I call the meeting to order.
Good afternoon, everybody. I hope everybody is doing well. I know that everybody's quite excited about today's events and the fact that this is our last official act before we can all go home.
Before we get going, Minister, I want to say thank you to a number of people, starting with our clerk and our analysts.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
The Chair: We all started this journey three years ago. Richard, Shannon, T.J. and I were all original members of this committee and gang. We've come a long way since then.
Speaking for myself, I know that I never would have made it this far if it weren't for the support of everybody on this side of the table. Thank you very much. I honestly can't thank you enough. You've been tremendous. There were lots of times, I will readily admit, when I wasn't sure what I was doing.
A voice: We were going to point that out.
The Chair: Yes, I know. Actually, sometimes you did.
I also want to say thank you to all the committee members. For four years now, we've prided ourselves in having a committee in which we worked incredibly well together. We disagreed at times, but we did so respectfully.
As a result, we've had a committee that other people have looked at with envy, I think, and it's something that we should all be very, very proud of. Thanks to all of you. It's been my pleasure to work with all of you. Honestly, it has. I hope to see all of you again in the fall, and I know you feel the same way too.
Also, there are the other people behind us. They're the ones who really add a lot to this equation as well. Without all of you, none of us could do our jobs, so I want to thank everybody who's on the perimeter of this room.
Voices: Hear, hear!
The Chair: You make it all happen.
An hon. member: Except for the water people.
The Chair: Except for the water people. They want to make sure we get out of here quickly, David.
Voices: Oh, oh!
The Chair: Minister, I want to thank you. I know you've had a busy schedule for the last couple of days. We've had to move the time for this meeting a number of times, and you've been quite gracious in accommodating us and making yourself available. I believe you're in Calgary right now. We're grateful that you were able to make some time to do this.
You only have an hour, we know, so I'm going to stop talking now and turn the floor over to you. Thank you for joining us, Minister.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon, everyone.
I first of all want to acknowledge something that is on everyone's mind today, which is the passing of a colleague and a friend to many. On behalf of our government and my family, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mark Warawa, my colleague, and to our colleagues from the Conservative Party and many others who have lost a friend today.
I would also like to take a moment to recognize that I am speaking to you from Treaty No. 7 territory. Such acknowledgements are important, particularly when we are meeting to talk about doing resource development the right way. Our government's approach to the Trans Mountain expansion project and the start of the construction season is a great example of that—of resource development done right.
Let me also begin by recognizing that I know this expansion project inspires strong opinions on both sides—for and against—and with respect to both sides of the debate, I want to assure everyone that our government took the time required to do the hard work necessary to hear all voices, to consider all evidence and to be able to follow the guidance we received from the Federal Court of Appeal last August.
That included asking the National Energy Board to reconsider its recommendation, taking into account the environmental impact of project-related marine shipping. It also included relaunching phase III consultations with indigenous groups potentially impacted by the project, by doing things differently and engaging in a meaningful two-way dialogue.
On that note, I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank the many indigenous communities that welcomed me into their communities for meetings over the last several months. I appreciate your openness, your honesty and your constructive ideas and sincerity of views.
Honourable members, no matter where you stand on TMX, this decision is a positive step forward for all Canadians. It shows how in 2019, good projects can move forward when we do the hard work necessary to meet our duty to consult indigenous peoples and when we take concrete action to protect the environment for our kids, grandkids and future generations.
When we came into office, we took immediate steps to fix the broken review system the Conservatives left behind. When the risks made it too difficult for the private sector to move forward, we stepped in to save the project. When the Federal Court of Appeal made its decision back in August of 2018, we made the choice to move forward in the right way.
When we finished this process, we were able to come to the right decision to deliver for workers in our energy sector, for Albertans and for all Canadians, a decision to support a project that will create jobs, diversify markets, support clean energy and open up new avenues for indigenous economic prosperity in the process.
Where do we go from here, now that the expansion has been approved? While these are still early days, we have a clear path forward for construction to begin this season and beyond. The laid out a lot of this on Tuesday afternoon as he announced our decision. Minister expanded on some of these details when he was in Calgary yesterday, talking about the road ahead and about launching exploratory discussions with indigenous groups interested in economic participation and about using TMX's revenues to ensure Canada is a leader in providing more energy choices.
We have also heard from the Trans Mountain Corporation about both its readiness and its ambition to get started on construction. Ian Anderson, the CEO of the Trans Mountain Corporation, made this very clear yesterday.
That's also what I heard when I visited with Trans Mountain Corporation workers yesterday in Edmonton. There were a number of contractors there. They are ready to proceed on the expansion of the Edmonton terminal, as well as on many of the pumping stations that are required to be built in this expansion.
The message is clear. We want to get shovels in the ground this season, while continuing to do things differently in the right way.
The NEB will soon issue an amended certificate of public convenience and necessity for the project. It will also ensure that TMC has met the NEB's binding pre-construction conditions. The Trans Mountain Corporation, meanwhile, will continue to advance its applications for municipal, provincial and federal permits. We stand ready to get the federal permits moving.
As all of that is happening, our government continues to consult with indigenous groups, building and expanding our dialogue with indigenous groups as part of phase IV consultations by discussing the potential impacts of the regulatory process on aboriginal and treaty rights and by working with indigenous groups to implement the eight accommodation measures that were co-developed during consultations, including building marine response capacity, restoring fish and fish habitats, enhancing spill prevention, monitoring cumulative effects and conducting further land studies.
We are also moving forward with the NEB's 16 recommendations for enhancing marine safety, protecting species at risk, improving how shipping is managed and boosting emergency response.
What is the bottom line? There is no doubt that there are a lot of moving parts. This is a project that stretches over 1,000 kilometres, but it is moving forward in the right way, as we have already proven with our $1.5-billion oceans protection plan, our $167-million whale initiative, our additional $61.5 million to protect the southern resident killer whale, and our investment of all of the new corporate tax revenues, as well as profits earned from the sale of TMX, in the clean energy projects that will power our homes, businesses and communities for generations to come.
Before making a decision, we needed to be satisfied that we had met our constitutional obligations, including our legal duty to consult with indigenous groups potentially affected by the project, upholding the honour of the Crown and addressing the issues identified by the Federal Court of Appeal last summer.
We have done that. We accomplished this by doing the hard work required by the court, not by invoking sections of the Constitution that don't apply or by launching fruitless appeals, both of which would have taken longer than the process we brought in.
While Conservatives were focused on making up solutions that wouldn't work, we focused on moving this process forward in the right way. We have confirmation of that, including from the Honourable Frank Iacobucci, former Supreme Court justice, who was appointed as a federal representative to provide us with oversight and direction on the revised consultation and accommodation process.
I will close where I began, which is by saying that we have done the hard work necessary to move forward on TMX in the right way, proving that Canada can get good resource projects approved and that we can grow the economy and deliver our natural resources to international markets to support workers, their families and their communities, all while safeguarding the environment, investing in clean growth and advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
Mr. Chair, I think this is a good place to stop and invite questions.
Thank you so much once again for having me here today.
Just prior to my asking questions of the minister, I'd like to applaud the chair for his exceptional work and leadership for this committee. You've done excellent work.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
Hon. Kent Hehr: Minister, it's a thrill to have you back. I was in Calgary yesterday for Minister 's presentation and his address to the Economic Club of Canada in Calgary. The excitement was present in the air, and there was a hop in the step of people in the room, which was good to see.
I think it's fair to say that last year's Federal Court of Appeal decision came somewhat out of the blue. The court said—and it was clear—that we needed to do our indigenous consultation better and our environmental considerations better.
I was chatting with Hannah Wilson in my office this morning, and I learned that this is happening not only here in Canada but also in the United States. In the case of Keystone XL, Enbridge Line 3 and other energy projects around the United States, the courts have been clear that this is the way things need to be done. Our government is trying to see that through, with indigenous consultation and environmental protections being at the forefront.
What was done differently this time, in consideration of the court decision that we were working with?
The process we put in place this time was quite different from what was done in past consultations.
First of all, we co-developed the engagement process with input from indigenous communities. We provided proper training to our staff and we doubled the capacity of our consultation teams. They worked tirelessly to engage in a meaningful two-way dialogue.
We also provided participation funding to indigenous communities so they could properly participate in the consultation process. We held more meetings and we met with indigenous communities in their communities. I personally held 45 meetings with indigenous communities and met with more than 65 leaders to listen to and engage with their concerns.
I am very proud of the outcome. We are offering accommodations to indigenous communities to deal with their concerns over fish, fish habitat, protection of cultural sites and burial grounds, as well as issues related to oil spills, the health of the Salish Sea, the southern resident killer whales, underwater noise and many others.
The accommodations we are offering, Mr. Chair, actually go beyond mitigating the impact of this project and will also go a long way toward resolving some of the issues and repairing some of the damage that has been done through industrial development in the Salish Sea. They will respond to many of the outstanding issues that communities have identified, related not only to this project but also to many of the other cumulative effects of the development that communities have experienced.
First of all, I'd like to thank the member so much for her leadership on sustainability. We've often discussed how we can provide options for people so that they can make choices that are sustainable.
I want to assure Chris and I want to assure the environmental leaders and people in your constituency that building the Trans Mountain pipeline does not in any way compromise or hinder our ability to meet our Paris commitments. As a matter of fact, it will help us accelerate our investments into a clean economy, into a green economy, and allow us to meet our Paris commitments. The revenue we will generate from this project will be half a billion dollars once the construction is completed. Multiply that over the next 20 or 30 years. On top of the billions of dollars we're already investing into fighting climate change, that will allow us to do more.
At the same time, we also understand that the production that is happening in the oil sector now needs to move. The best way, the safest way and the most cost-effective way to do that is through pipelines, not through railways, as railways cross so many urban centres. As I heard from many of my colleagues, they would prefer oil moving by pipelines, not rail, because rail, even though it's safe, is not as safe as pipelines, so this is a very good investment. It will allow putting a price on pollution, and it's leadership that our government is demonstrating.
Investing in a thousand public transit projects throughout this country, having better fuel standards, investing in new technologies that allow emissions to go down, building RV electrical vehicle charging stations and investing millions of dollars in incentives for people to buy electric vehicles—all of those things are making a real difference and giving people choices so that they can reduce their impact on the environment.
We are committed. I can tell you that I am so excited about what we are doing. With the building of this pipeline and taking action on climate change, we can grow our economy. We can create thousands of jobs for hard-working Canadians and at the same time make a real difference in the protection of the environment.
Minister, as a person who is part Ojibwa and as a person who represents nine indigenous communities in Lakeland that are all involved in oil and gas and support pipelines, I really hope that this time the indigenous consultation process implemented by your government holds up. I did want to say this: I thought the one that you guys implemented in 2016, before you approved it, would have held up too. I mean that sincerely, and I hope, for the sake of all Canadians and for the execution of the project, that this remains the case. There was of course a missed opportunity in cancelling the northern gateway and losing the opportunity to redo it.
I just want to clarify what we are saying in terms of your government's mismanagement of the timelines around ensuring certainty around the permits, the contracts and the hearings, and why this is a detriment to the project.
What we are talking about is that when the NEB recommendation for approval was made in April—for the second time—your cabinet was supposed to have responded on May 22, and I suggest to you that every Canadian would think it would be utter insanity to think that your cabinet was even considering rejecting the Trans Mountain expansion, given that you spent $4.5 billion on it in tax dollars last year.
What we are talking about is the timeline that elapsed between the NEB's second approval of the Trans Mountain expansion and the announcement your cabinet made on Tuesday. That is when all of the details and all of the specifics should have been firmed up and certain so that the Tuesday announcement was not just literally the same announcement you made in November of 2016, after which literally nothing got done. Construction could have been able to start immediately. You could have been accountable to Canadians and taxpayers by giving the precise start date, end date, completion date, operation and cost.
It's mind-boggling to me that a federally owned project with a federally owned builder, with a federal government decision, failed to secure the federal government authorizations, as well as the provincial and municipal authorizations that surely you would have known were required for construction to start. That is the certainty you must provide Canadians so that they believe you that the Trans Mountain expansion will actually be built.
I think it's very clear that there never has been a concrete plan for construction to start.