This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Louise Thibault Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will vote in favour of this motion.

Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I vote in favour of the amendment.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #159

Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the amendment carried.

The next question is on the main motion, as amended.

Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me be the first to congratulate the hon. member for Kitchener Centre because I think if you seek it you would find unanimous consent to support this amended motion unanimously.

Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the House grant unanimous consent to the motion?

Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Persons with DisabilitiesPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion, as amended, agreed to)

Message from the SenatePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed a certain bill.

Message from the SenatePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order, I want to advise the House to be cautious in usurping the method of voting that this House has instituted for private members' business. I did not object because I can sense the mood of people wanting to get out of here, but I think we should be careful in the future.

I may object in the future because this House has gone through tremendous struggles to ensure that private members' business gets voted in a certain way and respected in that fashion and we are slipping away from that. I just want to say that I for one am concerned and I may not grant unanimous consent in the future.

Message from the SenatePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I appreciate the hon. member's comments and I am sure hon. colleagues appreciate his intervention. As he probably knows, if he does have concerns with the House taking that kind of a decision, he can refuse unanimous consent and the normal voting procedure would apply that.

It being 6:25 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from February 5 consideration of the motion that Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I was entering university, it was a time of some real life environmental disasters. It was actually quite depressing. Some northern rivers were so full of mercury that they did not freeze in the wintertime. Eagles, ospreys, peregrines were becoming extinct. Loggers were cutting to the river's edge, the water's edge. The town stank from the smell of bad eggs. Some called it the smell of prosperity.

All those factors and many others helped me decide that I wanted to be part of the solution, so I went to graduate studies and got my master's in environmental studies in practice and intervention.

I became an environmental planner and, given my professional, public and private commitments, I started up and helped fund raise and continued to belong to numerous environmental organizations. I put my money up and I donate extensively to a wide variety of these groups that are dedicated to making the planet a cleaner, safer and greener place. We have to walk the walk. We have to talk the talk.

As a councillor and mayor later on, I supported many of these environmental plans. Indeed, Thunder Bay became a community known for starting recycling and all sorts of other innovative programs. That is why the $6.5 billion in cuts by the Conservative government to the environmental programs, which were essentially community based, were so devastating to not only the 27 communities in Thunder Bay—Rainy River, but to each and every community across Canada.

The previous government had built a broad based set of community involvement. In my area a group called EcoSuperior was more than just the wheels. It was actually the engine for delivering quality and better environmental programs and community activist activities. We saw small neighbourhood groups and larger regional based organizations commence with some serious momentum to address the environmental issues and to see what people themselves could do as individuals and as communities.

Even over the past recent months as new issues arise, we see these community groups take up the cause. Whether it is redressing the disposal of mercury in lamps and those kinds of things, we always ask ourselves this. What can a group of individuals do?

I believe the environmental programs, the type that are community based, the kinds that generate the letter writing and petition writing campaigns, actually make a difference. They motivate people and they inspire them to do what they can.

The success of those exercises was evidenced by the repackaging and the reintroduction of many former Liberal programs. That is fine, except for one thing, and that is the loss of the momentum and the destruction or collapse of many of those local environmental activist groups. Basically, over all of that, we also lost two years of achieving Kyoto targets. The guilty culprits are clear, the coalition of the NDP and the Conservatives.

In 1993 the Liberal government inherited the largest debt in the history of Canada, which was the legacy of Conservative spending. That was wrestled down to the point where our country was no longer an economic basket case. I believe the Liberal plan, which was derailed by the recent alliance, would have seen us two years closer to meeting our goals. Now, we are two years behind.

When the world gathered in Montreal in December 2005, it was the leader of the NDP who was against the conference and told the delegates they would never get anywhere. However, the chair of that conference, the present Leader of the Opposition, did achieve a remarkable consensus. We remember when the world had gathered 20 years earlier in Montreal to address the issue of CFCs. We saw the remarkable progress that had been made when the world pulls together. We tackled the issue of how to protect the ozone layer and we were successful.

Indeed, when we see the results and the dramatic changes that have been made in just that timeframe, it tells us that we can do it. When we were faced with a rather spineless clean air act, the opposition parties gave it strength.

I was at committee on the concluding marathon day of the final amendments, for choosing the title, the definitions and the preamble. I watched, with considerable dismay, as the minority government demonstrated its contempt for having to really do something to save our country and the planet. The Conservatives started voting against the amendments, the definitions and even the title. I found that extraordinarily hypocritical and shameful.

The fraud continues with the release of the new, perhaps secret, greenhouse emission plan, which was used last year as its starting point. It is kind of like saying we should start the 100 yard dash at the 50 yard line and make it a 50 yard dash.

Those kinds of examples give a pretty dramatic clue that if we care and we are sincere, then the concerns that we represent for Canadians and for the environment must be justified. They demand sincerity in their action.

Many people have watched the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth. There is also one on the dilemma of oil. These have raised the level of awareness of people who perhaps were not technically astute, but it puts them into a space where they can understand the ramifications of doing nothing. Indeed, the book, The Weather Makers, effectively refutes all Conservative claims that there is no global warming.

The newest short film, AHEAD OF THE CURVE: business responds to climate change, confirms that by reducing greenhouse gases, there is a way for countries and their businesses to profit in a very positive way.

We see the number of skeptics who perhaps never believed there was global warning or some kind of climate change occurring. The film alludes to Johnson & Johnson, Duke Energy, Wal-Mart and Dupont, all recognizing that indeed there is a problem that has to be addressed. When they start recounting the savings in their production costs, improving the bottom line and helping to protect the planet, I believe that success is its own standard of measurement.

There is a big gap between just thinking of it and doing it. When we talk about energy conservation and what the bill could do we ask ourselves this. What can one person, one community, one province and one nation do? The sum totality is when people add these, we end up not only saving all nations but we save the planet.

I believe the expression is that this planet is not ours, we are borrowing it from our future generations. That tells us that the role of government is to provide those incentives and facilitative devices so we can be part of the solution.

We can look at the articles published in various Canadian newspapers. The St. John's Telegram, for example, identifies that $150 billion in new investment for coal-fired plants is not only necessary, but we will also end up with near zero emissions. It states:

The potential benefits flowing from an ambitious and realistic clean air plan that reduces greenhouse gases are enormous.

I am here tonight to ask this minority Parliament to pull together and get the kind of legislation through that will actually do the job.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Bloc Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the actual wording of the bill tabled on October 31, 2006, by the member for Toronto—Danforth, the purpose of this enactment is to ensure that Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In a second stage, the bill will create an obligation for the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to review the measures proposed by the government to meet targets and comply with the obligation to submit a report to Parliament.

The Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill C-377.

The fight against climate change is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most important issues of the planet and represents a major challenge for Quebec and Canada. Although the Bloc Québécois is concentrating on respect for the first phase of the Kyoto protocol, namely the period from 2008 to 2012, we should plan for the next stage in order to improve further Quebec’s and Canada’s environmental record.

While awaiting the results of the official negotiations among the 163 signatory countries and stakeholders of the Kyoto protocol, led by the special working group which began meeting in Bonn last May, Canada must determine a medium and long term plan to show it really wants to significantly reduce greenhouse gases. By adopting credible targets acknowledging the importance of significantly reducing greenhouse gases so as to reduce global warming, Canada can resume its role as a leader on environmental issues, a role it has stopped playing in recent years.

The Bloc therefore supports the principle of Bill C-377 in the hope of being able to examine and debate it in committee. The Bloc will seek to improve this bill. For example, the Bloc had Bill C-288 amended so that it includes a mechanism for a territorial approach, the simplest approach, but above all the most effective one for Quebec and the other provinces of Canada, in order to meet the Kyoto protocol targets.

We are in favour of the principle of Bill C-377, and we wish to study it with all due seriousness, given the seriousness of the issue of climate change.

There are three parts to this bill: first, new targets for the years after 2012; second, the publication of an annual report; and third, the new obligation on the environment commissioner. I want to turn now to one of these three parts.

Clause 5 of the bill sets medium and long term targets. The Government of Canada will therefore have to ensure, as a long term target, that Canada’s emissions are reduced to a level that is 80% below the 1990 level by the year 2050.

The second target that is mentioned is 25% below the 1990 level by the year 2020, which is considered the medium term target.

