House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.


Canada-Peru Free Trade AgreementGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to what my colleague across the aisle had to say. I found it quite stunning to hear what he said.

I have communities that are very impacted by the softwood lumber agreement. They have said that they are grateful for it, that it has helped save the few jobs that are there.

As we look at opening trade opportunities internationally, my community is very thankful, during these difficult times, that we are looking at opportunities to expand trade and exports.

How can the hon. member possibly face his constituents when he consistently votes against job and trade opportunities that will help service his community?

Canada-Peru Free Trade AgreementGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I love Kamloops and I will be going there very shortly when the next announcement of penalties levied against Canada under the softwood lumber sell-out are announced. It could be in the range of $400 million.

I will be very glad to go to Kamloops and talk with the member's constituents about why they are coughing up that money because of the irresponsibility of the government.

That is exactly the problem. The hemorrhaging of jobs we have seen and the loss of jobs right across the country is because Conservatives do not understand the connection between a very strong trade strategy and economic growth as opposed to ribbon cutting.

I know, having been in Kamloops a number of times, that the people in Kamloops have suffered as much from the softwood lumber sell-out as the people in Burnaby—New Westminster. In our case, three mills have closed and 2,000 jobs have been lost because the government has been incredibly irresponsible in signing trade agreements without any understanding of the implications.

Therefore, I will be very glad to go to Kamloops and talk with her constituents about why they will have to cough up hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, in addition to the jobs they have lost, because the government has been so irresponsible.

Canada-Peru Free Trade AgreementGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. friend continually talked about an inferior trade deal. Was there any possibility at any time to make this a superior trade deal?

Canada-Peru Free Trade AgreementGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, the member is terrific and energetic and one of the top rookies in the House.

Absolutely there was an opportunity to make this a superior trade deal. That takes two things. The first is to put in place a fair trade agenda, rather than this George Bush style free trade agenda. In fact, we have the only government in the western world that still relies on the old George Bush free trade rhetoric. We know how well that went over in the United States. Millions of jobs were lost and there was a strong reaction to what the George Bush Republican administration put in place for free trade. A fair trade agenda would have meant stronger negotiating.

We also have to get New Democrats negotiating these agreements. As the hon. member knows, New Democrats are very tough negotiators. They do not sell out Canada. They do not simply want to sign and cut the ribbon. In any labour negotiations we know full well that we get better deals for ordinary Canadians when the NDP pushes at the table.

If we have an NDP administration pushing for fair trade agreements, we can get superior agreements that lead to economic development, increased trade and a pulling up of labour standards and environmental standards, which is what the vast majority of Canadians want to see, not this old rhetoric from the Conservatives and Liberals of George Bush style Republican free trade.

Canada-Peru Free Trade AgreementGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about Bill C-24, an act to implement the free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Peru, the agreement on the environment between Canada and the Republic of Peru and the agreement on labour cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Peru.

The Bloc Québécois is opposed to the Conservative government's strategy, which consists in making piecemeal agreements. Instead, we support a multilateral approach. The current economic crisis clearly shows that a market economy can work properly only if it is regulated and stabilized through an institutional, political and ethical framework. Rather than signing piecemeal agreements, Canada should work within the WTO to ensure that the rules governing international trade are the same for everyone.

The Bloc Québécois believes that trade can contribute to the prosperity of nations and, in that sense, that it can be a major social and economic development tool. However, this can only be the case if trade agreements include measures that will ensure sustainable development and that will promote the development of the populations involved. The Canada-Peru free trade agreement includes a clause to protect investments that is patterned on NAFTA's chapter 11 and that will allow businesses to sue governments. To include a chapter protecting investments could impede Peru's social and economic development.

Peru is a minor trading partner for Quebec. Quebec's exports to Peru represent 0.14% of total exports from Quebec, and Quebec has a $174 million negative trade balance.

Canada's main business activity in Peru is in the mining sector, and Peru's track record on worker protection in that sector is hardly a glowing one. In the absence of any real policy to hold Canadian mining companies accountable, ratifying this agreement will allow those companies to expand their activities without being subject to any rules or consequences when they pollute or when they flout human rights. Given the provisions of this bill, it should come as no surprise that the Bloc Québécois is opposed to it.

