Madam Speaker, obviously a debate around energy in this country at any point raises quite a bit of energy within this House and that is as it should be.
I am pleased to speak to this bill at such an early stage. It is at the early stages that we must set the foundations of this debate. We must find out why it is so important for this House to consider this issue. We must alter the fundamental direction of this country when it comes to dealing with our energy and resources and I use those expressions very purposefully because they are ours.
The endowment that we have received from the benefit of being within this country is an incredible supply of both traditional carbon based forms of energy and the energy that we need to be investing in for the future. The expression that has been used over and over again is in a post-carbon world.
I will hit briefly upon four points in the time allotted to me. First, we have the concept of investment and intelligent investments. The government needs to switch course and start to make those industries and those cycles profitable.
Second, I would like to bring this issue home to the people that I represent in Skeena—Bulkley Valley and to Canadians that live in the rural sectors of our country. They are often left out of this type of debate and often left out of the legislation such as this, especially when it is poorly drafted legislated that has been drafted on the fly. It does not address the people living in those smaller and more remote communities.
Third, I would like to talk about the Liberal record on this file and the lack of action; and fourth, there needs to be some sort of future strategy that we need to go ahead with.
With respect to investments, this country often at times cites its key competition with the United States. I would suggest we need to further expand our horizon to consider where the world is moving when it comes to energy security.
So often we fixate upon millions of barrels of oil produced, cubic metres of natural gas produced, yet we see time and again, both in the developing world, in China and India in particular, and much of the advanced world that the question has moved beyond how many millions of barrels can be produced. The question has moved to a place where the diversification of the energy supply is going to dictate the efficiency and effectiveness of the economy and the effectiveness and strength of the society as a whole. Simply relying upon traditional forms of energy will no longer suffice and continue into the next millennia. Among the major industries in our world, many of the most successful are those that are looking for the greatest efficiency.
My colleague from Windsor West pointed out quite succinctly that at the time when we had an oil and gas sector achieving reasonable profits, some would say “exceptional profits”, well and good. Is this a time that Canadians are demanding upon their government, in the same year that a company is turning a record profit, that we should also be subsidizing that company? There is a strange ideology within this government, which is supported by members in the Conservative Party, to continue to subsidize a sector in the midst of record profits.
We all understand that we need to encourage investment in those areas we wish to pursue further, particularly in those sectors that are hurting on the west coast. This past season we witnessed one of the worst fishing seasons that we have seen in decades. The cry for support and the cry for help for some small investment to keep the fleet on the water for next year goes awry. Whereas, when a sector such as the oil and gas sector is doing quite well and calls upon the government for further tax subsidies, it is well adhered to.
There is something in this bill completely lacking and that is the vehicle with which the disbursements will be allocated. It is completely ignoring the community groups and the activist groups that are on the ground dealing with low income Canadians close to the marginal edge trying to assist those Canadians to become more efficient. This bill completely ignores them.
It goes directly through CMHC. It goes through another bureaucratic mechanism and ignores the not for profit sector who are often times cited as one of the most efficient ways to deliver direct programming, particularly to those groups who they most know best, those Canadians who are closest to the edge, closest to the margin, seniors on fixed income, low income families, and those that need the support that this bill is purported to support.
I will move to Kyoto for a moment. When the government signed on to this protocol in 1997, there was so little recognition of the investments required to actually achieve a more efficient economy. There was much rhetoric, there was much spin, and there was much re-announcement of money, but the key investments that should have been made, such as having Canadian families understand how to invest in their child's education and having the business community understand how to make themselves more profitable, were not made by this government. As it scrambles and stumbles toward the Kyoto deadlines, we are meant to believe that somehow we will meet our targets.
There is very little that the environment committee heard from any of the experts we talked to on any side of the issue that held that up to be anything other than a fabrication. The Liberal record with respect to the environment and efficiency on energy is mixed at the very best. Signals are sent to both industry and consumers, and then a different signal is sent the next day.
This legislation was made in a moment of crisis, I would suggest, rather than a strategic plan. When we ask the government to paint for us a picture of what the country may look like in 10 years, in terms of our energy mix and where we are deriving the energy from to enhance our security to enhance our economy, the answer is empty.
The answer is another spending announcement, which the Auditor General herself has pointed out time and time again is money that is re-announced. It is money that is rarely dispensed, and the results that the money is meant to achieve, in this case, greater energy efficiency for Canadians, is suspect because the record is so poor on the environment.
The reason I can say this with confidence and outside out of general political rhetoric is that the numbers do not lie. Our pollution continues to go up. Our economy remains inefficient,. Our economy remains behind in productivity of most of our OECD competitors. This simply cannot continue to go on.
Legislation is made in some sort of political storm and in an intellectual vacuum. I suggest many pieces of this are back-loaded legislation, coming into force four or five years down the road. There are no specifics in this bill that we can find whatsoever as to when this money will actually be given to Canadians who, this winter, will be facing incredibly high energy costs, 30% or 40%, depending on the energy that they rely upon.
What does this mean for a senior on a fixed income or for a low income family just now making it who are having to make these impossible decisions, which members in this House, I would suggest, do not fully appreciate?
I do not believe that there are any members in this House who do not fully understand what it is to have to make those tough choices, between the kids' soccer lessons and the heating bill or between prescription drugs that one needs to survive and the heating and electricity bill. Those are profound questions that Canadians, we are meant to represent, deal with day in and day out.
There is no accounting for a piece of legislation that provides some small band-aid, and that is administered in a way that we are unsure of the results. We still do not know, over a five year program, when this money is meant to come forward. It is not as if this crisis came about all of a sudden. It is not as if hurricane Katrina and the spike in energy prices was unexpected.
There was a sound and profound knowledge that energy would continue, in its traditional forms, to get more expensive, that our supply, while being exposed, in the tar sands would begin to dry up, and that the energy demands of the world would continue to increase.
Therefore, the security of this country, the efficiency and productivity of our economy, and the security of Canadians who are just struggling to get by, depends upon us as members of Parliament making sound decisions. This represents intelligent investments in our energy and developing a strategy whereby we can describe this future to Canadians. This will allow us to describe how the mix of energy would be both sustainable with respect to Kyoto and beyond that, and climate change in general. It would also lead to a greater efficiency in economy, providing the types of jobs that we want people in this country to have, and people's children in this country to have. I would suggest that this bill does not address that in any respect.
The last point I would like to make before wrapping up is that there must be a profound understanding of who these resources belong to. In this debate, when we talk about energy, energy security and supply, we often times move to a laissez-faire market-driven mentality, which works in some instances. However, it ignores any concept of sovereignty and any concept of what it is to be Canadian. It also ignores what it means to be blessed with the land that we have been endowed with, and the incredible resources that we have, both traditional carbon and the new energy resources.
This endowment is both a responsibility and it is something to be cherished. The Canadian government, if no other body, needs to be making decisions through legislation and through investment that protects that endowment, that ensures it will continue to serve Canadians for generations to come, and this, beyond all else, should be the focus of all our decisions in this place.