Madam Speaker, I want to extend my thanks to my colleagues for their support on this bill. I am very grateful that the bill has been an example of non-partisan consideration, even if it is just somewhat of a non-controversial one.
I am also grateful to the Liberal Senator Tommy Banks for proposing the bill and for his efforts in drafting it and promoting it. I am grateful to him for trusting me, a member of an opposite party, to sponsor the bill in the House.
This is a significant bill, as the member for Vancouver Quadra said earlier. Perhaps it might have been controversial, except that the bill is a model for three principles, which I believe are highly important in the House.
First, it is about ideas, not about personalities. When a member insults the motives or the character of another member, an opponent, it only serves partisan purposes. It does not advance the interests of our great country. When a member proposes a good idea, such as Bill S-210, all Canadians benefit.
Second, this is about legislation, the proper function of the House. The idea that the House can micromanage the executive branch is a dangerous one which is harmful to the future of our country. When the House debates and proposes legislation, such as Bill S-210, it is fulfilling its proper function.
Third, Bill S-210 is an example of collaboration. If every member demonizes his or her opponents, it should surprise no one that Canadians get the message that all politicians are a bunch of crooks and that Canadians do not bother voting at election time. When we treat each other with respect and collaboration, as Senator Banks and I have treated each other in relation to Bill S-210, and as all parties do in supporting the bill, we elevate the standing of every member in the eyes of all Canadians.
I really hope this message, which is really quite heartfelt from me, is heard by all the members in this chamber and by everyone who might be watching this debate today. My thanks, again, for the support of my colleagues for the bill.
The amendments in the bill reinforce one of this government's most fundamental priorities, greater accountability and transparency. Our government is committed to improving reporting so Canadians are better informed about the state of the environment. As members will recall, this act requires a minister of the environment to monitor implementation of the federal sustainable development strategy and to report on progress every three years. To do this, the government draws upon data available through the Canadian environmental sustainability indicators, or CESI, initiative.
To deliver the kind of accountability and transparency that Canadians expect and deserve, we need greater flexibility that existing legislation provides. It is vital to recognize that sustainable development is not a goal to be achieved in the usual sense of the word. Rather it is an elusive, ever-moving target. Even if all of our environmental indicators suggest positive results, we cannot believe that the job is finished and simply move on. To do that would jeopardize the lasting impact of our work and impinge upon the legacy that we leave future generations. As a result, we must always stay attuned to the delicate balance between our social, economic and environmental priorities. We have to monitor our progress carefully and frequently and recalibrate our actions as required. That is why the amendments in Bill S-210 are so important.
Though a key stakeholder was conspicuously missing from those consultations, in the Senate, I have no doubt that given the opportunity, senators could offer analysis and share insights that would strengthen our draft strategy. That is why I am pleased that the proposed amendments before the House today would enable senators to review the draft strategy, in addition to any other reports generated by the act.
For all of these reasons, I ask every member of the House to join with me in a great example of unanimity and collaboration by supporting Bill S-210 today.