Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act

An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Pablo Rodriguez  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

The purpose of this enactment is to ensure that Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. It requires the Minister of the Environment to establish an annual Climate Change Plan and to make regulations respecting climate change. It also requires the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy to advise the Minister — to the extent that it is within its purpose — on the effectiveness of the plans, and requires the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to submit to the Speaker of the House of Commons a report of the progress in the implementation of the plans.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Feb. 14, 2007 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Feb. 14, 2007 Passed That Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, as amended, be concurred in at report stage with further amendments.
Feb. 14, 2007 Passed That Bill C-288, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing, in the French version, lines 4 and 5 on page 9 with the following: “de la Chambre des communes, lesquels les déposent devant leur chambre respective”
Feb. 14, 2007 Passed That Bill C-288, in Clause 10, be amended: (a) by replacing, in the French version, line 30 on page 8 with the following: “(i) sur la probabilité que chacun des règle-” (b) by replacing, in the French version, line 34 on page 8 with the following: “(ii) sur la probabilité que l'ensemble des” (c) by replacing, in the French version, line 39 on page 8 with the following: “(iii) sur toute autre question qu'elle estime”
Feb. 14, 2007 Passed That Bill C-288, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing, in the English version, line 11 on page 4 with the following: “(iii.1) a just”
Oct. 4, 2006 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Federal Sustainable Development ActPrivate Members' Business

November 29th, 2010 / 11:20 a.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to Bill S-210, which we will naturally support, along with all the other parties in this House. This essentially administrative bill was presented in the Senate on April 30, 2010, and it would amend two acts: the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General Act. It would ensure that when the environment commissioner provides a report on the progress of sustainable development, this report is tabled in both the House of Commons and the Senate. That is the first amendment.

The second amendment would give the environment commissioner more latitude to decide when it is necessary to table reports on sustainable development. The Federal Sustainable Development Act, which is in its infant stages, since it was just recently passed, was the result of a bill introduced by one of our former colleagues, John Godfrey. He thought it was very important for Canada, and more specifically the federal government, to have a sustainable development strategy. I will come back to this shortly.

Mr. Godfrey worked with all of the parties to ensure that Bill C-474 would be passed. The Bloc Québécois did not like the bill in its original form because it proposed only a national sustainable development strategy. In addition, this bill interfered significantly in the provinces' areas of jurisdiction, such as agriculture and recycling. It was a national, coast-to-coast strategy that would not have produced results at the end of the day.

Following talks, the parties have decided that it is important for Canada to have a federal sustainable development strategy that falls within its own areas of jurisdiction. Thus, Canada will be able to meet the Rio targets and truly put in place a sustainable development plan using resources that already exist in its various departments. This strategy would also aim to increase greening of public services and provide Canada with the means to reach its international environmental goals.

That is how Bill S-210 was introduced. It will ensure that the commissioner has more flexibility in reaching the set targets. We need greater accountability and the environment commissioner must be able to report more frequently. Over the past weeks and months, we have come to realize that the environmental strategy presented by the federal government in order to comply with Bill C-474 contained targets that were vague, weak and insufficient.

Clearly, the government was just paying lip service to the ideas of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting ecosystems and oceanographic resources. We need a transparent sustainable development strategy with clear goals. However, that is what was missing from the strategy that has been developed.

The commissioner will be responsible for assessing whether the government has met those targets. The targets are inadequate, so, naturally, the commissioner will have a hard time in the coming years figuring out whether Canada is keeping the promises made to Parliament.

We need more transparency, more accountability and greater responsibility to ensure that the government is reaching its international targets. That is almost certainly what Parliament has been lacking these past 10 or 14 years. The government was unable to achieve its environmental targets at the international level because there was no oversight and no accountability with respect to Canada's commitments.

The best example of this is the fight against climate change. Since 1997, successive governments have introduced greenhouse gas reduction plans that were supposed to be in line with Canada's greenhouse gas reduction targets. But we are a long way from reaching those targets.

In 1997, Canada promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. Where do we stand now? Our greenhouse gas emissions have risen by more than 25%.

Why have we failed to reach our targets? One of the main reasons is that there have been no progress reports. There has been no way to determine whether the measures, plans, policies and programs implemented are taking us in the right direction. The government can set greenhouse gas reduction targets, but without the right plans, policies and programs in place, those targets will not be achieved. The environment commissioner needs more power to present more frequent reports. That is one of the goals of this bill.

We have already given the environment commissioner a greater role. A few years ago, the Liberal Party's Bill C-288 gave the environment commissioner more power with respect to accountability for reduction targets.

We support this bill. We believe that the environment commissioner must play a greater role in efforts to reach the targets set by Canada and the federal government by focusing on three basic objectives: transparency, accountability and responsibility.

Federal Sustainable Development ActPrivate Members' Business

June 16th, 2010 / 7:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to Bill S-210. It is a bill, as we were saying earlier, that originated in the Senate, was introduced in the Senate, and is today being studied in this House.

This bill is quite simple. It amends two acts, the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General Act. It makes two amendments, including one that simply would have the commissioner table reports not only in the House of Commons but also in the Senate. That is the first amendment in the bill we are studying today.

The second amendment would give the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development the possibility of tabling reports more than once a year on the progress made by the government in matters of the environment and sustainable development.

We will support this bill. Why? Because these amendments are quite simple. This is part of what we might call a new environmental governance that leaves more room for independence and assessment. Why? Because Canada has given itself a number of tools and instruments in the past few years.

For example, Canada now has environmental indicators it can use to assess the government's progress in a number of sectors from water to forestry. These tools are available to us.

We have to ensure that there is more accountability and more independent auditing, and that the commissioner can play an increasingly significant role.

I remember when a sustainable development bill was passed a few years ago. It was a Liberal member, John Godfrey, who introduced the initiative. He received the support of all political parties, with a few amendments of course. Why? Because it was high time we responded to all of the big international summits, all of the Earth summits from Johannesburg to Rio, by coming up with a sustainable development strategy.

However, a few months ago, after the government decided to respond to the passing of the bill, we realized that it had introduced its own sustainable development strategy. A close look at that strategy reveals that it contains no quantitative or numerical targets that would make it possible to really assess the government's progress. It does contain targets, but they are not clear and quantitative targets. They are just qualitative targets.

We have to give the auditor more tools to assess sustainable development progress.

This is not the first time we have wanted the Commissioner of the Environment to pay a larger part in various laws. Among others, I am thinking of Bill C-288, which was introduced by the member for Honoré-Mercier. That was a bill to implement the Kyoto accord and to get the Commissioner of the Environment involved. There was also Bill C-311, the climate change bill, which was a response given at the end of the Kyoto accord and an attempt to follow up on it.

Once again, parliamentarians tried to give the commissioner more tools to assess the government's progress.

This is important, because the Commissioner of the Environment has already looked at how the government carries out and applies its sustainable development policy.

I remember a report from the Commissioner of the Environment, when the government was examining the application of the strategic environmental assessment as part of its sustainable development policy. There is a directive from the Prime Minister's Office, dating back to 1994, which requires all departments to carry out impact assessments. Those are what we refer to as strategic environmental assessments.

These ensure that all departments' three Ps—policies, plans and programs—are consistent with sustainable development. Each policy, plan and program must be assessed by the department, looking not only at sustainable development, but also at environmental protection and social development.

What did the Commissioner of the Environment observe a few years ago? I remember the title of one of the chapters from the commissioner's report. It had to do with assessing the application of sustainable development within the Department of Finance. Talking about strategic environmental assessments, the commissioner at the time, Johanne Gélinas, titled the chapter, “Greening the tax system: Finance Canada dragging its feet”. If there is one fundamental department within a government, it is the finance department. And the tabling of the budget is a crucial time for parliamentarians, because the budget makes it possible to guide policies and utilize the tax system to bring about social and environmental governance.

What the commissioner basically indicated was that the Department of Finance was not applying the strategic environmental assessment to its policies, programs and plans. What are the consequences? The Canadian government tells us that it is important to protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, at the same time, the finance minister provides tax breaks to the oil industry. On the one hand, the government says we must protect the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change but, on the other, it uses an available tool, taxation, to give breaks such as depreciation deductions to an industry that is a major contributor to increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Had the Department of Finance respected the 1994 directive from the Prime Minister's Office requiring the Department of Finance to conduct an environmental assessment of its policies, governance would probably be quite different.

That is why we have to give the Commissioner of the Environment a bigger role to play. We have to make sure that we really get independent audits, independent being the operative word because that is what will be used to guide all sectors in Canadian and Quebec society. I am talking about independent audits, but also independence for the media and scientists. The point is that we have to make sure policy is not influenced by vested interests.

That is why we have to amend the Sustainable Development Act to give the commissioner more powers, and at the same time, the government has to be aware that when the so-called environmental watchdog sends out clear messages and strongly recommends that the government do something different, the government has to listen. The more reports the Commissioner of the Environment produces, the better governance will be, as long as this government decides to listen to independent advice and respect the people's wishes to build a sustainable society for the future.

Bill C-469--Royal Recommendation RequirementPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

June 10th, 2010 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to reply to the arguments made May 6, 2010 by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons regarding my private member's bill, Bill C-469, An Act to establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights.

The parliamentary secretary argued that the bill requires a royal recommendation because it would require new spending on the following basis: one, that part 2 authorizes environmental protection actions against the government by enabling Canadians to seek recourse in the Federal Court to protect the environment in relation to any action or inaction by the government which has resulted in significant harm; and two, that part 4 authorizes the Auditor General to review new regulations and bills to ensure consistency with Bill C-469 and to report any inconsistencies to the House of Commons.

I wish first to respond to the argument put forth that part 2, clause 19 of the bill, “would create potential legal liabilities for the government by adding the power to the Federal Court to order the government to pay for the restoration or rehabilitation of the part of the environment, and the power to order the government to pay for the enhancement or protection of the environment generally” and the argument that “clause 19 would result in a potential increase in the government's legal liability since payments resulting from decisions of the Federal Court would be made from the consolidated revenue fund”.

First, Bill C-469 merely establishes standing to bring an environmental protection action against the government. The enactment of this provision would create no immediate or automatic liability on the federal government. In point of fact the overall intent of the law is to encourage action by the federal government to assert its existing jurisdiction and legislated powers to protect the environment in the interests of current and future generations of Canadians.

The bill's purpose is to ensure greater transparency and participation in environmental decision making. The intent is to make the government accountable for the actions it takes or fails to take to protect the environment in the interests of Canadians.

