Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to take part in this opposition day motion on Kyoto from the Canadian Alliance.
Let me start by saying that the member for Red Deer has the toughest job in the whole Canadian Alliance Party. It is not a beach party being a member of that party lately anyway, but frankly he has the job of trying to sell the Canadian Alliance position on Kyoto, which has been one of shifting sands. Since I have been here in 1997 it has been an absolutely moving target. When Kyoto was brought forward to the international arena, the Alliance's first position was to deny it completely, to say that global warming was not the result of human activity on this planet, that it was not a problem. That was its first position. I heard the leader of that party say that a couple of times. Those members were the chief apologists for the oil industry. They were the corporate shills for oil interests or big oil.
They took that job very seriously until the oil industry matured beyond their position. It is kind of embarrassing to be out-greened by the oil industry in North America, but that is exactly what happened. They were forced to shift their position and then they started challenging the science by which the measurements were being taken in terms of global warming. For the next six to ten months they were talking about bad science and how could we commit our country to such a radical change in the way we conduct business when it was based on bad science, as if they had a team of scientists somewhere that was better than the leading scientists in the world who congregated at Rio and then at Kyoto to decide to finally do something about global warming. They had members like the members from Athabasca and Red Deer who were willing to challenge the leading minds of the century on this issue.
Then they were forced to recognize that the Pacific Ocean has risen 12 centimetres. They were forced to recognize that on the Canadian prairie due to global warming the area I come from and the area that those members come from are close to being a desert. We are two or three degrees of global warming away from going from a prairie agricultural economy to the next Gobi Desert. That is the fear in the area I live in, but their narrow, blinkered focus was only on the oil patch. They had their heads deeply in the oil sands. They refused to acknowledge the emergency taking place internationally when the rest of the world was coming to an agreement.
Finally they had to give up on that and start admitting that given the ice storms, given the change in climate, something goofy was happening, that maybe mankind was in fact responsible for some of this global warming. Maybe burning fossil fuels was soiling our own nest to the point where human beings would not be able to live on this planet.
Now they have had to shift their tactics again, to fearmongering about how much it would cost to fix the problem, but not talking about the cost of not fixing the problem. They are trying to sell the fact that there is some immediate negative cash outlay necessary and that is where they find themselves now.
A fourth angle that they have tried to float today is that Kyoto is last century's solution and we are looking for a 21st century solution. Kyoto was agreed upon in the very twilight hours of the last century for implementation in this century, so let us not try to sell it as an outdated ideology or as obsolete in any way. That is completely disingenuous.
Now we find Canadian Alliance members scrambling to find some way to be faithful to their old arguments and still recognize the undeniable fact that this planet has agreed as a global entity that we must do something about our global climate change.
I was lucky enough to take part in a cross-country conference on climate change, in five different locations, with the global task force on climate change which Canada hosted in 1993. Prior to Rio we were dealing with these issues. One of the things that came up at that time is that we are too much concerned with supply side management and that maybe this is how we have to break out of the box: we have to start talking more about demand side management. As a contractor, a journeyman carpenter and the head of a building trades union, for me it was absolute heresy to stand up in any public setting and say that we were against building more hydro generating stations, we were against building more nuclear power plants or we were against building the oil tar sands in Fort McMurray, because that was where the people I represented hoped to get jobs. Therefore we had to do some research.
We had to get some real hard facts to find the trade-off . We were happy to learn something which I am happy to share with the members for Red Deer and Athabasca and the other champions of the other point of view. Empirical evidence now exists that there is far more job creation opportunity on the demand side management of energy resources than there is in manufacturing on the supply side.
If members are interested at all in demand side management they will probably be interested in hearing this. A unit of energy that we harvest from the existing system through demand side management conservation measures is indistinguishable from a unit of energy that we crank out at a generating station, except for a number of things.
First, it is available online immediately. As soon as I turn off the light switch in my house that unit of energy is there so I can sell it to someone else, instead of a five year lag period for building a new generating station.
Second, it creates as many as seven times the number of jobs. A unit of energy harvested from the existing system through demand side management measures creates seven times the person years of employment as a unit of energy created at a new generating station.
The third and most obvious benefit given this argument is that we actually reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Surely that is an enormous benefit that we all want to achieve now that we have convinced the Canadian Alliance that greenhouse gas and global warming are in fact issues.
The fourth thing is that we do not have to borrow any money to do it.
The final one is the real sinker. As it pertained to the building trade unions that I represented, we offered a whole program where we would energy retrofit public, private and municipal buildings free of charge by using our union pension fund investment money to undertake the retrofitting. In other words, we would create jobs with our own union pension funds to renovate the building. The property owner would then pay us back slowly out of the energy savings, so it was off balance sheet, zero cost financing to retrofit every building in the country.
We proposed this to the federal government and it agreed. The federal government introduced the federal building initiative, albeit on a painfully small scale, far smaller than we recommended. However there are financiers out there who would be willing to retrofit every one of the government's 68,000 buildings across the country at no upfront cost to the taxpayer. This would reduce operating costs by 40%, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions by God knows how much and reduce fossil fuel consumption at no cost to the taxpayer. Why are we not doing this right across the country?
Why did the Canadian Alliance not use its opposition day opportunity, a votable day I might add, to call for real leadership in this cold, harsh, winter environment of Canada so that we could be the centre of excellence in energy conservation and show the world how to create jobs, conserve energy and save money all at the same time? Perhaps some of that money that we would save by demand side management energy conservation measures could be used toward implementing our obligations under Kyoto.
That is why it is painful for me to watch the House of Commons seized for the entire day on whether Kyoto is real or not real, whether we should implement or not implement it, and then have to listen to bogus arguments that because we only generate 3% of the greenhouse emissions, even if we cut our emissions by 50% it would be meaningless on a global scale. That is nonsense.
We are a leading nation. We are one of the G-7 nations that could by example show the rest of the world how to conserve energy and reduce their consumption of fossil fuels through demand side management measures. We could export that technology again so that Canada could generate some benefit from the measures that we take to come into compliance with Kyoto.
We call upon the government to ratify Kyoto and sign on despite what the Americans are doing. We call on the members of the Canadian Alliance to get with the 21st century, get their heads out of the oil sands at Fort McMurray and come along with us as we speak for Canadians and for the global community to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and hopefully breathe fresh air together.