Mr. Speaker, for those who are watching, today we are talking about how to ostensibly address the issue of climate change. At least that is what the Liberal government would have people watching believe. Unfortunately, the motion before the House of Commons that we are debating today does not talk about the economy and has absolutely no action in it whatsoever. More than anything, this gives the House an excellent opportunity to discuss the Liberal government's failures in the last three and a half years on both climate change and the economy. By quantitative metrics, the government has failed on both issues. That is what I want to lay out today. I also want to lay it out in the context of the amendment the Conservative Party has presented on this motion.
I want to start by reading an article from the National Post from August 9, 2016. The title is “Serious questions about GHG policy”, and the subheading is, “Those championing a carbon tax are positioning it as a silver bullet. But the fact remains that there are legitimate questions to be raised about Canada's approach to reducing greenhouse gases.” The article is from 2016, so the carbon tax was not fully implemented yet. It reads:
[The] Liberal government is developing a framework to implement a national price on carbon. Those championing this policy instrument are positioning it as a silver bullet. They offer a delicious premise: a carbon tax won’t cause any pain, while immediately reducing GHG emissions in Canada. But the fact remains that there are legitimate questions to be raised about Canada’s approach to reducing greenhouse gases.
First, Canadians have a right to know how much emissions the government wants to cut, on what timeline it plans to do it and why?
Why did it set those targets? What is it going to do on the issue of climate change?
The article continues:
What are the opportunity costs of us setting that target? It’s difficult to measure if a policy is working...if we don’t know what we hope for it to achieve. To date, the political exercise of setting emissions targets in Canada has mostly been about “my arbitrary target is bigger than yours,” rather than discussing what is achievable under different scenarios.
And what about other countries? Canada has a relatively low overall GHG-emissions profile. Even if we impose one of the most restrictive GHG-reduction frameworks in the world, what can we do to make major emitters like Brazil, India, China and the United States reduce their GHG profiles? What happens if we implement a framework that makes our industries less competitive than those located in developing countries? What evidence do we have that a given policy proposal will work? Have the billions of dollars that Canada has spent on global mitigation and adaption efforts made any impact? It will take more than just domestic policy to influence change.
In terms of putting a national price on carbon, we need to know whether that’s the best policy option to reduce GHG emissions.... At what price does demand for gasoline, heating fuel and other carbon products actually decrease in Canada, by how much and over what time period? What impact will it have on Canadian workers and lower-income Canadians? Will one region of the country be affected more than others?
Where would all of your carbon tax dollars go? Will revenue from this tax go into general government coffers to offset large operational spending deficits, will it be used to offset the economic impact of the tax or will it fund the development of new technologies? How would this process be managed and how much will it cost to manage?
Recent reports show that regulations on specific high-emission sectors, such as vehicles and the coal-fired electricity sector, have caused GHG emissions to grow at a slower rate. More importantly, this happened while the Canadian economy was growing.
Of course, that reference is to a policy that happened under the former Conservative government.
The article goes on:
The decoupling of economic growth in Canada’s natural resource intensive economy from GHG emissions growth is positive progress.
Any national GHG reduction policy framework should set achievable targets. It should be able to be transparently costed and measured. It should simultaneously reduce GHG emissions, protect the job security of Canadian workers and protect lower-income Canadians. If a proposed GHG policy fails to show that it can reduce GHG emissions, or if it will have a detrimental effect on the economy, we should reject it.
This likely means that presenting...[an idea that a carbon tax is]...a painless, standalone cure-all is a fallacy in the cold, natural resource-[driven]...economy that is Canada. Our GHG policy will likely need to consider phased-in, sector-[by-sector]...regulations (the current federal government isn’t talking about repealing regulations put in place by the previous government), developing and adopting new, more efficient technologies and other approaches.
The article talks about the carbon tax and asking Canadians to “make a financial sacrifice, and Canadians should have a say on whether or not they want to make it.” We are seeing that happen with the provinces right now.
The article continues:
The cost of GHG policy shouldn’t be hidden in bafflegab line items on their electricity bills, in order to avoid political scrutiny. Similarly, we should hold proponents of these policies to account for their GHG emission...targets, regardless of their political stripe....
this requires a non-dogmatic conversation about this issue. That, however, will take megatonnes of effort by all of us.
