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 #36 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was regions.

Topics

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the biggest and most glaring omission linked to these series of amendments is that the government, in throwing out the clean air act, which was rewritten and strengthened, actually threw out a very sophisticated cap and trade designed system for the country, which met with the approval of different provinces. It would have adjusted the reinvestment of resources, royalties and revenues coming from a cap and trade system in the appropriate provinces. It dealt with the question of allocation. It dealt with the question of carbon pricing. It dealt with all those things we know we will need to deal with. Why did the government do that? Why did it set us back five years at least and maybe a decade?

There is nothing here on cap and trade and yet the Conservatives keep talking about a dialogue with Washington. As I say, it is a dialogue of the deaf.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-3 is relatively simple. It is an act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act.

The bill's purpose is basically to update the Energy Efficiency Act by improving the effectiveness of the regulations. The nuance here is that I did not say by improving energy efficiency but rather the effectiveness of the regulations by allowing classes of products to be established instead of simple products The bill's purpose is also to strengthen the labelling requirements and broaden the scope of the minister’s report to the House of Commons.

In view of all this, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill S-3 in principle. However, we must still criticize the Conservatives’ inaction on this file. It seems at first glance that the proposed changes are an improvement because they target unregulated products and toughen the standards for other products.

It is impossible to know, though, whether this is real progress or just the updating of standards already regularly done by the Agence de l'efficacité énergétique. In other words, does this bill imply a certain amount of political leadership or is it just one update among many to standards already covered by the mission of the Agence de l'efficacité énergétique.

Whatever the case may be, even if there is progress that goes beyond business as usual, the proposed changes are still pretty minor ultimately and hardly suffice to lend any credibility to the sum total of measures taken by the Conservative government, which still fails to realize how urgent it is to fight climate change.

Several changes are proposed in the bill. If we quickly go through the clauses one by one, there is the definition of a few terms: interprovincial trade and importation; information to be provided by dealers; retention of documents. Then we arrive at a point, though, that is a little more interesting, that is to say, the extension of the regulatory power.

One of the main changes that Bill S-3 makes to the Energy Efficiency Act is in this clause—clause 5—which changes the regulatory power of the Governor in Council. Thanks to these regulations, the Governor in Council will henceforth be able to target a certain class of products: products that affect or control energy consumption.

The labelling part might also be of interest depending on how far the minister wants to take it. In addition, there are reports to Parliament, reports on the establishment of standards, and the clauses on when it comes into force.

On the whole, there is not much in the bill in the way of measures to promote energy efficiency in everyday living. The bill focuses more on regulatory improvements that can give the government more power. But will this government use that power to make energy use more efficient?

Even though Bill S-3 broadens the regulatory parameters of the Energy Efficiency Act, it is not yet known to what extent that increased regulatory authority will be used. For example, the amendments could lead to the establishment of strict vehicle emissions standards to improve energy efficiency or the introduction of mandatory energy efficiency labelling on vehicles, something the Bloc Québécois has been calling for for a number of years.

In addition, if it is done properly, the standardization of labelling and energy efficiency criteria could make it easier in the long run to establish carbon markets. Unfortunately, given what the Conservative government has done since it came to power, we doubt its goodwill when it comes to the environment. However, even though in keeping with its exclusive authority over trade, the federal government is authorized to set energy efficiency standards, the Bloc Québécois will see to it that Quebec is not unfairly penalized.

One day, the government decided to turn the corner, but where was it headed? We still wonder. The Conservative government said in a press release that the proposed amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act were based on the Government of Canada's action plan to fight climate change. That strategy was introduced in October 2006, when the government released a notice of intent to regulate air emissions. The notice of intent was followed in April 20007 by the regulatory framework for air emissions, which indicated that work had started on a series of amendments to the energy efficiency regulations. Of course, the government has taken action on a number of products I could list, but they have fallen far short of expectations.

In fact, there were reactions to Bill S-3. The bill has not attracted a lot of media attention, and reactions reported tend to be low key. The industry welcomed the proposed regulations with a shrug. A spokesperson for Sony Canada stated that it would have little effect on the firm's electronic equipment for the general public. According to comments by Candace Haymen in an email, all Sony TVs consume less than one watt of energy in standby mode, and Sony is constantly developing new technologies to improve its products' energy efficiency. Reaction by environmental groups was equally reserved. According to Julia Langer of the World Wildlife Fund, Canada lags in matters of energy efficiency well behind most of the OECD countries. She said that the government must impose tighter restrictions rather than administrative measures on industry if it is determined to save energy. She said it was not bad, but that they were impatient to have real regulations banning products that were not energy efficient.

The global nature of the regulatory authority provided for in the bill also attracted our attention. The bill would amend the Energy Efficiency Act to allow for the regulation of products that affect or control energy consumption. That could, one day, lead to the establishment of regulations limiting the consumption of water by household appliances and plumbing fixtures such as dishwashers, shower heads and toilets by making reduced flow equipment mandatory, as its use affects energy consumption

Up to now, however, in its famous green plan, the Conservative government has shown that, even in the establishment of greenhouse gas reduction targets, it still prefers the oil companies to the environment, advocating an intensity reduction approach over absolute reduction targets, thus encouraging the industry, whose greenhouse gas emissions have grown by nearly 50% since 1990, to continue its polluting development.

