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Results: 1 - 15 of 342
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon, everyone.
I first of all want to acknowledge something that is on everyone's mind today, which is the passing of a colleague and a friend to many. On behalf of our government and my family, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mark Warawa, my colleague, and to our colleagues from the Conservative Party and many others who have lost a friend today.
I would also like to take a moment to recognize that I am speaking to you from Treaty No. 7 territory. Such acknowledgements are important, particularly when we are meeting to talk about doing resource development the right way. Our government's approach to the Trans Mountain expansion project and the start of the construction season is a great example of that—of resource development done right.
Let me also begin by recognizing that I know this expansion project inspires strong opinions on both sides—for and against—and with respect to both sides of the debate, I want to assure everyone that our government took the time required to do the hard work necessary to hear all voices, to consider all evidence and to be able to follow the guidance we received from the Federal Court of Appeal last August.
That included asking the National Energy Board to reconsider its recommendation, taking into account the environmental impact of project-related marine shipping. It also included relaunching phase III consultations with indigenous groups potentially impacted by the project, by doing things differently and engaging in a meaningful two-way dialogue.
On that note, I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank the many indigenous communities that welcomed me into their communities for meetings over the last several months. I appreciate your openness, your honesty and your constructive ideas and sincerity of views.
Honourable members, no matter where you stand on TMX, this decision is a positive step forward for all Canadians. It shows how in 2019, good projects can move forward when we do the hard work necessary to meet our duty to consult indigenous peoples and when we take concrete action to protect the environment for our kids, grandkids and future generations.
When we came into office, we took immediate steps to fix the broken review system the Conservatives left behind. When the risks made it too difficult for the private sector to move forward, we stepped in to save the project. When the Federal Court of Appeal made its decision back in August of 2018, we made the choice to move forward in the right way.
When we finished this process, we were able to come to the right decision to deliver for workers in our energy sector, for Albertans and for all Canadians, a decision to support a project that will create jobs, diversify markets, support clean energy and open up new avenues for indigenous economic prosperity in the process.
Where do we go from here, now that the expansion has been approved? While these are still early days, we have a clear path forward for construction to begin this season and beyond. The Prime Minister laid out a lot of this on Tuesday afternoon as he announced our decision. Minister Morneau expanded on some of these details when he was in Calgary yesterday, talking about the road ahead and about launching exploratory discussions with indigenous groups interested in economic participation and about using TMX's revenues to ensure Canada is a leader in providing more energy choices.
We have also heard from the Trans Mountain Corporation about both its readiness and its ambition to get started on construction. Ian Anderson, the CEO of the Trans Mountain Corporation, made this very clear yesterday.
That's also what I heard when I visited with Trans Mountain Corporation workers yesterday in Edmonton. There were a number of contractors there. They are ready to proceed on the expansion of the Edmonton terminal, as well as on many of the pumping stations that are required to be built in this expansion.
The message is clear. We want to get shovels in the ground this season, while continuing to do things differently in the right way.
The NEB will soon issue an amended certificate of public convenience and necessity for the project. It will also ensure that TMC has met the NEB's binding pre-construction conditions. The Trans Mountain Corporation, meanwhile, will continue to advance its applications for municipal, provincial and federal permits. We stand ready to get the federal permits moving.
As all of that is happening, our government continues to consult with indigenous groups, building and expanding our dialogue with indigenous groups as part of phase IV consultations by discussing the potential impacts of the regulatory process on aboriginal and treaty rights and by working with indigenous groups to implement the eight accommodation measures that were co-developed during consultations, including building marine response capacity, restoring fish and fish habitats, enhancing spill prevention, monitoring cumulative effects and conducting further land studies.
We are also moving forward with the NEB's 16 recommendations for enhancing marine safety, protecting species at risk, improving how shipping is managed and boosting emergency response.
What is the bottom line? There is no doubt that there are a lot of moving parts. This is a project that stretches over 1,000 kilometres, but it is moving forward in the right way, as we have already proven with our $1.5-billion oceans protection plan, our $167-million whale initiative, our additional $61.5 million to protect the southern resident killer whale, and our investment of all of the new corporate tax revenues, as well as profits earned from the sale of TMX, in the clean energy projects that will power our homes, businesses and communities for generations to come.
Before making a decision, we needed to be satisfied that we had met our constitutional obligations, including our legal duty to consult with indigenous groups potentially affected by the project, upholding the honour of the Crown and addressing the issues identified by the Federal Court of Appeal last summer.
We have done that. We accomplished this by doing the hard work required by the court, not by invoking sections of the Constitution that don't apply or by launching fruitless appeals, both of which would have taken longer than the process we brought in.
While Conservatives were focused on making up solutions that wouldn't work, we focused on moving this process forward in the right way. We have confirmation of that, including from the Honourable Frank Iacobucci, former Supreme Court justice, who was appointed as a federal representative to provide us with oversight and direction on the revised consultation and accommodation process.
I will close where I began, which is by saying that we have done the hard work necessary to move forward on TMX in the right way, proving that Canada can get good resource projects approved and that we can grow the economy and deliver our natural resources to international markets to support workers, their families and their communities, all while safeguarding the environment, investing in clean growth and advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
Mr. Chair, I think this is a good place to stop and invite questions.
Thank you so much once again for having me here today.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
The process we put in place this time was quite different from what was done in past consultations.
First of all, we co-developed the engagement process with input from indigenous communities. We provided proper training to our staff and we doubled the capacity of our consultation teams. They worked tirelessly to engage in a meaningful two-way dialogue.
We also provided participation funding to indigenous communities so they could properly participate in the consultation process. We held more meetings and we met with indigenous communities in their communities. I personally held 45 meetings with indigenous communities and met with more than 65 leaders to listen to and engage with their concerns.
I am very proud of the outcome. We are offering accommodations to indigenous communities to deal with their concerns over fish, fish habitat, protection of cultural sites and burial grounds, as well as issues related to oil spills, the health of the Salish Sea, the southern resident killer whales, underwater noise and many others.
The accommodations we are offering, Mr. Chair, actually go beyond mitigating the impact of this project and will also go a long way toward resolving some of the issues and repairing some of the damage that has been done through industrial development in the Salish Sea. They will respond to many of the outstanding issues that communities have identified, related not only to this project but also to many of the other cumulative effects of the development that communities have experienced.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
Mr. Chair, as I said in my opening remarks, the National Energy Board will issue the certificate in the next couple of days. I was in Edmonton and had a chance to meet with workers and some of the contractors. They're ready to get down to work and they're preparing some of the work that does not require regulatory approval. The company can start mobilizing the contractors and subcontractors. They can start mobilizing their workers. They can start bidding for reconstruction work that is necessary and they can start applying for permits.
As we heard from the Trans Mountain Corporation, they're planning to put shovels in the ground by September. The goal is to complete the construction by mid-2022 so that we can start flowing the oil to markets beyond the United States.
It is very important, Mr. Chair, to understand that 99% of the oil we sell to the outside world goes to one customer, which is the United States. It is a very important customer for us. We need to expand our market with them, but we need to have more customers than one, because we are selling our oil at a discount and losing a lot of money. Over the last number of decades, the situation has remained the same. We want to make sure that this situation changes. That is why getting this project moving forward in the right way and starting construction is very important, not only to Alberta workers but also to all Canadians.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
Yes, and a large number of indigenous communities have signed benefit agreements with the company. Those amount to close to $400 million of economic opportunities for indigenous communities. There are other communities that are still in discussions about economic benefits.
As Minister Morneau stated here in Calgary, he is launching a process whereby indigenous communities can explore options to purchase the pipeline or make other financial arrangements. This is something that I have personally heard, Mr. Chair, from a large number of communities that are interested in seeking economic opportunities for their communities to benefit from resource development. We see a lot of potential in that, and Minister Morneau is going to be leading that. Ownership by indigenous communities could be 25% or 50% or even 100%.
We are also providing funding for indigenous communities so that they'll be ready to participate in that process.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
As many of us will remember, the National Energy Board imposed a number of conditions on this project. Trans Mountain Corporation, like any other private company, would have to comply with those conditions and respond to the NEB, and would need to apply for those permits. As you heard from CEO Ian Anderson, they are putting a process in place to work with the NEB to get those permits issued in an expedited way. The construction is supposed to be starting in mid-September.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
Mr. Chair, first of all, we have done the consultations in a way that reduces the chances of litigation. If somebody does challenge this decision in the Federal Court of Appeal, we are in a very good position to demonstrate that we have discharged our duty to consult by having extensive consultations and by keeping a record of the consultations.
It's also very important, Mr. Chair, to understand that unlike Conservatives, we will not undermine the due process that needs to be followed. We will not cut corners on the regulatory steps that need to be taken by the proponent in this case in relation to the NEB. Conservatives wanted us to cut corners at every step; we refused to do that. That is why we have reached this decision.
We owe it to Alberta workers. We owe it to the energy sector workers to do this.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
As I said earlier, unfortunately energy sector projects such as [Technical difficulty—Editor] controversial because of the steps taken by the Stephen Harper government to polarize Canadians by not respecting Canadians' right to participate and by gutting the environmental protections that were put in place. We will do whatever we can to ensure that this project moves forward in the right way.
In the case of an injunction, I understand that an injunction is in place and we expect anyone who is going to participate in any form of activity to do that within the rule of law. The rule of law will be respected, but I'm not going to speculate on something that has not happened. Our goal is to reduce the tension. Our goal is to reduce the polarization.
I'm confident that the work we have done over the last seven months will allow us to demonstrate to Canadians that we followed due process and are offering accommodations that appropriately deal with the concerns of indigenous communities.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
It is very important that we see moving forward on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion as an investment in Alberta's economy, in the Canadian economy, in the workers of Alberta. They deserve that support. We are providing them that support because having not a single pipeline to get our resources to non-U.S. markets has hurt our potential in Canada.
We—
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
First of all, we acknowledge and appreciate the diversity of opinions on this project among indigenous communities, as among other Canadians.
I have met with Chief Lee a number of times. I have met with leadership of the Tsleil-Waututh, with the former chief and with Chief Leah, who is the current chief, to talk about these issues. As far as Coldwater is concerned, our discussions with them are continuing. There are a number of options we are exploring with them to deal with their outstanding issues.
Our consultation doesn't end because the approval of this project has been given. We will continue to work with them.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
I know that this issue has been raised by the NDP before. If you talk to industry folks and to premiers in Alberta who have been advocating this project, from Premier Notley to Premier Kenney, 80% of the capacity of the expansion has already been booked by shippers for up to 20 years. That demonstrates to you that there's a demand. The existing pipeline has been full for the last number of years. There's a capacity that is required, and we believe that building this capacity will allow us to get those resources to the global market.
I'm really disappointed to hear the Conservative members saying that TMX will not get our resources to global markets. I hope that the Conservative members will have discussions with Premier Kenney and will be better engaged on that file. The premier has been advocating for this project because it allows us to get a better price and expand our markets beyond the U.S.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
The building of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion does not undermine or hinder our ability to meet our Paris Agreement commitments. We are putting a price on pollution. We are phasing out coal. We are supporting investment in public transit. Every dollar earned from revenue from this project will actually be invested back into a greener and cleaner economy so that we can accelerate our transition to a clean economy.
We all know that as the world transitions, there will still be a demand for oil, and our oil resources are developed in a sustainable way. The intensity of the emissions from the oil sands is continuing to decline, and we are supporting the industry to further reduce that intensity. We want to be the supplier of the energy that the world needs and at the same time use the resources and the revenue to accelerate that transition. It's a win-win situation for our economy: creating jobs at the same time as protecting our environment and dealing with the impacts of climate change.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
This is a very important project for our country. This is a project that is in the public interest. This is a project that will create thousands of jobs in Alberta, in British Columbia and in the Atlantic provinces.
As we all know, the growth of the energy sector in Alberta has provided opportunities for many people throughout this country from the Atlantic provinces through Ontario, Quebec and the prairie provinces. When we were in Fort McMurray the last time with the Prime Minister, we met with workers from British Columbia who were working in Fort McMurray.
This is about prosperity for all Canadians. It's very important for us to recognize and communicate this. This is about expanding our global markets. It's very disappointing that the Conservatives say that we don't need to expand our global markets and that we can continue to rely on the U.S. The U.S. is a very important customer for us, but we did the hard work necessary to get to this stage and we will continue to do the hard work necessary to ensure it gets to completion.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
I think it is very important that we make sure to follow the proper processes and procedures put in place for the NEB and our proponents. Whenever you undermine them, whenever you undercut them, you get into trouble and good projects get delayed.
Going back to why the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion got into this situation in the first place, in 2013 and 2014, when the initial review was started, the decision was made by the Stephen Harper government to not do the review to understand the impact of marine shipping on the marine environment and to—
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
No. I think we need to take some responsibility as well. They made the mistake of not including the marine shipping and its impact on the marine environment, and we did not do a good job on the consultation. I take full responsibility for that. That's why we need to do better. We need to improve our process to ensure that good projects can move forward.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
I am a firm believer that if Bill C-69 had been in place in 2013 when this review was started, the Trans Mountain pipeline would have been completed by now and would have been in operation, delivering our resources to non-U.S. markets. It is very important, because we are fixing a broken system.
As far as the exploratory oil wells in the Atlantic provinces are concerned, having a regional review done actually expedited some of that work.
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