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

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Oh, yeah. How about blaming the pine beetle on environmentalists? Brilliant.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Martians are next.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

He is still at it, I can hear him.

On December 5, Parliament referred Bill C-30 to a legislative committee of the House of Commons for review. As we all know, Canada's Conservative government worked in good faith in committee on Bill C-30 to try to improve the clean air act.

In committee we supported amendments brought forward by every party to improve and strengthen Canada's clean air act. We even brought forward amendments of our own. Sadly, in most cases we were opposed by the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc.

Vehicle emissions is one example. We brought forward a reasonable amendment to achieve tough vehicle emission standards based on North American market standards, standards that would be supported by labour. What did the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc do? They voted against it and then knowingly imposed standards that would be impossible for industry to meet without shutting down the Ontario auto industry. As for the Liberals' plan, Buzz Hargrove said that it would be disastrous but they did not listen.

We also cannot ignore the unrealistic targets that were put into the bill by the Liberals and the NDP. The Liberals played politics by inserting Kyoto targets into the bill with no realistic plan to achieve them. The NDP supported that irresponsible action. It is difficult to stomach such gall from the Liberal Party. It is also clear that the Leader of the Opposition did not support Kyoto. His colleagues have repeatedly said this.

Liberal environment ministers, David Anderson, Christine Stewart and top Chrétien advisor, Eddie Goldenberg, told Canadians that the Liberal Party had no intention of meeting the Kyoto targets, that they were only paying lip service to Canadians on Kyoto. It is hard for Canadians to believe that the Liberals had a plan to achieve Kyoto five years ago and it is even harder today. The member for Halton said so. He stated:

I heard [the Prime Minister] yesterday in a speech say, in one breath, that action must be taken, while in the next he added that reaching Kyoto targets would be “fantasy”.

Is he right? Technically, yeah. We’re so far behind now that catch-up is impossible, without shutting the country down.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Who said that?

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

That was the member for Halton, a Liberal member.

Even when the Liberals were in government, it was easy for them to offer whatever people wanted but they had no intention of ever delivering.

Now that the Liberals are no longer in government, it is clearly easier for them to tell Canadians what they want hear, which is that they want to achieve the Kyoto targets, when in fact they cannot and had no intention to. It was 13 years of mismanagement.

The NDP takes the same position but it is hard to tell what the NDP's position is on short, medium and long term targets for greenhouse reductions because in the last six weeks it has supported two different positions.

First, there were the targets that it wrote with its Liberal buddies on Bill C-30. These targets would cost Canadian families and businesses over 275,000 jobs and send gasoline prices soaring over $2 a litre. These targets would be disastrous for the economy and the NDP supported them.

The NDP then introduced even tougher targets in a private member's bill sponsored by the leader of the NDP that would harm the economy even worse. Those targets were so over the top that when it tried to write them into Bill C-30 even the Liberals said that they did not make sense because they were so obviously over the top.

Canada's new government is committed to improving the environment on behalf of all Canadians. This includes concrete and realistic industrial targets recently brought forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the air that we all breathe.

Let us look at what happened with the clean air sections of Bill C-30. The opposition members gutted those clean air sections. We asked them to work with us to protect the health of Canadian children, the elderly and those suffering with respiratory illnesses. What did they do? They gutted those important sections out of the clean air act.

What did Canadians lose in the opposition's rush to gut the bill? Led by the NDP member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and the Liberal member for Ottawa South, what did Canadian's lose? They lost mandatory national air quality standards, and members opposite are applauding that those were lost. Canadians lost mandatory annual public reporting on air quality and actions to achieve national air quality standards. Canadians lost increased research and monitoring of air pollutants. Canadians lost tougher enforcement rules of compliance to air quality regulations. Finally, the opposition removed regulations that would have improved indoor air quality.

We heard from Health Canada officials at the environment committee yesterday about the importance of indoor air quality. Allow me to quote from their presentation:

Canadians spend about 90% of their time indoors.

In the built environments where we live, work, go to school, and play, Canadians are exposed to a variety of contaminants such as airborne moulds from excessive moisture, emissions from household products and building materials, and carbon monoxide from poorly vented oil and gas appliances.

These and other indoor air contaminants can cause or exacerbate many different ailments, including asthma, respiratory infections, and allergies.

Under the Clean Air Agenda announced last fall, the Government committed to develop a priority list of indoor air pollutants in partnership with provinces and territories, which will lead to guidelines and other measures to protect the health of Canadians from these pollutants.

