Madam Speaker, I am rising today to speak to the Conservative opposition day motion on the Kinder Morgan pipeline. I will also be talking about sustainability, because I just heard the minister responsible for natural resources try to appropriate to himself the teachings of first nations. He should learn one thing, which is that first nations are opposing Kinder Morgan because it is not a sustainable project.
It is worth reminding ourselves what sustainability is. Going back more than 20 years now, when we got the first report that said we had to start looking at the environmental, social, and economic aspects of all projects, what that essentially said was that we have to remove one of the last remaining and huge inequalities in our society, which is the inequality between generations.
What the minister is trying to support and defend today is precisely the type of development that we have had in this country over the centuries. We take raw natural resources, we do not add value here in Canada, and we try to ship them out as quickly as we possibly can. I heard the government say yesterday that the real problem right now is the shipping of our raw petroleum resources to the United States in far too great a proportion, that we have to start shipping them off to the Asian continent just as rapidly as we were shipping to the United States.
However, it forgets the obvious, which is that when we are talking about replacing some of the fossil fuels we are burning now, those very same products can produce some of the ingredients for a sustainable future. In other words, whether it is epoxies or carbon substances that go into solar panels, or the propellers for wind turbines, these are all things that require us to learn how to be prudent with our resources, including the oil we are blessed with in this country. I do not think that statement is one that anyone would ever oppose. We are blessed in Canada to have this type of natural resource. Countries around the world realize just how lucky we are.
I remember dealing with this on another occasion. When we were fighting the closure of the Shell refinery in Montreal, people asked me how I, as an environmentalist, could support keeping the refinery in Montreal open.
I was quite pleased when Louis-Gilles Francoeur, by far the best journalist to have written about the environment in Quebec, wrote a front-page article in Le Devoir backing us. He wrote that we should stop the foolish practice of exporting our raw natural resources. For example, we export B.C. cedar logs to China where they are transformed into children's play structures, and then we go to Costco to buy what was made in China with this beautiful cedar.
Why do we not add value here? Quebec prohibited this kind of wood export a long time ago, and there are furniture factories along the border.
The first step towards sustainable development is adding value to our products here in Canada, which has never been a priority for the Conservatives or the Liberals.
It is not very surprising, of course, that the Conservatives are going to put forward a motion in favour of Kinder Morgan. They do not like it when we remind them that they used the technique of budget bills that used to hide all sorts of things, that they gutted key, century-old legislation like the navigable waters protection act. What is even more disturbing is that I was there on the night that the mammoth budget bill was going through, and it was hiding all sorts of things. I remember the Liberals rending their garments, saying how terrible it was, promising up and down that they would bring back the navigable waters protection act.
If we understand that we are blessed with these natural resources, then we have to understand that the only way they can be developed with people onside, what we sometimes call social licence, is to have a clear, credible, thorough, transparent environmental assessment process. However, the Conservatives showed a bit of frustration, that there were too many decisions of the courts according the rights to first nations to have a word to say about how resources were developed after 400 years of colonization and oppression. They thought it was about time that we started giving first nations the proper hearing respecting their rights. Conservatives did not agree with that.
The Liberals, the whole time, talked a good game. It is worth looking at the words that were used by the Liberals, because they cannot weasel away from those right now. The Prime Minister's approval of the process that he once condemned, for us, is a fundamental breach of his obligation toward British Columbians, and all Canadians.
In Esquimalt, B.C., on August 20, 2015, the Liberal leader, the now Prime Minister, was asked “does your NEB overhaul apply to Kinder Morgan?” He replied, “Yes, yes.... It applies to existing projects, existing pipelines” as well. He was asked for further clarification: “So if they approve Kinder Morgan in January, you're saying”, and then the Prime Minister cut him off. He said,“No, they are not going to approve it in January because we are going to change the government. And that process [has to be] redone.” The tape of that is easy to find.
