Climate Emergency Action Act

An Act respecting a Climate Emergency Action Framework

This bill was previously introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Leah Gazan  NDP

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

Status

Defeated, as of March 24, 2021

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-232.

Summary

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

This enactment provides for the development and implementation of a climate emergency action framework.

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

March 24, 2021 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-232, An Act respecting a Climate Emergency Action Framework

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

March 11th, 2021 / 6 p.m.
See context

Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Yvonne Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Northern Affairs

Madam Speaker, I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to the bill this evening. I have been following the debate in the legislature today, and I can honestly say that it was a tremendous debate.

I rise today to speak to Bill C-232, an act respecting a Climate Emergency Action Framework, sponsored by the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre. This private member's bill demonstrates the importance of climate action for all Canadians and highlights the urgency of the situation. I thank its sponsor for putting it forward in the House today and supporting our government's initiatives to address climate change.

Canadians know that climate change threatens our health, and it certainly threatens our way of life and our planet. That is why we need climate action and we need it now. That is what our government will continue to do.

Last September, the Government of Canada made a commitment in the Speech from the Throne to bring forward a plan to exceed Canada's 2030 target and to legislate Canada's goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. We all know that net-zero emissions by 2050 is an ambitious target, but we also know that it is a necessary target, which is the reason we are moving forward.

Scientists tells us that if we are to keep global warming under a 1.5°C temperature increase and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must reach net zero by 2050. They have not given us options; they have really given us firm and solid direction.

Establishing this target in legislation has signalled our government's commitment to taking leadership and real action on climate change and to meet Canada's obligations under the Paris Agreement as well. It was with that goal in mind that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change introduced Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act. We are all familiar with that act and what is being proposed in Bill C-12.

We know that the act is a key component of the government's plan to achieve net-zero emissions in the economy by 2050. It would put in place a clear framework for reaching net zero by requiring the minister of the environment to set national targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Those national targets would be set at five-year intervals: for 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045. The act would also contain an emissions-reduction plan that would encompass important information such as a description of the key emissions-reduction measures the Government of Canada intends to take to achieve the target for a particular milestone year. In addition, it would explain how the target and the key measures and strategies in the plan would contribute to Canada's achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Therefore, we are excited to be moving forward with Bill C-12 .

It would require progress reports. There would be investment reports to check on the progress that is being made and, of course, adjust course as needed along the way. The minister of environment and climate change would prepare at least one progress report relating to each of these milestones in consultation with other federal ministers. The report would also provide updates on the progress toward relevant targets and on the implementation of those federal measures, including any relevant sectoral strategies and federal government operational strategies described in the emissions-reduction plan.

The government must also provide an assessment report for each target, which is a very important piece of this as well. That report would contain a summary of Canada's official greenhouse gas emissions inventory for the relevant milestone year and a statement on whether the government had achieved its targets. As members can see, also included in that would be additional information about any adjustments that might have to be made.

The reason I am outlining all of this is that Bill C-12 provides for further accountability and transparency by requiring the minister to include information about why Canada did not meet the targets and what actions the Government of Canada is taking or will take to address those missed targets. It would also require that the report be prepared no later than 30 days after the government submits its official greenhouse gas inventory reports in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and with the relevant milestone year, or to 2050. We recognize, as a government, how important transparency is and how essential it is to hold governments accountable, whether it is our government today or any government in future generations. All emissions reduction plans, progress reports and assessment reports would be made available to the public once they are tabled in Parliament.

To help ensure that Canadians have the best advice when it comes to the environment and climate change, we believe that Bill C-12 would establish those precedents for Canadians. Also, under Bill C-12, we will establish an independent advisory body. Indeed, back in February, just last month, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced the creation of this advisory body and nominated 14 Canadians to serve on that committee. They will provide the minister with advice on the most promising pathways to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, drawing on research and analysis and engagement. We expect that this advice will reflect the priorities and ideas that are being shared by all Canadians.

This evening we are dealing with private member's Bill C-232, an act respecting a climate emergency action framework. The bill aims to legislate government's commitments under the United Nation framework on climate change, which I just mentioned, particularly its 2030 GHG emissions reduction target, while also complying with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It would require the Minister of Environment to implement a climate emergency action framework in consultation with indigenous peoples and civil society, and to table in Parliament a report of the framework within one year and a report on its effectiveness within three years.

Very clearly, Bill C-232 echoes the priorities that our government has already established. That said, Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, would actually go even further than what is being proposed in the private member's bill before us, because it would provide a stronger framework for achieving Canada's climate change plan by fixing, in legislation, the government's ultimate goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. It would create a transparent engagement mechanism for setting those targets and developing the emissions reduction plan and assessing the progress made towards achieving these targets.

Bill C-12 would also create an independent advisory party that would provide advice on the most promising pathway to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and it would give a reporting role to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainability, two components that the private member's bill we are debating this evening does not include.

Bill C-12 is new and an essential component of the government's overall approach to climate change. Recently, the Government of Canada released “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” report, which is the federal plan to build a better future with a healthier economy and environment. This plan builds on the work that has been done to date and the efforts that are already under way. It will enable us to exceed our current 2030 emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement.

While many of the themes presented in Bill C-232 echo the priorities our government has set out, we will not be supporting the bill, because we will be advancing Bill C-12, which, as I said, goes further. It encompasses an advisory committee, it would make the minister fully accountable and would establish broader regulations for transparency and the need for such transparency and disclosure to the public.

What I will say to the member is that I am encouraged to see her coming forward and supporting action on climate change and recognizing—

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

March 11th, 2021 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, we have had three bills introduced in the same session on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, which I think sends a powerful message about how we need to do what is necessary to reach that goal.

The time has come to take decisive action to combat climate change. Canada needs climate change legislation that is rooted in the principles of good governance, guided by transparency, accountability, equity and, most importantly, science.

I commend and thank the member for Winnipeg Centre for this bill. I also appreciate the references to indigenous nations and the consideration given to indigenous knowledge. For example, we can learn a lot from New Zealand's experience of considering indigenous knowledge and incorporating the Maori people's good governance of the ocean into its policies. Government stakeholders worked in conjunction with Maori organizations and partners to develop the seven principles for ecosystem-based management for this shared governance.

