Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak today in support of the member for Winnipeg Centre and her bill, Bill C-232, which would guarantee all Canadians the right to a clean, safe, healthy environment and would provide for a climate emergency action framework, a tool for accountability for those most impacted by climate change.
This is a critical framework for all transformative climate action policies, including a green new deal, and it would ensure we uphold our responsibilities toward future generations. The bill explicitly outlines the critical importance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to Canada's climate response, and would require the government to consult meaningfully with indigenous peoples and communities and civil society.
The NDP has a long history of calling for accountability on the climate crisis, leading the way with Jack Layton's climate change accountability act in 2006. Jack's bill passed in the House, but was killed by the unelected Senate.
We have also been long calling for the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and for upholding the right to free, prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples. In particular, I want to recognize the work of former MP Romeo Saganash in bringing forward legislation on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the House of Commons, as well as the work of my colleague, the member for Winnipeg Centre. It is because of their work and the work of indigenous and grassroots organizers from coast to coast to coast that we saw an important step forward this week with the tabling of a government bill on the declaration.
New Democrats have also long called for the right to a healthy environment to be enshrined in law, and the bill continues and builds on that critical work to uphold human rights.
The climate emergency poses a serious threat to our environment, to our economy and to our health and safety, and Canadians are tired of governments committing to targets and then missing them again and again. We are running out of time. We are not on track to meet our international climate obligations. We need an action plan that honours our international climate commitments and obligations. We need an action plan that addresses the urgency of the climate crisis, and we need to ground that plan and that action in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Liberals have acknowledged the climate emergency, but their current plan in no way will achieve our international commitments. The Prime Minister claims to be a climate leader, but he keeps handing out billions of dollars to fossil fuel companies. He declared a climate emergency and then, the very next day, approved and bought a pipeline.
The government recently introduced Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero accountability act. The Liberals' bill is a step in the right direction, but it would not adequately ensure that we are doing everything we can to address the climate crisis. They promised five-year milestone targets but then left out 2025, so there is no real accountability measure for the next 10 years even though we know the next decade is the most critical. The accountability mechanisms in the Liberals' bill, including the advisory committee, are weak and they rely on the environment commissioner, whose office is already underfunded.
It is important that any legislation on accountability is paired with significant investments in a just and sustainable recovery plan that will support workers, families and communities with training and good jobs, creating a more affordable life while tackling the climate crisis.
There is no climate accountability without climate action. Despite some nice words about a green recovery, the Prime Minister has just rehashed his inadequate climate plan from last year's campaign, while many countries like Germany and France are releasing bold plans to kick-start a sustainable economy and a sustainable recovery. Even President-elect Joe Biden announced a $2-trillion economic stimulus plan, heavily focused on climate-related investments.
Far from being a climate leader, Canada is being left behind. We need a just transition to a low-carbon economy that brings workers along. We need to stop handing out billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies and, instead, invest in a sustainable economy that will create good, family-sustaining jobs across the country.
There are a ton of gaps in the government's bill, Bill C-12. One critical gap is that it mentions the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but the bill is not actually grounded in a framework of upholding these rights and also in upholding the right to a healthy environment.
The impacts of the climate crisis are already being felt in Canada, particularly in the Arctic and along the coast, and are disproportionately impacting indigenous nations, rural communities, marginalized and racialized communities. We know that extreme weather events are continuing to worsen and are creating conditions where the occurrence of intense wildfires, flooding, droughts and heat waves are increasing both in frequency and in intensity. Indigenous and northern communities, farmers and food producers and others have been sounding the alarm about the impacts of climate change on our ecosystems.
The climate emergency is threatening our food security. It is threatening indigenous peoples across Canada, and they often are the most impacted.
Indigenous peoples are among the most impacted by the climate emergency, including disrupting traditional ways of life and food security, especially in the north, which we know is warming at a much faster rate. This has driven up the cost for imported food alternatives, leaving individuals with only being able to afford unhealthy food options, which contributes to greater food security and negative impacts on health, which can have a vicious cycle effect. The climate emergency has significantly impacted the traditional territories of indigenous peoples and, in turn, has impacted their livelihoods.
The national inquiry has also noted an increased rate of violence against indigenous women and girls by workers who are being housed in extractive industry work camps. The severity of this crisis was confirmed in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls with a need to act within the calls for justice.
Risks to indigenous nations increase with the severity of the global climate emergency and indigenous people have experienced the impacts of the climate crisis for generations and are most often the ones on the front lines, fighting for the protection of lands and resources. Indigenous science and knowledge provides a complex understanding about how to address the climate crisis and it is critical for developing a climate emergency action framework.
Canada's nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples must be respected under the framework, among others, of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Liberals say that they support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but they have failed to engage meaningfully in consultation with indigenous peoples and accommodate the concerns raised across Canada, including failing to obtain free, prior and informed consent.
Reconciliation and environmental justice must go hand in hand or, as my colleague said in her speech, there is no reconciliation without justice. There is now a widespread consensus that human rights norms apply to environmental issues, including the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The lack of a legal right to a healthy environment has a direct impact on indigenous and racialized communities in Canada and people from coast to coast to coast. More than 150 countries in the world have recognized that particular human right and it is time for Canada to step up to follow their lead.
The NDP is calling on the government to live up to our international obligations, including the United Nations convention on climate change, the Paris agreement and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to recognize the right to a healthy environment as a human right.
The New Democrats want to move forward with a green new deal that supports the human rights of all people, while investing in a just and sustainable recovery that brings workers along. Bill C-232 would provide a clear path forward by calling on the Government of Canada to take all measures necessary to address the climate emergency. For the first time, the right to a clean, healthy and safe environment would be enshrined in law. The government would be accountable for implementing a climate action emergency framework that would respect human rights and this framework would save lives, mitigate the impacts of the climate emergency on public health and the natural environment.
This would be an important and transformative step to uphold fundamental human rights and protect a healthy environment for future generations.