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

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

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 if the work may interfere with navigation;

(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 13, 2019 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments 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
June 13, 2019 Failed Motion respecting Senate amendments 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 (amendment)
June 13, 2019 Passed Motion for closure
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

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

June 12th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Northumberland—Peterborough South Ontario

Liberal

Kim Rudd LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his motion. In many ways, I thought he did a great job in his opening comments and in his motion of summarizing our government's record to date, as well as our vision for Canada's future in this clean growth century.

Among other things, his motion acknowledges our commitment to making Canada a global climate change leader, and rightly so. After all, we did not just sign the Paris accord on climate change; we helped to shape it.

Then we took a leadership role in the creation of Mission Innovation, a new global partnership that is accelerating clean energy solutions like never before.

We sat down with the provinces and territories. We engaged with indigenous peoples. We consulted with Canadians on how best to reach our climate change targets. The result was the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, which lays out a path to the clean growth, low carbon economy, a blueprint for reducing emissions, spurring innovation, adapting to climate change, and creating good, sustainable jobs across the country, the very things the hon. member opposite prescribes in his motion. However, we have not stopped there.

We continue to make generational investments in clean technology and innovation as well as foundational science and research. We are making similar unprecedented investments in the green infrastructure that supports clean growth. At the same time, we are putting a price on carbon and accelerating the phase out of coal. All of this leads me to think the hon. member opposite wrote his motion by taking a page out of our policy book. That will become even clearer as this debate proceeds.

Over the course of today, a number of my colleagues will speak to specific elements of the motion, including our comprehensive efforts to combat climate change, such as our record investments develop clean and renewable sources of energy, our focus on promoting energy efficiency, and our plan to protect Canada's oceans and coastal communities.

I would like to begin as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources by setting the scene, explaining how the many moving parts fit together, and how Canada's abundant natural resources, including our vast supply of energy, are a key piece of the clean tech puzzle.

The world is in the midst of something that has only happened a few times in history, a fundamental shift in the types of energy that power our societies. The page of that transition may vary from country to country, but it is under way and it is irreversible.

Climate change is forcing all of us to think differently about how we power our factories, heat our homes, and fuel our vehicles, and about the importance of using both traditional and renewable energy more efficiently.

This is not just another issue. We are not talking about tinkering with a particular government policy or deciding whether to build a road somewhere. We are talking about the future of our planet. We are talking about creating an entirely new direction for our economy, redefining how we see our connectiveness to other nations, and about the importance of global action.

That is why our government is taking action. This year alone we have invested in smart electricity grids, electric and alternative fuel for charging stations, more energy efficient homes, and help for northern communities to move off diesel. Each of these takes us a step closer to the future we want, a country driven by clean technology and defined by innovation.

We are also reimagining carbon by turning otherwise harmful carbon dioxide emissions into valuable products, such as building materials, alternative fuels, and consumer goods.

Just last week we heard exciting news reports about a company on the west coast that had found a way to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turn it into a low carbon fuel for vehicles at an economical price of less than U.S. $100 per tonne. That is where Canadians are taking us with their ingenuity and their imagination. This is the kind of innovation that will transform our economy and create great green jobs for years to come.

Then there is energy efficiency, an area that is too often overlooked. According to the International Energy Agency, improving energy efficiency could get us almost halfway to our Paris commitments. Just think of that: halfway. Thus is why we have proposed new building codes that will require our homes and offices to do more with less and transform the use of energy in the country for generations.

Canadians are helping to lead the way with innovative and novel ways to reduce our energy consumption. Our government is investing in those opportunities but there is still plenty of work to be done, which is why we continue to invest in our traditional sources of energy, and why we continue to develop our vast oil and gas reserves as a bridge to tomorrow's low-carbon economy.

There are two reasons for that. First, as the IEA also tells us, global demand for energy will increase by 30% by 2040. That is like adding another China in terms of energy demand. Even under the most optimistic scenarios for renewable energy, and even with our best efforts at enhancing energy efficiency, much of that increased demand identified by the IEA will have to be met by fossil fuels. The fact is the world will continue to rely on oil and gas for some time, meaning that our conventional energy is not “increasingly obsolete”, as the hon. member opposite would have us believe.

The second reason for developing our oil and gas resources is so Canada can leverage the revenues it generates to invest in our low-carbon future. I will have more to say on that in a moment, but first I would like us to return to the motion before us.

I presume the hon. member opposite's reference to fossil fuel infrastructure is a thinly veiled reference to our government's decision last month to secure the Trans Mountain pipeline and its expansion. Even on that score, I would argue that the hon. member is playing catch-up to our government. Let me explain.

As all members of this House know, our government approved the Trans Mountain expansion and Line 3 replacement pipelines based on the best science, the widest possible consultations, and Canada's national interest. Those decisions were made as part of a sensible policy that includes diversifying our energy markets, improving environmental safety, and creating thousands of good middle-class jobs, including in indigenous communities.

However, what the member opposite may have forgotten is that we made two other key decisions at the same time. First, we rejected the northern gateway project because the Great Bear Rainforest is no place for an oil pipeline. Second, we placed a moratorium on tanker traffic along the northern B.C. coastline, including around the Dixon Entrance, the Hecate Strait, and the Queen Charlotte Sound.

