Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate our NDP motion to call on the Liberal government once again to end subsidies to its buddies in big oil. The best time to do this was years ago. The second best time to do it is today.
Time is running out, yet the Liberals continue to hold on to the strange idea that we are just another couple of billion dollars to big oil away from solving the climate crisis. It is wrong, and they know it is wrong, but they continue to maintain this fallacy and hope no one will notice that they are doing the opposite of what they are saying.
They may say they care about reversing catastrophic climate change, but they do not get to say they care while propping up the same companies that are wrecking our environment with our tax dollars to fund their bonuses. They do not get to say they care when Cenovus recently announced its best first-quarter profit ever, raking in almost a billion more than it did one year ago, or Imperial Oil tripling its 2021 earnings, or Suncor quadrupling its. These companies are not self-made. They are doing it with the government's help and with our tax dollars.
Meanwhile, it is workers, indigenous peoples, young people and northerners who are paying the price in every way while the government sits back. These are the people who are getting ripped off at the pump and may no longer be able to even afford to drive to their jobs, or are struggling to pay rent or pay for groceries, people who are consistently left behind by a government that likes to cosplay as the plucky hero saving the environment.
It is not heroic to give billions to big oil. It is not brave. It is not challenging the status quo. It is the status quo, and it is going to get our planet destroyed.
It is funny. The government regularly talks about listening to science, but it rarely does so when it comes to climate change. The IPCC has been clear on the need to end oil subsidies, yet the government pretends that this is not the case. The IPCC has said that countries like Canada need to increase investments in renewables by at least a factor of three to meet our climate goals, yet the government still has not done this.
It goes without saying that I would never accuse members of the government of misleading the House or even Canadians while in the chamber, but it does beg the question, what would we call a government that says it is tackling climate change by giving billions to big oil? What do we call a government that presents itself as an environmental champion on the international stage and to the public while consistently missing every target it has ever set? I will leave that question to Canadians.
The facts are clear. Canada has the worst record in the G20, handing out 14 times more financing to the oil and gas sector than to renewables. It is no surprise that big oil has always had the ear of the government, which I guess is easy to do when the government has had 6,800 recorded meetings with big oil. It has worked, having successfully lobbied the Liberals for a $2.6-billion tax credit for unproven carbon capture technologies that allow them to justify increased production and higher emissions.
In total, the government gave $8.6 billion last year to oil companies already raking in record profits. It is always the same with the government: help for those at the top and nice words for everyone else.
Those words have been nice. In 2019, we heard about the just transition act. The government failed to deliver, and the environment commissioner recently had to call it out over its lack of a plan to support workers and communities through the transition to a low-carbon economy.
At COP26 in November, we heard nice words again from the government, to phase out public financing of the fossil fuel sector. We heard nice words in the mandate letters for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Natural Resources. Every single one had nice words about phasing out public subsidies for big oil, but recent testimony from Finance and ECCC officials at the environment committee showed that it is not much more than nice words.
Let us be clear. Nice words do not help people afford their basic needs. Nice words will not stop the climate catastrophe.
My home is here in northern Manitoba, where long drives between communities are a daily reality of life. People here in Thompson regularly drive eight hours to our capital, Winnipeg, to pick up supplies and things they need. For many surrounding communities, Thompson is where many people come in for health care, to access other services, to pick up groceries and to shop for necessities. This morning, the cost of gas here in Thompson was $1.85; in Cross Lake, $1.89; in Lynn Lake, $2; in Churchill, $2.56.
How are people expected to have money left over for anything else when gassing up costs this much? Where do these people turn? Who is standing up for them?
A better way does exist. It is not too late for the government to reverse course from the path toward climate disaster it has put us on. It starts with ending subsidies to big oil and reinvesting that money toward both renewable energy and help for Canadians struggling with the cost of living. This is what our motion calls for today.
There is no reason the Liberals cannot start by eliminating tax credits for oil and gas exploration and development immediately. This would bring in almost $10 billion in the next four years. We ought to include profitable oil and gas companies in the Canada recovery dividend to tax their excess profits and redistribute that money to help Canadians struggling to get by. We must suspend the GST on residential energy bills, double the GST tax credit and increase the Canada child benefit for all recipients now.
I urge this House to support our motion, but there is so much we need to be doing. We must go further. We must do more.
My other question is, why have we not activated all the tools at our disposal, like our Crown corporations, and used public ownership in the fight against climate change? Why have we not made the types of investments necessary to support communities in need to fight back?
Indigenous peoples and northerners are already paying the price for climate change. How many catastrophic floods or fires before we take it seriously? How many evacuated communities, destroyed homes and livelihoods gone before we finally do what we need to do to save people, communities and our planet?
It seems that every year somewhere in the country there are record temperatures, floods or forest fires. Every evacuation, every destroyed community is a proverbial canary in the coal mine of climate change. Communities are crying out as they are being destroyed by our indifference. The worst part is that as long as we continue to give billions of dollars to big oil, we are subsidizing our own destruction. Every climate disaster, flood or fire is on our hands. We are doing this.
Today we are witnessing here in our part of the country the devastating flooding in Peguis First Nation, a community to which the current government and governments before it promised they would fund flood mitigation efforts, a promise unmet. Now, Peguis is dealing with the catastrophic impacts: a total evacuation of the community of over 1,870 members, and more than 700 homes impacted. We are talking about a community that has flooded five times in the last 16 years. It knows how to deal with floods, but it is getting worse.
The feds and the province may show up with sandbags, but when it comes to long-term support, the federal government has been nowhere to be seen. When asked about this by the CBC, the federal government refused to commit to long-term supports, leaving communities like Peguis in the lurch. Why? Imagine if there was a place for communities like Peguis to turn to in order to get the funding they need for the infrastructure they know they need that would help with climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
My bill, Bill C-245, an act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act, is motivated by the communities in my riding and across the country that have nowhere to turn to get the support they need to survive climate change. This is about standing with communities. It is ultimately about saving lives.
If this House is truly serious about supporting indigenous and northern communities, if we are truly serious about taking on catastrophic climate change, I invite all members to stand with communities like the ones I represent by supporting this bill when the time comes. For too long, this House, the government, has shown its loyalty to those at the top, those who need the least amount of help.
It is time this House, the government, stood with everyone else. It is time the government stopped being part of the problem and started being part of the solution. It is not too late, but soon it will be. Let us get to work now.