Debate on C-288; House of Commons, Feb 2, 2007
Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):
There are three motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-288. Motions Nos. 1 to 3 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.
I will now put Motions Nos. 1 through 3 to the House.
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Motions in Amendment
Mr. Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier, Lib.)
Motion No. 1
That Bill C-288, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing, in the English version, line 11 on page 4 with the following:
“(iii.1) a just”
Motion No. 2
That Bill C-288, in Clause 10, be amended
(a) by replacing, in the French version, line 30 on page 8 with the following:
“(i) sur la probabilité que chacun des règle-”
(b) by replacing, in the French version, line 34 on page 8 with the following:
“(ii) sur la probabilité que l’ensemble des”
(c) by replacing, in the French version, line 39 on page 8 with the following:
“(iii) sur toute autre question qu’elle estime”
Motion No. 3
That Bill C-288, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing, in the French version, lines 4 and 5 on page 9 with the following:
“de la Chambre des communes, lesquels les déposent devant leur chambre respective”
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):
Earlier today, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons raised a point of order with respect to some provisions of the bill now before the House.
A number of other members have also made submissions. The Speaker has taken the matter under advisement and will be coming back to the House with a comprehensive ruling. In the meantime, debate may proceed.
The hon. member for Honoré-Mercier.
Mr. Pablo Rodriguez:
Mr. Speaker, first, allow me to say how pleased I am to have the opportunity to join in the debate on this important bill. Allow me also to thank my seconder, the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, and all those who worked directly or indirectly on this important bill.
I have said from the start that this bill is about the future. Its purpose is to take concrete action immediately, action to improve the living conditions of future generations.
This bill is necessary for one simple reason: because the Conservatives refuse to take such action.
First they renounced Kyoto and then they introduced a bill on clean air, which clearly reflected their unspoken intentions to give up on combating climate change without even having the courage to try.
The government’s bill, criticized by all the opposition parties, scientists, environmental groups and even by the media, did not contain and still does not contain a short-term schedule. There are no reduction targets for the short term. There is nothing in the bill. It includes no measure that would allow us to achieve our Kyoto objectives.
Seeing that Canadians are furious with the way the government has managed the environment and with government incompetence, especially with regard to climate change, the Prime Minister decided to fire his environment minister and tried to shine up his image on the environment. Canadians are no fools. They know that the government does not believe in what it is doing.
Canadians are not going to believe the Conservatives just because the Prime Minister appointed a new Minister of the Environment, or because the Minister of the Environment came in wearing a green tie the day Parliament resumed sitting or because they have decided to recycle old Liberal programs. Canadians will not believe them.
The Conservatives make a show of taking an interest in the environment, but they actually could not care less about it. They continue to reject Kyoto, and they do not comply with international law. They could not care less about what Canadians want.
When a government flouts international law and what its own citizens want, and when it does not shoulder its responsibilities in the face of one of the biggest challenges to our planet, Parliament has the ability and the moral duty to force the government to do so.
Over the last few weeks we have heard a lot of rhetoric in the House about climate change and the environment. I would like to take this opportunity to remind members and Canadians of what is really at stake here.
Earlier today—and my colleagues are no doubt aware of this—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest report on the science of climate change. I would remind this House that this panel’s mandate is to advise governments around the world on the scientific and economic aspects of climate change, as well as its impacts.
This report states unequivocally what we already know, at least on this side of the House: climate change is one of the main challenges, if not the main challenge, facing humanity, not only because of how it affects the environment, but also because of how it affects health, public health, food safety, quality of life and economic prosperity. This report clearly shows that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are at their highest levels in 650,000 years. This is bad news for the Conservative government, but it is true. The government will have to face facts.
By the way, if ever there was a plane ticket worth buying, it was the one that took the Minister of the Environment to Paris so that he could finally grasp that climate change is caused by human activity. The money that went for his plane ticket yesterday was money well spent.
The report also indicates that average Arctic temperatures are increasing at almost twice the global average rate. Scientists have also discovered that Arctic sea ice is melting faster than their models—which were already quite alarming—predicted. This indicates something we already knew: greenhouse gas concentrations are rising rapidly. Without a considerable reduction in the pollution caused by these gases, the world is headed for a climate-related catastrophe.
If we do not act together on a global scale, if countries fail to agree on ways to dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions, the planet’s average temperature could rise by at least two degrees centigrade, which would be catastrophic.
Let us look at what we can do. We could try to be more positive, more optimistic; we could try to work together to make a difference. For example, we could heat our homes with renewable energy, sell our state-of-the-art green technology around the world and protect the natural heritage Canadians hold so dear. The purpose of this bill is to get us working together, to get us doing something tangible and positive for the future.
We must ensure that Canada chooses the right path for the good of our children and grandchildren, but also for our own good. We know, we are perfectly aware—and Canadians are too—that climate change is real. We can already see its effects. The Kyoto protocol is the tool the international community is using to begin fighting climate change. It may not be perfect, but at least it is getting over 160 countries involved and calling on their ingenuity and good intentions to fight climate change.
Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol after a majority vote in the House. It came into effect in 2005 and now it is international law. However, one of the Conservative government’s first acts in office was to walk away from Kyoto. The Prime Minister said that Canada’s Kyoto target was too tough, so he decided to abandon the target without even trying to meet it. That is a fact. A few green photo ops with his brand new environment minister will not change that.
The truth is that the Conservative government has embarrassed Canada at every international Kyoto meeting since taking office. That is the truth.
Why is the Kyoto protocol important? It is because no country can fight climate change alone. The pollution that is causing global warming is a worldwide phenomenon that affects each and every country. From a climate perspective, it matters little whether that pollution comes from Toronto or Nairobi.
Canada will not be able to avoid the consequences that I mentioned earlier, unless it agrees to cooperate with the rest of the planet, which it refuses to do. The only way to work together is through the Kyoto protocol.
My bill, namely Bill C-288, will ensure that Canada fulfills its Kyoto commitments. The protocol requires the government to achieve its objectives and to implement this plan through real environmental regulations.
The government can choose the means that it wants, and it can spend money or not. It can do it without spending any money, and it is very aware of that. That is the government’s prerogative. Its bill provides options, and it is up to the government alone to choose which ones it wants to implement. The government alone will decide whether or not to spend money.
I will conclude with a message of hope, because we, on this side of the House, are optimistic. We believe in the future, and we want to work together. Bill C-288 reflects our hope that Canada will choose the right path, while listening to climate experts, playing a leadership role with the international community and transforming its economy to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
In fact, this is what all the polls are saying. Canadians across the country want to work together to act and do something about climate change. It is still time to follow that path, but we must act quickly, because the Kyoto target date is very close. Scientists are saying that we only have about 10 years left before all the damage caused to climate by humans’ actions becomes irreversible.
I am urging all members of all parties to show courage and boldness so that, together, we can meet this challenge. Let us stand in solidarity with the rest of the world in the fight against climate change, through the Kyoto protocol. Let us work together for our future. More importantly, let us work together for the future of our children and grandchildren.
Mr. Mark Warawa (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, we are here today to debate the amended version of Bill C-288, and I wonder, where has the member been for the last 10 years? Unfortunately, the Liberals were strangely silent and inactive on the environment file, so I am glad they have finally woken up.
The fundamental premise of this bill is that Canada should simply push harder and make it our mission to meet Canada’s emission reduction targets under the Kyoto protocol. This does sound good, but unfortunately, when our government took office a year ago, we found out that Canada was 35% above the Kyoto targets with only two years remaining before we would need to start meeting those targets.
We found out that the previous Liberal government had left us with an environmental mess. We are now finding out as Canadians and as a–
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):
Order, please. I have recognized the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment. I understand that there are other private conversations that might be interesting to some. I invite members to have those conversations in their respective lobbies. Meanwhile, the test is that I can hear the hon. parliamentary secretary. I will not interrupt again unless I do not hear him, but I need to hear him. Thank you.
Mr. Mark Warawa:
Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, when we took power, we found out that the previous Liberal government had left us with an environmental mess, and we are now all finding out the true and real costs of 13 years of Liberal inaction on the environment.
The previous Liberal government entered into the Kyoto protocol wanting to look like it cared about the environment. Unfortunately, it did not keep its promises. Instead of emissions going down, they went up 35% above that Kyoto target. That is why we are in the situation that we are in Canada today.
