Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-10 20:41 [p.28856]
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by commending the member for the Northwest Territories for the work that he has done in working with the territorial government to really advance this legislation. I recognize that the previous government took some positive steps forward but brought in the concept of the superboards that were not well received. I, as well, have met with the territorial government, which would like to see this legislation advance.
I would appreciate it if the member could once again remind this House of the importance of this legislation, why it should move forward and what it is that would actually provide certainty to the energy sector. This legislation should move forward so that it could actually become law and help advance the territorial Government of the Northwest Territories, just as the member for the Northwest Territories has been championing and trying to advance.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I will make this a quick answer because, hopefully, the member for the Northwest Territories will also ask a question. He has been indispensable in ensuring this is moved forward in a timely fashion.
We do these things in the national interest to protect not only an essential part of Canada but indeed the entire world. We do so in consultation with the people who are up there, whether it is the Government of the Northwest Territories, industry or indigenous partners, but we need to take the time to listen to them. Once we listen to them, get their expertise and implement that into a package of laws that make sense, even ones that were proposed by the previous government, then these are things that allow industry to have what they expect, which is predictability in the process, a process where they will make an application knowing that an injunction will not come forward because it is constitutional. That is just a very, very simple example of it.
However, this predictability with all the partners involved allows these great projects, if and when they are put forward, to do so in a timely fashion where the government is actually, once it has done its job, out of the way and allowing people to get such good jobs.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
Madam Speaker, I find it absolutely ironic that the Liberal House leader suggested that we are sort of blocking this bill. This is actually the first speech at third reading. This is a government that has had four years to bring this important piece of legislation to the table. As my colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay said, when does their lack of planning become our emergency? It is appropriate for us to debate it at third reading. That is what we are doing.
I would like to ask the member this. Why in the final week of Parliament is it only at this stage when they could have introduced it years ago?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, quite clearly, if they are willing to mail in the next three weeks, we are not prepared to do so. The next three weeks are very important. There are plenty of bills—
An hon. member: You have mailed in the last four years.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Perhaps the member has been mailing it in for the last four years, but we have not. We have been trying to push forward the business of government despite fierce opposition. That is the opposition's job; we get it. Any bill presented before Parliament at this stage should be given serious consideration. This is an important stage, and members are free to debate it all they want. Simply put, we will give it the consideration it is due. If they care about the north, they will support the bill.
View Richard Cannings Profile
Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary's government supported the private member's bill put forward by my colleague, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, which asked the government to put the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into every appropriate piece of legislation that the government was going to produce, and here we have the most appropriate piece of legislation. This legislation is about resource development and about indigenous peoples.
We are here because of the lack of consultation. This legislation screams out to have the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples included in it, and yet it is not. I am wondering if the member might comment on that.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his fierce advocacy for indigenous peoples, and particularly the swift adoption of his colleague's private member's bill on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I am dismayed and disgusted that it is stuck in the other House in what amounts to bad faith from certain members on the other side. They are members of the Conservative caucus. It is incumbent upon members of the caucus in the House of Commons to push their colleagues to make sure that the bill goes through in a swift and timely manner. Indigenous peoples across Canada are waiting for this to come through, and it is an essential act of reconciliation.
This bill incorporates a number of elements, including the consultation review that indigenous people have been looking for. Many of the commentators on the bill have specifically underlined how it does in fact conform with the relevant provisions of UNDRIP.
View Carol Hughes Profile
Before I go to resuming debate, there seems to be a bit of confusion again about how those who are asking questions and making comments are selected.
Members may recall that on November 3, 2016, the following statement was made:
As Chair occupants, we recognize that the time for questions and comments is often the most valuable time for an exchange between members. In accordance with the procedures and practices, we will do our best to ensure that time is generally afforded to the members of the parties who are not associated with the member who has just spoken but not to the exclusion of that party....
That is the way we will do it. We will also be attentive to members who are particularly present during the day and paying attention to the debate to ensure that as many members as possible can participate....
I was going to recognize the member earlier. However, there was an agreement made that the government House leader was going to get up and ask that question. The hon. member for Northwest Territories could certainly have the first question that will be posed once the opposition does its speech.
Resuming debate. The hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand in the House to speak to this particular bill. Unfortunately, Bill C-88 is another anti-energy policy from the Liberal government, which is driving energy investment out of Canada, costing Canadian workers their jobs and increasing poverty rates in the north. Like Bill C-69 before it, Bill C-88 politicizes oil and gas extraction by expanding the powers of the cabinet to block economic development and adds to the increasing levels of red tape that proponents must face before they can get shovels in the ground.
Further, Bill C-88 reveals a full rejection of calls from elected territorial leaders for increased control of their natural resources. I am deeply concerned that with Bill C-88, the Liberals would entrench into law their ability to continue to arbitrarily and without consultation block oil and gas projects. As witnesses noted in the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, again we see the Liberal government putting together very different pieces of legislation. Before taking office, they promised to table only legislation that stands alone, and they have run away from that promise altogether.
The former Conservative government viewed the north as a key driver of economic activity for decades to come. Other Arctic nations, including China and Russia, are exploring possibilities. The Liberals, meanwhile, are arbitrarily creating more barriers to economic development in Canada's north, with the Liberal government's top-down and ever-paternalistic action to do nothing to reduce poverty in remote and northern regions of Canada. Northerners face the unique challenges of living in the north with fortitude and resilience. They want jobs and economic opportunities for their families, and they deserve a government that has their back.
Bill C-88 is another one in the long list of failed Liberal environmental policies. There are Bill C-69, which will further throttle natural resource development; Bill C-68, the new fisheries act, which will add another layer of complications to all Canadian economic development; Bill C-48, the tanker ban; as well as Bill C-55, the marine protected areas law. Added together, it is a complete dog's breakfast of anti-development legislation.
The natural resource industries are extremely important in this country. Indeed, I am very honoured and proud to represent a natural resource constituency. What do the natural resources consist of in this country? They are energy, forestry, agriculture, mining, commercial fishing, hunting, fishing, trapping and so on. In my riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, all of these activities take place in various regions, in all 66,000 square kilometres of my riding, and it sickens and angers me how the workers in the natural resource industries and the people in the communities are continually being attacked by the government, whether it is anti-firearms legislation, Bill C-69 or Bill C-68. All of these pieces of legislation collectively add up to a complete throttling of rural communities.
I listened with great humour to the parliamentary secretary's comments about the Mackenzie Valley. I cut my teeth as a young fisheries biologist doing environmental impact work in the Mackenzie Valley. I was there in 1971, 1972, 1975 and again in the 1980s. While I would certainly never claim to know as much about the Mackenzie Valley as does the hon. member for Northwest Territories, my experience as a biologist has been unique.
Back in the 1970s, when the first environmental impact assessment work was done in the Mackenzie Valley, I was part of teams of biologists who sampled every single waterway in the Mackenzie Valley where the pipeline would cross. We assessed fish and wildlife habitats up and down the valley, and I am one of the few people in this country, apart from the residents of the Mackenzie Valley itself, who have seen, experienced, photographed and measured essentially all of the environmental amenities and characteristics that the Mackenzie Valley has. In addition, I have also visited most communities. It was quite a while ago; nevertheless, I do not think a lot has changed.
The implication from the parliamentary secretary is that absolutely nothing has been done in the Mackenzie Valley, nothing at all. The work started in the 1970s, with the aforementioned environmental impact assessment that was done and that I was a part of. Those were the years of the Berger commission. The shameful Berger commission held hearing after hearing. That was a time when natural gas and energy prices were fairly high, so much so that Thomas Berger recommended that the project be shelved, which it was, after hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on exploration activities and with much community involvement. I was there. I saw it. I was part of it.
In the 1990s, it was done all over again. The same streams that we sampled in the 1970s were looked at, the same wildlife habitat, the same environmental characteristics were all measured and, again, the same conclusion was reached: no development.
The late 1990s were a time when natural gas prices were something like $15 per 1,000 cubic feet. It made the pipeline economical. Well, along came fracking, and the price of natural gas went down to $3 per 1,000 cubic feet, and in the mid-2000s, the pipeline project was shelved in perpetuity, leaving these communities consigned to poverty.
The Mackenzie Valley is a unique and wonderful place. The soils are rich and the trees are big. It is indeed an anomaly in the north. One does not have to go too far east of the Mackenzie Valley to hit the tundra. There have been experimental farms in the Mackenzie Valley. There was one at Fort Simpson when I was living there. Again, the agricultural and forestry potential is absolutely enormous.
The parliamentary secretary talks about the fragility of the Mackenzie Valley. I doubt he has seen it. All of the world's environments need to be treated with care. However, does he realize that there have been oil wells in Norman Wells since the Second World War? Does he realize that, in 1980, a pipeline was built from Norway House to Zama Lake, Alberta? All of these developments were done without any fanfare, and Norman Wells, producing some of the finest crude oil in the world, has been operating for decades now with little or no environmental impact. People who do not know what they are talking about and do not know about the environment are making laws that consign people in these communities to poverty in perpetuity, and that is absolutely shameful.
In terms of indigenous communities and resource development, one need only look at the Agnico Eagle gold mine at Baker Lake. I hate to break it to my friends opposite, who so object to resource development, but the employment rate in Baker Lake is 100%, thanks to that mining operation.
During the testimony for Bill C-69, I asked Pierre Gratton, the head of The Mining Association of Canada, about the social conditions in communities that operate in the diamond mining area. These are his words, not mine, but I am paraphrasing. He talked about the increase in education levels. Literacy went up; job training went up; and the social conditions improved.
The current government is consigning Canada's north and Canada's northern communities to poverty in perpetuity, and I hope it is happy about it, because I certainly am not. It is shameful what it is doing.
In my time as a biologist, I have seen the evolution of environmental policy, starting in the 1970s. I was not there, but I remember the first Earth Day in 1970, which Maurice Strong organized. Back in the mid-1980s, the Brundtland commission came out with “Our Common Future”, which talked about the concept of sustainable development. Gro Harlem Brundtland was very clear on the concept of sustainable development. She said clearly that sustainable development is not an environment concept; it is a development concept, and it is development in harmony with the environment. However, the current government has seen fit to break that particular compact with the people.
In the 2000s, of course, I also saw the rise of climate science and environmental policy. It is an evolution I have been very fortunate to witness, but what I see now, from the Liberals especially, is that they are phony environmentalists, most of them, apart from the member for Northwest Territories, whom I have an enormous amount of respect for. They talk a good game about the environment, but they do not know anything about it. They have never been there. They have never studied it. They do not measure it, and they have no concept of what goes on.
There are two paths in terms of environmental policy. One is with the Liberals and the NDP. For them, environmental policy is all about process, consultation and nothing else. Strategies without results are meaningless. On this side of the House, Conservative environmental policy is focused on real and measurable environmental results. It is no accident that former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney was named the greenest prime minister in Canadian history: the acid rain treaty, the Montreal Protocol, the green plan, the pulp and paper effluent regulations. My own previous prime minister, Stephen Harper, connected with that particular legacy.
The track record of Conservative governments is by far the best in terms of measurable results. Environmental assessments should be all about what effect a project would have on the environment, how we mitigate it and how we ensure the project moves ahead with all the attendant benefits that it will develop?
What is really interesting is that those on the Liberal left think modern society is the problem. Those of us on the Conservative side of the House say modern society is the answer.
A group of academics coined an index called the “environmental benefits index”. Basically, it is a graph comparing country income, per capita income in any given country, and environmental quality. It is very clear, if we look at measurable environmental indicators, such as water quality, air quality, amount of protected land, conservation agriculture, the fewest species at risk and on and on, that the wealthy countries have the best environments.
Which party delivers economic growth, economic development through trade, creating a business climate for economic growth? That is only the Conservatives. That is why, under Conservative governments, if one looks at the actual measurable environmental characteristics of Canada, for example, indeed all of the developed nations of the world, they are vastly superior to countries that are run under the stultifying control of excess governments.
We can look, for example, at the Sudbury miracle. What happened there? A few decades ago, a moonscape was around Sudbury. Investments were made in sulfur dioxide removal. Now the forests have all come back. There are still jobs there. The forest and the environment have come back. That is what happens when we have Conservative-style environmentalism. We actually get results.
Let us get back to the Mackenzie Valley. When we were doing our assessments in the Mackenzie Valley, we had aerial photographs. This was back in the days before GPS or any of that kind of stuff. We sat down with aerial photographs in our laps, big huge rolls. We were in the helicopter, following this black line through the Mackenzie Valley. The GEO chemist beside me would take notes, the hydrologist would take notes, and then the helicopters would land in various stream crossing areas, where we knew the pipeline would cross.
All of us scientific types, hopped out and did our various work, such such wildlife habitat and fisheries habitat assessments. I would set my little nets in the pools and see what was there. I have to confess something, I was actually paid to fish back in those days. It is something that a young biologist very much appreciated.
This was back in 1975, the care with which the pipeline was planned, the soil types were measured, the depth of the permafrost was looked at, all that kind of stuff. Even back then, in the dark ages of 1975, we knew darn well that that pipeline could be built and delivered in an environmentally sound way. Indeed, my friend, the natural resources critic would know how many kilometres of pipeline there are in the country, about 30,000 kilometres of pipeline, give or take. However, nobody knows where they are, because they are all cited according to our best environmental practices.
It always bugs me when I hear members opposite, or the NDP members, talk about cleaning up our economy, going green, clean tech and so on. I have a dirty little secret to share with them. All industries in Canada are already clean.
Let me give an example of that. Brian Mulroney, the Conservative PM in 1989, implemented the pulp and paper effluent regulations. They mandated the construction of a waste water treatment plant at every pulp and paper facility. What was once a toxic effluent now became an effluent that people could actually drink. Industry after industry across the country follows those exact same guidelines.
Before I became an MP, I had this pleasure through environmental assessment in the oil sands. I lived at the Denman camp, part of the Kearl project. It is a human tragedy what the Liberals are doing. I had a chance to mix, mingle and make friends with people all across the country of all ages, of all education levels, from tractor drivers to hydrogeochemists and everything in between. They were all fulfilling their dream, making a very good living, helping their families, paying their way through school, buying that first house. The Liberals are destroying that for the families of those good people who work in the oil sands. That is something I will never forgive. It is simply not true that our industries are not clean. They are the cleanest in the world.
Here we are importing oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, leaving aside the social conditions in those countries. We know there are simply no environmental standards in those countries. The government and the NDP willingly import that kind of oil, yet block the exports of Canadian oil and gas whether it is from the Arctic or the west coast.
What is also interesting is that there are national security implications to this as well. I remember meeting with the ambassador from Slovakia. That country is dependent on Russian gas. It would only be too happy to buy energy from us. The implications of what the Liberals and NDP are doing to stop Canada's resource development goes far beyond our country. Indeed they go far beyond Alberta. Again, Canadians from all walks of life have worked in the oil sands.
Getting back to the bill for the Mackenzie Valley, it truly saddens me when I think about the communities of the Mackenzie Valley, which are ably represented by the member for Northwest Territories. It really saddens me to see what is perhaps going on there, apart from where there is no resource development. I mentioned Baker Lake and the diamond mines. Where there is resource development, communities are thriving. Wages are high. Environmental quality is very high because all these industrial activities, all these installations are built with the highest environmental standards in mind.
People say that this industry did this badly or this industry is not doing it right. Every industry in the country operates under the terms and conditions of an environmental licence. I should know. I managed an environmental licence for a paper company. We had to do the appropriate monitoring of our industrial activity. I had to submit reports. We were checked on a regular basis.
If any industry in the country does not operate in an environmentally sound way, it is not the industry's fault; it is the government's fault. Either the terms and conditions of the environmental licence are not right, but the company is following these terms, or the government is not enforcing the rules.
I, for one, will stand and proudly defend all the Canadian industry. What we do in our country is right and proper and is a model for the world.
Therefore, I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following therefore:
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 not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs for the purpose of reconsidering clauses 85 and 86, with a view to removing the ability for the federal cabinet to prohibit oil and gas activities on frontier lands based on “national interest”.
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-10 21:10 [p.28859]
Mr. Speaker, I will leave Canadians to interpret and translate what the member has said.
I want to point out a couple of things that he failed to mention.
First, the Conservatives were in power for the 10 years, when these discussions were going on, and really did not do anything to help the economy. In fact, they left it in shambles.
The member also pointed out that the bill and the changes made would influence the activities in resource development in the Northwest Territories. I should remind him that it was his government that created the Mackenzie Valley resource management boards and negotiated, through land claim discussions and negotiations, to come to this arrangement. They decided they wanted to change it.
I was in the indigenous affairs committee when the contractor who was hired by Minister Strahl to go out and consult was presented. He talked about the direction he received from the minister. He was not totally clear, but he was told to fold all the regional boards and set up one super board. He was also talked about the rounds of consultations he had in the Northwest Territories. From what other witnesses said, he had set up two rounds of consultations.
One was with the indigenous governments, where everybody who was in the room was against the changes that included doing away with a regional board system and bringing in a super board. In the second round of consultations, everybody showed up except the consultant who was hired by the Conservative government.
When I asked the consultant about the report he presented and how he recommended that this was what everybody wanted when everybody was against it. He claimed that people said one thing in public, but whispered something else in his ear.
I am very disappointed that the member views including indigenous people in the consultation and regulatory process as a hindrance. Why does he see the involvement of indigenous as an attack on industry, as were his words?
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Mr. Speaker, as much as I respect my friend, what a stupid question. Of course indigenous people need to be involved in these consultations. To suggest otherwise to a member who has 15 first nations in his own riding is far beneath what I would expect from my friend. It is an ill-considered comment.
As I said earlier, while I certainly would never claim to have as much knowledge as he does about the Mackenzie Valley and the people who live there, my experiences living and working with the indigenous people in the Mackenzie Valley has been nothing but positive. I absolutely respect and revere their knowledge of the land and their desire to ensure it is conserved. I also respect and revere their desire for economic development to make their lives better, as well as for their families, their children and their communities.
View Richard Cannings Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is always entertaining to listen to the member. I think he and I are the only members in the House who self-identify as biologists. Beyond that, I think we have a lot of differences of opinion. I will leave it at that.
I have about 20 questions I would like to ask him. Right off the top, he said that this was energy-killing legislation, and then he went on to talk about the Conservative record on the environment. He talked a lot about Brian Mulroney. I noticed that he did not mention Stephen Harper once in terms of the environmental record of his government. I think a lot of people would say that it was quite a negative record.
He also talked about the results and track record of the Conservatives. Here we have legislation the Conservatives brought in that drastically affected the environmental impact assessments in the Northwest Territories. It got rid of the boards that were set up through land claims agreements. The Conservatives did the same thing in the Yukon, and that had to be fixed through Bill C-17 earlier.
The Conservative record is really one of gutting environmental legislation, and that was energy-killing legislation. It is what has brought us to this very polarized standstill in Canadian development.
Could the member comment on the Conservatives' track record with respect to getting energy and resource projects going while at the same time trying to gut the environmental regulations Canadians want?
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for playing right into my hands. Should he wish to debate environmental policy, I will do it anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
I noticed that in his question, there was nothing about environmental results. It is all process oriented. Under the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, 1,700 kilometres of streams were fixed and two million square metres of spawning habitat was restored. A record number of hectares became protected areas in this country. Under the national conservation plan, 800,000 hectares of valuable endangered species habitat was protected. The national conservation plan had measurable results. Sulfur dioxide emissions and nitrous oxide emissions were down and greenhouse gas emissions in general were down.
The NDP and the Liberals, I notice, never talk about results. It is all about environmental process.
I was on the fisheries committee when Bill C-68 was being debated. It was going to change the Fisheries Act, 2012. We asked witness after witness from the same class my hon. friend is from, the Ecojustice types, very pointed questions. We asked whether the changes made to the Fisheries Act, 2012 had any measurable effects on any fish population or community in this country. They kind of looked at their shoes and said that they really could not say, that they did not know and that there were really no effects.
This is about the environment, what is measurable and what progress is made. That is what environmental policy should be about.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2019-06-10 21:18 [p.28860]
Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy when my colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa stands, especially when he fields questions from the government and the NDP. It is like they are taking a knife to a gunfight, given the level of knowledge the hon. member has.
I want to speak specifically about Governor in Council orders, which the member talked about in his speech. We are seeing a pattern of a consistent and concerted effort on the part of the government to put control of a lot of these natural resource projects into the hands of the executive branch of government and cabinet. I note specifically Bill C-69, Bill C-48, Bill C-86 and Bill C-55.
Could the member expand on that and the concern with respect to the impact this will have on our natural resources sector?
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