That the House regrets this government’s failure to live up to Canada’s international climate change agreements, and its refusal to bring forward for debate and vote, the Clean Air and Climate Change Act, the climate change plan called for by a majority vote of the House, and that therefore the House no longer has confidence in this government.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
It is an honour for me to speak to this important and serious motion today. This motion speaks to the priorities of families today. It speaks to an issue that has very serious consequences in Canada and will have profound consequences for future generations. It speaks to Canada's role in the world and our desire to be leaders—not laggards—on the world stage.
It speaks to the flawed and the failed agenda of the government. It speaks to the respect that is due to this House and the majority expression of opinion that has been delivered by the House of Commons.
Of course, I am talking about the issue of climate change, the government's flawed plan and the work that Parliament did to get the country back on track.
Seventeen months ago the Conservatives put forward their clean air act, Bill C-30. It was clear when it arrived that it was dead on arrival. It would allow climate change to worsen and worsen dramatically.
We did not want to accept continued inaction on the environment. That is why I asked and secured agreement from all party leaders that the bill be sent to a special legislative committee to challenge all of the members of the House to roll up their sleeves and get down to work to create legislation in which everyday Canadians could take pride and from which all of us could draw some hope and inspiration for the future.
With concern about climate change at an all time high, this is exactly the kind of action that Canadians wanted to see and this special committee did not disappoint us. It worked long hours. It was applauded by some as a rare example of the cooperation a minority Parliament is supposed to foster.
The committee finished its work nearly a year ago. Environmentalists were quick to say that the new clean air and climate change act was a “breakthrough”. It included major changes that the NDP has championed from the start, including real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the short, medium and long terms; a fixed cap for major industrial polluters, to reduce their share of emissions; a greenhouse gas emission pricing system; strict air quality standards for each pollutant; and strict vehicle fuel consumption standards.
Finally, we had a comprehensive environmental plan that would get results. They said it was impossible. The Conservatives put forward poor climate change legislation, but this Parliament put forward good legislation for Canadians.
We repeatedly called on the government to bring this improved clean air act forward for a vote. The heads of 10 of Canada's leading environmental organizations wrote to the Prime Minister calling on him to bring this bill to a vote. They said that the bill represented “a huge step forward for environmental protection in Canada and an important leadership opportunity”.
Sadly, the government refused to listen. There was no stopping its stalling on the environment. That is why last May the NDP used its opposition day to call on the government to bring the amended Bill C-30 back for a vote as soon as possible. A clear majority of the House supported that motion: 155 votes to 121. I thank each and every member of Parliament who voted with us because it recognized how we reach important decisions.
However, the government still was unmoved. It prorogued the House and brought in a throne speech that abandoned the improved clean air act and our international responsibilities on climate change. That is just one of the reasons why the NDP opposed the throne speech.
That brings us to today, 10 months later and our next available chance for an opposition day motion. We have been constructive. We have been consistent. We have been determined, but we cannot wait for action on climate change any longer. We cannot have confidence in the government's environmental plans.
Ordinary Canadians across the country are getting more and more worried about the future of their kids and grandkids. They are seeing the air get dirtier. They are seeing the pine beetle devastating forests and the forest industry. They are having to tell their kids not to swim in our lakes.
This week, the residents of Salluit, a village in northern Quebec, were forced to consider moving their village because of climate change. Mudslides, buckled roads and sinking buildings are threatening the village. Because of the risk of natural disasters brought on by the warming climate and melting permafrost, residents are having to consider leaving their ancestral lands.
That is the reality of climate change today. The inaction of the current government and past governments has forced families and communities to make tough choices.
The government's failed approach on the environment needs to stop, but we see no indication of that happening. Its so-called “turning the corner” plan has been panned across the board. Its accelerated corporate tax giveaways to the big polluters in the budgets give no sign of hope. It refused outright to eliminate now the tax advantages to the tar sands and it sided with laggards like George Bush in international negotiations.
Even this week it is filibustering yet again my private member's bill that sets out targets for the period after Kyoto, the same targets that were embraced in Bali and based on the best available science. What did it do in last week's budget? Millions for unsafe nuclear power development and millions for pumping pollution underground. This is no solution.
Is it any wonder that on the 10th anniversary of the signing of Kyoto we are 30% above the limits that should have been established and honoured.
Canadians have no confidence that this government will deal with the crucial issue of climate change. Time is short. Every month, an estimated 65 megatonnes of greenhouses gases are emitted into the atmosphere. There is no time for more mistakes. With every delay, the crisis grows worse.
Most of the members of this House are well aware of this, and families today are as well.
They see the evidence everyday. The NDP cannot have confidence in a government that ignores these signs and ignores the signs that the climate change crisis is actually affecting our communities today. We are not talking about some far away time in the future.
The government is ignoring the conclusions of our best scientists and the best scientists in the world and those who have won Nobel peace prizes.
This government, like George Bush's government, is putting on the brakes and stopping progress to deal with the biggest crisis facing humanity today which is climate change. Yet, the Conservatives put the interests of oil and gas companies, the biggest polluters, in first place and help them out with our tax dollar subsidies.
It is very clear that we cannot have confidence in a government that is willing to turn its back on this Parliament, on the Canadian people, on the people of this earth at a time when decisive action is required. Could there be a more important time to express in this House a sentiment of non-confidence? I do not believe so and that is why we have tabled this motion today.
That is why we call on members of this House who believe as we do that this is a critical issue requiring a collaboration of action on the part of all of us here to send a message to the government that what it is doing to our climate is unacceptable to Canadians.