Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you, Minister and departmental officials.
Minister, one of the primary tasks of this bill, as you talked about, is to reverse changes made by the former Conservative government with the Northwest Territories Devolution Act back in 2014. As you mentioned, this included consolidating the four land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley into one. The Liberal Party at that time supported it, including the current Prime Minister, and even your parliamentary secretary, MP Jones, who is with us here this morning.
I'm going to quote what she said at the time:
As Liberals, we want to see the Northwest Territories have the kind of independence it has sought. We want it to have the ability to make decisions regarding the environment, resource development, business management, growth, and opportunity, which arise within their own lands.
That is from 2014.
These comments actually stand in direct contradiction to Bill C-88, which extends powers to the cabinet to put moratoriums on energy development and to include the national interest, which, to be honest with you, has never really been clearly defined.
I will note that the Prime Minister of the day, when he did the moratorium, wasn't even in this country. He was in Washington, D.C., at the time he talked about the moratorium up north, and the elected northern officials at the time had less than half an hour to scramble to come up with the decision of the day.
I'm also going to talk, if you don't mind, about last night in the Senate, because it has major ramifications for northern Canada and moratoriums on northern development, allowing the north to make its own environmental and economic decisions. We have seen repeated paternalism coming from this government when it comes to energy development, not only in relation to northerners but as we saw last night first nations as well.
We saw it with Bill C-48 in the Senate last night: the B.C. oil tanker ban. As you know, Calvin Helin is the CEO of Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings, which is an indigenous-led group. He has been deeply critical of these types of moratoriums being directed by your government in Ottawa. He said, in response to these bans, “Is this what reconciliation is supposed to represent in Canada?”
That statement last night by Calvin speaks volumes, and we saw it last night in the Senate as they voted against Bill C-48. We'll see what happens when it comes back to the House.
We talk of an “Ottawa-down” approach. Can we let the north make the environmental and economic decisions instead of “Ottawa knows best”?