Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2017-10-18 15:26 [p.14239]
Mr. Speaker, finally, I have a petition signed by hundreds of people who are concerned about the Emerson report suggestions to dismantle established rules governing cabotage in Canada.
The petitioners call on the House to protect Canadian seafarers and port assets to ensure Canada has a strong domestic internal waterway system that protects Canadian jobs and Canadian Maritime assets.
View Colin Carrie Profile
View Colin Carrie Profile
2017-10-18 18:59 [p.14263]
Mr. Speaker, transparency seems to be the topic of the week, and obviously, from the parliamentary secretary's speech, the Liberals are running away from it.
My motion being debated here today was brought forward as an opportunity for Liberal and NDP members to prove that they do, in fact, want to be as transparent as possible with Canadians. Motion No. 131 seeks just that. It is a motion that seeks to have the finance committee undertake a study that would determine ways to ensure that the cost of the mandatory Liberal carbon tax is disclosed. The Prime Minister himself has stated that his plan is $10 a tonne by 2018, increasing to $50 a tonne by 2022. To put this into perspective, that is an extra 2.33¢ per litre at the pumps in 2018, and an extra 11.63¢ per litre by 2022. That is a potential increase of up to $2,569 per year for the average Canadian family by 2022.
If the provinces choose not to introduce this arbitrary tax on their citizens, the Liberals will impose the tax themselves.
There is no denying that a carbon tax will have profound effects on every single Canadian, so it seems a bit rich that the Minister of Environment had the audacity to say that their plan was credible and fair for all Canadians. How is nickel and diming hard-working Canadians fair? How is it fair to do it without disclosing the actual costs associated with this new mandatory tax?
As the only party that represents the taxpayer, we have continually pushed for answers on these very questions. At first the Liberals said they did not have the answers, but then a very heavily blacked out Finance Canada document showed that the government did have the answers but was trying to keep them from Canadians. Why are the Liberals hiding the cost of the carbon tax if their plan is credible and “fair for all Canadians”?
Canadians are already struggling to make ends meet under the Liberal government. The Prime Minister's out-of-control spending habits have led to increases in payroll taxes. We just found out that the CRA wants to attempt to tax employee discounts. There is the elimination of the vital tax breaks that help low- and middle-income Canadians, and now there will be another new tax grab that will affect every single Canadian and drive businesses right out of the country because it is not affordable.
Why do I think that every member in the House should vote in favour of Motion No. 131? It is simple. This is a non-partisan issue.
While the Conservative Party does not endorse imposing higher taxes on Canadians, the Liberal Party clearly does. I do not think anyone would argue with the fact that a tax on every single Canadian and business should be studied, and in fact, passed unanimously.
As elected members of Parliament, it is up to us to be honest with our constituents and ensure that their voices are heard in Ottawa. Earlier this year, I asked my constituents a very simple question: do you agree with the Liberal government's carbon tax plan? Ninety-six per cent of respondents said no. They do not agree with the Liberal plan. Why? It is because my constituents know that this tax will empty their pockets. This tax will make manufacturers, a major job creator in Oshawa, think twice about investing in our community and in our future. The tax is anything but affordable and fair.
Unfortunately, the Liberals have made it clear that they will not listen to Canadians on most of their tax-grabbing schemes. However, they can at least keep one of their election promises and be open and transparent. If the Liberals vote against my motion, there is no doubt that they are trying to keep this tax grab hidden from Canadians. There is no doubt that the Liberals have broken their promise to set a new tone, something the Prime Minister said he would achieve by being open and transparent with Canadians.
The Liberals are already being criticized for their lack of transparency. We as Conservatives believe in helping Canadians achieve prosperity and opportunity instead of taking it away from them with overspending and higher taxes. Governments should encourage growth and investment. Instead, under this government, businesses will look elsewhere. Jobs will be lost, and Canadians will have less money in their pockets.
I look forward to seeing the committee's report once the study is complete. I encourage all members of Parliament to vote in favour of transparency for Canadians.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to compliment the member for Bow River on his motion. I was happy to second it. The speech I am about to give relates quite closely to the wonderful motion he has introduced.
I am pleased to rise in the chamber to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and Canada Petroleum Act. Essentially, the proposed bill will allow the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to designate interim marine protected areas for five years while the government consults and studies whether the MPA should be permanent.
The Liberal government arrogance knows no bounds, given that the fisheries committee was charged with studying this very topic, and is in the middle of its study. However, the government is going ahead without the benefit of advice from the fisheries committee. I had the honour of sitting on the fisheries committee for nearly seven years. It does great work. People from all parties get together to conserve our fisheries resources and provide good advice, yet the government chooses to go ahead without the benefit of that advice.