The commissioner of the environment said in her report to Parliament, “There is a gap between what the government”–the then Liberal government–“said it would do and what it is actually doing”. I like to call that gap the Dion gap. This is another quote–
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):
I had intended not to interrupt the hon. member, but members know we are not supposed to name members by their first names or their surnames, only by their titles or the names of their ridings.
Mr. Mark Warawa:
Mr. Speaker, the environment commissioner also said that “good intentions are not good enough”. She went on to say:
When it comes to protecting the environment, bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground. The federal [Liberal] government seems to have trouble crossing the finish line.
Before I continue, I would like to reiterate what the Minister of the Environment said yesterday during his speech, which is that our government acknowledges that climate change is taking place and that it is a serious issue facing the world today.
Canadians have also told us that they are extremely concerned about climate change. That is why this government is taking concrete action so that Canadians can see clear results for the environment and for their health.
This government also recognizes that the Kyoto protocol is a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world and here in Canada. Unfortunately, the Liberals did not get the job done.
The environment commissioner also went on to condemn the previous government, saying:
Even if the measures contained in the previous government’s 2005 plan had been fully implemented, it is difficult to say whether the projected emissions reductions would have been enough to meet our Kyoto obligations.
The Leader of the Opposition admitted that his plan was inadequate. He said, “I would agree with you that it wasn’t enough”.
Canadians do not want fancy talk and pretentious rhetoric. They want real leadership and a sensible, practical plan for taking action now.
Canadians do not want unrealistic commitments that we cannot achieve. They want to see cleaner air, cleaner water and a healthy environment.
Canadians do not want billions of their hard-earned tax dollars sent to buy foreign hot air credits in a vain attempt for optics to meet Kyoto targets. They want their tax dollars spent on getting Canada on the right track so that we can make real progress in addressing our greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions for the long term.
Climate change is a serious environmental problem that needs immediate attention. The previous government decision to do nothing over the last decade was a serious mistake. Our government will do better.
Bill C-288 is a mistake. It will not solve the problems that the Liberals left behind. Our government will do better through some of the toughest legislation ever tabled in the House on greenhouse gases and air pollution: Bill C-30, Canada’s clean air act.
We need a new approach, an approach that will get concrete results which will protect the health of Canadians and the environment, an approach that is achievable, affordable and practical.
We are the first government in the history of Canada to say that we are going to start regulating industries for both greenhouse gases and air quality in Canada. We have made a very good start and we are going to do more.
Canada’s clean air act will enhance our capacity to address the concerns of Canadians and strengthen the government’s ability to take a coordinated approach to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases.
The clean air regulatory agenda will regulate both the greenhouse gases and the air pollutants from all industrial sectors and transportation in the short, the medium and the long term. Our short term targets for greenhouse gas reductions will be more aggressive than those proposed by the previous Liberal government. Our short term targets for air pollutants will be among the most aggressive in the world.
We are regulating the energy efficiency of 20 currently unregulated products, such as commercial clothes dryers and commercial boilers. We are tightening requirements for 10 other products, such as residential dishwashers and dehumidifiers.
We are also providing $1.5 billion for incentives for projects to generate clean energy from renewable sources such as wind, biomass, solar, tidal, and geothermal.
We are providing $300 million to help Canadians make their homes and business more energy efficient.
We are providing $230 million to accelerate the development of clean energy technology, including CO2 sequestration and storage, clean oil, clean coal, clean oil sands, renewable energy, advanced vehicles, next generation nuclear, and bioenergy.
We have provided Canadians with tax credits of 15.5% on public transit passes, which will offset the greenhouse gas emissions of about 56,000 cars.
We have provided $1.3 billion to the provinces and territories for urban transit infrastructure improvements.
We are regulating a 5% average renewable fuel content in Canadian gasoline and a 2% average renewable fuel content in diesel fuel and heating oil. We have provided $345 million to bolster farmer participation in the production of biofuels.
This is the kind of leadership needed to achieve affordable and practical action. That is what Canadians want.
The Liberal plan was to buy hot air credits and then have inaction. Canadians now know that it did not work and it will not work.
Canadians want action on the environment and that is what they are getting. That is what we will continue doing. We are getting the job done.
Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to discuss Bill C-288, which proposes that Canada adopt the Kyoto protocol. What better time to discuss this bill than the day the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases its fourth report on climate change.
Today, this report has made it clear that climate change is happening faster than expected. The 2001 report forecasted temperature increases ranging from 1oC to 1.4oC, with 5.8oC being the extreme.
Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told us that global temperatures could rise as much as 6.4oC.
Another important fact in the report is that Canada and Quebec could be facing even more dramatic temperature increases in the next few years.
Experts tell us that temperature increases could be 3% to 4% greater than they currently are in northern Quebec and that we could experience increases exceeding 10oC within years. Danger is at our doorstep. The situation is alarming. This is an emergency.
Remember that an eminent former economist with the World Bank, Mr. Stern, had predicted that a 5oC temperature increase was a critical threshold beyond which significant economic impacts would be seen around the world.
A few minutes ago, I listened to the Minister of the Environment say he was surprised by the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. You really would have to be in another world not to have predicted accelerated climate change and the findings in the IPCC’s fourth report.
On this side of the House, we are not surprised at the minister’s surprise, because this government has denied the fact of climate change for so many years. With climate change accelerating, the government needs to bring forward a plan to implement the Kyoto protocol in Canada sooner. Of course, the government will say that its solution to climate change is Bill C-30, the clean air act.
When we look at this bill in detail, the first thing we notice is that it does not include the Kyoto targets, which many of us feel are the first step in the fight against climate change. The government is proposing a long-term strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050. This is not enough.
In the coming weeks, could the government table a plan based on the most recent scientific data, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tabled today, and, when it comes to combating climate change, stop applying a policy from the stone age, which always suggests that to them these climate changes do not seem to be having an impact and are simply a naturally occurring phenomenon?
The report has been validated with 90% scientific certitude. The links between climate change and human activity have now been proven, and this threshold of certitude is currently at 90% in the report that was tabled.
Therefore we must move forward with a bill, such as Bill C-288, which reaffirms the importance of respecting the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and proposing measures for the short, medium and long terms in order to combat climate change.
Furthermore, in this bill we have proposed a new approach that, in our opinion, will maximize every dollar invested in combating climate change, in order to ensure that we reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible.
Until now, the approach proposed by the federal government has been a sectoral approach that sets reduction objectives per industrial sector. This voluntary approach has not produced the expected results. Increases of over 27% in greenhouse gas emissions were observed compared to 1990 levels. That is the federal government’s record, including the current government and the previous government. This has lost Canada its role as leader on the world stage.
What is the approach being proposed today by the Bloc? It is a territorial approach much like the one used in Europe, which has allowed that continent to plan and present to the world an environmental record that will see it achieving its Kyoto targets more quickly than anything Canada has proposed to date.
How did they achieve these results? By negotiating an 8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions among the 15 countries which, at the time, were members of the European Union—now consisting of more than 25 countries, by setting a single negotiated target and assigning different targets to individual EU members.
How were these different targets established? They were established on the basis of climate, for example. Can we agree that the climate is not the same everywhere in Canada? Can we recognize that the Canadian economic structure is not the same across the country? In the western provinces the economic base is oil and in Ontario it is the automobile industry. We know that the federal government has done everything it could to consolidate the automobile industry in Ontario. In Quebec, manufacturing is the economic base and for years has been overlooked by the federal government. The situation varies depending on where we live.
The Quebec industrial sector, as a whole, has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec by 7%. Imposing an across-the-board reduction for greenhouse gas emissions for all industrial sectors in Canada would penalize Quebec industry, which has already made an effort by changing its industrial processes or implementing action plans in various sectors and businesses. Quebec is prepared to sign an agreement with the federal government regarding a target of a 6% reduction within its borders. What we are saying here today is that Quebec must be given the opportunity to implement its own policy to address climate change. Why? Because in Quebec, further efforts are not needed in the industrial sector; efforts are needed in the transportation sector. This how true decentralization could be used to make the most of every dollar invested in the fight against climate change, in order to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible.
What we are asking for is simply a more effective approach. Personally, I do not believe that a single, coast-to-coast plan to combat climate change adopted in Ottawa is the way to make the most of every dollar invested. Various realities must be taken into consideration. In Canada, a common approach can be adopted concerning the targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. We must ensure that the provinces respect their commitments. If necessary, a regulatory system could be introduced, but the provinces must be allowed to implement their own policies. That is the only way to maximize the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in relation to every dollar invested.
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to enter into the debate. It seems to be, and I hope it is not the first and only, a week of talking about the environment.
It gives me particular pleasure because the issue has been one on which I do not think Parliament has been seized with the proper energy over the last number of years, certainly over the last number of decades. While the debate today is somewhat representative of where we need not to be on this issue, Canadians have heard the Liberals time and again claiming that the Conservative Party members do not believe in climate change or that they are climate change skeptics. While I do not necessarily doubt the allegation, the fact is that they need to respond.
I am not sure any party in this place has a choice any more. We cannot stand on the side of the biggest polluters or on the side of those who wish to continue to be irresponsible in their decisions. We must stand on the side of responsible governance.
We saw the report out of Paris today that was made by 1,200 leading scientists, more than 2,300 contributors of the best and brightest our world has to offer and more than 113 countries. For those of us who have been involved in the United Nations process, we know that getting language into a document can be onerous because it needs to be done by consensus. When we have all these different views and countries represented with their own narrow national interest, it is hard to establish strong language. However, even under those conditions, the language that came out of the United Nations today compels every one of us to work within our parties, to work within our constituencies and to work with all the groups and businesses on this issue for a common cause, which is the reduction of the amount of pollution that is produced by our economy.
We have had many witnesses. For more than two and a half years the former environment committee heard witnesses and now the present environment committee, which was looking at Bill C-288 and is now looking at Bill C-30, will hear more witnesses. Something that has been consistently brought to the attention of members of Parliament is that Kyoto is not so much an environmental protocol as it is an economic one. It goes to the very heart of the decisions that are made about our economy and about the way that certain costs are captured.
The costs for pollution have never been properly captured in this country. That has been true for many other nations as well but they have been moving ahead of us, particularly on the European front but other nations as well, to capture the actual costs of production, one of those costs being how much pollution is emitted into the air.
If anyone remains doubtful of the science or doubtful of the impacts I would gladly invite them for a tour of my riding in northwestern British Columbia where the foresters have come to me and said that they are witnessing the impacts of climate change. The forestry experts have said that the changes they have seen in their weather are causing an infestation of parasites that they have never see the likes of before. They are losing virtually every pine tree in the province and it is now sweeping over the Rockies into Alberta into the boreal forest. The consequences are serious.
We have also heard in the debate today, which I am not sure is helpful, the Conservatives disclaiming the record of the Liberals. Something calls to my mind when I look at Bill C-288. Where was this bill in 1998 and where was it in 2000? Where was the demand for an accountable plan? I know the hon. member was not here but his party was in power.
This is important to point out because timing is important when we talk about the adjustments we need in our economy. I had an excellent meeting with a group of mining executives in the last Parliament. They were upset and frustrated with the government at the time on the question of energy. They were smelting a great deal of ore and it is very energy intensive.
They watched us go through the Kyoto debate, sign on in 1988 and ratify later on. They saw this coming, because they heard from the government that this was coming, and they started to make some changes to the way they used energy and the way that they were polluting. They have been reducing that pollution and their energy uses, which was mostly natural gas in their case, and yet they were not getting any credit for it. There was no level playing field created because the government kept waiting and waiting.
Meanwhile, their competitors in the industry were allowed to continue business as usual. They were not making those types of investments. They became frustrated, and rightly so. The timing of the thing, the fairness and the certainty that businesses have been requiring for so long is critical for moving across our economy.
Despite all the failures of the previous government to set a fair and level playing field for all those competing, on their way out I asked the Liberals one last question: “By the way, how is it going? How is business?” They said, “It is great. Natural gas prices went through the roof in the last couple of years. We used far less than our competitors and we are beating the pants off some of them”, and then they walked out.
At some point we need to debate the environment versus the economy. I often hear some of my colleagues on the benches to my left ask what we have against Alberta and what we have against jobs. That type of thinking needs to end. At some point, with the water crisis that we had in Alberta and when the mayor of Fort McMurray and her council pass a unanimous resolution begging, pleading with the provincial and federal governments to put a halt to any new projects in their area, one begins to question the economy versus the environment debate and see that it is not true.
We see the IPCC report today, the UN’s report. We are no longer debating if the seas are rising, we are debating how much. We are no longer debating if the earth is in fact warming, we are debating how much.
An important thing for Canadians to realize, when they look at the numbers and the estimates go from a little less than two degrees to potentially as much as six degrees average temperatures, is that the average temperature for the entire globe is felt most in the northern hemisphere. The further north one goes the more intense those degrees move and the greater they are. For the people who live in the far north and who depend on the resources for resource extraction, we have seen the number of permafrost days and ice road days go down. Mining companies are closing up shop for longer and longer periods of time.
We need to understand and appreciate that this is a battle we must all be seized with. We need to realize that to continue this ping-pong debate back and forth in question period and in debates like this between who is doing worse on the environment between the Conservatives and Liberals, I do not think Canadians are all that interested, to be frank. I do not think Canadians are as interested anymore in hearing that the Liberal record for 13 years led to 30% above, which is true, or that the Conservatives are not seized with the issue of the environment, which is true.
I encourage my colleague who is introducing this bill to hand over some of the amendments that exist in his private member’s bill and we can stuff them in, or cram them in or force them into the government’s bill. I constantly hear some opposition members at the committee and here in the House say that they want to hear more about the government’s plans before they can make decisions about the government’s bill. My goodness, courage my friends. The opposition parties have a majority on the committee, as they do in this place, and we should tell the government what we want to do. We should not be waiting for government plans or for this hopeful Kyoto strategy that may or may not come from the government. I am not holding my breath. I waited a long time for the previous government to do it, and I kept waiting and waiting. One gets bored of waiting and just wants to make the changes and do the things that we know are right, in particular, in the debate around Kyoto and whether we are staying in.
Kyoto is a contract that we have with the international community. We are in this protocol. Unless the government steps forward and says that it is tearing it up, we are in this protocol and we must honour our commitments. I know the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment and the Prime Minister have not said that we are tearing it up. However, if the government is not suggesting that we step out of it, then we are in, and, if we are in, there are penalties that are incurred for missing the targets. That is how it was written.
The world community thought this was so serious that we could not just have another international meeting, have more politicians standing up at more microphones making more pronouncements and yet continuing down a disastrous path when it came to pollution and to climate change. Because they knew this was not an option, the leaders of the day, who signed on to this agreement and drafted this, made sure there were penalties. They are the penalties we abide by.
The debate over the science of climate change is over. The debate over whether Canada is in this protocol must be over. The only debate that now exists is on the measures we as parliamentarians together need to take to change course in this country to once again be proud of our international reputation, particularly when it comes to the environment. We absolutely owe it to ourselves, to the constituents who sent us here and to future generations.
Ms. Ruby Dhalla (Brampton—Springdale, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, climate change is the single most pressing ecological threat facing our country and our planet. I am here today on behalf of my constituents of Brampton—Springdale, the children, the youth, the seniors and families who are concerned about global warming and climate change. They are concerned about having an action plan for climate change.
The fight against climate change is one about which all Canadians are concerned, Canadians from all socio-economic backgrounds, Canadians from all cultural groups, Canadians from every walk of life, because environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and social justice are three pillars that are paramount to every Canadian family. This is why I stand in the House today to lend my full support for Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.
We have seen not only in the last decade but in the last few months that climate change does exist. The threat of climate change is real and it is here. The levels of greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are now rising faster than ever. This has led to record increases in temperature over the 20th century.
We must take action now to ensure energy efficiency of our economy and our productivity. It is an issue of quality of life of our citizens. As global citizens we have a responsibility to our fellow citizens throughout the world to take action and to provide leadership as a country. We have a responsibility to work with the international community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and clean up our global environment. What we need is leadership and we need a plan of action.
I know that the Liberal Party and Canadians across the country all agree that we have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to ensure that we act now. We must ensure that we build a healthy and sustainable environment in which every citizen throughout the world has the highest quality of life possible.
On the environment file, the Conservative government has truly made a mockery of Canada’s environmental stewardship. Canadians have a Prime Minister who has never really believed in the science of climate change. I am sure over the past few weeks many Canadians have read the letter written by the Prime Minister in 2002 in which he stated:
“battle of Kyoto“–our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto Accord.
Here is another quote from the letter:
It’s based on tentative and contradictory scientific evidence–
And yet another quote:
THERE ARE NO CANADIAN WINNERS UNDER THE KYOTO ACCORD….It will take an army of Canadians to beat Kyoto.
The letter goes on and on. However, we have noticed that in the past few months the Prime Minister and the Conservative government have suddenly decided to go green, because the polls have shown that the environment is one of the top priorities of Canadians. But a leopard can never truly change its spots. The fact of the matter is that the government has embarrassed us at the international level and damaged Canada’s reputation when it comes to the environment.
We have taken a look at some of the Conservatives’ action plan initiatives. They have refused to honour the $538 million agreement that was struck between the governments of Canada and Ontario to shut down coal fired production plants. They have refused to honour their commitments of the partnership fund to fund climate change programs that were run by provinces and municipalities, a loss of $328 million to Quebec for its Kyoto plan. They have gutted 92% of the funding for climate change. They have shut down four successful climate change programs in Canada.
It has been a year and the Conservative government has not gotten the job done.
Mr. Pierre Poilievre You didn’t get it done.
Ms. Ruby Dhalla: Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has spent $300 million on transit pass rebates, a program that experts say will not produce results or reduce the number of cars on the road. The fact of the matter is–
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):
Order, please. I would like to advise the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board that he is next on the order. He will get his turn to speak. In the meantime, I am listening to the hon. member for Brampton—Springdale and I would appreciate it if I could listen to her without interruption.
Ms. Ruby Dhalla:
Mr. Speaker, with the amount of time and effort that goes into writing speeches, I appreciate that you are listening along with many other Canadians.
The fact is the Conservatives have never truly believed in the science of climate change and they have never believed in Kyoto. They have embarrassed our reputation time and time again, not only nationally but at the international level as well.
I want to take a look back at when the Liberals were in government and talk about some of the initiatives that were undertaken by it.
On February 23, 2005, one week after Kyoto became international law, the Liberal government released Canada’s greenest budget ever. In total, the budget provided almost $5 billion over five years to green Canada’s economy, to clean our land, our air and our water. It included measures to address such things as climate change, increasing renewable energy production, such as wind and small hydro, to remediate toxic sites and to improve public infrastructure.
On April 13, 2005, $4 billion was invested in the climate change plan that detailed sector by sector greenhouse gas reduction targets and our plans to meet them.
On September 3, 2005, the Liberal government once again proposed the addition of six greenhouse gases to be added to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which would have provided the federal government with the legal authority to take quick action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and also aiding in the establishment of mandatory greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
In December 2005, and I am sure that many Canadians watching today will also remember this, that we proudly hosted, in Montreal, the historic United Nations conference on climate change. It was under Canada’s leadership that this conference brought together 180 countries to create Montreal’s action plan, a clear road map to the world’s future approach to cooperation on climate change. This initiative outlined energy efficiency and innovations in clean technology to promote economic growth without increasing polluting emissions and also launched a dialogue on long term cooperative action on climate change.
In 2006 a 10 year $1 billion comprehensive four part strategy was announced to clean up problematic areas such as the St. Lawrence River Basin and the Great Lakes.
It is evident that the Conservatives in the last year have turned their backs on the science of climate change. They have turned their backs on global warming. They have not done the job. As I think has been said before in the House today, the issue of climate change, the issue of the environment and the issue of global warming requires cooperation. It requires collaboration between all parliamentarians and all parties in the House. It also requires cooperation and collaboration with the international community.
As a country, we traditionally have had respect because we have provided leadership when it comes to addressing the issue of climate change. As parliamentarians, that is why we support the bill being brought forward today. It will ensure, once again, that Canada will provide that leadership and have the respect needed to ensure we can meet our international obligations to the Kyoto protocol.
Having travelled and spoken to many Canadians across the country, it is clearly evident that Canadians want action. Canadians need action. As parliamentarians, we must ensure that we get the job done. Our party has a leader who is passionate, who is committed and who has the conviction to ensure that we meet our international obligations to the Kyoto protocol.
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the member speaks of the Liberal leader’s great new found passion for the subject of climate change, but, frankly, the planet does not care about his platitudes. The planet does not care about his $40 million conferences. The planet does not care if he wears a green scarf or names his dog after the Japanese city of Kyoto. The planet cares what real action we take to confront the problems before us.
Today we have more posturing. We have Liberal members standing in the House and puffing up like blowfish to talk about how much they now care about the environment. The reality is they had the chance and they did not get the job done. In their own words, 13 years of talk, 13 years of inaction.
Canadians will not be fooled. The Liberals, from the period that the Kyoto accord was accepted in the late 1990s until the time when they left office, took no effective action. In fact, greenhouse gases were skyrocketing at the fastest rate in Canadian history at the very moment they left office, after over a year of oversight by the then minister of the environment, who is now the leader of the Liberal Party.
Let us reflect on the environment commissioner’s report, someone the Liberals themselves have called a great advocate on the environment. Let us take a look from 1998 through 2006.
The 1998 reports states:
—the federal government is failing to meet its policy commitments.
The 1999 report states:
Federal departments are divided on the degree and significance of risks posed by some individual toxic substances, the interpretation and application of legislation and the nature of their respective roles and authorities. This has led to indecision, inaction and strained relations among departments.
The 2000 reports states:
—persistent problems with the federal government’s management of key issues like climate change, toxic substances and biodiversity….As a result, commitments made to Canadians were not being met.
The 2001 report states:
The continued upward trend in Canada’s emissions demonstrates that the government has not transformed its promises into results.
Again, the Liberals did not get the job done.
The 2002 report states the federal government’s “sustainable development deficit continues to grow”.
The 2003 report states:
There is a gap between what the government said it would do and what it is actually doing.
Good intentions are not enough.
The 2005 report states:
When it comes to protecting the environment, bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground. The federal government seems to have trouble crossing the finish line.
I noticed some amusement, even from our friends on the Liberal side, at the line “bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground”. I think the commissioner was bang on, on this point. Then she said, “The federal government”, referring to the Liberal government, “seems to have trouble crossing the finish line”. Forget the finish line. When this 15 year marathon was sounded, when the pistol was fired, the Liberals started sprinting in the opposite direction. Now we have to turn that direction around and come all the way back and attempt to meet these spectacularly demanding targets that were signed on to before.
No wonder Canadians booted the Liberals from office not so long ago. Now that they are in opposition, what are they doing? The Liberal leader has appointed a Kyoto skeptic as the Liberal critic on the environment. The member for Ottawa South is in fact a Kyoto skeptic and I will prove that today.
During the nine years that the member was the president of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, he allowed greenhouse gases to skyrocket. He said that when Canadians “see the costs of Kyoto, they are going to scream”. He said that the Kyoto accord would cost $40 billion a year. Those were the words of the Liberal member for Ottawa South, the high priest of hypocrisy on the environment. He said it would cost $40 billion a year to implement Kyoto and that when Canadians learned of these costs they would scream. Those were the words of the Liberal critic for the environment.
During the Liberal years, he wrote:
Canada has the second-highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. If we ratify the Kyoto Protocol, we will have to reduce them by 6 per cent below 1990 levels. That means reducing our emissions by 26 per cent from the current levels, because we are emitting so much more now than we were in 1990.
That is what he said of his own government’s record. That is the Kyoto skeptic that the leader of the Liberal Party has chosen to speak up on the issue of the environment. I notice that he has not been speaking much lately. In fact, he has been silenced.
We are taking real action on this side of the House. We have given incentives to put more solar power, wind power, wave power and biodiesel into the energy component of our economy.
We are supporting the creation of more clean fuels such as ethanol. We are working toward using our agricultural sector as a new source of clean energy and at the same time creating new markets for our farmers.
These are real actions that will be met in conjunction with the clean air act and will lead us to achieve, in the long run, real reductions in both smog and greenhouse gas emissions. These are the kinds of real actions that the planet is asking from us. The planet is not demanding more $40 million conferences.
Canadians are asking the House of Commons to rally around the passage of the clean air act, to get something done, to achieve the job, to get real results, and that is what I am proud to be part of. That is why I am proud to be part of this government.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):
The time provided for the consideration of private members’ business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.
When Bill C-288 returns for debate, there will be two and a half minutes left for the hon. parliamentary secretary.
It being 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)
Debate on C-288; House of Commons, Feb 9, 2007
Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
The House resumed from February 2 consideration of Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):
When we last discussed this motion, there were two and a half minutes left to the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board.
The hon. parliamentary secretary.
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, we are discussing the Liberal position on Kyoto. Yesterday the leading Liberal union leader, Buzz Hargrove, had this to say about meeting our Kyoto deadlines. This is the same Buzz Hargrove who stood on a stage and held the hand of the former Liberal prime minister in the air during the last election.
