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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was project.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Northumberland—Peterborough South (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2019, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Impact Assessment Act June 5th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the hon. member's question allows me to say that as we are speaking right now, the Prime Minister is in B.C. speaking to the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee, which the member may remember is the first of its kind in Canada. This is a monitoring committee for the life cycle of the TMX project, with $64 million to support it through that process. In response to the question of the member opposite, it is really important to remember that when we look at the scope of projects that are going through Bill C-69, the indigenous engagement piece and consideration of indigenous and traditional knowledge are a key element of this bill.

Impact Assessment Act June 5th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I would suggest that the math of the member opposite is a bit challenged. In this process, industry clearly told us that the early planning phase, which considers all the items up front, would allow it to decide whether the project is indeed feasible, and then industry has the opportunity to decide whether to go forward with the impact assessment or regroup and go back to look at other options and alternatives. What industry does not want to see is what happened under the previous government, which is that industry had no option but to go full bore into the process and find itself, through that process, spending millions of dollars and still not having any certainty. This bill would provide that certainty.

Impact Assessment Act June 5th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-69.

Our government recognizes that national resource sectors are a vital part of Canada's economy. Over $500 billion in major resource projects are planned across Canada over the next decade. Those projects have the potential to create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs to support our communities and to contribute to our economy as a whole.

We have committed to regain public trust and get Canada's resources to market and to ensure those resources are developed in a responsible and sustainable way. Bill C-69 would put in place better rules that would provide predictable, timely project reviews and encourage investments. At the same time, it would ensure our environment would be protected and we could meet our commitments to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a clean growth economy.

Today, I will speak about how Bill C-69 would provide certainty for proponents and would help ensure good projects could go ahead, specifically, how it would contribute to more timely reviews and clearer requirements for companies; how it would reduce duplication and red tape by achieving our goal of one project, one review; and how it would provide a clear process and rules for transitioning to the new impact assessment system.

Throughout our extensive engagement with companies and industry groups across Canada, we heard they needed predictable, timely review processes to develop resources and get them to market. We listened, and that is exactly what the bill would provide.

Under the proposed legislation, one agency, the new impact assessment agency of Canada, will lead all major projects reviews, working closely with regulatory bodies. With one agency as the federal lead, reviews will be more consistent and indeed more predictable. A revised project list will define the types of projects that will be subject to impact assessments, providing the certainty that companies need and expect.

Our government is consulting with Canadians now to ensure the project list is robust and includes effective criteria such as environmental objectives and standards for clean air, water, and climate change. Through a new early planning and engagement phase, companies will be able to identify and address issues early in the process before an impact assessment begins. Early planning will result in tailored impact statement guidelines, a co-operation plan, an indigenous engagement and partnership plan, public participation plan, and, if required, a permitting plan.

The details of these early planning products will be further articulated in the information requirements and time management regulations. We are consulting on these now and they will come into force concurrently with the IAA. This early planning stage will define requirements and clarify expectations so companies know what is expected of them and when.

This new phase will help them design and plan their projects and more effectively engage indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and local communities. Amendments proposed by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development will also enable the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to inform companies early on if a project is likely to have negative impacts, giving proponents an earlier opportunity to decide to continue with an impact assessment.

Bill C-69 would also put in place stricter timeline management for impact assessments, with fewer stops of the clock. Specifically, timelines for agency-led reviews would be reduced from 365 days to 300 days. Panel reviews would be shortened from 720 days to a maximum of 600 days. In addition, panel reviews for designated projects reviewed in collaboration with a federal life cycle regulator would be shortened to 300 days, with the option to allow the minister to set the timeline up to a maximum of 600 days if warranted based on the project's complexity. Timelines for non-designated projects reviewed by life cycle regulators would be shortened from 450 days to 300 days.

The regulations I mentioned earlier would also establish clear rules around when timelines could be paused. In addition, proposed amendments provide for a 45-day timeline for establishing a review panel. Together, these measures will result in more timely decisions and more certainty for proponents.

