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 #62 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was change.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

moved:

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.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to acknowledge that it is right that everyone in this House should care about our environment and should want to act proactively to preserve our environment, to protect it, and to make things better.

Certainly, we now see that Elizabeth May has joined forces with the Leader of the Opposition. I just wanted to ask this member, who has been around this House longer than I have, if he feels that the previous government acted proactively on behalf of the environment? Does he see anything in the Leader of the Opposition that indicates to him that the action that he desires would be carried forth by the Leader of the Opposition?

The Leader of the Opposition last night tried to pass a motion of non-confidence in the NDP. What does he see from this leader that indicates to him that there would be proactive action on behalf of the Liberal Party?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I choose not to really offer observations on the conduct of other leaders.

I just simply wanted to say that I thought there was a moment of hope in this chamber when we were able to secure agreement from all parties on the issue of climate change to send a piece of legislation to a special committee.

In fact, it was done in a way, using the procedures of the House, that allowed all parties to bring forward their best ideas, to remove those elements of the climate change legislation that would not work, and to replace them with a plan that represented the best thinking of this House.

This does not happen very often, I think members would agree. But when it does happen, it should be celebrated. And not only that, it should be respected.

I remember that the former leader of the opposition, now our Prime Minister, used to say that a prime minister, particularly in a minority government situation, had a moral obligation to respect the decisions of the House of Commons.

I do not know what happened to that moral commitment. Where did it go? Where is the respect for this House of Commons on an issue that Canadians universally want us to grab a hold of?

If there was one issue that Canadians would tell us they want us to work together to address, it would be the climate change crisis and that is exactly what was done by this House. But the attitude of the government is totally disrespectful to this House of Commons.

That is why we have been forced to place a motion of non-confidence on this issue, specific to this particular action by the government, or inaction as it would more appropriately be called.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, listening to the leader of the NDP, one has to wonder just how tight is the ideological straitjacket of the NDP. The people of Canada look to a government to responsibly address climate change, to responsibly address pollution and carbon emissions. They want a government that will show leadership. That is what we have done.

While we were creating a made in Canada plan that works for Canadians, that is saleable to the world, and we were costing it very carefully, all along the way the NDP and the former Liberal government were supporting a Kyoto plan that had absolutely no cost attached to it, no reachable goals that were realistic and was vague at best. That is not responsibility.

While the NDP would support a plan that gave little regard to whether we ran a huge deficit in our environmental plan, we are not like that. We do not do that. We will address the environmental challenges we have.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the forests around Prince George and in the riding represented by the hon. member are being devastated as a consequence of climate change by the invasion of a beetle that because of the warmer temperatures is now able to do enormous damage. I have often spoken of my visits to this area to see the absolute devastation.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

They had a chance but they blew it.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Irrespective of the commentary, which does not make any sense, Mr. Speaker, and is coming from the member who is trying to shout me down right now, the member for Cariboo—Prince George, who is interrupting my effort to try to respond to his remarks, I am sure his constituents will be interested to read Hansard and find out that he actually does not want to hear an answer from me, because he continues to speak over top of me.

Nonetheless, I wish he would think a little more about the devastation being caused by climate change to the forests of British Columbia, because I recall a time when his party and its various precursors used to say that climate change was some kind of myth, that it was not going to happen, that there were not going to be consequences, and that it was some sort of socialist conspiracy.

In fact, now we see millions and millions of trees completely devastated, forests completely devastated. The result is that people are being thrown out of work. The consequences are dramatic. We can close our eyes, as the member is apparently suggesting we should do, or we can take action. The government has refused. That is why we have no confidence in that member's party, the governing party.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I looked forward yesterday to engaging in this debate in this Parliament, and am pleased to do so today, because this is a rare moment in this House, in which we get to talk about the actual fundamentals and principles of what it is to have leadership in this country.

First, I would like to thank the member for Toronto—Danforth for first proposing the very notion that we could take a bad piece of legislation and together make it better.

Recently I had the great honour of spending time with the Nisga'a. I live in northwestern British Columbia and represent a region that is more than 30% first nations, who have some of the longest and proudest traditions in our country's history.

