An Act to amend the Canada—Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Sponsor

Status

In committee (House), as of Oct. 17, 2023

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Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canada–Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act to, among other things,
(a) change their titles to the Canada–Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation and Offshore Renewable Energy Management Act and the Canada–Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation and Offshore Renewable Energy Management Act , respectively;
(b) change the names of the Canada–Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board to the Canada–Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Energy Regulator and the Canada–Nova Scotia Offshore Energy Regulator, respectively (“the Regulators”);
(c) establish the Regulators as the regulating bodies for offshore renewable energy projects;
(d) establish a land tenure regime for the issuance of submerged land licences to carry out offshore renewable energy projects, as well as the revenues regime associated with those licences and projects;
(e) establish a ministerial decision-making process respecting the issuance of submerged land licences and the Regulators’ exercise of certain powers or performance of certain duties;
(f) expand the application of the safety and environmental protection regime and its enforcement powers to include offshore renewable energy projects;
(g) provide that the Governor in Council may make regulations to prohibit the commencement or continuation of petroleum resource or renewable energy activities, or the issuance of interests, in respect of any portion of the offshore area that is located in an area that has been or may be identified as an area for environmental or wildlife conservation or protection;
(h) authorize negotiations for the surrender of an interest, the cancellation of an interest if negotiations fail and the granting of compensation to an interest owner for the surrender or cancellation;
(i) establish the regulatory and liability regime for abandoned facilities relating to petroleum-related works or activities or offshore renewable energy projects;
(j) expand the application of the occupational health and safety regime to offshore renewable energy projects;
(k) allow the federal or provincial governments to unilaterally fund certain expenses incurred by the Regulators as a result of specific requests made by that government;
(l) allow new methods to demonstrate the existence of significant hydrocarbon accumulations in a geological feature and limit the duration of future significant discovery licences to 25 years;
(m) provide that the Governor in Council may make regulations to regulate access to offshore infrastructure, including to enforce tolls and tariffs;
(n) establish a new transboundary hydrocarbon management regime to regulate fields or pools that straddle domestic and international administrative boundaries, enabling the implementation of the Canada-France transboundary fields agreement;
(o) remove references to the former Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and, to align with the Impact Assessment Act , clarify the role of the Federal and Provincial Ministers and Regulators with respect to the conduct of impact assessments of designated projects as well as regional and strategic assessments; and
(p) specify that the Crown may rely on the Regulators for the purposes of consulting with the Indigenous peoples of Canada and that the Regulators may accommodate adverse impacts to existing Aboriginal and treaty rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 .
Finally, it makes consequential and terminological amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Oct. 17, 2023 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada—Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
Oct. 17, 2023 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada—Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (reasoned amendment)
Oct. 16, 2023 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada—Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:25 a.m.
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North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson LiberalMinister of Energy and Natural Resources

moved that Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to have the opportunity to commence debate on Bill C-49 to amend the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act.

I am here today to deliver on the Government of Canada's commitment to working in close collaboration with the governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and of Nova Scotia to establish firm foundations for a thriving offshore renewable energy sector in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador. This legislation is an important part of our country's future as we work to fight climate change by reducing carbon emissions and seizing the economic opportunities that can come from a transition to a low-carbon future.

Around the world, businesses large and small, and governments, are in a race to reduce carbon emissions and to seize the extraordinary economic opportunities associated with a low-carbon transition and, of course, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Global financial markets are playing a key role in this investment shift through their investment decisions. Successful businesses interpret and adapt to changes in the environment in which they operate. It is what their shareholders expect; it is what their employees depend upon.

The science of climate change is clear. The major cause of increasingly severe and frequent weather events and wildfires is, of course, climate change. Similarly, the science is clear about what must be done to avert the worst impacts of climate change. As a global community, we need to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and we need to make meaningful progress by 2030. We cannot get to net zero by 2050 if we begin our journey in 2040.

In 2019, Canada was one of the first countries to commit to achieving net zero by 2050, and we subsequently committed to meeting ambitious interim targets along the way.

That was just four years ago. Today, 80 countries are committed to achieving net zero. Progress has been made both here in Canada and around the world, but we all need to do more. Commitments are meaningless unless they are backed up by plans and actions. That is why Canada has developed one of the most detailed and, I would even say, one of the most comprehensive climate plans in the world.

Increasingly, governments are not the only ones taking action. Global financial markets are playing a crucial role in the transition to a low-carbon future through their investment decisions. The smart money, looking for long-term gains, is moving away from assets that will underperform in a low-carbon world.

Governments are certainly no different. To effectively serve their citizens, they must also respond to changing circumstances and then take decisive actions. The economic future of Canadians depends on our making the right choices to ensure that Canada will thrive in a low-carbon world. The good news is that Canada is very well positioned to take advantage of these opportunities. It is up to us as a country to make the smartest possible choices. Canada can choose to be a leader in this global economic shift or to let it pass us by. Going slowly and just hoping for the best is a choice, and a much riskier one; in fact, I believe it is a terrible gamble.

There are really two paths we can take. The first path accepts that climate change is a scientific reality that we can and must address. It understands that the world at large is moving in that direction, creating a shift in investment and innovation. The first path calls for a thoughtful plan for the future that acknowledges where the world is and must be headed and that seeks to take full advantage of the economic opportunities that are available through the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The second path starts with shrugging off the damage that climate change has already caused: the dramatic floods in our towns and cities, dried-up rivers, melting glaciers and the wildfires in our forests that folks here and across the country know very well. It pretends that climate concern is a fad that will fade and that we do not really need to do anything to keep our economy healthy for the long term. The second path presents, as I said, a terrible gamble that is effectively betting against the environmental imperatives that are all around us. It is one that would thus lead to both environmental and economic devastation.

This federal government has chosen the first path. There are five key things that we must prioritize if we are to seize the historic opportunities and go down this path. First is identifying and seizing key economic opportunities in every region of the country, which are made available via the global shift to a net-zero economy. These opportunities are in areas from critical minerals to batteries and EV manufacturing, from hydrogen to biofuels, and from small modular reactors to renewable sources of energy and a wide range of clean technologies. Second is a thoughtful approach to Canada's oil and gas sector and its resources, for which there will continue to be demand, albeit less demand, in a net-zero world. Third is building out a clean, reliable and affordable electricity grid. Fourth is advancing economic reconciliation with indigenous peoples. Finally, we must make more efficient and effective our regulatory and permitting processes.

Bill C-49 is about creating a clean electricity grid, seizing the economic opportunities of a low-carbon future and about the opportunities this entails for economic reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

As part of our broader plan, we need to build more clean power, certainly a lot more. While we are focused on deploying clean energy to reduce electricity-sector emissions, we must also expand the total amount of power on the grid. As we electrify much of the transportation and building sectors with electric vehicles, heat pumps and other technologies, we will need new clean power to meet this rising demand.

An abundant supply of clean energy is also at the core of accessing critical economic opportunities, like we have seen with Air Products in Alberta, Volkswagen in Ontario or Ford's new battery cathode facility in Bécancour. This all demands a decarbonized grid, but also a much larger grid. In fact, we will need to double, or increase by more, the size of our existing grid by 2050. Offshore wind offers opportunity for Atlantic Canada to not only feed the need for significant additional renewable energy for the electricity grid, but also would provide a major export opportunity associated with the production of zero-carbon hydrogen.

Bill C-49 is a critical piece of legislation to enable our offshore power potential to be realized, not only to meet federal climate targets, but also to achieve provincial power and economic plans. Last fall, Nova Scotia set an offshore wind target with a goal of providing seabed land leases of up to five gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, with the intention of using most of that power to support the production of hydrogen that will be used in Canada or exported. That is enough energy to power 3,750,000 homes.

Newfoundland and Labrador has high ambitions as well. During my last visit to St. John's for the Energy NL Conference, there was extensive interest from the private sector, workers and local levels of government in the opportunities presented by offshore renewables, including hydrogen production.

With regard to the hydrogen opportunity, it is an economic opportunity for Canada. It is also an opportunity to help our friends in Europe in their efforts to enhance energy security and to accelerate the move toward a low-carbon future. It is something that we discussed when Chancellor Scholz and Vice-Chancellor Habeck visited us last year, and it is something on which we continue to work actively with our friends in Germany.

Newfoundland's energy minister, Andrew Parsons, has said of Bill C-49 that he is “pleased that the federal government is moving forward legislative amendments to modernize the Accord Acts to enable new clean energy opportunities, grow the economy and protect the environment. This is consistent with [his] government's commitment to achieving net zero by 2050.”

Nova Scotia's ministers Halman and Rushton said that we need “modern, forward-looking solutions to achieve [climate goals].” They stated that “Amending the federal Accord Act is an important step so that we can safely and responsibly pursue renewable energy projects like offshore wind.”

Today, we are here to talk about a potential $1-trillion global industry, offshore wind. Canada must move rapidly to seize our share in this global economic opportunity. We know that we are in a race for investment, and that is why, in partnership with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, we have been working on this legislation while concurrently preparing for its implementation.

The proposed amendments to the accord acts are key factors in unlocking this potential. As we all know, the development of major projects requires a stable, predictable and credible legislative and regulatory framework, as well as oversight provided by a predictable and credible regulatory authority. We have both.

We have the accord acts, and we have the offshore regulators that are the result of enduring federal and provincial partnerships that have existed for more than three decades. The two historic Atlantic accords were signed in the mid-1980s, first between Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador, then between Canada and Nova Scotia. These are historic accords that laid the foundations for the current system of joint management of the offshore accords. Under these historic accords, both provinces became equal partners with Canada in managing offshore energy, with revenues going to the provinces.

They also established two autonomous boards that were tasked with regulating offshore oil and gas projects. Through this bill we would expand their mandate to include the regulation of offshore renewable energy. The boards are already well accustomed to interpreting offshore energy legislation and enforcing standards that each project will be expected to meet.

It is time to look to the future and move forward with these important amendments. The accord acts are informed by years of engagement and collaboration with our joint management partners, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

There are several things these amendments would do. First, they would modernize parts of the land tenure process for existing offshore activities to better align with the international best practices and keep pace with emerging technologies. Second, they would leverage the boards wealth of expertise and modernize the accord acts so that the boards can take on the important responsibility of regulating Nova Scotia's and Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore renewable energy projects, very much including wind projects. This would allow the boards to implement and administer the proposed legislative frameworks around offshore renewables and ensure that best practices around land rights management are adopted specifically around land use planning, bidding processes, issuing licences for seabed use and providing authorizations for the development of offshore renewable projects.

The amendments would ensure that the accord acts align with the Impact Assessment Act, ensuring that the roles and responsibilities of regulators and the Impact Assessment Agency are further clarified for all parties and stakeholders. Also, with regard to the government's duty to consult with indigenous peoples, the amendments specify that the government would be able to rely on the offshore energy boards to consult with indigenous peoples and make accommodations to mitigate any adverse impacts to treaty rights and aboriginal rights.

This legislation is a critical part of Canada's ongoing work in the fight against climate change and it aligns with the actions taken by some of our peer countries. Several countries have taken the step of creating or broadening the authorities of existing offshore energy regulators. This is true for the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway and Australia.

Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador are working to fight climate change and to seize the economic opportunities that can come from a transition to a low-carbon future. They are promoting the use of low-cost and low-carbon electric heat by the installation of heat pumps. They have joined with the Government of Canada on the Regional Energy and Resource Tables to ensure they are well placed to capitalize on economic opportunities, and they are initiating new, innovative, renewable energy projects. They are part of a push that is happening across the country to encourage renewable energy and clean fuels as well as create a thriving energy economy.

As I mentioned off the top, there is an alternative to our plan for the future. This is what I referred to earlier as the “second path”, which is one of hoping for the best. In my mind, this path ignores the very clear evidence as to how climate change is undermining the health and safety of people and of the planet. Burying one's head in the sand will lead to environmental devastation and economic stagnation as the world, very much including global investors, simply looks elsewhere.

Some in this country will try to tell us that one can fight climate change by simply relying on technology. I know that the Conservative leader is often fond of using the tag line “technology, not taxes”, by which he seems to imply that we can simply hope on technology to save us. However, I will tell members that is not a plan. That is a blind hope that comes from someone who has no background in technology, no background in energy and no background in climate issues.

I certainly am very well aware, given the time I spent in the technology industry, of the power of technology, but technology is not a climate plan nor is it a plan for the economy. A true plan requires thoughtful regulation, thoughtful investments and, yes, a price on carbon pollution.

This “hope for the best” approach will lead the Canadian economy down a path to obsolescence and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in Canada's energy sector. Such an approach would create uncertainty and dissuade investment from coming to Canada, which is, of course, the opposite of what we need. Simple tag lines in place of serious policy do not serve Canadians well, which is why we are here today with serious policy that would create good jobs, fight climate change and unlock the full economic potential of the offshore.

Certainly, passing Bill C-49 would allow Canada to compete with our peer countries to seize our share of a massive global market opportunity. On the other hand, opposition to this bill would hold back our potential, prevent job creation in Atlantic Canada and send the wrong message to Nova Scotians and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

It is incumbent upon us to ensure that we act in the best interests of the economic and environmental well-being of Atlantic Canadians by supporting Bill C-49. I sincerely hope that no one in this House will decide to go down the wrong path instead of working together to pass this legislation to bring our offshore into being.

In conclusion, all of these changes make sense. Offshore wind energy can and will contribute to this government's goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. It is a key part of decarbonizing the electricity sector and transitioning our economy towards electrical power, establishing our hydrogen sector and providing new, sustainable jobs in the offshore energy sector. I am confident that this bill is and will be a critical element and a key driver to achieving the future we all envision in this House, one that is sustainable, affordable and prosperous for all Canadians.

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:40 a.m.
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Bloc

Mario Simard Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a great liking for my colleague, the minister, and I hold him in high esteem.

However, when I read Bill C-49, there was something that jumped out at me, and that is the name change. It incorporates the concept of clean energy. However, a careful reading shows that this bill applies mainly to offshore oil drilling. I hardly think offshore oil drilling qualifies as clean energy.

I know that the minister criticized our Conservative colleague in the context of the devastating wildfires we went through this summer. We must listen to science. Sometimes, however, I get the impression that my colleagues in the Liberal Party are spinning the science and doing some greenwashing.

I would like the minister to explain to us how exactly this bill applies to clean energy.

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-49 does indeed focus on renewable energy. It will allow us to launch a new offshore wind industry and foster a strong economy in Nova Scotia as well as in Newfoundland and Labrador.

That is at the heart of this bill.

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Madam Speaker, obviously, Conservatives support expanded development of offshore petroleum resources and the development of innovative, green and new technology development. Conservatives have, for years, highlighted concerns around permitting timelines and gatekeeping roadblocks of uncertain conditions.

Could the minister clarify how many of the details around the scope, mandate and requirements of the additional responsibilities of the new boards and regulators will be clarified before this bill passes the Senate? How much of that will be left to regulations such as what was done in Bill C-69, creating the disaster that Canada now finds itself in?

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, there is actually a fair bit of detail in the bill. The hon. member will know the ways in which offshore accord acts work. They are actually jointly done and must be agreed upon.

There has to be mirror legislation introduced in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador. The bulk of it will be laid out in the bill. There will obviously be some in the legislation but that will be, of course, something that must be agreed upon between the provincial governments and the federal government.

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:40 a.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, we know that the clean energy tax credits of the Biden administration have created an explosive growth in clean energy opportunities, $110 billion in new projects. On offshore wind, the vineyard project will create energy for 400,000 homes; off Rhode Island, 250,000 homes, so it is a huge opportunity.

At the same time, we see the Danielle Smith government shutting down and walking away on $33 billion in opportunities. Atlantic Canada has a huge opportunity here, but the urgency here is getting the tax credits moved from promises to reality so that we do not lose opportunities stateside like poor Alberta is doing from Danielle Smith's actions.

I would like to ask the minister this. When does he see the clean energy tax credits coming into force so that we can take full advantage and compete with the United States?

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I am in agreement with the member that we certainly want to advance the final definition of the investment tax credits so that there is certainty with respect to investment. Right now we are waiting to see what that will be.

I would also say that it is really important that we have a regulatory structure that companies can rely upon. That is exactly what this bill is intending to do, to put in place that regulatory structure in collaboration with Newfoundland and Labrador and with Nova Scotia.

With respect to the investment tax credits, we are working on that very actively. As members would know, the Department of Finance leads on that, but we are working to have that done expeditiously. We all recognize the need to have that in place.

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:45 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-49 is welcome. The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board have long had embedded within the legislation aspects of the Atlantic accord that make it a duty of these offshore boards to increase offshore petroleum production. I do not see those sections being removed. It is certainly welcome to see a focus that allows the offshore petroleum boards to actually promote and regulate offshore wind energy production, which is truly green.

Meanwhile, we still see subsidies pouring into fossil fuels. We still see that the government is intent on completing a pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline, which we own, and it is a horror and a scandal to waste $31 billion on a project intended to produce more greenhouse gases out of the oil sands. We still are putting money into the proven failure of carbon capture and storage, which is yet another disguised subsidy to fossil fuels.

Would the government be open to amending Bill C-49 when it gets to committee to ensure that it takes away the embedded preference of petroleum over renewables?

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, as the hon. member will appreciate, the role of the House and committees is to discuss and to look to find ways to improve upon bills. It would be irresponsible for any minister to say that he or she is not willing to engage a conversation about how bills can be improved. However, the focus of this bill is on enabling the offshore renewable sector, and that is something we are very intent on moving forward on as expeditiously as is possible.

I would correct a couple of the things that the hon. member said. A few months ago, the government brought forward a framework for the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies. We are the first G7 country to do that. We are two years ahead of all the other countries with respect to their commitment. We have been very focused on that, as well as the international financing of fossil fuel projects.

With respect to the member's comments on carbon capture and sequestration, she is wrong. Many carbon capture and sequestration projects are in process of being developed or are already operating. It is a technology that is not that novel. It is scaling the technology and making it economic that is most important. I would suggest that perhaps she do a bit more homework on that.

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Marty Morantz Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Madam Speaker, it is nice to hear the minister endorse the idea of carbon capture and have that on the record.

I am wondering about liquefied natural gas. He did not mention it in his speech. Mr. Putin is largely funding his war on the back of selling natural gas in Europe. Canada is one of the largest producers of natural gas. Is his government now behind the idea of building liquefied natural gas terminals and supplying clean Canadian natural gas to the world?

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

No, Madam Speaker, this bill is about enabling offshore wind. It has nothing to do with liquid natural gas, but there certainly are opportunities for liquid natural gas. LNG Canada phase one will be coming on stream in 2025 and the Woodfibre project probably not that long afterward. There are a number of other projects, including some that have been approved, like Cedar LNG.

However, for liquid natural gas to make sense in the context of moving forward, it has to be done in a manner that is consistent with Canada's climate obligations and it has to be in a situation where it actually displaces heavier fossil fuels that are used in other countries. We have been working with the sector on that and we will continue working within the sector, but it is simply not appropriate to ignore our climate obligations. Canada has to meet its own climate targets and therefore it has to be done with that frame.

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, this is a historic day, the modernization of the Atlantic accords between Nova Scotia and the federal government, and Newfoundland and Labrador and the federal government, as we try to decarbonize our grids in the face of the increasing demand on electrification for home energy and transportation.

I wonder if the minister could comment briefly on the connection between the offshore accord modernization and the ability to decarbonize the Atlantic Canadian grid.

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, as the member knows, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick still rely significantly on coal, and there is a need to move away from coal. The Government of Nova Scotia has its own requirement to be off coal by 2030. One of the ways in which we can enable that is through the development of more renewables, and offshore wind offers the opportunity for large scale renewables to feed the grid.

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 10:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Madam Speaker, it is great to be back in the House of Commons on behalf of the people of Lakeland, and Canadians everywhere, who want life to be more affordable, and also want energy and food security, which is the most important economic and geopolitical question facing the free world.

Unfortunately, Bill C-49 is another step in a long line of Liberal laws and policies since 2015 that appears destined to drive investment out of Canada with more uncertainty, red tape and extended and costly timelines.

Hopefully, this time the Liberals will actually listen to cautions and analysis during debate and committee consideration to prevent the rather ridiculous current spectacle they are now caught in, claiming to want to reduce permitting and regulatory timelines even though they have been in government for eight years, and are actually talking about the extra red tape, confusion and potentially endless timelines they themselves imposed through Bill C-69, which Conservatives and then municipalities, indigenous leaders, private sector proponents, and all provinces and territories did warn about at the time. As always, the Liberals figured they knew best, and they sure did create a heck of a broken mess.

Ostensibly, the bill would amend the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board to become the regulators and add offshore renewables to their mandates, while creating a regulatory regime for offshore, wind and other renewable energy projects that currently exist for offshore petroleum operations.

It is a reasonable and necessary initiative, and Conservatives are glad to see the inclusion of the provincial governments as required partners in final decisions on this joint jurisdiction. I might note that is a principle the Liberals often abandon when it comes to other provincial governments with which they disagree. However, it is both unfortunately and unsurprisingly clear that Bill C-49 would also subject offshore renewable energy to the same web of uncertain regulations, long and costly timelines and political decision-making that has driven hundreds of billions of dollars in private sector energy investment, hundreds of businesses and hundreds of thousands of energy jobs out of Canada and into other jurisdictions around the world.

Bill C-49 also includes provisions that could impose a full shutdown and ban on offshore oil and gas development at any time. That is a direct attack on one of Newfoundland's key industries, risks undermining the rights of indigenous communities and local communities to meaningful consultation, and ignores the work and aspirations of other locally impacted communities and residents.

The Liberals have already threatened offshore activity in Newfoundland and Labrador with a minister saying that the decision on Baie du Nord was the most difficult one they had ever made. Baie du Nord would have provided more than 13,000 jobs overall; $97.6 billion in national GDP; $82 billion in provincial GDP, more than 8,900 jobs, $11 billion in taxes and $12.8 billion in royalty revenues for Newfoundland and Labrador; $7.2 billion in GDP and more than 2,200 jobs for Ontario; $2.6 billion and more than 900 jobs for Quebec; $3.1 billion in GDP and almost 700 jobs for Albertan. Like the usual pattern under the government, the private sector proponent has put that project on hold for three years because of uncertainty.

As written, the bill has many gaps. The Liberals must clarify, sooner than later, a number of practical implications.

For example, will the offshore boards need more resources for technical expertise or personnel, or more funding to fulfill the additional responsibilities? If so, who will pay for it? What is a realistic expectation of when the regulators would be fully ready for the work outside of their current scope? What about the responsibility for health and safety regulations for renewable energy projects at sea, which are currently the job of the respective offshore boards on offshore rigs and under the department of labour on land? These obligations should be clearly defined jurisdictionally in the bill.

What about environmental considerations relating to offshore renewable projects? The boards, the truth is, currently have no experience in activities around wind, tidal and other sea-based energies that may disrupt ecosystems and seaweed growth; harm sea birds, whales, fish stock, lobster stock; or interfere with organisms that live on the sea bed, like anemones, corals, crabs, sea urchins and sponges. What provisions are needed for the regulators to adequately assess risks to key habitat and vulnerable species?

I cannot imagine, nor would I ever suggest, that the NDP-Liberals will add upstream emission requirements as a condition for such approvals, like it did, along with downstream emissions, in a double standard deliberately designed to kill the west to east pipeline that could have created energy self-security and self-sufficiency for Canada, by refining and exporting western resources on the Atlantic Canadian coast for export. European allies and Ukrainians definitely would appreciate that. However, it would certainly be a significant hurdle if they did, given what is really involved in the manufacturing of steel and concrete for offshore renewable projects, which create a lot of hazardous waste on the back end, for example. If the Liberals actually cared about the cumulative impacts, like they always say they do, they would clarify all of that in this bill also.

The Liberals must account for these considerations. At this point, after eight years, Canadians should be skeptical if the government says that it will work out the details later or in regulations after the fact. That has alway been a disaster under those guys, no matter the issue.

On top of these unanswered questions, the reality is that the bill would triple the timeline for a final decision on alternative energy projects and would give political decision-makers the ability to extend that timeline potentially indefinitely.

If this all sounds familiar, a lack of details on crucial issues, uncertainty around roles, responsibilities or requirement, and timelines that actually have so many loopholes for interference that no concrete timelines really exist at all, that is because it is. This is what the Liberals did in Bill C-69, which the Conservatives warned would help prevent any major pipeline projects from being approved or even proposed in Canada since it passed in 2019. It has become a gatekeeping roadblock to private sector proponents in all areas of resource development and the pursuit of major projects in Canada.

The reality is that companies will not invest billions in building energy infrastructure in Canada's uncertain fiscal and regulatory framework, where excessive and duplicative red tape means there is no consistency or certainty in the assessment process, no clear rules or a path to completion, and no guaranteed return on investment, which can all be lost at the whim of a government minister's unilateral decision.

As much as the Liberals wish it were true, alternative energy projects are not in a separate magical category from oil and gas, where they are somehow immune from these basic economic and fiscal considerations, except for those publicly funded through subsidies or paid for by utility ratepayers, definitely a significant proportion of renewable and alternative energy to date, especially outside of Alberta, where it is done by the private sector primarily. The fiscal and regulatory framework is a crucial and definitive aspect of what private sector proponents politely call the “lack of a business case” every time a major project is halted or abandoned after years and millions of dollars of working toward it, usually moving their focus and tragically their money, jobs, innovation, initiative, creativity and expertise to other countries. The Liberals have already created these same adverse conditions for wind, solar and tidal as well.

Let us take the Pempa'q tidal energy project in the Bay of Fundy. It would have provided clean, green energy to Nova Scotia's electrical grid and could have generated up to 2,500 megawatts, while bringing in $100 million in investment and significantly reducing emissions. However, after repeated delays, a tide of Liberal red tape and “Five years of insurmountable regulatory challenges” the proponent withdrew, and it folded.

Sustainable Marine was not the only victim of multiple layers of red tape that involved departments. Other renewable projects, like a pulp mill that would have created biodegradable plastics from their waste stream, left Canada because the Liberals told the proponents that the approval phase under their gatekeepers would take 20 years.

The bottom line is that energy companies, like any company, need certainty to invest, whether in the oil sands, natural gas, critical minerals, pipelines, hydrogen, petrochemicals, wind or solar farms or hydroelectricity. Proponents need concrete timelines, consistent, well-defined and predictable regulatory measures. They need to be confident that a government will respect jurisdictional responsibilities, be willing to enforce the rule of law and take action if necessary for projects after approval so proponents can know that if they follow the rules, meet the conditions and act in good faith, they will be successful.

Companies and the regulators also need to account for possible risks posed to local activities, most notably the impacts of offshore wind development and other technologies on the livelihoods of Atlantic fishers and lobstermen.

In this case, all impacted parties need to be involved in the consultation process from the get-go. Unfortunately, the Liberal's Bill C-49 creates the opposite for both alternative energy sources and offshore oil and gas. When it comes to crafting anti-energy legislation, the Liberals, with their NDP power broking coalition, just cannot seem to help themselves. Sections 28 and 137 of this bill give the government the power, as I mentioned before, to completely end any current offshore drilling for oil and gas, as well as any offshore alternative energy development. Obviously, that is an immediate threat to the sector because of the uncertainty, even for existing operations, and it risks any future projects in these provinces by designating prohibited development areas.

Notably, the bill states that any activity may be suspended in those areas. That obviously includes offshore petroleum drilling and exploration, but the language could also include offshore wind and other alternative energy development. One thing that is predictable is this pattern because it is similar to a previous Liberal bill, Bill C-55, which allowed a government minister to unilaterally designate any marine area in Canada as a prohibited development zone.

The Liberals must answer whether their increasing targets and the language in Bill C-49 would cancel and/or prohibit both traditional and renewable energy projects if located in those areas. What are the restrictions? How could developers make investment decisions if the areas where they operate may suddenly be declared prohibited?

The Liberals are so comfortable with their nearly decade-long pattern of piling on layers of anti-energy, anti-development and anti-private sector laws, policies and taxes on Canada's key sectors that they hinder both traditional sources of energy, which they recklessly want to phase out prematurely, and stand in the way of the renewable and new technologies they purport to want.

This discussion cannot be removed from the context of Canada still operating, or rather more accurately not operating, under the rules and red tape the NDP-Liberal government imported into this bill.

Bill C-69 completely erased the concept of having any timelines for approving energy infrastructure, and instead allowed for limitless and indefinite extensions of regulatory timelines, as we warned. Unfortunately, this just creates a swath of potential maybes on project applications because of the potential for suspensions and delays, and the uncertainty about measures for applications and outcomes.

With Bill C-69, as many Canadians said at the time, the Liberals might as well have hung a sign in the window that said, “Canada is closed for business”. What is clear, and should be stunningly and frankly, through this total travesty, clear to all Canadians by now, is that clear timelines and requirements, as well as predictable rules and responsibilities, provide certainty for private sector proponents, which benefits the whole country.

After eight years of the NDP-Liberal government, Canada ranks 31st among peers in the burden of regulations, as of 2018, and is less than half as competitive as the OECD average in administrative burdens on energy project start-ups. Canada is second-last in the OECD for construction permits, only ahead of Slovakia, and 64th in the world for building permits.

The Liberals touted creating certainty and predictability for energy companies with clear rules and regulations to follow, but the actual bill created a massive new web of poorly defined criteria for companies and gave cabinet ministers the power to add any criteria to the list that they wanted at any time. There is no predictability or consistency. Bill C-49 is an extension of that pattern.

Another concerning part is the provisions that specify the regulators in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia as the parties responsible for indigenous consultation for offshore oil and gas and affordable energy projects. I must say that Conservatives believe in greater authority and autonomy for provinces to govern their own affairs. We want less Ottawa. Conservatives believe in smaller governments and a shift of power to individuals and local communities. The many indigenous communities where I am from, and those from across the country, who are reliant on and depend upon traditional and alternative energy development, all say the same thing.

However, I want to caution the NDP-Liberals that this section may invite court challenges if it is not clarified, which would create even more costly delays in an already drawn-out and unpredictable process. Through years of extensive legal challenges, precedent and judicial decisions on major energy infrastructure, courts have emphasized that it is the Crown's duty to consult indigenous people and that a failure on the part of the government to ensure a two-way dialogue, and that actual decision-makers are at the table during the consultation process, is what has overturned approval decisions.

That was the case with the Liberals' approval of the Trans Mountain expansion under their own process. Indigenous consultation was overturned and the minister had to spend months meeting with indigenous communities to redo it. Of course, they could have also done that with the northern gateway pipeline before that, and they would have saved everyone time and money later on with TMX. Instead, the Prime Minister vetoed northern gateway, blocking exports from the west coast to countries in Asia that desperately need our energy and killing all of the equity and mutual benefit agreements for the 31 indigenous communities along the pipeline that supported it, but I digress.

As currently drafted, this bill explicitly delegates the regulators as responsible for indigenous consultation. It is silent on the Crown's particular duty to consult, and it also shifts the power of final decision-making to federal and provincial government ministers.

On top of the fact that indigenous leaders often consider a federal minister specifically as the appropriate decision-maker to engage with them, if current or future governments rely too much or exclusively on the regulators for all assessments not captured by the Impact Assessment Act's consultation process, as is suggested in this bill, this section risks court challenges to proposed and approved projects in the long run and jeopardizes future offshore renewable and petroleum projects.

The impact of the uncertainty created by the Liberal government cannot be overstated. It takes Canada out of the global competition for energy development, punishing the best in class, and cedes market shares to dictators and regimes with far lower environmental and human rights standards. It costs Canada billions of dollars in investment and hundreds of thousands of jobs, and it robs Canadians and Canada's free and democratic allies of many irreplaceable opportunities, of energy security and of hope for the future.

I believe the impact on provinces such as Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia deserves special attention. Anyone who has worked in Alberta's oil patch has no doubt worked together with many Newfoundlanders and Nova Scotians. Certainly, that is where my own family came from.

My mother was from Newfoundland. My father was from Nova Scotia. My grandmother was the first female mayor of Dartmouth, and I am a first generation Albertan.

My own constituents have been hit hard by the hostile, divisive NDP-Liberal government. Other than the people of Saskatchewan, our neighbours who are often interchangeable citizens based on the free enterprise policies of our respective provincial governments at any given time, the people most concerned about the damage done to Alberta are consistently Atlantic Canadians.

I wish that more of our neighbours could hear directly from Atlantic Canadians, who are always effusive in their reverence for Alberta and our main industries. Atlantic Canadians share with Albertans a feeling of distance and neglect from Ottawa. They are concerned about the exact same consequences of NDP-Liberal policies, and the skyrocketing costs of living, as well as those of fuel and food prices. They are being forced to choose between heating and eating, and they are concerned about a reliance on energy sources, for which there are few affordable or immediate options. They are worried about how to make ends meet and are wanting to hope for the future.

Thousands of people from Atlantic Canada, every year, come to Alberta to support their families and communities through the array of diverse opportunities offered by Alberta's globally renowned energy and renewable energy sectors. Alberta has steady work and high-paying, quality jobs that contribute revenue to all three levels of government for the public services and programs that Canadians rely on.

That impact was unprecedented. In 2014, for example, nine out of every 10 full-time jobs created in Canada were created in Alberta, and every job in the oil sands creates two indirect and three induced jobs at home and in other regions and provinces.

While public enemy number one for the NDP-Liberal anti-energy and anti-private sector policies during the last eight years has been Alberta, the truth is that the costly coalition's approach hurts the whole country, especially Atlantic Canadians.

While Albertans and Atlantic Canadians are inextricably linked and have helped to build each other's provinces, there is always a human cost to having to move away for work. Generations of parents, grandparents and great-grandparents spent a hundred years working hard to build lives, businesses, farms and futures for their kids. Now their children and their grandchildren are being forced to seek out opportunities elsewhere.

Legacies left behind is the very real generational impact of anti-development and anti-resource policies. Conservatives, in conclusion, want to see the same opportunities. We want to see the same high-paying, quality jobs for people in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia as there are for those in Alberta and for every Canadian.

Conservatives want families to be able to stay together, parents to be able to see their kids, cousins to know each other and people to be able to build upon legacies secured by generations before them.

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2023 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Nickel Belt Ontario

Liberal

Marc Serré LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and to the Minister of Official Languages

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the work she's done on natural resources over the years, and I am looking forward to working with her more closely in the coming years.

The member talked at great length about other bills and other issues not related to Bill C-49. This bill is looking at creating jobs and attracting investment. That has been the federal government's approach. Could the member explain why both provincial premiers, Premier Furey and Premier Houston, are supporting this bill? Could the member explain if the Conservative Party will be supporting this bill, supporting the premiers, supporting investment and supporting jobs with Bill C-49?