The investment protection agreement in the free trade agreement with Peru is a copy of chapter 11 of NAFTA, which allows investors from member states in the North American Free Trade Zone to claim compensation from governments of another party to NAFTA when they believe they have incurred a loss as a result of the adoption of regulatory measures that modify existing business operating conditions. The regulatory or legislative changes must, however, be such that they can be considered to be direct or indirect expropriation or a measure tantamount to an expropriation. NAFTA is the only major free trade agreement to which Canada is a party that contains such broad provisions regarding the treatment to be granted to investors from other parties.

Because the free trade agreement with Peru contains a similar clause, the Bloc Québécois believes that it is not in Quebec's interests to adhere to the agreement and is opposed to ratifying it. In fact, the free circulation of goods can hardly not go hand in hand with the free circulation of capital. Where specific provisions are not incorporated into free trade agreements, bilateral agreements generally provide for the protection of investments coming from the other party. All such agreements contain substantially similar provisions, that is, a neutral arbitration procedure in the event of disputes between the foreign investor and the host state of the investment. There are currently over 1,800 bilateral agreements of this type in the world.

The provisions of chapter 11 of NAFTA governing investments have been called into question. They are at the root of numerous proceedings that have been brought against various governments in Mexico, the United States and Canada and sometimes result in millions of dollars in compensation being awarded. In a nutshell, chapter 11 defines a complete scheme to govern investments. In addition, the definition of investments is very broad. Some of the provisions of that chapter, including the concept of expropriation, have generated numerous proceedings. In addition, the current trend is toward extending that concept to encompass lost profits.

I can provide a number of examples of litigation related to NAFTA chapter 11. Pope and Talbot, Inc. v. Government of Canada involved softwood lumber quotas.

The government expropriated the company.

The company claimed that its rights had been violated on five NAFTA provisions: national treatment, most favoured nations treatment, minimum standard of treatment, performance requirements and expropriation.

According to the suit, the government expropriated the company because the allocation of the quotas caused the company to lose profits. The government did not meet performance requirements because the quota system favours the provinces not affected by the system. The government did not meet the minimum standard of treatment because the allocation of quotas was unfair and inequitable, and had been done secretively.

It is clear that in Quebec, for instance, there are lumber quotas for forestry companies. Since a large part of the forest belongs to the state, the Quebec government, the quotas are allocated to the company. Once again, in this case, in an interim award in June, the tribunal determined that Canada was consistent with its obligations respecting performance requirements and expropriation, and the tribunal did not rule on the other issues.

Madam Speaker, I hear the fire alarm.

Suspension of SittingCanada-Peru Free Trade AgreementGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

We will suspend the business of the House for a few moments because of the fire alarm. We will resume as soon as possible.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 1:20 p.m.)

(The House resumed at 1:43 p.m.)

Sitting ResumedCanada-Peru Free Trade AgreementGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It being 1:43 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from April 30, 2009, consideration of the motion.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

1:40 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Before recognizing the next speaker, I would like to inform the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel that he will have 14 minutes remaining when debate on Bill C-24 resumes.

The hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche has the floor.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

1:40 p.m.


Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Madam Speaker, thank you for enabling us to resume so quickly after the minor incident that took place a few minutes ago.

I am pleased to speak to the private member's motion on the greenhouse gas emissions trading system for North America. The issue of greenhouse gas emissions is an important one. We have to consider all facets of this matter, have a look at the bigger picture and consider the environment as a whole.

A few years ago, members of the Liberal Party worked very hard and were very proactive in advancing the Kyoto protocol, which seeks to ensure that the environment is a global issue and not just a local one. Whether it is the air we breathe, the water we drink or the food we eat, all these elements and many others are directly related to the environment. As a society, we must ensure that we advance the cause of the environment in order to improve the quality of life of our fellow citizens.

If we look at the environment globally and stop considering it from a local perspective, we see the importance of the idea that each and every individual must make his own small contribution to promote the environmental cause. When I talk about these small contributions, I am thinking locally. Each person can make his personal home and society in general a much healthier environment.

As regards greenhouse gas emissions, many businesses must now use energy sources that may be cleaner in certain areas, but less so in others. However, we must use energy sources to heat our homes, fuel our vehicles and operate industries that are essential to our country. It is important to be careful about our environment.

I am a member who represents a rural riding where natural resources, including forests, fishing and agriculture, play a very significant role. What are we going to eat if our environment is deficient? If this becomes the case, will agriculture suffer? Forests are the primary wealth in my region. This is a natural resource that we cannot completely ignore in the mistaken belief that it will always be there. The fact is that it will not always be there for us. Members who live in rural areas that are rich in natural resources understand very clearly the importance of the environment. Without a sound environment, people often find themselves out of work.

Let me give a concrete example. There is an Atlantic salmon fishery in the Restigouche River. If we are not careful about our environment, and about that river, the economy of Restigouche is going to lose tens of millions of dollars annually. Without this activity, we are not going to be able to attract the tourists from the rest of the country and from abroad who come to fish. Americans often come to fish there, and they spend a lot of money in my riding. So, there is a direct link between greenhouse gases and the way we are going to treat our environment. It is easy to understand the importance that must be given to this link, to ensure that the environment in which we live is the best possible one.

This is not to say that people in urban centres do not understand the reality. However, there is greater awareness in rural areas, given that the people depend on the environment for their employment. If we pay attention to our rural areas and the environment, we will be able to create tens of thousands of jobs across the country. We must look on the positive side. Some people say that investing in the environment costs money. Is that good or bad for the economy? In the case of my riding, it is good for the economy. When we pay attention to the environment, it is a good way to ensure that people will have jobs.

We must also look at the reality. I would like to thank the hon. member who introduced this bill, because if we do not pay attention to our environment and if we are not aware of the problem, we will end up with even bigger problems.

A few years ago, I met with a group of students from the Forum for Young Canadians in my riding. If I remember correctly, there were 14 students from Madawaska and Restigouche. I took the time to ask them certain questions. We often do not listen to our young people and our students enough. It does not matter whether they have the right to vote or not. What is important is listening to them in order to improve our future and our system. When they step up to take over, if we have listened to them, they will be happy to contribute to the society we are trying to build for them.

I asked those young people how important they thought the environment was to their everyday lives, how important they thought it was to recycle and so on. By speaking with those students, I leaned that our schools are doing a lot more to raise consciousness about the importance of the environment than other members of society. And it is not a question of experience. Those young people were only 17 or 18 years old, just approaching adulthood. The environment is so important to them that one might wonder where they learned that.

Along the roadsides, where I am from, I often see garbage that people could have held onto and put into a garbage pail a little later. People need to pay more attention.

The students told me that the environment was extremely important to them because their future was at stake. They will inherit an environment that smells bad, where the water they want to drink is no longer potable, and where the food they eat makes them sick.

I realized just how aware today’s youth are of the environment and I think they are its greatest advocates. We have some great champions of the environment in the House of Commons, of course, but Canadian young people are probably the greatest possible champions of the environment.

Their objective was clear, and they told me we need to raise awareness and educate people. They talked about their parents and grandparents, their neighbours and their aunts and uncles. I think we need to educate people about greenhouse gases and the environment.

During another debate on this private member’s bill, someone said the Conservative government had no plan. It is easy to issue press releases and deliver fine speeches, but what do Canadians want? They want something specific. These things are often hard to identify. Sometimes too, the government takes temporary action to look good, only to toss it all out later, through the back door.

Here is an example. A program was established to give people a tax credit if they bought an energy-efficient hybrid vehicle. The program was introduced but then, in no time at all, the same Conservative government cancelled it. People in my area were asking me what had happened. The Conservatives said the environment was important, but in reality they cancelled their own program as soon as they had a chance. This program certainly did not cost billions of dollars, and it was very good for the environment. So why did they cancel it when Canadians wanted to continue down that path?

Take the cost of gasoline. We all know it was much higher last year. Canadians had their consciousness raised, but then the government took away the tools they needed to deal with the fossil fuel problem and greenhouse gases.

There is also the example of the ecoEnergy program. If Canadians want to install a new heating system or build a new house with a really energy-saving heating system, they can check it out with the Government of Canada by dialling 1-800-O-Canada.

So, people call 1-800-O-Canada but are immediately told to turn to their own province. Why put this on a federal government website when ultimately it does not have a program?

I could keep talking about this for much longer but am going to let someone else have a chance to speak.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

May 29th, 2009 / 1:50 p.m.


Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, today we are all seized with solutions when it comes to the issue of climate change. The debate on whether the science is valid and whether climate change is caused by human activity is now over and now we are looking for solutions. I am glad about that. There are still doubters out there who deny that there is credible science for climate change, and that is fine, we are in a democracy and people have different points of view, but I think the consensus is that climate change and what we see happening is the result of human activity and human behaviour.

What is incumbent upon us as legislators is to look at solutions. I will be supporting the bill. The essence of it is to have cap and trade as one of those solutions. It is no surprise that I and my party are supporting the bill. In fact, central to our platform in the last election was to set up a cap and trade system.

It is important to look around the globe right now. Often people talk about globalization and the need for more trade. I would say that we have fallen behind on the cap and trade issue. When we look at global markets and their approach to climate change, there is a consensus among many countries that a price needs to be put on carbon. However, there might be a debate about how to do it.

If we look at Europe, at what is happening in the United States and what is happening among provinces here in Canada, the consensus is that there should be a carbon market. We need to have a price on carbon that is dealt with through an exchange.

When we look back to the previous Parliament, Bill C-30, the clean air act, was brought forward by the government. The government at the time allowed it to go to a legislative committee to be amended. One of the things in that bill was to have a cap and trade system, among other changes to ensure we dealt with climate change. Sadly, in a most bizarre outcome, the bill was returned to the House amended but the government would not bring it forward again. That was a missed opportunity.

What is happening in Europe, in the United States and in the provinces in Canada is that people are establishing carbon markets and they are doing it through a cap and trade system.

For those who do not quite understand the essence of this, I would simply point to another environmental irritant that we had to deal with, a catastrophic environmental phenomena known as acid rain, which devastated producers in the fishing industry and the maple syrup industry back in the eighties.

At that time, many people, including myself, were pushing governments of the day to come up with a solution to solve the acid rain problem. It was dealt with through a similar kind of approach and that was to set limits on industry as to how much it could pollute and to put scrubbers on its factories to ensure the amount of sulphur and other irritants going into the air would be capped.

We were able to deal with acid rain by having a strong regulatory framework, by having what I call big sticks and good carrots. If companies did not comply, they would be fined and they did comply, they would be rewarded.

Cap and trade is similar. If members may recall, there actually was an agreement, which the Conservative government brought forward, to have an acid rain agreement with the United States. We need to do that now. We are losing time. The United States is now moving toward a cap and trade system.

We removed the phenomena of acid rain by bringing in a strong regulatory framework, by ensuring the big polluters paid and ensuring there were rewards for those making the transition.

That is exactly what cap and trade is. It is to ensure that there is a coherent market. Those who produce excess amounts of carbon have to pay a price. Those who reduce it are rewarded. There is a exchange for this and that is why there has to be a carbon market.

It is that simple, but it requires leadership and legislation. At the national level, it requires a government that believes in this and goes forward. I am very troubled by the fact that we are so far behind.

The foreign affairs committee was recently in Washington. The U.S. is moving ahead. Copenhagen will be in the fall and that will be a follow-up to Kyoto. Where is Canada when it comes to cap and trade? Are we going to be following behind? Are the Americans going to have the leg up? Are we going to come to the table too late to be able to take advantage of this emerging opportunity?

Some provinces have gone ahead with the cap and trade model, such as Ontario and Quebec. The western provinces are looking at getting together as well.

We need a coherent approach at the national level, a national voice for cap and trade to meet where the Americans are going, but we also we need to be coherent. As we know, greenhouse gas does not know borders. It does not have a passport. It is a shared interest with the Americans. In fact, if we go back to the acid rain treaty, it was Canadian leadership.

I recently talked to Joe Clark and I asked how that happened. He said that MPs pushed it and that they had some leadership. He was the external affairs minister of the day. He pushed it and he was allowed to do that. He was given the power to negotiate with the Americans.

Sadly, we are not seeing that with the government. We heard nice things when President Obama was here. We heard about an arrangement was made, but we have not seen the details.

We are about to find ourselves going into the summer without a coherent plan on cap and trade. If we pick up the paper any day, there is a debate about how the Americans will define their cap and trade system.

When we look south of the border, it is worthy to note President Obama's nomination of Steven Chu as his secretary of energy, which is no coincidence. If we look at his approach, he wants to push the cap and trade framework further ahead. That is why President Obama nominated him.

For those who think this is some left-wing conspiracy, there is a consensus on this. People from the business community and people who are entrepreneurial see this as the way to go because it puts a price on carbon that is determined by a market. The last time I checked, I thought the Conservatives were in favour of that. They claim to be, but we have not seen evidence of action.

Cap and trade, simply put, would finally get us to the point where we could start looking at changing and transitioning our economy from one that is based on carbon, which is having negative effects on our economy, and transitioning to an economy that will be based on new solutions that are viable and sustainable.

The first step in any journey is an important one. The first step in this journey to deal with catastrophic climate change is at the national level to have a cap and trade system. That is why we will support the motion.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Motion No. 287.

