As TransCanada files its application for the Energy East pipeline, New Democrats are reiterating the vital importance of a fair, rigorous and open project review process.
“Canadians want energy security and the jobs this sector supports, and our communities need to know that the environment is being protected and that the highest possible safety measures are in place when transporting oil,” said NDP Energy Critic Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain). “Energy East is a significant project that will span six provinces – it’s going to require an extremely thorough review that takes into account the full environmental, social and economic impact of the proposal.”
Charlton noted that the Conservatives have seriously eroded public trust in federal pipeline review processes by significantly weakening environmental rules and limiting public consultation. New Democrats strongly opposed those actions.
“We’ve been clear that we think processing Western Canadian oil in eastern Canada makes economic sense, if it’s done with the right safety and environmental protections in place,” Charlton said. “What we need now is a meaningful process to examine this proposal that focuses on evaluating environmental sustainability, pipeline safety, community and First Nations views, and economic benefit through things like value-added jobs.”
“Canadians can be assured that New Democrats will be participating in the review by the National Energy Board to make sure that these issues are front and centre,’’ Charlton concluded.
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair is proud to second groundbreaking legislation introduced by Linda Duncan (Edmonton-Strathcona), an Environmental Bill of Rights to legally enshrine environmental rights for Canadians and the duty of the federal government to take action to protect the environment.
“As Minister of Environment in Quebec, I made the right to a healthy environment a charter right for all residents of Quebec,” said Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition. “I am pleased to support this bill, which would safeguard the right of present and future generations of all Canadians to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment”.
According to Duncan, “This bill is long overdue. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government shares responsibility for protection of the environment. My bill grants Canadians the specific right to have a voice in all decisions impacting their environment, to take the federal government to court where those rights are denied or where federal laws are not enforced and it protects whistle-blowers”. The bill also amends the Bill of Rights to add an environmental right.
“Canadians must be given a voice. An NDP government will work with the provinces, territories and all Canadians to make the right to a clean, healthy environment a guaranteed and absolute right,” said Mr. Mulcair.
Conservative government’s rail safety changes long overdue
A year and a half after the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, the Conservative government has finally decided to enact the Transportation Safety Board’s (TSB) recommendations. However, the measures announced today should have been implemented years ago.
Furthermore, Conservatives still haven’t honoured their commitment to rectify shortcomings with safety inspections and rail safety compliance measures.
“The Minister of Transport needs to immediately hire more inspectors; they are essential to ensuring the safety of trains. Currently, Transport Canada does not have the resources needed to carry out more inspections,” said NDP Transport critic Hoang Mai (Brossard—La Prairie).
Earlier this week, the TSB announced that 254 incidents had not been reported or had been reported late. The Conservatives have been unable to turn the tide on the undisciplined rail safety culture in this country and, as a result, the NDP is pushing for hefty fines for companies that break the rules.
“The Minister has said far more than she has done. The Conservatives have failed to bolster rail safety in Canada. Who’s to say that these new rules will be respected by railway companies?” added Mai.
For years the Conservatives have struggled with the notion that money in the Employment Insurance fund belongs not to the government, but to the workers and employers who pay into it.
That’s why this ironic exchange at Finance Committee yesterday turned a few heads:
Mark Adler (CPC MP, York Centre): Who owns the money in the EI Account?
Armine Yalnizyan (CCPA): Workers and employers.
Adler: Correct. Now when the Liberals plundered it for $50 billion in the 1990s and early 2000s, and the Supreme Court ruled that was illegal…
[Chair tries to interrupt]
Adler: …is not what the Liberal party is proposing now very similar to what happened back then?
[Chair again tries to cut him off]
Adler: This is money that does not belong to the government, correct?
Yalnizyan: The rules are made by the federal government – including you, now. You just introduced a tax cut that you made the rules for that. So the federal government makes the rules but does not pay any of it.
Adler: The EI doesn’t belong to the government!
It is not clear if the honourable member realizes that while the Liberals raided $50 billion from the EI fund, the Conservatives have gone on to raid another $7 billion from the fund during their tenure.
Canadians deserve better.
The leader of the New Democratic Party made the following statement on the Islamic New Year:
“The beginning of the new Islamic year is a commemoration of the moment that the prophet Mohammed left mecca with a handful of disciples to escape persecution and to found a pious community in which all citizens would be equal.
“On this 1st day of the sacred month of Muharram, Muslims in Canada and around the world are preparing to observe fast and pray for peace, human solidarity and a better fate for the least fortunate.
“Today, I would like to offer all Canadian Muslims my best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous year.”