House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cree.

Topics

Private Members' Business--Bill C-280
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to revert to presentation of petitions?

Private Members' Business--Bill C-280
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Peace in the World
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition from several thousand members of the United Church advocating for peace in the world. They are promoting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinian peace, Filipino peace and a resolution to the conflict in Colombia. This is from the constituents in my riding, as well as residents from other ridings.

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to table a petition on animal welfare and support for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare today.

The House resumed from May 6, 2009 consideration of the motion that Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, be read the third time and passed.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The last time this bill was debated in the House, the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi had the floor and he has 13 minutes left for his remarks.

The hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the first part of my remarks, I commented that the government has laboured mightily and given birth to a mouse in the form of this energy efficiency bill, Bill S-3. Even though we are in agreement with the bill and will be voting in favour of that mouse, we would have much preferred to vote for something far larger like an elephant. Yesterday I listed everything that this little bill contained and today I would like to speak about what it does not contain.

This bill contains nothing about buildings, yet Canadian buildings consume 45% of all of the energy used in this country. I will come back to that later. It contains nothing to do with transport, trucking in particular, a sector that has been long neglected but is now reawakening thanks to the introduction of hybrid and economical diesel trucks. Yet there is nothing in the bill about this. Nor any mention of the EcoLogo symbol. There should be a program to replace these vehicles with fuel efficient trucks, but we do not get the impression that the government intends to do that.

When we speak of transport, we also need to speak about reducing the number of truckers who are not using their full capacity. The federal government did a study. In a city like Montreal, trucks are on the road with only 20% of their potential load, and this represents an incredible waste of energy. There needs to be rationalization of energy efficiency in this area.

The same goes for trains. Hybrid locomotives and lighter cars are now available and there could be a replacement program, or at least an examination of energy efficiency, which would demonstrate just how far behind rail service is in the way it uses its cars on the same rails. Our archaic laws require passenger cars to be as heavy as freight cars. The situation in Europe, China and Japan is totally different. Their attitude is different. This all shows the lack of concern for energy efficiency.

The same goes for agriculture. This bill ought to encourage the change from synthetic fertilizers to traditional ones. But once again, nothing on that. Energy efficiency also means having digesters on farms to produce electricity. Nothing in the bill on that. Nothing about mandatory labelling. All motor vehicles should have ecoEnergy labels, but no; in fact, no mention of anything of consequence.

The manufacturing sector has also been left out entirely. There is no incentive for the sector to improve energy efficiency or avoid wasting energy. There are very few efficient assembly lines, and they use a lot of energy.

Street lighting would also have been a good thing to tackle in this bill. In Canada, we use some three times more electricity for night-time lighting than in Europe, and we use about twice as much as the United States, our neighbours to the south. Our systems are utterly inefficient, which means that we waste a lot of electricity. Anyone taking a walk at night will see high-intensity stadium and park lights on all night. These lights are poorly designed and light up the sky more than they do the area that needs to be lit. For example, the Mont-Mégantic Observatory, which is struggling with government funding shortfalls just now, has shown just how much electricity and energy could be saved by using more efficient lighting that directs the light downward rather than toward the sky.

So much energy could be saved by using better street lights, but the legislation does not even touch that. I do not believe that the government actually wants to change anything.

If the legislation had touched on all of these sectors, we could have made huge energy efficiency gains.

What can the government achieve by reviewing American and Mexican standards regularly? Not much. We know that energy efficiency standards in those two countries are not exactly cutting-edge.

Why not choose Europe, Germany, Sweden or Japan instead? No, the government wants to compare us to our next-door neighbours, even though almost nothing is going on there on the energy efficiency front, especially not in Mexico. The government chose the easiest targets, and the Office of Energy Efficiency will be comparing us to them every three months or every three years, as it sees fit, but that is as far as it will go.

The government will also periodically review the outcomes of the Energy Efficiency Act. Under this bill, nobody will be reviewing energy efficiency progress in Canada; rather, the government will simply check on any progress brought about by the legislation. If this bill is a mouse, well, every now and then, the government will make sure it is still alive. That is all.