Before I get into debating the merits of whether the bill will achieve its desired results, all of us believe in the protection of our coastal waters, and we have a deep connection with the environment. In my own career as a fisheries biologist, I have been involved with environmental conservation for 35-plus years.
When it comes to the preservation of parkland and the protection of our oceans, our Conservative government made giant steps to reconcile the divide between what was best for the environment and the people who lived there and used it. I would again refer to the previous motion. People who live on the land are the best conservationists. People who use our waterways and catch our fish care more about the environment and conservation than just about anyone else.
Our government took consultation seriously and strived to ensure everyone had a say. In 2009, Parliament unanimously passed legislation resulting in a sixfold expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve, bringing the park to 30,000 square kilometres in size. A year later, after a parliamentary review, the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site became the first marine protected area to be scheduled under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act, which was another great project of our Conservative government.
In a global first, this new marine protected area, along with the existing Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, to this very day protects the connecting area that extends from alpine mountaintops right down to the bottom of the ocean floor, a rich temperate rainforest and its adjoining marine ecosystem that is now protected for the benefit of future generations. All of this was accomplished as we worked hand in hand with the local communities that were most affected by this. That is the proper way to establish a marine conservation area.
It is important to note that our government not only worked to protect large or remote natural areas such as Nahanni, Gwaii Haanas, and Sable Island. We also worked to protect the endangered habitat and species, and to conserve some of the last remaining natural areas in more developed settings.
I am extremely proud of our Conservative government's track record when it comes to the environment. We were about action, about making the necessary changes for the betterment of all of our citizens. On our watch as a Conservative government nearly every environmental indicator in our country improved. From sulphur dioxide emissions, nitrous oxide emissions, etc., and the amount of land protected, nearly every environmental indicator improved.
A large part of our tremendous environmental track record was under the national conservation plan that Prime Minister Harper announced a few years ago, which unfortunately the current government is letting slip away. Under the NCP, we had the natural areas conservation program, which conserved 800,000 acres of highly-valued conservation land in Canada's developed areas.
One program I was especially proud of was the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program. In that program, our government partnered with the angling community and the recreational fishing community. About four million Canadians love to angle. We worked with these fisheries groups to fund about 800 projects to improve fisheries habitat right across the country. Unfortunately, this program is sunsetting under the Liberal government. It is a travesty that we are losing the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, and all the expertise and enthusiasm the angling community has generated. We did work on invasive species. We did important work in toxic site remediation. Randle Reef in Hamilton harbour comes to mind.
We streamlined and made a more efficient project review process without harming the environment in any way. We streamlined the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. We rewrote the Fisheries Act. None of this had any negative impact on the environment, but served to promote and encourage natural resource development.
The Liberals and the Conservatives are very different when it comes to environmental policy. The Liberals and the New Democrats, their fellow travellers on the left, are all about environmental process. The Conservatives are about environmental results. The two are very different.
Getting more specific about marine protected areas, they are a very challenging program to implement. It is much easier to implement protection in terrestrial areas such as our national parks, wildlife management areas, and so on. It is easy to say “protected” when we talk about marine protected areas, but from what? In terms of MPAs, the devil is always in the details.
Let us just visualize what a marine protected area would look like. Visualize the water column, which is a three dimensional slice of the ocean. We look at the surface, the water itself, the volume of water underneath that surface area, and the bottom, the benthic area where the benthic organisms live. Fish migrate through this water column at different times of year. Tides change the currents on a daily basis. The challenges with MPAs actually are much greater than the challenges with terrestrial areas. There are a multitude of activities in that water column, for example, human activity, ships going over the top of the water and recreational fishing. Marine protected areas are quite difficult. It is very important the government gets this right. If it does not, human activity will be disrupted, with very little improvement on the environment.
That is why I find this a bit difficult to support. One one hand, the Liberals say that they will consult with provincial governments and interested and affected stakeholders, yet time and time again witnesses at the fisheries committee testified that these consultations were not taking place. When they did take place, they were sorely lacking.
Leonard LeBlanc, the managing director of the Gulf of Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board, said:
The process DFO used to approach harvester associations and consult on the areas of interest for designation was unorganized and totally not transparent. This consultation process on the area of interest for MPA designation in the Cape Breton Trough perpetuated the lack of trust between industry and DFO. The lack of inclusion and answers during the consultation phase, the lack of [any] real scientific evidence for reasoning behind the area of interest, and the lack of guarantees that traditional fisheries could continue all led to further distrust of DFO's consultation...
Ian MacPherson, the executive director of the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association, said:
...we have concerns surrounding the tight timelines to accomplish these goals. Prince Edward Island is a small province driven by small fishing communities. The displacement of fishers from one community to another as a result of an MPA would shift the economics of the island.
A gentleman named Jordan Nickerson has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a crab fishery. He talked about how well it was going. He said:
Our crab was landed in pristine quality...As a company, we were...relieved, as it looked as though we might actually achieve our dream and see a possible return on investment [but the MPA program has hit]...we were all too quickly familiarized with the concept of MPAs...and marine conservation targets, by DFO and the Government of Canada. Abruptly, our access grounds was being called into question, thereby adding more complexity to an already strenuous situation.
Mr. Nickerson went on to say:
Canada should be a leader in listening to its people and taking the time to listen and spend the money and do the proper science before coming to a huge decision such as establishing...MPAs supposedly based on science. These decisions will take time, but they should be Canadian decisions based on Canadian timelines, not offhand commitments made to international arenas void of any voices of those who will be impacted most and who are most informed...We should all understand the importance of saving and protecting the environment; however, environmental groups don't depend on the fishery to put food on the table and tax dollars to work. They are using their campaigns to maintain their future funding strings and their own future.
Christina Burridge, executive director of the BC Seafood Alliance, said:
On the west coast, we're not seeing a lot of evidence-based decision-making. It's beginning to look like political decision-making....
Closing large areas to fishing off the west coast does little for biodiversity, little for conservation, little for the men and women up and down the coast who work in our sector and who are middle class or aspire to [be] middle class and little for the health of [citizens], who deserve access to local, sustainable seafood.
Jim McIsaac, the managing director of the BC Commercial Fishing Caucus, said:
We need to engage stakeholders from the start, not bring stakeholders along at the end. We have to set outcome objectives, and the process should fit the objectives.
On and on, throughout the hearings, stakeholders, people who live and work on the sea, complained bitterly about the lack of consultation and, quite frankly, the lack of science.
Sean Cox, a professor of fisheries from Simon Fraser University, said:
Looking at some of the previous testimony, there was a claim that there was overwhelming scientific proof that MPAs are beneficial and widely successful. I think that was misrepresentation of the actual science.
Callum Roberts said, “If you want to build on a process of trust and goodwill, you don't then ignore what your stakeholders say and consult on only a minority of the protected areas that were being recommended” or we will end up without “a network of protected areas.“
Chris Sporer, the executive manager for the Pacific Halibut Management Association, said, “The MPA process needs to take into consideration and evaluate the ecological consequences of displacing fishing effort.”
Mr. Sporer talked at length about the fact that halibut fishing would be much more difficult and perhaps threaten non-target species if they were, “kicked out” of some of the prime halibut fishing areas.
Again, unfortunately for those making a living off of the ocean, the Liberal government has a pattern of broken promises and has continually put its own partisan interests above what is best for its citizens. To be honest, it makes me question why the Liberals are pushing the bill so hard. Could it be they are merely trying to appease the international community to score points for a much-touted Security Council bid?
With respect to the bungling by the current government in managing our environment and resources, nothing quite comes close to the bungling that happened on the energy east project. I am going to quote from an article by Dennis McConaghy, a former TransCanada Pipeline employee who designed pipelines. The title of the article is “I helped plan Energy East, and I know the government's excuses are bunk”, a very telling statement by a person who was on the ground. The article stated:
The vast majority of the $1 billion in Energy East development costs went to pursuing regulatory approval....Since TransCanada first filed with the National Energy Board in late 2014, the project has had to cope with litany of regulatory dysfunctions.
This may not seem related to MPAs, but it is all part and parcel of the government's approach to local communities, economic development, and our natural resources industries. He went on to say:
...regulatory dysfunctions ranging from protracted information requests beyond the initial filing, recusal of the original NEB panel to be replaced by a panel of limited pertinent regulatory experience, failure to use the existing regulatory record prior to the recusal, inadequate security arrangements for attempted public hearings and, worst of all, the recent decision to “re-scope” the issues to be addressed in the hearing itself.
From when TransCanada first conceived this project internally in late 2011, accumulated development costs have exceeded $1 billion, the vast majority relating to the pursuit of regulatory approval. No private sector entity would ever have expended such a vast amount of capital seeking regulatory approval if it had known the dimension of the regulatory and political risk....
The last straw was the re-scoping decision taken by the current NEB panel, and supported by the [Liberal] government. This decision concerned whether carbon emissions generated by the production process of the oil to be moved by Energy East were consistent or not with Ottawa’s carbon policy. To be clear, these are not emissions generated by the Energy East pipeline directly, but are emissions TransCanada is not responsible for....
Over the past week, the Trudeau government has offered various sophistries to obfuscate the basic point that it bears culpability for a dysfunctional regulatory system and its failure to clarify basic elements of Canadian carbon policy. Lamest of all is the government invoking changed commodity-price conditions
—as the natural resources minister always does—
as the cause for Energy East’s demise, while it proudly points out that Trans Mountain and Keystone XL are still alive, despite these projects facing the same commodity-price environment.
