Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-51, which is before the House today.
It is no surprise that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of this bill. I say it is no surprise, because it contains a number of elements that the Bloc itself proposed in the two recovery plans it released a while ago now, even before the last election.
For example, the home renovation tax credit was inspired by the measures proposed by the Bloc Québécois; I will come back to this in more detail. We would have liked to see this credit primarily for renovations that aim to improve energy efficiency, but overall, we are satisfied with the measure.
The same goes for the first-time home buyers' tax credit. Although the government's proposal does not go as far as the Bloc's, it is still a first step.
The bill would implement Canada's international commitments to the IMF, which were signed in 2008. This bill also amends the Canada pension plan, which Quebec is not a part of. So that does not affect Quebec.
I really want to emphasize that the Bloc Québécois supports the measures in this bill, many of which were in fact proposed by the Bloc. There is no poison pill in this bill. Unfortunately, many of the other bills that the government has introduced have contained interesting measures, but in many cases, they have also contained little measures that the government knew the Bloc Québécois or another opposition party could not accept. Unfortunately, people got caught up in political and partisan debates. That will not be the case today: we will vote for this bill because we are satisfied with it.
To those watching on television and the brave souls in the gallery, that might seem logical. We support these measures, so we will vote in favour of the bill. That sure makes sense to me. But apparently that is not always the case for all of the parties.
I want to go back to some of the things Liberal Party members have said. Last spring, the Conservative government introduced its budget. The new Liberal Party leader, the Leader of the Opposition, said that the budget was bad for Canada, that it was inappropriate, that it lacked vision and scope given the challenges we were facing. We agreed with the opposition leader that the budget was bad.
We had a hard time understanding what happened next. If they thought the budget was bad, then logically, they should have voted against it. However, the Liberals said that the budget was bad but that they were going to vote for it. And that is what happened. During the summer, the Liberal Party adopted a number of strategic positions. Then the government came back with Bill C-51, and the opposition leader said that his party supported the measures in the bill.
So supportive was he that, in the heat of new session of Parliament in September, when people thought the government might fall and we were all wondering whether there might be an election, the Liberal Party said that it was so supportive of the measures in Bill C-51 that if the government fell and the Liberals were elected, it would implement those measures.
So it was not only in favour of them, but it thought they were good measures. So they think they are good measures, yet they vote against them. So when they are in favour of something, they vote against it, and when they are against something, they vote for it. That is a strange thing to do, and I think they are increasing public cynicism. Such behaviour smacks of partisanship and political strategy. It discourages citizens, who think they cannot trust politicians, because no one knows where they stand.
That is why the Bloc Québécois has always, since its inception, made a point of voting in a very simple, logical and understandable way. If we think it is good for the people we represent, that is, Quebeckers, we vote in favour; if we think it is bad for them, we vote against. It is simple. We have been doing this from the beginning. It is not always easy or strategic, but people know they can count on their Bloc Québécois members to fulfill the most important and fundamental duty of a member of Parliament, which is to vote in the House, to pass legislation and to approve the government's budgetary measures. What purpose do the 308 elected members serve if they vote only strategically and not based on what they think is best for their constituents?
I say this because I am not happy about the behaviour of these political adversaries, who ultimately, are tarnishing the reputation of all politicians. This kind of behaviour unfortunately sometimes leads people to believe that we are all the same, that we say one thing before the election and do the reverse afterwards.
Even though technically this is a matter of confidence—a vote that could bring down the government and trigger an election—we will support Bill C-51, because it contains good measures. That does not mean that we have confidence in the government. When the Liberals proposed a motion of non-confidence, we supported it, because overall, we have lost confidence in this government because of everything it has done. When a motion says that, we vote according to our convictions.
But let us come back to the bill that is before us today and the best-known and probably most popular measure it contains: the home renovation tax credit. As I said earlier, the Bloc Québécois had been calling for such a measure for quite some time. We would have preferred that it be more specific and focus more on home improvements that help improve energy efficiency. Instead of coming up with a moderately generous program that applies to all kinds of renovations, the government could have introduced a more generous program that focused on certain areas or certain types of renovations to boost the energy efficiency of our homes.
We believe that this is important, because as a society and as individuals who want to leave the world in good shape for our children, we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Clearly, in Quebec and Canada, because of our climate, the energy efficiency of our homes has a major impact on our greenhouse gas emissions, especially if we really want to reduce global warming and the resulting climate change, which even the most conservative expect will be increasingly catastrophic. I am not talking about the Conservatives on the other side of this House, but about the most conservative, least alarmist scientists. Everyone agrees that we are headed for disaster.
We have to do this for the environment, and we have to do it for our economy as well. In the future, the best-performing, most prosperous economies will not be the ones that burn the most oil. If some members of this House do not believe that, then I am sorry to have to bring them back to reality. In 40 or 50 years, a country's economic performance will not be measured by the amount of oil it can burn and the amount of greenhouse gas it can spew into the atmosphere.
That is clearly a dead end since hydrocarbons such as oil are a non-renewable source of energy. Such a source inevitably costs more, is more difficult to find and will eventually run out. There needed to be a response at the turning point and we would not have been alone. A number of countries have devoted a significant part of their recovery plans to a green shift. I am not talking about the Liberals' green shift, but a true willingness not just to stimulate the economy or protect our planet, but to do both and position ourselves for the economy of the future, which will be based on sustainable development. When we improve our home's energy efficiency, we decrease our energy consumption, which is good for Quebec's society and economy.
In Quebec, we have a wealth of hydroelectricity. We can export it to the U.S. Nonetheless, if we do not want to harness every river in Quebec to export even more hydroelectricity, then we simply have to consume less. This will leave us with more to sell abroad and will allow us to become wealthier. Socially this is good. It is also a good measure for individuals. I do not know many people in this country who are truly excited when they receive their energy bill. Energy is expensive. It is a significant expense.
Speaking from experience, this summer the home renovation tax credit applied to my personal situation. Like anyone else who can afford to own a small home, I wondered how I could benefit from this program. I was true to the Bloc Québécois position and asked myself how I could improve the energy efficiency of my home. I decided to convert my heating system to geothermal. This is still a very expensive undertaking. For new homes it is not so bad, but to convert an existing home, it is rather expensive.
Let me explain to make this clearer. Geothermal heating or cooling, because this applies in the summer as well, works the same way as a heat pump. In a heat pump, there is a compressor with a radiator inside. A liquid circulates through a second compressor and a second radiator outside. In the winter, it draws heat from outside and brings it into the house and in the summer it does the opposite. It draws heat from inside and sends it outside. Heat pump systems are more affordable than radiant heating with those good old electric furnaces or hot water radiators in our homes. Using a little energy, it is possible to get more energy from outside to heat our home than we consume.
How does geothermal energy work? The energy comes from the ground. For example, near the entrance to my home, a 300 foot well was drilled in a U loop in which a liquid circulates. Depending on the season, there is a thermal exchange using the liquid to either heat or cool the house. At that depth, the temperature in the soil and rock is fairly constant, hovering at about 7oC throughout the year. That temperature may seem cold but an air-source heat pump would have to draw heat from the air when it is -10oC. It is obviously going to be easier to obtain heat from a source that is 7oC.
Conversely, in the summer, when it is time to cool the house, the heat from the house is sent into the ground, which is still 7oC. It is easier to put the heat into ground that is 7oC rather than putting it outside where the temperature could be 30oC. Geothermal systems have the advantage of using only one compressor. The second heat exchange is passive and simply uses a pump to circulate the liquid through the tubing in the soil.
Why am I explaining this? Because geothermal technology allows us to significantly reduce our energy consumption. That is but one example. I could have given others but I only have a few minutes left and I have personal experience with this system.
Depending on the model and specific applications, the energy savings can be between 50% and 70%. We can also save on hot water heating and air conditioning.
Geothermal is a good application for Canada and Quebec. In fact, it is rather unusual that it is used so infrequently and that we have done so little in this area.
The United States uses geothermal energy more for strictly air conditioning purposes than Canada does. But in Canada, it is useful for air conditioning and heating. We are behind. How can we explain this? Obviously, attitudes need to change. In the beginning, although the volume is not high, it is expensive. We need to introduce incentives to encourage people to make the transition. Unfortunately, that is not yet being done on the large scale. I must admit that there are grants to encourage this type of energy, but more could be done.
The program before us, the home renovation tax credit, could be used to help move this type of technology forward. This is not the only technology; there are many others, but this is the one I had the time to talk about and that I have personal experience with. This type of technology is becoming more common. We could significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and our energy consumption, make money and be more prosperous.
These types of measures are lacking in the Conservative vision. Obviously, this government does not believe in the science of climate change. The Prime Minister once wrote to his constituents that the Kyoto protocol was a socialist scheme—and probably even a separatist scheme as well.
Do you really think that the people who signed the Kyoto protocol, that is, the leaders of governments around the world, have been manipulated by the environmentalists? I personally doubt it. The reality is that this government is largely controlled by the oil companies and that the Liberal Party also gives in to the blackmail used by the oil companies.
I would like to quote the leader of the Liberal Party. When he was in Montreal, he said, “The stupidest thing you can do is to run against an industry that is providing employment for hundreds of thousands of Canadians.” He was talking about the oil sands industry. According to the Alberta government, the leader of the Liberal Party is the best defender of the oil sands industry; he is even better than the Prime Minister.
There is a lot of work to do. The Bloc will support the bill, because it is a step in the right direction. However, we must continue to vigorously defend a greener economy and truly sustainable development.