Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here at 11:15 at night to talk about Bill C-57, a bill that seeks to make amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
Someone else was commenting about time allocation today, and there is something about the Gordie Howe hat trick, like a goal, an assist, and a fight. We almost had a government House leader hat trick here today with the closure motion and two time allocation motions.
The Federal Sustainable Development Act has been in place since 2008. It was introduced during the previous Conservative government. I am pleased to see steps are being taken to ensure that it remains relevant in our current landscape.
Jim Prentice, our colleague whom we sadly lost in an aviation accident, said it best: “We must balance environmental issues with economic and social considerations. By doing so, we can make long-term sustainable progress on the environment that is integrated with progress on the economic and social agenda for Canadians.” Most of us in this place, if not all of us, will agree with that.
The bigger point here, though, is making sure we have both environmental protection and economic success. Our previous government did that, which is why the current government kept our environmental plans. The biggest difference, arguably, is that it just slapped a new name on the department.
Suffice it to say that we agree that sustainability is a fiscally responsible decision, especially in a country where natural resources play such a substantial role in our economy. That is why this side of the House has been pushing so hard on Trans Mountain, on ensuring that the government takes action to ensure that this pipeline gets built.
Now we find ourselves in a bind, because apparently the only way the government could make this happen was to throw a bunch of money at Kinder Morgan. Perhaps this could be an indication that the Liberal approach to attracting and maintaining business partnerships is not working.
There was a story yesterday in Bloomberg entitled—and I will adjust the title so as not to name anyone—“[The Prime Minister]'s Hipster Economics Looked Great Until Trump Cut Taxes”. Many may think this judgment is a bit harsh, but I think the criticism is warranted, and here is why.
Canada needs Kinder Morgan and other energy investment. We have been saying this for months and years. Energy investment means thousands of jobs for Albertans and workers across Canada. It means growth for our provinces and increased revenues for the economy.
What has happened with Trans Mountain, a project that has been so ineptly handled by the government that taxpayers are now owners of a pipeline, is not surprising, given the attitude of the government toward business growth, and it will certainly not be the last time it happens.
As the Bloomberg article says:
Around the country, business owners and corporate executives are grumbling. Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia are also boosting minimum wages. The federal government is requiring provinces to put a price on carbon emissions to help fight climate change in a program that could push power bills up further. Railroad bottlenecks threaten Canada's standing as a major commodities exporter. There's insufficient pipeline capacity for the oil-sands boom.
On a continent where our neighbour is cutting corporate taxes, pumping the brakes on regulatory policy, and undoing much of the tangles of red tape, Canada has become the regulation-happy, carbon-tax-wielding, under-investment monster that businesses fear, and the ones we had managed to keep at least for a while are now fleeing the country.
What incentive is there for businesses like Kinder Morgan to stay? There is next to none, basically.
In the case of Trans Mountain, the government's response is not to address the problems stemming from the beast it has created but instead to dip a little more into the public purse and throw out more money borrowed from our kids, our grandkids, and our great-grandkids.
While I and my colleagues understand that the environment is important in considering federal policy, it must be done responsibly, not just to fight climate change but to protect economic prosperity as well, and that is something we have yet to see from the government.
The trend we have been seeing is that the government loves to say it is doing something, with absolutely zero follow-through. It is almost as if we see more apologies in the House than bills passed.
The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled a report outlining how the government has fallen short in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change, something we have been saying would happen for years.
The Liberal government has pie-in-the-sky ideas with absolutely no ability to get anything done. It aims for the headline and walks back the actual policy when it comes time to get something done. The Liberals cannot even follow their own plan, and the environment commissioner agrees. Here is an example from the report.
Report 2 from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's 2018 Spring Report states:
Overall, we found that the Government of Canada had not developed a formal approach to implement the 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals.
It went on:
[D]espite some specific action at the departmental level, there was still no federal governance structure based on clearly articulated departmental roles and responsibilities by November 2017. We found no communication plan and no engagement strategy on how to include other levels of government and Canadians in a national dialogue on the 2030 Agenda.
Here is the commissioner's statement on the government's outstanding record on the environment so far:
First, the federal government does not regularly balance the three pillars of sustainable development [economic, environmental, and social].
Second, there is a lack of leadership for many sustainable development activities.
Third, the federal government has not implemented the tools it already has to assess the impacts of policy decisions on sustainable development.
This, in itself, is why we need the Federal Sustainable Development Act. We need to ensure that we are balancing all aspects of sustainability, not just the things that get a headline in the Toronto Star, and that we are doing more than just talk.
I want to look at the environment and climate change departmental plan, the annual departmental plan that gets released when the estimates come out. In the plan's introduction, the minister says that she is pleased to present it. I would be very embarrassed to present the plan that she has.
The former parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, said that departmental plans are mere communication devices, and this report is proof. The Treasury Board president, in his failed estimates reform, promised to address this but has not.
This is what the Treasury Board website says about the departmental plans:
The Policy on Results sets out the fundamental requirements for...departmental accountability for performance information...while highlighting the importance of results in management and expenditure decision making, as well as public reporting.
Basically, it is saying, “Here are our plans, and here is what the results are going to be. This is what we are going to spend, and this is what we are going to achieve.”
However, I want to look at the environment departmental plan. Yes, I have read them; I do not think many people have. I am going to read the planned results.
For departmental result indicators on GHG emissions from light-duty vehicles, the target is a 21% improvement, which is fair enough, “for manufacturer model year 2017 reporting relative to 2011 model year”. One would think that if we were going to reduce it from 2011 to 2017, this already being 2018, which is odd, we would have what the GHG emissions are right now. The target date to achieve it is 2018, but under “actual results” for last year and the years before to compare it against, the comment is “This is a new indicator. Results are not available from previous years.” Fair enough, we have nothing to compare it to.
The next is GHG emissions from heavy-duty vehicles: “Percentage improvement in GHG emissions performance for manufacturer model year 2018-2020 reporting relative to the 2010 model year”. The target is 13% lower by 2020. Again, if we are comparing it to previous years to see how we are doing, one would think that we would know what it is for 2016-17 and not just compared to eight years ago. What do they have? “This is a new indicator.” Results are not available from the previous year, or the year before that, oddly enough.
For HFC emissions, the target is a 10% reduction in consumption levels compared to 2017-18. The date to achieve this target is 2019. What did we do last year? We do not know: “This is a new indicator. Results are not available from previous years.” Fair enough.
The next goal is “Reduced methane emissions from the oil end gas sector”. The target is a 40% reduction relative to 2012, and we are going to achieve this by 2025. What is the base right now? “This is a new indicator. Results are not available from previous years.”
This goes back to what I have been saying about the current government. The Liberals talk a lot, but they are not getting anything done. In their own departmental plan, where the Treasury Board requires them to state reports and what they are trying to achieve, they have nothing.
The departmental result indicators go on with “Emissions reductions are being achieved under the Clean Fuel Standard building on the Renewable Fuels Regulations”. The target is “30 Mf annual GHG emissions reduction in 2030”. This is 30 Mf down from what? Well, it is down from previous years. What was it in previous year? “This is a new indicator. Results are not available from previous years.” Again, they are setting imaginary goals, almost aspirational goals, with nothing to actually compare them to. The departmental result indicators go on.
I have a lot of other stuff that I would love to go over, but I cannot. I would just say that we need to ensure that foreign investment and international business are attracted to Canada, and that Canadian businesses want to stay; that growth and responsibility happen together; and that innovation is championed across all sectors, not just the ones favourable to the government, but including oil and gas.