An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood)

Sponsor

Richard Cannings  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

In committee (House), as of Feb. 7, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-354.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to require that, in the awarding of certain contracts, preference be given to projects that promote the use of wood.

Elsewhere

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

Votes

Feb. 7, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-354, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood)

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2018 / 5:40 p.m.
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Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Madam Speaker, thank you very much. I am pleased to rise in the House once again.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, use of wood.

I would like to thank the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for putting this bill forward. I enjoyed our time in Kelowna discovering bookstores. I think we spent a day on the finance committee. It was a great pleasure to get to know him.

I fully agree with the spirit and intent of this proposed legislation, as it aligns well with the government's goals of supporting the Canadian forest industry and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I listened to my colleague and friend from Trois-Rivières, and I appreciate his teaching skills. I also appreciate his romanticism over forestry. I share this romanticism since my own region, the Outaouais in Quebec, was also built essentially on wood, log drivers and forestry workers. My colleague spoke about the CIP and we also have a CIP tradition in Gatineau. I very much saw myself reflected in what he said. I thank him for his speech.

First, let me speak to the motivation behind the bill, which is the desire to support the Canadian forest industry, an objective the government certainly shares.

Few countries are more bound to their forests than Canada is. Our forestry sector helped build our country and contributes significantly to the Canada of today. It is an industry that accounted for $22 billion of Canada's gross domestic product last year alone.

It also has a significant impact on more than 170 rural municipalities with economies that are tightly bound to the paper industry, pulp and paper plants, and other areas of the forestry industry. The industry employs more than 200,000 Canadians.

This includes 9,500 jobs in indigenous communities, making this industry one of the leading employers of indigenous people.

Our government is looking to the future and is proud to do its part to help the forestry sector to innovate and continue to be a vital component of our communities and our economy.

I would also remind hon. members that the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change requires that the federal, provincial, and territorial governments collaborate in promoting the greater use of wood in construction. Part of this promotion will involve updating the building codes.

This approach avoids the challenges that come with trade and supply. The 2015 National Building Code of Canada normally authorizes the construction of wood frame buildings as tall as six storeys.

However, Natural Resources Canada is supporting research and development to have the updates to the code in 2020 and 2025 authorize the construction of wood frame buildings as tall as 12 storeys.

Natural Resources Canada is also leading demonstration projects, in conjunction with industry, to encourage acceptance of high-rise wood buildings and to boost Canada's position as a global leader in wood-building construction.

I have talked about wood as a building material. I would now like to turn members' attention to areas where wood plays a part in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, another worthy component of the bill.

As we know, the government has recently committed to reducing GHG emissions from federal buildings and fleets by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. In support of the federal sustainable development strategy, PSPC is making government operations more sustainable through green building practices and other initiatives. I have been very impressed by the work of our officials in this regard.

One such initiative is the energy services acquisition program, which is well known here in our capital region, through which we are modernizing the heating and cooling system that serves about 80 buildings in Ottawa and Gatineau, including many of the buildings on and around Parliament Hill. A pilot project being carried out in advance of this modernization effort is testing woodchips for use as a possible biomass fuel. The result of this pilot project will help determine the potential for expanding this option to other federal heating and cooling plants.

PSPC is actually leading the way in embedding environmental considerations, and specifically greenhouse gas reductions, into the design and approval stages of its proposed projects.

I am pleased to say that in support of the commitment to a low-carbon government, PSPC is the first federal department to complete a national carbon-neutral portfolio plan. As such, the department now factors greenhouse gas emissions into its decisions on energy-related real property projects, from new roofs to updated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment.

All of this is to say that there is much that we are already doing in the course of our real property operations at PSPC to support the use of wood and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I want to thank the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing this bill, which will be another tool for achieving these objectives. That said, this bill would conflict with certain principles and policies and well-established, sensitive obligations of the Government of Canada, and therefore Canadians, and it may have unintended consequences. The Standing Committee on Natural Resources should consider amending Bill C-354 yet maintain the general objectives to resolve the following problems.

The proposed bill states that “the Minister shall give preference to projects that promote the use of wood, taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Though well intentioned, this provision raises some issues, two of which I will mention in particular.

The first issue relates to the Government of Canada's commitment to fairness, openness, and transparency in the procurement process, principles that are deeply enshrined in the Public Services and Procurement Canada policy. As much as Canadians no doubt want their government to support a sector as important as forestry, and we do, they also expect the government to adhere to the principle of fairness in procurement. With this in mind, we have to ask ourselves whether a minister who represents all economic sectors and all Canadians can realistically give preference to one building material over all others. If this bill were to pass as currently written, we would eventually find ourselves debating similar bills calling for similar preferences for other commodities.

The second issue I want to raise is how this bill would interact with Canada's trade obligations. This is an important consideration in federal procurement. Depending on how the provisions of Bill C-354 are interpreted and applied, the bill could be at odds with Canada's obligations under key trade agreements, such as the Canadian Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

For example, the Canadian Free Trade Agreement prohibits discrimination against the goods or services of a particular province or region. With Bill C-354 giving preference to projects that promote the use of wood, it may be interpreted as discriminating against those regions that do not supply wood.

The bill could also be interpreted as setting out a technical specification in terms of a "design or descriptive characteristic" rather than ''in terms of performance and functional requirements", or referring to a particular type of material for which no alternative is permitted. This, in turn, could be interpreted as "creating unnecessary obstacles to trade" under article 509, paragraph 1 of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement.

NAFTA, too, prohibits any technical specification with the purpose or effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to trade.

This is not even an exhaustive list of possible trade implications.

At the same time, let us not forget that the government is already an important consumer of wood products in the form of furniture. Public Services and Procurement Canada policy requires contractors to propose materials that meet the needs of a project, including the criteria of durability and performance, and that comply with the National Building Code of Canada.

In addition to being elegant, wood is a solid, durable, environmentally friendly, and sustainable material. Approximately 15% of the average annual $160 million allocated by Public Services and Procurement Canada on interior design and furnishing is spent on wood products.