Although strengthening energy efficiency legislation is a positive thing in itself, strong and integrated measures are needed to produce tangible results. Only real political will can achieve this, something sorely lacking among the Prime Minister's troops.

It must also be said that the government's plan is ineffective. The government released its greenhouse gas regulatory framework on April 26, 2007. The plan is based on reductions in emission intensity, in other words, emission reduction for each unit of goods produced regardless of the number of goods produced. The reductions planned in this regulatory framework are 6% of the intensity based on the 2006 level for the first three years of its application, that is, from 2008 to 2010. For the years following, the subsequent annual reduction would be 2% of the intensity.

According to Conservative government projections, which, in the opinion of the national round table on the environment and the economy, are probably exaggerated, this intensity reduction in connection with other measures, that is environmental programs, should make it possible to stabilize Canadian emissions between 2010 and 2012 and result in an absolute 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2020. As I said, it was probably exaggerated.

Although Canada has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions over the 2008-12 period by an average of 6% in comparison with 1990, it plans to limit the growth of its emissions and start reducing them only at the end of this period. In 2012, therefore, Canada will probably emit more than 180 metric tonnes over the target it set for itself in the Kyoto protocol. In plain English, even if the optimistic forecasts turn out to be right, the Conservative plan will not achieve the levels required under the Kyoto protocol until more than 10 years after its deadline.

I should say as well that this plan is very unfair to Quebec. Quebec has tried very hard. For example, a Quebec aluminum plant that has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% in comparison with 1990 will still have to accept the same intensity reductions as a tar sands plant in Alberta whose emissions have doubled since 1990. In addition, plans like this based on intensity targets will not utilize the full potential of a carbon exchange in Montreal. Companies will be allowed to reduce the intensity of their emissions without regard for their total emissions, and that reduces the attraction of the carbon credit market. This means that Quebec’s manufacturing industry will be doubly penalized because it will not benefit as much from its efforts as it would have under a system with absolute targets.

We know now that the dinosaurs and the Conservatives co-existed—a certain secretary told us so last week—and knowing that oil is a fossil fuel, we might expect that there would be a bit of the Conservatives in oil. Sure enough, their program to reduce greenhouse gases still favours the oil companies. Climate change is one of the most important challenges facing humanity. The scientific evidence is mounting and the consequences are stunning. We must act without delay in a way that is both effective and fair.

The Bloc Québécois has long proposed a credible greenhouse gas reduction plan that is based on the polluter pays principle and that fully recognizes the efforts made since 1990. For years we have been demanding a plan to implement the Kyoto protocol, that is to say, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the 2008-12 period by an average of 6% below the 1990 level. Unfortunately, the result of the Liberals’ inaction and the ideologically driven stubbornness of the Conservatives is that there is no chance now of fully achieving our targets under the Kyoto protocol. Far from being an excuse to give up, though, this should motivate us now to roll up our sleeves and do all we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible.

In addition to the measures that will reduce Quebec's dependency on oil, the Bloc Québécois is proposing a plan based on certain fundamental principles: respect for international commitments, application of the polluter-pay principle, fairness in effort required and full respect for Quebec's jurisdiction. The Bloc Québécois is therefore proposing a plan that will enable Canada to get back on track and to move as close as possible to the targets set by the Kyoto protocol by 2012. Furthermore, the plan will attempt to meet the reduction target recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to prevent climate change with irreversible consequences, that is a reduction of 25% to 40% in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 1990 levels, by 2020.

The plan is based on: establishing reduction targets in the short and medium term, that is between 2012 and 2020, with 1990 as the reference year; the use of a territorial approach; establishing a carbon exchange in Montreal; and federal measures that the government can implement in its own areas of jurisdiction.

The territorial approach assigns, by province, targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases in Canada. Thus, every province must meet certain conditions, including agreeing to a reduction of emissions equivalent to or greater than the targets set by the government. In other words, we are talking about reduction targets based on a territorial approach and a carbon market with tradeable permits, which would benefit those who have already met their objectives.

We must have measures to reduce greenhouse gases such as stricter vehicle emission standards to improve their energy efficiency, manufacturing standards for vehicles and programs to encourage the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles. It is also important to have mandatory fuel efficiency labelling to increase awareness and to help citizens make informed choices when they must purchase appliances, vehicles or any energy consuming item. We must also improve programs for developing and converting to renewable energy.

I will close by stating that, in principle, we support this bill. However, we demand and continue to expect from this Conservative government energy measures that will decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, there was a meeting of scientists in Europe recently. They have found that the oceans are rising at twice the rate of what had been expected just two short years ago.

