An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act

Sponsor

Status

Considering amendments (Senate), as of Feb. 21, 2019

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-57.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Federal Sustainable Development Act to make decision making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.

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

Jan. 29, 2019 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
June 4, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
May 31, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
May 31, 2018 Failed Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act (report stage amendment)
May 29, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
Oct. 19, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back in Ottawa and in this new chamber. As a Conservative, I am dispositionally inclined to prefer old things to new things. However, this is a beautiful chamber. The architects have done a phenomenal job. It will be an honour to be here prospectively for 10 years, or shorter if my constituents feel that way, or much longer if things go the way projects in government sometimes go.

I know it has been an eventful break for some members. We had the resignation and then un-resignation of a number of Liberals. We are certainly hoping John McCallum does not un-resign as well. We also hope the Prime Minister does not see this important post as an opportunity to have a soft landing for yet another failing minister. In any event, there would be so many to choose from.

I hope the Prime Minister did not take any illegal vacations over the break. I suppose he would prefer if I called them “irregular” vacations. I hope the finance minister enjoyed his time away, as well. Perhaps he passed some truly unforgettable time at his villa in France.

I had the opportunity to meet many of my constituents over the break. Many of them are finding the government's approach hard to swallow, so I suggested they try plant-based alternatives instead.

If members did not notice, 2019 is an election year, which means I am sure we will get a lot of great non-partisan work done together. I know the ambulance chasers and un-Canadian Neanderthals on this side of the House sure appreciate the Prime Minister's commitment to positive politics.

However, none of us take the insults personally. We wish the Prime Minister very well with his upcoming transition to the private sector. I suspect that the response of voters to his policies will demonstrate exactly why the Prime Minister liked the idea of a basic dictatorship.

Before I get to the substance of my remarks, on a couple more serious notes, I had the opportunity to visit Taiwan over the break, which was a real pleasure. We have seen the increasing aggressiveness of the PRC government toward Taiwan. All members should understand the importance of standing in solidarity with our democratic partners in Taiwan.

There are many news stories that we see from time to time in Canada and around the world that jump out at us, and probably did during the break. However, I want to draw the attention of members to one in particular that jumped out at me. Prior to Coptic Christian Christmas celebrations in Egypt, a terrorist tried to plant a bomb targeting worshippers. In this case, disaster was averted because of police action. An officer, Mustafa Abid, gave his life as he sought to defuse a bomb.

Christians face challenges in Egypt and in many countries in the region. However, there are also many from the Muslim community who believe in their rights and work hard to keep them safe. I am sure all of us would join me in saluting the courage and sacrifice of people like Mustafa Abid, who set an example of sacrificial love and service to his country and to its minority communities.

I have the opportunity today to share a few brief remarks on Bill C-57 and proposed Senate amendments.

Bill C-57 sets out a legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy and it seeks to make the process of decision-making accountable to Parliament. The act requires that all government decision-making is done with the view to the impact on future generations. In principle, I think we would all agree that decisions made by government should not be made merely in terms of present considerations, but we should think about the impacts down the road, not only on ourselves but on those who come after us. It is our responsibility to try to position our country in every policy domain for success over the long term to ensure that, as much as possible, the country we pass on to our children and grandchildren is even better than the one we received from our parents and grandparents.

Bill C-57 invites us to explore the mechanism by which that happens and the reporting mechanism by which Parliament is kept up to date on the particulars of plans by government that are aimed at advancing sustainability.

This bill was passed by the House, it went to the Senate and amendments were made in the Senate. Now it is up to the House to consider the particulars of the amendments and to reply to the message from the Senate that speaks to that. The amendments consider, in particular, the strength of the mechanisms by which the government can actually enforce its commitments, allegedly what it intends to do, with respect to sustainability.

The Senate saw it, as part of its amendments, to ensure performance-based contracts provided by the government to contractors and employees incorporated sustainability objectives. This is a laudable goal and one that seems quite naturally associated with the objectives of the bill. That is the second of the amendments we are looking at as part of the message we are considering sending back to Senate with respect to Bill C-57.

Unfortunately, the government has rejected this proposed amendment from the Senate. In the message, it states:

...because the amendment seeks to legislate employment matters which are beyond the policy intent of the bill, whose purpose is to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

It seems to me to be a very strange basis for rejecting the amendment, since the intent of the bill is surely to improve the quality of decision-making with respect to sustainable development. Improving transparency is part of that, but it is not the only part of it. Also, the very idea of greater accountability should involve building sustainability into the metrics used in performance-based contracts. That is the nature of the amendment from the Senate that the government still proposes to reject.

The proposed rejection of this amendment raises many questions about how serious the government is with respect to its commitment to sustainability. Given the second rejection of this second amendment, we might consider how serious the government is about pursuing sustainability in general. Indeed, if we look at the actions of the government across a wide variety of different domains, we see its lack of engagement with this area of sustainability in particular. We have a government which is not at all interested in the substantive principles of sustainability. It might like to use it and see it as a buzzword, but it is a substantive idea in which we believe on this side of the House. I do not think the government across the way does at all.

What is sustainability all about? What is this principle that is lacking in the approach taken by the government?

Again, sustainability is about a belief that the decisions we make today should consider the impact on future generations. We should try this in every domain of policy. This word is typically invoked in the area of environmental policy and is an important concept in that context. However, across the board, the decisions made by a government should be aimed at passing a better country and world onto the next generation. We should not be short-term in our thinking and capricious about the direction we go. Rather, we should think carefully if the steps we take today will leave our country in a better position into the future.

What are the characteristics of this policy? I have talked a little already about the idea of an intergenerational lens, thinking about our own children, if we have them, or nephews and nieces, whatever the case may be and the impact this policy will have on them. It also calls for the exercise of the virtue of prudence; that is, seeing the world, the challenges we face, in the face they are. I know my friend from Spadina—Fort York, having read the book I recommended to him, After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre, will be more familiar with this concept now that the House has resumed; prudence in seeing the world as it actually is and making decisions in a judicious way, not considering simply how we might like it to be.

Some members across the way might like it if the way the world worked was that we could just run deficits in perpetuity. However, the reality of the way the world works is that we just cannot do this. As one former British prime minister said, either Thatcher or Disraeli, and my friend from Calgary Shepard will correct me, “The facts of life are conservative.”

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of my friend from Winnipeg North, I am not sure if he has read Bill C-57 or is familiar with the details in it, but Bill C-57 deals with the framework for sustainability. The member heckled to say that it does not mention immigration, but it deals with an evaluation of sustainability across government. It deals with considerations of the sustainability of policy in all areas.

We are debating a message to the Senate. The government's message to the Senate is not to concur in one of the Senate amendments, which would effectively deal with the issue of building into performance contracts considerations about the sustainability goals of government.

I will not refer to whether the member was here in the beginning, because it would be unparliamentary to do so, but if he had been here he would know that I talked about how that section really raises big questions about the government's commitment to sustainability across the board. I talked in my remarks today about how the government's environmental policy is not sustainable, about how its economic policy is not sustainable and about how its approach to energy—the fiscal policy—is not sustainable. I have made some comments here about our immigration system and what the government is doing with respect to our immigration system. It does not have a plan. It is not being effective in terms of its handling of our immigration system.

We believe in an immigration system that is orderly, compassionate and legal. Canadians who see people walk across the border—people who want to come to Canada—want to see the process be fair and orderly. I said before that, when it comes to immigration, Canadians want us to use our heads and our hearts at the same time. They want us to be compassionate and strategic. They want us to think about how we can help as many people as possible and as many of the most vulnerable as possible. In fact, our immigration shadow minister, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, has called for the government to do more to facilitate private sponsorship of refugees.

What I hear when talking to different groups involved in the issue of private sponsorship of refugees is that they are very frustrated in dealing with the government. They see the government piling more red tape and creating more challenges for them when all they want to do is be able to sponsor the most vulnerable refugees and use their own money to do it. While the government has failed to properly respond to the issue of illegal border crossing, it is piling more red tape and challenges on those who are trying to privately sponsor our most vulnerable refugees. I think about members of my own family who were refugees and the benefits they had coming into communities of support. The value of a system of privately sponsored people who come into a system of support is that it works very well. We think that using that private channel and getting out of the way for these private sponsors can be very effective.

The member for Winnipeg North does not think this is a sustainability issue. However, I submit that it is, and Bill C-57 speaks precisely to the need for sustainable policy across government, for policy that can be indeed sustained in the long run, policy that can work and provide the best of the system going forward and also maintains and preserves public support for that system. When we hear criticisms of the immigration system, I think that the government immediately wants to polarize that discussion. However, from our perspective, there are things we can do to substantively improve our immigration system, to build greater public support for it and ensure that it works very well, and that is emphasizing compassion, order and legality in the context of our immigration system.

I will talk about another failure when it comes to sustainability from the government, which is to build a sustainable approach to Canada's voice in the world. If we are to sustain a strong voice in the world, it is important that Canada be principled and clear in its efforts to advance freedom, democracy, justice and human rights. However, we have not seen this from the government at all. We have seen at best a very inconsistent approach when it comes to the advancement of freedom, democracy, human rights, justice and the rule of law.

One area where this is really evident is the Liberals' approach to China. There has been note of this over the last few weeks. Part of it is not just the relationship between events in Canada and China, it is the changing political reality in China itself. We see more and more aggressive action by the Chinese government.

There are a few things to note. We see the terrible abuse of Uighur Muslims, the violent crackdown we have seen, something we hoped to never have to talk about again in the 21st century. Canadians are asking their government to speak out on the violent abuses being imposed in this context. I hope that Canada could play a role in building a broader consensus around the response to these events, working together with our partners across the world. Countries like Pakistan and Algeria could do much more to call out and respond to the abuse by China of its Muslim minority communities.

We also see a crackdown against Christians, ongoing abuse of Falun Gong practitioners, increasing abuses in Tibet, the breaking of the agreement over the status of Hong Kong, more aggression toward Taiwan and aggressive action in the South China Sea. We also have the very worrying situation of the detention of Canadians.

How do we ensure Canada, in a long-term way, can sustain a strong voice on the world stage in the midst of these events? One thing we should not do is discredit our engagement on these issues by having a vital post be used as a way to say goodbye to a cabinet minister. The government's approach to China has been very ineffective, in part because it has not responded to the situation with the seriousness it deserves. Liberals have not put the appropriate, competent person in that situation.

Also we see how the Prime Minister's admiration, his comments about China's basic dictatorship, have undermined the credibility of Canada's approach to this. My hope is that Canada would have a long-term strategy for saying how we build that voice on the world stage. Unfortunately, we have not seen that from the government.

I talked earlier about the issue of pipelines. It may be of interest to people to know that the government put hundreds of millions of dollars into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is a Chinese-controlled investment bank that is building pipelines, not here in Canada but in Azerbaijan. A lot of people would ask why our government is spending money to build a pipeline in Azerbaijan as a tool for advancing Chinese foreign policy. How is that consistent with the values of sustainability? I would submit that it is not, but it is also a big mistake, a big failure by the Prime Minister, which is imposing costs on Canadians.

The government's argument for this, the reason it invested in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is so that Canadian companies could get those contracts. I have been to the bank's headquarters in Beijing and we were told that the bank has an open procurement policy and it will buy from Canadian companies and hire Canadians regardless of whether or not Canada is a member of the bank.

Therefore, the one argument the government had for supporting this multi-million dollar giveaway to a Chinese-controlled bank and entity of its foreign policy was to say that it was about opportunities for Canadian companies. That argument was blown out of the water in the first five minutes of a conversation with the folks at the bank's headquarters. If the government had actually done any kind of due diligence, it would have known that this was not the reality and that it was not achieving the objective that it said it was going to achieve.

As long as China is continuing this aggressive direction and is unresponsive to what we see as basic principles and values, why are we continuing to support this agent of its foreign policy? Why are we continuing to give money to this infrastructure bank? This is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

If I were a Liberal MP, I would sure have a hard time explaining to people at home, who are struggling to get ahead, why they should have to pay for this particular failure of the government. Why should they have to pay for the failure of the government to do basic due diligence on an issue like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank? The failures of the government, in this respect and in so many others, are costing Canadians and we will see, as it continues to fail and tries at every turn to increase taxes, the real and growing costs of those failures on Canadians. A sustainable voice for Canada on the world stage should seek to advance our values, put those forward and do so in an effective way.

Bill C-57 seeks to introduce a sustainability framework for the government. It comes out of a report that was done at the environment committee and I think speaks in general to an important principle, the principle being that the decisions the government makes should be made with an eye to the future, that all the things government does should consider the impact on future generations, not just the impact on today, and that the way we approach every policy on immigration, foreign policy, the environment or the economy should not just be made with an eye to today but should be made with an eye to tomorrow. Why? Because if we fail to consider the impact of policies on tomorrow, then we will end up imposing additional costs and challenges for the future.

I am sorry to say this is exactly what we have seen from the government. Its lack of attention to the issue of long-term sustainability has led it to pursue policies that are imposing significant costs on Canadians and will continue to impose escalating costs on Canadians. Liberals are increasing taxes. Why? Because of their failure to take the steps necessary in all of these policy areas to strengthen our economy. This is imposing costs on Canadians.

We know that if they are successful in the next election, their plan is to impose higher taxes, to impose new costs. In the area of the carbon tax, for example, we see how they have imposed a carbon tax that is hurting Canadians who are struggling to get ahead and they will increase that carbon tax significantly. They will use every excuse they can to increase the carbon tax.

They are failing to pursue sustainable policy in so many areas, and that is why, in this message to the Senate, Liberals propose to reject the second amendment that was put forward. The second amendment proposes:

Performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada, including employment contracts, shall, where applicable, include provisions for meeting the applicable goals and targets referred to in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and any applicable strategy developed under section 11.

The amendment goes on to clarify the exact mechanism by which that would take place. It speaks precisely to how things would proceed in the context of employment contracts building sustainability there. The Senate, I think, wisely understands that if we are going to take an approach to sustainability—

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I have just been accused by the member for Winnipeg North of being verbose. That is truly incredible. It is almost like when the Prime Minister accuses other people of standing by the wealthy. This is a pattern of the Liberals that we see in so many areas. After being critical of the length of my remarks, he asked what the Conservative approach was to Bill C-57, as if he had not heard my remarks at all.

Let me just say, in summary of those remarks, that we believe in the importance of a sustainable approach across the board, an approach that involves thinking about the impacts the decisions we take today will have on the future. That is why we believe in a balanced budget. We know that the government's deficits will lead to further attempts by the government to increase taxes. If it gets a chance to do that after the next election, we can be sure that it will take every opportunity to raise taxes.

All of the failures of the Prime Minister when it comes to balancing the budget, when it comes to thinking ahead, will have concrete costs for Canadians.

On this side of the House, our approach to Bill C-57, our approach to sustainability, is to look for ways to ensure that Canadians can get ahead over the long term.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in our new chamber to speak to Bill C-57 and to continue to represent the people of Whitby, who have graciously allowed me to be here and who I know are very interested in the environment and issues that relate to the sustainable development goals.

I be splitting my time with the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

The bill responds to a number of recommendations from the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I would like to thank the committee members in this place and the other place for ensuring we have legislation that focuses on ensuring increased accountability by departments and agencies for setting and achieving a very ambitious sustainable development target, one that promotes close collaboration with all agencies through a whole-of-government approach. It sets a higher bar with respect to transparency, with improved reporting, oversight and continued conversations with indigenous peoples and individuals right across Canada to respect diversity and gender parity. It provides improvements through our robust and wholesome look at a federal sustainable development strategy, ensuring it incorporates the different views of Canadians across our country.

We have released the draft 2019-2022 federal sustainable development strategy. It is open for comment by Canadians until April 2. We want Canadians to help make the strategy stronger, so I would invite individuals to provide their commentary on that. The sustainable development goals data hub is on the Statistics Canada website.

I get a lot of questions from young people. Millennial kids, for example, email me and are seized with what we are doing as a government to ensure we keep on top of our commitments around sustainable development, particularly the environment, and to ensure we leave a world that is better for them, our children and grandchildren.

I happened to be part of the delegation that went to the UN last year with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, at which Canada gave its voluntary national review on sustainable development. It was a great moment for Canada to be there to express its commitment to a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development.

Today we are talking about the amendments that came from the other place. We accepted amendments 1 and 3. I know that other colleagues have questioned why our government did not accept amendment 2 to have incorporated in some of the contracts the sustainable development goals and targets. We have not supported this amendment because it goes beyond the policy intent of the legislation, which purpose is to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.

I want to reference the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and member of Parliament for Central Nova. Last year, he spoke to the legislation quite passionately. In his comments on amendment 2, he spoke to the 2018 report, a progress report that shows that we are on target to meet many of the targets set forth in the 2016-2019 development strategy. In particular, in December 2017, he spoke to the fact that almost 8% of coastal marine areas were being conserved or were on track to reach our target of 10% by 2020.

He also referenced reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets. We have achieved a 28% reduction in GHG emissions relative to 2005, more than half way to our target of 40% by 2030. The progress report highlights that we are well on our way to achieving this target. When we talk about protecting terrestrial areas and inland waters, we are not moving fast enough. Through having a whole-of-government approach and legislation that focuses on ensuring we are measuring those targets, we are able to see where we are doing well.

I mentioned our marine and government approach to reducing GHGs and where we could improve. We saw that we were not moving fast enough to protect our terrestrial and inland waters. Therefore, in budget 2018, we invested $1.3 billion in biodiversity and conservation to help us bolster that target and ensure we keep on track.

I would like to outline some of our government's accomplishments. We have heard others in this place talk about what we have done on the environment and our environmental stewardship, as well as putting a price on pollution, our insistence that polluters pay for the damage they do to our country. However, more important, we cannot just look at climate change in a silo.

One of the principles of the legislation is to ensure there is a whole-of-government approach. We have taken initiatives to ensure that climate change does not negatively or disproportionately impact individuals in our society who may not have a lot of means. We introduced Canada's first-ever poverty reduction strategy. That is built upon previous investments from the Canada child benefit, our national housing strategy, our public transit investments and our investments in the Canada workers benefit. We know that individuals who are working to become part of the middle class tend to be more negatively impacted by climate change, so we have to put in buffers. We have to put in place the means to ensure those individuals are well protected.

We know women and children are often the first to feel the brunt of the impact of climate change. We have a strategy around gender equality, ensuring we are looking at the legislation that comes before us through a gender lens and ensuring that women are given the opportunities they need to thrive in Canada and do so successfully.

For our indigenous population, we are working toward ensuring long-term water advisories are lifted by March of 2021. We are well on our way to doing that.

A number of initiatives need to be put in place to ensure we are not looking at the impacts of climate change in a silo. We have taken leadership around ensuring our climate plan is secure. However, we have also put forward different initiatives to ensure all Canadians, no matter their means, no matter their diversity, are able to have a sustainable future in our country. While we look to protect our environment, we also need to have the capacity to grow our economy and have good, well-paying jobs not just now but in the future.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, hon. colleagues, I am delighted to be back in the House of Commons. I am especially pleased to have the privilege of speaking in this new chamber.

I rise today to speak to the Senate's amendments to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I want to thank the hon. senators for their time and efforts in reviewing this bill.

I would like to take this opportunity to provide a brief overview of how this bill aligns with the government’s commitments around delivering real results, pursuing goals with a renewed sense of collaboration, and setting a higher bar for transparency. I will continue with a discussion of the amendments adopted by the Senate.

This bill is a reflection of the Government of Canada’s commitment to sustainable development and safeguarding the interests of future generations. We all want a sustainable future for Canada, for our children and for our grandchildren. This bill clearly shows that sustainable development and the environment are at the forefront of government decision making.

This bill ensures that federal organizations bound by the act contribute to the development of federal sustainable development strategies and progress reports. In developing sustainable development strategies, federal organizations are to consider a number of principles, including the principle of intergenerational equity.

The bill indicates that targets must be measurable and include a time frame. That and the inclusion of the principle of results and delivery will help MPs, senators and the general public to keep track of the government's progress in meeting the goals and targets set out in each strategy every three years. This would incorporate the government’s strong focus on results into legislation.

The federal sustainable development strategy and its progress reports are a collaborative effort involving many departments and agencies. Bill C-57 would contribute to an integrated, whole-of-government view of activities supporting environmental sustainability. One way in which this would be achieved is by extending the Federal Sustainable Development Act’s coverage to over 90 federal organizations and enable further expansion of coverage over time.

The sustainable development strategies developed by these federal organizations will support the Federal Sustainable Development Act’s commitment to make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

Going forward, parliamentarians and relevant standing committees in both houses would have a greater ability to hold the government accountable for these sustainable development goals and targets. This would give committees a comprehensive view of what government organizations are doing with respect to sustainable development and the results achieved.

This bill received strong support from all parties of the House of Commons, where it was unanimously passed, and I hope that it will continue to be fully supported in the message we will send to the Senate.

I would now like to talk about the Senate's amendments.

First, the Senate agreed to some consequential amendments to bring the Auditor General Act in line with the changes made to the Federal Sustainable Development Act in Bill C-57. This reaffirms the commissioner's role under the Federal Sustainable Development Act and is supported by the government.

A second amendment was made to broaden the mandate of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council and not limit its advice on sustainable development matters to issues referred to it by the Minister of the Environment. Prior to this amendment, the bill stated that council members were to advise the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that is referred to the council by the minister. It is standard practice for ministerial advisory councils to provide advice on issues referred to them by the minister in charge. Defining the mandate of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council within the bill was meant to set clear parameters of its work. Although this amendment goes beyond our original intent, the government can accept it.

The third amendment would reinsert a section of the act that was removed. The current wording of the act stipulates that performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada must include provisions for meeting the applicable goals and targets referred to in the federal sustainable development strategy and the departmental sustainable development strategies.

It is the government's view that this section pertains to procurement. The alignment of procurement to environmental objectives is already included in the Treasury Board’s policy on green procurement, and that is why the government decided to repeal that section.

Also, Bill C-57 introduces section 10.1, which states that the Treasury Board may establish policies or issue directives applicable to designated entities governed by the Federal Sustainable Development Act in relation to the sustainable development impact of their operations. This explicitly recognizes the Treasury Board's role with respect to the impact of government operations on sustainable development.

On top of the fact that it is not appropriate to reinsert this section as written, the amendment further specifies that performance-based contracts include employment contracts and that they should include provisions for meeting the applicable goals and targets referred to in the federal sustainable development strategy as well as any applicable strategy developed under section 11.

The government does not support this amendment as this bill is not the appropriate legislation to prescribe what should be in employment contracts. Employment contracts are not easily defined, given their broad and wide-ranging nature. Moreover, this change is beyond the policy intent of a bill whose purpose is to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.

Given all the provisions in the bill that strengthen other accountability measures, including identifying a minister responsible for each target in the federal sustainable development strategy, and explicitly indicating that the Treasury Board Secretariat may establish policies or issue directives applicable to one or more departments in relation to the sustainable development impact of their operations, the government does not see the benefit of this amendment.

The additional transparency and oversight measures included in this bill will provide enhanced accountability measures for the results achieved. That is why I agree with the minister and I support sending a message to the Senate agreeing with two amendments and disagreeing with the change to clause 8.

Madam Speaker, I welcome the debate on this amendment and your decision.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Sean Fraser Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Madam Speaker, to begin, I would question the relevance of the member's entire submission on this point, given that we are debating the Senate amendments to Bill C-57, which she did not touch on.

In any event, she spent a good portion of her time on waste water. I would like to point out some of the inaccuracies throughout her speech. She indicated that the Conservatives took a regulatory approach. What they did not have was an infrastructure plan to allow municipalities to deal with their waste water problems, which we are doing right now.

She suggested that this whole side of the House is somehow opposed to the energy industry. Nothing could be further from the truth. I personally spent about five years working in the city of Calgary, the same city the member represents. I can tell her that this side of the House does have supporters of the sector who are working hard to ensure that we develop our resources in a responsible way.

When it comes to our plan to put a price on pollution, we have to start by saying that climate change is a problem. The Conservatives have yet to pitch a single idea for what they are going to do to address the threat posed by climate change.

On this side of the House, we do not think pollution should be free. We have sought the advice of the world's leading climate economists. They have all come back to the same point, which is that the most effective thing we can do to combat climate change is to put a price on pollution and return revenues to citizens. That is what we are doing.

My question to the member opposite is this. Why are she and the Leader of the Opposition committed to taking Doug Ford's approach to climate change and taking money from their constituents to make pollution free again?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

January 28th, 2019 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have been following this debate and the level of hypocrisy is over the top. I recall all those trade deals that the Conservatives signed. What did they erase? All of the environmental provisions. I worked for the original environment commission in Montreal. I will note that in the new trade deal with the U.S., the Liberals undermined the environment in that deal too. There is a lot of hypocrisy here about genuinely acting on the words.

I would actually like to speak to Bill C-57. I know it might come as a surprise, as everybody is doing his or her electioneering here. What is important is that it is one thing to bring forward a bill and it is another thing to enact it. However, it is another thing to actually deliver the mandate and responsibilities under that bill.

The previous Liberal government and the previous Conservative government, as well as the present Liberal government, have all abjectly failed to deliver on the responsibilities of sustainable development. It is not me saying this. It is the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, who is appointed and retained in that position by the current Liberal government to review how well the government is delivering on its responsibilities.

It is also important to point out that in addition to the Sustainable Development Act, there is a second law. I would remind this place that a cabinet directive is binding law. We proved that with the Friends of the Oldman decision which involved a directive by cabinet on environmental assessment before we had the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. We proved in the Supreme Court that cabinet directives were legally binding.

There has been a cabinet directive in place on environmental assessment of policy, plan and programs for decades. However, successive Conservative and Liberal governments have abjectly failed to deliver on that as well. That comes in the reports from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

The Liberals, of course, signed on, yet again. They love to go to these international meetings. They signed on to the sustainable development agenda 2030, with 17 goals. They signed onto that in September 2015. Maybe it was the Conservatives who did that. They committed to 169 targets and 230 indicators.

There were a lot of goals in that international agreement. We need to note here that despite an amendment that I tabled at committee, the government refused to incorporate any reference to the UN commitment in the bill we are discussing today, the sustainable development 2030 agenda. So much for the commitment.

I had wanted to raise this with a number of the speakers who stood, the Conservatives criticizing the Liberals, the Liberals criticizing the Conservatives. Since 2015, and I am only starting at 2015, the commissioner has delivered failing grades in her audits of government commitments to actually deliver on the responsibilities, both under the Sustainable Development Act and the cabinet directive.

In the fall of 2015, she found abject failure by four departments audited to even apply the cabinet directive, zero assessments delivered for 488 proposals to the fisheries minister and only one out of over a 1,000 proposals to the minister of agriculture. In 2016, she found only 23% of proposals audited had submitted the required strategic environmental assessment. In 2017, she found a mere 20% compliance by federal departments.

Last year, in 2018, the commissioner's latest report found that the Government of Canada, the Liberal government, had failed to even develop a formal approach to implementing the 2030 agenda and the goals, including a very narrow interpretation of sustainable development. We heard that today in the debate, a pretty narrow discussion of what was actually in there. There is no federal government structure, and we are not going to see it in the bill either.

Interestingly, the bill continues to give responsibility to the Minister of Environment and yet it is another minister who goes off to the UN to speak to the bill as if it is his responsibility. There is a lot of confusion out there among Canadians about who in the government is actually responsible for delivering on the responsibilities for sustainable development.

The commissioner found there was very limited national consultation and engagement, no national implementation plan, few national targets and no system in place to measure, monitor or report on national targets for sustainable development.

We have heard a lot of blathering in here today from the Liberals about how important the environment and the economy are. However, where is the commitment to actually deliver on those responsibilities?

Eventually we are going to have a debate on the bill. Interestingly, a good number of the amendments that are coming forward from the Senate to this place are exactly the same amendments that I put forward, which the Liberals rejected. So much for “we're all in this together” in committee.

I would note one amendment that is most interesting. The Senate presented to this place a series of three amendments, two of which were accepted. The third one the Green Party and I actually tabled as an amendment to the bill because the government, in its wisdom, talks about being environmentally thoughtful in its spending, in procurement, but it would remove the requirement that is in law right now that the government actually consider sustainable development when it is procuring.

Let us think about that. It was almost $5 billion to buy a pipeline. We might think that the government thought about whether it was a wise investment economically and environmentally. Where is the strategic environmental assessment for that purchase? How about the many infrastructure banks the government is setting up for private enterprise here and in other countries? Did it do a strategic environmental assessment as per the cabinet directive? No.

The question here is this: Where is the real commitment by the government of the day to generally deliver on these big promises it made to Canadians and the big promises it makes when going to UN meetings?

I attended the consultation at the UN, the big summit last summer. The government sent a big delegation. At the last second, it invited youth but there was only a handful who could afford to come. Therefore, we had a call for better consultation and engagement across Canada so that everybody can participate in this discussion. However, when we look at the goals, we are not just talking about the economy or the environment. When we look at those 17 goals, they cover everything. They cover indigenous rights, women's rights, agriculture and water. I am not hearing any debate in the House about the breadth of what we have committed to in the 2030 goals. The Liberals refused to reference those in the bill before us.

There is a second matter the Liberals refused to reference, despite the amendments I tabled at committee. They have refused to incorporate into the bill the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is one of the goals under the 2030 sustainable development goals. They abjectly refused to specifically reference that international commitment, despite the fact that the former justice minister and attorney general actually committed before the Assembly of First Nations that, going forward, her Liberal government would ensure that the United Nations declaration would be incorporated into every federal law. Therefore, they have broken that promise too.

It is all very nice that we have some amendments coming from the Senate, but they are basically pro forma. They are simply saying that we need to update the bill so that it is the same as the current Auditor General Act. However, when it comes to substantive measures, like being required to actually consider sustainable development when we are making major procurement decisions and when making major recommendations to cabinet, then no, they are abjectly failing. I would have liked to hear anybody in the government of the day stand up and say that, going forward, they were going to finally deliver on their responsibilities. However, I did not hear that once today.

To conclude, it was my honour to speak to the bill again. I remain committed to actually having a government in Canada that is sincere about delivering on its international commitments.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

December 6th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will begin debate on the Senate amendments to Bill C-57, the sustainable development bill.

Tomorrow morning, we will start debate at report stage and third reading stage of Bill C-83, the administrative segregation legislation. Following question period, we will debate the Senate amendments to Bill C-21, the Customs Act.

Next week, we will be debating various government bills.

I would like to remind the House that, in accordance with the order adopted this morning, there will be an exploratory debate Monday evening at the usual time of adjournment. The debate will be on the subject of the opioid crisis in Canada.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Sean Fraser Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to discuss Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

I would like to begin by thanking everyone who has helped shape Bill C-57. The contributions of many hon. members and senators have been invaluable to the process, and the bill reflects the hard work and collaborative efforts of many individuals.

In particular, I appreciate the Hon. Senator Griffin's efforts in sponsoring this bill and her ongoing support as it has moved forward. I would also like to thank members of the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources for their thoughtful review and valuable insights.

Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to recognize the work of members of the House, including members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, whose unanimous second report, “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”, served as the foundation for Bill C-57. I look forward to the chamber's discussion of the Senate's amendments to the bill.

Today, I want to start by outlining the importance of the Federal Sustainable Development Act and how Bill C-57 seeks to improve upon the current version of the legislation. Then I will highlight some of the most recent documents we have released under the current act. Finally, I wish to outline our position on the amendments made in the Senate.

First, I will give some of the background. the Federal Sustainable Development Act was the result of a 2008 private member's bill. This was sponsored by the Hon. John Godfrey, former member of Parliament for Don Valley West. The act set out a number of requirements for federal action on sustainable development, including the creation of a federal sustainable development strategy and releasing a report on progress against the strategy every three years. These strategies and reports have been instrumental in guiding, tracking and reporting on Canada's actions on sustainable development in a transparent and accountable manner.

The catalyst for amending the original Federal Sustainable Development Act, as I mentioned previously, was the study conducted by the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. Bill C-57 responds to the thoughtful recommendations of that committee's report and would update the act to better reflect Canada's current priorities on sustainable development.

The bill proposed to expand the scope of the act and provide a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development. It includes more than 90 departments and agencies and provides the opportunity to add other entities in the future as well. This will help to ensure that the federal sustainable development strategy reflects the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to sustainable development.

All federal organizations bound by the act will contribute to developing future federal sustainable development strategies and progress reports. The collaborative, whole-of-government approach to sustainable development will provide greater openness and transparency about our actions relating to sustainability.

Further, each federal organization will table its own sustainable development strategies and progress reports in Parliament. This will allow parliamentarians and relevant committees to review the progress of organizations and hold them to account for meeting their targets and goals.

At the heart of Bill C-57 are a number of important principles that would guide progress reports and strategies. For example, the principle of intergenerational equity, that it is important to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, provides an important context for the federal government's contribution toward sustainable development.

Other principles embedded in Bill C-57 include the principle of openness and transparency, the principle of collaboration and the principle of results and delivery. These principles will help guide the development of tangible, relevant and achievable goals and targets. The bill would also require targets in the federal sustainable development strategy be measurable and time-bound.

The bill would contribute to increased demographic representation and indigenous partnership. It would do this in three main ways, the first being through a new principle which would recognize the importance of involving indigenous peoples, because of their traditional knowledge and unique connection to Canada's lands and waters. Second, it would increase the number of indigenous representatives on the Sustainable Development Advisory Council from three to six. Finally, it would require demographic considerations such as age and gender be taken into account when appointing representatives to the council.

Bill C-57 is an important and inclusive step forward in the government's commitment to sustainable development.

Earlier this year, the bill was unanimously passed through the House with the support of all parties. I sincerely hope we can repeat that once more when it comes time for a final vote.

Our work on sustainable development continues. On December 3 of this year, we tabled the 2018 "Progress Report on the 2016 to 2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy” and launched public consultations on the draft 2019 to 2022 strategy. These products present results on where the federal government is in achieving its sustainable development targets and outline the environmental sustainability targets and actions it is proposing to take over the next three years.

We all wish to see a healthy, prosperous, safe and sustainable Canada, regardless of party, and considerable progress has been made toward achieving this vision over the past few years. The recently tabled progress report on the 2016 to 2019 federal sustainable development strategy helped show just how far we had come.

For example, the 2018 progress report shows that we may have met one target and are on track to meet the majority of the other targets laid out in the 2016 to 2019 development strategy. For instance, as of December 2017, almost 8% of coastal and marine areas have been conserved, on track to reach our target of 10% by 2020.

The government is also leading by example by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets. We have achieved a 28% reduction in GHG emissions relative to 2005 levels, more than halfway to the target of 40% by 2030. The progress report highlights that we are well on our way to achieving this ambitious target.

Just as important, we have identified areas where we need to improve. For example, the progress report reveals that we have some work to do on protecting terrestrial areas and inland waters. To this end, the $1 billion Canada nature fund announced in budget 2018 will help set us back on the path to achieving our target of protecting 17% of terrestrial areas and inland waters by 2020.

This is one of the crucial contributions of the goals and targets in the federal sustainable development strategy and its subsequent reports on progress. They set a path forward and then tell us exactly how we have done and where we need to focus our ongoing efforts. Sustainable development is and will remain a priority for our government, and these strategies and progress reports ensure accountability in meeting our targets.

As I mentioned, the draft 2019 to 2022 federal sustainable development strategy has been released for public consultation. The strategy includes the participation of 16 voluntary organizations beyond the 26 mandated by the act. The draft strategy builds on the 2016 to 2019 strategy. It proposes targets, milestones and actions supporting 13 aspirational, long-term goals that reflect the Canada we want.

We expect to hear from a number of partners, stakeholders and Canadians whose input helped shape past strategies and will continue to be instrumental in helping to shape the 2019 to 2022 strategy.

As hon. members know, some of those partners and stakeholders include the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the House and Senate committees, which are responsible for regularly dealing with the environment, and the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Our consultations are open until early April 2019 and we expect to hear from these groups and many other Canadians who are passionate about the environment and sustainable development.

This brings me to the amendments made in the Senate recently. The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources welcomed the bill and there was a fruitful discussion and debate on its various clauses. I thank everyone once again for the thoughtful deliberation. I would like to point out that the dialogue between the two Houses is a fruitful exercise in my opinion. I know the Senate considered the bill in a thoughtful manner and proposed certain amendments, which I am happy to address.

Three amendments were agreed to in the Senate. The first amendment was made to broaden the mandate of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. This change would allow council members to give advice on sustainable development matters beyond those referred to them by the minister. The Council would, however, continue to focus on the products set out in the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The government is going to accept this amendment.

The second amendment, however, poses certain problems. The amendment to clause 8 seeks to reinsert a section of the Federal Sustainable Development Act that Bill C-57 in its initial form removed. That section deals with performance-based contracts within the Government of Canada. It states that these contracts shall include provisions for meeting the applicable targets referred to in the federal sustainable development strategy and the departmental sustainable development strategies. This section was repealed under Bill C-57 for a number of reasons.

The debate on the issue at the time that the original act was being considered reflects how unclear this section was, and still is. The Hon. John Godfrey, who I mentioned was the initial sponsor of the bill that resulted in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, said that this clause could be interpreted as a contract with an employee or a contract with a construction company. This confusion remains today. Having practised as a litigator in my career before politics, certainty in the meaning of legislation is essential so folks can understand exactly what their obligations are.

Some witnesses who have come before the House and the Senate have interpreted this clause as pertaining to performance agreements with senior officials. Others have interpreted it as pertaining to procurement contract and particularly green procurement. A clause without clarity is not one that should be in a bill.

If Parliament is concerned about procurement, the Treasury Board Secretariat's policy on green procurement already aligns environmental objectives to the departments' procurement activities, meaning this section's inclusion in the bill would be redundant and unnecessary.

Moreover, subclause 10.1, a new addition under Bill C-57, explicitly recognizes the power of the Treasury Board in establishing policies or issuing directives applicable to the sustainable development impacts of designated entities. The proposed amendment not only reinserts an already problematic clause, but it makes it even more problematic, extending it far beyond Bill C-57's intended purpose by entering into the realm of the employer's relationship with public servants. The amendment specifically adds employment contracts to the language on performance-based contracts. It says that these contracts shall include provisions for meeting the applicable goals and targets referred to in the federal sustainable development strategy and any organizational strategy.

It is the government's view that the reference to those contracts are outside the scope of the intent of Bill C-57 and it would be inappropriate to insert such prescriptive wording into the bill. Employment contracts are a matter for Treasury Board as an employer and they should not be subject to a bill whose purpose is to increase transparency of decision-making relating to sustainable development.

Given the expansive nature of performance-based contracts and employment contracts, it would also be difficult to determine what is meant by the use of these different terms, leaving the section option to difficulties in interpretation, which I flagged could pose problems.

Finally, tying targets directly to employment contracts is problematic because, as we know, the responsibility for meeting goals and targets extends broadly across different federal organizations and sometimes across many levels of government. It is not always the case that one department or one individual has complete responsibility for meeting the federal sustainable development strategy's targets. As a result, I do not think it is prudent to use the legislation to tie targets directly to employment contracts.

Accountability is the backbone of Bill C-57. It is what it is all about. While the intent of this amendment is to increase accountability, which I again thank the Senate for giving thoughtful consideration to, it is the government's view that the amendment could create more problems than it would solve.

As discussed earlier, robust accountability mechanisms are already directly embedded in the bill, and we believe they are more than adequate to meet our objectives. These include oversight by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the House and the Senate, the Sustainable Development Advisory Council and all Canadians. We release reports to the public on an ongoing basis and ask people for their input and insight.

Given the fact that the proposed amendment is imprecise and open to interpretation, the government does not see the benefit of inclusion and suggests removing it from the bill.

The third amendment that came from the other place deals with consequential amendments to the Auditor General Act. These changes would ensure alignment between the two acts and would seek to reconfirm the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's role in reviewing the sustainable development actions of federal organizations. The government supports this amendment.

I greatly appreciate the time and effort of everyone involved in reviewing the bill. The Federal Sustainable Development Act is a cornerstone of sustainable development action in Canada, and Bill C-57 is an important update. I ask the House to accept the consequential amendments and the amendment to clause 5, but remove the amendment to clause 8 and send a message to that effect back to the Senate.

In the spirit of co-operation that we demonstrated back in June, when the House voted unanimously to support the bill, I am asking that we show the same spirit of unanimity in supporting this revised bill, so we can ensure the future is sustainable not just for this generation, but for generations to come.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could be so positive about the success of the application of sustainable development legislation. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development gave an absolute abject failing grade to all the agencies that were reviewed. A lot of her recommendations for greater accountability were rejected by the government. The other place made an attempt to change the bill.

One of the main amendments the commissioner had called for was specific reference in the Sustainable Development Act of the cabinet directive on sustainable development. The reason for that is that this directive would require every department and agency to do an assessment of policy program spending that is submitted to cabinet. One subset of this is the provision the government is refusing to accept from the other place, which was also recommended by our committee.

Bill C-57 is in fact not based on the review by the committee on which I used to sit. It is based on what the minister decided she would do to keep a reduced function of the bill in holding the government accountable for delivering on the sustainable development 2030 goals that our country signed on to.

Could the member speak to why the Liberals are not accepting these broader provisions to hold the government, the departments and agencies accountable for spending and assessing what the impact might be on the broad sustainable development goals?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Sean Fraser

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for a thoughtful question about the broader picture of why this legislation is actually important.

Sustainable development is something that I care deeply about and have cared deeply about for a long time prior to getting involved in politics. In my spare time while I was carrying on a legal practice, I had the opportunity to work as a research fellow on a pro bono basis for the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law.

Moving forward as a society and as a global community in a way that is going to ensure that the needs of the current generation are met without compromising the needs of our kids and grandkids is essential. Bill C-57, in its overarching purpose, when it was actually launched as a private member's bill some time ago by the Hon. John Godfrey, was to give some meaning to these aspirational values of sustainable development.

It is hard to achieve progress if we are not able to measure outcomes. What Bill C-57 seeks to do is make mandatory setting of targets and reporting on how far we have come in achieving those targets. What this actually leads to is regular reporting that is not just for internal use but made publicly available, so we can actually see how far we have come.

I have mentioned, in particular, that because of this reporting requirement, we know that we are on track to meet, for example, our marine conservation targets by 2020. However, we have a bit of work to do to meet our 2020 conservation targets when it comes to terrestrial land-based conservation and inland waters.

This is the kind of thing that leads to tangible action. When we see that we have work to do, we know we have to do more to achieve those targets. This leads to decisions like, in budget 2018, seeing the largest single investment in nature and conservation with $1.35 billion set aside.

