House of Commons Hansard #363 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was north.

Topics

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I heard the member talk about the need to bring our natural resources forward so they can be properly sold, and I heard other Conservatives talk the same line tonight. However, when we talk about oil specifically, when Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, 99% of our oil was exported to the United States. When he left in 2015, 99% of our oil was still exported to the United States. There was no attempt, or at least no successful attempt, to diversify that marketplace and to get our oil anywhere other than where it was already going, the United States. In fact, the four pipelines the previous government did touch in one way or another in getting approvals and some kind of work done on them only contributed to our continued export of our oil to the U.S.

Therefore, if the Conservatives are so interested in making sure we are selling our natural resources to other markets for the betterment of our economy, could he please explain why they were unable to do anything on that front for a solid 10 years?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

December 3rd, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, I am glad the member opposite recognizes the fact that we had four major pipeline projects built. The thing that he failed to mention was the fact that northern gateway was approved and ready to be built until the Liberals brought in the tanker moratorium with Bill C-48. That would have definitely brought our oil to foreign markets.

Another thing he failed to mention was energy east, for which the government moved the goal posts and demanded an upstream and downstream calculation of the CO2 emissions the pipeline project would have produced. That deemed the project uneconomical. The company basically said that if the government continued to put up hurdles or hoops for it to jump through, it would take its ball and go home, particularly when other jurisdictions around the world were reducing red tape and making it more exciting to do business there.

I am glad the member recognizes the four pipelines we built. I am upset that he forgot to mention energy east and the northern gateway.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Madam Speaker, I want to remind the member that the issue before the House today is the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, which are very important to my riding. The member chose to speak mostly about Bill C-69.

I also want to point out that oil exploration in the Beaufort Sea peaked in 2008. World markets declined, and in the previous five years leading up to that decision, only $7 million was spent on the Beaufort Sea, amounting to a little over $1 million a year to keep the licences and permits going. No work was created. After one year of consultation with existing rights holders, territorial government and indigenous governments, everyone now agrees how important it is to protect the unique offshore environment and that we need to pursue oil and gas development in a safe way.

I totally agree with the member that the north should be keeping the royalties, but should we not also be deciding what is best for ourselves in the north?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, that is exactly what the entire thrust of my speech was. Bill C-88 imposes a drilling moratorium in the Beaufort Sea from Ottawa. That is precisely what the member seems not to want, yet he is standing and saying that is not the case.

He talks about royalties, but if there is no drilling going on, there will be no royalties. I ask the member for the Northwest Territories to stand and defend the interests of the people of the Northwest Territories. The resources being developed would bring improvement to the quality of life in the Northwest Territories, if we can get some of our resources to market.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Trois-Rivières, Rail Transportation; the hon. member for Saskatoon West, Public Transportation; and the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, Infrastructure.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Madam Speaker, Bill C-88 would have a negative effect on Canadians in northern communities, who are already struggling to survive. When will enough be enough? Northerners are struggling to access basic resources like affordable groceries, water, high-speed Internet, safe roads and health care. Why is the Liberal government making life even harder for northern Canadians by restricting some of the largest sectors in the north, Canadian energy and, indirectly, the mining industry?

I regret to inform the House that Bill C-88 would repeal and reverse the land and water board restructuring changes the Conservatives passed in the Northwest Territories Devolution Act. It would also further polarize and politicize the regulatory and environmental process for resource extraction in Canada's north by giving the Liberal cabinet ultimate power to stop projects as it suits its political agenda. Northerners deserve increased autonomy over their natural resources sector. The Liberal government needs to stop meddling in the affairs of the north for its own gain.

Bill C-88 is an unnecessary and paternalistic blockade of oil and gas development in the Arctic and other northern regions. I must say that Bill C-88 fails on all fronts. It fails to respect workers in the oil and gas sector, fails to protect investments in the development of remote areas, fails to protect Canadian aboriginal communities on the path to reconciliation and, most disturbingly, fails to give northern communities the autonomy they deserve.

