Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak in this very important debate on the motion to ratify the Kyoto protocol.
When debating this issue, we must think about those who will come after us, that is, young people. We must think about the distant future. That is why in Quebec, few people have criticized the fact that Canada has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels, by 2008 or 2010.
We are talking about the future. In Quebec, there is another reason. The Government of Quebec and all Quebeckers have already made an effort to use hydroelectricity, which has less of an impact on greenhouse gas emissions of course. Many things have been done in this respect.
Nonetheless, there is still a lot to do. We must think about developing new energies such as wind energy. Canada does not have a very good track record in this respect, compared to other countries.
In Germany, 35.8% of energy used, or 8,753 megawatts, comes from wind power. Germany is a world leader in this form of energy. In the United States, 4,245 megawatts, 17.3% of their energy, were wind-generated. In Spain, the figure is 13.6%; in Denmark, it is 9.9%; in India, which is not a rich country, it is 6.2%; in China, it is 1.6%; and in Canada, it is 0.8%. Half of Canada's wind energy is produced in Quebec.
In Quebec, regions such as Cap-Chat and Matane have already developed wind energy. Nonetheless, there is extraordinary potential in eastern Quebec, the North Shore and Îles-de-la-Madeleine. There are people, researchers who think and seriously consider that this could be installed on off-shore platforms.
I listened to researchers speak of how blowy these regions are—and they might well blow their own horns as far as tourist attraction is concerned as well—how exposed to the wind they are.
The wind does not blow equally everywhere, on all shores and all hills. Where there are hills, mountains or other elevations, this affects wind direction, as well as strength. According to the researchers, there is room for improvement, although it is very good at present. For instance, in areas where the river is shallow, platforms and pillars could be constructed. There are major possibilities.
The whole goal of this is to emphasize a certain aspect. I may be faulted for looking out for my riding, but that is precisely what I was elected for. The platforms I am referring to are very much like the oil drilling platforms required to exploit offshore oil.
Now, as for the type of construction required for such platforms, the Lévis shipyards are one of the main companies that have developed expertise in this area in Canada. Obviously, then, there are many possibilities as far as platforms and turbines are concerned.
I raise this point because I believe it is in keeping with research and experimental trends for further development of this technology. It already is quite efficient, as can be seen from the list of countries I have given. More use could be made of it in Canada. I see that the Minister of Natural Resources is listening carefully and I appreciate that. He has already indicated that he too has an interest in this matter, as does his department. It is not something far-fetched, when such countries as Germany, the U.S., Spain, Denmark, India and China are involved. They are leaders as far as this type of energy is concerned. I think it is worthwhile taking it further.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind power creates more jobs per dollar invested than any other technology, more than five times the figure for thermal or nuclear energy.
The European Wind Energy Association has calculated that for each megawatt of wind energy that is installed, some 60 jobs are created per year, and another 15 to 19 direct and indirect jobs. Therefore, in 1996, the 3,500 newly installed megawatts in Europe would have created 72,000 jobs. Obviously 72,000 jobs would be welcome anywhere. Some regions are better suited to it than others. The creation of jobs in resource-based regions such as the Lower St. Lawrence, the Gaspé Peninsula and the North Shore would be one solution. We must think about development in the regions and about young people leaving. We know that every province in Canada is experiencing this problem; we must think about it.
Many people are critical of certain interventions. For example, Davie. This fall, there was a great media flurry criticizing the fact the Government of Quebec and the federal government for intervening in the case of Davie, by awarding it a contract. People said that the decision was a bad one and that we had to let free markets decide. However, everyone agrees that there is a role for the government to play in job creation in big businesses in certain sectors, including wind energy. Not only does it create jobs, but it also has an impact on our desire to leave a better environment for those who will come after us.
There was a time when industrialization created a great many jobs. Unfortunately, it also affected the environment. It affected the climate. In Quebec alone, for example, the levels of the St. Lawrence have changed more quickly in recent years than in any other period. We are not talking about returning to the ice age, but there has been more change than at any other period. Global warming is causing glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic to melt. All of this is causing an upheaval that is producing more severe and more frequent natural disasters.
All we have to do is look at what happened in the Saguenay, what was called the Saguenay flood. It caused dams to collapse and there was damage caused by the flood. There was also the ice storm in Quebec.
In the United States, some regions are more susceptible to tornadoes and hurricanes. Observers around the world have noticed that there have been an increasing number of strange meteorological phenomena and that some regions are getting warmer, while others are getting colder. Nothing is black and white, but there are sufficient observations that people are increasingly surprised and worried about the issue.
Everybody recognizes that there is a reason the Kyoto summit led to a protocol to control greenhouse gas emissions.
On behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, I reaffirm our support to the ratification of the Kyoto protocol. Tomorrow evening, we will not be voting on the implementation of the Kyoto protocol, but on its ratification. We support ratification of this protocol.
Of course, when the time comes to implement it—negotiations between the federal and provincial governments have already begun; some rather interesting discussions are taking place and concerns are being voiced—some conditions will have to be complied with.
Again, we agree with ratification of the Kyoto protocol. However, as regards its implementation, the Ottawa plan uses 2010 as the reference year, that is the year when each province or sector of the economy will have to begin to make specific reduction efforts. We feel that this approach is unfair, because it does not take into account past and current efforts, and because it encourages polluters to pollute even more between now and the year 2010.
Polluters should not be rewarded, nor those who are already making efforts penalized. Ottawa—that is, of course, the federal government—says that it is prepared to fund projects in the hydrocarbon industry. In the past, the federal government gave 20 times more money in direct subsidies to the hydrocarbon industry than to renewable energies.
The Bloc Quebecois is asking the federal government to pledge to give one dollar to renewable energies for each dollar invested in the hydrocarbon industry.
The federal government has developed an unfair plan that benefits the industries that pollute the most. The principles that make it worthwhile to ratify the Kyoto protocol call for another way of doing things.
Again, the polluter pay principle, whereby those who pollute the most are the ones who must reduce their emissions the most, is not being applied adequately. This is a matter of fairness. The Bloc Quebecois has made proposals that are, in our opinion, the most equitable and beneficial.
As far as respect of provincial jurisdiction over the environment is concerned, there must be an acknowledgment that the federal government has jurisdiction over the environment, if only for certain phenomena such as the air and water that move from one province to another. There we have to recognize federal jurisdiction. But there are also provincial jurisdictions over the environment, natural resources and manufacturing, and these must be taken into consideration.
In short, we make a clear distinction between ratification of the Kyoto protocol and its implementation. We are convinced that it needs to be ratified, based on a number of principles to which we are deeply attached and which need to be reflected in implementation.
I would like to remind hon. members that all parties in the Quebec National Assembly also agree on ratification of Kyoto. There is a consensus on this in place in Quebec.
I personally agree with the approach of the Quebec minister of the environment, Mr. Boisclair, who wishes to see a bilateral agreement between the federal government and Quebec. Obviously, we have no objection to the same thing being done between the federal government and the other provinces.
This would be desirable, because as we watch this debate evolve in the House, we can see the regional differences that exist as far as interests, and potential problems, difficulties and constraints relating to application of the Kyoto protocol are concerned.
But for Quebec, when we refer to taking past efforts into consideration, we are thinking of the entire matter of credit allocation for past efforts, for which there ought to be recognition.
At the same time, this is a debate in which it might be hard to avoid partisan politics.
Personally, I think that ratification of the Kyoto protocol will require efforts from everyone, particularly when it comes to consumption. Without meaning to judge or criticize those who drive SUVs too harshly, when I see big vehicles in downtown Quebec City or Montreal, I have to wonder what the use is of having such a big, gas-guzzling engine to drive on city streets, at reduced speeds. The roads are smooth and even. It is not as if they were driving in the forest.
I represent Lévis, but I come from the Lower St. Lawrence, where there are a lot of forests. I can understand that this type of vehicle is useful for forestry workers, but in the city, one has to wonder.
In order to reduce traffic problems in the downtowns of cities, whether it be Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto or Vancouver, I think we need to take this opportunity to think more about public transit. The ideal would be to have high speed trains for longer distances, but I am also talking about commuter trains. I know some people from Mont-Saint-Hilaire, in Quebec. A commuter train was added there to allow them to get out of the downtown area. There are a number of commuter lines on the North Shore, near Montreal. It is an idea that works and that contributes a great deal to easing traffic congestion downtown.
People in Quebec City are starting to talk about the idea. I am from the South Shore, but there could be public transportation to connect the South Shore, which would reduce the number of cars on both bridges and on the ferry. I mentioned these two cities because that is where there is the most urban transit and traffic jams.
During the week, I live in the Outaouais, in the riding of Hull—Aylmer. There is a great deal of traffic there. Why is there no commuter train between the Outaouais and downtown Ottawa?
I know that all the members from the Toronto area could talk about rush-hour congestion. This is a major problem. It is also a problem in Vancouver. I imagine it is the same in Calgary or Edmonton. This is a common problem, and we should all give it some thought.
Hydro-Québec did a lot of research into electric motors for vehicles. Research is advancing rapidly, but it will not be applied for a long time. In the meantime, I think it is important to have a debate like the one we are having tonight.
I know that not everyone agrees. In a democracy, however, diverging opinions need to be respected. I realize that Alliance members have expressed concerns. They are looking after the interests of their constituents, and I think we must respect that. At the same time, the debate allows us to disagree, but also to move in our thinking towards consensus.
We will never exhaust the subject, but I want to draw a comparison with firearms. Yes, it is one thing to control guns, but the Firearms Act led to a debate. This debate increased awareness. People thought that money needed to be spent to change the attitudes to violence.
The same is true for the environment. I am pleased to have been able to speak on this issue. I hope that my non-partisan suggestions will be heard. The Minister of Natural Resources is nodding a yes, which I appreciate.