Mr. Speaker, at the outset I would like to thank the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North for bringing forward this bill.
I have had an opportunity very briefly to talk to the member. I know that he is serious, sincere, and committed in mobilizing every resource possible to deal with the serious issue of climate change. I know that he believes that in this bill, as his party does, that they are putting forward the mechanism that will challenge the government to in fact enunciate by setting targets a strategy that conforms with the Kyoto protocol, and that in fact will serve as a legacy for future generations.
In that statement of mission, I think that the member and his colleagues are to be congratulated because in that mission we should all very emphatically state that we support the objective. In fact, we can see that the science tells us irrefutably that climate change is going to be probably the most significant threat to civil society globally in the near future.
Even this morning, we were reminded of the juxtaposition of the towns and villages in Nova Scotia that would be affected with just a small temperature change. That cataclysmic effect will be felt around the globe. Therefore, the seriousness of the bill and its relevance to climate change cannot be denied.
However, there are other issues at this particular point we also should keep in mind. The government, through its members, has spoken very eloquently with respect to the most recent action plan statement as a stimulus menu of those areas through research, commercialization and technology and is starting to seriously confront climate change with a template for action.
I appreciate that there are those who doubt what the impact is going to be. In fact, as we look at the very near past many have said that the government de facto had said that we have withdrawn from the Kyoto commitment and others have said that we are the only country in the world to have signed on to the treaty to have unilaterally declared we will not use, for example, the 1990 baseline, or at worst, we will not even try to meet our targets.
That has been suggested and it will be for the government to have the opportunity to illustrate very clearly that it is not true. On this side, we hope it is not.
I just came from the natural resources committee where in a non-partisan way the committee is looking at part of a strategy to deal with climate change across the country from sea to sea to sea with what is called a comprehensive investment in technologies that will be integrated and that will seriously reduce the threat of climate change and contribution to the targets that Canada implicitly at least has said that it is dedicated to.
The members of the committee have been, I think, tremendously impressed with the engineering and practical implications that this has on the future economy in terms of creating jobs, in terms of creating high value added investments, and at the same time dealing with climate change. In other words, we are combining the most important ingredients of sustainable development, economic growth on the one hand, and meeting our environmental challenges together, and not one to sacrifice the other, but both together marching down and meeting our climate change targets.
The reason we are having a bit of difficulty with this bill is we have already been on record, through two acts that were designed as a template to deal with climate change.
Prior to Bill C-311, in its last sitting, this Parliament approved the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which are superior to this private member's bill. If they were seriously used as the template for the mission that has been the subject of Bill C-311, those two acts have within them the mechanisms to deal with the issues and to measure the accomplishments that we discussed at our natural resources committee.
The worst thing in any organization is to have a goal that is very complex in a very large country like ours, which is to achieve sustainable development in our climate change objectives, but never get the feedback and measure what we have accomplished. If we do not stand back every so often and take account of what is happening, then we have this doubting Thomas approach that nothing is being accomplished, which is not altogether true.
A careful reading of those two acts would show us that the opportunity for measurement is encompassed with them. This private member's bill has suggested that we should have periodic reports, with the baseline targets of 1990 and the target of 2050, from either through the Auditor General or through the round table on the economy and development. In fact, those mechanisms are being used under Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.
I have sat on the environment committee when the Auditor General, for example, has reported department by department. She has reported on how the department has met its sustainable development objectives. The committee has an opportunity to suggest what remedial action is required.
At some point we try to separate the politics of environmental sustainability and our strategies to deal with climate change and accurately position us in a non-partisan way with respect to what our mission is and how we have been dedicated to it.
In bringing this bill forward, I know it was not the intent of the member to detract or add a political dimension to it. When we do not use the acts we have passed, which are affirmations of what we believe, then we place ourselves in the position where we may marginalize the issue because of the politics.
I know this is not what has been intended, but if the alternative course had been taken that there are shortcomings to the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and the Federal Sustainable Development Act, they should have been the subject of the bill, not one that appears to transplant them.
At this point we will be observing very closely what is happening in Copenhagen with respect to establishing those targets and we will support those. However, this bill marginalizes the two acts that are already affirmations of the mission we have to deal with climate change.