I’d like to take the opportunity to address some misinformation that has been circulating about Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Act.
Bill C-38 will provide clear advantages for the Canadian economy. By streamlining regulatory reviews for major projects, we can, and will, maintain the same rigorous environmental protection that Canadians rightly expect. As Prime Minister Harper has stated: “When it comes to evaluating development plans, one should not confuse the length of the process with the rigour of the science.” In other words, more assessments do not equate to better assessments.
The proposed changes streamline regulatory process, eliminating duplication and overlap, and setting a specified, generous period — two years — for completing the necessary assessments. These changes will stimulate the economy and create jobs, two things the Conservative government has consistently done while other countries fail around us. Ask any of the 750,000 Canadians who have since July 2009 found jobs; they will tell you how important it is to continue this momentum.
This bill will also strengthen fisheries management in several ways.
The current Fisheries Act is indiscriminate and goes well beyond its conservation goals. It is time for an update and for us to focus our government’s efforts on what really matters to Canadians.
The new legislation will protect Canada’s fisheries and the habitat that supports them. This focus will make better use of departmental resources by aligning them to commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries. There will be no reduction in terms of DFO’s mandate to preserve and protect B.C. fisheries, especially coastal salmon fisheries and the spawning and nursery streams that support these fisheries.
Second, the current Act also treats all activities — from the largest industrial development to the smallest personal project on private land — in the same way. The new legislation will make a distinction between the size and scale of projects. We will create guidelines and standards in regulation to clarify for Canadians what can and can’t be done when working in and around water for smaller projects and maintain the full review process for larger projects.
In effect, instead of focusing on the carp living in ditches, the new law will protect migratory streams and lakes that are home to Canada’s fisheries and the areas that support those fisheries. We will also be able to provide enhanced protection to ecologically sensitive areas and enforce conditions associated with Fisheries Act authorizations which, at present, is not done. We’re cracking down on those that break the rules by aligning penalties with that of the tougher Environmental Enforcement Act.
Existing rules will continue to protect waterways from pollution, as they have in the past.
Our riding may sit far from Ottawa but Ottawa can be sure to hear articulate, passionate voices on behalf of what I call “the most beautiful place on earth.” As a proud British Columbian and MP for a spectacular riding, I continue to remind our government that conservationists — not just Conservatives — must be able to support our government’s policies. In my opinion, the BIA meets that test.
Member of Parliament
West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country