House of Commons Hansard #157 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Royal Galipeau

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been discussions between the parties and I believe you will find unanimous consent to the following motion. I move:

That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of this House, that the current debate on the motion from the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley be extended to 1:30 p.m. this afternoon.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Is it agreed?

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

(Motion agreed to)

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

When the House last considered this motion, there were four minutes left for the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport and he has the floor.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, you will notice the great cooperation from this side of the House in relation to that last motion, and indeed that is what we are trying to do with Canada's environment.

We want to take serious steps to make the environment, the air that Canadians breathe, better. As such, I am going to continue on, notwithstanding that I said this just before question period. I am going to continue from where I left off, and that is, on the issue of asthma and the health of Canadians.

We know that asthma is increasing in our population and in fact, I stated that it more than tripled in children aged zero to 14 over the past 20 years. According to the 1996-97 national population health survey, over 2.2 million Canadians have been diagnosed with asthma by a physician. That is 12.2% of children and 6.3% of adults in Canada. Indeed as I mentioned, my youngest child has asthma.

The quality of life for these people is dramatically affected by not taking action on the environment, by the previous 13 years of the previous Liberal government not taking action. That is why this government feels that we cannot accept what the NDP has put forward.

We want to take action now. We are done consulting. We want to make Canadians' health better. Indeed, it is clear that we need to take action to reduce all potential causes that increase incidents of illness and death, especially those which affect our children.

This government's approach will provide us with the authorities and tools which are so necessary in order to launch this fight against those terrible pollutants, to address the sources of both indoor and outdoor air pollution while setting in motion a very realistic plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I am proud of this government's motion, of these great steps that this Minister of Environment has taken, and the real action plan to come forward. Our mandatory reductions will reduce the impact of greenhouse gases and air pollution on the environment and the health of Canadians, which is so important to all Canadians.

These regulations will have real tangible benefits and I think many people do not realize how important these benefits will be. The estimated benefits by 2015, from the Conservative agenda for the reduced risk of death and illness associated with our air quality improvements, will be over $6 billion annually. That is correct, over $6 billion annually.

This puts the health benefits from air pollution reductions in the same broad range as the economic costs of meeting the air pollution and GHG emission targets. These have been calculated at less than 0.5% of our annual GDP. Thus in the short term, the GHG emission reduction strategy that we have put in place is balanced by the air pollution benefits.

This government's objective is to minimize or eliminate risks to the health of Canadians posed by environmental contaminants in the air. That is our goal. It is a very aggressive agenda, but we will get it done. As has been seen by Canadians, we do get the job done and we will continue to get the job done.

I sat in on Bill C-30 and I saw what the NDP was doing. I saw what the Liberals were doing. I saw what the Bloc was doing. What they were doing was playing politics with Canadians' lives, with the health of Canadians, and we in this government are not going to let that happen.

I looked at the aggressive agenda of the NDP to play politics. It is sort of like watching a person play Twister, not getting anything done but making a lot of confusion in the process, and indeed that is not what this government is going to do.

That is why our government has introduced one of the toughest plans in the world today on turning the corner on greenhouse gases and air pollution. Our government is bringing in mandatory, not voluntary, targets. We are going to get the job done for Canadians on the issue of the environment.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened carefully to the remarks of my colleague from Fort McMurray—Athabasca. I find it somewhat disgraceful that he would suggest that the members on this side of the House were playing politics, cheap politics.

The reality is that our three political parties in the opposition represent a majority of the Canadian people. We stand for the hope that Kyoto will be respected once and for all. When the government says that it has introduced one of the toughest plans on greenhouse gas reduction, allow me to have my doubts.

Take for example his own riding, which is very specialized in oil sands extraction and oil production from oil sands. How can he state with any certainty in this House that his government will meet the objectives set out in its plan, when we know full well that there will be a high growth of oil sands production in coming years? By 2015, this production will have tripled from one barrel of oil per day produced from oil sands to three barrels per day.

My question is simple. How can he tell this House today that the plan introduced by the government is a real solution in response to climate change, when we know full well that oil sands production will be increasing steadily in coming years?

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting and humorous, actually, because the Bloc members are never going to be in a position to do anything for the people of Quebec. Indeed, all they want to do is cause problems and create division between Canadians. We know that is their agenda.

The NDP's agenda, quite frankly, nobody wants to even talk about, besides the fact that their plan is to put gas at $2.00 a litre for Canadians. Canadians are not going to accept that. That is why they have this Conservative government. The Bloc and the NDP, with their friends from the Red Green Show across the way, want to increase the price of gas for Canadians to an outrageous amount.

We are not going to let that happen. We are going to stand up for Canadians, their environment, their economy, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast. That is what this government is going to do.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I want to address my hon. colleague whose riding actually borders on mine. I live in the community next to the border of his constituency so I, too, understand the nature of air emissions from the McMurray tar sands and I have dealt with them for years.

The Conservative Party's plan for the next five years is to just simply allow these emissions to increase. My hon. colleague speaks of his daughter with asthma. My concern is what is going to happen in this region if we allow the kind of development that is in place now to increase by fivefold. In the next 10 years, the air emission increases are going to be extraordinary. The health problems of northerners and people from northern Alberta are going to increase.

How does my hon. colleague feel that his plan is justified for the people of the region that he represents: the people, not the corporations?

I will remind my hon. colleague that in a recent poll in Alberta, 70% of Albertans were in favour of hard caps on emissions from industrial developments.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, very clearly, there is so much misinformation. The realty is that the oil sands sector has projected reductions of 250%; not all this rhetoric about increases and increases.

There is nothing more important to me than the air we breathe and our water. I have been up in that community since 1968 and I have continued to enjoy the water and the air. I fish there regularly. I have many family, including aboriginal family, as the member knows, within a very short distance of his own riding. Indeed, I am more serious about the protection of water and air than any member I have heard across the way, especially in my region, and I will continue to be a strong advocate for that. That is why I support the government's plan. It is real action with real results.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Don Valley West.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the motion put forward by the New Democratic Party today. The opposition parties are united in their desire to see Bill C-30, the clean air and climate change act, re-emerge from the government's politically induced coma, the coma that started when the environment committee substantially rewrote its weak and original effort.

Where can one begin on the merits of Bill C-30? Bill C-30 gives us a consensus based realistic plan that aims at meeting our Kyoto targets, something the government has adamantly refused to do. In fact, as every day progresses we learn that the government is ripping us out of the Kyoto protocol by stealth, by subterfuge and by the death of a thousand cuts.

Bill C-288, the Kyoto implementation act, passed this week in the other place. Now we hear that the new president of France is considering taking to the European Union trade sanctions and potential carbon taxes on countries like Canada under the present government, which would presume to unilaterally change the terms and conditions of our Kyoto obligations.

In committee yesterday, we discovered that massive amounts of money have been spent by the government attacking Bill C-288, millions and millions of taxpayer dollars in a shock and awe communications campaign, mounted by the Minister of the Environment, not to bring any kind of light to the issue but to generate way too much heat.

When asked, government officials concluded and confirmed yesterday that there had been no analysis whatsoever of any kind, economic, environmental or social, on the government's own bill, Bill C-30.

Bill C-288 restates Canada's commitment to the Kyoto protocol process. The government signed the protocol, and Parliament ratified it. Now that Bill C-288 has passed through the House of Commons, the democratically elected members have shown twice that we are fully committed to this goal. The minister's comments were defeatist. His confused rhetoric talked about a more realistic way forward. What he meant was that he is not willing to show any leadership whatsoever. He could not get the job done and neither could his predecessor who was summarily dispatched for failure to do anything in the first year of this government's short life.

After saying that Canada needed a new clean air act, the Conservatives presented a plan that will allow emissions to continue to increase for the next 10 years. To do so, they decided to use the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, completely contradicting their claims that Bill C-30 was needed.

The irony is simply too rich: the Conservatives' bill, their legislative committee, their admission that Bill C-30 was fatally flawed, centre overhaul, without a single substantive amendment put forward by any member of the government's caucus.

Thankfully, a lot has changed over the past few months. On February 8, the minister said that “This is bill is essential to protecting the environment and the health of Canadians”, referring, of course, to Bill C-30. If he really meant that, I guess we would be debating it today, and not as an opposition day motion.

However, the government, as we have seen and learned today, is more interested in censorship around the national climate change response than it is about putting forward a reasonable and defensible plan.

The minister said instead that our targets will be the toughest, a subjective word that he plucked out of a hat, and he is ridiculed for it by the United Nations head of the climate change secretariat, to guffaws of laughter in the 168 partner nations that have signed with us into the Kyoto protocol.

The numbers he shows are weak, and even these targets have no credible plan through which we can reach them.

We learned just yesterday that the mandatory, cabinet decreed, environmental assessment of the government's own climate change plan has not been performed. It has not been performed by the PCO, by Finance Canada, by Environment Canada, by Natural Resources Canada nor by Health Canada. There is no environmental assessment on this plan. It is in breach of its own cabinet decree.

The minister's comments are nothing short of defeatist. His confused rhetoric talks about “a more realistic way forward”. What he really meant was that he was not willing or, more likely, he was not allowed to show leadership because the PMO staffers who pull his strings tell him that he should control the message that more closely.

He cannot get the job done. His history of working to obstruct, no, to undermine, Kyoto is well-written. In partnership with thePrime Minister, who is an isolationist, triangulating between Canberra, Washington and Ottawa, a Prime Minister who is viscerally opposed to a multilateral, the only single multilateral response we have to an international phenomena.

Bill C-30 is the way forward. The centrepiece of it is a functioning carbon budget for Canada. Every family understands the importance of a budget. Income and expenditures need to be balanced. If we save, we can invest in our future, it is time to adopt such a strategy in order to reduce carbon emissions.

A balanced carbon budget is an innovative and bold plan enabling large industrial emitters to reduce, in a tangible and significant way, their carbon emissions. Our plan provides a concrete and effective strategy for significant reductions in carbon emissions.

It would also serve to stimulate the development of green technologies here in Canada, second only, globally, to the emerging ecotourism trade as one of the fastest growing sectors of the international global marketplace.

We know our businesses will seize those opportunities to promote environmental technologies. We know that Canada will seize the opportunities to become a green superpower.

Our companies are aching to take advantage of a new green economy, but only if they have certainty and clarity. They need to know in which direction our country is moving, especially those that have moved so aggressively to reduce their emissions of those greenhouse gases since 1990.

I will leave it to my colleague to follow up with some of the details in Bill C-30, which is the culmination of the cooperation, negotiation and mediation of 65% of the members of the House of Commons. We speak for Canada. The government does not.

It is important for viewers and Canadians to know that the government was bluffing when it brought the clean air act to Parliament. Worse than that, it deceived the Canadian people, an art of deception mastered by the minister at the heels of his previous political mentor, the former premier of Ontario.

The government was not ready but we were. It counted on what it excels at, division. We were not divided. We are united.

The Conservatives are isolated. They have struck out twice with two different ministers and it is now time for the House to accept nothing less than Bill C-30.

We call on the government to bring Bill C-30 back to the House transparently and accountably so Canadians can see that if it refuses it will speak volumes for the party opposite to defy the will of Parliament and remain foolishly silent.