. colleague aware that not one witness was able to produce any shred of evidence that there was a loss of fish or fish habitat?

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 8:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-68, an act to amend the Fisheries Act and other acts in consequence. I would like to start by stating that the official opposition supports the protection of our oceans and fisheries. Our previous changes to the Fisheries Act in 2012 were enacted to support transparency in the decision-making process and to provide a level of certainty to those invested in that act. Unfortunately, the Liberal government is proposing amendments through Bill C-68 that add additional layers of regulatory uncertainty.

The hon. Sergio Marchi, president and CEO of the Canadian Electricity Association stated that while Canada's electricity sector remains committed to protecting and conserving our natural resources, Bill C-68 “represents one step forward but two steps back”. The Canadian Electricity Association's concerns centre on the government's shortsightedness in choosing to return to pre-2012 provisions of the Fisheries Act that address “activity other than fishing that results in the death of fish” and “the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction”, otherwise known as HADD, “of fish habitat”.

While the Liberals say they are restoring HADD they sidestep any obligation to uphold the HADD regulations in the legislation by providing the minister with the ability to exempt certain provisions. The CEA points out, and rightly so, that virtually any action without prior authorization could be construed as being in contravention of Bill C-68.

The Canadian nuclear agency shares these concerns. In its testimony before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans it stated that the definition of fish habitat has been changed so that the term now means “water frequented by fish”, while retaining the “directly or indirectly” terminology. The Canadian Nuclear Association warned that this has the potential to include waters not designated to support fish, like tailing ponds, or drainage ditches, or waters not intended to be fish habitats, or where no fish are present at any time of the year. As such, it called on the government to revise the term “fish habitat” to exclude these structures.

The Canadian Electricity Association echoed the same sentiment, seeking amendments to provide greater certainty around the definition of fish and fish habitat, focusing on fish population conservation.

Ontario Power Generation agrees. In its written statement to the standing committee it recommended that exceptions, including intake canals and other structures that were constructed for the purpose of facility operations and not intended to be frequented by fish, should also be considered.

All of this is falling on deaf ears. Bill C-68 would also result in greater uncertainties for existing and new facilities and discourage yet more investment opportunities in energy projects, something the government seems to be quite good at.

The Canadian Nuclear Association in its submission to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans stated, “the concept of 'cumulative impact' is not only a key issue with respect to the environment, but also with respect to sustained investment in Canadian energy projects”.

The Canadian Nuclear Association's testimony continued, highlighting the plight of Canada's energy sector, advising that, “Right now, investment in Canada is facing significant challenges - including uncertainty caused by a suite of changes to federal and provincial regulatory policies, trade restrictions, corporate and individual tax rates”. This regulatory uncertainty is shared throughout industry.

The Canadian Electricity Association recommends that the minister be required to consult with any jurisdiction also exercising potentially duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting orders. Regulations are important. No one in any industry in Canada would refute the need for regulations. However, it makes no sense that a company has to go through the same regulatory conditions at every level of government simply to satisfy duplicate regulatory conditions. This costs time and money, and ultimately it costs investment opportunities.

This is at a time when the U.S. President's tariff action against Canadian steel and aluminum remains unfair and a serious threat to workers across the country who rely on this industry to put food on the table for their families, at a time when, according to Statistics Canada, the total foreign direct investment in Canadian oil and gas extraction slumped 7.4% in 2017, down to $162.2 billion.

That is due to a hasty retreat by international oil producers last year, including massive divestment by Royal Dutch Shell, about $9.3 billion, and ConocoPhillips, about $17.7 billion, totalling nearly $30 billion.

The government's carbon-tax scheme threatens to increase the cost of living for every Canadian, emphasized by the new report recently released by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. It found that the Liberal carbon tax will take $10 billion out of the Canadian economy by 2022, while other estimates argue that it could be as much as $35 billion per year, hurting jobs, workers, and families.

The current Liberal government is compelled to introduce bills like Bill C-68, which would add layers of regulatory ambiguity, adding massive uncertainty in an already turbulent investment climate. When will the government realize that investment opportunities are highly perishable prospects?

Bill C-68, like other bills, such as Bill C-69, appears to undermine transparency and due process by allowing the minister to withhold critical information from interested proponents, which runs contrary to the Prime Minister's promise of a more open and transparent government.

The act would require the minister to take into account indigenous knowledge and expertise when it was provided, and all decisions would have to take into account the possible impact on indigenous rights. However, that knowledge would be protected from being revealed publicly, or even to a project's proponents, without explicit permission from the indigenous community or the people who provided it.

The government has announced $284 million in new money to implement and enforce the new law through the hiring of new fisheries officers to enforce the act and educate people about it. There are, however, no timelines or details on when and how many officers would be hired. This bill would allow for the establishment of advisory panels and for members to be remunerated. However, there is no guidance or limitation on their use.

Bill C-68 would expand the reach of a prohibition against anything that alters or impacts fish habitat to all waters where fish exist. As the member for Cariboo—Prince George indicated earlier, the goal of the Fisheries Act is and should remain to protect and enhance Canada's fish stocks while avoiding any unnecessary negative economic impacts on industries that rely on access to Canadian land and water. In 2012, the Conservative government improved fisheries conservation, prioritized fish productivity, protected significant fisheries, and streamlined an overly bureaucratic process. The current government, though, through Bill C-68, would revert to rules that caused confusion, were difficult to enforce, and that negatively impacted farmers, communities, and resource development. The only real winners here would be regulatory lawyers, who would reap the rewards of Bill C-68.

I have no doubt that my colleagues across the way will question our commitment to the preservation of fish habitat. I have said before that we clearly support the protection of our fisheries and oceans. What the current government fails to understand is that they can protect the environment and have responsible resource development. It only makes sense to protect fish habitat if they want a robust fisheries economy, and that is what the current Fisheries Act does.

It is my hope that the government will continue consulting with industry on fish-habitat restoration plans moving forward. The government's knowledge and appreciation for the protection of fisheries is essential. We will continue to work closely with fishers, farmers, industry groups, and communities to ensure that their questions are heard.

I would rather be having a longer debate instead of being under time allocation, but this is the situation we are in. I look forward to questions from my hon. colleagues.