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

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5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, that day will go down as one of the worst days in Canadian Parliament history, the Prime Minister announcing a moratorium in northern Canada, with the announcement being made with an outgoing president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

How would the members feel if they were northerners, getting a phone call 20 minutes before the announcement was to be made that there would be a moratorium on oil and gas where they live? They can sell a t-shirt for $7.99 and a few trinkets, but these northerners want jobs and they want to be a part of the middle class in the country. That was just a stab in the back when the Prime Minister made the announcement, not in this country but with the president of the United States.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, there is an injunction about that particular clause that is being changed by the courts, that the Sahtu and the Tlicho brought before the government to get changed. They want the boards changed back to the way it was negotiated in their land claims.

Does the member have a comment on whether that clause is a good idea?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, back in 2014, the Conservative government tried to reduce government. In the country we have seen a lot of obstruction in oil and gas. This was the issue back then. We had so many water boards and so many other boards up there, that we tried to condense it down to one that could deal with the situation. It probably hurt a few people's feelings.

However, at the end of the day, look at what we see in Alberta, the announcement yesterday by the Premier of Alberta, reducing oil capacity in that province. We watched the Liberal government buy a pipeline for $4.5 billion that we did not need to buy. The company in charge took the money, and it is now doing very good business in the state of Texas.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Madam Speaker, it is always good to speak in the House and on an issue about which I am passionate, northern Canada.

Bill C-15, which we have heard referenced a number of times, was legislation of which I was very proud to have been a part. I was part of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. We spent a lot of quality time in the Northwest Territories talking to people about making government work better for the people of the Northwest Territories. That is what Bill C-15 did. It devolved powers from Ottawa to the territories, something for which the Northwest Territories had been fighting and asking for decades. That is what our government delivered.

This bill, Bill C-88, basically formalizes in law one of the most egregious slaps in the face I think I have ever witnessed as an elected representative.

The Prime Minister went to Washington, D.C., to see his friend Barack Obama off. He had already termed out. He was in the lame duck portion of his presidency. The Prime Minister decided that it would be a good going away present to put a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Beaufort Sea in the Northwest Territories and he did it without consulting.

The current government likes to talk about consulting with indigenous people. However, when the rubber hits the road, it could not care less what the indigenous people of the country think unless it goes along with its preconceived notion of what it wants to do as a government. We saw that with the moratorium. We saw it as well with the northern gateway pipeline, where the Aboriginal Equity Partners, a group of 31 indigenous communities, had a $2 billion opportunity staring them in the face. The Prime Minister and the Liberal government shut that down with the stroke of a pen. Again, they did it from Ottawa.

When it comes to the Liberals, Ottawa always knows best and when it comes to indigenous peoples and the Liberals, Ottawa always knows best. We saw that with the moratorium and the northern gateway pipeline. They feel they have no obligation to consult when it comes to the economic opportunities they rip away from indigenous communities. They ripped away opportunities from the Aboriginal Equity Partners. They again ripped away opportunities from northerners with this moratorium.

The member for Northwest Territories said that there was no oil and gas development happening there. Is that any surprise? Why would any company invest its hard-earned dollars in a jurisdiction when a government, with 20 minutes notice, can shut the whole thing down? In the case of the northern gateway pipeline, there was three-quarters of a billion dollars of private company investment and the government shut it down with the stroke of a pen, ripping away $2 billion of economic opportunity from a group of aboriginal communities in a region of the country that has very little other economic opportunity.

What was the reaction from the northerners when this was done? The Northwest Territories premier, Bob McLeod, said very clearly, “The promise of the North is fading and the dreams of northerners are dying as we see a re-emergence of colonialism.” He was talking about the approach of the Prime Minister and the government, with its colonial approach, shutting down development because it would play well with Barack Obama, the green lobby and southern Canada. They did not care at all what the reality would be in the north.

The premier also stated, “We shouldn't have to stop our own development so the rest of Canada can feel better.” He went on to say, “We need jobs. We need work. You want us to leave the North because we can't work there. You want us to live in a large park. That's essentially what's happened.”

