Mr. Speaker, after everything I heard, if I had to sum up my bill in one word, I would simply use the word “respect”.
No project located in part or as a whole on the territory of one province should avoid compliance with the environmental legislation adopted by the parliament of that province. Developing an aerodrome, expanding a port area, or building a pipeline are examples of projects that concern both the provincial and federal governments. Such projects must secure both provincial and federal approvals, so as to enhance their social acceptability.
Those few sentences are not even mine. They come from a letter from Jean-Marc Fournier, who was the Liberal minister of intergovernmental affairs when it was published in La Presse in April. It presented the Quebec government's position, but even more importantly, it represented the very strong consensus in Quebec and clearly described the impact that Bill C-392 will have.
Right now, projects under federal jurisdiction are above our laws. Proponents are above our environmental laws, above the laws that protect agricultural land, and above municipal bylaws that ensure harmonious land use. These laws and bylaws are not pulled out of thin air. They have been passed by duly elected officials who represent the people. This also reflects social acceptability.
I spent nearly a year consulting with hundreds of stakeholders from all walks of life. I attended the convention of the Union des municipalités last spring to talk to municipal representatives. I travelled across Quebec to talk to regional federations of the Union des producteurs agricoles or UPA, environmental groups and citizen groups dealing with federal projects that had been implemented without any regard for the wishes of the local communities. I also spoke with experts in environmental and constitutional law, unions and student associations.
Guess what? I did not meet anyone at all who was opposed to Bill C-392. In fact, many of them, including the UPA's regional federations, unions, municipalities, experts, elected officials from the Quebec National Assembly and environmental groups, even went to the trouble of writing to me to express their support. Everyone thinks that it is perfectly normal that all developers should have to abide by Quebec's laws.
However, during the two hours of debate on Bill C-392 and the time we have just spent together, it has become clear that the federal government, whether Liberal or Conservative, just wants to have the last word, even if it goes against the will of the public, indigenous peoples, Quebec or even the provinces. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives used their speaking time to oppose Bill C-392. They are on the same side. It is really sad.
Bill C-392 simply proposes that Ottawa respect the will of the provinces in matters of land use and environmental protection. It is important to understand that if Ottawa imposed stricter regulations than the provinces, then Ottawa would have the last word. In other words, the strictest environmental protection rules would apply to projects under federal jurisdiction. In the end, environmental protection would come out the winner.
Now, what is more important to this government and the Conservative opposition? Is it the common good, the future of the planet, sustainable development, environmental protection and social licence, or is it having the power to decide and have the last word? That is what we will find out tomorrow.
Currently, the federal government is allowing forests and protected agricultural lands to be destroyed to make way for the construction of an airport. It is allowing companies to pollute Quebec's air with red dust. It is forcing cell towers on the municipalities wherever the cell provider wants without any regard for the public. There is no respect. When it comes to protecting the land, there needs to be better public relations. There needs to be action. No one is in a better position to take action than the local populations. That is the essence of my bill.
That is why I am urging all members of the House, regardless of affiliation, to stand up for the people they are supposed to represent here in the House of Commons. That is why we are here after all, is it not?