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House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was income.

Topics

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to table a second petition signed by people from Akwesasne and from St. Albert, Alberta.

They are calling on the government to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Security and Prosperity PartnershipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present yet another petition signed by people from Winnipeg, Manitoba regarding the security and prosperity partnership which is an agreement being worked on in relative secrecy between three governments, Canada, the United States and Mexico, and in collaboration with the big corporate sectors trying to ensure that there is an agenda in many areas around health, the environment and the economy that reduces our standards in Canada and the role of our government here. The petitioners call on our government to bring this debate into the open. They call for a full, open and democratic debate to seek a mandate from the people of this country. They call on the government to ensure that the sovereignty of this nation is respected at all costs.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

May 2nd, 2008 / 12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 216 and 229.

Question No. 216Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Does the government intend to be guided by Bill C-81, An Act to establish the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians, which was introduced during the first session of the 38th Parliament, and introduce a bill which would provide for a form of parliamentary scrutiny or review of security and intelligence matters and for the protection of classified information made available for that purpose and, if so, when will the government do so?

Question No. 216Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to pursuing a more direct role for Parliament in the review of national security issues as part of a plan to build a more robust, accountable, independent national security review framework for Canada.

There have been a number of calls for enhanced review, including Justice O’Connor’s reports, the Report of the Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Senate Special Committee on the Anti-Terrorism Act, ATA, and the House of Commons Subcommittee on the Review of the ATA, all of which made specific recommendations to the government.

The government is working diligently to determine the most effective and efficient review model for Canada’s national security activities.

Question No. 229Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

With regards to the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board: (a) what was the rationale for choosing Mr. Richard Edjericon as the new board chair; and (b) what was the rationale for not choosing Ms. Gabrielle Mackenzie Scott to continue as the board's chair?

Question No. 229Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, in response to a) The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board indicated to the minister that the board approved the nominations of both Ms. Gabrielle Mackenzie-Scott and Mr. Richard Edjericon as potential chair for the minister’s consideration. They further clarified that if neither candidate is considered to be acceptable, the board would be pleased to submit additional names and would do so expediently.

As per section 12 of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, which states that “…the Chairperson of a board shall be appointed by the federal minister from persons nominated by a majority of the members”, the minister considered the nominations and, after evaluation, appointed Mr. Richard Edjericon to a 3-year term as chair on March 29, 2008.

Mr. Richard Edjericon has all the required qualifications to provide leadership and participation to the board, and will contribute to the success of the important work that lies ahead.

In response to b) Ms. Gabrielle Mackenzie-Scott’s term expired on March 28, 2008, after serving a 3-year term as Chair.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The questions enumerated by the parliamentary secretary have been answered. Is it agreed the remaining questions stand?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, be read the third time and passed.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Before question period, the hon. member for Ottawa South had the floor and had concluded the time allotted for his remarks, but there are 10 minutes for questions and comments consequent on his speech. I therefore call for questions and comments.

There being none, resuming debate, the hon. member for Western Arctic.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to talk about biofuels because, unlike what has been projected about the New Democratic position, we support a properly managed biofuel programs in this country. What we are trying to do in the House of Commons is to get to a point where we have policies that we can present to the Canadian public and that industry can understand where we are going. We want to be assured that what we are doing is correct and is working in the best interests of Canadians on all the fronts that have been purported to be useful in terms of the development of a biofuel industry in Canada.

The comments of the Liberals and Conservatives today and yesterday about our participation in this debate remind me of the old saying: A half truth is like half a brick; one can throw it twice as far and it hurts just as much. That is what they are doing. They are presenting half-truths again. That is not what we want in Parliament. We want to have an honest and structured debate about the relative merits of what we are doing as a Parliament. That is what we are after. That is what we are focused on.

This is not an ideological debate. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food claimed in his speech that somehow the ideological forces of the left were driving this debate on biofuels, creating opposition to the Conservatives' implementation of a program in exactly the way they want through a bill that has no conditions attached to it, much as what was indicated by my colleague from Ottawa South. After he got over the need to bash away at us, he spoke quite eloquently about all the things that we have been bringing forward in Parliament, all the issues that have not been resolved around biofuels.

