House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was energy.

Topics

Second Report of the Standing Committee on Finance
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will take the matter under advisement.

I will get back to the House, hopefully tomorrow, with a ruling on the point of order by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and on the suggestions by the hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain.

The House resumed from March 30 consideration of the motion 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

April 1st, 2009 / 3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to participate in the debate on Bill S-3, a bill that would amend the Energy Efficiency Act.

The basic premise of this bill is to broaden the scope of the government's ability to regulate energy-using consumer products. We can all think of a whole range of consumer products that people have in their homes, whether it be washing machines, dryers, fridges or so many others. The government already does regulate many of these under the existing act, through standards, through labelling, and through the promotion of energy-efficient products.

Indeed, this is something that needs to be broadened, because there are so many new appliances and new electronic gadgets these days.

So many of us in this House, of course, use the BlackBerry, which is a great Canadian-made product from my wife's home area of Kitchener—Waterloo. I must say, of course, that I am proud that Research in Motion also has a building in my riding of Halifax West. That is an interesting connection that my wife and I have with our hometowns.

There are so many items we have in our homes that use power, and there are programs when one is shopping for these things. One can look for the EnerGuide label or the Energy Star label to find out how, for example, one fridge compares to other fridges in its energy consumption, or whether a computer monitor falls within the group that is low enough in terms of energy use to have received the Energy Star. Those are good programs that have been around for a while.

The issue of standby power is an important one. That is one of the things this bill purports to regulate. That is to say, we all know of things in our homes that use power all the time. It may be only a little power, but they are still using power. Anything that has a light on all the time is using power. Often our televisions, even though they are turned off, are still using some power unless they are unplugged.

I can think of things like the new digital video recorders that use quite a bit of power, I gather, particularly if they are recording. Even if they are not recording, there is still a light on. The VCR has a light on, the stereo system has a little light on, and all these things use power.

Even an intercom system is often on all the time. These things are using power.

What this bill will allow the government to do by regulation is limit the amount of standby power that these products can use. Many of these products today use in the range of six to eight watts. At the same time, some of the new products are able to use as little as one watt of power per product. That would be a much better standard to apply to all of them. In fact, that is part of the plan, from what I hear of the government, and that is a good thing.

There are so many things: computers, battery chargers, adapters, stereos, TVs, and microwaves. If a charger for a cellphone is left plugged into the wall, it will become warm. The adapter will become warm. It becomes warm for a reason. That is because it is using power.

One thing that is worthwhile to mention during the debate on this bill is that it is a good opportunity to remind people to unplug these things. It is costing money and it is using power unnecessarily. We all know there are many good reasons not to do that, notably to save money and to help the environment.

In fact, Natural Resources Canada has an office of energy efficiency that has looked into this. They say that as much as 10% of household electrical consumption in Canada comes from this standby power issue. In other words, we could each theoretically reduce as much as 10% of our electrical bills by unplugging these things.

They say that if we did this and dealt with this issue, it could be the equivalent of turning off the power in 300,000 homes. In other words, 300,000 homes worth of electricity per year could be saved across the country. When we are looking at issues like blackouts in Ontario and problems when there are peak energy uses in the summer in particular, we can all see the importance of having that kind of room in the electrical grid.

However, as many have pointed out before, it is not simply what is in this bill that is of concern here and that we ought to be looking at. In fact, what is not in the bill is of major concern.

The measures in this bill were originally in Bill C-30 in the previous Parliament, the government's so-called clean air act which purported to deal with climate change. A special committee of the House was set aside to deal with the bill. Once it actually got hold of it and made a variety of amendments, it did become what could realistically be called a clean air act, but it certainly was not that when it was proposed by the government. It was the opposition amendments that put it in a form that would have actually achieved something.

What did we see? Did that bill go forward? No, it did not go forward. In fact, the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament and called an election. We have not seen the bill come back from the government. We have had lots of comments from the government about dealing with climate change which that bill purported to do, but no action.

In June 2005 the previous government actually listed in the Canada Gazette the six major greenhouse gases. That is the beginning of the 18 month process of regulating those greenhouse gases.

There is no reason why the following Conservative government that took over in February 2006 could not have regulated to limit the production, the emission, of those various greenhouse gases within that 18 month period.

Now it is more than three and a half years since those were listed, and we still see no regulations from the government in relation to the limiting of greenhouse gases. We have heard the government talk about cap and trade, we heard that it has a so called “Turning the Corner” plan, but we do not see any corner being turned. We do not see any actual regulations, any real action to deal with greenhouse gases or climate change. That is a concern.

The total lack of trust Canadians have in the government is also a concern. The kind of thing I have talked about is one of the reasons they have so little trust in the government. When it actually comes to bringing forth regulations to ensure the impact of amendments outlined in this bill are actually felt, we do not know what the government will do. This bill does allow the government to regulate in a whole variety of areas.

One of the questions we have heard during debate, both in the Senate and here, is this question of whether or not this bill could be used, this law could be used, to regulate automobile emissions. Well, the wording is very broad. I had a look at the law that exists now and it says in section 200, the definition section, “'energy-using product' means a prescribed product”.

Actually, that means that the government can set out in regulation what products are included as energy using products that fall within the scope of this bill. In other words, it could certainly regulate automobiles, as they do use an energy product: gasoline obviously, ethanol, even hydrogen these days or electricity. All these things are using energy. In theory, then, the government could certainly regulate automobiles through this bill, although we would expect it to use other legislation that is on the books to do that. It is interesting that that is one of the options.

The point I am making is that we do not know what the government will do with these regulations. We do not know if it will take any action at all. Its record so far in regulating on the environment is so weak that it is hard for Canadians to have any confidence that this bill will actually be used to do anything worthwhile.

The idea of the bill is a fine idea, but it is how it is used. The bill is all about giving that power to regulate to the government. That is an important point.

There are also concerns about the Conservative government's complete failure to understand that energy efficiency is a fundamental issue not just for the environment but for the economy. Dealing with these things is important in terms of where we go in the economy. What was lacking, for example, in the budget was an understanding of the importance of that.

In the U.S. we have seen the Obama administration's package for economic stimulus. We have seen six times as much spending per capita on the energy efficiency side of things and renewable energies as here in the Conservative government package. That was disappointing. I think the government ought to consider that, reconsider its position, and recognize that it is important for the economy that we become efficient. It can save us in many ways. It can help us with the strains in terms of our electrical grids and in many other areas.

I suspect that the fact that many government members are still climate change deniers is a factor here. I have witnessed that in this House. I witnessed it on Monday during debate on this same bill. My colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca was speaking. He was talking about Antarctica and how we have seen ice shelves, such as the Larsen ice shelf, collapse there and what a concern that is for situations like that around the globe. He gave examples of global warming, examples that are alarming scientists around the globe, and some of the reasons why scientists tell us the evidence is overwhelming that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activity.

However, the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt was in the chamber and he said that Antarctica is growing. I do not know what planet he is talking about. Maybe there is another Antarctica on another planet somewhere that is growing, but I think it is pretty clear that the opposite is happening here.

In fact we understand, and I think most people do, that the ice in Antarctica does not just freeze every winter. With the ice in Antarctica, or on the Greenland glacier or Arctic ice cap, we are talking primarily about ice that has been formed with snow falling and then more the following year and so much over centuries that it pushes down, compacts and turns into very hard and very old ice.

When we see something that is thousands of years old collapse and fall into the ocean, and a colleague thinks that Antarctica is actually growing, I think he ought to give his head a shake.

It is a bit like those who suggest that there is no link between HIV and AIDS. All the science is in the other direction. It is overwhelmingly clear that there is a link between HIV and AIDS. Or it is like the techniques that were used for years by those people who said there was no link between tobacco and cancer. We hear the same kinds of things from the other side.

It seems to me the Conservatives have not gotten the message. It seems to me that they forget the poll that came out in January 2007 which said that the number one concern of Canadians was the environment. This was about six or eight months after Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth came into the theatres and people started to become much more concerned about these issues. The media started to talk about this. People got more and more concerned, but it was only after that, that the government suddenly and totally changed direction and started to admit that there was a concern about climate change, or at least it wanted us to believe that it was reformed, that it actually had bought into the idea that this was a real problem.

Yet, it seems that many members on that side did not get the memo, that they have not gotten the message that in fact they are supposed to believe now in climate change, because we hear them say things like the notion that Antarctica is still growing. We hear them say things that are utterly ridiculous and that fly in the face of the overwhelming science that tells us that climate change is real and is the result of human activity.

Maybe they should work on their messaging over there and get the message out. Maybe they need another memo for more of the members on that side to get this clear. Most of them do not say very much normally without the office of the Prime Minister giving the approval, so one would think that maybe they need clearer direction from the PMO on that. Perhaps it is the fact that they are climate change deniers that accounts for their dismal failure to grasp what really are the larger implications that are at play with this bill and the issues of climate change, to which Bill C-30 in the last Parliament was tied.

When this bill was debated in the other place, that red chamber down the hall on the east side of this building, my colleague from Alberta, Senator Grant Mitchell, raised many important questions about this bill. In fact, while this bill was introduced in the Senate by the government leader there, it was Senator Mitchell who has been the driving force behind this idea for some time, pushing for energy efficiency improvements and pushing for changes, so that the government can regulate classes of products, not just certain products. That is a good thing, there is no question.

He was right, in the Senate, when he noted that perhaps one of the biggest questions was the lack of trust Canadians have that the Conservative government will do anything it promises. I have heard from many Canadians that they do not trust the government. They simply do not trust the government to actually implement this or any significant environmental policy because its record is so dismal.

While the Liberal Party supports a broadening of the government's ability to regulate products that use energy, this does not disguise the fact that these changes are in isolation to create the false impression the Conservatives are actually doing something on this file.

Well, they are not, really. We know that. That is why Canadians do not trust the Prime Minister or the government on the environment any more than they trust them to properly manage our country's finances or our economy.

This is the same government that told us last fall that there were no problems. The Prime Minister said that if it was going to get bad, it would already have been bad. We heard that during the election: if the economy is going to be in recession, we would have already had it here.

Well, things got a lot worse. In September he said it was good time to buy stocks. Not only was that insensitive but it was incredibly bad advice, when we consider what has happened since. For a guy who claims to be an economist, that is a pretty scary bit of prognostication. I think most people would have to recognize that.

Why the lack of trust? That is the result when the Conservatives deny climate change in the face of the kind of overwhelming scientific evidence that exists, or when they deny there is a recession in the midst of a global economic meltdown as we have been seeing over the past number of months, or when they say they will balance the books when they have been in deficit for months, as we heard last fall in the fiscal update, which was clearly absolute nonsense and from which the government retreated.

That is the question. Will the Conservatives actually implement these amendments in this bill and act on the regulatory power that this gives them?

We all saw what the Conservatives did with the Kyoto protocol. We saw an announcement related to cap and trade two years ago, and nothing has happened. We saw what they did with Bill C-30 in a previous Parliament, which is where this initiative first saw the light of day.

And did we not have a bill related to fixed term elections? That seems to be something I can recall; something that evaporated in the mind of the Prime Minister around about last September.

Did we not have a promise not to tax income trusts? Did we not have a signed offshore accord with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador that the Prime Minister said would not be abandoned? I think we did.

On the environment, in general, the trust factor is non-existent for the Conservative government. It announced a $1 billion clean energy fund, which sounded great. But how much of that is going toward things like solar power, wind power, tidal power or geothermal power? When the deputy minister appeared before the natural resources committee, she was asked about this fund and she told the committee that $850 million was targeted toward carbon capture and sequestration. Now, that is an important technology and it is of great concern to the oil sands, certainly. However, it is not the only issue. What is concerning is that the Conservatives want to give the impression they have this wonderful clean energy fund for a whole range of clean energies. We really see it is almost all going to one particular area.

Aside from this fundamental issue of trust, there are also concerns of what is not in the bill that raises other questions. For instance, what kind of consultation took place in relation to the second section which talks about interprovincial trade? Did the government consult the provinces? We do not know.

There are a variety of other concerns. The questions and comments that I hope will follow will give me an opportunity to talk about them more.

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4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would very much like to bring up something from the past and ask my colleague who just spoke for his opinion on this.

The first legislation on energy efficiency was passed in Quebec in 1982. In 1992, the Conservatives passed the existing Energy Efficiency Act.

It is a fact that the new Conservatives, the more Reform Alliance members, have been dragging their feet for three years. I hasten to add the Liberals could have amended this piece of legislation in 2002. In 2000, they were in power, but they did not do it. They dragged their feet too.

Why does the hon. member think that, as mentioned in clause 6, we should consider American and Mexican legislation on energy efficiency, when they do not set good comparable standards? Does he not think the standards to compare our own with are the ones found in the Nordic countries?

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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague. His question on the Nordic countries’ standards is interesting. There is no reason why the government and parliamentarians should not examine and compare our systems and situations with the energy efficiency standards in those countries. But we live in North American, and our major trade partners are the United States and Mexico. It is important to be competitive with them.

I certainly appreciate this comment because Nordic standards are indeed excellent. We should examine this issue more closely.

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4:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, does the member think that Bill S-3 includes or should include autos, buses, planes, et cetera?

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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member asks an interesting question. Where should the emissions of cars, planes, trains and even ships, for that matter, be regulated? Should they be in legislation that is designed for appliances and electronics or ought they to be in another area?

I am open to arguments in relation to whether this is the best legislation, but I would think there could be legislation better targeted toward those kinds of major machines that we use in our society, such as trucks, backhoes and so on. How should we deal with the emissions of those kinds of heavy machines that are an important part of the equation of climate change and greenhouse gases? Does it make sense to have them regulated under this legislation?

Clearly the government could do that. In my view, the regulatory power is given by this bill to regulate anything that uses energy and they do use energy.

However, if we were to look at this more closely, I think we would probably find reasons why it make sense to have legislation specifically designed for that purpose.

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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his excellent speech.

We know that the Conservative government has cut the program to encourage the use of more fuel-efficient cars.This program allowed new car buyers to purchase more energy-efficient cars and get a tax credit for doing so. The Conservatives have felt that offering the program for just two years would be enough for people to convert to such cars.

I think it should have continued to make programs and incentives available to allow people to purchase more fuel-efficient and environmentally cleaner cars and save on gas.

Does the hon. member think that the program to encourage people to buy smaller, more economical, more fuel-efficient and more environmentally friendly cars should have been maintained?

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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Madawaska—Restigouche for his excellent question.

That is somewhat strange indeed. That was a successful program. That is why the government has decided to cancel it. In fact, the government said that it was too successful, that too many people took advantage of the program to buy more energy-efficient cars. I agree with my colleague that the success of a program is not a good argument for terminating it.

Personally, I drive a hybrid car, a Prius, which I really like. It is an excellent car, easy to use and similar to other cars in terms of driving. I encourage everyone to consider buying a hybrid car or any other low-emission car, or else—I do not know if that is an option in my colleague's riding—to use trains and buses. That is not always an option, but many Canadians can travel by train or by bus, or carpool to commute to work.

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4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I sometimes find it difficult to sit in the House and listen to members opposite talk about anything to do with the environment. Prior to being elected here, I was chief of staff to Ontario's first commissioner of alternative energy. At one point, we came through with a very extensive, all party report with over 130 recommendations with respect to clean energy, hydrogen, solar, wind and energy conservation.

The Liberals were in power at that time and to get them to move on any of those recommendations that were brought forward was impossible, even with all party support in the Ontario legislature. We know they broke their word with respect to Kyoto. I wonder if the member is not continuing the Liberal legacy of saying one thing but doing another. They signed the Kyoto protocol but we know they did absolutely nothing to meet our targets. In fact, they brought no money and no initiatives forward.

Now, here the government stands actually doing something. The Prime Minister came to my riding to announce funds for the Nature Conservancy of Canada so that we could bring some of our natural heritage under the protection of the government. We are investing in chemical waste management.

I wonder if the hon. member could explain to the House why, when the Liberals were in government, they failed Canadians on the environment so often.

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4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, for someone who was thoroughly involved in matters related to the environment, one would think he would know the history a little better. He would know, for example, that the Kyoto protocol did not actually come into effect until 2005. I wonder if he knows that because I do not hear that in what he is saying.

He also should know that the Liberal government of Mr. Martin did bring in a range of measures in its green plan to deal with climate change and other environmental matters. However, it was the member's party, along with other parties, that defeated the previous Liberal government when it was bringing forward spending plans and other measures that would have taken effect.

If he had been listening, I already mentioned in my speech that in June 2005, we listed the six greenhouse gases and started the process of regulating those greenhouse gases. In spite of promises from the Conservative government to regulate them, we have seen no action.

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4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

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 Bramalea—Gore—Malton, Airport Security; the hon. member for Mississauga South, Health.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Trois-Rivières.

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4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to discuss Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, which is intended to expand the regulatory parameters of the present act.

The essence of this bill is laudable. The present act dates from 1992. With all the technological innovations, it is thus extremely urgent that we take another look at this act. I can see how often we are late to take action. My 15-year-old son is constantly reminding me that we have to pay attention to the environment, use recycling bins and save energy. So I will be pleased to be able to tell him on the weekend that we are working to make things better.

The amendments proposed in this energy efficiency bill are going in the right direction, for they target non-regulated products and raise the standards for other products. However, we have to determine whether this bill is not simply an update of the standards of the Office of Energy Efficiency. In this regard we must display a real will to improve the energy efficiency of certain energy-using products with the aim of improving our energy efficiency and not with the aim of permitting the federal government to say that it is looking after the environment. We must admit that this initiative offers very little in the face of the problems of climate change, our spiraling consumption of fossil fuels and this government’s lack of will to act to protect the environment. All the same, this bill is a start, and however little this government is doing for the environment, we must nonetheless consider the improvements being made to the present legislation.

The amendments made by this bill are thus intended to consider the advancement of knowledge about energy efficiency, to broaden the minister’s regulatory authority, to introduce the concept of classes instead of considering each product individually, to strengthen the minister’s powers over the labelling of energy-using products, to standardize procedures, and to increase responsibilities for reporting to the House of Commons. These objectives, I repeat, are entirely laudable. The extent to which they will be applied remains to be seen.

For example, the amendments proposed in this bill would permit the establishment of strict vehicle emission standards and improve the energy efficiency of vehicles, since they have an impact on energy consumption. The bill would also permit, as proposed many times by the Bloc Québécois, the standardization of energy efficiency regulations in classes of products, thereby introducing mandatory vehicle eco-labelling, a measure that has existed in Switzerland since 2002.

In this way we could send a clear message to consumers who wish to use energy more responsibly, by directing them to a class of vehicles classified as “green”, instead of certain very specific vehicles.

There are a number of worthwhile amendments in this bill, including the following. Classifying energy-using products as proposed will mean that they can be grouped based on a single, common energy-consuming characteristic and the intended use of the products. The second amendment is the power of the governor in council, which will cover a class of products and not just one product. Extending the regulatory power will mean that the act provides better coverage of a whole range of products in terms of energy efficiency. This bill also provides for new or additional standards to be established for industrial and consumer products and goods, such as commercial washing machines, dishwashers, fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs, battery chargers, and many others.

This bill means that standby mode can be taken into account, and that is a good proposal, because of the proliferation in recent years of energy-using products that consume energy even when they are turned off. The new types of televisions, DVD players, household appliances and a host of other products consume energy constantly even when they are not in use. These items are equipped with an internal memory that can be affected by simply unplugging them.

In this regard, the Office of Energy Efficiency estimates that if all of these products used minimum energy in standby mode, a typical household would save $35 a year in electricity. That does not seem like much, but an energy saving like that all across Canada amounts to the energy used by about 300,000 households in a year, and so it is a considerable amount. What this bill does in this regard is really very important. The number and variety of appliances that use standby mode will undoubtedly continue to grow in the years to come. That is why it is important to think about regulating energy use in sleep mode for these kinds of items.

Requiring that the minister table reports in the House of Commons is an important amendment, and one that I think is desirable. Once every three years, the Minister of Natural Resources will have to compare the standards here with those in the United States and Mexico, to determine whether they are in step. Because many household appliances come from those countries under free trade, standardization is important. This approach, by standardizing labelling and energy efficiency criteria, may eventually facilitate the creation of a carbon market in the future.

Obviously, that must be done willingly and competently. On these two points, allow me to question the Conservative government's intent to really protect the environment. The Conservative record does not lead us to believe that the environment is a priority for this government. I will explain. This bill has a number of qualities, including that of considering the standby mode, essential to the operation of a number of devices today, in setting energy efficiency standards.

However, the government is bragging that, with these amendments proposed for the Energy Efficiency Act, it is implementing its nebulous green plan. This green plan is turning brown. I realize that strengthening laws on the energy efficiency of televisions, DVD players, household appliances and other energy-using consumer products is a good thing. However, strong and integrated measures are needed to achieve real results. We have waited too long.

The government's regulatory framework to fight greenhouse gases is biased at its source. It is based on reductions in emission intensity for individual product units instead of on an absolute greenhouse gas emission target. There is, however, a consensus in Quebec and elsewhere in the world advocating the absolute reduction approach, which will lead to the establishment of a carbon market and a carbon exchange in Montreal.

This government's approach is unfair to Quebec, which has made a huge effort since 1990 to genuinely and absolutely reduce its GHG emissions. However, businesses in Quebec cannot benefit from nearly 20 years' efforts. It is our duty to prevent these efforts from being swept under the carpet because of the neoconservative ideology that goes to any length to put the environment and the economy at odds.

For example, a Quebec aluminum company that has already reduced its GHG emissions by 15% in 1990 terms will have to agree to the same reduction in emission intensity as a company operating in the oil sands in Alberta, whose GHG emissions have doubled since 1990. Our manufacturing industry will be penalized once again because it will not benefit financially from its efforts as it could have under an absolute target reduction plan.

In Quebec, we reject this outdated view. The economy and the environment work in tandem, and our businesses are often among the most productive in the world in environmental terms. Quebec's economy is separate from Canada's. By applying this standard approach to all businesses, the government is leaving no room for a real territorial approach that would allow Quebec to act according to its own interests and peculiarities.

This is why we are saying that the government's green plan, which gave rise to this bill, is ineffective.

Climate change represents one of the biggest challenges we have to deal with.

As scientific evidence piles up and we see just how staggering the extent of the consequences is, it becomes imperative to act without delay, and in an efficient and fair manner.

This bill represents a step in the right direction, but there is still a very long way to go, and this government totally lacks the desire to go the rest of the way with Quebec. The Bloc Québécois is calling for a Kyoto implementation plan, namely an average greenhouse gas reduction of 6% below the 1990 level for the period 2008-12.

The inaction of the Liberals and the ideological pig-headedness of the Conservatives are doing nothing to help us deal with the problem.

The plan proposed by the Bloc Québécois is based on establishing reduction targets in the short and medium term, that is between 2012 and 2020, with 1990 as the reference year; the use of a territorial approach; establishing a carbon exchange in Montreal; and federal measures that the government can implement in its own areas of jurisdiction.

In closing, Bill S-3 is, as I have said, a step in the right direction but there is still a very long way to go. We are in favour of the essence of this bill, but with this government we have doubts about is sincerity as far as environmental protection and energy conservation are concerned.

The Conservative government ought to stop handing over millions of dollars to the oil industry and stop encouraging tar sands development. Instead it ought to be decreasing our oil dependency, and allowing the development of renewable energies, encouraging environmental research and the growth of the green economy, which is the economy of the future, rather than making this bill, which is limited though laudable, the foundation of its rather murky green plan.

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4:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, we know that the government passes bills such as the one that set the date for the next election, which was to be in October of this year, by the way. Then only months later it pulled the plug itself, causing an unnecessary election. It did not even wait to be defeated in a vote in the House.

We are still waiting for the all-inclusive airline pricing that was included in a bill passed two and a half years ago. It still has not been implemented.

There is a lot of posturing and public relations in bills like this one. Does the member not agree with that?

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4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. It is often hard to make sure that the government puts its money where its mouth is. There is a lot of talk but it is sometimes hard to see any action happening when it comes to regulations. Despite the bill's laudable goals, the government is already way behind and there is a dreadful lack of vision.

Consider, among other things, the implementation of stricter vehicle emissions standards. If that had been done years ago, we would be in a much better position today because the effects of pollution would be less noticeable in our cities and we would have fewer health problems. It is a shame that the vision is just not there.