House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was salmon.

Topics

The House resumed from May 2, consideration of the motion.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

June 17th, 2005 / 1:30 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the motion regarding climate change and Kyoto. It is a very important topic, one which I hope all members of the House are taking very, very seriously.

I want to focus on our strong interest in working in much closer partnership with a full range of stakeholders across society as an essential aspect of making progress on climate change. This is required for the development of a truly national response to this challenge.

Climate change is an issue that can either bring the world community together or push us further apart. The choice is ours to make. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, it is either all or nothing, or better, all or none, because we are talking about people in this case. We need to do this in order to draw on the respective strengths and capacities of all constituencies across Canada.

Meeting our emissions gap of some 270 megatonnes will not be achieved without considerable action on the part of all regions and stakeholders.

In our climate change efforts to date, it has been extremely challenging to lever significant changes in a society with a GDP in excess of $1 trillion a year and with expenditures in the order of hundreds of millions per year.

We recognize that we need to move forward with an approach that fully engages provinces, territories, communities, industry, business, as well as individual Canadians if we are to be successful in meeting our Kyoto obligations in a manner that fully advances our economic interests.

In looking to partner with provinces and territories, the federal government clearly recognizes that it does not have jurisdiction in all policy areas that are relevant to climate change mitigation. Our collective efforts need to intersect to provide financial and policy support to drive economic competitiveness while simultaneously addressing urban air quality concerns, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring greater social equity across our communities.

Provincial support and policy alignment are essential for effectively managing our climate change responsibilities, not only in terms of electricity regulation and building codes, but in terms of research and development, in terms of land use intensification and transportation policy, in terms of public transit promotion, and in terms of supportive policy for sustainable rural development, agriculture, forestry and industry.

We can provide incentives to encourage the adoption of far more efficient vehicles, but we need the cooperation of provinces to provide the owners of these vehicles with preferential access to high occupancy vehicle lanes to speed their commute to work, or better yet, to encourage their owners to work from home several days per week.

We need to move forward with all provinces and territories in the areas of clean energy development, energy end use efficiency, renewable energy development, waste reduction, public transit expansion, smart growth, rural development, and dovetailing incentives and disincentives to drive the behaviours that they want. I think the scope for improvements is enormous in this case.

Greater cooperation with industry and business is also needed in moving forward with our climate change objectives. There remains considerable untapped potential in this domain as well.

In a carbon constrained world, business as usual is not a viable option. Industry and business must focus on adding as much value to our resource base as possible while meeting legitimate public expectations for a clean and healthy environment and the continued provision of good paying jobs.

The federal government can assist in a variety of ways, including targeted support through research and development of next generation manufacturing technologies and with the provision of market intelligence that allows for market expansion and product export.

Our progress on smart regulation and in streamlining decision making could also help in this regard. No one benefits by wasted efforts or regulatory inefficiency.

There will be huge markets opening internationally as a result of carbon constraints. We need to ensure that we benefit to the maximum extent possible in positioning our economy to thrive over the longer term.

Market incentives can be designed to encourage the application and deployment of far more efficient technologies and far better designs that entail lower operating costs and environmental burdens without incurring large social costs that are borne outside market transaction by innocent third parties.

The recent announcements concerning large facility emitters, the technology investment fund and the auto industry, along with the introduction of the climate fund, have set the table to allow the private sector to become fully engaged in exploiting the opportunities inherent in the climate change agenda and to better manage the risks inherent in their existing operations.

Through the new deal for cities and communities, we anticipate ongoing investments of a portion of the federal gas tax revenues toward more sustainable municipal infrastructures across Canada. These investments can further Canada's objectives on climate change by promoting more efficient use of water resources, smarter and more energy efficient patterns of urban development, far more efficient public transportation networks, and by capturing landfill gas that would otherwise escape to the environment and combusting it to produce electricity and heat for use by local utilities and industry. There was a very important announcement this very day with regard to these matters in the province of Ontario.

Addressing climate change will require a concerted effort over decades. The growing international marketplace in a carbon constrained future will pose huge opportunities for clean and resource efficient technologies in all fields of human endeavour. Effectively addressing the issue requires leadership at all levels of society, but we need to begin the transformation now.

The pathways forward are known. Energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy, renewable transportation, covenants with industry, restorative agriculture and forestry, investments in R and D and innovation, and adjustment of the tax system to foster sustainability figure prominently in national strategies on climate change.

As we move forward in the next number of months on climate change, we will make concerted efforts to far better align our interests at the federal level with those of the provinces and territories, with those of industry and business, with those of consumers and communities, and those of the professions.

We anticipate having a far more directed ask, where each participant in the process brings something to the table and agrees to make binding commitments. Engagement will be encouraged and will be a prerequisite for gain sharing.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, while weighing our Conservative priorities and policies, my thoughts actually went to two important principles.

In this case, these two important principles are in conflict. The first principle is of course the division of powers and the respecting of provinces. The second is the national and international effects of Kyoto and how best in this case to deal with that issue.

In all issues of conflict a balance needs to be struck. On this particular issue I think there needs to be a real balance struck between the competing interests and what is ultimately going to benefit all Canadians.

While the Conservative Party does of course support the division of powers as set out in the Constitution, we must also recognize the larger picture of the planet and of course the international treaty, which in this case is Kyoto.

In respecting provinces and provincial jurisdiction, the Conservative Party understands that the provinces want that control of what they should have: the powers that they were originally given in the division of powers under the BNA Act. Of course, they have been infringed over the last 50 years, primarily by the Liberal government taking over many of the jurisdictional powers of the provinces.

We further encourage provinces and provincial governments to take the initiative in issues that cross provincial and federal jurisdiction, such as this particular issue. For example, Alberta is proceeding with its own climate change plan and other provinces are working with provincial and federal departments to make changes to implement Kyoto strategies most effectively for the particular province.

However, the waste demonstrated by the Liberals today when it comes to the administration of their Kyoto file has members of the Conservative Party extremely concerned.

In weighing the two competing interests in this case, we have come to the conclusion that implementation of Kyoto in just one province or in one province at a time would be undesirable, as it would lead to inconsistencies and instabilities in the Kyoto protocol itself and would jeopardize our international commitments, which are so important to the world at large and of course to most Canadians.

Therefore, the Conservative Party cannot support this motion.

We believe that the Kyoto targets are unrealistic and unattainable at this stage, only because there has been total inaction by the Liberal government over the past 12 years. As Sierra Club director John Bennett has said, the only reason Canada will have to spend $5 billion over the next five years purchasing hot air overseas is because of no action since 1992.

As such, the Conservative Party cannot support a motion that would lead to Kyoto implementation in one province while ignoring the rest of Canada's concerns. We prefer a made in Canada solution. We prefer a North American solution.

Because this motion deals with two very important issues, respect of provincial powers and Kyoto, I would like to talk a little about each issue.

The Conservative Party believes in federalism. There is no doubt that we believe in the federal system. As government, the Conservative Party would restore the proper and legal constitutional balance between the federal and the provincial and territorial governments.

The Conservative Party is committed to the federal principle and to the notion of strong provinces within Canada, which will make for a stronger united Canada. A Conservative government would work cooperatively with the provinces to improve the lives of Canadians while still respecting the balance of powers.

A Conservative government would ensure that the use of federal spending power in provincial jurisdictions is limited to what provinces actually want. Provinces would be able to use the opting out formula with full compensation if they want to opt out of any new or modified federal program in areas of shared or exclusive jurisdiction.

With regard to the Kyoto accord itself, the Conservative Party has solid policies in that area, such as the following: long term energy framework policies, an environmental principle policy, clean air principles, and of course respect of international treaties.

There is no question in this case that Canada has some unique natural economic advantages. We have an abundance of fossil fuels, an abundance of hydro power generation, some of the world's best wind regimes for wind power, and other renewable and non-renewable sources.

The Conservative Party, if government, would develop a renewable and non-renewable energy framework that takes into account our unique differences in Canada and our outstanding obligations, which would meet our long term requirements for domestic consumption and export, not just the short term requirements but the long term requirements.

In essence, we need to keep our economy hot but, at the same time, clean up the 30,000 contaminated sites across Canada that are making Canadians sick every single day. We need to eliminate smog and at the same time protect the world through reducing climate change.

The Conservative Party believes that strengthening the energy market integration will ensure greater reliability of energy supplies across Canada and, most important, will secure our economic and environment future, another balance that we have to strike.

A Conservative government would explore ways to reduce barriers, which I believe in this case the motion speaks to, in particular to the movement of energy products across provincial and other borders.

A Conservative government would initiate a review of all environment and energy initiatives, including the Kyoto protocol and our targets. We would also adopt a new environmental strategy at the international level to actually get results, not just to spread more hot air.

Talk is cheap; results take planning, effort, strategy and innovation. The Conservative Party, through our members, has those initiatives.

We would reduce CO

2

by reducing government talk and rhetoric and concentrate on getting results. We would legislate caps on smog causing pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic components.

We learned recently that in Ontario alone 5,000 people will die from smog related diseases just this year. It is incredible.

As a Conservative government we would negotiate power plant and smoke stack emission limits with the United States and the northern border states, which we see as a very important step in this process. Of course, most obviously, we would begin by building a good relationship with our friends in the United States, instead of using name calling or sarcasm.

Lastly, before entering into any new major international treaties or undertakings, a Conservative government would ensure that Parliament and this House is fully informed, and that we have full debate and discussion of those issues before binding action is taken. We would not do any backroom deals. We would deal with the people who represent the people.

This speaks to the motion itself and, more important, it shows respect. The provinces would be fully consulted and respected if such treaties were to have a direct effect on the authority and finances of the provinces themselves in their areas of responsibility, which of course this does, and it would be respectful to do so.

The Conservative Party, however, in this case, opposes Motion No. 162, not because we do not respect provincial jurisdiction, but because this is an issue of national and international critical importance that has lagged far behind in the last 12 years because of inaction by the Liberal government. There is no question that Kyoto targets are just simply unreasonable and unobtainable at this stage because nothing has been done.

Again, this is not an issue confined to Quebec, to Alberta, to the Northwest Territories or to Newfoundland and Labrador. This is an issue of national and international importance and it needs a national solution taking into account national economic and geographic considerations which are tied to all provinces and territories, not just one, because we are a unique country with unique needs across the country.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, after listening to the last two speakers, I think that, finally, with the Bloc Québécois, we are hearing the voice of reason. I know that the Chair may not comment on this, but it may find it interesting all the same. I hope that the other colleagues will reconsider their position on Motion M-162, which was introduced in a very timely fashion by my colleague from Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

I want to read this motion to ensure that my colleagues understand it:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should cede to the government of Quebec, with full financial compensation, complete responsibility for implementing the Kyoto Protocol within its jurisdiction.

The Conservative member who preceded me was talking out of both sides of his mouth. He said he could not support this motion, but twice in his speech—I was listening closely—he said that if the Conservatives won the next election, they would let the provinces opt out with full financial compensation if a federal measure were unsuitable. I heard this twice. However, his party opposes Motion M-162. This is quite contradictory. Perhaps, after I speak, the Conservatives will change their position.

To put it simply, this motion is the result of the futility of Project Green, which I now call the Liberal government's project red. This plan was tabled on April 13. It is filled with contradictions. It has raised numerous concerns, not only for the Bloc Québécois, but also the Quebec government, the three parties in Quebec's National Assembly, environmental groups and all those working to keep our planet, air and water clean. These people are very concerned about the plan tabled by the Minister of the Environment on April 13.

Project Green does not allow Canada to fulfill its commitments for 2008-12. If there is one thing about the environment that everyone agrees on, it is that the federal government's approach to implementing the Kyoto protocol is a dismal failure. Have the objectives been achieved? I want to take a few minutes to talk about this.

The objective was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% between 2008 and 2010. What actually happened was that in recent years there has been a 20% increase in greenhouse gas emissions. In order to meet its objectives, the government will now have to decrease emissions by 30%. Because of the Liberal government's lackadaisical attitude, we are a long way from the 6% we ought to have achieved in the next few years.

The focus of the plan at this time is more on polluter-paid than polluter-pay. The proof of this lies in some of the programs included in this plan. The Liberal Government's climate change action fund is such that the taxpayers' money ends up being used to help out polluters. These polluting companies now wanting to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions—which is normal, everyone must do their part—will have an opportunity to use the money of the taxpayers, that is all of us, to implement a plan to achieve that objective.

This plan also favours companies which are in a position to make major reductions. This disadvantages others which have made reductions at their own expense for some years. In Quebec there are many such industrial and manufacturing companies.

For example, on one of my tours I met with representatives of cement companies right here in Ottawa. They told me they had already been involved in measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for some years. If that is the case, and improvements have been achieved, too bad, because the federal government will not make any effort to compensate them for past costs.

Companies that have done nothing all these years, and now have no choice, are going to be able to attain their objective by helping themselves from the taxpayers' pockets. That is absolutely unfair, I am sure we agree.

There is another program, the partnership fund, which will be used to fund the closing of coal-fired plants in Ontario. Once again, Quebec taxpayers' money will be used to finance this, when these same taxpayers have borne the whole cost of constructing hydroelectric plants themselves.

It cost a fortune, but we are very proud of it. We are happy that our taxes were used to construct hydroelectric plants. The problem, however, lies in the fact that we have heard that they will now be used to pay for the closure of coal plants in Canada's richest provinces. We have no choice. But we paid for our hydroelectric plants ourselves. Everyone is wondering why we should pay so that a province as rich as Ontario can assume its environmental responsibilities.

The climate fund will be used to buy credits abroad. My colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who is familiar with the matter, spoke at length about it. I have to say I read his speech on the subject in order to be able to explain it myself. The 2005 plan provides no limit for the purchase of credits abroad. With taxpayers' money, the federal government can buy a huge amount of these credits, which I might call pollution entitlements.

The government should let the major polluters unable, or, worse, unwilling to reduce their emissions—there are some of them, unfortunately—buy their own credits. The money the government would thus save could go to ecological projects here. That would make sense. The major polluters that do not want to or cannot reduce their emissions should buy these credits with their own money, and not with public funds.

We are not opposed to buying credits. We understand that some businesses simply cannot meet these objectives, at least right now. The purchase of credits would appear to be the solution providing some form, as it were, of acceptable compensation.

If the government did not stick taxpayers with the cost of these credits, it would have money to invest in green energy. The Bloc is known for being strongly in favour of wind energy and all the alternative energies, which are becoming increasingly efficient and lower priced. I hope that, one day, they will replace all the polluting energies. Ontario's decision to close its coal plants is a step in this direction. It is a good decision. The problem is that it is the taxpayers who are footing the bill.

I must also mention the unfortunate agreement between the federal government and the auto industry, which we have discussed endlessly. This is a serious problem. Does the auto industry really need government assistance? I am not talking about employees. For example, the GM plant in Boisbriand could have really used some help. I am talking, instead, about assistance to fight pollution.

There is an agreement to reduce emissions by 5.3 megatonnes, which is not very much. Cars are responsible for no less than 17% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Based on that figure, the auto industry should be cutting emissions by 8.5 times the amount I indicated earlier, of 5.3 megatonnes, for a total reduction of 46 megatonnes. This, clearly, would make a difference.

Furthermore, no regulatory framework is set out in this agreement. No penalties are imposed. Everything depends on the goodwill of the industry. Yes, we presume that people, including the auto industry, will act in good faith, but we should not be naive. I do not want to be unkind, but I think that the Minister of the Environment is being naive here. A mandatory approach is required. We need some mandatory measures signifying a real political will to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I will conclude by mentioning the tax measures that for the past 10 years or so have resulted in a 33% increase in tax incentives for the oil and gas industries. I remind hon. members that these industries are responsible for 55% of the emissions. That is another problem.

To sum it all up, it is an unfair plan for Quebec and its companies.

It is highly important that Quebec be able to divide the weight equally among the various industries. It is a simple question of logic. Quebec is best able to determine the appropriate measures for reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bloc Québécois realized that a long time ago. That is why in October 2004, we introduced a motion for the federal government to give full compensation and full responsibility to the Government of Quebec for implementing the Kyoto protocol on its own soil. The Bloc Québécois is also calling for an implementation plan for this protocol that: reduces greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by 6% of 1990 levels, which is the objective Canada promised to achieve between 2008 and 2012; applies the polluter-pay principle, for which the Minister of the Environment's Green Plan causes some problems that I mentioned earlier; and, finally, is fair to Quebec.

That is why I am asking this House to pass Motion M-162.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The mover of the motion now has the floor for five minutes to reply and close the debate. The hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are approaching the end of the second hour of debate on the motion I introduced on May 2. That motion concerned implementation of the Kyoto protocol and called for respect and recognition of the efforts made in Quebec since 1990.

I would like to thank my colleagues from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and Richmond—Arthabaska for their contribution to this debate, which is of importance to Quebeckers.

I respect the dissenting views of the other parties, but at the same time have trouble understanding what prevents them from acknowledging the efforts made by Quebec.

We are already fully engaged in the process of attaining the Kyoto protocol objectives. Quebeckers are concerned about the environment. They have made serious efforts to encourage industries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Much work has been done. Quebec has made a huge effort. But what does the government do? Once again, it introduces a bad plan based on the polluter-paid, instead of the polluter-pay, principle. The government really ought to do its homework better.

This motion calls for efforts to reduce polluting emissions to be assigned according to territory, with the reference year being 1990. Quebec would then be required to make a fair effort at reduction that would recognize its past pro-ecology choices. This motion also calls upon the federal government to enter into a bilateral agreement, to give the Government of Quebec full responsibility for implementing the Kyoto protocol within the province, with fair financial compensation. Most importantly, the motion calls on the federal government to respect the territorial approach and give top priority to the following: making public transit passes tax deductible; establishing a reduction for the automobile industry eight and a half times that set out in the voluntary agreement, which must be accompanied starting today by a regulatory framework setting out heavy fines for non-compliance; eliminating tax incentives to oil and gas producers; and offering tax deductions for purchasing hybrid vehicles. These are just examples.

This forward-looking motion will enable all the provinces to achieve the objectives of the Kyoto protocol and help strike a better balance by requiring that the efforts made to date by Quebec be recognized.

Let me reiterate what was said about Canada's Kyoto protocol implementation plan. In various joint statements, environmental groups denounce the environment minister's plan, the lack of detail on the mechanisms and concrete measures that will be used, the lack of deadlines and interim implementation targets, the lack of transparent mechanisms and instruments for measuring results, and the target for major emitters, which is so low it puts an unfair burden on other aspects of the plan.

Some 64% of reduction objectives are achieved by the individual efforts of Canadians or with the help of public funding, while individuals are responsible for only 23% of all emissions. Environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Équiterre, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, have come to an alarming conclusion.

I call on all hon. members to support this motion to give the country a chance to honour its Kyoto commitment, by giving the provinces concrete, tangible, viable solutions that will ensure environmental sustainability for our families and our children.

I am asking all my friends and colleagues to vote with me in favour of Motion M-162.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Kyoto Protocol
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 22, 2005, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:05 p.m.)