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

Sponsor

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Oct. 4, 2018

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Summary

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

Part 1 enacts the Impact Assessment Act and repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. Among other things, the Impact Assessment Act

(a) names the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada as the authority responsible for impact assessments;

(b) provides for a process for assessing the environmental, health, social and economic effects of designated projects with a view to preventing certain adverse effects and fostering sustainability;

(c) prohibits proponents, subject to certain conditions, from carrying out a designated project if the designated project is likely to cause certain environmental, health, social or economic effects, unless the Minister of the Environment or Governor in Council determines that those effects are in the public interest, taking into account the impacts on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada, all effects that may be caused by the carrying out of the project, the extent to which the project contributes to sustainability and other factors;

(d) establishes a planning phase for a possible impact assessment of a designated project, which includes requirements to cooperate with and consult certain persons and entities and requirements with respect to public participation;

(e) authorizes the Minister to refer an impact assessment of a designated project to a review panel if he or she considers it in the public interest to do so, and requires that an impact assessment be referred to a review panel if the designated project includes physical activities that are regulated under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and the Canada–Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act;

(f) establishes time limits with respect to the planning phase, to impact assessments and to certain decisions, in order to ensure that impact assessments are conducted in a timely manner;

(g) provides for public participation and for funding to allow the public to participate in a meaningful manner;

(h) sets out the factors to be taken into account in conducting an impact assessment, including the impacts on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada;

(i) provides for cooperation with certain jurisdictions, including Indigenous governing bodies, through the delegation of any part of an impact assessment, the joint establishment of a review panel or the substitution of another process for the impact assessment;

(j) provides for transparency in decision-making by requiring that the scientific and other information taken into account in an impact assessment, as well as the reasons for decisions, be made available to the public through a registry that is accessible via the Internet;

(k) provides that the Minister may set conditions, including with respect to mitigation measures, that must be implemented by the proponent of a designated project;

(l) provides for the assessment of cumulative effects of existing or future activities in a specific region through regional assessments and of federal policies, plans and programs, and of issues, that are relevant to the impact assessment of designated projects through strategic assessments; and

(m) sets out requirements for an assessment of environmental effects of non-designated projects that are on federal lands or that are to be carried out outside Canada.

Part 2 enacts the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, which establishes the Canadian Energy Regulator and sets out its composition, mandate and powers. The role of the Regulator is to regulate the exploitation, development and transportation of energy within Parliament’s jurisdiction.

The Canadian Energy Regulator Act, among other things,

(a) provides for the establishment of a Commission that is responsible for the adjudicative functions of the Regulator;

(b) ensures the safety and security of persons, energy facilities and abandoned facilities and the protection of property and the environment;

(c) provides for the regulation of pipelines, abandoned pipelines, and traffic, tolls and tariffs relating to the transmission of oil or gas through pipelines;

(d) provides for the regulation of international power lines and certain interprovincial power lines;

(e) provides for the regulation of renewable energy projects and power lines in Canada’s offshore;

(f) provides for the regulation of access to lands;

(g) provides for the regulation of the exportation of oil, gas and electricity and the interprovincial oil and gas trade; and

(h) sets out the process the Commission must follow before making, amending or revoking a declaration of a significant discovery or a commercial discovery under the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act and the process for appealing a decision made by the Chief Conservation Officer or the Chief Safety Officer under that Act.

Part 2 also repeals the National Energy Board Act.

Part 3 amends the Navigation Protection Act to, among other things,

(a) rename it the Canadian Navigable Waters Act;

(b) provide a comprehensive definition of navigable water;

(c) require that, when making a decision under that Act, the Minister must consider any adverse effects that the decision may have on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Canada;

(d) require that an owner apply for an approval for a major work in any navigable water;

(e)  set out the factors that the Minister must consider when deciding whether to issue an approval;

(f) provide a process for addressing navigation-related concerns when an owner proposes to carry out a work in navigable waters that are not listed in the schedule;

(g) provide the Minister with powers to address obstructions in any navigable water;

(h) amend the criteria and process for adding a reference to a navigable water to the schedule;

(i) require that the Minister establish a registry; and

(j) provide for new measures for the administration and enforcement of the Act.

Part 4 makes consequential amendments to Acts of Parliament and regulations.

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 20, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of 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
June 20, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of 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
June 19, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of 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 (previous question)
June 11, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of 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
June 11, 2018 Failed 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 (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed 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 (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed 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 (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed 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 (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed 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 (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed 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 (report stage amendment)
June 6, 2018 Passed Time allocation for 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
March 19, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of 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
March 19, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of 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
Feb. 27, 2018 Passed Time allocation for 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

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 27th, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has to understand the difference in terms of what was in place before. There was never a political decision made on any pipeline approval that was there. It was based strictly on the National Energy Board, which is a non-partisan, arm's length decision process. That is how those decisions were made.

However, let us understand what would be in place now with Bill C-69. At every single step of the way, there would be an opportunity for political interference from the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, where she could step in and ask for a delay, stop the clock, or even ask for an entire new study to be done. That is significantly different from the quasi-judicial system we had under the National Energy Board that ensured we had the best record in the world when it came to environmental standards for natural resource development.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 27th, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I completely agree, except in this case I do not think there is any room in Bill C-69 for any science-based decision-making. It is quite clear that there would be one person making the decision moving forward on any infrastructure project when it comes to our natural resources. That is mining, LNG, oil and gas, and 7% of our economy is based on these sectors. One person only would be making the decision, not based on any science, environmental stewardship, reports, or analysis. It would be the minister who decides if a project is in the public interest or not.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 27th, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Foothills for his most inspiring, factual, and authentic speech.

Bill C-69, part 2, is the part I want to expand on a bit further. It is the part of the bill that replaces the National Energy Board and proposes a Canadian energy regulator. The entire process is supposed to increase clarity, predictability, and transparency. However, it fails on all three counts.

Of course this does not come as much of a surprise since the Liberal government has an outstanding record when it comes to breaking its campaign promises. We have seen numerous commitments, both big and small, meet untimely ends before ever achieving the goals set forth by the Liberals. Bill C-69 offers the same failing formula. The Liberal platform claims to “make environmental assessments credible again.” For one to make that promise, one has to start with the premise that the entire environmental assessment process had lost credibility somewhere along the way.

We recognize that there are always room for improvements to be made to existing processes, ways of doing things more simply and more effectively. However, when I look back over these last two years of so-called Liberal improvements, I wonder how much differently things would look if the Liberals were intentionally trying to sabotage the process. It's probably not much. I do not think it could get much worse.

Far from making the process more credible, the Liberals have mismanaged this file to such an extent that nothing can get built in this country. In particular, the Liberals have pushed the view that by building social licence, somehow all of the roadblocks to responsible resource development will disappear. In reality, attempts to improve social trust and build social licence have not increased resource or national infrastructure development.

Before I go any further, I want to turn back the clock to consider what was being said about Canada's environmental review process several years ago. Before the lack of leadership that we are witnessing today, Canada had long been recognized internationally and by experts as the most responsible and transparent producer of oil and gas. A 2014 WorleyParsons report compared the environmental assessment processes and policies around oil and gas development across the globe. When it came to environmental assessments, the report concluded:

The results of the current review re-emphasized that Canada's [Environmental Assessment] Processes are among the best in the world. Canada [has] state of the art guidelines for consultation, [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 [environmental assessment] for the benefit of the country and for the benefit of the environment, communities and the economy.

It goes on to state:

In summary, the review found that [environmental assessment] cannot be everything to everyone. In Canada, however, it is a state of the art, global best practice, with real opportunities for public input, transparency in both process and outcomes, and appeal processes involving independent scientists, stakeholders...and courts

That was in 2014. Looking back at 2014, Canada was considered a world leader in environmental assessment. We had the most stringent standards and most rigorous review process in the world. As I said earlier, no system is perfect, and just like with any other statute or regulation, there are always sections that could be improved. The regulatory system tries to strike a balance between projects and the environment, between predictability and social factors. It is not a perfect system. However, it is far better than the regime we are going to have under the imposement of Bill C-69. Instead of making the system better, the Liberals have simply made it worse. Under the Liberal government, the environmental assessment system lacks clarity, predictability, and transparency.

Let us look at what Bill C-69 does to clarity. The changes proposed in the bill would make the regulatory process more unclear. This does not serve anyone, whether we are talking about investors looking to participate in responsible resource development or Canadians who care deeply about this process. What is proposed is a move away from science-based decision-making processes.

For example, references to sustainability, identity, and gender-based analysis are difficult to quantify in a standardized test. This is, much like a great deal of Liberal policy, more of a virtue-signalling smokescreen to give the illusion of modernization to a bill that ultimately takes Canada backwards.

Furthermore, the proposed legislation makes a point of treating major and minor projects differently, but it provides no clear list of criteria which would make a project either a minor project or a major project. Leaving so much to guesswork is just plain irresponsible.

