House of Commons Hansard #415 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was area.

Topics

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the things this government has done, unlike others in the past, is put in place a new ministry, the ministry of intergovernmental affairs. That ministry is there to ensure that when we have issues or projects being considered, cross-ministerial communication is going to happen. As the member will know, there are many issues we deal with that affect other bills, other ministries and future projects or current projects that might be under way. When these situations present themselves, we look forward to the minister of intergovernmental affairs and his great staff facilitating that communication and discussion so that the decisions that are being made will be consistent with the ultimate priorities of this government.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Independent

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Independent Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his speech. He certainly is a great representative for his riding.

As the member knows, Canada represents a number of small islands in the Caribbean on a number of international multilateral bodies. As everyone knows, I am from Grenada. When we are talking about oceans and protecting our oceans, we all know that the Caribbean wants to be one of the first regions in the world to be climate resilient.

I wonder if the member can tell us how this piece of legislation would lend to Canada's credibility as a leader in the international community with respect to protecting our oceans, and more broadly, as a leader on climate change.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a great point. The world does need more Canada. When we look at a lot of the issues and initiatives we have embarked upon, especially in the last three years, we have shown great leadership with respect to those very issues. Let us face it; we have oceans that extend past our boundaries. That said, the issues attached to those oceans cross jurisdictional lines. We look forward to protections for not only our oceans within this great nation. There is an expectation that through that leadership, they will go beyond our jurisdiction and be consistent not just in our area but also internationally.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the theme raised by the member for Whitby. Canada recently co-hosted a conference in Nairobi, Kenya, on the sustainable blue economy. This is something that requires international co-operation and collaboration. It really is an opportunity for Canada to lead.

I know the member for Niagara Centre is a very active supporter of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. There is probably no better poster boy for the economy and the environment going hand in hand with respect to marine matters than the member for Niagara Centre. I wonder if he could speak a bit about his work with the marine chamber and its relationship to a blue economy and the health of our oceans, which are all part and parcel of what we are debating here today.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2019 / 6 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a great point. Not only are we leaders internationally with respect to our responsibilities when it comes to the environment, our oceans and our great lakes, but we cannot do it alone. We have to be in this together. Our marine industry, being the obvious front-of-mind participant in action like this, has been very responsible. The Chamber of Marine Commerce and the companies it represents are equally important. Initiatives such as Green Marine and other initiatives have contributed to our overall ability to have these policies and bills, like Bill C-55, put in place here in the House and put into practice.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, I always find it rich when Liberals brag about their environmental record, especially since shortly after they took office they allowed the former mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, to dump millions of litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence, after our government had prevented him from doing that.

I have a specific question related to the Great Lakes water quality, a topic I am interested in. We did a study of it in the environment committee back when we were in government. Right now, there are some serious water quality issues in the Great Lakes, specifically the eutrophication of Lake Erie, which is spreading.

We have largely solved the problem of point source pollution through our waste-water treatment plants and so on. Could the hon. member comment on how he would deal with non-point source pollution, basically the runoff from cities and towns that is putting phosphorous into our lakes, especially the Great Lakes, at a fast rate?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, do I have an hour?

That is the whole point and strategy of many investments we are making as a government in partnership with municipal governments. Because of my former life as a mayor, I understand how much financial burden is being placed on property taxpayers, as well as water and waste water ratepayers. On a yearly basis, every annual budget sees increases, especially in capital fixed costs.

One of the main reasons we are bringing carbon pricing forward is that when we look at carbon-related costs currently caused by climate change, the financial burden ends up on the property taxpayer or the water and waste water ratepayer. By bringing in carbon pricing, that download, especially by provincial governments, such as the case right now in Ontario, will no longer exist. The money is going back to those very ratepayers and taxpayers, to allow municipalities to put the infrastructure in the ground, through contributions we are making at this level of government. This allows them to put bigger pipes in the ground to deal with a five-year storm that once was a 100-year storm and to ensure that we have combined sewer overflows and the investments to put in place the infrastructure that would eliminate sewer overflows, as well as stormwater that is not being treated, such as runoff, as the member mentioned.

