An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Sponsor

Dominic LeBlanc  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

Part 1 of this enactment amends the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to establish an administration and enforcement scheme in Part 5 of that Act that includes the issuance of development certificates. It also adds an administrative monetary penalty scheme and a cost recovery scheme, provides regulation-making powers for both schemes and for consultation with Aboriginal peoples and it allows the Minister to establish a committee to conduct regional studies. Finally, it repeals a number of provisions of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act that, among other things, restructure the regional panels of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, but that were not brought into force.

Part 2 of the enactment amends the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to allow the Governor in Council to prohibit certain works or activities on frontier lands if the Governor in Council considers that it is in the national interest to do so.

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 17, 2019 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
June 11, 2019 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
June 10, 2019 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
April 9, 2019 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
April 9, 2019 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Second ReadingMackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 1:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people in support of a bill that proposes to strike a more appropriate balance between environmental protection, social responsibility and economic development in Canada's north. As my hon. colleagues recognize, Canada is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, and throughout Canada's history these resources have been a cornerstone of the economy.

While the national economy grows ever more diverse thanks to the rise of other sectors, resource development remains crucial to our national prosperity. Resource development projects create jobs and export sales and stimulate technological innovation. Tempering these benefits, however, are the environmental and social impacts of resource extraction and development. These include pollution, destruction of ecosystems and changes in the fabric of communities and traditional indigenous ways.

Throughout much of our nation's history, while we relied on resource development for prosperity and growth, we often failed to appreciate and take into account its long-term environmental and social consequences. To strike a better balance between economic and environmental concerns, Canada has developed a unique regulatory regime that governs resource development projects in the north, a regime that is co-managed with indigenous partners.

The regime requires that proposed projects undergo stringent reviews of anticipated impacts. This regulatory regime helps to ensure that resource projects maximize potential economic benefits and minimize potential environmental impacts. In this way, the regime restores public confidence and creates certainty and predictability, which are so important in industry, and it sets the foundation for a sustainable and long-term natural resource industry in the north.

I am going to take the opportunity now to advise that I will be splitting my time with the parliamentary secretary, the member for Acadie—Bathurst.

To maintain an appropriate balance between these concerns, the regulatory regime evolves continually as Canada evolves and as our understanding of the environment and of resource development deepens. In the north in particular, the settlement of modern land claims has enabled the creation of unique systems of governance in co-operation with our indigenous partners.

Through the amendments proposed in Bill C-88, our government has established a clear path forward in managing land, water and natural resources in the Mackenzie Valley, one that respects indigenous inhabitants and is fair and equitable to industry. These amendments strengthen trust and provide certainty, and they provide an effective approach to natural resource co-management. They also support a modern regulatory regime that is stable, predictable, coordinated and balanced.

Bill C-88 responds to the concerns raised by indigenous governments and organizations in the Mackenzie Valley about the provisions of the 2014 Northwest Territories Devolution Act. That act devolved the administration and control of public lands and waters to the Government of the Northwest Territories and also made other amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act.

Those 2014 amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act included provisions to amalgamate the regional land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley into a single board. While the government of the day argued that an amalgamated board structure would provide clarity and certainty to the regulatory regime in the Mackenzie Valley, the opposite occurred.

Instead of bringing certainty, the proposed amalgamated boards led to court challenges by indigenous organizations. Indigenous groups argued that their authorities in land and water management, guaranteed by their land claims and self-government agreements, were not being respected, and that their land and water boards could not be unilaterally abolished by the federal government.

A court injunction in February of 2015 halted the provisions of section 253(2) of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, the section that included restructuring of the land and water boards. The injunction also affected important policy measures that are central to the regulatory regime, such as the use of development certificates and their enforcement scheme and inspection notice requirements on Gwich'in and Sahtu lands.

So much for bringing certainty to the regulatory regime. Stakeholders agree that the 2014 legislation has done the opposite; it creates a climate of uncertainty and discourages the responsible development of the Mackenzie Valley's natural resources.

The Government of Canada is committed to exploring ways to fix the restructuring provisions, resolve the legal proceedings and renew the government's relationship with indigenous peoples in the Northwest Territories.

Bill C-88 is the product of productive discussions with indigenous governments and organizations, the Government of the Northwest Territories, resource co-management boards, industry and other stakeholders. Input received has been carefully considered and helped shape the bill.

If passed, Bill C-88 will undo the controversial land restructuring provisions and reintroduce important regulatory improvement provisions from the Northwest Territories Devolution Act that did not come into force due to the court injunctions. Bill C-88 provides certainty to proponents, and it supports a modern-day regime that balances environmental, social and economic well-being.

My understanding is that the Government of the Northwest Territories supports the amendments proposed in Bill C-88, contrary to what the opposition has said. Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories also want these amendments. The mining industry that conducts its business in the territory is not opposed to the board restructuring amendments, and supports anything that provides greater clarity and certainty in the regulatory process and gets us through these injunctions.

Companies with commercial interests in the north also understand the importance of protecting the unique arctic environment, while pursuing safe, responsible development, which creates jobs and economic growth right in the northern communities from whence the resources come.

Bill C-88 proposes to improve the regulatory regime in the north through a series of amendments informed by several important developments. These include the court challenges I mentioned earlier, as well as the accelerated impacts of climate change in the Arctic and the Government of Canada's commitment to foster reconciliation between indigenous peoples and the Crown.

The amendments proposed in Bill C-88 would increase predictability, consistency and timeliness of regulatory reviews in the north, while strengthening environmental protections. Northerners deserve a fully functional, modernized regulatory regime that meets their particular needs, the kind of regime that promotes growth and prosperity while at the same time safeguards the fragile northern ecosystem, the kind of regime that strikes the appropriate balance between economic and environmental concerns.

Bill C-88 would provide the clarity and certainty that the regulatory process needs in order to encourage industry investment in resource development in the Mackenzie River valley. I call upon all members of the House to support Bill C-88, which will enable us to balance the development of untapped economic potential in the north with strong partnerships and sound environmental stewardship.

One of the main issues that has arisen in my conversations with oil and gas companies around uncertainty, and I know the opposition shadow minister raised this point, actually relates to the uncertainty that arises out of the courts. The biggest fear of companies that have proposed to invest billions of dollars in resource development and extraction is that the courts will impose some type of an injunction late into their process, creating a great amount of uncertainty as to whether or not their capital can be effectively deployed. This is exactly what happened with TMX. It is exactly what happened with the previous 2014 legislation that this bill hopes to amend. It is the greatest source of risk that our government is trying to fend off.

Although some members of the House suggest that these injunctions occurred on our watch and, therefore, must be our fault, the exact opposite is the case. The injunction arose in the cases that I just mentioned from decisions that were made by the previous government and its failure to properly consult, to take indigenous concerns into account, to abide by our constitutional commitments and to abide by the duty to accommodate.

This is what so much of our focus has been on for the last four years, to get our environmental regulatory regime back in line with our constitutional and economic commitments, to help make sure indigenous communities thrive. In this particular instance, we have the right balance and we know we do because the groups that have brought forward the injunction are in favour of the changes.

Second ReadingMackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to see that Bill C-88 is revisiting the principle of self-determination of indigenous peoples. However, the concept of self-determination of indigenous peoples applies to many other areas, including housing, for example.

The minister responsible for housing put forward a housing strategy over a year ago, but we still do not have a targeted housing strategy for indigenous people. I would argue that self-determination should form the foundation of that strategy.

I would like to know whether my colleague would commit to putting some pressure on his colleague, the minister responsible for housing, first, to bring forward a targeted housing strategy for indigenous people, and second, to ensure that strategy is squarely based on self-determination.

Second ReadingMackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 1:35 p.m.
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Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-88.

The Government of Canada, our government, is taking a new approach. We are currently conducting extensive consultations with indigenous governments and organizations as well as other key stakeholders on issues that will affect them. By working directly with indigenous governments and stakeholders on developing this bill, we can respond to concerns that are raised and ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are respected. This process has helped create a law that will benefit all Canadians.

