House of Commons Hansard #40 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ethanol.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member is blessed with great wisdom. I would like to congratulate him on being a moderate and extremely clear-headed man. We will support this bill. We will see what the witnesses have to say in committee. We will not hesitate to make amendments if necessary.

However, we would like to see other reforms as well. That is why, a year ago, the Leader of the Bloc Québécois asked me to chair a party working group to propose reforms to the justice system.

I worked with my colleagues from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, Ahuntsic and Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, and we produced a very good report that I am particularly proud of. We will turn these proposals into legislative reality at the earliest opportunity. In fact, we put these proposals forward last June, and they were quite well received.

For example, we were concerned about parole, the relevance of the accelerated parole review process and pre-trial detention because for every day of pre-trial detention served, two days are subtracted from the sentence. We were also concerned about the fact that socially, there is no law against wearing symbols representing criminal motorcycle gangs.

Those are the proposals the Bloc put forward.

Clearly, we have always been very serious, responsible and dedicated to the creation of the best possible measures for our fellow citizens.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is the House ready for the question?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

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

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

moved that Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is pleasure to lead off the debate on this bill today. It is very apropos.

Before I get into the meat of my speech, I would ask for unanimous consent to split my time with my parliamentary secretary.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is there unanimous consent for the minister to split his time in this way?

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member for Winnipeg Centre says that I owe him one and if it is just one, that is not too bad. I know the interest will pile up very quickly. He is a tough guy to deal with, Mr. Speaker, and you know that.

It is very apropos to have this bill before us today. Many of us enjoyed the camaraderie at the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association event last night in room 200, and everyone had a great time. It is a tremendous organization. This bill is the genesis of a lot of work it has done with the government to build the biofuels industry in Canada.

We are playing a bit of catch-up. The Americans and other countries like Brazil and so forth are light years ahead of us in getting this done. We are happy to work with them to make that happen, to get us an industry that will help us to start to meet our greenhouse gas commitments, which we are taking on globally.

This was a joint work piece between Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada and my department at Agriculture Canada. Farmers will play a huge role in the way we will roll this out.

The amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act are starting a job that will lead our nation and perhaps the world into an era of greater environmental sustainability. Currently the act provides authority for the regulation of sellers, producers and importers of fuel.

The proposed amendments in Bill C-33 will provide the additional authorities needed to make efficient national regulations requiring renewable fuel content in Canadian fuel. The authorities we are seeking include: the authority to regulate at point of fuel blending; authority to track exports; and exemption for small volume producers and importers. This is another example of how our government is taking concrete action to promote biofuels production in Canada, acting as a catalyst to an industry that is going to have wide sweeping benefits.

As the Prime Minister has said, the domestic and global appetite for more environmentally friendly sources of energy is growing by the day. Canada is and will remain an energy superpower. We rank fifth in the world in total energy production, which is amazing. We are America's largest supplier of oil, natural gas, electricity and uranium. With the government's actions today, we are on our way to becoming a clean energy superpower adding biofuels to that list.

In December 2006, the government began to move Canada toward smarter consumption by announcing our intention to require a 5% average renewable content in gasoline by 2010. We also signalled our objective to develop a similar requirement of 2% renewable content in diesel fuel and heating oil by 2012.

Meeting these requirements will make a real difference for the Canadian environment and overall the globe. Reaching these targets will be the equivalent of taking almost one million cars off our highways. That is substantive. Close to three billion litres of renewable fuels will be needed annually to meet the requirements of these new regulations. It is a very substantive start.

Canadian production in 2007 was about one billion litres, so the expansion will represent tremendous economic opportunity for Canada's 61,000 grain and oilseeds producers, and they welcome the challenge.

With the transportation sector accounting for more than one-quarter of Canada's greenhouse gas outputs, increasing the renewable fuel content in gasoline will put a huge dent in emissions.

The health and well-being of Canadians depends on the quality of both our environment and our economy. They do go hand in hand.

