Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be following my colleague from British Columbia Southern Interior, our agriculture critic, who has spoken on Bill C-33, which is being directed through the agriculture committee. It is being run under the auspices of an being an agricultural bill, and in reality it is that, because it is a bill that directs $2 billion of the government's future spending toward the interests of farmers, not particularly toward the interest of the environment or the interests of Canada in how we are dealing with energy.
It is a response to a perceived need to support farmers. In the United States, it was perceived in that fashion. I think cooler heads are prevailing across the world, but biofuels will be a large part of the energy structure across the world.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit Brazil, where I talked with experts in the biofuels industry there. Brazil's biofuels industry is ramping up quickly. It has signed major contracts with Japan. The pressure on the biofuels industry is going to drive up the price of biofuels. There is no question about it. It is going to make a big difference across the world in what happens with this.
Some of the concerns expressed by my colleague about the degradation of farmland, pristine rainforest and jungle in Brazil are apt. That has taken place. Brazilians recognize that, but they have yet to deal with it.
One of the issues the Brazilians talked about was the opportunity to spread the development of biofuel technology into third world countries in marginal agricultural areas to promote the developing world. In some respects, we can see that it would be a very useful endeavour, whereby marginal land would be taken up in the proper fashion, with proper environmental concerns attached to it. But in most cases as we ramp up the price of biological products for energy, this will go to the best land.
If a farmer can produce corn and sell it for ethanol at a higher price than he can get when he produces corn for food, that is where he is going to go. If a farmer or an agricultural operation in Brazil or west Africa produces sugar cane, they are going to take the best land they can to produce the most sugar cane and to produce the biggest amount of ethanol.
Therefore, we are moving ourselves in a direction that really does not have a lot of hope for the world in the long term. In the short term, Canada needs to establish clear guidelines on how to deal with this industry. Problems are going to be created all over the world, but our country can be a leader in dealing with them correctly here.
I am the party's energy critic and tend to speak to these issues in a holistic sense. I try to look at how every energy transfer affects other things. Let us talk about biomass. When we put the expansion of energy into the biomass area, the pulp and paper industry gets quite concerned about it, because of course its product is now being valued more for energy than it is for pulp and paper.
Once again, when we look at energy in every form, we have to look at how it impacts everything else. It is not simply about establishing a special interest in the country. It is not simply about establishing a need in one sector and saying that this is the direction we should go in. We are investing $2 billion in this endeavour. That is more than we are putting into any other part of our greenhouse gas strategy at this time.
What are we going to do? We are going to require a 5% average renewable content in gasoline by 2010. Other regulations will require a 2% average renewable content in diesel and heating oil by 2012, once we show successfully that we can use this in diesel in Canadian environmental conditions. What does this actually mean?
When the minister spoke on this issue the other day, he said this would take the equivalent of one million cars off the road. I looked at those numbers and asked him what the percentage would be. He replied that it would be a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions. Therefore, if 5% is put into gasoline, we are going to get a 2% reduction in CO2 emissions.
Canadian vehicles produce about 100 million tonnes of CO2 every year. Two per cent of that is two million tonnes. The minister said four million tonnes. He is inflating those figures. Literature indicates that a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions is about the best we can get. Many people say it would only be 20%. Also, if every one of the 26 million drivers in this country has a car, only 500,000 cars would be reduced by this measure, not one million.
Therefore, we have a bit of rhetoric going on around this subject. I think this should be clarified. I hope that this subject and the issues around it will be discussed fully in committee.
What I really want to talk about here today is the need to put this in terms of a national energy strategy. Where does it fit? How does it work?
Interestingly, Saturday is the national day of action on energy, sponsored by the Council of Canadians. The council is joining with many groups, chief executive officers and people all over the country who are crying out for direction on the overall energy strategy of this country.
Are we getting good leadership from the government on this issue? No, we are not. We are getting the opposite. We are getting the kind of leadership that says “here is a special interest and let us push this one forward” in the absence of a debate that would cover all the issues around energy. This is a failure of leadership on the part of the government. People are crying out to the government to correct this problem.
Why is that? Why have the Liberals and now the Conservatives not provided us with leadership on energy issues or energy security issues? The answer is that over the past number of years both governments have entered into arrangements through NAFTA, through the North American energy working group and through the security and prosperity partnership to link us directly with American energy security and American energy plans.
The Alberta government does not send an ambassador on energy to Washington without a reason. There is no Alberta government ambassador here in Ottawa to lobby us on energy concerns. The Alberta ambassador is down in Washington where the action is. This is a clear indication of where our energy policy is being made. This is a clear indication of where the key decisions around energy are being made right now for Canada.
This energy situation needs to be returned to Parliament, where we can take hold of it ourselves. We need to put Canada first in energy policy and energy security. Within that perspective, we should be looking at all the things that we are doing, whether it is biofuels, whether it is the importation of liquefied natural gas, or whether it is the export of bitumen. Whatever we are doing in energy needs to have a “Canada first” label attached to it.
Without a clear and defined direction, with this ad hoc approach, the Prime Minister is not only supporting the American energy plan but is also helping big American agribusiness and the massive American biotech industry.
However, when it comes to the needs of Canadians, energy is very important, of course. We live in a cold climate. Everybody today understands the need for heating oil or natural gas in their homes. They do not question this today, because these things are fundamental requirements for Canadians. We have a fundamental need for a supply of energy that is available when we need it. Our energy supply should not be impacted by world crises of the kind that are going to be created as the energy situation in the world becomes even more dire.
The U.S. has a policy that new energy supplies will be handled internally. That is not simply about economics. That is about security. The United States has a strategic petroleum reserve, a quite large one. That is used to ensure that American citizens are protected at all times.
The Canadian model is to take convention oil, export it into the United States, and import into eastern Canada an equivalent amount. We have really moved away from any semblance of energy security.
Right now in Quebec we are arguing over liquefied natural gas terminals in Rabaska where we will be replacing natural gas that is flowing now from western Canada into the Montreal area with a foreign source of liquefied natural gas. It is coming in tankers from such stable areas as Russia, Qatar and Iran. How is this energy security in this country? How is this working for people in that regard?
When we say we need energy security, it applies to biofuels, it applies to natural gas, it applies to oil, and it means that we have to come together on those issues in this Parliament. It is not a partisan issue. This is an issue that speaks to every Canadian. It speaks to our industry. It speaks to our consumers. We should wake up and deal with it in that fashion.
Biofuels could be a boon to farmers and could help Canada tremendously if they are done well. However, what exactly are we trying to do with biofuels? We are trying to create ethanol. One of the more simpler ways to use biofuels is simply to use them in space heating right across this country.
When I go to Yellowknife, I see that the new correctional facility, a very large correctional facility, is now run on biomass energy at half the cost of the fuel oil it was replacing. This is a simple and direct way to use biomass energy. There is no conversion required into ethanol. The greenhouse gas reductions that are achieved through this process are far superior to that of ethanol in fuel for cars. Why are we not putting some effort into that area?
As well, what are we doing with the bill that will support the development of biological material on marginal lands, whether it is in northern Ontario, New Brunswick or wherever it is in this country where we have farmland that is not useful and is not competitive with agri-businesses in producing food? Those are the areas where we can enhance the use of biological energy, where we can make a big difference to Canadians right now in a variety of industries and which would make a tremendous amount of sense if it is handled in this program.
Many problems with biofuels have been presented, but the core of these problems is caused by lack of leadership that will look at the larger picture and quantify what we are doing rather than insisting that we put forward programs of this magnitude that simply deal with special interests.
The fact that the bill comes through the agricultural committee speaks to that in spades. This is an environmental energy issue. This is an issue that fits much stronger in the natural resources and the environment committees, but it is not there.
If the Prime Minister and the government wanted to show leadership by first thinking how to meet the energy needs of working Canadians, we would be supporting more small scale initiatives around biofuels. The large scale initiatives will help the large scale industry. We can do much better right across this country with biomass energy in so many ways with proper incentives. Where in this program is that available?
We need all areas in this country to be producing correctly for the future following principles that are outlined very carefully. The Dutch buy biomass products from Canada to run in coal plants in Holland. They are one of the biggest purchasers of wood pellets from Canada. The pellets are shipped to Holland and used in coal plants. It is sold as clean energy to customers.
Holland follows a 100-point program of environmental care for that product. It follows it right from where the product is harvested in the forest through the whole process the product follows to the market to ensure it meets the green standards that it has set.
This is the kind of approach that would be very valuable to a biofuels industry right now. It would bring surety to everyone in the industry and in the country that what we are doing is correct. This bill does not list the regulations. It gives the government the opportunity to put in place regulations. That is the heart of the matter for the success of this bill.
This is a very important piece of legislation. This is a very important industry. It needs the utmost attention. We need to do this right. We do not need to do it wrong by following a model that does not work in this world. We can be smarter than that. Let us make sure that when this bill leaves Parliament, it is the finest product we can deliver for Canadians and their future.