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 #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

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

I'm sorry, that wasn't the question I asked.

The question I asked was whether you think politicians have the necessary expertise to gather, synthesize, and analyze the vast amount of data. It is a very specific question.

8:30 p.m.

President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

David Collyer

I think they have expertise in public policy, and I think public policy is relevant to decisions that are being made about pipelines and other matters.

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

That's not the question. Could you answer the question, please?

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

Go ahead, Mr. Storseth.

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Just because Ms. Duncan is not getting the answer she wants doesn't mean she should be badgering the witness. I think we've had a very productive committee hearing, and we should continue to move forward in that manner.

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

Ms. Duncan, the witness has attempted several times to answer your question. I'm not sure that he's going to be able to give you an answer that is different from the one you already have.

If you have other lines of questioning, I'd encourage you to move on.

8:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

I'm guessing that my time is up. Is that correct?

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

No, you have a little bit more time.

8:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Okay, thank you.

Mr. Collyer, as you're probably aware, a team of Environment Canada's smokestack specialists, who travel around Canada measuring emissions and analyzing data to help industry, are being affected. They recently conducted research supporting federal efforts to produce a credible monitoring plan for pollution from Alberta's oil sands sector. Are you concerned that the cuts would jeopardize the government's plan to create a credible monitoring plan for the oil sands?

8:35 p.m.

President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

David Collyer

I can tell you with absolute certainty that we're not seeing any reduction in the amount of federal government engagement in environmental monitoring of the oil sands, so I'm not concerned about that.

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

Thank you, Mr. Collyer, and thank you, Ms. Duncan.

We now move on to our five-minute round, starting with Mr. Allen.

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I appreciate the opportunity.

Thank you to our witnesses for being here.

Mr. Myers, I want to go quickly to you. You talked a little bit about the current process being a barrier to investment. I have two questions.

First, can you comment a little on some of those barriers to investment? You also talked about world-class manufacturing, world-class resource development, and world-class environmental processes and stewardship. Do you see that this bill limits any of those objectives?

8:35 p.m.

President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters - Ontario Division

Jayson Myers

With respect to your first question, and building on what Mr. Collyer said, the issues around investment and the mobility of capital today are issues that affect resource development in every sector: resources, upgrading those resources, infrastructure development, and manufacturing and services.

These issues about an efficient regulatory process and the additional costs and uncertainties that are built into an inefficient regulatory process have major impacts on investment decisions and the return-on-investment calculation companies are making on a worldwide basis.

We are competing with jurisdictions such as Australia, for example, or Brazil, or many other countries in terms of where companies are going to put their investment. Anything that can be done to streamline regulatory processes—not to prejudge the outcome of those processes but to build a more efficient process, which I think will also be a more effective and a more certain process—I think is going to be beneficial for those investment decisions.

On your second question, I don't think there's anything in this bill that would undermine the effectiveness of our environmental process. This is, as Mr. Collyer was saying, a series of initiatives that, in my mind, simply streamline the process we're already going through. They will make it a much more efficient one and a much more certain one, from the point of view of investors.

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Smillie, I'd like to bring you in on the conversation here. Thanks for giving me the thumbs-up on that.

What would you assess are some of the challenges and problems your organization has encountered with the current regulatory system as it is? Do you see that this legislation as proposed is going to achieve the balance going forward that we need?

8:35 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Government Relations and Public Affairs, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Canadian Office

Christopher Smillie

The challenges we currently face are that there's uncertainty around when folks will actually be needed on the ground to build things. If there's a 12-year or 15-year regulatory dance for a major project, we can't look at our training scope and say we need to have 4,600 electricians or 4,600 boilermakers or 10,000 carpenters at a certain time.

At the end of the day, and because we're further down the food chain from some of the planning that goes on with Mr. Collyer's companies—we're trying to change that a bit—we are expected to have a workforce ready yesterday, as soon as we get the call from our construction employers.

What this would do, from our understanding, is it would give certainty around timing. It's either a yes or a no. When we're workforce planning, we can take a look at Nova Scotia or New Brunswick or Newfoundland and say we're going to have unemployed workers because we know the Lower Churchill is going to be done in 6.6 years. We're able then to go and grab the workforce that's necessary, be it in B.C. or in Saskatchewan.

When we're looking at our labour force planning for the future, either a yes or a no is a good thing. The uncertainty around knowing whether the project will be approved.... I think the Mackenzie gas line approval started before I was born. That gives you a sense of it. I mean, how do you plan for workforce development on a project like that when it takes 32 years or 33 years?

We see this as a way to partner with industry to know what's going to happen and when, and then we can work on our training system to make sure we're pumping out enough people to meet demand.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

How much time do I have left, Mr. Chair?

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

Ten seconds.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

From your trades perspective, have you seen projects in certain regions of the country filter all through...and the benefits?

8:40 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Government Relations and Public Affairs, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Canadian Office

Christopher Smillie

In terms of training more people and being able to partner with industry to say this is what's happening in sort of a logical process, absolutely. We're contractually obligated to provide labour to some job sites, so it would definitely help with that.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Blaine Calkins

Thank you very much, Mr. Smillie.

Thank you, Mr. Allen.

We've now moving on to Ms. Ambler, for up to five minutes, please.

May 28th, 2012 / 8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My questions are for Mr. Myers, Mr. Smillie, and Ms. Carpenter.

I'm curious to know what percentage of the average project is devoted to environmental assessments. I guess I'm trying to get at how energy is currently expended by a proponent of a project. You may not have exact numbers, but I'd like even your thoughts on whether it's too much or too little. I have a feeling that one of you might have some numbers on that.

Mr. Myers.

8:40 p.m.

President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters - Ontario Division

Jayson Myers

I think probably Denise is in a better position to give you an example of how much might be expended on a nuclear project.

Let me say, with respect to some smaller enterprises, that we'll not have to now go through this convoluted system of proposals that can take an environmental assessment that's done at a provincial level and seek equivalency on the basis of that. There are a lot of small businesses that go through that.

In many cases, it's a hard argument to make; there are no clear costs because the project never goes ahead in the first place. I think those are some of the costs we sometimes forget. These aren't just costs that larger companies have to go through before the projects get under way; this is also very much an issue about clearing the ground for some smaller businesses that are making proposals and who now don't have to go through this convoluted process.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Sort of a spillover effect.

8:40 p.m.

President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters - Ontario Division

Jayson Myers

That's right.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Ms. Carpenter, go ahead.