Canada's Clean Air Act

An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (Canada's Clean Air Act)

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


Rona Ambrose  Conservative


Not active, as of March 30, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)


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

Part 1 of this enactment amends the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to promote the reduction of air pollution and the quality of outdoor and indoor air. It enables the Government of Canada to regulate air pollutants and greenhouse gases, including establishing emission-trading programs, and expands its authority to collect information about substances that contribute or are capable of contributing to air pollution. Part 1 also enacts requirements that the Ministers of the Environment and Health establish air quality objectives and publicly report on the attainment of those objectives and on the effectiveness of the measures taken to achieve them.
Part 2 of this enactment amends the Energy Efficiency Act to
(a) clarify that classes of energy-using products may be established based on their common energy-consuming characteristics, the intended use of the products or the conditions under which the products are normally used;
(b) require that all interprovincial shipments of energy-using products meet the requirements of that Act;
(c) require dealers to provide prescribed information respecting the shipment or importation of energy-using products to the Minister responsible for that Act;
(d) provide for the authority to prescribe as energy-using products manufactured products, or classes of manufactured products, that affect or control energy consumption; and
(e) broaden the scope of the labelling provisions.
Part 3 of this enactment amends the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act to clarify its regulation-making powers with respect to the establishment of standards for the fuel consumption of new motor vehicles sold in Canada and to modernize certain aspects of that Act.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

February 4th, 2008 / 4:05 p.m.
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Director, Global Threats, Conservation, World Wildlife Fund Canada

Julia Langer

I haven't done an exact comparison, but Bill C-30 did have some small improvements on the energy efficiency side. We have been pursuing that very aggressively and would give more ambit to setting energy efficiency targets. It's not that many of those things could not be done now, but it was interesting to see the ambit improved.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Routine Proceedings

February 1st, 2008 / 12:10 p.m.
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Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about Bill C-33, which, in short, would regulate fuels. The Bloc Québécois is obviously in favour of having the standing committee study this bill. In fact, passing the bill at second reading, the motion which we will vote on, enables the committee to directly examine this bill. The bill will not have an immediate effect on the content of fuels, but it will simply enable the minister to regulate the content.

The bill reflects some of the Bloc's concerns—and I say some—that we should wean ourselves off our dependence on oil. The Bloc Québécois, like all Quebeckers, believes our policy should be to increasingly reduce our dependence on oil. The bill also calls for an effort to be made in the transportation sector in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the use of agricultural and wood waste products.

Before the regulations are implemented, our party would like to see some thoughtful deliberation concerning the environmental record of the alternative fuels the federal government will propose. If the Conservative government really wanted to make a difference in this area, it would choose the path proposed by the Bloc Québécois, which calls specifically for legislative action to force automakers to substantially reduce the fuel consumption of all road vehicles sold in Quebec and Canada. The regulation would be very similar to the reduction proposed by California, which has been adopted by 19 other American states and the Government of Quebec.

We know the Conservative government's stance on this, however. It has chosen to ignore the reform supported by those who are showing leadership in the fight against greenhouse gases. In his statement, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities instead endorsed the Bush administration's declaration, which is much less demanding and seems as though it was designed specifically to spare American car manufacturers. Once again, the Minister of Transport showed his loyalty to the Prime Minister's approach and the Conservative Party line, which lean towards the Bush administration rather than California standards.

The purpose of the bill is to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to provide for the efficient regulation of fuels. It would allow the federal government to regulate renewable content in fuels in order to require, for example, a certain percentage of biofuel in gasoline. The proposed measures, except for a few key details, were included in Bill C-30 of the previous session. I would remind the House that the bill called the “clean air act” was amended by the opposition parties in committee and that the measures concerning biofuels still appear in the amended version of the bill.

The government already announced the following:

An amended Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 would allow the government to implement regulations which will require five per cent average renewable content in gasoline by 2010. Subsequent regulations will also require two per cent average renewable content in diesel and heating oil by 2012 upon successful demonstration of renewable diesel fuel use under the range of Canadian environmental conditions.

Clearly, we believe that cellulosic ethanol is the way of the future. In terms of a biofuel substitute for oil, the most interesting prospect at present is ethanol made from cellulose. This process, still in the experimental stage and deserving of more support for research, uses a plentiful and inexpensive raw material and, more importantly, would recycle vegetable matter that is currently unusable. It would also provide new markets for the forestry and agriculture industries.

Given the environmental and economic problems posed by the production of ethanol from certain crops, support for raw materials that could be produced more readily is gaining ground. Thus, research is being increasingly focused on the production of ethanol from non-food crops and materials rich in cellulose and fibres. The development of an efficient process for converting cellulose to ethanol could promote the use of raw materials such as agricultural residues and straw as well as forestry residues, primarily wood chips, and even trees and fast-growing grasses. However, it is a more complex process requiring specific enzymes and it is not cost-effective at present.

Iogen, an Ottawa company, has built a pilot plant and has been producing ethanol from cellulosic materials for a few years. The pilot plant in Sweden produces ethanol from wood chips. The production process combines acid and enzyme hydrolysis. The products obtained are lignin, which can be burned directly or dried and sold as fuel, carbon dioxide, which is recovered, and ethanol, which is used to produce a biofuel.

Still in the experimental stage, ethanol made from cellulosic materials such as agricultural and wood waste cannot yet compete with traditional products. However, it does represent an interesting possibility. In addition, the Government of Quebec has announced that it will not promote corn ethanol further because of the environmental impact of intensive corn production. It seems that the Varennes corn-based ethanol plant will be the only such plant in Quebec.

It is important for all parties, and all the men and women listening, to understand the Bloc Québécois's policy and program to reduce our dependency on oil.

Quebec can cut its oil dependency in half within 10 years. By oil dependency, we mean oil's percentage of our energy consumption. Since global consumption of energy—be it electricity, energy from biomass or less conventional energy—will continue to grow in parallel with economic growth, reducing oil dependency by 50% means reducing oil consumption by a third in absolute numbers. This is quite a challenge, but it is not impossible.

The Bloc Québécois estimates that this huge shift requires that six objectives be met: one, quickly help Hydro-Québec regain a margin of flexibility; two, continue encouraging individuals, businesses and industries to give up using oil; three, reduce fuel consumption in passenger transportation; four, stop the increase in consumption in goods transportation; five, reduce consumption of petroleum products as fuel; and six, make Quebec a centre for clean energy and clean transportation.

When we say that we need to focus on energy efficiency to restore a margin of flexibility to Hydro-Québec, which can no longer count on surplus electricity as it did in the past, the goal is to increase residential efficiency by 18% and reduce consumption by 15% in 10 years.

To recoup energy, we need to start by looking at the energy we waste. The best way to create some flexibility is to improve energy efficiency, especially in buildings. Older homes are must less efficient than new homes. Homes of equal size built between 1981 and 1996 lose 14% more heat than new homes built after 1996. The difference climbs to 27% for homes built between 1971 and 1981 and 43% for even older homes. Using fairly simple methods to improve thermal efficiency, we can reduce the difference between older homes and newer homes by 65%, according to the federal Department of Natural Resources.

Given the real potential to save energy, we need to look at introducing measures such as programs to encourage people to use alternative energy, including geothermal, wind, passive solar or photovoltaic energy; mandatory but free energy audits when homeowners apply for a permit for a significant renovation; and amendments to the building code to set thermal efficiency standards for older homes and require that homes be brought up to standard before any permit is issued for major renovations.

Our second proposal is to eliminate the use of fuel oil in homes, businesses and industry. The 10-year goal would be to reduce by half the number of homes that heat with fuel oil, to reduce their consumption by 60% through energy efficiency measures, and to reduce by 45% the use of oil as a source of energy in industry.

In 25 years, the number of homes heated by fuel oil in Quebec has been cut in half. In the past few years, the trend has slowed considerably, in part because there are no longer any incentives for converting heating systems, but also because the price of oil has been relatively low for the past decade. The price of oil has gone up considerably in the past two years and that in itself provides an incentive.

To accelerate the conversion rate, the incentives for converting heating systems that were successful in the past could be reinstated.

Third, we recommend curbing fuel consumption for the intercity transport of goods. Trucks consume far too much fuel and alternatives to trucking are not flexible enough.

The goal is to put a freeze on truck traffic at its current level and to focus on technological advances and on changing the standards and regulations, in order to achieve a 9% reduction in fuel consumption for the intercity transport of goods. This increased fuel consumption is directly related to the increased quantity of goods being transported by truck.

While the quantity of goods transported grows along with the economy, rail transport is not growing as quickly as production, and transport by truck is practically absorbing the entire increase. To reduce truck traffic in the intercity transport of goods, in addition to increasing the energy efficiency of trucks, the relative advantages of other modes of transport need to be greater and efficient infrastructure needs to be developed to encourage the use of more than one mode of transportation.

Creating programs to rebuild the rail system, immediately removing all federal obstacles to implementing a Quebec marine policy, building an efficient transshipment infrastructure to facilitate the use of more than one mode of transport—intermodal transport—and limiting the predominance of trucking are some avenues to explore to achieve this goal.

There is a second point to the third suggestion, which is to curb fuel consumption for the intra-city transport of goods, since nearly all oversized vehicles run on oil products. The goal would be to reduce the amount of fuel used for the intra-city transport of goods by 25%. Unlike intercity transport, for which it is possible to develop alternatives to trucking—since it is over a long distance, it is always possible to consider transport by rail or by water—trucks will always be difficult to replace in an urban environment. However, in many cases, the vehicles used for this type of transport are unnecessarily large.

According to a 2001 study by the Office of Energy Efficiency, delivery trucks in urban areas in Canada were on average driving with a load that was at 20.5% of their capacity. The Bloc Québécois thinks we should put an end to that.

Measures specially designed for this sector can be implemented, for example, developing plans to reduce the size of vehicles, in cooperation with the government, for transport and delivery companies. For companies to which this measure could apply, such as messenger companies, there should be incentives to encourage them to introduce as many electric or hybrid vehicles into their transport fleet as possible. This idea has already made some progress, since in a brief presented to the House Standing Committee on Finance on October 17, 2006, the association representing messenger companies indicated that its members were interested in introducing electric-dominant hybrid vehicles into their fleets, provided they would receive a federal tax credit to help them make up for the price difference between hybrids and gasoline-powered vehicles.

The Bloc Québécois' fourth suggestion is to reduce the amount of fuel used to transport people, which makes up two thirds of the total amount of oil consumed in Quebec's transport sector and of which a large portion, 83%, is used in urban settings almost exclusively by cars. Our goal is to halt the increase in the number of automobiles on our roads by promoting a 40% increase in public transit ridership, and to reduce the fuel consumption of privately owned vehicles by 17% and that of industrial and commercial vehicles by 30%. Automobiles are responsible for nearly all oil consumption used in passenger transportation. Reducing our oil dependency and contributing to the fight against greenhouse gases necessarily requires us to reduce the use of cars and reduce fuel consumption.

There are two paths to achieving our objectives. On one hand, we must come up with an efficient alternative to the use of personal cars in urban settings and, on the other hand, we must reduce the amount of fuel consumed by cars. This will obviously require considerable investment in public transit infrastructure, particularly, to establish transit-only roads, develop new lines for commuter trains, street cars and trolley buses, establish designated lanes for public transit and car pooling, all properly monitored, as well as car sharing and other initiatives. For the Montreal, Quebec City and Gatineau areas alone, these developments would require considerable investment.

It would also require regulatory changes in order to force automakers to substantially reduce the fuel consumption of automobiles. Such a measure would target a 20% reduction in the fuel consumption of all road vehicles sold in Quebec within10 years. In order to ensure that the reduced fuel consumption of new vehicles is not offset by an increase in consumption by older vehicles, this measure would have to be coupled with mandatory annual inspections of all vehicles more than five years old or having been driven more than 100,000 km.

Once again, our regulations should follow the California model rather than what is being proposed by the Bush administration in the United States or the Conservative administration in Canada.

Fifth, we recommend that the amount of oil be reduced in fuels where biofuels, despite their interesting potential, are almost non-existent. The objective of our fifth suggestion is to reduce by 5% the amount of oil consumed throughout Quebec. The Bloc Québécois, like the federal government, is recommending that current oil-based fuels have a 5% biofuel content—biodiesel and ethanol, preferably cellulosic ethanol.

Sixth, we recommend that Quebec—a leader in some areas of transportation and clean energy—become a transportation and clean energy pole primarily by increasing investment in research and development and promoting the creation of technology poles. The objective is to gain the advantage on our neighbours and to be on the cutting edge of technology when this sector really takes off.

By further consolidating our assets in such sectors as public transportation, hydroelectricity and wind power, as well as substantially increasing support for research and development in niches related to clean technologies—in which Quebec has comparative advantages—Quebec could have an enviable position in the post-petroleum era because it would be less vulnerable to oil crises and it could export leading edge technology.

