Debates of Nov. 25th, 2002
House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.
- Hazardous Products Act
- Points of Order
- Prince Alexandre de Merode
- The Grey Cup
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- Bonnie and Bob Dagenais
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- Child Poverty
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- Mayors Caucus
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- Kyoto Protocol
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- Kyoto Protocol
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
We now have quorum. Resuming debate, the hon. Minister of the Environment.
David Anderson Victoria, BC
Mr. Speaker, I was quoting the provisions of the convention that was signed on by Prime Minister Mulroney and ratified by the Government of Canada in 1992.
When we consider the words of that convention, it is clear that we are currently bound, and I quote again, “to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” by reason of a decision of the Government of Canada 10 years ago.
There was some belief at that time that the approach should be voluntary but that was quickly discovered to be an approach that did not work. Therefore there were some who said at the time that there should be a more assertive and decisive approach and that Canada should lead the way.
The spokesperson for those who back in 1992 wanted a more vigorous approach, and is still a member of the House, was the member for LaSalle--Émard. Back then he was the party's environment critic. He said at that time:
We can begin by pressing for an international convention to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 20%...We should set an example by exceeding that target at home.
Events have shown that our colleague was prescient in seeing the need for clear targets and seeing the need for determined action.
Just as he has said in the House, as we have heard him often say over the last nine years, that we should have rolling and realistic targets that keep people's feet to the fire in the fight against deficits, so he perceived 10 years ago, before many others did, that a voluntary approach on climate change with distant targets simply would not work. He understood the need to focus the mind.
In the mid-1990s, realizing the need for a more concerted effort, the UN decided to again bring the world community together in its negotiating rooms. The negotiations culminated in the Kyoto protocol in 1997.
At Kyoto our Prime Minister decided that Canada would aim for a 6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by the 2008 to 2012, the first Kyoto period, that is to have emissions at 94% of the 1990 level of those years.
Over the next four years, governments worked out a detailed implementation regime which was finalized during the meetings in Bonn and Marrakesh in 2001. During those negotiations, Canada was at the forefront of the group of countries that wanted a results oriented approach to meet the new international targets.
We succeeded in getting recognition for the role of well managed forests and agricultural lands, the role that they play in absorbing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, which had the effect of bringing our target to the 1990 level, exactly where the premiers, including Premier Ralph Klein of Alberta, had agreed it should be back in 1997. He in fact--
Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB
What happened to the agreement? Why did the federal government walk away from that agreement?
David Anderson Victoria, BC
There seems to be an awful lot of excitement from the leader of the Conservative Party. I realize that he is taking a major departure in his party's position from past practice when he was a cabinet minister making those decisions. That said, his flip-flop should not lead him to get too excited in the House.
I quote Premier Klein of Alberta speaking in Toronto at the Empire Club. He said:
For many Canadians events of the summer and fall have made the threat of global warming seem very real.
From the drought in the west to heat waves in Ontario, Canadians have had concerns about climate change. They want their government to do something to be part of the solution.
Again, if I may quote Premier Klein, he stated:
--Canadians have the know-how and the resolve to tackle this problem.
I agree with both statements by Premier Klein. I think he has stated it well. That tells me that we are in fact closer to common ground on climate change than some of the breathless headlines about the end of our economy and the end of our country would have us believe. It tells me, just as my conversations with provincial ministers, non-governmental organizations and leaders in the private sector do, that we can and have built a plan that will work in Canada. We can get results that matter from Canadians.
We succeeded in clarifying good rules to support an effective international market in carbon permits so that countries could achieve their goals with costs as low as possible. The efforts of the United Nations to achieve flexibility and results have earned in fact global support.
As of last Friday, some 97 countries around the world have ratified or otherwise formally approved of the Kyoto protocol; and, yes, as the Prime Minister has promised, Canada will join them before the end of this year.
When I use the word we to describe what Canadian representatives did at the United Nations in Kyoto, Bonn or Marrakesh and other places, I do not mean just the Government of Canada. From the beginning of the process, we have sought to develop a collaborative relationship with many Canadian partners, both to define our strategies and to achieve results. For example: meetings with the provinces on climate change as early as 1989; regular meetings, often more than once a year, of the ministers responsible for energy and the environment in 1993; and the first ministers met to discuss climate change in 1997, both before and after the Kyoto protocol.
It was then that our government and the governments of all provinces and all territories agreed to the basic principles, which have governed our approach to developing the climate change plan for Canada ever since. One of those principles is that no region of the country should bear an unreasonable burden as a result of climate change action.
As well, substantial collaborative efforts took place at the level of ministers and official representatives. There have been six meetings of the ministers of energy and the environment over the past two and a half years.
I proposed to meet with them monthly if they were interested, and senior officials have met nearly every month for the past five years. The analysis and monitoring group has played an important role in this collaborative effort.
This team of economists from both levels of government has drawn up economic models to analyze the impacts of policies and to examine the numerous versions of policy options in order to define potential economic repercussions.
The cooperation has gone much further. Ministers and officials from the provinces and territories have been part of the Canadian delegations to the international climate change meetings, including the groundbreaking ones of Kyoto, Bonn and Marrakesh. We have regularly sought their advice and input on Canada's negotiating positions.
Have we agreed on everything? No, we have not. Is that so surprising? No, it is not. I am hard pressed to remember many occasions when there has been unanimity of all 14 jurisdictions in the country on major issues which involved costs: constitutional reform, no; health care, no; and on this most complex of issues it is no different.
While there will always be ongoing discussions about how much different levels of government should pay for shared responsibilities, our government will do its part to address climate change and we will do what we can to build a workable solution with the provinces and territories. That same commitment to collaboration is true with many other partners in Canada.
We have consulted widely with industries to determine how to move forward on our international commitments in ways that would have the least negative impact on our job growth and our overall economic performance.
We have offered specific proposals and then refined and adjusted them to take new information into account. We have accepted and respected the contribution that experts who know an industry well can provide. We have done the same with all sectors of the Canadian economy.
We are working with representatives of the Canadian Labour Congress, particularly the communications, energy and paperworkers' union to address the concerns of the labour movement and on behalf of their members, the presidents of both organizations, Ken Georgetti and Brian Payne have shown great leadership on the climate change issue.
We have worked with Canada's municipal governments, 100 of which have passed resolutions in support of the Kyoto protocol. Many of them are using the green municipal funds that we set aside in the last two budgets. For example, many cities are testing greenhouse gas emission reduction ideas such as tapping methane from landfill sites and using that gas to generate electricity.
I could go on about this collaboration but the point is clear. Just as all Canadians have to be part of the solution to climate change, all sectors of society need to be engaged in mapping out and delivering on the solutions, and they are.
Perhaps some of the best evidence of this commitment to moving forward together, this desire to build consensus, is the process that led to the tabling of the climate change plan for Canada in the House last week. The plan is comprehensive, it is supported by extensive analysis and yes, it is detailed.
It builds on more than 30 specific measures from action plan 2000 by adding many more that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many of the measures and the emission reductions associated with them have been developed on the basis of the work of the 16 issues tables. Those issues tables, the technical name for them, were in fact committees of some 450 experts that included business, academic, government and non-government representatives. They worked for almost three years analyzing and developing their proposals.
The plan contains measures that will reduce emissions from transportation, housing, commercial and institutional buildings, large industrial emitters, small and medium businesses, agriculture, forestry and landfills. This will be accomplished through international investments coupled with the efforts of all Canadians.
The plan contains modeling impact data for the nine key sectors of our economy, as well as a more detailed impact analysis of the 12 sectors of the economy involved in energy production or heavy energy consumption.
The plan contains gross domestic product impact and job growth analysis for Canada and for the provinces and territories. The basic conclusions are as follows.
We have designed a plan that will have modest impacts on the overall economic growth. The economy will grow by 17.5% over the next eight years under the plan compared to an expected 18% if we do nothing to address climate change.
There will be little impact on growth. There may be 60,000 fewer jobs created over the next eight years, but given the rate at which we are creating jobs now, this is equivalent to a delay in job creation of five weeks spread over that 10 years.
There will be no appreciable impact on the average personal disposable income of Canadians. Any changes in energy prices resulting from the plan will be quite small.
The plan will have a balanced impact across the country and will meet the commitment of the first ministers that no region should bear an unreasonable burden.
Beyond that, I will leave it for others to comment on the specifics of the plan and on the actions that we are taking. I will leave the health benefits and the benefits to our cities of the actions we will take. I will leave it for others to comment on our efforts to develop a balanced and fair plan that will keep the door open for jobs at all regions and across our economy.
I do want to make clear, and take a moment or two to note that we have been working with partners and we have listened to our partners.
From the time we published our document on the options for a strategy on climate change in May of this year, to the publication of our draft plan in October, and the release of the official plan last week, we have listened and responded.
We reviewed the draft of our plan based on the concerns that were voiced, such as the need for greater certainty for business and greater clarity regarding our partnership commitments.
Many of the best examples relate to the views and concerns of industry and how to treat large industrial emitters. Based on those concerns, large industry will be asked for no more than 55 million tonnes in reductions. We will work with them to provide protection against sustained high prices for carbon on the markets. We will continue to work with them to design a system that will not disadvantage those firms that have taken early action.
There is one other major point I want to make about the climate change plan for Canada and that is the place of innovation in our plans.
I have been involved in environmental issues for more than three decades. I recall the days when those of us who wanted to see a cleaner, healthier environment were classed as the hopeless enemies of progress by those who were very comfortable with business as usual.
The hon. member for LaSalle—Émard made much the same point back in 1990 when he said, “Canada continues to regard environmental protection as a cost and really does not understand the benefits that lie therein. It does not understand that you have a far more competitive economy if you have lowered your fuel costs and if you have gone to renewable resources. The benefits have to do with a more productive and a happier population”.
The rising tide of public opinion, scientific evidence and demonstrated results have changed the attitude described in that quote. Canadians now know that a healthy environment is important. They believe that we could have a robust economy and an environment that we could enjoy as well.
Over time, people in business have discovered that they can bring the same power of innovation to environmental challenges that they have brought to their other business challenges. Governments such as our own have focused on setting realistic goals, as we have here, and then giving business the room to find the solutions that would deliver results more efficiently.
We are one of the richest countries in the world. We have the OECD's best performing economy, with projections from the OECD that Canada will stay in first place for years to come.
We have some of the best universities in the world and they in turn have some of the best minds.
We have companies that have shown what they can do when they turn their attention to solving problems. We have already seen that with climate change. Companies that want to get ahead of the curve are finding strategies that do get results for the environment and for their bottom line.
Many companies are making the first important step of making their operations more efficient when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. DaimlerChrysler Canada has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions for each vehicle it manufactures by 42%. DuPont Canada set a 10 year goal that would reduce energy use by 25% per unit. It reached that goal in less than half the time it had put aside to do so. Syncrude Canada has reduced greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of production by 26% since 1988.
That paves the way for the next step, which is to cut total emissions through wise energy use. We have examples such as Weyerhaeuser Canada's Prince Albert, Saskatchewan plant which is energy self-sufficient and which has dramatically cut its greenhouse gas emissions. Interface Inc. reduced energy consumption at its Belleville, Ontario plant by more than 35% between 1993 and 1997 while production increased 58%. Mountain Equipment Co-op's new store here in Ottawa has reduced its energy consumption by over 50%.
The point is simple. Canadian business can do it and Canadian businesses are doing it.
Our job is to develop strategies to support the power of innovation in our business and research communities. During my travels across Canada, I saw how Canadian companies and researchers can innovate. I saw all of the means at our disposal to fight climate change and set an example for the whole world. All of this has led me to firmly believe that we can make the best of these changes to create a healthier environment and a stronger economy.
May I say a few words about the role of Parliament. Members from all parties in the House were part of the Canadian delegation to the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. That was where the United Nations framework convention on climate change was finalized and opened for signature. Members of Parliament were at Johannesburg two months ago for the Rio plus 10 conference. Members of Parliament have been part of our delegations to many of the international negotiating sessions between those two events.
The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and its predecessors have, on numerous occasions, assessed the situation and options available to Canada. Members began this work in 1989. They published an interim report the following year, in 1990, and a final report in 1991. Incidentally, the title of the interim report published some 11 years ago was “No Time to Lose: the Challenge of Global Warming”.
Individual members on both sides of the House and certainly members of the government caucus have made their own important contributions to this issue and to our thinking of it.
I can say that I have appreciated the show of support and indeed there has been some none too subtle pressure associated with it most of the time. In fact, only three weeks ago seven members of the Liberal caucus stood outside these doors and had a press conference stating their wish that the Government of Canada ratify the protocol.
That is what Canadians expect of their representatives here in Ottawa. They look to their members of Parliament to speak on behalf of the communities that the MPs represent, but they also expect their members of Parliament to think about the national interest. That is what we are doing here today. We are making decisions in the national interest for decades to come.
We cannot forever continue to indulge in the polemics of paralysis of talking about decisions instead of making them. Yes, we represent individual ridings, but this is the place where we must ultimately ask what is best for Canada and what is best for future generations of Canadians. Indeed, the question really is what is best for the world.
Let me say I am glad that we can count on the support of the New Democratic Party for this motion. In the same way, I appreciate the support that I anticipate from the Bloc Quebecois.
I should also point out that the entrenched opposition of the Canadian Alliance comes as no surprise. Speaking as a British Columbian who has been a member of both my provincial legislature and the federal Parliament, I accept no lectures from the official opposition on western perspectives. To the extent that the Alliance has a coherent view on this issue, it appears to be driven by the most parochial perspective possible.
Given a chance to show national perspective, the official opposition in this national Parliament once again shows that it is just not up to the mark. The Alliance just cannot reach out to the vast majority of Canadians throughout the country who recognize that climate change is a real issue that requires real action. Instead, we get a parochial view of one segment of one industry. There is no national vision, no understanding of the constructive role that Canada can and should play.
I have left the Progressive Conservatives until the last, not just because the right hon. leader of the Progressive Conservatives was so noisy earlier on in my speech. Whatever he may think about former Prime Minister Mulroney, Prime Minister Mulroney grasped the importance of the climate change issue early. In that, Mr. Mulroney showed leadership. In fact, let me remind the Tory caucus and the current Tory leader that Prime Minister Mulroney got it right when he said in 1992:
No country, acting alone, can meet this global challenge. We will only solve these problems by cooperating with others.
Mr. Mulroney was right and I said that in the House last week. What we are doing in this debate today is moving forward on a policy approach which he began.
I ask the Progressive Conservatives in the House, how will they handle the legacy of the former prime minister and their former leader? While the antipathy of the present leader of the Conservative Party to Mr. Mulroney is well known, let me make it clear that he too as foreign affairs minister in the Mulroney government was very much part of those climate change decisions before 1993. He too is on the record as supporting his government's position and in support of the United Nations framework convention on climate change.
Are we to see yet again another of his famous flip-flops as he chases after the Alliance position once more? I hope not because certainly the Progressive Conservative Party deserves better.
The impressive and growing weight of scientific evidence says that we must take action on climate change, not some day, not in the future, but now and not through half measures but in a comprehensive way. It must not be based on what is convenient but based on stretching our imagination and our capabilities.
Our government is determined to build on the record of action that gets results. We are committed to actions that will enhance the quality of life for Canadians and people around the world. This will be a national effort. To get it we will continue to seek out the common ground with provinces and territories, business, the labour movement, the academic community and our colleges and universities, church groups, environmental groups and most important with the Canadian people. We will continue to listen to how we can reach our international commitments more effectively.
It is time for us to turn the page on the issue of ratification. It is time for us to move on to getting real results in real timeframes.
I am proud to move the adoption of this resolution and ask this House to urge the government to ratify the Kyoto protocol now.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
Before resuming debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Acadie--Bathurst, Health.
Business of the House
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
I have received notice from the hon. member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca that he is unable to attend his motion during private members' business on Tuesday, November 26.
It has not been possible to arrange an exchange of positions in the order of precedence. Accordingly I am directing the Table officers to drop that item of business to the bottom of the order of precedence. Private members' business will thus be cancelled tomorrow and the House will continue with the business before it prior to private members' business.
The House resumed consideration of the motion
Bob Mills Red Deer, AB
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to ask for the unanimous consent of the House to ask the minister questions?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
Does the House give its consent?
Some hon. members
Some hon. members
Bob Mills Red Deer, AB
Mr. Speaker, that says it all in terms of consultation with the Canadian public and questions that might need to be asked of the minister. That is like the public meetings that he has where there is a set list--
Sarkis Assadourian Brampton Centre, ON
We have business to do here.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)
Order, please. Resuming debate, the hon. member for Red Deer.
November 25th, 2002 / 4:40 p.m.
Bob Mills Red Deer, AB
Mr. Speaker, the point I am making is that this is like the public consultations which have gone on where there is a set list of people to attend and they are given a canned presentation about the pros of Kyoto. No one from the other side is invited. The media and the public are not allowed to attend. That is the government's public consultation.
The minister went through all this in June at 14 different meetings before he went on the sky is falling tour of the summer where he was Chicken Little running across the country trying to scare people.
It stands to reason that he would not stand in the House and answer any questions of members who might want to talk about the fluffy speech he just gave.
He talks about the Liberals way, how it is great and how wonderful they feel. I have come to learn that what the Liberals really are. They are people who take the responsibility of the world on their shoulders, say that it is terrible, come up with an agreement, then talk a lot and do absolutely nothing. That is exactly what we have seen here.
The environment auditor general commented about the Liberal way as well. The government is not investing enough of its human or financial resources, its legislative or regulatory and economic powers or its political leadership to fulfill its sustainable development commitments. The result is a growing environmental health and financial burden that our children will have to beat. That is an evaluation of the government.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak here today, and in the future, and talk about the importance of Kyoto. I want to start off by setting the stage as to why I am so involved with this issue. I believe it is an issue that will affect more Canadians than probably anything we have done in the House, certainly in the going on 10 years that I have been here.
To provide some credibility on the environmental issue, I should say a little about myself. That will set the stage as to where I will go in my speech.
As a young person, being raised in Saskatchewan, I was a member of the Saskatchewan Natural History Society and was on the editorial board of the Blue Jay , its environmental magazine. I was involved with some notable biologists of the time banding birds. I was the young guy they would have crawl up the trees and crawl around on the cliffs to band eagles and various types of birds. I was the guy who used to take people on tours of the sharp-tailed grouse dancing grounds, through their mating procedure. I was involved with Christmas bird counts and many books and reviewed articles related to biology later on in my career. I was avid environmentalist and still believe today that I have an environmental conscience.
Our party has an environmental conscience and we care about this subject very deeply, unlike the shallow nature of what we just heard with a bunch of fluffy talk and absolutely no commitment.
In university I went on to major in biology with a minor in history. I worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service through the summers. I was involved with a particular project on sandhill cranes and followed their migration. I did a paper on that and a lot of research into behavioural patterns and so on.
I worked from Big Grass Marsh in Manitoba on through Saskatchewan and Alberta and was involved in habitat protection, consulting farmers and so on. Ultimately, after my biology degree, I ended up going back to university and doing a project on sandhill cranes.
Finally, deciding that bureaucracy was not for me, I decided to teach biology. From that I had a fascinating career. I was involved in teaching young people, involving them in a love of nature and understanding of the balances that existed in nature. I was also involved in looking at the impacts that humans had through dams and various types of projects.
At that time, I was also very active on the parks board for a number of years. I cannot help but take some pride in the trail system and the protection of natural areas in my city of Red Deer.
I remember as well two very notable people in my life: a lady named Ethel Taylor who was the perpetual NDP candidate in our constituency but was a councillor and a very active environmentalist; and Margaret Parsons, a member of a well known family and the wife of a doctor. Among those two councillors and myself we managed to protect an awful lot of the environmental areas around the central Alberta area, and I take a great deal of pride in that. As the city has grown, it too has taken pride in that and that has become a major selling point for our community.
As well, I was involved actively in the eastern slopes. We have some of the most beautiful areas possible. Straight west of Red Deer is one of the most beautiful parts of this country. I often brag that I represent the most beautiful constituency in Canada, from the city of Red Deer through to the B.C. border.
With that in mind, I think this gives me some credibility and background over a number of years to say that I have shown a real care for the environment. I also have studied this accord for the last year and a half as the senior environment critic. I have never been so convinced of anything in my whole life that this is the wrong way to go in dealing with climate change and pollution. Over the course of the next few days, I hope to tell the House exactly what we should do, instead of what the Kyoto accord is all about. That is what I will attempt to do.
First, there is not a Canadian out there who does not care about the air, the water, the soil, the food they eat and the safety of that food. The polls say that people care. I am really surprised sometimes when I see that only 90% of people care. I really cannot imagine what the other 10% are thinking if they do not care about their environment. When we develop a policy, we need to be sure that we consult with Canadians, and that is one of our biggest problems.
However let us start with the clear policy. Anything I have heard over the last year and a half from the government has been anything but clear on where it is going with Kyoto, what its objectives are, what its targets are and what it wants to achieve.
Let us look at the Liberal record on some of these issues. We can start with the pollution of the air. Some members are clapping. We could go on for several days talking about this record, but let us just use a couple of examples.
Let us talk about the 45 smog days in downtown Toronto. Let us see what the government has done to help with that. Kyoto is not about those smog days in Toronto. It is not about particulate matter. It is not about all those other things that we call smog. The government conveniently has meshed those two together, and I believe the people in Toronto think that Kyoto is a solution to those smog days.
Let us move on to the Fraser Valley. It is the second most polluted area in Canada. This area now has health problems that are higher by hundreds of percentages than anywhere else in Canada. This includes asthma and all kinds of other things. Let us examine what the federal government has done in that area. The state of Washington has approved a power plant called Sumas 2. There are 12 other plants in various stages of being approved.
These power plants would be built right on the border between Washington State and British Columbia. They would draw their water from the aquifers in Canada. They would put their sewage into the Sumas River which goes into Canada. The prevailing winds would blow the pollution into Canada and of course we would sell them the gas but in exchange for that they would put the power lines down Main Street of Abbotsford because they do not allow high tensile power lines over populated areas in Washington State, but it is fine to put them in Canada.
Let us examine what is happening here. This is the Liberal government that did not get involved in the Washington State hearings. I was allowed to be an intervenor on behalf of the Canadian people and testify. The minister said that he knew the governor well and that he would write him a letter.