The Liberal MP for North Vancouver and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change proclaimed on his campaign website: “A new, independent, evidence-based process must be established. The Kinder Morgan expansion project must satisfy this new rigorous review..”.
The Liberal MP for Burnaby North—Seymour, who is now the parliamentary secretary to the minister of fisheries, of all things, told voters, “We are going to redo the National Energy Board process. [...] Kinder Morgan will have to go through a new, revised process.” That was a solemn promise. They broke that promise.
Madam Speaker, you were right, under the rules of this Parliament, to remind us that there are certain words we cannot use here, but I can say that they did not keep that promise, that what they said was not true. It was the opposite of the truth. I can use the word to describe when somebody intentionally says the opposite of the truth, and I will use that word for the rest of the day when I speak to people outside of this hall. It is important to remind Canadians how we came here.
We came here with Conservatives, Mr. Harper, who famously said that Kyoto, which sought to deal with the real crisis that is global warming, was “a socialist [plot] to suck money [from] wealth-producing countries”. That was at least an honest expression on the part of a climate change denier.
What we have over on this side, and it is interesting because the head of the Green Party just used similar terms to describe it, is the smiling version of Stephen Harper. We have the reassuring version. We have the snake oil salesman version, in fact. Throughout the campaign, Liberals promised to do politics differently. They promised to bring back the navigable waters protection act. Of course, they have not brought back a single article. They promised to bring in a new environmental assessment process. Of course, they broke that promise.
What the Minister of Natural Resources was referring to before was something that even the people who were put on that panel after, as some sort of patch job, said. They do not have records of anything that they heard. He had the nerve to stand in the House a few minutes ago and say, “All is well. We received 10,000 emails.” What does that even mean? They are trying to snow people. They are trying to con people into believing that they are somehow different. The only difference is that instead of approving Kinder Morgan with a scowl, they are approving Kinder Morgan with a smile. It is still Kinder Morgan. People of British Columbia cannot be fooled on that one.
On the subject of what is often referred to as social licence, let us be clear. The process did not allow people to even cross-examine witnesses. Why is that important? It is important because all of these types of approaches, this type of tribunal, this type of hearing, have to follow what are called the rules of natural justice.
Major energy projects across Canada are no longer undergoing credible assessments that make Canadians feel as though their voices are being heard. Under the rules of natural justice, when witnesses are being heard, people have the right to ask those stakeholders questions and cross-examine them.
What did the Liberals allow to happen in the case of Kinder Morgan? They allowed people who represent Kinder Morgan to come and give their opinion. Then, rather than saying that it was an opinion, they said that it was evidence, facts. It cannot be evidence or facts if no one had the right to ask them any questions about their testimony or cross-examine them. That is a violation of the rules of natural justice, but the Liberal Prime Minister is trying to cover it up and lead us to believe that he changed the process.
There are rules of sustainable development. When I was the Quebec environment minister, I banned seismic testing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for 10 years. Shortly after that ban was lifted, seismic testing was conducted for another pipeline, the energy east project. Seismic testing was done right in the middle of a beluga whale breeding ground. It is mind-boggling.
I am proud to have included a provision in Quebec's Sustainable Development Act, which I presented in the National Assembly and which was unanimously passed, that changed the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, just as my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona here, in the House of Commons, is proposing to change Canadian law to recognize the right to live in a healthy environment, under existing legislation. The David Suzuki Foundation, among others, has used this provision of the Quebec charter to stop seismic testing in the habitat of beluga whales, a species that is already threatened in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
How can the public have confidence in either Kinder Morgan or energy east?
