Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from London West.
On October 19, Canadians elected a new government. Canadians voted for real change. They voted for a government that does politics differently. They made it clear that they wanted a throne speech that clearly articulated a future in which “a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand”.
That is what we are doing. We have a new approach that balances economic prosperity and environmental protection, because Canadians were disappointed in the processes over the last 10 years.
The price of oil has dropped to its lowest in more than a decade, investments in the oil sector have been cancelled or delayed, and good jobs are disappearing in a sector that is extremely important to Canada's future. That is the legacy of the Conservatives' failure in the energy sector.
The Government of Canada's announcement of our approach makes our principles clear. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change was clear, as was the Minister of Natural Resources, that the economy, the environment, and the voices of Canadians will finally be heard when the government makes decisions on major natural resource projects.
If an investor has already submitted an application to a responsible authority such as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board, or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, we will not require that investor to return to the starting line.
Under the Conservative government, companies expended too much time and too many resources on preparing to invest in Canada.
The government announced that deadlines would not take precedence over results. We will introduce effective environmental assessments. We will make the right changes to the assessments to improve consultation with the aboriginal peoples and the communities that are along the proposed routes of these projects.
That is a fair solution. Natural resources and the environment are a key part of our wealth as a nation. The development of these resources should not have a negative impact on the environment.
I will be frank: the Liberal government is committed to keeping the energy sector as the driving force behind jobs, national prosperity, and opportunities for all Canadians, because it is 2016.
This balanced approach to economic power and environmental management will make Canada a proud and prosperous country. It is the essence of our vision for the country's future. The energy sector creates jobs and economic growth across the country.
In 10 budget round tables that I held in Edmonton recently, the message was clear that our government must create a process that earns the confidence of Canadians so that we can grow the Canadian economy. Yesterday's announcement creates those favourable winning conditions for all Canadians.
What will truly benefit the prospects for the energy east pipeline is a robust environmental assessment process that tackles the issues of climate change and fully engages Canadians. This will work to restore public confidence and support from coast to coast to coast.
We need to approach resource development in the same way that we approached the building of railroads more than a century ago, a nation-building project at a critical moment in Canada's history. Our government's interim approach does just that. It is about fulfilling our promise to indigenous peoples and our commitment to engage industry in our approach. This is a historic moment for our country. This is a historic opportunity.
We are ushering in a new attitude with respect to the development of Canada's resources, one that protects our environmental heritage, respects the rights of aboriginal peoples, and supports the resilience and sustainability of the energy sector.
We have promised to work in partnership with the provinces, territories, and municipalities to set firm greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. That is what we are doing.
We have promised to bridge the gap between the regions and the sectors to create a pan-Canadian framework to fight climate change. That is what we are doing.
We must not fool ourselves: the energy sector changes with the circumstances. A low carbon economy, as desirable and inevitable as that may be, will always need Canada's abundant energy.
The means of extracting, processing, and transporting energy to markets will change so that sustainability becomes the inescapable context of our economic activity. The Minister of Natural Resources is making necessary changes to the regulatory and policy regimes to ensure that our natural resources are developed in a responsible, sustainable manner.
We need to trust that our environmental assessment regime is transparent and science-based in order to properly build the infrastructure needed to transport our resources to global markets. The future development of our resources depends on sound environmental management today.
The world changed when 195 countries came together last year in Paris to sign a historic, ambitious, and balanced approach to combat climate change. We have to be realistic about how we do business. We can no longer talk about economic growth in Canada without talking about environmental sustainability. We will not have the market access we seek, nor the social licence we need, without getting it right on the environment. It is that simple.
After 10 years of inaction we will re-establish our credibility on the world stage on climate change. We will lead on clean technology and we will deliver on our promise to all Canadians to protect our environment.