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House of Commons Hansard #35 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fee.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-4, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Liberalfor the Minister of Natural Resources

moved that the bill be concurred in.

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10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the division stands deferred until Monday, December 2 at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

The House resumed from November 28 consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

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10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to support the ratification of the Kyoto accord, but I do have some concerns. The updated climate change plan for Canada that our government released last week is certainly an improvement on the earlier version.

Governments around the world need to reduce greenhouse gases. We have all seen the evidence of climate change: temperature change, and an increase in the number of natural disasters, including flooding, ice storms and drought.

There is clearly a cost associated with these phenomena. One might initially think that reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions would benefit Canada's agriculture sector—although this sector has been noticeably silent on this matter.

We need to take action on greenhouse gases. The question before us is whether or not the Kyoto accord is the right mechanism for Canada to achieve this objective. There is absolutely no point, in my opinion, in signing the Kyoto accord if Canada cannot meet the targets and timetable implicit in the accord, that is, the lowering of greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. This is an ambitious undertaking and perhaps why the current Canadian plan is still short by 60 megatonnes out of a total of 240 megatonnes that Canada must achieve by the agreed date.

Why sign an agreement if the objectives cannot be achieved? To show leadership? To demonstrate environmental sensitivity? This is not enough in my view. We should sign the accord if it makes sense for Canada and if, and only if, we can achieve the commitments we undertake within the accord. Otherwise, a strictly made in Canada solution is required.

Canada seems to be leading with her chin on greenhouse gases. The U.S. government is not proceeding with the Kyoto accord. The Kyoto targets for the Europeans are hardly stretch targets for them. The closure of a number of outdated and environmentally insensitive factories, in what used to be East Germany and a conversion of coal fired plants in Great Britain to gas fired plants, means that moving from the 1990 levels to the 2008-2012 targets would not be as demanding for the Europeans as it would for Canada. In a sense it is easier for them to achieve their commitments under Kyoto.

Then we have countries like China, Russia and others which are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. They would be required to do nothing until 2012. Even then it would be difficult for the international community to force these countries to honour their commitments beginning in 2012.

What are we left with? The Americans with a made in U.S.A. solution, the Europeans with a made in Europe approach and the Chinese, Russians and others with an approach to Kyoto that meets their needs, and Canada marches on convinced that we must ratify the Kyoto accord. I would prefer a made in Canada solution.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance visited Calgary recently as part of our prebudget consultations. I asked business leaders there whether they believed that a negotiated solution to Kyoto was possible in Canada, that is, a negotiating set of greenhouse gas reduction targets somewhere between those outlined in the Kyoto accord and some stretch targets for Canada, beyond those initially payable by the provinces and industry. The response was yes, such a result was possible in their view. We should strive for this.

Should we be concerned that the U.S. government will not ratify Kyoto? We should not be afraid to embark on a path that is different from our U.S. neighbours, certainly not. But we cannot ignore their position on this important matter because 87% of our exports are to the U.S. market.

As an Ontario MP I am concerned that companies in my province and indeed across Canada which are competing with companies in the U.S.A. would have greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that exceed those of their competition across the border. Will their added costs impact their competitiveness and risk plant closures and job losses? We are told that although the U.S. government is not ratifying the Kyoto accord, many U.S. states are taking action on greenhouse gases, states like Oregon, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and California.

While I understand the need to avoid paralysis by analysis, what do I tell companies in my riding of Etobicoke North which are shipping most of their production to Michigan or New York? What are those states doing? Will the companies in Etobicoke North be at a competitive disadvantage and have to cut jobs or shut down? Surely these are important questions.

The free trade agreement and NAFTA resulted in some major industrial dislocation in my riding of Etobicoke North, and in the rush to sign and implement that agreement there were few, if any, mechanisms to assist employers and employees during the transition period.

We are told that ratifying the Kyoto accord would result in Canada becoming more innovative. It would accelerate the development and adoption of new low emissions technologies. This in itself would result in new economic activity, we are told, and productivity enhancements and would offset many of the negative impacts on the so-called old economy.

Well, certainly some of these developments will occur. However, we must recognize four important points.

FIrst, there is a considerable gestation period between the time that technologies are identified and the time that they are commercialized—often up to ten years. In other words, this pushes us to 2012 for some of these ideas to be implemented.

Second, some of the knowledge and equipment would need to be imported, which certainly does nothing to stimulate job creation in Canada.