He said, “It would be devastating for the whole community. Anybody that signed on. It is not even a remote possibility. No prime minister in any one of the parties in the House of Commons is going to bring in any kind of regulation that says that we can do that. It would be suicidal for the economy”. He went on to say, “If somebody were to come out tomorrow and say you can reach the objective that was laid out initially immediately, you would almost have to shut down every major industry in the country from oil and gas to the airlines, to the auto industry and that just doesn’t make sense.
Buzz Hargrove, the Liberal union leader, who supports the Liberal Party, is prominently held among Liberals as a paragon of wisdom.
That concurs with the statement made by the Liberal environment critic who said that if Canadians saw the real costs of Kyoto, the $40 billion a year costs, they would “scream”. Those were the remarks of the Liberal member for Ottawa South, the high priest of hypocrisy on the environment. This is the individual who said that it would cost $40 billion a year to implement Kyoto. That is the Liberal environment critic, who is voting now in favour of that price tag to our economy.
Thank goodness our economy is in safe hands. Thank goodness the Conservative Party will implement reductions in greenhouse gases and smog in a responsible manner that will protect the jobs and livelihoods of everyday Canadians. Thank goodness that Canadians chose wisely on January 23, 2006. Let us not go back.
Mr. Thierry St-Cyr (Jeanne-Le Ber, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, I prepared a little introduction, but I feel compelled to respond to the previous intervention, which was pretty pathetic, to say the least. It is very sad to see that we have a government that claims it is looking after the economy but clearly does not care about the environment.
This is an issue that affects me personally. I myself am quite young and I have always been concerned about this issue. Moreover, my spouse is pregnant and I will be a new dad in a few months. I am very concerned about the future we are creating for my children and the children of all our fellow citizens. That is why I cannot understand how anyone can treat such a serious issue so lightly, as our honourable colleague just did.
Since they came to power, the Conservatives have said over and over that there is no way they can reach the targets. The Conservatives are admitting that they are incompetent and powerless. How is it that European countries, such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, can reach the targets without destroying their economies? On the contrary, this has become a source of wealth for those countries and has given them more opportunities for economic development.
By failing to take advantage of the opportunity Kyoto presents to enrich our society and protect the environment, the government is showing to what extent it lacks a broad vision of the economy.
Kyoto could enrich our society because the new technology we would develop to reach the targets would create jobs here, especially in Quebec where businesses in the environmental sector are very dynamic. Furthermore, our oil dependence is costly because, in Quebec in particular, there is no oil production. That means that all of the money spent on energy is leaving our economy and is not creating jobs.
For businesses, the cost of burning oil to produce energy accounts for a large proportion of their expenses. If they could reduce those costs by developing new technologies that reduce consumption and increase energy efficiency, that would be a major advantage. It would also enable citizens to consume less energy.
Lastly, there is the carbon exchange. If we exceed our Kyoto targets, if we do our job well and get started now, without waiting to set targets, we can place a monetary value on those gains and even eventually sell credits to other countries. But in order to do that, we have to be on the market now. We cannot afford to wait and let the parade pass us by. When all the other industrialized countries in the world have carbon exchanges and technologies to sell and offer us, we cannot afford to still be watching our oil resources run out. We will have completely missed the boat.
The Conservatives’ attitude is pathetic, and I am very concerned about the fate of my unborn child and all the children in Quebec.
The Bloc Québécois will support this bill, but I want to make it clear that we support the bill in principle only. The Bloc Québécois has always taken this attitude. When a bill is introduced, we do not ask ourselves whether it comes from the Tories, the Grits, the NDP or whomever. We judge each bill on its own merits.
We are going to support this bill, because we believe that Canada must implement the Kyoto protocol. Clearly, we are not supporting the Liberal Party, because the Liberal Party’s record on the environment was rather dismal during the years it was in power. The Liberal government signed the Kyoto protocol, but did nothing tangible to implement it. Canada did not move forward, it moved backward. Canada’s environmental record all those years was a disaster. Only at the very end of the Liberal reign, just before the election, did the current leader of the opposition—who was then the environment minister—hold a lovely little conference. Good for him, but it was rather late in the game to be taking action.
We must look beyond the disastrous record of the Liberals and the ideological stubbornness of the Conservatives and study the merits of this bill. The Kyoto protocol targets are the bare minimum to be achieved. Earlier today, we discussed a colleague’s point of order pertaining to Al Gore’s remarks.
I invite everyone to take a few moments to rent Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, which is available in both English and French. I believe that this documentary is the best thing to have been produced in the United States in the last 10 years. It is a powerful depiction of humanity’s self-destruction. It is madness not to take action. I can understand that there is always partisanship in this House and I can understand that we all have different objectives. However, we live on the same planet and we share the same environment.
In this regard, I find it shocking that some members in this House question the reality of global warming, and that some claim it is not due to human activity. Fortunately, there are fewer and fewer of these people, but several dozens of MPs still think that we are not in a position to meet the Kyoto protocol targets.
Considering that man went to the moon, that we are developing drugs to cure all sorts of conditions and that we are often dealing with new technological challenges, I cannot believe that some members of this House would think that we do not have the intellectual or financial resources to achieve such a critical objective.
The only resource that we are lacking to meet these targets is easily within reach: it is the will of this government. This is the only resource that we are missing right now. That is why we will have to support this legislation to force the government to make up for its lack of will. This is what is lacking. Whether in Quebec or in the rest of Canada, we have the human and financial resources to meet these targets.
It is clear that the Canadian situation is special. In the western provinces of Canada there are extraordinary energy resources that produce a lot of wealth there, it is true. When the Standing Committee on Finance, of which I am a member, travelled in western Canada, I noticed that an increasing number of Canadians from those provinces were concerned about their future. They feel that we should not burn up these oil resources in a few years, in one generation, and not leave anything for the next generations.
Quebec does not have these resources, but it has a lot of people who are concerned about developing our economy and our renewable energy. For a little while now, we have been faced with a government that refuses to seriously consider the possibility of no longer encouraging polluting energies and energies that emit greenhouse gases, and instead focus on renewable energy. The best example is the motion I tabled earlier this week in the Standing Committee on Finance, which simply asked that we address this issue.
Should we drop the incentives and tax benefits for oil companies and invest in renewable energy instead?
The committee adopted the motion. The only ones who opposed it were the Conservatives. I find it sad that they do not even want to vote on this issue. I am convinced that the Kyoto protocol is the right path to take. It is the very least the country can do. To aim lower than that, not to have the courage to see this through, would be a pathetic failure and infinitely sad for our children.
Mr. Wayne Marston (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Bill C-288. The summary of the bill reads:
The purpose of this enactment is to ensure that Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. It requires the Minister of the Environment to establish an annual Climate Change Plan and to make regulations respecting climate change. It also requires the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy to advise the Minister—to the extent that it is within its purpose—on the effectiveness of the plans, and requires the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to submit to the Speaker of the House of Commons a report of the progress in the implementation of the plans.
I took the time to read out the summary for the House so as to be clear for the members present and the public viewing today about just what we have before us for debate. I want Canadians to understand this bill, because in essence it highlights very clearly the failure of the Liberals when they were in government and in particular of their current leader when he had control of the environment file and did not himself proceed with just the actions that are listed in this bill today.
When the Kyoto protocol was signed, I can recall very vividly my personal sense that finally there would be action on this most critical issue. One can imagine that as time wore on it became clear that the Liberal government of the day was only engaging in smoke and mirrors on the issue or, worse, did not grasp the significance to the peoples of Canada and the world that a failure to act–yes, a failure–would have and what would result.
In every sense of the word, the Liberals in control of the environment file failed Canadians by not ensuring that greenhouse gas emissions were brought under control and lowered. Now we know the degree of that failure. Greenhouse gas emissions soared by 26% by 2004.
Other countries such as Germany, which was required to lower its emissions by 8%, actually got them down to 17.2% by 2004. As for the United Kingdom, we all have seen the movies about the smokestacks of England and the horrendous record it is supposed to have. It was required to reduce by 8% and got it down by 14%. Russia, which had a zero requirement, came down by 32% by 2004. In contrast, the United States rose by 15.8% by 2004. The worst of the pack was Canada, which was up by 26.6% by 2004.
Day in and day out, while the Liberals went about their self-absorbed lives of entitlement, not only our environment but ordinary Canadians paid a heavy price. Our air and our water got dirtier. Smog days grew more frequent and worse.
Throughout the years since signing on to Kyoto, Canada has lost its opportunity to assume a leadership role on this file. Somewhat like Nero, as the Liberals fiddled our air quality worsened, our rivers were dirtied, and our weather began to change, with clear patterns of increasingly worse storms, with deluges and with winds of unprecedented violence.
The Liberal deathbed conversion symbolized in this bill may well be heartfelt, I will give them that, but the Liberal record on greenhouse gas emissions is what it is. This bill will not change those facts. As late as it is, Bill C-288, also known as the Kyoto protocol implementation act, is worthy of support and will have it from our party when it comes time for a vote in the House.
However, it is deeply troubling that it is the Liberals in opposition putting forward such strong Kyoto language when they could have done it all while they were in government.
Because of the lack of action to date, we now have the forests of western Canada being decimated by the pine beetle because it is now able to survive in our climate whereas it previously could not withstand the cold here. Our winter service ice roads are now unstable and melting much faster than usual, making it difficult to get food and supplies to our isolated communities in the north.
Let us look at the damage being done to our winter resorts, which have faced green grass far into the normal tourist season. The winter sports economy is but one example of the beginning of very serious economic problems that ordinary people are beginning to face today.
I can tell this House emphatically that the NDP has always been on record as demanding that our federal government do more to ensure that it meets and exceeds Kyoto targets.
Notwithstanding this bill, our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, introduced a private member’s bill, Bill C-377, entitled “a climate change accountability act”, which would serve as an effective framework to achieve science-based greenhouse gas emission controls and reduce targets beyond Kyoto.
This member is proud of the fact that it was our party and our leader who broke the logjam to get something done on climate change and on pollution.
The climate change accountability act means that Canada will start to meet the challenges of climate change today, not in decades.
The core of the NDP’s Bill C-377 is based on science-based benchmarks, not arbitrary ones as found in the clean air act.
Bill C-377 has short, medium and long term targets.
Bill C-377 will get the government moving immediately, because within six months of its passage the government must develop and publish a target for 2015, and regulations to meet the bill’s targets must be in place no later than December 31, 2007.
Sometimes in this House it feels like we have to drag other parties to the altar, so to speak, with the Liberals’ inaction over the many years of their mandate and now the Conservative clean air act, which is euphemistically called the hot air act in environmental circles.
Today, thanks to our Bill C-30, there is an opportunity for real action on climate change. I call upon all parties to stop the posturing, stop the obstruction and get to work with the NDP to get the job done.
People often ask why I ran to represent Hamilton East–Stoney Creek in this auspicious place. I ran for two reasons: the vision and the passion of the leader of the NDP and my anger over the abject failure of the Liberal Party over the last 13-plus years. Five surplus budgets and three majority governments and still too many Canadians go hungry, still too many Canadians sleep in the streets, and Canadians face an uncertain future because of the Dion gap of runaway greenhouse gas emissions.
I could have decided to stand outside of this place and rail against the government. Instead, I came in to work with the NDP caucus to ensure we all get the job done for ordinary Canadians. I call upon this House to work with the Bill C-30 committee, using Bill C-377, Bill C-288 and the best science available to change the clean air act to effective environmental legislation.
I am getting a little too emotional here and I have to pause. This is so critical and so important to our country. We must come together as parliamentarians and get this job done.
Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, It is my pleasure to rise in this House this afternoon and speak on Bill C-288, an act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.
For Canadians who are watching, let me read that again: “an act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol”.
I would like to commend my colleague, the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier, who introduced the bill and it was passionately driven through the House of Commons.
The bill has captured the attention of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. In fact, even the National Post has half of its front page today dedicated to the merits of the bill.
Canadians are concerned about the Conservative government’s disregard for climate change. If there is one thing that has become clear to me hearing the debate on the bill thus far it is this: On the most important issue of the early 21st century, the Conservatives have decided to surrender without even trying to fight.
Last week in this chamber the three opposition parties united behind a Liberal motion calling upon the government to use the existing means provided in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to take necessary steps to meet our obligations under the Kyoto protocol. The vast majority of Canadians are with us but the government is lagging far behind.
The Conservative decision not to try is incredibly unfortunate. I hardly need to remind the House that, according to the best experts today, if the average temperature of the Earth’s surface increases by 2° above what it was during the pre-industrial era, by the year 2080, hundreds of millions of people, our children’s families, are likely to be confronted with flooding along coasts and widespread famines. Hundreds of millions of people risk coming down with malaria and billions of others may run short of fresh water.
It is necessary to recognize that the effects of climate change have already been felt, especially in the north, and that the situation will worsen if we do not take concrete action in Canada, as well as elsewhere in the world. This is, therefore, at its heart, a collective and global effort.
Climate change deniers and Kyoto resisters are fond of painting scenes of economic ruin to keep us from working together to improve our environment. The Prime Minister has called Kyoto “a socialist scheme”. I am only led to conclude, as a result of those comments, that he was not able to distinguish between Japan and China.
The Minister of the Environment, the former minister of energy in the province of Ontario, for three years led the province-wide campaign against the global response to climate change. In fact, he fundraised, along with the Prime Minister when the Prime Minister was the Leader of the Opposition, to lead the anti-Kyoto movement across Canada.
On his watch, the Minister of the Environment, while in Ontario, oversaw a 127% increase in the use of coal fired plants. On his watch, the Minister of the Environment oversaw a 124% increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the province of Ontario, 114% increase in emissions of sulphur dioxide and a 22% increase in the emissions of nitric oxide.
Canadians know the record. It is unfortunate that the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health and the Minister of the Environment are not prepared to admit their roles when it comes to the undermining of a climate change response in one province, the province of Ontario, just as they are very anxious to run away from their record in their contributions, as Justice O’Connor reminded us, their direct contributions to the Walkerton crisis where seven Canadians died and 2,300 Canadians were seriously sickened. They do not want to tell this to Canadians. They do not want Canadians to know that they now form part of the new government led by the leader of climate change denying in Canada.
Whatever the case, for over one year, I and my colleagues and many other Canadians have been asking a simple question of the Prime Minister: “Tell us what your plan is. Please deliver a plan to us. Where are we going on climate change”. A plan is necessary to take meaningful action.
There is no evidence of any plan, only ad hoc announcements, a big green tie and photo ops in Paris. However, we do have evidence of where this government is going.
The only Conservative track record on the environment is one of drastic cuts. The list is a long one: cuts totalling close to $900 million affecting the EnerGuide program for house renovations and the initiative for low income households; cuts of close to $600 million in the wind power production incentive program and the renewable energy production incentive program; cuts of $2 billion to the climate change programs; cuts of $1 billion for the climate change fund and the list keeps getting longer all the time.
This government is putting an end to the funding of a program promoting the design and construction of new energy efficient buildings. This is a program with over 500 design and construction projects for buildings that are, on average, 35% more energy efficient than other new buildings. The financial support provided under this program has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 182 tonnes annually for each multiple unit residential building, and, in the case of commercial buildings, by almost 300 tonnes annually.
This government did not evaluate the effectiveness of these programs at all. It abolished them because they were Liberal initiatives and because it is a far-right government that is influenced by the Republican Party in the United States.
Yesterday in committee, the Minister of the Environment was asked repeatedly to give the Canadian people a single, solitary number. When he was ask how much the government spent on climate change in its first 12 months, he was unable to answer. He was asked the question six times, until we suggested that perhaps the Minister of Finance should come and do his job at committee.
It is flabbergasting that we have had to table legislation to call on the government to come up with a plan to fight climate change. Should we be surprised, given the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Environment , the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health and even the Minister of Public Safety who described climate change as a joke on his website until he was caught in what has become known as a Flintstone’s moment? The moment this was discovered, the Minister of Public Safety removed all reference to it from his website.
The Kyoto protocol is more than numbers and targets. It is not just a step in the right direction, it is the right direction that will lead to the right results. To go it alone with a so-called made in Canada plan, which, apparently, is somewhere in France, is to misunderstand the very basis of the challenges we face.
I am sorry that we had to legislate this but the government was unprepared to move with Canadians, unprepared to continue our fine work under the Liberal green plan to work with industry in the provinces and the territories. It cut funding to Ontario by $557 million to shut down coal plants. It cut funding to Quebec by $328 million for the Kyoto projects.
As a nation and as a people, we committed to lead the world in a global response to a global problem. The government refuses to accept that although there are over 180 nation states, there is only one atmosphere, and there must be a global response, which is why 168 countries joined Canada in signing the treaty. The government would like us to leave the treaty but will not tell Canadians the truth about it.
It is time for the government to hear Canadians, to act to implement the Kyoto protocol and to work toward saving our solitary atmosphere.
Mr. Jeff Watson (Essex, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is clear that Canadians are very concerned about their environment and about climate change.
Accepting the science of climate change and the growing need for action after a decade of Liberal inaction, Canada’s new Conservative government is taking real, effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address these concerns.
Unlike the Liberal sponsor, we have carefully considered Bill C-288. Our conclusion is that Bill C-288 is seriously flawed and must be opposed. We need to draw some important distinctions between this flawed Bill C-288 and this government’s clean air act.
First, Bill C-288 is far too little, far too late. It is a desperate Liberal attempt to unwisely force us to make their targets and timeline. What did the former environment commissioner say about these Kyoto timelines? She said that even if the Liberals were still in power they would not have made the Kyoto targets and timeline.
Opinion leaders across Canada agree that we cannot make the Kyoto targets and timeline. Even the new leader of the official opposition admits that he cannot make the Kyoto targets and timeline.
I know the sponsor of the bill supported the deputy leader of the Liberal Party and not the current leader at their recent convention. The Liberal deputy leader said that the Liberals did not get it done. Bill C-288 still does not get it done. Bill C-288 is also a recognition of the Liberals’ 13 years of inaction on the environment.
Claude Villeneuve, from the University of Quebec, said this about Bill C-288, “This bill would have been excellent if it had been introduced in 1998”.
When Mark Jaccard testified before the environment committee he said, “I would say, no, it still doesn’t give you enough timeframe”. It is too little, too late.
If the Liberals were serious about climate change and the Kyoto targets they signed us on to, why did they not act when they had a chance? They had 8 years, 10 budgets, 7 surplus budgets, 7 years of solid majority government, 5 years with the current tools under CEPA and they took no action. There is not excuse for Liberal inaction on climate change. The leader of the Liberal Party knows no shame on this issue.
Not only is Bill C-288 too little, too late, it is incomplete. Where is the medium term plan? What about the long term? Where are the costs?
The sponsor of the bill, the Liberal member for Honoré-Mercier, said at committee that he did not even care about a plan or the costs to implement Bill C-288. The Liberals do not care about having plans. They do not care about those things. We care about them.
How can they be taken seriously on climate change? How can Bill C-288 be seriously taken as a plan on climate change? Its focus is short term. In fact, there is only one short term timeline on the Liberal horizon now and that is the next election. It seems to be the only thing they care about any more. By contrast, we have one approach, reductions in GHGs and pollution in the short, medium and long term.
Kyoto was only a first step toward a serious approach to the problem. We have always been clear that Canada will work with other countries, including the major nations that are polluting but are not in Kyoto. The Liberals would not work with them. They left them out when they negotiated the agreement to advance a more transformative and long term approach to tackling climate change.
Our action at home is laying a foundation for cooperative international efforts to conquer climate change. Our commitment in the short term is GHG targets that will yield a better outcome than what was proposed by the Liberals in 2005. On air pollutants, we have proposed fixed emission caps at minimum as rigorous as jurisdictions that are leaders in environmental performance. This is a major step that no previous federal Liberal government has taken.
We are looking at the best way for industry to comply with these targets. We will ensure that we have a regulatory system that will allow industry to choose the most cost effective way to meet its emissions targets while meeting our environmental and health objectives.
We are also supporting the development of transformative technologies, especially for GHGs, technologies that will be needed to achieve the deep reductions required if we are to prevent irreversible climate change.
Not only is Bill C-288 too little, too late, not only is Bill C-288 not a real plan for climate change, but Bill C-288 has no penalties. How about that? Where is the enforcement? Clearly the Liberals do not believe that the polluter pays for damaging our health and our environment. Without enforcement, Bill C-288 is not much of a bill. It might as well have been a motion, or how about a preamble to a real bill on climate change.
Bill C-288 is therefore useless. I think the Liberals know a lot about being useless, but that is fine. I guess that makes Liberals feel better when they put their heads down on their pillows at night.
In order to protect Canadians’ health and our environment, legislation must be strictly enforced or it will not be effective. We know the Liberals were not effective. Stiff enforcement acts as a deterrence to future damage to human health and the environment.
Enforcement means that parties subject to the requirements under environmental laws or regulations will comply with those requirements or pay real consequences.
Enforcement is a pivotal part of achieving this government’s goals to clean up our environment and protect the health of Canadians. Enforcement of an act must be fair, predictable and consistent for government, industry, organized labour and individuals.
This government’s clean air act, Bill C-30, builds on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, among other things, by strengthening enforcement authorities to ensure compliance with all requirements of our bill; not so with Bill C-288 before us today. This is a neutered bill.
Our clean air act by contrast is a strong bill. Enforcement officers will carry out inspections to verify compliance with the law and direct corrective measures to be taken. Where there is danger to the environment, human life or health, the government would be able to act; not so with Bill C-288.
Under our clean air act, enforcement officers will be able to conduct investigations of suspected transportation violations by controlling the movement of cars, trucks, trains or other modes of transport. Officers can stop them or move them to locations suitable for inspection.
Enforcement officers have the power of peace officers as well. Maximum penalties can include fines of up to $1 million for each day an offence continues, imprisonment of up to three years, or both. That is a bill with real teeth, not like Bill C-288.
How about this? Where an offence continues for more than one day, the person may be convicted for a separate offence for each day the illegal activity lasts.
Canada’s clean air act has real muscle. Bill C-288 sadly gets sand kicked in its face. Our Bill C-30 will strengthen this government’s ability to establish tradable unit programs for air pollutants and GHGs by proposing amendments to CEPA’s current penalty provisions to make them work better with emissions trading systems. There is no such improvement in Bill C-288.
Canada’s clean air act also provides all fines for violations be paid into an environmental damages fund, a special account created to assist in managing financial compensation granted to Environment Canada for restoration of damages sustained by the environment. There is no such improvement in Bill C-288.
Where there is danger to the environment, human life or health, we will take action and we will have the tools to act. Bill C-288, sad to say, cannot be enforced and the Liberals know it and they do not care about that. That is a danger where the environment, human life or health is in jeopardy. Bill C-288 is not a plan for climate change; it is a recipe for the type of inaction the Liberals became infamous for.
Bill C-288 is too little, too late, no plan, no muscle, not worth supporting. Canadians deserve better. Canadians are demanding better than Bill C-288. I ask all colleagues in the House to vote against Bill C-288 and put their efforts instead into passing Canada’s clean air act.
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in the debate on what I think is one of the most important bills that has been presented to the House. It has to do with whether or not Canada should respect its international obligations, particularly as they relate to the future. Let me quote the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier who said in his opening speech when he first presented the bill to the House:
This bill speaks primarily about the future. It is designed to make possible concrete acts today that will improve living conditions for generations of tomorrow. I have always believed that political action should be motivated by a strong desire to make a positive difference in the world around us, a strong desire to prepare a better future for the generations to come.
That is precisely what Bill C-288 is all about. It is a bill which basically calls on Canada to meet its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto protocol. That is the bill.
Members are well familiar with that. They will know some aspects of it but maybe not all of the aspects, or maybe they will remember selectively the things that they would like to remember. It is important to put on the record some of the facts related to Kyoto.
It was a very long process. Back in 1997 the Kyoto protocol was first negotiated. The process went on because once the protocol was developed, countries then had a chance to sign on to the deal, to make a commitment that if and when it came into force that they would be there for the future of the planet. Canada put its name on that as a commitment in 2002, but it was not until 2005 that the final signatories were obtained and the Kyoto protocol as ratified was in fact in force. That was 2005, just a couple of years ago. It was not until then that the Kyoto protocol was in force. One hundred and sixty-eight countries around the world decided that global warming and climate change issues were real, that the science was right and that we, this generation, had to take the first steps to ensure the safety, the security and the well-being of the planet for generations to come.
We have all seen the evidence, even today, the slow evidence of warming, the aberrant weather and other indications that something is different. It can be seen up in the Arctic when big portions of icebergs fall into the ocean. We see the changes in wildlife migration patterns. We see the impact on the polar bear population. We see the impact on so many different aspects of life. This is the genesis of something terrible.
This is what the science says. It is the genesis. We, today’s Canadians and today’s people of the globe, are the ones who are making the most significant contribution to the warming of our world, the creation of greenhouse gases. We are the ones.
We must be successful in delivering, in terms of meeting the targets under the Kyoto protocol. There is a combination of measures under that protocol. Some we will be able to do domestically and some we will not, but there are measures in there which countries can use so that they can respect and in fact satisfy the terms and conditions of membership, of being a party to the Kyoto protocol.
The current Minister of the Environment and the former minister of the environment said that we cannot make them. Are they talking about meeting the obligations under Kyoto, or are they talking about meeting everything by doing one part of it?
We could just say, here are our domestic solutions and let us just solve things. The Prime Minister himself told the media just within the past week that we cannot reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by some 30% in just two years. It takes time. How much time does it take? Maybe the Prime Minister should tell Canadians how much time it would take.
Maybe we do not even have to ask him. Why do we not just look at clean air act? The so-called clean air act was dead on arrival. It was so bad and so panned by virtually anybody who has any basic knowledge that people said that that bill was not worth the paper it was written on, and in fact it was trashed by the House.
Usually when we refer a bill to committee, it is after second reading, after approval in principle. That bill was so bad that there was no way it was going to get past second reading. It was going to die in the House. The government admitted it and it agreed to have this bill go to a special legislative committee before second reading.
In other words, a bill that goes to committee after second reading has approval in principle. A committee can look at it and massage it a little bit, but it cannot change the substantive provisions of the bill. However, when a bill is sent to committee before second reading, it is totally different. I have seen it before. Bills can go to committee and the committee can delete everything after the title, and then change the title. In other words, it can trash the bill.
I have a feeling that once the responsible parliamentarians and the expert witnesses are finished with that clean air act, we will clean out the act, and find out that we better change the name because it is going to be the act to implement and meet our Kyoto commitments and to make our contribution as a signatory to Kyoto and for the future generations of Canadians. Maybe it should be called the Pablo bill.
We have had a lot of discussion, but what concerns Canadians is that the Prime Minister wants to say that the Liberals did nothing in 13 years, but knowing that in fact Kyoto did not come into force until 2005. There was no agreement in force prior to that; however, once the Kyoto protocol came into force, programs were immediately developed and in fact had been developed and were put into place.
There was the Canada 2005 climate change plan, phase one of project green. We followed that with the climate fund, the partnership fund, the one tonne challenge, the wind power incentive and renewable power production incentive, and the sustainable energy science and technology strategy. I look at the cap and trade system, which we could have had domestically, where businesses could work together to ensure that we meet our obligations.
When we think about it, where is the reality check in the rhetoric that comes from the Prime Minister that the former government did nothing? These are facts. They actually happened, and as a matter of fact, they are real. I know they are real because the Conservatives cancelled them all. Then what did they do? They took some of them and they reintroduced them in a watered down form to make absolutely sure that they were not going to be effective at all.
Canadians have made it very clear that climate change, global warming, the science supporting them and Kyoto are priorities, not only just for Canada but for the globe. We are just a small part of the globe, but we are party to an international agreement. We respect our international agreements and the Liberals will do everything they possibly can to ensure that we meet our obligations under the Kyoto protocol.
Mr. Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the bill and go on the record on some fairly important aspects on the issue of climate change.
Canadians told us loudly and clearly that they are concerned about the environment. During the last election, they told us that they were not satisfied with the action that the Liberals had taken, or had not taken, on a number of things, no less in this area as well, some subterfuge, some fakes they intended on this file.
In contrast, our government will be taking action, and is taking action, on both air pollution and climate change. We are committed to protecting the health of Canadians and also of our environment.
Unfortunately, Bill C-288, put forward by the member across the way, has no mechanisms for enforcement. It renders it toothless. Despite the political games of the opposition, we will not call an election over a private member’s bill that has no substance and no plan. It is basically an empty motion.
The Speaker has ruled that the bill is not a money bill and, therefore, is not a matter of confidence. The bill does not require the expenditure of money and so, it accomplishes nothing.
The stated purpose in Bill C-288 is to ensure Canada takes action to meet its obligations under the Kyoto protocol. This very single focus on short term greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets is really not enough.
The clean air act, on the other hand, would provide a strong basis for taking integrated action on emissions of smog, acid rain pollutants and greenhouse gases as well, many of which come from the same industrial and transportation sources.
By tabling the clean air act, the government has clearly demonstrated that it is taking short, medium and long term action to protect the environment and human health.
Our approach is more than just a long term approach. With respect to industrial air emissions, the government has committed to determining its regulatory framework, including setting short term targets as well. Our notice of intent states that our targets will be consistent with leading environmental standards and at least as rigorous as those in the United States.
Targets for air pollutants will measurably reduce the impact on the health of Canadians. For greenhouse gases, the targets will yield a better outcome for the Canadian environment than under the plan proposed by the previous Liberal government.
Bill C-288 has a focus on the achievement of Canada’s short term Kyoto target that is limited. Both its economic and environmental aspects need to be carefully examined.
Our approach needs to focus on the economic transformation needed for the Canadian economy that will lead to more significant and sustained reductions in pollutants. For example, we must, and we will, as a government encourage investment in improving Canadian energy and urban infrastructure.
The government wants to regulate greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions for major industrial sectors in place as soon as possible. That being said, however, the reality is it will not be possible, in practical terms, to develop requirements for both greenhouse gases and air pollutants for all industrial sectors by 2008.
Prescribing this as a deadline in the legislation, as per Bill C-288, would almost certainly open the Crown and all stakeholders to very serious difficulties.
The bill’s timeline strictly limits the ability of the Minister of the Environment or any other regulating minister to consider public comments and revise draft regulations accordingly. The way of doing things, as in Bill C-288, is not reasonable and shows disregard for a meaningful public consultation process, which results then require careful consideration by the government.
Yesterday, in front of the legislative committee for Bill C-30, the Minister of the Environment made a strong statement on this government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases. He said:
In the coming months, we will announce ambitious…targets…coming into force starting in 2010. For the first time ever, the Federal Government will regulate air pollution for major industry sectors. For the first time ever, we will regulate the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles, beginning with the 2011 model year. We will regulate energy efficiency standards and labeling requirements for a broad range of consumer and commercial products. Together, these will address about 80 percent of the energy used in homes and almost 90 percent of the energy used in commercial settings.
The challenge of meeting our Kyoto target is illustrated by the simple fact that by 2004 domestic greenhouse gas emissions had increased 27% under the Liberal government, which is the exact opposite of what should have happened.
We will not spend billions of taxpayer dollars overseas to buy credits. Instead, we will spend Canadian tax dollars here at home to make real reductions in greenhouse emissions and air pollution.
Our government is taking a new approach by integrating action on air pollution and climate change at the same time in order to protect the health of Canadians and the environment. Emissions of smog and acid rain pollutants and greenhouse gases come from many of the same industrial and transportation sources and, to be most effective, action needs to be integrated.
Regulations that address climate change in isolation could effectively force industries to invest in technologies and processes that only address greenhouse gases while locking in capital stock that continues to emit air pollutants. For that reason, our government will establish short, medium and long term reduction targets, both for air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
By taking action on greenhouse gases and air pollutants, our government will allow industry to find ways to reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gases in a way that helps industry maintain its economic competitiveness while maximizing the benefits to Canadians. Our plan will achieve concrete, tangible results through mandatory, enforceable regulations with short, medium and long term targets.
To recap, our opposition to Bill C-288 is threefold. First, this bill has a short term focus. Second, it has a single issue focus on greenhouses gases. Third, massive costs would come with this short term focus.
In our view, it is important to approach the issue in a way that will ensure reductions both of air pollutants and greenhouse gases in the short term, but that also sets the foundation for continued and more significant reductions over the long term. It is even more important that these funds be spent on improving the Canadian economy here.
Countries with targets now under the Kyoto protocol account for less than 30% of global emissions. For future international cooperation on climate change to be effective, all major emitting countries need to do their part to reduce emissions.
By 2010, developing countries are expected to contribute 45% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and China and India together will experience greater growth in emissions than all OECD countries combined.
Effective action cannot be taken, in fact, by a relatively small group of countries alone. Proponents of the Kyoto protocol would not deny the fundamental point that key developing countries must eventually participate
. Kyoto is only a first step toward a serious approach to the problem. We have been clear that Canada will work with other countries to help advance a more transformative long term approach to tackling climate change. Our actions at home will be the basis for future international cooperative efforts to address the matter of climate change.
In conclusion, Canada’s clean air act goes far beyond Bill C-288 to protect the health of Canadians and our environment. We encourage the Liberals to get on board and help us get it through for the sake of Canadians and our environment.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau):
It being 2:30 p.m., the time provided for this debate has now expired.