Mr. Speaker, Bill S-210 is before the House again. It is important for the House to reflect on the co-operation provided by the opposition in processing the bill through the House.
This bill came before us before the Prime Minister, in his wisdom, decided to prorogue Parliament and shut down the work of the House.
Regardless of the actions of the Prime Minister in failing to expedite the passage of the bill our parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development was entirely co-operative with the Senate and with the government in bringing the bill forward in an expeditious manner.
This bill would simply make the practice of the office of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development mandatory. In other words it would require that the reports be delivered not only to the House but to the other place.
Why should we pass the bill? What is the point? The experience that we have had with the other house over the last two weeks really questions whether or not the other place even cares to hear from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.
When I spoke to this bill previously, I spoke glowingly of the work over decades by that office. The office of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development is very important to this country. That division of the Auditor General's office delivers very important reports on behalf of Canadians, analyzing how well the Government of Canada is doing on delivering on its mandate, its mandate set out in law, its mandate set out in international agreements and bilateral arrangements about the environment and the protection of the environment.
What do we have? The government wants to require, not just suggest, that the commissioner also speak to the other place about the matters he has been working on and be required to report. The question I would put before the House is, what is the point? We have the circumstance of what happened in the other place in the last two weeks where reprehensibly, that place killed a bill passed by this House, by the majority of duly elected members of this House.
The Senate was created as a place of sober second thought. It was established as a place where there would be different representatives from a cross-section of society to look at legislation proposed by the elected representatives to see if there were gaps, to see if there was anything missing, to see if anything should shift to make sure that any legislation coming from the House reflected the best interests of Canadians.
What did that place do to a bill on climate change passed by a majority of members of this House? We have heard from many Canadians and I will share some of those thoughts of Canadians on the actions by that place.
Let me remind the House of a report delivered to the House by the commissioner himself in 2009. The commissioner presented to the House and also presented to the Senate an audit report on actions taken by the government on addressing climate change, on delivering on its own promises to reduce climate change. Let me again share with the House some of the highlights of that report by the commissioner. He stated:
The annual climate change plans do not fully meet the requirements of the Act.... Expected emission reductions are overstated for the Regulatory Framework for Industrial Greenhouse Gas Emissions....The descriptions of the renewable fuels and renewable power measures are not fully transparent....The annual climate change plans do not disclose uncertainties about expected emission reductions....A monitoring system has not been developed.
That was the audit report by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development delivered to the other place. Did it listen to the words and advice and findings of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development? Clearly not, for it made a determination that it would simply throw out legislation passed by the duly elected representatives of Canada.
Despite Canada's support, and without debate, it simply killed that bill. We have heard resoundingly from Canadians that they are appalled by the behaviour of the other place. Let me quote from a letter by two of my colleagues, the MP for Halifax and the MP for Sackville—Eastern Shore on the actions by the other place, having heard the report by the commissioner:
Despite Parliament’s support and adoption of this bill, the unelected, unaccountable Senate voted down and killed this much needed legislation in a snap vote at second reading. The Senate killed the bill before they studied it or even heard from expert witnesses. It is virtually unprecedented for the unelected Senate to defeat a bill passed by the elected House of Commons.
Not only did members in the other place ignore the information, advice and audit report of the commissioner, they failed to give any opportunity to Canadians to speak to that bill and to express their opinion on whether or not that bill passed by the duly elected representatives in the House of Commons should proceed.
Let me share what one of the senators had to say about the actions of that place:
In voting to defeat Bill C311, the Conservative senators betrayed the democratic process. They did so without debating the bill, although they had 193 days to do so. They also killed the bill before it could reach committee stage where it would have received detailed study. And, they still would have had third reading to defeat it.
I have received letters from Canadians from across the country who are absolutely dismayed at the actions of that place having had the opportunity to see the testimony before the committee of this House, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and having had the opportunity to hear the speeches by elected representatives who spoke in support of that bill over and over in this House.
One person wrote to me and said that they were shocked and appalled to learn of the defeat of a bill in the Senate, a bill which had been passed by the House of Commons. It raised a number of questions and concerns.
Another letter written to the government and copied to the members of the opposition stated:
I am outraged at the cowardly tactics the Harper government uses to have the things the way corporate lobbyists...want them to be; this last one which killed Bill C-311--