Mr. Speaker, the point I am making is that this is like the public consultations which have gone on where there is a set list of people to attend and they are given a canned presentation about the pros of Kyoto. No one from the other side is invited. The media and the public are not allowed to attend. That is the government's public consultation.
The minister went through all this in June at 14 different meetings before he went on the sky is falling tour of the summer where he was Chicken Little running across the country trying to scare people.
It stands to reason that he would not stand in the House and answer any questions of members who might want to talk about the fluffy speech he just gave.
He talks about the Liberals way, how it is great and how wonderful they feel. I have come to learn that what the Liberals really are. They are people who take the responsibility of the world on their shoulders, say that it is terrible, come up with an agreement, then talk a lot and do absolutely nothing. That is exactly what we have seen here.
The environment auditor general commented about the Liberal way as well. The government is not investing enough of its human or financial resources, its legislative or regulatory and economic powers or its political leadership to fulfill its sustainable development commitments. The result is a growing environmental health and financial burden that our children will have to beat. That is an evaluation of the government.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak here today, and in the future, and talk about the importance of Kyoto. I want to start off by setting the stage as to why I am so involved with this issue. I believe it is an issue that will affect more Canadians than probably anything we have done in the House, certainly in the going on 10 years that I have been here.
To provide some credibility on the environmental issue, I should say a little about myself. That will set the stage as to where I will go in my speech.
As a young person, being raised in Saskatchewan, I was a member of the Saskatchewan Natural History Society and was on the editorial board of the Blue Jay , its environmental magazine. I was involved with some notable biologists of the time banding birds. I was the young guy they would have crawl up the trees and crawl around on the cliffs to band eagles and various types of birds. I was the guy who used to take people on tours of the sharp-tailed grouse dancing grounds, through their mating procedure. I was involved with Christmas bird counts and many books and reviewed articles related to biology later on in my career. I was avid environmentalist and still believe today that I have an environmental conscience.
Our party has an environmental conscience and we care about this subject very deeply, unlike the shallow nature of what we just heard with a bunch of fluffy talk and absolutely no commitment.
In university I went on to major in biology with a minor in history. I worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service through the summers. I was involved with a particular project on sandhill cranes and followed their migration. I did a paper on that and a lot of research into behavioural patterns and so on.
I worked from Big Grass Marsh in Manitoba on through Saskatchewan and Alberta and was involved in habitat protection, consulting farmers and so on. Ultimately, after my biology degree, I ended up going back to university and doing a project on sandhill cranes.
Finally, deciding that bureaucracy was not for me, I decided to teach biology. From that I had a fascinating career. I was involved in teaching young people, involving them in a love of nature and understanding of the balances that existed in nature. I was also involved in looking at the impacts that humans had through dams and various types of projects.
At that time, I was also very active on the parks board for a number of years. I cannot help but take some pride in the trail system and the protection of natural areas in my city of Red Deer.
I remember as well two very notable people in my life: a lady named Ethel Taylor who was the perpetual NDP candidate in our constituency but was a councillor and a very active environmentalist; and Margaret Parsons, a member of a well known family and the wife of a doctor. Among those two councillors and myself we managed to protect an awful lot of the environmental areas around the central Alberta area, and I take a great deal of pride in that. As the city has grown, it too has taken pride in that and that has become a major selling point for our community.
As well, I was involved actively in the eastern slopes. We have some of the most beautiful areas possible. Straight west of Red Deer is one of the most beautiful parts of this country. I often brag that I represent the most beautiful constituency in Canada, from the city of Red Deer through to the B.C. border.
With that in mind, I think this gives me some credibility and background over a number of years to say that I have shown a real care for the environment. I also have studied this accord for the last year and a half as the senior environment critic. I have never been so convinced of anything in my whole life that this is the wrong way to go in dealing with climate change and pollution. Over the course of the next few days, I hope to tell the House exactly what we should do, instead of what the Kyoto accord is all about. That is what I will attempt to do.