Between 2012 and 2020, Canada will therefore progress from a 6% reduction to a 25% reduction on its way to finally achieving its objective for 2050.

Clause 6 adds something else: it sets interim targets. It establishes the targets to be achieved every five years beginning in 2015. This interim plan also specifies certain other things such as a greenhouse gas reduction target for each of 2015, 2020, and 2025 as well as the scientific, economic and technological evidence and analysis used to establish each target.

The second part of the bill requires that an annual report be published. Since there are certain targets for each of the years mentioned, the purpose is to see whether the government achieved these targets.

The measures may include: lower emissions and performance standards, market-based mechanisms; spending or fiscal incentives may also be mentioned in these proposals or in the objectives in order to reach the targets. Cooperation or agreements with provinces, territories or other governments are another way of achieving these targets.

In regard to the latter point, the Bloc Québécois will ensure that the approach is in accordance with the territorial approach always specified by the Bloc. In complying with the Kyoto protocol, the Bloc Québécois still insists that the federal plan must include a mechanism allowing for the signature of a bilateral agreement with Quebec.

This bilateral agreement based on a territorial approach should give Quebec the financial tools it needs to implement more effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on its territory. This is the most efficient and the only truly equitable solution that takes into account the environmental efforts and choices made by Quebeckers in recent years, particularly with the development of hydroelectricity. This measure must be included in the measures taken following the 2008-12 period, so that Quebec may also continue to implement its own greenhouse gas reduction plan.

The third point is the new obligation of the environment commissioner to produce a report. It is important to note that there is no provision in Bill C-377 that would make the environment commissioner an entirely independent officer of Parliament who would report directly to Parliament. The Bloc would like such a change to be made to the environment commissioner position so that he has the latitude to fulfill the new duties assigned to him.

As I said earlier, the Bloc Québécois has always sought a territorial approach. Given the major differences between Quebec's economy and those of the other provinces, as well as efforts that have already been made, this is the only fair and effective approach that does not require years and years of negotiation. It is very simple: Quebec and the provinces who wish to do so can opt out of the federal government's plan and implement their own measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels within their territory. To enable Quebec and the provinces to make their own choices, the territorial approach should be combined with a permit exchange system.

As the deadline nears, the federal government must opt for the territorial approach to speed up efforts to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible. However, the Conservatives twice rejected this promising approach and seem no more open to it now than they were before. For the period following the first phase of the Kyoto protocol, that is, after 2008-12, Quebec must be in a position to undertake its work according to its own plan.

The Bloc Québécois has no doubt that human activity is the cause of greenhouse gas production and is responsible for climate change. During discussions prior to the climate change conference in Bonn, the Bloc Québécois sent a clear message to the Conservative government. The federal government must shoulder its responsibilities and start thinking about medium and long term objectives. Since the conference, the Conservative government has stubbornly rejected the Kyoto protocol. It has lost face in the eyes of all of the countries that ratified the protocol. As my colleague said earlier, the past two years and the past few months have been a total loss in the fight against climate change.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to this climate change bill crafted by the member for Toronto—Danforth. He knows this issue back and front and, more importantly, he walks the talk. He has retrofitted his home to be a net producer of energy. As a Toronto city councillor, he proposed solutions, followed through and made them reality, such as the Toronto atmospheric fund, one of the most ambitious and effective building retrofit programs in the country.

Now, as MP and leader of the NDP, he has proposed practical solutions and has followed through on that, for example, with the cooperative initiative, bringing all parties together to bring their best ideas to re-craft the flawed Bill C-30. Now it is up to the House to make that a reality.

At the start of the year, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its fourth assessment report, which provides the most sobering and scientifically precise overview to date.

It is expected that sea levels will rise, species will become extinct and natural catastrophes will increase throughout the world. In North America, we can expect an increase in hurricanes, flooding, forest fires and drought. Our cities will have to cope with heat waves that will be more frequent and intense and that will last longer, as well as their effects on health, particularly in the elderly and children.

In my province of B.C., drinking water will become more scarce and threats to water quality will become more frequent and serious. Researchers at the University of Victoria have examined 70 to 80 glacier fronts over the past five years and have consistently found glaciers in rapid decline and already at their lowest ebb in 8,000 years.

Last year's boil water advisory in greater Vancouver was the largest in Canadian history, but it will not be the largest for long.

Given the irrefutable scientific evidence before us, what possible reason could any responsible government have for not acting with more urgency?

Liberals and Conservatives seem to agree: both tell us that the economy comes first.

Under the Liberals, greenhouse gas emissions rose by 24% instead of going down, but the economy was booming, they told us, and they could not very well slow it down.

The Conservatives use emergency closure measures to act immediately to impose unfair labour settlements, but not on climate change. For that, we are still waiting.

Pitting the environment against the economy is disingenuous and just irresponsible. Last October's report by former World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern makes this very clear.

Societies always need energy. However, we must change our collective mentality by turning from policies of productivity and excessive consumerism to policies that promote efficiency and conservation.

By practising conservation, we can reduce the gap between our energy needs and the supply of clean, renewable energy. The government can help promote the energy efficiency of our homes, buildings and businesses by providing incentives that will lead us to change our means of transportation and the way of ordering our communities and our daily lives.

As a city councillor, I saw the determination of some municipalities to use every tool at their disposal to take up the challenge, while the federal government's response remained weak and unfocused. Canada now ranks 28th out of 29 OECD countries in energy efficiency. We have a lot of room for improvement.

In Victoria, we are working very hard to do our part.

Recently in Victoria there have been several public forums on climate change, with hundreds of people attending, and I dedicated my fall newsletter to the issue of climate change. I commended my constituents for the small and large actions they take every day and I challenged them to do more.

As a result, I received an overwhelming number of feedback forms coming from that newsletter, all with actions that Victorians are taking, such as retrofitting their homes, choosing energy efficient appliances and choosing alternative modes of transportation.

As inspiring as these simple actions are, they are betrayed by continued government inaction or halfway measures, which make it harder, not easier, for ordinary Canadians to make these choices.

It is still easier to buy polluting products that have travelled for miles to get to big box stores than it is to buy local products.

The federal government has failed to correct what Sir Nicholas Stern has called the biggest market failure. When it has acted, it has been with half measures or even quarter measures.

The government's so-called recent ecoenergy home retrofit program is an example of this kind of half-hearted measure. It does not meet the needs of low income Canadians or those with rental properties, whereas what we need is a program that would systematically facilitate the retrofit of millions of homes and buildings in Canada on a yearly basis.

This bill has been introduced precisely because of the inadequate effort of the federal government now and for the past 14 years.

This bill would end the federal government's voluntary delay and would legislate action, action that is rooted in where science tells us we need to go.

It would be based on action that would begin to tilt the market away from polluting industries and would level the playing field between polluting and non-polluting ones.

This bill enshrines the 80% target in law. Furthermore, it requires a 25% reduction by 2020, on par with the commitments of the Kyoto protocol and the 2050 target.

These targets are based on the important report The Case for Deep Reductions, prepared by the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation, and supported by all major environmental organizations in Canada. Thus, it stands to reason that the starting point for this bill is meeting our Kyoto protocol commitments. We are joining other countries that have set ambitious targets to comply with the Kyoto protocol.

To arrive at our destination, we must map out a route. That is why the targets are essential.

Since this bill was introduced, some of these measures, notably the medium and long term targets, have been successfully incorporated into Bill C-30 by the special legislative committee. We look forward to Bill C-30 coming back to the House for a vote. However, we know there is no guarantee in politics.

That is why I am urging members of the House to support Bill C-377 in principle and vote for it to proceed to committee. We expect that the committee can be just as constructive in exchanging views and propositions for this legislation.

To close, I would like to relay a thought from an IPCC scientist who attended Victoria's recent forums. He said that no matter what we do, short term temperatures will rise as a result of the past decades of inaction, but our actions today are necessary because they will determine the long term impacts that our grandchildren will feel.

It is said that politicians always look for short term electoral gain and I wonder if in this House today we have politicians who are willing to act, not just talk, but act with their vote for the long term.

Do we cherish our environment and our children's future enough to make the fundamental changes that are needed to protect them? Because what we do in this House today is for the next generation.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to take part in the debate this evening on Bill C-377, Climate Change Accountability Act.

At the onset, let me acknowledge that we are all aware of climate change. Responding to climate change is a major concern for this government and no doubt will remain so in the foreseeable future. I suppose the only thing we could say for sure about the weather is that whatever it used to be, it is not likely to be.

In my own riding on the west coast, we are surrounded by temperate rainforest. Tourists flock to the west coast of Vancouver Island to visit Pacific Rim National Park to enjoy the surf, sun, beach, boating and outdoor adventures. Yet, for the first time in memory, this past summer, Tofino, a popular tourist destination, experienced water shortages. This past winter vicious storms lashed the coast causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to our famous West Coast Trail. In fact, we recently provided $500,000 in funding to help clean up the damage in the park and restore the trail, and a further $2 million to help restore Vancouver's famous Stanley Park. Meanwhile right here in Ottawa, Christmas was one of the mildest in recent history and there were concerns about whether Ottawa's famous Rideau Canal, the world's largest skating rink, would open.

That is why this government has been very clear that in the coming weeks we are going to bring clear targets and regulations that are aimed at specific sources of air pollutants and greenhouse gases.

However, rather than the mechanism proposed by Bill C-377, I believe that we have a more effective way of reaching our goals by setting realistic and achievable goals, targets that will strengthen Canada's long term competitiveness, targets that will still represent significant and positive progress in our fight to reduce harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. I believe this government is already on the right path to achieving those objectives.

We have made it clear that we are committed to delivering solutions that will protect the health of Canadians and their environment. It is a commitment that we take seriously. That is why we are taking concrete actions that will improve and protect our environment and our health. We are proactively working with Canadians to take action toward those targets. We are providing financial and tax incentives to encourage Canadians to drive eco-friendly vehicles. We are supporting the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and tidal powers. We are providing incentives to Canadians to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

Through budget 2007 we are investing $4.5 billion to clean our air and water, to manage chemical substances, to protect our natural environment and to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This investment when combined with over $4.7 billion in environmental investments since 2006 adds up to over $9 billion. That is a significant investment in a cleaner and greener environment right here in Canada.

Canadians care deeply about their environment. They want and they expect their government to take real action. They have told us that they are particularly concerned with the quality of the air that we all breathe.

The notice of intent to regulate that this government issued last October represents real action that Canadians are demanding, a significant, aggressive and positive step in the right direction.

In the coming weeks Canadians will soon see more details expounded as the Minister of the Environment announces the regulatory framework for all industrial sectors. This framework will set short term emissions reduction targets. It will provide real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and in doing so, it will also position Canada among the international leaders in the global fight against climate change.

Permit me to say a few words in the process about Bill C-30, the clean air act, because it is indeed related to many of the issues dealt with in Bill C-377.

Canadians are, as I said, concerned about the quality of the air they breathe and their changing environment. Harmful air emissions continue to affect our health, our environment and our economy, as well as our quality of life. That is why I found some of the changes to Bill C-30 recently pushed through committee by the opposition to be hypocritical.

Through the opposition's amendments to Bill C-30, we have now lost mandatory national air quality standards, mandatory annual public reporting on air quality, and actions to achieve national air quality standards. What are the opposition members thinking? We have lost increased research and monitoring of air pollutants and tougher environmental enforcement rules for compliance to air quality regulations.

Probably in the most shocking move, the Liberals inserted a clause that would allow political interference into air quality standards. The Liberals, supported by the NDP, have changed the bill to allow the Minister of the Environment to exempt economically depressed areas from air quality standards for two years. This would allow them to buy votes by exempting certain Liberal-rich voting areas of the country from air quality regulations that protect the health of those voters, while punishing other areas of the country that are economically strong but do not vote Liberal.

For all of the rhetoric from the opposition parties on strengthening Bill C-30, they now have to explain to Canadians why they played personal partisan politics with air quality standards.

Improving and protecting the air we breathe is an objective that all of us in government must work toward regardless of our political stripes. Taking action on climate change and air pollution is everyone's responsibility. Unfortunately, this bill just does not do it. That is why I cannot support Bill C-377. It does not get it done.

7 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication addressed to the Speaker has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

April 18, 2007

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 18th day of April, 2007, at 6:37 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Curtis Barlow

Deputy Secretary, Policy, Program and Protocol

The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C-46, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of railway operations—Chapter 8.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change.

This is a big issue. For most of us, sometimes we get sidetracked by other issues but the damage that continues to be inflicted on our planet is a warning to all of us to do something to make a difference and to work together in developing strategies that will make a difference so that we can tackle the issue of climate change. We can no longer afford to be complacent and merely speak about the subject.

A number of things put this issue in perspective for me. I spend a lot of time in schools in my riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, in high schools, junior high schools and elementary schools. While Canadians are focused on a number of different issues, the environment has always been a major issue for young Canadians.

As a parent of two young children I am very concerned about our environment. I want my children and all young Canadians to grow up in a world that places a priority on a clean environment, a world where new technologies are employed to combat climate change. I want them to grow up in a world where Canada honours its commitments, leads the world in tackling the effects of climate change and is prepared to take our responsibility to the planet seriously.

Every day we read about or witness on television or in our own communities the effects of climate change. It is our behaviour as humans that has brought us to the brink. Far too often we put more value on the present than on the future.

As parliamentarians we have no greater obligation than to do what is right. There is no longer any debate on what is causing climate change; it is us. There is no longer a debate as to the validity of the science, and those who dispute the science are often the same people who believe the world has only been in existence for a few thousand years.

Last year, as I suspect all members of the House did, I watched the movie by Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth. This movie did not have as its goal to entertain the world, though it did. It was not meant to generate box office revenues, though it did. It was meant to alert us, to wake up the world to the crisis that exists with respect to climate change, and it did that as well.

Today we debate Bill C-377. This bill in many ways mimics an earlier bill introduced by my Liberal colleague from Honoré-Mercier. Bill C-288 recently passed with the support of all opposition parties, including the NDP. It seeks to have Canada meet its global obligations to the Kyoto accord. That bill is now before the Senate.

I want to congratulate my colleague from Honoré-Mercier, along with the member for Ottawa South, both of whom have been leaders on the issue of the environment, calling for the government to take serious action to combat climate change. It is our hope that the current government, whose members continue to play politics with this issue, would respect Bill C-288 and honour the Kyoto accord.

We have also had significant successes with another bill that is before the House, Bill C-30, the clean air act. Shortly after the introduction of this bill, it was recognized by most members of the House that it fell short of accomplishing any real measures to combat the crisis of climate change. Shortly thereafter, the government agreed to strike a special legislative committee. At the end of March, after a week of intense negotiations and late night sittings, opposition parties rallied around Liberal amendments to the bill and passed a comprehensive plan.

Having served on a special legislative committee on civil marriage a couple of years ago, I can appreciate the time and effort that all parties put in to rewriting the government's bill. I thank each of them for the hard work that they did on this very difficult issue.

To the surprise of many, the renamed clean air and climate change act was reported back to the House on time. When the clean air act was proposed by the government in the fall, many of us on this side of the House were very disappointed because it offered nothing new in our fight against climate change. The bill appeared to distract us from the fact that the government was not using its tools to negotiate with large industrial emitters, as the Liberal government had done. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act as amended in 1999 is already a very robust toolbox to confront large emitters.

Draft regulations to limit emissions were in place in the fall of 2005, but the Conservatives threw them out of the window when they came into office. When the government referred the clean air act to the special legislative committee, we had hoped the Minister of the Environment would propose improvements to the legislation. In the end, the government did not come up with one single substantive improvement.

Further, when it became obvious that the government was not serious and had no intention of taking substantive measures, our leader proposed a white paper called “Balancing Our Carbon Budget”. It is an aggressive and innovative plan to meet the challenge of real and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Balancing our carbon budget would work in the following way.

A hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions would come into effect on January 1, 2008, for the three largest industrial emitting sectors: electricity generation, upstream oil and gas, and energy intensive industries. The cap would be set at the Kyoto standard of 1990 emissions levels less 6% and would establish an effective carbon budget that companies within these sectors could be expected to meet.

Those companies that do not meet their carbon budget would deposit $20, growing to $30, per excess tonne of CO2 equivalent into a green investment account. At a rate of $10 per tonne every year, companies could freely access the funds in the GIA to invest in green projects and initiatives that would contribute to tangible reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

GIA funds would be held in trust by an independent operating agency governed with participation from the private, public and not for profit sectors. Funds not allocated to a project within two years would be administered by an independent operating agency to be invested in other green projects and initiatives.

At least 80% of the funds would be invested in the province where the facility of the depositing firm is located.

Companies that surpass the reductions called for in their carbon budget would be able to trade their unused allotments to other Canadian firms. Large industrial emitters would also be able to buy international emission credits, certified under the Kyoto protocol, to offset up to 25% of the amount they are required to deposit into GIAs.

Opposition MPs from all parties supported the solutions outlined in that plan and incorporated much of it into the new clean air and climate change act.

The bill now endorses a national carbon budget based on our Kyoto targets and reaches out to 60% to 80% reductions from 1990 levels by 2050. It requires the government to put in place the hard cap for large emitters and uses this hard cap to create market incentives for deep emission reductions.

For years businesses have been looking for the guidance and certainty that this law would provide. When the bill passes Parliament, it will allow companies to plan their investments and green technologies, reward early action and help us avoid the most dramatic climate change scenarios.

I am proud of that work and I am proud of my colleagues. There is more to be done. The next step is to ensure that the government does not ignore the special legislative committee's amendments. In line with that work, I am pleased to support Bill C-377.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank all the members of Parliament who have participated in the debate of this bill. It has been a good debate and an important debate.

I know that members of Parliament increasingly are becoming aware of the crisis of climate change and want to get something done about it. We think this is something that the Canadian people believe we should be doing in this chamber.

I would particularly like to thank the member for Victoria for her kind words earlier this evening in the debate.

I am thinking back to my father who used to sit in this place, albeit in a different political party, but what can one do when a family member falls in with the wrong crowd? In any event, he taught us years ago that the environment was an important issue. He got his kids to start thinking about putting solar hot water systems in our houses 40 years ago.

I know that he would be very concerned about the issue here today and would be hoping that Parliament could get something done. He was that sort of man.

He always taught me that if we want to get somewhere we absolutely have to mark out a destination. That is what this bill attempts to do and I believe succeeds in achieving.

If we are hoping to get to a target, we have to name it and name it very clearly. We need to make sure well in advance that we have the right destination in mind.

As we begin to set a course for where this country needs to go with respect to the crisis of climate change, we have to set a destination based on the best knowledge available on the planet. That is what this bill has done.

We turned to what global science was suggesting. Global science, with a level of consensus never before achieved by global science on any topic, suggested that we must avoid a 2° centigrade average increase in global temperatures. In order to do that, we had to set a trajectory that would take us to greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels. We had to set that target if we were to have any hope of avoiding what was predicted by these same scientists as catastrophic change.

That means that we must set a difficult target, but a target nonetheless, to help us develop the plans and initiatives that are absolutely essential if we are to stay within 2oC of global warming. This bill starts with that proposal.

We took this recommendation directly from global science and from the David Suzuki Foundation, and from the Pembina Institute. We set a target of 80% reduction by 2050. In addition, we required, through this law, that all targets established between now and then be locked in legislation. We also set in motion a process to require that there be immediate action by any government to achieve those targets.

At the time when we presented this bill, of course, we had the clean air act beginning to come forward from the government. We believe that it was fundamentally inadequate. We are not alone in that assessment. We proposed this alternative.

At the same time we realized that we were at a standoff here in this Parliament on the issue of climate change and that nothing seemed likely to be produced, no action was going to be taken because everyone was holding to their positions.

I asked the leaders of all the political parties and asked the Prime Minister, would he be willing to sit down in a special committee to consider how we could bring every party's best ideas forwar? I am glad that the committee was given the opportunity to meet.

There was lots of skepticism of course, but now that those meetings have concluded, all parties have submitted their ideas. No one received every measure they wanted to see in the legislation adopted, but virtually all parties have elements in that legislation they can call their own. It is coming back to the House of Commons if the Prime Minister authorizes that legislation and all that good work to come here for a vote.

I believe it is essential that this piece of legislation come here because otherwise Canadians are going to ask us what we are doing about the most important issue facing the climate.

In closing, if the Prime Minister chooses not to bring that legislation forward, at least we will have this bill, in order to continue the work, if it is sent on to committee as I hope it will be by these hon. members.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The time provided for debate has expired.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.