Mr. Speaker, I think one of the things we can be proud of with this motion is that we are fulfilling our commitment. It is good to see, today, the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming bring this forward and to see it is supported so strongly by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the member for Labrador, as well.
I have been the parliamentary secretary for natural resources now for a number of years. It is good to be able to come into the House and to be able to work on an initiative like this that has the support of the major parties. Hopefully, as the Liberal member opposite indicated, we can get unanimous support for this motion.
Our government's support for the Lower Churchill River projects demonstrates our strong desire to work with the provinces and territories. That is all about Canada's sustainable energy resources being used to create jobs, being used to create long-term economic growth and being used to create energy security for Canadians.
On November 30, 2012, the governments of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia announced that they had reached an agreement on the terms for a federal loan guarantee for the Lower Churchill River projects. This agreement is a clear indication of the Government of Canada's strong support for vital, renewable energy projects. The signed term sheet will position the proponents to engage capital markets for arranging the financing for the Lower Churchill River projects.
The Government of Canada has agreed to guarantee the loan for a period of 35 to 40 years from the time project debt is raised, which will apply to the construction and operating phases of the projects. By backing the Lower Churchill River projects with Canada's strong credit rating, the loan guarantee will significantly reduce borrowing costs. My colleague in the NDP noted that. It is estimated that the loan guarantee will save over $1 billion for the projects and, in turn, for ratepayers in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.
Private member's Motion No. 412 offers all members of this House an opportunity to show their support for an important renewable energy project. Our government stands behind the Lower Churchill River projects on their merits: a significant source of clean, renewable energy, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and economic benefits for all Atlantic Canada.
In addition, it should be pointed out, and just in the context of our discussion today, that this important energy initiative fits well with the broader plans for growth of Canada's economy.
The Conservative government knows full well that Canada's economic growth requires innovation, and it requires investment and education, as well as skill development, all of which have been the focus of our economic action plan 2012, a plan for job creation that is working out.
Since July 2009, employment in Canada has increased by more than 900,000 jobs. Members here would be familiar with the numbers. This is the strongest job growth among G7 countries. While the parties opposite often refuse to support our job-creating policies, we are going to continue to get the job done for Canadians.
In addition, both the IMF and the OECD forecast that Canada will continue to have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 in the next year.
While we are focusing on growing Canada's economy and jobs, we would suggest that the Liberals have no economic plan and the NDP continues to push dangerous high tax schemes, like its $21 billion carbon tax. I understand if we add all of its tax proposals together, it comes closer to $54 billion. That is quite a different perspective than we have.
Over the last several years, a large part of Canada's economic success has been due to our resource industries. In 2011, these industries contributed 20%, and employment is close to 1.6 million Canadian jobs.
With the potential, over the next decade, for more than $650 billion to be invested in more than 600 major resource projects in Canada, our government is moving forward with our plan for responsible resource development, which is a plan that would allow us to develop our resources, bring them to market and bolster investment and job creation, all while protecting Canada's environment.
Newfoundland and Labrador has certainly seen the benefits of resource development. Offshore development has made enormous economic contributions and completely transformed the province's economy. Not long ago, it was receiving the highest per capita equalization payments in the country. Today, the province is among our strongest provincial economies. Offshore energy development has supported Newfoundland and Labrador jobs, lowered taxes and created new investments in services and infrastructure, all while contributing to stronger local communities.
There is no doubt that these benefits from the energy sector will continue to grow. There is no doubt, also, that the Lower Churchill River projects will make significant and lasting contributions to the economies of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.
I wish I could say that I was surprised that the leader of the Green Party has spoken out against these projects, but it is clear that she is insistent on opposing development in all forms.
The Green Party says the project should be reconsidered because renewable forms of energy other than a large hydroelectric plant should be pursued. I suggest that is a strange position and I would ask the member and those who share that position to review the independent third-party analyses commissioned by Nalcor and by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. These analyses strongly support these projects for the reasons that we mentioned earlier.
The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador strongly considered alternatives to the projects, including wind power and the possibility of natural gas generation. However, every consideration favoured hydro power. It is safe to say that for Newfoundland and Labrador, the Green Party is wrong and that hydro generation is as good as it gets and provides a source of electricity that will be steady, reliable, clean, renewable and affordable.
The same can be said of Canada as a whole. As the members of the House are aware, hydro power plays a tremendous role in our nation's economy, not only generating electric power but also in job creation, economic prosperity and supporting our quality of life. Canada is the third-largest hydro power producer in the world. We are blessed in the quality of our power as well as in its quantity. Canada's electricity supply is one of the cleanest in the world with 75% of our electrical supply coming from non-emitting sources, including about 60% from hydroelectricity.
As I indicated in my earlier remarks, Canadians are very fortunate to have a wealth of natural resources. Our hydro power industry is a key part of our energy sector. It is destined to grow even more and provide even greater contributions to our economic and environmental goals. The lower Churchill River projects are a significant part of this expansion, as are several other large hydro projects already in various stages of development in British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba. With these advances, Canada will continue to contribute significantly to the world supply of clean energy.
The International Energy Agency has called for a doubling of the world's hydro power by 2050 to limit emissions of greenhouse gases and contain global warming. The IEA says that hydro currently provides only 16% of electricity worldwide, with oil, gas and coal-fired generation contributing 67% of all electricity.
Today's debate is about ensuring a more prosperous future for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. That is exactly why our government's endorsement of the lower Churchill River projects is as strong today as it was when we first indicated our support. For these reasons we are supporting these projects: a clean, renewable and reliable source of energy; electrical self-sufficiency for Newfoundland and Labrador; stable electricity rates for families, businesses and communities in the region; thousands of jobs during construction and millions of dollars in economic spinoffs. It is for these reason that the Government of Canada is very proud to support this important clean energy initiative, and we remain fully committed to the success of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia's lower Churchill River projects.
With this in mind, I reaffirm our support for the lower Churchill River hydro projects by proposing the following amendments to the motion. I move:
That the motion be amended by: 1. replacing the words “government loan guarantee to the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project is: (a) an important part of a clean energy agenda; (b) an economically viable project that will create thousands of jobs and billions in economic growth; (c) regionally significant” with the words “loan guarantee provided by the federal government for the Lower Churchill hydroelectric projects—consisting of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric generation facility, the Labrador Transmission Assets, the Labrador-Island Link, and the Maritime Link—will be an important and valuable step in advancing Canada's clean energy agenda, as it will support an economically viable, regional energy project that will (a) provide economic benefits”; 2. replacing the words “and (d) environmentally-friendly,” with the words “(b) create environmentally-friendly electricity,”; and 3. adding after the words “oil electricity sources” the words “; and (c) create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic growth”.