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House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was accord.

Topics

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the privilege to present to the House of Commons 14 petitions signed by approximately 1,300 constituents in my riding of Crowfoot. The areas in Crowfoot that are represented in this petition are Veteran, Drumheller, Stettler, Three Hills, Trochu, Camrose, Hanna, Castor, Oyen and Acadia Valley, Flagstaff and Bashaw.

All these petitions call upon Parliament to protect children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.

These petitions reflect the opinion of a majority of Canadians in condemning the creation and use of child pornography. It is my pleasure to present them to the House.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition in regard to child pornography. It in fact asks Parliament to take action in an immediate manner to stop the use of materials that promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children. I think Parliament should do that.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2002 / 10:45 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

moved:

That, before the Kyoto Protocol is ratified by the House, there should be an implementation plan that Canadians understand, that sets out the benefits, how the targets are to be reached and its costs.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak today to our supply day motion.

The purpose of the motion is to give instruction to the government in how to proceed with the ultimate passage that it plans of the Kyoto protocol.

The motion we are tabling today reflects the concerns of a large number of members of Parliament, not just in our party, which has taken a strong position in opposition to the Kyoto protocol, but other parties that have expressed reservations as well. I think the motion also reflects the reservations of many in Quebec who may support the protocol but who have grave reservations about the lack of an implementation plan.

Finally, I think the motion also reflects the views of a significant number of Liberal members of Parliament who have spoke out about some of the deficiencies in the way the government has been proceeding. I will just speak to that for a minute.

We have had a very strange evolution to this debate. We had documents signed 10 years ago that led 5 years ago to the development of the Kyoto protocol on which there seemed to be very little, if any, action whatsoever in Canada until a sudden declaration by the Prime Minister after his pre-emptive notice of resignation this summer. Since that time, we have been subjected to a bewildering array of briefings, trial balloons, statistics, plans and, frankly, if I can be blunt, enough hot air to go along with it to warm up the planet all on its own.

We had another briefing this morning. After giving notice of this motion last night, suddenly the government comes up this morning with a document which it tabled in the House only minutes ago. That particular document obviously has not been subjected to a debate or a thorough review in the Chamber but what is interesting is that apparently in the minds of some Liberal members that document would satisfy the criteria of this motion.

Let me be absolutely clear, as I go through the motion, that is not the case. We certainly will welcome the government agreeing to proceed in the manner we lay out in our motion, but the document tabled today, which is apparently called “Climate Change Draft Plan Overview”, is woefully incomplete, uncosted almost entirely and subject to considerable more work, negotiations and agreement with other parties, governments and non-governmental organizations.

The motion speaks about the necessity of an implementation plan before ratification of Kyoto and it speaks about four elements that are necessary for an implementation plan: a true understanding of the plan among Canadians at large; targets that are achievable; costs that are laid out in detail; and finally, benefits that are clear and understood.

I will quickly go through each of these elements to underscore what we are looking for and to underscore how inadequate what we have today is in terms of what we are seeking.

My first comments will be on the understanding. We are looking for a true implementation plan. As I said, that is not what we have today. An implementation plan is not the latest version of a bunch of drafts and technical briefings that are just thrown on the table prior to a debate; although I am happy to see we at least have the government moving. A genuine implementation plan is one that is not only complete but around which considerable consensus has been built, consensus not only in the Chamber but among provinces, other levels of government and industries that will be expected to implement it, and ultimately the consumers who also will be affected. We do not have anything like that.

I should also say that an implementation plan is not simply a poll number indicating there is some sudden support for this vague concept. It is a genuine, widespread consensus. We have already seen in the province of Alberta the danger of the government suggesting that a consensus is achieved by a poll. We have seen support for the Kyoto protocol drop 45 points in the space of the last six weeks, so there is certainly no consensus in this country.

Members of the government have been complaining that all they are asking is for us to make a leap of faith similar to what was talked about in the pivotal historic debate on free trade in 1988. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is an enormous difference. In 1988 we can all concede that we did not know the full effects of the free trade agreement. However there was an absolute detailed implementation plan and document ready, in fact the document that the Mulroney government had attempted to pass through this Parliament.

