House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was benefits.

Topics

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find it necessary once again to remind the Bloc Québécois member that our government took action by putting forward a viable solution that corresponds perfectly to the expectations and needs of the mayor and citizens of Shannon. Our government took action to defend the interests of the population.

The Bloc members' unfounded comments do not at all serve the interests of the municipality's citizens. Our government is extremely sensitive to and concerned by the situation in Shannon. That is why we are working very hard to speed up payment of the $13.3 million.

I would like to add that we understand the concerns of the citizens of Shannon. However, the member for Québec needs to be reminded that it would be ill-advised for us to comment directly on a case that is before the courts. The Bloc Québécois must wait for the judges and the lawyers to do their work. I therefore invite the member to do the same rather than meddling in—

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

April 22nd, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rose back in February and then again later on regarding an issue that is of great concern to the people in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick around the Bay of Fundy, and that is the rising sea levels as an effect of global warming.

Right off the bat, I want to thank the Minister of the Environment for his prompt response, both in trying to understand the problem and bringing the people that needed to understand it, and then also the actions he took to start the process to assess the potential damage. It is exactly what should have been done and I appreciate his actions very much.

This all came from a study done by the United Nations panel on climate change, which identified the Bay of Fundy as one of the two regions in Canada, and in fact all of North America, which would be most vulnerable in the case of rising sea levels, which is accepted now as something that will happen. There are different versions of how bad it will be and exactly when it will happen, but it is very consistent. All of the studies by academics, the Government of Canada, and the United Nations panel on climate change predict that sea levels will rise. It is just a matter of how much and when.

It does not matter how much it rises in the Bay of Fundy, it is going to cause damage. Communities, like Advocate, which are actually below sea level at high tide and are only protected by a dike system will be flooded if the sea levels rise any amount at all.

I do believe that the Bay of Fundy will be affected more than any other region because everything is exaggerated in the Bay of Fundy. A tide which is six or seven feet high outside of the Bay of Fundy can be 30, 40, or even as high as 50 feet in the Bay of Fundy, so any rise in sea level will have an exaggerated effect at the head of the Bay of Fundy. Many communities in Nova Scotia, such as Truro and Advocate, Parrsboro, and many in New Brunswick, such as Moncton, Dorchester, Memramcook and Sackville, will be very vulnerable to extensive damage.

I asked at the time if the minister and his officials would start a process to do a review. They have now, I understand, developed a process where they are going to map the present dike lands between Amherst and Sackville, which is the right thing to do. They are going to do a projection of sea level rise. They are going to do coastal erosion rates. They are going to build a model to reflect the sea level rise and they are going to identify the dikes, infrastructure, buildings and communities that are going to be at risk.

Again, I believe that this is exactly the right thing to do and the right steps to take in the right order, so I do not have many pointed questions for the distinguished parliamentary secretary, but I would like to ask him if he has any more information on this study.

My understanding is that there has been $800,000 set aside to do this study on the area in the Bay of Fundy between Amherst and Sackville, which is generally agreed will be the most vulnerable because it is at a very low sea level there. I wonder if he has any information that he could share with the House, and if he does not, could he agree to provide it at a later date.

7:30 p.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague across the way for his good question. Our government will continue to partner with the Atlantic provinces to address the threat of coastal erosion in the region.

As the hon. member pointed out, the intergovernmental panel on climate change provided strong evidence in its most recent report in 2007 that a key concern in many regions of the world is the threat of increasing coastal erosion.

Also in 2007, our government released a report published by Natural Resources Canada titled “From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007”. The Atlantic chapter of this report included the following statements:

Atlantic Canada will experience more storm events, increasing storm intensity, rising sea level, storm surges, coastal erosion and flooding.

Over the past century, sea level in the Atlantic region has risen approximately 30 cm. Areas such as the coast of southeastern New Brunswick could experience sea-level rise on the order of 50 to 70 cm during the current century 2000 –2100. Continued sea-level rise will amplify storm surges and flooding in the Atlantic region.

The Bay of Fundy is not uniquely sensitive to this. Many other parts of Atlantic Canada are also highly sensitive coastlines. Two significant reports on the impacts of sea level rise in New Brunswick and P.E.I. have already been undertaken and further work within individual communities is under way to develop a program on adapting to sea level rise and other coastline stresses related to climate change.

It is essential that our response to climate change encompass both adaptation and mitigation: adaptation so that we are better prepared to deal with the coming impacts of climate change, and mitigation to reduce the rate and scale of those changes in the future. Reducing the vulnerability of our coastlines to sea level rise and storm surges is an important component of our adaptation response.

In such efforts we should not focus on a single coastline, but must look comprehensively at the vulnerabilities of all regions along our coastlines. Building protective structures or barriers is but one option among many. I am encouraged by the recently established regional adaptation collaboratives, a program being led by the climate change impacts and adaptation program of Natural Resources Canada, and anticipate that much of the necessary planning to reduce the vulnerability of the Atlantic coastline will continue with this initiative.

7:35 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his answer, but that is quite a list of potential, frightening damage that we have to look forward to.

He is right, it is not only the Bay of Fundy, it is the entire coastline on the Atlantic and Pacific, but there are numerous studies that identify that the Atlantic Canadian coastline will suffer higher sea level rises than anywhere else because of changes in currents as well as and in combination with the rising sea level.

The potential damage that the parliamentary secretary just outlined confirms what we have been saying and what our concerns are, and I appreciate him doing that, but he also said that there are other coastlines that are vulnerable. The Government of Canada study that he referred to is really frightening in the extent of the damage.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is well aware of the impacts of climate change. That is why we are committed to taking action. By establishing the regional adaptation collaboratives, we can more effectively take coordinated and sustained action to reduce our vulnerability to climate change by advancing adaptation planning and decision making.

Working with President Obama to establish a clean energy dialogue, we will also be working closely with provincial and territorial governments and stakeholders to develop a coherent national climate change and energy security strategy.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:38 p.m.)