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

Sponsor

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of June 20, 2018

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Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Canadian Energy Regulator Act, among other things,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2 also repeals the National Energy Board Act.

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

(a) rename it the Canadian Navigable Waters Act;

(b) provide a comprehensive definition of navigable water;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere

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

Votes

June 20, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
June 20, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
June 19, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (previous question)
June 11, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
June 6, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
March 19, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
March 19, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
Feb. 27, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Bill C-69—Time Allocation MotionImpact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 7:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned at committee yesterday, unsurprisingly the Conservatives are once again engaging in delay tactics by moving to delete every single clause of the act with not one substantive amendment. This has happened every step of the way, including at second reading. At committee, the opposition repeatedly refused additional meetings within the timeline established, and Conservative MPs delayed consideration of clause-by-clause.

Despite these actions, our government will ensure that we restore public trust, that we protect the environment, that we introduce modern safeguards, that we advance reconciliation with indigenous peoples and, of course, that we ensure that good projects go ahead and we get our resources to market. That is why we are taking appropriate steps to ensure that Bill C-69 moves forward.

Bill C-69—Time Allocation MotionImpact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 7:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my parliamentary secretary for all the hard work he has done in rebuilding public trust and restoring transparency.

The amendments and Bill C-69 would provide additional clarity and safeguards so that Canadians can have confidence in reviews of major projects. When we look at transparency, the bill requires assessment reports to incorporate a broader range of information, including a summary of comments received, recommendations on mitigation measures and follow-up, and the agency's rationale and conclusions. It requires that public comments provided during a project's reviews be made available online and that the information posted online be maintained so that it can be accessed over time. It is critically important that Canadians have an opportunity to provide input, that they have an opportunity to see what folks have said about environmental assessment, and that people understand how a decision was made.

Bill C-69—Time Allocation MotionImpact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 7:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was really pleased that the committee had time to do a thorough review of Bill C-69 and to make many thoughtful amendments. There were more than 80 witnesses and more than 100 submissions over a two-month review, and the quality of the amendments actually speaks to the rigour with which they were received. I am proud to say that our government supports the amendments.

We believe that this process is better for farmers. We believe the process is better for industry. We believe the process is better for indigenous peoples. We believe the process is better for folks who believe in science and making decisions based on evidence and facts. We believe, overall, that it will be a better process that will not only rebuild trust, but also ensure that good projects go ahead in a timely way.

Bill C-69—Time Allocation MotionImpact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 7:35 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the minister's recollection, I want to read a summary from Bill C-262, an act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Notice that it does not say anything about a preamble.

The minister previously mentioned that the Liberals accepted an amendment to the preamble, which, as every member in the House knows, is non-binding. I again ask the Minister of Environment, given that the Liberals rejected every single amendment by the member for Edmonton Strathcona at committee to make sure that Bill C-69 would be in harmony with UNDRIP, will she revisit her position and at least be consistent with her vote last week and accept the member for Edmonton Strathcona's amendments to Bill C-69? I am talking about the bill before us now. Will she be consistent? Will all of the Liberals be consistent with the way they voted last week?

The first nations of Canada are watching the government.

Bill C-69—Time Allocation MotionImpact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 7:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased the member opposite cares so greatly about climate change. It is really unfortunate that the Conservative members of the environment committee voted to remove the consideration of the impact to our climate from Bill C-69. That might have been an oversight or a mistake. However, we know that unfortunately the Conservatives do not have a plan to tackle climate change. I do not know whether they all believe climate change is a problem or real. Nor do I think they understand the huge economic opportunity.

We understand that. We understand we need to be ensure we do right by our planet, that we tackle our emissions, but that we also have a plan to get our resources to market in a sustainable way. That is exactly what we are doing with Bill C-69. We certainly hope all parties will support it.

Bill C-59—Time Allocation MotionNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 8:35 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, from the 41st Parliament, we have reams of quotes from Liberals regarding the use of time allocation by the then Conservative government. The quotes we have from the member for Winnipeg North would fill several pages.

