House of Commons Hansard #83 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.


Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I just wanted to know what time warp the member was in, speaking about the oil sands and free trade. This is about housing.

Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing ActPrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am sure the member for Westlock—St. Paul will remember that the next time this bill is before the House.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:35 p.m.


Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my beloved Canada once had an international reputation as a green country with progressive environmental policies, but Canada walked away from its Kyoto Protocol targets. Canadian per capita emissions are 22.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is double that of Norway and the United Kingdom, six times higher than citizens of China and 14 times higher than citizens of India.

Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers confirms the data, “Canada is by far the biggest defaulter on its Kyoto obligations on a tonnage basis. And as a result of that there is a lack of trust”.

The Conservative government likes to blame past governments, but four years after coming to power, it has yet to deliver a climate plan. It introduced three proposals to limit emissions from major polluters, but failed to implement any of them.

Another failure is, during the economic crisis, the government should have looked for a triple win, renewable stimulus, with positive impacts on the economy, jobs and the atmosphere. It should not have been viewed as a rescue package, but rather a survival package. President Obama invested $50 billion for green jobs. The United Kingdom invested $1.5 billion. Germany invested $13.8 billion. China invested $221 billion, or 110 times that of the U.K.

The government has repeatedly emerged as an obstacle to international climate negotiations, ignoring science and thus winning one “fossil award” after another.

As a result, study after study ranks Canada last or almost last in terms of global warming. The 2008 Climate Change Performance Index ranked Canada 56th out of 57 countries in terms of tackling emissions, ahead of only Saudi Arabia.

The 2009 assessment of G8 countries by Allianz ranked Canada last.

The 2010 Simon Fraser University and David Suzuki Foundation study show Canada with the second worst environmental record of OECD countries, ranking 24th out of 25 countries. Only the United States ranks lower.

The latter study shows that Canada's cold climate, large size and heavy reliance on natural resource industries do not explain Canada's poor performance. In fact, Dr. Gunton reports:

The traditional explanations for Canada's poor performance are simply not valid...These so-called natural disadvantages are offset by a major natural advantage we have over other countries—the availability of low polluting hydro power.

The government's weak policies are in fact behind Canada's poor environmental record.

The government must understand that climate change is not just an environmental issue, but rather a human rights issue, the right to live, an international security issue and a justice issue, and that is the ones who are suffering most had the least responsibility for it.

In any struggle, it is important to listen to the front-line voice, the canary in the coal mine, for example, aboriginal people, those living in low-lying states in Arctic. If people are impacted by climate change they should be meaningfully involved in Canada's process and negotiations. The government must be accountable to those impacted.

It is important for the government to realize that individuals are making change in their own lives and they want change on the national and international stage. When developing climate change policy or negotiating international deals, it is important for the government to ask if this is something my children would be proud of.

We have to negotiate for our children who are not here. We have to accept moral responsibility for the defining issue of our generation, as past generations did when they fought in the Great Wars.

7:40 p.m.

Langley B.C.


Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her comments, but it was not relevant to what she had said in question period. Her question related to the G8 and G20, so my answer will relate to the question that she asked.

As far as the canary in the coal mine, I remind her that climate change has been not within the last few years, but it has been a long time, a decade, and it was her leader who said her party made an absolute mess. He questioned why they did not get it done, and that question is still yet to be answered.

The Liberals have said that if they would have had another chance, if Canadians would have elected them again, then they would have got it done, but they did not. They made a mess. However, I will answer her question relating to what we have done at the G20 and the G8.

The G8 summit focused on improving the health of women and children in the world's poorest regions, while the G20 summit focused on economic issues such as financial sector reform, stimulus programs and the global trade and growth strategies. However, there was a G8 consensus that the summit provide political support for global action on climate change for the ongoing UN climate change negotiations and for the full and effective implementation of the 2009 Copenhagen accord.

Accordingly climate change was featured in the leaders' agenda and in the G8 accountability report.

The G8 accountability report addressed climate change through commitments related to assisting the poorest and most vulnerable countries to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Canada's $100 million contribution to the World Bank pilot project on climate change resilience announced at the 2008 francophonie summit in Quebec featured prominently in the G8 accountability report.

Canada's contribution was instrumental in helping to finance the development of the pilot program on climate resilience, which will fund programs in nine of the poorest and most vulnerable countries and two regions. I sure hope the member supports that.

Canada will continue to work constructively through all the international processes, including the G8 and the G20, to implement the Copenhagen accord and advance the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change toward a fair, effective and comprehensive legally binding post-2012 agreement that is based on the Copenhagen accord.

Canada's commitment to provide fast track financing to support developing countries' mitigation and adaptation actions reflects our support for the Copenhagen accord.

I hope the Liberal Party does support the Copenhagen accord because that is the direction the world is going. Canada is doing more than its fair share. We are a world leader on action on climate change. It is too bad the Liberals did not take climate change seriously. They talk about the canary in the coal mine. Why did they not get it done?

7:45 p.m.


Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my comments were on topic. They were about economy and climate change, and the first IPCC report has gone 20 years.

I will refer to a true story about a young woman sitting in Westminster explaining to Commonwealth parliamentarians about her struggle to demonstrate the point. The rising sea level meant that saline water had stopped crops from growing in her home. Her husband then left her village to look for work in the forest where he was killed by a tiger. Her husband's family sent her back to live with her family. The family home was subsequently destroyed by a hurricane. The family stayed alive by living on an embankment. A month later the family was still on the embankment.

The monsoons are changing and new diseases are coming. She understands that these changes are not acts of God, but rather caused by other countries with big factories and big smoke. She asked of parliamentarians, “Big, important people, please do justice for us. There is no water to drink and our people are leaving our villages”.

Canada must do better on climate change. The world depends on us.

7:45 p.m.


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member knows Canada is now doing much better under this Conservative government. Our government's commitment to the environment is unwaivering, it is moving forward, emissions are going down. We are working with our international partners.

We signed on to the Copenhagen accord, so those dark days, when statements were being made about the environment, are over.

The mess the Liberals created is over. We are moving ahead on the environment. We are proud of our accomplishments and are working with our international partners.

7:45 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, on June 1 before Parliament rose for the summer, I asked a question of the CIDA minister as to the funding with respect to CCIC and the minister said at the time that it was still under review. That is political speak around here for it is dead in the water. Already that decision had been taken. The drill question was when was it going to be executed.

As it turned out, a mere few weeks later while Parliament had risen and we were all off on summer vacation, the axe did fall on CCIC, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. It is probably one of the most respected organizations in Canada, if not in the world, with respect to advocacy and with respect to research. Its research has been cited by numerous organizations around the world and 90 to 100 NGOs in this country depend upon both its research and its advocacy because it is a perfectly sensible thing.

Providing aid in this world is a complex and difficult undertaking. Therefore, we want to spend both the donor dollars and the government dollars as well as we possibly can. CCIC provided that very valuable service. It had been providing that very valuable service of research and advocacy for the last 30 years so that these 90 to 100 organizations did not have to have their own little shops to do it.

The budget cut was $1.8 million, which is not a huge sum of money in the way the Conservatives government spends money, and it constituted over two-thirds of its budget.

CCIC knew the jig was up when it submitted request after request and it was told by staff that it is on the minister's desk. That also is political speak around here for it is also dead in the water.

Here we have it. A valuable organization that has been in existence for 30 years, that has a funding relationship going back all those years with various governments of Canada, of both the Conservative and Liberal stripe, is about to be axed and it is only a question of when.

I want to make the point that was made in an article with respect to CCIC. The headline is “Another critical group feels Ottawa's axe”. It is an article by Brian Stewart regarding CCIC about a week after the axe did fall. He writes:

Foreign assistance is not just a matter of delivering help. It's also a highly complex matter of getting it right, if possible, through study, research, the exchange of ideas, co-ordination of plans, and, yes, open debate and criticism.

I know that is a foreign concept across the aisle. He continues:

This is the area the CCIC excelled in. It played a leadership role and set high standards.

The question remains that CCIC funding was cut in fact because its criticism was a little too pointed. The government does not like to hear from the other side. It certainly does not want to hear the message and it certainly does not want to hear any message that is contrary to the propaganda put out by the other side.

May I end with the real reason that this organization was cut out of its funding.

For years, Barr and the CCIC have argued that CIDA's chronic attention-deficit disorder makes programming impossible when “based on themes that may have a half-life of six months.”

“It's like planning next year's crop on the strength of this afternoon's weather”, Barr says.

7:50 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have to stop the member there. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation.

7:50 p.m.

Kootenay—Columbia B.C.


Jim Abbott ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the opportunity to be here in this House on this important issue. This is an issue that I care deeply and passionately about, and it is an issue that highlights the difference between the government's international aid policy and that of the opposition.

We here on the government side of the House look at the developing world and we see so many ways that we as a strong, prosperous nation can assist those who are less fortunate. The key behind the government's policy is the simple fact that action is needed for the world's poor, action will feed the hungry, action will reduce unnecessary deaths, and action will help developing nations help themselves.

As a government we care more about action than advocacy. I strongly believe that Canadians want our international aid funding to be spent internationally and on the world's poor. The member opposite is asking that Canada's international aid be spent here in Ottawa to pay for an organization that does not do any work on the ground to relieve poverty. The Liberals are asking the government to spend money that could be spent in the UN's world food program, and the Liberals want that money to go to Ottawa-based advocates instead.

I am honoured as parliamentary secretary for international aid for this government, a government that chooses action over advocacy. Our government is making our aid more effective. Our track record on international aid is spectacular.

The opposition Liberals play political games and try to twist the facts, but their words simply do not measure up to our government's action. We will take no lessons from the Liberals when it comes to our government's strong commitment to international aid.

This government will make certain that our international aid is spent effectively.

7:50 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is indeed true. The government takes no lessons from anyone.

The reason it takes no lessons from anyone is that it pursues a policy of ignorance. It would prefer not to hear criticism. It would prefer not to actually have the facts. The census decision is a classic example. It would rather make its decisions based on ideology, prejudice and ignorance than on facts. That is what happened here.

The government made its decision because it does not want to hear what CCIC, KAIROS, Rights & Democracy say, and a whole host of other organizations that have provided valuable assistance to the people of Canada and to the Government of Canada over the last 40 years.

The government talks about action. Their budgets were frozen in the last federal budget. It took $5 billion off CIDA's budget. CIDA's budget is frozen for the next five years. How about spreading the money around in the UN? That really worked well. That is some action. It sure does not want to hear from anyone else.

7:50 p.m.


Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot fathom why the member opposite thinks it is a good idea to take international food aid away so that an Ottawa lobbyist, who does no international aid work in the developing world, can receive a paycheque in Canada from our international aid budget.

The government is working to make our aid more effective. The opposition wants to see our international aid go to Ottawa lobbyists. Our government wants to see our international aid actually help the world's poor. That is why the government doubled our aid to Africa. That is why we doubled our total international aid to a record high of $5 billion.

Our government is getting the job done. The opposition wants to spend the money for foreign aid on Ottawa lobbyists. We want to spend it where it has the most effect.

7:55 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:55 p.m.)