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

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is really concerning. We talk about consultations, but when it comes to the oil and gas industry, we saw no consultation on the west coast tanker ban. There was some on the moratorium on offshore oil on the Beaufort Sea. It was less than an hour before it was announced.

Could the member explain to me exactly when consultation is important and when it is not?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, Lib.

Yvonne Jones

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if any government in history has ever consulted more in our country than the government of the day. It consulted with all people, not just one group. We consult with indigenous governments, territories and provinces. We consult with industry, investors and ordinary Canadians who have an expertise or opinion in the areas on which we are focused.

We have not been out there pushing back on aboriginal land claims and rights, like the former government did. It set back aboriginal governments in the Northwest Territories by years. It unilaterally rammed legislation through the House of Commons without proper consultation. As a result, it ended up in the courts, and the Supreme Court ruled on the side of indigenous governments.

Even then, the Conservatives appealed that decision, because they could not accept that indigenous people and other Canadians outside of their government actually had rights in our country. We have an obligation and responsibility to work together to get a good path forward for all Canadians.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

December 3rd, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Before I get into the details of the bill, it is important to look at the context with respect to what has been happening over the past three years and what is starting to be a real pattern of the Liberal government. The decisions it makes consistently increase red tape and bureaucracy, and are mostly anti-resource development. This bill is no different.

I would like to talk about a few areas to show the context, which will then show that this follows a pattern that adds to what is becoming an increasing concern in the country, and that is the ability to move our natural resources forward.

When the Prime Minister took office, there were three private companies willing to invest more than $30 billion to build three nation-building pipelines that would have generated tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic opportunity. The Prime Minister and his cabinet killed two and put the Trans Mountain expansion on life support. Bill C-69 would block all future pipelines.

In addition, the government has made a number of arbitrary decisions regarding natural resource development, with absolutely no consultation with those impacted. Today, we only need to look at what is happening in Alberta with the hundreds of thousands of job losses. Who has ever heard of a premier having to decrease the production of a needed resource throughout the country and the world because we simply cannot get resources to the market? This is because of the government's failure.

The northern gateway project was approved by the former government in June 2014. It had a number of conditions on it, just like the current Trans Mountain project does.

In November 2015, just one month after being elected, the Prime Minister killed the project without hesitation. It was subject to a court challenge. When we did finally hear what came out of that court challenge, to be frank, it was nothing that could not be overcome. We could have dealt with that.

The court decision told the Prime Minister to engage in consultation in a more appropriate and balanced way. The court really gave what I would call a recipe for perhaps fixing some problems with the process.

Did he wait for the court decision? No. He went out and killed it flat. With this approved pipeline, he did not wait for a court decision or wait to see how it could move forward. He decided that he did not want that one.

I think we are all pretty aware of the Trans Mountain pipeline. It has been moving along for many years. We know that many first nations support it and hope to see it go through, as they see enormous opportunities for their communities. Of course, others are against it.

What happened in this case? When the Liberals came to government, they decided they had to have an additional consultation process. However, did they follow the directions of the court in the northern gateway decision in which the court was very clear about what the government had to do to do consultations properly? Apparently not. When the court decision came down, we learned otherwise. To be frank, it was much to my surprise, because the Liberals talked about how well they were consulting and that they were putting this additional process in place. The court said that the Liberals did not do the job. What they did was send a note-taker and not a decision-maker.

The fact that the Liberals did not consult properly on the Trans Mountain pipeline is strictly on their laps, as they had very clear guidance from the northern gateway decision and they did not do what they needed to do. They should be ashamed of themselves. Had they done a proper process, they likely would not have had to buy the pipeline, the pipeline would be in construction right now and we would be in a lot better place as a country. With respect to the Trans Mountain pipeline, the blame for where we are on that pipeline lies strictly on the laps of the Liberals.

I also want to note, in spite of what people say, that the courts have said the process was okay, so it has nothing to do with environmental legislation by the previous government or with anything the Conservatives had put in place. It was the Liberals' execution of a flawed process.

Energy east was another one. The former Liberal MP who is now the mayor of Montreal was very opposed to it. I am not sure of all the pieces that went into the Liberals' decision-making, but all of a sudden, the downstream and upstream emissions of energy east had to be measured. As people have rightfully asked, has that happened for the tankers coming down the St. Lawrence from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela? Did that happen with the bailout for Bombardier?

The Liberals created regulatory barriers. Trans Mountain hung on for a long time before it finally said no go. I think Energy east saw the writing on the wall, knowing that the government was not going to be its friend and create an environment to get the work done. It could see the new rules coming into place, so it walked. What a double standard. Canadians who extract energy in an environmentally sound and environmentally friendly way have had standards applied to their ability to move oil through a pipeline that no other country in the world imposes on companies in terms of upstream and downstream emissions.

Next on the plate is Bill C-69. A number of former Liberals are very open about their concerns about Bill C-69. Martha Hall Findlay, a very respected former Liberal MP, said in a recent Globe and Mail article that the new environmental legislation, Bill C-69, “is the antithesis of what this regulatory reform effort hopes to achieve.... [I]n its 392 pages, the word 'competitiveness' appears only twice. Neither the word 'economy' nor the phrase 'economic growth' appear at all.” We have new environmental legislation that most people call the no-more-pipeline bill.

