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House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the NDP actually meant for this opposition day motion to deal with the budget bill, Bill C-38, so I want to bring up one thing which I think the government could have incorporated into the bill. It is related to immigration.

In the budget the government is trying to hit the delete button on tens of thousands of individuals who have applied to come to Canada as skilled workers. That is a cruel policy. It is something that should have been brought to this House as a stand-alone amendment so that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the government could be made fully aware, in detail, why this is a bad policy idea that should never have been incorporated into Bill C-38.

Would the member comment on that aspect of Bill C-38?

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly why we are putting this motion forward. There are 70 amendments to legislation in Bill C-38, the budget implementation act. The member referenced one. That one issue alone should have enough study in the House. We are focusing on fisheries and the environment as major elements of the budget. There are over 420 pages in the bill which includes so many changes.

That is why Canada's New Democrats are spreading out across the country to engage in dialogue and to consult with Canadians, not just on the environment and fisheries, but also on immigration, on EI and many other changes that are included in this financial bill.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague has been a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for a very long time and that he is quite familiar with the issues.

Yesterday evening was something else and today really takes the cake. Yesterday evening I was here until 2 a.m. and I watched as the Minister of the Environment was unable to answer the questions. Today, an hon. member called the UN a radical organization because it has criticized the government's positions.

What is it going to take to make the government understand the consequences of its decisions?

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I raised in my speech, science and facts are critical in order to make informed policy decisions to create law in this country.

I am not sure what it would take, whether it would be the United Nations, the specific government departments, or individuals around the country submitting information. They should be listened to. They should be heard. It is a tragedy that they are not being listened to in deciding on this bill.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

I want to thank the member for Halifax for the opportunity to set the record straight about our government's plan for responsible resource development. As members have heard from countless witnesses at the natural resources committee, our current regulatory system is a patchwork of overlap, duplication and unpredictable delays.

When our government announced economic action plan 2012, we promised to try to untangle the complex web of rules and procedures with a review of major resource projects in Canada. We know that all Canadians will benefit if our natural resources are developed reasonably, responsibly and efficiently.

Over the next decade, more than 500 major resource projects worth $500 billion are expected to come online. These projects will create literally hundreds of thousands of good highly skilled jobs and will generate economic growth right across this country.

Canada's natural resource sector already directly employs more than 750,000 Canadians. Mining and energy account for more than 10% of Canada's $1.5 trillion economy and more than 40% of our exports. It is clear that we need to do more to tap into the tremendous appetite for resources in the world's dynamic emerging economies, resources that we have in abundance.

We need to find new ways to prevent the long delays in reviewing major projects that kill potential jobs and stall economic growth, putting those valuable investments at risk. That is what our plan for responsible resource development actually does.

Our plan would make project reviews more predictable and timely. It would reduce unnecessary duplication and regulatory burden. It would strengthen environmental protection and it would enhance consultations with aboriginal peoples.

This legislation has already received broad support from a wide cross-section of business, government and labour leaders across the land. They are welcoming this government's leadership on regulatory reform.

I realize that members of the no development party across the way may not listen to what I have to say, but I wonder if they will listen to some other folks. I wonder if they will listen to the unions who speak on behalf of Canadian workers.

Christopher Smillie from Canada's building trades union, which represents 200,000 trade workers in our energy sector, said:

--we support changes to the system to facilitate large projects....

What we do not support is a 12-year or 15-year regulatory dance that impedes economic development and employment for our members.

By the way, he also said, “The NDP would be very bad for workers and the entire Canadian economy”.

How about the manufacturers and exporters? Jayson Myers, the president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters said:

Greater predictability and a more timely review process will encourage business investment - an important driver of economic growth at a time when governments and consumers face major spending constraints.

I wonder if the party opposite will listen to Canadian municipalities. Berry Vrbanovic, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, is on record as saying:

We are encouraged by the government's commitment to reduce duplication between federal and provincial regulations, especially in the case of smaller community projects.

Will the party opposite listen to those who are working to develop the ring of fire in northern Ontario which will bring a great potential for jobs and economic opportunities to that region? William Boor of Cliffs Natural Resources, one of the main players in the ring of fire, told our committee:

One of the main things I'd like to dispel is the concept that longer equals more rigorous or more thorough.

Will the no development party listen to aboriginal Canadians? John Cheechoo from the ITK said that if the process were “a lot more streamlined, it would still reflect and respect those land claim agreements. I don't see any problem with it being done that way.”

Will those members listen to clean energy associations such as the Canadian Hydropower Association? Its president said:

We need to eliminate regulatory duplication, encourage the substitution of provincial processes over federal processes where possible, improve coordination among federal agencies, and establish functional timelines for assessments.

Maybe those members will listen to Ronald Coombes, the president of White Tiger Mining Corporation, who said:

--we want to thank [the Prime Minister] and both the federal and provincial governments of Canada for committing to working with first nations and for recognizing that the resource sector and national interests should not be held captive to long-overdue legislative changes.

My guess is that members of the no development party are not listening. If they were listening, they would know that Canadians strongly back our government's plan to streamline the review process for major economic projects. Canadians understand that we do not have to choose between the environment and economic development. It is not an either/or proposal.

The NDP is putting forward a false choice and a misleading argument, and Canadians know that. A new poll conducted by Ipsos Reid showed that two-thirds of Canadians believe it is possible to develop our economy while respecting the environment. That is what responsible resource development does. In the words of Alberta Premier Alison Redford, “it sends an important signal in terms of the fact that we can have both economic development and environmental sustainability”.

In the words of Alberta Premier Alison Redford, “it sends an important signal in terms of the fact that we can have both economic development and environmental sustainability”.

Canadians understand that the need for regulatory reform is long overdue. Every year the regulatory roster is filling up with thousands of small projects, even things such as expanding a maple syrup operation or the construction of a building where blueberries will be washed, that are required to undergo an environmental assessment.

In my own riding, when the RCMP musical ride came to Fort Walsh, it was required to do an environmental assessment on the parade grounds in front the fort before it allowed the ride to proceed.

Too often, investors and Canadians have to jump through endless hoops of rules and procedures for approval of any projects. That tangle of red tape is putting billions of dollars of investment and tens of thousands of potential jobs at risk.

We need to refocus our efforts on reviewing major projects that may actually pose a risk to the environment. Our plan will ensure that time and energy is spent where it can make the most difference, where it can do the most good for Canadians.

Canadians know that our government not only maintains Canada's world-class environmental protection programs, but we will strengthen them. Make no mistake, more timely reviews will not mean easier reviews.

Our government will continue to have a rigorous environmental review process. For example, we will be providing enforcement of environmental assessment conditions under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. We will be strengthening environmental safeguards, including pipeline and tanker safety. We will be authorizing new monetary penalties for violations of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the National Energy Board Act.

In short, we will ensure that we will continue to have a rigorous environmental process that will serve Canadians well in the years ahead. Canadians know that we must make the most of our abundant natural resources and the opportunities found in the global markets.

That takes me to comments that were made last week by the Leader of the Opposition when he talked about Dutch disease, when he criticized the thriving industries, particularly in western Canada, saying that they were destroying the economy across the country. We all know that is foolishness. The premiers of Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan all addressed that issue.

It is unfortunate that the opposition leader did not then apologize for the comments he made. He decided he would raise the ante up one more step, and today he addressed it again. It is unfortunate. It seems that the NDP just does not understand that its policies will do nothing but cost Canadians their jobs.

I want to read what he said today about Dutch disease. He said, “The Dutch disease is setting in Canada. We are losing hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs because we're not internalizing environmental costs”. That does not mean much to the average Canadian until it is actually defined. When he says “internalizing environmental costs”, he is talking about a carbon tax. Canadians need to know that.

We know the NDP supports a carbon tax. We know that is what he means, but he will not just come out and say it. We need to understand, from testimony we have heard at the natural resources committee, that if a carbon tax is applied across the country, it will have to be so high that it will impact the life of every Canadian.

That is what the NDP's intent is in saying that we need to internalize environmental costs. The NDP is saying that we need a carbon tax, and we need to set that carbon tax so high that Canadians will have to pay the price until they change their behaviour.

Canadians need to understand that this is in fact what the NDP means when it talks about user pay.

Our government is committed to responsible resource development. We have brought forward a responsible plan in the budget. The NDP should support it. It has used a lot of cliches and exaggerated arguments and illustrations to try to scare Canadians. It needs to do better than that. It should join with us in protecting the economy and the environment and moving ahead, creating jobs, a stronger economy and prosperity for Canadians.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 16th, 2012 / 4:10 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the member needs to stop making assumptions and claiming certain things. We are not talking about a carbon tax here. We are talking about a Conservative bill that eliminates a number of environmental regulations.