If we are able to track our progress and work towards measurable outcomes, we can shift policy midway to ensure that we are moving towards a more sustainable world.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this chamber to participate in the debate on Bill C-57, a bill dealing with sustainable development and the government's environmental policy.

This chamber will soon close and we will proceed to having debates for perhaps a decade or even more in another place. Therefore, I am conscious of the fact that this may be one of the last speeches I have an opportunity to give inside this chamber. I mention that because I think it is important to reflect on sustainability at a broader, deeper level than simply one issue, one particular file.

What sustainability is all about is this Burkean idea that the goods of not only our planet but also our civilization, our society and our country are not things that we just think of as existing in a moment of time purely for our own use. In other words, our relationship to our society regarding the environment ought not to be like that of pillagers who come to get what they can because they are here for a good time, not a long time.

No, sustainability asks us to think of the goods of civilization, of society, as something that we received from our ancestors and in a sense are borrowing from future generations. Therefore, we have to proceed with deference to the experience of those who have gone before us and with respect for those who come after us to seek to preserve the goods of the environment, of civilization, of society, of our institutions. We do that, and this is the conservatism in conserve, with a certain caution that recognizes the fragility of our environment and our institutions. We cannot presume that we can radically change the institutional, societal and environmental reality that we are in, that we can radically change it without perhaps considering the possibility of the consequences that might not immediately come to mind.

What is funny is I was thinking about this speech today and remembering the first time I ever visited a legislature. It was the Alberta provincial legislature. I went in as a young student and was listening at the time to I think it was a Liberal member of the Alberta legislature giving a speech on sustainable development. I thought it was one of the most boring speeches I had ever heard. I hope nobody has that feeling listening to what I have to say. It was not the topic. I am sure it was just maybe some aspect of my own experience in that moment. However, since then, I have come to realize really the importance of the concept of sustainability and what it means for all of us as we seek to preserve the goods of society for the future.

We could talk about a wide range of different policy areas with respect to what the government is doing and observe, I think, a real lack of attenuation to the principle of sustainability. One could identify a number of different policy areas where it is not thinking about the future, about preserving the goods of society, the benefits that were received from the previous government. No, it is thinking only about today. It is thinking about how to get that good headline, how to try and demonstrate something in the moment, but it is not thinking about the long-term impacts.

The most obvious way in which we see this worked out is the government's fiscal approach, its spending. Every time a government makes a spending commitment in the context of a big deficit, it knows, or ought to know, that is not sustainable spending, because it cannot run deficits every year forever. At some point the government comes up against a situation where the interest is so high, the debt is so high, that the government is losing out on investments that it could have been making and cuts become necessary. Deficit spending renders subsequent cutbacks totally inevitable. In other words, it is not sustainable to pursue a fiscal policy, an economic policy, or I would argue an environmental policy that is along the lines of what the government has done.

Therefore, when we talk about sustainable development, I think the first step is to delve into the substance of the principle of sustainability and what that means regarding our long-term planning. When we debate bills in this House where government policies are considered, we should always ask if it is a sustainable approach. That does not just mean in an environmental sense, although it includes in an environmental sense. Are the commitments that are being made commitments that we can sustain?

I was reading about the concept of sustainability. One interesting observation in one of the articles I read was that when a judge makes a decision in court in response to an objection and says “sustained”, it means effectively that the past, the history, the traditions are being sustained in the context of the decision that has been made.

There are so many derivatives of this word when we talk about sustainability that tap into this concept of understanding that we have a past and we have a future. We do not just have a present. This is the sensibility that should in a particular way inform the environmental evaluations and decisions governments make. Governments should think about the environment in a way that recognizes that we have a past and we have a future.

All the decisions we make in totality, and in this context the decisions we make about the environment, should have regard for the kind of life, the quality of life, the quality of existence on this planet and the quality of existence that will exist in our own immediate surroundings. This is particularly important to me when I think about my own kids and the life they will have growing up, but I think it is something that resonates with all members, whether or not they have children of their own.

That is why it was important for us, as a previous Conservative government, to put a strong emphasis on effective environmental action, action that reflected an understanding of this principle of sustainability. The idea of being a Conservative includes the idea of conserving. That is our Burkean philosophical heritage. We seek to preserve the goods of the past and protect them for the good of future generations. That is why we had an effective policy of engagement with the environment.

Despite the failures of the Liberal government, despite the ways, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions targets, they have continued policies in some cases and proposed other failing policies in other cases, the government has it dead wrong when it comes to how it characterizes the approach we took when it came to sustainable development.

Let me just emphasize, in that context, that when it comes specifically to the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, in the 10 years of previous governments, including the previous Liberal government, which signed on to the Kyoto protocol, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada went up. Under the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper, we brought in binding sector-by-sector regulatory targets that were intensity based. These are often badly mischaracterized by my friends across the way.

I remember the last time I spoke about the environment my friend from Spadina—Fort York said that these were just suggestions to industry, that these were just requests for it to reduce emissions. Let us be clear. They were not. The regulations that were put in place under the previous government were effective, intensity-based, binding regulations in critical sectors that had a tangible impact.

We saw through that period a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and that is a fact that is, unlike other facts related to this issue, a fact that is not disputed by my colleagues across the way. It is very clear that under the previous government, there was a total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Surely that has some relationship to the policies pursued by the government. On the other hand, the party opposite really wants to explain away the achievements of our previous government with respect to concrete reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

What are the explanations the Liberals will come up with? Typically, they will use two different explanations. First they will say that emissions only went down because of the global recession. They will also say that emissions only went down because of things that happened at the provincial level. What do we make of those two arguments the party opposite uses to explain away the accomplishments of the previous government with respect to environmental sustainability in the area of greenhouse gas emissions?

In terms of the global financial crisis, it is worth observing, parenthetically, that this is the only case in which the Liberals will acknowledge the existence of the global financial crisis. When they are talking about the economic record of the previous government, how we managed Canada's economy through a time of significant global financial challenge, the Liberals will say that all the economic challenges Canada faced in those years were somehow the result of actions of the previous government, which everyone knows is not true. Everyone knows that the challenges Canada's economy faced during that period were the result of very obvious, very well-known global economic trends that had an impact here in Canada. Because of steps the government took, Canada was relatively less affected by those events. Nonetheless, Canada was affected, and there was a response in terms of a fiscal stimulus that was appropriate in the context of those times.

It was the Liberals in opposition who were actually saying we should spend more. They were constantly calling for bigger deficits and for more spending, not for the prudent, measured and sustainable approach we took in that case. Our approach in responding to the global financial crisis was sustainable in the fiscal sense that we recognized that it was necessary to run deficits but that it was also necessary to return to balanced budgets as quickly as possible. We positioned ourselves in advance by paying off substantial amounts of debt in the years leading up to that global financial crisis. Often the figures we hear from the current government with respect to the total amount of debt during that period are significantly off the mark.

In any event, when it comes to the Liberals' discussion of how we responded to economic challenges, they will completely ignore the global financial crisis, but then when they talk about the real achievements the previous government realized with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, the Liberals will say that actually, there was a global financial crisis, so they are going to use that to explain why greenhouse gas emissions went down under the previous government. The Liberals have a hard time explaining, in light of that contention, how it is that Canada was relatively less affected by the global financial crisis as a result of prudent policies pursued here in Canada yet was reducing global greenhouse gas emissions at a time when greenhouse gas emissions globally were going up. Canada's greenhouse gas emissions went down under Stephen Harper, while they went up in the rest of the world during that period, yet we were less affected by the global financial crisis.

It is hard for the Liberals to explain. If they are suggesting that the impact in terms of a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions was simply a response to the global financial crisis, they have a hard time explaining how Canada achieved more on the environmental side yet was less affected by the economic challenges experienced globally. The Liberals' counter-argument, their effort to strip from recognition the reality of the achievements that were made, fails in particular with respect to this argument.

The second argument the Liberals make in their attempt to detract from the real achievements under the previous government in terms of environmental sustainability is that it was only from action at the provincial level. If we look at some of the policies the Liberals trumpet, they talk about the alleged virtues of the Kathleen Wynne Liberal government in Ontario.

Ontarians were not in favour of the policies of that previous provincial government. Ontarians should be aware of how many senior advisers and senior people in general involved in those policies are now involved in advising the Prime Minister. Continually we see Liberal MPs praising the record with respect to environmental policy from the Kathleen Wynne Liberal government. I do not think that was an admirable record when it comes to issues of sustainability. It was clearly a disaster when it comes to fiscal sustainability, but also there were big problems when it comes to environmental sustainability, and Ontarians had their say about that. The Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne came back into the legislature provincially with a grand total of seven seats, which suggests that maybe Liberal MPs should be careful praising its environmental record.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to continue with this important discussion of policies around environmental sustainability. My colleagues in the other parties are saying it is their pleasure. I hope so, because there may be things that they do not hear in the talking points that are sent from the PMO about the accomplishments of the previous government in respect of the environment. It is an opportunity for them to take these things on board and benefit from them as they consider the policies that they are going to pursue. It is a good time for them to consider the contradictions in their discussion of pipelines as it relates to the issue of sustainability.

What did the Liberals do when it came to pipelines? One of their first acts, and their first act with respect to pipelines, was to shut down the northern gateway pipeline project. This is a project that had been approved under the previous government. It would have allowed energy from my province, from very near my riding, to get to the port of Kitimat in northern B.C., access a deep-water port there, and give Canada access to international markets.

This is so important as countries in Asia and other parts of the world think about how to increase their energy security. It is a Canadian economic question, a sustainability question, and it is also a geostrategic question. There are countries in East Asia, for example, Japan, that import most of their energy resources. They get them from the Middle East and they have to travel through the South China Sea.

The opportunities for energy security, for Japan and other countries in East Asia, to benefit from Canadian energy exports are significant. The opportunities for us economically, and the opportunities for them in terms of economic benefit as well as security of that supply are very significant.

The northern gateway project would have allowed us to have access to international markets. For these pipeline projects, from initial filing to being built, we are talking about a time period of three years. Had the Liberal government actually listened to Albertans, listened to Canadians when it came to the benefit of the northern gateway project, we might already be up and running. We might not have to have these challenges that Alberta faces, in terms of the big gap that exists between the oil price in the global market and the price that we are achieving here in North America.

The government has this talking point that is worth responding to in this context, where it will say that most of Canada's oil was being sold to the United States when the previous government took power, and when it left power, most of the oil was still being sold to the United States. The Liberals conveniently forget that the critical steps to reduce our dependency on the United States were in place and that the Liberal government cut those critical steps out at the knees. That was maybe an unhelpful mixing of metaphors, the steps were cut out at the knees.

In any event, the Liberal government cut off that progress that was being made that would have brought us to a point today where we would not have to be dealing with this massive spread in price that is killing jobs in Alberta. The decision to kill the northern gateway pipeline was a policy choice of the Liberal government that weakened our sustainability on so many fronts, and it was one that it must be accountable for.

To add insult to injury, the Liberals decided to pass Bill C-48 which formalized in law a tanker traffic exclusion zone that prohibits the export of our energy resources from anywhere in that zone on the Pacific coast between the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the Alaskan border. There are tankers in that area as a result of activity coming off Alaska, but from the Liberal government's perspective, we cannot have it; the Canadians are benefiting from that economic activity, so we have to shut off even the possibility of a future project by bringing in Bill C-48.

Again, the government cannot deny that these were policy choices. It was not good enough just to kill the project, it had to add on another bill designed to make sure no new project could be put forward in place of the northern gateway project. That was the Liberals' intended direct action in the case of the northern gateway pipeline.

What did the government do with the energy east pipeline? In geostrategic terms, this is an idea we should view favourably, to create pipeline linkages to a greater extent between western and eastern Canada to reduce the need for foreign oil to be imported. I would ask environmental activists who are against the construction of pipelines what they are doing about the terrible record of countries like Saudi Arabia when it comes to things like human rights. What are they doing to try to allow Canadian sustainable, well-managed energy resources to displace foreign oil?

As we delve deeper into the need for the government to be articulating plans around sustainability, I hope that with the requirements in Bill C-57 for the government to provide information and government departments to be more engaged on sustainability, we think about the contrast between Canadian sustainability practices of our energy sector and what is happening in other countries, as well as the value of the global impact vis-à-vis sustainability associated with displacing the unsustainable and anti-human rights practices we see in some other countries.

Energy east was an economic project. It was about this country prospering. It was also about saying that we can have nation-building infrastructure which allows the country to prosper together and reduce our dependence on actors which do not share our values and interests.

In the 19th century, it was a Conservative prime minister, John A. Macdonald, who had the vision of a railroad that would make our union sustainable, that would unite our country from coast to coast and allow us to do commerce with each other. Today, pipelines are the nation-building infrastructure of our generation. As we think about the legacy of those who came before us who understood the importance of nation-building infrastructure for our political and economic unity and our prosperity, we need to consider whether or not we are up for the challenge. Can we do the same kinds of things they did? Do we have the vision and the willingness to make nation-building infrastructure happen?

In particular, I know many members of the government caucus elected from the Maritimes are hearing from voters in their ridings about the benefits of nation-building infrastructure that connects western Canada with eastern Canada. Even though the government clearly has an anti-development, anti-pipeline agenda, that is why the government did not want to do as directly with an east-west pipeline what it did with the northern gateway pipeline. Therefore, the government simply piled on conditions in a way that made the project harder and harder to sustain from an economic perspective.

See, it was not that the project itself could not have succeeded economically. Rather, it was that the government sought the opportunity to impose new conditions that would make it impossible to proceed. One can never know with certainty the intentions of the government in this respect, but sometimes past statements are revealing enough.

A tweet I referred to before, which was put out by the Minister of Democratic Institutions before she was elected, talked about land-locking the tar sands. This is obviously deeply offensive language to many Albertans and many across the country. When we see government policy with respect to different pipeline projects that has as its effect the land-locking of our energy resources, the significant expansion of the spread between the world price and the local price and economic devastation for our province being the results of government policy, it is worth comparing that to past statements of a cabinet minister who said that this was something she thought was desirable.

There is an agenda among some to squeeze the Alberta economy and the energy sector in a way that forces a significant reduction in investments in our energy sector and that accepts the job losses. We in the opposition stand against that. We will stand up for our energy sector, which benefits not just one region of the country but benefits the whole country.

The government directly killed the northern gateway pipeline project and it added Bill C-48, to add insult to injury. The Liberals found a way of indirectly killing the northern gateway project, and now they have been pushing forward Bill C-69. Bill C-69 quite clearly is the “no new pipelines” bill. The Liberals are trying to establish the conditions which will make it impossible for us to build the nation-building infrastructure of the 21st century. They have an anti-development agenda which is out of step with the vision of our founders and is out of step with the vision that Canadians want, which is a country that can benefit from commerce done together, where people in eastern Canada can buy energy resources coming from western Canada and they can benefit from the value-added opportunities that are associated with that. In Bill C-69, we see specific policies that will make it harder for Canada to make pipelines. It will make it virtually impossible to see pipelines go forward in the future. That is the record with respect to the pipelines.

I have to add a few comments on the Trans Mountain project. As part of the Liberals' discussion on sustainability, they thought they would try this bait and switch strategy because they know Canadians want to see development of pipelines. On the one hand, the Liberals are killing many projects, but on the other hand, without doing anything to establish conditions for the success of the Trans Mountain pipeline, they decided to buy it. They pretended that buying the existing pipeline would somehow increase its chances of success.

Whether the federal government or the private sector is the owner of the project does not change the fundamental issues, which are the government's refusal to assert federal jurisdiction, the lack of a plan to get it built and the failure of the government to appeal a court decision. There would have been nothing wrong with appealing a court decision that blocked construction from beginning on this project, yet we see, despite spending $4.5 billion of taxpayer money and despite sending money to an oil company that will now use that money to invest in energy infrastructure outside of Canada, the Liberals still have absolutely no plan. They refuse to appeal a court decision with respect to this decision and they are piling on policies that make it difficult for this to happen in the future.

There is this deeply dishonest set of policies, in the sense that the Liberals are selling a particular policy approach as achieving a result that they do not want to achieve and that they are in fact choosing not to do the things that would much more obviously and directly help us move toward the goal.

When it comes to the government's anti-pipeline agenda, I want to read a few different quotations that underline the problems with Bill C-69, the government's “no more pipelines” bill.

Let us start with someone who is known to many members of Parliament, Martha Hall Findlay, president and CEO of the Canada West Foundation. My notes say she is a former Liberal, but she may well still be a Liberal. She was a Liberal leadership contestant twice. What she had to say about Bill C-69 was:

If passed in its current, even amended form, it could set Canada back for many years in terms of attracting investment and overall prosperity – at exactly the time when our competitiveness, particularly vis-a-vis our huge neighbour to the south, is in peril.

We might be in a much better position if she had won that leadership race, because I think Martha Hall Findlay hits the point on the head here. Again, she said with regard to Bill C-69 the following:

If passed in its current, even amended form, it could set Canada back for many years in terms of attracting investment and overall prosperity—at exactly the time when our competitiveness, particularly vis-a-vis our huge neighbour to the south, is in peril.

I worry that the policies of the government are actually designed precisely to achieve that objective. They are designed to make our energy sector less competitive overall. Therefore, the government is achieving its objective, but it is an objective it is not willing to acknowledge. Again, the Liberals persist in wanting to speak on both sides of these questions, but we see concretely in their policy agenda, recognized in that quotation by the Liberal leadership candidate Martha Hall Findlay, that what they would do through Bill C-69 is to undermine Canada's competitiveness. They have already done many different things that undermine our competitiveness, but this is yet another example of that happening.

I will also read what Gordon Christie, University of British Columbia law professor specializing in indigenous law, said about Bill C-69:

But the courts have said for 15 years that you need to have meaningful dialogue [with first nations and] there is nothing in this legislation that seems to do that.

Moreover, with regard to Canada's activity in the north, the government feels that, somehow, without consultation, it can impose its anti-development agenda on Canadians and in particular on indigenous people there.

I will read what Stephen Buffalo, president and CEO of the Indian Resource Council and a member of the Samson Cree Nation said on Bill C-69:

Indigenous communities are on the verge of a major economic breakthrough, one that finally allows Indigenous people to share in Canada’s economic prosperity...Bill C-69 will stop this progress in its tracks.

That is a powerful quote from an indigenous leader that, while indigenous communities are on the verge of a major economic breakthrough, that would be stopped in its tracks by the no-more-pipelines Bill C-69. That is not a plan that reflects an understanding of sustainability in terms of our national economy. It is not a plan that reflects the need of indigenous communities to be economically sustainable. I think indigenous Canadians want us to support their opportunities for economic development and ensure that they are engaged in the process, as well as ensure that we are working with all communities, including indigenous communities, in respecting environmental stewardship and the importance of environmental sustainability. However, that is not happening under the government. It is persisting with a unilateral and anti-development mentality that holds back our prosperity and that hurts the prosperity of communities all across this country, especially communities in Canada's north that especially benefit from natural resource development.

Mr. Buffalo continued:

Left as it is, Bill C-69 will harm Indigenous economic development, create barriers to decision-making, and make Canada unattractive for resource investment. This legislation must be stopped immediately.

Mr. Buffalo also said:

We find it ironic and upsetting that the prime minister who has repeatedly said that the federal relationship with Indigenous peoples will be the defining characteristic of his government will be the one snatching opportunity and prosperity from our grasp.

He went to call on the government to “pull Bill C-69 from its legislative calendar”.

We see this recognition of the negative impacts associated with Bill C-69 from even the NDP premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley, someone I do not quote often. She said that “Bill C-69 in its current form stands to hurt that competitive position”.

Wow, it must be an election year or maybe there is a sincere conversion going on.

Moreover, the Quebec Mining Association says, “The time limits introduced by the bill will be enough to discourage mining companies and weaken Quebec and Canada in relation to other more attractive jurisdictions.”

We are hearing so much opposition to this bill, not just from energy companies, energy workers and Conservative politicians, but also from Liberals, New Democrats, indigenous leaders and people in every region of this country. The approach in Bill C-69 is not one that recognizes the appropriate balance required for sustainable environmental and economic policy. It is not one that recognizes the benefits that can be achieved by facilitating economic growth in a way that advances our environmental situation as well.

What is the justification for the government's ill-considered environmental policy? It speaks often about the importance of responding to climate change, and I think all of us in the House agree on that. I have spoken today about the real concrete achievements that were advanced under the previous government with respect to environmental change and greenhouse gas emission reductions. When it comes to assessing our sustainability obligations, we need to look at real results and outcomes, not just at the rhetoric.

Part of why the Conservative opposition supported Bill C-57 was that it would provide an opportunity for greater reporting across a greater number of departments and more mechanisms for holding the government accountable for what are demonstrable failures in the area of sustainability. With the kind of reporting mechanism called for in a committee report and that is now moving forward in Bill C-57, people will see more clearly the failures of the Liberal government in achieving our objectives.

When we think about the government's rhetoric around greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability, there is actually a real dissonance between the realities of what it talks about in terms of our international targets and the mechanisms it is putting forward. In that context, I want to make a few comments on the Paris accord.

The Paris Accord establishes a framework that comes out of the Copenhagen, which of course was one that the previous Conservative government was a part of and played a very constructive role in supporting. That process was to recognize the need for all countries to be involved, and the value of having nationally determined targets and clear and transparent reporting around those nationally determined targets. The second section of the Paris Accord speaks specifically of the issue of intended nationally determined targets and creates a mechanism whereby nations would provide reporting internationally on that.

It has been good to have an opportunity to have discussions with constituents on the Paris accord. From time to time, I meet people who are very skeptical about the Paris Accord, but my party recognizes the value of the framework and the differences between the framework we saw in the Paris Accord, for example, and the framework in the Kyoto Accord.

The Kyoto Accord, which was signed by a previous Liberal government that then failed to take any meaningful action toward realizing the goals set under that process, would have involved Canada sending money overseas to buy credits, effectively not reducing our emissions but simply buying credits overseas. That was the policy of the previous Liberal government, which was to do nothing on the environment, but to give money to other countries to buy credits, as if that somehow were a solution.

I do not think that is a sustainable solution by any metric. It is one that is very clearly in the framework of the transparent reporting that is moving forward in Bill C-57. I think that people would be very disappointed about seeing that.

The framework that was put in place was nationally-determined targets, which contrast favourably with what was put in place under the Kyoto protocol. The Copenhagen process, of which the previous government was a part, and the targets we set were targets that involved us taking real action at home, not simply musing about buying credits from other countries overseas.

It is very interesting to see the government come into power, championing the Paris accord, yet going into the Paris accord process with the same kinds of targets that were in place under the previous government. I know it has been criticized in some quarters for that by people who said there was there supposed to be real change. We have seen in so many areas a failure of real change in different ways.

Frankly, when it comes to the environment, it would have been better if we had seen more learning from the constructive action and experience of the previous government. So much was achieved at that time in the way of real, meaningful progress when it came to the issue of sustainability. I have read off some of those accomplishments.

I wanted to jump back for a moment to my discussion of Bill C-69. I want to read a letter that was sent to senators dealing with Bill C-69. In particular, it comes from those supporting the Eagle Spirit energy corridor. This is a proposal that would help to strengthen our indigenous communities economically, create linkages that would benefit them in energy development and export, and provide economic benefits in terms of energy across the whole country.

This is a letter that was signed by Helen Johnson, chair, ESE Chief's Council; Chief Isaac Laboucan-Avirom, Woodland Cree First Nation; and Chief Gary Alexcee, co-chair of the Chief's Council of B.C. They write the following:

“Dear Senators, we represent the 35 indigenous communities supporting the Eagle Spirit energy corridor from Fort McMurray, Alberta to Grassy Point on British Columbia's north coast. We have been working on this nation-building multi-pipeline project for the past six years and it is vital to the health of our communities and the future of our collective development. In this time, we have created the greenest project on the planet and developed a new model for indigenous engagement, real ownership and oversight that will lead to self-reliance and prosperity.”

“We are acutely aware that the Senate is currently debating Bill C-69, legislation that will change resource and other major project review in Canada. The objectives of this bill are vital to our communities and we believe the country as a whole. We trust that it should create a project review process involving substantial engagement with indigenous peoples and one in which all Canadians can have confidence.”

“While the bill includes many elements that are constructive, including early planning and engagement and a shift to broader impact benefit analysis, we have some serious concerns. In its current form, Bill C-69 has fundamental problems that increase the complexity and uncertainty of the project review and environmental assessment review process and must be addressed before it can be adopted.”

“Our chiefs have emphasized that the environment is at the top of their list of concerns and we have developed an energy corridor that will be the greenest on the planet and will set a precedent for all nations on how to engage with the impacted indigenous population. We do, however, have to holistically balance environmental concerns against other priorities such as building a strong local economy.”

I will pause to re-read that, because I think it is critical, and it is great wisdom coming from our indigenous leaders:

“We do, however, have to holistically balance environmental concerns against other priorities, such as building a strong local economy. There are simply no other opportunities than natural resource development in the remote locations where our communities are located, where 90% unemployment rates are common.

“ For some, the economic opportunities from oil and gas projects have allowed investment in local priorities and the future. It is critical that we develop our own resource revenues rather than continue in debt slavery to the federal government. The best social program is the jobs and business opportunities that come from our own efforts. If reconciliation and UNDRIP mean anything, it should be that indigenous communities have the ability to help themselves rather than continuing the past colonial litany of failed government-led initiatives.

“We agree that the current project review system should require strong engagement with indigenous communities affected by the project as well as responsible and timely development of natural resources. It should avoid litigation of projects in the courts. Investor confidence needs to be restored, and a clear and predictable process has to be set out for indigenous and proponents to follow.

“We are particularly concerned that Bill C-69 allows any stakeholder, indigenous or non-indigenous, to have equal standing in the review process. It is an absurd situation that the only people who have fought long and hard for constitutionally protected rights would have no stronger role in the process than a special interest group that is in no way directly affected by the project. This is a serious and fundamental flaw in Bill C-69 that could undermine the rights of all indigenous people in Canada, and it needs to be addressed.

“We are particularly concerned about the interference in our traditional territories of environmental NGOs financed by American foundations seeking to dictate development and government policy and law in ways that limit our ability to help our own people. What interests could such eco-colonialists have when parachuting in from big cities? They have no experience with our culture, people, history or knowledge of our traditional land. Input from such elitists in this process, who are secure in their economic futures and intent on making parks in our backyard, is not welcome while our people suffer the worst social and economic conditions in the country.

“We have been stewards of our traditional territories from time immemorial, and we believe that such parties should have absolutely no say in projects on our traditional territories.

“At the recent meeting of all communities of the chiefs council we unanimously voted in favour of the attached resolution to take whatever legal and political action is necessary to enforce our rights in relation to Bill C-69. In this spirit, we urge you to protect our rights and support badly required amendments to Bill C-69.”

I want to read as well the resolution signed by many indigenous leaders. It reflects unanimous support of the chiefs council that was referenced:

“Therefore, be it resolved that we oppose an act to enact the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, legally and politically, as it will have an enormous and devastating impact on the ability of first nations to cultivate or develop economic development opportunities in their traditional territory, since it is being imposed without any consultation whatsoever and against the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the purported reconciliation agenda of the federal government.

“Furthermore, we agree that we will collectively file a civil writ seeking to quash an act to enact the impact assessment act and the Canadian energy regulator act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendment to other acts, should it become law.”

These are powerful words from indigenous leaders in Canada. This is the first time I have heard the word eco-colonialists.

That is an interesting term to use. These indigenous leaders speak about people who do not have the same history or connection to their land and who enjoy much greater prosperity than indigenous people in these cases might, yet they are coming in and claiming to speak on behalf of indigenous people while taking action that really has the effect of limiting their opportunity to pursue development.

They are thinking about sustainability. I talked at the beginning about what the principle of sustainability means. Sustainability is the idea that we receive the goods of society, of the Earth, from previous generations. We hold them in trust for the benefit of future generations. This idea is particularly well understood by our indigenous leaders. They have the longest history, by far, in this country. Their understanding of their history, of the need to proceed in this fashion, is particularly acute and is referenced in this case.

They are speaking in this letter very much about the importance of preserving our environment but also about striking a balance that builds opportunity for indigenous people, opportunity economically that would allow them to enjoy a similar standard of living as those who live in other parts of this country. It is rooted in an understanding of equity. That is what they are speaking about in this letter.

For once, the government should actually listen to what they are saying and pursue a change in course that supports the development of pipelines that are good for the environment. It should take steps that are actually going to move us forward, economically and environmentally. That means building pipelines, having a strong sustainability framework and having meaningful consultation when proceeding with a project but also when trying to kill a project. That is what we are talking about when we talk about the principle of sustainability.

At this point in my remarks, I want to dig a little deeper into the philosophy behind the principle of sustainability. When we talk about sustainability, it should not just be with reference to environmental issues. We can think across the board about our economic policies and our social policies. Are the decisions we are making decisions we could sustain and continue in future generations? Are they decisions that could only be operationalized in the short term, or are they things we could maintain in the long term?

When we look across the board at the government, the clearest example of its lack of sensitivity to the importance of sustainability is its approach to fiscal policy. This has implications for our environmental stability as well, because if we do not have a sustainable fiscal or economic policy, then cuts will have to be made, especially in critical areas, at times when we may not want those cuts.

That is why Conservative governments have pursued a responsible middle course. My friend from Spadina—Fort York thinks this is a reference to Tony Blair, but it is actually a reference to Aristotle, who said that virtue is the mean between extremes. We have pursued a middle course between the extreme of needing to make dramatic cuts when there is a fiscal situation that forces it on us, such as the situation of the previous Liberal government in the 1990s, and avoiding the other extreme of spending out of control and having no conception of the fact that what goes up must come down.

The history of Liberal governments we have seen in this country is a succession of extremes. We have the case with the government, and with the previous Trudeau government, of dramatic out-of-control deficit spending, unprecedented in peacetime in Canada. We had a reality in 1990 when, eventually, the Liberals' out-of-control spending caught up with them. Fortunately, we had opposition parties, as well, that were calling for some measure of restraint. Really, at the time, their way of responding was to make cuts in transfers to the provinces, which passed on the application of that to other levels of government.

Compare that with the approach of the previous Conservative government, which brought us back to balanced budgets, while continually increasing the level of transfers to the provinces.

My friend from Spadina—Fort York is shaking his head, but he needs to review the reality, because transfers were significantly increased to the provinces in every successive year of the previous government, and they were cut by the Liberals in 1990. I look forward to his intervention.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Maybe, rather than heckling, he could use his time to pursue the reading list that I have recommended to him on a number of occasions.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reference in this context an article about Edmund Burke and the environment, an article that I think is an interesting reflection on the relationship between Burkean principles and sustainability. Edmund Burke is seen as a foremost thinker within the conservative tradition. Edmund Burke articulates this idea of sustainability that we should not be seeking radical revolutions that ignore the wisdom of the past but seeking progress in an incremental and positive way. I think the relationship between Burkean conservatism and environmentalism, properly understood, is quite clear. It is that just as we seek to preserve the goods of civilization, we seek to preserve the goods of the environment.

My favourite thinkers in Canadian and English conservatism are Edmund Burke and Thomas More. It is interesting to think about these two thinkers, generally presented as conservatives, in relation to each other. Thomas More wrote a book called Utopia. His reflections on political philosophy are presented in this book, where he imagined a place far away. He wrote as if it existed. However, “utopia” in Latin means “no place”, so it is very clearly a kind of playful use of words to imply that utopia, indeed, does not exist. Thomas More's utopia is actually a place where sustainability is highly prized and much attention is paid to the need to preserve the environment and to have a sustainable society.

What is interesting about More is that he imagined, in a fictionalized sort of way, a far-away place with a totally different structure of society compared with the society in which he lived. In fact, in his own political career, he did not, in some critical areas, pursue policies at home that he described as being pursued in utopias. Therefore, people wonder if Thomas More's utopia is playful fun or a description of policies he would like to have seen pursued if he could have advocated them, but he felt that he could not given the constraints and the politics of the society he lived in. I think Thomas More's utopia is really neither of these things. Rather, he is more inviting us to expand the scope of political possibilities by imagining a different kind of society, and not thinking that we could get there or even would want to get there right away, but rather realizing that other things are possible.

It is interesting to reflect on the English Conservative Canada and the way in which Burke and More both exist as part of it. I think both of these things are part of how we should think about sustainability. We should think about sustainability in this Burkean way of trying to preserve our heritage, our history, and pass it on in complete and, ideally, better form to the next generation. At the same time as we think about those kind of measured incremental improvements we can make to the sustainability of our environment, we should also pause to imagine completely different kinds of societies and the possibility of things working in a very different way. However, we are not capricious enough to think that we can get there overnight by flipping a switch without unintended consequences, because we are societies with histories, with existing economies, with existing cultures, and in the process of imagining that possible future, we need to recognize at the same time the need to move in an incremental way that bears the wisdom of our history.

Doing those things together is what Conservatives have sought to do. It reflects the best insights of the opportunities we have when it comes to sustainability.

I found a brief column called “Edmund Burke's Earth Day Speech”, written by someone named Byron Kenner, who writes: “How environmentalists became Burkians and Burkians became environmentalists”. He says:

Here’s my favorite quote from Edmund Burke’s Earth Day speech, “Never, no, never did Nature say one thing and Wisdom another.” Isn’t that terrific? And so apt for the occasion! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

What’s that you say? Edmund Burke didn’t make an Earth Day speech! He couldn’t have! Earth Day was in 1970, almost 200 years after Burke died. That’s true, of course, but, nevertheless, there he was--big as life--seated next to me on the speakers’ platform. Funny, but what struck me as strange was Burke’s speaking at all. Why was Edmund Burke--of all people--addressing an Earth Day rally? Talk about a fish out of water!

Edmund Burke is regarded as the founder of modern conservatism, and Earth Day 1970 was a high-water mark of the then prevalent left-wing counter culture.

More strangeness was to follow. When Burke began speaking, I--along with the huge crowd listening--was soon mesmerized by his magnificent eloquence. Speaking of nature’s bounty, Burke urged Americans “not to commit waste on the inheritance...hazarding to leave to those who come after them, a ruin instead of a habitation.”

As he went on, I realized Burke was describing a coherent, overall approach to environmental protection, one that was simple, powerful, and persuasive.

This is Burkian environmentalism. Here is what it boiled down to:

It’s highly imprudent, Burke warned, for humans to radically intervene in the functioning of natural systems whose boundless complexity and infinite interdependence exceed our understanding. Such interventions are especially unwise and dangerous when these systems--such as climate--underpin our very existence. Plaintively, Burke asked what in past human experience suggests that such large-scale meddling is harmless? On the contrary, it’s prudent to assume that great risks are involved.

(In his remarks, Burke acclaimed prudence as “the chief among virtues.” So I wanted to be absolutely sure of the word’s exact meaning. I checked the dictionary: prudence is the exercise of careful good judgment based on actual past experience and the application of such judgment to show care for the future.)

I think the application of the virtue of prudence to our environmental decision-making is critical and often absent from the calculation of the government. Prudence is the virtue that invites us to see the practical world the way it really is, to learn from our experience and to be measured and wise in our response to it. Unfortunately, when it comes to the environment, we often see that the government is not prudent. Instead, we see the pursuit of contradictory policies in the name of sustainability, policies that do not actually move us toward sustainable objectives. There are policies designed to look like a statement is being made, but not actually make anything resembling substantive progress.

Our reflection on this particular tradition in the words of Burke and the principles around prudence could well inform the actions of the government.

The article continues:

When it comes to politics and government, Burke argued that prudence--simple, ordinary prudence--in itself provides a sound base for public policy on the environment. And because this is self-evidently true, environmental activists can stand and fight on this base with strength and confidence.

The second point about Burkian environmentalism that is made in the article is the desirability of organic change:

Burke made clear that his call for prudence is not a call to halt progress. He believes that change is desirable, necessary, and in any case nature compels it. “We must all obey the great law of change,” he declared. “It is the most powerful law of nature, and the means perhaps of its conservation.”

This is perhaps a challenge to some of the caricaturist versions of Burke that are presented by his critics. Some people suggest he was against any kind of change, but that is not the case. He speaks of change as a law of nature and the value of organic change as a way to ensure we sustain our civilization, we sustain our ability, but also recognize the change should happen in a way that is organic. The challenge he said is how to best manage change.

Continuing the article, it states:

Burke believes the answer to this challenge may be found in the functioning of natural systems. Change must be sought organically. Organic change occurs on a small scale, incrementally, from the bottom up. It evolves without being forced or contrived.

Organic change should characterize environmental politics too. Burke said change in nature was “a condition of unchangeable constancy, (that) moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve, we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete.”

This is some beautiful language coming from Edmund Burke, making a connection between the sustainability of the environment and then the policies we pursue to make the environment sustainable, making that connection also to the kinds of policies we pursue in other areas, to the way we treat our institutions, that we recognize the need for our institutions to be sustainable to preserve what is good about them and where we make changes, to do them in a way that is organic.

This is a point I do not think is well understood by the government. Although it may talk the talk of sustainability, I think it misunderstands its richer application, at least in the way I do, following what is being said by Burke.

The government talks about making immediate and radical changes on which often it cannot deliver. It made promises, for instance, to dramatically change the electoral system and it failed to deliver on that promise. The context of the consultations that happened through the discussion was that people made the point that there were benefits of our existing system that needed to be preserved. Therefore, when we talk about possible changes to the way our democratic institutions work, we have to make changes in a way that is sustainable, not just in the sense that we allow those institutions to continue to exist, but that we sustain the benefits, the wisdom and the effectiveness of those previous institutions.

This is the essence of Burkean philosophy applied to politics. However, it draws an important connection between what we observe in the natural world, change, yes, but the preservation of that change in an organic context and how we ought to think about our institutions. They are not the sorts of things we should cut down and redesign on a whim.

I think about our own parliamentary institutions, how they have evolved organically and how we continue to look for opportunities to change and improve them, how we discuss ways possibly that we can strengthen our institutions, but at the same time do so in ways that reflect observed problems and a desire to preserve the wisdom of the past. That is what we should be doing when we have discussions about ways to preserve the sustainability of strengthening our institutions.

Bill C-57 invites us to use the tools of sustainability more, to include in our reporting and accountability to the government a greater emphasis on sustainability. The government probably thinks about that language of sustainability primarily in the economic context. However, I hope this will engender a deeper appreciation of the value of sensitivity, of how all policy-making, the way we act in the context of our institutions, the way we preserve social institutions and the way we interact with community groups about our fiscal and economic policy. Are we doing things in ways that preserve the sustainability of those institutions?

I wonder if, in the context of goals being set on sustainability, as mandated by Bill C-57, we will see a greater use of that tool in the reports they give. I hope we will see that, because certainly, that is something that is worthwhile and quite important.

I am going to continue now to read from this article about Edmund Burke's approach to environmentalism. The article states:

In this connection, Burke heaped praise on the thousands of new small green businesses and entrepreneurial endeavours now flourishing throughout the country. These businesses are not only transforming the economy, he said, they are also forming a vibrant and vocal political constituency. (Hearing this, I thought—wow!—a constituency like this is exactly what Burkean environmentalism needs if its promise is to be realized.)

We hear him speak about the issue of, in Burke's time, small green businesses, entrepreneurial endeavours coming from within civil society that were responding in a concrete way to the environmental challenges that were faced. Those, he understood, were the benefits associated with that policy.

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague brought forward Bill C-262, which was passed by the majority in this place. My colleague's bill would now require that the government reflect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in all federal government legislation. I would welcome my colleague's comments on this.

On two occasions, I have brought forward amendments for the government to include in new legislation coming forward, including Bill C-57, which would amend the Sustainable Development Act; and Bill C-69, which would transform our entire major project review process. The Liberal government turned down more than a dozen proposals to include the UNDRIP in that legislation. I wonder if the member could also speak to this.

The government seems to want to give the illusion that it supports all the TRC calls to action. It is giving the illusion that it now supports the UNDRIP, but in its actions, it does not seem to be delivering on that promise, also as pointed out recently by the Auditor General of Canada.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

moved that Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I will describe how our government is taking action to ensure that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand; our work with provinces, territories, indigenous peoples, and international partners to address climate change; and our support for the global 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals.

I will go on to discuss how Bill C-57 supports our strong commitment to sustainability and how it will contribute to more effective, inclusive, and accountable sustainable development strategies in the future.

Let me emphasize again the importance of discussing how Bill C-57 would support our strong commitment to sustainability as well as how the proposed changes would contribute to more effective, inclusive, and accountable sustainable development strategies in the future.

First, I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. The committee's unanimous second report, “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”, provided thoughtful recommendations that were the foundation of the bill.

I would also like to congratulate the members of the committee for their work in considering and amending Bill C-57 and for taking part in fruitful discussions and debate. Their efforts resulted in a number of improvements to the bill, which I will be discussing today.

Of course, I would like to again recognize the hon. John Godfrey, former member of Parliament for Don Valley West and sponsor of the original private member's bill that became the Federal Sustainable Development Act. His vision and leadership gave rise to the current federal sustainability approach we are seeking to build on and enhance through the bill.

Bill C-57 is about advancing sustainable development in Canada. I have noted before in the House, and I will continue to emphasize, that advancing sustainable development is a priority for our government. Canadians have said that they want a sustainable future for Canada. We have always maintained that a clean environment and a strong economy can and must go hand in hand in the modern world. We also know that the well-being of Canada's future generations depend on it.

As part of the global community, we are all facing serious challenges, including the continued threat of global climate change. Here in Canada, we are already experiencing the effects of a warming planet from wildfires that rage longer and harsher than ever before, to thinning sea ice in the Arctic, to rising sea levels that threaten communities from coast to coast to coast, to unprecedented flooding, something we experienced first-hand here in the Ottawa-Gatineau area about this time last year.

Action is needed, and we are responding together with our partners in Canada and around the world. Our government is committed to supporting the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the global framework to eliminate poverty, fight inequality, and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. As the Prime Minister said in his recent address to the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly, we are committed to implementing the 2030 agenda’s sustainable development goals at home while we work with our international partners to achieve them around the world.

The federal sustainable development strategy demonstrates our commitment to the 2030 agenda, with 13 aspirational goals that are a Canadian reflection of the global sustainable development goals. The federal strategy's specific, medium-term targets, short-term milestones, and actions show how we will implement the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’s environmental dimensions.

