Mr. Speaker, I rise today mindful that we are on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
I am honoured to begin the debate at second reading of Bill , an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. This bill clarifies the legislative and regulatory framework for the development of key regions of Canada's north, the Mackenzie Valley and the offshore areas of the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort Sea. These regions have vast economic potential but they are also environmentally sensitive. Moreover, these regions have sustained indigenous people and communities who have lived in the north since time immemorial. Those communities, their organizations and governments have a right to a say in how the region is developed.
The bill before us addresses two different acts of Parliament that affect resource development in the north: the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.
Let me begin with the amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. I remind the House that in March 2014, the Northwest Territories Devolution Act transferred control of public lands and waters in the Northwest Territories to the territorial government. It is that government that now makes decisions on resource development. It receives 50% of resource revenue within the specific annual limit.
We know the abysmal track record of the Conservatives when it came to respecting and honouring indigenous rights and supporting the people of the north. That act was the perfect example. In 2014, through Bill , the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, the Harper government completely changed the land and water board structure without adequate consultation and in complete ignorance of indigenous rights. Those changes became very controversial within the region as the current knows well. Through many conversations, consultations and meetings, there were many good points brought forward by people in that area.
The Harper government removed three regulatory authorities: the Gwich’in Land and Water Board, the Sahtu Land and Water Board and the Wek'èezhìi Land and Water Board. The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board was to remain as a single consolidated land and water board for the Mackenzie Valley. That was what the Conservative government wanted but it is not what the indigenous governments wanted. The indigenous governments and organizations correctly argued that their authorities in land and water management are guaranteed by their land claims and by their self-government agreements and they should be honoured. The Conservative government could not unilaterally abolish their land and water boards. This was just another sad example of the Harper government's tendency to trample on the rights of indigenous people.
In February 2015, the Northwest Territories Supreme Court issued an injunction that halted the provisions that included the restructuring of the land and water boards. The injunction preserved the existing regulatory processes until the court could provide further instruction. At the same time, other measures included in section 253(2) were affected, including a regulation-making authority for cost recovery and consultation, administrative monetary penalties, development certificates, regional studies and the terms of board members. The Conservatives appealed the injunction in March 2015. We heard from stakeholders that that situation not only created mistrust on the part of indigenous governments and organizations toward the Canadian government, but it also created uncertainty that discouraged the responsible development of the region's resources.
In the fall of 2015, in order to better put us on a path to reconciliation and economic development, the then minister of indigenous and northern affairs met with indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories to find a way forward. The minister announced that she had directed the department to pause its appeal and start the exploratory discussions.
Rather than taking this fight and continuing it in the courts, our goal has been to work with indigenous governments and organizations to identify potential solutions. In the summer of 2016, the minister met with indigenous governments and organizations, and in September 2016, she wrote to the relevant parties to officially begin a formal consultation process. The consultations have been thorough and effective. They have included indigenous governments, organizations, the Government of the Northwest Territories and industry. This is the way to move forward on matters affecting resource development in Canada's north.
The Conservatives' attempt to unilaterally change the regulatory regime set the relationship with the Northwest Territories and indigenous people back by many years. However, with this bill, we are getting back on track and we are working with them to move forward.
The bill removes the board amalgamation provisions and confirms the continuation of the Sahtu, Gwich'in and Wek'èezhìi land and water boards with the jurisdiction to regulate land and water use in their management regions. These regional boards will also continue to be panels of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board will continue to have jurisdiction for the regulation of land and water, including the insurance of land use permits and water licences in the area of the Mackenzie Valley where land claims have not been settled and for transboundary projects.
In effect, this bill repeals the provisions of the Conservatives that challenged the rights of indigenous governing bodies under their comprehensive land claim agreements. Other provisions of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act that were included in the Northwest Territories Devolution Act but were halted by the court injunction will also be reintroduced in this bill.
Specifically, the bill provides for the Governor in Council to make regulations pertaining to cost recovery to indigenous consultation. Development certificates will set out the conditions under which a project can proceed. Administrative monetary penalties can now be established through regulations for violations relating to these certificates. Provisions will allow the establishment of committees for the conduct of regional studies. The bill also provides for the extension of the terms of board members to allow them to complete a proceeding that is under way. This will ensure there is continuity in the process and in the decision-making.
We are setting out a positive way forward for the development of the Mackenzie Valley. It is a way forward that acknowledges the rights of indigenous governments and organizations and will provide certainty to industry. When we listen to northerners when developing policies that affect them, great things are possible and it leads the way to better prosperity for all people in the north.
The second part of this bill involves the Canada Petroleum Resources Act which governs the drilling of oil and gas that takes place offshore in the Arctic. Those offshore drilling operations face a number of technical and logical challenges, including a short operating season and sea ice. We do not yet have the technology to resolve these challenges, but I have confidence that there will be technological solutions that will enable offshore drilling to be undertaken safely in the future.