That leads me to my next point. Predictability will suffer under this legislation. The Liberals claim that Bill C-69 creates concrete timelines for review, saying that the process will take 450 days for major projects and 300 days for minor projects. However, the timer only begins when the Governor in Council determines that the applicant has submitted a complete application, which seems to be an entirely discretionary process. According to the proposed legislation at this time, that will be the criteria to set the clock in motion. Furthermore, the process may be stopped at a number of different points to add additional studies or submissions. Finally, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change may extend the timeline indefinitely with repeat orders.

The Liberals call the system more predictable. It is not more predictable. It is more uncertain. It is a process where the outcome rests entirely in the hands of the minister, one minister, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. She will be the sole individual deciding which projects will go forward in the national interest. It seems that rather than making the process more open and democratic, the Liberals' proposed legislation has concentrated power in the minister's office. This does not lend itself to predictability in any way, shape, or form.

One of the difficulties that Canada faces is a decline in major capital investments in energy. The decline has occurred since the Liberals were elected in 2015 and it is directly related to the regulatory uncertainty created as a result of their poor leadership in this area. We are bound to see this sad trend continue as the Liberals try once again to fix a system that worked better before they took their tool box out. This again is a solution in search of a problem.

Energy investment has to be a priority. We are a natural resource country. These investments are directly and indirectly responsible for employment and revenue for all three levels of government, yet in just two short years, which actually seem very long, energy investment in Canada is lower than any other two-year period in the last 70 years. Ensuring a stable, predictable process has to be a priority in order to attract these essential investments.

Let us talk about transparency as well. Bill C-69 claims to change the framework of indigenous consultation. However, in reality, all it does is codify something that already exists. The practices are already in place which allow for indigenous consultation.

A significant change in the regulatory process would be the elimination of the standing test. This will affect the predictability of the process, as any individual would be able to challenge the process, whether or not they have a connection to the project. Under the proposed new regulations this would include non-Canadians. Bill C-69 would allow Canadian decisions made about Canadian resources in Canada to potentially be influenced by non-Canadians. That is not right.

The Liberal government talks about the importance of restoring public trust to the regulatory system, but allowing non-Canadians or foreign special interest groups to influence the outcome of Canadian energy projects does not inspire trust in the proposed new system. It will not inspire trust from potential applicants that are seeking to develop our resources further.

Bill C-69 is not clear, predictable, or transparent. It adds vague criteria to the process, more uncertainty to the process, and eliminates a standing test from the process. The Liberals are just adding more burden to the already heavily regulated energy sector, and the industry has taken notice. That is why we have seen, as I mentioned earlier, that investment in the energy sector over the last two years has been lower than any two-year period in the previous 70 years.

The Liberals took the existing Canadian system and managed to change it into a system which is discouraging capital investment in our country. Those capital dollars are now flowing into the United States, funding projects there. The United States has a competitive advantage over Canada, in terms of regulatory and tax regimes and access to markets. Investors are putting their dollars into the U.S. market, which is fast becoming a world leader in energy.

If Bill C-69 becomes law, Canada will continue its downward trend in global competitiveness rankings. Both foreign and domestic investors will find other countries for their investments.

While the bill certainly leaves much to be desired, I want to conclude on a positive note. The new process under the proposed Canadian energy regulator will not apply to projects already approved under the National Energy Board. That means the already approved energy projects which are in our national interest will go ahead. I hope that the Liberal government will make sure to follow through on its promise and build the Trans Mountain pipeline. Get it done.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 27th, 2018 / 3:15 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a habit of the Liberals, I have discovered, to reference the abundant consultation that has taken place as though that directed or influenced their decisions.

I consulted on this particular piece of legislation, which is three bills in one. Bill C-69 is an omnibus bill. I submitted every time a window opened for consultation, and I have looked at the submissions of others. Overwhelmingly, the government was told to repair the environmental assessment process and not to allow it to continue as it had been destroyed under Bill C-38 back in 2012.

In my question for the parliamentary secretary, I want to reference in particular the expert panel on environmental assessment, among many important pieces of advice received by the government. When it empanelled a group of experts and paid for them to travel the country and listen to people, I do not see how anyone could doubt that their recommendations should have had some influence. We have never even seen a report or a response from the minister to the expert panel report on EA, nor the expert panel report on the NEB, both of which one would think would have some reference in this omnibus bill, which deals with both.

Specifically to the parliamentary secretary, I would say that the expert panel on environmental assessment said clearly that whenever federal money was used, there should be a federal review. The expert panel on EA said there should be no role for the National Energy Board, the offshore petroleum boards, or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

However, the legislation before us today, Bill C-69, does not include a trigger when federal money is used. Although it pretends to have one agency, the impact assessment agency, whenever projects fall under the jurisdiction, for regulatory purposes, of what used to be the National Energy Board, the offshore petroleum boards, or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, members of the panel must be selected from those agencies, which hardly takes them out of the process.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 27th, 2018 / 3:25 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am going to have to try to speak really fast because it is hard in 20 minutes to talk about a 360-page bill.

Many will be delighted that after two and a half years the government has finally delivered the campaign promise to bring forward a new federal assessment process. During the 2015 election, the Prime Minister committed that if he became Prime Minister, Kinder Morgan would have to go back to the drawing board, saying the process needed to be redone. When asked if no means no if indigenous peoples opposed a pipeline, the Prime Minister responded yes. Regardless, the Kinder Morgan pipeline project, the Site C dam, and an LNG project were all approved by the government based on the Harper-eviscerated assessment process.

The Minister of Environment, in tabling Bill C-69, said, “The legislation we are introducing today aims to restore public trust in how the federal government makes decisions about major projects, like mines, pipelines, and hydro dams.” This 366-page omnibus bill includes an environmental assessment law, a revised energy regulation law, and a new law on navigation. Therefore, how well would Bill C-69 actually restore public trust by enshrining a strengthened rules-based process including clearly prescribed rights to participate, and respect for indigenous rights and title?

In most instances, the bill leaves these concerns unanswered, either because the bill is rife with discretionary powers or the fact that significant matters are left to yet-to-be-promulgated regulations or rules. Does the bill respond to the recommendations made by the government's appointed expert panel? Again, it does so only partially.

Yesterday, a motion on privilege was filed against the minister for her disdain for the rights of parliamentarians to review this bill. Now, after only two hours of debate, the Liberals have moved to impose time allocation. The parliamentary secretary has just said that his government is open to refinements. It is for these reasons that I am issuing a call for expanded opportunity for Canadians, including indigenous peoples, to directly participate in the review of this bill. This can best be met by having the standing committee conduct hearings in communities across this country. The government advised that the law and associated regulations would not be in place until the spring of 2019. This allows ample time for a process enabling Canadians to express their voices and to recommend amendments.

In the time allotted to me, it will be impossible to discuss this massive bill in its entirety. I will therefore touch only on a few key issues in the bill. Would it restore public trust and confidence? Would it create greater legal certainty? Would it prescribe expanded rights of participation by the public in project reviews and government energy policy? Would it enshrine a clear process to assess government policy consistent with the sustainable development 2030 commitments? Finally, would it respect and deliver on the rights and duties to indigenous peoples as prescribed by the UNDRIP?

First, would the bill restore public trust and confidence as the government has alleged? The expert panel struck by the minister to gauge public views on the federal environmental and energy assessment and regulatory regime made a number of recommendations to reform and strengthen the systems. These included replacing the ad hoc review panels with a new quasi-judicial agency and to disallow federal regulatory bodies from participating in the reviews. Both recommendations were ignored.

While the bill would provide for the appointment of an independent impact assessment agency, review panels would still continue to be appointed on an ad hoc basis and could still include representatives of the Canadian energy regulator and the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador offshore boards.

The bill does expand the factors to be considered by a panel if an assessment proceeds, and that is a big if, including cumulative impacts, contributions to sustainability, impacts to the federal government's obligations on climate change, alternatives, mitigation measures, and impacts to indigenous rights. However, concerns have been raised that little clarity is offered on how these factors are to be considered or weighted. It is noteworthy that the list of factors the minister must consider in deciding if a project is in the public interest is far shorter than those considered by a panel.

Does the bill introduce greater legal certainty? A vast array of duties and powers remains discretionary.

For these and other reasons, I share the views expressed by many, including CELA lawyer, Richard Lindgren, “that the new [environmental assessment] process will not restore public trust or ensure credible, participatory and science-based decision-making.” The best description one can ascribe to Bill C-69 is that it offers a framework for project assessment processes but little certainty for when a federal project is assessed or approved. This observation appears supported by a number of legal experts.

I fully concur with the views expressed by law professor Martin Olszynski from the University of Calgary, who said:

my approach to this legislation--and the basis for one of my main criticisms of it--is to consider what it actually says and requires, not what the current government says it will do as a matter of policy. In my view, environmental law should be written with a view towards potential future governments that may be hostile to environmental concerns. Better rules, in this context, means legislation that would constrain such governments, forcing them to either conform or to - yet again - try to amend the legislation, with all the potential for democratic accountability that comes with that. On this score, much of the legislation introduced last week is wholly inadequate.

