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

Third reading (House), as of June 12, 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 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 14th, 2018 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

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.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

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.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

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.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

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.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

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.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

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.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2018 / 6:50 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to pursue something. Bill C-69 is an omnibus bill changing three bills. I should stress that Bill C-68 on the Fisheries Act gets it exactly right and keeps the promise to restore lost protections. Bill C-69 does not.

What we keep hearing from the government side is that there was listening and there was a great deal of consultation. There was a great deal of consultation, but there was not much listening. We had two high-powered expert panels convened by the Liberal government, one on environmental assessment and one on the National Energy Board. Both expert panels gave detailed advice for what should take place.

There was no formal response, ever, to those high-powered, and I imagine high-priced, efforts that had cross-country hearings. Their recommendations were not heeded at all in what we have here. I could detail the many ways in which they were not.

Perhaps the hon. member could explain to me why the government commissioned two expert panels to tour the country and provide advice, if it intended to give it no weight whatsoever in drafting new legislation.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2018 / 6:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at second reading of Bill C-69. I will focus my comments on part 2, the Canadian energy regulator act.

Bill C-69 is about so much more than exactly how pipelines and other major energy projects are reviewed and approved. It is about what role Canada will play internationally on resource development and energy production. It is about whether Canada will continue to be a leader in producing the most environmentally and socially responsible energy under the highest standards in the world. It is about whether the federal government will fulfill its moral obligation and economic imperative to enable Canada to supply the ever-growing global demand with Canadian oil and gas. Canada must remain open for business. The world needs and wants more Canada. The world needs and wants more Canadian oil.

Every other oil-exporting country is stepping up to meet that demand and to seize its growing share of the world market, but during the two years since the last election, energy investment in Canada has declined more than in any other two-year period in 70 years. The dollar value is the equivalent of losing 75% of auto manufacturing and 100% of aerospace investment in Canada. Recent reports show that in 2017 alone, four projects worth $84 billion left Canada.

The decline in Canadian energy investment is not only due to lower energy prices, which are now rallying, but due to irresponsible anti-energy policies and a lack of leadership and political will. The real consequences have been hundreds of thousands of Canadians, one-sixth of the total oil and gas workers in Canada, out of work; bankruptcies and foreclosures; family breakdowns; and escalating crime. The economic impacts have rippled through other sectors and across Canada. Canada is falling behind.

Reuters reports that Canadian oil producers are running out of options to get through to markets as pipeline and rail capacity fill up, driving prices to four-year lows and increasing the risk of firms having to sell cheaply until at least late 2019. Canada is a captive merchant to its American market with 99% of Canadian oil exports going to the U.S. However, the result of American regulatory reform and cost-cutting with the removal of the 40-year ban on oil exports is that U.S. shale oil is being recovered and sold to new markets at an ever-increasing pace. In 2005, the U.S. imported 12.5 million barrels per day. Today, it imports only four million. Today, it exports almost two million, and this number is estimated to double in only four years. The U.S. is expected to provide over 80% of the global supply growth over the next decade.

Market diversification is critical for Canada, and Canadian energy companies are trying to find a way to reach tidewater so that they can compete for international markets and not sell at a discount to the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S. is removing red tape, ramping up exports, and rapidly pursuing its energy independence. However, the Liberal delays, uncertainty, and anti-energy agenda are threatening Canada's economy now and our position as a potential global leader.

The government's failure of leadership on the Trans Mountain expansion is the latest in a pattern of roadblocks to Canadian energy development. The same day the Liberals approved the Trans Mountain expansion, over 400 days ago now, they vetoed the federally approved northern gateway pipeline, which would have connected Alberta oil to the west coast for export to the Asia-Pacific region, where demand for oil will grow exponentially for decades.

Northern gateway had undergone the same rigorous review and consultation as Trans Mountain and Line 3, which were both approved, but despite the science and the evidence that the route was sound, despite the project being in the national interest, despite the 31 equity partnerships with indigenous communities, instead of the Prime Minister offering additional consultation or any options, he said that he did not “feel” right about the project and he vetoed it.

Recently, in October 2017, TransCanada was forced to abandon the nation-building energy east opportunity. It would have been one of the largest private sector infrastructure investments in Canadian history, and would have carried crude from the west through the heart of Canada to Atlantic ports for use in eastern Canadian markets and sale to Europe. However, the political risks and pressure were too great for the Prime Minister and after three years of delay, stops, and starts, additional review, and last-minute conditions, TransCanada finally warned and then withdrew its plans for the $15 billion project. TransCanada estimates that it lost just over $1 billion on energy east. Enbridge estimates it lost just over half a billion dollars on northern gateway, and that does not even come close to the lost opportunities for Canadians. Billions of dollars that should have been added to Canada's economy are going to other jurisdictions.

