Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to this motion before us and to reinforce some of the points made so persuasively by some of my colleagues.
Canada already has a robust, independent, and science-based review process for natural resource projects. In fact, the existing review process involves some of the most extensive public consultations that Canada has ever seen, including unprecedented engagement with aboriginal communities.
Our government understands and fully agrees that successes in responsibly developing our natural resources is dependent upon open and sustained dialogue with all Canadians. We have taken practical steps to build partnerships with aboriginal communities, including creating our major projects management office – west, which engages aboriginal leaders on energy resource development on the west coast.
One example of the work being done by that office is the series of workshops it has held with aboriginal communities. These workshops discussed how communities can play an enhanced role in our marine and pipeline safety systems, as well as the training and resources needed to make this happen.
Every day, we dedicate ourselves to building trust and fostering inclusion in the review process for major projects. We are committed to promoting better communication and stronger dialogue.
Unfortunately, this motion would do nothing to enhance those efforts. Instead, it would short-circuit a review process that is specifically designed to foster full and meaningful public engagement. Indeed, it could pre-empt efforts to achieve a comprehensive determination of whether a project is in Canada's broader public interest. Quite simply, this motion would replace extensive science-based decision-making with one based on perceptions.
Canadians deserve better. That is why our government has implemented its comprehensive plan for responsible resource development. Under our plan, we have developed a process that provides for inclusive public participation, a process that ensures environmental, economic, and social impacts are appropriately considered in determining whether a project should proceed. Our government has been clear time and again: projects will not proceed unless they are proven safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.
Responsible resource development strengthens environmental protection and enhances aboriginal engagement in every aspect of resource development. Indeed, over the past two years, our comprehensive approach has significantly enhanced marine, pipeline, and rail safety.
We are confident that we are creating one of the safest energy transportation systems in the world. It all starts with ensuring that we take every possible step to prevent incidents from occurring.
Our government recently introduced the pipeline safety act, which will enhance Canada's world-class pipeline safety regime by building on the principles of incident prevention, preparedness and response, as well as liability and compensation. The pipeline safety act will enshrine the polluter pays principle into law. This will ensure that as pipeline companies respond in the unlikely event of a major incident, they will be required to maintain the highest minimum financial resources in the world.
We are also expanding the power of the National Energy Board to enforce compliance. To further boost safety, we will also ask the National Energy Board to provide guidance on the use of best available technologies in the materials and construction of federally regulated pipelines.
For both marine and pipeline safety, we have mandated major increases in surveillance inspections and safety audits, as well as greater powers of enforcement.
In the case of marine safety, we have enhanced Canada's world-class tanker safety system by investing in state-of-the-art technology and modernizing navigation systems.
With all of these efforts, we are seeking to foster great public confidence in our country's ability to develop its resources and to do so responsibly. We know that building public confidence in major resource projects requires a comprehensive approach.
In the case of engaging aboriginal people, that means making progress on reconciliation and treaty negotiations. That is why the new measures announced last summer by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development are so important. These efforts are advancing treaty negotiations and reconciliation in a number of ways, and are clarifying the Government of Canada's approach to resolving shared territory disputes in the context of resource development.
Our government's goal is to work in partnership to promote prosperous communities and economic development for the benefit of all Canadians. The impact of a major resource projects extends well beyond a particular local area. While the NDP has opposed all forms of resource development, our government takes a balanced approach to resource development.
The natural resources sector is significant to Canada's economy, and it provides nearly 20% of our GDP and supports 1.8 million jobs. All of this activity generates royalties and revenues for governments to provide important social programs, from health to education to pensions, for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
The motion before us may be well intentioned, but it is poorly defined, and it would only serve to undermine the exhaustive process we have already established for considering resource projects. As I have noted, Canada already has an extremely rigorous regulatory regime in place to consider major resource projects.
Let us also remember that any recommendations on projects are made by independent regulators based on the entirety of the evidence collected. It simply makes no sense to cut short such an exhaustive process and ignore scientific-based facts for evidence. Canada deserves better, and Canadians know they can count on our government to deliver it.