House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.

Topics

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's sense of humour, but Canadians expect serious talk and debate when it comes to the environment.

I am very proud of the Liberal government's record, not only on the environment but on the economy, on social development, on social justice, on health care and the list goes on

The Kyoto targets were meant for 2012. Projections tell us that by 2010 we would have been at about 75% to 80% of meeting our targets. If the government really wants to build on our record, all the power to it but we want to see action. We do not want to see phoney slogans and laying blame on others. We want the government to take responsibility and do what Canadians want it to do.

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I find the comments made by the hon. member across hopelessly inaccurate.

The member said that the government was delaying real caps until 2050. That is the long term range. The real caps, the short term caps, will be announced at the beginning of 2007. That is only a couple of months away.

I encourage the member to read the clean air act. He obviously has not read the bill. He does not know what he is talking about. He talked about the 2010 targets. The report, and he probably has not read that either, says it is 47% above. Right now it is 35% above Kyoto targets. The Liberals left a legacy of inaction and did absolutely nothing.

Why will he not support a clean air act that will provide action on greenhouse gas emission and pollutants?

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary contradicts himself. On the one hand, he says we have short term caps. In the same breath, he says that they will be announced two months from now.

My statement is still accurate. The government has no targets for the short term. They have not shown us their targets for the short term. They are only putting targets for 2050, which is disappointing.

If the member is so proud of the clean air act, why is he sending it to a committee before second reading? If he wants to continue to defend the bill, he can continue to demonstrate how transparent and weak the legislation is. However, the Prime Minister has abandoned his Minister of the Environment and his Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment by sending the bill to a committee before second reading, reflecting the fact that he has no confidence in the existing bill as it stands.

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this bill on air quality would amend three existing statutes, the first of which is the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Based on our observations, however, these are not new regulatory powers that the government plans to grant itself, because they already exist in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The bill would also amend the Energy Efficiency Act. We find it strange that this amendment is being introduced after the EnerGuide program was eliminated. The third part of the bill would amend the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act.

The Bloc Québécois currently supports sending this bill to committee before second reading. In our view, the amendments proposed by Bill C-30 are unnecessary. They would only slow down the process of taking concrete action against climate change. This is simply a delay.

The bill is also accompanied by a notice of intent, which lists the regulations the government intends to adopt over the next few years and the deadlines it has set for doing so. This document shows that the government is starting from scratch and beginning a new round of consultations in three phases leading to new standard that would not be mandatory until 2010.

Bill C-30 in its current form is unacceptable. It practically means the end of the Kyoto protocol objectives. The bill would incorporate into the Canadian Environmental Protection Act the statement that respecting Canada's international commitments on the environment is a matter of government discretion. We agree with referring the bill to committee before second reading because that will give us the latitude we need to consider the admissibility of amendments to this bill.

We will work in good faith in this committee, but the Bloc Québécois will make no compromises because respecting the Kyoto protocol targets is what is important. We will also present amendments to address the fairness of the polluter-pay rule, Canada's respect for its international commitments and, most of all, the urgent need for action to fight climate change. I want to remind hon. members that the Bloc's priority is still Bill C-288, which clearly respects the Kyoto protocol objectives and for which the legislative agenda is controlled by the opposition and not by our government.

Thanks to past investments by the administrators at Hydro-Québec in the area of hydroelectricity, Quebec has a non-polluting electricity production network. Quebec's plan mainly targets transportation and pollution reduction in certain industries.

As far as transportation is concerned, the bill would amend the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act to create the regulatory power to impose mandatory vehicle consumption standards on the industry by 2011, after the voluntary agreement expires. This does not seem soon enough.

The government has announced that Environment Canada and Health Canada also intend to hold detailed consultations with the provinces and industry starting in the fall. This consultation is late. It is planned in three major phases: the first will end in 2007, the second in 2008 and the third in 2010. Therefore, no regulation will come into effect before 2010.