All the other aspects of energy efficiency that are not affected by this bill will never be checked. We will never see whether any progress has been made in these areas or whether we have lost ground.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions depends on energy efficiency. The government says it is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% between 2006 and 2020. In fact, as far back as 1990, the harmful effects of greenhouse gases were known and real efforts were made to reduce them. Yet if we look at the figures since 1990, we can see that greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 3% by 2020. The government talks about reducing emissions, but we will not even manage to reduce our emissions to 1990 levels. We will not even get back to those levels.

The current government clearly has no intention to save the planet, which is grappling with climate change. That is not the government's goal. Yet American presidents like Reagan who were not inclined to take steps to improve energy efficiency still managed to reduce fuel consumption in the United States by 15%. Fifteen per cent of what all cars and trucks used is a lot, and the government accomplished that simply by reducing the speed limit.

This bill could have imposed a mandatory speed control device, as this comes under federal jurisdiction. I know that the speed limit on highways comes under provincial jurisdiction, but the federal government could have required that all cars sold in Canada be equipped with a speed control device.

These devices were developed for trucks, and they work quite well. It would even have been possible to reduce the number of police officers required to watch for speeders. People would have been forced to comply with speed limits.

I have not yet talked about a very important area, and that is air conditioning in Canada. In the afternoon, we freeze in this House. The thermostat is at 15oC. Yesterday, I checked, and the temperature at my desk was 69oF. We use air conditioning too much, in a country that has very little need for it. In Canada, buildings using hybrid ventilation have won awards. A hybrid system uses air conditioning only during heat waves, when it is extremely hot. This is familiar technology.

The rest of the time, air ventilation either comes from a cooler area, or the air is simply circulated using fans. With fans, we can go up to 89oF. I apologize for giving the temperature in Fahrenheit, but the engineers here always use Fahrenheit. We are right next to the United States, so there is still a tendency to use it.

Comfort is very important and we can find a way to be very comfortable.

In short, this bill aims to update the Office of Energy Efficiency regulations and standards. It is not an energy efficiency act. There is a difference between the two. The standards have been updated, but new legislation has not been created—even though it is being called the energy efficiency act—which would have made more significant changes.

Thousands of scientific articles have been written on energy efficiency and possible ways of reducing overall energy consumption. I would like to read just a few lines from an article that appeared in the Université de Sherbrooke's VECTEUR environnement. It states:

There are numerous strategies that contribute—not “would contribute”—to reducing a building's energy consumption—thereby reducing greenhouse gases—for instance, the use of energy-efficient lighting products, geothermal power, high-performance boilers, centralized control systems, improving the building envelope by insulating the walls and the roof and by installing energy-efficient windows (argon gas filled, low-E coating, low conductivity spacers), etc.

It says “etc.” So as we can see, it is not a question of not knowing how; rather it is a lack of will on the part of the government.

Energy efficiency has a significant environmental impact on climate change by reducing greenhouse gases. We are a long way from reaching our goals in order to meet the commitments we made in 1998. Action is urgently needed in terms of reviewing our building codes and reassessing how we do things in terms of energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi on his very informative speech. We know that, not so long ago, he was an architect specializing in the environment and energy conservation. Thus, we are pleased in this House to benefit from his experience.

Bill S-3 definitely has very little impact on energy efficiency. I would like to ask the member a question. Does he believe that the Conservative government really wants to improve energy efficiency or is Bill S-3 just a means of silencing those, such as the member, who are truly concerned about energy efficiency, in order to someday conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Trois-Rivières for her excellent question.

The government did have the knowledge base. It had the Office of Energy Efficiency behind it. In each province there is a wealth of information about the potential for energy efficiency. Every province has employees working on this and they would even be able to assist federal public servants.

Thus, there was a real opportunity to take action and also to create a decentralized, green economy in Canada, which would have led to the creation of employment even in rural regions. During an economic crisis that is very important. The government simply put that aside to protect the big energy producers, to avoid scaring them and to remain on friendly terms with them.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am fascinated by my hon. colleague's dissertation because I think the real question is, where do we go as a nation? There is no other country on the planet that has the resources this country has and there is probably no other country, except perhaps the United States, that has wasted natural resources, whether it is water, wood or energy.

When we talk about an energy strategy, we see a government that is throwing billions of dollars into the tar sands, turning us into an international pariah for environmental credibility. When we look at the money that could be spent on saving the energy that is being wasted in homes, buildings and public institutions, there seems to be no willingness or plan from the Conservatives to address energy efficiency. Rather, the government is looking at the massive expansion of the tar sands.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague this question. Why does he think it is that in the 21st century we have a government that has no interest in a green decentralized economy that could help every single community, household and business in this country and would rather throw money into the tar sands?

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. NDP colleague for his question.

He is quite right. At this time, we have an enormous amount of energy in Canada and we are wasting it. Yet we have no reason to waste it. We should be conserving it for future generations. There is no urgent need to take everything we can easily extract from the tar sands. We could leave it there and use it later. We will always need oil. It will continue to be an important resource, especially for aviation.

How is it that we are not doing more to look to the future and practice sustainable development? The magic words are “sustainable development”, but the government does not seem to know what that means, which I find unbelievable. People do not care about future generations. People are using natural gas as much and as quickly as they can, because it brings in a lot of revenue. However, they are forgetting about future generations. They are forgetting that Canadians will still be around 10 years from now. What will we do then?

Some natural resources, including certain minerals like tin and zinc, will disappear within the next five to seven years. There will be none left, simply because we did not think about the future and use those resources only when necessary. We are doing the same thing with our energy resources. We are wasting them, instead of using them only when absolutely necessary.

I think this government behaves as it does because it is so backward thinking. Its archaic way of thinking dates back to a time when we did not need to think about the future.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we sit here day after day listening to people in that corner of the House demonstrate their wilful cluelessness about what is actually going on in the oil sands in Alberta, the wilful cluelessness about the progress that has been made by the oil companies, the government and people who take the environment responsibly.

I have a number of questions for my hon. colleague across the way. Does he have any idea how many jobs are created by the oil sands and the resource sector in the province of Quebec, that have been created in the past, and will be created in the future?

Does he have any idea how much money goes into pension funds in Canada, the Canada pension plan, the Quebec pension plan, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan?

Does he have any idea of the amount of taxes that pay social programs in the province of Quebec and the rest of the provinces that come out of the oil patch in Alberta? Does he have any clue about the benefits?

I wish he would stop being clueless about what is actually going on.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did not say that we should stop exploiting the oil sands. That is not what I said. I would like to ask my colleague if he knows how many jobs could be created with a green economy. Does he have any clue how many people in Quebec could be employed making energy-saving appliances and making buildings healthier in a green economy? Does he have a clue? We could create far more jobs than with the oil sands.

The members on the other side of the House do not understand what we are facing. They see the future through a rear-view mirror.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi on his excellent speech. Along the same lines, we have to look at the opportunities and at what the government can do to usher in a more sustainable economy and create jobs in that sector.

Recently, the government has made a lot of major purchases, such as conventional gas-guzzling military trucks and buses. All of the trucks here on the Hill are conventional. The government has shown no sign of working toward a more sustainable economy that includes hybrid vehicles. I would like the member to comment on how this government might use its influence to change things.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the excellent question.

It is true that, at present, the government is not setting an example. He rightly mentioned the trucks on the Hill. Another example right nearby is the Confederation Building, which only has single-pane windows. That is right, single-pane windows. In 1920, that was the only type of window available. However, windows with at least two panes of glass have been available for 50 years. We now have specialty glass and some are even filled with argon gas. But, in that building, there are only single-pane windows. The government does not even set an example for the general population by looking after its own property. We could have just hybrids. It could ensure that engines are shut off while waiting in a vehicle in winter. Drivers could come inside to stay warm and turn off their cars. But that is not the case. The engines are always running. Not even the trucks are turned off. That is unbelievable.

Why not require the installation of a small device on trucks and cars that would automatically turn off the engine after idling for 10 seconds. It is inexpensive, costing only a few dollars. The truck would not idle indefinitely and the government would also save money. I believe the government should set the example.