Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 (Bill C-45)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for drawing attention to the seemingly inexplicable choices of what rivers are now covered by the Navigable Waters Protection Act, to be renamed the navigation protection act, and what ones are abandoned. Clearly, something in the order of 98% to 99% of all internal waterways in Canada are now to see a full-on retreat from federal constitutional authority. The provinces cannot step up to fill the void because of constitutional law; only the federal government is responsible for navigation on waterways in this country. Yet, members of the Conservative Party who speak in the House tell us not to worry, Canadian common law will still apply to protect navigation. That means if people want to protect their rights to use the waterways, they have to go to court.

What does the hon. member think of that?

Robert Chisholm: Mr. Speaker, what the government is proposing to do with respect to these important watercourses and waterways, I find appalling. I have had the opportunity to talk to a number of organizations. I was in Alberta this past weekend where I had the opportunity to talk to an organization that is concerned about the watershed it is responsible for. In particular, the Bow River will be covered under this particular act but the Oldman River will not, and the two are completely interconnected. People are asking themselves what the rationale is behind this and, more importantly, what the damage is going to be as a result of this legislation and the removal of oversight and protection.