Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak in reply to the Speech from the Throne.
Also, in this final session of the 37th Parliament, I want to thank my constituents, in particular all those people that I will be losing because of a political reorganization of my riding to remove the western portion and add an eastern portion, I guess just to make things a little difficult. I want to thank all of those people for their support over the last 11 years.
My general comment about the Speech from the Throne is that I sat in amazement thinking of the things that were being said and how much they were going to cost. Then I was amazed further at how many things were left out and I would like to talk about those. Then specifically I would like to talk about what the Speech from the Throne had to say about environmental issues.
Much of what the Prime Minister put in the Speech from the Throne we heard again on the CBC. The highlight of that had to be the grade 5 students who did such an excellent job. I would tell the Prime Minister that I enjoy answering questions from grade 5 students as well because they come right from the heart and they are really honest. Probably his best answer of the whole evening was the fact that he watches CBC news before he goes to bed at night. That was very enlightening.
The reason I came to Ottawa was that I felt that this place was corrupt. I felt that this place did not know now to spend money. I could not believe the debt that the country had built up.
Today the debt is $32 billion higher than it was in 1993. It could be said that not very much has been accomplished if that was one of the major issues and it is now $32 billion higher. That debt is being left to our children and our grandchildren. That is one of the reasons we came here.
It galls me when I hear the members across the way talk about how they have dealt with the debt. It has not grown as fast, but certainly it is now $32 billion higher than it was in 1993 when the member for LaSalle—Émard became the finance minister.
When we look at the promises in the throne speech, we see promises about health, which is the number one issue for Canadians. We see a promise that wait lists will be reduced. Red book one said that waiting lists would be reduced and of course in red book four it now says that waiting lists will be reduced. I think Canadians are starting to say that it is easy to put this rhetoric in, but when is the government going to deliver and actually do something that reforms and revises our health care system?
We see a promise of .7% for foreign aid. In red book one it said that we would increase our aid to foreign countries and of course, we are now at less than .2%. Obviously we have gone in the opposite direction there too. Many of the farmers, many of the cities, many of the students that come into our offices also ask, “What about us? If you are going to increase your foreign aid help, what about us?”
For the military, the great pride in 1993 was to cancel the helicopters. Now in red book four we are going to buy helicopters, but that is still a few years down the road. All of us still have in our minds the helicopter lying on its side on that ship. Those 40 year old helicopters are going to be 50 years old before we replace them and our young men and women are forced to fly in them.
We are going to have greater intelligence services and more security. That is great to say and all of us want that security. Terrorism is a horrible threat. However, the environment minister's feeling is that it is not all that bad and not a major threat.
Then the government talks about our social programs. The gap between the rich and the poor certainly has not changed. If anything it is worse.
How long has the aboriginal issue been around? Obviously according to the throne speech we are going to fix that. There are no real details or idea of the cost or no real focus on how we would do that.
Western alienation is a really big problem and we are certainly going to fix that. Yet we find out that our elected senators are not going to be named. We find out that the Wheat Board is just fine, although only Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are forced to sell their grain through a government agency, They are unable to sell their own grain. Farmers cannot take a bag of wheat across the border and give it to a 4-H club without going to jail for it. One of my constituents went to jail for 23 days for taking a bag of grain and donating it to a 4-H club across the border. That is western alienation and there is no mention of fixing things like that.
It was going to cost $2 million for gun control and it has now cost over $1 billion. It is not working. I received 13,000 letters in my constituency office about former Bill C-68. We are not going to fix that. We are not going to have a free vote in the House.
That is what western alienation is all about. Why did the Prime Minister not deal with those problems in the throne speech?
We are going to help the cities. That is just wonderful. We are going to give back some of the GST but we will come up with a plan later, the cheque is in the mail. We are going to help them with their infrastructure. We have been saying that for years and years. Red book one said that. Red book four says that. I assume that if we have a red book 10 it will say that, but not much will happen.
If we did all of those things, the real question is who would pay for it? Obviously we are not going to go into deficit again. We certainly would not want that to happen. I guess we are just going to increase taxes if in fact we are going to deliver on the promises in the throne speech.
More important, what was omitted? Agriculture and BSE and those young farmers were omitted. Those people are losing their way of life. They are going under. They are finished. A whole culture is gone. That is part of western alienation too but there is no mention of it. There is some fancy statement about the government being dedicated to the agricultural way of life but it is not. There is nothing in there that says the government is dedicated to helping those people out.
There is no mention about what is going to happen about taxes. There is no mention of debt reduction. Remember that every man, woman and child owes $40,000. The minute a child is born in this country, he or she owes $40,000. There is no mention of dealing with that. There is no mention of justice issues, about police, about policing problems, about gangs, about drugs.
I read a book over the holidays about how the gangs are taking over Canada. It is scary when we hear what the Hell's Angels are doing and how they have infiltrated government, how they have infiltrated business, how they have infiltrated the police, how they have infiltrated our whole society. There is no mention of that in the throne speech, but that concerns people.
Senate reform also has not been dealt with. We are going to have more free speech. We are going to have more democracy. Six days into this new session, the government used closure. It took the other prime minister over a year to do that. The government used closure again to shut down debate in the House. What are people to think when they hear that?
Turning to environmental issues, as the Conservative Party's senior critic for the environment I have been active in a number of these files. First, on the issue of contaminated sites, it is great that we are going to spend $3.5 billion over 10 years, but much of that money was already included in the 2003 budget. Is it not nice when the government announces the same money over and over again and tries to take credit for it. Let us get on with it. Let us prioritize those sites and show an action plan of what we are going to do.
It is great that we have $500 million over 10 years for other sites, even those that are not federal. It is great that we are going to help the Sydney tar ponds, but we have put $66 million into studies and we still have not done anything. When are we going to do something? Remember that this money amounts to $50 million per year. That is not going to cover a heck of a lot of cleaning up of contaminated sites.
There are brownfields in all of our cities that are going to take a lot of money. They could be productive, taxable sites within our communities. That would be a way to help out the communities. Uranium mines in the north are leaking into our rivers. These things have to be dealt with, but we need a plan. I do not see that plan.
As far as Kyoto is concerned, climate change is occurring. Climate change has always occurred and will continue to occur. There is no question about that. The big question is how much does it have to do with natural processes and how much does it have to do with humans? Let us err on the side of caution and say that humans do play a role in this, but let us get the science behind it first and use that to develop our program.
The environment minister acts like Chicken Little as he runs across the country. I have listened to his speeches all over the place, and my God, the sky is falling. He says there are catastrophes occurring everywhere; there is no snow, there is drought; there is pestilence coming across the whole world. It is just terrible and if we do not do something the polar bears will drown, the native people will be swimming and the Maritimes will be flooded. The whole world is about to end. This guy should be written up in the cartoons.
What does the chief meteorologist for Environment Canada say? He says that there is no proof that extreme weather is caused by global warming. The minister says that in his view climate change is the most severe problem we are facing today, more severe than terrorism. I do not know how many people would agree with that. I doubt the people in Bangkok, or Afghanistan, or in other parts of the world where they are constantly worrying about threats of terrorism would agree with that.
We have agreed that we will be 6% below 1990 levels, which will be a 240 megatonne reduction in CO
reductions. We now have a plan, so to speak, that is going to pick all the low fruit and could conceivably result in a 180 megatonne reduction by 2010. Many countries, 14 of the 15 EU countries, are saying they do not think they can reach their targets by 2010. Those guys have it easy compared to us. We have a huge country, we have a cold climate, we do not have much infrastructure, et cetera. Remember as well that the United States, China, India, Mexico and Brazil, those big polluting countries, are not part of the whole Kyoto process. Remember as well that 8 out of 10 provinces say that they would want more input before they would agree to try to achieve those targets.
All of that said, we look at the government plan and see big industries being asked to reduce by 55 megatonnes. They are saying they cannot achieve that. We are asking average Canadians to reduce their use of carbon by 20%, the one tonne challenge, 20 megatonnes is all that will be. By the way, for those 20 megatonnes so far we have spent $62 million per megatonne. That is what we have budgeted for just to reduce 20 megatonnes out of the 240 megatonnes.
The throne speech says that we are going to go the final shot and take the final 60 megatonnes. There is no plan for that. There is no budget for that. No one knows how we would ever achieve that. We have already added up a whole bunch of maybes to get to the 180 megatonnes. Where could we possibly get that other 60 megatonnes? There are only three places we could get it from.
We could get it from the electricity producers who largely use coal across the country. We could do one of two things, we could shut them down from using coal or we could decide to go totally nuclear. Something has to be done because they are the big producers of CO
. There has to be a plan of what is to be done. That would mean higher electricity rates.
Transportation also has to be looked at. It is fine to say that when people are lined up to go into McDonald's the cars should be shut off while in line and started again to move forward and then turned off. It is fine to say that people should not drive more than 80 kilometres an hour on the highway because that will use less fuel.
I recently drove down Highway 401 at 120 kilometres an hour and I was being passed. We have to convince that whole herd of traffic to drive at 80 kilometres an hour and I do not know how that will be done.
Finally, we also have to regulate heat. We need heat in Canada. In case the Minister of the Environment has not noticed, we have had one of the coldest winters in a long time. In my area we have had more snow than we have had in a long time. I notice the minister does not call it global warming any more. He calls it climate change. That is probably wise. It is hard to sell global warming when it is minus 47 degrees Celsius. It is a tough sell and he might lose his crowd.
Our economy will be affected if we try to do all those things. What should we do? I do not like being negative all the time. We should have a plan and a made in Canada plan, not a Eurocentric bureaucratic nightmare called Kyoto. We need a plan that consists of three things. It would consist of conservation, many of the measures that the Minister of the Environment already promotes. There are all kinds of ways that we can conserve energy. If we were to give Canadians a vision there are all kinds of things they would buy into and their 20 megaton target could be achieved. They probably could double that if they really bought into the program. Canadians need to be told the reasons, they need to be given a name and they need to be shown ways to help them do it. It cannot be done through these phoney programs that nobody knows how to get and that bug all of our offices because we do not know how to access that $400 for a new furnace. The plan may be there or it may not be, we cannot get answers.
Then we need to push the transitional sources of energy, such as the hybrid vehicles, the coal gasification and the bio-gas. Exciting projects are out there in that whole area. I do not have the time to talk about them all now. I would have to take three or four days.
We also have alternate energy and that is the future. Everyone, including the oil and gas industry, can buy into that. That is where the real answers are to this whole problem of climate change and the way we can solve it. There is geo-thermal. In my riding of Red Deer we now have two very large buildings heated by geo-thermal energy. The new county office drilled 300 wells into the earth and pump water down through a heat exchanger to heat and cool their building. It is an exciting project. I am proud of this project.
My riding has a swimming pool and recreational complex heated by geo-thermal energy. This is very exciting. I am proud of this. I take people there and show them these facilities.
We have big wind generators. We have wind farms in places such as Ireland, Germany and Denmark. These countries are leaders in this whole area. We should be there also. We should be helping Canadians to achieve these benefits.
Solar energy is another area that has a great future. There are all kinds of solar cells in space that ultimately could be used to generate energy on earth.
Finally, there is the hydrogen energy. If I had more time I would tell members about a little factory that I went to in Vancouver that is creating fuel cells for motor scooters. Anyone who has been to Beijing or any of those kinds of places would have seen that when the traffic light goes red about 50 to 500 motor scooters line up and then there is a big cloud of smoke. Just think of the benefits if they were using these fuel cells.
I could describe many more options. We are so busy here talking about the culture of corruption that we have little time to talk about the environment and what we should really do. We have little time to work on our clean air, clean water and clean land policies.
In the words of the commissioner of the environment, Johanne Gélinas, there is a gap between the federal government's commitments to the environment and its actions. I think that is exactly what we see in the Speech from the Throne, which is why it is so disappointing to be the environment critic when the government has so little vision on where the environment is really going.