Mr. Speaker, members will hear from this side of the House just how tragic and pathetic this piece of proposed legislation really is.
It is interesting, because the Liberals think they have found a balance. The NDP oppose it for some reasons and we oppose it for others, but typically the reason for the opposition is that it just gives way too much power to the minister, and has way too little transparency and accountability. Not only is this proposed legislation dangerous, and I use that word deliberately, but it is also going to have a very real impact on a large number of people across this country, particularly those who live in areas dependent on resource development.
The Liberals had an opportunity to smooth out the environmental assessment process with this bill, but instead they chose to do the complete opposite. I think there is an intent here to destroy the credibility of the existing EA process in Canada, because the Liberals do not actually want to see resource development carried out. Our Prime Minister will say one thing in Alberta, and as we saw earlier this spring, go to France two days later and apologize for not getting rid of the energy industry soon enough. Therefore, I believe there is an agenda here to complicate this process and to make it basically unmanageable. Then the reality will be that it will not be possible to put in place resource projects across this country. Investors are already basically laughing at Canada and walking away. We saw an article yesterday saying that investors no longer even bother considering Canada as an option to invest in. Therefore, the Liberals are getting their way. The NDP members are getting their way.
The problem with these big government initiatives and socialism, and those of us who live in Saskatchewan understand it, is that it takes a while for the pain to actually begin. It does not happen right away. It is not immediate, but it is profound and long-lasting. The bill before us will have a profoundly long-lasting and negative impact on Canada and our economy.
The bill before us, Bill C-69, is called 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. The main thing it would do is to set up a new impact assessment agency of Canada, replacing some other agencies. That agency will then be the lead on all federal reviews of major projects and would be expected, I guess, to work with other bodies on that.
However, realistically, what will happen here, because of the many things that are being thrown into this mix of what will be called an environmental assessment reality, is that these projects will just not get done. It is interesting, because the bill would add a number of things that need to be considered in an environmental assessment, and things that go far beyond the environment, but it would basically give anyone who has an objection to a project the right to claim there would be some impact on them and that they have a legitimate reason to have the project stopped.
I will talk a little about the process that would take place, because I think when Canadians see it, they will start to understand how disingenuous the government has been with this bill.
If we want to apply for a project, we need to go through an environmental assessment on most things. The Liberals have set up the proposed legislation so that, supposedly, there will be a planning phase of up to a maximum 180 days. This could then go in a couple of directions. It could go to a joint panel, or it could go back to the assessment agency, and there would be some timelines. However, there are a variety of tracks available for it to follow. It could end up at a review panel. The agency itself would oversee the smaller projects and then would have a full review of the larger projects. After a while, when that is done, the agency or panel would submit a recommendation and the minister would have 30 days to approve or reject it.
Well, that sounds pretty straightforward, until we start to look at the actual processes involved in this, and I want to go through three possible tracks. I will probably use most of my time doing this, but it would just point out to Canadians how bizarre this gets and how much interference the minister can play, as the NDP just pointed that out with their last questions.
The minister basically has authority at all levels over these things. The minister can make things go ahead or stop dead, and they can stay stopped if the minister and cabinet decide to do that.
First of all, I will talk about a decision that does not require a joint panel. It does not even require approval by cabinet. Under this proposed legislation, there would be a 180-day planning phase. This is something brand new that the government has thrown in here, which would already put a six-month delay or kind of stop on a project moving ahead. This could be extended by 90 days or it could be extended indefinitely by the minister if someone demanded that. There is no clarity around what that means.
Then there is a 300-day time limit for the impact assessment itself, almost a year, and no surprise, this can be extended by 90 days or indefinitely by cabinet. Timelines are thrown completely out. There is no certainty at all. Why would investors bother getting involved with something like this? And this is the simplest process of the few that are there.
Then there is a 30-day time limit after the minister and cabinet have already been involved at two different levels. It then comes to the minister and cabinet to make the decision. What kind of industry organization or business is going to come forward and put themselves through this when there is absolutely no certainty?
No surprise, that 30-day time limit can be extended by 90 days or it can be extended indefinitely. That is the simplest. A joint panel is not required. Approval by cabinet is not required. At all three levels of planning and working through the process, cabinet has authority to extend the deadline indefinitely or to whatever it chooses to extend it to. A joint panel is not required, and approval by cabinet is not required. Under Bill C-69 the total time should be about 570 days, almost a year and a half, but again, there are several opportunities to extend it.
It starts out again with that 180-day planning phase, which can be extended by 90 days or indefinitely by the minister or cabinet. Then there is a 300-day time limit for the impact assessment itself. The proponent has to get this all done in 300 days, considering all of the different factors that the government has thrown into Bill C-69, and this can be extended by 90 days or indefinitely by the minister or cabinet. Then there is a 90-day limit for cabinet to make a decision and again, this can be extended by 90 days or indefinitely by cabinet.
Those are two tracks.
The third one is a decision that requires a joint panel with a cabinet decision. The time frame on this one is set at 835 days, well over two years, with at least one opportunity to extend it. There are 10 days to start a 45-day screening process, once the decision has been made that this has to go through a joint panel. Then there is 60 days from notice to referring the assessment to the panel. Then there is 24 months from the referral when a decision statement must be issued. This can be extended 90 days by the minister, or indefinitely by cabinet. That actually was the case in the past under the CEAA 2012 method, but under Bill C-69 it would go from that 800 days to 915 days, and there are six opportunities in the bill to extend it.
So there is a 180-day planning phase and a 45-day window for the minister to refer an assessment to a panel, and there is no timeline for establishing a panel at all. The panel has to submit a report to the minister within 600 days, another two years down the road, and this can be extended by the minister until anything the panel prescribes is completed, or by 90 days. Cabinet an extend it indefinitely again, and then there is another 90-day timeline for cabinet.
This assessment process that the government has thrown into the bill is basically a game. It is a game that cabinet can play with anybody who wants to apply for a project in Canada.
It is no surprise as I mentioned before that people are looking at other places to invest. They are investing in other countries. The Americans right now are making it very clear that they want to become the world's largest energy producer and exporter. They are eating our lunch right now. They are doing things: they are lowering taxes; they are easing the regulatory burden on people; and they are not imposing a massive carbon tax that will raise the price of everything. It is no surprise that money is moving out of Canada and into the United States.
The latest version of that is the Liberal government's decision to pay $5 billion to a Texas-based company to buy a used pipeline, which is going to take another $8 billion to $10 billion at least, and probably more knowing this government is involved. That money will be given to this project when the proponent initially did not ask for any money.
It is unfortunate that the Liberals do not keep their promises. This is one more that has been broken. They have not fulfilled their commitments. This entire piece of legislation is just meant to hamper the industry's capacity to be able to do resource development in this country. I am sorry it has even come forward. I wish it were set aside. If this legislation is passed, it will not be a good thing for this country.