Mr. Speaker, one would think the Liberals would have learned from their wrong a year ago, since Bill C-69 was so badly crafted and so seriously flawed that they had to make 200 of their own amendments at the last minute before they shut down debate in the House and at committee and rammed it through. That is why senators had to almost completely rewrite it. The Liberals refused to let MPs do their jobs on behalf of Canadians, and they have prevented all of us from doing that duty here today as well. Even though last night it took the Speaker over half an hour just to read all the changes we are debating today, the Liberals are doing it again and will ram through this bad bill.
Canadians across the country are very concerned. Eric Nuttall, a Toronto-based senior portfolio manager with Ninepoint Partners who invests in Canadian oil and gas stocks, described what the Liberals are doing to Canada's oil and gas sector as “borderline treasonous”.
A recent Financial Post op-ed said that Bill C-69 is a bill “written by economic ignoramuses who have no understanding as to why Canada enjoys high living standards”, and called it “sabotage”.
Why is such a broad coalition of voices opposed to Bill C-69? It would damage all of Canada in different ways. It would seriously hinder the establishment of major energy infrastructure, and it is about whether Canada is a place where big-scale, capital-intensive major projects of many different kinds can be built. It is about whether Canada is competitive and can attract investments versus other jurisdictions around the world, often those with lower environmental, safety and labour standards, and fewer civil and human rights.
The Liberals are already doing so much damage. This year, the IMD world competitiveness ranking removed Canada from the top 10 most competitive economies in the world. It puts Canada 13th out of 63 countries, our worst performance in the annual survey's history, which goes back to 1997.
Bill C-69 would do so much more damage. The Liberal approach would introduce longer timelines with no maximum caps, despite the minister's claim, and vague criteria for assessments that would create more uncertainty and continue to drive money and jobs into other countries.
Bill C-69, as the Liberals will pass it, would undermine every element that is key to attracting and retaining investments and jobs in Canada, like certainty on the timelines and permanence of the process to mitigate risk as a factor in capital planning life cycles that are several years long.
There are also numerous ways Bill C-69 could create potential for delay and allow the Governor in Council to extend timelines arbitrarily without providing justification. The criteria for extensions would be defined in regulation, such that cabinet would be the only power to decide when cabinet delays a project. Project proponents, members of Parliament and Canadians would not know what the criteria are until after Bill C-69 is already law.
Among the Senate amendments the Liberals rejected that would fix their open-ended timelines are changes that would mandate the provision of reasons for suspending timelines, remove the ability for the indefinite extension of timelines, and introduce a legislated maximum time frame for the impact assessment review and for reviews under the Canadian energy regulator. The Liberals are rejecting all of those amendments.
Conservative measures in 2012 that gave certainty to the process led to dozens of oil and gas infrastructure approvals and builds, other resources projects, four major new pipelines, and the proposal of three major new pipeline projects focused almost exclusively on accessing new markets under the highest standards in the world, which Canadians expect and have always had. However, not one of these has been built, and all of them are gone because of the Liberal government.
Bill C-69 would also undermine certainty in regulation, which is critical for large-scale capital plans and to reach final investment decisions in Canada's favour, as well as performance-based policies, which benefit communities by tying incentives to measures such as job creation, R and D, innovation and capital investment. Bill C-69 would also create all kinds of uncertainty around which projects would require a federal review and around the vague project criteria against which a project would be measured.
This is one of the reasons the premiers are so angry. Planning for a provincial or federal review are two entirely different processes. The Liberals are including in the bill the power for a single minister to force any project to undergo a lengthy, costly, federal review, even if it has already gone through a provincial review. What proponent would want to take on the risk that assessment costs could double and a capital-intensive, long-term project could be delayed by years with zero warning?
The Liberals are rejecting amendments that would ensure there is a minimum threshold for project designations that guides the decision of a single minister and that would require that a single minister is not the only one giving guidance on the impacts of a project within federal jurisdiction. Liberals are rejecting these changes in favour of the unilateral, centralized power of a single minister.
Clear and concise criteria ensures predictability for all parties and that approved projects can get built, instead of having to repeat key parts of the process or spending years in court defending an approval. However, the Liberals rejected all attempts to clarify and specify criteria in Bill C-69, and are maintaining the requirement and discretion of the panel conducting the review to make determinations on subjective matters, on matters that are of public policy of any government of any given day and that are inherently political.
For example, this bill mandates that proponents must demonstrate health, social and economic effects, including with respect to the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors. Obviously, job creation, R and D, innovation and capital investment from resource development reduce poverty, benefit the economy and provide revenue for governments and for social services like health care and education, as well as funds for academic and charitable organizations, but I think proponents can be forgiven for uncertainty around how their specific projects and investments impact identity factors.
To make matters worse, the Liberals are rejecting Senate amendments requiring that the responsible minister publish guidelines on these vague criteria. Let me repeat that. The Liberals are voting against providing guidelines on their own criteria to explain what the Liberals mean with these vague criteria, which is why uncertainty appears to be a design principle of this legislation. It is an actual intention, a deliberate objective of Bill C-69 and not just a Liberal mistake.
The Liberals cannot argue that Bill C-69 would enhance scientific evidence in reviews beyond what was already done in Canada's regulatory system. In fact, during committee, Mr. Martin Olszynski of the University of Calgary pointed out that the terms “science” and “scientific” are mentioned only five times in this 400-page bill.
