Does the member see in Bill C-69 guarantees for procedural fairness?

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, it does not often happen in this place, which is a very partisan place, but as leader of the Green Party, I would like to pay tribute to the member for Edmonton Strathcona for her decades of work in the field of environmental law. She does not just stand here as a member of Parliament for her constituents, she is also very knowledgeable.

One of the things that worries me about the proposed legislation is that by making it an omnibus bill and by forcing it through, we will miss the once-in-a-generation chance we have to salvage something useable in the bill. Right now, it would take a lot of amendments and a lot of work to salvage it. I am speaking of the environmental assessment piece, not the other two pieces, because this is omnibus legislation.

We know that in the NEB review of Kinder Morgan, the excuse it used for depriving intervenors of their rights to fully engage and cross-examine witnesses was that there were time limits. I direct the member for Edmonton Strathcona to the fact that the time limits remained, but what was 365 days is now 300 days, and what was 720 days before a panel is now 600 days.

Given her expertise, does the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona see in the bill guarantees for procedural fairness?

Linda Duncan – Member for Edmonton Strathcona

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her comments. She certainly has been involved in environmental law almost as long as I have. I am just a little more grey.

However, absolutely, we do not see clear procedural fairness. We need only look to the part on public participation, and never before have I seen such a vague prescription of public rights. How the public can participate is totally up to the discretion of the impact panel, which is an ad hoc panel. Therefore, from hearing to hearing, it may vary.

Indeed, the time imposed on the hearing may be used as an excuse. Frankly, if the bill is going to prescribe the rights that the Liberals have promised, then it should be in the bill and it should be prescribed. Everyone who is potentially impacted by a project should have the right to be heard.