Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to talk about the environment once again. As everyone knows, we had the honour of receiving Mr. Hollande, the President of France, in this House. One of the most important things he talked about was the fight against climate change. We know that the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has released its fifth report. Hundreds of scientists have talked about the need for urgent action. Unfortunately, the Conservatives prefer to sit back and do nothing, with the 2015 Copenhagen summit only a year away.
I would like to revisit the important issue of the federal environmental assessment process. I recently asked the Minister of the Environment a question about this important issue, which the Conservatives often ignore. I asked my question on October 7 of this year, the same day that the Commissioner of the Environment, Ms. Gelfand, released her report.
Let me provide some background. I pointed out that many industrial sites that are likely to be major polluters have undergone no environmental assessment whatsoever. You heard me correctly: some sites that are likely to be major polluters have undergone no federal environmental assessment. It really makes you wonder about the Conservative government's attitude, as it deliberately fails to assess certain projects in order to please industry.
I also asked questions about the criteria for performing environmental assessments, in order to more effectively apply the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Unfortunately, we did not obtain a definitive answer from the government.
The environment commissioner mentioned this government's gross negligence in that regard. Why are some projects assessed and others not? The criteria for choosing these projects lack clarity and precision. In fact, Canadians do not even know what they are. They are arbitrary criteria. This is ridiculous when we are talking about an issue as important as the environmental assessment of major projects.
My question for the Minister of the Environment was as follows: Either way, will the government heed the recommendations made by the environment commissioner and commit to greater transparency and clarity when it comes to identifying projects to be assessed? The government's response was very disappointing.
Let us back up for a moment. We know that the Conservative government's decision to completely gut and destroy the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act dates back to 2012. I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development since 2011, and I have seen the mess that this has caused. Since that time, we know that major projects such as in situ oil sands development projects, have not been assessed even though they are critical projects and there are a growing number of them. In fact, most new oil sands projects are in situ projects,
I would therefore like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment why projects as important as in situ and hydraulic fracturing projects, for example, are not subject to an environmental assessment.