Over the next 10 years, achieving the objectives and recommendations that we have just listed would benefit Quebec in many ways. Quebeckers could benefit from a 32.8% reduction in oil consumption in Quebec and a reduction of close to 50% in oil used for power generation in Quebec, which would drop from 38% to 20%. They would also benefit from a 21.5% reduction in Quebec's greenhouse gas emissions, and a savings of $3.2 million on the cost of importing oil into Quebec. These measures would also make Quebec more competitive and stimulate growth, which would, in turn, increase employment and outside investment. Quebeckers would also benefit from increased wealth and an improved balance of trade.

Let us not forget that achieving these goals would effectively reduce Quebec's greenhouse gas emissions by 7% by 2012 and by 21.5% by 2020.

Within a few years, these investments would produce significant results, particularly in terms of Quebec's balance of trade, the competitiveness of businesses here, household disposable income in Quebec, Hydro-Quebec's revenues, and employment in construction and businesses in the transportation and clean energy sectors. In short, investing to reduce our oil dependency will make Quebec richer and will generate revenue that will enable the state to cover the full cost of these investments, perhaps within as little as seven years.

It is important to understand that so far, Quebec has developed its hydroelectric generating capacity by itself with no funding from the federal government, which has contributed barely 8% to the development of wind energy. It is high time the government came up with programs that will enable us to invest in reducing our oil dependency, in helping people and in imposing the strictest possible standards for automobile manufacturing, rather than offering tax credits to help rich oil companies.

All the measures proposed by the Bloc Québécois are achievable in the short, medium and long term. Just as it is already a leader in hydroelectricity and wind energy, Quebec could be a world leader in the fight against greenhouse gases, but especially in our desire to reduce our oil dependency. Clearly, this will require an effort by the federal government.

Quebeckers can cut their oil dependency in half within 10 years, but only if the federal government does not work against us and scupper Quebec's efforts by doing nothing, as it has done in the fight against greenhouse gases.

Moreover, in accordance with the constitutional division of powers, the federal government has responsibility for taking some steps to help achieve these objectives. Consequently, the government must correct the fiscal imbalance once and for all, mainly in the form of independent revenue, which grows with the economy and inflation. It must also continue investing in transportation, in particular by rebuilding rail lines and port facilities, building transshipment facilities to support the development of intermodal transport and improving transportation networks.

In short, with federal involvement, Quebeckers could avoid once again having to foot the bill themselves for developing new energy sources.

January 30th, 2008 / 5 p.m.
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Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

I will indeed. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My question was more from an actual science position, because I have heard from these gentlemen before, as you know, and I was wondering if they, in their expertise, looking at international examples, could advise on what has worked and what has not. So from a science perspective, it was definitely appropriate, notwithstanding the muddles from the other side.

I've heard much testimony on Bill C-30 in the environment committee before, and actually I think from three of the four gentlemen here today. It's fair to say that many people want the result, the result of cutting emissions no matter what, and are prepared to do so at any price—and we heard Mr. Weaver earlier. I think it's fair to say that a lot of people have that position, and other people have the position that they want to look at the price, and whatever is reasonable we'll cut that much.

Would it be fair to say that this government has actually taken a position that is fairly moderate and is more right down the middle, with, quite frankly, the most aggressive targets in the world that I'm aware of, mandatory targets, including the ecoAUTO strategy, and so on? Would it be fair to say that this government has taken a more middle-of-the-road approach than the two extremes that I've put out as hypotheses?

Mr. Stone.

December 11th, 2007 / 4:50 p.m.
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David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

I was going to say that I recognize a lot of these overheads from Bill C-30 and was wondering how they in fact apply to the specificity of Bill C-377. Thank you for clarifying that.

Can I ask both of you to comment where Mr. Bramley left off?

Mr. Bramley, earlier the parliamentary secretary raised questions about you and about whether your fingerprints were all over this bill, as he implied they were all over Bill C-288. I think he's trying to draw a connection; I'm not sure whether he's trying to make a more pointed statement about it. But it's curious that it falls hard on the heels of the tongue-lashing that environmental NGOs received yesterday from the minister in a very public way about their being responsible for Canada's situation today.

I'd like to ask you both, though, about the comments Mr. Bramley made about science.

Mr. Bramley, you said your Case for Deep Reductions report and Bill C-377 were aligned with science, that this was a science-based approach.

Can you help us both, please, understand, in the wake of the comments made by Professor Weaver two weeks ago about the government not relying on the science—in fact, to quote him, he said he thought the government was drawing its scientific inspiration from an Ouija board.... The IPCC president said yesterday in Bali that the government is not following science, certainly not informing its negotiating position with science.

Can both of you help us understand, in the case of Bill C-377, and in the case of your overheads, Ms. Donnelly, and of your report, Mr. Bramley, is the government's climate change plan, which is the foundation we're standing upon in Bali today—the “Turning the Corner” plan—in fact informed with science, and is it based on the consensual science that now exists around the world?

December 11th, 2007 / 4:50 p.m.
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President, Greenhouse Emissions Management Consortium

Aldyen Donnelly

Yes, I put this together over the weekend—as you know, our invitation came late—though most of the slides are slides I had already submitted to the Bill C-30 committee earlier, in February this year, as a witness.

December 11th, 2007 / 4 p.m.
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Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

It depends on where the solutions are to be found. If we can find a formula that takes territories into account—or territoriality, if you prefer—as well as the sectors that have the largest emissions, and if this formula enables us to meet our overall reduction targets, we are ready to discuss it. Nevertheless, if one part of Canada meets the reduction targets proposed by this bill while other parts of the country have a four-fold increase in emissions, we will not reach our ultimate goal. However, if the committee can help us to work out an acceptable formula, we are ready to discuss it. We said the same thing about Bill C-30 and the other proposals brought before the committee weeks and months ago.

December 11th, 2007 / 3:45 p.m.
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Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Well, we would be open to that proposition. We supported Bill C-288, as you know, worked on it, and also Bill C-30. I think this suite, if you will, of pieces of legislation should be able to fit together in a way that accomplishes the goal. I think it's quite likely that coming out of Bali and those negotiations an end point of 2020 would not be a surprise, so we put a fix on that one with our 25% reduction there.

December 6th, 2007 / 4:25 p.m.
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John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

The way the process I envisage would work is that, just as Mr. Lussier has described, there would be a request to everybody to submit their names.

We accept the four chunks here, so that's all fine. My only suggestion is that when all the names have been submitted by the parties, before the invitations are sent out by Norm, there be a discussion by the steering committee just to make sure the thing is balanced, because you and Norm may not know the names as well as those who have submitted them. So if the four party representatives, including you, say okay, let's make sure we've got a nice balanced list for each of them.... Nobody's disputing what we're doing here; they're just trying to make sure this is the most efficient. And then, based on those negotiations, send out the invitations, let everybody know how it's going, and you've cut out a whole process. You can even have back-up witnesses. If A can't make it , B can make it. I just think you could do that in two hours. And we did it, as Mr. Warawa well knows, when Mr. Hawn was in the chair on Bill C-30. That's exactly what we did: we got all the stuff in, we looked at it, we did a certain amount of negotiation to make sure it was balanced, and then it was done.

