Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this evening in adjournment proceedings to return to a question I asked on October 23 of last year. Some will remember this question only for the uproarious laughter that ensued, most inappropriately, as some members in this place thought the Minister of Transport had misspoken. He referred to the kind of sense of shared commitment the opposition benches all felt in opposing the omnibus budget bills put forward by the previous government.
In the spring of 2012, the omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38, repealed our environmental assessment act and destroyed the Fisheries Act. We fought very hard against that, and then in the fall of the same year, there was another omnibus budget bill, Bill C-45, that gutted the navigable waters protection act. In referring to that, the hon. Minister of Transport referred to remembering spending the whole night with me, which of course, was in this House over 24 hours of straight voting. Very few members actually stayed in their seats voting continually on every amendment and every motion, but since most of the amendments were mine, I stayed here in my seat for 24 hours voting straight through. It certainly was not an occasion for raucous laughter, but we know sometimes people in this place do not rise to the occasion. They sink to grade two or maybe kindergarten.
In any case, I want to return to that, because now we have seen the proposed amendments to the Navigation Protection Act. In fact, they were tabled in this place just last week. I have reviewed them thoroughly. I had extreme concern, which I raised in my question, that the Minister of Transport was not likely to meet the mandate letter, in which the Prime Minister had instructed him to restore lost protections to the Navigation Protection Act. It appeared from discussion papers and from the report of the parliamentary committee on transportation that the government was going to be prepared to say that this is what the previous government did, that it took some 99% of navigable waters from our inland waterways out of the act and created a short list of about 100 named waterways that are internal to Canada, and that is that. If a waterway is on that list, it is navigable water. If it is not on the list, it is not. It appeared for quite a while that the Liberal approach would be to say that they would create a system whereby people could add waters to the list by application.
It was a real relief, in reading Bill C-69, one of the few places in reading that bill that I was actually relieved, that the definition of navigable waters has been changed such that it is not just the schedule of waterways that will be considered navigable waters but any waterway human beings are currently using. It would not be as broad as what there was in 1881, but any body of water, anywhere in Canada, in which one could put a canoe or a kayak and navigate one's way through would require a permit from the federal minister before that body of water could be obstructed. It is much broader than it was under Harper. It is not a complete restoration of lost protections, but a much bigger swath of interior waters of Canada would now be under a navigable waters act.
One of the aspects of the lost protection was that the issuance of a federal permit would trigger an environmental review. Under part 1 of Bill C-69, we would now have what would be called an impact assessment, but without any triggering to review projects where a federal minister had to give a permit. We await finding out what the designated projects would look like, but it would still fall short of what was promised.