The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, announces a new federal energy regulator as part of the Government of Canada’s new Environmental Assessments and Regulatory Review
Good morning, everyone.
I want to acknowledge that we are meeting on the traditional territory of the Blackfoot and the people of the Treaty 7 region in southern Alberta.
As an Indigenous proverb said, “We do not inherit this land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
That perspective has inspired and informed our government’s vision for Canada in this clean growth century — a vision that includes a deeply competitive oil and gas industry and the enormous opportunity it represents to leverage the resources we have today to deliver clean energy solutions for tomorrow.
No one understands that better than Albertans.
In 2016, the oil and gas industry directly employed 190,000 Canadians, produced $75 billion in exports and accounted for almost five percent of our GDP.
It also generated billions of dollars in government revenues — revenues that pay for our hospitals and schools, bridges and safer roads, and for the social programs that make us who we are as Canadians. It is an industry that has helped lay the foundation of our lives today and that has contributed to the economy and livelihoods of Canadians across the country. The collective impacts are bigger than the individual projects.
That was also the motivation behind Generation Energy, which started out as a national discussion to imagine Canada’s energy future for our children’s children, and their children.
Something happened on the way to that future. Something remarkable, and even historic. Canadians started joining the conversation by the hundreds of thousands, and hundreds more descended on my home city of Winnipeg for a two-day Generation Energy forum last fall.
Suddenly, people who may never have spoken to each other before were in the same room — challenging each other, and themselves.
Years from now, Canadians may well look back and say Generation Energy was a turning point. That it marked our emergence as a global leader in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Our government is harnessing this sea of change by building it into a Canadian Energy Strategy, by working with the provinces and territories to expand what they have already done.
Until today, though, we’d been missing an important piece of this vision: an environmental and regulatory system that commands the confidence of all Canadians.
We knew this was a problem before we formed the government, which is why we quickly introduced a set of interim principles to get moving on projects already in the queue.
Projects such as the Trans Mountain Expansion and Line 3 Replacement pipelines were approved. Solid decisions based on good jobs, sound science and the national interest.
But our goal has always been a permanent fix.
That’s what today is about. We tabled legislation this morning outlining our new approach based on:
- Restoring public trust;
- Protecting our environment, fish and waterways;
- Recognizing the rights of Indigenous peoples;
- Collaborating with the provinces and territories; and
- Encouraging more investments in Canada’s natural resources sectors.
We are keeping our promise to Canadians. We are putting in place better rules to protect our environment and build a stronger economy. After 14 months of hearing from provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, companies, environmental groups and Canadians from across the country, we’re making real changes.
The previous government eroded public trust in environmental and regulatory processes, making it harder for projects to get approved. We are restoring that trust. A new wave of resource development is coming, with more than $500 billion in projects planned over the next 10 years.
These projects remind us that Canada was built on investment and innovation in the natural resources sectors, and that we have a chance to create good, sustainable jobs and new economic opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
The key is a modern environmental and regulatory system that is truly open and transparent — and our new approach delivers that, starting with two important changes.
First, we are establishing a new federal agency — the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada — to replace the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
This new agency would work in partnership with federal regulators to deliver a single, consistent and predictable assessment process for designated projects and coordinate upfront work and consultations with Indigenous peoples.
It will look at how a project could affect not just our environment, but also communities and health, the rights of Indigenous peoples, jobs and the economy over the long run.
And second, we are creating a new federal energy regulator to replace the National Energy Board.
The Canadian Energy Regulator will reflect Canada’s changing energy needs, with an expanded mandate to review traditional and renewable sources of energy. And for the first time, offshore renewable energy projects will be able to be built in federal waters. The opportunities are endless.
It would remain based here in Calgary and will have the required independence and the proper accountability to oversee a strong, safe and sustainable Canadian energy sector for the 21st Century.
The C-E-R will reduce timelines for its project reviews by managing them better and making sure there are fewer stops of the legislated clock.
For major new energy projects, it will work with the new Impact Assessment Agency to provide its own recommendations in a single, final report. For all other projects, it will retain its existing responsibility to review.
We know some people will disagree with the changes we’re making. That’s the nature of this world. Some will argue no changes are needed, and others will say more needs to be done.
Our legislation is for the Canada we have today, and for the Canada we want tomorrow: a country where good projects get built in a responsible, timely and transparent way, creating good jobs and a stronger middle class.
A Canada that rises to the challenges of our times by driving economic growth and building investment certainty while advancing Indigenous reconciliation.
A Canada that restores public confidence and combats climate change, creating the inclusive prosperity we all want while protecting the planet we all cherish. For generations to come. For our children, and our grandchildren, and those who follow. They deserve no less.