A member across the way said it sounds like an election speech. We are not interested in an election. We are interested in the facts. It would be nice if that party for a change lived up to its own commitments. If members want to hear the facts, then let the process work.
The budget was called the greenest budget in Canadian history. Why was it called that?
I hear the NDP chirping in the corner. Those members are supposedly the champions of a green budget. They supposedly wanted climate change dealt with. Action is better than words. That party voted against the budget. I have no sympathy for those members. They have no credibility at all because they clearly do not support a green budget.
From the beginning, we said that we wanted a sustainable and competitive economy and a green budget. I am very proud to say that the Minister of the Environment indicated from the very beginning that economic competitiveness and the environment were not mutually exclusive.
We delivered a green budget. We delivered a budget with new direction, transforming the economy in terms of a model of sustainability. Tomorrow we will unveil an enhanced climate change plan for the nation. I would suggest that all members in the House take a careful look at what is in that plan before they react.
I want members to know that we now have the fiscal instruments to do what I think all Canadians want and that is to address the serious issue of climate change in this country and indeed in the world. I am very proud that this government signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol. We will be hosting the United Nations framework conference on climate change, COP 11, at the end of the year. This will be an opportunity not only to look at Kyoto, but beyond Kyoto. It is an opportunity to look at the issues of the environment and sustainability worldwide beyond 2008-2012.
I have said that this budget strikes a balance for short term investments. For example, the environment is everyone's concern. Obviously anything that helps in terms of dealing with health related issues, whether it is asthma or anything to do with protecting species at risk, it is very important. We want to see transformative change in public behaviour and obviously in business practice. I must say that we have done a tremendous amount of consultation as we move forward to tomorrow's announcement.
The government cannot do these kinds of investments unless it has a solid economic framework. Clearly, successive governments, both under this Prime Minister and the previous prime minister, delivered that. That is why we were able to pay down the debt and invest in health care, in post-secondary education and in the environment.
Federal investments in the environment will stimulate partnerships. We are interested in partnerships. We are interested in ensuring the advancement of green technologies, not only wind power, solar power and hydrogen power and others, but also the export of these technologies. Canadians are a leader in areas such as air quality and water quality. This gives us an opportunity to work abroad, particularly in places like Asia which I am particularly familiar with. I can say that there are tremendous opportunities in places, even such as Japan, in dealing with contaminated sites as an example.
We are on the cusp of a new era in dealing with the environment and ensuring that it produces new jobs and new opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs in this country.
A healthy ecosystem provides tangible economic benefits to Canadians. This budget includes immediate investments for the protection of Canada's oceans, other important ecosystems, such as the Great Lakes, and a network of our national parks. Again, reinvesting in our national parks is also part of this budget. This is another important milestone to ensure that we not only have the best parks in the world but also to make sure that we have the most up to date facilities for people. We need to invest in our laboratories in Environment Canada. We must be able to provide the kind of tools needed to ensure that they are the best in the world.
In this budget we have market based mechanisms. We have research programs and infrastructure investments. I talked earlier about the cities. The fact is that we are providing $5 billion and at least half of that is looking at the area of a green economy, dealing with public transit as an example, along with improved water and sewage systems. These are things that municipal governments y have been asking for in terms of the gas tax. I have already said that under the previous government the national infrastructure program lay dormant.
Although there are some in this House who claim that they are big fans of supporting cities, the mayors and councils know who their friends are. They know who was there at the beginning to support them. They know who has consistently been there. We eliminated the GST costs for goods and services for municipal governments which will save them $7 billion over a 10 year period.
Eighty percent of Canadians live in cities and therefore the agenda for cities has been very important. It has been one of the most important on the Prime Minister's agenda. I can say, as a former FCM president, how proud I am to serve in a government where not only cities are being dealt with but all communities. This budget deals with the issue of communities from coast to coast to coast.
We are dealing with issues that will improve the health of Canadians with the quality of our ecosystem, which is unprecedented. We will be hosting the world at the end of the year on COP 11 because we will be able to not only demonstrate the ingenuity and commitment of Canadians but we will also able to clearly demonstrate that we are moving ahead as a country and as a government.
Environment Canada, in conjunction with Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada, Industry Canada and others, is working effectively to ensure that all aspects of the government are green. The issue of moving forward is demonstrated with the hybrid vehicles and our very strong agreement with the auto sector. We have had 14 voluntary agreements with the auto sector, which will result in a reduction of 5.3 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Some aspects of the budget are rather significant, such as the climate fund which was originally referred to as the clean air fund. It will create permanent, market based institutions as one of the primary tools for Canada's approach to climate change. We will be tapping the potential of the market which I think will be very exciting.
By tapping into this market we will stimulate innovation and allow Canadians across the country to take action. We will continue to encourage energy efficiency, deliver cost effective reductions and sequestration and drive the adoption of best available technologies which is one of the most important things.
We are committed to doing this. The funds purpose, which I think is rather unique, is to secure domestic emission reductions and qualifying international credits that will assist Canada in complying with its Kyoto commitments. We are not buying any Russian hot air. We are only buying credits that can be Kyoto confirmed.
Over the coming months the Government of Canada will consult with Canadians on how best the fund may achieve this particular mandate. We know that Canadians trust this government in terms of dealing with the environment agenda. Some of the members on that side do not even believe the ice age occurred. I would suggest that when it comes to the environment this government is dealing with it effectively.
The funds' primary mandate is to promote domestic greenhouse gas emission reductions, which is extremely important, and that will be elaborated on with the unveiling tomorrow. It will position Canada to compete in the 21st century. Some of the members on the other side do not even know that we have passed the 20th century. Some of their thinking on the environment is really quite appalling.
I want to point out that this clean development mechanism will be important in greening the economy. We believe that a competitive economy can be a green economy and can provide the necessary jobs, which is what the budget is all about and why the budget implementation bill is so important.
If people are really committed, actions speak louder than words. If they really support some of these key initiatives they will vote for this and make sure it goes through.
The climate change fund agency will also be an agent of the government, which means that it will carry out activities on behalf of the Government of Canada. It also will be accountable to Parliament. I point out that people have asked for a clear plan. We now have the economic instruments to do so. It is the greenest budget in Canadian history and it has provided us with tremendous opportunities.
I am pleased by this budget and the fact that the climate fund will be established through legislation. Aspects of this fund are going to be important to benefit investment, international emission reductions and give an opportunity for Canadians to see real and demonstrative change in the country.
Another aspect of the budget that I would encourage my hon. colleagues in the House to take note of is the greenhouse gas technology investment fund. It is an innovative funding arrangement that will recognize qualifying investment to research and development, as well as meeting mandatory greenhouse gas emission requirements which is very important.
The budget deals with the real issues of Canadians and one of the issues that continues to be at the top of people's consciousness is the environment.
The government will be very clear tomorrow in its plan in terms of its emission reductions, what it is doing and how it will be working with different sectors, both in the large final emitters sectors and others in the country. I think it is important that they will be able to contribute to the greenhouse gas technology investment fund in exchange for special emission credits. They will be investing and, in turn, that will provide jobs for people.
Having a green economy and no jobs would benefit no one. Having no green economy will not help future generations. We have made a balance and have demonstrated that. What we are doing, in terms of bringing everyone into the tent on this particular issue, has been well received by the minister over the last nine months.
The revenue that will be generated from these investments by large final emitters will be used to make strategic investments into new innovative technologies. Innovative technologies is important as opposed to simply relying on old ways.
One of the things that some members of the opposition have suggested, particularly in the official opposition, is that somehow this is a carbon tax. There is no carbon, climate or green tax. There is no tax at all. In fact, if we were to have a tax we would have to bring in new legislation. As the parliamentary secretary I want to point out to all hon. members in the House that they can put that rumour aside.
NRCan and Natural Resources will be the ones best placed to manage the greenhouse gas technology investment fund as part of ongoing operations. They have been dealing with the whole energy technology development file. This will give opportunities, in dealing with expertise gained over the years, to ensure these investments of the fund are allocated to projects that will yield the optimal emission reductions for large final emitters on a sector by sector basis.
This is a tremendous opportunity not only for the environment but in terms of the investments for Canadians, whether they be young people or seniors. The environment is the area which I think is particularly important in terms of moving the budget implementation bill forward.
The budget is not a smorgasbord where we come along and take something because we like it but not take something else because we do not like it. We are not here to carve up a roast. We are here to pass a budget so that Canadians will be able to prosper and we will be able to move forward in a number of these areas. We want our cities to be assured of the funding that so many mayors and councillors across Canada have supported, that environmental groups are assured of funding in terms of the environment and that assistance is provided to Canadians generally.
It is good to see that we have the bill before the House but we have a long road to go in terms of ensuring that it gets passed. I would caution my colleagues on the other side that having this budget implementation bill go through will in fact deliver not only on what we ran on in the last federal election but what Canadians have clearly said, other priorities in terms of the economy.
We have had eight balanced budgets or better, which is unheard of in Canadian history. I think that alone demonstrates the economic leadership of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance.