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Results: 1 - 15 of 26
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-10-26 15:26 [p.14587]
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be here today.
I am pleased to speak to Bill C-17 at third reading. I speak from the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe.
In 10 words or less, today is all about Bill C-17 removing four clauses illegally put into law. We are all legislators here, and we should be the first to unanimously agree to pass the bill for that reason. That is why, as the minister said, the Yukon legislature was unanimous in passing the bill, including the Yukon Party, which is the Conservatives. I should in theory be able to sit down now and we would vote unanimously to pass the bill, as the Yukon legislature did.
I would like to thank every member in the House today for their thoughtful debate and co-operation in going through report stage very quickly.
I would like to tell a story to give a sense of the feeling behind all of this. People at home can participate in this exercise too. Think about someone who retired and decided he wanted to get into business with a couple of partners or friends of his. They all got together, spent a couple of years working really hard to get a business set up, perhaps a resort in a wealthy country. He would sit and have piña coladas and enjoy himself. His kids were going to high class school. He mortgaged his house. Everything was on the line. It was pretty important to his family and their lives. Then one day when he went to work, he saw a sold sign. One or two of his other partners had sold his dream business, his life savings, and put it into a factory in a third world country with millions of people, in a dangerous slum, where he would have to try to get his kids into school. How would he feel under those circumstances? Obviously he would be very angry. He would feel betrayed. He would be apoplectic. Under those circumstances, what type of relationship would he have with those two partners? Would he ever do business with them again? He could never imagine that.
In the case we are talking about here, the three partners are the federal government, the Yukon government, and the first nations government. They cannot just walk away. From now onward, indeed forever, they have to work together on things for their people. Imagine the great rebuilding of trust that would have to be done with those partners because of this situation.
How did we get here? As the minister said, after 20 years, not just the two years in the scenario we set up, the modern treaty or UFA was signed. It is constitutionally protected, so even we in the House cannot change it. It prescribed that YESAA would be created for assessments in Yukon. That took 10 years and was approved in 2003.
Imagine, as in the case I just talked about, after negotiating for 30 years, all of a sudden one or two of the partners added four significant clauses without negotiation. This is what happened. The four clauses are probably illegal, if not technically, then in the spirit of the law or the honour of the crown. Anything done illegally, regardless of the content, whether good or bad, had to be undone and cancelled. That is basically the end of the story today.
Normally, for that reason, I refuse to talk about any of the content of those four items. Nevertheless, because I have four minutes left, there were some concerns raised that I might try to alleviate a bit. The minister and the opposition have already mentioned the reaching out that has been done. The process will start right away to deal with timelines and reassessments.
I thank the mining association and the mining companies, because in the years when the government was not really following the honour of the crown, individual mining companies made partners with first nations. The chamber of mines worked with the Council of Yukon First Nations and took a great leadership role, so kudos to the mining industry.
In the second reading debate on April 10, 2017, members commented about the removal of time limits. They said that the Liberals were taking out time limits, that we wanted to remove all time limits, that we put time limits on the review process, that we removed timelines, that time limits do matter, that we eliminated timelines, that we would repeal the time limits, that we would remove the time limits. One would think that people watching this and hearing all those comments would think there were no timelines, but timelines were put into the bill when it was established.
In 2003, the bill explained how timelines were created through the rules of the board. They were gazetted and have been in place ever since. My understanding is that they have not changed in all those years. Since the first project was approved in 2005, the timelines have been there and are still working. The opposition said in the second reading debate that it was important to leave decisions in the hands of Yukoners, and that is exactly what this bill would do, because those timelines are created by Yukoners. I am sure that the opposition would rather have people in their ridings setting deadlines for important things as opposed to the government setting them in Ottawa.
Those timelines compare favourably with those in other jurisdictions. Some of the projects take half the time of British Columbia assessments. The timelines have not been lengthened in recent years. There are two categories of projects. For a district office, the average is only 70 days, and for small projects they are considerably shorter. The timeline put in Bill S-6 is 270 days. That is far longer than those projects' timelines. On the executive committee, the other category, the very serious projects, of which there have been only seven, the fault was in the other direction. There was just not enough time put in. What has happened is that first nations have not been able to do the appropriate analysis, nor have the territorial or federal technicians in various departments.
