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 organs.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, we hear a lot of talk about the Keystone pipeline and how it would go over all these sensitive areas that everybody is suddenly concerned about.

Would my hon. colleague like to address the fact that well over 25,000 miles of pipeline already exist in those same areas, and that this is all about the 2012 presidential election and nothing else?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise my colleague that we did not just suddenly become concerned about the pipeline. As far as the U.S. presidential election goes, I have nothing to do with that and I have no concerns about the presidential election.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the official opposition motion on climate change. I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Nickel Belt, for his very personal and graphic description of the changes that have taken place that he has seen from the air when he is flying over his community in the north. It is a very good example of how serious this issue of climate change is here in Canada, and of how much we are missing the boat on what needs to be done.

As the Durban conference gets under way, it is very timely that the NDP has put forward this motion today calling on the federal government to show leadership on climate change. This is nothing new for the NDP; it has been doing it almost every single day. Certainly our environment critic, the member for Halifax, has been very front and centre, and very forthright in calling on the federal government for leadership and action.

This motion today is an opportunity for us to debate this important issue and to show where NDP members stand. We hope that the federal Conservative government will move and change its position.

For New Democrats, some of the key priorities for the next international climate change protocol include ensuring that there is a fair, ambitious and binding agreement. We want to ensure that there is adequate financing for the green climate fund from 2013, and we want to close the gigatonne gap between promised emission cuts and actual action. This is critical, because saying one is going to do something is one thing, but actually not following through and doing it is very serious. This is why Canadians in the environmental movement generally feel so hugely disappointed in the government's lack of performance.

We also want to make sure there is no gap in legally binding commitments.

What has the NDP been calling for? It has had an astounding track record on this issue. When our former leader, Jack Layton, came into the House, the first thing he did was ensure that we tabled a bill on climate change. That bill passed through Parliament by a majority vote. Then we had an election. We reintroduced the same bill after that election, and for a second time the bill passed through Parliament. However, as we know, it was killed in the Senate. In terms of climate change, that was a very bad day for Canada; we had a fantastic bill that was doing everything that needed to be done, and it was killed by the unelected Senate.

New Democrats have a very good track record on this issue. We have always said that we would put a price on carbon and establish hard emission caps for large industrial emitters. We have said that we want to enact a climate change accountability act. This will now be the third time. It would put into legislation a framework for achieving the national target of 80% below 1990 emission levels by 2050.

We have said that we would establish a permanent federal energy efficiency retrofit program for residential energy use, cut GHG emissions, create jobs and save Canadians money.

We have said that we would establish an effective program to help communities deal with the impacts of climate change. One very important element of that is the transition fund for jobs. The issue of jobs is very important in this debate. They are linked. As we move to a greener environment and a greener economy, we have to make sure that people are not put out of work. We have to make sure there is a transition to new jobs, new training, and good-paying jobs.

We would also fulfill our international climate change obligations and cut the over $2 billion in annual subsidies to fossil fuel industries.

Let us contrast that plan with what the federal government is not doing. It is a fact that Canadian greenhouse gas emissions were 24% above the 1990 level in 2008, setting Canada up to exceed its Kyoto commitment by almost 30% in 2012. A recent study from the International Institute for Sustainable Development makes it clear that Canada's plan is inadequate and that the current and planned measures by the provinces and the federal government combined will only achieve an emissions reduction of 46% of the government's own, and very weak, GHG emissions target by 2020.

What kind of record is that? It deserves an 'F' as a failure.

We know that the government has weakened its climate change targets by 90% since 2007. To make matters worse, on the 2010 annual climate change performance index, Canada finished 54th out of the 57 countries evaluated. There will be a new index published tomorrow, and we fear that it will not be any better for this year's index. Of course, to add insult to injury, Canada won three Fossil of the Day awards during the first two days at Durban. Unfortunately, we are a repeat winner.

This is a terrible record, and it is all the more reason we need to have this motion debated today.

I want to contrast that performance with what one city in Canada is doing. It is my own city, Vancouver. The City of Vancouver launched a program called Imagine 2020, which aims to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world in just nine years. The program's goals include green buildings, green transportation, growing local food and becoming a centre for green enterprise.

This is what is quite incredible: emissions have already been reduced to 1990 levels, and Vancouver is on track to meeting the Kyoto target, which is 6% below 1990 levels by 2012, at the same time that its population has grown by 27% and its jobs by 18%. As a result, Vancouver has the lowest per capita emissions of any major city in North America, at 4.6% tonnes per person.

I offer this because to me it is a brilliant example of how, when there is a political will--in this case, from the Vancouver City Council under the leadership of Mayor Gregor Robertson--the targets can be met and can be exceeded. We have seen this with the City of Vancouver.

Vancouver tops the chart of Canadian cities leading the fight against climate change, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The city ranks the highest on the organization's list, released in March of this year, based on indicators such as cutting greenhouse gas emissions, using renewable energy and encouraging green building and transportation. It can be done.

In fact David Cadman, who is an outgoing city councillor in Vancouver and well known in his role as president of Local Governments for Sustainability, was in Durban. I would like to quote something that he said. I quote:

Fundamentally unlike the nations of the world we are committed to action and a future for humankind. While the nations of the world like Nero fiddle while the planet burns, cities and millions of their citizens are doing the right thing and urging the nations of the world to come off this precipice that big oil gas and coal have taken us on to.

That is an initiative of a local municipal government. Here we have a federal government that claims it is interested in responding to climate change, yet every indicator, every report, every record that we have shows us that we are falling further and further behind, and now Canada is an embarrassment in the international community.

In British Columbia we have some very special and key concerns about climate change. One of them is the Enbridge pipeline. We know this massive proposal would carry over 500,000 barrels of tar sands crude each day over very sensitive and precious mountains, farm land, the Fraser and Skeena Rivers, and straight through the Great Bear rainforest to the Pacific coast, where it would be picked up by supertankers that would try to navigate some very difficult waters. I am very proud of the fact that Rob Fleming, the NDP environment critic in B.C., along with our B.C. NDP members of Parliament, have been very outspoken on this issue.

This motion today is absolutely critical if we are to see the federal government change course and move to action. That is what we need: a move to action to say that climate change is a priority, that we are not going to divide people or pit jobs against the environment, that we are going to recognize that we have to deal with the problems of fossil fuels and energy resources in Canada and that we have to move to a new green economy.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member said that the purpose of the motion today was to call the government to action. In fact, this government has been acting ever since it was elected in 2006. It has been acting aggressively to ensure that something, finally, is happening on the environment. We all know that for 13 long years the former Liberal government did absolutely nothing. However, that ended in 2006. We have received a strong mandate and we have been acting rigorously and have been providing the leadership that the world needs to take action on climate change. We recommended internationally that the world move toward an international agreement that included all the major emitters, and that is exactly the direction the world is heading.

Why would the member want to move back to the Kyoto accord that did not work? It only covered 27% of greenhouse emissions. We are now moving toward 85% when we include all the major emitters. Why would she want to choose 27% instead of 85%? Why would she want to go back to something that does not work? The world has moved on. Why would the member want to go back to the past to a program that does not work?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is the former parliamentary secretary to the Minister of the Environment and probably has a special interest in this, but the fact is that the government's record here is terrible. The Conservatives are the only ones who actually do not agree with that because, obviously, they do not like to admit it. However, any other independent assessment of our government's record on greenhouse gases and meeting our international obligations is just appalling. There is no two ways around it.

The only thing I would agree with him on is that, yes, there were a lot years when we had a Liberal government where it made very little progress. The Conservative government did not exactly inherit a great record. However, the Conservative government had an opportunity to move forward on this file and it has not, which is why Canada is now a laughing stock in the international community. That is why, at this particular upcoming international conference, we need to ensure we meet our international obligations. Do they mean nothing? Do we just throw them out the window?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that the Liberals did take action. It was project green, which the Conservatives killed when they came to power.

Our party focuses on maternal and child health from the millennium development goals. I think it is important for people to understand that malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds and remains one of the most important threats to the health of pregnant women and their newborn. An estimated 20% of the world's population is at risk of contracting malaria. The disease causes more than 300 million cases each year and kills one million people. Malaria is the disease most sensitive to weather and climate.

Our government has an opportunity help prevent malaria and save lives through taking action on climate change.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal member has put forward information about malaria and how controllable and easy it is to deal with and yet it is still a disease that is affecting millions of people and is exacerbating because of climate change. She has a very valid point to raise that. It shows us how, when we do not deal with the fundamental issues of the environment, of climate change, of income inequality, of poverty and of the growing gap between the north and the south, we can see that it comes right down to something called a mosquito that actually kills people. If we cannot solve those kinds of problems in our sophisticated world, then I think we have all failed.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Wellington—Halton Hills.

The motion today talks about leadership. It is this government that has provided the leadership through the international negotiations to deal with a changing climate. I am very proud of the accomplishments of the government. In fact, we are already seeing greenhouse gas emissions going down in Canada because of the breadth of actions of the government.

The previous member for Vancouver East mentioned that she thought Canada was a laughing stock. That is not true. The fact is that Canada has great respect internationally. The only people who were laughing at these international conferences were some of the opposition members. They go on these junkets at taxpayers' expense and laugh at Canada disgracefully. That should never happen.

I appreciate the opportunity to highlight the government's recent announcements to help Canadians adapt to a changing climate, and changing it is. The government recognizes the need to address adaptation to climate change in Canada. The reality is that the climate will continue to change, regardless of the effectiveness of greenhouse gas reduction measures. Our commitment to this important area of climate change is part of our national plan with a strong, corresponding international component.

Unfortunately, the members across the way have consistently voted against these strong, concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At a time when economic recovery, jobs and prosperity are the primary focus at home and abroad, it is more important than ever to ensure that we remain committed to providing a clean, improving environment. That means, even though we are currently in a period of real fiscal restraint, something this government takes very seriously, it is the right time to make investments that will protect the environment and position Canada's economy for the future. It is important that the reality of climate change be well understood and proactively managed.

In 2007, our government announced funding for six climate change impacts and adaptation programs totalling over $85 million. These programs have laid the foundations for future work by strengthening the climate science knowledge base and addressing urgent risks in the north, infrastructure and human health. One would ask why opposition members would vote against that. It is actually shameful that they would vote against climate change and the environment.

Northern communities are of particular concern as they often are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. As a result, we are actively consulting with aboriginal and northern groups on climate change adaptation issues.

Our government recently announced $148 million of new adaptation programs to enable the government to continue to provide Canadians with information that supports their efforts to better understand and plan for climate change impacts. Building on the work already under way, these programs focus on four priority areas of action to ensure the safety and prosperity of Canadians for the future. Did the members opposite vote for that? Tragically, no.

This important funding, which extends and expands 10 programs across 9 government departments, will help us frame a credible science-based response to the impact that climate change has and will have on our economy. It is science-based, not rhetoric-based. This will ultimately serve to improve our health, our security and, in particular, our northern and aboriginal communities. There has never been a government in Canada that has cared more about our northern and aboriginal communities.

Our adaptation efforts do not just stay within our borders, though. Internationally, the government is also engaged in adaptation efforts. We believe that if we want Canada to meet the environmental challenges ahead, we need to help others do the very same thing.

That is why Canada, which I am so proud of, was one of the first countries to step up with its fair share of climate change adaptation funding for developing countries, something we pledged to deliver under the Copenhagen accord and we are delivering. The one thing this government is known for is getting it done and taking action on the environment.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please. I must interrupt the hon. member at this point. He will have five minutes remaining when the House returns to this matter.

Operation Red Nose
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we enter the Christmas season and enjoy time with our friends and family, it is important to remember to be safe and not to drink and drive.

Operation Red Nose is a nation-wide initiative committed to preventing drinking and driving. Since 1984, this volunteer-run organization has been offering free, confidential driving services during the holidays to drivers who are not fit to drive.

Although this operation is offered across Canada, I am pleased to say that Brampton was the first GTA city to implement it three years ago. By calling 905-459-2440, Bramptonians who feel they are unable to drive can get home safety.

I commend all of the organizers and volunteers for continuing to offer this service in my riding. Without them, it would not be possible.

I encourage my constituents and all Canadians to support this service to help ensure the holidays are, indeed, happy ones.

Food Banks
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the latest Hunger Count, 18 regional food banks in Quebec—which supply some 1,064 food assistance organizations—have reported a dramatic increase in the number of people using the service. Requests for food assistance have jumped by 22% since the 2008 recession.

Unfortunately, while food banks can barely keep up with the demand, a growing number of households are being forced to rely on this service on a more permanent basis. Moisson Laurentides provides assistance to 15,000 people a month, including 5,000 children. That is the harsh reality of the economic crisis.

Last Saturday, the mayor of Saint-Colomban and I took part in the traditional food drive. Despite the best efforts of all the volunteers, the fact remains that all the food drives in the world will never replace a real plan to fight poverty. This government spent billions of dollars to rescue the investment banks from the crisis. Let us now address the crisis facing our food banks.

Foreign Affairs
Statements By Members

December 5th, 2011 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, last November, the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a statement concerning Asia Bibi's incarceration in Pakistan under its blasphemy law.

At the time, the Government of Canada registered its concerns with Pakistan at the highest levels. We have also called on the Government of Pakistan to repeal laws criminalizing blasphemy which restrict religious freedom and expression and target religious minorities.

We remember the brave stance taken by Governor Taseer and Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, both of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their promotion of the rights of religious minorities, tolerance and legal reforms.

The promotion and protection of human rights are an integral part of Canada's foreign policy. Canada continues to stand up for human rights and takes principled positions on important issues to promote freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

I call on Pakistan to release Ms. Bibi and to ensure equal rights and equal protection for all members of minority communities.

National Cultural Tourism Award
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with pride to extend my congratulations to Celtic Colours International Music Festival for winning the National Cultural Tourism Award at the Canadian Tourism Awards last week here in Ottawa.

The festival was recognized for its commitment to the development and promotion of authentic and innovative cultural tourism visitor experience.

Celtic Colours, which just marked its 15th anniversary, extends the tourism season in Cape Breton to the end of October, attracting thousands of visitors from every corner of the globe and generating millions for the local economy. It touches communities from Louisdale to Louisbourg, from Mabou to Marion Bridge.

Hundreds of artists from the Celtic world join our celebrated Cape Breton musicians for nine days of concerts, workshops, demonstrations and lectures.

This festival would not be possible without the legions of volunteers who give their time to drive artists around the island, cook meals and perform many other tasks.

I congratulate everyone involved in the Celtic Colours Festival on receiving this very prestigious national honour.

Brantford's Farmers Market
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, throughout the 19th century, the fertile land of the Grand River watershed attracted settlers from around the world, spurring farms and settlements across Brant county.

To this day, places like Paris, Glen Morris and St. George are among Ontario's most beautiful and inviting rural communities.

Brantford established a farmers market in 1848, and it is no surprise that it remains our community's largest weekly social gathering. The market is a place where people can learn about and purchase great local products that reflect the agricultural diversity and ethnic mosaic of our community.

Thanks to an investment from our government and the Brant County Federation of Agriculture's Bountiful Brant campaign, which encourages people to buy fresh, locally produced products, market vendors are reporting that business is up and more customers are visiting.

If people want to find Ontario's most delicious fresh food grown from farms with decades of hard-won experience, they need look no further than Brantford's farmers market.

Volunteerism
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, Cuso International and Volunteer Canada have partnered to launch the first State of the World's Volunteerism Report, launched today at the UN General Assembly and in 70 other countries, coinciding with International Volunteer Day. The report calls for making volunteer action an integral part of sustainable human development, highlighting the need to measure volunteerism and its inclusion among the greatest assets of nations. It recognizes volunteerism and its underlying values, demonstrating its relevance for the millennium development goals.

The generosity of Canadian volunteers has made a significant contribution to the well-being of our communities. Volunteerism embodies the drive to help at home and abroad. It fosters inclusion and helps people make a concrete positive impact in our world.

The federal government has an important role to play in the volunteer sector, in supporting the work of Canada's volunteers and revamping volunteerism in Canada. Positive change requires both financial and human investment.

I thank volunteers in our communities, across Canada and around the world.