When we talk about an ideological bent, we can refer to all the different people who have spoken lately of their concerns about the direction biofuels are taking not only in Canada but around the world. And yes, we do have what we might call a fellow traveller in the Prime Minister of Great Britain whose government over many years promoted biofuels, but who has now said, “We have to go back and look at what we are doing”.

New Democrats are always willing to examine what we have proposed to see the merits within it. If we have policies that are not perfect, we adjust them. I can see that too with the Conservatives. They had a policy which was clearly articulated by the Prime Minister during the election. He said that the Conservatives were not going to touch income trusts. What did he do when he came to the realization, that we already supported, that these were hurting the economy? He changed his position. We saw the result.

This is a forum. The government must be flexible. We must look at the situation in front of us and do the very best possible for Canadians. The New Democrats are standing up again trying to ensure that the debate is useful and relevant and that we get the consideration we want of the bills in front of us.

The biofuels bill is an empty box which the Conservatives can fill with goodies for their friends. They can fill it with policies that will help large corporations. They can fill it with policies that will bring products from other countries that are going to compete with our Canadian farmers. This will create more dislocation and will not give us the kind of environmental return we could get from our own farmers. New Democrats do not trust the Conservative government to do the right thing.

In committee, we were consistent. We brought up conditions that we wanted to see in the bill that would ensure we did the right thing with biofuels. Those were opposed by both the Liberals and the Conservatives. They did, however, give the NDP an amendment to have a review on a two year basis. It is a good idea and it is almost all we needed, but not quite.

A two year review will already assume that the industry is up and running, that it is investing, that farmers are changing their production of different types of agriculture products to match up to the legislation in place. This was not quite enough. With this empty box, we needed to have a review of what the Conservatives would fill the box with before it went out to the public. How is this opposing biofuels?

This is giving some surety to Canadians that where the economy is going is correct. How can this be interpreted except in terms of this half truth? Once again, one can throw it further to try to hurt the others just as much. That is the truth of what has gone on in Parliament to date.

When I heard the member for Ottawa South talk eloquently about the problems with the biofuel policy in front of us, when he mentioned all the studies that had not been done, when he mentioned all the things that were not in place, why was he then so insistent that we flash forward with this policy when he had all those unanswered questions? Did it have anything to do with the investment that would go to his riding from the $2.2 billion, which are on the table right now as part of the public funds that will be invested in the biofuels industry? I ask the member for Ottawa South to look into his heart and see whether this is part of his motivation.

Right now across northern Canada, and it is not just in the Northwest Territories, it is in Yukon, Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador, we are experiencing a massive increase in heating costs and costs of generation with fossil fuels, fuel oil. Fuel oil prices affect hundreds of thousands of people across northern Canada and many rural people in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba. It affects rural people in Ontario, the Maritimes and Quebec who are not attached to a natural gas distribution system and use fuel oil. These costs are going through the roof.

Are there any solutions? There are solutions and we are putting those solutions to work in Yellowknife right now. We are buying biomass products from Alberta and running our larger buildings and many homes on wood pellets. It is easily transportable, cellulosic material that is simply pelletized and provides that opportunity.

This can spread right across northern Canada. This could have been available to everybody in the country if there had been one thing, and that was parity in the bioenergy market where the greenhouse gas reductions were compared with biofuels and bioenergy, where values and incentives were based on how much we could return to the different types of objectives that were set into the policy. If that were the case, we could do so much more to reduce the cost of living for people across country who are not attached to a natural gas delivery system.

Personally, as a northern resident, although I use biomass myself, I have full sympathy for us in building our bioenergy industry across the country. Yet there is no parity and no discussion of this. Nor is there any discussion of the way to use different forms of energy. We are on a biofuel path that may or may not be appropriate. This does not mean we should preclude the other forms of bioenergy available to us.

We are investing $500 million in a cellulosic ethanol pilot plant. The BIOCAP study prepared by REAP-Canada, which was presented in the agriculture committee, speaks to cellulosic ethanol quite well. Cellulosic product that could easily be used in thermal capacities has a 39% efficiency in conversion of that energy. In other words, when the bioenergy product is converted into biofuel in a cellulosic ethanol plant, 60% of the energy is lost off the top. Huge capital costs are attached to this as well.

