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House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was international.

Topics

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member opposite is aware that the Copenhagen accord is not an enforceable framework, so that must have been an inadvertent mistake on his part and, unfortunately, over-optimistic.

During the Copenhagen accord negotiations in Copenhagen, Canada was not at the table. In fact, one high profile person made the comment that the negotiators waited for Canada to leave the room so they could actually get down to some productive work.

When the member is talking about the economy, and clearly does not understand the economic imperative of taking strong action on climate change now, what would he say to a constituent in my riding who works for a solar development company and tells me that private sector investment is fleeing from Vancouver to the United States because of the woeful inadequacy of policies on alternative energy by his government.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I always look forward to questions on the environment from a Liberal colleague, especially on the anniversary of the announcement by their leader saying, “We will have to raise taxes”.

It also reminds me of the reports that the Commissioner of the Environment made every year. In 1998 she said, “...the federal government [the Liberal government] is failing to meet its policy commitments... ”. In 1999 she said, “...additional evidence of the gap between the federal government's intentions and its domestic actions”. In 2000 she said, “...[the government] continues to have difficulty turning that commitment into action”. In 2001 she said, “...the continued upward trend in Canada's emissions demonstrates that the [Liberal] government has not transformed its promises into results”. In 2002 she said, “[The federal government's] sustainable development deficit continues to grow”. In 2003 she said that there was a gap between what the Liberals say they will do and what actually they are doing. She went on to say that good intentions were not enough. In 2004 she said, “Why is progress so slow? ... I am left to conclude that it is lack of leadership, lack of priority and lack of will”.

Those dark days are over. We are getting it done. We were involved with Copenhagen. I was in Copenhagen. We are getting it done. International respect of the Government of Canada has returned.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Langley said that they are laying the foundations. I do not see how, after four and a half years, they can still be laying the foundations. But that is what he said. I think that they are planning to do exactly what the Liberal Party did: talk the talk, but never walk the walk. They are certainly heading in that direction.

I would like him to comment on an article about the Bonn conference published in the Washington Post the day before yesterday. According to the article, negotiators have apparently given up hope of signing a global agreement.

I would like him to comment on the global agreement he just talked about.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from that colleague because I was in Berlin with him at an environmental conference , and he is a man who I believe believes passionately in the environment, as do I.

The new Copenhagen accord is a framework that we are moving forward continentally and internationally. It is a step-by-step process. We will be into Cancún, Mexico, at the end of this year. Step by step we are moving forward. We now have an accord that involves 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Under this government, since the Liberals no longer were government in 2006, in a short four years emissions have stopped growing and are actually going down. We are getting it done. Our economic action plan is working and our plan on the environment is working. I hope I can count on that member to help us continue working and cleaning up the environment.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I hope the Liberal Party will be abandoning Bill C-311 and finally admit that such a bill would be devastating both to our working relationship with the Obama administration and to our economy.

I also want to thank the Liberal Party for its support regarding the Copenhagen accord. I believe within the motion, written by the member for Ottawa South, credit is given to the accomplishment of the Conservative government for achieving in Copenhagen an accord for which Canada can be proud and for which, after 13 years of inaction by the Liberal Party that tarnished our reputation as stewards of the environment, Canada can now return to its natural proud post as a great steward of the environment.

I will take a few minutes to address each of the elements of the motion item by item, the first being item (a). When it comes to addressing the issue of climate change, the government has a number of tools at its disposal, many of which it has already used. It is using its regulatory authorities to set tough new tailpipe emission standards harmonized with the United States. We are regulating renewable fuel content, and that is out for comment right now, and we are broadening and deepening energy efficiency standards.

The government has made investments in the form of eco-energy and ecotransport programs and through investments in energy-related green infrastructure . The government is also using tax incentives to promote green technologies and encourage the use of public transit. We also have transferred funds directly to provinces and territories to assist them in reducing emissions.

The government will continue to use these instruments in a responsible, effective and successful manner that promotes both environmental progress and a competitive Canadian economy.

Direct program spending is another area where the government can and has acted effectively. In 2009, Pew Research noted that Canada ranked sixth in terms of clean energy investment intensity compared to the United States, which is back in eleventh place.

When it comes to aligning Canada's climate change efforts with those in the United States, as discussed in item (b) of the motion, it is purely a practical matter.

Our economies and, in fact, our physical environment are so closely integrated that it makes no sense for us to move forward in isolation. That is all the more true at a time when economies on both sides of the border are starting to recover after the worst financial crisis in recent memory.

The reality is that if Canada does more than the U.S. in addressing climate change, it becomes uncompetitive. If it does less, it runs the risk of punitive trade sanctions. Neither scenario is desirable or necessary.

The Government of Canada is an active and supportive player in international climate change negotiations under the Copenhagen accord, as discussed in item (c). We are at an early stage of discussion under the accord and, in that context, it makes no sense for Canada to legislate a 2050 target. Any decision to legislate a target should follow a broader discussion, both within Canada and reflect our ongoing international discussions that started in Copenhagen.

In item (d) the government has already been completely transparent about the actions it is taking to address climate change. It is already reporting annually to Parliament on all the actions it is taking to address climate change and providing detailed information on their impact. Just today we released a national inventory report for 2008 which shows that greenhouse gas emissions are down 2.1% from 2007, or 16 megatonnes of C02. . That is an incredible achievement in just a few short years in government. Our government has acted on climate change and has got results. We admit that more needs to be done, and we will do that, but compare that to the Liberals who just sat back for 13 years and did nothing and watched emissions increase by almost 30%.

The Government of Canada will continue to take a consultative approach in developing future actions to address climate change, in reference to item (e). That said, it is the government that is ultimately accountable to Parliament and the people of Canada and it cannot abrogate its responsibility to set a course for meeting emissions targets.

Contrary to item (f) of the motion before the House, the eco-energy retrofit homes program has not been cut. It is still functioning and will continue to benefit Canadians with incentives to adopt energy saving retrofits until March 31, 2011.

What has occurred is that like all other energy efficiency and emissions reductions programs, the retrofit homes program is being assessed to ensure it continues to be an effective and efficient use of Canadian tax dollars. In short, under its existing budget, the eco-energy retrofit homes program will continue to operate until March 31, 2011 as originally planned. This has not changed. The program still has $300 million to be paid to homeowners currently in the program to support their home retrofits.

What has changed is that until final decisions are made concerning the continuation of the program, effective March 31 of this year, the program will not accept new bookings for the first stage of the program, which is the pre-retrofit evaluation.

Regarding item (g), I want to talk about the terms of the Copenhagen Accord. Canada has already agreed to do its fair share to help developing nations adapt to the impact of climate change. We will make our contributions to the $3 billion quick-start fund as soon as the amount for Canada has been pegged. The latest federal budget contains a provision for that contribution.

To discuss item (h) about the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, the Prime Minister has already committed to phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. These act to encourage wasteful consumption. The Minister of Finance and Natural Resources Canada have been working as part of international efforts to examine these subsidies. I should point out that this government has already acted. In budget 2007, we started the process to remove the accelerated capital cost allowances for the oil sands.

Finally, in regard to item (i), in addition to the establishment of a cooperative framework on the international stage, the Copenhagen process has also had a beneficial effect on the domestic policy front. Leading up to the Copenhagen summit, the environment minister met with each provincial and territorial leader, reaching a new degree of understanding on climate change policy and programs with most of them.

I trust that this account of the government's actions on climate change addresses the issues raised by the opposition motion. We appreciate and share the interest in finding solutions that are as sustainable as the environment we seek to protect.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have a document from the international energy agency, in both official languages. It supports what the government is doing, through the clean energy dialogue and the continental approach, and I would ask for unanimous consent that this be tabled.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to table this document?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There is no consent.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Ottawa South.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member, who is the chair of the environment committee, to answer a couple of specific questions.

First of all, according to his own analysis of the motion, he should have no problem supporting it. He says that the government has accomplished everything the motion calls upon it to do. If that is the case, then the Conservative members as a whole should stand later today and support the motion.

Second, I would like to ask him this. Could he tell us right now, if we are harmonized with the United States, what is the price of carbon going to be under both legislative bills in the House? What and how serious is the discussion right now by President Obama to impose a carbon tariff on this country?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government will not be supporting this motion. I pointed out all the great things we have done. There are still a number of issues within the motion that the member for Ottawa South has drafted, including trying to force our government to arbitrarily move ahead of the United States and ahead of the Copenhagen Accord on some of the targets they want to put in for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

We are going to continue on with our discussions with the United States, making sure that, when we do go forward on things such as cap and trade and working with the United States on clean energy dialogue, we will come to a consensus as to what that is going to be in terms of mechanisms and in terms of how they price it, whether it is going to be market-driven. I believe that is where it has to go. It has to be market-driven and not arbitrarily set by government.

We are going to see that evolve over the next coming months. We understand, by following the discussion and the debate that is happening in Washington, that there is still a lot of division, and until we actually see some concrete solutions that are brought forward by both the Congress and the Senate in Washington, it is premature for us to start moving until we get some really solid examples of how they are going to proceed with cap and trade.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member referenced the Copenhagen agreement, as did the parliamentary secretary. While that framework does not do much, it does do one thing. Canada commits in it specific dollars for foreign aid. I would like to ask the member why we are the only G8 country that has failed to live up to that commitment and commit a specified dollar amount.

Second, both the hon. member and the parliamentary secretary are alluding to this North American form of government. Last I noticed, the European Union has a continental form of government and it has the power to issue directives to the European Commission.

Last I noticed, under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, the Conservative government cannot even bring itself, a year later, to appoint the next executive director, who is supposed to come from Canada. So much for its commitment under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation.

That agreement also specifies that all the parties, including Canada and the United States, will honour the sovereignty of each respective nation to establish its own standards. I ask the hon. member to address that. What is it that the government keeps talking about, as if there is a North American form of government? We are a sovereign nation and the government has a constitutional obligation to protect the environment for Canadians. When is it going to step up to the plate and actually establish binding targets for all sectors?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I must say I am disappointed with the member's comments. She knows that Canada and the United States share the longest undefended border in the world, that we share the same continent and the same environment and we have worked in cooperation and partnership through a number of different treaties and agreements on how we deal with our respective environments. She knows that we have the powers to regulate and set our own standards, but knows the ultimate goal is to improve our environment on both sides of the border. I look at the work we are doing through the International Joint Commission on the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act. It is a great example of a long-surviving treaty that goes back to 1905, where Canada and the United States work cooperatively to ensure that our watersheds on both sides of the border are equally protected and we work together for the betterment of those waters.

I think back to when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney went ahead on acid rain and worked with the United States, essentially really working hard with his counterpart in Washington. They were able to bring significant regulations to the point where today we do not even talk about acid rain anymore. That is the type of response I hope we are going to get from the United States, that we work in the same cooperative manner forming those types of treaties and bonds that will establish a way forward, so we can say in the future that we have accomplished everything we wanted to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, Telecommunications.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to speak today to the Liberal opposition motion on climate change. In the next 20 minutes I will try to show that, as we look ahead to the climate change conference in Cancún eight months from now, we must take real action to deal with the climate change crisis we are going through.

I do not know whether it is a coincidence or not, but it is a bit paradoxical that the Liberal opposition motion comes just a few hours before an important vote on NDP Bill C-311. It is as if the Liberal Party were trying to show that a parliamentary motion was the best response to a legislative initiative. There is nothing stronger legislatively than a bill, whether it comes from the government or from a private member.

The Liberal Party showed leadership on this issue in the past. I remember when the Liberals introduced Bill C-288, which was sponsored by the member for Honoré-Mercier. The purpose of this bill was to implement the Kyoto protocol. At the time, the Liberal Party understood that it took a bill to ensure that international climate change agreements, and the Kyoto protocol in particular, had some regulatory teeth. This is what the NDP has understood in recent years, and a parliamentary motion is no substitute for a private member's bill.

That is why, in a few hours, we will support Bill C-311, just as we supported Bill C-288 introduced by the Liberal member for Honoré-Mercier.

We think the Liberal Party motion, which I would describe as epic in length, is commendable. In the 13 years I have been sitting in Parliament, I have rarely seen such a long motion. I have read it and re-read it. There are no less than 10 points in this motion. The position of this Parliament could very well have been summed up in just three or four points, as the Bloc Québécois did on the eve of the Copenhagen climate change conference.

What did the Bloc Québécois say a few weeks before the Copenhagen climate change conference? The Bloc limited its opposition motion to three points. First, Canada must commit to doing everything in its power to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2oC higher than in the pre-industrial period. Second, it must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 25% lower than 1990 levels by 2020. Third, it must commit to giving developing countries the technological and financial means to adapt to climate change.

The motion could have stopped there, but no, here we have a 10 point motion, which we support, of course. Nevertheless, the motion could have been clearer.

Let us look at the first point. The Liberal Party wants the government to:

...use the legislative, regulatory and fiscal authorities already available to the Government of Canada to put in place immediately a national climate change plan that implements economy-wide regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, and invests in renewable energy, clean technology and energy efficiency in order for Canada to compete in the new green economy;

How could we be against this first point of the motion? We are somewhat surprised that today, in 2010, the Liberal Party is proposing regulation. I remember what the Liberal Party was proposing in 1997-98. I was here in the House at the time. It was not proposing a regulatory approach to fight climate change. It was proposing a voluntary approach.

It proposed sector-by-sector negotiations of greenhouse gas reduction agreements that would not have the force of law. This was done in the pulp and paper sector and the steel industry. However, it became evident that the voluntary approach put forward by the Chrétien government made it impossible to respect our international commitments on greenhouse gas reductions. Today, the Liberal Party realizes that the voluntary approach proposed by the Liberal government at that time has not achieved its objectives and that a regulatory approach is needed.

We have before us a Conservative government that does have a regulatory framework for fighting climate change. However, after all these years, we are still waiting for greenhouse gas reduction regulations. We have not found an approach that could have resulted in substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The government has two means at its disposal: the regulatory approach and implementation of a greener tax system, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide tax incentives to environmental industries that contribute to those reductions. I will come back to that later.

However, we only have a regulatory framework before us, one without targets and without greenhouse gas emission regulations. We support the climate change regulations. However, we do not want to adopt the sectoral approach proposed by the federal government, which consists of putting all Canadian industrial sectors on an equal footing, especially the major industrial emitters.

In Quebec, we figure that we have been taking responsibility since the beginning of the 1990s. Manitoba was one of the first provinces to implement a plan to fight climate change. These plans have produced concrete results: in 2007, we saw a 23.6% reduction in greenhouse gases in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, compared to the 1990 levels.

Now, all the federal parties seem to be proposing putting the Quebec manufacturing sector, which has cut its greenhouse gas emissions, on an equal footing with the other major industrial emitters. I am referring, of course, to Canada's oil and gas industry. This is unacceptable, because this approach favours the polluter-paid principle, instead of the polluter-pay principle.

We are saying yes to regulations, but as my colleagues said earlier, we must use the triptych approach that was developed at a university in Austria, which puts responsibility on the provinces. Canada can obviously negotiate greenhouse gas reductions on the international scene, as Europe did with an 8% reduction as part of the Kyoto protocol. But let the provinces achieve their targets in their own way, in their own jurisdictions. We must remember that under the Constitution, natural resources are a provincial jurisdiction.

The government has been proposing this asymmetrical approach for so many years within the Canadian federation. Yes to a Canada-wide target for reducing greenhouse gases, but let us keep our provincial reduction targets.

The Liberal Party's second point is that the government should “stop putting Canada’s environmental and economic future at risk by insisting that Canada must wait for the United States to act first before showing our own leadership on this most vital issue.” Over the past few years we have seen the central federal government's complacency and lack of leadership when it comes to climate change. This is why the provinces decided to negotiate agreements with American states as part of climate groups.

This demonstrates that nations, that the Quebec nation, can negotiate with American states and move the climate issue forward more quickly than the federal government has been able to do over the past few years.

The best example is most likely that of automobile regulations. For years Ottawa refused to implement automobile manufacturing standards similar to those in California. Quebec decided to harmonize its standards with those in California. It was successful in pressuring central governments to adopt more acceptable federal environmental standards.

This shows that Quebec is better than the federal government at influencing the fight against climate change on a continental scale.

The third point of the motion talks about setting “a domestic legally-binding long-term greenhouse gas reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050”. This is probably the weakest aspect of the motion, which is unfortunate. We would have expected more from the Liberal Party.

We can set long term targets, but we also need to set short and medium term targets. Where are the greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020? For the past few years scientists have been saying that if we want to limit temperature increases to two degrees Celsius, industrialized countries must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below the 1990 level by 2020, and not by 2050.

With this motion and this government we will be putting off dealing with these problems. They refuse to tackle climate change in the short and medium term and are deferring efforts until 2050. We cannot accept this, especially at a time when industrialized countries are meeting in Canada for the G20. We must send a clear message: in eight months in Cancún, we will be ready to make short and medium term commitments.

Unfortunately, this motion gives no indication of any short and medium term efforts. It talks about long term efforts, which are commendable and which we do not oppose. However, this is an urgent problem that requires short and medium term targets.

The fourth point of the motion has to do with reporting “to Parliament annually on its policies and proposals to achieve the trajectory toward the 80 percent target and revise as necessary”. I think these aspects were taken from Bill C-288, at the time introduced by the Liberal Party. The purpose is probably to allow the environment commissioner to play a greater role. Parliament must focus on achieving these targets. We completely agree with this proposal.

The motion goes on to talk about establishing “a non-partisan expert group approved by Parliament to set a science-based emissions trajectory to reach that 80 percent reduction target”. Clearly, we must ensure that any targets we set are not subject to the vagaries of political change in Ottawa. Science has to resume a leading role in helping elected officials make good decisions.

The budget for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences was cut. The government is trying to muzzle Environment Canada scientists by giving them a communications guide and telling them that their research, reports and documents have to be relevant to the government's goals and policies. That is nonsensical. A healthy government should ensure that scientists have complete independence to do their scientific work.

That is why we need an independent group of scientific experts to make recommendations to parliamentarians and government free from the influence of political vagaries in Ottawa.

The sixth point calls on the government to “reverse the decision to cut the ecoENERGY program”. The first thing this government did when it came to power was initiate a program review. It directed the Treasury Board to assess the ecoenergy programs and divide them into three categories: programs to cut, programs to maintain and programs to improve.

That was terrible for the economy itself, and especially for the desire and the vision to stimulate a greener economy. The ecoauto program was eliminated. The program was not perfect. It provided tax incentives to people who purchased vehicles that consumed around 9 litres of gas per 100 kilometres. The government wanted to change the tax paradigm to give people who bought energy-efficient vehicles a refund. I strongly believe that the measure was in line with what I would call strategic environmental assessment to achieve better governance and greener taxation.

Environmental companies told us that under the wind power production incentive or WPPI, they received tax assistance of 1¢ to 1.5¢ per kilowatt hour produced using wind energy. This program was very successful and promoted wind energy. Subsequent budgets have not provided any money for the WPPI or any tax assistance for the wind industry, and Canadian companies are now telling us that they are going to leave Canada for certain U.S. states, because the American taxation system is more beneficial.

The green shift is failing. Canada does not realize the impact of the decisions it is making, at a time when all the world economies that are going through financial, climate or food crises all agree that what is needed is a green new deal. The basis for our economic recovery must be such that we can build an economy that is not in the stone age, but really turned toward the future.

That is why, in October 2008, the UN sent a clear message to industrialized countries about a green new deal. We must reinvest in renewable energy, promote energy efficiency and make our buildings greener. Sadly, the government has missed this opportunity.

I could go on at length, but I will keep my remarks to just a few minutes. This official opposition motion is clearly commendable and worthwhile. We will support this motion, but we would have liked it to go further and be more in keeping with the principles in Bill C-311 in order to deal with the climate change crisis we are going through now, eight months before the major climate change conference in Cancún.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague. I have a few questions for him.

The first one relates to the importance of a global solution to a global problem. The motion presented by the Liberals is clearly focused on just Canada and ignores the fact that we have a global climate change problem. Why would he support having Canada depart from international negotiations through the Copenhagen accord and remove ourselves from a continental approach?

Why is he supporting the Liberal plan which is, and always has been, lots of announcements but no action? Why would he want to separate himself from a global solution to climate change? Does he really believe in the important issue of climate change?

The Liberals' plan always has been and continues to be the introduction of a carbon tax. In the last election most people in Quebec, I believe, were against the Liberal carbon tax, and included in this motion is a desire to move to a carbon tax. By voting in favour of this motion, he will be supporting a carbon tax proposed by the Liberals.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is asking me to make an impossible choice. Understandably, I will not make such a choice.

One thing is clear. Whether through a carbon tax or carbon exchange, there is one thing the members must agree on: we need to put a price on carbon as soon as possible. We must be able to tell the businesses that already made an effort that regulations are available to them and they can sell their carbon credits and the reductions they made. That is the problem with this government.

The Liberals based their policy on a voluntary approach. The government has been talking to us about a regulatory framework for years, but we have not seen even a hint of any climate change regulations. That is the problem with the Canadian federation: there is a lot of talk, but very little action.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member that the effectiveness of the Canadian federation depends a great deal on the party in power, here, in Ottawa.

I am sure he knows that, before the 2005-06 election, the environment minister at the time, the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, after lengthy consultations with industrial sectors, was about to unveil regulations that would have benefited Canada, including Quebec. Unfortunately, the government fell following a non-confidence vote and, four years later, we find ourselves with nothing in hand.

My question is about the sectoral approach that I am trying to understand, and that the member often speaks about in committee. My question is very sincere. I wonder why an aluminum plant in Quebec would be treated differently than one in British Columbia. If, one day, Quebec were to tap the natural gas reserves in the river, why would it not be treated the same as the gas industry in Alberta?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member is a real promoter of the Canadian federation.

He should know that under the Constitution, natural resources are a provincial jurisdiction, and he should let the provinces determine or allocate the credits or emission permits as they see fit. It is a matter of efficiency. If a sector has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions because it changed its industrial processes and decided to invest in technologies to reduce them, I do not think it should have to pay for the industrial sectors that decided to do nothing. That is the problem now.

The problem is that the government decides. I can understand that Canada's economic base is split in three: the west has oil and gas resources; the automotive industry has always driven economic development in Ontario; and Quebec's economic base has always been a force for development. But that is the problem. How can we implement a national greenhouse gas reduction policy that takes these regional differences into account? It will be completely impossible as long as we are not sovereign.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in just five days Bolivia is convening an international climate change conference to try to repair and mitigate the failures of Copenhagen to deliver fair and legally binding international climate change agreements. Over 90 nations will be there. It is my understanding and belief that Canada as of today either is not sending anyone or has not indicated a commitment to send anyone.

I wonder if the hon. member is aware of what our government plans to do or not do and would he care to comment on the possibility that we would actually not even attend the Bolivia conference?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bolivia is not the only country participating in the conference; Venezuela and Cuba will be there as well.

When it comes to climate change negotiations, Canada must be a leader among industrialized countries. The problem is that Canada is no longer playing the role it played in 1997 at the Kyoto conference. Canada must play a role at major international conferences such as the G8 and G20.

The question as to whether or not Canada should participate in a conference in Bolivia is one thing, but it has a role to play with the industrialized countries, and it has not played this role in years.

Does Canada intend to shoulder its responsibilities at the G20 summit in June? That is the real question that needs to be asked in the House.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud that the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie has said that it is quite likely that the Liberals, in moving their motion today, are creating a distraction in order to not have to vote for a more binding law.

Earlier the government said that it has made significant progress in terms of greenhouse gas reduction. Yet, Canada won the third fossil award of the conference in Bonn for having moved from a 3% reduction to a 3% increase in emissions compared to 1990, just like the United States.

I would like my colleague to comment on this because this is not what we are currently hearing from the government.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is ironic to hear the hon. member, who is the chair of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, brag that we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions in the past year. The fact is, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions because there has been a reduction in economic activity.

I already hear the government saying that we can boast about having reduced our greenhouse gas emissions. If we want to have an excellent energy report card, we must invest in renewable energy.

I have seen the latest statistics that came out recently. In the past few years, the sustainable development industry has become the third largest economic sector in the world. That is the direction Canada must take. It must invest in clean technologies and energy efficiency. That is how it will achieve success in reducing greenhouse gases.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I had hoped to share my time today with the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North. As time will be tight, I would like to at least thank him for his tireless work on behalf of Canadians to finally seek action on climate change around the globe.

I wish to voice my support for the motion presented by the member for Ottawa South and hope that all members in the House see fit to support these measures, which are necessary and long overdue. Although I do concur with the hon. member who spoke previously that it would have been useful to include the short and medium term targets, those are fortunately included in my colleague's bill, Bill C-311.

I concur with the member that the government has the full constitutional authority to take expeditious action to fulfill our country's responsibilities and undertakings to address climate change. Action on addressing climate change has been delayed, first by the suggestion that we needed a new law, which was then amended, brought forward, enacted and ignored. Then, the government dragged on endless consultations, which had been going on for the previous 15 years.

The next excuse was the need to await action by all nations of the world at Copenhagen. The latest excuse is the need to wait for the United States to dictate our targets and actions on climate change. Yet, while the government claims to be waiting for U.S. actions, the Obama administration is leaving us in the dust. President Obama's 2009 budget invested 14 times per capita what this country invested in its budget. This year, Obama's budget is 18 times per capita the investment of Canada. So much for synchronicity in North America.

Obama's budget also set aside $85 million for green job training for about 14,000 workers and $75 million in the re-energize education effort. Now that is what I call an education investment for the future. What did the government invest? It invested nothing. The government has set aside nothing for green jobs and training, and it would have been welcomed as a constructive addition to this member's motion.

New Democrats believe that green jobs, training and just transition programs for workers are all vital to a strong, sustainable economic recovery. The U.S. law specifies improved energy efficiency for government buildings as a way to jump start job creation and long-term growth. There is a commitment to retrofit 75% of government buildings in two years, saving billions for taxpayers in the United States.

In Canada, in response to a request for information that I submitted last year, we were told by the federal government that only six out of 26,000 federal buildings were so much as in the process of beginning retrofitting. Where is the synchronicity? I concur that the legislative and fiscal authorities have long been in place to enable action by the government. Many of those laws have been intentionally ignored. This despite international obligations under the Kyoto accord and, most recently, the Copenhagen agreement.

The government continues to ignore the pleas of Canadians from across the country to take action on climate change. Even the government's own studies show the impacts on the Canadian Prairies, the Canadian Arctic, the pine beetle expansion and record flooding. Yet still, it fails to act.

Many are suffering the economic toll already. Canadians are now having to turn to the courts to make the government comply with legal duties to reduce greenhouse gases.

I will be looking to the member for Ottawa South and his colleagues to support Bill C-311, which prescribes science-based reduction targets and requires accountability to Parliament for actions taken to meet the targets. In his 2009 audit, the federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development reported serious flaws with the government's initiatives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including the transit tax credit and the climate trust fund.

I concur fully with the assertion that while the government has the necessary fiscal tools at its disposal, it has also failed miserably on their application. The 2010 government budget entitled “Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth” says it all. Gone is any semblance of adherence to the government's mantra of balancing economy and the environment.

The selfsame budget, where the government proclaims Canada to be a clean energy superpower, kills the only main programs to incent development and deployment of our once burgeoning renewable energy sector. It kills the eco-energy home retrofit program. It deals a severe blow to environmental impact assessments of major energy and infrastructure projects. The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association calls it “shortsighted” to cancel the energy retrofit program, which brought benefits to homeowners, the economy and the environment. So much for its affiliation with business in Canada.

The most perverse of all, though, is the budget grants a further tax reduction to the already profitable yet under regulated major energy corporations, while gifting hundreds of millions of dollars to those industries merely to test a technology. Why cut the very initiatives that are bringing reductions and, instead, putting the money into something we do not know will work?

This contradicts Canada's commitment made at the 2009 G20 in Pittsburgh to end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. The U.S. cut subsidies for oil and gas industry by 2020 to restore almost $37 billion U.S. to its government coffers.

Where is the action on the promised aid to address climate adaptation faced by many developing nations? Canada is disgraced by being the only G8 nation that has not committed a dollar figure, despite commitments at Copenhagen. Canadians are expressing grave concern that with the coming cutbacks to foreign aid next year, the new commitment will fall by the wayside.

Finance for action to address climate change must be new and additional to existing ODA commitments and it must be predictable. Funding must be substantial and adequate and meet the scale of needs identified for developing nations.

Financing and technology support for developing country mitigation and adaptations is the lynchpin to achieving a global agreement on climate change.

Overcoming past failures on both fronts will be essential to a strong climate agreement and must be at the table at the G8 meeting in June. If we are to put the world on a path to avoiding dangerous climate change, we need the assurance Canada will meet those commitments.

Finally, it has been the custom at all previous G8 meetings to host a meeting of environment ministers. Why is this expected—

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I will have to stop the hon. member there.

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply. The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?