Mr. Speaker, this debate gives us a golden opportunity to remind Canadians of the disastrous effects the Conservative government's policies are having on the economy.
Bill C-28 is barely getting any reaction from the Liberal Party of Canada, but that is nothing new. I must admit that as a new member in this House, it is a wonder to me to see how—and my colleague from Toronto just talked about this—some people who are close to the Liberal Party of Canada have managed to pass themselves off as being concerned about poverty and food banks. In fact, the Conservative government is currently granting tax reductions and giving big gifts to the oil companies and the banks. But Liberal members are doing nothing.
If the current government manages to force the passage of Bill C-28 before Christmas by virtue of its seat count, then we will miss out on quite the show. The leader of the Liberal Party of Canada has publicly said that he wants to make sure Canadians understand that, after the holidays, the fun will be over, that he will prove the skeptics wrong, that we will have to hold him back or he might hurt the Conservative Party. What we have seen instead this fall is a Liberal Party of Canada that is keeping the Conservatives in power.
I would like to say a few words about what that means. Before becoming a minister in Quebec for a number of years, I was part of the opposition for nine years. I know what it is like to be in the opposition. The job of the opposition is to do two things: make the government accountable, in other words, be the public's conscience and ask the right questions, but at the same, hope that our policies will one day lead us to power. In other words, it is our job to be a government in waiting.
In the NDP, we have clear policies and we are absolutely ready to be in power. Just look at the depth of talent on the NDP benches in this House. We are a political party with a great number of people who have extensive experience in public administration. It is absolutely extraordinary to see the Liberal members sitting on their hands when they could be defeating the Conservative government if they voted just once with us. But they will not. Why? I guess they must be happy enough with the Conservatives' policies or they would be helping us defeat them.
Day after day, they criticize Conservative policies during question period, and at the end of the day, when the time comes to vote against the Conservatives, the Liberal Party drops the ball. It does not have the political courage to stand up and vote. Last night, we witnessed an unprecedented spectacle in this House during the vote on Bill C-28, which is now before us. This is the Conservatives' Christmas bill, their $14 billion gift to oil companies and banks. Some Liberal members showed up to vote against it because the infamous Atlantic accord was part of this bill.
How many of them showed up? Ten or so. Not even enough to form a party in Parliament. The so-called official opposition can no longer call itself a recognized party in Parliament because the members of the official opposition no longer even show up to vote. They are afraid they might defeat the government on what might be considered a matter of confidence.
People who made the mistake of voting for the Liberal Party of Canada are really questioning that decision. The members of the NDP are telling people to take a good look at our policies and who we are. When I look at my colleagues who were once ministers in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario or, in my case, Quebec, people with a great deal of experience in education, industry, their churches and their communities, I realize that the NDP possesses the kind of wealth and social vision to do a good job of running a government that would renew Canada's reputation as a peacekeeper, international cooperator and environmental steward.
What do we have instead? We have a Conservative government that is embarrassing Canada internationally and that drew us into the quagmire of war in southern Afghanistan. Only the NDP has adopted a clear position against the war in Afghanistan, in favour of the withdrawal of our troops and a comprehensive, stable process for the development and maintenance of lasting peace in Afghanistan.
The Conservatives are embarrassing Canada on the world stage by not trying to achieve an objective that is supposedly shared by all political parties, that is, committing 0.7% of our gross domestic product to foreign aid. In that regard, they are the worst government in the history of Canada since the 0.7% objective was adopted. We are farther than ever from that objective, which is so crucial if we want to help our fellow human beings around the globe.
We need look no further than the conference currently under way in Bali, Indonesia, to understand just how much the Conservatives are embarrassing us. We sent our pitiful Minister of the Environment there to embarrass us. It is bad enough to have to watch his buffoonery here every day when he gets up and talks about a file on which he clearly has not done the least bit of work. He reads quotations and spews nonsense of that nature, when what Canadians really want to know is what will be done to fulfill our obligations to future generations.
Those who have the opportunity should go to McGill University to meet the extraordinary people who work at the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law. These people understand that sustainable development is not just a slogan invented over the past few decades. Sustainable development is a legal obligation we have towards future generations.
Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol five years ago, even though this protocol is celebrating its 10th anniversary today. Because Canada ratified it five years ago, it is part of Canada's domestic law. The Kyoto protocol is an international obligation, but it is an integral part of our law, which means that it is a legal obligation.
The Conservative government prides itself on respecting law and order. Yet this law and order government is becoming irresponsible and even an international outlaw because of its disrespectful behaviour toward future generations. It is casting a shadow over a generation of Canadians who have worked hard to earn our country the utmost respect of the international community when it comes to the environment.
I know that whenever the Kyoto protocol comes up, the Conservatives inevitably point to the seats opposite them and say it is the Liberals' fault, because they did nothing for 13 years. We agree, and we will always agree that the Liberals did nothing. On the contrary, instead of meeting the Kyoto target, which is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 6% compared to 1990 levels, the Liberals saw emissions increase by 33% in the 13 years they were in power. This is shameful, and it is the worst performance in the world.
Eddie Goldenberg, the former Prime Minister 's chief of staff, was kind enough to remind us, during a recent presentation to the London Chamber of Commerce in Ontario, that when the Liberals signed the Kyoto protocol, it was purely because of public opinion. He said that it was to galvanize public opinion. Eddie Goldenberg is admitting that, as was the case with the Kelowna Accord and all other Liberal measures, their actions were exercises in public relations.
This is why the NDP now has such support in Quebec and the other provinces. Citizens realize that the Liberal Party of Canada is but an empty shell, a creature of the 1960s designed to keep Quebec in its place and now being superseded by political parties that understand that what is truly important in life is to look after our neighbours and our society, and that we have to look after our planet.
That is the NDP vision. Unlike the Liberals who have never looked after these interests, unlike the Conservatives who do not wish to do so, and unlike the Bloc who cannot, the NDP is the only political party with representation throughout Canada, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, that speaks to Canadians about real issues.
One of the nicest compliments I received in the recent byelection in Outremont was from someone living at Father Dowd Memorial Home. After my presentation, a severely handicapped gentleman beckoned to me and said something that touched me deeply. He said that it was the first time that a federal candidate had come there and spoken about human beings rather than about the Constitution, or disputes, or differences that too often are the subject of debate in Quebec.
Like those voting in the Outremont byelection, many Quebeckers have realized that the NDP is the only credible party in the House of Commons speaking for peace, the only credible party speaking out against war in Afghanistan, and the only party standing up for the environment. Our leader has a great deal of experience in environmental issues. This very afternoon, he is introducing an important bill that has received support not only from David Suzuki, but also from the Pembina Institute. This bill would put us on the path toward real greenhouse gas reductions so that we can respect the right of future generations to experience the same standard of living, the same quality of life and the same living environment we have experienced. That is what the NDP is all about. We are a political organization that puts people first, unlike the Conservatives.
This brings me back to Bill C-28, which is before us today. The primary goal of this bill is to use State moneys for their intended purpose, that is, to help people, to help with infrastructure, and to help create programs for people. We want to give that money to people. Who do the Conservatives want to give that money to? They want to give it to big oil companies and banks.
The outcome of all this is bizarre because the overheated oil industry pushed the value of the loonie up. Such a high Canadian dollar is making it very hard to export products. As a result, people across Canada are losing their jobs. Many people in New Brunswick and Quebec who work for Shermag have recently lost their jobs. This is not because the company is badly managed. In fact, it is an outstanding company that makes quality products. The Conservative government does not seem to understand that. It has destabilized Canada's relatively stable economy made up of primary resource sectors, processing sectors, a manufacturing sector and, of course, an oil sector based mainly in the west. There was wealth, but there was also balance.