What happens if there is an assessment without the appropriate input or analysis? Two things probably happen. First, for purposes of integrity, the project is rejected. The mining industry or developers would not want that. Second, a chance could be taken and it could be approved, but it could be challenged, especially by first nations, because there are requirements in YESAA for their input.
The final point I would like to make is on reassessments. I have 10 quotes, but I will not read them. There are two things I will say in the limited time I have. First, technically there are no reassessments. If something is exactly the same, section 40 of the act does not allow a reassessment. In fact, what has happened in reality is that when a project comes up, quite often, on the ground, the decision body will say that it is exactly the same, that it is just renewing a licence and it will not go ahead. A lot of the 100 projects the opposition member quite rightly brought up would not be reassessed under the present system, so there would not be 100.
The second thing that happened in that five-year review is that one of the policies changed and they have gone to temporal scoping, which is a good thing. That means that instead of scoping like they used to according to the licence and causing the reassessments that were of concern, they can scope a lot longer in the life of the project, resulting in far fewer reassessments.
For all of those reason and reassurances, I would like to go back to what I said at the beginning. We have to remove four improper clauses. I hope we can do that quickly, because it will bring back certainty for the mining industry, developers, and first nations and, hopefully, start to rebuild the partnership that is so important for any development in Yukon.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-10-26 15:38 [p.14588]
Mr. Speaker, first of all on the uncertainty, that is what we are doing today: returning the certainty.
The member made a very important point that, in this particular case, the Yukon is different from NWT or any other part of Canada, because for this assessment, the rest of Canada has to go through CEAA, but the Yukon does not. It has its own assessment and its own regime. However, talking about intervenor funding, each first nation gets a specific amount of money from the federal government for the exact purposes the member mentioned.
I will say that there is the possibility of a way to improve the allocation of those funds. For example, some projects may be heavier in mining, and those districts where there is a lot of development may have a lot of projects, whereas another first nation may not have any projects in a particular year, yet they both get the same amount of money from us. The member may have raised a point unintentionally, that we could do a better job of distributing the money, but we do distribute the money so that they can do some analysis of those projects.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-10-26 15:40 [p.14589]
Mr. Speaker, as the opposition member mentioned, there was a particular mining company, for example, that had been through a lot of assessments on changes in the projects, and the definitions of when that could or could not occur. I think the company still probably has questions about that. However, as the minister mentioned, the negotiations are starting, as soon as this bill is passed, to look at those reassessments and timelines.
I think any person would want certainty—get it out of the courts and get the certainty—even those members who have concerns, because those should have been addressed in negotiations and they were not. However, if we get the bill passed, they would go into those negotiations right away. It would actually deal more quickly with the concerns that those several people might have.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-10-26 16:24 [p.14594]
Mr. Speaker, the member speaks very passionately, and I love to hear him speak, so I will give him a chance to speak more passionately again about this bill.
First, there was unanimous support by the legislature, with its all-political spectrum, in Yukon, so why would someone go against that? Second, are treaties in this country not most sacred? As the member for Pontiac said, if the honour of the crown is constitutionally protected, why would anyone go against that?
To give him some time to think, I want to correct something for the record. A Conservative member suggested there was a cut of $24 million in the transfer payments. That is not true. What happened was that new statistics came from the provinces, the transfer payments were based on a formula, and what was really amazing to me, which I have never seen before, the finance minister came to the rescue and found a way of rejigging the formula so that most of that money was recuperated. In fact, in the next budget more money was added so that all the territories got more transfer payments, not less.
The member made the good point that $24 million is an awful lot of money for a small territory. A couple of months ago, the Prime Minister provided $240 million for the mining people in Yukon. Based on the Conservatives saying how important $24 million was, we can all imagine how much that $240 million was appreciated in Yukon.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-10-26 16:47 [p.14597]
Mr. Speaker, my point of order also applies to other speakers. Basically, it is on relevance, and I know how you will rule. However, the lead critics from both parties could not even fill their entire speech on this. I do not think there is anything new that anyone in the House can add to the bill. Because of the goodwill of all parties and how co-operative they have been so far, I hope we will not continue with irrelevance or repetition so we can get on we other important work of the House.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-10-26 17:05 [p.14600]
Mr. Speaker, I am more excited about the member's speech than any others today, for several reasons. First, the member is absolutely right. I learned The Cremation of Sam McGee in grade 3. It is why I moved to Yukon and became chair of the Yukon Robert Service Society. I thank the member for bringing back those old memories.