What we have seen over the last couple of weeks is the government's use of time allocation and using the bare minimum, allocating five hours for debate on this legislation, on Bill C-69, which was done just before this, on Bill C-75, and on Bill C-76. The list goes on.

I have a simple question for the Minister of Public Safety. Given his party's record when it was the third party in the 41st Parliament, does he not feel the slightest bit of shame and contrition over the complete reversal of his position, now that he occupies that side of the House?

Bill C-59—Time Allocation MotionNational Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 8:40 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I was unable to rise earlier tonight on time allocation on Bill C-69, I will say, parenthetically, that I find that time allocation even more offensive than this one, because we were time allocated in committee as well. I had clause-by-clause amendments on Bill C-69, and I had clause-by-clause amendments on Bill C-59. At least, to the credit of the Bill C-59 time management, we were allowed to debate all the amendments on Bill C-59, on public security, but we were stopped from debating two full bills' worth of amendments on omnibus Bill C-69.

Why is it required at this point, on a bill that has much that is good in it, to stop this place from being able to have a full debate? It is anti-democratic.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 9:40 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak tonight in support of Bill C-69. Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Anishinaabe peoples.

This bill provides the framework for a modern assessment process that would protect the environment, attract investment, and ensure that good projects go ahead in a timely way to create new jobs and economic opportunities.

Today, I am going to focus specifically on how it supports our government's commitment to reconciliation and a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples. Meeting this commitment is challenging, but it is also necessary. I will discuss how Bill C-69 would advance reconciliation and partnership with indigenous peoples. I will also describe what the government has heard from indigenous peoples in recent months, and how their input has helped strengthen this bill.

From the very beginning, our government has been clear that no relationship is more important to Canada than its relationship with its indigenous peoples. We committed to a renewed relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership as the foundation for transformative change, and we have taken important steps to fulfill that commitment.

In 2016, Canada announced its full support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without qualification, with a commitment to its full and effective implementation. This February, the Prime Minister announced that we will work in partnership with indigenous peoples to develop a new recognition and implementation of rights framework to realign the relationship between the Government of Canada and indigenous peoples based on the UN declaration.

Development of the framework builds on steps we have already taken along this path. That includes launching a review of laws and policies to ensure that the crown is meeting its constitutional obligations with respect to aboriginal and treaty rights, guided by 10 principles rooted in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, guided by the UN declaration, and informed by the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.

We have begun to make institutional changes to support the renewed relationship. In particular, we have announced the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the creation of two new departments: Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. This will accelerate work already begun to renew the relationship with indigenous peoples and better enable them to build capacity that supports the implementation of their vision of self-determination.

We have announced our support for Bill C-262, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples act, as a strong first step in the process of implementation. More legislation will be needed in order to fully implement the declaration in Canada. Our government has also made historic investments in indigenous education, health, infrastructure, and communities, including to improve primary and secondary education on reserve, improve health facilities, build housing, and ensure access to clean and safe drinking water.

Finally, recognizing that indigenous peoples have long been stewards of the environment and have knowledge of the land that spans generations, we continue to work closely with them as we take action to protect and enhance Canada's environment and respond to the threat of climate change.

Meaningful participation of indigenous peoples informed the development of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, and our government is working in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council to implement it. Given the indigenous coastal communities' deep ties to Canada's oceans, we are partnering with them to implement our $1.5-billion oceans protection plan, for example in developing training programs to increase the participation of indigenous community members and women in marine safety jobs.

Finally, the bill before us today is built on a foundation of engagement with indigenous peoples, along with industry, stakeholders, and a broad range of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

This bill is an important step, which would advance reconciliation and produce better project decisions by recognizing indigenous rights and working in partnership from the start. It would make it mandatory to consider indigenous knowledge alongside science and other evidence, including when the assessment is led by another jurisdiction.