In July, Petronas cancelled the $36 billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project after regulatory delays because “headwinds were too great”, despite widespread support, including the majority of first nations. Progress Energy, Petronas's Canadian subsidiary, anticipated Canadian investment dollars moving to American projects.

Calgary-based company, Veresen, recently announced it was investing up to $10 billion on a new LNG project, proudly called “Jordan Cove”, in Oregon. The project will invest $10 billion in the American economy and provide thousands of jobs in the U.S.

Oil and gas companies are moving their assets to the U.S. because the Liberals are constantly changing the rules of the game, making it ever more difficult to invest in Canadian energy. What is especially disappointing is that Canada has a long track record of rigorous and comprehensive environmental, social, safety, and economic assessments for energy projects like pipelines.

In 2014, WorleyParsons issued an exceptionally thorough report examining the processes and policies for oil and gas in many jurisdictions around the world to evaluate Canada's situation and compare it to its international competitors. It measured Canada against other countries for performance in areas such as overall decision-making process; cumulative assessments for regions with multiple projects; implementation of early and meaningful consultation with stakeholders and indigenous people, including the real integration of traditional indigenous knowledge; and the implementation of effective social impact in health assessments.

Here are the report's conclusions:

The results of the current review re-emphasize that Canada's EA Processes are among the best in the world. Canada has state of the art guidelines for consultation, TK, and cumulative effects assessment, Canadian practitioners are among the leaders in the area of indigenous involvement, and social and health impact assessment. Canada has the existing frameworks, the global sharing of best practices, the government institutions and the capable people to make improvements to EA for the benefit of the country and for the benefit of the environment communities and the economy....

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

However, since the 2015 election, the Liberals have constantly denigrated and undermined confidence in the regulator and in Canada's reputation, and have created a regulatory vacuum for energy development in Canada by ongoing reviews.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

February 8th, 2018 / 5:55 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking tonight in adjournment proceedings, and the timing is almost impossible to believe. On October 20, I attempted to warn the Minister of Environment and the Prime Minister of how very dangerous it would be to give the offshore petroleum boards in Atlantic Canada any power or role in environmental assessment. The idea that the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board or the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board should have any role in the environmental assessment of projects over which they have regulatory authority is desperately worrying. I say that because these boards were created by legislation to expand offshore oil and gas. That is their role. They have a mandate to expand offshore oil and gas.

I said to the minister on October 20 that offshore petroleum boards in Atlantic Canada have legislated mandates to expand oil and gas activity. They have never had any role in environmental assessment, and if they did, it would be a conflict of interest. Now it appears that the Liberals are following through on Stephen Harper's plan to put these boards into environmental assessments, where they should not be.

I have to say that my final question to the Minister of Environment was whether she could assure this House that she would keep these offshore boards out of environmental assessment. Her answer was not very clear on October 20. The answer is really clear today, because we now have omnibus Bill C-69, which entrenches a role for these very boards in environmental assessments, where they have no business being.

There has been a bit of fancy footwork in the Liberal talking points. Expert panels reviewed the broken laws left after the Harper era by omnibus budget bills C-38 and C-45. We had massive consultations. Very high-powered expert boards were commissioned to look at the National Energy Board and provide recommendations and to look at the environmental assessment process and provide recommendations. Both recommended that energy regulators should play no role in environmental assessment and that there should be a stand-alone environmental assessment agency.

In some ways, if we were to read the press releases and the talking points, one might think that is what was just done today in Bill C-69. There is one agency, called the impact assessment agency, except for one thing. When one reads it in detail, one finds that when there is a project that would be regulated by one of these boards—what we used to call the National Energy Board, which we will have to get used to calling the Canadian energy regulator; the offshore petroleum boards; or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which, for the first time ever, Stephen Harper put in the frame of environmental assessment in 2012—under the Liberals, these boards would continue to play a role in environmental assessment.

This is how they did the fancy footwork. There is only one environmental assessment agency, but when a project falls into one of those jurisdictions, the people put on the panel to review the project must be taken from the boards of those agencies. They will apply their other laws at the same time as they go through environmental reviews.

Let me talk about the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board. I am going to quote Dr. Lindy Weilgart, an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University and an international expert on seismic blasting. She talked about the seismic surveys, approved by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, in the migratory habitat of the endangered right whale. Air guns are shot every 10 seconds around the clock. It is the loudest human-produced noise right after nuclear and chemical explosions. That is why she said that in 2016, 28 right whale experts declared that the additional distress of widespread seismic air gun surveys represented a tipping point for the survival of this species. The Liberals today have given these boards a role in environmental assessment.

I am horrified by this. I ask my colleague, the hon. parliamentary secretary, how she can live with what the government has just done.