Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I would say that it demonstrates his basic lack of knowledge on indigenous consultation and the impact of Bill C-69. 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 Prime Minister is wrong about this issue and Bill C-69.
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 C-69 “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 C-48, 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 C-69, that are out right hostile and make things so much worse.
Concerns about Bill C-69 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 C-69 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 C-69 “gives the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada 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 C-69, 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 C-69, 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 C-69, 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 C-69'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 C-69, 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 C-69 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 C-69 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.