All of those decisions reflected balance, and our belief that economic prosperity and environmental protection can, and indeed must, go hand in hand, and that there must be a balance. The Trans Mountain expansion pipeline is part of that balance. It is part of the plan that I described earlier using this time of transition to Canada's advantage by building the infrastructure we need to get our resources to global markets and then using the revenues they generate to invest in cleaner forms of energy. By moving more of our energy to tidewater, our producers will have greater access to global markets and world prices, which according to analysts at Scotiabank and others, could add about $15 billion annually to the value of our oil exports.

In addition, the construction and operation of the pipeline is expected to generate as much as $4.5 billion in new federal and provincial government revenues. Those are new tax dollars to pay for our hospitals and schools, to build new roads and bridges, to fund our cherished social programs, and yes, to invest in clean technology and renewable energy.

The TMX pipeline will operate within Alberta's own 100-megatonne cap on greenhouse gas emissions, making the project consistent with Canada's climate plan. For all those reasons it was essential that our government take the necessary steps to protect the project from the political uncertainty caused by the Government of British Columbia. However, as the Minister of Finance has said, our plan is not to be the long-term owner of the TMX pipeline. We know that the TMX pipeline has real economic value and we fully expect that investors will want to be part of the project's future. In fact, we are already seeing that. A number of investors, including indigenous groups, have expressed interest in taking an ownership position.

This is all part of a well-begun journey to our clean energy future, a journey that started as soon as we formed government and set about restoring public confidence in the way major resource projects, such as the TMX pipeline, are reviewed.

One of the first ways we did that was by adopting an interim approach for major projects already in the queue. These principles include assessing direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project, expanding public consultations and indigenous engagement, and recognizing the importance of indigenous knowledge, all the while ensuring that no project proponent would have to return to the starting line.

This new approach led to a number of significant breakthroughs. For example, we led the single deepest indigenous engagement ever for a Canadian resource project in Canada, and we responded to what we heard from those consultations by co-developing an indigenous advisory and monitoring committee to oversee the lifespan of the TMX pipeline, as well as an economic pathways partnership to enable indigenous workers to reap the benefits of the projects. Both are Canadian firsts. Our government also appointed a special ministerial panel to hear from Canadians whose views may not have been considered when the National Energy Board concluded its review of the TMX project.

In the end, we approved the project and accepted the NEB's 157 binding conditions as part of our larger plan for clean growth. It is a plan that combats climate change, protects our oceans, invests in clean technology and energy, restores investor and public confidence, and advances indigenous reconciliation.

We introduced legislation, Bill C-69, as a permanent fix to the way environmental assessments and regulatory reviews are carried out in Canada. We have also launched a historic process to recognize and implement inherent indigenous rights, a new approach that will renew Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples, rebuild indigenous nations, and set a real path to indigenous self-determination based on mutual respect and partnership. We have tabled budget after budget that promotes clean growth, improves opportunities for indigenous communities, and supports fundamental science. Our budget this year builds on its predecessors by encouraging businesses to invest in clean energy and use more energy-efficient equipment. It also invests in cybersecurity for critical infrastructure, such as energy grids and information networks.

Budget 2018 recognizes that Canada will not get ahead if half of its population is held back, that investing in women is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.

Our government has matched its words with actions, investing to build exactly the kind of future that the hon. member opposite envisions, one where science, curiosity, and innovation spur economic growth. All of these things I have talked about today are part of a solid plan, a balanced practical plan, one with many elements but a single goal: making Canada a leader in the global transition to a low-carbon future by creating the prosperity we all want while protecting the planet we all cherish.

I know the hon. member opposite shares those same goals. His motion speaks to our vision, and I hope he will continue to support our efforts.

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

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

North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

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

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

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

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

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

June 12th, 2018 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-344, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act regarding community benefit. While this bill has commendable intentions, it is my great concern that it will actually have a negative impact on our communities and the small and medium-sized construction businesses that employ so many Canadians. In my opinion, this private member's bill continues the Liberals' assault on SMEs by adding another layer of red tape to federal government contracts.

Just last week, I spoke on Bill C-69 and the Liberals' changes to the Navigation Protection Act contained within that bill. Like Bill C-344, the changes to the NPA would add more red tape and cost for project proponents and the construction companies that do the work. While this private member's bill may be smaller in scope and thereby seen as less problematic for small and medium-sized businesses than the government's omnibus bill, Bill C-69, it still reflects a worrying trend by the government.

The Liberals' mentality seems to be that they can add any amount of new taxes on businesses and that it will have no effect on their bottom line or the price they charge their customers or, on this occasion, that they can attach any amount of red tape on businesses' activities and they will happily absorb the administrative burden. This is not the case. There are consequences every time a government does this, just as there are benefits every time a government reduces taxes or cuts red tape for job-creating small and medium-sized businesses. If passed, this bill would pertain to those projects and the subsequent contracts awarded by the federal Minister of Public Services and Procurement.

I will talk about the substance of narrow scope of the bill in a minute, but for the moment, I will speculate about why the Liberals, through this private member's bill, have limited the application of the bill in such a way. It could be that the Liberals actually know that applying these principles more broadly would generate a larger backlash among the construction industry and the many partners that often work with the federal government to fund projects. It could be that Liberals want to use this private member's bill as a virtue-signalling talking point in order to win over a certain segment of the population. It could also be that some Liberals actually realize that slapping this requirement onto all federally funded projects would have a negative impact on the construction industry, as I have already identified, and as a result, they have decided to limit the damage to a more narrowly defined category of projects.

As I mentioned earlier, this private member's bill covers a limited number of projects and contracts of which the federal government is a partner. This private member's bill would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act and would not apply to the projects that the federal government supports through the department of infrastructure. Still, the government's support of this bill is something that the construction industry and the federal government's partners should be aware of and concerned about.

Looking at the substance of the bill in a bit more detail, I find the level of ambiguity contained in Bill C-344 troubling. In clause 1 of the bill, the section creating new subclause 20.1(2) states, “The Minister may, before awarding a contract for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, require bidders on the proposal to provide information on the community benefits to be derived from the project.” First, this clause says, “The Minister may”. “May” is a small word, but it sure has huge implications. Right there, we have uncertainty. This rule will not be constant. How will bidders know if this requirement will be applied?

Next, the new subclause 20.1(3) states, “A contracting party shall, upon request by the Minister, provide the Minister with an assessment as to whether community benefits have derived from the project.” Here we have more ambiguity, particularly in the needlessly vague and nebulous term “community benefit”. How is a bidder to determine what constitutes “community benefit”?

As we heard from the question I asked the sponsor of this bill, he could provide no definition. How is a bidder to know whether said benefit will meet whatever subjective criterion the minister choses to employ? When the bill states, “upon request by the Minister”, there is no certainty for the bidders or ultimately the successful bidder. This means that if this bill were to pass, people bidding on a contract will have to price into their bid the risk of being required to do or produce what the minister wants without knowing what that may be.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, I think the intent behind Bill C-344 is commendable. However, it leaves me wondering how the Liberals feel about charity and social responsibility, and whether they have considered the law of unintended consequences.

I would like to quote from Michael Atkinson, President of the Canadian Construction Association, who appeared before the transport, infrastructure and communities committee when this bill was being studied.

Regarding corporate social responsibility, Mr. Atkinson stated:

Corporate social responsibility is becoming something that we are looking at very earnestly in our industry. It's a very important part of doing business today. We have a how-to guide coming out for our contracting members in the industry, but CSR is not social procurement. CSR is a voluntary program that a corporate entity takes on to ensure that what it does as a company meets environmental sensibilities, good HR practices, etc. Social procurement is a government coming out and saying, “If you want to do business with us, then you have to have a CSR policy.” I think that's a very important difference.

Mr. Atkinson highlights a very important distinction. Businesses in general, and many companies in the construction industry, already make investments in their local communities as part of their commitment to corporate social responsibility. I believe that it is important that in this conversation about community benefit, we do not minimize the benefit that communities are already receiving from businesses of all sizes. The picture painted by those in the Liberal Party and the NDP is that corporate Canada simply takes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Corporations, big and small, give back to their communities. They provide jobs to families in the communities in which they operate. However, beside this very basic economic support, small, medium and large businesses sponsor community events, support local infrastructure, and provide support to non-profit community groups like sports teams. They do this not out of obligation or necessity but out of an appreciation for the community they work and operate in, and sometimes live in, because they know they are part of the community. They do not need to be told how to be good corporate citizens. Most already are.

Of the reasons that I will not be supporting Bill C-344, the most notable are that I believe it minimizes the support and benefits that already accrue to communities when a project is undertaken in their backyard, that it is needlessly ambiguous, and that it fails to consider the unintended consequences that may arise from its implementation.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

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

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

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

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Madam Speaker, I was on the fisheries committee back in 2012 when the changes were made. I helped author them. I was also on the fisheries committee when the Liberal government tore apart extremely good legislation. I have also had the honour of being in the environment field for over 35 years and did pipeline assessments. My colleague is exactly right about how carefully pipelines are made these days.

Just as an aside, I would recommend my colleague get on the fisheries committee, she is so competent in this field.

I was also on the environment committee recently when we looked at Bill C-69, and the horror stories from industry are legendary. Chris Bloomer from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association said that Canada had a toxic regulatory environment. He talked about pancaking regulation on top of regulation. It is an environmental lawyer's dream. The lawyers are the ones who will to get rich.

Could my colleague talk about the effect of this and other acts on Canada's investment climate?

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

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

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

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

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 7:30 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 third time and passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 7:45 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, if there is anything Bill C-69 speaks of, it is another broken promise by the Liberals, given the fact this is again another omnibus bill. However, it really does fulfill a prophecy that has been stated widely by the Prime Minister. He said it in Peterborough and Paris about moving to an alternate based economy. In fact, his inside operatives, the de facto prime minister in the country, Gerald Butts, has said that it is not about alternative pipelines; it is about an alternative economy.

