House of Commons Hansard #270 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-69.

Topics

The House resumed from February 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be happily splitting my time with the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

It is an absolutely great honour for me to rise in the House and speak on behalf of the residents of Davenport to Bill C-69. It has quite a long name, an act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Davenport residents deeply care about the environment. They care about how we develop projects in this country that impact our environment. They care about how the Canadian government will be adhering to our Paris accord commitments. They have been asking me to show them the plan for how Canada will be achieving its targets, and I will be showing that to them very shortly. In Davenport we are doing our own bit as well in terms of trying to find ways to model a low-carbon, urban, sustainable community.

Back to Bill C-69, I am so pleased to have this opportunity to address the House regarding a legislative initiative that is at the heart of our priorities as a government: to ensure a sustainable future for Canadians. Our guiding principle is that a strong economy and a clean environment go hand in hand. We believe that we can harness our natural resources to create good jobs while fulfilling our duty as stewards of the environment.

Bill C-69 would introduce a review process that for major projects would strike a balance between protecting our environment and ensuring that good projects can be built and can create jobs for the middle class. Essentially, Bill C-69 would create a single agency, called the impact assessment agency of Canada, that would lead all impact assessments for major projects to ensure a consistent and efficient approach. The impact assessment agency of Canada would ensure that there were better rules in place to protect our environment, our fish, and our waterways; to rebuild public trust and respect indigenous rights; and to strengthen our economy. Let me spend the next few minutes telling members how.

We have to go back a little in time. The fact is that many Canadians no longer have faith in our previous environmental review process following changes introduced by the former government. That is why we made a promise to Canadians that we would review and modernize environmental assessment and regulatory processes. I am proud to say that we are delivering on that promise by bringing in better rules that will restore environmental protections and rebuild public trust in decisions about major projects. Building on what works, we have designed an assessment system that is clearer and more predictable and that allows good projects to go ahead sustainably.

We are a government that consults broadly. The proposed impact assessment act was not arrived at in isolation. It is the result of careful examination and extensive consultations with Canadians.

More than two years ago, our government launched a comprehensive review of federal environmental assessment and regulatory processes. This comprised four separate, but complementary, reviews. We looked at ways to improve federal environmental assessments, to modernize the National Energy Board, and to restore lost protections and introduce modern safeguards under the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.

To that end, our government set up a four-person expert panel to solicit the views of Canadians from across the country. We also established a multi-interest advisory committee to support this work. The expert panel went to 21 cities, received more than 800 online and written submissions, and welcomed over 1,000 people at engagement sessions. We had extensive consultations with indigenous peoples and heard from the provinces and territories, industry, environmental groups, and the public.

We also took into account input from three other processes led by another expert panel and two parliamentary standing committees. We then prepared a discussion paper on the government's proposed path forward and solicited feedback. What did we hear? We heard from environmental groups, indigenous leaders, provinces and territories, businesses, and Canadians from communities across our country who told us that effective assessment must not only focus on avoiding negative impacts but must foster sustainability.

Stakeholders told us that there was a need for greater transparency and that assessments must demonstrate how public input informs decision-making. Project reviews must be grounded in scientific evidence as well as in indigenous traditional knowledge. Indigenous people want to participate as partners in the economic development of their territories. We heard that Canadians want to be more involved in our processes. Businesses need clearer and more predictable timelines, and decisions should be more open and evidence-based.

Let there be no doubt that the residents of Davenport also contributed their thoughts to the consultation process. They felt that the previous assessment process was not a good one, that there was not enough consultation with communities and indigenous groups, that there was not enough being done to protect nature, and in general that we needed stronger and fairer environmental assessment laws. I am happy to say that the new legislation incorporates and reflects not only the views of Davenport residents but of all Canadians who participated in the process. What we are proposing is a system that is more transparent, effective, and efficient for all concerned.

I will now highlight some of the principles that form the basis of Bill C-69.

First, we are adopting a broader approach based on the principles of sustainability. Canada has had a law in place since 1992 to ensure that the environment is taken into account as projects are considered for design and implementation. When first introduced, environmental assessment laws and regulatory processes had a specific focus on environmental impacts. Our thinking has greatly evolved since then, and we now understand that an assessment system must consider more than just the environment. It must take into account wider concerns, including the economic, social, and health consequences associated with proposed projects. The new act would do just that, and that is why the name of the act would change from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to the impact assessment act, reflecting a much wider range of effects we would consider as we reviewed projects for implementation and aimed to foster sustainability.