Tragically, the opposition members removed indoor air regulations from Bill C-30. What did they add instead? They added delayed action by requiring six months of consultation around a new investment Bank of Canada, before we could move forward on tough new regulations for industry. They added complex and unworkable requirements that would make it harder, not easier, for government to act on air pollution.

Even worse, the Liberals, supported by the NDP, inserted a clause that would allow political interference into air quality standards. The Liberals would allow the environment minister to exempt economically depressed areas from air quality standards for two years. This would allow the environment minister to engage in political interference in setting air quality regulations. That is something Canadians certainly do not want.

It is also interesting to note that at the House of Commons environment committee yesterday, officials from Health Canada testified on the importance of national air quality standards as opposed to the regional patchwork as proposed by the NDP members and their Liberal buddies on Bill C-30.

Bill C-30 was key to protecting the health of Canadians and the environment. It is clear that the opposition picks politics over the environment.

The Liberals also inserted their carbon tax plan into the bill, a plan that would lead to zero greenhouse gas reductions. Unlike the Liberals, we believe actions speak louder than words. That is why we introduced the toughest, most realistic plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the world today.

For the first time ever, Canada's new government will force industry to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. We have taken immediate action to implement mandatory targets on industry so that greenhouse gases begin to come down.

Canada needs to turn the corner because we went in the wrong direction under the Liberals. Since the Liberals promised to reduce greenhouse gases in 1997, they have only gone up.

Canada's new government is turning back the hands of time on the disastrous Liberal record and we will cut 150 megatonnes by 2020. We will impose mandatory targets on industry so air pollution from industry is cut in half by 2015.

The government is serious about tackling climate change and protecting the air that we breathe for Canadians today and tomorrow. Our plan is real. It begins now, immediately, and will lead to concrete results with challenging but realistic targets for industry.

There is no doubt that we all need to work together if we are to address our growing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants. Unfortunately, the motion seeks more delay and more debate, and that is why we will not support it.

The time for talk is over. The time for action is now and I look forward to getting support from all opposition parties to implement our tough new regulatory framework on air emissions.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I almost rose on a point of order to allow the Conservatives a chance to read the bill that has been rewritten and revised. The parliamentary secretary, who I thought was there during the process, seems to have missed the critical elements, the fact that air pollution standards are set out as national standards, not vague objectives as they were originally written. The national binding standards cannot be undone, for NOx SOx, VOCs, particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen oxide, gaseous ammonia and mercury, all within the bill. Somehow he has invented some new fiction as to what happened and did not happen, but the bill exists. It is in the government's hands.

If he would like to have an option for Parliament to choose between his government's performance on the environment and the one that all parties wrote together, I encourage him to bring both of them forward, but he will not do it.

The Liberal failure on the environment is no longer an excuse for Conservative inaction and delay. That is just not a valid excuse for this. Limiting debate on this most critical issue from eight hours to two hours is not good governance. Canadians want to know what the government's plans are on climate change and they want the government to give Parliament the option of voting for a real climate change act.

The leading threat to our economy right now, as seen by many countries around the world, is the impacts of climate change. When we asked Finance Canada and Environment Canada officials if the government engaged any type of analysis either on the impacts to our economy of climate change or the benefits to our economy in creating a green and truly sustainable economy, it had not done a whiff of it. It has not even looked at the issue. It has not done any serious analysis since 1992.

Could the parliamentary secretary justify not even looking at the issue of the impact of climate change on our economy and the health of Canadians? Second, would he take the time to read the legislation that we rewrote together on air pollution, on indoor air quality and on climate change? All members of the House had input into.

Why has he not bothered to take the time to read it and why does he continue to mislead this House as to what is in the bill? It is there in black and white. It is there for him and all Canadians to read, that the national targets and standards are set. They are put into law. They cannot be undone by cabinet behind closed doors. They must be redone by a Parliament, which no Parliament in its right mind would ever do in the future.

It finally sets Canada on the path so real standards are put in place and so a sustainable economy can be created. The polluter pay principle is enshrined into law in Canada. Polluters can no longer get off the hook, as is the suggestion in the new Conservative plan that allows the oil sands to increase their volatile organic compounds by 60%, when every other industry in the country has to reduce.

There is no more justification for this. Will he bring the bill back for a fair and open debate? If the Conservatives are so into democracy, present their bill. We will present the bill that was issued by all members of the House and will allow a democratic vote to decide. This place exists for that. That is why people sent us here.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I grin when I hear the rhetoric from the member. Maybe he did not notice what was happening. He was busy ordering a cake for the end of Bill C-30 and meeting with his media buddies. Maybe he should have paid more attention.

Maybe he should have paid attention to the witnesses. Every one of the witnesses said that what he was proposing could not be done, except for one, but he ignored that and got busy ordering a celebration cake.

This is what was said in the Globe and Mail right after Bill C-30 ended and while he was cutting his cake:

— what the opposition parties, especially the Liberals, did to this bill in committee before they returned it to the House of Commons...made a bad law worse. With dozens of amendments, they slapped a hefty carbon tax on industry and then assigned the money from that tax to a new agency with the clout to give it back—if satisfied with the polluter's progress—or to spend it elsewhere. Their overhaul was so drastic that they even amended the name of the legislation.

Bill C-30 was severely damaged. He talked about the national air quality standards. We support national air quality standards, not regional standards where there can be political interference. All Canadians deserve to have air quality, not just some areas.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

I am going to have to cut him off partway through his remarks because of the interruption at 11 a.m., which I know will be a disappointment for him. However, I am warning him advance that he will have to divide his speech into parts.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I was on the committee that looked at Bill C-30 and I listened intently to the witnesses. I went to every meeting and I spoke to NDP members at length in relation to what they were proposing. Today, we see they are asking us to call Bill C-30. I am prepared to call it something. I would call, quite frankly, a collection of really bad ideas and a couple of good ones. What the government is going to do is take the good ones and put them to work for Canadians.

I am also pleased to address the House on the issue of what our government has done regarding the establishment of greenhouse gas and air pollution reduction targets. This is very important to Canadians.

The government has brought forward a comprehensive and integrated regulatory framework, which not only addresses greenhouse gases, but which also calls for concrete action to reduce air pollution which affects the health of Canadians every day.

Canadians have probably heard this one time or two times before, but Canada's new government did inherit a mess of ineffective and counterproductive strategies for air pollution and greenhouse gases. The previous government's strategies just did not deliver what Canadians need, that is healthy air and a healthy environment. This government is committed to do that.

The inaction by the previous Liberal government and the failure to set and follow up on plans and priorities for greenhouse gases and air pollution reduction requires a more realistic approach. We want to get results. We are done with talking, and the motion calls for more of that. We are not prepared to do that any longer. We think it has happened enough and we will get results for Canadians.

That is why the government has brought forward a regulatory framework to significantly reduce GHGs and air emissions from industrial sectors. That is why we have and will continue to introduce additional measures as time goes to fight climate change and to fight air pollution, which is so important to Canadians.

For those people who are listening, do not take my word for it and do not take the word of the member opposite. Look at the legislation, look at the website and talk to the experts. Canadians will see that this government is taking real concrete steps to help the health of Canadians.

I underline the point that we are putting in place regulatory reductions, not voluntary reductions as the previous government did, of greenhouse gas and air pollutants in place. We are setting stringent targets, but achievable sector based targets for emission reductions. What is more, the government's approach ensures that there is actual accountability. We stand for accountability on this side of the House and these steps and this approach ensures accountability as well as flexibility to accelerate these actions, as required by this government. We are taking real steps and we are going to continue to do so.

I will turn my attention now to what I consider some key aspects on what this government approached is based, aspects that set it apart from the lack of actions that was taken before by the previous government.

Our goals are the goals of Canadians. We have listened intently to the goals of Canadians. The legislation we have proposed and the continued changes and advancements that we will making are clearly what Canadians want to protect the health, the environment and the prosperity of Canadian jobs.

We are getting the job done and getting it done the right way, for our future, our children and our grandchildren. Our government has set targets which contribute to significant reductions, not only of greenhouse gases but also of air pollutants which are so important. These reductions will provide immediate and long term health benefits for Canadians. Often the air pollutants and the greenhouse gases come from the same source, so it makes sense to do this as a collection of ideas that work toward a better quality of life for Canadians.

I want to also take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of regulating reductions in air pollution at the same time as we regulate greenhouse gas reduction. The health impacts of poor air quality are very evident. Until people are touched by those poor air quality standards and the health effects of those, people do not realize what is important to them. As a government we realize what is important to Canadians. Approximately 5,900 deaths or 8% of all deaths in eight Canadian cities can be linked to air pollution every year. The government will get the job done for Canadians to protect their health.

We are also aware of reported increases over the last few decades of certain diseases affecting our population. I have even seen it in my community and in my own family. This is a significant cause for concern and one that in certain instances can be related to the quality of the air we breathe.

We know that asthma is increasing in our population. In fact, over the past 20 years it has more than tripled in children zero to 14 years of age. According to the 1996-97 national population health survey, over 2.2 million Canadians have been diagnosed with asthma by a physician. That is right, some 12.2% of children and 6.3% of adults have complaints of asthma. My youngest child Michael has asthma. Until we see what takes place with somebody with serious asthma and how it affects the qualify of life, we do not realize how important the steps are that this government is taking for Canadians.

It is clear that we need to take action now, not some six months or six years later as the NDP has proposed. We need to take action now to reduce all potential causes that increase incidences of illness and death, especially those which affect our children.

This government's approach--

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. member, but I believe the time has come for that. I wanted to give him reasonable time to complete his remarks, but he will have four minutes remaining in the time allotted when the debate on this matter is resumed later this day.

Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair has been thrilling crowds for more than 100 years. Growing from a community rodeo to an internationally renowned event, Cloverdale has become the place to be on the May long weekend.

This year's rodeo and country fair promises to be bigger and better than ever before, including live family entertainment, the Fraser Valley's largest midway, one of the best livestock, horticulture and agriculture exhibits in western Canada, and of course, exciting rodeo competitions featuring some of North America's top cowboys.

This weekend's celebration is an important part of Surrey's heritage. Even in today's rapidly expanding city, Surrey remains home to more than 500 farms. We have one of the country's richest growing areas, blessed with favourable soils, a mild climate and a long growing season.

I invite everyone to come out and celebrate our agriculture past and present and enjoy one of British Columbia's great Victoria Day long weekend traditions.

Assisted Human Reproduction Agency
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, next week is Infertility Awareness Week in Canada.

Parenthood is a joyful, challenging and enriching experience and one that most Canadians take for granted.

For 600,000 Canadians coping with infertility, building a family can feel like an insurmountable hurdle.

For these people, being unable to conceive a child can be the biggest physical and psychological problem they have ever had.

As a family doctor, I watched some of my patients struggle with infertility and tried to process the options available to them.

The new Assisted Human Reproduction Agency is to ensure that Canadians, like my former patients who need help forming families receive that help in a safe and ethical way.

It is imperative that the agency be composed of scientific experts and patient representatives, but that has not yet been accomplished. There are still three empty spots on the board. I urge the government to fill them as soon as possible to ensure that families struggling with infertility receive the most complete and informed guidance.

Warwick Cheese Festival
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, recently, we were honoured to learn that the Canadian Intellectual Property Office has granted the trademark “Warwick capitale des fromages fins du Québec”.

I am certain that this designation of Warwick as the fine cheese capital of Quebec will make the 13th Warwick cheese festival, to be held from June 14 to 17, even more exciting. The theme of the festival is pride in the flavour of Quebec cheeses.

Warwick and its cheese festival have a solid reputation. This year, the event will feature the Quebec fine cheese competition, concerts with famous performers, and activities such as cheese sculpture and the “happy cheesemakers olympiad”. Organizers and the 500 volunteers are expecting over 40,000 people to attend.

I invite all the hon. members and everyone, in fact, to participate in the festival. They will no doubt be pleased to see how hard the people of Warwick have worked to make this unique event a big success and how proud they are of their festival. Long live the fine cheese capital of Quebec.

Mackenzie Gas Project
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, according to a report in yesterday's Financial Post, talks are under way which may result in the federal government becoming a major partner in the Mackenzie gas project. If this is so, then Canada must, as part of its participation, insist on the development of an overall industrial strategy for the Mackenzie Valley.

Government and industry have called the pipeline a basin opening project. Unfortunately, instead of an overall guiding plan for the careful development of the pristine Mackenzie Valley, the Liberals and Conservatives have allowed the huge multinationals a free rein.

If the hard-earned dollars of ordinary Canadians are to go to support this project, then it only makes good business sense to have a long term vision for the future.

In the private sector it is well known that failure to plan means planning to fail.

Our territory needs to be developed sustainably, carefully, with a maximization of benefits to Canadians and northerners, and with full protection of our environment.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Statements By Members

May 18th, 2007 / 11 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that this coming Monday, May 21, marks the 90th anniversary of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Canadian agency of the commission is responsible for the commemoration of 19,000 brave souls who gave their lives in the service of their home and native land. These distinguished men and women rest in more than 3,300 cemeteries and are remembered on five memorials in North America.

However, the commission's work goes far beyond those statistics. Anyone who has had the opportunity to visit Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries in Europe, Asia and Africa will agree that these sites are remarkable for their serenity and beauty.

Those who sacrificed their hopes and dreams for our freedom, democracy and rule of law have a final resting place that befits their solemn commitment and duty to their country.

Congratulations to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on its remarkable work.