Legislation and the policy of government must be based on logic, on science, and on sound consultation. I want to focus my comments on the process of consultation, which, I am hearing from Canadians in my riding of Langley—Aldergrove, is disingenuous and may be fake consultation giving the impression of consultation.
The Liberals, unfortunately, have a timeline they have set. It is often not well thought out. They set a target date, they make the announcements, and they move forward. Consultation is part of the optics, but their minds are already made up.
Bill C-55 would make the minister responsible for increasing the portion of Canada's marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020. For the previous government, protected areas were very important. There is a legacy of Liberal governments creating a mess and ignoring the environment and then Conservative governments being brought in to clean up the mess, and that has happened throughout Canadian history. That is what happened over the last nine years under a Conservative government. It increased the protected areas, but it was done based on science and based on consultation.
On a personal note, I love the environment. I consider myself an environmentalist. I spend lots of time walking in the forest. We have an invasive species called English ivy. In off hours, I get some exercise but also do tangible things to improve the environment around where I live. I cut off the bottom seven feet of English ivy that is growing around beautiful cedar trees. There is lots of cottonwood, birch, and alder. These trees will die if we do not take care of them and take off that invasive species, so I do that. Behind our townhouse complex in a beautiful pathway that goes through the forest. It is called Fairy Lane. We have not seen the Prime Minister with his shirt off running around through the forest yet, but maybe one day. For my wife and I, next month will be our 45th anniversary. Diane and I were married in 1972, and she is the best thing that ever happened to me. We like to walk in the forest and enjoy the environment.
As Parliament, we have a responsibility to make sure that we are protecting the environment for ourselves but also for the coming generations: our children, our grandchildren, and future generations. I am proud of the accomplishments of the previous Conservative government, but I am very concerned that the current Liberal government is making mistakes similar to those that past Liberal governments made. I am referring to past comments by the Environment Commissioner. The Environment Commissioner, relating to the past Liberal government, said that there is a gap between what the Liberal government said it would do and what it is actually doing. Good intentions are not enough. Another report from the commissioner, referring to the Liberal government, said, “When it comes to protecting the environment, bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground. The federal government seems to have trouble crossing the finish line.”
Nothing has changed, it appears. The Liberal government is making announcements, proclaiming there is going to be consultation, and then is moving ahead without basing it on science or good input.
There has to be a balance, and we have heard the Prime Minister say the right things about the importance of consultation and having a balance, saying that we can have a healthy economy and a healthy environment. That is true, but again, we have to have true, genuine consultation.
When designating a marine protected area, we have to consider the impacts on local economies in fishing, in forestry, in mining, and at all levels of industry and the environment. We need to base that designation on consultation, including first nations and aboriginals. For the knowledge we need, we need to consult, and it has to be genuine consultation, and that often takes time if it is done right.
In the middle of summer, when people were enjoying time with their families after working hard and paying increasing Liberal taxes, we had an announcement that there was going to be a form of consultation that would end on October 2. This consultation is on the new Liberal tax attack on small business. It is unfair, and that is what I am hearing over and over again. The consultations are town hall meetings that are being held at 3 p.m., when Canadians are at work, again evidence that it is disingenuous.
That applies to consultation on the environment, marine protected areas, taxes, and even the artificial target date of July 1 of next year, when marijuana is to become legal in Canada. On that consultation process that the government does not want to hear, police chiefs from across Canada and saying to slow down, that we are moving too fast and that the country is not prepared for some of these changes.
Generally speaking, the consultation process appears to be disingenuous. The government is not listening to Canadians.
At the very beginning, when this Parliament started, one of the first issues I was involved with was the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Consultation happened, and I sat on both the special legislative committee and the justice committee on that issue. In my riding and a neighbouring riding, we had town hall meetings, and I reported back to the committees what we heard. That was put aside because a Liberal member said it was just a moment in time, not really true consultation, and did not represent Canadians because it was a small group of people. They were people that we represent.
Unfortunately, if the Liberal members do not hear what they want to hear, it is not reported. It is dismissed. If we are going to have true consultation, we need to listen to Canadians. We need to hear what they are saying, report it to Parliament and adjust. We should not be stuck going in one direction, unwilling to listen or to adjust and create good policy that creates a balance between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.
On Bill C-55, dealing with the marine protected areas, I want to make some very important points.
If we are not including consultation that listens and makes a difference, then we end up creating something that is rushed and does not have the desired impact. Rather than consulting communities that are most impacted by the Liberal government's plan, the minister has chosen to fast-track this process in order to meet the government's self-imposed political targets. Unfortunately, we will end up with a problem, another mess that a future Conservative government will have to clean up.