Evidence of meeting #114 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site.) The winning word was see.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Olivier Champagne  Legislative Clerk, House of Commons
Jean-Sébastien Rochon  Counsel, Department of Justice
Christine Loth-Bown  Vice-President, Policy Development Sector, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
Brent Parker  Director, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Division, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
Jeff Labonté  Assistant Deputy Minister, Major Projects Management Office, Department of Natural Resources
Terence Hubbard  Director General, Petroleum Resources Branch, Department of Natural Resources

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Mr. Fast.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

I wouldn't characterize this, in any way, as an evisceration of the bill. We believe the bill is quite problematic. Sustainability means different things to different people. It could be interpreted as not permitting any net contribution to GHG emissions, which is not a reasonable threshold to disallow a project from moving forward. The bottom line is, step by step, this legislation and the amendments coming forward from the government make it more and more difficult for proponents of projects to get their projects approved even if those projects are merited. That is a sad statement about the state of affairs in Canada right now, where capital and investment are fleeing this country in amounts that we have not seen, certainly in my lifetime.

This is not about eliminating considerations; it's about making sure we don't put additional roadblocks in the way of proper development of our resources in a way that is environmentally defensible and sustainable.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Just to be clear for everybody, there is a definition of sustainability in the bill, which is helpful to make it clear to people what is meant. I understand your points, and there's definitely a difference of opinion around the table.

Shall the amendment carry?

Noon

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

I would like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 6; yeas 3)

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

We move on to PV-62.

Noon

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Again, we're still on page 39, going to lines 41 to 42 under factors in the public interest. We would insert:

Canada's ability to meet its national and international obligations and commitments in respect of the environment, climate change and biodiversity.

Noon

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

I have a point of order.

Has LIB-42 been removed?

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Sorry, yes, it was withdrawn. My apologies, it was my fault. I didn't call that out.

Noon

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Again, factors to be considered in weighing the public interest would include our ability to meet our national and international obligations and commitments in respect of environment, climate change, and biodiversity. Those are really significant factors that I'm sure the government would want to weigh, but we want to specify them under proposed section 63.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Shall the amendment carry?

Noon

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

I would like a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 1)

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

I shouldn't allow votes from the back of the room. They have to be at the table, and she's still at the back.

Sorry about that. If we need a pause, we'll take a pause, but we're not going to pause yet.

Next up is Madame Pauzé.

Noon

Québec debout

Monique Pauzé Québec debout Repentigny, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Our proposed amendment adds, after line 42 on page 39, some elements to consider when making decisions.

If you agree, I will introduce amendments GPQ-2 and GPQ-1 at the same time. In fact, amendment GPQ-2 has to do with approving those elements, but, before being approved, they will have to be assessed.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Sure.

Noon

Québec debout

Monique Pauzé Québec debout Repentigny, QC

Okay. Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

Let's refer back to April 14, when Jean-Marc Fournier, the Quebec minister responsible for Canadian relations, sent a letter with a very eloquent title: Le fédéral doit respecter les lois provinciales. I have copies of the letter here, if anyone is interested in reading it.

On our end, we confirm that there is consensus on that. Quebec has the best assessment process in North America. We are of the opinion that it is important to listen to Quebec when it asks that the process be followed. My amendments are along those lines. They have been submitted by the Centre québécois du droit de l'environnement (CQDE), the only organization that was invited to give a presentation here.

Our laws and regulations reflect the will of the people. At a previous meeting, Mr. Fast said that Canadians expected the legislation passed to be enforced. The same applies to provincial legislation, including that of Quebec. We feel that, instead of increasing Ottawa's powers, they should be brought closer to the people, since they are the ones who will deal with the environmental impacts or the impacts of the proposed bills.

Environmentally speaking, that's an advantage. Because bills must comply with both federal and provincial legislation, protection is increased. This is the highest standard that would apply. In Quebec, we have the best laws. Setting them aside to enforce federal laws would reduce environmental protection.

In conclusion, some members here are representing Quebec, and I would be very disappointed to see them vote against my amendments. That really would mean that they are acting against their own people.

I therefore invite the members from Quebec and all voting members to vote in favour of my two amendments.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Mr. Amos.

May 22nd, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

I would be pleased to speak to the two proposed amendments.

Having worked for a decade with the Centre québécois du droit de l'environnement and as an accredited environmental lawyer in Quebec for many years, I am very familiar with the BAPE system in Quebec. This process is not perfect, and neither was the federal environmental assessment process in the past.

What is important is that Quebec's jurisdiction be respected. This bill will respect the jurisdiction. It provides for everything required in terms of overlapping responsibilities. Environmental protection is an area where responsibilities overlap. It is imperative that the proposed legislation provide a mechanism for the different levels of government to work in partnership. I am fully convinced that the legislation will enable and encourage this collaboration. In my opinion, to suggest that Bill C-69 will not have that effect is tantamount to playing politics and trying to pit Quebeckers against the rest of Canada.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Ms. Duncan.

Remember, we're going to keep this debate really short, because—

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

I have a right to speak to it.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Well, you do. Not five minutes; we're way past the five minutes.

Go ahead.

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

I have concerns with the provision, but they're different. I think that it would be ultra vires in this bill to assign to the federal government the authority to decide if provincial laws are respected. I understand the intent, but I don't think the way it's worded would be allowed under federal law. I think that both of them would be deemed to be ultra vires, because the federal government should not be the authority that will decide that provincial laws are complied with.

I think the best resolution to this is to always have joint reviews. That would be the preference.

However, I understand where the member is going. It certainly would make sense if.... For example, a province can have a higher standard than the federal government, but not a lower standard for a toxin. That is a good message. If they're going to make a decision based on toxins, they should be based on the provincial law.

I don't think it makes sense in the way that this is drafted, because I think you're saying that the federal government would decide whether or not the provincial law had been respected. I think that would be ultra vires of the federal government.

Shall we ask the experts?

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Sure, we'll go to the Department of Justice on that.

12:05 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Jean-Sébastien Rochon

First off, I would have to say I'm here to explain the government's position as well as how the bill will operate in practice. The legal advice of the Department of Justice is given to the government as a whole.

Upon careful reading of the amendment, I see that the measure in question would be only one of the elements considered by the minister or by the decision-making authority. It would just be something to consider, not an obligation. It would be a simple part of the assessment.

The legislation very clearly applies to effects under federal jurisdiction. I will leave it at that.

12:05 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy Development Sector, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

Christine Loth-Bown

To add to that, the design of the legislation is to ensure co-operation with other jurisdictions. The goal would be to move towards one project and one assessment.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Okay, thank you very much for that.

I think it's time to vote.