Amendment BQ‑29 provides details for the commissioner's review of the minister's action plan and for the specific objectives of the commissioner's review. Without an independent review, the government's action plan can never really be evaluated against the objectives. It means that the public will never have an idea about the relevance and effectiveness of Canada's climate policy.
The commissioner is part of the principal accountability mechanism. It is the best transparency we have in monitoring the progress. Rejecting amendment BQ‑29 is, once more, rejecting transparency. The Bloc Québécois has introduced other amendments on transparency, and the committee has always chosen to vote against them. You have one more chance to vote for transparency.
Our amendment proposes that the commissioner be involved in evaluating the minister's report. Without this amendment, the minister will continue to do his own evaluation. In our view, the commissioner must therefore be involved twice, once to evaluate the plan and once to evaluate the report. The two are not the same.
In this matter, I am going to once more turn to the experts who came to testify before the committee as part of a study proposed by Ms. Collins. That study was about the possibility of making the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development a true independent officer, in the same way as the Office of the Auditor General, for example.
During that study, Corinne Le Quéré, the chair of France's High Council on Climate and a member of the Committee on Climate Change in the United Kingdom, clearly indicated that it would be desirable to have an independent commissioner. But she repeated that, in terms of Bill C‑12, the commissioner could well play a more important role. She came to testify to that effect on two occasions. Most recently, she said this:In the bill, the monitoring of the measures implemented is quite weak. The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development is responsible for this monitoring. The commissioner is asked to submit reports fairly infrequently, meaning every five years. There isn't any real reason to wait that long to follow up on the legislation, policies and measures in place so that adjustments can be made quite quickly.
Once again, she added:
… the current design of the legislation makes the advisory group too close to the minister, and the independence isn't quite visible enough. It must be at arm's length. The distance isn't very visible. As a result, the advisory group is too close to the government and too far from the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, who monitors policy. These two positions, the one that looks back and the one that looks forward, should be brought together. In addition, they would need to be supported by a very strong analytical technical team that could analyze the reasons for past shortcomings in order to make projections and support the advisory committee. That way, past reports and future recommendations would play a much stronger role.
That final paragraph speaks to what I previously presented to the committee.
She also said that an essential characteristic of an effective framework is to require the government to disclose in a timely fashion the key information that the public needs to correctly evaluate the effectiveness of the promised new climate measures. In her view, the basis of a parliamentary democracy rests on an informed electorate.
Many in that electorate are parents of children who, in 30 years, will have to take up the burden that we are leaving to them. We must think of them.
I'd like to remind you that it was the NDP, through Ms. Collins, who introduced the motion asking for the commissioner to be more independent.
Finally, I would like to quote a passage from Ms. Collins' speech, on November 4, 2020 on Bill C‑12. In it, she dealt with the role of the commissioner:
The NDP has pushed for an independent climate accountability office and the appointment of a climate accountability officer, who would undertake research and gather information and analysis on the target plan or revised target plan; prepare a report that includes findings and recommendations on the quality and completeness of the scientific, economic and technological evidence and analysis used to establish each target in the target plan; and advise on any other climate change and sustainable development matters.
Let me point out, by the way, that the plan has no targets.
In that passage, we clearly see what the Bloc Québécois members and the witnesses invited to appear for the study have been saying. A considerable part of what they have been saying is found in these two amendments. The one we are currently discussing is amendment BQ‑29.
If we want to be logical in terms of the work the committee did before Bill C‑12, and what the experts and the witnesses came to tell us, I invite the members of the committee to vote in favour of amendment BQ‑29.