A typical commercial cellulosic plant, as the one proposed in Idaho, would have an estimated cost of $250 million U.S. to process approximately 68 million litres of cellulosic ethanol each year. That works out to about $175 a gigajoule in investment to return one gigajoule of energy. When we look at other forms of using cellulosic product, for instance, in replacing thermal energy in people's homes, in power generation, we are looking at about $5 a gigajoule investment in the plant. We are creating an industry that stretches right across the country and works for everyone.

These are the types of examples we need to talk about in Parliament. We need legislation that will create a level playing field for bioenergy and biofuels and will ensure that we are putting money into the best things possible for Canadians.

I am not trying to be a Luddite. I am speaking to the real concerns of Canadians. We are running out of natural gas in our country. National Energy Board projections indicate that we will be a net importer of natural gas by 2020 with all supplies in. This is a crisis, and one perhaps not well articulated by the government because it does not want to go in that direction. It wants us to purchase liquefied natural gas from other countries at exorbitant prices, with no particular economic benefit to our whole economy.

The opportunities for bioenergy everywhere are great and for biofuel equally great. We need to move ahead with policy that works. I do not see that here. The legislation does not address the issues in front of us. It does not provide significant return to Canadians in terms of greenhouse gas reductions. We invest $2.2 billion to get a couple of megatonnes of reduction. That is $1 billion a megatonne.

Where is the comparative analysis that should have taken place about the kinds of investments the government should make in different forms of subsidies that would go to different things and provide better analysis? These analyses are available. BIOCAP Canada did a complete assessment of that.

The greenhouse gas reduction cost for corn ethanol is some $375 per kilogram. Using biomass in pelletized form for either heating or for electrical generation would be a $50 a kilogram cost reduction.

The numbers are just staggering when we think of what we are doing. Why are we doing it? Because a number of people in the other parties have specific interests in the ridings. They see this as an investment to be made right away so they can move this forward in a way that really does not make good policy. It may make good sense in the next election for these people, but in the long term is it really the sense of what we want to do as a responsible member of the international community? I do not think so.

Having recognized the inadequacies of the legislation, as solidly supported by my Liberal colleagues in their speeches, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after “That”, and replacing them with the following:

Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, be not now read a third time, but referred back to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food for the purpose of reconsidering clause 2 with a view to making sure that both economic and environmental effects of introducing these regulations do not cause a negative impact on the environment or unduly influence commodity markets.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I find the amendment acceptable.

The hon. government House leader on a point of order.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, motions of this type are generally in order at third reading, however, there is a caveat to that. A motion of this type, other than the obvious transparent effort to obstruct and delay, in which we know members are engaging, is not in order if it is a motion that has the impact of providing instructions to the committee on how it should deal with the matter. It is one thing to refer a matter such as this back to the committee for reconsideration, however, the motion goes far beyond that because it says, “to making sure that both economic and environmental effects of introducing these regulations do not cause a negative impact on the environment or unduly influence commodity markets”.

I would argue that, in so doing, members have overstepped the bounds of what can be done in a motion of this type by providing instructions to the committee on how it should dispose of a bill. That is beyond the scope of what the House can do at this stage.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I thank the hon. government House leader for his advice and it will be taken into consideration. For the moment, we will resume debate.

Although the member for Richmond—Arthabaska probably has a question or comment to make, I will first go to questions and comments addressed to the member for Western Arctic.

The member for Burlington.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my colleague from the New Democrats. I absolutely disagree with his speech, however, and his approach to the legislation, which is much needed. I am the member for the riding of Burlington, a completely urban area, and I am very much in support of what we are doing, for a couple of reasons.

This program will be part of the whole process that is required for our country to meet its obligations to reduce greenhouse gases. As a member of the auto caucus, over and over again, companies that produce vehicles in our country tell us there needs to be a mix, alternative fuel vehicles, hybrids, bio-diesel, to make it happen.

Ford, for example, in St. Thomas makes a vehicle that is E85 compatible, and there is a number of vehicles around the Hill that are E85, and 85% ethanol is coming to town. In Woodstock in the next week an E85 pump at an independent gas station will bring that to the marketplace. It is going to happen in Burlington. It is going to happen in all urban areas across the country. We need to be on board to be able to produce ethanol domestically to meet the demand of consumers who will want to be more environmentally sensitive in their automobile choices.

Does the member not think the NDP's approach on this bill is like putting its head in the sand and not dealing with the issue? The use of biofuels is coming. We can either be a part of it and make a difference and take advantage of it as a Canadian economy, or we can let some other country get ahead of us and do it. Why are the NDP members not embracing the biofuel approach, which the bill would enhance?

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the question really fits very well with what I have been proposing. I wanted to see conditions that would have linked themselves to greenhouse gas emissions for the development of the biofuels industry.

In other words, we would have some condition that would give a priority to those biofuel production lines, those uses of biological energy, to produce fuel so that the incentives would be tailored to the greenhouse gas reductions.

To move to 5% ethanol in our gasoline we are going to have to grow about 4.5 million tonnes of corn or else we are going to buy it from the United States. The studies that are done by BIOCAP Canada, a very respectable study, suggest that corn ethanol from the United States or corn products from the United States actually have a negative greenhouse gas life cycle production. In Canada it is slightly better at 21%.

Biodiesel on the other hand from canola is probably the most attractive option when we are talking about the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through the use of a particular product. So when we talk about canola, we are talking about a product that actually does have some of the characteristics that we are looking for in a product. We can see a net offset of CO2 of 57%. That is reasonable but it is still not as good as perhaps using bioenergy simply as a heating product where we are going to get a greenhouse gas reduction closer to 90% to 95%. Those are good numbers. Those are really solid numbers.

Therefore, when we think of the bioenergy industry, yes, we should think of it in terms of greenhouse gas reductions and we should be very careful about what we are doing with it so that we do achieve the goals that we have, and we do move ourselves toward Kyoto compliance.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I know that a point of order was raised just a few minutes ago by the government House leader. You said that you would take it under consideration and make a ruling. So before you do, I would like to make a comment on that same point of order.

I think if you look at the amendment that has been proposed, the motion that is before us, it is quite clear that what is being instructed here from the House is not mandatory. It is a permissive motion for the purpose of reconsidering one clause of the bill, clause 2. It quite clearly says in our motion “with a view”. It is something that would be considered and reviewed by the committee. It is permissive; it is not mandatory. Therefore, I believe that this amendment is in order and would urge you to take that into consideration before you make a ruling.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I thank the hon. member for Vancouver East for her point of order.

Is the hon. government House leader rising again on the same point?

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to add a little to that because of course I only received this at 12:24 p.m. by email which would have been just a moment or two before the motion was made, so I did not obviously have time to prepare a response.

However, in that short time I have been able to avail myself of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms which at section 733 states that on amendments at third reading there are limitations on the type of amendments that can be moved and one of those limitations is that they should not seek to give a mandatory instruction to a committee. Similarly, Marleau and Montpetit at page 673 indicates the same. It states:

--an amendment to recommit a bill should not seek to give a mandatory instruction to a committee.

This amendment does have such an instruction to a committee. It instructs it to amend it with regard to certain substantive questions. In that regard, it is absolutely an amendment that is beyond the scope permitted at this stage.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I do not wish to entertain a debate, but I will hear the hon. member for Vancouver East one more time.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, very briefly, maybe the government House leader has not had an opportunity to read the amendment carefully, but it is quite clear that it is not mandatory. The wording clearly says “for the purpose of reconsidering clause 2 with a view”. This is not something that is mandatory. It leaves it open to the committee. I think it is well within the rules of the House to allow this amendment to stand.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It appears to me that the hon. member for Vancouver East is repeating a point that she has already made. I am afraid that if I recognize the hon. government House leader, he is also going to repeat something he has already said. Therefore, I will hear him one more time but I am looking forward to new information.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Vancouver East said “with a view to” and then she did not bother to read the next words, which are, “making sure that”, and then there are the instructions on what the committee is supposed to substantively achieve. That is a mandatory instruction. The phrase “a view to” is optional but “making sure” is quite mandatory in anybody's understanding of the English language.