Mr. Speaker, this is probably the last time I will speak in the House under your chairmanship. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your excellent work. I must say that you are one of the only Conservative members who voted for my bill, Bill C‑215. You are a true gentleman. I consider myself fortunate to have served with you, even if only for a short time. I wish you a very happy retirement.
Quite honestly, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure where to begin with this bill. I would say that at the beginning of the study of this bill in committee, I felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve. It was the first detailed study I had seen in committee. I thought that finally here was a climate bill and that, although I was a little disappointed that mine did not make it to committee, at least we had something to work with, something to improve.
I would say that I became disillusioned rather quickly. It seems to me that as parliamentarians, as politicians, our job each and every day is also to show our constituents that they should not be cynical about politics, that we are here for the right reasons and not just for strategy, that we really want to change things. Unfortunately, I saw anything but that at the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
First, I have to say that the committee was forced to rush its study of the bill. As my colleagues have already mentioned, we had only a few hours to debate this bill in the House. It was then referred to committee and we had to study it quickly.
Today, we are voting on closure. On the second to last day of the parliamentary session, when we are finally debating Bill C-12, we are being told that, as a progressive party, we should vote for this bill. We really want to do the right thing, but we also would have liked the government to accept the Bloc Québécois's helpful suggestions to truly improve this bill.
As a result, we find ourselves with a version of Bill C-12 that, a bit like its original version, does not guarantee that Canada will meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets, as it committed to do on the international stage.
If the Liberals were serious about their commitment, they should not have been trying to pass a climate law just to say that they passed a climate law. The Bloc Québécois seems to be the only party that stayed true to its convictions. I do have to acknowledge that the Conservatives also stayed true to their convictions, as we saw in committee. They proposed a number of amendments and engaged in meaningful debate. I will give them that. Other parties disappointed us in these debates.
The objective was of course to create a strong legal framework that would enshrine targets in the act, establish the climate policy and require the adoption of a plan. It is all well and good to set targets and be ambitious, but without a plan, nothing will happen.
This suggests that the act creates some provisions and mechanisms that will guide the implementation, the assessment, the tools and the approach that will be used to really reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The Bloc Québécois included such mechanisms in our proposals, in Bill C‑215 and in the amendments we presented in committee.
The Liberal members voted against our climate accountability bill. They introduced their own bill that was specifically designed not to interfere with their current plan, which, as I mentioned earlier, is to continue oil and gas production in the coming years. That means we are heading straight for a wall.
I heard the minister say a little earlier that he had Bill C‑215 in his hands when Bill C‑12 was drafted. I would like to hope that the Liberals drew inspiration from Bill C‑215, but their bill is really not the same.
In fact, that says something about the Liberals' partisan tactics, which are shameful. We have said many times in the House that the climate emergency should not be a partisan issue. However, unfortunately, that is what the Liberals turned this bill into when they realized that they really had to introduce a climate bill because environmental groups all over the country were telling them that it was time to hold that debate if they wanted to pass a climate law by the end of the parliamentary session. That is when the Liberals woke up. It was not because of the climate emergency, but because they were running out of time before the end of the session. That is why we are here tonight, speed-debating this bill.
Not surprisingly, as I said, the Liberals reduced it to a partisan game, but who got caught in their speed trap? It was their farm team, the NDP. That, I have to admit, I was not expecting. Shame on me for believing for one second that the New Democrats had the same environmental values we do. Obviously, we are getting used to the NDP saying one thing and doing the opposite. That is what happened at the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, and I should have seen it coming. That was my mistake.
The government clearly used the NDP by promising them something. It refused the Bloc Québécois's help by systematically voting against all the amendments we proposed. We heard the Minister of Environment and Climate Change say a little earlier that they had voted in favour of at least one Bloc Québécois amendment, but that is false. It was the Conservatives and, for once, the NDP that helped us get that amendment passed, but the Liberals managed to oppose everything we proposed.
With the NDP, the government acted as if it were a majority. The NDP accepted the government's offer to make only cosmetic changes to Bill C-12, thereby squandering the balance of power the opposition would have had to really improve this bill. The NDP gave up the chance to strengthen Bill C‑12, and that is truly deplorable. It is as though all the NDP wanted was to make public statements to say or claim that it had negotiated amendments to the bill when, in fact, it did not achieve anything at all. As for the government's amendments, they stayed true to the original Bill C‑12 and had no real effect. These are cosmetic changes.
Even with all this inconsequential busywork in committee, Bill C‑12 does not even establish accountability mechanisms in case of failure. When the bill was introduced, the Prime Minister himself acknowledged this. When he was questioned about the lack of consequences in case reduction targets were not met, the Prime Minister said, “We live in a democracy, and ultimately it is up to Canadians to continue to choose governments that are serious about fighting climate change and that will be accountable to the public every five years.”
In other words, according to the Prime Minister, the act does not actually need to contain binding mechanisms. We just need to trust the Liberal government. In saying that, the Prime Minister admitted right off the bat that his bill was weak. Why introduce it, if not for electoral reasons?
Criticism poured in from all sides, from opposition parties to environmental groups. Even journalists were wondering why the bill did not contain any binding targets. That is unbelievable. The government threw out some figures without backing them up, saying that there would be new targets.
The member for Repentigny and I brought up those famous reduction targets. We fought to ensure that Bill C‑12 would at least contain greenhouse gas reduction targets. It is a climate bill after all.
As I said earlier, at the beginning of the parliamentary session, the Liberal government intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. On budget day, that target increased to 36% because of all the funding that was going to be injected. However, a few days later, on Earth Day, the greenhouse gas reduction target went up again to between 40% and 45% by 2030. A few days ago at the G7 meeting, Canada, along with other countries, promised to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030.
The government never managed to include any of these targets, no matter which, in the bill, despite the fact that the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change had told us that a target would be set out in Bill C-12. All they had to do was pick one and include it.
That is rather shameful because it tells us that the Liberals know that they will not be able to meet those targets. That is the way it has been since the Kyoto protocol in 2012. Canadian governments have been systematically unable to meet their targets. In our opinion, the fact that the Liberals keep changing the targets without giving them force of law means that they have about as much force as a New Year's resolution.
It is therefore difficult not to be cynical, and I am wondering how many times the Liberals can disappoint people before they do become cynical. I have a lot of things to say about all the ideas that were rejected in committee, all the suggestions we made that the government did not accept. I would have said that it was a missed opportunity, but the Liberal government knew what it was doing from the start. I think that is the most disappointing part of this whole story.
We will debate this bill until late this evening to try to make it better, but what will be will be.