Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to speak in the House today to the bill introduced by my colleague and friend the hon. member for Jonquière.
Almost everyone thinks the environment is important. In fact, the environment means as much to people as apple pie. I think everyone likes apple pie, therefore everyone likes the environment.
Since we have limited time to debate I will get to the point. The environment is a jurisdiction that is exclusive to Quebec and the provinces. Again, I want to reiterate that time is limited because it seems clear to me that the government would rather waste time than take action while we still can. Our window of time to deal with the environment is getting smaller by the day. Instead of taking real action, the government is still wondering about the possibility of a pan-Canadian framework. In fact, however, the governments of Quebec and most of the provinces are already taking action.
The federal government, regardless of its political stripe, has a poor track record in this regard. For example, rather than analyzing the risks associated with offshore oil drilling, the Liberal government chose to approve such activity. The same is true of a large number of other projects. However, we are not fooled. If the Liberals really cared about the environment and thought it was important to act, they would have done so a long time ago.
It is crystal clear to me that we need to protect the environment, but the best way of doing that is not to greenwash the government's record with lip service. Instead, we need to take the tools that exist in Quebec and the provinces and apply them to federal projects. We also need to listen to scientists, the very people that the Liberals keep saying over and over that they rely on when making decisions.
It is 2021. We are past the point of asking all these questions that scientists have already asked and answered. My colleagues who are listening may have good intentions and may still believe their government's claims of environmentalism. However, I am telling the House that, if there were oil in Lac Saint-Jean, the government would surely come up with a good reason to extract it.
That is why it is especially true that no one is better placed than Quebec and the provinces to deal with environmental issues. Not only does each province have its own environmental ministry with competent expert scientists, but they are also responsible for managing natural resources, water resources and other resources within their borders. That is why the federal government should start by respecting Quebec and provincial environmental laws. It needs to respect the jurisdictions set out in our Constitution, which have been clear for over 150 years.
It is significant that a sovereignist is the one reminding the government of the basics of federalism.
With the House's permission, I would like to make a suggestion. A few weeks ago, during the debate on the Canada water agency, I pointed out that the Bloc Québécois introduced Bill C-225, sponsored by the eminent member for Jonquière, on Quebec's environmental sovereignty. What I am saying today is practically copy-paste, because instead of analyzing federal laws, Bill C-225 would amend them and make them more effective. I will therefore vote in favour.
Let us be pragmatic for a minute. If we admit that it is important to protect the environment, we also have to admit that it is urgent. If it is urgent, let us choose the fastest, most effective way possible. In our case, that is the rules made by Quebec and the provinces because they are the toughest and they already exist.
Logically, if my colleagues behave in accordance with their desire to protect the environment, they will agree with me that the federal government should make sure its own infrastructure and laws respect the provinces' and municipalities' rules instead of squabbling with them over jurisdiction and always trying to decide who should be making the laws. It is simple: Provincial legislators should be responsible for everything related to the environment because that is what they are there for.
There is another question we must ask ourselves: Who do we work for? I want to remind the House who I work for and why I am here. I work for my constituents, for the people of Lac-Saint-Jean. When it comes to the environment, I work for my children's generation in particular. I work for young people who, as recently as a few weeks ago, were telling me that they are sick of the bureaucratic quagmire and tired of the federal government stalling on everything and accomplishing nothing. What is the point of sitting around a table wondering how to put out a fire when the firefighters are outside with the hoses and nozzles?
Being responsible parliamentarians also means delegating certain aspects to our Quebec provincial counterparts when the time is right, instead of always ignoring their existence or considering them inferior. Now is the time.
Where is the federal government's credibility in relation to multinationals when it authorizes offshore drilling? Where is the federal government's credibility in relation to riverside communities when it allows pipelines and trains to spill into those rivers? Where is the federal government's credibility in relation to municipalities struggling to provide safe drinking water to their residents when the feds cannot provide safe drinking water to indigenous communities? Where is the federal government's credibility in relation to endangered marine mammals when it allows the marine industry to regulate itself? Where is the federal government's credibility, full stop? We are still looking for an answer.
In North America and around the world, there is only one government that is looking after its environment properly and that has credibility, and that is Quebec. Quebec is committed to preserving its collective treasures. It does not do so by waffling, but by taking action. For example, integrated watershed-based management allows Quebec to plan measures for the protection and use of water resources. The Government of Quebec achieved that by focusing on collaboration between all decision-makers, users and civil society. This did not happen by holding a brainstorming session 25 years later about how to delegate jurisdictions that do not belong to us.
The proof that Quebec and the provinces are managing very well without the federal government is that when watersheds straddle the Canada or U.S. border, Quebec collaborates and establishes agreements, such as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement. The federal government should respect that.
To tackle climate change, Quebec includes measures to foster the conservation and protection of water resources and the resilience of ecosystems and associated species. The federal government should respect that.
When other countries want to build a dam, they turn to Hydro-Québec and its expertise. The federal government should respect that.
We should look to the provinces for inspiration. As federal legislators, we should be creating legislation that reinforces provincial jurisdictions.
If the House passes the bill introduced by my colleague from Jonquière, Quebec's laws concerning land development and environmental protection will apply across all of Quebec, regardless of jurisdiction. This means that airport developers' privileges will not be put ahead of Quebec's Act respecting the preservation of agricultural land and agricultural activities or municipal bylaws. It also means that telecommunications giants will have to come to an agreement with municipalities and respect the wishes of local residents when putting up their towers and antennas. As with all other similar projects, infrastructure under federal jurisdiction will be subject to the assessment process of the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement du Québec, or BAPE, and other provincial assessment processes. Developers will require a certificate of authorization from these governments before going ahead. Federal government property will have to comply with development plans and municipal bylaws adopted by local authorities, on top of providing better environmental protections and more cohesive land development.
Bill C-225 will establish legal certainty for developers, residents and environmental protection groups. It will settle the many legal disputes over shared jurisdictions. If the federal minister authorized a project that violated a provincial law, the minister would be violating a federal law. This would resolve the issue of jurisdictional disputes and it would save time and money.
I hope this helped clear things up for many a member of the House. Once again, I thank the member for Jonquière for this very important bill.