The ice caps in Greenland and in the Antarctic are disappearing far quicker than anybody had ever anticipated. This will have a profound impact on communities in low-lying areas as well as the temperatures of our oceans and our planet.

The government must work with other countries and attend the meeting in Copenhagen at the end of the year. In terms of moving toward Kyoto two, we must develop a system of trading where carbon has a price. We need to develop a carbon-based system where there is a price on carbon and we can use the market to bring down the emission of greenhouse gases. Could my colleague comment on that?

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, although the member did not say so, I would nevertheless like to emphasize that I believe that time is of the essence. Many scientists have been speaking out on this for the past few months and have even gone as far as saying that it is irreversible at this time. However, I would like to be more optimistic and believe that every person of goodwill and every country of goodwill must immediately make an effort.

There have been some unwarranted deliberate delays when it comes to action that could be taken to fight greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, Canada is one of the countries guilty of this and we must now take real, rigorous action to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible.

It is clear that if we do not take action immediately, the repercussions will be catastrophic, as we have already seen. The member mentioned rapidly melting polar ice. For all practical purposes, that ice was a source of water, but it was melting at a normal pace. Now it is melting much faster. We must act quickly and stop wasting time. The fight against greenhouse gases has become an economy in itself and is encouraging people to fight together.

A carbon exchange would really allow those who are incapable of reducing their emissions quickly to enable others to install systems to save the planet as quickly as possible.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, as always, I listened closely to the member from Sherbrooke's speech. Unfortunately, we often disagree on free trade issues, as we will this evening when we vote on the shipbuilding issue. It is unfortunate that the Bloc Québécois does not support what Quebec workers want.

However, when it comes to this particular environmental issue, we are in complete agreement. I listened closely to my colleague's speech, in which he said that the Conservative government's approach leaves much to be desired. They are doing so little, but we need so much more to really address the environmental challenges of climate change.

Given that Barack Obama's administration has done so much—it has addressed the issue of household appliances with a much broader program 10 times bigger than what this bill calls for—does the member for Sherbrooke think that both the Conservative government and this bill are basically a huge failure in light of everything we have to do, as he so rightly said, to address climate change?

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, as you know, the Prime Minister is in the United States today, giving interviews to American newspapers. We know that the Conservatives are only just starting to believe that environmental problems and greenhouse gases are harmful to life on this earth. They are only just starting to believe that this might be true, since, as I said earlier, the Conservatives have said that humans coexisted with dinosaurs. The more things change, the more they stay the same. There is a huge lack of will on the Conservatives' part.

All the Prime Minister sees in what Mr. Obama is saying is the publicity it can get for him. He may be thinking he can win a majority in the next election. I am here to say he can forget about that. At present, the Prime Minister is not yet sure he can do anything, not because he does not have the capacity or the means. We can see this from what the NDP member said. Canada's investment is minimal compared to what the United States is investing. It shows that the government has an astounding lack of will to act on energy efficiency and, by the same token, greenhouse gases and climate change.

When we talked about how the Northwest Passage is opening up, we even wondered whether it did not suit the Conservatives to have a faster passage through the north, since they want to develop the natural resources there. In the final analysis, I wonder whether the Conservative government is letting things slide on greenhouse gases and energy efficiency for purely financial and economic reasons.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The member for Terrebonne—Blainville for a quick question.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed the member for Sherbrooke's speech. He has a special ability to give excellent examples that help us understand what can happen. I would like to focus on what he said about the Conservatives keeping company with dinosaurs. We all know what happened to the dinosaurs: they were trapped in the ice and one day, they disappeared.

With that in mind, I have a question for my colleague. This bill is simple enough in and of itself, but to really understand it, one has to have a good grasp of the history of environmental policy. The provinces want a territorial approach. In this case, does the bill call for a territorial approach?

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Sherbrooke has one minute to answer.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, the government's regulatory framework is based on reductions in intensity that have nothing to do with territorial reductions. In this case, that is not good for Quebec.

Over a period of time, Quebec made significant reductions, especially in some industries. During that same period, Alberta's greenhouse gas emissions increased by nearly 50%. That is bad for several provinces, particularly for Quebec, which has been making a sustained effort over several years to reduce greenhouse gases significantly. It is not good for Quebec and it is not fair. Intensity targets also do not get us any closer to setting up a carbon exchange. That is not good for Quebec either. We are still waiting for the Conservative government to change its ideology and come up with measures that are better for the situation as a whole.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

March 30th, 2009 / 5:25 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I am rising to speak to Bill S-3. It is a very important concept, but as hon. members will see from my remarks today, the bill does not go anywhere near far enough. A number of my colleagues in the House have said it is nice that we are taking some measures, but if we are to get serious about addressing pollution control and climate change, there is far more that needs to be done.

Why is energy efficiency important? Why would we even bother to bring forward amendments like this? We need to reduce our energy use. Why do we need to reduce energy use? Because most of our energy generation in Canada at this point in time, except for hydroelectricity, is fossil fuel based. Fossil fuel based power is the largest source of greenhouse gases that are emitted in Canada, and also the largest source of a number of pollutants.

