Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this motion which would empower the environment and sustainable development committee to split Bill C-311 into two parts.
At first blush, I want to state for the record that I am pleased to see that the NDP, through this motion, has finally seen the light and is taking the advice of the Liberal Party of Canada. We are pleased to see that the NDP, having resurrected a bill brought forward by the leader in a previous Parliament, now understands how important it is to echo the call we have been making now for over four years to this Republican Conservative government to table in this place a climate change plan for the country.
It has been difficult for the Republican Conservatives because for so many years they were affiliated with the Republican movement in the United States. They were taking their instructions from the Bush administration. Our policies were aligned. In fact, the Prime Minister himself denied the existence of climate change until it was former President Bush's own scientific advisers who disabused some of that notion and convinced him that the science underlying climate change and the crisis were in fact real, that it would be wreaking havoc not just on our natural order going forward but on our economies.
Dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, the Prime Minister then appointed a third environment minister in three years, and of course we have no plan in this country now on climate change. It is a vacant hole. It is a blank sheet.
For the NDP to finally come to the realization that the essential need for Canada is to bring the government to heel so that it actually delivers up a plan on climate change for Canada is of paramount importance.
When Bill C-311 was first tabled as a whole, it was in a different time and in a different context. Things have progressed and things have moved forward. Chiefly, perhaps the most important single change and driver going forward has been the election of a Democratic administration in the United States.
In the United States we have three separate legislative possibilities to deal with climate change. We are not proposing, as the official opposition, as the Liberal Party of Canada, to hide behind the skirts of the existing Democratic administration, as is now the plan and in fact is the position of the Government of Canada, but we are cognizant of the fact that we must work in synchronicity with the Americans, never of course abdicating our sovereignty, as we have seen now under this third Minister of Environment and under the Prime Minister, but we must take into account those three possible outcomes in the United States.
There is a bill in the American Congress, in the House of Representatives, the so-called Waxman-Markey bill, which sets out standards and targets, and how allocations for trading systems will work in the United States.
There is a second bill, let by two senators, senators Kerry and Boxer in the American Senate, again with some variation on targets but with a hard cap-and-trade system, with an allocation system designed into it, and of course third, President Obama has made it very plain just this week that he is not afraid of using the regulatory powers that he has under the United States environmental protection act to in fact regulate greenhouse gases.
That is something, by the way, which the government has had the power to do for four years now. When it formed government in 2006, it began by cutting $6 billion in climate change programming expenditures. It gutted the tax credits for wind power production incentives, renewable power production incentives. In fact, its own renewable power fiscal program has effectively expired this month. There is no money left. That is why our wind power producers are running to the United States to try to conquer those American markets as we continue to send the wrong signals into the marketplace.
However, the government has had the power to do what President Obama has talked about doing for four years. It has inherited a regulatory structure that had all the powers necessary to stand up, present a plan and regulate greenhouse gas emissions. All that was prepared by the previous Liberal governments. In fact, it was prepared originally by the good work of a Progressive Conservative government, not a Republican Conservative government, under Brian Mulroney.
Mr. Mulroney, the former Prime Minister, I am sure is shaking his head in disbelief as he sees that four years into this administration, the Republican Conservatives, who are now in government, refuse to deliver up a competent plan for Canada to deal with the climate change crisis in Canada and to deal with it internationally.
It is a whole different kind of party, a whole different kind of regime, and of course Canadians are seeing more and more of it.
There are problems on both sides of the House here. We have on the one hand the NDP that, at face value, is in good faith trying to make a positive contribution but refuses to acknowledge that the ground is shifting.
For example, just yesterday, the pre-Copenhagen negotiations in Bangkok went off the rails. The Chinese authorities are now accusing the American authorities of not being sincere in their efforts to deal with the climate change crisis. The Americans are returning that rhetoric, and it is very unfortunate because that is exactly the time when Canada is most needed. Canadian values, Canada's negotiating ability, our middle power, our competence and our reputation on the international sphere ought to help lubricate the relationship, if I might, to facilitate the relationship between China and the United States.
That is hard to accomplish now, given what the Minister of the Environment did in New York just two weeks ago when the Prime Minister refused to show up at the UN to even give a speech on climate change and support President Obama's efforts to come to an international agreement. Instead, what we saw was the immaturity of a government in Canada who came out of a meeting after the Chinese authorities announced they were prepared to consider targets, albeit intensity targets, but targets to deal with the climate change crisis, and the reaction of the Minister of the Environment was to finger wag, lecture, gesticulate, harangue the Chinese authorities and accuse them of not having gone far enough.
It is an interesting pattern of conduct, as my colleague mentioned here today on the floor of the House. It is almost as if Canadians could be forgiven if they came to the conclusion that the Republican Conservatives were deliberately trying to undermine the success of the international round of negotiations so that Copenhagen becomes a failure. Instead of us mounting the kind of international effort to bring the world together, we have abandoned not only our sovereignty with the United States but we have abandoned our role at the international level. That is a very important point for Canadians to know.
Why are we here today debating the bill? Why are we debating splitting an NDP bill? We are debating it because there is no plan in Canada today to deal with the climate change crisis. There is no plan. When this Minister of the Environment asserts that his targets, that he claims this country still possesses, are aligned with the American targets, it is really conduct unbecoming of the member and the minister because anybody who can read plain English, or plain French, knows that this is not the case.
President Obama's two bills that he has called for from Congress both speak to at least a 7.5% reduction in hard terms, hard numbers, from 1990 as the baseline year compared to the government's 3% from 1990. So, there alone we see the kind of disingenuous conduct from a minister, who is not really interested in delivering up a plan, nor are the Republican Conservatives here in Canada interested in delivering a plan. They really do not want to level with Canadians and deal with the climate change crisis.
It was only several years ago that the Prime Minister was in London, England. He was on a so-called ecoenergy tour through Europe. In a speech in London, transcripts of which are available for Canadians online, he said that he would be putting a price on carbon at $65 a tonne. It was the first and only time the Prime Minister ever spoke about pricing carbon. It has never been repeated. There is no regulatory regime here being put forward by the government. There is no price on carbon.
The Conservatives are not levelling with Canadians on the potential impact on energy prices in whatever plan they bring forward. They are not telling Canadians the truth, that if we do not deliver up a good, strong, Canadian domestic climate change plan, we will take our design for our plan from the United States, we will take a price on carbon emissions from the United States, and we will take our instructions from the United States. Instead of hiding behind the skirts of that administration and pretending that there is some kind of energy dialogue going on, there is no plan. So we go cap in hand to the United States with a blank sheet of paper, nothing written on it, and we ask the American administration to write the plan for us.
No sovereign nation state that is competent and actually represents its citizens would enter into bilateral or international negotiations conducting itself that way. No one would enter into a negotiation and say, “We have not written a draft, but we want to hear what you are doing and we will govern ourselves accordingly, even though we know the plan that you devise for your economy and your people may not be to the benefit of the Canadian economy and the Canadian people”. That is where we are at and that is why we are having this debate today because there is no plan. That is why we are here. This issue is not being dealt with; it is incomplete.
Earlier we heard the parliamentary secretary once again in true Republican Conservative fashion attack the NDP, claiming that it had not costed out its bill. That is so rich as to be almost laughable and I will tell the House why. The government has no costed plan. The government has asked, for example, that the NDP bill be sent to the Parliamentary Budget Officer to be costed. This is the same Parliamentary Budget Officer who cannot get basic information from the government on its $50 billion advertising campaign, who cannot get basic information on the state of the so-called infrastructure spending projects. The Parliamentary Budget Officer cannot get basic information on trying to warrant the numbers the government puts out for deficit numbers.
