Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House to talk about this bill.
I sat on the transport committee while this bill made its way through committee. I know this has been labelled by many as hypocrisy, but the number one thing I want to talk about today is consultation. It is interesting that it was brought up by the last speaker from Edmonton and the minister mentioned it as well.
The minister made a key point that I think will be proven wrong in a court of law. He mentioned it at committee as well. I asked him about the duty to consult. He responded to that question with a long list. He will remember full well the list he provided me. However, when he asked his question just now, he said that he had a meeting or that he met.
That is not consultation. I asked people whom he had on his list when they appeared before committee if they had met with the minister. They said, “Yes, we did.” I asked if they called that consultation. Whether they approved of the ban or opposed the ban, they all snickered because they all know it was not consultation. In fact, a number of the people who were there also said, and members can check the record because it is all recorded, that when they sat down with the minister, they told him that it was not to be considered consultation, that it was just a meeting.
The question constitutional experts, and I am not one, will ask is, “Do you need to consult to impose legislation?” Well, we might find out.
The flip side of this is, let us say another government gets in in another period of time and wants to do away with Bill C-48 and eliminate the tanker ban. Will it need to consult? We may find out the answer to that question as well.
The key point is, and I think we will see this in the court case that is being brought forward, whether the federal government has the right to impede on resource development on lands where it is clearly stated in their nationhood? Will the government have the ability to eliminate any possibility for them to develop resources, to transport resources across the area? Will it be able to tell them whether or not they will be able to develop a deepwater port along the coastline of their land?
I think most constitutional experts would say that as long as it passed all the regulatory requirements of an environmental assessment, etc., they probably should be able to. We will see.
I just wanted to make that point, that from the very beginning of when the minister appeared just down the hallway here on Bill C-48, I asked him the question, and all the way through the process of the bill going through committee, I asked the question. Each and every time, people felt they were not consulted. They had a meeting, but true consultation is not a meeting. We will see on that one. It will be an interesting court case.
I will also mention that there were a few comments that really raised my eyebrows on the reconciliation and rehabilitation between first nations members and government. Again, this is on the record. One of the main objectives of the government was to improve relations with first nations, and they made the comment, “We don't need a trust fund prime minister telling us what to do.” They also looked at this bill as “further colonialism.” We are talking 2017-18. These are their words. These are not my words. These are the words of first nations members.
Eagle Spirit Energy took five years to work on a project where members of first nations could come together to develop resources from Alberta to the coast of B.C. and to do a project. One of their comments, which I also thought was great, was that they were not looking for a handout, that they were looking for a hand up to further the economic ability and the economic development within their own communities to give their people, their children, and their grandchildren an opportunity to have a better life.
These are regular Canadians who just want a chance to develop resources in a safe manner and transport resources in a safe manner. They love their country, they love their environment, and they would not do anything if they ever thought it would have a negative impact on them.
I know hypocrisy has been mentioned before, and probably every speech has mentioned it in one form or another. We are banning tanker traffic in this area, yet we are not banning it in an area south of this area. We are not banning it in an area on the east coast. We are not banning it in an area along the St. Lawrence. It is just one specific area. Oil will be coming in from different countries that certainly have less stringent environmental regulations on the development of resources than we do. This has even been written about by former Liberal members of Parliament as well.
To show members the kind of crisis we are at and the situation we are in, instead of creating a pipeline to transport oil to a port and transporting it from that port on a safe vessel to a market and actually getting a fair price for it, we are now forcing companies like CN Rail and other technology companies to use this product called CanaPux. They are actually adding polymer plastic to oil so they can ship it by rail through the two CN rail lines on the northern coast. They ship these CanaPux on vessels that would normally handle coal. This is what we have been forced to do. Diesel locomotives are travelling thousands of kilometres of rail line up and down interesting terrain just to ship it along the way. As a guy from Ontario, I sometimes question what we are doing in this country.
Another thing I thought troublesome, and I think the minister and department officials would agree, is the schedule. Using the CanaPux example, I asked government officials if CanaPux would be put on the schedule. Well, nobody has an answer, and I am not sure anybody will have an answer. Also, if we get on that schedule, how do we get off the schedule? There are no answers to that. Before any proposed legislation comes into force, I think that needs to be clearly defined and clearly set out. The industry has a right to know.
A constituent of mine mentioned that there is a consortium of clean tech people who have the technology and ability to clean up spills. They have been on a contract to provide cleanup services on the west coast. Their project or their submission to public works was flatly declined in favour of a solvent that was an American technology. I do not think we have anything against America, but when we have a Canadian technology that has been proven to be able to clean up oil spills—not dissolve oil, but actually clean up oil spills—then we have to question exactly what we are trying to accomplish here. I feel fairly safe about what technology can do to deal with vessels exporting oil products to this country, China, and parts in between, but what are we doing?
The final thing I will add is that yes, there is a ban on oil, but there is no ban on diesel fuel. Obviously I am not a scientist and I realize that the two have different properties, but there is no ban on diesel fuel. That is further to the hypocrisy point. I would say that if we had a diesel spill, it would cause a lot of damage to the environment, marine life, and marine plants, yet there is no mention of that in the bill. Each side is making is making their points, and the bill will get passed, but I would like to mention that there will obviously be court challenges and perhaps quite a bit of hypocrisy as well.