Mr. Speaker, in 2011, waste water from a Suncor oil sands project was accidentally released into the Athabasca River. We were surprised to learn that the test applied to determine if this was a violation of the Fisheries Act was whether more than 50% of affected fish died. I am told this is a provincial standard, one that appears to be in contradiction with the traditional federal standard that says nothing that could be harmful to even one fish should be allowed to enter water.
How can this more lax standard be allowed to exist under the enforcement provisions of the Fisheries Act? Is it because Fisheries Act enforcement has been devolved to the province, where the provincial Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act applies weaker standards? Are the regulatory changes in budget 2014 at least partially aimed at allowing the minister to retroactively exempt this and other industries from more stringent federal anti-pollution prohibitions in favour of more lax provincial ones?
If so, which other industries and provinces will be benefiting from the minister's new power to single-handedly exempt pollution-generating activities from Fisheries Act prohibitions?