What is important to the Bloc Québécois is that targets are established. These targets are in our report on the evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2004, production of greenhouse gases in Quebec was about 12 tonnes per person, or half the average rate of production of 24 tonnes per Canadian. As for the other provinces, per capita emissions totalled almost 69 tonnes in Saskatchewan and 73 tonnes in Alberta, or five to six times greater than in Quebec.

If we compare increases between 1990 and 2004, we note that Quebec emissions have risen by 6% since 1990, compared to 39.4% for Alberta and 61.7% for Saskatchewan.

As I was saying earlier, opting for hydroelectric energy certainly was a significant factor in Quebec's enviable performance. However, the collective choices made by its citizens, industries and the National Assembly also made it possible to achieve these results. The Quebec pulp and paper industry alone reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 18% between 1990 and 2005.

The excellent performance of the Quebec manufacturing sector also made a substantial contribution to Quebec's positive results. Between 1990 and 2003, this sector reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 6.8% and emissions arising from industrial processes by more than 15%. These reductions were made possible by significant strategic investments by Quebec companies in innovative technologies allowing them to improve their processes and their energy efficiency.

The Minister of the Environment refuses to acknowledge the efforts made by Quebec or the value of the Quebec plan. It was again obvious in Nairobi, where she failed to mention Quebec's green plan in her official speech to the international community.

Rather than revise its international obligations by calling the Kyoto protocol into question, the Conservative government must implement the climate change action plan. That was the Bloc Québécois' proposal, founded on the very important principles of equality and polluter pays. With respect to the polluter pays principle, studies have been done on Canada's emissions and it is generally accepted that responsibility for reducing emissions should be shared non-proportionally based on population or gross domestic product. It should be shared by the provinces and the territories. The Bloc Québécois is proposing a three-part approach to distribute the burden across Canada and give each province quotas to comply with.

The European Union succeeded in reaching an agreement on distributing greenhouse gas emissions among 15 European countries. The negotiations took two years to achieve concrete results. Each country has its own targets to reach.

In Canada, negotiations went on for almost five years and were suspended. We have not yet reached a compromise on distributing responsibility among the provinces and territories.

According to this three-part approach, Quebec's goal would be 0% relative to 1990 levels. The province could therefore simply address its 6% increase since 1990 to reach its goal: 1990 production levels.

Other provinces' goals are much higher because of their energy choices.

In conclusion, over the next few weeks, the Bloc Québécois will propose amendments to this bill.

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I am interested in the Bloc's territorial approach to climate change, because the need for climate change, the need for territories, countries and the world to adapt, is truly a global situation. It does not rest with the smaller units. It rests with the larger units. That is what Kyoto was all about: recognizing that we had a problem that was global in nature.

For the member across to say that the choices provinces made about their energy systems were choices is somewhat misleading, I think, because mostly in Canada we have set patterns of energy use that go back decades, long before Kyoto was an issue.

Does the hon. member across not agree that solutions to climate change are global in nature? Second, does he not agree that solving those issues is going to require inspired leadership in all parts of this country, not simply having provinces meeting minimum requirements but taking leadership where they have the ability to do so? As for Quebec, its position with hydroelectric power and the opportunities to provide that leadership, would he not see that as a better role for Quebec in this issue?

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Brossard—La Prairie, QC

I thank the NDP member very much for his question.

I did mention that the territorial breakdown must be equitable. The nation of Quebec invested a great deal in the past in hydroelectricity and went into debt, and it now has an appreciable investment in hydro power. It made an investment and is paying off that debt, with the result that Quebeckers may pay slightly more tax than in the other provinces. Equity is therefore important, and so is the polluter-pays principle.

I mentioned earlier that a polluter that emits 69 tonnes per person has to invest more to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions than a polluter that produces only 12 tonnes. This is only reasonable: the polluter will pay, especially since the polluter got rich in its province, instead of merely paying off its debt, as I said earlier, like Hydro-Québec, which has to amortize its payments over 20 or 50 years.