Coal-fired power, which happens to be the largest source of greenhouse gases being emitted in Canada right now, is also the largest source of industrial mercury in Canada. It has been designated by the Government of Canada as being the priority substance for reduction. By getting more effective with energy use, we can reduce pollution and neurotoxins.

It provides cost savings. By reducing energy use, we save a lot of money not only to individual homeowners and business owners, but also to the Government of Canada. In this time of economic crisis when programs that should be supported are being cut left, right and centre, we could make a lot more revenue available to good programs if we cut energy use.

We can also save a lot of money, if people cut down their energy use, by building new generation facilities and transmission lines. The costs that individual homeowners, businesses and the government pay for electricity are based on the development of new generation and transmission lines, some of those transmission lines being built for export.

There is also the environmental impacts associated with the generation of electricity: the coal mines, the cooling ponds and so forth. Overall, it is a laudatory objective. The preamble of Bill S-3 states:

Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring sustained improvement in the efficient use of energy in all sectors of the Canadian economy;

I will speak to that in a minute and talk about the inadequacies of the bill in dealing with what the preamble states.

Now more than ever the federal government needs to assert its powers to trigger energy efficient measures. We can do that through environmental protection measures. By having strict environmental controls, we encourage industry to be more efficient in how it generates power and to look for ways where it can actually encourage people to retrofit their homes.

One concrete example of that is in California where Pacific Gas and Electric Company determined it made more sense rather than build a new, big, expensive generation facility, to pay people to retrofit their homes and businesses. It has been a very successful program. The end result was that they got a higher rate, but people used less power.

The Government of Canada could also use its fiscal powers. It could impose fees, a higher cost on non-energy-efficient appliances and so forth. There is a lot of market measures we could use that we are simply not using. We could use our spending power. We could put conditions on the transfer of money.

For example, we are sending billions of dollars to provincial governments and to the private sector to test carbon sequestration. We could be putting conditions on that money by saying to industry that if it agreed to phase out some of its coal-fired power plants, we would help pay for its testing of technology.

This bill, as the Conservatives' plan to tackle climate change, is a pretty small baby step in the right direction, but it falls short. The amendments mirror the amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act in Bill C-30, the clean air and climate change bill, which was approved by the environment committee in the 39th Parliament but has not been acted upon. That bill would have added a preamble to the Energy Efficiency Act to support setting continuous economy-wide improvement targets in energy efficiency in Canada, with two sections added to the Energy Efficiency Act.

The first change that would have been made would require the governor in council to prescribe energy efficient standards for all energy-using products, not just a handful, this list of five, but all energy-using products that are responsible for significant or growing energy consumption in Canada.

Second, the cabinet would be required to review all energy efficient standards within three years after they were introduced or amended in after third year thereafter. Through this review, every energy efficiency standard would have had to meet or exceed the most stringent levels found in North America.

Regrettably the bill is not that far-reaching. It is extremely limited.

The bill would delete that second requirement. There is no guarantee that the standards made would be as good as any other North American jurisdiction. This could mean that, once again, Canada could be outstripped by the United States on energy efficiency and ultimately on climate change, including setting standards for the manufacture of equipment. If we do not set higher energy standards, there is a possibility that we could not even ship our goods or sell them to the United States if it has higher standards, which President Obama is moving toward.

President Obama has directed higher efficiency standards for everyday household appliances such as dishwashers, lamps and so forth. He has directed quick, clear progress on energy efficiency. The final rules are to be in place by this August, requiring energy efficiency standards for a very lengthy list of products, three times the list offered up in Bill S-3. I will not go through the entire review, but is a very comprehensive list.

His directive also asks for his department of energy to meet all deadlines in setting energy standards and evaluate them in priority order and finish some ahead of schedule if possible.

Bill S-3 will subject a limited list of products to new energy efficiency regulations for only commercial clothes washers, dishwashers, incandescent fluorescent lamps, battery chargers and satellite set top boxes. There is no indication whether the standards released will be as stringent as those in the United States and whether there will be any mechanism to ensure Canada is a leader in energy efficiency rather than a follower.

Instead of this minimalist approach, why are we not allowing Canadians to buy the best possible energy efficient appliances? Why are we continuing to allow the sale and the manufacturing in Canada of products that are not serving Canadians? Canadians will be best served by the most efficient possible appliance. Why do we not then only enable the sale of the most efficient energy appliances or ban the sale of outdated ones that burn energy and put up costs for all Canadians?

Why not pursue innovative approaches such as what the Pembina Institute has talked about and that some American states have adopted, for example, the innovative electricity conservation option called “virtual power”. If any kind of mechanism, building or part of a building or appliance is not in use, the computer automatically shuts off that equipment. It is an incredibly innovative approach and it is time for our country to move ahead into these more innovative approaches.

Bill S-3 professes to ensure the sustained improvement in the efficient use of energy in all sectors. If we are serious about addressing energy efficiency and energy conservation in Canada, we need to tackle the single largest source of greenhouse gases. Incidentally it is also the single largest remaining source of industrial mercury emissions in Canada and across North America. That is coal-fired power plants.