The other reason I love the speech so much is the three main points the member made related to the bill. I am assured now that he will vote for the bill, because they were all in favour of Bill C-17. The first was that if it is different, will people invest there? People will certainly invest there because, as I mentioned to the media this morning, there is full employment there, unlike the rest of the country, because people are investing there. If it has a better assessment regime than anywhere else in the country, it will encourage people to invest. In fact, one of the most senior mining executives in Canada said that to me yesterday. At an assessment forum here yesterday, I was talking to someone yesterday about an assessment in another part of the country that in fact included four assessments, whereas this regime has only one assessment.
The other point the member brought up was by the grand chief of the Council of Yukon First Nation, who believes that it would change the distribution of power to a bilateral one not in the spirit of the treaty. All the comments you raised were criticisms of Bill S-6, the previous bill, the one we are changing. It is great that you have raised them, and since all of your points were in favour of this bill and against the previous one, I am delighted that you will be voting for it.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-10-26 17:28 [p.14602]
Mr. Speaker, I am enjoying the speech, the treatise on western civilization and diamonds around the world, but we do not have diamond mines in the Yukon at the moment. However, on a point of relevance, I would appreciate it, and Yukoners would appreciate it, if we could concentrate more on this bill that would enhance mining.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-06-19 17:45 [p.12931]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her very eloquent defence of YESAA. I cannot fault anything she said on YESAA, so I will not ask a question but allow her to wax more eloquent on the bill.
I just want to say something for opposition members, just in case they try to say that we are rolling back everything they did and nothing was accomplished with that five years of review. There were 72 recommendations that were actually negotiated, the parties agreed to, and were implemented, either legislatively or some as policy recommendations. That was achieved, but what the member spoke so eloquently about was the four major things that were thrown in at the last moment, on which Yukoners and first nations were not consulted. They were in contravention of the spirit and probably the law of their treaty.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-06-19 18:00 [p.12933]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the previous speaker's vigorous defence. As I know he has more to say, I will not ask a question so he can finish his defence of the bill. However, I did want to make a comment on timelines from the previous debate.
First, the timelines that were in this bill actually were not really necessary, in the sense that the vast majority, if not all, of the projects were meeting and exceeding those timelines anyway.
Some who do not understand the process would suggest there are no timelines. There are timelines. They are the policy of the board. They have been gazetted. It is just that those timelines are made in Yukon. The Conservatives have spoken before about letting local people make the decisions. The present system allows the local people, the policy of the board, to make these timelines that exist today.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-06-19 18:14 [p.12935]
Madam Speaker, I have a couple of comments to make before I ask my question.
Something has happened since the last debate on this.
On May 17, Motion No. 23 was passed unanimously in the Yukon legislature. The motion reads, “supports the efforts of the Government of Canada to restore confidence in Yukon’s environmental and socio-economic assessment process through amendments contained in Bill C-17...” The Yukon Conservative Party was also party to that unanimous motion. Therefore, I am not sure why anyone in the House would want to go against the unanimous view of Yukoners.
The member said the timeline was a little rich. If members remember the day the chiefs were here, expecting this relatively routine bill to go through, the Conservatives, through mischief motions, delayed it until we got to this time.
On recommendation 72, the member made a very good point, but a few things were not agreed to at that time. The problem is that four major items were thrown in at the last moment and they were not part of those five years of review.
There is no shame in this, but the member probably did not know that timelines are in place now. As I mentioned previously this afternoon, it is the policy of the board and they have been gazetted, so there is no need to usurp those timelines by Ottawa when it is already put in place locally in the system in place at the moment.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-06-19 18:28 [p.12937]
Madam Speaker, the member talked about supporting development in Yukon, and that is exactly what the bill would do.
