House of Commons Hansard #106 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Senate Tenure Legislation
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Brossard--La Prairie.

Transportation
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Montreal's Agence métropolitaine de transport commissioned feasibility studies for the construction of light rail transit linking the South Shore to Montreal via the Champlain bridge. Such studies have been available for some time now.

Why is the Minister of Transport refusing to release these studies?

Transportation
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I will look into my honourable colleague's allegations.

That said, I would add that the Agence métropolitaine de transport is under the jurisdiction of the Government of Quebec. I will ask my officials to find out where this file is at and how the Government of Quebec is involved.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Petar Cobankovic, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management for the Republic of Croatia.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would also like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Senior Chaplains of NATO and other allied countries, here for the 18th International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference. I invite all hon. members to a reception in honour of our guests at 3:15 in room 216 north.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, in the usual manner, I wonder if the leader of the government in the House could provide the House with a briefing on the work that he plans to call before the House for the rest of this week and through next week.

While he is doing that, I wonder if he could specifically indicate his view with respect to the request that has been made today by a number of members of the official opposition that the government provide some time in the form of a take note debate at some point next week when all members of the House might discuss the topic of the safety of Canadians travelling in Mexico.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, today we will be continuing the debate on the Bloc opposition motion.

Tomorrow we will begin debate on the statutory order concerning the Anti-terrorism Act. That is for the extension of its provisions.

Next week will be justice week, when the government will showcase part of its safer streets agenda, starting on Monday with the continuation of the debate on the Anti-terrorism Act if it is not completed on Friday.

On Tuesday we plan to begin debate on Bill C-35, which deals with bail reform, and on Wednesday we will resume debate on the second reading stage of the dangerous offenders legislation, Bill C-27.

Thursday, February 15 shall be an allotted day.

On Friday it is my intention to call the report stage of Bill C-10 on mandatory minimum penalties, on the assumption that the justice committee can have it to the House by that time.

For each day, we will have the following business scheduled as backup bills: Bill C-31, the voter integrity legislation; Bill C-44, relating to human rights; Bill C-11, on transport; and Bill C-33, the technical income tax act.

I will be working closely with my counterpart in the Senate with respect to progress on Bill S-4 or, as we keep hearing, the lack of progress.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, a strong, effective and responsible government must speak with one voice, whether it be in the Senate or the House of Commons. The fact that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate cannot present the same position on Bill S-4 is further evidence that the Liberals are currently not fit to govern. I certainly would like the opportunity for this House to deal with that bill.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Opposition Motion— Kyoto Protocol
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to this opposition motion brought forward by the Bloc Québécois. In his opening remarks, the leader of the Bloc showed how important it is that our motion be debated and adopted by this House. The motion reads as follows:

That, having recognized the principle of complying with the Kyoto targets, it is the opinion of this House that the government should provide the Government of Quebec with the sum of $328 million to enable it to implement its plan to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets.

This $328 million represents the amount that the Government of Quebec needs, according to its calculations, to fully meet our Kyoto targets and be a model for the rest of the country in the pursuit of these targets that are so important to Quebec, to Canada and to the whole planet. But we have been facing terrible obstacles in this debate.

First there was the Liberal Party's attitude. The current leader of the Liberal Party, who was Minister of the Environment at the time, said this about the request for $328 million:

The $328 million was conditional on an agreement with regard to the projects. As these funds were not a transfer, we had to agree on the nature of the projects. The problem with the Government of Quebec is that it did not have any project to propose to us. It wanted to receive a transfer and then develop its plan. I said that I could not do that.

This quote shows the position of the current leader of the Liberal Party. He believes that something that has not been approved by the federal government cannot be good. Even though Quebec demonstrated that it had a good plan, a real plan that would help it meet the targets, that plan was simply dismissed by the Liberal Party. We were expecting a different attitude from the Conservative government when it came to power. Unfortunately, particularly in this sector, we are facing objections that show a lack of understanding of environmental issues. I will repeat what the Prime Minister was saying in 2002. He may have changed his mind since. He should tell us if that is the case.

The Prime Minister described the Kyoto protocol as essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations. Implementation of the treaty would do a great deal of harm to the oil and gas industry, which is vital to the economies of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Workers and consumers everywhere in Canada will lose. There are no Canadian winners under the Kyoto accord.