Martha Hall Findlay went on to note that this bill would create enormous uncertainty, more red tape and increased court challenges, and not only in the energy sector but in all other infrastructure in Canada for years to come. I do not know if members are starting to see a pattern: the Liberals have killed pipelines and put in legislation preventing new pipelines from being built. I am not sure why the process with Trans Mountain was not proper; it should have been. Everyone knew what they had to do, but they did not.

Another piece of legislation that is focused on killing opportunities in this country is the tanker moratorium, Bill C-48. The government loves to talk about how it consults, consults and consults, but it only consults to get the answer it wants. There was a large group of first nations that had a huge opportunity with the Eagle Spirit pipeline that would go through its territory. It had plans, it was moving along, everything was in place, and all a sudden Bill C-48, the tanker moratorium, put its dreams and hopes to rest for a while. The interesting thing is that there was no consultation at all. There was no notice about this tanker ban, so how can there be consultation when the government does not want to do something, but vice-versa when it wants to do something?

Now I will get into the details of Bill C-88. In 2016, there was an oil and gas moratorium in the Beaufort Sea, and the interesting thing about that announcement was that for most people in Canada, it came out of nowhere. The Prime Minister did not even have the respect to hold conversations with the territorial premiers and the people most impacted. He made the announcement down in Washington, D.C., along with an “Oh, by the way” phone call 20 minutes before announcing this measure that would impact those communities. That is absolutely shameful. The Prime Minister announced a moratorium on all oil and gas development in the Beaufort Sea when he was down in the United States with President Obama at the time.

I want to read a few quotes by the community leaders subsequently. The Northwest Territories premier Bob McLeod issued a “red alert...for urgent national debate on the future of the Northwest Territories”. He wrote:

The promise of the North is fading and the dreams of northerners are dying as we see a re-emergence of colonialism....

Whether it be ill conceived ways of funding social programs, or new and perplexing restrictions on our economic development, our spirit and energy are being sapped.

That is a very different from what we just heard from the parliamentary secretary when she talked about the previous government. It is her government. Did she hear those words from the premier? He said, “our spirit and our energy are being sapped”.

Mr. McLeod further wrote:

Staying in or trying to join the middle class will become a distant dream for many....

This means that northerners, through their democratically elected government, need to have the power to determine their own fates and the practice of decisions being made by bureaucrats and governments in Ottawa must come to an end. Decisions about the North should be made in the North. The unilateral decision by the federal government, made without consultation, to impose a moratorium on arctic offshore oil and gas development is but one example of our economic self-determination being thwarted by Ottawa.

Then Nunavut premier, Peter Taptuna, told the CBC on December 22, 2016:

We do want to be getting to a state where we can make our own determination of our priorities, and the way to do that is gain meaningful revenue from resource development. And at the same time, when one potential source of revenue is taken off the table, it puts us back at practically Square 1 where Ottawa will make the decisions for us.

Merven Gruben, the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk, told the indigenous and northern affairs committee on October 22, 2018:

I was talking to [the Liberal MP for the Northwest Territories]...and he said, “Yes, Merven, we should be doing something. We should be helping you guys.”

I agree the Liberals should be helping us. They shut down our offshore gasification and put a moratorium right across the whole freaking Arctic without even consulting us. They never said a word to us.

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 [don't want to be just] selling trinkets and T-shirts.

To go to the actual bill, what we can see is that in spite of the lofty words by the parliamentary secretary, there has been a real lack of consultation on issues that are very important to northerners.

Part A would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to reverse provisions that would have consolidated the Mackenzie Valley land and water boards into one. These provisions, of course, were introduced by the former Conservative government with Bill C-15, the Northwest Territories devolution act. Part B, of course, would amend the the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

As I have already noted, this is another anti-energy policy from the Liberal government that is driving investment out of Canada, costing Canadian workers their jobs and increasing poverty rates in the north. Like Bill C-69 before it, Bill C-88 would politicize oil and gas extraction by expanding the powers of cabinet to block economic development, and would add to increasing red tape that proponents must face before even getting shovels in the ground. Further, Bill C-88 reveals a full rejection of the calls by elected territorial leaders for much of the self-autonomy they desire.

We used to look at the north as being an opportunity to be a key economic driver for decades to come. Other Arctic nations, including China and Russia, are exploring possibilities. This could be something that is very important for our sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the Liberals are creating great swaths of protected land. I want to know why that change was originally made to the water and land boards.

In 2007, Neil McCrank was commissioned to write a report on improving the regulatory and environmental assessment regimes in Canada's north. As outlined in the McCrank report, entitled, “The Road to Improvement”, the current regulatory process in the Northwest Territories is complex, costly, unpredictable and time-consuming. The merging of the three boards into one was a key recommendation. Part of the report stated:

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

If these recommendations on restructuring and improvements are implemented, the regulatory systems in the North will be able to ensure orderly and responsible development of its resources.

Regarding the move to consolidate the boards, the report went on to state:

...is not meant to diminish or reduce the influence that Aboriginal people have on resource management in the North. Rather, it is meant as an attempt to allow for this influence in a practical way, while at the same time enabling responsible resource development...

I want to note that it was Bill C-15, which the Liberals and NDP voted for, that included that component. It was supported on all sides of the House. It was also included as an available option in the three modern land claim agreements. Bill C-15 looked to streamline the regulatory process and to place time limits on reviews and provide consistency. It was never meant to impact impact indigenous communities and their ability to make decisions. It was to streamline the regulatory process, place time limits on reviews and consolidate federal decision-making.