Second, the new process would be more efficient and more predictable. It would allow people to know where they stood. Projects would now go through an early planning and engagement phase during which potential impacts would be identified and discussed with the public, indigenous people, and the project proponent at the outset of an initiative. Timelines would continue to be legislated. Efficiencies gained through early planning would allow timelines for other phases to be reduced, leading to more timely decisions.

Third, we want to establish a new partnership with indigenous people. They are the most affected by the impacts of the projects, and we will ensure that we respect their rights and jurisdiction in the way decisions are considered.

Fourth, we want evidence to guide and inform all our decisions, so we will consider evidence of science as well as indigenous traditional knowledge as we move forward on these projects. The value of indigenous traditional knowledge cannot be underestimated, and we are determined to include indigenous people in every single project moving forward.

Fifth, we want to increase transparency. By transparency we mean openness that translates into removing barriers to public participation in the review process and making key project information openly available.

Finally, we want to take a truly big-picture view of impacts, one that improves our understanding of the cumulative effects of all projects in a given region. The new impact assessment would take this wider view through the increased use of regional assessments. Regional assessments would examine the effects of past, present, and future activities in a region. For instance, they might examine effects on biodiversity and species at risk and identify impacts on the rights and interests of indigenous people. They would provide decision-makers with a fuller and more complete picture of the context within which a project was proposed, allowing for a better understanding of the overall impact on the environment.

These are not mere operational changes we have introduced but rather are fundamental changes in the way we actually do business. I am very proud to be in this House speaking on behalf of Bill C-69. I believe that we have a wonderful new process in place, and I have a lot of confidence in the projects moving forward. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on behalf of the residents of Davenport.

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10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, at the northern and aboriginal affairs committee, we had natural resources officials there. We are currently studying Bill C-262, on the implementation of UNDRIP and how all Canadian law is going to have to live within the framework of UNDRIP. We asked the natural resources officials if they had considered whether Bill C-69 lived within that framework, and they had not. That was their answer.

I am just wondering if free, prior, and informed consent is to be held at all levels, particularly legislative, but also if the member thinks that Bill C-69 meets that threshold of free, prior, and informed consent.

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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the base of this bill is the recognition of and respect for indigenous rights. I think that is consistent with what UNDRIP is about.

The bill would require the involvement of indigenous peoples throughout an assessment based on the recognition of and respect for their indigenous rights. As well, it would provide for co-operation with indigenous jurisdictions undertaking their own assessments.

I have full confidence that there is not only enough consultation with indigenous communities right across this country but that there is very much valuing and respecting their rights.

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10:15 a.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have here before us a 341-page omnibus bill. It is the biggest bill to come before this Parliament in years, maybe in decades, on environmental protections, and the government has moved closure after two hours of debate.

The NDP has only had two speakers on this bill and may not get another one. I am just wondering what the member can say to that. She is going on about how important this bill is, yet we are not able to fully debate this bill here in this House at all.

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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with the premise that it is an omnibus bill. I think it is a very comprehensive bill, because it is actually changing a number of acts. It is changing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Navigation Protection Act, and a number of other acts that are consequential to it. It is comprehensive. It needs to be comprehensive.

We spent two years consulting on this. Once it moves from this House, there will be opportunities for members of all parties in this House to have input at committee and when it comes back to this House. There will be a number of other opportunities for members to have input.

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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member just spoke about the consultation process our government has gone through. Maybe she could expand on that consultation process and how extensive it was.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, we spent a couple of years on this consultation process. It actually comprised four complementary reviews. It was extraordinarily comprehensive. Not only did we go across the country, we also made sure to get comments online.

I know that the residents of Davenport definitely participated. There were a number of letters they sent in and a number of messages sent through me to the minister.

I have a lot of confidence in the consultation process. I have a lot of confidence that we took into account what we heard, and we crafted the very best bill based on those consultations.

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10:15 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people, and thank them for their generosity. Meegwetch.

I also want to thank the hon. member for Davenport for splitting time with me. The circumstances are not those that led me to feel particularly relieved or happy, but I am grateful for the civility of giving me 10 minutes. Otherwise, I would not be able to speak at all, because of the egregious use of time allocation on an omnibus bill. I never expected to see omnibus bills with time allocation after the change in government.

