An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

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 the Minister of Natural Resources with prescribed information respecting the shipment or importation of energy-using products;

(d) provide for the authority to prescribe as energy-using products manufactured products, or classes of manufactured products, that affect or control energy consumption;

(e) broaden the scope of the labelling provisions; and

(f) broaden the scope of the Minister’s report.

Elsewhere

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

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2009 / 10:15 a.m.
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Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the first part of my remarks, I commented that the government has laboured mightily and given birth to a mouse in the form of this energy efficiency bill, Bill S-3. Even though we are in agreement with the bill and will be voting in favour of that mouse, we would have much preferred to vote for something far larger like an elephant. Yesterday I listed everything that this little bill contained and today I would like to speak about what it does not contain.

This bill contains nothing about buildings, yet Canadian buildings consume 45% of all of the energy used in this country. I will come back to that later. It contains nothing to do with transport, trucking in particular, a sector that has been long neglected but is now reawakening thanks to the introduction of hybrid and economical diesel trucks. Yet there is nothing in the bill about this. Nor any mention of the EcoLogo symbol. There should be a program to replace these vehicles with fuel efficient trucks, but we do not get the impression that the government intends to do that.

When we speak of transport, we also need to speak about reducing the number of truckers who are not using their full capacity. The federal government did a study. In a city like Montreal, trucks are on the road with only 20% of their potential load, and this represents an incredible waste of energy. There needs to be rationalization of energy efficiency in this area.

The same goes for trains. Hybrid locomotives and lighter cars are now available and there could be a replacement program, or at least an examination of energy efficiency, which would demonstrate just how far behind rail service is in the way it uses its cars on the same rails. Our archaic laws require passenger cars to be as heavy as freight cars. The situation in Europe, China and Japan is totally different. Their attitude is different. This all shows the lack of concern for energy efficiency.

The same goes for agriculture. This bill ought to encourage the change from synthetic fertilizers to traditional ones. But once again, nothing on that. Energy efficiency also means having digesters on farms to produce electricity. Nothing in the bill on that. Nothing about mandatory labelling. All motor vehicles should have ecoEnergy labels, but no; in fact, no mention of anything of consequence.

The manufacturing sector has also been left out entirely. There is no incentive for the sector to improve energy efficiency or avoid wasting energy. There are very few efficient assembly lines, and they use a lot of energy.

Street lighting would also have been a good thing to tackle in this bill. In Canada, we use some three times more electricity for night-time lighting than in Europe, and we use about twice as much as the United States, our neighbours to the south. Our systems are utterly inefficient, which means that we waste a lot of electricity. Anyone taking a walk at night will see high-intensity stadium and park lights on all night. These lights are poorly designed and light up the sky more than they do the area that needs to be lit. For example, the Mont-Mégantic Observatory, which is struggling with government funding shortfalls just now, has shown just how much electricity and energy could be saved by using more efficient lighting that directs the light downward rather than toward the sky.

So much energy could be saved by using better street lights, but the legislation does not even touch that. I do not believe that the government actually wants to change anything.

If the legislation had touched on all of these sectors, we could have made huge energy efficiency gains.

What can the government achieve by reviewing American and Mexican standards regularly? Not much. We know that energy efficiency standards in those two countries are not exactly cutting-edge.

Why not choose Europe, Germany, Sweden or Japan instead? No, the government wants to compare us to our next-door neighbours, even though almost nothing is going on there on the energy efficiency front, especially not in Mexico. The government chose the easiest targets, and the Office of Energy Efficiency will be comparing us to them every three months or every three years, as it sees fit, but that is as far as it will go.

The government will also periodically review the outcomes of the Energy Efficiency Act. Under this bill, nobody will be reviewing energy efficiency progress in Canada; rather, the government will simply check on any progress brought about by the legislation. If this bill is a mouse, well, every now and then, the government will make sure it is still alive. That is all.

All the other aspects of energy efficiency that are not affected by this bill will never be checked. We will never see whether any progress has been made in these areas or whether we have lost ground.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions depends on energy efficiency. The government says it is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% between 2006 and 2020. In fact, as far back as 1990, the harmful effects of greenhouse gases were known and real efforts were made to reduce them. Yet if we look at the figures since 1990, we can see that greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 3% by 2020. The government talks about reducing emissions, but we will not even manage to reduce our emissions to 1990 levels. We will not even get back to those levels.

The current government clearly has no intention to save the planet, which is grappling with climate change. That is not the government's goal. Yet American presidents like Reagan who were not inclined to take steps to improve energy efficiency still managed to reduce fuel consumption in the United States by 15%. Fifteen per cent of what all cars and trucks used is a lot, and the government accomplished that simply by reducing the speed limit.

This bill could have imposed a mandatory speed control device, as this comes under federal jurisdiction. I know that the speed limit on highways comes under provincial jurisdiction, but the federal government could have required that all cars sold in Canada be equipped with a speed control device.

These devices were developed for trucks, and they work quite well. It would even have been possible to reduce the number of police officers required to watch for speeders. People would have been forced to comply with speed limits.

I have not yet talked about a very important area, and that is air conditioning in Canada. In the afternoon, we freeze in this House. The thermostat is at 15oC. Yesterday, I checked, and the temperature at my desk was 69oF. We use air conditioning too much, in a country that has very little need for it. In Canada, buildings using hybrid ventilation have won awards. A hybrid system uses air conditioning only during heat waves, when it is extremely hot. This is familiar technology.

The rest of the time, air ventilation either comes from a cooler area, or the air is simply circulated using fans. With fans, we can go up to 89oF. I apologize for giving the temperature in Fahrenheit, but the engineers here always use Fahrenheit. We are right next to the United States, so there is still a tendency to use it.

Comfort is very important and we can find a way to be very comfortable.

In short, this bill aims to update the Office of Energy Efficiency regulations and standards. It is not an energy efficiency act. There is a difference between the two. The standards have been updated, but new legislation has not been created—even though it is being called the energy efficiency act—which would have made more significant changes.

Thousands of scientific articles have been written on energy efficiency and possible ways of reducing overall energy consumption. I would like to read just a few lines from an article that appeared in the Université de Sherbrooke's VECTEUR environnement. It states:

There are numerous strategies that contribute—not “would contribute”—to reducing a building's energy consumption—thereby reducing greenhouse gases—for instance, the use of energy-efficient lighting products, geothermal power, high-performance boilers, centralized control systems, improving the building envelope by insulating the walls and the roof and by installing energy-efficient windows (argon gas filled, low-E coating, low conductivity spacers), etc.

It says “etc.” So as we can see, it is not a question of not knowing how; rather it is a lack of will on the part of the government.

Energy efficiency has a significant environmental impact on climate change by reducing greenhouse gases. We are a long way from reaching our goals in order to meet the commitments we made in 1998. Action is urgently needed in terms of reviewing our building codes and reassessing how we do things in terms of energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2009 / 10:25 a.m.
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Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi on his very informative speech. We know that, not so long ago, he was an architect specializing in the environment and energy conservation. Thus, we are pleased in this House to benefit from his experience.

Bill S-3 definitely has very little impact on energy efficiency. I would like to ask the member a question. Does he believe that the Conservative government really wants to improve energy efficiency or is Bill S-3 just a means of silencing those, such as the member, who are truly concerned about energy efficiency, in order to someday conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2009 / 10:35 a.m.
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Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act.

My colleague from Brome—Missisquoi gave a very fine speech, and the Bloc Québécois will support this bill. However, even though the government presents it as a fight for better energy efficiency, this bill has only eight clauses and three pages, not including the cover pages. The government, especially the Conservative government, tends to exaggerate this fight against climate change.

My colleague compared this bill to a mouse. I would say it is a lead balloon. Obviously, it provides us with an opportunity to initiate a real debate on energy efficiency. My colleague from Brome—Missisquoi tried to show that the government could wage a real battle and set an example by increasing its own energy efficiency if it wanted to, but it has not done so. I will therefore read my text, which describes the scope of the debate.

It seems at first glance that the proposed changes to the Energy Efficiency Act are an improvement because they target unregulated products and toughen the standards for other products.

It is impossible to know, though, whether this is real progress or just the updating of standards already regularly done by the Agence de l'efficacité énergétique.

That is the problem: the government has overstated the impact of this bill to amend the Energy Efficiency Act. All it is doing is updating energy efficiency standards for companies and suppliers that had already begun updating their standards in other countries. It is important that we have a clear understanding of the government's role.

The reaction by industry representatives is understandable:

Industry greeted the proposed regulations with a shrug. A spokeswoman from Sony Canada said they would have little bearing on the company’s line of consumer electronics. “All Sony televisions consume less than one watt of power in standby mode, and Sony is continually developing innovative technologies that improve the energy efficiency of our products,” Candice Hayman said in an e-mail.

This bill also upgrades the standards, to try to achieve a balance that is consistent with the requirements that are increasingly gaining global recognition. This is important. There are Conservative members, as we have just seen, who rise in this House to defend the oil sands, job creation, their contribution to pension plans, and so on. But it has to be said that the Conservative Party supports non-renewable energy and oil. We understand that this creates a lot of jobs in Alberta, but we must never forget that Quebec is the only province of Canada that could have achieved the objectives in the Kyoto protocol. It would have participated in a carbon exchange that is already operating.

Together with the leader of the Bloc Québécois, I attended a meeting with the mayor of Rivière-du-Loup, which could have sold credits on the international market by capturing gas on its landfill site after it closed. He went to the effort of calling the European and American exchanges to tell them he would have credits to sell by capturing carbon and reducing his greenhouse gas emissions. He was told that Canada was not a signatory and was not in compliance with the Kyoto protocol. And so no Canadian company can participate in the European and American carbon exchanges.

This is very difficult to understand. We must never forget that Quebec’s hydroelectric development was carried out without any money from the federal government. Those are the facts. Quebec’s hydroelectric development was paid for entirely by Quebeckers. The federal government contributed nothing, not a penny, to Quebec. And yet it has contributed billions of dollars for oil development in Canada; we need only think of Hibernia or the oil sands. Even though Quebec developed its own hydroelectric network with no federal contribution, Quebec paid 25% of the bill for the oil developments.

Today, we are told that Quebec does not understand the situation. On the contrary; it understands the situation all too well. If Quebec were a country, it could sell credits on the international carbon exchange, and that would benefit its businesses, particularly paper and aluminum mills. Those industries have significantly reduced their greenhouse gas emissions as compared to 1990, the Kyoto protocol base year.

