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

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his commitment to climate change. However, I want to point out the government's targets are anything but aggressive. It has reduced its targets by 90%.

The Prime Minister and several members of his cabinet and his caucus previously have questioned the scientific evidence linking human activity to climate change, describing the Kyoto protocol as a socialist scheme.

The current Minister of the Environment has described Canada's position as a constructive approach. He has said there is an urgency to this. He has also said we do not need a binding convention. What we need is action and a mandate to work on an eventual binding convention. Is this contradiction government policy?

Although the minister insists Canada is making great strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the government's own plan shows it can get us only 25% of the way there.

I would like to know this from the hon. member. Where is the government's credible plan to address the remaining 75%?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, the rest of the plan will be rolled out in the very near future. In fact, last year we brought out the regulations for passenger cars and light trucks. A number of months ago, the government gazetted the regulations for industries that utilize coal. Regulations for heavy trucks will be announced shortly at some near future date. The oil sands and other major industrial emitters that lie in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor will also be brought under the umbrella of the government's plan.

The fact is that in five short years in office, we will achieve 47% of the 17% target we have committed to based on the actions already completed to date. That is after five short years in office. We have another eight years to go before we hit our target date of 2020. The government is going to be rolling out these regulations and these plans and it is going to achieve, for the first time since 1990, meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases. That was not the case under the previous government for the period of 1990 to 2005.

The plan is real, the targets are aggressive and our plan is halfway rolled out. I would suggest for members opposite that when we roll out the rest of our plan, we need their support to sell this plan to Canadians, to industry and to the country as a whole, because these will be tough and aggressive targets.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Berthier—Maskinongé.

I rise today to speak to this issue. Everyone in the House recognizes the importance of climate change and the impact it has on our environment, not just through slight shifts in temperature but the real economic impacts, as well as the fact that climate change has a real effect on species and our culture as well. Despite that, we obviously have very little agreement on how to move forward.

I think all of us can agree that we are very proud of the fact that Canada has always had a stellar reputation in the world as a leader in human rights and on environmental issues. Therefore, it is with a great deal of sadness today that I will read a quote that has damaged our standing in the world community.

Last week we saw some of the media coverage when the ambassador for South Africa spoke up about our role in Durban and how nervous they were that Canada could sabotage the talks going on in Durban, which are so crucial not only for our generation but for all our generations to come.

Over the last week we have been taken to task not by one nation but many nations for the lack of leadership that we have showed.

South African leaders, including Desmond Tutu, along with several African environmental groups, released a letter last week criticizing the government. It stated:

Canada, you were once considered a leader on global issues like human rights and environmental protection. Today, you’re home to polluting tar sands oil, speeding the dangerous effects of climate change.

For us in Africa, climate change is a life and death issue. By dramatically increasing Canada’s global warming pollution, tar sands mining and drilling makes the problem worse, and exposes million of Africans to more devastating drought and famine today and in the years to come.

That is a very sad legacy and sad comments for our young people to read. I received an email from a student in my riding who talked about the lack of leadership being taken by Canada at the conference in Durban and expressing concern that we as parliamentarians were not doing enough to protect the world, the planet, for them. We really do need to sit up and start paying attention.

Often we understand economic arguments even when we fail to understand the survival of our planet. For those members who understand economic arguments, I will put forward some facts.

In Quebec, insurance payouts for claims mainly related to flash storms, sewer back-ups and basement flooding in 2005-06 represented a 25% jump in water-related payouts as a percentage of the overall payouts from the 2001 to 2002 levels. These were related to climate change. What we have seen is a one metre sea level rise that could inundate more than 15,000 hectares of industrial and residential land. That is more than 4,600 hectares of farmland and the Vancouver International Airport.

When we look at these arguments, it becomes imperative for us to make commitments now and commitments we can actually live up to.

I have heard this question in the media, as well in the House today. How can we make firm commitments when others do not? We keep using the fact that the U.S., one of the largest polluters, and China have not signed on to Kyoto, so therefore our not living up to Kyoto is not a big deal.

If we were to apply that same kind of logic to everything else we do, then Canada would be frozen into inaction. We would be immobile. We did not wait for everyone in the world to be in agreement before we sent our troops into Libya. We do not wait until every country honours human rights for us to fight for human rights around the world. We are not waiting until every country becomes a democracy to then say now we are going to promote and push for democracy.

Canada is a leader on the world stage. As a leader on the world stage, this is our opportunity, our chance to be a leader and show that we really do care about the environment, the future economy and the future of this planet, not just for ourselves but for our children and grandchildren.

Climate change is not just going to happen in one area of the world. We are already beginning to experience the impacts of climate change. All of us have experienced the erratic weather recently and maybe the lack of snow in some areas and the massive amounts of snow in other areas. All of us know this is a direct result of what we have done to the environment over the years. Climate change does not respect international borders drawn by man.

We cannot say that because some countries have been taking these kinds of actions, therefore climate change is not going to occur in that part of the world. We have to take a leadership role, show that we mean business and that we are still a player on the international stage when it comes to being advocates for the environment.

Historically, the government has killed climate accountability measures before such as the accountability act that was introduced by our past leader, Jack Layton, but it is not too late today to still make those commitments. The costs, both human and economic, of not paying attention today are too high. David Suzuki does a wonderful experiment by which he shows how lack of action, even for a small period, can lead to an acceleration, which is way beyond our imagination, of the damage we are doing to our planet.

Together it is the responsibility of parliamentarians on both sides of the House to work together to prevent financial, social and environmental costs by working with all nations, not by isolating them, and leading by example. We have done that before and we need to do it again. Not only that, but we need to look at our own actions.

I would like to read into the record a letter written to me by a grade 11 student that I received today. She says, “I'm writing to you as someone concerned about ecological harm the oil sands in Alberta are causing. As a result, I would like to see something done to protect our environment. Oil sands production requires a very large amount of water”. She ends by saying, “However, animals aren't the only ones suffering, as other 30 different first nations groups live in the oil sands region”.

She is appealing to us. I wish I could read the whole letter into the record to show that this grade 11 student did her research and wrote a very detailed letter as to why we needed to play a critical role and be a world leader, not a fossil once again when it comes to the environment.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to enter into this debate with a question for the hon. member.

The hon. member may know that Canada has recommitted $1.2 billion toward a global adaptation fund, something I am very proud of, but there is something else this government has done. It amazes me that the member quoted things that, frankly, take a shot at her own country. I cannot understand that. It takes a shot at Canadians, the Canadian economy and Canadian workers.

We are moving to regulate, in absolute terms, the emissions of this country for a reduction of 17% by 2020. That is a target that has been matched by the United States. Perhaps she can name another government, other than this one, that has managed an absolute reduction in greenhouse gases. Maybe that is what she should be saying to international partners and asking what they are doing, because Canada is acting, is reducing emissions in absolute terms, and we are going to continue to do that all the way to 2020.

Does she say that when she speaks with international partners or does she down talk people who work in the energy sector in this country who need those jobs?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for the question that I believe was in there somewhere.

Every time somebody has a different point of view, the government tries to paint the person as being anti-Canadian. Let me tell the member that Canada is a democracy and in this democracy people are allowed to debate different points of view. We celebrate the fact that we have those different points of view. It is not a surprise to Canadians that through the media they are seeing that in the first two days of the Durban conference Canada received three fossil awards.

Miners and archeologists celebrate when they find fossils, but when we look at our role in the environmental sector, that is not something to celebrate. Yet, my colleagues across the aisle last week cheered when it was mentioned they had won the fossil award again. That is nothing to be proud of. It does not make me feel proud to be a Canadian. If being a Canadian means having to damage the environment, then I am a Canadian who wants to protect the environment.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has to understand it cannot solve the world's most pressing environmental issues simply by throwing money at it. It requires leadership at home and internationally.

I would like to thank the hon. member for pointing out that climate change in Africa is a life and death situation. In terms of malaria, it affects 300 million people. We know with climate change that range will increase. It affects pregnant women and kills an African child every 30 seconds. Pregnant women are more susceptible to malaria infection. It increases their risk of illness, severe anemia and death. Maternal malaria increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, premature deliveries, stillbirth and low birth weight, a leading cause of child mortality.

Our government focuses on maternal and child health and we have an opportunity to help prevent malaria and save lives through taking action on climate change.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, people are often judged both nationally and internationally by how they behave and by their actions toward the most vulnerable in our society. However, we are talking about something that impacts everybody. Having millions of dollars in the bank is not going to protect people from environmental harm that results from climate change.

Let me put on the record an excerpt from a report. The 2010 annual climate change performance index indicated that Canada finished in 54th place out of 57 countries that were evaluated, 54th out of 57, with only Australia, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia faring worse than Canada. That is not a record that the government should feel proud of. We have a lot to do, so let us get on with it, protect our environment, make commitments to firm numbers, and invest in green economies not by re-introducing or re-announcing the same money over and over again. Let us see what can be done with new projects.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, climate change represents a very serious global threat to our environment, our economy and our lives. While employment and the environment are important priorities for Canadian families, the Conservative government continues to ignore the wishes of the people and is showing, once again, that it is completely out of touch with reality.

Climate change is having an impact on Canada. A September 2011 report released by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy estimates that climate change could cost Canada up to $5 billion a year by 2020 and between $21 billion and $43 billion a year by 2050. In addition, the average temperature in Canada has gone up 1.3oC since 1948. A sea level rise of one metre could cause over 15,000 hectares of industrial and residential land to flood, along with over 4,600 hectares of farm land and the Vancouver International Airport.

Insurance payouts in Quebec for claims related to sudden storms and flooded basements in 2005 and 2006 represented a 25% increase in water-related payouts in Quebec compared to 2001 and 2002. All of these facts cannot be ignored. We must take action on the environment. Every action counts and can make a difference. We must work together.

The NDP's vision is a Canada that invests in future generations and in clean jobs, and that assumes international leadership in the fight against climate change and the establishment of a new energy economy.

We must think of future generations—I am thinking of my young son—and it starts today. Our children have the right to hope for an incredible future and quality of life and this will depend on the choices we make on a daily basis about the environment.

A number of environmental disasters clearly show that the climate is warming and that we must take action now. Instead, the government is trying to sabotage the Kyoto protocol. Climate change has consequences for the health and safety of people, animals, forests, farms and water supplies. That is why it is important to take concrete action to stop it.

As is the case in other parts of the world, Quebec has entered the era of climate change. Every Quebec region is facing extreme weather events. For example, in spring 2011, there was flooding along the Richelieu River caused by record snowfall in the Lake Champlain basin, and the wet spring in Montérégie was responsible for historic floods in spring 2011. This natural catastrophe affected more than 3,000 households in Montérégie and people are still feeling its effects. For two consecutive years, during the winters of 2010 and 2011, the ice failed to form in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This affected a number of economic and tourism activities.

These are two examples of the effects of climate change on our immediate environment. But we all know that disasters are occurring at an astounding rate throughout the world. It is now December and it is raining. It is wrong to believe that we cannot make a difference regarding the environment and global warming, and it is even worse to ignore the alarm bells.

My colleagues and I want to be leaders in the international fight against climate change and in ensuring that Canadian jobs will not disappear.

The NDP's main priorities for the next international climate change agreement are: a fair, ambitious and binding agreement; adequate financial resources for the green fund as of 2013; the reduction of the “gigatonne gap” between the promised emission reductions and the measures actually taken; and the elimination of the gap between the legally binding commitments.

The government's lack of action with regard to climate change is tarnishing Canada's international reputation.

The NDP supports demands for a new, fair, ambitious and binding agreement on climate change to succeed the Kyoto protocol.

Developed countries must do their fair share by reducing their emissions in a way that reflects their existing and historic responsibilities with regard to global emissions.

The current targets that countries have adopted under the Copenhagen accord will not reduce emissions enough to limit the increase in average global temperature to 2°C above the pre-industrial level. Reducing this gap and preventing dangerous climate change will require all countries, including Canada, to implement ambitious measures.

Canada must make a second round of commitments in the Kyoto protocol's second commitment period or as part of an alternative agreement, should countries decide to abandon the Kyoto protocol.

A healthy planet is the most valuable gift in the world. It is a gift that we can give future generations.

I think about my little boy. When I was young, there was a lot of snow everywhere. Now, that does not happen very often, and it worries me a lot. Animals are disappearing. Climate change is damaging the planet. We must work together. We are young. We have new ideas. We must share our ideas and find solutions.

I am asking the members opposite—who are not listening to me—to work with us. We have solutions.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

December 5th, 2011 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently and I want to thank the member for her comments on this very important issue.

She said she wants action. Of course, she is seeing action. Does she disagree with the action that the government has taken, specifically in regard to asking all major emitters to sign on to a new international agreement that will truly reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

With the NDP bill in the last Parliament, Bill C-469, it did not want to have the major emitters participating in a new international agreement. Has the NDP position changed now or did it want to continue on with only 27% of greenhouse gas emissions--

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

An hon. member

Question, question. Order. Question.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

May I continue? Thank you.

The question is, does the member prefer the 27% of global greenhouse gas emissions or 85%?

Second question, does she support the carbon tax that her party supports?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are in favour of a carbon tax, but I personally think we must also work with other countries. We must be at the table and discuss the problems. We must not abandon the Kyoto protocol. We must work together. We are talking about the future of our children and our children's children. It is important to me and to our party to be at the forefront and to take a leadership role. That is what we are doing.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find it a little bit strange that the member opposite seems to be claiming that Canada is showing leadership in another direction other than Kyoto. I would like to ask my hon. colleague, does she think Canada is really trying to do something significant as an alternative to Kyoto, if it is receiving these fossil awards at the conference in Durban, and would the international community agree with that assessment?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question.

I find that the three fossil awards Canada has received are proof that we are not at the forefront and that the government's plan is inadequate. We are being ridiculed around the world and in the media. We have to take the lead. We have to assume a leadership role. We have to work together. I hope the Green Party is listening to us.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the hon. member's speech, I heard her talk about her son quite a bit. In fact, through her son, she probably has access to the younger generation, to her son's friends and classmates. In her opinion, are young children worried about what is happening right now in terms of climate change? How do they view all this? How does the younger generation see it?