To get to these solutions, we must be guided by the knowledge of the nature of the challenges. That knowledge will be shaped by science, including both marine science and climate science. We need evidence for effective decision-making that will help us reach the goal of responsible resource development. This science is still in its early stages. The technology will eventually follow. In the meantime, we must take steps to protect a sensitive and vulnerable environment in the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean.
In December 2016, the announced a moratorium on new offshore drilling in our Arctic waters. The moratorium will be tested every five years through a science-based review. This review, undertaken in collaboration with our northern partners, will provide evidence that will guide future oil and gas activity.
The bill before us would complement the 2016 moratorium and protect the interests of licence holders by freezing the terms of their licences for the duration of the prohibition on oil and gas activity. The licences will not expire during the moratorium. This will allow us to preserve the existing rights until the five-year science-based review is completed. At that point, we will have a better understanding of strategic plans and potential decisions in collaboration with our northern partners, indigenous governments and the governments of the north.
I am pleased to inform the House that the companies that currently hold the existing oil and gas rights and our northern partners have been supportive of responsible development of the Arctic offshore and the strategic path forward. They understand the importance of protecting the unique Arctic environment while pursuing safe, responsible oil and gas activities, activities that create jobs and economic growth in northern indigenous communities. They appreciate the importance of the science-based review in establishing future decisions on Arctic offshore development.
These amendments are fair to existing rights holders and allow us to go forward with a serious review of the science in order to better understand the potential impacts and benefits of oil and gas extraction in the Beaufort Sea. This is sound, sustainable management and is consistent with what our government is already doing regarding science in the north.
The bill before us ensures that indigenous governments and organizations will have a strong voice in the development of resources in their territories. Our goal is to put in place a robust regime that will protect Canada's rich natural environment. It will support a resilient resource sector and at the same time respect the rights and interests of indigenous people.
This bill is part of an ongoing journey toward meaningful reconciliation with indigenous peoples and the protection of our lands and waters. In this way, we are able to foster economic opportunities and growth and protect the environment for future generations.
I urge all hon. members to join me in supporting this bill and supporting the wishes, hopes and aspirations of those who live in Canada's north.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill , an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
Before I get into the details of the bill, it is important to look at the context with respect to what has been happening over the past three years and what is starting to be a real pattern of the Liberal government. The decisions it makes consistently increase red tape and bureaucracy, and are mostly anti-resource development. This bill is no different.
I would like to talk about a few areas to show the context, which will then show that this follows a pattern that adds to what is becoming an increasing concern in the country, and that is the ability to move our natural resources forward.
When the took office, there were three private companies willing to invest more than $30 billion to build three nation-building pipelines that would have generated tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic opportunity. The Prime Minister and his cabinet killed two and put the Trans Mountain expansion on life support. Bill would block all future pipelines.
In addition, the government has made a number of arbitrary decisions regarding natural resource development, with absolutely no consultation with those impacted. Today, we only need to look at what is happening in Alberta with the hundreds of thousands of job losses. Who has ever heard of a premier having to decrease the production of a needed resource throughout the country and the world because we simply cannot get resources to the market? This is because of the government's failure.
The northern gateway project was approved by the former government in June 2014. It had a number of conditions on it, just like the current Trans Mountain project does.
In November 2015, just one month after being elected, the killed the project without hesitation. It was subject to a court challenge. When we did finally hear what came out of that court challenge, to be frank, it was nothing that could not be overcome. We could have dealt with that.
The court decision told the to engage in consultation in a more appropriate and balanced way. The court really gave what I would call a recipe for perhaps fixing some problems with the process.
Did he wait for the court decision? No. He went out and killed it flat. With this approved pipeline, he did not wait for a court decision or wait to see how it could move forward. He decided that he did not want that one.
I think we are all pretty aware of the Trans Mountain pipeline. It has been moving along for many years. We know that many first nations support it and hope to see it go through, as they see enormous opportunities for their communities. Of course, others are against it.
What happened in this case? When the Liberals came to government, they decided they had to have an additional consultation process. However, did they follow the directions of the court in the northern gateway decision in which the court was very clear about what the government had to do to do consultations properly? Apparently not. When the court decision came down, we learned otherwise. To be frank, it was much to my surprise, because the Liberals talked about how well they were consulting and that they were putting this additional process in place. The court said that the Liberals did not do the job. What they did was send a note-taker and not a decision-maker.
The fact that the Liberals did not consult properly on the Trans Mountain pipeline is strictly on their laps, as they had very clear guidance from the northern gateway decision and they did not do what they needed to do. They should be ashamed of themselves. Had they done a proper process, they likely would not have had to buy the pipeline, the pipeline would be in construction right now and we would be in a lot better place as a country. With respect to the Trans Mountain pipeline, the blame for where we are on that pipeline lies strictly on the laps of the Liberals.
