Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to take part in this debate.
Basically, this debate about climate change is one that is vital to everyone. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.
For the members of the NDP, it is incredible that we are now having a debate on a greenhouse gas emissions trading system, while the rest of the world continues to make major investments and create a market that works.
The motion moved by my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry is an excellent motion, because, even though it is very short, it contains the basic principles needed to establish an absolute limit that respects targets and to finally have a goal for the country. It establishes a concrete goal and concrete targets with respect to climate change.
Under this Conservative government and the previous Liberal government, it has been a disaster. To this day it remains a political disaster for this country. A carbon exchange is crucial. First it should be integrated with the United States and eventually, with the rest of the world. Otherwise, it will be practically impossible for Canada to fight climate change on its own.
The motion fits well with what the NDP has proposed in a bill that now sits before the Standing Committee on the Environment, which says a target must be finally put into law.
The reason we have suggested this in law is because we have seen successive governments present targets and plans, after plans, after plans, that do not come to fruition. I do not essentially blame only the Conservatives because they have learned well from previous Liberal governments who presented so many plans we began to lose count. Nevertheless, greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise at an unprecedented level, faster than our neighbours to the south, and faster than virtually any other country on the planet.
There was this connection. I remember the former Liberal leader saying it and then repeated by the next Liberal leader that it was impossible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while having an economy grow so we had to choose one or the other. I have heard the current environment minister and the current Prime Minister misrepresent the issue time and again that these things are intertwined, that if greenhouse gas emissions rise, then our economy must rise.
This is the most false concept that has been presented in the debate around climate change to this point. It must be brought out into the light to show that a carbon market, for example, is an enabler for new technologies and new growth industries that Canadians have been wanting.
This morning I had some heads of corporations in my office describing and listing off the number of Canadian companies that have either been bought by American firms and moved south, or have simply picked up shop and moved south. These are significant companies from Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec that have simply said that without a price on carbon, it is impossible for them to imagine a future in this country in order to develop their products. We are talking about wind, solar, and hydrogen economy. These companies have picked up and left, and are continuing to leave not because they want to but because they feel they must because they have seen where the action is and it is not here in Canada.
As a good example, in the last two federal budgets, both American and Canadian, when the support for renewable energies is pulled out, for example, and we look at what each of our countries is doing on a per capita basis, that is per person, for every $1 we are spending the Americans are spending $14. That is coming from the general accounting office in the United States. It is coming from the World Bank. It is establishing all the countries in the world and how much they are actually supporting, not through words, but through dollars.
A 14:1 ratio for Canada is an embarrassment. There is no doubt and it is with good conviction that these companies are leaving Canada because when they look south of the border and see the support levels for wind, solar, tidal, energies that do not pollute, they realize that the cap and trade system that the administration there is developing will be a concrete one.
We brought forward Bill C-311 that finally puts into law these targets because these governments will not be held to account themselves. They need it inscribed in law. It has to be put there firmly with an ability to adjust targets and plans as we go along. That will establish a firm market.
At the natural resource committee we heard from industrial groups, from all sectors, including those in the fossil fuel sector that have said we must have a price on carbon, we must be able to trade in that market, because without that we cannot compete. We have argued this with the present government and the one before that, that their inaction on climate change would eventually lead to a crippling of the Canadian economy and the energy economy, including projects like the tar sands because we knew a world market was coming.
The concept of putting a price on pollution, of having the polluter pay, is one that Canadians agree with. It is one that Canadians overwhelmingly support and over a number of years industry has quietly been saying “yes, in fact we need some certainty because we cannot do these large investments, these large projects, without knowing that one of our major cost line items which was, eventually and now must be, a price on carbon”. We have even moved the Conservatives to admit to that notion.
I am amazed by the parliamentary secretary's views on this and by extension the Conservatives' views. The notion that negotiating with the White House and that talking about a carbon market, mutually shared across our borders, would be an anathema to the government is spitting in the eye of the very industries that are going to need to trade on this market. These are the very industries that the Conservative government purports to support, such as the tar sands in Alberta and the electricity sector across the country. They will need access to a continent-wide market because the price, as has been mentioned before, of just a domestic-only Canadian market would be discouraging, difficult and harder than it needs to be for Canadian firms.
The government is very fond of talking about the costs of doing this for the environment or the costs of doing that. It has also been noted time and time again by Mr. Stern, formally from the World Bank, and others that the cost of inaction is extraordinary. In the very week that we see more of the Antarctic ice shelves peeling off, in the week that we see a further report by the IPCC, which has been monitoring the greenhouse gas emissions around the world and the intensity of greenhouse gas on the environment, we still see, in form if not in word, denial from the Government of Canada. It is offline with Canadians.
The enabling of the green economy can only happen if we establish a price on carbon. This needs to be noted time and time again for the government to see that it is not one or the other and to stop making the false posit for Canadians that they must choose between a clean environment and stable atmosphere or their jobs.
We have seen now the taking over of Chrysler. It sounds like Canada is going to have a member on that board. One of the key points in the restructuring of that part of the auto industry is to make more efficient cars, to make cars that pollute less. We have argued with previous Liberal administrations and the current Conservative administration that when we were handing money out to the big three automakers, which we have been doing for years for research and development, for technology and to support particular plants, to tie a little string to that. Ask them, as they are receiving public funds for this private enterprise, to include plans for more efficient cars and make more efficient cars.
New Democrats have been arguing this since 2000, saying that this only makes sense because that is where the puck is going to be. Do not pass it where it was, pass it where it will be.
In fact, here we are today with the big three in near meltdown status, all of them scrambling to keep themselves alive. Part of their revival plan is to actually do what New Democrats suggested back in 2000 and presented to the then Liberal government, a coalition among the unions, the environment and the auto sector itself saying, “We can come together on this. We can find ways that we can make the economy and the environment work together”.
Bill C-311 would allow Canada to finally get on track, stop the games with the intensity, and all the mess that the Conservatives have made of this file. Their plan has been supported by no one. Not in industry, not in the environment, not anywhere around the world is there a viable plan. We will have one in Bill C-311.
These motions put forward and put on the table again are about the need for a carbon market, to finally realize and understand the full potential of this country's green economy, a more sustainable economy, an economy that provides jobs that we feel more secure with and that are for the sustainable, long-term viability of our economy and environment.