Certainly, I see this component of the bill as a move backward rather than forward. At this point, it would appear that all of the communities involved want to move in this direction. I believe that is unfortunate. The model I wish they would have worked toward would have been a much more positive one in doing the work they needed to do.

The final part is the drilling moratorium, which is perhaps the most troublesome. It would allow the federal cabinet to prohibit oil and gas activity in the Northwest Territories or offshore of Nunavut if it were in the national interest. This is a much broader power than currently exists in the act, which only allows Canada to prohibit that activity for safety or environmental reasons, or social problems of a serious nature.

I note that the licences set to expire during the five-year moratorium would not be affected, which is seen as somewhat positive by the people holding those licences. However, I suppose if we have a moratorium forever, it really does not matter if one's licence is on hold forever, because it would not be helpful in the long run.

In conclusion, what we have here is perhaps not on the scale of Bill C-69 or some of the other things the government has done, but it just adds to the government's habit, whenever it deals with the natural resource industry, of tending to make it more complicated and of driving businesses away rather than doing what Canada needs, especially right now, which is bringing business to us.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Yvonne Jones Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I think what the member finds very difficult to believe is that we can actually have a government that can stand up for the environment in a very responsible way, as we have done, and it not be a weakness to economic development, but really be a strength. That is what has happened in Canada over the last few years under this government.

We are creating a stronger and more sustainable economy. We only have to look at the fact that we have created over 600,000 new jobs in this country. We have been able to acquire the assets of a pipeline because we are determined to get our oil to markets, something the Conservatives could not do. We are continuing to permit mining operations at expanded mines right across the country. We have invested more money in infrastructure, and economic and business development than any government in the past.

When the member's Conservative government was in power it pushed legislation upon the indigenous people of the Northwest Territories that was unwanted. They took the government to court. We are remedying that today. Will she now support that legislation?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that the Liberals did actually support Bill C-15, which is what they are now backtracking on, so I want to make that important note.

The Liberals love to say that the economy and the environment go together and they are going a great job on both. Frankly, they are doing a terrible job on both.

When we look at what is happening in Alberta, at GM, at the softwood lumber industry, where I just heard there are going to be some layoffs in terms of the forestry in my riding, the Liberals are certainly not doing a very good job in terms of the economy. They might have benefited from a solid U.S. economy and a housing boom, but they sure have not benefited from creating long-term jobs that are going to be important for our future.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, as we have heard lately, the Conservatives spend a lot of time blaming the Liberals and vice versa, but I see the bill as an attempt to fix problems from the Conservative government and those problems the Conservative government brought in were part of a pattern. The member talks about trying to make things more streamlined and more efficient. That is exactly what they did with gutting the environmental laws in the previous Parliament that have set back the regulatory system on oil and gas regulation in this country. It has caused a deep division in the country.

Why did the member's government think it was a good idea and think that the first nations would be happy if their membership on those panels was cut? They had two out of the four on the regional panels and then they only get one out of 10 on the super board. Why did the Conservatives think that was a good idea and why did they think that would support indigenous rights?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to note that the NDP also voted for Bill C-15, so it was a pretty straightforward Northwest Territories devolution bill.

The NDP members love to say that we did not care about the environment and that our environmental bills created undue challenges. I hear that all the time, but I had never seen an example anywhere of where our attempts to create an environmentally appropriate, responsive regime created any negative impact on the environment, period. The legislation that we put into place had no negative impacts. I challenge anyone to bring an example of something somewhere that created some harm to the environment because it helped to move things along, but there was certainly a lot of noise so people lost trust in what was a good regime.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Mr. Speaker, in the member's statement, she talked about the self-economy for the north.

I find it interesting, because the Beaufort Sea was not included in the devolution agreement, neither was the Norman Wells oil field. These are two economic drivers that could certainly contribute to the north. However, they were left out. In fact, this process where the decision was made to change the regulatory system so that we have a super board went directly against what was agreed to in the land claim. It went against the regulatory structure that was in the land claim. There were other things that the Conservatives tried to change, including the fiscal agreements. It was obvious that the Conservatives thought the environmental assessment process slowed down projects, and they wanted to gut it completely.

Since the time the decision was made, we have seen that the system works fine. It works effectively and efficiently. Would the member agree that if she were to make this decision again, she would admit that she was wrong and that it would be left alone?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, and I could be corrected on this, both within the devolution agreement and the agreements, the opportunity to allow for the creation of one board was well within the structure of those agreements. I could stand to be corrected on that particular area.

If they have found some way, using the same structure, to deal with all those issues that were identified in the report that I talked about, which clearly identified a whole host of problems with what was happening with all the different boards, it takes a fairly significant degree of manpower and expertise. Sometimes it is better to be close to home with decisions, and sometimes somewhere in the middle.

When there is a need to be able to analyze significant projects, make decisions and do the technical work, it cannot always be easy for small boards. I have lived in small communities and I have lived in larger communities. Certainly, the model that was recommended and the reasons it was recommended were very sound, from my perspective.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, again we see an instance of the Prime Minister making an announcement involving a personality abroad, essentially looking like he is trying to impress an international audience without consideration of actually engaging and consulting with, and making that announcement here at home. We saw another example of that just in the last week.

