Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act

An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

This enactment requires that national targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada be set, with the objective of attaining net-zero emissions by 2050. The targets are to be set by the Minister of the Environment for 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045.

In order to promote transparency and accountability in relation to meeting those targets, the enactment also

(a) requires that an emissions reduction plan, a progress report and an assessment report with respect to each target be tabled in each House of Parliament;

(b) provides for public participation;

(c) establishes an advisory body to provide the Minister of the Environment with advice with respect to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and matters that are referred to it by the Minister;

(d) requires the Minister of Finance to prepare an annual report respecting key measures that the federal public administration has taken to manage its financial risks and opportunities related to climate change;

(e) requires the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to, at least once every five years, examine and report on the Government of Canada’s implementation of measures aimed at mitigating climate change; and

(f) provides for a comprehensive review of the Act five years after its coming into force.

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

June 22, 2021 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050
June 22, 2021 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050
June 22, 2021 Passed Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 (report stage amendment - Motion No. 2; Group 1; Clause 22)
June 22, 2021 Passed Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 (report stage amendment - Motion No. 1; Group 1; Clause 7)
May 4, 2021 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050
May 4, 2021 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 (reasoned amendment)
April 27, 2021 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:45 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

It is sad that the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands worked so hard at the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development but was not even able to vote on her own amendments. Most of the time, the Bloc Québécois was the only party voting in favour of the Green Party amendments, which would have significantly improved Bill C‑12.

Considering the fact that Canada has never met its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and that there are not even any targets in this bill, does the member think that Bill C‑12 will finally help us meet our targets?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, I certainly appreciate the member's intervention, being a fellow British Columbian.

In the amended Bill C-12 after committee, there was a clause put forward by the NDP on basically using the term “independent” to make the advisory body independent. Does he think that is the case?

The minister said tonight that there was a milestone for 2025-26 included because of the co-operation between the Liberals and the NDP. In my understanding, that was an interim emissions objective assessment. Can the member comment on whether, in his view, those things do anything to strengthen the bill from a Green perspective?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:30 p.m.
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Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour and privilege to rise today to speak to Bill C-12 on behalf of Green Party members across Canada and the constituents in Nanaimo—Ladysmith, which is on the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As, Stz'uminus and Lyackson First Nations. I would like to thank the voters in Nanaimo—Ladysmith for putting their confidence in me.

People in my riding see the impacts of climate change and are deeply concerned about the future of our children and grandchildren. I was born and raised on Vancouver Island. I also see the impacts. I see the changes to our local ecosystem. The drought months stretch into winter. Trees more than 100 years old are dying from lack of moisture. August in southern B.C. is now commonly referred to as “Smogust” because of the thick smoke from wildfires that blankets the province. I do not ever remember being unable to go outdoors because of the smoke when I was younger, except for the year Mount Saint Helens erupted. The climate is changing and we are not doing enough to mitigate it and prepare for it.

Two years ago, on June 18, 2019, this House voted to declare that we were in a climate emergency. Eighteen months after that emergency declaration, the government tabled Bill C-12, a bill so hollow it appeared to be an attempt to fool the Canadian public into believing that real action was going to be taken on the climate crisis. Where is the accountability in this act, a series of reports that show progress or lack of progress toward targets? If the electorate do not like the progress that is being made or the lack thereof, it can vote the government out. As Greta Thunberg said, “net zero by 2050 is surrender”. Without tough near-term targets, we're abandoning our children and grandchildren to an unlivable world.

The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands offered to connect the environment minister with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. It could have helped ensure this was a meaningful bill, comparable to the U.K.'s climate budget law. She offered to connect the minister with James Shaw, the climate change minister in New Zealand, who just implemented a series of comprehensive plans to combat climate change. She suggested climate scientists who could testify at the committee. The minister did not want advice from any of these experts.

Why was the advisory body appointed before this bill went to committee? Perhaps because the advisory body is one of the great weaknesses of this bill. It should be an expert body made up of climate scientists, but it is not.

Bill C-12 has been mishandled. It was introduced in November, languished until March without debate and then languished again until May. Much of the expert feedback on Bill C-12 was provided to MPs when it was too late to bring forward amendments. This made a mockery of the process. There was no testimony from climate scientists, no youth spoke to the committee and not a single indigenous witness was heard. How often can the Liberals say they did not have time to consult indigenous peoples while also claiming that Bill C-12 respects UNDRIP?

Bill C-12 lacks a 2025 milestone, which was established in the COP decision document Canada signed in Paris. All the experts agree that 2030 is too late. The NDP-Liberal amendment for a 2026 interim GHG emissions goal is not a milestone year; it only provides a window to review progress or the lack of progress.

Why did the government reject the Green Party amendment for the plans and targets to be based on the best available science? The Liberals and NDP were so determined to block Green Party amendments that they voted down one that had the same language as the next government amendment, which meant that amendment was also defeated. After an hour of wasting time scrambling around for a solution to get that wording back into the bill, the government came up with this. It states:

The Minister must set each subsequent national greenhouse gas emissions target at least 9 years 366 days before the beginning of the milestone year to which it relates.

It does not say 10 years, as the Green Party amendment stated, but 10 years plus one day. This incident was one example of partisan posturing at its worst. The Liberals are trying to blame the Greens for slowing down the bill, but let us be clear. The delays were due to the scheduling of the bill by the Liberals.

As the end of the session approached, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands asked for nine of her amendments to be withdrawn to assist the committee with completing clause-by-clause. The Conservatives did the same. They were going to get voted against anyway. Throughout this process the Greens put climate first. The Liberals and NDP cannot say the same.

Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, will not hold the current government, the next government or the government after that to account for emissions reductions.

The so-called accountability in the act is no different from the accountability that exists today: If Canadians do not like the government's actions, they can vote the government out in the next election. The climate emergency demands the kind of accountability that is enduring and not subject to the whims of politics.

Canada needs to follow the example of the U.K., which established a carbon budget law that binds successive governments to emissions targets and holds them accountable, eliminating politics from climate action. The U.K. has reduced emissions by 42% over 1990 levels. Collectively, the 27 countries of the European Union have reduced their emissions by 25% since 1990. Shamefully, Canada's current emission levels are 21% higher than they were in 1990.

Canada has not met the targets of any of the nine international climate agreements it has signed. The last target Canada was supposed to meet, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, was set by the Harper Conservative government in 2009. While there were real attempts by the majority of provinces and territories to meet the target, the oil and gas industry in Canada increased emissions so much that those efforts were in vain.

The priorities of the current government demonstrate that it is not serious enough about the existential threat of climate change. The government is spending $17 billion on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Trans Mountain is not just a climate loser, but a money loser. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, the only way that TMX will not result in billions of dollars in losses is if the government abandons climate action and increases oil sands production.

The Alberta NDP government's idea of climate action was to cap emissions at 100 megatonnes. That represents an almost 40% increase from 2014 levels. The B.C. government's idea of climate action is to ramp up gas fracking and build new pipelines to export liquefied fracked gas, providing $6 billion worth of subsidies to five foreign multinationals. On top of that, the B.C. government is allowing carbon-sequestering endangered old-growth forests to be clear-cut.

How is it the federal government cannot ensure that the provinces work together to meet our international climate commitments? Why should we believe that Bill C-12 would change that?

These are just some of the reasons that Canada needs a carbon budget law. We need to take politics out of climate action and follow the science. We need a just transition for fossil fuel workers and an end to all subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

The real obstacle is not the climate deniers. It is the politicians who recognize the science but lack the courage to remove politics from climate action. Bill C-12 does not meet the challenge before us. It provides a false sense of security and pushes long overdue action and accountability down the road for another decade. That is not just irresponsible: It is immoral.

Every civilization in history that came before ours ended in collapse. History tells us that in every case right up until the beginning of the period of collapse, people thought everything was going fine. Historic collapses were isolated to particular regions. When the Roman Empire collapsed, it had no impact on the people of Turtle Island or on the southern part of Africa.

For the first time in human history, we have an interconnected global civilization. This is also the first time in history that technological and environmental threats could destroy the planet's ability to sustain life. Humanity is facing something unprecedented. We could lose the capacity to survive on our planet. The next collapse could be our last.

Accepting this threat and addressing it requires a shift. The magnitude of the challenge of the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis demands that we mature. We must choose to be long-term thinkers, collaborative and committed to mutual benefit. That is not a radical idea. It is a way of existing in harmony with our environment that has been the foundation of indigenous culture since time immemorial. Anything less amounts to a continued commitment to a self-terminating civilization.

Young people across the country are demanding better from us. They, and our children and grandchildren, deserve much more than this weak piece of legislation. I will be voting for this bill because it is better than nothing, but better than nothing is a very low bar.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:15 p.m.
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NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

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.”

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her support for a Conservative amendment to Bill C-12, which would deal with issues around electrification and transport. I know the member cares deeply about that. In fact, she was able to get an electric vehicle study from which I learned quite a lot.

Both the Liberals and NDP made a number of amendments, but most of the amendments already fell within the scope of the bill. It just prescribed exactly how the minister would do something. Most of them offer very little. For example, the NDP talks about the interim objective assessment in 2026. Even the minister tried to pass it off as a milestone.

Would the member give us her thoughts on whether these amendments would do anything further? What does she think of the government's attempts at transparency and accountability in the legislation?

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 11 p.m.
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Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, if people are interested in my speech, I invite them to read Gooderham and Nathan, from which I drew inspiration.

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? Not in Canada it seems. The increase in Canada's oil sands production is not compatible with the objective of attaining net zero. On the one hand, the report entitled “Canada's Energy Future 2020”, published by Canada Energy Regulator, does not mention any future changes in Canada's policy and plan that would limit the increase in the oil production forecast. On the other hand, the government plan, entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” and an annex released on December 11, 2020, contain no commitment to stop increasing oil sands production, which should continue until 2045, according to the regulator's report.

The government and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change remained silent for more than six months after the report was released. They made no comments about how to reconcile Canada's current plans to increase oil sands operations and achieving net zero by 2050.

As members know, the oil and gas industries are the main source of greenhouse gas emissions growth in Canada. The more they increase, the longer it will take to reverse the trend and the higher the annual greenhouse gas emissions elimination rate will have to be after 2050, if we want to one day achieve net-zero emissions. All of the risks, losses and suffering will be passed on to future generations in exchange for our own immediate financial gain.

One really troubling aspect of the Canada Energy Regulator's report is that it does not contain any analyses or findings to inform Canadians about the future levels of oil sands extraction consistent with the Paris Agreement 1.5° temperature goal. However, similar studies are common and achievable. Such a study would provide a reliable, tangible assessment of the future levels of oil sands production in a world that has committed to avoid a more than 1.5°C rise in global warming.

A recent example of such a study, dating back to late 2019, is the International Energy Agency's sustainable development scenario. It is even more important to have this kind of information on Canada's future oil production given the International Energy Agency's new net-zero by 2050 scenario, which is also set out in Bill C‑12.