Third, we were told in Calgary that a number of clients in Canada are currently employing state of the art emissions reducing technologies. The Kyoto targets they would be handed would require these plants to go beyond where they are today with the latest technology. What are they supposed to do other than buy emissions credits at a cost?

Certainly improving energy efficiency and conservation is a laudable goal that we should strive for in Canada. Improvements in these areas would be good for the environment and the economy. Not all emissions reducing enhancements would result in productivity enhancements. There would be a cost associated with their implementation and in many cases with no corresponding economic benefit. Environmental benefits are positive by themselves but we should not delude ourselves about the economic consequences of our actions.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would require changes in behaviour by Canadian businesses and consumers. I am not sure that Canadians would support ratification of the Kyoto accord until they understand it.

Fully 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada are derived from the transportation sector, that is, emissions from cars, trucks, airplanes, trains and others. We would need to deal with this by travelling less in traditional modes and using more public transport, which would be a good thing, and by employing different fuels that may cost more, by driving vehicles that use less fuel, and by taking a variety of actions with these in concert with one another. Would this happen naturally and without any cost? No, it would not and Canadians need to understand this.

Our government will need to provide policies, signals, incentives and disincentives to facilitate these changes. Some of these will be incorporated into the February 2003 budget—and therein lies the rub.

We do not, and cannot, know what these will be until the budget is tabled. Many of these economic instruments will determine whether or not we have a chance to meet the Kyoto targets. We are being asked, however, to approve the ratification of the Kyoto accord in advance of the budget.

Many less onerous solutions to the problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions are being ignored by governments at all levels. An example is municipal solid waste and landfills which emit huge amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere. Methane is 20 times more dangerous in terms of greenhouse gases than CO

2

We must deal with greenhouse gases aggressively. However we must be responsible and realistic in our approach. We should not ratify the Kyoto accord unless we can meet these commitments. To do less would be dishonest.

I am hopeful that we can find a way to aggressively attack greenhouse gases in Canada. Let us hope and pray that we will find the wisdom to do so.

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10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the member on a speech that goes along with exactly what we have been talking about and that is a made in Canada solution. The member mentioned the U.S. It is not that the U.S. is not doing anything because there are some 39 states that would probably beat the Kyoto targets and actually accomplish something. We must recognize that but unfortunately it is not talked about very much.

Is the member aware of what the penalties are if in fact we were to ratify Kyoto and then not implement it and not achieve our targets by 2012?

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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I put that very question to the minister yesterday. I was concerned that there had been a lot of discussion about us signing the accord and if we did not meet our commitments, would be some wiggle room. I wanted him to clarify that for me.

As I understand it, if there is some shortfall in the megatonne reduction, those megatonnes would be somehow factored into the next phase. There would not be a financial penalty but there would be a penalty of megatonnes. I was also told by the minister that there would be a negotiated approach. If the targets were too ambitious in the first phase, that would tell us something about the second phase, and those would be negotiated at the time.

I come back to the view that if we sign the accord, we should commit to those results and should not count on failure. I know our government is not counting on failure but I just hope we have the wherewithal.

With all the stakeholders involved, another concern I have is how we effect change when we have this state of play in Canada, where major stakeholders, many provinces and many industrial sectors are not on side? Once the accord is signed, the really tough job will be to implement it. We need to have people on side.

I have cited certain examples of corporations where the CEO has said “here is your target and you tell me how to get there”. That is a good aggressive management style and it is appropriate. However it starts out with a premise that the original target is within the realm of feasibility, possibility or achievement. At this point in time I am not sure that we have the facts or the information to make those conclusions.

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10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I noticed my colleague went to considerable lengths to refer to greenhouse gases. It is quite common just to refer to CO

2

, but he is right, there are many gases.

There are all sorts of other things that human beings put into the atmosphere which have poisonous and greenhouse effects. They include particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, organic compounds such as benzene, toxic metals such as mercury, ground level ozone, a greenhouse gas, and various other hydrocarbons, dioxins and furans. As a result, in many parts of the country our atmosphere is very poisonous. Last year in Ontario our children had to stay either in the classrooms or in their homes for 23 days. They were not allowed out because the air was so toxic.

I know the member is from an urban area but the odd thing is that the focus of a lot of this poison is around the shores of the Great Lakes where our people go to recreate themselves. Ground level ozone has increased most in rural areas and it reduces crop production.

