Mr. Speaker, I would like to specifically address the budget as it impacts or does not impact, as the case may be, on bettering our environment.
We have heard from the Minister of the Environment and other government members that this is the greenest budget that has ever been passed. Historically one could take some issue with that but if it is, it is sorely lacking.
There was an opportunity for the government to address some of the issues that confront this country with regard to bettering our environment, cleaning up the environment, providing for a cleaner environmental future for subsequent generations.
The background work I did in preparing for this debate was interesting. Some of the environmental groups have prepared a government scorecard. They listed a half a dozen to a dozen issues that need to be addressed, longstanding concerns. They assessed the situation, determined what was necessary in government policy to deal with the issues and whether the budget addressed those issues to a satisfactory degree.
Not surprisingly, the results are not very favourable as far as the government is concerned. Let us look at some of the issues.
Do we have a meaningful energy efficiency building retrofit strategy? That one had a partial check mark as opposed to a total no. The only reason is that there is some money in the infrastructure dollars which may provide for a retrofit program but we do not know about that. It was not detailed in the budget at all. Part of that is because it is part of the whole Kyoto plan which the government has been so slow at getting off the ground.
The next point was whether there was a renewable energy strategy. Again, they could not really quantify this or give it a score other than to say that it is addressed but there are no particulars. They do not really know what the government is doing. That of course comes to the same point. There is supposed to be a Kyoto implementation plan, but in fact it does not exist. It was interesting to see how little material there was in the budget as far as implementing the Kyoto protocol in Canada is concerned.
Another issue which follows along the same lines of energy efficiency but also begins to address the issue of clean air is whether we are going to phase out the massive subsidies provided to the fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries in Canada. There were no changes in this regard at all from past practices. Those subsidies which run into the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars each year will continue to be accorded to those industries and will continue to allow them to pollute the environment.
With regard to a sustainable transportation strategy and fund, there is some money so the government received a partial plus on that one. Again it comes back to what the Kyoto implementation plan is going to look like. It was impossible to tell how meaningful the approach would be.
One of the issues the budget could have addressed has been raised by environmental groups and by our party for quite some time, I would say going back three to five years. That has been to address a taxing figure for toxic waste and toxic substances so that there would be incentives to clean up the use of toxic substances and to clean up toxic waste sites. A very small amount of money was put into the budget to encourage that.
There was nothing done with regard to the ongoing use of toxic substances. There was no tax to discourage their use at all.
Of particular resonance for my community is the use of coal as an energy source. Rather than doing anything to discourage the use of coal, this budget would provide a new tax incentive for the mining industry. The coal industry would get part of this subsidy and Canadians will be encouraged to continue to use coal as an energy source.