As the chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, I have to point out that I will not be supporting the motion.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please, I apologize, I made an error. I intended to recognize, according to the order of rotation, the hon. member for Trois-Rivières. This hon. member will follow.

The hon. member for Trois-Rivières has the floor. She has my sincerest apologies.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.


Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today on Bloc Motion M-287, which reads as follows—it is important to have it in the forefront of our minds:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should work with its North American partners to promptly pursue a North American cap-and-trade market with absolute greenhouse gas emission targets based on scientific knowledge, using 1990 as the base year.

All the wording of this motion is important, and I will try to explain it during my brief remarks. Since the beginning, the Bloc Québécois has advocated the creation of a cap-and-trade market, or carbon exchange, as an indispensable tool in the fight against greenhouse gases and climate change.

Until Quebec becomes an independent country that makes its own economic and environmental choices and participates freely as a sovereign nation in the discussions on climate change, we are left with this environmental millstone around our necks—Canada’s terrible reputation in this area.

That is why the Bloc Québécois has moved this motion today.

The Bloc has a clear, credible plan here that includes what Quebec thinks are the four key elements in successfully establishing a carbon market. First, the plan offers absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets and a cap-and-trade system. This system is a carbon exchange located in Montreal. That is what we want. The fourth element is the use of 1990 as the base year for evaluating how far we have come and recognizing the considerable efforts that some companies have made since then. Finally, we want reduction targets based on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge.

Contrary to the Conservative government, the Bloc Québécois believes that science, innovation, research, development and North American and international cooperation are essential for the establishment of a carbon market. Unfortunately, this government does exactly the opposite. The Conservative Party and its leader, first and foremost, long refused to see the reality. Global warming is a real, scientifically proven phenomenon. The Kyoto protocol is the only method we have on the international level to fight this scourge. It is not a socialist plot, as the Conservative Party claims.

This way of looking at the world—the Conservative way—belongs to the previous century. The states which, in the future, are going to oppose the environment and the economy will be the losers of the future economic growth. For example, unlike the Minister of Natural Resources, who feels she should threaten trading partners who are doing something about energy problems and their impact on climate, the Bloc Québécois supports these initiatives, because oil dependency is unhealthy, harmful and inefficient from an economic and environmental point of view, whether in Quebec or in California, which is the state that the Minister of Natural Resources is threatening.

This government has a truly abominable record as far as climate change is concerned, and it is a shame for all Quebeckers who care about protecting our planet. The more Canada will look at the tar sands, at oil exploration and at polluting industries, in relation to the development of its natural resources, the more Quebec will look at hydroelectricity, renewable energy and a knowledge-based economy, and the more the environment will become the primary argument for Quebec to become independent.

The international community needs players who want to deal with changes and who cooperate with trading partners. It does not need a country like Canada, which threatens progressive states with reprisals, and which disrupts international talks by claiming that it is the world's most vulnerable oil supplier from an environmental point of view.

The Bloc Québécois has a credible plan that is based on four pillars. The first one, which we mentioned earlier, is to set absolute greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. The government prides itself on having set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and it wants to reduce emissions by 20% by the year 2020, based on the 2006 levels. However, the Bloc believes that this is just wishful thinking.

Indeed, the most recent report released by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development is an eloquent reminder of that.

Not only does the government overestimates its ability to reduce greenhouse gases, it is also unable to measure what little progress it has made, if any. This government has obviously failed its test on the economy and the environment.

By stubbornly refusing to set clear absolute greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, the Government of Canada is preventing the market from correcting by itself the increase in greenhouse gases.

I thought the Conservatives supported free market, but here they are refusing to create a carbon exchange based on absolute targets that would allow an environmental financial market to solve, thanks to the invisible hand, part of the problem.

Alas, the Conservatives prefer strong government intervention to help the oil industry and big polluters, while preventing the creation of a carbon free market, both in North America and at the international level.

The second element of our plan is a cap-and-trade market, commonly known as a carbon exchange. As I just said, setting absolute reduction targets will make it possible to create a carbon exchange.

This market would operate in the same way as a traditional exchange, using permits that represent rights to emit GHGs. There would be buyers, sellers and intermediaries, who in other fields are known as brokers. Instead of buying shares, companies would buy CO2 emission rights and credits.

But for that to work, we have to impose emission quotas on the government, companies and organizations, and those quotas have to be complied with. In a free-market system, good students are rewarded and poor students, penalized. But the Conservative federal government, under pressure from the oil lobbies, is refusing to go this route.

The Conservative government is defending poor students and refusing to penalize companies that do not want to invest in technologies of the future to improve their environmental record.

The federal government is refusing a free-market system for GHG emissions. This government wants to keep on favouring one sector over the others. It wants to keep on favouring big oil at the expense of other sectors of the future.

There is a clear and simple concept in environmental economics and economics in general that is known as negative externalities. In environmental economics, it is clear, except to this government, which is fanatical about economics, that the negative externality is pollution and GHG emissions.

By refusing a carbon exchange based on absolute targets, the government is making the people of Quebec and Canada pay so that the oil industry can get rich at the expense of the environment and health.

Hon. members need to understand that this is really important to us, and especially to our businesses. The manufacturing industry, particularly forestry companies like the ones in my riding, has worked hard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% since 1990.

By not recognizing these companies' efforts by setting absolute targets, with 1990 as the base year and a real carbon exchange, the government is hurting these companies and refusing to support economic development.

That is why I invite all our colleagues to vote in favour of this Bloc Québécois initiative.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2:10 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, as I said before, it is a pleasure to speak to Motion No. 287. In my role as the chair of the environment committee, I will not be supporting this motion.

First, I have to emphasize that collaborating with the United States is critical for Canada and we have begun important work with the Obama administration to this end. On this side of the House, we recognize and want to build on shared Canadian and U.S. principles on climate change. As the U.S. develops its national climate change policy, Canada will continue to look for opportunities for harmonization to ensure our policies are effective and that Canadian companies are in a strong position to compete in the North American marketplace.

The clean energy dialogue with the United States is a critical step in this collaboration. As everyone probably knows, Canada and the U.S. agreed to establish a clean energy dialogue to collaborate on the development of clean energy science and technologies that will reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change. The foundations of the clean energy dialogue have been established and concrete steps toward its implementation are being taken. Three joint Canada-U.S. working groups have been formed and are expected to report on their progress this coming August.

The use of 1990 as a baseline for absolute targets as proposed in Motion No. 287 does not make any sense for Canada. Under the previous Liberal government, no action was taken from 1993 to 2006, making a 1990 base year impossible. As the leader of the Liberal Party admitted, the Liberals did not get the job done.

The important consideration is the real results that are achieved. Our plan will provide the right incentives to drive long-term transformational change.

Canada is not alone in using a more recent baseline year. The U.S. has signalled that it will use 2005 as a baseline year. Europe has announced that it will also use a 2005 baseline for its target starting at 2013. Australia proposed a 2000 baseline in its greenhouse gas regulations. There are good reasons for this and that is because we have much better information on these later base years.

We are moving forward with a balanced approach that will reduce greenhouse gases from all major sectors and sources of emissions and will seek to ensure environmental progress and economic prosperity. This is a long-term challenge that requires immediate action to reduce emissions and develop cleaner technologies.

The Government of Canada has made an ambitious yet realistic commitment to reducing Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 2006 levels by 2020, and 60% to 70% by 2050. Our approach is one that makes sense for Canada and we are working closely with the provinces and stakeholders as we move forward.

The Government of Canada's approach will achieve maximum emission reductions while taking into account the economic costs, including potential implications for our competitiveness and costs for Canadians. We want federal climate change regulations to work in tandem with tax policy, tariff policy, technology policy and other related policies to promote timely domestic investment.

We have taken significant action on this front. We have recently launched the clean energy fund, which will invest $1 billion over five years in clean energy research and demonstration projects. A significant portion of this will support large-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects. This is a key component of clean energy research and one in which Canada is a world leader.

Cleaner electricity generation is also crucial to achieving our targets. The electricity sector remains the single greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and accounted for approximately 17% of Canada's total GHG emissions in 2006.

To address this, the Government of Canada has made a commitment to ensure that 90% of Canada's electricity needs are provided by non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal or wind power by 2020. To reach this ambitious goal, our government will continue to provide support for biofuels, biomass, wind and other energy alternatives.

We are also working to reduce emissions from the sector by putting in incentives to phase out coal-fired facilities as they reach the end of their useful life and replace them with cleaner alternatives.

In addition, on April 1, we announced tough new regulations on the automotive sector to increase fuel economy, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing emissions from cars and light trucks will have a significant impact. Transportation accounts for approximately one quarter of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions. Passenger cars and light duty trucks account for nearly half of that, contributing 12% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions.

I would also note that on May 18, President Obama adopted a similar approach to reduce automotive emissions in the United States.

We are also working to reduce emissions from a wide range of other industrial sectors, including iron and steel, pulp and paper, cement, oil and gas, and many more, building on the regulatory framework set out in the Turning the Corner plan of March 2008.

As part of our responsible approach, we are refining the regulatory framework in light of the economic downturn and these developments in the United States.

As members can tell, the government's approach is the right approach.

Motion No. 287, although well intended, is out of step with the United States, Australia and Europe. As Canadians, we want a global solution that reduces emissions and ensures we have a level playing field so that we protect Canadians jobs and Canadian businesses.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2:20 p.m.


Nicolas Dufour Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, before I begin my speech about Motion No. 287 introduced by my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry, I would like to go back to what the last Conservative speaker just said, which is quite horrendous, in my opinion. The government says it is changing its policies to try to bring them in line with those of the United States, but as we can see, it is not harmonizing its policies, but kowtowing to the Americans.

Canada could have become an international environmental leader after signing the Kyoto protocol. It has not done so, and I find that regrettable, because Quebec has already taken the necessary steps to become an environmental leader. The problem is that every time Quebec speaks up and tries to state its position, it is lumped in with the rest of Canada, which tarnishes our record, destroys what we are trying to do and cuts our funding every time we try to carry out an environmental project.

I would also like to go back to what the member for Madawaska—Restigouche said in this House a few minutes ago about young people and the environment. As a young person, I want to say that my generation is extremely concerned about the environment. It is already an important issue, but in the coming years, it will become increasingly important to all people. People are starting to be very active in protecting the environment and are becoming more and more interested in this issue.

My generation will remember what the Conservative government did when, in a few years' time, our rivers are polluted and our farmland is no longer arable. We will remember that the Conservatives were primarily to blame for our environmental failure. The Liberals were no better. Our generation will also remember what they did after 1993. They were in power for nearly 15 years, yet they were unable to do anything about the environment. They did sign the Kyoto protocol, but they did not comply with it. Like the Conservatives, the Liberals have a dismal environmental record. Quebeckers, particularly my generation, will remember this, especially when the next election takes place.

I want to come back to the Conservatives. I find it interesting to see the behaviour of these people who claim to be right-wing and in favour of the free market and Adam Smith's invisible hand. I am referring to what my colleague from Trois-Rivières said earlier about this right-wing idea of the invisible hand and the free market. The Conservatives are opposed to one of the finest free-market initiatives: the carbon exchange. Would this not be a way to encourage companies to be increasingly environmentally friendly and to make an ongoing effort to be socially responsible? I find it odd that this government, which is constantly boasting about being right-wing and in favour of tax cuts and the invisible hand, sadly drops the ball and makes mistakes at the first opportunity it has to try to do the right thing.

It is unfortunate that we have a great plan but, because of an ideological, stubborn and even dogmatic government, we are going to miss our chance to carry it out. We had a wonderful opportunity to have a very good motion passed, which could have encouraged the government to do more for the environment. Unfortunately, the motion is going to die in the government's hands.

I am not surprised to see the popularity of Conservatives in Quebec declining in pre-election polls. They are so adamantly against the environment that it is bordering on being completely ridiculous. Quebeckers care about the environment.

A number of environmental plans and initiatives have been implemented. I am thinking of hydroelectricity in particular. Quebec is a world leader in hydroelectricity, a clean and renewable energy. Unfortunately, when we look at the rest of Canada's energy plan, it is rather frightening. There are the oil sands, a little, a lot even, of hydroelectricity in Ontario, and nuclear energy. In Quebec, our primary energy sources are hydroelectricity and wind energy.

I would like to relate this to Quebec sovereignty. My NDP, Conservative and Liberal colleagues in Quebec will understand that if Quebec were an independent country, we could have made choices that were different from the rest of Canada.

We are not against Canada, but our choices and values are different. Instead of spending massive amounts of money or making tax cuts that directly benefit the oil industry, we would have preferred to invest in plans for the future of Quebec, in environmental projects. We would have invested in hydroelectricity and wind energy projects. We would have invested in projects to help us reduce our dependence on oil and nuclear energy.

The Bloc Québécois has been raising the issue of the environment for years, through its outstanding environment critic from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. The Bloc is the only party to have brought that debate to the House of Commons. It is the only one to serve as a watchdog for Quebeckers in Ottawa, to force the federal government, be it Liberal or Conservative, to honour its international commitments with respect to the environment and the Kyoto protocol that it signed. I must say that it hardly surprises me that the Conservatives, like the Liberals, continue to renege on promises they have made and international treaties they have signed. They are unable to honour their own signatures. When it comes to issues like the environment, I am absolutely staggered to see the government not take them more seriously. It does not even have the courage, the presence of mind or the will to honour its own signature on such treaties.

Coming back to Motion No. 287, I find it very ironic when I think of a carbon market compatible with international markets. I have here a list of seven American states in the northeast and along the Atlantic—namely, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont—which have launched a regional initiative to fight greenhouse gases. The Conservatives laughed at us when we put that motion forward. Now, I am the one laughing because, all of a sudden, they are having an environmental awakening. They had no plan, but now they suddenly want to put one forward. Unfortunately, this is another improvised plan, as usual. In addition, there is a woeful lack of leadership on the part of the government where environmental policies are concerned. The funny thing is that, since Barack Obama was elected, it has suddenly tried to paint itself green, but a very light shade of green.

The Bloc Québécois is proposing absolute greenhouse gas emission targets, a cap-and-trade market commonly known as a carbon exchange, using 1990 as the base year from which to assess progress, and recognizing the efforts made by businesses.

Members from Quebec, including those from the Bloc, the Liberal Party and the NDP, are aware that a number of Quebec companies have made very impressive efforts. Our paper mills, aluminum smelters and forestry companies have done extraordinary work to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and set reduction targets based on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge.

That is why the Bloc Québécois supports Motion No. 287.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

No other members having risen, the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry has the floor.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2:30 p.m.


Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned on April 30, during the first hour of debate on this motion, climate change is one of the biggest challenges that the world has to face. It is imperative to act without delay, and in an efficient and fair manner. The Bloc Québécois is 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. Furthermore, this plan meets the reduction target recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to prevent global warming and its irreversible consequences.

As my colleague mentioned earlier, this plan is primarily based on the establishment of absolute greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, with 1990 as the base year. The plan is also based on a territorial approach, on the creation of a carbon exchange, and on federal measures that the government can implement in its own areas of jurisdiction. Motion No. 287 deals with the implementation of a major component of the Bloc Québécois' plan, namely the establishment of a carbon exchange with absolute emission targets, and with 1990 as the base year.

I remind the House that a carbon exchange is a tool enabling a company which has brought its greenhouse gas emissions below its reduction objectives to sell the tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions that it would still be entitled to emit. This is a powerful financial incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because the company can cash in on its reductions. However, a carbon exchange can only achieve its full potential if absolute greenhouse gas emission reduction targets are set. I should also point out that the base year, 1990, is a very important part of this motion.

I want to make all hon. members aware of this: the year 1990 is not only an environmental issue, but also an economic issue. There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. Let us imagine that there is a real carbon exchange in place right now. I am predicting that there will be one eventually, despite the unwillingness of the Conservative government. So, let us imagine that there is such a carbon exchange now.

Quebec reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.8% between 1990 and 2006. In Quebec, many companies decreased emissions whereas in Alberta and Saskatchewan emissions rose by 36.6% and 33% respectively. By choosing 2005 as the base year, all efforts made between 1990 and 2005 will be invalidated. They will count for nothing. It is important to understand that the more we reduce our emissions, the more difficult it will be to further reduce them.

Meanwhile, the oil companies have been increasing their emissions for 16 years. Thus, they have a significant “cushion”, if you will, of emissions. Their capacity for reductions will be greater since their emissions are already so high. If we establish a carbon exchange with absolute targets and 2005 as the base year, it is possible that companies in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes, which have made efforts to cut emissions, may have to buy emissions permits from the oil companies, which racked up their emissions just in time for the 2005 base year. It is as though the oil companies themselves were proposing the 2005 base year.

I would like to remind my colleagues how important the 1990 base year is to my motion. There will be a carbon exchange with absolute targets. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Even the Conservative government knows it. Many members of this House have companies in their ridings that have already made efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The 1990 base year is the only option that is fair to them. It will ensure that they will not have to turn to oil companies to purchase emissions credits. That would be adding insult to injury.

In closing, I would like to thank the members from all parties who spoke about this motion, especially the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, the Bloc Québécois environment critic who has championed this cause for many years.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2:35 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members



Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2:35 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2:35 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System for North AmericaPrivate Members' Business

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members