Does the member not agree with me that everything we do to reduce the poisons in the atmosphere and improve our health is what we should do to avoid the dangers of climate change?

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10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a concern about the air quality in Toronto where I live and where my constituency is. If the Kyoto accord addressed that I think it would be a relevant question.

The Kyoto accord deals with greenhouse gases. I understand his point about low level greenhouse gases. I am not a scientist but in terms of the main issue of air quality and smog in Toronto, the Kyoto plan will only peripherally affect air quality in Toronto and in other major cities.

I have had this discussion with many constituents. I think many Canadians are confused on this point. When we get into gases other than CO

2

, we are entering into a favourite topic of mine and that is methane. We have all these landfills. Toronto now is shipping landfill to Michigan. Originally it was going to ship it up to northern Ontario, it was going to sit in a big pile and the methane gas, which is 20 times worse than CO

2

, was going to evaporate into the atmosphere. Right now we have certain collection and flaring systems around Canada. If we just implemented that technology across Canada, we could get to 20% to 25% of our Kyoto targets.

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10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to the Kyoto protocol. A lot has been said about it to this point butt his needs to be debated much longer so the facts can get out. I do not believe that will happen because the government does not have a plan.

Under the Kyoto protocol, Canada has to commit to reducing its emissions by 134 megatonnes below the current levels by 2008 and 2012. Canada will have to reduce its emissions by 30%. Canada is only responsible for 2% of the world's emissions so what we do will not have a gigantic impact. That also begs the question as to whether mankind is causing the global warming or are there other reasons. I will get into that in just a minute.

My riding of Selkirk--Interlake is a rural riding and is agriculture based. A lot of farmers these days are very well educated. One gentleman in my riding, by the name of Randall Stefanson, has a bachelor of science in environmental studies. He has spent 30 years at this and he also farms. He is a very well educated, common sense fellow from the Arborg area of Manitoba. I will be referencing some of his material in my speech.

Canada should be going after the whole issue of pollution. Pollution is causing health problems in the country and it is causing smog problems, particularly in the big cities. However that smog and pollution does not just stay in the big cities where it is created. It drifts around and contaminates a lot of the countryside. We had the issue of acid rain years ago and that is still with us to a certain extent. We know that up in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories the pollution from the industrialized world is contaminating the wildlife food supplies of the people.

Canada is looking at committing to the Kyoto protocol. However what about countries like China, India and other underdeveloped countries that are not in it but put out massive amounts of pollution? We need to look at that area. We need to not only clean up the pollution in the first world industrialized countries, but we also need to help the third world countries to industrialized and improve their economies in a clean manner.

What is the Prime Minister getting us into? He is assuming, on what basis we do not know entirely, that by reducing CO

2

gases that somehow will greatly improve the environment of the world. The jury is a long way from reaching a conclusion as to whether CO

2

gases are the problem.

As I mentioned, as far as global warming mankind is responsible for such a small amount of the CO

2

gases produced. Nature is far ahead of mankind. I think that nature will be seen in the future to be the main driver of global warming, if it continues.

In dealing with the pollution issue, I have heard other members in the House speak on this, from the government side and on our side. In the Selkirk--Interlake region where I live, we had a proposed project. It was the Eastern Interlake Regional Co-op recycling facility. I believe this effort went on for eight or ten years.

The municipalities got together and said that there was a better way than just filling up a landfill. They suggested a recycling cooperative where the garbage from all the municipalities would be brought to a central point, probably located north of Winnipeg, within about 15 or 20 miles. It was meant to service rural areas, not Winnipeg. This recycling cooperative would have not only sorted the garbage, but it would have created a gas that could have be used to generate some electricity as well. By doing this, it would not go into the landfill and create methane forever; that gas would enter the environment.

The problem with the project was this. Across all political lines, the municipalities approached the provincial and federal governments to help. They said that they had a good idea and asked if the government could help fund the project. The federal government put in a few thousand dollars and the province put in some.

This is a very viable idea. This type of facility is used in the United States, in Europe and in other countries. However could they get any real support for it?

When the Prime Minister rams this CO

2

Kyoto agreement through, hopefully there will be some positive silver lining to the cloud and that in fact projects like this will get funded. They could be a real demonstration to the rest of the country on how garbage from municipalities could be handled.

I talked about nature, global warming and how changes in the environment happened. It is pretty presumptuous of mankind to think we can control nature, the firmaments and the heavens. I suppose some day the government would, if it was in power, say that it wanted to change the environment or the moon or whatever.

