Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to join in this debate on the opposition motion today on the Kyoto protocol.
I believe that one of the greatest accomplishments of the previous Liberal government was the ratification of the Kyoto protocol and the development of the green plan for climate change.
Members in the House know, or ought to know, that our party has supported the Kyoto protocol since it was first negotiated in 1997. We did that because it is an international response to what really is an international problem. We hear all this talk about a made in Canada response to this, but I think that fails to understand the problem. It is clearly a global problem.
We cannot stop the air from moving around the world. The air does not recognize international borders. It is a bit like the fish, as my hon. colleague the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans would know when it comes to the 200-mile limit, for example. When the air goes all around the world, it does not stop at borders. Therefore, we must take measures in concert with other countries to ensure that there is a global effort.
It is fine to have all this talk about a made in Canada solution, but it is an incomplete solution. It has to be a coherent, integrated solution that works with other countries to effect real change and a real solution to what is a global problem.
My hon. colleagues across the way clearly do not seem to understand it from the comments and the position they have taken in the House along with the position taken by the government.
Canada, along with 140 other countries, recognizes that we need to address the problem of global warming. Over the last decade we have been working on a plan to implement the changes needed to reduce Canada's greenhouse emissions. There have been many measures brought forward and I will talk more about those, but in fact, up to this time Canada has been a world leader in the environmental area.
It gave me great pleasure, in December, to join the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, when he was environment minister, at the COP11 conference in Montreal. It was clear to me, as I went around the conference, that the minister from that riding in the previous government was a well respected, world class leader on the issue of climate change. He was able to bring 180 countries together to agree on an action plan for the future. That is a remarkable accomplishment. It is an action plan that would look beyond the year 2012, the date set to meet our Kyoto targets, so that we can continue to build a cleaner, greener Canada, and together with other countries build a cleaner, greener planet.
The new government likes to pretend that it was all doom and gloom when our party sat on that side of the House, but the truth is that we did a lot of hard work and a lot of good work. Canadians know that. They know it was a Liberal government that introduced the first integrated program to deal with climate change.
In the year 2000, before Kyoto was even ratified, Canada invested in research and in clean energy technologies. We created partnerships with the private sector to produce clean energy. We helped to fund research into the impact of global warming in the north. We know that the impact on the north is very real. We did all of this with the objective of bringing our country closer to meeting its Kyoto targets.
Members over there may rant and rave about the various programs and whether they were perfect or not, but the point is that these were good programs and they were having an impact. However, this government shows no interest in that kind of a forward thinking program. We did all of this with the objective of bringing our country closer to meeting those targets, but that is just the beginning.
In 2002, just before Canada ratified the Kyoto accord, it was our Liberal government that announced a climate change plan for Canada. This was a comprehensive plan to bring Canada's greenhouse gas emissions all the way down to the amount required to meet our Kyoto targets. We invested in programs like the one tonne challenge, which is essential.
I hear negative comments about this, on and on. On all these environmental programs, we keep hearing negative comments from across the way. However, the fact is that unless we as Canadians individually take steps to meet the Kyoto protocol challenges, unless we individually take steps to reduce the greenhouse gases we produce, unless we have measures to do research so that we can find new ways to reduce those emissions, and unless we can have our companies in this country working on ways to do those things, we are not going to get there. Those are the kinds of measures we have to have and the one tonne challenge is in fact a valid part of that kind of effort.
We invested in the EnerGuide program which my hon. colleague was talking about a minute ago. It is absolutely vital, if one is going to be refitting homes, to make them more efficient and environmentally friendly. We must have people who actually go to the homes who know what they are talking about, are experts in this area, and can tell homeowners what they can do to retrofit their homes, reduce their energy costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
When we hear this talk about half the cost of the program being for administration, the fact of the matter is that a good portion of that half is for the cost of having people doing the very important work of going to those homes, assessing them, and giving homeowners the advice on what improvements need to be done. That was a good program which the Conservatives are throwing away for no good reason.
We had to get these programs up and running to encourage individual Canadians to do their part to reduce their emissions. These programs enabled individual Canadians to work together to make a difference, one person at a time, and people did work together.
Then came project green. Last year federal action to implement the Kyoto accord reached a great milestone, with a truly made in Canada plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in various sectors. This was complemented by funding and initiatives to assist with the costs of achieving these goals.
Project green set sector by sector targets and a mix of voluntary and regulatory measures, including renewable energy incentives and a landmark deal with Canada's auto sector. I have heard the complaints from my colleagues in the NDP about the deal with the auto sector saying it was a voluntary agreement. When the auto sector reminds us that it had 14 previous voluntary agreements and there is confirmation that it lived up to those agreements, it does not seem to me all that unreasonable to accept the idea of another voluntary agreement considering that it has done so well on the previous 14. Clearly, the government had in its back pocket the ability to bring forward regulatory enforcement, if required.
The last decade has been spent making very real progress on a monumentally large global scale problem. Canada is recognized globally as a real leader in this area. By comparison, the first thing the neo-conservative government did was to kill Kyoto and to prove it is truly meanspirited by axing the popular EnerGuide program that helped seniors and low income households. This is the same $500 million five year initiative that was extended with all party support last November. Every Conservative MP voted for it, but the flip-flop gang across the way made it the 14th Kyoto climate accord program to be sacrificed. Shame on them.
Their arrogance and hypocrisy in this regard seems to know no bounds. Their disdain for aboriginals, low income Canadians and the environment has already clearly manifested itself. The Conservative budget has all but gutted every cent the previous Liberal government committed for the protection of Canada's environment. The Conservative budget represents a 93% cut to environmental funding and a complete disaster for future generations.
It also represents a 100% cut in funding for climate change, ensuring that Canada will be unable to meet its Kyoto commitments. The Conservatives claim that they could not be sure we would meet them. Now we are sure we cannot with the actions they have taken.
With no money for Great Lakes cleanup, renewable energy, energy retrofits, energy efficiency programs, brownfield cleanup or green innovation, the Conservative government is undoing a decade of progress. The government claimed it will dedicate $2 billion toward the development of a climate change plan, but the budget itself provides no money at all toward environmental initiatives other than a $10 million tax initiative for biofuels and $370 million over two years for a transit tax credit that all leading economists tell us will not work.
The government claims it will spend $1.3 billion on public transit, but this is not new money. It is kind of like the rest of the budget. I have heard it said that this budget is in some respects good and original, but all that is good is not original and all that is original is not good. It is money, in this case, that was committed by the previous Liberal government. Instead of taking credit for the work of others, Canadians expect the government to be moving forward on this serious issue, but it is not.
The government fails to explain why the budget allows the expiration of funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, the main source of funds for climate research in Canadian universities. It is hard to imagine that a government in this day and age would want to cut funding for climate research. It is hard to imagine. It is hardly a boutique program.
It was the Prime Minister himself in fact who called climate change a question of an “emerging science”. How ridiculous. From where will the science be emerging if not through universities?
No doubt the Conservatives have friends in the private sector who will continue to fund climate change skeptics, who are decidedly in the minority now among bona fide climate experts. We have heard thousands of internationally leading scientists in this area say that this is an important international problem that requires urgent and international efforts to address it.
However, this meanspirited minority has no business abandoning the growing sense of commitment that Canadians are feeling to making the painful choice necessary for us to do our part in saving the planet.
Here are just a few comments on its embarrassing environmental commitment, “This budget is a climate change catastrophe. It feels like, looks like, and quacks like a made in U.S. climate change policy by George Bush”.