That a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons be appointed to examine and analyze the regional, sectoral, consumer, environmental and provincial impacts for meeting Kyoto targets as set out by the Prime Minister in 1997; invite the provinces and territories to provide their estimates of impacts and effects of the ratification or non-ratification of Kyoto on their economies; consider the effect on Canada of the ratification or non-ratification of the Protocol by the United States; determine if specific adjustment programs would be required to help Canadian provinces, regions, individuals and businesses adjust if the Kyoto Protocol is ratified; commission and receive a comprehensive and independent legal opinion on the constitutionality of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol without provincial agreement; and provide recommendations whether Canada should ratify the Protocol;
That seven Members of the Senate and sixteen Members of the House of Commons be members of the Committee with two Joint Chairpersons, to be named at a later date;
That changes in the membership, on the part of the House of Commons of the Committee, be effective immediately after a notification signed by the member acting as the chief Whip of any recognized party has been filed with the clerk of the Committee;
That no change in membership be permitted without the consent of the Member or Senator being replaced;
That the Committee be directed to consult broadly, examine relevant research studies and literature and review measures being used or developed in other jurisdictions;
That the Committee have the power to sit during sittings and adjournments of the Senate;
That the Committee have the power to report from time to time, to send for persons, papers and records, and to print such papers and evidence as may be ordered by the Committee;
That the Committee have the power to retain the services of expert, professional, technical and clerical staff, including legal counsel;
That a quorum of the Committee be twelve members whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented, and that the Joint Chairpersons be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof, whenever six members are present, so long as both Houses are represented;
That the Committee be empowered to appoint, from among its members, such sub-committees as may be deemed advisable, and to delegate to such sub-committees, all or any of its power, except the power to report to the Senate and House of Commons;
That the Committee be empowered to adjourn from place to place within and outside Canada;
That the Committee be empowered to authorize television and radio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings;
That the Committee be empowered to webcast its meetings;
That the Committee operate an interactive website to enable full participation of all Canadians;
That the Committee Reporting Service provide the same overnight service for transcripts as is provided for the House of Commons Hansard;
That the Committee present its final report no later than November 30, 2002 ; and
That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint that House accordingly.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon to discuss the merits of motion M-82. I would also like to thank the member for Fundy—Royal for his support on this very important issue.
Of all the issues facing this country today, none is more unpredictable and none is more potentially divisive than the decision we are being asked to take on the Kyoto protocol.
Virtually everyone in the House recognizes the need to address the issue of climate change. With the possible exception of health care, no single decision of this Parliament will have a greater impact on the welfare of future generations than the actions we take on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
It is precisely because this is so important that we need to ensure that there is the widest possible base of consultations, not simply to gather the information but also to build the kind of consensus that would make any agreement possible.
It is precisely because this is so important that we need to know the facts. We cannot afford to make these decisions blindly. We must know, with a reasonable degree of certainty, what the impact will be, not just on the country as a whole, but that too, but also upon individual provinces, individual industrial sectors and individual regions of the country. We must have, on an issue of this magnitude, federal-provincial cooperation and agreement. There was some of that some months ago. It has been wasted by the way this process has proceeded over the last several months. There is still time for us carry out the consultations, for us to publish the facts, for us to achieve the kind of cooperation that is essential for any well based national initiative.
The motion proposes to let Parliament, through a joint committee of this House and the other place, do the work that the Government of Canada has so far failed to do with respect to Canada's obligations regarding Kyoto and the most effective path which Canada could follow in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Instead of carrying out that kind of broad consultation, the government is forging blindly ahead. There is no impact analysis. The cost estimates that have been prepared by the government are not even made available to ministers of the crown when they are considering what should be done on this issue. The support that had existed initially in concept among the provinces has virtually dissipated now. Very few provinces support the proposal and there is no plan that the government can bring forward at this stage.
I want to draw five years of history to the attention of the House on this issue. We have a situation here that is worse than the government failing to seek cooperation with the provinces. The government actually broke an agreement with the provinces that would have made it possible for us to proceed together on Kyoto and on the question of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Then it wasted five years in which a consensus could have been reached by the government that gave real priority over time to the development of that consensus.
Let me make the point sometimes forgotten. Federal, provincial and territorial ministers of the environment and ministers of energy met in Regina in November 1997 and they came to an agreement on Kyoto.
At the end of the conference, the ministers agreed on the strategy Canada would have to take during the negotiations on what would become the Kyoto protocol.
They agreed that domestic implementation was linked to the need to have a clear understanding of the implications of any package of measures, both in terms of environmental impact and economic impact. They agreed that emissions trading needed to be examined. They agreed to work collaboratively to develop an implementation plan. They agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2010. That was all agreed to five years ago this month in Regina in a federal-provincial process.
Then the Prime Minister decided not to honour the commitment his government made to the provinces. He decided to go it alone. What was his excuse? The then minister of resources said that the Government of Canada has the jurisdiction to sign treaties, that it does not need the provinces.
That is an argument I have heard before. I heard it when I was lead minister negotiating the free trade agreement. We were told by theorists that we did not need the provinces because it was strictly a federal jurisdiction.
Of course only the federal government under our law can sign treaties, but the practical reality is that in order to give effect to any major international obligation, Canada needs to have the cooperation of the provinces as well as the agreement of the federal government.
The government of the day broke the agreement it had with the provinces on those ideological grounds. It has left us in a situation now where we do not have the kind of consensus we need.
Then the government went to Kyoto. What was the basis of the agreement Canada made? What was the scientific basis of our agreement? The basis is simple. The Prime Minister of Canada said he was going to be tougher than the Americans. That was the basis upon which we went into the Kyoto protocol agreements to which our signature would make us obliged right now.
The issue is very clear. We must have decisions that bring the provinces in, not divisions that drive the provinces away. We cannot make so complex a treaty work if Quebec is shut out, if Alberta is shut out, if Ontario is shut out and if the other provinces are shut out.
There is a real alarm in the country about the economic consequences of these obligations and not simply, may I say, the economic consequences. In my own province, a province bruised by its experience with the national energy program, there is more talk about separation than I as a firm, committed federalist feel comfortable with. It is inspired directly by the concern that Albertans are seeing in this approach, the same kind of ham-handed, damn the consequences approach that was taken with the national energy program.
As a former foreign affairs minister, I have to say there is a grave danger here that we will be signing an international accord we are not able to honour. Not only will that make us subject to international penalities, it will also besmirch the name of Canada internationally. We are a country whose strength is that our word can be counted on. We are being asked to sign an accord here that we do not know whether we can honour.
Regardless of what can be said about it, the debate on Kyoto is no longer a debate about reducing greenhouse gases. Kyoto has become a symbol of Ottawa's approach when it comes to the provinces. After having done nothing for five years, the federal government is now getting ready to make a commitment to the international community without the support of the provinces, which it needs if it wants to meet the requirements of the accord.
After five years of inertia, the Prime Minister is rushing Parliament and the country into ratifying Kyoto. Rather than encourage a full debate, rather than address the concerns of those who are reticent to ratify without knowing the consequences or reticent to sign on if we cannot keep our word, the country is now faced with an artificial deadline of the end of this year.
It is time that Parliament did the work the government has failed to do.
Where the government will not hear arguments, let Parliament become the forum to which Canadians can come with their perspectives and their concerns. Where the government will not publish its impact analyses, let Parliament order those impact analyses to be published. Let Parliament receive the analyses done by others. The Prime Minister will not meet with the premiers. Let Parliament make sure that the views of and the alternatives from the provinces are heard.
The motion proposes the immediate creation of a joint special committee of the House of Commons and the Senate, and you, Sir, in introducing the motion have read the details. It is a detailed motion. It talks about the matters that would be considered.
On Tuesday, the leader of the government in the other place confirmed that while a general motion on the subject of ratification will be presented to both Houses before the Christmas holidays, the enabling legislation, the details, the facts about what it is we are going to be doing, will not come before Parliament until the spring. We are being asked to vote before December without any information. We are being asked to cast a blind vote in December, but we will not know the facts or the implications until some time later in the spring.
Parliament is therefore presented with an even greater need to collect and consider carefully the data on Kyoto. We have an obligation to ourselves and to our constituents to know the implications before we cast a vote.
We have a period of time, not a long time but a period of time during which it would be absolutely feasible to hold meaningful consultations and hearings and report back to this place before each of us is called upon to make a decision on the legislation.
I have already spoken with representatives of certain provinces about taking part in such a committee, to ensure that we have the opportunity to consider and debate the different perspectives of the provinces. Some provinces are prepared to participate in such a joint committee.
I urge members of the House to please not give in to the government's temporary view that Ottawa knows best on these issues, to not give in to the tradition of the fédéralisme dominateur that has caused so much difficulty in this country, that was at the birth of the national energy program, and that could have, had it been followed, undercut the free trade agreement.
This is our opportunity as parliamentarians to assert and to honour our responsibility to ensure that there is informed debate, to ensure that for Canadians, before we commit ourselves to one of the most significant, extensive undertakings the country will consider in the next decade, there is an opportunity for us to have some certainty that we know what we are doing, that we are not acting blindly, or that we are not acting with the federal government against the provinces in a way that builds in the kind of division that has always proved so destructive in this country and is giving every sign of proving destructive now on the Kyoto question.
To paraphrase Edmund Burke, we owe our constituents much more than just our votes on this issue. We owe our constituents our judgment. It has to be an informed judgment. None of us here can honestly say that he or she knows enough about the implications of this proposed accord to make an intelligent vote without hearing more facts.
Let us use the opportunity of the motion to give ourselves the tools we need to enhance our knowledge of the consequences of the vote that is being thrust upon us. Let us give ourselves the opportunity to see if there is some better way for Canada to contribute to the response to greenhouse gas emissions. Let us give ourselves the opportunity to see if there are some better ways for us to use our international reputation and, indeed, to protect our international reputation and not put ourselves in a position where we sign an agreement we cannot honour.
Given the critical importance of this issue, and given that two days ago the House changed the Standing Orders in order to extend the opportunity to make private members' business votable, I would ask for unanimous consent to make this item a votable item in the House.
I thank the House for its attention. I look forward to debate and to a decision on my request for unanimous consent to make the motion votable.