I want to make a small technical correction for the record to make sure people understand something I did not say very well before. More than 76 items were discussed. Let us put them into part 1 and part 2. In part 2, there were 72 agreed to and implemented, but there were a few more the parties could not agree to, so they were left off the table. Over and above those, four serious things were put in at the last moment, without negotiation, and that was the problem.
I will go back to time limits, and I hope I do not have to say this again. The member spoke very well about wanting to put power in the hands of Yukon. The system has now been set up that way. Very competitive timelines are there, but they are determined locally by the board by what makes sense. They are gazetted. They are in place. I hope if any more Conservative members plan to speak to this, they will correct their speaking notes so I do not have to say it another time.
The member mentioned mining. Let me quote:
The Government of Yukon, self-governing Yukon First Nations, Council of Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Chamber of Mines look forward to seeing Bill C-17 passed, without change, as soon as possible. Your support for the passage of Bill C-17 assures us that the Government of Canada is genuinely committed to reset the relationship between Canada, Yukon and Yukon First Nations.
The member talked about local support and about mining. There is local mining support. A unanimous decision was reached in the Yukon legislature by all parties, including the conservative members.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-06-19 18:54 [p.12940]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan being coherent today, especially after we both flew all night to get here today. However, this time I do not agree with his speech.
One of the first Conservative speakers made a very good point. She said there were some process problems. That is the whole issue, from my perspective. If there was a law passed illegally, not in the spirit of the treaties, or against the treaties, it does not matter how good the various things are. There is no use even debating them. Some members are debating the points. If the process was not right the member would be the first to know that, after filibustering on a process point for 16 hours. I am sure if he was a Yukon chief he would be filibustering this for the same reason, the process.
The member has made some great points in favour of the bill. He said territorial governments closest to the people should be able to make more decisions. Not only the territorial government, all the opposition parties just unanimously passed a motion to support this bill. Therefore, if we want them to be closer to the people, live up to what the member said.
That falls in with the philosophy of subsidiarity, to make the decision from the lowest down. The territorial legislature, all the chiefs and their governments have said to pass this as is. We should follow the member's dictates.
Finally, we should not dictate to the provinces and territories. That is what we are taking away, that dictation that happened in these elements with a lack of respect, as he talked about, for competition for the provinces and territories.
That will be enough, because he has made such an eloquent, good reason as to why the Conservatives should support the bill. I will leave it at that.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-06-19 19:56 [p.12948]
Mr. Speaker, for the record I want to clarify the member's very last comment. There will not be any projects left in limbo.
On the day Bill C-17 receives Royal Assent, section 49.1, of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act is repealed. Projects that have been submitted to a decision body, prior to that day, for an exemption from assessment and have received, before that day, a positive decision (or as the quote above states “were greenlit without additional review”) continue to enjoy the benefits of that decision and do not have to be reassessed.
Therefore, the certainty this bill will put in place and that it has brought about the court case, and the uncertainty related to a potential abrogation of the treaty, and the letter of the law, if not the spirit of the law, I think will allay the member's fears in his last comment.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-06-19 20:12 [p.12950]
Mr. Speaker, I want to put two points on the record about improvements in the bill since a number of speeches may have been formulated. One is related to timelines. There are timelines now in the process and they are done locally. They are done by the board and gazetted so everyone has their say. The fear about timelines no longer exists.
The other point is about reassessments. A new mechanism in the bill would allow an assessment to be for longer than just the next licence, possibly for the life of the project, so there would not have to be a reassessment partway through. These two improvements would reduce some of the concerns people had about the bill.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-04-10 12:17 [p.10358]
Mr. Speaker, I want to comment on the two questions from the Conservatives.
The first question was very good, regarding when the three governments come to an agreement on what it should be and how it should be implemented. There are just four items that need to be changed, of the 72 agreed to, and this act would change those four items. Therefore, as soon it is given royal assent, those changes that the three governments agreed to would be established.
On the other question related to timelines, there are two points. First, all of the proposed timelines are already being met. YESAB has a very good record on timelines. Second, through the changes that were agreed to, there are now timelines in the YESAB rules. They have been gazetted. Therefore, through regulations, there are a set of timelines already.
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