What is most disturbing in the bill is the consolidation of power, a consolidation that would give power to the environment minister and to cabinet to basically destroy any project that comes forward. It gives them unilateral control of this.

Will the Minister of Environment and Climate Change stand in the House and finally admit that it is your intent to destroy the oil and gas industry in the country and not to protect it?

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 7:50 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her speech. Sometimes I have trouble following the Liberals' logic. The minister just reminded us that previous Conservative governments gutted the environmental assessment process, that they broke the trust of Canadians, and that they removed science from the process. Then, all of a sudden, as soon as they took office the Liberals used the very environmental assessment process they are criticizing to approve the Trans Mountain expansion.

The Liberals will say that they tried to fix it up, but no one believes them. It was the same thing. Bill C-69 was introduced a year and a half later, after the Trans Mountain project was approved using the Conservative approach that the Liberals are criticizing. That makes no sense whatsoever.

The question I would like to ask the minister is this. Let's say I give the Liberals the benefit of the doubt and that the process really is better than it was before, even though we have our doubts. How is it that Bill C-69 does not include a list of projects that will be assessed and does not contain any clear and definitive criteria for determining which projects will be assessed? Why do we not know how that will be decided?

It is all well and good to have a good process, but if no projects are ever assessed, then it is useless.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 7:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, here we are again speaking to Bill C-69. The minister pretends the bill is going to wonderfully restore trust in Canada's impact assessment program. That is a myth. In fact, she spent a lot of time talking about the process we needed to establish that would restore this trust.

Let us talk about the process that the minister embarked upon to get the bill through the House of Commons. Rather than consulting broadly, rather than allowing the committee and the House to do its work in the time required to do it well, she and her government invoked closure in the House again and again.

The Liberals introduced a bill they claimed they would never introduce, an omnibus bill. It is a bill that touches on a whole raft of different pieces of legislation, including the Environmental Assessment Act, the National Energy Board Act, and the Navigation Protection Act. Before they were in government, the Liberals said they would never use omnibus bills. Then they present us with one, try to ram this through the committee, and ram it through the House, invoking closure.

I sit on that committee as vice-chair. I know the minister spoke well of the committee. That is because she got her way. The majority of the members on that committee are Liberals. They rushed the bill through. It got so bad that hundreds of witnesses wanted to appear on the bill because it was important to their industries or their environmental movement.

We had heard about 24 witnesses out of the hundreds that wanted to appear, and suddenly, the Liberals on the committee introduced what is called a programming motion. Basically, the programming motion gives a set number of days to hear witnesses, review all the amendments, pass the legislation and send it back to the House. That programming motion was so inadequate. It did not provide anywhere close to the amount of time required to actually evaluate the legislation. It is very serious legislation and it is absolutely critical to Canada's national prosperity and our ability to get Canada's resources to world markets. They could not even spend the appropriate time doing the review.

Over 400 amendments came forward at committee, and over 100 amendments were Liberal amendments. This is the Liberal government bringing forward legislation. It rushes it forward, saying, it has to get this done, that it needs to restore trust, that it will ram it through, but it will introduce some of its own amendments because it got it wrong and it wants its Liberal members to fix the mistakes. One hundred Liberal amendments were introduced, so that was 100 mistakes in the legislation.

That is symptomatic of a failed Liberal government. Of course every Liberal amendment passed. How many Conservative amendments passed? Not one. These were common sense amendments that improved the legislation, to the degree it could be improved because it is deeply flawed legislation.

Here is something else, and I think Canadians need to hear this. It is the hypocrisy of the Liberal government. The government has said that it supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and has said it will implement that in Canadian law. Members of the NDP and Green Party who were at committee brought forward 25 different amendments where UNDRIP would be incorporated into the legislation, the way the Prime Minister promised when he ran for government.

How many times do members think the Liberals on a committee voted in favour of UNDRIP being incorporated into the legislation? Zero. Is that hypocrisy? I think we can all agree that he spoke out of both sides of his mouth. That is the whip coming from Gerald Butts and his team, who were sitting behind the Liberals telling them exactly how they should vote at committee.

This was the process that was supposed to restore trust in our impact assessment review process. This legislation went through a process that was a sham. The stakeholders across Canada who expected to be heard on it were not heard. We, as members of the committee, were not allowed to speak and debate many of the amendments that were brought forward, because we were cut off by this programming motion.

That is just the context of Bill C-69, the supposed efforts by the government to introduce Bill C-69, which was to restore trust in our environmental review process. It has done nothing of the sort.

Let me talk about the bill itself. We have talked about the flawed process that was followed to actually get this bill through. I am assuming the same rushed process will be imposed in the Senate. This bill has three main parts. It addresses the environmental assessment approval process. It also creates a new Canadian energy regulator to replace the former National Energy Board, and it also fixes what the government believes are flaws in the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Let me talk about the last one first. In 2012, the former Conservative government identified that the Navigable Waters Protection Act had not been reviewed or amended for 150 years, basically going back to the time of Confederation. This was legislation that was so antiquated. Now the environmental movement had taken the Navigable Waters Protection Act and had treated it as an environmental piece of legislation. They would always trot it out and say the Navigable Waters Protection Act prevents one from doing this and this, and this. “We are protecting the environment.”

