Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. My name is Dave Collyer. I'm the president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, or CAPP, as we refer to ourselves. I welcome the opportunity to provide CAPP's perspective on CEAA, which is important legislation in its own right. However, I want to start by positioning CEAA in a broader context and by encouraging the committee to review CEAA with an eye to the opportunity for more fundamental regulatory reform.
First, why does regulatory reform matter? It matters because it's fundamental to Canadian competitiveness, attracting investment, creating jobs, driving economic growth, and creating prosperity for Canadians. Our industry is the largest single private sector investor in Canada. We invest something in the order of $50 billion each year and we employ more than half a million Canadians, so the competitiveness of the industry and the ability to attract investment is critically important to us.
It's rather sobering from our perspective that a variety of domestic and international authorities have cited our overly complex, redundant, and open-ended regulatory system in Canada as a threat to our ability to attract capital to develop our abundant resources.
I also want to be very explicit that this is not just about delays in projects. This is about potential cancellations, it's about significant deferrals, and it's about a potentially chilling effect on investment in Canada and the attractiveness of Canada as an investment destination.
Often while we let the regulatory process churn along, market developments occur, competitive alternatives emerge, and market windows pass. So I think it's very important to think about this in the context not only of delays, which are potentially seen by some as an inconvenience, but rather of a much more fundamental impact on investment capital coming to Canada.
We propose three key principles to guide broader regulatory reform, and I think they're equally relevant to your considerations on CEAA. First, we believe the regulatory system must enable economic growth, environmental performance, and energy security and reliability. All three are important. There's no question that the high standard of environmental performance must be maintained. All Canadians expect that. But our economic growth and our energy security and reliability, we would argue, are critically important as well and must be given due consideration.
Second, regulatory reform needs to address both intragovernmental and intergovernmental coordination. We need to sort out regulatory overlap and redundancy among the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and we must also address, where it occurs, the lack of alignment and overlapping responsibilities among departments with regulatory responsibilities within each level of government.
Third, regulatory reform needs to improve process timeliness and efficiency with results based on sound science.
We also want to emphasize that without concurrent process improvements related to aboriginal consultation, we will not fully realize the potential benefits of improvements in the regulatory process.
As you conduct your review of CEAA, we would ask that you have an eye to those principles and the opportunity to both identify and address more systemic issues in the regulatory process.
As I mentioned earlier, CEAA also needs to be clearly anchored within the broader system in which it is only one input to decision-making. Regulation must be framed by broad public policy decisions taken at the political level and by regional planning processes, both considering a broad diversity of inputs. For example, decisions on whether or not to develop a particular resource, we would argue, are generally taken and appropriately taken at the political level and are often guided by regional planning. These decisions are informed by a very broad diversity of inputs encompassing economic, environmental, and social considerations.
It's not the role of CEAA, the EA process, or other regulatory and permitting processes to make those broad policy decisions, but rather to subsequently inform how the resource is to be developed, including whether there are any show stoppers from an environmental perspective.
We would suggest that the distinction between whether and how is an important distinction that you should consider in your review.
With that backdrop, let me turn to the specifics of the CEAA review. I'd like to start with a few comments from our perspective about what CEAA is and, importantly from our perspective, what it is not.
Starting with what it is, our view is that CEAA is a relatively narrow piece of federal legislation intended to allow informed decision-making at the early stages of project review. It requires regulatory authorities to engage in an EA if, and only if, there is a federal trigger.
If there is a trigger, CEAA requires the regulatory authority to determine whether a project is likely to result in significant adverse environmental impacts and to consider related impacts pertaining to socio-economic effects in aboriginal peoples. Full stop.
As to what it is not, while CAPP is strongly supportive of sustainable development, EA is not a tool to assess whether a project meets sustainable development criteria or to address broad socio-economic considerations. It's not about assessing impacts distant from the project. It's not about regional planning. It's not a tool to interfere with the legitimate role of other jurisdictions to conduct their own environmental assessments on projects within their jurisdiction. It's not a permitting process, nor is it a tool to review or try to undo resource development or related policy decisions that are within the broad purview of policy-makers. Finally, it should not be used as a tool to unreasonably frustrate, delay, or stop development.
In short, from our perspective, CEAA must be clearly grounded in its proper role of enabling informed decision-making in the early stages of the review of specific projects for which there is a federal trigger.
The scope of CEAA can, and from our perspective should, be confined to that core objective. I think some parties coming before this committee will argue that CEAA has a much broader scope or that the scope should be expanded. I would strongly urge the committee to discount those representations.
Turning to our specific recommendations on CEAA, I will just touch on a few points, and these will be more fully outlined in our written submission.
First, we need to move more consistently to a one-project, one-assessment approach, led by the best-placed regulator, and apply a risk-based approach that directs resources to higher-risk projects more consistently. That means that we need to address the long-standing issues associated with equivalency and substitution and ensure that we can move forward on that basis more consistently. I also want to emphasize that the absence of a federal trigger does not mean that an environmental assessment does not occur. I think the review of in situ oil sands projects in Alberta is a good example. They're subject to extensive regulatory review by the provincial authorities.
Second, we need to establish mandatory timelines and increased accountability to deliver results.
Third, we need to ensure that decision-making is directed back toward the fact- and science-based approach, which was the original intent of the act.
Fourth, we need to improve the aboriginal consultation process, for the benefit of all parties. That would include, from our perspective, a more consistent, time-limited process and better definition of the government's consultation responsibilities. Let me be really clear. Our industry is strongly supportive of aboriginal consultation, for all the obvious reasons, and that consultation takes place throughout the life cycle of most projects.
Fifth, from our perspective, it's very important that the committee, in its deliberations, be clear on where CEAA fits within the broader policy and regulatory framework and ensure that the mandate and scope of CEAA are defined accordingly.
Let me just wrap up with a few key points.
I think this committee has a tremendous opportunity to improve the competitiveness of the regulatory system in Canada, which from our perspective will have a real and tangible impact on jobs and economic growth.
I think we can all agree that this effort must continue to deliver responsible environmental outcomes. That's what we want, I believe that's what you want, and I believe that's what Canadians want.
Implementing the recommendations we've made with regard to CEAA and the EA process in a timely manner will improve both environmental assessment and, from our perspective, provide a foundation from which to improve the overall regulatory system in Canada.
We strongly encourage the committee to conduct its review in a manner that puts CEAA in a broader context and with an eye to the broader regulatory reform opportunity.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.