Bill C-88 would be particularly hard on the oil and gas sector. The government's failure to get key energy projects completed and to invest in the north is threatening expansion of the oil and gas sector, putting tens of thousands of good-paying, high-quality jobs at risk. While big American oil companies are getting discounts of over $100 million a day on Canadian oil, Canadian oil still needs to reach international markets.

Bill C-88 is yet another anti-energy policy, making getting and keeping jobs in one of Canada's largest economic industries nearly impossible. Canada's Conservatives will continue to fight for Canada's resource sector and the hard-working Canadians whose livelihoods depend on energy. They can count on us to stand up against a government determined to phase out their jobs.

On another note, Bill C-88 fails to take into consideration economic development in remote indigenous and non-indigenous communities in the north. The north is a key driver of economic activity in Canada. There is no doubt that Canada's north should be treated with the respect it deserves. Conservatives know that economic prosperity in the north does not mean ruining landscapes or harming the environment. Economic investment in the north means finding jobs for Canadians in some of the most remote areas of our country, it means economic prosperity for our economy as a whole and, most importantly, economic investment in the north means food on the table for thousands of Canadian families currently struggling to get by.

The Liberal government is hiking taxes on over 90% of middle-class families in the north. Despite the government's lavish spending, Canadian northerners are no further ahead. We need to promote effective investments in important areas in the north, such as health care, housing and quality drinking water. It is also important to spend money that translates into tangible results for northern Canadians.

Bill C-88 is nothing more than a ploy to win votes in urban centres rather than actually reduce poverty in the northern regions of Canada. We need to put Canadians first, not politicians and their concealed agendas. We need a government that will take the right steps to create sustainable economic opportunities for northerners in Canada. It is time that we started investing properly in the north so we can reap the rewards of economic prosperity for decades to come.

Bill C-88 also fails to adequately support the economic needs of indigenous peoples in Canada. It would significantly impact Canada's northern indigenous populations. Representing a rural riding with a large indigenous population, I know that the rights and sovereignty of Canada's indigenous people must be respected. We must work collaboratively with the indigenous populations in the north to put forward policies that make real and measurable improvements in the lives of Canada's indigenous people.

The Liberals failed to take the necessary steps to create sustainable economic opportunities for indigenous people in remote communities. By cancelling key energy projects, delaying offshore oil and gas projects in the Arctic for five years and imposing out-of-control taxes on rural populations, the future for Canada's northern indigenous populations is not looking bright.

Conservatives support advancing the process of reconciliation but also realize there is no lasting reconciliation between the Canadian government and indigenous populations without economic reconciliation. We must empower indigenous communities through job opportunities, industry and economic growth, rather than take valuable opportunities away.

Last but not least, northerners deserve a greater say in their own regional affairs. Canadians do not want Big Brother. The government needs to establish a plan to both respect northern sovereignty and promote economic prosperity in the north. The Liberal government's plan to impose restrictions on the northern economy will have serious long-term effects on the people living in remote communities.

We need to give autonomy back to people living in the north. Political elites in Ottawa should not get the final say on what energy projects get approved and which energy projects get denied. We need to consult workers and other stakeholders in the north before deciding to scrap potentially valuable energy projects. If we take away northerners' voices on these issues, the communities that can least afford these dangerous polices will be the ones most impacted.

Looking to the future, we need a government that will respect the autonomy of the north, provide economic opportunities for Canada's indigenous populations, invest in northern economic prosperity and protect Canada's oil and gas workers.

Conservatives do not support Bill C-88 and the Liberal government's anti-energy policies. Together, we should change this legislation to better support Canadian industry in the north, and protect the livelihoods of the tens of thousands of workers in northern Canada.

The Northwest Territories has vast underdeveloped oil and gas reserves. It is estimated that the Northwest Territories potentially hold as much as 37% of Canada's marketable light crude oil resources and 35% of its marketable natural gas resources. Like Bill C-69, Bill C-88 will have Ottawa pick the winners and losers. Even if northern industries jump through all the hoops and meet all the criteria, Ottawa can simply say, “No, game over.”