Another major concern with Bill C-69 is that offshore projects on Canada's east coast are targeted now for automatic panel review assessments regardless of project scope or scale. That will scare away future offshore exploration in Canada. That is why the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador raised specific concerns about the Liberals fully taking over an area that has, up until now, been a jointly administrated federal-provincial responsibility. So much for co-operative federalism, even with a Liberal premier.
The Liberals talk a big game about making life better for middle-class Canadians, but this is the reality and why we see such passion, frustration and anger from my colleagues. The reality is that the Liberal Prime Minister has turned his back and is attacking the hard-working men and women who have given so much to every part of our country through responsible resource development.
The Prime Minister talks about phasing out the oil sands and that he regrets Canada cannot get off oil tomorrow. His legislation proves that is exactly his objective.
Kevin Milligan, a professor at the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC makes the point why the debate about Bill C-69 really matters. He stated, “Nothing has contributed more than natural resources to buttressing the Canadian middle class against the rapidly changing global economy of the 21st century.” He went on to say that the “overall prosperity of the Canadian middle class depends much more on good jobs than small policy shifts around the edges. The resource sector has contributed substantially to the good jobs that underpin that middle-class resilience."
Canada's responsible resource development is the major factor behind closing the gap between wealthy and vulnerable struggling Canadians. However, the Liberals keep attacking natural resource jobs across Canada in the forestry, minerals and energy sectors, which is killing jobs and making life more expensive for middle-class families. The Liberal and the left anti-energy and anti-resource agenda is extremely short-sighted economically and it is morally wrong.
It is also bad for the environment, because Bill C-69 is based on an attack on Canada's reputation as the world's most environmentally and socially responsible resource producer, which is a fact. Since the 2015 election, and the minister did it last night, the Liberals have constantly denigrated and undermined confidence in the regulator and in Canada's reputation. They have created a vacuum for resource development in the past three and a half years. That is what has led us to where we are today with hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of work. What is really galling is that the Prime Minister is sacrificing Canada's interests to the rest of the world.
Let us listen to the experts, because this is why this does not make any sense. In 2014, Worley Parsons issued a very comprehensive report benchmarking Canada against other major oil and gas producing countries around the world. It found that Canada already had the highest environmental standards in the world and the most responsibly produced resources. That was in 2014 before the last election, and it echoed a similar conclusion before.
These are the report's conclusions, which measured performance in areas such as overall decision-making processes, cumulative assessments for regions with multiple projects, implementation of “early and meaningful consultation with stakeholders and Indigenous peoples”, including the real integration of traditional indigenous knowledge, and the implementation of effective social impact and health assessments.
Here is the truth about Canada that the Liberals do not tell:
The results of the current review re-emphasized that Canada's EA [environmental assessment] Processes are among the best in the world. Canada has state of the art guidelines for consultation, TK [traditional knowledge], and cumulative effects assessment, Canadian practitioners are among the leaders in the areas of Indigenous involvement, and social and health impact assessment. Canada has the existing frameworks, the global sharing of best practices, the government institutions and the capable people to make improvements to EA [environmental assessment] for the benefit of the country and for the benefit of the environment, communities and the economy.
[T]he review found that EA [environmental assessment] cannot be everything to everyone. In Canada, however, it is a state of the art, global best process, with real opportunities for public input, transparency in both process and outcomes, and appeal processes involving independent scientists, stakeholders, panels and courts.
However, the Liberals just stand up over and over again and attack Canada's reputation for their own partisan gain and to the detriment of every single one of us. Every time they are doing that, trying to keep their coalition of the left, the anti-energy, NDP and Green voters who voted for them in 2015, first of all, they are not being truthful, and second, they are actually empowering foreign and domestic anti-Canadian activists to shut down Canadian resources.
Perversely, Bill C-69 would ensure that countries like Iran, Algeria, Russia and Venezuela are the ones that meet the growing global demand for energy. In doing so, the Liberals boost regimes that abuse human rights and take virtually no steps to protect the environment. The world is no better off with dangerous regimes that are able to ramp up their economies because Canada has vacated the market.
The Liberal Prime Minister would rather the United States fill the void in the North American market and globally, ceding investment and jobs that should be ours to our biggest economic competitor.
The fact is that Canada has more than enough energy sources of all kinds to be energy-independent. Canada is no better off when it allows its competitors to take the field uncontested, and neither is that good for the environment. An energy-independent Canada would be a Canada firing on all cylinders across all sectors and regions.
The Liberals, therefore, need to accept 100% of the amendments made by the Senate. If they do not, this bill needs to die.
Therefore, I would like to move the following amendment to the government message:
That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the words “the House:” and substituting the following:
Agrees with amendments 1(a) to 1(y), 1(z)(ii) to (v), 1(aa) to 1(bc), 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 made by the Senate;
Proposes that amendment 1(z)(i) be amended by deleting the words “conducted by a review panel”;
Proposes that amendment 2 be amended to read as follows:
2. Clause 6, page 94:
(a) replace line 19 with the following:
“site—establish the panel's terms of reference in consultation with the Chairperson of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and ap-”; and
(b) delete lines 34 and 35
Proposes that amendment 3 be amended by adding the following: “(c) delete lines 23 and 24”
That is the bare minimum that the Liberals must do for every single community in every corner of this country and for our long-term future, and to keep Canada proud, strong and free.