The Premier of the Northwest Territories gets exactly what the Prime Minister is trying to do, which is to make the Northwest Territories, Canada's north in general, Nunavut and Yukon, into a great protected space, where Ottawa will just keep sending up the money and the northerners will not have the ability to control their own natural resources and destiny. That is what Bill C-15 did. It gave control of the north to those who lived there, to the northerners. It brought into line the regulatory processes and regime with what was happening in the rest of Canada.

In a way, I guess Bill C-88 would do the same thing. The Liberal government brought in Bill C-69, which will devastate and kill resource development in this country. Everyone in the industry says so. Everyone in oil and gas knows that Bill C-69 will devastate them. The entire province of Alberta, from the NDP to the United Conservative Party and all points in between are saying that Bill C-69 has to be removed. The government must repeal Bill C-69, or at least pause it.

The Liberals say, “We know best. We are the federal government.” Here in Ottawa, in their wisdom, even though the price of oil is now down to $10 a barrel, a price differential of $50 between a barrel on the world market and what Albertan oil companies can sell it for, in their wisdom the Liberals say that is not a problem and that their hearts go out to them.

With Bill C-88, they are saying that since Bill C-69 devastated the resource economy in the rest of Canada, they need to partner it with legislation specific to the north, which would be Bill C-88, and would prevent oil and gas development in that region. What these Liberals do not seem to understand is that when capital investment is driven away, it does not simply turn around on a dime and come back when the moratorium might be lifted some day in the future.

It is the same as we have seen in Alberta. When these companies pack up and leave, when they are driven out of the country by government policies, as they have been by the Liberal government, they do not simply turn around and come back with their billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs on a whim. It will take decades to repair the damage the government has done in three short years. It will take decades to build back the capacity and investor confidence that has evaporated since the Liberal government has taken office.

Why has it evaporated? The government has taken the processes in place and politicized them for its own gains. The Liberals have said, “We do not care that the National Energy Board has conducted an independent two-year long, $750-million investigation of the northern gateway pipeline, with 209 conditions placed upon it. We do not care about that because we know best. We are going to cancel that pipeline. We are going to make it impossible for the energy east pipeline to go ahead. We are going to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline, just park it and see what happens in a few years after the next election.”

Companies have abandoned this country in the billions of dollars and in the tens of thousands of workers. This legislation is just another example of that sort of philosophy where Ottawa knows best. The government certainly thinks it knows best when it comes to indigenous communities. Bob McLeod and many others in the north have said to the government, “We earn our living with oil and gas revenues. We work in these industries, and you are taking away opportunity from our people.” However, the Liberal government does not believe it needs to talk to those people who actually support resource development. It believes it only needs to talk to people who support the Liberal government's agenda.

When I hear the Prime Minister say that there is no relationship more important than that with Canada's indigenous people, his record proves it is simply untrue. With certain indigenous people, the ones who agree with him, he is very into maintaining that relationship. However, for those who disagree with the Prime Minister, or those who have an agenda and want to pursue economic development for their people, the Prime Minister does not have to consult with them, because Ottawa knows best. That is what this legislation is, an Ottawa-knows-best, made-in-southern-Canada solution for northerners.

It is unlike our previous government, which wanted to see the north thrive. We wanted to promote northern sovereignty. We wanted to promote devolution of powers to northerners because they know best how to govern themselves. They do not need a prime minister going down to Washington, D.C., to tell them how to do it.

We will proudly vote against this legislation, and when we form government in 2019, we will work to rebuild the damage the Liberal government has done in this country.

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5:35 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is somewhat discouraging to hear the comments of my colleague across the way. Bill C-88 is before us today in good part because of the reaction to Bill C-15. When Stephen Harper was the prime minister of Canada, he completely disregarded what was being told to him regarding how best to manage land and water resources. Stephen Harper came up with his own way, and his way did not work. That is why we have Bill C-88 today.

Now the member opposite is convincing us as to why we have to ensure that the Conservatives do not get power again in the future. All they are saying today is that they want to go back to the Stephen Harper days. It is as if Stephen Harper has not even left the chamber. Stephen Harper is alive and well behind those curtains, possibly.

Why would the Conservative Party continue to follow Stephen Harper when we know Stephen Harper was wrong on this and even a court said so?

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5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to wonder if the hon. member gets a gold star in the Liberal lobby every time he says “Stephen Harper”. Perhaps he gets a bonus cheque of some sort every time he mentions the name “Stephen Harper”.

Bill C-15 was so egregious and outrageous that the member opposite was forced to stand in his place and vote in favour of it. That is what he thought of Bill C-15 then, and now it is a catastrophe that has to be undone today.

Bill C-15 clearly and specifically contemplated all of the boards that were mentioned in the modern land claims agreements. Those were signed, and they all contemplated one larger board, which is the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. All of that had been built into those agreements.

We had over 50 meetings with aboriginal groups in that territory, and we came forward with a plan that was going to work for northerners. The member opposite clearly does not care about that, because as I have said before, for him, Ottawa always knows best when it comes to the north.

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5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Chilliwack—Hope brought up a very important observation. The government talks about having consultation after consultation, but when it considers a project that is going to actually help first nations and indigenous peoples, it does not seem to ask the questions. Whether it is the Eagle Spirit pipeline, the tanker moratorium or the drilling moratorium up in the north, the government follows a pattern. To me, this is a complete gap in the consultation process. Perhaps the member could comment on this.

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5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the government thought that consultation meant giving Premier Bob McLeod minutes' notice before the decision was made in Washington, D.C. by the Prime Minister. That was the level of consultation there.

I asked an Order Paper question about the northern gateway decision. I asked what consultations the government undertook before ripping away $2 billion in economic opportunity from 31 first nations and the Métis Nation. The answer was that it did none. The Liberals felt that they had no obligation. When they are taking away opportunity, they feel that they do not have to deal with those kinds of rights.

That is why the aboriginal equity partners said, “We are profoundly shocked and disappointed by the news that the Federal Government has no intention of pursuing any further consultation and dialogue with our communities”. That is the pattern of the Liberals. If people disagree with the government, it does not bother talking to them. The Liberals only want people to come to them if they agree with the Liberals to start with and will participate in their photo ops. However, those who disagree with the Liberals are irrelevant, and the Liberals will give them 20 minutes' notice and make a decision in Washington, D.C.

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5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today in the House to talk about Bill C-88, its effects and what it proposes to do in strengthening the relationship that we have with the locals who would be impacted by the legislation in the Northwest Territories.

I would also like to say that it is an honour to stand here recognizing that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people. I am proud to support a bill that would strengthen the relationship between Canada and its indigenous peoples.

Today, we begin second reading of 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. I will use my time to focus primarily on the amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.

The north is seeing the effects of climate change in a more significant and faster way than the rest of Canada. In fact, climate change in the north is occurring at twice the global rate as anywhere else that we are seeing. Scientists now predict that the north will be ice-free by 2040 as opposed to what they originally predicted which was 2100.

Climate change is having a profound impact on Canada's Arctic and the northern and indigenous peoples and communities. While some of the effects of climate change such as melting sea ice are creating economic opportunities, they are also creating new health and safety risks for northerners and negatively affecting core traditional lifestyles such as hunting and fishing.

It goes without saying that we are continually hearing more and more rhetoric coming from the Conservatives and the alt-right about how climate change is something that we cannot control and is something that we do not have the ability to really do anything about, that we just have to kind of accept it. There are those who now believe that climate change might actually be happening, but there is a whole host of others on the right who still do not accept it as reality. This is despite the fact that 99% of scientists are saying our climate is changing and a number almost equivalent to that are saying that mankind is creating that impact on our environment and it is only mankind that can actually stop it and reverse it.

To those who would suggest that climate change is something that we cannot control or that we should not believe the 97% of scientists who say it is man-made, I would offer to them if 97% of scientists or doctors came forward and said that someone had cancer, my guess is that most people would probably accept that and react in a way that they would do something about the diagnosis that they received.

It goes without saying that I am very puzzled that we are unable to exercise the same kind of judgment when we talk about climate change and the fact that there is such a worldwide cry out there with respect to what we need to be doing and doing now and acting now and changing our habits immediately so that we can have a lasting impact.

