Mr. Speaker, I have been describing the many scientific assessments of this project that will help us better understand the potential and the risks. If the project goes ahead, the assessments will inform the design and operation of this proposed project to minimize any future risks. They will also ensure the protection of the beluga whale.
I would also like to stress that under the government's responsible resource development plan, rigorous environmental protection measures are being implemented to ensure the sustainable development of our natural resources all across the country, including for the proposed energy east pipeline project. The government has already undertaken many major steps to enhance an already robust oil tanker safety system regime and to create a world-class regime that protects both coastal communities and our environment.
As members know, Environment Canada has a mandate to protect water and air from pollutants, and it takes that responsibility very seriously. The department implements strong environmental laws, such as the Fisheries Act. The government will enforce all laws or regulations that are violated as a result of any spill and will ensure that the responsible parties are prosecuted to remedy any damage.
The department will continue to work in close partnership with other federal departments and other levels of government as well as with the private sector and international organizations to reduce the frequency and consequences of any violations in the marine environment. It will strive to prevent incidents. It will place emphasis on preparedness. It will provide response and recovery advice, and the department will work to advance emergencies science and technology.
To this end, Environment Canada's National Environmental Emergencies Centre is ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide scientific and technical advice and to identify environmental protection priorities when required. It is in a position to tailor its advice to the unique conditions of each emergency.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for ensuring that the critical habitat of the beluga and other aquatic species is protected under the Species at Risk Act. In addition, I am very pleased that the environment department, through its marine program, has prepared a best practice guide to aid operators of vessels in avoiding collisions with large aquatic mammals. This very useful guide will be available as part of the process led by the National Energy Board to inform its decision and to inform any potential conditions that could be placed on the proponent, especially regarding the protection of the beluga whale.
At the end of the day, should environmental decisions not be evidence based and science based, rather than ideologically or politically based? By proposing a political decision today to block development before appropriate scientific study has been completed, the NDP has once again revealed its absolute determination to block Canadian resource development without any regard whatsoever for science-based evidence.
Needless to say, I urge my NDP colleagues to insist on the historic right of members to vote freely on non-government business and to defeat this motion. I am confident that the proposed Gros-Cacouna port terminal project will be rigorously and scientifically assessed in a manner consistent with the principle of sustainable development.