moved that Bill S-245, An Act to declare the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project and related works to be for the general advantage of Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, it is with great urgency for Canada that I speak today in support of Bill S-245, the Trans Mountain pipeline project act. Thousands of workers and their families from the construction, steel fabrication and manufacturing, and oil and gas sectors want the Liberals to take meaningful action to get their jobs back.
As a result of the Liberals' failure to enforce federal jurisdiction since their approval of the Trans Mountain expansion nearly two years ago and their failure in the review before that, as ruled by the Federal Court of Appeal on August 30, more than 2,000 workers were laid off. Another 5,000 more were counting on jobs about to begin in the next couple of months and several thousand expected jobs from the pipeline in the next couple of years. All of these families are now wondering about their future.
That is why I thank Senator Doug Black for introducing the bill in the other place and the 78% of senators from all regions in Canada who supported it. Getting the Trans Mountain expansion built is in the best interests of all Canadians. It would provide high-paying jobs now when Canadians need them more than ever and it would create and sustain thousands of jobs in many different sectors across Canada long into the future.
It would generate revenue, skills training and jobs in 43 indigenous communities. It would provide billions of dollars in new tax revenues to all levels of government in B.C. and Alberta, and pay for health care, pensions, schools, bridges and roads across Canada. It would move the most responsibly produced oil in the world, Canadian oil, to markets in the U.S. and the Asia Pacific.
Today, the Trans Mountain expansion is stopped. It is the culmination of an economic, investment, regulatory, jurisdictional and interprovincial crisis of confidence in Canada that has been escalating for years, perpetuated by the Liberals.
Failure is not an option. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty said failure would send “a profoundly negative message to investors both here at home and around the world about Canada's regulatory system and our ability to get things done”.
Uncertainty caused by anti-energy policies and messages from the Liberals has already done so much damage, caused so many job losses and driven billions out of Canada. Every day of delay on the Trans Mountain expansion makes it worse. That is why all members of Parliament should support the bill.
For months, Liberals repeated they would not accept undue or “unnecessary delays” without ever defining them, that “no province can impinge on the national interest”, but never actually did anything; that “we are considering all options” which is, mind boggling, and what they are still saying, the pipeline “will be built”, but construction never actually started, despite the photo ops and press conferences.
Senator Black tabled the bill on February 15. On April 8, Kinder Morgan halted work and set a deadline for clear assurances from the Liberals that ongoing roadblocks and delays would be removed so it could proceed. On April 10, cabinet had an emergency meeting, after which ministers gave media 97 seconds of platitudes and left.
On April 16 the Prime Minister and other ministers were widely quoted saying the Liberals would introduce legislation imminently to “reassert and reinforce” federal authority over the Trans Mountain expansion. The Prime Minister failed to deliver the legislation he promised and this week he mocked the idea.
On May 22, a week before Kinder Morgan's deadline, the Senate passed Bill S-245. Between May 22 and May 31 the Bloc, the NDP and then the Liberals denied my three separate asks to get unanimous consent to expedite this bill for debate in the House so MPs could give the certainty requested by Kinder Morgan and they denied it yet again today.
Then the Liberals announced the federal government would purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Minister of Finance said, “If Kinder Morgan is not interested in building the project, we think plenty of investors would be interested in taking on this project”. That was shocking in itself since Kinder Morgan had already worked for years to prepare for its $7.4-billion investment and had already spent hundreds of millions, while meeting hundreds of conditions and fighting to build it for 17 months since the Liberals' official approval; manifestly not a lack of interest.
Then, of course, the Finance Minister failed to find a single other investor or buyer, while he also promised “to guarantee the summer construction season for the workers who are counting on it, and to ensure the project is built to completion in a timely fashion”.
On July 31, the current Minister of Natural Resources announced the start of construction at a press conference where the head of the now government-owned Trans Mountain Corporation clarified immediately that new pipeline would not actually start getting in the ground until “early next year”. Then, on August 30, the day the $4.5-billion purchase was completed, which divested Kinder Morgan from Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the Liberals had failed to adequately consult first nations in the process they initiated, oversaw and managed, during their review of Trans Mountain's regulatory application in 2016, before they approved it, which they have assured Canadians all along would ensure the Trans Mountain expansion could be built.
As always, the Liberals are blaming everyone and everything else for all their failures.
The court decision is clear, and the context is important. In June 2014, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling on the duty to consult indigenous people on project development.
In June 2016, three months after the Liberals were elected, the approval of northern gateway was overturned by the Federal Court of Appeal. However, instead of trying to fulfill the measures in the court ruling through new consultations with first nations, especially in light of the 31 indigenous agreements supporting northern gateway worth $2 billion at stake, to enable that major, crucial export infrastructure to proceed, and to get it right for future proposals, the Prime Minister vetoed it outright and completely.
For the Trans Mountain expansion application, which along with all others had been frozen by the Liberals since January, the Minister of Natural Resources appointed a three member ministerial panel to consult with first nations on May 27, 2016, which reported back in November 2016, and the federal cabinet approved the Trans Mountain expansion in the national interest on the 30th of that month.
When multiple legal challenges and protests started immediately, the Liberals assured all Canadians that their review and approval would withstand a court challenge and they specifically cited the ruling on northern gateway as the impetus for their process that they claimed would guarantee the Trans Mountain expansion would proceed.
However, the Federal Court of Appeal said the Liberals' consultation with first nations on Trans Mountain between May and November 2016 “fell well short of the minimum requirements”. It confirms a total failure of meaningful two-way engagement while misleading participants and a failure to attempt accommodation by the Liberals with first nations. It is just the latest in a long pattern of the Liberals saying one thing and doing another.
The other major part of the ruling is the consideration of the impact of tanker traffic on orca whales. What is galling is the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans said he would come back to cabinet “with precise regulatory elements that will ensure that we have mitigated the effect of the noise, and things like access to prey—chinook management—and (ensure) land-based pollutants that contaminate certain bodies of water in which these whales are resident are reduced and/or eliminated”. This was at the same time as the Liberal approval of Trans Mountain.
The minister then failed to introduce any of it, denying a key defence for the Liberals' approval, because of yet another failure. The minister should have been on top of it and prepared, because the fact is the risk is not exclusive to Trans Mountain. He, himself, on September 12, said:
You have to put this in context. The noise from a container ship is no different than the noise from an oil tanker. And there are between 3,000 and 3,500 container ships that come into the Port of Vancouver. There are thousands of BC Ferries, and there are tens of thousands of recreational boaters out there. So if you are going to save these whales, the mitigation has to be much broader than a few more oil tankers. It has to relate to how we're managing shipping generally.
That is what the minister said, and he failed to do anything about it.
As of today, the Liberals have still failed to provide a comprehensive plan and even blocked the mutual requests of Conservative and NDP MPs for emergency meetings of both the natural resources and indigenous and northern affairs committees for ministers to explain their failures on the Trans Mountain review, to answer for the 4.5 billion tax dollars they spent, and to account to the pipeline's owners—all Canadians—their next steps to get the expansion back on track.
Western Canadians are angry, frustrated, and they feel betrayed by the Liberals. The majority of Canadians across the country who resoundingly support the Trans Mountain expansion are losing hope. It is no wonder why, when the Prime Minister said that Canada should phase out the oil sands and that he regrets Canada cannot get off oil tomorrow, and he defended tax dollars going to summer jobs explicitly for activists to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project.
What is especially disappointing is the way the Prime Minister and the Liberals' failures are sacrificing the best and national interests of Canadians to obstructionist activities initiated and funded to serve the national and competitive ambitions of other countries and Canada's competitors.