At this time of year, the Nisga'a have a tradition going back thousands of years. It is called Hobiyee. It is the bringing of the light from the darkness. It is the calling back of the salmon to return to the rivers that sustain the people and have sustained them for generation after generation.

At this ceremony, I had the great honour to be brought in with the chiefs in full regalia in front of hundreds of Nisga'a dancers, singers and drummers. This ceremony going back centuries is a call to the leadership to have vision and courage and to stand up in defence of the community to provide the leadership the community needs.

That is what the member for Toronto—Danforth has done for this country in allowing this act to come back to Parliament, in demanding that its rewrite is done and done properly and that we are able to have a free and fair vote, and in saying that if this government and this House refuse, this government no longer has the confidence of this Parliament and should be taken to task.

When the leader of the New Democrats called many of us to Parliament, he gave us a very clear and simple direction. He said that while we would be on the opposition benches, we also should seek the place not simply to oppose but to propose, because there was something lacking in this country and in particular around the debate on climate change. What was lacking were consistent and serious proposals that Canadians could get behind and thus for once start to feel proud of the work of Parliament, this place.

That is exactly what the NDP did when the member for Toronto—Danforth stood in his place and called upon the Prime Minister to create a special committee in which all parliamentarians could engage, in which Canadians could see in the full light of day our best ideas, the to and fro of debate, in order to land upon and arrive at the best piece of environmental legislation to take on the greatest challenge this generation has faced.

In the deliberations, we heard from Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Some members who are in the House right now were at those talks. We heard from industry, environmental groups, first nations and labour activists. We heard all about the best pieces to put into this legislation, because we all realized at first blush that the bill when it first arrived was dead upon arrival. There was not a hope of its passage. There was not enough credibility. Canadians were simply not behind it.

Through that process and through the engagement of Canadians, we were allowed to have a fulsome debate. We realized that yes, it could be done, and yes, it could be done well, and that Parliament could finally take a lead in tackling dangerous climate change, which we are seeing the effects of each and every day in this country.

Now, let us juxtapose that with the recent experience of all Canadians in witnessing the absolute debacle of the Bali negotiations at the UN, in which our minister went forward and stood side by side with the United States in opposing any progress on the challenge of climate change at the international level.

I spoke to one of the lead negotiators from Canada at the very end of these negotiations, when Canada was completely isolated. Even the U.S. had left and had joined with the UN. Canada was standing alone. I looked down at that negotiator's lapel pin because he had a Canadian flag on it. We talked for some time. I looked at his flag and just as an offhand comment said, “That is such a wonderful flag and it fills my heart with pride just to look at it”. It is the flag standing beside you, Mr. Speaker.

He looked down at the flag and said, “Do you know how hard it is to walk around with this flag at this negotiation?” These are his words. He said, “Do you realize how embarrassing it is to represent Canada's position?”. It was the purported position of the Conservative government. I told him not to worry, for just as the Nisga'a celebrate the light coming from the darkness, we too will celebrate when this country gets back on track and represents the interests and views of Canadians on climate change.

As members of Parliament, we all share a responsibility. Many of us have stood in our places in debate, at committee, in our constituencies and across the country, recognizing what first drew us into a life of public service, to serve on behalf of the public, to understand what it is to truly represent people. In that representation is the requirement for leadership, the requirement for vision, the requirement to have the courage of our convictions to stand in our place and vote for the things we believe in, to fight for the things we believe in, and to represent the people who sent us here to get good things done.

As we talk about climate change, I note that just yesterday the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development released a report containing 14 chapters, nine of which the government showed a failing grade on. I do not know if 35% on a test is acceptable to the Conservatives, but it is not acceptable to New Democrats and it is not acceptable to Canadians.

Every Parliament is seized with scandals, with debate and with central issues. I would suggest that this Parliament has been called upon by the Canadian people to take on the challenge of climate change and to make the decisions necessary so that in some years hence, when we are all sitting back, retired and looking back on our careers, we can say that we did the right thing, the right thing not only for this generation but for the generations to come.