We did know the implementation plan. We knew it involved withdrawals of tariffs. We knew that those and other measures caused significant cost to the government which had been documented. We knew about the establishment of panels to administer the agreement and we knew about some of the transition mechanisms that were involved in putting that agreement in place. We must say that what the government is suggesting today is nowhere near the free trade example.

All we have heard the government say is that it has some kind of plan to achieve some targets, and I will get into that later, with some kind of a checklist of up to 40 items, chief among them taxes, fines, trading credits and other paperwork, but it has not said what if any of these it will choose to implement. It has been involved, if I can be blunt, in a whole bunch of communication exercises that are a little more than smoke and mirrors. It claims one day that it will pass Kyoto with great fanfare and claim to be pro-environment. Then it turns around and has nudge-nudge, wink-wink discussions with industry, assuring it that nothing will change.

On one day particularly in my home province we have Alberta positioned and categorized as some kind of offender and villain in this entire debate. Then we read in the Globe and Mail there are secret discussions initiated by the federal government to get Alberta to be one of the first to sign on.

Everyone in the Chamber may not agree with the position of the Canadian Alliance but at least people know what we mean when we state our position. The Liberals are saying different things. They say one thing to environmental groups in order to look like environmental angels and other things to industry in order to attract and hold corporate donations. They tell Europeans that we will meet target reductions negotiated in Kyoto and then they turn around and tell Canadians that they will have ways to get around the targets that they negotiate.

Until they make real choices there is no way to assess the potential cost of implementing Kyoto upon Canadian jobs, incomes or families. I know that document will go to the provinces on Monday. There is no way the provinces at this point will be able to decide whether this is a good or bad thing for them based on it. If I can paraphrase that famous commentator, Rex Murphy, of CBC, who the other night said that the provinces could not get onboard if they wanted to. They cannot find the ship, for God's sake. I think that describes the situation.

Let me talk specifically about the issue of targets. Today the government is doing what it has done from time to time, which is to assume what we have assumed in our critique in Kyoto that the government will somehow meet the full target. The full target is, according to Kyoto, a 6% reduction in CO

2

emissions below 1990 levels, which works out to a projected reduction of 240 megatonnes of emissions of CO

2

. The government has hedged back and forth on that target and has sent mixed signals.

I will point out that today that although the document released continues to mention 240 megatonnes, 60 megatonnes are unaccounted for. The government simply has not decided in any way, shape or form how that particular group of emissions targets will be met.

We know that for months the government was claiming that it would get a credit of 70 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emission because of Canada's clean energy natural gas exports to the United States. We now know that is not correct. It is very unlikely that will happen. The government is scrambling now to fill the difference.

However it is more than just hedging on the targets themselves. It is important that Canadians understand the difference between targets that we talk about and what we are concerned about on this side, which is actual reductions. We have a bit of bureaucratic bafflegab here. They are not the same things.

Targets can be met, not by reducing CO

2

emissions but by engaging in emissions trading credits that ultimately will be paid for internationally. The deal today talks about two sets of emissions trading credits but I will not get into that yet. The government has said it will make all of the reductions in Canada, but today's plan talks not about making reductions but about engaging in international trading.

Obviously when we do not really know the targets the government plans to make in terms of its actual reductions, it is impossible for us to suggest what the costs will be and how we will meet them. That is the third item the motion talks about.

The biggest deficiency in the document is so glaring it is embarrassing. There is simply no costing whatsoever in the document, virtually none. In particular, there is no costing of government expenditures themselves. Given all of the deficiencies I have laid out so far, obviously the exercise of costing at this stage would be so highly speculative that the wider impacts could not be predicted and nothing could be met.

If we proceed with this and pass this motion and the government acts this way, it will have to have a fully costed plan. We make no bones about it. It is our conviction on this side of the House that we cannot in a cost effective way, in an economically sustainable way, make the entire reductions that Canada is allotted in the Kyoto accord.

Canada is looking at a projected 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. No other country in the world that is participating in this agreement has agreed to anything like that. Countries that have agreed to significantly less are having difficulty meeting their targets. We do not believe the cost will be met in any plan and that is why we will continue to push until we get a costed plan.

Let me talk a bit about how costs are impacted by the plan. One would assume that the lower the targets are, the lower the costs are. That in itself is not quite true. I will summarize the costs, and these figures are very conservative by any standards out there. Industry and the business community in this country are predicting much higher costs, but the government has estimated that between 60,000 and 250,000 jobs will be lost and expenditures and impacts on the economy will be between $5 billion and $25 billion.