First, there is not a Canadian out there who does not care about the air, the water, the soil, the food they eat and the safety of that food. The polls say that people care. I am really surprised sometimes when I see that only 90% of people care. I really cannot imagine what the other 10% are thinking if they do not care about their environment. When we develop a policy, we need to be sure that we consult with Canadians, and that is one of our biggest problems.
However let us start with the clear policy. Anything I have heard over the last year and a half from the government has been anything but clear on where it is going with Kyoto, what its objectives are, what its targets are and what it wants to achieve.
Let us look at the Liberal record on some of these issues. We can start with the pollution of the air. Some members are clapping. We could go on for several days talking about this record, but let us just use a couple of examples.
Let us talk about the 45 smog days in downtown Toronto. Let us see what the government has done to help with that. Kyoto is not about those smog days in Toronto. It is not about particulate matter. It is not about all those other things that we call smog. The government conveniently has meshed those two together, and I believe the people in Toronto think that Kyoto is a solution to those smog days.
Let us move on to the Fraser Valley. It is the second most polluted area in Canada. This area now has health problems that are higher by hundreds of percentages than anywhere else in Canada. This includes asthma and all kinds of other things. Let us examine what the federal government has done in that area. The state of Washington has approved a power plant called Sumas 2. There are 12 other plants in various stages of being approved.
These power plants would be built right on the border between Washington State and British Columbia. They would draw their water from the aquifers in Canada. They would put their sewage into the Sumas River which goes into Canada. The prevailing winds would blow the pollution into Canada and of course we would sell them the gas but in exchange for that they would put the power lines down Main Street of Abbotsford because they do not allow high tensile power lines over populated areas in Washington State, but it is fine to put them in Canada.
Let us examine what is happening here. This is the Liberal government that did not get involved in the Washington State hearings. I was allowed to be an intervenor on behalf of the Canadian people and testify. The minister said that he knew the governor well and that he would write him a letter.
I do not know whether the letter was sent or not but he obviously did not have very much influence on Governor Locke because the governor approved this thing. Let us examine what we have here. We have a 660 megawatt power plant being built. We would get the air pollution into the second worst air shed in Canada. We would get the sewage, lose water from our aquifers, and get the high tensile power lines coming down Main Street, Abbotsford, then out to the coast and down to California.
What would Washington State get? It would get the jobs, the profit, and would not have the pollution and all of the problems. What would California get. It would get the energy because it does not allow any kind of power plants like that in its jurisdiction because it is too harmful to health.
This is the Liberal government's involvement. I applied to the National Energy Board to be an intervenor at those hearings on behalf of the Canadian people as the senior environment critic for Canada. What happened? I was turned down. Why was I turned down by the NEB? I was turned down because I do not live in British Columbia and the area. It let the Alberta government be an intervenor because the company said it was okay, but it said the company objected to me being an intervenor because I was opposed to the project.
That is how the government caves in. This is the feel good, be good and happy Liberal type of thing. It is phony as a three dollar bill because there is the proof of it. There will be 11 other projects. What will the government do about the air pollution in the Fraser Valley? It will be doing nothing about it. It talks about having clean air and that it cares about the health of children. There are hundreds of thousands of people there who will be affected and the government is doing absolutely nothing.
It says it cares about the air. I can give examples of where it has failed. We could ask the member from the Windsor area about southern Ontario. He has showed me many medical reports about the damage done to the health of the people of that area and how the government has done little or nothing to care about the most polluted area in southern Ontario.
When we are talking about air pollution we could talk about the biogas that is being used throughout the world. I had the privilege of being in Berlin and examining its biogas project. There are six big vessels for the sewage from Berlin. It is fermented in the vessels. The vessels capture the methane gas which is then used as fuel for incinerating garbage. The water from the sewage is heated and sold in pipes throughout the entire downtown Berlin area. It is run by a private company and it makes a profit.
I was amazed by the project and asked how long the authorities had been doing it. The answer was 40 years or 50 years. If the government cared about fixing the air problems we would see it taking some action on biogas.