In the case of energy east, it is worth remembering that if we go to Quebec City, we will see very large crude carriers right across from there, at the big Valero refinery. If we go to Sorel-Tracy, we will see even larger crude carriers filling up the new Enbridge Line 9B that was recently installed. What they are doing is so obviously dangerous that those crude carriers are only allowed to fill up to a certain level because they are close to the bottom of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Between a train, a pipeline, and one of those very large crude carriers dumping in that ecosystem in the St. Lawrence, I know which one is more dangerous. I also know that it has to be studied. It does not make any sense that in Canada right now, we are importing crude oil from insecure foreign sources like Algeria and Russia, and having it refined at Valero's large refinery in Saint-Romuald across from Quebec City.
However, we cannot even have that discussion because neither Kinder Morgan nor energy east can go forward. There is no thorough, credible evaluation process for that type of project in Canada right now. The reason we do not have that project is because the Liberal government and the Liberal Prime Minister broke their word.
Recent spills have demonstrated that B.C. is not prepared to deal with current traffic, much less with a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic. B.C.'s coast and economy are too important to risk. That is why we are demanding a new and comprehensive review process, exactly what the Liberals promised but have not delivered, that would address environmental concerns, properly consult with first nations, fully evaluate regional economic impacts, and allow for full public participation.
I go back to the words of the member for Winnipeg, who reminded us that he has played some kind of role with regard to sustainable development in the past. That makes it even more unpardonable, because he does not even have the excuse of ignorance. He is claiming to have social license to go forward with Kinder Morgan. He has no such social licence. His government has no such social licence.
We are also demanding that the review process that addresses those environmental concerns properly consults with first nations, fully evaluates regional economic impacts, and allows for full public participation. That's the only way to obtain that social licence. Pre-election, the Prime Minister knew that. It is too bad that the post-election Prime Minister will not admit it.
Under Stephen Harper's NEB process, the public was excluded and hundreds of applications to provide comment were rejected. As I mentioned earlier, there was no ability to cross-examine witnesses. Important issues were also ignored, including climate impacts. In addition, first nations were not adequately consulted.
Even the government’s own ministerial panel on the project criticized the significant gaps in the NEB process and found that the proposal could not proceed. Was it not enough that the National Energy Board had met in private with the former premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, to figure out how to better sell the energy east project? Since when is a decision pre-determined by people whose only mandate is to listen to the evidence, weigh what is presented in public, and make a decision based on what was heard and in accordance with the rules?
I often say that, generally speaking, it is just as big of a mistake to decide in advance that a project cannot go ahead as it is to decide in advance that it must. There was only one time in my career that I refused to consider a project. It was another project in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the completely ludicrous Rabaska project, which sought to bring huge ships filled with liquid natural gas to a terminal located across from Île d'Orléans and Quebec City, where it would be converted back into gas. It was so dangerous and so absurd that I said I would not even consider it.
Similarly, I was one of the people that said that there was no way that the Douglas Channel project near Kitimat, in northern British Columbia, should go forward. The name Thomas suits me because I always want to go and see and touch things for myself, so I went to visit the Douglas Channel with my friend and colleague who represents that area of British Columbia, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. There, I was able to see for myself that the idea of bringing large tankers into that channel was absolutely insane.
It is therefore possible for a government to refuse to even consider a project, so why then did the Liberals have reports from the National Energy Board on the Trans Mountain project? There were two projects: one in northern British Columbia and the other in the south. As a result, there were two reports from the NEB. In the case of the Douglas Channel in northern B.C., the NEB said that the project could not go forward unless it was sustainable, unless the first nations were consulted, and unless it obtained social licence. However, the NEB said that everything was fine for the project in the southern part of the province. That does not make any sense.
Even the panel co-chair reported that everywhere they went there were issues with confidence, transparency, independence, safety, and security. The Kinder Morgan pipeline will not be going ahead because the Liberals did not respect their promise to British Columbians to bring in a new process that would be credible, thorough, transparent, and that the public could have confidence in. Without those key elements, none of these major projects can go ahead, because in this day and age the public knows we have an obligation not just to ourselves now, but to future generations. That is the essence of sustainability, and that is why the New Democratic Party will be opposing the motion, and why we oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline.