Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon, everyone.
I first of all want to acknowledge something that is on everyone's mind today, which is the passing of a colleague and a friend to many. On behalf of our government and my family, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mark Warawa, my colleague, and to our colleagues from the Conservative Party and many others who have lost a friend today.
I would also like to take a moment to recognize that I am speaking to you from Treaty No. 7 territory. Such acknowledgements are important, particularly when we are meeting to talk about doing resource development the right way. Our government's approach to the Trans Mountain expansion project and the start of the construction season is a great example of that—of resource development done right.
Let me also begin by recognizing that I know this expansion project inspires strong opinions on both sides—for and against—and with respect to both sides of the debate, I want to assure everyone that our government took the time required to do the hard work necessary to hear all voices, to consider all evidence and to be able to follow the guidance we received from the Federal Court of Appeal last August.
That included asking the National Energy Board to reconsider its recommendation, taking into account the environmental impact of project-related marine shipping. It also included relaunching phase III consultations with indigenous groups potentially impacted by the project, by doing things differently and engaging in a meaningful two-way dialogue.
On that note, I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank the many indigenous communities that welcomed me into their communities for meetings over the last several months. I appreciate your openness, your honesty and your constructive ideas and sincerity of views.
Honourable members, no matter where you stand on TMX, this decision is a positive step forward for all Canadians. It shows how in 2019, good projects can move forward when we do the hard work necessary to meet our duty to consult indigenous peoples and when we take concrete action to protect the environment for our kids, grandkids and future generations.
When we came into office, we took immediate steps to fix the broken review system the Conservatives left behind. When the risks made it too difficult for the private sector to move forward, we stepped in to save the project. When the Federal Court of Appeal made its decision back in August of 2018, we made the choice to move forward in the right way.
When we finished this process, we were able to come to the right decision to deliver for workers in our energy sector, for Albertans and for all Canadians, a decision to support a project that will create jobs, diversify markets, support clean energy and open up new avenues for indigenous economic prosperity in the process.
Where do we go from here, now that the expansion has been approved? While these are still early days, we have a clear path forward for construction to begin this season and beyond. The Prime Minister laid out a lot of this on Tuesday afternoon as he announced our decision. Minister Morneau expanded on some of these details when he was in Calgary yesterday, talking about the road ahead and about launching exploratory discussions with indigenous groups interested in economic participation and about using TMX's revenues to ensure Canada is a leader in providing more energy choices.
We have also heard from the Trans Mountain Corporation about both its readiness and its ambition to get started on construction. Ian Anderson, the CEO of the Trans Mountain Corporation, made this very clear yesterday.
That's also what I heard when I visited with Trans Mountain Corporation workers yesterday in Edmonton. There were a number of contractors there. They are ready to proceed on the expansion of the Edmonton terminal, as well as on many of the pumping stations that are required to be built in this expansion.
The message is clear. We want to get shovels in the ground this season, while continuing to do things differently in the right way.
The NEB will soon issue an amended certificate of public convenience and necessity for the project. It will also ensure that TMC has met the NEB's binding pre-construction conditions. The Trans Mountain Corporation, meanwhile, will continue to advance its applications for municipal, provincial and federal permits. We stand ready to get the federal permits moving.
As all of that is happening, our government continues to consult with indigenous groups, building and expanding our dialogue with indigenous groups as part of phase IV consultations by discussing the potential impacts of the regulatory process on aboriginal and treaty rights and by working with indigenous groups to implement the eight accommodation measures that were co-developed during consultations, including building marine response capacity, restoring fish and fish habitats, enhancing spill prevention, monitoring cumulative effects and conducting further land studies.
We are also moving forward with the NEB's 16 recommendations for enhancing marine safety, protecting species at risk, improving how shipping is managed and boosting emergency response.
What is the bottom line? There is no doubt that there are a lot of moving parts. This is a project that stretches over 1,000 kilometres, but it is moving forward in the right way, as we have already proven with our $1.5-billion oceans protection plan, our $167-million whale initiative, our additional $61.5 million to protect the southern resident killer whale, and our investment of all of the new corporate tax revenues, as well as profits earned from the sale of TMX, in the clean energy projects that will power our homes, businesses and communities for generations to come.
Before making a decision, we needed to be satisfied that we had met our constitutional obligations, including our legal duty to consult with indigenous groups potentially affected by the project, upholding the honour of the Crown and addressing the issues identified by the Federal Court of Appeal last summer.
We have done that. We accomplished this by doing the hard work required by the court, not by invoking sections of the Constitution that don't apply or by launching fruitless appeals, both of which would have taken longer than the process we brought in.
While Conservatives were focused on making up solutions that wouldn't work, we focused on moving this process forward in the right way. We have confirmation of that, including from the Honourable Frank Iacobucci, former Supreme Court justice, who was appointed as a federal representative to provide us with oversight and direction on the revised consultation and accommodation process.
I will close where I began, which is by saying that we have done the hard work necessary to move forward on TMX in the right way, proving that Canada can get good resource projects approved and that we can grow the economy and deliver our natural resources to international markets to support workers, their families and their communities, all while safeguarding the environment, investing in clean growth and advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
Mr. Chair, I think this is a good place to stop and invite questions.
Thank you so much once again for having me here today.
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