Debates of Oct. 24th, 2002
House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was accord.
- Points of Order
- The Environment
- Government Response to Petitions
- Competition Act
- Criminal Code
- Patent Act
- Income Tax Act
- Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
- Canada Business Corporations Act
- Committees of the House
- Foreign Affairs
- Questions on the Order Paper
- Healthy Workplace Week
- Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal
- The Environment
- Governor General's Award
- Literacy Action Day
- International Literacy Day
- Civets de la nature
- International Literacy Day
- Liberal Leadership Campaign
- United Nations Day
- Literacy Action Day
- The Environment
- Louis-Marie Gagné
- Literacy Action Day
- Louis Riel
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research
- Child Pornography
- Kyoto Protocol
- National Defence
- Energy Conservation
- Persons with Disabilities
- Child Pornography
- École de médecine vétérinaire de Saint-Hyacinthe
- Canadian Wheat Board
- Grain Transportation
- Correctional Service Canada
- International Aid
- Kyoto Protocol
- Presence in Gallery
- Business of the House
- Points of Order
Peter Goldring Edmonton Centre-East, AB
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to present a petition put forth by many concerned Canadians. These petitioners are demanding that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice stop the exploitation of our children in child pornography. The petitioners call upon Parliament to take all necessary steps to ensure that all materials that promote or glorify pedophilia, other deviate concerns, or sado-masochistic activities with children be outlawed.
Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK
Mr. Speaker, I rise today with great pleasure to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in Saskatoon, Outlook, Rosetown, Dinsmore, Sovereign, Milden, Conquest and all other rural areas in the riding stating that the creation and the use of child pornography is condemned by a clear majority of Canadians. They call on the Government of Canada to act immediately to put forward swift punishment for the use of child pornography. I ask that Parliament act immediately.
Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB
Mr. Speaker, I have five more petitions against child pornography. The petitioners are concerned that the current laws on child pornography are not being upheld. They call upon Parliament to put in place clear laws that will outlaw sado-masochistic activities and pedophilia. It is surprising that it would be necessary for Canadians to petition against child pornography but unfortunately it is.
Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK
Mr. Speaker, I rise today with a petition that calls upon Parliament to focus its legislative support on adult stem cell research to find the cures and therapies necessary to treat the illnesses and diseases of suffering Canadians.
Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of constituents in my riding of Calgary--Nose Hill who are petitioning Parliament about their concerns regarding child pornography. They are asking Parliament to protect the children of Canada by taking all necessary steps to ensure that child pornography is outlawed.
Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the privilege to present to the House of Commons 14 petitions signed by approximately 1,300 constituents in my riding of Crowfoot. The areas in Crowfoot that are represented in this petition are Veteran, Drumheller, Stettler, Three Hills, Trochu, Camrose, Hanna, Castor, Oyen and Acadia Valley, Flagstaff and Bashaw.
All these petitions call upon Parliament to protect children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.
These petitions reflect the opinion of a majority of Canadians in condemning the creation and use of child pornography. It is my pleasure to present them to the House.
Howard Hilstrom Selkirk—Interlake, MB
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition in regard to child pornography. It in fact asks Parliament to take action in an immediate manner to stop the use of materials that promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children. I think Parliament should do that.
Questions on the Order Paper
October 24th, 2002 / 10:45 a.m.
Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
Questions on the Order Paper
The Deputy Speaker
Is it agreed?
Questions on the Order Paper
Some hon. members
Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition
That, before the Kyoto Protocol is ratified by the House, there should be an implementation plan that Canadians understand, that sets out the benefits, how the targets are to be reached and its costs.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak today to our supply day motion.
The purpose of the motion is to give instruction to the government in how to proceed with the ultimate passage that it plans of the Kyoto protocol.
The motion we are tabling today reflects the concerns of a large number of members of Parliament, not just in our party, which has taken a strong position in opposition to the Kyoto protocol, but other parties that have expressed reservations as well. I think the motion also reflects the reservations of many in Quebec who may support the protocol but who have grave reservations about the lack of an implementation plan.
Finally, I think the motion also reflects the views of a significant number of Liberal members of Parliament who have spoke out about some of the deficiencies in the way the government has been proceeding. I will just speak to that for a minute.
We have had a very strange evolution to this debate. We had documents signed 10 years ago that led 5 years ago to the development of the Kyoto protocol on which there seemed to be very little, if any, action whatsoever in Canada until a sudden declaration by the Prime Minister after his pre-emptive notice of resignation this summer. Since that time, we have been subjected to a bewildering array of briefings, trial balloons, statistics, plans and, frankly, if I can be blunt, enough hot air to go along with it to warm up the planet all on its own.
We had another briefing this morning. After giving notice of this motion last night, suddenly the government comes up this morning with a document which it tabled in the House only minutes ago. That particular document obviously has not been subjected to a debate or a thorough review in the Chamber but what is interesting is that apparently in the minds of some Liberal members that document would satisfy the criteria of this motion.
Let me be absolutely clear, as I go through the motion, that is not the case. We certainly will welcome the government agreeing to proceed in the manner we lay out in our motion, but the document tabled today, which is apparently called “Climate Change Draft Plan Overview”, is woefully incomplete, uncosted almost entirely and subject to considerable more work, negotiations and agreement with other parties, governments and non-governmental organizations.
The motion speaks about the necessity of an implementation plan before ratification of Kyoto and it speaks about four elements that are necessary for an implementation plan: a true understanding of the plan among Canadians at large; targets that are achievable; costs that are laid out in detail; and finally, benefits that are clear and understood.
I will quickly go through each of these elements to underscore what we are looking for and to underscore how inadequate what we have today is in terms of what we are seeking.
My first comments will be on the understanding. We are looking for a true implementation plan. As I said, that is not what we have today. An implementation plan is not the latest version of a bunch of drafts and technical briefings that are just thrown on the table prior to a debate; although I am happy to see we at least have the government moving. A genuine implementation plan is one that is not only complete but around which considerable consensus has been built, consensus not only in the Chamber but among provinces, other levels of government and industries that will be expected to implement it, and ultimately the consumers who also will be affected. We do not have anything like that.
I should also say that an implementation plan is not simply a poll number indicating there is some sudden support for this vague concept. It is a genuine, widespread consensus. We have already seen in the province of Alberta the danger of the government suggesting that a consensus is achieved by a poll. We have seen support for the Kyoto protocol drop 45 points in the space of the last six weeks, so there is certainly no consensus in this country.
Members of the government have been complaining that all they are asking is for us to make a leap of faith similar to what was talked about in the pivotal historic debate on free trade in 1988. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is an enormous difference. In 1988 we can all concede that we did not know the full effects of the free trade agreement. However there was an absolute detailed implementation plan and document ready, in fact the document that the Mulroney government had attempted to pass through this Parliament.
We did know the implementation plan. We knew it involved withdrawals of tariffs. We knew that those and other measures caused significant cost to the government which had been documented. We knew about the establishment of panels to administer the agreement and we knew about some of the transition mechanisms that were involved in putting that agreement in place. We must say that what the government is suggesting today is nowhere near the free trade example.
All we have heard the government say is that it has some kind of plan to achieve some targets, and I will get into that later, with some kind of a checklist of up to 40 items, chief among them taxes, fines, trading credits and other paperwork, but it has not said what if any of these it will choose to implement. It has been involved, if I can be blunt, in a whole bunch of communication exercises that are a little more than smoke and mirrors. It claims one day that it will pass Kyoto with great fanfare and claim to be pro-environment. Then it turns around and has nudge-nudge, wink-wink discussions with industry, assuring it that nothing will change.
On one day particularly in my home province we have Alberta positioned and categorized as some kind of offender and villain in this entire debate. Then we read in the Globe and Mail there are secret discussions initiated by the federal government to get Alberta to be one of the first to sign on.
Everyone in the Chamber may not agree with the position of the Canadian Alliance but at least people know what we mean when we state our position. The Liberals are saying different things. They say one thing to environmental groups in order to look like environmental angels and other things to industry in order to attract and hold corporate donations. They tell Europeans that we will meet target reductions negotiated in Kyoto and then they turn around and tell Canadians that they will have ways to get around the targets that they negotiate.
Until they make real choices there is no way to assess the potential cost of implementing Kyoto upon Canadian jobs, incomes or families. I know that document will go to the provinces on Monday. There is no way the provinces at this point will be able to decide whether this is a good or bad thing for them based on it. If I can paraphrase that famous commentator, Rex Murphy, of CBC, who the other night said that the provinces could not get onboard if they wanted to. They cannot find the ship, for God's sake. I think that describes the situation.
Let me talk specifically about the issue of targets. Today the government is doing what it has done from time to time, which is to assume what we have assumed in our critique in Kyoto that the government will somehow meet the full target. The full target is, according to Kyoto, a 6% reduction in CO
emissions below 1990 levels, which works out to a projected reduction of 240 megatonnes of emissions of CO
. The government has hedged back and forth on that target and has sent mixed signals.
I will point out that today that although the document released continues to mention 240 megatonnes, 60 megatonnes are unaccounted for. The government simply has not decided in any way, shape or form how that particular group of emissions targets will be met.