The Financial Post, the Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail, and multiple other media outlets have reported on a leaked document dubbed the Kinder Morgan “Action Hive Proposal”, penned by 350.org, a foreign anti-oil protest group, which outlines a strategy by an anti-energy coalition to block the Trans Mountain expansion.
The Financial Post revealed that Tides Canada “has granted $40 million to 100 Canadian anti-pipeline organizations”, which in turn fight to stop Canadian energy development and access to export markets.
In 2016, Tides Canada quietly shut down its international donation matching system that allowed U.S. donors to donate to the Canadian foundation but still receive a tax receipt for the U.S. foundation.
On September 12, it was reported that since 2014, the City of Burnaby spent $1.12 million in legal costs to fight the Trans Mountain expansion.
The only objective of these efforts is to stop the pipeline altogether through “death by delay”, using every tool in their tool box, as they said they would. It is not to achieve a reasonable, evidence-based conclusion in the broad best interests of all Canadians, and nothing will ever earn a so-called "social license" from it. This is why every MP needs to vote for this legislation, for Canada.
The purpose of Bill S-245 is to declare the Trans Mountain pipeline project and all related works to be for the general advantage of Canada, a declaratory power that has been used more than 450 times before to enable major approved infrastructure like bridges, railways and electricity. Once the power is used and affirmed by Parliament, all secondary works and everything related to the construction of the pipeline, including all local roads, bridges, power connections, the terminal and its ongoing operation and maintenance, will be in federal jurisdiction. This is important, given existing threats to attempt to restrict the volume in the expansion even if it ever gets built.
This is an important preventative measure. The City of Burnaby said that there was still possible challenges going ahead. The B.C. NDP talks about attempting to restrict that flow for future B.C. governments. Therefore, the bill would mitigate future obstructionist attempts by other levels of governments and clarify challenges and disagreements over jurisdiction, providing certainty that there would be no further successful impediments to the project's completion.
It would also give a strong signal to the private sector that Canada would enforce the division of powers, jurisdictional rights and responsibilities, and stand up for Canada's national interest with real action to give certainty that when an approval and permits were granted in Canada it actually would mean something.
Some have questioned the need for this bill and said that Trans Mountain is already federal jurisdiction. As Senator Black made clear in his statements, in order to utilize the provisions that would place all of Trans Mountain's secondary works under federal jurisdiction, there must be an explicit declaration. It cannot simply be implied that a work is for the general advantage of Canada.
This has been done in legislation four times: the Detroit River Canadian Bridge Company Act of 1928; the Hudson Bay Mining declaration of 1947; the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway of 1947; and an act respecting CN Rail, which provided the amalgam of rail companies that formed CN Rail in 1955. In each of those pieces of legislation, there is an express declaration, and these are only four examples, that this work is for the general advantage of Canada. This is why Parliament needs to declare Trans Mountain to be for the general advantage of Canada, to reinforce federal jurisdiction.
The reality is that the Liberals had opportunities to pass this bill quickly this spring to avoid having to spend $4.5 billion on the Trans Mountain pipeline, which will go to build pipelines in the United States. They blocked that at every attempt. They voted against two motions this spring, calling for the Liberals to share their plan for getting Trans Mountain built. Most recently, they used their majority to block two parliamentary committees from getting the answers Canadians were demanding.
Since they formed government, the Liberals have failed to give industry the certainty they require to invest in large projects; failed to get construction going on the Trans Mountain expansion this summer, which they promised; failed to find another buyer for the existing Trans Mountain pipeline; failed to consult first nations adequately, leading to months or years of project delays, and putting all the indigenous mutual benefit agreements at risk; and failed to deliver the legislation they promised in the spring to get this pipeline built.
I hear from Canadians that they cannot trust the Liberals to deliver because their actions do not match their words, which is why the Liberals must clearly demonstrate their support for the Trans Mountain expansion today, through action, by passing this legislation. As well, they must tell Canadians the other concrete next steps they will take to get the Trans Mountain expansion built.