House of Commons Hansard #36 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was energy.

Topics

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join the debate. I will ask the parliamentary secretary a few questions.

Why does he keep repeating that this is a series of modifications to over 20 years of statutory law when, in fact, these amendments were proposed under the government's own clean air act some short 8 to 12 months ago? Why is he not repeating that the modifications to the Energy Efficiency Act were censored? Why is he not telling Canadians that when these measures were incorporated in the government's clean air act under the previous minister, the government, not liking the end result of the complete reconfiguration of the clean air act, which was a climate change response for Canada, prorogued Parliament and killed the clean air act to avoid bringing these changes to bear? Why did it take a Liberal senator to reintroduce these measures in the Senate to strengthen Canada's Energy Efficiency Act?

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Actually, Mr. Speaker, the member is right that these amendments were first proposed 18 months ago. Obviously, since then we have had an election and that means new legislation must be brought back. When it was brought in, there were very few objections to it. The government has taken a look at it, decided it is an important part of our mandate, so we have moved ahead with it as a bill, as something that we should support.

In the speech I gave a few minutes ago, we are encouraging the opposition members to join with us, in a spirit of collaboration, to get the bill passed as quickly as possible, to bring in these amendments, so that Canadians can benefit from energy efficiency. The environment could also benefit from the changes that would be made through the amendments in the act.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for introducing this exciting addition to our environmental initiative. Our former Minister of the Environment is in the House with us and we have had great success with our present environment minister, leading the way to practical results.

As we have indicated, one of the most efficient ways to reduce our energy consumption is by the small, incremental, cost-saving measures that we saw on Saturday across the world, with everybody shutting down their lights for an hour. People understand that everybody has a role to play.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague, how can Canadians take advantage of this offer that is being extended through the Energy Efficiency Act amendments?

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, maybe I should talk a little bit about how we got to this point.

There has been a strong effort by Natural Resources Canada to give priority through the legislation to products that are currently covered by similar legislation of other major trading partners, so we have strong coherence among the different partners involved in this activity, the provinces, the federal government, the United States, which of course is an important trading partner.

The changes being made are really good for Canadians. A study has shown that there will be no net cost to the producers in this country. They will be able, through the changes being made in the bill, to recover any costs that might be accrued because of the changes in regulation. That is a positive thing for Canadians. They can go ahead with it. They can support the legislation, and in the end, they are the ones who will save money.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-3 broadens the regulatory parameters of the Energy Efficiency Act. It remains to be seen how much they will be implemented. The amendments could, for example, make it possible to set high standards for vehicle emissions in order to improve their energy efficiency or establish eco-energy labelling for vehicles, as the Bloc has been requesting for years.

Apart from the updating of certain regulations, how much does the government want to do under this bill in order to really improve energy efficiency in Canada and Quebec?

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, the bill is far reaching in its effect and its impact across our country for Canadians. I will just go over it quickly.

The amendments to the act would clarify that a standard can be established for classes of products, not just individual products. That would improve the administration of the act. It would expand the scope of products that would be covered by authorizing the development of standards for those products, and that covers everything that affects energy use, not just those who use energy or produce it. It would more closely control interprovincial shipments once standards are enacted and it would certainly lay out energy efficiency labelling in a new way that has not been laid out in the past.

The bill is far-reaching. We think it would do the job in terms of bringing energy efficiency even more strongly to Canada than the original act did. I should maybe mentioned that the objective of the original Energy Efficiency Act was to try to eliminate the least efficient energy using products on the market, and it seems to have worked very well. It has had a direct impact on the reduction of atmospheric emissions and certainly we continue to move forward in that direction.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know specifically whether the government is giving itself the regulatory means. Specifically, what programs does it intend to implement in order to have a real energy efficiency policy that looks promising when it comes to climate change and would generally help Canadians save energy? We need something concrete. If he wants to provide tools to do this, what specifically are the government’s intentions today?

