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House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.

Topics

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the cancellation of very important environmental programs by the government certainly were not helpful. Of course, some of them were ones that for years the NDP called for. In fact, there was a budget from the previous government that did not do anything for public transit and the environment the way it should have and the NDP was able to force, in the context of the minority Parliament, an investment in public transit, which the previous government was then happy to announce here and there around the country. That is fine.

The point here is not be claiming credit. The point here is to actually see if we can as a Parliament, as four political parties here in the House, produce real results for the average citizen. Canadians are sick and tired of the hot air and the finger pointing. What they want to see are results.

I know that for all of us this is going to be something new. My party has been trying to accomplish that in both the last two Parliaments day in and day out and we intend to continue until we see some real results for Canadians. That is the NDP's goal.

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a clause in Bill C-30 about equivalency.

Would the Leader of the New Democratic Party be prepared to amend that equivalency clause to integrate a territorial approach that would enable provinces such as Quebec to implement their own greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan?

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1:05 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to consider all the amendments and all the proposals. We also encourage the territories and the provinces to develop their own approach. We hope to find a way to combine all our approaches so that Canada can be a good environmental citizen of the world.

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House on Bill C-30, the clean air act. It is a major step in meeting Canada's new government's commitment to introducing an environmental agenda that is national in scope, achievable and will provide the foundation for improving the health of Canadians and the environment of Canadians for generations to come.

It is through this act that we can address a problem that has a profound impact on the health of Canadians and, as Minister of Health, that obviously is a prime objective for me.

The health of Canadians is affected by the quality of the air that we breathe. The clean air act also provides Canada with a realistic and, we believe, an affordable plan to deal with greenhouse gas emissions simultaneously. Our government's objective is to minimize or eliminate the risks to the health of Canadians posed by environmental contaminants in the air. It goes without saying that clean air is important and imperative to the health of all Canadians.

I represent the constituency of Parry Sound—Muskoka. I also consider myself a so-called green Conservative. My constituents are concerned about clean air and clean water but they are also concerned about the water levels in our constituency that are directly affected by environmental change.

People want to see action. They have heard lots of talk in this chamber and elsewhere at the federal level and a lot of talk by the previous Liberal government but they have seen no action. As the hon. member said a few moments ago, what we have seen from the previous government and the previous environment ministers has been an increase of 35% or more above the Kyoto targets in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. This is a sorry state of affairs, which is only exceeded in the embarrassment by the fact that the United States of America under George Bush was able to do better than us here in Canada under the previous government. The Auditor General has said that the previous Liberal government should be ashamed of its record and she condemned it for it. I believe we can and we must do better.

As a starting point, Bill C-30 rightly draws attention to the fact that we must challenge the old ways of doing things, ways that have produced no tangible benefits, and voluntary approaches that have produced more hot air than true commitment and results. We must follow up with action to address air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions simultaneously and directly.

Unfortunately, as I said, we have been lulled into a false sense of security, which was created by the former Liberal government when it agreed to unrealistic targets that were impossible to achieve. The clean air act is the first step toward a true regulatory agenda that can and should be supported by all members of Parliament in order to protect the health and environment for future generations and a legacy that can be built upon to create better progress and, of course, be supported by a sound economy.

While I would like to focus today on a number of key areas that highlight the importance of the bill, I would also like to say that it has been designed to meet objectives which I believe are shared by most members of the House. The first of these objectives concerns the protection of the health of Canadians.

The clean air act recognizes the fundamental relationship between environment and health and identifies the health of Canadians as a key driver behind the regulation of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

As we all know, the quality of the air Canadians breathe is vital to their health. The air quality bill will lead to solutions that will improve the health of Canadians, and it recognizes the importance of protecting the health of vulnerable populations.

Air pollution can affect us all, no matter who we are, where we live, or how healthy we are. The World Health Organization recently estimated that air pollution caused two million premature deaths every year around the world.

Using data from eight Canadian cities, Health Canada scientists estimate that of all the deaths in these cities every year at least 5,900 deaths could be linked to air pollution. Research also shows that poor air quality sends thousands of Canadians to hospital each and every year.

