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.