If we chose to ignore the targets and simply said they could not be met because we did not get the credits we thought we were going to get and we did not get the energy exports from other countries, if Canada could simply decide not to implement those portions of the agreement contrary to the government's commitment, there is no doubt that the costs would fall. However it is very different if we are replacing the reductions with simply buying emissions trading credits from other countries.

If we replace actual reductions with purchasing emissions trading credits, the cost of this deal to Canada could rise substantially and enormously. We have no idea at all what these international trading credits would cost. We do not even know at the moment if a market for them would exist, and frankly we do not know how such a market would function.

All of this comes down to the bottom line. Forget about global costs. We still do not know even based on today's document, who exactly will pay. We do not know which provinces will pay. Will it be Alberta? There are fears it will be Alberta. Now there are fears it will be Quebec.

The government should be clear on this. It wants to point at certain big energy industries in provinces like Alberta and Quebec and say they are going to pay, but we should be under no illusions. At least 75% of carbon dioxide emissions come from the consumption of energy, not from its production. These reductions are bound to hit hardest on Canadians of poorest and most modest means.

Now I will speak about the benefits. The government speaks as it always has in very general terms about the benefits. I will go through this very quickly because I think the benefits are going to be the most controversial aspect of this deal

It is important to have some kind of basic grasp of the science. Canadians have to understand that the Kyoto accord simply deals with levels of carbon dioxide. It is not smog. It is not the smog problem in Toronto. It is not acid rain. It is a natural occurring gas we all breathe. Carbon dioxide occurs naturally in the atmosphere. In fact, 95% of all carbon dioxide on the planet occurs naturally. Only 5% is man made.

The Kyoto accord calls for reductions of around 6% over 1990 levels. For all intents and purposes, this amounts at the end of the Kyoto process to a worldwide reduction, if achieved, of less than 1% decrease in man-made carbon dioxide and one-tenth of 1% of naturally occurring carbon dioxide.

The relationship of carbon dioxide to global warming also involves complicated and complex science that is far from settled. It is a matter of significant debate. If I can cite Dr. Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who said:

But--and I cannot stress this enough--we are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to carbon dioxide or to forecast what the climate will be in the future.

We cannot predict the weather tomorrow with absolute accuracy. We certainly cannot predict the climate 100 years from now.

Models have been constructed that suggest there could well be a base line increase of about 2.5°C over 100 years. There is no particular knowledge at the moment whether that relationship has to do with natural or man-made carbon dioxide. Frankly, over the last few years we have failed to see the full rise in global temperatures that the models predict.

When the Prime Minister stands in the House and suggests that somehow Canadians will start dying from extreme heat in 30 years if this agreement is not passed, it is fearmongering. It is not a position that any credible scientist would endorse.

Let me go on with this aspect of the benefits. This is the most serious concern we should have. If we do not achieve even the reductions laid out and instead we go to trading schemes and in particular the international trading scheme, we are not achieving reductions. We are simply transferring wealth to other countries. In most countries this will be a wealth transfer to countries with far worse emissions records and far worse emissions goals than ours.

Sixty-five per cent of emissions in the world are occurring in countries that will not ratify Kyoto or are exempted from any kind of meaningful targets. It is very predictable that all this international trading scheme the government suggests it will cooperate in will do will be to shift jobs and activity and frankly, the production of CO

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emissions outside Canada. It is predictable, if not certain, that global emissions will in fact end up rising because of the structure of the Kyoto accord.

I will summarize very quickly that as we said about the Charlottetown accord that was voted on about 10 years ago, it is important that Canadians know a lot more. Ten years ago we were told there was a consensus on the Charlottetown accord. We had dire warnings of what would happen if it was not passed. The consensus collapsed within a month. The deal was not passed. Of course ultimately, life has gone on and I think much better than if it had passed.

Ratification without implementation is a dangerous strategy. As long as this continues to be the government position, we are going to ensure that ratification is read by industry as assuming the worst, making assumptions the targets will be as high as they could possibly be, the costs as high as they could possibly be and the unknowns as high as they could possibly be. We will not move forward in the country on any kind of environmental package. We will simply see investment in key sectors such as the tar sands and related sectors dry up. We are already seeing that now.

The government must present us with a full implementation plan. It cannot continue to play communications and legacy games with both the environment and the economic future of Canadians.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. Leader of the Opposition and in particular to the point he made in the course of his speech about his assumption that 65% of greenhouse gas emissions are from non-signatory countries. I would like to ask him whether he has been briefed on the reasons major countries are not coming into the Kyoto agreement, namely China, India, the Philippines and Brazil? They are countries that over the years have indicated repeatedly that they consider the first step is a responsibility for the industrialized nations to show their determination to deal with the problem mainly created by industrialized nations until very recently and that in a second phase the non-signatory countries of course would join Kyoto and do their share of work.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, first, I would dispute the assertion in the hon. member's question that industrialized countries are responsible for the current problem that has been created. We do not know that there is a current problem. Quite frankly, the purpose of the Kyoto agreement as we all understand it is to deal with a problem that may occur in the future.

In that regard, we look at the developing countries that are exempt from the provisions, countries like Brazil, China and India and we see that they are already major producers. China is already the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. It is already there. It is going to be more so in the future and it is completely exempt from the provisions.

I should also point out something which should be a concern to the hon. member and to others who have a different philosophy than I do. We believe that the really critical problem is not carbon dioxide, or certainly not the primary problem, but it is pollution and the creation of smog in the Asian cloud. I would suggest that is the problem we should be dealing with first. That calls even more strongly for the inclusion of those countries in an international protocol than does this situation.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too listened carefully to the comments of the Leader of the Opposition. I was somewhat struck by his disregard for the science pertaining to carbon dioxide. I would certainly suggest to him that this is not a philosophical difference. This is a difference based on concern about the future of the planet and about the health and well-being of our citizens.

The Leader of the Opposition seems to have conveniently ignored the impact that inaction and not proceeding with the Kyoto accord will have on the health and well-being of Canadians. I refer him in particular to the statements and cries from the Canadian Medical Association. It has clearly indicated its support for the ratification of Kyoto because of the importance it will have to the health and well-being of Canadians. The Canadian Medical Association stated that sulfur reduction in fuels could provide significant health benefits, not only in terms of the adverse health effects that could be avoided but also the economic costs of illnesses due to these health effects.

I ask the Leader of the Opposition and the Alliance Party, why have they chosen to disregard Canadians' health and well-being?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, it always amazes me that a number of Canadians on that side of the spectrum, particularly in the NDP, seem to think they are the only people who have any concerns about living in the environment. I do not know where they think the rest of us live.

We all have fairly serious concerns about the environment and about our health. In my personal case, we are talking about the contents of the atmosphere and I have been a lifelong sufferer from asthma. I am very concerned about my respiration and how this agreement will affect my respiration.

The hon. member suggested it is very important that we reduce sulfur and sulfur based gases in the atmosphere. That is an interesting argument but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Kyoto protocol.

As I have said before, if we are to look at what we think should be done in terms of dealing with environmental problems and atmospheric change, we would put a higher priority, quite frankly internationally and domestically, on dealing with emissions of that type.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, after listening to my leader I am interested in knowing if he is also aware of the speculation on what will happen when we have population growth. In other words, we are talking about capping at a level under 1990's well into the future.

I wonder if he would have any comment about the fact that obviously as we have a population increase in Canada, which we all hope for so that we end up with more economic activity, we will have more industrial and manufacturing activity. Therefore, I wonder if he would agree with the speculation that this would mean that as we add more people or as we try to add more to the economic value we are generating in Canada, we would have to do it at this capped level well into the future or at least until the Kyoto accord gets revised.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question. It speaks to the concern that most opponents of Kyoto have: that rather than targeting caps what we should be targeting is ultimately the intensity of emissions. There has been great technological progress made on that over the years and it will continue.

Let me speak specifically to the issue he raised, the issue of population growth, because there are a number of ways in which Canada is particularly negatively impacted by the provisions of the Kyoto accord. One of them is the fact that unlike most developed industrialized countries that have committed to targets, Canada does have significant population growth. This is not true in the western European countries that by and large have ratified the accord, so in that context looking at a cap is a much less onerous and a much less long term serious issue than it is in regard to trying to implement a cap in this country.

I should point out that this accord and the government, when it negotiated this accord internationally, disregarded other major factors that should have been taken into account in looking at Canada's reasonable share. It did not look at the size of this country and, quite frankly, the transportation needs that this imposes on all Canadian economic activities. That growth of transportation, the use of energy by transportation, is another reason why we face such serious implementation problems. I also have to admit that, notwithstanding global warming, just the general coldness of the Canadian climate should have at least been considered by the government before it adopted our international targets.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Durham Ontario

Liberal

Alex Shepherd LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I was just wondering while listening to the Leader of the Opposition's speech about the connection between carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. I know that his party likes to be a sort of spokesperson for the business interests in the country and I have noticed that the insurance industry has been very clear in saying that it no longer wants to cover for the issue of climate change. For some of those businesses, indeed even the oil and gas sector, when they are reviewing their insurance policies, these insurance companies are now saying they will not insure for the downside of climate change. How does the member reconcile that with his stand on not proceeding with the accord?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that I have to reconcile that. I think it is the hon. member who is going to have to reconcile a few things here. Just about every major business group in this country is opposed to this accord. I certainly hope he is not suggesting that all of these industries and businesses simply do not understand their own business.

Let me go a little further in pointing out that this member represents an area of Ontario that is highly tied to the automobile industry, that is highly tied to the expense of energy and the use of energy through that industry. If he is going to suggest we proceed with this accord, and not just proceed but proceed blindly as the government proposes, I hope he is prepared to go not to just the big fat cat oil executives who are donating to the Liberal leadership candidates but to the workers on the shop floors and explain to them the implications of this accord and these targets on their jobs and on their livelihoods.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Parkdale--High Park.

I am quite pleased to see that the Alliance is supporting the Kyoto accord. That is what the motion says and I must admit my surprise at seeing the motion, which supports exactly what the government is talking about doing, that is, ratifying Kyoto after we set out an implementation plan. I look forward to joining my colleagues in the Alliance Party in December when they vote in favour of the Kyoto accord and ratification.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Their motion today says they support it.

In recent months there has been a wide range of estimates on the economic impacts of Canadian implementation of the Kyoto protocol. Even in the House we have heard repeated some of the large scale claims from different interest groups on the impact of taking action on climate change. I want to comment on the economics of action and of inaction. I also want to take a step back and comment on all these estimates that are being tossed around.

Probably the single most important point to make is that this work of preparing estimates has been a cooperative effort between the federal government and the provinces for years now. The federal government has worked closely with the provinces on this because the goal is an approach that enables all of Canada to be part of meeting our Kyoto target.

To achieve this goal, a working group of economics and modelling experts from both the federal government and the provinces have worked with specialized economic models operated by the private sector to undertake a comprehensive forecast for Canada. All of this work has been and is being done outside of government by two organizations in the private sector, Informetrica and the Canadian Energy Research Institute. But did they work on their own to do all of this? No, they also worked with experts in those industries that are most concerned about the potential impacts of climate change, such as the oil industry, the chemical producers, manufacturers and so on, to fine tune the model. Every time the policy options have become clearer, the modelling has been updated to reflect the most likely situation.

This is important because all too often some people have been willing to use old information to create scare stories about the potential impacts of Kyoto on Canadian jobs and Canada's economy. For example, the ability that Canada negotiated in 2001 to get credit for the impact of our well managed forests and farmlands on greenhouse gas emissions has an important impact on the modelling results. Old estimates that do not take that into account simply are not as accurate as the new estimates based upon the real world of Kyoto.

Where does all this economic modelling stand right now? What does it tell us? The modelling looks at the impacts on Canada, on individual provinces and territories and on sectors of our economy. In doing all of this, it uses the most current thinking on possible policies that governments could put in place, so it takes into account different ways of addressing greenhouse gas emissions.

The modellers were clear, as economists always have been, that this modelling has its limits. It normally can offer only partial assessments of costs and benefits. It cannot hope to capture the full range of choices and decisions in a complex economy such as Canada's, but here is what they found in general. They compared the general economic impact of Kyoto to what would happen if there were no Kyoto protocol. They estimated that our total gross domestic product by 2010 would be a small amount less than it would have been otherwise, somewhere between four-tenths of 1% less to 1.6% less, depending upon what assumptions we use. This is a modest impact relative to the strong economic growth of 18% that economists expect over this eight year period.