A critical determinant to knowing when a project triggers a federal assessment is the project list, yet consultation on the list was only just initiated. Why was it not done over the past two years? Will it include projects excluded by the Conservatives, for example, in situ oil sands operations? Will it include dangerous rail traffic as proposed under my bill, Bill C-304?

While the bill does list some laws that may trigger effects under federal jurisdiction, the responsible ministers still get to decide if an approval or review is even needed. The minister is required only to consider if a project may impact federal lands, have transboundary or transborder impacts, or impact indigenous peoples, health, social or economic matters, not yet established by cabinet.

It should be noted that the minister can allow for the substitution of a provincial assessment regardless if federal powers or duties may be triggered. The majority of the bill extends broad and extensive discretionary powers to the minister of the environment, the new agency, and the cabinet to call for an assessment or not. The minister is not required to call an assessment, even if in her opinion the proposed activity warrants designation due to its adverse effects or due to public concerns. The power currently in place has rarely ever been utilized. It should be mandatory.

My bill, Bill C-304, to the contrary, imposes a mandatory duty on the minister to call for an assessment where, in her opinion, a project may pose significant risks to environment or health or there are public concerns.

There are many discretionary powers to list, but they include the following examples: discretion to decide if an impact assessment is not required even for a designated project; the discretion to decide the scope of factors to be considered; an agency discretion to delegate any part of the impact assessment to other jurisdictions; ministerial discretion to substitute equivalent provincial processes; ministerial discretion to terminate a review panel or remove conditions in an environmental impact assessment decision to revoke or amend the impact decision statement. The minister can even delegate his or her powers, duties, and functions to the agency.

The power to assess regional impacts and strategic assessments also requires greater clarity. The bill provides absolutely no clear triggers for either of those to occur, or any right to trigger them.

The much-touted planning stage sounds remarkably similar to the initial assessment process. There is concern that the new approach is solely reliant on information provided by a project proponent.

Broad concerns have been voiced that the power to approve or reject a project remains vested in the minister or the cabinet, and that while panels can identify adverse effects, they cannot reference any degree of significance. The potential remains for interjection of political considerations to override any of the determination in the review, including sound science. The minister need only determine that the effects are in the public interest.

With regard to public participation, while the government claims that the bill provides strengthened rights to participate, it is remarkably silent in extending any specific rights, including to present evidence or to cross-examine. The agency must merely “provide an opportunity to the public to participate” in the planning stage and assessment of a project in any regional or strategic assessments. The agency is empowered to decide on participant funding, but there is no similar duty to enable funding for strategic reviews.

Regarding indigenous rights, the bill does require the addition of some indigenous participation in panels and advice. Any assessment must consider impacts on indigenous groups or adverse impacts to indigenous rights. The minister, in making a determination on public interest, must also consider adverse impacts of a project on the rights of indigenous peoples, although they are not stated to serve as a bar to approval.

The minister alleges that the bill provides indigenous peoples with “Early and inclusive opportunities for engagement and participation at every stage, in accordance with a co-developed engagement plan, with the aim of securing free, prior and informed consent..”. However, while the justice minister committed last December to ensuring that all federal laws will be made consistent with the UNDRIP, no such specific reference is found in this bill.

The second part of the bill is with respect to the Canadian energy regulator act. An expert panel was also struck to modernize the National Energy Board, whose recommendations included, among them, a new independent Canadian energy information agency, which does not exist in the bill. There was significant public concern with the decision by the Harper government to shift the decision-making power from the NEB to the cabinet, and from the CEAA to the NEB and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

How well does the proposed new regime deliver on these calls for reform? The answer is perhaps best expressed in the analysis by Calgary energy law expert Professor Nigel Bankes, entitled “Some Things Have Changed but Much Remains the Same”, adding that the tabling of a completely new Canadian energy regulation act rather than mere amendments to the NEB Act “no doubt creates the impression that the new Bill represents a wholesale replacement of the NEB rather than mere tinkering.” His analysis suggests that much of the current regime remains unchanged.

The name of the agency is changed, there are several additional requirements for indigenous appointments, and there is the addition of prescribed factors for the Canadian energy regulator to consider. However, what is noteworthy is that unlike the impact assessment panel members, the Canadian energy regulator is not required to consider climate commitments or cumulative impacts. In fact, there is zero mention of climate in the entire Canadian energy regulatory act. This is doubly concerning, as Bill C-69 allows for unlimited CER appointees to each panel. As with the Harper law, the energy regulator may only recommend.

The CER is empowered to review offshore renewable and power line projects. Concerns have been expressed with a potential conflict of interest, as the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland offshore oil boards will participate in assessments of offshore projects. Interestingly, the power to issue export and import oil and gas licences is shifted from the cabinet to the Minister of Environment. The CER may review designated interprovincial power lines, but no such project has to date ever been designated. Legal experts have raised concerns with the lack of legal certainty if the CER is authorized to deliver on the crown's aboriginal consultation duties.

Finally, on the Navigation Protection Act, while the new law counters views once expressed by the Liberals while in opposition, they do mirror recommendations of the Liberal's majority standing committee on transport to maintain much of the downgrades to the law instituted by the Harper government. Erased are the words “navigable waters protection” from the law.

In many instances, the legal protection of our lakes and rivers is even further weakened or left to be determined by yet to be promulgated regulations. The schedule of lakes and rivers is blank, shifting the onus to Canadians to even seek the meagre protections offered under the bill. Public notice and right to participate are very limited.

Gone is the once important trigger for a federal assessment where navigable waters may be impacted. I think immediately of the loss of navigation access by indigenous peoples, who practice their traditional harvests in the many lakes, rivers and marshes in northern Alberta, because the approval of dams and oil sands projects are absent consideration and respect for their treaty and aboriginal rights. The bill offers one vague opening for consideration of these rights. However, based on past experience, the likelihood of genuine consideration and respect is small.

In summation, I implore members to support extended standing committee hearings to ensure opportunities to hear Canadians on their views, including recommended amendments to this bill.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 27th, 2018 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Madam Speaker, today I will be speaking to 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.

The natural resource sector has brought tremendous wealth to my riding, all of Alberta, and Canada. The oil sands alone have brought $7.4 billion to the Canadian economy outside of Alberta: $3.9 billion to Ontario, $1.3 billion to British Columbia, $1.2 billion to Quebec, $330 million to Newfoundland, $143 million to Manitoba, $142 million to Saskatchewan, $96.7 million to Nova Scotia, $50.8 million to New Brunswick, $11.4 million to the Northwest Territories, $6.3 million to Prince Edward Island, and $1.6 million to Yukon. These figures include everything from specially made work gloves to satellites monitoring emissions. What the figures do not include are the equalization payments, which have long relied on collecting billions from Albertans working in the energy sector to be divided among have-not provinces.

When I was first elected, anyone across the country that was willing to work could find a job in Alberta. For those willing to work hard, often more than 40 hours a week, they could support a family, send their kids to post-secondary education, and still have money to save for the future. Small businesses across Alberta were also booming from the economic activities that the industry brought into almost every town and county in the province. That is not the case today. An oil crash later, a provincial government change, and a federal government change have all Alberta reeling.

The global price of oil is out of control, but what many Canadians do not know is we do not receive market rates for our oil. What is often reported is the North American benchmark, West Texas Intermediate. Our oil is traded as Alberta's Western Canada Select. As of yesterday, the difference between the two prices was $34.74 per barrel. Pipelines can help close those gaps in prices. The more access we have to markets other than the United States, the better the deal we can strike. Instead of supporting the building of these pipelines, the Liberal government has introduced regulation after regulation, which is crippling the industry and deterring investment.

Today, we are talking about the newest blow the Liberal government has struck against the west and our oil industry. It would rob the National Energy Board of most of its power and create the Canadian energy regulator.

The National Energy Board has served as a world-class regulator for the natural resource sector since its creation in 1959. Since then, it has reviewed and approved many major energy projects in Canada. Over the last decade, the NEB has approved pipelines that Alberta desperately needs, which has made it a target for political interference.

When the Liberals took power, the natural resources minister's mandate letter called on him to modernize the National Energy Board to ensure that its composition reflected regional views and had sufficient expertise in the field, such as environmental science, community development, and indigenous traditional knowledge.

While the government believes Bill C-69 will complete his mandate, I would like to cover how the bill will drive investment out of Canada.

One of the changes the bill would bring is the establishment of timelines. The government claims there would be timelines of 450 days for major projects and 300 days for minor projects, respectively, pursuant to proposed subsections 183(4) and 214(4). While many Conservatives are in favour of timelines for projects, the devil is in the details. The application process can be dragged out and will not be considered in the timelines. The lead commissioner will be given the ability to exclude time in the process. Last, and most important, the minister can approve or deny an application before it even gets to the assessment phase. We only have to look at the cancelled northern gateway pipeline to see that the government has no problem putting national interests on hold and dismissing a pipeline for political reasons.

I am also concerned about the changes to the NEB standing text. Currently, individuals and organizations directly affected by the projects or capable of providing valuable knowledge are heard by the National Energy Board. The new rules will allow anyone to participate and be heard. This will ensure that groups who oppose all energy projects across Canada will be given a bigger voice. Groups outside of Canada will be given a voice as well, and they do not have our best interests at heart.

I can only imagine what our global competitors think of our legislation. It gives them an opportunity to fund groups that will oppose every project that has the ability to threaten their market share. To think that this will not occur in the future is foolish and shortsighted.

This is an attempt to fix a problem that did not exist. During the review of the Enbridge line 9B reversal and line 9 capacity expansion project, only eight of the 177 applications to participate were denied. I encourage Canadians to take a look at some of the denied submissions. One individual said that a spill from a pipeline, even far away from her home, is an insult to her sense of the holy.

While this example may come up a couple of times today, I think it is important to show that our National Energy Board is not trying to silence individuals and organizations, but is just applying common sense to the process. We need more common sense in government, not less.

Over the last three years, we have seen less and less investment in our natural resources because of the Liberal government's policies. From the carbon tax to the inclusion of upstream emissions to the National Energy Board review, it appears that the government wants to repeal investment in the resource sector.

According to the Financial Post, in February, Suncor CEO Steve Williams told financial analysts that Suncor is actively discussing Canada’s lack of competitiveness with various levels of government here because “other jurisdictions are doing much more to attract business, so Canada needs to do much more to up its game”.

Members need to consider that if we keep our resources in the ground, like David Suzuki wants, we are not saving the environment; we are just moving the resource development to other countries around the world that have lower safety standards and lower environmental protection. I believe that if resources are needed, it is better that they come from here and not from a human rights abuser or a dictator or a country with very low environmental standards.

I know that many members of Parliament have voted for and will continue to vote for regulations of every type. What they need to consider before voting on the bill is that we are part of a global market. Right now we are competing with countries across the world to sell our goods and attract investment.

We only need to look across the border to see a government intent on bringing in billions of dollars of investment and the jobs that come with it. Since taking office, the Trump administration has given the energy industry a tremendous amount of confidence to invest by cutting regulations and taxes.

Future natural resources jobs in my riding, in Alberta, and across Canada are at stake if this bill passes. That is why my Conservative colleagues and I stand against this bill.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
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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 second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I wish to acknowledge that we are all on the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Anishinabe peoples. On this historic day, the Government of Canada has committed to developing a new recognition and implementation of an indigenous rights framework.

I stand here today to address this chamber in support of Bill C-69, a legislative initiative that is a key priority of our government. We are keeping our promise to Canadians. We are putting in place better rules to protect our environment and build a stronger economy. After 14 months of hearing from provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, companies, environmental groups, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast, we are making real changes.

Bill C-69 aims to restore public trust in how the federal government makes decisions about major projects, such as mines, pipelines, and hydro dams. These better rules are designed to protect our environment while improving investor confidence, strengthening our economy, and creating good middle-class jobs. They will also make the Canadian energy and resource sectors more competitive. We are working to build on Canada's strong economic growth and historic job numbers.

Today we are keeping our promise to Canadians. We are putting in place better rules to protect our environment and build a stronger economy. After 14 months of hearing from provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, companies, environmental groups, and Canadians across the country, we are making real changes. The legislation we are introducing today aims to restore public trust in how the federal government makes decisions about major projects, like mines, pipelines, and hydro dams. These better rules are designed to protect our environment while improving investor confidence, strengthening our economy and creating good middle-class jobs. They will also make the Canadian energy and resource sectors more competitive. We are working to build on Canada’s strong economic growth and historic job numbers.

Our government understands the importance of the resource sector to our economy. Over $500 billion in major resource projects are planned across Canada over the next decade. These projects would mean tens of thousands of well-paying jobs across the country and provide an economic boost for nearby communities and our economy as a whole, but we cannot get there without better rules to guide our decisions around resource development. Unfortunately, the Harper government gutted environmental protections and made changes to the environmental assessment process that eroded public trust in how decisions are made.

Unfortunately, the Harper government gutted environmental protections and made changes to the environmental assessment process that eroded public trust in how decisions are made.

Canadians became concerned that project approvals were based on politics rather than robust science. There were concerns that changes were putting our fish, waterways, and communities at risk and we are not taking into account the climate impacts of projects. They were also concerned that the views of communities and indigenous peoples were not being heard. This lack of trust resulted in polarization and paralysis. Projects stalled and resource development became a lightning rod for public opposition and court challenges. Billions of dollars of investment were put in jeopardy, raising concerns for investors and shareholders. Ironically, the Harper government's changes made it a lot more challenging for good projects to get built. Weaker rules hurt both our environment and our economy.

Since we formed government, we have worked very hard to restore public trust while providing certainty to business. In January 2016, we introduced interim principles to guide how our government would review proposed major projects until we could put better rules in place. We knew we could not keep approving projects under the Harper government's flawed rules, but we also knew that we could not put our economic development on hold for two years while we worked on the new rules.

Our recent principles were the first part of delivering on one of our high priority platform commitments: to review and fix Canada's environmental assessment process and to restore confidence in how decisions about resource development are made. Those interim principles made it clear that decisions would be based on robust science, evidence, and indigenous traditional knowledge; that we would listen to the views of Canadians and communities that could be affected by proposed projects; that indigenous peoples would be consulted in a meaningful and respectful manner; that decisions would take into account the climate impacts of proposed projects; and that no project already under review would be sent back to the starting line.

Our government did not stop at the interim principles. In November 2016, we also announced a $1.5-billion oceans protection plan. Through that historic investment we are creating a world-class marine safety system while protecting our coastlines and clean waters for generations to come. Then in the summer of 2016, after a year of negotiations with provinces, territories, and indigenous leaders, we announced the first ever made-in-Canada climate plan. Our national climate plan builds on the actions of provinces and territories and provides a clear road map as to how we will cut carbon pollution and move together toward a cleaner future.

Using the interim principles, and building on the foundations of our oceans protection plan and climate action plan, we moved forward with approving new major projects worth billions of dollars to the Canadian economy and thousands of good middle-class jobs across the country. These projects are clearly in the national interest, and because of the steps we have taken to date, we are confident they can be built in a way that protects our environment and communities. We are committed to seeing them built.

The better rules outlined in Bill C-69 build on improvements we have already made and on the feedback that we received from Canadians over the last 14 months. We heard loud and clear that Canadians want a modern environmental 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 heard from investors and project proponents that they want a clear, predictable, and timely process. That is what our better rules provide.

First, these better rules will rebuild trust. When it comes to resource development, we cannot get very far if people do not trust the rules and the way governments make decisions. The same goes for companies. They need to know what is expected of them from the start and that the process will be predictable, timely, and evidence-based. That is why our top priority with the changes we are proposing is increasing transparency and rebuilding trust.

To rebuild trust, we will increase public participation in project reviews so that Canadians can help shape the project design, provide input into the project plan, and assess the science used to make decisions. We will create a new early engagement phase, to ensure that indigenous peoples’ rights are recognized and respected, and that we work in partnership from the outset; and that communities will have their voices heard from the start.

We will create a single agency, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, that will lead all impact assessments for major projects, to ensure the approach is consistent and efficient.

The impact assessment agency of Canada will work with and draw expertise from other bodies, such as the Canadian energy regulator, which is currently the National Energy Board, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and offshore boards, but the final decision on major projects will rest with me or with the federal cabinet, because our government is ultimately accountable to Canadians for the decisions we make in the national interest.

Second, decisions on projects will be transparent and guided by robust science, evidence, and indigenous traditional knowledge. We will also increase Canadians' access to the science and evidence behind project proposals and make easy-to-understand summaries of decisions publicly available.

Third, we are expanding project reviews to assess what matters to Canadians. The new impact assessment will look at a project's potential impacts, not just on the environment but also its health, social, gender, and economic impacts over the long term as well as the impacts on indigenous peoples. We will also evaluate projects against our environmental obligations and national climate plan.

Fourth, we will advance Canada's commitment to reconciliation and get to better project decisions by recognizing indigenous rights and working in partnership from the start. We will make it mandatory to consider indigenous traditional knowledge alongside science and other evidence. Indigenous jurisdictions would have greater opportunities to exercise powers and duties under the new impact assessment act, and we would increase the funding available to support indigenous participation and capacity development relating to assessing and monitoring the impacts of projects.

Fifth, project reviews will be completed through a timely and predictable process. The new early planning and engagement phase would provide clarity on what is required and more certainty about the process ahead. Shorter legislated timelines for the project review phase will be rigorously managed to keep the process on track. A more efficient and predictable process will lead to more timely decisions.

Finally, we will streamline the process and coordinate with the provinces and territories to reduce red tape for companies and avoid duplicating efforts in reviewing proposed projects. Our goal is one project, one review.

We have also announced that we are seeking Canadians' feedback on how we will change the project list regulations that define the types of projects that would be subject to impact assessment. The project list aims to make it easier for everyone to understand when the new rules will apply, providing certainty that both Canadians and companies need and expect.

The Harper government's project list was a grab bag of projects developed in a non-transparent way, and based on political motives, not the public interest. The project list is meant to identify the types of projects that pose significant risks to the environment in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. These projects will always require federal review.

We want to hear from Canadians on the criteria to revise the project list to ensure that they are more robust and effective and that they include criteria such as environmental objectives and standards for clean air, water and climate change.

The new rules outlined in Bill C-69 must undergo a thorough review in the House and the Senate until they come into effect. Existing laws and interim principles for project reviews will continue to apply to projects under review.

In terms of changes to other statutes as part of our government's regulatory review, we are also proposing changes to the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, and in Bill C-68, to the Fisheries Act, as was announced by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard last week. These changes would better protect waterways, fish, and fish habitat.

The Canadian Navigable Waters Act will restore navigation protection for every navigable waterway in Canada. Changes to the Fisheries Act will add important new safeguards for our fisheries, including measures to rebuild damaged fish stocks and restore degraded habitat, ensuring that our fisheries and environment are protected for future generations.

Of course, none of these proposed changes mean much without providing the extra capacity needed to deliver on our commitments. That is why we are investing up to $1 billion over five years to support the proposed changes to impact assessments and the 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 today that we are delivering on one of our major campaign promises. I want to thank Canadians from coast to coast to coast for all of their valuable input which will help ensure better rules to make our environment and grow the economy.

We know that the changes we are announcing today in Bill C-69 will not satisfy everyone. People who tend to distrust business and want no project to go ahead will say we are doing too little to protect our environment. Those who want every project to go ahead whatever the environmental cost will say we are doing too little to support resource development. However, the better rules we are announcing today in Bill C-69 reflect what we have heard overwhelmingly and consistently from Canadians over the past year and a half.

Canadians want a modern environmental and regulatory system that protects the environment, supports reconciliation with indigenous peoples, attracts investment, and ensures good projects can go ahead, which creates middle-class jobs and grows our economy. Canadians understand that better rules will make us more competitive, not less. Canadians understand that the environment and the economy go together.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2018 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

All our decisions certainly have to respect our environmental and climate change obligations. We have negotiated with the provinces and territories a made-in-Canada plan to fight climate change and we must ensure that every project falls in line with that plan. Under Bill C-69, it is clear that we will consider the impact projects will have on the climate.

We also said that we wanted to conduct a strategic environmental assessment to ensure that the projects fit with the climate change action plan. We worked very hard on our Canadian plan to fight climate change and we have international obligations that we are determined to satisfy. It is very important to our government.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2018 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, here we are with Bill C-69, all 370 pages of it, full of mind-numbing reading and rhetoric. Do members remember when the Liberals, during the last election, and the Prime Minister, when he was in opposition, lamented, decried the fact, actually, that the occasional omnibus bill was tabled by the previous government? They railed against omnibus bills. What do we have today from the Prime Minister, his government, and the minister? It is an omnibus bill. It covers the enactment of the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act, amending the Navigation Protection Act, and consequential amendments to other acts. Talk about omnibus. In fact, we are calling it the “ominous omnibus bill.” It is ominous because of what it means to our economy and our resource sector.

The bill is toxic to Canada's future development. It is toxic to our efforts to take the resources entrusted to us and to extract them in an environmentally sensitive way to make sure that future Canadians have a pristine environment and long-term prosperity. The omnibus bill, this ominous bill, does not do that. It does quite the opposite. It undermines our ability to have long-term prosperity.

Let me start off by talking about the bill itself. There are three main parts and a fourth one. The first three parts of the bill are effectively about a new environmental assessment process, a new Canadian energy regulator, and a new navigable waters act, which, by the way, would not be about the environment. The navigable waters act would be about navigation. Those are the three parts covered in the bill itself.

Earlier last week we also saw tabled the Fisheries Act, which contains further amendments that would make it more difficult for Canadians to realize the full value of our economy and our resource sector. It would put more hurdles and obstacles in the way of extracting our natural resources and building critical infrastructure across the country, which is so important to our national prosperity.

Effectively, what would happen is this. We have the National Energy Board. The first thing that would happen is that the board would be stripped of its impact assessment functions, the ones that are used to review resource projects that come forward. I believe that every Canadian and every member of this House understands how important it is to protect the environment for future generations. We disagree on how we go about doing that. However, the impact assessment function addresses the review process that resource projects, such as pipelines, mines, and oil and gas projects, have to go through to get an approval that proves that they are environmentally sustainable and not harmful in the long term to our environment.

The second part that would be stripped from the National Energy Board would be its regulatory functions. Once projects are built, we want to make sure that they are carried on and managed sustainably. Effectively, the regulatory function ensures, through the life cycle of the project, that we protect our environment.

The third part is the navigable waters protection piece, which is all about ensuring that on waters used for navigation, we do not impose impediments to navigation and do not undertake infrastructure projects that would impede navigation.

It is interesting. Navigable water is defined as a water body in which a canoe or a kayak can float. In fact, when our former Conservative government first undertook amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, we did so because it had not been reformed for close to 150 years. Imagine, Mr. Speaker, a piece of legislation floating around that has not been really reviewed for 150 years, and that has definitions like that of navigable water being a body of water on which a canoe or a kayak can float.

Under the Liberal amendments, the navigable waters protection piece would introduce further obstacles that are not environment-related but navigation-related, and that would impair Canada's ability to build and implement critical infrastructure that drives the prosperity of this country.

Let me focus my comments on the environmental review process, the impact assessment process. This legislation would create a whole new body, called the impact assessment agency, which would oversee reviews of resource projects such as pipelines and mines. The promise we received from the minister, with which she went public, was that the process the Liberals have introduced would shorten the timelines under which a project gets reviewed, to provide better certainty for project proponents and to make sure that these projects, if they are environmentally sustainable, can get passed more quickly. Therefore, it would reduce the timeline of the assessment piece by, say, 60, 70, or 80 days.

However, what the minister did not tell Canadians is that at the beginning of the whole process there is a whole new process, called the planning phase, and that process is 180 days, so effectively the Liberals would add another 100 days onto the total process for getting any project reviewed in Canada. This is unconscionable, as investment in our resource sector is fleeing the country. As we know, over the last two years we have had incredible investment flight to places like the United States and elsewhere around the world, where there is more predictability and a more inviting investment environment. We are seeing this play out in front of our eyes, and the minister introduced a bill that would lengthen the process even more. It is shameful.

Here is the kicker. Within that 180-day planning phase, the proponent has to undertake all kinds of activities, many of them new activities, including consultations with the public. The public has a chance to share its opinions on a project that has not even gone through a science-based review. At the end of the 180 days, if the minister feels like it, usually on political grounds, she can simply kill the project right there. Can members imagine proponents coming forward with a billion-dollar proposal to develop a resource in Canada and being told that they are going to have to go through a 180-day process where they are going to have to consult with all kinds of people?

By the way, we are not opposed to consultations. What we are opposed to is consultations that unnecessarily extend the process beyond what Canadians would consider reasonable and common sense. Can members imagine a proponent facing the 180 days and dealing with all this preplanning process, and then, before the proponent has ever had a chance to have a regulatory body, the impact assessment agency, review the application based on science and evidence, the proponent is told, “Sorry, go away. We are killing the project. We do not want your investment in Canada”? Can members imagine that? That is what this bill would do.

The minister has a veto right, at the end of the planning phase, and then, if the project gets to the impact assessment process and goes through that, through all the new criteria that the minister has established, at the end it goes back to the minister and cabinet for a decision, which invariably becomes a political decision.

Anybody looking from afar, with $1 billion to invest and wondering whether to invest in Canada, would say, “At the end of the day, the Liberals are going to make a political decision, so we have no certainty at all that our project will be assessed on its merits, on the science, on the evidence.”

This legislation would also codify the duty to consult with first nations, which is already established in our laws in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada has spent decades trying to frame exactly what the duty to consult is. There is a lot of case law that provides companies with a clearer idea of the standard they have to meet in order to properly consult with first nations. Conservatives do not have a problem with that. We believe that first nations need to be partners in our prosperity and they need to be consulted, and that has been enshrined in this legislation.

The legislation would also require indigenous traditional knowledge to be considered in the review. Conservatives believe that this provision reflects what Canadians expect when a project proponent wants to move forward with a resource proposal. We believe it is in Canada's best interest to consult with indigenous Canadians and take into account, during the assessment process, the traditional knowledge they can offer to that process.

I mentioned additional criteria that proponents would now have to take into account. Historically, proponents have had to apply certain criteria to ensure that no environmental damage occurs as a result of a project being built, but now my Liberal friends across the way have inserted a requirement that the applicants have to take into account both upstream and downstream effects, and the impacts a project would have on Canada's climate change targets: new hurdles, new criteria, new discouragement for investment in Canada. We should not for a minute think that investors are not paying attention to the debate we are having in the House today and the legislation that is before us. As I mentioned earlier, this legislation is toxic to our long-term prosperity.