While Bill C-354 poses practical challenges in its current form, its goals are sound. With the co-operation and collaboration of all members in this House, it could be amended so as not to contradict long-standing federal principles and policies. The Government of Canada is committed to leaving future generations of Canadians a sustainable and prosperous country.

I therefore encourage hon. members to support the bill so that it may move forward to committee for further study and amendments.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2018 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to start off by commending my friend and colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay for bringing forward this legislation. It demonstrates not only to his constituents but to the people of British Columbia, and to people across this great country who are involved in the wood industry, that we can bring forward practical solutions to support the work they do to promote what is truly a sustainable industry.

I have had my own personal involvement in this industry, although in only one section of it. In a previous life, I had the honour of working as a tree planter in British Columbia's forests for eight years. I have planted trees everywhere, from Kamloops to Merritt to Prince George to northern Vancouver Island. I have had an incredible glimpse of the wonderful province I call home.

We have had bad forestry practices in the past, but those practices have largely changed. I have seen, from my own point of view planting trees, that forestry companies really are taking in what consumers want. They want certification, because they know that a lot of the people who buy wood products are looking for wood that is harvested in a sustainable manner.

Across this great country, thousands of Canadians either directly or indirectly make a living working in this important industry.

Let us look at what Bill C-354 purports to do.

The bill would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to require that in the awarding of certain contracts, preference be given to projects that promote the use of wood. We can see that in the bill. It would add, after subsection 7(1), proposed subsection 7(1.1).

It has been noted in a few speeches, but it should be noted again, that great advances have been made in tall wood construction. We now know that with today's technology, it is possible to construct large, safe wood buildings quickly and economically.

Building with wood produces lower greenhouse gas emissions and sequesters more carbon than other products. This can really help Canada achieve its greenhouse gas targets under the Paris agreement. That is something all members and many citizens of this country want us to do with sound policies.

In my own neck of the woods, in coastal British Columbia, the forestry sector has had very tough times over the last several decades. Given the difficulties the forestry sector has faced over the past 20 years, innovation and new developments, such as those that allow this kind of construction, offer a path forward for the future health of this sector. As the largest procurer in Canada, the federal government can give this sector a major boost by using this cutting edge technology at home.

Most of the sawmills in my riding of Cowichan--Malahat--Langford are operated by Western Forest Products, which has facilities up and down Vancouver Island. It has a total number of employees of just over 2,000, based on 2012 figures. It might even be higher by now. The company has sold over $1 billion in products both at home and abroad.

There is a sawmill in my riding in Cowichan Bay. There are two facilities in Chemainus. In the last election, and even since then, I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of the men and women, proud unionized members of the United Steelworkers, who operate those facilities. They have good-paying jobs. They have the ability to live in our communities, raise families, and contribute to the local economy, all because of the focal point of those important sawmills in my riding, and I am sure within the ridings of many hon. members in the chamber.

People are a critical part of the wood processing industry. That includes everyone from employees to the people who live in the communities where they operate. Many people, directly or indirectly, depend on the sustainability of the business. They continually build the business, protect the tenure they have, and work co-operatively with external agencies and groups on progressive approaches to policy and operations.

I believe that the industry has come a long way and is very much committed to the communities in which it works, through employment, through sponsorships, and various operational public forums such as our public advisory groups. We know that the employees are the heart of any business operation. They are dedicated to safety, to professionalism, to their co-workers, stakeholders, and customers. They have a unique skill set which they use to achieve excellence.

I want to say a few things about wood itself as a building material. First of all, it is beautiful. Each piece of wood is a unique creation of nature. It is a fascinating process that allows such a small seedling, which I had the honour of planting throughout British Columbia, to grow into a massive and mighty giant, and from which we can derive such an amazing material. It is durable. It offers more strength in proportion to its weight than any other material. It is renewable. All the trees are harvested sustainably in sustainably managed timberlands, and they are renewed through reforestation. That is part of the law in the province of British Columbia, that every company that harvests timber is responsible for replanting it.

It is also an environmentally friendly product. It is a low-impact green alternative to energy intensive building materials, such as concrete, aluminum, steel, and vinyl, which all must be manufactured from non-renewable resources using petroleum and other carbon intensive resources in the production. I do not want to say that we should stop using those other products, but if we are serious as a nation in finding a sustainable building material that will help us achieve our goals in greenhouse gas reduction, wood is the first place to be looking.

It is biodegradable and recyclable. Wood products decompose and naturally return to the environment, unlike most manufactured or composite building materials, which can end up spending hundreds of years in landfills. It is reusable, whether as beams or compost products. It is also a natural insulator. It insulates against heat and cold which saves energy. In fact, wood is 400 times more effective as insulation than steel, and 1,800 times more effective than aluminum.

One of the big things we have seen in the debate tonight is the importance for carbon storage. Forests absorb carbon dioxide emissions that are part of the greenhouse gases connected to climate change, and store carbon in the fibre of the wood that they grow. The structures that are built from wood products continue to store this carbon while healthy young forests continue to absorb it.

Consumers, retailers, investors, and communities are taking an increased interest in how their buying decisions affect the environment for future generations. That is something that, as the father of young children, I am very much concerned with. Considering factors beyond the traditional attributes of price, service, and quality, when all of wood's positive attributes are factored in, it is obvious that wood is a good choice.

I see that my time is starting to run low, so I will begin my conclusion. I will note that in the federal government's budget 2017, it provided Natural Resources Canada with $39.8 million over four years, which will begin in fiscal year 2018-19, to support projects and activities that increase the use of wood as a greener substitute material in infrastructure projects. I believe that bringing this forward is our way of calling on the government to act on a good idea that it already supports in a very reasonable way. It will allow us to show our important support for the forestry communities across Canada, and those who work in the industry, while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

In closing, I want to again thank my friend and colleague for bringing forward this important bill. From what I have seen so far, I think there is general support from all of the major parties, especially from members who are lucky to have forestry communities within their ridings. I very much look forward to seeing the bill proceed to committee. That is where the hon. members of the committee can do the important work, hear from witnesses, and get the factual basis for why it is a good idea for the federal government to move forward on.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2018 / 6:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to join the debate on Bill C-354. It is a bill that seeks to encourage the use of more wood in construction. Up to this point in the debate, members have talked about their belief in the importance of the forestry sector.

