The Minister is unfamiliar with the contents of her own bill

On Thursday, March 1st, 2018 in Debate, Environmental Assessment, Parliament

Catherine McKenna – Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Madam Speaker, this is absolutely not an omnibus bill. This brings together four pieces of legislation that are interconnected. We cannot look at how we are going to protect our environment and our fisheries, make sure that we work in partnership with indigenous people, and also ensure that good projects go ahead without bringing coherence.

This is what is very clear in my mandate letter. It was discussed in our platform. It was clear in the interim principles that this was the approach, and when I heard from Canadians, that is what they wanted. They expected us to bring it all together and that is what we have done.

There were consultations over 14 months. We introduced the interim principles in January 2016. We have been at this for a long time. We had expert panel reports and parliamentary committees. We brought together all of this through a discussion paper. We did more consultations and now I am very pleased that it is going to go to the parliamentary committee and I will be there to answer any questions on the bill. We also need to hear from witnesses and we need to do clause-by-clause. This is exactly the way we are moving forward on this.

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, I must say I am astonished that the minister is so unfamiliar with the content of the bill she is attempting to rush through the House on this day. This is an omnibus bill, but it is not, as she claims, a bill that brings together four pieces of legislation. If she were aware, Bill C-68 is the Fisheries Act and it was not lumped together with Bill C-69, which is an omnibus bill and requires proper study. It is offensive. If it were good legislation, I might get behind rushing it through, but it is decidedly not good legislation and it must not be rushed. Bill C-68 is good legislation and the fisheries minister, lucky for him, does not have to wear the rest of this package of hybrid Harper-Liberal strategy that will make a mess of our environmental assessment.

Here is some gender analysis on this day that we are expecting a gender budget. For an omnibus bill including legislation that would normally be presented by the male Minister of Transport and another piece of legislation that would normally be presented by the male Minister of Natural Resources, why does she suppose they picked the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to wear the whole thing? They are eroding her political capital by having an omnibus bill where she is the only target.

Catherine McKenna

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be the one who is introducing this legislation. The environment and the economy go together. I am pleased that I am a strong woman in doing that. I am also pleased that we have a gender-based analysis so that, for any major project that goes ahead, we need to have a gender-based analysis. We said that is part of the approach our government is taking.

I am actually very excited today because we know that there is going to be a gender focus in the bill. Let us be clear that there is coherence. The major projects that impact on fish will also be captured by this. This is a really important piece of legislation.

I appreciate the member opposite’s commitment to the environment, understanding that we need to make progress on ensuring that good projects go ahead in a way that protects our waters, our environment, and our fish. It also ensures that we gain public trust and respect indigenous rights, and I certainly hope that the member will be actively engaged through the committee process.

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