Canada is criticizing the United States and China for their proposals for the expansion of the coal-fired power plants. The federal government is doing nothing in the exercise of its available powers and mandate to foster the closure of these plants at the end of their operating life. The federal government should take this action if we are really serious about energy efficiency in Canada.

The majority of coal-fired power plants have a 30% energy efficiency. Even the most efficient operate a 40% efficiency. That is a super critical plant. As far as I am aware, there is only one such plant in Canada, and that is in Alberta.

To run pollution control equipment, which we hope these plants will clean up their act and add on more pollution control equipment, they need to burn more coal. We get into this perverse cycle where in order to have energy efficiency and cost savings for the coal-fired generators, we burn more coal.

I want to offer up to the House as well some information that has come to my attention. I sought information from the government on the energy efficiency of public buildings. That is a sector where President Obama is leading. In his new stimulus package he has directed a massive energy efficiency program for all public buildings across the United States of America. We do not have that kind of stimulus package in our budget.

The information provided to me is most invaluable to the House. I have discovered that of the more than 26,000 buildings held by the Government of Canada, only 10 buildings are in the process of doing any energy efficient work whatsoever toward a LEED standard. That is reprehensible. If we are to expect the private sector, or households, or small businesses to move in the direction of energy efficiency, to turn in their older appliances and recyclables and buy more energy efficient equipment, surely the government should set the stage by example.

Environment Canada, alone, owns more than 5,000 buildings, yet only one of those buildings is in the process of being retrofitted. If we retrofitted the public buildings and saved only 1% energy use in our public facilities, we would save $3.5 million a year. If we improved the energy efficiency of our public buildings by 5%, we would save more than $18 million a year. Think of the programs for child care, for education, for seniors, for affordable housing, for environmental protection that we could benefit with $18 million a year. Essentially Canadian money is going out the stack in these government facilities.

I commend the government for bringing the bill forward. It is a nice tiny baby step forward. However, if we are to live up to what the bill says, which is improving energy efficiency in all sectors of the Canadian economy, then it is incumbent upon the government to table legislation forthwith to move us forward into this century and take real action on climate change, pollution reduction and protect Canadian health and save Canadians money.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed the member's speech. I will use this opportunity to bring up a point raised by one of my constituents and ask the member if she would be supportive of it. It is related to wind energy. Wind energy in the north costs a lot more because of the difficult conditions for putting it in, accessing it, repairing it, et cetera. We want any wind regime that the Government of Canada puts in place to reflect the higher cost, otherwise it does not make it effective. If we give $5 off a Cadillac and $5 off a bicycle, it has an effect on a bicycle, but not so much on a Cadillac.

Would the member be supportive, in any wind regime, to give us more of a break in the north to make it effective there?

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my understanding that other jurisdictions have come up with remarkably innovative mechanisms to foster the move toward renewable cleaner power. Some of those are to give a higher rate for the power sold from renewable sources. However, particularly for the areas of our far north, where there are many isolated communities, and this would also apply to the northern Prairie regions where there are isolated communities, many of them first nation and Métis, it is incumbent upon the federal government to put money in to initiate these smaller distributed power centres.

One of the biggest losses to electricity is the long distribution lines, which are being fed by oil, gas or coal. A lot of dirty pollution goes out and it burns a lot of waste. It makes more sense to have localized energy production. If we are to move in that direction in some of these communities, it is incumbent upon the federal government at least to partner with either the territorial governments or some of the provincial governments, or maybe some of the first nations or even private enterprise. To move in that direction is a laudable suggestion.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my hon. seatmate for her knowledge of Bill S-3. With regard to the fabrication of appliances that are not energy efficient, should they be left up to market forces, or should they be directed by the government to manufacture energy efficient appliances?

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, as the House has probably surmised by now from my interventions, I believe very much in law and order for the environment. We are talking about serious issues such as pollution control and the health of children who are severely impacted. I know studies in southern Ontario show that we have a serious problem with the health of families from the coal-fired power plants and other pollution sources.

It is time for us, the elected people, to be asserting our powers and directing the kinds of products we are manufacturing, importing and selling in our country.

Generally, under federal jurisdiction, we are left with the power over the manufacturing and import. We would set a course for Canada if we put in place much higher binding standards for equipment that is sold in Canada, whether appliances or otherwise, or the bigger sources of pollution, including automobiles.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I have a very simple question for my hon. colleague. Does she not think the government ought to do a much better job to engage the public in the use of the tax credit system for initiatives that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions? How we construct our buildings can massively reduce the consumption of greenhouse gases, 70% or more of what they found in Europe and in the Far East.

The government put in a credit system for changes to people's homes. Does she not think that a wise move would be for the government to apply that credit more specifically for initiatives that could involve the change of window panes, or insulation or the use other alternative sources, such as solar, geothermal or wind to power their homes?

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, the member's suggestion is a good one and it should be followed. We should revise our national building code to ensure that future buildings are built to the highest possible standards. Those amendments are long overdue and there should not be any choice. People should not be offered a so-called cheaper alternative.

In the jurisdiction I come from, when electricity generation was deregulated, all the costs were downloaded to the people. We think we are saving in the short run, but in the long run we are paying more.

I was very disappointed that the budget bill gave money to people so they could have the freedom to build decks or renovate their basements. Instead that stimulus package should have been directed solely at helping people to retrofit their homes. That way perhaps more money could be available to more people for energy savings.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, what would she do to mandate more energy efficiency in the automobile sector and in the airplane and other transportation sectors?

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, similar to the fact that the building codes should be revised, it is regrettable that the government missed the deadline, which I understand was last December, to bring forward the new fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. Now is the time to set the stage so Canada has a bigger piece of the market. It is absolutely critical that we bring forward these standards not just for vehicles, but for rail, buses, airlines and so forth.

We absolutely need to be setting the course and directing, not just sitting back and waiting for the market forces. Clearly the market forces have not worked. There should be no further incentives to any of these industries unless they agree to comply with these standards. I know that was tried with the automobile sector under the voluntary agreement, but it does not seem to have succeeded in bringing more fuel efficient vehicles.

The only answer is we need the federal government to enact a law that will direct that new course.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, when we look at the issues of energy efficiency and we recall Bill C-30 from the previous Parliament, the so-called clean air act which contained some of these provisions, we can also recall the government talked about how it wanted to have a made in Canada plan. That was its position when it took government. Now it seems it is no longer interested in that. It has dropped that kind of phrasing. Now what it looks like is it is waiting and we are going to have a made in the U.S.A. plan.

Could she comment on what the government is doing in this regard?

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely right. Unfortunately, we are no longer even looking at a made-in-USA/copied-by-Canada plan in response to greenhouse gas emissions. We are looking at even less than that when we look at the minimal energy efficient provisions that have come forward today in this bill. We are not even copying the United States of America any more. We are even taking a minimalist approach at the provisions that it is bringing forward.

I think it is absolutely incumbent upon the Government of Canada to set the stage. Right now, as I understand, in Bonn, the governments around the world are talking about what they are going to bring forward to Copenhagen at the end of the year. I would strongly recommend that the House consider approving Bill C-311 when it comes up for a vote on Wednesday. That would provide at least a made-in-Canada target for the next 40 years.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill S-3. This bill would enable the government to regulate products that use energy, as we have heard before, and my party is going to support it in order to move it forward.

Elements of this bill came out of the former Bill C-30, which had the misnomer being called the clean air act, which did a little for the reduction of pollution but missed the central challenge of our times in terms of the environment, and that is how to deal with global warming. The government has essentially been missing in action on this global challenge, which is going to require all countries to move forward.

We heard from the previous speaker about what is happening this year. We are at a fork in the road because later on this year in Copenhagen world leaders will meet to wrestle with and develop a mechanism to effectively reduce greenhouse gases against the backdrop of some new scientific data which, at the very least, should be keeping those tasked with this challenge awake at night.

It should keep all of us awake at night because when we compare the evidence from two years ago, sea levels are rising at twice the speed of what was anticipated. That is shocking. We have seen how the Arctic ice cap, the Antarctic ice cap and glaciers are shrinking at a rate that is absolutely unprecedented. Part of the reason is that global warming is actually causing rifts and crevices within the glaciers, which is causing water to seep through and big chunks to fall off. These areas which reflect sun back into the atmosphere are being removed and it is contributing to the problem in terms of global warming.

It is part of a nasty feedback loop that ties into something I will talk about a little later with respect to the warming of the oceans, but it also has an impact upon how the currents work in the north Atlantic. If that current system changes, we are going to have a catastrophic feedback loop that we have no idea how to address. This is a much more serious problem than scientists even thought.

At the end of the day, we are going to have to put a price on carbon. There is no two ways about that. There is no better system. We are going to have to put a price on carbon. We will have to find a way to develop a carbon trading system so the private sector can trade credits. This will enable us to bring down emissions.

We also have to deal with supporting initiatives that work. We need to encourage the use of solar power, geothermal power and wind power. Many of the technological challenges that have existed around wave and tidal power have been overcome, and I might say proudly that many of those have been overcome by Canadian scientists who have been working very hard to do it. That is an inexhaustible source of energy.

We can also look at some new technologies in terms of rotating buildings. There are new initiatives in the UAE and other countries where buildings can rotate to follow the sun and absorb energy, thereby reducing the amount of energy that is required to heat buildings.

The other issue, which is a new change on an old idea, is electric cars. There have been some new discoveries in electric cars. Lithium phosphate batteries are able to store enough energy but also release the energy quickly. Previously, we never had an effective battery that was able to store energy as well as release it quickly, which is what electric cars require. I would suggest the government invest in and encourage scientists working in these areas. A full court press must be done to support these initiatives.