These changes are re-framing Canada's approach to the future development of Arctic offshore oil and gas in three ways.

One, climate change is changing the ecology and distribution of marine species which requires us to have a better understanding of what the risks are.

Two, climate change is altering the northern environment with more unpredictability in weather, ice and ocean behaviour. We need to better understand all of the factors influencing risks for workers and wildlife.

Three, we have to be sure that activities will be pursued responsibly. We want to strike the appropriate balance between economic opportunities and environmental protection. Development must be done in a way that respects and strengthens the reconciliation with indigenous peoples in the north.

I will take the opportunity now to comment briefly on the past 10 years. In the last couple of weeks, I have brought up the past government and its 10 years in power and how it was unable to accomplish anything when it came to our national resource development, in particular oil.

It is not because I do not think the Conservatives had the right intentions. They wanted to develop the resources, but their approach went in a direction that made it virtually impossible for them to develop those resources and get them to new markets.

Stephen Harper did a very good job of touting how the oil industry was going to be a super economic powerhouse for Canada and that we would distribute oil to free markets by getting it to access points for delivery to those markets. The problem is that in the process of doing that, he continually bullied his way through when dealing with environmental movements, climate change experts and indigenous communities throughout the country. He continually and systematically did things, such as bringing in Bill C-15, that were held up because they were dragged through the courts and because various other measures were taken to slow down the government's ability to open up our resources to new markets.

Essentially, while Stephen Harper was touting that this was going to be the next biggest thing in the Canadian economy, he was painting a huge target on the back of the industry, because he was undermining all of the processes and various players that would contribute to the discussion and the regulations to be developed in a responsible way. Our government, however, is doing the latter. That is what we saw with the moratorium and the legislation that came out of it. There was a massive amount of consultation with indigenous communities, and with respect to science and the rule of law, so that when something actually comes into play and new opportunities to explore natural resources occur, it can be done in a responsible way that respects the processes and the various players involved. That is something that Stephen Harper failed to do, but this government is doing it, and that why there is progress.

I respect the fact that the Conservatives are upset time and time again about the economy and how resources are being delivered and with the new approach of our government. Quite frankly, if I had been in their position for 10 years of inaction and then started to see real, tangible change happen in a way that would positively impact our economy and our relationships with scientists and indigenous communities, yes, I would be upset too if I were in their position, because they were unable to do anything about it and now they are seeing that there might be a process to move forward on this. What is their default reaction? It is to be obstructionist. They come here and tout that the way this is being handled is not going to produce any tangible results, but I guess time will tell.

Seven years from now, when we Liberals get to the end of our 10-year run, matching their 10-year run, we will have an opportunity to look back and see how effective we were over a 10-year period versus how effective they were. I would add that after 10 years, we will likely go for another 10 after that in an encore performance, so to speak, because the Canadian people understand it. They buy it and believe in the processes we are putting in place. They believe that a government should not to bully its way through various processes in government but make sure that it is consulting and bringing all players together, which is what this bill attempts to do and has done to get here.

I am aware of the importance of oil and gas activities to the economic prosperity and the social well-being of Canada. We recognize the important potential they have to strengthen Canada's economy in the north. However, acting in haste would be irresponsible and could cause permanent damage to our oceans and communities.

In 2016, the Prime Minister affirmed that commercial activities in the Arctic would occur only if the highest safety and environmental standards were met and if they were consistent with our climate and environmental goals. At least we have something to measure that against because we are taking the initiative to say what our plan is as it relates to the environment.

The Conservatives are going to complain about this all day long, saying that we have to do more to open the oil and gas sector, that we have to continue to make sure we can exploit the resources that we have, but at the same time, they have absolutely nothing to say when it comes to how they are going to protect the environment. As a matter of fact, their leader was asked that at the beginning of 2018, and he said they would be bringing forward their plan really soon. It has been almost 12 months since, and they still have virtually no plan.

I hear members of the Conservative Party laughing at this and heckling. They can put my rhetoric, if they claim that is what it is, to sleep by just standing up when the time comes in about nine minutes and tell us their plan for the environment. What would they do to properly protect the environment? I would—

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5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I am going to pause for a second. I am sure some members are just talking so that the person next to them can hear them, but their voices carry very well and interrupt everything. I would just remind those with the strong voices to tone it down and not to face the member who has the floor, but maybe face the person next to them when they talk to them so that that person can hear them and not all the rest of us. Then we can concentrate on the member speaking.

The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

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5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, thank you for sticking up for me there. Do not worry. I have to deal with it all the time, so I am completely content with it. However, I do respect your desire to maintain decorum in the chamber.

As I was saying, I would absolutely love to hear what the Conservative plan is when it comes to the environment. I know that they want to “protect it” because that sounds really good and makes them feel good, but why do they not tell us what they are going to do to protect our environment? I can almost guarantee that they will not. In seven or eight minutes from now when it is time for them to get up and ask questions, they will stand up, but they will not tell us what they are going to do to protect our environment, other than not to worry because their leader has a plan.

I have laid out what the Prime Minister has done to bring forward safety and environmental standards when making these decisions. We have to respect the fact that these are important decisions. By strengthening and modernizing our regulatory regime, we can ensure as a government that these principles underpin resource development in the north.

The bill's proposed amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act Act and the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act are part of this modernization. This is not the first time we have come before the chamber to do this. It has happened in the past while debating an act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act. During third reading debate, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations said that we needed robust processes in place that would protect our rich natural environment, respect the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and support a strong Canadian natural resources sector

This bill before the House today aims to do the same thing: to protect the environment, respect indigenous rights and support the natural resources economy. It will also provide the foundation for partnership and future collaboration. We know we can do all of these things if we take the right approach, which I previously talked about and the government is committed to doing in so many different processes than just this bill.

I will now speak more briefly to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and what the proposed amendments would do to it. In short, they would allow us to carefully assess the prospects of Arctic offshore resource development in the context of a changing environment, and enable the government to freeze existing licences held by companies wanting to explore for oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea. This change complements the halt to the issuance of new licenses announced in 2016 and allows for a thorough evaluation of the current science around climate change and the effects on oceans so that we can best determine the next steps for Arctic offshore oil and gas.

The Government of Canada will undertake this review with our northern partners, including Arctic indigenous groups and territorial governments. This means that any decisions will be steered by those most affected. This approach supports seven-generation thinking, which is an indigenous principle meaning that actions should be taken only when we have thought through the consequences for people seven generations into the future. This is critical in the context of climate change and the kind of planet we are going to leave our grandchildren.

On that note, I want to take a moment to reaffirm our government's commitment to the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. This means that the government will support and collaborate with indigenous and northern communities and territorial governments as they take action on climate change.

Budgets 2016 and 2017 provided over $220 million for new programs under the pan-Canadian framework. To date, these investments have supported hundreds of projects in northern and indigenous communities for marine life monitoring studies, coastal erosion and glacial melt impact assessments, and initiatives for communities to explore wind and solar power alternatives to offset the use of diesel fuel. The funding is also being used to help indigenous peoples participate in policy discussions on climate change. This bill is consistent with critical efforts to understand, mitigate and adapt to climate change. The point is that when dealing with the Arctic, we are dealing with societies as well as ecosystems.

Taking a step back, with no proposed amendments in the bill, enables us to look at the big picture including our interconnectedness and vulnerability as humans in a rapidly changing world. This is why I support Bill C-88 as it relates to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, and I encourage all members to do the same.

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6 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kingston and the Islands for his speech.

The member talked a lot about climate change. We do recognize climate change but the way to address it is quite different from the Liberal side. As we know, the Liberal side would like to impose the Liberal carbon tax from coast to coast to coast. This is not the way to do it, as far as we are concerned. We have to help the big polluters to make less emissions. That is our view.

Let us look at the facts. As we know, the Province of Quebec has the cap-and-trade system. It has been working since 2013. Therefore, we have experience. Based on the Quebec experience, what is the result? Five days ago, the Premier of Quebec, the hon. Francois Legault, tabled a document that proves the result of cap and trade under Liberal policy.

