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View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2019-06-13 13:15 [p.29050]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House and speak in support of the third reading of Bill C-88. This bill would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. These changes have been long awaited by governments, both indigenous and territorial, in the Northwest Territories.
On Monday, we heard colleagues in the House speak to this bill, including the member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, who worked very closely with indigenous governments, treaty and land claim owners and the Government of the Northwest Territories to ensure that this bill would be in the best interests of the constituents he represents and would meet the standards they have been requesting from the Government of Canada.
I want to applaud the member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories for the great work he has done on Bill C-88 and for ensuring that members in this House on both sides fully understand this bill and the need for the changes being proposed.
Bill C-88 is based on a simple but wise idea, which is that the best way to regulate development along the Mackenzie Valley and in Arctic waters is to balance the interests of industry, the rights of indigenous governments and organizations, and environmental protection. The proposed legislation before us aims to achieve this balance in three ways.
First would be by foster certainty, which is required by industry. As we know, the Northwest Territories is no stranger to industry. It has been home to some of the largest mining developments in Canada and to some substantial energy, oil and gas developments. It is a region of our country that has been very active in engaging with industry.
Second would be by reinstating a mechanism to recognize the rights of indigenous communities to meaningfully influence development decisions. This would allow indigenous communities to have full input, full insight and full decision-making in industry and resource developments that are occurring within their land claim areas. This would allow them to be part of development, to look at the impacts and benefits of development initiatives, and to be true partners in decisions and outcomes.
Third would be by ensuring that scientific evidence on the state of the environment would inform development decisions. The indigenous governments of the Northwest Territories have set up a model that allows them to look at individual projects and their impact on the environment, not just today but for generations to come, and to make decisions based on scientific information. Scientific evidence ensures that decisions are informed, not just from an economic perspective but from an environmental perspective.
As it stands today, the regulatory regime fails to strike this balance. In particular, the regime currently in place fails to provide clarity, predictability for proponents who are investing, and respect for the rights of indigenous communities in that region and in the north. In large part, that is because of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, which was endorsed by this House in 2015, and which I, too, voted for. However, it was subsequently challenged by a court order, which led the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories to effectively suspend key provisions of the act. This ruling caused uncertainty in the regulatory regime for the Mackenzie Valley, and as many of my colleagues have already stated, that uncertainty has not been good for business.
I voted for the bill in 2015, even though it contained clauses that would eradicate the treaty rights of indigenous people in the Northwest Territories. We knew it was wrong. We fought hard to change the bill. We proposed amendment after amendment, but the Harper government would have none of it. It accepted no amendments to the bill that would ensure the rights of indigenous people.
We were left to make a choice. Do we support the devolution of the Northwest Territories, which needed to happen and was long overdue, or do we not support it because of these clauses? We supported the bill but said that when we formed government, we would reverse the negative legislation in the bill that eradicated the rights of indigenous people and did not uphold the environmental and economic responsibilities that should be upheld in any major development. We made a commitment to the people of the Northwest Territories that when we formed government, we would change the legislation to reflect what they wanted. That is what we are doing today.
Over the last couple of years, we have worked very closely with indigenous governments in the Northwest Territories, its member of Parliament and the Government of the Northwest Territories to get this legislation right and change the injustices caused by the Harper government and imposed on people in the Northwest Territories. Today we are removing them.
We would be allowing companies that want to invest in the Northwest Territories through major resource development projects to have certainty. This would ensure that there would be no unforseen impacts for them and would ensure that they would know the climate in which they are investing and the process expected of them.
We would allow indigenous governments, which have had land claims, treaty rights and self-government agreements for many decades, to take back control of their own lands and to make decisions in the best interests of their people for generations to come, and to do so in a systematic and scientific way that looks at all the impacts and benefits. This would allow these indigenous governments to not only have a choice about whether a project went forward but to have the opportunity to partner with investors and resource development companies. Everyone can benefit when they work together.
That is the kind of relationship we have promoted right across Canada with indigenous groups, territorial and provincial governments, investors, resource development agencies and others.
Today we would legislate the changes we committed to in 2015 regarding the Northwest Territories. We know that the legislation would achieve the balance we are trying to establish in three ways. I have already outlined them in my speech.
I want to take a few minutes to talk about how Bill C-88 would restore certainty in the regulatory regime, which was a key aspect of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act. The act eliminated regional boards mandated to review proposed development projects that were likely to impact the traditional lands of three particular indigenous groups: the Tlicho, the Gwich’in and the Sahtu. Their rights were eradicated, and the impact on their lands and treaty agreements forced on them, by the Harper government.
Today we would be giving the Tlicho, the Gwich’in and the Sahtu the right to make decisions about their own lands. They could look at the impact on their traditional lands, their way of life and their environmental footprint and at how their people can benefit from development projects.
It is just common sense, so why would any government want to take that away from indigenous groups in Canada? We saw only a few years ago that the former Harper government had no shame when removing rights from indigenous groups and indigenous governments. That is exactly what it did to the Tlicho, the Gwich'in and the Sahtu in the Northwest Territories. They had spent years working and negotiating with the federal government and territorial government. Generations of elders never lived to see the day they reached self-government agreements in their own lands.
When they finally did, it was an opportunity for them. That opportunity was eroded by the Harper government overnight with one piece of legislation that said that it would now tell them how they were going to regulate resource development in their traditional lands and in the Northwest Territories.
We made a commitment then that if we ever formed government, we would reverse those changes, and that is exactly what we are doing today. Each of those communities concluded comprehensive land claim agreements. Doing so in this country guaranteed them a role on land and water boards and a mandate to review and make decisions on development projects on or near traditional lands. Parliament reviewed and endorsed each one of these agreements and authorized the establishment of the regional boards.
Bill C-88 proposes to reverse the board restructuring and reintroduce the other provisions that were suspended by the Supreme Court decision. These indigenous groups in the Northwest Territories knew that their rights were violated by the Harper government. They knew that what was happening was the epitome of colonization. That is why they fought in the courts. They went to the Supreme Court to argue their case, to say that they had negotiated these rights, that they were inherent rights, that they had treaty agreements and that no government should have the right to impose upon them the way the former government did.
The Supreme Court decision outlined several things that needed to happen to restore confidence in the regime, particularly among indigenous people and proponents and investors in resource development in the Northwest Territories.
The proposed legislation would build confidence in another way. It would clarify the processes and expectations for all parties involved in the regulatory regime. I happen to live in the north, and I represent a riding that is very engaged in resource development, the mining industry and the energy sector in particular. I also know that with every one of those development projects, there are major investments and major commitments. There is nothing better in moving forward on a project than knowing what all the expectations are of all the parties involved and knowing what the process is and what is expected of companies before they put a shovel in the ground. Those things are important.
The party opposite will say that Liberals are too engaged in regulating, restricting and putting too many demands around the environmental component. However, large-scale industries that care about the people where they want to develop want to do what is right. They want to ensure that their environmental footprint is as small as it can be. They want to have the support of the indigenous people and the communities in which they are investing. They want to have strong partnerships to ensure that their development projects are not interrupted by protests or by unforeseen regulations and can move forward and are sustainable. That is why many of these companies, and many I have known personally over the years, are happy to sign impact benefit agreements.
These companies are happy to work with indigenous governments to hire indigenous workers, to ensure that benefits accrue to their communities and to ensure that environmental concerns that indigenous and non-indigenous people have with development in their areas are going to be listened to and dealt with. These companies want to address those issues up front. They do not want to plow into communities and put pressure on them to do things. They do not want to rule what is going to happen. They want to operate in partnership, too.
It is the party opposite that has the idea that these companies are not interested because they have to follow regulatory regimes or look at what the environmental implications are. Very few companies would take that approach, and I am so proud that in this country there are companies investing heavily in resource development that really care about the footprint they leave behind for the environment and the people who live there. Those are the companies that are successful and that Canadians hold up as examples of how resource development partnerships work with communities and indigenous people in Canada. We should be very proud of that. We should not be trying to change how we do that through legislation and impose regulations on people because we think they should do it this way or that way.
People should understand that in the previous legislation by the Harper government, Conservatives wanted to get rid of the regulatory boards of the Gwich'in, the Sahtu and the other groups in the Northwest Territories. They wanted one megaboard to deal with all these issues. They even hired a consultant by the name of McCrank. When Mr. McCrank testified at committee, I sat in that day. One of the questions asked of him was where he came up with the idea that we should get rid of the regulatory boards in the Northwest Territories, that indigenous groups should no longer have control over what is happening on their own lands, their own regulatory boards or negotiating their own deals, and that we would infringe upon them and implement a super regulatory board in the Northwest Territories for the Mackenzie Valley.
When he was asked where that idea came from, he did not know. He did not know where that idea came from or who suggested it to him, but he wrote it in a report as a strong recommendation, and the Harper government at the time said it would run with it, yet everyone in the Northwest Territories, including the three aboriginal groups and the territorial government, knew this was not the right approach and wanted to stop it. This is what is happening today.
We are restoring confidence to the people in the Northwest Territories. Under this act, we would also make changes to the petroleum regulatory board. A moratorium would be implemented that would allow the reissuing of licences for oil and gas development in the Northwest Territories. This moratorium would be revisited every five years. As we know, there were no new applications for licences, no investment was being made. There was no projection for oil and gas, and there was no body to manage oil and gas development in the Northwest Territories to ensure there would be benefits to that region.
It is not like Atlantic Canada, which has oil and gas agreements that pay royalties to the provinces. There are agreements in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec. When the Northwest Territories asked the former government for that agreement, the answer was no. It did not want to pay royalties to the indigenous groups or the territorial government on oil and gas. We are working with them to get it right, and that is why this bill is important today.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2019-06-13 13:36 [p.29053]
Madam Speaker, first of all, with the legislative agenda, we would not be here doing this today if the member opposite and her government had gotten it right in the first place.
If the Conservatives had listened to the Sahtu, the Gwich'in and other governments of the Northwest Territories at the time, we would not be here today making those amendments. That is the first point.
The Conservatives say that we voted for it in 2015. We voted for the devolution agreement of the Northwest Territories, and these other amendments were tied into the bill, which was eroding the rights of indigenous governments. We had to make a difficult choice, and our choice was to support the bill at the time, which was the devolution of land claims in the Northwest Territories, but with a commitment to the people that we would make these changes and revert the amendments the Harper government made, and that is what we are doing today.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2019-06-13 13:39 [p.29053]
Madam Speaker, the member spoke about her former colleague and his representation on this issue back in 2015. I remember he was very strong on this issue and advocating for it.
With regard to Bill C-262, like many others in this House, I want to see the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples implemented in Canada. We have supported it. We strongly believe in it. We believe in the fundamental principles of UNDRIP. We believe that it is important in guiding future governments in Canada in how we deal with indigenous people. I, too, would support the member in encouraging the Senate to move forward with its amendments and bring it back to the House of Commons.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2019-06-13 13:41 [p.29053]
Madam Speaker, we can only hope that one day Conservatives will see that indigenous rights are in the best interests of all people who live in this country.
For many generations, we have seen the violation of indigenous rights, of well-constituted treaties and agreements that have never been followed and implemented. As a government, we have taken a different decision. We have worked closely with indigenous governments, with provinces and territories to do what is in the best interests, in the right interests, of indigenous people in Canada.
It is unfortunate to see what is happening in Manitoba. It is unfortunate to see what is happening in Ontario, with funding being cut to indigenous groups and organizations. We sit in a Parliament today where the Harper government for 10 years did not invest in indigenous people and communities in this country. In the four years we have been here, we have invested more than $17 billion in additional revenue into indigenous governments and communities in Canada.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2019-06-13 13:43 [p.29054]
Madam Speaker, I do not think there was a question there, but I would certainly like to respond to the member's comments. If he wants to talk about the colonization of indigenous people in Canada over the generations, there is enough blame to go around for everyone in this country, whether Conservative, NDP, Green or Liberal.
I really believe that reconciliation is about finding a new path forward. It is about working together to ensure that indigenous people in Canada have their proper place and the ability to have some control and say about the traditional lands which they founded and formed. As hard as it may be to swallow, it is the right thing to do. I would suggest that the Conservatives get on board and make reconciliation real in Canada for all Canadians.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2019-06-11 22:43 [p.28972]
Mr. Speaker, I listened very attentively to my colleague across the way, and there are so many things I could say in response. I know I do not have the time to do so, but I will have the opportunity down the road.
The member talked a lot about what is in the national interest of the country. I want to remind him that the national interest is defined by Canadian legislation. Several references to that can be found in different acts within the House. When I get a chance to speak, I can certainly point them out. Once he has an opportunity to read them, I am sure he will see more clearly why the phrase is used in the context of this decision.
In addition, what the member failed to talk about this evening is how the Liberal government has gotten to where we are today with this piece of legislation. We are here because the Conservatives passed a bill in 2014 that took away the rights to ownership of indigenous land claims and treaties in the Northwest Territories. The bill would restore those values, that trust and the agreements back to indigenous governments in the Northwest Territories.
If that trust had not been broken and the treaty agreements had not been threatened under previous legislation by the Harper government, we would not be here this evening having to right the wrong that was done to indigenous governments in this country. Why did the member not want to speak to that issue this evening?
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
moved that Bill C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2019-06-10 21:37 [p.28863]
Mr. Speaker, I have been listening with some intent to the debate. We had a very interesting set of remarks from the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa and then of course some questions from the member for Northwest Territories and then perhaps slightly backhanded support from the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for the bill.
Many of us were elected in 2015 on the sense that people did not want a “father knows best” approach to government any longer. The top-down, unconstitutional approach is actually what was stalling our resource development and leading to so many injunctions against resource projects.
Perhaps I should not say this because they might actually do it, but until the Conservatives take a long hard look in the mirror and accept their failure on this file, they will stay on that side of the House for a long time.
Does the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay think that this bill would allow more resource development to happen in the north, or should we go back to the Harper form?
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2019-04-09 13:21 [p.26868]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people in support of a bill that proposes to strike a more appropriate balance between environmental protection, social responsibility and economic development in Canada's north. As my hon. colleagues recognize, Canada is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, and throughout Canada's history these resources have been a cornerstone of the economy.
While the national economy grows ever more diverse thanks to the rise of other sectors, resource development remains crucial to our national prosperity. Resource development projects create jobs and export sales and stimulate technological innovation. Tempering these benefits, however, are the environmental and social impacts of resource extraction and development. These include pollution, destruction of ecosystems and changes in the fabric of communities and traditional indigenous ways.
Throughout much of our nation's history, while we relied on resource development for prosperity and growth, we often failed to appreciate and take into account its long-term environmental and social consequences. To strike a better balance between economic and environmental concerns, Canada has developed a unique regulatory regime that governs resource development projects in the north, a regime that is co-managed with indigenous partners.
The regime requires that proposed projects undergo stringent reviews of anticipated impacts. This regulatory regime helps to ensure that resource projects maximize potential economic benefits and minimize potential environmental impacts. In this way, the regime restores public confidence and creates certainty and predictability, which are so important in industry, and it sets the foundation for a sustainable and long-term natural resource industry in the north.
I am going to take the opportunity now to advise that I will be splitting my time with the parliamentary secretary, the member for Acadie—Bathurst.
To maintain an appropriate balance between these concerns, the regulatory regime evolves continually as Canada evolves and as our understanding of the environment and of resource development deepens. In the north in particular, the settlement of modern land claims has enabled the creation of unique systems of governance in co-operation with our indigenous partners.
Through the amendments proposed in Bill C-88, our government has established a clear path forward in managing land, water and natural resources in the Mackenzie Valley, one that respects indigenous inhabitants and is fair and equitable to industry. These amendments strengthen trust and provide certainty, and they provide an effective approach to natural resource co-management. They also support a modern regulatory regime that is stable, predictable, coordinated and balanced.
Bill C-88 responds to the concerns raised by indigenous governments and organizations in the Mackenzie Valley about the provisions of the 2014 Northwest Territories Devolution Act. That act devolved the administration and control of public lands and waters to the Government of the Northwest Territories and also made other amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act.
Those 2014 amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act included provisions to amalgamate the regional land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley into a single board. While the government of the day argued that an amalgamated board structure would provide clarity and certainty to the regulatory regime in the Mackenzie Valley, the opposite occurred.
Instead of bringing certainty, the proposed amalgamated boards led to court challenges by indigenous organizations. Indigenous groups argued that their authorities in land and water management, guaranteed by their land claims and self-government agreements, were not being respected, and that their land and water boards could not be unilaterally abolished by the federal government.
A court injunction in February of 2015 halted the provisions of section 253(2) of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, the section that included restructuring of the land and water boards. The injunction also affected important policy measures that are central to the regulatory regime, such as the use of development certificates and their enforcement scheme and inspection notice requirements on Gwich'in and Sahtu lands.
So much for bringing certainty to the regulatory regime. Stakeholders agree that the 2014 legislation has done the opposite; it creates a climate of uncertainty and discourages the responsible development of the Mackenzie Valley's natural resources.
The Government of Canada is committed to exploring ways to fix the restructuring provisions, resolve the legal proceedings and renew the government's relationship with indigenous peoples in the Northwest Territories.
Bill C-88 is the product of productive discussions with indigenous governments and organizations, the Government of the Northwest Territories, resource co-management boards, industry and other stakeholders. Input received has been carefully considered and helped shape the bill.
If passed, Bill C-88 will undo the controversial land restructuring provisions and reintroduce important regulatory improvement provisions from the Northwest Territories Devolution Act that did not come into force due to the court injunctions. Bill C-88 provides certainty to proponents, and it supports a modern-day regime that balances environmental, social and economic well-being.
My understanding is that the Government of the Northwest Territories supports the amendments proposed in Bill C-88, contrary to what the opposition has said. Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories also want these amendments. The mining industry that conducts its business in the territory is not opposed to the board restructuring amendments, and supports anything that provides greater clarity and certainty in the regulatory process and gets us through these injunctions.
Companies with commercial interests in the north also understand the importance of protecting the unique arctic environment, while pursuing safe, responsible development, which creates jobs and economic growth right in the northern communities from whence the resources come.
Bill C-88 proposes to improve the regulatory regime in the north through a series of amendments informed by several important developments. These include the court challenges I mentioned earlier, as well as the accelerated impacts of climate change in the Arctic and the Government of Canada's commitment to foster reconciliation between indigenous peoples and the Crown.
The amendments proposed in Bill C-88 would increase predictability, consistency and timeliness of regulatory reviews in the north, while strengthening environmental protections. Northerners deserve a fully functional, modernized regulatory regime that meets their particular needs, the kind of regime that promotes growth and prosperity while at the same time safeguards the fragile northern ecosystem, the kind of regime that strikes the appropriate balance between economic and environmental concerns.
Bill C-88 would provide the clarity and certainty that the regulatory process needs in order to encourage industry investment in resource development in the Mackenzie River valley. I call upon all members of the House to support Bill C-88, which will enable us to balance the development of untapped economic potential in the north with strong partnerships and sound environmental stewardship.
One of the main issues that has arisen in my conversations with oil and gas companies around uncertainty, and I know the opposition shadow minister raised this point, actually relates to the uncertainty that arises out of the courts. The biggest fear of companies that have proposed to invest billions of dollars in resource development and extraction is that the courts will impose some type of an injunction late into their process, creating a great amount of uncertainty as to whether or not their capital can be effectively deployed. This is exactly what happened with TMX. It is exactly what happened with the previous 2014 legislation that this bill hopes to amend. It is the greatest source of risk that our government is trying to fend off.
Although some members of the House suggest that these injunctions occurred on our watch and, therefore, must be our fault, the exact opposite is the case. The injunction arose in the cases that I just mentioned from decisions that were made by the previous government and its failure to properly consult, to take indigenous concerns into account, to abide by our constitutional commitments and to abide by the duty to accommodate.
This is what so much of our focus has been on for the last four years, to get our environmental regulatory regime back in line with our constitutional and economic commitments, to help make sure indigenous communities thrive. In this particular instance, we have the right balance and we know we do because the groups that have brought forward the injunction are in favour of the changes.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2019-04-09 13:31 [p.26870]
Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, the regulatory regime that we are living under is the regulatory regime that the Conservatives put in place. The legislation that we are trying to get through the House today, as well as Bill C-69, which is before the Senate, is our attempt to fix the regulatory system. If the member's complaint is that our regulatory system does not work, then he only has his own party to blame.
Having said that, we do not pick one month and base the entire job-number argument on it. Since we have been elected, there have been 900,000 new jobs and 825,000 people lifted out of poverty. We are looking forward to getting a number of environmental assessment processes through what we consider to be the failed 2012 process but it is the process we have, with full indigenous consultation where indigenous peoples have been funded for their participation. We are so excited that the Newfoundland offshore will have an opportunity, hopefully, to avail itself of that this summer.
Of course, we look forward to a final decision on an improved process for the NEB, which, again, if it had been done right the first time, we would have had four years of pipeline to our coast to B.C. However, we did not because of the previous government's ineptitude.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2019-04-09 13:33 [p.26870]
Mr. Speaker, if I understood correctly, the question relates to our efforts with respect to housing for indigenous peoples.
My neighbour, the Minister of Indigenous Services, is handling the housing situation in indigenous communities. While the strategy may not have been presented by a member from Quebec, it is coming from the Minister of Indigenous Services. Budget 2019 includes a many new investments in that regard.
We are not going to simply enforce our own view of what a housing strategy for indigenous people will look like. Our indigenous services minister will work with indigenous people to make sure that the money in budget 2019 for indigenous housing is deployed in a way that helps them, as I am sure the member will appreciate and respect.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2018-12-03 12:03 [p.24295]
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 C-88, 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 C-15, 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 member for Northwest Territories 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 Prime Minister 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.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2018-12-03 12:19 [p.24297]
Mr. Speaker, when I came to politics in 2013, what I remember very clearly were the early meetings I had with groups in the Northwest Territories with regard to the bill and the changes the Conservative government was pushing forward.
At that time, aboriginal governments and many others across the Northwest Territories were pushing back, but the Harper government was not listening. That government was unilaterally making changes with regard to how resource development would occur in the Northwest Territories without accepting the wishes, the understanding or even having further discussions with aboriginal governments at that time. That was the reason they sought the court injunction.
In making these changes, we have been able to build a relationship and a partnership with aboriginal governments to do what they feel is necessary and what is supported by the industry and by the Government of the Northwest Territories.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2018-12-03 12:21 [p.24297]
Mr. Speaker, it is fair to say that when it comes to the development of oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic, a lot of work has to be done on the technical side and with the logistical challenges that exist in that area, including the short operating season and ice conditions. Recently, when I was in the Inuvialuit region, I had the opportunity to have this discussion with people there as well as many others across the north.
One thing that northerners can agree on is that we need to have the technology in place to resolve the challenges when it comes to enabling offshore drilling and we need to ensure we can do that safely in the future. The goal of everyone in the north is to ensure we get this right and we do it properly.
That is why there is a process in place between the federal government and territorial governments so we look at this carefully and move forward together.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2018-12-03 12:23 [p.24297]
Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to offshore oil and gas development. It is committed to ensuring there is a pipeline that would allow the export of oil and gas around the world and build that industry within Canada.
However, we will also ensure that whatever we do, whatever investments we make, whatever developments occur within the oil and gas industry are done in the best interests of not only the people in our country, but also done in the best interests of our environment. We will take the time to ensure that offshore drilling in the Arctic and Beaufort Sea is done safely and properly in the future. That is the responsible thing to do and it is supported by many in the country.
When it comes to further oil and gas development, we are the one government that has stood up in the country to ensure we get a pipeline built so we can get oil and gas to market and continue to build on that industry for Canadians.
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