House of Commons Hansard #102 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was identification.


Motions in AmendmentKyoto Protocol Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to enter into the debate. It seems to be, and I hope it is not the first and only, a week of talking about the environment.

It gives me particular pleasure because the issue has been one on which I do not think Parliament has been seized with the proper energy over the last number of years, certainly over the last number of decades. While the debate today is somewhat representative of where we need not to be on this issue, Canadians have heard the Liberals time and again claiming that the Conservative Party members do not believe in climate change or that they are climate change skeptics. While I do not necessarily doubt the allegation, the fact is that they need to respond.

I am not sure any party in this place has a choice any more. We cannot stand on the side of the biggest polluters or on the side of those who wish to continue to be irresponsible in their decisions. We must stand on the side of responsible governance.

We saw the report out of Paris today that was made by 1,200 leading scientists, more than 2,300 contributors of the best and brightest our world has to offer and more than 113 countries. For those of us who have been involved in the United Nations process, we know that getting language into a document can be onerous because it needs to be done by consensus. When we have all these different views and countries represented with their own narrow national interest, it is hard to establish strong language. However, even under those conditions, the language that came out of the United Nations today compels every one of us to work within our parties, to work within our constituencies and to work with all the groups and businesses on this issue for a common cause, which is the reduction of the amount of pollution that is produced by our economy.

We have had many witnesses. For more than two and a half years the former environment committee heard witnesses and now the present environment committee, which was looking at Bill C-288 and is now looking at Bill C-30, will hear more witnesses. Something that has been consistently brought to the attention of members of Parliament is that Kyoto is not so much an environmental protocol as it is an economic one. It goes to the very heart of the decisions that are made about our economy and about the way that certain costs are captured.

The costs for pollution have never been properly captured in this country. That has been true for many other nations as well but they have been moving ahead of us, particularly on the European front but other nations as well, to capture the actual costs of production, one of those costs being how much pollution is emitted into the air.

If anyone remains doubtful of the science or doubtful of the impacts I would gladly invite them for a tour of my riding in northwestern British Columbia where the foresters have come to me and said that they are witnessing the impacts of climate change. The forestry experts have said that the changes they have seen in their weather are causing an infestation of parasites that they have never see the likes of before. They are losing virtually every pine tree in the province and it is now sweeping over the Rockies into Alberta into the boreal forest. The consequences are serious.

We have also heard in the debate today, which I am not sure is helpful, the Conservatives disclaiming the record of the Liberals. Something calls to my mind when I look at Bill C-288. Where was this bill in 1998 and where was it in 2000? Where was the demand for an accountable plan? I know the hon. member was not here but his party was in power.

This is important to point out because timing is important when we talk about the adjustments we need in our economy. I had an excellent meeting with a group of mining executives in the last Parliament. They were upset and frustrated with the government at the time on the question of energy. They were smelting a great deal of ore and it is very energy intensive.

They watched us go through the Kyoto debate, sign on in 1988 and ratify later on. They saw this coming, because they heard from the government that this was coming, and they started to make some changes to the way they used energy and the way that they were polluting. They have been reducing that pollution and their energy uses, which was mostly natural gas in their case, and yet they were not getting any credit for it. There was no level playing field created because the government kept waiting and waiting.

Meanwhile, their competitors in the industry were allowed to continue business as usual. They were not making those types of investments. They became frustrated, and rightly so. The timing of the thing, the fairness and the certainty that businesses have been requiring for so long is critical for moving across our economy.

Despite all the failures of the previous government to set a fair and level playing field for all those competing, on their way out I asked the Liberals one last question: “By the way, how is it going? How is business?” They said, “It is great. Natural gas prices went through the roof in the last couple of years. We used far less than our competitors and we are beating the pants off some of them”, and then they walked out.

At some point we need to debate the environment versus the economy. I often hear some of my colleagues on the benches to my left ask what we have against Alberta and what we have against jobs. That type of thinking needs to end. At some point, with the water crisis that we had in Alberta and when the mayor of Fort McMurray and her council pass a unanimous resolution begging, pleading with the provincial and federal governments to put a halt to any new projects in their area, one begins to question the economy versus the environment debate and see that it is not true.

We see the IPCC report today, the UN's report. We are no longer debating if the seas are rising, we are debating how much. We are no longer debating if the earth is in fact warming, we are debating how much.

An important thing for Canadians to realize, when they look at the numbers and the estimates go from a little less than two degrees to potentially as much as six degrees average temperatures, is that the average temperature for the entire globe is felt most in the northern hemisphere. The further north one goes the more intense those degrees move and the greater they are. For the people who live in the far north and who depend on the resources for resource extraction, we have seen the number of permafrost days and ice road days go down. Mining companies are closing up shop for longer and longer periods of time.

We need to understand and appreciate that this is a battle we must all be seized with. We need to realize that to continue this ping-pong debate back and forth in question period and in debates like this between who is doing worse on the environment between the Conservatives and Liberals, I do not think Canadians are all that interested, to be frank. I do not think Canadians are as interested anymore in hearing that the Liberal record for 13 years led to 30% above, which is true, or that the Conservatives are not seized with the issue of the environment, which is true.

I encourage my colleague who is introducing this bill to hand over some of the amendments that exist in his private member's bill and we can stuff them in, or cram them in or force them into the government's bill. I constantly hear some opposition members at the committee and here in the House say that they want to hear more about the government's plans before they can make decisions about the government's bill. My goodness, courage my friends. The opposition parties have a majority on the committee, as they do in this place, and we should tell the government what we want to do. We should not be waiting for government plans or for this hopeful Kyoto strategy that may or may not come from the government. I am not holding my breath. I waited a long time for the previous government to do it, and I kept waiting and waiting. One gets bored of waiting and just wants to make the changes and do the things that we know are right, in particular, in the debate around Kyoto and whether we are staying in.

Kyoto is a contract that we have with the international community. We are in this protocol. Unless the government steps forward and says that it is tearing it up, we are in this protocol and we must honour our commitments. I know the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment and the Prime Minister have not said that we are tearing it up. However, if the government is not suggesting that we step out of it, then we are in, and, if we are in, there are penalties that are incurred for missing the targets. That is how it was written.

The world community thought this was so serious that we could not just have another international meeting, have more politicians standing up at more microphones making more pronouncements and yet continuing down a disastrous path when it came to pollution and to climate change. Because they knew this was not an option, the leaders of the day, who signed on to this agreement and drafted this, made sure there were penalties. They are the penalties we abide by.

The debate over the science of climate change is over. The debate over whether Canada is in this protocol must be over. The only debate that now exists is on the measures we as parliamentarians together need to take to change course in this country to once again be proud of our international reputation, particularly when it comes to the environment. We absolutely owe it to ourselves, to the constituents who sent us here and to future generations.

Motions in AmendmentKyoto Protocol Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, climate change is the single most pressing ecological threat facing our country and our planet. I am here today on behalf of my constituents of Brampton—Springdale, the children, the youth, the seniors and families who are concerned about global warming and climate change. They are concerned about having an action plan for climate change.

The fight against climate change is one about which all Canadians are concerned, Canadians from all socio-economic backgrounds, Canadians from all cultural groups, Canadians from every walk of life, because environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and social justice are three pillars that are paramount to every Canadian family. This is why I stand in the House today to lend my full support for Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

We have seen not only in the last decade but in the last few months that climate change does exist. The threat of climate change is real and it is here. The levels of greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are now rising faster than ever. This has led to record increases in temperature over the 20th century.

We must take action now to ensure energy efficiency of our economy and our productivity. It is an issue of quality of life of our citizens. As global citizens we have a responsibility to our fellow citizens throughout the world to take action and to provide leadership as a country. We have a responsibility to work with the international community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and clean up our global environment. What we need is leadership and we need a plan of action.

I know that the Liberal Party and Canadians across the country all agree that we have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to ensure that we act now. We must ensure that we build a healthy and sustainable environment in which every citizen throughout the world has the highest quality of life possible.

On the environment file, the Conservative government has truly made a mockery of Canada's environmental stewardship. Canadians have a Prime Minister who has never really believed in the science of climate change. I am sure over the past few weeks many Canadians have read the letter written by the Prime Minister in 2002 in which he stated:

“battle of Kyoto“--our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto Accord.

Here is another quote from the letter:

It's based on tentative and contradictory scientific evidence--

And yet another quote:

THERE ARE NO CANADIAN WINNERS UNDER THE KYOTO ACCORD....It will take an army of Canadians to beat Kyoto.

The letter goes on and on. However, we have noticed that in the past few months the Prime Minister and the Conservative government have suddenly decided to go green, because the polls have shown that the environment is one of the top priorities of Canadians. But a leopard can never truly change its spots. The fact of the matter is that the government has embarrassed us at the international level and damaged Canada's reputation when it comes to the environment.

We have taken a look at some of the Conservatives' action plan initiatives. They have refused to honour the $538 million agreement that was struck between the governments of Canada and Ontario to shut down coal fired production plants. They have refused to honour their commitments of the partnership fund to fund climate change programs that were run by provinces and municipalities, a loss of $328 million to Quebec for its Kyoto plan. They have gutted 92% of the funding for climate change. They have shut down four successful climate change programs in Canada.

It has been a year and the Conservative government has not gotten the job done.

Motions in AmendmentKyoto Protocol Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

You didn't get it done.

Motions in AmendmentKyoto Protocol Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has spent $300 million on transit pass rebates, a program that experts say will not produce results or reduce the number of cars on the road. The fact of the matter is--

Motions in AmendmentKyoto Protocol Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Order, please. I would like to advise the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board that he is next on the order. He will get his turn to speak. In the meantime, I am listening to the hon. member for Brampton—Springdale and I would appreciate it if I could listen to her without interruption.

Motions in AmendmentKyoto Protocol Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.


Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, with the amount of time and effort that goes into writing speeches, I appreciate that you are listening along with many other Canadians.

The fact is the Conservatives have never truly believed in the science of climate change and they have never believed in Kyoto. They have embarrassed our reputation time and time again, not only nationally but at the international level as well.

I want to take a look back at when the Liberals were in government and talk about some of the initiatives that were undertaken by it.

On February 23, 2005, one week after Kyoto became international law, the Liberal government released Canada's greenest budget ever. In total, the budget provided almost $5 billion over five years to green Canada's economy, to clean our land, our air and our water. It included measures to address such things as climate change, increasing renewable energy production, such as wind and small hydro, to remediate toxic sites and to improve public infrastructure.

On April 13, 2005, $4 billion was invested in the climate change plan that detailed sector by sector greenhouse gas reduction targets and our plans to meet them.

On September 3, 2005, the Liberal government once again proposed the addition of six greenhouse gases to be added to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which would have provided the federal government with the legal authority to take quick action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and also aiding in the establishment of mandatory greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

In December 2005, and I am sure that many Canadians watching today will also remember this, that we proudly hosted, in Montreal, the historic United Nations conference on climate change. It was under Canada's leadership that this conference brought together 180 countries to create Montreal's action plan, a clear road map to the world's future approach to cooperation on climate change. This initiative outlined energy efficiency and innovations in clean technology to promote economic growth without increasing polluting emissions and also launched a dialogue on long term cooperative action on climate change.

In 2006 a 10 year $1 billion comprehensive four part strategy was announced to clean up problematic areas such as the St. Lawrence River Basin and the Great Lakes.

It is evident that the Conservatives in the last year have turned their backs on the science of climate change. They have turned their backs on global warming. They have not done the job. As I think has been said before in the House today, the issue of climate change, the issue of the environment and the issue of global warming requires cooperation. It requires collaboration between all parliamentarians and all parties in the House. It also requires cooperation and collaboration with the international community.

As a country, we traditionally have had respect because we have provided leadership when it comes to addressing the issue of climate change. As parliamentarians, that is why we support the bill being brought forward today. It will ensure, once again, that Canada will provide that leadership and have the respect needed to ensure we can meet our international obligations to the Kyoto protocol.

Having travelled and spoken to many Canadians across the country, it is clearly evident that Canadians want action. Canadians need action. As parliamentarians, we must ensure that we get the job done. Our party has a leader who is passionate, who is committed and who has the conviction to ensure that we meet our international obligations to the Kyoto protocol.

Motions in AmendmentKyoto Protocol Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

2:20 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario


Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the member speaks of the Liberal leader's great new found passion for the subject of climate change, but, frankly, the planet does not care about his platitudes. The planet does not care about his $40 million conferences. The planet does not care if he wears a green scarf or names his dog after the Japanese city of Kyoto. The planet cares what real action we take to confront the problems before us.

Today we have more posturing. We have Liberal members standing in the House and puffing up like blowfish to talk about how much they now care about the environment. The reality is they had the chance and they did not get the job done. In their own words, 13 years of talk, 13 years of inaction.

Canadians will not be fooled. The Liberals, from the period that the Kyoto accord was accepted in the late 1990s until the time when they left office, took no effective action. In fact, greenhouse gases were skyrocketing at the fastest rate in Canadian history at the very moment they left office, after over a year of oversight by the then minister of the environment, who is now the leader of the Liberal Party.

Let us reflect on the environment commissioner's report, someone the Liberals themselves have called a great advocate on the environment. Let us take a look from 1998 through 2006.

The 1998 reports states:

—the federal government is failing to meet its policy commitments.

The 1999 report states:

Federal departments are divided on the degree and significance of risks posed by some individual toxic substances, the interpretation and application of legislation and the nature of their respective roles and authorities. This has led to indecision, inaction and strained relations among departments.

The 2000 reports states:

—persistent problems with the federal government's management of key issues like climate change, toxic substances and biodiversity....As a result, commitments made to Canadians were not being met.

The 2001 report states:

The continued upward trend in Canada's emissions demonstrates that the government has not transformed its promises into results.

Again, the Liberals did not get the job done.

The 2002 report states the federal government's “sustainable development deficit continues to grow”.

The 2003 report states:

There is a gap between what the government said it would do and what it is actually doing.

Good intentions are not enough.

The 2005 report states:

When it comes to protecting the environment, bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground. The federal government seems to have trouble crossing the finish line.

I noticed some amusement, even from our friends on the Liberal side, at the line “bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground”. I think the commissioner was bang on, on this point. Then she said, “The federal government”, referring to the Liberal government, “seems to have trouble crossing the finish line”. Forget the finish line. When this 15 year marathon was sounded, when the pistol was fired, the Liberals started sprinting in the opposite direction. Now we have to turn that direction around and come all the way back and attempt to meet these spectacularly demanding targets that were signed on to before.

No wonder Canadians booted the Liberals from office not so long ago. Now that they are in opposition, what are they doing? The Liberal leader has appointed a Kyoto skeptic as the Liberal critic on the environment. The member for Ottawa South is in fact a Kyoto skeptic and I will prove that today.

During the nine years that the member was the president of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, he allowed greenhouse gases to skyrocket. He said that when Canadians “see the costs of Kyoto, they are going to scream”. He said that the Kyoto accord would cost $40 billion a year. Those were the words of the Liberal member for Ottawa South, the high priest of hypocrisy on the environment. He said it would cost $40 billion a year to implement Kyoto and that when Canadians learned of these costs they would scream. Those were the words of the Liberal critic for the environment.

During the Liberal years, he wrote:

Canada has the second-highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. If we ratify the Kyoto Protocol, we will have to reduce them by 6 per cent below 1990 levels. That means reducing our emissions by 26 per cent from the current levels, because we are emitting so much more now than we were in 1990.

That is what he said of his own government's record. That is the Kyoto skeptic that the leader of the Liberal Party has chosen to speak up on the issue of the environment. I notice that he has not been speaking much lately. In fact, he has been silenced.

We are taking real action on this side of the House. We have given incentives to put more solar power, wind power, wave power and biodiesel into the energy component of our economy.

We are supporting the creation of more clean fuels such as ethanol. We are working toward using our agricultural sector as a new source of clean energy and at the same time creating new markets for our farmers.

These are real actions that will be met in conjunction with the clean air act and will lead us to achieve, in the long run, real reductions in both smog and greenhouse gas emissions. These are the kinds of real actions that the planet is asking from us. The planet is not demanding more $40 million conferences.

Canadians are asking the House of Commons to rally around the passage of the clean air act, to get something done, to achieve the job, to get real results, and that is what I am proud to be part of. That is why I am proud to be part of this government.

Motions in AmendmentKyoto Protocol Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

When Bill C-288 returns for debate, there will be two and a half minutes left for the hon. parliamentary secretary.

It being 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)