We should have Canadian oil in every refinery in Canada, and jobs for Canadians, not for Saudi Arabia, and support made, produced and manufactured in Canada.

The Liberal government record is shameful. It killed northern gateway by putting a tanker ban on the west coast. Then it created a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Beaufort Sea, an announcement made in December 2016 without even consulting northerners.

The government killed energy east by changing the environmental assessment process almost monthly and then added upstream and downstream emissions, which is not applied to any other industry in the world. The list goes on.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, the member took a bit of time to talk about making sure that indigenous governments and the rights of the local people in the Northwest Territories were respected in the process, but I asked a question previously about the Conservative government's inability to deliver on any kind of natural resource or, in particular, oil delivery and mobility.

The problem is that while at the same time the Harper government was touting this economic superpower idea of all the oil and everything we could do with it during the 10 years the Harper government was around, the Conservatives also spent a considerable amount of time attacking indigenous people, trampling on their rights in fact, attacking the environment and climate initiatives and organizations that were out there to do that. Effectively that put a target on the back of the oil industry.

I want to know how the member can stand here today and talk about protecting the rights of locals, in particular in these communities, while at the same time Stephen Harper and his government exactly undermined them for 10 years.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Madam Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories and indigenous peoples should be responsible for their own development. We do not need Ottawa there to determine whether a project goes ahead or not. As I said earlier, industry can jump through all the hoops, back and forth, doing everything the government wants, but at the end of the day, the government can say yes or no, based on a whim.

I would like to rephrase your question by asking this: What can we do to give the rights back to the indigenous peoples and the Northwest Territories?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I do want to remind the member that it was not my question, and I would ask him to address questions and comments to the Chair in such a way that they are not going directly to a member.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Sherbrooke.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I am trying to follow the Conservatives' logic on natural resources development, especially in terms of natural resources transportation.

Earlier, I asked a question about how this debate is being politicized. A Conservative member said it is vital for communities, the provinces and the territories to have the final say. In his speech, the member said that the government must make sure local communities and the government of the land in question have decision-making power with respect to oil and natural resource transportation projects.

Logically, then, do the Conservatives agree that, when a province and its government oppose a natural resource transportation project, as Quebec's National Assembly opposed energy east, the Conservative Party would honour that consensus and agree that the project cannot go ahead without the approval of the whole province?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Madam Speaker, there are things that are in the national interest, and we have to ensure we have consultation and ensure everyone is at the table when making a decision. However, when it comes to a national interest, like energy east, that means jobs for Canadians. Right now we are buying the majority of our oil from Saudi Arabia for the east coast here. We have practically zero Canadian oil.

When it comes to Canadians, every decision should be based on what is best for Canada, what is best for the community and for the indigenous community. We all have a voice, but when we make a decision it should be after consultations with everybody involved. Our approach is to use science and make sure that whatever we do is better for all Canadians.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise and address the many issues that come before the House, and this bill is yet another good example of legislation that has been well done.

At the end of the day, members will see there is wide support for the legislation in the communities that are most impacted. More than that, I would suggest that Canadians as a whole have confidence in this government's ability to manage our resources in a fair fashion that sees the national interest served, that the environment is addressed and ensures that consultations take place, whether they are with indigenous people, provincial or territorial governments or organizations. We take this responsibility very seriously. In fact, we have seen ministers of the Crown make a great deal of effort in reaching out to the many different communities and to stakeholders. Ultimately, it allows us to put together the type of legislation that we have.

If there is one single aspect of this legislation that we need to make note of, it would likely be how Bill C-88 would fix a problem that was created by Stephen Harper a number of years ago when the government at the time brought in Bill C-15. Members from both sides of the House have referred to Bill C-15.

I had the opportunity to address the bill a number of years ago when I was on the opposition benches. If memory serves me correctly, I was somewhat critical of the inability of Stephen Harper's government to work with the different stakeholders, and I would put a special emphasis on indigenous people. I remember talking with my colleague from the north, the member for Yukon, about this particular issue when the Conservatives were making some of these changes. I remember how passionate he was as a northerner, and also as an elected official in recognizing the harm that was being caused.