The Conservatives are in the process of killing the manufacturing sector, getting rid of not just workers, which is bad enough. Because of this, many families will have to do without come Christmastime. This is primarily because the Conservatives could not care less about people's lives. They are not interested in helping people. Their only motivation is an economic dogma that has convinced them, even if they are wrong, that the last thing a government should do is get involved in the economy. But by proposing tax cuts, regardless of the size of the business or profits, they are, in fact, getting involved in the economy. Some oil companies in the west would get $40, $50 or even $60 million presents all at once.
These businesses, in western Canada, will earn even more in the oil sector. This will create a greater imbalance in our economy and will destabilize us even more. It will push the dollar even higher, which will cause an even greater drain on the manufactured goods sector of the economy, the industrial sector, particularly in the east, in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
These are good jobs being lost, and the Conservative government does not care at all. It does not care because it does not believe that the government should get involved, any more than it believes the government should get involved in the environment. There are important things to be done with a little vision.
There was a press conference today with the leader of the NDP and Daniel Breton, who is the president of the Coalition Québeckyoto. Daniel Breton is a visionary.
Today, he drew a comparison to what Quebec managed to do in the 1960s, when it decided to be the master of its own destiny. This operation in Quebec, which was called, “Maîtres chez nous”, was decried, castigated and criticized. Some predicted the worst, that this would fail. Some 40 years later, where are we now? We have Hydro-Québec, a government corporation that is a world model of good management. Quebec will be able to produce 4,000 megawatts—or 4,000 times a million watts—thanks to wind energy, now that these projects are being built or have been approved and are going through.
This is clean and renewable energy. With a little vision, a little self-confidence, we could do the same across Canada. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have absolutely no self-confidence and they certainly have no vision. They do not believe for an instant that the government can play a role in this.
This makes me think that if the Conservatives had been in power in Europe during the planning of the high-speed trains, which now crisscross Europe at 300 km an hour, they never would have been built. This required vision and confidence in the fact that government has a role to play and can be a driving force in achieving these big projects.
If our government here in Ottawa had just a bit of vision, Canada could become a world leader in clean and renewable energy. In remote villages the woods were cut a long time ago, but a tremendous amount of forest biomass was left behind. In fact, tens of millions of tonnes of forest biomass was left to slowly release carbon. Instead of allowing that to continue, imagine using infrastructure already in place, namely the roads and bridges that are already built, to transport this forest biomass to what would become a methanol production plant.
We can use ethanol, we can produce wind energy, we can use hydraulic power and wind power to produce hydrogen. We could become a world leader in hydrogen energy, which is clean energy and is renewable for future generations. But no, we are digging up the oil sands. We are in the process of using relatively clean fossil energy, namely natural gas, to melt the sand and extract, at a high environmental cost, the bitumen contained in the oil sands of western Canada. It is outrageous. It is the antithesis of sustainable development. It is absolutely not sustainable. This cannot last long, but such is the Conservative government: it does not believe in the future.
We in the NDP have a vision for the future, a vision that takes into account our primary, unending and inescapable responsibility towards future generations. And we will do everything we can to meet those expectations. We will oppose this government and its far right plans. We will oppose the war in Afghanistan and we are the only ones who oppose it.
Indeed, the Bloc Québécois supports the Conservative government regarding the war in southern Afghanistan until 2009. Its members are still unable to explain why it will suddenly be a bad war in 2009, yet it is not a bad war right now. The Bloc Québécois owes an explanation to voters. Bloc members had a very hard time explaining this in Outremont.
The Liberals are responsible for the debacle in Afghanistan and they are also responsible for the worst performance in the world when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. They too have some explaining to do to voters.The Conservatives, on the other hand, who incessantly hide behind Liberal negligence and incompetence, will have to explain themselves to future generations.
They must stop hiding behind the Liberals to make excuses. They must stop hiding behind the United States, China, India and Brazil and trying to justify the unjustifiable regarding how the oil sands are being developed in the west. It is starting to have a destabilizing effect on our economy and even on the planet. And this government is the primary driving force. We, on the other hand, will do all we can to propose a vision of the future, a vision of hope, a vision that takes into account our obligations towards future generations.