Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-11 22:07 [p.28967]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being able to use the rest of my time on Bill C-88, which would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.
This is a very important piece of legislation in my riding of Northwest Territories. The Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act is the legislation that defines our unique system of land and water management in Mackenzie Valley, which is most of the Northwest Territories.
I had left off yesterday discussing the previous amendments made in 2014 to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. The current amendments would not only fix the terribly thought out board amalgamation amendments of the previous government, but would also reintroduce all of the other proposed improvements to and modernization of the act that were halted with the NWT Supreme Court injunction.
These amendments were initially brought in by the members opposite, so I really cannot understand why they would be against Bill C-88. It must be their resistance to getting rid of the superboard and affirming the importance of the regional panels as set out in the constitutionally protected land claim agreements.
Other amendments in Bill C-88 clarify board composition when special representatives are added to the boards and provide for board member term extensions to allow for the completion of ongoing proceedings.
The amendments also allow for the creation of an enforceable development certificate scheme to clarify expectations for developers and enforcement agencies, following the environmental assessment. The development certificate amendment process provides for the reconsideration of specific elements of a project rather than having to undergo a full project environmental assessment for technological or environmental changes. Regional study provisions, if employed, would simply add valuable information to the regional data centre that could help inform responsible development.
The regulation-making authorities for administrative monetary penalties and cost recovery are also proposed in this bill and are consistent with modern-day approaches to resource management in other parts of the country. All northern partners, including industry groups, would be involved in the development of these regulations, which would provide further clarity on expectations, roles and responsibilities.
As we all know, there are those across the aisle who seem to not want to have a robust, inclusive and effective regulatory process in the Northwest Territories. The resulting ill-informed and cherry-picking amendments to the MVRMA were brought in by the previous Conservative government in 2014. The Conservatives' goal was to move decisions away from regional community members and restructure the land and water boards with a complete disregard for land claim agreements. As history has shown, the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories had a problem with that.
Indigenous governments have settled land claims. Canada and the NWT government worked very long and hard to conclude these agreements. They cannot be ignored for expediency, for political gain and pandering to interest groups. As we have seen in this case, and we will see in the future if required, if any level of government thinks it can just set them aside when convenient, it will end up before the courts and will not like the outcome.
Bill C-88 is not just about keeping decision-making in the hands of those who know best, the indigenous and northern people; it is also about targeted improvements to the regime as a whole. These amendments do both.
I thank everyone here today for their continued support. Hopefully, we will see some new supporters here today. These amendments would right past wrongs and certainly improve the regulatory system in the north.
I certainly want to highlight the initial work that the Tlicho government has done to spearhead the court challenge of the ill-conceived Conservative amendments back in 2014, which stopped the superboard from ever being created in the first place. Their successful injunction at the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories suspended those flawed provisions from being enacted.
Finally, I would like to thank the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs for bringing them forward. I wish him well and look forward to seeing and working with him in the future.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have found it very interesting that as the Liberals have been debating this particular bill, they only pay attention to half of the bill, and that is the half related to the water board issue. They are completely silent on the very important second half, which is a direct paradox to consultation and collaboration. It is where the government is taking the power onto itself, in terms of placing moratoriums through Governor in Council, through the executive branch, for very vague national interest reasons.
I would ask my colleague to ignore part A in his answer, but look at Bill C-69, Bill C-48, the letter that was sent yesterday from the premier of his territory and part B of this bill, and tell us if he believes that the government is acting in the best interests of his territory.
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-11 22:14 [p.28968]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the hon. member. There are not only two parts to this piece of legislation. There are actually three. The first part is referring to the superboard. The second part contains the eight regulatory items that were brought forward by the previous Conservative government that I think everybody agreed to and were focused on. When the bill came forward it had the superboard attachment. In Bill C-88, we have a further piece which is the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act. I believe that is the part the member is referring to.
We heard loud and clear from the Premier of the Northwest Territories when he appeared as a witness in front of the indigenous affairs committee. The member was chairing the meeting so she was there when he said he appreciated how well the negotiations were going. There are negotiations that are happening with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the Government of the Northwest Territories and the federal government that will bring oversight and co-management abilities on the Beaufort Sea. This is a piece that was ignored by the previous Conservative government. The Conservative government would not put the Beaufort Sea discussions on the table.
I find it very surprising when members are concerned about how we react to the discussions on the Beaufort Sea when the previous Conservative government would not include it. Neither would it include the Norman Wells oil fields, two cash cows that generate revenue. They were left out. They were not part of the deal. The Conservative government would not let them put these items on the table, but our government has.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
He probably already knows that the NDP will be supporting Bill C-88, which fixes some of the mistakes made by the previous government.
We agree on the broad principles and the fact that the people of the Northwest Territories should have the right to manage their own affairs and govern themselves when it comes to assessments and respect for the environment.
I do, however, have one simple question. My colleague, and all other members of the Liberal government, voted to support the bill that states that we must respect and include the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in every piece of Canadian legislation. Unfortunately, it has not been included in Bill C-88. I would like to know why.
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-11 22:16 [p.28968]
Mr. Speaker, I would argue that this is UNDRIP in action. This includes all of the indigenous governments in the regulatory process. Every government that has agreed to and signed on to the land claim agreements is involved in the regulatory process in the Northwest Territories. Fifty per cent of the seats are guaranteed for indigenous people. We have a resource revenue-sharing component in the Northwest Territories. I do not think any other jurisdiction has that, a revenue-sharing component for indigenous people. They get 20% of the Government of Northwest Territories' share.
This is the best example we could have when it comes to inclusion of indigenous people. I think it is a model that other jurisdictions, including the hon. member's province, could look at using. Other countries have come to look at how we operate and how we include indigenous people. They see it as a very good model that we should share with other jurisdictions.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-06-11 22:18 [p.28969]
Mr. Speaker, a lot of the debate has been technical, but I want to ask a more spiritual question.
When you make a treaty with first nations, like the treaties with the Sahtu, the Deh Cho and the Gwich'in, there is a trust there. They trust that the government will at least follow the treaty and it will keep its word.
Then, how does it feel when we pass a law in this Parliament that breaks the treaty, that is unlawful, that does not follow the rules of a treaty? This is not the first time it has happened in our history, obviously. I certainly think you would have strong feelings on this.
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-11 22:18 [p.28969]
Mr. Speaker, it took many years to get to the point where the management and decision-making around resource development in the Northwest Territories could be agreed to in the form of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. The government of the day agreed to it, signed on to it, only to renege a couple of years later, saying it was going to make changes, while not consulting with anybody. A consultant was brought in from Alberta, a consultant who specialized in oil and gas and knew nothing about land claims or self-government or any kind of legislation in that area.
I think it shattered the trust of all the indigenous people who were involved with the Mackenzie Valley resource management boards and also the people who were involved in the creation of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. It has taken a long time. People wonder why it has taken so long to bring Bill C-88 back to the table. We had to deal with the trust factor. We had to convince indigenous people that we were serious and that we were not going to do what the previous government did, and that we were going to sort out all the issues before we got here.
Now, every indigenous government that has a role in the Mackenzie Valley boards supports this legislation. They have taken out ads in newspapers stating that they support it. The Government of Northwest Territories supports it. Industry supports it. It provides reassurance that they know the process and everybody is comfortable with it.
View Pat Kelly Profile
View Pat Kelly Profile
2019-06-11 22:20 [p.28969]
Mr. Speaker, I have travelled with the member to his territory a couple of times, and I know how important it is to him that the residents of his riding have access to employment opportunities. I know that is important to him and to the people of the Northwest Territories.
In his remarks and in general in the debate on this, there has been heavy criticism of Bill C-15 from the previous Parliament. Neither of us was in the previous Parliament. Is the member aware that his party voted for Bill C-15, the bill that the Liberals are now describing as this terrible, poor bill that needed to be undone by the government?
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-11 22:21 [p.28969]
Mr. Speaker, I am aware that Bill C-15 was a Conservative bill that really shattered the confidence of the indigenous people in the Northwest Territories.
It was a bill that never should have come forward. It is a bill that we are trying to correct today. There is an opportunity for my honoured colleague from across the way, who I travel with most weekends to return home, to support this bill. He has the opportunity to stand up now and support Bill C-88. I would appreciate it if he would do so. I think he knows the bill. He knows how important it is to the Northwest Territories. I think he is quite supportive of indigenous governments and resource development.