If, as he claims, economic and environmental principles are not necessarily mutually exclusive, he will have to agree that, in addition, protecting the environment and creating jobs are not mutually exclusive either.

How does eliminating the protection of fish habitat create jobs? Will it create jobs? Can the member tell us how many jobs will be created by completely wiping out all fish habitat protection? How many jobs will be created by this policy?

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, those of us in Saskatchewan understand this because we had to experience it for so may years. However, it is extremely unfortunate that the NDP thinks we have to take from one group in order to give to another group. We heard its leader talk about how we had to basically shut down the economy in western Canada in order to try to create something in eastern Canada, failing to understand that the two of them are tied together and that prosperity in one part of the country generates prosperity in another part. It also fails to understand that we can have a balanced economy and environmental protection at the same time.

The NDP will consistently take the extreme position that we need to stop the economy, stop development in the country and try to make people more dependent on government, so government can continue to grow in order to protect the environment. We can find the balance between economic growth and environmental protection, and the budget bill does that.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, a few moments ago the member for Winnipeg North characterized as heartless and cruel the efforts to finally move toward a fast immigration system which will allow us to admit qualified applicants for immigration within a matter of months rather than years, ensuring they have better employment prospects and get higher incomes, better linking newcomers to our labour market.

Would the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands not agree with me that if anything was cruel, it was the former Liberal government's incompetent mismanagement of our immigration system, which left to this government in 2006 a backlog of nearly one million people waiting for up to eight years to immigrate to Canada? Would he not agree with me that was an example of terrible neglect of the immigration system on the part of the previous Liberal government?

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would have to agree with the minister, probably the best minister of citizenship and immigration we have had in our country for many decades. It was imperative that something be done to change the system that was in place when the Liberals were finally removed from power. As he pointed out, there were huge backlogs. Hundreds of thousands of people were waiting to get into our country. We are trying to establish an immigration system where people can come to Canada and get good-paying jobs and we can deal with some of the inequality that we have seen in the past with which immigrants have had to deal.

I have to congratulate the minister for his great work on this file. He has dealt with this tough file in a way that is fair to immigrants and Canadians and makes a huge difference for Canadians.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am interested in hearing the minister try to address this issue, in a somewhat fictitious way, I must say. The government, in fact, caused the backlog to hit the one million point. What the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is doing is hitting the delete button, literally telling 100,000 people abroad that they can no longer come to Canada. Bill C-38 would do that. It is a cruel way of dealing with would-be immigrants.

The member is trying to play the politics of that being a great minister when reality shows us quite differently. We have never seen a minister hit a delete button on backlogs. We have never seen a minister put an absolute two-year freeze on being able to sponsor parents. How is that fair? Why has the government has chosen this budget, Bill C-38, to go through the back door and—

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. There needs to be time left for the hon. parliamentary secretary to give his response.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, this is very typical of the Liberal Party. It did nothing for 13 years and allowed the backlog to grow from 500,000 to 600,000 to 700,000 to 800,000 to 840,000. We were elected and we tried to straighten out the system. Now he says that we should not have done that. Had Liberals been in power, by now that backlog would be 1.5 million and the wait list would not be 8 years but probably 12 to 14 years. How does that serve immigrants?

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest, Employment; the hon. member for Québec, Veterans Affairs; the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, Citizenship and Immigration.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleagues who have debated and engaged in this today. I particularly appreciated my close colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board, for his remarks.

I welcome this opportunity to speak about our government's plan for responsible resource development. I do that not just as a member of Parliament who represents a region of Saskatchewan, both urban and rural, which depends heavily on resource development, but as someone who has worked in these industries over the years.

As have many Canadians, I paid my way through university by planting trees in our forestry sector, a good physical job that paid well, rewarded initiative and paid not per hour but per tree, something which many university students could appreciate. At the end of the day, the harder we worked, the more effort we put in, the more we appreciated our university education. That university education allowed me to become a geophysicist, someone who got to practise in northern Quebec, in Nunavut, in Yukon, in the Northwest Territories, in Manitoba and in my beloved home province of Saskatchewan. Therefore, I had the privilege of understanding, not just in the theoretical or the abstract but actually very practical to my own bottom line, the bottom line of my constituents and my personal life, the value of natural resources to us as a country.

Our government's top priority has always been to support jobs and growth and to sustain the Canadian economy. Since we introduced the economic action plan to respond to the global recession, Canada has recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession. In fact, in less than three years since 2009, employment has increased by more than three-quarters of a million, achieving the strongest job growth among the G7 countries, and our natural resource sector is a large part of that extraordinary job growth.

The natural resources sectors have supported the development of communities large and small throughout our nation and they have helped us to build a quality of life that is second to none in the world. Today, Canada's natural resource sector employs 760,000 Canadians. Furthermore, the resources sectors also generate billions of dollars worth of tax revenues and royalties annually to help pay for government programs and services for Canadians. We can see this future wealth being capitalized and becoming a reality now.

Over the next decade, Canada could have as many as 500 new projects and $500 billion in investments in energy and mining sectors alone. I will give just one basic example of how this can affect our country.

In my constituency a potash mine is being developed. When it is developed, as looks very likely to happen, it will be the world's largest potash mine. This project in and of itself is worth over $10 billion.

We see that resource development is not just isolated in Canada to Fort McMurray, to the oil sands, to the region up north. This is something that affects all Canadians. The development of this mine does not just boost economic activity in the riding of Saskatoon—Humboldt in the city of Saskatoon. Much of the engineering for this project is being done in Ontario and Quebec, employing highly skilled engineers in the service industry in eastern Canada. With these projects creating an estimated 700,000 jobs across Canada, they will continue to increase our country's economic prosperity.

However, we have seen, via the leader of the party, the NDP disagrees. Its leader said that the natural resources were a disease that would destroy the manufacturing sector. In the NDP's world, all of economic growth is a zero-sum game. Good high-paying jobs are all at the expense of the east. Instead of embracing economic growth, the leader of the NDP has chosen to pit one region of the country against another.

To be perfectly fair, that is not completely accurate because natural resources are an integral part of the entire Canadian economy and when people begin to attack natural resources as damaging other parts of the Canadian economy and other regions of the economy, they attack natural resources industries all across the country. I think of the diamond mines in the Northwest Territories and in Ontario, oil production off the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. I think of the Plan Nord going forward in northern Quebec. When they attack natural resources, they attack northern Quebec, Newfoundland, the Northwest Territories, the entirety of the prairie regions and in effect they attack one of the largest economic growth engines of Canada for all 10 provinces.

As has been stated earlier, economic growth in one region, the west, does not disadvantage another region, eastern Canada. It is quite the opposite. The economic growth of the west requires manufactured products of all types, from machinery to pipelines to construction material.

Hundreds of companies in the east are benefiting in a large way from resource development, not just in the west, but in Canada in its entirety. Just listen to what Jayson Meyers, CEO and president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, said about resource development:

In total, CME estimates that energy and resource companies invested more than $85 billion in major capital projects in 2011, and is expecting investments to double over the next three years.... These investments in major capital projects will drive new business for Canadian manufacturers in a variety of sectors ranging from equipment, structural steel, and metal fabricating to construction materials and parts suppliers. They will provide opportunities for engineering and construction companies, processing and environmental technology companies, and services ranging from accommodation, food, environmental, and resource services, through to land management, trucking, and distribution as well.

Far from destroying our manufacturing sector, our resource sector is helping to provide jobs to the manufacturing sector.

Canadians understand full well what the government is trying to achieve here. They understand the massive economic potential of our resources. They also know that when it comes to resource development and the environment, it is not an either/or situation. Canadians realize that it is possible to have both. We can responsibly develop Canada's resources and protect the environment as we modernize the regulatory system. In fact, a recent public opinion survey from the chamber of commerce showed 65% of the people asked agreed that it is possible to increase energy production while protecting the environment. This is very true.

With responsible resource development, we will not only maintain Canada's world-class environmental protection programs, we also intend to strengthen them. This would be achieved by focusing federal environmental assessment efforts on major projects that can have adverse effects on the environment.

Let me add a personal note here. I have worked in mining resource exploration. The people of Canada need to know that companies themselves take a very tough line on environmental standards.

