Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. There seems to be a bit of a sense of electoral urgency in the air, so let me just say that I have always appreciated the honour to be their representative, and I will always keep fighting for their interests. I am thankful also to my family, who allow me to continue that work.
If we hearken back just to the Government Business No. 9 debate when it originally opened up, we had the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment and me. I was interrupted part way through for the proceedings of this place. It happens all the time, so I do ask those watching at home to know I am continuing my speech. In essence, I was giving a litany of concerns raised by the committee process, which was hastened by the Liberals literally steamrolling through along with the NDP. It was a process where people who wrote in to the committee were not heard. There were no indigenous witnesses. In fact, even the Assembly of First Nations' brief along with over 70 other briefs were not translated and sent to the committee until after the period of amendment. This is something that has been raised by a number of people as being a concern, telling people they did not matter.
Returning back to my comments, I was speaking specifically about the need for different aspects to be included in the bill. I will just start where I left off.
What we wanted to do was to include in the assessment report a summary of the measures undertaken by the provincial governments to achieve the national emissions targets. Once again, that seems obvious. However, once again without any debate, the Liberals and the NDP rejected it. There were no reasons given. They just voted against it. Their changes would be to include only the key measures that the federal government was implementing together with the provinces. However, since the provinces will be doing many great things on their own, should there not at least be a record of them?
The Liberals truly believe that the provinces are subordinate to the federal government and that, unless something is done by Ottawa, it is not important. That is not what we believe. A Conservative government would work with the provinces to reach our climate objectives. We believe that the provinces are partners, not punching bags.
There is another problem that I am hearing a lot about, and that is how the big push towards transportation electrification is affecting our electric grid.
Now, I support electric vehicles. Our party included an electric vehicle mandate in our secure the environment plan. We are not against electric vehicles, but Canadians are questioning whether the grid can handle this change. That is why we proposed that the assessment report in the bill include an assessment of the grid's ability to deal with increased demand.
We cannot move forward if we do not have the full picture. This was another reasonable proposal that was rejected by the Liberals and the NDP. We persevered nevertheless.
A lot of concern about the bill, including from me earlier on, has been about the formation of the advisory group. A significant number of briefs, witness testimony and amendments from other parties were about this very topic. We came up with what we believed was a reasonable approach: Instead of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change appointing all 15 members, he would simply appoint six, then the Minister of Finance would appoint three, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry would appoint three and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations would appoint three.
This would allow a more whole-of-government approach and for different ministers to put forward the priorities from their ministries into the advisory body. Conservatives believed this was the best way to ensure a wide variety of voices, not a body that includes people devoted to destroying a way of life for many Canadians, yet, sadly, the Liberals and NDP rejected it. Why did I list all these changes and talk about why the Liberals and the NDP rejected them without even debating them? It is because I wanted to show how much of a farce this process was.
Everything I mentioned was thoughtful and reasonable. We did not come in with a “Liberals admit they are terrible and should resign” amendment designed to be defeated, no. We came in with good ideas that the Liberals and NDP refused to even debate or consider, all of this after the minister said he was willing to work with all parties. Yes, sure. It was not just the Conservatives affected by this bad-faith deal between the Liberals and the NDP. I have already mentioned how an identical Green Party amendment was defeated. By the end of the process, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands had started to withdraw her own amendments because it was clear the Liberal and NDP members were not even interested in listening.
The Bloc Québécois put forward many great amendments, not ones that Conservatives generally supported, but thoughtful and productive. The Liberals and the NDP opposed them all without debate, except for one at the very end and the NDP decided to support adding a five-year parliamentary review. No one could have watched that process in committee and not be sickened by what they saw. The Liberals and the NDP not only rejected any suggestion that was not their own, but a great deal of witness testimony to boot.
Indeed, the few amendments the Liberals proposed and supported did not do anything. Many were just spelling out that the minister must do things that the minister could already do. The biggest joke of them all was an amendment that the target of net zero by 2050 did not mean net zero could not be achieved earlier, which zero people thought was the case, yet before we were called just as bitter as the Liberals, we voted for a couple of government amendments we thought were good. We came in willing to work in good faith. Unfortunately, the government and the NDP did not.
What did the NDP get for seemingly selling out to the government and agreeing to be its coalition partner in all of this? It was not much, as it happens. Basically, every environmental witness and brief stated there needed to be a 2025 target in the bill, a milestone target. In fact New Democrats themselves said that over and over in debate on the bill, but did they get that by making a deal with the government? No. Instead, they got a 2026 interim objective, which is not actually a thing in the bill and only exists in the NDP amendments as a topic that must be reported on.