However, the Navigable Waters Protection Act had nothing to do with the environment. It was all about transportation on Canadian waters, and making sure that navigation was free and open across Canada. Think about going back 150 years and how transportation has changed. Think about that. This legislation had not been changed.

Therefore, the Conservative government went about modernizing that legislation and it was excellent legislation. It improved the process in which we address navigation issues, especially as they relate to areas of our country that are subject to farming, and farmers, who could not get work done on their lands because of antiquated navigation laws.

However, there is a second piece. That was the Canadian energy regulator. Think about this. This is what the Liberals do. This characterizes the Liberals. They took the National Energy Board, one of the most competent and capable boards of its kind in the world, in fact noted around the world, and sought out for its expertise in the world, and created a whole new Canadian national energy regulator. Imagine that. Was it necessary? Of course not. It is another make-work project for the Liberal government, more costs, hundreds of millions of dollars of additional costs to create this new organization to implement a new environmental review process. Who pays for that? It is the taxpayers.

The government promised that this legislation, Bill C-69, was going to shorten the timelines in which resource projects would be reviewed and approved. Okay. People took them at their word. What came out of the sausage maker? Wow, what a mess, just like sausages look like quite a mess as they are being made. This legislation was the same.

The government said that these new timelines shortened the actual environmental review process, the assessment. However, it tacked on 180 days at the beginning called the “planning phase”, which of course has extended the time frames involved far beyond what people expected.

Beyond that, within the legislation itself, the government incorporated numerous opportunities for the minister to exercise her discretion to extend or suspend a timeline. Therefore, throughout this process that a proponent goes through there are opportunities for the minister to say, “I want to suspend the process right now because I have some concerns about that and that”, and the proponent has no power to prevent that. The minister also has a right to say, “I'm going to extend the timelines. Notwithstanding our government's promise that it was going to be a shorter assessment process, I'm going to extend it. I have the power in this new legislation to do that.” Therefore, the time frames are actually longer, and the certainty is much less because of the amount of discretion given to the minister in this legislation, contrary to what the government had promised.

At the end of this process, the planning phase and the environmental review process, one would think that decisions would be based on science, and that would be it, we have moved to a fully science-based process. No. The government has reserved unto the minister the right to veto a project at any point along the line, including at the end of the environmental review process, again undermining certainty for the investment community, which is shopping its money and investments around the world saying, “Where is there a warm and welcoming environment in which we can do business, where we drive prosperity for the people of that nation, and we are able to build critical resource projects and infrastructure that gets those resources to market?”

This bill does not live up to its billing at all. The timelines are longer and the discretion is greater, as is the uncertainty for the people who want to move forward with resource projects.

It gets worse. Do members remember the minister saying that the government wants this process to be more streamlined, more welcoming, and with certainty for proponents of research projects in Canada? Bill C-69 includes a host of new criteria that will now be applied to those who want to get projects approved, including upstream and downstream impacts of things such as pipelines.

It gets worse. On top of that, the government has included a provision that says that every project must take into account the impact that project will have on Canada's greenhouse gas emission targets under the Paris Agreement. If we were thinking of sending a message to the world that we are open for business again, this would be the wrong way of doing it. Bill C-69 does not do that in any way. We have heard some of my colleagues quote organizations in Canada that are focused on resource projects and that have lamented the fact that Bill C-69 is a huge step backward, and that no further pipelines will ever be approved in Canada based on the legislation as it is.

We tried to improve the legislation at committee. It is not like we sat on our hands and said that it was a fait accompli. We worked very hard. We brought forward about 100 amendments that would have improved this legislation, made it more timely, made it more certain, and made it a vehicle that would attract investment to Canada. What did our Liberal friends across the table do? They voted against every single one of those amendments. That is what we are dealing with, with the Liberal Party.

It gets worse. Let us talk about the precautionary principle, which is also incorporated into this legislation. A lot of people do not understand what the precautionary principle is. Effectively, what it is saying is better safe than sorry.

In other words, if there is anybody, whether it is the minister or someone on the minister's staff or someone in industry or someone in the environmental movement, who says that they think this project, before it has ever been assessed based on the science, it could be a danger to Canadians' health or the environment, the precautionary principle would dictate that the project would not go ahead.

The minister has the power to use the precautionary principle to simply say, “I am not allowing this project to go ahead.” The proponent could say, “Well, Madam Minister, we have all this evidence, scientific evidence that we have paid millions and millions of dollars to secure. This scientific information will prove to you that this project can be built and operated in an environmentally sustainable way.” The minister could say, “No. Precautionary principle. Better safe than sorry. Bye, bye.” That is what is included here.

Members may recall that there was a lot of complaining by the Liberals during the last election that somehow the environmental review process did not allow for enough people to become engaged in the process. What did the Liberal government do? It changed what is called the “standing test”. The standing test is very simply the rules under which Canadians and others are entitled to appear as intervenors before an impact assessment review.

Members can imagine what this would be like, if we had no control over who could be an intervenor. If any Tom, Dick, or Harry in the world wants to appear before an environmental review process but has no direct nexus to the project, or cannot prove that they have an interest in that project, why would we allow that individual to line up in this queue of people wanting to intervene?