That's the only time I want the steering committee involved, just to expedite the process. I have no hidden agenda here.

November 22nd, 2007 / 5 p.m.
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Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

I agree with you 100%. I think this government is well on its way.

I had the opportunity to visit Reykjavik during the polar conference in 2004. As a statistician I was shocked and left very concerned by what I saw at that conference and with these most recent reports.

When I sat on committee onBill C-30 I had the opportunity to listen to experts. They seemed to indicate that the biggest impact in Canada is going to be primarily on infrastructure and transportation, especially in our north, but along the lakes and oceans. We heard experts' evidence that indeed investments in transport and infrastructure would reduce greenhouse gas emissions towards green space. I remember one person from Quebec who gave us very good evidence that a real investment in infrastructure and transportation would mitigate the effect of climate change.

I know it's not enough, but this government has moved forward with an unprecedented amount of $33 billion to invest in infrastructure over the next seven years, because of the $126 billion that we've been left with in infrastructure deficits from the prior Liberal government.

Would you agree, Dr. Stone, that investment in infrastructure and transportation is a way to mitigate in part--not enough, but one of many fingers that can be used to help--greenhouse gas emissions, and that infrastructure and transportation will have the biggest impact for Canada overall in the short term?

November 15th, 2007 / 4 p.m.
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Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

First of all, to be clear, the reason I'm not in favour of that is I think it leads to the very thing you're afraid of, which is the repetition of conversations. In order to have the vote, then we'll have the discussion, and if we've already had the discussion in subcommittee....

The ideal was how the thing worked before, which was the casting out of a calendar, looking at the issues that had come to us all as MPs and deciding which ones were to be proposed forward. Remember that we went through that on the Bill C-30 committee and on Bill C-28. Whenever we're looking at something specific.... We'll do the same for Bill C-377, which is in front of committee, I imagine.

To then put it into the prescription that we have to then take everything back to a vote.... Is it voting on each of the witnesses? Is it voting on the order? I think the best way to do this, as people have described tangentially, is to avoid the issue of voting. As the government has admitted, if the opposition chooses to just use that in concert, then the voting system doesn't work for their favour.

The reason I had originally posed my motion was to allow a government member on the table. The reason I had prescribed not a parliamentary secretary was to avoid what we'd seen last time, which was not the only factor but I believe was a contributing factor to the partisanship.

I think we should just vote on this motion as is. I appreciate you trying to achieve some consensus, but I think we have what we have and we need to try this and look at the Bali conference and the Bill C-377 legislation, which will likely be the first two areas of concentration. Try this at least until Christmas.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

October 23rd, 2007 / 12:20 p.m.
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Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek.

I really was looking forward to the government's throne speech. The government said when it prorogued the House that it would chart a new course for this country. I expected it to live up to those words. The government prorogued this House. That is a very serious act. That turned back the clock on many bills and motions that had been worked on for months by the members of this House.

I thought that since the government took this step, it would truly have a new direction, a new course, but I was disappointed. Once again the Conservative government looked in the rear-view mirror. It missed an opportunity. It is taking Canada in the wrong direction, the wrong direction on climate change and the wrong direction for seniors, for children, for first nations and for ordinary Canadian families.

The biggest disappointment was the government's complete and utter failure to address climate change. Last spring, my colleague, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, worked hard in an all party committee to improve Bill C-30, the clean air and climate change act, so that Canada could begin to move in the right direction.

All parties agreed that Bill C-30 was going to be a good start, but the government is not even bringing it back. In fact, it is bringing back only a small portion of it even though the majority of the House agreed on the changes to Bill C-30. What arrogance. What contempt for this House the government has. Once again it has broken the trust of ordinary Canadians.

I and many others from my riding and across the country are disappointed in the government's stance on the environment because we are running out of time. Ordinary Canadians are doing their part. They are changing their light bulbs. They are conserving water. They are converting to hybrid cars. However, no matter how many of us change our light bulbs, if the government does not change course all our efforts will be futile.

The government could have made a big difference if it had implemented hard caps on large carbon emitters. That would go a long way to meeting our emission targets. It decided to go with intensity based measures instead. With the expansion of the oil sands looming on the horizon, intensity targets will do nothing to reduce Canada's emissions. When we produce more oil from the oil sands, we also will be producing more greenhouse gases.

Another opportunity was missed by the government when it came to addressing the needs of seniors. My colleague, the member for Hamilton Mountain, introduced the seniors charter last year. It was debated and passed by the House, but the government has never enacted it. The government had an opportunity in this throne speech to implement the priorities of the charter, including primary care, long term care, home care and free pharmacare and dental care. These things would all enhance the quality of life for seniors.

However, once again the government has let seniors and all Canadians down. It is another broken promise. The governmentt said it would act on what was passed by the majority of this House.

When it comes to hope and fairness for ordinary Canadians, the government has done nothing on the issue of affordable housing and homelessness. We have just seen $14 billion in federal surplus. The government has announced that this year's surplus will be twice what it had anticipated. Quelle surprise.

With all that extra money in the coffers and with all the need for housing in my communities, and in fact with nearly two million Canadians across this country who do not have what is deemed to be acceptable housing, why did the government not make it a priority to invest in a national housing strategy?

I have been to many first nations communities in my riding. The housing situation there is even worse. For example, in Port Hardy, the Gwa'Sala-Nakwaxda'xw are in dire need of acceptable shelter. They live in mouldy homes. Sometimes as many as 25 people are living in one house and three families live together in a home built for single family occupation. These are deplorable conditions and they need to be addressed immediately.

The same goes for child care. I have been talking with parents and child care workers in my riding from Port McNeill to Courtenay, and they are telling me that there is a crisis. Failure on the part of the government to address the crisis has resulted in longer wait times for child care space and increasing costs. There is up to a two years wait for a space. That means we have to register our child before it is even born.

Child care centres need reliable, long term funding to provide the kind of access that parents and their children are looking for. That is why the NDP proposed the child care act that will soon be voted on at third reading. That is the kind of solution today's families are looking for, real commitments to child care in this country.

I would like to address two things that are crucial to Vancouver Island North, two things the government mentioned in its throne speech that it would protect. It said it would stand up for forestry and fishing, but on these two files, the government has a very bad track record.

The Conservatives sold out forestry communities and forestry workers in my riding and across this country when they signed the sellout softwood agreement. Because of that agreement, it is not profitable for companies to mill logs in Canada, so they ship raw logs to the U.S. or abroad and we get to buy them back as finished lumber.

The irony is not lost on the constituents of Vancouver Island North. Our communities are surrounded by forests, yet lumber mills are closing from B.C. to Atlantic Canada as more and more raw logs and jobs leave this country. Pulp and paper mills and fibre mills are having a hard time getting fibre because there are very few sawmills left to provide it.

I introduced Motion No. 301 to curtail raw log exports and to encourage value added and manufacturing right here in Canada. The natural resources minister said he recognized that something needed to be done about the situation that is killing our resource based communities, but again, the government has failed to act. I do not call that standing up for an industry, for workers or for our communities.

The other issue that I would like to mention is that the Conservatives said they would stand up for the fishing industry, but again, they are going in the wrong direction. Last spring, they introduced Bill C-45, a new fisheries act, without consultation with fishermen, first nations or anyone from our communities. That bill has gone now because of prorogation, but why did they bring it forward in the first place? No one wanted it.

They also said that they would decentralize the DFO and have more decision making on the coasts of this country. After almost two years there has been no movement on this promise. Instead, I have to ask the government if they are trying to kill our west coast fisheries.

Just a few weeks ago an order came down from on high to cut the Chinook egg take for the entire west coast. When asked why, the Conservatives said it was due to a lack of funds, but I remember last year when I asked the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans about a budget cut, I was told that it had not been cut, so there should have been lots of money there.

Thankfully, the decision to cut this egg take and to kill the Chinook fishery was turned around, but a decision like that should never have been made in the first place.

Also, a recent barge spill in my riding in Robson Bight is causing grave concerns because the fuel tank and vehicles are on the bottom of the ocean continuing to leak oil and diesel to the surface. Environmental groups, local businesses, students and concerned people from around the world donated money to carry out an investigation. We called on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to also carry out an investigation, but the ministry waited a full two months and finally, after the environmental organizations announced that they would do carry out an investigation, the government was embarrassed and had to come forward and say it would do one too. It finally did the right thing.

These oil spills are having a devastating effect on the waters and on the salmon in the Strait of Georgia. Salmon are the canary in the coal mines of our oceans. They feed whales and people, and are a source of cultural and ceremonial significance to first nations of B.C. The health of salmon is important to the west coast and we are in danger of losing them.

Enhancement must be increased. Monitoring of sport and commercial fishing must be increased if we are to have a clear picture of what is going on off our coast.

There are many reasons not to support the direction in which the government is going. I am speaking for the thousands of Canadians in my riding who oppose this direction. I and they have little confidence--

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

October 22nd, 2007 / 1:55 p.m.
See context


Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course I would concur with my colleague that the Prime Minister has indeed lost his way, if he had ever been on the right way toward dealing with the climate change crisis.

I find it absolutely ironic that earlier in the debate, a member from the government caucus had asked about how we reform our democratic institutions. It seems to me one of the best ways to deal with democracy in the country is to act on the will of Parliament. Bill C-30 was that kind of opportunity. All parties had collaborated. We had a comprehensive bill that would tackle climate change in a meaningful way and the government decided to let that bill fall by the wayside and to introduce a watered down version that has all the right words but will not do anything to address this very serious problem that is top of mind for most Canadians.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

October 18th, 2007 / 4:55 p.m.
See context


Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his comments. I am familiar with his expertise in the subject matter, since we sat together on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. In fact, I hope we will do so again in the course of this new session.

I would nevertheless like to assure my colleague that the Liberal Party fully supports the Kyoto protocol. We must agree on that. But he already knows this, since it was our party that proposed the carbon budget that was included in Bill C-30, a bill that was passed by the committee.

Let us move on. I have a technical question for the member. A number of times now, we have heard that the government wanted to limit the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and, at the same time, create a carbon exchange. However, in order for a carbon exchange to really take root, we need absolute limits on greenhouse gas emissions, do we not? That is my first question.

My second question is this. Last week, the Globe and Mail revealed that business leaders and executives of Canada's largest companies want the government to adopt absolute limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The government clearly refuses to listen to the public or to Canada's business leaders. So, who does it listen to?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

October 17th, 2007 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec


Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured, as leader of Her Majesty's official opposition, to rise today and lead the Liberal Party of Canada in responding to the Speech from the Throne to open the second session of the 39th Parliament of Canada.

I would like to begin by congratulating the Governor General for the elegance with which she delivered the Speech from the Throne. Unfortunately, my congratulations will almost have to stop there. The meagre Speech from the Throne delivered yesterday is so vague, so full of holes and raises so many concerns that it warrants little praise.

Yet, somehow, in thinking about this a lot, I may find something relatively positive to say about the speech. It is not as bad as the one we would have heard from the Conservative Party if it had been a majority government.

As the Prime Minister's most trusted political adviser, Professor Tom Flanagan, recently described, if the Conservatives form a majority government, rural economies would be threatened by a fatal assault on supply management and the Canadian Wheat Board. Health care would be subject to an agenda of Conservative “radical reform”. One may imagine what that means.

The work of our police officers and the safety of our citizens would be threatened by the absolute dismantling of the gun registry and our environment would be neglected by those who believe that, to quote Mr. Flanagan's incredibly irresponsible statement, “global warming may threaten the planet, but it actually improves the weather in Canada”.

Canadians can count on the Liberal Party. The Conservative Party will never form a majority.

The throne speech we heard yesterday, with all of its weaknesses, has to be assessed in light of the fact that Canadians do not want another election right now. They want Parliament to do its job.

Three general elections in three and a half years, not to mention the provincial elections held recently or to be held shortly, would be too much in the eyes of Canadians.

The Prime Minister and his government may be increasingly frustrated by an opposition that prevents them from implementing their ultra-Conservative program; but we, the official opposition, are determined to make Parliament work. That is what Canadians want.

Let us look at the more positive aspects of the Speech from the Throne. It is encouraging to see that the government intends to expand the scope of the Action Plan for Official Languages, which linguistic minorities are in the bad habit of calling the Dion plan. We hope the government will keep this promise and table a robust plan that it will not have to call the Dion plan II.

But why stop there? Why not revive the court challenges program that has done so much to protect minority rights? And why not reinstate the bilingual requirement for officers of the Canadian Forces?

We are pleased to see that the government has finally decided to offer an official apology to the victims of the Indian residential schools. This does not in any way discharge the government of its obligation to right the terrible wrongs caused by its rejection of the Kelowna Accord, which delayed urgently needed measures in education, health and infrastructure, and by its refusal to sign the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We are also pleased with the government's interest in Canada's North and we support its intention to set up a world-class research station there. However, we would like to know the location of the site, the budget and the deadlines for achieving this plan.