I also want to note, in spite of what people say, that the courts have said the process was okay, so it has nothing to do with environmental legislation by the previous government or with anything the Conservatives had put in place. It was the Liberals' execution of a flawed process.
Energy east was another one. The former Liberal MP who is now the mayor of Montreal was very opposed to it. I am not sure of all the pieces that went into the Liberals' decision-making, but all of a sudden, the downstream and upstream emissions of energy east had to be measured. As people have rightfully asked, has that happened for the tankers coming down the St. Lawrence from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela? Did that happen with the bailout for Bombardier?
The Liberals created regulatory barriers. Trans Mountain hung on for a long time before it finally said no go. I think Energy east saw the writing on the wall, knowing that the government was not going to be its friend and create an environment to get the work done. It could see the new rules coming into place, so it walked. What a double standard. Canadians who extract energy in an environmentally sound and environmentally friendly way have had standards applied to their ability to move oil through a pipeline that no other country in the world imposes on companies in terms of upstream and downstream emissions.
Next on the plate is Bill . A number of former Liberals are very open about their concerns about Bill C-69. Martha Hall Findlay, a very respected former Liberal MP, said in a recent Globe and Mail article that the new environmental legislation, Bill C-69, “is the antithesis of what this regulatory reform effort hopes to achieve.... [I]n its 392 pages, the word 'competitiveness' appears only twice. Neither the word 'economy' nor the phrase 'economic growth' appear at all.” We have new environmental legislation that most people call the no-more-pipeline bill.
Martha Hall Findlay went on to note that this bill would create enormous uncertainty, more red tape and increased court challenges, and not only in the energy sector but in all other infrastructure in Canada for years to come. I do not know if members are starting to see a pattern: the Liberals have killed pipelines and put in legislation preventing new pipelines from being built. I am not sure why the process with Trans Mountain was not proper; it should have been. Everyone knew what they had to do, but they did not.
Another piece of legislation that is focused on killing opportunities in this country is the tanker moratorium, Bill . The government loves to talk about how it consults, consults and consults, but it only consults to get the answer it wants. There was a large group of first nations that had a huge opportunity with the Eagle Spirit pipeline that would go through its territory. It had plans, it was moving along, everything was in place, and all a sudden Bill C-48, the tanker moratorium, put its dreams and hopes to rest for a while. The interesting thing is that there was no consultation at all. There was no notice about this tanker ban, so how can there be consultation when the government does not want to do something, but vice-versa when it wants to do something?
Now I will get into the details of Bill . In 2016, there was an oil and gas moratorium in the Beaufort Sea, and the interesting thing about that announcement was that for most people in Canada, it came out of nowhere. The did not even have the respect to hold conversations with the territorial premiers and the people most impacted. He made the announcement down in Washington, D.C., along with an “Oh, by the way” phone call 20 minutes before announcing this measure that would impact those communities. That is absolutely shameful. The announced a moratorium on all oil and gas development in the Beaufort Sea when he was down in the United States with President Obama at the time.
I want to read a few quotes by the community leaders subsequently. The Northwest Territories premier Bob McLeod issued a “red alert...for urgent national debate on the future of the Northwest Territories”. He wrote:
The promise of the North is fading and the dreams of northerners are dying as we see a re-emergence of colonialism....
Whether it be ill conceived ways of funding social programs, or new and perplexing restrictions on our economic development, our spirit and energy are being sapped.
That is a very different from what we just heard from the parliamentary secretary when she talked about the previous government. It is her government. Did she hear those words from the premier? He said, “our spirit and our energy are being sapped”.
Mr. McLeod further wrote:
Staying in or trying to join the middle class will become a distant dream for many....
This means that northerners, through their democratically elected government, need to have the power to determine their own fates and the practice of decisions being made by bureaucrats and governments in Ottawa must come to an end. Decisions about the North should be made in the North. The unilateral decision by the federal government, made without consultation, to impose a moratorium on arctic offshore oil and gas development is but one example of our economic self-determination being thwarted by Ottawa.
Then Nunavut premier, Peter Taptuna, told the CBC on December 22, 2016:
We do want to be getting to a state where we can make our own determination of our priorities, and the way to do that is gain meaningful revenue from resource development. And at the same time, when one potential source of revenue is taken off the table, it puts us back at practically Square 1 where Ottawa will make the decisions for us.
Merven Gruben, the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk, told the indigenous and northern affairs committee on October 22, 2018:
I was talking to [the Liberal MP for the Northwest Territories]...and he said, “Yes, Merven, we should be doing something. We should be helping you guys.”
I agree the Liberals should be helping us. They shut down our offshore gasification and put a moratorium right across the whole freaking Arctic without even consulting us. They never said a word to us.