What the Liberals have said is, “We are going to open this wide up. We don't care how many people come to be intervenors. If special interest groups use large numbers of intervenors to basically slow down the process, drag it out, and discourage investment, so be it.” That is what we are left with now in Bill C-69, a deeply flawed piece of legislation that has introduced numerous new opportunities for special interest groups to delay and obstruct projects that are of a national interest.

Let us talk about projects of a national interest. The government says that this legislation is going to attract all kinds of investment. We know industry is saying, “Absolutely not. There will not be one more pipeline built in Canada.” Now we have a pipeline, the TMX pipeline, the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which was approved in Canada, which was ready to be built, but, as usual, there are special interest groups that say, “Notwithstanding that there is a process, like Bill C-69, a process that is supposed to be legal, supposed to be fair, we will disagree with the decision, and we are going to fight this all the way. We are going to protest, lay our bodies down in front of the bulldozers.” On and on it goes. That is what we have with Kinder Morgan.

We have a Prime Minister who does have some options. He is, after all, the Prime Minister and has constitutional powers. One of those is the declaratory power under the Constitution. He has the ability to state that a project is in the national interest, and that supersedes provincial powers. Under the BNA Act, interprovincial pipelines are considered federal projects. The federal government has a right to intervene and promote. Rather than doing that, our Prime Minister says, “I am not going to exercise my constitutional powers. I am going to see if somebody else out there in the world will buy this pipeline, because TMX wants to sell it, wants to get out of it.”

Did he find any takers? None. What he says to taxpayers is, “I want you to pay this bill. I am going to pay $4.5 billion for this pipeline, even though its book value is only $2.5 billion.”

The cost is $2 billion more than the book value of that pipeline. That is what Canadians now have from the government. We have bought ourselves a pipeline, where all of the risk now falls on the shoulders of Canadian taxpayers.

This is awful legislation and we were never given the time to properly assess, review, and amend it. That should be a shame on this Liberal government.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 8:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, all I can say is poppycock. He talks about consultation with the public, but he left out the members of the House, who Canadians have elected to review this kind of legislation. A government can have all the consultation it wants across Canada, but if it does not provide the elected members of Parliament the opportunity to do their work, that is a scandal. That is why Bill C-69 is a scandal of a process. It has been short-circuited.

The member refers to the process by which the former government introduced bills, which is very similar to the process we have here, where the Prime Minister introduces omnibus bills and he then invokes closure and cuts off debate in the House. Where were the 14 months of consultations and work that the House could do on this bill? Where were they? We were cut short here. Is that the kind of government the Prime Minister leads?

If one were to review the mandate letter that the Minister of Environment received, one would see that there are numerous references to raising the bar on the relationship between the minister and the committees that review her legislation, and on how she relates to the members of the House. None of those mandate requirements were complied with in this case. Again, it is a true shock and scandal to the House.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 8:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I articulated in my speech, the minister certainly would have the power under this legislation, in Bill C-69, to do pretty well anything she pleases because she would have broad discretionary powers to suspend, extend, and then veto projects, which is the exact opposite of what industry expected the current government to do. People in industry expected there would be more certainty in the process, the process would be science-based, and instead it is something quite different.

To the member's earlier comment on amendments, as I mentioned, every single amendment of the over 100 amendments that the Liberal members of the committee brought forward was passed. None of the Conservative amendments were passed because the committee was not interested in getting this legislation right. It was interested in ramming through legislation that the minister wanted to have through.

By the way, I move, seconded by the member for Barrie—Innisfil, that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “that”, and substituting the following: 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 not now read a third time but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for the purpose of reconsidering all of its clauses.

Mr. Speaker, you will understand why we are doing this. It is because of the sham of a process that the Liberal government undertook to address amendments that were brought forward in good faith by my Green friends in the corner, by the NDP, and by our Conservative members of the committee, most of which were disregarded and treated in a very cavalier manner. This is intended to rectify that and give the House another opportunity to get this bill right.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 8:25 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding a minor hiccup at the end there, Canadians saw in the hon. member for Abbotsford's passion and heard tonight in his speech the truth about Bill C-69 and not the platitudes, rhetoric, and buzzwords used by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

He spoke about the committee. I was there. I actually saw this sham of a committee meeting go on, where every single amendment that the Liberal members of the committee tried to put through was adopted. When the Conservative side tried to move amendments forward to make this bill better, and even when the NDP member for Edmonton Centre tried to move amendments to make this bill better, all of them were lost. They were not accepted by the Liberal members of the committee.

The one thing that is really disturbing about this bill, and I mentioned this when the Minister of Environment and Climate Change was here, is the fact that this consolidates power. It actually would bring the decision-making into the minister and into the cabinet, which effectively means that the potential exists that no further projects would occur in this country. I wonder if the member shares that same assessment.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 8:30 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, again, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-69 on a new impact assessment and environmental assessment process.

I must begin by saying a few words about the approach to adopting this new process. Cloaked in righteousness, the Liberal government set to defending democratic institutions. It sought to give MPs their power and their voice back, respect the work of Parliament, and break from the Conservatives' despicable practice of cutting debates short. The Liberals said they wanted to give MPs time to do their work in order to represent their constituents well.

However, bad habits die hard, and closure has been imposed more than 40 times already. These are what we call time allocation motions that seek to limit the time for debate.

It seems that this bill is important to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. However, the Liberals imposed closure at every stage. At first reading, at report stage, and now at third reading, they gave parliamentarians a maximum of four or five hours before closing debate. We were promised, hand on heart, that a Liberal government would never do such despicable, undemocratic things. It has now become routine.

My Conservative colleague, who is a member of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, said that the government was bragging about having collaborated, studied amendments in committee, and listened to the opposition. It also brags about the fact that about 100 amendments were adopted in committee to improve the bill. Congratulations. I just want to point out that 99% of the amendments adopted were Liberal amendments. I have no doubt that that makes things easier.

It is mind-boggling to think that the bill was so poorly drafted and cobbled together, right from the start, that the Liberals were forced to present about 100 amendments in committee to try to patch it up and repair the damage. The bill lacked clarity and was poorly crafted, so it needed a lot of clarifications. That gives you an idea of the process, since government members are almost never required to fix a lousy job from the minister's office.

I would now like to talk about timeframes. It took the government 28 months to come up with a bill for a new environmental impact assessment process. During the campaign, the Liberals said that it was a priority because Canadians lost confidence in the process when it was destroyed and dismantled in the previous Parliament. They claimed that the Conservatives' process turned away from science and that we urgently needed to restore a transparent, valid, and scientific process that people could rely on. It took 28 months to come up with this bill.

During these 28 months, the government continued to sit back and to use the previous Parliament's process, a process that was supposed to be terrible.

What did the government do in the meantime? For one thing, it authorized the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which was Kinder Morgan's priority. How convenient that is for the government. When it wants a project to go ahead, it holds off on establishing a more serious, more credible, more scientific, and more rigorous process. The government used the tool left behind by the Conservatives, a means of fast-tracking and rubber-stamping projects, and was thus able to approve everything and anything.

The Liberals go through the motions of sticking a few bandaids on so it appears different, but they are not fooling anyone. Once again, the government used what it once criticized. This is more proof of the Liberals' hypocrisy.

The Trans Mountain expansion was approved in November 2016. It is now June 2018, and we are once again discussing the new environmental assessment process. Halfway through their mandate, the Liberals still have not passed a bill because they keep dragging their feet, citing consultations. The Liberals had no problem speeding some things through; a more rigorous process would have gotten in their way.

They broke their promise to assess the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion under a new environmental assessment process. While in British Columbia during the election campaign, the Prime Minister swore that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would never be assessed under the Conservatives' rules, yet that is exactly what happened. He also promised to change the voting system and institute democratic reform. It seems to be a bad habit of his. When he solemnly swears something, look out because he is about to flip-flop.

We have a new agency that is based on the old environmental assessment agency, but with more powers and a bigger role. It will be above certain commissions, like the National Energy Board, which will become a commission. That is a step in the right direction we had been waiting for, but we are still concerned about the fact that two organizations we have heard little about, which will exist alongside the new impact assessment agency of Canada, will be getting much more authority and a bigger role. I am referring to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

These two boards are separate, independent assessment committees that are responsible for assessing any drilling that may occur in marine environments, in the oceans, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, potentially, or off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. That troubles us, because the mission of these two boards is to promote offshore oil and gas development. Their job is not to protect the environment, the seabed, ecosystems, or endangered species. It is to promote oil and gas development off the coast of certain provinces.

This flies in the face of everything the government says about how much it cares about the environment and its claims that it is here to protect our oceans, our natural resources, and our ecosystems. In itself, that is a total contradiction. We in the NDP find this really troubling, and I doubt we are the only ones, judging by the spontaneous reaction of the Green Party leader, who is just behind me.

When you tell a story, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is not complicated. That is what kids learn in school. I want to talk about those three stages in the context of Bill C-69. In the beginning, a decision has to be made as to which projects will be submitted to the new agency for assessment, because all of this has to be good for something. If it is decided that the project will not be assessed because it is not worth it, everything in Bill C-69 and everything that was said about public consultations, indigenous consultations, and considering reports from climate change experts—all of that goes out the window.

As things now stand, and the minister confirmed it in her speech, Bill C-69 does not establish a list of projects. It also does not set out any clear, definitive, and verifiable criteria that would allow us to determine which projects require an environmental assessment. There is nothing about that at all.

From the start, there has been a very serious grey area. The agency can arbitrarily decide for itself what it considers to be important or unimportant.

It is all well and good to have a good process, which as we will see is not as good as all that, but if that process is never used, then it does not do anything more to protect us as Canadians, as people who are concerned about the environment, ecosystems, and global warming.

Take the following oddity, for example. The bill states that if the project is deemed to be a major project, it will fall under the responsibility of the new assessment agency. If it is deemed minor, then it can be reviewed by a commission, such as the National Energy Board. What is the difference between major and minor? There is nothing in the bill about that, so we do not know.

There are things like the steam-based oil sands development technology called “in situ”, which has been completely left out of the scope of the bill and any new environmental assessment. The government says it will not look at it even though it is an increasingly common technology that could have serious impacts. Those impacts could be relatively minor, but for the people living in the indigenous community or the town involved, it does not necessarily take a thousand-litre spill or a huge amount of pollution to jeopardize their health, pollute their environment, or cause a public health issue.

There is no clear explanation for why in situ bitumen extraction was excluded. Knowing what gets assessed and what does not is just the beginning. There are a lot of vague and arbitrary elements. There is very little clarity, and that is what worries us. That is the first problem.

The second problem is with the middle part, the public consultations, the dialogue with indigenous communities, and the appointment of review panels to do the scientific environmental assessment.

Consultations are another novelty of the Liberal process, and on that topic, assessment timeframes are being shortened. Depending on the size of the project, they will drop from 365 days to 300 days. That means that we will lose 65 assessment days. For major projects, the process will drop from 720 days to 600 days, for a loss of 120 days. This Liberal decision was taken in direct response to the demands from investors and private companies.

The decision worried many environmental, indigenous, and citizen groups. They do not understand, if we want a credible, serious process we can trust, why the government is adopting an attitude where it seems to want to expedite things as quickly as possible and satisfy the desires and needs of the industry first and foremost.

The Liberal government is also saying that first nations will have a greater role to play in the assessment process. Connect the dots to what I just said. If we greatly shorten the timeframes of a project and process, it is rather unlikely that there will be enough time to conduct extensive consultations with first nations. Again, they say one thing, but in fact there is a good chance that nothing will come of it or that the process will be flawed or absolutely incomplete.

That is what we know about the duration, the timeframe of the process.

The second aspect is the appointment of these experts we have been talking about to the panels that will carry out these ostensibly scientific, environmental impact assessments. There are many groups, including the Quebec Environmental Law Centre, that are concerned about the fact that the Liberal plan has no mechanisms to ensure that these will not be partisan appointments, that Liberals will not appoint their cronies, and that panel members will not be prone to making recommendations or a report that merely reflects what the government wanted from the start.

It is a simple process that is already in place in other jurisdictions. I am thinking of BAPE in Quebec, which is well regarded and credible, and has this type of mechanism. Here, we get the feeling that the Liberal government would allow the appointment of people who will not really care or who will listen to what the government says and wants.

It is really not that surprising. If I have time, I will come back to Kinder Morgan and the absolutely ridiculous purchase made recently.

While public consultations were being held on the Trans Mountain expansion, while first nations were being told that they were being listened to, that it was important, that they really wanted to hear their perspective, it became apparent that a decision had already been made. The government was already looking for excuses and reasons to legally say that the decision was made and that it would be approved.

Phony consultations were held very recently, and I believe that people should be concerned about the possibility of these partisan appointments to the expert panel.

After the beginning and the middle, we get to the end. Let us say the project has been assessed. Let us say the consultations lasted long enough and were sufficiently credible, although perhaps a bit limited. Let us say the experts really were independent, they did their job diligently, and they prepared a report with recommendations based on science, social licence, the impact on climate change, our ecosystems, and so on. After all that, it is completely up to the minister if he or she wants to dismiss all the recommendations of the impact assessment agency. All of that good work, even if it is perfect—and we already have some misgivings about that—could very well be taken and tossed into the trash, and the project could be deemed in the national interest and approved.

The national interest is being tossed around a lot these days. It can be made to mean pretty much anything. A majority government can simply declare something to be in the national interest since it knows that it can force it through the House either way, and everyone else will have to deal with it. I think it would be in the national interest to listen to experts, scientists, Canadians, and first nations. When the minister of the day has all of this discretionary power, the process can become arbitrary. Say that you like the current Liberal government, and that you trust its environment minister. That is fine, and I am sure there are people out there who feel that way, but once a bill passes, it will not change with every cabinet shuffle, with every federal election, or with every change in government. Things could turn pretty quickly under someone who has a different style or vision of development. I am really being very kind to the sitting minister, who has the instincts of an industry minister rather than those of an environment and climate change minister. Incidentally, anyone claiming to champion environmental protection and the fight against climate change should not go out and buy a 65-year-old pipeline that is already leaking everywhere.

I would like our Liberal colleagues to take out their 2015 electoral platform and show me the part where they told voters they wanted a pipeline so badly that they were prepared to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to buy one if necessary and that Canadians would have to assume all the risks associated with such a project. Let us be clear, Kinder Morgan deemed the project was too high risk. The current Prime Minister even acknowledged that no private company wanted to take on these risks because legal challenges have been filed by British Columbia and many of its first nations.

There are difficulties and challenges with respect to our international commitments under the Paris Agreement and our greenhouse gas reduction targets. The project simply does not make sense. We will be spending at least $12 billion on infrastructure that might be worthless in 25 or 30 years. On top of taking a huge financial hit, we will have invested in the energy source and jobs of the past, when we could have been investing in renewable energy. Those types of investments create six to eight times more jobs. The Prime Minister would have become a leader with a vision for the environment and for sustainable development. Sadly, that will never happen.