Bill C-69 excludes advice from the expert panels on EA and the NEB

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, it is a habit of the Liberals, I have discovered, to reference the abundant consultation that has taken place as though that directed or influenced their decisions.

I consulted on this particular piece of legislation, which is three bills in one. Bill C-69 is an omnibus bill. I submitted every time a window opened for consultation, and I have looked at the submissions of others. Overwhelmingly, the government was told to repair the environmental assessment process and not to allow it to continue as it had been destroyed under Bill C-38 back in 2012.

In my question for the parliamentary secretary, I want to reference in particular the expert panel on environmental assessment, among many important pieces of advice received by the government. When it empanelled a group of experts and paid for them to travel the country and listen to people, I do not see how anyone could doubt that their recommendations should have had some influence. We have never even seen a report or a response from the minister to the expert panel report on EA, nor the expert panel report on the NEB, both of which one would think would have some reference in this omnibus bill, which deals with both.

Specifically to the parliamentary secretary, I would say that the expert panel on environmental assessment said clearly that whenever federal money was used, there should be a federal review. The expert panel on EA said there should be no role for the National Energy Board, the offshore petroleum boards, or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

However, the legislation before us today, Bill C-69, does not include a trigger when federal money is used. Although it pretends to have one agency, the impact assessment agency, whenever projects fall under the jurisdiction, for regulatory purposes, of what used to be the National Energy Board, the offshore petroleum boards, or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, members of the panel must be selected from those agencies, which hardly takes them out of the process.

Jonathan Wilkinson – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the intervention by the hon. member, but she is just plain wrong.

The recommendations of the expert panel were actually responded to in a very fulsome way in the context of the legislation that was brought through. If the member reads through the recommendations of the expert panel, she would find that to be true.

Obviously, whenever there are expert panels, not everything is accepted. Many of the recommendations were taken out for further consultation. The vast majority of them actually were, in the end, incorporated into the legislation. Some elements were not, and there are obviously very specific reasons for that. If the hon. member wants to sit down and review those, that can certainly be arranged.

This is an enormous step forward, and most, virtually all, of the stakeholders we have talked to over the course of this would say that this is in fact the case.