Mr. Speaker, while weighing our Conservative priorities and policies, my thoughts actually went to two important principles.
In this case, these two important principles are in conflict. The first principle is of course the division of powers and the respecting of provinces. The second is the national and international effects of Kyoto and how best in this case to deal with that issue.
In all issues of conflict a balance needs to be struck. On this particular issue I think there needs to be a real balance struck between the competing interests and what is ultimately going to benefit all Canadians.
While the Conservative Party does of course support the division of powers as set out in the Constitution, we must also recognize the larger picture of the planet and of course the international treaty, which in this case is Kyoto.
In respecting provinces and provincial jurisdiction, the Conservative Party understands that the provinces want that control of what they should have: the powers that they were originally given in the division of powers under the BNA Act. Of course, they have been infringed over the last 50 years, primarily by the Liberal government taking over many of the jurisdictional powers of the provinces.
We further encourage provinces and provincial governments to take the initiative in issues that cross provincial and federal jurisdiction, such as this particular issue. For example, Alberta is proceeding with its own climate change plan and other provinces are working with provincial and federal departments to make changes to implement Kyoto strategies most effectively for the particular province.
However, the waste demonstrated by the Liberals today when it comes to the administration of their Kyoto file has members of the Conservative Party extremely concerned.
In weighing the two competing interests in this case, we have come to the conclusion that implementation of Kyoto in just one province or in one province at a time would be undesirable, as it would lead to inconsistencies and instabilities in the Kyoto protocol itself and would jeopardize our international commitments, which are so important to the world at large and of course to most Canadians.
Therefore, the Conservative Party cannot support this motion.
We believe that the Kyoto targets are unrealistic and unattainable at this stage, only because there has been total inaction by the Liberal government over the past 12 years. As Sierra Club director John Bennett has said, the only reason Canada will have to spend $5 billion over the next five years purchasing hot air overseas is because of no action since 1992.
As such, the Conservative Party cannot support a motion that would lead to Kyoto implementation in one province while ignoring the rest of Canada's concerns. We prefer a made in Canada solution. We prefer a North American solution.
Because this motion deals with two very important issues, respect of provincial powers and Kyoto, I would like to talk a little about each issue.
The Conservative Party believes in federalism. There is no doubt that we believe in the federal system. As government, the Conservative Party would restore the proper and legal constitutional balance between the federal and the provincial and territorial governments.
The Conservative Party is committed to the federal principle and to the notion of strong provinces within Canada, which will make for a stronger united Canada. A Conservative government would work cooperatively with the provinces to improve the lives of Canadians while still respecting the balance of powers.
A Conservative government would ensure that the use of federal spending power in provincial jurisdictions is limited to what provinces actually want. Provinces would be able to use the opting out formula with full compensation if they want to opt out of any new or modified federal program in areas of shared or exclusive jurisdiction.
With regard to the Kyoto accord itself, the Conservative Party has solid policies in that area, such as the following: long term energy framework policies, an environmental principle policy, clean air principles, and of course respect of international treaties.
There is no question in this case that Canada has some unique natural economic advantages. We have an abundance of fossil fuels, an abundance of hydro power generation, some of the world's best wind regimes for wind power, and other renewable and non-renewable sources.
The Conservative Party, if government, would develop a renewable and non-renewable energy framework that takes into account our unique differences in Canada and our outstanding obligations, which would meet our long term requirements for domestic consumption and export, not just the short term requirements but the long term requirements.
In essence, we need to keep our economy hot but, at the same time, clean up the 30,000 contaminated sites across Canada that are making Canadians sick every single day. We need to eliminate smog and at the same time protect the world through reducing climate change.
The Conservative Party believes that strengthening the energy market integration will ensure greater reliability of energy supplies across Canada and, most important, will secure our economic and environment future, another balance that we have to strike.
A Conservative government would explore ways to reduce barriers, which I believe in this case the motion speaks to, in particular to the movement of energy products across provincial and other borders.
A Conservative government would initiate a review of all environment and energy initiatives, including the Kyoto protocol and our targets. We would also adopt a new environmental strategy at the international level to actually get results, not just to spread more hot air.
Talk is cheap; results take planning, effort, strategy and innovation. The Conservative Party, through our members, has those initiatives.
We would reduce CO
by reducing government talk and rhetoric and concentrate on getting results. We would legislate caps on smog causing pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic components.
We learned recently that in Ontario alone 5,000 people will die from smog related diseases just this year. It is incredible.
As a Conservative government we would negotiate power plant and smoke stack emission limits with the United States and the northern border states, which we see as a very important step in this process. Of course, most obviously, we would begin by building a good relationship with our friends in the United States, instead of using name calling or sarcasm.
Lastly, before entering into any new major international treaties or undertakings, a Conservative government would ensure that Parliament and this House is fully informed, and that we have full debate and discussion of those issues before binding action is taken. We would not do any backroom deals. We would deal with the people who represent the people.
This speaks to the motion itself and, more important, it shows respect. The provinces would be fully consulted and respected if such treaties were to have a direct effect on the authority and finances of the provinces themselves in their areas of responsibility, which of course this does, and it would be respectful to do so.
The Conservative Party, however, in this case, opposes Motion No. 162, not because we do not respect provincial jurisdiction, but because this is an issue of national and international critical importance that has lagged far behind in the last 12 years because of inaction by the Liberal government. There is no question that Kyoto targets are just simply unreasonable and unobtainable at this stage because nothing has been done.
Again, this is not an issue confined to Quebec, to Alberta, to the Northwest Territories or to Newfoundland and Labrador. This is an issue of national and international importance and it needs a national solution taking into account national economic and geographic considerations which are tied to all provinces and territories, not just one, because we are a unique country with unique needs across the country.