Quebeckers, and especially the Bloc Québécois, which represents Quebec’s interests every week and every day and stands up for the interests of Quebeckers in this House, cannot be blamed for this. Quebec is a society that wants to be a green society. It is open to any green innovation anywhere in the world. Canada, on the other hand, is still bogged down in the oil sands. The oil sands project is currently the biggest polluter in the world. I understand that they want to work on it, they are trying to make efforts and the federal government is offering financial assistance to oil companies in the oil sands to try to make them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. That is fine. The problem is that during all this time, Quebec is paying 25% of the bill.

Quebec is developing its hydroelectric network and its wind network at its own expense. The wind network gets a contribution of about 5% to 10% from the federal government. But when it comes to hydroelectricity, the costs are paid entirely by the people of Quebec, through their taxes, their income taxes and the electricity charges they pay every month. Those are the facts.

There are two concepts in Canada. First, there is Quebec's concept, which is one of clean, green energy. Quebec is prepared to meet the Kyoto standard and the post-Kyoto standard. Then there is the rest of Canada's, which is not prepared and relies a lot on non-renewable energy. That is the reality. People can try, as the Conservative Party is doing, to introduce and support bills likeS-3. The government can try to tell us they are fighting hard for energy efficiency. They say they want to be more and more energy efficient, but in reality they are just serving up ideas developed in other countries. Canada is always trailing along behind other countries.

According to what the new American government says, even the United States wants to go green. Canada will be the only delinquent left in the world. That is the reality. Canada leads the list of polluting countries thanks to its tar sands, which are the most polluting industry in the world.

Instead of stridently defending this industry, they should be encouraging Quebec and investing as much as possible there. At least Quebec is close to achieving all the targets. They should invest as much money as necessary to make Quebec an example to the world. What they are doing instead is making the tar sands an example to the world. Nobody is fooled by that. There are big stories in international magazines showing that the tar sands are clearly the dirtiest industry in the world.

The Conservatives would do well to listen to the Bloc rather than stridently opposing it. We agree with Bill S-3 but have a much broader view of the situation. If they want to fight for energy efficiency, they have to start be setting an example. My colleague from Brome—Missisquoi just gave some examples and my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles also had some fine things to say. He eloquently defended the rights of workers in the automobile sector.

Quebec industries like Kenworth and Nova Bus specialize in building hybrid trucks and buses. But when the government signs contracts for army trucks, it chooses foreign companies. Companies from Quebec and Canada do not get these contracts. We have oil, and so they fall back on conventional ideas and vehicles that consume a lot of energy rather than requiring hybrids. They could, however, have used this opportunity to set an example rather than to sell oil and gas to the army to operate its equipment.

They will always be able to sell oil, but this is a non-renewable industry. It always surprises me to see the hon. members from the west rise to defend the tar sands. They do not understand that some day there will be nothing left. This is non-renewable energy. They are trying to tell us today that this industry is keeping Canada alive. I hope they will be broad-minded enough to realize that there will not be any more oil in 35 or 40 years. They will not have this money any more and will have to find something else. Maybe they will be proud to see that Quebec has new ideas that can help them develop their economy. In the meantime, the government is not investing in hydroelectricity and is leaving Quebec to its own devices. We hope that by then Quebec will be a country that can negotiate equal to equal with the rest of Canada over all the outstanding innovations and technologies we have developed.

The reality is that there are two philosophies in Canada, namely the philosophy of Quebec, which is focused on a green environment, and the philosophy of the rest of Canada, which is based on non-renewable energies such as oil and nuclear energy. They would even have us believe that nuclear energy is clean energy, when they cannot even find a dumping ground for nuclear waste and are considering burying it in Quebec. The fact is that Quebec could shut down its only nuclear facility tomorrow morning. Canada is trying to keep it in operation so that the Conservatives can say that part of all the money they spend in the energy sector they are actually investing in Quebec.

There is nothing for hydroelectricity and only crumbs for wind energy. The Conservative government is investing only in oil and nuclear energy. In Quebec, we simply do not need that. We could shut down our only nuclear plant tomorrow morning, and that would not even affect Quebec's energy capacity. Using our money, we were able to develop a new way to meet our energy needs, and that way is the way of the future. The hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi was absolutely right when he said that the Conservatives and the Liberals, including the Liberal leader, are stridently defending tar sands development. They are looking in the rear-view mirror to see what lies ahead. Instead, they should be looking through the windshield, because it is a good way to avoid accidents. This may explain why the Conservatives are having such a hard time these days. They are looking in the rear-view mirror to see what lies ahead, and run into a problem almost every week.

I find it amusing, because even though there are many Conservatives on board, 140 to be exact, not one of them has figured out that they should be looking ahead. Some people in Quebec support the Conservatives. There are certain things in politics that are unfathomable and this is one of them. How can some Quebeckers vote for the Conservative Party? Still, we accept that. In time, they will figure out who is looking through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror, and we will see how many Conservatives are left in Quebec after the next election.

The political choices made by the Conservatives are always bad choices, and this bill is a prime example. They did not really seize the opportunity provided by this legislation. The title is interesting. It is “An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act”. People who do not read the three pages of that bill may think that the Conservative government has really decided to move forward on this issue, but that is not the case.

There are examples of what it could have done. While dealing with energy efficiency, the government could have used this opportunity to at least try to make up for the pollution that is occurring in the oil sector, and for greenhouse gas emissions generated by the development of tar sands. However, the government did not even take time to do a thorough job and to come up with innovative measures that would have allowed Canada to distinguish itself by increasing its energy efficiency. No, that is not important for the government. What is important for it is to develop the oil and nuclear sectors. The rest is not worthy of its attention.

That is disappointing because the Bloc Québécois has always been very aware of the problem and has proposed some very good solutions. In both of our economic recovery plans, we allocated specific moneys to targeted interventions. The green economy is all about economics. It creates jobs. That is a fact. Both the Conservative members and the Liberals need to understand that the environment is no longer just an expense. It used to be an expense because it required investment, it was new, and so on, but now the environment is an industry. It creates jobs, and it brings in tax revenues. They have to understand that. But it is clear that the Conservatives and the Liberals just do not get it.

And that is not for lack of trying on the part of the former leader, the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. He proposed a green shift, but his party members did not get on board. But that is what we need. This goes to show that the Liberals are still bogged down in the old ways. That is disappointing.

The Conservatives have always been bogged down in the old ways, but the fact that the Liberals are hesitant to get behind new technologies is worrisome. The Liberals have done their best to promote liberalism the world over. I attended their convention, and I saw the huge posters promoting liberalism. Once again, what the party has become has more to do with old-fashioned liberalism than with anything else. The party has reshaped itself in the image of its new leader, a man who compares himself to Mr. Trudeau. That is the past. The Liberals have decided to do things the way they used to be done. That suits us just fine. We can handle another election campaign any day. They want to live in the past. They will soon see that Quebeckers do not. We have decided to move toward the future.

This is a sad situation. We could laugh, but it is really not funny. It is obvious that renewable energy and anything to do with sustainable development have no place in the consciousness of this House. This is of great concern for us, but even more so for our children and grandchildren.

There is one big question still in my mind. Politicking is going on, pressure from political lobbies. I understand the Conservatives and Liberals because often power leads to madness. Not naming any names, I will just say the signs are already there in certain people. It is sad, nevertheless. We are here and we should be thinking of no one except the people who sent us here, and the generations to follow. This is the best legacy we can leave them.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2009 / 3:55 p.m.
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Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to address the House regarding the third reading of Bill S-3, a bill proposing to amend Canada's Energy Efficiency Act. The bill was discussed at second reading, went to committee and was dealt with very quickly there. We had agreement that the bill should go ahead. It came back here, and today we are debating it at third reading.

The purpose of the bill is fairly straightforward, and that is to eliminate the least efficient energy-using products from Canada's marketplace. Eliminating them will substantially help in reducing greenhouse gases and other atmospheric emissions.

This is not a long bill. It only has a few clauses. I want to summarize what the bill contains. We think it is important that Canadians understand what is in the bill because it is a significant bill. It has five main clauses.

The bill clarifies the classes of energy-producing products that may be established based on their common energy-consuming characteristics. Some of this was done in the past, but this will bring more clarity and will allow the government to move quickly in order to regulate some of these products that are not energy efficient.

The bill requires that interprovincial shipments of energy-using products meet the requirements of the act.It requires dealers to provide the Minister of Natural Resources with the prescribed information regarding the shipment or the importation of energy-using products. It provides for the authority to prescribe as energy-using products manufactured products or classes of manufactured products that affect or control energy consumption. It broadens both the scope of labelling provisions and the scope of the minister's report.

In short, that is what the bill does. The bill is only four pages long, but it is a significant bill.

The amendments will pave the way for energy efficiency regulations that will cover more products in this country more effectively. This will help Canadians save money by reducing household energy use and lowering home energy bills which every Canadian wants to do.

Energy efficiency is a central aspect of our government's plan to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. It is also central to our economic action plan.

Improving energy efficiency is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to control energy costs for consumers and businesses alike. Because doing so is good for the environment and for the economy, energy efficiency has become an important part of the Government of Canada's approach to tackling climate change.

Becoming more efficient energy users will also help Canada and Canadian families save money during these difficult times.

Improving energy efficiency has immediate benefits. Whether it is installing a programmable thermostat at home, a high-efficiency copier at the office or a more efficient electric motor at the plant, we begin saving energy. We start spending less money and indeed, we put out fewer emissions. The benefits start right away and they continue to grow, almost like compound interest, month by month and year after year.

As energy prices fluctuate, energy efficiency helps cushion those ups and downs and makes budgeting for energy easier for both families and businesses. With the long-term trend for energy prices likely to be higher, the savings in dollars would continue to get bigger.

I would like to give a little bit of history. Canada's Energy Efficiency Act came into force in 1992. It gave the Government of Canada the authority to make and enforce standards for the performance of energy-using products of two kinds: products imported to Canada and products manufactured in Canada which were shipped across provincial or territorial borders.

The act at that time also gave the federal government the authority to set labelling requirements for these products. This way, consumers then could compare energy efficiency of various models of the same product.

The first set of regulations flowing from the act came into effect in 1995. These regulations applied to a variety of products, primarily major appliances, things such as dishwashers, water heaters, refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers and dryers.