There has been an increase over the past few decades of certain diseases affecting Canadians. It is a well-known fact that the prevalence of asthma among children has increased over the years. According to the 1996-97 national population health survey, over 2.2 million Canadians have been diagnosed with asthma. Asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease afflict over 3.7 million Canadians.

Breathing problems are not the only thing we should be concerned about. Air pollution also affects the heart. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 40% of all mortality in Canada.

These illnesses are exacerbated and, to some degree, are caused by air pollutants.

Most people think only in terms of outdoor pollution but I want to talk today about the air we breathe indoors, where we spend as much as 90% of our time.

One particular indoor air pollutant is radon, which occurs naturally in the ground in many areas of Canada, particularly northern Canada. This is an air pollutant for which this government is planning immediate action. Radon is the largest source of radioactive exposure to Canadians. New scientific evidence demonstrates an elevated risk of levels of radon found in many Canadian homes. Exposure to radon accounts for 1,900 lung cancer deaths every year in Canada and is second only to tobacco smoke as the primary cause of lung cancer.

The government is currently preparing to roll out a new indoor air quality guideline for radon as a basis for taking action to reduce expose and associated health impacts. The clean air act would provide important authorities which can be used to ensure that we have the tools to effectively manage and promote the actions required to reduce or eliminate this health risk.

Clearly, we have to take steps to reduce all the potential factors that increase the incidence of illness and death, especially in our children.

Canada's clean air act will give us the powers and the tools we need to deal with sources of indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Our proposed new clean air act, the centrepiece of the clean air regulatory agenda, would also amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and strengthen the Government of Canada's ability to take action to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases, as I said, simultaneously, and provide explicit authority to regulate air pollutants and greenhouse gases without requiring that they be designated as toxic substances.

In the past there has been opposition to designating greenhouse gases as toxic, which impeded constructive discussions about their management. Canada's new government would no longer have to wait for an air pollutant to receive an official toxic declaration.

I believe all governments must act effectively and in unison with their respective jurisdictions but clearly there is a need for national leadership. We must put politics aside and finally move forward on real concrete solutions so we can manage air quality and service Canadians today and in the future.

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1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his presentation.

He talked about the issue of greenhouse gas emissions in the air. In view of the situation the member and Minister of Health mentioned, I would like to know this.

Does he recognize, as I do, that we should stop importing hydrocarbons and products containing PCBs for incineration here in Canada?

For the sake of Canadians' quality of life, we must not take our neighbours' products, bring them here and burn them, producing emissions here in Canada.

The Minister of the Environment said earlier that we need to clean up our own backyard. I wonder whether that means we have to solve our own problem or take our neighbours' problems and bring them here to create even bigger problems for ourselves.

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1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, of course it is important to have regulations regarding importing and exporting. These are primarily provincial and territorial matters. Perhaps the federal government could also come up with some solutions.

I would also like to say that it is important to have leadership. Canada could be a world leader in the fight against pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. This bill places Canada at the forefront, as a global leader on this issue.

This bill is about leadership and about moving ahead, beyond our previous agenda, to get to the right solutions.

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1:15 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the ability of Canada to respond to air pollution and CO2 emissions, it is important that we set a clear direction early on for efforts in both these regards.

When we look at the idea of a clean coal plant and we say that we will invest great sums of money in reducing the emissions from the coal plant but that we will not take the next step right away to put in a system to sequester the CO2emissions, this leads the industry in the wrong direction. We need a strong response right now that speaks to both the issues of air pollution and CO2 emissions. We cannot have our industries not understanding right away that they have to respond to both.

I would like the minister to comment on that. These issues are not that easy to separate and should not be separated in the solutions that we are proposing.

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1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, I tend to agree with the hon. member. I hope we are not moving against what he is saying. My understanding of the bill and of our government's policy is that we are moving simultaneously to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution issues at the same time. It will take a number of important new techniques, such as carbon sequestration and other techniques, to deal with the emissions part of the solution.

However, if the hon. member is suggesting that we should move ahead on both fronts simultaneously, I am in absolute agreement with him. It is absolutely important to do both.

As I said to the hon. member earlier, that is the kind of leadership that Canada can show, that we do not necessarily have to do just one thing, that we can as a nation walk and chew gun at the same time, that we can deal with both issues simultaneously and therefore deliver better results for the quality of health of Canadians.

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1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Liberal Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the proposed clean air act, which is supposed to be the Conservative government's centrepiece in tackling the climate change challenge that our country and our globe face. I am glad to have the opportunity to comment on this issue because Canadians in my riding and around the country realize the urgency and the need to increase our focus in addressing this matter.

While some of my colleagues in the Conservative Party still want to debate the reality of global warming and its impact on our future and the future of the next generations, Canadians recognize the seriousness of global warming and its consequences on our lifestyle, living standards and the health of our planet. Canadians are telling us and the government that we cannot ignore this issue. We cannot just wish that it is not happening. The government has the responsibility to act responsibly and expeditiously in cooperation with countries around the world to manage this disturbing trend of increased greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

The bill, as it stands right now, is a disaster and is a miserable failure that has let Canadians down. It reflects a lack of seriousness on behalf of the Conservatives to acknowledge and act upon the real environmental concerns we all have.

The bill proposes unnecessary changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, just for the sake of creating a perception that action is being taken while real measures are absent. The existing act actually provides the government with the necessary authority to regulate pollutants and emissions. The new proposals add no substantive power that did not already exist. What is desperately needed is real movement and real caps.

These new proposals are consistent with the Conservatives' mode of governing: showcase gimmicks and underestimate the intelligence of Canadians that they will be unable to see through these transparent and cynical moves.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister and his Conservative colleagues are allowing ideology to trump science and common sense. Instead of proposing a real actionable plan to address the environmental challenges we are facing, they are undermining most efforts that were implemented over the last few years. Instead of demonstrating true leadership and offering tangible measures, they are risking the health of our planet and its inhabitants through delay tactics and phony slogans.

They abandoned Kyoto, a well respected international treaty that is the product of 160 countries coming together and working together to confront this global problem. Environmental trends and changes do not recognize political borders. They affect everyone who inhabits this planet. It took a lot of energy and commitment to negotiate such a historic treaty and bring countries, with various challenges and political ideologies, together to agree on a set of goals. It was disheartening that one of the first actions the government undertook in its first 100 days in office was to undermine Canada's commitment to Kyoto and its goals.

I do not want to give the impression that addressing the environmental challenges we are facing is simple or easy. We all know that any plan will require true leadership and tough decisions. That is what Canadians expect of their government. All the minority Conservative government is doing is blaming others, coming up with excuses and trying to distract Canadians from the real issue. If Canadians wanted a government that deflected all responsibilities, blamed others and offered no real vision, they would have been better off with the NDP.

When it comes to the environment, why is the government following a cut and run strategy? When will the Prime Minister accept his responsibilities in outlining and implementing a real and substantive plan for the protection of our environment and the future of Canadians? We want measures that would have an impact on the short, medium and long term, not proposals that start real caps on emissions by 2050. Canadians expect action immediately.

We need to be thoughtful in any additional measures we implement, but by delaying real caps until 2050, I am worried we are sending the wrong signal. If future governments follow the precedent of delaying targets, it is very likely that in 2050 we will realize that we are still facing the same challenges and are not ready to meet these goals.

The disheartening thing is that the Conservatives are not only refusing to take quick action, but are dismantling dozens of programs and initiatives that were created by the previous government, which offered incentives and opportunities for real measures.

EnerGuide, for example, was a program that helped more than 70,000 households to be retrofitted, to be energy efficient and to reduce energy consumption. What did the Conservatives do? They cancelled that program.

Six million Canadians have participated in reducing their energy consumption through the one tonne challenge program. What did the Conservatives do? They cancelled that program. Greenhouse gas intensity was reduced by 13% below 1990 standards and has showed a declining trend since the mid 1990s.

I am proud to stand here today, after my party has elected a leader who has shown a real commitment to the environment and the future health of Canada and Canadians. I am confident, under his leadership, that the Liberals will continue to promote what Canadians want to see from their government, real action and a real plan.

We have a lot of work ahead of us in examining the bill. It is clear that it needs much work and a lot of improvement, but we are committed to working beyond partisanship with whoever is serious about putting together effective legislation that would offer tangible measures to reduce pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in the short term and set goals for the near and long term future.

I pledge to the House, on behalf of myself and my colleagues in the Liberal Party, that we will be relentless in ensuring the government is held to account and responds to the needs of Canadians and the future of our planet. We cannot let Canadians down.

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, that was an amazing speech from my friend across the way. After yelling all weekend, he has lost voice, unless it is air pollution that is bothering it. I thank God we have a bill in front of us that will affect air pollution. I know there was a bit pollution in Montreal as I was there this weekend.

He mentioned at the end of his speech that his party would support the bill going to committee and would work beyond partisanship, but his whole speech was partisan up to that point. It is ironic that he would say at the end that we need to work as a group to make a difference in the environment. He also said he was proud.

First, is he proud of his government, which I grant he was not part of then but is now, when it was in power for 13 years and did absolutely nothing? Is he proud of the Liberals' Kyoto record, after signing on and doing absolutely squat for our country and the world.

Second, is he also proud that Canada is 35% above the Kyoto target. What did the Liberals do to make a difference, or did they plan to be 35% above the target?

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1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Liberal Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's sense of humour, but Canadians expect serious talk and debate when it comes to the environment.

I am very proud of the Liberal government's record, not only on the environment but on the economy, on social development, on social justice, on health care and the list goes on

The Kyoto targets were meant for 2012. Projections tell us that by 2010 we would have been at about 75% to 80% of meeting our targets. If the government really wants to build on our record, all the power to it but we want to see action. We do not want to see phoney slogans and laying blame on others. We want the government to take responsibility and do what Canadians want it to do.

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1:30 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I find the comments made by the hon. member across hopelessly inaccurate.

The member said that the government was delaying real caps until 2050. That is the long term range. The real caps, the short term caps, will be announced at the beginning of 2007. That is only a couple of months away.

I encourage the member to read the clean air act. He obviously has not read the bill. He does not know what he is talking about. He talked about the 2010 targets. The report, and he probably has not read that either, says it is 47% above. Right now it is 35% above Kyoto targets. The Liberals left a legacy of inaction and did absolutely nothing.

Why will he not support a clean air act that will provide action on greenhouse gas emission and pollutants?

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1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Liberal Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary contradicts himself. On the one hand, he says we have short term caps. In the same breath, he says that they will be announced two months from now.

My statement is still accurate. The government has no targets for the short term. They have not shown us their targets for the short term. They are only putting targets for 2050, which is disappointing.

If the member is so proud of the clean air act, why is he sending it to a committee before second reading? If he wants to continue to defend the bill, he can continue to demonstrate how transparent and weak the legislation is. However, the Prime Minister has abandoned his Minister of the Environment and his Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment by sending the bill to a committee before second reading, reflecting the fact that he has no confidence in the existing bill as it stands.

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1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Bloc Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this bill on air quality would amend three existing statutes, the first of which is the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Based on our observations, however, these are not new regulatory powers that the government plans to grant itself, because they already exist in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The bill would also amend the Energy Efficiency Act. We find it strange that this amendment is being introduced after the EnerGuide program was eliminated. The third part of the bill would amend the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act.

The Bloc Québécois currently supports sending this bill to committee before second reading. In our view, the amendments proposed by Bill C-30 are unnecessary. They would only slow down the process of taking concrete action against climate change. This is simply a delay.

The bill is also accompanied by a notice of intent, which lists the regulations the government intends to adopt over the next few years and the deadlines it has set for doing so. This document shows that the government is starting from scratch and beginning a new round of consultations in three phases leading to new standard that would not be mandatory until 2010.

Bill C-30 in its current form is unacceptable. It practically means the end of the Kyoto protocol objectives. The bill would incorporate into the Canadian Environmental Protection Act the statement that respecting Canada's international commitments on the environment is a matter of government discretion. We agree with referring the bill to committee before second reading because that will give us the latitude we need to consider the admissibility of amendments to this bill.

We will work in good faith in this committee, but the Bloc Québécois will make no compromises because respecting the Kyoto protocol targets is what is important. We will also present amendments to address the fairness of the polluter-pay rule, Canada's respect for its international commitments and, most of all, the urgent need for action to fight climate change. I want to remind hon. members that the Bloc's priority is still Bill C-288, which clearly respects the Kyoto protocol objectives and for which the legislative agenda is controlled by the opposition and not by our government.

Thanks to past investments by the administrators at Hydro-Québec in the area of hydroelectricity, Quebec has a non-polluting electricity production network. Quebec's plan mainly targets transportation and pollution reduction in certain industries.

As far as transportation is concerned, the bill would amend the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act to create the regulatory power to impose mandatory vehicle consumption standards on the industry by 2011, after the voluntary agreement expires. This does not seem soon enough.

The government has announced that Environment Canada and Health Canada also intend to hold detailed consultations with the provinces and industry starting in the fall. This consultation is late. It is planned in three major phases: the first will end in 2007, the second in 2008 and the third in 2010. Therefore, no regulation will come into effect before 2010.

What is important to the Bloc Québécois is that targets are established. These targets are in our report on the evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2004, production of greenhouse gases in Quebec was about 12 tonnes per person, or half the average rate of production of 24 tonnes per Canadian. As for the other provinces, per capita emissions totalled almost 69 tonnes in Saskatchewan and 73 tonnes in Alberta, or five to six times greater than in Quebec.

If we compare increases between 1990 and 2004, we note that Quebec emissions have risen by 6% since 1990, compared to 39.4% for Alberta and 61.7% for Saskatchewan.

As I was saying earlier, opting for hydroelectric energy certainly was a significant factor in Quebec's enviable performance. However, the collective choices made by its citizens, industries and the National Assembly also made it possible to achieve these results. The Quebec pulp and paper industry alone reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 18% between 1990 and 2005.

The excellent performance of the Quebec manufacturing sector also made a substantial contribution to Quebec's positive results. Between 1990 and 2003, this sector reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 6.8% and emissions arising from industrial processes by more than 15%. These reductions were made possible by significant strategic investments by Quebec companies in innovative technologies allowing them to improve their processes and their energy efficiency.

The Minister of the Environment refuses to acknowledge the efforts made by Quebec or the value of the Quebec plan. It was again obvious in Nairobi, where she failed to mention Quebec's green plan in her official speech to the international community.

Rather than revise its international obligations by calling the Kyoto protocol into question, the Conservative government must implement the climate change action plan. That was the Bloc Québécois' proposal, founded on the very important principles of equality and polluter pays. With respect to the polluter pays principle, studies have been done on Canada's emissions and it is generally accepted that responsibility for reducing emissions should be shared non-proportionally based on population or gross domestic product. It should be shared by the provinces and the territories. The Bloc Québécois is proposing a three-part approach to distribute the burden across Canada and give each province quotas to comply with.

The European Union succeeded in reaching an agreement on distributing greenhouse gas emissions among 15 European countries. The negotiations took two years to achieve concrete results. Each country has its own targets to reach.

In Canada, negotiations went on for almost five years and were suspended. We have not yet reached a compromise on distributing responsibility among the provinces and territories.

According to this three-part approach, Quebec's goal would be 0% relative to 1990 levels. The province could therefore simply address its 6% increase since 1990 to reach its goal: 1990 production levels.

Other provinces' goals are much higher because of their energy choices.

In conclusion, over the next few weeks, the Bloc Québécois will propose amendments to this bill.

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I am interested in the Bloc's territorial approach to climate change, because the need for climate change, the need for territories, countries and the world to adapt, is truly a global situation. It does not rest with the smaller units. It rests with the larger units. That is what Kyoto was all about: recognizing that we had a problem that was global in nature.

For the member across to say that the choices provinces made about their energy systems were choices is somewhat misleading, I think, because mostly in Canada we have set patterns of energy use that go back decades, long before Kyoto was an issue.

Does the hon. member across not agree that solutions to climate change are global in nature? Second, does he not agree that solving those issues is going to require inspired leadership in all parts of this country, not simply having provinces meeting minimum requirements but taking leadership where they have the ability to do so? As for Quebec, its position with hydroelectric power and the opportunities to provide that leadership, would he not see that as a better role for Quebec in this issue?

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1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Bloc Brossard—La Prairie, QC

I thank the NDP member very much for his question.

I did mention that the territorial breakdown must be equitable. The nation of Quebec invested a great deal in the past in hydroelectricity and went into debt, and it now has an appreciable investment in hydro power. It made an investment and is paying off that debt, with the result that Quebeckers may pay slightly more tax than in the other provinces. Equity is therefore important, and so is the polluter-pays principle.

I mentioned earlier that a polluter that emits 69 tonnes per person has to invest more to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions than a polluter that produces only 12 tonnes. This is only reasonable: the polluter will pay, especially since the polluter got rich in its province, instead of merely paying off its debt, as I said earlier, like Hydro-Québec, which has to amortize its payments over 20 or 50 years.

It is therefore important to say that polluters today have to keep in mind that they also have to pay out of their own pockets for the damage they cause.

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1:45 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak in this debate as we move this bill forward. It is a bill that is deeply flawed and has been discredited across the environmental sector and in other parts of our communities, because as members in the House join the daily gathering of question period, it speaks to the partisan nature that for far too long has overridden all good and sensible conduct when it comes to our environment.

As Canadians tune in to watch what has become the daily spectacle of question period and the partisan approach that seems necessary to attract attention to any given issue of the day, they despair. They despair because partisan politics have overridden the commonsensical approach, particularly to things like climate change.

There is a necessity to look at the context and the history of what has happened in the debate and in the actions of the Canadian government over the last 15 to 20 years as this issue has grown in importance and context throughout the world. As country after country has taken on this issue with seriousness and determination, why has Canada continued to fall further and further to the back of the field?

We saw a number of plans under the previous regimes. The Liberals came up with the so-called action plan 2000 that was anything but action. There was a climate change plan for Canada in 2002 that was nothing of the sort, with no plan and still no action. Finally, in 2005 there was project green, which the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development herself said was not enough to get us there.

On this issue, I believe that Canadians have been out in front of the politicians consistently, year in and year out, demanding more from us, demanding a sense of leadership rather than partisan debate and the small inaccurate steps taken by regime after regime, previously by the Liberals and now by the Conservatives, when it comes to what is now being represented as the most pressing issue, certainly environmentally, and perhaps it is the most pressing issue of all.

When the NDP and the other opposition parties first looked at the bill the Conservatives proposed, they found it wanting. It lacks principles and is thus impossible to support in principle. For those who are watching and just coming to this debate, I will note that when a bill gets passed through this House on second reading, it means that the House has agreed to the bill in its principles, in its very nature, and then wishes to tweak and alter some of those parts of the bill which can be altered.

However, the process that we New Democrats proposed and which the other parties agreed to was, without any such agreement, to take this bill and to have the opportunity to change its very DNA, to change the very structure of what is being proposed for Canada's environment and Canada's economy.

As has been said, Kyoto is more an economic pact than an environmental one. It asks the world to consider and bring about changes to the way we earn money, to the way we drive our economies, particularly when it comes to the energy sector, and to look at new ways that are necessary for the very survival of our planet, for continuing a prosperous planet and, in this country, a prosperous national economy.

Canadians have been demanding and expecting leadership on this issue, but in budget after budget and government after government they have seen otherwise. They have seen short term, nearsighted thinking. It is time that Canadians got what they truly deserve, which is leadership when it comes to the environment and leadership when it comes to restructuring our economy and our energy sectors to a place where we can all be proud.

Recently I was at the Nairobi summit, the United Nations meeting on climate change. Canada consistently won the fossil award, the award given to the country doing the least to promote global efforts on climate change. We won more fossil awards than all the other countries put together.

We were consistent in one thing: holding back the talks and holding back progress across our planet. China, India, Australia, France and Britain were all coming forward with solid and credible plans and there we were, the Canadians, once proud of our environmental record, with our delegates scurrying around the halls in Nairobi in shame because we could not bring forward a viable plan. What was suggested in the so-called clean air act was not enough. It was a delayed plan. It was long term. It left too much power in the hands of a few politicians rather than in the will of this Parliament.

One of the many suggestions that New Democrats brought forward was to return the power to the people who are actually elected to represent the will and the intentions of Canadians, because we know that this will and those intentions are to do something serious about climate change, change that we are experiencing already.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, essentially the auditor, is meant to look over Canada's plans and actions for a whole series of environmental initiatives. She looked at what the previous Liberal regime had proposed. Six billion dollars had been announced for this. The important word in this sentence is “announced”, because a little over $1 billion of that $6 billion in the announcement was actually spent and much of that not very effectively at all.

It is important to note that the commissioner is a non-partisan functionary of this Parliament who reports to us. She said of the Liberal record since 1997 that the government:

--does not yet have an effective government-wide system to track expenditures, performance, and results on its climate change programs. As a result, the government does not have the necessary tools for effective management....

At its base, if we do not have the capacity to track, to monitor, to understand what is effective and what is not, how can we possibly make the proposed changes that we claim or hope to make? It simply cannot be done if we do not have the ability to monitor, to track, or to understand what is being done. The elected officials in this place, elected from across the country, do not have the ability to properly or accurately understand the situation until the dust has settled and the confetti has dropped out of the sky.

We know for a fact that the actual numbers that matter most on this issue are in regard to the increase in greenhouse gases in our environment. They went up by 27%, but we know that the goal, the stated claim and the signature that we put down on the Kyoto protocol indicated that Canada had the intention of dropping emissions by 6%. Lo and behold, as the numbers have come in and as the tests prove, we failed as Canadians when the Liberal government, year in and year out, failed to deliver. We needed more and Canadians demanded more. They expected leadership. They want leadership.

Let us look at what is proposed in the Conservative bill. The Conservatives propose a number of measures that have some potential, but they are all delayed measures. They are all put off, and without the ability of parliamentarians, the people elected from all corners of the country, to affect what is happening. Instead, it is left to orders in cabinet, intentions and notices of intent that do not bring the required seriousness to this issue. That seriousness means that this place must be able to mandate, regulate and hit the targets that Canadians expect us and need us to hit.

My friend from the Western Arctic and I, from northwestern British Columbia, with British Columbians across the entire province, are seeing the effects of climate change now. Canada's forestry council has directly cited climate change as one of the leading factors in the pine beetle infestation that has absolutely devastated our forests and has now hopped over the Rockies and is headed into the boreal, into Alberta, and across to Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

For those who are watching and for those members of Parliament who have not yet seen what devastation truly looks like, let me say to them to hold on, because that pine beetle can absolutely punish the forest and the economies that depend upon those forests. Direct action is needed.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development implored the government to take serious action on the environment. She said that “it must take immediate and long-lasting action on many fronts”.

She said “immediate”, but lo and behold, when the bill came out, all action was delayed. The action is delayed until 2015, 2025 and even 2050 for heaven's sake. That is not action. That is just an excuse for delay. The Conservative government is essentially asking Canadians to trust its ethics on the environment and unfortunately that did not pass the smell test.

What we need to do is remove the partisan nature of this debate. We need to finally step beyond that into a place where the issue of the environment, the issue of fighting global climate change, can occupy a place in the Canadian debate that goes beyond partisanship and allows members of Parliament to bring forward their best ideas.

By accepting this bill prior to second reading, by accepting it with the option of changing its fundamentals, of making it stronger, of bringing in the best ideas from across the economy and from across the country, we have allowed an opportunity to exist in this place, an opportunity that previously did not exist. I am proud of our actions. I am determined, as are my colleagues, and colleagues in the other caucuses as well, to make the most effective bill--

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Yukon.

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member, who comes from my area, for outlining how devastating greenhouse gases are in the north. They are changing species, changing the permafrost and destroying infrastructure.

I would like him to comment on whether he thinks this was helped at all by the government's cutting of the programs that were cutting greenhouse gases, such as the EnerGuide for the 70,000 houses, the one tonne challenge, and the mandatory emissions standards for large final emitters that were to be effective in 2008. Does the member think those programs helped the situation?

I would like to welcome our incoming leader, who is lauded by the environmental community for having the greatest environmental green plan in history, with a $1 billion green fund, emissions cutting programs for energy emissions, $2 billion in partnerships with thousands of people working on projects for a time, including wind energy, renewable power projects for hydro, and biomass. In all these areas, tens of thousands of greenhouse gases were cut, but because the economy was so good the total went up. We did not have the time to get to our targets, but we were reaching them.

I would like to ask the member my original question. Does he think the cutting of those programs was effective?

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, right at the very end of that wandering question was the point that I remember the new leader of the Liberal Party making when he was standing in front of the environment committee. It was the very same claim that my hon. colleague just made, which is that since the economy improved of course our emissions had to go up. They said that was the reason for them going up, not the fact that $6 billion was announced and only $1 billion was spent.

This fundamental belief is the belief that party finally has to change: that the economy increasing somehow means that pollution must increase as well. Canadians know better. They realize that there are opportunities to grow our economy and actually reduce our pollution. That type of ideology has to fundamentally change. If it does not, we are all in deep trouble.

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It is with regret that I interrupt the member. When we return to the debate on this item, there will be three minutes left in the questions and comments period.

HIV-AIDSStatements By Members

December 4th, 2006 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, in honour of World AIDS Day on December 1, I am proud to highlight the work and leadership of an extraordinary nurse in my riding of Cambridge who is making a difference in the fight against HIV-AIDS.

After learning of the many African nurses treating HIV-AIDS patients who were becoming infected themselves, registered nurse Nancy DiPietro launched the Give an Hour campaign. She calls on the quarter of a million nurses across Canada to pledge the equivalent of one hour of pay each year to help ease the suffering of their African counterparts infected with HIV-AIDS. I am happy to say that she is receiving tremendous support.

In her own words:

Nursing is caring. Knowing that when someone is going through one of the most difficult times of their lives, you are helping to make it more manageable...that is the reward of nursing.

We thank, Nancy. She is an inspiration to the citizens of Cambridge and all of Canada.

Action Committee Against Domestic and International Trafficking in Human BeingsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to commend the extraordinary work of the Comité d'action contre le trafic humain interne et international, or CATHII. This group was formed in 2001 in response to a call to action from the International Union of Superiors General, urging the nuns of the world to do everything in their power to eliminate human trafficking.

Since its inception, CATHII has been tremendously busy generating public awareness and support for the victims of human trafficking. Its latest project has been to spearhead the drive to collect signatures for a petition calling on the government not only to track down the perpetrators of human trafficking, but also to offer assistance to the victims of this dreadful trade.

There are over 10,000 names on this petition, and I will be very pleased to present it to the House later this afternoon.

2006 Canadian Consulting Engineer AwardsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, CIMA+ of Rivière-du-Loup received the 2006 Canadian consulting engineer award for excellence in the transportation infrastructure category. This is the most prestigious award conferred to a consulting engineering company.

CIMA+ received this recognition for the maritime infrastructure project completed for Makivik Corporation in Puvirnituq, Nunavik. This project was very complex because of its geographic location. CIMA+ had to use a great deal of imagination to come up with solutions for the numerous technical and logistical challenges associated with construction in an arctic setting.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I would like to express our most sincere congratulations to Réjean Massé, the regional director for CIMA+ in Rivière-du-Loup, and to his entire team, who firmly believe in the development of our regional, national and international businesses.

Congratulations CIMA+.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Sunday, December 10 is International Human Rights Day. This year the UN has adopted the theme of “Fighting Poverty: a matter of obligation, not charity”, something the government would do well to respect.

In fact, under the Conservative regime, Canadians' rights are under serious attack.

We have seen deep cuts to the Status of Women offices, including Hamilton's, which offered research and advocacy to develop women's social, political and economic equality. It was cut, even though an estimated 2.8 million Canadian women still live in poverty.

We have seen cuts to literacy programs, despite a well documented relationship between poverty and illiteracy.

We have seen a determined attempt to segregate some loving couples from others, picking and choosing who gets to be called a family.

We have seen increased deportations of immigrant parents and children attempting to escape war and famine.

Let us stop the Conservative attack on Canadians' rights and begin work on attacking poverty instead.