It is interesting that the little town of Olds, just outside of my constituency, is looking at a digester. I was told yesterday in Hamilton that there is a digester already in operation in Ontario and I was invited to see it in Thunder Bay. These things are happening but not because of the Liberal government. They are happening because of the common sense of people who realize they must do something about their air because the government does not give a damn about that air.
What about water? Let us look at raw sewage. Is it not interesting that the minister lives in Victoria and represents Victoria, and that city dumps its sewage into the ocean? Is it not interesting that St. John's and Halifax do the same? Is it not interesting that about every other year, the federal government announces that it will do something about it but nothing ever happens? There is no leadership. There is no commitment. The government does not care about the water.
Regarding the whole issue of approval of landfills by the provinces and municipalities, where is the federal government in the research and in the provision of some guidance in this whole process? It is nowhere. Members across the way say it is at the provincial or municipal level. That is what they always do. They show no leadership, no guidance or work with anybody. They go bullying off on their own like they are doing with Kyoto. Instead of landfills we should be looking at incinerators, recycling, composting, and there are lots of examples across the country. These members are not environmentalists; they are phonies when it comes to the environment. They like to talk a lot but not do anything.
What about our groundwater? Our groundwater has not been mapped. We do not know whether our water tables are in a positive or negative charge. We have no idea. The government is not committed to finding out about groundwater. Sumas is a perfect example. We are letting a U.S. corporation take the groundwater and use it to pollute our environment. What kind of sense does that make?
I could take the rest of today talking about the government failures: the baby steps in the Great Lakes or the Sydney Tar Ponds, the uranium mines in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and the first nations water quality. All of these would be examples of Liberal talk but no action. When they take on an environmental issue it is pretty suspect as to whether much will actually happen. There is a lot of talk, a lot of feel good and be happy, but not a heck of a lot of commitment or action. Many people would agree that Kyoto is somewhat along those same lines.
Regarding Kyoto, most people remember what happened in the House, that questions were asked prior to December 1997. Members in the House asked the Liberals what their plan and strategy were, what was Kyoto, and what was the agreement all about? The Liberals were asked what guarantee we had that we would be able to live up to this plan?
There was a conference in Regina with the provinces. The provinces were told one week prior to Kyoto that the Liberals would not sign anything that would damage the provinces or affect them. This was just one of those climate change things that came out of the Rio conference of 1992. It was not really that important, it would not have that much of an effect. In the course of the next few days the provinces would get all of the details on Kyoto and would examine it step by step; examine the PowerPoint presentation of the government, and would examine it line by line to see how effective it would be in dealing with these environmental issues.
The government talks a lot about guarantees and states that no one would be hurt. Where will it get the money to do all of these things?
Most important of all is the fact that the Australians went to Kyoto with a plan. They indicated in their plan that Australia was a big country. It did not have a very good transportation infrastructure. It had a growing population and quite a bit of immigration so it could not do better than 8% above the 1990 levels.
Does Canada not have a growing population? Do we not have a lot of immigration? Are we not a big country? Are we not in the same category as Australia? As a matter of fact, Canada is bigger. We do not have the infrastructure. I cannot get a train to go to the next city if I want to. We have the second coldest climate in the world. What did our negotiators not understand about that? How did they think we could get to minus 6% from 1990 levels? I will tell the House how it happened.
The Prime Minister was set on beating the Americans. The Prime Minister does not like Americans much. He said we should go one better than them. Guess what happened? The Americans went minus 5% and Canada said minus 6%. That is how we got to minus 6%. Since then the U.S. and Australia have both said they could not achieve those targets because they would damage their economy too much. They would not hit those targets so therefore they would not ratify Kyoto. Here we are, the Boy Scouts, agreeing to minus 6% below 1990 levels.
Most people would agree that with these targets no one has really developed a plan. What kind of plan would we need to achieve these targets? How much would it cost? Where would the money come from? Nobody has dealt with those issues, and certainly this plan has not done that.