We're proud people who like to work for a living. We're not used to getting social assistance and that kind of stuff. Now we're getting tourists coming up, but that's small change compared to when you work in oil and gas and you're used to that kind of living. Our people are used to that. We [don't want to be just] selling trinkets and T-shirts.
To go to the actual bill, what we can see is that in spite of the lofty words by the parliamentary secretary, there has been a real lack of consultation on issues that are very important to northerners.
Part A would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to reverse provisions that would have consolidated the Mackenzie Valley land and water boards into one. These provisions, of course, were introduced by the former Conservative government with Bill , the Northwest Territories devolution act. Part B, of course, would amend the the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.
As I have already noted, this is another anti-energy policy from the Liberal government that is driving investment out of Canada, costing Canadian workers their jobs and increasing poverty rates in the north. Like Bill before it, Bill would politicize oil and gas extraction by expanding the powers of cabinet to block economic development, and would add to increasing red tape that proponents must face before even getting shovels in the ground. Further, Bill C-88 reveals a full rejection of the calls by elected territorial leaders for much of the self-autonomy they desire.
We used to look at the north as being an opportunity to be a key economic driver for decades to come. Other Arctic nations, including China and Russia, are exploring possibilities. This could be something that is very important for our sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the Liberals are creating great swaths of protected land. I want to know why that change was originally made to the water and land boards.
In 2007, Neil McCrank was commissioned to write a report on improving the regulatory and environmental assessment regimes in Canada's north. As outlined in the McCrank report, entitled, “The Road to Improvement”, the current regulatory process in the Northwest Territories is complex, costly, unpredictable and time-consuming. The merging of the three boards into one was a key recommendation. Part of the report stated:
This approach would address the complexity and the capacity issues inherent to the current model by making more efficient use of expenditures and administrative resources. It would also allow for administrative practices to be understandable and consistent.
If these recommendations on restructuring and improvements are implemented, the regulatory systems in the North will be able to ensure orderly and responsible development of its resources.
Regarding the move to consolidate the boards, the report went on to state:
...is not meant to diminish or reduce the influence that Aboriginal people have on resource management in the North. Rather, it is meant as an attempt to allow for this influence in a practical way, while at the same time enabling responsible resource development...
I want to note that it was Bill , which the Liberals and NDP voted for, that included that component. It was supported on all sides of the House. It was also included as an available option in the three modern land claim agreements. Bill C-15 looked to streamline the regulatory process and to place time limits on reviews and provide consistency. It was never meant to impact impact indigenous communities and their ability to make decisions. It was to streamline the regulatory process, place time limits on reviews and consolidate federal decision-making.
Certainly, I see this component of the bill as a move backward rather than forward. At this point, it would appear that all of the communities involved want to move in this direction. I believe that is unfortunate. The model I wish they would have worked toward would have been a much more positive one in doing the work they needed to do.
The final part is the drilling moratorium, which is perhaps the most troublesome. It would allow the federal cabinet to prohibit oil and gas activity in the Northwest Territories or offshore of Nunavut if it were in the national interest. This is a much broader power than currently exists in the act, which only allows Canada to prohibit that activity for safety or environmental reasons, or social problems of a serious nature.
I note that the licences set to expire during the five-year moratorium would not be affected, which is seen as somewhat positive by the people holding those licences. However, I suppose if we have a moratorium forever, it really does not matter if one's licence is on hold forever, because it would not be helpful in the long run.
In conclusion, what we have here is perhaps not on the scale of Bill or some of the other things the government has done, but it just adds to the government's habit, whenever it deals with the natural resource industry, of tending to make it more complicated and of driving businesses away rather than doing what Canada needs, especially right now, which is bringing business to us.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to speak to Bill , an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. I would like to start by saying that the overall position of the NDP on this bill is that northerners know best how to manage their own resources. We will be supporting this bill at second reading but feel there are some areas where important improvements could be made.
This bill is part of a series of measures the Canadian government has made over the past half-century or so to bring more democracy to the north and end the colonial style of government that has been in place since Confederation. It seems, though, that every step forward has some steps backward and this bill perhaps is no exception. This is a bit of an omnibus bill.
I just want to point out that although the member for mentioned that the NDP and Liberals voted for Bill , that was because it was an omnibus bill on the devolution of power to the Northwest Territories. We were all in favour of the bill and then the former Conservative government tacked on that poison pill which cut down indigenous rights. We supported it, even though we had concerns about that last part of it.
This is a bit of an omnibus bill. It sets out to do two different things. First, it would repeal parts of Bill , the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, which was passed in the last Parliament and, second, it would bring into force an announced a moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in offshore waters in the Canadian Arctic. Bill C-15, passed in 2014, was a bit of an omnibus bill. The bulk of that bill dealt with the devolution of powers from the federal government to territorial government. The general public opinion in the north was that this was a great thing. It was reversing the tide of colonialism and giving back more powers to northerners to manage their own affairs.
However, the second part of Bill went back on that, eliminating four regional land and water boards and replacing them with a single super board. Those four boards were created out of land claims agreements and negotiations with various first nations in the Mackenzie Valley area and the new super board significantly reduced the input that those first nations would have on resource management decisions.
Since 1967, much of the political history of the Northwest Territories has been one of de-colonialization through the devolution of powers from the federal government, and there have been four settled land claims in the Northwest Territories since then.
First, the lnuvialuit agreement covers the northern part of the Mackenzie Delta, the Beaufort Sea region and the Northwest Territories portion of the Arctic Archipelago. The region is outside the areas covered in the regional land and water boards covered in Bill but does bear on the second part of the offshore oil and gas exploration.
Second, the Gwich'in agreement covers the southern portion of the Mackenzie Delta and the northern part of the Mackenzie Mountains.
Third, the Sahtu Dene and Métis agreement covers the region around Great Bear Lake and the adjacent Mackenzie Mountains.
Fourth, the Salt River Treaty Land Entitlement covers an area near the town of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. This agreement does not involve the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.
There are two more agreements in place now in the Northwest Territories: the Deline self-government agreement for a community covered by the Sahtu agreement, and the Tlicho land, resources and self-government agreement covering the area north of Great Slave Lake.
These agreements are modern-day treaties that create and confirm indigenous rights and are protected by section 35 of the Constitution. The Gwich'in, Sahtu and Tlicho agreements contain provision for the creation of a system of co-management boards enacted by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. On each of these boards, there are four members and a chair. Two of the four members are nominated or appointed by the Gwich'in, Sahtu or Tlicho, so that they have an equal partnership in those decisions.
In parts of the Northwest Territories where there is no settled land claim, the main board created by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, is in operation. In the lnuvialuit Settlement Region, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency conducts environmental assessments.
On December 3, 2013, the Harper government introduced Bill , which was primarily meant to implement the provisions in the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement. However, as I mentioned, it contained this poison pill in the form of changes to the land and water co-management boards created by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.
The Harper bill eliminated the regional boards in favour of a single superboard consisting of 10 members and a chair. Bill also changed the process by which members of the single board were appointed and only provided for a single representative from the Gwich'in, Sahtu and Tlicho. These groups went from having an equal partnership, two of four members, to only having one in 10 members on this superboard. These changes were wildly and widely unpopular in the Northwest Territories and contrary to the wishes of northerners, as reported by a consultation process launched by the Conservatives prior to bringing forward Bill C-15.
The member previously mentioned the McCrank report. There was a consultation process about that report, but the first nations, when told about these options, said not to do this and that they did not like it. It is not consultation if we just tell first nations what is going to happen. We have to try to make accommodation, and that is exactly what did not happen here. I have some quotes about what first nations and Métis groups thought of this.
Jake Heron from the Métis Nation said that it's very frustrating when you're at the table and you think you're involved, only to find out that your interests are not being considered seriously.
Bob Bromley, an MLA in the Northwest Territories said, “The federal government's proposal to collapse the regional land water boards into one big board is disturbing, unnecessary and possibly unconstitutional.” He also said that a single board “does nothing to meet the real problem: failure of implementation.”
Dennis Bevington, a former MP for the Northwest Territories said, “I don't think that's fair to the people that went into the devolution agreement, people like the Tlicho who agreed to the devolution deal because it had some separation from the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. I think it's inappropriate.”
Bill received royal assent on March 25, 2014. Shortly afterward, the Tlicho and Sahtu launched lawsuits asking for declarations of portions of the devolution act to have no force or effect and an interim injunction to stop the Government of Canada from taking steps to implement those provisions of Bill C-15 that affected the regional board structure for the Mackenzie Valley. On February 27, 2015, the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories granted that injunction to the Tlicho. The federal government immediately began appeal proceedings to lift the injunction, but with the defeat of the Harper government, Canada began consultations with Northwest Territories indigenous governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories. The result is Bill before us today, which would reverse those changes to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.
Last night, I happened to be sitting next to Grace Blake on the plane flying from Toronto to Ottawa. She is a Gwich'in leader from Tsiigehtchic. She was very happy to hear that Bill would keep the land and water boards in place. I think her feelings are representative of most residents of the Northwest Territories.
A representative from the Tlicho, Ryan Fequet, said, “The current land and water boards' composition reflects 50-50 decision-making between first nations and the federal government, and I think the superboard's proposed structure would have changed that, and that's why various parties voiced their concerns.”
I will now go to the second part of Bill , which deals with the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.
As other members have mentioned, this began back in late 2016 when the was meeting with President Barack Obama and they both gave what was called the United States-Canada joint Arctic leaders' statement. In that, Barack Obama said that the U.S. is designating “the vast majority of U.S. waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas as indefinitely off limits to offshore oil and gas leasing.”