It is therefore important to say that polluters today have to keep in mind that they also have to pay out of their own pockets for the damage they cause.

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak in this debate as we move this bill forward. It is a bill that is deeply flawed and has been discredited across the environmental sector and in other parts of our communities, because as members in the House join the daily gathering of question period, it speaks to the partisan nature that for far too long has overridden all good and sensible conduct when it comes to our environment.

As Canadians tune in to watch what has become the daily spectacle of question period and the partisan approach that seems necessary to attract attention to any given issue of the day, they despair. They despair because partisan politics have overridden the commonsensical approach, particularly to things like climate change.

There is a necessity to look at the context and the history of what has happened in the debate and in the actions of the Canadian government over the last 15 to 20 years as this issue has grown in importance and context throughout the world. As country after country has taken on this issue with seriousness and determination, why has Canada continued to fall further and further to the back of the field?

We saw a number of plans under the previous regimes. The Liberals came up with the so-called action plan 2000 that was anything but action. There was a climate change plan for Canada in 2002 that was nothing of the sort, with no plan and still no action. Finally, in 2005 there was project green, which the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development herself said was not enough to get us there.

On this issue, I believe that Canadians have been out in front of the politicians consistently, year in and year out, demanding more from us, demanding a sense of leadership rather than partisan debate and the small inaccurate steps taken by regime after regime, previously by the Liberals and now by the Conservatives, when it comes to what is now being represented as the most pressing issue, certainly environmentally, and perhaps it is the most pressing issue of all.

When the NDP and the other opposition parties first looked at the bill the Conservatives proposed, they found it wanting. It lacks principles and is thus impossible to support in principle. For those who are watching and just coming to this debate, I will note that when a bill gets passed through this House on second reading, it means that the House has agreed to the bill in its principles, in its very nature, and then wishes to tweak and alter some of those parts of the bill which can be altered.

However, the process that we New Democrats proposed and which the other parties agreed to was, without any such agreement, to take this bill and to have the opportunity to change its very DNA, to change the very structure of what is being proposed for Canada's environment and Canada's economy.

As has been said, Kyoto is more an economic pact than an environmental one. It asks the world to consider and bring about changes to the way we earn money, to the way we drive our economies, particularly when it comes to the energy sector, and to look at new ways that are necessary for the very survival of our planet, for continuing a prosperous planet and, in this country, a prosperous national economy.

Canadians have been demanding and expecting leadership on this issue, but in budget after budget and government after government they have seen otherwise. They have seen short term, nearsighted thinking. It is time that Canadians got what they truly deserve, which is leadership when it comes to the environment and leadership when it comes to restructuring our economy and our energy sectors to a place where we can all be proud.

Recently I was at the Nairobi summit, the United Nations meeting on climate change. Canada consistently won the fossil award, the award given to the country doing the least to promote global efforts on climate change. We won more fossil awards than all the other countries put together.

We were consistent in one thing: holding back the talks and holding back progress across our planet. China, India, Australia, France and Britain were all coming forward with solid and credible plans and there we were, the Canadians, once proud of our environmental record, with our delegates scurrying around the halls in Nairobi in shame because we could not bring forward a viable plan. What was suggested in the so-called clean air act was not enough. It was a delayed plan. It was long term. It left too much power in the hands of a few politicians rather than in the will of this Parliament.

One of the many suggestions that New Democrats brought forward was to return the power to the people who are actually elected to represent the will and the intentions of Canadians, because we know that this will and those intentions are to do something serious about climate change, change that we are experiencing already.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, essentially the auditor, is meant to look over Canada's plans and actions for a whole series of environmental initiatives. She looked at what the previous Liberal regime had proposed. Six billion dollars had been announced for this. The important word in this sentence is “announced”, because a little over $1 billion of that $6 billion in the announcement was actually spent and much of that not very effectively at all.

It is important to note that the commissioner is a non-partisan functionary of this Parliament who reports to us. She said of the Liberal record since 1997 that the government:

--does not yet have an effective government-wide system to track expenditures, performance, and results on its climate change programs. As a result, the government does not have the necessary tools for effective management....

At its base, if we do not have the capacity to track, to monitor, to understand what is effective and what is not, how can we possibly make the proposed changes that we claim or hope to make? It simply cannot be done if we do not have the ability to monitor, to track, or to understand what is being done. The elected officials in this place, elected from across the country, do not have the ability to properly or accurately understand the situation until the dust has settled and the confetti has dropped out of the sky.

We know for a fact that the actual numbers that matter most on this issue are in regard to the increase in greenhouse gases in our environment. They went up by 27%, but we know that the goal, the stated claim and the signature that we put down on the Kyoto protocol indicated that Canada had the intention of dropping emissions by 6%. Lo and behold, as the numbers have come in and as the tests prove, we failed as Canadians when the Liberal government, year in and year out, failed to deliver. We needed more and Canadians demanded more. They expected leadership. They want leadership.

Let us look at what is proposed in the Conservative bill. The Conservatives propose a number of measures that have some potential, but they are all delayed measures. They are all put off, and without the ability of parliamentarians, the people elected from all corners of the country, to affect what is happening. Instead, it is left to orders in cabinet, intentions and notices of intent that do not bring the required seriousness to this issue. That seriousness means that this place must be able to mandate, regulate and hit the targets that Canadians expect us and need us to hit.

My friend from the Western Arctic and I, from northwestern British Columbia, with British Columbians across the entire province, are seeing the effects of climate change now. Canada's forestry council has directly cited climate change as one of the leading factors in the pine beetle infestation that has absolutely devastated our forests and has now hopped over the Rockies and is headed into the boreal, into Alberta, and across to Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

For those who are watching and for those members of Parliament who have not yet seen what devastation truly looks like, let me say to them to hold on, because that pine beetle can absolutely punish the forest and the economies that depend upon those forests. Direct action is needed.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development implored the government to take serious action on the environment. She said that “it must take immediate and long-lasting action on many fronts”.

She said “immediate”, but lo and behold, when the bill came out, all action was delayed. The action is delayed until 2015, 2025 and even 2050 for heaven's sake. That is not action. That is just an excuse for delay. The Conservative government is essentially asking Canadians to trust its ethics on the environment and unfortunately that did not pass the smell test.

What we need to do is remove the partisan nature of this debate. We need to finally step beyond that into a place where the issue of the environment, the issue of fighting global climate change, can occupy a place in the Canadian debate that goes beyond partisanship and allows members of Parliament to bring forward their best ideas.

By accepting this bill prior to second reading, by accepting it with the option of changing its fundamentals, of making it stronger, of bringing in the best ideas from across the economy and from across the country, we have allowed an opportunity to exist in this place, an opportunity that previously did not exist. I am proud of our actions. I am determined, as are my colleagues, and colleagues in the other caucuses as well, to make the most effective bill--

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Yukon.

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member, who comes from my area, for outlining how devastating greenhouse gases are in the north. They are changing species, changing the permafrost and destroying infrastructure.

I would like him to comment on whether he thinks this was helped at all by the government's cutting of the programs that were cutting greenhouse gases, such as the EnerGuide for the 70,000 houses, the one tonne challenge, and the mandatory emissions standards for large final emitters that were to be effective in 2008. Does the member think those programs helped the situation?

I would like to welcome our incoming leader, who is lauded by the environmental community for having the greatest environmental green plan in history, with a $1 billion green fund, emissions cutting programs for energy emissions, $2 billion in partnerships with thousands of people working on projects for a time, including wind energy, renewable power projects for hydro, and biomass. In all these areas, tens of thousands of greenhouse gases were cut, but because the economy was so good the total went up. We did not have the time to get to our targets, but we were reaching them.

I would like to ask the member my original question. Does he think the cutting of those programs was effective?

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, right at the very end of that wandering question was the point that I remember the new leader of the Liberal Party making when he was standing in front of the environment committee. It was the very same claim that my hon. colleague just made, which is that since the economy improved of course our emissions had to go up. They said that was the reason for them going up, not the fact that $6 billion was announced and only $1 billion was spent.

This fundamental belief is the belief that party finally has to change: that the economy increasing somehow means that pollution must increase as well. Canadians know better. They realize that there are opportunities to grow our economy and actually reduce our pollution. That type of ideology has to fundamentally change. If it does not, we are all in deep trouble.

Canada's Clean Air Act
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It is with regret that I interrupt the member. When we return to the debate on this item, there will be three minutes left in the questions and comments period.

HIV-AIDS
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, in honour of World AIDS Day on December 1, I am proud to highlight the work and leadership of an extraordinary nurse in my riding of Cambridge who is making a difference in the fight against HIV-AIDS.

After learning of the many African nurses treating HIV-AIDS patients who were becoming infected themselves, registered nurse Nancy DiPietro launched the Give an Hour campaign. She calls on the quarter of a million nurses across Canada to pledge the equivalent of one hour of pay each year to help ease the suffering of their African counterparts infected with HIV-AIDS. I am happy to say that she is receiving tremendous support.

In her own words:

Nursing is caring. Knowing that when someone is going through one of the most difficult times of their lives, you are helping to make it more manageable...that is the reward of nursing.

We thank, Nancy. She is an inspiration to the citizens of Cambridge and all of Canada.

Action Committee Against Domestic and International Trafficking in Human Beings
Statements By Members

December 4th, 2006 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to commend the extraordinary work of the Comité d'action contre le trafic humain interne et international, or CATHII. This group was formed in 2001 in response to a call to action from the International Union of Superiors General, urging the nuns of the world to do everything in their power to eliminate human trafficking.

Since its inception, CATHII has been tremendously busy generating public awareness and support for the victims of human trafficking. Its latest project has been to spearhead the drive to collect signatures for a petition calling on the government not only to track down the perpetrators of human trafficking, but also to offer assistance to the victims of this dreadful trade.

There are over 10,000 names on this petition, and I will be very pleased to present it to the House later this afternoon.

2006 Canadian Consulting Engineer Awards
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, CIMA+ of Rivière-du-Loup received the 2006 Canadian consulting engineer award for excellence in the transportation infrastructure category. This is the most prestigious award conferred to a consulting engineering company.

CIMA+ received this recognition for the maritime infrastructure project completed for Makivik Corporation in Puvirnituq, Nunavik. This project was very complex because of its geographic location. CIMA+ had to use a great deal of imagination to come up with solutions for the numerous technical and logistical challenges associated with construction in an arctic setting.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I would like to express our most sincere congratulations to Réjean Massé, the regional director for CIMA+ in Rivière-du-Loup, and to his entire team, who firmly believe in the development of our regional, national and international businesses.

Congratulations CIMA+.

Human Rights
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Sunday, December 10 is International Human Rights Day. This year the UN has adopted the theme of “Fighting Poverty: a matter of obligation, not charity”, something the government would do well to respect.

In fact, under the Conservative regime, Canadians' rights are under serious attack.

We have seen deep cuts to the Status of Women offices, including Hamilton's, which offered research and advocacy to develop women's social, political and economic equality. It was cut, even though an estimated 2.8 million Canadian women still live in poverty.

We have seen cuts to literacy programs, despite a well documented relationship between poverty and illiteracy.

We have seen a determined attempt to segregate some loving couples from others, picking and choosing who gets to be called a family.

We have seen increased deportations of immigrant parents and children attempting to escape war and famine.

Let us stop the Conservative attack on Canadians' rights and begin work on attacking poverty instead.