Another thing included in this legislation is a broad discretion for the minister to extend, and even suspend, timelines. People think they have 180 days, and then another 300 days for certain projects, and another 450 days for other projects. No, the minister can step in at any point along the timeline and say he is suspending the timelines and that other things are going to be done, removing predictability, which is what investors in the resource sector covet most.

The bottom line is that additional uncertainty has been injected into our investment environment. The resource sector in Canada is responsible for some 16% of our economy. Imagine, Mr. Speaker, 16%. Two million jobs are either directly or indirectly related to our resource sector. Two million Canadians rely on us, as legislators, to get this right, to make sure we balance the environment and the economy.

The minister often talks about the environment and the economy going hand in hand. The problem is that she has no idea what that appropriate balance is, and more and more the Liberal government is leaning to the left, toward the environment, to the detriment of our economy and long-term prosperity. Do not get me wrong, Mr. Speaker. The environment, as I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, is critically important because we are leaving a legacy for our children and grandchildren, for future generations. We need to ensure that we leave them a pristine environment. Quite frankly, if we try to do that in the absence of prosperity, it is never going to happen.

Why do I say that? If we look around the world, which countries have the highest environmental standards? They are also the most prosperous countries in the world. Prosperity and the environment go together.

The intentions of the Liberal government, of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Environment, may be good, but unfortunately they have it all wrong. They have not been listening to the concerns of those who make a living from our resource sector, those who know the millions of jobs generated by that sector. No one should be surprised that we completely disagree with this legislation, and some of my colleagues in the Conservative Party will continue to highlight that in future speeches.

Earlier today, the minister said her goal was to basically develop a policy and introduce legislation where there would be no surprises and no drama. Unfortunately, she missed one piece: no surprises, no drama, no development. Our prosperity is at risk here, and I encourage my colleagues on the other side who are listening to this debate to please give their heads a shake. The more barriers we place in the way of extracting our resources in a sustainable way, the more we undermine the future prosperity of our children and grandchildren, of future generations.

Let me close by saying that there is one bottom line. The legislation ensures more uncertainty, longer timelines, and less investment in our resource sector, which equals less prosperity for Canada. That really is a shame, because we are cheating future generations out of the value that has been left to us as a legacy.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2018 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I may, instead of rehashing the 2012 debate, I am going to mainly focus on Bill C-69 and on what is happening now, in 2018. It is always interesting to revisit history, and we could do that here all day.

This is not just any bill that the Liberals tabled last week. It is a bill whose purpose is to renew and review the environmental assessment process, which is crucial for the future. It is crucial for our role and our responsibilities with regard to climate change and cutting our greenhouse gas emissions. It is also crucial for life in many indigenous communities and white communities across the country. Respect and the quality of life of people in several regions will be influenced by ending the current process and bringing in this new environmental assessment program.

Everyone will have noticed by now that the Liberal government and the Minister of the Environment are extremely skilled at using buzzwords. All the buttons that need to be pressed to make the bill look good, modern, effective and respectful, all those words are always used in speeches, presentations, press releases and sometimes in legislation.

However, with all this talk about consultation, respect, biodiversity and climate change, more often than not, when you get right down to it, it is increasingly difficult to know just what is being proposed in government legislation, and I want people to be aware of that. If we cut through the rhetoric and look below the surface, we have serious doubts about the tangible effects of implementing this new environmental assessment process, and it is not just us. As my Conservative colleague said, this substantial, 364-page bill was released and tabled less than a week ago. There are a lot of things to go through and people have a lot of questions.

Naturally, our initial response is excitement at finally being able to talk about a new environmental assessment process. Hooray! We wanted to close the book on the Harper years. We are getting there, and that in itself is a good thing. It is too bad my colleague up the row does not agree, but over here, we welcome this as a step in the right direction even though we have major concerns.

I would like to point out that it is now February 2018, which means that the Liberal government was elected 28 months ago. In that time, the Liberals have used the old environmental assessment process to review and approve major projects. That worries of lot of NDP members, progressives, and environmentalists because the Liberals dragged their feet. They bought themselves all kinds of time by spending more than two years condemning a process that they were using anyway. I do not want to impugn anyone's motives, but if the Liberal government wanted to approve a pipeline project using the Conservatives' environmental assessment process, it could, and that is what it did.

On August 20, 2015, in British Columbia, an individual asked the Prime Minister if the Kinder Morgan project would be reviewed using his proposed new environmental assessment process. The Prime Minister replied that the project would be reassessed because the Conservative government's bare-bones environmental assessment process was not to be trusted. Now that the Liberals are in power, that promise has been forgotten. They are using the old process and approving the pipeline expansion.

As a result, we have a great many questions about this government's good faith and diligence. We wonder why it took so long to come up with the proposal before us.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will now oversee all assessments. Its name will be changed to the impact assessment agency. The National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will carry on under new names. We would like to get more details on what their roles, duties, and responsibilities will be. A great many people question whether it is worth maintaining these organizations at all.

We would have preferred it if their roles had been scaled back in much clearer and more decisive terms, especially in regard to what the government describes as “minor projects”, because the new National Energy Board, the new energy regulator, will have a role to play in this assessment process. We would not want a repeat of the bad experiences we had over the past few years with the NEB, where minor projects did not seem to matter so much.

In our view, when the goal is to protect the environment and respect local communities, there is no such thing as a major or minor project. Air quality, water quality, and greenhouse gas emissions all have a regional and cumulative impact. I will come back to those concepts later.

This is a complex bill. It amends several laws and affects many organizations. We are concerned by the continued mandate, for example, of the assessment panels of certain organizations, such the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. They will continue to be involved in the offshore oil and gas sector.

The new environmental assessment agency will not be mandated to conduct assessments of offshore projects. This worries us because although the agency has a clear mandate and the scientific capability to conduct environmental assessments, the two boards I mentioned, by virtue of their mandates, will be obliged to rule in favour of offshore oil and gas development. An important part of oil and gas development taking place off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland has been separated off, forgotten and discarded. This will be completely excluded from the prerogatives or the mandate of the new environmental assessment agency and we are concerned about that.

This begs the following question: which projects will be subject to this new environmental or impact assessment process? For now, it really is not clear. We do not have a new list of the projects that have been submitted. For now, the previous list that was established by the Conservative government remains the only list. There has been no change in the projects subject to a environmental assessment.

For now, we are being told that there will be a consultation process concerning the criteria for placing projects on this new list. I feel that this will take so long that, by the time the next election comes around in 2019, none of this will have been cleared up. Furthermore, the new agency will not have had the time to start its work because we will still be trying to determine which projects can be studied and assessed by the agency.

We can have an excellent impact assessment process and a very robust and competent agency with a lot of expertise. However, if that agency does not assess any projects, it will not have any impact on environmental protection, our communities, or the reduction of greenhouse gases. It is an empty gesture to create an impact assessment agency that does not conduct any studies, does not examine anything, and does not assess anything because no one knows what projects it should be examining. Such an agency is useless. It does not help to protect our environment and does not help us to fulfill our responsibility to reduce greenhouse gases.

Bill C-69 should set out the criteria for determining when an impact study or environmental assessment must be conducted. Is it when federal funding is being invested in a project, when a federal law comes into play, or when something under federal protection and jurisdiction is involved?

We think that the criteria should be logical and objective. We should be able to use them to force the agency to conduct an environmental assessment. That is not currently the case.

The bill indicates that sustainable development and climate change must always be included in the decision-making process and the agency's assessment. However, let us be clear. The current greenhouse gas reduction targets are not even part of the goals and objectives of the bill. The government has mentioned them and we have talked about them, but there are no concrete measures in place to give the process teeth and ensure that it has consequences. That is a big problem for the NDP.

For example, a project that would produce a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions should automatically result in a impact study or environmental assessment. However, the weight of carbon emissions is not currently one of the criteria for determining whether a project will be assessed simply because there are still no criteria. That is a major concern for us.

There is one detail we want to emphasize on today. According to our interpretation it would seem that the oil sands development sites that use in situ technology would not be covered under the agency's mandate. The agency would not have a mandate to study the environmental impact of certain projects that use certain types of technology.

People are starting to talk about this. We are very concerned because this technology is not perfect. We know there are major consequences even though the development sites are much smaller and less visible than they were in the past.

Earlier I asked the minister point-blank about this. She gave me a politician's answer full of buzzwords, but failed to give a clear answer as to whether a project submitted in a province that already has a GHG cap program would be excluded by virtue of the province already having a GHG cap program. The bill seems to touch on that.

We want confirmation on this because the federal government could very easily use this as an excuse to shirk its responsibilities and burden the province that might have an existing program, without any guarantee that the program is being enforced, that the objectives are met or that they are in the process of being met.

The Government of Quebec is participating in a North American carbon market. As of right now, however, there is no guarantee that it will meet its own targets.

If this pretext were used to say that environmental assessments are not needed because the Government of Quebec already has measures in place, that would be completely delusional and an attempt to shirk one's responsibilities. The federal government has absolutely no way of verifying whether the province is complying with the program and meeting its targets. We have some serious concerns about that at this time.