I am reminded again of being with the Nisga'a, listening to the songs, hearing the drummers and speaking with a leadership that goes back millennia about what is required for true leadership. The Nisga'a say it is our role to speak on behalf of others and to speak with courage, knowing that there are difficult decisions and that we must cross over partisan interests that may occupy us and seem important in the moment. We have to realize that new place where we can go to achieve something together, something in which we can all share and all be proud of. Then we can return to our constituencies and to those people who sent us here with pride in our eyes, knowing that we did the right thing. That is what this motion calls for today.

I and many of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party have spoken about this for many years. In 1983 the NDP was the first group to raise the issue of climate change in this place. For many years, it was shuffled off. It was put off as not being a priority. By some members who are sitting here today, it was put off as not being a reality. They said it was a complete fiction that we did not need to deal with.

Slowly but surely, the public came to understand the issue more. The science became more confirmed and the path forward for all of us became more certain. Unfortunately, we still find ourselves in a place where the narrow, short term partisan interests override the interests of the generations to come and override the interests of doing what is right for the planet, for our communities and for our country. That has to end.

The NDP has been clear today. This is as clear as it gets: the legislation, which the will of this House has supported, must be brought back to Parliament for a free and fair democratic vote, and if not, then the government no longer has the confidence of this Parliament and should be brought down.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speeches presented by both the leader of the NDP and the party's environment critic and what is interesting about their comments is that they are both confused.

On the one hand, the leader of the NDP is actively seeking the cooperation of the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois at committee to pass his bill, Bill C-377, which cannot pass without the support of the Liberal Party of Canada.

On the other hand, he refers to Bill C-30, the backbone of which is the Liberal Party of Canada's balancing our budget plan. As the leader of the NDP puts it, the bill was originally punted to a legislative committee because he had a special deal with the Prime Minister. Then he realized that the Prime Minister was not serious whatsoever in seeing that legislative committee bring the clean air act to any successful completion and we brought forward the balancing, our department budget program and plan.

I am confused because one of the longest serving NDP MPs, the member for Winnipeg Centre, believes differently than his own leader. He says that the federal New Democratic Party may need to enter into some kind of informal coalition with the Liberals or risk, in his words, “political obscurity”. That statement came from a veteran NDP MP, one of the top and longest serving MPs in that caucus.

What exactly is the NDP's position here today? In the case of--

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Skeena--Bulkley Valley.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the only confusion that Canadians are faced with is what exactly the Liberal Party of Canada plans to do when a clear and concise motion is put before the House for a free and fair democratic vote.

We in the New Democrats are determined to force the issue of climate change onto the political agenda. Every member of this caucus has stood in question period, in debates in the House and in committees to say that legislation needs to be brought forward.

The lack of clarity on the part of other opposition parties is what is confusing Canadians. Leaders from other parties stood yesterday and said that while they agreed in principle, they would not agree to vote. A great rift occurs when principles do not match votes and that rift cannot be fixed by simply obscuring the issue.

We are calling upon the Conservative government to bring back the amended clean air and climate change act for a free and fair vote. If it does not do so, then we will drop the government. I encourage the member to join us.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Carol Skelton Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the previous government left Canada with one of the worst environmental records among the OECD. For the last 10 years, this has been well-documented in former environment commissioner reports. The previous government had no plans and no cohesive framework. There were lots of talk and lots of confetti but no action.

If countries like China and India do not start taking action, what effect will that have on Canada's global emissions? I would like the hon. member's thoughts on that.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague will get no argument from me when discussing Liberal failures on the climate change issue.

She mentioned the Commissioner of the Environment who was in front of committee yesterday. He said that there had been far too much talk and not enough action. He was, in effect, referring to both the Conservative and Liberal administrations and he was equal in his condemnation.

There is a principle here that my hon. colleague seems to enjoy stating many times, and I have heard it from her own Minister of the Environment. Using the excuse of Liberal failure is a call to inaction by the current government, which is a failure of intellectual thought and process. Canadians simply will not tolerate it. Canadians want to see concrete action and, if not, whoever is currently holding office should be thrown from office to the furthest places of this country.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak about this very important issue.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Northumberland—Quinte West.

As a Canadian, I am very proud and always will be proud to be Canadian. I believe, unlike the member from the NDP seems to indicate, that we live in the greatest country in the world and I am very proud of that and have never been ashamed of my country, nor my flag.

The motion presented by the member for Toronto—Danforth calls into question the House's confidence in the government on the environment. Let me reassure the House, however, that the government is committed on delivering real results, real solutions to protect the health of Canadians and the environment, which is so important to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Climate change is, indeed, one of the biggest threats to our environment, to our people and to the future of our earth. This reality is clearer today than it has ever been and it is a threat that this Conservative government and this Prime Minister takes very seriously.

Here at home, unlike previous Liberal governments, we have taken real action and we are proud of these first steps. With our turning the corner plan, we will, for the first time ever, require industry to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution by implementing the toughest mandatory targets in Canadian history. I am proud of that.

The end result is that our national strategy will reduce in absolute terms Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 and 60% to 70% by 2050. What is significant to note is that our plan is not only effective, it is responsible. Our plan marks a new era in Canadian environmental responsibility. Our approach takes our economy into account. It goes to great lengths to protect the standard of living of Canadians no matter where they live and it goes beyond any other plan to ensure it takes real action to protect our environment.

Our government also recognizes that Canada's north is one of the areas that will most quickly bear the burden of climate change. We have committed more than $80 million for science research on adaptation that will help the north deal with climate change. I have seen these changes first-hand and I assure Canadians that they are taking place. This will be of great help to the rest of the world as well because, in the Canadian attitude we share, we share the world's responsibility and we will help the rest of the world in understanding how to adjust to the new reality that we are all facing.

However, we admit that it has been an uphill battle to move Canada forward. We have been here for two years and we have had our work cut out for us. Thirteen years of complacency and mismanagement by successive Liberal governments crippled our environment, set us far back and it crippled our international environmental standing. We inherited a huge mess from the previous Liberal government. We inherited a landscape of patchwork environmental programs that did little, if nothing, to minimize Canada's carbon footprint in the world.

In fact, by the end of 2005, emissions had climbed to 33% above the target levels set in the Kyoto protocol. One of the toughest issues we have faced is how to meet the 2012 targets, given the situation Canada has been put in by the previous Liberal government.

Had that government not left us in such a precarious position, perhaps we would have been able to do that by the 2012 deadline. However, we have had to deal with 10 years that has been lost due to inaction. This fact has already been debated in the House repeatedly. In fact, all parties agree, even members from the Liberal party, including the leader himself, have said that they did nothing.

Our position on the subject was very clearly stated in the Speech from the Throne that was put before the House for a vote. I am glad to see that the Liberal Party supports our environmental policies and I want to thank the Liberals today again for supporting the government on a continuous basis through the budget.

They supported the Speech from the Throne, the mini-budget and, now, I am proud to say, this budget, which all contained great things to clean up the environment. It is clear that the Liberals support our government, our responsible position and our realistic approach to environmental protection. Again, I thank members of the Liberal Party.

I would like to also address the issue of Bill C-30, which is also mentioned in today's motion. The Conservative Party worked in good faith on the Bill C-30 committee to try to improve the clean air act. I know that for a fact because I was there. I was in every meeting and I saw what took place. All members of the Conservative Party worked earnestly and in good faith trying to get real positive results for Canadians.

Our government is committed to improving the environment on behalf of all Canadians. This includes bringing forward concrete and realistic industrial targets to reduce greenhouse gases and improve the air we breathe and improve the health of Canadians.

In committee last year, the government supported amendments brought forward by every party to improve and strengthen Canada's clean air act, and brought forward others of our own. We worked or tried to work cooperatively. We took politics out, unlike the other parties. Sadly, in most cases, we were opposed by both the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois.

We brought forward a reasonable amendment to achieve tough vehicle emission standards based on the North American market, the integrated market in which we live, standards that would be supported by labour. What did the Liberals do in return? They voted it down and knowingly played politics by imposing standards that would have been impossible for industry to meet without shutting down the Ontario auto industry.

The Liberals also played politics by writing Kyoto targets into the bills with no conceivable plan to achieve them, again, playing politics. It was hard for Canadians to believe that the Liberals had ever put in place a plan to achieve Kyoto five years ago. Today it is even harder. As the Liberal member for Halton said:

I heard [the Prime Minister] yesterday in a speech say, in one breath, that action must be taken, while in the next he added that reaching Kyoto targets would be “fantasy”.

Is he right? Technically, yeah. We’re so far behind now that catch-up is impossible, without shutting the country down.

Indeed, even when the Liberals were in government, it was easy for them to offer the moon with no hope of ever delivering it. We know how they governed the country and Canadians certainly do not want to go back to that. Now that the Liberals are no longer in government, it is even easier for them to tell Canadians that they want to achieve Kyoto emission targets.

The opposition also gutted parts of the clean air act, Bill C-30. We told the opposition not to mess with the health of Canadian children and not to mess with the health and the quality of life of Canadians, the elderly and those suffering from respiratory illness. What did it do? It gutted those important sections of the clean air act. The opposition members should be ashamed of themselves.

What did Canadians lose in the rush to gut the clean air act, led by the Liberals and the environment critic, the member for Ottawa South? Canadians should know that the opposition removed many new regulations that would have helped to better protect the health of Canadians and our environment. We lost, for example, mandatory national air quality standards, mandatory annual public reporting on air quality and actions to achieve national air quality standards, increased research and monitoring of air pollutants, and tougher enforcement rules for compliance to air quality regulations. Shame on the opposition.

The government put forward 15 pages of concise new regulation making authority to protect Canadians' health and our environment, and the opposition just ripped them up. What did the Liberals add instead? They inserted clauses to delay action by implementing and requiring six months of consultation around a new investment bank before we could move forward on tough new regulations for industry. This was a delay tactic. The Liberals inserted complex and unworkable requirements that made it harder, not easier, for the government to act on air pollution.

Even worse, the Liberals inserted a clause that would have allowed political interference into air quality standards. For instance, the Liberals wanted the Minister of the Environment to exempt “economically depressed areas” from air quality standards for three years. Would this allow the Liberals to buy votes? Was it their intent in this particular section to exempt certain Liberal rich voting areas of the country from air quality regulations while punishing those areas that were not Liberal? We do not know what they thought but they were thinking the wrong thing.

The Liberals imposed the Liberal leader's carbon tax plan into the bill, a plan that would lead to zero greenhouse gas reductions. The health and the prosperity of Canadians depends on the quality of the air we breath, the quality of life. The integrity of our environment is tied so uniquely to that. It is very clear that only the Conservative government members were prepared to put the environment before politics.

However, all is not lost. Our government committed to bringing back the parts of Bill C-30 that had all party support. Unlike the Liberals, the government is serious about tackling climate change and protecting the air we breath and the health of Canadians. Our actions speak louder than words. We are getting the job done. We will take no lessons from the Liberals or members of the NDP who cannot get it done for Canadians.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a quick comment and a direct question for the parliamentary secretary about the motion today.

I will quote for the House, for our collective memory, a quotation by the then leader of the opposition, now Prime Minister. He said:

What's become apparent is that the Bloc Québécois and the NDP will grandstand on these things [but] it is up to us...to decide whether the time has come to have an election.

He went on to say, “I think in Canadians' judgment—it is not that time”.

Is the parliamentary secretary telling us now that it is the position of the Prime Minister that he wants to have an election? If he does, why does he not cross the street, go see the Governor General and call for an election?

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Is that not just like the Liberal Party, Mr. Speaker? Something so serious as the quality of life of Canadians, the future of our country, the future of the world and the Liberals play politics with it, straight politics.

That is why Canadians do not respect that party any more. That is why they want the Conservative government to lead the country and to clean up our air and water to get the quality of life better for Canadians.

Let me give a quote in response:

Scientific capacity in the federal government could not help but be affected by the last five years of cuts.

That is from the Toronto Star, October 9, 1999. That member said this.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question for the parliamentary secretary is about the automotive industry.

The minister and the government have cut the eco-auto rebate program. This was the incentive program of $116 million, a disastrous program that did not have an effect on the positive influence to buy vehicles.

We have a transition in the auto industry which is an opportunity to get greener technologies. At the same time the government is cutting the $116 million, it is going to keep in place the $50 million tax on the companies. It has rolled out a new program worth $50 million a year, but at the end of the day it has actually cut the automotive sector back by $8 million per year, and it continues to keep the $50 million tax in place.

What is the government preparing to do, given that the United States is going to be instituting loan guarantees and a series of other initiatives to secure the new green auto industry? The fact is that what we have shown is the government actually cut the $116 million, which the Minister of Finance did not roll over into initiatives, and it has only introduced a $250 million five year program, which once again will be funded by a tax on the industry itself.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

I lost track of that, Mr. Speaker, because there was so much rhetoric.

However, let us talk about something someone has said in reference to the bill the NDP has now proposed. Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, said in relation to the bill:

That (revised bill) could end up having some perverse impacts, in terms of fleet turnover, and the ability of people to afford these vehicles.

There is no question that the NDP, from time to time, comes up with these perverse ideas that could not work. We know that.

However, let us talk about some really good things that are happening. We did a good eco-auto program. We had a two year program. It worked well. It brought to the attention of Canadians what was important. What is important with the fleet and what is important for Canadians is what we are doing. We are taking positive steps.

The rebate program raised consumer awareness on fuel efficient models. In fact, the industry even added new fuel efficient models to its fleets.

Let us talk about some of the things we are doing. We have invested $33 billion, the biggest investment ever, in things like public transit and cleaning our water. Infrastructure investments in our latest budget, which the Liberals supported us on, and I thank them, include $500 million for public transit capital investments, $250 million over five years to support research and development for greener more fuel efficient vehicles, $63 million over the next two years to look at ways to get older polluting vehicles off the road and $13 million over two years to accelerate access to renewable fuels for cars and trucks.

We are getting the job done for Canadians, for a better quality of life. cleaner air and the environment.

Opposition Motion--Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as members know, the world met in Indonesia for the 13th United Nations climate change conference in December last year. The meeting was an important step in the ongoing international process under the UN to address climate change. The meeting in Indonesia was also another opportunity for Canada to demonstrate its international leadership on this issue.

From the very beginning of these discussions, Canada's position has been that we must have an effective, binding international framework that leads to real greenhouse gas reductions. To reach that goal, all major emitters, such as China and India, need to be on-board. The world moved closer to reaching that goal in Indonesia.

Our government is proud of the principled position we have taken. With the United States now signed onto this framework, results of this conference can show progress. We see that as an important first step.

Make no mistake, the next two years will be a challenge, with long and intense negotiations. Canada looks forward to meeting that challenge and to working with our international partners to develop a global solution in the fight against climate change.

Climate change is a global program, requiring global solutions. We see that with the agreement we reached in Indonesia. Let me be clear. Canada is committed to the United Nations process. We are committed to an international framework driven by science. We are committed to taking action with our turning the corner plan. Unlike the Liberal Party that sat around and did nothing for 13 years, we are taking action.

For a moment, though, let us look at the performance of the Liberal leader in Bali. He said that he would never criticize his government while abroad. He did, several times. The Liberal leader intentionally came to Bali to undermine and sabotage the work of the government at an international conference. That is a shame.

Canada understands the global threat to climate change requires a truly global solution. The scientific work of the International Panel on Climate Change, or the IPCC, tells us that we must stop the rise in greenhouse gas emissions and make significant cuts in emissions over the next 50 years if we are to prevent drastic consequences. This government supports the conclusions of the IPCC as the world's pre-eminent scientific body on climate change. The science is clear. The world must take immediate action on climate change.

Therefore, this government is taking action, with Canada's national plan “Turning the Corner: An Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Air Pollution”. Our plan will continue to deliver realistic and achievable results on cleaning up our environment. It is focused on broad action here at home and continued international leadership on the world stage.

Our agenda includes: absolute reduction in greenhouse gases of 20% by 2020; further reductions of 60% to 70% by 2050; a domestic carbon market; a comprehensive strategy for the Arctic, including a world class Arctic research station; national air pollution regulations; an action plan on clean water to protect our rivers, lakes and oceans; and tougher enforcement that will make polluters accountable.

Over the last year, Canada has been at the forefront of international action on climate change, including the leadership shown by the Prime Minister at the G-8, at the OPEC summit and at the United Nations.

Canada was also proud to play a leading role to achieve historic success at the Montreal protocol conference, where over 190 countries agreed on eliminating substances that would harm the ozone layer and would contribute to climate change.

Canada will continue to play an important role in this negotiation process. Specifically, Canada continues to articulate that a post-2012 climate change agreement should include: a target date for stabilizing emissions and goals for global emissions reductions by 2050; the strongest action and commitment by all major emitters; adequate consideration for national circumstances so as not to unduly burden the growth of any single country; consideration of a sectoral approach to appropriate cases where countries agree on specific targets for emissions reductions from highly globalized industries, such as concrete and fertilizer; the elimination of trade barriers to green technology to support the demand for this new technology; a clear price signal on carbon to support the use of market mechanisms; a mechanism to provide credits for reduced emissions through reductions of deforestation, as more than 20% of global emissions result from deforestation; and due consideration for the need to adapt to the warming that scientists tell us will occur, regardless of immediate action.

What the government will not do is mislead the international community like the Liberals did for 13 years. When the Liberals signed on to Kyoto, they had no idea of the costs to the Canadian consumer, or the impact it would have on the Canadian economy. They wrote a number down on the back of a napkin in an attempt to trump the Americans, and now we find ourselves 35% above our Kyoto targets.

I agree 100% with the Toronto Star columnist, Chantal Hébert when she said:

Among the opposition leaders, only [the Liberal leader], who sat for a decade in government, stands to be called to account for how far behind Canada has fallen on the road to Kyoto.

The Liberals had no intention of meeting the Kyoto targets. Instead, they were prepared to send billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to buy hot air credits from Russia. Members do not have to take my word for it. Let us hear what former Liberal environment ministers had to say.

Former Liberal environment minister Christine Stewart said, “The Minister of Finance could never find money for Kyoto which was a terrible disappointment to me”.

The article goes on to say:

Stewart today says that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien...“didn't get environment”. She also says Natural Resources minister [the member for Wascana] accompanied her to “reassure,” the domestic oil industry because of the tremendous amount of “pushback,” Kyoto was getting”.

Let us hear what former Liberal environment minister Sheila Copps had to say:

I remember very well when (Chrétien) actually endorsed Kyoto, he called me before he went to South Africa because he was getting tremendous push back from the bureaucracy, the department of finance, the former minister of finance...and all of those attached to the natural resources…including [the member for Wascana] and Anne McLellan. (They) were viciously against Kyoto.

Sheila Copps went on further to say:

We burned thousands of pounds of paper with briefing notes from the department of Natural Resources and the Department of Finance showing us why we could do nothing because it was an economic disaster.

Yet for all those years, Canada deceived the international community. The Liberals talked and talked and never backed it up with action. Only the Liberal leader can be held to account for that.

The fact is our government cannot take responsibility for the inaction and mistakes of the past 13 years under the Liberals, but what Canadians can expect is that we will take action to clean up the mess left by the Liberals. That is why we are moving aggressively to cut greenhouse gas emission and fight global warming in our country.

When it comes to failed international agreements, it is only the Liberals that know failure. Unlike the Liberals, we are getting the job done on the international stage.

Medal of BraveryStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Friday I was privileged to witness Constable Ryan George Hutchison, a constituent from my riding, along with Robin Mole accept the Canadian Medal of Bravery at Rideau Hall from Her Excellency the Right Hon. Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada.

On August 21, 2005, Constable Ryan Hutchison and paramedic Robin Mole rescued two young girls from drowning in the waters of Lake Erie in Leamington, Ontario. The two victims, aged 11 and 13, were struggling to stay afloat some 10 metres from the shore, unable to swim back due to the strong waves.

Alerted to the scene, Constable Hutchison and Mr. Mole grabbed a life ring and dove into the water to reach the girls' side. Swimming against a strong tide, they managed to bring the girls back to the breakwall where they were pulled to safety. The strong waves knocked Constable Hutchison back into the water, submerging him numerous times. He was eventually rescued by emergency crews who had arrived at the scene.

The people of Chatham-Kent—Essex are very proud of Constable Ryan George Hutchison and Robin Mole for their acts of bravery.

Aboriginal WomenStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we recognize International Women's Day later this week, I feel this is an occasion to point out a true injustice served by the Conservative government.

Last September, after more than two decades of struggle, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples finally cleared its last hurdle when it was adopted by the UN General Assembly. Though the declaration did pass by a margin of 144 to 4, shamefully, Canada was one of only four countries to vote against it. This is nothing to be proud of.

The Conservative government's refusal to support the United Nations declaration shows a blatant disregard of the struggles of aboriginal women in Canada to achieve equality. Canada's aboriginal women deserve better, especially during the week when the world is recognizing International Women's Day.

It should not be questioned. The rights of aboriginal women are also human rights and they should be honoured.

Women's Excellence GalaStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, as a prelude to International Women's Day, the AFÉAS of central Quebec held its first-ever Excellence au féminin gala in Drummondville, honouring women in our region in the categories of business, politics, education, health and family.

In the business category, the award was given to Louise Boisclair, of Saint-Léonard-d'Aston, while the politics award was handed out to Francine Auger, of Victoriaville. Francine Lafond, of Saint-Wenceslas, was chosen from among the finalists to win the education award.

The health award was handed out to Micheline Côté, of Saint-Grégoire, for her involvement in the Bécancour—Nicolet-Yamaska health and social services centre. Johanne Latreille, of Victoriaville, was honoured in the family category.

Lastly, the first-ever award for women's excellence was given to Francine Ruest-Jutras, the mayor of Drummondville.

On the eve of International Women's Day, I want to express my deep admiration for these women. Congratulations to them all.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

March 7th, 2008 / 11 a.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we celebrate International Women's Day. We celebrate the courage and resilience of those women who have worked for over a century for equality of opportunity. We celebrate those women whose work is well known and those whose names we do not remember but we remember their spirit and the changes they have made.

Sadly, there are many women who have nothing to celebrate on International Women's Day: the woman who sleeps in a doorway because there is no national housing strategy; the woman at the food bank whose daughter tugs her sleeve and says, “Mommy, I will try not to eat so much”; the woman who makes 70% of what her male counterpart does because there is no pay equity plan; and the woman who cannot get safe child care because there is no national child care plan.

However, I remain hopeful and optimistic, because I know that Canadian women and women globally have incredible courage and resilience. They will continue to work, to speak out and to move forward the goals and dreams of women for equality, fairness and justice.

Bonnyville PontiacsStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to give tribute to a dedicated group of young men who lace up their skates and play their hearts out each and every night, all in the pursuit of a common goal. With Hunter from Kool FM calling their names from far and wide, they sprinkle in a mix of hometown talent, like Isley and Cadrin.

After 62 games and months of travelling and dedication from players, including Jensen and Gerhardt, Coach Mercier and the training staff have the boys ready to go. The Bonnyville Pontiacs are ready to roll to an AJHL championship.

In their quest for glory, the Bonnyville Pontiacs do far more than entertain a small rural community. They inspire and stoke the dreams of parents and children alike.

This year the dream is in reach. With Easton's scoring and Chenard's tending, Sherwood Park is already behind them. Whether the road to the cup goes through Fort McMurray or Camrose, it does not matter, because this is the year of the Pontiacs.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week we are celebrating International Women's Day. It is therefore important to highlight the value of women to our society and underscore the issues that affect them.

There is no doubt that women have made a significant contribution to Canada's social, economic, cultural and community life. All the same, we must recognize that they have had to face many challenges and overcome numerous obstacles throughout history. Let us not forget that women are still fighting for equality and respect.

International Women's Day reminds us that we must not only provide more funding for women, we must also recognize the sacrifices that our mothers, sisters, daughters and wives have made. I ask my colleagues to join me in urging the government to make women a priority so that Canada can truly join the 21st century.