House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was child.

Topics

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

It being 6:13 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private member's business as listed on today's order paper.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

November 24th, 2010 / 6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should proclaim September 22 as National Tree Day.

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my friends at Tree Canada who have supported my efforts to sustain Canada's urban forests during the past several years. Their assistance and guidance have been much appreciated by the good people of Ottawa—Orléans and by their servant in this House.

It is a fact that Canada is an immense and magnificent country: a mari usque ad mare. We are fortunate to have several wonders of nature, especially the tree, both grand and humble. The humble tree has played a very crucial role in the history of Canada. It has been a source of life and economic vitality. The tree also plays a key role in our ecosystem.

The trade through the forest products industry is a major generator of employment in both rural and urban Canada. The industry is responsible, both directly and indirectly, for over 600,000 jobs and it has annual revenues of over $50 billion. This represents almost 2% of Canada's gross domestic product.

Canada is the largest and most successful forest products exporting nation in the world. The backbone of this industry is the tree.

Closer to where we are now, the softwood lumber industry has been an important presence in the Ottawa Valley, and its rivers, on both the Ontario and Quebec sides, have also contributed a great deal.

The special square timber found throughout the region was extremely valuable and served as the foundation of the forestry trade in the Ottawa Valley. The forestry boom lasted almost a century in this region and its effects can still be felt and seen.

It was a catalyst for significant immigration to the region, including my own family 180 years ago. The forest industry was responsible for significant growth and cultural expansion of what we now know as Ottawa.

Over a lifetime, the average Canadian produces enough greenhouse gases to sustain 15 trees. Comparatively, each of us as members of Parliament produces enough waste in one year to sustain 200 trees.

Each year I plant a tree during National Forest Week. I do it in honour of a local constituent whose contributions to the community deserve to be recognized through the presence and vitality of a tree. It is also an act to offset my own ecological footprint, albeit a small act. I do it often with the scouts and I have done it since the days when I was a scout.

In all of Eastern Ontario, I can point to the forests that I have helped plant since childhood: 52,000 trees to date. My father, the late René Galipeau, was the one who gave me the taste for this. He used to always show me the pine forests that he had planted and that his father, Louis, had planted before him. He passed that on to me. My youngest son, Claude, has planted over 23,000 trees and he is only 26 years old.

It is important to note in the context of this discussion that while Canada is a forest nation where 10% of the earth's forests reside, 80% of its people now live in cities and towns. For these people, individual trees that make up the urban forest are now tremendously important from an environmental, economic and psychological point of view.

Strategically planted coniferous trees shield us from violent winter winds, and on hot summer days, deciduous trees give us shade that can reduce temperatures by up to 15 degrees.

Trees work hard to improve the lives of citizens and lower the costs for communities.

Trees make life worthwhile. As I have just illustrated, they reduce energy costs. They filter out gases and particles in the air we breathe. That is something I have experienced myself. At the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, at the top of the world, near the North Pole, is a Canadian settlement. It is the northernmost inhabited place in the world. It is in fact Canadian Forces Station Alert. I travelled there. The rugged beauty of the place is breathtaking. The air is so pure that a hill located at a distance of 10 kilometres appears to be a mere kilometre away. Why? Because the air is not polluted by vehicle emissions and human activity.

But wait, Environment Canada has a greenhouse gas monitoring station there. I have been there, too. I saw the results of the research. Alas, remnants of the pollution that we create in southern Canada floats as far as Alert, but much less so in the summer months when the foliage of our deciduous trees absorbs most of our carbon emissions.

Trees also prevent run-off, ensure the cleanliness of our streams, lessen noise, reduce the heat island effect caused by asphalt and concrete being heated by the sun, and provide habitats for birds and other wildlife.

Trees have been shown to increase property values by up to 20% and reduce air conditioning and heating costs by up to 15%. They have actually been shown to improve people's shopping experiences.

Trees add a psychological dimension to our communities by fostering a sense of belonging, and they even help reduce the incidence of graffiti, domestic violence and attention deficit.

This motion is about acknowledging what trees do for us and our communities, and about accepting our responsibility to ensure that the ways we use them are sustainable and respectful.

National Tree Day is a time for all Canadians to recognize the importance of trees in their lives by doing something like planting or preserving a tree or just enjoying its presence.