I will come back a little later to the heart of the consultations and what can be included in those consultations. When the Conservatives curtailed and gutted the environmental assessment process, one of the things they introduced was time limits for environmental impact studies. In their eyes, this was supposed to expedite the approval of certain projects, including potentially polluting ones.

Much to our surprise, the Liberal bill changes those provisions. Much to our surprise, it shortens the timeframe for environmental assessments. I would have thought the Liberals would have wanted to take a little longer to create a system that is transparent, public, open, and based on science, one that listens to the experts, cross-examines the experts, one in which participants are well informed, taking the time to do things right. Well, no, in another new twist, the Liberals are shortening the timeframe for assessments. Depending on the size of the project, it is dropping from 365 to 300 days, or for bigger projects, from 720 to 600 days.

We in the NDP see this is as a direct response to demands from investors and industry. It is definitely not to improve the public consultation process or to ensure that things are done properly in good time. We believe that the process should take the necessary time to reach conclusions that meet with widespread approval, that are based on science, that respect the will of local and regional communities. As it stands, that is not the case, and we are very concerned about that.

With respect to the topic of consultations, the government claims to want to restore public trust in the assessment process. The changes proposed in Bill C-69 include getting the public and indigenous communities involved at the planning stage. This is good news, if everyone is truly included at the preliminary approval stages of a project. However, the bill is short on details about who will be able to participate in the consultations, how they can be heard, how long the consultation will last, whether individuals will have access to the information held by the agency, or whether individuals will be able to question industry experts or witnesses. This is still not clear. The NDP will want to make a lot of improvements to the bill to ensure that when this bill takes effect, the process is truly open and transparent, as the Minister of Environment has claimed it will be.

I want to talk about two more points, which are very important, including the one that worries us the most: the Minister of the Environment's arbitrary power. It is rather strange for the minister to say that she is bringing back a science-based process that will restore trust, and that will take communities into account, and then in the same breath say that, no matter the outcome of the process, the minister will just do as she pleases, since at the end of the day she is the one who decides. This is almost exactly what the Minister of the Environment just said in her speech a couple of minutes ago here in the House. Ultimately, she will decide. Not only do we not know which projects will be assessed by the agency, but we also have a guarantee that no matter the recommendations or findings, one, single minister will have the final say. This is the type of political interference that the Liberals condemned during the election campaign.

We also do not know what criteria the minister will use. Clause 17 sets out the minister's power, and then clause 63 lists a series of factors that the minister must include in her consideration, but it does not state that the list is exhaustive. This means anything could be included.

When the Liberals spend days telling us they are here to protect the national interest and the public interest, yet offer up no definition of “national interest” whatsoever, that worries me. Is it in the national interest to make an oil company happy by forcing a pipeline through, or is it in the national interest to do our part to reduce greenhouse gases and respect what local, regional, and indigenous communities want?

That is not at all clear right now, and giving that much power to the minister, power that did not exist under the Harper government, really has us worried. We think ministerial power should be limited. The government claims its process is open and transparent, and we think the bill should absolutely reflect that. We need to do a lot of work on Bill C-69. We hope it can be split so that three different committees can study it. After all, it affects many different acts, and we need to be able to do our work properly and take a very good look at this in committee. We also hope that the parliamentary committees will be able to travel across the country so they can hear voices outside Ottawa, voices from all over the Canadian federation.

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February 14th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will agree if in the mind of a Liberal the national interest is not in the interest of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Basically, we have many concerns, especially about citizen participation, or public consultation. This is mentioned in the bill's preamble, but when you go through the bill clause by clause, it is gradually watered down.

What we want is for civic participation, public participation, to be enshrined in the bill, for it to be part of the mandate of the new impact assessment agency in order to guarantee that Canadians' voices are effectively heard.

There are several things either missing from the bill altogether or not strong enough. Regional strategic assessments are missing. With respect to the assessment of cumulative effects, it is all well and good to say there are a bunch of small projects, but several small projects together can have a greater regional impact and a big impact on people. As it stands, we do not see how cumulative effects could be taken into account under the current Bill C-69.

People who have been listening to the debates between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party in recent days will have noted that this has mainly been about who can approve the most pipeline projects the fastest. Personally, as a citizen, hearing that really worries me.

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February 14th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am a little confused about my colleague's comments. I do not quite see how they tie in with Bill C-69. However, I can understand her comments on the weaknesses or shortcomings of other methods of electricity or energy production in the world. I think fossil fuels are the most polluting method right now. They release massive amounts of greenhouse gases. We need to be aware of that. We need to act responsibly. We need to comply with the Copenhagen and Paris targets.

If we could then have a discussion on the virtues of electric cars, solar panels, or wind turbines, I would be extremely pleased. However, I can guarantee my colleague that there are many renewable energy alternatives with a very small environmental footprint or carbon footprint. Canada could become a leader in these technologies and in new ways of using or generating energy. I think that is the way of the future and the way of the 21st century.

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February 14th, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
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Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism)

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington.

On this February 14, I would like to wish three loves of my life, my wife Suchita, and my sons Zakir and Nitin a very happy Valentine's Day.

I rise proudly today to speak to Bill C-69, an act to enact the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act. The bill would introduce the impact assessment agency of Canada, replace the National Energy Board with the Canadian energy regulator, and reinstate protections for waters used for travel across this country.

I will start by complimenting the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and her department for the important work done to get us to where we are today. As stated in her speech earlier this evening, this legislation is the product of 14 months of extensive consultation with provinces and territories, indigenous persons, companies, environmental groups, and communities right across Canada. We went through that consultation period because we wanted to make sure that we got this assessment package right.

We are introducing today an impact assessment system, a reinvigorated energy regulator, and restoring protections for navigable waters. These would restore public trust in the government's ability to review major energy projects. This trust is critical. It was lost with the patchwork of harmful changes that had been introduced by the previous Conservative government.

To be clear, the orientation of our government cannot be more different from that of Mr. Stephen Harper, the previous prime minister. We accept the science that the climate is changing. We have unmuzzled scientists. We have put a price on carbon pollution. We have invested unprecedented sums in shifting to a low-carbon economy. Now we turn our work to the important aspects of environmental assessments.

We wanted to ensure that we not only restored the environmental protections that were cut under the Harper government, particularly those made in 2012, but that we also created a better framework to protect the environment while at the same time encouraging investment and job creation in Canada. We took the time necessary to get the feedback from those who would be directly involved in the process after its implementation to make sure that this new system will work.

With $500 billion in energy investment that is planned for our country over the next decade, a functional, big-picture approach to energy and resource development is critical to ensure that we are protecting our environment while encouraging economic growth and job creation. The two go together.

To ensure that projects that came forward over the last two years were not held up or passed without careful review that ensured the protection of the environment, we put in place interim environmental assessment principles in January 2016. That step ensured that we had a framework to review major project proposals until we introduced this new assessment plan. This avoided leaving environmental assessment to the uneven and unbalanced system put in place by the previous government, which favoured industry to the detriment of environmental protection.

It was under those interim principles that our government approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline and rejected the northern gateway pipeline, which would have gone right through the pristine Great Bear Rainforest on the west coast of British Columbia and destroyed that vital ecosystem.

Let us be clear that in the face of widespread public opposition, the northern gateway pipeline was approved by former Prime Minister Harper to fit the political agenda set out by the previous government. The result of our 14 months of consultations is a clarified review process, which implements a robust method to protect our environment.

In addition, we are maintaining our commitment to require a gender-based analysis for every project under review. The consideration for how energy resource development impacts women and their livelihood has been neglected for far too long, which is why we are committing, through this legislation, to ensure that gender impact will always be a consideration for evaluating proposals.

Another critical aspect of this legislation is reconciliation with indigenous persons. Built into the new rules under Bill C-69 is a requirement to consider the impacts of development on indigenous rights and culture in the decision-making process, a recognition affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution. Whether or not a project moves forward is directly linked to the impacts it would have on the rights of affected indigenous communities.

Our goal across government is to renew the relationship with indigenous persons founded on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. This was the theme of the Prime Minister's address in this very chamber earlier today. This is no longer a negotiable position. It is no longer the suggestion that it used to be under the previous government's regulations. It is now a mandatory factor to consider indigenous impact in assessing and developing energy projects in this country.

As well as making decisions based on science and evidence, we would require the incorporation of traditional indigenous and community knowledge right alongside it. We are committed to protecting indigenous traditional knowledge and using that very knowledge before making decisions on resource development.

In my riding of Parkdale—High Park, I have heard from my constituents on these very issues. At a recent town hall that I hosted on indigenous reconciliation, residents of my community voiced loudly and clearly that the rights and needs of indigenous people in this country must be taken into account when developing our energy and resource sector. A focal point of the concern expressed to me by the residents of Parkdale—High Park was that our first peoples were not involved in these processes when it came to projects such as mining, hydro, or oil and gas development, and that indigenous persons need to be partners in the assessments of projects.

I have heard these concerns of my constituents, I have relayed those concerns to our government, and our government has responded with this bill.