A debate like this provides members with an opportunity to attest to their love for wood and their love for the forestry sector. However, what distinguishes our party is that when we were in government, we actually took action to support the forestry sector. When Conservatives were in government, it was not just a matter of words and professions but a matter of concrete steps that we took to ensure the health and vitality of Canada's forestry sector.

I had the pleasure of working as a political staffer for the then industry minister, a current member who is doing a great job still. In the context of the financial crisis in 2008-09, the work that he did and that we were able to do as his political staff to support Canada's forestry sector through those difficult economic times were a great credit to the last government. Frankly, the current government is far behind where we were in terms of understanding and appreciating the value of Canada's forestry sector.

When it comes to this particular bill, I generally do not like the words “virtue signal”, because I think they bring virtue ethics as a philosophical concept into disrepute, but they are often used when individuals want to signal their support for an idea, cause, or group but are not actually taking the right or necessary substantive actions to support them. There is an effort to send a signal but there are problems with the detail and a lack of action on substance.

The bill, in particular, would add language to the the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, which would say the following:

In awarding contracts for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall give preference to projects that promote the use of wood, taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, there is not a huge amount of clarity on the mechanism, the way in which the minister would give preference, taking into account other things, but it certainly does seek to direct and in a certain sense limit the flexibility of action for a minister, who I think most Canadians would agree should be looking at the best value for taxpayers, the best long-term value, as well as taking into consideration the broader public interest issues like environmental well-being and impacts on communities. All of these things are and should be taken into consideration.

However, the bill in a way seeks to give preference for one kind of building material over another. Of course, there are a range of other building materials that are produced in Canada that benefit Canadian workers, families, and communities. Therefore, it is not obvious to me why we should write into legislation a requirement to preference one kind of building material over another.

Members have given eloquent speeches about the benefits of wood, and I applaud those members and I applaud those sentiments. However, certainly, given all of those benefits, a specific preference written into legislation is not needed. In recognizing those benefits, the environmental benefits and the benefits to the Canadian economy, when decisions are made on the basis of an objective criteria between different building materials, the best option should always rise to the top if there is an effective, dispassionate analysis of the merits of different types of proposals.

Our inclination would be to not introduce into legislation a particular preference for a particular kind of industry over another industry, especially recognizing our obligations in terms of international trade and recognizing that Canadians work in different kinds of industries. It is not for the government to be trying to pick who the winner and loser will be in that kind of competition. Rather, it is in the public interest for these evaluations to happen in an objective way.

Any time we introduce additional considerations, additional factors to consider, besides that clear objective public interest analysis, it adds potential costs and leads to a situation where, because of a presumed preference, an outcome might be different from what it would have otherwise been if the criteria had been a simple evaluation of which material makes the most sense in the context of this particular project. We in the Conservative Party strongly support the forestry sector, but we do not think that support has to involve hurting other sectors. We do not believe in what seems to be a bit of a tendency on the economic left to believe that wealth is finite and that if we give support to one person we have to take it away from someone else. We think that governments should develop economic policies that benefit all sectors rather than choosing one sector over another.

The kinds of initiatives that we undertook when we were in government to support the forestry sector were on that basis. We sought international trade opportunities that would benefit all Canadian sectors. We lowered taxes in order to benefit all Canadian sectors. We lowered business taxes. We lowered the small business tax. We cut employment insurance premiums. We sought to remove regulations that prevented all sectors from succeeding in this country.

We now have a government that wants to go in the opposite direction. The Liberals are nickelling and diming all sectors. They are raising taxes through their new national carbon tax proposal. The initial proposal was to raise the small business tax rate. Then they unbroke the breaking of that promise. Across the board we see efforts by the government to impose new regulatory as well as tax burdens on all sectors. I am sorry to say that it simply is not good enough for the Liberals to try to come back from that disastrous record and say to the forestry sector, “As much as we are overburdening you with new taxes, we are going to have an ambiguous section of this bill that is going to involve giving some preference to the forestry sector over other sectors.” I say let us work on policies that will mean a rising tide lifts all boats whether they are made of wood or not.

In terms of the specific issues that the government needs to address and has failed to address thus far, one of the clearest areas affecting Canada's forestry sector is the total failure of the government to effectively engage on the international trade front. Let us contrast that with the work done under the previous government. When Stephen Harper became prime minister, he immediately said to the Americans that addressing the softwood lumber issue was a core priority. He said that directly to the president of the United States, and within a few months they got it done. The then prime minister secured a good deal for Canada, and one that lasted a very long time, until we had a new government.

The current Prime Minister has thus far dealt with two different presidents in the United States, two presidents who, dare I say, are relatively different in their approach and outlook. The first president that the current government dealt with was President Obama. We heard a lot about bromance and “dudeplomacy”. Unfortunately, this “dudeplomacy” did not get us anywhere. The diplomacy part of “dudeplomacy” was totally missing from the Prime Minister's engagement with President Obama, so he did not get it done. In the infamous words of Michael Ignatieff, he “did not get it done”. Now we have President Trump, a different president, again with no progress or results with respect to the softwood lumber issue.

The government wants to try and send a signal. It is loading up this industry with more and more taxes. It is failing to stand up for its interests with respect to international trade. It dropped the ball with President Obama. It is dropping the ball again. Now the government is saying, “We have an idea. We will support this change to the procurement rules that suggests we might, in certain circumstances, give a preference for wood.” That is not good enough. The government should stop simply trying to send signals and should start doing its job by standing up for Canada's forestry sector.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 6th, 2018 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise today to reply to the second reading debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act with regard to the use of wood in government infrastructure. I want to begin by thanking all the members who have taken part in the debate. I really appreciate that engagement, and all the views that have been put forward.