Furthermore, the government, having called for the appointment of the Parliamentary Budget Officer and now referring the NDP bill to the Parliamentary Budget Officer for costing, is now stripping the Parliamentary Budget Officer of the funding that office needs to do its work. It is disgraceful conduct and the government is being found out now and Canadians are cottoning on. The Conservatives can bob, they can weave, they can sing and they can dance, and they can pretend. The Prime Minister is the great pretender. The Conservatives can pretend, but Canadians know they have no climate change plan.
We have not made the progress that Canadians deserve and that they want to see. We have not built on the shoulders of the previous Progressive Conservative government, of the previous Liberal governments. We have done none of this. For four years now Canadians have watched. This is disgraceful because of the implications for our natural world. Our species, like wild salmon, are being compromised on the west coast. There are 40% decreases in pollinating bee species and populations across North America in the last two years.
Einstein told us that if we had no pollination on this planet, we had about nine years as a species to live. It is important to have a climate change plan to deal with those natural phenomena that are in play; such as, sea level rises, temperature increases and stresses on species.
Perhaps an even equally important factor here of the government's inaction is that we are losing the race to other jurisdictions that understand that the 21st century is all about becoming the most energy efficient jurisdiction in the world. It is about energy efficiency. It is about new technologies. It is about the clean economic future. It is about clean jobs going forward.
For example, the government lauds its own so-called infrastructure spending even though about 12% of the projects it photo ops and announces are actually in play. Has the government attached any conditions to that spending? Has the government said to a municipality or to a province or to whomever it is doing business with that it wants the greenhouse gas implications measured not only to meet our targets but to drive up our energy efficiency?
Why are the Americans spending 16 times more on renewable energy power than we are per capita going forward? Why are our wind power producers fleeing Canada and going to the United States for multi-billion dollars of opportunities? It is about winning an energy efficiency race.
Has the government spoken at all about serious reduction, reusing, recycling of materials? It has said nothing. Why would we do that? Californians now describe waste as “unrecaptured profit”. A wasteful economy is an unprofitable economy. An inefficient economy is an unprofitable economy.
This is about winning the race for the future. This is not just about bears and bees, bunnies and bugs. It is about jobs. It is about investment. It is about new technologies. If we get the right set of policies and a climate change plan, we will win the race.
Canadians can compete anywhere, but for four years we have lost. We have drifted. Now that we are facing the perspicacity of President Obama to move forward with his administration, Canada is getting into trouble.
That is why this clean energy race is so important. That is why the need to address the climate change crisis is so important. There should be no more distinctions between the environment and economy. They are integrated. Anybody who is thinking straight and thinking forward understands that they are integrated.
It is our job now to set the policies and govern the way we spend to give rise to new jobs, to give rise to new opportunities. We are not hearing this from the government and that is why this debate is so important today.
Just yesterday, a consortium of automakers announced a movement to electrify the city of Vancouver, so that we could make the quantum leap as a country to one that actually has the ability to power up electric vehicles. This car making consortium now tells us that they will be able to power up an electric car in 30 minutes or eight hours overnight. This can be done by just plugging the vehicle into a home electrical outlet.
That is the kind of thinking we need. That is the kind of quantum leap we have to make as a nation state. That is why we need to have hard caps. That is why we need to have a baseline that is in sync with the world. That is why we have to put a price on carbon emissions.
Yet, there is nothing forthcoming from the government. That is dispiriting and disappointing to Canadians because they know we are beginning to lose the race.
Canadians care deeply about their environment. They care about it instinctively and innately because it is about their kids and their grandkids. It is about caring capacity. It is about understanding that nature is not just something that is harvested and drawn down. We have to restore what I call our natural capital. It is like a bank account. If we draw down on our capital, we will not live long on the interest.
If we restore our capital, we will generate even more interest, so that we as a species and a planet not just survive but thrive into the future and deal with this climate change crisis which is now upon us.
In closing, we will be supporting this motion. It is about time members of the NDP understand that this is about a plan for Canada. We have been calling for it for four years. I am glad they are joining us in our refrain now to demand of the government a plan, not just domestically but in advance of the Copenhagen round of negotiations. Hiding behind what is going on in the United States does not a Canadian plan make.