Again, the dysfunctionality, I think I may have coined a new word here, of the government when it comes to regulatory affairs, managing our natural environment, and consulting with local people, is clearly abysmal. I would like to go back to Mr. Jordan Nickerson, who has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in his small business. Just as he is about to show some success, his fear is that his access to his fishing-grounds will be compromised. Not only that, there is the small business tax program coming down upon him.
Of course, we were all treated to the excuses by the finance minister in not disclosing the fact that he owned a French villa. Having what he has, I would definitely excuse him from that. As well, there was his use of the phrase that it was caused by “early administrative confusion”. Should any of us ever be audited by the CRA, because the finance minister used that excuse, we could state the same excuse of “early administrative confusion”. We can say we have the finance minister's backing on that. I can see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries. I am not going to say he agrees, but I think he is enjoying this particular example.
The small business tax will make life harder for fishing families like Mr. Nickerson's. Throw in the MPA designation, throw in a potential carbon tax, and one wonders why somebody would ever take that risk, hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up a fishery in this risky environment created by the current Liberal government with its dysfunctional regulatory approach.
Again, we are concerned that this is another tax grab and a way to thwart the ambitions of people like Mr. Nickerson. We know that Liberal tax hikes are making it more difficult for entrepreneurs like Mr. Nickerson to maintain and grow their businesses. The previous Conservative government created a low-tax competitive business environment that drove investment and created hundreds and thousands of private sector jobs. In terms of the Liberals' small business tax proposals, Jack Mintz from the University of Calgary, said, “This is just one more way to discourage entrepreneurship, on top of all the tax increases in the past two years.”
Kim Moody, the director of the Canadian tax advisory at Moodys Gartner stated:
What the government will do here is stifle entrepreneurs who have been the backbone of Canada's growth … and all in a 75-day consultation period, held mainly over the summer, when everyone, including the government bureaucrats supposedly listening, are on holiday.”
It is my hope that we can work together on the issue of MPAs and that the government will listen to the members of the fisheries committee, and to local communities. As I said, I have been involved with fisheries conservation for many years and natural resource conservation, and I sat on the fisheries committee for nearly seven years. The conservation of Canada's natural resources is of paramount importance. It is vital that the government listen to the people who are on the land.
I am constantly astonished. I have the honour of representing Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa. In my riding, I have commercial fishermen, farmers, ranchers, trappers, tourist operators, hunters, and anglers. My particular constituency could be considered a model of natural resources development with people working in harmony with their environments. I have the honour of owning a little 480-acre farm south of Riding Mountain National Park. The biodiversity in my region is truly phenomenal. It is maintained by people on the land.
To conclude, it is very important that the government listen to people who commercially and recreationally fish. It is critical that they get the MPA program right.
View Terry Beech Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Terry Beech Profile
2017-10-16 12:22 [p.14095]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his seven years of work on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and for getting me up to speed when I became the parliamentary secretary. I can assure the member that, despite the fact that he has gone on to a new committee, his presence is still felt. I speak on behalf of the entire committee when I say that.
The message I get from Canadians across the country is that they are counting on us to protect our oceans. I have just returned from a three-day Southern Resident Killer Whale symposium with scientists and experts from across the country and the United States who are talking about how our green ecosystems are being affected at rates far faster than we ever expected.
When it comes to the amendment on interim protection, within the first 24 months when we know there have been some initial science and initial consultations, we realize there is some level of biodiversity that is at risk. The member opposite must agree that the precautionary principle tells us, and this amendment is in lockstep with the principle, that we must take action.
I imagine there must be a circumstance where the member opposite would agree with that statement and I would like his comments and reflection on that point.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Madam Speaker, it is always tempting when a government member asks a question to get aggressive, tough, and snarly, but with the kind words from the parliamentary secretary, even for me that will be extremely difficult. I want to thank him for his very kind words and for the many conversations we had about fisheries conservation.
As someone who has spent his entire career in natural resources conservation, nothing could be more important. As a member of Parliament for a rural natural resource area, it is absolutely critical that the needs of local people, local residents and the natural resources community be taken into account when MPAs or any other conservation programs are put in place. When we do that, we will get way better conservation.
View Terry Beech Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Terry Beech Profile
2017-10-16 12:32 [p.14097]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to talk about Bill C-55. The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard has been given a clear mandate to protect Canada's three oceans, our coasts, our waterways, and our fisheries to ensure that they remain healthy for the benefit of future generations. This is a commitment that I take very seriously and personally. I am extremely honoured that my first piece of legislation as the parliamentary secretary to the minister is for such a worthy cause.