Bill C-88 amends the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act in direct response to comments from key stakeholders, as well as concerns expressed to the Government of Canada by indigenous groups affected by the previous piece of legislation.

Our indigenous partners have made their views quite clear. The Tlicho government and the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated applied to the courts in 2014 and 2015 respectively for protection of their rights in accordance with their individual land claim and self-government agreements. The bill we are debating today corrects those problems and responds directly to the concerns expressed by indigenous governments and organizations.

As part of the ongoing reconciliation process, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations asked departmental officials to initiate an ongoing dialogue with indigenous organizations and governments in the Northwest Territories to address their concerns.

On September 23, 2016, the minister sent letters to indigenous groups and stakeholders launching consultations on the draft bill to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act in order to address these issues.

Bill C-88 is the result of consultations with indigenous organizations and governments in the Mackenzie Valley, transboundary indigenous organizations and governments, resource co-management boards, and oil and gas industry organizations.

In addition to indigenous organizations and governments, Canada consulted the Government of the Northwest Territories. Our government also consulted members of the mining and gas and oil industries, including the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines, the Mining Association of Canada, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. The text of the bill was communicated to these groups to get their feedback, and several meetings were held to respond to their concerns.

Ongoing consultations over the long term with key stakeholders have provided Canada with invaluable insight into the practical nature of the bill before us today. The comments from our partners provided unique perspectives and useful guidance which, in the end, led to the drafting of this bill.

Canada recognizes that the previous legislation was drafted without enough consultation. This is why the government of Canada ensured that the voices of indigenous groups, the government of the Northwest Territories and industry representatives were heard at every stage of the process.

Bringing together stakeholders is the key to developing effective policies and practices. Our government is holding extensive consultations in order to create processes that satisfy the needs of all parties. That ensures that the final product serves everyone in a positive manner and gets rid of any possible uncertainty regarding natural resources.

In March 2018, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations met with industry groups to better understand their opinion on developing and co-managing resources in the north. Industry plays a major role in creating a stronger and better relationship with governments and indigenous organizations when it comes to protecting, managing and developing Canada's natural resources. In order to truly make progress on the path to reconciliation with indigenous peoples, industry must be taken into consideration as a key strategic partner alongside all levels of governments.

Consultation and engagement with stakeholders on Bill C-88 began in February 2017. A draft bill was distributed to participants for an eight-week review, during which two meetings were held in Yellowknife. At these meetings, departmental representatives from the former department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada explained the content of the proposal and the accommodation measures in response to the participants' comments.

Throughout the consultation process, changes to the draft bill were clearly communicated to give stakeholders the opportunity to express their opinion.

By engaging stakeholders, we were able to address all concerns as they were raised. With our innovative approach to drafting this bill, we are improving how our government makes decisions, gathers information, and engages with different stakeholders. Today's bill reflects that process.

If passed, the proposed amendments would contribute to the efficient, predictable and coherent management and use of land, water and natural resources in the Mackenzie Valley. By charting a clearer course for governments and organizations with respect to natural resource management, industry will no longer have to contend with potential uncertainty that hinders its ability to invest in northern Canada.

This legislation will enhance economic opportunities and growth while protecting the environment for future generations. It addresses concerns expressed by indigenous organizations and governments and is consistent with constitutionally protected land claim and self-government agreements. It recognizes the importance of indigenous peoples' active participation in the co-management of natural resources and protects their right to oversee the future of their lands.

The environment, the economy and reconciliation go hand in hand. We need to create a more effective system for everyone, and that is exactly what Bill C-88 accomplishes. I invite my hon. colleagues to support it.

We will achieve reconciliation with indigenous peoples. We will work closely with indigenous peoples and all other stakeholders, whether from industry or other levels of government. It is a priority for our government, always has been, and we will stay the course and continue our work.

Second ReadingMackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to be very clear about the government's instincts. When it comes to many pieces of legislation, the Liberals' instincts are wrong. Their instinct is to manage to bureaucrats and to the wealthiest few in this country.

I want to walk people who are watching through Bill C-88 as an example of why this is the case and also compare it to something that just happened in the last 24 hours that proves that the government really does not care about the environment but does care about bettering the interests of the Liberals' corporate donors and the wealthy companies in this country.

Part 2 of bill C-88 would amend the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to allow the Governor in Council to issue orders, when in the national interest, to prohibit oil and gas activities and freeze the terms of existing licences to prevent them from expanding during a moratorium. For those who are watching, what that means is that like Bill C-69, the no more pipelines act, the government is introducing yet another piece of legislation that would allow the cabinet or the Liberal Party of Canada to interfere politically in the review process, or essentially in the economy, in a way that is not positive.

What do I mean by that? Part of what we have seen in terms of the economic downturn in Canada, when it comes to the natural resources sector, and what we will hear from anyone who wants to look at Canada as a potential place to invest, is that the Liberal government, led by the Prime Minister, has made it uncertain and unstable for people to invest in Canada because of pieces of legislation like this.

If we were sitting around a board table or were a small business trying to decide whether to make an investment, one of the questions we would ask is what the government was going to do with regard to regulations or whether a project was going to go forward. What the government has done with bills like part 2 of Bill C-88, which we are discussing today, and Bill C-69 is say that it would politically interfere in their decision and make a decision that would be in the Liberals' best interests politically, whatever they might be. That would not help investment in Canada. That would not help protect the environment.

Liberals might say that this would help protect the environment, but it would not. All it would do is create an environment of uncertainty so that people could not and would not invest in natural resources projects in Canada. It is a convenient way for them to kick the can down the road.

Rather than standing up and saying that as a government, as a political party, this is what the Liberals' vision is for natural resource development in Canada, they are saying, “Maybe we will do something at some point. Why don't you invest? However, we may pull that football away through legal provisions” such as the one they are introducing in the bill. That is why it is important for Canadians to pay attention to this.

With regard to protecting the environment and perhaps protecting average Canadians, we saw something remarkable happen yesterday. The environment minister not only signed off on $12 million worth of taxpayer money going to one of the wealthiest companies in Canada, Loblaws, to buy new fridges, she also staged a taxpayer-funded announcement at a Loblaws store. Twelve million dollars of taxpayer funds went to a company that makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year to buy fridges, and then tax dollars were used for the minister to get a photo opportunity for doing that.

One could argue that Loblaws is a very successful company. If everyone is so committed to protecting the environment, why could Loblaws not just buy those fridges itself? Why was the government's policy instinct not to incent the company, either through regulations or tax credits or something that would be better for everyone in the country and would put everyone on a level playing field? Why was the Liberals' instinct to give money to this company, which can afford lobbyists to fill out very complicated grant applications? Why was it the Liberals' instinct to give money to a wealthy company that could have done this itself instead of something that would have evened the playing field for all Canadians and incentivized business?

I like to call it “reverse Robin Hood”. The Prime Minister has a really great track record of doing everything possible to take money away from Canadians. It includes this announcement and the SNC-Lavalin scandal and things like the carbon tax, which will never reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as giving opportunities to wealthy companies that have lobbyists.

I believe in the economy. I believe that we should create an opportunity for companies to thrive. What I do not believe is that the government should be using tax dollars to pay for fridges for a company that has done three things that I will describe.

First, it makes hundreds of millions of dollars of net profit every year. It made about $3 billion in net revenue and $800 million in net profit last year. It is doing okay. I think can afford a few fridges.

Then this company was involved for years in a price-fixing scheme on bread that by all accounts impacted poor people in Canada the most.

Also, early last year, reports broke that this company was involved in a fight with the Canada Revenue Agency over $400 million in claims over a bogus offshore account. That was a CBC headline.

What was the minister thinking? I know what she was thinking. I would like to chalk it up to incompetence, but when we look at SNC-Lavalin and this announcement, it is not as if she signed this accidentally. It was not, “Oh, no; I accidentally signed this.” She scheduled a funding announcement for it. She took pictures with somebody.