I do not know whether the letter was sent or not but he obviously did not have very much influence on Governor Locke because the governor approved this thing. Let us examine what we have here. We have a 660 megawatt power plant being built. We would get the air pollution into the second worst air shed in Canada. We would get the sewage, lose water from our aquifers, and get the high tensile power lines coming down Main Street, Abbotsford, then out to the coast and down to California.
What would Washington State get? It would get the jobs, the profit, and would not have the pollution and all of the problems. What would California get. It would get the energy because it does not allow any kind of power plants like that in its jurisdiction because it is too harmful to health.
This is the Liberal government's involvement. I applied to the National Energy Board to be an intervenor at those hearings on behalf of the Canadian people as the senior environment critic for Canada. What happened? I was turned down. Why was I turned down by the NEB? I was turned down because I do not live in British Columbia and the area. It let the Alberta government be an intervenor because the company said it was okay, but it said the company objected to me being an intervenor because I was opposed to the project.
That is how the government caves in. This is the feel good, be good and happy Liberal type of thing. It is phony as a three dollar bill because there is the proof of it. There will be 11 other projects. What will the government do about the air pollution in the Fraser Valley? It will be doing nothing about it. It talks about having clean air and that it cares about the health of children. There are hundreds of thousands of people there who will be affected and the government is doing absolutely nothing.
It says it cares about the air. I can give examples of where it has failed. We could ask the member from the Windsor area about southern Ontario. He has showed me many medical reports about the damage done to the health of the people of that area and how the government has done little or nothing to care about the most polluted area in southern Ontario.
When we are talking about air pollution we could talk about the biogas that is being used throughout the world. I had the privilege of being in Berlin and examining its biogas project. There are six big vessels for the sewage from Berlin. It is fermented in the vessels. The vessels capture the methane gas which is then used as fuel for incinerating garbage. The water from the sewage is heated and sold in pipes throughout the entire downtown Berlin area. It is run by a private company and it makes a profit.
I was amazed by the project and asked how long the authorities had been doing it. The answer was 40 years or 50 years. If the government cared about fixing the air problems we would see it taking some action on biogas.
It is interesting that the little town of Olds, just outside of my constituency, is looking at a digester. I was told yesterday in Hamilton that there is a digester already in operation in Ontario and I was invited to see it in Thunder Bay. These things are happening but not because of the Liberal government. They are happening because of the common sense of people who realize they must do something about their air because the government does not give a damn about that air.
What about water? Let us look at raw sewage. Is it not interesting that the minister lives in Victoria and represents Victoria, and that city dumps its sewage into the ocean? Is it not interesting that St. John's and Halifax do the same? Is it not interesting that about every other year, the federal government announces that it will do something about it but nothing ever happens? There is no leadership. There is no commitment. The government does not care about the water.
Regarding the whole issue of approval of landfills by the provinces and municipalities, where is the federal government in the research and in the provision of some guidance in this whole process? It is nowhere. Members across the way say it is at the provincial or municipal level. That is what they always do. They show no leadership, no guidance or work with anybody. They go bullying off on their own like they are doing with Kyoto. Instead of landfills we should be looking at incinerators, recycling, composting, and there are lots of examples across the country. These members are not environmentalists; they are phonies when it comes to the environment. They like to talk a lot but not do anything.
What about our groundwater? Our groundwater has not been mapped. We do not know whether our water tables are in a positive or negative charge. We have no idea. The government is not committed to finding out about groundwater. Sumas is a perfect example. We are letting a U.S. corporation take the groundwater and use it to pollute our environment. What kind of sense does that make?
I could take the rest of today talking about the government failures: the baby steps in the Great Lakes or the Sydney Tar Ponds, the uranium mines in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and the first nations water quality. All of these would be examples of Liberal talk but no action. When they take on an environmental issue it is pretty suspect as to whether much will actually happen. There is a lot of talk, a lot of feel good and be happy, but not a heck of a lot of commitment or action. Many people would agree that Kyoto is somewhat along those same lines.
Regarding Kyoto, most people remember what happened in the House, that questions were asked prior to December 1997. Members in the House asked the Liberals what their plan and strategy were, what was Kyoto, and what was the agreement all about? The Liberals were asked what guarantee we had that we would be able to live up to this plan?
There was a conference in Regina with the provinces. The provinces were told one week prior to Kyoto that the Liberals would not sign anything that would damage the provinces or affect them. This was just one of those climate change things that came out of the Rio conference of 1992. It was not really that important, it would not have that much of an effect. In the course of the next few days the provinces would get all of the details on Kyoto and would examine it step by step; examine the PowerPoint presentation of the government, and would examine it line by line to see how effective it would be in dealing with these environmental issues.
The government talks a lot about guarantees and states that no one would be hurt. Where will it get the money to do all of these things?
Most important of all is the fact that the Australians went to Kyoto with a plan. They indicated in their plan that Australia was a big country. It did not have a very good transportation infrastructure. It had a growing population and quite a bit of immigration so it could not do better than 8% above the 1990 levels.
Does Canada not have a growing population? Do we not have a lot of immigration? Are we not a big country? Are we not in the same category as Australia? As a matter of fact, Canada is bigger. We do not have the infrastructure. I cannot get a train to go to the next city if I want to. We have the second coldest climate in the world. What did our negotiators not understand about that? How did they think we could get to minus 6% from 1990 levels? I will tell the House how it happened.
The Prime Minister was set on beating the Americans. The Prime Minister does not like Americans much. He said we should go one better than them. Guess what happened? The Americans went minus 5% and Canada said minus 6%. That is how we got to minus 6%. Since then the U.S. and Australia have both said they could not achieve those targets because they would damage their economy too much. They would not hit those targets so therefore they would not ratify Kyoto. Here we are, the Boy Scouts, agreeing to minus 6% below 1990 levels.
Most people would agree that with these targets no one has really developed a plan. What kind of plan would we need to achieve these targets? How much would it cost? Where would the money come from? Nobody has dealt with those issues, and certainly this plan has not done that.
Let me give the House an idea of where I have been asking questions. I asked questions in Vancouver, Alberta and Saskatchewan. I did townhall meetings in those cities. I asked questions in Halifax and throughout Ontario. Yesterday I was in Hamilton where I asked individuals what Kyoto was? It was amazing to see a standing room only crowd in that auditorium. More interesting than anything was a breakfast meeting in Victoria 10 days ago which was once again sold out. I will tell members what those people told me.
It was just amazing what those people asked. There are four things that people ask right across the country, in town hall after town hall, in talk show after talk show. They ask what is Kyoto? How does Kyoto affect me? Will it help the environment? Is there some other way? Once they have the first three answers, they ask that question. They ask those four questions and we need to give them some answers. The government has not made much of an attempt to do that.
Yesterday I was pretty shocked that the audience really did not know what Kyoto was about. Some knew it was a city in Japan. Some knew it was some kind of environmental agreement. Most of them thought that if we ratified Kyoto we would not have a pollution problem any more, that it would solve little Johnny's asthma. We care about little Johnny's asthma, we care about clean water and we care about the health of Canadians. Most people thought that was Kyoto.
As we get into looking at Kyoto page by page, line by line, we will find out what Kyoto really is about. It is not about health and little Johnny's asthma; it is in fact about climate change, about global warming and about carbon dioxide. A lot of people thought carbon dioxide was what came out of the exhaust of a car. They were mixing it up with carbon monoxide, but most people are not scientists.
One fellow who worked at the Ford Windstar plant down the road from Hamilton jumped up and said, “I work there. This is going to affect my job. I never knew that. I did not think it would affect me. I thought it was some international agreement that would fix little Johnny's asthma, that would not cost me anything and that certainly would not threaten my job”. The automobiles that he builds at work are not environmentally friendly. Obviously the minister would say that they have to make something half that size, that driving something big like that obviously will not allow them to achieve their Kyoto targets.
When it comes to the question of what is Kyoto, we will examine what people think. That is what I have found across the country.
As far as the question of how it affects people, most people feel it does not affect them at all. It is not going to raise their energy costs. It is not going to raise the cost of electricity. It is not going to have any effect on them at all, except to fix the health problems. Obviously once they start examining that issue, that changes pretty dramatically as well.
Does it help the environment? If we were to deal with pollution, yes we could help the environment a lot. I started off in my introduction showing the lack of commitment for real environmental improvement. There are many countries that have been successful in fixing the environment. Whether we talk about Denmark, Germany, Japan or the U.S., there are lots of countries that are doing a lot for the environment. We have a lot of entrepreneurs who could do a lot more with a bit of government encouragement. When we look into whether it is really going to change the environment or change how things are, we will find the answer is not very positive.
Is there a better way? Darn right there is a better way. There is a made in Canada way and I want to explore that in depth. That made in Canada way is not just the Alberta plan. The made in Canada way is a much broader approach. I would need days and days to go through some of that information.
Why is there so much confusion around the whole Kyoto issue? Why are the polls dropping in terms of support? Why are 71% of Canadians saying they think we should have the cooperation of the provinces and they should know more about it? When we ask an audience, they all up their hands and say they want to know more about the Kyoto accord. Why has there been so much confusion?
First, the government and a number of environmental groups have been in bed together, as the minister said, for a lot of years. The minister and the Liberal government have made a habit of trucking them around the world to various conferences. The minister makes sure that they have good tax deductions so that any donations are tax deductible. He has even given the Federation of Canadian Municipalities $250 million for green projects. He does a lot of things to get people onside. That information is being put out by these groups because they owe something to the minister.
There has been a real skilful job of mixing health and Kyoto, of mixing pollution and Kyoto. It has been very well done. Most people really do believe that signing Kyoto will have major health results. Of course, if we look at Kyoto, Kyoto by itself is not about that. Kyoto is about CO
, climate change and global warming. That is what it is there for.
We should deal with both of these issues. I want to make that extremely clear. The minister implied that we do not want to deal with this issue. He is totally, absolutely 100% wrong. We want to deal with these two issues, but let us deal with the issues and let us be honest with Canadians and with the provinces.
The provinces made it fairly clear in Halifax. They set out their 12 requirements and expected the federal government at least to respond to them. They wanted a first ministers meeting. Is it too much to ask to have a first ministers meeting, to sit down with the ministers and discuss those 12 points? I do not think so, because all of the provinces and territories agreed.
The other thing we are looking at is why there is so much confusion. How bad the doomsday scenario is that the minister goes with depends on where he is in the country. I cannot help but remember when he said in Calgary at the university that even if we implemented Kyoto it probably would not make much difference in the next 100 years.
That was in Calgary, but certainly here it is quite a different story. His doomsday scenario consists of floods, ice storms, droughts, pestilence, infection and people dying of heat. He implies, depending on where he is in the country, that ratifying Kyoto would end all of that. All of sudden we would not have any more floods, ice storms, droughts, pestilence and so on.
We can examine the scientific evidence about droughts in the Prairies. It consists of a number of university studies of pond areas and core samples taken from deep into the earth. They examined the climate that had gone on for the last couple of thousand years and found that there have been many periods of drought in western Canada. In fact once in the 17th century there was a drought that lasted 70 years. In the last few centuries, the droughts have been getting shorter and shorter. If we get two or three years of drought, that becomes more the law than the other way.
When the minister implies that we will have no more droughts, I am not exactly sure how he will arrange that simply by ratification of Kyoto. I do not know who he has connections with that he will pull that off, but obviously he has.
As far as pestilence is concerned, West Nile virus and various types of malaria were common in past history. They could flare up at any time. With increased transportation and people moving from all parts of the world, it is only natural that is going to happen. To say that it is all related to signing or not signing Kyoto is totally misleading the Canadian public.
The importance of this debate is it gives us an opportunity to zero in on what the accord is all about and on many of the mistruths and wrong statements that have been made by the government, by its ministers and by the Prime Minister.
As I mentioned, I am quite surprised because I have been able to listen to the minister in different centres. It is interesting how the message differs wherever one happens to be. I guess that is politics but when we are dealing with something as important as little Johnny's asthma and climate change, it would seem to me that one would want to have the same message, believe it and go out and give that to Canadians.
Let us talk about climate change. What is it? We all know that the temperature has increased in the last 100 years. We know that the amount of CO
has increased in the last 100 years. We also know that there have been eight ice ages, that there have been eight interglacial ice periods. I am sure all members would agree that we cannot really predict the weather for tomorrow, let alone for 100 or 1,000 years from now. I cannot believe that the minister really believes that we are going to be able to do that.
I am going through some definitions here so that in the course of the next few days we will be able to discuss and use these definitions.
What are greenhouse gases? Obviously, 97% of greenhouse gases is made up of water and water vapour in the form of clouds, water and so on. We have to remember that the other 3% is made up of a major gas, CO
, methane, ozone, and a number of other things.
The important thing is that greenhouse gases are necessary for our very survival. The earth is kept warm by greenhouse gases. It would be 37°C cooler if we did not have them and we would not have life on earth without those greenhouse gases. There is a lot of science out there that might disagree with those who say that carbon dioxide is the evil one.
We also need to understand and know what the IPCC is. The minister made reference to it and talked about it as if it was something pretty important to him. I will go through a few chapters of a book to explain it exactly. I know the member on the other side looks forward to it and will be sure to be here tomorrow so he can understand better what the IPCC models are. It is very important and I know he will enjoy understanding the modelling.
The top 200 scientists have finally zeroed in on 40 models. These models are pretty interesting. The member probably will not sleep tonight waiting to find out about them but I am going to make him wait until tomorrow. They put different factors into the modelling and came out with totally different results. Some of those results are 5°C higher in the next 100 years; some of them are colder than that.