Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to join the debate on Bill C-43.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Vegreville--Wainwright.
We should start from the beginning of why most of us came to Ottawa. We came here because we were extremely concerned about the debt which was being built up in the country.
If we go back in history to 1969, there was no debt. By 1972, we had about $18 billion of debt. By 1984, we had about $180 billion of debt. By 1993, we were up over $400 billion. Today we are now $530 billion in debt. A lot of that is because of the way government is run, the way budgets are done and the way money is spent in this place. When we came here, the budget was about $140 billion. Now we are close to $200 billion. Obviously, the government is out of control.
However, what I really want to concentrate on are the environmental aspects of this budget and what they include.
First, regarding the record of the government, we are now 28th out of 29 OECD countries in 25 areas of evaluating the environment. We still have three cities dumping raw sewage into the ocean. We have over 300 boil water warnings. We have Toronto with a record 20 smog days, which is the highest it has ever had, and this is only June. We have brownfields in every municipality across the country. We have identified some 50,000 contaminated sites.
I do not think I need to go on. The environment commissioner probably sums it up best. In her sixth report she said that the government had a lot of talk. In every budget it talked a lot about the environment, but it has accomplished nothing. As a result, we are 28th out of 29. That is why we have the dismal record.
What about this budget? In this budget there are three main areas that are covered under the guise of climate change and the famous Kyoto accord that the government signed onto. Let me look at those three sections specifically because I do not have a lot of time. I would like to show members how the government plans its environmental agenda.
First, let us look at section 13 which is the climate fund. The government will put $10 million into a climate fund this year. Next year it will be $50 million. By 2008-09, it will be $300 million. By 2009-10, it will be $340 million. After five years, there will be $1 billion in this fund.
The government will then establish a bureaucracy and that bureaucracy will then buy credits. Ideally, it makes reference to domestic credits, but any expert in this area will tell us that we will end up having to buy foreign credits. We should really look at what that means.
We have a lot of bragging going on. The government will buy credits on only green projects. It will fix the Ukrainian pipeline so it will not leak and that will save so many problems. It will go to Zimbabwe and set up some environmental projects because it will be cheaper to buy credits from there.
In reality we are going to have the government off buying foreign credits with no real monitoring and with no ability to tell whether it is a green project or what is involved. We will be giving money to companies that will end up competing with our Canadian companies and our government will be funding that. We will build layers of bureaucracy and they will have to be good Liberals. We then have the basis for another sponsorship scandal, Shawinigate, whatever we want to call it, for which the Liberals are so famous.
There will be costs to our corporations and to taxpayers that others will not have. Our major competitors, the U.S. and China, will not have those costs. That will be a problem.
When buying hot air, it is fine to ask what good that will do but it is also fine to ask what it would do. Those are questions that quite often get asked so I will give a couple of examples.
Let us suppose we give tax credits to corporations that do a good job on an environmental innovative technology made in Canada. What would that mean?
Let us talk about clean coal technology. Do members know that in China 81% of its electricity is from coal; in India 79% comes from coal; in the U.S. 57% comes from coal; in Alberta 70% comes from coal; and, in Ontario 25% comes from coal?
If we became world leaders in clean coal technology and we gave tax credits for corporations that developed that technology and then we transferred that technology to the Indias, to the Chinas, to the U.S., I am sure members can imagine what that would do for the environment if we were to deal with the CO
problem. That would be a made in Canada solution. We would do it through credits as opposed to the method of shipping money off.
I have often said that instead of buying these foreign credits, we should just get the numbers for these Swiss bank accounts for these green projects and send it directly to the Swiss bank.
I could talk about CO
sequestering. Obviously it is being done. If we sequester CO
in a place like Fort McMurray, we would eliminate 60% of the CO
being released in Canada.
Now, if we gasify it and put it in the pipeline, put it down an oil well, we increase our recovery by 30%. They are doing it in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. They are doing it in Germany and they are doing it in eight states in the U.S. If we lead in that technology, think of what we could do for the environment when we transfer that CO
sequestration around the world. We would fix the environment and we would give tax credits to those companies that develop it. It is made in Canada and we become world leaders.
I think members get the point of the sorts of ideas that we would implement as opposed to this shipping money off to the Swiss bank accounts.
Let us look at section 14, the greenhouse gas technology investment fund. This basically is where large final heavy emitters can buy credits and put them into this tech fund and in exchange they would get emission credits. That all sounds really good and so our large final heavy emitters will buy those credits from the government.
Let us think about this. This would be administered through a 12 member board. We know what the credentials for the board will be: “What have you done for the Liberal Party lately? How many times have you run for the party? What ridings will receive this tech fund? What companies will get it?” We know it will not be places where some of us come from because obviously that would not help get any vote, so let us not try and hide this.
We are telling corporations that they can buy credits and contribute to the tech fund or we will fine them. We will set up a carbon tax and we will fine them.
What we tried to do and what our finance committee did was to move amendments to this section, and we were pretty successful in getting some of those amendments. What kind of amendments were we looking for? We wanted accountability and transparency. Is that not a unique concept? My goodness, they would now have to open up their books.
We wanted to get the $15 cap extended beyond 2012 because obviously long term planning is what companies need.
We wanted to get input from the environment committee. What a unique concept that would be, getting input from the people working in that area . We wanted the reports of the advisory board made public. We also wanted the LFEs to be able to transfer credits.
Finally, in the third section, using CEPA. What is CEPA? CEPA is the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. What is that all about? Well CEPA handles arsenic and those kinds of toxic substances. CO
is plant food, juice for photosynthesis. The government wanted to use the regulations under CEPA to put a carbon tax on companies releasing carbon. Mark my words, the government will bring that back.