It was high time for the government to keep its promise of mapping the Arctic seabed. It made that promise 18 months ago. We would like to know how the government intends to respect the crucial 2013 deadline to show that the continental shelf falls within Canadian territory, which our country is required to do since it ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The government also talked about expanding aerial surveillance in the North, but then why not deploy fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, as the previous Liberal government planned to do?

One may also ask why the government makes no mention of the building of small craft harbours in the Arctic, when such a measure could create jobs and increase trade and tourism in northern Canada.

And why not take a collaborative diplomatic approach to assert our interests with the Arctic Council, the only international organization of circumpolar countries, which can deal with major Arctic issues, and within which Canada must still play a leadership role?

Finally, to conclude on the North, how can one talk about the North without talking about enhancing the quality of life of its inhabitants, the quality of life of the Inuit people and services that are provided to them, particularly at a time when global warming has such a profound effect on their way of life?

In another positive point in the Speech from the Throne, we were pleased to learn that the government was committed to supporting our veterans. However, the throne speech does not contain any provision to enhance the quality of life of active members of our armed forces and their families, particularly to help them overcome the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder that often follow their deployment overseas.

We take note of the government's intention to modernize the Canadian armed forces. However, we have some concerns about the way that it wants to do so. Will the government continue with its troubling reliance on contracting without tender? Contracts of $30 billion have already been awarded in this manner.

It is good to learn that the government has decided to make a commitment toward Haiti, but it remains vague on the exact nature of this commitment. Is it financial aid for basic health care? Is it funds for reforestation? We still do not know.

Of course we applaud the decision to grant Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi honorary Canadian citizenship. This is an idea that we fully support and that our colleague from the Yukon has been promoting for months.

Let me now turn my attention to the more problematic sections of the speech, starting with the absurd expression that the Prime Minister keeps repeating. Let me tell the Prime Minister that when he argues that “Canada is back” he diminishes the fine tradition of Canadian peacekeeping and international leadership that long preceded the Conservative government's election to office.

And for that, Canadians must wonder where the Prime Minister was back when Canada obtained an international treaty banning landmines; when Canada was a main architect of the International Criminal Court; when Canadian armed forces airplanes were the only ones operating an airlift in and out of Kigali during the Rwanda genocide; when our soldiers fought to protect Bosnia's civilian population; or when Canada hosted the world in Montreal and rallied it around the Kyoto protocol.

The government's continued ambiguity on the mission in Afghanistan is also disconcerting. The government is being deliberately ambiguous about the length of the mission in Kandahar. In fact, it does not want to mention the word Kandahar. Nor does it mention the words “combat mission”. It refuses to call the Canadian mission in Kandahar what it is: a counter-insurgency combat mission in which our troops are required to proactively seek out and engage the Taliban.

The Prime Minister now wants Canadians to believe that this combat mission is a training mission. It is not. If the government wants to transform it into a training mission after February 2009, that could be an acceptable option, one that we have advocated for since last February and one that the blue ribbon panel on Afghanistan has been instructed to consider.

Still, the government should immediately notify NATO and the government of Afghanistan that our combat mission in Kandahar will end in February 2009. By refusing to do so, the government makes it more difficult to replace our troops and to prepare a new Canadian mission.

There is another question on Afghanistan. Why has the government asked the Manley panel to look at four options while the throne speech already chooses one of the four options: accelerated training of the Afghan army and police? Perhaps the Prime Minister should inform the panel that its work is done.

The mission in Afghanistan is an important one, but we cannot remain silent, as the throne speech does, on our other responsibilities around the world. Why has the Prime Minister turned his back on Africa? And what does the government intend to do in Darfur?

Beyond these international issues, we also have important domestic challenges to address. I would like to discuss the important issue of our federation, which has recently been affected by the Prime Minister's breach of trust with so many provinces.

The throne speech states that “the constitutional jurisdiction of each order of government should be respected”, but the Prime Minister should start by respecting premiers. It is inconceivable that after 19 months in office the Prime Minister of Canada has refused to call a first ministers meeting with the premiers. This is not open federalism. It is simply “my door is closed” federalism.

Hence, the Prime Minister wants to go ahead with his unilateral reform of the Senate despite the fact that many provinces have expressed serious disagreement with his proposals.

Now he is announcing that he will introduce legislation to formally limit the federal spending power. The Prime Minister should understand, however, that he must convene the premiers to discuss this most important issue. Otherwise, he would simply be guilty of more closed-door federalism.

Could I humbly suggest that the Prime Minister consult me on the issue of the federal spending power just as he consulted me before introducing the motion on the Quebec nation within Canada?

When he does, I will tell him that the federal spending power as he described it in the throne speech falls short of the present limits to that power that I myself, under the leadership of former Prime Minister Chrétien, introduced in the throne speech of 1996. More importantly, the proposed limits fall short of the social union agreement of which I was the architect.

To continue with my exercise in humility, I will add that no federal politician placed greater limits on the federal spending power than I did, but I did so without reducing its usefulness.

Let us hope that the Prime Minister's objective conforms with the spirit of the social union framework agreement; that is, to use the federal spending power as a tool both for social progress and for partnership between the governments of our great federation.

In Canada federal spending power has been instrumental in building the Canada-wide social programs that all Canadians value, such as medicare. It has been essential in promoting equality of opportunity for all Canadians, helping to ensure access to social programs and services to Canadians wherever they are in Canada.

The social union framework agreement, SUFA, recently helped to successfully negotiate the early learning and child care agreements with the provinces and territories. These agreements have, sadly, been cancelled by the Conservatives, depriving millions of children and families of billions of dollars in funding to improve their early childhood development opportunities.

We Liberals will make sure that the initiatives of the Conservative government do not in any way diminish the value of the federal spending power as a tool to promote social progress for Canadians and good partnerships between governments. We will not allow the Prime Minister to build a federalism of firewalls.

Let me also remind the government that today in Canada more than half a million of our senior citizens live in poverty. The men and women who built this country deserve better.

Today in Canada, more than one million children live in poverty. We cannot waste a generation. All of our children deserve to share in the bounty of our nation.

A plan to fight poverty is urgent and, let me tell everyone, it will be at the heart of our Liberal agenda.

Earlier, I mentioned our health care plan, which is the result of a wise use of the federal spending power. In the throne speech, the government congratulates itself—not really honestly, I might add—for the progress it made in shortening wait times. Unfortunately, we do not see any such progress. In fact, according to a recent report by the Fraser Institute, the average wait time for surgery in Canada now stands at 18.3 weeks, the longest it has ever been.

