Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona for her question and her position on this very important issue.
As a government, we have clearly indicated that we will hold companies responsible for their pollution. That is why I am so pleased to have the opportunity to reiterate our government's position today. That is why we enshrined the polluter pays principle by passing the Pipeline Safety Act. That is why we insisted that companies show that they have the financial capacity to respond in the event of a spill. That is why that act provides for no-fault liability. The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed and clarified this approach.
At the same time, the ruling highlights the complexity of this issue, including the intersection between provincial jurisdiction over natural resources and their federal responsibilities under Canada's bankruptcy laws.
We are mindful that this is not a black and white issue. No company should have a licence to pollute or to walk away from its responsibilities under the cover of bankruptcy. On the other hand, we understand that a requirement to prioritize remediation ahead of repaying secured creditors could affect the willingness of banks and other creditors to lend, thereby making it more difficult to finance projects, create jobs and drive economic growth.
What is more, a requirement to remediate could affect the value of banks and creditor companies in which millions of Canadians have a stake through their mutual funds and various retirement investments.
These challenges were reflected in two lower court rulings that held that secured creditors should be paid before the company foot the bill for cleaning up its orphaned wells.
It took a full year for the Supreme Court to deliver its ruling on the matter and, in the end, it too was divided, by a count of five to two, with Chief Justice Richard Wagner writing the majority's decision to overturn the two lower court rulings.
Our government is reviewing the decision with the understanding that economic prosperity and environmental protections go hand in hand, and that each makes the other possible. Our government understands how important the energy sector is, which is why we have taken such strong measures to help keep our oil and gas sector competitive, to improve its sustainability and to empower it. This helps create the jobs we need and, at the same time, protect the environment we love so much. We will continue to work with the provinces to ensure that the companies developing Canada's natural resources also have the tools they need to respond in the event of an incident.