This government is looking for mechanisms today, which are primarily financial, to offset the financial burden on the property taxpayer and the water and waste water ratepayer through our infrastructure programs and carbon pricing, to bring that money back to those very same taxpayers and ratepayers, and in fact to get that infrastructure in the ground to eliminate those challenges.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today on behalf of the fine people of Red Deer—Lacombe, in central Alberta, to talk again about this legislation, one which the Senate sent back to the House because it saw the same flaws in it that the opposition did.

The bill was passed at third reading by the Liberal majority government in an expeditious way as an attempt to fulfill its political objectives, without giving due consideration to the impacts the bill would have on the people of Canada, notwithstanding that it is about marine protected areas.

I do not think any reasonable Canadian would think that having marine protected areas is a bad idea. In fact, the previous Conservative government created many marine protected areas in fresh water and in our oceans. The current government has an ambitious plan to set aside 10% of our marine areas for protection by 2020.

The fisheries committee, of which I am a member, travelled across the country to talk to various stakeholders and groups about what that would actually look like. We heard loudly and clearly from aboriginal groups, particularly from those in coastal communities that rely on the ocean or the sea for their way of life, about their concern that marine protected areas would interfere with or infringe upon their lifestyles. The Inuit of the north want to have access to various estuaries for beluga harvesting or fishing. The coastal communities rely on shipping and marine traffic. The indigenous communities rely on salmon, halibut, clams and so on, not only for their personal use but also for the socio-economic interests that exist within their various bands.

In its wisdom, the Senate has basically found that Bill C-55 does not do a very good job of addressing the concerns of some of these communities. In fact, Senator Patterson, who is from the Nunavut territory, wanted to amend clause 5 of the bill to enhance consultation and co-operation measures. Even the government touts itself as one that wants to ensure the consultative process is done. However, the Senate, which is now dominated by members appointed by the Prime Minister, has sided with Senator Patterson, saying the bill needs to go back to have that clause reviewed.

Some people in my home province of Alberta may be asking why a guy from Alberta is so focused on fisheries, particularly on the west coast. They may wonder why a guy from central Alberta, who is also a farm boy, is always talking about fish and salmon. It just happens to be something I know a little bit about. I also understand that standing in between the economic prosperity of the people I represent in central Alberta and their future is the ability to ship energy products off Canada's Pacific coast.

Nobody back home in my riding actually believes that the current government has Alberta's best interests at heart. That is why traditionally, after the prime minister with the same last name as the current Prime Minister was elected, the Liberal brand, especially at the provincial level, is virtually a non-starter in Alberta. Why?

For people with a short memory or who have not learned their history very well, it is because people realized that brand and name just meant economic chaos. Whether through the National Energy Board program that was implemented some 40 years ago or the programs that are being implemented now, nobody back in Alberta believes that the marine protected area measures in Bill C-55 will not be used as a political sledgehammer to further restrict Alberta's ability to export its natural resource products off the coast, and this is why.

First and foremost, the current government, even though it tries to say otherwise, does not like fossil fuels. The Prime Minister has been very clear, through slips of the tongue, that the oil sands need to be phased out and stopped. He said as much. He said in response to questions about the carbon tax that the increasing cost of energy and the increasing cost of fuel for Canadians is what we want. When I say “we want”, I am using the Prime Minister's words. It is what the Prime Minister thinks Canadians actually want.

Right now we have a situation in British Columbia in which the Premier of British Columbia is basically threatening to block the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, yet at the same time threatening to sue the Government of Alberta if it chooses to shut off the existing Trans Mountain pipeline's delivery of oil. We find ourselves in this really bizarre world here in Canada, where nobody actually believes that anybody in the Liberal Party or the NDP wants to allow any more pipelines built to our west coast.

We have the carbon tax. We have had the regulatory changes. We have had the outright cancelling of the northern gateway pipeline by Enbridge and the changing of the regulatory process for energy east. The very first thing that the Liberal government published in November 2015 was changes that it made to the consultation process on pipelines, further delaying the Trans Mountain expansion and energy east and killing outright the northern gateway pipeline.

