Backgrounder - Green Party amendments to Bill C-45

Parts 1, 2 and 3

The measures in Parts 1 through 3 of C-45 are largely technical changes typical of Budget Implementation legislation. They include: positive steps to encourage investment in clean energy generation and equipment designed to energy efficiency, the phase out of the Corporate Mineral Exploration and Development Tax Credit, the phase out of Atlantic Investment Tax Credit for Oil & Gas and Mining, and the closing of loopholes such as transfer pricing and foreign affiliate dumping that have long been used by corporations to avoid paying their fair share of Canadian taxes.

While these are positive steps, we are troubled that the Conservatives are limiting the successful Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SRED) tax credit, so have introduced amendments to preserve the credit by reducing it only by 1% to 19, rather than the proposed 15%, and to ensure that it continues to apply to science and research related capital expenditures.

 Part 4

Division 4 - Fisheries Act

Changes contained in C-45 related to the Fisheries Act are largely to fix mistakes made during the haste to wreck the legislation in C-38. One of them concerned the new definition of "Aboriginal Fisheries". First Nations groups across the country, including the Association of First Nations, have expressed concern that new definition, saying it could bypass many treaty rights guaranteed to First Nations, including the right to fish to sustain a moderate livelihood.

We have amended the definition of aboriginal fisheries to ensure that all First Nations' inherent and treaty rights are respected in relation to the Fisheries Act.

Division 5 - Bridge to Strengthen Trade Act

In order to expedite the Detroit-Windsor bridge, Bill C-45 has thrown caution to the wind and exempted the project from any environmental laws, reviews, or oversight.

We have tabled amendments to Division 5 to ensure that this bridge, however urgently required, still adheres to basic principles of environmental responsibility, and is consistent with the protections contained in the Species at Risk Act, the Fisheries Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Divisions 12 and 16 - Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

The amendments to these Acts provide for the pre-screening of people and cargo before entering Canada. In conjunction with the Electronic Travel Authorization regime being implemented under Division 16, these changes apply create a layer of review of any person who is expected to be on a flight to Canada, and allow the Customs and Border Security Agency to request any information on a prospective traveler that the Minister sets out in the regulations, and then screen and block any traveler that the Minister deems "high risk".

We have tried to create a review of the expected negative impacts of this new regime on the Canadian tourism industry, including requirements that the Minister must consult tourism industry reps before bringing in new regulations.

We have also attempted to limit the application of the Electronic Travel Authorization program to instances of specific security threats, and to ensure that all data that is collected through this program is handled in strict accordance with the Privacy Act, including ensuring that a comprehensive privacy impact assessment is conducted.

We have also sought to limit unchecked Ministerial discretion and establish Parliamentary review and oversight of the changes, including a sunset clause that serves as a protection of last resort.

Division 13 - Hazardous Materials

We have amended Division 13 to preserve the integrity and independence of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission, which Bill C-45 will dismantle entirely.

Division 14 - Internal Trade

We amendments Division 14 to clarify that when provinces regulate in the pursuit of legitimate objectives, such as health, safety, labour protections, or environmental protection, they will not be penalized under the agreement with the monetary penalties that C-45 creates.

Division 15 - Hiring Tax Credit for small business

While our amendments to Division 15 require the expenditure of public funds and are therefore inadmissible, we have tabled them to express our support for Canada's small businesses, and point out that the Conservatives could be doing much more to create jobs during this period of economic uncertainty.

Division 18 - NWPA

-          Deleting the schedule and references to it throughout the Act, to re-establish historical protections for all Canada's rivers and lakes by the federal government

-          Providing parliamentary scrutiny of ministerial orders that exempt classes of works and waters from the application of the Act

-          Adding provisions requiring publication of a notice and a public commentary period for works that are deemed to substantially interfere with navigation, ensuring that local residents are apprised of the details and design plans of and are able to provide feedback on proposed works that affect their lives

-          Ensuring that the largest projects – bridges, booms, dams and causeways  - cannot be exempted from ministerial orders and are by their nature deemed to substantially interfere with navigation

-          Ensuring that the largest projects that substantially interfere with navigation are deemed physical activities under CEAA 2012 and will receive an environmental assessment

-          Laying out factors, including ecological characteristics, that the minister will take into account before designating important bodies of water as minor waters

-          Qualifying the Minister’s power to designate minor waters so as to exclude Canadian Heritage rivers and bodies of water that provide habitat to wildlife species at risk

-          Adding a requirement that the Minister assess the likely environmental effects of designating certain works as minor works

-          Adding transparency provisions requiring the text of the Minister’s decisions to be made publically available

-          Adding the use of the water by aboriginal peoples for traditional and other uses as an assessment factor that the Minister must take into account in determining whether a work substantially interferes with navigation

-          Clarifying that the public interest for the purposes of the Act is primarily to protect the public right of navigation, including the intactness of navigable waters that make that right possible

-          Adding a provision, in the enforcement section of the statute, providing that a private citizen may bring an action for relief in public nuisance without the support of the Attorney General and without establishing special damages if his or her public right of navigation has been infringed

Division 19 - Canada Grain Act

Helping small producers by:
-       Keeping the Grain Appeals Tribunal to allow farmers a chance to appeal unfair decisions
-       Keeping the bond system for grain shipments, reducing costs to producers
-       Ensure that any 3rd party inspection of grain that is conducted, is done so at arms' length and by organizations without conflict of interest in the outcome of the decision, to prevent big agribusiness from self-regulating

Also see:

  • Press release: Elizabeth May to Speak to Budget Omnibus Bill C-45, Table Amendments
  • Video of Elizabeth May presenting her amendments in the House of Commons