Let me give the House an idea of where I have been asking questions. I asked questions in Vancouver, Alberta and Saskatchewan. I did townhall meetings in those cities. I asked questions in Halifax and throughout Ontario. Yesterday I was in Hamilton where I asked individuals what Kyoto was? It was amazing to see a standing room only crowd in that auditorium. More interesting than anything was a breakfast meeting in Victoria 10 days ago which was once again sold out. I will tell members what those people told me.
It was just amazing what those people asked. There are four things that people ask right across the country, in town hall after town hall, in talk show after talk show. They ask what is Kyoto? How does Kyoto affect me? Will it help the environment? Is there some other way? Once they have the first three answers, they ask that question. They ask those four questions and we need to give them some answers. The government has not made much of an attempt to do that.
Yesterday I was pretty shocked that the audience really did not know what Kyoto was about. Some knew it was a city in Japan. Some knew it was some kind of environmental agreement. Most of them thought that if we ratified Kyoto we would not have a pollution problem any more, that it would solve little Johnny's asthma. We care about little Johnny's asthma, we care about clean water and we care about the health of Canadians. Most people thought that was Kyoto.
As we get into looking at Kyoto page by page, line by line, we will find out what Kyoto really is about. It is not about health and little Johnny's asthma; it is in fact about climate change, about global warming and about carbon dioxide. A lot of people thought carbon dioxide was what came out of the exhaust of a car. They were mixing it up with carbon monoxide, but most people are not scientists.
One fellow who worked at the Ford Windstar plant down the road from Hamilton jumped up and said, “I work there. This is going to affect my job. I never knew that. I did not think it would affect me. I thought it was some international agreement that would fix little Johnny's asthma, that would not cost me anything and that certainly would not threaten my job”. The automobiles that he builds at work are not environmentally friendly. Obviously the minister would say that they have to make something half that size, that driving something big like that obviously will not allow them to achieve their Kyoto targets.
When it comes to the question of what is Kyoto, we will examine what people think. That is what I have found across the country.
As far as the question of how it affects people, most people feel it does not affect them at all. It is not going to raise their energy costs. It is not going to raise the cost of electricity. It is not going to have any effect on them at all, except to fix the health problems. Obviously once they start examining that issue, that changes pretty dramatically as well.
Does it help the environment? If we were to deal with pollution, yes we could help the environment a lot. I started off in my introduction showing the lack of commitment for real environmental improvement. There are many countries that have been successful in fixing the environment. Whether we talk about Denmark, Germany, Japan or the U.S., there are lots of countries that are doing a lot for the environment. We have a lot of entrepreneurs who could do a lot more with a bit of government encouragement. When we look into whether it is really going to change the environment or change how things are, we will find the answer is not very positive.
Is there a better way? Darn right there is a better way. There is a made in Canada way and I want to explore that in depth. That made in Canada way is not just the Alberta plan. The made in Canada way is a much broader approach. I would need days and days to go through some of that information.
Why is there so much confusion around the whole Kyoto issue? Why are the polls dropping in terms of support? Why are 71% of Canadians saying they think we should have the cooperation of the provinces and they should know more about it? When we ask an audience, they all up their hands and say they want to know more about the Kyoto accord. Why has there been so much confusion?
First, the government and a number of environmental groups have been in bed together, as the minister said, for a lot of years. The minister and the Liberal government have made a habit of trucking them around the world to various conferences. The minister makes sure that they have good tax deductions so that any donations are tax deductible. He has even given the Federation of Canadian Municipalities $250 million for green projects. He does a lot of things to get people onside. That information is being put out by these groups because they owe something to the minister.
There has been a real skilful job of mixing health and Kyoto, of mixing pollution and Kyoto. It has been very well done. Most people really do believe that signing Kyoto will have major health results. Of course, if we look at Kyoto, Kyoto by itself is not about that. Kyoto is about CO
, climate change and global warming. That is what it is there for.
We should deal with both of these issues. I want to make that extremely clear. The minister implied that we do not want to deal with this issue. He is totally, absolutely 100% wrong. We want to deal with these two issues, but let us deal with the issues and let us be honest with Canadians and with the provinces.
The provinces made it fairly clear in Halifax. They set out their 12 requirements and expected the federal government at least to respond to them. They wanted a first ministers meeting. Is it too much to ask to have a first ministers meeting, to sit down with the ministers and discuss those 12 points? I do not think so, because all of the provinces and territories agreed.
The other thing we are looking at is why there is so much confusion. How bad the doomsday scenario is that the minister goes with depends on where he is in the country. I cannot help but remember when he said in Calgary at the university that even if we implemented Kyoto it probably would not make much difference in the next 100 years.
That was in Calgary, but certainly here it is quite a different story. His doomsday scenario consists of floods, ice storms, droughts, pestilence, infection and people dying of heat. He implies, depending on where he is in the country, that ratifying Kyoto would end all of that. All of sudden we would not have any more floods, ice storms, droughts, pestilence and so on.
We can examine the scientific evidence about droughts in the Prairies. It consists of a number of university studies of pond areas and core samples taken from deep into the earth. They examined the climate that had gone on for the last couple of thousand years and found that there have been many periods of drought in western Canada. In fact once in the 17th century there was a drought that lasted 70 years. In the last few centuries, the droughts have been getting shorter and shorter. If we get two or three years of drought, that becomes more the law than the other way.
When the minister implies that we will have no more droughts, I am not exactly sure how he will arrange that simply by ratification of Kyoto. I do not know who he has connections with that he will pull that off, but obviously he has.
As far as pestilence is concerned, West Nile virus and various types of malaria were common in past history. They could flare up at any time. With increased transportation and people moving from all parts of the world, it is only natural that is going to happen. To say that it is all related to signing or not signing Kyoto is totally misleading the Canadian public.
The importance of this debate is it gives us an opportunity to zero in on what the accord is all about and on many of the mistruths and wrong statements that have been made by the government, by its ministers and by the Prime Minister.
As I mentioned, I am quite surprised because I have been able to listen to the minister in different centres. It is interesting how the message differs wherever one happens to be. I guess that is politics but when we are dealing with something as important as little Johnny's asthma and climate change, it would seem to me that one would want to have the same message, believe it and go out and give that to Canadians.
Let us talk about climate change. What is it? We all know that the temperature has increased in the last 100 years. We know that the amount of CO
has increased in the last 100 years. We also know that there have been eight ice ages, that there have been eight interglacial ice periods. I am sure all members would agree that we cannot really predict the weather for tomorrow, let alone for 100 or 1,000 years from now. I cannot believe that the minister really believes that we are going to be able to do that.
I am going through some definitions here so that in the course of the next few days we will be able to discuss and use these definitions.
What are greenhouse gases? Obviously, 97% of greenhouse gases is made up of water and water vapour in the form of clouds, water and so on. We have to remember that the other 3% is made up of a major gas, CO
, methane, ozone, and a number of other things.
The important thing is that greenhouse gases are necessary for our very survival. The earth is kept warm by greenhouse gases. It would be 37°C cooler if we did not have them and we would not have life on earth without those greenhouse gases. There is a lot of science out there that might disagree with those who say that carbon dioxide is the evil one.
We also need to understand and know what the IPCC is. The minister made reference to it and talked about it as if it was something pretty important to him. I will go through a few chapters of a book to explain it exactly. I know the member on the other side looks forward to it and will be sure to be here tomorrow so he can understand better what the IPCC models are. It is very important and I know he will enjoy understanding the modelling.
The top 200 scientists have finally zeroed in on 40 models. These models are pretty interesting. The member probably will not sleep tonight waiting to find out about them but I am going to make him wait until tomorrow. They put different factors into the modelling and came out with totally different results. Some of those results are 5°C higher in the next 100 years; some of them are colder than that.