- MPlibThu 11:50 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor
Mr. Speaker, I rise once again to talk about the potential of a major environmental disaster off of the northeast coast of Newfoundland. The ship is known as the Manolis L and it sits at the bottom of the ocean. It contains over 500 tonnes of bunker C and diesel oil.
Citizens have been calling, saying that one third of the sea birds they observe have oil on them. Aerial surveillance also shows oil on the water. This is one serious environmental issue.
Where is the government plan to do something about this? Emergency measures are not needed in the future. They are needed now.
- MPconThu 11:50 am | British Columbia, Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to protecting the environment from ship-sourced oil spills. We are committing millions for science and remediation measures through our world-class tanker safety program.
With respect to this situation, the member will know that work was done during the summer to plug some leaks. We have been monitoring it ever since, including a visual inspection. Based on these most recent reports, we will be conducting another visual inspection and taking the necessary action as soon as possible.
- MPconWed 11:50 am | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, our government is a world leader when it comes to addressing climate change. We continue to work with the provinces on reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector.
I can tell the House that, thanks to our actions, we have seen significant reductions in greenhouse gases, unlike the Liberal Party who increased greenhouse gas emissions by 130 megatonnes when it was in office. We are doing this without the $20 billion carbon tax that the NDP wants to bring in.
- MPlibWed 11:50 am | Ontario, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Shell Oil told the Government of Canada, “...signal to the world that Canada is stepping up to do its part” on oil and gas emissions and regulations.
The provinces and territories are there. The NGOs are there. The industry is signalling that it wants somebody there.
When will the minister and the government show up to “do its part” to bring order to this chaos?
- MPndpWed 11:45 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, yesterday's tanker safety report identified major gaps in safety planning, leaving Canadians profoundly concerned.The panel found response time standards will not be enough to contain spills. Even in ideal conditions, at most, 15% of oil spilled into our water and along our coast can be recovered.
Yet Conservatives are ignoring the liabilities faced by taxpayers and stubbornly pushing for more tanker traffic, which increases the risk to our coastlines and to our communities.
Will the minister put aside the spin, start being responsible and at the very least enact these recommendations?
- MPlibTue 11:50 am | Ontario, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot
Mr. Speaker, the failure of the Government of Canada to secure greenhouse gas regulations has resulted in the delay of Keystone XL. As a consequence, we have the worst of all possible worlds. We have massive delays in the building of pipelines, we have pipeline congestion, we have substantial increases in dangerous rail shipments, we have steep price discounts, and we have ever-increasing environmental degradation.
Will the Prime Minister make a decision, or will President Obama have to do it for him.?
- MPconTue 11:50 am | Saskatchewan, Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar
Mr. Speaker, Keystone XL will enhance national security and create tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity in both Canada and the U.S. We agree with the analysis compiled for the U.S. State Department, which found that Keystone XL is not likely to result in incremental GHG emissions.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration will need to import 7.4 million barrels of oil per day in 2035, so the U.S. will remain a very important customer of Canadian oil.
The choice for America is clear: a reliable, environmentally responsible friend and neighbour, or an unstable source with the same or higher—
- MPconMon 3:50 pm | Ontario, Simcoe North
The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 6:51 p.m.)
- MPconNov 27, 2013 12:05 pm | Ontario, Elgin—Middlesex—London
Mr. Speaker, a number of my constituents are hunters, and they are decent, law-abiding Canadians. Our government has stood up for their rights in abolishing the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.
Last week we learned that bureaucrats are seeking bids for a contract to study the environmental impact of lead bullets on the forest floor. Surely there must be a better use of taxpayers' money than launching a study into the environmental impact of hunters' bullets.
Does the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister agree?
- MPconNov 27, 2013 12:05 pm | Alberta, La Peltrie
Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate the Minister of International Development and others for their swift response to the effort in the Philippines. I think the Canadian response has been appreciated by our Filipino friends all across the country and of course by the Government of the Philippines as well.
On the matter of international climate change, obviously we continue to favour an international treaty that would have binding obligations upon all emitters. The Kyoto accord had binding obligations upon less than one-third of emissions, which is why it was not an effective instrument.
We will continue to work with the international community in the hope of developing an effective instrument.
- MPconNov 27, 2013 12:05 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham
Mr. Speaker, hunting, angling, and trapping are central to the livelihood, recreation, and tradition of many Canadians. That is why I am proud that our government cancelled this tender as a waste of taxpayer dollars. Our Conservative government continues to stand up for law-abiding hunters and sports shooters.
Now, of course, we know that the Liberals and the NDP probably would have continued this study, on the grounds that the environmental impact of bullets on the forest floor would have been a good pretext for onerous environmental restrictions on the use of bullets, and they probably would bring back the long gun registry.
We will continue to stand up for hunters—
- MPconNov 26, 2013 4:05 pm | Ontario, Simcoe North
The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 7:07 p.m.)
- MPconNov 26, 2013 4:05 pm | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, if the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 had not been passed, we would continue to have a regime that requires environmental assessments of inconsequential projects with little potential for adverse impacts. That is what we talked about before in the answer with the blueberries. We would continue to have a regime without enforcement provisions. We would continue to have a regime lacking in predictable legislative timelines for the completion of an environmental assessment.
With the recent changes, environmental assessments will be focused on major projects that have a greater potential for significant adverse environmental effects. Federal resources will not be wasted considering assessments for an overly broad pool of projects.
Effective and timely environmental assessment is important for both Canada's environment and its economy. Our government's actions ensure federal environmental assessment is focused on the right projects.
- MPconNov 26, 2013 4:00 pm | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Drummond for the opportunity to elaborate on his question.
Our government is committed to environmental protection and sustainable development. In fact, it is this Conservative government that has been strengthening environmental laws, setting higher safety standards and has been committed to enshrining the polluter pay system into law. That being said, I appreciate the opportunity to inform the member opposite of a few facts pertaining to the federal environmental assessment process that he may not have been aware of prior to asking his question.
First, it is important for the member opposite to understand that in situ oil stands were never on the project list, so there has been no change there.
Second, this project list has been expanded to include projects that were not on it before. Therefore, in this regard, we have actually strengthened our environmental assessment process. Let me be clear. There has been absolutely no dismantling of the laws governing federal environmental assessment.
Quite to the contrary, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 strengthens environmental protection and brings the federal regime into the 21st century. This legislation brought in enforceable environmental assessment decision statements to ensure proponents comply with required mitigation measures to protect the environment. Federal inspectors now have the authority to examine whether or not conditions of a decision statement are being met. There are penalties for non-compliance.
After this legislation was passed, the Minister of the Environment talked to Canadians about its implementation. Comments were sought on whether amendments should be made to the regulations that identify which projects may require a federal environmental assessment. A variety of interests provided their views, and those views were given very careful consideration. Changes to the regulations have been made to ensure they reflect those major projects that have the greatest potential for significant adverse environmental effects in areas of federal jurisdiction. This will increase certainty and predictability for project proponents and for all Canadians.
Let me again reiterate for my colleague opposite there has been no decision to exempt in situ oil sands projects from any federal review. In situ oil sands projects are not covered in the environmental assessment regulations that came into force through the amendments. They were not covered in the regulations before the amendments, and they were not covered in regulations under the former legislation. To make things perfectly clear for the member opposite, in situ oil sands projects have never been subject to federal environmental assessments, and federal permitting and approvals processes related to in situ projects have not changed.
Federal environmental assessment will continue to be implemented in a manner that supports responsible resource development to the benefit of all Canadians.
- MPconNov 25, 2013 11:50 am | Territories (yk, nt, nu), Nunavut
Mr. Speaker, our government has taken a leadership role in international climate change efforts. Canadians should be proud to know that leadership is being recognized on the world stage. In fact, while I was in Warsaw, I heard from representatives from Mexico, China, and Colombia, who all praise Canada for its environmental record. They did this because they know we have taken significant actions to protect the Canadian environment. We have done this without creating a massive $20-billion carbon tax that would increase the cost of everything.
- MPlibNov 25, 2013 11:50 am | Ontario, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has won yet another Fossil of the Year award. A Washington think tank rates Canada dead last in terms of developed nations. There is more. The Government of Canada has beat out Kazakhstan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia to finish 55 out of 58 in the national ranking. The trophy case is full.
Can the minister tell us how any of these unwelcome recognitions will help Canada secure Keystone XL, and can she do it without blaming someone else?
- MPndpNov 22, 2013 8:55 am | Territories (yk, nt, nu), Western Arctic
Mr. Speaker, this summer the Mackenzie Valley Review Board gave conditional approval for cleanup plans for the old Giant Mine. The Conservative's response has been to reject recommendations on independent reviews, on health and on citizen input.
Giant Mine is the poster child for why we need strong environmental regulations. Buried underground are 237,000 tonnes of arsenic. Why is the minister refusing to take all measures to ensure this poison is never released?
- MPndpNov 22, 2013 8:10 am | Territories (yk, nt, nu), Western Arctic
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment seems to be the only northerner who does not understand climate change. As she took her seat at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, a European report found, “Canada still shows no intention of moving forward with climate policy and therefore remains the worst performer of all industrialized countries”.
Meanwhile, the minister continues to mouth empty platitudes about how hard the Conservatives are working on climate change. However, Environment Canada's analysis shows Canada fell further behind in meeting its 2020 targets. While the minister fiddles, her constituents and mine are suffering. Inuit elders, hunters and others have told the Nunavut environment department that sea ice conditions have changed, there is more rain with snow later in the year, the stability of the permafrost is changing and traditional Inuit seasons have changed drastically.
When it comes to climate change, the minister is only willing to mouth PMO talking points, when she should be working for northerners.
- MPconNov 21, 2013 12:05 pm | Ontario, Ottawa West—Nepean
Mr. Speaker, the National Capital Commission does a phenomenal job at managing not only Gatineau Park, but the greenbelt on the Ottawa side of the Ottawa River.
It has numerous initiatives for responsible environmental policies and responsible environmental management. We have a lot of confidence that it will continue to do an extraordinary job managing these important assets, not just in the national capital regional but they are the pride of all Canadians.
- MPconNov 21, 2013 11:55 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle
The hon. member for Western Arctic.
- MPndpNov 21, 2013 11:55 am | Territories (yk, nt, nu), Western Arctic
Mr. Speaker, looking into the situation is not good enough.
The federal government has clear responsibility over the protection of fisheries and northern and transboundary waters. We do not want to wait for Alberta. The disaster is already impacting communities downstream from the site of the spill. Monitoring the situation is not good enough.
When will enforcement action be carried out by the government? What is Environment Canada doing to protect the people in the Mackenzie Basin?
- MPndpNov 21, 2013 11:55 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona
Mr. Speaker, here is a standard of leadership. A billion litres of toxic coal slurry was released into the Athabasca River from an abandoned coal mine.
The federal government is responsible for regulating industrial facilities to prevent such catastrophic incidents. The obvious response to a disaster of this scale is to ensure no other industrial facilities along this river pose similar risks.
Has the government taken immediate action to ensure no such incidents occur, including in the oil sands?
- MPconNov 21, 2013 11:55 am | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to protecting our environment and we are beefing up, if that member was paying attention, environmental laws. We are setting a higher safety standard and creating mandatory minimum sentences for individuals who violate environmental laws.
As I have said, it is our government that has committed to enshrining the polluter pay system into law and will continue to take action against those who break the environmental laws. If the New Democrats actually believed in this, it would be nice if they would actually vote in support of our government in these actions.
- MPconNov 21, 2013 11:45 am | Saskatchewan, Regina—Qu'Appelle
The hon. member for Trinity—Spadina.
- MPndpNov 21, 2013 11:45 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, all that hot air from the parliamentary secretary is not going to help us reduce emissions.
One would think that if a past environment minister had to make up numbers to prove to the world that Canada is taking action on climate change, the present one would actually act. Instead, the minister's most notable contribution to her first climate change conference was to demotivate global action on climate change so much so that civil society walked out of the talks today.
Do the Conservatives understand that it is their actions that made the international community leave those talks?
- MPconNov 21, 2013 11:45 am | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, again, the opposite is true. Our government has taken a leadership role to international climate change efforts. We have been clear that any international agreement must be fair and effective and include commitments by all major emitters.
That said, Canadians will be proud to know that our leadership on the world stage is being recognized by our international partners. Just yesterday, after concluding Canada's national statement at COP 19, the minister was approached by an Angolan representative, who personally thanked her for Canada's efforts.
Our government is committed to protecting the environment. We are committed and we will get results—
- MPndpNov 21, 2013 11:40 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have been saying for years that Canada is halfway to meeting its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. However, yesterday, the minister admitted that Canada is only a quarter of the way there. The Conservatives' approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to the Senate is the same: keep the status quo and tell lies.
When will they take action and make major polluters pay?
- MPconNov 21, 2013 11:40 am | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, exactly the opposite is true; our approach is working. Thanks to our actions, carbon emissions will actually go down close to 130 megatonnes from what they would have been under the Liberals.
Now let us contrast our approach with the NDP approach. Its approach would be a $20 billion carbon tax. Let us take a look at what this would do to hard-working Canadian families. It would be a tax on electricity, a tax on transportation, a tax on heating their homes, a tax on clothes and groceries for their kids, and the list goes on.
What we know is that our approach is working and Canadians do not want a $20 billion carbon tax from the NDP.
- MPndpNov 20, 2013 12:00 pm | Territories (yk, nt, nu), Western Arctic
Mr. Speaker, on October 31, a tailings pond dike at the former Obed Mountain coal mine near Hinton, Alberta, failed, releasing one billion litres of toxic coal slurry into the Athabasca River. The resulting toxic plume is travelling north and is expected to cross into the Northwest Territories within two weeks.
As protection of transboundary and northern waterways is a federal jurisdiction, what is Environment Canada doing to protect northern Canadians from this toxic spill?
- MPconNov 20, 2013 12:00 pm | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada is supporting the province and providing assistance as required. Environment Canada's enforcement officers are looking into the situation, and our government will continue to take action against those who break our environmental laws.
- MPndpNov 19, 2013 11:55 am | Ontario, Thunder Bay—Superior North
Mr. Speaker, the Citizens Climate Lobby is on the Hill this week calling on MPs to put a price on carbon pollution, specifically a carbon fee and dividend system.
Fee and dividend is far more effective than cap and trade. It is a revenue neutral fee that punishes pollution, puts money into taxpayers' pockets, and creates jobs.
Will the Conservatives protect the environment and taxpayers by supporting carbon fee and dividend?
- MPconNov 19, 2013 11:55 am | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, our government is taking action to address climate change. We have introduced new emissions regulations for vehicles and we were the first major coal user to ban construction of traditional coal-fired plants.
Our actions speak for themselves. They are working. Carbon emissions will go down close to 130 megatonnes from what they would have been under the Liberals. Again, we are doing all this without a carbon tax, a tax that would raise the price of everything for Canadian families. We are not going there.
- MPconNov 19, 2013 11:45 am | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to say we will, absolutely. Our government has taken a leadership role in international climate change efforts. We have been clear that any international agreement must be fair and effective and include commitments from all major emitters.