Unfortunately, what has happened, quite shockingly I might add, is that in the last budget the government actually cut moneys to some key monitoring areas for global warming. Canada was a leader in terms of building a network across the world to address climate change. Unfortunately, as a leader in this, these groups are going to have those moneys eviscerated by the government. That would be a tragedy for our country and for the world.

At the end of the day, we also have to look at how we can educate the public to use inputs that are going to dramatically reduce their use of fossil-based fuels. It is interesting that we can dramatically reduce our utilization of fossil fuels by how we build our buildings. We can reduce the use of fossil fuels by 70% or more if we change how we build our buildings. The member who spoke last gave the very good suggestion that we should work toward a national building code that will set standards on how buildings can be built. That is one of the most effective ways to reduce our consumption of greenhouse gases.

A couple of years ago, Scientific American really did a fabulous job. It devoted a month to climate change. In that, it showcased a number of very effective solutions that have been done around the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with climate change. One of the great articles in that journal was about how we can change the way we build our buildings.

In my last speech, I also spoke about the issue of forests. We know that deforestation is occurring at an unprecedented rate. As our population grows exponentially, our demand for products is also growing, so we are seeing an unprecedented level of deforestation. Madam Speaker, you and I know that our world cannot exist without forests. Forests have a value when they are cut down. Yet, suppose those forests had a value as they stand. In fact, they do because forests are, in effect, public utilities. They function as public utilities because they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis. That has a value.

If we put a price on carbon at $10 a tonne and we know that a hectare of jungle in the Congo River Basin or Amazonia can absorb about 200 tonnes of carbon a year, that is $2000 a year per hectare. Previously, when Kyoto was put together, countries with large tropical forests like Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil were leery of this and did not want to pursue it because they thought it might mitigate and affect their development. However, they have come around because they recognize that those moneys can be used for the development of the country in a sustainable way. In the case of Indonesia, that could be a net benefit of about $2 billion.

The catch in all this is that the people who live around and near these forests have to benefit. Where these programs have been tried, the failure, as it is in many development projects, is that the moneys do not get down to the people who need it the most. That is the central failure. The people who need to benefit, who are frequently the poorest people in the world, do not benefit from this. We need to enable ourselves to have a system with accountability to make sure that the people around those areas get a value for that forest and therefore do not cut it down.

If we do not do that, the system is doomed for failure. Putting a value on our forests, which are the lungs of the planet, is an intelligent way to preserve them. Our country has massive resources in terms of forests and we need to do a much better job of managing those forests. As I said earlier, we have rules and regulations that are governed by the provinces in terms of forestry code practices. However, speaking for my riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca and from having worked up north in B.C., we have found that in many cases those forestry practices are simply not adhered to because the companies doing it know that there is no effective enforcement mechanism.

We are seeing forests cut down right to the edge of rivers and where salmon-bearing streams occur. As a result, we are seeing that it is partially responsible for a massive depletion of our salmon stocks on the west coast. This is not an inevitable situation. This does not have to occur. If we are smart about how we develop and enforce our forestry practices, it will go a long way to ensuring that we have stable fisheries on the west coast as well as a forest that will be there in the future.

Biofuels are the coal of the renewable energy sector. Biofuels, in particular corn ethanol, is a disaster. Corn ethanol is the coal of the biofuel industry. We are subsidizing land to be wiped out and reseeded with corn which has a downstream effect that has been opposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the World Food Programme and others. By taking land and planting corn for biofuels, the energy that goes into processing that corn is much larger than what we get out of it. In other words, we are burning more fossil fuels to get a unit of energy out of corn. Also, we are removing areas that were previously acting as major carbon sinks and replanting with corn.

This is a lose-lose-lose proposition. I would strongly encourage the government to wrap its head around this. Corn biofuels are bad. It needs to stop subsidizing corn biofuels and start looking at alternative energies that actually work, such as solar, wind, tidal power, wave power with geo-thermal.

Some biofuels might work in terms of the detritus from forestry practices, and a few others, but, for heaven's sake, to take land and encourage the planting of corn to warp, twist and distort the system, that is actually causing incredible damage.

Another interesting thing that has happened concerns carbon scrubbers. We now know that there are proposals and developments that enable us to actually scrub the air of carbon dioxide, transferring that into a situation where the carbon is being pulled out of the atmosphere. I would submit that is something we need to consider and need to look at and I would encourage the government to do this.

Something the Liberal Party railed against In the previous budget was the government's failure to support research and development. We know that research and development will be the cornerstone of our country's ability to be competitive in the changing economy that will come out of the economic tsunami that has rolled across our planet and destroyed so many people's finances, so many countries' economies and has hurt so many people here in Canada and around the world.

The government must stop its antipathy toward science and research and understand clearly that research and development is one of the key cornerstones of the future of our country. The failure to invest in this will cause huge economic damage to our people and our country and it will result in the egress of a loss of some of our best and brightest minds.

