Mr. Speaker, I want to set the record straight right off the bat.
The mining industry provides good jobs, as does the oil industry. We are not talking about $15 or $12 an hour, but $30, $35 or even $40 an hour. There are people who like having good jobs.
Obviously setting up a mine or a refinery has its advantages. However, believe it or not, Canadians are a strange bunch: they know that there are two sides to every story. Although one side might be quite attractive, they still want to get a full picture of the other side. That is the problem here.
Right now, there are 350,000 jobs in Canada connected to natural resource development. These jobs come with a whole lot of benefits that we do not want to give up. However, since we are responsible, we would like to ensure that the proposed new operations do not pose problems. That is the issue here.
Rather than solving the problem, the government made it worse by trying to force things down people's throats. It is unbelievable. Today, every time anyone wants to build a mine or refinery, legal action is immediately taken. In the past, during a time that was less Conservative and more favourable to informed development, projects were discussed and changes were made, a process that took several years.
However, the Conservative government wants to get things done in a year, a year and a half or two years at most. Here are the results: the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario has been rejected; the pipelines in northern British Columbia have been rejected; the pipelines that cross Quebec have been rejected; and the uranium mines have been rejected—and I hope they always will be.
This does not take two or three years. Before, it took four or five. Now it takes 10 years because of the legal proceedings. The whole notion of the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario is at a standstill because of this great government. This shows that when you do not do things right, you do not necessarily get the results that you want.
Whenever something as big and invasive as a mine, a refinery or a major industrial facility is proposed, people should be consulted and should be able to participate throughout the decision-making process. My colleague who spoke earlier said that the government had done everything in its power to make these projects safe. I would like to hear her say that to the people of Lac-Mégantic.
In northern Ontario, there have been three derailments in less than two months. Is that what they call safety? They say they will make companies liable. Sure they will. An oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez, sank in Alaska. That was when Ronald Reagan was president. People paid a terrible price for that oil spill, so they asked for compensation. They are still waiting. The companies that made terrible messes in the Gulf of Guinea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Alaska are the same companies operating here in Canada.
Now the government is telling us that these companies that have behaved badly elsewhere will have to respect the environment and Canada's peoples. I am skeptical, because we sometimes have little problems, like the one in Lac-Mégantic.
It is extraordinary that the first person who appears after a disaster is not a someone from the company itself who arrives with a cheque in hand and says that the company will pay for everything. No, no. Instead, the company's lawyer appears and says that before the company will pay for anything, we must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the company is indeed guilty. They ask for help, they ask people to be understanding and, above all, they want to get out of paying anything and they want to shirk their responsibilities. This practice must stop.
Some projects must have a social licence. When a project does not havea social licence, it can get lost in the legal weeds and absolutely nothing happens. Sometimes, even great projects that create jobs might prompt people to say that progress is being made, but without a social licence, they do not work. One example I can think of is a uranium mine.
People are afraid, and they will continue to be afraid even if we give them the best arguments in the world. At some point we may just have to accept the fact that the people do not want a project.
The Conservatives have introduced their pipeline bill, and that has people worried. I can guarantee to the House that no one in Quebec is interested in seeing four inches of oil floating all over the St. Lawrence River.
Nonetheless, we can build refineries and secure the energy supply because certain aspects make this attractive. People are prepared to listen to what the Conservatives have to say, especially when they say that this type of project will bring in billions of dollars for the province and create an awful lot of jobs. People will listen closely, but they will also look at the other side of the coin and will have a say.
As for the people who have to live with a major industrial, mining or oil development project in their region, they are entitled to not only have a say, but also to be listened to and take part in the decision-making. If we dismiss them out of hand, then the whole process will go nowhere, and that is what is happening right now.
Many projects are not approved, from shale gas development in many municipalities to oil development in certain national parks. It is too bad, because some of these projects deserved to be better defended.
It is not true that people are short-sighted. It is not true that the NDP, and everyone for that matter, is automatically opposed to every mining project and that the first nations are starting a civil war. No, no. They are interested in having discussions and listening, especially if they get an attractive offer.
However, if the offer is not an attractive one and profits only one side, while the people assume all the risks, only the Conservatives are surprised that the people are not going to like this type of deal where they will always be the losers and the friends of those in power will be the winners.
It is vital that at some point the government finally decide to be Canadian for a day. Is it so horrible to ask that the government be Canadian from time to time? Unfortunately, the government does not often listen to us. However, we should not take it to heart.
The election is fast approaching and the good Canadian people may decide one day to give the boot to those who systematically defend interests that are not those of Canadians.