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House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was drugs.

Topics

Canada Marriage ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Taking note that no hon. members are rising, the House will recognize the hon. member for Saskatoon--Humboldt for no more than five minutes under the right of reply.

Canada Marriage ActPrivate Members' Business

April 29th, 2004 / 6:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the comments of the member from the Liberal Party who said that the House of Commons does not have the guidance of the highest court in the land, that any reference that has been made to the courts in respect to the legal definition of marriage would not matter if my private member's Bill C-450 was passed. She said it would shortcut the process and render the Supreme Court reference redundant.

That is the whole point of the bill. I am suggesting that this is such an obvious thing and that the will of the public is so clear and obvious. Certainly, that is the direction I am getting from my constituents. They do not want to see a reference to the Supreme Court because they do not care what will be said by the Supreme Court. They want Parliament to exercise its authority, its responsibility, and make a decision on this matter.

I would suggest that regardless of the arguments in opposition to the very clear and concise nature of my private member's bill, which would resolve this issue, by invoking the notwithstanding clause, the debate would end. Marriage would remain the union of a man and a woman. The Liberals are subverting democracy. There is no legitimate reason for them not to allow a vote.

In fact, I would suggest that not only are they making their intentions clear, clearly they do not intend to protect the legal definition of marriage or they would not be playing the charade that they are. By making the Supreme Court reference and by denying the right of every other member of Parliament in the House of Commons to have a private member's bill voted upon, they are interfering with my duty, my obligation, and my responsibility to my constituents to represent them by bringing forth issues that they want to see debated and voted on in the House of Commons. Constituents do not want to see their elected officials shirk their responsibility by shuffling these issues off to a court.

I think that the government's refusal to allow this to go to a vote in Parliament is shameful. It is a subversion of democracy and is making a mockery of the proceedings of the House of Commons.

Canada Marriage ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated as a votable item, the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Canada Marriage ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, on March 30, I asked the Minister of Natural Resources when he would recommend to cabinet the proclamation of the 1982 Motor Vehicle Consumption Standards Act. Given that reaching the Kyoto targets on climate change will require considerable improvement in automotive fuel efficiency, I thought that was an appropriate question at that time.

The minister's reply was not very encouraging. He provided no evidence of future regulation, but rather support toward the continued reliance on so called voluntary measures. It seems to me at this point that the reply given by the minister was not sufficient, given the following reasons.

First, according to a recent report by Environment Canada, greenhouse gas emissions from all personal vehicles has increased by 16% from 1990 to 2001, and within that figure, emissions from SUVs in particular, as well as pickup trucks and vans have increased by 79%.

Second, as verified by Transport Canada, Canadians are driving more than ever, with large relatively fuel-inefficient cars such as trucks, vans and SUVs becoming the fastest growing segment of the market. At the same time, rising gas prices have been met with popular demand for hybrid vehicles that has been outstripping current supply. That is an interesting development.

Third, if links with the automotive industry south of the border are an important consideration, it is interesting to note that both President Bush and likely presidential candidate Kerry have recently spoken out about promoting alternatively fuelled cars, with Mr. Kerry campaigning on increasing mandatory fuel economy standards to 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres by 2015. It is evident that without mandatory standards, the 12% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions attributed to automobiles and light trucks will only continue to grow.

This evening, could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources tell us when a decision will be made to introduce mandatory standards for fuel efficiency?

Mandatory standards to substantially improve fuel efficiency in the automotive sector are indispensable. They can be particularly effective when accompanied by tax incentives. For example, British Columbia and Ontario already offer $1,000 to each purchaser of a new hybrid vehicle. Ottawa, namely the federal government, presently offers no incentive whatsoever.

The frequently mentioned reduction of fuel consumption by 25% by the year 2015 is possible, but industry needs a lead time to adjust production plans. Therefore, the government, namely the Departments of Transport, the Environment and Natural Resources need to make a decision this year or at the latest next year.

I therefore urge the government, because of its commitment to the Kyoto agreement, to announce a mandatory fuel efficiency program together with a national tax incentive program to encourage the purchase of hybrids and any other vehicle performing efficiently.

Canada Marriage ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

London West Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by giving a brief history of motor vehicle fuel efficiency in North America. The United States passed its corporate average fuel economy legislation in 1975 after the 1973 OPEC oil embargo and Congress set fuel economy standards for cars for every year from 1977 through 1985. Standards were added later for light trucks.

Canada's cabinet approved and announced automobile fuel consumption standards in 1976 that were based on the U.S. standards. Parliament subsequently passed the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act in 1982 to enforce these standards. Vehicle manufacturers then committed to meet the standards voluntarily and proclamation of the act was postponed.

Canadian company average fuel consumption standards currently match U.S. standards. The standards are 8.6 litres per 100 kilometres for passenger cars and 11.4 litres per 100 kilometres for light trucks, including pick-ups, minivans and sport utility vehicles. The standards apply to the average fuel consumption of all new vehicles sold each year in Canada by every automobile company, no matter where the vehicles are manufactured.

Historically, vehicle manufacturers have not only met these standards, but they have exceeded them compared with the U.S. new vehicle fleet. Currently, new cars are 7% lower or better than the standard and new light trucks are 3% lower than the standard.

While the performance of Canadian manufacturers has been excellent in the past, fuel consumption standards have not improved for nearly 20 years for passenger cars and about 10 years for light trucks. There is a need for improvement. I know my colleague knows this.

Canada has ratified the Kyoto agreement and committed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Because motor vehicles account for 11% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency are an important element of any strategy to reduce emissions.

Given this, the motor vehicle fuel efficiency initiative was first announced in action plan 2000, and the 25% target was announced in the climate change plan of November 2002. Our goal with this initiative is to reach a voluntary agreement with manufacturers on a new target for 2010, based on a 25% improvement from our current voluntary company average fuel consumption standards.

We realize this target is challenging but believe it is feasible and cost effective for both manufacturers and for consumers. There are many currently available and upcoming technologies that can be used to improve fuel consumption by 25% by 2010. Moreover, recent Canadian and U.S. studies have shown that reducing fuel consumption does not require sacrifices in performance and other attributes consumers value, and the cost of most technologies will be paid for through fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.

Canadian consumers, by way of their purchasing choices, continually demonstrate that they value fuel efficiency. The Canadian vehicle market is quite different than the U.S. market in that Canadians mainly buy smaller vehicles with better fuel efficiency. A new fuel consumption agreement will stimulate fuel efficiency innovation and will therefore make more choices available to Canadians in these market segments, and improve technologies in all segments. With NRCan's enhanced programs in consumer education and awareness, we are optimistic that Canadians will respond positively to a wider range of fuel efficient vehicles.

We regard these consultations as a first step to addressing the longer term issue of reducing vehicle greenhouse gas emissions in North America. Improving vehicle fuel efficiency is a necessary step.

I have more information and perhaps I will pass it directly to the member.

Canada Marriage ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for giving us the brief history on this issue and the developments that have taken place over time. I am glad that she also included the fact that the legislation, which was approved by this chamber and by the Senate in 1982, was never proclaimed.

I would like to share her belief and the government's belief in the ability of voluntary agreements to reach the desired targets of reducing emissions by 25% by the year 2010, but I cannot share it. I am glad to hear that the parliamentary secretary in her intervention has recognized that there is a need for improvement. The question is how do we get to this reduction of 25%.

I would submit to the parliamentary secretary this observation. By relying on a voluntary agreement, we will not get to that destination and we will not achieve the desired results. We will discover that when it will be a little too late.

The tax incentives that have been provided by British Columbia and Ontario have not been matched or emulated by the federal government. I would ask the parliamentary secretary to comment on this aspect.

Canada Marriage ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did want to talk about the fact that we have voluntary agreements. They have been successful in the past at reducing the fuel consumption of Canadian motor vehicles and are currently being used to improve fuel efficiency in other major markets. It is reasonable to make this the best choice for an agreement in Canada.

Voluntary agreements do have an advantage in terms of flexibility in design over regulated standards and ultimately the voluntary approach, which leaves the choice of vehicles and technologies to the marketplace, will lead to the most economic solutions for manufacturers and consumers alike.

While the government does have an authority to regulate vehicle efficiency, the government at this point in time would rather make serious efforts toward the voluntary approach, considering the potential benefits it offers. If we are unable to come to a mutually acceptable agreement, other approaches, including regulation, should and will be examined.

I hope that gives an indication to my hon. colleague who I know has worked very long and hard over many years in all the environmental areas.

Canada Marriage ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.24 p.m.)