Everybody in the sector calls Bill C-69 the no-more-pipelines bill. This legislation is designed specifically and purposely to ensure that no more oil pipelines will be built in Canada, thereby trapping Alberta, Saskatchewan or all of Canada's energy in the North American marketplace. We sell that crude oil at a discount in the North American marketplace. Then it gets refined and shipped back to us at full price, and Canadians have to pick up the tab.

We have seen the proposed tanker ban legislation, Bill C-48, on the west coast. Interestingly enough, the government, which claims to care so much about the marine environment, did not put a tanker ban on the east coast to forbid tankers from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and elsewhere from bringing energy to the eastern shores of Canada, even though eastern Canadians would much prefer to buy oil that was taken from the ground here in Canada and refined here in Canada for the use of all Canadians and for the economic benefit of everybody.

It would not be a stretch in any way, shape or form to believe that the current sitting Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, or any version thereof that the Liberal government has had sitting in that seat, would use Bill C-55.

I have no reason as an Albertan to believe anything other than that marine protected areas will be specifically designated and set up in areas not based on science or not based on where the marine protected area could do the most good for the preservation of species or the preservation of unique habitat or ecosystems, but instead in specifically designated areas to block the kinds of industrial activity that the government does not favour, notwithstanding that there is a tanker ban already in place through Bill C-48.

People back home need to understand that in the creation of a national park, there is normally a long and arduous process. A consultative process takes place, as well as a gazetting process through the National Parks Act, usually in the form of a willing seller and willing buyer. When national parks are purchased or require land that is already privately held, going through that process would be a requirement. The annexation part did not work out too well for the previous prime minister of Liberal persuasion when he tried that in Atlantic Canada, so here we find ourselves using Crown land in the north, which is where most Crown land is. Anytime a new national park is created, it is created on Crown land, but oceans are owned by nobody. They are actually owned by Her Majesty the Queen. They are owned by the Crown in right of the people of Canada.

The minister, through Bill C-55 should it pass in its current form, will have the ability to designate a marine protected area wherever he or she sees fit. There is no legislative requirement at all for the minister to use best science. There is no legislative requirement at all for that process to be gazetted, not one.

This is the most powerful piece of legislation that I have seen that gives the minister the outright ability to take up to 10%—because the government is saying that is the target—of our oceans and close them down in full or part, however the minister sees fit. That means that he or she can designate a marine protected area that is completely closed from all activity, right from the sunlit zone at the top of the water, all the way through the pelagic zone to the littoral zone at the bottom, if there is enough sunlight there to create that, or even down into the benthos or the layer at the bottom of the ocean floor, and cease and desist all activity.

The minister could make any list of exemptions that he or she wants in order to accommodate whatever political agenda they have. They could deny fishing, trawling, tanker traffic or specific tanker traffic. They could simply say, just as Bill C-48 does, that ships will be allowed through as long as the ship does not contain products x, y or z. There is no ability in this legislation at all for any recourse whatsoever.

I would bet anybody with a crisp $10 bill who wants to take me up on it—maybe this is dangerous because I am not a gambler—that marine protected areas in the first tranche, once this legislation comes to pass, will be set up at the Dixon Entrance and the Hecate Strait, outside of Prince Rupert, to make darn sure that, if Bill C-48 fails, not a single tanker will be allowed out of that area—the Prince Rupert-Kitimat area—carrying any type of crude oil or any of its byproducts or any of its refined products.

Anybody who does not think that is going to happen is dreaming. We will have no justification or rationale printed in any Gazette for why the minister is choosing to do this, because they are not obligated to under the legislation. That is why the Senate has coughed this bill back up and sent it back to this place. I do not expect the government to actually take any of these amendments seriously. I expect we will probably get time allocation. I know that the government has already sent a note back to the Senate on this piece of legislation.

I actually do not expect the government to accept any of these recommendations. I do not expect the government to take any amendments on this legislation that would limit the heavy-handed unilateral ability of the minister to basically outline or delineate anywhere he or she sees fit to accomplish the Liberal political agenda. That is what I find most egregious and most frustrating with this piece of legislation.

