House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.


Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan


Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 13 petitions.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Norman Doyle Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, reporting Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171), without amendment.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Status of Women entitled “Spending Orientations for Status of Women Canada and other agencies”.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of constituents on protecting our children from sexual predators.

The petitioners have noted that organizations such as the Canadian Police Association, a number of provincial governments and a parliamentary committee have all called for raising the age of consent. They have also noted that studies show that 14 and 15 year olds are most vulnerable when it comes to sexual exploitation. They are calling on Parliament to raise the age of protection on sexual consent to 16 years from the current 14 years.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan


Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members


Comments by Member for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont--Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on April 16, 2007, by the hon. member for Beaches—East York concerning remarks made by the hon. member for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Beaches—East York for bringing this matter to the attention of the House. I also wish to thank the hon. member for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont for his response.

In raising this matter, the hon. member for Beaches—East York stated that during statements by members on March 28, 2007 the hon. member for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont subjected the executive director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada to a personal attack. The remarks in question made particular reference to evidence given before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

I cannot, of course, deal with allegations arising from proceedings in committee. It is at the committee itself that the hon. member for Beaches—East York must raise any concerns regarding the questioning of a particular witness.

I have, however, reviewed with considerable care the statement in the House which gave rise to this point of order. In it the hon. member for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont commented on evidence given at a public meeting of a standing committee and therefore a matter of public record. He went on to express certain opinions about that evidence.

In the view of the Chair, his statement concerned issues of public policy rather than persons, notwithstanding the fact that a particular witness was mentioned by name. While some hon. members might dispute the opinions expressed by the hon. member for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont or quarrel with his interpretation, his remarks fall clearly within the broad parameters of the freedom of speech enjoyed by all members of the House.

Having said this, I would encourage hon. members to exercise great caution before referring to members of the public by name. I quote from page 524 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice:

Members are discouraged from referring by name to persons who are not Members of Parliament and who do not enjoy parliamentary immunity, except in extraordinary circumstances when the national interest calls for the naming of an individual.

Mr. Speaker Fraser elaborated this principle in a ruling delivered on May 26, 1987, in which he said:

I am sure that all hon. Members would agree that we have a responsibility to protect the innocent, not only from outright slander, but from any slur directly or indirectly implied.

It is incumbent upon all members to exercise fairness with respect to those who are not in a position to defend themselves. That being said, the Chair finds no grounds for further action in the present case.

I thank the hon. member for Beaches—East York again for having brought this matter to the attention of the Chair.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC


That the House call on the government to set fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets as soon as possible so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol, a prerequisite for the establishment, as expeditiously as possible, of a carbon exchange in Montréal.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today on this Bloc Québécois opposition day to discuss the Kyoto protocol and the importance of setting fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets for ourselves in Canada. Hopefully, this motion will also inspire the government to establish a Canadian climate exchange, which we feel should be located in Montreal.

The motion of the Bloc Québécois reads as follows:

That the House call on the government to set fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets as soon as possible so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol, a prerequisite for the establishment, as expeditiously as possible, of a carbon exchange in Montréal.

The Bloc Québécois' motion is another of many that have been developed and introduced by the Bloc Québécois in the last 10 years. We have to remember that this protocol, which was signed and agreed to by the international community in 1997, was the first step in an international effort to ensure that the countries in the industrialized world, working in common but each in its own way, would impose a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within their own borders.

The Bloc Québécois was in Kyoto in 1997. The Bloc Québécois got an accurate picture of the state of the environment on this planet. And then we came back here, to the House of Commons, and sounded the alarm, not only to Canadian parliamentarians, but to the entire population of Quebec and Canada, calling on the federal government to act expeditiously, in 1997, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within Canada's borders. We did not leave it at that in 1997. In Quebec we initiated a broad coalition, initiated also by the young people of Quebec, calling on the federal government to ratify the Kyoto protocol as quickly as possible. It was as a result of that initiative in Quebec, which the Bloc Québécois supported, that several years later the Canadian government got on board with what the Bloc Québécois was calling for.

Between 1997 and 2000 we had a federal government whose only goal was to advance the interests of the west and of the economic base of Alberta, the oil industry, a heavy producer of greenhouse gas emissions. We are well aware that while the oil industry is the cornerstone of Alberta's energy policy, Quebec's manufacturing industry was in danger of being the first victim of the federal approach in the years that followed, the goal of which was quite simply to penalize Quebec in the overall effort to reduce greenhouse gases in Canada.

We must recall the facts. While Quebec, with Manitoba, was preparing and presenting one of the first plans to combat climate change in Canada, the federal government was sitting on its hands. Remember Quebec was one of the first provinces to take action in the fight against climate change. What we are essentially calling for today is more fairness in the approach that will be presented by the federal government in the days or weeks to come.

As a result of its actions, Quebec will be able to present to the international community, and to Canadians, some of the best greenhouse gas reduction figures in Canada, since we have succeeded in limiting the increase in our emissions to approximately 6% as compared to more than 26% or 27% for Canada.

It has been shown that when we act and decide to implement a policy, a plan and effective programs to fight climate change, we can achieve the greenhouse gas emission objectives.

Today, the government is proposing that we set intensity targets. The reason we put forward an opposition day motion today is to send the government a clear message: we want absolute targets for greenhouse gas reduction, which result in real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We do not want to support this federal approach which would take into account the growth in oil production and in the oil sands sector when setting greenhouse gas reduction targets.

We believe that the only acceptable reference is the one in the Kyoto protocol. It requires an absolute reduction of 6% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. This is what we are asking for in this motion. Let us not forget that over the next few days, the federal government will try to persuade us, with its intensity targets, that it has rigorous and strict greenhouse gas reduction regulations for the major polluters and industrial emitters, which are primarily concentrated in western Canada.

It is important to understand the situation: a 15% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions based on an intensity approach represents a 179% increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the case of the oil sands sector alone.

This government has a legal and a moral obligation to respect the principles set out in the Kyoto protocol and not to let the public think that the targets in place will enable Canada to meet its international commitments. The reality is that these intensity-based reductions will have the effect of increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector by approximately 46%. The public has not been taken in . This past Sunday in Montreal they sent a clear message: they want a real reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a real reduction achieved through clearly established absolute greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. This is the only solid means of bringing us in line with Kyoto protocol requirements in order to preserve our environment and develop our economy.

Not only will these intensity-based targets not improve the state of our environment, but there is also a risk of their compromising one of the most powerful tools of the Kyoto protocol, namely the creation of a carbon exchange. The creation of an emission credit exchange system and a climate exchange is among the most powerful tools available to us. It will enable us to meet our international commitments, while providing worthwhile prospects to Quebec businesses, which will be able to sell and buy greenhouse gas emission credits on the Canadian, European and international markets. Quebec will be able to sell credits because many businesses have successfully reduced their greenhouse gas emissions. Those, in my opinion, are important tools for developing our economy.

Moreover, an analysis by Richard Kelertas, forestry product sector analyst for Dundee Securities, in the April 7 issue of Journal Les Affaires has indicated that the creation of a well organized carbon credit negotiation system—perhaps as early as 2008—might result in a marked rise in the worth of a number of Canadian forestry companies.

Contrary to what the government would have us believe, protecting the environment and establishing real greenhouse gas reduction targets will not hurt our economy. Rather, this will enable many businesses and industrial sectors in Canada and Quebec to reposition themselves and create major economic opportunities.

That being said, we must read what Mr. Kelertas wrote. What is a well-organized system? It is one in which the targets we set and the system we create are compatible with existing foreign markets.

The European example is probably the best one available. Europe is working toward the Kyoto protocol targets and will probably achieve them. We believe that by complying with the targets, Europe will limit the protocol's economic impact to less than 1% of the gross domestic product. Reports of the European Commission have made this clear. That means it is possible, here in Canada, as in Europe, to both comply with the Kyoto protocol and limit its economic impact.

Clearly, this proves that this week's analysis by the Minister of the Environment does not hold water. This proves that the premises on which he based his economic analysis of the Kyoto protocol are biased. We must establish carbon credit trading mechanisms.

Where should the exchange be located? It should be located in Montreal. Why Montreal? Simply because this specialized area is already part of Montreal's derivatives sector. In 1999, in Canada, an agreement was signed with the Toronto Stock Exchange that left spot trading to Toronto and derivatives to the Montreal Exchange. Emission credits and environmental markets are derivatives.

Of course, in recent weeks, we have heard that the Toronto Stock Exchange would like to be the site of this derivatives market. Toronto would like to have the climate exchange. However, under this 1999 agreement, Montreal is entitled to the climate exchange because it specializes in derivatives. Montreal did not simply let itself be guided by an administrative agreement or courted by certain markets. It went further and, in December 2005, decided to sign an agreement with the Chicago Stock Exchange to form important north-south economic ties in connection with the climate exchange. I believe that the Montreal Exchange is better suited, simply because it has this expertise and experience, and could play an important role.

Luc Bertrand, president and CEO of the Montreal Exchange, has said that combining the Montreal Exchange's unique position in Canada's financial markets and CCX's global leadership in environmental markets will result in innovation for the benefit of all Canadians and the environment.

There is definite interest in creating this emission credit trading system in Canada, because it will create numerous job opportunities. But the federal government's inaction in recent weeks is hurting Canadian companies like Biothermica, which does business abroad and is just waiting for absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets and a national registry that will enable this credit exchange system to be set up, in order to deal on the international market. But instead of announcing absolute targets, the minister came to Montreal yesterday to present catastrophic greenhouse gas reduction scenarios. He announced that hydro would cost 60% to 65% more in Quebec.

The federal government does not know much about the reality of energy in Quebec, where 95% of electricity is hydroelectricity. To extend its fear campaign into Quebec, on principles that are not prevalent in Quebec, is to mislead the public. This fearmongering is unacceptable. That is why we are presenting this motion today, because it is important. Before the government announces its reduction targets a few days from now, we are sending a clear message to the federal government: we are demanding that the Kyoto protocol be respected. We want absolute targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We want an emissions trading system. We want to create opportunities for Quebec and for Canada and to protect our environment at the same time.

On this side of the House, we have made constructive, concrete proposals that can work well with the international proposals that have been made so far. The only thing the government has presented is a fear campaign.

By trying to kill the Kyoto protocol, by rejecting its greenhouse gas reduction targets, by telling us it has no intention of using the mechanisms in the protocol, the government is simply telling us that it does not want to protect the planet. We have to make that clear and we will continue to be vigilant. Furthermore, Canada may want to refuse to honour its international commitments, but I can assure the Canadian public that Quebec does not intend, as the federal government has done so far, to reject the Kyoto protocol.

We have implemented a plan that allows us to respect our greenhouse gas reduction targets. The minister said to me last week that Quebec received $350 million and that we should be happy about that. Let us not forget that the federal government's approach in the coming weeks and days will not get Quebec $350 million ahead because if we weaken the foundation of Quebec's economy and its manufacturing sector, Quebec will suffer even heavier losses.

Finally, with today's motion, we are simply asking that the polluter-pay principle apply instead of polluter-paid.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a question to my colleague who has just spoken. I sat with him on the environment committee and have a great deal of respect, as I am sure the House does, for his insights into matters related to Kyoto and in particular what he has spoken to, which is the matter of setting up an emissions credit trading system that would be effective in meeting the objectives of Kyoto.

I am drawn to the point he has made with respect to the location of an emissions credit system that would be administered through the Montreal Exchange as opposed to Toronto's. I do not want this debate to descend into one of city versus city. That is not the intent or the objective of my question. The objective of my question is to establish clearly what would be the best regime and where a commodities type of trading regime would be most effective.

When we were discussing the emissions credit system, there were concerns raised about investing in credits that would simply be buying hot air, in particular from former Soviet countries and Russia, which are much behind with respect to their industrial and technology applications to reduce carbon.

Given that our economy, as Europe is finding, is so integrated with that of the United States and given that we should be closely cooperating, not setting competitive mechanisms in place, does the member feel that the Montreal location would be better suited to working in the North American context as to setting a price for carbon and as to making it most effective as the administrative tool for meeting our Kyoto objectives?

Does he feel that Toronto's exchange or other exchanges across the country would have no role to play in that? We are talking about a matter of national policy, not establishing one mechanism in one particular geographic or regional part of the country. What would be the most effective approach to that?

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to provoke a quarrel between Montreal and Toronto any more than my hon. colleague. However, the reality is that there is only one stock exchange that would qualify in the context of a climate exchange, and this is based on an agreement signed amongst Canadian exchange partners in 1999.

Montreal is not in competition with Toronto. Montreal is simply the only exchange platform authorized to accommodate this new exchange. As long as this agreement exists, it is not a matter of competition. It is a fact. Montreal is the only exchange platform in Canada that can accommodate this exchange. Incidentally, this is a significant market. We estimate its value at $70 billion.

I do appreciate my hon. colleague's question. In recent weeks, the Minister of the Environment tried to suggest that we were planning to ask the government to use taxpayers' money to purchase credits from other countries. That is not what we are asking. Nor are we asking the government to become involved in the exchange of what is known as hot air credits. In fact, we are simply suggesting that the government establish an emissions trading system within Canada, along with a well organized registry, as called for by the forestry industry, and an exchange platform in Montreal, because it is the only stock exchange that is qualified at this time to accommodate these exchanges. Thus, like Europe, we would be able to meet our Kyoto protocol commitments while minimizing the economic impact.

Personally, I feel this exchange model should please the Conservatives. The free market approach cannot be applied only when the Conservatives decide it is suitable; it could very easily apply to a climate exchange. We have put forward a plan of some interest, which, at the very least, deserves to be debated. Furthermore, what we need is practical action to alleviate the unavoidable and inevitable economic impact of enforcing Kyoto within our borders.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie a question that could be considered related.

Yesterday, the government announced $200 million for ethanol production, a process that is not very environmentally friendly. It is far from being a panacea. When we look at its production in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, I think it is worrisome. The $200 million may be a good thing for some producers but I would like to ask the member what he thinks of this announcement in relation to the motion he has tabled this morning.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

I think it would be a serious mistake to put all our eggs in one basket, that is in ethanol. In my opinion, there are two problems. First, real energy gains may not be realized if we choose only this approach. Second, we must realize that the production of corn as the basic resource for ethanol production requires the significant use of pesticides that could leach into groundwater or even nearby waterways.

Of course this approach does help develop the biofuel sector. However, what we should be doing is ensuring that vehicles currently on the market are more fuel efficient. The technology does exist. Automobile manufacturing standards could readily be amended and harmonized with European or Californian standards, which would put more fuel efficient vehicles on our roads and lower greenhouse gas emissions, rather than putting all our eggs in the ethanol basket.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Langley B.C.


Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague and good friend, a member I highly respect, the member for Louis-Hébert.

On behalf of the government, I want to thank the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for coming forward with his motion today.

Like the hon. member, I believe Canadians want real action on the environment. Canadians want to see climate change addressed and harmful greenhouse gas emissions reduced. They also desperately want to see greenhouse gases and air pollution reduced so that the air we breathe is cleaner.

Canadians demand leadership from their government for both a clean environment and a growing economy. Canadians also want their elected representatives and their government to act responsibly on both fronts.

In 1997 the Liberal government agreed to the Kyoto protocol. In the following nine years in government, the Liberal Party did nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. While it promised big cuts to those harmful emissions, it instead sat back and watched them rise dramatically.

Let us consider the evidence. In 1997 when the Liberal government signed on to the Kyoto protocol, Canada was 22% above its target, but the good news was that we had 15 years to make it. By the time Canadians chose to change their government in 2006, Canada was already 35% above the target.

We accepted our international obligations and we will make our very best efforts. We are big believers in the need for international action.

The government has said very clearly that it is supportive of Canada remaining committed to the principles and objectives of the United Nations framework convention on climate change and the Kyoto protocol.

We would like to see more cooperation and leadership among all major emitting countries, particularly the G-8+5, which includes not only the big western economies like Britain, France, Germany and the United States, but also the big emerging economies like India and China.

Our government was elected to make decisions. The global challenge of climate change and global warming requires meaningful, decisive action. Reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution also demands leadership and resolve.

Already we have taken significant steps that not only prove our commitment to action but will also make a difference in Canada's environment for the health of all Canadians. We have unveiled a wide range of initiatives to promote clean energy and clean transportation, the two biggest sources of greenhouse gases and pollution.

We are increasing the use of renewable fuel through regulation and supporting the growth of our biofuels industry.

We are providing financial and tax incentives to Canadians to drive eco-friendly vehicles.

We will regulate mandatory fuel consumption standards on the vehicles that Canadians buy.

We are supporting the growth of renewable energy resources like wind and tidal power.

We are providing incentives to Canadians to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

We have partnered with the province of Alberta to create an ecoenergy carbon capture and storage task force that will recommend the best ways to deploy technology to capture carbon dioxide from the oil sands and store it deep underground.

We have provided $1.5 billion to the provinces and territories to support concrete energy efficiency technology and other projects they have identified to achieve real reduction in both air pollution and greenhouse gases.

Budget 2007 also demonstrates our commitment to the environment with an investment of $4.5 billion to clean our air and water, to manage the legacy of chemical substances, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, most importantly, to protect our natural environment.

Combined with over $4.7 billion in investments made since 2006, the resulting investments in environmental protection total over $9 billion.

However, these investments alone will not drive the changes in energy efficiency, technology, innovations and investments in industrial facilities that must occur if Canada is to do its part to reduce the global burden of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Our focus is now on implementing tough but realistic regulations to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution from large industrial sources while ensuring that our economy continues to prosper.

We are exploring the use of emissions trading as part of those regulations. I would remind the House it is the private sector that makes those choices and it is the private sector that should provide any trading infrastructure.

There is nothing that says there must only be one exchange here in Canada. In Europe, for example, there are several carbon exchanges. None was established by a government. I believe it was Jean-Charles Robilliard, the spokesman for the Montreal Stock Exchange, who said that there was room for both exchanges to operate in emissions trading.

Our government cannot take responsibility for the inaction and mistakes made by the previous Liberal government but we will take responsibility for cleaning up the mess that we inherited from the Liberals. By doing nothing to reduce the harmful greenhouse gas emissions, the previous government focused far too much on the economy.

While industry pushes for minimal action and the environmentalists push for perfection, the problem is getting worse. It is time for Canada's government to act, and we are acting. Soon we will unveil our regulatory framework for industrial air emissions. Our strategy will ensure real reductions in both greenhouse gases and air pollution.

We will include tougher rules and regulations that will require Canada's industry to reduce pollution that threatens the health of Canadians and that causes climate change. For the first time in our country, we will have a strategy, one that is real, concrete and realistic for reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution.

Of course, Canadians will need to make some adjustments. We all need to take on more responsibility. It is something we believe Canadians are prepared to do. Our citizens want urgent action on the environment and they are ready for some tough but fair medicine.

However, how much is too much? Where do we draw the line? Canadians expect us to deal with these issues with responsibility and balance. We also need a balanced approach that reduces both greenhouse gases and preserves Canadian economic growth.

Will everyone like our approach? Probably not. Some will say that it is too weak, while some in industry will say that it is too tough. Someone must take the lead, though, and that is the responsibility of the Government of Canada. Leadership means making tough choices. We were elected to make those tough choices on behalf of Canadians and not to duck them.

In closing, I want to remind the House once again that we agree wholeheartedly that urgent action on greenhouse gases is needed and we will be coming forward shortly with our plan.

I also want to say again that the government supports the principles and objectives of the Kyoto protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Therefore, we will be supporting this motion. As for carbon markets, I have indicated in our notice of intent that we support emissions trading, and the motion does not specify that Montreal must be the only carbon market in Canada.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was a bit surprised to hear the speech by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, particularly towards the end when he said that there could be other carbon exchanges in Canada.

Today, we were expecting the government to recognize the important role that the Montreal Stock Exchange plays with regard to derivatives.

Here is what Luc Bertrand said to the International Finance Club of Montreal on April 21, 2005:

It will not come as a shock to any of you if I tell you today that we have no intention of letting anyone take our place. We have no intention of giving up and letting go wherever it may be the expertise, the know-how and the leadership that Montreal and the province of Quebec have acquired in the area of derivatives. Since 1999, the Montreal Stock Exchange has clearly proven that it is in a better position than anyone else in Canada to serve and develop the derivatives market.

We would have expected the government to tell us that indeed Montreal had a good project and that it was an authority in this area under the 1999 agreement. We would like the government to recognize that this agreement signed with the Chicago Stock Exchange puts Montreal and the Montreal Stock Exchange in a better position than any other stock exchange in Canada.

Can the government and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment recognize that Montreal is best suited to be the home of the climate market in Canada?

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the motion reads:

That the House call on the government to set fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets as soon as possible so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto protocol, a prerequisite for the establishment, as expeditiously as possible, of a carbon exchange in Montreal.

We agree with this. The motion does not say only in Montreal. It is common knowledge that Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg have all expressed interest. He knows well that there could be multiple people dealing with carbon trading right here in Canada.

We do support the motion as it is written and Montreal would be a contender for the market but it could be Montreal, Winnipeg and Toronto. However, we are a democracy and we are a free market. The opportunities to have trading are there and the market will decide.

I am quite surprised that the member would want to have it mandated by government that it could be only one exchange. We are a free market and the market will decide.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up on the parliamentary secretary's closing comments in his short speech. I think I heard him refer to Canada's new government apparently being fully committed to the Kyoto protocol and, more important, the Kyoto process. I would like to put to him, on behalf of Canadians, a couple of points and get his reaction.

First, the parliamentary secretary's new government was caught giving instructions to senior officials in Nairobi to undermine the international process during its first ministerial incarnation. Then, of course, it sent in faulty reports, misleading the international community about how much we were spending in this country on actual climate change activities.

Yesterday, the Minister of the Environment ruled out participation in international carbon markets, which will seriously penalize Canadian large industrial emitters by driving up the cost of compliance and making us very uncompetitive in the international markets.

Could the parliamentary secretary help us understand in Canada how the government can possibly be taken seriously when it says that it is committed to the Kyoto protocol and to the Kyoto process?

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, this again is from a member of the Liberal Party that signed us onto the Kyoto commitment and then did nothing about that. We saw greenhouse gas emissions go up to 35%. This is also from a member that was pleased with the announcements of a $100 billion tax increase on Canadians which was a carbon tax in the budget.

The hon. member asked about Nairobi. The minister invited members of the opposition parties to go to Nairobi with her. She was president of the Kyoto conference at that time and she spoke and shared with the delegates in Nairobi the condition in which Canada found itself, being the new government, which was that we were 35% above the Kyoto target because the previous government had done nothing. She did invite the delegates of the opposition party to attend.

We have remained committed. We are now up to date. The former Liberal government was behind in the reporting on the Kyoto responsibilities and in the funding. We are now up to date on our reporting and our funding.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am taking this opportunity to take part in the debate on the motion presented by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, asking the government to set absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets, so as to meet the objectives of the Kyoto protocol and, ultimately, to establish a carbon exchange in Montreal.

Greenhouse gas emissions in Canada have constantly been increasing over the past 10 years and now exceed by 35% the targets set under the Kyoto protocol. This is a direct result of the inaction of the previous Liberal government, which claims to be the great protector of the environment.

More than 13 years ago, when it had the opportunity to produce results, it missed the target. In order to reach the targets set by the previous government in the Kyoto protocol, Canada would have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 33% for each of the years covered by the commitment made under the Kyoto protocol.

As the Minister of the Environment said last week, before the Senate committee, achieving such drastic reductions over such a short period of time would require very compelling measures that would have a significant impact on the Canadian economy. We are talking about increased production costs for businesses and the possible loss of 275,000 jobs, not to mention higher energy costs, including natural gas, electricity and gasoline.

We know the Liberals have tried to scare Canadians by misrepresenting the report but the facts are clear and have been independently validated by some leading Canadian economists and experts.

Some members of the opposition have also tried to mislead Canadians. For example, they have said that the report issued by U.K. economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, debunks the report on Bill C-288. Sadly, they are wrong.

While the Stern review is an important study that we should all read, it focused on the cost of global climate change action over the next 30 to 50 years. It has almost nothing to do with the cost Canada would face to implement Kyoto over the next five years, which Bill C-288 would require by law.

Our report on Bill C-288 takes into consideration Canada's unique circumstance. It is the only up to date report in existence that reflects the reality of our geography, demographics and economy.

Some opposition members would want us to ignore the socio-economic effects of attempts to reach the targets of the Kyoto protocol. However, as a government, we must act responsibly and adopt measures that are based on a balanced commitment between protecting the environment and managing the economy.

We recognize that the environment is the number one concern for Canadians. We share that concern and this is why, as soon as the new Government of Canada took office, we immediately introduced a number of initiatives that will not only clean up our environment, but will also protect the health of Canadians.

In October, we stated our intention to develop and implement regulations and other measures to reduce air pollution and tackle the issue of climate change.

The government is working to set targets for industrial greenhouse gas emission reductions that will be more aggressive than those proposed by previous governments. We are working on setting short term targets for industrial air pollutants, reductions that are among the most aggressive in the world.

Rather than do as the previous Liberal government did and announce unrealistic and unreachable targets, our government is focusing on setting targets that will strengthen Canada's long-term competitiveness. These targets are a major positive step forward in the fight to reduce dangerous emissions, air pollutants and greenhouse gases.

Canada's new government will soon announce a regulatory framework that will give industry clear guidance for reducing greenhouse gases. The framework will include emissions credit trading. Currently, there is nothing preventing Canadian exchanges from creating carbon exchanges similar to those now operating in Chicago or in Europe.

Canadians will soon learn more about our environmental plan, which will set achievable targets to improve the quality of the air Canadians breathe and enable Canada to take its place as an international leader in the fight against climate change. Our plan will include a commitment to developing integrated regulations governing outdoor air pollutants and greenhouse gases. It will set performance standards concerning products that may release air pollutants when they are in use.

Our approach will avoid regulatory overlap and support the development of national standards to eliminate emissions into the atmosphere. This government is committed to making environmental progress while managing the economy. We must ensure that regional economies will not be annihilated in the process. We are determined to find solutions without creating new problems. We will establish mandatory reduction targets for big industries that produce greenhouse gases. These targets will be strict and will become stricter over the years. As a result, Canada will achieve absolute greenhouse gas emissions reductions, reductions that all Canadians and opposition members will be able to support.

This government is already headed in the right direction, I believe, in view of all the environmental initiatives it has introduced over the last few months. These initiatives bear out our promise to provide solutions that will protect the health of Canadians and their environment. We obviously take our promise very seriously, as can be seen in the implementation of financial and tax incentives to encourage Canadians to drive green vehicles and the support provided to sources of renewable energy, such as wind and tidal power. We are also giving Canadians incentives to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

Recently in the 2007 budget, we announced a $4.5 billion investment to help clean up our air and water, manage chemical substances, protect our natural environment and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This investment plus more than $4.7 billion in others add up in total to more than a $9 billion investment in the environment.

As we have said on many occasions, Canadians are very interested in their environment. They constantly demand that steps be taken to clean it up. Before our new government took power, though, nothing was done in response to these demands. Now our government is taking concrete action, as can be seen in the examples I just enumerated. We know, though, that a lot more needs to be done in order to ensure that future generations have a clean environment.

Air pollutants and greenhouse gases have many sources in common, and that is why we are taking a coordinated, integrated approach to protecting the health of Canadians and their environment. The federal government not only intends to make major reductions in emissions but promises as well to monitor emissions and report on them in a completely transparent, public, responsible way in order to ensure that the announced reductions are actually achieved.

Regardless of their political allegiance, all members of a government should strive to achieve the objective of improving and protecting the quality of the air we breathe.

Everyone has a responsibility to take action on climate change, and the Canada's new government is clearly doing this.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for taking part in this important debate on the Bloc Québécois opposition day. I have a few questions for him, including some questions about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Does the member believe that there should be absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets rather than intensity-based targets? In other words, in a future Canadian plan, should we generate real greenhouse gas reductions, as the Kyoto protocol calls for, or should we favour intensity targets, which give polluters a break and spare industry and large emitters of greenhouse gases?

Should we favour an approach that calls for absolute emission reductions, or should we favour an intensity-based approach?

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that, with Canada's greenhouse gas emission levels currently more than 35% over the Kyoto targets, we are a long way from reduction targets. In addition, the Canadian economy is continuing to increase its greenhouse gas emissions. Still, we support and believe in the principle of Kyoto and assure Canadians that we will work to reduce greenhouse gases throughout Canada.

I would remind my colleague, who sits with me on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, that we heard dozens of witnesses. We asked them whether it was possible to meet the Kyoto targets by 2012, the proposed deadline. They all agreed—and I could let him give the answer himself—that it was impossible to meet that target by 2012. That concludes what I had to say on this issue.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Bloc for moving this motion and for his question to my hon. Conservative colleague. It was a very clear and specific question. Perhaps I will ask it in the other official language and we will have a clearer response.

Does my colleague's party favour an absolute target, or does his party favour intensity based targets? The reason he and his party need to provide a clear answer on this question is because the whole premise of not just the motion that has been presented to us today but the premise of emissions trading, of exchanges, that was suggested by the Montreal group, used in Chicago, and predominantly used in Europe, is only based on absolute targets.

We simply cannot support intensity targets, which I know his party has said it supports many times in public and in testimony and also support an exchange as has been described in Montreal at the same time. It is like saying we support the Geneva Convention and then hand over prisoners for torture. We cannot support the two things at the same time.

The government has said it will support this motion. Certainly, my hon. colleagues sound like they are supportive of it. If we look at this particular motion, absolute versus intensity are two completely philosophically and practically different options for the country.

My last point is that the companies and the witnesses the member spoke of told us very clearly that they need clear rules in order to do the investments required to reduce greenhouse gas production. Without those clear rules, they simply will not make the investments.

I have a very clear question for my colleague. Does his party favour absolute targets, yes or no? If yes, maybe he can describe what those are.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.


Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, announcements will be made this week about the reduction targets we will have in Canada. I therefore ask my colleague to be patient for another day or two.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.


David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this morning to speak to the Bloc Québecois motion tabled today. I am hoping it will lead to a very fulsome and honest debate. I am not overly encouraged by some of the things I am hearing from the government, but I am pleased, as I said, to rise to speak to this motion put forward by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

Let me preface my comments today by saying that I was very disappointed by the environment minister's remarks last week before a Senate committee examining Bill C-288, the Kyoto implementation act. The minister's remarks dealt with the subject we are debating today: the need to meet the objectives of the Kyoto protocol.

Bill C-288 restates Canada's commitment to the Kyoto process. The government signed the treaty. Parliament ratified it.

Now that Bill C-288 has passed through the House of Commons, the democratically elected House of Commons has shown twice and for all time that we are fully committed to this goal.

The minister's comments were defeatist. His confused rhetoric talked about a “more realistic” way forward. What he meant was that he is not willing to show any leadership whatsoever. He could not get the job done and neither could his predecessor who was summarily dispatched for failure for doing anything in the first year of this government's short life.

The new minister tabled a dishonest economic analysis that refuted a plan to meet Kyoto that no one is proposing anywhere in the world.

If the government were serious about analyzing economic possibilities, it would not have done it on the back of a napkin. The Department of Finance would have been engaged and would have done the job, or at least would have been involved in some small way. But that was not the case at all. Its analysis would have included benefits, as well as costs, to come up with a reasonable conclusion and we would have seen that Kyoto is not only feasible but economically sound.

We should not overlook the fact that the Conservatives have been trying for years to prevent the implementation of concrete measures to fight climate change. We are asking the Prime Minister to ensure that Canada joins the rest of the world in significantly reducing carbon emissions. Let us remember that, when the Prime Minister was the leader of the official opposition, he wrote a letter to his supporters to raise money and to “block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto accord”. In his letter, the Prime Minister makes his views on the Kyoto protocol perfectly clear: “Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations”.

Yes, the Prime Minister described Kyoto, the protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by 168 nation states, as a socialist plot. It is hard to believe. It is actually outrageous, ludicrous and ridiculous.

There has been some very serious scientific and economic work done only recently. Scientists have established that global warming is real and caused in large part by human activity. Economists have worked to demonstrate what strategies we can take to fight climate change.

In keeping with past behaviour among those who would deny climate change and drag their feet, it is interesting how, when we look back at the familiar pattern of conduct over the years, those who would have us not respond to such environmental challenges rallied first around the case of acid rain when Inco in Canada was the largest single source of acid rain, causing emissions in North America. Inco, once regulated, went on to become one of the most efficient companies in North America, leading the way and taking credit now for significant environmental achievement.

Then it was followed with the United States clean air act and the example there, where U.S. electrical utilities denied the need to take action and hollered and shouted to the sky that the atmosphere itself would collapse if they had to put a price on their emissions. We now know that industry's estimates, in terms of the costs per tonne of acid rain causing emissions, were $1,500. The United States Environmental Protection Agency was predicting $750. Only several years later, when these tonnes of pollution were being traded in a domestic emissions trading system in the United States under the U.S. clean air act, the real cost was about $100 per tonne.

Finally, the third example of a familiar pattern of conduct is the Montreal protocol and our global efforts to eliminate CFCs. This engaged one major company, DuPont, that went on to eliminate the lion's share of the problem and became a significant environmental player in the industrial world around the world. It went on to reduce its greenhouse gases.

What is interesting were the comments made by the Prime Minister himself on March 22, less than a month ago. I quote the Prime Minister when he said:

In 1990 my predecessor, Brian Mulroney, convinced the US government to sign a treaty requiring industry to drastically cut sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions.

The alarmists said this would bring about a terrible recession.

Quite the contrary, the North American economy thrived, posting one of the longest and strongest periods of growth in history.

That was said by the Prime Minister of Canada four short weeks ago, just before he dispatched his Minister of the Environment to use shock and awe communications tactics to try to frighten Canadians into believing we could not achieve our Kyoto protocol targets.

The House will recall, and so will Canadians, the Stern report, which was conducted by the esteemed former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern, the man now teaching at the London School of Economics, my alma mater. In his time at the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern was hardly ever conceived of or seen as a socialist economist who would pursue a socialist plot to strip the north and the industrialized countries of their wealth.

Sir Stern's widely accepted report concluded that 10% of global output could be lost if we allowed our actions to raise temperatures by 5° over the coming century. In other words, if I can paraphrase the 681 page report of Sir Nicholas Stern, we are looking at the mother and the father of all market corrections if we wait until we are forced to take real substantive climate action.

I have long said that we must stop the fiction, that we can continue to expect our biosphere to assimilate unlimited amounts of waste without consequence. Much of our economic activity is financed by the DNA bank of nature, where the accumulated capital of 500 million years of evolution is on deposit. We need a new economics that values and in many cases gives a dollar value to our natural capital.

We measure our financial capital. We measure our social capital. We even measure our human capital. How well educated we are. It is time for us now to move, take the final step and start to assign a value to our natural capital, and Kyoto is essential to this evolution.

The World Bank reports that carbon markets were worth $10 billion in 2005 and slated to triple in value this past year. We are looking at a market of hundreds of billions of dollars at the very least. According to Deutsche Bank, one of the largest investment banks in the world ranked by revenues and profits, a fully operational international carbon market would surpass in size every single stock exchange on the planet today.

This is why the Minister of the Environment received a pointed letter from the president of the Toronto Exchange, Richard Nesbitt, on December 21, four months ago, in which he made it clear that Canada must be involved in an international emissions trading system.

We must not turn our back on free market mechanisms. Free markets are well known for encouraging behaviour in the most cost efficient way possible. I can say that the opposition has been in favour of this approach every step of the way, provided of course that emissions reductions can be properly verified.

However, the minister has made it clear as recently as yesterday, once again, that Canadian businesses will remain on the outside looking in as long as the Conservatives have their way. The government by denying that there is a problem will ensure that Canadian businesses and average citizens end up paying much more than they have to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

In short, we will become, under the present government, policy and price takers, not policy and price makers, something heretofore reserved almost exclusively for the governments of Australia and the United States of America. Is it only coincidence that the only country not to sign the G-8+5 memorandum, just three short weeks ago, was the United States, trying not to participate in the multilateral and emerging Kyoto based international emissions trading systems?

Every family understands the importance of a budget. Income and expenditures must be balanced. If we save, we can invest in our future. It is time to adopt such a strategy in order to reduce carbon emissions.

A balanced carbon budget is an innovative and bold plan enabling large industrial emitters to reduce, in a tangible and significant way, their carbon emissions. Our plan provides a concrete and effective strategy for significant reductions in carbon emissions. It will also serve to stimulate the development of green technologies here in Canada. We know that our businesses will seize the opportunity to promote environmental technologies and that Canada will seize the opportunity to become a green superpower.

Our companies are aching to take advantage of a new green economy, but only if they have certainty and clarity. They need to know in which direction our country is moving, especially those that have moved so aggressively to reduce their emissions of those greenhouse gases since 1990, like the pulp and paper sector in our country, which is already 44% below its 1990 collective greenhouse gas emissions, using 1990 as the baseline.

It has been three and a half weeks since Liberal, Bloc Québécois and NDP amendments to the clean air act were passed to set tough but realistic targets for absolute emissions reductions.

Yesterday the minister was saying that he still had not made up his mind about whether we would ever see the clean air and climate change act again. However, he certainly made up his mind to spend millions of dollars hiring economists to mount a case to frighten Canadians to the greatest extent possible, telling us again what we could not do, rather then what we could do.

Meanwhile, behind closed doors this last weekend, he was saying that the clean air act was dead. Then yesterday, in the national media, he denied having said so. That is no way to provide certainty. That is no way to provide clarity. That is no way to provide leadership.

The retrofitted clean air and climate change act has so much to offer. Cast in the form of a national carbon budget, our commitment to the Kyoto process will allow us to create a green economy, an economy that profits from the move, the shift to sustainability.

We have already achieved substantial reductions in emissions on an intensity basis, something the government continues to pursue and refuses to acknowledge that if we adjust for growth in the economy, that is, if we look at greenhouse gas emissions on an intensity basis, our emissions fell over 10% from 1993 to 2004. Now we know the reductions have to be in absolute terms. It is non-negotiable. We are not addressing climate change unless we are reducing the amount of CO2 and CO2 equivalent gases that we pump into the atmosphere.

We must act now. We cannot fight climate change with a strategy that deliberately plans for an increase, rather than a decrease, in pollution.

This government wants to make Canadians believe that it is doing what is required to combat climate change, but it is incapable of making the necessary decisions.

It is time to give industry a carbon budget and to develop a policy that establishes the financial incentives required for this budget to work. That is exactly what we did with our amendments to Bill C-30.

Yesterday in the House the Prime Minister almost had me in guffaws of laughter when he actually said that if the opposition had a plan to meet Kyoto it should table it. Members can check Hansard. He actually said that.

The plan that we have delivered for the country, a positive, workable strategy to fight greenhouse gases in a cost effective way, is in the government's own clean air and climate change act. The government asked for a solution. It referred the bill to a special, powerful legislative committee to have it completely reworked.

It was reworked. The Conservatives got a plan, a real made in Canada plan, from the opposition parties. It makes real reductions, absolute ones, not intensity based. It puts a price on carbon. It sets short term, mid term and long term targets for the country.

It does everything that the government should have been working to do from day one, and it goes further, because for months the government has been trying to frighten Canadians, misleading them into believing that this involves somehow transferring billions of dollars to purchase hot air. The bill was fixed again. Hot air purchases from any jurisdiction have been expressly ruled out.

Instead, we have had delays, we have had distractions and we have had excuses. I do not think it is a coincidence that the only speech the current Minister of the Environment has posted on the Environment Canada website in three months, actually four months now, is all about what we cannot do. It exaggerates the costs. It ignores the benefits. It is a vision that wants to fail. It is a defeatist speech.

This week, the government has once again promised us action, but I can tell members that we do not need regulation that ignores the principles of innovation and refuses to cooperate with 168 partners around the world. We need to buy into a system that leverages Canada's intellectual powerhouses: our research and development institutes, our universities, and our federal, provincial and municipal R and D.

There are massive billions of dollars of research, development and innovation in these intellectual powerhouses. We need to harness these powerhouses to move forward.

We know that we Canadians led the world as the driving force behind the Brundtland commission and the earth summit. Both of these were, of course, the foundations of the Kyoto protocol. It is time for us to take the reins of leadership again. We can become the clean energy superpower. We need to be able to deliver our know-how to the other 98% of the world. The opportunity is clearly there.

Thanks to Kyoto, markets elsewhere now price carbon. This integrates economic and environmental imperatives for the first time. Pricing carbon enhances measurement and management of a product that ought to be scarce: our emissions. As well, it allows private operations to efficiently invest to reduce emissions. However, it will not happen here with a fearmongering government that does not believe we need to act and get out in front of the issue.

I am here and my Liberal colleagues are on board because we will not accept defeatism. There will be costs, but there will also be great opportunities. We cannot afford to keep our foot off the pedal any longer.

Finally, let me say this for those who mischaracterize multilateral action as an unjustified transfer of billions of dollars offshore: they need to go back to biology 101. There is only one atmosphere, something I am regularly reminding the government of so that it can actually make the right choices.

Those are my comments. I look forward to the debate.

Opposition Motion--Greenhouse Gas Reduction TargetBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my colleague for taking part in this important debate. In connection with the motion we are debating today, I would like him to explain to us why it is important, today, to adopt absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets.

When it comes to implementing the Kyoto protocol, we have a duty to be clear to the people of Quebec and Canada so that we can commit to some real greenhouse gas reductions. According to several studies currently circulating within the federal government, a 15% intensity-based reduction would result in a 179% increase in greenhouse gases in the oil sands sector alone; and enforcement of an intensity-based 15% reduction would result in a 46% increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector.

Why is it important to adopt, here in Canada, absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets?