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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Issue No. 57 - Evidence - March 21, 2019


OTTAWA, Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, to which was referred Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, met this day at 8:02 a.m. to give consideration to the bill; and, in camera, for the consideration of a draft agenda (future business).

Senator Rosa Galvez (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Good morning and welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

My name is Rosa Galvez, a senator from Quebec and chair of this committee.

[Translation]

I would like to ask the senators who are around the table to introduce themselves, starting with the deputy chair, to my right.

[English]

Senator MacDonald: Michael MacDonald, Nova Scotia.

Senator McCallum: Mary Jane McCallum, Treaty 10, Manitoba region.

Senator Mitchell: Grant Mitchell, Alberta, Treaty 6 territory.

[Translation]

Senator Pratte: Good morning. André Pratte from Quebec.

Senator Massicotte: Paul J. Massicotte from Quebec.

[English]

Senator Woo: Yuen Pau Woo, British Columbia.

Senator Simons: Paula Simons, Alberta, Treaty 6 territory.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: Patti LaBoucane-Benson, Alberta, Treaty 6 territory.

Senator Seidman: Judith Seidman, Montreal, Quebec.

Senator Smith: Larry Smith, Quebec.

The Chair: I want to take the opportunity to introduce the clerk of the committee, Mr. Maxime Fortin, and to my right Mr. Jesse Good, Analyst, Library of Parliament.

Senator Neufeld from B.C. just arrived. Good morning, senator.

Colleagues, today we are continuing our study of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. Today we welcome, from the Railway Association of Canada, Mr. Marc Brazeau, President and Chief Executive Officer; Rachel Heft, Legal Counsel, CN; and, from the Canadian Ferry Association, Mr. Serge A. Buy, Chief Executive Officer.

Thank you very much for joining us. I will invite each of you to give your opening statements. After that, we will proceed with some questions and answers. Who is going to speak first?

Marc Brazeau, President and Chief Executive Officer, Railway Association of Canada: It is my pleasure to be here today on behalf our 50-plus freight and passenger railway members. I am also pleased to be joined by Rachel Heft, legal counsel with CN.

The railway industry is concerned with several aspects of Bill C-69. Prior to providing you with our comments, however, I would like to take a minute to frame the context that railways operate within on a daily basis.

The Canadian railway network consists of more than 42,000 route kilometres. That’s a third larger than the national highway transportation system in Canada. Each year our members move approximately $300 billion worth of goods and more than 50 per cent of our country’s goods destined for export while 80 million passenger trips allow Canadians to leave their cars at home and use trains as a safe and emission-friendly mode of transportation.

[Translation]

The railway sector is well positioned to support the government’s commitment to fight climate change and reduce emissions. Moreover, both the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change and the Transportation 2030 program insist on the need to transport merchandise and passengers by rail in order to reduce emissions in Canada. Rail transport is four times more efficient than road transport. A single freight train removes approximately 300 trucks from the country’s congested roads and highways. A resilient rail network is a prerequisite to economic growth and trade diversification. The government is continuing to work on new trade agreements and new export opportunities, and that is why the transport supply chain in Canada must have the capacity to meet the growing and evolving demands of the Canadian economy. We feel it is crucial that the bill establish a balance between environmental protection objectives and the railways’ obligation to be at the service of the Canadian economy.

[English]

Let me explain. Canada’s railways are designated federal undertakings which are obliged to grow their networks in concert with the needs of the Canadian economy. This mandate is referenced in Canada’s national transportation policy and the railway sector’s common carrier obligations that are enshrined in the Canada Transportation Act.

Railways have a legislative responsibility to make a reasonable effort to accept all traffic offered to them and are obliged to provide facilities such as rail yards and track to accommodate that traffic. This, as you can imagine, means that railways must be able to swiftly make additions to their network to meet shippers’ and the economy’s needs. Our industry is also required to undertake work, often under urgent circumstances, to ensure the efficiency and safety of our rail network across the country.

As a means to providing their shippers with an efficient, low-cost and safe service, railways annually invest substantive amounts of their revenues to operate, maintain and ultimately grow their networks. In fact, last year alone, our members invested more than $5 billion to allow businesses to access markets and capitalize on growth opportunities.

Our industry is concerned that Bill C-69 does not take into account the railway industry’s obligations to respond to shippers’ demands by expanding swiftly, operating efficiently and, most importantly, safely.

As critical components to the competitiveness of the Canadian economy, railway projects need to be subject to an improved and more efficient review process.

We are proposing a specific set of amendments to this bill. The package we have provided each of you today asks to you strengthen the Canadian Navigable Waters Act by clarifying the type of work subject to ministerial approval and to differentiate the permitting and approval requirements for work conducted on existing infrastructure. The key word is “existing.”

We propose that you amend the bill to create a streamlined process for work to be completed on existing infrastructure and to extend emergency approvals to apply in response to social disruption or a breakdown in the flow of essential goods, services or resources.

We strongly believe these amendments are necessary to be consistent with the Canada Transportation Act and to ensure that railways can continue to invest and maintain their networks so they remain safe and responsive to the needs of the Canadian economy.

We also believe the impact assessment act can be strengthened by reducing the timelines to complete an impact assessment by the agency to 14 months and by a review panel to 23 months; ensuring that the significance tests remain central to determining adverse effects; and, finally, addressing the potential veto powers that the minister would hold over a decision statement without due process or consultation with a proponent.

[Translation]

I invite you once again to acquaint yourselves with the amendments in your information package, and I also want to take this opportunity to underscore the fact that our recommendation on reducing the time spent on assessments is in keeping with the government’s intention to establish a more effective approval process in Canada. The Railway Association of Canada believes that all of Canada will benefit from an environmental assessment process that is credible, inspires trust and will assist in timely, informed decision-making.

We feel it is important to create good conditions to stimulate investment and growth, and not impose constraints on the dynamic rail sector. We look forward to your questions. Thank you.

[English]

Serge A. Buy, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Ferry Association: Thank you, senators, for allowing the Canadian Ferry Association to present on Bill C-69. The Canadian Ferry Association represents ferry owners, operators and industry suppliers. Ferries in Canada transport over 55 million people, 21 million vehicles and billions of dollars of goods. Ferries enable people to go to school, work or attend medical appointments. They help deliver goods to remote regions. They are often the only linkage to remote communities.

Our members include eight provincial governments, two Crown corporations, municipal governments small and large, including Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver, Indigenous organizations and private corporations.

However, ferries are often forgotten in policies and legislation. If the late John Candy was still with us today, we would send him a letter to complain: the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles did not include ferries and it made it easy for some to ignore a Canadian reality. Ferries are a crucial part of our transportation infrastructure.

This leads me to raise our concerns about Bill C-69. Some of our members operate cable ferries. Usually, those cable ferries operate across rivers and lakes, although one is now in coastal waters in British Columbia. Bill C-69 will impact these operations.

Just to give you a better sense, those operations are located in Saskatchewan, in northern regions, serving Indigenous communities in some regions or just crossing large rivers; in Manitoba it is the same thing, as well as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Columbia and other places.

We have two main concerns. The first relates to major work orders. We were surprised to learn that cable ferries would be included in the list of projects that could be subject to a new major work order. Other examples included in the list are dams and causeways.

There is a major difference, senators, between a cable ferry and a dam. The inclusion of cable ferries in the list does not reflect the realities of the sector. It will make cable ferry operation costlier and more burdensome.

Cable ferries differ in terms of the length of the cable, the waterways served, the communities where they’re located, et cetera. They share one characteristic: They have a minimum impact on land, water and navigation.

In situations where the cable is underwater, it only rises from the bottom when the ferry is in operation, which basically has the same impact on navigation as any other vessel that would cross. When the cable is overhead, there is even less impact.

Cable ferries have been in use in Canada for over 200 years and have a long history of safe operation. The sector is already heavily regulated in the Canadian Shipping Act and other legislation, and while we welcome scrutiny, we are also concerned about adding burden to operations. Additional oversight mechanisms will not reveal anything other than the measures already in place.

As the legislation and supporting documents indicate, there could be the same review imposed every time a cable is replaced, which, on occasion, would take place every six weeks. Are we going to go through the process every six weeks of a review? The replacement process is short, has virtually no impact on the surrounding area and is done safely.

I see that Minister Pedersen from the Government of Manitoba is speaking after this panel. I am convinced that he would be concerned to hear that for Bill C-69, a new additional government review of the process of laying cables could be asked every time a cable for ferries is changed, which can happen up to three times per season in that province, which is one of our members. This would impose more costs on Manitoba taxpayers and provide no more safety to anyone.

Would this additional review imposed by the federal government delay important maintenance work? Possibly. Would it create risks? Possibly. Has there been an impact assessment of the requirements of this legislation? Not as far as we know. On March 1 we received department’s briefing. There are answers we should have before approving this legislation as it stands.

Our second concern is around ministerial discretion. The discretionary powers given to the minister under Bill C-69 are somewhat sweeping. We understand the need for scrutiny for some projects but increasing the discretionary powers for the minister creates uncertainty.

We believe clarity needs to be provided and ministerial discretionary powers limited.

Senators, earlier I referred to a movie from the 1980s. Our discussion with public servants on Bill C-69 evokes a song from the 1980s: Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Well, we’re not unhappy but we’re seriously concerned. The fact that they keep telling us that everything will be addressed in the regulations is nice, but we haven’t seen the details of those and we are concerned.

In various discussions we were told that regulations following the adoption of Bill C-69 would provide that clarity. I have been working in and around Parliament Hill for 26 years. I worked in the Senate before, although in another location. You will understand that some have concerns when they hear, “trust us, everything will be fine.” I suggest you should have the same concern about this legislation.

This is why we ask the committee requests that the major work orders accurately reflect the realities of the marine sector, exempt cable ferries from it and that the committee clarify, define and limit ministerial discretionary powers in the legislation.

Thank you.

Senator MacDonald: Thank you, witnesses for being here.

We have heard concerns from industry about section 17 of the proposed impact assessment act, which allows the minister to arbitrarily stop any project from moving forward if they are of the opinion it is clear that the designated project would cause unacceptable environmental effects within federal jurisdiction.

Is it clear to either one of you, or any of you at the table, how unacceptable effects will be interpreted? If the minister cancelled one of your projects using section 17, would you have the ability to appeal that decision?

Mr. Buy: We are clearly concerned. This is what I referred to in my presentation in giving the minister so much power without limiting it. We are concerned about what it could mean and how it would be applied. We’re not clear about whether there would be an appeal process. I assume we can go to court. The impact on the communities that are served would be fairly drastic.

We are concerned. We would rather have clarity before the legislation is passed.

Mr. Brazeau: From our point of view, certainty and predictability are very important in any business. The concern is not so much with the minister’s veto power in general. Specifically, we’re concerned by the fact the proposed IAA would give the minister an effective veto over a designated project without due process to be followed.

The proposed IAA, we believe, needs to be amended and modified. We want to make sure that we have an ability to have engagement as a proponent prior to that veto being exercised.

We want to stress that, again, predictability and certainty are critical going forward with respect to this amendment.

Senator MacDonald: I have to make the point that I’m very familiar with two of the cable ferries in Cape Breton at Little Narrows and the Englishtown ferry. They are very unobtrusive. I don’t know why those are ferries would be a big issue for anyone.

I have another question for the Railway Association. The Railway Association has indicated to us that Bill C-69 includes no time limits for information gathering or scoping. The government ignored this phase when they talked about reduced timelines under Bill C-69.

In terms of the railway, what is your experience with scoping phases, how long do they usually take and is there anything in Bill C-69 to prevent more than one federal agency from scoping the same project?

Rachel Heft, Legal Counsel, CN, Railway Association of Canada: We are concerned about timelines with respect to information requests, which generally come after the notice of commencement.

We have experienced in the past that information requests can be cyclical and, of course, once an information request is made, the time or the clock, if you will, stops while the proponent is responding to or preparing a study.

We have experienced in the past up to 10 information requests with respect to one project over a period of two years. That has meant that the clock has stopped for two years.

I would simply point out that subsequent information requests are not always built on previous information requests. We don’t feel that the bill necessarily addresses the discipline required to make the information requests early in the process or in a manner that they’re all upfront in order to not create additional delays.

However, we wouldn’t want to suggest that either the agency or the panel shouldn’t have the required evidence. The agency and the panel, by all means, should have the evidence necessary. It’s more a question of the process in terms of limiting or encouraging the agency and panel to get as much information as early on in the process as possible as to not create delays.