Fast forward to today, and as I listened to my colleague from the Northwest Territories speak to the legislation, I have a better understanding of how he and his family have been long-time advocates for the issues in the Northwest Territories, which could be broadened to include northern Canada. One cannot help but be inspired by the level of dedication and strong sense of commitment to ensure that what we are doing is moving us forward in the right direction. This is why I thought it was important to listen to the member for Northwest Territories, as he has a great deal of knowledge on such an important issue.

The Prime Minister talked a great deal, even before the last national election, about the issue of indigenous people, and ensuring that they are enabled to provide the strong and healthy leadership we know they are very capable of and to ensure that they are sitting at the table. The Prime Minister often talks about the importance of that relationship.

I have listened to the questions and comments coming from the Conservatives. However, I can see within the questions and comments from my colleague and friend from the Northwest Territories his caring attitude in regard to what was done and what it is that this legislation is attempting to undo.

Let me be a bit more specific. Bill C-15 says that we have these land and water management boards that were responsible for different geographical areas. Through Bill C-15, the Conservatives wanted to get rid of those boards in favour of one super board.

If that had been an honest reflection of what was being pushed for by the affected communities, I suspect there would have been more sympathy toward at least that very aspect of Bill C-15. There was a great deal of resistance to the bill. There are communities today that feel fairly positive about the way Bill C-88 would reverse that aspect of Bill C-15.

I wanted to highlight that for the simple reason that at the end of the day we want there to be a sense of fairness among the different decision-makers. By recognizing the important role that not one so-called super board would play but that those local, decentralized boards would play is a positive step forward.

It might take some time to work over some of the issues as a result of the actions taken by the Stephen Harper Conservatives at the time but we have to recognize that Bill C-88 is a move forward in the right direction.

I had the opportunity to do a bit of research thanks to Google maps just to get a sense of the Mackenzie Valley. It is a huge area. The basin that feeds into the Mackenzie River is probably larger than the land mass of most countries around the world. We are talking about a significant amount of land and waterways. I understand it begins in Fort Providence, where my colleague from Northwest Territories calls home nowadays, which is really the southern beginning of the valley.

Even though I have never had the pleasure to visit that area, I have seen, as I am sure all members have seen, documentaries and films, through which I got a fairly good sense of everything that the Northwest Territories has to offer. From what I have seen, that mass of land and water is most impressive.

The Prime Minister decided that we needed that moratorium. It is interesting to note that the Conservative member who spoke before me asked about the national interest. I would suggest that the moratorium was in the national interest. Not only was it in the interest of the Northwest Territories but it was in the national interest.

Canadians genuinely are concerned about their environment. They are concerned about how we draw resources out of the environment and transport them.

Canadians understand and appreciate that the people who really know the area the best are the people who call that area home. They really have the experience and the knowledge to ensure that the types of decisions being made take our environment into consideration.

Dealing with things of this nature has to factor in indigenous people and other stakeholders. I am quite pleased with the way the government has said that we want to make sure that the types of consultations that were required were going to be done, and that is why it has taken as long as it has to come before the House. There is so much to lose if we do not do this right. I look to those leaders in the Northwest Territories to provide strong leadership on this front.

I do not question how important it is to protect our environment, but I also know how important it is that we continue to develop our communities, economically in particular, and how that economic growth benefits people who live in the northwest or live in northern Canada but also benefits everyone in Canada.

I will go back to that concept of the national interest. There are many Canadians who travel to the north periodically, whether for tourism or other reasons. Tourism in the area, my colleagues from the north will tell us, has fantastic potential for growth and that is one of the reasons we want to protect our harbour and the environment. I suspect that there is a growing demand for workers from down south to be able to be able to fulfill some of that potential for growth into the future. In fact, I was talking to my friend from Yukon. He was telling me how the Filipino community is starting to grow up north.