The amendments to the act would support future federal sustainable development strategies that would continue to align their goals and reporting with the 2030 agenda, ensuring that Canadians would have a thorough view of our sustainable development priorities and our accompanying national actions to advance the 2030 agenda.

Tackling climate change, the most pressing challenge of our time, is an important part of the 2030 agenda and is a priority for our government. Transitioning to a low-carbon economy is critical if we want to ensure a good quality of life for our children and grandchildren. Inaction is not an option.

Recognizing this, our government ratified the historic Paris agreement in October 2016 and worked with provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples to develop the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, Canada's comprehensive plan to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy, accelerate clean growth, and build resilience to climate impacts.

Implementation of the framework is now well under way, with good progress already achieved on measures such as phasing out coal-fired power generation by 2030, developing regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, and introducing a clean fuel standard.

This past June, our government launched the $2-billion low-carbon economy fund to support projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are also working with provinces and territories to ensure that carbon pricing applies across Canada, including by developing a federal carbon pricing backstop system.

We also continue to work with our international partners to advance global action on climate change. Most recently, at the recent 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Canada became a founding member of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which includes national and subnational governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations focused on accelerating clean growth and climate protection through the rapid phase-out of traditional coal power.

This past November, Canada also became one of the first countries in the world to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This amendment will phase down hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are powerful greenhouse gases. In support of our commitment to the Kigali Amendment as well as our made-in-Canada climate plan, we have published regulations to reduce HFC consumption in Canada by 85% by 2036.

We are also taking action to protect Canada's lands, coasts, and oceans. We are engaging coastal communities, stakeholders, and all four orders of government as we implement our oceans protection plan. As part of this plan, we introduced legislation in May to formalize the moratorium on crude-oil tanker traffic on British Columbia's north coast. We have also achieved our commitment to protect five per cent of Canada's marine and coastal areas by 2017, and we remain committed to protecting 10% by 2020.

In August, the federal government, Nunavut, and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association announced the official boundary for a new national marine conservation area in Tallurutiup Imanga, Lancaster Sound, which will be the biggest protected area ever established in Canada.

We are continuing to conserve and connect Canada's lands, lakes, and rivers. With the Government of Alberta, we are leading a process to meet our target of 17% of terrestrial areas and inland waters conserved by 2030. This includes gathering advice from a broad range of stakeholders through the National Advisory Panel and the Indigenous Circle of Experts.

It is clear that we are taking effective action to realize our vision of a clean environment, a strong economy, and a better quality of life for Canadians. Much is being done, but more progress is needed to meet the challenge of sustainable development and to take advantage of its opportunities.

That brings me back to Bill C-57. This bill would make important improvements to the sustainability approach in the 2008 Federal Sustainable Development Act, particularly in the areas that require the government to prepare and report on sustainable development strategies. It would make these strategies more accountable and inclusive, thereby making them more effective. This would help to hasten our progress toward a more sustainable Canada, something I am sure we all support.

I would now like to take this opportunity to share the specific amendments proposed in Bill C-57. First, the bill proposes a new purpose, which clarifies that the focus of the act and the federal sustainable development strategy would be sustainable development, not strictly related to the environment. It would shift the act's focus from planning and reporting to driving action and improving Canadians' quality of life, and it would specify that the federal sustainable development strategy must respect Canada's domestic and international obligations.

Bill C-57 also adds principles to the act to guide our whole-of-government strategy, as well as the strategies of individual federal departments and agencies. These include, for example, the principle of intergenerational equity, which is absolutely foundational to the concept of sustainable development. The current act requires individual departments to prepare their own strategies that are in line with their mandates and that comply with and contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy.

Under Bill C-57, more than 90 federal organizations, up from 26 today, will work in a collaborative and coordinated way toward common objectives.

The bill would also reinforce our government’s commitment to an inclusive sustainability approach by strengthening the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. It would double representation of indigenous peoples on the council from three members to six, and would provide the council with a clear mandate to advise me on sustainable development.

Finally, and most critically, it would strengthen the government's accountability for achieving concrete and meaningful sustainable development results. Part of the recommendations would shift the focus in the Federal Sustainable Development Act from planning and reporting to results. This is extremely important. We want to see results. We need to show that government departments understand the importance of sustainable development. One way to do that is to have strong targets, measurable targets, targets that have a clear time frame for their achievement.

Bill C-57 would ensure that future strategies would continue to have a focus on results and would increase the accountability of departments and agencies in setting and achieving ambitious sustainable development targets. This would enable Canadians to closely track whether the government was meeting its commitments.

Parliamentarians have an essential role to play in holding the government to account for sustainable development results. Bill C-57 would support and strengthen this role. Building on the requirements of the current act, it would ensure that federal organizations report each year to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, and the equivalent committee of the Senate, on actions taken to meet their commitments and the results achieved.

Also, recognizing the crucial role of parliamentarians, Bill C-57 would provide for a permanent review of the act by a parliamentary committee. The review would be carried out every five years, further strengthening accountability and supporting continuous improvement of the act and its implementation over time.

I want to acknowledge that as well as providing the foundation for this bill through its unanimous report, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development strengthened it by studying the bill and proposing thoughtful amendments. I want to thank all the committee members for their contributions. Good ideas from all sides were considered, debated, and discussed.

While all the amendments accepted by the committee resulted in important changes to the bill, I would like to highlight a few in particular that would contribute to the government's sustainable development approach. First, the committee accepted an amendment proposed by the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands that added a new principle to Bill C-57. This principle tells us that sustainable development is an evolving concept. It clarifies that achieving sustainable development means protecting our environment, but it also means protecting health, promoting equity, conserving cultural heritage, respecting our domestic and international obligations, and recognizing our responsibility to future generations. Our government will look to this principle to develop strategies that go beyond environmental issues to address sustainable development as a whole and to draw on well-accepted approaches to promoting sustainability, such as applying the precautionary principle.

Public consultations are already an essential part of the current act. Comments from indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and the public shaped our current federal sustainable development strategy, leading to more measurable and ambitious targets, and a stronger focus on supporting the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

With the committee’s amendments, all federal organizations would take these comments into account as they prepare their own sustainable development strategies.

Finally, other amendments, including those proposed by the hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington, would help focus the act on sustainable development as a whole rather than on the environment alone. One, for example, specifies that Treasury Board’s role includes establishing policies and issuing directives related to the sustainable development impacts of government operations and not just environmental impacts.

Taking into account these improvements, how would Bill C-57 support greater progress towards our vision for sustainable development in Canada? Quite simply, it would be through better sustainable development strategies that focus on results and reflect the priorities of Canadians and by ensuring that the government set clear and measurable sustainability targets and could be held accountable for achieving them.

I want to highlight in particular the impact of the new principles proposed in Bill C-57, particularly given the improvements made at committee. Principles are at the core of Bill C-57, defining our values and aspirations for sustainable development strategies. The bill would ensure that government considers principles such as intergenerational equity, collaboration, and results and delivery when preparing strategies. The new principle would provide clarity on the nature and scope of sustainable development, and approaches the government should consider in working toward sustainability goals and targets. Under an amended act, future strategies will clearly demonstrate to Canadians how our commitments and actions reflect these core principles.

This means that future strategies will benefit from a clear, shared understanding of the breadth of actions that contribute to achieving sustainable development and to protecting the environment, as well as protecting health, promoting equity, and conserving cultural heritage.

Future strategies will also continue to benefit from engagement with indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians. We saw the importance of this in the development of the current federal sustainable development strategy. Comments received through public consultations helped make our plan more aspirational, measurable, and inclusive.

Bill C-57, including the amendments made at committee, would build on this important component of the government’s sustainability approach. It would better enable indigenous peoples to play a strong role in guiding our sustainable development strategies and actions, including by increasing their representation on the Sustainable Development Advisory Council.

It would also enable me to engage more effectively with my council, including meeting with its members in person, something that has never been possible before. By specifying that the council's mandate includes advising me on matters related to sustainable development, it would address a clear gap in the current act.

All these measures would help ensure that our strategies, both the overarching federal sustainable development strategy and strategies of individual federal organizations, reflect the priorities of indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians. In particular, it would ensure that the unique perspectives of indigenous peoples are heard and taken into account.

However, strategies matter only if the government can be held accountable for results. That is why Bill C-57 would strengthen accountability under the Federal Sustainable Development Act. In requiring all federal sustainable development strategy goals to be measurable and include a time frame, the bill would ensure that Canadians are fully aware of what the government has committed to achieve and whether those commitments are being met.

With a new requirement for federal departments and agencies to report each year on how they are implementing their strategies and the results achieved, parliamentarians and all Canadians will be able to closely track the government's sustainable development progress and hold the government to account.

In conclusion, Bill C-57 reinforces our government's commitment to put sustainable development and the environment at the forefront of government thinking and decision-making. We believe it is a very important step that we need to take in order to ensure that we make decisions about a sustainable future in Canada, focusing on results and increasing the accountability of departments and agencies for setting and achieving ambitious sustainable development targets.

The bill supports modernizing the Federal Sustainable Development Act and incorporating into legislation our government's strong focus on results. The bill also promotes close collaboration and coordinated action across government through a whole-of-government approach. In short, this legislation would move us from planning and consulting on sustainable development to achieving and reporting on results.

I would like to once again thank the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their ideas, commitment, and collaboration.

I encourage all my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my counterpart for his question.

Clearly, we are going to see improvements thanks to Bill C-57, since it is a very results-based bill.

I want to once again thank the committee for its thoughtful suggestions with regard to the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Canadians want Canada to have a sustainable future. This bill clearly demonstrates that sustainable development and the environment are at the forefront of the government's thinking and future decisions. Thanks to the committee's recommendations, the sustainable development bar for Canada has been raised. We took into account all of the committee's recommendations. I think that will significantly improve the bill and we will see results.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the Minister of Environment and Climate Change for bringing forward for discussion Bill C-57, including the recommendations from the committee.

I had a conversation this morning with one of my constituents, who was concerned about methane emissions in agriculture and whether these are included in our sustainability goals. I mentioned a sustainable agriculture study that I was part of, which we just completed on the agriculture committee. The minister mentioned CH4 in her presentation on methane in the oil and gas industry. Could she maybe expand on the importance of controlling and reducing methane emissions, to address my constituent's concerns?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, we are here to focus on Bill C-57, regarding sustainable development, but I will always stand up for our government's broader agenda, which is making key investments that actually are about the future. These investments are in public transportation, for example, historic investments. When it comes to investments in the light rail transit here in Ottawa, this is going to be the largest reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the city's history, and it is also going to be awesome for families. People can get home faster, with less pollution. That is what people want.

We understand that inaction on climate change is a tax on future generations. I wish the party opposite would understand that. If we do not take action now, we are going to pay. We are paying the consequences now. We have seen historic floods, droughts, forest fires. Prince Edward Island is shrinking by 43 centimetres a year. We need to take action on climate change while growing our economy, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

Today we are debating Bill C-57. I hope that I can count on the NDP's support. I think I can. We do have a plan for climate change. The previous government did nothing for 10 years to address climate change, but we negotiated a plan. It took us a year to negotiate with the provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, and all Canadians. In this plan we looked at how we can combat greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, including the oil sector. We will continue with our plan and we will make sure that we meet our international targets.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today in the House to speak to C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

For those who are not familiar with this piece of proposed legislation and what it is trying to do, it would provide a legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy that would make government's environmental, economic, and social decision-making more accountable to Parliament.

The bill proposes to expand the Federal Sustainable Development Act by enabling a whole-of-government approach, with mandatory and expanded reporting requirements and new enforcement measures. These amendments partly stem from the unanimous 2016 report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development entitled “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”. That report recommended a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development projects. As the minister has previously indicated, it was a unanimous report by the committee, with recommendations to try to move us forward on this topic of sustainable development.

However, it is important when we are trying to move forward on something that we understand what it is. Therefore, I will read the definition of sustainable development:

Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. The desired result is a state of society where living conditions and resource use continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural system. Sustainable development can be classified as development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.

There are a few important things in this definition. I want to highlight the first part that talks about having goals. It is important to have goals when we are trying to achieve sustainable development. The second part that is really important to me is where it says that we should meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations. I will highlight a few areas that could be of concern in this regard.

If, as I said, we need goals for sustainable development, what are the goals of the Liberal government here?

We have all heard countless times that the environment and economy go hand in hand. It is obviously a goal of the government to see this become a reality in the country. We also know that the government is keen to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If those are the goals, it is important to look at them.

First, let us talk about the Auditor General's report, because the Auditor General looked look at what the government is doing and has commented on its progress. Here we are about 65% through this current parliamentary session, but, unfortunately, the Auditor General's report is not very flattering about what is happening with the environment minister. The report talks about the progress that should have been made in reducing greenhouse gases. Members will remember that the Liberal government boasted in the last election that it was the only party that could address Canada's climate change challenges. However, after two years, the Auditor General gave it an F, a failing grade. His report reads:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...the measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions contained in this plan had yet to be implemented.

Therefore, two-thirds of the way through the government's mandate, these recommendations have yet to be implemented.

The Auditor General's report went on to say:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...did not make progress toward meeting Canada’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The report says that no progress has been made. It does not say that there was insufficient progress.

In the meantime, the one thing the minister and her government did was impose a massive carbon tax on Canadians, resulting in impacts that we will see for generations. Even so, the Auditor General still concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada had not provided adequate leadership to advance the federal government's adaptation to climate change impacts.

The progress made is nothing, and the Liberals have not implemented a plan. Therefore, that is not going very well.

Let us take a look at how he economy going. During the two-thirds of the mandate in which the Liberals have been in charge, $80 billion of investment have left Canada in the energy sector, 100,000 energy workers have lost their jobs, 400,000 forestry workers have been impacted by the government's inaction on the softwood lumber file, and who knows what the impacts will be from the most recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminium, which are huge industries in Canada.

In addition, there is the whole Kinder Morgan pipeline fiasco. The government has stepped in and spent $4.5 billion of taxpayer money to buy 65-year-old assets that will not build one inch of new pipeline. Instead of encouraging private investment in the country, which Kinder Morgan planned to do by spending billions of dollars and creating thousands of Canadian jobs, the government has given Kinder Morgan money to take to the U.S. and create jobs there. We are not creating those jobs here in Canada. There is no evidence that the government has addressed any of the conditions required to keep the NDP from protesting against the pipelines, the B.C. government from opposing this, and getting the licence from the indigenous people to move forward on this.

That is one part of the economy.

The other part of the economy is the deficit. Starting with a $10 billion deficit, the promise the Liberals ran on in the 2015 election, all of a sudden the deficit in the first year was twice that. The second year was twice that. Now in this third year, it is three times that, with no end in sight. The Liberals will not be returning to a balanced budget within its mandate. Projections are that they will not be returning to balance until 2045. The Liberals have added $1.5 trillion to the deficit. This is ridiculous.

The principles of sustainable development say that we want to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations. However, future generations will have to pay for the debt that the government has racked up. I did simple math yesterday to try to figure out what that would look like. It looks like every taxpayer in Canada will pay $5,000 right off the top, just for the interest on the debt being accumulated by the government.

This spending pattern is definitely not sustainable development, and it is not helping the economy. People are losing confidence in the Canadian economy, not the other way around.

Worse, environmental regulations have been put in place that lengthen the approval process, that create uncertainty in the approval process and drive investments out of Canada. Under the Liberal government, the energy east project was withdrawn by the private investor. The Petronas LNG project went the same route. The government arbitrarily decided that the northern gateway project was not to be built. Investors in other countries looking at Canada are not going to be inspired to think that development is sustainable or even achievable here. The government needs to do something to change that climate.

As members knows, I am not one to just criticize without making helpful suggestions. I do have some helpful suggestions at which the government should look.

First, let us talk about the climate change plan. Canada makes up about 2% of the carbon footprint of the world. We could eliminate the whole thing and it really would not make a big difference in addressing climate change. However, we do have some things that we can do.

If we could help other countries, such as China, India, Europe, and the U.S., reduce their footprints, and those four areas are 60% of the carbon footprint of the world, we would actually do something to help climate change. How could we do that?

We have technology and resources that we could bring to bear. If we can get the oil to the coasts and sell it to China, India, Korea, and places like that in the world that want to purchase our oil, they could get off coal. That is a huge advance in reducing the carbon footprint in the world. In addition, Canada is very well known for our renewable technology. My riding of Sarnia—Lambton has one of the largest solar farms in North America. We have wind power. We have a whole bio-innovation centre devoted to coming up with new innovations to cleverly create power in the world.

There are a couple of ideas. One of them is a vortex machine that could be used in places that have warm sea water, using the warm sea water to create power and energy. This is excellent technology. If members are not familiar with it, they should look up Lambton College and Bio-Innovation Centre in Sarnia—Lambton and take a look at that technology.

However, there is other technology such as carbon sequestration. Canadians are known around the globe for this. Leveraging that technology would also do a lot to help the world reduce its carbon footprint, which is important. Some things are in our control and others are outside of our control.

The volcano in Hawaii within a few short days will put out more carbon footprint than almost all of the entire planet. Those types of things we cannot control. Forest fires are the same. The number of forest fires in North America every year totally undoes all the work we try to do in carbon footprint reduction, so we need to have a plan for that.

The other thing the government needs to consider with respect to climate change is having a plan to address the impacts of climate change. Canada has seen an increase in flooding, for example. We had severe flooding in Calgary, in Winnipeg, in Toronto, and in the Atlantic provinces. We have seen forest fires in B.C. unlike anything we have seen before.

Disaster relief for these things takes money. There are issues that can be predicted. The permafrost, for example, as it is melting in the north, impacts on the infrastructure like roads and highways. Where is the government's plan to address this and where are the contingencies for these types of things? The government needs to do something on that.

With respect to the economy and ensuring that the environment and the economy go hand in hand, the Liberals need to look at how they are creating a climate for business investment in Canada. I would suggest they look to our neighbours to the south. They are lowering corporate taxes. They do not have a carbon tax everywhere but California. They are reducing the regulatory burden instead of putting in additional processes that add time, bureaucracy, costs, and uncertainty to the project. They should look at those situations and try to create a competitive environment in Canada.

Canada can compete. We have great talent and great resources. However, if we do not create a climate where investors want to come here to do business and feel certain they can, then we will lose out.

We cannot put all of our eggs in one basket, so the government needs to think more broadly about sustainable development than just climate change. We need to pay attention to a number of issues in Canada, but I do not feel they are receiving adequate attention today.

In the west the pine beetles are eating our forests. That is one of our great natural resources. It drives industry and jobs in Canada as well, not to mention the fact that it absorbs carbon dioxide. We need to address that crisis.

The algae bloom issue in Lake Erie needs to be addressed. I know plans are in place and people are working with the agriculture industry and others to try to reduce phosphorus loading, but more needs to be done.

Our agriculture industry is another area. It is very important not just to sustain the industry so all of us can eat, but also so we can grow things that will help us with a carbon sink. The agriculture industry is under attack in Canada. The government is putting regulations on this industry to ban pesticides, without replacement, but it is allowing people to ship food grown with those same pesticides into the country. This is another area where Canada is not competitive.

With respect to raising livestock, the government is currently introducing something to eliminate the selling of feed with antibiotics premixed in it. That is given to animals that are sick; it is not given wholeheartedly to all animals. It is another example of people in other countries being able to raise their animals in a way that is more competitive and ship those products here.

I could go on about the water issue in Canada, another one of our great natural resources. I am terribly disappointed in the government's progress on eliminating boil water advisories across the country.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to resume my speech on C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

To give a brief recap, for those who may have missed my beginning remarks, the bill is about putting a framework in place for the government to ensure that all government activities keep sustainable development in mind. In fact, it will be extended to 90 departments of the government, with reporting back to Parliament.

To make sure everyone understands what sustainable development is, I reviewed the definition. The important parts of sustainable development are having goals and making sure that development “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations”.

I then went into a review of what the government's goals are. We have heard repeatedly that the environment and the economy go hand in hand and that the government has an agenda to address climate change. We were able to review the Auditor General's comments on how that is going. The Auditor General, unfortunately, did not have very good things to say about progress on climate change under the current government. The Auditor General concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada's measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions contained in the framework had yet to be implemented. Here we are two-thirds of the way through their mandate, and the Liberals have not even implemented that.

The Auditor General's report also said that there has been no progress. It concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada “did not provide adequate leadership to advance the federal government's adaptation to climate change impacts.”

That is on top of the fact that we cannot get a straight answer from the minister with respect to the greenhouse gas emissions reductions her plan, which we have not seen, and it does not look like the Auditor General has either, will make. Therefore, that is not going very well.

In terms of the economy, $80 billion has left the energy sector, and about 100,000 energy sector jobs have been sacrificed. We also see the forestry industry impacted by the government's lack of action on softwood lumber. Of course, now we have the steel and aluminum tariffs, the elimination of the private investment of Kinder Morgan, and the cancelling of multiple projects. There is concern, as well, about the economy.

I then went on to briefly detail the debt the government is racking up with its out-of-control spending. I really think that goes against the principle of sustainable development, which says that we are going to meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations”. This debt is definitely going to be paid for by future generations, and I think the government needs to get that under control.

That said, I have many helpful suggestions on what the government ought to be doing with respect to climate change in the world. Canada, of course, has less than 2% of the world's carbon footprint. In terms of what we can do, we actually have a lot of technology to reduce our carbon footprint, such as carbon sequestration and some of the other green technology we have. We really should be leveraging these technologies to other countries in the world, such as China, India, Europe, and the United States, which make up about 60% of the carbon footprint.

I then went on to talk about some things we had better prepare for, because we have seen a lot of flooding, definite changes in the permafrost, and forest fires that are larger than ever. The government needs to have a contingency plan on how it is going to address that.

Comparing the record of the current government to the previous Conservative government, we reduced emissions, reduced taxes, and grew the economy at the same time. I think we have shown that we can do it successfully. Therefore, I would encourage the government to move along on that.

On water, which is where I was when we paused, the Great Lakes are being remediated and need some of the $80 million that has been allocated to pay attention to that.

That said, I am pleased that the committee's report was unanimous. I am pleased that the amendments that were brought were thoughtful, and we will be supporting Bill C-57.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, the constituents in Guelph are really excited about the developments in Sarnia. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has been telling us about Suncor's St. Clair ethanol plant and the opportunities it brings farmers for carbon credits under the Government of Ontario's carbon credit program. The member mentioned Bio-Industrial Park Sarnia. Guelph has a net-zero water treatment plant and is using some of the technologies Sarnia is using.

I am excited to see the clean-tech opportunities and other opportunities we can share through Bill C-57 in terms of greening our government operations. It might help us achieve the climate change goals we have together. The benefit for our communities, for our province, and for our country is something we can share between Guelph and Sarnia.

Could the hon. member talk about the great clean-tech developments in Sarnia and how Bill C-57 might enhance the development of these types of solutions?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-57, which amends the Federal Sustainability Act. This is a very important issue, which I will get to in a little bit.

I want to start by saying that it is unfortunate and disgusting that we are once again under a gag order as we debate issues that are so very important not only to us as a society, but also to the future of our planet. Once again, the government is limiting the amount of time we have for debate. It is preventing parliamentarians from debating and improving this bill, to ensure that we have a strong plan for sustainable development. the Liberals are once again breaking a clear promise they made during the election campaign. They are limiting debate times, imposing a gag order on members of Parliament, and not giving us enough time to have a serious debate. Today is Friday, and this is the fifth time this week alone that the Liberals have moved a time allocation motion. For those who are not familiar with the jargon, a time allocation motion means that the government is imposing a gag order a limiting the amount of time for debate.

I think that topics like sustainable development, the United Nations goals, and global warming should be taken seriously by the Liberal government. It should give us enough time to have a thorough, honest debate on this bill, so that we can address all of the details.

It is so important that I am personally convinced, and many of my colleagues here share my opinion, that the environmental issues, the protection of biodiversity, and the fight against climate change are truly the challenge of our generation.

Our children and grandchildren will judge us on our ability to deal with these challenges, our ability to ensure that we maintain a healthy environment, and our ability to prevent global temperatures from increasing by more than 2%, since that could have catastrophic consequences. I do not say that lightly. It has been scientifically proven that the earth's temperature is rising. It has also been proven that the actions of human societies, including our production and consumption activities, are mainly responsible for global warming. Our actions and our decisions are causing global warming and there are many consequences to that, including what is known as extreme weather. In some places, it is much hotter than it used to be, while in others it is much colder. On average, it is much hotter, and there has been an increase in the number and intensity of so-called natural disasters. That means there have been more floods, droughts, forest fires, and hurricanes, and those hurricanes are stronger and cause more damage. We have already seen this sort of thing in Canada. It has been documented and there are reports on the subject. Extreme weather and natural disasters are costing us more and more.

We often hear about cost, about putting a price on pollution and the cost of making greener, more environmentally responsible choices. However, I want to make it clear that there is also a cost to doing nothing and sitting on our hands while disasters break out all around us. This is not just a financial or economic issue, it is a human issue.

I would remind everyone here that former U.S. vice-president Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental advocacy and actions. Why did the Nobel committee decide to award a Nobel Peace Peace to someone who works on environmental and sustainable development issues? There does not seem to be a link, but in fact, there is one. In addition to extreme weather, we are now going to start seeing climate migrants. Mr. Gore was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize because it is a well-known fact that drastically higher temperatures in certain regions, deforestation, and lack of access to water will cause population displacement around the globe and turn millions of people into climate migrants.

Environmental migration can lead to conflict, even armed conflict. That is why the folks at the Nobel committee decided to recognize Al Gore on his work a number of years ago and issued a statement saying that preventing global warming might get us just a bit closer to world peace.

Global warming also has an impact on our ecosystems here. One of our colleagues from northern Canada, the author of Bill C-262, noted that Quebec's far north now has species of birds and insects that it did not have before and that can trigger dangerous changes in the balance of certain ecosystems. Even in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, where there are not that many ecosystems, we were forced to cut down dozens of trees because of the ash borer, an insect that did not previously exist back home. Climate change has caused the ash borer to migrate north and now it is attacking the trees.

I was talking to a winemaker in the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé recently. He says climate change could affect wine production in Quebec because of a vine-destroying insect called phylloxera native to France and Europe. Phylloxera cannot survive our winters, but that could change as our winters warm and we get periods of milder weather. It may begin to attack our vines. Periods of milder weather have other significant impacts, too. For example, if there is a major thaw in January, the vines think spring has come and start to bud, then they freeze and die for the rest of the season.

I wanted to share those details with the House, but I will now turn to a situation happening a long way from home. This morning on Radio-Canada, I had a chance to listen to an interview with documentary filmmaker Matthieu Rytz, who directed a documentary called Anote's Ark. Anote is the leader of a small nation, a unique population living on Kiribati, an atoll in the middle of the Pacific.

Like many other Pacific atolls, their island is only about a metre above sea level, and sea level is already rising. If we do not meet our Paris Agreement targets and slow down global warming, the glaciers at the North and South poles will melt, causing the sea level to rise everywhere. For the people of Kiribati, it is almost too late already.

There are other countries where we hope to avert disasters. I am thinking in particular of Bangladesh, which is already below sea level, but which may have more resources to protect its coastline. The Netherlands and Holland already have an entire infrastructure for that, but the people of Kiribati do not. It is most unfortunate.

The documentary is called Anote's Ark because all these people plan on leaving. They are looking for somewhere else to live. They may move to Fiji, for example. They are already in negotiations to relocate to other countries. It is so tragic. Their entire way of life will disappear. It could also lead to complications and tension.

The climate migrants I mentioned earlier are a clear and typical example of the fact that this phenomenon will grow. If they are moved to another country, will a state be created within the host country, or will they simply be assimilated into the existing population? These are serious issues. What can we do to prevent this cultural diversity from disappearing? Biological diversity is important, but so is cultural diversity. We see the type of problems that this will cause.

Before I go into the specifics of the bill, I want to point out that the Liberal government promised to put an end to oil subsidies. After two and a half years in power, it has done absolutely nothing about this. On the contrary, I believe it has just handed out the largest oil subsidy in Canada's history by writing a $4.5-billion cheque to a U.S. company to purchase a 65-year-old pipeline that is leaking, by the way.

However, Canada pledged to participate in an accountability process adopted by the G7 and G20 to track each country's progress in reducing and gradually phasing out oil subsidies. We have received an invitation. We have already been invited to pair up with Argentina to examine each other's actions and decisions to see if we are serious and making progress. What is absolutely incomprehensible is quite simply that the Liberal government did not even respond to Argentina's invitation. Argentina is still waiting for Canada to say that it wants to partner up. As they say in Argentina, it takes two to tango, but Canada is refusing to get on the dance floor.

More specifically, we have a government that, once again, is saying one thing but doing the opposite. The oil subsidies are a blatant example. It is sad. I would like to quote a report from the environment commissioner that clearly states that this government is not going in the right direction and that it will likely fall well short of meeting the weak targets it has set, where it even set any, that is. That is another problem. It is unfortunate that, despite the Liberals' campaign promises, they set exactly the same greenhouse gas reduction targets as the previous government and kept the very same game plan, and yet it seems Canada will not even meet those targets.

I would like to quote the environment commissioner's report directly. It reads:

On the basis of current federal [and] provincial...policies and actions, Canada is not expected to meet its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting Canada’s 2030 target will require substantial effort and actions beyond those currently planned or in place.

It seems pretty clear to me that we are going to miss the boat. We are going to miss the boat on what is probably the greatest challenge of this Parliament, this government, at a time when it should be leading the way and making tough decisions. It is not only the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development who is saying so. The United Nations and the OECD share the same concerns and have said that Canada will not reach its targets for 2020 or 2030. There is nothing to be proud of or to brag about here. Giving great speeches in Germany, in New York, and at the UN is all well and good, but if the government is not willing to walk the talk, there is no point. It is nothing but hot air, nothing but words, as Dalida would have said.

As for the Federal Sustainable Development Act specifically and the fact that Canada has officially committed to achieving the United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals, once again, a report released in April by the Commissioner on Environment and Sustainable Development sounded the alarm that we are not on track to achieve them. One of the federal government's major commitments to the UN is likely to remain mere empty rhetoric if Ottawa does not take meaningful action to honour those commitments.

At a news conference in April, Julie Gelfand said that it is always worrisome when a government says that it will do something and does not do it. In one of her three annual reports, she noted that Canada is not on track to meet the 17 sustainable development goals it has promised to implement on two separate occasions since 2015. The Prime Minister himself reiterated this promise when he appeared before the UN General Assembly in September 2017.

However, five departments responsible for implementing these goals by 2030 still have no targets and no system for monitoring progress. This is absolutely ridiculous. Ms. Gelfand also noted that there is no framework for coordinating these efforts at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Status of Women Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. It is unreal.

We are not on track to meet the goals and will not fulfill our international commitments, and the departments are so inept that they cannot establish targets or tracking systems themselves. Furthermore, one of these departments is the Department of the Environment. What a terrible message. What a joke. This is why the government's credibility on the environment leaves a lot to be desired, in spite of all their fine words.

Bill C-57 makes a few small changes, but it is still not enough. We are missing the boat. I will come back to this if I have any time left, but this bill is basically a copy of Bill C-474, which was introduced by Liberal Party member John Godfrey and passed in 2008. The overall framework of the bill before us is extremely weak. What I am about to say may seem a bit technical, but rather than give the government an incentive to achieve a series of sustainable development targets based on certain principles, Bill C-57 merely sets out a legal framework for developing a strategy.

That means that, once again, a framework will be created, consultations will be held, and everyone will talk about big ideas for this strategy. In the meantime, however, the concept of setting targets and figuring out how to meet them has fallen by the wayside even though those steps are key if we want to take this seriously and make things happen. Instead, they are building castles in the air, ignoring the targets, and pretending what they are doing will be good enough. We think this is a missed opportunity that could have been used to achieve so much more.

Initially, the bill introduced and passed in 2008 proposed establishing an independent commissioner position to act as an environmental auditor general, which we currently do not have. There is no one who is entirely independent to oversee, as an auditor general does, what the government is doing on the environment. Regrettably, instead of creating that position, the bill aims simply to create a sustainable development office at Environment and Climate Change Canada, but without any real plan. Thus, the person responsible for monitoring progress on achieving the objectives will be part of the same organization that should already be tracking it anyway. I would not put a fox in charge of the henhouse. This is laughable.

Basically, we see a few steps in the right direction, but we think it is unfortunate that the Liberals did not act on all the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, despite what the minister said earlier today.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who always conjures up images to illustrate the contradictions and absurdity of the Liberals' decisions on climate change.

The Minister of Environment rose today to say that Bill C-57 would establish measurable plans, improved accountability, ambitious targets, and annual progress reports. However, reports prepared by the Commissioner of the Environment clearly indicate that five departments, including the Department of the Environment, have no plan and no system for monitoring progress.

How can the minister look herself in the mirror and rise in the House to speak about climate change and sustainable development when her own department has no plan and no reporting system? That is an insult to future generations, which will have to live with the consequences of this pollution and the lack of a plan. It has already been said that inaction on climate change costs millions of dollars.

Could my colleague perhaps explain what we should do, as a G7 country, to elevate the debate on climate change?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 1 p.m.
See context

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to split my time with my colleague, the member for Ottawa South.

I am proud today to speak to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which is a really important step toward realizing this government's vision that Canada become one of the greenest countries in the world and that the quality of life of Canadians across the country continue to improve.

In our second report, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development worked really hard across the aisle, all parties together, to produce a report entitled “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”. It was made clear in the report that reforms needed to be made to this law, and that is what Bill C-57 is all about.

As I am going to explain, the amendments in the bill, in particular to the purpose of the act, clearly show that sustainable development and environment are at the forefront of our thinking and our government's decision-making as we move forward.

First, I would like to acknowledge the considerable efforts of my colleagues on that committee, Liberal, Conservative, and NDP. The efforts were really collegial. It was my first experience working on a committee project and it was a very positive one.

I would also like to thank the witnesses who came before the committee, many of whom had deep expertise in this area and had committed their lives to the issue of sustainable development, both domestically and internationally. Ultimately what they helped us achieve was a unanimous report that provided insight and recommendations that were instrumental in helping shape the amendments that we now see in Bill C-57.

I want to acknowledge in particular the contributions of the hon. John Godfrey, who is now special advisor to the Ontario government on climate change. It was John Godfrey who brought forward the original private member's bill that became the Federal Sustainable Development Act during a minority government and established the foundation for federal sustainable development strategies that are brought together by each department.

I want to start by saying that this is about shifting toward a government culture that is reflective of the transparency and accountability that Canadians have come to expect of their governments.

In terms of the strategy that has been developed for 2016-19, there have been improvements every single time a strategy has been brought forward; but with this one in particular, it has become a lot better. It has set the government on a path that it will follow for the next three years with a vision for sustainability, not just across Canada, one that is more ambitious and more aspirational than past strategies, but also with more specific targets. It incorporates more social and economic dimensions and includes a wider range of departments and agencies.

That is one of the reasons we have had so much more public engagement for the 2016-19 strategy, which we consulted about for several months. There were over 540 comments delivered to the government on it.

Bill C-57 sets the stage for the future strategies that will be brought forward by different departments and agencies and crown corporations. It is going to focus on advancing not just environmental matters, but also broader sustainable development reporting. It is going to strengthen accountability by requiring that federal organizations report annually to parliamentary committees on their sustainable development progress, which means they are going to be scrutinized publicly. That is a very good thing. It is going to let people know what their government is doing, what departments are doing to implement sustainable development, by building on a whole-of-government approach, department by department, and will enable the measurement of government's performance with specific metrics.

Bill C-57 contains a number of new provisions that will support accountability and transparency. One of those is the principle of results and delivery, something that departments and agencies will have to take into account as they develop their own strategies, not just what they are aspiring to do, but also what are they actually going to be able to deliver. The targets they are setting will have to be measurable. They will have to be time balanced.

We are seeing a tightening of the screws around federal sustainable development strategies, and that is only a good thing.

When an explicit role is identified in Bill C-57 for Treasury Board in establishing policies and issuing directives in relation to the impact of government operations on sustainable development, that is a positive development. I say this because many of my constituents in the Pontiac will know that every department has its own specific challenges. Every department has its own specific operations and policy issues that they need to address.

The civil servants in my riding tell me regularly that they would like to have the opportunity to render their own departments' actions more sustainable. They know pathways, but they need the mechanisms to help get them there. They need a tougher, stronger law to make that happen. Bill C-57 would provide that. I am very confident that the hard-working civil servants in the Outaouais, in the national capital region, will be very pleased to see they will also be able to track the performance of their department, their crown corporation, the agency for which they work, as they work toward more sustainable operations.

I said that different departments and agencies would be added to the ambit of this legislation. Right now 26 departments are participating and are named in the act. That will be increased to include contributions from 90 departments and agencies, including organizations with significant environmental footprints, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Post, etc.

We are talking about legislation that will bring about a whole-of-government approach to achieving sustainability. That is a significant piece of our puzzle as a country. The federal government represents hundreds of thousands of employees. It represents so many dollars spent in products bought and in real estate. It is important for the entities that constitute the Government of Canada to be driving economic progress toward sustainability.

I also want to speak about the provisions and the purpose of the act around Canada's domestic and international obligations related to sustainable development. It has been raised in the House that the 2030 agenda from the UN, the sustainable development goals and our Paris agreement, are not included in the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

International obligations are acknowledged in the revised purpose set out in Bill C-57. This purpose reflects the government's commitment to consider current and future international sustainability obligations in the strategies that are developed. Future federal sustainable development strategies will reflect international obligations.

I would like to speak to concrete examples of activities that the government has undertaken to demonstrate how we take our international and domestic priorities seriously, in particular the voluntary national review on the 2030 agenda and our report to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

Last year I had the privilege of going to New York and delivering Canada's statement before the United Nations at the high-level political conference on sustainable development goals. That was truly a special moment and an honour for me. This year our government will be back there. I expect it will be one of our ministers who delivers Canada's very first voluntary national review, reporting back on our sustainable development goals and our achievements to date, our accomplishments, but also recognizing areas where more work is needed, whether in relation to health, gender, or consultation with indigenous peoples.

We can always do better, and better is definitely always possible in our country. We know that.

Bill C-57 would amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act in a very positive way. I am looking forward to discussing it with my colleagues on the other side.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the opposition House leader to speak to the government House leader on the questions that she has just raised.

In the meantime, this afternoon we will continue with report stage of Bill C-74, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1.

Following this debate, we will turn to Bill C-47, the arms trade treaty, also at report stage.

Tomorrow morning, we will begin third reading of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Monday and Wednesday shall be allotted days. Next week, priority will be given to the following bills: Bill-C-74, budget implementation act, 2018, No. 1; Bill C-69 on environmental assessments; Bill C-75 on modernizing the justice system; and Bill C-47 on the Arms Trade Treaty.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 9:45 p.m.
See context

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Madam Speaker, it is fascinating to hear the opposition complaining about having to be here, and this is only day three of extended hours.

The Conservatives say they are willing to stop debate on Bill C-47, but only if the government agrees not to call any other legislation. That makes no sense. They have been complaining about not having enough time to debate legislation, and extending the hours allows them to debate important legislation, so why do they suddenly not want to debate?

The government has been asking for information. The NDP has provided it, but the Conservatives have refused to provide it. Why do they ask for more debate time and then complain about getting it?

The government has spoken on this legislation, and we are now ready to advance it to the next stage. I would encourage opposition members to share information, as there is a better way to work in this place if they are willing to do so. We have not seen their desire to do so yet, but perhaps there is a way forward to be better.

They say they are eager to debate legislation, and yet they forced a vote on Bill C-57 when the House supported the bill. They did the same thing for private member's bill, Bill C-391.

If Conservative members can confirm that no members want to speak to Bill C-47 and they are prepared to let the debate collapse, then we would most certainly be happy to see the clock at midnight.

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 7:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know all members are excited and intrigued to hear my commentary on Bill C-57. Why should we not be excited about debating in the House of Commons?

However, what is disappointing is that we are debating C-57, once again, under the guillotine of time allocation. In the last 48 hours, the Liberal government has used time allocation or closure on four separate bills or motions. Indeed one parliamentary expert on Twitter has referred to this fiasco as the closure supercluster of 2018. How many more closure or time allocation motions will it take before the Liberal government has a super-duper closure cluster of 2018? It is certainly well on its way to doing so.

We are into night sittings. We are here debating until midnight. We just had a time allocation vote at about 7:45 at night.

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 7:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the encouragement. I know hon. members may want to hear what I have to say on this matter.

We are into the last week of May and the final four weeks of our sitting. However, the Liberal government has wasted and squandered its parliamentary session. Now, as the deadline of the summer recess approaches, the Liberals are trying to ram through bills on the threat and guillotine of time allocation and closure, and that is wrong. Canadians expect us to come to this place and have a fulsome debate on things that matter to them, yet we have time allocation and closure time and after time.

We are sitting until midnight, and I am happy to do so. I think all members here are willing to put in their time and do that work. However, I have to question how the Liberal government, which claims to be a family-friendly government and wants to see Parliament be a little more family friendly, thinks that having a vote at 7:45 at night is family friendly. Granted, as the father of an 11 day old, I am certainly used to being awake at all hours of the night, so it is not so bad. I would be happy to debate anyone at three o'clock in the morning if anyone is awake at that time.

Here we are in an evening sitting debating bills that clearly the government could have called and worked on. The bill before us has had relatively limited debate here at report stage. However, we, as the opposition, will be supporting Bill C-57, both at report stage and as it goes forward. I do want to commend our shadow minister, the member for Abbotsford, for his hard work on the bill. He was exceptionally eloquent when he spoke to the bill earlier in the session.

As Conservatives, we certainly believe in increased accountability. We are supporting the bill because it would provide a measure of increased accountability and increased reporting to Parliament. At the end of the day, Parliament is the ultimate arbiter. Therefore, providing that additional information and analysis to Parliament is important. The bill, with the amendment, would have a mandatory reporting requirement on a variety of matters, including environmental, economic, and social decision-making, and have that reported to Parliament.

As well, there are new enforcements. As Conservatives, we have always supported sustainable development. Many of our colleagues have been passionate about this matter and have spoken in and out of the House on it. Many of our colleagues have worked on this issue in the private sector and in their private lives for a number of years.

However, we do have some concerns with the bill. We have challenges with the increased number of paid advisory positions. These positions could be done on a voluntary basis. Unfortunately the bill would put paid advisory positions in the act. It is unfortunate, but at the same time it is something we will manage to deal with in supporting the bill.

It is a great opportunity as well to highlight that the amendment to the bill would be amending a bill that was first introduced in this place in 2008. At that time, it was introduced by our former colleague, the Hon. John Baird. This is an opportunity to highlight the good work that was done by Mr. Baird in his time as minister of the environment and the good work done by other Conservative environment ministers, including the member for Thornhill, who did an exceptional job during his time as minister of the environment.

As I said, we will be supporting Bill C-57. We are willing to see it move forward through report stage and third reading. If we look at our Conservative record on this bill, we supported the recommendations of the committee report that looked at the amendments to the legislation. We supported the committee report entitled “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations – A Report Following an Assessment of the Federal Sustainable development Act”. Sometimes we have reports with exciting titles, and this one rolls off the tip of the tongue and provides an exceptional basis from which to work.

I want to say a little about this committee report, and committee reports in general. Committees work best when they do so on a consensus basis. This was one of those reports that was achieved with a degree of consensus and reported back to the House with multi-partisan support. It is important that we, as the opposition, are able to do that. The challenge, however, is that so many committees are not working that way. We see that right now in the procedure and House affairs committee. We see the Liberal government trying to ram through changes to Canada's Elections Act without debate, without analysis, and without the time to fully hear from witnesses and to introduce amendments based on deliberations on the information from those witnesses. We should be hearing from Canadians on that matter. We should be hearing what they think is important when it comes to Canada's elections. We should be hearing how this issue will affect them on the ground, in their communities, at polling booths.

There will be an election in Ontario next Thursday. We should at least, as parliamentarians, be able to hear some of the stories and some of the options that have come out of that provincial election and the impact they may have on our federal legislation. We should be able to hear lessons learned and how they could benefit and improve that piece of legislation. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The Liberals are intent on ramming through legislation, ramming it through committee, and enforcing it with limited debate on this important matter.

That was not the case with Bill C-57. There was a previous committee report that analyzed this issue. However, now, when we have the opportunity to debate this at report stage, we have the guillotine. We have forced time allocation. Indeed, tonight we can only debate this issue for another 40 minutes. I have already used up eight or nine minutes of that time. There are only about 32 minutes left for members of the House to debate this piece of legislation. That is unfortunate, because I know that many of my colleagues could speak on this issue at great length, for the full 10 minutes of their time, or perhaps longer if they were given that time. However, unfortunately, we are being constrained to about 31 minutes to debate this issue. That is wrong.

I see I am down to one minute now to finish my comments. I am reminded of a famous writer who said that he did not have time to write a short letter, so he wrote a long letter instead. I feel like I am in the middle of a long speech, and I am being cut off early. I am so disappointed that the Liberals are cutting off debate on Bill C-57.

To conclude, the Conservative opposition will be supporting the bill at report stage, but under great duress, because we have been forced to debate this within the confines of time allocation, which is truly unfortunate. I look forward to questions from hon. members on this important matter.

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 7:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting debate in that there are rare occasions when I agree with the government. There are elements of Bill C-57 I am in agreement with, but I am going to talk about some concerns about the ideological creep of the Liberal Party into the legislation of Canada. By “ideological creep”, I do not refer to any hon. members. I refer to a creeping barrage of ideology that is actually not rooted in science. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change is seemingly unaware of global concerns with respect to some of the things being put in legislation.

Why I agree with elements of Bill C-57 is that they are rooted in the work of the last Conservative government. In 2008, as my colleague from Perth—Wellington mentioned, the Conservative government passed it. There was a lot of good work done by John Baird at that time, and it has been continued. That is the basis of the Federal Sustainable Development Act. It is based on the sustainable development goals the United Nations started with the Rio declaration, right through to the UN agenda 2030. We certainly see a benefit to many social and economic considerations going into the sustainable development goals of a country.

When looking at an environmental plan, considering economic aspects of that plan, the impact on communities, and social development is prudent as one is planning. There are many departments within the federal government planning to meet the sustainable development goals articulated by the UN, and they are coming up with plans to do that.

I would note that the government has appointed a commissioner, who I wish well in her role, Ms. Julie Gelfand. We all wish her well in terms of working with federal government departments, particularly the Department of National Defence, which has large tracts of green space and lands in Canada, to make sure that we minimize the impact on the environment, make our operations sustainable, and operate with the future in mind of handing over the country we inherited to our children. There is a lot of agreement on that, and I will agree with those goals in this legislation.

I have three areas of concern I am going to keep my remarks to, because I do not like spending too much time on agreement with Liberals in this place. My friends will start questioning my loyalty.

The first area is the typical Liberal approach. There has been concern expressed by my colleague, the member for Abbotsford, and others that it seems the minister is going to continue to expand the paid advisory councils the government will rely upon. We know, going back to the days explored by Justice Gomery, that when there are gatherings of advisers, on a range of issues, being paid and being dependent on contracts and the goodwill of the government, it actually breeds a lack of accountability. We have already seen that, with the Prime Minister being the first sitting prime minister in Canada to have been found to have violated ethics legislation that governs this case. The finance minister has two pending investigations.

We do not think there should be that approach, with these friends of the Liberals being paid advisers. That should be arm's length, and we should rely upon Ms. Gelfand and her department to provide that advice. We have exceptional civil servants, so I do not like the approach we see the Liberals resorting to too often.

I commented that there are elements I said I agree with in Bill C-57. They are certainly rooted in the work done by the Conservative government, such as instilling the polluters pay principle and a number of tangible things that will have benefits. They will show that everyone in our country, including corporations, will need to be good and responsible stewards, and those principles enshrine that.

However, there has been a lot of window dressing from the government when it comes to the environment. We almost groan when we hear the minister say that the environment and the economy go together. It has just become rote language. However, I want to show how it is now also window dressing.

The minister herself said, in debate on Bill C-57, that the bill “would shift focus in the Federal Sustainable Development Act from planning” to reporting results. If we are looking at reporting results when it comes to our environmental goals and sustainable development, what were the comments of Julie Gelfand in her first appearance at committee on Bill C-57, and later, her comments with respect to the government's environmental plan?

If we are trying to say reporting results is what the government wants through this legislation, what did the Commissioner for Sustainable Development report on the government's progress on the environment? Here is her report on results:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions contained in this plan had yet to be implemented.

She went on to confirm that the government “did not make progress” with respect to any of its greenhouse gas emission targets. This is another case of the Liberals talking a very good game—whether in legislation, whether in debate outside of the chamber—but if we look at results, which is what the minister wants the bill to do for all departments of the federal government, we see they are failing. The commissioner actually reported a failing grade to the government.

If we combine that with the Auditor General's most recent report, which says that under this government there is basically no ability to implement projects, it should concern all Canadians. I know it concerns many of the civil servants who have had trouble getting paid and families having to help out their children, but it is a fundamental thing when the Auditor General in such strong language calls out the Liberals' inability to actually implement projects.

I hope the minister moves beyond the rhetoric of “the environment and the economy go together”, because we want to see results. Rhetoric we get enough of. We want to actually see some tangible results, and if Bill C-57 can do that, I am very happy that it will be part of our sustainable development discussion for the next number of years.

My final concern is the ideological creep that I see with the government, because in a similar fashion to Bill C-55 on the oceans act, this bill also creeps the precautionary principle into federal legislation. The old approach of the Conservative government enshrined the polluter pay model, and it is very obvious what that is: if there is an impact on our environment that is negative and it is clear who the polluter is, the polluter will pay to remediate that impact on our environment. The polluter pay principle is in this legislation, but Liberals are inserting the precautionary principle, and that is troubling because it is pseudoscience. The precautionary principle actually says, “Let us not wait until we have final scientific evidence to make public policy; let us just make it if we feel good.”

I will illustrate this with a quote. I know the front bench of the Liberal Party enjoyed their trip to see President Obama. They were downright giddy. What did Obama's chief scientific adviser say about the precautionary principle? He said that the precautionary principle, for all its rhetorical appeal, is deeply incoherent.

If we are talking about sustainable development and goals, we should be talking about science-based evidence. That was something the Liberals used to say in opposition a lot, but now in several pieces of federal legislation they are enshrining a policy principle that is not rooted in science. It is rooted in rhetorical appeal. It is rooted in feeling good. It is virtue-signalling, something we see every day from the government.

We should see a science-based approach. Whether it comes to sustainable development, our oceans, or marijuana, we should not be legislating and regulating because of an ideological view. While I support the goals of Bill C-57, it is this creeping barrage of Liberal ideology that they are secretly inserting into things. They have a condescension of the left that is troubling to people who have worked in the private sector, people who rely on science and evidence, as I do. Their attitude is that if we do not agree with them, we are somehow un-Canadian, or wrong, or as the Prime Minister says, we are being partisan. Is it partisan to ask for science before making decisions?

I would say in overall support that I am happy that there are elements to work together on, but I would like to alert Canadians to this ideological creep of the Liberal Party, which will set Canada back in the long term.

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 8:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to be joining the debate on Bill C-57, although I must agree with my Conservative colleagues that it is unfortunate to be doing it under the yoke of time allocation.

It is a strategy that the federal government seems to be employing quite a bit this week. I was having an exchange with the member for Perth—Wellington earlier today about this resembling a student who has missed the due date for his homework and has suddenly realized it is coming up and he had better rush things. We have been wasting time over February, March, April, and May, and now we are almost into June. If we look at the parliamentary calendar, we see that time is suddenly short, so the Liberals are feeling the need to engage in these draconian tactics to limit the ability of members to be here on behalf of their constituents. Every single one of these seats represents a unique geographic area of Canada, and the people of Canada deserve to have their voices and concerns raised in this House by the members who represent them.

That said, let us now turn to the bill before us, Bill C-57.

I want to compliment my friend and colleague, the member for the riding of Edmonton Strathcona. She has decades of experience in the field of environmental sustainability. When she speaks to our caucus or delivers speeches in this House or at committee, people listen, because they realize this member has the experience and the knowledge. Very rarely have I seen people contradict her, because they know that she is usually right. She has the experience to back it up.

I want to walk the House through a bit of the history of how we got to Bill C-57. We would have to go back to the spring of 2016, when the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development reviewed the current act. There is a mandate in the act that it has to be reviewed every certain number of years. I believe it is every three years. That is just to make sure that it is staying up to date with the changing nature of Canada, to see if we are meeting our goals or if anything needs to be tweaked, and to see if the government has been doing a good job in following the existing act. That is why it is important.

As a part of this review, the committee, as committees usually do, brought forth witnesses to testify with respect to the current act and present some recommendations for ideas for reform. Witnesses at the committee found the current act lacking in two important ways. First, unlike the definition of “sustainable development”, it focuses on environmental decision-making and ignores the social and economic pillars of sustainable development; second, the purpose is about transparency and accountability for environmental decision-making, rather than about advancing sustainable development. The committee agreed with those significant shortcomings and recommended that the act be amended to require the development of an effective federal strategy that will inspire, in equal measure, environmental, social, and economic advancement toward a better future, something I think that all members in this House can very much agree to.

The unfortunate thing with the bill before us, Bill C-57, is that it only partially addresses these deficiencies and recommendations. It is important to note that the updated law should reflect the broader UN sustainable development goals, which have been endorsed by Canada.

I want to list some key things that came about after that study, because when Bill C-57 made it to the committee, the Liberal government did not even listen to its own members of Parliament on that committee. It did not even listen to the recommendations that had come from the environment committee. That is a real shame, because suddenly we have Liberals recommending something, only to see their government completely ignore it. That action shows that the government is not committed to delivering on its commitments under the broad UN sustainable development goal to ensure the whole of government ensures that its laws and policies reflect environmental, social, and economic needs.

I want to drill down on that, because the member for Edmonton Strathcona really was faced with a Herculean task. Many of my colleagues who sit on committees know this. Since the NDP has just one spot on a 10-member committee, that one member does not have the luxury of teamwork with other MPs. The work often falls upon us, so when it comes to the amending stage of a bill, the clause-by-clause part of a bill, it is a pretty big task.

I can remember doing that last year at the justice committee when I was the justice critic for our party, especially when it came to Bill C-46. That was a gargantuan justice bill, and my staff and I were pretty busy on that.

Going back to the matter at hand, Bill C-57, almost all of the amendments by the member for Edmonton Strathcona at committee were based on three things: recommendations from the Commissioner of the Environment, recommendations from expert witness testimony at the committee, and recommendations from the committee itself.

She had three very good arguments behind her recommendations. What did the Liberal-dominated committee do? It voted down those amendments, flying in the face of the evidence. The government likes to pride itself on evidence-based decision-making. I have yet to hear a coherent answer from the government side as to why the Liberals did that to the amendments of the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona, when they knew she has years of experience and that her amendments were based on solid evidence. We have still not received any good reasons on that.

The House voted today, historically I might add, for Bill C-262, which was moved by my hon. colleague, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou. It was a historic moment for the House of Commons, because that private member's bill passed third reading and commits the federal government to ensuring that all laws are in compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

One of the amendments by the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona was to ensure that Bill C-57 actually included a reference to UNDRIP. However, that was voted down. Then the Liberals decided they would vote in favour of the bill that is now going to mandate adherence to UNDRIP. Canadians should try to work their way through the reasoning behind that. I am still having some problems doing it.

That said, UNDRIP has passed this House. It is going to the other place now. I wish senators well. I certainly hope they will look at the hard work we did here in the House of Commons that recognize that in 2018, we are at a place in this great country where we can no longer afford to play the role of a colonizer. We have to make sure that first nations in Canada are the full and equal partners they very much deserve to be. It is only when we make sure that all of our federal laws recognize that implicitly that we will be able to move beyond our past—never forgetting it, but moving beyond it—to a place where most people would like us to be.

I know that my time on this bill is short, so I just want to end with this. The day that the Minister of Environment moved time allocation on this bill was Tuesday, the very day the Liberal government announced it was purchasing the Kinder Morgan pipeline for $4.5 billion. That is just the price tag for the existing infrastructure. There is no word on the cost of expanding the pipeline. I just think that when the environment minister is moving to shut down debate on a bill that seeks to bring federal departments in compliance with sustainable development goals and yet buys a pipeline, which is infrastructure that rightly belongs in the 20th century, it makes a mockery of the government's real commitment to addressing climate change.

I would dearly like to know what federal department is going to be in control of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and how it can possibly justify its sustainable development when it is going to be operating something that makes a mockery of our climate change commitments.

This being 2018, with all of the evidence of climate change all around us, we certainly need this country to be taking a firm and strong direction in addressing climate change. I think everyone who looks to future generations knows that we owe them that at this moment in time.

I will conclude there. I have appreciated this opportunity to speak to Bill C-57. I welcome questions and comments from my colleagues and friends.

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 8:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is true that we in the NDP do have different views on why this is a bad idea.

What I will say to workers in Alberta, my brother being one of them involved in the industry, is that stopping the Kinder Morgan expansion will not stop the oil sands from working right now, and no one in the House wants that.

Furthermore, Kinder Morgan was devised at a time when oil prices were around $100 a barrel. It is exporting diluted bitumen, which is the rawest form of the product, and we are not getting any value for this. If we want our oil industry to be sustainable, then we should sell it for the most value possible, not bargain basement prices.

If we are going to talk about Canada's energy security as a country, it does not involve building a pipeline that will direct exports to China. This will not in any way lead to Canada's energy security. That makes a mockery of the government's sustainable development goals, especially in light of Bill C-57.

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 8:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate in this late hour on Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Of course, as other members have said, including the member for Abbotsford, we will be supporting this piece of legislation.

In preparing for the debate, I went through past commentary by other members, including the member for Abbotsford, and really, what else is there to add? He went over every single point and report that rebutted many of the talking points the Liberal government has put forward in defending its environmental record and so-called achievements. They are achievements in name, mostly. He went through it very well, so there is really nothing more I can contribute in illuminating the debate in that sense.

However, there is one part of it that I do want to delve into and spend more time on. It is the part where the member for Abbotsford referenced a report, which, in his words, “is supposed to marry the environment and the economy”. He questioned why the government had completely forgotten about the economic component. He said it was unbelievable, and I agree with him.

We have heard time and time again in the House this metaphor alluding to the economy and the environment going hand in hand. All I have seen so far is posturing by the Liberals when it comes to the environment, and very little focus on the economy. We have seen over the past two and a half years one thing happen, and one thing only, which is this two-handed concept. Why are both of those hands in my pockets? Both hands are in the pockets of taxpayers.

On one side are carbon taxes. On one side is a higher cost of living, so-called, to pay for environmental reasons and environmental targets, so-called. At the end of the day, it is always about more revenue. On the other side are higher small business taxes, higher payroll taxes, or higher taxes period, across the board, with a higher cost of living for most Canadians today. Think tanks have said this. Independent reports have said this, and I am sure every single member of the House could attest to the fact that they have received emails, letters, and phone calls from constituents who are saying that the cost of living has gone up significantly.

Why are both of those hands, supposedly the economy and the environment, when managed by the federal government, the Ottawa Liberals, in the pockets of taxpayers? They are in our pockets. Everyone in Canada is paying more because of the government's decision-making. There are job losses in the energy sector.

I know that members hear all the time that Statistics Canada is saying that the job numbers are better. However, the comparison is being made between the loss of an engineering job paying maybe $150,000 to $200,000 in Calgary and then maybe a job working in retail for $50,000.

What about underemployment? It is something that Statistics Canada and stats in general have a very difficult time catching. I can give example after example in my own riding in Calgary, and even wider than the Calgary area, of individuals who have been impacted by the drastic slowdown in the energy sector, which was initially caused by lower prices, and then prolonged by bad government policy, both provincially and federally, making things far worse for far longer than they needed to be.

I have heard the debate in the House thus far on Bill C-57, including an exchange earlier today. Members know that I like Yiddish proverbs. One of them is “What you don't see with your eyes, don't invent with your tongue”. I see this happening on that side of the House all the time. They make it up as they go along.

This brings me to the next point, which I will spend some more time on. The Trans Mountain pipeline is the perfect example of this. Supposedly, in the name of getting it right and finding the right balance between the economy and the environment, the only way the Liberals can do this is by expropriating Kinder Morgan and forcing the company. It would have been one of the most profitable portions of the energy sector to transport the goods to the market. The Liberals made it unprofitable by getting in the way at every single junction, and by undermining the legitimate process by which a company, shareholders, and members of the public can arrive at a reasonable decision. They can disagree without being disagreeable through a regulator, define approval, and move the project forward.

Instead, with the encouragement of the federal government, the Liberals on that side, protesters, third-party groups, many foreign-funded, then went out and undermined the rule of law and the legal process by which the pipeline was approved. Now we have a situation.

The economy and the environment supposedly go hand in hand. However, both of the government's federal hands are now taking Kinder Morgan's pipeline. The Liberals are saying that in the name of getting it built, the only thing they can do, the only way we can get it done is by taking on 100% of the risk for $4.5 billion, and that is just to buy the old pipeline. Now we are talking about building the actual pipeline expansion itself.

However, the court proceedings will still go ahead. The obstruction of a provincial government will still continue. The obstruction of a legally-approved pipeline will continue to go ahead, because nothing has changed. We have seen it in the media, with quote after quote from protester leaders, from certain but not all indigenous groups, and from civic leaders who say they will continue to oppose it, that it makes no difference. However, now every one of us is on the hook for cost overruns, for cost failures, for potential strikes, for workers' health and safety, and for the extra spending to ensure they can work in a safe environment while they build this pipeline, even if it goes ahead.

This $4.5 billion that the Canadian taxpayer is giving to the shareholders of Kinder Morgan Canada is going to do what? It is going to go and finance competitor pipelines. The state of Texas will become the largest producer of oil in the world. I always joke about the state of Texas. I call it “Alberta Junior”. That is what it is to me in my heart. Texas calls us in the reverse. So many Canadians who worked in the energy sector in Calgary, Edmonton, and Fort McMurray are working there today.

Where was that focus on getting the environment and the economy right? Did that involve the brain drain, the escape, the exile, of tens of thousands of Canadian energy workers to Dallas and Houston? Was that the purpose? Is that how we get the balance right? The Liberals failed miserably, despite this legislation, which we will support.

As I mentioned, what our eyes do not see, do not invent with our tongues, but they are inventing. The Liberals are inventing a narrative that simply does not exist, because they do not have the balance right. They did not get it right with the economy and the environment. If they did, they would not be getting into the business of owning and operating a pipeline.

Seven thousand kilometres of pipeline has been cancelled under the Liberals' watch, not our watch. They are the ones who failed to achieve it. They are the ones who did not get it to move forward. However, now they will be able to build their own pipeline. The future health of the Alberta government's finances now rest in the hands of the federal government, which is a position I guarantee 90% of Albertans will be against.

We are adamantly against it, because we have seen this type of behaviour before, 40 years ago with the national energy plan. This is the second version of it, getting it wrong again. The Liberals do not know where to find the balance between the two. They will continue to back their allies in the environmental movement, the activists, and those who they continuously back in illegal activities because they need their help to win elections.

We will support this proposed legislation. However, on the continuous use of the environment and the economy go hand in hand, the Liberals actually have to live it and they have to do it. Buying pipelines, expropriating pipelines, is not the way to achieve it. We should never have been in the position where the taxpayer of Canada would have to be on the hook for up to $12 billion of new spending.

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 8:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, here we are in the House, on Wednesday, May 30, at 8:45. I should mention that that is 8:45 p.m., for the many residents of Beauport—Limoilou who I am sure are tuning in. To all my constituents, good evening.

We are debating this evening because the Liberal government tabled very few significant government bills over the winter. Instead, they tabled an astounding number of private members' bills on things like swallows' day and beauty month. Sometimes my colleagues and I can hardly help laughing at this pile of utterly trivial bills. I also think that this process of randomly selecting the members who get to table bills is a bit past its prime. Maybe it should be reviewed. At the same time, I understand that it is up to each member to decide what kind of bill is important to him or her.

The reason we have had to sit until midnight for two days now is that, as my colleague from Perth—Wellington said, the government has been acting like a typical university student over the past three months. That comparison is a bit ridiculous, but it is true. The government is behaving like those students who wait until the last minute to do their assignments and are still working on them at 3 a.m. the day before they are due because they were too busy partying all semester. Members know what I mean, even though that paints a rather stereotypical picture of students; most of them do not do things like that.

In short, we have a government that, at the end of the session, has realized that time is running out and that it only has three weeks left to pass some of its legislative measures, some of which are rather lengthy bills that are key to the government's legislative agenda. One has to wonder about that.

The Liberals believe these bills to be important. However, because of their lack of responsibility over the past three months, we were unable to debate these major bills that will make significant changes to our society. Take for example, Bill C-76, which has to do with the electoral reforms that the Liberals want to make to the voting system, the way we vote, protection of the vote, and identification. There is also Bill C-49 on transportation in Canada, a very lengthy bill that we have not had time to examine properly.

Today we are debating Bill C-57 on sustainable development. This is an important topic, but for the past three years I have been getting sick and tired of seeing the Liberal government act as though it has a monopoly on environmental righteousness. I searched online to get an accurate picture of the record of Mr. Harper's Conservative government from 2006 to 2015, and I came across some fascinating results. I want to share this information very honestly with the House and my Liberal colleagues so that they understand that even though we did not talk incessantly about the environment, we achieved some excellent concrete results.

I want to read a quote from www.mediaterre.org, a perfectly legitimate site:

Stephen Harper's Canadian government released its 2007 budget on March 19. The budget allocated $4.5 billion in new investments to some 20 environmental projects. These measures include a $2,000 rebate for all electronic-vehicle or alternative-fuel purchases, and the creation of a $1.5-billion EcoTrust program to help provinces reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Liberals often criticize us for talking about the environment, but we did take action. For example, we set targets. We proposed reducing emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Liberals even retained these same targets as part of the Paris agreement.

They said we had targets, but no plan. That is not true. Not only did we have the $1.5-billion ecotrust program, but we also had a plan that involved federal co-operation.

Allow me to quote the premier of Quebec at the time, Jean Charest, who was praising the plan that was going to help Quebec—his province, my province—meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets. Jean Charest and Mr. Harper issued a joint press release.

Mr. Harper said, “Canada's New Government is investing to protect Canadians from the consequences of climate change, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.” He was already recognizing it in 2007.

Mr. Charest said, “In June 2006, our government adopted its plan to combat climate change. This plan has been hailed as one of the finest in North America. With Ottawa contributing financially to this Quebec initiative, we will be able to achieve our objectives.”

It was Mr. Charest who said that in 2007, at a press conference with the prime minister.

I will continue to read the joint press release from the two governments, “As a result of this federal funding, the Government of Quebec has indicated that it will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalent below its anticipated 2012 level.”

What is more, the $1.5-billion ecotrust that was supposed to be allocated and was allocated to every province provided $339 million to Quebec alone. That was going to allow Quebec to engage in the following: investments to improve access to new technologies for the trucking sector; a program to develop renewable energy sources in rural regions; a pilot plant for production of cellulosic ethanol; promotion of geothermal heat pumps in the residential sector; support for technological research and innovation for the reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases. This is probably one of those programs that is helping us make our oil sands increasingly environmentally friendly by allowing us to capture the carbon that comes from converting the sands to oil. There are also measures for the capture of biogas from landfill sites, for waste treatment and energy recovery, and finally for Canada ecotrust.

I invite our Liberal colleagues to listen to what I am going to say. In 2007, Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace said the following: “We are pleased to see that after negotiating for more than a year, Quebec has finally obtained the money it needs to move towards meeting the Kyoto targets.”

Who made it possible for Quebec to move towards meeting its Kyoto objectives? It was the Harper government, a Conservative government, which established the $1.5-billion ecotrust fund in 2007 with monies from the budget surplus.

Not only did we have a plan to meet the targets we proposed, but this was also a plan that could only be implemented if the provinces agreed to the targets. It was a plan that was funded through the budget surplus, that did not further tax Canadians, and that provided money directly, without any conditions, other than the fundamental requirement that it had to help reduce climate change, which was philosophically important. Any and all measures taken to reach that goal were left entirely to the discretion of the provinces.

Mr. Harper, like a good Conservative who supported decentralization and like a true federalist leader, said that he was giving $400 million to each province so it could move forward with its plan.

By 2015, after 10 years of Conservative government, the country had not only weathered the worst economic crisis, the worst recession in history since the 1930s, but it had also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2% and increased the gross domestic product for all Canadians while lopping three points off the GST and lowering income taxes for families with two children by an average of $2,000 per year.

If that is not co-operative federalism, if those are not real results, if that is not a concrete environmental plan, then I do not know what is. Add to that the fact that we achieved royal assent for no less than 25 to 35 bills every session.

In contrast, during this session, in between being forced to grapple with scandals involving the carbon tax, illegal border crossings, and the Trans Mountain project, this government has barely managed to come up with four genuinely important bills.

By contrast, we expanded parks and protected Canada's wetlands. Our environmental record is exceptional.

Furthermore, we allowed debate. For example, we debated Bill C-23 on electoral reform for four days. The Liberals' electoral reform was debated for two hours.

I am sad, but I am happy to debate until midnight because debating is my passion.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

moved:

That in relation to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill; and

That, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at report stage and fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is great to hear that my hon. colleague is also a graduate of my alma mater. However, we clearly have a diversity of views coming out of that institution.

We are here to talk about Bill C-57. I can only surmise, based on the comments from the member opposite, that he supports Bill C-57, which I think is great. As I noted, it was supported by a vote of 244 to zero at second reading and was passed at committee.

We believe it is a very important step that we need in order to make sure that we make decisions about a sustainable future in Canada, focus on results, and increase the accountability of departments and agencies for setting and achieving ambitious sustainable development targets. The bill would modernize the Federal Sustainable Development Act and incorporate into legislation our government's strong focus on results. The bill also promotes close collaboration and coordinated action across government through a whole-of-government approach.

We are very pleased that we are moving forward on Bill C-57.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I can only surmise that the other party opposite supports Bill C-57.

Once again, we understand that the environment and the economy go together. We have one party that is not concerned about the environment and one party that is not concerned about the economy. However, we need to do both.

Bill C-57 is extremely important, to make sure that we look at sustainable development. We know that Canadians want a sustainable future for Canada. This bill would increase the focus on results and increase the number of departments that are reporting. It would also provide a whole-of-government approach and set a higher bar for sustainable development. We believe that this is a very important thing. This is a very good step, and I am very proud to support it.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I was not entirely sure where that question was going because the focus, of course, is on Bill C-57. I assume, once again, that the party opposite supports this important bill.

The proposed principles that we are looking at were guided by a number of factors. First of all, the very helpful input from the standing committee provided insights, which were clear on specific principles, and also on where improvements could be made. In addition, some of the principles are fundamental to sustainable development and are reflected in most major international initiatives, such as the Rio Declaration and the very important 2030 agenda for sustainable development, which are missing from the current act. We also identified principles whose inclusion, while absent from the current act, would codify several key elements of the intent of the act.

Overall, we understand that the principles make explicit many of the key principles of the Federal Sustainable Development Act, such as transparency, accountability, and public engagement.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for recognizing the work that the environment and sustainable development committee did on Bill C-57. We did a study and made some recommendations to the government, and I am really pleased to see that this bill captures the essence of those recommendations. I believe it is very strong legislation that responds to much of the testimony that we heard from Canadians.

I wonder if the minister would have a moment to provide a comment respecting the scope of Bill C-57. Could the minister perhaps give us an idea of how Bill C-57 would provide a whole-of-government approach? As well, I wonder if she could provide a comment on how the bill would apply to federal entities, because that is an important piece of the Federal Sustainable Development Act. If the minister could comment on the whole-of-government approach and federal entities, it would be appreciated.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, once again, we are here to talk about Bill C-57, an incredibly important piece of legislation. It responds to recommendations in the second report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. As I said, these were unanimous recommendations. It was great to see all parties come together to support the committee report.

Part of the recommendations would shift the focus in the Federal Sustainable Development Act from planning and reporting to results. This is extremely important. We want to see results. We need to show that government departments understand the importance of sustainable development.

As we look at what is going on in the world, we see that countries around the world have come together around the sustainable development goals in the 2030 agenda. It is very important that Canada show leadership, and that is exactly what we are doing through the bill.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-57 would amend the way in which designated federal entities develop their own sustainable development strategies.

The minister's government is now the proud owner of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. It has shelled out over $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money to this economically suspect project.

What I want to know from the minister is which federal entity is now going to be the proud manager of this project, and how on earth will that entity ever develop a sustainable development strategy when the Kinder Morgan project makes a mockery of our climate change commitments and presents a very real threat to the coastal environment of British Columbia upon which the B.C. economy depends?

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Once again, Madam Speaker, we are here to talk about Bill C-57.

Let me start by emphasizing that we understand that the environment and the economy go together and that we are committed to our international obligations.

Under the Federal Sustainable Development Act, we are focusing on our climate actions. We have shown leadership both internationally and at home. We know that we need to move to a low-carbon future, and that is why we have an all-of-government approach to this. The transition will not happen overnight.

The federal sustainable development strategy will be an important tool as we move forward. It will provide guidance and it will ensure that we have a whole-of-government approach, and that is extraordinarily important.

The good news is that I work with all ministers. I work with the Minister of Finance. I work with the Minister of Natural Resources. I work with the ministers responsible for working with indigenous peoples. We need to work together, and that is exactly our approach.

I am pleased that we are championing Bill C-57.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I have never heard anyone accuse me of wearing rose-tinted glasses. In fact, I live in the real world, where one has to make hard decisions about the environment and the economy.

I am very happy to talk about the federal sustainable development goals and the 2030 agenda. It is critical for the world that we move forward on the 2030 agenda, and that means that every country needs to do its part and that we need to do our hard work at home. We need to look at how we advance the federal sustainable development goals. Bill C-57 plays a huge role in that effort. It is focused on how we implement our commitments to the environmental dimensions of the global sustainable development goals.

As I said, our government is committed to fully implementing the international sustainable development goals. We are working across government. We will be reporting on this. It is a really important piece. We are committed to making sure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed and prosper in our country.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, again, as the government goes ahead with purchasing a private pipeline, we are limiting debate and discussion on Bill C-57 on sustainable development. It makes a mockery of many things. The sheer notion in the speaking points that the Liberals are the only ones who understand that the economy and the environment go together is such a childish approach to such a serious matter. We understand that sustainable development and the economy have always been integrated in terms of what we want to see for progress and for research and development.

How can the minister come here today and profess that Bill C-57 and the efforts that they are making are not undermined by her own cabinet and herself?

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I would hardly say it is a childish approach to acknowledge that in the 21st century, the environment and the economy do go together. That is the reality.

We are here to talk about Bill C-57. We believe it is extraordinarily important. We are very pleased that this bill is the result of the unanimous recommendation of the Commons environment committee. Once again, I would like to thank the committee for their extremely hard work. This was supported in a vote of 244 to zero at second reading. It was passed at committee, and all parties have indicated their continued support for Bill C-57. I certainly hope the parties opposite will indicate their support today.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I am not entirely sure if that is an indication that the member opposite supports Bill C-57.

Once again, this bill was the result of unanimous recommendations of the Commons environment committee. I believe the member opposite was part of that. It was supported by a vote of 244 to nothing at second reading. It was passed at committee, and all parties have indicated their continued support for Bill C-57. I certainly hope they continue to support it, because it is a very important piece of legislation. It is very important to the international community to see that we are committed to the environment.

We are committed to sustainable development, to the Paris Agreement, and to our international obligations. Sustainable development is also very important to Canadians at home. They understand that sustainable development is the way forward, that we need to be incorporating it when we make decisions, and that we need to be recognizing that the environment and the economy go together.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, maybe I was not clear. I actually did say “economy”. I said that the environment and economy go together, kind of like sustainable development goes together.

I do want to acknowledge that there are forest fires in Manitoba right now—certainly we are thinking of the people in Manitoba—and there have been floods. I also want to give a shout-out to the Premier of Manitoba, who stepped up and recognized that we need to be putting a price on pollution.

In terms of this bill, because of the comments related to it, I assume that the member supports Bill C-57, which is good. As I said, we had unanimous recommendations from the House of Commons environment committee, so I give a huge shout-out to the members of the committee. That is the way we need to be doing it. Action on the environment and sustainable development should not be a partisan issue. The bill was supported at second reading by a vote of 244 to zero and was passed at committee.

It is interesting today that I am speaking to this, because last night I hosted former ministers of the environment from the Conservative and Liberal sides. It was great to hear of their priorities in taking action on the environment and climate change. As I said, it is important that we come together in the House of Commons because, really, at the end of the day, we owe it to our kids: I owe it to my three kids; we owe it to our grandchildren and future generations.

Bill C-57—Time Allocation MotionFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I assume once again that the focus of our very important discussion today is Bill C-57. As I said, it was supported unanimously by the House of Commons environment committee in its report. It was supported by a vote of 244 to nothing at second reading. It was passed at committee. All parties have indicated their continued support for it. I appreciate that. It is important that we move forward to implement these changes. We need to focus on results. We need a better whole-of-government approach. We will now have more government departments covered and have included other changes that have come from the committee. This is a very important example of how we can come together to do important things that matter to Canadians. They care about sustainable development; Canadians have been clear about that. I am proud of this bill.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:40 a.m.
See context

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

I will describe how our government is taking action to ensure that a clean environment and a strong economy go together, including our support for the global 2030 agenda for sustainable development, and our work with provinces, territories, indigenous people, and international partners to address climate change.

I will go on to discuss how Bill C-57 would support our strong commitment to sustainability and how the proposed changes, including clause 5, would contribute to more effective, inclusive, and accountable sustainable development strategies in the future.

Bill C-57 is about advancing sustainable development in Canada. This is a top priority for our government. We have always maintained that a clean environment and a strong economy can and must go hand in hand in the modern world. The well-being of Canada's future generations depend on it.

We face serious challenges, including the continued threat of global climate change. Canadians are already experiencing the effects of a warming planet, from wildfires that rage longer and harsher than ever before to thinning sea ice in the Arctic to rising sea levels that threaten communities from coast to coast to coast.

Our federal sustainable development strategy demonstrates our commitment to the 2030 agenda, with 13 aspirational goals that are a Canadian reflection of the global sustainable development goals. Its specific medium-term targets, short-term milestones, and actions show how we will implement the 2030 agenda's environmental dimensions over a three-year period.

The amendments to the act would support future strategies that would continue to align the goals and reporting of the federal sustainable development strategy with the 2030 agenda, ensuring that Canadians could see a comprehensive picture of our sustainable development priorities and complementing national action to advance the 2030 agenda. This includes, crucially, amendments to clause 5, which seek to ensure that the federal government strategy reflects the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives in Canada.

We are taking effective action to realize our vision of a clean environment, a strong economy, and a better quality of life for all Canadians. Much is being done, but more progress is needed to meet the challenge of sustainable development and to take advantage of its opportunities.

Bill C-57 would make important improvements to the sustainability approach established by the 2008 Federal Sustainable Development Act, which requires the government to prepare and report on sustainable development strategies. It would make these strategies more effective, inclusive, and accountable, accelerating our progress toward a more sustainable Canada.

I would like to take this opportunity now to share the specific amendments proposed in Bill C-57.

First, the bill proposes a new purpose which clarifies that the focus of the act and the federal sustainable development strategy is sustainable development, not only the environment. It would shift the act's focus to driving action in improving Canadians' quality of life, not just planning and reporting. It would specify that the federal sustainable development strategy must respect Canada's domestic and international obligations. Bill C-57 would also add a number of principles to the act and guide our whole-of-government strategy and the strategies of each federal department and agency, for example, the principle of intergenerational equity, which is clearly at the root of the concept of sustainable development.

Under the current act, all departments or agencies must develop strategies that are consistent with and contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy. Bill C-57 would continue this dynamic as more than 90 federal government organizations would work together and act in a coordinated manner to achieve common goals.

The bill would also support our government's commitment to an inclusive approach to sustainability by strengthening the advisory council on sustainable development. Under clause 5, the number of aboriginal peoples on the council would be increased from three to six, and the council would have a clear mandate to advise on the issue of sustainable development. It also seeks to reflect the diversity of Canadian society by taking into account demographic considerations, such as age and gender, when appointing representatives to the sustainable development advisory council. This would increase the degree to which the council would reflect the diversity of Canadian society and increase transparency.

Finally, and most critical, it would strengthen the government's accountability for achieving concrete, meaningful, sustainable development results.

For the government to be held accountable, we need strong targets, targets that are measurable and include a clear time frame for their achievement. Bill C-57 proposes to ensure that future strategies will continue to clearly set out what the government aims to achieve and when. This will enable Canadians to closely track whether the government has met its commitments.

Taking into account these improvements, how will Bill C-57 support greater progress toward our vision for sustainable development in Canada? Quite simply, through better sustainable development strategies that focus on results and reflect the priorities of Canadians.

What does this mean in practice? It means that future strategies will continue to include goals and targets that will take into account that our efforts today will affect the quality of life of Canadians tomorrow. It means that ministers and organizations across the federal government, more than ever before, will contribute to developing sustainable development strategies, and will work together with our partners to put them into action. It also means that future strategies will benefit from a clear shared understanding of the breadth of actions that will contribute to achieving sustainable development, not only protecting the environment but also protecting health, promoting equity, and conserving cultural heritage.

Future strategies will also continue to benefit from engagement with indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians. We saw the importance of this in the development of the current federal sustainable development strategy. Comments received through public consultations helped make our plan more aspirational, more measurable, and more inclusive.

Bill C-57 is important and significant legislation that supports our government's strong commitment to sustainable development. It would improve all aspects of the government's sustainable development approach, from developing and consulting on our sustainable development strategies to implementing them to achieving and reporting on results.

I would like to once again thank the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their ideas, their commitment, and their collaboration. As I have described, their work has resulted in significant improvements to Bill C-57. With their contributions, the bill would provide a more effective and inclusive framework for advancing sustainable development in Canada.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, with respect to Bill C-57 and the provisions in it that require various federal departments to come up with their sustainable development plans and so forth and the fact that the Liberal government has now purchased the Kinder Morgan pipeline, I tried to get an answer to this from the Minister of Environment earlier. However, I would like to hear if the parliamentary secretary can help me out.

Under the provisions of Bill C-57, which federal department is now going to be responsible for the Kinder Morgan pipeline and how on earth is it going to provide a reasonable sustainable development strategy when this project's environmental concerns make a mockery of the government's climate change commitments?

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, regrettably, I disagree with my hon. colleague's characterization of this government's support and investment in the Trans Mountain pipeline. As our government and the Prime Minister have stated on numerous occasions, this pipeline is in the national interest. The reason it is in the national interest is that it will support thousands of jobs in Alberta and British Columbia and knock-on positive employment in many other provinces right across the country.

With respect to the member's specific question as to how Bill C-57 will promote the coordination of this project, and many other projects which will encourage sustainable development, as I said in my remarks, the bill fosters a whole-of-government approach. It will extend the coverage of the federal sustainable development from 26 to more than 90 departments and agencies so there is a coordinated approach to ensure the economy and the environment go together.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, without question, this is a government that believes in creating economic prosperity by growing the middle class. Our record on that is second to none. We have created hundreds of thousands of jobs since taking office. We have seen record unemployment since taking office. We will continue to drive that kind of growth from the middle class out by supporting projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Regrettably, on the other side of the aisle, what we see are two opposition parties that have been completely polarized by taking a singular approach, either by supporting the economy without giving consideration to the environment or vice versa.

This is a government that understands the importance of striking that balance. This project is in the national interest. It will drive jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, and it will ensure that we are protecting the environment by taking into consideration sustainability, which is at the core of what Bill C-57 would accomplish.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, that was more of a comment than a question, but I take the remark about the need to invest in renewable, green tech jobs as well as right across the sector.

It is thanks to the government's investments in green tech, in sustainable development, which Bill C-57 would attempt to accomplish, and will accomplish once passed into law, that we are seeing that job growth.

Let me specifically answer what I think was implied in this remarks. What Bill C-57 would do, among other things, is make decision-making more transparent. It would promote coordinated action across all of government. It would respect Canada's domestic and international obligations, including COP21.

That is how the government will ensure that the economy and the environment are balanced, will go together, and will be reconciled so that we can grow the economy for the middle class and continue to see our prosperity grow for future generations.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I want to focus on what federal departments and agencies are doing to build a more sustainable Canada. First, I will talk about how departmental action is supporting the government's vision for sustainable development. I will then talk about the concrete measures that departments and agencies are adopting as part of their own mandates, to ensure that Canada becomes greener and more sustainable. Lastly, I will talk briefly about how departments and agencies are fulfilling the shared commitment to lead by example by lowering the federal government's greenhouse gas emissions.

I would first like to explain how departments' actions fit into our overall sustainable development plan. In October 2016, we introduced the 2016-19 federal sustainable development strategy, which contains ambitious long-term objectives, medium-term objectives, and short-term objectives to support our vision for sustainability. We want to make Canada one of the greenest countries in the world where quality of life is continuously improving.

The strategy also includes action plans, major priorities for sustainability, and specific ways in which the government contributes to sustainable development outcomes, from working with partners on climate change, to investing in clean technologies, to protecting Canada's lands and oceans.

It is the strongest strategy ever. Introducing it in October 2016 was the very first step. Now our focus is on implementing it to achieve real results for Canadians. That means individual departments and agencies must take action to achieve our goals. Under the Federal Sustainable Development Act, 26 departments and agencies must prepare sustainable development strategies that have their own specific objectives and plans and that comply with and contribute to our overarching federal strategy.

Last October, our government met that requirement, tabling strategies for the 26 departments and agencies named in the act. We also introduced strategies for a number of organizations that are not bound by the act but have an important role to play in sustainable development, such as Infrastructure Canada, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Departmental strategies complement the high-level action plans presented in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. They add substance and detail to our plan, setting out the concrete commitments that will help us realize our sustainable development vision.

Moving from an aspirational, high-level strategy to specific commitments is an important accomplishment, and I want to thank and congratulate all of my colleagues who are working to implement the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. With their diverse mandates, each department and agency has its own unique role to play.

I want to stress that reducing the government’s own environmental footprint is just one part of our strategy, and most departments are going far beyond greening their operations.

Sustainable development is also broader than the environment alone, and our departmental strategies reflect this. Environmentally focused organizations like Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada make important contributions to implementing our strategy.

The same goes for departments with strong social and economic mandates, such as Health Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

I would now like to talk specifically about a few of the actions these departments are taking to support our government's sustainable development goals. Several departments and federal organizations are contributing to our federal strategy goal of effective action on climate change, one of the most pressing challenges of our time.

Here are just a few of the actions they are taking. Environment and Climate Change Canada is working to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity units and advancing the use of carbon pricing. Global Affairs Canada is delivering on Canada's pledge to provide $2.65 billion in climate-financing to support developing countries' transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient economies. Also, Natural Resources Canada is leading Canada's climate change adaptation platform, a national forum that brings together key groups in Canada to collaborate on climate change adaptation priorities.

Protecting and enhancing Canada's ecosystems is also essential to meeting the goals and targets of the federal sustainable development strategy and realizing our vision of a greener Canada. Eight organizations contribute to our goal of lands and forests that support biodiversity and provide a variety of ecosystem services for generations to come. Six of those organizations contribute to ensuring that coasts and oceans support healthy, resilient, and productive ecosystems, while four ensure clean and healthy lakes and rivers that support economic prosperity and the well-being of Canadians.

I see that I do not have much time left, but I feel it is very important to emphasize that sustainable development is also about generating clean economic growth, harnessing innovation and investing in clean technology. That means Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has an important role in implementing the federal sustainable development strategy. I want to highlight a priority that all departments and agencies share. When we tabled the 2016-2019 federal sustainable development strategy, we committed to leading by example by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our own operations, to reducing federal emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by 2030 or earlier. We recently announced an ambitious new target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. All departments and agencies are taking action to increase the energy efficiency of their buildings, modernize their fleets, implement green procurement and sustainable travel practices, and increase their resilience to climate change.

In conclusion, as I have described, our government moved from intention to action by tabling departmental sustainable development strategies. These strategies demonstrate our government's whole-of-government approach. Bill C-57 will build our whole-of-government approach by applying the Federal Sustainable Development Act to more than 90 federal organizations, ensuring that they contribute to developing the strategy and its progress reports and requiring them to report annually on results. We look forward to reporting back to Canadians and parliamentarians on our sustainable development commitments. We also look forward to continuing to advance sustainability under the federal sustainable development strategy.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-57, the clean growth strategy that the government is bringing forward to the House. I am also pleased to join my colleagues on this side of the House to give support to the bill and I look forward to its passage, after second reading being 244 to zero and after the unanimous decision at committee level.

Our government is committed to protecting the environment, as well as building a clean growth strategy that benefits the middle class and every part of the Canadian economy. Canadians want an ambitious action plan on climate change, at the same time as economic growth and ensuring a good future for our children and our grandchildren. This is a huge opportunity, and we are extremely excited about this nation's future.

If we look at countries around the world, including Canada, we see that many have come to the same conclusions as we have here today. In China, it is estimated that by 2040, the cost of generating electricity from new solar cells will be lower than the projected operating costs of existing coal-fired power plants. In 2017, Germany generated 36% of its electricity with clean energy. Last year, our southern neighbours saw solar and wind industries create jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. In fact, they have twice as many solar jobs as coal jobs. Finally, here in our great nation, wind energy in Prince Edward Island reduces its need for energy from outside the province. P.E.I. has no sources of oil, natural gas, or other fuels for traditional forms of electricity.

As the world's economies are shifting toward cleaner and more sustainable growth, it is essential that Canada remain competitive on the world stage.

Sustainable development includes supporting people and the nation toward a cleaner economy, which will help position Canada to take advantage of opportunities in the new global economy by diversifying our economy and opening up access to new marks while reducing emissions and generating good jobs for all Canadians.

Sustainable development includes clean technologies, which are a key component of our government's approach to promoting sustainable economic growth. I want to emphasize the word “sustainable”. It is not just about economic growth, but economic growth that is done right and sustainably.

Among many things, sustainable development means tackling climate change. Canada was one of almost 200 countries that committed to the Paris Agreement. We agreed to take steps to support the transition to a low-carbon economy and limit the global temperature increase to less than 2° Celsius.

Together with our provincial and territorial partners, we developed a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, which includes our approach to pricing carbon pollution and measures to achieve reductions across all sectors of our economy. We see carbon pricing as a key driver for technological innovation and helping Canada to transition to a low-carbon economy, because a carbon price creates a continuous incentive to develop innovative and inexpensive ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A transition to a lower-carbon future will also require the involvement of the private sector to help increase the supply from alternative sources of energy, meet increasing demands while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, leverage investments in clean energy, improve energy interconnection, and ensure a smooth transition as Canada reduces its reliance on coal.

Our goal is to make Canada a world leader in green technology and clean innovation. That is where the future lies: the knowledge economy, where Canadians are applying their talents to solve collective challenges that face each and every one of us throughout this great nation.

Let me remind my hon. colleagues about some important steps this government has taken to encourage and support clean technology in Canada.

In 2016, more than $1 billion was announced for such things as support for research and development; the deployment of infrastructure for alternative transportation fuels, including charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and natural gas and hydrogen refuelling stations; tax incentives for the generation of clean energy; and, finally, new money for Canada research chairs at Canada's leading universities.

In 2016, environmental and clean technology activities accounted for 3.1% of Canada's gross domestic product, or $59.3 billion. In terms of employment, an estimated 274,000 jobs were attributed to environmental and clean technology activity in 2016 alone. These jobs represent 1.5% of jobs in the Canadian economy, which is 4.5% higher than in 2007.

The two largest components of the environmental and clean technology gross domestic product are clean electricity, at 43%, and waste management, at 12%. In 2017, we continued the support for clean technology by announcing almost $1.4 billion in new financing to be made available to help Canada's clean technology firms grow and expand. We also announced our plan to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, which are a barrier to investment in clean energy.

More recently, we announced historic investments, including the low-carbon economy fund and the investing in Canada plan, which support projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and generating clean growth. Building on these commitments, budget 2018 focused on enhancing the role of federal science for the public good by proposing $2.8 billion to renew federal laboratories. These investments contribute, in part, to achieving Canada's pledge to double funding for clean energy deployment from $387 million in fiscal year 2014-15 to $775 million in 2020. In fiscal year 2015-16 alone, we increased clean energy research and development funding by 24% over the previous year.

I look forward to members of the House supporting this legislation. As I stated, 244 members of the House voted unanimously to move forward to third reading, and there was a unanimous decision to move forward to third reading from the committee. I am more than happy to take questions from the opposition, as well as from the third party.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague always speaks very passionately about infrastructure projects. I had the opportunity to work with him on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, where we had some good discussions.

He said that he likes working with the municipalities and other levels of government, but I am wondering what he thinks about the government's decision not to work with all of the parties in the House on Bill C-57 and to move a motion to cut members' speaking time on a file where the input and opinions of everyone in the House are very important. It is true that the environment and the economy go hand in hand, but at the same time, we all have the right to speak.

Does he think that muzzling opposition members with regard to Bill C-57 is what co-operation is all about?

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-57. This bill is a mixed bag, in that does not go far enough and fails to consider several elements included in MP John Godfrey's original bill from 2007, which was subsequently watered down.

Once again, the work is only half done, as the bill did not consider the recommendations of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. It did not even consider the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, which wanted to go much further on certain issues, especially creation. Back in 2007, it was Mr. Godfrey's idea to create a real environment commissioner position that would be independent of the Auditor General's office and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Now, some kind of office of sustainable development is going to be created within Environment and Climate Change Canada. I doubt that office will be able to give good advice, because it is like making the inspector part of the company he or she is supposed to inspect. I do not quite see how that would work. Once again, we see another so-called solution that does not really get to the root of the problem. The government is not making the bravest and most useful decisions possible.

I will come back to Bill C-57 in a few minutes because it is basically a bill that refers to the environment, sustainable development, and the United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals, which we are far from meeting. I will come back to that when I speak about the report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which was tabled recently.

I will take this opportunity to point out what a mind-boggling day this has been. I do not understand this shocking and unexpected news: the Liberal government has decided to become the owner of a pipeline that will transport an extremely dangerous substance. If there is a spill on the Pacific coast, it will be extremely difficult to clean up because this substance sinks rather than floats like many other substances derived from fossil fuels.

During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada said that by voting Liberal we would be voting for real change: Canada would be back on the international scene, the Liberals would champion the fight against climate change, and they would turn the page on the dark days of the Harper and Conservative regime. However, the Liberal Party is going further than Stephen Harper dared to go. The Conservatives never purchased a pipeline. That was not in the Liberal platform and the Liberals did not say one word about it in 2015. Unless I am mistaken, I did not hear the Prime Minister say, during the election campaign, that if we voted for him, he would take $4.5 billion of our money and buy a pipeline.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-57 would basically mandate that various federal departments come up with sustainability plans, and it would extend the reach. I have tried to ask the Liberal government on a couple of occasions which particular federal department is now going to be in charge of Kinder Morgan, and how on earth that federal department is going to be able to release a sustainable plan that will bear the scrutiny of scientific consensus.

Despite the way our planet is going and despite this being 2018, we are investing in expanding a diluted bitumen pipeline and not even getting the value out of the product, as my colleague mentioned in his speech. We are going after bottom-barrel, basement prices. We are not looking toward the future.

I would like my friend to comment on the Liberals' plan of action and how, with all of the evidence out there, this project flies in the face of sustainability and flies in the face of what Bill C-57 purports to do.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to address my hon. colleagues here in the House today. I would like to speak about the principles of sustainable development and Bill C-57 and how those will help advance the government's commitment to a clean environment and a strong economy.

Let me start with a bit of history. In 1993, the General Assembly of the United Nations established the World Commission on Environment and Development, which was chaired by then Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. In 1987, the commission published Our Common Future, known as the Brundtland report. The report put sustainable development on the global agenda. It also coined and defined its meaning, as follows:

Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

That is often referred to as the standard definition of “sustainable development”, and indeed, that is how sustainable development is defined in our current Federal Sustainable Development Act.

The Brundtland report paved the way for an unprecedented 1992 United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro, better known as the Earth Summit. I want to make a special point of noting that it was the late Maurice Strong, a distinguished Canadian, who led the organization of that event.

The Earth Summit brought together more countries and heads of state than any previous event. It established enduring and lasting mechanisms for international co-operation, following through on Gro Harlem Brundtland's vision of a sustainable future.

Among these important agreements were the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the development of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Canada was there. We supported the 1992 Rio declaration, and we have championed sustainable development since that time.

In 1995, following Rio, Canada became one of the first countries in the world to create a commissioner for sustainable development. Since 1997, government departments have been required to produce sustainable development strategies, in compliance with the 1995 amendments to the Auditor General Act.

In 2008, under the leadership of the Hon. John Godfrey, his private member's bill, Bill C-474, passed and became law as the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The act provides a legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy every three years. It also requires 26 departments and agencies to prepare their own sustainable development strategies that comply with and contribute to the federal strategy.

Let us move forward to 2015, which was a watershed year for sustainable development globally. In September, Canada was among 193 countries to adopt the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The 2030 agenda set out a global framework of action for people, the planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership, with the ultimate goal of eradicating poverty and ensuring that no one is left behind. The 17 sustainable development goals and their 169 associated targets built on the previous millennium development goals. They were universally applicable and fully integrated social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Just a few months later, in December of 2015, Canada was among the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which adopted the historic Paris agreement.

The Federal Sustainable Development Act is part of a legacy that began with the Brundtland report and the Earth Summit and that is still relevant today as we advance the government's commitment to a clean environment and a strong economy. It provides the framework to develop and implement the federal sustainable development strategy, a guide to the Government of Canada's environmental sustainability priorities.

The most recent strategy for the period from 2016 to 2019 was tabled in the House on October 6, 2016. It sets out 13 long-term aspirational goals. In response to a recommendation of the standing committee, the strategy's goals are Canada's reflection of the United Nations' sustainable development goals, with a focus on the environmental dimensions.

We are continuing to move forward to improve what we are already doing. Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, seeks to strengthen our commitment to sustainable development, further building on the Brundtland Report and Rio as well as on the 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals and the Paris agreement.

As in the past, principles have been the foundation of all our sustainable development commitments, and today I would like to take a few minutes to tell my colleagues about the principles we are proposing in Bill C-57, principles our government believes will strengthen the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I also want to acknowledge the important work of our colleagues on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, who, in their June 2016 report on the Federal Sustainable Development Act, highlighted the importance of modernizing our sustainable development principles.

Bill C-57 proposes to include the principles of intergenerational equity, polluter pays, internalization of costs, openness and transparency, involving indigenous people, collaboration, and results and delivery.

The principle of intergenerational equity is the essence of sustainable development. It is the recognition that the decisions we make are not just about today and about us but about the future and those who will be here after us.

The principles of polluter pays and the internalization of costs reflect our understanding that we need to move beyond conventional ways of thinking. To be sustainable, economic growth must take into account the damages imposed on the environment. Polluter pays means that those who generate pollution must bear the cost. Internalization of costs means that goods and services should reflect all costs they generate for society, from their design to consumption to final disposal.

The principles of openness and transparency are intertwined with the purpose of the Federal Sustainable Development Act to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.

From the very first day we took office, our government has been committed to a renewed relationship with indigenous people based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. We are working to correct the injustices that have persisted and have contributed to an unacceptable socio-economic gap. That is why we are involving indigenous people. We want to underscore that this commitment is supported by important provisions in the proposed act to increase the number of indigenous representatives on the Sustainable Development Advisory Council to better reflect the breadth of indigenous groups represented and the challenges they face here in Canada.

The principle of collaboration emphasizes the role parties must play to achieve sustainable development. We need to work together.

Last, the principle of results and delivery is about making sure that we get there. We need to ensure that we have the right objectives and strategies to meet all the goals, but we also need good indicators to measure progress and make sure that we report on the progress in a way people can understand and be proud of.

The principles set out in Bill C-57 reaffirm that we are up to the challenge before us. We are ready to seize the opportunities before us and to be bold. Sustainable development means growing a diversified, low-carbon economy while reducing emissions and generating good-quality jobs for Canadians.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, we can look at Bill C-57 and the role Canada has to play in its leadership around sustainable development. Over the last couple of years, we have actively worked toward that.

As I said in my previous comments, our government introduced the Canada child benefit, which moves hundreds of thousands of kids out of poverty and reduces hunger. It meets the first two goals of sustainable development, or tries to achieve some of that.

With respect to gender equality, our government has taken a whole-of-government approach. We see it in our G7 presidency. We are taking a leadership role not just on what we do domestically. Women and girls are the centre of our feminist international assistance policy.

This legislation is an ongoing and continuous focus on ensuring Canada is a leader in achieving sustainable development goals both here and around the world.

Report StageFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 1:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support Bill C-57, which seeks to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Before I begin, I would like to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their excellent work, their positive approach, and their constructive suggestions. The committee's recommendations, which are set out in the report entitled “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”, contributed to the development of Bill C-57, particularly with regard to the adoption of the sustainable development principles. Those principles were very well received.

The amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act reaffirm the government's ongoing commitment to strengthening Canada's relationship with indigenous people and enforcing their rights.

Bill C-57 includes a new set of sustainable development principles, one of which is the principle whereby indigenous people must be asked to contribute because of their traditional knowledge and their unique connection with and understanding of Canada's land and water. This principle reflects the important role traditional knowledge plays in supporting sustainable development, as well as the government's commitment to reconciliation based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

However, there are certain environmental problems that disproportionately affect indigenous peoples. For example, climate change and resource development alter wildlife migration patterns and ranges. These changes have an impact on indigenous peoples' access to traditional food sources, as well as on their food security and culture.

Furthermore, persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals can migrate long distances to northern Canada. Scientists have observed high levels of these contaminants in Arctic wildlife, so there is a health risk for indigenous peoples who use these animals as a food source.

Indigenous peoples' relationship to the land is particularly crucial to the mandate of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, because her department is responsible for preserving, protecting, and improving the quality of the natural environment. At the same time, the government recognizes that indigenous peoples were the original stewards of the air, land, and water. Over many generations, they built up a vast store of knowledge about nature. That is why it is essential to continue to establish and maintain strong, positive relationships with indigenous communities and indigenous governing bodies. In the coming years, the government will continue to make use of all that knowledge, which is going to help shape our collective environmental future.

The Government of Canada committed to renewing the crown's relationship with indigenous people based on the recognition of their rights. We believe that adapting our work based on the recognition of rights is an important opportunity for us to build a relationship of trust with our indigenous partners; enhance the integrity of policies, research, and analysis; and obtain better environmental outcomes for all Canadians.

As part of our participation in the negotiation of various treaties and other conventions, we are working with indigenous partners to preserve and protect our wildlife and environmental resources. We are striving to implement transparent and rigorous consultation processes based on respect for the right of indigenous people to determine how land and resources will be used.

The government recognizes that there is still a lot of work to be done in this regard. We need to assess our contribution to the government's reconciliation agenda, including the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, on an ongoing basis.

We must also strengthen our commitment to our indigenous partners and look at opportunities for aligning programs, policies, and departmental rules and regulations with indigenous rights and interests. Like every federal department and agency, Environment and Climate Change Canada operates on the Principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples, drafted by the Department of Justice to be used a guideline in shaping the work of the department in its relations with the indigenous peoples, including a rights-based approach.

At the heart of this change in culture and path to reconciliation is the recognition of the importance of our relationships with indigenous peoples. Consulting indigenous peoples is more than just a legal obligation, it is a way to make more informed decisions. Our government is determined to ensure that indigenous peoples have the opportunity to participate in, engage in, and contribute to this ongoing dialogue.

For the reasons I just mentioned, Environment and Climate Change Canada consults representative organizations and the governments of the first nations, the Inuit, and the Métis across the country. When the proposed changes were being drafted, indigenous peoples raised a few key themes. They told us that traditional indigenous knowledge is important for sustainable development and that indigenous peoples need to be heavily involved. They also mentioned that the government should implement measures that reflect respect for indigenous rights as a priority and recognize the role of governments in indigenous communities and societies.

The representative organizations and governments of the first nations, the Inuit, and the Métis also expressed the need to provide support to indigenous communities for activities such as implementing climate change adaptation plans and modernizing infrastructure. They also indicated that we need to set more ambitious objectives when it comes to the quality of drinking water for first nations.

The federal sustainable development strategy, which we introduced in October 2016, reflects what we heard. For example, we know that Canada's drinking water is among the safest in the world. In fact, 98% of Canadians have access to drinking water. However, access to drinking water remains a challenge in first nations communities living on reserve. The strategy contains a target to eliminate long-term drinking water advisories affecting public systems on reserve.

The Government of Canada is working with first nations communities to improve on-reserve water infrastructure, address drinking water advisories that are one or more years old, and prevent short-term advisories from becoming long-term ones.

All Canadians, including all levels of government, indigenous peoples, civil society, and the private sector have a role to play in advancing our sustainable development objectives and ensuring that no one is left behind. In 2016, our government undertook an extensive consultation process to review our international aid policy.

We also heard from indigenous peoples who want more say on environmental issues. Our bill proposes increasing the number of representatives of aboriginal peoples on the Sustainable Development Advisory Council from three to six, to ensure that the strategy reflects the rights and perspectives of indigenous peoples and the wide range of challenges they face across Canada.

Bill C-57 reflects what we heard from indigenous peoples. It also reflects the government's commitment to reconciliation based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Pierrefonds—Dollard for his remarks earlier on Bill C-57.

This morning's announcement casts a pall over this bill to strengthen sustainable development laws. The government announced that it is prepared to spend $4.7 billion to help a Texas company transport Alberta oil west to Asian markets.

The government, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Finance are ready to write a cheque for at least $4.5 billion to transport Alberta crude oil west to Asian markets. That oil will make its way to refineries in those markets by oil tanker.

My question for my colleague is a simple one. How can he justify talking about sustainable development today when his government is doing the opposite?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 1:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will make the most of this opportunity. I was going to talk about something, but I will come back to it right after question period.

The recent exchange I just witnessed between my Liberal colleagues leads me to speak about another aspect of the issue before us today, namely the hypocrisy on this side that they claim to condemn.

I want to remind the House of something. Very recently, in his commencement speech before New York University grads at the iconic Yankee Stadium, the Prime Minister of Canada asked 10,000 young men and women to respect people who look or think differently and engage with people with whom they may not agree. What does this government do instead? It imposes a time allocation motion on an issue as important and Bill C-57. He says one thing on the world stage and does the opposite here in Ottawa. After that, the Liberals have the nerve to lecture us, to tell us what to do, what to say, what not to say, because that would be playing partisan politics.

In closing, before question period, the only partisan politics here are happening on the other side of the House.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedExtension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the member for Abbotsford would stand up in this place, because he was at the committee when it was debating Bill C-57, and he chose to advance an amendment that members on this side of the House worked hard to find a way to support. They actually fought for that amendment. Not only did they fight for that amendment, but they supported it. When that legislation returned to the House, the very same member, the member for Abbotsford, who moved the amendment and got support from the Liberal government at committee, chose to come to this place and exactly undo that amendment.

My parents always told me when I was growing up that one has to look at where it is coming from. When I hear comments from that member, I am reminded of the Harper government and the nonsense the Conservatives played in the House to take away from democracy.

We will not take lessons from the Conservatives.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, since this is my first opportunity to rise in the House since the announcement of a rail bypass in Lac-Mégantic, I think my colleagues will allow me to say a few words about this very important project that was recently announced by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Quebec. This project was highly anticipated by the people of Lac-Mégantic.

On the Lac-Mégantic bypass file, I saw parliamentarians come together to work for a cause, to help the local population of Lac-Mégantic, which truly needed parliamentarians to send a message to the government and for that message to be heard by the government.

It was a long haul. We had to ensure that every parliamentarian from all the parties agreed because we were creating a precedent in Lac-Mégantic. This is something that had never been seen before anywhere. To all those who ask why we created a precedent in Lac-Mégantic, I say that something unprecedented happened in Lac-Mégantic. There was an absolutely disastrous tragedy that is still being felt today by the local population.

I must say that the people of Lac-Mégantic, who have been waiting for this announcement for quite some time, are obviously very pleased. I want to acknowledge the support of parliamentarians, especially the members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, who travelled to Lac-Mégantic to hear from residents. That is where we began discussing this very important file among us, among parliamentarians from the various political parties. After that, the leaders of all the parties came out in favour of the bypass.

I must say that every time I had an opportunity to speak with a colleague, whether on the government side, from the second opposition party, or one of the independent members, I always sensed a great deal of compassion and openness with respect to this project.

I really want to thank everyone who opened their eyes, their ears, and their hearts to the people of Lac-Mégantic, for now we can finally start to look to the future. Now we can finally make sure that everyone in Lac-Mégantic who was directly or indirectly affected by this tragedy, whether it was themselves, their family, a friend, a parent, or a loved one, they can now start saying that they are finally rebuilding for the future.

The last few years have been spent demolishing and cleaning up the old downtown core. The rebuilding process has begun, but the whistling trains that roll through several times a day were a constant reminder of the tragedy.

Again, I want to thank all the parliamentarians who helped make this announcement possible. I want to thank former mayor Colette Roy Laroche, the mayor who was in office during the first years of my term, Jean-Guy Cloutier, and the current mayor, the very energetic Julie Morin, who knew just how to seize her opportunities and pick the right time to speak to the Minister of Transport and the Prime Minister, for making this announcement possible. There are many residents I also want to thank, like the reeve, Marielle Fecteau, who also worked very hard on this.

Again, this project was only made possible because all parliamentarians came together and co-operated to finally give some meaning to this tragedy and help the people of Lac-Mégantic get closure.

However, the real work is just beginning. This is where Bill C-57 comes in. Now, it is time to work on compensation, the environment, and the best way forward to minimize possible consequences for the people who will be getting this bypass. I am certain that we will again be able to do this work in a fair and prudent manner so that this project goes as smoothly as the other one did. Again, I thank all parliamentarians. This really showed the good side of our Parliament.

Now I want to come back to Bill C-57 and to everything that happened today with this bill. That is the not-so-good side of Parliament. Obviously, I do not just have praise to offer. There are some things that are good and some that are less good.

I was quite surprised today when the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons said one thing and did exactly the opposite not once, not twice, but three times.

Allow me to quote something the government House leader said: “There are a lot of bills to debate and, since we know that the opposition members want to participate in those debates, we are going to extend the sitting hours so that everyone can participate and work harder for Canadians.”

A little later, while answering questions, she said: “...we see that the hon. members across the way want to play games in the House and in committee. It is their choice, but we want to work very hard for Canadians. That is our way of doing things.”

What is their way of doing things? Today, they imposed three time allocation motions. Those three motions will limit parliamentarians' participation in the very important work of the House. How can anyone say something so many times yet do the opposite? Here is another quote from the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons:

“We know at this of the year most governments have extended hours so that we can do more work to ensure that we are representing Canadians and advancing good bills. This will provide an opportunity for more members to be part of an important debate to ensure that the voices of their constituents are heard right here as it is the House of the people.”

Then, they moved three motions to prevent opposition members from speaking. They did it three times. Here is another quote:

“This will provide an opportunity for more members to be part of an important debate...”

The government did the complete opposite today. We have been called in here three times to vote on the government's time allocation motions. This goes against the spirit of mutual understanding that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons repeated as often as she could during the period for questions on Motion No. 22. Bill C-57 is one of the victims of this government's desire to limit speeches by opposition members.

The government is extending the sitting hours, but at the same time it is allocating fewer hours of debate. It says one thing, but ultimately, it will not be giving opposition members more opportunities to speak. I have another fine quote from the Leader of the government in the House of Commons. She said, “This is an opportunity to have more hours of debate in order to allow a greater number of hon. members to participate.” She continued as follows:

“Let us extend the hour, let us have more time to debate, so more members can have their voices heard. We can advance more legislation. It sounds like a win-win-win situation.”

Limiting the number of speeches and hours of debate, deciding how many members opposite will be allowed to speak, telling those who do not have time to speak that they must remain seated, and then moving on to another bill is not what I would call a win-win situation.

In summary, when parliamentarians are able to work together on a project like the one in Lac-Mégantic, that is good. Canadians want to see a lot more of that. However, when the government says one thing and does the opposite, as it did today, unfortunately, it is judged harshly by Canadians.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I believe that it is important to debate the sustainable development bill. However, it is very disappointing that even though we support this bill, not all the committee's recommendations will be implemented. I am a member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages and when we prepare reports we are disappointed by the response from the government after making our recommendations. It is the same old story with Bill C-57. The committee agreed on several recommendations and the government came up with a bill that does not respect the spirit of all those recommendations.

For example, witnesses mentioned that despite the definition of sustainable development, this bill only refers to the environmental decision-making process and there is no vision for the environmental and social aspects that are the main pillars of sustainable development.

Does my colleague believe, as I do, that the government should pay careful attention to committee reports, including the one on this bill?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to talk about the environment in the House of Commons. That is why I ran for politics, to defend the environment, to promote sustainable development. I remember it well. My wife Liliana and I were watching television and there were reports on the shale gas scandal at the time. My wife said that something needed to be done. I told her that she was right. We got involved and now I am in the House of Commons in the process of defending the environment and promoting sustainable development.

Bill C-57 before us now seeks to improve the sustainable development strategy; it is an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. We support this bill in principle, but we feel that the committee's recommendations should have been followed more closely. The government did not see the committee's recommendations through.

The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development studied the legislation currently in effect. Many of the witnesses who spoke at the committee mentioned the gaps in the law. First, contrary to the definition of sustainable development, the legislation talks about the decision-making process with regard to the environment, but not the economic and social dimensions of sustainable development. That was a problem we needed to correct and that was not done. Second, it targets transparency and accountability instead of progress on sustainable development and those are also aspects that were not corrected in the legislation. The committee acknowledged the existence of these major flaws, then recommended amending the legislation accordingly. Unfortunately, Bill C-57 does not correct these flaws and considers only some of the recommendations. It does not consider the entirety of the recommendations made by the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Once again, the Liberal Party unfortunately did not listen to its own members and refused to implement the recommendations received from the standing committee. Clearly, the government is not committed to honouring its commitments regarding the UN's general sustainable development goals, which include making sure that the government as a whole ensures that its laws and policies reflect environmental, social, and economic needs.

In that regard, it is rather ironic, in a negative sense, that we are debating sustainable development today, the same day that the Liberal government announced that it is buying the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. That company purchased the pipeline for $550 million, and the federal government is going to use $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money to buy it. That is outrageous. It is going to give that money to a company in Texas, so that money will be leaving Canada, not to mention that the government also gives $1.3 billion a year in fossil fuel subsidies to oil and gas companies. The Liberal government said that it would respect its commitment to Canada to eliminate those subsidies, but it did not do that. We in the NDP have been saying for quite some time that we will eliminate those subsidies. Those subsidies must be eliminated and that money must be invested instead in a just transition to a low-carbon economy, an economy based on renewable energy sources. That $4.5 billion would have been incredibly useful for developing renewable energy companies. As we know, the renewable energy sector is creating 10 times as many jobs as the fossil fuel sector.

Had the government done the right thing and invested that $4.5 billion in renewable energy, we would have created many more long-term jobs for now as well as for our children and grandchildren. That is another reason I am in politics. I want to leave our children and grandchildren a better world. Unfortunately, the Liberal government is making a mistake.

Buying a pipeline is not a step toward sustainable development; it is a step back. This is definitely not the right thing to do. It is a terrible idea, and I am certain Canadians will not accept it. The people will be very vocal in their opposition to buying the pipeline with taxpayer dollars. The Liberals certainly did not talk about this issue during the campaign.

Since we are talking about sustainable development, I would like to say a few words about what is going on in the Drummond region on that front. We have businesses in the renewable energy sector, in heat recovery, and in energy efficiency. Drummondville itself is fortunate to have a diversified economy and future-oriented businesses working in renewable energy and energy conservation. That is an important point to make. There are plenty of great businesses doing that in Drummond.

The City of Drummondville recently announced that it was going to establish a plan for sustainable mobility. I would like to thank John Husk, the municipal councillor for District 5 and chair of the Chantier sur le développement d’un plan de mobilité durable et le transport actif et collectif. That is a very good thing for Drummond because 85% of its citizens do not carpool. We have to fix that. Therefore it is a very good thing to have a plan for sustainable mobility.

What is meant by “sustainable mobility” in the vision that people want to develop for Drummondville? First, there is the economic component. Mobility must be efficient and foster economic vitality in trade corridors. Next, from the social point of view, it must be accessible to be good for the community, equitable, safe, and compatible with health. In terms of the environment, sustainable mobility limits the use of space and resources, is integrated into the environment, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. What I have just mentioned is the complete opposite of what the Liberal government is currently doing.

I now want to repeat an important point. Today is a sad day for Canada. The Liberal government announced that it will be diverting $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money to buy a pipeline that is worth just $550 million. The Liberals blindly spent this money on an obsolete energy source when we could have embraced the future and sustainable development. It just so happens that Bill C-57 is about sustainable development.

The government should have a vision and invest the $4.5 billion in the companies, like those in Drummond, working to improve energy efficiency, recover heat, and develop renewable energy, such as solar, wind and other energy. That is the Canada that we we want to leave our children and grandchildren.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 10:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to be speaking to this important piece of legislation about the environment and sustainability.

There is a saying in politics that 24 hours is a long time. In the last day, we have had some seminal events with respect to the way the government is operating in terms of the economy and the environment, and also, by the way, in terms of this chamber. We have had closure brought forward three times in one day. That has to be a record. Certainly, if the government continues at this pace, it will far surpass the record of any previous administration with respect to closure. Three times in one day is quite something. It shows that it has no interest in meaningful dialogue on the legislation it has put forward. In many cases, it is doing this on omnibus bills, very long pieces of legislation that include many varied and different elements. For instance, it just brought forward closure on a bill dealing with criminal justice, with many different elements in it. It includes, as my colleagues have pointed out, reducing sentences, yet it tries to justify it by saying that there is something over here in the bill we might like. That is precisely the point when we have this omnibus legislation. That is part of the context. We are at close to 11 o'clock tonight debating Bill C-57, having had three different instances of closure brought forward today.

Speaking of the environment and sustainability, which is the core theme of this legislation, we also had the government announce today that the only way it can get a pipeline built is if it first buys a pipeline that is over 60 years old, and if it is able to work out all the legal wrangling through the courts and with the B.C. government, it will then go ahead and spend billions more of taxpayers' money to build that pipeline. That is not fiscally sustainable. If the government wants to establish a precedent that any time major economic development projects happen they will only happen if it is spending enormous amounts of taxpayers' money, that is not a fiscally sustainable model of economic growth.

Our approach, in the Conservative Party, is to establish the conditions that allow for private sector economic development. Under the previous government, there were four pipelines built. A fifth pipeline was approved. We hear the bizarre criticism from the government that the Conservatives did not build any pipelines to tidewater. Let us be clear. Up until now, at least, it has not been the government that has built pipelines. The government has evaluated and approved pipelines, or had the option of not approving them. However, in our case, we approved pipelines that had been proposed by the private sector. That included approving a pipeline to tidewater as well as approving and overseeing the construction of four pipelines.

From an environmental perspective, I think we should be very supportive of the development of pipelines, because transporting our energy resources through pipelines is a more environmentally sustainable way of proceeding. It is less costly, actually, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, to be transporting our energy resources by pipeline. Therefore, it is a win-win. It is a win economically and a win for the environment.

We often hear from the government that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. Sometimes they go hand in hand in the wrong direction, and sometimes they move hand in hand in the right direction. Under the current government, they are both moving in the wrong direction, I think. Under the previous government, we got pipelines built by creating conditions for the private sector to get that work done. That allowed for economic advancement for our country and also environmental improvements.

The previous Conservative government was the first government in Canadian history to oversee a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Our friends across the way are always very skeptical of this. They want to find reasons they cannot really credit it to us, and here are the arguments they use. They will try to say that the Conservatives cannot really take credit for the reduction in greenhouse emissions, because the reductions were the result of policies undertaken by the provinces. The response to that is that if we compare the record of the previous Conservative government to the Liberal government before it, we either had reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, or there was an increase that was lower than the increase in the previous period. In other words, there were improvements in terms of environmental performance in every jurisdiction, which suggests that it was not merely about things happening in individual jurisdictions, although there is obviously a role to be played there, but was a result of federal policy. That was the record of the previous government.

The current government will then say that it was only because of the recession. It is true that the Conservatives governed during a period when there was a global recession, yet at a time when global emissions went up, Canadian emissions went down, even though Canada was relatively less impacted by the global economic recession than many other countries. We were able to achieve environmental improvements at a time when the rest of the world did not, even though the rest of the world was more affected by the recession and therefore saw more constriction in terms of economic activity compared to what was happening in Canada.

If one puts those facts together and recognizes that the Conservatives undertook thoughtful, managed policies on environmental improvements, a regulatory sector-by-sector approach, one can see that we achieved real, substantial, and meaningful progress.

Here is the difference. We do not use the environment as an excuse to impose new taxes on low- and middle-income Canadians. We see the environment as an objective that can be pursued in concert with economic improvement. We can have a sustainable federal budget that does not involve massive deficits at the same time as concerning ourselves with sustainable environmental performance, in environmental terms.

If we look at the record of the previous Conservative government, we can see a strong economy as well as improvements in terms of the environment. I hate to be accused of plagiarism, but if we look at the record of the previous government, it does look like the environment and the economy were going hand in hand.

Under the current government, we see something quite different. We see a government totally unable to establish the conditions that allow for private sector investments in pipelines. In fact, what it is doing is buying out assets, which leads companies to then move that money and make those investments elsewhere. Kinder Morgan is going to spend the money it received from the Canadian government, but it is not going to spend it here in Canada. Very likely, it is going to spend it in other parts of the world.

The energy sector in other countries is doing very well, but we face continuing, significant challenges here in Canada as a result of the government's total inability to get these issues right. It is imposing more taxes on low- and middle-income Canadians through its carbon tax, and by the way, it is not telling people how much it will cost. We are still asking the government to come clean, end the carbon tax cover-up, and share with us the cost to individual Canadians of the carbon tax. It will not come clean with respect to that. It will not reveal the information and has only released severely redacted, blacked-out documents that prevent Canadians from actually seeing what the impact of that carbon tax will be.

The government thinks that imposing these new taxes on Canadians is somehow going to lead to solutions to our environmental challenges. If we want to see what sustainable development really looks like, we should look specifically at what happened in terms of economic performance and greenhouse gas reductions during the period of the previous government.

When we have this kind of big government intervention, the economy model the government has, it is not fiscally sustainable. It means leaving massive debt and deficits to the next generation, and it does not do much good for our environment, either.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to present my thoughts on Bill C-57. I regret very much that we have time allocation on this bill, and even more so the hour of 11 p.m. that is now approaching. This important legislation deserves to be heard in a normal fashion with full debate.

Let me go back to when this bill originated. The Federal Sustainable Development Act was actually passed in the era of a Conservative government, and was one of those rare pieces of legislation that originated with the opposition. It was brought forward by a former Liberal MP, John Godfrey. It was one of his last contributions as a very diligent and thoughtful member of Parliament. He went on to leave Parliament and go back to his old stomping grounds of education.

Sustainable development and aspects of sustainable development had been in Canadian law before. This bill managed to get through Parliament in 2008, and the successor bill that we have before us tonight does improve some elements of sustainable development as originally put forward with a lot of co-operation in this place back in 2008. I was not yet a member of Parliament in that year, but I followed very closely the development of the Federal Sustainable Development Act because it was really a high-water mark for the minority-government years of former Prime Minister Harper, because opposition parties were willing to work together. The opposition parties had a majority, but very rarely used it. In this case, the Federal Sustainable Development Act was brought in. This act could have been improved and strengthened, but there is very little that I would say is wrong with it. I am disappointed that we will repeal the definition of the precautionary principle, but overall the bill will strengthen the application of sustainable development principles to more parts of the federal government, and I do like the creation of a sustainable development advisory council. The bill has real potential, but I do not think the government plans to do with it what I hope it will do.

Going back to the early 1960s, for decades the Canadian government benefited from well-researched, strong public policy advice from institutions that we no longer have. We used to have, starting in 1963, the Economic Council of Canada. We had as well the Science Council of Canada. In the early 1970s, we had the creation of the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council. In 1993, all three of those agencies were wound up and repealed. That meant we lost the Economic Council of Canada, the Science Council of Canada, and the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council. They were wound up and repealed because in 1993 the federal government brought in the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. This was our first substantial sustainable development tool. To quote the late Jim MacNeill, a brilliant Canadian diplomat and former deputy minister who really challenged the ideas of sustainable development, one of the core ideas was that “If we change the way we make decisions, we'll change the kind of decisions we make.”

The idea of the national round table was that by bringing together people from different perspectives, including trade unions, large corporate enterprises, academics, environmentalists, indigenous people, as well as government ministers and agencies and so on, the resulting give and take and shared learning would create decisions that met the challenge of sustainability, because sustainability is not the environment by itself. Sustainability has at least three legs to the stool. They are the environment, and social and economic concerns, but those are within a very clear mandate to ensure that the decisions we take today do not compromise the ability of future generations to make their own decisions and to meet their own needs. In other words, sustainability requires that we think about intergenerational equity.

Here I have to confess that I was a member and vice-chair for quite a while of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. Its work was substantial. I do not want to blow my own horn, but a lot of work was done by a lot of people over many years, and I served for only a relatively brief period.

In 2012, under omnibus budget Bill C-38, the national round table was eliminated. No one at that point said that we had better bring back all those other advisory bodies that we had eliminated in 1993 when we created the national round table. There is no longer the Economic Council, no longer the Science Council, no longer the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council, and there is no national round table.

This is the first time something has been created that could meet that need, namely a sustainable development advisory council. It is pretty thin gruel. It could do a lot. The Treasury Board within the act could establish policies or issue directives and could be adequately funding this new agency, which is quite modestly proposed in the act. That said, I certainly hope that the government will realize that we desperately need sound advice on what is sustainable and what is not.

Speaking of what is not sustainable, it includes today's announcement that the Government of Canada is going to form a crown corporation that will now be the management entity for a pipeline that the federal government proposes to buy with a closing date in August. I can only hope that something goes wrong with this sale because this is monstrous. We are proposing to spend $4.5 billion to buy the assets of what is called the Trans Mountain pipeline, but owned by Kinder Morgan of Houston, Texas.

The Trans Mountain pipeline was built in 1953 by a Canadian company with the goal of bring crude or synthetic crude to Burnaby, British Columbia, where over time they developed four refineries. The Trans Mountain pipeline was all about bringing Canadian crude from Alberta to Canadian refineries in the Lower Mainland for domestic use.

When Kinder Morgan bought the assets of Trans Mountain, which are now more than 60 years old, in its valuation to the National Energy Board, the company put the value of the Trans Mountain assets at $550 million. Those are the assets that today the Minister of Finance announced he would buy at a price of $4.5 billion. That is astonishing. Kinder Morgan has certainly achieved a very rich return on investment without having invested new infrastructure.

Kinder Morgan wanted to build a new pipeline, but I think it has lost interest in it. That is why it kidnapped its own project and said that if we did not have a solution by May 31, it would walk away. Clearly for political reasons, primarily for the impact in Alberta, the federal government decided that anything was preferable to having Kinder Morgan walk away, so it has done something astonishing. It is planning to spend $4.5 billion to buy the existing assets of the old pipeline and to take on, as yet undescribed by the Minister of Finance, but said by Kinder Morgan to be a $7.4 billion project to build the expansion. The government is taking on a project that has not yet cleared its conditions with the National Energy Board and is still before the courts in 15 different court cases for violation of indigenous rights, and is doing so with a completely scandalously inadequate environmental review before the National Energy Board within which evidence was put forward by Kinder Morgan and at which no intervenors were allowed to cross-examine.

We now find ourselves asking if the government understands sustainable development, because overarching all of this is the most fundamental and pressing question, what about the climate crisis? How can we possibly claim that Canada understands the pressing imperative of the transition away from fossil fuels, whether in 10, 20, or 30 years? We need to make plans. How can we understand the imperative of avoiding the kind of disaster that deprives not hypothetical future generations but our own children, children alive today that we tuck in at night? How can we possibly think we understand sustainability while building pipelines?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague quite rightly referred to the fact that the original sustainable development act was actually a collaboration within this very House, but in a previous Parliament. It was a minority government and it produced an act that all members in this House could support, one that reflected the appropriate balance between our social objectives, our environmental objectives, and our economic imperatives. Then that went on to result in a study that took place at the environment committee.

We studied the act as it had been implemented over a number of years. We found a number of shortcomings. We suggested improvements. Some of those improvements were actually incorporated into the bill we have before us, Bill C-57.

However, at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding. If a government does not want to apply the lens of sustainability, it will not, and quite frankly, I have serious reservations about the ability of the Liberal government to understand what sustainability means.

My colleague referenced that. She asked if the government actually understands sustainability. She referred to the Kinder Morgan sale, the purchase by the government of that pipeline, as a clear indicator that the government does not understand sustainability.

I would ask her if she has any other examples of the government failing to understand the true notion of sustainability.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

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.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-57.

I want to begin by addressing some comments made recently by a Liberal colleague about climate change. Statements that the previous government did not consider climate change a serious problem are absolutely false. The fact is that the targets we set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are the targets that the Liberals are using. The position of the previous government was that every country has to be part of the solution. That is what science tells us. If it is just Canada and a few select countries that are doing their fair share, we cannot address the issue of growing greenhouse gas emissions. The targets that the previous government set are the targets that are being used by the Liberal government.

In speaking to Bill C-57, my concern is not about the bill and the text of the bill. It is whether the government will act on the bill, and whether change is necessary.

Bill C-57 came about exactly 10 years ago. I was parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment. The minister was John Baird. The Liberal member who was retiring and leaving this place was John Godfrey. As the parliamentary secretary in that structure, I was tasked with meeting with John. We talked. There was work with the David Suzuki Foundation and others. What was proposed was considered, and there was give-and-take. We ended up with a bill, Bill C-474, and the government, under the minister of the environment, John Baird, supported that. We ended up with a good piece of legislation that everyone could support, and we moved it forward as a Parliament in 2008.

That gives us a glimpse into what happened under a previous Conservative government. In the committee structures, how did things work back then? There was work between the government in power and the opposition members. Unfortunately, we do not see that in the current government. It is sad. That is one of the reasons why there is a lack of trust. The government says that it will work with the opposition, but that is not what happens.

In the committee, members are not even permitted to ask questions. It was last week that the ministers came to answer questions about how they were going to spend the $7 billion of discretionary funds in the main estimates. The ministers came and made their speeches, and then down came the gavel to end the meeting so that the opposition members could not ask any questions. It was so undemocratic and so shocking.

That is how the Liberal government runs the House. In one day, it brought closure three times, and in the committees it does not permit the opposition members to do their work, representing Canadians and keeping the government accountable. The government refuses to let that happen in committees. It is very sad.

That did not happen in 2008, when we worked with a Liberal member, John Godfrey, and permitted him to introduce his bill. There was give-and-take, and we came up with what we could both agree on. The David Suzuki Foundation was part of that consultation.

We ended up with a good bill, the Sustainable Development Act. There are three parts to it. What we said, and what the current government is saying, is that we can have a healthy environment and we can have a healthy economy. We can do it, but there has to be social buy-in. Canadians have to buy in. The key to that is having all three. There has to be trust. Unfortunately, what is missing in Bill C-57 is trust.

There is a third body. There is the Commissioner of the Environment, who will do an assessment of what is happening. Is the government doing what it needs to? The Commissioner of the Environment gives us a report card. How is Parliament doing? How is the government doing?

As was noted previously, the spring 2018 audit by the commissioner stated:

...we found that the federal government is not ready to implement its commitments on sustainable development....

First, the federal government does not regularly balance the three pillars of sustainable development.

That is one of the reasons why it is failing. It then states:

Second, there is a lack of leadership for many sustainable development activities.

With respect to the lack of leadership, where is that source? What is the commissioner talking about? It is the government. It is the Prime Minister. It is the minister. There is no leadership. If the problem with the lack of sustainable development is that lens, why is it not happening? The commissioner is saying it is because of a lack of leadership. The government is not using the tools it has. That is the third reason he cites as follows:

the federal government has not implemented the tools it already has to assess the impacts of policy decisions on sustainable development.

The minister and the Prime Minister need to do their job. The government needs to work with members of the opposition and all parties. There needs to be respect and trust. Then what we already have in place would be working.

Under Liberal governments, we have seen a legacy of disrespect for Parliament and not getting it done. I am looking at reports by the Commissioner of the Environment done year after year. I do not have the time to go through all of them.

The 2002 report stated, “The Liberal government's sustainable development deficiency continues to grow.”

The 2003 report noted, “There is a gap between what the Liberal government said it would do and what it is actually doing. Good intentions and great announcements are not enough.”

The 2004 report asked, “Why is progress so slow after all the mandates and commitments were there? I am left to conclude that the reason is that there is a lack of leadership, a lack of priority and a lack of will.” It sounds like what was announced just weeks ago.

The 2005 report stated, “When it comes to protecting the environment bold announcements are made and then forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground.”

We have a problem. Because of lack of leadership, we are missing a sustainable development lens that includes a healthy environment; a strong, growing economy; and social buy-in. That is what the Commissioner of the Environment is saying. Can members imagine for a moment what the economy, the environment, and the social buy-in for a healthy economy and environment would look like if we had a Conservative government or a minister of the environment like the member for Abbotsford? I can only imagine how good it would be.

We became government in 2006. In 2011, we had efficiencies, appliances, and vehicles in place that helped reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The fact is it was in 2008, 2009, and 2010 that emissions were going down because of efficiencies resulting from policies brought in by the previous Conservative government. I can only imagine that emissions would continue to go down when we get a change of government, when we get a Conservative government that respects Canadians, that works with Canadians, and uses common sense to create a growing environment and a growing economy. It is achievable and it will happen from 2019 onwards. I am excited because I know that with a Conservative government, we are going to get it done.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-57. We are going to support this bill, but there are a lot of “buts”.

Let me explain. I have to say that what the Prime Minister did today with the Trans Mountain pipeline really bothered me. He is alienating all of the provinces. Everyone objected to the way he handled Kinder Morgan. The provinces are all realizing that they elected a prime minister who is all about appearances. He never takes any real action. He is someone who does things too quickly without ever listening to anyone. Canada is a democratic country, and ever since the Liberals took office the Prime Minister has been saying that he wants to hear our suggestions, but as soon as someone says something or disagrees with him, he throws a bit of a tantrum and stops being sensible. It is rather odd. He had allies in many of the provinces, but he is losing them because of his uninformed decisions.

That is too bad because we could have worked as a team here in the House.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

moved:

That Bill C-57 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-57 again. This bill, effectively, would amend the current Federal Sustainable Development Act. Members may recall that in a previous Parliament, it was John Baird and the Conservative Party that strongly supported the original legislation, brought forward under a private member's bill, to establish the Federal Sustainable Development Act. That act requires that all government decision-making be reviewed through an environmental, economic, and social lens in the appropriate balance. That is the rub, “in the appropriate balance”.

The bill before us today aims to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent, first; more certain, second; and subject to greater accountability, third, especially within government. This bill would require more departments and agencies of government—in other words, additional departments and agencies—to contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy, bringing the total to more than 90 departments and agencies from the current 26. The bill would also require these departments and agencies to prepare specific strategies to ensure sustainability and to table progress reports on their implementation.

Bill C-57 would also increase from three to six the number of indigenous representatives sitting on the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Government, of course, relies heavily on these advisory councils to provide it with strategic advice on the implementation of that legislation. The bill would expand the council's mandate and provide that representatives appointed to the council may be compensated for expenses. We just heard the Speaker mention that a motion was being tabled that addresses the issue of remuneration. It has been my party's position that although the members of this advisory council should be compensated and reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses such as travel and lodging, they should not be remunerated. This should not be a job they do, but their contribution to society in making sure that Canada has an effective sustainable development plan.

The act would be subject to a mandatory review every five years. It has already been studied at the environment committee, on which I sit, where the Conservative members strongly supported it, subject to the amendments that have been brought forward this morning. We strongly believe that any decision government makes should always be reviewed through the lens of sustainability and should ensure that social, environmental, and economic factors are in the appropriate balance. This act also supports a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development.

As I mentioned earlier, the challenge, the real rub, is finding the appropriate balance among those three: social, environmental, and economic considerations, especially the balance between the environment and the economy. Our friends in the Liberal Party are fond of saying that the environment and the economy go hand in hand, which is a nice platitude, but the implementation of that intent is a different matter altogether. We see major failures in the Liberal Party's efforts to implement sustainability in Canada. Despite the fact that the Liberals brought forward this legislation, which is supposed to strengthen sustainability in Canada, their performance reflects quite a different approach. It is one that pits Canadian against Canadian, province against province, and the federal government against province and territory. While in government, the Liberals have not found it as easy as it may seem to implement sustainability.

I will begin by highlighting the relationship among the provinces, the territories, and the federal government. Members may recall that the Prime Minister, when running for election in 2015, made a host of promises, most of which have been broken.

One promise the Prime Minister made, which is now broken, was to usher in a new era of co-operative federalism. Nobody understood exactly what he meant, but everybody took him at his word. They assumed he was a man of his word and had every intention of doing this. In fact, he then began to interpret sustainability as having one's cake and eating it too.

When the Prime Minister was in British Columbia, he would pretend he was the champion of the environment. He would talk about the oceans protection plan and how we have to move off fossil fuels. However, when the Prime Minister was in Alberta to appease the residents there, whose livelihoods depend on our oil and gas, our resource sector, he would claim he was the great champion of the energy sector, again wanting to have his cake and eat it too and trying to be all things to all people. Those of us who have been involved in business, who have had to pay salaries and make important decisions within our businesses, know that we cannot be all things to all people. Tough decisions have to be made that serve the greater interests of Canadians.

There was our Prime Minister travelling across the country and pretending to be all things to all people, and suddenly the Trans Mountain pipeline comes along. He tells our friends in Alberta that if they implement a massive carbon tax, Albertans will win the social licence to be able to build the Trans Mountain pipeline to get their crude oil to foreign markets, get their crude oil to tidewater, where ships can then take that oil to foreign markets where it will fetch the highest price.

Trusting the Prime Minister, the Government of Alberta moves ahead with this massive carbon tax, which is hurting Albertans right across that province. I know some of my colleagues will share the pain being suffered by Albertans.

Now the Trans Mountain pipeline wants to move forward. Kinder Morgan wants to start building that project, but British Columbia steps up and says it opposes a pipeline coming through British Columbia. Even though there is an existing one there and all we are doing is twinning it, British Columbia is opposed. Now we have a war between the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, a fight between the provinces and the federal government, and there is an appalling lack of leadership on the part of the Prime Minister, who had made a promise that if Alberta implemented this heavy-handed carbon tax, at least it would get a social licence out of it. Now it turns out there is no social licence. In fact, there never will be a social licence.

Canadians have been misled by the Prime Minister, but it gets worse. We are talking about sustainability, finding the appropriate balance for our economic prosperity as a country, using our resources wisely, getting the maximum dollar for them, getting them to markets, and then a report comes out from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Actually, it emanates out of the Auditor General's office. In this report, dated March of 2018, we read that in Canada greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, which the government committed to reduce, are expected to be nearly 20% above target. This whole report from the commissioner is riddled with criticism of the government's performance on the environment file.

Then we have Bill C-69, which is the impact assessment act revisions, which were intended to shorten timelines and provide more predictability and certainty for approvals of resource projects and pipelines. In fact, we are now hearing from industry that these timelines are much longer than they were before and that there are many additional criteria that are going to make it even more difficult for resource projects to be approved in Canada. As a result, what we are finding is that on the economic side, we are losing out.

We have a Prime Minister who pretends he is the defender of our economy, but who in fact is completely pandering to the environmental movement and those who are on the extreme left.

I would suggest that this legislation, although it does reflect the consensus of the parties within this House, has not been implemented by the Liberals in their actions and in their legislation.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to address my colleagues in the House and to reaffirm our government’s commitment to sustainable development and future generations of Canadians.

Through Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the government is working to ensure that decision-making related to sustainable development is more transparent, is subject to accountability, and promotes coordination across the Government of Canada.

Let me begin by thanking all members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their excellent work.

The committee’s hard work has led us to a stronger and more transparent bill, which builds on the government’s commitment to promote consultation and public engagement.

It is this last point that I would like to speak to today.

Worldwide we are seeing a resurgence of interest and desire to promote sustainable development and take action on climate change. By adopting the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, Canada will contribute to a global framework of action that strives for global sustainable development and aims to eradicate poverty and to leave no one behind.

Through its participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the historic Paris Agreement, Canada is also signalling a renewed global commitment to address climate change.

It is in this global context that we find ourselves, resolutely committed to ensuring that Canada is a sustainable development leader.

That is why we are proposing amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act that would propel us along a path to a sustainable future and ensure that we have the interests of future generations in mind.

The current federal sustainable development strategy is the strongest to date. It was developed using an inclusive participatory approach aimed at engaging and involving all Canadians. We released the draft strategy in February 2016 and asked Canadians to share with us their vision for a sustainable Canada and to suggest how we could strengthen transparency and accountability. The response was unprecedented. Canadians provided more than 540 written comments, 12 times the response received to the previous strategy. On social media they contributed about 900 posts and replies on the draft strategy. Overall, the draft strategy had a reach of more than 400,000 people over the course of the public consultation period.

We heard from individual Canadians who are fully committed and indicated that they are interested, engaged, and passionate about sustainable development.

We also heard from provincial governments, indigenous organizations, industry and professional associations, academics, and environmental non-governmental organizations. The strategy also benefited from the standing committee's review of the act and its recommendations. Evidence from the review included insightful testimony from witnesses such as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Hon. John Godfrey, the originator of the bill that became the act. We also spoke with the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, with representatives from each province and territory, as well as with members drawn from indigenous peoples, organizations representing business, organizations representing labour, and environmental non-governmental organizations.

In the public consultations, Canadians showed their support for the strategy, as well as for the 2030 agenda and other key sustainable development initiatives. They also appreciated the accessibility and transparency of the strategy, and the government's openness to receiving comments and input. However, Canadians also stressed that they are looking to the government for further progress and improvements, including greater inclusiveness to further guarantee the development of a strategy that engages all Canadians.

As a response, we felt we could go beyond improving the strategy, to improve the act itself. That is why, spurred by the standing committee's unanimous recommendations, our government introduced Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

The Federal Sustainable Development Act already requires the government to engage Canadians through public consultations on the federal sustainable development strategy, including through the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. However, we wanted to further increase the effectiveness of our engagement activities, starting with improvements to the council itself.

Bill C-57 would position the council to be better able to advise the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on matters related to sustainable development referred to it by the minister. Expertise and advice from the council would be sought on the development of the draft federal sustainable development strategy before it goes to public consultation. The council could also be asked to review the draft FSDS progress report during its development and to provide suggestions on its form, content, and direction. Similar to the current practice of including a summary of the council's comments on the federal sustainable development strategy, a summary of advice could also be made public by including it either in the federal sustainable development strategy or in the progress report.

Our bill also proposes to double the number of indigenous representatives from three to six. The Minister of Environment would further reflect the diversity of Canadian society by taking into account demographic considerations such as age and gender when appointing representatives to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council.

In addition, we have removed previous restrictions that denied council members reimbursement for reasonable costs incurred by them in connection with the business of the council. The proposed amendment would remove the prohibition on reimbursement of Sustainable Development Advisory Council members, in order to enhance effective engagement and inclusiveness. This was framed and was a recommendation by the member for Abbotsford.

The current act does not allow council members to be remunerated or reimbursed for their expenses, because it was part of a private member's bill. What that has meant in practice is that the council has been convened only virtually and by teleconference to review draft federal sustainable development strategies, and that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change has never met face to face with the council. Members are located in every province and territory from coast to coast to coast. Changing this would further help to minimize financial constraints on participants, particularly youth and members located in rural Canada. It would be unfortunate if individuals with a great deal to offer do not consider putting their name forward to be part of the council because they could not afford to participate.

Enabling the government to compensate or reimburse SDAC members would provide the ability for the council to play a more effective role in shaping the government's sustainable development approach. It would also enable the minister to engage with the council through in-person meetings or by bringing clusters of members together when appropriate.

We believe these changes would increase the ability of the council to guide and support our sustainable development agenda.

These proposed changes also reinforce the addition of numerous sustainable development principles. In addition to the basic principle and the precautionary principle, which are already included in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the bill adds principles of intergenerational equity, openness and transparency, the importance of involving aboriginal peoples, collaboration, and results and delivery.

Let me say a few words about these principles, which will guide the government's plans and actions on sustainable development. The principles emphasize that sustainable development is a continually evolving concept and allow the government to address new and emerging issues within future strategies. They also highlight approaches that the government should consider when developing sustainable development strategies.

In particular, the principle of intergenerational equity is the essence of sustainable development. It is the recognition that the decisions we make are not just about today but about tomorrow and far off into the future.

The polluter pays principle and the internalization of costs are also integral to sustainable development: that we must go beyond thinking of economic growth in conventional terms and stop seeing environmental damages as externalities.

The principle of openness and transparency supports the Federal Sustainable Development Act's stated purpose to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.

The Government of Canada is committed to advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples through a renewed nation-to-nation, Inuit-crown, and government-to-government relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. Our principle of involving indigenous peoples reflects this commitment, as well as their unique understanding of and connection to Canada's lands and waters, and the important role of traditional knowledge in supporting sustainable development.

Sustainable development requires contributions and actions from all parts of society: the public and private sectors and civil society. The principle of collaboration is about that joint pursuit of our common objectives.

The government has made it clear from its first day in office that we are committed to results and delivery.

Our principle on results and delivery emphasizes the importance of developing sound sustainable development objectives, associated strategies, indicators for measuring progress, and accountabilities. The Federal Sustainable Development Act must promote real change.

The proposed amendments to the principles are to be considered in the development of sustainable development strategies. Building more flexibility into the advisory council's role builds on these principles, particularly the principles of involving indigenous peoples, collaboration, and transparency and accountability, by providing an external perspective on sustainable development and ensuring that our federal sustainable development strategy reflects the diversity of Canada.

I hope that highlighting some of the major features of our bill would give members a better sense of how we can collectively move toward a more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. I am sure this is something all members of the House fully support.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I think the hon. member may be a bit confused. The discussion today is on Bill C-57, which is about the Federal Sustainable Development Act, and I think he is referring to a completely different bill. The amendment that was moved by one of his colleagues relates to Bill C-57, which is about the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

I have to say that it is a bit disappointing to see the opposition trying to politicize a bill that we all support, on all sides of the House. One of the great disappointments for many of us who got into politics quite recently is how everything, even things we agree on, tends to end up in a partisan discussion inside this chamber. The hon. member who moved the motion and I have a very good relationship outside the House. However, I am always surprised at how narrowly partisan some of the things that I hear coming out of his mouth in the chamber are.

I am proud of the work that was done by the committee on this bill. I am proud of the bill itself. It is something that all parties in the House have indicated they support on a go-forward basis. In the spirit of the non-partisan way in which the committee worked, I would simply ask that we continue to talk about a bill that we all support and leave some of the partisanship aside.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the chance to speak to this bill. It is very important that we strengthen sustainability legislation in this country. We have taken a few baby steps forward, but regrettably, this bill has not gone far enough. It is not enough for the government to simply say the word “indigenous”, say it cares about indigenous people, and then not take the step it promised, which is to actually incorporate that declaration into the law of the land.

It is important at the outset to recall that the Federal Sustainable Development Act was initiated in 2008 as a private member's bill with, frankly, much stronger measures. It was transformed by the then Liberal government into the law as it exists today. Second, it is important to recognize the earlier decision in 1995 to create of the office of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development within the Office of the Auditor General. A requirement was also imposed on departments to prepare and table sustainable development strategies. The commissioner was mandated to audit and publicly report on the government's delivery on these responsibilities. During the 1990s, a cabinet directive was also issued requiring ministers to provide an environmental assessment of any policies, plans, or proposals submitted to cabinet. As my colleague mentioned, that would include pipeline approvals.

In 2015, Canada joined other nations in signing a United Nations resolution, “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. This agreement committed the signatories to take bold and transformative steps that are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. Two months later, Canada also committed, in Paris, to deeper actions to address climate change.

Finally, Canada has declared its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which I will refer to as the UNDRIP from now on, much of which deals with the indigenous right to self-determination, including on resource development, environmental protection, and sustainability.

Over the past decades, consecutive audits by the commissioner have reported abject failure by departments and ministers alike in incorporating credible environmental or sustainable development assessments for decision-making. It is similarly noteworthy that as recently as this past spring, after the tabling of Bill C-57, the commissioner delivered a highly critical audit on the government's commitment to implementing the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals, finding no federal governance structure, a narrow interpretation of sustainable development, limited national consultation and engagement, no national implementation plan, few national targets, and no system to measure, monitor, and report on national targets. It was a very scathing review.

It is important, then, in assessing Bill C-57, to determine if these proposed reforms to the act brought before us today are sufficient to update Canadian law to ensure delivery of our international and domestic commitment to ensuring sustainability.

A year before the bill was introduced, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development led a study of a draft federal sustainable development strategy, as required by law. The result was a series of recommendations presented to Parliament to strengthen this very law and the process of applying it. Last fall, the Minister of Environment tabled Bill C-57 to amend the act. The bill was debated and then referred back to the committee, which again undertook a study and reported back a number of recommended amendments. On behalf of my party, I proposed a series of recommended amendments, for the most part based on recommendations from the commissioner, experts heard at committee in both of its reviews, and the committee itself. Regrettably, almost all of them were refused, despite having been put forward by the committee itself in its earlier study.

Among my proposed amendments was that the bill provide specific reference to a commitment to the UNDRIP. Why did I propose this? The Prime Minister has committed to deliver on all 94 of the calls for action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including calls 43 and 44, which call on the federal government, in fact all orders of government, to fully adopt and implement the UNDRIP as the framework for reconciliation and to develop a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve those goals. Clearly, one of those measures would be to include the UNDRIP in this law.

In her address to a conference on implementing the UN declaration, in November of last year, the Minister of Justice stated:

With the direction and leadership of [the Prime Minister], our government will support Bill C-262. The bill acknowledges the application of the UN declaration in Canada and calls for the alignment of the laws of Canada with the UN declaration.

It could not be clearer. This address was made to the Assembly of First Nations, and it interprets that as meaning that the UN declaration will now be incorporated into every federal law going forward.

The government has publicly stated its support for Bill C-262, tabled by my colleague, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, which calls on the government to enact the UNDRIP in Canadian law.

This directive by the Prime Minister is clear: all Canadian laws must be written and applied to align with the UN declaration. The federal commissioner of the environment and sustainable development recommended to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development that it seek amendments to Bill C-57 to specifically include the UNDRIP. Again, it came from our federal commissioner.

Any reasonable person would conclude, therefore, that failing to reference the UNDRIP in the bill was just an oversight. Perhaps no one advised the minister that her Prime Minister, her justice minister, and the commissioner had recommended exactly this action. Therefore, it appears well-founded that I table this exact amendment. After all, the government's intent was clear.

What was the response by the majority Liberal-led committee? It voted down this amendment. One wonders, of course, why the Minister of Environment had not made this reference herself in the bill, but there we are: no support for inclusion of the UNDRIP in our nation's sustainable development law, which is supposed to guide all decisions on policy, programs, and law going forward.

There is no commitment to entrenching indigenous rights, but what about the other recommended measures to strengthen the bill? In testifying before the committee, the commissioner expressed appreciation that the minister had heeded the advice of the committee to incorporate into the law at least some of the recommended guiding principles, such as intergenerational equity, the precautionary principle, and polluter pays. Other recommended principles, including environmental justice and the right to a healthy environment, were not included.

The commissioner expressed concern that additional international commitments critical to sustainability remain missing from the bill. These include, for logical reasons, the United Nations agenda 2030 on sustainable development goals and the Paris climate convention.

During its review in advance of Bill C-57, the standing committee sought advice from a number of leading Canadian and international experts on sustainable development on ways to strengthen the federal resolve to deliver on sustainable development. These included, as mentioned, the current commissioner of the environment and sustainable development and the head of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, who was also the former commissioner. It also included Welsh and German experts on sustainable development, Global International, and the World Future Council. Clearly, the committee heard advice from a wide array of expertise on sustainable development.

A widely supported recommendation was to shift to a whole of government approach in instituting sustainability considerations in government decision-making by incorporating into law measures to improve enforceability and accountability on the sustainable development targets, appointing more senior-level authorities to provide oversight, and entrenching the cabinet directive in the statute. The minister chose not to follow this sage advice

These recommendations were repeated by the federal commissioner when testifying before the committee. She reiterated her call to shift the oversight role from a junior-level officer in the environment department to a central agency. It is no surprise why she came to this conclusion. As mentioned earlier, audits delivered over the past several decades reported abject failure across authorities, including the departments of environment and Public Safety, to comply with the law. Her fall 2017 report found a mere 20% compliance rate by the five departments audited.

As recently as this spring, the commissioner reported that the government has no federal government structure, a limited interpretation of sustainable development, and no system to measure or monitor sustainable development.

I would welcome questions and just share that I am deeply disappointed. This was an opportunity to strengthen the resolve of the federal government--

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my friend from Edmonton Strathcona for her tireless work on environment and climate issues.

I want to ask my colleague about the potential to find something positive in the bill.

I have been just appalled by the lack of advisory bodies for the Liberal government. Let me give a quick review. We used to have in Canada the Economic Council of Canada, which existed from 1963 until the 1990s. The Science Council of Canada existed from the 1960s until the early 1990s. The Canadian Environmental Advisory Council existed from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. All three were abolished in the early 1990s, because the government created the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. We were told that we did not need the Economic Council, the Science Council, or the Environmental Advisory Council anymore, because we had the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which, in the spring of 2012, was killed in the Conservative omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38.

Nobody seems to be aware of the paucity of basic research and the combining of themes around sustainable development that we used to take for granted.

This is a pretty weak instrument we have in proposed subsection 8(1) of this legislation. We have a Sustainable Development Advisory Council, which I think has potential, but it has to be properly funded. The Liberal government needs to see the potential to replace all those bodies we used to have that gave us good advice.

I wonder if my friend from Edmonton Strathcona thinks that is something we should push ahead with in Bill C-57.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to speak about how our government's priorities and Bill C-57 align with the core principles underpinning the sustainable development goals and support the overarching philosophy of the 2030 agenda to leave no one behind. For Canada, leaving no one behind means that everyone can participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the achievement of the sustainable development goals.

The 2030 agenda is an informative agenda rooted in the principles of universality, inclusiveness, interconnectedness, and the need for meaningful partnerships that deliver positive change for all. It commits all countries irrespective of their income levels and development status to contribute to the comprehensive effort toward sustainable development.

As Canada's Prime Minister said in his address to the UN General Assembly in September 2017, “the SDGs are as meaningful in Canada as they are everywhere else in the world”. The 2030 agenda seeks to benefit all people in need, in a manner that targets their specific needs and vulnerabilities. To do so, the 2030 agenda calls for inclusiveness and participation by all segments of society irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity, and identity. This generates an unprecedented demand for diverse regional and local understanding of community-based issues and robust data.

For instance, we know that while drinking water in Canada is among the safest in the world, access to clean water and sanitation remains a challenge in on-reserve first nation communities. This is why clause 5 of the bill, which addresses the composition and mandate for the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, is so important. Clause 5 seeks to increase the number of indigenous representatives on the council to better reflect the indigenous groups represented and the broad range of challenges they face across Canada.

This directly supports our efforts to forge a new relationship with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. Clause 5 also seeks to reflect the diversity of Canadian society by taking into account demographic considerations, such as age and gender, when appointing representatives to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Gender equality and the empowerment of women, for example, are foundational pillars of Canada's leadership in the fight against climate change. We are enhancing our gender-based analysis across all areas of work on environment and climate change to ensure that our actions promote gender equality.

To further support diversity and inclusion in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, clause 5 provides that representatives appointed to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council may be reimbursed reasonable expenses incurred so they can meet as a council face to face. Council members would only be reimbursed for expenses incurred under the Treasury Board Secretariat travel directive. This directive applies to public service employees and other persons travelling on government business, and its purpose is supported by clause 5, which would ensure fair treatment of those required to travel on government business. The travel directive provides for the reimbursement of reasonable expenses necessarily incurred while travelling on government business, and does not constitute income or other compensation that would open the way for personal gain. The ability to meet face to face will enable more fair and effective engagement of the council.

The 2030 agenda rests on the interconnected nature of its goals. For example, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation supports the achievement of zero hunger and good health and well-being, by providing clean water to grow food and eliminating potential sources of disease.

To support the principles of interconnectedness, clause 5 provides that the Sustainable Development Advisory Council may advise the Minister of Environment on any matter related to sustainable development. Given that it was previously limited to reviewing the draft of the federal sustainable development strategy only, this will help to ensure that the core elements of sustainable development—social inclusion, economic growth, and environmental protection—can be further examined to ensure timely and meaningful advice to the minister.

All Canadians, including all levels of government, indigenous peoples, civil society, and the private sector, have a role to play in advancing the sustainable development goals and ensuring that no one is left behind.

In 2016, our government undertook an extensive consultation process to review our international assistance policy. Canadians showed strong support for the themes and issues addressed by the sustainable development goals. Canadians want to support the health and rights of women and children, to ensure peace and security, to provide clean economic growth and climate change, and protect governance, pluralism, diversity and human rights.

Responding to this consultation, Canada's feminist international assistance policy supports targeted investments, partnerships, innovation, and advocacy efforts with the greatest potential to close gender gaps and improve everyone's chances for success. As we implement the policy, we will strengthen our priorities through working in areas such as gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, human dignity, and growth that works for everyone.

Domestically, we have already begun to respond to the challenge of the 2030 agenda and the sustainable development goals through the 2016-2019 federal sustainable development strategy, our plan to promote clean growth, ensure healthy ecosystems, and to build safe, secure, and sustainable communities over the next three years.

The strategy presents 13 aspirational goals that are a Canadian reflection of the SDGs of the 2030 agenda, with a focus on their environmental dimensions. Our goals are supported by medium-term targets, short-term milestones, and clear action plans. Currently, 41 federal departments and agencies contribute to meeting our targets and advancing our goals. Our strategy was shaped by input from stakeholders and Canadians, and it recognizes the important role that our partners and all Canadians play in achieving sustainable development.

Recognizing the complex nature of coordinating the SDGs, budget 2018 announced $49.4 million over 13 years to establish a sustainable development goals unit to provide overall policy coordination and to fund monitoring and reporting activities by Statistics Canada. To facilitate meaningful engagement, budget 2018 also provided up to $59.8 million over 13 years for programming to support the implementation of the sustainable development goals. This means the development of an ambitious, whole-of-Canada national strategy, in consultation with provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, municipalities, universities, and civil society, to catalyze action across the country, build public awareness, and foster new partnerships and networks in advancing the sustainable development goals.

Many Canadian priorities, such as taking on climate change, clean energy, and oceans, growing and strengthening Canada's middle class, reconciliation with indigenous peoples, and advancing gender equality, already support the 2030 agenda. However, we know there is more work to do to ensure that no one is left behind. Canada's efforts to implement the 2030 agenda to date will be showcased this July at the UN high level political forum on sustainable development in New York, where we will present our first voluntary national review. Canada's voluntary national review will highlight our efforts and achievements to date, recognizing areas where more work is needed.

In conclusion, the sustainable development goals can only be achieved if everyone is on board. This is a Canadian agenda, a shared agenda, and an agenda that calls for all hands on deck. We strongly believe that Bill C-57 is in lockstep with our commitment to a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate today. For people who are watching on TV or following the debate in the galleries, Bill C-57 is one of those pieces of legislation that would be in many ways be viewed more as a process piece of legislation. It is not so much about a particular policy; it is about how to set up the particular processes, the mechanisms, the various government reports, etc. to come to a particular policy. Therefore, it is often fairly difficult to explain for people who do not live, breathe, and inhabit Parliament Hill why legislation needs to exist. However, we need certain processes and mechanisms to accomplish legislative aims.

What is fundamental about this bill is that it would expand the number of people who would be involved and the number of departments that would have to report. While that is all fairly interesting and probably useful in the long term, and may or may not have positive outcomes, I think the underlying question most Canadians want to ask is whether all these processes actually make for a better environment, do they get Canada where it wants to go. A process is only as useful as its end result.

Therefore, this is in many ways a difficult bill to comment about because we really do not know what the end result of all these changes to process will be.

What I will contribute to today's debate is to make some suggestions based upon the history and knowledge of what actually works in environmental policy, so when these processes come to fruition, the people who are involved in it will have some idea of what the various parliamentarians thought about what would be good input to have to create proper legislation in the future.

Again, to some degree, we are buying a pig in a poke today because the bill would create more fees and funding for people who would be on the advisory committees. It would require more departments to have more reports. Maybe that is good, maybe it is not, but as far as what the substance is to make the environment better, we really will not know based upon this legislation.

Let me give some advice for the House as to what has worked in history to make better, more proper, more positive environmental legislation.

For all the talk we have nowadays from the Liberal government about what works or what does not, the Liberals have not looked at the broader scope of world history to see what has fundamentally made our environment better. I know this may get some challenges from some parts of the House, but one of the things that has been most useful and successful as far as making the environment better has been the rise of capitalism and free enterprise.

Around the world, the countries that were the first and earliest to embrace capitalism and free enterprise now have the best environment. They may be drifting away from the free enterprise system, but systematically this is one of those things that cannot be disputed from history.

In places like Europe, which was having massive problems with deforestation, the Europeans brought in coal technology. The market brought it in to replace wood for energy. They began to use things like the market mechanisms to move food around the world. Ships that were run by oil, diesel, fuels, and coal were able to take food from parts of the world, such as North America, Europe, and various other places, and move it around.

How did that help the environment? Very simply, instead of local areas having to use their marginal resources to produce food, they were able to bring it from different parts of the world by using market mechanisms.

Technology has also helped to improve the environment. One of the ironies of the expanding debate around fracking and tight shale and different things about that, is these technologies have helped to create a greater supply of natural gas, lowering the price for natural gas which then replaces coal. I am no critic of the coal industry, but natural gas, when it is used for electricity, produces less greenhouse gases than coal.

Here is the irony. Petroleum engineers, through free enterprise, have done more to cut greenhouse gases than all the government regulations proposed by the various left-wing regimes around the world. If we look at the other place in the world, where there were major cuts to greenhouse gases, it was after the collapse of the Soviet communist bloc in Eastern Europe. They got rid of the heavy industry that was subsidized by the socialist-communist regimes of Eastern Europe. That was why the European Union was able to claim such massive credits. However, the irony of it all, for all the talk about regulation and taxation that the Liberal government puts forward, is that free enterprise and capitalism have actually done more for the environment than anything else. This is not surprising when we look at what people take responsibility for. They take responsibility for their own actions and their own property.

I used to live in the former Soviet Union for a short while as it was transitioning to becoming the various republics and independent nations it is now. I could see, as was to be expected, that people had environmental respect of their own property. However, the broader collectively-owned property did not. Free enterprise, responsibility, and all those basic things work to help protect the environment.

If we look at what the current government is doing, it has not been following those historical patterns. It has not looked at what broadly works to integrate with human nature to do it. Its ultimate policy is to do things like Bill C-57, which is about process, more talking, more reports, and more people being appointed to more committees to get more per diems and more payments, and so forth. Unfortunately that all tends to lead to more taxes and more regulation. The whole drive of the Liberal Party's environmental policy is to tax more and more.

What do people naturally do when they are taxed more? They do not necessarily change their behaviour in regard to the environment. They would if it were their own property and they needed to preserve and protect it. They do what people naturally should do. They try to avoid these carbon taxes.

I worked with the Saskatchewan Mining Association, which has been trying to communicate with the Minister of Environment, and not all that successfully I might add. However, it is very clear that it wants to work and do the best job it can for the environment. However, if the government overtaxes it with carbon taxes and regulations that have no basis in reality, its investment will move. Therefore, we do not actually clean up the environment. We do not actually have a better environmental outcome. What we do when we put on these carbon taxes and other regulations that are unnecessary for environmental improvement is that we move the industrial activity, hurt the Canadian economy, and do nothing to improve the environment.

If we tax electric plants in Canada that are generated by coal and we tax them so they move from Saskatchewan to North Dakota, all we have done is kill economic activity in Canada and moved it to the United States. We have not done anything to improve the environment.

This is what I encourage the government to do today. Process legislation is fine. Bills such as Bill C-57 could, if the process is actually implemented, do something positive.

Here is my challenge to other members of the House. When we look to support legislation, such as the bill before us, look to see what the historical record shows has been done to improve the environment. It has not been taxes, big government, or big government regulations. It has been people taking their own initiative under a free market, free enterprise systems, doing what they can with private property rights to improve it. That is what the historical record has shown and that is what we can expect to see in the future.

Again, a policy of big taxes, more regulation, and more government interference and bureaucracy will not improve the environment.

I realize I will not have convinced all of my hon. colleagues in the House, but I hope they are willing to enter into a discussion on what fundamentally will help improve the Canadian environment.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I am always happy to take part in debates in the House, especially on this issue. It is also always a pleasure to follow my colleague from Winnipeg North and his prose.

I can assure all members, and especially the member for Winnipeg North, that I will support the member for Abbotsford, because I know that he is on the right side. Based on his experience as a senior cabinet minister under our government, I know that he achieved great things for Canadians. I am sure he is on the right track.

We are gathered here today to discuss Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I will remind the House that this bill seeks to enhance, improve, change, and amend the initial bill, which had been adopted, tabled, and debated in 2008 by our government, under the guidance of the Hon. John Baird, then minister of the environment.

Various elements are addressed in this bill, but it is essentially about the environment. The speech I am going to make today is about the Liberal government's achievements and track record, considered against the commitments it made and the legacy we left behind from our time in government.

Let us look at the facts. In its electoral platform, the Liberal Party made numerous references to the environment scattered over more than 10 pages. Page 39 said that the Liberal government would “take action on climate change, put a price on carbon, and reduce carbon pollution”.

There are three assertions there: take action on climate change, put a price on carbon, and reduce carbon pollution. The first is debatable. The second is a promise that the Liberals did keep. The third is one they did not. That is the reality.

It is not the Conservatives who are saying so, but a neutral and objective authority, the Auditor General, who analyzed every step this government has taken in the past 31 months with regard to the environment.

The Auditor General reached three fundamental conclusions in his report to Parliament on the environment and sustainable development. Let us look at what he had to say in that report.

First, the Auditor General found that the Liberal government failed to reach the targets set when the Paris agreement was signed. Second, he found that there has not been any improvements with regard to greenhouse gas emissions. Third, he found that the federal government is not providing the proper and necessary leadership to fight climate change with the support and co-operation of the provinces. The environment is a federal-provincial joint responsibility and we need to work with the provinces.

The Auditor General found that the government failed in these three key areas, which are meeting targets, making progress, and providing leadership while working together with the provinces. The Auditor General said that.

This could undermine the efforts that must be made and the realities to which Canadians are accustomed when it comes time to take action on greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, the Liberal strategy was quite simple. They would impose a Liberal carbon tax on all Canadians. Let us remember that the Prime Minister famously said in this place that the Liberals would work with the provinces and invited them to implement a carbon tax or participate in a carbon exchange.

At first, this makes sense. However, we should not overlook what else was said, namely that if the provinces did not agree, a carbon tax would be imposed on them.

That does not really show leadership. That is forcing the provinces to do what they are told, or it will be rammed down their throats.

That is the approach of a Liberal government that came to power by saying that it would work with the provinces. If they do not co-operate, the government will force them to do what it wants. We do not believe that that is the right approach.

We should remember that this government has a study in hand that indicates what the impact of the Liberal carbon tax will be on Canadian families, a report that is not available to Canadians. We submitted an access to information request, which we now have in hand.

I will quote this study, which spells out the cost to families of the Liberal carbon tax:

...the potential impact of a carbon price on households' consumption expenditures across the income distribution. The key findings are:

The rest is blacked out. All of the information has been redacted. When people are ashamed of their numbers, they hide them. When they are proud of their numbers, they make them public. In this case, not only are they not making the numbers public, but they are also hiding them. Apparently they do not want Canadians to know how the proposed Liberal carbon tax will impact them directly.

In our view, the Liberals are out of line. Let me remind the House that if the provinces happen to want to introduce carbon taxes and if they happen to want to introduce their own carbon exchanges, that is their choice. I have first-hand experience with that. In 2011, I represented Chauveau in the National Assembly. There was a debate on whether Quebec should join the carbon exchange. Some people were in favour of it and others were against it. The political party I led at the time was against it. There was a proper debate. There was a debate and a vote, and Quebec has had a carbon exchange ever since. I was against it then, and I still am. People got to pass judgment on my stance three times, and I was elected three times with a clear majority each time. I was perfectly fine with that.

Just because someone is against the carbon tax and the carbon exchange does not mean that they are against the environment, on the contrary. People are smart enough to differentiate between the Liberals' partisan position and the facts.

The facts might surprise some because the propaganda we keep hearing about how the Conservatives were against the environment, did nothing for the environment, and are the enemies of the environment is completely false and not backed by facts. We hear this propaganda far too often.

Our government started by implementing a green plan, Canada EcoTrust, a $1.5-billion program, with the support and co-operation of the provinces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a scientific, tangible, and practical way. Hon. members will recall that in February 2007, the Charest provincial government and the federal Conservative government agreed to invest $349.9 million to fight climate change. That was done with the help of technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and it worked.

Those who claim the Conservative government did nothing are lying to Canadians. We worked in collaboration with the provinces, as well as private companies. I am in the best position to talk about it because there is a high-tech environmental firm in my riding called CO2 Solutions. For over 10 years, it has been working with Natural Resources Canada to shrink the Alberta oil industry's environmental footprint. Its methods are working. I am very proud of this company from my riding, because we believe that putting the ingenuity of private enterprise at the service of greenhouse gas reduction efforts is a promising approach.

Our government's track record therefore boasts a 2.2% decrease in greenhouse gases and a 16.9% increase in GDP. That is the perfect combination: tackling greenhouse gas emissions and growing Canada's economy.

Others will say that that is not true at all. I say that it is true. Public television viewers may have been a bit surprised last week when I answered an incisive question directly with that statistic. To silence the skeptics, I quickly put the information online, and I am pleased to repeat that statistic. The information comes from Natural Resources Canada:

Between 2005 and 2015, Canada's GHG emissions in the energy sector decreased 2.2% while real GDP grew by 16.9%.

That is the reality. Those are the facts. That is the Conservative track record. We had a real policy coupling economic prosperity with greenhouse gas reduction, unlike this government, which is not even capable of meeting its own targets, which incidentally are the targets that we set when we were in government and that were subsequently adopted by the Liberal government, President Obama, and the entire planet in the Paris Agreement.

That is the Conservative track record, and we are very proud of it.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

[Member spoke in Cree]

[English]

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today and speak in support of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I would like to acknowledge the great work that was done by members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Of the many recommendations put forward by the committee, I would like to focus on the recommendations to introduce amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act that would enable a whole-of-government approach and comprehensive engagement of all central government agencies in the development and implementation of the federal sustainable development strategy. I am going to speak to the House today about the roles and responsibilities of the various players in implementing the Federal Sustainable Development Act. These include the federal sustainable development strategy departments and agencies, the sustainable development office, parliamentarians, and the main purpose of this debate, the Sustainable Development Advisory Council.

When we think about a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development, we know that it can be accomplished in a number of ways.

First, Bill C-57 introduces some changes that would expand the act's coverage to include all federal organizations named in schedules I, I.1, and II to the Financial Administration Act, more than 90, in total compared to 26 in the current act. The act also provides for adding other entities at a later date and for removing entities.

While Environment and Climate Change Canada coordinates the development of the federal sustainable development strategy and its progress reports, these documents are the product of a collaborative effort involving all implicated federal organizations. The bill would require departments and agencies bound by the act to contribute to the development of the federal sustainable development strategy and its progress reports. It would also strengthen the accountabilities of all departments and agencies by requiring annual reporting to parliamentary committees.

Second, under an amended act, primary responsibility for the federal sustainable development strategy would remain with Environment and Climate Change Canada. However, Bill C-57 would formalize Treasury Board's role in leading greening government operation efforts. The bill provides that the Treasury Board may establish policies or issue directives applicable to organizations covered by the act in relation to the sustainable development impact of their operations.

Parliamentarians must also play an important role to ensure a whole-of-government approach to the FSDA when strategies and progress reports are tabled and referred to committees. Furthermore, Bill C-57 allows for the permanent review of the act, which further provides parliamentarians with the ability to ensure that the act takes a whole-of-government approach and remains, most importantly, transparent.

Stakeholders—which include parliamentarians, the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, non-governmental organizations, academia, associations, and Canadians—would also play a major role in developing the FSDS by providing input and feedback on the development and drafting of the FSDS.

In fact, under Bill C-57, the sustainable development office at Environment and Climate Change Canada would remain required to consult with stakeholders and Canadians for feedback and input into the FSDS for a period of 120 days. Under the current act, comments received from stakeholders and Canadians are summarized in a consultation synthesis report that is produced and posted to the web by the office, and these comments inform the final federal sustainable development strategy and subsequent progress reports. However, Bill C-57 moves one step further by stating that designated entities under the bill shall take into account comments made under public consultation.

Finally, and the reason for this debate, the sustainable development office is to seek advice from the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, the SDAC, as part of its governance structure and its consultation and engagement process.

When we first started the debate, it was led off by the Conservatives, who came up with a beautiful little statement that they felt they were being misled by the Prime Minister. Incredibly enough, we were misled by the former primer minister, Stephen Harper, for he cancelled the national round table on the environment and the economy, the NRTEE, which was a Canadian advisory agency founded by the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in response to the 1987 United Nations document “Our Common Future”. The NRTEE focused on sustaining Canada's prosperity without borrowing resources from future generations or compromising their ability to live securely. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper ended funding to the NRTEE, which ceased to exist on March 31, 2013.

The national round table was an independent policy advisory agency of the Government of Canada. Its mandate was to raise awareness among Canadians and their governments about the challenges of sustainable development. Over 25 years it released dozens of reports on priority issues—forests, brownfields, infrastructure, energy, water, air, climate change, and more. It offered advice to governments on how best to consolidate and integrate the often divergent challenges of economic prosperity and environmental conservation. It brought together hundreds of leaders and experts with first-hand knowledge in a diversity of areas. Its members, appointed by the federal government, were active in businesses, universities, environmentalism, labour, public policy, and community life across Canada.

On March 21, 2013, the Conservative government, in the decade of darkness under Stephen Harper, eliminated the budget for the NRTEE, effectively ending it. The then environment minister initially offered the rationale that the funding was unnecessary because Canadians could at that time access climate change research through the Internet, universities, and think tanks.

However, in response to a question in the House of Commons, then foreign affairs minister John Baird said the government should not be funding the round table because it had issued a series of reports advocating a form of carbon pricing, which he said the people of Canada had repeatedly rejected. He said the round table should agree with Canadians and should agree with the government and should not offer independent advice.

The round table released several reports that concluded that the federal government would have to act more aggressively in order to reach its Kyoto protocol target of a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020.

On March 26, 2013, the then minister of the environment issued a directive preventing the round table from transferring its research and the contents of its website to Sustainable Prosperity, a national research network based at the University of Ottawa. Instead, he said, Environment Canada would lay claim to all previous work, which was promised to remain accessible to the public. However, the move appeared to leave the fate of the two unpublished documents on the history, role, and relationship of the round table to the government uncertain. These reflections of past leaders of the NRTEE were subsequently leaked and posted on the Internet.

It is important that under this legislation the Sustainable Development Advisory Council would play an important role by advising the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that is referred to it by the minister. More specifically, it would ensure that the government takes a whole-of-government view, seeking the advice and expertise of Canadians who reflect our country's diversity of background, ethnicity, age, gender, and circumstance.

Research indicates that several OECD member countries have a national sustainable development commission or council similar to our Sustainable Development Advisory Council. These councils often meet on an ongoing basis throughout the year.

Moreover, reforms to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council set out in Bill C-57 would enhance inclusiveness by increasing representation of indigenous peoples from three members to six, by clarifying that the Sustainable Development Advisory Council has a broad mandate to provide advice on sustainable development, and by enabling more effective engagement.

There are governance mechanisms already in place to ensure proper oversight of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. The additional provisions in clause 5 of Bill C-57 will help to ensure that the best possible advice and guidance is provided on issues that touch all Canadians.

I hope that all of us in the House can support our common desire to make decision-making related to development more transparent, promote coordinated action across the Government of Canada, and ensure we receive maximum benefit from the Sustainable Development Advisory Council based on expert advice using data and science.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand again in the House on behalf of my wonderful riding of Saint John—Rothesay and to have the privilege of addressing my colleagues and to reaffirm our government's commitment to sustainable development and future generations of Canadians.

Through Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, our government is working to ensure that decision-making related to sustainable development is more transparent, subject to accountability, and promotes coordination across the Government of Canada.

Let me begin by thanking the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their excellent work. It has culminated in a unanimous report calling on the government to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The committee's hard work was seminal in guiding the government in the development of Bill C-57.

Stable development is critically important not just in Canada, but across the world. By adopting the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, Canada will contribute to a global framework of action that strives for global sustainable development and aims to eradicate poverty and to leave no one behind. Nobody knows more about poverty and the fight against it than I do in my riding of Saint John—Rothesay.

Through its participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the historic Paris Agreement, Canada is also signalling a renewed global commitment to address climate change. Our government is making sure that Canada succeeds during the clean growth century and the shift toward cleaner, more sustainable growth.

It is in this global context that we find ourselves resolutely committed to ensuring that Canada is a sustainable development leader. That is why we are proposing amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act that will propel us along the path to a sustainable future.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Federal Sustainable Development Act, let me say a few words about its origins, what it is, and what it does, In particular, I want to discuss how the amendments in clause 5 regarding the Sustainable Development Advisory Council would strengthen accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness in developing future strategies and how they complement action we are already taking under our current federal sustainable development strategy, FSDS.

The original act was introduced as a private member's bill by the Hon. John Godfrey in November 2007. Sustainable development was seen as such an important issue that it received all-party support in the minority 39th Parliament.

The purpose of the current act is to provide a framework to develop and implement the federal sustainable development strategy to make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The act also sets out which departments are required to develop a departmental strategy in compliance with and contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy. In addition, the act outlines the requirements to consult on a draft strategy; to create an advisory council; and to table a strategy and progress report every three years.

A key outcome of the act is the development of the federal sustainable development strategy, which is the Government of Canada's flagship strategy on sustainable development. The strategy itself sets out Canada's sustainable development goals, targets, and implementation strategies to meet those targets.

The current federal sustainable development strategy is the strongest to date. It was developed using an inclusive, participatory approach aimed at engaging and involving all Canadians. We released a draft strategy in February 2016 and asked Canadians to share with us their vision for a sustainable Canada and to suggest how we could strengthen transparency and accountability.

The response was unprecedented. Canadians provided more than 540 written comments, 12 times the number of responses received by the previous strategy. On social media, Canadians contributed about 900 posts and replies on the draft strategy. Overall, the draft strategy reached more than 400,000 people over the course of the public consultation period. That is an outstanding response.

We heard from individual Canadians, who showed they are interested, engaged, and passionate about sustainable development. We also heard from provincial governments, indigenous organizations, industry, professional associations, academics, and environmental non-governmental organizations. We spoke with sustainable development advisory councils, with representatives from each province and territory, as well as members of indigenous groups, and organizations representing business and labour, and environmental non-governmental organizations, as I mentioned.

The strategy also benefited from the standing committee's review of the act and its recommendations. Evidence from the review included insightful testimony from witnesses, such as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, and the Hon. John Godfrey, the originator of the bill that became the act.

The current federal sustainable development strategy also demonstrates a more strategic and aspirational approach than others in the past. It contains more measurable and time-bound targets, including reduction of Canada's total GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 relative to 2005 emission levels. However, we felt we could go beyond improving the strategy, to improve the act itself. That is why, spurred by the standing committee's unanimous recommendations, our government introduced Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Our bill proposes a number of changes to the act. First, it amends the purpose of the Federal Sustainable Development Act, with a view to making decision-making related to sustainable development at large—not only environmental decision-making—more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The 2030 agenda makes it clear that sustainable development is not just about the environment, and the revised purpose recognizes this by proposing to remove the current emphasis on the environment.

The purpose also promotes co-ordinated action across the Government of Canada to advance sustainable development and respect for Canada's domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development. The amended act would therefore recognize the 2030 agenda, the Paris Agreement, and Canada's other international obligations that bear on the well-being of future generations of Canadians.

Bill C-57 also proposes the addition of numerous sustainable development principles. To the basic principle, the precautionary principle, already included in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the bill adds principles on intergenerational equity, openness and transparency, the importance of involving aboriginal peoples, collaboration, and results and delivery.

Let me say a few words about these principles that would guide the government's plans and actions on sustainable development. The principles emphasize that sustainable development is a continually evolving concept, and allow the government to address new and emerging issues within future strategies. They also highlight approaches the government should consider taking when developing sustainable development strategies. In particular, the principle of intergenerational equity is the essence of sustainable development. It recognizes that the decisions we make are not just about today, but also about tomorrow and far into the future. The principle of the polluter pays and the internalization of costs are also integral to sustainable development, in recognizing that we must go beyond thinking of economic growth in conventional terms and stop seeing environmental damages as externalities.

The principle of openness and transparency supports the Federal Sustainable Development Act's stated purpose to make the decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability in Parliament. The bill is about promoting a whole-of-government approach and increasing accountabilities under the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Bill C-57 would dramatically increase the number of federal organizations that are covered by the act, from the current 26 to over 90. This would truly make it a whole-of-government strategy.

I hope by highlighting some of the major features of the bill, members will agree it would help to push Canada along the path toward a more sustainable future for our children, for our grandchildren, and for their children after that. I am sure all members of the House would support that.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Lauzon LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

I would first like to thank the members of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development for their excellent work. We congratulate the committee members and the witnesses for their points of view and commitment to addressing the challenges of sustainable development in the federal government. The government supports the committee's positive approach and constructive ideas.

The committee's recommendations in its report “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations” include broadening the purpose and scope of the act, adopting well-accepted sustainable development principles, increasing the number of federal entities that prepare a sustainable development strategy, establishing criteria for the targets, improving enforceability, and engaging and empowering Canadians.

Not only were the committee's recommendations helpful in developing the bill, but the report and the recommendation played an important role in establishing the 2016-19 federal sustainable development strategy, the FSDS.

First, the strategy recognizes the role of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and its global sustainable development goals. In fact, the FSDS targets are a reflection of environment-related sustainable development goals. We drew inspiration from international sustainable development goals and other international commitments in order to develop more ambitious and measurable goals, and we made a clear commitment to the principles and the adoption of a whole-of-government approach.

Reflecting the committee’s comment that sustainable development goes beyond the environment, the strategy includes goals with strong social and economic dimensions, including clean growth, clean drinking water, sustainable food, and safe and healthy communities.

Second, the strategy addresses the committee's recommendation for strong targets and increased accountability by including more ambitious and measurable targets compared with the draft 2016-19 strategy and past strategies. For example, it establishes a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal government operations by 40% by 2030, which is significantly more ambitious than the draft strategy’s 30%-reduction target. It also reflects the government’s commitment to address long-term drinking water advisories in first nations communities, replacing a previous target that did not directly address drinking water safety or quality.

Third, reflecting the committee’s recommendation to include short-, medium-, and long-term targets, the strategy includes new short-term milestones that complement its long-term goals and medium-term targets. These milestones will help the government to gauge progress toward the strategy’s goals and targets and, if necessary, to make course corrections during the strategy’s three-year cycle.

Fourth, it responds to the committee’s recommendation for a suite of well-accepted sustainable development principles by providing a clear commitment to principles beyond the two set out in the act: the precautionary principle and the basic principle that sustainable development is based on an ecologically efficient use of natural, social and economic resources. These principles include polluter pays, reconciliation, intergenerational equity, public participation, and integration.

Fifth, reflecting the committee’s recommendation for a whole-of-government approach, the 2016-2019 strategy provides broader participation across the federal government than ever before. Fifteen federal departments and agencies participate voluntarily in the strategy in addition to the 26 required to do so under the act.

This brings the total number of departments and agencies to 41, which is 8 more than in 2013-2016. The committee's recommendations have already had an impact on the FSDS.

Now, I want to take a look at the amendments before us. The revised purpose of the bill includes respect for Canada's domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development, such as the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This new purpose will bring the strategy in line with Canada's future obligations and commitments, as well as the changing priorities and decisions related to sustainable development.

The bill also includes new sustainable development principles that will be added to the act. The new principles include prevention of pollution, intergenerational equity, openness and transparency, the involvement of aboriginal peoples, collaboration, a results and delivery approach, and the preservation of the basic principle of sustainable development and of the precautionary principle.

These principles set clear guidelines to help departments develop their own sustainable development strategies and draft an annual report on their actions and results to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and to the corresponding Senate committee. Furthermore, the government will continue to publish a whole-of-government progress report on FSDS, at least once every three years, which will highlight actions taken by participating ministers and agencies and their results.

We also believe that the government should be a leader, which is why we think the Treasury Board should step up and ensure that the Government of Canada's operations are environmentally sound. Leadership from central agencies will establish guiding principles on the federal government's environmental footprint, providing for an integrated, pan-governmental approach. This way, the government will lead the way on cutting emissions.

In addition, the changes proposed would increase the number of federal agencies from 26 to more than 90, extending the scope of the act to federal institutions and agencies that have a considerable ecological footprint, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the National Energy Board.

The principles of openness and transparency will be strengthened by encouraging the release of information to support accountability. The bill also proposes that interdepartmental evaluation mechanisms be put in place, including requiring federal ministers to report annually to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and the corresponding Senate committee. These committees will play a key role by forcing the government to account for its sustainable development results and monitoring the implementation of the act.

For example, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in particular will play a central role in holding the government accountable for sustainable development results. It may monitor the implementation of our overall approach and ask departments to account for their progress in achieving the FSDS targets. Several other amendments will help make the federal sustainable development strategy even stronger.

The committee also proposed enshrining the principle of intergenerational equity in the act. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development supports intergenerational equity. Amendments to the act will result in a reform of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Council members will take into account demographic considerations such as age and sex so that the council is more representative of diversity and Canadian society.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we support Bill C-57 and the sustainable development strategy. Throughout the member's speech, I heard a number of phrases used, such as quality of drinking water, pollution prevention, polluter pays, a results-based approach, and the precautionary principle. Those are all great, and Conservatives support them.

However, I asked twice already today in the House, and both times did not receive an answer, how to square the idea of these good principles, these great-sounding words, with the actions of the Liberal government on the protection of our water and drinking water. In November of 2015, the government approved the dumping of eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River in Montreal. One would think that was just a mistake it made, but again, in 2018, in Quebec City, another 43 million litres of raw sewage were dumped into the St. Lawrence River.

How can we use these great principles and good-sounding words but not follow them up with action that actually protects our environment?

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member who just spoke said that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. The official opposition, the Conservatives, completely agree. Contrary to popular belief, Conservatives do not wake up every morning plotting to destroy the planet. We did a lot for the environment in the past.

The principles of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, are commendable. Nobody can argue with the bill's intentions. However, now that we know how this government operates, we have serious doubts about its intention to respect our environment, set clear benchmarks, and make Canada more attractive to foreign investors so we can grow the economy while respecting the environment. I would point out that Canada has some of the strictest environmental standards. The previous government, under Mr. Harper, did a lot for the environment.

As I was saying, the bill's principles are commendable, but we have some serious concerns. The Liberals have been kind of inconsistent and seem to have trouble keeping their promises. People are losing confidence in the government, especially when it comes to the environment. To substantiate that claim, I would refer to the commissioner of the environment, who, in her recent reports, commented that she is very disappointed in the results but congratulated the former Conservative government on its actions. That reflects well on us. People should stop saying that Conservatives wake up every morning looking for ways to destroy the planet because that is totally false.

I would like to come back to the minister's mandate letter, which reads, and I quote:

Canadians sent a clear message in this election, and our platform offered a new, ambitious plan for a strong and growing middle class. Canadians expect us to fulfill our commitments...

We can already see that the government has fallen short, just from that section of the environment minister's mandate letter. It goes on to say, and I quote:

If we are to tackle the real challenges we face as a country—from a struggling middle class to the threat of climate change—Canadians need to have faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen.

If members read the news and keep up with current events, they will see that Canadians are losing confidence in this government, particularly when it comes to the environment. Fine words are all well and good, but the government also needs to be clear and consistent. It needs to keep its promises. However, the government is not doing what it said it would in the environment minister's mandate letter and in the mandate letters of many other government ministers. The ministers are not keeping their promises and they are not necessarily being honest in their actions. They want to look good, but when it comes right down to it, they are not keeping their word.

The mandate letter also says, and I quote:

It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them.

The Liberals have a lot of trouble doing that and they wait a long time to own up to their mistakes. The opposition is forced to draw attention to those mistakes day after day until the government realizes that it needs to reconsider. The Liberals are not even following the instructions they gave their ministers in their mandate letters. The letter goes on to say, and I quote:

Canadians do not expect us to be perfect...

We do not pretend to be perfect, either, but it is important to aim for perfection, and that is not what the people on the other side are doing. The letter continues:

...they expect us to be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.

Speaking of honesty and sincerity, let us talk about the marathon study of Bill C-69 that we just finished. I have the privilege to sit on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, which came under pressure to hurry up. All the members of the House were pressured to hurry up, preventing us from doing our work properly. Even the Liberals presented over 100 amendments. We were inundated with more than 30 briefs a day for a month.

Let us do the math. Is it humanly possible for an MP to do their work properly under such conditions? Furthermore, all of the witnesses who appeared before the committee were also hurried along. Very few of them got selected. The number of witnesses was capped. Many witnesses were disappointed not to speak. The avalanche of briefs we got shows how important this issue is to all the witnesses from across Canada. The problem with this process is that we are being made to rush just to get it over with. My personal impression is that the Liberals are following a political agenda. They are not really trying to protect the environment with Bill C-69.

They rushed us, they bulldozed through the process, and they made an omnibus bill. It is more than 650 pages long. I do not claim to be an expert, but most, if not all, of the experts who testified before the committee said they were deeply disappointed with this bill. The committee even heard from a university professor who suggested scrapping the bill and starting fresh. That says it all. That suggestion did not come from the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. It came from a specialist who studies the environment on a daily basis.

I come back to the mandate letter for the Minister of Environment, whom I respect greatly, but who is guided by political agendas and opportunities. Unfortunately, she has no control over what happens in her department.

In partnership with provinces and territories, establish national emissions-reduction targets, ensuring that the provinces and territories have targeted federal funding and the flexibility to design their own policies to meet these commitments, including their own carbon pricing policies.

That is not what the Liberals did. They imposed the carbon tax and then left it up to the people to figure it out and do what they wanted. They cannot even tell us how this is going to reduce greenhouse gases. Take Australia, for example. That country implemented a carbon tax, but that tax no longer exists in Australia because it was ineffective.

Let us look at British Columbia and see whether greenhouse gases are on the rise or on the decline. That province has a carbon tax.

I am committed to leading an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, brings our country together, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds.

Considering what I said earlier, I do not think I need to comment. My colleagues can draw their own conclusions. We have serious doubts.

In her report, the environment commissioner emphasized that the Liberal government has not succeeded, I repeat, has not succeeded in reducing greenhouse gas emissions or adapting to the effects of climate change. I am not the one saying this. This is not partisanship, it is the environment commissioner who said so. I have much more respect for her than for our friends across the aisle. The commissioner clearly indicated that the Liberals have made no progress in honouring Canada’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She confirmed that there was a lack of leadership in adapting to the effects of climate change. We should not be surprised.

In the last Parliament, we, the Conservative members of the House, implemented important measures that enabled us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We cut them by 15%. That is something. We did such a good job that the Liberals used our targets when they went to Paris to negotiate the Paris Agreement. They submitted the targets the Conservative government set when it was in power, and they applied them. They spent their time criticizing our work, but they used our tools.

I could say considerably more, but I will allow my colleagues to ask me questions.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Deb Schulte Liberal King—Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Specifically, I will discuss how the bill supports a results-oriented, accountable approach to federal sustainability. As chair of the environment committee, I also want to mention how the bill has incorporated many of the environment committee recommendations that were tabled as the first report of the committee, and a unanimous report, I might add, which is why today is so confusing with what is being brought forward.

I will begin by speaking about how the federal sustainable development strategy, or FSDS, supports accountability and transparency. Next, I will discuss the indicators that will be put in place to measure progress and how they will help demonstrate sustainable development results. Finally, I will describe how the amendments in Bill C-57 would strengthen accountability in future strategies and how they would complement action already being taken under our current FSDS. This includes clause 5, which seeks to ensure the federal government's approach better reflects Canada's diversity and its heritage.

The government has committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency, and that includes being transparent and accountable when it comes to the sustainable development results we achieve for Canadians. The FSDS that was tabled in October 2016 reflects this commitment. It provides the foundation for accountability by clearly defining what government wants to achieve.

At the core of the strategy, there are 13 aspirational goals, supported by measurable medium-term targets. The strategy identifies the federal minister responsible for achieving each of those targets.

The sustainable development goals and targets support the vision that Canada is one of the greenest countries in the world and that we want our quality of life to continue to improve. The goals reflect the environmental sustainable development goals of the United Nations 2030 agenda, aligning Canada's strategy with the priorities of the international community.

Responding to the expectations of Canadians and the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, the strategy includes stronger and more ambitious targets than previous strategies tabled in 2010 and 2013.

For the first time, short-term milestones have been included in the strategy. These milestones will help ensure we are on track to achieve our medium-term targets and our long-term goals.

I will now discuss how we are measuring progress on those strategies and communicating our results to parliamentarians, stakeholders, and Canadians.

Our strategy identifies a total of 46 indicators that will help us measure and report on our goals and targets. They are based on sound science and track Canada's progress on sustainable development issues about which Canadians care, such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, water quality, and our protected areas.

Many come from a network of environmental monitoring programs from across the country. These science-based programs deliver the data and information needed for the indicators. Many are founded on collaborative partnerships with provinces and territories, our partners.

For example, the air quality indicators report to Canadians on levels of five key air pollutants that can affect their health. These indicators use data from sources like the national air pollution surveillance program and a collaboration between Environment and Climate Change Canada and provincial, territorial, and municipal environmental agencies.

Similarly, the indicator on water quality in Canadian rivers uses data from federal, provincial, and territorial monitoring programs across Canada, as well as water quality guidelines from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and provincial and territorial sources.

Drawing on the indicators, the FSDS includes starting points so Canadians can closely track the government's progress over the strategy's three-year cycle. For instance, the strategy indicates that in 2014, 64.4% of Canada's electricity came from renewable sources and 80% from non-emitting sources. Canada's target is for 90% of our electricity to come from renewable and non-emitting sources by 2030, and 100% in the long term. As of 2015, 10.6% of Canada's terrestrial area was protected. Our target is 17% of lands and freshwater conserved by 2020. As the strategy is implemented, the government has already begun to report on the results.

The first-ever FSDS update was published in June 2017. The updates have provided early results for short-term milestones and show that a number of them have already been accomplished.

For example, Canada has ratified the historic Paris agreement. The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change has been adopted by first ministers of the federal government and the 11 provinces and territories, an achievement about which we should feel quite proud. We have surpassed our target of protecting 5% of Canada's marine and coastal areas by 2017.

Through the tabling of a whole-of-government FSDS progress report that will draw on the indicators, the government will continue to report on sustainable development progress.

I will now describe how accountability and reporting will be enhanced, including through the amendments in Bill C-57.

Following our review of the FSDA in the spring of 2016, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development recommended that the government take action to strengthen accountability under the act. The government listened and has responded. Bill C-57 includes a number of amendments to significantly strengthen reporting and ensure that the government can be held accountable for results.

The bill provides a comprehensive suite of well-accepted sustainable development principles to guide future strategies. This includes a principle that a results and delivery approach is key to meeting measurable targets. This new approach clarifies the importance of developing objectives, developing strategies for meeting them, and using indicators to report on progress.

Bill C-57 would also require that each FSDS target be measurable and include a time frame. This would ensure that future strategies could support rigorous performance measurement and reporting.

The bill also specifies that departments and agencies across government are responsible for contributing to the development of FSDS progress reports. Sustainable development is not something that one department working on its own can accomplish. It is a whole-of-Government approach with a broad range of federal organizations that must play a role in developing, implementing, and reporting on the strategy.

Our approach must also reflect the input and perspectives of all Canadians, not just the perspective of government. This is why clause 5 of the bill, which addresses the composition and mandate for the sustainable development advisory council, is so important.

Under Bill C-57, the sustainable development advisory council would play an important role by advising the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that would be referred to it by the minister. More specifically, it would ensure the government would take a whole-of-Canada view, seeking the advice and expertise of Canadians that would reflect our country's diversity of background, ethnicity, age, gender, and circumstance.

Clause 5 also seeks to increase the number of indigenous people representatives on the council to better reflect indigenous groups represented and the broad range of challenges they face across Canada. This directly supports our efforts to forge new relationships with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

The government recognizes the importance of a transparent and accountable sustainable development approach. It is important that parliamentarians hold the government accountable for sustainable development goals and progress, and the amendments in the bill would strengthen and elevate their role.

The bill would require that all federal organizations bound by the act report each year to parliamentary committees, including the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, on progress in implementing their sustainability strategies. We found it was important to make them accountable back. We do not want to have to wait for the auditor to tell us what is going on. These strategies comply with and contribute to the broader FSDS and support the whole-of-government approach.

With this FSDS, which is the strongest to date, the government established ambitious goals, targets, and milestones that would let Canadians know where we wanted to be on sustainable development.

The indicators show the progress being made, drawing on sound science and high-quality data from across the country. The indicators will help determine whether we are on track to meet the targets and where we need to focus our efforts to address remaining challenges. They also form the basis of the reporting to parliamentarians and Canadians.

Strengthening accountability was a key issue and it was in the unanimous second report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I am very proud of our recommendations, the government's adoption of the recommendations, and the new bill that we are discussing today.

Motions in amendmentFederal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here this afternoon speaking to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I last spoke in the House at length on this bill in October 2017. I am thankful for the opportunity to have served on the environment committee for a while and have wrapped myself around this topic quite well.

What does it mean, and what is its purpose? I am going to refer to a specific section:

The purpose of this Act is to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy that makes decision making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament, promotes coordinated action across the Government of Canada to advance sustainable development and respects Canada’s domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development, with a view to improving the quality of life of Canadians.

There is another factor in that section I want to read:

the principle that sustainable development is based on an efficient use of natural, social and economic resources and the need for the Government of Canada to integrate environmental, economic and social factors in the making of all of its decisions;

I bring that up, because I am going to dwell on that later in my speech.

Our Conservative Party recognizes that sustainability needs to be included in every decision to ensure that there is a balance between social, economic, and environmental factors. We have always believed in that. The record will show that we are the only government in the last decade and a half that has a record of improving greenhouse gas emissions.

This type of policy-making ensures not only that today's generation will have a healthy and prosperous lifestyle but that we can pass health and prosperity on to future generations to come: my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, Mr. Speaker, and everyone else's.

The importance of sustainable development is something on which all parties agree. I do not think anyone disagrees that we have to protect the environment or that the environment can survive on its own but industry cannot. It needs to protect the environment, and I believe we all believe this and will fight for it very hard. This is proven by the fact that the report from the environment committee was unanimous. Sustainable development is so important to the future of Canada and to our grandchildren that not only should environmental factors be considered, but we need to also consider the social and economic pillars that surround them.

If we go back almost 10 years, then minister John Baird, under the Conservative government, supported a Liberal member's private member's bill regarding the federal sustainability act. The bill was passed, and we followed the guidelines. We had positive results, better than I can say from the current government. The act declares that all government decision-making be reviewed through an environmental, economic, and social lens. I want to stress the social lens and the appropriate balance. That is a bit of a rub.

I had a great working career in the RCMP. I have lived near the energy sector in Alberta and British Columbia since around 1986. I also had the opportunity, nearly 20 years ago, to work directly in the oil and gas sector as a regulator, as an enforcer, for the Province of British Columbia after I retired. I have a pretty good understanding of what goes on in relation to oil and gas exploration in Canada and the way we protect the environment.

Part of my job was to make sure that companies out there were doing their job to protect the environment. I will stand in this House all day long and wave the fact that I think Canada—the provinces of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and even a little has been done in Ontario and Quebec—has the greatest, strongest environmental standards in the world, and we produce the cleanest energy, regardless of what it is, whether it is coal, oil, or gas. We have such strong, stringent regulations that we should be proud of that fact.

Twenty years ago, the B.C. government realized that industry was hampered, government was hampered, the public was hampered, and aboriginal communities were hampered by overregulation. Too many departments, having separate control, were all fighting and vying to do their part to protect the environment and the government and to regulate industry. What did the B.C. government do? Twenty years ago, it realized that it needed to hire one person to oversee it and one person to try to bring it back together, and it did.

If my numbers are correct, we got rid of one-third of the regulations. Industry prospered. We developed a really good working relationship with aboriginal communities. They could understand what was going on and could work with the government and industry because of the way the regulations were modernized and improved.

If we look at this bill, I believe it says that it would require more departments and more agencies to contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy. It would bring the total to more than 90, from the current 26. My God, look back at history, folks. It does not work. We have to modernize it and make it efficient, effective, and understandable so that everyone can work together. If we make it too big, the government cannot control it. If we make it too complicated, industry and the people involved, whether it is on private or aboriginal land, cannot understand it. Here we are with a new bill trying to increase it by over three times. Let us get this thing back to reality.

I am sorry that I am a little scattered. I was told about this about 20 minutes ago, so I came in here and wrote some notes down from what I remembered.

As I said earlier, the environment committee did a fantastic job, and it had a unanimous report on this. Conservative members on the environment and sustainable development committee supported the changes to the FSDS. They wanted to ensure, as did the Liberal and NDP members, that economic, social, and environmental considerations were accounted for by the Government of Canada. They wanted to make sure that happened. They wanted to ensure that the act included measurable targets and enforceability.

Measurable targets and enforceability are so important. We can throw out a handful of rules, but if we cannot enforce them and cannot ever make that number, why put them out there? Make it reasonable for all the people participating, whether it is the aboriginal community, people living in the area, industry, or government. If we all work together and can understand what we are all doing together, we can accomplish a lot together.

My friend from the Northwest Territories understands what I am talking about when I talk about finding an appropriate balance between the environment, the economy, and their lives. We can get everything to work together, but we must make it balanced.

I am thankful for the opportunity to speak. I have more to say. I could probably have gone on another 10 minutes.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I will be sharing my time with the member for Whitby.

I would like to speak about an issue in relation to Bill C-57 that is really important, not just to all Canadians but to many of my Pontiac constituents. There are a great number of Pontiac residents who work as public servants within the federal civil service. Many of them, across all departments, recognize the importance of the federal government, as a whole, contributing to a greater degree to achieving our sustainable development objectives. It is for this reason that I rise with great pleasure today. It is important that we have a discussion about what the federal government can do as an entity to better the outcomes toward sustainable development. Whether it is with regard to climate change or a reduction in the use of toxic substances, this is an important issue in my riding.

Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, was introduced in the House on June 19, 2017 by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. It amends the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which has been in effect since 2008, and seeks to broaden the scope of that act, make the process for developing the federal sustainable development strategy more transparent, and increase accountability to Parliament.

The first thing that has to be said is that this Federal Sustainable Development Act is important, because it helps create a federal sustainable development strategy. To many Canadians, this is internal business of the government, and it is, but it is business that reflects the interests of all Canadians. If one considers how many buildings are operated by the federal government, how many cars are purchased by the federal government, and what kinds of procurement decisions are made by the federal government, one can see just how important and how impactful a federal sustainable development strategy can be.

The Act requires federal departments and agencies to prepare their own sustainable development strategies. Each strategy must contain the department or agency's objectives and plans, comply with and contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy, and be appropriate to the department or agency's mandate.

The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development is responsible for monitoring and reporting on the progress of departments and agencies in implementing their strategies.

This is a perfect example of how Parliament works under a Liberal government. In spring 2016, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development conducted an assessment of the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

This standing committee study was a perfect example of how Parliament can work when there is collaboration among different parties. This was actually the very first piece of work I had the privilege of being involved in with the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I would like to take this opportunity to commend my colleagues on the opposite side, both Conservative and New Democratic, and there was also some good input from our Green colleague, for working together in recognition of the fact that the Federal Sustainable Development Act is not a perfect law. One of the reasons it is not a perfect law is that, as I mentioned, it was in fact passed in 2008 as a private member's bill. The law itself did not emerge as a government bill back in 2008, and it needed some updating. Parties worked together in this committee and came forward with some really interesting proposals for reform. I should add that these proposals were unanimously agreed upon, and they were tabled here in the House by the chair of our committee.

This is the result of a positive process, a process the Minister of Environment and Climate Change clearly took note of. She herself responded very positively to our report. That is why we see Bill C-57, which reflects a number of the amendments proposed by our committee.

Our assessment revealed various weaknesses in the current process for developing and implementing the federal sustainable development strategy. The committee's report contained 13 recommendations to correct these weaknesses. The minister agreed, on behalf of the federal government, to propose changes to improve the act's effectiveness and the federal government's performance in sustainable development.

The bill makes more federal entities subject to the act. From now on, the act will apply to all designated entities, meaning all of the departments, agencies, and agents of Parliament named in schedule I.1 to the Financial Administration Act, and all departmental corporations listed in schedule II to that act.

We are talking about a much broader application of the Federal Sustainable Development Act, and that is a very positive development.

First, the legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy must now increase the transparency of federal decision making in relation to sustainable development rather than to the environment.

Second, the sustainable development strategy must now promote coordinated action across the Government of Canada to advance sustainable development and respect Canada’s domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development, with a view to improving the quality of life of Canadians.

The bill lists a number of principles that must be considered in the development of sustainable development strategies.

In addition to the principle that decisions are to integrate environmental, economic and social factors, the bill adds the principle of integenerational equity, the precautionary principle, the polluter pays principle, the internalization of costs, openness and transparency, the involvement of Aboriginal peoples, collaboration and a result-based approach.

I will have a few more things to say about the issue of principles in this bill, and I will come back to that momentarily.

There will also be improvements to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. The bill sets out the role of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, which is to advise the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that is referred to it by the minister. The bill also changes the council’s membership by increasing the number of aboriginal representatives from three to six, and adds a provision calling on the minister to ensure that, to the extent possible, the council’s membership reflects the diversity of Canadian society.

The bill amends the way in which designated federal entities develop their own sustainable development strategies and report on their progress. Under the new provisions, the Treasury Board may establish policies and directives regarding the environmental impact of the operations of designated entities, and designated entities must take these policies and directives into account when preparing their sustainable development strategies.

Lastly, the bill authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations prescribing the form and content of the sustainable development strategies of designated entities. The Governor in Council may also, by order, add or remove entities from the list of designated entities subject to the act.

The bill adds a new provision requiring a review of the act by a parliamentary committee—a House of Commons, Senate, or joint committee—every five years following the coming into force of the bill, which is a worthwhile initiative.

One aspect that makes this bill touch down is that it goes to how each department is going to become more sustainable in its everyday operations. For example, when departments like Global Affairs Canada make a commitment to buy more eco-friendly cars, hybrid or electric vehicles, or Heritage Canada commits to establishing electric recharge stations at Terrasses de la Chaudière, these are concrete measures. We need our departments to concretely make advances so that we can achieve sustainable development.

If there is one thing I would like to conclude with, it is simply that I look forward to a discussion before our standing committee during clause-by-clause, because there are aspects of this bill that can be improved, notably with regard to the addition of additional principles. However, all in all, I think the Minister of Environment is to be commended for this bill.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Madam Speaker, I am proud to stand here today to speak to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

I want to thank the House Standing Committee on Environmental and Sustainable Development for the recommendations for legislative amendments to strengthen the act.

In October 2016, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change agreed with the recommended amendments, and committed to report back within one year on action taken. The bill responds to the committee's recommendations by shifting the focus of the Federal Sustainable Development Act from planning and reporting to results, and increasing the accountability of departments and agencies for setting and achieving ambitious sustainable development targets.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, I understand that the 2030 agenda on sustainable development is the defining global framework of our time. I am glad that Canada is fully committing to the agenda, both at home and abroad.

It is here that I will start with an example of how Canada is achieving these sustainable development goals, the SDGs, worldwide.

In January, I had an opportunity to visit Ghana. Through the work of the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, administered by a local Ghanian non-governmental organization, A Rocha, it aims to empower community members, especially women, to sustainably manage their own mangrove resources, resulting in productive and profitable fisheries, coastal ecosystem conservation, and improved resilience and rural livelihoods. This project operates in two small communities in the coastal town of Winneba, Ghana, and seeks to build resilience against climate change and promote a sustainable multi-land use approach for the management of the mangrove ecosystems. It also works with women's groups to build their capacity, and the capacity of their members, for businesses and within the value chain. Finally, the project aims to restore the ecological integrity of degraded mangrove stands and the adjacent ground that surrounds them.

Often we think of development in terms of developing countries versus developed countries—it is here versus there—but in order to achieve the 17 goals and 169 targets, we need to work together. The interconnectivity of the sustainable development goals, the SDGs, forces us to work across country borders, and, of course, here at home across provincial borders as well. The ability to work together is best demonstrated through our young people.

In early June, I had the pleasure of meeting 40 children in grades three to 11 from Toronto and Niagara, through Millennium Kids. They presented me with gift boxes representing the SDGs that showed how the goals apply both at home and abroad. Millennium kids are interested in Canada's funding for development, its plan to implement SDGs, and building greater awareness for the SDGs. Young people, like those in Millennium Kids, will most be affected by the actions we take today, the actions we take to tackle the problems that face our world, including climate change. Their concerns should be our concerns. I am glad to see this legislation providing a roadmap toward solving the problem that will affect our youth for years to come.

Residents in my town of Whitby and the region of Durham understand as well that the changes we face can be summarized by warmer, wetter, and wilder weather. Durham's community climate adaptation plan includes 18 proposed programs that address local adaptation measures within Durham region. Since much of Durham's physical infrastructure was built in the 1950 to 2000 period, it was designed to be resilient to the climate in that period. The region understands that this climate no longer exists. Therefore, we not only need to upgrade our infrastructure to make it more resilient to the climate of the present, but to look ahead to see how we could build resiliency within our communities. Even within our small towns like Whitby, we are taking the necessary precautions to build a more resilient community.

On October 6, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change stood in this House and defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. I am glad that Bill C-57 includes an expanded set of sustainable development principles, including pollution prevention and intergenerational equity, the important principle that comes to mind when I think of the millennium kids and the residents of Whitby. Canadians of all ages have clearly told us that they want a sustainable future for Canada. This bill clearly shows that sustainable development and the environment are top of mind and a major priority for our government going forward.

In the time that I have remaining, I would like to demonstrate how our government has already proven, in the work that we have done so far, how we have committed to these 17 sustainable development goals. There is more that we can do, but we are building on a track record, and one that is positive.

On goal number one and goal number two, no poverty and zero hunger, we are developing a poverty reduction strategy. We have introduced legislation such as the Canada child benefit that will lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty and will give more money to nine out of 10 families.

When we look at goal number three, good health and well-being, we have made a commitment of $5 billion to ensure the mental well-being of our young people under the age of 25.

Goal number four is quality education. We are making it easier for adults to go back to school, boost their skills, and get new certification by expanding Canada student grants. We are creating thousands of new work and co-op opportunities so that people can have the skills they need to have a good quality of life.

Goal number five, which is central to my work within international development, is gender equality. We led by example with a gender-balanced cabinet. Budget 2017 was the first ever budget to include a gender statement. The Minister of International Development and La Francophonie delivered the most ambitious feminist international assistance policy, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs ensured that all our trade policies include gender equality.

Goal number six is clean water and sanitation. Our commitment to eliminate boil water advisories is something that remains top of mind for our government.

I could go on. Goal number eight is decent work and economic growth. We have recently announced that we are reducing the small business tax rate for small and medium-sized enterprises, ensuring that they are able to grow and create good-paying jobs.

Goal number nine takes into consideration the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. He has just announced the creation of a supercluster, which is a business-led initiative, partnering with SMEs, large businesses, small businesses, and academia.

I would like to end on what I think is one of the most essential of the sustainable development goals, which is goal number 17, around partnerships. Canada has been very diligent in ensuring that we are creating the necessary partnerships around the world with businesses, academia, with other neighbouring countries. As part of that, Jamaica, which is in the Caribbean, and Canada, have formed a group of friends looking at ways to explore how we are going to finance the SDGs. We have to think about our sustainable development in a broad context. We have to think about how we can all work together to not only communicate the goals of sustainable development but also ensure that we achieve them without leaving anyone behind.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

I had the pleasure of serving as vice-chair of the environment committee when we studied the Federal Sustainable Development Act, a study that has resulted in some of the amendments before us today.

As had been noted before, the original act was an opposition private member's bill that was passed in 2008 under our previous Conservative government. Our Conservative Party recognized that sustainability needs to be included in every decision to ensure a balance between social, economic, and environmental factors. This type of policy-making ensures not only that today's generation will have a healthy and prosperous lifestyle but that we can pass health and prosperity on to future generations to come. I have 11 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. I am very proud of them. I want them to have a good life, as I have had. I want them to enjoy what I have enjoyed travelling throughout this great country of ours. I want them to appreciate the beauty of this land.

The importance of sustainable development is something on which all parties agree. This is proven by the fact that the report by the environmental committee was unanimous. While we are on that, a number of the aboriginal witnesses who came, from coast to coast to coast, to give evidence at committee also agreed that it was very important for them to be involved and that sustainable development was part of the agreement made between Canada and the aboriginal community.

Sustainable development is important to the future of Canada and our grandchildren. Not only should environmental factors be considered but social and economical pillars should be considered. For example, the National Energy Board's mandate is to promote safety and security, environmental protection, and economic efficiency in Canada's public interest and the regulation of pipelines, energy development, and trade. This ensures that Canada's pipelines are built to protect our environment while they create jobs and get our oil to foreign markets. This is one of the reasons the National Energy Board gives compliance conditions to companies, with literally hundreds of conditions on the list.

Given the board's commitment, as well as the commitment of companies, to build safe pipelines in Canada, it baffles me why the Liberal government has found it so hard to make progress on pipelines, such as the now dead energy east pipeline and the gridlocked northern gateway pipeline.

Our party is committed to sustainable development, because it is about protecting our kids and grandchildren. However, it seems that the current government is having a hard time implementing any of its policies.

In a recent report titled “Departmental progress in implementing sustainable development strategies”, tabled by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the minister and her government were given failing grades in applying a cabinet directive. The directive requires federal departments and agencies to consider environmental concerns early in the planning of policy and program proposals before making irreversible decisions. The commissioner concluded that the directive has not been applied to almost 80% of the proposals, which is a clear failure by the Liberals. If the Liberals were in school, they would not have received a passing mark and probably would not have gone on to the next grade because of such a failure. The same thing applies in 2019. This is a one-term government. It has failed Canadians and the environment.

In another report, titled “Progress on Reducing Greenhouse Gases”, the commissioner concluded that the minister's department did not make progress toward meeting Canada's commitment to reducing greenhouse gases. Just before me, the hon. member for York—Simcoe talked about the Lake Simcoe project and Ladies of the Lake. He asked that we judge the Liberals on what they have done and not on the talk they are giving. The Liberals are all about talk and no action.

I find it hard to believe when the Liberal government says it is championing sustainable development and protecting the environment. According to the last surveys, the Liberals are not doing that. They are not doing any of that, nor are they protecting Canadian jobs in the process. With all this considered, it concerns me how the government is planning to protect future generations, not to mention the mountains of debt that the government is piling on our grandchildren, or the massive new taxes being proposed. Liberals really need to rethink their policy.

Liberals always say they have a plan, but we never see any action on that plan. It makes sense that economic, social, and environmental priorities be advanced through an integrated whole-of-government approach. We cannot advance one of these priorities while ignoring the others. This brings me to a point where I have a lot of concern. During the past break week, Parks Canada announced a hunt in Jasper Park. It was allowing aboriginals from B.C. to go into the park and hunt deer, elk, and sheep. No one was told about this until it slipped out that they were allowed to go into a designated area to shoot. Many of my hunting and fishing constituents are very upset about us taking animals from our national parks.

We cannot advance one of these priorities while ignoring the others, yet this is exactly what the Liberal government did in allowing a hunt in our national parks. It did not take everything into consideration. Canadians expect that their government will consider all three priorities when designing policy and legislation. I do not believe that last week the Liberals took all those priorities into consideration. They were trying to please a small group of Canadians and ignored the interests, economic viability, and the environment in doing so.

The Liberals seem to forget about the economic aspect. If we are going to allow hunting in our parks, one of the largest attractions in our national parks are the animals. When I travel through the national park going to Jasper, which is in my riding, I love to stop on the side of the road and look at the elk and deer. In fact, I feed approximately 15 deer in my yard every winter. I love watching them in front of the house, and they stay there during the day. It costs me a little money, but I believe I am helping the environment and I am helping the deer.

We have a government that is allowing people to go into our national parks and to hunt there just to meet some of the Liberals' ideas. They think they are doing the right thing. However, they are not consulting with all the groups that should be consulted. I know that many people working within the parks were very upset when this was brought to their attention only days before the hunt started.

Instead of considering the economic component, the government has completely neglected our economy and the importance of small businesses across Canada. As Conservatives, we have confidence in the private sector and small and large businesses. They all contribute to the prosperity of this country, and they should be encouraged rather than punished for the risk they take. The government's approach to sustainable development and its policies seems very lopsided from the economic factors.

I was extremely disappointed this summer when I learned what the government proposed to do with the tax changes for corporations. I was very sad to hear two weeks ago about the cancellation of the energy east pipeline. Why? It is over-regulated. Liberals changed the regulations midstream, making it economically not viable for the company to proceed.The government is throwing in rules and regulations to make it not economically viable to retrieve natural resources from this country that help our economy, help develop jobs, and so on.

I have heard from small business owners, farmers, nurses, doctors, and accountants from all over my riding of Yellowhead, who tell me that the tax changes would endanger their businesses and family farms. In my riding of Yellowhead, which is in Alberta, the effective tax rate on investment income could be well over 70%, and new capital gains rules would make it more expensive to pass down a family farm then to sell it to a third party.

I was serving at a farmers appreciation breakfast on Saturday in the community of Wildwood. A couple of people came to me who were very concerned about their children taking over the family farm. They are third generation, and their fourth generation wants to take over the farm, but they are terrified by this tax. They are not sure which way to go, whether they should sell it to an outside concern or see their children struggle to try to buy it due to the unfair tax system that the Liberal government is planning.

A just and fair tax system should reward success and reasonable risk-taking. Most small business people take a tremendous amount of risk.

My son-in-law is a small businessman. He has a small oil company in the town of Edson. He has been successful. His company has grown. He employs over 100 people during the winter months. He is taking a large financial risk to employ these 100 people and to increase the economy of the town of Edson, the riding of Yellowhead, the province of Alberta, and the economy of Canada. He takes the risk, yet the government across from us wants to punish him for taking that risk. If he makes a little extra money and puts it aside, the government wants to punish him and take it. The government wants to tax it, up to 73%. Is that fair?

Going forward, I hope the government will honestly consider sustainable development throughout its departments when drafting new proposals. Again I go back to the commissioner's report, which said that the government failed. There are 80% of departments that did not comply with what they were asked to do. That is alarming. It is a total failure.

One of the amendments to Bill C-57 would require more departments and agencies to contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy, bringing the total to 90 departments and agencies. That is a lot of departments. Currently, only 26 departments are affected.

The bill would also require them to prepare strategies and to table progress reports on their implementation. If we go by today's figures, a failure rate of 80%, only about 18 departments out of 90 would possibly do what they are supposed to do. That would be if we follow what has been happening over the last two years with the government. That is sad statistical data.

We cannot continue to be so short-sighted in policy-making that we rack up billions of dollars in debt, and yet the Liberal government is doing exactly that. When the Liberals were elected, they said they would have a small deficit of about $10 billion, but that grew to well over $30 billion in the first year and the second year. We will probably be shocked at what it will be in the third year, but we have to wait and see.

I have four children, and we taught them when they got their first credit cards that they should not accumulate long-term debt in exchange for short-term unnecessary spending. We taught them not to spree and buy things they cannot really afford, that it might be nice to have a credit card, but if they cannot pay for them, not to buy. The current Liberal government is not setting a good example for my grandchildren; your grandchildren, Madam Speaker; the grandchildren of the secretary of state across there; and the hon. member directly across from me whose son is in the RCMP and is going to have to pay. We need to be cognizant of the money that the government is spending.

However, let us remember one thing. Sustainable development is a requirement in this country. This is an energy-producing country, and whether mining companies, oil companies, or gas companies, if a sitting government puts numerous hurdles in front of them that make it impossible for the companies to do economic research and development, where is the money going to come from to pay the bills of the government? Right now, the Liberals are blocking that. The oil and gas sector was one of the largest contributors to Canada's economy, and the Liberals have made it virtually impossible to take the natural products from the earth, the oil and gas in the provinces of B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan, and get them to an international market. The government members across think it is all right that we can just ship it down to the United States and we should be happy with that. That is one market. It is a big brother that controls us pretty hard. Will we get fair world prices on our oil and gas products? The country of Canada would be much better off if we could get our products, especially the oil and gas, to our coastal ports. Whether it be the east coast or the west coast, or even into the James Bay area, it would make it very reasonable.

We heard discussions yesterday about the ban on oil tankers on the west coast of British Columbia. We heard people standing up across from us, over to our left, talking about how unsafe it was to have oil tankers on the west coast of British Columbia. Under the pressure of the current sitting Prime Minister, they want to put a ban on oil tankers on the west coast. It is so bad, but it is okay on the east coast. Yesterday, one of the Liberal members was talking about how bad it was. I explained that when they go up the inlet into Stewart, which is about 130 or 140 miles, the line goes up the centre, so on one side of the inlet they can have a tanker, and on the other half they cannot. The Liberals are trying to tell us, logistically, that it is unsafe on one half of the inlet but it is okay on the other half. This is the logic that the current government is passing on. When we go back to the commissioner, and I brought her up a few times, it is obvious that same logic is being passed down hill to our bureaucrats, because we failed.

The Liberals have not reduced greenhouse gases one bit since they have been in government. I can stand here and say that when the Conservatives were in government, we did decrease carbon gases, in transportation and in coal-fired energy. They cannot say that. It is a failing mark. It is easy to talk, but when we walk the talk, it is much more difficult. Our former Conservative governments walked the talk. The current government just talks the talk, and there is no form of action.

Therefore, I am looking forward to this bill moving to the committee stage, so that it can be studied more and have more input and more evidence received.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise this afternoon to speak to the debate on the amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

The concept of sustainable development is not new in Canada. There have been a number of reports and bills on this topic. Sustainable development was first set as a goal in 1995 as part of the amendments to the Auditor General Act, which sought to create the position of commissioner of the environment within the Office of the Auditor General.

We have had laws on the books for some time that make sustainable development a goal of the Government of Canada. As I mentioned, since 1995 and the Auditor General Act, we have had a commissioner for environment and sustainable development to review government policies. We have also had federal sustainable development strategies. Since 2008, we have had this law, the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Canada has a long engagement with the term “sustainable development”. I want to retrace those steps briefly.

The term “sustainable development” was first used in 1987 in the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. This report was generally referred to as the “Brundtland Report” because it was a world commission of primarily people who had some role in political life. Gro Harlem Brundtland was prime minister of Norway at the time, which gave this UN effort quite a lot of prestige. She started out as chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development as leader of the opposition party in Norway. Quite extraordinarily, she stayed committed to this process. When the government fell, she became prime minister of Norway and continued as chair of the process.

Two notable Canadians participated in this process. One was the Canadian member of the commission itself, Maurice Strong, who I met at the time in the late 1980s when I was working for the minister of environment. The federal Government of Canada, at that time, under the leadership of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, played a significant role in helping to fund the work of the work of the Brundtland commission.

More significant with respect to the creation of the term sustainable development, the man who held the pen in writing “Our Common Future”, the report of the Brundtland commission, became one of my very best friends, Jim MacNeill. He passed away a little more than a year ago. He was secretary-general to the World Commission on Environment and Development. He is the only person I know to have written a bestselling book without his name on the cover.

“Our Common Future” sold in many languages and sold around the world. It put in place the goal that in order to ensure countries and people, including Canada, who lived in poverty, could be raised out of poverty and at the same time limit the damage done by a consumerist industrialized society in destroying our environment, we needed to ensure that we developed to lift people out of poverty but do it in a way that did not destroy the life chances of peoples around the world, and particularly future generations.

The goals of the sustainable development strategies as put forward by the Brundtland commission rested on three legs, not two. It was not merely environment and development, but environment, development, and peace to which the Brundtland report directed its attention. It called for a limiting of military spending, attention to the need to end wars, and to end the environmental damage of the military industrial complex.

By the time the Brundtland commission report went to the United Nations General Assembly, the goals of peace and non-violence and ending military spending were set aside. It was the Brundtland commission report's recommendations around sustainability that led to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The acceptance of the framework convention on climate change and our entire agenda on fighting global warming by reducing greenhouse gases can all be traced back to this document from 1987 written by Jim MacNeill and endorsed by world leaders.

The term sustainable development in the Brundtland commission report is the one that more or less appears in Bill C-57. There were a number of definitions, in fairness, within the Brundtland commission report entitled “Our Common Future”. The one that seemed to achieve the most salience, which appears in somewhat changed form as a principle within a number of principles in this revised act is the following.

The principle of sustainable development is based on the ecologically efficient use of natural, social, and economic resources and the need for the Government of Canada to take environmental, economic, and social factors into consideration in every decision it makes.

That is a slight change, as we can see from the Brundtland definition, which was that sustainability and sustainable development required that the current generation develop in ways that did not jeopardize the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, the intergenerational equity piece was very strong.

Intergenerational equity then appears in the second part of principle 5 under this act, “that it is important to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. In taking this forward, the act has broken apart in two pieces, but I do not think it has done damage to the concept.

The principle of sustainable development was taken forward by the Government of Canada and we became one of the leaders of the world in operationalizing the Brundtland commission report when we put in place the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. This was the primary mechanism of the Government of Canada in ensuring sustainability. It was brought in under former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The act on which it was based was repealed in Bill C-38 in the spring of 2012 in the omnibus budget bill bulldozed through by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I do not know how many people even remember that is how the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy was eliminated, because that bill touched over 70 different laws and ran to over 400 pages. People could be forgiven for forgetting the various pieces and how they bulldozed forward.

This piece of legislation comes at a good time.

On October 3, 2017, Julie Gelfand, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development in the Office of the Auditor General, released a very serious report. She said it is clear that this government, like its predecessors, has no chance of meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets. Here it is in her words:

Climate change is one of the defining issues of this century. It will require a whole of government approach. It's time to move from planning to action.

Clearly, time is of the essence. The Government of Canada and all of the people on this planet are in an emergency situation because climate change grows worse by the day and we are still without an action plan to reduce greenhouse gases. However, we do have targets, and I think we also have the will to meet them. I think this government's desire to reduce greenhouse gases is genuine, but the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development made it clear that there has been too much talk and not enough action.

If we had a sustainable development strategy that was working, that touched all aspects of government, we would have a response to the single greatest threat to our future in climate change.

This bill, which I support, creates an opportunity that perhaps is more significant than members in this place realize as we debate this bill and take it forward to committee. The opportunity is here. Again I want to thank the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for its report in June of 2016. Most of the committee's recommendations were unanimous, and are coming forward in this bill. I will pause to note some that are not.

However, the committee did good work after having heard from many witnesses. One witness, who I am very proud to say is also my constituent, is one of Canada's leading experts in environment and sustainable development. Professor David Boyd described the current bill as a disaster.

I want to go back and say, as I did in earlier questions and comments, that the sustainable development bill that came forward in 2008 was based on a private member's bill from a member of the opposition, a Liberal member of Parliament, a former cabinet minister in the government of the former prime minister Paul Martin, a very dedicated parliamentarian who was very committed to climate action, and a dear friend of mine.

I mean no criticism of the Hon. John Godfrey when I say that the current bill is too weak. He had to get a private member's bill in 2007 in the time of a minority Parliament where the prime minister was Stephen Harper, the minister of environment was the Hon. John Baird, and there was tremendous co-operation to get this bill through before John Godfrey resigned from Parliament. It was a tremendous effort and success. We got a sustainable development act, but it did not call on the government to adopt a whole-of-government approach. The strategies around sustainable development were essentially environment strategies.

I also want to share this with the members of this place. We are told to get Christmas card designs in to the House of Commons print shop to receive free Christmas cards to send to all our constituents. However, I want to warn members that they will not be on recycled paper. Members might think that, having had a sustainable development strategy act since 2008, something as basic as the Parliament of Canada having Christmas cards on 100% post-consumer waste card stock would not be a current issue of concern. I hate to tell members this, but by ordering Christmas cards through the free available Christmas card stock, it is not from recycled paper.

It is virgin non-recycled paper.

I know that all of us would rather have our Christmas cards go out on recycled paper. That is a basic thing, as well as that the parliamentary dining room would serve seafood that does not come from an endangered species, and does not contaminate coastal waters because it is farmed salmon. I have written to the Board of Internal Economy and to the Speaker about this. I tried over the years to figure out how to control the decision-making by the wonderful staff in the terrific parliamentary dining room. The chef is wonderful and I do not mean to criticize. However, the staff does not have the scope to ensure that they can spend the money on ethical seafood for parliamentarians and their guests. Therefore, one has to be very careful when looking at the menu.

One would think these are basics for the Government of Canada, having had a sustainable development strategy since 2008. I do not think Canadians would be surprised to find that it had not radically reformed our attitude towards fossil fuels. Members might have hoped the strategy could do the little stuff, such as use recycled paper for Christmas cards, have ethical seafood in the parliamentary dining room, and not allow cars to idle outside Parliament Hill. That was a role, by the way, put in place by former speaker John Fraser when he was Speaker of the House in a document called “Greening the Hill” in which he required recycled paper, no idling of cars, and no use of pesticides on parliamentary lawns. That one is still in place. I hope what this bill does is to ensure the little stuff is done. More than that, it is my hope that some of the large goals can be achieved based on the changes in this act.

What are the places where we are looking at sustainable development now globally in 2017? Our biggest challenge is the sustainable development goals that were adopted by the United Nations in September 2015.

There are 17 sustainable development goals, and they have within them 169 specific targets to be achieved by 2030. They include such things as taking care of oceans, and a specific goal of stopping the dumping of plastics in our oceans. They include eliminating poverty. They include education for women and girls. These are broad and critical sustainable development goals, all 17 of them, and they apply domestically to industrialized countries, just as they apply globally, and create pressure for industrialized countries to do more in official development assistance to lift all people of this planet out of poverty. We can do it, we have the resources to do it, and that is a sustainable development goal.

I should also mention rights of indigenous peoples. In the Brundtland report, “Our Common Future”, it is very clear that an essential aspect of sustainable government are rights of self-determination for indigenous peoples. Therefore, I would submit to the House that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is part and parcel of the sustainable development goals, which are now called the SDGs of the United Nations system.

I will now return to Bill C-57 that we are debating.

I like the “Purpose” language under the act:

The purpose of this Act is to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy that makes decision making...more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament, promotes coordinated action across the Government of Canada to advance sustainable development and respects Canada’s domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development, with a view to improving the quality of life of Canadians.

The international piece is important here as well.

I do not think there is a single department of the Government of Canada that will not find itself challenged to take these principles on board seriously, develop a strategy, and report to Parliament. These principles now include: openness and transparency; indigenous engagement; intergenerational equity; and social, economic, and environmental sustainability. These are all positive changes.

However, there is one change that I find problematic, and that is the deletion of the requirement under the previous act of performance-based contracts, which is found in section 12 of the act as it exists right now. It reads:

Performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada shall include [which is mandatory language] provisions for meeting the applicable targets referred to in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy

The parliamentary committee makes a reference to the performance-based contracts but does not suggest that the section be deleted. It suggests that it be given more specificity and applied to more entities. Therefore, I find it a little disturbing that, having done such a good job overall in drafting amendments to Bill C-57, performance-based contracts are removed. One of my law professors used to refer to something like this as having a lot of “weasel words”. This is now replaced with proposed section 10.1 under “Power of Treasury Board”.

10.1 The Treasury Board may establish policies or issue directives applicable to one or more of the designated entities in relation to the environmental impact of their operations.

In other words, that proposed section is a big fat nothing compared to the performance-based contracts section that exists in the current act. Therefore, I certainly will be taking amendments forward to committee, when the bill goes to committee, in hopes of preserving the existing section 12 for performance-based contracts.

Overall, Bill C-57 cannot come too soon. Sustainable development has been on the lips of Canadian politicians, who did not have any idea what it really meant, for decades now. If we are serious about this, it is about equity between a wealthy, industrialized country like Canada, and people who are the poorest of the poor living on this planet right now with us: our human family.

It is also about equity in intergenerational terms. I am a grandmother, but I do not have the right, nor anyone in our baby boom generation that just had a great big party since the end of the Second World War, to leave the ecological damages and ecological debt on our kids' credit cards. We do not have the right to deprive children born today of their access to a healthy and sustainable biosphere to live out their lives without fear of annihilation.

We are on the cusp of the last moment we can save this place. Let us get this bill to committee, and let us get a climate change plan under way immediately.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2017 / 10 a.m.
See context

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

moved that Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to speak about Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. This is an important step toward realizing our government's vision that Canada be one of the greenest countries in the world and that our quality of life continue to improve.

I am proud today to speak about C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. This is an important step toward fulfilling our government's vision of making Canada one of the greenest countries in the world and ensuring that our quality of life continues to improve.

As I will explain, the amendments in the bill clearly show that sustainable development and the environment are at the forefront of our thinking and that our government's decision-making going forward will reflect this. I will discuss how these amendments would increase transparency and enable a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development, building on the current act and its implementation.

I will talk about the contributions of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development and how the amendments would respond to them. Finally, I will describe how the bill would support an ongoing conversation with indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and all Canadians about sustainability and the environment.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge all the people who have helped to lay the foundation for the bill. First, I want to thank the chair and the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, as well as the witnesses who appeared before them during the committee's recent review of the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The committee's second unanimous report, “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”, provided insights and recommendations that were instrumental in shaping the amendments.

I want to thank the hon. John Godfrey for bringing forward the original private member's bill that became the FSDA, establishing the foundation for a federal sustainable development strategy. I also want to thank my colleague and parliamentary secretary, the member for North Vancouver. His hard work and his leadership have helped us move beyond commitment and aspiration to the bill before us today.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is at the heart of our government's agenda and priorities. Since the very beginning, we have consistently said that a healthy environment and a strong economy can and must go hand in hand.

The act also promotes integrated, coordinated action across government by requiring 26 departments and agencies to prepare their own sustainable development strategies that comply with and contribute to the federal strategy.

The federal sustainable development strategy that I presented a year ago today has shown what can be accomplished within the act's framework. It is bolder than previous strategies because it proposes 13 ambitious, long-term objectives that support the environmentally based sustainable development goals of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. It responds directly to the interests and priorities of Canadians. We are listening to them. We held over four months of consultations with the public and stakeholders, and we share Canadians' priorities, whether we are talking about the fight against climate change, healthy ecosystems, clean drinking water, or food security.

By going above and beyond what the law requires, we included more federal departments and agencies in our strategy than ever before. In response to a recommendation of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to take a whole-of-government approach, 15 organizations are voluntarily contributing to the 2016-2019 federal sustainable development strategy, on top of the 26 organizations that are already legally required to participate. That means a total of 41 federal departments and agencies have a role to play in making our vision for sustainable development a reality. That is eight more than in the 2013-2016 federal sustainable development strategy for Canada.

Building on the act's commitment to transparency and accountability, we have also committed to updating our strategy on an ongoing basis to ensure that Canadians and parliamentarians can closely track our accomplishments and results. We have acted on this commitment, publishing the first update to our strategy in June. That update shows that we have already achieved a number of the short-term milestones set out in our strategy, such as ratifying the historic Paris Agreement.

Now, just this week, we are tabling more than 20 departmental sustainable development strategies for organizations across the federal government. These strategies set out concrete commitments that will help us deliver on the goals and targets of the federal sustainable development strategy. By adding this substance and detail to our plan, the strategies will ensure that Canadians have a clear picture of what our government is doing to advance sustainable development in Canada.

We have accomplished a lot, but we are committed to doing more toward implementing a renewed federal sustainability approach built on accountability, inclusiveness, and an ongoing dialogue with indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and all Canadians. Bill C-57 reflects this renewed approach. It would raise the bar for transparency and reporting; create a truly whole-of-government system of sustainable development planning, reporting, and action; and ensure that sustainable development strategies are inclusive and support our commitment to future generations.

Transparency and accountability to Parliament are at the core of the current FSDA. They were key issues for the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development as it conducted a review of the act, and they are central to the amendments set out in this bill.

Parliamentarians have always played an essential oversight role with respect to how the government keeps its promises and delivers sustainable development results. This bill will augment and strengthen their role by requiring every department and organization to submit, to parliamentary committees, an annual report on progress toward meeting sustainable development targets.

It will also ensure that sustainable development strategies include firm targets so parliamentarians and Canadians can hold the government to account. Building on the existing act, the proposed amendments in this bill will make it clear that federal sustainable development strategy targets must be measurable and have set deadlines.

Sustainable development cannot be limited to one department or agency. Organizations across the federal government play a role in protecting and restoring Canada's environment and in improving Canadians' quality of life. As I have said, we have already increased the number of participating departments far beyond the 26 that are named in the act. These amendments would take us further, expanding our whole-of-government approach to more than 90 departments and agencies. These would include organizations with a significant environmental footprint, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. So we can maintain the whole-of-government approach even when circumstances change, the bill would enable the government to add or remove organizations from the act.

All these amendments would align with our commitment to openness and transparency and to leading by example. Amendments that require strong sustainability targets and accountability for results would also support our commitment to future generations to address climate change, develop our natural resources responsibly, develop the clean-growth economy, and modernize environmental assessment and regulatory processes.

Now I would like to discuss the work and recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development that have contributed to the amendments in Bill C-57.

Acting on our strength of conviction, we have taken truly meaningful steps, such as ratifying the Paris agreement, working with the provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples to develop the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, and making new investments in clean technology and green infrastructure.

We have also pledged our support to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the global anti-poverty framework that leaves no one behind. The 2030 agenda's 17 universal goals signal a renewed global desire to make sustainable development a reality, and we want Canada to play a leading role in that movement.

I have already mentioned the invaluable contributions the committee made through its review of the FSDA last year in its report, “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”. In that report, the committee stressed that the amendments to the act must begin with its purpose. I agree. Bill C-57 includes a revised purpose for the act, shifting the focus of our sustainable development strategy from short-term planning to long-term vision. It places the focus on inspiring economic, social, and environmental advancement toward a better future.

The committee suggested that the government review the use of principles in the FSDA, and Bill C-57 will add new, generally accepted sustainability principles to the act. Two basic principles are already set out in the act: the precautionary principle, which states that if there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation, and the basic principle that sustainable development is based on an ecologically efficient use of natural, social and economic resources.

These are essential principals, but other principles are also needed to provide departments and agencies, and the ministers themselves, a clear direction when preparing sustainable development strategies and measures. Bill C-57 will incorporate seven new sustainability principles, including intergenerational equity, a polluter-pays approach, and the internalization of costs. The committee highlighted the need to involve key organizations in promoting sustainable development within the government, and that is what we have done.

In 2016 we established the Centre for Greening Government within the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. The centre's role is to track federal greenhouse gas emissions centrally, coordinate efforts across government, and drive results. Through the centre, the Treasury Board Secretariat has taken on an instrumental role in advancing our commitment to reduce federal greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. The amendments to this bill would build on this, formalizing the Treasury Board's role in developing policies related to reducing the government's environmental footprint and ensuring that departments and agencies take these policies into account in preparing their sustainable development strategies.

Again, let me commend and thank the chair and members of the standing committee for their efforts in reviewing the Federal Sustainable Development Act and formulating their recommendations. This is how Parliament should work. The standing committee has tabled a thoughtful and unanimous report, and our government is responding with concrete changes. I want to thank all the members.

With the 2016-2019 federal sustainable development strategy, we have completed the first step in implementing the committee's report. Our strategy responded to its recommendations with more ambitious and measurable targets and a clear commitment with regard to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and the core principles of sustainable development. Bill C-57 is the next step. The committee underscored the need to amend the legislation. We listened. This bill makes the necessary legislative changes to support a more inclusive, responsible, and integrated approach to federal sustainability. I want to emphasize how much I appreciate the efforts of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, and I hope this excellent collaboration continues.

I would like to go on now to discuss how we are engaging indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians on sustainable development.

As we acknowledged in our strategy, our government cannot achieve sustainable development alone. It requires action across Canadian society: by provinces, by territories and communities, by indigenous governments and organizations, and by business and civil society. In fact, as our strategy makes clear, all Canadians have a role to play in building a more sustainable Canada.

The FSDA recognizes the need for an inclusive approach by requiring the government to consult with the public and stakeholders on each new federal sustainable development strategy.

It also establishes the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, which I chair, and which includes representatives of each province and territory, indigenous peoples, business, environmental non-governmental organizations, and labour. The input that Canadians provided through public consultations, including advice from the council, shaped our current strategy. Their comments showed that Canadians are passionate, engaged, and informed about sustainable development and the environment. Between February and June 2016, we received hundreds of comments on the strategy from people and organizations from coast to coast to coast.

Canadians have sent us a clear message that they support the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and they want us to take bold action on climate change. They have told us that they want mandatory and ambitious sustainable development objectives, clear and measurable targets, as well as concrete action plans. They also told us that our government's strategy should be a call-to-action that shows what every Canadian can do for the environment and sustainability.

As I explained, the strategy I tabled last October includes a response to the priorities expressed by Canadians as well as the international community. For instance, for the first time, the federal sustainable development strategy includes a target for sustainable food, something that has been neglected thus far, according to Canadians. Our strategy also includes information on things that every Canadian can do to help us achieve our sustainable development goals.

We are also committed to continuing the dialogue with our partners, stakeholders, and all Canadians as we roll out our strategy, which goes above and beyond the requirements of the act regarding consultation.

Indigenous peoples, communities, provinces, territories, and Canadians expect to be heard when it comes to the economy and the environment. Since tabling our strategy, we have maintained an ongoing conversation with Canadians to let them know what the government is doing, and to learn about their own actions to support sustainable development.

We will continue to engage with them on how we can use a strengthened FSDA to ensure that Canada is a sustainability leader. We want to hear from Canadians about how we can address climate change, support and promote innovative technologies, strengthen our economy, and create good-paying jobs for Canadians in the clean-growth century.

The amendments in Bill C-57 will support engagement by strengthening the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. The council brings together passionate, knowledgeable people from all sectors of Canadian society. It provided important input into our 2016-19 federal sustainable development strategy. For example, our ambitious target for clean water in first nations communities responds to the council's advice, along with comments from other organizations and Canadians.

With this bill, we have the opportunity to enhance the role of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council through legislative change. We recognize that the involvement in indigenous peoples in environmental and sustainable development policy is essential. These amendments would ensure that their voices are heard, by doubling the number of representatives of indigenous people sitting on the council from three to six.

In conclusion, the Federal Sustainable Development Act has had a positive impact on federal sustainability, helping us move towards transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, and a whole-of-government approach. However, our government is determined to do more.

With the renewed approach to sustainable development that this bill represents, sustainable development strategies will be guided by sustainable development principles and a more ambitious purpose that combines transparency and accountability with the aspiration to advance sustainable development in Canada and improve Canadians' quality of life.

Guided by the sustainability reports, our renewed approach will reassert and reinforce the role of parliamentary committees through a new requirement for an annual report from departments and agencies on their contribution to achieving our sustainable development targets.

The work of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development has guided our approach, and the committee will play a key role going forward in holding the government accountable for results. This is the beginning of the next chapter in Canada's sustainability story. An amended act will provide the framework for action to fulfill our domestic and international sustainability commitments.

With the support of my colleagues, I am confident that we can achieve our vision of a clean environment, a sustainable economy, and a better quality of life for all Canadians.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the minister for bringing forth Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The minister is very well aware that the environment is a very important issue in Hamilton. It is a priority for Hamiltonians. I know the minister is aware of that, because she is a Hamilton girl and a Hamilton woman.

The latest meeting I had with members of a local environmental group was this past Friday, a week ago today. I know that they, as well as all Canadians, want to pass on to the minister how proud they are of the work she has done. When we look at the Paris accord and the consensus-building that she was able to attain there, as well as the price on carbon, we are all very proud of the leadership and the passion that this minister has demonstrated.

One of the questions that continuously comes up with constituents in my riding is that they want to be assured that sustainable development and the environment are at the forefront of the government's decision-making with respect to all issues that come forward. I know that this bill does that. However, I wonder if the minister could expand on how this bill would assist in ensuring Canadians that sustainable development and the environment are at the root of all decisions that are made by this government.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to engage in this debate on amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act, Bill C-57. I believe Canadians understand that when governments make policy decisions, they should make those decisions through a lens that takes into account Canada's economic imperatives, our social imperatives, and our environmental imperatives.

The original act, as my colleague, the minister, mentioned, was passed a few parliaments ago, in 2008, under then environment minister John Baird. As members know, in majority governments, opposition private members' bills do not get passed unless they have the support of the government of the day. That is what happened here. Our government very quickly realized that sustainability had to be baked into everything the federal government did to ensure an appropriate balance between social, economic, and environmental factors within Canada. Therefore, we supported that act.

Upon further study at committee recently, of which I am a member, and was pleased to be part of the deliberations that gave rise to the report, and when we reflected on the act as it presently stood, it had a number of flaws that needed to be corrected. There was consensus at committee on the items that needed to be corrected. We were able to issue a consensus report, which is not always that common when there is a majority government that is fixated upon imposing its will on Parliament.

The act itself requires that all government decision-making is done with a view to future generations. I am glad my colleague, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, recognized the fact that the committee recommendations talked about the intergenerational nature of sustainability. Therefore, policy-making will be viewed through the lens of environmental, economic, and social factors to ensure that not only will today's generation have a lifestyle we can applaud, but is one that we can pass on to future generations to take up and build upon.

There are a couple of the things the proposed bill will do to amend the act. It will make more robust the provisions that require government agencies and departments to provide regular reports on their progress by ensuring they meet our sustainability goals. The number of departments and agencies has been significantly increased, those that fall under the act. They will be subject to a review of all policy-making through the lens of the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Beyond that, there is an increase in the number of members of the advisory council that provides advice to the minister. There also are a number of items that we will likely bring forward amendments on at committee, for example, that the advisory council members be paid. Every time the Liberals come up with a new policy, or new legislation, or new regulation, they always increase the number of people who get paid. That costs the taxpayers money. As Conservatives, we can say, with absolute conviction, that we have always defended the interests of Canadian taxpayers. That is why we will bring forward amendments at committee.

We have had the Federal Sustainable Development Act in place since 2008, close to 10 years, and the Liberal federal government has been in place for two years. It has had the chance to understand the act and to apply it across all agencies and government to ensure our sustainable development goals are met. Canadians have the right to ask this. What kind of progress has the government and the minister made?

It just so happens that this week, when we began debate on Bill C-57, the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development issued what was effectively an audit report under the Auditor General of Canada, highlighting the performance of the government and the Environment Minister when it came to sustainability and the environment. This is a damning indictment of the Liberal government's performance, not only on the environment file but on sustainability writ large.

I will go to the first report, which addresses the progress that might have been made on reducing greenhouse gases. Remember, the Liberal government boasted in the last election that it was the only party that could address Canada's climate change challenges. The Liberals have had two years to work on it. One would imagine, with all the rhetoric we have heard from them and from the minister, that there would be significant progress made. What is the conclusion of the Auditor General? It is an F, a failing grade. She said:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...the measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions contained in the framework had yet to be implemented.

It gets worse. She went on to say:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...did not make progress toward meeting Canada’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

With all the rhetoric we heard during the last election and over the last two years, and the minister always talking about the environment and the economy going hand in hand, I would expect some progress would be made. However, the report says “no progress”. It is not just that there was insufficient progress, or not enough progress. The commissioner said that no progress was made, which is pretty damning. In the meantime, the one thing the minister and her government did was impose a massive carbon tax on Canadians, which is sucking dry the pockets of Canadian taxpayers.

It gets worse. The second report, which was issued this past Tuesday, on page 27, states:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...did not provide adequate leadership to advance the federal government’s adaptation to climate change impacts.

It highlights a lack of federal leadership from the minister. It goes on to say that:

Most of the federal departments and agencies we examined did not take appropriate measures to adapt to climate change impacts...As a result, the federal government could not demonstrate that it was making progress in adapting to a changing climate. Stronger federal leadership is needed.

What a damning indictment of the Liberal government and the minister's performance on the environment file.

I believe Canadians can draw the conclusion that the Liberal government cannot be trusted. It would not be an unfair conclusion to make. When we look at the government's record on other issues, it is very clear the government, which made so many promises during the election, has now become a monument to broken promises.

The last two years are littered with broken promises. For example, on deficits, members will remember the Prime Minister said that the Liberals would run a $10 billion deficit. That was his word. Canadians took him at his word, and they elected him. Today we are looking at annual deficits of $30 billion a year. It is a huge broken promise. These deficits will be run in order to spend, spend, spend, not on the priorities of taxpayers, but on the priorities of the Liberal government.

Remember electoral reform, the promise that it would be the last election under the first past the post system? That is another broken promise, and what a fiasco that was. The minister lost her job as a result of that. Quite frankly, the buck should have stopped at the Prime Minister's desk. He was the one who initiated that failed process. He had promised Canadians he would consult broadly, that it would be a fair process, that he would divine some kind of a consensus out of the process and then move forward. Did that happen? No. It was a debacle. At the end of the day, the Prime Minister said that because he could not find consensus, he would break that promise of electoral reform. It is a disgrace.

Then there is the whole issue of taxes, taxes here, taxes there, such as a carbon tax and a payroll tax. The most recent debacle the government engaged in was to bring forward reforms that would impose a huge tax burden, not on the big fat cats, not on the rich people in Canada, but on small businesses. We are talking about mom and pop shops, the pizza owner in my community, who employs his family and maybe some other employees. They are working hard to scrape by, earning maybe $50,000 to $80,000 a year. The government has now determined they should be the target of tax increases. These are not tiny tax increases like the tiny deficits the Prime Minister promised in the last election. He proposes to tax small businesses across Canada at a rate of 73%. It is disgraceful.

The government will take the revenues from the savings of these businesses and tax them at 73%. I have talked to businesses in my community. I have held round tables on this business tax. The business people, the ones who have the small business operations, which are the backbone of our economy, are outraged that the government, the Prime Minister, and the Finance Minister would tax small businesses at a rate of up to 73%. However, the finance minister's billion dollar company, called Morneau Shepell, will not be impacted. It will pay lower taxes on half-a-billion dollars worth of income every year. This is one of Canada's largest companies.

The Prime Minister, who has benefited from a trust fund, a family inheritance, his investments, will not be impacted by the changes brought forward by the Minister of Finance. Again, this is a breach of trust.

The government wants us to trust it. When it talks about the federal sustainability act, it wants us to trust that it will get it done. It promised Canadians it would protect the environment. It promised Canadians that the economy and the environment would go hand in hand. I remember the environment minister saying that time and time again. She said it again today, and we will probably hear it in question period.

What happened? Instead of understanding the economic component, the government has completely neglected our economy and the importance of small businesses across Canada. Ninety-eight per cent of all businesses across Canada are small businesses. They are the backbone of our economy. The Minister of Finance, aided and abetted by the environment minister, are attacking the very people who build and sustain our economy. Not only are they doing that, the government is proposing to introduce tax laws that will make it more difficult for farmers and owners of small businesses to transfer their businesses to the next generation. That is why it is ironic to hear the minister talk about how important it is to look at the intergenerational impacts of our policies.

If she is talking about the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which is supposed to marry the environment and the economy, why has her government completely forgotten about the economic component? It is unbelievable.

When we were elected, we predicted that the Prime Minister was making promises far beyond what he could deliver on. We knew that he was making promises that were raising the expectations of Canadians and that he would never meet those expectations. Guess what? We have been proven right. Day after day there is a new fiasco, a new scandal.

There is no transparency. Do members remember the mandate letters that the Prime Minister issued to every single one of his ministers, including the environment minister? I have read through that mandate letter many times, and I am thankful to the Prime Minister for giving us a glimpse of what he was hoping would happen here in Canada and here in this House. That mandate letter said that the Prime Minister wanted to set a higher bar for transparency and openness in government and wanted to set a higher bar for addressing conflicts of interest, such that not even a perceived conflict of interest would be acceptable to the Prime Minister.

However, we have seen that in attacking small Canadian businesses with his tax reforms, the Minister of Finance stands to benefit from changing tax laws. Forcing small Canadian companies to de-incorporate would force those business people to invest in private pension funds and to have their pension funds administered by none other than the finance minister's own company, Morneau Shepell. We will hear more about that later in question period. The conflict of interest is jaw-dropping and i