Mr. Speaker, I rise today to respond to the government's motion on the Senate amendments to Bill C-48. While I do appreciate the opportunity to speak to the motion, what I do not appreciate, what millions of other Canadians do not appreciate, is that we have to respond to the bill at all.
I want to recap what the bill would do.
First, this legislation was created as a result of a directive in the Prime Minister's mandate letter to the Minister of Transport dated November 2015.
If passed, this legislation would enact an oil tanker moratorium on B.C.'s northwest coast. The proposed moratorium would be in effect from the Canada-U.S. Alaska border to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
The legislation would prohibit oil tankers carrying crude and persistent oil as cargo from stopping, loading and unloading at ports or marine installations in the moratorium area. Vessels carrying less than 12,500 metric tons of crude oil would be exempted from the moratorium.
I would suggest that this bill is an open, sneering attack on our oil and gas sector, an anti-pipeline bill poorly masquerading as an environment bill.
Environmental legislation is supposed to be based on science. Bill C-48 is not. It is not science but rather politics and ideology that inform this legislation: Liberal ideology that is as damaging to national unity as it is cynical.
Afer reviewing the bill, which included travelling across the country to hear from witnesses from coast to coast, the Senate transport committee recommended that it not proceed. While the Senate as a whole rescued Bill C-48, the Prime Minister should have taken the hint and withdrawn this anti-energy legislation.
Six premiers, including Premier Scott Moe from my province of Saskatchewan, wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister outlining their legitimate concerns about the anti-oil, anti-energy legislation pushed by the Liberal government here in Ottawa, in particular Bill C-69 and Bill C-48.
The premiers explained the damage that these two pieces of legislation would do to the economy, but more importantly, they warned of the damage this legislation has done and will continue to do to our national unity.
This was not a threat. This was not spiteful. These six premiers were pointing to a real and growing sense of alienation, alienation on a scale not seen since the Prime Minister's father was in office.
Rather than listening to their concerns, the Prime Minister lashed out at the premiers, calling them irresponsible and accusing them of threatening our national unity if they did not get their way.
The premiers are not threatening our national unity; it is in fact the Prime Minister's radical, anti-science, anti-energy agenda that is, but he is refusing to listen.
Since the Prime Minister is refusing to heed these warnings on Bill C-48 and Bill C-69, I am going to take this opportunity to read them into the record now:
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing on behalf of the Governments of Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Collectively, our five provinces and territory represent 59 per cent of the Canadian population and 63 per cent of Canada's GDP. We are central to Canada's economy and prosperity, and it is of the utmost importance that you consider our concerns with bills C-69 and C-48.
Canadians across the country are unified in their concern about the economic impacts of the legislation such as it was proposed by the House of Commons. In this form, the damage it would do to the economy, jobs and investment will echo from one coast to the other. Provincial and territorial jurisdiction must be respected. Provinces and territories have clear and sole jurisdiction over the development of their non-renewable natural resources, forestry resources, and the generation and production of electricity. Bill C-69 upsets the balance struck by the constitutional division of powers by ignoring the exclusive provincial powers over projects relating to these resources. The federal government must recognize the exclusive role provinces and territories have over the management of our non-renewable natural resource development or risk creating a Constitutional crisis.
Bill C-69, as originally drafted, would make it virtually impossible to develop critical infrastructure, depriving Canada of much needed investment. According to the C.D. Howe Institute, between 2017 and 2018, the planned investment value of major resource sector projects in Canada plunged by $100 billion – an amount equivalent to 4.5 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product. To protect Canada’s economic future, we, collectively, cannot afford to overlook the uncertainty and risk to future investment created by Bill C-69.
Our five provinces and territory stand united and strongly urge the government to accept Bill C69 as amended by the Senate, in order to minimize the damage to the Canadian economy. We would encourage the Government of Canada and all members of the House of Commons to accept the full slate of amendments to the bill. The Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources heard 38 days of testimony from 277 witnesses including indigenous communities, industry, Premiers, and independent experts. Based on that comprehensive testimony, the committee recommended significant amendments to the bill, which were accepted by the Senate as a whole. We urge you to respect that process, the committee’s expertise, and the Senate’s vote.
If the Senate’s amendments are not respected, the bill should be rejected, as it will present insurmountable roadblocks for major infrastructure projects across the country and will further jeopardize jobs, growth and investor confidence.
Similarly, Bill C-48 threatens investor confidence, and the tanker moratorium discriminates against western Canadian crude products. We were very disappointed that the Senate did not accept the recommendation to the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications that the bill not be reported. We would urge the government to stop pressing for the passage of this bill which will have detrimental effects on national unity and for the Canadian economy as a whole.
Our governments are deeply concerned with the federal government’s disregard, so far, of the concerns raised by our provinces and territory related to these bills. As it stands, the federal government appears indifferent to the economic hardships faced by provinces and territories. Immediate action to refine or eliminate these bills is needed to avoid further alienating provinces and territories and their citizens and focus on uniting the country in support of Canada’s economic prosperity.
Perhaps having heard the letter read aloud, the Prime Minister will acknowledge that it contains no threats, but rather it is an appeal from leaders who have listened to their constituents. The Prime Minister needs to understand that simply saying things louder is not going to make them go away. Shouting will not put food in the stomachs of the laid-off construction workers' children. Chanting talking points will not pay the gas bill in the middle of winter.
If this were the only piece of legislation that the government had introduced, one might argue that this is an overreaction, but it is not just one piece of legislation, it is a targeted, cynical, ongoing political attack of our resource sector. The Prime Minister has filled his cabinet with vocal opponents of the oil sands. In 2012, the now Minister of Democratic Institutions posted a tweet that read, “It's time to landlock Alberta's tar sands - call on BC Premier @christyclarkbc to reject the #Enbridge pipeline now!”
Then there is the President of the Treasury Board, who said publicly that the approval of the Trans Mountain extension was deeply disappointing and who celebrated when the Prime Minister killed the northern gateway pipeline project. Here I should pause and point out the ridiculous theatrics surrounding the TMX project.
In 2016, the government approved TMX, yet tomorrow, we are told, the government will decide on whether to approve the project all over again. It is like we are in a terrible remake of Groundhog Day. Meanwhile, not an inch of pipeline has been built since the government nationalized Trans Mountain.
However, it is not only the cabinet that the Prime Minister has filled with anti-oil activists, but senior staff positions as well. Here I quote an article from the March 14 edition of the Financial Post:
Prior to ascending to the most powerful post in the Prime Minister’s Office, from 2008 to 2012 Gerald Butts was president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada...an important Tides campaign partner. Butts would use his new powerful position to bring other former campaigners with him: Marlo Reynolds, chief of staff to the Environment Minister...is past executive director of the Tides-backed Pembina Institute. Zoë Caron, chief of staff to Natural Resource Minister...is also a former WWF Canada official. Sarah Goodman, on the prime minister’s staff, is a former vice-president of Tides Canada. With these anti-oil activists at the epicentre of federal power, it’s no wonder the oil industry, and hundreds of thousands of workers, have plummeted into political and policy purgatory.
Why should we be surprised? The Prime Minister is no friend of the oil sands. The Prime Minister stated that he wants to phase out the oil sands and during the election loudly proclaimed, “If I am elected Prime Minister, the Northern Gateway Pipeline won't become a reality”.
The Prime Minister has spent his time in office attempting to do just that and he has been willing to trample on not only the rights of the provinces, but the rights of aboriginal peoples as well to get his way. When the Prime Minister used an order in council to cancel the northern gateway pipeline, he stole the future of 30 first nations that would have benefited enormously from it. This very bill is facing a lawsuit from Laxkw'alaams Indian band for unjustly infringing on their rights and titles.
Bill C-48 will prevent the proposed first nations-owned and operated Eagle Spirit pipeline project from being built as the proposed route to tidewater ends within the area wherein this bill bans tanker traffic. It was done without any consultation with first nations communities. Again, this should come as no surprise.
Just last week I spoke against another anti-energy bill, Bill C-88. As I said then, C-88 makes a mockery of the government's claim to seriously consult with indigenous and Inuit peoples. Without any consultation with Inuit peoples or the territorial governments, the Prime Minister unilaterally announced a five-year ban on offshore oil and gas development. Not only did the Prime Minister refuse to consult the premiers of the territories, he gave some of them less than an hour's notice that he would be making that announcement.
Does that sound like a Prime Minister who wants to listen, consult and work with aboriginal Canadians? Does it reflect the Prime Minister's declaration that his government's relationship with indigenous peoples is their most important relationship or does it sound like a Prime Minister who says what he believes people want to hear and then does the exact opposite by imposing his own will on them? If he had consulted, this is what he would have heard:
Minister Wally Schumann of the Northwest Territories, on how they found out about the ban and the impact it will have on our north, stated:
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.
Councillor Jackie Jacobson of Tuktoyaktuk said:
It’s so easy to sit down here and make judgments on people and lives that are 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.
Then premier of Nunavut, Peter Taptuna stated, “ We do want to be getting to a state where we can make our own determination of our priorities, and the way to do that is gain meaningful revenue from resource development.”
Mr. Speaker, I note that you are indicating that my time is up. I assume that I will be able to continue at another time.