A big part of economic development is to ensure that the government has the financial resources to provide the types of programs that we have heard about today, whether it is health care, education, training programs or protection of our environment. All of these take money and one of the ways we can accrue the financial resources to provide those types of services to Canadians is through the development of our natural resources.

Let there be no doubt that there is a great deal of development potential in Canada's north. If we work with others and look for the leadership of those who are living in the communities, we can actually manage that development in such a way that everyone wins. This is something that as a government we have demonstrated that we are committed to doing. I could give tangible examples.

Conservative after Conservative have stood up today in their place and been critical of this government's inability to get a pipeline to the Pacific Ocean for markets out in that area, looking at China and beyond. However, what the Conservatives do not tell us is that this government, in managing both the environment and the economy and working collaboratively with the stakeholders, in particular indigenous people and provincial governments, was able to accomplish something that Stephen Harper could not accomplish in 10 years.

For the first time in many years, we now have the potential to see a pipeline that will deliver our commodity to other regions of the world, outside the United States. Some of my Conservative colleagues are snickering at that comment, but that is the reality. Even today, the Minister of Natural Resources made reference to the fact that when Stephen Harper became prime minister, over 99% of our oil commodity was being sold into the United States. After being the prime minister for 10 years, the Conservatives had failed Canadians, failed Albertans and they did not materialize, as this government did materialize, in a very real and tangible way.

The Conservatives are critical and ask about the national interest. I would suggest that is a very good example of why we bought the pipeline. I am very proud that we have a government that is committed to ensuring that we manage our natural resources and the many different commodities that we have.

The government is not prepared to forsake the environment, to forsake the importance of having individuals living in those communities engaged, and that is what I like about Bill C-88. It reinforces the importance of that, and it does it primarily through getting rid of the one aspect of Bill C-15 that was so poorly received by the communities directly affected. That is one of the reasons why I suspect that this legislation will get support from all political entities within the chamber, with one possible exception. I should not say the possible exception, I understand the Conservatives will be opposing the legislation.

However, I do believe there is better understanding coming from the other parties in the House. I believe that if the Conservatives would start listening a little more to what Canadians have to say about a series of important public issues, they, too, might be more inclined to recognize the merits of Bill C-88 and get behind the legislation itself.

I want to highlight a couple of other issues that I think are important to recognize. There is a cost recovery component to the legislation, where the bill includes a regulation making authority for cost recovery. This would allow cost recovery from proponents on major development proposals undergoing environmental impact assessments, as well as ensuring a water licensing process undertaken by a land and water board. The issue of cost recovery has been talked about a great deal over the years, and I thought it had received fairly wide support from all sides of the House.

There are administrative monetary penalties within the legislation. The bill proposes a scheme for administrative monetary penalties through regulations, including the power to designate the offences under the act that may be considered violations. The determination of the penalty amounts for each violation, the maximum amount for these penalties would be $25,000 for individuals and $100,000 for organizations.

I want to also recognize that the legislation provides some certainty for industries, which is also very important, given the moratorium that was put in place. However, let us recognize that the moratorium was a good thing for Canada. It was a very good thing.

At the end of the day, this is a government that takes our environment seriously, unlike the Conservatives. This is a government that understands the importance of the development of our natural resources, and it is a government that recognizes the importance of working with people.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I applaud the sense of humour of my colleague from Winnipeg North when he talked about the pipeline being a good deal, when we saw $4.5 billion of Canadian taxpayers' money going to Houston instead of being invested here in Canada. I very much respect him, but I am very surprised that he said that.

More seriously, why are we talking about the petroleum industry? I am wondering what my hon. colleague's thoughts are after the statement made by the Prime Minister about oilmen working hard in the oil industry. Those people are being insulted by the Prime Minister. What are his thoughts on that?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister is someone who truly cares about what is taking place in the province of Alberta. This Prime Minister, with all seriousness, has done more for the advancement of the economy in Alberta than Stephen Harper did. All one needs to do is look at the western diversification fund. We can talk about capital infrastructure through many programs initiated by this government in the province of Alberta and about establishing a process that will see oil ultimately reach markets other than just the United States. Harper talked, but this is a Prime Minister who has actually delivered for the province of Alberta and all people.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Madam Speaker, I will give the Prime Minister credit. He has united everyone in Alberta against him. That is what he has done. That is all he has done.

I want to get back to the issue at hand. The member talked about the previous government's Bill C-15. He must have thought it was okay, because he voted in favour of it. The Liberal Party voted in favour of Bill C-15, and now he is pretending that it was an egregious piece of legislation that had to be withdrawn.

The member also talked about the moratorium on offshore oil and gas as being great for Canada. Maybe he should talk to Premier Bob McLeod, who felt that it was so egregious, he issued a red alert on the colonial attack on the territories' oil and gas future. He said, “The promise of the North is fading and the dreams of northerners are dying as we see a re-emergence of colonialism.”

When the Prime Minister announced the offshore moratorium, he did it from Washington, D.C., and did not even have the courtesy to inform Bob McLeod until an hour before he made that announcement with Barack Obama, as Barack Obama was on his way out of office as a lame duck president.

Conservatives will take no lessons from the Liberal Party, which treats northerners as though Ottawa knows best. That is what the member just said. He confirmed again that the offshore moratorium, which was an insult to northerners, was actually a great thing for Canada. Why does he not stand up and apologize to the people of the north?

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5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, we are going to have to agree to disagree. There is legislation before us that would rectify a serious flaw in Bill C-15. If the member reflected on what I said in Hansard about Bill C-15, I am sure he would find that I was somewhat critical of the government for not working with the communities to bring forward legislation that reflected what I believed, at the time, would have been a much better approach than the Stephen Harper attitude toward consultations. The legislation before us today has taken the time it has because the government has been working with the people of the Northwest Territories, other stakeholders, indigenous groups and many other individuals.

With regard to the moratorium, I suspect that we would find fairly good support from all regions of the country, including the Northwest Territories, on the value of ensuring that we have a process that protects our environment. That was the primary purpose of the moratorium. Unlike the Conservatives, we believe that the environment is worth fighting for.

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5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Madam Speaker, I heard the Conservatives mention a number of things in the last couple of hours regarding the north. They talked about oil and gas infrastructure in the Beaufort Sea. I should point out that there is no oil and gas infrastructure in Beaufort Sea.

I heard them talk about sharing the resource royalties from the oil and gas, but there is none. They also talked about the concern that we shut down activity in the Beaufort. There is and has been no activity for a long while.

I would like to ask the member if he would agree that we should instead shift our focus to investing in navigational aids, spill response, and necessary infrastructure, such as ports, and then should conduct a thorough, scientific review. We would probably have the support of northern communities behind us, knowing that we have a good plan.

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5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, this is why I am such a big fan of my friend and colleague from the Northwest Territories. What we hear from the Conservative benches is a lot of criticism based on Conservative Stephen Harper's spin documents. Those documents say that there is in fact oil and gas, and that is why they continue to read it.

Contrast that to the member who actually lives in the community. He talks about the future in terms of how important the ports are. Maybe we should be looking at ways we can invest in ports. There are many other aspects of potential development in our north that could, in fact, lead to all sorts of wonderful opportunities. It is not all about oil and gas. That is how the Conservatives see it.

There are many other opportunities. Earlier in my comments, I highlighted tourism, the idea of ports and anything related to aviation, which would allow individuals to experience the great white outdoors and the beautiful summertime. That takes investing in infrastructure. That is something I believe is just as important as we continue to have that dialogue with individuals who call the north home. That is where the leadership for the development of the Northwest Territories is going to come from.

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5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, I am going to go to part A of the bill. I am not sure if the member is aware, but the report done by McCrank says, “the current regulatory processes in the Northwest Territories are complex, costly, unpredictable and time consuming.”

To amalgamate while respecting indigenous rights, he said,

The approach would address the complexity and capacity issues inherent to the current model by making more efficient use of expenditure and administrative resources. It would also allow for administrative practices to be understandable and consistent.

I guess he thinks it is great to go back to the system of war. Is he saying that McCrank was wrong? What has your government done to actually make sure it has dealt with all those problems that were identified?

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5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I want to ask the member to ensure that she addresses the questions to the Chair and not directly to the government.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

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5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, Neil McCrank was wrong. That, I guess, is the essence of the answer to my colleague's question.

Stephen Harper at the time believed that he could have one board to replace the others. He was prepared to do that at all costs. He was not listening to what people within the community actually had to say. Rather, he seemed to be focused on one or two possible Conservatives and at the end of the day did not take into consideration the importance of the community nor the importance of the environment.

Ultimately, that is the reason we are having to make the change. It is something that is overdue, and I am glad the minister was able to bring forth the legislation. I would ask my friends across the way to reconsider their position, as this is good legislation that would make a positive difference up north.

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5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Chilliwack—Hope.

As always, I am honoured to represent the constituents of Saskatoon—Grasswood today in the House as we speak to Bill C-88.

As members may or may not know, I am a member of the indigenous and northern affairs committee, and on October 15 of this year, we undertook a study on northern infrastructure projects and strategies. At the meetings we have heard from federal government officials as well as from territorial and local government officials. We have also heard from indigenous groups and a variety of stakeholder groups. We have learned many interesting things, but the one common theme in all the testimony we have heard for months is that there is a real need for infrastructure in the north. People in the north do not need more rules. People in the north do not need more regulations, and people in the north do not need moratoriums. What they do need is infrastructure.

The members opposite will argue, and we have heard this all day, that Bill C-88 is a remake of a piece of Conservative legislation that received royal assent in 2014 and then faced a court challenge. Bill C-88 still incorporates many of the changes the Conservative legislation made with respect to new environmental enforcement powers and requiring project proponents to cover the cost of the review process. However, it did not carry the weight of a carbon tax, which the current government wants to bring to northern Canada.

The concern from industry, obviously, about the added carbon tax cost and all the new federal environmental red tape, combined with the lack of infrastructure, is that it already costs a lot more to develop a project in the north compared to any temperate location. With the new Liberal regulatory costs, the high business taxes, the carbon tax that is coming in and charging for the cost of the review process, we might as well take out an ad in Bloomberg News saying, “Canada's north is definitely closed for business.”

This is not an overreaction. Let me share some of the testimony from Brendan Marshall, vice-president of economic and northern affairs for the Mining Association of Canada. He said:

Currently, domestic legislative and regulatory processes with implications for project permitting and costs persist, while recent supply chain failures have damaged Canada's reputation as a reliable trade partner. Further, recent tax reform in the U.S. has significantly enhanced that jurisdiction's investment competitiveness over Canada's.

We certainly have echoed that for the past number of months. The tax changes made in the United States are eating corporate Canada. Mr. Marshall continued:

The impact of this uncertainty has been felt by Canada's mining industry, where investment has dropped more than 50%, or $68 billion, since 2014, amid a strong price rebound for many commodities over the last three years.

I will read a few more quotes from evidence at our committee meetings in the last month or two. The hon. Wally Schumann, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment and Minister of Infrastructure for the Government of the Northwest Territories, said in our meeting:

The Northwest Territories is home to many of the minerals that will fuel the global green economy, including cobalt, gold, lithium...and rare earth elements. Alongside our mineral resources, our territory has significant energy power potential. As we continue our shift to low-carbon alternatives, our hydro development has the potential to meet market needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions....

Despite our enormous economic potential and strong indigenous partners, the Northwest Territories is still hindered, in that we still require much of the basic infrastructure that already exists in southern jurisdictions. This includes roads to which many of our communities do not have access. In partnership with Canada, we need to continue to build territorial and community infrastructure to support healthy and prosperous communities and to lower the cost of living [that we are seeing today in northern Canada].

However, Bill C-88 would not provide any of that. Merven Gruben, the mayor of the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, said:

It's kind of déjà vu. In 2012, I was invited to come here and speak to a panel as well. I think it was just about the same people, or the same panel. We did such a good presentation in the fall of 2012, that in February 2013 our friend Mr. Flaherty—rest in peace—announced in the budget that we were going to get $199 million for our highway. That was the beginning of our Tuk-Inuvik highway. I don't know why we call it Tuk-Inuvik highway. I like to call it the highway to Tuk. It's just the finishing off of the Dempster Highway, the Diefenbaker highway. That's what it should be, the road to resources.

Anyway, we got this highway built, and unbelievably, this year we had 5,000 people come to Tuk—5,000 tourists. On a good year, we maybe get about 2,500....It's just a total game-changer.

Mr. Gruben went on to say:

We're proud people who like to work for a living. We're not used to getting social assistance and that kind of stuff. Now we're getting tourists coming up, but that's small change compared to when you work in oil and gas and you're used to that kind of living. Our people are used to that. We're not used to selling trinkets and T-shirts and that kind of stuff....We're sitting on trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. It's right under our feet, yet we're shipping diesel and gasoline from far away.

This just does not make any sense at all.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the more troubling aspects of the bill is, specifically, the proposed amendments to the CPRA, which will authorize the Governor in Council to issue an order when, in the national interest, prohibiting existing exploration licence and significant discovery licence holders from carrying out any oil and gas activities.

What company would invest its shareholders' money to develop an oil or gas deposit when there is a possibility that the government could come in at any time and shut it down? What exactly do we mean by the “national interest”? There is no explanation. Perhaps an example or two of what the Liberals mean by that would certainly clarify it.

The mandate letter of the sponsor of the bill reads in part:

As Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, your goal will be to implement national commitments and priorities that depend on strong relationships with other orders of government, creating good middle class jobs, growing the economy, and advocating for and achieving improved trade between provinces and territories. You will also work to address the needs and priorities of Northerners.

Bill C-88 certainly stifles the creation of good, middle-class jobs. It would not grow the economy at all. It certainly would not address the needs and priorities of northern Canadians. It is going to be very difficult for the residents of the north to attract resource development companies when they do not have the needed infrastructure, and the onerous tax burdens and regulatory hoops they have to jump through.

We have talked in committee about infrastructure in northern aboriginal communities. We have talked about transportation, energy and telecommunications. On transportation alone, due to the lack of efficient transportation systems, costly workarounds must be developed.

The government must know that it really cannot have it both ways. It cannot attract investment in Canada, in particular in the north, where its penchant for taxes and onerous rules and regulations live on. We have seen this time and again in the country. Now northern Canada is feeling the wrath of the Liberals.

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5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I think a couple of the member's colleagues said that they supported indigenous self-government, controlling one's own destiny.

The Sahtu and the Tlicho have self-governing modern treaties. I wonder if the member supports that.

While he is thinking of the answer, to show their support, all the MPs in the House are invited by Chief Roberta Joseph from Dawson City to the AFN reception, second floor of the Westin Hotel, to protect the Porcupine caribou herd, starting in half an hour. If they cannot make that, I will invite everyone in the House, and in fact in the country, to come to Yukon Day tomorrow, at 5:30 p.m., at 228 Valour Building.

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5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for the invitation. Unfortunately, tonight we have some votes in the House of Commons, so we cannot make the reception, but we will be there tomorrow on behalf of the Conservative Party.

It is interesting, because when we look at Bill C-88, it consists of two parts. Part 1 would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, which was initially passed under the Chrétien Liberals back in 1998, 20 years ago. Of course it was amended by our former Conservative government within Bill C-15, for which the Liberals, who were third party back in 2014, voted.

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5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, frequently the Liberals in their speeches have talked about the importance of consultation and engagement and working together in partnership.

I wonder how my colleague would describe the Prime Minister, while he was in Washington, making a grand statement about a moratorium on oil and gas in the Beaufort, giving a 20 minute notice to territorial governments and having no conversation at all. It was a decision that impacted across the north and without one word of consultation.

Could the member comment on the way the Liberals have said glowingly how much importance they put on consultation and working in partnership?