The member spoke about how disappointed people in the north were when the government announced a moratorium on offshore development. I heard about this during a recent trip to the north with the foreign affairs committee. There was no consultation, whatsoever, on the shutting down of development. We would think that the people who talk so much about the consultation that has to happen before proceeding with development should also recognize that there is some proportionate consultation requirement associated with shutting down development, and yet this was an announcement that was made by the Prime Minister overseas with no consultation.

Could the member maybe comment further on the lack of respect that represented, and how many northerners do want to see economic development in the north?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, that brings up a really great point. First of all, it is absolute insult to northerners when the Prime Minister is down in the United States making a significant decision, and not only had they not been consulted, but they basically had maybe 20 minutes to get their thoughts together before they had to respond to a shocking decision.

It speaks to the issue. More importantly, it is very similar to the bill that put in the tanker moratorium, and I believe there is probably going to be a court challenge to that tanker moratorium. If there is a duty to consult for projects to move forward, when the government is making arbitrary decisions about what cannot be done, there should also be an equal duty to consult in that area.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to speak to Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. I would like to start by saying that the overall position of the NDP on this bill is that northerners know best how to manage their own resources. We will be supporting this bill at second reading but feel there are some areas where important improvements could be made.

This bill is part of a series of measures the Canadian government has made over the past half-century or so to bring more democracy to the north and end the colonial style of government that has been in place since Confederation. It seems, though, that every step forward has some steps backward and this bill perhaps is no exception. This is a bit of an omnibus bill.

I just want to point out that although the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo mentioned that the NDP and Liberals voted for Bill C-15, that was because it was an omnibus bill on the devolution of power to the Northwest Territories. We were all in favour of the bill and then the former Conservative government tacked on that poison pill which cut down indigenous rights. We supported it, even though we had concerns about that last part of it.

This is a bit of an omnibus bill. It sets out to do two different things. First, it would repeal parts of Bill C-15, the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, which was passed in the last Parliament and, second, it would bring into force an announced a moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in offshore waters in the Canadian Arctic. Bill C-15, passed in 2014, was a bit of an omnibus bill. The bulk of that bill dealt with the devolution of powers from the federal government to territorial government. The general public opinion in the north was that this was a great thing. It was reversing the tide of colonialism and giving back more powers to northerners to manage their own affairs.

However, the second part of Bill C-15 went back on that, eliminating four regional land and water boards and replacing them with a single super board. Those four boards were created out of land claims agreements and negotiations with various first nations in the Mackenzie Valley area and the new super board significantly reduced the input that those first nations would have on resource management decisions.

Since 1967, much of the political history of the Northwest Territories has been one of de-colonialization through the devolution of powers from the federal government, and there have been four settled land claims in the Northwest Territories since then.

First, the lnuvialuit agreement covers the northern part of the Mackenzie Delta, the Beaufort Sea region and the Northwest Territories portion of the Arctic Archipelago. The region is outside the areas covered in the regional land and water boards covered in Bill C-88 but does bear on the second part of the offshore oil and gas exploration.

Second, the Gwich'in agreement covers the southern portion of the Mackenzie Delta and the northern part of the Mackenzie Mountains.

Third, the Sahtu Dene and Métis agreement covers the region around Great Bear Lake and the adjacent Mackenzie Mountains.

Fourth, the Salt River Treaty Land Entitlement covers an area near the town of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. This agreement does not involve the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.

There are two more agreements in place now in the Northwest Territories: the Deline self-government agreement for a community covered by the Sahtu agreement, and the Tlicho land, resources and self-government agreement covering the area north of Great Slave Lake.

These agreements are modern-day treaties that create and confirm indigenous rights and are protected by section 35 of the Constitution. The Gwich'in, Sahtu and Tlicho agreements contain provision for the creation of a system of co-management boards enacted by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. On each of these boards, there are four members and a chair. Two of the four members are nominated or appointed by the Gwich'in, Sahtu or Tlicho, so that they have an equal partnership in those decisions.

In parts of the Northwest Territories where there is no settled land claim, the main board created by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, is in operation. In the lnuvialuit Settlement Region, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency conducts environmental assessments.

On December 3, 2013, the Harper government introduced Bill C-15, which was primarily meant to implement the provisions in the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement. However, as I mentioned, it contained this poison pill in the form of changes to the land and water co-management boards created by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.

The Harper bill eliminated the regional boards in favour of a single superboard consisting of 10 members and a chair. Bill C-15 also changed the process by which members of the single board were appointed and only provided for a single representative from the Gwich'in, Sahtu and Tlicho. These groups went from having an equal partnership, two of four members, to only having one in 10 members on this superboard. These changes were wildly and widely unpopular in the Northwest Territories and contrary to the wishes of northerners, as reported by a consultation process launched by the Conservatives prior to bringing forward Bill C-15.

The member previously mentioned the McCrank report. There was a consultation process about that report, but the first nations, when told about these options, said not to do this and that they did not like it. It is not consultation if we just tell first nations what is going to happen. We have to try to make accommodation, and that is exactly what did not happen here. I have some quotes about what first nations and Métis groups thought of this.

Jake Heron from the Métis Nation said that it's very frustrating when you're at the table and you think you're involved, only to find out that your interests are not being considered seriously.

Bob Bromley, an MLA in the Northwest Territories said, “The federal government's proposal to collapse the regional land water boards into one big board is disturbing, unnecessary and possibly unconstitutional.” He also said that a single board “does nothing to meet the real problem: failure of implementation.”

Dennis Bevington, a former MP for the Northwest Territories said, “I don't think that's fair to the people that went into the devolution agreement, people like the Tlicho who agreed to the devolution deal because it had some separation from the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. I think it's inappropriate.”

Bill C-15 received royal assent on March 25, 2014. Shortly afterward, the Tlicho and Sahtu launched lawsuits asking for declarations of portions of the devolution act to have no force or effect and an interim injunction to stop the Government of Canada from taking steps to implement those provisions of Bill C-15 that affected the regional board structure for the Mackenzie Valley. On February 27, 2015, the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories granted that injunction to the Tlicho. The federal government immediately began appeal proceedings to lift the injunction, but with the defeat of the Harper government, Canada began consultations with Northwest Territories indigenous governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories. The result is Bill C-88 before us today, which would reverse those changes to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.

Last night, I happened to be sitting next to Grace Blake on the plane flying from Toronto to Ottawa. She is a Gwich'in leader from Tsiigehtchic. She was very happy to hear that Bill C-88 would keep the land and water boards in place. I think her feelings are representative of most residents of the Northwest Territories.

A representative from the Tlicho, Ryan Fequet, said, “The current land and water boards' composition reflects 50-50 decision-making between first nations and the federal government, and I think the superboard's proposed structure would have changed that, and that's why various parties voiced their concerns.”

I will now go to the second part of Bill C-88, which deals with the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

As other members have mentioned, this began back in late 2016 when the Prime Minister was meeting with President Barack Obama and they both gave what was called the United States-Canada joint Arctic leaders' statement. In that, Barack Obama said that the U.S. is designating “the vast majority of U.S. waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas as indefinitely off limits to offshore oil and gas leasing.”

At the same time, it seemed that Canada felt obliged to designate all Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off limits to future offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every five years through a climate and marine science-based life-cycle assessment. The Prime Minister made this decision without properly consulting any form of government in the north. As was mentioned, he gave everybody a phone call 20 minutes before the fact.

Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod reacted by issuing a red alert calling for an urgent national debate on the future of the Northwest Territories and saying that the Prime Minister's announcement was the re-emergence of colonialism.

He added:

We spent a lot of time negotiating a devolution agreement, and we thought the days were gone when we'd have unilateral decisions made about the North in some faraway place like Ottawa, and that northerners would be making the decisions about issues that affected northerners.

In response to the Prime Minister's unilateral action, the Premier of Nunavut, Peter Taptuna, stated:

We do want to be getting to a state where we can make our own determination of our priorities, and the way to do that is gain meaningful revenue from resource development.

And at the same time, when one potential source of revenue is taken off the table, it puts us back at practically Square 1 where Ottawa will make the decisions for us.

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation also raised concerns. Duane Smith, the CEO, stated:

There was a total lack of consultation prior to the imposition of the moratorium. This and the subsequent changes to key legislation impacting our marine areas are actions inconsistent with the way the Crown is required to engage with its Indigenous counterparts.

I happened to talk to Mr. Smith about this subject when I was at the Generation Energy Forum meetings in Winnipeg in October 2017, a year later, and he was still hopping mad about this.

In response to the concerns of northerners, Canada began a consultation process and agreed in October 2018 to begin talks with the territorial governments and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to reach a co-management and revenue-sharing agreement. Meanwhile, the current oil and gas development moratorium remains in place, to be reviewed in 2021.

Now I would like to speak to how this bill could be improved.

For one thing, despite the fact that the government supported my colleague's private member's bill on putting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into every appropriate legislation that the government produces, there is no mention of that at all in this bill. Again, I talked to first nations leaders and they are very frustrated with the government over all the talk and no action in that regard.

The second place that it could be improved, and I will mention this a little later, is through a real commitment for intervenor funding in the review processes that this bill puts forward. There is no mention of that and it is a critical part of any proper consultation.

Outside this bill there are still so many more important areas that the government could be taking action on, such as with respect to first nations drinking water. Seventy-three per cent of drinking water systems are considered at high or medium risk, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

With respect to indigenous housing, estimates from the First Nations Financial Management Board pegged the housing infrastructure gap on reserve at between $3 billion and $5 billion. This was the main thing mentioned to me by Grace who was sitting next to me on the plane last night. Her concern is housing, housing, housing.

With respect to indigenous schooling, whether we look at physical infrastructure, teachers or dropout rates, critical gaps remain. Less than a quarter of indigenous students who started grade 9 went on to finish high school. We really have to step up the game and fix these gaps.

The government has to stop fighting indigenous people in court. Currently, there are thousands of court cases going on between Canada and indigenous people, including 528 specific land claims and 70 comprehensive land claims.

The government has to fix the high cost of food in the north by replacing the nutrition north program with one that actually assists northerners in affording nutritious foods.

It should settle the two outstanding land resource and self-government processes in the Northwest Territories with the Dehcho and the Akaitcho.

I want to finish by mentioning a process that really brought northern resource management issues, and specifically management issues in the Mackenzie Valley, to the attention of southerners and radically changed the way northerners took control of their resource decisions. That was the Mackenzie Valley inquiry, or the Berger inquiry, as it is popularly known. It began with pipeline plans in the early 1970s to bring oil and gas from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, across the north, over the Yukon to the Mackenzie Valley, as well as two separate plans for pipelines down the Mackenzie Valley into Alberta. The Liberal government at the time commissioned Justice Thomas Berger to create an inquiry that would look into the situation and figure out what northerners wanted, what the impacts of those projects would be on the north and how the government should best proceed.

