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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

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 6Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

With respect to consular services for Canadians abroad: (a) how many Canadians travel abroad every year without international health coverage; (b) is the government considering forcing Canadians to have health care coverage when they travel abroad; (c) how many consular assistance cases in the past 10 years are health-care related, broken down by country, detailing the total number of cases on any subject and indicating how many were health or medical issues; (d) how many of these cases as broken down in question (c) involved medical evacuations; (e) what were the specific costs of those medical evacuations, broken down by country; (f) what coverage is provided for Canadian government officials and their families when they are working abroad, and what exactly does that coverage entail (medical evacuations, hospitalization, etc.), broken down by country; (g) what is the cost of the coverage that is provided for these Canadian government officials and their families, broken down by country of service; (h) what company or companies are providing that coverage, by country; and (i) what criteria are considered in the selection of these providers, by country?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 28Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

With regard to the Knowledge Infrastructure Program: (a) what projects are being funded; (b) in what federal electoral district is each project located; (c) who applied for the funding for each project; and (d) what is the exact amount of money allocated to each project?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 50Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

With regard to the Privy Council Office: (a) what are the total number of contracts under $10,000 awarded between January 2008 and December 2009; (b) what were the names of the suppliers; (c) what services did they provide; (d) what were the start and end dates of each contract; and (e) what was the contractor code for each supplier?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

April 14th, 2010 / 3:35 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, this government has lacked a commitment to principled environmental policy backed by action which is urgently needed to address the climate change crisis, and it is the further opinion of this House that the government has consistently ignored the legislative and regulatory powers at its disposal that allow the government to take immediate and decisive action to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve meaningful and science-based reduction targets, and therefore the House calls upon the government to: (a) 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; (b) 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; (c) set a domestic legally-binding long-term greenhouse gas reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050; (d) report to Parliament annually on its policies and proposals to achieve the trajectory toward the 80 percent target and revise as necessary; (e) establish a non-partisan expert group approved by Parliament to set a science-based emissions trajectory to reach that 80 percent reduction target so that Canada does its part to keep global temperature increases to below 2oC; (f) reverse the decision to cut the ecoENERGY program that allowed Canadians to receive a rebate for greening their homes using energy efficient products and services; (g) restore Canada’s tarnished international environmental reputation by implementing Canada’s international commitment made during the Copenhagen negotiations to provide our fair share of new climate change financing for developing countries to support their adaptation and mitigation efforts to deal with the climate change crisis; (h) follow through on Canada’s commitment at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh in 2009 to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and report on implementation; and (i) convene within 90 days a First Ministers’ Meeting on climate change to build upon the best practices and leadership that have been demonstrated in the provinces, municipalities and the private sector.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my colleague, the member for Etobicoke North, who is a seconder of this motion and, in case the House does not recollect, is also a Nobel laureate, having won the Nobel prize for her contributions to the intergovernmental panel on climate change. It is indeed a privilege to have her in this House of Commons and as a member of our caucus here in the Liberal Party of Canada. I thank her for her good service.

This is a motion which, in honesty, I would prefer never to have brought to the House of Commons. It is a motion that is unfortunate in its necessity because we are facing a situation now where Canada is falling behind.

We are falling behind on so many fronts that we think it is now extremely important for the House to send a message to the government that it should consider supporting this motion and to start taking dramatic action, not dramatic action in the Conservative terms that are associated with dramatic action. The Conservatives like to frame climate change as a cost. In responding to the climate change crisis, they like to frame it as grief and pain.

We on the other hand think that the response to the climate change crisis is all about opportunity. It is all about economic opportunity. It is all about jobs for working people and it is about environmental opportunity as we move forward.

We are asking the government to bring in a principled environmental policy that will immediately address the climate change crisis. Where are we 52 months later, after the arrival of the new reformed Conservative government? Well, 52 months later and 3 environment ministers later, Canada has no climate change plan. In fact, we are the only OECD country, the only G7 country, the only G20 country, not to have a comprehensive plan on climate change.

There is no energy strategy to point to for Canada's energy future. Canadians understand the connection between energy, the burning of fossil fuels, the creation of greenhouse gases, the effects on the atmosphere and temperature increases. They understand these basic scientific truths.

Canadians do not get why it is that after 52 months we have no climate change plan and no energy strategy. In fairness, I think they are also deeply disturbed by an abdication, maybe even an abandonment, of Canada's traditional soft power international leadership role in the world in this important sector.

In short, it appears as if, for this government, climate change is in the sort of wedge tactics, management of crisis terms the government tends to act on. This is simply an issue to be managed, contained and marginalized. Let us keep it at bay and not really deal with it. We will just keep jumping from ice floe to ice floe as the Arctic melts. Let us manage the crisis as opposed to dealing with it in a systemic and fundamental way.

It is all incoherent so far, and that is what is deeply disturbing. Nothing connects. Programmatic spending does not connect to fiscal incentives and disincentives. The fiscal measures that are in place are often not leading us in the right direction.

I argued, for example, vociferously with the Minister of Finance some two years ago about his tax deductible transit pass being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. It is very expensive. In fact, it is about $7,000 per tonne of greenhouse gases reduced, $7,000 which we believe should have been invested in public transit infrastructure at a time when our cities are in desperate need of additional resources.

The government has made no coherent progress on our previous government's house in order provisions and measures. It is important for a government that is leading the way to lead the way. As Shakespeare once said, “Physician, heal thyself.” Well, this physician does not even diagnose the fever.

The federal government could be doing so much more on house in order initiatives. Has it actually greened its procurement system, the way it buys goods and services? This is the largest landlord in the country, the largest employer in the country.

Is it in fact leasing buildings and demanding of landlords that they drive up the energy efficiency of those buildings? In any new construction is it building to a LEED gold or a LEED platinum standard to show the way for Canadians?

There has been no progress whatsoever. More recently, despite the pleas, the overtures and negotiations between the official opposition and the government on its infrastructure spending, the stimulus spending, billions of dollars are being spent but without the benefit of looking at that spending through a green lens, through an energy efficiency lens, through a clean economy lens. There is resistance from the government and then rejection from the government to our pleas to use this spending opportunity as a wonderful opportunity to lead and show the way as an institution called the Government of Canada. In short, what have we seen?

I think most Canadians, in fairness, would agree that the government is compromising both our environmental and our economic future, a theme I will come back to.

The leader of the official opposition has set out an ambitious and innovative plan to deal with climate change, elements of which are in this motion, and which I will turn to shortly in greater detail.

The plan and the call put out now by the leader of the official opposition are steeped in the reality of the notion that Canada is now embroiled in a clean economy race the likes of which the world has never seen before. It is driving up energy efficiency going forward. It is about retooling our economy to produce more with less.

Why is it the state of California in most of its laws no longer talks about the concept of waste? California now describes waste as unrecaptured profit. California understands that when we throw things out, that when we use energy less efficiently than we might, we are actually losing profit, losing jobs, losing capital, losing investment capital.

This race in which we are now embroiled, and actually, the federal government is not running it, but many provincial jurisdictions are, is all about becoming more energy efficient. It is about learning to do more with fewer materials, for example. It is also learning to do more with less water in our production processes. We know that when we produce more with less, we position Canada as a supplier of solutions.

I was very heartened by Ontario's throne speech two weeks ago, in which it was announced that Ontario was going to become the supplier of solutions for water and waste water technologies globally. It was a lynchpin moment. A marker was placed. A jurisdiction said that it wants to become the world leader in this field, this at a time when the world is running out of fresh water. Does anyone really think we are not going to need to get serious about conquering that water and waste water technology marketplace? Of course not.

When we actually move nationally with leadership, we position Canada to be able to supply the solutions the world is going to be searching for, and in fact is searching for right now.

The government likes to say that Canada is an energy superpower. We agree. Canada is an energy superpower, whether it is uranium, hydro power, fossil fuels, or other sources, yes, including coal, gas, oil. However, when we are an energy superpower, would it not be normal to conclude that as an energy superpower we have the most to lose and the most to gain from whatever comes both continentally and internationally in response to the climate change crisis? Would we not think that as a jurisdiction we should be out there leading the pack because our interests are so much spoken to, are so potentially affected?

Why is it if the government claims we are an energy superpower we are not out there informing, directing, trying to influence the outcome at the international level, as opposed to taking a back seat?

I would say in an introductory fashion, the Liberal Party of Canada shall take no lessons from the Conservative Party of Canada in this regard. This is the party of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the party of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the party that created the Environment Commissioner for Sustainable Development, and the party that just recently, through a private member's bill, convinced Parliament to bring in a national sustainable development strategy for this country as we move forward.

We have been and remain open to co-operating with the government. That is not the problem here. The official opposition wants to see progress on the climate change crisis. What we need now is a plan.

Let me talk a little bit about the terms of this motion. We are asking the government to stop pretending that it needs any additional powers, that it does not possess all of the regulatory authorities that it needs to be able to act immediately.

I was trying to describe this to my four teenagers just the other day. In short form I said that it was like the slogan of a major sports company: Just do it. The government has those powers.

Why is it that the Chinese and U.S. governments are investing massively in clean technology funds, capital investment funds? The government likes to say that we are harmonizing with the United States. Most Canadians are a little suspicious of this because they really fear abdication of sovereignty. To what extent are we harmonizing with the United States? When we ask the government why is it the United States is spending 18 times more per capita on clean power and clean technology investments, all of a sudden the harmonization rhetoric stops.

It is really important to remember point number one, the government does not need any powers to move immediately to regulate, for example, greenhouse gases. That is something we did as the previous government when we amended the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to include six greenhouse gases, so that a government, our government before we were defeated, now the current government 52 months later, has the power to immediately regulate.

Another aspect of the climate change crisis is this: We have to stop insisting that Canada wait for the United States to take action first, or worse, try to hide behind the complex and difficult international treaty negotiations that were continued just recently in Copenhagen. This is not true and it is, in my view, negligent of the government to act this way.

The United States is way ahead of Canada under a new Democratic administration. After the Republican administration was dispatched with, the Democratic administration within 10 months had 1,400 pages of bills on the table, negotiating through committees for consideration by the American society, industrialists, environmentalists, environmental leaders, labour leaders. All of this was accomplished within a 10 month period.

In 52 months, we have no climate change legislation. There is no bill. The government brought in the Clean Air Act some four or five years ago. It was rewritten by four opposition parties. It had the consensus and support of four opposition parties, but the Prime Minister, because this is what he does when he is backed into a corner, prorogued Parliament in order to kill the bill, delaying Canada even further.

Why is it President Obama was in Copenhagen, not alone but with six of his top ten cabinet ministers? Our Prime Minister was, in fact, embarrassed to attend in Copenhagen, and once there, refused to deliver the speech to the UN delegates who were present and, as I like to say, refused to stand up for Canada to speak at the podium, but did, of course, sit down for dinner with the heads of state.

The United States is designing a system, as it should, as a sovereign nation. It is designing a system and coming to grips with the climate change crisis by working within the confines of the four corners of its own natural order, its own challenges and to the specificity of its own economy.

When the government says that we are harmonizing, is it really saying that the United States, in its design of a domestic response to climate change, will factor in, for example, the elements of the Canadian economy that have to be addressed, Canada's manufacturing base, Canada's natural order, our boreal forest, our Great Lakes, our watersheds? Are the Conservatives serious? I would never expect the United States to design a domestic response to take into account Canada's specificity any more than we would. This is again proof that the government is hiding behind the United States or the international treaty process, is actually not serious and is making us in fact more vulnerable. We are more vulnerable to the United States now, for example, moving to put a price on carbon emissions.

As an aside, the Prime Minister went to London some three and a half years ago. He gave a keynote address. He called it the energy superpower tour. Does anyone remember that speech? He gave his first foundational speech in London and he said that within five years Canada would be pricing carbon at $65 a tonne, that we would have a cap and trade system, that we would be trading domestically. All of this has evaporated. All of this has disappeared. All of this has simply vanished, again as an issue to manage, despite the opposition party's willingness to co-operate.

We want to see a legally binding, long-term greenhouse gas reduction target of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. That is the internationally accepted baseline year, legally binding here in Canada, a target, by the way, that the government endorsed in Copenhagen. We are two years away, minimum, from an international treaty being binding, but we know the consensus is to hold to 2°C to keep temperature increases down.

We are asking that the government report to Parliament annually. How are we going to get to that 80% reduction in the next 40 years? It is a national project that we can accomplish, I am convinced, but we need annual reports. We need a non-partisan, expert group. We need to take the partisanship out of this issue. Canadians deserve and expect more from this House of Commons. The government is in the driver's seat. The government can work with us to create this non-partisan, expert group to advise us with the science, with the modelling, with the pathways, with the economic modelling. How can we get there in the next 40 years while prospering? It is something I know we can do.

We are asking the government to reverse its decision to cut the very popular home retrofit program for folks who want to do the right thing and invest in energy efficiency. In the dark of night, pulled out of thin air, the government announced it was abandoning a program that had become three times more popular in the last three years, really blocking Canadians who want to do the right thing.

We also want the government to step up and make the contribution it promised it would to help the poorest countries, the most vulnerable nations on earth that will be hardest hit by climate change. These are the nations. Canada's DNA, as someone once said, is all about being multilateral. It is all about reaching out beyond our borders. Environmental refugees have arrived.

If the government does not believe me, then it should listen to the United States' joint chiefs of staff who said just two years ago that climate change was the penultimate international security issue for the next century. It should ask the U.K. government, whose climate change policy is framed under a national security rubric. They know what we know on this side of the House. We must move forward.

We are asking the government to phase out inefficient fossil fuels subsidies so that not only do we level the playing field for investment in non-renewables, but we actually tilt the playing field in favour of renewable power. We know it is coming. What are we waiting for? We are asking, through our leader in a wonderful speech given some time ago, for a fourfold increase in renewable power by 2017 when Canada turns 150 years old.

Finally, we are asking the Prime Minister, within 90 days of this motion, should it pass in a vote later today, to convene a first ministers' meeting on climate change and energy. We need to build on the best practices of our provinces, our cities, the private sector and beyond.

We need to elevate this issue. It is deserving of being elevated. The Prime Minister must show leadership here. The provinces are craving leadership. They are craving affirmation and support for their programs. They are going it alone. It is a quilt-work in Canada. We can do better than this. We are in this race. We can win this race. It is about the future of our species, our biodiversity, our soils, our integrity, the ecological integrity of our land masses, and so much more.

In short, it is about the generations that have built this country and the generations to come.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my hon. colleague across the way. My question for him is this. How will he vote on Bill C-311, which we will vote on very shortly? We will also vote on his motion. There seems to be some inconsistencies of what he said today and I hope he can clarify them.

When we listened to the witnesses on Bill C-311, every one of them said that there should be a continental approach. Bill C-311 did not support that. From what the member has just said, it appears he does not support a continental approach. Europe did a continental approach. Canada and the United States, in harmonizing our policies, took a continental approach to attack the issue of climate change.

Therefore, does he support having a continental approach and will he be supporting Bill C-311? Hopefully he will not because it is a bad bill and it would devastate our economy.

The Liberals have been famous on making announcements. The fact is the commissioner of the environment said that they made great announcements, but before the confetti hit the ground, they forgot those promises.

The Liberal leader said, “We made a mess on the environment” and “We didn't get it done?” Will the member answer that question? Will he support Bill C-311, a bad bill that he himself has called the tiddlywink bill?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, if we are pursuing a continental approach under the Reform-Conservative government, why is the United States investing 18 times more per capita than we are in renewable power?

If, for example, the parliamentary secretary wants to go back to the committee work on Bill C-311, it was he and his colleagues who demanded a full costing of Bill C-311, but it was so steeped in irony and hypocrisy. The government has no plan. It has a target, but it has absolutely no costing. It has no pathway and no trajectory. It has nothing.

For the parliamentary secretary to stand and talk about harmonization and continental approach, I am really reminded by some of the comments made by the Minister of the Environment, who some days, to be quite honest, I think I am hearing an undersecretary of environment from Washington speaking.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Ottawa South has expressed the point of today's opposition day very well. Does he believe that what the Conservative member just said is true? Does Europe have a continental approach while simultaneously having different targets? I believe so. We can have different targets and a continental approach.

As well, he said that subsidies given to western Canada's large oil companies—subsidies which they then pass on to their shareholders—should be phased out in order to create jobs in a green economy. Could he tell us how that would work?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

First of all, Canada and the United States have signed NAFTA but in Europe, they have the European Union. Laws are passed in Brussels, not just in Washington, Ottawa, London or Paris. The European Union's structure is altogether different from North America.

Secondly, it is true that European countries have different targets, but these countries came together because they understand that they have no choice. Europe also wants to win the energy efficiency race.

During a recent G8 meeting, the government itself promised to remove subsidies for oil sands development.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, given that the current government has given hundreds of million dollars in tax subsidies to the very profitable oil industry and given that we have a 2009 G20 commitment from Canada to end subsidies to the fossil fuels industry, why are those subsidies continuing after we have allegedly made those commitments?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a question better placed to the government. It was the government that made the commitment, and I stand corrected, at the G20. However, the Liberal Party will not seize upon the energy sector as some kind of whipping boy in Canada.

We understand that when energy investments were beginning in our country some three or four decades ago, there was a decision made at the time to favour investment in those sectors, start those motors and start up that whole sector. Now we know so much more about the climate change crisis. We know so much more about renewable power and tilting the playing field in favour of renewable power.

We will not single out any one industrial sector in Canada and try to make it the bad guy or bad gal. Instead, we want to see a national plan through a non-partisan group of experts that could advise the House of Commons.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for presenting this motion to the House. Canadians have been waiting for some leadership on this issue, and they are certainly not getting it from the government.

I looked at the briefing notes and I think there is one the member might be able to amplify on. It says:

Canada's national goal is now to cut its emissions to just over 600 million tonnes by 2020, a level equivalent to about 3% above the 1990 level. To put that in context, Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in 2007 were 747 million tonnes, or 26% above their 1990 level.

It is obvious that we are not going to get anywhere close to achieving the government's current targets unless there is a plan. Could the member comment on that?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, It is interesting. Just several months ago, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute, backed by TD Canada Trust and with work done by Simon Fraser University in terms of economic modelling, brought out the only robust piece of analysis for Canada that we have seen in 52 months. It was the only one to talk about how we could achieve these reductions, while growing our economy and what the effects would be.

The reaction of the government was to attempt to shoot and kill the messenger. The Minister of the Environment stood up, held a press conference and attacked one of Canada's top economists at the TD Bank. I guess it was because that economist participated in a document that spoke truth to power.

This is the kind of activity that has been going on. We would like to remove all of that from this important issue. We would like a non-partisan group of experts to help us design the trajectory for the next 40 years to achieve the reductions we know we can achieve and create the jobs we know we can create.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the member for Ottawa South for particularly including in his motion praise for the agreement that our government negotiated at Copenhagen and recognizing that the agreement our government negotiated is going to restore our international environmental reputation, which was tarnished by the inaction of the former Liberal government for so many years.

I would also like to point out that we learned in good news today that our reputation will be restored by the fact that Canadian greenhouse gases have been reduced by 2.1% since 2007, primarily due to the increased hydro power encouraged by our government. However, the Liberal coalition environment critic is now really only proposing a watered-down version of Bill C-311, which he previously criticized as a tiddlywink bill. In fact, it is almost an insult to Bill C-311.

Does he plan to support Bill C-311?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is barely deserving of a response except to say this. At Copenhagen, Canada was badly marginalized and thoroughly embarrassed. We saw leaked documents surface about exempting the oil sands from greenhouse gas reduction targets.

I personally witnessed the chief of staff of the minister having a major, massive emotional meltdown on camera, attacking a very prominent NGO leader from Quebec. Canada of course won the fossil of the year award.

It is very important at this stage to take out this rhetoric. Let us get a good plan for Canada so we can deal with this crisis.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Selkirk—Interlake, a man who is also passionate about the environment.

First, I hope the Liberal Party will finally abandon its support of the NDP Bill C-311. We will find out. Bill C-311 would have Canada divert from the North American harmonized target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. It would also isolate Canada economically and throw us back into a deep recession. The Liberal Party might finally be coming to its senses, somewhat. We will have to wait and see.

We learned throughout our hearings at the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, through hours of testimony from witnesses from all over Canada, that Bill C-311 was irresponsible and would harm Canada. The Liberals, as I said before, even called it the tiddlywink bill and an irresponsible bill.

The Copenhagen accord, the climate change agreement, which was forged during an intense two week period last December, represents a major turning point for Canada and for each of the 117 nations that signed it. It creates a functional international community with one shared goal, namely addressing climate change in a principled comprehensive fashion. Canada is a respected and fully engaged member of that international community facing the challenge.

This agreement acknowledges that climate change is a global issue requiring a global response. It provides for specific mitigation commitments by all major emitters. It provides for international reporting and review of the progress all parties are making toward their commitments. It provides for a predictable ramped up flows of support to help mitigation and adaptation efforts globally. Those are all good.

Going forward, the Copenhagen accord will be the foundation for the international and domestic policies of Canada and for all other signatories. It is the first time that there has been a comprehensive global agreement that deals with climate change and includes commitments from all the major emitters, including the United States, China and India. That is what we have asked for and that is what we have achieved.

Getting that many countries and all those agendas even close to the same page is a remarkable accomplishment. Ultimately the Copenhagen accord will be successful, not only because it moves us all forward but because of how it moves us all forward. It is based on the efforts of national governments on the inclusion of all the major players and on practical solutions.

The Speech from the Throne repeated the government's Copenhagen commitment to contribute our fair share of the $30 billion quick start funding agreed to in the accord to support developing countries in their efforts to address climate change.

That is why this past weekend in Bonn Canada participated in a meeting where the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change gathered to discuss the next steps on how to transform the Copenhagen accord into a binding international treaty.

Next week the Minister of the Environment will be in Washington, D.C., where the Major Economies Forum will meet to discuss climate change and the road forward. This is the 17 member group of the major developed and developing countries, where considerable progress was made before the Copenhagen climate change summit to advance key issues under negotiation.

That is why the opposition's motion is a step backward, not forward. Maybe the Liberals have not come to their senses. Their motion is predicated on an exclusively domestic target for Canada and blatantly disregards the reality that climate change is a problem requiring a co-operatively, coordinated approach and a binding international treaty. Climate change is not something that one country can tackle on its own, especially a country like Canada that accounts for 2% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Let us take, for example, the harmonized approach of Canada and the United States. The Copenhagen accord has the support of Canada and the United States, which means that our stated objective of aligning our policies with their policies, not identical but aligning them, now has an enforceable international framework, a foundation. A man I respect, Mike Holmes, says “do it right the first time”. What the Liberals are proposing is to build something without a framework, without a foundation, and that makes no sense. That is illogical.

The reason for our approach, the international approach, is straightforward and logical. Our economies are so integrated that any effectual continental efforts of reducing emissions must include the close Canada-U.S. co-operation and alignment of our policies, regulations and standards.

Harmonizing our approach to climate change with that of the United States would optimize the progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic competitiveness and prosperity. That means jobs, which is what Canadians want, and that is what we are providing.

Co-operating on our climate change approach also benefits Canada in terms of joint research and development of clean energy technology.

At the North American leaders summit last August, our Prime Minister and Presidents Obama and Calderon agreed to a program of collaborative work, including initiatives in carbon capture and storage, gas flaring and energy efficiency. Agreement was also reached to begin work toward a 21st century continental electricity smart grid, again continental.

We do not want to pursue an illogical path as proposed by the Liberals that would create barriers to trade and put us at a competitive disadvantage. We also do not want to do less than our most important trading partners and risk facing new border barriers into the American market.

At a time when the world is recovering from the worst financial crisis in memory, a Liberal proposal of increasing taxes and isolation is not what Canadians want and not what Canada needs.

On the continental front we have made excellent progress working with the U.S.. We recently made a joint announcement of stringent new vehicle tailpipe emission standards starting with the 2011 model, which is next year. That reality and the fact that the United States has committed to the Copenhagen accord will also see us work even more closely to further enhance the clean energy dialogue.

The clean energy dialogue was established when our Prime Minister met with President Obama more than a year ago to optimize co-operation on emerging technologies, such as carbon capture storage, smart electricity grids, clean energy research and development, all of which we are making significant progress on.

Not all of the work on climate change will be on the international and continental front. There is plenty that we are already doing right here in Canada.

Since 2007, the government has invested in a range of eco-action programs, many of which promote the use of new technologies.

In 2009, Canada's economic action plan included billions of dollars in spending on initiatives like the clean energy fund and the green infrastructure fund. They provide close to $2 billion for the development of promising clean energy technologies and green infrastructure projects, all benefiting Canada and the world. That focus on technology and innovation relating to climate change will be sustained.

The government intends to stay the course on the path it has chosen: to join hands around the world to combat climate change. We will also continue to use the tools at hand to ensure that our approach to climate change is sustainable, meeting the needs of this present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

I would like to share a quote by Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, who made this comment before Copenhagen. He said:

Canada has a tough period behind it in terms that Canada did rise and ratify the Kyoto Protocol, but its main trading partner the United States, did not, which left it in a very unbalanced situation.

He went on to say, “What I see Canada doing is encouraging. It is very constructive in these negotiations”. He brought to light that the previous Liberal government did nothing. It created an environmental mess and we are working hard to clean that up. The Liberals need to support our good plans.