Companies will also know in advance what will be considered during reviews and what factors will guide decision-making. Reviews will take into account not just environmental impacts, but social, economic, and health effects, along with impacts on indigenous peoples and their rights.

Recognizing that not all project effects are negative, the bill would ensure that both positive and negative impacts would be considered. Amendments clarify that the government's public interest decision will be based on the assessment report and the consideration of specific factors.

The bill would also provide strong transparency measures so proponents would be informed about key decisions, as well as the reasons behind them. That includes, for example, decisions to extend the timeline for a review or to refer a final decision on a project to cabinet. Also, when final decisions are made on whether a project will go ahead, the proponent will be informed of the reasons why and will be assured that all factors were appropriately considered.

I want to note that in considering Bill C-69, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development heard testimony from a number of companies and industry groups. There were suggestions for improving the bill, and I want to recognize the committee for listening to that feedback and responding.

As reported back to the House, Bill C-69 now includes stronger transparency provisions that would benefit proponents and provide more certainty and consistency across the legislation. Amendments would improve transparency by requiring assessment reports to incorporate a broader range of information, including a summary of comments received, recommendations on mitigation measures and follow-up, and the agency's rationale and conclusions. It would also require that public comments provided during the public reviews would be made available online. That information posted online would also need to be maintained so it could be accessed over time.

I would like to talk now about how Bill C-69 would achieve our government's goal of one project, one review. By providing for joint reviews and substitution, where a process led by another jurisdiction fulfills the requirement for a federal review, it would promote co-operation with provinces and territories, reduce red tape, and prevent duplication. In addition, we would be increasing opportunities for partnership with indigenous peoples and for indigenous governing bodies to take on key responsibilities, including taking the lead on projects.

I commend the standing committee for further advancing our objective of one project, one review. As a result of its work, integrated review panels with federal regulators can now include other jurisdictions, making it possible to have just one assessment that meets all requirements. This is important for investor certainty. This change responds directly to testimony made before the committee and what our government has heard from industry stakeholders. It supports our goal of certainty and timelines in review processes.

Finally, we have also heard how important it is for Bill C-69 to support a smooth transition between the current assessment regime and the new regime. Our government recognizes that this transition needs to be clear and predictable to encourage investment and keep good projects moving forward. We have also committed that no project will have to return to the beginning of the process. This legislation fulfills that promise. Under Bill C-69, projects would continue under the current rules where the assessment would already be under way.

Thanks to the work of the standing committee, the transition process in now even clearer. Amendments would increase predictability by confirming how the transition to the new review process would work, with objective criteria to identify projects that would continue to be reviewed un CEAA 2012, giving companies the option to opt in to the new process and confirming that no one would go back to the starting line.

We know that many companies are already adopting best practices that are in line with this legislation. Should they choose to opt in, we will provide advice and support to help them transition smoothly to the new requirement.

Bill C-69 is designed to help good projects move forward, not stop them. Our government is committed to developing Canada's natural resources in a sustainable and environmentally supportive way.

Business of Supply June 4th, 2018

Madam Speaker, one thing that has been very hard to reconcile over this file is that I am not sure if the New Democrats know which side of the fence they are on. We have the British Columbia government and the Alberta government, both NDP governments, on opposite ends of this discussion. We have the federal NDP, which has mostly come out against it, but not really.

My hon. colleague talked about commitments in platforms, and water and housing. Those are the things that our government is working on with renewed vigour. There were 10 years of a former government where that was all ignored. We have a Minister of Indigenous Services who has had the opportunity to take 50 or 60 boil water advisories off permanently. There is more work on housing, mental health, education, and the list goes on. This is about a holistic approach to ensuring the opportunities are realized for those indigenous communities who are part of this process, and who want to be part of this process. This government is going to stand strong to work with all of them.

Business of Supply June 4th, 2018

Madam Speaker, for the hon. member, I would suggest that by not supporting the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline, the New Democrats are indeed taking away opportunities from the very communities that have signed those agreements.