When I talked about this issue yesterday, somebody named Amanda from Lundar, Manitoba, wrote to my office to say that the dairy cooler in the family grocery store she owns in her community had broken and that she cannot afford to replace it. She said she just cannot afford it. She asked why the government is so out of touch that it thinks the right thing to do is to give $12 million to a big company that makes hundreds of millions of dollars and then increase her taxes to pay for it. That shows how out of touch the government is.

The government has no desire to fix the environment. It is like the Prime Minister saying he is a feminist. Now he is saying he is fixing the environment, but he is finding ways to give money to Loblaws.

Loblaws should be concerned. Loblaws should know better. In terms of any brand credit that Loblaws gets from this, I know the company is managing profit and loss for their shareholders, but did the board members think this was a good idea? Come on. There is $12 million for new freezers when that company made $800 million in profit. Why should Amanda have to go without a dairy freezer—

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I wish to focus my comments on the first part of Bill C-88, the amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. However, I cannot resist adding that contrary to the remarks the hon. member just made, it was the Harper government that took the power away from the National Energy Board to make the final decision of nay or yea for a pipeline and gave it to the cabinet, so the statement lacks a certain level of credibility.

Forty-five years ago, the federal government commissioned Judge Thomas Berger to lead an inquiry to investigate the social, environmental and economic impacts of a proposed gas pipeline that would run through the Yukon and the Mackenzie River Valley of the Northwest Territories. The Berger inquiry set the bar for proper consultation with communities, in particular with indigenous communities, on proposed major energy projects.

Justice Berger heard testimony from diverse groups with an interest in the pipeline. The inquiry was notable for the voice it gave to aboriginal people, whose traditional territory the pipeline was intended to traverse.

Berger travelled extensively in the north in preparation for and during the hearings, visiting all 35 communities along the Mackenzie River Valley, as well as other cities across Canada, to gauge public reaction. In his travels, he met with Dene, Inuit, Métis and non-aboriginal residents. He heard from experts. He held community meetings across the Northwest Territories and Yukon. This played an important role in shaping his views.

Sadly, despite my request, no similar community-level process was agreed to by the parliamentary committee on review of Bill C-69.

For the first time, intervenor funding was provided to aboriginal communities to ensure their voices would be heard. This inspired many of us to pursue similar rights and open processes for energy reviews in my province of Alberta and before the NEB. My Canadian environmental bill of rights, Bill C-438, is premised on these same basic rights and principles.

The commission recommended that no pipeline be built through northern Yukon and that a pipeline through the Mackenzie Valley should be delayed for 10 years.

His report's first volume, entitled “Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland”, highlighted the fact that while the Mackenzie Valley could be the site of the biggest project in the history of free enterprise, it was also home to many people whose lives would be immeasurably changed by the pipeline.

Berger was quoted as saying this:

The North is a frontier, but it is a homeland too, the homeland of the Dene, Inuit and Métis, as it is also the home of the white people who live there. And it is a heritage, a unique environment that we are called upon to preserve for all Canadians.

The commission found no significant economic benefit to northerners from the pipeline. The report was prescient in concluding that large-sale projects based on non-renewable energy sources rarely provide long-term employment and that those locals who did find work during construction could only find low-skill, low-wage positions.

In addition, Berger feared that the pipeline development would undermine local economies, which relied on hunting, fishing and trapping, possibly even increasing economic hardship. Berger ultimately found that the economy of the region would not be harmed by not building the pipeline.

The commission believed that the pipeline process had not taken native culture seriously and that any development needed to conform to the wishes of those who lived there.

Berger predicted that the social consequences of the pipeline would not only be serious; they would be devastating. The commission was particularly concerned about the role of indigenous peoples in development plans. At the time the report was released, there were several ongoing negotiations over native land claims in the area. Berger suggested that the pipeline construction be delayed until those claims were settled.

The commission found that the local population would not accept development activity without some control. In addition, land claims were part of a broader native rights issue that needed to be settled between the government and the first nations.

In Berger's view, rapid development in the north would preclude settlement of these important issues due to the influx of non-native populations and growing business interests.

The north today bears little resemblance to the north of Berger's time. The land is the same and the resources are still there, but the people of the north have changed. Most land claims have been settled. For many, the traditional ways of life have waned, and indigenous peoples are seizing control of their own destinies. Many who fought so fiercely against the Mackenzie Valley pipeline now favour building one, or building other developments, including a highway, but on their own terms, which include making sure the benefits flow to their communities over the long term.

In the previous Parliament, the Conservatives tacked on to a devolution bill regressive measures that directly contradicted any of the lessons of the Berger inquiry. Those measures also undermined rights within the constitutionally entrenched land claims and self-government agreements or modern treaties. These first nation final agreements provide that those communities most impacted by developments must have a direct voice.

The Conservatives' Bill C-15, contrary to the wish of northerners, eliminated four regional land and water co-management boards created under carefully negotiated first nation final agreements. Lawsuits successfully filed by the Tlicho and Sahtu First Nations succeeded in stopping these measures.

The bill before us, Bill C-88, restores the co-management boards, providing more effective voices for first nations in the development reviews and approvals. However, as my colleague, the MP for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, has pointed out, Bill C-88 could fully recognize and strengthen indigenous rights by entrenching the UNDRIP in this proposed law.

A few years back, I had the honour of attending a Dene gathering in Fort Providence with my former colleague, Dennis Bevington, the then Northwest Territories member of Parliament. I heard first-hand concerns from northerners about an oil spill that was discovered on the land by indigenous hunters and their struggle to receive the necessary assistance to monitor the cleanup of the disaster, so the struggle continues to have a true voice.

However, I also experienced the joy of seeing the mighty Mackenzie River running along the shores of Fort Providence, a magnificent transboundary river basin relied upon by many communities that have long deserved a greater voice in decision-making.

I look forward to supporting the bill before us.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I stand today on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people to express my support for Bill C-88, which proposes to modernize the regulatory regime governing resource development projects in the north.

Before I start, one of the last Conservative speakers said the decision should be made in the north. The northern governments—the Sahtu, the Gwich'in, the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories—are all in agreement with this legislation. I assume that unless they are going to contradict their own speaker, the Conservatives will be supporting this bill, which leaves the decisions in the north as they were negotiated in the constitutionally protected land claims.

The key reason I support the legislation now before us has to do with the proposed enforcement system. As my colleagues know, the effectiveness of any regulatory regime depends largely on the quality of its enforcement system. As it stands today, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act lacks an effective enforcement system when it comes to assessments of environmental impacts.

While the amendments to the Northwest Territories Devolution Act did create an enforcement system, the court challenges initiated by northern indigenous groups on the decimation of their boards effectively eliminated it. Bill C-88 would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to establish an enforcement system based on development certificates.

A development certificate is a form of authorization, a permission slip of sorts. For a project to proceed, an environmental assessment body must first issue a development certificate to the proponent. The Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act follows a similar approach.

Under such a system, that environmental assessment body can include specific mitigation measures in the development certificate. The proponent might be authorized to drive heavy vehicles only on frozen winter roads, for instance, or be banned from designated areas during the time of year when caribou typically birth and nurse their calves, which I wish the Trump administration would do in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Under Bill C-88, the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board would be authorized to issue development certificates listing mitigation measures within the jurisdiction of the responsible ministers. After completing an environmental assessment or environmental impact review, the board would issue a certificate to the proponent.

Under the enforcement system envisioned in Bill C-88, it would be a violation to proceed with a project without a valid certificate or to contravene the conditions of a certificate. These and other violations could lead to an administrative monetary penalty, or AMP. An AMP is a fine imposed by an inspector. It is a civil sanction imposed through an administrative process, rather than a criminal sentence imposed by a court.

Bill C-88 would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to provide all the necessary and appropriate authorities for AMPs and associated regulations. The regulations would specify penalty amounts, as well as the method of calculating penalties for each type of violation. The amendments also specify the maximum fine would be $25,000 for individuals and $100,000 for organizations. A violation that continues for multiple days would be subject to a separate AMP for each day. I am convinced that the threat of such potentially large fines would promote compliance with the proposed legislation.

There are many advantages to an enforcement system based on development certificates. The threat of a hefty fine removes the potential financial benefit of non-compliance, for instance. By imposing particular restrictions on a project through a development certificate, the system helps regulators to achieve particular goals, such as environmental protection. Civil sanctions such as AMPs tend to be more efficient than criminal prosecutions, which can be lengthy and expensive undertakings.

The enforcement system proposed in Bill C-88 is consistent with those authorized in other federal legislation, including the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act, the National Energy Board Act and the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

Another worthwhile feature of the proposed enforcement system is that it features many effective checks and balances. Development certificates, for example, could not include measures within the jurisdiction of a designated regulatory agency, such as the National Energy Board or the Tlicho government. Anyone issued an AMP could seek to have the notice investigated by an official review body. The review would determine whether the penalty was issued in accordance with the regulations, whether the person committed the violation, or both.

For violations related to part 5 of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, which pertains to environmental assessment, the federal minister would be empowered to act as a review body. For violations related to part 3 of the act, which deals with land and water management, the board that issued the original authorization would serve as the review body. If a violation was related to an activity that did not involve an authorization, the board responsible for the region where the violation occurred would serve as the review body.

The enforcement system would also include a reconsideration process. A proponent could request an adjustment to a development certificate to address changing circumstances, ineffective or unclear project conditions or new technologies. Reconsideration would be limited to the area of change and to any effects the change may have had on the project. The proponent would not be required to complete another full environmental assessment, and the original decision to authorize the project could not be challenged under reconsideration.

Inspection is another important aspect of the proposed enforcement system. Qualified persons, such as federal or territorial officers, would be authorized under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to inspect projects for compliance with the conditions of development certificates. The inspectors would have broad authority to enter and examine premises. They could also prohibit or limit access to premises. If an inspection uncovered evidence of an activity that contravened part 5 of the act, the inspector could issue an order to cease the activity and to mitigate the effects of the activity.

To deter proponents from interfering with the work of inspectors, this part of the enforcement system would include more stringent measures. Rather than civil sanctions, violators would be subject to criminal prosecution. It would be a criminal offence to obstruct inspectors, for instance, or to knowingly provide them with false or misleading information. It would be an offence to carry out development without the proper authority or to contravene an order to cease an activity.

Offenders would face stiff penalties. Conviction for a first offence, for example, could lead to a fine of up to $250,000 and a one-year prison sentence. The maximum fine for subsequent offences would rise to $500,000. This part of the enforcement system would also feature important checks and balances. For instance, an action could not be subject to both an AMP and a criminal sanction.

As my hon. colleagues can now appreciate, the legislation before us envisions an effective enforcement system. Proponents would be required to abide by specific conditions set out in development certificates. To promote compliance, the system would include sanctions corresponding to the seriousness of a violation or offence. As well, the system would incorporate a series of checks and balances to prevent potential abuses of process.

I am convinced that such an enforcement system would enable northerners to maximize the potential benefits of resource development and to minimize the potential environmental impacts. I will vote in favour of Bill C-88 at second reading, and I urge my hon. colleagues to do the same.

The years involved in negotiating these settlements, land claims and self-government settlements are a remarkable testament to parliamentarians and to Canada. These agreements are working very well. As I said previously, one of my greatest moments in Parliament was to get the Tlicho land claims and self-government agreement through Parliament.

We have to maintain the honour of the Crown, maintain respect for those constitutionally protected agreements and make sure that we do not pass legislation that would infringe on those agreements.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 3:55 p.m.
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Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs Québec

Liberal

Marc Miller LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my support for Bill C-88 and explain why I approved it at second reading stage.

First, I want to congratulate the hon. member for Yukon on his fine speech and thank him for his support for a region of this country that I rarely get to visit. I also want to thank the member for Northwest Territories, who is also a very strong advocate for that region. Goodness knows that they have approached me as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations with many requests. I am well aware of how passionately these two individuals advocate in favour of that beautiful part of our country, which is so rarely visited by most Canadians. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all my fellow members to visit the far north. It is a beautiful place that reinforces and reminds us what it means to be Canadian.

I would like to use my time to draw the attention of my hon. colleagues to the authorization of regional studies. Although this may be a lesser-known aspect of Bill C-88, regional studies should have a significant and positive impact on the review process at the core of the regulatory regime governing resource development in Canada's north.

The changes proposed in the bill before us would allow the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade to establish committees to conduct regional studies. These studies could take very diverse forms. They could, for example, be as narrow as a documentary analysis or as broad as in-depth research to create databases on a body of water or a land mass. The relevant text of the proposed bill is purposely broad in order to allow for a variety of scopes and activities.

One of the reasons why the bill uses non-specific language is that science and scientific knowledge are expanding and becoming increasingly sophisticated. It is impossible to accurately predict today what kind of regional study will be most beneficial 10 or 20 years from now. That said, regional studies can generate valuable environmental and socio-economic information about the potential impacts of a proposed project. The Northwest Territories' regulatory boards would definitely find that kind of information useful.

Although the proposed bill does not specify the form, scope, or subject of the studies, it clearly sets out what these studies and committees are not. Regional studies are not a substitute for the regulatory boards, for example, or any of the roles these boards play in the regulatory regime. The bill also states that a committee has no other role than what is set out in its terms of reference. Asking a committee to undertake a study essentially means hiring an expert or consultant to prepare a report. Under this bill, regional studies would be subject to the general principles of the integrated co-management regulatory regime authorized by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.

The value of including regional studies in environmental impact assessments has long been recognized. For example, the 1992 version of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act referred directly to regional studies. Under subsection 16(1), proponents had to consider the cumulative environmental effects of their projects, while section 16(2) emphasized the role and value of regional studies, outside the scope of the act, in considering cumulative effects. Parliament repealed the act in 2012, replacing it with a new version that explicitly authorizes the minister of the environment to establish committees to conduct regional studies.

Regional studies also feature prominently in a 2009 publication issued by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. The publication, which is entitled “Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment in Canada: Principles and Guidelines”, lists the benefits of regional studies. These include analyzing, identifying and managing cumulative environmental effects at a more appropriate, regional scale.

According to this publication, regional studies can also contribute to the discussion of alternative sustainable future scenarios and key environmental goals and objectives for a region.

Studies can save time and resources by avoiding environmental effects early on, rather than mitigating cumulative effects much further down the line. Regional studies establish regional environmental targets, limits and thresholds against which to monitor and evaluate subsequent development and management actions. In this way, studies support effective project-based performance assessment. Lastly, the publication suggests that regional studies can provide an early indication of public interest in regional environmental issues.

It is clear that the value of regional studies to environmental impact assessments is increasingly being recognized. Many regulatory regimes in Canada use them as a way to collect environmental data and analyze environmental effects. Besides the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, provisions authorizing regional studies also appear in section 5 of Saskatchewan's Environmental Assessment Act and section 112 of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.

Many other jurisdictions in Canada incorporate regional studies into impact assessments even though those studies are not explicitly mentioned in the legislative measure in question. The simple truth is that regional studies are becoming increasingly popular because they are useful. They can provide accurate, up-to-date, relevant data. They are versatile and can be adapted to specific, practical circumstances. For example, a regional study may analyze potential impacts from the perspective of an ecosystem or region as a whole, rather than solely from the perspective of a particular project. Regional studies can provide necessary baseline data from which to analyze the impact of future development projects. These studies can also help to determine environmental thresholds. Ultimately, the reliable data and analyses generated by regional studies help board members make well-informed decisions. That is very important.