My question to the government is basic. If global warming is taking place, is it happening as a result of mankind or is it something else? That question depends on the time scale being used. It is a fact that climate change has been going on since the beginning of time. Natural cycles of warming and cooling have been going on before man walked on the planet. Had the earth not warmed 10,000 years ago, the ecology of Manitoba would certainly not exist the way it is today. We would still be under a two mile sheet of ice.

NASA data does not support the warming theory. The United States is not supporting this agreement. I think it is based both on science and the fact that it wants to use its money for its priority, fighting pollution. When we fight pollution, we in fact reduce CO

2

gases. However, by doing it the other way around, fighting CO

2

gases, we will not be doing very much about actual pollution. That point was not lost on the Americans or the Australians. However, it sure has been lost on the Prime Minister and the environment minister who are dragging Canada kicking and screaming into this bad agreement.

Just as a little aside, the Prime Minister and cabinet apparently have the full authority to ratify this agreement without any vote in the House of Commons. That of course brings us to the operation and authority of Parliament but I will not go there today. It is a pretty sad fact when Parliament does not have the final say on some of these international treaties which will affect us so deeply.

Global warming will affect the United States more than us. Is there something I wonder that President Bush knows that we do not know? I think the scientific analysis being done in the United States, just through the resources that it has, will clearly show that concentrating on CO

2

gases is a misguided effort.

On the agriculture side, I would also point out that we have not had any estimates of costs from the government nor have we been told what actually will happen. The estimates that have been put out are pretty questionable. The United States says that the cost impact on its agriculture would be in the $30 billion to $40 billion range. When we look at the net income for farms right now, we can see that these folks are just getting by, with some making a little more than the poverty wage and others who are below that. The last thing we need is much higher costs being put on our agriculture in a dubious cause.

The theory of carbon dioxide causing atmospheric warming apparently was originally conceived to rationalize the high temperatures on the planet Venus, whose atmosphere is composed mainly of carbon dioxide. That theory is no longer in vogue for explaining the high temperatures on that planet. The rationale of those who support Kyoto is that man produces carbon dioxide and releases it into the environment, and therefore it must be causing some of the problem and the problem should be warming because it is a greenhouse gas.

Of course the question is, does that have any basis? Carbon dioxide is perhaps the least noxious product that man has ever produced and released into the environment. Carbon dioxide has never been put on trial to determine whether its concentration is critical in causing warming or cooling cycles. This amounts to a chicken and egg style of debate. The fact is that increased levels of carbon dioxide are associated with warming trends in climate. The fact is that the climate warms the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere and it increases only slightly. This increase does not cause the warming, but is a consequence of warming. If carbon dioxide were put on trial, I think we would find that it is not the major cause of global warming.

These models everybody is talking about are at best just estimates and guesses as to what would happen. We know that depending on what criteria and measures are put on a model that we in fact can get the answer we want out of it.

Should warming be taking place directly driven by mankind and should man's carbon dioxide release be contributing to that warming, then the question that must be asked is whether this is a benefit or a detriment to our society.

As I say, I contest whether or not carbon dioxide is actually significantly changing global warming. If there are plants and forests, for instance, growing in areas that currently do not have it, we know that plants use photosynthesis and the carbon dioxide is used up in that process, so there again, without good scientific evidence it is a little presumptuous to suggest that some warming is going to be bad for the world overall. I think the case can be made just as easily that some global warming will have an overall benefit for the world.

In Manitoba, the premier has been saying that we should in fact be supporting Kyoto. That is the position he has taken on behalf of Manitobans. His eyes, of course, are on the next provincial election and he simply wants to work with the Liberal government for some reason. The big issue in Manitoba is that our economy has not progressed particularly well under the NDP watch. It has always been the idea that if we could get that Conawapa dam going up in northern Manitoba, it would produce some 1.3 million watts of electricity, which we would then be able to export. It would take 10 years to build that dam and that would create a lot of jobs and so on. This proposal was put forward about 10 or 15 years ago and the idea then was to have a transmission line in Canada, particularly down to Ontario, that would buy the electricity from Manitoba.

