Statement made on 01 February 2012 by Senator Nick Sibbeston
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston:
Honourable senators, my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate deals with regulatory reform.
The government has recently announced plans to reform the regulatory process in Canada. As you know, I have often advocated for changes to the regulatory process in the North. Projects are simply taking too much time and have become very costly. Industry needs certainty to succeed.
At the same time, Canadians want the environment to be protected and the integrity of the regulatory process maintained.
Changes can be made to make the system both more efficient and more effective. Efficiency means predictable timelines and no wasted efforts. Effectiveness means that projects with net social and economic benefits can proceed in an environmentally sound manner while dangerous ones are stopped.
The rights of Aboriginal people, whether confirmed by land claims or still under negotiations, as in British Columbia, must also be respected. Recently, various ministers have made provocative statements regarding the regulatory process, especially around the Northern Gateway pipeline. The Minister of the Environment has described his department as a strategic partner of business and talks about improving efficiency of the regulatory process. He does not mention effectiveness.
A paper prepared by government officials in international trade described First Nations as adversaries of the government when it comes to development, and more seriously called the National Energy Board an ally. Although those ministers have disavowed the contents of this paper, there is now a public perception that the government has taken sides and is endangering the integrity of the regulatory process.
What steps will the government take to ensure the reform of the regulatory process is transparent, inclusive of all stakeholders and leads to a regulatory system that is both efficient in supporting development and effective in protecting the environment?
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