The Oceans Act is a fundamental tool that Canadians rely upon to ensure the future health of our marine ecosystems. A pristine and abundant environmental ecosystem is the greatest underlying economic driver that we have.
Specific to today's debate, the Government of Canada is committed to meeting Aichi target 11 under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. This commits us to conserving 10% of our coastal and marine areas through the establishment and effective management of marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures by 2020.
Canada's commitment to meet this target was confirmed again in 2015 through our support of the United Nations General Assembly 2030 sustainable development program. Our government established an interim target of protecting 5% of marine and coastal areas by the end of 2017 to show our seriousness in achieving this goal, and we will meet this standard.
The government is making progress on our marine conservation targets through co-operation and strong partnerships with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, and through a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples. These partnerships enable us to deliver real and positive changes that will preserve ecosystems and species to ensure that Canada's marine resources can continue to support sustainable industries, local economies, and our coastal communities.
Our three oceans are complex webs of ecological and human systems that need to be understood and, in many cases, protected. Marine protected areas and marine protected area networks preserve these ecological links and protect diverse marine ecosystems and species.
Canadians understand that our oceans hold many wonders and are an important source of resources. They also expect us to deliver healthier oceans for generations to come, and this legislation would help us do that. We will continue to establish marine protected areas through science-based decision-making, transparency, and in a manner that advances reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
The government has been following the five-point plan that we announced on World Oceans Day, 2016. This plan is not only guiding our efforts at home but also helping us reclaim our position as a leader on the international stage when it comes to ocean protection. The five-point plan includes advancing areas of interest toward designation as marine protected areas, such as the 140,000 square kilometres of ocean off the west coast of Vancouver Island that was identified for protection earlier this summer. The plan also includes the goal of establishing MPAs faster, based on results of scientific study and thorough consultations. As mentioned previously by the Prime Minister, Canada has taken important steps toward its 5% target, having now achieved 3.63%, or almost 209,000 square kilometres of marine and coastal protection across our three oceans.
It currently takes an average of seven years to designate a marine protected area under the Oceans Act. It requires time to undertake scientific assessments and socio-economic studies, as well as to conduct consultations with governments, indigenous groups, and stakeholders. These are important steps that cannot be eliminated, as they will ensure that a marine protected area will achieve its intended objectives while supporting local culture, the economy, and other needs. That said, a very clear understanding of what needs to be protected typically emerges well before all the data is compiled.
The amendments to the Oceans Act under Bill C-55 propose solutions that would help us protect critical and unique areas of Canada's oceans faster, without sacrificing the necessary scientific and consultative processes. The amendments will ensure that collaboration continues, requiring provinces, territories, indigenous groups, industry, and other stakeholders to be a part of both the establishment and management processes. Essentially, Bill C-55 proposes amendments that would provide an additional tool that would allow for interim protection of areas requiring protection through a ministerial order. This interim protection would be done following initial science and consultations, which would take around 24 months. Following this step, the full federal regulatory process would continue to formally designate the marine protected area within five years.
These amendments would ensure that when it is needed, an interim marine protected area could be put in place. New activities that risk further harm to ocean ecosystems, habitat, or marine life would not be allowed to occur in these interim protected zones. These amendments not only respect current activities but also the need to conduct comprehensive consultations and scientific research before a final marine protected area is established. The time frame to fully establish a marine protected area may still be up to seven years, but there could be some level of interim protection in place within the first two. No longer can a lack of 100% scientific certainty be used to delay or prevent the protection of a sensitive marine area that Canadians are counting on us collectively within the House to protect.
This is a policy that is entirely in lockstep with the precautionary approach, a founding principle of conservation in Canada. To put it another way, an interim marine protected area would essentially freeze the footprint of ongoing activities. Under this concept, only ongoing activities, meaning those activities occurring within one year before the interim protection is in place, would be allowed to continue. For example, current fishing activities, or fishing activities for which a moratorium is in place but licences are still held, would be considered ongoing activities.
To further support this new concept, which is integral to the creation of an interim marine protected area, Bill C-55 also includes amendments that would require application of the precautionary principle when deciding whether to designate new marine protected areas. This means that incomplete information or a lack of absolute certainty, 100% scientific certainty, as I previously described it, would not be justification for avoiding protection where there is a risk to the biodiversity in the marine ecosystem.
Bill C-55 also includes modernized, updated, and strengthened enforcement powers, fines, and punishments under the Oceans Act. The amendments and additions proposed in Bill C-55 align with other environmental laws, such as the Environmental Enforcement Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
The proposed amendments to the Oceans Act have received broad support during outreach efforts to discuss the bill. Canadians recognize that the amendments would not short-circuit the development of sound science or cut off people's opportunity to collaborate and be consulted on the development of marine protected areas. Instead, they would ensure that protection could be put in place more quickly in the interests of all Canadians. We would be able to act on initial science and information to help keep these areas safe while the additional research, engagement, and regulatory processes are worked through.
Supporting the health of our oceans is necessary to ensure that future generations will be able to rely on the unique and precious marine ecosystems and resources that underlie our environment and our economy. It should go without saying, but Canadians are counting on us to protect our oceans more than ever before, a resource that at times we have too often taken for granted.
I invite everyone in the House to support Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act, to ensure the protection of our oceans not only today but for generations to come.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-10-16 12:44 [p.14098]
There you have it, Madam Speaker. The parliamentary secretary has just admitted that he is not aware of the standards that we aspire to attain. Our hon. colleague from Windsor West brought up a good point. Again, we are letting international parties outside of Canada influence our decision-making and policy. This is the argument that Conservatives have been presenting for some time now.
I previously asked my hon. colleague, the parliamentary secretary, about the precautionary principle and he said that it is the reason the government may not be able to do the full consultation and may have to designate an area a marine protected area immediately. This is what we are arguing now. He did not answer the question about the precautionary principle and the criteria for invoking it.
Will he not agree with me that for true consultation, we have to make sure that local stakeholders are engaged at the very beginning and that we not have a top-down process?
View Terry Beech Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Terry Beech Profile
2017-10-16 12:45 [p.14099]
Madam Speaker, I will agree with one aspect of what the member opposite said and disagree with another.
At the start of his question, he said that we do not understand the individual principles we are applying to MPAs. Of course, we do, but when it comes to specific answers on very detailed legislation, I want to make sure that the member opposite gets a very specific response.
In terms of my previous answer on the precautionary principle, it is an underlying principle that underlies all kinds of decisions we make within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, including TAC decisions for various fisheries right across the country. In instances where we are not sure if we are causing harm to biodiversity, we take precautions. That is the definition of the precautionary principle, and it is exactly what we are doing with these amendments to the Oceans Act.
The other aspect of the question is whether consultations are required and/or necessary. The government agrees with that 100%. The average MPA length is seven years. After this amendment, it would still be seven years. The only difference is that there will be an additional tool after 24 months that would allow us to take additional actions to protect our oceans when necessary.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2017-10-16 12:47 [p.14099]
Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to this bill today.
In his mandate letter, the Prime Minister directed the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to increase the proportion of Canada's protected marine and coastal areas to 5% by 2017, and to 10% by 2020.
Before addressing various concerns with this bill, I want to comment on the feasibility of these targets and on the importance of advancing policies and legislation that actually deliver on intentions. The Liberals are hoping to reach 5% protected marine and coastal areas in three months from now. As of June this year, approximately 1.5% of coastal areas and 11% of land and inland water were protected spaces in Canada. It will be a very short time period between the Liberals pushing this bill through the House of Commons and the deadline they have set. The outcomes of either not meeting the deadline they have set and the target for protected spaces in that anticipated timeline, or reaching that timeline, but with insufficient consultation, research, and environmental and economic impact analysis, are both likely scenarios.
Bill C-55 would amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to allow the government to act unilaterally without consultation. The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard would be able to act on political whims, selecting areas and prohibiting activities without consultation and without rationalizing the decisions publicly with the science and evidence about which Liberals always love to talk a big game. What is it about these Liberals and consultation or, more accurately, their lack of consultation under the guise and repeated claims that they actually do consult?
The amendments would allow the minister of fisheries and oceans, five years from the day an area is given designation, to make it a permanent marine protected area or remove the designation all together. Canadians whose livelihoods depend on marine and coastal areas, people who work in commercial or recreational fisheries, researchers, scientists, academics, and industry, are all going to be left in limbo. This is becoming a typical pattern. It seems that the Liberals are satisfied to keep talking about how important consulting is to them but not actually doing it, and especially if there is a chance that the outcome is not what they already want.
During an ongoing study on marine protected areas at the fisheries and oceans committee, witnesses gave testimony on the process of designating MPAs. Callum Roberts, a professor at the University of York, said, “If you want to build on a process of trust and goodwill, you don't then ignore what your stakeholders say...if in the end all you were going to do was cherry-pick...”
Chris Sporer of the Pacific Halibut Management Association of British Columbia said that “if fishermen are forced from productive, high catch per unit effort areas to less productive” areas, there will be an increase in fishing time and an increased cost for less fish. He said that the process needs to take that into consideration and evaluate the ecological consequences of displacing fishing efforts.