Meanwhile, we have taken real action domestically and we are seeing results. Thanks to our actions, carbon emissions will go down close to 130 megatonnes from what they would have been under the Liberals. We have done it all without a $20-billion carbon tax that the NDP would tax on everyone.
- MPndpNov 19, 2013 11:40 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, a new report on greenhouse gas emissions puts Canada at the bottom of the list, ahead of only Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia. The report indicates that the Conservatives have no plan to implement greenhouse gas reduction policies. While Canadians are making changes because they are concerned about climate change, the Conservatives do not want to make major polluters pay. Why?
- MPconNov 19, 2013 11:40 am | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to address this question.
The facts are that our government is committed to protecting the environment. That is why our Conservative government announced that we would be unveiling a new national conservation plan.
Since we formed government, the facts are that we have created two national marine conservation areas, three marine protected areas, three national wildlife areas, two national parks, and one historic site. The total area of lands that we have protected is an area that is twice the size of Vancouver Island. Our record speaks for itself.
- MPconNov 18, 2013 11:55 am | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, our government is taking action to address climate change. We have introduced new emissions regulations for vehicles, and we were the first major coal user to ban construction of traditional coal-fired plants.
Thanks to our action, carbon emissions will go down close to 130 megatonnes from what they would have been under the Liberals.
We are accomplishing this without the Liberal and NDP carbon tax, which would raise the price of everything.
- MPlibNov 08, 2013 8:05 am | Quebec, Lac-Saint-Louis
Mr. Speaker, this week, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled a report on the state of conservation of our natural heritage. The report showed that the government’s track record is a pattern of unfulfilled commitments and responsibilities.
Staffing for conservation work in national parks has decreased 23% compared to the average of the previous seven years. Many national parks lack baseline data on the state of the park, so there is nothing against which to measure whether progress is being made. Environment Canada itself has shown that the ecological integrity of over 70% of fauna reserves and over half of migratory bird refuges are considered inadequate.
We are a country defined by our natural beauty and heritage. Not only is conservation good in and of itself, it is key to preventing disruption associated with economic development.
The government must get its act together on environmental policy. It has had seven years to show some good faith on this file and some concrete actions and results. What is it waiting for?
- MPconNov 06, 2013 4:10 pm | Ontario, Simcoe North
The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 7:14 p.m.)
- MPconNov 06, 2013 4:10 pm | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, of course I will disagree with some of those comments.
I want the member to know that our government remains committed to transparency. Last month, we released the third Canada's Emissions Trends report. The report clearly shows that our sector-by-sector approach is getting real results.
Canadians should be proud of this incredible accomplishment. Our government will continue to make progress towards our targets.
Upcoming federal policies will contribute to additional emissions reductions, including in particular—and this is very important—oil and gas sector regulations, as was indicated in last month's Speech from the Throne.
Likewise, our government supports the efforts of the provinces and territories as well as consumers and businesses to lower their respective emissions.
I would like to address the matter of the Canadian delegation this year. As has been the case for the past several years, it will consist of government officials who take part in the government-to-government negotiations that are at the heart of the Conference of the Parties. Our Minister of the Environment looks forward to meeting with her international counterparts in Warsaw to continue addressing climate change.
If the member opposite would like to help Canada, then she should start by voting in favour of all the stuff we are doing, all our great initiatives.
- MPconNov 06, 2013 4:05 pm | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the leader of the Green Party for her kind words. I am looking forward to working with her.
I want her to know that our government is committed to achieving Canada's targets, and our record speaks for itself. We will continue to take action with our sector-by-sector approach that has been achieving real results while fostering economic growth.
We are proceeding to systematically address all major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. So far our government has contributed to reducing Canada's emissions through stringent regulations for the transportation and the electricity sectors, two of the largest sources of emissions in Canada.
I would like to now take a moment to highlight some of the great achievements we have made so far.
First, Canada has strengthened its position as a world leader in clean energy production by becoming the first major coal user to ban future construction of traditional coal-fired electricity-generating units.
Second, and coming from Oshawa, I am proud to say that the 2025 passenger vehicles and light trucks will emit about half as many greenhouse gases as the 2008 models.
Third, greenhouse gas emissions from 2018 model year heavy-duty vehicles will be reduced by up to 23%.
Let me reiterate: our government's collective actions are achieving real results, and thanks to our actions, carbon emissions will go down close to 130 megatonnes from what they would have been under the Liberals.
This is a reduction equivalent to the elimination of 37 coal-fired electricity plants. We are accomplishing this without the NDP's carbon tax which, as members know, would raise the price of everything.
Between 2005 and 2011, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 4.8%. This is really important: emissions have decreased by 4.8%, while the economy has grown 8.4% and per capita emissions are at a historic low.
In addition to doing our part through the United Nations, we are also actively involved in forums such as the Arctic Council, the Montreal protocol, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to develop practical and collaborative initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and short-lived climate pollutants.
To address the second part of the member's question, I will point out that Canada has strong international commitments to support developing country mitigation and adaptation efforts. Our Conservative government, in partnership with other developed countries, has fully delivered on its first fast-start financing commitment, which provided $30 billion over the three-year period of 2010 to 2012. In fact, we exceeded the commitment by providing $33 billion.
As we can clearly see, the figures speak for themselves. Our government has committed to the largest-ever contribution to support international efforts to address climate change, a contribution that has supported mitigation and adaptation efforts in over 60 developing countries.
We remain committed to working with other countries to address climate change.
- MPndpNov 06, 2013 11:50 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the only thing under the current Conservative government that we are leading at is failing on acting on climate change.
In this report, one of the authors said:
Canada doesn't seem to fully grasp the risk that climate change poses to it...in its approach to climate change.
That last answer is a perfect example of not grasping the situation. When will the minister start paying attention to science and actually take action on climate change?
- MPconNov 06, 2013 11:50 am | Territories (yk, nt, nu), Nunavut
Mr. Speaker, our government has taken action to address climate change. We introduced new emissions regulations for vehicles. We are the first major coal user to ban construction of traditional coal-fired power plants.
Thanks to our actions, carbon emissions will go down close to 130 megatonnes from what they would have been under the Liberals. We are accomplishing this without the NDP carbon tax, which would have raised the cost of everything.
- MPndpNov 05, 2013 3:20 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to a reiteration by the second parliamentary secretary of the same statement that allegedly the government has made stricter federal environmental laws.
I look forward to the parliamentary secretary outlining to this place what these new stricter environmental protection laws are that are going to ensure protection of first nation rights and interests, and of threatened species.
I also wonder if the parliamentary secretary agrees with the recent decisions by the Alberta energy regulator to deny standing to first nations and Métis in oil sands expansion projects, and to deny the request for a buffer between recently appended lands for traditional harvest and a major new oil sands operation.
- MPndpNov 05, 2013 3:15 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona
Mr. Speaker, on October 28, I inquired of the government how its recent decision to exempt in situ oil sands projects from the federal Environmental Assessment Act was consistent with its publicly-expressed commitment to balance resource development and its publicly-announced new respectful working relationship with first nations. I asked this in the wake of repeated concerns expressed by first nations about the failure of the federal government to intervene to protect their constitutional and treaty rights.
The rather confusing response by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment was that environmental assessments were shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments and they, presumably the federal government, had made environmental protection laws stricter, while making environmental assessments more efficient and effective. Efficient and effective to what end, one may validly ask, fast tracking resource extraction by avoiding reviews and hearings? Are we to believe that exempting major projects for environmental assessments are stricter protection laws? Is this what the government considers balance?
I sought this clarification as this past month the government chose, absent any consultation, to downgrade federal environmental assessment laws to exempt in situ oil sands projects from any federal review or hearing.
First, the decision ignores federal jurisdiction and duties to address any transboundary impacts and overriding duties to address impacts to aboriginal peoples, lands and their rights and interests from resource development. Decisions to reduce consultation on project impacts also abrogates federal Crown duties of advanced consultation, consideration and accommodation of aboriginal right and title.
Second, significantly delayed action to protect threatened caribou and bison herds in the wake of ongoing approvals of massive bitumen extraction projects further erodes the ability of the federal government to deliver on its languishing duties under the Species at Risk Act to protect threatened species and their critical habitat. It is noteworthy that today the federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development issued a scathing report on the abject failure of the government to comply with the prescribed mandatory duties and timelines to protect protected species and their habitats.
Two of the most threatened species are the woodland bison and the boreal woodland caribou, whose critical remaining habitat is being sacrificed to expanded oil sands mines. Several new bitumen mines are approved and others in application on the habitat of two critical herds of woodland bison, the Ronald Lake herd and boreal woodland caribou. These herds graze on the lands adjacent to the Poplar Point reserve, residence of the Athabasca Chipewyan peoples who rely on these herds for their sustenance. The habitat has reportedly been zoned by Alberta to allow bitumen mining.
The government is making these decisions in the face of repeated requests by the first nations to protect these herds and their habitat in the face of decisions by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The Federal Court ruled two years ago that then minister of environment Jim Prentice had erred in law in holding that he was not required to consider impacts to aboriginal right and title when making decisions under the Species at Risk Act. How many more court challenges must these impacted first nations face before the government finally takes action to protect these threatened species and their habitat?
- MPconNov 05, 2013 11:40 am | Territories (yk, nt, nu), Nunavut
Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to protecting and preserving our rich biodiversity. That is why we announced our government's intent to introduce an emergency protection order for the sage grouse. Thanks to our action, more than 60% of the recovery documents have been posted in the last three years. Our record speaks for itself.
- MPndpNov 05, 2013 11:35 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the environment commissioner must be pretty tired of repeating himself because in yet another scathing report he found “a wide and persistent gap between what the government commits to do and what it is achieving”. In other words, the Conservatives are all talk and no action.
The Conservatives have allowed the backlog for species at risk strategies to grow beyond a decade. More inaction means that more species will disappear. Does the minister understand that neglect and mismanagement is not an ecosystem recovery strategy?
- MPconNov 04, 2013 12:05 pm | Territories (yk, nt, nu), Nunavut
Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to working with our international partners to address climate change. We have contributed $1.2 billion to developing countries so that they can reduce emissions and adapt to changes. We are also a founding member of an international coalition taking action to reduce pollutants like black carbon.
I look forward to meeting with my international counterparts to continue to take action in addressing climate change.
- MPconOct 28, 2013 11:55 am | British Columbia, Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
Mr. Speaker, as the minister said, researchers from DFO have been working with our partners to study beluga whales in the St. Lawrence. In fact, a scientific review meeting was held earlier this month to review scientific information on the state of the population and the peer reviewed science advice will be published in the coming months.
- MPconOct 28, 2013 11:45 am | Ontario, Oshawa
Mr. Speaker, as I said, our government is making environmental protection laws stricter while making environmental assessments much more efficient and effective. For example, in the past something like a blueberry washing facility had to go through the same processes as a pipeline. Unlike the opposition, which wants to waste taxpayers' money on assessing blueberries, our government is ensuring that resources are focused on projects with potential environmental effects.
- MPndpOct 28, 2013 11:40 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona
Mr. Speaker, if a bill is tabled that increases funding for inspection and enforcement, I guarantee we will vote for it.
The government speaks publicly of balanced development and a new respectful working relationship with first nations. The reality is far the opposite. Incredibly, last week it downgraded environmental assessment rules to exempt in situ oil sands projects from any review or hearing. This exemption not only contradicts the information of its own scientists but abrogates constitutional duties to consult. Is forcing first nations and Metis to seek redress in the courts the Conservative vision of a new working relationship?
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