Since that time, the regulations pertaining to the act have been amended 10 times to reflect changing circumstances or to add more products to the standards list and to increase the stringency of the existing standards. We believe there is more that can be done.

Since that time, Canada has adopted some demanding environmental goals. We have committed ourselves to achieving an absolute reduction of 20% in greenhouse emissions by 2020 and 60% by 2050. This includes mandatory limits on emissions from large industry, but we must also substantially reduce emissions on other fronts as well. That is what Bill S-3 aims to achieve.

Regulations made under the revised act will expand the list of covered products and will tighten the standards for some of the products which are already regulated.

The proposed amendments will also make the act more efficient. For example, it will be possible to apply standards to whole classes of products instead of multitudes of individual products. This will be especially important in our attempts to reduce standby power consumption. I would like to talk about that.

Standby power is the electricity that is consumed by many products in our homes when they are turned off. I am speaking here of products such as TVs, computers, CD players, microwave ovens and battery chargers. As many as 25 or even more of these devices can be found in the typical Canadian home. Consequently, most Canadians do not realize that standby power can account for as much as 10% of an average household's annual electricity costs. Ten per cent of the bill is tied to this hidden use of power.

The question is, what if all of these products consumed a minimal amount of power in standby mode?

The Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada estimates that a typical household could cut its electricity cost by at least $35 a year just by making those changes. Across the country, enough electricity could be saved in order to power more than 300,000 homes.

The amendments proposed in Bill S-3 will also allow us to make improvements to the well-known EnerGuide label. It will be even easier for consumers to compare the energy performance of different models of the same product.

Energy efficiency also helps to create and secure jobs. That is another important consideration during the current economic downturn. As soon as we decide to improve the insulation in our homes or to install energy-efficient windows and doors, we are creating and protecting the jobs of the thousands of Canadians who do that work and who manufacture those products.

I would like to bring up something else here, and that is the home renovation tax credit. It does not have anything directly to do with Bill S-3, but it is certainly an extremely popular change that this government has introduced in its budget.

The home renovation tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit that is going to be given for work performed or goods acquired in respect of improvements made to an eligible dwelling. Eligible dwellings are basically the houses that we use and that we live in personally. The credit is going to be based on eligible expenditures for work performed or for goods acquired after January 27, 2009 and before February 1, 2010. The work has to be done and the goods have to be acquired this year. That is obviously going to be important in this economy and the times in which we are living.

It seems that people have really taken to this across the country. People are aware of it. They seem to be more and more interested in doing renovations to their homes in order to access this credit.

The credit is only going to be available for the 2009 tax year. It applies to expenditures of more than $1,000. People have to spend more than $1,000 if they want to claim the tax credit. They can spend up to $9,000. If they spend $9,000, they will get a tax credit of $1,350. It is a significant tax credit. Certainly from what I and my colleagues are hearing across the country, this is going to be a very popular measure in terms of making changes that are going to allow people to save energy and to make those renovations that will make their houses more energy efficient.

As well, Canadians will be able to take advantage of another aspect of our economic action plan. We have just allocated another $300 million to eco-energy retrofit homes for the next two years, and increased all grants by 25%. That increase will further stimulate economic activity for the construction and service industries.

When all of these things are put together, we have quite a package in terms of encouraging people to improve their energy use and energy efficiency.

This will include energy auditors and engineers who assess energy use, providing information needed to make the best choices for making homes and buildings more efficient.

Just as important, the economic activity we generate when we invest in energy efficiency stays right here in Canada. It stays right in our communities supporting local contractors and tradespeople.

Finally, the amendments proposed in Bill S-3 will have a bearing on Canada's competiveness because obviously, a more energy efficient Canada is a more competitive and a more prosperous country. Better energy efficiency means lower energy costs for both business and industry. That means the products that we make in this country and that we sell can be priced more competitively in the global market.

That is important to our future prosperity because other countries are also making some of these same investments in energy efficiency.

That is why energy efficiency has become a central part of our government's long-term economic plan. This is really seen as a strategic investment.

It is also important to consider the energy performance of the goods we produce. If made in Canada electric motors or windows are the most energy efficient, they will be much more attractive to our international customers.

In conclusion, there are numerous and significant advantages to be gained by the amendments proposed in Bill S-3. We would encourage members of the House to pass this bill as quickly as possible.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2009 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I think if the member had been listening to my last answer, he would understand what I said, which is that this government has come up with a package. There are a number of things that different departments are doing. Clearly, Bill S-3 is part of that package. It will make a significant difference in Canadians' lives. That is what it is about. It is about evaluating the products that are on the market right now and finding out if they are energy efficient enough to allow them to remain as they are. If they are not, then they will be regulated and they will have to be replaced by more energy efficient products.

Standby power is a clear example of a place where energy is used and we think we can do something about it.

The answer to the member's question is that it will depend on Canadians embracing the idea of energy efficiency, welcoming it and then adhering to these regulations. That is how the difference will take place.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2009 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, before I begin to speak to Bill S-3, I want to say how pleased I am I see many hon. members wearing carnations. Some members, perhaps, did not have a chance to get one before question period when they were being offered, but many are wearing them in recognition of the launch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society's Carnation Campaign. Last year I took part in the MS bike tour in Nova Scotia and hope to do so again this summer. I know many members will be supporting the MS Society and other charities, of course, in their ridings and across the country.

The natural resources committee dealt with Bill S-3, the amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act, for the third time last week. I say the third time because this bill, or one very similar, has been before Parliament twice before. Hopefully this time the government has it right because effective regulation of energy-consuming products is an important tool in our efforts to combat climate change. Canadians have known this for a long time and it is encouraging to see that the Conservative government might be starting to realize this too.

Bill S-3 deals with seven basic amendments, all of which were discussed in committee during clause by clause. That is the clause-by-clause analysis when each clause of the bill is considered, amendments are considered and the clauses are amended or passed.

One important change that the bill provides would allow government to regulate classes of products rather than individual products. This would includes products defined by similar characteristics. That will be helpful, as we see more and more energy-consuming products coming on the market every day.

The problem in the past has been that when new products appeared that did not really fit into a description in the act, they could not be regulated effectively. Therefore, by having categories, it makes it much simpler because it is awfully hard to say what the next product will be. When we consider the phenomenal rate of change in technology in my lifetime and in the lifetime of many members here, we can certainly understand that we can expect and anticipate lots more interesting, exciting new technologies and developments, but it is important that we have the ability the regulate new products that come along.

Other amendments in the bill deal with issues like the potential stockpiling of non-compliant products, labelling and a requirement to report to Parliament every four years on the stringency of the act.

When people consider buying a refrigerator, a freezer or a stove, for example, they can see the label on the product that tells them about the kinds of energy use that product involves. I assume that when people buy a fridge, they think of those things. Modern fridges use far less energy and electricity than they did 20 years or so ago. Hence, people do look at those things. That labelling information is very important to consumers, but having standardized labelling is part of what this is about.

The basic premise of the bill is to broaden the scope of the government's ability to regulate energy-using consumer products, including products that affect or control energy consumption.

Bill S-3 is actually building on a 1992 act which established the regulations the first time to eliminate the big energy wasters, to promote energy efficiency in general and bring in labelling requirements, the kind I talked about a moment ago.

Bill S-3 significantly broadens the government's ability to improve energy efficiency, something that the Liberal Party supports. I congratulate the government on bringing this bill forward for the third time. I hope this time we can get it through, pass it on to the Senate shortly and it can finish with it before too long. As the senators consider it, as they should, and their duty is to have consideration of the bill, then we hope they will pass it and have it go to royal assent.

One aspect of Bill S-3 that I think is very important is the regulation of products that operate on standby mode. My hon. colleague, the parliamentary secretary, was talking a bit about that. We all have these kinds of products in our homes. Those are any products that we see some little light on, whether it is our DVD player, clock radio, microwave, some kind of games or whatever, those things that stay plugged in and have a little light flashing or the time showing on them, they are using energy all the time.

This bill would require companies manufacturing and selling those products to ensure they meet more stringent requirements in bringing down the kilowatt hours that they are using up with those items.

We all need to be more educated about energy consumption from products operating in standby mode. Hopefully, to some small extent, the fact that we are discussing this today will have a bit of that effect. This bill should be helpful in that regard.

I know the department, as the Department of Natural Resources has been doing for years, does make efforts to educate the public on that. I would encourage the department to do more of that. I was encouraged when departmental officials indicated that some amendments, like the reporting aspects of this legislation, were in response to comments that the opposition made in previous attempts to amend this act. It is sound, but a bit unusual for the government to listen to Parliament and committees in this fashion. However, it is a salutary incident and I congratulate the government on that.

I note that the roots of Bill S-3 are found in the original so-called clean air act that the former environment minister introduced in 2006. Parts of that legislation focused on the government's plan at the time to regulate large final emitters of greenhouse gases. It also involved the regulation of fuel consumption by automobiles, among other things.

After the House and committee made wholesale amendments to the climate change provisions of Bill C-30, the so-called clean air act, and actually made it a clean air act, the government, unfortunately, chose not to bring the bill back to the House for further debate. And the Conservatives wonder why they were labelled “climate change deniers”.

Instead of bringing back the clean air bill in its entirety, the government decided instead to carve off the Energy Efficiency Act provisions and introduce them in a separate bill in the Senate. We are dealing with that now. The measures in this bill are fine as they are but we need to see more from the government in terms of dealing with climate change effectively.

While the government wasted several years in the process, the results in this case in relation to these items we use in our homes, will be more effective regulation of items like washers, dryers and fridges, through standards, labelling and education.

However, as many of my colleagues who have spoken on this bill at second reading pointed out, there are some concerns. Many Canadians are concerned because they know they cannot trust the Conservative government when it comes to bringing forth regulations to ensure the impact of the amendments outlined in Bill S-3 will be felt. We have seen in its other actions that it cannot be trusted to take action on climate change. We have seen no regulations. After three years of promising them, there are no regulations on greenhouse gases.

There are also concerns about the Conservative government's complete failure to understand that energy efficiency is a fundamental issue for not just the environment but also for our economy.

When this bill was debated in the other place, the Senate, my colleague from Alberta, Senator Grant Mitchell, raised many important questions about this bill. In fact, while the government leader in the Senate introduced the bill, it was Senator Mitchell who was the driving force behind these ideas and this bill, and has been for some time now. He was right when he noted that perhaps one of the biggest questions was the lack of trust that Canadians have that this neo-Conservative government will do anything it promises.

I said that Senator Mitchell was the force in the Senate working on this. However, many Canadians interested in this issue have also been working on this issue and I am sure they will be pleased to see some progress. I have heard from many Canadians who say that they simply do not trust the government to implement this or any other significant environmental policy. I find that troublesome and troubling.

While the Liberal Party supports a broadening of the government's ability to regulate products that use energy, it does not disguise the fact that these changes are in isolation and that they create a false impression that the Conservatives are doing something on the climate change file. Well, they are not doing much, other than waiting for the United States to tell them what their environmental policies will be.

We used to hear the Conservatives say that they would have a made in Canada plan for climate change. We are still waiting for that plan. We are still waiting for regulations. We have seen no actual action. Moreover, not only are the Conservatives not talking about a made in Canada plan any more, now they are waiting for a made in U.S.A. plan. It is quite a change for the government, but the net effect is nothing.

This is another reason why Canadians do not trust the Prime Minister or the government on environmental matters, climate change, any more than they can trust it to properly manage our country's finances or our economy.

We saw that last year times when the government and the country were in deficit, even before the recession began. We saw that in the first two months of the fiscal year and we saw it again in August.

The government claimed in November that everything would be fine, that the budget would be balanced. Then we saw money allocated in the budget for infrastructure which was not being spent.

The Conservatives were talking about stimulating the economy. They were telling us how urgent it was to pass the budget, yet the money, under their proposal, could not be spent until April 1. They were not getting things moving even before that. How concerned were they about where the economy was going? That is discouraging, but it is another matter.

It is true Bill S-3 would lead to more energy efficient products on the Canadian market. Hopefully this time the bill will make it all the way into law.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2009 / 4:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to again debate Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, which is intended to expand the regulatory parameters of the present act. The essence of the bill is laudable, but as the ad well-known to Quebeckers says, it will not change the world.

The present act dates from 1992. and a number of technological innovations since have forced us to take another look at this act to determine whether it is “in step” with those technological advances. The amendments proposed in this energy efficiency bill are going in the right direction, for they target non-regulated products and raise the standards for other products.

However, we have to determine whether this bill is not simply an update of the standards of the Office of Energy Efficiency, as this is of some concern to us. We need to show a real willingness to improve the energy efficiency of certain energy-using products with the aim of improving our energy efficiency and not with the aim of permitting the federal government to say that it is looking after the environment.We are afraid this may just be a bit of a smoke screen. We must admit, moreover, that the government's unwillingness to take action to protect the environment makes us a bit leery. But this bill is a start, and that is why we are in agreement with it.

The amendments made by this bill are thus intended to consider the advancement of knowledge about energy efficiency, to broaden the minister's regulatory authority, to introduce the concept of classes instead of considering each product individually. As well, they are intended to strengthen the minister's powers over the labelling of energy-using products, to standardize procedures, and to increase responsibilities for reporting to the House of Commons. That is a good thing. These objectives, I repeat, are entirely laudable. The extent to which they will be implemented remains to be seen.

For example, the amendments proposed in this bill would permit the establishment of strict vehicle emission standards and improve the energy efficiency of vehicles, since they have an impact on energy consumption. The bill would also permit, as proposed many times by the Bloc Québécois, the standardization of energy efficiency regulations in classes of products, thereby introducing mandatory vehicle eco-labelling, a measure implemented by Switzerland in 2002.

In this way we could send a clear message to consumers who wish to use energy more responsibly, by directing them to a class of vehicles classified as “green”, instead of certain very specific vehicles.

It is deplorable that the government has abolished the grants for fuel efficient vehicles. It is talking out of both sides of its mouth.

There are several interesting amendments to this bill, especially classifying energy-using products based on a single, common energy-consuming characteristic and the intended use of the products. Another interesting point is the power of the governor in council, which will cover a class of products and not just one product. Extending the regulatory power will mean that the act provides better coverage of a whole range of products in terms of energy efficiency.

This bill also provides for new or additional standards for industrial and consumer products and goods, such as commercial washing machines, dishwashers, fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs, and battery chargers.

This bill will impact the daily lives of citizens. As we mentioned earlier, use of standby mode must be retained. Many consumer products continue to consume energy even though we may not think so because the television set, DVD player or household appliances are turned off. These products nevertheless continue to draw energy. Therefore, we must make changes by equipping these appliances with an internal memory, which will save energy when they are turned off.

In this regard, the Office of Energy Efficiency estimates that if all of these products used minimum energy in standby mode, a typical household would save $35 a year in electricity. That does not seem like much, but an energy saving like that all across Canada amounts to the energy used by about 300,000 households in a year, so what this bill does in terms of the environment is really very important. The number and variety of appliances that use standby mode will undoubtedly continue to grow in the years to come. That is why it is important to think about regulating energy use in standby mode for these kinds of items.

Requiring that the minister table reports in the House of Commons is an important amendment, and one that I think is desirable. Once every three years, the Minister of Natural Resources will have to compare the standards here with those in the United States and Mexico, to determine whether they are in step. That was a major concern of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources. Many household appliances, such as ovens and refrigerators, come from the United States and Mexico, so it is important to have common standards and to adjust them. As we heard, this bill has not been changed since 1992. Accordingly, revisiting it is crucial.

This approach, by standardizing labelling and energy efficiency criteria, may eventually facilitate the creation of a carbon market in the future. Obviously, that must be done willingly and competently. On these two points, allow me to question whether the Conservative government really wants to protect the environment. The Conservative record does not lead us to believe that the environment is a priority for this government.

I will explain. This bill has a number of qualities, including that of considering the standby mode, essential to the operation of a number of devices today, in setting energy efficiency standards. However, the government is bragging that, with these amendments proposed for the Energy Efficiency Act, it is implementing its nebulous green plan. I think this green plan is turning brown.

I realize that strengthening laws on the energy efficiency of televisions, DVD players, household appliances and other energy-using consumer products is a good thing. However, strong and integrated measures are needed to achieve real results. The government's regulatory framework to fight greenhouse gases is biased at its source. It is based on reductions in emission intensity for individual product units instead of on an absolute greenhouse gas emission target. The Bloc Québécois has repeatedly said that there is a consensus in Quebec and elsewhere in the world advocating the absolute reduction approach, which will lead to the establishment of a carbon market and a carbon exchange in Montreal.

This government's approach is unfair to Quebec, which has made a huge effort since 1990 to genuinely and absolutely reduce its GHG emissions. However, businesses in Quebec cannot benefit from nearly 20 years' efforts. It is our duty to prevent these efforts from being swept under the carpet because of the Conservative ideology that goes to any length to put the environment and the economy at odds.

For example, a Quebec aluminum company that has already reduced its GHG emissions by 15% in 1990 terms will have to agree to the same reduction in emission intensity as a company operating in the oil sands in Alberta, whose GHG emissions have doubled since 1990. Our manufacturing industry, which has suffered a great deal, will be penalized once again because it will not benefit financially from its efforts as it could have under an absolute target reduction plan.

In Quebec, we reject this outdated view. The economy and the environment work in tandem, and our businesses are often among the most productive in the world in environmental terms. Quebec's economy is separate from Canada's.

By applying this standard approach to all businesses, the government is leaving no room for a real territorial approach that would allow Quebec to act according to its own interests and peculiarities.

This is why we are saying that the government's green plan, which gave rise to this bill, is ineffective. Climate change represents one of the biggest challenges we have to deal with. As scientific evidence piles up and we see just how staggering the extent of the consequences is, it becomes imperative to act without delay, and in an efficient and, above all, fair manner.

This bill represents a step in the right direction, but there is still a very long way to go, and this government totally lacks the desire to go the rest of the way with Quebec. The Bloc Québécois is calling for a Kyoto implementation plan, namely an average greenhouse gas reduction of 6% below the 1990 level for the period 2008-12. The inaction of the Liberals and the ideological pig-headedness of the Conservatives are doing nothing to help us deal with the problem

The plan proposed by the Bloc Québécois is based on establishing reduction targets in the short and medium term, with 1990 as the reference year; the use of a territorial approach; establishing a carbon exchange in Montreal; and federal measures that the government can implement in its own areas of jurisdiction.

In closing, Bill S-3 is, as I have said, a step in the right direction but there is still a very long way to go. We agree with the essence of this bill. It will enable consumer to have a clearer picture of products and of their energy consumption.

Nonetheless, we are calling upon the Conservative government to stop handing over millions of dollars to the oil industry and stop encouraging tar sands development. Instead it ought to be decreasing our oil dependency, allowing the development of renewable energies, and encouraging environmental research and the growth of the green economy, which is the economy of the future. We believe it is very important to get to work on this immediately, given how very far we are lagging behind already.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

May 6th, 2009 / 4:55 p.m.
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Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague on her very clear presentation on Bill S-3. She clearly stated the position of the Bloc Québécois and Quebec.

Does she think that Bill S-3 will really make a difference with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, or rather that it does not take into account the real energy savings that could have been made possible in our world?

The member also mentioned that the manufacturing industry in her riding was already making efforts that are not being recognized.

While we support the bill—let me emphasize that—does the member think that it is a major piece of legislation with respect to greenhouse gas reduction?

Natural ResourcesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 29th, 2009 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two reports from the Standing Committee on Natural Resources.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources in relation to the main estimates for the fiscal period ending March 31, 2010.

As well, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources. In accordance with the order of reference of Thursday, April 2, your committee has considered Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, and agreed on Tuesday, April 28 to report it without amendment.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

April 2nd, 2009 / 10:40 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with sincere pleasure that I rise to speak to this bill, not so much for the contents of the bill, which are thin gruel in some respects, but to the actual challenge put in front of this country and the world.

Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, seeks to give government further powers and restrictions on certain products that Canadians use every day, such as, washers, dryers, and the like. It is a disappointment in the sense that it is such a small measure in overall goal that Canada must set for itself. Canada must take a leadership role globally.

It is a small measure with respect to the serious issue of rising energy costs. Canadians have seen those costs grow year after year, although there have been some dips along the road when energy prices have fallen. We always notice that as prices go up on the world market, prices correspondingly rise here. However, when the prices on the world market fall, the price at the pump or the electricity prices do not fall correspondingly. The overall trend continues to be bad for consumers.

The bill attempts in some small way to address what are the government's powers. The response from industry has been best described as tepid. It does not seem to be excited one way or another about this, which is usually an indication that not all that much is going on. When the government comes forward with bold and strong measures, there is often a response from industry asking for less to happen or asking for it to happen in a different way. If government comes forward with something that is lukewarm, much more subtle and non-intrusive to the industry's own plans, then we see things such as this bill, which is not much.