Now I guess the premier is jumping on the idea that the Kyoto agreement is going to facilitate this somehow. To go back to that time 10 or 15 years ago when Ontario was trying to make some decisions on hydroelectricity, it rejected clean energy from Manitoba. Now, of course, I think there are some serious discussions on the go about building that transmission line and getting it operating. If that is an incidental byproduct of the Kyoto agreement, that will be a good thing for Ontario and for Manitoba, but there again the priorities are all wrong. We are going to be spending and wasting an awful lot of money on the Kyoto agreement and the massive costs it is going to have for individual Canadians, when this hydroelectric project could well have gone ahead without Kyoto.

Ontario could have saved itself all the hydroelectric problems it has now if it had tapped into Manitoba's hydroelectric project. It will probably still be done, but in addition to having to borrow all the money to build and pay for this massive Conawapa dam, and there is only one person paying for all this, the Canadian taxpayer, the taxpayer is going to have to pay for the foolish side of Kyoto as well as for the good projects. I have mentioned two here in a really positive light today: the Conawapa dam in northern Manitoba and the recycling effort that could be made for garbage in my own riding.

These things all cost money and the government has to prioritize where it spends its money. Those two good projects certainly should receive money. I am sure there are many in other provinces that would be the same, but what is the government going to do? It is going to make it harder to fund those projects because we are going to go into the foolishness of this Kyoto agreement, trying to cut down on CO

2

gas specifically instead of going after pollution, as I said at the start of my speech. That will have a secondary effect if pollution from other gases and other particles besides CO

2

gases is reduced. Then obviously we would end up with a much better solution and it would be, to a certain extent, market driven. It would be responding to an actual demand in the country for more energy, for cleaner energy. This is where we should be going.

From my speech members can tell that I do not intend to support or vote for this ratification. I would urge the government members who are thinking seriously about this to also vote against it and give a message to the Prime Minister that before he and the cabinet ratify this they really should have some second thoughts.

I do not have much time left and I would like to take a moment now to move an amendment to the amendment. I move:

That the amendment be amended by inserting before the word “costs” the following: “detailed”.

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10:40 a.m.

The Speaker

I am afraid that the hon. member has concluded his speech by moving an amendment. I find the subamendment to be in order. The question is on the subamendment.

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10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties and there is an agreement pursuant to Standing Order 45(7) to re-defer the recorded division requested earlier on report stage of Bill C-4 until Tuesday, December 3, at 3 p.m.

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10:40 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

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10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

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10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I have listened to this debate, especially the four days of debate delivered by the hon. member for Red Deer, I have been astounded by one observation. It is that those who are speaking against the Kyoto agreement and who are speaking with caution about it seem to fail to recognize that there are a few things that are being ignored in the debate. They are these words: imagination, innovation, vision, creativity and willingness. As long as we ignore those things we will be stuck in the naysayer rut.

I would ask my hon. friend who just spoke, does he not realize that when Canada entered the second world war we entered it with no plan but it produced some of the greatest technical innovation that has ever occurred on the face of the earth?

When the oil crisis came on in the 1970s and the spot price went to $50 a barrel in Chicago and the projections were that it was going to go to $120 a barrel, it created a crisis. Does the hon. member not acknowledge that it precipitated the greatest voluntary conservation effort in the history of North America?

I beg the naysayers to acknowledge that the people of Canada have thrived on innovation, vision and creativity. We have a plan, but most of this accomplishment, I am sure the hon. member must concur, will be achieved with the innovation and creativity of Canadians.

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10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I can say that I do not agree with one connection that the member made. What the Liberals are proceeding on is opposite to what we are proceeding on. They intend to jump over a cliff with a blindfold on and see where they land. The Canadian Alliance is basing its position on common sense. Common sense is an analytical assessment of the situation and what should be done about the situation.

I have laid it out very clearly in my speech that pollution is a major problem in North America and in the world. We should be doing something about pollution. We should not be wasting our time, effort and money on some hypothetical argument over whether global warming is caused by mankind or whether it is an act of nature or a natural occurrence in the world situation. I think the evidence very clearly is that the heating and cooling of the world over the eons is precisely what is happening now.

So I think I will stick with the Canadian Alliance's common sense. We are concerned about the average Canadian. We are concerned about the Canadians with very low incomes. Many live in my riding. We do not have buses or trains that will take us from our farms and ranches to areas where there are medical doctors and we can obtain services. Our people cannot stand massive increases in fuel taxes or for vehicles that are going to be fighting CO

2

gas emissions. That will add mammoth costs for people who cannot afford it.

There is a better way and a right way to do this, and that is the Canadian Alliance way, which is based on common sense and a concern for the economic well-being of people in this country.