Under the new rules in Bill C-69, indigenous people will be engaged from the outset to the end of the process, with the aim of securing free, prior, and informed consent, implementing the principles of UNDRIP into resource development. This means that a requirement will now be built into the assessment system to engage and consult with indigenous people throughout the assessment process, including monitoring and follow-up engagement.

For example, we are investing a total of $1 billion over the next five years to ensure that we have the capacity to support essential indigenous participation and capacity development for assessing and monitoring impact, as well as for expanding public participation and the scientific capacity of federal departments and government agencies.

The residents of my riding of Parkdale-High Park have spoken to me repeatedly about the importance of indigenous reconciliation as a means of achieving another fundamental priority: protecting our environment. During meetings at my constituency office, during gatherings right here in Ottawa, and at town hall discussions, I have heard repeatedly from strong advocates from my riding, such as Green 13, Green 14, the Citizens' Climate Lobby, and Earth Day Canada, that protecting the environment is the most pressing issue of our generation and that combatting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions must be at the heart of any actions we take as a government. Again, those concerns were expressed to me. I heard them, and so too has our government.

In response to these kinds of concerns and the voices of Canadians, not just in my riding but right around the country, we are, through this bill, overhauling the assessment process so that it prioritizes the environment, so that it compels the involvement of indigenous persons, and so that it considers the impact of project development on women. These factors are all critical to ensuring that economic growth proceeds in a manner that has the confidence of all Canadians.

With Bill C-69, we are also attentive to the needs of proponents of projects for a streamlined, transparent, and more efficient process, for better rules, and for quicker decision-making.

Putting in place a predictable process, under which proponents can be rewarded if they invest in clean innovation and demonstrate that they maintain high standards for sustainability and corporate responsibility, means that we will be able do better for Canadians across the country. Our government encourages the right type of investment and ensures that job-creating projects are carried out properly during our transition to a low-carbon economy.

Our government is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and fostering innovation. It will also establish regulations for our energy industry. This bill will also directly improve transparency and access to information. In order to ensure significant public participation in the assessment process, from the beginning of the phase of engagement, the new regulations will require that scientific and other information sources be taken into account in an impact assessment and that the reasons for decisions be made available to the public through an online registry.

Taking 14 months to consult with environmental groups, energy companies, indigenous leaders, and Canadians across the country, our government has developed a new set of rules that will restore public trust and ensure development moves forward responsibly. This bill would amend the patchwork of environmental laws and processes brought forward by the previous government, which created an impossible system that eroded trust, disregarded science, and put our communities at risk, and under which not a single major energy project was built.

With this one project, one assessment process bill, we are keeping our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, address climate change, transition to a low-carbon economy, and advance indigenous reconciliation, while encouraging vital job growth in this country.

I wholeheartedly support this bill and I urge my colleagues to do the same.

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February 14th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is right that the changes we are proposing are fundamental, and they are fundamental for a reason. The question that was posed was about what is different in Bill C-69. The two major differences are, first, mandatory consultation and engagement with indigenous people, and second, the issue of putting the environment hand in hand with the economy.

That was not achieved under the previous process. The previous process was tilted to one side and not the other. We firmly believe that the two go hand in hand. We can achieve pipeline approvals and we can achieve energy projects by considering the environmental impacts and ensuring it is a green project that goes forward.

In terms of things getting built, I stand behind our record of job creation in the country. The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 41 years, and 700,000 jobs have been created since October of 2015. That is a record of increased job creation.

We believe in promoting the economy, but we can do so while also promoting the environment.

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February 14th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this important debate on our government's proposed new impact assessment legislation, 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, which was tabled in this House last week by my colleague, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada.

I have spent about two decades of my life as a community activist alongside my colleagues in the Concerned Citizens of Tyendinaga and Environs and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, fighting a megadump expansion that threatened the health of our community's water. Ensuring our communities have strong environmental protections is one of my driving forces, so when I saw the weakening of federal environmental protections under the previous Harper government, I was compelled to act.

I was pleased to see our government launch a comprehensive review in June 2016 to restore the confidence of Canadians in federal environmental assessment processes, restore lost protections for our fisheries and waterways, and modernize the National Energy Board. Now, after more than 14 months of extensive engagement with indigenous leaders, provincial and territorial leaders, businesses, environmental groups, and Canadians, our government has introduced proposed legislation that reflects the values and priorities Canadians expressed throughout this process.

The proposed impact assessment act lays out a vision for a modern impact assessment and regulatory system that recognizes that the environment and the economy must work together to build us a sustainable future. It represents an important shift in the way major projects will be assessed in Canada.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency would now become the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. It would be the single authority mandated to lead assessments and coordinate the government's consultations with indigenous peoples on all matters related to project assessments. This new structure would bring about greater process integrity and ensure consistency in how major projects are assessed.

The new agency would work closely with life-cycle regulators on major energy transmission, transportation, nuclear, and offshore oil and gas projects. The new Canadian energy regulator, which would replace the National Energy Board, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and offshore boards, would provide expertise for assessments of projects related to their mandates, such as major energy transmission, nuclear, and offshore oil and gas projects. The regulatory requirements would be considered within an integrated impact assessment process.

The proposed changes seek to broaden project reviews from environmental assessments to impact assessments, with a focus on sustainability. This means assessments would consider a broader range of potential impacts to understand how a proposed project could affect not just the environment but also social and health aspects, indigenous peoples, jobs, and the economy over the longer term.

An impact assessment is a dynamic process. It brings together a wide range of perspectives, including different cultural and historical references, often diverging economic interests, and varying points of view on how to manage our environment, our health, and our society.

Too often in the past, indigenous peoples and the general public were invited to engage in environmental reviews very late in the process. The Concerned Citizens of Tyendinaga and Environs and other community groups across the country know all too well the battle it can take to have our voices heard. As another way to rebuild faith in environmental reviews, the proposed impact assessment act introduces a new early planning and engagement phase for assessments. This would allow Canadians to have their say right from the outset and thereby influence the design of proposed projects. This early planning would also provide the basis for co-operating with other jurisdictions and ensuring early consultation with indigenous groups.

Regulatory certainty would be achieved by making the system more efficient and predictable, giving companies the clarity and predictability they need with legislated timelines, with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada leading all reviews in collaboration with provinces, indigenous peoples, and life cycle regulators, where applicable, to support the objective of one project, one assessment. It is one thing to streamline the federal review process, but we also recognize other jurisdictions have their own assessments. This can be confusing for proponents and the public, creating duplication and delays.

The proposed impact assessment act would introduce a new era of collaboration in the review of projects. It would advance the principle of “one project, one assessment” to reduce duplication and increase co-operation with other jurisdictions. It would also create alignment within federal departments that contribute to different steps of the assessment and regulatory phases.

Through this proposed legislation, our government has demonstrated its commitment to restoring robust, thorough reviews of major projects while working closely with provinces to avoid duplication. Another element of the proposed legislation, reconciliation with indigenous peoples, is one of the main elements of the design of the new system. The proposed changes seek to build new partnerships based on recognition of indigenous rights up front. This includes early engagement and participation at every stage.

The legislation would create new space for indigenous jurisdictions to enter into agreements with the federal government to exercise powers under the act, including the potential to conduct assessments. Going forward, it would be mandatory to consider and protect indigenous traditional knowledge alongside science and other evidence. The proposed impact assessment act would provide a practical plan that will rebuild trust, drive innovation, encourage the use of cleaner technologies, and promote a healthy and clean environment.

With these significant improvements to our assessment system, Canadians will be confident that good projects can move forward in a way that protects our environment and supports reconciliation with indigenous peoples, while creating jobs and strengthening our economy. I believe strongly that the proposed impact assessment act would achieve a unique balance. We are making sure that good projects can be built sustainably while creating jobs and economic opportunities for Canadians.

I have reached out to conservation groups in my riding about this bill, and I have heard from organizations like Quinte Conservation and Lower Trent Conservation that the proposed changes are a positive step in the environmental assessment process. This proposed legislation represents a significant milestone, but we still have a lot of work to do to advance this bill and develop supporting policies. We will do so by continuing to engage Canadians, as we have done to date. The result will be an impact assessment process that demonstrates we can bring resources to market while considering our environment, our health, and our society, and that we can do it in a sustainable way.

I have been very fortunate to be part of both the environment committee and the indigenous affairs committee, and I have to say that this bill is very much informed by the importance of both areas to ensure that we get it right. The economy and the environment can go hand in hand, but so can indigenous rights. It is so important to recognize the principles of indigenous rights throughout all of the bills that we bring forward in the House to ensure that indigenous peoples are recognized and that they can move toward self-determination. That can only be accomplished by ensuring that they participate in every aspect of our environmental and economic development. I am very proud to be part of a government that recognizes the importance of including indigenous peoples in every aspect of legislation moving forward, whether it is environmental or otherwise.

In conclusion, the proposed legislation reflects values that are important to Canadians, including early, inclusive, and meaningful public engagement; nation-to-nation, Inuit-crown, and government-to-government partnerships with indigenous peoples; timely decisions based on the best available science and indigenous traditional knowledge; and sustainability for present and future generations.