This is three bills put together: the National Energy Board Act changed, the Navigation Protection Act changed, and the Environmental Assessment Act overhauled. The fourth piece that had been running along in tandem, through the great judgment of the Minister of Fisheries, is Bill C-68. It stands on its own, and it is an excellent piece of legislation.

However, with the time available to me, I am going to be able to speak only to the impact assessment piece of this omnibus bill, which I am afraid falls below any standard of acceptability and should trouble deeply any Liberal who stood in this place and voted against Bill C-38 in the spring of 2012. We stood together with every single Liberal MP and every single New Democrat against the destruction of decades of environmental law. How that process has been captured by the same mentality, values, and principles that led to Harper destroying these acts, so we now have a repackaged version of those same principles of eroding environmental assessment, is something that the Liberal caucus should try to figure out. I hope it will lead to changes in committee.

With the time available to me, I will quickly review my background in environmental law. I happen to be an environmental lawyer. It is an even weirder fluke that when I was 22 years old and a waitress and cook, I participated in the very first environmental assessment panel hearing in Canadian history, in 1976. It was in Cape Breton. It was about the Wreck Cove hydroelectric plant. I have participated in dozens since.

Ten years after that, I was in the office of the Minister of the Environment. I was actually a senior policy adviser, the person who took the quest from Environment Canada from a wonderful senior civil servant named Ray Robinson, who headed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in those days, and we took to the Privy Council Office the request to legislate. Up until then, we had been operating under a guidelines order that required environmental reviews, but it was a bit uncertain in its full rubric. Some people thought it was a guideline and therefore was not binding. We got permission to legislate. Subsequently, I resigned from my job with the Minister of the Environment when the minister violated the environmental assessment review process guidelines in approving dams without permits.

This is just to say that I did not only recently come upon my commitment to proper and thorough environmental assessment in Canada. It is non-partisan and goes back decades.

Now, what happened under Bill C-38 was the repeal of our environmental assessment process and its replacement with a rather bogus process. We can compare Bill C-69 to the bogus process in Bill C-38 in 2012, or we can compare it to what is needed. It is all well and good for the federal Liberals to say to us today that they did a lot of consultation. It is true. There were 21 cities with public hearings, and over 1,000 people showed up to a superb expert panel on environmental assessment. The question before us today is why their recommendations were ignored.

I am going to read, one at a time, the recommendations that were ignored. There are many. In previous debate in this place, when the bill was first put forward, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment claimed I was wrong in my assertion, which I think is fact, that the environmental assessment expert panel was ignored. It is really important to understand the point of environmental assessment. I will just go back a bit and say that this is one of the pieces of Harper-think that have survived into Liberal-think.

Environmental assessment has never been about a green light or a red light, yes or no, or whether the project goes ahead or not. It is primarily a tool for good planning. In the entire history from 1976 to 2012, when Harper repealed the act, only two projects were ever given a red light. I will say that again. From 1976 to 2012, with the thousands of environmental reviews that were done, only twice did a federal-provincial environmental review panel say that a project was so damaging that it could not be mitigated and the panel had to say no.

It has primarily been about studying a process thoroughly, studying a project thoroughly, and deciding that we can mitigate the damage if only the proponent would agree to better scrubbers or change the location slightly. In the course of the review process, many projects were improved, the damages mitigated and reduced, and in the end a much better project was accepted. This has never been primarily about how to get to yes or no faster. That is what Harper thought, and apparently that thought process has somehow infested some ongoing decision-making process within government. An environmental assessment is about good planning.

Until 2012, the Environmental Assessment Act said that the purpose was to get in and review a project, “as early as is practicable in the planning stages of the project and before irrevocable decisions are made”

Let me quote what we heard from the expert panel on what an environmental assessment should contain. It did agree that it should be called “impact assessment”. That is one piece they could claim.

Page 5 states that the impact assessment authority “should be established as a quasi-judicial tribunal empowered to undertake a full range of facilitation and dispute-resolution processes.” This has been ignored. Members have heard about the expert panel the government sent around the country, with a thousand people participating and with 800 submissions. Their recommendation was not to have ad hoc panels where people are pulled in, with different projects always having different panels, but to develop expertise through a quasi-judicial tribunal. Ironically, this was also the advice from the red book Liberal platform of 1993.

The second point is to have time limits and cost controls that reflect the specific circumstances of each project, not the current one-size-fits-all approach, which was an innovation under Bill C-38. This is a key point. Projects need to be reviewed whether they are big or small. The effect of Bill C-38, which Harper brought in, is this. The previous era had seen approximately 4,000 projects a year reviewed, most of them with paper-screening exercises that did not take much time. After Bill C-38, the number shrank from 4,000 a year to fewer than 100 a year. The Liberals have gone with perpetuating the fewer than 100 a year. This is how they have done it, by ignoring this advice.

The panel stated that there should be a review when there are federal interests, and that “federal interests include, at a minimum, federal lands, federal funding and federal government as proponent, as well as”, and then there is a list: species at risk, fish, marine plants, migratory birds, indigenous issues, and so on.

This piece of legislation ignores anything except the project list. That was an innovation of Bill C-38. There are no law list reviews requiring that if the navigable waters act or the Fisheries Act requires a permit from the minister there be a review, and no requirement that when federal money is spent there be a review. That is the advice the government got from its expert panel, which it ignored.

The expert panel also said clearly that there should be no role at all for the National Energy Board, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, or the offshore petroleum boards. It pointed out that “the federal system prior to 2012 had decades of experience with delegating final decision-making to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission...and the [NEB]” without those agencies meddling in the environmental assessment.

What is happening under Bill C-69 is like a shell game. We are told it is one independent agency, except that when it is reviewing pipelines the panel must be comprised of people who are sitting members of the NEB, now called the Canadian energy regulator. If they are reviewing offshore petroleum operations in Atlantic Canada, the panel members must come from the offshore petroleum boards, which by legislation are required to expand offshore oil. It is an embedded conflict of interest in the legislation.

The atrocities continue, with respect to indigenous rights. How is it that the Minister of Fisheries can put before us Bill C-68, which has strong language to protect indigenous rights? Bill C-68, in section 2.3, “Rights of Indigenous peoples of Canada”, makes it clear that the act cannot derogate from indigenous rights. Section 2.4 states that it is the duty of the minister when making a decision to “consider any adverse effects” on the rights of indigenous peoples.

This piece of over-discretionary political masquerading of environmental assessment in Bill C-69 merely states that “the impact that the designated project may have on any Indigenous group” is a factor to be considered. As a former litigator, I can tell members that the courts do not regard indigenous rights as a factor to be considered as protecting indigenous rights.

This bill gets an F. At committee, let us please get it to a C+.

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10:30 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I do not question the member's passion on the topic. In fact, she has illustrated well the degree of her involvement on this file.

Having said that, I think there is an expectation that the government have a process in place that incorporates legislation that recognizes there is an indigenous factor, an environmental factor, and an energy to market factor, which have to be taken into consideration in terms of the needs of Canada going forward.

Would the member not, at the very least, look at this? On the one hand, the Conservatives are saying that we have gone too far. On the other hand, the NDP and the leader of the Green Party are saying that we have not gone far enough.

At the very least, let us allow the bill to go to committee. I understand the member's concerns with regard to speeding this through. I can assure her that if it were up to some members of the House this legislation would never pass the House. Unfortunately, at times, time allocation is a tool we require.

Would the member not agree that at least it is a step forward, perhaps not the leap she would like to see, but a step forward?

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10:30 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my commentary is not based on what I would like to see as an environmental activist. It is a public policy question of whether it is good legislation. It is, objectively speaking, not good legislation. It is so wide open to discretion. One might say, “Well, look at our current Minister of Environment. One can't imagine her ignoring indigenous rights and plowing something through.” However, legislation is for all time, for different governments. Even if I thought that there was no chance in a million years of any misuse of discretion by the current government, why would I sign off on a piece of legislation that is so deficient, empirically speaking? It is not good legislation.

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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech of the hon. member. She is definitely very experienced in green energy, and the environment in general. She mentioned the pipelines. She mentioned balance and indigenous communities. How does she envision a pipeline going anywhere, west or east, in Canada with the balance to get the pipeline going through? Where does she see the balance in order to get pipelines through Canada, either to the west coast or to the east coast?

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10:30 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think it is a question of looking at the evidence and having a full, impartial hearing where witnesses can be cross-examined, assertions can be tested, and the truth can be determined.

In the case of pipelines, I am not against any particular pipeline. The question is always what is in it. If it is a pipeline with bitumen and diluent, it cannot be cleaned up. Should we wish to build a pipeline to bring more B.C. wine to Alberta, I am all for it.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will not get distracted by the idea of a pipeline filled with great B.C. wine, as much as Canadians would probably like to see that happen.

