The amendments to Bill C-69, on environmental impact assessments, are despicable

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, words may fail me, and that rarely happens. This bill is despicable. The minister should be ashamed of the claim she makes on the floor of this House, the claim that she is supported by doing consultations, when she explicitly ignored the advice of the expert panel on environmental assessment. It clearly told the government that it has to review all the projects within federal jurisdiction, not keep the Harper architecture of just project review but look at all federal jurisdiction projects, and keep the regulators out of it; the regulatory boards have no role.   Worse, and no one has spoken to this, the government has accepted an amendment from the Senate that would allow chairing of the environmental assessment process by the very regulators that the minister’s $1-million expert panel told her to keep out of the process. The minister has weakened the bill by accepting that Senate amendment, and now we will not have time to disclose that to Canadians. This bill should die right now.

Hon. Catherine McKenna: Mr. Speaker, I am quite surprised to hear that the member opposite, who cares greatly about the environment, would like to go back to the system that was gutted under Stephen Harper, the system that did not protect the environment, the system that did not properly consult with indigenous peoples, the system that did not have the trust of Canadians. I share her passion for taking action to protect the environment. I share her concern that we properly consult with indigenous peoples. I also believe we need good projects to go ahead in a timely way, that we need to get it right and that we need to ensure the environment and the economy go together. We have seriously considered the recommendations. We are very pleased to see broad support among many groups, including environmentalists who were extremely concerned about the amendments being proposed by Conservative politicians. First nations support the bill because they understand that the gutted system under Stephen Harper did not work for the environment, did not work for the economy and did not work for Canadians.