By authorizing regional studies, Bill C-88 will make this valuable tool available to regulatory boards in the Northwest Territories. The studies can be used to support project reviews and potentially speed up environmental assessments and environmental impact reviews. By referring to regional studies, the boards would be better able to properly review complex data that exceed the technical expertise of their members. Regional studies can also be used to gather and analyze baseline data, which is not part of the boards' responsibility.

The government is committed to maintaining strong legislation that protects Canada's rich natural environment, respects the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and supports Canada's resilient natural resources sector. Bill C-88 makes a number of significant improvements to the system.

In addition to authorizing the use of regional studies, the bill restores the regional land and water boards and creates a law enforcement system comprising inspections and revised penalties. Other changes will allow the boards to request extensions of their members' terms and enact regulations governing how governments and proponents consult indigenous peoples during the process to issue licences and permits and the environmental impact assessment process under the law.

All these improvements will strengthen northerners' ability to maximize the benefits of resource projects while minimizing their negative impact.

The bill before us deserves the support of the House. I encourage my hon. colleagues to join me in supporting Bill C-88 at second reading.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

I say it is an honour, but I really question that when I take a look at what this bill is proposing to do. I say “proposing” because I hope we can make changes to it. What we see in this bill is what we have seen in other bills and in actions by the government. Basically, they are anti-resource actions.

The first action we saw on this was in November 2015, barely a month into the government's hopefully very short reign, when the Prime Minister decided to shut down the northern gateway project that would have taken oil resources from northern Alberta to tidewater. Rather than working with the challenges that were identified in that project, the Prime Minister decided, basically unilaterally, without debate in the House and without any criticism of his actions, to shut that down.

People in the north were looking forward to those jobs. People in ports and people right across the country could have benefited from those jobs. However, the Prime Minister made the decision almost single-handedly. Was it single-handedly, or was it a decision by his senior advisers? There was certainly very little input or debate in this House on that decision.

Next was the energy east pipeline, which would have taken high-quality Canadian products, produced and refined in Canada, to meet the fuel needs of eastern Canada. However, instead of allowing that project to proceed, the Prime Minister canned it as well.

Where are we now? We are still bringing in billions of dollars' worth of foreign oil. This foreign oil is produced in countries with lower environmental standards than we have in Canada, with lower human rights standards than we have in Canada and with lower technologies than we have in Canada.

That is the type of choice the Prime Minister and the government have been making. They have been penalizing Canadian resource workers and the companies and businesses that supply the resource sector from right across the country.

A lot of people think that the only jobs affected are those in Alberta or those in the oil sands projects, but those jobs stretch far further than that. I live in the North Okanagan—Shuswap, the south central part of British Columbia, a long way from the Alberta oil sands, but it is very close for some of the businesses and workers in my communities. I visited a machine shop that builds the highest-quality parts and pieces for the oil sector, everything from pipefittings to brackets and attachments used in the oil sector.

When I visited that machine shop and talked to the managers and people there, the pride they took in the quality of products they built, because of the technology that is developed out of the resource sector in Canada, was second to none. They manufacture and machine to a higher quality than anywhere else in the world, and it is because of one thing. It is because we have a strong resource sector in Canada.

They have seen their technology work. They have continuously improved on it. They have decided to go into a niche market of only looking at that top-end, high-quality, high environmental standard, high safety standard product, because there are people and businesses all over the world competing for the 20-year-old technology that is used in some of those countries I just referred to, which have lower environmental standards, lower human rights standards and lower worker safety standards.

The government continues to penalize Canadians for being innovative, for being creative and for taking the risk. They sometimes risk millions of dollars, their personal investments and their family homes to build a business or an industry that is reliant on the Canadian resource sector.

This bill is another step in that direction. The government is taking what we had done in a previous government in reducing the size of bureaucracy, making it easier for projects to move forward still with our the same high environmental standards. Now the Liberals are splitting it up, making it so that a major project like the Mackenzie Valley pipeline would have to go through multiple individual steps all the way through. The bill would do that kind of thing. As I mentioned, Bill C-88 is similar to many other bills in some other ways.

I am very familiar with Bill C-55, the Oceans Act, and the unilateral power that that bill would give to the minister, the unilateral power to shut down activities in an area, regardless of whether there would be scientific evidence as to the effects or not. Bill C-68 does much the same thing.

Bill C-69, which has been referred to as the “never do anything ever again” bill, is now in the Senate, I believe.

Those bills would give unprecedented unilateral power to ministers to make a decision to shut down activities without it being based on science, without it being based on debate.

The other one, which we saw for the first time, was in Bill C-68, the Fisheries Act. There is a paragraph in there that says that the minister on making decisions on a project must consider the intersection of sex and gender into his decision-making process. We saw that clause and it baffled us. What does that mean in a Fisheries Act bill? We also have to wonder what it means in a resource act bill.

The briefing that we received, to summarize and really simplify it, meant that any project moving forward had to look at the impact of outside workers coming into a community, for example, the impact of growth in the community, the impact of, as I said, sex and gender in the project. That did not seem too bad, all in itself, until the Prime Minister actually was questioned on it and started referring to resource and construction workers as a threat to communities. I believe he called them “dangerous” and said that they could present a danger to those communities. We heard the outcry from people in communities where they had seen the benefits of those projects. They absolutely could not believe those construction workers could be considered a threat.

We see this trend continuing, with the government attempting to shut down anything that resembles a major resource project. Those projects are going to be needed if Canada is to continue to prosper and thrive as we move forward. We know countries with strong economies create the best environmental conditions and protect their environments better than others. However, the government seems to want to take away anything that would allow benefits and prosperity in our country. We have seen it in the government's previous budgets, in which it attempted to attack small business or attack family farms and the succession planning of small business to pass their family businesses and farms on to their family members. It would cost them as much as four times higher to sell the family farm to a family member than to a total stranger or a foreign entity. It is an absolutely atrocious attack on small business and family farms.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional lands of the Algonquin people.

The bill before us today would not only resolve the litigation resulting from the attempt to amalgamate land and water boards in 2014, but also improve the regulatory regime. The Northwest Territories Devolution Act made a number of changes to the Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act, which provides the legislative framework for the regulatory regime.

One of the changes was to amalgamate the Northwest Territories' four land and water boards into a single entity. Two indigenous governments challenged the amalgamation in court, and the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories granted an injunction that halted amalgamation and other changes designed to make the regulatory regime more effective.

As my hon. colleagues know, in order to work effectively, a regulatory regime must continually earn the trust of project proponents and the general public. It does that by working in a steady, fair, reliable and predictable manner.

This description applies to the resource development regime in the Northwest Territories. The current four-board structure works wonderfully. However, there is always room for improvement. This bill ensures that the current structure will be maintained and adds improvements that were proposed over four years ago.

In reality, the changes proposed in Bill C-88 seek to make the regime more fair, reliable, predictable and efficient. It clearly serves the interests of northerners and all Canadians.

One example of how the changes will improve the regime relates to the members of the boards responsible for reviewing proposed projects.

There are five boards in all: the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, the Sahtu Land and Water Board, the Gwich’in Land and Water Board, the Wek'èezhìi Land and Water Board and the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. One or more of these boards can be authorized to conduct a regulatory review, depending on the nature and location of the proposed project.

The Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act sets out the quorum required for some of the boards' activities. For example, a board cannot issue a permit unless it has the minimum number of members. That is completely appropriate because the boards' decisions often have significant consequences. To ensure that the five boards always make sound decisions, each one is made up of members from various backgrounds with different perspectives. This diversity is one of the boards' greatest assets. It helps them consider every nuance from different angles.

The members' diversity also fosters strong public trust in the boards' decisions. Naturally, in some cases, a member may not be able to participate in certain board activities because of illness or some other legitimate reason, but that should be the exception, not the rule.

The Government of Canada realizes it can be difficult for northern boards to maintain a quorum, partly because of how hard it is to recruit and retain members with the necessary experience and expertise.

To help the boards overcome this challenge, Bill C-88 would authorize them to extend the terms of individual members if the term expires during a review. That would help guarantee that the boards maintain a quorum throughout the reviews.

The bill states that the board must request the extension at least two months before the day on which the member's term expires. The request must be submitted to the minister. The temporary extension of the board member's term will end when the review that is in progress at the time of the request is concluded.

The Northwest Territories' five regulatory boards are responsible for conducting complex reviews that often include hearings, scientific reports and economic forecasts. The reviews can take months to complete. It is common for new information and perspectives to emerge during a review. Board members who have been continuously involved in a review are better equipped to understand and contextualize new information and perspectives.

The five boards make decisions that can have a profound impact not only on ecosystems, but also on local and national communities. Given the magnitude of these decisions, the boards need to be part of a modern, functional regulatory regime.

Not only does Bill C-88 propose a mechanism to support continuity, but it also makes a number of other improvements to the regulatory regime. The bill currently before the House establishes an efficient inspection and enforcement system. Under that system, proponents would be required to abide by the conditions imposed by a board when it approves a project following an environmental assessment. These conditions would be clearly set out in a document called a development certificate.

To ensure that proponents are fulfilling their obligations, inspectors would be authorized to carry out activities like site visits. Proponents who do not use valid development certificates, who fail to comply with the conditions set out in the certificate or who interfere with the work of inspectors could face stiff penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

As my hon. colleagues must understand by now, Bill C-88 proposes a long list of measures that will considerably improve the regulatory regime in the Northwest Territories. The bill currently before the House makes improvements to a regime that is already functional and efficient. Such a regime will help maintain the respect and trust of Canadians, proponents and investors. It will help ensure that resource development projects strike an appropriate balance between economic, social and environmental goals. For all these reasons, Bill C-88 deserves the support of the House.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 4:40 p.m.
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Saint Boniface—Saint Vital Manitoba

Liberal

Dan Vandal LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on this traditional Algonquin territory to explain my support for Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

The legislation before us proposes to strike a more appropriate balance between economic development and environmental protection in Canada's north.

As my hon. colleagues recognize, Canada is blessed with an abundance of valuable natural resources, vast forests as well as deposits of minerals, oil and gas. Throughout our history, these resources have been the cornerstones of the economy and while the national economy grows ever more diverse thanks to the rise of other sectors, resource development remains crucial to national prosperity.

Resource development projects create jobs, generate export sales and stimulate technological innovation. Tempering these benefits, however, are the environmental and the social impacts of resource extraction and development. These include pollution, destruction of ecosystems and changes in the fabric of communities and traditional indigenous ways. Throughout much of our nation's history, while we relied on resource development for our prosperity and growth, we often failed to appreciate and to take into account its long-term environmental and social consequences. Thankfully, this view is no longer prevalent.

To strike a better balance between economic and environmental concerns, Canada has developed a unique regulatory regime that governs resource development projects in the north, a regime that is co-managed with indigenous partners. The regime requires that proposed projects undergo stringent reviews of anticipated impacts. Review processes are structured for fairness, transparency, effectiveness and to consider traditional knowledge. Members of the public, along with stakeholder groups, are encouraged to participate in project reviews and the decisions of review boards are published for everyone to see.

The regulatory regime helps to ensure that resource projects maximize potential economic benefits and minimize potential environmental impacts. In this way, it restores public confidence, creates certainty and predictability, which are so important to industry, and sets the foundation for a sustainable and long-term natural resource industry in the north.

To maintain an appropriate balance between these concerns, the regulatory regime evolves continually as our country evolves and as our understanding of the environment and of resource development deepens. In the north in particular, the settlement of modern land claims has enabled the creation of unique systems of governance in co-operation with indigenous partners.

The proposed legislation now before us lays out a series of amendments to the regulatory regime that governs resource development in the Northwest Territories. The roots of Bill C-88 stretch back to a series of amendments made to the regulatory regime in 2014. Some of the amendments provoked indigenous communities in the Northwest Territories to initiate court actions against the Government of Canada. The Tlicho Government and Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated filed similar court challenges that effectively put a halt to some of the 2014 amendments.

Since 2015, the Government of Canada has launched a concerted effort to address the concerns that had provoked indigenous communities to initiate court actions. The primary issue is the amalgamation of four regional land and water boards into a single entity: the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. To resolve this issue, representatives of the Government of Canada consulted with indigenous groups, the Government of the Northwest Territories and industry. The Government of Canada then drafted a legislative proposal, shared it with all interested partners and made changes to it in response to the feedback we received. The proposed legislation now before us is the product of this co-operative conciliatory process.

Among other changes, Bill C-88 would end amalgamation, reinstate the regional land and water boards and effectively end the court challenges.

The proposed legislation would promote reconciliation with indigenous peoples, a key priority for this country.

The proposed legislation now before us would also resolve a different problem created by the court challenges related to board amalgamation. To simplify a complex story, the court challenges effectively put a halt not only to amalgamation but to several policy measures that were central to the regulatory regime. These included the use of development certificates and the necessary enforcement scheme, inspector notice requirements on Gwich'in and Sahtu lands and other measures. Bill C-88 would reinstate these measures through specific amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.

Another effect of Bill C-88 would be to further strengthen environmental protections in the Arctic, home to some of the world's most fragile ecosystems. The effects of climate change are more evident in the Arctic and appear to be progressing more quickly than anywhere else.

In 2016, Canada agreed to take a series of actions to better protect the Arctic. Chief among these was a moratorium on the issuance of new oil and gas rights in Canada's Arctic offshore region, subject to a five-year, science-based review. To ensure the appropriateness of these actions, the Government of Canada initiated year-long consultations with territorial and northern indigenous governments and with existing Arctic offshore oil and gas rights holders to discuss their interests. These consultations highlighted the importance of protecting the Arctic's unique offshore environment while pursuing safe, responsible activities that create jobs and economic opportunities in northern indigenous economies.

The consultations featured many discussions about how best to balance environmental and economic concerns. The result of the consultations was the series of amendments before us in Bill C-88 concerning the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

First, to complement the moratorium on the issuance of new licences, which our Prime Minister announced in 2018, the amendments would allow us to prohibit any oil and gas exploration or development activities under existing exploration and significant discovery licences in the Arctic offshore.

Furthermore, the proposed amendments would fix a gap in the current legislative regime regarding existing licences and the five-year, science-based review. The legislation as it now stands does not allow licences to be suspended to allow for the review to unfold as required. In fact, some existing Arctic offshore oil and gas rights will begin to expire before the next review period is over. Bill C-88 proposes to resolve this issue by allowing the government to preserve existing rights until the review is completed. At that point, we would have a better understanding of the next steps for Arctic offshore oil and gas.

These amendments would be fair to the existing rights holders and would produce an effective compromise. The scientific research could be completed without any pressure associated with existing oil and gas activity in the region, while existing oil and gas rights could not expire in the meantime.

Bill C-88 proposes to improve the regulatory regime in the north through a series of amendments informed by several important developments, including court challenges, the accelerated impact of climate change in the Arctic and the opportunity to foster reconciliation between indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada. The amendments proposed in Bill C-88 would increase the predictability, consistency and timeliness of regulatory reviews in the north while strengthening environmental protections.

Northerners deserve a fully functional modernized regulatory regime that meets their particular needs, the kind of regime that promotes growth and prosperity while safeguarding fragile ecosystems, the kind of regime that strikes an appropriate balance between economic and environmental concerns.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, I think my colleague and I would both agree that the people of the Northwest Territories know best how their resources should be used and managed. I agree with his assessment of what happened with the previous Conservative government. It ignored the spirit, intent and the word of constitutionally protected land claims and self-government agreements. It failed to listen, and it has led to lengthy legal battles.

Generally we support Bill C-88. At the same time, there is an important opportunity here for the government to put into action the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although it is not included in the bill, I would like to hear my hon. colleague's comments about his support for including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in this bill.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, it is my turn to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, at second reading. This bill was introduced by the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade on November 8, 2018.

Before I begin, I would like to say that I have never had the opportunity to visit these northern territories, but I have made two trips to Nunavik, in Quebec's far north. Once someone goes to these areas and speaks with the people who live in Canada's far north, they gain a completely different view, a different perspective, of northerners' potential and desire for self-determination, their desire to take charge of their land. During my two visits, I felt that the people in this area truly wanted to look after their own affairs and contribute to Canada's social and economic development in their own way. They want to be a part of this great big country that we share.

The bill consists of two parts. Part 1 amends the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. It repeals the provisions that would consolidate the Mackenzie Valley land and water boards into a single board. Those provisions were introduced by the previous Conservative government in Bill C-15. Part 2 amends the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to allow the Governor in Council to issue orders to prohibit oil and gas activities, freeze the terms of existing licences and prevent them from expiring during a moratorium, if it is in the national interest to do so.

Part 1 undoes what the Conservatives did, and part 2 announces that the Liberal government is going to make things worse. That is what I get from Bill C-88. Overall, what I get from Bill C-88 is that it is a Liberal anti-energy policy that will drive even more energy investments out of Canada. It will cost Canadian workers their jobs, and that certainly will not help improve the quality of life of residents of northern Canada. Bill C-88 reveals a full rejection of calls from elected territorial leaders for increased control of their natural resources.

The previous government believed the north would be a key economic driver for decades to come. Other Arctic nations, such as China and Russia, are exploring similar opportunities. Unfortunately, the Liberal government decided to take a different tack.

I was mayor of Thetford Mines for seven years. My community has grappled with major problems. It was an asbestos mining community where companies dug up white gold, as it was known then, for years. We see asbestos in an entirely different light now. For years, we were exploited by outsiders who came into our community and left nothing but deep scars, from mountains of tailings to infrastructure that still mars the landscape. We wish we had had a say in all of those projects. We wish we could have played a role and worked with the people who operated the mines. We could have influenced how it was done, and we definitely could have told them where to put the massive piles of tailings, how to dispose of it all, and how to improve our people's quality of life.

In some territories, when one is elected to represent a community, the more control that territory has over its own affairs, the more one can contribute, the more decisions are made at the local level, and the more one understands the impact of decisions. Unfortunately, in this case, just before Christmas 2016, the Liberal government cavalierly decided to force the territories to do things its way.

During a trip to Washington, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to announce a moratorium. There was no consultation with people in the north, despite the same old tune from the Liberals that consultation is important. Despite the countless consultations that were held in this case, the Liberal government did not feel obliged to consult the people of the north. The decision was made unilaterally by the Prime Minister's Office. Then we learn that the leaders of these territories were informed just one hour before the government announced important changes that would affect them.

I will quote the leaders of the affected communities. The Premier of the Northwest Territories published a red alert for a national emergency debate on the future of the Northwest Territories. He said that the promises of the north are fading and the dreams of northerners are dying as we watch a resurgence of colonialism. Whether we are talking about ill-conceived ways to fund social programs or new, disconcerting restrictions on their economic development, he says, their spirit and energy are being eroded.

Then, he said that staying in the middle class or trying to join it is becoming a distant dream for many. He says that means that northerners, through their democratically elected government, have to have the power to determine their own destiny and that we can no longer allow the bureaucrats and governments in Ottawa to make the decisions. He says that decisions concerning the north have to be made in the north. He says that unilateral decisions made by the federal government without consultation to impose a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic is just an example of how their economic self-determination is thwarted in Ottawa.

The Premier of the Northwest Territories was rather quick to respond.

In an interview on national television on December 22, 2016, another premier, the Premier of Nunavut, said that they want to get to a point where they can make their own determination of their priorities, and the way to do that, he said, is by gaining meaningful revenue from resource development. Meanwhile, when one potential revenue source is taken off the table, it puts them back at practically square one, where Ottawa will make the decisions for them.

Those statements are rather clear. These are not extremists who wanted to attack the government. They just wanted to be consulted on important decisions related to natural resource development on their lands. It is important to hear those messages and act accordingly. When the government is making these kinds of decisions, it is even more important to avoid concentrating too much power within one office, in other words, the Prime Minister's Office. This helps ensure that decisions are not made for purely political reasons. That is unfortunately what happens when the PMO is given so much decision-making power that a moratorium can be imposed without having to consult.

On October 22, 2018, the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk said the following to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs:

I was talking to [the Liberal member for the Northwest Territories], and he said, “Yes, Merven, we should be doing something. We should be helping you guys.”

I agree the Liberals should be helping us. They shut down our offshore gasification and put a moratorium right across the whole freaking Arctic without even consulting us. They never said a word to us.

We're proud people who like to work for a living. We're not used to getting social assistance and that kind of stuff. Now we're getting tourists coming up, but that's small change...[We don't just want to sell] trinkets and T-shirts and that kind of stuff.

Those messages are clear. I hope that the government will listen to elected officials from these territories and reconsider Bill C-88.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's question.

I think that everyone involved should have a say on the future of their territory and on natural resource development. Bill C-88 calls for exactly that; it would let those involved decide.

However, in Bill C-88, some decisions are already made without consultation with these same governments and are inconsistent with what they want. This is what we want to avoid.

The government cannot do things and then say it will consult these governments for everything else. Unfortunately this is what happened with Bill C-88. This is unfortunate and is why we cannot agree with or adopt a bill like this. In retrospect, it is easy to support something when you have not been consulted and then pick up the pieces afterwards.

This is quite unfortunate for elected officials in these territories, which is why we will stand with them on this matter.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 5:10 p.m.
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Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in support of a bill that would make a positive difference in the relationship between indigenous peoples and the Crown. In starting my speech, I acknowledge that I stand here on traditional unceded Algonquin territory.

Today we are holding a second reading debate on Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. I will use the time allotted to me to speak about the amendments to both of these and to speak a bit about the issue of Arctic offshore oil exploration.

First, I want to start with some context around the Mackenzie Valley. To understand the mess that we are fixing right now, one has to rewind the clock, back to the 1970s.

In 1974, the federal government, under the Right Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, appointed Justice Thomas Berger of the Supreme Court of British Columbia to hold hearings into a proposed natural gas pipeline down the Mackenzie Valley.

At that time, the Dene and the Inuvialuit were asserting their claims to these traditional lands. The Berger Inquiry broke with tradition by hearing evidence, offered not merely by the pipeline companies but also by residents in more than 30 small communities in the Northwest Territories.

The Berger Inquiry heard from over 1,000 indigenous people in seven languages and over 500 southern voices were there as well to give their opinions. The process was groundbreaking. The federal government funded research by indigenous, environmental and community groups. Justice Berger enabled media participation that brought Canadians from far and wide, from coast to coast to coast, into the proceeding.

In May 1977, Berger recommended that, for environmental reasons, no pipeline should ever be built along the northern coastal plains. Although Berger concluded that an environmentally sound pipeline could be built through the Mackenzie Valley, he urged a 10-year moratorium on pipeline construction in the region to allow time to settle indigenous land claims. Ottawa, the federal government, endorsed his recommendations.

This concluded in the delaying of any construction on the pipeline in the Mackenzie Valley and was seen as a turning point in indigenous Canadian relations. In amassing over 40,000 pages of documentation, it also provided a unique and comprehensive window into the Dene and Inuvialuit political resurgence of the 1970s. There would be no turning back on consultations with indigenous people after this inquiry; the precedent was set.

Public sympathy and interest in both indigenous and environmental concerns were heightened as a result of the Berger Inquiry. It was a watershed event for reconciliation. It allowed first nations to speak about their history, their issues related to the land, their culture and the impacts that the southern man's projects would have on their communities.

What we have learned from the Berger Inquiry of the 1970s is that when we consult with indigenous people, we take a first step toward our commitment to reconciliation. We learned lessons that ultimately led to regional land claims agreements and the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act of 1998.

