Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be given the opportunity to speak today on this particular motion. I will be voting yes to the motion with a caveat or a reservation. I will develop that reservation in my remarks. Climate change and the Kyoto accord are very important issues and I do appreciate the opportunity to say a few words.
There has been a lot said in the House and outside the House on the whole issue of climate change and Kyoto, and whether this country should continue in its efforts to meet the Kyoto accord. As an assembly we have to sit back and look at the whole thing in perspective and the background of this accord.
The Kyoto accord was signed by well over 100 different countries. It is an international treaty. It took approximately 10 years to develop the accord. The accord involved a lot of time, energy, effort and resources. I would equate it to herding a hundred cats into a room. Then, after the tremendous effort of many international players, there was an accord signed and certain greenhouse gas emission targets were agreed upon on a worldwide basis. The accord has to be implemented on a worldwide basis.
It was hoped at the time that the accord would not pit country versus country, industry against industry, developed parts of the world versus the developing parts of the world, and the rural areas of the various countries against the urban areas, but everyone would put their shoulder to the wheel and be involved. It was hoped that everyone would support the accord and, as a result, greenhouse gases would be reduced.
There has been a lot of talk over the years about Kyoto. There has been a lot of talk in the House. I submit that it is no longer debatable. We have moved beyond debate. The science is clear that this is a very serious issue that has to be resolved by the people living on this planet that we call Earth.
However, we do still have naysayers in this country and in North America. I was reading a poll not that long ago and on a Canada-wide basis approximately 5% of people do not believe in the concept of climate change and Kyoto. However, 11% of the population still believe Elvis is alive.
George Bush is one of those naysayers. To the shame of this country our Prime Minister is one of those people that does not believe in the Kyoto accord. It is documented by the record that the Prime Minister spent his entire working life fighting or in his words “going to the wall” against this particular accord. This was the fight of his life. The Prime Minister went out and he raised thousands and thousands of dollars to assist him and his party on this fight of his life. He promised that he would not implement the Kyoto accord. This was a solemn promise that he made to the Canadian people.
When Canadians look back I think they can say that our Prime Minister has attained a reasonable amount of success in this promise. There are many promises that have not been fulfilled to the Canadian people, whether it is child care, wait times, the Ontario agreement, income trusts, the equalization agreements and so forth. The pile is getting bigger. On the issue of climate change I think we can put it down as a promise made and a promise delivered. He promised he would not implement it and the first thing the Prime Minister did when was sworn in as our Prime Minister was that he revoked our commitment to the Kyoto accord. He said that the country would turn its back to the Kyoto accord and the international agreements that Canada made.
We as people who make public policy have to realize that there are so many levers at our disposal. There is no switch here in Ottawa where we can turn the temperature down. We have to use all the levers at our disposal.
I have always thought that the first lever that has to be started is public education. We have to convince the public, and I think that has probably been done, that this is a serious issue and that it warrants a very serious effort on our part.
We also have to incentivize our industries, people, associations and organizations to get involved, especially those industries and people that need assistance in adapting their industries, jobs and lives to the new reality.
Under the previous government, a number of programs were developed. One that was in the process of being implemented was the partnership program. It was a government to government cost sharing initiative to invest in technologies and infrastructure development important in lowering levels of greenhouse gases. I am talking about an initiative that was federal government to provincial government and also federal government to municipal government. I am talking of clean coal technology, carbon dioxide capture and storage, ethanol, and the creation of an east to west energy grid.
A number of agreements were signed under the partnership program, but let me go on to the third point. Governments of course have the right, and the obligation too, I submit, to legislate and to regulate so that we as a country meet our commitments. We have to do it.
There have been discussions recently about the Alberta energy industry, the car industry, different industries, and the coal industry in Canada and worldwide, but we have to get beyond that. Everyone has to be involved in this process. If there is oil that is drilled in the province of Saskatchewan, refined in Alberta and goes into a car that is made in Ontario and is being driven in Quebec, we cannot divide that up into four or five different provinces. This is a countrywide problem that we have to solve on a countrywide basis. We have to get beyond that particular discussion.
To go back to the partnership program agreement, I thought at the time that it was an excellent agreement, because this is one of the levers. A lot of the initiatives that have to come about to solve this particular problem have to be at the provincial and municipal levels, and this was an incentive. They were going to take advantage of this. The province of Ontario took advantage of it. It signed an agreement. It was a government to government agreement whereby Ontario and the Government of Canada signed an agreement--and not the Liberal government but the Government of Canada--for $538 million to eliminate certain coal-powered stations over the next couple of years.
The province where I come from signed an agreement to put in an electrical cable from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. Again, that was all part of this east-west energy grid that would have helped us out immensely, but what happened after the present government got in? First it cancelled our commitment to the Kyoto accord. More seriously, it went ahead and cancelled 92% of all programs dealing with climate change. Of course the Ontario agreement, the $538 million, went on the chopping block, and then there was the $12 million. These were signed agreements. The cable also went on the chopping block, very unfortunately.
The motion before us talks about $328 million. I am going to get to my reservation or caveat. We are talking about $328 million going to the province of Quebec to implement its plan to meet the Kyoto targets. I assume it would be the intent of the mover of the motion that this fund would come from the partnership initiative or a similar type of program whereby we can have government to government agreements, but, and this is my caveat, that this has to meet with the objectives of the Governments of Canada and Quebec.
Having said that, I have extreme confidence in the province of Quebec and I have confidence in the people who live in Quebec. They seem to be ahead of the curve on this particular issue. They have done a lot and I believe they certainly understand the issue clearly. They understand what has to be done and it would appear from everything we read and everything we hear that they are prepared to do it.
On that basis, I am certainly prepared to support the motion. I hope the motion passes, but I also hope the finance minister does not just cut a cheque. The funds would have to be for a certain agreed upon program that is developed between the province of Quebec and Canada, which I am totally confident will be developed very quickly.
I have talked about the broad brushes here and am very pleased to be supporting the motion, but again, we are talking about a larger issue, and the way this country is heading is very disturbing. I am very disturbed as a member of Parliament about what we are not doing with respect to this particular accord. We are getting into a shouting match. It is 1:40 p.m. now and in 40 minutes members will be shouting and screaming at each other in the House as to who is to blame. Some members will be screaming that we cannot implement Kyoto because we cannot meet our targets. Some members will scream back and say that we can.
However, this is a process. If, because of political issues or other reasons, the country cannot meet its targets, we do not turn our back on the people who live here. We do not turn our back on the world. We do not turn our back on the other countries. We explain it to the 100 and some countries that signed the agreement with us. It is a process. Maybe it will take us two years beyond 2012 to meet our agreed upon targets. That would be disappointing, but it would not be the end of the world. What would be more disappointing and shameful would be for us to say that we cannot meet the targets by 2012 so we will forget about them.
It would be disappointing and shameful to say that we are going to forget about Kyoto and climate change, to say that we are prepared to turn our back on the other countries and the people who live in those countries. I find that totally shameful.
We will be into that discussion in 40 minutes. To the shame of this assembly, in 40 minutes we are going to hear the words I have just mentioned, because members are going to be pointing fingers and screaming at each other. I suggest that we stop screaming for 10 minutes. I suggest that we just sit back and, instead of pointing fingers, say that whatever we can do, we will do.
First of all, we have to acknowledge the international agreement that we signed in good faith with 100-plus other countries. That has to be the condition precedent to any discussion. If we are not prepared to do that, then we are a shameful country. I hope reason and common sense will prevail in this House. I hope that we will sign the agreement, get to work and do what, first, we agreed to do and, second, what we should do.
Those are my remarks. I hope the motion passes. I hope the funding will be made available to the province of Quebec. As I said before, I have extreme confidence in the province on this particular issue. Again, this is just one small step in the larger issue, but I hope we can get on with it. I hope the motion passes and the plans develop, and I hope the funds are transferred as soon as possible.