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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

Business of the HousePrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HousePrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the HousePrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HousePrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

(Motion agreed to)

(Bill C-30. On the Order: Government Orders)

October 19, 2006—The Minister of the Environment—Second reading and reference to a legislative committee of Bill C-30, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (Canada's Clean Air Act).

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeMinister of the Environment

moved:

That Bill C-30, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (Canada's Clean Air Act), be referred forthwith to a legislative committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise today in my capacity as Canada's Minister of the Environment to speak to Bill C-30, Canada's clean air act, which marks a bold new era of environmental protection as this country's first comprehensive and integrated legislation to reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases.

I welcome all who are present today to discuss Canada's clean air act, understanding that our commitment to a better future for all Canadians is unwavering.

The environment is a sacred trust, bestowed on us by our ancestors to embrace and preserve for our country's future. Canada's new government intends to uphold this responsibility, which is why it is important that consideration of Bill C-30, Canada's clean air act, begin as soon as possible.

The environment is a concern to all of us. Greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants transcend borders and affect the health, environment and well-being of all Canadians.

Since taking office, our government has undertaken a number of important environmental initiatives. These include: action to reduce the release of mercury into our surroundings; reductions to the release of toxic substances from base metal smelters; new tax incentives for the banking of environmentally sensitive lands; funding for the development of renewable fuels; and the introduction of new infrastructure funding dedicated to public transit, as well as tax credits for the people who use public transportation.

The opposition has criticized Canada's clean air act, but have yet to identify one single clause in the act with which they disagree. Instead, the opposition has introduced two private members' bills that ignore the issue of targeting air pollution.

Not surprisingly, after decades of neglecting air pollution, the state of the environment this government has inherited from the newly elected Leader of the Opposition jeopardizes the health of every Canadian, but especially the most vulnerable in our society, our children and seniors, who suffer disproportionately from smog, poor air quality and environmental hazards.

Our government shares the concerns of Canadians about the environment and the quality of the air that we breathe.

Addressing only greenhouse gases is not enough. We must also address air pollution. Poor air quality is not a minor irritant to be endured, but a serious health issue that poses an increasing risk to the well-being of Canadians.

Again, Canada's clean air act is the first legislation to address both air pollution and greenhouse gases in an integrated fashion. Greenhouse gas emissions degrade Canada's natural landscape and pose an imminent threat to our economic prosperity.

Canada's clean air act represents real, concrete action to achieve results through mandatory, strict regulations.

We are sharply focusing our efforts on addressing the greatest threats to the health and well-being of Canadians. We need tough pollution regulations that measurably reduce asthma, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer by improving both indoor and outdoor air quality. This is why our government will take unprecedented action to regulate indoor air pollution, the second highest cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

Canada's clean air act is the first legislation to recognize that most sources of air pollutants are also sources of greenhouse gases and they must be addressed together. Canada's clean air act proposes a comprehensive set of amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, to the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Consumption Standards Act.

Canada's clean air act contains crucial new provisions that will expand the powers of the federal government to address the existing inefficient voluntary standards and move to strict enforceable regulations.

By strengthening and bringing more accountability to our existing laws, Canada's clean air act requires the Ministers of the Environment and Health to: establish, monitor and report on new national air quality objectives tied to the health of Canadians; report to Parliament on the effectiveness and the progress of our programs; and move from voluntary to mandatory, enforceable regulations.

Canada's clean air act is needed to ensure that renewable fuel requirements can be implemented in an efficient and effective manner to provide cleaner fuels for our cars. A biofuels industry will lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and unprecedented economic opportunities for Canada's agricultural industry.

The government is also consulting on options surrounding an emissions trading regime.

That is why the government, through Canada's clean air act, is consulting on options that allow trading and that align our compliance regimes to support the implementation of a trading system that results in the lowest cost opportunities for emissions reductions for industry.

We have been clear that any trading system must be market driven, not subsidized by taxpayer dollars. Unlike previous governments, our government will not purchase credits or create an artificial trading market subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

The second key difference in our approach on clean air lies in our focus on mandatory, strict regulations. Past governments relied on voluntary measures, satisfied that industry could set its own standards.

The environment commissioner confirmed that this is not acceptable or workable and condemned the former environment minister, the newly elected Leader of the Opposition, by stating that the measures were “not up to the task of meeting the Kyoto obligations”. She went on to say that the Leader of the Opposition's efforts were inadequate, lacked accountability, and would have never reduced greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 targets.

Canadians will be glad to know that those days are over. From now on, all industry sectors, including the auto sector, will have mandatory requirements, and we will enforce those requirements. Our plan puts the health of Canadians and the health of our environment first.

Any polluters that go over their air pollution targets will be fined and all money will go toward an environmental damages fund.

We also have an ambitious long term target aimed at absolute reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, up to 65% by 2050, as recommended by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

The previous government signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol without an implementation plan to achieve results. That inaction and those empty promises have left Canadians with a 35% increase in greenhouse gas emissions above the targets set by the Liberals.

We must move beyond the arbitrary and unattainable targets set by the Liberals and work together at setting achievable targets. We must lead the world by example and show them that through government cooperation with industry we can make vast improvements for the health of Canadians and the health of the planet while still maintaining one of the most robust economies in the world.

By spring 2007, the government will announce short term targets for air pollution and greenhouse gases, and industry will have to meet these regulations within four years.

Our approach also encourages technological change. Technology plays an essential role in reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and provides us with huge economic opportunities.

We will also introduce mechanisms to encourage and facilitate investment in new technology, but we will not use a carbon tax, because the only people who end up paying are Canadian taxpayers and we think that they have paid enough through their health. Under a Conservative government, it will only be the polluter that will pay.

Any industry that goes over its greenhouse gas limits will have the option of paying into a Canadian technology fund to comply with the regulation. The money paid into the fund will be reinvested in technology to reduce greenhouse gases.

The third key difference in our approach on clean air is that we are taking action right here in Canada. Canadians will be able to hold our government and industry accountable for achieving results.

We will be accountable to Canadians by reporting on our progress in a public annual air quality report and we will be held accountable through measurable outcomes linked to the health of Canadians. We will also be accountable to Parliament by mandatory annual reporting to Parliament on our actions and their effectiveness to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases.

Rest assured that Canada will continue to be a constructive player in global efforts to address climate change, but we need to clean up our own backyard and set an example for the rest of the world. We will set an example by leading here at home and we do not plan to do this by purchasing international climate change credits to meet unachievable targets as a substitute for a concrete regulatory agenda to reduce Canada's own emissions.

This government has charted a fundamentally new course on the environment. Canada's clean air act and Canada's clean air regulatory agenda will set strict, enforceable regulations that will result in concrete, realistic action to protect the health of Canadians and the environment for generations to come.

Canada's Clean Air ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the minister, but I must say that she raised more questions than she gave answers.

Amongst the questions, one of the challenges with this particular bill is of course its deliberate confusion between issues concerning air pollution and issues concerning greenhouse gases. The minister used the phrase that “the greatest threat to the health of Canadians is asthma”.

I submit that the greatest threat to the health of Canadians is in fact the destruction of the planet by global warming, so my first question to the minister is this: which is the greater threat to the future of humanity, pollution or greenhouse gases global warming?

Second, why is there no reference to Kyoto in either the bill or the notice of intent to regulate? Why is that?

Third, the minister has returned from Nairobi but insists that we will not purchase international credits or be involved in any kind of international mechanisms, and yet she was present for discussions on such things as the international emissions trading system and the clean development mechanism as well. Why is there no recognition of the process she was involved in?

Fourth, why is it that we have to deal with where the short term targets for greenhouse gas emissions are? By that I mean, what does she hope to have achieved by 2012?

Fifth, if she will not have a carbon tax, will she at least accept a cap and trade system which will create that domestic and international market that will allow polluters of all sorts to improve?

Finally, is it accurate for the minister to say that there were no regulated measures when the large final emitters were going to be forced by regulation to reduce by 2008?

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12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, all of the hon. member's questions raise exactly the point as to why we should get this bill to a legislative committee as quickly as possible to address these issues.

I would submit to him that we should not have to choose between regulating air pollution and regulating greenhouse gases. What we have learned from other jurisdictions and from the measures put in place by the last government is that it is not enough. We did not go far enough. We definitely did not go far enough when it comes to air pollution.

We know now that taking an integrated approach to addressing both of these issues is key to the health of Canadians and key to the health of our environment, because one technology to reduce greenhouse gases may in fact result in increased air pollution, and vice versa, depending on fuel choices and many other related issues.

On the issue of Kyoto, Bill C-30 is a piece of domestic legislation so that Canada can finally make emissions reductions here at home. Obviously the discussion at the committee will involve whether or not this legislation is going to contribute to our overall Kyoto compliance and how, but what I will say is that we can finally say something positive to the international community, and we did deliver this positive message in Nairobi, which is that because Canada is finally moving toward mandatory, regulated emissions reductions, we will be able to make a contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases. We also delivered the message to the international community that we will also be reducing air pollution, which is obviously a priority for all of the member countries as well.

Again, in Nairobi, Canada was one of over 162 countries that led us to a consensus, and the consensus was that the Kyoto protocol needs to undergo a review. Canada supports a review of the Kyoto protocol to make sure that as we move forward to the next compliance period we make sure that we do not make the mistakes that were made previously.

We also introduced strong accountability frameworks around some of the international programs that the member raises. Again, the member needs to make a distinction between taxpayer funded programs and programs that are market driven. The Kyoto protocol has some mechanisms that are supposed to be used by the market, but the previous government was using taxpayers' dollars to invest in those projects. We believe that if it is industry led, that is fine.

The bottom line is that under the Liberal plan the taxpayer was paying and under the Conservative plan the polluter will pay. That is the substantial difference.

On short term targets, I welcome input from all parties leading up to January and through our legislative committee to help us set short term targets that are achievable and that will not ruin our economy but will instead encourage our economy to make a transformation into a green economy. I would thank the member for whatever he would like to add to the committee.

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12:20 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to congratulate the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville on his victory in Montreal on the weekend. He won because of his passion and credibility on the issues of the environment and sustainable development. He made the environment the main pillar of his program and rightly so in light of climate change. It is in the spirit of this victory for the environment that we will be studying Bill C-30 starting today.

What is our approach? The role of the official opposition is to be responsible and take action based on principles. Our role is to identify—together with the other opposition parties, the government and the environmental NGOs— practical solutions that will improve this bill.

We are not insisting on the fact that this bill is a Liberal initiative so that we can take all the credit. That is not how we do things. What we will insist on is that this bill be the best possible bill for the environment, for Canadians, especially with regard to the fight against global warming.

What is at stake here in this bill is nothing less than the greatest challenge facing humanity today, the first order of business: dealing with global warming.

Our position since the government first introduced the bill has taken the following lines. First, that this bill is not necessary and that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act contained all the necessary power to combat climate change and, indeed, air pollution.

Second, which I think was demonstrated by the minister's speech, with all respect, that to bring the two elements together is deliberately confusing. Air pollution and climate change are not the same thing. They can be linked and they can be related but they frequently and most often require different strategies and different solutions.

Climate change is primary, a precondition for every other policy that any government would want to bring forward. If we do not deal with it first and foremost, we will not get around to the rest of it, whether it is air pollution or anything else that the government might bring forward.

Our third criticism is that this bill is not Kyoto compliant nor is it even Kyoto relevant. There is no reference in the bill or the notice of intent to regulate to Kyoto standards. It is important to consider the bill and the notice of intent to regulate as a package.

Fourth, there are no short term goals for greenhouse gas reductions. We are not talking intensity. We are talking reductions. There is no reference to Kyoto's first implementation period of 2008 to 2012. There are no regulations for greenhouse gases coming into force before 2010, unlike project green which saw regulations, not voluntary measures, coming into place for large final emitters by 2008.

The fifth point is that goals for greenhouse gas reductions in the medium and long term are not ambitious enough.

The sixth point is that the bill, as written, actually weakens the Canadian Environmental Protection Act by creating unnecessary and ambiguous alternate lists for greenhouse gases and air pollutants.

The final point is that the provincial equivalency agreements are not as strong in the proposed bill as they are currently under CEPA.

Our original intent was to vote against the bill at second reading since we could not accept its fundamental principles or the accompanying notice of intent to regulate. Our current intention, now that the bill is at first reading and can be amended, is to produce amendments which meet our original criticisms, as I have outlined, and work with the government, opposition parties and environmental groups to produce a serious piece of legislation.

I will not today speak to the air pollution sections because we can work to improve those sections. However, air pollution is not where the problems lie.

I will begin by simply suggesting the key deletions that need to be made to this bill. First, the changes that weaken the provincial equivalency provisions of CEPA and, second, the creation of unnecessary new categories of greenhouse gases and air pollutants and the parallel regulatory authorities created along with those categories that put the federal power to regulate these substances at risk.

As to the targets and purposes of this legislation, for Kyoto, Bill C-30 must be amended to make explicit reference to Canada's obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto protocol. This should include a reference to Canada's 2008 to 2012 target from article 3, paragraph 1 of the Kyoto protocol of a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below Canada's 1990 level.

For medium and long term targets, Bill C-30 must be amended to include a long term target for Canada of at least an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2050. For the periods 2015 to 2050, interim targets should be established at five year intervals, with a 2020 interim target set at a level of at least 25% below the 1990 level.

Through Bill C-30, the following principles should be added to the preamble of CEPA. Canada's climate policy must be guided by the ultimate objective of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change. This means keeping global average temperature increases under two degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels.

Canada needs to commit to doing its fair share to combat this global problem. We need the use of hard caps on greenhouse gas emissions that increase in stringency if the science shows that further efforts are needed. There should be no trade-offs between cleaner air and greenhouse gas reductions.

For more detail, we need some sectoral amendments. For heavy industry, we need an amendment requiring the governor in council to limit greenhouse gas emissions from heavy industry through regulations that take effect no later than January 1, 2008 for the period 2008 to 2012. The amendment must include a hard cap on emissions that impose a Kyoto target on heavy industry. This means working toward a reduction to 6% below industry's 1990 emission levels for all final emitters. We need an auction of permits with the option of revenue recycling for economic efficiency.

We also need a linkage to other Kyoto compliant emissions trading systems. For vehicles, we need an amendment that would require the governor in council to impose regulated vehicle emission standards set to match or exceed the California vehicle standards, with those regulations coming into force for the 2009 model year.

On energy efficiency, a preamble should be added to the Energy Efficiency Act that supports setting continuous economy-wide improvement targets in energy efficiency in Canada, with two new sections to be added to the Energy Efficiency Act. First: the governor in council would be required to prescribe energy efficiency standards for all energy using products that are responsible for significant or growing energy consumption in Canada. Second, the governor in council would be required to review all energy efficiency standards within three years after they were introduced or amended and every third year thereafter. Through this review, every energy efficiency standard must be made to meet or exceed the most stringent levels found in North America.

On the issue of governance, we need a budgetary policy that would require the Minister of Finance to table an analysis of the projected greenhouse gas impacts of the Government of Canada's budgetary policy, disaggregated by measure, at the same time that the minister tables the annual budget.

Finally, we need the creation of an emissions reduction agency that would draw on the model of the California air resources board and create an arm's length agency responsible for climate research, regulation and the development of science based, interim, greenhouse gas targets for Canada.

With this package of amendments, we would turn Bill C-30 into a real bill for climate change and a real bill for air pollution reduction. However, we must remember that the first order of business must be global warming and climate change without which no other government activity will matter if we cannot start by saving the planet.

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12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I would like to make a comment and it is that in the last period of questions and comments we only got in one question. In this period I would like to fairly get all parties represented.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Peterborough.

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12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with tremendous interest to the speech just given by the hon. member from Toronto and I noticed that he did not recognize the smog problem in the area where he comes from. We know it is a problem in Peterborough.

Be that as it may, he also mentioned the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. It is funny that he referred to it. Since it was rewritten in 1999, it sat in the Liberal library collecting dust. The Liberals never used it or enforced it. They never did anything with it. From the moment they signed Kyoto, they never did anything. Their record on the environment is a record of failure.

This government has set out a vision, a vision for action that Canadians want. Whether the Liberals support it or not, Canadians do support action on the environment. I would like to know why the Liberals do not.

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12:30 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

I will make two points, Mr. Speaker. The first is on smog. The effects of smog are greatly enhanced by global warming. The hotter the climate because of global warming the worst the impact of smog. There is a connection but that connection is being driven by heating.

The second point is about the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. First, to suggest that it just sat on the shelf is inaccurate. From the work on toxins, 23,000 substances have been classified. Under CEPA, these substances are being eliminated. We can make that a better act for toxins.

The whole point is that we are using this act by adding in greenhouse gases to the list of toxins, which the previous government did. We now have the capacity, in an unambiguous fashion, to regulate both. I thank the member for his somewhat inaccurate observations.

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12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to what our Liberal Party colleague just said.

I am trying to find a solution for people whose lives were turned upside down because of products that have been known to be toxic since 1989. We have known since 1989, when the Liberal Party was in power, that these products are toxic.

We have just been talking about improving air quality, so why has nothing been done to protect these people's lives?

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12:30 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are three parts to this issue. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act covers toxic substances, some of which are air pollutants, and which now include greenhouse gases.

The toxic substances management policy the member mentioned is a system that recognizes science and that tries to prioritize toxic substances and to reduce levels of the worst ones.

I believe this must not be confused with the current bill because that would be like mixing up three elements.

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12:30 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize the new Leader of the Opposition who will bring passion and credibility to this issue. However, I hope his passion and credibility are greater than it was during the years he was a minister in the previous government.

On the renewable fuel option that the minister talked about, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development said that a 5% change in the fuel mixture in Canada would amount to about a 2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from that same fuel.

Would my hon. colleague not agree that even a one kilometre per litre improvement in fuel efficiency in vehicles would amount to so much more than this renewable fuels option?

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12:35 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would agree that what is important in the fight against climate change is to figure out where we get the most return for our dollar in terms of reductions. I would also agree that there are probably more effective ways of spending money and getting reductions of the sort that are proposed than necessarily pegging it all to the renewable fuel option, the benefits of which are marginal.

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12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-30, Canada's clean air act, as the government is calling it. This bill amends three existing acts: the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act.

We have been waiting a long time for the Conservative government to tell us what it plans to do to fight climate change and smog. We waited a long time because up to now, the policies of the Conservative Party, a political party on the verge of taking power more than a year ago, had nothing to offer in terms of measures or an effective plan to respect Canada's commitments under the Kyoto protocol signed in that Japanese city in 1997.

The bill before us here today is a far cry from what we were expecting. First of all, we were expecting a plan and a bill that would integrate the targets for greenhouse gas reductions set out by the Kyoto protocol, especially during the first phase of reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Similar to Bill C-288, which is currently in committee, we were expecting this bill to include a 6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012, compared to 1990 rates.

Not only does this nearly 36-page bill never mention Kyoto, it also never refers to this target for reducing greenhouse gases during the first phase of targeted reductions. I would remind the House that this target was endorsed by Canada.

The bill also contains nothing about the second phase of reductions or the government's intentions. The only target the government is proposing here today to fight climate change is a target somewhere between 45% and 65% in greenhouse gas reductions by 2050, as though we can continue to produce greenhouse gases without worrying about short-, medium- and long-term targets for reductions. This is no different than presenting a business plan to a board of directors of a private company—and I wonder what the government would do—with no short- or medium-term goals, but only one objective for 2050.

Personally, I think that board of directors would send its managers back to do their homework, so that they could present a realistic plan that respects the international commitments signed by Canada.

Not only does the bill set a target for 2050, but the reference level for this 45% to 65% reduction in emissions is 2003, rather than 1990 as set out by Kyoto.

What does that mean in reality? It means that we will start calculating the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2003, as if nothing happened in the provinces or certain industrial sectors before 2003. Yet the Province of Quebec—sadly, we are just a province, even though we are now a nation—is one of the first provinces to have tabled a plan to fight climate change.

Quebec is prepared to comply with greenhouse gas reduction targets that use 1990 as the reference year. But the government is proposing 2003 as the reference year, as if it were possible to emit more greenhouse gas before 2003. In addition, this bill does not provide for offsetting credits for industrial sectors that have reduced their emissions in relation to 1990 levels.

This bill therefore does not comply with the international commitments signed by Canada. In introducing Bill C-30, Canada has flip-flopped on its international environmental commitments.

This government has also decided to set aside something that is vital to Quebec: the principle of equity. Past efforts by the provinces and territories and by industries should be recognized under the government's bill, yet there is nothing in the bill that does this.

In addition, we are expecting major efforts in transportation, an important sector in Quebec. What is the government proposing? Essentially, it is telling us that the voluntary approach that the government has agreed on with the auto industry can continue on its merry way until 2011. After 2011, the government will consider regulations based not on the most effective criteria and standards in North America—those in California—but on standards comparable to those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

They have decided, in terms of automobile manufacturing standards, to use lower benchmarks, and thus lower the standards, when Canada should be using its regulations to raise them. Worse yet, we learned just this morning that the government will have two systems for the industrial sectors: one that will be based on the intensity of emissions and another on the absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

It has been decided in Canada to spare the oil and gas industry at the expense of the industrial sectors that have made some efforts in the past. This is the second unfair factor: after the territorial aspect, or the non-recognition of the efforts made by Quebec since 1990, this is unfair to the industrial sector, in that Canada's oil industry is being spared.

We are indeed in favour of referring Bill C-30 to committee, but we believe that fundamental improvements need to be made to this bill. Recognition of the Kyoto targets, especially in the first phase, must be seen in the very essence and spirit, the principle and preamble of the bill.

We need stronger commitments and an immediate plan that will allow us to take action in the second phase of greenhouse gas emissions reduction, a year from now, in Bali, when the international community will begin to reflect on the system that should be applied in this second phase. The only debate we are having in this House is on the reduction objective for 2050.

Let me say again: if executives were to present this plan to a board of directors, they would be sent back to the drawing board to come up with reduction targets for the short, medium and long terms.

I will close by addressing a major aspect that we will defend in the parliamentary committee: this principle of acknowledging the territorial approach. We have not, thus far, been able to achieve our greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets because the proposed plans require reduction from coast to coast and Canada's economic structure differs from one province to another, while Quebec's energy policy also differs from those of the other provinces.

In committee, we will be working on having this territorial approach recognized within Bill C-30.

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, greenhouse gases have an even more devastating effect in my area of the country than anywhere else in the world. It is like the canary in the mine shaft. The permafrost is melting. It is breaking up infrastructure. Species are moving. Invasive species, like the spruce beetle, are coming in.

Does the hon. member think that the fact that the present government cut programs or allowed programs that were cutting greenhouses gases, like EnerGuide and the one tonne challenge, et cetera, to expire, coupled with this bill, will solve the devastating problems in Yukon and in the north of Canada? It does not seem to me to be the solution, but is it the solution for the member?

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12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have always believed that climate change must be fought on two fronts.

To start, there must be a two-pronged approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. First, there is energy efficiency. The Conservative government's decision to abolish the EnerGuide program makes us realize that it does not believe in energy efficiency as a powerful means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Second, any program to fight climate change must include a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the source. In my opinion, those are the two components of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Next, we need a policy to help meet the challenge of adapting to climate change. It is not just developing countries that must adapt to climate change. What is happening in northern Quebec and in the Canadian north will require a strict and vigorous policy in the next few years in order to avoid the small catastrophe of today from becoming a more significant catastrophe tomorrow, and to prevent us from having to invest public money in infrastructure. Thus, we must adapt to climate change starting now. This is becoming increasingly vital.

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12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to serve with the member on the environment committee.

I want to know if the member has actually read the notice of intent that was published after the tabling of Bill C-30, because what he says about transport, equity and large final emitters is plainly wrong. There are not two systems. Where did the member get his information?

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12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did read the notice of intent and I have it here. It is on page 14. I invite the member to read page 14, under the section “Transportation”. The government intends to harmonize its standards. It also plans on exploring opportunities for collaboration between Environment Canada and the U.S. EPA in order to facilitate, insofar as possible, the administration of motor vehicle regulations.

I will say it again, the government will be introducing regulations and harmonizing existing ones not based on the regulations of the state of California but rather based on those of the EPA, which has automobile manufacturing standards that are less stringent than those of the State of California. I invite the member to read page 4 of the notice of intent.

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12:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, what we are debating here is very important, not only for Canadians, but for the entire planet.

As the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute said, climate change is set to become one of the defining issues of the century. I believe that climate change must become the defining issue of this Parliament.

In fact, we found ourselves at an impasse on taking action on the environment. Our party proposed a strategy to break through that logjam. As a result, we are now debating the creation of a special and new approach to handling issues in Parliament where there are differences of opinion.

It is an exciting day for this Parliament. It is an opportunity to actually make the House of Commons work for Canadians as its top priority. It is an opportunity to produce results which were frankly not going to be forthcoming. It is an opportunity for us to put forward our best ideas as political parties, to take the knowledge of Canadians, to take the work they have done for years and to bring it forward to the House of Commons into a special place, a special committee, and to work together to craft a way forward on the most fundamental issue of our time. It is vitally important that the House of Commons succeed in this effort and succeed rapidly. It will require a certain new spirit.

This is not an attitude we are used to seeing here in the House of Commons. We have had all kinds of debates. We are different and we emphasize our differences, but what we must do now is find common ground so that we can reach common goals: a safe and healthy planet, sustainable development and reduction of our currently disastrous impact on the environment.

Let us think about the consequences of climate change today. We are literally changing the atmosphere of the planet. As a result of that, we are transforming the flow of energy on a planetary basis not only in the atmosphere but when it comes also to the seas and the oceans. Fundamental changes are happening because of the way in which we are walking on the planet or should I say: tromping on the planet.

It is time we recognized that. The deniers are still there. We still hear them suggesting that indeed there is no problem with greenhouse gas emissions, but I believe that we have achieved, at the level of world science and world public opinion, a level of understanding of this issue which is unprecedented probably for any environmental issue ever to face humankind, maybe for any issue at all, with the possible exception of the devastating consequences of nuclear war.

The difference here is that we have an opportunity to actually set things right, but we have to move very quickly. We are facing global warming and we are seeing the consequences nowhere more than in Canada's north. We are facing a concept one could call global storming: the increase in devastating, powerful storms around the world. Of course this was predicted. The naysayers said it was just the weather and we should get over it. The fact is that we are transforming the weather of this planet.

That is why this book called The Weather Makers was the first book, the first piece of writing, that I gave to the Prime Minister at our first meeting after the election. I asked him to read it for our children and our grandchildren, and because it sets out in a very powerful way the transformations that are under way. I would like to quote just one of the many examples Professor Flannery, the author of that book, cited. He said:

We must remember that if we act now, it lies within our power to save two species for every one that is currently doomed. If we carry on with business as usual, in all likelihood three out of every five species will not be with us at the dawn of the next century.

These are devastating predictions and they are not the predictions of an individual. They are predictions of the best minds on the planet. The question is: Are we going to listen to them and do something about it? The good news is that even faced with droughts and flooding that are already affecting working families and the record fires that are burning across our country, there is still time to change the course that we are following now, a course that is actually beginning to affect ordinary families today.

Think about those who are facing the loss of their jobs as a result of forest fires and the impact of new diseases and pests on the forests. Think of those in the far north whose very livelihood, whose way of life, whose fundamentals as a culture and as a society are being undermined by climate change. These are ordinary families. Think of those suffering pollution, having to rely on puffers evermore in our polluted cities. All of our citizens are beginning to experience the impact of climate change and that is why we need to take action and take it now. This Parliament needs to move quickly.

We find that our discussions of many issues are interminable. We have been talking about this for 13 years, yet hardly any significant, necessary measures have been taken.

We have of course seen broken promises. We have seen hot air. We have seen just about every kind of inaction imaginable. But now we have the opportunity in this work that we are going to do, hopefully to be approved today to follow up on our proposal to create a special place where the best ideas can be brought forward. That will allow us to set ourselves on a new course, not to create an energy superpower as the Prime Minister likes to speak of but a country that actually respects the nature of energy, the way we should use it, and how we need to be custodians and stewards of the planet. We should not be claiming to be a superpower capable of transforming our planet in a negative way. Let us be responsible.

We can do this in all sectors of our economy whether it be transport, buildings, industry, individuals, provinces and territories. We can all engage together in these steps, but it is going to require real leadership from the House of Commons. We are going to have to take much more dramatic steps than we have contemplated to date.

That is why we recommended the creation of this committee. That is why we are going to propose amendments to this committee which will be very strong. It will begin with immediate action. In the short term it will focus on medium and long term goals as well and it will give this Parliament the power to set the direction rather than leaving it to a government that on occasion, I must say, does not seem very committed to the urgency of this issue or to taking action which is why the clean act before us will not be adopted as it stands and will be fundamentally changed.

The NDP has proposed many changes, --including: legislating rather than regulating short--, medium--and long-term targets to bring about significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; demanding that Canada comply with its 2008-2012 targets under the Kyoto protocol; requiring Canada to reduce emissions by 80% relative to 1990 levels by 2050, based on scientific research; and reaching intermediate targets at five-year intervals between 2015 and 2050.

We must legislate in the act, rather than in notices of intent which may never happen, a much earlier date for regulating the industrial sector. These regulations must be in place soon for the biggest polluters.

We must legislate in the act, rather than again through regulations that may never come to be, a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial sector of at least 45 megatonnes per year. We must legislate in the act a requirement for mandatory standards for the criteria air contaminants within one year of the new act's passage.

That is getting things done and it is putting power in the hands of the House of Commons rather than leaving it in the hands of a cabinet which so far does not seem to have grasped the significance of the issue.

We must use legislation to require vehicle fuel efficiency standards similar to those in leading North American jurisdictions, which will be published in 2008. We can do that and we must do that.

We know that other parties have voted against some of these proposals in the past. We invite them to reconsider. We will reconsider their proposals. We believe that a great deal must be changed in this act, but in view of the need for all of us to leave a legacy, to get moving now and to participate with the global community, this is what we must do.

We must make this piece of legislation the most powerful piece of legislation, for healthy air in order to combat climate change, that this country and perhaps the world have ever seen.

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1 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I think the member will agree that this government inherited a massive environmental mess from the previous Liberal government. The new Liberal leader was a failed environment minister under whose government greenhouse gases skyrocketed by 35%. That is twice as much as occurred in the United States under George Bush during exactly the same period.

We inherited this massive increase in greenhouse gases from the newly elected leader of the Liberal Party. In fact, greenhouse gases hit their peak under his leadership. He is a failed environment minister and now we as a government have inherited the challenge of reversing the massive trend of increased greenhouse gases that we inherited from the previous Liberal government.

We are doing the best that we can with the clean air act. It is not going to be easy because of the mess that we inherited from the new Liberal leader. However, I want to thank the leader of the NDP for his ongoing commitment to reduce greenhouse gases and to work with the clean air act in order to achieve both a reduction in those gases and a reduction in smog. I thank the member and invite him to share more of his suggestions on how that can be done.

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1 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is true that we have faced inaction for many years. In fact, when Canada signed on to the Kyoto protocol, something that was opposed, it is true, by the current government, it contained an element of hope that Canadians had for the future.

Sadly, as we saw from our very own Commissioner of the Environment here in Canada, the results did not match the intentions. In fact, in many ways Canadians were betrayed because the signature of Canadians was put on a global document saying we would take climate change seriously, and then that did not happen and our emissions went up even higher than those of George Bush.

Unfortunately, we are also faced with the sad fact that throughout that entire period, the current government's members tended to oppose taking any action at all on climate change, so it really is going to require a sea of change in this place, of all parties, to begin to get it right.

I remember the time we proposed a motion here to put controls on auto emissions and to really get something done, and it was opposed by both the former government and the current government. That is going to have to change. Targets that are serious and significant are going to have to be adopted. We cannot continue subsidizing the big oil and gas companies, which both the previous governments did, if we expect to get moving on the solution. That has got to change as well.

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1 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of the first question, I would like to ask the hon. member whether in fact he approved of the new government's decision to cut the EnerGuide program which was part of project green, to cancel the regime of regulation for the large final emitters which would have reduced Canada's greenhouse gases by 45 megatonnes and come into force in 2008, and to cancel further additions to the wind power production incentive. Does he think those particular actions of the new government were helpful?