Under the new impact assessment act, indigenous jurisdictions would also have more opportunities to exercise powers and duties, including taking the lead on impact assessments through substitution. Through measures such as the new early planning and engagement phase, the bill would ensure that indigenous peoples have opportunities to participate from the very beginning and throughout the assessment process.

Finally, it would place consideration of impacts on indigenous peoples and their rights at the centre of the decision-making process by including this as one of the key factors that must be taken into account when making a decision following an impact assessment.

Going forward, we are committed to working with indigenous peoples to define processes aimed at securing consent and collaborating with them as we develop regulations under this legislation.

Since the introduction of Bill C-69, our government has continued to engage with indigenous peoples at every opportunity. The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development also heard testimony from a number of indigenous peoples and organizations during the study of the bill. In response to that testimony, the committee made several key amendments that enhanced the bill's potential to advance reconciliation and a renewed relationship.

Indigenous peoples have said that it is important that the bill fully reflect our government's commitment to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Through amendments, the standing committee has ensured this commitment is at the forefront of the bill and will guide its implementation.

The bill now references the UN declaration in the preamble to both the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act. The purposes clause of the IAA now specifies that the government, the minister, the agency, and federal authorities will need to exercise their powers in a manner that respects the government's commitments with respect to the rights of indigenous peoples. Similarly, the mandate of the Canadian energy regulator would include exercising its powers in performing its duties and functions in the same way.

We have heard about the importance of taking a distinctions-based approach, one of the 10 key principles guiding our review of laws and policies. This is needed to ensure that the unique rights, interests, and circumstances of first nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples are acknowledged, affirmed, and implemented. In response to this feedback, the committee has amended the bill to ensure that membership of key committees under the legislation reflect a distinctions-based approach.

Indigenous peoples have told us that considering indigenous knowledge in impact assessments is critical. At the same time, they have called for better protection of this knowledge. The standing committee's amendments would strengthen both its use and protection of indigenous knowledge.

The bill would now require that assessment reports clearly show how indigenous knowledge has been taken into account. It also provides more safeguards across all acts to ensure appropriate protection for indigenous knowledge, while also recognizing that proponents may, at times, need to have access to it. Consultation would be required before indigenous knowledge could be disclosed, and ministers would then be able to place conditions on the disclosure of this information in light of those consultations.

In line with feedback from indigenous organizations, the committee has also clarified that indigenous knowledge would be considered, that this would not be limited to “traditional” knowledge of indigenous peoples.

Finally, throughout the bill, the committee has taken steps to further emphasize the commitment to meaningful participation in assessment processes for indigenous peoples as well as the public.

I am pleased to see that many of the amendments made by the standing committee directly respond to issues raised by indigenous peoples and will further ensure the bill can support reconciliation.

As I have described, our government is committed to advancing reconciliation and a renewed relationship in all of our actions, including this bill.

I want to recognize the contributions made to Bill C-69 by indigenous peoples and organizations across Canada. It is truly a privilege to work with indigenous peoples and to hear their perspectives and priorities. Our government looks forward to working collaboratively with indigenous peoples to implement the legislation.

I would once again like to recognize the committee for listening and responding to the testimony of indigenous peoples and organizations. This is a challenging process but, ultimately, a rewarding one as we work together to protect the environment, create economic opportunities, and advance reconciliation.

On a personal note, I would like to mention that I am a member of the environment and sustainable development committee. It was a great honour to be part of the considerations and the amendments on this legislation.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 9:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Cloverdale—Langley City, with whom I have the privilege of serving on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

I like to remind the House every chance I get that Conservative Party members do not wake up every morning looking for ways to destroy the planet. On the contrary, we took very meaningful action when we were in power, and we are proud to work hard every day to make the environment a priority.

As I mentioned at the outset, I have the privilege of serving with my colleague on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, and we have been under tremendous pressure from the government to fast-track the study of Bill C-69.

