Madam Speaker, as this is likely my last chance to speak in this session, I wanted to take a moment to thank my team in Ottawa: James Hammond, Justin Vossenberg, Zhenglin Liu and Nick Watts; and at home, in beautiful northwest B.C., Eric Holdjik, Adelle Jonker, Josh McLeod, Ben Tassell and Enya Watson. Their hard work over the past year, and I know all members understand what I am talking about, in the challenging conditions of the pandemic has been exemplary and is deeply appreciated.
I also want to recognize my amazing colleague, the member for Victoria, and her legislative assistant Alicia Tiffin for their hard work on the bill we are discussing this evening.
In my remarks earlier this evening, I talked about the various aspects of accountability in the bill and the hope that those parts would work together to hold the federal government to account in the future. The stakes are exceptionally high on this issue, so admittedly it is difficult to accept what is an imperfect bill. To be frank, we do not yet know if it will do the job but we cannot afford the time it would take to do it over again. We must move forward.
It is important to note that Bill C-12 would provide a system for tracking action, but is not action itself, and concerted action carried out with the urgency this moment demands has been the missing ingredient in Canada for the past 30 years or more. We need action on electrifying transportation and expanding transit; action on retrofitting Canada's buildings; action on low-carbon manufacturing and industrial processes; action on clean power generation and transmission infrastructure; action on nature-based solutions; action on smart and sustainable community land use; action Canadians can see, touch and feel; and, most important, action at a pace and scale that matches the crisis before us.
If the bill passes into law, we will await the emissions reduction plan that will be required within six months. The contents of that plan, not this bill we are debating tonight, will determine whether Canada is serious about reaching its targets and doing its part to mitigate runaway climate change. Canadians, particularly young Canadians, will be watching to see if we are sincere about the climate emergency that was declared in this place just two years ago.
Seth Klein, in his compelling new book A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, talks about the need to mobilize our country around climate in a way that has not been seen since the Second World War. In his book, he lists four markers that indicate a government has shifted into emergency mode: first, it spends what it takes to win; second, it creates new economic institutions to get the job done; third, it shifts from voluntary incentives to mandatory measures; and fourth, and most important, it tells the truth about the severity of the crisis and it communicates a sense of urgency about the measures that will be necessary.
Looking at the past year and a half, we can see this emergency mindset at work in Canada's response to the pandemic, and this is something Mr. Klein notes in his book, but we have yet to see it on the climate issue. Sadly, the approaches to date have been tentative, not transformational. It is clear we need to do much more and we need to it rather quickly now.
I want to talk about an important aspect of our climate action future, and that is the need for a just transition. With the recently announced targets in this bill, we bump into an uncomfortable truth, the elephant in the room at the heart of Canada's climate predicament, and that is emissions from oil and gas, which have been rising faster than any other sector in Canada.
Between 1990 and 2019, emissions from this sector grew 87%. Paul Fauteux worked for the federal government as a diplomat and a senior official from 1980 to 2010. He directed Canada's climate change bureau and he led the Canadian delegation in the negotiations on the implementation of the Kyoto protocol.
At committee, I asked Mr. Fauteux why he thought successive federal governments had posted such dismal results when it came to action. This is what he said:
...Canada's climate policy has had, in effect, in reality, as a main objective, the protection of Canada's oil and gas industry. It has not been truly designed to protect the climate. The proof of that is that after all of these years of climate policy, emissions keep going up. Emissions from oil and gas in particular keep going up.
Last month, the International Energy Association, that granola-crunching think tank founded in 1974 by noted leftist Richard Nixon, laid this out very bluntly. In modelling the pathway to net zero by 2050, the IEA asserted that the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure needs to cease this year. That is a stark statement. Just this past Saturday, the Prime Minister endorsed the communiqué of the G7 that explicitly notes the IEA's pathway.
The fourth marker of a climate emergency mindset is telling the truth about the severity of the crisis and communicating a sense of urgency about the measures that are going to be necessary. We need the Prime Minister and his cabinet to be honest with Canadians about how they plan to reconcile the widening gap between what Canada is doing and what it must do.
Of all the Canadians who deserve the truth, workers in the oil and gas sector top that list. Clean energy does create jobs, a lot of jobs, but in some places and in some times, a rapid transition is likely to affect workers, and they deserve a government that tells them the truth and has their backs with a just transition.
I still feel relatively new in this place, and I have been reflecting over the past several hours on our adversarial system, and not only the results it produces but the way it sometimes pits parties against each other even in matters on which there is broad agreement. It seems to me that climate should be an issue of such grave concern that we somehow find a way to transcend that to come together, and I suppose that if the bill before us passes tonight at the eleventh hour, we can claim to have done so in at least some small measure.
Among its weaknesses, the original bill had strengths too, and that is not something I mentioned earlier. Many of the amendments that the Green Party and the Bloc brought to committee reflected our desire to make this legislation much stronger, and while I did not agree that Conservative amendments strengthened the bill, I appreciate that they are at long last grappling with the climate question in a much more serious way.
In a minority Parliament, the opportunity is to work across party lines to create agreement that can enjoy the majority support of the House, yet when that occurs, it is so often framed as backdoor deals or an “unholy alliance”, in the words of one parliamentary secretary yesterday. The fact is that the NDP did work in good faith with the government to explore the potential for strengthening the bill. We are guilty as charged. A bunch of the ideas we brought forward are now reflected in the bill, and to their credit, our colleagues in the Bloc voted for all them, if I recall correctly.
I have a brief story to finish my remarks.
Bill 41 was a piece of provincial legislation in my home province of British Columbia. It became the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, a much-needed and long overdue piece of legislation. There were a lot of questions and vigorous debate over the course of its passage through the legislature. However, when the B.C. government brought forward its Bill 41 for a final vote in the legislature in Victoria, it was carried unanimously by all three parties in the House and every single MLA. What a statement about the importance of indigenous rights to the future of our province.
With the recent vote, the bill before us now has amendments from every party in the House. Each of our parties has conveyed to Canadians that climate is an issue of urgent importance. Imagine the message it would send if we all stood together in this place tonight and carried the bill unanimously. That is my hope, and I hope too that the bill marks a turning point in Canada's effort to tackle the climate crisis. Years from now, let us look back at this point and say, “It was not perfect, but we stood together and we got it done.”