One of the points that the minister of fisheries and oceans raised in his speech on this bill was consultation and reconciliation with first nations people. However, Canadians are learning that this another subject on which the Liberals like to talk a lot. As the Hereditary Chiefs' Council of Lax Kw'alaams from British Columbia stated on the proposed Liberal oil tanker ban, “We absolutely do not support big...environmental NGO’s (who make their money from opposing natural resource projects) dictating government policy and resource developments within our traditional territories;”
The Liberals and the left often imply that all first nations people are against natural resource development, which is what they are doing here, yet AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde says that some 500 of the 630 first nations in Canada are open to pipelines and petroleum development. Natural resource development is the largest private sector employer of first nations people across the country, and first nations across Canada support crucial energy infrastructure like Trans Mountain and energy east.
The Liberals need to do more than talk about consultation, and they should prioritize the needs and the future of Canadians across this country over their political agenda. In addition to speeding up the designation process for marine protected areas by allowing the minister to arbitrarily designate an area to fulfill a campaign commitment, the Liberals are also proposing amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act that would prohibit oil and gas activities in marine areas where interim protection is declared unilaterally. Their amendments would give the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairsthe unilateral power to cancel proponents' oil and gas interests, wiping out leases and assets, and eliminating investment and job opportunities for Canadians.
This arbitrary and unilateral authority to extinguish development rights signals significant investment risk for Canadian offshore development. It is yet another decision that will undermine certainty, clarity, and predictability in Canada as a place to do business, and yet another way that the Liberals are violating competitiveness and confidence in Canada as a world-leading energy producer. These kinds of actions cause investment to leave Canada, and it kills jobs.
The Liberals are yet again specifically targeting the Canadian oil and gas sector. Considering the totality of Liberal policy and legislative decisions around energy during the past two years, it is completely rational and almost unavoidable to conclude that the Liberals are trying, any which way they can, to stop oil and gas development in Canada.
Canada has a thriving offshore oil and gas industry, with most of the activity in Atlantic Canada. More than 9,000 people work in the sector directly, and thousands more are employed indirectly. There are more than 600 supply and service companies, and there has been over $40 billion worth of capital spending in offshore development in Atlantic Canada since the mid 1990s. Canadian oil and gas companies also have interests in northern Canada and in B.C.
The Liberals are not considering the economic consequences of once again creating more chaos and uncertainty for energy proponents. Projects that are in provincial and federal regulatory review processes, and approved projects that are moving forward right now, will be put in jeopardy by these proposed amendments.
Continuing down this path will destroy economic opportunities in Canada. It is not balanced. Canadians witnessed this first-hand less than two weeks ago with the cancellation of energy east. After spending $1 billion, and years into the regulatory review, harmful Liberal policies forced TransCanada to abandon a project that would have added $55 billion to Canada's GDP, created over 14,000 jobs, and brought benefits to communities across the entire country.
Similarly, the Liberals are harming Canadian energy development with their proposed oil tanker ban. Somehow, the Liberals have managed to propose a bill that does not actually stop American or foreign oil tankers, or tankers carrying anything other than crude oil, from being in a designated area.
Likewise, the Liberals have announced a five-year moratorium on drilling in the Arctic, completely ignoring the very Canadians it negatively affects. The Premier of Nunavut said, “We have been promised by Ottawa that they would consult and make decisions based on meaningful discussion. So far, that hasn't happened..”. Premier Bob McLeod of the Northwest Territories added, “It feels like a step backward..”.
The proposed new powers of the ministers could be devastating to energy investment in Canada. Paul Barnes, from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said this in the fisheries committee:
...our biggest fear would arise if there are already licences in that particular area, because there would obviously have been a decision made by an oil and gas company or a consortium of companies to invest in an area. If a subsequent decision is made to have a marine protected area placed over those licences, potentially affecting the ability to do work, that's obviously lost investment and doesn't send a very positive signal to the investment community regarding Canada's competitiveness.
The federal government has a variety of roles to play to meet Canada's conservation goals, to be sure, but it should not be to eliminate the oil and gas sector in Canada.
The Liberals constant attacks are particularly galling, given the reality that Canadian energy operates under the strongest regulatory controls, with the best compliance and transparency in the world. Energy benefits all Canadians. It is the second-biggest investor in the Canadian economy, and it is Canada's second-largest export.
Recently, Nunavut cabinet minister Johnny Mike addressed the Liberals' lack of consultation on Bill C-55, saying that his residents “are well aware of the potential in our offshore areas, which is used for economic opportunities today by interests from outside of Nunavut. ...this proposed bill for marine management and petroleum industry sector management which is being developed seemingly turns its legislative back on the people of Pangnirtung.” He said, “The federal government never consulted any northerners or my constituents on what concerns they may have...”.