In the bill, targets have teeth. They must have plans and reports. The interim objective does nothing. That is what New Democrats got for their undying allegiance in this. They also say that they got the advisory group to be more independent. What that really means is they simply added the word “independent” to the name. Seriously, that is all they did, just added a word. The minister still appoints all of them and decides what they will do unilaterally, but the word is in the title, so it must be true. It would be funny seeing what little the NDP members gave up in exchange for their loyalty if it was not so sad.
I am sure the NDP member will rise after me and proclaim New Democrats made the bill better, that they got the Liberals to make these nothing changes and that means they are doing really good work. The reality is that the Liberal government pulled one over on the New Democrats, gave them almost nothing and got their dignity in return. They will have to answer to their friends in the environmental movement for this sellout. I expect some of those meetings will not be pleasant.
That is how we got to where we are. The Liberals and NDP rushed the process, refused to listen to witnesses or briefs, refused to debate anything and refused to consider any ideas not their own, and that is just disgraceful. While we, the Bloc and the Greens were trying to debate, trying to do the thing we have all been elected to do, the minister accused us of filibustering the bill.
There were over 150 amendments and they were moving through at less than 10 minutes each. We were not filibustering, we were asking questions and debating, the kind of thing one would expect to do at committee scrutiny. To the Liberals, I guess daring to ask questions is tantamount to heresy.
We saw what they did to Bill C-10, stopping debate and passing laws in secret. That is how they want this place to run: a rubber-stamp for their Liberal ideas. I reject that. My constituents sent me here to represent them and to try to make the country better, and yes, to debate.
Therefore, I did ask questions during debate, and it is not my fault the Liberals and NDP refused to. In the Liberal world, even asking questions is apparently now a filibuster, because how dare we question the member for Papineau, whose ideas are perfect as they are and should never be challenged no matter who someone is. Well, I will because that is what I was sent here to do. I will ask those questions.
Since I wrote my speech, we had a closure motion pass today. As I said, the process the government chose was to put forward a bill and let it drag along and drag along. I would have constituents ask about Bill C-12 and I would tell them the government just really has not decided to move it forward.
Suddenly Liberals get to the end of the session and they start remembering there is a bill they have to do. They rush it through committee, a process I have explained, as well as how difficult it was on the witnesses, and even for members. I am sure there are lots of things Liberals would have wanted to ask more questions on so they could do their job as backbenchers holding the government to account, but they could not. They agreed to a strategy and they stuck with the NDP faithfully.
Since then, this very night, the minister tried to say Liberals supported the Bloc Québécois in their parliamentary review. That was fundamentally out of synch with any sort of reality. It contradicts exactly the testimony we heard earlier. The closure motion did not just cut off debate for myself but for all members, including those backbench Liberal MPs who maybe thought their constituents deserved to see their members of Parliament in action, asking questions, showing up to debate and putting forward their own ideas.
Let us be mindful, the House leader actually called the Conservatives out for filibustering a bill. We were asking questions, and he had the gall to say that we were holding things up. In fact, the Minister of the Environment a week ago Wednesday, wrote to different parties and asked us to finish the bill, which we were almost finished anyway.
We finished it Wednesday night, waited to see what happened Thursday and nothing. Eventually, our chair for the environment tabled it Friday and then Liberals said that they wanted to debate it as early as Monday, so we expected it. Then we found out that Government Business No. 9 suddenly springs out of nowhere. It sounded like they did not even want to debate Bill C-12, they just wanted to have something on the Order Paper, maybe because they knew it would not be ready in time.
What I am saying is the Liberals are in control of the agenda. One of the few things the government largely still has control of is the agenda on this place. Despite all their talk about us filibustering, they did not bring the bill forward. In fact, we did not even debate debating the bill, as in this motion, Government Business No. 9, until yesterday, a full week and a half after the bill was tabled.
I hope I have impressed upon members tonight that the government has slowly tabled a bill that many witnesses did not support, and then decided to let it languish on the Order Paper. When the Liberals finally realized they had to get the engines hopping, they jammed it through with only six hours of debate. Then they jammed it through again at committee. Now they are jamming it through today, so that even Liberal members do not get the ability to hold their own government to account, let alone all other members in this place.
I am deeply dissatisfied with the government. Canadians should see that the Liberals, by their own actions, have used a process whereby Canadians do not feel heard and their representatives do not feel needed. This is a minority Parliament. No political party was given an absolute majority in deciding the views of all Canadians.
This is where we are supposed to debate ideas and to force compromise. Instead, the Liberals and the NDP have linked up and said that they do not need to hear from anyone else. During a minority, that is a shame. Shame on the government House leader and the Minister of Environment for doing so.
On this side of the House, we will call out what we see. On this side of the House, we will fight for ideas that help our environment and help us meet our targets on climate change, not simply talk about them and talk a good game. After an election, a Conservative government will do what is right on the environment and do right by Canadians.