This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

Evidence of meeting #11 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was nations.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Roger Jones  Senior Strategist, Assembly of First Nations
David Collyer  President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Chantal Otter Tétreault  Member, Cree Regional Authority, James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment
Pierre Gratton  President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada
William David  Senior Policy Analyst, Environmental Stewardship, Assembly of First Nations
Graeme Morin  Environmental Analyst, James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment
Justyna Laurie-Lean  Vice-President, Environment and Health, Mining Association of Canada

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Then I'd ask if you could follow up with me in writing. As I pointed out, this is the first time we've actually heard first nations voices—representatives from first nations. If you could, give us advice about what we should be doing to further consult, with who and how—and this is just the legislative review—and maybe on specific issues as well. Maybe we need to do an actual deep look at legislating the duty to consult and embedding it in legislation. If you could follow up with us in writing, that would be fantastic.

Thank you.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Thank you, and time has expired.

Any request for information is voluntary; it's not required, but any information that could be provided would be helpful.

Mr. Lunney, you have five minutes.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Again, I thank the witnesses for being with us today. It's an extremely important issue. I will start with our friends from the AFN who are with us today. I note you opened with greetings from the national chief on our recent democratic exercise and congratulated us on getting elected. We appreciate that. I want to acknowledge his greetings.

The national chief, Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, is from Ahousaht, and Ahousaht is part of the area I represent. So I am in his traditional territory, at least part of my riding is, and we have been working together.

You mentioned reconciliation. One of the elder advisers is also from our area. Chief Barney Williams, a neighbour of mine, works very closely on the reconciliation issues.

For our friends from the Cree James Bay, we want to acknowledge the leadership of your community. In 1975 there was a very significant modern accomplishment in coming to an agreement, and the names of your former Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come and former Deputy Grand Chief Kenny Blacksmith are well known in our circles here for their dialogue and contributions to overcoming some significant challenges. Now, having said that, we're glad you're here together because we are looking for a way forward.

Mr. Collyer, in your written remarks you said:

We also want to emphasize that without concurrent process improvements related to Aboriginal consultation, we will not fully realize the benefits of improvements in the regulatory process.

We recognize that it's working better in some situations than others and there's something that needs to be fixed here. That's what the objective of our discussions is today.

For the CAPP, you employ some 500,000 people and represent 3.5% of our GDP. That's a huge contribution to Canada's GDP. Most of your operations are not in urban areas; they're out in rural areas. There are first nations communities there, which not only creates issues about consultation but it creates opportunities for economic development, partnerships, and employment of first nations.

Certainly that would be true of our mining community as well, where I think you have about 350,000 Canadians employed, and many of them would be first nations.

First of all, can you tell me or do you have any idea what percentage of your employed persons in the petroleum industry might be first nations, and the same for the mining association, if you could quickly remark on that? Do you have any idea?

12:15 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

According to Statistics Canada, we're the largest private sector employer of aboriginal people in the country and we're about twice the national average in terms of employing aboriginal people. I would then emphasize, though, that there is a lot more potential, and as we face the human resources challenge I mentioned earlier, increasing the participation of aboriginal Canadians in our industry is one of our primary objectives.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

I know that on the coast economic development for first nations is a priority. We've seen some great things move ahead. Recently I had a ribbon cutting for a micro-hydro project, where the Toquaht are participating. We were at that ribbon cutting and I remember remarking that the sound of that turbine moving behind us was the sound of a revenue stream for that first nation.

Another one of our first nations, the Hupacasath, has an agreement with a mining company for gravel extraction, which is moving ahead. That's a very positive development.

We want to create economic capacity for our first nations. It seems that's a great way to make a whole new suite of opportunities for the future.

We recognize that even though there are many other opportunities there, we have to work our way through this consultative process. I want to ask the Cree James Bay folks, since you've been at this for a while, whether you are aware of developments in your community in mining and so on that have worked out successfully. And are some of your people employed?

12:15 p.m.

Member, Cree Regional Authority, James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment

Chantal Otter Tétreault

First of all, I'd like to clarify that I am a Cree, but I'm part of the James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment. Within this committee there are federal members, provincial members, but yes, it is for the interests of the Cree. I myself do work for the Grand Council of the Crees, so I'll speak on behalf of the development happening in my territory.

A few years ago, the Premier of Quebec announced the Plan Nord, and this has seen the development of 50% of our territory above the 49th parallel, all the way up to Nunavut. With this there was also 50% protection. This is still in the planning phase.

Also, with the increase of gold there has been more mining activity in our territory. This has led us to be more proactive in terms of building a relationship with these mining companies. We have also developed a Cree mining policy within the Cree Regional Authority, so on behalf of the advisory committee we are working on seeing that there is a relationship within the companies, but also in terms of public participation.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Thank you.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Your time has expired.

Next is Madam Freeman, pour cinq minutes.

November 17th, 2011 / 12:15 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My questions are going to be directed to Mr. David and Mr. Jones from the Assembly of First Nations.

Thank you very much for being here with us and for your testimony and recommendations.

I'm interested in speaking with you because my riding includes Oka. It's traditionally Kanesatake Mohawk territory. The people of Kanesatake have never been consulted, let alone given their consent to mining projects that keep trying to come into the territory. This is traditionally their territory, and it's currently under review, so there is a lot of concern about the fact that there have been no consultations--or not with them anyhow. There has been a little bit of consultation with the people living in Oka, but not with the people of Kanesatake.