The minister will have the ability, once Bill C-55 passes, to designate whether certain tanker traffic is allowed, or any products, or if any tanker traffic is allowed at all. The minister will be allowed to decide whether any commercial fishing would happen in that area. The minister would be allowed to determine whether any sport fishing or recreational fishing would be allowed to happen in that particular area, and set any terms and conditions for it. The minister already has that ability to regulate fisheries through the Fisheries Act, but this is something they are going to have the ability to do even further through the marine protected area legislation, which is what Bill C-55 is all about.

The government will also have the unilateral ability—and I am assuming this will get challenged almost immediately—to actually decide what the indigenous peoples of this country will be able to do in those marine protected areas. I do not expect the government to actually put too many restrictions on them, but it may. I would be curious to see how those actually stand up to a test.

It is very frustrating, because the talking points coming from the government will make it sound as though this is a great idea. Of course, Canadians, who think with their hearts—as many Canadians do, and it is okay to think with the heart from time time—are going to say that 10% of our marine area is going to be protected and that is fantastic. However, here is the rub. There is no actual scientific requirement or any requirement in the legislation at all that is going to require the minister of fisheries and oceans to follow any rules or obligations in the establishment of a marine protected area.

I will give an example of what happens on the terrestrial side of the equation. Years ago, when I was taking my zoology degree at the University of Alberta, the numbers floated and bandied around back then—and that was almost 30 years ago—were 12.5%, 75% and 12.5%, and I mentioned this in my earlier speech. It was that 12.5% of the terrestrial land mass should be set aside for complete preservation or in a national park-like structure, with very little use, very little activity.

This land is designated in a preservation classification type of area. Of course, that also needs to be representative of the various biozones that we have, in order to get the approval of the United Nations and all the other agencies that watch these things. It could not all be, for example, in the Arctic. We would have to represent things like grasslands, which is why we have the creation of Grasslands National Park, which is still ongoing. We would have to represent all of that area in order to protect a representative sample of all the various ecosystems and habitats in the country.

It was decided a long time ago that 75% of the land mass would be classified as common use, areas where conservation management practices actually come into play to manage the environmental considerations that we have. Another 12.5% was set aside as complete use, things that are paved over, under concrete, cities, roads, highways, industrial areas, things of that nature, where these kinds of human activities need to happen in order to benefit and improve the quality of life of all people, not only in Canada but around the world. It was 12.5%, 75% and 12.5%.

Now we see that shift on the terrestrial environment, moving forward, but here is the rub. Any time somebody wants to grow that 12.5% of the preserved land area, that person has to take that land from that particular area. We just saw how badly this backfired for Rachel Notley in Alberta, when she tried to take some of the land that is classified in the public land use zone, the 75% of conservation and well-managed land and terrestrial areas. To put that space in the preservation pot, a person has to take it from the 75%, which is everybody who lives and makes a living in small rural areas across our country. It is very seldom that anybody in an urban area has to pay a price or a consequence for the development of a preservation boundary inside his or her jurisdiction, very seldom.

The same thing is going to happen in these marine protected areas. It is not going to cost anything for people who do not venture out onto the ocean, because it is not going to impact their lives. However, all those who live in small, rural, coastal communities or make a living by going out onto the water will now have to contend with arbitrary delineations of marine protected areas and make sure they follow whatever rules and conditions the minister has made. The minister, according to this legislation, can make any rules he or she sees fit. It is limitless. It does not have to be gazetted and it does not need the approval of anybody, other than a ministerial order. It does not even need the approval of the Governor in Council. It does not even need the approval of his or her cabinet colleagues.

The minister can simply sign a ministerial order and declare an area as a marine protected area. That is unwieldy power, especially when we are talking about 10% of the surface area on down, right through the water column to the bottom of the sea, the ocean, the lake, the river or whatever it happens to be. That is under the care and control of just one decision-maker in this country. That is a lot of power. It is power that our friends in the Senate have said should be reconsidered, and that is why they sent this piece of legislation back here.

I truly hope that this House takes a serious look at this legislation. I know the government is running out of time in its legislative agenda, but I sure hope that common sense will prevail, that the right thing will be done and that these amendments from the Senate will be given due consideration and every opportunity to be re-examined and studied, and not only by this chamber. I would love to see this bill go back to the committee so it can look at some of the work the Senate committee did, so that we, as the elected representatives of the people of Canada, have a better understanding as to exactly what the impacts of the bill would be.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is dead wrong. This piece of legislation would give the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard the power to freeze the footprint, so all of the activities going on in an area the day before he makes the order are allowed to continue the day after. For the member to say that the minister can, with a wave of a pen for some political motive, wipe out all activity anywhere he wants to draw a circle is dead wrong. When he says there is no requirement for gazetting, he is dead wrong. Once an interim order is put in place, the Canada Gazette process kicks in.

None of what the member said is true, and it is absolutely offensive that it is allowed to occur in this place. I would urge the member to read the legislation.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I did read the legislation. There was one reference when it came to the gazetting, and it had nothing to do with the establishment of the marine protected areas. Maybe the parliamentary secretary ought to go back and discuss this with the minister and talk to some of his cabinet colleagues. It is exactly how the legislation currently reads.

The member did mention the order that the minister could sign. He basically confirmed through his comments that the minister had the ability to issue an order delineating a marine protected area wherever he or she saw fit. That is the beginning of the process and the minister has, through the legislation, the ability to set out whatever terms and conditions he or she sees fit in order to curb, curtail, allow or disallow any activity that he or she sees fit.

I will reiterate. I look forward to seeing the marine protected areas delineated in the Hecate Strait and in the Dixon Entrance. I very much look forward to making the member recant his words when I see the terms and conditions on those marine protected areas that will not allow tankers through if they have any crude oil on them.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Gudie Hutchings Liberal Long Range Mountains, NL

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way and I share some beliefs in the outdoors, and I appreciate his comments.

However, Canada has over 243,000 kilometres of coastline. Our government in the last four years has gone from protecting just under 1% to over 9%. I wonder why, in the previous years when his party formed government, the Conservatives did not see this as an area of concern.

Canada is a world leader in conservation and environment. I wonder what his comment is on why the Conservative government did nothing during the 10 years prior.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, the previous government had the national conservation plan, otherwise known as the NCP, with $250 million over a number of years to establish a lot of protected areas throughout Canada without using this ham-fisted approach that the current government is using through this proposed legislative process. Included in the protected areas were the Musquash Estuary in New Brunswick, the Bowie Seamount off the coast of British Columbia and the Tarium Niryutait in the Beaufort Sea. These are just a handful of the ones that were done. There was also the one by Thunder Bay and Lake Superior.

My hon. colleague was not here during any of the time that Stephen Harper was the prime minister of Canada. I encourage her to check her facts before she gets up on her feet again.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was very interested in the speech by my colleague for Red Deer—Lacombe, especially when he talked about the effect of marine protected areas on Alberta. One would think there would not be a connection there, but my colleague very eloquently made that.

We talk about the marine protected areas, we talk about the tanker ban, we talk about the no pipeline Bill C-69 and, of course, the potentially new Fisheries Act, Bill C-68. It is just a litany of daggers aimed at the energy industry in Canada.

I know the member comes from an energy-producing area of Alberta. Could he talk about the effect of these pieces of legislation on the energy economy in his area and in Alberta?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, my only hope is that the members opposite, through their collective wisdom, would know as much about the ecology and science as my friend for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa has forgotten over the years. However, I digress.

The member's point is very well made. There have been over $100 billion in capital flight in projects. There has basically been nothing on the books in Alberta now for the better part of four years. The combined Notley arrangement with the current Prime Minister, that friendship they had, resulted in the promise that if we did all of these environmental things, such as the carbon tax and so on, we would get all kinds of projects.

The current government inherited three tidewater pipeline applications, which is three more than Stephen Harper inherited from the previous government by the way. We saw one of them cancelled outright. We saw one that had regulatory reforms put on it that were so onerous that the company not only withdrew its application for getting oil to the east coast, but it is actually changing the name of its company as a result. Of course, the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline was fumbled so bad that now every taxpayer in Canada is a shareholder of what used to be a private equity investment, creating tens of thousands of jobs across the country. I have no confidence in the government whatsoever that it will actually get it built.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, let us think about the wording of “lack of confidence”. On this issue before us, Canadians have a right to be concerned about the Stephen Harper era, and they should be. Canadians and people around the world are concerned about our coastlines, and Canada has the largest coastline in the world. When the idea was to bring marine protected areas up 10%, how did Stephen Harper and his majority measure up? They barely reached 5% in five years.

Since 2015, we have brought it up from 1% to 9%. I would suggest to the member that if anyone has his facts wrong or is misinformed or is not listening to what Canadians expect of government, it is the official opposition, which is still run by individuals like Stephen Harper today. Would the member recognize that the expectations that Canadians have today far exceed what Stephen Harper and Doug Ford have done?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I grew up on a farm. I fixed tractors, fences, automobiles and all manner of things on the farm, but to this day I am unable to fix stupid.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. I would ask the hon. member for Red Deer—Lacombe to refrain from those kinds of characterizations of other hon. members. I would ask him to consider withdrawing his remark.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I apologize unreservedly for the comment. My anger and frustration on behalf of the people that I represent got the better of me. This is not something that I normally have to do in this chamber. Thank you for calling me to order.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Independent

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Independent Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's apology. The member for Long Range Mountains is a valued member of the government and certainly a learned and proud member of her community. Her comments in terms of pushing the discourse around this important subject are critically important.

My question is about this piece of legislation and the leadership that the government has taken around protecting our marine environment. I am wondering what the member would say to his constituents who are avidly and fiercely concerned about our environment, in particular our waterways, when we see what is happening with orcas and marine diversity. What would he say to his constituents, who are happy about this piece of legislation being brought forward and happy to see Canada increasing those limits to protect more of our environment?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague would know that the southern resident killer whale occupies a broad range of habitat. Sometimes it is off the coast of Vancouver Island and sometimes it is off the coast of northern California. These cetaceans specifically target chinook salmon as their primary source of prey, but they have demonstrated that they will take other salmon species and anything else when the situation arises.

The problem with salmon is the salmon that are currently around Vancouver Island are likely out of the Columbia River, while some will be produced out of some of the local rivers as well. The issue is one of fisheries management ensuring that there are enough fish in the ocean not only for human consumption but for all of the wildlife that rely on it. A marine protected area is not required to achieve this goal. It requires appropriate fisheries management and fisheries enhancement and salmonid enhancement programming to ensure that there are enough fish not only for people but for wildlife.

A marine protected area will do nothing for the killer whales because they will move where the food is, and a marine protected area is just a delineated area on a map. I am sure the whales will not be checking where the line on the map is.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we resume debate and the hon. member for Miramichi—Grand Lakes, I will let him know there are about nine minutes remaining in the time for Government Orders this afternoon. We will get started, and I will give him the indication in the usual fashion.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Miramichi—Grand Lake.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Mr. Speaker, nearly two years after it was first introduced, I have the honour to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, a bill that has the support of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Before I get to the collaborative motion we are debating today, in response to the message received from the other place a little over a week ago, I would like to correct some inaccuracies that have come out in members' comments on this motion.

First, the member for Sherbrooke said that we have protected just 1.5% of our marine areas to date, that we missed our 2017 target and that, according to him, we are on track to miss our target of 10% in 2020. With all due respect, the member's figures are completely wrong. Perhaps he was talking about the former Conservative government's record. I assure the House that those figures do not apply to this government, and I would like to clarify the facts.

To date, under the direction of the current Liberal government, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and our Prime Minister, we have protected 8.27% of our marine and coastal areas, compared to only 1% under the previous Conservative government. In fact, before reaching 8.27%, we announced in October 2017 that we had reached the objective of 5%.

With respect to the environment and the protection of marine biodiversity, our government is implementing the measures Canadians want and expect. In spite of what the member for Sherbrooke said last week, we have effectively reached our objectives and we are on track to reach our 10% objective in 2020.

The member for Sherbrooke also stated that the current government's standards for marine protected areas were not very high. I would like to remind the House that last month, at the Nature Champions Summit in Montreal, the government and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard showed great leadership by announcing new standards for marine protected areas in order to strengthen conservation and the protection of important marine habitats.

The announcement means that marine protected areas will operate a bit like national parks and ensure a high level of protection of the environment by banning four industrial activities in these zones, namely oil and gas activities, mining, discharging, and bottom trawling. This approach is consistent with the recommendations of the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards.

In fact, Oceana, the main marine protection agency, said that this announcement of standards for marine protected areas is a great step forward and will help ensure appropriate protection for Canada's most important marine areas; that marine protected areas meeting these standards will help protect fragile habitats that provide nursery, spawning and feeding areas for marine wildlife from harmful practices such as oil and gas activities and bottom-contact gear; that it is also a critical step toward rebuilding abundance and restoring our oceans to health, which will benefit coastal communities for generations to come.

The day the announcement was made, Megan Leslie, former NDP member, tweeted the “announcement by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on new standards for marine protection: no oil and gas, no mining, no bottom trawling.” She said she was at a bit of a loss for words. The tweet ended with emoijs of applause, trophies, and celebration.

The government's achievements in marine environmental protection really do deserve to be celebrated and applauded. The government is committed to protecting the environment, and that is just what this motion and bill are meant to do.

Now that I have corrected certain inaccurate statements made during last week's debate, I would like to talk about this motion on the Senate amendment.

The message we received from the other place just over a week ago contains one duplicative amendment. If adopted, it would make the interim protection process more complex and costly than the process of designating a permanent marine protected area.

That would go against the purpose of the bill, which is to provide protection to our marine areas more quickly while ensuring that exhaustive consultations continue. However, the government is also listening. We understand the concerns of the honourable senators in the other place, and we agree that the provincial and territorial governments, as well as the communities that will be most affected by an interim or permanent order concerning a marine protected area, should always be consulted and be part of the process.

That is why we proposed an amendment to the Senate amendment that takes the concerns that have been raised into consideration. First, the amendment requires the minister, when making an interim protection order, to publish a report indicating the geographic location and any other relevant information, including social, cultural and economic information.

The amendment goes even further. As we have always said regarding the duplicative Senate amendment on consultations, since consultations are already explicitly required and covered by sections 29 to 33 of the Oceans Act, the minister would also be required to publish information on past consultations.

The government has listened, and we know we can move forward in the right way with this bill and the proposed amendment.

The purpose of this bill is simply to provide another tool to protect marine environments by creating a mechanism that will enable the minister to freeze the footprint of activities currently under way in an area until a definitive designation is revoked or until it receives a permanent marine protected area designation.

On average, it takes between seven and 10 years to establish a marine protected area. All this bill would do is temporarily protect an area until permanent designation can be obtained, which is something Canadians support. Considering the important aspects of marine environments that need protecting and the fact that it takes between seven and 10 years to establish a marine protected area, if we want to ensure long-term protection for an area, we need to adopt this bill. This common-sense measure establishes certain protection standards until such time as an area is designated.

I would add that this bill has been before both houses for nearly two years now. The House committee alone met nine times to discuss it and heard from 36 witnesses representing a broad range of important interest groups.

Earlier I talked about last month's announcement by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard about new standards for marine protected areas and the support we have received on this issue not only here at home but around the world. Clearly, there is now tremendous support for protecting our oceans, so what are we waiting for? Let's adopt this bill and protect our oceans for our children and grandchildren.

I live near the coast, and we are already seeing major changes happening very fast. Over the past four or five years, the Gulf of St. Lawrence has warmed up faster than any other marine environment on the planet. We must act now to save species and the environment.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 6:45 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the consideration of the Senate amendments to the bill now before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.