An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Sponsor

Status

Third reading (House), as of June 12, 2018

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Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Energy Regulator Act, among other things,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2 also repeals the National Energy Board Act.

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

(a) rename it the Canadian Navigable Waters Act;

(b) provide a comprehensive definition of navigable water;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere

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

Votes

June 11, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 6, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
March 19, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
March 19, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
Feb. 27, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 11:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to follow up on the question posed by my colleague, and it has to do with UNDRIP, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Implicit in that is free, prior, and informed consent. That is an element that we in the Conservative Party have some serious concerns about because of the possibility of it being interpreted as being an absolute veto right.

However, in the last election, the Prime Minister made it very clear that he would incorporate UNDRIP into all legislation in Canada. In fact, earlier this year, there was a vote in the House on Bill C-262, a bill from the NDP, which agreed that UNDRIP would be incorporated into all government legislation.

At the amendment stage of Bill C-69, the NDP and the Green Party brought forward 25 different amendments asking the Liberal government to incorporate UNDRIP in the legislation, as it promised during the election campaign. On 25 different occasions, the Liberal government and the Liberal members of that committee voted no. They opposed the inclusion of UNDRIP.

Why would Liberal members of the committee vote against UNDRIP 25 times, when the Liberal government made such a clear commitment to incorporate it?

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I have looked up the mandate letter the Minister of Natural Resources received, dated November 12. It says that in relation to environmental assessment and working with the environment minister, he is to “restore robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments of areas under federal jurisdiction”.

I want to highlight that part, “federal jurisdiction”, because the expert panel the government mandated to look into environmental assessment, at a cost of over $1 million, came back with the clear advice that federal jurisdiction include, “at a minimum, federal lands, federal funding and federal government as proponent, as well as: Species at risk; Fish; Marine plants; Migratory birds; Indigenous Peoples...; Greenhouse gas emissions”, and the list goes on.

However, the government chose to ignore the mandate letter, to ignore its campaign promises, and to deliver in Bill C-69 not reviews of environmental assessments for areas of federal jurisdiction but only for major projects, which will be found on a list we can see later. The government explicitly said it does not include federal funding. It explicitly said that this is not about federal jurisdiction, for instance, for permits issued by the Minister of Transport under the Navigation Protection Act or permits issued by the Minister of Fisheries. Therefore, the undoing, the wrecking of environment assessment law by the previous government, is being entrenched by the current government.

Why did the Minister of Natural Resources ignore his mandate letter?

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

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

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 8:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-68 following the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans' review and analysis of this bill.

We thank the committee members for their careful study of this legislation and their thoughtful amendments. During this review of Bill C-68, my colleagues in committee heard from many different witnesses and experts. I would like to take this time to talk about what they heard. I would also like to share the concrete steps proposed to make improvements and move forward with this legislation.

From the environmental NGO community and members across the aisle in the Green Party and the NDP, the committee heard about the importance of water flow for fish habitat. The government supported the associated amendments put forward in committee.

The committee also heard from industry groups seeking amendments to the rules proposed for the processing of applications for habitat authorization during the transition from the current to the new legislation. In response, the committee adopted the amendment to provide clearer transition provisions.

The committee also heard about strengthening the federal government's legal obligations when major fish stocks are in trouble. This is why the committee proposed the inclusion of requirements, under the legislation, that the minister sustainably manage or rebuild fish stocks that are prescribed in regulation. However, the legislation would require that when such cases arose, Canadians would be informed and provided with a rationale. Our aim is to sustainably manage fisheries resources for the long-term benefit of Canadians.

As members know, in 2012, the previous government decided to change habitat protection without the support of or consultation with indigenous peoples, fishers, scientists, conservation groups, coastal communities, and the Canadian public. In contrast, our government has worked with all Canadians and has encouraged everyone to be part of this process. The proposed amendments to Bill C-68 are part of our government's broader review of environmental and regulatory processes under Bill C-69, an act to enact the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, which was reviewed by the committee.

The Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development also adopted some important amendments, which have been reflected in Bill C-68. These include better protections for indigenous knowledge and clearer transition provisions that would ensure better business continuity.

The changes proposed in Bill C-68 would support several government priorities, such as partnering with indigenous peoples; supporting planning and integrated management; enhancing regulation and enforcement; improving partnership and collaboration; and, finally, monitoring and reporting back to Canadians. This is transparency.

This bill would include the reintroduction of the prohibition against the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat as well as the prohibition against causing the death of fish by means other than fishing. There are measures to allow for better management of large and small projects that may be harmful to fish and fish habitat through a new permitting scheme, for big projects, and codes of practice, for smaller ones.

The amendments would enable the regulatory authorities that would allow for establishing a list of designated projects, comprising works, undertakings, and activities for which a permit would always be required. We have been, and will continue to be, engaged with indigenous peoples, provinces and territories, stakeholders, and others to capture the right kinds of projects on the designated project list.

Habitat loss and degradation and changes to fish passage and water flow are all contributing to the decline of freshwater and marine fish habitat in Canada. It is imperative that Canada restore degraded fish habitat. That is why we proposed changes to the Fisheries Act that would include the consideration of restoration as part of project decision-making.

The bill is motivated by the need to restore the public's trust in government, which was lost following decisions made in 2012.

In order to re-establish the trust of Canadians in government, access to information on the government's activities related to the protection of fish and fish habitat, as well as protecting information and decisions, is essential. We listened and we proposed, through Bill C-68, measures to establish the public registry, which will enable transparency and access. This registry will allow Canadians to see whether the government is meeting its obligations and allow them to hold the government accountable for decision-making with regard to fish and fish habitat.

