Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise to speak in support of this historic bill introduced by my hon. colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley. It is called an act to defend the Pacific northwest, and a better name could not have been given to this initiative.
When I ran exactly two years ago, I knocked on many doors in Victoria and Oak Bay, in my part of Vancouver Island. I met so many different people, but not one person did I meet in my constituency who supported the Enbridge northern gateway project. They were all fearful of what it would do to our beautiful coast and how it would impact our first nations communities. The bill would codify that resistance British Columbians have, and that is what central to this initiative.
I was shocked and delighted a moment ago to hear the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources rise in this place and say something quite remarkable. She concluded her remarks by saying that this bill was “redundant”. I looked on Google, where we all look for definitions of words, and saw that redundant meant “not or no longer needed...superfluous”. I guess what she is saying, on behalf of the Conservative government, is that a ban on oil tankers, or VLCCs, in the Pacific northwest is unnecessary because it is already there.
I did not know that. It shows that the Conservatives actually have thought about the impact of a spill in this part of the world, and I was delighted to learn they had accepted that.
Maybe it is not necessary, but if we could therefore simply agree to those conditions, that would be great. However, the bill goes beyond that quite substantially.
It would force pipeline proponents to look at adding value to resources and creating jobs in Canada by amendments to the NEB Act, something I would commend. Most significant, perhaps, given the Tsilhqot'in case and other cases in our courts, it would strengthen consultations between the federal government and first nations communities on pipeline reviews. It would do that for all municipalities, as my friend has suggested, but it would go much beyond that in light of the new obligations we all face all as we deal with first nations in the resource development context.
For us, this is a common sense initiative that would put the environment and first nations back and centrally into the energy conversation, and would ensure that Canadians would get the full benefit of energy development.
In particular, the bill would stop the Enbridge northern gateway in its tracks. I feel I have a mandate to represent the people who sent me here, all of whom are opposed to this. Therefore, the bill, “redundant” though it may be, would definitely put a nail through the heart of that egregious project, which so few people in my part of the world think makes any sense at all. It is grotesque.
It is inspired by the experience of northwest B.C. and its fight against Enbridge. Bill C-628 would legislate immediate protections for the pristine north coast from threats from these oil tankers, while addressing the key concerns raised by the poor process that led the Conservative government to approve the pipeline.
I am very proud to have been the past co-chair of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria. Those people are now in court, fighting the NEB and the government's decision to accept the JRP's report because of its numerous procedural errors that are so patently obvious to any lawyer who has examined them. This would go some distance, if Bill C-628 were to be accepted, to address some of the deficiencies that were made so apparent during that process. It was a process where literally thousands of people appeared, some 99% of whom opposed this pipeline. Nevertheless, three individuals appointed by the NEB came to British Columbia and said that they knew what was best and that they would go ahead and recommend approval for this project.
Nobody in our community takes that process seriously. Nobody takes it seriously in the Kinder Morgan process. If this bill went some distance to improve it, it would be worth it on that basis alone.
Three hundred scientists from around the world condemned that joint review panel project as full of errors and omissions. They said that it cannot be used to make decisions about pipelines and demanded that the government finally say no to the lunacy of the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline proposal.
As recently as in today's Globe and Mail, we have seen a change in the economy. Green energy sector jobs now surpass the total of oil sands employment in this country. There are 6.5 million people employed now in the clean energy sector, according to Clean Energy Canada in a report released today. There has been $25 billion invested in Canada's clean energy sector in the past five years.
As I say, more people are employed in this sector than in the oil sands. The world has changed; the Conservatives have not. Projects like Enbridge northern gateway show how much they have their heads in the sand. Perhaps I should say in the oil sands.
A constituent in my riding, Dr. Gerald Graham, works with Worldocean Consulting. He calculated that over a 50-year period, the chance of a major tanker spill is somewhere between 8.7% and 14.1%. These are the same odds, at the top end, as Russian roulette.
Applying a standard model used by governments to project spill risks, researchers at Simon Fraser University have estimated that the northern gateway pipeline would generate a tanker spill somewhere between every 23 and 196 years, a terminal spill every 15 to 41 years, and 15 or 16 pipeline spills on land every year. Overall, they pegged the probability of a tanker spill at 90%.
Yet the joint review panel said that “a large spill is unlikely” and “a large spill would initially have significant adverse environmental effects...[but] the environment would ultimately recover”. Tell that to first nations people who depend on the sea in the northwest part of British Columbia. Tell municipalities like Kitimat, which despite propaganda from the Enbridge company decided to vote against even allowing that project in the community. They have spoken. The Conservatives have certainly not listened.
I could go on to talk about the lunacy of a report that said that dilbit may not even sink. I did not know that. Tell that to the people in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They spent over $1 billion trying to clean up something on the bottom of the Kalamazoo River, but I guess it does not sink. There must have been a lot of wasted money. The report says that when it gets to the waves and the sea water, it is an entirely different issue.
The scientists with whom I have consulted think the report's conclusion on such a central issue was itself lunacy, and of course, we are playing Russian roulette, as I said earlier, with the fate of one of the most beautiful parts of our planet and some of the most dangerous waters on our planet, when one thinks of Hecate Strait and Douglas Channel, with 90° turns out to the ocean.
If we look at the map Enbridge gave, those islands do not exist, apparently, but I have seen them. I have been there many times. It is my favourite part of this planet, and I will not let the Conservatives destroy it by allowing this pipeline and these tankers to go through this part of the world.
I have been an environmental lawyer for most of my life. I have participated in many hearings and have been commission counsel on environmental assessment projects myself. This project was flawed from the get-go. The process has been so inadequate that everyone has spoken against it. The same people are now speaking out about the Kinder Morgan process in British Columbia.
I am proud to stand here in support of my colleague for introducing this bill. We are lucky to have him in the House. He was in my riding a couple of weeks ago with several hundred more people. “Take back our coast” is what he calls it. There were several hundred a year or so ago and several hundred now. We are not going away. Our resistance to this project is only getting started. This bill would make an enormous difference in how we do business in Canada to address these kinds of projects.
I commend my colleague for this initiative, and I hope all members of the House will support it.