What direction does the government intend to take with regard to Canadian production? That is important to know. The Government of Canada's remarkable claim that the oil and gas industries' greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced to 138 tonnes by 2030 has not been confirmed by any data analysis disclosed to the public. None of Canada's successive biannual reports have ever suggested that a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of this magnitude could be achieved by 2050. That means that everything is being done to mislead the population and give people false assurances.

I want to quote someone that I admire who passed away a long time ago. He was a great Quebec premier named René Lévesque. He said, “The task of real democrats is to ensure that the people are evermore up-to-date, educated and informed on their own interests.” That is what true democracy is, but we fall far short of that.

The reality is that, over the years, Canada has become a slacker on the international stage. Lord Deben, chairman of the U.K. climate change committee, said that Canada needed a constant reminder, nothing less. We need to hammer the reality home and highlight, relentlessly, what climate change denial leads to, as well as the negative economic effects that result from this willful blindness. Canada must fully grasp how its behaviour and climate inaction affect other countries around the world. We Matter. That is transparency.

Why is Lord Deben talking about climate inaction? Let us recap: On December 12, 2011, Canada became the first country to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which it had signed in 1997 and which came into effect in 2005. Canada had to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels. At least, at the time, we referenced the right year, 1990, and not 2005, as the current government is doing and as did the previous Conservative government, with the result that Canadian emissions only went down 1.5% since 2005.

By 2015, lots of Quebeckers and Canadians had lost faith in the Harper government on the climate question, so they tried their luck with the current Prime Minister, who promised to make fighting climate change a priority. That illusion was shattered, especially when the Prime Minister decided to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion.

The first Liberal sleight of hand involved the Prime Minister stating that the profits would be invested in renewable energy projects, making the pipeline key to the transition. Unfortunately, the price tag for Trans Mountain and its expansion has climbed to over $12.6 billion. There will be no profits. Essentially, the government decided to invest in fossil fuels rather than green technology, and taxpayers are paying the price, period.

Now for the Liberals' second sleight of hand in the fight against climate change. They want to sell us green oil, so they will try to persuade us that they are supporting clean, green hydrogen. The thing is, hydrogen is made from natural gas. It is blue hydrogen. It comes from natural gas, which is a fossil fuel, and that is what we need to avoid. In essence, the Canadian strategy's only purpose is to find new markets for western oil.

They also want to make us believe that we will reduce emissions with carbon capture, use and storage technologies. However, when carbon is captured and then injected into oil wells to extend their life, this does not reduce emissions, it increases them.

Finally, the third sleight of hand involves trees. The government is going to plant two billion trees by 2030 in order to continue operating the oil sands at the same time. Two billion trees will result in a total reduction of 30 megatonnes by 2030. Trans Mountain will result in 620 additional megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. We can easily do the math.

The government now claims that the trees would remove two million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. I am not a botanist, but how can trees that may not have reached maturity capture a significant amount of carbon?

I find it interesting because when we look at the Department of Natural Resources projections for the growing Canada's forests program, we see that the majority of the two billion trees will be planted in 2028, 2029 and 2030. So far, 30 million trees have been planted. At this rate, it will take 65 years to keep the Liberals' 2019 election promise. Of course planting trees is a good thing, but can we rely on that alone to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Let us be serious.

Canada's climate policy is underwhelming. Canada's climate governance is lacking and will continue to be, with or without Bill C‑12. Forecasts indicate that oil and gas production will continue to increase until at least 2040, and this is not compatible with combatting climate change.

Bill C‑12 was drafted and designed in such a way as to have no effect whatsoever on the Liberal government's plan. The Liberals are going to do some things, but it will not be enough because they are squandering all of the positive actions by continuing to subsidize fossil fuels at the same time.

My colleagues will ask me why the Bloc supports the bill, and my answer is simple. We support the objective of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and enshrining this objective in law is essentially what Bill C‑12 seeks to achieve.

We support the bill, but let us not kid ourselves. Quite frankly, saying we will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is not revolutionary. That is the target set out in the Paris Agreement, which we ratified in 2016. We can never say it enough: To achieve net-zero emissions, we must first reach global peaking of emissions, and Canada is not on track to do its fair share to quickly reach that target.

The Liberals should talk a little less about 2050 and a little more about 2030. Quebeckers can count on the Bloc Québécois to monitor the situation and stay on top of this government's actions. We will not let the Prime Minister continue to wave his Liberal magic wand to make us believe that green oil exists. The Prime Minister is a great defender of greenwashing because green oil does not exist and never will.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:55 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. The Liberals keep saying that they listen to scientists and experts, but they gave the committee just a few hours to hear from witnesses, including scientists and environmentalists who came to talk to us about the issue, what needs to be done, why there is a climate emergency and the importance of having a climate act. In other words, that is a bit rich coming from them.

I know the Conservatives really did their part in the debates. I would like to know what they would have liked to see in Bill C‑12 that would have made it more transparent, as the title suggests, more binding, and more demanding of accountability from whichever government is in power after the promulgation of a climate act like the one Bill C‑12 will become.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure tonight to rise again in the House as the member for Calgary Centre and speak for perhaps the last time in this Parliament, if we hear what the government is saying correctly, which is that the Liberals are probably going to the polls at the end of this summer, but that is for another night.

I would like to speak tonight about Bill C-12, an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

I remember when the bill first came before Parliament. We did our jobs as parliamentarians. We read the bill and we looked at the bill, and a lot of us supported the bill because of what it represented, but we did our job as opposition parliamentarians, not just as parliamentarians on the government side. We looked at it and said that we have to pick our spots here about what we criticize, what we work with the government on and how we move these advances forward.

When the bill was introduced, I looked at its words and what it seemed to indicate as its intent: to hold governments accountable for reaching assigned climate change targets. All things considered, how could I not support government accountability?

Frankly, it is the absolute greatest failure of the government for the past six years. “Accountability” is not a word that seems to be understood by this weak government.

Let us talk about accountability in this debate on the environment. In the Liberals' six years in government, we have seen six increases in greenhouse emissions. We have seen more and more failed experiments through misguided interventions, and I note the excess spending in the department and in contracts with so many self-interested non-governmental organizations. Billions of excess spending went out the door to unaccountable, connected organizations that are accomplishing nothing but are being very well paid in the process.

Let us look at another example of virtue over objectives and results. Let us talk about two billion trees. How long ago did the government promise two billion trees? This year it is saying that this year it will actually plant 30 million trees. That is pretty good, but if we think about how many trees Canada actually has, we realize that it is hundreds of billions. This is a very small measurement, and it is accomplishing next to nothing. This is something that is more virtue over results. We actually need some results on the environment, and we need to get there as quickly as possible with some real programs.

At first reading, I stood and supported the bill because it provided an accountability mechanism for a misleading, unaccomplished government. The veil came off that pretty quickly. The bill allows the Minister of Environment to appoint 14 representatives to a net-zero advisory board. They were already appointed prior to this legislation even being passed by the House, and it still has another House to go. The minister already has all his people picked out and put there, but it is also quite a power amassment by the Minister of Environment. Let us look at what he has done with his last power grab. Under the Impact Assessment Act, effectively he is the decider of every project that happens in Canada right now, whether or not it is provincial or federal jurisdiction.

This is something that is continuous. It is very clear that the minister is trying to get more and more decision-makers involved with his department and that he wants to make all the decisions for the government unilaterally. This is not the way Canada has been governed.

This board was constituted before the legislation even existed. It is a good thing that we took a good look at who is on the board. I will just go through one of the people, and I fully confess that I know two of the members on the board. I worked with them before, and they are actually pretty good members. However, I do not think two out of 14 are necessarily going to be holding the boat. There are some who seem to be quite obstructionist, so to speak, and the result is going to speak for itself at some point in time when the board comes to a conflict.

The executive director, Catherine Abreu of the Climate Action Network, is one of the appointees. What is her skill? She is an award-winning campaigner. That is fantastic. A campaigner is on a government-appointed board now.

Ms. Abreu believes we need to manage the swift decline of Canada's oil and gas industry, which is Canada's biggest industry, Canada's biggest contributor to taxes and Canada's biggest employer. That is great. We are just going to manage the swift decline of that industry rather than work with it to find out how we actually reduce carbon emissions. That is a good move.

What is this organization the Climate Action Network? It is a coalition of more than 100 organizations, including Clean Energy Canada, which all these others seem to collect around, and for some reason they need to fund an organization that oversees them. Who are they funded by? They are funded by each of the non-governmental organizations that is also funded by the government. It is a big circle of money pooling around, and eventually the taxpayer pays for it all, but let us follow the money. Environment and Climate Change Canada is the funder of many of these organizations. For a government department to spend tens of millions of dollars over budget and tens of millions of dollars more on external contracts for consultants is an embarrassment. This is where the money is going. It is all connected friends who are being paid in this process.

This reminds me of last summer and the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery: that bold environmental initiative from summer 2020. Of course, we cannot find a record of what it did or why it recommended what it did, but quite famously 15 individuals from 15 government-funded organizations came together quickly in the midst of a pandemic to not let this opportunity pass. “This opportunity” was the pandemic and people dying, because thousands of people died to allow them to move their agenda forward.

Those are scary comments. Parliament was shut down. Canadians were locked down. Were there meetings with these 15 organizations and these 15 individuals? Was external input sought? Did the Canadian economy or Canadian society participate in this report or these meetings? What about health care workers, teachers, businessmen, engineers, farmers, processors, technologists, workers, legalists and indigenous organizations? There was no input whatsoever. It was actually a whitewash of one professor's academic pursuit.

Stewart Elgie, of the Smart Prosperity Institute, drove it forward with one document. Who were some of the other partners in this? I will read them off: the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Efficiency Canada, the Transition Accelerator, the Institute for Sustainable Finance, Clean Energy Canada, Environmental Defence Canada, Corporate Knights, the Stockholm Environment Institute, Environment and Climate Change Canada, again funding itself, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and the Broadbent Institute. As well, a number of other institutes that are all funded by government come together here under the helm of none other than Gerald Butts: that beacon of transparent, democratic government.

If we look closely enough at all these organizations we will see significant overlap in boards, management and mandate. They love government money. Therefore, another circle of government-funded organizations gathered together to recommend more government spending on their initiatives. Members should not look for the report. It is not available, but we can see its recommendations, sometimes word for word and billion dollars for billion dollars, in the last throne speech and in this year's budget. It is government policy by a highly paid, self-interested Star Chamber. This is democracy under the current Liberal government. Are conflicts disclosed? They are not at all.

Bill C-12 proposes to ensconce this unaccountable, self-interested, conflicted decision-making body as an instrument in Canada's environmental decision-making. Indeed, some members of this board were involved in the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery. “Thanks for the deceitful work,” says the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, “Canadians will thank you with an endless stream of unaccountable funds.”

Bill C-12, supposedly about accountability of government, is in fact a removal of accountability of government. Members should follow the money. The government's friends are getting more expensive.

Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 10:30 p.m.
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Vaudreuil—Soulanges Québec

Liberal

Peter Schiefke LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am addressing the House today from my riding of Vaudreuil—Soulanges, situated on land that has a shared history among the Huron-Wendat Nation, the Mohawk, the Anishinabek Nation, as well as the Six Nations.

Today I have the privilege of speaking to Bill C-12, the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, and explaining why it is so important to pass it as quickly as possible.

There is an urgency to act on climate change and to put forward unprecedented actions aimed at limiting global temperature increases to no more than 1.5°C.

From 2009 to 2013, I had the privilege of serving as the national director of The Climate Reality Project Canada. During my work there, I came across peer-reviewed study after peer-reviewed study that showed the effects unabated greenhouse gas emissions would have on our climate here in Canada and around the world. For us here in Canada, the projections were dire. In fact, our climate was shown to be warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. In North America, warming is nearly three times as fast.

This is still the case, and we are seeing the effects. There has been record flooding in Calgary, which almost saw the Stampede cancelled; terrible flooding in Fort McMurray; and raging forest fires in British Columbia. Those have been compounded by the ravages of the pine beetle, which no longer has to contend with the cold winters as it once did. It is wreaking havoc on forests, reducing habitat for countless species and heavily impacting the forestry sector.

Prior to this pandemic, in the summer of 2019, I had the privilege of joining the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's Youth Council in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where we heard from hunters that the hunting season has shortened and has become more dangerous due to thinning ice.

I did not have to travel to the farthest reaches of our country to see the impacts of climate change. I needed only to take a walk outside my home in my riding of Vaudreuil—Soulanges in 2017 and in 2019 to see inundated streets, closed stores, and homes being washed away when my community experienced two record floods in a span of just three years.

This is our new reality and one that science warned us about long ago, but science has also provided the solutions. Canadians called out for change and action in 2015 and elected our Liberal government on a platform that promised unprecedented action. I am proud to say that is exactly what we have delivered on over the last six years.

Our Liberal government has already invested over $60 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help Canadians adapt to a changing climate. We have put forward unprecedented investments in clean technology and infrastructure, including tens of billions of dollars in public transportation, hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles and a network of charging stations across the country, $3.2 billion for the planting of two billion trees, and over $6 billion toward protecting 25% of our nature by 2025.

We also introduced a price on carbon pollution for the first time nationally. We are already starting to see positive results, with projected greenhouse gas emission reductions of 227 million tonnes by 2030.

These actions are unprecedented, but we know that more still needs to be done. That is why we are moving forward on delivering on our promise to exceed Canada's 2030 emissions goal by setting legally binding five-year milestones, based on the advice of experts and consultations with Canadians, to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

This was reaffirmed in the Speech from the Throne, which said, “The Government will...legislate Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.” This is what we will be delivering on when Bill C-12 is adopted by the House. In doing so, we will be at the front end of more than 120 countries already committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

As originally tabled, this bill served as a vital piece of legislation with legally binding processes for the federal government to set climate targets and bring forward plans to meet those targets. It also included rigorous ongoing progress reports, yearly reports by the independent advisory body, and ongoing audits by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.

The act had already proposed a number of accountability measures, but building on this, significant and meaningful amendments were made to the bill at committee. These strengthened the bill even further and include a 2025 review of our 2030 target and an interim emissions reductions objective for 2026, which would enshrine the principle of progression for future targets and codify our new 2030 reductions target to a 40% to 45% reduction below 2005 levels.

The amendment to introduce a 2026 interim objective as part of subsection 8(2.1) of the bill is an important addition to this landmark piece of legislation. This new provision would require the inclusion of an interim GHG emissions objective for 2026 in the emissions reduction plan for 2030, and would provide a midpoint check-in between now and 2030.

Another important amendment that was passed will require the publication and tabling of two progress reports, which are due prior to the end of 2023 and 2025. This amendment will provide even greater short-term accountability. It requires that the Minister of the Environment, in consultation with other federal ministers, prepare progress reports on 2030 by the end of 2023, by the end of 2025 and by the end of 2027. It also requires the 2025 progress reports to include an assessment of the 2030 GHG emissions target, and requires the Minister of the Environment to consider amending the 2030 target, ensuring meaningful accountability checkpoints over the next 10 years.

Furthermore, an amendment adopted at the ENVI committee further strengthened the bill by explicitly specifying that the net-zero advisory body provides independent advice on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, advice that is meant to be forward-looking. it also requires the minister to take into account the need to include members with a broad range of knowledge, experience, expertise and perspectives relevant to achieving net zero. This includes climate change science, indigenous knowledge, physical or social sciences, energy supply and demand, and much more.

Finally, the bill also enshrines targets and ensures that over time they only becomes more ambitious. That is why the amendment adopted by the committee, which includes our new climate target of reducing GHG emissions to 40% to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, is so important. It will also ensure that all future climate targets in Canada can only be an improvement on existing ones.

This bill has been drafted with great precision and care by the government. It has been debated, and we have heard from experts in a wide range of sectors. It is a culmination of the kind of hard work that Canadians expect from the House. Organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation, the Centre québécois du droit de l'environnement, Climate Action Network Canada, Ecojustice, Équiterre and West Coast Environmental Law, among many others, have all given their time, expertise and guidance to this bill.

Devoted members of the House, most notably those on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, worked hard on this bill to strengthen it. They include my dear friend and the chair of the committee, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis; the parliamentary secretary and member for St. Catharines; the member for Etobicoke Centre; the member for Guelph; the member for Kitchener Centre; the member for York Centre; the member for Repentigny; the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley; and the member for Victoria, whom I had the pleasure of working with to help advance this important bill.

I can say without hesitation that Bill C-12 is a better bill today because of the work of the Commons environment committee, because of the feedback of all members of Parliament committed to fighting climate change and because of engaged Canadians.

Several countries are accelerating their transition to a net-zero economy, and Canada cannot afford to fall behind. We must seize the economic opportunity that climate action provides. That is why achieving net-zero emissions is not just a plan for a better environment, it is also a plan for building a cleaner, more competitive economy and a better future for our children and grandchildren.

I am asking for all members of the House to vote in favour of this bill as we work together to ensure that it advances to the Senate of Canada for consideration and adoption as soon as possible.

After countless hours of clause-by-clause consideration, and the Conservatives seemingly doing whatever it takes to delay its adoption, I invite the Conservative Party of Canada to be on the right side of history and do what is right for our children and for future generations of Canadians by joining the fight against climate change and supporting the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act.

Canadians from all corners of the country are depending on us to get this done.

Motions in amendmentCanadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 9:20 p.m.
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NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to Bill C-12, such an important piece of legislation we are considering this evening. It is a bill that would create a framework for real climate accountability in Canada at long last.

We are debating this closure motion because we are running out of time in this place to deal with a bill that concerns the climate crisis, incidentally an issue on which we are also very much running out of time on. The springtime temperatures above the Arctic circle broke records last month, rising to over 30 degrees.

As we debate this bill, the American west is experiencing an unprecedented heat wave and mega draught, and NASA has just alarmingly reported that the earth is now trapping twice as much heat as it did in 2005. Across the globe, the climate emergency is already having serious impacts on human health and our economies, and it is time we take serious measures to at long last make a difference on this issue.

The purpose of accountability legislation is to keep our country on track toward its major emissions milestones, most notably those for 2030 and 2050. This is a tall order because, as a country, we have been dismal in living up to our climate commitments. In fact, we have not met any of the targets we have set as a country, and we have the shameful distinction of being the only G8 country whose emissions have risen since the Paris Agreement was signed.

It is unfortunate that the Liberal government, in crafting this bill, did not look around the world to the gold standards of climate accountability. We have heard a lot about the U.K. example in debate on this bill. Of course the U.K. example uses something called carbon budgets, and in that country it has led to the U.K. meeting and exceeding every single aspirational carbon budget it has set.

Instead, the minister took a different tact with this bill, and he never really clearly explained why that is, but as a result we have this bill in front of us.

A carbon budget is much easier to understand after all because it mirrors our financial budgeting framework. There would be a certain amount of emissions that, as a country, we could emit in a certain amount of time, and if we were to emit more than that, we go into deficit. It is something that is transparent and easy for citizens to understand. I still do not understand, even at this late date in debate, why the minister chose not to use that structure for this bill in front of us.

The Liberals introduced the bill they did, and we had some choices. We could obviously reject it outright and know it is going to be at least a year, if not two years, before we have another shot at a climate accountability bill, or we could work as hard as possible to strengthen the bill and make the most of this opportunity. That is the option we chose. That is because during the election we heard from thousands of Canadians who called on us to collaborate across party lines with other parties to ensure Canada had some semblance of climate accountability coming out of this Parliament.

In a minority Parliament, that is just not an opportunity. I believe it is a responsibility, and one we in the NDP took to heart. We brought our ideas to the government and we pushed hard for changes that would strengthen Bill C-12. Of all the changes we pushed for, the most significant one, as we heard so much about this evening, was the setting of an interim emissions objective between now and 2030.

The scientists tell us that this is the most important decade if we are going to turn around catastrophic climate change. So many of the witnesses we heard at committee told us that we needed accountability before 2030, and that, given the government's track record over past decades, it was not enough to simply say to trust us and wait until the end of the decade.

We are very pleased we were able to leverage a commitment to a 2026 objective for emissions. While it is procedurally different than the other major milestones in the legislation, we believe it plays the basic role of providing transparency and accountability and showing to Canadians whether or not, as a country, we are on track to meet that critical 2030 milestone.

There were other changes we pushed for as well, and we heard about those this evening. We wanted the bill to lay out the specific requirements of the emissions reduction plans. We wanted the advisory body to have certain expertise on it, so that Canadians could trust that the advice the minister was getting was adequate. The third thing I would mention is that we wanted indigenous knowledge, which we know is so important to have reflected in our legislation. We wanted that to be defined and built into the bill in a much more substantive way.

The minister agreed with many of our proposals. There were other proposals he pushed back on. That, after all, is how negotiation works, but let us be clear that this bill in front of us is much stronger today than it was when it was first drafted. With the passing of the Bloc Québécois amendment calling for a five-year legislative review, Bill C-12 now includes amendments from the government and two of the three opposition parties. It is not the bill we would have written, but it is a bill we can accept.

Canada's major environmental organizations agree Bill C-12 should pass, and six of these groups wrote us a letter back on June 7. They said that we cannot afford another decade of ad hoc, incoherent Canadian climate action. Climate legislation is essential to help drive the necessary changes and Bill C-12, as amended, provides a foundation we can build on to ensure Canada develops the robust accountability framework we need.

We have heard in previous speeches that the Bloc and the Conservatives are frustrated with the process, and that is fair enough. If the Liberals had given Bill C-12 greater priority in this parliamentary session, introduced it earlier and given it more hours of debate, we could have seen a more exhaustive, deliberative process. Why this did not occur is a fair question for the government.

As for the Conservatives, it is difficult to know how to take their amendments. They voted against pretty much every aspect of this bill. At second reading, they voted against the very principle of the bill, and the amendments they put forward at committee did not seem to me intended to strengthen the bill, but rather to blunt its impact.

Regardless, we now have a bill in front of us that is both less than perfect and much better than it was. The essence of this bill is transparency. Its value lies in the idea that a concerned and informed electorate, if properly and regularly updated, will not tolerate a government that refuses to take the actions necessary to drive down emissions. It would achieve this by requiring frequent reports, empowering an advisory body, requiring the minister to rationalize her or his decisions when it comes to deviations from the advice that body provides, and requiring ever more ambitious targets.

This bill cannot likely withstand a climate-recalcitrant, insincere government nor one that explicitly rejects our climate reality. By the same token, there is nothing in this bill that would hinder a truly progressive NDP government from tackling the climate emergency with the urgency that it deserves.

We have a choice, and I wanted to end in this way. Fifteen years years ago, our former leader, the late Jack Layton, put forward Canada’s first climate accountability framework with Bill C-377. I found the speech that Jack gave in this place at second reading, and I would like to read a passage from it in conclusion. Jack said:

Canadians have been seeing these changes and are calling for action. I think we have to say that they have been disappointed to date, but they are hopeful that perhaps for this House, in this time, in this place, when we have a wave of public opinion urging us on, when we have every political party suggesting that it wants to be seen to take action and, let us hope, actually wants to take action, there is a moment in time here that is unique in Canadian history when action can be taken. It is going to require us to put aside some of what we normally do here, and we have to understand the need for speed....

Our commitment to the House and to all Canadians is to do everything that we can to produce results from the House in the very short period of time before we find ourselves having to go back to Canadians. I do not want to go back and tell them we were not able to get it done. I want to go back and tell them that we all got together and we got it done.

Amen, Jack. Let us get moving at long last.

Motions in amendmentCanadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 9:15 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for giving me an opportunity to go into more detail.

My answer is very simple. This is the title of the bill: an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. That title does not accurately reflect what is in the bill, though, because the bill is not transparent, includes no accountability mechanisms, and offers no targets and no plan for meeting the targets. The bill is anything but transparent, accountable and binding. All it has to offer is a nice title.

The Prime Minister makes nice promises when he is abroad, but there is nothing that really has force of law.

Motions in amendmentCanadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 9:05 p.m.
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Bloc

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

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.

Motions in amendmentCanadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 9 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, with the introduction of Bill C-12, the government indicated it would collaborate with all parties to ensure an agreed upon make up of the advisory board, which is fairly central to the effectiveness of this net-zero legislation.

However, during initial debate on the bill, I asked the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for more details about the potential make up and powers of the advisory board, at which point he proudly shared that the advisory board members had already been appointed.

I would like the member to elaborate on the fact that, again, this shows the lack of true commitment to working within the House with all members of Parliament to bring forward the best bill and the best results to the advisory board.

Motions in amendmentCanadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 8:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege and pleasure to speak tonight to this important bill. I am going to take a bit of a different slant on this.

As members know, I was first elected in 2019, so I am a relatively new member of this House. This period of time just before the session ends for the summer is a very busy time, as I understand. This is my first experience with it. It is the first time I have gotten to see the government trying to complete its agenda, which is kind of lagging. What I have been expecting is the very best the government has to offer to get its agenda through before the House rises for the summer.

My background, really briefly, is that I come from the accounting world, and specifically the management accounting area. Efficiency was one of the things I really focused on. I worked in a manufacturing plant and I helped people figure out the easiest way to do their job so that it required the least amount of labour and we could produce the best product, most efficiently, at the best price. Essentially, it is where I learned one of my mottoes, which is “Work smarter, not harder.”

As I have watched what has gone on here in the last couple of weeks from my lens, a relatively new lens, I have witnessed the exact opposite of efficiency. It has been quite fascinating. In fact, I imagine that when our Prime Minister was on his way back from his vacation trip to Europe a couple of weeks ago, he had to stop in a quarantine hotel like all other Canadians, except that he of course stayed in a special hotel that was close to his house and was only there for a few hours—but I digress. He probably would have called his government House leader to ask how things were going and how the legislation was coming along. Unfortunately, the government House leader would have had to give him the sad news that nothing had happened, that in fact everything had stalled out because of the many mistakes made by the government. In fact, everything was in chaos, as he could see if he looked at Bill C-30 or Bill C-10 or anything else.

As we look at this bill, the government House leader has denied many times that the Liberals are going to call an election shortly, saying it is the event that just is not going to happen. However, in April, on this bill, the Liberals seemed to suddenly realize that they needed to pass something, and that is where Bill C-12 came into the picture. They needed to pass something just in case the event that is not going to happen happens.

After months of inaction on this bill, suddenly there was a big panic. Why is the government willing to ram through a flawed bill just before the summer? It is just in case that event that is not going to happen happens. Of course, the Liberals could wait until September, but here we are instead. It is the last panic time before the event that is not going to happen happens. This is hypocritical, and it is very disrespectful to our democracy.

I want to look at Bill C-12 through my new eyes. I had a front-row seat to this bill because I am on the environment committee. I have been able to see this first-hand. One of the questions I was asking myself was, “How do we have success when creating a new law?” Of course, the first step is to write a good bill. When the minister came to our committee, the first thing he said was that he was open to amendments. I am assuming he said that because he knew that the bill was not well written and that it had many flaws.

He just opened the floodgates, because there were 114 amendments that came to committee, and 17 of those came from the government itself. The bill was only 10 pages long at that point. That is over 11 amendments per page, or four per clause. That is a lot of amendments. Those numbers alone should prove that this bill was flawed.

Every morning we are led in a prayer by the Speaker, and one of the lines in that prayer is “Grant us wisdom....to make good laws....” I cannot sit back and watch this law come into force. It is a bad law. The number of amendments also showed that this was true.

The second way that we could have success when creating a new law is to get feedback. There was a lot of feedback. There were 75 briefs received by the environment committee, which is great. A lot of Canadians put in a lot of hard work to write reports and provide information to the committee. The bad news is that only eight of those briefs were received before we started our study. That was because the study was jammed in. It was rushed into committee with a very short deadline.

That means that 67 briefs were received after we did our study. It means that the work of many Canadians was ignored, and the government was happy to ignore it. It was not particularly interested in listening to the views of people who submitted the briefs. It had a plan, an idea of what it wanted to accomplish, and that is what it was going to do.

The third way we could make sure to have success in creating a new bill is to let the committee do its work. The first thing the government did was make a deal with the NDP. It did not want the committee to get bogged down in any details of actually providing useful information. It wanted to be able to ram things through.

The Liberal-NDP coalition did exactly that. It rammed this bill through the committee. Almost every single vote at the committee was marked by the Liberal-NDP coalition. The Liberals and the NDP made no bones about their coalition.

The NDP member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley posted to his Twitter before the clause by clause started, “[T]he NDP will be proposing amendments that the government has agreed to support.... We have also jointly agreed to a number of other amendments.”

What was the practical result of this? The New Democrats and the Liberals fell silent. They did not ask questions. I am not even sure they read many of the amendments or even understood what they were. They had a plan. They just knew to vote for this and not vote for that. Therefore, it fell to the Conservatives and the Bloc MPs to scrutinize these amendments. As for me, I asked reasoned and thoughtful questions of the departmental experts as to the consequences of certain amendments, but the problem was that there were 114 amendments, as I said.

As I also mentioned, the government put forward 17 of its own amendments. That means that on 17 separate occasions, the minister messed up drafting the bill and he needed his MPs to fix it. That is like us buying a new car, driving it off the lot and just as we are leaving, the salesman says he has scheduled 17 appointments for us to come back for maintenance because the dealer messed up and there are a bunch of problems with the car. Therefore, we drive it off the lot, go back tomorrow and the dealer starts fixing it. It makes no sense.

The Liberals and the New Democrats on the committee were only interested in their amendments. They refused to engage with us on our amendments. To prove my point, there was kind of a funny example.

Subsection 7(4) of the original bill required that the minister would set national targets five years in advance. The government and NDP wanted to change that to 10 years in advance. The problem was the Greens put forward an identical amendment and because they got there first, we dealt with their amendment first.

As was the practice of the government and the NDP members, they did not want to support anyone else's amendments and certainly not the Greens'. Therefore, the Green amendment was voted on and was rejected. Next up was the government amendment that was literally identical. The chair, rightly so, ruled that it was inadmissible because we had just dealt with this at committee and we had decided not to proceed with it. That was a big problem. Everybody wanted to vote for that second one because the members actually wanted the amendment. However, I do not think they read the first one from the Greens, which was the same, and they did not realize they had just voted down, essentially, their own amendment.

In the end, after a very long discussion and a lot of time wasted, the government members finally realized that instead of saying 10 years, they could say “9 years 366 days”, which was different enough to get it passed. I found that quite humorous, that the government members were not able to accomplish this.

I have an amendment that was read tonight, and it is in a section of the bill referring to the work of the advisory body, specifically the annual report that it has to submit. My amendment would require that the minister make the annual report public and, further, that the minister publicly respond to this report. It would require the government to actually take action, which is something we all know the Liberals are quite allergic to. The Liberals tried to make an amendment on this section at committee, but theirs was sloppy and it left the legislation in very bad shape.

Essentially, the Liberal-NDP amendment added words but it did not remove redundant words, so the bill as it is written right now makes no sense in that section. It still includes a long sentence that should not be there and it starts with a partial word. It just does not make a whole lot of sense. My amendment allows that wording to make sense again.

The Green Party put forward some really good amendments. The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands was quite frustrated at committee. I want to quote her because it is quite telling. She said:

I have to say that this is the most dispiriting process of clause-by-clause that I've experienced in many years. Usually amendments are actually considered, people actually debate them and there is a good-faith process....

I condemn this government for what it has done: for telling people like me, who believed in good faith that there would be an actual appetite for change to improve the bill and who accepted it and prepared amendments, only to show up here and watch Liberals stay mute, the NDP stay mute and march through their amendments, passing them in force, and not listening and not caring about the possibility that other amendments might work.

What happens when there is a flawed committee process? Flawed legislation results. Bill C-12 is flawed legislation.

Motions in amendmentCanadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 8:45 p.m.
See context

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I would like to hear his thoughts on greenhouse gas reduction targets. At the beginning of the parliamentary session, the Liberals' target was to achieve a reduction of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. In the budget, the government proposed a 36% reduction. On Earth Day, the target turned into a range of 40% to 50%. Not too long ago at the G7, the Prime Minister joined the other countries in aiming for a 50% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.

In spite of all these targets—and no one quite knows which one we are aiming for—the government has not managed to put a figure in the bill. Since Kyoto in 2012, Canadian governments have been systematically incapable of meeting their targets.

Does my colleague truly believe that the current version of Bill C‑12 will help us meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets?