Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you for your patience with this amendment L-2.1.
It replaces amendment L-2, which did have financial and expenditure implications for the government, and we heard in your ruling, which we thank you for, in the last meeting that royal recommendation does not attach to this bill in its present form. Therefore we replaced amendment L-2 with L-2.1 because it explicitly avoids new expenditures.
I'm interested to hear the question that you put to the table right now, Mr. Chair, with respect to the relevancy of this amendment, and I'd like to speak to that pretty directly in very short order to explain why this is so incredibly important for the future of the country as we seek to both, using the government's language, clean up our air and reduce our greenhouse gases.
This is not a strange matter to almost every member of this committee, Mr. Chair. We have been seized with this in the environment committee, for those of us who sit there, and this is an issue that's been debated quite openly. The amendment has inspired itself in terms of the role and purpose of the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development, using standard agent of Parliament language—for example, the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Ethics Commissioner—and you see that in proposed section 72.15, as written in the amendment.
We have, however, added a few additional features when we speak about the purpose of the commissioner being to monitor and report on the state and integrity of the environment of Canada under proposed section 72.15. It states:
to monitor and report on the progress of federal institutions towards sustainable development through the integration of social, economic and environmental concerns, including
And you will see, of course, proposed paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g). Two new ones are (h) and (i), which speak explicitly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and also speak explicitly to the avoidance of climate change—something that I believe is inherent, if not explicit, in Bill C-30 as it is presently drafted. It's not only related to Bill C-30, Mr. Chair, but it's also desperately needed if we're going to enhance the environmental accountability in Canada for this and any subsequent government that might be forthcoming.
There are also some other standard agent of Parliament powers, starting in proposed section 72.19, that again flow from offices like that of the Ethics Commissioner. However, in proposed section 72.20—again very much, I believe, on point with Bill C-30 and its purpose—proposed paragraph 72.20(2)(a) is new, and it asks the commissioner to report on the sustainable development obligations of any federal institution that has not yet complied, not having been in compliance “in a timely and effective manner”. Again, that was inspired from the essential purpose of Bill C-30.
Finally, under proposed section 72.21, Mr. Chair, which is all new, it speaks very explicitly to air quality and greenhouse gas reduction issues, again as stated in the central purpose of Bill C-30, which is to strengthen Canada's regulatory, institutional, and legal framework to deal with both clean air and greenhouse gas reduction.
It calls, for example, on the commissioner, starting in 2013 and every two years after that until 2051, to prepare a report that includes—it's important I think to single them out, Mr. Chair, for a second:
(a) an analysis of Canada's progress in implementing the Climate Change Plans;
(b) an analysis of Canada's progress in meeting its international commitments and obligations with respect to climate change and greenhouse gases;
That might be international commitments that we presently hold and international commitments that could be negotiated and entered into in the future.
Finally, proposed paragraph 72.21(1)(d) calls for:
an analysis of the progress of the Minister of the Environment in establishing a reliable methodology for estimating and auditing annual anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions for Canada as a whole and for each economic sector and large industrial emitter;
This speaks to some of the challenges we heard from our witnesses, Mr. Chair, about the need for Canada to get a robust set of data on greenhouse gases on a national basis, on a sector basis, and for that matter, even from a large industrial emitter basis.
I believe this would not only be a positive contribution to the strengthening of environmental accountability in Canada, but it would also, I think, greatly supplement the objectives of Bill C-30 that the government has put forward in intent and in words as Bill C-30 is presently drafted.
Those are my thoughts, Mr. Chair, as I present this amendment and formally move it.