The response from the groups concerned with these issues specifically on the environmental side has been mildly positive, in that it is seen as a small step forward. However, the government consistently has failed to come forward with anything comprehensive. That will be the focus of my comments today, because efforts outside of any comprehensive cognitive strategy, anything that people can understand as a cohesive plan, are just efforts in the dark. They are one-offs and do not do enough to bring us to where we need to be and where I sincerely believe Canadians want to be.

It seems there might be one small glimmer of hope contained in the bill, but one has to read into it and dig into it to find whether this is a real potential. That is the possibility that the government could restrict the water usage of some appliances. For example, there are clothes washers and dishwashers that use a third, a quarter, a fifth of what the standard models use. These types of measures are needed.

There are cities that need to invest billions upon billions of dollars on infrastructure. There are water shortage issues in certain parts of our country. This has been a crisis in Alberta in the past. This most likely will continue to be a problem for consumers and for industry. The government should clamp down on products that are wasteful for no good reason. They do not deliver a better service to Canadians. They do not deliver at a better price. They just use more water and more energy for no good reason other than that we have had it too good for too long.

We have had so much in the way of natural resources in countries like Canada. The notion was that there would always be more. There would always be more water, more trees, more energy and that we could simply design our industries and our entire economy based on the principle of waste, based on the fundamental principle that if prices drop, we just do more, that it is okay to waste a bunch, the volumes are so great it will not be a problem.

We are starting to bump up against the natural limits of the environment, the natural limits of what our resources can actually sustain. This is happening globally. We are seeing more and more conflicts around the world on issues involving water and energy. We are still experiencing the war in Iraq, which the American administration has finally admitted was an energy war. We are seeing it happen at a national level with a government that claimed it was going to map the water basins throughout Canada and failed to do so. We consistently hear of boil water advisories in our poorer communities. We also see it at the local level, where people are struggling to find ways to use less water and energy, to turn off the tap, to turn off the lights. Folks are unaware that a lot of the products they buy are vulture electronics. They are called that because they draw power all the time.

With the old televisions and stereos we used to have, we would turn them on, it would take a couple of seconds for them to warm up, and then we would see the screen or hear the music. Now we hit a button and our computers, televisions, or stereos are on in an instant. The reason they are able to do that is because they are constantly drawing power from the grid, anticipating that split second when we might need to see them, use them, or have them available to us. All that power is being used over time.

When we look at the need for new power in this country, in this province of Ontario and my own province of British Columbia, all sorts of money is being spent by government and industry to create new sources of power, when the easiest way to create that new power is not to use it in the first place, to actually conserve, which fits the interests of all our voters, the people who put us here, to lower their energy bills.

The only people who have an interest in keeping more power on the grid or producing more power for our cars and vehicles are the people who produce that power, so they can make more money.

There is a strong and deep interest and we are finally starting to see it from some of the more enlightened energy companies. Investing more in energy efficiency and understanding more about the need to make a more efficient, more productive, more competitive economy is fundamentally based within questions of energy, whether it is human energy or the energy that we typically talk about in this place, which is electricity, oil and gas, and the like.

Canadians need to know that this bill, for all its small merits, takes place within a policy vacuum of the government.

I had a term turned back on me just yesterday while meeting with some energy consultants. They mentioned the Turning the Corner plan. It had been so long since I had heard it. It had been so long since I had heard the government mention it.

The government brought out this plan in 2007, for those who will remember, and there was the promise of regulations and rules by which this plan would actually be achieved. There was the promise, and nothing was delivered.

What does industry do when there is a policy vacuum? What does industry do when there are no actual rules in place? They continue on with business as usual.

Some of the investments we are talking about, particularly in higher stakes energy, such as the oil and gas and the electricity producers, require billions of dollars to switch from one to another. I recall a meeting I had with some folks who were involved in the mining industry, both in extraction and in the refining or smelting side of operations. They were furious with the government and the previous governments.

One would assume they would be natural allies of the government. They no longer were because they had seen the government issue statement after statement about requiring energy efficiency, requiring fewer greenhouse gases in the operation, yet time and time again, industry had made those investments assuming the rules would follow and nothing followed.

They are still waiting for the Turning the Corner regulations and rules. Not one has been issued of any substance.

In the policy vacuum that has been created, we see Canada, under the Minister of the Environment and others, trying to enter the slipstream of what is happening in Washington, waiting, delaying, not setting any price on carbon, not setting any regulatory limits on what happens with pollution, waiting for the Obama administration to make the effort for them.

As we have seen just this past week, the Obama administration came out with its climate change plans, a document of some 600 pages, and the response from the Canadian government is that everything is fine with us, using measurements that will simply not coincide with what our American partners are suggesting and will do, from all prescriptions.

We are seeing in Congress, both from the House of Representatives side and the Senate side, bills coming forward that are absolutely counter to what the Conservatives have proposed. On one specific issue, how we measure greenhouse gases, which would be one of the most fundamental issues if we are trying to control greenhouse gases, the government here insists on using intensity-based targets, which nobody in the world uses. Certainly nobody who hopes to participate in a carbon market is proposing the use of those targets. It is just simply not done because it is not possible. It is apples and oranges.

One measures the amount of greenhouse gases going out per unit of energy or per unit of economy, which is this intensity fiction that the Conservatives promote. The other one just says, “Here is a hard cap. Here is your limit. Below it, you can trade. Above it, you have to buy”. That is how the market works.

When I was recently in Washington talking with some of our congressional allies, I asked them what kinds of conversations they have had with Canada about integrating our market systems. These were the principal movers of these bills, the folks whose signatures are now going on these pieces of legislation in Washington.

They said their conversation me was the first one they have had with a Canadian legislator, impossible for me to believe when we have this great and glorious embassy in Washington with all sorts of staff and very bright, smart people walking around. We have an entire bank of ministers heading down to Washington every so often, yet the conversation about integrating one of the most important and fundamental markets, which will be upon us within a year, had not started, thereby not allowing Canadian industry access to one of the most important markets they need to access.

Further to that, and this speaks to the energy efficiency of this, the Americans have been talking about a low-carbon standard for fuels for some time. The initiative started out of Maine, New York, California, and Washington state, and is now being picked up by Washington, D.C. The Canadian response to this is that we hope they don't do it, because Canada produces some of the highest carbon fuels in the world. The Americans are saying they are going to put a limit on the amount of those fuels they allow into the country. They are actually putting a limit on the amount of carbon that is emitted by the fuels that American consumers and industries are meant to consume, which is produced in Canada, which is apparently the Conservative government's preoccupation on a daily basis and it has not made any efforts to understand the absolute train wreck that is coming our way if we do not react to this and start to produce fuels of a lower carbon standard.

Canada's response, to this point, is simply to say that it won't happen, that the Americans will blink and simply won't have a low-carbon fuel standard. I have news for the Conservatives. The folks who are drawing up this legislation, within the White House and on the Senate and the House of Representatives sides, have all said and have written in black and white for the Canadian government to finally see, “This is happening”. This is what is on the table, and the Canadian government refuses to take any real recognition of the scope and scale of the challenge that is put before us.

It is absolutely fine for the government to give itself some more powers with respect to the efficiency of electronics and the efficiency of appliances that Canadians use on a daily basis, but it does not ban the most inefficient ones. It simply says we will allow a few more of these to come forward in a more efficient way. However, the real culprits, the ones that consume the most power, the most water, and waste the most, are still not available to the government to stop outright. Why that would be, I have no idea.

It is not as if the administration of other countries around the world have not gone down that path with no serious detriment to consumers or industry. We have seen the Europeans and Japanese go forward on this for more than two decades, and the Australians, New Zealanders and others. The path is laid, which may be the only advantage Canada actually has at this point when it comes to dealing with climate change or energy efficiency. Because of the delay of the Conservative government and previous Liberal regimes, the path forward has been paved with respect to certain basic elements of how to make a more efficient and less polluting economy.

It is not as if Canada has to reinvent the wheel at this point. So many administrations have gone before us with sincere and genuine leadership. We see this now taking place even at the G20. Today, our Prime Minister and leaders from around the world are there.

It is actually 22 countries. They are going to have to change the name at some point, I suppose, but we will call it the G20 because all do.

At this summit with the European leaders and the American administration, in the talks about the stimulus packages that are needed, there is talk about what level, if Canada is below the 2% commitment it made six months ago in Washington at the G20. In the recovery packages that the administrations are talking about in Europe and the United States, they are talking about a green recovery. They are saying that if they are going to spend this much public money into the private markets, as the Canadian government and other governments are doing, for heaven's sake, should they not put some other public interests in place as well?

The public interest has been consistent and strong over the last number of years that we want less polluting cars, less polluting industry and greater efficiency with what we do, because Canadians do not like the idea. Where it may have been a historical reality for those who built this country that there was just such a wealth of resources that waste was not a deep consideration, it now is and Canadians concern themselves with this. It is why they recycle. It is why they attempt to do things such as carpooling and buying better electronics and equipment for their homes.

It seems to me, though, at this time, when the world is talking about putting in place a green recovery, our administration here is still seized with some ancient ideas. I cannot count how many times I have heard the so-called Minister of the Environment say that we have to choose between the environment and the economy, that we cannot threaten the economy by dealing with the environment at this point in time.

When times are good it is not time to deal with the environment, and when times are bad it is not time to deal with the environment, according to that type of thinking. The conclusion is always the same from the Conservative and Liberal leadership, that it is not time to deal with the environment.

The current Liberal leader, for goodness' sake, called the tar sands a national unity issue. I have heard it called many things by those who promote it and by those who decry it, but I have never heard it spoken of as a thing that bonds all Canadians together, that somehow folks sitting in Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver are on bended knee every day, praying for the health and welfare of the tar sands.

Of course, it is important to hone in on something that is going on, but for goodness' sake, we have to have some sort of measure of balance.

When bills moved previously through this House, spending bills from the government talking about energy efficiency, talking about the need to do better on climate change, the first one that came forward was a bus transit pass allotment. The government put in place the idea of making it easier for folks to get on transit. All the transit authorities across Canada said it was a wonderful idea but to give them more buses because they knew their users, they knew the people who use transit, and what they needed was greater efficiency and greater allowance onto the transit system, that this was the problem.

The government said, no, it was not going to listen to that advice. It was going to go its own way and offer people a tax break so that they could submit their monthly transit receipt and get money back on their taxes.

There is not a problem the government sees that cannot be solved by a tax credit of some kind or another. Lo and behold, that type of neo-conservative economic policy has put us into a certain situation and it still will not be reconsidered by the government, for reasons that are beyond me.

We said not to do this because it would not actually solve the problem the government was going after. It would not get more people onto transit. It would only affect early adopters, the people who are already use transit. As well, the amount of greenhouse reductions would come at an exorbitant price. It would be very expensive per tonne reduced, per car removed from the road.

The Auditor General unfortunately proved us right. That program ended up costing Canada between $5,000 and $6,000 a tonne. It is impossible to imagine that the government has the capacity and the intelligence within it to actually achieve any of the targets that it proposes. It puts out things like this bus transit pass that, if we actually ran the numbers at $5,000 or $6,000 a tonne, would make it impossible for Canada to achieve its goals under the current government's thinking.

A second bill that came forward is absolutely mystifying to me. The government brought forward a biofuels initiative about 18 months ago. We gave it a good look and allowed it to go to committee. At the committee stage, we moved two amendments. This was some $2 billion, a significant chunk of taxpayer money, going towards biofuels. We said that if we were going to subsidize biofuels--the ethanols, the corn ethanols, and the fuels of the world, maybe sugar or beet, we did not know what--there must be two filters applied over top.

One would be how many jobs we could possibly create with the expenditure of $2 billion. That should be a factor. At that time, we were not in a recession, but certainly there were some very shaky elements of our economy that we saw, the government ignored, and we all landed in. We said to at least put in a job component, a metric that says how many jobs we will create for the $2 billion invested. The government said, no, it did not need to do that; it would just simply spend the money.

The second thing we said was that if we were trying to reduce the greenhouse gases emitted by Canada, should that not be a filter on the greenhouse gas program? Could we not put that down as a measure, as a marker to say that we were going to achieve the most greenhouse gas reductions possible? The government said, no, why would it do that, and it did not. As a result, the $2 billion went out the door. It was a farm subsidy. Fine, if the government wants to do a farm subsidy, it can. However, $2 billion goes out the door and greenhouse reductions from that subsidy are negligible, according to every study that has been done on it.

So in this policy vacuum, when bills such as Bill S-3 come along and the government waves them around and says it is fixing climate change and not to worry about it, it happens within the context of nothing else.

Certainly when the governments of the day were looking at developing the tar sands in the first go-round, they did not just do one-offs. They had a comprehensive strategy. They put every measure of government forward--money, research, support, and expertise--to develop that project, and lo and behold, it was successful. They are doing a lot of tar sands right now.

When it comes to the environment, there is not that same intelligence or that same authenticity and sincerity. That is what has been failing Canadians, and that is why this bill, while a small measure, is certainly not going to get the job done.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

April 2nd, 2009 / 3 p.m.
See context

Prince George—Peace River B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, today, Bill S-3, the energy efficiency bill, was read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources.

Just before question period, we were debating Bill C-13, the Canada Grain Act, but it appears the coalition of the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc has been revived and it is supporting a motion that, if adopted, will defeat that bill. It is proposing to kill the bill before it even gets to committee. It is unfortunate that the coalition's first act is to abdicate its role as legislators by denying close scrutiny and study of a bill at a committee.

After my statement, the government will be calling Bill C-5, Indian oil and gas, followed by Bill C-18, the bill respecting RCMP pensions, which is at second reading.

Tomorrow, we will continue with the business that I just laid out for the remainder of today.

When the House returns on April 20, after two weeks of constituency work, we will continue with any unfinished business from this week, with the addition of Bill C-25, the truth in sentencing bill, Bill C-24, the Canada-Peru free trade agreement, Bill C-11, human pathogens and toxins and Bill C-6, consumer products safety. We can see we have a lot of work to do yet. All of these bills are at second reading, with the exception of Bill C-11, which will be at report stage.

During the first week the House returns from the constituency weeks, we expect that Bill C-3, the Arctic waters bill will be reported back from committee. We also anticipate that the Senate will send a message respecting Bill S-2, the customs act. If and when that happens, I will be adding those two bills to the list of business for that week.

Thursday, April 23, shall be an allotted day.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

April 1st, 2009 / 4:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to discuss Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, which is intended to expand the regulatory parameters of the present act.

The essence of this bill is laudable. The present act dates from 1992. With all the technological innovations, it is thus extremely urgent that we take another look at this act. I can see how often we are late to take action. My 15-year-old son is constantly reminding me that we have to pay attention to the environment, use recycling bins and save energy. So I will be pleased to be able to tell him on the weekend that we are working to make things better.

The amendments proposed in this energy efficiency bill are going in the right direction, for they target non-regulated products and raise the standards for other products. However, we have to determine whether this bill is not simply an update of the standards of the Office of Energy Efficiency. In this regard we must display a real will to improve the energy efficiency of certain energy-using products with the aim of improving our energy efficiency and not with the aim of permitting the federal government to say that it is looking after the environment. We must admit that this initiative offers very little in the face of the problems of climate change, our spiraling consumption of fossil fuels and this government’s lack of will to act to protect the environment. All the same, this bill is a start, and however little this government is doing for the environment, we must nonetheless consider the improvements being made to the present legislation.

The amendments made by this bill are thus intended to consider the advancement of knowledge about energy efficiency, to broaden the minister’s regulatory authority, to introduce the concept of classes instead of considering each product individually, to strengthen the minister’s powers over the labelling of energy-using products, to standardize procedures, and to increase responsibilities for reporting to the House of Commons. These objectives, I repeat, are entirely laudable. The extent to which they will be applied remains to be seen.

For example, the amendments proposed in this bill would permit the establishment of strict vehicle emission standards and improve the energy efficiency of vehicles, since they have an impact on energy consumption. The bill would also permit, as proposed many times by the Bloc Québécois, the standardization of energy efficiency regulations in classes of products, thereby introducing mandatory vehicle eco-labelling, a measure that has existed in Switzerland since 2002.

In this way we could send a clear message to consumers who wish to use energy more responsibly, by directing them to a class of vehicles classified as “green”, instead of certain very specific vehicles.

There are a number of worthwhile amendments in this bill, including the following. Classifying energy-using products as proposed will mean that they can be grouped based on a single, common energy-consuming characteristic and the intended use of the products. The second amendment is the power of the governor in council, which will cover a class of products and not just one product. Extending the regulatory power will mean that the act provides better coverage of a whole range of products in terms of energy efficiency. This bill also provides for new or additional standards to be established for industrial and consumer products and goods, such as commercial washing machines, dishwashers, fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs, battery chargers, and many others.

This bill means that standby mode can be taken into account, and that is a good proposal, because of the proliferation in recent years of energy-using products that consume energy even when they are turned off. The new types of televisions, DVD players, household appliances and a host of other products consume energy constantly even when they are not in use. These items are equipped with an internal memory that can be affected by simply unplugging them.

In this regard, the Office of Energy Efficiency estimates that if all of these products used minimum energy in standby mode, a typical household would save $35 a year in electricity. That does not seem like much, but an energy saving like that all across Canada amounts to the energy used by about 300,000 households in a year, and so it is a considerable amount. What this bill does in this regard is really very important. The number and variety of appliances that use standby mode will undoubtedly continue to grow in the years to come. That is why it is important to think about regulating energy use in sleep mode for these kinds of items.

Requiring that the minister table reports in the House of Commons is an important amendment, and one that I think is desirable. Once every three years, the Minister of Natural Resources will have to compare the standards here with those in the United States and Mexico, to determine whether they are in step. Because many household appliances come from those countries under free trade, standardization is important. This approach, by standardizing labelling and energy efficiency criteria, may eventually facilitate the creation of a carbon market in the future.

Obviously, that must be done willingly and competently. On these two points, allow me to question the Conservative government's intent to really protect the environment. The Conservative record does not lead us to believe that the environment is a priority for this government. I will explain. This bill has a number of qualities, including that of considering the standby mode, essential to the operation of a number of devices today, in setting energy efficiency standards.

However, the government is bragging that, with these amendments proposed for the Energy Efficiency Act, it is implementing its nebulous green plan. This green plan is turning brown. I realize that strengthening laws on the energy efficiency of televisions, DVD players, household appliances and other energy-using consumer products is a good thing. However, strong and integrated measures are needed to achieve real results. We have waited too long.

The government's regulatory framework to fight greenhouse gases is biased at its source. It is based on reductions in emission intensity for individual product units instead of on an absolute greenhouse gas emission target. There is, however, a consensus in Quebec and elsewhere in the world advocating the absolute reduction approach, which will lead to the establishment of a carbon market and a carbon exchange in Montreal.

This government's approach is unfair to Quebec, which has made a huge effort since 1990 to genuinely and absolutely reduce its GHG emissions. However, businesses in Quebec cannot benefit from nearly 20 years' efforts. It is our duty to prevent these efforts from being swept under the carpet because of the neoconservative ideology that goes to any length to put the environment and the economy at odds.

For example, a Quebec aluminum company that has already reduced its GHG emissions by 15% in 1990 terms will have to agree to the same reduction in emission intensity as a company operating in the oil sands in Alberta, whose GHG emissions have doubled since 1990. Our manufacturing industry will be penalized once again because it will not benefit financially from its efforts as it could have under an absolute target reduction plan.

In Quebec, we reject this outdated view. The economy and the environment work in tandem, and our businesses are often among the most productive in the world in environmental terms. Quebec's economy is separate from Canada's. By applying this standard approach to all businesses, the government is leaving no room for a real territorial approach that would allow Quebec to act according to its own interests and peculiarities.

This is why we are saying that the government's green plan, which gave rise to this bill, is ineffective.

Climate change represents one of the biggest challenges we have to deal with.

As scientific evidence piles up and we see just how staggering the extent of the consequences is, it becomes imperative to act without delay, and in an efficient and fair manner.

This bill represents a step in the right direction, but there is still a very long way to go, and this government totally lacks the desire to go the rest of the way with Quebec. The Bloc Québécois is calling for a Kyoto implementation plan, namely an average greenhouse gas reduction of 6% below the 1990 level for the period 2008-12.

The inaction of the Liberals and the ideological pig-headedness of the Conservatives are doing nothing to help us deal with the problem.

The plan proposed by the Bloc Québécois is based on establishing reduction targets in the short and medium term, that is between 2012 and 2020, with 1990 as the reference year; the use of a territorial approach; establishing a carbon exchange in Montreal; and federal measures that the government can implement in its own areas of jurisdiction.

In closing, Bill S-3 is, as I have said, a step in the right direction but there is still a very long way to go. We are in favour of the essence of this bill, but with this government we have doubts about is sincerity as far as environmental protection and energy conservation are concerned.

The Conservative government ought to stop handing over millions of dollars to the oil industry and stop encouraging tar sands development. Instead it ought to be decreasing our oil dependency, and allowing the development of renewable energies, encouraging environmental research and the growth of the green economy, which is the economy of the future, rather than making this bill, which is limited though laudable, the foundation of its rather murky green plan.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

April 1st, 2009 / 4:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act. Earlier, my colleague from Halifax West spoke extensively on the bill and made a number of valid points on energy efficiency. I would refer people to those comments. He talked especially about wasted energy. When politicians are out on a political campaign, we walk into houses and see little lights flashing here and there, on VCRs, computers and telephones that are not in use. All those units are using energy unnecessarily. It is a lot of wasted energy.

The bill makes a series of changes to the Energy Efficiency Act to broaden the scope of the government's ability to regulate consumer products that use energy. We can certainly go the regulatory way with encouragement in that area, but as citizens of the country, we also need to do a lot of individual things to save energy in terms of shutting down computers and so on when we may be gone for more than a day. There are all kinds of things we could do.

The bill is rooted in old Bill C-30 from a former Parliament, which was a plan to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Bill S-3 goes back to some of those points that were made in Bill C-30. After the House committee made wholesale amendments to the climate change provisions in Bill C-30, the government chose not to bring the bill back to the House for further debate. When the first session of the 39th Parliament prorogued, Bill C-30 died. Instead of bringing back the bill in its entirety, the government decided instead to carve off the Energy Efficiency Act provisions and introduce them as a separate bill in the Senate. The bill did not receive second reading in the Senate before the election was called in August, 2008.

The provisions of the bill are not controversial. In fact, it is widely expected that most MPs and most parties will support the bill in the House of Commons because the spirit and the intent of former Bill C-30, what opposition parties mainly drove for, is encompassed in this bill.

An effective regulation of energy-using products is one of a suite of tools the government will have to fight global warming. As my colleague said earlier, there are a lot of global warming deniers on the government side of the House. A lot of points have been raised by previous speakers as to that being the fact. Through this bill we hope the Conservatives will take, not a big challenge, but a small challenge to do a number of small things that can make a difference in terms of energy use itself.

On this point, Canadians know what we should be doing each and every day to improve energy efficiency in many small ways, but sometimes it takes a little encouragement. Although none of us really likes regulations, sometimes it takes a little push with regulations to encourage us to do the right thing on the environment.

Another important area for us to do the right things on the environment and to increase our energy efficiency is a stronger education process. Sometimes we do not realize how the small points on energy efficiency can add up in the global context to big savings on energy.

Let us look at what little things can do. We can go back to Christmastime, when many people light up their houses with Christmas light bulbs and so on. In my province, Christmas was the peak energy period of the year because of the lights on Christmas trees, houses, floodlights and so on. When the LED lights came in, they created such energy efficiencies that the energy use at that time went down substantially.

Therefore, it shows what can be done by both an education campaign and any regulatory campaign. It is one example of many.

It is unbelievable the gains in energy efficiency that have been made in the agricultural industry over the last 15 to 20 years, and there is a lot more we can do. There is a lot more the government can do to assist us in getting there.

It would be really helpful if the government, in its programming, used some of its available resources. We know it has clearly failed the agricultural industry to date, especially the primary producers, but it is not that difficult for it to develop the programs. Whether it is through tax incentives, grants, regional development agencies, Industry Canada or Environment Canada could come up with funding programs that would assist primary producers in purchasing equipment and technology that would reduce the amount of energy used on primary production units on our farms.

Although the government fails to admit it, we know that the agriculture, fisheries, mining and forestry sectors in rural Canada are the generators of economic wealth in the country. Anything that can be done to assist those hard pressed industries in this time of recession would be valuable in moving our country forward.

There is an opportunity, at a time when a so-called economic stimulus is being made available, if the Government of Canada would develop the programming to assist all those industries in reducing their energy use and improving their bottom line. The government seems to have failed to seize that opportunity.

I want to provide some examples in the farming sector. On the equipment side, the tractors we use today are much more energy efficient. Cultivators do a better job with less use of energy on a per acre basis. One of the big areas is the use of GPS equipment, whether it is on equipment used for cultivating potatoes and row crops or whether it is on sprayers where one can do a better job of going over the ground just once. Instead of going over a field or a crop two or three times, one can go over it with a single pass, saving a tremendous amount of energy and greater efficiency. Therefore, less greenhouse gases are put into air for each production unit that is produced on farms.

Many Canadians, especially people who live in urban centres who do not understand the farm community that well, have a strange picture or perception of farmers. Primary producers, farmers, have always been at the cutting edge of technological change. Whether it is energy efficiency, more production per acre, whatever it may be, they have always been at that edge of technological change. This is a great opportunity where we could assist the farm community in making its operations more efficient.

Another example that I could give would be dairy operations. I was a dairy producer, and I have been on many of these operations. More people should see this efficient use of energy. It is an area where expenditures could be made to get more producers on those kinds of efficient uses of energy systems.

To draw a picture, when milk is produced, it is a warm product that has to be cooled by what almost looks like the old type of radiators. The milk is produced by the cows, comes out of the milking system and goes through that radiator unit. The heat is taken out and used to heat water for sanitizing and cleaning up the system and, in some cases, for heating barns. There is great efficiency.

Instead of losing the heat and putting it into a cooler that expends energy to cool the milk so it keeps and can be trucked to the processing plant in a high quality state, the new systems are used to take the heat out of the milk and use it for other purposes, whether it is heating water for sanitizing or whatever. The temperature of that milk is reduced and then when it gets into the cooler, it is already partially cooled. Therefore, it takes less energy to cool the milk product to the proper temperature so it stores safely until it can be shipped to a processing plant for bottling, or for cheese or for whatever its use may be.

From my own experience in the past, I know that originally there were grants from provincial governments at that time to encourage people to move into the earlier concept of bulk milk coolers. This is an area that the government could be assisting the production sector, with stimulus packages and creating energy efficiency as well. I know that goes beyond the concept of this bill, but it is an example of where government action, beyond the regulatory regime, could be a huge help to the farming community.

The same applies in the design of farms. Rather than using the fans, which are used in so many places, there are new concepts where we use natural movement of air.

As another example, this morning I had a great meeting with the greenhouse industry. The Canadian greenhouse industry is one of the most innovative industries in our country. In Ontario alone there are about 1,800 acres under glass. In B.C. there are about 700 acres. I believe it is something like 60 acres or 80 acres in Quebec.

I was in one operation that had 52 acres of tomato and cucumber plants under glass, growing year round. One of the highest costs is the use of hydro. Therefore, farmers have been moving to new concepts. Again, it is an area where the government could assist. In fact, I believe it costs close to $6 million to put the new system in for one of these operations.

Beyond the solar efforts of the sun, using natural gas to heat that generates a byproduct containing CO2, which plants need to produce the cucumbers and tomatoes. A recycling effect is created and it will pay off over the long term tremendously. Again, it is another case of using greater energy efficiency to have greater economic and energy efficiencies in the operation and less greenhouse gases as a result at the end of the day.

There are so many opportunities available to us in terms of energy efficiency. This bill will move us a little farther along that line. It significantly broadens the government's ability to regulate products that affect the use of energy and we support that. It does not have to be an obtrusive regulation. As I mentioned in the very beginning, to a great extent, it can be more of an education campaign to have people understand what is available out there. The regulations can encourage better use of products, whether it is shutting down equipment or buying more efficient equipment or machinery on the industrial operations, on farms, on fishing boats, in the forestry industry or whatever.

We support these amendments, since they are substantially identical to the proposed amendments to the clean air act, Bill C-30, which the Liberal Party supported. For some reason the Government of Canada wanted to make that disappear. Maybe it was too forward-looking a bill for the current government to grasp, take hold of and put Canada in the lead in terms of environmental change.

If we had moved forward with that act, instead of being a follower, we would have been a leader. In this recession, we see more followers than leaders from the government side. Maybe that makes the point as to why the government abandoned the clean air act. Now we have to at least try to encourage it to move a little step forward with the Energy Efficiency Act.

We look forward to seeing regulations, but it will be necessary to ensure that the impact of these amendments are fully felt in Canadian society.

I want to make one quick point about my own province. One initiative of Premier Robert Ghiz and the Liberal government in P.E.I. is on energy. We are increasingly using wind energy to meet our energy needs. The province has laid out a master plan of how we can use the production of energy and hydro from windmills to meet a greater and greater share of the electricity needs of Prince Edward Island. The Canadian wind test site is on Prince Edward Island. I think it shows that a little province is leading the way in this country in terms of using wind energy to meet Canadians' needs and reduce greenhouse gases.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

April 1st, 2009 / 5 p.m.
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Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague has just given a long speech about Bill S-3. I would like to remind him that energy efficiency is changing at such a pace that the law will have to be revised every five years. That is not currently happening. When the Liberals were in power, they never changed it. This law has not changed since 1992.

Although the Liberals did nothing when in power, are they now prepared to accept that the law include a clause providing for its statutory review every five years? This bill requires reports every three years and requires the minister to report to the House every four years. But there is nothing about revising the law every five years. I would like to hear my colleague's opinion about that.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

April 1st, 2009 / 5:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill S-3 and take part in this debate.

It is always instructive to see the Liberal member for Malpeque grilling the Conservatives for having plunged Canada into a deficit when the Liberal Party of Canada supported them no less than 62 times in this descent into hell with the creation of a Canadian deficit. I find it hard to understand, although that is not the only incongruity in this Parliament. This kind of thing is why politicians are always second last on the list of people Canadians trust. I will not say who is last. Members take positions in the House that are totally contrary to what they say in their speeches. That is the Liberal reality and it is why they have almost no credibility in Quebec.

Bill S-3 was introduced yesterday and is an act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act. I want to say right away that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of the principle of this bill. Environmental groups and people who take some interest in the environment are not easily fooled, but when the Conservative government introduces a bill on energy efficiency, it is at least a step. We should study it therefore in committee, improve it, and see how open-minded the Conservatives are about analyzing it. This bill is not a panacea for all our energy problems, far from it, but my colleague from Trois-Rivières did a good job of presenting the Bloc’s position. When the government takes a little step, we should all go along, while remaining very realistic about the likely results.

There are eight clauses in Bill S-3. I will summarize them for the benefit of the men and women watching.

Clause 1 creates section 2.1 in the definitions in the Energy Efficiency Act. Its purpose is to specify the meaning of the word “class”. A class of energy-using products can be defined according to common energy-consuming characteristics of the products, their intended use, or the conditions under which the products are normally used.

Clause 2 is about interprovincial trade and importation. In the current act, paragraph 4.1(b) forbids dealers from shipping an energy-using product that does not comply with certain requirements from the province in which it was manufactured to another province for the purpose of sale or lease. Clause 2 changes this provision by replacing the last part with the following: “from one province to another province” for the purpose of sale or lease. In addition, paragraph 4.1(b) in the current English version requiring that a label be attached to the product or package is changed to require a label “in accordance with the regulations”. This is a welcome clarification because they are talking about appliances in this bill and all energy-using household equipment is included.

As we know, many of our citizens still have appliances that consume a lot of energy. In Quebec, Hydro-Québec is paying $60 to anyone who gets a new fridge. Hydro-Québec will even come and take away the old one. That is one way of getting rid of appliances that consume too much energy. If we want to use a bill to prohibit interprovincial transportation of equipment, we are talking about importers, retailers and suppliers. The equipment is not always new. There is business in second hand equipment. We do not want such equipment to be transported between the provinces, or even sold in any province.

Clause 3 adds a clarification to the information that a dealer must communicate to the minister.

From now on, prescribed information must include information about the shipping or importation of the material in question.

Clause 3 amends section 5 of the Energy Efficiency Act, which requires that dealers who ship or import energy-using products shall file a report with the prescribed information. Under the current subsection 5(1), the “dealer...shall file with the Minister...a report setting out prescribed information respecting the energy efficiency of those products.” The bill changes the wording to require the dealer to “provide the Minister...with” the prescribed information, so it is not a matter of merely filing a report, but rather being obliged to provide the information concerning those products, including their energy efficiency, their shipment or their importation.

This is important because, at the end of the day, this bill attacks the very foundation of the distribution chain. This affects dealers and importers. This is unfortunate because we have heard members, both Liberals and Conservatives, pointing out whose record was worst or best. But one thing is certain: we must target importers, because there is almost no more manufacturing of such products here, simply because these sectors have been abandoned and left to emerging countries.

So now that we have virtually stopped manufacturing these products, we must ensure that the products we are sold respect the environment, and that is where the problem often lies.

During the holiday season, there is the issue of all the toys that contain lead and all the problems Canada has because it has not passed strict enough regulations and has allowed countries to produce goods that we would never dare produce here. We let them produce such goods, then we buy them. We also let these people distribute equipment produced in other countries that is no longer in keeping with how we see the environment and how we consume goods and services.

Similar technical changes—still with reference to clause 3—are proposed for subsections 5(2)(a) and 5(2)(b) and subsection 5(1). In addition, this clause allows in certain circumstances for an exemption from the requirement to provide information related to the energy efficiency of energy-using products, while leaving in place the requirement for shipment and importation information.

It is a bit complicated, and I would say that that is unintentional, at least I hope so. In any case, I have confidence in my colleague from Trois-Rivières, who, in committee, will be able to ask the witnesses the necessary questions to ensure that these requirements are really intended to facilitate information sharing.

So once we know that all or nearly all consumer products and equipment come from other countries and we realize that some products and equipment do not comply with our energy efficiency standards, we need to make sure with this bill that there are no loopholes. The Conservatives like to try to introduce a bill and allow, say, the oil industry to get off scot-free. It is a bit like when they talk about their carbon exchange and use 2010 as the reference year.

Members will recall that the Kyoto protocol sets 1992 as the reference year. This means that all the industries in Quebec—the aluminum smelters and paper plants—that reduced their greenhouse gas emissions in relation to 1992 levels and succeeded in meeting the Kyoto targets will have to do so all over again in relation to the Conservative government's proposed new reference year of 2010 or 2012, even though they had achieved what no company in Canada had managed to do.

That is why, day in and day out, week after week, we in the Bloc Québécois rise in this House to make it loud and clear to all the other parties that they must not forget that the effort has already been made in Quebec. In Quebec, the large manufacturing companies have made efforts and are prepared to comply with Kyoto, but it is a different story in the other Canadian provinces, especially with oil companies and tar sands. In a way, it is sad to always have to stand up for the people of Quebec.

We too would like all the members of this House to understand what manufacturing industries and other industries in Quebec—the logging, aluminum and paper manufacturing companies that have made efforts to achieve the Kyoto objectives—are going through. If an international carbon exchange was established, they would be ready to sell their credits because they have exceeded the objectives of the Kyoto protocol. They could be making money as we speak. The environment is no longer only costing money; it has become a source of income, an area of economic interest. Now, the environment is a money maker, provided one puts in the necessary effort.

After all the efforts that have been made in Quebec, the Conservatives are suggesting that the clock be reset, proposing a new reference date of 2010 or 2012. We will start over, and the industries with emissions lower than at the reference date will be allowed to issue emission credits. We can imagine what this means for the logging, aluminum and manufacturing companies which have already made the necessary efforts. They are being asked to make an additional effort. That is why we are saying that the government has to provide compensation to those who have done better than everyone else and are being penalized.

As I mentioned earlier, when the Conservatives introduce a bill, they once again cater to polluters. They are going to warn oil companies that the year 2010 or 2012 will be the starting point, and that they will have to reduce their emissions. If the companies do that, they will be eligible for those credits. They will not even have to buy them, because they will be in a position to sell them. For those who are following this issue, it just does not make any sense.

However, this is not funny for aluminum plants, for paper mills and for all the companies that anticipated this move. The companies that wanted to sell a product abroad told themselves that they would make an effort and be conscientious. They had decided to comply with the world target set in the Kyoto protocol, with 1992 as the reference date. However, because of a decision made by the Conservative government, these people will forever pay a price, this in an already difficult economic context. Once again, the Bloc Québécois has no choice but to rise day in and day out in this House to condemn the Conservatives' way of doing things.

So, this bill seeks to amend the Energy Efficiency Act, and it is meant to be an environmental act. The Conservative Party even claims that it is part of its green plan. The nice Tory green plan that will save the environment. Still, it is a first step and it means that the government is doing something. Indeed, there are problems with electric household appliances. We import a lot of those appliances. We buy them from countries that do not have the same environmental standards, and it is only normal to impose labelling provisions. Things must be clear when these appliances arrive in Canada. We must know about their energy consumption. If they do not comply with the standards, they should simply be sent back, or they should not be bought. This is more or less what this bill seeks to do. If it does not do so in its present form, we can trust the hon. member for Trois-Rivières that it will once the committee will have dealt with it. That is the objective. This legislation will help us make progress regarding the environment. Hon. members can trust the Bloc Québécois to achieve the objective set in this bill. We are going to make sure that the process is free of “Conservative” diversion or secrecy.

Clause 4 makes several technical wording changes dealing with the records and documents that dealers must keep. In the current section 7, the documents and records must enable the minister to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information. Under this bill, they must be sufficient for the Minister to do the verification.

I agree with my colleagues who spoke before me about this bill or asked questions. This bill ought to have been amended and there should be adjustments to the legislation every five years. Industrial changes happen very quickly. The government therefore needs to be sure it can monitor the situation in order to have the legislation tailored to technological developments in the industry.

This should be done automatically. The minister wants to change the definition through clause 4 by adding the term “sufficient” relating to the documents and records the industry needs to provide. He has noticed that he was not getting what he needed to support an informed decision. So, as I said earlier, clause 4 targets the dealers, all the importing dealers who purchase products or have them manufactured offshore, very often in developing countries not required to respect the environmental standards we have set for ourselves. So if we do not have all the details we need about the manufacturing process, content or energy efficiency, it becomes rather difficult to know if the product complies with our standards and conditions.

It is therefore normal to want to cast some light on this clause. It is a matter of semantics, but does add a bit more rigour to this legislation, which probably ought to have been amended very promptly five years ago and so is likely to be totally out of date. Once again, I rely on my colleague from Trois-Rivières and my fellow members of the Bloc Québécois who will sit on the committee to ensure that this bill develops along the right lines and is adjusted as developments in the industry take place.

Clause 5 broadens regulatory powers, one of the main amendments that Bill S-3 would make to the Energy Efficiency Act. This clause amends the Governor in Council's regulatory power. The Governor in Council will now be able to implement regulations that target categories of products, not just individual products; products that control energy consumption; and products that affect energy consumption. It also amends the English version of the Act.

With respect to labelling, Part III will give the Governor in Council broader, stronger regulatory powers over all of the information included with energy-using products. Previously, the Governor in Council could regulate only information about energy efficiency. Once again, the definition has to be broadened to make it stronger. Labels will now include all of the details.

These measures were deemed necessary because it is clear that the industry, importers and dealers have done everything in their power to not reveal true energy consumption numbers so that they can sell products that cost less to produce. They did everything they could to claim that their products complied with the law even though they did not. That is one of the advantages of this bill.

However, the Conservative government must not try to use distractions to pull a fast one on us. Once again, I am counting on my colleague from Trois-Rivières and other Bloc Québécois members who will ensure that the right questions get asked in committee. Clause 5 will also make some changes.

Clause 6 is about the report to Parliament. The second major amendment relates to the minister's responsibility to report to the House of Commons. Usually, the minister has to report on the implementation and enforcement of the bill once a year. Clause 6 adds a provision requiring the minister to compare Canada's energy efficiency standards to those of the United States and Mexico every three years. The purpose of the comparison is to demonstrate the extent to which the stringency of Canadian standards matches that of the other jurisdictions. I think that is a good idea. As I said earlier, things are changing quickly in the industry.

Since I see that I have only a minute left, I will close by saying that people can count on the Bloc Québécois members, who will work hard in committee to promote the idea of a potential obligation to review the legislation every five years. This situation is very important, and it is being submitted to our colleagues so that we can guarantee our citizens that what happened in the past will never happen again. People are trying once again to conceal information and use labels that do not meet standards, in order to achieve their own goals. I can assure you, Madam Speaker, of our full support for Bill S-3, but with the improvements that the Bloc Québécois will propose in committee.