Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that I will be sharing my time today with the hard-working member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.
It is an honour for me to have the opportunity to participate in the debate on this motion about the proposal to block the development of the port of Gros-Cacouna marine terminal which was put forward by my colleague from the riding of Drummond.
I will begin by saying that the real outcome of this motion, if it is adopted, would be to bolster efforts to shut down Canada's oil resource industry by preventing Canadian oil from reaching any global market. Those listening at home need to understand that the port terminal which the NDP proposes to block is a key element of the effort to bring Canadian oil to markets in eastern North America and beyond. It could even help deliver energy to our allies in eastern Europe, who currently have to rely on, and be dependent upon, supplies from an ever more aggressive and expansionist Russia.
The energy east pipeline is a complex project aimed at constructing and operating a 4,600 kilometre pipeline from Alberta to the east coast, and it includes the construction of terminals at Gros-Cacouna, Quebec and Saint John, New Brunswick.
Why would anyone seek to prevent Canadian energy resources from going to willing markets as the NDP is always trying to do? I will give the member for Drummond enough credit to assume that he knows full well that energy markets are at least North America wide, and that there is already a glut of refining capacity. He is intelligent enough to know that spending literally billions of dollars on unneeded refining capacity would be just throwing Canadian and Quebec taxpayer dollars down a very deep hole.
I am aware of the concerns raised by the member for Drummond, especially concerning the impact of this terminal on the Saint Lawrence ecosystem generally and upon the beluga whale population in particular.
Today I want to reassure my hon. colleague that the Government of Canada is very committed to protecting the safety and security of all Canadians and of the environment.
A number of federal and provincial responsibilities have already been called into action as a result of the proposed Gros-Cacouna marine terminal, including those of the National Energy Board, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada and Environment Canada, to name only a few.
For example, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is well on top of this issue and has already conducted a detailed scientific study of the impact of the necessary geophysical surveys on the Saint Lawrence beluga. It concluded that the risk of physical harm from these activities is low, and that any habitat deterioration from them will be temporary, if they are subject to strict scientifically determined conditions.
Also, once submitted by the proponent, the proposed energy east pipeline project will be assessed by the National Energy Board, which is the responsible authority. As members may know, that organization is an independent federal agency established as long ago as 1959.
Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, and the National Energy Board Act, the National Energy Board will ensure that the appropriate environmental assessments are conducted for any project under its jurisdiction, including this one.
When that application has been made, Environment Canada will also participate in the review process. It will carry out a science-based review of the project, including environmental emergency preparedness and response, oil spill prevention. migratory birds, wetlands, and wildlife species at risk, and air quality.
Through this environmental assessment and hearing process, mitigation measures will be identified to reduce any risk whatsoever. For example, an important part of Environment Canada's review will be dedicated to modelling the very remote risk of spills and predicting the potential fate of any oil spill that might remotely originate from this project under a full range of conditions. This will be used to assess any impacts from a spill and to develop contingency and response plans to minimize such impacts. The Canadian Coast Guard will be the lead agency for ship-source spill response.