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, we are asking the opposition to join with us to pass this legislation so we can begin to put that framework in place. I think the best thing the member could do is to take a look back at what happened with the original Energy Efficiency Act. It was put in place in order to regulate the energy use in a number of areas. It particularly dealt with those appliances and those products that were not energy efficient.

Therefore, I would think that everyone here would probably agree that the act has worked very well in removing a lot of those products from the market, allowing new products to be developed and come to the market. However, the argument that I made earlier is that technology has changed, so we need to move ahead and that is what the bill does.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming, Industry; the hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, Foreign Affairs; and the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre, Ukraine.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

March 30th, 2009 / 4:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to this bill to amend the Energy Efficiency Act.

It is interesting to follow the parliamentary secretary after his remarks and his responses to questions with a couple of fundamental facts for Canadians to understand. First, this bill is actually being sponsored by the leader of the government in the Senate, but of course the critic there is hon. Grant Mitchell, a Liberal senator who has been driving this through the Senate for some time now.

It is a bill that will make, as the parliamentary secretary has said, a number of changes to the existing Energy Efficiency Act here in Canada. It will, in effect, broaden the scope of the government's ability to regulate consumer products that use energy, which in and of itself is a good thing.

The fundamental challenge, the theme I am going to come back to, about this bill and the amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act is that they are now being presented completely and utterly in isolation. They are presented in isolation of a climate change plan for the country. They are presented in isolation from fiscal structures in the country that may or may not be driving energy efficiency because we all know that energy efficiency and a carbon constrained future, with the reduction of greenhouse gases, is a major and massive competitive factor that Canada is now pursuing.

We are in a globally highly sought after race which many jurisdictions want to win, and that is the race to better and higher energy efficiency standards for our production processes, for the services we render, and for the way in which the government procures its goods and services.

There is yet another missing link in this package. How do these energy efficiency measures connect with a comprehensive innovative strategy for the future of Canada? How do they connect to the existing fiscal measures that are in place? How do they connect to the government's overall program expenditures? How do they connect to the government's own procurement system, having watched the green procurement regime of the previous government disappear under this government?

How is it connected to the government's own energy efficient audit system for Canadian homeowners which has been seriously undermined and weakened? How does it connect to the government's new short-term funding for the building of decks and patios to try to stimulate the economy? How does it connect to the standards by which stimulus money is being invested in Canadian society? What is the matrix here that the government is bringing to bear on billions of dollars of necessary stimulus spending? How do these connect?

It is all so passing strange that the government has been mounting for months, now a campaign, the publicity and communications campaign, to tell Canadians that it is a red tape buster or, in the case of energy efficiency and climate change, a green tape buster. The Minister of Transport, for example, regularly talks about being the accountability guy, the efficiency guy.

Why is it, surreptitiously, that just last Friday afternoon the Government of Canada, the Conservatives, tabled an outrageous document which lists hundreds of exceptions for environmental assessment provisions in this country claiming that these have to be removed, these standards for environmental assessment have to be removed because, of course, they will impede, the government suggests, stimulus investment in the Canadian economy.

How do we square this? On the one hand, we have one document that says we have to do away with environmental assessment, and yet now we have a new series of amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act which say that businesses are going to have to abide by a whole new suite of energy efficiency standards.

Is not this suite of energy efficiency amendments yet more red tape being tabled by the Conservative Party, or really is the Conservative Party being disingenuous, being deliberately misleading with the Canadian people about whether environmental assessment is in fact an impediment to getting important stimulus investment out the door?

However, it is worse than that. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities told us there already exists over $13 billion of so-called shovel-ready projects that have been environmentally assessed. So why is it that the government is speaking out of both sides of its mouth? Which story are Canadians supposed to believe?

I think what we are seeing here is the end result of three and a half years of non-stop lurching by the Conservative Party when it comes to energy efficiency and the climate change crisis. It is jumping literally from ice floe to ice floe as the Arctic thaws at breakneck speed.

There is no climate change plan in this country. There is no more Turning the Corner plan. Everything has evaporated into thin air. Instead of actually stopping the nonsense, stopping the lurching from one communications campaign to another over the past three and a half years on the climate change crisis, the government is introducing these minor but important changes to the Energy Efficiency Act and expecting Canadians to believe these amendments constitute a climate change plan. They do not.

