Statement made on 23 April 2009 by Senator Robert Peterson (retired)
Hon. Robert W. Peterson:
Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise in support of Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Indian Oil and Gas Act. The Indian Oil and Gas Act is a legislative tool for the federal government to manage oil and gas activities for some 200 First Nations with current, or the potential for, oil and gas production. This act has remained virtually unchanged since 1974. As a result, it lacks the regulatory tools to effectively manage First Nation oil and gas resources; it has not kept pace with industry or technological changes; and it is not completely in sync with provincial oil and gas regulatory regimes.
These amendments represent 10 years of exhaustive consultation by the federal government working closely with stakeholders, provinces and advocates. First Nations see the amendments as a welcome first step in a process of continuous improvement of the management of their oil and gas resources. The oil and gas industry recognizes a need for a more modern and effective framework that provides greater legal certainty. Affected provinces have not raised any major concerns.
The key players involved in the negotiations of these amendments included, first, Indian Oil and Gas Canada, which is a special operating agency of the Government of Canada; second, the Indian Research Council, which is a First Nation organization that advocates on behalf of approximately 130 oil and gas producing or potentially producing First Nations; and, third, the oil and gas industry, some 200 companies of which are contract holders for oil and gas activities on reserves, including 20 oil and gas companies owned by First Nations.
Bill C-5 is an important step leading to both economic development and employment opportunities for oil and gas First Nations. It will allow First Nations with oil-producing lands to become players rather than just spectators.
Honourable senators, I urge your support for this bill.