Senator MacDonald: Thank you.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: Good morning. My question is with regard to railways. In our discussion yesterday, we talked about the ability for railways to respond to emergencies. You reminded me, and I’m grateful, that Alberta uses railways more than any province in the entire country.

I would like you to explain a bit more — because I thought a lot about our conversation yesterday — about how this bill will impact the railway’s ability to respond to emergencies in a timely way, and what kinds of amendments would you like to see to make sure that can you do that work?

Mr. Brazeau: As I mentioned in my remarks, there’s 42,000 kilometres of track across Canada. We’re talking about thousands of bridges as well. I think it’s 21,000 bridges that we cross over.

When you think about the maintenance required on that network on an ongoing basis, it is significant. I mentioned at the outset we invested last year $5 billion in infrastructure, which includes, obviously, rail and bridges. That’s important for us as an industry going forward, that this bill allows us to continue to do regular maintenance work without being impeded by delays as a result of assessments that need to be conducted.

I’ll use a bridge again as an example. The proposed changes to the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, if there’s anything going in the water, whether it be scaffolding, whether it be a barge, that would possibly prevent us from moving forward in a timely manner to ensure the safety of that network.

Again, keep in mind we have an obligation to meet shippers needs. We have shippers across the country who depend on us every day to get their products to market. The example used yesterday is grain. Grain farmers in Alberta rely on us to ensure their grains get to the Port of Vancouver so that they can meet their export market customers.

Right now we have concerns with our ability to maintain the integrity of our network from a safety point of view and continuing to meet customers and shippers needs if we’re not able to do that work in a timely and efficient manner.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: From all the information that you sent earlier, this is kind of new. The ability to respond to emergencies isn’t really in your briefing. Could you get back to us with specific amendments or the specific idea that you’re bringing forward to be able to respond to emergencies? Can you do that?

Ms. Heft: We certainly can do that, although I can speak to it now as well.

The Canadian Navigable Waters Act includes an emergency provision under section 10, as did the Navigation Protection Act. That emergency provision or the ability for the minister to provide an emergency approval or dispense with approvals was changed slightly. Our belief is that it has been mirrored on other acts. It refers to the emergencies as being national security or a national emergency or an emergency that poses a risk to public health or safety.

The difference between this emergency provision and the one that was under the previous act is simply that it doesn’t provide for an emergency which we would consider an emergency, which is social disruption or the breakdown in the flow of essential goods, services and resources.

That is exactly what we would like to add to the emergency list, to allow the minister to dispense with the approvals.

The Chair: I have a follow-up question on that point.

That part on emergency shouldn’t be under the Minister of Transport, the transportation of dangerous goods, instead of the proposed Environmental Impact Assessment Act.

You have given subcontracts to many industries and carriers, and some are very good and responsible and others are less. We know what happened at Lac-Mégantic, and we know the story with MMA. Can you please elaborate on how you have corrected the situation with the Ministry of Transport versus Bill C-69?

Ms. Heft: The Minister of Transport always retains his or her powers with respect to railway safety under the Railway Safety Act. There are inspectors that could, for example, order repairs on a bridge or indicate that there is a concern with respect to a bridge or some infrastructure on our network. We are responsible for infrastructure on our network regardless of which carrier is operating there.

The emergency provision I was referring to is under the Canada Navigable Waters Act is in fact the Minister of Transport wearing two hats under both of those acts.

I think, actually, to your point, where we receive an order, for example, from either the Minister of Transport or one of his inspectors, we would want to be able to take swift action.

There could be some conflict with respect to delays caused by the provisions of this bill, delays in approvals that are needed for permits, when there is safety work to be done on our infrastructure. There is a bit of a conflict that we would prefer to have addressed.

Senator Mitchell: Thanks to each of you for being here.

The Railway Association has a particular concern with clause 17(1). Your argument is that the minister could cancel a project, I think you’re implying, arbitrarily early on in the process.

I think you’re in luck because I think you’re referring to the unamended original version of the bill. The bill was amended in the House of Commons. It stands today before the Senate in its amended form. It’s very clear that the minister will not be able to cancel a project early on in that process. What this provision has been clarified to further emphasize is that the minister will be able to give you an early opinion that there may be a problem that you need to know, so you’re not $900 million into a project review before you find out that there’s a problem.

It’s a direct response saying give us an idea early, but if the industry, the proponent wants to continue because they think they can mitigate this issue later on, it’s absolutely their discretion. The minister will not be able to cancel.

Could you give us your sum assessment or an idea you will get back to us on, the addition to clause 17(1) as amended in the House of Commons. I think your concern has been mitigated. I can read it to you.

Ms. Heft: I just reviewed clause 17 of the act. I agree with you the minister gives a notice that an opinion has been formed in advance that there are unacceptable effects. I agree that it’s no longer strictly a veto power that instructs the agency not to proceed with a notice of commencement.

I would add that it is of some concern that opinion would be formed prior to an impact assessment, environmental studies or discussions with the proponent. That does still cause some concern.

Senator Mitchell: But it causes more concerns if you’re $900 million into a project and all of sudden you get a surprise. Would that not be the case?

Ms. Heft: Absolutely.

Senator Mitchell: The second issue is your concern about ministerial discretion to designate a project that wasn’t to be designated under the project list process. That’s an important offset to those who were very concerned about arbitrarily having big projects just taken off the assessment process because they don’t fall under a pre-prescribed project list set of parameters.

Have you looked at the actual application of that power which has been in place since CEAA 2012 was passed in 2012? From which time there have been 37 requests, and remember it has to be requested. Of those 37 requests, only 3 have been approved. Of those, the first two were requested by the proponents, by a port and by — it wasn’t a railroad. The third was requested by the Department of Parks because it was hydroelectric on the Athabasca River. Have you had a chance to look at exactly how that’s used and how infrequently it has been used? And yet wouldn’t you consider, knowing this is a democracy of competing interests and stakeholders and the need for a politician who is accountable to be able to say, “Okay, proponent, you want me to do this. You want us to spend the money to do a review because this is controversial and you would like to have the backup of that process. Okay, we are going to spend some money on your behalf to give you some comfort. Thank you.”

Ms. Heft: In our submission we have not taken issue with the minister’s power to direct that the agency or a panel proceed with an impact assessment or an environmental assessment of a project that’s not on the designated projects list. That is not one of our issues.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you.

Mr. Buy: Thank you, senator. We do have some concerns. You talked about the democracy and about the responsibility from the politicians. There needs to be some clarity, senator, before those things are done. There needs to be clarity in line. We can’t be at the whim of a politician or pressure group who decides to suddenly have a special interest on something. Industry doesn’t function this way. The rest of the world doesn’t function this way. Ottawa does but other people need clarity on their project when they are planning to spend millions if not billions of dollars on specific projects. They need to ensure there is a strong understanding of what the rules are going to be and how things are going to proceed. To not know whether the minister one day decides, “Oh, I will put this in a review or not,” is a bit of a concern when you are proceeding with significant investment. We have concerns with that, senator.

Senator Mitchell: You are aware it has to come as a request?

Senator Simons: I really appreciate that you guys are all speaking about the navigable waters section of Bill C-69. I sometimes feel like it’s the poor cousin of this legislation, that people read the first two sections and run out of energy before they get to the third part.

Many people have spoken to us about their frustration that in the impact assessment part of the bill there is no clarity around a project list. When we are getting to the major works section and navigable waterways I don’t see, Mr. Buy, where you are seeing cable ferries enumerated. I’m wondering: Did you receive a briefing where you got the navigable waterways equivalent of a project list? Because one of my great frustrations going through this is that it’s very difficult to know what’s in and what’s out. I don’t see anywhere in the legislation in front of me where cable ferries or minor repairs to rail lines would be considered major works. What do you know that I don’t?

Mr. Buy: You are correct, senator. We did receive a list of projects. We were told by the department that cable ferries would be included under major works.

Senator Simons: When did you receive that list? And would you share it with me?

Mr. Buy: We received that statement on the cable ferries probably in November. It’s been confirmed to us again in March. We can send you any correspondence we receive from the department on this issue.

Senator Simons: I would agree with you. Even by the act’s own definitions I don’t see how cable ferries or — so Mr. Brazeau and Ms. Heft, have you received similar briefings about what would or would not be considered a major work?

Mr. Brazeau: I think from our point of view there needs to be better definition around that. One of the big concerns we have is the new definition really broadens the scope of what is included as navigable water. I think the bill presents potential for additional waters to be included that weren’t included before. That’s something we are looking for greater clarity on in terms of definition. From our understanding once you put something in the water, could be scaffolding, could be a barge, it changes the scope of the requirements.

Senator Simons: You have been speaking primarily about freight transport. I like to imagine a future in which we get 21st century passenger rail. Whether that’s my imaginary pet high-speed train or my imaginary pet hyperloops, do you foresee a potential problem if we are trying to develop state of the art linear passenger rail networks that the Impact Assessment Act could create a challenge to building, say, a higher-speed rail line between Toronto and Montreal? We want one from Edmonton to Calgary.

Mr. Brazeau: Perfect. Down Highway 2.

Senator Simons: There is a right of way just waiting to be used.

Mr. Brazeau: There is lots of land there.

The Chair: Just for our information, the ferry system, how does it work? I know that it can be privately owned. It can be co-owned with government. And the fleet that is there, what is the lifetime for a ferry and where are we with the replacement? We read one week ago about one of the ferries in Matane in the north coast that was in an accident.

Mr. Buy: Your question is a little bit broad. I can certainly provide an answer. Our ferries are owned by various parties. A lot of the ferries are owned by government and government departments. As I mentioned at the outset, our membership includes eight provincial governments that own and operate ferries, two Crown corporations, one a federal Crown corporation called Marine Atlantic and another one, a provincial Crown corporation called Owen Sound Transportation Company in Ontario. B.C. Ferries is one of the best known. In B.C. it’s one of our members. It’s a private corporation owned by one shareholder, the Province of British Columbia. You may have heard this in the media from the B.C. government a couple of times. In Quebec it’s an agency of the government that runs the ferries.

You have First Nations who run ferries. One of our board members is from Beausoleil First Nation in Ontario. They operate a ferry. Other First Nations across the country operate their own ferries. There are some private corporations. Some operate and run their own ferries. You see some across the Ottawa River where some of them actually operate under contract with the government and the government actually owns the ferry. You see that in the eastern ferries that was referred to in the budget.

The fleet, senator, it depends. You have a ship that is over 100 years old in Toronto. We still sometimes are amazed it keeps getting certified but it does, which is good. It means that good repairs are done by the City, one of our members. Others are state of the art and just came into service in the last couple of months. It does vary. Cable ferries are usually a bit older. The cables themselves are replaced — I alluded to that in my presentation — on a regular basis.

The Chair: My point was exactly that, to show in the train and ferry there is a big variety of quality and standards and maybe there is this advantage of Bill C-69 that will come and homogenize a little bit because the expectation is that it has to work and it has to be safe.

Mr. Buy: I would like to correct you, senator. You say there is a difference in quality and standards. There is not. They all operate under the same rules or the same legislation. There is a difference of ownership and difference of who runs the ferries. I can honestly say the quality and standards and the safety record of our fleet is second to none.

There was an accident you referred to in Quebec. Nobody was hurt. Nobody had an issue there. I would remind you, it’s a difficult condition in the Gulf of St. Lawrence right now with a lot of ice that’s going through. There is no difference in quality and standards. We all adhere to the same standards that are already set by the government.

Bill C-69 will not increase safety. Absolutely not.

Senator Simons: Is it possible for Mr. Brazeau to finish his answer to my question?

Mr. Brazeau: With respect to passenger rail, Via Rail recently put forward a proposal for high-frequency rail which would see more Via trains within the Quebec City — Windsor corridor. Unfortunately, not between Edmonton and Calgary right now, but they do have a plan in place where they would have dedicated track which would run between Quebec City and Windsor. Therefore any regulations and requirements through this legislation and this bill would have some impact on their ability to do that.

There is some existing track they would be able to use, certainly, between Smiths Falls and Peterborough in Ontario. There is potential for new track to be built if this plan goes forward. The Railway Association of Canada is supportive of that plan to allow more passenger trains to carry more people from one destination to another that will stimulate the economy and create jobs. Obviously it’s a very green and safe form of transportation.

Senator Woo: I want to ask our colleagues, particularly in the Railway Association, to tell us about the current process of project assessment, particularly the clock stoppages. You alluded to the fact that every time a question has been asked, the clock stops. Is that correct? This is the current process that is very frustrating and can presumably lead to very long delays.

What is your understanding of the way in which questions posed under Bill C-69 would affect clock stoppages? Would they affect clock stoppages? And what is your understanding of the way in which the clock can be stopped under Bill C-69 and how that differs from the current process?

Ms. Heft: You are correct in saying that when there are information requests or requests for studies to be produced, the clock stops while the proponent is having those studies undertaken. I believe the intent with the bill is for the early planning phase to give the agency time to develop the tailored guidelines and the notice of assessment. Those will include a list of some of the information and studies that will be required.

After the notice of commencement and tailored guidelines, a period of time is given to the proponent and the clock stops while the proponent gathers that information and produces those studies. There is a three-year time limit for the proponent. But the clock is stopped in the meantime.

We appreciate the government’s intent to have —

Senator Woo: I’m sorry. Once the commencement begins, then there is that 300-day period. What do you mean the clock has stopped? The clock runs, doesn’t it?

Ms. Heft: Once the notice of commencement and the tailored guidelines establish what studies are going to be required, the clock stops until those studies are produced.

Senator Woo: The 300 days counts, still?

Ms. Heft: No.

Senator Woo: Okay.

Ms. Heft: The 300 days will start again once those studies and the information is provided. Thereafter, should the panel or the agency require more studies or information to be produced, they can make requests for those studies or information. Again, each time a request is made, the clock stops until the information and studies are produced.

Although I do believe the government’s intent is for the early planning phase to address some of those issues and require that information be requested early on in the process, there is still the opportunity for additional information requests.

Senator Woo: Are you supportive of an early planning process?

Ms. Heft: Yes, and we undertake an early planning process.

Senator Massicotte: Thank you for being with us today. I have a follow up to that discussion and process. I understand the way it works is, currently, given a lack of coordination among government departments. We have had people say to us that anybody from any department can ask a question without the government official knowing. Very often that causes delays. Often that comes late in the process, maybe from a new employee or whatever. All of a sudden you are being asked additional questions, for which you have to provide your time, and that causes significant delays.

My understanding is that Bill C-69 basically consolidates that. There will be one person who will coordinate and be the traffic cop for all questions coming to you and, therefore, I hope they get better organized in one department’s authority to represent all government departments, which would significantly reduce these last-minute questions and delays. Do you agree with that? Do you see that as being an improvement? Is that an issue being resolved by Bill C-69?

Ms. Heft: I believe the government’s intent is to try and streamline as much as possible but it hasn’t been limited in the bill per se.

Senator Massicotte: Mr. Brazeau and Mr. Buy, most of your concerns rightfully deal with concerns but not necessarily with facts. You are scared that the legislation or the rules could be interpreted to cause you these difficulties. That’s how I read most of your comments.

Have you had a discussion with government officials to say how did they respond to your issues? Are they saying don’t worry or are they saying it’s a big issue? Are they saying to wait until the regulations come out and I think the issue will be resolved? What was their response?

Mr. Brazeau: We have been engaged with the federal government on this since 2016 with the Environmental Assessment Review expert. We have submitted to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. We have put forward our concerns. As a result of that we have not seen any significant movement or change on the wording. That’s why we have some concerns: we feel we have expressed our concerns and we have put forward some recommendations. We have yet to see any concrete steps taken.

Senator Massicotte: You are in direct contact with them?

Mr. Brazeau: We’ve been in direct contact.

Senator Massicotte: When they do that and you ask why they are not responding to your concerns, what do they say? “We don’t agree with you? You are misunderstanding our issue?” What’s the bottom line?

Mr. Brazeau: We just have not seen any concrete actions as to why.

Senator Massicotte: Have they made verbal promises? Have they told you not to worry about it?

Mr. Brazeau: I think what we have been hearing is it’s a work in progress. There is consultation happening with various parties across the country. They are getting input. We are expecting that process is unfolding as they say it is but at the end of the day we feel this bill needs some amendments in order for it to be workable for us.

Mr. Buy: The premise of your question is that we are dealing with concerns and not facts. The fact is that we have received information from the department telling us that cable ferries would be included on the list of major work orders. That’s a fact.

Senator Massicotte: — repair of existing cables.

Mr. Buy: For repairs of existing cables, this is a fact. It is not a question or a hypothetical issue. We are concerned due to the fact that we’ve been told this. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here today, senator.

Senator Massicotte: Under the old legislation, it was not applicable. I noticed in your presentation that you don’t include Quebec.

Mr. Buy: There are very few cable ferries in Quebec, senator.

[Translation]

We also represent Quebec, without any problems. We did not receive the information to include it in the documents. We did not have any issues.

Senator Massicotte: Fine, thank you.

[English]

Senator Neufeld: Thank you for being here. Most of my questions have been responded to, but when did you find out that cable ferries would be included? Was it last November? Was that when the legislation was tabled?

Mr. Buy: I know we received that information in November of last year. We were in discussions with the department earlier last summer. We had an indication we would be included, but in November we received that information.

Senator Neufeld: That surprises me but it does lead me to believe that Bill C-69 is so intrusive on so many things that are not answered that it is a piece of legislation that is going to cause some real problems in Canada.

Do you think something like Bill C-69, as far-reaching as it is, should have a set of regulations with it so that folks like yourself could look at those regulations instead of someone in government saying smile and be happy?

Don’t worry. I’ll pat you on the back and I’ll take care of you later. What do you think — both the Railway Association and yourself?

Mr. Buy: We have been increasingly concerned about the tendency to have sweeping legislation presented and being told regulation will be coming and everything will be fine. I refer you to another debate that took place not too long ago in the Senate on the marijuana legislation. It was the same issue. We were told don’t worry for positions. Don’t worry. Be happy. We will deal with this. The fact is nothing has been done. We are concerned about what the regulation will look like and we are concerned about the impact of this on the future.

Senator Neufeld: Okay.

And the Railway Association?

Mr. Brazeau: The only thing I will add is we have been in contact with the Department of Environment for some time. We have only just started to engage with Transport Canada two weeks ago on regulation. Obviously, Railways and Transport Canada work hand in hand in operations and regulations affecting train operations. Specifically on this issue, however, we only started discussions with them two weeks ago.

Senator Neufeld: I would assume from that regulations are a while coming, if you just started discussions. Or do they have a set of regulations that they presented to you? We haven’t seen any regulations. We’ve been told the same thing: smile and be happy. Have you seen a set of regulations?

Ms. Heft: We have not seen a set of regulations from either Environment or Transport. However, Transport has put out a general policy. They have been consulting on the policy that would underpin the regulations.

One element of concern for us is bridges are caught as major works. As you can imagine, the New Westminster bridge over the Fraser River is different from a small railway bridge over a creek, for example. We are concerned that they are being categorized as bridges. The Department of Environment has been in greater consultation earlier on in the process with respect to regulations. We were a little surprised they were consulting on the regulations even before the bill was passed, but that’s a good sign of engagement. We don’t have policy decisions from them in terms of the project list.

Senator Neufeld: Thank you.

Senator Seidman: Thank you very much for the presentations. I want to go back for a little more specificity on the issues around the Navigable Waters Act that Senator Simons was discussing with you. A few weeks ago we had the Canadian Hydropower Association here with us. They said they see a fundamental risk to existing facilities because of the issues and the broad aspects of this legislation as you have discussed with us. They said that right now, the way the act is worded, undertaking any renovation, or any alteration or simple maintenance on an existing facility could trigger requirements for approval and this would be completely unworkable and stall operations. They went on to say that some of the definitions have to be narrowed. It’s not just the definition of navigable waters. They said the process for adding waters to the schedule have to be more rigorous, and the definition of “major works” has to be narrowed.

I would like to hear a bit from you about the issue and how we might approach the whole definition aspect of this legislation.

Mr. Buy: We share the concerns expressed by the associations, senator. They talked about their projects. For us it’s the replacement of cables. Cable ferries is an example that could be affected. We would like to see a tightening of definitions and potentially listing what would represent a major work order in the legislation. Giving broad powers to define what a major work order is on a regular basis creates some uncertainty and lacks transparency as well. We would prefer to have that transparency in the legislation. Let’s have good policy making and make sure we are transparent in what we are going to plan.

Mr. Brazeau: For example, there is a reference to the word “alterations” which would require full recognition of the new legislation. For us, how do you define alterations? As I mentioned, we do regular maintenance, regular repairs. We do it from a safety point of view. We do it to ensure that goods continue to flow to markets and continue to meet the demands of shippers. That example alone causes us concern as to how do you define “alterations.” We do regular maintenance all day, every day. Does that now qualify as an alteration? There needs to be a better understanding of the definitions around some of the terms.

Senator Seidman: I know that you gave us a fairly detailed submission. I haven’t seen a list of the problem definitions, for example, with regard to these issues other than navigable waters, which has been referred to many times. Is there a list anywhere?

Mr. Brazeau: We could be more granular in defining that. One of our takeaways could be making sure that we are more specific in terms of some of the terms.

The Chair: You can send that to the clerk of the committee.

Senator McCallum: Thank you for your presentations. I want to go back to the topic of maintenance. Most of the work that you do with the ferry and the railway is almost all maintenance of existing structures. When you look at existing structures, there would be few new unintended consequences, or they would be minimal or non-existent. Would you agree?

Mr. Brazeau: Maybe I’ll start. One of the things we are doing on an ongoing basis is adding more track, for example, sidings, where one train is coming in and one train is going in another direction so they can move to the side and the train can continue. That’s an important part of the growth of our network because we have growing demands for freight trains. We are adding sidings and double tracks in some major volume areas. It’s not just maintenance. It’s new build as well.

Coming back to another question that was asked, VIA Rail has a plan in place for high-frequency rail. That would require significant new infrastructure. This bill would affect some of those major projects.

Mr. Buy: Similarly, it could be the replacement of cables, adding other cables, or replacing a ferry that runs on fuel right now with a cable ferry. That would be adding a new cable ferry. So maintenance and new.

Senator McCallum: Okay. If you have new projects like that, you would have already had to have done an impact assessment when you initially went to build. It’s not like a new thing. The impact assessments wouldn’t change. They would remain the same unless it’s hydro, and that’s a different situation because you are building the ferry. Due to increasing water levels, the impact assessment would be done by hydro. I’m thinking of Manitoba and, in particular, South Indian Lake. I lived there for two years and that ferry is vital for people to get their groceries. Otherwise, it’s a fly-in community.

Mr. Buy: I agree with you, senator. In this case we would have completed the impact assessment. That process would not change.

Ms. Heft: With respect to railways — and this is with respect to any industry — we won’t really know how our new projects are going to be affected until we see the regulations.

It’s vitally important for the railway industry that projects that are within our existing footprint, which are mostly currently excluded from CEAA, continue to be excluded under the regulations. If we’re adding track on our existing footprint, for example, a second track within our right-of-way, that is not currently covered.

Again, that would be vitally important for us to maintain. We won’t know until we see the regulations. We don’t have a policy decision from the department on that yet.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: I may be playing devil’s advocate, but regarding the minister’s power, in clause 17, which would eliminate paragraph (b) and is a part of the suggestions made by the Railway Association of Canada, I understand the concern that the minister might abuse his power and make arbitrary choices. However, laws and courts often provide an opportunity to reject a submission that is considered frivolous, abusive or bound to fail. Given the millions of dollars these assessments cost and the delays involved, do you not think it advisable that the minister have the power to say, right from the outset, to not undertake a given project, because the project will never be accepted, and you would be wasting your time and money, and should change it? Do you not think it appropriate that the minister be able to do an evaluation, for financial purposes? This gives him the possibility of asking promoters to go back and do their homework.

Ms. Heft: I’d just like to say that Senator Mitchell pointed out that clause 17 had already been amended. The minister will say that his mind is made up and that certain effects are not acceptable. I understand that that is only an opinion and that the study could go on. The industry pays for all of the costs, the costs are not the issue. We will always pay the costs if we choose to continue the assessment. I think that is important, and I would add that forming an opinion before the assessment is complete continues to concern us.

Senator Carignan: It does?

Ms. Heft: Yes.

Senator Carignan: I’d like to go back to the Quebec City — Windsor corridor. Did you do a validation exercise for the Quebec City — Windsor project, including improvements to the rail network? How much longer would the assessment take? Did you compare the impact of the current law with the new one? What would the impact be on the timeframe and costs of specific projects? I’m using Quebec City — Windsor as an example, but it could be another major project.

Mr. Brazeau: We don’t have any specific figures. We did not compare the current act to the proposed new one. VIA Rail may have that information. I could check. VIA Rail has begun consultations. A commitment was made and a plan has been tabled. However, I cannot tell you if a specific study was done, or a comparison between the current law and the potential changes.

Senator Carignan: Aside from the Quebec City — Windsor project, do you know of any other projects for which an evaluation was done?

Mr. Brazeau: We did not do any specific evaluations but I can give you an example. We have been doing consultations on a project for four or five years. I can tell you that there is frustration on the part of our members regarding that project. This bill could extend what we are experiencing with this four or five-year delay.

Senator Mockler: I congratulate you for having taken the time to come and meet with us this morning and for bringing your concerns to our attention. You have allies throughout Canada who are increasingly vocal. According to what we know, seven premiers are very worried. I know that the Council of Atlantic Premiers is concerned about the railways and also about the ferries. I’d like to hear your opinion about the Atlantic, because as my colleague Senator MacDonald said so well: “Ferries in Atlantic Canada are very, very important”.

With regard to Bill C-69, I listened carefully to your reply to Senator LaBoucane-Benson’s question about the amendments. I think it is important for you to bring the amendments to our attention as quickly as possible so that we can apprise the government of your concerns and make the appropriate changes to this bill. That said, I am going to quote what the four Atlantic premiers said:

[English]

. . . Bill C-69 as it is currently drafted is that the significant changes being proposed to the scope and scale of federal, environmental assessments in Canada will not meet the dual objectives of environmental protection and economic growth.

[Translation]

I know that you referred to this briefly. Do you have anything to add to the comments of the four premiers on this topic?

Mr. Buy: Senator, I think that is entirely true. We don’t think this bill confers any additional protection. Another process is being added and it will not provide any more protection, but it will add more uncertainty. Your colleague, Senator Carignan, asked whether we had done a comparative time and cost study. It is the government that should have done impact assessments before introducing the bill, not the associations and private companies. It was up to the government to do that, and it was not done. This concerns us. If the government continues to tell us not to worry and that everything is going to be fine, it should explain that and prove it. However, the way in which all of this was done is worrisome.

Mr. Brazeau: I’d like to add that we are a national network, stretching from the West Coast to the East Coast, and whether we are talking about the concerns of premiers from the West or the East Coast, they are all taken into consideration. We need to make sure that the bill takes the concerns of governments and industries into account. We agree completely.

[English]

The Chair: Thank you for your presentations today on this very interesting and important conversation.

Senator Massicotte: Can I ask a question first? We talked a lot about regulation. Two weeks ago the committee agreed to send a letter to the minister. What was their response?

The Chair: Yes, we are waiting.

Senator Massicotte: They haven’t responded yet?

The Chair: No. It’s in process. We haven’t forgotten, though.

For the second portion of this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, we are continuing our study of Bill C-69.

We now welcome, from the Government of Manitoba, the Honourable Blaine Pedersen, M.P.P., Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade.

Minister, thank you for joining us. I invite you to proceed with your opening statement. We will proceed afterwards with questions and answers.

Hon. Blaine Pedersen, M.P.P., Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade, Government of Manitoba: Thank you, Senator Galvez, and good morning committee member senators.

My name, as was mentioned, is Blaine Pedersen. I am the Manitoba Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade. I thank you for the opportunity to present to your committee.

In its current form, Bill C-69 will have critical implications for Manitoba, strategic infrastructure investments including clean hydroelectricity, mining and flood protection projects are at risk of being delayed, becoming more expensive to realize or stopped all together.

Manitoba is very much concerned that in its current form, Bill C-69 will increase regulatory burdens, costs and timeline for project development without meaningfully improving environmental outcomes.

Our economic growth action plan prioritizes working with key sectors to foster growth, skills development, Indigenous and northern economic development and improving competitiveness.

As it is currently written, Bill C-69 does not strike the appropriate balance between environmental protection and economic growth. Therefore, it puts at risk further prosperity for Manitoba communities and families that our plan is positioned to support.

Since 1987, through The Environment Act, Manitoba has exercised its constitutional authority to assess environmental impacts and issue development permits. This process adheres to the four key principles: the public participation, meaningful Indigenous engagement, transparency and predictability.

These four principles are the key to a stable planning environment for project proponents, investors and regulators. Unfortunately this bill puts all four principles into question. It leads to uncertainty, and uncertainty leads to hesitance, hesitance to build, invest and grow.

Manitoba and our partners are committed to an environmentally responsible approach to growth. However, this bill does not provide the certainty and clarity that is required to attract investment. More work must be done to get the balance right.

Projects such as high-voltage electricity transmission lines, mining initiatives and major flood protection projects are key shared priorities for the governments of Manitoba and Canada. A clear and timely development process is needed to bring these projects to fruition.

I’ll concentrate on those three examples. Manitoba produces a surplus of clean hydroelectricity. We are the greenest and cleanest of all the provinces. However, transmission line investments are needed to supply energy to interprovincial and American markets. Addition hydroelectric generating capabilities may also be needed in the future, particularly if Canada wants to realize its goal of getting off of coal and meeting its Paris targets in 2030. Bill C-69, in its current form, will stop these critical investments.

The second initiative I speak of is the Governments of Canada and Manitoba are partnering to cost share $540 million in new flood management infrastructure for the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin outlet channels. The project consists of building two diversion channels, approximately 23 kilometres long, and also involves building a number of bridges, water control structures, a 24-kilovolt distribution line and adjusting surrounding infrastructure.

This project will significantly reduce the risk of health and safety issues and flood damage for communities, homes and livelihoods, particularly for the First Nations located around Lake St. Martin. The implications of Bill C-69 have already affected this joint project.

Third, mineral development is the second largest primary resource sector in Manitoba. In real 2007 dollars, the sector contributed approximately $2.7 billion to the provincial economy and employed approximately 5,700 workers in 2018. Bill C-69, as it is presented, puts this key sector at risk.

It is within the context of these three key drivers of growth, prosperity and flood protection for Manitobans that I would like to discuss with you our specific issues with Bill C-69. There are four main areas of concern regarding this bill.

Manitoba is concerned that details about the revised project list have not yet been made available to our provincial government or other stakeholders for study and analysis. The federal government has indicated that Bill C-69 will expand the scope of review and project types to be assessed, yet in the absence of a detailed project list, proponents do not have the information and clarity they need to make investment decisions.

To date, provincial officials have only been provided the draft project list during a short meeting of deputy ministers who are not allowed a thorough analysis of the draft project list. Manitoba recommends that provinces and territories be meaningfully engaged and have the opportunity to thoroughly review and provide feedback on the proposed project list prior to the legislation passing.

Second, Manitoba is concerned with the broad scope of ministerial designation. The authority to designate additional non-listed projects for review will, at best, create a lack of predictability and, at worst, could introduce the potential for political interference. Manitoba recommends that ministerial designation authority either be removed or that greater clarity about the parameters in which this authority could be invoked be written into the legislation.

Third, Manitoba is concerned with the new proposed planning phase, which includes a formal federal review and a federal engagement with Indigenous groups. This new stage will make the one project, one assessment objective a challenge to achieve.

Manitoba is supportive of good planning and recognizes that early engagement can reduce timelines and build public trust in the process. Our provincial system requires proponents to conduct their own planning and pre-engagement processes with stakeholders and impacted Indigenous communities. In our experience, this approach has been successful and allowed the flexibility to scale the level of formal engagement in accordance with specific project risks and community concerns.

Manitoba recommends that the need for a formal federal planning process with prescribed timelines be reconsidered. Federal consultation should be done in parallel with other proponent engagement activities and allow for the federal government to include proponent engagement documentation reviews towards meeting this requirement. This streamlines and better aligns provincial and federal processes and will be inclusive to all parties.

A final issue of concern for Manitoba is the lack of clarity about the role of Indigenous authorities in this process and how traditional knowledge will be incorporated. To be clear, guided by the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Manitoba has formalized its commitment to reconciliation through The Path to Reconciliation Act. Manitoba has a designated minister responsible for reconciliation, Minister Clarke.

Traditional knowledge is an important part of understanding the potential effects of a project. It is our position that more needs to be done to clarify for proponents how traditional knowledge is defined and how it will be reconciled with scientific evaluation in the event that they differ.

Bill C-69 alludes to expanding the definition of jurisdiction to provide Indigenous governing bodies powers to conduct assessment activities and how this will affect the goal of a one project, one assessment process.

On a related note, Manitoba requires clarity about the commitment in Bill C-69 to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP, and how this will be integrated into environmental assessment decision-making.

There is a lack of definition in free, prior and informed consent. In light of these factors, Manitoba recommends amending the legislation to clarify traditional knowledge requirements, Indigenous bodies’ involvement in assessments and how UNDRIP will be integrated into decision-making.

In summary, Bill C-69 represents a significant change to the federal environmental assessment system. In its current form, and without further clarification, it will contribute to an increasingly unpredictable investment climate, risking the ability to advance important Manitoba initiatives, such as mining projects, clean energy transmission lines, disaster mitigation projects and climate change adaptation work.

Manitoba is optimistic that through the clarification of key clauses in the legislation and a collaborative process that involves detailed, focused dialogue between Manitoba and Canada many of these concerns can be addressed prior to the legislation coming into force.

A clear, timely and predictable environmental assessment process will allow us to continue to build our economy while protecting our natural heritage for the benefit of future generations. Thank you for your time.

The Chair: Can I ask you if you’re going to submit to the committee a specific recommendation on an amendment?

Mr. Pedersen: We have some specifics.

The Chair: Will you transmit that to the clerk, please.

Mr. Pedersen: As I mentioned, there are four main priorities for us. The project list — the project list has not been identified. We need to be able to study that and have clarity going forward.

Ministerial designation. We want to see this either be limited, or if there is ministerial designation, make sure there is clarity about what the parameters will be. We’ve already seen this in terms of our Lake Manitoba channel. It’s been extensive there.

The planning phase, we’re looking for one project, one assessment. Everybody working together. Whether it’s municipalities who are involved in Indigenous communities, the province, the federal government, we need to be working together. We’re concerned that this bill does not do that.

Of course, traditional knowledge. We need to understand how traditional knowledge will be used in the assessment process, how Indigenous authorities will be involved in these assessments. We’re looking to clarify this free, prior and informed consent.

The Chair: Perfect. Thank you very much.

Senator MacDonald: Thank you, minister, for being here today. It’s interesting, the point you made about how green Manitoba is. I think if you ask most Canadians off the top of their head, their initial reaction would be Quebec or B.C. but, of course, Manitoba has a great hydro industry and is the greenest province.

In that light, the hydro industry has told us that Bill C-69 will impede companies from making urgent repairs to their infrastructure. We’ve raised those concerns with Transport Canada. They have assured us that Bill C-69 has provisions to deal with emergency situations adequately.

Does the Government of Manitoba agree with that assessment? If not, what recommendations would you make?

Mr. Pedersen: Thank you, senator. Again, and I heard it from the previous presenters, there needs to be clarity between emergency and ongoing maintenance. With hydro transmission we have substations which need upgrading. Is that regular maintenance? Or if they are expanding it because there’s an increased power load, does that fit under emergency, or does it need further environmental assessments?

Building transmission lines, when we’re upgrading. Our system within the province is quite old and we’re upgrading — particularly in the rural areas — hydro lines because of increased demand. Is that an emergency, or do we need an environmental assessment? Those are the questions that we continue to have that are not clear within what’s contained in the bill.

Senator MacDonald: That leads into my next question.

Bill C-69 empowers the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change to designate any project and also to prevent any designated project from moving forward.

Is the Government of Manitoba concerned that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change will intrude into Manitoba’s jurisdiction when it comes to the environment?

Mr. Pedersen: Thank you for the question. We’re already seeing that, even without Bill C-69. I’ll go back to our channel project we’re building out of Lake Manitoba through Lake St. Martin into Winnipeg.

We’ve already had the federal government coming back and saying you must consult with more Indigenous communities farther up the Nelson River. I’m not sure how clear you are on the geography of Manitoba, but the expanded scope, which also stops the clock from the CEAA review, there are communities that are now being included where this particular channel will have zero impact on them. We have a potential gold mine at Lynn Lake where the federal government came in and said — the proponent has been very active in reaching out and has good working relationships with the surrounding First Nation communities, but they’ve had to go well into Saskatchewan to consult with those communities. When they go, and the proponent did go, the community said: What difference does it make to us that you’re doing a gold mine in Lynn Lake?

We’re seeing that already. We’re concerned that Bill C-69 may empower the minister to do this even more. That affects costs. It doesn’t do anything for the environment and for the people who we want to make sure are not affected by these projects.

Senator Simons: Thank you, minister, for being here today. I’m really happy you are speaking about interprovincial power lines. This is something we need to be talking about more in Canada. I’m from Alberta. Some 10 years ago when the provincial government attempted to update our provincial high-voltage power lines, there was tremendous pushback from people because of, frankly, unfounded fears that high-voltage transmission lines are dangerous. I watched with horror, in some ways, as people frantically fought against these power lines. All the good science in the world that you could show them didn’t make any difference.

I suspect when we are talking about a linear project that is interprovincial, there is going to be even more pushback. It’s one of the things I have been concerned about in Bill C-69. I’m wondering what the experience has been in Manitoba. Has there been more acceptance of high-voltage transmission line there? What do you think the challenges might be under a Bill C-69 regime to getting a robust national transmission line infrastructure built?

Mr. Pedersen: Thank you, senator. For a moment, I thought maybe you were criticizing me for me being outspoken about our Bipole III, what we affectionately call the west side waistline in Manitoba. It’s not linear; it takes a circle around the province to get to its destination, but we were forced to complete it.

This is what we are concerned about. We have tremendous opportunity to sell power to Saskatchewan, Alberta, into northwest Ontario, to that ring of fire in northwestern Ontario and to Fort McMurray with the oil sands projects. We have surplus power right now, and we still have more capacity we could build if we were to actually use the power we are going to have.

With building a transmission line, all of a sudden now, we are looking at this bill: How does this affect our ability to build a linear line across Western Canada? On one hand, it should be well supported by all governments, because we are reducing greenhouse gases by using hydroelectricity. At the same time, we are going to face environmental challenges or questions not necessarily based on science.

It’s taking into account it affects communities for which a hydro line goes by. It’s the unknown of Bill C-69 — the sweeping powers that this bill may have, because we don’t know; we haven’t seen the project list. We don’t know what’s involved. It’s uncertainty. That’s from a government point of view, but from an industry point of view, when you have uncertainty, they will tend to back off and not invest. Government will be the same.

Senator Simons: Bill C-69 — you would think that because the list of factors includes whether this moves us closer to meeting Canada’s climate change targets that it would be a check mark in the plus column for high-voltage power lines, but I have seen firsthand the kind of hysteria that the prospect of putting those lines through a community can induce. I’m very concerned that such a kind of NIMBYism could be detrimental to creating Canada’s national power grid — well, I say that, but we have don’t have a national power grid — but to creating one.

Mr. Pedersen: To creating a national power grid. We are very conscious that there needs to be environmental reviews. There is no dispute there. We are not necessarily disputing the bill, but we just need more clarity in the bill.

Senator McCallum: Thank you for your presentation. I have quite a few concerns about what you have brought up, because the Hydro — First Nations relationship is not that good. There has been a lot of concern, because economic growth has overpowered environmental problems that hydro has brought forward. It’s due to the flooding of traditional lands and the inability to fish. I’m thinking of South Indian Lake. Then the building of that underground cable — and that was in the southeast area. They were concerned about it. With flood protection, the Treaty 2 area is concerned. They have put the concerns forward. It’s led by Mr. Nepinak.

My concern is if we don’t deal with that, the link with First Nations and economic growth seems to split. It hasn’t resolved itself. Looking at the Grand Rapids dam and the damage it did — and it’s still ongoing. I talked to people about that last week.

When you look at the definition of Indigenous knowledge — and you’re looking at free, prior and informed consent. It is not a veto. People have the right to say “no,” and they have the right to say “yes.” They have the right to say “yes” with qualifications. UNDRIP is there because, for so long, human rights, including the rights to security and liberty, have not been implemented for First Nations.

In Manitoba, we really haven’t had conversations in public between the government and First Nations, because there is a power imbalance. My concern is that because First Nations want economic development as well, it’s just that the conversation has never really happened. I’m sort of overwhelmed with all that you have said. I don’t know how to proceed from here.

Mr. Pedersen: Thank you, senator, for those comments. There is no doubt our historic relationship between First Nations in the north and Hydro has been less than stellar. We cannot change history. As a government, we are not going to try. We cannot go back. What we can do is move forward.

We have been very proactive. I mentioned Minister Clarke. Our government has been very proactive in working and building relationships with the First Nation communities across, particularly in the North, although they are across the province. We know as a government that if we are going to create wealth for the North, it has to include the North. We have a program called Look North, which includes people from the North deciding where the economic future of Manitoba should be. “For the North, by the North” is the byline we use.

There are a number of things we need. We recognize and we have been working with the federal government on this for economic — whether it’s a mine, a hydro project or tourism — pick your economic development issue — there needs to be capacity building within the communities. They just don’t have the tools to work with. That’s what we are trying to do.

Traditionally and historically, mining companies or Manitoba Hydro has come in, done the project, and the First Nations stand there and watch. That is not how we will now move forward. That is where our concerns — in this bill, we need to make sure that Indigenous communities are involved in the assessment so they have the knowledge to make decisions. Going back too long, they haven’t been involved in being able to make an informed decision, and that’s what our part is and the federal government, too, to help us with that. We have this mixed jurisdiction issue with First Nation communities.

Yes, historically, there have been challenges. We think, as the government of Manitoba, that we have made great steps in three years toward reconciliation and inclusion.

Senator McCallum: Can I make one request? When you said that the wealth generated has been shared, could you send to the committee how that wealth has been shared with First Nations?

Mr. Pedersen: Thank you. We are looking at projects. I can use an example of Red Sucker Lake. Yamana Gold is doing an exploration project for a gold mine. In that process they worked closely with the community of Red Sucker Lake before section 35 consultation started. Then we had section 35. Yamana Gold has an arrangement set up and an amount they are spending on exploration will be spent in the community.

As government, we don’t talk about jobs in Indigenous communities. We talk about careers. What we want is careers. We have had great conversations with the chief of Red Sucker Lake about doing a supply camp. Mines now do camps. They don’t build communities anymore. There is a terrific opportunity for this community to operate the supply camp and create a business. From there, the business will continue to flow. We look at capacity building, which is a huge key to Indigenous relations.

Senator McCallum: The request was from Hydro.

The Chair: We want to continue with shorter preambles and concise answers please.

Senator Woo: Thank you, minister, for being very clear with your four points. Let me get to the question of the early planning phase. Now I’m talking about projects that do squarely fall within Bill C-69. I know you are concerned about projects that may or may not belong. That is a big issue. I think everyone has heard it loud and clear. Surely there will be some projects that will fall within the ambit of CEAA 2012/Bill C-69.

To the extent that the project does belong to a proper, federally mandated impact assessment, what is your specific concern with the early planning phase? You seem to say you don’t like it but you do it anyway. I’m trying to understand why that doesn’t accord with your preference. We are talking about projects that do legitimately belong under federal jurisdiction. Weave in there your views on substitution, because this bill seems to provide a clearer path toward substitution whereby the province can, in fact, take charge of the assessment process.

Mr. Pedersen: The heart of it is we are concerned about the lack of clarity. If it falls under a CEAA review, that’s good, but we don’t have any assurance out of this bill that Indigenous communities and all levels of governments are involved or have input into what needs to be assessed under this particular project. What exactly are we doing? We want everyone working off the same page to make sure we have clarity for all groups involved.

Senator Woo: If a project clearly belongs on the list, there is no ambiguity about that. I understand that some projects you want to make sure are not on the list. That hopefully can be dealt with. If a project is clearly deemed to be eligible for review under the federal process, what is your opposition to the early planning process as a tool for expediting the review of the project? Would you not consider substitution as a way in which you can then replace the federal government in doing the review? We are not talking about the ambiguity of projects that may or may not belong under Bill C-69.

Mr. Pedersen: If I’m getting this right, in Manitoba, our proponents do outreach to the communities involved.

Senator Woo: Yes.

Mr. Pedersen: There is no assurance within this bill that will be recognized.

Senator Woo: — early planning.

Mr. Pedersen: There is no clear path as to what the federal government understands under Bill C-69 or will accept as early planning. That’s where we are at.

Senator Woo: Okay. Thank you very much.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you. I’m the sponsor of the bill. You said something that really impresses me, and that is you are not disputing the bill, but you just need more clarity in the bill, with emphasis on the first phrase.

I think there are prospects for clarifying. You are concerned about the minister’s power to designate. I’m not going to ask whether you have the power to designate in your province at a ministerial or political level. I would like to clarify whether you are aware that, under section 9(7), which gives the minister the power to designate — and there are other places in here — it’s very clear that there are limits to the minister’s ability to designate.

One, it has to be requested. Second, it says a project can’t be designated after the carrying out of the physical activity has substantially begun — so it’s not going to be a surprise after the fact that you started and put a lot of money in the ground — and after a federal authority has exercised a power or performed a duty or function. It’s not like this comes out of the blue. This is a very restricted ability to designate. In fact, as I pointed out, maybe you could clarify whether you’re aware, but of the 37 that have been requested since CEAA 2012, only three have been approved and two were requested by proponents. One was a mining company and the other was a port. I don’t think it’s a threat. Can you clarify how you think that is a threat to uncertainty?

Mr. Pedersen: Again, it is the uncertainty because the bill allows for ministerial authority to designate non-listed projects. I know there was discussion earlier about this project list that’s out there that we haven’t seen, or we hope that’s out there and that we hope we will see. When we get a project list — suddenly the minister has discretion under this bill to use ministerial authority to designate that which is not already on the list.

We just need more clarity about this. It’s about clarity and certainty. Business and First Nations cannot invest unless they have clarity. When does that ministerial discretion come into play? We need clarity as to when that will be. We can’t get halfway through a project and suddenly the minister — maybe that’s written in there. I haven’t read your bill. These are the concerns that we need clarity on.

Senator Mitchell: We could sit down and provide some of that. I think you’ll get more of that as we go.

Senator Massicotte: Could you also share that with us?

Senator Mitchell: You mentioned a big part of what you are concerned about is mining. You are aware, I’m sure, that the Mining Association of Canada is very supportive of this bill generally. Have you in contact and discussions with them?

Mr. Pedersen: Generally, they are in support but there are specific issues, and I used the Lynn Lake example. They can be generally in support but let’s talk about specific projects, and we are seeing the impact.

Senator Mitchell: The one thing they really like about this is that whereas one of the sectors that is probably under CEAA 2012 that continually gets duplication of efforts in reviews between federal and provincial levels is actually the mining industry. This will address directly that key concern in the estimation of the Mining Association of Canada.

Mr. Pedersen: The jury is out on that.

The Chair: The time has expired for that question.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Minister, thank you for being here with us this morning. My question is quite simple. Constitutionally speaking, the provinces have a shared jurisdiction with the federal government for the environment. Bill C-69 puts you on an equal footing with all the other bodies. There is no special status for the province, no recognition or particular process should the province want to make a decision or do an assessment. The federal government consultation process... People often say that we can consult an entity, and it seems that you are considered just like any other organization. Does that not disturb you? Don’t you think that the bill should include a special status or a specific mechanism for the province, so that you can do an environmental study, both on the substitution or other elements of the process, in the spirit of constitutional law and a co-operative relationship?

[English]

Mr. Pedersen: This is a concern to us. It’s the lack of clarity in the bill between provincial authorities, federal authorities, now we are bringing in Indigenous authorities. Not that we dispute it but we just need clarity. Within the bill as it’s presented, does not give us that.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Aside from the issue of clarity, do you not think that the provinces should have a specific, special status in the bill that would take into account the fact that you are speaking government to government, and not as an ordinary entity or organization?

[English]

Mr. Pedersen: This is why we want to be included. We don’t want to see the federal government coming in and imposing conditions upon a province, that the province does not see as part of this project. We need that provincial knowledge. We need the Indigenous knowledge. We need everyone to be working together. We don’t need someone coming in and telling us what is best for us. Yes, they may have another opinion and they may be very justified. But we want to be included. And we are concerned that this bill takes away that ability of the province to be able to express our opinion, and we’ll have opinions imposed on us that may not necessarily be valid.

Senator Neufeld: Thank you for being here. Did I misunderstand or hear you correctly when you said your deputy minister saw a draft project list? I thought in your earlier testimony you said that. Did I hear it right?

Mr. Pedersen: Our deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs, Mike Richards and Lezlee Dunn were invited to a closed door meeting with federal officials. They were sworn to secrecy before they walked into the meeting. They were given a short proposed draft list, the project list. They were not allowed to memorize, copy, or otherwise do anything with it. And then they were — don’t hold me to it, but I believe the meeting was very short.

Senator Neufeld: You wouldn’t know, if they were held to confidentiality, I can understand that to a degree. Would they have told you what was on the list?

Mr. Pedersen: No.

Senator Neufeld: They weren’t allowed to even do that?

Mr. Pedersen: No. They were sworn to secrecy to what they took in there.

Senator Neufeld: Is it any wonder that people would be concerned? If you have a draft project list, which I think they should have, it isn’t as if we just started developing projects in Canada. We have been doing it for hundreds of years.

I have one other question on public engagement. Public engagement until now has been more or less those who are affected in a large project. This bill opens it up to the world. Anyone can come in from any place and have standing. What’s your opinion about that? Do you think that’s proper or should we really be concerned about the people who are directly affected rather than what’s going on in the whole world where you could get all kinds of people coming in?

I have been through those processes. I want to know what your feeling is.

Mr. Pedersen: That’s why we don’t necessarily oppose the bill. We would like to see improvements to it. It’s about getting the scope of the project list for starters, and also the consultations that are required. We have no objection to legitimate concerns. However, if I may quote you, Senator Neufeld, when you open it up to the world, if it’s an economic project that the local communities are fully supportive of, but someone from across the world comes in and says no, you can’t do this. We have seen this now happen in the oil industry.

For instance, we have high grade nickel in Manitoba that is used in electric vehicles. And maybe another country will send someone in to oppose a project that’s going to extract where we want to extract nickel and yet we are working for an electric vehicle thing. We are concerned about that. It’s the lack of clarity within this bill that really drives our concerns and is the reason that I’m here today.

The Chair: I have a curiosity about this project list. I understand perfectly that for technical reasons and to assess the extent that will affect sectors, it is very important to know the list of projects. But one of the reasons that I have heard for keeping this secret is that this information can also be monetized, can represent advantage to the people who know this information beforehand. It can influence buying shares in mining or in petroleum. It will be revealed. Of course, it has to be revealed at a point. But when exactly in this period can some interests be put in conflict?

Mr. Pedersen: It’s about trust. If the federal government can’t trust our provincial officials to have a look at a project list, bring it back to our cabinet table where trust is the basis of it, I think we have a problem. Naturally the province of Manitoba is concerned about what is involved in here when we can’t even see it. We wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with keeping it confidential but surely to goodness between governments we can share this.

The Chair: Thank you. This is what I wanted to hear.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: Thank you for coming today. With your concern about the pre-planning phase, in our meetings with proponents, they were quite happy with the pre-planning phase. That was something that they thought was an improvement. In the actual bill it says that the federal government has to say who must you consult before you start. What are the issues that they have already designated that says this is what you have to look at. They have to post it on the Internet so it’s very public.

It kind of sets out the project so that a year and a half down the road it isn’t, “Oh, by the way, what about this or what about that.” This pre-planning phase, if done correctly — and I know if it’s not done correctly then it doesn’t work — could help move projects along quicker and the clock would stop less. They also said they already do it, and that what we’re doing here is codifying that which proponents already do. Some even told us that they thought they had the best practice, that they do it better than the federal government, which I thought was interesting.

What is your concern with that pre-planning phase? If we’re going to be getting into amendments quickly, and I’m hoping we do, how would that piece be amended to allay your fears with clarity?

Mr. Pedersen: I think what we’re looking for is some recognition. Right now, there is no recognition within the bill that proponent pre-planning is recognized. Different companies have different ideas. Some companies think they’ve done a great job and they really haven’t as compared to others.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: That’s fair.

Mr. Pedersen: Can the bill then somewhat specify what proponent pre-planning should look like? I know it’s different in every case. You can’t set rules for everything. Right now there is no recognition of pre-planning. Again, how does the pre-planning by a proponent fit in to provincial, federal, Indigenous assessments?

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: I think it says in here that there’s the conversation at the beginning. Maybe this is something we’re assuming would happen. The proponent, the province and the federal government would get together at the beginning and have that conversation. Nobody wants to see proponents doing work that’s not recognized and costs money, for no reason.

It seems to me that a robust pre-planning phase would make the impact assessment go faster and we could get to the project quicker. I hear your concerns and I thank you for that.

Mr. Pedersen: When it gets to the mining, you have your prospector, your exploration company and then finally your mining. With the prospector — although there is less and less, it’s more now aerial and electronic — before an exploration company can get a permit, they have to have buy-in from the community in their traditional area.

This is happening already. I don’t know that there’s recognition of that. How do we fit that in with provincial, federal and Indigenous environmental assessments?

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: If your folks have an amendment around that, send it to the clerk. We’d really like to see it.

Mr. Pedersen: We have a number of amendments that we will be sending to you.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Senator Massicotte: Thank you very much for being with us, minister.

As we all know, the demographics of Manitoba is such that it is extremely dependent upon a good integration of the Indigenous community whereby a significant future increase in the labour force will be in that sector. It’s extremely important there’s a strong working relationship and integration that is respectful and quick, as your province depends upon it.

Having said that, you also mentioned 262, the UNDRIP, which is an important aspirational, if you wish, reference point. You’ve specifically commented that you have questions relative to free, prior and informed consent.

I’m not saying that is right or wrong. I think it’s a good document, but you expressed concern with that. What is it that you would like to see relative to those words? Is there a definitional issue that you’re worried about? What’s your solution to make sure this is not an impediment to getting that document finally implemented?

Mr. Pedersen: When you get into science, it’s based on —

Senator Massicotte: I’m not talking about the language. I’m talking about free, prior and informed consent.

Mr. Pedersen: If I may, science is fairly clearly defined by data. Regarding free, prior and informed consent, it still remains unclear if UNDRIP will be integrated into the environmental assessment. If it is, what shape or form does that take? We don’t dispute that UNDRIP is there. In fact, we’ll embrace it. How does it fit into this entire environmental assessment?

Senator Massicotte: If 262 is fully applied — it’s a separate piece of legislation — that declaration says for anything affecting the Aboriginal community, you need free, prior and informed consent. I think it’s quite clear what it intends to do. I gather you would like some clarity as to what does that mean. What is it that you’d like to say?

Mr. Pedersen: Very simply, we would like clarity on how it will be applied in this bill.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Senator Massicotte: People have raised substitution, and Bill C-69 makes it easier to get to substitution. It works in B.C. but it probably took quite a bit of investment. Senator Neufeld shared his experience there. After much effort, they did develop a substitution agreement which works well today. Would Manitoba not do the same? Why not?

Mr. Pedersen: We are working toward that, but we still need clarity. Sorry if I sound like a broken record, but we still need to know how it will be applied within this bill. We know we have to work. We like to think of it as a positive thing. We have a young population in Manitoba, particularly in the Indigenous community, that has tremendous potential. We continue to work with them.

The Chair: Three last questions. I want to give the opportunity to colleagues who have been here from the beginning.

Senator Mockler: This is for clarity. I’d like to bring to your attention that you have some allies, minister. I’ve had the opportunity and honour to be at those tables for the Province of New Brunswick. There is a letter that is written by the Atlantic provinces. I’m going to read part of it, and I’d like to have your comment on it. The four Atlantic premiers wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, and it says in the letter:

Our assessment of Bill C-69 as it is currently drafted is that the significant changes being proposed to the scope and scale of federal environmental assessments in Canada will not meet the dual objectives of environmental protection and economic growth.

It goes on to say:

The Bill is also inconsistent with the joint management principles of the Atlantic Accord Acts and introduces considerable discretion into decision-making processes that would be predictable and science-based.

Do you have any comments on that, when we look at environmental protection and economic growth factors to be considered under Bill C-69?

Mr. Pedersen: Agreed.

Senator Mockler: Thank you.

Senator D. Black: My current count is there are eight provinces with deep concerns about Bill C-69. That’s why I’m so glad to see Manitoba here today and three territories. That only leaves British Columbia and Quebec, where I have some uncertainty where they stand.

I’m a senator from Alberta. There is conversation from time to time about the possibility of getting access for Canadian oil in Alberta through Churchill. How would Bill C-69 affect such an opportunity?

Mr. Pedersen: That would be for me to prejudge what the environmental assessment is, but I would think it would be very difficult.

Senator D. Black: Thank you very much.

Senator Pratte: Thank you, minister, for being here. You expressed some concern regarding what relationship Indigenous knowledge would have with scientific information, if both are in contradiction. I notice, in the factors to be considered in section 22, that scientific information is not mentioned, which in my view is a bit strange.

Have you given any thought to how, in the act, we could clarify this? It’s my impression that this would be on a case-by-case basis so that, if at one point we find on a specific project that scientific information is not in agreement with Indigenous knowledge, the panel or the agency will have to decide. I’m not sure how we can correct or clarify this in the act

Mr. Pedersen: If I may, with great care, I don’t agree with your statement that they’re at odds, traditional knowledge —-

Senator Pratte: I’m not saying they are. They could be.

Mr. Pedersen: In our experience in Manitoba, what we have found is working, is that — and again I’ll use a mining company as an example — we have our Island Lake area right now. There are four communities there working with a resource company and they are what they call the red dot areas. These are traditional areas. That’s a no-go zone. They’re mapping out those first because, regardless of what resources are there, this traditional knowledge will take precedence.

We are very conscious of traditional knowledge, and it is a factor because that’s why we do the section 35 consultations. But it begins long before that with the proponents working with the communities about traditional knowledge and areas.

Senator Pratte: What is your concern? You did express some concern as to how scientific information would be taken into account, considering the fact that Indigenous knowledge will be — and that’s a good thing, I don’t disagree with that — also taken into account?

Mr. Pedersen: We want to make sure that all factors are taken into consideration, taking into account traditional knowledge and scientific data. How do you define traditional knowledge? That’s the question. It could be used as a way to stop any potential production. Is there a definition of traditional knowledge? This is our concern with UNDRIP and how it’s applied.

I don’t know that can you write this into legislation because every community is different. If you write it into legislation, it’s there, but that’s not really working with the traditional knowledge of a community if there’s a law out there. Traditional knowledge is not a law. It’s handed down through generations.

Senator Pratte: Thank you

The Chair: I have a clarification that the word “traditional” has been removed. It’s now called “Indigenous knowledge.”

Guests, thank you very much for your interesting discussion.

Colleagues, don’t go away. We have the last panel of 30 minutes, and then we will have an in camera 30-minute meeting.

Welcome to the third portion of this meeting of Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. We continue our study on Bill C-69.

We now welcome from Petroleum Services Association of Canada, Mr. Gary G. Mar, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Duncan Au, Board Chairman.

I don’t have your name. Do you want to introduce yourself, please?

Elizabeth Aquin, Senior Vice-President, Petroleum Services Association of Canada: Elizabeth Aquin, Senior Vice-President, Petroleum Services Association of Canada.

The Chair: Perfect. Thank you very much for joining us. I invite you to proceed with your opening statements, after which we will go to a period of questions and answers.

Gary G. Mar, President and Chief Executive Officer, Petroleum Services Association of Canada: Good morning, senators. Thank you very much for the opportunity to provide input on this very critical issue to our industry.

Bill C-69, as written, will have serious negative impacts on the petroleum services sector.

The Petroleum Services Association of Canada, or PSAC, is a national trade association representing the service, supply and manufacturing sectors within the upstream petroleum industry. Our members provide innovation, technology and expertise to energy explorers and producers, also known as E&P companies, both here in Canada and internationally.

The oil and gas industry represent over 500,000 jobs across Canada. Those jobs, however, are dependent upon investment of capital. Unfortunately, we have seen a massive drop in capital investment of over 50 per cent from $81 billion in 2014 to just $41 billion in 2018.

The outcome has been, for our industry, devastating. Over 100,000 jobs have been lost, largely middle class. They have disappeared since 2015, including manufacturing jobs that work for PSAC members both in Ontario and in Quebec. It has impacted rotational workers from Atlantic Canada, and we are the largest employer of Indigenous people. It has affected them as well.

What began in late 2014 as a downturn due to low commodity prices, which is a situation outside of the control of a federal or a provincial government, there has been an escalation of a dramatic flight of capital in response to issues that are within the control of government, including competitiveness, regulatory uncertainty and the cumulative effect of a tanker moratorium, clean fuel standard, methane emissions reduction regulations, carbon taxes and, finally, Bill C-69.

Given that we cannot get infrastructure built or competitiveness issues resolved, the flight of capital continues and our forecast is grim. Bill C-69, as it stands, will only make things worse.

With investors looking for regulatory certainty and firm timelines that this bill in its current form fails to deliver, we will continue to sacrifice billions of dollars of economic prosperity and growth and jobs will continue their flight to other countries.

I’d like to turn our presentation over to Mr. Duncan Au, the chair of the board of PSAC and the president and CEO of CWC Energy Services Corp., a public company providing drilling rig, service rig and coil tubing services.

Duncan Au, Board Chairman, Petroleum Services Association of Canada: Thank you, Gary.

The impact of such an immense drop in capital investment in the energy industry has been devastating not only for workers but also for companies. Many have already gone into receivership while others are holding on by a thread. Out of the necessity to survive, many companies are seeking opportunities in other countries, where Canadian technology, expertise, equipment and people are highly valued and sought after and willing to pay a fair price.

Our company is an example. Since our inception in 2005, CWC has been a purely Canadian company. In 2014, we employed 619 people. By the end of 2015, we had reduced our workforce by 41 per cent, to 366 employees. As oil prices started recovering in the second half of 2016 and 2017, and thinking that the worst was behind us, CWC invested $37.5 million by acquiring one of our competitors and grew our workforce to 768 employees.

By 2018, though, activity had slowed significantly and CWC’s employee count dropped 25 per cent, to 580 employees. We cannot keep investing in Canada only to see our growth taken away or stalled due to government policies.

Sadly, many domestic and international energy companies have already exited Canada over the last five years. This is a tragic loss for Canada and Canadian jobs.

We must compete globally for capital investment. Therefore, we must remove uncertainty and other impediments to investment or we lose and other countries win.

Canada must decide if we want to produce our oil and gas or not. Such overarching public policy and political decisions should not be made through regulatory approval processes for individual projects. Accordingly, we recommend the following amendments to Bill C-69: one, remove the politicization of the process; two, reinstate criteria for intervener status; three, define success criteria for duty to consult; four, remove assessment of downstream GHG emissions; five, remove assessment of the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors; six, establish hard timelines; and, seven, include assessment of economic benefits.

Much is at stake for our industry and for all of Canada with this bill, including jobs, economic prosperity and growth. Accordingly, we urge you to use your power of sober, second thought to you impel the federal government to take the time to get this bill right for Canadians. Thank you very much

The Chair: We will go right to question period.

Senator MacDonald: Thank you, all of you, for being here this morning.

When we think of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, we normally think of the west. A lot of testimony has come to us from the Premier of Alberta, the official opposition in Alberta, the legislative assembly of Saskatchewan — all have a lot of trouble with this bill and have come out strongly against this bill. Initially, outside of the Prairies, there didn’t seem to be the same sort of immediate urgency across the country.

You have, of course, involvement right across the country with your organization. Are you finding that Canadians in the East Coast and in other parts of the country are becoming more aware of the problems with this bill? What sort of feedback are you getting from outside of the Prairies?

Mr. Mar: As PSAC, we have members that go from coast to coast. We have companies that are members from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador. A number of our companies also work with rotational workers. On any trip that you take from Calgary or Edmonton that comes through Toronto, or even Ottawa, you’ll find people going back to places like Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. They understand the importance of the energy sector to other parts of the country.

The other area that’s quite important is the manufacturing sector in Ontario and Quebec. Many companies rely upon the energy sector in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin that manufacture the pipe or the steel that comes out of Sault Ste. Marie. One of our members is Tenaris. A large portion of their revenue for their plant in Sault Ste. Marie is in operation because of the matériel they are producing for the oil and gas sector.

This is not strictly an Alberta or even a Western Canada issue. It is an issue that goes from coast to coast. We do hear from our members, and the people who are suppliers to our members, about how concerned they are about the issue of how healthy the oil and gas industry is.

Senator MacDonald: I think there’s a lack of appreciation, but it is growing; I know it. How many people, in places like Nova Scotia, are actually directly employed by the oil patch even though they live and operate out of Nova Scotia.

I saw the seven points you brought up, Mr. Au. The first one is to remove the politicization of the process. Could you elaborate on that a bit?

Mr. Au: As the bill, as we currently read it, would suggest that decision-making is in the hands of a minister of environment at the end of the bill. A lot of work done up to that point in time — billions of dollars, in fact, are being spent by certain energy companies to get to that point.

With the position that a minister would have, and their ability to hear from all Canadians as well as outsiders, we don’t feel it’s going to be necessarily an objective process. We feel it will be a subjective process after all the objectivity of experts that are done from a regulatory perspective is going to be put in there only to come up with perhaps a subjective decision at the end of the day.

That then begs the question, from a capital investment perspective, from day one, who is ever going to put a single dollar into a project, only to come out with an uncertain outcome that is based upon a politicized process?

Mr. Mar: If I may supplement that, one of the purposes of administrative law is to take political decisions out of the hands of politicians and place it in the hands of subject experts. That’s what we seek, namely, for subject experts to be able to move the process forward.

Government has the responsibility to establish the parameters by which a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal exercises its authority. The problem with politicizing the process is you will invariably have ministers, members of Parliament, people within certain areas, who will lobby the minister to exercise his or her jurisdiction in a certain way. The consequence will be that issues that may be in the national interest will take a secondary back seat to those of political interest.

From my perspective, if you don’t want the PMO, or ministers, or others exercising undue pressure upon an individual minister, then you shouldn’t do this. What we really want is projects that are in the national interest to be able to survive the individual aspirations of a member of Parliament or even a group of members of Parliament. That’s why the process must not be politicized.

Senator Simons: Mr. Mar, I remember when you were a politician. I remember when you were the Minister of the Environment in Alberta. I put “climate change” and “Gary Mar” into Google and came out with this quote:

There is no neutrality on the issue of climate change. There can be no spectators.

You said that, I think, a long time ago. You’ve been a Minister of the Environment. You know how vital it is that there be rigorous evaluation of the environmental impacts of any project.

If you think that the current legislation overpoliticizes the role of the minister, at what point should the accountable, democratically elected minister have a role to play in deciding which projects do and which don’t go ahead?

Mr. Mar: It’s a very important point that a minister of the Crown should be able to establish and advocate for the type of legislation that makes sense and is necessary for the discharge of the duties and responsibilities under the portfolio. That part is clear.

Whether I would want to have a ministerial jurisdiction or discretion to override a particular project purely on the purpose of the environment is not something I would offer or want. When I was Minister of Environment, we had really three different spheres of public policy: There was energy, environment and economic development. Those three spheres largely existed separately. Today, we appreciate and understand that, in a Venn diagram, we want to see overlap, because you cannot have any kind of economic development without access to affordable, reliable energy. You cannot develop any kind of energy, including renewables, without some impact on the environment. We seek harmony and a symbiotic relationship among and between these three public policy issues.

If you ask me if I stand by the statement I made in 1999, the answer is “yes.” It is important for a Minister of Environment to speak strongly on matters that relate to the environment. That does not mean I would want the authority, jurisdiction or discretion to stop a project based solely on looking at it through the lens of the environment.

Senator Neufeld: Thank you for being here today. It’s good to hear your presentation.

I want to ask a couple of things. You listed seven issues. One was “include the assessment of economic benefits,” which I totally agree with. I think you have actually touched on that very well. Of the other two things, one is “remove the assessment of downstream greenhouse gas emissions.” Maybe I have missed something, but could you help me a little bit where that is? Then, also, the “reinstate criteria” for the intervener status — I think I know what you mean, but I would like you to expand on it.

Mr. Mar: When we look at the environmental impact that is established under this legislation, we have to take into account how our users of the ultimate product that we produce — being fossil fuel energy — uses it. GHG emissions are counted as part of the environmental assessment. I think that’s preposterous. We wouldn’t ask Bombardier to account for how their planes are used in another country and to account for GHG emissions. We wouldn’t ask Ford Motor Company out of Oakville to do the same thing with the cars and trucks they produce.

We think it is an improper consideration for that to be considered in the environmental impact of this industry, singling it out from others.

With respect to intervener status, I haven’t had the advantage of being the sponsor of the bill. I haven’t read it nearly to the kind of detail that Senator Mitchell has. As I read it, I understand intervener status to be “y’all come;” anyone who wants in can say something about this particular bill. Allowing that will allow a whole host of people who are not actually directly affected by whatever project is being put forward to be able to have a say in this, some of them funded by foreign agencies and some who may have nothing to do at all with the project other than a purpose to delay it.

Such a privilege of who has intervener status should be restricted only to those Canadians who are actually impacted by the project. That will help speed up the process as opposed to having a lot of people saying something about a particular project that, frankly, wouldn’t be particularly probative.

The Chair: I will continue on this question, but before that, Mr. Au, you said there are billions of dollars that have been lost in investment over the last five years. That has nothing to do with Bill C-69; that has to do with the previous legislation. That’s just for clarification.

Concerning this intervener point, it’s interesting what you are saying. You are saying that for national projects, we shouldn’t be a stop. You are saying that people who are not affected come to a place to stop the project. But, for example, if something happens on the B.C. coast and affects Albertans because they can not bring their oil to shore, should we tell Albertans “don’t come because it’s a project that touches only the coast of B.C.”? I find a little bit of contradiction in this.

Mr. Mar: I understand your position. That’s not quite what I said. Canadians who have a real and demonstrable tie to the particular issue should be able to be an intervener. In the case of an Alberta company that is a producer of oil and gas, if there is a pipeline project in British Columbia, there is clearly a connection between the Alberta oil company and the ability to get that pipeline permitted.

It was me who actually said that from 2014 to 2018, there has been a dramatic reduction in the amount of investment in the sector. What the minister from Manitoba talked about, I think, is probative, because he talked about the uncertainty the Bill C-69 process creates. Nobody is going to be putting a billion dollars into a project not knowing what all of the circumstances are that will be relevant contained within this bill.

I would concede that much of the reduction in the amount of investment from 2014 to 2018 was, in part, because of issues outside of the control of government. We cannot control supply of oil out of Saudi Arabia. We cannot control slowing demand in China, but even our own Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the CPPIB, and Williams have formed a $3.8-billion shale gas venture. Even our own pension board recognizes that the regulatory uncertainty that exists with the current legislation and the proposed Bill C-69 is placing a chilling effect on investment in Canada. CPPIB is investing in the United States instead. The United States has never produced more oil in its history, and is now set to become the second and perhaps the first-largest exporter of oil in the world. They may overcome Saudi Arabia.

I can tell you from Duncan’s experience, from the private sector, a lot of the materiel, human capital, ingenuity and technology that has been developed in Canada is moving south of the border. They cannot see a pathway, currently, with Bill C-69 that would do anything that would change that exodus of human capital, high technology and money.

The Chair: We asked the previous witness if they have done a comparison between what happened with the previous legislation and this legislation. Have you done that exercise?

Mr. Mar: We have not.

The Chair: Thank you.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: Thank you very much for being here. For a little context, on February 8, I went to Drayton Valley and held a town hall with folks who I assume are your constituents. It was the day after the Big Horn Park protest, so they were up for a fight. I had an awesome conversation. It struck me when one of the people said he feels it’s hopeless. They had hope, but at this point, they are feeling quite hopeless. The reeve of Brazeau County said, “My depression has depression now.” There is still a great sense of humour in Alberta about things.

I want to let you know I understand the suffering of the people who supply, the businesses that flourished at one point and are now being closed down because there just doesn’t seem to be a path forward.

I was interested and I think it was number six of your list. You read them very fast and I don’t write that fast. I think number six was about the inclusion of the assessment of the economic factors being an important part of amendments that you need to see. When I look at the purpose statement of the Impact Assessment Act — and I think it’s been amended since the first draft — it says clearly that it’s to protect the components of the environment and the health, social, and economic conditions. That’s in B. And then in C it says, “both positive and adverse.” I think those statements have been added. But if they are not strong enough, how can this bill be further amended to ensure we are looking at the positive impact around economic benefit and the impacts on the environment? I note that — I don’t believe in CCEA 2012, the current bill, that it looks at economic factors at all. I think in the past it’s been only environmental impact. And this bill kind of broadens it out. What would you like to see, Mr. Au?

Mr. Au: If I may just address on the Drayton Valley operations, we actually have operations in Drayton Valley. What I will tell you is that in that community we are seeing a lot of theft right now. It has already affected us over the last several years. Just the other day we had somebody break into our yard to take a muffler off of our truck. A muffler.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: They are hurting in Alberta.

Mr. Au: They are hurting in Alberta. This is what I am trying to suggest to you right now with respect to capital flow and what is happening in what I believe is a made-in-Canada problem. Other jurisdictions around the world do not have this problem. They are flourishing with respect to their energy sector. Whether you wish to talk about why it is happening in Canada and not necessarily other jurisdictions, I fully believe that you have got to look at the capital flow and the capital investment. 2018 was the least amount of equity capital for our customers, being the E&P companies, less than $500 million of equity was raised. That is the lowest level in 25 years, dating back to 1993. 2019, zero. This is a worrying trend in Canada that investment capital whether it’s Canadian or foreign is not coming to the Canadian sector.

The issues you see beyond, in terms of anecdotal evidence of what is happening are people working in the energy sector — presumably people working in the energy sector are having to resort to things such as theft, and theft from companies they think are better off than them. This is an extremely concerning trend that has been happening over the last several years in the energy sector.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: We haven’t been well served by CCEA 2012. Now we have Bill C-69 in front of us, it’s our goal to improve this bill so that Albertans, we get back to being employed and feeling good and hopeful about the future. As far as amending this bill, how would you suggest that we ensure economic factors are clearly stated here in that assessment process?

Mr. Mar: Having been a legislator, as has Senators Neufeld, Mitchell, and Mockler, those of us who have been making legislation in the past know it is a very difficult thing to do. We have large bodies of people who work for us in a department of justice who will prepare the kinds of legislation that is needed. I guess from our perspective all we can say is that we are looking for that balance of those three areas: energy, environment, and economic development. That all three have to overlap at some point. And that there does need to be consideration of economic impacts. If we only look at it through the lens of the environment, the answer is that we are not going to get anything done.

Let me add further that it’s not just Bill C-69. In geology there is an expression called “accretion.” What “accretion” means is the buildup of layers of sediment. The accretion of legislation that has been very difficult for the oil and gas sector continues, whether it’s Bill C-48, whether it’s Bill C-69, whether it is issues that focus on GHG emissions and so on and so forth, carbon taxes. Any one of those issues could be dealt with by a responsible oil and gas sector. To have all of them accreting on one another without some attention being paid to the overall cumulative impact of all this legislation is something that we ask the Senate to consider in its deliberations over legislation.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We are running out of time.

Senator Massicotte: Thank you for being with us. I know things are really tough in Alberta. I have been an active player in Alberta for decades. I lived through ’81. I want to make it clear, because now we say it’s all Bill C-69’s fault. There is an article I thought was very good — Peter Tertzakian, March 6, 2019, Financial Post. You probably saw it. We are suffering lots but oil and gas financing in the United States is down 75 per cent also. There is a lot at play here. Therefore I don’t want to pick only on Bill C-69. The good news being, at least for you, I agree there is a need for changes in Bill C-69 to get us there. I just want to give a bit of perspective on it.

I agree with most of the things you are looking for. Our first meeting was when we met the deputy ministers. There was about five or six of them. Most of the issues you raised were actually discussed in that meeting — I understand CAPP will shortly be circulating those comments and there are further comments, what the minister said. One is intervener status. Legislation says everybody gets a chance to voice a concern. But the response they have when we raised that issue with the deputy minister, they said, “Now there are modern impact studies. If you look around the world, it’s pretty much standard that everybody has the right to make a comment. What’s critical though is how the agency can manage those comments.” In other words, it doesn’t mean everybody gets a meeting with the minister because you got to comment on it. It basically says they have the right to express. There has got to be some form of acknowledgment. But if you give the agency flexibility, which is their intent, and maybe we could add some words there to make it very clear they have the right to cause a process that works. But getting inundated with all these comments. I think we can get there with a little bit of clarity. Do you want to comment on that?

Mr. Mar: If that’s the purpose then that is the function of what legislators do already. Elected people do accept all manners of submissions to their offices, their constituency offices or their ministerial offices. If you want to formalize that, I think that’s probably fine. I don’t think there is any problem with allowing everybody to have a say, recognizing that some will have more to say that is important than others.

Senator Massicotte: The person receiving the comment can judge that. If it needs to be clarified to give that agency authority to organize it without having to cause a meeting — maybe there is a need for it there. But I think we can get there, pretty close.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you, Mr. Mar and Mr. Au and Ms. Aquin. I should just point out that Mr. Mar and I were in the Alberta legislature together for a decade or so. A long time but it was a good time. We were across the way but we are not on opposite sides of the table now because we both want to promote Alberta’s and Canada’s economy. I’d like to congratulate you on a very powerful feature of your presentations outlining just how difficult it is in Alberta and how important Alberta is to the economy and the very fabric of this nation. That was very well done.

I want to ask, Mr. Mar, you have made a point about depoliticalization, Mr. Au as well, and that you have got to get politicians out of the process. I’m just wondering if you look at the Responsible Energy Development Act, if you are asking the same thing in the Alberta case. It’s very clear in the Alberta case under section 54 that the minister may at any time refer a project to the Lieutenant Governor in Council so that the Lieutenant Governor in Council can make a decision. The Lieutenant Governor in Council, as you know, is the cabinet. Sounds to me like they are making political decisions about projects.

Mr. Mar: Seems to me that when you were leader of the opposition you didn’t like that either.

Senator Mitchell: Let’s go back and check that. I don’t know.

Mr. Mar: Let me say this, senator, with great respect: We have had conversations about this bill before. In our previous discussions, you talked about being able to fix the bill through regulations and doing a number of things through cabinet. I have a very specific recollection that, when you were leader of the opposition, you said the problem with doing it in cabinet is that you are taking it outside the public fora of the parliamentary process on the floor of the legislature and putting it behind closed doors in cabinet. We may argue about Alberta legislation, but that’s not really within the purview of this body. I would say what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If that is the case in the Alberta energy regulator, we would be opposed to that too. We are nonpartisan. That doesn’t mean we are not political. As a political body, we comment on these sorts of things. As a partisan issue, I’m not going to say it’s good or bad from the point of view of a government in place. We would advocate for the same thing: having an open process in the legislature rather than one that is behind a cabinet door.

Senator Mitchell: Are you aware that it’s very clear that what it will be behind the “cabinet door”? It will be very clearly defined, the elements upon which the cabinet has to make a decision. The cabinet will have to declare clearly why they made their decision and upon what basis. That will have to be publicly recorded. That certainly wasn’t the case in Alberta.

Let me go on to one other feature of that. Is it not the case, in your consideration — you are a politician; you were a minister — that there might be a time when you get a no answer from a review process done by technical people because that’s who they are, and maybe by people who were appointed by a previous government, might be the case in November, June or July of this year, where you might want to override that decision? And who would do that? Would you not be tempted as a former cabinet minister to see that that was done? Where else would it be done?

Mr. Mar: This is always the challenge and the temptation of being a minister of the Crown, to exercise discretion in the way that you want to see it done. The more proper way to do it, if you don’t like the legislation and the way that it’s being done, you should take it to a legislative body that can openly change the legislation.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Senator Mockler: I have had the honour to work with Mr. Mar in government. I know he has quite a remarkable credibility. I want to take the opportunity as a senator to say that because I guess it has been over 15 years since we have met.

Winston Churchhill once said that in making a decision we should always strive to be right and consistent, and if you have to choose between the two, choose to be right.

If that’s the case, I’d like you to go to the Atlantic premiers’ websites — we have four Atlantic premiers — and all of them have somewhat with the same concerns that you brought forward. You are asking for amendments. I will say, as Churchill would say, let’s try to be right with Bill C-69. If this is the case, I will read the following from a letter sent to the Prime Minister from the four Atlantic premiers, of which three are Liberals and one is Conservative, and I would like to have your comment:

Our assessment of Bill C-69 as it is currently drafted is that the significant changes being proposed to the scope and scale of federal environmental assessments in Canada will not meet the dual objectives of environmental protection and economic growth.

They go on to say in another paragraph:

A particular concern to be addressed is that the Bill as drafted places final decision-making power in the hands of the Minister or Governor in Council and provides the opportunity to veto the results of thorough scientific assessment and review of evidence.

Minister, when we talk about environmental protection and economic growth, what comments or suggestions would you have for the Atlantic premiers in order to help you put it right?

Mr. Mar: As drafted, in its current form, Bill C-69, I would agree completely with what the premiers have written.

Senator Patterson: Thank you for being here. You have recommended that the bill be amended to remove the assessment of the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors. I have just looked up the definition of “intersection.” It seems to be a geographical term. Cambridge English dictionary says it’s an occasion where two lines cross, or the place where this happens. The place where two or more roads join or cross each other. Oxford dictionary: a place where two or more roads, lines et cetera, meet or cross each other. And “identity” in the Oxford English Dictionary is the characteristics determining who or what a person or thing is.

I would like to ask you if you understand what the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors means, and why you would recommend it be removed. And by the way, I can’t understand what it means. I think it’s ripe for litigation risk. Could you tell us what you think it means and why would you recommend it be removed?

Ms. Aquin: Thank you. I think you have hit the nail on the head. Many people have no idea what that means, especially as it relates to, for example, a pipeline infrastructure project. The question that continues to come up is about clarity. What does that mean, and, in fact, are there criteria for that? Are there success factors? How does a company go about ensuring that it’s meeting that and knowing if it will meet those criteria?

The Chair: I just came back from Ecuador. We were talking about that kind of language. For some people, it is very clear. When they talk about what is happening here, for example, camps that arrive with 3,000 male workers disturb the social fabric. The government is already doing gender analysis for every legislation. I don’t know where it’s in the process of becoming something that everybody understands. We will have people who will come and explain that.

Senator McCallum: Thank you for your presentation. I wanted to go to the section on defining success criteria for the duty to consult. I find that very difficult to understand, especially when corporations have the history of working for such a long time, that your company would have already drafted some form of framework when you are working with Indigenous people. That framework would have to include an impact assessment, because the impact assessment and all the variables that come with it, including the increase in crime with a bust or boom, are included in the social determinants of health of resource extraction. When you look at that and what the resource extraction does to a community. In some communities, because of the influx of people, it overpowers the health system so that the people that live in the area are unable to access it.

The house prices go up, so for people who live there, it is actually made more difficult. The price of food increases.

It makes it more difficult for them because this group of temporary people are coming in and then leaving. Then they are left with crime as well.

If you have that impact assessment, that would have to be included when you look at the end result of your duty to consult, which would have to be consent or no consent.

Can you explain what you mean by the success criteria for duty to consult?

Mr. Mar: Thank you, senator. I think this is a really important question that a lot of companies have paid a great deal of attention to.

Let me start with this: It is in the economic interest of all Canadians that we lift our economic activity upwards. That lifts all boats in the water.

Seventeen and a half per cent of the exports of Canada are in the form of crude oil and bitumen. Nearly one out of every five dollars that we export from this country is in this form. We export 3.3 million barrels of oil a day, mostly from Alberta but from other parts of the country as well. Because of our infrastructure, we only have one market to take it to and that’s the United States.

Because we’ve only got one market, we get paid a discount on a barrel of oil. At the same time, because of our lack of infrastructure, the very same issue, we have to import 800,000 barrels of oil a day. We pay full price for it. That oil comes to us from places like the United States, Algeria, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. It comes in tankers that go down the St. Lawrence River.

We’re not pipeliners. We are upstream. I can think of two cases where enormous efforts were made to understand and appreciate the First Nations groups that were along the lines of these two pipelines. One is Trans Mountain. This is an existing pipeline that they are seeking to increase the capacity on.

Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan, probably spent the majority of his time meeting with Aboriginal peoples on the route of the pipeline, trying to understand how this would affect their particular communities and how best he could create a positive win for not only Kinder Morgan but also the First Nations groups along the pipeline.

A second example would be Coastal GasLink, which is a subsidiary of TransCanada pipeline, trying to move natural gas to the West Coast. Every single band along the route signed an agreement with Rick Gateman, President of Coastal GasLink. The people who are opposing it are not even a majority but a handful of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en band on the West Coast.

Our process has to be able to take into account all the factors you have identified. Companies are bending over backwards trying to understand what that means and trying to breathe life into that kind of aspirational outcome, but they are frustrated because they don’t know where the goal line is.

This is what we encourage the Senate to look at, because our sector is the largest employer of First Nations people across the country. There are a number of First Nations-owned businesses that benefit from the oil and gas sector.

We want them to succeed, we want our industry to succeed, and we need to deal with those issues within a bill like Bill C-69 so that both can win in the outcome.

The Chair: Thank you, guests, for this very interesting conversation. Our time has expired.

(The committee adjourned.)