I must say that we have received a great deal of written evidence because we did not have time to hear from witnesses in committee. We even heard a presentation from a Quebec organization, and the representative told us she was the only person from her province who was able to testify. A number of Quebec organizations would have liked to take part in the debate. Their participation was important to us.

I would like to ask my colleague whether the Liberal government's process for Bill C-69 is adequate and whether we have done everything we possibly can to improve Bill C-69 so as to replace the 2012 legislation.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 9:55 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, I truly value the work my hon. colleague from across the way does on the environment committee.

On Bill C-69, I would like to go back. One of the issues that was the driver behind it was that Canadians had lost trust in the process. We heard that clearly during the 2015 election campaign. That was why it was part of our campaign platform. I am pleased with the changes that our government has made in Bill C-69 to the legislation that we saw prior to it.

To the member's question on process, this was a very robust consultation process that our government employed in coming up with the legislation. Consultations were held across the country, from province to territory, indigenous organizations to industry. It was a very robust set of consultations.

When it came to committee, we had opportunities to discuss it, to bring in witnesses. On many occasions, the opposition members did speak to the need to have more time to hear from witnesses. The public record will show, time after time, that our side said we would add days and hours, and that we would come in during constituency week. There was a very robust process at the committee stage, as we moved to report stage, looking at amendments and the testimony, and reflecting those changes in a very meaningful way in the legislation before us today.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 9:55 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not doubt at all the commitment of my fellow British Columbian across the way to indigenous rights. I have spoken to him privately about this.

What I am worried about, though, is the commitment of his government. I acknowledge that the Liberals did vote in favour of Bill C-262 last week, and I commend them for doing that.

Now we have an opportunity before us to put that vote into action with Bill C-69. The member will know that the member for Edmonton Strathcona has several report stage amendments on the bill. I will specifically reference Motions Nos. 12 and 13, which would insert language into Bill C-69 to recognize indigenous rights, and make specific reference to the Constitution of Canada and to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Will the member be consistent with his vote last week and vote in support of these report stage amendments so we can make the bill come into compliance, as per the instructions of Bill C-262, that the laws of Canada be brought into harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? I would like to see the member's commitment, right here and now, to support these amendments.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 9:55 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague his comments about Bill C-262 and how that will be reflected in Bill C-69.

As I stated in my comments today, we are dedicated to the idea of reconciliation, and not just the idea but actions of reconciliation. Through the amendments that were made, we have been able to reflect a commitment in the preamble to the legislation that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a key principle that needs to guide the legislation and how it is implemented.

Many pieces of the legislation deal with how indigenous knowledge will be used, how we will consult in a meaningful way with indigenous peoples. This really moves the principles and ideas of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples forward in a meaningful manner. I am quite happy that this is reflected here.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 9:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today 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, introduced by the Liberal government.

As members no doubt know, this bill would create a new impact assessment agency of Canada to replace the Canadian Environmental Protection Agency. This agency will be responsible for all federal reviews of major projects and will have to collaborate with other agencies, like the new Canadian energy regulator, currently known as the National Energy Board, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and offshore offices.

As a citizen and as member of Parliament for Lévis—Lotbinière, I have always taken an interest in protecting our waterways and keeping them safe. The prestigious St. Lawrence runs not too far from my home, and all of these issues are close to my heart. This is one of the reasons our Conservative government amended the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in 2012.

I obviously have many concerns about Bill C-69, in particular about the merits of these amendments and the Liberal government's flexible ethics. The government claims to be accountable and transparent. In reality, the Liberals keep showing that all they care about is helping Liberal cronies and promoting Liberal partisanship by filling their party's coffers, from coast to coast, under some guise or other.

On the surface, this bill has the noble goal of ensuring that all projects will be assessed on the basis of their impact on the environment and health, and on social issues. However, we may need to cry foul on the practices of these good old Liberals, masters of all that is crooked and scandalous. Take, for example, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and fishery allocations for a highly valued shellfish.