I am most grateful for the support of Tree Canada. It continues to work on behalf of Canadians, greening over 450 school yards, planting over 76 million trees, and helping over 350 communities' urban forest programs in every province and territory in Canada.

Tree Canada Chair Dorothy Dobbie, a former member of this House, her volunteer board and professional staff do this great work largely with the help of the private sector in partnership with community groups from coast to coast. I salute them, and in particular Cedric Bertrand and Melissa Nisbett.

The Canadian Forestry Association and the Canadian Institute of Forestry also support this initiative, and I want to salute the leadership of people like Barry Waito and Wayne Kelly and their respective boards of directors from across Canada.

Most of all, I pay tribute to my friend, Michael Rosen, the man who is both the executive director of Tree Canada and a source of inspiration for anyone who is passionate about a healthy environment for Canadian communities.

Mr. Rosen and his dedicated staff work tirelessly to produce and to provide a better quality of life for today and for future generations.

I hope that all the members of this House will support my motion and encourage their constituents to honour the presence of trees and their contributions to our past, present and future.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, I come from the town of Bishop's Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador. A book was written about my town in the last 10 to 15 years, the title of which is, In the Centre of the Forest...I Remain.

I uphold, support and agree with all the hon. member has said about the mystique and allure of our forests, and how important trees are to this country. I certainly believe in all the aspects he talked about. He talked about the increased value to everything we own. There is no doubt about it. Our majestic forests provide us with a peaceful environment. Forests are the basis of an important industry and trees represent us around the world. For example, where does the maple leaf come from?

I support the member's motion. I think it is a good one. Would the member agree that we should make a concerted effort to increase the amount of planting through a new national silviculture program?

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague's suggestion is worth taking a look at.

I am speaking here in this chamber surrounded by wood. Without trees, we would not even have the desks we have here today, or they would be built out of a slightly less worthy material. I sincerely thank the member for her comments.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, first I want to correct the record. This is not a bill. This is a motion, and I would like to ask my colleague about the fact that the Prime Minister has refused to recognize a series of motions, everything from Mr. Broadbent's motion on child poverty to other motions that have been passed, such as one on which I worked with the member for Hamilton Mountain related to a seniors charter of rights. That is the first question I would like to ask.

I would like to ask a second question. How does he square the circle around his government's terrible record related to the ash borer beetle and the pine beetle, where we have lost thousands and thousands of trees, and most recently, that it killed the most important piece of climate change legislation in the Senate just last week?

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, I find it most deplorable that a motion such as the one I have just presented, and I never intended it to be described as a bill, should cause him to bring about politicization in this manner. I really think there is another place to do that kind of debate.

If he wants to discuss the merits of the Senate, I will be very happy to do that, because we have presented in this House, on many occasions, bills to reform the Senate, and it is that side that refused to modernize and to reform the Senate.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, Manitoba has a broad expanse of boreal forest on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. The government is trying to protect that area and turn it into a UNESCO world heritage site, but his provincial cousins, the Manitoba Conservative leader and his party, are wishing to build a hydro corridor down the east side.

I just wondered whether he was aware of that issue and whether he would endeavour to follow the 10,000 people who have intervened in this issue and add his support to those who want to turn the area into a heritage site and stop the power line from coming down the east side in the boreal forest.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, statements made in the House often imply that the provinces interfere in the business of Parliament. I am a federal member of Parliament and I would not interfere in the business of a provincial legislature.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I am very pleased to speak to the motion of the member opposite, which states, “That, in the opinion of the House, the government should proclaim September 22 as National Tree Day.” I congratulate him on this motion and his excellent work on this subject.

I would like to take a moment to explain the fundamental role that trees have played in Canada's history. I will start by taking us back to the very beginning of our country's history, even before the first Europeans set foot here. We know that the people who inhabited this land used wood every day to build tools, weapons, artifacts and obviously many other things. I must also point out that at the time, forests covered the vast majority of the land that is now known as Canada.

The tree also has symbolic meanings for the first nations peoples, and these meanings can vary from one nation to the next.

However, all we need to know and remember is that, in general, roots represent their attachment to mother earth. This is the case throughout the Americas. This same link exists in many different countries. I met with people from Latin America who felt this same tie to mother earth. The roots represent our attachment to mother earth and the rest of the tree represents the community. Without strong roots anchored in the earth—in other words, a constant regard for the nature around us—the tree, which represents the community, cannot stand firm.

We must respect the tree; we must respect the roots. When we do, we respect our community.

There is a lesson to be learned. It is about the importance of fostering a culture of respect for the environment if we want human beings to survive. That is fundamental. It is good to come back to these basic lessons and recognize that this balance on earth is fundamental for human beings. We need to remember that.

Let us turn back the clock. We will continue to look at the history of our relationship with trees. I am thinking about the first settlers who came here. I would like to talk about them for a moment. We know that during their first rough winters here in Canada, they survived scurvy by drinking a cedar-based beverage.

And so trees kept many of them alive. They also learned from the first nations that trees could improve their quality of life. Maple sap, once boiled, became maple syrup—the same famous maple syrup that many Canadians, young and old alike, still love to put on their pancakes today. Boy, do we love our maple syrup.

Then people began to use trees as a natural resource. They used wood to build boats, house frames and many other things.

Let us not forget—since we are talking about history and going back in time—about the drivers who worked to transport logs over river rapids. We know that wood played a fundamental role in building our country.

A little more recently, wood processing plants and pulp and paper plants became real leaders in the Canadian economy, all thanks to our countless trees. We are truly quite fortunate to have so many trees in our country.

Trees are still used today as a natural resource. The wood they produce is still commonly used as a building material and in pulp and paper plants.

If we look at the forestry industry, it is clear that across Canada, it is an important industry that employs huge numbers of people, thousands of people, and generates considerable profits.

For those people, the tree has additional symbolic meaning, additional importance: it is their bread and butter.

Just look around us: there is wood everywhere. My colleague mentioned this earlier. To this day, wood is one of the most common materials, whether in the House or elsewhere. I truly hope that this continues to be the case because, in many respects, wood is absolutely irreplaceable.

In the past, people have cut down trees recklessly, and that is still true today. The documentary by Richard Desjardins, Forest Alert, clearly demonstrated that some companies did not consider how important trees are to the environment. In fact, they did not care. Trees are important not only to the environment, but also to our well-being. On behalf of my party, I would like to thank Richard Desjardins for raising Canadians' awareness of the importance of the environment and the responsible use of trees as a natural resource.

Today, thousands of trees are planted every year to renew our forests. We are also a bit more aware—although perhaps not enough yet—that Canada's forests and all trees are our planet's lungs. Photosynthesis, which captures the CO2 in the air and improves everyone's quality of life, is vital to our quality of life and the survival of the human race. A few years ago, we started recycling paper to reduce tree cutting and preserve our forests, but we still have a lot of work to do.

We can look at trees in different ways. They are part of the beauty of our country. Our trees and forests are an integral part of the beautiful scenery in Quebec and Canada. Some regions have developed a whole tourism industry around the beauty of the local trees. When we climb up a mountain in the fall, what could be better than seeing all the magnificent leaves of red, orange and all sorts of colours. Without trees, that scenery would not be the same. It certainly would not be as lovely. What is more, tourists would not be as interested in travelling here, and our tourist industry would never recover.

I could go even further and say that many works of art never would have been created without trees, which inspired them in the first place.

Trees have always been important to Canadians' lives, and they still are today. Trees are so much a part of our lives in Canada that we even have a maple leaf on our flag.

There are many different ways to look at trees. For those who work in the forest industry, trees and wood are their bread and butter. For others, a tree is just something to hang a swing from or lie underneath, out of the heat of the sun. People look at trees in different ways, but trees improve everyone's quality of life because of how they affect our environment and our air quality.

Even my colleague here will agree that we must preserve our trees and our forests. Having a day to commemorate the importance of trees is a good start. It is not nearly enough, but it is a step in the right direction. That is why my colleague and I and the entire caucus are happy to support this motion.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this motion that would create a national tree day.

As the Bloc's natural resources critic, I am absolutely in favour of the substance of this motion. However, it is surprising that this was the initiative of a member of the Conservative government, which is running the country with little regard for environmental considerations. The resignation a few weeks ago of the member for Calgary Centre-North, who was the Minister of the Environment, says a lot about how important the environment is to this government. For them, it is just not worth the trouble.

Forests are a critical resource in Quebec. Quebeckers truly value our forestry industry. Our ancestors built this country from a lush forest that they had to conquer. Quebeckers are still proud of having parcels of land that no human has ever set foot on. That shared resource is priceless.

Forests covering more than 760,000 square kilometres—three times the area of France—are a renewable resource that we must develop responsibly.

As hon. members know, trees purify our air. Canadian forests capture almost 40 megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year, and the equivalent of 900 years of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions are stored there without it costing us a penny. The forest ecosystem is also one of the richest and is host to a multitude of endangered species.

Even though Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol, the government keeps changing the targets and the reference years to mislead the public. By doing so, it is demonstrating its utter indifference to this problem. It will let future generations suffer the consequences.

Nearly 80% of the clean energy fund will go to carbon capture and storage programs, a technology whose benefits have not yet been proven. Again, the government is denying the problem and investing massively for its friends, the oil companies in the west, instead of addressing the source of problem, carbon dioxide emissions.

The Conservative government has a bad habit of sticking to a dogmatic, narrow-minded, regressive ideology. In the name of the economy and the free market, the Conservatives too often tend to forget the virtues of a healthy environment, and forget that savings can be made in the medium and long terms by investing in emerging sectors.

Researchers in wind and solar energy are sounding the alarm. If this trend continues, Canada will fall so far behind in these technologies of the future that soon we will have to depend on outside expertise for implementing new green energies. Despite studies that show the profitability of the ecoEnergy programs, the government continues to stick to its ideology and its financial supporters in Alberta. The oil companies get significant tax breaks and they also get public relations services paid for out of the public purse. Climate Action Network Canada has denounced this and shown that Canada has lobbied to promote dirty energy on the world stage at our expense. What more can I say?

Beyond its environmental benefits, the forest is a resource that provides jobs to Quebeckers. I know what I am talking about because my riding was an international hub for pulp and paper. The workers are proud of their responsible approach to exploiting this resource.

Unfortunately, the forestry industry is going through one of the worst crises in its history. Since 2003, no less than 300 plants have closed their doors. Quebec has been hit the worst by this crisis. Since April 2005, more than 26,000 jobs have been lost in the forestry industry alone in Quebec, not to mention the related industries and services such as transportation or forestry equipment. This represents half the job losses in Canada in this sector.

These job losses have had disastrous consequences for Quebec communities. Nearly half of Canada's forestry communities are in Quebec. In fact, 230 cities and towns depend mainly on the forestry industry; 160 of them depend exclusively on forestry.

The future of these cities—entire regions, even—is uncertain.

Some regions in Quebec have been devastated. Since the summer of 2004, 44% of forestry jobs in my region of Mauricie have been lost, 58% in the Upper Laurentians, 42% in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 36% in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and 34% on the north shore.

Declining property values in these areas combined with chronic high unemployment and geographic isolation for the most part are pushing youth to leave. Some leave to study and others have no choice if they want to survive. Despite their strong desire to return to their region and settle down, the economic situation forces them to go to large centres.

These regions are emptying out. Young people are not coming back because there are no jobs. People are worried.

Nearly 5,000 people joined in the green march in Ville-Marie, Témiscamingue, on November 8. The participants hoped to spur governments to intervene and help the region, which is facing serious economic difficulty, notably in the forestry sector.

This was an unprecedented demonstration for a region of nearly 20,000 citizens and it demonstrates their anger and exasperation.

It is clear that the Conservatives are mainly to blame for the suffering in many parts of Quebec. The government's latest budget showed that the Conservatives are out of touch with Quebeckers.

It is unacceptable that the Conservative government injected 57 times more money into Ontario's auto industry than into the forest industry, which has had to make do with crumbs.

Clearly, the Conservatives are excited about potential election gains in southern Ontario and are literally obsessed with winning a majority in Parliament. This obsession with election glory leaves very little room for concern about the public interest.

I can appreciate that my Canadian colleagues do not agree with Quebeckers' collective desire for emancipation and sovereignty. But they should perhaps give some thought to what the Bloc Québécois is calling for.

Canada's forest industry urgently needs to be modernized, and the only way to modernize is by investing in technology and new equipment. To invest, the industry needs cash, which it does not have. It will need to borrow in order to modernize. In response to this need, the 2010 budget provides for an accelerated capital cost allowance, but what good is that if a company cannot borrow for new equipment in the first place because it has no loan guarantees? How can the company get access to credit? As usual, the Conservatives preferred to turn a deaf ear to Quebec's demands.

The budget also provides $25 million a year for the next four years to modernize all lumber and pulp and paper mills. This ridiculous amount shows how incompetent the government is, because a single machine can cost $25 million.

I repeat, the Bloc Québécois supports this motion. Forests are a sensitive issue for Quebeckers, and their survival is vital to the survival of the human race. Jurisdictions are another sensitive issue for Quebeckers. To us, our capital is Quebec City and the National Assembly is our parliament. It is important to remember that managing natural resources is a provincial jurisdiction.

Moreover, Quebec's forest industry is teeming with ideas and is clearly determined to recover from the crisis. But the industry needs cash to rebound. The federal biofuel programs may be worthwhile, but secondary industry takes healthy primary industry. A plant cannot become more energy efficient if it is no longer open.

To us, forests are an abundant renewable resource. It is sad that the government's priority is to abandon our leadership position in this industry.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to motion.

First, it was interesting that the mover of the motion said that this was not political. We are in the House of Commons. When one raises issues related to the tree, puts forward a loving, caring motion and then talks about the use of the tree in our forestry sector and its value to society, we have to look at the policies of the government related to it and whether there is true meaning behind a 17-word motion that needs to be amended. It is important that we talk about those things and not ignore them.

If this motion is to have meaning, we have to raise serious issues.

The first serious issue is it is a motion and not a bill. A bill is a different thing. A bill has considerably more weight than a motion. When in opposition, the Prime Minister used to say in the chamber that there was a moral responsibility to act when a motion in Parliament was passed. Since that time, all kinds of motions have been passed in the chamber and have never been acted upon.

One motion I worked on was the seniors' charter of rights, which eventually was in the name of the member for Hamilton Mountain. It dealt with seniors issues, such as housing, poverty and pensions. It was an important motion, yet it was not been acted upon.

Previous to that, Ed Broadbent, a respected Canadian from all party persuasions, had a motion passed to end child poverty. Sadly, nothing has been done on child poverty to get to the targets in the motion.

Recently, a motion by the member for Toronto—Danforthon the Investment Canada Act was passed. The Investment Canada Act is something we heard about recently during the potash deal and other types of unfortunate takeovers, including those in the forestry sector, in which Canadians have lost their jobs. The forestry sector is very important because we are losing our value added.

The government was part of the softwood lumber sellout. Despite winning under the dispute mechanisms of NAFTA and several lawsuits, as well as Canadians footing the bill for over $100 million in lawyer fees, we lost the $1 billion that was awarded to us out of the $5 billion, which was illegally taken from Canadian companies.

I understand the member is trying to do something nice in recognizing the tree and I appreciate that. I am the former vice-chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority. Industrialization caused devastating effects to the environment and our ecosystems in my area. I live in a Carolinian forest area in southern Ontario, one of the few places in North America that has this diversity, and we are trying to build it back.

It is important that we talk about this. If there is to meaning, the government policies have to be solid.

I talked about the ash borer beetle in southern Ontario that came up through Michigan. The Liberal government of the day was very slow to act and did not take it seriously. By the time the firewall was built, basically by knocking other trees down, the borer beetle was already past it.

The publicity and notification campaigns were late, despite the warnings for years and years, and the beetle got out. It is in northern Ontario and other parts of Canada now. We have seen the devastating effect of that beetle. It goes underneath the skin of the elm tree, burrows and destroys the tree. We have lost thousands upon thousands of trees not only in the forests but in our cities. They have caused great economic damage, as well as critical environmental damage, not only in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

The member noted that, but he did not want to talk about the fact that his party killed a climate change bill. Bill C-311, put forward by the member for Toronto—Danforth, the first one the world had seen, was killed by the unelected Senate. Once again, it gives meaning to the words.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

We want an elected Senate.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

The member is shouting that he wants an elected Senate. The government has been slow to act on that for many years. The Prime Minister has appointed more people to the Senate than any other prime minister in history.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

That's with the rules we have now.

National Tree Day
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

This is the reality.