House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was climate.

Topics

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 6
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

With respect to consular services for Canadians abroad: (a) how many Canadians travel abroad every year without international health coverage; (b) is the government considering forcing Canadians to have health care coverage when they travel abroad; (c) how many consular assistance cases in the past 10 years are health-care related, broken down by country, detailing the total number of cases on any subject and indicating how many were health or medical issues; (d) how many of these cases as broken down in question (c) involved medical evacuations; (e) what were the specific costs of those medical evacuations, broken down by country; (f) what coverage is provided for Canadian government officials and their families when they are working abroad, and what exactly does that coverage entail (medical evacuations, hospitalization, etc.), broken down by country; (g) what is the cost of the coverage that is provided for these Canadian government officials and their families, broken down by country of service; (h) what company or companies are providing that coverage, by country; and (i) what criteria are considered in the selection of these providers, by country?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 28
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

With regard to the Knowledge Infrastructure Program: (a) what projects are being funded; (b) in what federal electoral district is each project located; (c) who applied for the funding for each project; and (d) what is the exact amount of money allocated to each project?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 50
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

With regard to the Privy Council Office: (a) what are the total number of contracts under $10,000 awarded between January 2008 and December 2009; (b) what were the names of the suppliers; (c) what services did they provide; (d) what were the start and end dates of each contract; and (e) what was the contractor code for each supplier?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

April 14th, 2010 / 3:35 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, this government has lacked a commitment to principled environmental policy backed by action which is urgently needed to address the climate change crisis, and it is the further opinion of this House that the government has consistently ignored the legislative and regulatory powers at its disposal that allow the government to take immediate and decisive action to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve meaningful and science-based reduction targets, and therefore the House calls upon the government to: (a) use the legislative, regulatory and fiscal authorities already available to the Government of Canada to put in place immediately a national climate change plan that implements economy-wide regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, and invests in renewable energy, clean technology and energy efficiency in order for Canada to compete in the new green economy; (b) stop putting Canada’s environmental and economic future at risk by insisting that Canada must wait for the United States to act first before showing our own leadership on this most vital issue; (c) set a domestic legally-binding long-term greenhouse gas reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050; (d) report to Parliament annually on its policies and proposals to achieve the trajectory toward the 80 percent target and revise as necessary; (e) establish a non-partisan expert group approved by Parliament to set a science-based emissions trajectory to reach that 80 percent reduction target so that Canada does its part to keep global temperature increases to below 2oC; (f) reverse the decision to cut the ecoENERGY program that allowed Canadians to receive a rebate for greening their homes using energy efficient products and services; (g) restore Canada’s tarnished international environmental reputation by implementing Canada’s international commitment made during the Copenhagen negotiations to provide our fair share of new climate change financing for developing countries to support their adaptation and mitigation efforts to deal with the climate change crisis; (h) follow through on Canada’s commitment at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh in 2009 to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and report on implementation; and (i) convene within 90 days a First Ministers’ Meeting on climate change to build upon the best practices and leadership that have been demonstrated in the provinces, municipalities and the private sector.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my colleague, the member for Etobicoke North, who is a seconder of this motion and, in case the House does not recollect, is also a Nobel laureate, having won the Nobel prize for her contributions to the intergovernmental panel on climate change. It is indeed a privilege to have her in this House of Commons and as a member of our caucus here in the Liberal Party of Canada. I thank her for her good service.

This is a motion which, in honesty, I would prefer never to have brought to the House of Commons. It is a motion that is unfortunate in its necessity because we are facing a situation now where Canada is falling behind.

We are falling behind on so many fronts that we think it is now extremely important for the House to send a message to the government that it should consider supporting this motion and to start taking dramatic action, not dramatic action in the Conservative terms that are associated with dramatic action. The Conservatives like to frame climate change as a cost. In responding to the climate change crisis, they like to frame it as grief and pain.

We on the other hand think that the response to the climate change crisis is all about opportunity. It is all about economic opportunity. It is all about jobs for working people and it is about environmental opportunity as we move forward.

We are asking the government to bring in a principled environmental policy that will immediately address the climate change crisis. Where are we 52 months later, after the arrival of the new reformed Conservative government? Well, 52 months later and 3 environment ministers later, Canada has no climate change plan. In fact, we are the only OECD country, the only G7 country, the only G20 country, not to have a comprehensive plan on climate change.

There is no energy strategy to point to for Canada's energy future. Canadians understand the connection between energy, the burning of fossil fuels, the creation of greenhouse gases, the effects on the atmosphere and temperature increases. They understand these basic scientific truths.

Canadians do not get why it is that after 52 months we have no climate change plan and no energy strategy. In fairness, I think they are also deeply disturbed by an abdication, maybe even an abandonment, of Canada's traditional soft power international leadership role in the world in this important sector.

In short, it appears as if, for this government, climate change is in the sort of wedge tactics, management of crisis terms the government tends to act on. This is simply an issue to be managed, contained and marginalized. Let us keep it at bay and not really deal with it. We will just keep jumping from ice floe to ice floe as the Arctic melts. Let us manage the crisis as opposed to dealing with it in a systemic and fundamental way.

It is all incoherent so far, and that is what is deeply disturbing. Nothing connects. Programmatic spending does not connect to fiscal incentives and disincentives. The fiscal measures that are in place are often not leading us in the right direction.

I argued, for example, vociferously with the Minister of Finance some two years ago about his tax deductible transit pass being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. It is very expensive. In fact, it is about $7,000 per tonne of greenhouse gases reduced, $7,000 which we believe should have been invested in public transit infrastructure at a time when our cities are in desperate need of additional resources.

The government has made no coherent progress on our previous government's house in order provisions and measures. It is important for a government that is leading the way to lead the way. As Shakespeare once said, “Physician, heal thyself.” Well, this physician does not even diagnose the fever.

The federal government could be doing so much more on house in order initiatives. Has it actually greened its procurement system, the way it buys goods and services? This is the largest landlord in the country, the largest employer in the country.

Is it in fact leasing buildings and demanding of landlords that they drive up the energy efficiency of those buildings? In any new construction is it building to a LEED gold or a LEED platinum standard to show the way for Canadians?

There has been no progress whatsoever. More recently, despite the pleas, the overtures and negotiations between the official opposition and the government on its infrastructure spending, the stimulus spending, billions of dollars are being spent but without the benefit of looking at that spending through a green lens, through an energy efficiency lens, through a clean economy lens. There is resistance from the government and then rejection from the government to our pleas to use this spending opportunity as a wonderful opportunity to lead and show the way as an institution called the Government of Canada. In short, what have we seen?

I think most Canadians, in fairness, would agree that the government is compromising both our environmental and our economic future, a theme I will come back to.

The leader of the official opposition has set out an ambitious and innovative plan to deal with climate change, elements of which are in this motion, and which I will turn to shortly in greater detail.

The plan and the call put out now by the leader of the official opposition are steeped in the reality of the notion that Canada is now embroiled in a clean economy race the likes of which the world has never seen before. It is driving up energy efficiency going forward. It is about retooling our economy to produce more with less.

Why is it the state of California in most of its laws no longer talks about the concept of waste? California now describes waste as unrecaptured profit. California understands that when we throw things out, that when we use energy less efficiently than we might, we are actually losing profit, losing jobs, losing capital, losing investment capital.

This race in which we are now embroiled, and actually, the federal government is not running it, but many provincial jurisdictions are, is all about becoming more energy efficient. It is about learning to do more with fewer materials, for example. It is also learning to do more with less water in our production processes. We know that when we produce more with less, we position Canada as a supplier of solutions.

I was very heartened by Ontario's throne speech two weeks ago, in which it was announced that Ontario was going to become the supplier of solutions for water and waste water technologies globally. It was a lynchpin moment. A marker was placed. A jurisdiction said that it wants to become the world leader in this field, this at a time when the world is running out of fresh water. Does anyone really think we are not going to need to get serious about conquering that water and waste water technology marketplace? Of course not.