I will now get back to Canada and the importance of protecting biodiversity in our fight against climate change. I cannot resist saying a few words about the large number of programs for indigenous peoples that involve promoting and developing projects that pollute and harm the environment instead of focusing on forward-looking and innovative plans for the future.

Relations between the Crown and Canada's first nations are a topical issue. Reconciliation is a profound and vital act. In order to achieve it, we must listen to first nations' environmental concerns and welcome their contributions. Nothing productive will come of always portraying their environmental concerns as those of opponents.

We recognize that indigenous peoples' knowledge of the land is extremely relevant in managing ecosystems and protecting biodiversity. In that regard, we must not just integrate the indigenous fact into a climate law for aesthetic reasons in order to ease our conscience. The intention must be firm and sincere. Experts have done a great deal of work, but unfortunately it has not translated into political action or legal commitments. The government could start by providing access to safe drinking water.

That being said, the Bloc Québécois agrees with the principles and objectives set out in Bill C-232. Just today, March 11, 2021, Quebec began honouring the victims of COVID-19, but let us look at what has happened over the past year.

Unfortunately, over the past year, the government has done a lot to help the fossil fuel industry, rather than to fight climate change.

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development's 2020 report, subsidies for fossil fuels neared $5 billion.

The government made promises during the election campaign and once it was in power, but it has not acted on those promises. Whatever happened to the modernization of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act? What about the two billion trees that are supposed to be planted? What have they done to intensify climate action? What is their plan to end government support for the fossil fuel sector?

The Bloc Québécois has always taken a strong stance on environmental protection and the fight against climate change and what must be done to reverse Canada's unfortunate trajectory. Why not show the people that their elected representatives are committed to fighting climate change by being honest about the facts and pragmatic about the solutions available to us? Does Canada not want to preserve what is left of its international reputation for its efforts to fight climate change?

Every economy around the world is struggling, and everything has been disrupted, but many countries are responding with determination and resilience. The Canadian government should pay close attention to countries that are making progress.

It will certainly be crucial for the current and future governments not to drag their feet. In the challenge we are facing, maintaining the status quo would actually be a step backwards. What we really need is to leap ahead.

That is why bills introduced by the opposition parties must be taken into consideration. In that sense, Bill C-232, much like its companion legislation, Bill C-215 introduced by the Bloc Québécois, would benefit just as much from being improved if it is to be considered a legislative framework. Bill C-232 falls somewhere in between, since it is neither an action plan nor a proposed legislative framework. It is a halfway point and needs to be completed. I say that as a point of constructive feedback.

Here are some examples of the clarifications needed.

Clause 4 states that the minister must develop an action framework in consultation with indigenous peoples and civil society. Providing for that kind of consultation is appropriate, but the details of that need to be specified. Public consultation should be supplementary to the consideration of expert opinions. It should include elements that are ultimately incorporated into framework climate legislation.

Dedicating a section to targets is good. The strength of the bill is that it includes the target, specifies it and clearly states that meeting the target is mandatory. It should also clearly outline the policies it proposes, and they must correspond to the area of federal jurisdiction and not that of the provinces. Environmental policy is largely the responsibility of the provincial governments, and successfully fighting climate change depends in large part on the policies of and actions taken by Quebec and the provinces.

Measures for transitioning to a green economy also need to be incorporated. The Bloc Québécois's green and fair recovery plan can be used as a model. I want to be positive and give members something to think about by raising the experience of the United Kingdom, which is garnering a lot of attention, and rightly so. The success of its climate legislation is measurable, and the outcomes have been analyzed. I want to share with my colleagues some important observations.

The success of the United Kingdom's climate change act has been attributed to several factors. However, experts have emphasized the benefits of including the action plan within the text of the legislation. Why? Because doing so lends legitimacy to the act, makes it easier to understand and increases the support of civil society, economic and social stakeholders, and political actors at all levels. That is what ensures long-term stability. The legislation thus becomes permanent and there is less risk of backtracking at the whim of successive governments.

To critics of such an approach who may fear that it would weaken the legislator's prerogatives, I will point out that it is possible to strike a balance between policy directions and the different levels of precision or flexibility of a plan. The United Kingdom has done it, and has even inspired other states to try to do the same.

A recent poll was done of people, mostly elected officials, who were involved in the legislative process. They acknowledged that the U.K. climate change committee owed its success to its independence. They noted that having directions and recommendations from a pool of experts on every legislative aspect contributed to a political consensus. Why? Because the work was done by independent voices and that makes it credible. The elected members found that what had been communicated allowed them to better understand the issues and come up with better solutions. They added that once impartiality was established and in the absence of political or other interests, collaboration and consensus followed.

The United Kingdom has seen its greenhouse gas emissions drop by 28% since 2010, while securing economic growth of nearly 19%. During the same period, Canada had similar results in economic growth, but saw its emissions increase by 3%.

Several observations can be made to show that Canada's climate governance is not working. A healthy climate governance, one that works and is proven to meet targets, requires projects to be assessed annually. Second, the government needs to be required to table a response to the annual report. Third, the interim objectives have to be set long in advance. Finally, the recommendations have to be evidence-based.

In closing, I want to say that, in a spirit of co-operation and working for the common good, a climate law needs to be ambitious. What is more, the government must not ignore what the opposition parties are saying. Let us get motivated. We will get there.

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

March 11th, 2021 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today in support of Bill C-232. It is not lost on me that in the crisis of this global pandemic, perhaps the crisis of climate change has been lost. I have deep gratitude for my caucus colleague for Winnipeg Centre. She has recentred the conversation on catastrophic climate change and the impacts it is going to have, undoubtedly, on society in the years very soon to come.

The thought of guaranteeing Canadians a clean, safe, healthy environment as a human right seems so simple, yet time and again in the House we hear rhetoric from both sides, with consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments debating the merits of climate change. Time is running out. We know that. The youth across this country are telling us clearly that time is running out. Indigenous communities across this country are telling us clearly that time is running out, yet we hear from the Liberals a refusal to hear the calls from our youth.

I stand here today in the House of Commons a mere couple of feet away from what happened on October 28, 2019. A group of youth were arrested for occupying this space under the “Our Time” banner, recognizing that their futures were being gambled with by policies that were not meeting the size, scale and scope of this catastrophe.

We have heard about Bill C-12 here today. The Liberal government refuses to honour its commitments, legal frameworks and international agreements centred on consultation with indigenous communities. All levels of government are guilty of this. All parties have been guilty of this.

I am here today for those youth who were here, putting everything on the line for their futures. I am here today for the indigenous youth who led the protest at the B.C. legislature in support of the land defenders there. If we do not have a clear consultative framework that centres on our obligations to indigenous people across this country, then we know we are not meeting our obligations and our moral imperatives on the agreements that we profess to sign on to in the House. The idea of a right, for those living in Canada, to a safe, clean and healthy environment seems so simple, yet there has been only talk and no action. It is a dream deferred to a future date. We do not have the time.

The science at the interparliamentary committee on climate change has been clear. We have an opportunity right now, in this moment, to change course. If we do not do that, the cost will be far too great. If we do not intervene right now in these critical years, the impacts of catastrophic climate change will become irreversible. We have an obligation to future generations of the world. We have mortgaged their futures on a short-term extractory capitalist system that seeks to squeeze the lifeblood out of our natural resources and our earth.

I am deeply grateful to my hon. colleague for Winnipeg Centre for providing the House with the leadership and the framework to ensure that we have critical consultations in place, and that we meet our United Nations obligations on climate change. The government continues to commit to targets it has no real intention of keeping. It misses them again and again, and we are running out of time.

I am here today for the Water Walkers, and I think about the people who are leading the struggle locally in my city: Indigenous women who honour nibi, the water, and know that they, under the leadership of Grandma Josephine, walk the shorelines. I learned from their teaching that we should be granting our water, nature and air the same rights as we grant the corporations that have been polluting with impunity for far too long.

The idea that we can solve this by 2050 is too late. I have to share with the House the impacts, atrocities and environmental degradation of this planet. I feel that, when future generations look back at us in the House, they will know that we had a chance to do something different. They will read this bill and know that the opportunity was before us, yet it was not supported. It was not taken seriously, and the commitments were pushed down another 20 years.

By that time it will be too late, but the truth is becoming abundantly clear. The corporations that continue to degrade and pollute our world are going to be held to account. I will share with the House another thought. Maybe in the future, when they look at the size and scale of the impending wildfires and floods, and the ongoing diseases unleashed in pandemics, they might meet internationally and convene for real truth and reconciliation globally on climate change, like the Nuremberg trials.

These companies know the impacts and they know the science, yet they spend all of their time and their money to silence activists' voices and silence the science. It is clear that if we do not rise to this moment right now, we are in a significant, dire catastrophe. Climate change is threatening absolutely everything that we value.

We know that extreme weather is worsening, and that the resilience of our communities is constantly under threat. The future of our children and grandchildren depends on our actions here today. Globally we are being left behind, because other countries have a clear plan. They are sticking to their commitments. They know that we have to meet this plan by 2030. Bill C-12 does not do that.

I have sat in the House and listened to Liberals and Conservatives boast, brag and debate about how many pipelines they can build and buy, and how much they can continue to extract. I have been in the House when we have debated the failures of these successive governments to have meaningful, free, prior and informed consent in the legal fiction that is Canada. In unceded territories we have a legal obligation to deal with the rights holders of these lands, and indigenous rights in this country are inherently tied to land rights.

We have a strong, brilliant indigenous woman who has come to us with a private member's bill that lays out, as they have already identified, commitments they have already made. They talk about consultation, when the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre stresses that there can be no reconciliation absent of justice. To vote down this bill today would be a clear signal that the government is not committed to its obligations, because these are frameworks that are already clearly laid out.

Anything short of supporting this, and any conversation about kicking this obligation another 20 years down the line, will be remembered by the young people who were arrested here, the young people who were arrested on the steps of the legislature in B.C., and the young people who take to the streets for Fridays for Future. They are watching. The question is, when this is done, when this vote is over and when our time here in the House is finished, what are members of the House going to tell them? What are they going to have to say?

We will be supporting this bill. I will be able to look my son in his eyes and let him know that we did everything we could to stop this.

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

March 11th, 2021 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Hamilton Centre for his powerful words. I also want to begin by thanking our colleague from Winnipeg Centre for bringing forward this bill, which makes such an important contribution to a conversation about an issue that many of us feel is the most critical issue facing not just our country, but our planet.

I want to acknowledge that I am speaking today from the unceded lands of the Wet'suwet'en people here in my home community of Smithers, British Columbia. It is such an honour to speak to this bill at this juncture in time when we are searching for answers so desperately. After decades and decades of knowing about the severity of the climate crisis and after so many false starts, the sad fact is that, as a country, we are failing. All of our actions over all of that time have had so little impact.

I started becoming concerned about the climate crisis as a teenager. Now I am old enough to have teenagers of my own, yet so little has been done. Time and time again, we have made commitments, and set targets, timelines, and dates. Time and time again, we have failed to act in a concerted and consistent enough manner to realize the goals we have made for ourselves.

What Canada has shown is a commitment to building and expanding the fossil fuel infrastructure of this country. This has erased so much of the progress we have made through things like energy efficiency and clean energy production. With so little time left on the clock, we are still searching for ways to mobilize our government and fight the climate crisis, this climate emergency, with the seriousness and dedication it demands from us.

Canadians, especially young Canadians, and my colleague spoke so eloquently to this, want some mechanisms to break this pattern of complacency and apathy. They want to hold today's decision-makers to account for their promises, not at some distant date well outside the time horizons of our political process, elections and political calculuses, or the investment horizons of the private sector. After decades of failure, we know that does not work. What Canadians want is regular, binding, short-term and enforceable accountability measures that hold today's leaders to account.

This bill before us, Bill C-232, has a number of strengths. To me, its greatest strength and most important contribution is that it centres our work on the climate crisis and it centres in that work the rights of indigenous people. This is such an important thing to bear in mind and keep at the centre as we go forward together.

It was good to see in the government's own accountability legislation, for all of its flaws, a passing reference to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. By comparison though, Bill C-232 calls not only for the full involvement of indigenous people in the creation of a climate emergency action framework, but it also calls for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to ensure that the framework upholds all of the provisions of the U.N. declaration and that it specifically takes into account indigenous knowledge and science.

Reading this bill and reading, in particular, the clauses around the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People made me think of all the indigenous nations in northwest B.C., this incredible part of our country that I am so deeply honoured to represent in this House. Indigenous people in northwest B.C. are on the frontline of climate impacts and the changing climate is affecting so many aspects of their daily lives.

Thinking about our environment and thinking about the resources and goods produced by this bountiful place, there are few species that are more iconic than wild salmon. All five species of wild salmon swim up our rivers from the ocean every single year. In the fall, if someone goes on social media, they will see so many photos of smiling people processing salmon, drying salmon, smoking salmon, sharing recipes, and sharing techniques and traditions that have been handed down generation after generation.

It is at the very centre of the way of life in northwest B.C. However, with warming ocean waters and ocean acidification, the introduction of invasive species and droughts affecting spawning channels, things are looking very precarious for this iconic species.

I spoke today to Walter Joseph, the fisheries manager at the office of the Wet'suwet'en, and he spoke about the challenges in the tributaries where the salmon spawn, but what really has Walter worried, is what is happening in the ocean. He described the ocean as a black box. When the salmon go out to the ocean we do not know what happens. What we do know is that, for so many wild salmon stocks, the numbers are declining every single year, and we know that climate is having a huge impact on that.

On Haida Gwaii, we have seen tremendous die-offs in the yellow cedar, a tree species that is so critical to the Haida people. We know from work done by the University of British Columbia that this is a direct result of low winter precipitation and warmer temperatures. A team from the University of Victoria also found that sea level rise on Haida Gwaii is greater than anywhere else along our coast.

In the eastern part of our region we have seen the mountain pine beetle ravage our forests. We have seen years with extreme wildfires and 2018 was one of the worst years on record for wildfires. It left thousands upon thousands of hectares scorched. It left communities evacuated. It burned buildings from Fort St. James and Burns Lake all the way to Telegraph Creek in the northern part of this beautiful region.

Speaking of Telegraph Creek, I wanted to call to mind a young fellow who is really remarkable. His name is Montay Beaubien-Day. He is a 13-year-old member of the Tahltan and the Wet'suwet'en nations. When Monty saw his family's ranch in Telegraph Creek burn in the massive wildfires of 2018, it inspired him to join with other young people, such as Haana Edenshaw from the Haida nation and 13 others from across the country in a lawsuit against the Government of Canada for failing to attack the climate emergency.

At the heart of that suit brought forward by these young people is a deep-seated frustration with Canada's inaction on the climate emergency. The plaintiffs went to court because they wanted this country to be accountable for its promises and to take responsibility for the future it is handing their generation. How did we get to the point where our children, the young generation, has to take the country to court to ensure that they inherit a basic semblance of a livable future?

Indigenous communities are not just on the front lines of climate change when it comes to impacts, but when it comes to solutions as well. I have been so inspired by the work done by the Heiltsuk's climate action team on the central coast led by climate action coordinator. They are engaging residents and creating a community energy plan grounded in the Heiltsuk community's needs. Their plan is to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, bring the community back in line with Heiltsuk values and laws, improve the health and safety and create a green economy for the Heiltsuk people. Their aim is to have 129 heat pumps installed by the end of March. They are for almost one-third of the homes in their community and they will reduce emissions by as much as five tonnes per household.

I think of the Nuxalk Nation, which is also on the central coast. Their clean energy initiative is focused on building a run of the river hydro project which will be able to reduce the Bella Coola Valley's diesel consumption by up to 80%. On Haida Gwaii, the Swiilawiid Sustainability Society is engaging island residents, especially youth, in a conversation about a clean energy future.

I spoke with chief councillor of Skidegate, Billy Yovanovich, a couple of summers ago. His community has installed 350 heat pumps. The Haida are leading in so many other ways. Many of these communities are working hard to take action on climate change and these are not big communities. They are not metropolitan centres.

These are small villages, many of them with only a few hundred residents, yet they understand inherently that they have a responsibility to be a part of the solution. They are taking responsibility for their part of the challenge, and Canada needs to have their backs. The impacts we are seeing will not slow without our country also taking responsibility and doing its share. The sad truth—

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

March 11th, 2021 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, it is truly an honour and a pleasure to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-232, an act respecting a climate emergency action framework. This bill, which has been tabled by my good friend and colleague from Winnipeg Centre, is such an important bill, and I want to thank her at the outset for her important work in standing up not just for indigenous peoples but for all Canadians and their right to have a clean, safe and healthy environment.

This bill would provide a critical framework, which is lacking right now, for a transformative climate action policy. It is framed around a green new deal that would make sure that all climate action initiatives would comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as ensure the right of all those living in Canada to have a safe, clean and healthy environment and that we will uphold our responsibilities to future generations. This bill provides for the development of a framework that we desperately need when it comes to climate action.

We know that the Government of Canada has failed to meet every single climate target it has put out. In fact, as the government tabled recent legislation, it also failed to give people the confidence it is going to deliver a plan in a timely fashion. This is based on the fact that we are not even going to see a progress report on how we are doing until 2028 and that there is no milestone target for 2025.

We heard from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2018 that we had only 12 years to reduce emissions to pre-2010 levels, meaning a reduction of over 40% by 2030, yet the Government of Canada still has no plan and has not included indigenous people.

This bill is absolutely critical as an accountability tool for those who are most impacted by climate change. It explicitly outlines the importance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to Canada's climate response and it would require the government to consult meaningfully with indigenous peoples and communities and civil society.

Canadians are exhausted. They are tired of governments committing to targets like the ones I cited earlier and then missing them again and again. We are running out of time.

I want to talk a bit about what is happening in my riding and the impact climate change is having on indigenous peoples in the communities I represent.

In three of the last five years, we have had record floods that have impacted wild salmon, of course, and impacted the communities of the Tseshaht people and the K'Omoks First Nation, with both the Somass and the Puntledge rivers breaching.

We had a drought in 2014, and then it rained just in time in August. We were afraid we were going to lose all our wild salmon, which is a critical food source for indigenous people, and it is not just food security; their culture is centred around it, and of course their economy. Wild salmon is critical to their survival and who they are. Where I live, the Nuu-chah-nulth are salmon people, so this is very important to indigenous peoples, who are going to be most impacted by climate change.

We saw the acidification in Baynes Sound, which impacted the Qualicum people and their food security with the shellfish they rely on. My good friend Chief Moses Martin, from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, often talks about the importance of investing in restoration, in science and indigenous knowledge, of listening to indigenous knowledge, but he cites that the most urgent pressure right now on wild salmon is the warming of oceans due to climate change.

We know our oceans are a carbon sink and that 90% of carbon right now is being stored in our oceans, which are warming right now and making things more difficult. In fact, Humboldt squid, which is normally from California, landed on our shores in Tofino just a few years ago. It is mind-blowing to see the kinds of shifts that are occurring because of climate change. Of course, there are also the wildfires we have seen throughout British Columbia.

Youth are coming forward urging us for changes. We have all been on marches with youth against the impacts of climate change and them demanding action. We cannot wait. We heard from my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley about the impact this is having on the children in his riding, and on my children.

I was really inspired by Ben Mason and Lister de Vitré, who live in my riding in Cumberland, British Columbia. They have been going around the community, to the Cumberland council, to the local legion and to local groups talking about new ways for economic growth, social responsibility and environmental safety. They are asking for a green new deal centred around indigenous values and knowledge. They want to see emissions cut by half by 2030, but right now we do not have the framework in place to do that.

As Ben Mason said, doing nothing is not an option. The way the government is moving forward without a plan and without the framework in place being proposed by my good friend and colleague from Winnipeg Centre, we are abandoning that generation. This is absolutely unacceptable, because doing nothing cannot be an option for them. We are their voice. We are responsible for their future.

I know there has been a lot of discussion about the cost of investing in climate change. I think about my good friend, the late chief of Hesquiaht, Richard Lucas, who fought so hard to get his nation off of diesel energy and get a hydro project into his community so it could do its part when it came to climate change. However, it also makes economic sense in the long term. We need to continue to listen to indigenous people in our communities who have the knowledge and the wherewithal to get us there.

Members have heard me speak repeatedly in the House about the cost and impacts of climate change. When I started as a member of Parliament, climate impacts were costing the Canadian government about $900 million a year. Now it is over $5 billion in not even six years. The PBO projects we will be running climate emergency costs between $21 billion and $43 billion by 2050. Therefore, spending money right now, supporting indigenous communities and bringing everyone together under a framework to tackle climate change makes economic sense as well.

I share this with the House as the critic for economic development for the federal NDP because it makes economic sense to do that. We cannot leave people behind. We know indigenous people are constantly being left behind. This is the opportunity for us to not only walk together, but to centre our framework and our plan around indigenous people.

I think about my friend Carol Anne Hilton, who is the founder of the Indigenomics Institute. We need to listen to the wisdom of indigenous women, who have ideas on how we can move forward when it comes to climate change and working with indigenous peoples. We need a plan that honours our international commitments and obligations to address this climate emergency. We owe this to our youth. We need a just transition to a green economy that brings workers along, moves away from fossil fuel subsidies and invests instead in a green economy.

Our party has been fighting for this for a long time. I think about the late Jack Layton and his climate accountability bill that he tabled back in 2006. We are ready to work with the government and the Senate to pass this bill now, to take the action that is absolutely necessary.

Canada is being left behind as many countries are moving forward, even right-leaning governments such as in Britain, Germany and Japan. They understand the economic opportunity as well. We need to do this, ensuring we do it with indigenous peoples and respecting them under the framework among others. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be at the centre of our plan. Right now we have no plan. We need this plan to be in place. We need the government to follow its words with respect to supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

This is the government's opportunity to engage in meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples and accommodate the concerns raised across Canada, including its failure to obtain free prior and informed consent. This has to be addressed.

Once again, I thank my colleague.

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

March 11th, 2021 / 6:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleagues, particularly from the New Democratic Party, whose wisdom and power today pierce my heart and gives me hope.

It is my pleasure to speak on my private member's, Bill C-232, the climate emergency action act.

We have international commitments to fight the climate emergency and to uphold human rights. This includes the UN Convention on Climate Change, the Paris agreement and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Bill C-232 would uphold these international agreements and would recognize the right of all Canadians to a safe, clean, healthy environment as a human right.

More than 100 countries in the world have recognized the human right to a safe, clean, healthy environment in their legislation and/or constitution. Instead of building more pipelines and investing in companies around the world that violate indigenous rights and hurt Mother Earth, it is time for Canada to follow their lead.

I know many people in the House will shamefully vote against this legislation at a time when we are in the middle of a climate crisis, and we see violent attacks on our Mother Earth. Everything we value is at risk.

Exploitive resource extraction companies continue to contribute to the ongoing genocide and an epidemic of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls, as noted in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The exploitation of our Mother Earth continues to violate the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples and all peoples across these lands we now call Canada.

Indigenous communities and nations continue to be denied the right to traditional land-based practices, the use and management of their own territories, while other human rights to housing, clean drinking water and health go unmet.

Even the Canadian Paediatric Society is raising the issue of climate anxiety being experienced by young people, who are the front lines, fighting to save our earth.

The government introduced Bill C-12, but it is not nearly good enough. In fact, it is a slap in the face to science and will not allow us to meet climate targets.

Bill C-232 proposes a framework for developing a made-in-Canada plan to address the ever-more pressing climate emergency, while it offers a clear strategy for kick-starting our country's green economic transition and rapidly reducing our emissions, while also leveraging this moment as an opportunity to right the wrongs of our colonial past and address violence faced by BIPOC communities in our country.

Despite the opportunity that we have before us, I sense that most members here today will vote no to Bill C-232. Before they do that, I hope they will consider what is at stake: every single thing we know and value; our Mother Earth; our health and wellness, and even the existence of future generations; our air quality; our oceans and coasts; water and food security; more fires, hurricanes and droughts; the further displacement of indigenous peoples, BIPOC and coastal communities; and even an increase in future pandemics. To turn down this opportunity in the middle of a climate crisis and at a time when we need to plan for post-pandemic economic rebuilding is shameful.

I ask the members of the House to think about how history will remember us in relation to this legislation. The science is clear about the actions we must take right now to avoid the worst impacts of a runaway climate crisis. This must be done while respecting the human rights of indigenous peoples and all peoples of the world.

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2020 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved that Bill C-232, An Act respecting a Climate Emergency Action Framework, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share how honoured I am to be here today to share my first private member's bill as a member of Parliament. It is a very exciting day, for sure.

Close to 50 years ago, in 1972, the first international meeting on the environment took place where member states adopted the Stockholm declaration, which affirmed our responsibility to protect the environment for future generations. It is 2020. We have failed. We have failed in upholding this commitment and we now find ourselves in a climate crisis combined with a human rights crisis in our failure to recognize a clean, healthy and safe environment as a human right, something that has been recognized by 156 out of 193 member states.

Canada is far behind in the world in taking bold actions against the climate emergency. This climate emergency is threatening everything we know and value. Wildfires, flooding and extreme weather are worsening. The futures of our children's and grandchildren's lives are on the line. All life is now on the line and everything depends now on the actions we take.

The Canadian Paediatric Society indicates that children are among the most vulnerable to the health impacts of the climate crisis. Young people also report frequent experiences with anxiety related to their fears around the climate emergency. The reality is that this anxiety is based in fact. We are running out of time to turn things around.

Canada has not met a single climate target it has set. Young people, indigenous peoples and civil society groups want action and accountability from our government. The impacts of the climate crisis are already being felt in Canada, particularly in the Arctic and along the coasts, disproportionately impacting indigenous nations, rural communities and communities composed of people from marginalized and racialized groups.

The climate emergency has significantly impacted and destroyed the traditional territories of indigenous people, in turn, impacting livelihoods. This was noted by the current UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, as released in a report outlining how the lack of legal right to a healthy environment had a direct impact on indigenous peoples and racialized communities in Canada.

We are witnessing around the country that individuals, indigenous nations and young people want real action to address the climate crisis. I know our party, the New Democratic Party, shares this concern. This cannot be achieved without the recognition and respect of the fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples as affirmed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Canada's nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples must be respected. There is no reconciliation in the absence of justice and this bill would be a step toward climate justice and upholding human rights, particularly with indigenous people, something the current Prime Minister indicated was the “most important relationship”.

People are tired of words. We are faced with the biggest existential threat, and yet we have a government that continues to fail to act, and continues to willfully violate the human rights of indigenous peoples on its own watch. There is no reconciliation in the absence of justice, and that also includes climate justice.

Moreover, indigenous women are experiencing the most direct impacts of the climate emergency. Their interests must be specifically considered under article 22 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states:

Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities in the implementation of this Declaration.

It also states that:

States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.

It is important to note that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found that a direct correlation existed between an influx of transient workers, those who arrived mostly in isolated towns and cities from elsewhere to work in mines or industries like oil and gas, and hydro, and higher rates of sexual assault, harassment, STIs and human trafficking. A right to a healthy environment and human rights of women and girls is always interconnected. We are sisters, mothers, aunties and grandmothers. Our bodies and our lives are sacred, like our Mother Earth. The life she provides needs to be honoured, just like our women, girls, sisters, aunties and grandmothers who continue to face unimaginable violence for the purpose of economic gain. We are sacred beings.

In addition to women, girls and transgender people, indigenous peoples are among the most impacted by the climate emergency, which includes the disruption of traditional ways of life and food security, especially in the north, which is warming up at a much faster rate. This has given rise to higher costs for imported food alternatives, leaving individuals able to afford only unhealthy food options, which contributes to greater food insecurity and negative impacts on health. Indigenous people in Canada are among the lowest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the country, yet research indicates that they are the most impacted by the climate crisis.

Indigenous peoples have experienced the impacts of the climate crisis for generations and are most often the ones on the front lines fighting to protect our Mother Earth. I have joined them on those front lines. We must respect indigenous science and knowledge that provides a complex understanding about how to address the climate crisis, which is why it informs the development framework of Bill C-232.

Yesterday I was really happy to see the government introduce Bill C-15, an act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is why I am especially pleased to rise today to present my private member's Bill C-232, an act respecting a climate emergency action framework, the first test of the government's commitment to upholding the human rights articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Bill C-15 requires that all new legislation from this House be consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I am very proud to say that Bill C-232 is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a bill that supports the development of a made-in-Canada, green, new deal that ensures that Canada takes all measures necessary to respect its commitments under the convention on climate change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that it does so while fully complying with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We have international commitments, as well, to fight the climate emergency and uphold human rights, and this includes the UN Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I cannot say that too many times.

This bill upholds these international agreements and recognizes the right of all Canadians to a safe, clean, healthy environment as a human right. There is widespread consensus that human rights norms apply to environmental issues, including the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. In fact, more than 100 countries in the world have recognized this human right in their legislation or Constitution, and it is time for Canada to follow their lead.

The Parliament of Canada has recognized that we are in a climate emergency, so the fact that the Liberal government fails to appropriately react and continues to put forth plans that will not allow us to meet climate targets needs to end. Bill C-232 calls on the Government of Canada to take all measures necessary to mitigate the impacts of the climate emergency and provides a framework to achieve a made-in-Canada, green, new deal with accountability and transparency measures to hold the government to account.

This framework would save lives and mitigate the impacts of the climate emergency on public health, the natural environment and on the economy while upholding, lifting up human rights. If the government is serious about Bill C-15, and I do hope it is, supporting this bill would be an act of good faith and a first attempt by the government to demonstrate that it is serious in its commitment to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It is time we begin divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in a green economy that brings workers along, increases employment in the green energy sector, and increases investment in green infrastructure and housing in respect of human rights. Bill C-232 provides the critical framework for this transformation to achieve the transformative climate action legislation.

We are running out of time. We must act now. Our ability to survive depends on what we do now.

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2020 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the importance of climate action as an issue, indigenous people are far too often overlooked.

The best example I could give is often when I am knocking on doors in Winnipeg North, I will run into individuals who were evacuated because of Lake St. Martin flooding that had taken place back in 2011. For years, they have been away from their homes. It happened that an NDP government intentionally flooded areas, including the Lake St. Martin, which displaced indigenous people. It was very severe, and we are still paying the costs of that.

Could my colleague provide her thoughts in terms of how it is so important that the federal government work with provinces, and vice versa, so that we could deal with these two critically important issues?

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2020 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my hon. colleague and the other colleagues with whom he works that human rights should never be a partisan issue. Human rights are human rights. I find it unfortunate, coming from a member whose province has the highest child apprehension rate in the country that he fails to even bring up in the House, which is another human rights violation, that he consistently makes basic human rights a partisan issue. Human rights should never be a partisan issue. I will always hold up human rights.

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2020 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for opening up the debate here today. She is very passionate. I have sat at committee with her and have benefited from our discussions. I congratulate her on focusing on items that are very important to her and her constituents.

There are many pieces of legislation, such as Bill C-215, her own piece of legislation we are debating today, as well as Bill C-12, that all relate to climate accountability in some way, shape or form. How would the member say her legislation is superior to that of the Liberals, or that of the Bloc Québécois, which is Bill C-215?

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2020 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, my bill provides a consultation framework so that any climate emergency action framework would be developed in direct consultation with civil society and indigenous peoples. It would not be directed by the minister, but by people on the ground.

It also has very clear accountability measures that are consistent with what we heard with respect to Bill C-15 yesterday.

As well, it meets the new minimum human rights requirements outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that any legislation has to be compliant with.

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2020 / 1:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for introducing this bill and for her work on a climate emergency action framework.

I noticed that she has focused heavily on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is a good thing. The bill also mentions the Paris Agreement and meeting our 2030 targets under this international agreement. However, I do not see anything particularly binding in this bill. There are no measures or tools to reduce greenhouse gases. There is nothing requiring that the government implement a meaningful action plan to meet our targets.

Instead of focusing on consultation, does the member not think that legislation to develop a climate emergency action framework should be more binding?

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2020 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my hon. colleague for all the work she has done with respect to her private member's bill. I have had the pleasure of speaking with her on the phone.

There are a couple of reasons why I did not put in specific targets. I left it open to be able to shift as science shifts, It is binding. Canada is obliged to adhere to the international agreements it has decided to participate in. It certainly made a commitment in Paris and will not meet the commitments and international legal obligations it has put forth. It has a legally binding context that includes international, domestic and indigenous laws.

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2020 / 1:50 p.m.
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Winnipeg South Manitoba

Liberal

Terry Duguid LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada) and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Canada Water Agency)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-232, an act respecting a climate emergency action framework. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the bill's sponsor, the member for Winnipeg Centre, and thank her for her advocacy on many important policy matters, including UNDRIP. I hope she will pass on my thanks and good wishes to her partner, Romeo Saganash, who of course played an instrumental role in UNDRIP in the last Parliament.

Her bill today speaks to an issue of urgency and importance that the government and Canadians also support: climate change. Canadians know climate change threatens our health, our way of life and our planet. They want climate action now and that is what the government will continue to deliver.

Bill C-232, an act respecting a climate emergency action framework, aims to legislate the government's commitments under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, particularly its 2030 GHG emissions reduction target, while also complying with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It requires the Minister of the Environment to implement a climate emergency action framework in consultation with indigenous peoples and civil society, to table in Parliament a report on the framework within one year and a report on its effectiveness three years later.

Another private member's bill that we heard about a few moments ago, Bill C-215, an act respecting Canada’s fulfillment of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligations, aims to ensure that Canada fulfills its obligations under the Paris Agreement to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. The fact that these two private member's bills both relate to climate change and have been brought forward at this time by different MPs demonstrates the importance of this issue for all Canadians.

Canadians continue to face the impacts of climate change during the COVID-19 pandemic. From forest fires and floods to ocean pollution and coastal erosion, Canadians are experiencing the impacts of climate change each and every day. Canada's climate is warming twice as fast as the average in the rest of the world. In the north, warming is nearly three times as fast. The effects of warming are already evident in many parts of Canada, and are projected to intensify in the near future.

It is important to note that climate change is a global issue. The science is clear. We cannot wait for the future to stop polluting, or to take steps to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Climate change action must start now.

According to the 2018 special report “Global Warming of 1.5 °C”, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, human activities have already caused approximately 1 °C of average global warming since the pre-industrial period. This special report also finds that global emissions must reach carbon neutrality around 2050 to limit warming to 1.5 °C. This was an objective that was identified in the Paris Agreement.

There are clear benefits to limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 °C, rather than 2 °C or higher. The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of these findings, and agrees that more action is needed globally and here in Canada. Addressing the climate change issue requires effective policies that will measurably reduce Canada's GHG emissions over the decades to come, while promoting clean growth.

We are ready. We are ready to take the necessary and decisive action to advance Canada's fight against climate change. This September we made a commitment in the Speech from the Throne to bring forward a plan to exceed Canada's 2030 target and legislate Canada's goal of net zero emissions by 2050. We are committed to reaching net zero in a manner that creates a globally competitive economy. Reaching net zero is a long-term project, and importantly a short-term project as well. It is also a tremendous opportunity for a more prosperous and resilient future. Achieving net zero will require a careful calibration to reflect Canada's unique circumstances including demographics, geography, the importance of our traditional resource economy and shared jurisdiction on the environment.

As economies reset, now is the time to set into motion some of these measures. We can take into account the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the context of economic regrowth and the transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy. Yes, we can build back better.

We will seek the advice of experts and Canadians as we chart our path to net-zero emissions in a way that supports sustainable growth, is sensitive to economic needs across the country and makes life more affordable for Canadians. Net zero is not just a plan for our climate. Net zero is a plan for our economic competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Transforming our economy for the future is not something one government can or should do alone. It will take time. To get this right, we have a lot of work to do with industry leaders, civil society, indigenous communities and all Canadians.

In the coming year, the government will seek the advice of experts and will consult with Canadians to identify pathways to net zero that integrate its environmental, energy and economic objectives. We will seek input from Canadians on how Canada should innovate and transform our economy to ensure a just transition to a low-carbon economy.

That is why the Minister of Environment and Climate Change introduced, on November 19 in the House of Commons, Bill C-12, an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, which is also known as the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act.

This legislation would put in place a clear framework for reaching net zero. It would require the setting of national targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at five-year intervals, and it would ensure transparency and accountability through requirements for emission reduction plans, progress reports and assessment reports with respect to each target. Plans would contain important information, such as a description of the key emissions reduction measures the Government of Canada intends to take to achieve the target for a particular milestone year.

Clearly, many of the themes presented in both Bill C-215 and Bill C-232 echo our government priorities. I want to thank hon. members who I have seen in the House for their contributions. Bill C-12 aims to provide a stronger framework for achieving Canada's climate change plan, as it is not only a plan for our climate, but also a plan for our economic competitiveness in the global marketplace.

If we want to be competitive in the net-zero emissions economy of tomorrow, we must stay ahead of the pack. It is good news to see that the House is united in finding a legislative framework to get us there. Once again, I thank the member for bringing forward such an important topic. I look forward to further discussions on Canada achieving its climate targets.

Climate Emergency Action ActPrivate Members' Business

December 4th, 2020 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have always really enjoyed Private Members' Business. To hear the ideas and passions of members is always an important part of how one member of Parliament can make a huge difference to his or her riding and to our country. Ideas can draw attention to an issue not yet contemplated by the government or present an innovative approach to a vaccine public policy problem. While they can be extremely divisive or sometimes bring people together, they are certainly good for our democracy and our way of life.

Indeed, when the member's of the third party voted with the minority government to shut down this place earlier this year, my first thought was this: Why would they deprive their members of the critically needed time for Private Members' Business? That said, I am not a member of the fourth party and I trust they were happy with that decision.

Moving to Bill C-232, I must confess to feeling a bit like I am in the movie Groundhog Day, although I will say that with so many Manitoba MPs speaking today, I guess we could call it “Winnipeg Day”. I say that because what Bill C-232 proposes is very similar to what the Liberal government's Bill C-12 proposes. I do realize there are some key differences, though, as I did in the debate on Bill C-12 when I referenced the history of where Canada is at.

We know that, in 1993, former Liberal minister Jean Chrétien promised to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1988 levels by 2005.

We know that Liberal promise was broken. We also know that, in 1997, Prime Minister Chrétien signed the Kyoto protocol, this time promising to reduce our emissions to just 6% below 1990 levels.

We know that, in 2006, when the Liberals were elected, Canada was 30% above those levels, and we know that Prime Minister Harper had to withdraw Canada from the Kyoto protocol because we would not achieve those binding objectives.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not point out that, at the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, Prime Minister Harper followed the United States' lead, signing a non-binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

After the 2015 election, the Prime Minister sent the largest Canadian delegation ever to the Paris climate change conference at a cost of over $1 million. Canada was back, he said.

We know while in Paris, despite often criticizing the former Harper government, ultimately the Liberal government adopted those same targets it said would be a minimum. Of course, we all know today the Liberal government has massively failed to reach that so-called minimum. In fact, some reports suggest the Liberal government may be off the target by 123 million tonnes.

Obviously that is why we are here today debating this bill and why last week it was Bill C-12. Bill C-12 was quite fascinating from a political perspective. It literally kicks the can so far down the road that it will be up to future governments, and ultimately the government of the day in 2050, to deal with it. How do we get there? There is no road map, no solutions and no costs or penalties for failure. There is more of the same, more promises to do better down the road. They promise.

However, that is enough about Bill C-12.

Bill C-232 proposes that, at a minimum, Canada meet the 2030 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions set under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Much like Bill C-12, this bill does not say anything at all about how this will actually be done. The underlying promise of every federal government to date has been a return to the targets set by Mr. Chrétien in 1993. It is easy to make promises about targets, but not as easy to meet them.

To be frank, I do not think that we will need both Bill C-232 and Bill C-12 going forward. One of them will be enough. To end the suspense, I will be clear and say that I already support Bill C-12. I will not support Bill C-232 as it now stands, and I will explain why.

It is not realistic to have two different regimes as we would have if this bill were passed in addition to Bill C-12. In my view, we need to ensure that industry and innovation are part of the solution.

One of the things that the Liberals' recent fiscal update proposed, and that I agree with, is funding for the home energy efficiency retrofit program. While Liberals have largely been silent on other climate-related measures, we do know that the Minister of Natural Resources has spoken about the future of hydrogen fuel cells. He has also referenced the potential for small modular nuclear reactors. This is important because we have to recognize that more electric vehicles in our future means we will need more low-emission power.

As I have mentioned previously, I can get excited as the critic for this portfolio when we can use innovation, instead of taxation, to lower our emissions. Why do I say that? It is because taxation, also known as a carbon tax or what Liberals prefer to say, a price on pollution, does not help a senior on a fixed income living in a 70-year-old home in winter temperatures that can drop well below -20°C. No senior should be forced to choose between monthly heating bills or groceries.

We also must be mindful that many rural communities simply do not have any public transit. B.C. has lost Greyhound as a private carrier. We cannot forget about these Canadians, and they should not disproportionately be faced to share a higher burden of the costs.

Before I conclude, I will give you another reason why I prefer the deadline set out in Bill C-12 over the one set out in Bill C-232. We cannot do this alone. Canada is just a small part of a global problem. We need to try to work with our biggest trade partner, the United States, in the hopes of achieving some parity when it comes to the policies and regulations that will help us to collectively reduce our emissions.

I say that because emissions are a global problem and yet climate change has had a devastating impact on many areas of my riding. Forest fires and flooding have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage. Changing weather patterns have hit local agriculture very hard.

I am sure that other members of the House could share their own experiences in that regard.

Like Bill C-232, Bill C-12 is far from perfect, but we need to start somewhere and we need a realistic timeline.

I believe that Bill C-12 better reflects that over Bill C-232. As a result, I will be supporting Bill C-12 at second reading, but will not be supporting Bill C-232. I would like to again thank the member for putting forward an issue of debate close to her heart and to those in her riding, and I would also thank all members for taking the time to hear another point of view on this legislation today.