At the same time, it seemed that Canada felt obliged to designate all Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off limits to future offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every five years through a climate and marine science-based life-cycle assessment. The made this decision without properly consulting any form of government in the north. As was mentioned, he gave everybody a phone call 20 minutes before the fact.
Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod reacted by issuing a red alert calling for an urgent national debate on the future of the Northwest Territories and saying that the 's announcement was the re-emergence of colonialism.
We spent a lot of time negotiating a devolution agreement, and we thought the days were gone when we'd have unilateral decisions made about the North in some faraway place like Ottawa, and that northerners would be making the decisions about issues that affected northerners.
In response to the 's unilateral action, the Premier of Nunavut, Peter Taptuna, stated:
We do want to be getting to a state where we can make our own determination of our priorities, and the way to do that is gain meaningful revenue from resource development.
And at the same time, when one potential source of revenue is taken off the table, it puts us back at practically Square 1 where Ottawa will make the decisions for us.
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation also raised concerns. Duane Smith, the CEO, stated:
There was a total lack of consultation prior to the imposition of the moratorium. This and the subsequent changes to key legislation impacting our marine areas are actions inconsistent with the way the Crown is required to engage with its Indigenous counterparts.
I happened to talk to Mr. Smith about this subject when I was at the Generation Energy Forum meetings in Winnipeg in October 2017, a year later, and he was still hopping mad about this.
In response to the concerns of northerners, Canada began a consultation process and agreed in October 2018 to begin talks with the territorial governments and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to reach a co-management and revenue-sharing agreement. Meanwhile, the current oil and gas development moratorium remains in place, to be reviewed in 2021.
Now I would like to speak to how this bill could be improved.
For one thing, despite the fact that the government supported my colleague's private member's bill on putting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into every appropriate legislation that the government produces, there is no mention of that at all in this bill. Again, I talked to first nations leaders and they are very frustrated with the government over all the talk and no action in that regard.
The second place that it could be improved, and I will mention this a little later, is through a real commitment for intervenor funding in the review processes that this bill puts forward. There is no mention of that and it is a critical part of any proper consultation.
Outside this bill there are still so many more important areas that the government could be taking action on, such as with respect to first nations drinking water. Seventy-three per cent of drinking water systems are considered at high or medium risk, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
With respect to indigenous housing, estimates from the First Nations Financial Management Board pegged the housing infrastructure gap on reserve at between $3 billion and $5 billion. This was the main thing mentioned to me by Grace who was sitting next to me on the plane last night. Her concern is housing, housing, housing.
With respect to indigenous schooling, whether we look at physical infrastructure, teachers or dropout rates, critical gaps remain. Less than a quarter of indigenous students who started grade 9 went on to finish high school. We really have to step up the game and fix these gaps.
The government has to stop fighting indigenous people in court. Currently, there are thousands of court cases going on between Canada and indigenous people, including 528 specific land claims and 70 comprehensive land claims.
The government has to fix the high cost of food in the north by replacing the nutrition north program with one that actually assists northerners in affording nutritious foods.
It should settle the two outstanding land resource and self-government processes in the Northwest Territories with the Dehcho and the Akaitcho.
I want to finish by mentioning a process that really brought northern resource management issues, and specifically management issues in the Mackenzie Valley, to the attention of southerners and radically changed the way northerners took control of their resource decisions. That was the Mackenzie Valley inquiry, or the Berger inquiry, as it is popularly known. It began with pipeline plans in the early 1970s to bring oil and gas from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, across the north, over the Yukon to the Mackenzie Valley, as well as two separate plans for pipelines down the Mackenzie Valley into Alberta. The Liberal government at the time commissioned Justice Thomas Berger to create an inquiry that would look into the situation and figure out what northerners wanted, what the impacts of those projects would be on the north and how the government should best proceed.
Justice Berger started in 1974. He travelled to every community in the area, 35 communities, in the affected region. Everyone who wanted to testify was heard. Several days were usually spent in each community. For instance, in Old Crow, in the Gwich'in territory in northern Yukon, 81 people out of a population of 250 testified, many in the Gwich'in language. Five other languages made up the testimony from the other communities. Anyone who wanted to speak was heard carefully and respectfully.
The Berger inquiry also set the standard for intervenor funding. I mentioned that earlier. That money is used to allow concerned citizens to travel and speak at hearings. In 1977, Justice Berger released his findings. He found that the environmental impacts of a pipeline across the Arctic slope of the Yukon would be too great to justify the benefits. Instead, he recommended much of that area be protected from development.
Therefore, in 1984, Ivvavik National Park was created in the Inuvialuit settlement region. In 1995, Vuntut National Park was created in the Gwich'in area of northern Yukon. I had the pleasure and the privilege of visiting those areas.