I have become aware, particularly in the last two weeks, that the Conservative government was incapable of grasping the fact that development must now take into consideration the overall environmental costs of a project. The days are now gone when development could be assessed solely from the economic point of view. Now, when a project is assessed, we need to know what the environmental costs of it will be, and these must be included in the project.

When anyone claims to be developing the economy of Canada without taking these effects into account, serious harm is being done to the quality of Canada's environment, as well as the condition of the entire planet. We have recently seen statements such as this one by the Prime Minister being totally contradicted by international experts. Scientists have clearly and unequivocally stated that 90% of climate change was due to human activity—the actions of men and women—and that this problem absolutely needed to be solved as soon as possible.

There is indeed a great deal still to be done. In 2002, the current Minister of Natural Resources said:

—I will start off with a very bold statement, that Kyoto should not be ratified. It is based on uncertain science with new doubts coming to light almost daily.

That is no longer the case today. Clearly, climate change is the result of human activity. The scientists have spoken. He can no longer say such things and he must recognize that we are in a context where action must be taken, or we are headed straight for disaster. Quebec and Canada will be particularly affected because, according to experts in the field, global warming will occur more rapidly in Nordic regions.

The Minister of Natural Resources also said:

Some pie in the sky thinking that Kyoto is going to green the earth and save the environment...We support a strong economy and a sustainable environment, two things that Kyoto simply cannot deliver.

It is no longer possible to draw a distinction between a vigorous economy and a quality environment. They have to be taken together. The $328 million we want the federal government to invest, that are owed to Quebec and will enable it to achieve its targets, will be used to improve public transit, which will also help the economy.

I am quite open about this because in my own riding, in La Pocatière, the Bombardier plant can produce subway cars. There are others in Quebec that can produce buses. These are all measures that would generate economic activity while at the same time helping to improve the environment and deal with climate change.

The other example, which is absolutely fabulous, is the question of an emissions exchange. In this regard, these are not statements from a few years ago that they still refuse to correct. The Minister of the Environment said only this morning that an emissions exchange could not be set up at the same time as Quebec’s plan. So why did Quebec ask for both these things at the same time?

He is confusing a lot of things that are actually quite clear. It is easy to see why he said last week in Paris that he was totally surprised and amazed that the planet’s scientists had demonstrated that human activity was responsible for climate change.

Here is a specific example in regard to an emissions exchange. A company in my region, in Rivière-du-Loup, was willing to make a significant investment because people had said we would have this. The standards had to be clear and specific for there to be an economic advantage to investing in this exchange.

By deciding not to institute these standards, the Conservative government disrupted this plan, although it is not the only one. There are many others. There are all the people who do not make a great show of being environmentalists but who want to do what is right for sustainable development and find themselves stymied by what the government did.

Our motion today is aimed simply at enabling Quebec to do what it would have done much more quickly over the last few years if it had been a sovereign state. Things would have been different if Quebec had not been forced to go and beg Ottawa for money because the reality is still that the federal government collects the taxes while the needs are in the provinces. This is apparent in the fiscal imbalance and the very clear expression of it in achieving Kyoto.

If Quebec had 100% of the taxes, its development plan would have been in place for a long time because it has a vested interest, in terms of the environment and the economy, but also generally speaking, in terms of sustainable development, in seeing that happen.

We have been waiting for this $328 million for two years and we still have not received it. Yet, this had been promised by the current government. It is dithering. We never know clearly where it will go. We had the positions of the current leader of the opposition who said, when he was the environment minister: “I will agree project by project”. Then, we had the Conservative minister who simply did not want to sign. We saw her in Nairobi, Africa, when she almost insulted the Minister of Environment of Quebec, Mr. Claude Béchard, by leaving him in the hallway when he had an interesting project to propose and an interesting record. For its part, the federal government did not have any record, but it had the floor. It spoke for Quebec and Canada, saying that Kyoto was not necessary or that it would not respect the projected targets.

Today, we have a new minister, but we still have the same kind of dithering. This is why we brought this debate to this House. We will have the opportunity to see where everyone stands.

Will the Liberal Party of Canada, the Conservative Party and the NDP support this Bloc Québécois motion, which reads:

That, having recognized the principle of complying with the Kyoto targets, it is the opinion of this House that the government should provide the Government of Quebec with the sum of $328 million to enable it to implement its plan to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets.

Once we have the results, we will see where everyone stands. Are we indeed concerned about rewarding people who are doing their job well, in terms of the environment? Will the need for a territorial approach be respected, so that everyone can meet their targets based on their particular energy and consumption profile?