If those broad rights and powers are asserted, then no action would likely be precipitated. Further, if the federal government's powers to protect the environment are exercised with due diligence, then a successful court action against the crown is unlikely. As a consequence, no new liability would arise.

In making his case, the parliamentary secretary referred to, for example, the Senate Speaker's ruling on May 5, 2009, at pages 739 to 740 of the Senate Debates, that Bill S-219, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, required a royal recommendation because it would increase the Crown's liability under the Canada Student Loans Act by expanding the range of conditions under which government would have to make good its guarantee of loans under that act.

However, the Senate Speaker in his ruling then went on to quote from the 23rd edition of Erskine May to distinguish those cases that would and would not require a royal recommendation:

While page 888 does state that the Royal Recommendation may not be required if the “liability arises as an incidental consequence of a proposal to apply or modify the general law,” this does not save Bill S-219, since the changes proposed to the student loans regime are not merely incidental to the bill, but its primary purpose.

Based on this analysis, it is submitted, contrary to what the parliamentary secretary has asserted, Bill C-469, which merely provides standing to a defined class of potential litigants to consider seeking a court order would not require royal recommendation. No immediate spending or liability arises from part 2. Any potential liability would arise only as an incidental consequence of an action actually being filed proving failure by the government to fulfill its duties as trustee of the environment, to enforce an environmental law or for violating the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment.

Further, the litigant must provide proof of actual or potential significant harm to even file the action. The imposition of new spending by the government is not at all the primary purpose of the bill. No immediate liability arises with the enactment of the bill and most certainly not as a result of part 2.

It may also be noted that Erskine May, 23rd edition at page 888 clearly provides that “Liability on the Crown or local authorities to pay costs, compensation or damages does not require a money resolution if such a liability arises as an incidental consequence of a proposal to apply or modify the general law”.

It is further specified that in the case of widening the jurisdiction of a court, a money resolution is not required even though the proposal may have the incidental consequence of increasing the costs of administration of justice.

The parliamentary secretary referred to the Speaker's ruling on June 12, 1973, that Bill S-5, an Act to amend the Farm Improvement Loans Act required a royal recommendation because it proposed substantial additional liabilities on public moneys.

However, this ruling was subsequently considered by the Speaker on February 12, 1998, on page 3766 in considering Bill S-4, an Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, who held that there was already statutory authority under the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act to make the payments that Bill S-4 outlined.

It may be noted that many federal environmental laws, including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, already provide that the Crown is bound. According to Erskine May, 21st Edition at page 717, “No further authorization is required for an expenditure covered by an existing statutory authority, including liability to pay damages covered by existing law”.

By way of example, crown agencies such as the Department of Public Works and the Department of Defence have been held by the courts to be liable to pay damages where they have failed to take appropriate actions to comply with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Further, the provisions in Bill C-469, related to proceedings against the federal Crown, are consistent with the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, chapter C-5, section 33. Section 3 clearly provides that the Crown is liable for damages for torts committed by a servant of the Crown.

It may be noted that John Mark Keyes in his article, “When Bills and Amendments Require the Royal Recommendation: A Discussion Paper and Guidelines”, Canadian Parliamentary Review, volume 20, number 4, winter 1997-98 at page 8 cites Erskine May, 21st edition, page 717, on cases were a royal recommendation is not needed as including, “Widening the jurisdiction of a court or creating offences although they may have the effect of increasing the costs of the administration of justice”.

Further, any potential liabilities under part 2 of the bill are highly speculative and that they would be substantial is even more so speculative.

For example, government might first avoid a court action or settle such an action if filed by diligently exercising its powers or duties to undertake an environmental assessment or to complete an action plan for a threatened species within the statutorily prescribed timeline or by passing new regulations, or by a myriad of other measures.

Even if an action under Bill C-469 has its day in court, the court is provided a wide range of remedies, including directing the government to implement measures previously announced and budgeted for, or otherwise prescribed by another law. Thus any court-ordered payments under section 19 of the bill are highly speculative and could only occur after the government has made decisions to not avoid or remedy the problem by any other means.

The Speaker similarly rejected such speculation in multiple rulings on September 27, 2006, page 3314; on February 8, 2007, page 6548; and again on February 14, 2007, page 6816. The Speaker found that Bill C-288, the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act did not require a royal recommendation.

The parliamentary secretary's second argument was based on part 4 of the bill. Section 26 requires the Auditor General to examine proposed regulations and bills for consistency with Bill C-469 and to report any inconsistency to the House. It was the parliamentary secretary's assertion that this role differs significantly from the current duties of the Auditor General under section 5 of the Auditor General Act and would require new government spending.

This section requires the Auditor General, in accordance with such regulations as the governor in council may choose to make, to review any new regulations or bills to ensure consistency with the purposes and provisions of Bill C-469, and to report such findings to the House of Commons.

Let us first consider the mandate of the Auditor General as prescribed in the Auditor General Act. The act also establishes the Office of the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development. Section 21.1 prescribes a broad mandate to the commissioner to provide sustainable development monitoring and reporting including on matters reiterated in the preamble of Bill C-469, inclusive of integrating environment and the economy, protecting ecosystems, and respect for the health of Canadians and the needs of future generations.

Section 23 of that act requires the commissioner to make examinations and inquiries considered necessary to monitor the extent to which specified departments have contributed to meeting sustainable development targets and report to the House actions including exercising the authority of the governor in council. Part of that authority includes the promulgation of regulations, and review and authorization of proposed laws.

The Auditor General Act also requires that the commissioner, on behalf of the Auditor General, report annually to the House of Commons on the progress of the federal government in implementing the federal sustainable development strategy and meeting its targets, which would include consideration of new statutes and regulations.

Thus, Bill C-469 would not create a substantially new or radically different mandate than that already prescribed for the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainable Development within the Office of the Auditor General, as provided in the Auditor General Act.

I further submit that section 26 of Bill C-469 is very similar to that considered in the Speaker's ruling on February 8, 2007, at page 6548 on Bill C-288, Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. The Speaker in that instance held that the bill did not require a royal recommendation as the new responsibilities placed on the national round table on the environment and the economy by that bill did not meet the test, to quote the Speaker's words, of “whether some entirely new activity or function is being proposed which radically diverges from the activities already authorized in existing legislation”.

It may be noted that in the same ruling, the Speaker also provided, “Now it might be argued that this would increase the workload of the national round table, but even if this were so, an increase to its budget would be sought through existing appropriation arrangements”.

As the Speaker has clearly ruled, it is important to distinguish between an effect of a bill potentially increasing the workload of a department or agency and an effect of establishing distinctly new activity or function. It is my humble submission that the same logic and same conclusion would apply to part 4 of Bill C-469 regarding the role specified for the Office of the Auditor General.

The parliamentary secretary referred to the Speaker's February 11, 2008, ruling on Bill C-474, Federal Sustainable Development Act; however, in that case, Bill C-474, at first reading, originally proposed repealing the sections in the Auditor General Act concerning the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and creating a new independent commissioner appointed by the governor in council who would not only assess federal progress on sustainable development but also provincial progress.

At committee stage, Bill C-474 was amended to rely on the existing position of the commissioner established under the Auditor General Act and to add the monitoring and reporting duties on federal progress toward sustainable development granted to the commissioner under that act. The Speaker on June 10, 2008, at page 6819, held that the amended bill no longer needed a royal recommendation. It is that amended Bill C-474 that is analogous to Bill C-469.

Finally, in closing, as a private member's bill can proceed through second reading and committee stage regardless of whether it requires a royal recommendation, in whole or in part, recognizing it may potentially be amended in committee or at report stage, a ruling from the Speaker would be most welcomed in advance of the vote at second reading and referral to the committee. This will inform the committee members whether any amendments may be necessary to be considered to avoid any potential need for a royal recommendation and thus maintain the possibility of a third reading vote.

Canadian Environmental Bill of RightsPrivate Members' Business

May 6th, 2010 / 6:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in today's debate, which is very important—fundamental even. I would like to thank the member for Edmonton—Strathcona for having introduced Bill C-469.

First of all, we support the underlying principle of the bill. We need to thank and congratulate a number of civil society groups, such as Ecojustice, which the Bloc Québécois leader and I met with over a year ago. The group helped us understand how important it is to have a Canadian environmental bill of rights.

We wholeheartedly support the five principles stated in this bill because we need to make fundamental changes to what I would call governance. We need to move toward a new form of environmental governance. Bill C-469 clearly moves us toward that goal because it incorporates the precautionary principle. This principle was developed in 1972 as part of the Stockholm convention, and it took root in 1992 at the Rio summit. This principle is fundamental. Lacking scientific certainty in various fields of human activity, we must act according to the precautionary principle.

This issue has been incorporated into some legislation. We would like to see it included in even more laws. Several environmental laws include the precautionary principle in their preamble, but we would like to see it in the laws themselves. That would force departments to make decisions about issues such as genetically modified organisms, for example. The precautionary principle is therefore fundamental.

The polluter pays principle triggers an important debate about what I call a green tax system. We have to ensure that every dollar spent is invested in renewable economies. That is not what Canada has done in the past. Since 1970, over $60 billion has been spent on tax breaks for the oil industry, while renewable energy has received just a few hundred million. We need changes to taxation in Canada; we need a green tax system.

If we undertake this change, we would respect the second principle in this bill, which is the polluter pays principle, and encourage true sustainable development. We have some tools at our disposition. For one, we have the strategic environmental assessment, which was passed in the early 1990s and which is a directive in the Prime Minister's Office. In theory, it forces each department to evaluate its plans, policies and programs to ensure that more than just economic issues are taken into consideration. Social and environmental aspects must be considered as well.

The third main principle in the bill is intergenerational equity. How can we guarantee that the resources we use today will also be available for future generations? We cannot make decisions based on a short-term outlook. We have to look at each decision and ensure that it will allow us to ensure a future, and better intergenerational equity as well as environmental justice.

We agree with part 1 of the bill, which says that every citizen has a right to a healthy environment. That is obvious. It is the right to life. It is the right to live in an environment where the air and water are of the highest quality so as to ensure human survival.

This is a fundamental right in part 1 of the bill.

Second, we agree with the principle in part 2 of the bill, which would put in place various mechanisms allowing for legal and civil action against the federal government and entities under its exclusive jurisdiction. I want to emphasize that. We support this bill because we believe that it and the bills of rights would apply to areas under federal jurisdiction. That is one of the reasons we are supporting this bill.

The third principle is the protection of employees. Mechanisms to protect employees are clearly set out in part 3 of this bill, and they are important. Why? Because scientists who become aware of a situation have to be able to tell the public about it when it poses a threat to humankind or the environment. Europe and especially France have what are known as “whistleblowers”. These people, who are sometimes ordinary citizens but more often scientists who work in government and become aware of something that could have a negative impact on the environment and humankind, decide to speak out publicly. We have to ensure that these scientists and ordinary citizens are not fired the next day, because in becoming aware of a situation they would run afoul of a government approach or ideological policy. So scientists are protected. I would hope that part 3 also protects these whistleblowers so that the public can find out about the real state of our environment.

Part 4 of the bill ensures greater independence by subjecting the government's messages and policies to analysis by independent parties. The Auditor General has a greater role to play. We have seen this in three bills: first, Bill C-288 on the application of the Kyoto protocol; second, Bill C-311 which aimed at following through on the Kyoto protocol; and finally, the sustainable development strategy that was adopted and that gives the Auditor General a clear mandate to independently analyze and verify the government's policies.

This is important because this independence is not always a given. We saw this with the instructions given to scientists. As we saw, scientists were not necessarily allowed to speak up. So this is about allowing independence. In a new environmental governance, independence is important. The media, businesses and scientists must all be independent in order to really engage in this new approach towards a real vision of sustainable development and to give scientists a chance.

I am thinking of GMOs in particular. Over the past several years, successive governments have refused to ask the Royal Society of Canada, an association of Canada's best and most eminent scientists, to assess the impact of GMOs on health and the environment. A government that valued independent thought and allowed scientists to do their work would have referred the GMO issue to the Royal Society of Canada for a truly independent analysis.

I will close with a brief quote from Albert Jacquard's latest book, entitled Le compte à rebours a-t-il commencé?, or “Has the countdown begun?”

For ages, humans have lived as though their time would never run out, as though progress would never cease to make the world a better place for us, as though humans would always grow richer, more beautiful and more capable, as though we could create an infinite number of nuclear bombs without ever having to use them, as though we had the right to plunder the planet's riches at will without ever making a dent in an endless supply. Those days are past. We now know that our time is running out and that if we continue to work against ourselves, we may well create a planet on which none of us want to live.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations ActPrivate Members' Business

May 4th, 2010 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons on December 10, concerning the requirement for a royal recommendation for Bill C-471, An Act respecting the implementation of the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force and amending another Act in consequence, standing in the name of the Hon. Leader of the Opposition.

I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for having raised this issue, as well as the member for Vancouver Centre for her comments. In his intervention, the parliamentary secretary noted that Bill C-471 proposes to do two things. First, it imposes a duty on the government to implement the recommendations of the 2004 pay equity task force report. Second, it repeals the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, or PSECA. The parliamentary secretary dealt with each of these proposals in some detail as, in his view, each of them infringes on the financial prerogative of the Crown.

He began by noting that the first recommendation of the pay equity task force report concerns the need for legislation. That recommendation reads:

The Task Force recommends that Parliament enact new stand-alone, proactive pay equity legislation in order that Canada can more effectively meet its international obligations and domestic commitments, and that such legislation be characterized as human rights legislation.

The remaining 112 recommendations in the report, he pointed out, describe the measures that should be included in that legislation. The recommendations taken overall seek to establish a new regime for the oversight of the pay equity process and the adjudication of pay equity complaints. Among these recommendations, several call for the establishment of pay equity oversight agencies. He referred to the fact that clause 2 of Bill C-471 states:

The Government of Canada shall ensure that all statutory oversight agencies are put in place no later than January 1, 2011 and that all the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force are implemented no later than January 1, 2012.

The parliamentary secretary raised two concerns with respect to the requirement to implement the recommendations. He felt that the bill imposes a requirement on the government that can only be met by the passage of legislation, a requirement which seemed to bind Parliament to passing that legislation. In his view, such a requirement was both impossible for the government to carry out and unconstitutional.

As well, he noted that the establishment of new agencies clearly requires the expenditure of public funds and therefore requires a royal recommendation. The parliamentary secretary then turned to clause 3 of the bill, which repeals the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act and related provisions from the Budget Implementation Act, 2009.

As he saw it, two effects would follow from repealing the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. First, a new purpose would be given to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. They would now be given jurisdiction for public sector pay equity complaints. Further, as the liability arising from the statutory grounds of complaint under the Canada Human Rights Act differ from those under the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, the Crown, as employer, would be faced with potential expenses not currently provided for. The parliamentary secretary explained the difference between the liability schemes in some detail, which I will not repeat here. He also made reference to a number of Speakers’ rulings from both this House and the other place, in which the need for a royal recommendation to accompany new or increased liability of the Crown is clearly illustrated.

The member for Vancouver Centre pointed out that the repeal of the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act does not constitute a new legislative regime. Rather, in her view, it leaves the currently existing legislation in place. Second, she claimed that the requirement to establish a framework is not the same as the actual implementation of the framework.

As the House has no doubt gathered from this brief summary, the issues confronting the Chair in this case are complex. I would like to begin by reminding honourable members that the Chair is obliged to confine itself to dealing with the procedural aspects of the question. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, 2nd edition, p. 261 states:

... it is not up to the Speaker to rule on the “constitutionality” or “legality” of measures before the House.

The procedural issue which faces the Chair relates to the possible requirement for a royal recommendation.

There are three distinct elements in the bill. The first relates to the introduction of legislation to implement the recommendations of the pay equity task force, including the setting up of two statutory oversight agencies. The second element is the repeal of the PSECA, from which flows the third element, that of the repeal of the consequential provision stimulated at sections 395 to 405 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2009.

With respect to the implementation of the pay equity task force recommendations, it was indicated by the parliamentary secretary that such provisions would, in all likelihood, require a royal recommendation. Those provisions, however, are not part of Bill C-471, but of some future bill not yet before the House. It is my view that this aspect of Bill C-471 is similar to Bill C-288, Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, from the last Parliament, despite the arguments to the contrary advanced by the parliamentary secretary.

I remind the House of the ruling given on September 27, 2006, where the Chair stated at page 3315 of Debates:

As it stands, Bill C-288 does not contain provisions which specifically authorize any spending for a distinct purpose relating to the Kyoto protocol. Rather, the bill seeks the approval of Parliament for the government to implement the protocol. If such approval is given, then the government would decide on the measures it wished to take. This might involve an appropriation bill or another bill proposing specific spending, either of which would require a royal recommendation.

Bill C-471 implements no recommendations and establishes no agency. It simply requires that the government bring forth legislation and thus it is difficult to see how these provisions could be construed as requiring the expenditure of public funds.

The second main objective of Bill C-471 is the repeal the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, enacted by section 394 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2009 and the repeal of the transitional and consequential amendments stemming from the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act and stipulated in sections 395 to 405 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2009.

While it may impact the operations of government, the repeal of a statute does not normally require a royal recommendation. The parliamentary secretary contended that repealing this act and the related sections of the Budget Implementation Act, 2009 would have the practical effect of assigning a new mandate to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

If Bill C-471 were adopted, the situation with respect to oversight of the pay equity process and the hearing of pay equity complaints would revert to that which was in place prior to the adoption of the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. In effect, this is a change in the mandate of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

As stated in House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 834, this kind of change requires a royal recommendation.

A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. For this reason, a royal recommendation is required not only in the case where money is being appropriated, but also in the case where the authorization to spend for a specific purpose is significantly altered. Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown’s financial initiative.

Consequently, it is my ruling that in changing the objects and purposes of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Bill C-471 infringes upon the financial prerogative of the Crown.

Accordingly, the Chair will decline to put the question on third reading of the bill in its present form unless a royal recommendation is received. Today's debate, however, is on the motion for second reading and this motion shall be put to a vote at the close of the current debate.

I thank hon. Members for their attention.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

April 28th, 2010 / 6:50 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the very important Bill C-311 today. I will probably not take all the time I am allowed, because I want to give more of my colleagues the opportunity to speak.

This bill is very crucial because it is part of a strategy to fight climate change. Yes, it is a Canadian strategy, but it is first and foremost an international one.

I remember when Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol in 1997. A few years later, the protocol was consolidated by the introduction of Bill C-288 by the Liberal Party. Countries like Canada must not just sign international agreements or an international protocol on climate change. They must follow up with legislation supporting these agreements. That was the reasoning behind Bill C-288, introduced by our Liberal colleague at the time.

With only months before the important conference on climate change to be held in Cancun in December, Canada must wake up and be a leader on the international stage. The government must immediately invite its counterparts to discuss climate change at the G8 and G20 summits. Discussions will focus on three aspects—financial reform, banking reform and international assistance—but the issue of climate change must also be addressed.

For that reason, the Minister of the Environment must invite his G8 and G20 counterparts to a meeting as soon as possible to discuss the issue of climate change. Why? Because the discussions prior to a conference of the parties on climate change are vital. If the major players—the industrialized countries or the emerging countries—are unable to come to an agreement in the weeks or months ahead, the success of the Copenhagen summit will be compromised.

We must also send a message to Canadians and Quebeckers indicating that we are prepared to adopt legislative measures to fight climate change. A law must be passed to engage in this fight. Section 5 of Bill C-311 provides all that is needed to send a clear message.

First, we must prevent temperatures from rising more than 2°C above industrial era temperatures. This must be very clear because a number of international studies, in particular those conducted by the IPCC, no longer refer to a 2° increase in temperature, but an increase of 4°C or 5°C. We must make it very clear to our partners, and to all those concerned, that we must prevent temperatures from increasing by more than 2°C.

Now, how can we limit that increase? By setting clear objectives and specific targets. Bill C-311 goes beyond other bills that I have read or motions that have been passed in the House. It does not just set a long-term goal like 2050. An 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 is fine, but there need to be short- and medium-term goals. The proposal is for a 25% reduction by 2020, in relation to 1990 levels.

This is what experts and scientists are recommending in order to limit the increase in temperature. The bill has the advantage of using all available options to reach these objectives.

One of these options is the creation of a carbon exchange to cap greenhouse gas emissions. We have been proposing this for a decade or so.

The entire Montreal market was ready. At the end of the 1990s, when an agreement was signed with the Toronto Stock Exchange and Montreal decided to specialize in derivatives, some specialists in the Quebec financial sector brought up the carbon exchange. They knew that it was an attractive derivative and that Montreal could make a significant contribution to this specialization. And that laid the foundation for the Montreal climate exchange.

Then two weeks ago, the government announced that we would have to wait at least a year, if not two, before a carbon exchange could be set up in Canada. Two years ago, the environment minister at the time was so pleased with himself when he launched the Montreal climate exchange. Two years later, his successor announced that the whole thing was being put on hold. The government has refused to set targets that respect scientific recommendations and has decided to ignore all of the options set out in the Kyoto protocol. Yet it is allowing some large groups to contribute to the fight against climate change. Basically, this government has decided to give up.

I remember making similar speeches in the House in the 1990s. I was sitting in more or less the same place, but about four rows back. Back then, Reform and Alliance MPs said that climate change was a natural phenomenon and that there was no link between human activity and rising temperatures.

Now we are back at square one. We are back to having to discuss the issue yet again. How long will that last? Nobody knows. But one thing is for sure: the G20 summit in June will provide a golden opportunity to put this issue on the agenda and to make sure that the G20, which is made up of important partners, can agree on a plan for the Cancun conference in December.

That is why I see this bill as part of a comprehensive strategy to fight climate change that starts with getting the G8 ministers together as soon as possible and ensuring strong support in the House for Bill C-311.

I thank my colleague for introducing this bill. We will be very happy to vote in favour of it.

Bill C-471--Royal RecommendationPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

April 23rd, 2010 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order today to address the issue of private member's bill, Bill C-471, standing in the name of the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore.

As the House knows, the Conservatives have raised concerns on this issue in the House arguing that the bill needs a royal recommendation. The government contends that the repeal of the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act, or PSECA for short, requires a royal recommendation because delegating jurisdiction to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal to oversee public sector pay equity complaints is “essentially a fundamentally new and altered purpose for those organizations”. We take exception to this argument on two grounds.

First, this repeal is a restoration of the status quo. The Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal have been charged with these precise responsibilities for nearly a quarter century. This repeal hardly constitutes a fundamentally new and altered purpose for those organizations. They have the expertise and resources necessary to continue to undertake these responsibilities in the short term.

Second, the PSECA has not yet come into force, meaning that Bill C-471's repeal of that legislation would have limited impact on the ability of either the Public Service Labour Relations Board or the Canadian Human Rights Commission to carry out procedures relating to pay equity complaints.

The government further argues that Bill C-471 represents a cost increase to the treasury but nowhere in the 2009 budget does the government indicate that the new PSECA represents a cost savings. It is difficult to evaluate cost implications when the government provided no such information in its own policy change.

Bill C-471 calls on the Government of Canada to ensure that all statutory oversight agencies are put in place by a specific date. The creation of statutory oversight agencies simply constitutes the creation of a framework under which a proper, proactive federal pay equity system could function. Expenditure of public moneys and liability of the Crown need not be considered in the creation of such a timeline. The framework costs nothing.

I am reminded of two rulings made in 2006 that dealt with a royal recommendation in which you, Mr. Speaker, ruled on both occasions that there was no need for a royal recommendation.

Members will remember your decision, Mr. Speaker, on Paul Martin's private member's bill, Bill C-292 regarding the Kelowna accord, where you explained:

...the Kelowna accord tabled in the House sheds light on the plan of action, but it is not clear whether the accord could be implemented through an appropriation act, through amendments to existing acts, or through the establishment of new acts. From my reading, implementation would appear to require various legislative proposals.

Also, Mr. Speaker, in your ruling dated September 27, 2006, regarding private member's Bill C-288 on the Kyoto protocol, which had been brought forward by my hon. colleague from Honoré-Mercier, you indicated:

Rather, the bill seeks the approval of Parliament for the government to implement the protocol. If such approval is given, then the government would decide on the measures it wished to take. This might involve an appropriation bill or another bill proposing specific spending, either of which would require a royal recommendation.

It would be the responsibility of the government to enact these changes in a manner that does not put a new charge on the treasury. We cannot prejudge how exactly this framework would be established. Once the government establishes the pay equity framework proposed in this bill, cost implications would become factors to consider. As this bill does not actually enact such changes, a royal recommendation is unnecessary.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

April 14th, 2010 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to speak today to the Liberal opposition motion on climate change. In the next 20 minutes I will try to show that, as we look ahead to the climate change conference in Cancún eight months from now, we must take real action to deal with the climate change crisis we are going through.

I do not know whether it is a coincidence or not, but it is a bit paradoxical that the Liberal opposition motion comes just a few hours before an important vote on NDP Bill C-311. It is as if the Liberal Party were trying to show that a parliamentary motion was the best response to a legislative initiative. There is nothing stronger legislatively than a bill, whether it comes from the government or from a private member.

The Liberal Party showed leadership on this issue in the past. I remember when the Liberals introduced Bill C-288, which was sponsored by the member for Honoré-Mercier. The purpose of this bill was to implement the Kyoto protocol. At the time, the Liberal Party understood that it took a bill to ensure that international climate change agreements, and the Kyoto protocol in particular, had some regulatory teeth. This is what the NDP has understood in recent years, and a parliamentary motion is no substitute for a private member's bill.

That is why, in a few hours, we will support Bill C-311, just as we supported Bill C-288 introduced by the Liberal member for Honoré-Mercier.

We think the Liberal Party motion, which I would describe as epic in length, is commendable. In the 13 years I have been sitting in Parliament, I have rarely seen such a long motion. I have read it and re-read it. There are no less than 10 points in this motion. The position of this Parliament could very well have been summed up in just three or four points, as the Bloc Québécois did on the eve of the Copenhagen climate change conference.

What did the Bloc Québécois say a few weeks before the Copenhagen climate change conference? The Bloc limited its opposition motion to three points. First, Canada must commit to doing everything in its power to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2oC higher than in the pre-industrial period. Second, it must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 25% lower than 1990 levels by 2020. Third, it must commit to giving developing countries the technological and financial means to adapt to climate change.

The motion could have stopped there, but no, here we have a 10 point motion, which we support, of course. Nevertheless, the motion could have been clearer.

Let us look at the first point. The Liberal Party wants the government to:

...use the legislative, regulatory and fiscal authorities already available to the Government of Canada to put in place immediately a national climate change plan that implements economy-wide regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, and invests in renewable energy, clean technology and energy efficiency in order for Canada to compete in the new green economy;

How could we be against this first point of the motion? We are somewhat surprised that today, in 2010, the Liberal Party is proposing regulation. I remember what the Liberal Party was proposing in 1997-98. I was here in the House at the time. It was not proposing a regulatory approach to fight climate change. It was proposing a voluntary approach.

It proposed sector-by-sector negotiations of greenhouse gas reduction agreements that would not have the force of law. This was done in the pulp and paper sector and the steel industry. However, it became evident that the voluntary approach put forward by the Chrétien government made it impossible to respect our international commitments on greenhouse gas reductions. Today, the Liberal Party realizes that the voluntary approach proposed by the Liberal government at that time has not achieved its objectives and that a regulatory approach is needed.

We have before us a Conservative government that does have a regulatory framework for fighting climate change. However, after all these years, we are still waiting for greenhouse gas reduction regulations. We have not found an approach that could have resulted in substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The government has two means at its disposal: the regulatory approach and implementation of a greener tax system, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide tax incentives to environmental industries that contribute to those reductions. I will come back to that later.

However, we only have a regulatory framework before us, one without targets and without greenhouse gas emission regulations. We support the climate change regulations. However, we do not want to adopt the sectoral approach proposed by the federal government, which consists of putting all Canadian industrial sectors on an equal footing, especially the major industrial emitters.

In Quebec, we figure that we have been taking responsibility since the beginning of the 1990s. Manitoba was one of the first provinces to implement a plan to fight climate change. These plans have produced concrete results: in 2007, we saw a 23.6% reduction in greenhouse gases in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, compared to the 1990 levels.

Now, all the federal parties seem to be proposing putting the Quebec manufacturing sector, which has cut its greenhouse gas emissions, on an equal footing with the other major industrial emitters. I am referring, of course, to Canada's oil and gas industry. This is unacceptable, because this approach favours the polluter-paid principle, instead of the polluter-pay principle.

We are saying yes to regulations, but as my colleagues said earlier, we must use the triptych approach that was developed at a university in Austria, which puts responsibility on the provinces. Canada can obviously negotiate greenhouse gas reductions on the international scene, as Europe did with an 8% reduction as part of the Kyoto protocol. But let the provinces achieve their targets in their own way, in their own jurisdictions. We must remember that under the Constitution, natural resources are a provincial jurisdiction.

The government has been proposing this asymmetrical approach for so many years within the Canadian federation. Yes to a Canada-wide target for reducing greenhouse gases, but let us keep our provincial reduction targets.

The Liberal Party's second point is that the government should “stop putting Canada’s environmental and economic future at risk by insisting that Canada must wait for the United States to act first before showing our own leadership on this most vital issue.” Over the past few years we have seen the central federal government's complacency and lack of leadership when it comes to climate change. This is why the provinces decided to negotiate agreements with American states as part of climate groups.

This demonstrates that nations, that the Quebec nation, can negotiate with American states and move the climate issue forward more quickly than the federal government has been able to do over the past few years.

The best example is most likely that of automobile regulations. For years Ottawa refused to implement automobile manufacturing standards similar to those in California. Quebec decided to harmonize its standards with those in California. It was successful in pressuring central governments to adopt more acceptable federal environmental standards.

This shows that Quebec is better than the federal government at influencing the fight against climate change on a continental scale.

The third point of the motion talks about setting “a domestic legally-binding long-term greenhouse gas reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050”. This is probably the weakest aspect of the motion, which is unfortunate. We would have expected more from the Liberal Party.

We can set long term targets, but we also need to set short and medium term targets. Where are the greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020? For the past few years scientists have been saying that if we want to limit temperature increases to two degrees Celsius, industrialized countries must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below the 1990 level by 2020, and not by 2050.

With this motion and this government we will be putting off dealing with these problems. They refuse to tackle climate change in the short and medium term and are deferring efforts until 2050. We cannot accept this, especially at a time when industrialized countries are meeting in Canada for the G20. We must send a clear message: in eight months in Cancún, we will be ready to make short and medium term commitments.

Unfortunately, this motion gives no indication of any short and medium term efforts. It talks about long term efforts, which are commendable and which we do not oppose. However, this is an urgent problem that requires short and medium term targets.

The fourth point of the motion has to do with reporting “to Parliament annually on its policies and proposals to achieve the trajectory toward the 80 percent target and revise as necessary”. I think these aspects were taken from Bill C-288, at the time introduced by the Liberal Party. The purpose is probably to allow the environment commissioner to play a greater role. Parliament must focus on achieving these targets. We completely agree with this proposal.

The motion goes on to talk about establishing “a non-partisan expert group approved by Parliament to set a science-based emissions trajectory to reach that 80 percent reduction target”. Clearly, we must ensure that any targets we set are not subject to the vagaries of political change in Ottawa. Science has to resume a leading role in helping elected officials make good decisions.

The budget for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences was cut. The government is trying to muzzle Environment Canada scientists by giving them a communications guide and telling them that their research, reports and documents have to be relevant to the government's goals and policies. That is nonsensical. A healthy government should ensure that scientists have complete independence to do their scientific work.

That is why we need an independent group of scientific experts to make recommendations to parliamentarians and government free from the influence of political vagaries in Ottawa.

The sixth point calls on the government to “reverse the decision to cut the ecoENERGY program”. The first thing this government did when it came to power was initiate a program review. It directed the Treasury Board to assess the ecoenergy programs and divide them into three categories: programs to cut, programs to maintain and programs to improve.

That was terrible for the economy itself, and especially for the desire and the vision to stimulate a greener economy. The ecoauto program was eliminated. The program was not perfect. It provided tax incentives to people who purchased vehicles that consumed around 9 litres of gas per 100 kilometres. The government wanted to change the tax paradigm to give people who bought energy-efficient vehicles a refund. I strongly believe that the measure was in line with what I would call strategic environmental assessment to achieve better governance and greener taxation.

Environmental companies told us that under the wind power production incentive or WPPI, they received tax assistance of 1¢ to 1.5¢ per kilowatt hour produced using wind energy. This program was very successful and promoted wind energy. Subsequent budgets have not provided any money for the WPPI or any tax assistance for the wind industry, and Canadian companies are now telling us that they are going to leave Canada for certain U.S. states, because the American taxation system is more beneficial.

The green shift is failing. Canada does not realize the impact of the decisions it is making, at a time when all the world economies that are going through financial, climate or food crises all agree that what is needed is a green new deal. The basis for our economic recovery must be such that we can build an economy that is not in the stone age, but really turned toward the future.

That is why, in October 2008, the UN sent a clear message to industrialized countries about a green new deal. We must reinvest in renewable energy, promote energy efficiency and make our buildings greener. Sadly, the government has missed this opportunity.

I could go on at length, but I will keep my remarks to just a few minutes. This official opposition motion is clearly commendable and worthwhile. We will support this motion, but we would have liked it to go further and be more in keeping with the principles in Bill C-311 in order to deal with the climate change crisis we are going through now, eight months before the major climate change conference in Cancún.

Bill C-471--Pay Equity Task Force Recommendation ActPoints of OrderOral Questions

December 10th, 2009 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding Bill C-471, the pay equity task force recommendations act, on the grounds that it requires a royal recommendation.

Normally, royal recommendation interventions are made before the first hour of debate, which occurred on this bill last night. However, after a request from the Liberal Party, who had an event of some importance last night, we delayed that so that we would not unduly delay the members opposite from attending their most important event.

Let me make my intervention now. Bill C-471 proposes to do two things. First, it imposes on the government a duty to implement the recommendations of the 2004 pay equity task force report that sets deadlines by which this must be done. It is noted in clause 2 of the bill that this includes establishing “all statutory oversight agencies”.

The second component of Bill C-471 is to immediately repeal the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, which was passed by Parliament nine months ago in March 2009. I have objections to both of these components and will address them in turn.

Turning to the first component, subclause 2(1) of the bill imposes an imperative duty on the government to “implement the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force set out in its final report”. I have considerable concerns with this provision. While a sponsoring member may attempt to argue that Bill C-471 is similar to the Kyoto protocol implementation act or the Kelowna accord implementation act, which you ruled in order in the last Parliament, there is significant distinction.

In your ruling on September 27, 2006, regarding Bill C-288, you stated:

In a ruling earlier this week on a similar matter, namely, C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, the Chair made a distinction between a bill asking the House to approve certain objectives and a bill asking the House to approve the measures to achieve certain objectives. So too in the case before us, the adoption of a bill calling on the government to implement the Kyoto protocol might place an obligation on the government to take measures necessary to meet the goals set out in the protocol but the Chair cannot speculate on what those measures may be.

In the case of Bill C-471, the measures are set out in detail in the 113 recommendations of the task force report, which is referenced in this bill. The recommendation is that “Parliament enact new stand alone proactive pay equity legislation”. The other 112 recommendations describe the measures that should be included in that legislation.

As a result, this bill raises grave concerns. It places an impossible duty on the Crown of implementing the recommendations, which can only be done by passage of legislation. It seeks to bind this or a subsequent Parliament to pass this new legislation, which I submit would unconstitutionally undermine the fundamental principle of parliamentary sovereignty. It would fundamentally alter the relationship between the Crown and Parliament, and that is the heart of the financial initiative.

In your February 24, 2005, ruling, you aptly quoted:

Suffice it to say that those relations are neatly summed up in the phrase, “the government proposes, and parliament disposes”.

Bill C-471 clearly turns that relationship on its head by both proposing and disposing the measures in purposes for which public moneys should be spent. This is made even more apparent by subclause 2(2) of the bill. This provision sets the deadline by which the government must implement the task force recommendations. In particular, it states:

The Government of Canada shall ensure that all statutory oversight agencies are put in place no later than January 1, 2011.

This provision of the bill also distinguishes it from Bill C-288 and Bill C-292, considered in the last Parliament. Neither of those bills dictated the establishment of new institutions, much less as part of its expressed terms. Based on the task force report, the duty in subclause 2(2) entails the new creation of two new statutory agencies as well as a new system of adjudicators. Assuming Bill C-471 is constitutional and the government is bound by its terms, it has no choice but to establish these new bodies.

It is trite to say that such a measure would require the expenditure of new funds to a new purpose. For example, the Speaker's ruling of September 19, 2006, concluded that the creation of advisory committee requires a royal recommendation, since this clearly would require the expenditure of public funds in a manner not currently authorized. For this reason, Bill C-471 requires a royal recommendation to be in order.

The second component of Bill C-471 also clearly demonstrates that a royal recommendation is required. As mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, Bill C-471 at clause 3 repeals, in its entirety, the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. This repeal would take immediate effect if this bill were to be given royal assent.

The nature of this provision is completely different from anything that was in Bill C-288 and Bill C-292 from the last Parliament.

To fully understand why it has an impact on the financial initiative of the Crown, it is first necessary to understand the purpose of the PSECA. The purpose of this act, put simply, was to remove jurisdiction over public sector pay equity complaints from the Canadian Human Rights Act and to create a new statutory scheme for dealing with public sector pay equity issues proactively.

By the same token, the PSECA removed jurisdiction for dealing with public sector pay equity complaints from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Complaints that arise out of the PSECA process are instead dealt with by the Public Service Labour Relations Board. The grounds for those complaints are defined in the PSECA.

This is underscored in the PSECA's consequential amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act, which states:

The Commission does not have jurisdiction to deal with complaints made against an employer within the meaning of the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act [related to the pay equity provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act].

The effect then of clause 3 of Bill C-471 is to reverse all of that. This has two distinct impacts. First, it gives jurisdiction over public sector employers to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal, whose jurisdiction was expressly removed in the PSECA. Second, it subjects public service employers, that is, the Crown as employer, to liability for new statutory grounds of complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Both of these impacts infringe upon the financial initiative of the Crown.

In the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, O'Brien and Bosc state a fundamental principle of the royal recommendation at pages 833 to 834:

An appropriation accompanied by a royal recommendation, though it can be reduced, can neither be increased nor redirected without a new recommendation...A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. For this reason, a royal recommendation is required not only in the case where money is being appropriated, but also in the case where the authorization to spend for a specific purpose is significantly altered. Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown's financial initiative.

Mr. Speaker, this principle is reflected in your ruling of February 11, 2008, in which you held that Bill C-474 required a royal recommendation because it proposed to substantially alter the mandate of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The same principle applies to the bill before you today.

The object of the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act was to fundamentally change the structure, process and jurisdiction for dealing with public sector pay equity issues from what existed before the passage of the act. A royal recommendation accompanied the budget implementation bill, which included the PSECA.

Accordingly, repealing the PSECA and giving the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal jurisdiction over public sector pay equity complaints is essentially a fundamentally new and altered purpose for those organizations. No royal recommendation accompanies that change in Bill C-471.

The royal recommendation that accompanied the PSECA cannot be redirected to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal, and past appropriations for the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal cannot be used for a purpose and jurisdiction that Parliament expressly removed from the PSECA. On that ground alone, Bill C-471 infringes upon the Crown's financial initiative.

In addition, the bill infringes upon the financial initiative on the basis that it exposes the Crown to a distinct liability that would be paid by public moneys. As stated in Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, 21st edition, on page 714:

Any proposal whereby the Crown would incur a liability or a contingent liability payable out of money to be voted by Parliament [requires the Queen's recommendation].

In this vein, a June 12, 1973, Speaker's ruling held that a royal recommendation was required for Bill S-5, an act to amend the Farm Improvement Loans Act.

The Speaker noted:

It may be said that the proposal in Bill S-5 does not in itself propose a direct expenditure. It does, however, propose substantial additional liabilities on public moneys.

Similarly, a May 5, 2009, ruling from the Speaker of the other place ruled Bill S-219 out of order because it would change the Crown's liability under the Canada Student Loans Act. As held in that ruling:

The passage of Bill S-219 would expand the range of conditions under which the government would have to make good its guarantee of loans under the Canada Student Loans Act. This would change the existing scheme, since payments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund might increase due to the change in possible obligations. As such, the bill should have a Royal Recommendation, and would have to originate in the other place.

This is also consistent with a ruling on February 12, 1988 regarding Bill S-4, an Act to Amend the Canada Shipping Act. In that case, Mr. Speaker, you found that increases to the limits of civil liability of shipowners did not require a royal recommendation because the payment was covered by the authorization in section 30 of the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act.

My correction, Mr. Speaker, if you were not here in 1988. You have been for so long, I think of you as being here forever. That is a compliment, and please take it as such.

That act essentially provides that the Crown could be civilly liable in court for breaches of what is known in the common law tradition as tort or property law. Crown liability for breaches of its law of civil salvage is also expressly provided under section 5. Section 30 provides judgments issued by a court against the Crown are authorized to be paid.

The case of Bill C-471 is clearly distinguishable from Bill S-4 in that it creates a new and distinct statutory liability for the Crown under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Crown Liability and Proceedings Act does not authorize payments for new statutory liabilities of the Crown. In fact, section 33 states:

Except as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, nothing in this Act affects any rule of evidence or any presumption relating to the extent to which the Crown is bound by an Act of Parliament.

Bill C-471 would create a new and distinct statutory charge of the Crown's liability. The more adversarial quasi-judicial setting of the human rights regime is fundamentally different from the proactive and integrated approach of the PSECA.

Under the PSECA, pay equity obligations are integrated in the bargaining process subject to complaint on certain grounds of the Public Service Labour Relations Board. In contrast, under the Canadian Human Rights Act, liability is initiated by individual complaints adjudicated before an administrative tribunal and potentially results in awards for damages. The authority for awarding those damages is the Canadian Human Rights Act.

As you may recall, Mr. Speaker, through the previous complaints based process under the Canadian Human Rights Act, the government has paid out of public moneys multi-billion dollar judgments. The Crown's obligations are significantly different under the PSECA and a royal recommendation is required to change that.

Before concluding, and I know the wish is for me to conclude quickly, I would like to address a point that may arise during the study of this bill. As we know, the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act has been passed by Parliament, but it has not been not been proclaimed into force. Like many other statutes, Parliament delegates to the Governor-in-Council the authority to determine the day on which the act comes into force.

This transitional period, as one of the terms under which Parliament has passed the law, allows the executive time to prepare for the effective implementation of provisions. For purposes of assessing the need for a royal recommendation for Bill C-471, it does not matter whether or not the legislation has been proclaimed into force, it suffices that the law has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and that it has received royal assent.

What is and should be most critical and salient is Parliament's decision to make law. In the 21st edition of Erskine May, in formulating the test for whether a charge is new and distinct, it is stated at page 712:

The question may arise whether a proposal for expenditure or for increased expenditure is not already covered by some general authorization. The test for determining this question in the case of a substantive proposal, ie. a provision is in a bill, as introduced, is a comparison with existing law.

In this case, the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act was passed by Parliament on March 12, 2009. It forms part of the Statutes of Canada, it reflects the will of Parliament and it will be implemented under the terms passed by Parliament because that is what the law directs.

As Erskine May puts it, it forms part of the existing law, this is the law against which the provisions of Bill C-471 must be compared. To look at it another way, there would be no purpose for clause 3 of Bill C-471 but to change the law. It follows that in this instance it also changes the purposes and conditions for which the House has authorized expenditures. For that reason it requires a royal recommendation.

While Bill C-471 is a short bill, it has significant consequences and there are multiple reasons for which it requires a royal recommendation to be in order. I should also add that the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, the sponsor of Bill C-471, has said that he believes Bill C-471 would result in some additional unspecified costs for the government. In other words, the leader of the official opposition, who is the sponsor of this bill, agrees that his own bill requires a royal recommendation.

December 8th, 2009 / 11:50 a.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

At the outset, I would like to say that we will be supporting the NDP motion that deems Bill C-311 to have been considered clause by clause and reported back to the House without amendment.

Why will we be voting in favour of this motion, Mr. Chair? First, as far as I know, neither the Liberal Party nor the Conservative Party has tabled any amendments. So we must accept that, even if we were to make grand speeches in this parliamentary committee, and say that we had to have clause-by-clause consideration of the bill and that it has to be amended because it does not meet our needs, the fact is that no amendments have been tabled in committee. A few weeks or meetings ago, you very clearly indicated the prescribed timelines for such proposals. No amendments have been proposed. Those who wanted to see the bill amended did not come forward with any amendments; they therefore inevitably and indirectly subscribe to the motion as presented. We will see whether or not the speeches and votes reflect the speeches that we will hear today in committee.

Why vote in favour of this motion? Second, because it is urgent that we take action, Mr. Chair. We must make sure that we have a bill, a climate change act, before the minister arrives in Copenhagen. Mr. Chair, it is completely unacceptable to find ourselves with a government that has no strategy, no plan, no regulations, and that has postponed the implementation of its climate change regulations two or three times. In the meantime, south of our border, at least three pieces of legislation, in both chambers, deal with this issue.

Just yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency clearly stated that it considered CO2 emissions to be dangerous. South of the border, they see the need to take urgent action. They are already working, studying amendments to bills, whereas we find ourselves in a situation where we have an opportunity for a bill... We can agree or not. It is, nevertheless, incumbent on us to amend what is on the table to ensure that we have regulations as quickly as possible. There seems to be some bad faith here.

In all honesty, I think that this bill is consistent with a motion presented by the Bloc Québécois and adopted on November 25, 2009. According to that motion, we must first ensure that any proposal accepts the importance of limiting the rise in temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial era. Second, in order to comply with that scientific opinion, we need a strong commitment to reach a reduction of between 25% to 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, which is directly stated in this bill.

Mr. Chair, we are therefore studying a bill aimed at respecting the spirit of a motion adopted by a majority of parliamentarians on November 26, and whose objective was to establish a 25% reduction target using 1990 as the reference year. Members of our government will be going to Copenhagen where they will say that we want to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. What they are not saying, however, is that the reference year being used is 2006.

I would remind you of all the efforts that have been made in Quebec since 1990. The manufacturing sector in Quebec reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25% based on 1990 levels. I should also mention sectors such as pulp and paper mills and aluminum smelters, which reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 15%, and all with no mention of intensity. In intensity, the aluminum sector's reductions in Quebec were 50%. In real reductions alone, the figure is 15%.

The Conservative government persists in its desire to use 2006 as the reference year. They want to start from zero. Why start from zero, Mr. Chair? For one reason only: to satisfy the demands of a single sector of Canada's economy, petroleum.

So this is not a fair proposal. In order for it to be fair, we would need to include paragraph 7(1)(b), which is aimed at limiting emissions on a provincial basis. My colleague, David McGuinty, is against it and does not understand why the Bloc is in favour of this provision. I must remind him why this paragraph is in Bill C-311; it was because of discussions with his Liberal Party colleague Pablo Rodriguez, when he introduced Bill C-288.

Surprisingly, at that time, the Liberals were very much in favour of paragraph 7(1)(b) because they felt that it provided greater flexibility. In their opinion, it made for a more asymmetrical federalism. We are proposing that Canada be able to negotiate an international commitment, setting greenhouse gas reduction targets for each province, exactly as is done in Europe. It is important to adopt a common, but differentiated approach, something that both Conservatives and Liberals have always promoted. It would have to apply here in Canada and we would have to use 1990 as the reference year. We would also have to participate in an international carbon market.

On one side, we have political parties suggesting a very weak 3% reduction target based on 1990 levels. On the other, we have a party whose targets are still not known. A great deal of time has been spent educating us about the three bills being debated in United States and we still do not know the target proposed by the official opposition. Is it 20%, 15%, 3%, 25%? Is it even higher? We have no idea.

But we do know—and this must be acknowledged—that the Liberals are adopting 1990 as the reference year, about which we are proud. We are pleased that the official opposition has understood that 1990 must be used as the reference year. So we find ourselves in a situation where the government is presenting us with an unfair, unambitious plan. We are hoping that the official opposition's position will reflect the votes that have already been held. What are these votes? There was the vote on Bill C-288, which sought to implement the Kyoto Protocol in Canada. There was also the vote on the Bloc motion, adopted by this Parliament on November 25, 2009, which called for an objective of no more than 2 degrees Celsius and a 25% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. That is what we agreed to, in principle, by adopting Bill C-311 and this is was we repeated with the motion debated by the Bloc.

To conclude—I do not intend to filibuster—we will be voting in favour of this motion because it is urgent that we take action. The Copenhagen conference is taking place as we speak, and I think that it is important that the vote in this committee and in the House be unequivocally in favour of a bill that goes along with the recommendations made by scientists.

Thank you very much.

Environmental Enforcement ActGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2009 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-16. The least that can be said is that this bill is a lengthy one. It amends a number of environmental statutes and it has been anticipated for a very long time. When it comes to environmental protection, be it the Migratory Birds Act, the Fisheries Act or the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, we have too often seen Canadian legislation that gives polluters a break.

Canada does have environmental legislation, but when we look more specifically at the regulatory regime associated with each act, in terms of fines and penalties, we realize that for some companies it may unfortunately be to their advantage to pollute. The penalties and fines are so low that it is worth it to break the laws enacted by Parliament. That is what was perverse in the regulatory regimes that we were presented with up to now.

The truth of this can be seen in the fact that in February 2009 a company like Syncrude in Alberta could discharge toxic substances into the tailings ponds used in oil sands production, with the result that nearly 500 ducks were killed. What was the consequence for Syncrude? It was sentenced to a maximum fine of $800,000 or a maximum of six months’ imprisonment.

We know these companies that make profits that might be described as colossal. An $800,000 fine is not much to pay to keep exploiting the oil sands. And so we saw companies polluting our environment with impunity, telling themselves it was better to keep going and pay the fines than to lose some of their profits. This is not acceptable in a regulatory regime when we want to send business a message. The polluter-pay principle must be applied, not the polluter-paid principle.

For that reason, we supported Bill C-16 in principle when it was introduced. We worked with all of the opposition parties and with the government to make some improvements, and we listened to the witnesses. When the bill was considered in committee, we realized that some witnesses had not been consulted by the government. We can agree or disagree with certain industries. I am thinking, for example, of people in the shipping industry, who told us they had not been consulted before Bill C-16 was introduced. That is totally unacceptable.

The government has a number of consultation mechanisms. It has advisory committees. This is a bill that the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development is asking for. This change in the regulatory regime has been called for by the environment committee since 1998. For over 11 years, parliamentarians, in committee, have been asking the government to amend the penalty and fine regimes because they were unacceptable. For 11 years, the government could have consulted industry, and it did not so. That is somewhat disappointing.

That is why the parliamentary committee decided to invite both the Shipping Federation of Canada and the workers affected by the legislative changes. As I said, these were essential changes requested by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development back in 1998 in a report called “Enforcing Canada’s Pollution Laws: the Public Interest Must Come First”. Back in 1998, as I remember, during the 36th Parliament, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development made 24 recommendations to the government, including four that I will repeat: first, that the minister should develop and publish a comprehensive enforcement and compliance policy with the act; second, that the minister should undertake a comprehensive review of the regulations—and revise them if necessary—to ensure that they are adequate, up-to-date and enforceable; third, that the minister should take the necessary steps to have certain offences designated for the purposes of the ticketing provisions under the Contraventions Act; and fourth, that more resources should be assigned to the proper enforcement of environmental legislation.

These four groups of recommendations were at the heart of the 24 recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development regarding the enforcement of the law. That is the reality in Canada.

I was first elected in 1997 and have seen a number of pieces of legislation passed in this House, including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and all the rest of the environmental legislation. In actual fact, though, this legislation is not enforced. As a result, one of the committee’s recommendations in 1999 was that more resources be assigned to the proper enforcement of environmental legislation.

It is no use having the best environmental legislation, the best Canadian Environmental Protection Act, if there are no authorities with the power to enforce it, nor the resources to do so. Despite the existing legislation, the result is a complete mess on the environmental level.

That is why our regulatory regime had to be modernized. Penalties had to be increased considerably to avoid tragedies like the one I described with Syncrude, which had charges laid against it in February 2009. We should also remember the Exxon Valdez catastrophe that happened 20 years ago in the north. That kind of thing must never happen again because the people responsible got off very lightly, not only to the detriment of the ecosystem but also of the economic development of these regions. In order to avoid situations like that, we need to be very strict and increase the penalties. However, our environment cannot be protected with just a law and order approach.

We cannot simply increase our fines and prison terms. We also have to change our ways of doing things. We have to be able to say to companies like Syncrude that if they do not install nets to protect ducks, they will be subject to increased fines of something like $4 million, as provided under the new regime in Bill C-16.

We must make people realize that the decisions we make with respect to production and consumption have enormous consequences.

Let us look at the oil sands development. It is a good example. It is not only a contravention of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, but also a contravention of the legislation we have passed here in this House.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development has demonstrated this to us today. Bill C-288, which was introduced in this Parliament by the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier, was passed at first and second reading and amended in parliamentary committee. Then it received royal assent. It requires the government to report annually in compliance with its obligations under the Kyoto protocol. But the government has not honoured its commitments.

The example of oil sands development is not just a violation of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, which is being amended today, it is also a violation of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, for which we are still awaiting a regulatory framework from the government.

When this bill was introduced, we expected the government to announce something about Canada’s environmental compliance with respect to climate change. We expected the government to move from a regulatory framework on climate change to actual legislation on climate change, as Quebec has announced today.

Quebec has introduced a bill to comply with its climate change obligations by setting a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, and to fall in line with what U.S. President Obama is about to do by setting an environmental cap and trade, capping greenhouse gas emissions and creating the structure and framework for a carbon market that can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, today in this House, we are debating whether we are going to increase the fines from $800,000 to $4 million for those who decide not to install a net near a settling pond at the oil sands sites.

Eleven years after the report of the environment committee was submitted, we are still thinking about what we should do under existing environmental legislation, whereas in Quebec and the United States they are debating laws on climate change.

Quebec and other provinces like Manitoba, which produced one of the first plans for fighting climate change, the American states and the American administration have understood that when we fight climate change, we are tackling a number of environmental issues; we are tackling the importance of adopting renewable energy; we are making sure that we have greater energy efficiency in our homes and in industry; we are protecting ecosystems; and we are protecting our water resources.

If Canada adopted climate change legislation, our energy production would very probably no longer be the same. We would no longer have to count on oil sands production and exploitation as an energy source in Canada. If we did not have to do that, we would not be talking today about whether we should increase fines under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, to $4 million from $800,000.

We would not be asking how we can protect our water quality in Canada, because we would have decided to use renewable energy. We would be using that resource to produce energy rather than using it to extract oil in the west. We would be using wind to produce energy. We would be using our natural resources intelligently, not just to produce energy, but also to create an economic force in North America. That is what the American administration has understood and what the Conservative government has failed to understand.

Our energy policy and economic policy are still in the stone age. We still believe that fossil fuel is where the energy revolution in Canada lies, when it really lies somewhere else altogether. We have moved from a coal revolution to an oil revolution, and tomorrow it will be a renewable energy revolution. That is where we are going, but the government is instead deciding to invest in the oil industry and provide billions of dollars in tax incentives to an industry that is exploiting a resource that does nothing but create environmental externalities and that puts Canada in the stone age of economic development.

That is totally unacceptable. It is not the path that Quebec has decided to follow. Quebec has decided to invest in renewable energy and focus on energy efficiency. If we are not capable of connecting the east and west to fight climate change, Quebec will make the connection between north and south, if need be. If Canada does not understand that energy for the future means developing renewable energy, if Canada does not understand that this calls for a cap and trade system, if Canada is not prepared to understand that we need a carbon exchange, we will do business with the American states, because they will understand that in budgetary terms and in fiscal terms, that is the direction the future is taking us.

When we compare the Prime Minister’s budget to the budget presented by the Obama administration, we realize that Canada is investing only one sixth as much per capita in energy efficiency and renewable energy as our neighbours to the south. Is this acceptable, when we know that every dollar invested in fighting climate change creates jobs? This is so well known that the UN has invited United Nations member countries to adopt what is called a Green New Deal. If we are to have an economic recovery, we have to inject massive amounts of money into our economy to create green jobs. And all this time, the government is bringing in budgets that give the oil industry tax incentives and help to increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Today, we are debating a bill that increases environmental penalties when we should be debating legislation and a bill on climate change. That is what we expect and we hope to have it before the climate change conference to be held in Copenhagen next December.

Environmental Enforcement ActGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2009 / 3:25 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague raised a point that I would like to take up with him. Bill C-16 deals with the enforcement of essentially many environmental laws in Canada, the government's ability to apply fines, what those fines will be and the nature of them. The government needs these tools to enforce and apply its own laws, which is what some laws are guided by and how they are presented.

On the environmental side of things, my colleague mentioned the bill we proposed on climate change. Today, the Auditor General dealt with Bill C-288, a bill out of the previous Parliament. We now have Bill C-311, and the two are meant to join together and take us through the Kyoto period into what is now being called the Copenhagen round of climate change.

However, around all of these laws and prescriptions that we are giving to the government and to the economy around climate change and, in this case, the pollution of greenhouse gases, if the government is unwilling to enforce its own laws and apply the penalties that are contained within those laws, acts and measures, is it not up to conscientious, thoughtful members in this place to find a way to force the government to abide by its own laws? Are there any clauses in Bill C-16 that we can encourage and augment? It is a principle of Canadian democracy that we pass laws in this place and then the government enforces them. Have we lost it all with the government? Does it have any credibility left when it comes to the environment or climate change?

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

March 4th, 2009 / 6:25 p.m.
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Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by summarizing the key elements of Bill C-311, then I will outline the reasons why the government opposes the bill.

Bill C-311 is clearly both bad law and bad policy. Its implementation would have significant negative implications on the Canadian economy, impose unrealistic and impractical timelines, and may in fact be unconstitutional.

Bill C-311 would create an obligation on the Government of Canada to ensure Canadian greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to 25% below the 1990 level by 2020 and to 80% below the 1990 level by 2050.

The bill would also oblige the Minister of the Environment to establish an emissions target plan for every five year period from 2015 to 2045, and to put in place regulations and other actions to ensure that these targets are achieved.

The bill calls on the government to have regulations in place as early as December of this year designed to meet the 2015 target. Members of the House who are familiar with the regulatory process know the problems associated with that unrealistic timeframe.

Quite simply, this is completely unrealistic and shows that the NDP is more interested in political grandstanding than in finding real solutions to deal with the fight against climate change.

Unlike the party opposite, our government has been clear on the need to strike a balance between environmental and economic progress. Our approach to addressing climate change will achieve that balance.

We are committed to stopping the increase in Canada's greenhouse gas emissions and then dramatically reducing them. We established a national target of an absolute 20% reduction in greenhouse gases, relative to 2006 levels, by 2020. By 2050 Canada's emissions will be 60% to 70% below 2006 levels. The government has also established a target that by 2020, 90% of our electricity will come from non-emitting sources. These are the toughest targets in Canadian history and some of the toughest targets in the world.

At the same time we are helping Canadians reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through programs such as the ecoEnergy for renewable power program, the trust fund for clean air and climate change, and supporting investment into research, development and demonstration of promising technologies, including large scale projects like carbon capture and storage. In fact, we are one of the world leaders on that technology.

Bill C-311 on the other hand does not endeavour to strike such a balance. When an identical bill, Bill C-377, was introduced in the last Parliament by the leader of the NDP, he admitted that he had made no attempt to calculate how much economic damage his bill would do to the Canadian economy. In fact, he called his bill the impossible dream.

Further, the massive costs would also have to be borne at a time when Canada's economy is under severe pressure as a result of the global economic downturn. Bill C-311 would impose a massive new burden on industries that are already facing very difficult and serious times.

It is clear that the NDP do not believe it is necessary to consider changing course slightly, despite the economic realities that we face. The NDP has learned nothing from its power in Ontario under the leadership of the member for Toronto Centre where the NDP policies led to record high levels of debt and unemployment.

Our assessment of Bill C-288, the Kyoto implementation act, an act with requirements that are quite similar to those in Bill C-311, suggest that an attempt to meet our Kyoto targets within the 2008 to 2012 period would result in a drop in GDP of 4%.

Given that the proposed 2020 target under Bill C-311 is significantly deeper than under the Kyoto protocol, of 25% below 1990 levels as opposed to the 6% below 1990 levels under the Kyoto protocol, the conclusion of massive, negative economic impacts reached under the KPIA analysis would also apply to Bill C-311.

Bill C-311 creates an economic uncertainty by suggesting that Canada should maintain a domestic policy and an international policy negotiating position based on the UNFCCC ultimate objectives immediately after royal assent of the bill.

There is uncertainty around the UNFCCC's ultimate objectives and the bill does not define what a responsible Canadian contribution is or indicate how it can be determined.

Bill C-311 compounds this uncertainty by asking Canada to take a radically different approach to climate change than our most important economic partner.

Do the sponsors of the bill really believe we can turn our back on the possibility of a coherent, co-operative North American climate change strategy in partnership with the President Obama administration? I think not.

The government must be able to fully represent Canada's economic interests and unique circumstances in international negotiations, including with the administration of President Obama.

I would now like to bring to the attention of the House the serious concerns we have over the constitutional aspects of the bill. Last year in discussion on Bill C-377, the predecessor of Bill C-311, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development heard testimony by respected lawyers as to their concern over the constitutionality of clauses that remain in Bill C-311. The primary concern remains whether the bill's authorities are soundly based on the peace, order and good government head of power.

Joseph Castrilli, counsel for Canadian Environmental Law Association said:

Peace, order, and good government would appear to be less likely to find favour with the Supreme Court as a basis for upholding the constitutionality of the regulatory limits authority of Bill C-377 under any circumstances because of the potential for major impact on provincial jurisdiction to act in a host of areas.

That remains in Bill C-311.

Mr. Castrilli went on to say that the bill was also unlikely to be upheld under the federal government's authority over criminal law because the law was not specific about the characteristics of the regimes contemplated or the actual substances to be addressed leaving this detail to the regulations.

Amendments of the bill were passed in the House of Commons to specify which substances the bill would consider, but there is much doubt as to whether these amendments were sufficient to address Mr. Castrilli's concerns, particularly against jurisdiction of the provinces.

Peter Hogg, professor emeritus and former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School of York University stated in his testimony that the bill would not be upheld under the federal government's peace order and good government authority or its jurisdiction under criminal law.

With respect to peace, order and government, Professor Hogg expressed concern over the lack of direction provided by the bill to the Governor-in-Council with respect to its regulation making power. Professor Hogg indicated the regulation making authority of the bill, as first introduced, was so broad as to potentially reach into every area of Canadian economic and social life.

I would like to reiterate the Government of Canada's opposition to Bill C-311.

We are working diligently to promote domestic, continental and international action to ensure lasting greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Our approach is a balanced approach, an approach that will see Canada's greenhouse gases decline, while protecting our economy and the standard of living of the Canadian people. Our plan includes billions of dollars for technology, technology like carbon capture and storage, working with the United States, and the world is counting on us to work together. We are doing that through the clean energy dialogue with President Obama and our Prime Minister.

Therefore, I encourage the member to remove the bill or vote against his own bill because the bill will take us in a direction that would be bad for Canada, it would be bad for Canadian jobs and it would be bad for the environment.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

May 29th, 2008 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-377, which ensures that Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing climate change. This bill is even more important because it does not put a partisan spin on this issue, an issue that is probably the greatest challenge of the 21st century. Canadians expect us to be above partisan games.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I was very honoured that you asked me to replace you for a few minutes. I had the opportunity, while sitting in the green chair, to look at things from a different perspective. I spent a few minutes thinking about how important it would be for the government to show true leadership on this issue that is so important for the future.

I recently attended a conference in Victoria.

The conference, called “Gaining Ground”, was held in Victoria during the break week. There were people gathered from all over B.C. and indeed from all over Canada and even from the United States. There were students, scientists, economists, and business people.

The students, the young people, said, “Do not mortgage our future”. The economists were saying, “Do not treat environmental impacts as externalities, as we have been doing and as we continue to do”.

Business leaders are far ahead of where we are at the moment. There were builders there who talked about the incredible impact that we could have by simply having some leadership at the level of changing the rules around construction in Canada and beginning to build green buildings, green homes, the kinds of green economy jobs that we could be creating, but that has not happened yet.

This bill would allow us to work together to build consensus. This bill is really science-based and I would like to go back to that. However, I want to talk a little about the consensus that I think the New Democrats have tried to build on during this Parliament, given how strongly we feel about this issue and how important we believe it is.

There was the Liberal Bill C-288, the Kyoto bill, and we agreed to work with the Liberals to bring that bill through committee to the House and to pass it. It was the same thing with Bill C-30, the Conservatives' climate change bill, which in its initial stages would have done very little to mitigate climate changes, but we proposed that all parties bring their best ideas and work together in consensus at committee.

We did that and there were some great ideas that came from all parties and this bill remains at third reading. The government has refused to bring it to the House for a vote and that simply goes against what Canadians expect of us. They want real change.

As everyone tries to understand the shifts that are required to achieve a more sustainable future, they are discouraged by the lack of action by successive governments. We know that biophysical and social changes can reach a tipping point, beyond which there is potentially irreparable change.

My colleague from Western Arctic spoke about his visit recently to Greenland and observed with scientists the way glaciers are receding. I had the fortunate experience to do the same thing on the other coast. I had the opportunity to visit Prince William Sound and the glacier called Nellie Juan. The people who were with us, who had been living in that area for some 30 years, showed us the way the ice was receding. There were beginnings of growth of vegetation where the ice had stood for centuries.

That is our children's future and our grandchildren's future that we are looking at. This is why I take this issue so seriously, as I think do all Canadians. The reason this bill is so exciting is it sets firmly into law the responsibility Canada must assume to prevent the tipping point that I mentioned.

Setting targets into law is key. Before I ran for election I remember having a conversation with the former minister of the environment. He was discouraged by the lack of action and the lack of commitment of his own government to move forward on climate change after accepting the Kyoto agreement.

I got the impression that the reason he felt there was a lack of commitment was that the discussions always occurred behind closed does in cabinet and there was no formal legislation requiring government to take action. It was always discussions behind closed doors and power plays that prevented any real decisions to take action. This piece of legislation would change that process.

Scientists tell us there is a consensus that an increase of 2° in the world's surface temperature from pre-industrial levels would constitute dangerous climate change and trigger global scale impacts and feedback loops from which it is difficult to imagine coming back.

Dr. Andrew Weaver, a leading scientist, Nobel prize winner, a professor at the University of Victoria, and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, spoke to the committee. Here is what he said:

What I can say is that any stabilization of greenhouse gases at any level requires global emissions to go to zero.

I had to reread that because it is difficult to imagine how we can get there. Dr. Weaver is one of the leading world experts and certainly is a well-respected Canadian scientist. He said:

There is no other option. To stabilize the level of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere at any concentration that is relevant to human existence on the planet, we must go to zero emissions.

Hence the importance of this bill, because it will set into law the targets and the timelines that science tells us we must meet if we want to stop irreversible damage: medium targets of 25% below 1990 levels and long term targets of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The Conservatives have set a new starting date and we know from all the comments we have heard that their targets simply do not get the job done as they would like to tell us they do. Science tells us that if we follow the government's plan we are going to--

Price of Petroleum ProductsEmergency Debate

May 26th, 2008 / 8:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gary Lunn Conservative Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

I hope I am wrong and that is not their policy, but that is not what the Liberal leader has been saying for the last two weeks in the media. That is not what he is saying as he is running across Canada trying to sell his carbon tax plan. He cannot sell his carbon tax plan in his own caucus. His own caucus members came out of their Wednesday meeting fuming, let alone selling it to all Canadians. Those are the facts.

Again, we all know that it would have a significant impact on the economy, including manufacturing jobs and forestry jobs. This carbon tax would only compound the problem.

Everyone in this House knows the reality is that the price of gasoline is set by market forces. Members across know that, but there are creative solutions that we can look at. I will get to a few of them.

In fact, the Bloc member who spoke talked about this: conserving energy, using public transit and becoming more energy efficient. I agree with all of those. As well, there can be more renewable energy put on the grid. Those are things that our government is doing. I will get into some of the specifics.

However, as far as the price of oil per barrel, it has doubled since I have been the minister in the last two years. Members are right when they say it has doubled, but that is not because of anything I have done. We all know there are a number of factors beyond the control of anyone in this House.

However, other things we are doing, I would submit, will actually have a significant impact in helping Canadians cope with these higher fuel prices.

We have lowered taxes on families, seniors, farmers and small businesses by over $60 billion.

We passed the toughest anti-corruption legislation in the history of Canada.

We have lowered the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%.

We have introduced the largest tax reduction in Canadian history at $200 billion, with $140 billion of that tax relief directed at individuals.

I went throughout my riding after Canadians had just filed their tax returns. For the first time in 10 years, I had Canadians coming up to me on the street and saying that they appreciated what our government is doing. They said they could actually see the tax reductions on their income tax forms.

I had seniors come up to me who were able to split their pension income with their spouse. Members opposite can laugh, but in some cases that provides as much as $3,000 or $4,000 in additional income tax returns to these members. That is significant. Those are the types of tangible things we can do.

We took 85,000 seniors right off the federal tax rolls.

These are things we are doing. Again, there is $2 billion in gas tax money going directly to municipalities so that they can support initiatives. In my riding, Frank Leonard is the mayor of Saanich. He and I went out and saw how that gas tax money was used. Saanich is putting in dedicated transit lanes. It is putting in dedicated transit facilities to help people get into transit.

There are things that our government is doing.

Let me respond to a few other areas that are specific to my department. Our government recognizes that we cannot sustain ourselves with regard to our current consumption of oil. On the planet, we consume 86 million barrels of oil every day. We should think about that. That is a thousand barrels of oil every second. It is not sustainable.

That is why our government is investing in such things as renewable energy. We have announced $1.5 billion for 4,000 megawatts of clean energy. As for wind, we have the first tidal turbines now being installed on both coasts, which are producing clean energy. We have a significant biofuels strategy in which our government invested over $2 billion, half a billion of which will be going into next generation biofuels. These are tangible things that can make a difference.

We are investing heavily in energy efficiency. I have said many times that the largest untapped source of energy in this country is the energy we waste. Through Sustainable Development Technology Canada, we are investing hundreds of millions of dollars on energy saving technologies to help them move from the research side to the development side. These are tangible things. Our government is investing in clean technologies to clean up conventional technology. These are all very important. They can make a difference, and they are.

As for the Liberal plan, the Liberals do not get it. They are laughing and chuckling across the way, but it is their leader who wants to impose a massive carbon tax. That is unprecedented. We have seen this in the press for the last two weeks. We know that is where the Liberals' minds are. We should look at Bill C-288, a Liberal private member's bill that wants to put a 60% tax on gasoline.

At 60% we can do the math pretty quickly at today's prices. That will get us up to $2.25 a litre. The Liberals go on. We know that is their approach.

We understand that high gas prices are a concern for Canadians. That is why we are investing in energy efficiency. That is why we are lowering taxes for everyday Canadians by an amount they can actually realize and feel. We know we can deliver on that.

However, the Liberals are not being honest. They want to impose a massive carbon tax. And now they are saying they do not?

I ask members to just look at the statements the Liberal leader is making. I admit they change from one day to the next, but let us make no mistake about this. Under its current leader, the Liberal Party will impose taxes on Canadians that would dramatically raise the price of energy and put us into a deficit situation.