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A lot of work was required to fix Bill C-69

Remarks on 3rd Reading Debate of Bill C-69

Impact Assessment Bill
Canadian Energy Regulator Bill
Navigation Protection Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading—Debate

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded by the Honourable Senator Black (Alberta), for the third reading of Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as amended.

Hon. Douglas Black: Honourable senators, I will endeavour to be brief again today, as I was yesterday. I stand here today, in respect of Bill C-69, filled with gratitude. I am grateful to so many folks, starting here in this chamber. We have to recognize that when Bill C-69 came to us approximately a year ago — let’s be gentle — it needed work, and this chamber has done the work that was required.

I also want to acknowledge folks from coast to coast to coast who have been involved in the process of making this bill workable. We have a bill today with the complete package of amendments, which hopefully we’ll be sending to the House of Commons later today, which will work — which will allow projects to be built, allow investment to return to Canada and allow Canadians to take the “closed for business” sign out of the window. However, I stress that when this bill comes back from the House of Commons, it needs to be the package of amendments that will allow those things to happen.

So our job is simple at this point. We need to send the bill, as amended, on to the house and wait for a response that I hope will be appropriate.

I want to indicate that we all know in this chamber, and we have come to learn in this chamber, that while I have taken a strong position on this bill for a number of months now, and while I’m fully cognizant that I have come off a number of people’s Christmas card lists, I have done nothing that you wouldn’t have done if your region, frankly, was under the attack that my province feels. However, we need to know that what we’ve done as a Senate reflects on Canada. We’re talking about 20 per cent of the GDP of Canada when we talk about the resource industry.

I am concerned about the offshore in Newfoundland, about electricity in Quebec and about the Ring of Fire in Ontario. I’m concerned about hydro in Manitoba, and obviously the industries in Alberta. I’m concerned about LNG and further hydro developments in British Columbia. Of course, we’re concerned about the huge prospect of the North in terms of mining and other opportunities, and hopefully we’ll be able to see action taken there during the term of the next Parliament.

This is what we’re talking about, senators, and this is what we, as a group, now understand we’re talking about. However, since we started our study of Bill C-69 a year ago, the outflow of companies and of investment has continued. I made a quick list while compiling my notes today.

Over the last year Encana, ATCO, Canadian Utilities, Statoil, Shell, PETRONAS, Imperial and Devon have either left the country or have dramatically scaled back their investments in the country. That’s not good for anybody. That is not good for Canada, for any region or for any Canadian, and that’s what this Senate has come to understand.

In conclusion, I want to draw to your attention two matters that have come to my attention today. There is an op-ed in the morning National Post that has been signed by eight organizations, many of which are now well known to you. They are very supportive of the work the Senate has done. They indicate: Is the new Bill C-69 perfect? By no means.

For industry, there remains increased risk in proposing major infrastructure projects. There is still a great deal of uncertainty about how these new agencies and processes will work. However, the Senate has done its job, and we believe these amendments, this package as amended, if approved, will ensure that projects can be built, jobs can be created and government revenues will be enhanced, while protecting the environment. That is what we have been working so hard to achieve over the last year — an understanding that we can balance the environment with projects.

Similarly, yesterday, a number of organizations, which I will read into the record, sent a letter to ministers — this letter has come to me, so I presume it has come to all senators — from the executive director of the Northwest Territories Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Quebec, the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, the BC Chamber of Commerce, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. I think that’s close to all the provinces.

They are similarly commending the Senate, and they are urging the Senate to send this bill, as amended, on to the House of Commons.

As important at this point, they’re urging the Government of Canada to support the work the Senate has done. We should be proud of the work that our committee and the Senate have done in developing the Senate’s amendments. I urge honourable senators to support Bill C-69 as amended, get it on, and hopefully — hopefully — it’s the last we’ll see of it.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

We have a bill today with the complete package of amendments, which hopefully we’ll be sending to the House of Commons later today, which will work — which will allow projects to be built, allow investment to return to Canada and allow Canadians to take the “closed for business” sign out of the window. However, I stress that when this bill comes back from the House of Commons, it needs to be the package of amendments that will allow those things to happen.