This is a disturbing trend in the Liberal approach. Canada has a strong and world-renowned track record of environmental stewardship, and ongoing innovation that minimizes the environmental footprint and enhances the sustainability of responsible natural resource development. That economic and industrial development, in turn, provides jobs for hundreds of thousands of Canadians everywhere. It generates revenue that is shared across the country and lifts the standard of living of all Canadians.
It is crucial that while Canada continues to protect the environment that it continues to be an attractive jurisdiction for investment for offshore oil and gas development.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2017-10-16 12:59 [p.14101]
Madam Speaker, I disagree with the member opposite. I believe we have seen the government listening to what Canadians have to say, in many different ways, and consulting with Canadians. The current department, which has done a phenomenal job in all regions of the country, is bringing forward solid legislation. I believe we will find that all Canadians are connected in one way or another to our oceans. We understand and appreciate how important they are. With respect to what we are talking about, the government is committed to increasing the proportion of Canada's protected marine and coastal areas to 5% this year, and by 10% in 2020. Would the member not agree, in principle, that is a good thing and a reflection of what Canadians would want government to do?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2017-10-16 12:59 [p.14101]
Madam Speaker, as a first-generation Albertan with family in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick, I certainly agree with the importance of marine areas and oceans, and the connection that Canadians have to our coastal areas.
As I have already mentioned, the Conservatives support the protection of marine areas, and policies and legislation that are actually about environmental stewardship, environmental conservation, and protecting air, land, and water for all Canadians. However, the expedition of these timelines, and granting ministers unilateral and arbitrary power without having to go through a diligent, comprehensive process that mandates consultation with local communities and involves publicly available economic and environmental analyses to make decisions, is a very concerning pattern. It is on those grounds that we oppose that aspect of this bill.
View Mike Bossio Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, on one hand, the member criticized the government for not going fast enough to achieve our targets. On the other hand, the member talked about the lack of consultation that happened in making draconian decisions as he reflected toward the previous government and the modus operandi on that front.
The position our government has taken is that through the consultation process, we have established a process that has time limits attached to it, so we can meet our Aichi targets. A goal of 5% next year and a goal of 10% by 2020 becomes more achievable because of the timelines. Would the member not agree that trying to reach the balance between consultation and establishing time limits so we can reach our targets toward protected spaces is a balance that should be reached?
View Brian Masse Profile
View Brian Masse Profile
2017-10-16 13:13 [p.14103]
Madam Speaker, if the member were to read the blues, he would see that I did not say that about the previous Conservative government. What I questioned was the use of the scientific community and researchers. I did not talk about consultations and timelines related to that.
As it is often heard with a lot of subjects, the Liberals believe in it. However, then there is a big but, and the but is the fact that nothing really gets done because it is a mediocre attempt to try to do something that does not really have heart behind it. That is the difference. What really takes place for real change is having the convictions. Of course we consult but we do so in a way that is earnest in trying to accomplish an objective in the true sense and following through on it, versus just consultation for appeasement, for ensuring enough people think we are actually doing something on the environment. The devil in the details in this is the minister's powers and the mere fact that the Liberals will not back away from allowing oil and gas petroleum exploration, development, and extraction. There is a hard line right there. They do not want to do it.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2017-10-16 13:15 [p.14103]
Madam Speaker, I was supposed to be with our fisheries committee, travelling in Atlantic Canada and listening to stakeholders from a number of different communities regarding the government's proposed MPA process. Bill C-55 is being rushed through, and today we are debating it while most of the members of the fisheries committee, with the exception of me and one other, are on this consultation. The Liberals like to say they are consulting and they really want to hear from Canadians, but the committee that has been tasked to consult with Canadians on this very important issue is still consulting. The government wants to rush a bill through that deals with the very issue that the committee has been studying for four to six months, hearing Canadians coast to coast to coast. Much of what we hear is that the government consultations are a sham, that they are not real.
Does my hon. colleague from Windsor West think this is curious as well, that the government is just talking about consultation so it can check a box to say that it has considered it?
View Brian Masse Profile
View Brian Masse Profile
2017-10-16 13:17 [p.14103]
Madam Speaker, my colleague brings up a good point. If the Liberals were so interested in the results on this right away, the minister could have expressed to the committee that they would like to have this legislation tabled and through the House at a certain set time. He could have asked the committee to wrap up its consultations and so forth on a specific date. That would have been the reasonable approach to take. People are being asked for input. We are spending a lot of taxpayer money to travel and to do other things to ensure they get the hearings that are so desperately needed on this issue, to have the consultation. Regardless of whether they believe in it, it is a fair opportunity. Most important, if the Liberals really cared, the minister could simply have said to the committee, “Here is a date, could you please be done by then.”
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