Thank you, Mr. Chair.
If I may, I will continue along the lines of Mr. Simard's comments regarding the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.
In our region—that of the gulf—I agree that we are far from the exhaustion that follows consultation. The board created a review commission, the Richard commission, which was very confused because of the Swiss cheese—if I may go back to this idea of Swiss cheese—in terms of the regulations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In fact, it practically abandoned its consultations. There are currently no consultations on the hydrocarbon drilling development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The federal government's virtual abandonment in that area is clearly worrying coastal communities.
I am wondering how it can even be suggested that hydrocarbons be developed in the gulf when half of the provinces share one gulf. Those provinces are currently unable to create the administrative or legislative consistency needed for oil companies to be able to even suggest developing the gulf. The step backwards proposed by the bill currently before us will create a situation where governance in the region will be almost impossible. It will even slow down our region's economic development. That is one of the negative effects of that bill. It is not a matter of protecting habitat or regressing in terms of environmental law. The bill is also impedes economic development, and that is unacceptable.
So I would like to address Mr. Siddon.
If I could continue, when it comes to the peculiar consequences of the changes in front of us, again, it's not just the protection of fish habitat, which is in and of itself an environmental and fisheries issue, but other issues are going to come up. One is if we don't protect the fish habitat properly we're going to be putting in peril other aspects of environmental protection. I'm thinking, for instance, waterways will become much more contaminated if we don't properly protect the filtering capacity of fish habitat.
Fish habitat has more of a role than just protecting fish. It has a role of protecting the entire environment and our drinking water. I might add that the Alberta Fish & Game Association has actually come out and said this as well, that in the heartland of the government's own fortress—Alberta—even there people are thinking that this particular bill in front of us might very well have a very deleterious effect on our environment and on our drinking water.
What do you think is the proper approach right now? Is it to redefine “serious harm”? Is serious harm, the way that the new bill has proposed it, going to be sufficient to protect our environment? Where should we be going from here? What kind of modifications to the bill should we be proposing at this point?