The government has announced $200 million in funding for the ecoagricultural biofuels capital initiative designed to encourage agriculture producer investment in biofuels production facilities and that is through my department.

We have recently announced the first two contribution agreements under this program for a new biodiesel plant in Alberta and an ethanol plant in Saskatchewan, which I had the pleasure to attend the opening. It happens to be in my riding. It is at Unity, Saskatchewan. It is a component of the North West Terminal, a privately owned farmer producer owned terminal, which is now expanding into the ethanol industry. I welcome its tremendous input in designing a lot of what we are doing.

The gentlemen on the ground there, chaired by Gerald Rewerts and Merv Slater, Bill Fraser and Jason Skinner, the manager of the facility and his dad, Jim Skinner, the chair of the board, put together a lot of ideas and worked with us to develop a lot of regulatory positions and so on that would help them. I give them a tremendous amount of credit for taking the time to educate us in the real world of ethanol and biofuel capacities. They have done a tremendous job.

We expect to sign several more agreements with other plants, with farmer participation, in the very near future.

As well, we have invested $20 million in the biofuels opportunities for producers initiative, or BOPI as everybody knows it. This initiative provides assistance to biofuels related projects across Canada with farmer representation in it. About 120 have applied for these funds. It helps them design their business plans.

This will help reinvigorate rural Canada, and we know so well that rural communities often find themselves isolated. They have higher transportation costs. Everything costs more to get there. Changing over to biofuels will help our environment. It will also help these people feel like they are tied back into mainstream Canada.

Producers will be able to contract with and ship to a processor in the nearest town rather than halfway around the world. That will save energy as well.

These new plants are great news for our farmers, providing a new market for their wheat, corn, canola and potentially other crops as we start to design high starch products, higher oil commodities to give us a broader range of feed stocks. It is all good news.

All of this presents an exciting new market for Canadian farmers. Biofuels production is helping farmers grow their businesses while creating new jobs, especially in rural communities. Biofuels offer economic benefits to farmers and communities by providing an alternate local market for their production of grains and oilseeds.

We will continue to feed the world and supply energy too. There is a lot of discussion out there that we have to do one or the other, but we cannot do both. We have the capability, with our modern agricultural techniques and our climbing yields per acre. They have been increasing for decades. This is part of the problem that our grains and oilseeds sector faced over the last number of years. They got too darned efficient. They got too good at what they did. They are looking for another stream of production to work their products into. This is the answer to the questions they have asked.

We have no problem keeping up with the demand for our supply of safe, secure quality food we produce on our farms, but we can also supply that energy market and have the expertise to market both commodities as well as supply the domestic demand. I know my producers are up to that job, and I know yours in Manitoba are too, Mr. Speaker. They are looking forward to that challenge. They are that efficient.

Looking beyond grain and oilseed based fuels, the government understands that biofuel technologies are evolving every day, and that is a fact. We have had some great work done at the University of Saskatchewan. We have had other universities and private sector initiatives working on facilities as well, and the sky is the limit. These folks are moving well ahead.

We have invested $500 million in new technology that will take waste products such as wheat straw and wood chips and turn them into valuable commodities to create cleaner burning renewable fuels.

We have also seen a lot of work done on methane recapture. We have seen a tremendous amount of work being done on biodigesters. We are seeing slaughter facilities that are able to take the parts and pieces of cattle, the SRM, specific risk materials, and work them in such a way that they are generating a diesel product out of that type of commodity.

I have had discussions with the McCain folks in Brandon, a large facility. They slaughter some 1,300 hogs an hour. They are taking a lot of the waste products and running them into biodigesters. They have a line that will start to turn biodiesel out of that end of the facility as well. It is all good news.

We are taking that product out of the landfills. We are taking it out of the environmental concerns by turning it into biodiesel and bioethanol products. It is just a tremendous opportunity to move ahead.

In July Prime Minister Harper announced an investment of $1.5 billion over nine years—

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. I am sorry to interrupt the minister, but he knows he is not supposed to refer to the Prime Minister by name, or anybody else for that matter.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I guess he is so well known across Canada, I do not have to do an advertisement for him.

The Prime Minister, whom everybody loves, made an announcement of $1.5 billion over nine years under ecoenergy for biofuels. This is a tremendous incentive program for producers of renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel. In total, we are investing some $2.2 billion over nine years in biofuel development across our great country.

When it comes to biofuels, the facts are clear. Biofuels will increasingly provide a cleaner burning, renewable energy source for all Canadians. Across the board, biofuels reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, pure ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 40% over its entire life cycle. That is tremendous news.

This is why we are looking ahead to the next generation of biofuels development such as wheat straw, corn stover, wood residue and switchgrass.

The government is not just investing in biofuels. We are investing in Canada's future. We are focusing on innovation. We are supporting farmers in their tradition as good stewards of the land. A strong biofuels sector will contribute to a stronger foundation for farmers, communities and all Canadians.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, Liberals are supportive of renewable fuels. We put millions of dollars into biodiesel and ethanol in the past, and we are supportive of that direction.

I have a question. Could the member outline for us, because I am sure the department would have done a lot of research on this, the effects of the major ethanol industry in Canada and the United States on our farmers.

Has it caused an increase in the price of corn? If that has occurred, has it therefore been of help to our farmers? I assume it would be. Have other food industries in Canada that use corn as an input been affected? What is the department's analysis on those types of impacts?

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Those are quite broad reaching questions, Mr. Speaker.

Of course, there have been studies done. For every gain there is always a cost. We have certainly seen the price of corn skyrocket, go up by tremendous gains. We have seen the price of barley and some of the wheat feedstocks and so on go up. There is some gain to farmers overall. There is a gain there. There is no doubt about that.

The downside at this point is that we do not have enough production, that there is enough distiller's grain, which they can now use as feedstocks with some additives, into the livestock sector to offset the higher cost of corn, barley et cetera. We are in that transition period between the greater good for everyone and everybody getting a fair slice of what will come.

I have no doubt at all that within the next two to three years, as a lot of plants come online, that it will lower the cost of feedstocks to the livestock and hog sectors, and everybody will gain by this.

We will also benefit by having a quality product. One of the highest inputs for the livestock sector and the grain sector is fuel. When we rely on fossil fuels, we do not control the cost to the same extent as we do when it is our canola in our facility in the next little town, which we are able to buy back when it is blended and used. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity out there.

The member started off by talking about the Liberals supporting this initiative. I welcome that. I am hopeful that we can pass this piece of legislation very quickly. I do not want to see games played with these types of initiatives as we are seeing with justice bills and so on. However, I know their hearts are in the right place. I know that no one wants to stand in the way of an increased value at the farm gate, so I welcome the hon. member's intervention.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's speech outlined some of the conditions within which the government wishes to promote biofuels. Biofuels are a very large component these days in many countries as they attempt to change their energy forums.

I had the opportunity to visit Brazil. I talked to many people there about the efforts they are making on biofuels. I saw the service stations where not only mixed gasoline-ethanol can be bought, but pure ethanol can be bought as well. It is a very large industry there with its own particular issues.

I noted the comment of the member. He said that we are playing catch-up in this world right now with the biofuels industry, and there is no doubt about that.

The question I have is, will we make the same mistakes that other countries have made with the biofuels? Will we make the same mistakes in this country, or will we learn from what the world has experienced with the development of the biofuels industry in order to ensure that our biofuels industry, our attempt, works better and gives a very solid future for Canadians?

The hon. member talked about getting a million cars off the road. He also talked about a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the use of the biofuel. I will not argue with him, but the Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner in a report a year and a half ago talked about a 20% improvement, using ethanol in the mix, that was assigned in terms of the life cycle of that product and the energy used to produce it.

Which is the number the hon. member is using? Does a million cars off the road represent the 20% improvement in CO2 emissions, the 40% improvement in CO2 emissions--