In 1983, I spent the summer doing biological surveys in the Old Crow area and spent 10 days on Herschel Island, just off the coast of the Beaufort Sea. It was a wonderful time on Herschel. Liz Mackenzie and her two daughters were the only permanent residents there. They were Inuvialuit. They kept us well fed with bannock and fresh Arctic char. I rafted down the Firth River in 1995. I saw muskox and caribou. The porcupine caribou herd calves along the Arctic coast of Alaska and migrates through this area. It is because of those protections that the porcupine herd is literally one of the only caribou herds in Canada still doing well these days. Most caribou herds are declining drastically.
As for the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, Justice Berger pointed out that land claims negotiations were just taking place in the Mackenzie watershed, so he placed a 10-year moratorium on any decision in that region to allow those agreements to be finished. The Berger inquiry is really the gold standard of consultation in Canada. If anyone in the government is interested in what good, proper consultation looks like, this is it. People were heard and accommodations were made.
If we look at the leaders of today in Northwest Territories, many of those leaders began their career by being inspired by leading their people in the Berger inquiry. In an article Ian Waddell wrote on this, he mentioned a few of those names. There was Nellie Cournoyea, who worked for the committee on the original people's entitlement, the Inuvialuit group. She later became the premier of Northwest Territories. Dave Porter, who used to carry equipment for the CBC crew, became a great aboriginal leader in Yukon. Jim Antoine, then the young chief of the Fort Simpson Dene became the premier of Northwest Territories. Georges Erasmus, who appeared before the inquiry for the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories, later the Dene Nation, became the head chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and on and on.
I will finish by saying that northerners, regardless of descent, overwhelmingly support land, resource and self-government agreements and the co-management processes created by them. Northerners see these processes as de-colonialism. Resource extraction is the only viable form of economic development available to northerners, and while they want strong environmental protections for any resource development, northerners want to be equal partners in making these decisions.
We support Bill , and we support this process of the devolution of powers to territorial and indigenous governments They must continue to eliminate colonialism within our country.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I am very proud to join my colleagues to speak in full support of Bill today. The stated that no relationship is more important to our government and Canada than the one with indigenous peoples. I am proud that we made that commitment and that we continue to strive to fulfill it.
The bill before us today is an important part of this commitment to me and my constituents in the Northwest Territories. The Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act was originally passed in 1998. It provides for the establishment of an integrated system of land and water management for the Mackenzie Valley through a series of co-management boards, at which the Dene, Métis, territorial and federal governments share input and decision-making. Although the MVRMA was passed in 1998, the discussions on this type of land and water management system began in the early 1980s during the negotiations of the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement.
Regional land claim and self-governing regions in the NWT have boards, also called panels, that review and make recommendations about their lands. Unfortunately, regardless of the system that was in place after years of negotiation, a system that was working well and gave the indigenous people the right to oversee how their lands were used, the previous government decided to cut these boards out of the process. I am glad they were not successful.
First, the Tlicho government filed an injunction, later joined by the Sahtu Secretariat. The Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories agreed and granted this injunction, so here it sits. These previous amendments were never brought into force and the regional boards continue to operate efficiently and effectively, as intended.
Our government is dedicated to a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples in the spirit of reconciliation. One of the key elements in achieving true reconciliation is meaningful consultation. That requires real work. We are committed to restoring trust and further strengthening our relationship with indigenous partners in the Northwest Territories by supporting the integrated co-management regime for lands and waters in the Mackenzie Valley.
We need to ensure that the management of our natural resources is done in a way that respects the inherent and treaty rights of the indigenous people. Through Bill , we can ensure sustainable resource development while also protecting the long-term health and well-being of the environment. This proposed legislation was created in a spirit of reconciliation meant to help renew the relationship between the Crown and indigenous peoples in the Northwest Territories through mutual respect and co-operation.
Bill is a direct response to the concerns of the indigenous governments and organizations respecting the legislative and regulatory framework flowing from their constitutionally protected land claims and self-government agreements. While the previous government ignored these concerns, we know that by working together we can reach a better result.
The amendments proposed by this bill respect the integrity of the land claim agreements the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories entered into in good faith. We have heard loud and clear from our indigenous partners that the dissolution of the Gwich'in, Sahtu and Tlicho land and water boards by the previous Conservative government denied indigenous groups their hard-won rights. We have also heard from them that it directly contravened their land claim agreements, which included the creation and management of these boards. Reconciliation is not an empty word to our government.
Actions must follow words in order to move forward and work toward real, lasting and positive change in the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples. The bill before us today proposes to reverse the board restructuring and reintroduce the other regulatory amendments that have also been on hold. Simply put, indigenous people have the right to oversee how their lands are used, and also to share in the wealth.
Bill would integrate the perspectives of indigenous people into the future usage of lands and water on their territories by including and incorporating indigenous views and perspectives into the decision-making regarding land and resources.
We must work together to improve the quality of life of indigenous peoples in Canada, and key to achieving this goal is indigenous control over indigenous lands. In order to protect the integrity of land claim agreements and treaty rights, the importance of engagement and consultation must be respected.