There is absolutely no doubt now; it is conclusive. Canada has abandoned the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, although the government does not have the guts to stand up and say it.

It is the only international treaty in existence on the planet today to deal with atmospheric carrying capacity and the climate change crisis. There is no other. For any government that unilaterally changes the baseline year, for example, from 1990 to 2006, which is also part of the government's communications campaign, the universe only started in 2006. In terms of everything that came before, such as Prime Minister Mulroney's work, Mr. Stanfield's work, Mr. Trudeau's work, the work of successive governments, in the communications campaign none of that existed before.

Therefore, in 2006, the government came and unilaterally changed the terms of conditions of our climate change obligations, and instead of coming clean and telling the world, the international community and Canadians, that it was abandoning the only international agreement there is, it bobbed, weaved, lurched and did what it did best. It communicated with shock and awe. It tried to stop the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act by sending a minister into a committee of the other place, making a fool of himself by actually putting up fictitious numbers and then getting caught. Like the schoolchild who gets caught cheating on the exam, the minister was really reminiscent of a child who has an answer for everything except for the fact that he got cheating on the exam.

Therefore, we have a situation now where this is completely incoherent. It attaches to nothing. Eleven independent groups have examined the government's previous Turning the Corner environmental climate change plan. Each and every single group that has examined the government's plan has said it is not real. It cannot possibly achieve the targets that the government says it will achieve.

Is that why, for example, we have heard no talk of this Turning the Corner plan in months since the last election campaign?

Is that why the only thing the Government of Canada can put in the window on climate change is a so-called dialogue with the United States, a dialogue I described as a dialogue of the deaf?

Canada is now apparently entering dialogue and negotiation with the United States on an appropriate so-called continental climate change response, but we have no plan.

Who in their right mind, in any organization—and I defy the Conservatives to name one organization in any sector of Canadian society, business, non-governmental, civil society, government, anywhere—would purport to be entering into negotiations with a sovereign state like the United States that excels at negotiations, and have no plan?

I think the only group that is purporting to foist this on the Canadian people is the Conservative Party of Canada. How can one enter into negotiations without a plan? One cannot.

We now have a situation where these amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act are being put in the window as window dressing, just like the government's environmental enforcement provisions in another act, in order to masquerade or to cover the fact that there is no climate change plan for this country, over and over again. I do not know what it is going to take.

Even the government cloaking itself in the flag of Obama is not working, because Canadians know they should not be taking their climate change strategy and their plan out of Washington. We should not be taking the design for a cap and trade system out of Washington. We should not be taking the price of a tonne of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases in carbon dioxide equivalent measurement out of Washington.

We should not be abandoning the more than 174 countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and wait for Washington. We should not be waiting for 535 congressmen and congresswomen in Washington who have the extremely difficult task of delivering up a cap and trade system and a renewable energy system to President Obama.

This bill to amend the Energy Efficiency Act does not a climate change plan make. It is a simple series of obvious amendments to deal with the fact that the government has no plan.

One of the important provisions of the bill, I will say, is this: It will require that the minister compare Canada's energy efficiency standards to those of the United States and Mexico and report to Parliament here every three years. That is important because of the preponderance of white goods that are now being manufactured in a continental perspective in Mexico.

That is important. It does increase the scope and flexibility of the authority the government can bring for more effective regulation to govern energy consumption. That is a good thing.

We have had this debate. It was at the Canada's Clean Air Act hearings, the hearings of the special legislative committee. We spent hours, for months, sitting until midnight, working and working harder yet again to achieve a proper outcome for the country.

What was the end result? The Prime Minister took his soccer ball and went home with it. He prorogued Parliament. He did not like the outcome of the work of parliamentarians. He was not prepared to abide by the majority wishes of this House and took his ball and went home with it.

We have now been set back at least three and a half years, probably five years, in dealing with the climate change crisis. Once again, Energy Efficiency Act amendments do not a climate change plan make.

Why is the government unable to tell us how the knee bone connects to the thigh bone, or the hip bone connects to the thigh bone? It is incapable of telling us because it has not done its homework.

When it came into power in 2006, it set loose a series of ministers who were two- and three-men wrecking crews. They disassembled the climate change programming that was in place. They cut over $5 billion from climate change programming.

Here are some of the ironic aspects of those changes.

Just a month ago, the Prime Minister's own National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy said that we need a commercial energy efficiency investment program. In 2006, the government killed a program called the commercial building retrofit program because it was brought in by a former government. How could it possibly be good if it was not aligned to the speak-think of the Conservative Party?

The wind power production incentive, the WPPI, as it was called, brought in and providing good fiscal stimulus for our transition to a carbon-constrained future, is gone. The government did not like it. It did not belong to the Conservatives. It could not be Conservative speak-think. The Conservatives could not sell it as theirs. Everything that came before was bad.

The renewable power production incentive, important for solar panels, wave technology, tidal energy sources, biomass and other potentials, is effectively gone. It does not exist anymore.

There is yet another one. All Canadians can see the government's silly ads on television right now about tax credits and picking which one applies to oneself, as if that makes a climate change policy. Forewarned by the official opposition and its own officials at Environment Canada and Finance Canada, the government of tax credits brought in a tax-deductible transit pass.

Just a month ago, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development chided the government, or worse than chided, I think, took the government to serious task about the fact that it claimed it would reduce tens of thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. It cost $637 million, and in the words of the commissioner, had no effect on reducing greenhouse gases. Worse, it had no effect on driving up ridership in our public transit systems. Instead of taking the $637 million and investing it as it should have in the capital needs, the infrastructure needs of public transit systems across this country, it chose to use yet another tax credit to try to convince Canadians it was the right thing to do.

It is no wonder that our allies and countries with whom we have been doing business for 50 years on energy and environmental issues are scratching their heads and wondering in disbelief what has happened to the country of Canada when it comes to environment, energy and economic opportunities.

The government brought in a $1.5 billion ecotrust. Canadians remember that one. It was during the last Parliament.

We had the Minister of the Environment at the committee and we asked him to tell us why the government put $1.5 billion into a trust fund. He said provinces were drawing it down and it was being used for greenhouse gas emission reductions. We asked him if he could illustrate just one project where the money was spent. The minister could not. We then asked him how many tonnes of greenhouse gases have been reduced as a result of that fund, or what metrics were forced on the provinces, what standards he told the provinces they ought to abide by in spending the money. It turns out that there are no metrics or standards.

It is no surprise that this bill on amending the Energy Efficiency Act cannot be seen in isolation. It is being presented in isolation, but it cannot be seen in isolation. It is no surprise that it does not connect to programmatic spending or fiscal stimuli. It does not connect at all to our climate change plan because we do not have one.

Now we are drifting and waiting for Washington. I think it is a shameful thing for Canada to abandon its sovereignty in preparing a climate change strategy for this country such that we can be good international citizens and come to the negotiating table in Copenhagen with clean hands, something that will be very important as we seek the cooperation of the world to achieve an implementable climate change agreement for 2012 and beyond.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, when my colleague mentioned homework, the question that came to mind was: What has the government been doing for the last three years? All of the government's environmental efforts appear to boil down to a Senate bill on energy efficiency products.

If the government were a student, it would go to its teacher and say that the dog ate its homework. What has the government been doing for the last three years?

I remember that when the Liberals were in government and we spoke about regulation to help the environment, members of the Canadian Alliance and now the Conservative Party would say that regulation was a tax. How can the government say, on the one hand, that other parties want to raise taxes when they want to regulate and improve the environment and yet it brings in a bill that is aimed at regulating. Will it call that a tax?

What if a company were to say that this will hurt its bottom line and it will need to shut down a plant or two? What will the government say then? Will it reverse itself? It seems to lack direction on the environment. It says one thing on one issue and something completely opposite on another environment issue. Where is the government going?