As we have said, this has been the largest consultation in Canadian history. We also know that there are many who have come forward to talk about the indigenous monitoring committee that has been put in place, the first of its kind by any government in Canada, to ensure that the lifetime of that pipeline is managed in the safest possible, environmentally sustainable manner that can be had in terms of resource projects. We know it is important, and we have said continually, and the Prime Minister has said, that no relationship is more important to our government than that with indigenous peoples. That means, as I said in my remarks, it is about building consensus and working together. It is not pitting one group of indigenous peoples against another group of indigenous peoples, one province against another province.

Business of Supply June 4th, 2018

Madam Speaker, one of the things we have been very clear on is that with the purchase of the Trans Mountain expansion project, any agreements that were in place with the current company, Kinder Morgan, will be honoured by our government.

As I said in my remarks, through this whole process, there was already some indication of investors coming forward. Some of those investors are indeed indigenous communities.

The answer to the question from the member opposite is that this project has had the largest consultation in Canadian history on a natural resource project.

Business of Supply June 4th, 2018

Madam Speaker, as I listened to the earlier speeches and questions, I could not help but think that the NDP will do anything to stop this project, even disrespecting the rule of law.

The member opposite claims that all communities along the route of the pipeline would need to provide consent to the project, whether they signed a mutual benefit agreement or not. She fails to acknowledge that there are several indigenous communities along the route that support this project.

I wonder if the member opposite could tell this House whether the interests of those communities are not also important. Do they not have value in their quest to have better opportunities for their communities? Yes or no?

Business of Supply June 4th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the sanctimony of the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is quite something.

Before I begin my remarks today and speak to the motion by the hon. member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, I want to take a moment to congratulate him on the passage of his private member's bill in the House last week. Bill C-262 is a fitting tribute to, and a crowning achievement in, his lifetime of work promoting and defending the rights of indigenous peoples. It is a bill inspired in part by what he endured as a former student in the Indian residential school system, and by his determination to reconcile with those who had, as he says, put him away for 10 years. It is a bill that speaks to those without a voice, and it is a bill that reflects his own remarkable courage, perseverance, and selfless public service.

I know that the member opposite often says he was not alone in his pursuit of justice, but there is also no denying that his decades long journey exacted a heavy toll on him, not just in terms of his endless and exhausting hours of work, but in the personal sacrifices too, including precious time lost with loved ones. We are forever indebted to him for this, and all members on this side of the House are honoured to have supported his bill. In fact, our only regret about Bill C-262 is that it did not pass in the House unanimously. History will almost certainly question the bill's opponents harshly, but I will leave it to them to explain their position to Canadians.

Today, the hon. member opposite asked for our support again with a motion that builds on Bill C-262, a motion that among other things asks all members to reaffirm their support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to advance a nation-to-nation approach that respects the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination. Our government is readily willing to do both, as we have many times before. We share much in common with the hon. member, more perhaps than he may even realize, but I will get to more of that later.

Where we differ is on the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline. Our government's decision to approve the $7.4-billion project, as well as our announcement last week to secure the existing pipeline and ensure that its expansion proceeds, has never, ever been about choosing sides or putting one province ahead of another, or one indigenous community before another. Instead, it has always been about Canada's interest. That includes the rights of all Canadians and the rights of indigenous peoples. It is our responsibility and within our jurisdiction to work in close partnerships with provinces and indigenous peoples, to consult and engage as the crown, and to act in the national interest to ensure the stability and growth of the Canadians economy, and to get our resources to market sustainably and competitively.

The TMX pipeline is part of that. It is in Canada's national interest as a result of the most in-depth indigenous consultations ever done in this country on a project; as a result of a significant number of letters and submissions from the Canadian public; and also because of the thousands of good, well-paying jobs it will create, the better prices it will ensure for Canadian oil, and the increased government revenues at all levels that will follow. All the while, our government is making unprecedented investments to enhance environmental protection and support indigenous participation.

To understand all of this and how we have arrived at where we are today, it is helpful to look back at where we started. From the moment our government was sworn into office, we made it clear that there is no relationship more important to Canada than the one with indigenous peoples. We have heard the Prime Minister say that many times in the House and elsewhere. He wrote it in the mandate letters of every federal cabinet minister, and he made it a central pillar of our government's vision for this clean growth century, starting with the Speech from the Throne, which was delivered exactly two and a half years ago today.

I want to read an excerpt from the throne speech so that Canadians can appreciate how it has guided our every action over the past 30 months. It reads:

Because it is both the right thing to do and a certain path to economic growth, the Government will undertake to renew, nation-to-nation, the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples, one based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.

It is because of that perspective that we fully endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and why we are acting on the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and why the Prime Minister appointed a working group of ministers last year to review all laws, policies, and operational practices related to indigenous peoples.

In short, our government's efforts are cut from the same cloth as the hon. member's Bill C-262, and they go even further in ensuring that the crown is meeting its constitutional obligations regarding aboriginal and treaty rights. We are adhering to international human rights standards, including the UN declaration. We are supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action and we are doing all of these things in collaboration with indigenous peoples.

The result is that this past February the Prime Minister announced a historic new approach for renewing the relationships between Canada and first nations, Inuit, and Métis people, one that underscores that true reconciliation must start with the recognition and implementation of indigenous rights. Our government is doing this by developing a new recognition and implementation of rights framework, a framework that is being co-developed through national engagement to rebuild indigenous governments and nations and to support a path toward self-determination.

One of our government's earliest expressions of this new approach was the introduction of Bill C-69, which transforms the way Canada reviews major new resource projects by co-developing with indigenous partners a direct and permanent role in impact assessment and regulatory process from beginning to end, which brings me back to the Trans Mountain expansion project.

One of the first things our government did in coming to office was to launch a new interim approach to environmental assessments and regulatory reviews in Canada, an approach based on five guiding principles that included more meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples and explicit inclusion of indigenous knowledge. Then, to enable even more voices to be heard, the Minister of Natural Resources appointed a special ministerial panel to travel up and down the length of the proposed pipeline's route, holding additional hearings beyond the National Energy Board's own regulatory review.

We heard through our engagements with indigenous peoples and non-indigenous Canadians in Alberta and British Columbia and across Canada that the project is in the national interest, that the jobs and revenue are needed, and that the risks can be mitigated. However, we also heard that we needed to manage the risks of the project very closely, which is another reason why we launched our country's single largest investment to protect Canada's oceans, marine life, and coastal communities, a $1.5 billion investment that will strengthen the eyes and ears of our coastlines, the longest in the world.

It will enhance our response capabilities in the unlikely event of a spill and ensure that coastal and indigenous communities are at the forefront of development and implementation of the plan.

It is also why we invested in and co-developed an indigenous advisory monitoring committee for the TMX pipeline, the first committee of its kind in Canada to help oversee the safety of a major energy project through its entire life cycle. Indigenous participation in this advisory and monitoring committee includes representatives that both support and oppose the project. This partnership and diversity of views is essential to advance our shared goals of safety and protection of the environment. As a result of these efforts, indigenous voices will be at the forefront, their counsel sought, their knowledge valued, and their rights protected. It is the beginning of a new way of managing resources.

As Chief Ernie Crey of the Cheam First Nation has said of the advisory and monitoring committee: “Indigenous people won't be on the outside looking in. We'll be at the table and on site, to protect our land and our water.” He is right.

The Prime Minister has said that the true measure of any relationship is not whether we all agree, but how we move forward when we do not agree. That is where our focus is.

When our government approved the TMX pipeline, we knew there would be Canadians who would disagree vocally and sometimes vehemently. That is the nature of a healthy and fully functioning democracy. Major energy projects can be controversial. They can divide political parties, as we have witnessed with the Alberta and British Columbia provincial governments who share the same political stripe. These projects can also divide indigenous communities that hold aboriginal and treaty rights protected under our Constitution. Look at those who support and those who oppose this project. There are Canadians who feel so deeply about these things that they will protest in the street and get themselves arrested, as two members of Parliament already have. This right to protest is a cherished Canadian liberty. We live under the rule of law.

I will now return to where I began in my remarks. I opened by commending the hon. member opposite for the passage of his bill, Bill C-262, and I suggested that he shares more common ground with our government than he may realize. There is a very good reason for believing that. It is because of something he said in February when he appeared before the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs to discuss his private member's bill. At that time, the member for Pontiac asked the hon. member opposite if he could articulate any distinction between free, prior, and informed consent, and a veto. I will quote the hon member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou at length because, as a lawyer, he displayed his great grasp of the law. The hon. member said:

I think the distinction is an important one and we need to understand that in this country. The right to free, prior, and informed consent, like all human rights, not just the human rights of indigenous peoples, is a relative right. You need to balance that right with the rights and interests of others, which veto does not do. Veto is an absolute thing, and I don't think our court system, constitutional or otherwise, would ever take that kind of view. That's not how our Canadian legal system works and that's not how the international law system works either.

The member's explanation is one of the best I have every heard. It is also consistent with one of the most frequently cited interpretations of what free, prior, and informed consent means, as developed by the former UN Special Rapporteur, James Anaya. Mr. Anaya said that consent “should not be regarded as according indigenous peoples a general 'veto power' over decisions that my affect them”. Instead, the overarching objective of free, prior, and informed consent is that all parties work together in good faith to make every effort toward mutually acceptable arrangements, thereby allowing indigenous people to “genuinely influence the decision-making process.”

This is the approach our government took in reaching its decision to approve the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline.

The member opposite is correct in noting that there are indigenous communities that oppose the project, including six indigenous groups that are exercising their rights in court. There are also 43 rights-bearing indigenous communities along the length of the proposed expansion route who have signed mutual benefit agreements that will create real opportunities in those communities, 32 of which have submitted letters of support. These signified partnership agreements reached between the company and communities go beyond the government's consultation and beyond the 157 conditions of the project that must be in place before operation.

In addition, the Minister of Finance has noted that since we announced our decision to purchase the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and proceed with its expansion, many investors have already expressed interest in the project, including indigenous groups.

Overriding the consent of those indigenous peoples who support the project or the majority of Canadians who are also in favour of its proceeding is not the solution here, but the contrary. It would go against the intent and spirit of the hon. member's motion.

The goal of free, prior, and informed consent is to ensure a holistic approach to interests through transparent processes aimed at building consensus.

It is the same goal at the heart of our current legislation to modernize Canada's environmental assessments and regulatory reviews. It highlights the importance of everyone in this House to support developing a recognition and implementation of indigenous rights framework that makes enshrining the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples real and meaningful, and that will fully support indigenous peoples in their path to self-determination.

How we manage and develop our national resources speaks to who we are as Canadians and the values that define us. Decisions like these are not always easy, popular, or indeed straightforward. I know the member opposite understands that as well as anyone. He has dedicated his life to advancing reconciliation through inclusive and sustainable resource development. We share similar visions; we have the same goals.

While I cannot support the member's motion as it is worded today, I believe we are all well begun with better rules to build a better Canada, one that our children can inherit with pride and build with confidence.

Natural Resources June 1st, 2018

Madam Speaker, this is about getting our resources to new markets so that we are not sending 98% of our oil exports only to the U.S.

Let us talk about the pipelines that have been approved, many of them in Alberta: expanded export capacity for the Alberta Clipper, the Nova Gas pipeline, the Line 3 replacement project, the Trans Mountain expansion, and Keystone XL. I could go on and on. This is about creating thousands of good middle-class jobs for Canadians, while protecting the environment.

Natural Resources June 1st, 2018

Madam Speaker, I will once again remind the official opposition that the northern gateway pipeline was thrown out by the courts for insufficient consultation with indigenous peoples and communities.

The Trans Mountain expansion project is in the national interest. It means thousands of jobs to strengthen and grow the middle class. The Conservatives had 10 years to build pipelines to new export markets, and they could not get it done. They believe we have to make a choice between the environment and the economy. We do not. This is a country where it is possible to do both at the same time, and that is exactly what we are doing.