This is a critical time for our forest industry and for our fight against climate change. This bill could play an important role in both those issues.

The bill is timely, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources said, because we are at the cusp of a significant change in how we construct buildings. For over a century, large building have been built with concrete and steel. While that will continue for years to come, we have new engineered wood, or mass timber technology that can replace some or all of the concrete and steel in buildings. This is a very small part of the construction market right now, but Canadian manufacturers of engineered wood are industry leaders in North America. They just need a foot in the door to maintain and grow that position.

We need to provide direction to the government to consider wood when building large infrastructure, since, until now, it has only had concrete and steel to look to. It is not used to turning to wood as an option. We need it to turn and have a look at wood when making those decisions.

This bill simply asks the federal government to put the project materials to two important tests. The first test is the overall lifetime cost of the materials. The second test is the impact those materials would have on the carbon footprint of a building. The bill seeks to balance those two costs, the dollars and cents cost and the environmental cost. It is very similar to the wood first bill, enacted in 2009 in British Columbia, and the government procurement policies in Quebec that promote the use of wood.

In answer to what the member for Gatineau said, the bills are very similar, and they have stood the test of international trade agreements.

Off the top, I would like to discuss the two main criticisms I have heard about the bill and explain why they should not be of any real concern.

One is that it picks winners and losers, as the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan alleged just now. People say that it distorts the market. It does not do that at all. It simply asks the government to look carefully at the real costs and climate costs when choosing the best structural products. In fact, the cement industry recently asked the federal government to use exactly the same dual lens, lifetime costs and greenhouse gas emissions, when choosing structural products for infrastructure.

The second concern I hear is about fire safety of tall wood buildings. The fact is that mass wood buildings are as fire safe, or safer, than those built with steel and concrete. Those that have been built already have been designed with direct involvement and sign-off by fire chiefs. Remember, we are not talking about stick-frame buildings here. Fire acts completely differently when it encounters a beam that is a metre thick than when it encounters a 2x4. It is like sticking a match to a big log.

What are the advantages of building with mass timber? Why should the federal government want to use wood as well as the conventional steel and concrete?

First, wood sequesters carbon, and tall wood buildings can play a significant role in reaching our climate action targets. Each cubic metre of wood in a building acts to sequester one tonne of carbon.

Second, wood buildings can be built economically and efficiently, since they are typically constructed off site, then reassembled on site as each section is needed. Each piece is made with a precision unattainable with normal structural products. Engineered wood products can be exported to the United States without softwood lumber tariffs, and as other members have said here, wood buildings are beautiful.

Climate action demands a lower carbon footprint for our infrastructure, the forest industry needs more markets, and the mass timber revolution offers a means to fill both those needs. Wood buildings are safe, cost competitive, beautiful, and they fight climate change.

I am encouraged to hear words from the government side about sending the bill to committee for closer study. I really look forward to that. I ask all members here to support Bill C-354 to foster the engineered wood sector in Canada and keep our forest industry sustainable and strong.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 27th, 2017 / 11 a.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

moved that Bill C-354, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to begin debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-354, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, with regard to the use of wood in government infrastructure.

I introduced this bill at a critical time for our forest industry and for our fight against climate change. This bill could play an important role in both of those issues. There is a revolution happening around the world in how we construct buildings, the revolution of mass timber construction of engineered wood. The revolution began in Europe and has spread to North America where Canada is the leader in that technology. However, we have to work hard to keep on top here, and this bill is about that revolution and about that work. It is a bill designed to support our forest industry, and the forest industry needs support.

For the last 30 years, we have suffered through the onslaught of several softwood lumber disputes with the United States. We need to develop other markets for our wood and there are several obvious ways to do this. We could use more wood at home. We could export more wood to Asia. We could export engineered wood to the United States since it is not covered under the unfair softwood lumber tariff. All of these strategies can be tackled through mass timber construction through engineered wood.

I would like to go back to the bill itself, what it says and what it aims to do. On the surface, it is a simple bill designed to support our forest industry but there is much more to it. First, it is a recycled bill like many private members' bills and motions in this place. Similar bills have been tabled in past parliaments by members of different parties. Like those bills, it asks the federal government to give preference to the use of wood when constructing buildings, with two important caveats. Those caveats form a dual lens to help the government decide what structural material or materials to use in a building. The first issue is the overall lifetime cost of those materials; second, the government should consider the impact that those materials would have on the greenhouse gas footprint of that building. Therefore, the bill seeks to balance those costs, the dollars and cents cost and the environmental cost. It is very similar to the Wood First Act enacted in British Columbia and to government procurement policies in Quebec that promote the use of wood.

I want to say here that there is nothing to stop the government from choosing to use a number of materials in the primary structure of a building. Right now, large buildings across Canada and around the world are largely built of concrete and steel. It is the way the industry has worked for decades. However, what this bill seeks to do is to get the government to consider wood by applying that dual test. Many buildings now use a combination of wood, concrete, and steel and that would continue. One of those hybrid buildings partly made with engineered wood is the Ottawa airport, a building that I imagine a number of the members here are very familiar with.

My bill differs very little from the previous bills. What has changed is our ability to use wood as the primary structural material in large buildings, and that is why this bill is so timely and so necessary to the well-being of our forest industry and indeed the construction industry across Canada. To take advantage of these new wood technologies, we will have to steer the mindset of designers, architects, and builders, and the government procurement agents who hire them, to consider the use of wood in large buildings.

I would like to move on here to talk in a bit more detail about engineered wood, how it is made, why it makes good sense to build with it, why it is safe, why it is economical, and how it plays into Canada's climate action goals. There are two main types of engineered wood used in large buildings. First, there are the glulam beams made from dimensional lumber glued together to form large, sometimes a metre by a metre in thickness, beautiful support beams that support the floors, ceilings, and roof in the building. These beams can be used instead of the large steel beams we now use. Second are the cross-laminated timber, CLT, panels that are made in a similar manner to glulam but are formed as panels about eight or nine inches thick. These can replace some of the concrete used in walls and floors. The beams and panels are made with extreme precision, much more precisely than concrete or steel. These products are made off-site in a manufacturing plant and then moved to the building site just as they are needed, where they are joined together to construct a building, floor by floor. It is an extremely efficient way of building.

In traditional construction, the site is prepared over a number of weeks or months, the time depending on the complexity of the site and often the weather. Delays can be caused by wet weather or cold weather, both of them very common here in Canada. Then the building goes up with a concrete foundation, steel girders, building concrete frames, pouring concrete, letting the concrete cure, and then moving on to the next floor. More delays can ensue because of weather. In tall wood buildings, the concrete foundation is prepared much as in other projects, but because the beams and panels are made off-site, they can be constructed as the site is prepared. They are light enough to transport long distances to the site.

This fall, the University of British Columbia opened Brock Commons, an 18-storey student residence on campus. Brock Commons is the tallest wood building in the world. Only its foundation and the elevator shafts use concrete or steel for support. Brock Commons was built with engineered wood made at the Structurlam plants in Penticton and Okanagan Falls, 400 kilometres away. It was built in nine weeks, two floors per week, about twice as fast as a typical high-rise. The cost savings in that speed are significant.

Tall wood buildings are not only efficient to build, but can play a significant role in reaching our climate action targets. We are at a moment in history where we must take bold steps in tackling the global issue of climate change. We must reduce our carbon dioxide emissions and increase our sequestration of carbon. The Green Building Council of Canada has calculated that buildings account for about 30% of our energy use in greenhouse gas emissions, significantly more than any other sector, and the UN Environment Programme identifies buildings as offering the greatest potential for achieving significant energy and GHG emission reductions at the least cost. How we construct the buildings and what they are made of can be a huge part of those reductions.

As architect Michael Green states in The Case for Tall Wood Buildings, “Wood is the most significant building material we use today that is grown by the sun. When harvested responsibly, wood is arguably one of the best tools architects and engineers have for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and storing carbon in our buildings.” FPInnovations has calculated that each cubic metre of wood in a building acts to sequester one tonne of carbon. A 20-storey wood building takes the equivalent of 900 cars off the roads in carbon dioxide savings every year.

We can do all this and help our forest sector at the same time. As I said earlier, that sector has had tough times over the past 30 years because of the unfair tariffs on softwood. Mills have closed across the country, tens of thousands of workers have lost their jobs, and many rural communities have been very hard hit.

We can help our forest sector in two ways: develop new markets and create value-added opportunities within Canada. Engineered wood does both of these at the same time. If we build more infrastructure using wood, that would automatically boost our domestic market, and engineered wood can be exported to the United States without softwood lumber tariffs, which would expand our U.S. market. China is actively exploring the concept of building with engineered wood. Just a tiny part of that market could be a significant win for Canada.

We are in the middle of a study in the natural resources committee on the value-added sector in Canadian forestry. Engineered wood and tall wood buildings have come up time after time as the biggest opportunity for us to make gains on that front. Bill Downing, the president of Structurlam in Penticton, mentioned that his company has just received a contract to rebuild the Microsoft campus in Silicon Valley with engineered wood. From that one contract, he put in a purchase order to local Canfor mills for $4 million of dimensional lumber. The amount of $4 million is a big payday for any Canadian company, even a big one like Canfor, and that money is going to rural communities in the B.C. Interior.

Any new technology, any change, comes with concerns about the unknown. One of the questions I get most often is about the fire safety of tall wood buildings. I talked to one fire chief who said he breaks out in a sweat whenever he hears the word “wood”. The fact is that mass wood buildings are as fire-safe as those built with steel and concrete. First, the heavy beams and panels that are used are completely different from the old stick-frame construction we are used to. Fire acts completely differently when it encounters a beam that is a metre thick than when it encounters a two-by-four. It is like holding a match to a large log. Tests have shown that the material typically chars on the outside and then the fire goes out. Even a building with exposed beams and panels offers more than the standard two-hour exit time in a fire.

The U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory published findings this year from the burning of a two-storey test building, concluding that the exposed cross-laminated timber essentially self-extinguished after fire consumed the building's furnishings.

The Brock Commons student residence included design features meant to provide added assurance for safety. The panels and beams were clad in layers of fire-resistant gypsumboard, for instance. The architects pointed out that this was unnecessary, but it may well be necessary to include these features until this technology becomes more common and Canadians feel more comfortable about tall wood buildings.

Others have asked me if we have enough wood in Canada to provide the material for this new sector. The forests of North America can grow the wood used in Brock Commons, a very large building, every six minutes.

I have also been asked about the reaction from other industry sectors. Interestingly, the Cement Association of Canada was on Parliament Hill a few weeks ago lobbying for their industry, and their big ask of the federal government was to consider a dual lens when choosing material for infrastructure: the lifetime cost of the materials and the greenhouse gas emissions. That is exactly what I am proposing in this bill.

The fact is that steel and concrete have enjoyed a century of a duopoly in large-building construction. This shift to tall wood construction would not suddenly result in a significant loss in market share for either industry. We would still be constructing many buildings with steel and concrete, but any small increase in market share could be significant for the forest industry. This bill simply asks the federal government to consider wood and to remember that there is a new way of building. The wood industry just needs that foot in the door.

I have been encouraged by government action on this front. Natural Resources Canada will be providing almost $40 million in funding over the next four years to support projects and activities that increase the use of wood as a greener substitute material in infrastructure projects. This money will be used in research and testing that is essential to growing that needed confidence in a new product and in incentivizing new construction to serve as examples of just what we can do with wood.

There are many examples out there already. Chantiers Chibougamau has built numerous bridges for the mining industry in northern Quebec using glulam beams. Their engineered wood was used to build the Buffalo Sabres' training facility. The architect first proposed steel for that project, but a second look showed that wood would be more economical. The Art Gallery of Ontario was transformed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry using Douglas fir glulam arches made in Penticton, British Columbia, by Structurlam. The 284,000 square foot Rocky Ridge Recreational Facility in Calgary boasts the largest wood-constructed roof in North America, again built by Structurlam. These are iconic buildings. What I hope to promote in this bill is the construction of much more conventional buildings, such as office buildings and warehouses, from engineered wood.

Government procurement could play a huge role in expanding the engineered wood industry in Canada. Bill Downing, at Structurlam, would tell us that their company would not have gotten off the ground without the wood-first policy in British Columbia, and now it is one of the leading manufacturers of engineered wood in North America, along with Chantiers Chibougamau.

Forest companies across Canada are looking to this new sector to help them survive or even flourish. All these companies would benefit from government procurement to make that leap into a new technology. J.D. Irving has gone to Europe to look at the burgeoning mass timber construction sector there. France intends to build 30% of its new residential buildings with wood over the next 30 years.

Wood buildings are safe, cost-competitive, and beautiful, and they fight climate change. I ask all members to consider wood, support Bill C-354, foster the engineered wood sector in Canada, and keep our forest industry strong.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 27th, 2017 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate on Bill C-354, which was introduced by my colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay. This bill amends the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act with respect to the use of wood.

We recognize that the purpose of this bill is to give preference to projects that promote the use of wood in awarding federal construction, maintenance, and repair contracts, taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. However, I would like to draw my colleagues' attention to initiatives our government has already introduced to support the Canadian forestry sector.

First is the assistance package for the forest industry. In June 2017, the government announced its continued support for the softwood lumber industry in the form of an $867-million assistance package for the forest industry, workers, and communities impacted by recent tariffs imposed by the United States.

Second is the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. This framework, adopted in 2016, is a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy, accelerate clean economic growth, and build resilience to the impact of climate change. The framework's actions, supported by announcements in budget 2017, will enable Canada to meet or even exceed its target to reduce emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Under the framework, our government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.

I should point out that these measures include federal-provincial-territorial collaboration to promote the use of wood in construction. One way to do that is by introducing new building codes. In the 2017 budget, Natural Resources Canada received $39.8 million over four years to support projects and activities that increase the use of wood in construction and create new markets for sustainable Canadian products.

Lastly, to assess the environmental impact of construction projects, Public Services and Procurement Canada is committed to using industry-recognized assessment tools to ensure the best possible environmental performance. These tools help the department make informed decisions when estimating the environmental impact of construction materials and their use in construction projects.

Any changes made to the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act must be in compliance with Canada's free trade agreements and must uphold the government's contracting principles, namely equality, openness, transparency, competition, and integrity. Our government strongly supports the Canadian forestry sector, which represents hundreds of thousands of good jobs for the middle class all across the country. This high-tech sector has serious value-added potential and is key to some of the biggest issues of our time: combatting climate change, fostering innovation, and creating economic opportunities for rural and indigenous communities. This is why were are allocating more than $150 million over four years to support clean technology in the natural-resources sector, including the forestry sector.

Through our softwood lumber action plan, we are investing $867 million to support workers and communities to diversity our markets, which I think my colleague mentioned when he referred to the Chinese market, a very large and interesting opportunity for Canadian lumber, and to facilitate access to a range of financial services for our producers on commercial terms.

Through programs such as the expanding market opportunities program, we are looking to increase exports to other foreign markets in order to increase competition in the long term and to make the forestry sector more sustainable. We strongly support Canada's forestry sector, as well as the long-term health and transformation of this sector.

To conclude, I believe that the aspirational objective of Bill C-354 could be a complement to the actions our government has already taken to support the long-term sustainability of Canada's softwood lumber industry. In my opinion, it merits an in-depth study by committee to evaluate all the potential ramifications and to avoid unforeseen consequences.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 27th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to continue the debate on this private member's bill.

I first want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing this bill. In my view, discussions of private members' bills, which advance the ideas and individual interests of MPs and the concerns of their constituents, constitute the most important hours of debate in the House. I do not always agree with all the bills introduced in the House; sometimes I must oppose them, and other times I support them. However, It is always good to see what MPs are interested in when they introduce bills, and also the discussions and ideas that they bring to the House to be debated.

I would like to mention that I worked for a sustainable development department. I was in financial administration, and a special division of this department was responsible for Alberta's forests. I worked very closely with this special division.

After that I was a political advisor to the sustainable development minister, who was responsible for forestry. One of our key roles was to oversee the renegotiation of forestry management agreements with individual companies, something I am very interested in. I also worked with forestry companies in Alberta during those renegotiations.

This is not the first time Canada's Parliament debates a bill like Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood). One hon. member told me that this might be the fourth time; this has been discussed in previous Parliaments. Bills C-429 and C-574 also addressed the topic.

The bill states:

(1.1) In awarding contracts for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall give preference to projects that promote the use of wood, taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Again, I appreciate the intent of this bill, which seeks to strengthen Canada's forestry sector. We can all agree that any effort to strengthen any economic sector in Canada is commendable.

I will be sharing my thoughts on the member's bill. His intention is understandable. However, we must think of the repercussions this bill will have not only on the forestry industry, including sawmills, for example, but also on other industries, like cement manufacturing, public and private construction, and construction in general.

In February 2014, the former member for Jonquière—Alma introduced Bill C-574, which was also supported by some members of his party. The Conservative Party opposed the bill at the time.

As we know, the amendment being made to the act will result in changes to the way the government approaches procurement and how it renovates its buildings. This could be interesting. However, this bill, which will affect the maintenance and repair of federal real property, will cause problems in the public procurement process that will be difficult to solve. I read the debates that have occurred in other Parliaments many times, because I wanted to inject some new ideas. I did not want to merely repeat the same thing other members have already said, because I hope to contribute a more philosophical perspective to this debate. I did not want to just repeat the opportunities this will open for the forestry industry and the repercussions it will have on workers in that sector.

I know that a life-cycle cost analysis produced by the United States Department of Defense some years ago demonstrated that wooden structures cost 40% less per square foot than steel or masonry structures. The cost of construction was 37% less for wood than for other materials.

Operating costs are also less for wood. I always say that a free-trade-based market should be able to benefit from theses sorts of efficiencies and the lower operating costs. Architects and others who decide what type of building will be built and with what materials look at those costs and that type of report.

It is the marketplace that will decide. I think that implementing this sort of legislative measure would require a major regulatory review and update and would put financial pressure on entrepreneurs and some provinces to conduct policy reviews and make changes. What is more, any potential legal challenges from construction sectors other than the wood sector could prove to be long and costly for the government. I believe that the best people to make these types of decisions regarding buildings are construction professionals, architects. They are in the best position to make this sort of decision. We should not rely on a law that would favour one material over another. That would take away the architects' and construction companies' power to choose. They can choose to go with wood if they want to and if they can do so in a way that will cost the government less, or they can do renovations that will reduce the government's operating costs in the future.

I believe that the code of practice and professional standards for architects and builders would be the best place to promote the benefits of wood construction. This building is a very good example. It is built of stone but much of the interior is made of wood. This building has stood for a very long time. We know that building with wood has advantages, and it is also beautiful, as we can see around us. The House was a success for those who built it.

This legislation would also have a major impact on the regulatory regime, as I mentioned. It would probably result in unexpected changes to the regulations of other departments and would establish a precedent that could lead to challenges in other sectors. As I mentioned, the steel and concrete sectors are two examples that come to mind. The National Building Code, which is the basis for provincial building codes, would definitely be affected by this legislation.

When I read the bill, I asked myself what the member's objective was and what effect he hoped it would have on those who bid on projects for the construction of government buildings. If we give preference to wood for the construction and renovation of federal buildings, the bill will indirectly promote one sector over another. All these sectors are vital to Canada's economy. We do not take away from one sector or another. Every sector is vital to Canada's economy to ensure growth and good jobs.

This would favour the economies of certain regions over others, in direct contravention of the mission of Public Works and Government Services Canada, which is to apply an open, fair, and transparent procurement process in order to obtain the best possible value for the government. This for me is the problem with the bill. It could result in job losses in the concrete and steel industries, which would be an economic substitution. There may not necessarily be new growth, but other sectors could lose contracts and be unable to continue working in the construction sector, as concrete, stone, or steel is discarded in favour of wood. I think this is a problem. It does not necessarily lead to new economic growth or to new jobs, but simply replaces one sector's jobs with another's.

In closing, I would like to talk about Frédéric Bastiat, a 19th-century French economist, member of the French National Assembly, and well-known Liberal polemicist who wrote a book called Economic Sophisms. Chapter 7 of his book is known as the Candle Makers' Petition. He wrote this fictitious petition as a way to prove an economic point. The premise is that candle makers are petitioning the government to force everyone to board up all windows and live in the dark so that they will have to buy candles. By depriving people of sunlight, they hope to create economic growth. The petition says that it is not fair for people to have access to sunlight for free and that they should be forced to buy the candle makers' products. This is a bit of an extreme example of sophism.

In simpler terms, this is about the economic substitution effect and consumer choice. In short, new jobs and potential economic growth are not necessarily a source of economic activity. At the end of the day, who will make the decisions? Will it be the architects, the builders, or the MPs in this House? We should allow the architects and the builders to make the best choices they can rather than legislating to impose one choice or another.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 27th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Rémi Massé Liberal Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and commend her for her excellent speech. I am pleased to rise this morning to speak to Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood).

As my NDP colleague, the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, said in the House of Commons, this bill asks the government to assess the material options for large buildings, balancing the overall dollar cost of the project and the impact of its greenhouse gas footprint.

During the October 19 debate, he stated:

This bill is not meant to exclude non-wood materials but simply to ask the government to look at these new wood technologies that can be used to create beautiful, safe, and environmentally sound buildings.

The forestry sector plays a key role in the economy of my riding of Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia and the Canadian economy in general. I know that I speak on behalf of the government when I say that we strongly support the Canadian forestry industry.

According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, the forestry industry provides over 230,000 quality jobs for middle-class Canadians across the country. Last year, it contributed over $23 billion to Canada's nominal GDP.

The forestry industry is a high-value, high-tech industry that plays a key role in addressing some of the biggest challenges of our time, such as combatting climate change, driving innovation, and creating economic opportunities for indigenous and rural communities.

Those are not just empty words. We have taken practical measures to support the forestry industry. I would like to take a few moments to remind the House of those measures.

Our government allocated over $150 million over four years to support clean technologies in our natural resource sectors, including the forestry industry.

As part of our softwood lumber action plan, we are investing $867 million to help workers and communities diversify their markets to make it easier for them to access a range of financial services on commercial terms.

This is what we are talking about: loan guarantees through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada; access to the work-sharing program to help employers and employees supplement their incomes; funding to the provinces to provide financial support to workers who are looking for work during the transition; new funding for the indigenous forestry initiative to support indigenous participation in economic development activities; extending the investments in forestry industry transformation program and the forest innovation program.

Thanks to initiatives such as the program for export market development, we are actively seeking other foreign markets to export to, in order to strengthen the forestry industry's competitiveness and sustainability.

One of our government's top priorities is the fight against climate change, and the forestry sector will have an important role to play in that regard.

The pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, adopted in 2016, is a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions, promote clean economic growth, and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The framework's actions, supported by announcements in budget 2017, will help Canada to meet or even exceed its target to reduce emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

The federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work together to promote greater use of wood in construction, for example, by updating building codes.

Budget 2017 also proposes to provide Natural Resources Canada with $39.8 million over four years to support projects and activities that promote greater use of wood as a greener alternative for infrastructure projects, as well as opening up new markets for more sustainable Canadian products.

In the framework, our government committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and its vehicle fleet to 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. As the government's common service provider, Public Services and Procurement Canada plays a leading role in achieving those objectives.

To further support those objectives, our government uses the latest tools to assess environmental impact. Public Services and Procurement Canada is committed to using industry-recognized assessment tools for high environmental performance to measure the impact of construction projects. These tools help the department make informed decisions when evaluating the use of various materials in any given construction project and their environmental impacts. These measures show that we are steadfast in our support of the Canadian forestry industry and its long-term health and transformation.

I feel that the bill we are debating today deserves to be studied in committee. All potential measures our government could take to support the forestry industry deserve a closer look. I encourage the committee to ensure that this bill complies with the free trade agreements we have signed and with the government's procurement principles.

As everyone knows, Canada is signatory to the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Government Procurement. Each one of these agreements imposes certain obligations on Canada with regard to public procurement. It is therefore important to examine the repercussions this bill could have for these agreements.

Furthermore, the government must adhere to the principles of fairness, openness, transparency, competition, and integrity in procurement. These principles are intended to ensure Canadians' confidence in their procurement system and in the way we do business on their behalf.

That being said, these issues are not insurmountable. Some creativity may be required, but it is absolutely worth the effort. We parliamentarians have a duty to ensure this bill receives proper consideration. I hope my colleagues from all parties will come together to continue seeking ways for our government to support the forestry sector.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 27th, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.
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Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that I have been able to speak to this legislation. As a former parliamentary secretary for natural resources for six years, I saw a couple of different versions of it. It came out in 2010 as Bill C-429, which was written a bit differently, and then in the last Parliament, in 2014, as Bill C-574. The bills might have had some different text, but the approach was the same as the Bill C-354 that is before us today.

The bill calls on the government to amend section 7 of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act by highlighting the use of wood. It talks about the following:

In awarding contracts for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall give preference to projects that promote the use of wood, taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

I am not sure that the wood industry needs this type of protection and government involvement. As a parliamentary secretary in the past, I saw the strength of the wood industry across Canada. I had an opportunity to go to forest products innovations, FPInnovations, in Vancouver. It has three centres across the country that work on promoting wood. It is a multi-partnership project. The government and private industry worked together to set up a non-profit company so it could study wood and wood manufacturing, new technologies, and the creation of new products. It has certainly been a successful non-partisan project, with both working together.

It is interesting to note the size of the wood industry. I read that the U.S. non-residential market was worth $289 billion in 2010. That is a phenomenal number. In Canada, the industry has been valued at $29 billion. Those are big amounts of money being spent on wood construction in North America, and that is non-residential.

I should touch on the fact that early in our government, we were able to make a softwood lumber agreement that was acceptable across this country. That agreement was extended in 2015 and went to the end of 2015. It brought peace to that industry for a number of years. Canadian companies had the opportunity to go not only around the world with their products, but particularly into the United States. Canada has had access to the U.S. market for so long that it is unfortunate the Liberal government has failed to be able to bring a softwood lumber agreement forward. That has had an impact on the Canadian marketplace, and that will continue.

The Liberal government is talking about sending this legislation to committee, but we are certainly not dealing with some of the bigger issues, the bigger failures, that the government has faced in dealing with this subject.

A number of flaws are created by supporting this legislation. As soon as government picks one industry or one person or one entity over others, there are imbalances and challenges right away, in a number of places in the system.

I would like to point out that picking one product in order to highlight it for construction across Canada certainly, in our opinion, contravenes Canada's legal obligations under a number of provisions in international and domestic trade agreements. Those agreements typically prohibit any kind of discriminatory, unnecessary barriers to trade, and any legislation that then begins to highlight and amend that process will be challenged basically immediately.

With respect to contract tendering requirements, we built provisions into the tendering process so that one type of product could not be highlighted or favoured over others. It is obvious that if that were to happen, other industries, such as steel and concrete, are going to question what is going on when their products are set aside while the government tends to favour a competitive product.

It also would contravene domestic agreements, for example, the agreement on internal trade, if we start talking about government tendering being affected by the use of particular products. That agreement actually prohibits the introduction of any kind of a bias in the form of technological specifications in favour of particular goods or services, unless there is some need in terms of safety or those kinds of things, for that to be there.

We do not believe that Bill C-354 is going to be a good bill for the government to pass. I know it is a private member's bill, but it seems like the message we are getting from the other side, which is a very strange and different one for the government to be giving, is that the government is going to be sending this to committee to be studied. Typically, if that is the case, we see these bills going forward from there.

I do not have very much time to speak to this issue today, but one of the other things we are concerned about is that this could be begin to affect things like NAFTA. The government has failed on NAFTA negotiations as well. It is apparent that things are not going very well there, at all.

The Liberals have never had a commitment to trade. They have never been able to see a way through to getting these free trade agreements done. Certainly we do not want to see something else that is going to start impacting NAFTA, or whatever follows from that. We do not want to see things impacting our WTO agreements. We certainly do not need our free trade agreements to be violated.

The market is a powerful thing. It chooses, based on the quality of the products that are available there. We all believe that wood is very competitive. It is able to compete with concrete and steel. There are other places where the other products are critical. I have watched four high-rise apartments go up in the area where we live here in Ottawa in the last 10 years, and if they did not have concrete and steel in them, they certainly would not have been built to the height that they are.

It is good to see that the new lumber building codes are changing as well, so they can do the four-storey buildings now. They are also looking at six stories, and perhaps up to 10. Those are the kinds of innovations that we need to see, new products and new technology. We do not need the government to be interfering with the marketplace, especially on things as important as construction across this country.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActRoutine Proceedings

April 13th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-354, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood).

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia for seconding the bill.

The bill calls on the government to give preference to construction with wood when building infrastructure, balancing those decisions on the relative costs of various building materials and the savings in greenhouse gas emissions that those materials might produce.

Designers of modern buildings too often do not think of wood when creating new infrastructure, and there are many reasons to consider wood. It would provide a boost to the Canadian forest industry that is looking to increase domestic markets for their products. It would lower the carbon footprint of large buildings. Buildings made of mass wood products can be built more quickly than conventional buildings, and they are just as safe.

Canada is a world leader in the design and construction of wood buildings. I hope that the bill will promote the construction of many beautiful, clean, and safe buildings made from Canadian wood.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)