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to know where the government is going. My colleague is absolutely right. As I said earlier, it is lurching from ice floe to ice floe.

It portrays that the government does not understand, the Conservative Party does not understand, its Reform roots do not understand, its common sense revolutionaries do not understand that we can and must today integrate the environment, the economy and energy, and that we can give rise to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of jobs. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are available to us. They are there for the taking.

Different jurisdictions and different provinces have stopped waiting for leadership from the federal government and have simply gone it alone. Quebec, Ontario, B.C. and Manitoba did what many states had to do in the United States under the government's sister republican party government in Washington for eight years.

I cannot figure it out. I have no divining rod but I think it is because fundamentally the Conservatives just do not get it. I am not surprised, given the Prime Minister's 20 years on record as denying the existence of climate change.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Cambridge
Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Minister of State (Science and Technology)

Mr. Speaker, I listened the entire time while he did his very best to mislead Canadians, if I may say that, or attempt to, by forgetting some of the key issues that this government has brought forward. I do not have time to mention them all. The member asked for just one.

I would like to remind the member that we brought back the eco-energy program because the one under the Liberals the vast majority of the money was going to administration. This Conservative government prefers to spend money on action.

We did tell the Liberals before that the $12 billion in their plan to purchase clean air credits from foreign countries was not actually a plan that would help green up the Canadian environment.

I have already mentioned to the member before about the first tidal turbine put in the water off the coast of B.C. by the Conservative government. I guess the Liberals in 13 years could not get that done.

He asked for one example, so I will give him just one example of the hundreds of millions of dollars this government has given out to researchers in this country. It gave $9.1 million, and the member is not listening but I guess that is typical, to a green chemistry commercialization and research program whereby chemists can actually begin the process of removing solvents, for instance, in our pharmaceutical industry, which will decrease the waste coming out of that industry tremendously. The plan of this government is to support basic research, which is, of course, ignored by the Liberals who are more interested in talk.

I wonder if the member would simply acknowledge at least that one project that he asked for.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course I acknowledge the project. The problem is, however, that I asked whether the Conservative Party could name one project funded out of the $1.3 billion ecotrust moneys, which the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development said just a month ago was untraceable and which the Auditor General said was untraceable.

No one is talking about some of the other investments that are going on. We are asking for accountability and transparency.

When it comes to the question of clean air credits, once again, the ideology trumps evidence. Is that member telling us today that when President Obama goes to Copenhagen and negotiates an international trading system with the European Union and brick economies that Canada will not participate? That is what two ministers said before in committee. The problem with that is that he does not understand what he is saying. It means that if a Canada has a purely domestic cap and trade system, a very small economy, a very small trading system, it will be liquid, which dries up the cost of carbon dioxide per tonne, which means that our Canadian companies will be penalized, it will be more expensive and we will be less competitive, not only vis-à-vis the United States and Mexico, in a NAFTA context, but internationally as well.

Here is the problem. There is no climate change plan, no carbon pricing, no cap and trade system and no regulatory system. We have been waiting for three and a half years and there is nothing but shock on all communications, and Canadians know it. The government has been dancing and lurching from one to another trying to make something look real but it is not.

I encourage the member to use his influence, go to the cabinet and to his colleagues and ask for a time out. We need a climate change plan for this country and we need to know what it looks like. There is nothing here. We definitely need it and we need it as soon as possible.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member took part in the study in a previous Parliament of Bill C-30 which included some of the measures that are proposed in this bill on energy efficiency. However, what I would like to ask him about are the things that we do not see in this bill.

I know he worked with other opposition parties and members on the committee to make considerable improvements to what the Conservatives called the so-called clean air act, which it clearly was not when it started but by the time it had been amended and revised considerably by the committee, it was actually beginning to look not so bad.

I wonder if the member would like to comment on what has been left out here, what we do not see here.

He talked a bit about ecoENERGY which was gutted in the recent budget. Perhaps he would like to comment again on what is missing in the budget in relation to energy efficiency.