When I did exploration in the north, we actually left behind less of an ecological imprint than most of the tour organizers and tourists who were going through northern Canada. Mining exploration was less of an impact than canoe trips and people going through the north. That is not to say that they were causing a major negative ecological impact on northern Canada. It just shows how absolutely serious we were. We picked up everything we put down. Absolutely everything that flew in, flew out. We were very strict on environmental standards.

Our government will take steps to strengthen compliance and introduce stronger enforcement tools. We will do this in several ways: by introducing new, enforceable environmental assessment decisions that ensure project proponents comply with required environmental protection measures; by introducing new penalties for contraventions of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act; by authorizing the use of administrative monetary penalties for violations of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the National Energy Board Act. We will also strengthen compliance by making conditions attached to the Fisheries Act authorizations enforceable.

These are not the actions of a government that is scared to stand up for the environment, but a government that cares greatly about the environment and understands that the environment and natural resources work together.

I spent much of my career before arriving in Parliament travelling across Canada seeing how our natural resources create jobs and prosperity in every region of the country.

Canadians from coast to coast realize how important resource sectors are to their communities, livelihood and well-being. The natural resources industry is our endowment. It is a high-tech industry. It is something we need to unleash, this resource potential, to create jobs, not just in western Canada, not just in northern Canada, not just in eastern Canada, but in Canada in its entirety. There is vast potential for all regions of our country to benefit from the responsible development of our resources.

I entirely reject the NDP premise that what is good for one part of the country is bad for the rest. All of Canada can prosper as a united, free country.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Paulina Ayala NDP Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative colleague talked about the responsible development of resource projects in the mining sector. In order to achieve that, thorough environmental assessments are needed before a project of that scope can begin.

How can this be achieved if restrictive delays are imposed on environmental assessments and if, on top of that, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's budget is cut?

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, it goes back to the underlying premise that more hurdles create better results.

I would invite the hon. member to look back to some of the things that this government did prior to the last election. We developed an economic plan to get infrastructure out faster.

When we did call officials and other people back to testify before the transportation and infrastructure committee, which I was a part of at the time, they testified that as things were done faster there was more focus and more people had responsibility. Rather than passing the buck, authority was taken, answers were delivered, people knew who was responsible. More expenditures, more hurdles, more regulations do not necessarily provide a better outcome.

We are interested first and foremost in the outcome when it comes to the environment and developing our natural resources.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that resources are important to communities across Canada but I disagree about how we are developing them.

Before 2000, Canada made progress in moving away from being hewers of wood, drawers of water, and miners and exporters of raw bitumen and crude oil. Yesterday's Globe and Mail had some interesting statistics about how the clock has been turned back and how the economy is reverting back to a raw materials industry. In 1999, manufactured goods constituted almost 60% of all exports out of Canada. In 2011, unprocessed and semi-processed resources constituted two-thirds of total exports, the highest in decades.

Do we not really need a new, or maybe it is renewed, industrial strategy which would constitute more than tax cuts to banks and big oil companies, hasty so-called free trade agreements and irresponsible resource exploitation?

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will respond to my hon. colleague's question in two respects.

The first thing I would note is, yes, we could lower the percentage of our natural resource exports. We would do that by cutting the prices. I do not know why any government would encourage its citizens to lower the price for the goods that they are selling. That does not make sense. One of the reasons that the percentage of raw materials has gone up in our trade is because their value has gone up. More money is flowing into Canada for the same barrel of oil and for the same tonne of potash.

The second thing I would note, which I am sure my hon. colleague understands coming from this region, is that the natural resources industry is a high-tech industry. Drilling for oil or developing a new mine needs vast amounts of engineering intellectual capital, be it with computer science design, mine design or various other technologies.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is on research and development and the importance of that in the future economy. McMaster University and McMaster Innovation Park are in my riding. They have sent letters to the government heralding the budget. We have had many discussions and workshops around the importance of research, development and venture capital to get rid of the gap between the research lab and the shop floor to create tomorrow's jobs.

Is that really important in Saskatchewan like it is in Ontario?

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Light Source, a very high-tech, large project physics development centre is in Saskatoon. It is an excellent example of R and D. I have personally gone to bat for it to make sure it gets funding. Among other things such as pharmaceuticals and other research, it does environmental and natural resource research for mining companies to help them develop. We see that R and D, supported by this government, is integrated with natural resources in high-tech, urban areas.

Canadians are all in this together, regardless of where they come from. Our industries are interlinked.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, last night I was honoured to participate in the committee of the whole regarding the environment. It was extremely unfortunate, however, that the minister kept telling parliamentarians that he did not have answers. Sometimes he simply refused to answer, even though his officials were sitting right in front of him with the information.

For example, the minister failed to answer my questions on the cost of liabilities that would arise under the new environmental assessment process, how the government compares it to the cost of liabilities under the old assessment process and whether he would table said analysis.

He failed to answer how many of the 10 ozonesonde stations would be supported under the new budget. This matters because ozone is critical life on earth and it protects us from the sun's harmful radiation.

He failed to specify what is in the budget to address the concerns of the environment commissioner.

He failed to answer whether there were any disruptions in service at the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre.

He failed to list the organizations he has accused of money laundering. These were only a few of my questions that he failed or refused to answer.

Let me provide some facts about the Conservative government's repeated failing grades on the environment. The 2008 climate change performance index ranked Canada 56th of 57 countries in terms of tackling emissions. In 2009, The Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 15th of 17 wealthy industrialized nations on environmental performance. In 2010, Simon Fraser University ranked Canada 24th of 25 OECD nations on environmental performance. Most recently, Columbia and Yale's environmental performance index ranked Canada 102nd of 132 countries on climate change.

This profoundly sad time for the environment under the Conservatives continues. The government is now gutting 50 years of environmental oversight and threatening the health and safety of Canadians, our communities, our economy, our livelihoods and our future generations.

We need to be very clear that when the government came to power it inherited a legacy of balanced budgets but soon plunged us into deficit before the recession ever hit. It is absolutely negligent and shameful that the government would gut environmental safeguards to fast-track development rather than promote sustainable development that meets the needs of today without compromising those of the future. The government did not campaign in the last election on gutting environmental protections.

Canadians should therefore rise up, have their voices heard and stop the destruction of laws that protect the environment and health and safety of Canadians.

Maurice Strong, a prominent Canadian who spearheaded the Rio earth summit in 1992, has urged people who are concerned about the future of the environment to do an end run around the federal government. He urged grassroots groups to mobilize and make full use of social media, saying there was still time to bring the pressure of people power.

Instead of understanding the gravity of the situation and standing up for the environment, the Conservative government returns to tired talking points, trying to score political points by attacking the former Liberal leader, saying that the Liberals took no action on climate change when it knows this is absolutely false. The Liberals implemented project green, which would have taken us 80% of the way to meeting our Kyoto targets. The Conservatives killed project green, reduced our greenhouse gas emission targets by an astonishing 90%, spent over $9 billion of taxpayers' hard-earned money and achieved little, walked away from Kyoto, are in the process of repealing the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, and continue to ignore the fact that failing to take action on climate change will cost Canadians $21 billion to $43 billion annually by 2050.

Last week the environment commissioner reported what we have known for a very long time, that the government is not on track to make its 2020 emissions targets. Environment Canada's own forecast shows that in 2020 Canada's emissions will be 7% above 2005 levels, not the promised 17% below.

The so-called law and order government has yet again violated the rule of law. According to the environment commissioner, the federal government did not comply with the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act passed by Parliament in 2007. Does the minister think it is okay to break the law, and going forward, what accountability measures would he put in place to ensure transparency when reporting greenhouse gas emissions to Canadians?

Maurice Strong says that the government may be totally negative when it comes to being a constructive force in mitigating climate change. For example, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment continues to rail against Kyoto. Is she aware, however, that her own minister has, for the second time, said that Kyoto was a good idea in its time? He first said it to The Huffington Post and he has now said it to the BBC.

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's former prime minister and the former chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development and former director general of the World Health Organization, recently said that Canada was moving backward on the issue of climate change and warned Canada not to be naive on the issue. She recently told delegates in Canada that despite the weaknesses of the Kyoto protocol, the world could not afford to push it aside without an alternative, as emissions are continually rising.

When questioned about the link between human activity and climate change, she said, “Politicians and others that question the science, that's not the right thing to do. We have to base ourselves on evidence.”

When will the minister deliver the plans and regulations for the six remaining sectors, and particularly for one of the most important sectors, the oil and gas industry, as the oil sands are the fastest-growing source of emissions in Canada?

Last night I asked the minister how many of Environment Canada's climate impacts adaptation group, many of them Nobel prize-winning scientists, would be supported to undertake adaptation work for Canada, as the cost of adaptation will, once again, be $21 billion to $43 billion annually by 2050. I was asked to repeat the question.

On asking the question a third time, I received the ridiculous answer that the adaptation research group is, like climate change, an evolving organization.

While the Conservatives claim a balanced approach to protecting the environment and promoting economic growth, when has the parliamentary secretary or the minister actually ever stood up for the environment? Was it through cuts to Environment Canada, cuts to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, or cuts to ozone monitoring?

The list of cuts goes on and on.

Canadians should not be fooled by mere snippets of environmental protection but should pay attention to the government's budget reductions to Environment Canada and to other investments on environmental protection and research by hundreds of millions of dollars, while maintaining several tax incentives for the oil and gas sector that the Minister of Finance's department recommended eliminating in his secret memo.

After we vote against this kitchen sink budget, a budget that devotes 150 of its 425 pages to environmental gutting, the Conservative government will stand and say that the opposition voted against some good things for the environment. However, the government gives us absolutely no choice, as we simply cannot vote for the wholesale destruction of environmental legislation and 50 years of safeguards.

If the parliamentary secretary, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources really believe that Bill C-38, the kitchen sink bill, is good for the environment, they should have the courage to hive off the sections on environmental protection, send them to the relevant committees for clause-by-clause study under public scrutiny and end the affront to democracy.

I have a list of cuts to Environment Canada and just some of the changes on the environment to be found in Bill C-38.

There are cuts of 200 positions at Environment Canada.

Last summer the government announced cuts of 700 positions and a 43% cut to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

There are cuts to research and monitoring initiatives, air pollution, industrial emissions, water equality, waste water and partnerships for a greener economy. There are cuts of $3.8 million for emergency disaster response.

As well, the government is consolidating the unit that responds to oil spill emergencies to central Canada, namely Gatineau and Montreal, far from where emergencies, including those involving diluted bitumen, might occur on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and along the proposed route of the northern gateway pipeline project.

What are the numbers and percentages of the slashes to the new central Canada unit that will have to respond to oil spill emergencies? When will the minister table the scientific analysis that backs up his claims that there will be no negative impact?

Last week Environment Canada released its report on plans and priorities, signed by the minister. I will quote from the report:

Skills: Due to transition alignment challenges, the Department risks being unable to stay current with advances in science and technology. In addition...knowledge required to support programs and internal services could pose difficulties...

Environment Canada is a science-based department. The above passage suggests the government is doing Environment Canada serious damage. The minister has previously misled Canadians by saying there would be no compromise of programs.

Given the recognition that there is a problem at Environment Canada, I would like to know what new funds the Minister of the Environment has specifically allocated to bring his department up to date with advances in science and technology in order to protect the environment, the health and safety of Canadians, and evidence-based decision making.

The government has repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. It has repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which allows the federal government to avoid environmental reviews of many potentially harmful projects and to do less comprehensive reviews when they do occur.

Canada's environment commissioner says that the changes are among the most significant policy development in 30 or 40 years and that there will be a significant narrowing of public participation.

The Minister of Natural Resources complains:

Unfortunately, our inefficient, duplicative and unpredictable regulatory system is an impediment. It is complex, slow-moving and wasteful. It subjects major projects to unpredictable and potentially endless delays.

but Premier Jean Charest says:

In Quebec, we've very well mastered the ability of doing joint assessments.... I have learned, through my experiences, that trying to short circuit to reduce the process will only make it longer, and it is better to have a rigorous, solid process. It gives a better outcome, and for those who are promoting projects, it will give them more predictability than if not.

There are more changes: the weakening of several environmental laws, including species at risk and water; the near-elimination of fish habitat in the Fisheries Act, putting species from coast to coast to coast at increased risk of habitat flaws and population decline; placing the authority of the federal cabinet to approve new pipeline projects above the National Energy Board; and the elimination of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, the independent think tank with a direct mandate from Parliament.

The Minister of the Environment has never said what will replace it, despite my asking twice in Parliament. The head of NRT does not know either, as what it does is unique.

This week the Minister of Foreign Affairs said the closure of the round table had more to do with the content of the research itself, namely promotion of a carbon tax as a means of addressing climate change. He said:

Why should taxpayers have to pay for more than 10 reports promoting a carbon tax, something which the people of Canada have repeatedly rejected?

The Minister of Foreign Affairs confirms what we have known for a very long time, namely that the government puts ideology above evidence.

The NRT issued economic and science-based reports, which did not agree with Conservative ideology. The national round table has been a well-respected, unbiased, independent organization for over two decades. It was started by the Mulroney government, our present Governor General was its founding chair and the government should know how important it is.

The foreign minister's remarks two days ago had nothing to do with the carbon tax—after all, the Prime Minister himself has promised a price on carbon of $65 per tonne by 2016 to 2018—but were the government's attempt to change the channel, as it was coming under harsh criticism for gutting environmental protection. It was also the government's attempt to silence its critics. The government is practising 1940s-style McCarthyism: shut down any independent voice, and bully and intimidate those who cannot be shut down.

We are also seeing the silencing of government critics through changes to the Canada Revenue Agency and the attempts to seize control of the university research agenda. The government should be able to stand on its own merits and should be able to withstand criticism, but instead of making its arguments, it is just looking to eliminate dissent.

The criticism of Bill C-38 is extensive. For example, the Ottawa Citizen reports, under the heading “Something's fishy with Bill C-38...”:

There was no need for great chunks of legislation to be retrofitted into a 420-page omnibus budget bill that looks to have been intended to confound every effort by the House of Commons to scrutinize its contents intelligently.

Under the heading “Omnibus bill threatens fish...”, The Vancouver Sun reported:

A new front in the battle against the federal government's omnibus budget bill opened up Monday when B.C. Conservative Party leader John Cummins sent a letter to [the] Prime Minister...warning of major threats to fishing communities and the environment if major Fisheries Act amendments are passed.

For decades, Canadians have depended on the federal government to safeguard our families and nature from pollution, toxic contamination and other environmental problems through a safety net of environmental laws. This bill shreds this environmental safety net to fast-track development at the expense of all Canadians.

Instead the government could have implemented my Motions Nos. 322, 323 and 325, which focused on Canada's commitment to sustainable development, recognizing that it was not a choice between saving the economy and the environment and therefore working with the provinces, territories and stakeholders to develop a green economy strategy and a national sustainable energy strategy to build the jobs of the future for our communities and for Canada.

When we compromise the air, the water, the soil, the variety of life, we steal from the endless future to serve the fleeting present.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am quite glad the hon. member had an opportunity to speak, because she helps reinforce for Canadians just why the Liberals are in such a small position in the House of Commons now.

The real reason is that the Liberals always talk a great game but never actually accomplish anything. They actually admitted that they never had a plan to implement Kyoto. They admitted that they did not get the job done.

On this side of the House, on a chemical management plan, we did it; the Great Lakes cleanup, we did it; on Copenhagen, we are doing it; the acid rain treaty, we did it; the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund, we did it; $1 billion to secure our national heritage across this country, we did it; the expansion of our national parks, we did it.

On every single issue when it comes to actually taking care of the environment, there is a big difference between this side and the Liberals. We say what we are going to do and we do it. The Liberals say what they want to do because they think it will gain some votes, and then they never actually accomplish it.

Is the member not embarrassed to stand in the House today and pretend that she and her party have ever cared about the environment?

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a scientist who consulted to Environment Canada, who served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who was picked by my government to do so, I am very proud to stand and talk to my party's record. We signed Kyoto. We took action. We had a plan. It was called project green. That plan would have got us 80% of the way to meeting our Kyoto targets.

The Conservative government killed that plan. It has since reduced its emissions targets by an astonishing 90% and it can get us only a third of the way to meeting its very weak target. As for the Conservatives' “success” on water, this is a government that is contributing 0.7% of what is required to clean up the Great Lakes and it did so, a real slap on the face, on World Water Day.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of great discussion and a lot of great points made by my colleague, but I have two specific points I would hope she could answer regarding the two oil pipelines that are slated for British Columbia.

I would like to know specifically what the Liberal position is on the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline and on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Opposition Motion--Budget LegislationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party is actually the party of evidence. We are the party that consults. We had a process in place. It was the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. We need to see how that plays out. Unfortunately, the government has just repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. This—