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

5:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my honourable colleague for her question.

As I mentioned earlier, we must ensure that the permafrost does not disappear because it contains huge reserves of organic carbon. These are the decayed plants and animals that have accumulated in the soil for millennia. If the permafrost were ever to thaw and disappear, this carbon would be released into our atmosphere. It would represent about four times the amount of current carbon emissions. Therefore, we absolutely must comply with the Kyoto protocol. We made a commitment, we ratified the protocol and we must comply with it. We must be a leader, we must show leadership in the matter of the second phase of the Kyoto protocol.

The first phase is one thing, but now we must commit to the second phase of the Kyoto protocol. Above all we must not abandon the protocol—just because China is not willing to do its part or because the United States does not want to sign—and go sulk in a corner. Just because one country is shirking its responsibilities does not mean that we have to join the race to the bottom. We must show leadership, prove that we want to be part of the solution and serve as an example. For that reason I ask the Conservatives to vote for our motion this evening.

Telephone Calls to Mount Royal Constituents
Privilege
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address the issue regarding the question of privilege from the member for Mount Royal.

Last week I explained why the complaint of the hon. member for Mount Royal was not a matter for the House to judge because it falls outside its authority. I will not go through my entire submission again. I believe it speaks for itself. I will briefly summarize.

First, the resources used here to make these calls were not those of Parliament or the Government of Canada, but those of the Conservative Party. Moreover, the underlying goal of voter ID is an important activity, and those calls were within the bounds of typical political discourse.

Second, the day-to-day conduct of political parties should not be judged by the House or by its members.

Third, the hon. member has not explained how he was prevented from doing his job as a member of Parliament, beyond being asked about the issue by constituents and fielding calls on the matter. He has not given examples of how this has prevented his work in this place from being done. I accept that these calls and questions were an irritating and even maddening diversion, but they did not prevent the member from performing his duties, which I think he does well.

I would nonetheless clarify the content of the voter ID calls and the matter of erroneous information being spread since I spoke last on this issue. The member for Mount Royal said that the Conservative Party of Canada conducted calls into his riding that stated clearly that he had stepped down or was about to. That is false. The reality is that the Conservative Party did not say that the member had stepped down or was about to, only that there were rumours that he might step down.

The member for Mount Royal has said that he has no problems with a political party conducting voter identification calls. The member also admitted that there had indeed been rumours that he might resign and that there was nothing wrong with saying so.

In conducting voter identification, the Conservative Party used its traditional voter ID script, with no mention of a byelection. However, when prompted by voters on why they were being solicited or asked for their support, in those instances there was a pre-written response that the callers were to use. I would like to read this prepared response into the record.

Once the initial voter ID script was read, if a voter asked why the Conservative Party was calling, the caller would say:

Some people are suggesting that the current MP may retire, so we're calling on behalf of [the Prime Minister] and the Conservative Party of Canada to ask if you would consider supporting the Conservative Party of Canada if there is a byelection.

It is true that this might raise some questions for the hon. member. However, as he stated, those questions have been floating around for the past 12 years. In no way did the Conservative Party say that he had or would quit, only that he might. The member, however, has stated the Conservative Party went much further. That is the epicentre of this dispute.

I, for one, would concede that political parties cannot say whatever they want and that there must be some element of truth. Nothing here crossed that line, and although the calls were perhaps tough, they were still acceptable in the day-to-day world of political jockeying.

I do also want to address a point raised by the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, who compared this matter to one that occurred in 1985. In that instance, a newspaper advertisement suggested that someone other than the sitting member was the member of Parliament. This is not comparable to the dispute before us today, for a simple reason. The newspaper ad caused confusion by stating that the seat in question was held by someone other than the person who held it. On the other hand, the matter before us does not sow confusion by either claiming that there was a different member of Parliament or that the current one had resigned or was about to, only that there were rumours that he might. This is fundamentally different.

I hope you will find that no prima facie breach of privilege has occurred and agree this language falls within the boundaries of political discourse, or, at the very least, that it is not a matter for the House to adjudicate. I would also add that the hon. member has indicated he will not step down and will serve his whole term. I accept that, as I'm sure his constituents do, which puts the issue to rest.

The best place for this to be judged is among Canadians, not in the House. Otherwise, I fear you will be called upon to rule on all matters of political activity. Examples are past TV advertisements stating that Conservatives would flood cities with our soldiers or recent billboard ads stating that repealing the long gun registry would result in restricted weapons becoming unrestricted, both of which are false and groundless.

This is the peril. You are being asked to send the House into territory where it does not belong. I urge you to proceed with caution.

Telephone Calls to Mount Royal Constituents
Privilege
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The House thanks the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest for his intervention.

Is the hon. member for Winnipeg North rising on the same point?

Telephone Calls to Mount Royal Constituents
Privilege
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point.

I find it somewhat surprising that the member from New Brunswick would stand in his place today at ten to six to bring home a point that has been explained at great length. I question it in terms of his motivation for bringing it up.

The facts do not change. The Prime Minister, who is the leader of the Conservative Party, condoned a polling done in the riding of Mount Royal, thereby giving a clear impression to the constituents in Mount Royal that the member for Mount Royal was going to be resigning.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that it is indeed a privilege. To try to give the impression that it would not interfere with the member's ability to perform his or her duties is just out of this world. I do not understand how you could possibly imagine that it would not affect it. What is hard to believe is that the Prime Minister has not had the courage to stand up and apologize to the member for Mount Royal in recognizing that the behaviour of the Conservative Party was highly irresponsible. If anything, the Prime Minister should be asking Elections Canada to get directly involved and investigate the matter. That is what is necessary.

I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that you should take the time necessary to protect the rights of each and every member, because if we allow the Prime Minister to get away with this, it could happen to any one of us. I would suggest that you take the time, do the work, and let us rule that whoever it is, whether the Prime Minister or anyone else in this chamber, does not have the right to go into a constituency and say that a member is resigning when we know full well that is—

Telephone Calls to Mount Royal Constituents
Privilege
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. I do not know that there was anything new there, but we appreciate the intervention. I am sure that we will take these interventions in due course and bring the issue back to the House in good time.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for York South—Weston.

The House resumed consideration of the motion

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will bring us back to the matter at hand, which is leadership. What we are talking about here today is leadership, leadership of the Government of Canada in leading not just Canada but the rest of the world in tackling global climate change.

It used to be called global warming, but people did not like that. It is now called global climate change. I liked global warming, because it gave a real idea of what it meant.

We are trying to deal with a real phenomenon. It is really happening; it is not a mystery anymore; it is not something that people are imagining, and it is catastrophic. What is about to happen to the planet is something that can be prevented, but for some reason governments all over the world are reluctant to take the leadership role that they need to take to do it.

Canada has traditionally been a country where leadership on issues of global importance could be counted on. Canada could be counted on to take on the role of being a peacekeeper. In 1939, Canada was counted on before the United States to move into Europe with troops to help defend Britain and the rest of Europe. We did not have to wait for the United States to jump on board before we would do it, but that is what the Conservative government is telling us here today: that we have to wait until the big players jump on board before we do anything about climate change. That is wrong.

One need only look at where the greenhouse gases come from to understand the enormity of the problem that faces us. Essentially, we could imagine a pie chart divided into fifths. Agriculture is about a fifth of the pie. Industry is about a fifth. Goods transportation is about a fifth. Human transportation is about a fifth. Heating and cooling our dwellings is about a fifth.

When we look at that pie, we can look at reducing the amount of greenhouse gases each of those sectors contributes or at just shutting one of them down altogether--industry, for example. No, that is not a good idea, because we are an industrial country and we need our industry. What could we shut down, goods transportation? That does not work either. What we would have to do is shrink the amount of greenhouse gas coming out of each of those sectors of our economy.

The Conservatives have suggested that we are going to do it by reducing by 17% from 2005 levels by 2015, but what really needs to happen, and what world leaders and scientists have agreed on, is that we need to reduce by 80% by 2050.

Now, looking at that pie, will we shut down four parts of our economy to get to 80%? Are we actually going to close down goods transportation, people transportation, industry and agriculture, leaving only heating and cooling, which is essential to get by? No, of course not.

However, there needs to be a much bigger response than the one we are getting from the other side of this House to deal with it in such an enormous way. We do not have time to waste while we dither over which country is in or out of this club. That is not what we are about. We are Canadians. We lead the world on issues like this. We do not say, “Well, we are only 2%, so the rest of the world should do this, and we will just continue to put our 2% out.”

Think of what our kids would say if our attitude was that it was okay to go ahead and litter because what we put on the ground was only 2% of it. That is not what we as adults want to tell our children, and it should not be what we as Canadian leaders tell the rest of the world. Our 2% is actually four or five times greater than it should be, because we are one of the world's largest per capita consumers of fossil fuel energy.

Why is that? It is not just because we are in a cold country; it is because we do not do anything about our fossil fuel consumption. I will give a real-world example.

Let us take the transportation sector as one of the four pieces of the pie, and the human transportation sector as one of those four or five pieces of the pie, which I think is low-hanging fruit. It is something we could do something about very easily and quickly. They have done it in Europe.

In Switzerland, we discovered, as we were listening to witnesses at our transportation committee, that 80% of the trips taken by the population of Switzerland is in public transit. That is what we should be aiming for. We reduce greenhouse gases by 80% out of one sector of the economy by building a transportation infrastructure system that is convenient, regular and runs like a Swiss watch, which is what happens in Switzerland, so people know they will get from point A to point B in a reasonable period of time and it is competitive to using their own personal vehicle.

However, we are not doing that. We are building roads. Every province in this country is building roads as fast as they can because cars are the only way people know how to get around.

As a federal government, we ought to be encouraging the building of public transit. We ought to be using the large arm of the law, as it were, and the large spending capacity that we have as a federal institution to create a public transit infrastructure in this country that would take people out of their cars and into public transit with mechanisms that are electric.

In a lot of countries, electric generation is done without the use of fossil fuels. It can be replaced quite easily by the use of windmills, photovoltaics and hydro-electric systems that do not consume any hydro carbons and, therefore, do not emit any greenhouse gases.

Instead, we are encouraging the use of personal vehicles. We are sucking fossil fuels out of the ground as fast as we possibly can. All we can say to a government that is doing that is that, as we expand the sucking of fossil fuels out of the ground, let us do it in a slightly less consumptive way next year. However, that is not the way to solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions on this planet.

The way to solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions on this planet is to consume dramatically less fossil fuels. It is not a little bit, not 17% over 10 years, but 80% over the next 30 to 40 years. If we were to do that, we could create jobs in the meantime. We can build an industry in Canada, an industrial base that is based on green technologies and the generation of electricity using non-fossil fuel sources. We can build electric vehicles that can transport people in large numbers. Instead, we turn to other countries to build them for us.

We should be taking leadership. We should be building jobs in this country based on what we know we will need in 40 years. We know we will need more efficient ways of getting the job done. We know we will need more efficient and less consumptive ways of getting around. We know we will need more efficient and less consumptive ways of getting our agriculture done. Since we know all of this, and it is a little way in the future, we should be planning for it. We should be taking steps to create these industries and create an industrial model in Canada that builds jobs around what we know we will need in 40 years.

Instead, we are told over and over again by the other side of the House that the jobs are in the oil patch. The jobs will be where oil is coming out of the ground. However, if the rest of the world wakes up and realizes that we cannot actually consume that much oil because we would not have a planet to live on anymore, then the jobs will not be in the oil patch. The economies of the world will not demand oil if they decide they are going to create sustainable environments, industries, transportation, agriculture, home heating and cooling, all of which we think we should be working toward consuming fewer fossil fuels.

We are in a position where we could be leaders in the world. We should not be pointing fingers at other countries in the world telling them that until they lead we will not go here. That is wrong-headed. We should be taking this bull by the horns, creating the jobs, the industry and the technologies that will bring us out of this morass.

We should not be investing any more in sucking fuel out of the ground, nor should we be counting on the jobs that would be created to ferry stranded passengers at Vancouver airport when the airport floods. Let us look at the jobs we have, running ferryboats across to Vancouver airport. Those are not the kind of jobs this country needs or wants.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

December 5th, 2011 / 6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague's remarks with interest, understanding that he is from a Toronto area riding where they may not be quite as familiar with pickup trucks as are my constituents.

I noted that the member said that about 80% of the trips taken in Switzerland were by public transport. The four Saskatoon area constituencies have a square mileage slightly larger than that of Switzerland, about 10% or 15% larger, with the population of around 300,000.

Does the hon. member not think that certain comparisons, like the one with Switzerland, is considerably unfair with a country as remote and as rural as Canada that does not have anywhere near the population densities of a country like Switzerland which has seven million people? Does the hon. member not think his analogy was a little inaccurate?

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is very true that Canada is a much bigger place than Switzerland. However, even the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities appealed to the transportation, infrastructure and communities committee that it needed suburban rural public transit and it does not have it. It relies on private sector bus companies to come by its communities once in a while. The government is not investing in public transit for communities like Saskatoon, for communities in the rural municipalities of Saskatchewan that really could use some investment in public transit and which, I think, understand that public transit is one of the ways we will get out of this mess.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate my hon. colleagues from York South—Weston and Drummond on their excellent speeches in favour of the motion moved by the member for Halifax.

We have often heard that the municipalities are showing real leadership when it comes to climate change, and the same thing is happening at the provincial level and in small communities.

Can my colleague explain why it is so important that Canada show real leadership regarding climate change, as our motion states?

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, it should not be just left up to individuals. The member is absolutely right. It also should not be left up just to some municipalities that do take as much of a leadership role as they possibly can. Municipalities in this country do not have the taxation ability, the wherewithal that the federal government does to invest heavily in infrastructure. What needs to happen is those heavy investments in infrastructure in such things as public transit, but it may be electricity generation. Not only are they a great return on investment in terms of the actual capital return, they help with climate change and they create jobs. We are looking at creating jobs every chance we get and we should be looking to create jobs with this global climate change attack that we are preaching.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his excellent speech.

I would remind the member that he is quite right and that Canada is currently one of the 10 worst countries when it comes to the fight against climate change. The Conservatives' error was saying that the impact is only 2%. When we look at the numbers per capita, we are among the 10 worst countries in the world.

My colleague suggested some excellent solutions to fight climate change. Now what does he think of the NDP's recent proposal for a national transit strategy?

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have in fact proposed a national public transit strategy because we recognize, not just that people need to get around, but that public transit is an effective way of combating climate change, at least in Canada, and an effective way of creating a new industry in Canada. We need industrial jobs in this country. We need to be able to return to an economy in which people can expect to have a good, full-time job with benefits, and that comes, in large measure, from the kinds of industries that public transit infrastructure will provide.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before I recognize the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands, I need to let him know that there are about four minutes remaining in the time allocated for debate this afternoon and so I will need to interrupt him at 15 minutes after.

The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise two points in the time I have left.

First of all, we have heard a lot here today about the supposed progress that Canada has made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but I think if we took the recession and the efforts made by the provincial and municipal governments out of the equation, very little would remain.

This choice between the economy, the environment and the balance that the Conservatives are giving us is very misleading. I want to give a couple of examples to show that this is a false choice. The first example I want to give is of a project that occurred in my riding. It was an effort by the municipal government. It was not something that was easy to accomplish. It was the construction of a new police station.

A sustainability engineer in the city government decided that an energy-efficient police station should be built. She said that a lead gold building for the new police station should be built and it was not an easy thing to do because it required a lot of up-front costs. However, she was persistent and, in the end, she got this new police station built to lead gold standard. Once the proper accounting was done and people saw all the money that could be saved in the future, it turned out that the new police station built to lead gold standard actually saved the city of Kingston $1 million over its lifetime. If we were to do the proper accounting, we would realize that we need to act now, even if there are costs now because there are a lot of benefits in the future. That is an example of action by a municipal government that made a difference despite the lack of leadership from the federal government. It was something that saved taxpayers money and helped the environment.

The second thing I want to mention is something that the provincial government has been doing. In my riding of Kingston and the Islands, about 50 jobs were created about a year ago in the manufacture of solar panels. This is another example of where, as we prepare for the post-fossil fuel economy where renewable energy becomes cheaper and cheaper, we want to position this country as a leader in renewable energy. This happened in my riding with the creation of 50 jobs in the manufacture of solar panels. Who was responsible for that? It was not the federal government. The provincial government showed leadership in this case and that is the source of some progress.

Another example is of a private company that makes and sells thousands and thousands of little monitors to utilities, mostly in the United States. These monitors tell consumers when the utility is providing a lot of electricity. Everybody has their switches turned on and they are paying peak prices for electricity. This is a way of warning consumers that they should start turning off their appliances or do their washing at a different time of day. This is a tool that utilities can use, a product made and designed in my riding. There was the creation of jobs in my riding by a private company that helps utilities in the United States avoid having to build the extra power plants to create the extra power that is needed to service peak demand.

I have given three examples of projects in my riding that have either saved money or created jobs and a healthy environment and all of them were done by either the municipal government, the provincial governments or private enterprise with no help from the federal government. We can just imagine what we could do if the federal government was onboard.