The 1998 Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act put in place an integrated system for the co-management of the land and waters in the Mackenzie Valley in the Northwest Territories. This act established two boards with jurisdiction over the entire valley, namely the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board and the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board.

Three regional land and water boards were created for the Gwich'in settlement area, the Sahtu settlement area and the Tlicho settlement area, pursuant to the Gwich'in, the Sahtu Dene and Metis and the Tlicho land claim agreements, which conferred on these boards the responsibility for issuing land use permits and water licensing.

Fast forward to 2014, when the Harper administration passed the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, it consolidated four indigenous regulatory boards into one, without their agreement, and in so doing, stifled the voices of indigenous people. It flew in the face of lessons learned through the Berger Inquiry, where we learned of the importance of indigenous people's voices, of incorporating indigenous communities in governance processes.

That is why our government's Bill C-88 is so important. We are fixing the mess of the previous Harper administration.

That is why our government's bill, Bill C-88, is so important. We are fixing the mess of the Harper administration.

The Northwest Territories Devolution Act, the infamous Bill C-15 introduced by the Harper government, transferred land and water management to the Government of the Northwest Territories and amended three existing acts, including the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. It included the restructuring of the land and water boards and the elimination of regional boards.

The Tlicho government was totally against those changes and filed a statement of claim before the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories, stating that the Harper government had no right to unilaterally abolish the Wek'èezhìi Land and Water Board because such action would go against its land claims agreement and right to self-government. It added that consultation had been inadequate and that the act violated constitutional promises made to that first nation.

The Tlicho government and Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated sought injunctions in July 2014 and February 2015 respectively in order to maintain their respective water boards until the major issues in their statements could be resolved.

I will cite the court decision on the injunction, because it is just so damning and clearly indicates why we had to come and clean up the mess. It says:

The Tlicho government has raised a reasonable possibility that Canada has overstepped the bounds of what it is permitted to do under the Tlicho Agreement. ...there is a reasonable likelihood the Tlicho Government will suffer...irreparable losses...as a result of a breach of a constitutionally protected right. ...irreparable harm could result from the breach of a constitutionally protected right. This is particularly so where the legislation...will have the effect of dismantling and disrupting existing infrastructure which will then have to be rebuilt.

The court granted an injunction suspending the application of subsection 253(2) of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, which would have brought into effect the provisions related to the restructuring and other regulatory amendments.

In November 2015, the newly appointed Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, began discussions with indigenous organizations and governments in the Northwest Territories in order to make the legislative changes needed to resolve this issue. The amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act are the result of those discussions and discussions with other regional stakeholders.

We have learned from the past that an effective regulatory body and thorough consultation processes are necessary to consider the needs of those directly impacted by these projects. Transparent and thorough consultation also promotes sound decision-making, and it ultimately will help create better projects that will deliver more benefits to regional communities and to the workers.

This is why Bill C-88 seeks to consult with rights holders and northern indigenous governments when it comes to oil and gas projects in the northern offshore, by making consequential amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, or CPRA.

I will provide some context on the history of Canada's Arctic offshore oil and gas issue. Oil spills in offshore regions across the world have underlined the importance of a precautionary approach when operating in fragile marine ecological environments. The BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico put Canada on alert, and Arctic offshore as a possibility was, and still is, seen in that light. We are aware of the vulnerabilities of any marine ecosystem to a potential blowout, and this is especially true for the unique and fragile marine ecology of the Beaufort Sea.

Canadians can be proud that our Liberal government collaborated with the Obama administration to establish a moratorium on Arctic offshore drilling and the issuance of more licences on the basis of the precautionary principle and of science and traditional knowledge.

We know that oil and gas exploration has been part of the northwest economy for many years, so much so that it is part of the 1984 Inuvialuit Final Agreement and the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. However, at the same time, we know that northerners and southerners, indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, and all Canadians can agree that a catastrophic blowout in the deep water of the Beaufort Sea could cripple the Inuvialuit way of living and their future prospects. This is another reason this bill is important.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

April 9th, 2019 / 5:25 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-88. Despite the use of time allocation, I appreciate that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons earlier today said she would make efforts to give me a chance to speak and has done so. Even with abbreviated debate, I am therefore able to speak to this legislation.

I am also able to speak to what happened to this legislation when the Northwest Territories Devolution Act was brought forward in the 41st Parliament in 2014. It was something everyone wanted to support, but there were many measures with that act that were offensive to the foundational principles of self-government and respect for treaties.

In fact, the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, the Gwich'in Land and Water Board, the Sahtu Land and Water Board and the Wek’eezhii Tlicho Land and Water Board, all of which were the result of treaty negotiations between the Crown and those nations, were callously, carelessly, disrespectfully and completely violated with the notion that we could replace them with something described as more efficient.

I protested those changes at the time, as did the previous NDP member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, Dennis Bevington. We tried quite hard to persuade the 41st Parliament that it was wrong to change the law in this way.

Subsequent to the changes being made, a number of the boards that were impacted went to court to challenge what had just happened. The notion of a superboard was deeply offensive to the principle that had been there, which was that the land and water boards represented fifty-fifty decision-making between first nations and the federal government. It would have reduced the self-government that the Northwest Territories Devolution Act was supposed to respect. It would have taken away rights and reduced the scope of review by those various boards.

Earlier today in debate I heard a Conservative member say that Bill C-88 was another effort by the Liberal government to interfere with development, to thwart development and to drive investment away from Canada.

I am saddened by that kind of commentary. I agree with a number of criticisms of the Liberal government. There are a lot of measures being taken that I find far short of what is required, particularly when looking at the climate crisis, and far short of what is required when looking at the need for thorough environmental assessment. There was a commitment in the election to undo the damage that had been done by the Harper administration in a number of areas, and so far the Liberal government has done really well in some areas and less well in others.

It did extremely well in undoing discriminatory legislation towards trade unions, and that was done relatively quickly by the former member of cabinet responsible for labour issues.

The Liberal government did an extremely good job on a piece of legislation that is still before the Senate, Bill C-68, to repair the Fisheries Act. Bill C-68 not only repairs the damage that was done by the previous prime minister and his government and not only brings back protections for fish habitat. It also expands and improves other protections for habitat. It is an extremely important piece of legislation and I hope it passes quickly.

It is also complementary to a piece of legislation that I hope will be passed here. Earlier today in the House, the hon. member for Avalon, the chair of the fisheries committee, presented the report, and Bill S-203 is now back before the House. I hope we move to report stage and third reading expeditiously.

Bill C-68, which I am referencing, is also complementary in saying that we are now going to ban the taking of cetaceans into captivity in Canadian waters.

Again, all of these bills speak to undoing the damage done by the previous government, but Bill C-68 goes beyond that with more progressive measures.

Unfortunately, Bill C-69 is also before the Senate. I hope it will be amended and sent back here quickly. The Minister of Transport did an excellent job of repairing the former Navigable Waters Protection Act. There are some innovative changes to energy regulations. Unfortunately, the middle piece of legislation in that omnibus bill, the one on environmental review, does not undo the damage of the previous government, but rather keeps it in place.

However, this legislation is excellent in that it would actually undo the damage the previous government had done. It would set back in place the integrity of self-government, of decisions for land and water boards that reflect the negotiations under self-government agreements and treaties. Now that we are debating this bill at second reading, I would certainly like to see this bill in committee so that it could receive one or two additional amendments.

As was mentioned on the floor of the House earlier today when we started second reading debate of Bill C-88, given the content, the context and the need to take a step further and be more progressive than merely repairing, we should say that this bill operates under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That would be a very welcome amendment and, assuming this bill gets to committee and we are in a position to put forward amendments during clause-by-clause consideration, it is one that the committee can expect to hear from the Green Party.

I certainly support this bill, including the provisions to allow moratoria on drilling to affect such decisions based on evidence. I do hope the bill passes. I would like to see it pass with an amendment to ensure that it operates under the terms of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.