Now, I come to the economy. The Conservative government inherited an unprecedented economic dynamism thanks to the efforts of Canadians and to a decade of sound financial management by the previous Liberal government. The economy has not been in such good shape since Confederation. This is the longest growth period in decades. We have the highest growth rate of all G-8 countries with major job creation, balanced budgets, a trade surplus and a reduction of our national debt. Our country is the only one to have succeeded in putting its pension plan on a solid footing for the long term.

Over the past 19 months, the Conservative government has been content with just riding on this strong economy without having any plans or convincing scheme to enhance our economy's potential. That is what I call being near-sighted. Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that there will be no end to the current growth. The fact is that this government has done more harm than good in terms of Canada's international competitiveness. It is about to allocate $12 billion per year to cut the GST by two points, a measure that will not allow Canadians to bring more money home, does nothing to combat poverty and does not make our economy more competitive in any way.

The Conservatives' interest deductibility proposal is a frontal attack on the competitiveness of Canadian companies and has been denounced as the worst tax policy in 35 years. It will cost Canadian companies billions and will serve mainly to enrich foreign governments. The Prime Minister has not listened to common sense, but it is not too late for him to do so.

It is not the time to make such mistakes. The parity of our currency with the U.S. dollar, the uncertainty of the U.S. market, the high cost of energy, and the new powerhouses of India and China are all putting pressure on our economy and on the exporters and manufacturers that generate the jobs upon which we depend to maintain our high standard of living. Nearly 80,000 workers have lost their jobs in the manufacturing sector this year alone.

To maintain these jobs, and to enhance this standard of living well into the future, we must find ways to improve the innovation, competiveness and productivity of our businesses and workers.

The throne speech mentions infrastructure. It mentions post-secondary education. It mentions science and technology. It mentions the manufacturing, forestry, fisheries, mining, resources, tourism and agriculture sectors. But a mention is no substitute for a plan. We hope that the fall economic and fiscal update will provide clarity on how the government will improve Canada's competitiveness.

The throne speech promises tax cuts, but the government actually raised income tax rates in the lowest bracket from 15% to 15.5%. This decision costs Canadians over a billion dollars every year.

On international trade, the government did not explain why it closed consulates in key markets such as St. Petersburg, Osaka and Milan.

The government went to lengths to hide the flawed softwood lumber agreement, an agreement that cost the Canadian industry at least $1 billion, which is being put in the hands of those now using the money to sue our companies.

On the matter of criminal justice and security for Canadians, the government laments that much of its legislation did not pass. What the government always fails to mention is that for months it systematically refused Liberal offers to fast track the majority of its legislation. Of the six bills the government wants to reintroduce as part of the tackling violent crime bill, we already support five.

It is the government that obstructed the passage of these bills, causing them to die on the order paper at prorogation, and it did so to the detriment of the security of Canadians. Hopefully the government will be more cooperative in the coming session. We urge the government to stop playing politics with the Criminal Code and to stop putting partisan politics ahead of the safety of Canadians.

Further, with respect to the tackling violent crime bill, we obviously want to see exactly what the legislation will say. We could support it if includes measures that would make Canadians safer. We Liberals are tough on crime and we are tough on the causes of crime.

As for the Anti-terrorism Act, the government has not indicated what changes we can expect. We hope that this time it will be informed by the 100 recommendations made by the House and the Senate in their recent reports and that it will not renew its attempts to play politics with such an important issue.

This brings me to the most disappointing aspect of the Speech from the Throne: extremely weak environmental protection measures.

Once again, the government missed an opportunity to meet the challenge of fighting global warming, the most serious environmental threat facing humanity today.

In this Speech from the Throne, the government said that Canada's greenhouse gas emissions could not be reduced to the level required under the Kyoto protocol for the first phase of implementation, that is between 2008 and 2012. One thing is sure, with this government's so-called plan, greenhouse gas emissions are bound to continue increasing in Canada.

Let me outline the damages the Prime Minister and his government have caused to Canada.

All I need to do is sum up the Sierra Club of Canada's Kyoto report card for 2007. It explains that last year the Conservatives cut over $5 billion worth of investment in environment and climate change programs. The Sierra Club said:

Federal programs were slashed, and the importance of addressing global warming was downplayed.

An entire year was lost.

The Sierra Club goes on to say:

--Canada had a plan for reaching its Kyoto targets. This plan, Project Green...had provided a foundation for action upon which new Conservative initiatives could have been built.... Instead of improving Project Green, the new government shredded it along with its programs and its institutions, in March 2006.

This is what the government has been doing to Canada. It has spent all of 2007 trying to reannounce the programs it scrapped in 2006, changing their names and their logos with less money, less commitment, no coherence and incompetence in implementation.

This is what the Conservatives have done to Canada. Now look at what they have done to the world.

Let me again quote the Sierra Club:

The current government also inherited the presidency of the International Climate negotiations, which had been led by former environment minister [the Leader of the Opposition]. The Canadian government’s efforts at the international climate change conference in Montreal won Canada international praise.

Under the new Conservative government, Canada quickly went from hero to zero. At an international conference in Bonn, Canada attempted to sabotage the Kyoto Protocol.

It is what the Prime Minister means when he says that Canada is back.

In contrast, in 2007, the official opposition proposed an enhanced climate change plan to conquer our industrial emissions, the carbon budget. When we launched this carbon budget in March 2007, the Pembina Institute said:

This is the strongest proposal for regulating industrial greenhouse gas pollution made by any political party in Canada.

--it sets the right targets and the right timelines....

The Climate Action Network said:

This is great. It's hard to ask for much more

It is important to recognize that the other two opposition parties agreed to include this regulatory plan in Bill C-30 on air quality and climate change.

On August 23, I wrote to the Prime Minister to ask him not to scrap Bill C-30 after proroguing the House. The Prime Minister did not even deign to reply. On reading the throne speech, we can see why.

The Conservatives will only bring forward the minor parts of the clean air and climate change act, the ones they allow their members to support. As a result, the regulatory framework to cut and bring down gas emissions is gone. The regulatory framework to improve air quality is gone. The autonomous emissions standards are gone. This is a step backwards in the face of a major global challenge.

What are we left with? We are left with a government plan that has been panned by all credible experts in Canada and abroad, a climate change plan that has been panned by all the experts, like the new Nobel Prize winner, Al Gore, who called the Prime Minister's plan “a complete and total fraud, designed to mislead the Canadian people”.

The Pembina Institute, that once rated Project Green, the Liberal plan killed by the Conservatives, would have delivered almost seven times more reduction than the government's current approach.

The Deutsche Bank said, “We think that the Canadian government has materially overstated the cost of complying with Kyoto. Under current policies, we would expect Canada's industrial gas emissions to continue rising over 2006-2020".

According to the C.D. Howe Institute, with the government plan, “overall emissions in Canada are unlikely to fall below current levels” until 2050 and beyond.

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research said:

--targets set by your government are so easy to meet that oil companies could end up with a windfall of $400 million worth of easy credits.

Under the Conservative plan polluters do not pay; polluters get paid.

I could also quote the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which also harshly criticized the government's plan.

The throne speech states that national regulations to reduce emissions will be implemented this year. We do not know what the government is talking about, since its own regulations will not see the light before 2010 at the earliest. Does this mean that the government has changed its mind and will assign a monetary value to carbon in 2008?

Let us hope that the government understands that it must significantly strengthen all its initiatives to protect the environment and fight climate change.

Canadians can count on the official opposition to press the government to take action and be accountable. The government must understand that any deadline set for meeting our targets for the first phase of implementation of the Kyoto protocol, which ends in 2012, can be corrected during the second phase, after 2012. But to do that, we have to start today. That is why the government has to significantly toughen its measures to fight climate change.

The official opposition will cooperate fully with the government to help it reach real targets. Canada must remain a party to the Kyoto protocol, the only international accord to fight what is a global threat.

The official opposition certainly remains very critical of the throne speech but never before has a federal government fallen on the basis of a throne speech.

Canadians can count on the official opposition to do everything it can to make this Parliament work. To that end, we will propose amendments and we will not make the government fall on its throne speech, which would cause a third general election in four years, something Canadians have clearly shown they do not want.

The amendments we are putting forward would enable us to support the throne speech. If they are rejected, we will do as the NDP when it decided on October 16, 2006 to abstain on the vote on the softwood lumber agreement in order to avoid causing an election.

As another leader of the official opposition said some years ago, “I believe it's not in the national interest to have an election now. What has become apparent is that the Bloc Québécois and the NDP will grandstand on these things but it is up to us, our caucus, to decide whether the time has come to have an election. In our judgment and I think in Canadians' judgment it is not that time”.

Everybody will have guessed that this leader of the opposition, quoted on March 10, 2005, is our current Prime Minister when he was explaining his party's dissension to the 2005 budget.

I will now move an amendment that could even allow the official opposition to support the throne speech if it met with the approval of the House. I move:

That the motion be amended by adding the following:

and this House calls upon the government to recognize that any shortfall in meeting our 2012 Kyoto commitments would be a result of their decision to kill the previous government's innovative Project Green plan, followed by 18 months of inaction, and the government must replace its weak approach with real action to create the momentum required for Canada to catch-up in the second phase of Kyoto;

to announce now that the Canadian combat mission in Kandahar will end in February 2009 in order to facilitate a replacement, and begin discussions with NATO and the Government of Afghanistan on what non-combat role Canada can play afterwards to aid in the reconstruction of Afghanistan;

to end 18 months of inaction in the fight against poverty in Canada by building on the good work of the previous Liberal government that funded such initiatives as the Canada Child Tax Benefit, affordable housing, literacy, the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) and the Working Income Tax Benefit; and

to stop taking for granted the unprecedented strong economy and fiscal success inherited by this government from its predecessor and bring forward proposals to reduce corporate taxes and other measures that will improve the economy of Canada, especially in sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture, and lessen the impact of the government's egregious mistakes on income trusts and interest deductibility.

Motions in AmendmentAeronautics ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2007 / 1:25 p.m.
See context


Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in this debate on air safety. There is reason, though, to wonder why the government wants to rush this bill through despite its many flaws. I think that Canadians are right to be concerned. They should be seriously concerned about this bill.

It seems that people can say anything these days and get anything passed so long as it will reduce government involvement, as if that were a good thing in itself, without any care for the consequences. In this case, the consequences are very serious because public safety is at stake. That is something the government has apparently forgotten. It would rather worry about the profits of the big corporations than the safety of the general public. We should wonder, though, what the effects will be on public safety.

Canada has often been recognized—as other hon. members have said—as a leader in the field of public safety. There is an expression that when something is finally perfect, people often want to start changing it. In this case too, I have the feeling that the changes are for the worse.

This morning, my hon. colleague, our transport critic, who has done a lot of work on this, compared what happened in the railway system with what could happen in the airline industry if the government’s proposed amendments are passed.

In British Columbia where I come from, there have been many accidents, sometimes virtually weekly, on the railways. We know that these accidents started to increase after the safety system was simply handed over to the companies. The government more or less just offloaded its responsibilities.

The law that is proposed in Bill C-6 contains many flaws. The policy issue that is important to note is that this will have impact on Canadians who travel by air. The financial bottom lines of Air Canada, WestJet and others have been preferred and that is going to be the factor in setting safety levels in the sky.

Transport Canada will be relegated to a more distant role as a general overseer of safety management systems. That is why I asked, with the government saying it is going to reduce government intervention, is that in itself a good thing when public security is being sidelined for commercial interests?

Let us talk a bit about the impacts of Bill C-6. It seems to enshrine the safety management systems which allow industries to decide the level of risk they are willing to accept, tolerable levels of risk in their operations, rather than abide by the level of safety established by the minister acting in the public interest. Safety management systems allow the government to transfer increasing responsibility to the industry itself to set and enforce its own safety standards.

The government seems to think that because it says something it makes it true. We have seen that all too often in the way the government has acted on accountability and in the way it has acted on Bill C-30 in tackling environmental issues. The government takes half measures and proclaims it has acted in the interest of public. Canadians are not fooled by this kind of talk.

The bill does not exempt whistleblowers. A worker who identifies a problem, for example, a loose wing nut, and I will not talk about the kinds of wing nuts, reports it and no action is taken, he or she will be silenced. That is a problem with what the government has proposed.

Furthermore, the government would like us to think that companies will automatically report any problems to the public. Any of us who have negotiated with the private sector knows there are many financial interests to protect. The private sector is very guarded in anything that will affect its financial bottom line. I fear very much for transparency, for what Canadians will find out about some of the problems that can occur.

While the NDP agreed to an amendment in the transportation committee, which emphasizes reduction of risk to the lowest possible level rather than tolerating risk, we are still concerned about the delegation of safety to corporations. Acting in the public interest is still, as I see it, the responsibility of the government. It is not the responsibility of corporations. Their responsibility is to make money. By giving that responsibility over to corporations, the government is abdicating its own responsibilities.

Adequate safety costs money. Safety management systems will foster a tendency to cut corners in a very competitive aviation market racked with high fuel prices. What will happen to safety when the need to make a profit and save money is paramount? I do not think the bill adds to that and it does not answer that question adequately.

I will close by asking one last question. What happened to the government's responsibility to protect public interest?