It is a pretty good article. Do members know who that was written by in 2016? It was written by me. This was in the National Post three years ago, and the government has done nothing on any of these questions.
Day after day, we sat in the House of Commons and asked the Liberals how much they were going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by. How much tax would the residents of High River have to pay to not flood again? What are the price elasticity assumptions of their carbon tax? None of these things have been answered. Every day they complain about what the Conservatives are doing. We have been asking these questions for three years, after the Conservatives presented a track record of reducing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions while seeing the economy grow. What we have seen under the current Liberal government is the opposite. If anything, greenhouse gas emissions are rising, because the Liberals have not put forward a plan that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They have just put forward a tax plan.
What have we seen? My riding is out of work. That is because the current government is not using a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It knows that it will not do anything. All it is doing is taking money out of the pockets of Canadians. That is wrong, because a carbon tax disproportionately affects low-income Canadians. It puts small businesses out of positions where they can hire more people. It is flawed public policy.
In the last three years, something very interesting has happened. Because there are people like me, and others, and yes, I have a degree in economics, economists have started backing off. The most militant pro-carbon-price economists have started backing off. When the Prime Minister first started talking about the carbon tax, he used reducing greenhouse gas emissions as the policy outcome.
Everyone around the world was saying that climate change is a problem. If climate change was not going to be a problem, what did we need to do? We needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I want to read this great quote. I love this quote. It was written on October 1, 2017, once the anger in this country starting mounting against the carbon tax. It is in Alberta Views magazine. It is an excellent article that is well researched. It is titled, “The Carbon Tax: Will it reduce pollution?” The author writes:
For many economists, the price increase is enough. “I don’t think we should actually care too much about what the specific effect on emissions will be,” says Trevor Tombe, assistant professor of economics at the University of Calgary.
I thought the whole point was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Do members notice the shift in dogmatic language? It went from, “We are going to reduce gas emissions” to “We have to somehow cover up and change the language, because we are stealing from people, and it is not going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Now, when the high priestess of the climate change cocktail circuit gets up here in the House and talks about a price on pollution, it is not a price on pollution. If the carbon tax is supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, why are major emitters exempt from it?
She stood up in the House of Commons and said that all of these major oil and gas companies were standing behind Premier Rachel Notley and championing the carbon tax and saying that at $40 a ton it was great, it was wonderful. Of course those companies were standing there; they had already priced that into their production models. They did not have to do anything to reduce their greenhouse gas emission profile.
All that did was price the junior oil and gas companies out of competitiveness. These were companies that had profit margins that would not allow them to operate when that price was coming on top of Bill C-69 and Bill C-42, which had punitive detrimental impacts on investment in those companies. All it did was price them out of the market. Bigger companies could come in and consolidate the assets, and that is the only way there has been any profit growth in the energy sector.
Then fast-forward to today, and where are all those big companies? They are saying, “Bye. See you later.” Why would they possibly invest in a country where the government fails, day after day, to provide any sort of stability in the regulatory sector? Bill C-69 does not have any positive impact on the environment, except in the opinion of far-left activists who do not think we should have an energy sector. Why? It is because the only environmental outcome they want is no development in the energy sector. Bill C-69 and Bill C-42 make the regulatory process so uncertain that we cannot attract investment in Canada.
It is even worse when we look at this problem from a climate change perspective. Let us say we lose that investment to other countries. What happens? Does global demand for carbon decrease? No, we have seen global demand for carbon increase, and somebody is going to be supplying that demand.
When the Minister of Environment and the Prime Minister price Canadian energy out of competitiveness and those contracts go to the United States, which has no carbon tax and less regulation, or to Saudi Arabia, the bastion of environmental standards and women's equality, and those jobs and those products go to those countries and that demand is met by those countries, we are actually perpetuating the problem of climate change, because that energy production is not happening in a country where we already have some of the strictest environmental standards in the world.
There is no plan in this proposal. If the government were serious about addressing climate change, it could have read through every single one of the questions that I outlined in 2006. We do care about climate change, but if we are going to be serious about it, we cannot put forward policy that has no measurable outcome, outside of loss of jobs.
Let us talk about displacing the climate change burden.
It is such a bourgeois, champagne-Liberal philosophy to say, “I can afford a carbon tax, because I have my Bentley and my Grey Poupon and my trips to the Aga Khan island. It is great for me. I will just charge my grocery bill at the Whole Foods Market to the taxpayer here.” That is great for that person, the Prime Minister of Canada, but it is not great for somebody who is being punished.
Let us say it is a steelworker in Canada, someone who cares about climate change and cares about having a job. The government allows the Chinese to come in and dump steel, while our manufacturers are subject to a carbon tax that the Chinese are not subject to. Our steel is not competitive, so we lose jobs in that sector while we are benefiting an economy that has no rules on carbon emissions.
That is really the nub of the climate change issue. I have been to some of these meetings around the world, and nobody there actually cares about having the tough conversation. If someone reaches into their purse and pulls out a phone that was tariff-free from a country that has coal-fired electricity, has very bad labour laws and is able to produce that phone cheaply because of a lack of a carbon tax, that is where we are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. However, nobody wants to have that conversation, because it is the tough conversation. This is why the Kyoto protocol did not work. It was because there were no binding requirements on emissions.
The Liberal government is going on the climate change cocktail circuit day after day, having pictures taken and sitting around tables covered in grass that cost $50,000 and saying, “I am contributing to the environment with my paper straw.” That is not changing outcomes.
The government has had three and a half years to do the same hard work that we started. Kyoto did not work and the United States and China have to step up to the table, but those conversations do not happen under the Liberals. We know that. We know it because we see it with the rest of their trade policies.
Now, of course we have to take action here at home. Of course we do. However, Canada is a place where it is cold eight months out of the year. A lot of our country does not have the luxury of being able to access public transit. Those people having trouble accessing it have to drive to work in a lot of places. Even people who are watching from the Greater Toronto Area and are looking at the gas prices in Vancouver may wonder what they are going to do at $1.80 a litre when they have to sit in traffic for an hour and a half. Because of its ineptitude, the government has not even been able to get the money out that the former Conservative government committed to years ago. What is that going to do for me?
The only behaviour that the $1.80-a-litre gas price will change, as we have seen in province after province after province, is voting intention. Nobody is going to support a carbon tax, because the emperor has no clothes. A carbon tax does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions; it kills jobs and it is bad public policy. It is bourgeois public policy. It is elitist public policy. It says that if someone is a low-income mom, it does not matter that she has to fill up her gas tank. It does not matter that someone who works in the energy sector is going to lose his or her job to Oklahoma or Texas or somewhere in the U.S. that has a more competitive regime.
To anybody in Canada who cares about climate change, the government is out to lunch with this motion. I do care about climate change, and that is why I am presenting a viewpoint that is opposite to the virtue-signalling nonsense that the government is putting forth. Pictures in a Climate Crusader costume do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Giving $12 million to a privately funded rich corporation like Loblaws does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate welfare handed out to whatever lobbyists can buy the environment minister the best steak dinner do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is going to take tough policy, like the policy we put in place with the coal-fired electricity sector and passenger vehicles, to reduce that curve over time.
With regard to the oil and gas sector, we cannot put in place a policy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector by killing the oil and gas sector. I wish there were people with the political courage to stand up and say that this is the policy objective. Let us have that debate. I will win that debate; they will not.
There is a reason we did not put regulations in place on the oil and gas sector with regard to greenhouse gas emissions. Why? It was because of the Americans. I was there when people thought Barack Obama was the climate change champion. Does anyone really think that Barack Obama was going to put a carbon tax in place when he knew that the major industry in the U.S. was just coming on stream with a supply that was going to change them from a net energy importer to an energy-independent nation? Of course not. Then why would we regulate our industry out of competitiveness when we know that we can produce cleaner energy than they can with our own clean technology?
It is all about smart public policy that sets a sweet spot so that industry is incented to adopt clean technology—which a carbon tax is not going to do—while ensuring that people in my community do not lose their jobs and that we continue to attract foreign direct investment and capital so that there are incentives for adopting that clean technology. That is the type of public policy discussion that we need on climate change.
All that has been happening in the House of Commons this week was that the Liberals and the NDP were out-Liberalling and out-NDPing themselves on virtue-signalling, do-nothing motions in Captain Planet costumes. Anybody who cares about climate change in this country should vote against that and reject that. Anybody in this country who cares about jobs and the economy should ensure that the Leader of the Opposition becomes the prime minister of this country.