We know that for months the government was claiming that it would get a credit of 70 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emission because of Canada's clean energy natural gas exports to the United States. We now know that is not correct. It is very unlikely that will happen. The government is scrambling now to fill the difference.
However it is more than just hedging on the targets themselves. It is important that Canadians understand the difference between targets that we talk about and what we are concerned about on this side, which is actual reductions. We have a bit of bureaucratic bafflegab here. They are not the same things.
Targets can be met, not by reducing CO
emissions but by engaging in emissions trading credits that ultimately will be paid for internationally. The deal today talks about two sets of emissions trading credits but I will not get into that yet. The government has said it will make all of the reductions in Canada, but today's plan talks not about making reductions but about engaging in international trading.
Obviously when we do not really know the targets the government plans to make in terms of its actual reductions, it is impossible for us to suggest what the costs will be and how we will meet them. That is the third item the motion talks about.
The biggest deficiency in the document is so glaring it is embarrassing. There is simply no costing whatsoever in the document, virtually none. In particular, there is no costing of government expenditures themselves. Given all of the deficiencies I have laid out so far, obviously the exercise of costing at this stage would be so highly speculative that the wider impacts could not be predicted and nothing could be met.
If we proceed with this and pass this motion and the government acts this way, it will have to have a fully costed plan. We make no bones about it. It is our conviction on this side of the House that we cannot in a cost effective way, in an economically sustainable way, make the entire reductions that Canada is allotted in the Kyoto accord.
Canada is looking at a projected 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. No other country in the world that is participating in this agreement has agreed to anything like that. Countries that have agreed to significantly less are having difficulty meeting their targets. We do not believe the cost will be met in any plan and that is why we will continue to push until we get a costed plan.
Let me talk a bit about how costs are impacted by the plan. One would assume that the lower the targets are, the lower the costs are. That in itself is not quite true. I will summarize the costs, and these figures are very conservative by any standards out there. Industry and the business community in this country are predicting much higher costs, but the government has estimated that between 60,000 and 250,000 jobs will be lost and expenditures and impacts on the economy will be between $5 billion and $25 billion.
If we chose to ignore the targets and simply said they could not be met because we did not get the credits we thought we were going to get and we did not get the energy exports from other countries, if Canada could simply decide not to implement those portions of the agreement contrary to the government's commitment, there is no doubt that the costs would fall. However it is very different if we are replacing the reductions with simply buying emissions trading credits from other countries.
If we replace actual reductions with purchasing emissions trading credits, the cost of this deal to Canada could rise substantially and enormously. We have no idea at all what these international trading credits would cost. We do not even know at the moment if a market for them would exist, and frankly we do not know how such a market would function.
All of this comes down to the bottom line. Forget about global costs. We still do not know even based on today's document, who exactly will pay. We do not know which provinces will pay. Will it be Alberta? There are fears it will be Alberta. Now there are fears it will be Quebec.
The government should be clear on this. It wants to point at certain big energy industries in provinces like Alberta and Quebec and say they are going to pay, but we should be under no illusions. At least 75% of carbon dioxide emissions come from the consumption of energy, not from its production. These reductions are bound to hit hardest on Canadians of poorest and most modest means.
Now I will speak about the benefits. The government speaks as it always has in very general terms about the benefits. I will go through this very quickly because I think the benefits are going to be the most controversial aspect of this deal
It is important to have some kind of basic grasp of the science. Canadians have to understand that the Kyoto accord simply deals with levels of carbon dioxide. It is not smog. It is not the smog problem in Toronto. It is not acid rain. It is a natural occurring gas we all breathe. Carbon dioxide occurs naturally in the atmosphere. In fact, 95% of all carbon dioxide on the planet occurs naturally. Only 5% is man made.
The Kyoto accord calls for reductions of around 6% over 1990 levels. For all intents and purposes, this amounts at the end of the Kyoto process to a worldwide reduction, if achieved, of less than 1% decrease in man-made carbon dioxide and one-tenth of 1% of naturally occurring carbon dioxide.
The relationship of carbon dioxide to global warming also involves complicated and complex science that is far from settled. It is a matter of significant debate. If I can cite Dr. Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who said:
But--and I cannot stress this enough--we are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to carbon dioxide or to forecast what the climate will be in the future.
We cannot predict the weather tomorrow with absolute accuracy. We certainly cannot predict the climate 100 years from now.
Models have been constructed that suggest there could well be a base line increase of about 2.5°C over 100 years. There is no particular knowledge at the moment whether that relationship has to do with natural or man-made carbon dioxide. Frankly, over the last few years we have failed to see the full rise in global temperatures that the models predict.
When the Prime Minister stands in the House and suggests that somehow Canadians will start dying from extreme heat in 30 years if this agreement is not passed, it is fearmongering. It is not a position that any credible scientist would endorse.
