Pacific NorthWest LNG approved, now what?
Project raises serious questions about how Ottawa plans to deal with GHG emissions and First Nations
This week on The House, we dig into the serious questions the conditional approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project raises about how Ottawa plans to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and First Nations in the future.
British Columbia premier Christy Clark, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde join us to weigh in.
- Federal government approves liquefied natural gas project on B.C. coast with 190 conditions
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Climate change and heath negotiations coming
Christy Clark was all smiles on stage as the federal government announced its conditional approval the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia Tuesday.
But that facial expression might change heading into the health care accord negotiations.
Clark said the Liberal government's pledge to maintain the health care spending escalator unilaterally set by the former Harper government is unacceptable.
"It's urgent that we sort this problem out. Nobody is really interested in the targets that Stephen Harper set for the increase," she said in an interview with host Chris Hall for CBC Radio's The House.
Health Minister Jane Philpott said Thursday that Harper's plan would be implemented next year when the funding escalator for the Canada health transfer is legislated to take effect. Funding increases will either match the rate of GDP growth or three per cent a year — whichever is greater — and end to the six per cent annual escalator implemented under the last Liberal government.
Clark said the federal government has abdicated its role as a true financial partner in the delivery of care.
"My goodness, health care really needs an injection of funds from the federal government. In some provinces, they fund less than 20 per cent of the cost of health care and the rest falls on provincial taxpayers. It's a long way from the original promise that national medicare came with from the federal government," she said.
Vancouver MP says every pipeline project different
Jonathan Wilkinson, parliamentary secretary to the minister of environment and climate change, told The House the approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project doesn't necessarily mean other pipelines will get built.
"This has no bearings on the Kinder Morgan process," said Wilkinson, who represents North Vancouver. "Each progress needs to be taken individually and assessed individually."
A cabinet ruling is expected in December about Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain project. The company wants to add a second pipeline alongside the original that was built in 1953 to carry oil from Edmonton to Burnaby. If approved, the twin lines would carry nearly 900,000 barrels of crude a day starting in 2018.
Elizabeth May raises concerns with environmental review
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she's worried about the "contamination" of the regulatory systems the government uses to approve high-profile energy projects, including this week's conditional approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project.
"We have a system of rubber stamping bad projects while giving the minister talking points that say it's gone through a rigorous scientific review," May told The House.
I just don't want to rubber stamp dangerous projects where the colour of the ink has changed and that's the only thing that's happened after the election.- Green Party leader Elizabeth May
On Tuesday Catherine McKenna said the review of the liquefied natural gas project was "rigorous," and based on both the "best available science and on Indigenous traditional knowledge."
"I greatly fear the culture of the previous 10 years remains deeply embedded throughout the regulatory regimes," said May.
"I just don't want to rubber stamp dangerous projects where the colour of the ink has changed and that's the only thing that's happened after the election."
Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde says frustrations with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are mounting in some Indigenous communities after the approval of the controversial Pacific NorthWest LNG and the lagging delivery of funds --- potentially putting a crack in what the prime minister has called Canada's "most important" relationship.
"Patience is running out in our First Nations communities because what I'm hearing across Canada from the chiefs [is], 'Perry, Chief Bellegarde, Yes thank you for lobbying to get that $8.4 million... but we don't see it in our communities yet," he told The House.
In the early days of his term, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laid out his plans to reset Canada's "most important" relationship with Indigenous people.
Bellegarde says Trudeau has made progress on the five promises he made to First Nations chiefs back in December, but said the government still needs to work on repealing legislation imposed on Indigenous people by the previous government.
"We have lots of work to do. He came out last year and made some strong statement. We have to keep pushing," he said. "We've always got to keep having that hope. When was the last time we've had $8.4 million invested in First Nations people, that''s another issue of getting out to our communities, but that's unheard of, that's unprecedented."
Elections Canada's retiring chief electoral officer says the way Canadians vote needs to be modernized, no matter what system emerges from the current electoral reform process.
"I think we need to increase our reliance on technology. Our system is entirely paper based, it's entirely manual, it's very rigid and it's not scalable in the sense it cannot be adapted quickly shift for voting patterns or attendance," Marc Mayrand told The House.
The Liberals promised to ditch the first-past-the-post system in time for the 2019 election, which will be an adjustment for voters. In a report tabled Wednesday, Mayrand recommends Canada move to a bar code system so voters can easily scan to register on election day.
"I think it would be more imperative to adopt [my recommendations] if we move to a new voting system. The modernization is essential whatever we do in respect to the whole system ," Mayrand said.
Mayrand will step down in December, leaving the implementation of a new voting system up to his successor.
He said one the biggest challenges he faced during his decade-long term was realizing how difficult voting is for some people.
"I think the Canadian with a disability still faces a significant challenge to participate in the democratic process, both as simple voters and candidates," he said.
In House Panel: Terry signs off
After nearly 40 years reporting, CBC reporter and The House regular Terry Milewski is signing off.
Milewski joined fellow political panelist Rosemary Barton, host of Power & Politics, to talk about the ramifications of the LNG project and health accord talks, but also about the end of an era.
"Not only his moustache, but his whole style of being was imprinted on me," said Barton, about watching Milewski growing up.
"It's part of what makes me courageous enough to ask the tough questions."
While he will no longer be a daily fixture in the CBC office, Milewski will be back to guest host on Power & Politics and The House.