Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I wish to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Anishinabe peoples.
Today, I am pleased to address the chamber in support of our government's bill for better rules for the review of major projects, Bill . The act would put in place better rules that would restore trust, protect the environment, advance reconciliation and would ensure that good projects could go ahead in a timely way.
I want to thank senators and members of Parliament for their careful consideration of this bill, in particular those senators who have worked productively to strengthen and improve the bill.
I would reserve special thanks for Senator Grant Mitchell, who has worked tirelessly as a sponsor of the bill throughout the Senate process.
Thousands of people across Canada have come forward to share their perspectives since January 2016. This is extremely important legislation, and I appreciate how engaged everyone has been.
Hundreds of major resource projects, worth an estimated $500 billion over the next decade, are possible across Canada, creating jobs from coast to coast to coast. It is imperative that we get this right.
These better rules are designed to protect our environment while restoring public trust in the process and improving investor confidence. These rules will also make the Canadian energy and resource sectors more competitive. They will build on Canada's strong economic growth and historic job numbers.
We are keeping our promise to Canadians, a promise we made in 2015 to fix our broken environmental impact assessment system.
In 2012, Stephen Harper's Conservative government gutted the rules for major projects, ignored science, trampled on indigenous rights and removed environmental protection. Those changes eroded public trust in how decisions were made and ultimately led to the polarization and paralysis we see today. It also ended up with us in court.
When good projects cannot get built because the process is in court, we have to admit the system is broken.
Our bill for better rules for the review of major projects, along with the amendments that we are proposing to accept, will change that. We will put in place better rules for major projects, like mines, pipelines and hydro projects, to protect our environment, improve investor confidence, strengthen our economy and create good, middle-class jobs.
Since we have formed government, we have worked very hard to restore public trust while providing certainty to business. Better rules are the key to rebuilding trust and confidence in how decisions about major projects are made. The amendments we are proposing to accept will enhance that effort.
Our bill for better rules reflect public input, respect indigenous rights, increase transparency and ensure that decisions are made by robust science, evidence and indigenous traditional knowledge.
The new impact assessment process will look at a project's potential impacts not just on our environment, but also its health, social and economic impacts over the long term, and the potential impacts to indigenous peoples.
We will also consider how projects are consistent with our environmental obligations and national climate plan. We will do proactive regional assessments to evaluate big picture issues and the cumulative effects of development. When making decisions, we will consider whether companies are using the best available technologies and practices to reduce impacts on the environment.
Project reviews will be completed through a more efficient and predictable process, with shorter legislated timelines that will lead to more timely decisions.
By increasing coordination with other jurisdictions, we will cut red tape and avoid duplication and delays.
Our goal is one project, one review.
We first introduced the bill after 14 months of consultations with provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, companies, environmental groups and Canadians across the country. We heard loud and clear that Canadians wanted a modern environmental and regulatory system that protected the environment, supported reconciliation with indigenous peoples, attracted investment and ensured that good projects go ahead in a timely way to create new jobs and economic opportunities for the middle class. We heard from investors and companies that they wanted a clear, predictable and timely process.
That is what our bill for better rules and the proposed amendments provide.
In January 2016, we introduced interim principles to guide how our government would review major projects until we could put better rules in place. We knew we could not keep approving projects under the Harper government's flawed rules, but we also knew that we could not put our economic development on hold for two years while we worked on new rules.
Our interim principles were the first step toward delivering on one of our high-priority platform commitments, which was to review and fix Canada's broken environmental assessment process and to restore confidence in how decisions about major resource projects were made.
Those interim principles made it clear that decisions would be based on robust science, evidence and indigenous traditional knowledge, that we would listen to the views of Canadians and communities that could be affected by proposed projects, that indigenous peoples would be consulted in a meaningful and respectful manner, that decisions would take into account the climate impacts of proposed projects and that no project already under review would be set back to the starting line.
Since we have formed government, we have worked very hard to restore public trust while providing certainty to business.
Today, we are putting before the House a bill that expands those interim principles into better rules.
This bill has gone through months of consultation and expert review. People across the country have provided input, including industry, academia, environmentalists and our indigenous, provincial and territorial partners. We held hundreds of meetings, received hundreds of written submissions and considered thousands of comments from individual Canadians.
Expert panels and parliamentary committees have conducted studies, heard witnesses and reviewed comments from the public. Senators themselves took the rare step of criss-crossing the country to hear a diversity of views on how to improve the broken system we inherited.
This bill has attracted attention across the country. Last September, someone hired a plane to fly over my office with a flag that read “Kill Bill ”. Then, in April, students in Quebec City gathered with signs that read “Go C-69”, decorated with hearts.
There are those who say this bill goes too far, and then there are those who say this bill does not go far enough. Our task as a government is to listen carefully to all voices and find a reasonable middle ground, moving us all forward together.
