Evidence of meeting #2 for Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Finance on Bill C-38 in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was environmental.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jayson Myers  President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters - Ontario Division
Christopher Smillie  Senior Advisor, Government Relations and Public Affairs, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Canadian Office
David Collyer  President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Denise Carpenter  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Nuclear Association
Terry Rees  Executive Director, Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations
Peter Meisenheimer  Executive Director, Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association
Ward Prystay  Principal, Environmental Services, Stantec Consulting Ltd., Canadian Construction Association
Pierre Gratton  President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada
Ray Orb  Vice-President, Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities

10:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

Companies do that, but with this provision—

10:55 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Under law.

10:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

Yes, it does happen under law. What this provision does, which I think is even smarter, is it allows governments to go in early, even independent of a project, and scope out the carrying capacity from an environmental and even a social perspective for a region before development takes place. This is something that's been a long time coming. I think it is an important feature of this legislation. We're glad to see it there.

10:55 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Under this legislation, do you feel that mining companies will be responsible for taking into account these regional studies when they happen? Is there any timeframe for those to take place so that we can put the context to regional development? Is there any sense that development must follow the creation of a regional context?

10:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

Individual projects will be asked to account for cumulative impacts. What I'm saying is that there's a limitation to what an individual company can do. It's governments, actually, that have the responsibility to plan forward and that have the capacity to think outside the box of an individual project.

This new provision allows governments—provincial and federal governments, working together—to undertake that kind of regional assessment, and I think that's a good thing.

10:55 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

If the regional assessment hasn't taken place, should the mining developments then take place in the absence of data about how induced development is going to occur? What do you want to put first here, the environment or development?

10:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

Well, I think one can have both.

11 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

If you don't have the studies done, how can you determine the cumulative impact of these developments?

11 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

I think the challenge that governments always face is that in the absence of a project, it's hard to justify taxpayers' dollars going into studying a region. But when you have an Ekati diamond mine, the first, for example, or when you have the new project in the Ring of Fire, you have the impetus, the justification, for governments to step in and do that kind of regional review. We think that's a good thing.

11 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

We have only a few seconds left, Mr. Bevington. Thank you very much for your line of questioning.

Mr. Anderson, this is the last question for the second round.

This committee hearing started at 9:32, so we have roughly 30 minutes left. We have a little bit of business to do.

I think we will actually have time for a third round. Does everybody want a third round? Do I understand that correctly? At this point, every member will have had an opportunity to ask a question, but if you want, we can proceed for a third round.

11 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

11 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

All right. Very good.

Mr. Anderson.

May 28th, 2012 / 11 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank the witnesses for coming tonight.

Mr. Orb, you may have addressed this a little bit earlier, but on the issue you brought up about routine projects, where you have municipal road construction and things like individuals' private property being impacted by some of these DFO issues, I'm just wondering.... Earlier tonight I think I heard someone say that we basically need to support all habitat, all past habitat, all possible future habitat. Do you think it's reasonable to apply the same rules to, say, that ditch near Cupar as we do to the salmon fisheries?

11 p.m.

Vice-President, Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities

Ray Orb

That's a good question. I don't think it is fair to compare. It's something that I think is very diverse. Saskatchewan is unique in that sense, and probably some of the other farmland across Canada is too. It really doesn't have anything to do with fish habitat. If it's a farmer's drainage system or a canal or something like that on his farm, there is no fish habitat; they should be really almost exempt from something like that.

11 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Some of that habitat is rarely damp, even, never mind water running across it, Ray.

11 p.m.

Vice-President, Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities

Ray Orb

Yes. I mean, that's another issue. For some of those waterways, some years there is no water running at all. As you know, it is a dry region for the better part.

11 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Okay.

Mr. Gratton or Mr. Prystay, I think one of you said that you believed there probably would be an increased number of projects from this. Half an hour ago one of the two of you made that comment.

Are you willing to accept an increase in the number of projects if they're done in a more timely manner? Is that a good trade-off?

11 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

Are we willing to...?

11 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

To see more projects done if they're done in a more timely manner. I think the point was made that there likely will be more projects that will end up....

Maybe you were talking about your major projects for the EAs.

11 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

Oh, yes. Well, it remains to be seen what the regulations say with respect to the list, but we expect that the same projects that are currently assessed will continue to be assessed and that there's the same possibility for brownfield sites. Given the improvements to environmental assessment and the fact that those same brownfield sites will be assessed by the province anyway—they are already assessed by the provinces—then we don't have issues with the fact that they might subsequently be included in federal assessment.

11 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

So set timelines take care of most of that—

11 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

And the fact that they're now synchronized and there's the opportunity for substitution.

11 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Can I ask you to draw a connection between aboriginal employment and a smoother regulatory system? What are some of the direct impacts it will have in those remote communities in order to have these systems? Christopher Smillie talked a little bit earlier about general employment being affected, but how will it impact aboriginal employment?

11 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton

Well, projects that proceed faster are projects that first of all will proceed; some projects die because they don't get to go forward.

When that comes, there's a lot of employment and business development through construction. Then your average mine has operational expenditures of about $100 million a year. That's an awful lot of business procurement, a lot of which is locally supplied, often by aboriginal businesses.

These are all great opportunities for aboriginal communities.

11 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Prystay, you mentioned earlier that you still see the fisheries changes as an ecosystem approach. Is that accurate? I think you said it's still an ecosystem approach. Is that an accurate outlook?