Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here this afternoon speaking to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I last spoke in the House at length on this bill in October 2017. I am thankful for the opportunity to have served on the environment committee for a while and have wrapped myself around this topic quite well.
What does it mean, and what is its purpose? I am going to refer to a specific section:
The purpose of this Act is to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy that makes decision making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament, promotes coordinated action across the Government of Canada to advance sustainable development and respects Canada’s domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development, with a view to improving the quality of life of Canadians.
There is another factor in that section I want to read:
the principle that sustainable development is based on an efficient use of natural, social and economic resources and the need for the Government of Canada to integrate environmental, economic and social factors in the making of all of its decisions;
I bring that up, because I am going to dwell on that later in my speech.
Our Conservative Party recognizes that sustainability needs to be included in every decision to ensure that there is a balance between social, economic, and environmental factors. We have always believed in that. The record will show that we are the only government in the last decade and a half that has a record of improving greenhouse gas emissions.
This type of policy-making ensures not only that today's generation will have a healthy and prosperous lifestyle but that we can pass health and prosperity on to future generations to come: my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, Mr. Speaker, and everyone else's.
The importance of sustainable development is something on which all parties agree. I do not think anyone disagrees that we have to protect the environment or that the environment can survive on its own but industry cannot. It needs to protect the environment, and I believe we all believe this and will fight for it very hard. This is proven by the fact that the report from the environment committee was unanimous. Sustainable development is so important to the future of Canada and to our grandchildren that not only should environmental factors be considered, but we need to also consider the social and economic pillars that surround them.
If we go back almost 10 years, then minister John Baird, under the Conservative government, supported a Liberal member's private member's bill regarding the federal sustainability act. The bill was passed, and we followed the guidelines. We had positive results, better than I can say from the current government. The act declares that all government decision-making be reviewed through an environmental, economic, and social lens. I want to stress the social lens and the appropriate balance. That is a bit of a rub.
I had a great working career in the RCMP. I have lived near the energy sector in Alberta and British Columbia since around 1986. I also had the opportunity, nearly 20 years ago, to work directly in the oil and gas sector as a regulator, as an enforcer, for the Province of British Columbia after I retired. I have a pretty good understanding of what goes on in relation to oil and gas exploration in Canada and the way we protect the environment.
Part of my job was to make sure that companies out there were doing their job to protect the environment. I will stand in this House all day long and wave the fact that I think Canada—the provinces of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and even a little has been done in Ontario and Quebec—has the greatest, strongest environmental standards in the world, and we produce the cleanest energy, regardless of what it is, whether it is coal, oil, or gas. We have such strong, stringent regulations that we should be proud of that fact.
Twenty years ago, the B.C. government realized that industry was hampered, government was hampered, the public was hampered, and aboriginal communities were hampered by overregulation. Too many departments, having separate control, were all fighting and vying to do their part to protect the environment and the government and to regulate industry. What did the B.C. government do? Twenty years ago, it realized that it needed to hire one person to oversee it and one person to try to bring it back together, and it did.
If my numbers are correct, we got rid of one-third of the regulations. Industry prospered. We developed a really good working relationship with aboriginal communities. They could understand what was going on and could work with the government and industry because of the way the regulations were modernized and improved.
If we look at this bill, I believe it says that it would require more departments and more agencies to contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy. It would bring the total to more than 90, from the current 26. My God, look back at history, folks. It does not work. We have to modernize it and make it efficient, effective, and understandable so that everyone can work together. If we make it too big, the government cannot control it. If we make it too complicated, industry and the people involved, whether it is on private or aboriginal land, cannot understand it. Here we are with a new bill trying to increase it by over three times. Let us get this thing back to reality.
I am sorry that I am a little scattered. I was told about this about 20 minutes ago, so I came in here and wrote some notes down from what I remembered.
As I said earlier, the environment committee did a fantastic job, and it had a unanimous report on this. Conservative members on the environment and sustainable development committee supported the changes to the FSDS. They wanted to ensure, as did the Liberal and NDP members, that economic, social, and environmental considerations were accounted for by the Government of Canada. They wanted to make sure that happened. They wanted to ensure that the act included measurable targets and enforceability.
Measurable targets and enforceability are so important. We can throw out a handful of rules, but if we cannot enforce them and cannot ever make that number, why put them out there? Make it reasonable for all the people participating, whether it is the aboriginal community, people living in the area, industry, or government. If we all work together and can understand what we are all doing together, we can accomplish a lot together.
My friend from the Northwest Territories understands what I am talking about when I talk about finding an appropriate balance between the environment, the economy, and their lives. We can get everything to work together, but we must make it balanced.
I am thankful for the opportunity to speak. I have more to say. I could probably have gone on another 10 minutes.