Let me go on with this aspect of the benefits. This is the most serious concern we should have. If we do not achieve even the reductions laid out and instead we go to trading schemes and in particular the international trading scheme, we are not achieving reductions. We are simply transferring wealth to other countries. In most countries this will be a wealth transfer to countries with far worse emissions records and far worse emissions goals than ours.
Sixty-five per cent of emissions in the world are occurring in countries that will not ratify Kyoto or are exempted from any kind of meaningful targets. It is very predictable that all this international trading scheme the government suggests it will cooperate in will do will be to shift jobs and activity and frankly, the production of CO
emissions outside Canada. It is predictable, if not certain, that global emissions will in fact end up rising because of the structure of the Kyoto accord.
I will summarize very quickly that as we said about the Charlottetown accord that was voted on about 10 years ago, it is important that Canadians know a lot more. Ten years ago we were told there was a consensus on the Charlottetown accord. We had dire warnings of what would happen if it was not passed. The consensus collapsed within a month. The deal was not passed. Of course ultimately, life has gone on and I think much better than if it had passed.
Ratification without implementation is a dangerous strategy. As long as this continues to be the government position, we are going to ensure that ratification is read by industry as assuming the worst, making assumptions the targets will be as high as they could possibly be, the costs as high as they could possibly be and the unknowns as high as they could possibly be. We will not move forward in the country on any kind of environmental package. We will simply see investment in key sectors such as the tar sands and related sectors dry up. We are already seeing that now.
The government must present us with a full implementation plan. It cannot continue to play communications and legacy games with both the environment and the economic future of Canadians.
Charles Caccia Davenport, ON
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. Leader of the Opposition and in particular to the point he made in the course of his speech about his assumption that 65% of greenhouse gas emissions are from non-signatory countries. I would like to ask him whether he has been briefed on the reasons major countries are not coming into the Kyoto agreement, namely China, India, the Philippines and Brazil? They are countries that over the years have indicated repeatedly that they consider the first step is a responsibility for the industrialized nations to show their determination to deal with the problem mainly created by industrialized nations until very recently and that in a second phase the non-signatory countries of course would join Kyoto and do their share of work.
Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB
Mr. Speaker, first, I would dispute the assertion in the hon. member's question that industrialized countries are responsible for the current problem that has been created. We do not know that there is a current problem. Quite frankly, the purpose of the Kyoto agreement as we all understand it is to deal with a problem that may occur in the future.
In that regard, we look at the developing countries that are exempt from the provisions, countries like Brazil, China and India and we see that they are already major producers. China is already the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. It is already there. It is going to be more so in the future and it is completely exempt from the provisions.
I should also point out something which should be a concern to the hon. member and to others who have a different philosophy than I do. We believe that the really critical problem is not carbon dioxide, or certainly not the primary problem, but it is pollution and the creation of smog in the Asian cloud. I would suggest that is the problem we should be dealing with first. That calls even more strongly for the inclusion of those countries in an international protocol than does this situation.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, I too listened carefully to the comments of the Leader of the Opposition. I was somewhat struck by his disregard for the science pertaining to carbon dioxide. I would certainly suggest to him that this is not a philosophical difference. This is a difference based on concern about the future of the planet and about the health and well-being of our citizens.
The Leader of the Opposition seems to have conveniently ignored the impact that inaction and not proceeding with the Kyoto accord will have on the health and well-being of Canadians. I refer him in particular to the statements and cries from the Canadian Medical Association. It has clearly indicated its support for the ratification of Kyoto because of the importance it will have to the health and well-being of Canadians. The Canadian Medical Association stated that sulfur reduction in fuels could provide significant health benefits, not only in terms of the adverse health effects that could be avoided but also the economic costs of illnesses due to these health effects.
I ask the Leader of the Opposition and the Alliance Party, why have they chosen to disregard Canadians' health and well-being?
Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB
Mr. Speaker, it always amazes me that a number of Canadians on that side of the spectrum, particularly in the NDP, seem to think they are the only people who have any concerns about living in the environment. I do not know where they think the rest of us live.
We all have fairly serious concerns about the environment and about our health. In my personal case, we are talking about the contents of the atmosphere and I have been a lifelong sufferer from asthma. I am very concerned about my respiration and how this agreement will affect my respiration.
The hon. member suggested it is very important that we reduce sulfur and sulfur based gases in the atmosphere. That is an interesting argument but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Kyoto protocol.
As I have said before, if we are to look at what we think should be done in terms of dealing with environmental problems and atmospheric change, we would put a higher priority, quite frankly internationally and domestically, on dealing with emissions of that type.