All I heard there were aspirations. There's an old saying that starts, “If wishes were horses”. You said, this is where we want to be and where we want to go.
That's all well and good, but the project proponents and organizations who came before us strongly disagree with that assertion. I go back to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, which said that Canada has a toxic regulatory environment and that they do not view this particular bill as having fixed it. The evidence is very clear in terms of investments, which are leading Canada from $71 billion under the Harper government to $31 billion under the Trudeau government. Clearly, things have changed.
I'd like to talk now about the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Specifically, the issue is the definition of what a navigable water is. You can say what you want about the act and write about it, but the nub of the issue is what is a navigable water.
When we changed the Navigable Waters Protection Act to the Navigation Protection Act, it was because there were too many egregious examples of waterways that were clearly navigable for perhaps a day a year but considered navigable waters.
A specific example that I mentioned in testimony earlier was about a little municipality of mine. A culvert blew out because of a spring freshet. This little gully flowed for maybe two weeks a year, but of course the Canadian Coast Guard came in and said to my little municipality, you have to replace the culvert with a bridge.
Of course, there were houses on the other side, so there are public safety and first responder issues that the Coast Guard was completely oblivious to. The cost for the bridge was $750,000, and the total budget of the small municipality was $1 million. It was clearly ridiculous.
I read the definition of what a navigable water is. It is water, it says, “that is used or where there is a reasonable likelihood that it will be used by vessels, in full or in part, for any part of the year as a means of transport or travel for commercial or recreational purposes”.
This means that you've gone back to the old definition, whereby if it can float a canoe for three or four days, all of a sudden it becomes a navigable water. Of course, under the old act, the effect on municipalities, both in terms of public safety and of cost, was extremely significant.
Do those of you from Department of Transport share my concerns?