Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-68.
I will begin by thanking the member for Prince Albert for the important points he made to this debate. I find it disappointing that science is being ignored, and the member for Prince Albert reminded us of the importance of respecting science. Rhetoric and false statements being made in the House to make a point really discredits that party, that individual, when they make false statements.
Regarding Kinder Morgan, the member for Prince Albert reminded us that the decisions need to be based on science and not on protesting, making outrageous statements, and carrying out illegal activities. As members of Parliament in Canada, we have to look at what is good for the country. What do we need to do? The Liberal government decided that energy east was a no-go. It ignored the science and made a political decision that energy east was a no-go, that Ontario and Quebec, the eastern part of this country, will have to continue to import oil from the Middle East. It will have to be tanked up the east coast and brought into Canada from a foreign entity.
Canada could be self-sufficient if we had energy east. We could ship our oil out of Canada if we had the infrastructure. Right now what we are hearing from the science base is that we move our oil and gas. We leave it in the ground, which means we destroy the standard of living that Canadians enjoy, or we move it by tanker or train, but we are not going to move it the safest way, which is with pipelines. It is bizarre. It is unscientific. It makes no sense when I talk to Canadians. Again, the member Prince Albert reminded us of the importance of respecting science.
I want to give a little history lesson on how we ended up dealing with Bill C-68.
I will go back to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, CEPA. It is a piece of legislation that a lot of regulations for environmental protection was based on. It passed in 1999, the prime minister was Jean Chrétien, and it came into force in 2000. CEPA needed to be reviewed every five years, which is very common with legislation. It came into effect in 2000, and the five-year review would have been in 2005.
Who was the prime minister in 2005? That was Paul Martin. Jean Chrétien's government went from 1993 to December 2003, and in 2003, Paul Martin took over. There was an election in 2004. I was elected in 2004.
I have served my community for 14 years in local government on city council. However, we had trouble even cleaning and maintaining the ditching system so that we would not have flooding, as that was constantly restricted. We heard from not only the local government that I served on but from farmers, and right across the country. Things were not working. Therefore, I was quite excited when I was elected in 2004 and expressed a strong interest in making sure that on the problems we had in the country we could always do better. We can learn from what is not working. Local governments and farmers need to be able to maintain proper drainage systems; otherwise, they plug up. That was very important.
I was really excited in 2006 when there was another election and Paul Martin was no longer the prime minister. Stephen Harper became the prime minister in 2006. I was honoured to be asked to be the parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment. One of the first things we did was realize that the legislative requirement to deal with CEPA should have been done no later than 2005. It was now 2006.
The past Conservative government kept its promises. It did what was required for good governance. It served Canadians extremely well. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act review was overdue. We began with that and we spent a couple of years of consultation, hearing from Canadians about what needed to be changed. We heard that over and over again. That consultation included experts, scientists, and indigenous peoples. We did not rush it. We got it right. From that we made a lot of changes.
In the discussion that we have heard here, not science-based but rhetoric, where we have the NDP saying that the changes that were made hurt salmon. That is not true. We have heard from the Liberals that the previous government gutted protections without consultation. That is not true. Hansard will support that there were years of consultation to get it right. That is not what we see from the Liberal government where they ram things through using time allocation: “We have heard enough. We have heard from the witnesses who we chose and we wanted to hear from, so now that we have heard what we wanted to hear, we want to move this through.” That is not in the interests of Canada, and it not science-based.
The Liberals have said that they want to restore the lost habitat protection. However, that is not what happened. There were improvements so that the drainage systems across the country could be maintained. People were not being fined. We were being realistic. Yes, we do need to protect our waters. We need to do that.
Those are the changes that were made by the previous government. Now what we have in Bill C-68 is again the rhetoric or statements that are not based on science. The end result will be layers of regulatory uncertainty.
There were over 50 witnesses that came to the committee. Not one of the witnesses could identify any harm that had been done by the previous government. Actually, the committee heard about the good that had happened. There was not one witness who could show by science any support for Bill C-68 and the need for any of the amendments and changes in Bill C-68.
There were over 50 witnesses. One of the witnesses came from the Canadian Electricity Association. With the changes of CEPA, which I spoke of a moment ago, we heard from electricity producers. They said that one of their challenges is that if they put fish into the streams and restock the streams, the habitats change. They want to improve the habitat to make it better and healthier. However, if they hurt any fish by having all of these new fish introduced into the streams and lakes, they will be held responsible for an existing structure. They said if we could provide freedom for them to make those changes, they wanted to do that. It is good for the environment, just like farmers wanting to make things better, so as long as they were not going to be hurt by doing that, they would like to be able to make those changes. That was one of the changes that was made.
Now what the Liberals are saying will restore lost habitats actually will have the opposite effect. That is what the Canadian Electricity Association said, that Bill C-68 represents one step forward but two steps back. Bill C-68 is a missed opportunity for the federal government to anchor the Fisheries Act in a reasonable population-based approach, rather than focused on individual fish, and to clearly identify fisheries management objectives.
What is being proposed creates uncertainty. It puts farmers at risk and it puts infrastructure at risk. What it does, though, is that it keeps a political promise made by the government. That is why we are not hearing science-based information. Rather, we are hearing rhetoric. It is really sad.
It was in 2005, just before there was a change in government, there was a report from the commissioner of the environment. It stated, “When it comes to protecting the environment, bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground”. That is happening again, and that is not in the interests of Canada.