Mr. Speaker, before I got into politics I was one of the founding members of the Conseil de bassins versants de la région de Vaudreuil-Soulanges. This organization was responsible for coming up with a master plan for water in my region.
For anyone who is not familiar with the concept of watersheds, this term refers to the entire area drained by a main stream and its tributaries. It is delineated by its upstream and downstream boundaries. All waterways are connected to one major waterway.
I mentioned watersheds because the watershed area is responsible for the quality of our water, which depends on the health of a watershed. Water is the most important resource.
That is one reason why I decided to run in the 2011 election and to join Jack Layton's team on the NDP, a progressive party that supports the right to live in a healthy and sustainable environment.
That is because seven generations from now our successes will be measured not in terms of GDP, economic growth, oil consumed or produced, or the consumption of a nation; no, our successes will be measured in terms of how well we have done in terms of keeping the ecological balance.
Our resources must be developed sustainably. A polluter-pay model needs to be put in place. We need to move away from our over-reliance on fossil fuels. The NDP vision is that economic growth and job creation go hand in hand with social and environmental sustainability
My riding is downstream from here on the Ottawa River. Here, upstream, the government is making decisions that are troubling the people in my region. They are concerned and rightly so. My region is the country's transportation hub. The Canadian National Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, Enbridge's line 9 and the TransCanada pipeline all pass through Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
For 16 years, line 9B did not meet safety standards. This problem was ignored by a Liberal MP and a Bloc MP. It was only when the people of my riding elected an NDP member that they discovered that there was a problem with line 9B. I raised this problem at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources after reading an article on the subject.
Canadians want better inspections, appropriate regulations and enforced standards. Public safety and environmental protection must be priorities for any government. The Conservatives are lagging behind. The Liberals had 13 years to solve the problem, but they did nothing. The risks are too great.
Liberals and Conservatives, for instance, now support the Keystone XL project.
I talked with David Suzuki in 2011 and I told him that Canadians worry a lot about pipelines. I asked him what the biggest thing that Canadians should worry about is. He said that we often worry about these big spills we see or about trains derailing. He said that the major problem with pipelines is pinhole leaks. One of the Conservative members mentioned the technology. Certainly there have been advances in technology, but 2% of those pinhole leaks still are not detectable by the instruments that are in Keystone. This means that because of the corrosion in a pipeline and a pinhole leak, oil could leak out without being detected for days or months. It could contaminate the water table, and we would not know it because we would not be able to detect it.
The other question we have to ask is this. Yes, with new pipeline construction we are looking at this new engineering to detect pinhole leaks. What about all the other pipeline infrastructure? Are we saying that we will implement the same safety instruments through all the pipelines across North America? It is a good question to ask, because if one pipeline implements it, should we not implement it in all pipelines? Should we not update all the infrastructure? These are questions I have and that the citizens I represent have.
Energy policy in this country for years has been managed by successive Liberal and Conservative administrations. They have lit so many fires it will be hard too put them all out, all these problems, all this negligence that has gone on over the years. Just opening the paper in a given week we can find five different energy projects that might be going on that have problems that are not being addressed.
Let us look at the seismic testing in the Clyde River. There are problems with the narwhals. The company exploring for oil wants to use seismic testing, which is basically making explosions in the water in habitat where narwhals are. This is going to court in Toronto. The mayor of Clyde River has an injunction against the testing.
We see this again and again.
We also saw this with the St. Lawrence belugas. It is the same thing.
Several fires have been ignited. It is up to us to identify all of the problems and propose solutions.
There has to be greater consultation with communities and with first nations.
First nations activist Chickadee Richard, from Winnipeg, says,
As indigenous people, we still use the lands. We still gather; we still hunt; we still use the forests and the waters. So, what this pipeline would do to us, we may never recover. It's in a crisis mode right now and we all have a responsibility to future generations.
She is a part of a greater coalition in Winnipeg hoping to broaden the scope of National Energy Board consultations. Another member of this coalition, Mary Robinson, of the Council of Canadians, Winnipeg chapter says, “Without...listening to people’s voices, any review of the pipeline will be incomplete and illegitimate".
These are voices of one part of Canada. I bring them up because I hear the same things in my region, and I have heard the same things from other members in this House. Citizens in their ridings have the same preoccupation. These things keep coming up, and we have to address these problems.
Although I am happy to see that there is a bill addressing this, I do not think it goes far enough, and I do not think it answers all the questions and worries citizens might have in my riding and in other ridings.
There is no doubt that we have a wealth of natural resources in this country, and I would not be one to say that we should not use those resources. They are there to be used. We are really blessed with them. They are a blessing to this country, but we have to approach the exploration and the development of these resources in a different way. We have had 40 or 50 years of irresponsible management of these resources by successive Liberal and Conservative administrations.
The NDP's vision is based on three principles. The first is sustainability. We want to ensure that a polluter pays model is in place so that polluters pay for any spills and for the resulting pollution instead of leaving those costs to future generations.
The second is partnership. We want to ensure that our communities, provinces and first nations all benefit from resource development and that we create value-added jobs for the middle class here in Canada.
The third is long-term prosperity, not short-term prosperity that would create jobs tomorrow that will be lost after two weeks. We are seeking to build long-term prosperity by investing and relying on modern technology in order to strike a balance between the economy and the environment.