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House of Commons Hansard #60 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organs.

Topics

The House resumed consideration of the motion

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will bring us back to the matter at hand, which is leadership. What we are talking about here today is leadership, leadership of the Government of Canada in leading not just Canada but the rest of the world in tackling global climate change.

It used to be called global warming, but people did not like that. It is now called global climate change. I liked global warming, because it gave a real idea of what it meant.

We are trying to deal with a real phenomenon. It is really happening; it is not a mystery anymore; it is not something that people are imagining, and it is catastrophic. What is about to happen to the planet is something that can be prevented, but for some reason governments all over the world are reluctant to take the leadership role that they need to take to do it.

Canada has traditionally been a country where leadership on issues of global importance could be counted on. Canada could be counted on to take on the role of being a peacekeeper. In 1939, Canada was counted on before the United States to move into Europe with troops to help defend Britain and the rest of Europe. We did not have to wait for the United States to jump on board before we would do it, but that is what the Conservative government is telling us here today: that we have to wait until the big players jump on board before we do anything about climate change. That is wrong.

One need only look at where the greenhouse gases come from to understand the enormity of the problem that faces us. Essentially, we could imagine a pie chart divided into fifths. Agriculture is about a fifth of the pie. Industry is about a fifth. Goods transportation is about a fifth. Human transportation is about a fifth. Heating and cooling our dwellings is about a fifth.

When we look at that pie, we can look at reducing the amount of greenhouse gases each of those sectors contributes or at just shutting one of them down altogether--industry, for example. No, that is not a good idea, because we are an industrial country and we need our industry. What could we shut down, goods transportation? That does not work either. What we would have to do is shrink the amount of greenhouse gas coming out of each of those sectors of our economy.

The Conservatives have suggested that we are going to do it by reducing by 17% from 2005 levels by 2015, but what really needs to happen, and what world leaders and scientists have agreed on, is that we need to reduce by 80% by 2050.

Now, looking at that pie, will we shut down four parts of our economy to get to 80%? Are we actually going to close down goods transportation, people transportation, industry and agriculture, leaving only heating and cooling, which is essential to get by? No, of course not.

However, there needs to be a much bigger response than the one we are getting from the other side of this House to deal with it in such an enormous way. We do not have time to waste while we dither over which country is in or out of this club. That is not what we are about. We are Canadians. We lead the world on issues like this. We do not say, “Well, we are only 2%, so the rest of the world should do this, and we will just continue to put our 2% out.”

Think of what our kids would say if our attitude was that it was okay to go ahead and litter because what we put on the ground was only 2% of it. That is not what we as adults want to tell our children, and it should not be what we as Canadian leaders tell the rest of the world. Our 2% is actually four or five times greater than it should be, because we are one of the world's largest per capita consumers of fossil fuel energy.

Why is that? It is not just because we are in a cold country; it is because we do not do anything about our fossil fuel consumption. I will give a real-world example.

Let us take the transportation sector as one of the four pieces of the pie, and the human transportation sector as one of those four or five pieces of the pie, which I think is low-hanging fruit. It is something we could do something about very easily and quickly. They have done it in Europe.

In Switzerland, we discovered, as we were listening to witnesses at our transportation committee, that 80% of the trips taken by the population of Switzerland is in public transit. That is what we should be aiming for. We reduce greenhouse gases by 80% out of one sector of the economy by building a transportation infrastructure system that is convenient, regular and runs like a Swiss watch, which is what happens in Switzerland, so people know they will get from point A to point B in a reasonable period of time and it is competitive to using their own personal vehicle.

However, we are not doing that. We are building roads. Every province in this country is building roads as fast as they can because cars are the only way people know how to get around.

As a federal government, we ought to be encouraging the building of public transit. We ought to be using the large arm of the law, as it were, and the large spending capacity that we have as a federal institution to create a public transit infrastructure in this country that would take people out of their cars and into public transit with mechanisms that are electric.

In a lot of countries, electric generation is done without the use of fossil fuels. It can be replaced quite easily by the use of windmills, photovoltaics and hydro-electric systems that do not consume any hydro carbons and, therefore, do not emit any greenhouse gases.

Instead, we are encouraging the use of personal vehicles. We are sucking fossil fuels out of the ground as fast as we possibly can. All we can say to a government that is doing that is that, as we expand the sucking of fossil fuels out of the ground, let us do it in a slightly less consumptive way next year. However, that is not the way to solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions on this planet.

The way to solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions on this planet is to consume dramatically less fossil fuels. It is not a little bit, not 17% over 10 years, but 80% over the next 30 to 40 years. If we were to do that, we could create jobs in the meantime. We can build an industry in Canada, an industrial base that is based on green technologies and the generation of electricity using non-fossil fuel sources. We can build electric vehicles that can transport people in large numbers. Instead, we turn to other countries to build them for us.

We should be taking leadership. We should be building jobs in this country based on what we know we will need in 40 years. We know we will need more efficient ways of getting the job done. We know we will need more efficient and less consumptive ways of getting around. We know we will need more efficient and less consumptive ways of getting our agriculture done. Since we know all of this, and it is a little way in the future, we should be planning for it. We should be taking steps to create these industries and create an industrial model in Canada that builds jobs around what we know we will need in 40 years.

Instead, we are told over and over again by the other side of the House that the jobs are in the oil patch. The jobs will be where oil is coming out of the ground. However, if the rest of the world wakes up and realizes that we cannot actually consume that much oil because we would not have a planet to live on anymore, then the jobs will not be in the oil patch. The economies of the world will not demand oil if they decide they are going to create sustainable environments, industries, transportation, agriculture, home heating and cooling, all of which we think we should be working toward consuming fewer fossil fuels.

We are in a position where we could be leaders in the world. We should not be pointing fingers at other countries in the world telling them that until they lead we will not go here. That is wrong-headed. We should be taking this bull by the horns, creating the jobs, the industry and the technologies that will bring us out of this morass.

We should not be investing any more in sucking fuel out of the ground, nor should we be counting on the jobs that would be created to ferry stranded passengers at Vancouver airport when the airport floods. Let us look at the jobs we have, running ferryboats across to Vancouver airport. Those are not the kind of jobs this country needs or wants.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague's remarks with interest, understanding that he is from a Toronto area riding where they may not be quite as familiar with pickup trucks as are my constituents.

I noted that the member said that about 80% of the trips taken in Switzerland were by public transport. The four Saskatoon area constituencies have a square mileage slightly larger than that of Switzerland, about 10% or 15% larger, with the population of around 300,000.

Does the hon. member not think that certain comparisons, like the one with Switzerland, is considerably unfair with a country as remote and as rural as Canada that does not have anywhere near the population densities of a country like Switzerland which has seven million people? Does the hon. member not think his analogy was a little inaccurate?

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is very true that Canada is a much bigger place than Switzerland. However, even the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities appealed to the transportation, infrastructure and communities committee that it needed suburban rural public transit and it does not have it. It relies on private sector bus companies to come by its communities once in a while. The government is not investing in public transit for communities like Saskatoon, for communities in the rural municipalities of Saskatchewan that really could use some investment in public transit and which, I think, understand that public transit is one of the ways we will get out of this mess.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate my hon. colleagues from York South—Weston and Drummond on their excellent speeches in favour of the motion moved by the member for Halifax.

We have often heard that the municipalities are showing real leadership when it comes to climate change, and the same thing is happening at the provincial level and in small communities.

Can my colleague explain why it is so important that Canada show real leadership regarding climate change, as our motion states?

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, it should not be just left up to individuals. The member is absolutely right. It also should not be left up just to some municipalities that do take as much of a leadership role as they possibly can. Municipalities in this country do not have the taxation ability, the wherewithal that the federal government does to invest heavily in infrastructure. What needs to happen is those heavy investments in infrastructure in such things as public transit, but it may be electricity generation. Not only are they a great return on investment in terms of the actual capital return, they help with climate change and they create jobs. We are looking at creating jobs every chance we get and we should be looking to create jobs with this global climate change attack that we are preaching.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his excellent speech.

I would remind the member that he is quite right and that Canada is currently one of the 10 worst countries when it comes to the fight against climate change. The Conservatives' error was saying that the impact is only 2%. When we look at the numbers per capita, we are among the 10 worst countries in the world.

My colleague suggested some excellent solutions to fight climate change. Now what does he think of the NDP's recent proposal for a national transit strategy?

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have in fact proposed a national public transit strategy because we recognize, not just that people need to get around, but that public transit is an effective way of combating climate change, at least in Canada, and an effective way of creating a new industry in Canada. We need industrial jobs in this country. We need to be able to return to an economy in which people can expect to have a good, full-time job with benefits, and that comes, in large measure, from the kinds of industries that public transit infrastructure will provide.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before I recognize the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands, I need to let him know that there are about four minutes remaining in the time allocated for debate this afternoon and so I will need to interrupt him at 15 minutes after.

The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise two points in the time I have left.

First of all, we have heard a lot here today about the supposed progress that Canada has made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but I think if we took the recession and the efforts made by the provincial and municipal governments out of the equation, very little would remain.

This choice between the economy, the environment and the balance that the Conservatives are giving us is very misleading. I want to give a couple of examples to show that this is a false choice. The first example I want to give is of a project that occurred in my riding. It was an effort by the municipal government. It was not something that was easy to accomplish. It was the construction of a new police station.

A sustainability engineer in the city government decided that an energy-efficient police station should be built. She said that a lead gold building for the new police station should be built and it was not an easy thing to do because it required a lot of up-front costs. However, she was persistent and, in the end, she got this new police station built to lead gold standard. Once the proper accounting was done and people saw all the money that could be saved in the future, it turned out that the new police station built to lead gold standard actually saved the city of Kingston $1 million over its lifetime. If we were to do the proper accounting, we would realize that we need to act now, even if there are costs now because there are a lot of benefits in the future. That is an example of action by a municipal government that made a difference despite the lack of leadership from the federal government. It was something that saved taxpayers money and helped the environment.

The second thing I want to mention is something that the provincial government has been doing. In my riding of Kingston and the Islands, about 50 jobs were created about a year ago in the manufacture of solar panels. This is another example of where, as we prepare for the post-fossil fuel economy where renewable energy becomes cheaper and cheaper, we want to position this country as a leader in renewable energy. This happened in my riding with the creation of 50 jobs in the manufacture of solar panels. Who was responsible for that? It was not the federal government. The provincial government showed leadership in this case and that is the source of some progress.

Another example is of a private company that makes and sells thousands and thousands of little monitors to utilities, mostly in the United States. These monitors tell consumers when the utility is providing a lot of electricity. Everybody has their switches turned on and they are paying peak prices for electricity. This is a way of warning consumers that they should start turning off their appliances or do their washing at a different time of day. This is a tool that utilities can use, a product made and designed in my riding. There was the creation of jobs in my riding by a private company that helps utilities in the United States avoid having to build the extra power plants to create the extra power that is needed to service peak demand.

I have given three examples of projects in my riding that have either saved money or created jobs and a healthy environment and all of them were done by either the municipal government, the provincial governments or private enterprise with no help from the federal government. We can just imagine what we could do if the federal government was onboard.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It being 6:15 p.m., and the last allotted day for the supply period ending December 10, 2011, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Climate ChangeBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #93

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion lost.

The next question is on supplementary estimates (B).

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2011-12Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

moved:

That the supplementary estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012 be concurred in.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2011-12Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2011-12Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2011-12Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2011-12Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Supplementary Estimates (B), 2011-12Government Orders

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.