This would provide reassurance. I would ask the member to stand up and support this bill. Let us clear up some of the wrongdoings from the past.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have noticed a pattern with the government. It consults when it feels like it. In the case of the tanker moratorium, in the case of the northern gateway project, and in the case of the Beaufort Sea moratorium, there was no consultation. How does the member align that with his words about consultation around this bill, when clearly there are many times when the government has utterly failed in that area?
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-11 22:22 [p.28969]
Mr. Speaker, the member fails to point out that the moratorium was only on new exploration licences in federal waters. She does not point out the fact that there was no activity. There were no applications in sight. Historically, over the five years prior to that, it was $7 million. There is no economic boom if they are only going to find $7 million spent in the Northwest Territories as a whole on oil and gas. Therefore, there was a natural moratorium.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2019-06-11 22:23 [p.28969]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise tonight to speak to Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.
Once again, this bill, like many other bills we have seen in the House, is being debated and rushed through Parliament in the last few days before the House rises for the summer. It is worth noting that this is a bill that was only studied in our committee on indigenous and northern affairs for one meeting before we went into clause-by-clause consideration. As a result, we were unable to hear live testimony from stakeholders such as the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Northwest Territories Chamber of Commerce.
We have recently seen these legislative delays with other important bills, such as Bill C-92, which was passed at third reading in this House just last week, on June 3. It is totally unacceptable that the Liberals have so utterly mismanaged their legislative schedule when it comes to the bills that are now before us, days before we rise.
Bill C-88 is a bill that forms part of a long Liberal saga to kill natural resources development in this country. The bill would amend subsection 12(1) of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to allow the Governor in Council to arbitrarily ban any oil and gas activity across the Arctic offshore. Under this bill, the government would only need to invoke the national interest to ban oil and gas development in the Beaufort Sea. However, the term “national interest” remains undefined in this bill, so the government would have complete discretion to decide when it should ban oil and gas activities in the Arctic offshore. These opportunities for greater economic prosperity in the north would therefore be limited and controlled by the ministers here in Ottawa. Again, under the current government, Ottawa knows best.
We have already seen the Liberals reveal their paternalism when it comes to economic opportunities for northern communities. We just have to go back to December 2016. While the Prime Minister was in Washington, D.C., he announced that there would be a moratorium on offshore oil and gas development in the Beaufort Sea. No, he was not up in northern Canada. He was, in fact, meeting with President Obama in Washington.
There was absolutely no consultation with the Government of Northwest Territories before this moratorium was announced in Washington. In fact, the territorial leaders of the day were given less than half an hour's notice before the Prime Minister declared the moratorium, in the United States, the farthest destination away from northern Canada.
By single-handedly introducing a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Beaufort Sea, the Liberals are telling northern communities that Ottawa knows best. The Liberals are saying, through their actions, that northerners do not have the right to pursue their own economic opportunities without the approval of the current federal government.
We heard from multiple witnesses in committee about the devastating impact the Liberals' moratorium has had on northerners. Wally Schumann, the minister of industry, tourism and investment and the minister of infrastructure for the Northwest Territories, said the following about the moratorium:
I guess we can be very frank because we're in front of the committee.
When it first came out, we never got very much notice on the whole issue of the moratorium and the potential that was in the Beaufort Sea. There were millions and millions, if not billions, of dollars in bid deposits and land leases up there. That took away any hope we had of developing the Beaufort Sea.
We also heard from Merven Gruben, the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk. He was very disappointed with the Liberal decision to unilaterally impose this moratorium on northerners. He was very concerned about the effects this ban would have on the people of his community. He said:
It's so easy to sit down here and make judgments on people and lives that are some 3,500 klicks away, and make decisions on our behalf, especially with that moratorium on the Beaufort. That should be taken away, lifted, please and thank you. That is going to open up and give jobs to our people—training and all the stuff we're wishing for.
Unfortunately, the Liberals are not listening to the voices, again, of the northerners, and as a result, communities are paying the price now for the Liberal government's arrogance. There is absolutely no doubt that Bill C-88 is just another attempt by the Liberal government to polarize oil and gas extraction in this country. It explains the power of cabinet to block economic development and adds to the ever-increasing levels of bureaucratic red tape that need to be navigated by proponents of energy development.
The bill makes northern energy development more difficult by increasing the obstacles that must be overcome by energy proponents before they can even put shovels in the ground.
In response to these polarized anti-energy provisions, many stakeholders have voiced their concerns. One of the numerous stakeholders that want to see the Governor in Council power to ban oil and gas development removed finally from the bill is the Northwest Territories Chamber of Commerce. It has written submissions to our committee. The chamber indicated its opposition to the final authority of the Governor in Council to ban northern oil and gas development.
The chamber wrote to us as follows:
The final decision needs to be approved by the Indigenous Nation of the prescribed area who are the steward's of the area but also rely on the land to provide economic independence to their membership and throughout the NT.
Of course, in pushing through Bill C-88 without any amendments, the Liberals have demonstrated that they do not care about the opinions and concerns of our northern communities, which will be deeply affected by this piece of legislation. These northern voices are once again being ignored by the Liberal government.
Another important stakeholder that expressed really serious concerns about Bill C-88 was the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. Unfortunately, like the Northwest Territories Chamber of Commerce, the IRC was not afforded the opportunity at all to present live testimony to our committee, because, as I mentioned before, we were only given one day to hear from witnesses on this very important matter.
Again, the Liberals rushed the process. It was the result of the Liberals' mismanagement of the parliamentary agenda and a consequence of the fact that the Liberals left this bill to the very last minute for deliberations.
Like so many other crucial stakeholders, the IRC is opposed to the unilateral power to ban oil and gas development in the Arctic offshore, which the bill gives to the Governor in Council.
It is hardly surprising that the IRC is against the arbitrary power given to politicians here in Ottawa to determine the fate of energy development in the north. Bill C-88 says that the Governor in Council can ban oil and gas development projects when “it is in the national interests to do so”. However, does Bill C-88 tell us what the national interest is? Does Bill C-88 tell northern communities what the national interest is? No, of course not.
Like so many other Liberal anti-energy policies, questions of the national interests are only for the Liberals to decide and nobody else. The bill is simply a reinforcement of the arrogant mantra that the Liberals know best.
Given that the IRC was not given the opportunity to offer live testimony on this discussion on Bill C-88, I would like to read into the record some of the serious concerns the IRC highlighted in its written submission to our committee.
First of all, it bears noting that the IRC is an organization that was created way back in 1984 to manage the settlement that formed part of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, better known as the IFA. The Inuvialuit occupy the Inuvialuit Settlement Area, or the ISR, and beyond.
The IFA was the first comprehensive land claim agreement settled north of the 60th parallel and only the second settled in Canada's history.
Why was this land claim agreement so important for Inuvialuit people, and why did they initiate the negotiations with the Government of Canada? In the IRC's own words, the land claim negotiations “came in response to our limited influence in increasing development activity on our lands and the vast marine areas of the ISR.”
In the short term, then, the Inuvialuit secured a land claim agreement, in part, so that they could have greater influence over development activities on their own lands.
With this background in mind, the IRC has written about its serious reservations with regard to the power the bill would give to Ottawa to declare oil and gas moratoriums on IRC lands. In fact, the IRC already saw the Prime Minister declare a moratorium in a significant portion of their settlement region when the Liberals were first elected to power in 2016. In regard to this ban, the IRC wrote,
it is important to note that the imposition of the Moratorium by the Prime Minister was done without consultation with any Inuvialuit in contravention of the IFA and with the framework established and the promises made under the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement.
The Liberals simply seized the opportunity in 2016 to unilaterally implement a moratorium on oil and gas in the north while the Prime Minister, as I mentioned before, was not even in this country. He was in the United States of America looking for photo ops and free publicity. The Liberals did not consult at all with stakeholders before they took on this decision. What is worse, instead of apologizing to many of the northern communities that are suffering because of this moratorium, the Liberals are going full steam ahead with Bill C-88, as we see tonight, to ensure that they can unilaterally put bans on northern oil and gas development again and again.
Bill C-88 says that the Governor in Council can make these bans when it is in the national interest to do so. The IRC and Conservatives would like to know what the Liberals mean when they say “in the national interest”.
The IRC had the following to say on the issue of the national interest:
The national interest criterion is problematic as it elevates the national priorities of the day vis-à-vis Inuvialuit priorities within our traditional territory. It would be akin to an appropriation a constituent might experience in the south without any restitution from the government. Bill C-88 does not define national interest or incorporate an express requirement to consider how the national interest ought to be balanced against the ability of rights holders to provide for their economic future.
Despite these concerns from indigenous stakeholders in the north, the Liberals have demonstrated repeatedly, through their anti-energy policies, that they have no intention at all of ever balancing their vision of the national interest against the views of indigenous groups that do not share the Liberals' hostile attitude toward natural resource development.
Unfortunately, Bill C-88 is not the only bill the Liberals have pushed forward, to the detriment of the indigenous communities across this country. We have just heard from indigenous communities about the real concerns they have about Bill C-69, the Liberal environmental assessment act.
Stephen Buffalo, the president and CEO of the Indian Resource Council and a member of the Samson Cree Nation, 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.
Roy Fox, chief of the Kainai or Blood tribe first nation, said the following about Bill C-69:
...I and the majority of Treaty 7 chiefs strongly oppose the bill for its likely devastating impact on our ability to support our community members, as it would make it virtually impossible for my nation to fully benefit from the development of our energy resources.
Bill C-48, the northern B.C. oil tanker ban, is yet another Liberal anti-energy bill that the Liberals have rammed through this Parliament against the wishes of major indigenous stakeholders. Bill C-48 shuts the door to the Eagle Spirit pipeline proposal, an energy corridor that is supported by over 35 first nations and is an indigenous-led and indigenous-owned initiative. It is a $17-billion project that has the potential to provide economic opportunity to numerous indigenous communities. However, as with Bill C-88, this one tonight, Bill C-48 is another Liberal anti-energy bill that is both hurtful and patronizing to indigenous communities. Bill C-48 is another example of the Liberal government here in Ottawa telling indigenous communities that they cannot pursue their own natural resource development when it does not suit the interests of the Liberal agenda of the day.
Indigenous communities are tired of the paternalism that has been constantly demonstrated toward them by this anti-energy Liberal government. The chair and president of Eagle Spirit Energy, Calvin Helin, who is a member of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation, had the following to say about the viewpoint of the 35 first nations that are in favour of the Eagle Spirit pipeline. He said that these first nations “do not like outsiders, particularly those they view as trust-fund babies, coming into the traditional territories they've governed and looked after for over 10,000 years and dictating government policy in their territory.”
However, the Liberals clearly do not think that these indigenous viewpoints are part of the current government's idea of a national interest, so they choose to ignore these voices. As a result of Liberal indifference to the concerns of these indigenous groups, in 2018 the chiefs council for the Eagle Spirit pipeline had to launch a GoFundMe campaign just to help pay legal costs in a court challenge to Bill C-48. The Eagle Spirit project noted the sad state of affairs by stating that this action is required to be taken by Canada's poorest people against a federal justice department with unlimited resources. Other indigenous groups have either filed lawsuits or are planning to do so pending the legislative fate of Bill C-48.
Sadly, the Liberals again did not listen to these indigenous voices then, and they are not listening to the indigenous voices in our northern communities today. It is glaringly clear that all the Liberals care about is the pursuit of their anti-energy policies at all costs. However, the cost is a very real human cost to the ability of northern communities to be in control of their own economic development opportunities.
The Liberals have promised time and time again to work with northerners. With only days left now in this Parliament, when will the Liberals finally live up to this promise?
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 Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2019-06-11 22:45 [p.28972]
Mr. Speaker, I should note that I was not here when Bill C-15 first came forward under the previous government. However, of course, the Liberals voted for Bill C-15 in the last Parliament. Here they are now, saying it is no good, yet at the time, they voted for it. It is really interesting.
So what is the national best interest regarding the oil and gas in this country? Today, we saw the Prime Minister ridicule six premiers of this country, including the Premier of the Northwest Territories. They have major concerns over Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, and the Prime Minister took shots at all six of them today in the House.
View Guy Caron Profile
Mr. Speaker, we are indeed talking about Bill C-15, which this bill seeks to replace. I was in Parliament when Bill C-15 was passed under the Conservative government. It sought to replace the regional councils in the Northwest Territories with one large pan-territorial council.
The problem is that those regional councils were created as a result of land claim and self-government agreements with indigenous governments. The regional councils were created through nation-to-nation agreements. The Conservatives unilaterally overruled those decisions without consulting the indigenous peoples involved.
I would like to know why the member wants to go backward. Why he does not want to have this conversation and work on this nation-to-nation relationship that was undermined and ignored by the Conservatives?
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