The Gwich'in, Sahtu and Tlicho stood up and made it clear that they wanted their voices heard and their rights acknowledged and respected. This bill will ensure that they continue to have a say in what happens to the lands and water they preside over.
I mentioned earlier that there are other amendments in this bill besides those aimed at fixing the restructuring part that has been on hold the past four or so years, so not all of the previous government's amendments were off base. However, they are all tangled up in their restructuring error.
This bill reintroduces these amendments. There are regional studies, board term provisions and new regulatory authorities, to name a few. The amendment to the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act would enable the science-based review currently under way in the Beaufort Sea to be completed without interruption, while at the same time preventing the existing oil and gas rights in the Arctic offshore from expiring before the conclusion of the review. After a one-year consultation with existing rights holders, territorial governments and indigenous governments, everyone agreed on the importance of protecting the unique Arctic offshore environment while pursuing responsible oil and gas activity.
True reconciliation cannot occur until indigenous governments and organizations are fully included in the management of lands and resources in the north. We need to bring the voices of indigenous people into the process in order to have a broader and more complete view of the future of Canada's natural resources. As the has said, “Together, we can build a world where the rights of Indigenous peoples are respected, where their voices are honoured, and where their communities thrive.”
The bill we are debating today will ensure that the unique perspectives of indigenous governments, leaders and communities will be heard and listened to. I urge all of my colleagues today to recognize the importance of incorporating an indigenous perspective into the future decision-making of our natural resources sector and to support this important legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to show my support for Bill , while acknowledging that we are gathering on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
Our government is taking a new approach. We are currently conducting extensive consultations with indigenous governments and organizations as well as other key stakeholders on issues that will affect them. This process has helped create a law from which all Canadians can benefit.
Bill amends the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act in direct response to concerns expressed by indigenous groups affected by the previous piece of legislation as well as comments from key stakeholders.
Our indigenous partners have made their opinions quite clear. The Tlicho government and Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated applied to the courts in 2014 and 2015 respectively to defend their rights in accordance with their individual land claim and self-government agreements.
The bill we are debating today corrects the problems caused by the Conservatives and responds directly to the concerns expressed by indigenous governments and organizations. As part of the ongoing reconciliation process, the asked departmental officials to initiate an ongoing dialogue with indigenous organizations and governments in the Northwest Territories to address their concerns.
On September 23, 2016, the minister sent letters to indigenous groups and stakeholders launching consultations on the draft bill to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act in order to address these issues.
Bill is the result of consultations with indigenous organizations and governments in the Mackenzie Valley, transboundary organizations and governments, resource co-management boards and oil and gas industry organizations.
In addition to indigenous organizations and governments, Canada consulted the Government of the Northwest Territories. Our government also consulted members of the mining and gas and oil industries, including the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines, the Mining Association of Canada, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Ongoing consultations over the long term with key stakeholders have provided Canada with invaluable insight into the practical nature of the bill before us today. The comments from our partners provided unique perspectives and useful guidance which, in the end, led to the drafting of this bill. That is why proper consultation is important.
Canada recognizes that the Conservatives' legislation was drafted without enough consultation. That is why the Government of Canada ensured that the voices of indigenous groups, the government of the Northwest Territories, and industry representatives were heard at every stage of the process—from initial discussions through to drafting and review. Bringing together stakeholders is the key to developing effective policies and practices. The Government of Canada is holding extensive consultations in order to create processes that satisfy the needs of all parties. That ensures that the final product serves everyone in a positive and productive manner and gets rid of any possible uncertainty regarding natural resources.
In March, the met with industry groups to better understand their opinion on developing and co-managing resources in the north. Industry plays a major role in creating a stronger and better relationship with governments and indigenous organizations when it comes to protecting, managing and developing Canada's natural resources.
In order to truly make progress on the path to reconciliation with indigenous peoples, industry must be taken into consideration as a key strategic partner alongside all levels of government. By bringing together all the stakeholders, every concern will be addressed as it is raised.
If passed, the amendments this bill makes will contribute to the more efficient, predictable and consistent use and management of land, water and natural resources in the Mackenzie Valley. With the creation of a clearer path for governments and organizations in terms of natural resource management, industry will no longer face the potential uncertainty that hinders its ability to invest in northern Canada.
This law will enhance economic opportunities and growth while protecting the environment for future generations. It addresses concerns expressed by indigenous organizations and governments and respects the framework flowing from their constitutionally protected land claim and self-government agreements. It recognizes the importance of having indigenous peoples actively participate in the co-management of natural resources and of protecting their right to monitor the future of their territory.
The environment, the economy and reconciliation go hand in hand. We need to create a more effective system for everyone, and that is exactly what Bill accomplishes. I encourage my hon. colleagues to support it.