My question for my friend is both on the process and on the substance. The Liberals promised not to bring in omnibus legislation. The Speaker of the House has determined that to be this. After two hours of debate, the Liberals brought in time allocation, shutting off the conversation, when they promised they would not do this.

I suppose we need to bring this into the real world, and here is my question for my friend on the substance. The Prime Minister, when campaigning for the job, said that the Kinder Morgan pipeline, for example, had been put under a bad review and that he would put it under a proper review. If the Prime Minister had done his job and actually subjected that project to review, the plan for the diluted bitumen to go to Vancouver, would the premier of British Columbia have to do the makeup work after the fact, after the approval process, to find out things such as how one handles a spill of diluted bitumen, either in fresh water or in salt water?

If the Prime Minister had followed through on his commitment to have good legislation go through a decent process, and that projects would be reviewed properly, would we be in the circumstance we are in, with the conflict with first nations people and the people of British Columbia, and now the Government of Canada?

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10:30 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is absolutely right. To me, the question suggests its own answer, which is that had we not been put through a process that is not part of that history of environmental review that I reviewed, the National Energy Board had no expertise in doing reviews.

This allows me to mention another carry-over bad aspect of Bill C-38 into Bill C-69. The time limits that were put into Bill C-38 are how the National Energy Board determined that it would not allow people like me as an intervenor to cross-examine Kinder Morgan's witnesses, which led to an abuse of process and not really getting to the facts of the matter.

That aspect of time limits has not only been continued in Bill C-69, but the time limits have also been shortened.

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10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am going to be splitting my time.

I rise to speak to Bill C-69, a massive 400-page omnibus bill. Canadians will remember during the last election when the Prime Minister put his hand over his heart and made the solemn declaration to Canadians that he would never ever introduce anything resembling an omnibus bill, but here we are yet again with another omnibus bill from the government.

It gets even worse because the government has seen fit to invoke time allocation after two hours of debate. The government has invoked time allocation after just two hours of debate on a massive, complex bill that is going to rewrite the environmental assessment process, and that is going to have a profound impact on jobs and the economy. I say shame on the government for doing that.

In the short time that I have to speak to the bill, I am going to be focusing on part 2 of Bill C-69, this massive omnibus bill. Part 2 establishes a new approval process for energy projects, including pipelines. It is going to have a profound impact on my province of Alberta and thousands of my constituents who live in St. Albert and northwest Edmonton whose jobs are tied directly or indirectly to the energy sector.

The Minister of Environment , in speaking to Bill C-69 in this House, said that the objectives of the bill include improving public confidence in the approval process, strengthening investor confidence, making the energy sector more competitive, growing the Canadian economy, and creating good, middle-class jobs. That is what the minister said. Who could disagree with those objectives? Those are laudable objectives.

The only problem is that Bill C-69 will achieve none of those objectives. Rather, Bill C-69 is about keeping energy in the ground. That is what Bill C-69 means. I know that for the Prime Minister's principal secretary and chief political strategist, Gerald Butts, keeping Canadian energy in the ground is something he has long fantasized about.

Bill C-69 means gutting an assessment process based on science and evidence that balance environmental and economic issues with an assessment process that is politicized from top to bottom. How is the process politicized from top to bottom?

Let us start with who gets to make submissions to the regulator. Who has standing? Presently, in order to have standing before the National Energy Board, one must be impacted directly by a project, or one must have relevant knowledge or information about a project. Bill C-69 eliminates that criteria and replaces it with any member of the general public.

This means that it is open season. It is an invitation to Gerald Butts' friends and the Minister of Environment 's friends, and for the radical anti-oil sands movement to take over the process, to control the process with their ideological and political agenda to shut down Alberta's oil sands, a movement that is funded by U.S. money, filled with activists who are in many cases nothing more than shills for foreign interests.

The Minister of Environment says that is going to restore public confidence in the assessment process. What it is really going to do is completely politicize the process and result in delays in the approval process.

The Minister of Environment says that we should not worry about delays, because Bill C-69 is going to streamline the approval process, that it is going to reduce the time to see major projects approved. When the minister makes that assertion, she is conveniently overlooking the fact that Bill C-69 would impose a planning process before the assessment process begins. The planning process would be a six-month process, 180 days. When that is taken into account, it will not reduce the time; it will add about 100 days to the time in which a project could be approved.

If all we were talking about was an additional 100 days, we probably would not be having this debate, but it gets worse. The minister, on the basis of a political whim influenced by George Soros funded activists, can extend the timeline. She can extend the delay.

It gets even worse than that. The minister can kill a project at the planning stage before any scientific analysis is done, before any environmental analysis is done, before any economic analysis is done. In other words, the minister can kill a pipeline project purely on the basis of a raw political decision.

The minister says that this is going to increase investor confidence. Is that some kind of a joke? It is not going to increase investor confidence. It is going to do the opposite. It is going to drive billions of dollars of investment south of the border and to other energy-producing jurisdictions that allow their energy sectors to grow and thrive.

Make no mistake about it. If Bill C-69 is passed, not one major energy project will be approved in this country. Before another major pipeline project is killed, it is imperative that this Parliament kill Bill C-69.

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10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the NDP says that the government is not doing enough and the Conservatives say that the government is doing too much. That tells me we have found the right balance in this bill.

It is really rich to hear from members on the other side, the ones who gutted environmental regulation, who gutted staff at Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Has there ever been an environmental regulation that the member actually liked?

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10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the assessment process under the previous Conservative government was among the strongest in the world. That was widely recognized.

In 2012, our previous Conservative government streamlined the process. We did that to increase investor confidence and to increase investment in the energy sector without in any way diminishing environmental standards. That was a very successful process, unlike what we have seen over the last two years, where we have seen billions of dollars of investment driven out of the energy sector. Under the Liberal government's watch, there has been the largest drop in investment in the energy sector over the last two years than Canada has seen in 70 years. That is the record of the Liberal government.

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10:45 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

In the previous Parliament, when the Conservatives changed the Navigable Waters Protection Act into the Navigation Protection Act, I was a vocal opponent of that approach, as I still am. One of the problems with that approach was that only about 100 waterways and lakes, identified in a schedule to the act, would be protected moving forward. What the Liberals are doing here is simply returning to the old title, “navigable waters protection”, but maintaining the Conservative approach.

Would my colleague agree that this is a bit of a publicity stunt? It seems more like false advertising. Flaunting or suggesting measures in the bill that are not really there is a trademark of the Liberal Party.

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10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the comment from the hon. member for Trois-Rivières that the Liberals like to say one thing to appeal to their base and then almost always do quite another.

With respect to the Navigation Protection Act and changes that are provided for in Bill C-69, I would say that I do have concerns with those measures. Perhaps they are not necessarily the same concerns that the hon. member for Trois-Rivières has, but the bottom line is that the changes being brought forward in Bill C-69 with respect to navigable waters are going to make it more difficult, and there are going to be more roadblocks and more impediments to getting critical infrastructure built.

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March 2nd, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals like to put out lofty promises and words. They went to the UN and proudly declared they were going to implement the UN declaration, which really required certain things of them. I would ask my colleague if he sees any evidence of that commitment they made so proudly in this bill particularly around the issues of how they are going to receive consent.

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10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, in terms of false advertising that the member for Trois-Rivières referred to, one example of that is the Liberal government's claim that this bill would somehow strengthen indigenous input. The fact is that Canada has had a long-standing legal framework around indigenous consultation. The record of the government from what we have seen is that instead of consulting with indigenous communities, it is blocking major pipeline and other energy projects and preventing indigenous communities from entering into equitable partnerships. That is what the government is doing without consulting indigenous communities.

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10:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Resuming debate. I would like to inform the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier that he will have time for his presentation, but questions and comments will come after oral question period.

The hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

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10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak after my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton in Alberta. As we will see, Quebec and Alberta can get along well. He is my seatmate and an extraordinary, thoughtful man. He works for his constituents and his province, and I take my hat off to him.

I hope my colleague has convinced the Liberal government to improve Bill C-69, an act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. That is the title of the bill, and it sure looks like an omnibus bill to me. I will explain why as I try to figure it all out.

Part 1 enacts the Impact Assessment Act and repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. Among other things, the Impact Assessment Act....

Part 2 enacts the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, which establishes the Canadian Energy Regulator and sets out its composition, mandate and powers. The role of the Regulator is to regulate the exploitation, development and transportation of energy within Parliament’s jurisdiction.

Part 3 amends the Navigation Protection Act....

One might say that this 360-page bill is as clear as mud. The provinces are unable to comment on the bill because it is too big and too complex. The Liberals say that they want to improve the process. They have to do better. This government wants to paint us as the big bad Conservatives. The Liberals try every day to label us as wanting to destroy the planet. No one in the official opposition gets up in the morning with the intention of destroying our planet. We want to improve it and be smart about it.

I would like to remind my colleagues from the Liberal Party, the window-dressing party, the social media party, that the previous government introduced a number of measures to combat climate change.

We created the clean air regulatory agenda. We established new standards to reduce car and light truck emissions. We established new standards to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and their engines. We proposed regulations to align ourselves with the U.S. Working Group III standards for vehicle emissions and sulphur in gasoline. We sought to limit HFCs, black carbon, and methane.

I can see my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable smiling. My Conservative colleagues from Alberta, Quebec, and every other province work well together. That is how we build a country.

I will continue with my list. We established new rules to reduce emissions from carbon-based electricity generation. We implemented measures to support the development of carbon capture technologies and alternative energy sources. We enhanced the government's annual report on the main environmental indicators, including greenhouse gases. Another thing that will likely surprise the members opposite is that we even abolished, yes abolished, tax breaks for the oil sands, so the Liberals really need to stop talking about Alberta's dirty oil.

All of these measures resulted in a good environment report card for Canada and confirmed the reduction in greenhouse gases under the previous government. Do members know that, in 2014, the last full year our government was in power, we reduced greenhouse gas emissions? Canada's share of global emissions decreased by more than 15%.

We were unable to do more after 2014 because we were no longer in office. The Liberals took power. What did they do? Under the Conservatives, our share of global emissions fell from 1.9% to 1.6%. Those results were not obtained under the Liberals. We, the Conservatives, reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

We must have done something right because the Liberal government adopted our greenhouse gas emissions targets. They say that we do not consult scientists, but they probably consulted the same scientists that we did. They took the findings of our scientists and the findings of theirs to come up with the same target. As a Conservative MP, I established a circular economy committee in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. Yes, we Conservatives are working to protect our planet in various ways in our own ridings.

When the Liberal government talks about western Canada's dirty oil, I would like to remind the group of members opposite that it was prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau who created the oil sands. Yes, members heard me right. It was Pierre Elliott Trudeau. It was probably to pay for Canada's deficits because it was under Pierre Elliott Trudeau that Canada's deficits were created. Who is the son of that prime minister? It is the current Prime Minister of Canada. It is the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Is this son about to do the same thing? Is he legalizing marijuana to try to address his spiralling debt? The father, at least, would not have emboldened the party's friends and organized crime.

I recently said in the House that the government was very naive to think that the Liberals' bill would stop organized crime groups from selling marijuana. What were the papers reporting this weekend? Prices are already dropping. I hear about this every time I go out to talk to constituents in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. People think this is irresponsible. This is not the right way to go about it.

To get back to the topic at hand, this Liberal government was elected on all kinds of promises to environmental groups, and now, 28 months later, it has brought forth a mouse. There is nothing in this bill to improve effectiveness and there is nothing to provide for reasonable time constraints, so that we can proceed with smart sustainable development.

Allow me to take a sip of water. This is a natural resource. We must protect it and develop it intelligently.

Furthermore, this law to protect the process creates a sense of insecurity. Even if the scientific assessment determines that a developer's project complies with environmental standards, the project will still not be guaranteed, since the minister has discretion over whether the project will move forward and can make this decision based on her mood or on the relationship this government has with the developer.

Why not be clear and provide criteria that are properly defined and based on scientific data? Why put the power in the Liberals' hands?

We saw what they were capable of with the Liberal bagmen and the friends of the Liberal government who are investing in pot. The Minister of Finance carried out a few transactions, and once he had made his money, he changed the law on pension plans. Does anyone remember the Gomery commission?

In conclusion, this bill is nothing but window dressing. The Liberals changed the formula for calculating the duration of the process. Honestly, this is just window dressing. It is not for real. It is irresponsible. The government sets deadlines and requests scientific studies, but at the end of the day, the minister has all the decision-making power. We agree that improvements need to be made to the way things are being done. Yes, we do agree. As I said earlier, we Conservatives want to protect our planet. We need to consider new processes for protecting the environment.

Once again, the government is tabling a document with blatant disregard for the objectives we seek to achieve. Like so many departments and files, this bill is all about appearances.

Can we balance sustainable development with economic development? Why this charade? Why do we not put effective mechanisms in place to protect our resources and develop them intelligently?

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier will have five minutes remaining for questions and comments when the House resumes debate on this bill.