House of Commons Hansard #60 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organ.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is of a general nature in the sense that Conservative member after Conservative member gets up and they have no hesitation in terms of taking shots at the Kelowna accord, which, I believe, had widespread support. We had provincial governments from coast to coast, from what I understand, that were quite supportive of the concept of the Kyoto accord. Then the members take great liberty in trying to explain how they are such strong environmentalists nowadays in the actions they have taken.

Could the member explain to me why, if the government is doing so well on the international scene in terms of the Durban conferences going on right now, Canada is winning more fossil awards, which is not a good thing, than any other country in the world? Why is that the case if the Conservative government is “apparently” doing so well on the environment.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentions the Kelowna accord. I suppose, after signing many accords that they never planned to implement, that is just another one. I think he probably meant the other accord that begins with the letter K, the Kyoto accord.

That was a pretty sad story for Canada, signing on to an accord that was imposed on us by other countries with no realistic plan to actually implement anything. What we have done instead is come up with a plan that really works with our partners in the provinces as well as the various industries. A lot of that expertise actually resides within the provinces and those industries, as opposed to having a plan foisted upon us by certain economies that actually have nothing to do in terms of reductions. There are no commitments on their behalf to actually reduce any emissions whatsoever, including China, India and the large emitters.

We have said that, whatever we do, it will be something that makes sense for Canada. As members know, the oil and gas sector is just one example. That is 7% of the overall economy and we want to ensure that we do not destroy that as hat is a source of our wealth and prosperity.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, would the member remind the House what percentage from the emitters we are responsible for? I believe it is a very low percentage compared to other countries. Could the member elaborate?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's emissions in the overall global greenhouse gas scheme of things is less than 2%. We can make our efforts but we also need to recognize that a lot of other countries are increasing their total amount, including China. They are increasing their greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to everything that Canada produces in a given year. Therefore, whatever reductions we make for Canada, it has to be considered that there needs to be equivalent reductions by the other major emitting nations like China.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, in examining the motion we have before us here today, I have to wonder if the opposition members took the time to consider the implications of what they had proposed. The implications are not only for Canada's economic prosperity, but there are also repercussions for our timetable to make real and measurable progress on lowering emissions in the medium term, which is what the parties across the way claim they want to achieve.

Under the former Liberal government, which signed the Kyoto accord, the gap between Canada's target for emissions and the actual levels just continued to grow. Canada's greenhouse gas emissions increased by 27% under the Liberals. The Liberals utterly failed on Kyoto. As their party's former leader, Michael Ignatieff, famously admitted to the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, “we didn't get it done”.

In the NDP, we have an opposition that seems set on having Canada, which produces just 2% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, to shoulder a disproportionate share of the load, while China and the United States, which together represent more than 40% of the world's output of greenhouse gases, are not even on board. Pushing for an arrangement that does not even include the world's largest emitters will accomplish nothing except to disadvantage the Canadian economy in comparison to those countries.

By contrast, our Conservative government believes in a balanced approach to environmental stewardship, one which weighs jobs and the health of the economy alongside environmental protection.

On that note, this would be a good opportunity to highlight the important role the energy sector is playing in our country's economic future. Our government's top priority continues to be supporting jobs and growth and sustaining Canada's economy. As hon. members know, Canada is not immune to the uncertainties of the global economy, but Canada has come through the global downturn a lot better than most. Today, Canada is continuing to outperform most other developed nations.

Despite this, the NDP, instead of working toward a plan for long-term prosperity, is calling for tax hikes on job creators, on consumers, on investors, on families. Some of its leadership candidates are even supporting a carbon tax that would raise the price of gas, energy and almost everything that Canadians buy. They seem oblivious to the fact that Canada is the only country in the G7 to have gained back all the jobs and all of the economic output lost during the recession. In fact we gained it all back and more, over 600,000 jobs.

Now the IMF is predicting that Canada will be one of the G7's leaders in economic growth both this year and the next. In its annual ranking of global economies Forbes magazine named Canada as the best place in the world to do business.

A large part of our economic success is due to the strength of our growing energy sector. Canada is blessed not only with abundant natural resources, but also with innovators and risk takers. We have built one of the most advanced energy sectors in the world. We have turned Canada's energy endowment into a pillar of our economy. Energy now accounts for about 7% of our GDP. It is the key driver of our prosperity both now and in the future.

Around the world Canada is gaining a sterling reputation as an energy superpower. The numbers speak for themselves. Canada is the world's second largest producer of uranium. We are the third largest producer of both natural gas and hydroelectric power. We are the sixth largest producer of crude oil and we have 170 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

Our renewable energy sector, wind, solar and biomass, is growing steadily. Energy has always been identified with opportunity in Canada, connecting workers with good paying jobs and products with markets. In 2010 total direct employment by the energy sector was 271,000 jobs. It also supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in other sectors such as construction, manufacturing and financial services to name a few.

Canada is one of the few countries in the world that is energy rich, has a highly skilled workforce and a strong innovation system. We are also capable of increasing our energy production in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner. Simply put, we have enormous energy assets that are generating great economic wealth right across the country. To capture even greater benefits for all Canadians, we must invest in the infrastructure necessary so that our energy resources can supply rapidly growing demands, especially in Asia.

One of the prime sources of our energy wealth, of course, is the oil sands in my province of Alberta. When most Canadians think of the oil sands, they think of Alberta, but the benefits of this vast resource extend well beyond Alberta's borders and will well into the future.

Over the next 25 years, the oil sands are expected to support, on average every year, 480,000 jobs. They will pump about $2.3 trillion into Canada's economy, according to the Canadian Energy Resource Institute. That economic activity is creating thousands of jobs and benefiting hundreds of companies all across the country. In Ontario, for example, the oil sands industry is expected to buy about $65 billion worth of goods and services from Ontario companies over the next 25 years.

There is no doubt that the development of the oil sands is in the best interest of all Canadians. Yet, in their zeal to push for a grand scheme that does not even include major emitters, the NDP members have worked to undermine initiatives that are important to the economic health of our country.

Several NDP MPs made an anti-trade mission to Washington recently to actively lobby against the oil sands, the Keystone XL Pipeline and thousands of Canadian jobs. There, they criticized Alberta's oil sands as too greenhouse gas intensive, despite the fact that oil sands account for just one-tenth of 1% of the total.

I could not help but notice that while the NDP were undermining Alberta's oil sands and the Keystone pipeline project during their junket to Washington, they could not find the time to inform our friends about some of our country's many achievements. Rather than building up the achievements Canada has made toward a cleaner environment, the NDP, unfortunately, prefers to tear our country down. We need only remember how the NDP member for Edmonton—Strathcona called for a moratorium on oil sands development, while one of the NDP's leadership candidates, Brian Topp, affirmed his commitment to the same job-killing action.

It is particularly troubling for me that a fellow Albertan, like the member for Edmonton—Strathcona, would take a position such as that. The strength of Alberta's economy has been the envy of other jurisdictions, both in Canada and around the world. It is centred on two things: our people and our abundant natural resources.

The people of Alberta are resourceful, hard-working, self-reliant and entrepreneurial. We understand and appreciate the value in our abundant resources. We are careful and responsible stewards of those resources because we know that by caring for them, they will in turn help to take care of us. Yet we have a member of Parliament who suggests her fellow Albertans are being irresponsible in developing the oil sands resource.

The NDP continues to undermine this resource that will contribute $2.3 trillion to Canada's GDP over the next 25 years. The royalties that the oil sands pays the provinces to explore for resources will total $429 billion in that same period. Some 1.4 million barrels of crude oil are exported every day from Alberta to the United States alone. Our economic prosperity as a nation relies in no small part upon Alberta's oil patch.

Of course, we must ensure the oil sands are developed in the most environmentally responsible way possible. In my opinion, it is being done. Those companies that are developing the oil sands are also on the cutting edge of research into new technologies to reclaim land, manage water and reduce emissions.

Alberta accounts for nearly 73% of national oil and gas development and one in every fifteen jobs is related to the sector. However, that wealth is also being shared. The spillover from oil patch investments in Alberta will contribute another $400 billion to GDP in other provinces. That is because investments in our resource create jobs and demand for service industries right across the country.

Opposition MPs do not really understand the good, responsible environmental work that the oil and gas industry is doing and the enormous economic benefits that result. Their smear campaign against the oil sands is not helping matters.

Canada has a compelling energy story to tell. Our tremendous energy endowment provides an opportunity to create jobs and stimulate growth. We are maximizing our resources and diversifying our markets. With strategic investments in clean energy, we are positioning Canada to lead through innovation and creating the jobs of the future. We are growing Canada's status as a global energy superpower and doing so in partnership with industry in an environmentally responsible way.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member opposite for his speech. The government continues to talk about adopting a solid regulatory program to fight climate change, and yet it is two years behind its own deadline for regulating the oil and gas sector. It still has not submitted anything to the House. I would like the hon. member to comment on that.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, our government is working through regulations on a sector-by-sector basis in terms of dealing with emissions. It is important that we remember, unlike our friends on the other side who seem to forget, that there are two parts to the equation. There is the economy and the environment. We have to ensure that we are being good stewards of the environment and we have to do so while ensuring we are cognizant of our economy, the economic strength of the country and how important the oil and gas sector is to the strength of the economy. It is unfortunate they do not understand that, but we certainly do.

We are working in partnership and collaboration with industry ensuring we develop ways of protecting our environment, while also ensuring we are protecting our economy.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the economy and the environment are two sides of the same coin. The government claims it supports the economy, but I want to point out it has actually failed to green the economy. With the stimulus package, it invested $3 billion. In stark contrast, the United States invested $112 billion, China $221 billion and therefore created thousands of new green jobs.

The Minister of the Environment has said that formally pulling out of Kyoto is an option for Canada. However, when questioned repeatedly by reporters, he declined to confirm or deny a CTV news report that the cabinet had decided to withdraw from the agreement right after the Durban conference during the holiday season. It is signalling its withdrawal from international climate obligations. If the minister accepts climate change is real and the government promises accountability and transparency, why is it planning to withdraw after the Durban conference?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member was speaking about some of our work toward trying to ensure that we were developing green energy and I would like to address those comments.

There are all kinds of measures being undertaken both by industry and our government to try to ensure we are doing that. We understand the importance of our oil sands and the oil sector to our economy, but there are also many other parts to our energy future in Canada.

I look at our natural gas sector and how it has a very strong role to play in our economic future. We are already the world's fourth largest exporter of natural gas and analysts predict that over the next 100 years we will have all kinds of growth potential in natural gas. That is a cleaner form of energy and one that we will have for decades to come in terms of our energy mix. We are looking at other renewables, whether it is biofuels being created through the mandates that we have, biodiesel and gasoline as well. Those are just a few examples. There are so many that I could not list them all. We are certainly doing a lot of great work in terms of greening our energy.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, today we have heard the opposition talk about the Kyoto protocol, which the previous Liberal government signed on to with no plans to implement. We also heard the NDP leadership candidates over the weekend talk about implementing a carbon tax with no plans to cost it out. I was just on a television program with the NDP environment critic, in which she said that the international community should not listen to Canada, when we are in fact a world leader in our economy.

What does the member think of the opposition's non-plan to deal with greenhouse gas emissions as opposed to our tangible plan to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and does he thinks it is in the best interests of our country?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, it certainly is disappointing for me to hear those on the other side who do not really seem to get it. They really are being irresponsible. They do not want to look at the implications for our economy. They want to talk about things, but they do not want to take any action. We saw that with the previous Liberal government. It signed on to the Kyoto accord, yet our emissions and greenhouse gases went up 27% under that government. We are a government that is taking action and delivering real measures rather than just talking about a problem.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for York South—Weston. Before I begin, I would like to dedicate this speech to my daughter Ariane and my stepdaughter Oriana.

I must admit that I have certain prejudices. I have major prejudices against the Conservatives. I thought they were all the same, they really did not care about the environment and they only cared about what they call the economy. But I admit that I was wrong and I apologize. It is not entirely true. I have seen some Conservatives rise in the House in one way or another to defend the environment, even though the Minister of the Environment and the Prime Minister turn a deaf ear. It is reassuring to see that people on all sides of this House care about the environment.

I hope the Conservatives come to understand that the economy of the future can no longer be separated from the protection of our environment. I hope that many Conservatives will rise here this evening to defend our beautiful planet and vote in favour of our motion on the environment. I hope they will stand up in great numbers and call on their Prime Minister and their Minister of the Environment to show leadership in the fight against climate change, because right now, it is difficult, very difficult. I also hope that in Durban they will commit to supporting the 2oC limit for global warming and to respecting commitments under the Kyoto protocol, and that they will change their minds about wanting to kill the protocol. Quite the reverse, I hope they commit to respecting their Kyoto targets and that they show leadership in the second phase, which is now needed.

I will demonstrate that the Kyoto protocol definitely needs to be rescued. Not only does the future of our children depend on it, but the Conservatives are also in the process of undermining our Canadian economy and job creation for our families. The Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment are actually killing the Canadian economy with their policy. Let me explain.

The Conservatives' plan is a complete failure in the fight against climate change. The proof is that in 2008 greenhouse gas emissions had increased by 24% compared to 1990 levels, thereby exceeding our Kyoto target by 31%.

I have done my homework and studied this issue very carefully. The report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which I have right here, points out some problems in the Conservatives' plan. In the report, Mr. Vaughan says:

Since I began as commissioner three years ago, a recurring theme in my reports has been the significant gaps in the information needed to understand and respond to the changing state of our environment.

Without the proper information, how can we react appropriately? Further on in the report, Mr. Vaughan says that Canada has spent just over $9 billion in the fight against climate change but that the results of that investment are unknown. We do not know how to do better in our fight against climate change.

There will be very serious consequences. If the Conservatives and Canada do not act differently, there will be dramatic consequences. For example, the warmer temperatures could negatively affect air quality and result in more smog in urban areas, not to mention the proliferation of pollen, dust and other particles that may trigger or aggravate allergies and asthma. We can also expect that these warmer temperatures will extend the range and increase the number of insects that carry diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and various types of viral encephalitis. Some animals that carry dangerous diseases, such such as rodents and bats, may also extend their range and become more numerous.

There are thus real dangers associated with climate change. This is not just a story or myth. The government needs to wake up.

There is also the danger that the permafrost will melt. The hon. members are perhaps aware of this. I have an article that explains the dangers of this very well. Right now, something called an organic carbon reserve is trapped in the permafrost. If the polar ice cap melts, about four times more carbon than all the carbon emitted by human activity in modern times and twice as much as is present in the atmosphere now will be released into the atmosphere. It is not me who is saying this; it is scientists—American biologists at that. These are prestigious scientists. I can tell you their names: Edward Schuur and Benjamin Abbott. They spoke about this in a comment published Wednesday in the British journal Nature.

We must shift our current position on climate change. However, all these things I have mentioned pale in comparison to the other effects. The lack of concern demonstrated by the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment is also going to hurt our economy and take jobs away from Canadian families. We are currently experiencing economic problems, an economic slowdown. The last thing we want is for the government to kill more jobs.

In a recent press release, the Leader of the Opposition said that the Conservatives' environmental inaction is tarnishing Canada's reputation and putting Canadian jobs at risk. Our leader of the official opposition said:

The rest of the world is moving forward with clean energy solutions and, under [the prime minister], Canada is being left behind. That’s bad news for our environment, and it's bad news for Canadian families who will be shut out of high-paying sustainable energy jobs.

Proof of this can be found in an article written by Louis-Gilles Francoeur that I have here. It was in the weekend edition of Le Devoir under the headline “Canada's climate debt: $19 billion”. It clearly states, “Taxpayers will pay a high price for the failure to comply with the Kyoto protocol.” Who will pay a high price? Taxpayers.

The Conservatives call themselves the champions of tax cuts, but it will cost taxpayers $19 billion. Someone is going to have to pay this amount at some point. It is not true that if they sit on their hands and wait for climate change to magically stop there will not be a price to pay. This has real costs. It is more profitable to tackle climate change right away and to make revolutionary changes than to wait. The more we wait, the more costly it will be for Canada. Who will pay? Taxpayers. What this means for Conservatives is that, if nothing is done, we can expect tax hikes in future years. It will be their fault because they waited and sat on their hands. Climate change will cost us a fortune if we do nothing.

In 1997—although that was a while ago, it does not matter because it is still relevant—more than 2,800 eminent North American economists, including 300 Canadians, signed a declaration recognizing that the advantages of measures that reduce harmful emissions far exceed their cost. It is better to tackle the costs than to wait.

In conclusion, I would like to read a poem inspired by our planet. I wrote it over the weekend and it is called “The most beautiful environmental poetry”.

The most beautiful environmental poetry
Is written step by step, and slowly, slowly
Our planet Earth is a gift from above
A gift from above that fills us with love
The most beautiful environmental poetry
Is written step by step, and dances gracefully
It's a planetary dance with rhythm and finesse
Encircling the earth with a silky dress
The most beautiful environmental poetry
Is written step by step, from the depths of the heart
Only dancing hearts will have a part
The most beautiful environmental poetry
Is written step by step, and slowly, slowly
Our planet Earth is a gift from above
A gift from above that fills us with love

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, yes, the planet is indeed beautiful.

I wonder if the member would like to acknowledge that Canada is not responsible for the amount of emissions that are in fact causing a lot of climate change. What about the countries that have the highest percentage of global emissions?

I would like the member to speak about the countries that are contributing to climate change.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her question. It was a multi-tiered question and I will try to be brief by answering two parts of it.

I will begin by answering the first question, which she had already asked the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, about Canada's impact on the rest of the world. In fact, we are one of the 10 worst countries per capita in the world. Earlier, someone said our impact accounted for just 2%, but that is not true. In reality, according to the figures I have here, Canada is one of the world's 10 biggest polluters per capita. Canada needs to stop making excuses and start reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. It is here in black and white on a scientific web site. It is false to say that Canada does not have a major impact on climate change.

To answer her second question, in which she talks about other countries—and that is an important aspect—we must not forget that we have a debt. For many years, we have been polluting much more than the emerging countries. That is called differentiated responsibility. We have to think about that as well. Those countries are starting to emerge and it is clear that they cannot make the same sacrifices as we do when we have been polluting for decades. We must also respect other countries, emerging countries.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's passion on this subject.

Science tells us there will be dramatic environmental change owing to climate change with impacts on weather patterns, food production, coastlines, and diseases, among other things.

Our Arctic is extremely sensitive. We are trying to hold the warming to 2°Celsius; it may be 3° or 3.5°, but in the Arctic the warming will be much greater. This will result in collapsed terrain due to permafrost thaw, which will be ruinous for Arctic infrastructure and human activities. Permafrost thaw is already a reality.

Could my hon. colleague talk about the impact on our Arctic?