While we have been working hard to develop better rules, there has been a concerted misinformation campaign from the opposition. Members of the Conservative opposition have used this bill to stoke conflict, pitting one region against another, as if we are not one country, Canada, trying to build the best possible future for our kids and grandkids.
Conservatives in the House and the Senate want to replace environmental reviews with pipeline approvals. They want to replace legitimate public discussion with unilateral decisions. They do not want a better review process; they want to hand decisions over to oil lobbyists, ignore climate change and make the consideration of indigenous peoples' constitutional rights optional. Their goal has been to weaken the rules, and we all know where that road leads.
The opposition would pursue economic development at all costs and put the interests of oil lobbyists ahead of the interests of Canadians. That is exactly why we need better rules, ones designed to measure the impacts of major projects on all Canadians: environmental impacts, climate impacts, community impacts, economic impacts, impacts on indigenous peoples' rights, and impacts on Canada's reputation as a country where good projects can move ahead in a timely and transparent way that protects the environment and helps to build a better future for all Canadians.
The Senate has proposed 229 amendments to this bill. Of these, we are accepting 62 and amending 37, for a total of 99 amendments.
That leaves 130 amendments that we cannot accept, ones that would, for instance, make public consultation optional, remove consideration of a project's impacts on climate change, undermine the rule of law and make it more difficult for Canada to attract investment.
Here is a little parliamentary history for my colleagues. Going back to 1940, when the Library of Parliament began consistently indexing information, the highest number of Senate amendments ever concurred in by the House was 67, in 1946, to Bill No. 195, An Act respecting the Control of the Acquisition and Disposition of Foreign Currency and the Control of Transactions involving Foreign Currency or Non-Residents. In other words, this bill will be one for the history books.
I think it is fair to say that this has been a long and careful process and that we have worked diligently to create better rules. We thank the Senate for providing a variety of thoughtful improvements to the bill. We are accepting amendments that maintain the integrity of the bill and make it stronger.
For example, we are accepting amendments that increase the independence of the agency and minimize the potential for political interference. Instead of ministerial discretion on timelines, or who would be on a review panel, this power will be transferred to the agency.
We also support an amendment to make it clear that the minister cannot direct the head of the agency. We also support additional clarity on how the impact assessment agency will look at the environmental, health, economic and social factors to ensure that the focus is on the most significant issues.
We will make sure that the biggest projects with the biggest potential impacts are the ones requiring a federal impact assessment. We are supporting improvements to regional assessments and how we work with provinces to get to one project, one assessment.
These amendments would protect our environment and put sustainability at the heart of how we approach growing our economy and creating good, middle-class jobs. They would reduce the potential for political interference introduced by the Harper government's changes, and they would give companies and investors the certainty they need with a more timely process, clear timelines and transparent decisions. Together, these amendments would help to rebuild public trust, respect indigenous people's rights and protect our environment, while strengthening our economy and attracting investment to Canada.
We will be rejecting changes that weaken the act, including those that limit Canadians' access to the courts, increase political interference in decision-making, limit Canadians' input into the process, make it optional to consider how a project would affect Canada's ability to meet its environmental commitments, such as fighting climate change, and make it easy for future governments to ignore our constitutional duty to consult indigenous peoples, an approach that would land us exactly where we are today: in court.
The changes we are not accepting would take us backward, increase polarization and make it harder to get good projects built.
Conservatives want to keep the same system, the one that led to so many challenges, including with the Trans Mountain expansion, as an example. It is a system that weakened environmental protections, failed to properly consult indigenous peoples and limited public discussion. Canadians know that the environment and the economy go together, but these amendments would mean pursuing economic development at all costs. We cannot accept them, because they are, quite frankly, unacceptable to us and to Canadians.
Stephen Harper's approach put both the environment and the economy at risk. It failed to protect the environment. It destroyed the public trust. It paralyzed major projects. It is the system that created all the problems and polarization we see today.
Meanwhile, the current has told oil lobbyists that he would kill this bill for better rules if he is elected. That is a recipe for economic risk, increased conflict and environmental damage. It is the same recipe that Stephen Harper tried. It did not work then and it will not work now.
As leading resource companies know, in the 21st century, we have to protect the environment and grow the economy at the same time. Canadians expect no less. It is not just the sustainable way forward; it is the smart way.
As I mentioned before, hundreds of major resource projects, worth an estimated $500 billion, are being planned across Canada. We want to see good projects get built. These are projects that grow our economy and represent tens of thousands of good, middle-class jobs.
Our government is committed to building a strong economy. One million jobs have been created since we took office, and unemployment is at historic lows. Last year, Canada's foreign direct investment grew by 60%.
The official opposition has been talking down Canada's economic success, stoking fear and uncertainty, an act that I remind members has real consequences for investment in Canadian companies. Meanwhile, our government has been working to attract and promote investment in Canada. We know that these better rules will provide investors with the certainty they need and will lead to more good jobs for Canadians.
In 2019, we cannot have a plan for the economy without having a plan for the environment. It is essential to be competitive and attract investment in today's world.
Investment in Canada is rising, and jobs are being created in Canada, in part because businesses want to invest in countries that see the future, countries that take sustainability seriously. Customers expect it. Our trading partners expect it. Canadians expect it.
Combined, the amendments we are accepting will produce better rules for major projects in Canada, rules that are clear, fair and predictable, with shorter legislated timelines and sustainability at their core. These rules will make sure that Canada remains a great place to live, to work and to invest.
To vote for the bill for better rules is to vote for strong environmental protection, transparent science- and evidence-based decision-making, predictable and timely reviews that create certainty for companies and for investors, recognition and respect for indigenous peoples' rights and knowledge and advancing reconciliation, less red tape and better coordination with provinces, a single agency that will provide consistent and efficient assessments, and a full package of measures that will protect our environment, support good, middle-class jobs and attract new investment to Canada.
With better rules, we will restore Canadians' trust in how decisions about major projects are made. We will restore investors' confidence in Canada as a great place to do business. We will restore our reputation as a country that knows we can fight climate change, protect the environment and respect indigenous rights, while growing the economy and creating good jobs.
We are so lucky to live in Canada. There is so much opportunity before us. Now is the time for all of us to reach out to investors around the world and say, “Canada is the place to invest. We have fair, predictable rules with legislated timelines.”
These better rules will make that possible. Any politician or company saying otherwise is, quite frankly, undermining the opportunity we have to attract investment. That is not in the interest of Canada and that is not in the interests of Canadians.
We are extremely lucky to live in Canada. Now is the time for all of us to reach out to investors around the world and tell them that Canada is the place to invest. In the 21st century, as leading resource companies know, we can protect the environment and grow the economy at the same time if we work together to make that happen.
Please join me in voting to pass the bill. We owe it to Canadians. We owe it to our economy. We owe it to our environment and we owe it to our kids and grandkids.
Mr. Speaker, it is with grave concern for the future of our whole country that, on behalf of the official opposition, I rise to address the Liberal government's response to the 187 Senate amendments to the Liberal's no-more-pipelines bill, Bill . It is likely the last time I will debate this proposed legislation in the House of Commons on behalf of the residents of Lakeland and the provinces, territories, municipalities, indigenous communities, economists, public policy experts, business owners and workers across this country who oppose Bill and its many negative and widespread impacts on Canada.
I will start by reviewing what has brought us to this day. I will say that Canadians can be forgiven for asking just the what the heck is going on here, because it is, frankly, unconscionable that within days of the House adjourning for the summer and five months away from an election, the Liberals are rushing through debate on their response to 187 amendments, which were also supported by Liberal-appointed senators.
These amendments were an attempt to rescue such flawed but consequential legislation that it will have significant economic impacts and ramifications for the private sector in resource development, in construction, in manufacturing and all the spin-off impacts for related sectors, as well as for provincial and indigenous governments, for infrastructure and for municipalities. It is unbelievable that the Liberals have chosen to reject the majority of the substantive and meaningful amendments passed by the Senate that private sector proponents, provinces and indigenous leaders said would at least make this very significant legislation “workable”, which is not a ringing endorsement as it is.
The response by the Liberals, tabled around midnight last night, will only exacerbate the uncertainty they have caused since 2015, which has driven nearly unprecedented levels of money, jobs, businesses, innovation and resource development out of Canada.
Let us all remember, as the minister just reminded us, that the Liberals started consultations on the bill in January 2016, when they started the regulatory vacuum for major resource development in this country. They introduced it in the House of Commons and rushed it through a year and a half ago. However, at that time, they ignored the dire warnings from committee witnesses, ignored input from expert panels and then subsequently rejected every single amendment put forward by opposition members of all parties, except for one amendment from me that mandated transparency on the reasons for holding a public meeting on discretionary matters and one amendment from the NDP.
They rammed it through the House in such a flawed, wrong-headed and disastrous state that it now faces near universal opposition across the country from a broad and diverse coalition and it requires all these amendments from the Senate, which, thankfully, was able to do a more thorough review and seek a wider scope of feedback and scrutiny than the Liberals allowed when they pushed the bill through the House of Commons so many months ago.
So much for all that rhetoric, nearly four years ago, about the importance of consultation, basing decisions on facts and evidence, and working collaboratively with opposition MPs. Sunny ways have certainly turned into very dark days under the Liberals. The and all Conservatives in both the House and the Senate have opposed Bill from the very beginning, because, just like the , the bill is not as advertised.
The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association already did warn a year and half ago that Bill , in its original state, would ensure that no new pipeline was ever proposed in Canada again. However, it is clear today like never before, by the Liberals' response to the Senate amendments, that their objective always was and is to dramatically hinder energy development, to interfere in other jurisdictions on resource development by imposing federal reviews on municipal and provincial infrastructure projects, and to make things even more difficult for farmers, rural municipalities, villages and cities by imposing federal reviews on things like irrigation and infrastructure.
To be clear, Bill is not only opposed by six Conservative premiers fighting to protect their jurisdiction, as the implies, but in fact, nine out of 10 provinces and the governments of all three territories have raised grave concerns with Bill C-69 in the past several months. It is opposed by private sector proponents across the economy in every corner of the country.
Bill would not provide certainty or clarity for investors. It would actually create duplication between federal and provincial reviews. It would politicize decisions by granting extensive opportunities for political and ideological interference instead of grounding decisions on science, facts and evidence, and on the technical and economic merits of individual proposals. It would implement open-ended timelines and vague criteria for major resource projects and crucial infrastructure. It would potentially expose all kinds of resource development that is within provincial jurisdiction to federal reviews. It would drive jobs, businesses and investment out of Canada and into competing countries, like the United States, and so many other countries with much lower environmental standards and performance than Canada.
Bill exposes major Canadian resource and infrastructure proposals within Canada to literally anyone, anywhere in the world, to intervene on those reviews. It removes all parameters for public participation, even reasonable limits like the requirement of a community or individual being locally impacted, and specific technical expertise or knowledge.
That is something the Senate amendments actually improved, increasing the weight of testimony from indigenous communities for example directly impacted by the project, which the Liberals have rejected.
Bill undermines the principles of fairness, predictability, certainty and clarity for major resource proponents with disproportionately harmful consequences for particular provinces and regions.
All of these reasons are why the Senate had to propose 187 amendments. It is absolutely reckless for the Liberals to reject those key amendments proposed by senators from all regions and on both sides of the political spectrum.
The proposed amendments taken together represent the bare minimum for private sector proponents to operate under, and 100% of those amendments proposed by the Senate to Bill must be accepted in their entirety. A failure to implement all of the amendments would hinder the entire Canadian economy from coast to coast to coast, which is why a future Conservative government would repeal and replace Bill C-69.
The reality is that Bill is not only an attack on pipelines and on the energy sector. It is an attack on the economic well-being of the entire country.
Canadians expect their and a federal government to unite and to be a champion for the best interests of all Canadians for oil and gas or refinery workers in western and Atlantic provinces and Ontario and the North, for assembly-line and manufacturing workers across central Canada and Quebec, and for hard-working Canadians and small businesses in all the other sectors that depend on the energy sector, the number one private sector investor in the Canadian economy and Canada's biggest exporter in every corner of the country.
The Liberals pit Canadians against each other over resource development in a way that has not been done since the 1980s, and they have put the whole Canadian economy at risk.
The losses in the energy sector are rippling through other sectors across Canada, whether it is manufacturing in Ontario and Quebec, financial services and banking across the country, railroads, shipping, ports and all the indirect and induced jobs in other sectors. This Liberal attack will touch every corner of the country.
The sad fact is that the Liberals are killing Canadian innovation and killing Canadian jobs. The economic and social consequences are immense: spikes in personal and business bankruptcies, foreclosures, increased food bank use, crime and substance abuse, family breakdowns, suicides, a loss of hope, and a loss of dreams and dignity. All of that is the result of the Liberals' attacks on Canada's natural resource sector and the thousands of good-paying jobs that have been killed by their anti-energy, anti-resources, anti-business policies and legislation.
Through Bill , the Liberals will steamroll the provinces, giving themselves unprecedented power over even highways, passenger trains, recycling plants; over the regulation of non-renewable resources like the oil sands under provincial jurisdiction and other developments like wind, hydro, solar and natural gas. They will take over joint responsibilities like offshore oil and gas exploration.
Unbelievably, the Liberal dismisses provincial advocacy and concerns as being partisan. He says the outcries and the warnings are irresponsible, but that is just not true. The Liberal response of rejecting the majority of the Senate amendments today actually goes directly against requests from the Liberal premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Liberal premier of Nova Scotia. It is indicative of what the former Liberal premier of B.C. pointed out, that the “Ottawa knows best” considers himself not to be a first among equals, but to actually have no equals among the provinces, or anyone else for that matter.
Nine out of 10 provinces and all three territories demanded major changes to this legislation, changes the Senate proposed, which the Liberals are rejecting today.
The Liberals have given a single minister the ability to determine what projects require federal review without any prior notice or regulation. This means any future project in principal jurisdiction could require a lengthy and expensive federal review at the last minute without warning. That will not create certainty for investors and it will kill jobs in Canada.
The Liberals are taking projects away from expert life-cycle regulators with a depth and breadth of experience and knowledge and putting them under a new federal regulator without the same level of expertise while expanding opportunities for political and ideological interference.
What is really galling, and we heard it again here today, is that the Liberals have justified this legislation, while they deliberately undermine and attack Canada's reputation with ongoing and co-ordinated consistent attacks on confidence in Canada's formerly world-renowned regulator, on Canada's world-leading track record of independent science and evidence-based environmental reviews, and on Canada's leadership on indigenous consultation and the incorporation of traditional knowledge for which Canada has long been renowned, for decades.
It is a pattern. The Liberals constantly divide Canadians, pitting regions and provinces against each other for Liberal partisan purposes at any and all costs, while they say one thing and do another. This time, the Liberals' cynical tactics have backfired. Canadians do not always agree on everything, and thank goodness for that. People across Canada are united in their opposition to this disastrous bill.
On Monday, those premiers that the attacked yesterday, the premiers of the Northwest Territories, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, representing 59% of Canada's population and 63% of the GDP, called on the Prime Minister to seriously consider their concerns and accept all the Senate amendments in Bill , because “the damage it would do to the economy, jobs and investment will echo from one coast to the other.”
They say, “Bill C-69, as originally drafted, would make it virtually impossible to develop critical infrastructure, depriving Canada of much needed investment.”
They talk about the fact that “the planned investment value of major resource sector projects in Canada plunged by $100 billion” between 2017 and 2018, “an amount equivalent to 4.5 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product. To protect Canada’s economic future, we, collectively, cannot afford to overlook the uncertainty and risk to future investment created by Bill C-69.”
The premiers also issued a stark public warning of the impact of Bill , and its impact on national unity if it is passed without 100% of the Senate amendments. They say their “governments are deeply concerned with the federal government’s disregard, so far, of the concerns raised by our provinces and territory related to these bills.”
Talking about Bill , as well as Bill , they say:
As it stands, the federal government appears indifferent to the economic hardships faced by provinces and territories. Immediate action to refine or eliminate these bills is needed to avoid further alienating provinces and territories and their citizens and focus on uniting the country in support of Canada’s economic prosperity.
They raised real concerns about the willingness of the Liberal government to trample on the provinces. They remind the :
Provinces and territories have clear and sole jurisdiction over the development of their non-renewable natural resources, forestry resources, and the generation and production of electricity.
Bill C-69 upsets the balance struck by the constitutional division of powers by ignoring the exclusive provincial powers over projects relating to these resources.
The premiers call on the federal government to adopt all of these amendments or “risk creating a Constitutional crisis.”
What is crazy about this is the 's response to the premiers yesterday. That was a complete failure of leadership. He dismissed their concerns as partisan and attacked them for being irresponsible. The scale and the intensity of alienation and frustration captured in the premiers' cautions reflect the views and experiences of the people they represent. That is a direct consequence of this Prime Minister's divisive, calculated, regionalized and anti-energy, anti-resource development agenda.
Let me remind the , again, it is not only those six premiers who have opposed Bill in recent months. The only government that did not speak out is an anti-energy, anti-resource NDP-Green coalition government that is not even representing the majority view of its citizens when it comes to pipelines, and oil and gas. It, of course, is no accident that provincial Liberal leaders request the Liberal Prime Minister to steer clear of their provinces during provincial elections, whether in Atlantic Canada or in western Canada.
The provinces have been very clear about the economic consequences of the Liberals' Bill .
The Government of Saskatchewan, in talking about Bill , said, “[T]he uncertainty and the non-transparency that it would introduce is really disastrous.”
The Government of Quebec said, “Bill C-69 gives the federal government substantial powers, the equivalent of a veto over Quebec's economic development and the management of its natural resources.”
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador says Bill is an “unnecessary regulatory burden”, potentially undermining development opportunities and the global competitiveness of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador offshore area.
The Government of Nunavut says Bill may “muddy or lengthen the processes, potentially leading to a reduction in investor confidence in Canada and Nunavut.”
The Government of Nova Scotia says the new assessment criteria in Bill “raise significant uncertainty and there is risk that they may not be interpreted similarly in different offices across the country.”
The Government of Ontario says Bill is “fundamentally contradictory to several of Canada’s long-term strategic goals and it effectively hinders natural resource related economic development within the country.”
The Government of New Brunswick says Bill “represents an unacceptable risk, an unacceptable impediment to Atlantic Canada's and New Brunswicker's future prosperity.”
The Government of Manitoba says Bill will “drive down investment, compound economic losses...and sacrifice jobs.”
The Government of Alberta called Bill completely “unacceptable” and has announced it will launch a constitutional challenge against it.
The premiers are speaking out because they must represent their provinces. They are simply voicing the rising alienation, frustration, anger, anxiety and experiences of the people whom they represent. They are making the plea to protect their jurisdictions with good reason. One of the amendments from the Senate that the Liberals are rejecting was the implementation of an exemption list of projects to ensure that projects under provincial jurisdiction would not be exposed to federal review. That is an amendment that the Liberals are rejecting.
Let us talk about the areas that are potentially open for review, under Bill as the Liberals want to pass it: the construction, operation, decommissioning or abandonment or expansion of a new facility, plant, structure, or thing for recovering oil sands by drilling or other in situ recovery operations; the construction, operation, decommissioning, abandonment or expansion of existing or of new pipelines other than an offshore pipeline or other than pipelines across interprovincial jurisdictions; the construction, operation, decommissioning or abandonment or expansion of new or existing facilities, plants, structures or things for the generation of wind electric power or solar electric power; the same for a facility, plant, structure or thing for the refining, manufacturing or processing of natural gas, natural gas liquids or petroleum to produce refined products or other light hydrocarbon components or products; and the same for generating units that use natural gas as their primary fuel for coal-to-gas generation and for simple cycle turbines.
This is the reason that premiers are speaking out and raising such grave concerns about this almost unprecedented intervention into provincial jurisdiction.
However, the impact of Bill will not stop at the provinces. The Liberals' “Ottawa knows best” approach will even impose costly and time-consuming federal reviews on municipalities. The mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the mayor of the MD of Bonnyville lead a coalition of at least 20 municipalities that say Bill C-69 would impede municipal infrastructure projects and would fail to provide the necessary clarity on municipal land-use planning, waterway use, indigenous consultation and federal grants.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities says, “[T]he proposed Bill could result in more municipal infrastructure projects falling under federal review. This could add additional financial and administrative costs to municipal operations.”
The committed to a “collaborative relationship“ with provinces and territories, and he promised Canadians that he would maintain an ongoing partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments. However, when those governments sent the Prime Minister a letter with a plea for due diligence and for serious consideration of their concerns and a warning about the consequences for Canada, he essentially told them to get bent. He patronized and condescended to them, dismissed the substance of what they said, and both ascribed and criticized their motivations and really all of the hundreds of thousands Canadians whom they represent. What a contrast it is to four years ago, and what a disheartening and bitter legacy.
What is even more hypocritical is the intensely partisan use of separatism in the past by this very Liberal . In 2012, he threatened to become a Quebec separatist if Canadians did not do as he liked. He said, “I always say if there comes a point where I thought Canada really was Stephen Harper's Canada...maybe I'd consider making Quebec a country. Oh yes, absolutely. I know my values very well, even if I no longer recognize Canada.”
That is why his response to nine out of 10 provinces and three territorial governments raising these very serious concerns, that they either do what he wants or they get kicked to the curb, is absolutely mind-boggling. For him to have the gall to suggest the premiers are being irresponsible and threatening national unity if they, in his words, “don't get their way” or “do not get everything they want” is unbelievable. What kind of a sorry, divisive, petulant, flippant response is that from a ?
In his case, and on this subject in particular, what profound hypocrisy. Canadians do and should expect more from their . The Prime Minister should be rising to the occasion and providing the leadership that Canadians so desperately need right now, but, again, he is not as advertised. Make no mistake, the actual clear and present danger, the real threat to national unity and the risk of a constitutional crisis, is the Liberal Prime Minister.
There may be no better example of how he is not as advertised than how he treats indigenous communities.
The likes to claim his most important relationship is with indigenous people, but even in that respect, he is divisive and, in turn, dismissive when it suits him. The Liberals claim Bill would improve consultation with indigenous people and somehow would expand the rights of indigenous people to consultation or would enhance the Crown's duty to consult and accommodate, but it does not.
Hundreds of indigenous communities and indigenous business owners represented by the national chiefs council, the Indian Resource Council, the Eagle Spirit Chiefs Council, the Alberta Assembly of Treaty Chiefs and the majority of Treaty 7 First Nations oppose Bill C-69.
Roy Fox, chief of the Blood Tribe First Nation, said, “ I don't have any confidence in Bill C- 69. I am fearful, and I am confident, that it will keep my people in poverty.”
Steven Buffalo, the president and CEO of the Indian Resource Council, said, “Indigenous communities are on the verge of a major economic breakthrough, one that finally allows Indigenous people to share in Canada's economic prosperity. Bill C-69 will stop this progress in its tracks.”
The 35 first nations in B.C. and Alberta involved in the Eagle Spirit Chiefs Council said that they would take the government to court over Bill C-69 because it could make it “impossible to complete a project” and because the removal of the standing test for participation and project reviews could lead to foreign interests “overriding the interests of aboriginal title holders.”
Like most Canadians, indigenous leaders are concerned about the total lack of parameters that allows anyone anywhere in the world to intervene in impact assessment processes, significantly reducing the voices of local indigenous communities and risking the aspirations of local communities to be drowned out by distant and activist commentators. A lack of discretion to determine how different groups will participate in reviews will make processes more vulnerable to legal challenges in the case of any slight differentiation or disagreement between parties.
Yesterday, the claimed that the Senate amendment made indigenous consultation “optional”. Not only is that completely false, but the Liberals' rejection of Senate amendments will have a detrimental impact on locally impacted indigenous communities that want to meaningfully participate and seek accommodation in consultations on major resource projects, for which the Crown has a rock solid, undisputed primary duty.
The amendments the Senate made to Bill would have helped ensure that review panels, the agency and the Canadian energy regulator would have the discretion to hear from and prioritize those directly affected by a project and to consider the information, expertise and opinions of other experts as they would see appropriate.
As a representative of nine indigenous communities, almost all of which are involved in oil and gas, as a person of Ojibway descent myself and as a Conservative who is more interested in action, concrete measures and actual positive outcomes in the lives and well-being of the indigenous and all Canadians, it is very frustrating to listen to the Liberals and the left talk about the real crippling poverty and the particular socio-economic challenges and barriers facing indigenous Canadians, while they impose policies and laws, like Bill , Bill and others, that will block economic reconciliation and self-sufficiency through financial opportunities and that actively undermine years of efforts and work of those indigenous communities to secure agreements and build businesses through responsible resource development to benefit their communities' elders, youth and futures.
Legal experts agree with the assessment that Bill would not enhance or enforce expanded meaningful consultation with indigenous communities on major resource projects.
A University of British Columbia law professor, who specializes in indigenous law, says that there is nothing in Bill C-69 that improves meaningful dialogue with indigenous communities. He says, “the courts have said for 15 years that you need to have meaningful dialogue [and] there is nothing in [Bill C-69] that seems to do that.”
For the to stand in the House and say that indigenous consultation is weakened or made optional by the Senate amendments demonstrates either his basic lack of knowledge on indigenous consultation or he is deliberately misleading Canadians for political purposes.
Indigenous consultations are a constitutional requirement, a duty of the Crown. Nothing—
Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I would say that it demonstrates his basic lack of knowledge on indigenous consultation and the impact of Bill . Nothing in the legislation or Senate amendment package would change the current situation.
For decades, Canada has been a world leader in the incorporation of indigenous knowledge and expertise in project reviews and partnerships with indigenous communities, particularly of the top 10 major oil-producing regions in the world. Without a doubt, governments must improve their execution of their duties in this regard. However, the is wrong about this issue and Bill .
The proposed Senate package and the specific amendments the Liberals rejected responded to the concerns of indigenous communities to elevate and amplify their locally impacted voices in early engagement and throughout the review process.
Mark Wittrup, vice-president of environmental and regulatory affairs at Clifton Associates, reinforces that point. He says that Bill “will create significant delays, missed opportunities and likely impact those that need that economic development the most: northern and Indigenous communities.”
The Liberals have caused uncertainty around resource development in the past three and a half years, with their imposition of layers of costs and red tape in policies like the carbon tax. Canada is the only country out of the top 10 oil producers in the world to adopt one.
The Liberals' new fuel standard is a reckless experiment, with severe cost consequences for refining, petrochemical processing, manufacturing and others. Then there is their unilateral imposition of the offshore drilling ban and unilateral prohibitions of activity on wide swathes of land. Their shipping ban, Bill , is a direct attack on a specific industry, particularly damaging to a specific region of the country. It has already driven jobs, businesses and capital out of Canada at a nearly historic rate, resulting in a complete failure to build a single new inch of in-service pipeline.
The consequences of the Liberals' deliberate rejection of constructive suggestions from private sector proponents, economists, regulatory experts and various governments will be measured in more lost jobs, more cancelled projects, more missed contracts and more investment lost for a generation.
Energy companies are warning about the devastating impact on their workers and operations. This is in light of the oil and gas sector, which has already lost more than 100,000 jobs. It is likely closer to 200,000, if the statistics reflected employed individuals in the south. Over $100 billion in energy projects have been cancelled since 2015.
To put this in context, it is important to note that these numbers are the equivalent of losing the jobs created by the entire aerospace sector and almost all the auto sector. It is the equivalent of losing eight times the annual GDP generated by the aerospace sector and five times the GDP generated by the automotive sector.