The people of Kanesatake believe there should be free, prior, and informed consent. If they draw on the UN declaration of indigenous rights, to which Canada is a signatory...they're trying to make this argument. I'd like to hear from you. Could you elaborate on the importance of consent and the difference between consent and consultation?

Thank you.

12:15 p.m.

Senior Strategist, Assembly of First Nations

Roger Jones

Thank you for the question.

As Mr. David pointed out earlier, I think that's perhaps the $64,000 question--or maybe it's now the $64 billion question. This is something that is extremely important in terms of being able to work at.... I think one of the things to take from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is that these are standards that we want to achieve together with states--in our case, with Canada.

I think what has failed to happen in this country, as Mr. David pointed out, is that when courts--or situations like the UN declaration--set out requirements as to what the engagement relationship ought to be between the state and the peoples, we're not working together to try to define what that is. Often what we see is unilateral policy or guideline development. That's not going to work, since it obviously hasn't had the benefit of the input of the indigenous peoples involved.

I don't think there is any particular magic formula around what it means. I think it's a process. I think it's a process that requires the relationship to develop and to evolve, which will enable people to then be in a position to create agreements and to create partnerships. In essence, that's really what consent is: it's how you get the parties to be mutually satisfied about the outcome that is desired.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

One of the problems we have in this particular case in the Kanesatake territory is that the land claims aren't in agreement. Is there or should there be a federal process to adequately protect potential aboriginal rights?

12:20 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, Environmental Stewardship, Assembly of First Nations

William David

Yes, there should, and there is. That's already part of the law. That's where the duty to consult and accommodate arose.

So there definitely ought to be and there definitely is. Now, whether or not that's recognized and reflected through the environmental assessment process is one question. I'm not sure that it is.

How to navigate it is quite another question, particularly when it is related to claims territories and to resources that are in dispute. For instance, if there's a particular project that may contaminate either groundwater or surface water, which in turn hold fisheries that first nations are relying on for food and for social ceremonial fisheries, destruction of that fishery could actually lead to the destruction of the culture.

If the situation is that extreme, then I suggest that's precisely the reason consent is required.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

If no consultation--

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

I don't want to interrupt you, but your time has expired.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Thank you.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Thank you.

Next we have Ms. Ambler for five minutes.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Chair, thank you. Thank you to our witnesses for their presentations today.

My questions are for CAPP and MAC today. They are with regard to timelines.

As you know, in 2010 the amendments to the act were to streamline the process so that now all comprehensive studies begin in alignment with the provincial reviews. Timeline regulations came into force in June 2011 for comprehensive studies. These regulations provide 90 days for the agency to determine whether to commence a comprehensive study and 365 days to provide a completed report for the public.

What are your associations' views regarding the new timeline requirements? Do you think they're important? What are your views on them?

12:20 p.m.

President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

David Collyer

I'll just be very quick. We're obviously supportive of timelines. We think they're a step in the right direction. We think there's an opportunity to go further in terms of the integration of the federal and provincial processes, which would help further in terms of solidifying timelines and processes.

I think the amendments have been positive, and the more of that we can do the better.

12:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

I would agree the timelines are working. As I mentioned earlier, we're finding the agency is implementing the act and the subsequent regulations very well.

The delays we experience now are no longer in the environmental assessment phase. It's really in the post-EA phase, around the subsequent regulations that we require. That can take a quite a long time.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Could you tell me what other CEAA reforms you believe would help reduce assessment timelines then, on that note?

Mr. Gratton first.

12:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

I guess the point we were making is you've done that now. You've actually done a very good job, at least for the mining sector, for those who do comprehensive studies and panels. They're now well run, there's someone in charge, and you have timelines.

We think there's a better use of resources from time to time that could be achieved through the equivalency mechanism I mentioned, where you might have a province lead one versus the federal government, and do it on behalf of both jurisdictions, or vice versa. But that doesn't really get at the timeline issue.

Where we have issues around timelines now is in the post-EA period. The time it takes to get a subsequent fisheries authorization, for example, can take years.

Those are some of the challenges we now face.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Thank you.

Just to switch, Mr. Collyer, in your remarks I especially appreciated the section where you spoke about what CEAA is and what CEAA isn't. One of the things you said it exists for is to determine the environmental impacts.

Recognizing that we must not compromise the integrity of the process, do you believe that the process should take into account both the positive environmental effects as well as the negative environmental effects?

12:25 p.m.

President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

David Collyer

First of all, it should focus on environmental effects. That's the first message.

Second, I think we need to look at the full suite of that, a positive ending, and understand the full impact of the project in all respects, but it should focus on environment.

Very quickly, just following up on Mr. Gratton's comments, I think one of the issues around timeline is scope creep. We need to be really clear about what CEAA is and isn't, which is why I made the remarks in my presentation. That is a key issue. It relates, frankly, to the broader regulatory reform agenda as well.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Indeed. Does this conversation fit with your recommendation that decision-making must be science- and fact-based? Can we do those two things? Does it all fit in together, integrity, economic impacts, positive and negative, and science- and fact-based?

12:25 p.m.

President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

David Collyer

Absolutely. It can be helped if the federal and provincial governments work with industry and others to put in place better monitoring programs, verification programs. We need a baseline of good science. That should be there to inform decision-making, and we're strongly supportive of it.