Justice Berger started in 1974. He travelled to every community in the area, 35 communities, in the affected region. Everyone who wanted to testify was heard. Several days were usually spent in each community. For instance, in Old Crow, in the Gwich'in territory in northern Yukon, 81 people out of a population of 250 testified, many in the Gwich'in language. Five other languages made up the testimony from the other communities. Anyone who wanted to speak was heard carefully and respectfully.

The Berger inquiry also set the standard for intervenor funding. I mentioned that earlier. That money is used to allow concerned citizens to travel and speak at hearings. In 1977, Justice Berger released his findings. He found that the environmental impacts of a pipeline across the Arctic slope of the Yukon would be too great to justify the benefits. Instead, he recommended much of that area be protected from development.

Therefore, in 1984, Ivvavik National Park was created in the Inuvialuit settlement region. In 1995, Vuntut National Park was created in the Gwich'in area of northern Yukon. I had the pleasure and the privilege of visiting those areas.

In 1983, I spent the summer doing biological surveys in the Old Crow area and spent 10 days on Herschel Island, just off the coast of the Beaufort Sea. It was a wonderful time on Herschel. Liz Mackenzie and her two daughters were the only permanent residents there. They were Inuvialuit. They kept us well fed with bannock and fresh Arctic char. I rafted down the Firth River in 1995. I saw muskox and caribou. The porcupine caribou herd calves along the Arctic coast of Alaska and migrates through this area. It is because of those protections that the porcupine herd is literally one of the only caribou herds in Canada still doing well these days. Most caribou herds are declining drastically.

As for the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, Justice Berger pointed out that land claims negotiations were just taking place in the Mackenzie watershed, so he placed a 10-year moratorium on any decision in that region to allow those agreements to be finished. The Berger inquiry is really the gold standard of consultation in Canada. If anyone in the government is interested in what good, proper consultation looks like, this is it. People were heard and accommodations were made.

If we look at the leaders of today in Northwest Territories, many of those leaders began their career by being inspired by leading their people in the Berger inquiry. In an article Ian Waddell wrote on this, he mentioned a few of those names. There was Nellie Cournoyea, who worked for the committee on the original people's entitlement, the Inuvialuit group. She later became the premier of Northwest Territories. Dave Porter, who used to carry equipment for the CBC crew, became a great aboriginal leader in Yukon. Jim Antoine, then the young chief of the Fort Simpson Dene became the premier of Northwest Territories. Georges Erasmus, who appeared before the inquiry for the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories, later the Dene Nation, became the head chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and on and on.

I will finish by saying that northerners, regardless of descent, overwhelmingly support land, resource and self-government agreements and the co-management processes created by them. Northerners see these processes as de-colonialism. Resource extraction is the only viable form of economic development available to northerners, and while they want strong environmental protections for any resource development, northerners want to be equal partners in making these decisions.

We support Bill C-88, and we support this process of the devolution of powers to territorial and indigenous governments They must continue to eliminate colonialism within our country.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the member on his comment regarding the sets of negotiations going on in the Northwest Territories. We currently have 10 sets of negotiations going on. Some of them are fairly small. They are community self-governing negotiations. However, at the end of the Conservative government's last term, every set of negotiations was stalled. There were no discussions going on.

I think we have to consider the view of the aboriginal people when it comes to the breach of what they thought were constitutionally protected agreements on their land claims and self-government agreements and also on devolution. Certainly the trust of aboriginal people was shaken to the core. A lot of people did not want to move forward.

The member talked about some of the situations that could have been prevented. Could the member expand on what could be done to prevent situations like this from happening again? This certainly set us back a number of steps.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, how can we avoid these situations in the future? I think we can avoid them if we stop trying to cut corners to move projects ahead.

People think projects are being frustrated by consultations that are taking a long time, but consultations take time. What we have seen time and again, whether it is this situation, the northern gateway situation, or the Trans Mountain situation, is that governments, both Liberal and Conservative, try to cut corners. Where does it end? It ends up in court, because those people who deserve proper consultation, the first nations, for one, stand up and say, “You didn't talk to us properly. You didn't consult with us. You heard our concerns and then just went away.”

For proper consultation to occur, the concerns have to be heard. They have to be heard early and they have to be heard with respect, and there has to be an attempt to accommodate them. It cannot just be, “Okay, we heard you, and now we're going to do what we planned to do in the first place.”

What I heard in this case was that the government had made up its mind. It wanted to streamline these boards into one board, yet it did not try to accommodate the first nations' concerns.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned that northern concerns about meaningful revenues from resource development are important. He also spoke about the lack of consultation. This gives incredible uncertainty to industry, and it basically builds the narrative that the government is out of touch and is not listening to people on the ground and industry.

In my own riding, I had a similar situation. Resource development and manufacturing had these once-in-a-lifetime investments. As the automotive industry changes from gas-powered cars to electric autonomous cars, it is looking ahead. It is making investments for 40 years, but it needs to make the investments now.

I want to ask my colleague about the uncertainty from the government and the different policies it is bringing in. The government brought in something to do with a carbon tax. The schedule goes to only 2022, and it would be $50 a tonne, but the United Nations report the Minister of Environment is really big on right now says that it has to be $5,500 per tonne by 2030. That is a $5,450 difference in just eight years. This is what people who are investing have to take into account.

Would the member comment on whether the government should actually bring in the amount it should be charging for carbon by 2030? What price for carbon does the NDP support by 2030?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the carbon tax, the effect of the carbon tax on investments and on the development of these resources is minimal compared with the other headwinds these developments face in terms of the international price for commodities and things like that.

In terms of streamlining resource development, something I did not get to in my speech was that these young indigenous leaders who were involved in the Berger inquiry are now strong leaders in the Northwest Territories, and many of them support resource development and pipeline proposals. Those proposals are stalled not because of any process or carbon tax but because it is just not economical to develop those resources at this time.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to come back to one of the themes in my colleague's speech.

There is a kind of urban legend about the sign on the foreman's door at a construction site that says, “There is never enough time to do it right the first time, but there is always enough time to redo it three or four times.”

The member talked a bit about what goes into having a proper process that results in a good outcome the first time instead of trying to rush and having to go through a process several times before arriving at the final outcome. I wonder if he would expand a bit on those remarks and then maybe talk a bit on a related theme, which is the lack of a vision or a strategy for Canada's energy future overall and what might be included in such a strategy. How would having a sense of where we are going help inform how we conduct particular projects and the processes involved in getting them off the ground?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, in response to the first part of my colleague's question, it is ironic and perhaps a little sad that we had a process in the Northwest Territories. There were concerns about how fast development was occurring and how we could do it more efficiently and in a more streamlined way. The government went against the concerns of first nations there and broke the agreement that was contained in their land claims and created a situation where we now are having to redo all that legislation several years later, putting more uncertainty and delay into the system.

With regard to looking at a way forward, it would really help if Canada had a national energy strategy that included a way for us to meet, for instance, our Paris climate targets. A lot of Canadians would feel much comfort in resource management decisions and energy extraction decisions if they saw a believable and practical plan forward that met our climate change agreements. What we see now is a great divide in Canada, because we do not have that overarching plan.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the member for Northwest Territories, who has been a long-time advocate for that community, said it well when he made reference to the number of ongoing discussions. He reflected what the Prime Minister has indicated to Canadians from day one, which is that we need to recognize the importance of the relationship between indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada, and we need to work hand in hand with indigenous leaders and with different communities. The member for Northwest Territories and I have had long talks about the importance of bringing people together.

Could my colleague provide his thoughts on just how important that is for long-term development?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member that the bill we are discussing is part of a controversy in the north, because the government did not do proper consultation with northern communities. If Barack Obama had said that the U.S. would be shutting down oil and gas drilling in the north and that Canada should do it too, our Prime Minister should have said that it might be a good idea but that he would start some serious consultations with the people who would be affected, not make a unilateral declaration on the spot and phone people up after the fact.

I see that again with the Trans Mountain decision. We had a failed process under the Conservatives. The Liberals promised to fix it. They did not, and we are stuck here back at square one.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

I am very proud to join my colleagues to speak in full support of Bill C-88 today. The Prime Minister stated that no relationship is more important to our government and Canada than the one with indigenous peoples. I am proud that we made that commitment and that we continue to strive to fulfill it.

The bill before us today is an important part of this commitment to me and my constituents in the Northwest Territories. The Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act was originally passed in 1998. It provides for the establishment of an integrated system of land and water management for the Mackenzie Valley through a series of co-management boards, at which the Dene, Métis, territorial and federal governments share input and decision-making. Although the MVRMA was passed in 1998, the discussions on this type of land and water management system began in the early 1980s during the negotiations of the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement.

Regional land claim and self-governing regions in the NWT have boards, also called panels, that review and make recommendations about their lands. Unfortunately, regardless of the system that was in place after years of negotiation, a system that was working well and gave the indigenous people the right to oversee how their lands were used, the previous government decided to cut these boards out of the process. I am glad they were not successful.

First, the Tlicho government filed an injunction, later joined by the Sahtu Secretariat. The Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories agreed and granted this injunction, so here it sits. These previous amendments were never brought into force and the regional boards continue to operate efficiently and effectively, as intended.

Our government is dedicated to a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples in the spirit of reconciliation. One of the key elements in achieving true reconciliation is meaningful consultation. That requires real work. We are committed to restoring trust and further strengthening our relationship with indigenous partners in the Northwest Territories by supporting the integrated co-management regime for lands and waters in the Mackenzie Valley.

We need to ensure that the management of our natural resources is done in a way that respects the inherent and treaty rights of the indigenous people. Through Bill C-88, we can ensure sustainable resource development while also protecting the long-term health and well-being of the environment. This proposed legislation was created in a spirit of reconciliation meant to help renew the relationship between the Crown and indigenous peoples in the Northwest Territories through mutual respect and co-operation.

Bill C-88 is a direct response to the concerns of the indigenous governments and organizations respecting the legislative and regulatory framework flowing from their constitutionally protected land claims and self-government agreements. While the previous government ignored these concerns, we know that by working together we can reach a better result.

The amendments proposed by this bill respect the integrity of the land claim agreements the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories entered into in good faith. We have heard loud and clear from our indigenous partners that the dissolution of the Gwich'in, Sahtu and Tlicho land and water boards by the previous Conservative government denied indigenous groups their hard-won rights. We have also heard from them that it directly contravened their land claim agreements, which included the creation and management of these boards. Reconciliation is not an empty word to our government.

Actions must follow words in order to move forward and work toward real, lasting and positive change in the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples. The bill before us today proposes to reverse the board restructuring and reintroduce the other regulatory amendments that have also been on hold. Simply put, indigenous people have the right to oversee how their lands are used, and also to share in the wealth.

Bill C-88 would integrate the perspectives of indigenous people into the future usage of lands and water on their territories by including and incorporating indigenous views and perspectives into the decision-making regarding land and resources.

We must work together to improve the quality of life of indigenous peoples in Canada, and key to achieving this goal is indigenous control over indigenous lands. In order to protect the integrity of land claim agreements and treaty rights, the importance of engagement and consultation must be respected.

The Gwich'in, Sahtu and Tlicho stood up and made it clear that they wanted their voices heard and their rights acknowledged and respected. This bill will ensure that they continue to have a say in what happens to the lands and water they preside over.

I mentioned earlier that there are other amendments in this bill besides those aimed at fixing the restructuring part that has been on hold the past four or so years, so not all of the previous government's amendments were off base. However, they are all tangled up in their restructuring error.

This bill reintroduces these amendments. There are regional studies, board term provisions and new regulatory authorities, to name a few. The amendment to the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act would enable the science-based review currently under way in the Beaufort Sea to be completed without interruption, while at the same time preventing the existing oil and gas rights in the Arctic offshore from expiring before the conclusion of the review. After a one-year consultation with existing rights holders, territorial governments and indigenous governments, everyone agreed on the importance of protecting the unique Arctic offshore environment while pursuing responsible oil and gas activity.

True reconciliation cannot occur until indigenous governments and organizations are fully included in the management of lands and resources in the north. We need to bring the voices of indigenous people into the process in order to have a broader and more complete view of the future of Canada's natural resources. As the Prime Minister has said, “Together, we can build a world where the rights of Indigenous peoples are respected, where their voices are honoured, and where their communities thrive.”

The bill we are debating today will ensure that the unique perspectives of indigenous governments, leaders and communities will be heard and listened to. I urge all of my colleagues today to recognize the importance of incorporating an indigenous perspective into the future decision-making of our natural resources sector and to support this important legislation.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot imagine Christmas holidays at the house of my colleague from Northwest Territories. When the moratorium was imposed on offshore drilling, his brother, who is the premier, was absolutely outraged.

The member talks about the importance of having that conversation. Perhaps he can tell members whether he deems what occurred to be adequate consultation with the people who will be most impacted by that decision?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out first of all that the Beaufort Sea was not included in the devolution agreement. It was a real frustration to the Government of the Northwest Territories of the day that this one key component that would generate revenues was not included. The Norman Wells oil field was also not included as part of the devolution process.

As we moved forward, the moratorium was brought forward. We should recognize that there was really no activity going on in the Beaufort Sea. I went back and looked at how much money was invested during the five years prior to that. In the five years leading up to this decision, $7 million was invested.

I invite the member to visit some of my coastal communities in the Northwest Territories to talk with some of the Inuvialuit people living there. They are very proud and resilient. They want to have Canadian living standards, like everyone else. They want the economy to thrive. However, they also want to protect their traditional lifestyle. They are very good at hunting and fishing, and supplementing their incomes. They are worried now about climate change. They are worried about oil spills that we do not know how to clean up.

This is timely. We now have the Government of Northwest Territories. We have the indigenous governments. We have the Inuvialuit doing a scientific review. A lot of work has been done, and we are in a better position to make a decision on this.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his advocacy for the north. He talks about how important it is to have meaningful consultation and to gain meaningful revenues from resource development for the people in the north.

The challenge we are having across many sectors is with the uncertainty from the policies of the current government. One in particular that keeps coming up is the carbon tax. The member knows that his party has put forth a schedule out to 2022, when we will have a $50 per tonne carbon tax, but nothing after that is specified for up to 2030. The environment minister stood here last week to say that the Liberals were following the advice of the UN report that sees a carbon tax of up to $5,500 per tonne by 2030. The range between $50 a tonne and $5,500 per tonne in an eight-year period is significant. When companies and resource-development companies are making once-in-a-generation investments, they need certainty.

Could he please tell the House what is the recommended price for carbon, or the carbon tax, by the Liberal Party for 2030?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Mr. Speaker, as I travel in my riding in the Northwest Territories, I talk to many people, including the the Chamber of Mines, and I meet with the chamber of commerce. I have talked with a lot of the organizations and industries in the Northwest Territories that want to expand. There are several very challenging factors for us in the Northwest Territories.

One challenge is to have certainty with regard to the lands. We are experiencing several sets of negotiations, some of which have been ongoing for longer than 30 years, and industry would like to see certainty. Industry leaders want to see indigenous governments resolve the land tenure issue. That would provide certainty. The indigenous governments want to stand shoulder to shoulder with other governments to participate in the benefits that industry would bring, but they cannot do that until the land tenure issue has been resolved.

The second issue that industry has flagged as recently as several months ago is that we need to invest more in infrastructure. If we are going to provide certainty through a settlement of land claims and self-government, we also have to lower the cost of exploration in the Northwest Territories. That means more airports, better airports, bigger airports. We also need proper roads. We only have 12 communities that are serviced by roads right now, and if we are going to attract industries, we are going to have to start providing transportation infrastructure so that they can come at a reasonable cost. Otherwise, it does not make sense for the industries to come when it costs them three or four times more to operate in the Northwest Territories, or anywhere in the north for that matter, than it does in other parts of Canada or the world.

Those are the issues we have to sort out.