If either of those two sectors were to face the same job losses and collapse in investment, we can bet, as there ought to be and has been, that there would be full attention and action from the federal government. However, the response to the devastation of the energy sector, of oil and gas workers and of their families has been empty rhetoric and platitudes, as well as a piling on of policies and laws, like Bill , that are out right hostile and make things so much worse.
Concerns about Bill span sectors and regions.
A joint letter from the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Gas Association, the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, The Explorers and Producers Association of Canada, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. and the Petroleum Services Association of Canada says that Bill will:
lead to greater uncertainty in the assessment and review processes [because it] requires assessment and decisions based on broad public policy questions that are beyond the scope of individual projects. It introduces longer timelines, and vague criteria that will increase the risk of legal challenges.
This is what the private sector proponents are warning.
They also take issue with the fact that Bill “gives the broad discretionary powers, which could further increase uncertainty for major infrastructure projects.” It also “put[s] at risk the investment needed for Canada to create the jobs and government revenues that support our quality of life.”
Certain criteria are essential to attracting and retaining investment in Canada, such as certainty in regulations, permanence of regulations, certainty in the form of timelines, performance-based policies that ensure benefits to communities by tying incentives to performance-based measures, such as job creation, research and development, innovation and capital investment.
Those criteria were hallmarks of Canada's regulatory framework for decades, with the most rigorous assessment, comprehensive consultation, high standards and strongest environmental protections in the world. However, from the beginning of the consideration of Bill , starting when the Liberals rushed the bill through the House a year and a half ago, proponents raised major concerns on each of these key elements. One of those elements is timelines.
Bill , as it is going to be passed by the Liberals, would create a potential for a delay that would allow the Governor in Council to extend timelines without providing justification. There is no hard time cap for the overall process. The criteria for making such an extension will be defined in regulations. Even after the Liberals ram the bill through the House, there will still be uncertainty around timelines, which we developed after the fact.
Literally, therefore, the cabinet will be the only power to decide when to delay a project. That is clear further politicization of the process and introduces further uncertainty for proponents considering a new project. That is why so many of the Senate amendments are dearly needed. They introduce legislative maximum time frames, they remove the ability for Governor in Council to extend timelines indefinitely and force the Governor in Council to provide reasons for suspending timelines. Maximum timelines set in law reduce uncertainty for investors, because time is money.
The Liberals' rejection of the Senate amendments clearly shows their intention to return to open-ended timelines. According to their legislation, the federal cabinet can keep resetting the process, forcing proponents to go through the same stage multiple times. That is the definition of “death by delay” now being implemented in law by these Liberals, which is a term and a tactic that anti-resource activists call their campaigns to kill Canadian resource projects.
Bill , without accepting the amendments from the Senate, would also grant a single minister the power to refuse to undertake an assessment at all. It would grant a single minister complete discretion regarding whether to designate a project under Bill 's lengthy and uncertain assessment process. That would result in considerable uncertainty for proponents, even where proposed projects would not be included on the project list. They simply could be added to it by a single minister, the Minister of Environment.
That sort of political uncertainty is unacceptable. Therefore, a single minister could kill a project by adding years of delay and hundreds of millions in additional costs. It does not really get any more political than that. This is why so many of the Senate amendments must be preserved to make this legislation workable.
That is, of course, related to one of the major concerns from industry, provinces and municipalities, and the Conservatives have been warning about it, which is the uncertainty around vague project criteria. As originally worded by the Liberals, who are again intending to ram through Bill , it would increase the length and the uncertainty of regulatory and judicial processes that already pose significant challenges to a timely completion on major resource projects.
Regulatory reviews already require significant commitment and exceptional due diligence by proponents, communities, as should be the case, but they are often extremely complex, duplicative and expensive and sometimes result in deep divisions.
Clear and concise criteria that projects are measured against ensures predictability for all parties and that ensures approved projects can actually get built, instead of having to repeat key parts of the process or spending years in court defending in approval.
However, the Liberals' Bill would add numerous additional criteria that would not be within the direct control of the proponent and criteria that would be so vague that it would be difficult to determine what they even would involve precisely, never mind for proponents to be able to determine how to incorporate them or how to account for them in their project proposals.
The Senate amendments, while not even as concise as the Conservatives would make them, are a vast improvement over the original Liberal wording. They would remove broad political debates from the formal review process and focus the fact and evidence-based review on criteria that would be measurable, quantifiable and predictable.
The concern with the Liberals' criteria that they are proposing in Bill by rejecting all the Senate fixes is that they are requiring the panel conducting the review to make determinations on matters that are subjective, that relate to the subjective policy priorities of the government and are inherently political.
How can a project proponent proposing a physical project based on engineering realities and the technical, economic, environmental and safety merits of a specific project anticipate and account for the particular political objectives of the current government of any given day? The answer is that it cannot. That uncertainty will stop proponents from proposing big projects and crucial infrastructure in Canada.