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 regions.

Topics

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's intervention speaks, in large measure, to the importance of allowing members of Parliament to speak their mind during any debate. He has raised a series of issues that might have some relevance to the marine liability issue.

Would he spend a few moments reflecting on one issue he has raised, which is the significance of the environmental impact of the release of greenhouse gases when there is an environmental destruction of our forestry? The reason I would like him to do that is the bill will be examined in committee in the context of how to apply the liability issues to freighters, to cargo carriers of product that could potentially have a damaging effect on the environment.

Since he talked about the value to a pristine environment, if we transfer that value onto an insurance model, then we could impose upon those individuals or corporations that engage in activity detrimental to the environment an appropriate tariff for liability purposes.

Would he share his views and his thoughts in that vein for those of us who serve on the committee and would like to bring some of those issues to a more specific discussion of the bill when it does come to committee?

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, on the issue of marine liability, it is very important that user groups be brought in front of the committee. They need to be consulted to establish a mechanism and one they are fully aware of since they are the ones who will be responsible for moving those tankers and ships through various routes.

The other point I would like to make is the routes have to be established. They have to be out of the way of major marine mammal areas as they affect marine mammal reproduction. We need to deal with the issue of sonar and the use of sonar for our military. We know military sonar has a significant and profound impact upon marine mammals.

Double-hulling is another issue that needs to be brought up. We need to discuss when to do that.

Overall, we need to consult with the private sector on how to prevent these things from happening. We talk about what we will do when they happen, but it is critically important that we do all that we can to prevent these marine disasters. We know they can have such a profound impact upon ecosystems and the people who live near them. We have seen that they can be devastating.

My hon. colleague asked about forests. The destruction of forests result in an increase in greenhouse gases and a decrease of the absorbent capacity of the oceans to remove greenhouse gases and to absorb oxygen. This results in a decrease of oxygen in the oceans, which kills all manner of fish.

Also, because the oceans have a decreased ability to absorb greenhouse gases, the temperature therefore will go up. This results in an increased melting of the glaciers of the world, most of which will in fact become extinct over the next century.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today to Bill C-7, an act to amend the Marine Liability Act. This is not my riding's greatest concern, but it does show that I give thought to the bills that are important to this House.

I have reservations about the nature of this particular law as it brings out some of the dilatory nature of the government. This law is acting on a 2005 report.

It is important that the House and the government address some of the less glamorous sides of government. However, I think the laws that we have seen coming through the transportation and infrastructure committee of late are laws that could have been and should have been addressed some time ago and could have been and should have been part of some animated discussion in terms of setting standards.

I think they find themselves less subject to that because of the long time it has taken for the government of the day to actually address the business of the day. For people even lightly concerned with the affairs of the country, it has now become commonplace to recognize that the Conservative government has been very occupied with its own politics and its angling for power. The actual day-to-day running of government and moving forward with the business of government have lost out in very significant measure.

The bill before us today addresses some significant things in the sense of conventions to which Canada has made itself a signatory. It addresses a glaring gap in the liability coverage with respect to adventure tourism as it relates to the Maritimes, our various coasts and their ability to continue. People know that the whole move toward ecotourism in terms of employment and so on leaves those operators disadvantaged. The Conservative government has put a whole range of the public interest on a slow boat that will only come into harbour when it is in the political interest of the government, not the public interest. This is a hallmark of the government. It is not just the public interest, but some very specific parts of the country that suffer.

I predict that this is going to become increasingly recognized as a measure of some of the disappointment that people have with the government, because this is a signature. We can look at the relationship between laws like this one and others. Currently before committee is another law looking at Arctic waters and the extension of the 100-mile limit to a 200-mile limit. There was a consensus on that some time ago. There is also some work being done around changes to some of the remote airports.

A lot of these things could have been and should have been addressed by the House some time ago, but they did not fit the mode of the government. People may wonder is it not the job of the government to simply govern. That is not what the government of the day saw as its main reason for being here. Instead, led by the Prime Minister, it uses every opportunity and every ounce of its power and every aspect of privilege to introduce things that advance it in public opinion and give it a better chance to win government.

A year or two ago many reasonable Canadians would have called that something of an overemphasis, that that is not exactly how they understood the government and its particular brand of conservatism. I think it is now fairly well entrenched with the Canadian public that there is an opportunism that trumps the public interest.

We need to have some reasonable level of debate. For example, there are nuggets in this legislation that speak to levels of liability and adopting international conventions to establish them. Some of the ones that are fixed do increase, but this is a complex bill that addresses crafts of different sizes, from canoes or paddle-powered boats up to tankers weighing hundreds of tonnes and those that also carry bunker fuel for their propulsion.

This is a long overdue consideration of the pollution protections for our coastal waters and how well they conform. We can be fairly guaranteed that ships of a certain size will have registration and insurance once this law comes into effect and two of the international conventions that are waiting on this law come into effect in terms of guaranteed licensing and insurance. This is the result of a report in 2005 and we stand here in 2009 coming only to its first deliberation.

Again, it is important to consider that this is part of a pattern. To be reasonable and fair, we must take a look at the government's own accountability reports in areas like infrastructure. In 2007-08, according to the government's own report on infrastructure, there is a strong indication that only about 5% of the dollars budgeted for that year actually was distributed.

The government should have focused more on bills such as the one before us today, Bill C-7, on the actual running of government, actually getting dollars out, getting laws modified and passed, keeping up with the business of government, the unglamorous side, the non-political side. The ratio is what we have to fulfill if we are not going to end up gumming up the works, which is the situation I humbly submit the government of the day now finds itself in.

Not having been interested in running good government, it now finds itself with a backlog of public interest items that have to be reckoned with. Its agenda up to now has really been to sustain itself in power and hopefully propel itself into a majority, but now that agenda stands exposed. It stands somewhat weakened and instead of being able to play Whac-A-Mole with the various issues that pop up every day, there is a heck of a lot of governing that has to be reckoned with.

In not spending 95% of infrastructure dollars, in not bringing forward this bill sooner, Canadians have not been served well. That is the simple and clear matter of it. Canadians wonder why the government is not taking care of a variety of initiatives.

Canadians would be disturbed to know, for example, that some of the bills that have come forward to deal with some of the concerns, not just regionalized in places such as Vancouver but around community safety and so on, have been to this House before, have been offered consensus support by the parties before, but for its own agenda, incredibly for a government that would portray itself as having an abiding interest in some level of community safety, the government has actually held onto those bills. It has delayed them so that it could go to the polls and talk about them as not having been passed.

If we look at the various parliamentary manipulations around bills presented to this House, we will find that to be accurate and to be the case. It is a government again that has really broken new ground for the high ratio of incredibly intensive political considerations of its actions. There is no denying that every government that brings things forward needs to have a consideration for the well-being of the opinion of the public, but this is a whole different level that knocks out what many of the constituents who sent all of us here would see as reasonable or fair in the face of our overall obligations.

With respect to the Marine Liabilities Act and the Federal Courts Act that makes these consequential amendments, this says to the people who, for example, have been waiting for adventure tourism for these five years that we are going to get around to it, that this actually may be in the purview of the government to do some of the heavy lifting on some of the things that need to get done. We can also sense, as we have at committee, a certain lack of enthusiasm of the government for that job of finding where it is it can move things forward on behalf of Canadians.

The biggest illustration of this perhaps is in the recent business around the federal budget. The government, in its wisdom, thought it would bring in an agenda that would cut $5 billion, but it turned into an $18 billion agenda of deficit financing, of incentives and of stimulus. Whether it comes to that moment of the day or a bill like this one, I think all fair-minded Canadians are asking themselves whether the government really means it, if it is being compelled to do it, if it is not really part of how it has put itself at risk in terms of promises that it has made to Canadians, if it is really a sincere commitment on the part of the government to run the ordinary business.

Clearly Bill C-7 falls into the category of the ordinary running of government. This is the kind of thing we would like to think that parliamentarians out of the limelight would spend some of their time on, making sure that we get it right, making sure that Canada does not fall behind other countries, as apparently we have now, in ratifying the conventions, that we do not fall behind other jurisdictions, as we apparently have, in terms of promoting the ecotourism that comes with marine adventure tours and so on.

Quite frankly they have been unable, without our adherence to the convention, to find liability insurance to the same degree that would make that possible. It is actually a significant constraint on something that should be within a proper discussion of its impact. Every new industry has its ups and downs in terms of what it can do, but it is something that has been touted, quite rightly, as a way for some of the communities that previously depended upon resource exploitation, that have found that a less viable industry, to turn to that and to find themselves better supported in a way that is much more in keeping with the environment.

As the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca spoke about so eloquently earlier, there is an environmental tie-in here, but we can understand as well that there is a lack of enthusiasm on that particular front. This has not been a direction in which the government has tilted its hat. There has been minimal coverage of some of these things.

I want to say to the people who are keeping track of how Parliament is doing that this is a consistent feature of how we find the government. It is just covering the minimal bases and working every angle that it can to advance what its true agenda may still well be.

On this side of the House, we would like to believe there is a capacity in the government to hunker down to business, to look at things like Bill C-7, to look at its obligation to fund infrastructure projects, and to take some of the partisanship and political component out of it.

If one listens, for example, to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, one will know that is not the case. Of the times that the issue has been raised, whether it be here or in committee, it really is around a partisan element.

We hear a defence for the idea that most of the money should go, for example, to Conservative ridings. The government still, in its old-fashioned outlook, looks after its prerogatives even in this hour of need for Canadians. Last December 44,000 people lost their jobs in the construction industry. I do not have a comparable number in terms of how significantly people are affected in the ecotourism industry that is referred to in this bill in terms of marine adventure, but no doubt they would find themselves compromised for a time simply because they did not fit the bulls-eye of the government. That bulls-eye has in it a very high quotient of political self-interest.

We would hope that with the encouragement of Canadians with some of the events of recent months there could actually be some kind of learning in place by the government. That is what Canadians require. They require that the government, for the time that it is there, actually exhibit the capacity to look after a broader range of interests.

Later on today the government will have a chance to express itself with respect to a particular group of immigrants who have the wide support of Canadians as resisters to the Iraq war. They have come from the United States. They have given up an entire lifestyle and connection to their home country out of an ethical and moral crisis that they have experienced. These are people who have spent, as an example of people who live in my riding, as much as 27 years serving their country and their military. Yet, members opposite, because they think that simplification serves their agenda, are prone instead to mischaracterize these people in the negative and look at them as something less than the special case considerations they are.

Having a Canadian sensibility is something that needs to be worked for by a government that is prepared to roll up its sleeves and be open to the new ideas and occurrences that come, not from the people who occupy the chairs in this chamber, but rather from the Canadian public. Instead, for members opposite, that too often has been found lacking.

It is our hope that this bill will find at least some time in committee and that we will look at purposefully and weigh the balance by consulting with some of the groups that are affected by some of the liability coverages put forward in terms of the risks that Canadians have.

It is interesting that there is a whole range of things that still need to be done in terms of international shipping. I think most Canadians would probably sleep a little less easily if they knew that the amount of liability available, for example, for an oil spill is much less than the damage it could cause to our coastline and to our environment. That would be concerning. Yet, as I spoke earlier, there is a conspicuous lack of urgency in terms of driving the government forward to bring us this bill after four years.

There does arise the possibility of hope for how the government may conduct itself in this regard and more broadly. It is in that tempered hope that the government has been put on an effective probation as it needs to be.

We know that left to its own devices it would simply reproduce the record that it had in recent years of being unable to fund infrastructure projects and unwilling to put out a whole range of government actions. We saw in the last budget report a whole range of projects that went underfunded, unspent and unattended to by a government that is simply too concerned and spends too much of its time on its political interests and not enough time on the public's interests.

This bill is only one example of several that have started to slowly come out of the bureaucracy that is a necessary part of government. One can almost hear that word in disdain from the members opposite, but there is a part of governance that is not about what gets into the headlines. I understand there has not been a lot of media coverage of this particular bill.

Therein lies some of the reasons the government has taken so long to bring this forward. Nowhere in the coda of the government, of the ethics, of the way it expresses itself is a commitment to do government better, to actually see government work as opposed to castigated, as opposed to put a whole host of imagined ills on what happens to government, but the very idea that government could be made to function better, frankly, even in an enterprise way, to try different ideas and better ideas of making government work better rather than handing it off to some blurry version of the private sector that it has in mind.

Some of the members opposite served in the Mike Harris government in Ontario, the Conservative government in Ontario, and we found, in case after case, what happens when a government is not focused on making government work fully in the public interest. Every day there are people driving on highway 407 that was given off, handed away completely, to the private sector without due valuation for the public interest. It was sold for $3 billion and evaluated for $11 billion not even 12 months later. A complete giveaway.

People do not talk publicly about the justice project, in which some of the members opposite were involved, in terms of current ministers, and yet the justice project ended up with hundreds of millions of dollars spent by a private sector firm on developing a case management system. It ended up in litigation and got exactly zero for the government of the day and governments to follow.

There are other cases of billions of dollars wasted by a particular brand of Conservative that holds government in disdain. I guess what I want to say in terms of the Marine Liability Act, in dealing with the needs that are brought forward here, is an element of vigilance is required, not just on this side of the House but on the public's part as well. In order to understand the government of the day, it is important to understand this predilection that it has towards its own interest.

Some of that has become part of the public characteristic that people have attributed to the Prime Minister, whether fairly or not, but I think it has started to stick as what they see. Most recently some of the public opinion polls say that he is not trusted in terms of the direction of the economy.

I would submit, humbly, to the members opposite that this is part of the problem, that their leadership as well as individual members do not speak in this House about things like how to get infrastructure money to their own communities. They do not say that the gas tax method would get the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in some cases directly to their municipalities, directly to their local needs, because maybe, and I do not wish to ascribe motive, but it seems on the surface of it that they subscribe to the old style of in the back room, slicing up the piece of pie and hoping that their riding will get that. Well, even though there is a propensity to see that money go toward Conservative ridings, it does not necessarily mean that their riding will benefit.

I would submit that just as people want to see us address things, long overdue things like marine liability, they want us to reckon with how to get dollars out in stimulus, dollars that are being borrowed from their grandchildren. That is what happens when money is borrowed, that they would meet that higher standard, that in fact we would see those dollars land out there in products that are worthwhile.

We have yet to hear from a single member in the government party on that subject. In fact, they all voted against their local communities getting a fair share of those infrastructure dollars. Instead, they have submitted to an old fashioned application program that will allow somebody in the back rooms to put their fingerprints on it. They hope it will mean a bigger set of scissors and a bigger chance to actually cut the ribbons and so on, and take credit for it.

I would say to the members opposite, just as this bill should have been in this House some time ago, just as we should have been helping marine tourism previously, just as we should have been ensuring that our environmental protections are as strong as they needed to be in terms of moving us forward sooner, so, too, must there be a different look at how government operates.

There is an increasingly short period of time should the government not see, appreciate and understand that. I would look to the wisdom of the members opposite when it comes to the variety of votes and choices that are coming forward and the considerations they make in their own caucuses to tell the government, and its leadership, plainly, that it is time to look after the people of Canada and not to look after the Conservative Party of Canada over and over again in this place.

I look forward to the chance to dialogue further with members about this bill and obviously, even more important, about the priorities that this bill represents, not just the protection of our marine traffic into Canada, not just the modernization of what we are doing in terms of protecting the environment and advancing some of the newer types of industries, but having this House be effective on behalf of Canadians so that it does not take four years to get a functional bill in front of this House where members can put it in front of committee and bring in the groups that need to look at it.

It may trouble people who are observing us to know that we are not all tasked every day in terms of the government putting in front of us the important issues around the auto sector. We have seen nothing from the government about what it is doing in the auto sector, the forestry sector or infrastructure. It has simply does what it thinks is in its political interests and does not expose it to this House.

To give credit to the United States, it has shown the public what it is doing. The result is that we have no protection in terms of assets pledged for the dollars that we have offered to General Motors, for example, none whatsoever. It was all pledged to the Americans. We look forward--

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member's statements and I have a question for him.

Upon reading the bill, it seems to me that the current legislation gives equal liability treatment to passengers or customers whether they are riding a ferry or on a sightseeing trip. The same treatment is given to people who are involved in much more risky activities, such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, whale watching or Zodiacs. People involved in those sorts of activities are accepting a much higher risk than people riding ferries or on sightseeing cruises.

With Bill C-7, we are, in a way, giving preferential treatment. We are taking away the liability of the adventure tourism industry which, right now, are having to buy insurance policies to cover the liability.

If the member or his son and daughter were taking a trip on a ferry and there was an accident, they would be covered up to a certain level under the law and would be covered in the same way right now if they were riding in a Zodiac or whitewater rafting. This would exempt the whole group of adventure tourism companies and allow them to have waivers, which is not allowed under the current act, which means they would get away from buying insurance and protecting their passengers by having customers sign waivers saying that they are responsible if something happens to them.

I wonder whether this is something we should be taking a closer look at. We would be allowing a group to get out of the responsibilities it has right now. Insurance companies put tough requirements on industries, and maybe that is the way it should be. Should we be allowing an industry, which is riskier, to get out of providing liability, letting their customers sign waivers and putting the responsibility on children who may be hurt? The tourism operator will tell the tourists that it is their problem, that it will not pay out.

Does the member think we should be exempting operators and does he think that is fair?

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Elmwood—Transcona for his question. I understand his concern, but the bill contains a provision enabling the minister to exempt certain persons.

It is important to note that we are giving away regulatory power to the minister. What will need to be discussed in committee is the extent of the regulatory power, what exactly the government has in mind and what would be fair to groups. I gather that when the original bill was passed in 2001 it took away the ability to get liability waivers done and that has limited the business that taken place in adventure tourism.

As I say, not all of adventure tourism is as eco-compatible as we might like it but the thing is to give it a fair hearing in committee where we can look at this. It changes the class of boats, for example. It seems to me that the liability was for carrying oil and so on. Sorting out the idea of different classes of water vehicles, canoes, paddle powered boats and so on will be useful, rather than painting everybody with the same brush.

I agree with the member for Elmwood—Transcona. There is a concern there that should be addressed in committee, which is where this bill needs to go. We need to understand well the trade-offs and liabilities that are happening. As my central point to this, if this had come forward sooner we would have done some of that work already, there would have been room for that. Hopefully, the government will get on with this without delay.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

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

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

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

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

March 30th, 2009 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

moved that Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure rise today to speak to a bill that will help Canadian families from coast to coast reduce their energy consumption, and in the long run, reduce their energy bills.

The introduction of Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, is just one more way our Conservative government is helping Canadian families get through these challenging economic times.

Not only would the bill affect the pocketbooks of Canadian families, it would also be good for the environment. We all know that a global recession has gripped the world at a time when people are already struggling with the challenges of climate change. The bill today took shape before the global economic downturn began. Our focus then, which was saving energy, using energy more efficiently and developing clean energy, was driven primarily by environmental concerns and the desire to reduce energy consumption and the cost of that.

Today circumstances have changed, but I believe Bill S-3 is relevant because of its potential economic benefits.

The legislation can help Canadians save money as they contribute to a better environment. For that reason, we in the House have a responsibility to give it our approval. I hope opposition members will join with our government as we help Canadian families reduce their energy consumption and energy costs.

As I pointed out, this is a time of extraordinary global economic uncertainty. In Canada, to this point, we have been comparatively lucky. We have fared far better than most other countries, but times are still very difficult for many Canadian businesses and for many people who have lost their jobs.

I am proud that our Conservative government is taking immediate action by taking the right steps to help revitalize local economies and to preserve and create jobs across the country. Canada's economic action plan will deliver roughly $40 billion in economic stimulus across Canada over the next two years, supporting both job creation and economic activity.

All Canadians support these swift actions and this swift reaction by our government. These actions will stimulate our economy now and will also strengthen our nation's already strong economic fundamentals. They will ensure that Canada is positioned for even greater prosperity in the future.

I ask members of the House to complete the second reading of Bill S-3 expeditiously so Canadians can quickly receive and apply the benefits of this important legislation.

The bill is called An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, and it deals with that. Energy efficiency is probably the easiest, most affordable and most effective way for families and businesses across the country alike to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Whether it is installing a programmable thermostat to turn the heat down when we are not at home, or replacing an inefficient motor at a plant, we start saving right away. We start saving energy and money and we contribute toward saving the environment. These benefits would start right away and they would continue to grow month after month and year after year.

Energy efficiency also helps create and secure jobs for Canadians, and that is a vital consideration at this time of economic uncertainty. As soon as we decide to improve the insulation of our homes or to install new energy efficient windows or doors, we create and protect the jobs of thousands of Canadians who do that work and who manufacture those products.

Canadians understand energy efficiency. That can be seen from the remarkable public response to our Conservative government's eco-energy home retrofit program. That is why this morning, the minister announced an additional $300 million to extend this popular and successful program for another two years.

I think we will see there will be universal acceptance and enthusiasm over the extension of that program. This continued support will allow an additional 200,000 homeowners to participate in the program and to reduce their energy costs. By doing that, it will also generate about $2.4 billion in economic activity.

I will take a bit of time to talk about the act itself, first in general terms and then a bit more specifically.

The first Energy Efficiency Act was introduced in 1992. At that time, major appliances such as fridges, stoves, freezers and those kinds of things were a prime focus of the new legislation. The intent at that time was to ensure they were developed to be energy efficient.

Between 1990 and 2005, the use of major appliances in Canada went up by 38%. That seems like a big change, but during that same period, the total energy consumed by those same appliances went down by almost 20%. This is a simple illustration of how well the right legislation at the right time can work.

Much has changed since the original Energy Efficiency Act was introduced 17 years ago. A lot of new technologies have been developed. Consumer electronics and other common uses of energy increasingly dominate our lives. As a result, we still need some guidance and careful regulation on the responsible use and conservation of energy.

Bill S-3 would give the Government of Canada the means to ensure the Energy Efficiency Act continues to meet its objectives, with standards, regulations and labelling requirements that are in tune with today's marketplace and technological realities.

In fact, these amendments would make the Energy Efficiency Act itself more efficient. For example, and I will go through this a little later, it will be made clear hat standards can be prescribed and applied to classes of products rather than individual products.

This new, efficient and comprehensive approach will greatly reduce the time and effort that now must be spent on updating regulations for individual products as they enter the market one by one. This new approach will also be important with respect to Canada's efforts to reduce the amount of standby power consumption; that is the energy that is consumed by everyday products like televisions, microwaves, CD players, battery chargers, coffee makers and so many other appliances, even when they are not turned on.

These amendments would also provide the authority to regulate products that would affect or control energy consumption, including windows, doors and thermostats. Therefore, it not only to deal with the products that consume energy themselves, but also the products that affect or control energy consumption.

Bill S-3 would also enable improvements to the energy rating labels that would appear on products to ensure Canadians would have easy and comprehensible access to the information they need to make smart choices when shopping for products that consume energy.

I will quickly go through the bill. It is a short bill that comes from the Senate. It will do those things I mentioned before, such as clarifying the classes of energy using products that may be established based on their common characteristics. We see that In clause 1. Those kinds of common characteristics would be things like the intended use of the product, or the conditions under which the products are normally used. There is an attempt to try to put classes together rather than having to deal with each individual product and then having to regulate every individual product that comes into the country.

Another section of the bill will deal with dealers and their responsibilities. It will restrict them in being able to ship an energy-using product from one province to another unless the product itself complies with the energy efficiency standards and the product or packages labelled are in accordance with the regulations. There will be some control on where these products are sent and a certainty that they fit into the regulatory structure in place.

Dealers are required, and we would expect they would be obligated, to provide information. This bill lays out in one or two of its sections the information dealers would be required to provide on the products. It talks about the manner and the form of the information that needs to be provided. It talks also about the fact that dealers will have to retain these documents for a period of time and that those documents would be available to allow the minister and the government to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information provided through it.

The biggest change probably is in clause 5 where it says that the governor in council can prescribe as an energy-using product any manufactured product or class of manufactured products that is designed to operate using electricity, oil, natural gas, or any other form or source of energy, or that affects or controls energy consumption. This is fairly broad-reaching in its application.

There are sections that deal with prescribing standards and labelling and what types of labels are going to be required on these products. It broadens the ability of the government to direct labelling, to make the labels very specific.

Also at the end of the legislation are two sections that deal with the requirements to report. The minister will have two areas that he or she will be required to report.

First, once every three years a report will compare the standards we have established to the standards in the provinces, in Mexico, the United States or individual states throughout the United States so people can see exactly the level of the requirements.

Second, within four years after the day on which this section comes into force, the minister will be required to demonstrate the extent to which energy efficiency standards have been prescribed under this act for all energy-using products in our country.

It is a fairly broad bill but, again, it will reach across a number of areas.

When the Energy Efficiency Act was introduced in 1992, it broke new ground. It allowed Canada, at that time, to set some of the highest energy efficiency standards in the world.

Bill S-3 would ensure that our regulatory regime would continue to meet those high standards and it would help Canada lead the way for the world, all the while saving Canadians money.

Our efforts to make our homes and businesses more energy efficient will also make substantial contributions to our long-term energy security and to the environment.

I have no reason to doubt that hon.. members will join with me in agreeing that these reasons, both individually and together, are more than sufficient for all of us to support the bill.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, indeed, the hon. member is quite right. Nothing in the bill should cause us to question the principles contained therein. Energy efficiency should be a fundamental issue not only in environmental terms but in economic terms as well. This, unfortunately, the government has failed to understand. It is fine to pass laws and support principles, such as those in S-3. However, a look at the latest budget presented a few months ago by the Conservative government reveals that it completely misses the point on energy efficiency. We must remember the Obama plan invests six times more per capita in energy efficiency than does the federal government's recent budget.

Does the member not agree with the members on this side of the House? It is not simply a matter of passing laws and regulations. Tax measures must be put in place to support the proposed regulations. What does he think of the Obama plan proposed to the south, which invests six times more in energy efficiency per capita than this government's economic stimulus plan?

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, we are trying to bring a reform to an act that was tabled almost 20 years ago. The member is talking about some things outside the act. It is important to understand that the objective in the bill is to eliminate the least efficient energy-using products from our marketplace and replace them with products that are more energy efficient, that will save Canadians money and that will improve the environment. That is the intent of the bill.

It begins a process and continues the process that the government has had in place in its commitment to the environment and energy efficiency.

We could talk about the $1 billion clean energy fund that has been put in place by the government. This government does not have to apologize to anybody for its commitment to these issues.