Do members think we have a decrease in pollution? No, there is not. Do they think there is a light decrease in pollution? No, there is not. Do they think there is zero effect on pollution with cap and trade? No, there is not. The result is an increase of pollution with cap and trade, based on the facts in Quebec.

How can the member explain that?

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6 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's question did not say what the the Conservatives were going to do. All he said was that they believe in climate change. Then he went on to say that he criticized this government's approach to it, and then that they want to help the big polluters make less emissions. Everybody wants to do that. That is a nice visionary statement, but it does not speak to what they would actually do. I would propose to the member that is exactly what a price on pollution does. It is going to help that.

If the member would like to provide an example of what the Conservatives would actually do, that would be really nice to hear, but all he did was criticize the effort of this government and various other governments without proposing an actual solution as to what they would do.

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6 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly interesting to listen to the member as he tries to weave through some tangential brush with the truth in his discussion.

We take a look at the sorts of things that the Liberals have said. The member for Labrador, in 2014, said:

As Liberals, we want to see the Northwest Territories have the kind of independence it has sought. We want it to have the ability to make decisions regarding the environment, resource development, business management, growth, and opportunity, which arise within their own lands.

I was fortunate enough to be able to go into the north as I was with aboriginal affairs. We went through with northern development discussions. I know how important it was to those members that we met with to talk about the opportunity for them to actually deal with the development in their own regions.

I read part B and heard the members who eloquently mentioned how this was going to work with the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, but then we think about what actually is being said. It is going to prohibit oil and gas activity, freeze the terms of existing licences to prevent them from expiring during a moratorium; and then we have the Province of Alberta and everyone else that is involved with oil and gas saying that they have to get rid of that moratorium.

I am just wondering if the member is going to push as hard to get rid of the moratorium, so that we do not have to worry about that particular injunction, as he seems to be pushing for some of the other things he has commented on.

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December 3rd, 2018 / 6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the attempt to inform me about what a particular member in the House said five years ago. I am not exactly sure that it relates to the content of what I had to say.

However, I will say that Bill C-15, which was brought in by Stephen Harper, was found by the courts to have significant flaws with it.

What this government has done with this particular piece of legislation is do the proper consultation from a scientific perspective and from a relationship perspective with indigenous communities. It has gone through the processes to make sure that everything is done properly so that when we do come back to the table it is done in a way that we are not bullying our way through particular industries or groups, and that it is done in a consultative way with everybody. That is exactly what we are seeing in the results of Bill C-88 today.

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6:05 p.m.

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

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise and ask a question of my colleague with regard to Bill C-88, and thank him for his support and endorsement of the bill.

It is evident what is happening in the House. The Conservatives realize that in passing the devolution agreement for the Northwest Territories, which all Canadians supported at the time and support today, they had also passed legislation that was unilaterally supported by the Conservative Harper government. It was imposed upon indigenous people in the Northwest Territories and the indigenous government. Since that day, they have been asking that this legislation be amended, and went to the court to do so. They won their case in the court, but even then the Conservative Harper government continued to appeal that decision.

I know my colleague will agree, but for the record, I would like to ask him if the process that our government has taken in removing this from the courts, a process of dialogue and respect for indigenous people, is the right process.

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6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the right process. It is a process that this government has been taking, and a process that the previous government did not take.

This goes back to what I said during the emergency debate on the oil prices in Alberta, which I will reiterate. The reason why Stephen Harper was unable to get any meaningful changes done with respect to the natural resource industry is because he continually bullied his way through the process. Rather than actually try and work with the environmental groups, work with indigenous communities to get them on board and get consensus, he completely ignored them. He forced them to take him to court, which resulted in the decision from the court to put the brakes on Bill C-15. He painted a target on the back of the industry that he was supposedly trying to help and supposedly trying to grow economically.

However, this is a balanced approach that respects all of the players involved. This is exactly the way that not just the Liberal government should do it but any government in this House should do it.

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6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am really impressed with the focus we have in the House on first nations, indigenous, Métis and Inuit people, and on their love for the environment, their love for the outdoors, and their love for making sure that they take care of the land, their hunting and their fishing. We want to hear what their views are. At the same time, these people also want to go forward and make sure that they have the opportunity to succeed in Canada the way all of us do.

However, if they are so responsible for the land already, why is it that we cannot take that into account? Those same people are being shut down by the government, and their indigenous rights to engage in resource development are being stymied by the government.

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6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, they are not, and that is the whole point of this proposed legislation, which was done in consultation with indigenous peoples and has been brought forward in a way that respects the process.

Our indigenous communities in Canada will have the opportunity to properly make sure that, when it comes time to making decisions around exploration, their views are respected, which is something that the Harper government failed to do. That is why we ended up in this place where the moratorium was put into place and this legislation effectively came forward after that.

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6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.

I am very proud to join my colleagues and speak in full support of Bill C-88. The Prime Minister has stated that no relationship is more important to our government and, indeed, to Canada than the one with our indigenous peoples. I am proud of what we have done to make this commitment real, and that we are continuing to strive to fulfill it with bills such as the one that we have before us today.

Our government is dedicated to a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples in the true spirit of reconciliation, but this requires real work. One of the key elements in achieving true reconciliation is meaningful consultation. Canada is committed to following the principles laid out by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Furthermore, our Constitution protects indigenous and treaty rights. When those rights may be impacted, Canada must engage in consultation with indigenous peoples. This is not an option. It is a legal obligation. That is only the starting point.

We have reached a moment in our country's history where we are making deep foundational changes to the way that we approach our relationships with indigenous peoples. These changes must be reflected in legislation that we enact here in this place. The only way forward to build a better future for all is by working together in the spirit of respect, recognition of rights, collaboration and partnership.

We are committed to restoring trust and further strengthening our relationship with our indigenous partners in the Northwest Territories by supporting the integrated co-management regime for land and waters in the Mackenzie Valley. That is what we are discussing tonight.

We needed to restore this trust after the previous government ignored their duty to consult, and were therefore found to have violated their obligations as partners. We need to ensure that the management of our natural resources is done in a way that respects the inherent and treaty rights of indigenous peoples.

Through Bill C-88, we can ensure sustainable resource development while at the same time also protecting the long-term health and well-being of the environment. This proposed legislation was created in the spirit of reconciliation, meant to help to renew the relationship between the Crown and indigenous peoples in the Northwest Territories through mutual respect and co-operation.

It is our responsibility to foster and support meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples in order to reach consensus with governments, with industry, and in fact with all Canadians.

This is not always a quick or an easy process, but we cannot, under any circumstances, repeat the harmful mistakes of the past, and that past goes back a long way. For centuries, indigenous people were ostracized and excluded from decision-making processes. Indigenous governments, leaders and communities did not have a say in what happened to their people or their traditional territories. We need to change that.

This disturbing legacy has held indigenous people back for far too long. It has excluded them from fully engaging in Canada's economy and sharing in the abundance of our country's wealth, both our natural wealth and our economic wealth. This bill is a small step to give indigenous groups their voices back.

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

The amendments proposed by the bill respect the integrity of the land claim agreements that the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories entered into with 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. This has been stated by the courts. We also heard from them that this directly contravened their land claims agreements, which include the creation and management of these boards.

Reconciliation is not an empty word to our government. Action must follow words to move forward and work toward real and lasting positive change in the relationship between Canada and our indigenous peoples.

The bill proposes to reverse board restructuring and to reintroduce the other regulatory amendments. Simply put, indigenous peoples have the right to oversee how their lands are used and to share in the wealth. These amendments would result in a better process for all parties involved. They would remove uncertainty for groups from the mining, oil and gas industries and other investors wanting to begin new projects in these areas.

Businesses need certainty to move forward. They do not need to know that things are going to change on the road ahead. We need to do the work up front to make sure that all areas are covered.

Bill C-88 would integrate the perspectives of indigenous peoples in the future uses of land and water on their territories. It would include and incorporate indigenous views and perspectives in any decision-making on land and resources.

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

The Gwich'in, Sahtu and Wek'èezhii made it clear that they wanted their voices heard and their rights acknowledged and respected. The bill would ensure that they would continue to have a say in what happens to the lands and water they preside over and have presided over for centuries.

True reconciliation cannot occur until indigenous governments and organizations are fully included in the management of land and resources in the north. We need to bring the voices of indigenous people into this process 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 would ensure that the unique perspective of indigenous organizations, leaders and communities were heard and listened to. I urge all my colleagues today to recognize the importance of incorporating an indigenous perspective in the future decision-making of our natural resources sector and to support this important legislation.

It is a new way of looking at things. We are changing the order of how we work together with indigenous people, and that really involves a new way of approaching legislation, such as we see in Bill C-88. It also includes some painful redoing of legislation that did not meet the mark of our future relationship or respect the rights of indigenous people.

That is where we find ourselves today. Bill C-88 would take us down a new road with our northern indigenous neighbours. It is a road that is going to be good for them, good for us and good for the land we all share.

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6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to listen to the member opposite. In this case, however, the legislation is completely wrong. It is an extension of the terrible mess we see in resource development around the country, and certainly in western Canada.

There are discussions about the environment. When I look at the global aspect, there has to be a relationship. If the oil, gas, minerals and so on are shut down in Canada, they are going to be produced somewhere else. That is the issue I have.

The product we have is produced in the most environmentally effective way. We have good corporate citizens who make sure that they pay taxes to help us build schools and hospitals and have targeted programs throughout the world, not ones we pick up on Twitter. These are the sorts of things we should be doing.

The Liberals opposite have to understand the damage that is happening because of this. I am wondering if the hon. member could talk about the aspect of global emissions and compare Canada's role to what is going to replace it, as the rest of the world fills in for us.

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6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I have not agreed on a few things at committee. Usually it has had to do with resource management, a price on pollution and how we can help restore the land we have poked holes in and put pollution above and the waters we have contaminated over the years, things indigenous people have watched us do and have had no control over.

I have travelled in northern Canada extensively, working in mines, in resource development and on hydro resources. They are not going anywhere. That is our land. We cannot transfer our minerals from Canada to other countries for other countries to mine. It is up to us to do that sustainably. It is up to us to work with our local indigenous leaders and indigenous communities to make sure that we are not polluting their water and ruining their air and that together we can create sustainable development in our north. We have to do it together.

In the previous Bill C-15, we saw that the Conservative government worked on jamming four land and water agreements into one without consulting or working on a way forward. That was the old way of doing things, and it did not work. We did not get resources developed, at the end of the day. We have to work together. It is painful for some of my colleagues, but we need a new way of doing business in Canada.

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6:20 p.m.

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

Mr. Speaker, we should not lose focus of what we are discussing. What we are discussing is ensuring that we respect land claims in this country, that we consult with those who are impacted by resource development on their land and that we have complete respect for indigenous people in development in their areas.

The changes coming forward today in the bill are because of changes that were forced upon indigenous people. We are making sure that we have changes here that would allow them to go forward. The legislation brought in by the Harper government set back many developments in the Northwest Territories by years.

The Conservatives confuse responsible development and environmental protection with weakness. They are not weaknesses. They are strengths.

For all the permits and licensing we have done as a government for mining and oil development, have we not been able to do them with good environmental practices and good resource development practices?

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6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for her work in this area. Since we have taken power, we have started the process of reconciliation in terms of resource development. We have seen that the TMX pipeline was rejected because real reconciliation and real consultation did not happen. What did we do? We went back and started that process over again to make sure that we did it properly. Eleven exploratory licences have been put on hold until we get this right. We need to put a line in the sand to say that from here on in, we are going to do things the right way. We are going to engage with indigenous people and together we are going to develop an even better country than we have today.

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6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, two or three times during his comments, and again in response to questions, my colleague from Guelph commented on protecting our waterways. We remember very clearly that a few days after the current government came to power, the Minister of Environment authorized Montreal to dump eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. Just this year in February, Quebec City dumped another 46 million litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. How can my colleague stand here and talk about his government protecting our waterways when this kind of action has taken place?