The addition of new purpose and consideration provisions will more clearly guide the responsibility of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard when making decisions and provide a framework for the proper management and control of fisheries, and for the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat, including by preventing pollution.

Fisheries' resources and aquatic habitats have important social, cultural, and economic significance for many indigenous peoples. Respect for the rights of the indigenous peoples of Canada, taking into account their unique interests and aspirations in fisheries-related economic opportunities and the protection of fish and fish habitat, is one way we are showing our commitment to renewing our relationship with indigenous peoples.

We listened to Canadians on the need for modern safeguards. That is why we have proposed changes to the Fisheries Act that provide a new fisheries management order power to establish targeted fisheries management measures for 45-day increments where there is a threat to the proper management and control of fisheries or to the conservation and protection of fish. This will help to address time-sensitive emerging issues when a fishery is under way and targeted measures are required.

Proposed changes to the Fisheries Act include a new ministerial authority to make regulations to establish long-term spatial restrictions to fishing activities under the act, specifically for the purpose of conserving and protecting marine biodiversity. This will support our international commitment to protect at least 10% of our marine and coastal areas by 2020. Proposed changes also include authority to make regulations respecting the rebuilding of fish stocks.

As I mentioned earlier, our government reached out to Canadians to help put the bill forward. We listened to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and provided direction for the restoration and recovery of fish habitat and stocks. We were pleased with the amendments of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans during its clause-by-clause review. We listened to environmental groups, and the committee proposed provisions aimed at implementing measures to promote the sustainability of the major fish stocks.

In addition, in keeping with modernizing the act in line with other federal environmental law, changes are being proposed to the Fisheries Act to authorize the use of alternative measures agreements.

Through Bill C-68, the Government of Canada is honouring its promise to Canadians. By restoring the lost protections and providing these modern safeguards, the government is delivering on its promise as set out in the mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the Minister of Fisheries.

Since introducing this bill, we have heard support from a broad range of Canadians for these amendments that will return Canada back to the forefront when speaking about fish for generations to come.

I urge all hon. members on both sides of the House to join me in supporting this bill, which is so important.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak tonight to Bill C-68, the new Fisheries Act. Although I grew up, and still live, far from the coast, my family has deep history in coastal fisheries. My mother's family, the Munns, once controlled the cod fishery of Labrador. My great uncle William Azariah Munn was what one might call a cod liver oil baron. Luckily, my mother hated the stuff so much that she did not force it on me and my siblings.

Getting back to the bill, the bill comes from a Liberal promise in the last election campaign when both the NDP and Liberals ran on platforms that included the repealing of Conservative legislation that gutted all of the environmental protections of federal legislation. We are very happy the Liberals have finally acted on this, although I am not sure why it took so long.

The bill would finally restore protection for all fish across Canada. When I say all fish, I would like to point out that under the previous Conservative legislation, all fish were not created equal. Only those fish that were part of a commercial or indigenous fishery were protected, and they were not protected as strongly as they were in the past. I am happy that some of our rarest and most vulnerable fish species, like the speckled dace of the Kettle River, are now protected in this manner once again.

In the past, the Fisheries Act was the strongest piece of legislation that actually protected habitat in Canada. As many here know, I was a biologist in my past life, and I spent a long time working on ecosystem recovery plans and species at risk. Time and again, my colleagues would point out that the only legislation, federal or provincial, that effectively protected habitat, was the Fisheries Act. As a biologist who worked on land, I was always a bit jealous of my fisheries colleagues since there was little or nothing that had the same power of protection for terrestrial habitats.

This habitat protection was at the core of earlier versions of the Fisheries Act. The Conservatives took this habitat protection out in 2012 through Bill C-38, one of their omnibus budget bills. This action resulted in a huge public outcry, and among the voices were four former fisheries ministers, including one of my constituents, Tom Siddon, a former Conservative fisheries minister. He wrote an open letter to the government, urging it to keep habitat protections in the act.

This new act is still deficient in a few ways regarding habitat. For instance, while it talks about the water in rivers and lakes as fish habitat, it does not discuss the amount of that water. That is clearly important. Increasingly, low water levels in our rivers and lakes are causing difficulties for fish. Many of our fish require good quantities of clean, cool water, and more and more often they are faced in late summer with low levels of warm water that can be lethal to fish, especially to salmonids.

This act also does not address the habitat conflict between wild salmon stocks and the practice of open-net salmon farms. We should be moving in an orderly fashion toward closed containment farms to isolate fish health issues caused by the farms that impact wild salmon stocks under the open-net regime.

Bill C-68 empowers the fisheries and oceans minister to make management orders prohibiting or limiting fishing to address a threat to the conservation and protection of fish. Of course, I am fully in favour of this power, but I wonder how often it would be used, despite the fact that it would likely be recommended on a regular basis by scientists.

Fish are consistently treated differently from terrestrial species in conservation actions. As an example, of all the fish species assessed as threatened or endangered in recent years by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, less than half have actually been placed on the Species at Risk Act schedules. If a terrestrial species is in trouble, it is generally added to the list as a matter of course. However, but if a fish is in trouble, it is out of luck. This attitude has to change.

As well, the bill would give a lot of discretion to the minister to make decisions based on opinion rather than on scientific evidence. This practice must be limited and only used in exceptional circumstances. I am always concerned when it is enshrined in legislation and seemingly encouraged, as it is here and in other recent legislation, such as Bill C-69 on environmental impact assessments.