Where things go downhill with the Liberal government is that it puts forward these bills that give ministers more discretionary power, and then issues around the economy and so-called gender and indigenous rights take a back seat to the financial interests of the highest bidders and people with Liberal connections.

The government loves nothing more than a taxpayer-funded spending spree and thinks it can reinvent the wheel. This bill lays out its plan to spend up to $1 billion over five years on the new regime, on necessary changes, and, ostensibly, on increasing the participation of indigenous peoples and the general public.

Let me once again point out that these objectives look very similar to those of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, who we hope will soon be under investigation.

We all know that the former Conservative government knew how to make things better without raising Canadians' taxes. Canada's Conservatives understand how important certainty, predictability, and regulatory clarity are to ensuring the viability of major energy projects.

We know that these projects create tens of thousands of jobs and benefit communities across Canada, without any political favouritism. With the Conservatives, solid economic policies do not come at the expense of solid environmental policies, or vice versa.

Greater prosperity and better environmental performance always go hand in hand, but all the Liberal government sees are enticing opportunities to dole out goodies to friends and family members.

Bill C-69 will create two new regulatory burdens that, combined with the pointless federal carbon tax, will hurt Canada's global competitiveness even more without improving environmental protection in any way. This is scandalous.

These fresh repercussions are troubling, as are so many others we have suffered since this perpetually failing Liberal government took office.

The Liberals have a very long way to go before the next election if they want to start defending Canada's natural resource industry properly, instead of throwing up one roadblock after another.

Fortunately, in accordance with our values and commitments, we, Canada's Conservatives, will continue to oppose costly regulations that hurt jobs, economic growth, and global competitiveness.

Bill C-69 does not in any way meet the Conservative Party's objective of always striking a balance between protecting the environment and growing the economy.

When we look at what is happening with our neighbours, it is appalling to see that, while the American administration is relaxing regulations, lowering taxes, and encouraging energy production from natural gas or coal, Canada is regressing.

We cannot hamper our competitiveness by tightening regulations and creating uncertainty around the environmental assessment process. We need to stand up against and do away with any bill like this one that would harm Canada's economic competitiveness.

On this side of the House, we firmly believe that, in order to be effective, economic and environmental policies must not contradict each other, undermine each other, or cancel each other out. All the empirical evidence shows that prosperity brings with it a better environmental record. It is one thing for the Prime Minister to embarrass us and lose all credibility in our eyes and the eyes of the world, as he did on his trip to India, for example; it is quite another, however, for him to put Canada at a political disadvantage and jeopardize our position in the global economy. We will not allow him to do that.

We have repeatedly seen his picture in every situation and costume imaginable, but what we are interested in and concerned about on this side of the House is not Superman, it is Canada's image, its role, its prosperity, and the well-being of all Canadian families.

I am worried about how this bill will be used to determine whether a project should undergo an assessment by the agency or a panel. Beyond the process that has been set out, the answer is very easy and predictable. The assessment process will remain very political because it is the minister who will determine whether it is in the public interest for a project to be submitted to a panel instead of the agency's shorter impact assessment.

I am also concerned about why the government is saying that the bill will shorten the assessment process for resource projects. The government is misleading Canadians by saying that project assessments will be shorter. The planning phase adds 180 days to the process, even if the impact assessment is a bit shorter.

What is more, Bill C-69 provides for broad ministerial discretion to extend or suspend the process. In the Consultation Paper on Information Requirements and Time Management Regulations, a proposed impact assessment system, the Liberal government recognizes that in some cases, the proposed time limits in the legislation will not be met. In light of this discretionary power that will undoubtedly be abused, there is very little we can support in this legislative measure.

We support in principle the process providing for one assessment per project, as well as the commitment on the time limits proposed under the legislation. However, the bill puts up regulatory barriers and additional criteria that will invariably lengthen the assessment period.

We oppose Bill C-69 for many reasons, including the fact that it establishes a number of new criteria for impact assessment, in particular the impact that the project will have on Canada's climate change commitments. From now on we will have to consider the environmental impact upstream and downstream. The bill also substantially increases the number of people that could intervene in a review even if they do not have specific expertise. Finally, at the end of the planning phase and at the end of the impact assessment, the minister or the cabinet will make the final decision. The process remains political in nature, which creates ongoing uncertainty for investors.

There is nothing in today's announcement that would increase investor confidence or attract new investment to Canada's resource sector. We know that Canadian companies are already facing stiff competition even as the United States implements its plan to reduce regulations, cut taxes, and invest in coal-fired and natural-gas-fired electricity in order to cut energy costs.

Canadian businesses deserve a government that works with them, not against them. Canada's approach to fighting climate change must be realistic and strike the right balance between protecting the environment and growing the economy. The Conservatives support regulation, investment in clean technologies, and the mitigation of climate change if these initiatives produce concrete and measurable results for businesses and the environment.

We do not see any guarantees here.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 10:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Deb Schulte Liberal King—Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-69. As chair of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, I found it a privilege to be able to study this bill and report it back to the House with important amendments. These amendments were developed after listening to over 55 witnesses and receiving over 150 briefs from NGOs, indigenous peoples, unions, experts, and industry representatives. The amendments adopted were to bring more predictability, transparent decision-making, clarity on expectations, and timely reviews.

Our government is committed to regaining public trust in the review of projects and to getting Canada's resources to market. That is what this bill will do.

Since 2012, we have seen that weaker rules have hurt Canada's economy and our environment. Without public trust and support, projects cannot move forward and investment is put at risk. This bill would result in better rules to govern major project reviews, helping ensure that Canadians can benefit from over $500 billion in major resource projects planned over the next decade. It would provide predictable, timely project reviews to encourage investment. At the same time, it would ensure that our environment is protected and that we can meet our commitments to reduce carbon pollution and transition to a clean-growth economy.

Engagement with industry as well as with indigenous peoples, provinces and territories, stakeholders, and Canadians has been instrumental in the development of this bill. Over 14 months leading up to its introduction, the government heard from companies about what they need to keep good projects moving forward. Since then, the government has continued to stay engaged with companies, indigenous peoples, and stakeholders. Consistently, companies have told us that they need certainty about the process, about what is required and when, and about how decisions on project approvals are made. Bill C-69 would provide that certainty.

To begin with, one agency, the new impact assessment agency of Canada, would act as a federal lead for all major project reviews. This will result in reviews that are more consistent and more predictable. We have consulted with Canadians on the criteria that will form the basis for a revised project list, which will provide clarity on how our new rules will apply.

Through a new early planning and engagement phase, companies would be able to identify and address issues early on, before an impact assessment begins. The bill provides clarity on the scope and outputs of this new phase. It would result in tailored impact statement guidelines that reflect factors and requirements relevant to the project, as well as a co-operation plan, an indigenous engagement and partnership plan, a public participation plan, and, if required, a permitting plan.

Details on these products will be set out in regulations, which the government is consulting on now, and which would come into force at the same time as the impact assessment act. The early planning stage would define requirements and clarify expectations so that companies would know what was expected of them, and when. It would help them design and plan their projects and more effectively engage indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and local communities.

The minister would also be able to inform companies early on if a project is likely to have negative impacts, without stopping the process. This would give companies an earlier opportunity to decide whether to continue with an impact assessment.

Bill C-69 would ensure that companies know in advance what would be considered in a project review and in decision-making. Reviews would take into account not just environmental impacts, but also social, economic, and health effects, as well as impacts on indigenous peoples and their rights.

This bill would also provide strong transparency measures so that proponents are informed about key decisions, as well as the reasons behind them. That includes, for example, decisions to extend the timeline for a review or to refer a final decision on a project to cabinet.

When final decisions are made on whether a project will go ahead, the proponent would be informed of the reasons for the decision and would be assured that all key factors were appropriately considered.

Bill C-69 would also respond to what we have heard from industry by providing more timely assessments. Our better rules would include stricter timeline management, with shorter timelines for assessments. Specifically, timelines for agency-led reviews would be reduced from 365 to 300 days; panel reviews would be shortened from 720 days to a maximum of 600 days; and, in addition, panel reviews for designated projects reviewed in collaboration with a federal life-cycle regulator would be shortened to 300 days, with the option to allow the minister to set the timeline up to a maximum of 600 days if warranted, based on the project's complexity. As well, timelines for non-designated projects reviewed by life-cycle regulators would be shortened from 450 to 300 days.

Regulations would require clear rules around when timelines could be paused. When there is a decision to extend a timeline, the proponent would need to be informed about the reasons why.

I would like to briefly mention how Bill C-69 would support one project, one review, and how this would contribute to our goal of getting our resources to market. The bill would provide for joint reviews and substitution, in which a review process led by another jurisdiction would fulfill the requirement for a federal review. Those provisions would help promote cooperation with provinces and territories, reduce red tape, and prevent duplication. We are also increasing opportunities for partnership with indigenous peoples and for indigenous governing bodies to take on key responsibilities. That could include taking the lead on assessments through the bill's substitution provisions.

Our government has heard from industry how important it is for Bill C-69 to provide a smooth transition between the current assessment regime and the new regime. Transition provisions must be clear and predictable to encourage investment and keep good projects moving forward. Bill C-69 would provide that clarity by setting out objective criteria to identify projects that would continue to be reviewed under CEAA 2012, giving companies the option to opt into the new process, and confirming that no one would go back to the starting line.

I would just like to emphasize that as a result of the committee's work, Bill C-69 now includes stronger transparency provisions that would benefit proponents and provide more certainty and consistency across the legislation. For example, assessment reports would be required to incorporate a broader range of information, including a summary of comments received, recommendations on mitigation measures and follow-up, and the agency's rationale and conclusions. Public comments would have to be made available on the Internet, and information posted online would need to be maintained so that it could be accessed over time.

The standing committee also addressed feedback from industry that some smaller projects with federal life-cycle regulators, such as offshore renewable energy projects, could face longer reviews than they do now. The amendments address this by establishing a new timeline of 300 days for reviews of projects with a life-cycle regulator, with the possibility of setting the timeline to a maximum of 600 days, if warranted.

Complementing the existing provisions to support timeliness, the amended bill would set a clear 45-day timeline for establishing a review panel. The committee's amendments would clarify that public comments must be provided during a time period specified by the agency, so that meaningful participation would be ensured and balanced with the need for timely assessments.

The standing committee further advanced the objective of one project, one review. As a result of the committee's amendments, integrated review panels involving federal regulators would also be able to include other jurisdictions, making it possible to have just one assessment that meets all of the requirements. Finally, the standing committee responded to feedback from companies by making the bill's transitional provisions even clearer.

To conclude, the bill responds to what we have heard from companies, providing clarity on expectations and requirements, predictable timely reviews, and transparent decision-making. By rebuilding public trust, it would encourage investment and help create new jobs and opportunities for Canadians.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 10:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the realities in my riding of North Island—Powell River is just how much people care about the environment. We live in an amazing and beautiful area and need to know that the environment will be protected, because it means jobs and the well-being of indigenous communities, families, and people in the community.

One of the concerns I heard again and again, and continue to hear, is that there is a lack of trust and faith in the process. During the election campaign, the Liberal platform stated, “We will end the practice of having federal Ministers interfere in the environmental assessment process.” However, we know that in clause 17 of Bill C-69, we see the very opposite.

I would like the member to explain to me why the environment minister will still have a lot of power to make decisions. If we looking at a process that is going to meet the scientific evidence, and that is how decisions are going to be made, why is it that the minister will still have this incredible power and how will that allow communities to trust the process? When I talk to people in my riding, this just raises the concern again.