Back in the late 1990s the then Liberal government saw this as a priority. After the deficits were slayed, the then government of Jean Chrétien put moneys into research and development dramatically. As a result of that, we were able to attract some of the best and brightest scientists from around the world. We have started to actually get to the forefront of science and research in many fields, whether it is medicine, physics, chemistry, proteomics or genomics.

In our neck of the woods, adaptive optics is being done at the Hertzberg Institute of Astrophysics. In fact, we are the third leader in the world in astronomy

What is happening now, whether it is in the Hertzberg Institute of Astrophysics, in Genome Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Research or NSERC, the sudden cut of moneys by the government at a time when an economic stimulus demands that it invests in research and development, will negatively and profoundly affect the ability of our country to be economically competitive in the future.

What the government is doing is harming the future of our children and of our grandchildren and we cannot allow that to occur.

I know that my party, the Liberal Party, has told the government, loud and clear, to get smart and understand the importance of research and development and understand that it is a cornerstone of our economy. We cannot divorce publicly funded research and development from the future of our economy or our nation. It is critically important.

It also speaks to the critical importance of the government to invest in scientific research and climate change. We know there is a great deal of skepticism on the other side that this is even occurring. We know the government thinks this is simply a natural ebb and flow of temperature changes over time. However, that ignores 99% of the scientists who have made a clear, compelling and provocative argument to say that this is not simply the normal variance of temperature over time, that this is a fact. Unless the government deals with this now and works with other countries, the future of our nation and our world will be compromised. It is a very serious problem because we are dealing with the extinction of a lot of species. I do not want to be alarmist about it but we are one of those species. It is critically important that the government do this.

The government also needs to look at best practices. One of the singular failures that we have seen, for some strange reason, is the inability of the government to say that it does not need to necessarily reinvent the wheel, but as a first step we should look at best practices within our country and around the world. We should draw them together to ensure those best practices are moved out from the bench, from theory, from small practices and into a much larger acceptance and involvement by a greater number of people. This can and has to be done and it is simple to do.

Why not create a centre for best practices at the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and all of the different scientific areas, whether it is NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC? We can take best practices in all those areas and do a good job of trying to share them with others in our country and with those around the world.

When the world comes to Copenhagen at the end of this year, Canada will be sitting there but we cannot be a second rate player in this. We cannot sit on the sidelines and simply see where this goes. What is required, before the world comes to Copenhagen, is that we start to develop and begin to lead. We develop a coalition of the willing, and there is no reason the government cannot do that.

We know that President Obama is trying. I believe 10% of the $783 billion stimulus package is devoted to climate change. The Americans are trying to find ways to bring down the utilization of fossil fuels and utilize new tools and new technologies to address that. The president also knows that there will be a global demand for this.

We all know that China and India are producing increasing amounts of greenhouse gases. We also know that as their demand increases, and it will increase geometrically, the impact upon our environment will be huge.

The previous president of the United States and our current Prime Minister have made the fallacious argument that these countries need to grasp onto this themselves and come to the table or we will not play ball. That is not leadership. What the government could do is sit down and engage both of these countries. At the end of the day, they will be impacted by global change just like everybody else. That is not something any government wants to do.

With the diaspora that we have here and have come from Asia, why do we not utilize those folks here and engage both China and India in a way that few other countries can?

We have an opportunity to cease the day and engage other countries. We can use best practices and tackle this beast called climate change once and for all. Failure to do that is not an option.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to the speech of my colleague from the Liberal Party and I took notes on what he had to say about leading, about bringing together other parties, about showing best practices and about taking a major role in Copenhagen.

The first question that comes to mind is whether the Liberal Party will continue in that trend that it has already stated by voting, as it has in the past, for the important climate change bill being introduced by my colleague from Thunder Bay which provides for the most stringent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Liberals have already voted for that bill once before and yet in the past couple of days we have had disquieting indications from some Liberal members that they have been looking for some way to duck from their responsibilities.

Hansard has what my colleague from the Liberal Party just said and Canadians who heard him have what he just said, but I would like to give him the opportunity to tell us that the Liberals will actually pass this litmus test, because when one of his colleagues, his young new colleague from Montreal, spoke recently in the Thunder Bay area he was less than clear that the Liberals' support for the bill would continue.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I will try to allay any kind of disquieting comments that my colleague thinks are coming from us. The last thing we want to be is disquieting.

I will be happy to look at the bill. I must confess that I have not read the bill but I will look at it and I will consult with my colleagues. I am confident that we will come up with the best position possible to ensure we are doing the right for our public and for our country.

Energy Efficiency ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, the member talked about the cuts in scientists and research. I know he was not referring to the cutting of the scientists in the three major granting councils, which everyone knows has the hugest amount of money for research. However, because he talked about the effect on the north, I want to specify one area in particular where climate change is having a much bigger effect than anywhere else. It is with the elimination of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences. This foundation funds, I think, 24 other research centres with hundreds of scientists. It is our only major centre to study droughts and their effects in western Canada, violent storms in the Arctic and the effects of weather in the Arctic. The government cancelled this major research and the violent results coming out of climate change is just totally nonsensical. I wonder if the member agrees.