I am happy there is a provision in this act to give the DFO more resources for enforcement. I hope some of those resources can be used to rebuild the DFO staff that used to be found throughout the British Columbia interior to promote fish habitat restoration and rebuilding fish stocks.

There are no DFO staff left at all in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions now, despite the fact that there are numerous aquatic stewardship societies across my riding that used to have a great relationship with DFO and its work, and which benefited from that work. Volunteer groups that are devoted to aquatic habitats on the Arrow Lakes, the Slocan Valley, Christina Lake, the Kettle River watershed, Osoyoos Lake, and Vaseux Lake would all benefit through a renewal of those staffing levels. They talk to me regularly about that, and that they miss that help.

I would like to close with a good-news story that shows what can happen when Canadians take fish conservation into their own hands, identify the problems and solutions, and then work hard to make good things happen. That story is the restoration of salmon populations in the Okanagan. This story involves many players and funding from the United States as well as Canada, but it is mainly a story of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, ONA, the first nations of the Okanagan, who came together to bring salmon back to the valley.

Salmon, or n’titxw, is one of the four food chiefs of the Okanagan peoples, and is central to their cultural and trade traditions. When I was a kid in the Okanagan, salmon were in very low numbers. The Okanagan is part of the Columbia system, and those fish had to climb over 11 dams to get back to the spawning grounds. Most of the Columbia River salmon runs died out, but a few sockeye came back to the Okanagan every year, though maybe a only a couple of thousand in some years. However, after years of work by the ONA and other groups, we often see runs of over 100,000 fish. The Okanagan River is once again red with sockeye in the autumn. The ONA has taken an ecosystem-collaborative restoration approach that combines cultural ceremonies and salmon feasts with technical restoration. They work collaboratively with provincial and federal authorities, and everyone in the region has benefited, with recreational fishery openings, an increase in licence revenues, and local salmon to the public. I enjoy the sockeye out of Osoyoos Lake every year now.

This approach has enabled the ONA to grow to one of the largest inland first nations fisheries organizations in Canada. It has 45 full-time staff, which is probably 10 times the staffing level of DFO in the interior of B.C. It has its own hatchery, biology lab, habitat restoration course, and courses that are even taken by DFO staff.

However, even though they have been working collaboratively with DFO, they have still identified some serious issues to me.

First, there is a need for a harvest sharing agreement between Canada and the U.S. There is no agreement in place to ensure minimum food fishery requirements for first nations, and there is no other place in the Pacific region where there is up to 150,000 salmon harvested between Canada and the U.S. that does not have such an agreement in place.

Second, ONA has asked for support for the Columbia River Treaty renewal and the importance of Canadian salmon. Okanagan salmon are the only Columbia River salmon returning to Canada, and they are directly affected by how Canada stores water in its treaty dams.

Third, it points out the need for support for ONA's salmon restoration in the upper Columbia, which is in the Kootenay region. There are no salmon there now. ONA submitted a proposal to DFO and asked the minister back in September 2017, but it has received no response.

Fourth, the ONA regrets to see the overall exclusion of first nations at the Columbia River Treaty table, which is something that is very important to them.

To conclude, we will be supporting Bill C-68, but there is clearly still a lot of work to be done to protect our fish and our fisheries.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2018 / 9:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, this is a very interesting discussion and there have been some good speeches this evening.

I will start by saying there are two pieces of federal legislation aimed at protecting the quality of Canada's fresh water. These laws implement Ottawa's clearly stated constitutional jurisdiction and responsibility in two specific areas: navigation and the fishery. I am speaking of the Navigation Protection Act, formerly the Navigable Waters Protection Act and soon to be renamed the Canadian navigable waters act by virtue of Bill C-69, which passed at report stage today and is on its way to passing at third reading. The second piece of legislation, of course, is the Fisheries Act. These two laws are really the basis of federal water policy. Often water policy comes more out of provincial jurisdiction, but the federal government has something to say about water policy, and it is through those two main pieces of legislation.

Navigation and fishing were key aspects of life at the time of Confederation and remain significant today in our diversified modern economy. This is no doubt the reason that jurisdiction for both navigation and the fishery were given to the central government, this plus the fact that, as Pierre Trudeau famously said, “Fish swim,” which means they cross provincial boundaries, as do marine vessels for that matter.

Based on the speeches I have heard here and on what I know to be the Conservative narrative, it is fair to say the Conservative opposition does not see these two laws broadly as environmental laws. This is despite the fact that both laws govern and protect the aquatic environments on which vessels traverse and in which fish live. The Navigation Protection Act and the Fisheries Act are part of a grouping of four federal laws that are the basis of federal environmental policy in Canada, a grouping that includes the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which is being renamed the impact assessment act under Bill C-69, and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which has just gone through its five-year legislative review at the environment committee under the very able stewardship of the member for King—Vaughan.

It was the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Fisheries Act that the Harper government targeted for revamping in order to restrict their scope and significance for the environment. The Harper government amended the Navigable Waters Protection Act twice, including at one point changing its name to the Navigation Protection Act. The first time it restricted the act's scope was in a 2009 omnibus budget bill, and the second time in a 2012 omnibus budget bill.

I know members find it hard to believe that the Conservative government would ever do that, but yes it did use omnibus budget bills and they were not necessarily encompassing only financial matters. The 2012 omnibus budget bill by the Conservative government removed broad Fisheries Act protections for all fish habitats, stipulating that the act would from then on only prohibit “serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery, or that support such a fishery”.

Incidentally, Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative government used the 2009 omnibus budget bill, if I am not mistaken, to also weaken the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which is why the government had to bring in Bill C-69 to strengthen environmental assessment in Canada and to regain the trust of Canadians regarding the federal government's commitment to protecting the environment.

I know the Conservatives are unhappy with government budget bills when they have too many pages, and call them omnibus bills, but there is no comparison—Madam Speaker, you will recall, you were in the House—to the blatant manner in which the previous government stretched the meaning of budget bill to effectively cover everything from banks to canoes and sailboats to trout, shellfish, and crustaceans. That is what the Liberal platform objected to: the Harper government's semantic elasticity with regard to the notion of a budget bill.

Bill C-68 rolls back the changes the Harper government made to the Fisheries Act. As has been mentioned by others, the bill protects all fish and fish habitat. The definition of “serious harm to fish” is also being removed.

Those carrying out projects would be generally responsible for avoiding harmful alteration, disruption, and destruction of fish habitat. However, when proponents are unable to completely avoid harm to fish, an authorization permit with conditions may be issued by the minister to allow a project to proceed without contravening the act. I wonder if the opposition is critical of this ministerial discretion, given its criticism of ministerial decision-making power in Bill C-69.

It is important to note the distinction in Bill C-68 between designated projects and routine projects. I have not heard that distinction mentioned on the other side. Designated projects would always require ministerial approval. These are of course expected to be large-scale projects. Currently, under the bill the previous Conservative government was responsible for, projects requiring authorization are determined on a case-by-case basis, which adds complexity and uncertainty for business.

As for routine smaller projects, published codes of practice would provide advice to proponents on how to avoid project impacts on fish or fish habitat. Although the regulations defining designated projects have not been created, I imagine irrigation canals or flood canals on farms would not be considered major, large-scale projects, like dams. I believe they would be considered routine projects, and farmers could just avail themselves of a guide of best practice and do the best job they possibly could. There is a bit of fearmongering on the other side about what the impact of the bill would be on farmers, who are indeed very much the backbone of a large part of the Canadian economy.

Laws are all well and good, but enforcement is always the key. The government will invest $384.2 million to ensure the capacity to enforce the Fisheries Act. Among other things, this money would go toward increasing the number of front-line fishery habitat officers.

Also worth mentioning, Bill C-68 would empower cabinet to make regulations for the rebuilding of fish stocks. It would also empower the minister to make regulations for the purposes of the conservation and protection of marine biodiversity. Again, I am curious to know whether the opposition objects to ministerial discretion in these cases.

Significantly, the bill requires that the government consider the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge when making decisions about fish habitats. This supports the government's priority on reconciliation with Canada's indigenous peoples.

Finally, Bill C-68 would ban the capturing of whales, dolphins, and porpoises for the purpose of keeping them in captivity. This should be welcomed by those who hold to the protection of marine wildlife. They are people like the beluga specialist, Dr. Pierre Béland, who is the world's most well-known expert on the beluga whale, and who was actually involved in an aqua-hacking conference in Toronto this past weekend. Aqua hacking is a process by which we look for solutions to problems, like pollution affecting our waterways.

Lastly, it is worth noting that extensive consultation was undertaken to arrive at the measures we are debating today. There have been two rounds of online public consultations, and over 100 meetings with partners, stakeholders, and indigenous groups. In 2016, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans asked the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to review the previous government's changes to the act. This review resulted in 32 recommendations, which helped shape Bill C-68. This is on top of all the debate that took place in 2012 around changes to the act undertaken within the context of a rather egregious so-called budget omnibus bill.

Report StageFisheries ActGovernment Orders

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

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise and speak on Bill C-68 tonight. The comment that was made earlier this evening from one of my colleagues across the floor was that he was happy that a member from the west coast or a coastal riding was getting up and speaking about this. I am not picking on him for any reason, but I think it highlights one of the issues we are having with this bill. There seems to be a lack of knowledge or scope when it comes to our friends in the Liberal government not understanding the ramifications and implications that the decisions they are making with this bill will have on every region of the country. That is why we are seeing many of the rural members of Parliament from the Conservative side getting up to speak to this bill, because it will have very real and profound consequences on our rural communities.

I want to back things up prior to 2012, when these changes to the Navigable Waters Act and the Fisheries Act were made by the previous Conservative government. I recall I was a journalist at that time in a small community newspaper throughout southern Alberta. I remember covering numerous council and town hall meetings hosted by rural municipalities that were having significant issues when when it came to dealing with culverts, small bridges, drainage ditches, seasonal waterways, and irrigation canals, and the hoops, bureaucracy, and red tape they had to go through to try to complete some of those projects.

Prior to 2012, municipalities had to go through labour-intensive regulatory requirements when it came to areas of what was then called “navigable waters”. They were forced to endure lengthy delays, because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was inundated with thousands of applications from municipalities that were waiting for it to come and make decisions on their projects, not to mention the length of those delays. It proved extremely costly to these municipalities that were having to endure these very long wait times. I would think many of us who have rural municipalities in our ridings understand that many of these municipalities are extremely small. They simply do not have the financial or staffing resources to be able to handle the workload and amount of paperwork that comes along with a Department of Fisheries and Oceans assessment. Therefore, our rural municipalities were coming to the previous Conservative government with these problems and issues with respect to managing their own lands. That is when the previous Conservative government came up with these changes to try to reduce some of that regulatory burden. We wanted to turn the focus to ensuring that the protections in that legislation focused on the most critical fish and fish habitat in navigable waters. At the same time, we wanted to take some of that regulatory burden off some of the waterways that probably never had fish habitat and would never have fish habitat, but were still under the same regime and regulatory layers of bureaucracy that any river, stream, ocean, or lake would come under, when we were just talking about drainage ditches and irrigation canals, for example.

When we talk about some of the changes that were made, I think we need to highlight that the act maintained a very strong regulatory regime and protected very important fish habitat, but it had more of a practical scope. It reduced that administrative burden on not only municipalities, but also the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It had now freed up a lot of its time and resources to focus on the most important cases and waterways without having to deal with very minor projects for municipalities. However, it also empowered municipalities to be the environmental stewards of their own waterways. When it comes to those types of projects and waterways, who would be better to be the stewards of those lands than the municipalities, the councils, and their staff, who are on the ground each and every day? They know the history. They have that local knowledge. They know whether it is fish habitat. They know if it is a seasonal waterway. Certainly, they know that better than a bureaucrat in Ottawa. Therefore, I think it was a win-win situation for the municipalities, as well as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Now we are faced with these changes in Bill C-68, which would expand the definition of fish habitat, expanding it even wider and more broad than it was prior to 2012. That is very disconcerting in the fact that it was burdensome and difficult to deal with and almost impossible to enforce prior to 2012. How difficult will this be when not only we restore it to the previous definition, but have even expanded that definition to a much wider scope. It has re-engaged a lot of those same regulations, but it also introduces something that is new, which is designated projects. This will include any projects within a category that could impact any waterway, whether it has a specific impact on a known fish habitat or not.

What is even more concerning for our stakeholders, municipalities, farmers, and ranchers is the fact that there is no definition on what a designated project is. This is really a larger narrative that we have seen from the Liberal government. It rushed through this legislation without doing all the homework and all the background work first so that it tabled a complete document that everyone could understand exactly where they stood. The legislation is very clear. The rules and regulations are very clear. There are still some very large holes in it with which stakeholders are very concerned.

The other issue, which is a large narrative with some of the Liberal legislation we have seen, is the minister would have more expanded and broader powers. This is very similar to what we have seen with Bill C-69.

We now have proponents in the energy sector that are divesting themselves of the energy sector because they do not feel there is a clear path to success. If they do apply for a project, whether it is pipeline, a mine, a forestry initiative, LNG, they could go through the regulatory process, through every environmental review, could pass all of those things, but at several steps during the process, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change would have the authority to step in and tell them to go back to the beginning. The minister could cut it off right there and tell them the project was not in the public interest or it was not something that could be supported. That would be the end of that project.

There is no clear definition of how to reach success or if there is a definitive pathway that people would know their projects would not succeed. We cannot have those types of projects at the whim of one person. That is very similar to what we see in Bill C-68 where the minister would have similar powers.

This is a crippling burden for municipalities that do not have the resources or the infrastructure to deal with these things. Imagine the burden and the impact it will have on farmers and ranchers who absolutely do not have the wherewithal to handle some of these issues.

Prior to 2012, a farmer in northern Alberta explained to me that he had a spring run-off area that went through his field. He would put a couple of 2x4s down during the spring so he could drive his machinery over it when he sprayed or seeded. However, Fisheries and Oceans came to him before 2012 and said that it was a waterway because it could float a canoe or a kayak. Certainly it could for about two weeks in the spring, but the rest of the time it was dry. He had to build a bridge over that seasonal spring runoff area. We are not talking about a river for the last pirate of Saskatchewan to float down the plain. This was simply a spring run-off. He was very concerned that he would have to go back to this. This will very burdensome to him.

Again, this goes back to the narrative that the Liberal government implements knee-jerk legislation, without doing the due diligence, without having an idea of what the ramifications will be and the unintended consequences, or doing the economic impact analysis of these decisions and what they will have on other sectors.

This is again another attack on rural Canadians. It is not science-based, front of package labelling, food guide, carbon tax. These changes will impact our rural communities, farmers, and ranchers who are struggling just to stay in business. Now there is a potential trade war with the United States.

For farmers and ranchers in rural municipalities, their livelihoods depend on healthy waterways, lakes, rivers, streams, aquifers. No one would take better care of these waterways than those who are on the ground, rural Canadians, farmers, and ranchers.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

June 7th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will continue with the report stage debate on Bill C-69, the environmental assessment act.

Following this, we will turn to Bill C-75, the justice modernization act, and Bill C-59, the national security act.

If time permits, we shall start debate at report stage of Bill C-68, the fisheries act, and Bill C-64 on derelict vessels.

Tomorrow morning, we will begin third reading of Bill C-47 on the Arms Trade Treaty. Next Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday are allotted days. Also, pursuant to the Standing Orders, we will be voting on the main estimates Thursday evening.

Next week, priority will be given to the following bills: Bill C-21, an act to amend the Customs Act; Bill C-59, an act respecting national security matters; Bill C-64, the wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels act; Bill C-68 on fisheries; and Bill C-69 on environmental assessments.

We also know, however, that the other place should soon be voting on Bill C-45, the cannabis act. If a message is received notifying us of amendments, that will be given priority.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise again today to finish my remarks. I started them at five minutes to midnight last night, so I am glad that I have this opportunity to continue.

I want to remind my colleagues that Kinder Morgan never asked for a single dollar of taxpayers' money. It asked the government to provide certainty that its pipeline could be built. Even though the Liberals approved the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, they sat on their hands and did not champion it. Kinder Morgan was not given the certainty it had asked for. Instead, it got delay after delay. That failure led to the nationalization of the pipeline, and as I have said, it has come at a significant cost to Canadian taxpayers.

Of the bailout, Aaron Wudrick, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said it is “both a colossal failure of the [Prime Minister's] government to enforce the law of the land, and a massive, unnecessary financial burden on Canadian taxpayers.”

Pipeline projects can be built without taxpayer money. The former Conservative government approved 4,500 kilometres of new pipeline through four major pipeline projects.

The role of the government should be to ensure that projects that are scientifically determined to be safe for the environment, and in the interests of Canadians, receive approval. Through low taxes and a clear and less burdensome regulatory system, the government could achieve some success. More than halfway through their mandate, the Liberals have not learned that lesson. That is why Trans Canada pulled out of the energy east pipeline project.

That was not the only energy sector loss. The Liberals' poor management of our energy sector has chased away over $80 billion of investment. As I am sure every member in this place will remember, just recently the Liberal government passed the oil tanker moratorium act through the House. This legislation, when enacted, will prevent an entire region from accessing economic opportunities in the oil and gas sector.

Chris Bloomer, president and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, said, “Projects require clarity and predictability, and once approved should not be subject to costly delay tactics that thwart Canada's economic and social prosperity.” It is really quite a simple ask from Canada's energy industry. It wants to know the rules, know that they are fair, and know that they will not change erratically.

Bill C-69 would not provide that assurance to those working in the energy sector. First, it would provide a slew of ministerial and Governor in Council exemptions that could be used to slow down the approval process. It would also add a planning phase to the process, a brand new process that would be an added 180 days.

The legislation we have in front of us does not provide me with any measure of confidence that it would decrease project timelines or improve certainty for investors. Rather, it would do just the opposite. This legislation would not make investment in Canada more appealing. Rather, it would make it more complicated and more uncertain.

Bill C-69 proposes increased consultation and would expand the criteria to be considered in the assessment of a project. It would seek social license, but it would not increase scientific analysis of the project.

Let us not forget the fact that the minister would have a veto right at the end of the planning phase. This would certainly not instill confidence in investors. It would tell potential investors that decisions on the approval of a project could be decided on a political whim.

We have to also remember that this is happening while the United States is cutting regulations and lowering its taxes. Canada has lost significant business investment. We cannot afford the cost of increased regulation and increased uncertainty. This legislation would not strike the appropriate balance between protecting the environment and growing our economy.

This legislation, like the Liberal government's policies, is flawed. It would propose new regulatory burdens that, when combined with other measures the Liberals have introduced, such as the carbon tax, would drive investment away from Canada.

If Canada wants to compete globally, we need to lower taxes and streamline the regulation system. We need a government that works with Canadians and not against them.

Bill C-69 would result in a loss of jobs, a loss of economic growth, and a loss in global competitiveness. I cannot support the Liberal government's continued efforts to undermine Canada's long-term prosperity.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 3:25 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, we are debating Bill C-69, which is an omnibus bill that affects the new Canadian energy regulator, which was the National Energy Board; the Impact Assessment Act, which was the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act; and the navigable waters act. Having practised environmental law for most of my life, I do not suppose she will believe me when I tell her, but I will try to tell her, that this bill is incredibly weak and does nothing to make development more difficult. It cannot possibly drive away investors unless they only want to put their money in countries where environmental assessment meets the minimum standards of rigour that Canada used to have between the early 1970s and 2012.

I do not suppose she is reassured, but I am voting against Bill C-69 because it is absolutely weak. I wonder if she has read it in detail and recognizes that it keeps in place most of what the previous government had done.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak 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. My remarks this afternoon will focus on part 3 of this misguided bill.

Part 3 is the section of the bill that makes amendments to the Navigation Protection Act. This section of the bill continues the Prime Minister and the Liberals' assault on common sense laws and regulations that promote jobs and economic growth. The only people calling for the changes proposed in the bill are those opposed to resource projects that create economic development and jobs. They are representatives of the same people who have been protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline, the pipeline the Liberals recently purchased for $4.5 billion in taxpayers' money.

It is rather ironic that the Liberals are burning the bridge, so to speak, with the very voter pool they had hoped to pacify with the bill.

Bill C-69 proposes to change the name of the Navigation Protection Act to the Canadian navigable waters act. While seemingly cosmetic, this change reflects a substantial refocusing of the act on the protection of waters rather than the protection of navigation.

Canada is a large country, the second largest in the world. In the 1800s, waterways were often the primary means of transporting goods across our vast geography. The legislative forerunners of the Navigation Protection Act were designed to protect the navigability of waterways for the sake of our economy.

With the advent of Canada's rail and road systems, as well as our transportation system, Canada's transportation system has become less reliant on water navigation. However, that said, waterways remain an important element of our transportation system in many regions of the country.

As I said a moment ago, the changes in Bill C-69, including changing the act's name, demonstrate the Liberals' complete disregard for the original intent of the Navigation Protection Act, and instead reflect their misguided attempt to virtue signal in order to obtain the obscure idea of social licence. Without definition or boundaries, social licence is no more real than a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

The Liberals' fixation on this abstract idea is costing Canadians dearly. Again, just consider the $4.5 billion, and counting, that the Liberals have spent to buy the old Trans Mountain pipeline. Now consider the substantial changes to the Navigation Protection Act contained within this bill.

The current Navigation Protection Act includes a schedule of waters to which the act applies. This schedule was created by the previous Conservative government because we realized that not every seasonal creek, tiny river, or stream was used for the purpose of commercial navigation. We also realized that these seasonal creeks or tiny rivers were already protected by other environmental legislation and that when economic development was planned on or near them, it was duplicative and redundant to make these projects subject to the NPA when in fact these small bodies of water were not used for navigation.

Our changes were strongly supported by a broad range of stakeholders and organizations across Canada. They ranged from the construction industry, to the resource development industry, to municipalities and their associations. These organizations recognized that Canada needed prudent, careful environmental laws and regulations, but not duplicative ones. They realized that applying the NPA to projects where navigation was not a consideration was a waste of time and money and led to increased project costs.

On this point, the opposition by municipal organizations and the construction industry was highlighted to parliamentarians at the Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities when we undertook a study in 2016 of the former Conservative government's changes to the NPA. The genesis of that study by the committee was very interesting and should be noted.

What prompted the committee's study of the NPA was twofold. First, I believe there was a misguided eagerness on the part of Liberal and NDP MPs to do the bidding of the Prime Minister, rather than focusing on the real issues, which would have had a more meaningful and positive impact on Canadians and our economy. The committee's study of the NPA was a case of the legislative branch taking its marching orders from the executive branch.

Second, and connected to my first point, the transport, infrastructure and communities committee undertook the study of the NPA as a result of an inadvisable letter from the Minister of Transport, co-authored by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, which was sent to the chair of the transportation committee. In this letter, the Minister of Transport, in effect, directed the committee to undertake this study to provide political cover for introducing changes to the previous Conservative government's legislation. Add to that the fact that the instructions contained within the Minister of Transport's ministerial mandate letter directed him to reverse the changes that were made when the NPA became law.

By directing the committee to undertake the study, the minister was foisting upon a parliamentary committee an instruction that he, himself, had been given. It is no wonder, then, that the conclusions of the committee study were pre-determined. To this day, I find this invasion by the executive branch into the workings of a committee of the legislative body to be a very egregious act on the part of the Minister of Transport and this Prime Minister.

Getting back to Bill C-69 and the new provisions it contains, if passed, the bill will maintain the schedule of waters to be covered by the bill, but it will change the rules and regulations for any work on any navigable water listed in the schedule. Additionally, the bill will create new rules and regulations that will apply to all navigable waters, not just those listed in the schedule.

When I say “navigable water”, it is important to note that this term is code for any body of water or seasonal stream that can float a petroleum-produced canoe or kayak. These new rules include providing an opportunity for the public to express concerns over a work's impact on navigation.

While noble in concept, we all know that this new provision has the potential to be abused by individuals and organizations ideologically opposed to certain projects. This bill is about undoing the good work of our previous Conservative government for spite, rather than implementing policy for the good of the country.

In conclusion, I believe that Bill C-69 is a bad bill and completely unnecessary. While I have only touched on a small part of this bill, I know that its other elements, which my colleague, the member for Abbotsford and others have articulated, will have an equally damaging effect on the Canadian economy and the investment environment in Canada as a whole. This damaging bill is just another piece of bad policy that is causing investment and job creators to look at other countries and/or leave Canada.

It is my sincere hope that the Liberals will reconsider what they are doing to Canada's economy and reputation with misguided pieces of legislation like this one.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 3:40 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I heard my friend's comments loud and clear with respect to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Canada had the legislation since 1867, originally under our first prime minister. It remained virtually unchanged until the very significant changes in 2012.

My friend and I will disagree. The omnibus budget bill, Bill C-45 in the fall of 2012, really did damage to our ability to protect navigable waters across Canada. This version in Bill C-69 represents a real improvement. The tragedy is that although the Minister of Transport has done a really good job in repairing that damage, because the impact assessment law does not create a requirement for a review of permits being given by the Minister of Transport, the whole system remains rather shattered, as it was by the budget bill and Bill C-38.

Has she looked at the definition and not recognized that this new definition in Bill C-69 does in fact take into account that waterways that can be used only part of the year and are not actually used for human navigation will not trigger any governmental involvement in navigable waters?

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have heard from many farmers and ranchers in rural Canada about the changes in Bill C-69 and the impact they will have, especially when it comes to working on their own land. When they are working in spring runoff areas, little waterways and ditches, they will be forced to work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, even if someone cannot even get a raft or a balloon down that waterway. They are going to be treated like the last pirate of Saskatchewan is going to be sailing down the plain in his ship. It is going to cause a lot of burden and red tape for these farmers when they are trying to produce food and work on their land.

Could my colleague talk about the impact the changes in Bill C-69 will have on the agriculture sector?

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have this opportunity to join the debate on Bill C-69. It is an opportunity that unfortunately many colleagues in the House will not be able to have. We are currently debating it under time allocation, so we have a limit of five hours to debate it.

I want to walk the House through a little history lesson.

If we go back to the 2015 election, the Liberals, particularly the Prime Minister, made a lot of promises during that campaign. One of them was a repeated promise that if the Liberals were elected, they would immediately restore a strengthened federal environmental assessment process. They made a commitment that they would not approve any projects without first enacting that strengthened assessment process to ensure decisions were based on science, facts, and evidence, and that they would serve the public interest.

In fact, the Prime Minister made a visit to British Columbia. He came to Vancouver Island to the community of Esquimalt on August 20, 2015. People will know Esquimalt, because that is the home of the main Pacific naval base for Canada. He was asked specifically about the promise in the context of Kinder Morgan. He said, quite clearly, that the Kinder Morgan pipeline review process would have to be redone under stronger and more credible rules.

However, what we have before us today, with Bill C-69, is a gargantuan bill, clocking in at 364 pages. It is too little too late, because we are now debating a bill after the government has approved Kinder Morgan and after it has announced the purchase of the pipeline.

The bill comes to us roughly 28 months since the Liberals were elected. I have heard other members of Parliament express in this place that the bill should have gone to three separate committees. It should have gone to the transport committee, the natural resources committee, and the environment committee so each of those collective bodies, with the experience and knowledge that members attain while working on them, could have studied the constituent parts and called forth the appropriate witnesses.

Instead, one committee was entrusted to this monumental task, this herculean task. I know the efforts of the member for Edmonton Strathcona in listening to the evidence and in trying to put forward amendments to see that the bill lived up to the promises the Liberal government had made. Unfortunately, due to the time constraints and the Liberal members on the committee not really listening to her, most of those amendments were defeated, and here we are at the report stage of the bill.

I also want to go back to the time before Bill C-69 was introduced. The Liberals keep on saying that Kinder Morgan did go through a renewed review process. Well, let us just examine what they in fact set up.

The Liberals had set up what was known as a “ministerial review panel”. In fact, that panel admitted that it lacked the time, the technical expertise, and the resources to fill the gaps in the National Energy Board process. It ended up with little more than questions that remained unanswered. They kept no public records of hearings, admitted that the meetings were hastily organized, and confirmed that they had a serious lack of public confidence in the National Energy Board and its recommendations.

I attended one of those meetings when it came to Victoria. I remember the room unanimously coming out against Kinder Morgan. It was kind of a slapdash piece of work.

Despite all of the setbacks of the ministerial review panel, its members still came out and acknowledged that Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline proposals could not proceed without a serious reassessment of its impacts on climate change commitments, indigenous rights, and marine mammal safety. Therefore, they, in a sense, were acknowledging the huge problems that existed with this project.

The Liberals keep on openly wondering why there is such passionate opposition to this project, specifically in British Columbia where the risks are very much concentrated. It is because people did not have faith in the previous process. Many of them were lured to vote Liberal. They had hoped that the new Liberal government would actually live up to its promises.

Instead what they got was a ministerial review panel, judgment passed by the Liberal government before the facts, and now this bill, Bill C-69, which still has many problematic elements. One of the big ones is that the Minister of Environment will still have an arbitrary right to monitor environmental projects. It leaves them open to political influences instead of scientific evidence.

Governments come and go. We may have an environment minister in one government whom the public can trust and know that the person's heart is in the right place, but if a new government comes in that has completely different leanings and gives that kind of power to ministers, it can sway its decisions according to which way the political winds blow. That is not the way to enact strong, scientific, consensus-based decision-making.

I want to start framing this debate a bit more in the context of Kinder Morgan and the very fact that the government has made promises to get rid of subsidies to the oil and gas sector, that we are now last in the G7, and that the government has tried to strive to a 2025 goal.

The Liberals have paid $4.5 billion for a 65-year-old pipeline, one that exports diluted bitumen, and this is just the cost of the existing infrastructure and not of anything that will come from it. I hear members from all sides talking about a national energy strategy, but this pipeline serves foreign interests. It is not accumulating the best value for our product.

Diluted bitumen is the lowest grade of crude we can export. That is why it fetches the lowest prices. Expanding Kinder Morgan's capacity will not change the price. I see no incentive and I have seen no evidence that customers will be willing to pay more for the same product just because we can ship more volume. The existing pipeline exports 99% of it to California, so I would like to see evidence of all the buyers from Asia lining up at the door. They are currently not buying what Kinder Morgan is exporting today.

The Liberals like to use a favourite phrase that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. There are a few things that are wrong with this. It supposes that the environment and the economy are equal partners. That is not the case. I would argue that there is a relationship, but the economy is very much the junior partner. When we start affecting our environment, when we start polluting the waterways, and we see the effects of climate change, the economic ravages that can have far outweigh any of the benefits we can get.

There are economic opportunities in keeping in line with our environmental goals if we start to make the right investments into renewable energy. We have to see the way the world is going. This is 2018, and there is a trend. I want our country to take advantage of the economic opportunities of the 21st century economy, not invest in something that rightfully belongs in the 20th century.

Along the way, we have to be speaking to current energy workers. We have to ensure they come along with us. Everyone acknowledges that the oil sands will not stop production tomorrow, but we need to have a plan where we talk about the just transition of those workers to bring them with us into the new energy economy, so Canada is best placed for the 21st century.

I also want to talk about the Liberals' vote for Bill C-262 last week and how little those commitments mean this week.

The member for Edmonton Strathcona tried repeatedly, both at committee and now at report stage, to insert language into Bill C-69 that would live up to what Bill C-262 would do. Bill C-262 seeks to bring the laws of Canada into harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. If we look at all the report stage motions, we can see that the member for Edmonton Strathcona has tried to insert language in there that acknowledges the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and acknowledges the Constitution Act, 1982 and all of our commitments. I have been questioning Liberals repeatedly on this. Will they at least have some consistency and vote in support of those amendments, following their support for Bill C-262?

This bill is too little too late. There are gaps in it that we could drive a bus through. While we appreciate some elements of the bill, we have to look at the whole thing.

When it is this large, there are just far too many negatives. They outweigh the positives. That is why the NDP is going to withhold its support for the bill. We were hoping for a lot more, and frankly, so were the Canadian people.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have great respect for my colleague. We work very well together on the agriculture committee. He touched on something when he pointed out that although we are talking about Bill C-69, this really is about a larger narrative.

The government is making making significant decisions that will impact almost every aspect of our economy, whether it is energy, farming, ranching, or small business. As we have seen over the last few days, and certainly over the last couple of weeks, the Liberals are trying to ram these decisions through with little to no consultation either from members or from Canadians who are going to be impacted by this decision.

I would like my colleague to talk about some of the things he is hearing in his constituency about the impact, or about the frustration from his residents as a result of the decisions being made by the Liberal government with no consultation with Canadians.