Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Brome—Missisquoi.
I am pleased to take part in this important debate on the environment. It is a wide-ranging subject, but with this motion, we have decided to focus on Quebec's specific request. The Government of Quebec has long been calling on the federal government to provide it with $328 million so that it can meet its Kyoto protocol targets.
To remind hon. members exactly what we are talking about, I will read the motion, because we were treated to 20 minutes of rather academic speeches. I could see that you were very interested in what was said, Mr. Speaker. I felt that, for two government members, they did not outline any very concrete measures, although they did tell us that climate change was very important. We already know this, but I would have expected them to answer the question that was just asked—are they going to vote for or against the motion?—especially since they are government members from Quebec. Will they vote for this motion to give the Government of Quebec the $328 million it is owed, to help it implement its plan to comply with Kyoto? The motion reads as follows:
That, having recognized the principle of complying with the Kyoto targets, it is the opinion of this House that the government should provide the Government of Quebec with the sum of $328 million to enable it to implement its plan to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets.
This motion is crucial to Quebec, which already has its own green plan, as hon. members know, but which lacks that sum of $328 million that will allow it to reach its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels.
I come from the Bois-Francs area, which has long been known as a cradle for sustainable development. It is the birthplace of Normand Maurice, who is the father of recycling and recovery. This region is where the Lemaire family is from; they set up the Industries Cascades. As you can see, I am acutely aware that I am representing a region and a population that have long understood the importance of the environment and, likewise, sustainable development.
As elsewhere in Quebec, the people in my region support the fight against climate change. I want to remind hon. members that a survey conducted just a few days ago, at the end of January, for The Globe and Mail and CTV, showed that nearly 80% of Quebeckers find that the government must make the necessary efforts to meet the Kyoto protocol targets. I imagine that the predecessors of the Conservative government who responded to the survey were not part of this 80%, but, in fact, a majority of Quebeckers understand the situation and want governments to take action.
While it has become fashionable to claim to want to protect the environment, I would like to remind hon. members of the work done by the Bloc Québécois, its environment critic in particular, the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who I commend. While listening to him earlier, I realized how effective his educational work is. His explanations and actions spell out the situation quite clearly and show us why the Government of Quebec is making this request. He drives a hybrid car. I think it is important to point out that he may not put the pedal to the metal, but he can drive at a respectable enough speed while saving fuel and protecting the environment at the same time. Far from slamming on the brakes, my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie has done a tremendous amount of work in this House. Without him, we would be far from where we are today on a number of bills and measures. I wish to acknowledge the work he has done here.
I was a candidate in 2000 and, even then, the Bloc Québécois electoral platform emphasized the need to implement measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Again today, the Bloc Québécois is proposing tough greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles, discounts on the purchase of ecological vehicles, significant financial support for development of renewable energy sources—especially wind power—and an end to the tax system that favours the oil companies. The Conservative member from the Quebec region who spoke earlier seemed to be quite offended that we are calling for abolition of a tax system that favours the oil companies, as though those people could not survive these days. It is a little bit like saying that perhaps we should be helping the banks and giving them subsidies. It is the same principle. We also are proposing funding for organizations that contribute to the achievement of the Kyoto protocol targets.
That is what the Bloc Québécois is calling for in its platform. We are where we are today because of my colleague, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who has worked for so long, and obviously the whole Bloc Québécois team and its members, meeting in convention, who have recognized for a long time how important the environment is for all of us.
Once again today, I am proud to carry the colours of a party that so ardently defends the need to take real measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to achieve the Kyoto protocol targets through concrete actions, as I have said, such as putting forward this motion.
It is not enough to put on a green scarf at a leadership convention to suddenly become a great defender of the environment, as the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada did. We all remember that image. We said that all of a sudden he was a “green” man. His scarf was green, but as for the rest, we must look at the actions that have been taken.
It was under his stewardship, while he was Minister of the Environment, that greenhouse gas emissions in Canada increased by 24%. I am talking about the time since 1993 because, earlier, my colleague spoke of an increase of 27% since 1990. It seems to me that to date, since the Liberals came to power, we have had a 24% increase in greenhouse gas emissions while the Kyoto target, as I recall, was a reduction of 6%. It is a disaster, a monumental failure. Yes, you can put on a green scarf. That might protect you against the cold; but that does not make you a great defender of the environment. The voluntary approach of the Liberals is a failure.
What is there to say about the Conservative government? Elected just over a year ago, it presented its five priorities—as we all recall—but the environment was not one of them.
As agriculture critic, I often speak with farmers about all the things that are going on in the House of Commons. I tell them often that this government has five priorities. The priorities of the entire population of Quebec people and the entire population of Canada are not necessarily the priorities of the Conservative government. It talks of law and order, and of all manner of things, but not of agriculture or the environment. In campaigning for election, I often tell the people of my riding “Your priorities are my priorities, and I will transmit those priorities on your behalf to the House of Commons.” I cannot understand how a government can be so insensitive as not to grasp that the priorities of the population must be its priorities, because its members represent the population. They were sent here for a reason: to represent the population.
As has been said, with reference to the supporting survey, the public has long been prepared and long been aware of how important it is to deal with climate change. That, however, was not a priority for the government in place, the self-proclaimed “new government”. The new aspect was that the environment is not a priority. If something like that were a new product on the market, I can tell you that it would not exactly be flying off the store shelves.
As a result of the polls just referred to, of public opinion, of the work of the Bloc Québécois and the work of the other opposition parties—also needing to be mentioned—the Prime Minister has just added the environment to his priorities. High time too, considering this government was sworn in a little over a year ago. All of a sudden, they are saying the environment is a priority. I do not know how sincere this is. It is a bit suspect, particularly when it comes to actions actually taken to make the environment a true priority.
We still need to act, as other industrial countries have done. Germany and the United Kingdom come to mind. My hon. colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie is certainly in a better position than I am to talk about what is happening elsewhere, for example in Europe. I do know, however, even if I am less of an expert than he is in this area, that some industrialized countries have been able to meet the Kyoto targets after signing the protocol. So why not us? Often, one compares oneself to console oneself, but here in Canada, that is not at all the case. Political will is needed, to truly invest in the fight against climate change. That is what must be done. That is what certain countries have done.
Economically speaking, the recent report prepared by Nicholas Stern, the former World Bank chief economist, recommends that every country should immediately invest up to 1% of its GDP in the fight against climate change in order to avoid future economic losses that could exceed $7,000 billion world-wide. It is hard to even imagine such a figure. That is a sum 20 times higher than the cost needed to reverse the trends. So, let us reverse the trends, because that will cost a lot less than sitting here with our arms crossed and both feet on the brakes, as suggested earlier by a Conservative colleague, referring to us.
I think he was merely projecting. It is the Conservative government, rather, that is slamming on the brakes when it comes to the environment.
Why can other countries do it, but not ours? Yet, Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol in 2002. As I was saying, both the Liberals and the Conservatives have failed. Their inaction is shaming us on the international stage. Quebec has a plan. It needs $328 million more, which the Liberals and Conservatives refuse to give.
Quebec wants to implement a plan that suits its situation. If the federal government is serious about its desire to reduce greenhouse gases, the Bloc Québécois calls on the government to take a simple but effective action: vote in favour of this motion and give $328 million to the Quebec government.