In Quebec, we have made choices in this regard in the past, and today, we are entitled to reap the benefits. This is what I hope we will obtain.

Will the Conservative government agree to recognize that the $328 million must be handed over? Has the Liberal Party of Canada changed its tune from the positions held by its current leader, who was then the environment minister and insisted on proof that each project was good?

I see that I am out of time. Nevertheless, I call on this House to pass this motion, so that justice is finally done for Quebeckers when it comes to the environment, and something is done for the rest of Canada and the planet at the same time. There would certainly be nothing wrong in Quebec being able to look forward to the same future as the rest of the planet in this regard.

Opposition Motion— Kyoto Protocol
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to put the following question to my colleague, who is our industry critic.

The Canadian economy, which is based on oil and hydrocarbons, is costing Quebec a lot. Quebec is not an oil producer. Of course, in a hydrocarbon-based economy, the Canadian dollar fluctuates according to the strength or the price of oil. This has created major drawbacks for the province's economy, including job losses.

Can he tell us how many jobs have been lost in Quebec's manufacturing sector since oil has taken over the stock exchange and the Canadian dollar?

Opposition Motion— Kyoto Protocol
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the economy can be sick, somewhat as people can sometimes be sick. There is an illness that could be called “Dutch disease”. In an economy where natural resources are very important, if we do nothing but give them our full attention, the result is a negative impact on the rest of the economy.

As the Leader of the Bloc Québécois was saying in his speech this morning, it is very clear that the evolution of the value of the Canadian dollar has almost exactly tracked the increase in the price of oil. As a result, we have moved from a 65¢ dollar to 85¢ today, and the dollar was skirting 90¢ less than six months ago. This has forced our manufacturing industries to adjust very quickly, without being able to benefit in any way from an action plan of the federal government which agreed to making big profits off our natural resources, but found ways for the people who supported the economy and developed our manufacturing industry to continue to be competitive.

We have in hand a perfect tool for this. A unanimous report has been adopted by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. There are 22 recommendations, some of which concern sustainable development. Others concern businesses, to give them the option of accelerated depreciation. Others concern worker availability and intellectual property, to ensure that we escape this cycle whereby three months after people from emerging countries come here to visit us, they start producing at home what we were producing here. This has been raised by certain business owners. So there is a report in place. We hope that it is taken into account in the next budget. We shall see what comes of this.

However, the first thing we are demanding is that the federal government recognize that Quebec has practised development which takes into account the concepts of sustainable development, and that Quebec has to be supported in that direction. Quebec has a plan that is working, but it needs $328 million from the federal government so that it can achieve its objectives.

We would like to get this money as soon as possible, while we are part of the federal system. Currently, this is the way to get it. We must keep on asking for it. The Bloc Québécois is submitting this request to the House. No other party has this approach. I have not seen the Liberals say that Quebec has to be given $328 million, or the NDP, or the Conservatives. However we are able to do this, because we are elected by the population of Quebec to defend the interests of Quebec.

In the end, the clearest message is that, if Quebeckers controlled the entire toolbox, if they had all of their income taxes, in no way would they be forced to seek this $328 million from a government that is depending on another majority. Quebec could decide this in its national parliament, the National Assembly of Quebec. This is why the ultimate solution for the development of Quebec is to be found through sovereignty.

Opposition Motion— Kyoto Protocol
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to compare the Conservative and the Liberal stand on the environment.

The record of the Liberals after 13 years in power is pretty dismal. The Liberals kept saying they wanted to reach the targets set out in the Kyoto protocol, but they never did anything to get there. The Conservative approach is different. They say these targets are out of reach, and they do not want to do anything about it. Indeed, the only difference between the two is that the Conservatives are aware they are incompetent, but the Liberals did not know they were.

Here is my question: if we realize that, in this Parliament, we are not able to get the support of the government to reach these targets and help Quebec move forward, what solution is left to Quebeckers to take their own responsibilities and make their own choices?

Opposition Motion— Kyoto Protocol
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

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

The Bloc Quebecois is using all the democratic and parliamentary means at their disposal under the mandate they got from their constituents. That is why we are putting this kind of issue on the floor.

Members and ministers from Quebec, and ministers who are in charge of various issues know that this $328 million would be put to good use for the environment.

The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities should be well aware that this would have a significant and positive impact on public transit and improve the environment.

This is the situation we are in with the present system. I think that the solution is that Quebeckers should become sovereign to be able to make their own decisions with regard to the environment and everything else.