When we actually move nationally with leadership, we position Canada to be able to supply the solutions the world is going to be searching for, and in fact is searching for right now.

The government likes to say that Canada is an energy superpower. We agree. Canada is an energy superpower, whether it is uranium, hydro power, fossil fuels, or other sources, yes, including coal, gas, oil. However, when we are an energy superpower, would it not be normal to conclude that as an energy superpower we have the most to lose and the most to gain from whatever comes both continentally and internationally in response to the climate change crisis? Would we not think that as a jurisdiction we should be out there leading the pack because our interests are so much spoken to, are so potentially affected?

Why is it if the government claims we are an energy superpower we are not out there informing, directing, trying to influence the outcome at the international level, as opposed to taking a back seat?

I would say in an introductory fashion, the Liberal Party of Canada shall take no lessons from the Conservative Party of Canada in this regard. This is the party of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the party of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the party that created the Environment Commissioner for Sustainable Development, and the party that just recently, through a private member's bill, convinced Parliament to bring in a national sustainable development strategy for this country as we move forward.

We have been and remain open to co-operating with the government. That is not the problem here. The official opposition wants to see progress on the climate change crisis. What we need now is a plan.

Let me talk a little bit about the terms of this motion. We are asking the government to stop pretending that it needs any additional powers, that it does not possess all of the regulatory authorities that it needs to be able to act immediately.

I was trying to describe this to my four teenagers just the other day. In short form I said that it was like the slogan of a major sports company: Just do it. The government has those powers.

Why is it that the Chinese and U.S. governments are investing massively in clean technology funds, capital investment funds? The government likes to say that we are harmonizing with the United States. Most Canadians are a little suspicious of this because they really fear abdication of sovereignty. To what extent are we harmonizing with the United States? When we ask the government why is it the United States is spending 18 times more per capita on clean power and clean technology investments, all of a sudden the harmonization rhetoric stops.

It is really important to remember point number one, the government does not need any powers to move immediately to regulate, for example, greenhouse gases. That is something we did as the previous government when we amended the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to include six greenhouse gases, so that a government, our government before we were defeated, now the current government 52 months later, has the power to immediately regulate.

Another aspect of the climate change crisis is this: We have to stop insisting that Canada wait for the United States to take action first, or worse, try to hide behind the complex and difficult international treaty negotiations that were continued just recently in Copenhagen. This is not true and it is, in my view, negligent of the government to act this way.

The United States is way ahead of Canada under a new Democratic administration. After the Republican administration was dispatched with, the Democratic administration within 10 months had 1,400 pages of bills on the table, negotiating through committees for consideration by the American society, industrialists, environmentalists, environmental leaders, labour leaders. All of this was accomplished within a 10 month period.

In 52 months, we have no climate change legislation. There is no bill. The government brought in the Clean Air Act some four or five years ago. It was rewritten by four opposition parties. It had the consensus and support of four opposition parties, but the Prime Minister, because this is what he does when he is backed into a corner, prorogued Parliament in order to kill the bill, delaying Canada even further.

Why is it President Obama was in Copenhagen, not alone but with six of his top ten cabinet ministers? Our Prime Minister was, in fact, embarrassed to attend in Copenhagen, and once there, refused to deliver the speech to the UN delegates who were present and, as I like to say, refused to stand up for Canada to speak at the podium, but did, of course, sit down for dinner with the heads of state.

The United States is designing a system, as it should, as a sovereign nation. It is designing a system and coming to grips with the climate change crisis by working within the confines of the four corners of its own natural order, its own challenges and to the specificity of its own economy.

When the government says that we are harmonizing, is it really saying that the United States, in its design of a domestic response to climate change, will factor in, for example, the elements of the Canadian economy that have to be addressed, Canada's manufacturing base, Canada's natural order, our boreal forest, our Great Lakes, our watersheds? Are the Conservatives serious? I would never expect the United States to design a domestic response to take into account Canada's specificity any more than we would. This is again proof that the government is hiding behind the United States or the international treaty process, is actually not serious and is making us in fact more vulnerable. We are more vulnerable to the United States now, for example, moving to put a price on carbon emissions.

As an aside, the Prime Minister went to London some three and a half years ago. He gave a keynote address. He called it the energy superpower tour. Does anyone remember that speech? He gave his first foundational speech in London and he said that within five years Canada would be pricing carbon at $65 a tonne, that we would have a cap and trade system, that we would be trading domestically. All of this has evaporated. All of this has disappeared. All of this has simply vanished, again as an issue to manage, despite the opposition party's willingness to co-operate.

We want to see a legally binding, long-term greenhouse gas reduction target of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. That is the internationally accepted baseline year, legally binding here in Canada, a target, by the way, that the government endorsed in Copenhagen. We are two years away, minimum, from an international treaty being binding, but we know the consensus is to hold to 2°C to keep temperature increases down.

We are asking that the government report to Parliament annually. How are we going to get to that 80% reduction in the next 40 years? It is a national project that we can accomplish, I am convinced, but we need annual reports. We need a non-partisan, expert group. We need to take the partisanship out of this issue. Canadians deserve and expect more from this House of Commons. The government is in the driver's seat. The government can work with us to create this non-partisan, expert group to advise us with the science, with the modelling, with the pathways, with the economic modelling. How can we get there in the next 40 years while prospering? It is something I know we can do.

We are asking the government to reverse its decision to cut the very popular home retrofit program for folks who want to do the right thing and invest in energy efficiency. In the dark of night, pulled out of thin air, the government announced it was abandoning a program that had become three times more popular in the last three years, really blocking Canadians who want to do the right thing.

We also want the government to step up and make the contribution it promised it would to help the poorest countries, the most vulnerable nations on earth that will be hardest hit by climate change. These are the nations. Canada's DNA, as someone once said, is all about being multilateral. It is all about reaching out beyond our borders. Environmental refugees have arrived.

If the government does not believe me, then it should listen to the United States' joint chiefs of staff who said just two years ago that climate change was the penultimate international security issue for the next century. It should ask the U.K. government, whose climate change policy is framed under a national security rubric. They know what we know on this side of the House. We must move forward.

We are asking the government to phase out inefficient fossil fuels subsidies so that not only do we level the playing field for investment in non-renewables, but we actually tilt the playing field in favour of renewable power. We know it is coming. What are we waiting for? We are asking, through our leader in a wonderful speech given some time ago, for a fourfold increase in renewable power by 2017 when Canada turns 150 years old.

Finally, we are asking the Prime Minister, within 90 days of this motion, should it pass in a vote later today, to convene a first ministers' meeting on climate change and energy. We need to build on the best practices of our provinces, our cities, the private sector and beyond.

We need to elevate this issue. It is deserving of being elevated. The Prime Minister must show leadership here. The provinces are craving leadership. They are craving affirmation and support for their programs. They are going it alone. It is a quilt-work in Canada. We can do better than this. We are in this race. We can win this race. It is about the future of our species, our biodiversity, our soils, our integrity, the ecological integrity of our land masses, and so much more.

In short, it is about the generations that have built this country and the generations to come.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my hon. colleague across the way. My question for him is this. How will he vote on Bill C-311, which we will vote on very shortly? We will also vote on his motion. There seems to be some inconsistencies of what he said today and I hope he can clarify them.

When we listened to the witnesses on Bill C-311, every one of them said that there should be a continental approach. Bill C-311 did not support that. From what the member has just said, it appears he does not support a continental approach. Europe did a continental approach. Canada and the United States, in harmonizing our policies, took a continental approach to attack the issue of climate change.

Therefore, does he support having a continental approach and will he be supporting Bill C-311? Hopefully he will not because it is a bad bill and it would devastate our economy.

The Liberals have been famous on making announcements. The fact is the commissioner of the environment said that they made great announcements, but before the confetti hit the ground, they forgot those promises.

The Liberal leader said, “We made a mess on the environment” and “We didn't get it done?” Will the member answer that question? Will he support Bill C-311, a bad bill that he himself has called the tiddlywink bill?