1000s of projects will bypass environmental reviews that were routine before 2012

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I have been looking for an opportunity to ask one of the Liberal members this question.

We have a very large elephant in the room here tonight. While we talk about whether this impact assessment will apply to how indigenous people participate or whether the energy regulators will get in the door, the reality is that it is a failure because it no longer applies to the thousands of projects across Canada that were routinely reviewed before 2012.

Between 1975 and 2012, anything under federal jurisdiction required a review. Harper changed that from 4,000 to 5,000 projects a year to fewer than 100. In this bill, restricting reviews to a project list means that the Conservative Harper approach guides this legislation and that we will never see it applied to more than big, major projects, ignoring the advice of the expert panel that reported to the government.

I am heartsick about it. I ask my hon. colleague if there is any chance that amendments can be accepted to allow the bill to do what it should do and apply to all federal jurisdictions.

Dan Ruimy Member for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge

Mr. Speaker, when I look at this situation, I ask myself, “How did we get to where we are?” It did not happen overnight. It is a cumulative effect that has gone on for generations and generations.

The connected waters are no longer connected, so where is our starting point? We have to have a starting point. For me, one of the starting points was the Fisheries Act. How do we strengthen our Fisheries Act? How do we strengthen fish habitat? These are the things that allow us to start to move forward. For me, the navigable waters act is one of those things that can at least help us start to move forward and turn back the clock.