Which is the more likely scenario? There is a pretty strong consensus that the impact probably will be to the low end of the range because the international price of carbon is expected to be around $10 per tonne. The impact on growth will be fairly minimal. We will have a lot of growth, just a modest amount less than we might have had otherwise.

What about jobs? The analysis shows that instead of the roughly 1.32 million new jobs that Canada would gain over the next eight years, we would gain between 1.08 million in a worst case scenario and 1.26 million in the more likely scenario. We must remember that this is not about actually losing jobs. It is about creating slightly fewer than we might have otherwise. This has to be put into perspective. For one thing, the economists only make a small allowance for new job creation in response to Kyoto-generated opportunities and innovation.

More than that, we have to remember how well the Canadian economy has been creating jobs. The Canadian economy generated 427,000 new jobs in the past nine months, so if the economists tell us we might not create 60,000 jobs over eight years, it pales in comparison to what we are creating just because of our economic strength.

We cannot stop with that kind of analysis of the costs. After all, actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also typically reduce other atmospheric emissions. The federal-provincial working group of economists estimated the health benefits of clear air due to Kyoto actions at between $150 million and $250 million per year. These come from more smog-free days, fewer cases of respiratory diseases and asthma, and fewer hospital admissions and avoidable deaths. Those are the straight economic impacts. They say nothing about the value of improving the health of our communities, our kids, our seniors and everyone else. Even with that, the models did not try to estimate the impacts of related reductions across all pollutants. The models did not include non-environment related benefits, such as economic and safety benefits from reduced traffic congestion if we can make public transit more attractive.

All of these are the costs and benefits of action, but let us also be clear that inaction has very real costs too. Climate change is expected to lead to more droughts and severe weather events such as floods and intense storms. The scientists who study these issues say that we could see more episodes like the ones we have seen in recent years.

We may remember that droughts in 2001 cost the Canadian economy more than $5 billion. The 1998 ice storm cost Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick more than $6 billion. The floods in Manitoba and the Saguenay region of Quebec a few years back are other costly examples that we want to avoid through strong action on climate change. These floods will happen more often. For example, between 1900 and 1950 there were two peak flows of the Red River that surpassed the 2,000 cubic metre per second mark. In the next 50 years there were eleven, with the last flood exceeding all of them by a big margin.

Inaction would make it a lot less likely that we could spur innovation in Canada. Many firms in Canada and internationally are already making more efficient use of energy and resources and introducing new processes to cut their GHG emissions. With a national commitment to reach our Kyoto target, we could realistically expect to see more innovation and the creation of more export opportunities for these new technologies and processes. We have already seen this in the past because the history of environmental action shows an enormous capacity for innovation. Costs are typically lower than expected and results come sooner. We saw this on acid raid and on protecting our ozone layer, for example.

The best evidence tells us that while there will likely be some costs of action on Kyoto, they will probably be modest and almost certainly much more so than the claims that some interest groups suggest. Those costs will actually be more in terms of forgone activity, not losses compared to today. But there will be benefits: the benefits of better health, the benefits of innovation and economic benefits as well. All of this pales beside the benefits of taking action to address a challenge that future generations will be glad we did.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us first remember that asthma is caused by smog, not by a greenhouse gas, and that health concerns are about smog and this is about climate change and greenhouse gases.

Second, let us say that there are a lot of innovative companies in Canada. They have received no encouragement over the years from the Canadian government. It is sort of being a boy scout to say now there will be all these jobs out there when Denmark, Germany, the United States and Japan are leaders in alternate energy research. It certainly is not Canada, because nothing has been done to help that.

If we talk to the chief climatologist at Environment Canada, he will tell us that we cannot do a model that will accurately predict the next 30 days of weather. It is rather interesting that the government can get a model that will project for the next hundred years. With El Nino and all the factors that come into weather change, how can the member justify that she or the government can accurately predict what the weather will be for the next hundred years?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, with respect, the hon. member should know that a thousand scientists across the world have signed on to the science behind climate change. The Government of Canada has invested in innovation and technology. Technology Partnerships Canada is one example of that.

Quite frankly, I think the hon. member likes to talk about gloom and doom rather than deal with some of the facts that are all around us. For instance, 50% of emissions come from large industrial emitters. I know that the oil industry in Alberta will be opening up some new energy plants using coal. Why can we not use, for instance, electricity that is in surplus in Manitoba and across the country? Instead of silos, why can we not use all our best resources?

With regard to ethanol, the United States has bought into ethanol and its farms will be producing a heck of a lot more corn than we will. That will reduce the emissions. I can use example after example. Our caucus and our government have been dealing with the issue of ethanol for some time. We have taken some initiatives on that and I think we should be much more aggressive with that as well.

We should be looking at solutions that will make our environment much more healthy for our future generations who will inherit the earth rather than talking about gloom and doom. We should do what we can instead of sticking our head in the sand and saying that it cannot be done. With respect, it can be done.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, allow me to take advantage of this question and comment period to put a question to the government side. I find it rather ironic that, concerning a Canadian Alliance motion on Kyoto, the answer is coming today not from the minister himself, or even his parliamentary secretary, but from a member across the way.

It is rather ironic to see how unwilling this government is to engage in real debates in this place and to provide real answers to the opposition's questions.

There is another aspect. In his statement, the government member opposite never dared say how he intended to vote on this motion.

Does he intend to vote for or against it? Does he not find it ironic that the Canadian Alliance motion does not specify that a vote ought to take place by the end of the year, despite the commitment made by the Prime Minister when he was abroad?

Is the government not telling us that it will be voting for a motion at odds with what the Prime Minister stated abroad?

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11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister has spoken on this issue many times. We have been consulting with Canadians for five years. With respect, this is a democracy.

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11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

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11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Wait a minute. The Alliance is complaining now. The reality is that I am a member of Parliament so why can I not respond and discuss this issue? This is a democracy. We have a lot of MPs in the House who have a right to speak on the issue. It does not have to be just the minister who does it every day in question period and at other times in the House and elsewhere across the country. This is a debate that was put forward, and appropriately so, today. It is one that I support. I want to see Kyoto ratified. I think it is the right thing to do. I am quite happy to see that the Alliance is supporting it and that the member from the Bloc is also supportive of the ratification of Kyoto, if I am not mistaken.

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11:35 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to speak to the opposition motion. During my time I will talk about the consultations I have had with my constituents in the riding of Parkdale--High Park on this issue. The motion reads:

That, before the Kyoto Protocol is ratified by the House, there should be an implementation plan that Canadians understand, that sets out the benefits, how the targets are to be reached and its costs.

The motion almost assumes that Canadians do not understand and for some reason do not know the benefits. I can assure the House that in my riding of Parkdale--High Park, this is a very important issue.

The official opposition seems to imply that we as the government have done nothing. That is not true at all. A lot of work has been done. I would like to praise the work of the economic development committee which examined this issue and helped the members prepare a questionnaire on Canada and the Kyoto protocol.

I would like to share some of those questions that the committee put together. First: Should Canada work with other nations to fight climate change or should it act alone and, by acting alone, will we indeed be significantly able to cut greenhouse gas emissions?

We looked at the examples of some of the states in the United States. I believe 42 states have actually embarked on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Should Canada consider similar laws to tackle climate change?

We looked at what we as a government could do to minimize costs. How do we minimize the cost of climate change and will we suffer economically if we do not take similar types of investments? It was this survey and the basis of the survey that I used to go out to my constituents. It was posted on the website. There were direct mailings. I held round tables throughout the riding in the spring and I asked my constituents to come together and help us solve this problem.

I should also add that the same caucus committee, which was headed by the member of Parliament for Stoney Creek I believe, also came up with four options. They met with industry and environmental groups. They looked at whether we should act alone or together. From their report and the four options they came up with, it also then went forward to the sustainable development group.

We as a caucus have been working very hard on this issue with the minister, with the parliamentary secretary and with the committee. We on the government side are all very concerned about this issue.

I would like to review some of the comments made by my constituents but in doing so we must also look at the background.

Under the United Nations framework convention on climate change, the more economically developed countries agreed in 1997 to collectively reduce their emissions of six greenhouse gases by at least 5% relative to their 1990 levels. Exact levels varied from country to country and in Canada's case the reduction level was 6%. The target period for achieving these reductions is 2008-2012. There was no one specified means for achieving the reductions and the protocol actually allows for measures such as emissions trading and the financing of emissions reduction projects in developing countries.

In addition, in 2001 Canada and 178 countries agreed to a political framework to indeed implement that protocol. Even before then we should look at the action that the government has taken. Let us look at what happened in October 2000. The Government of Canada at that time announced a $500 million action plan 2000 on climate change to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 65 megatonnes per year by the period 2008-2012, taking us one-third of the way to our Kyoto target.

Action plan 2000 took action on many fronts. It is expanding the use of low or non-emitting energy sources by four times current levels; increasing the use of ethanol in gasoline, as the member for Beaches--East York stated; investing in the refueling infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles; enhancing opportunities to store carbon in agricultural soils and forests; investigating the potential of geological storage of carbon dioxide; assessing impacts; identifying adaptation needs; and analyzing policy options such as emissions trading.

In the Speech from the Throne the government committed to introducing legislation on the ratification of the Kyoto protocol, which I must admit again was truly applauded by the constituents in my riding.

There are challenges but let us look at the challenges. If there are challenges and there are problems let us find the solutions to those problems.

Reducing emissions to Kyoto levels will not be easy and it would be trite to say that this is not a complex issue. They have already increased by approximately 13% since 1990 and a number of Canadians, elected officials, such as the official opposition, and industry voices are unconvinced of various aspects of the Kyoto protocol. For example, some question whether the climate is significantly changing over the longer term or if it is indeed changing whether that change can be materially attributed to greenhouse gases.

Others question whether a changing climate would have very harmful effects overall, or they believe that the economic costs involved in meeting the Kyoto targets would vastly outweigh the benefits gained. Some have argued that Canada would suffer disproportionate economic losses for little improvement in the environment should we implement the measures to achieve Kyoto targets while the United States does not.

What were the comments from my constituents? Virtually without exception, the constituents who contacted me on this issue were strongly in favour of ratifying the Kyoto protocol and introducing implementation measures to achieve the greenhouse gas reductions as soon as possible. They tended to believe there was sufficient scientific consensus that climate change was indeed occurring, that rising levels of greenhouse gases contributed to this change, that there were considerable economic and health costs to such change, that climate change would not reverse itself or settle in at some new equilibrium on its own, and that therefore people all over the world were well advised to take steps to reduce these gases.

Most of my constituents were unconvinced that the economic costs of implementation would be so severe as is sometimes claimed. It was argued that there are already many overlooked costs to business as usual approach of non-implementation. Specific examples included the costs of more severe weather swings as evidenced by floods, droughts and storms. Health care costs, such as lung disease and skin cancers, were also cited.

On the more positive side, some pointed out that early investment in non-polluting technologies could lead to export sales as anti-pollution measures were bound to be a growth industry for many years to come. Examples cited included wind and solar technologies and greater investments in all forms of rail transport.

I would also submit that the Kyoto protocol also provides Canadian industries access to international opportunities, such as making investments in other countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and potentially buying greenhouse gas emission credits from other countries to help reduce the costs of implementation.

Aside from a purely economic cost benefit view, some constituents felt that there was a straightforward moral imperative not to despoil our environment, even if this required some reduction in our own material well-being. Others believed that there was a spurious overemphasis on economic analysis as the costs of phenomena such as melting icecaps and rising sea levels were almost impossible to accurately quantify.

Still others contended that whatever the costs were now, they would be considerably greater if we waited another generation or two before attempting to meaningfully reduce emissions.

Prior to the Speech from the Throne, I, along with many of my colleagues in caucus, signed a letter to the Prime Minister asking that the protocol be ratified expeditiously.

Without doubt, how we proceed with its implementation will be a major issue for years, but the minister has already said that there will be a review process in place. We will continue to monitor the situation. Therefore I would ask all Canadians and urge my constituents to continue to address this issue and their concerns so that we can deal with these concerns and make sure the benefits are there for future generations to come.

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11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I know that the hon. member who spoke is familiar with the wording of the amendment today but I would like to read it back to her. It says:

That, before the Kyoto Protocol is ratified by the House, there should be an implementation plan that Canadians understand, that sets out the benefits, how the targets are to be reached and its costs.

Those are the words of the now former finance minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard.

Does the member know whether the former minister of finance supports the rapid ratification of the Kyoto protocol, yes or no?