That, in the opinion of the House, the government should cede to the Government of Quebec, with full financial compensation, complete responsibility for implementing the Kyoto protocol within its jurisdiction.
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is concerned about the ineffective approach taken by the government. On many issues, particularly with respect to the environment and the Kyoto related measures, the situation is catastrophic. Project Green, introduced on April 13, lacks credibility and will not allow Canada to honour its commitments for the first reference period, from 2008 to 2012. There is no question that this is an urgent situation. A real policy is needed to quickly and fairly achieve the Kyoto objectives, and Quebec is in a better position to determine which measures are the most appropriate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within its jurisdiction. The government must understand that it has to move quickly on this issue.
The federal government plan's lack of efficiency and credibility reinforces our position. This is why I am putting Motion M-162 before the House. We are calling for a territorial approach and for a special agreement with Quebec. We are demanding full financial compensation and complete responsibility for implementing the Kyoto protocol within Quebec's jurisdiction.
The federal government recently released its new 2005 climate change plan, which will be under the responsibility of the environment department. However, the measures announced will not be in place for several years, and almost everything has yet to be finalized, even though the protocol has been in force for over two months. We have to ask ourselves what the government was doing in the past few years.
I could go on and on. The plan does not require a sufficient effort on the part of polluting industries, which are responsible for half of the emissions; this unfairly shifts the financial burden of emissions reduction onto the taxpayers, and the measures announced will take years to be implemented.
The situation is urgent, and the major implementation measures will take a long time to produce the expected positive effects, too long for Canada to honour its commitments for the 2008-2012 reference period.
It is inconceivable that, after so many years, we are still at the stage of broad principles and consultations. The government has announced that the targets for large emitters and the terms of the permit trading system will be set by regulation under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act following consultation with the provinces, territories and industry stakeholders this spring. The same is true of the climate fund mandate and the rules of the offset credit system . In fact most of the plan has yet to be completed.
The government is using this plan to create a permit trading system and set targets for large emitters by means of regulations not subject to parliamentary or public scrutiny. This is unacceptable and perpetuates the very democratic deficit the government once promised to attack.
The Liberal Party made a promise in its 1993 red book to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by 20% as of 2005. This is 2005. After 12 years, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada have increased by 20%. The OECD recently revealed that Canada is the western country with the greatest increase in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. Despite this fact, the federal government persists in its inappropriate strategy, subsidizing the oil and gas industry, failing to demand sufficient effort by polluting industries responsible for half of the emissions, and unfairly transferring the financial burden for reductions onto the shoulders of the taxpayers.
The government's latest plan is a miserable failure and will not allow us to meet our Kyoto commitments. For these reasons, the federal government must cede to Quebec and to the provinces wishing it responsibility for managing the implementation of the Kyoto protocol. The federal government cannot manage the protocol on its own, and it is time for solutions.
The one tonne challenge is a perfect example of how important it is for Quebec to assume complete responsibility within its jurisdiction. The program is inappropriate for Quebec, where most people have been using hydroelectricity—a clean source of energy—for many years to heat and light their homes. The federal government must allow Quebec to opt out of this program with full financial compensation if it so decides.
Even the Quebec government is speaking out about this. According to Quebec, the federal government's Kyoto implementation plan is unacceptable. The Quebec minister of sustainable development, environment and parks, Thomas Mulcair, has condemned the fact that the plan does not include any compensation for Quebec, which produces the least amount of greenhouse gas per capita of any province. He has said that efforts to meet Canadian greenhouse gas reduction targets are not fair to Quebec. He has accused Ottawa of introducing a plan that strongly favours western Canada.
According to Mr. Mulcair, his federal counterpart has already hinted at the possibility of a bilateral agreement, which the Quebec minister intends to demand. He has said that Quebec will not give up and calls upon his federal counterpart to sit down with him and negotiate in all seriousness.
We are offering to do the environment minister's homework by proposing a three-point solution in Motion M-162: a territorial and bilateral agreement that respects the jurisdiction of each party.
Currently, Canada's 2005 plan to honour its Kyoto commitment undermines Quebec's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and seriously hinders its development by making Quebec pay for the others.
It is important to remember the specific and historical choices Quebec made with regard to energy development. Quebec produces the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions per capita in Canada; in the past, it invested heavily to reduce emissions within Quebec without Canada's assistance and, as long as this territorial approach is not applied, it has to bear the cost of reductions for western provinces such as Alberta.
Under the federal government's current strategy, Quebec will have to contribute approximately $1 billion toward the cost of implementing the Kyoto protocol. Using the territorial approach the Bloc Québécois is demanding, Quebec's contribution would be less than $400 million.
We therefore call for all efforts to reduce polluting emissions to be assigned according to territory, with the reference year being 1990, as required by the signing of the Kyoto protocol. Quebec would then be required to make a fair effort at reduction that would recognize its past pro-ecology choices while including it in the joint effort.
Since the fall of 2002, the Government of Quebec has been calling upon the federal government to enter into a bilateral agreement on application of the Kyoto protocol in Quebec. On October 24, 2002, members of the National Assembly adopted a consensus position calling upon the government to start negotiating a bilateral agreement on the funding and implementation of the greenhouse gas reduction strategy. At that time, the National Assembly called for the allocation formula to take into account the reductions achieved since 1990. Discussions have been held between representatives of both governments on the administrative level, but the necessary political support was lacking at the federal level.
In February 2003, Quebec environment minister, André Boisclair, again called upon the federal government, this time demanding that it mandate an official negotiator to initiate the negotiations.
In November 2004, we learned from media reports that Thomas Mulcair, Quebec's minister of sustainable development, environment and parks, had received a letter from his federal counterpart in which he made a commitment to step up the pace of negotiations, with a view to concluding a bilateral agreement on application of the Kyoto protocol in Quebec. We will not dwell on the comments made by the Minister of the Environment when he was asked about the progress of these negotiations, except to say that he noted that “negotiations with Quebec are progressing very well”. Yet we are still waiting.
On April 20, 2005, the Parti Québécois presented a motion calling for the signature of a bilateral agreement between Quebec and Ottawa that would allow Quebec full jurisdiction over the administration of the Kyoto protocol within its territory. That motion, which was passed unanimously by the National Assembly, read as follows:
That the Quebec National Assembly restates its desire to respect the Kyoto agreement and objects to the federal Green Plan which does not reflect the economic, energy or historic characteristics specific to Quebec, and calls for a bilateral agreement which does recognize these specific characteristics.
Even Quebec Liberals are in favour of the principle of this motion. It is time for Ottawa to keep its promises and reach a real agreement with Quebec that goes beyond the agreements in principle signed with Ontario, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Nunavut. Those agreements are nothing more than an aggregate of good intentions to cooperate, explore ideas, and improve awareness and recognition of the importance of fighting climate change; they do not offer anything concrete.
There are a few items the government should address and soon. The purpose of the motion is not to say that Quebec will take care of things and the federal government has nothing more to do. On the contrary, we must all contribute. Some of the most important measures can only be carried out by Ottawa and it is essential that the government take action.
The federal government must respect the territorial approach and give top priority to making public transit passes tax deductible, setting up a regulatory framework with heavy fines for non-compliance, eliminating tax incentives to oil and gas producers, and offering tax deductions for purchasing environmental vehicles.
In short, what we are asking the government to do is to put its words into action. Everyone knows this is urgent. It is time for the Minister of the Environment to stop making speeches and to start taking action.
The motion I am introducing in the House will help the country to take action, finally. Quebec would immediately have the tools it needs to respect the spirit and the letter of a protocol in which it strongly believes.
For now, it is Canadian inertia that is preventing us from taking action. It is the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment to act for the environment and we are offering him a solution to end his inaction.
It is his duty to be in favour of the motion, as it is the duty of every member sitting in this House.