House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-13.


The House resumed from May 29 consideration of the motion.

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I believe I had five minutes left when we last left off. I was talking about what an opportunity it was to speak to Motion No. 497 and provide some details on how our government is already successfully meeting the objectives of saving Canadians money on their energy bills, stimulating the economy, creating jobs, and reducing emissions.

By 2016, the eco-energy efficiency program is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by four megatonnes. That's equivalent to the emissions of one million vehicles. Canada can also claim to be a strong and active supporter in the related area of renewable energy. Between 2005 and 2011, Canada's greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production fell 26%. Over three-quarters of Canada's electricity now comes from emissions-free sources, including hydro, nuclear, and non-hydro renewable energy. Furthermore, Canada is the first nation in the world to ban the construction of traditional coal-fired power plants.

Wind energy is growing, and Canada is now ranked ninth in the world in installed wind power capacity. There are almost 4,700 wind turbines in operation on 195 wind farms in the provinces and two territories, representing over 8,500 megawatts of generating capacity.

With regard to solar energy, Canada's solar industry has become one of our fastest-growing sources of electricity. Solar has now expanded from only 33 megawatts in 2008 to 1,210 megawatts in 2013.

In conclusion, that is where we stand now, and Canada's energy future is even brighter. Innovation and new technologies are all growing to Canada's energy advantage. Canadians know this lesson well, and we have been actively applying it.

Canada's clean tech energy industry is growing faster than any other major sector in the Canadian economy. Canada has built its clean tech capacity into a $11.3 billion industry that directly employs more than 41,000 people and is expected to grow to over 88,000 jobs by 2022. As a result, Canada has become a leader in clean energy technology, from carbon capture and storage to biomass, wind power, and tidal power.

All of these considerations clearly show that our government's focus on energy efficiency and responsible energy use has huge and positive impacts on innovation, on job creation, on reducing emissions, and on helping Canadians become more energy-aware and energy-efficient at work, at home, and on the road. It is for these reasons that we can say that the goals of Motion No. 497 are already being addressed, namely, the goals of reducing energy consumption and emissions, saving Canadians money, creating jobs, and supporting our economy.

All of these goals are worth pursuing, and our government is committed to continuing to achieve them as we move forward.

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to start off this Monday morning with an opportunity to speak in the House, so thank you for the chance to speak to this important motion. I would also like to commend the efforts of my hon. colleague from Drummond, not only for putting forward a motion on what we deem to be a critical issue but also for seeking a bipartisan consensus that federal programs should be in place to encourage energy efficiency in Canada.

If only the government were as open to co-operation when it comes to defending and promoting the interests of Canadian people, I think we would all be much further ahead, and on this issue it would be great if everybody would just agree that more energy retrofit programs need to be happening.

However, as previous debate on this motion have reminded this House and our previous speaker, no energy efficiency program has existed in Canada since the Conservatives caused the lapse of the eco-energy home retrofit program in 2012. Evidently I can no longer hope to find common cause on this issue with the governing party, but I hope that the member for Drummond takes some solace from the fact that the Liberals are strong defenders of the environment, especially on initiatives that aim to reduce our carbon footprint, such as this one.

It is critical that we do all we can as individuals and as parliamentarians to encourage the pursuit of energy efficiency. There are many reasons to pursue this goal. From a global perspective, improvements to the efficiency of our infrastructure are a key part of the struggle to avoid severe climate change. Individually speaking, we know that retrofits to buildings and homes can lead to substantial savings for families. Upgrades to heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, to air sealing, and to the insulation of attics and windows, as well as the installation of low-flow toilets, can allow families to save valuable dollars.

These are not glamorous changes, but they are cost-effective ways of achieving significant progress on our energy use profiles, which are simply far too high.

Anyone who is familiar with the data on this subject knows that Canada's rankings in international comparisons of energy intensity are consistently dismal. We are always at or very near the bottom of the list. In other words, we use more than almost anyone else. Yes, our climate is colder, and yes, our economy depends partly on our energy exports, but this is no argument for remaining complacent or for simply doing nothing.

The World Bank, the OECD, the International Energy Agency, foreign governments, and many domestic NGOs have reminded us time and time again that we could be doing so much more to reduce our energy consumption. In the last OECD environmental performance review, Canada placed dead last out of 17 industrial countries measured. What does that showcase to the world?

We have the means to do better, but we need the political will to make that happen. The government may have its head in the sand, but we need to start listening to what science is telling us every single day. This weekend there was a clear message around the world that people are very concerned about climate change, and we need to be doing our part.

As a nation blessed with vast stores of natural resources, it only makes sense that we should be world leaders in the efficient use of our wealth, not number 17 out of 17. A failure in this regard is a failure to recognize the value of what we have, and it is a betrayal to future generations who may never derive the benefit from these important resources as we gobble them up for immediate gratification. There is a grim irony to the fact that we are as wasteful as we are simply because we have too much.

Incidentally, the characterization I have just made about Canada's energy use applies equally to its water consumption. As a country, we take our water far too much for granted. We have one of the largest supplies of fresh water in the world, but does this justify the fact that we, along with the Americans, have by far the highest daily domestic withdrawals per capita in the world?

On a generous estimate, Canadians still use upward of 300 litres per day each. This is nine times higher than Denmark, Europe's best performer, and double the average of other developed nations, which goes back to being the same issue. We have a lot of great resources, but we are not using them wisely and clearly we are wasting them immensely.

I mention these statistics not to scold but because it is clear that Canada has much to do when it comes to resource efficiency and conservation.

The Prime Minister has declared his intention that Canada in the 21st century should be a global energy superpower. To this end, he has focused his government's efforts almost exclusively on promoting supply or, in other words, on pipelines and market access. However, as any good economist knows, supply is only half of the equation. The Prime Minister cannot hope to achieve this superpower ambition without considering the demand aspect and how better to manage it. Domestically, that is precisely what an energy efficiency initiative is.

An incentive program such as the one proposed would be a small step in the right direction. It would signal renewed commitment to international leadership in the fight against climate change and it would help improve Canada's credibility as an energy power. Promoting energy efficiency would also signal a commitment by government to helping the many start-ups and investors who form part of the growing green industry sector. These include developers, builders, energy auditors, construction and engineering firms, renewable energy companies, and many others who are devoted to the vision of a cleaner, more sustainable economy.

At the same time, a program such as that proposed by Motion No. 497 would signal again to Canadians that the government stands behind individual efforts to build a next-generation economy. Canadians are already doing what they can to make improvements to their homes that will bring down costs to both households and the environment. The federal government has the ability to show leadership and help offset some of those upfront expenses of these upgrades and retrofits, which can still be prohibitively priced for many Canadians.

This week saw the release of the inaugural report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. The commission is headed up by a group of people from around the globe. Felipe Calderón, the former President of Mexico, is the chair. Other members include the chairman of the Bank of America, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, the CEO of China International Capital Corporation, and the president of the Asian Development Bank, and the list goes on.

The basic conclusion of their report, which is called “Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy”, is that the supposed choice between a healthy climate and a healthy economy is a false one.

With intelligent policy, I believe that we can have both. Of course, I understand why the need for intelligent policy will vex the Prime Minister and his front bench, so let me frame it another way. How can anyone suggest that we continue to consume the finite resources of our planet with an infinite appetite? As we face the global threat of climate change, perhaps the defining challenge of our time, energy efficiency must be recognized as part of our national policy tool kit.

To quote the commission:

Policies to promote energy efficiency can free up resources for more productive uses and, if designed well, can be particularly beneficial to people on low incomes.

The report also says:

Greater investment in energy efficiency--in businesses, buildings and transport--has huge potential to cut and manage demand.

Elsewhere the report notes:

The evidence shows that investment in low-carbon energy sources and energy efficiency is a major source of job creation. For example, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that almost 6 million people were directly employed in the renewable energy sector in 2012.... This is approaching the number of people employed in the coal industry. As developed countries have adopted low-carbon measures, there has been a little-noticed but remarkable growth in employment in a wide range of businesses in the “low-carbon sector”. As the transition to a lower-carbon economy accelerates, this pattern of job creation and business expansion is likely to be replicated more widely.

Canada must embrace new opportunities that promote the shift to a sustainable future. In promoting this particular motion, we are moving that along.

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the World Meteorological Organization's annual report, greenhouse gas concentrations reached record levels in 2013.

The question we must ask ourselves today is this: What can we do to tackle this alarming trend? The best solution is to implement a large-scale energy efficiency program.

Motion No. 497 on energy efficiency, which was moved by my colleague, the member for Drummond, puts forward an innovative and important perspective on the climate change debate.

The plan we are suggesting would encourage owners of buildings, both residential and commercial, to decrease their energy consumption.

There are many advantages attached to this program. It would help to preserve the environment, boost our economy by creating a large number of job opportunities, and significantly reduce the energy cost of every Canadian citizen.

Here is a little reminder. Canada already had this type of program, between 2007 and 2012, which was called the ecoENERGY home retrofit program. Its aim was to make housing more energy efficient in order to fight climate change. Back then, one out of every twenty Canadian households was able to benefit from a subvention of, on average, $1,400.

Let us do the math. Based on a five-year period, this investment of $934 million allowed Canadian households to save more than $400 million each year.

However, those days are gone because, once again, the Conservatives put an end to the program since they felt it had fulfilled its purpose, as though the energy issue could be resolved in a few years with the wave of a magic wand.

Now, more than ever, Canada must face two closely related challenges: the environmental challenge and the energy challenge. Our new challenge, which the NDP has vowed to take on, will be to manage this country's vast resources to ensure their long-term viability, not destroy them, which is what has been happening in recent years, unfortunately.

The NDP understands the challenge and intends to meet it. That is why we are strongly in favour of a sweeping greenhouse gas reduction agenda. Not only will this plan help us reduce our environmental footprint, but it will also result in positive social spinoffs.

This would put Canada in a state of mind that is based on long-term action. The country would be able to build an economy for the future, green and sustainable. This plan is the exact opposite of the economic backwardness conducted by the Conservative Party. It would also put a stop to the useless investments in the oil and gas sectors, which are very detrimental to the country.

Canada needs to empower itself with a solid energy efficiency strategy or it will soon be behind other countries in this field. Canada, to the contrary, wants to be a world leader when it comes to energy efficiency.

Climate change is creating a crisis that is forcing leaders to open their eyes to its disastrous consequences. It is imperative that action is taken today to lessen our environmental footprint, if we want to preserve our rich and unique system.

Therefore, reducing our dependence upon fossil fuel is fundamental. It is unacceptable that our resources are exploited in the way they are currently, recklessly and thoughtlessly, only to satisfy the economic interest of a minuscule part of the population while the majority of Canadians are seeing their future compromised.

The NDP is not alone in thinking this way and has received strong support from many associations, such as Equiterre and Blue Green Canada, which also want to address this issue.

This action plan will provide security in terms of public health. According to the WHO, climate change related to excessive greenhouse gas emissions affects the determinants of health of our constituents, particularly the most vulnerable. It is therefore our duty to ensure a safe and healthy environment. This is yet another factor that the Conservatives often seem to forget about.

This plan will benefit the entire economy and Canadians themselves by creating jobs, many of them in the construction sector. The spinoffs of this plan will be truly enormous. A new report by Blue Green Canada shows that investing in clean energy projects could create 18,000 new jobs in Canada, strengthen the economy, reduce pollution and make for a healthier environment.

Instead, all the government can talk about is budget cuts, again and again. For example, it used the 2014-15 budget to cut $25 million in funding from clean air programs and the fight against climate change. It overlooked the indisputable merits of such a program. My colleague's motion will help reduce energy bills and household debt for all Canadians. Canada currently has one of the highest household debt levels in the world, and Canadians will benefit from financial assistance enabling them to renovate their homes or buildings, which will help revitalize neighbourhoods in Canadian communities. The government must provide Canadians with the support they need to get through this crisis.

The Conservative Party turned its back on the environmental issue by withdrawing Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, in 2001, during the United Nations conference. As well, the cuts from the 2014-15 budget affect Natural Resources Canada, which will see a decrease of $232 million, nearly half of which are directed toward the clean energy fund.

There is more, or I should say that there is less. There is less money for programs, such as the forest industry transformation program. The ecoENERGY for biofuels program will also be affected by budget cuts.

Needless to say, the Conservative Party has put aside environmental and clean energy concerns.

Conversely, the NDP would end the multi-billion-dollar subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and invest in a sustainable, green economy. The NDP would allocate Canada's resources in the best possible way and put a stop to investments that prevent our country from building its future on a sound, solid foundation.

According to Roger Lanoue and Normand Mousseau, co-chairs of the Commission sur les enjeux énergétiques du Québec, every dollar invested in an energy efficiency program generates economic spinoffs that are equal to, if not greater than, the construction of new energy production facilities.

Instead of offering billions of dollars in tax breaks to the oil industry, which is one of the biggest polluters, our government should recognize that its energy policy is destructive for our country. We need to focus on more than just the short term. We cannot put off resolving environmental issues, nor can we ignore them. Federal investments must be methodical and well thought out.

The NDP has already created an action plan and is ready to implement it. That will begin when we pass Motion No. 497.

I would like to mention that yesterday I went to the people's climate march in Montreal. Two of my colleagues also came with me: the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard and the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie. Hundreds of people took part, including a large NDP contingent. I was disappointed to see no representatives from any other federal party at the march. During the four-hour event, we had many rewarding discussions with people who came to talk to us about their concerns regarding the climate. Many activists came and asked us what is happening in western Canada, how people are reacting, and how we can leave future generations with such an environmental burden. I am 29 years old and I worry about my future and that of the next generation, because right now, no one knows where we are headed. We are developing our resources without necessarily thinking about all the possible consequences.

The bill introduced by my hon. colleague from Drummond is an intelligent way to make Canada's economy work by creating jobs in the construction industry. This is an intelligent way to reduce the greenhouse gases that surround us. Right now we are constantly emitting more and more. There was some smog in Montreal this summer. There is no doubt that pollution is a serious concern. I have asthma, so I can assure you this is true. When I am in Montreal, I need my puffers, but in the forest in Mauricie, I do not need them. Specific examples like that can be used to assess these things. Adopting this motion would be a step towards a greener, more prosperous Canada.

In closing, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague from Drummond on all of his efforts on the environment.

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar Saskatchewan


Kelly Block ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, this is a great opportunity for me to demonstrate how our government is already taking action to address what the bill seeks to achieve. I thank the member for allowing me the opportunity to talk about how our government is positioning Canada as a global leader in the energy technology sector and encouraging Canadians to use energy responsibly.

Our government has made it a priority to create jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and lower costs for consumers. We have successfully implemented numerous energy efficiency initiatives that address these goals. The member was perhaps not aware of this when he tabled the motion.

As we know, Canada's economy is based, in large part, on the abundance of our natural resources. In fact, we rely on non-emitting sources for 79% of our electricity. We also have a duty to ourselves and to future generations to develop those resources in a way that is responsible and protects the environment.

Major global economies are focusing on responsible energy use and enhancing opportunities for consumers and businesses to support energy efficient choices. For example, the U.S. intends to double its energy productivity over the next 20 years. The European Union has developed mandatory countrywide targets for energy efficiency and requires buildings to be labelled for energy performance. India has set a mandatory energy efficiency target that covers 65% of that nation's industrial consumption. China is pursuing a 16% reduction in energy intensity over the next five years.

Given the growing demand for improved energy efficiency worldwide, focusing on developing and exporting energy efficient technologies and products is a winning scenario for consumers, entrepreneurs, the environment, and Canada's economy. Since 2005, we have reduced emissions by 5.1%, while the economy grew by over 10%. This is an impressive achievement, and we did it without raising taxes. We know that the NDP wants to bring in a tax that would raise the cost of everything. We prefer to leave this money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians.

Since 2006, the Government of Canada has made significant investments to support energy efficiency, clean energy technologies, and the production of clean energy and cleaner fuels. We are taking a practical approach that protects Canada's best interests, an approach that balances our environmental goals with job creation.

Few people realize that Canada is a global leader in energy technology, and we have made great strides to improve energy efficiency at home, at work, and on the road. Our country's gains in energy efficiency are making people sit up and take notice around the world. The International Energy Agency now ranks Canada second, along with the U.K., in improving energy use between 1990 and 2010.

We know that the transportation sector currently generates about a quarter of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, an initial focus is to raise awareness among Canadians of the energy we use on the road. That is why our government recently took action by introducing world-class vehicle emission standards, resulting in significant energy efficiency improvements. By 2025, new cars will consume 50% less fuel and emit 50% less greenhouse gases than similar 2008 models.

We have already made great progress in improving the energy efficiency of Canadian homes. We have also developed tools like the EnerGuide rating system to provide homeowners with accurate and easy-to-understand measures of their home's energy performance, as an important first step toward smart home renovations. More than one million Canadian homeowners have obtained an evaluation, using this system, since 1998.

Canadians understand that energy efficiency leaves more money in their pockets. With the familiar blue Energy Star label, Canadians can now easily find top energy performers for more than 65 product categories, including appliances, televisions, and windows.

Let me assure everyone that these savings can quickly add up. By replacing three major appliances with Energy Star models, consumers can save significant amounts on their utility bills, but we are not stopping there. We have also introduced measures to help Canadian businesses improve their energy efficiency and reduce their environmental footprints.

Canada's National Energy Code for Buildings 2011 is now 25% more stringent than the previous code. By 2016, it is expected that new building owners will save $70 million in energy costs as a result of improvements to the 2011 code.

We are also encouraging Canadian industry to adopt the ISO 50001 standard, a voluntary international energy management standard used in over 60 countries to manage costs and improve productivity. For example, Chrysler's Brampton, Ontario, plant is saving nearly $2 million in energy costs a year by using this system and investing in improved heating, ventilation and exhaust systems. Under our energy efficiency programs, Canadian businesses have learned how to cut energy consumption in Canada's plants, factories, and buildings by as much as 20%.

In closing, let me restate how our government is already achieving the goals of the motion. Programs implemented by our government are reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2005, emissions have been reduced by 5.1% and we are continuing to find new ways to improve this reduction.

It is important to note that Canada has the lowest per capita emissions since we began tracking in 1990. We are successfully lowering consumers' energy bills. Action taken over the past two decades has led to energy savings of $32 billion. We are currently on track to save consumers $1 billion more by 2016. It is due to these efforts that Canada is a world leader in energy efficiency improvements, ranked second behind Germany and tied with the United Kingdom.

It is through this action that new jobs are created. Jobs are directly created due to energy efficiency renovations and indirectly with savings directed elsewhere in the economy. We are proud that our government's plan is working and that we are achieving our goals without implementing a job-killing carbon tax. Canadians can rely on our government to continue to deliver for them, their families, and their pocketbooks.

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak in support of Motion No. 497 on energy efficiency.

I congratulate my colleague from Drummond for the motion, which is of course timely given that all of the leaders of the world are gathering this week in New York, sadly except for the Prime Minister of this country, to work on deeper cuts to greenhouse gases around the globe.

My colleague's motion calls for government implementation of an energy efficiency program to encourage homeowners, commercial building owners and businesses to reduce their energy consumption in an effort to fight climate change, to reduce Canadians' energy bills, and to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

I am pleased to have heard the speech by the parliamentary secretary who I have enjoyed working with on several committees, and the fact that she is showing there certainly is value in investing in energy efficiency, and that to date the government has taken some measures. However, as I would like to speak to, there is lot more the government has promised and could do.

The International Energy Agency has continued to call on governments around the world, including Canada, to take action on what it has identified as the two critical global crises. Those two crises, as identified by the International Energy Agency, are the demand for energy, which is growing in the world, and climate change.

The International Energy Agency has issued a call to all nations to make more substantial investments in renewable power and energy efficiency to address both of those crises. In parallel to this, Canadian families are facing record household debt at the same time as energy prices are rising, for transportation, homes, farms and businesses.

The sad thing is measures are readily available. The technology exists, and the initiatives and the interest in working on energy efficiency exists to address both of these. Among these are the concerted efforts to reduce energy use and demand-side management. Indeed, as the world progresses, as developing nations also seek the kinds of lives we benefit from here in the western world, there is an increasing demand for energy, to heat their homes, to provide food for their families and to make use of the kinds of appliances that we have and have benefited from.

At the same time, we have the opportunity to be providing means to them, as well as to us, for greater energy efficiency and to reduce that great demand on increased energy use. Energy efficiency not only reduces pollution and greenhouse gases, it offers substantial savings on energy bills and creates well-paying, skilled jobs in our local communities.

What has been done, and what could be done to make this happen? Sadly, under the current government, very little.

First of all, the energy retrofit program has been an incredibly popular and oversubscribed program. To its credit, some years back the government, under a lot of pressure, agreed to return the program but only for one year. The problem was that only some Canadian families and businesses could benefit. Second, it is very hard for energy efficiency companies to gear up quickly enough in order to be able to build a program and reach out to assist. Sadly, a lot of the operations that were developed in my community fell apart because there was no long-term support.

It is a significant loss as partnering between federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments can actually move energy efficiency programs forward. Some municipalities and some provinces have continued to forge ahead. Sadly in my home province, they have backed off. There was a promise this past spring for Alberta to put $30 million in, which if partnered with the federal government would be good. We are waiting to see what will happen with the new premier of Alberta.

Reconfiguring programs to direct assistance to the most in need, though, is very important. In the past, only those who had the deeper pockets could benefit from these programs, because the government assistance was only supplementing the investment by the families or the businesses themselves. Therefore, it was only those who had the spare cash who could take advantage of applying for and benefiting from these programs.

If we move forward with an energy retrofit program, I would strongly recommend that the federal government work with the provinces and municipalities in coming up with a means to target those most in need: low-income, fixed-income, seniors and aboriginal communities. We should also consider combining those initiatives with access to programs such as solar power because that also reduces the drawdown on the grid. In a province such as mine, Alberta, the vast majority of our electricity is provided by coal-fired power, which is a huge source of greenhouse gases and pollution. By getting off the grid or feeding into the grid cleanly, we can actually partner with energy efficiency.

I would like to share the fantastic initiative in Alberta between non-government organizations, major industry and government, the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance. It has been promoting a major program, which it thinks can significantly reduce greenhouse gases and also create employment. It says there are a lot of non-economic barriers to using these. Some of those include inappropriate price signals, limited product availability, lack of energy literacy and access to capital financing. That is why it will be really important for the federal government to move forward and partner.

What is the second area where the federal government could assist? As our colleague across the way, the parliamentary secretary, mentioned, there was a review that was undertaken by the parliamentary committee on operations. I am pleased to share that this was a review that I initiated. It was a fantastic review where we brought in experts from across the country to talk about the success the federal government has made in reducing energy use in federal infrastructure and facilities, and the additional savings that could be achieved. The great success that we had in that review was the unanimous conclusion by all of the parties represented at that committee that what we should be doing is targeting investments in energy efficiency toward the considerable tax savings to Canadian taxpayers, not simply the reduction of greenhouse gases.

A number of recommendations were made to the government. We made a very substantial report, but the New Democratic Party also made some additional recommendations based on what the experts told us and also based on the opportunity that I took to go the U.S. and meet its Department of Energy. One of the recommendations we suggested is legally prescribed energy efficiency targets. I notice that the parliamentary secretary mentioned that a number of European nations have legally prescribed targets, so does the United States of America. We have a clean energy dialogue, a partnership with the United States and I think it is time for Canada to move forward and adopt these kinds of prescriptive measures.

We also recommended that there be interagency coordination capacity-building within the government sector and dedicated budget allocations, as well as a lot more attention to jobs and skills development. It may be noted that in a number of the government reports, Conservatives have undertaken that they are going to work toward identifying green jobs and what kinds of skills development is needed and what kinds of programs could support that. Unfortunately, we have not seen any action on that.

I would like to quote the former minister of natural resources, Joe Oliver, speaking on the—

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. I would remind the member she cannot reference her colleagues by their given names.

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, pardon me, even though he is the former minister of natural resources, he still is a minister of this place, so I apologize.

The former minister of natural resources had stated on this issue that in a five-year period more than 640,000 homeowners benefited from the eco-energy retrofit program. It is estimated that it triggered more than $8 billion in economic activity, and created and protected thousands of jobs during a time of economic uncertainty.

As we know across our country, some regions are still facing a lot of unemployment. Therefore, the value of the energy efficiency sector, whether working on retrofitting government facilities or retrofitting small businesses or homes, is that it allows for our young skilled workers to stay in their own communities, benefit from employment and support their families. On federal infrastructure, there we are. The number one conclusion that our committee made was that this is the way to save taxpayer dollars. Rather than cutting more and more civil servants, we could invest in energy infrastructure.

To close, I would like to add that in the government's own sustainable development strategy, it has five or six recommendations in this vein that it has committed to take action on. What is missing are budgeted dollars to move in that direction. I would encourage the government to come forth and genuinely commit to energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today in support of Motion No. 497 on energy efficiency.

I learned to conserve energy when I was very young. At home, my father would always ask me to close the door and tell me that we do not heat the outdoors. He would also ask me to turn off the tap so as not to waste water. Thanks to his guidance, I became aware at an early age that energy is a resource and a commodity to be respected, and the same goes for water. Water conservation and energy efficiency are values I fully support. In my opinion, Canada must support those values as well.

I will read this very important motion. It contains concepts that are very important and must be underscored. The motion states:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should implement an energy efficiency program to encourage owners of houses, residential buildings, shops and businesses to reduce their energy consumption, with a view to: (a) combatting climate change; (b) lowering the energy bills of Canadians; and (c) creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

I think this is a very good motion. It contains three points, one of which is combatting climate change. This is quite timely, considering that there is a major climate change conference being held in New York City right now. The motion also touches on lowering energy bills.

I have the pleasure of representing LaSalle—Émard, which is southwest of Montreal. When I go door to door, I talk to people who own commercial and residential buildings and homes. They too are struggling to make ends meet because their energy bills continue to go up while incomes are stagnating.

An energy efficiency program would be most welcome. As some of my colleagues have mentioned, the eco-energy retrofit program was a big success. I do not understand the government's decision. Although some programs are quite successful, the government decided this one was no longer needed and put an end to it. The program was doing well and would have continued to do so.

I would like to remind hon. members that, when it comes to energy consumption, Canada has made some tentative steps forward, but the battle has yet not been won. In 2010, the residential sector was responsible for 16% of Canada's energy consumption and 14% of its greenhouse gas emissions. That is rather high for a sector that is not industrial and not related to transportation. The consumption rate is very high.

It appears as though Canada is in denial about its northern nature. We cannot seem to accept or take into account that we are a northern country. However, living in the northern hemisphere is a challenge, and with that comes a number of opportunities for Canada to become a leader in energy efficiency. As we know, energy consumption in northern countries is mainly related to heating. Obviously, in the summer, it is associated with the use of air conditioning. We want to create an environment where people are comfortable.

I do not understand why Canada does not want to show that it can be a leader in energy efficiency. Right now, Canada is one of the heaviest users of energy. Just because we produce energy, does not mean we should waste it. Instead, we should recognize that energy is a very important resource for our country and respect it. We should be creating value-added jobs in this area.

If we do research and development and develop energy efficiency technologies, we can export those innovations. Unfortunately, the government does not seem to recognize that way of doing things. However, some very worthwhile jobs could be created in this area. Canada already has companies that work in the area of energy efficiency, but unfortunately, they are barely getting by because the incentives are not big enough for these companies to thrive and grow from small to medium-sized businesses.

Reports from the different areas of the industry show that the least amount of research and development in Canada is done by the construction sector. If there were some sort of incentive, such as the program proposed by my colleague from Drummond—and I applaud and commend him for moving this motion—the federal government would be showing leadership in order to stimulate all economic sectors associated with what we call “green technologies” or “energy efficiency technologies”. This would create jobs and encourage the construction industry to do more research and development and use innovative materials worthy of the 21st century. The residential sector would then be able to do its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency.

Canada claims to be an energy superpower and so it should really show leadership when it comes to energy efficiency. That makes sense to me. We call ourselves an energy producer, yet we waste the energy produced instead of using energy savings to stimulate job creation and the economy.

I am not the only one saying this. In one of his reports, the former environment commissioner said that protecting the environment was good for business. The motion by my colleague from Drummond says the same thing. If we invest in energy efficiency and give the means to owners in a sector as large as the residential sector, which is growing, or even the commercial construction sector, we will get a very significant return on our investment.

I agree with him. I often say that protecting the environment does not run counter to responsible economic development. The construction industry is growing in tandem with demographic growth. Why not ensure that the residential sector can be more energy efficient?

Building projects are popping up all over, whether we are talking about the condo frenzy or construction projects that foster urban sprawl. I was fortunate to travel out west to Edmonton and Calgary, but I did not need to go very far because right in Montreal we have urban sprawl. We have to reconsider and ask ourselves if that is the best way to save energy. We should also examine whether these buildings, which go up in a hurry, meet energy efficiency criteria.

This motion is worthy of the 21st century. This motion shows leadership and aims at reducing greenhouse gases, fighting climate change and lowering energy bills so that we can invest in the jobs of today and the future.

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to thank all of my colleagues—Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats—who have spoken on this important debate on energy efficiency, the fight against climate change and the creation of good jobs for the future. I am truly pleased.

When I am asked why I am involved in politics, my first answer is, of course, that I got into politics for my children, for my future grandchildren and for future generations. This means that we need a vision. When we make decisions, we need to look ahead and not worry about making important decisions for the future.

I am, however, disappointed about a few things. I am very worried about the Conservatives' response to this motion on energy efficiency. From the first hour of debate, the Conservatives were saying that, for once, the NDP had a good idea. That is what I heard in the first part of the speech by the member for Yukon.

Unfortunately, in the second part of his speech, he said that the Conservatives had done their part and that there was nothing left to be done. There were no improvements left to be made to energy efficiency. According to him, everything is just fine. Everything has been done. We can pack it in because there is nothing left to improve.

This is especially disappointing, as leaders from around the world gather in New York on the eve of Climate Summit 2014. Ban Ki-moon will welcome all the world leaders who care about climate change. Barack Obama will also be there to welcome all the leaders who care about the future of our planet, except the Prime Minister of Canada. That is very disappointing.

I would also like to commend the member for Edmonton—Strathcona for the excellent work she has done in committee on the topic of energy efficiency and the environment. She has worked very hard to put forward her ideas, and I truly appreciate her work.

At the NDP's most recent caucus meeting in Edmonton, I met groups involved in the area of energy efficiency. They told me that it is clear that since the disappearance of the federal government's energy efficiency program, Alberta's energy efficiency market is on the decline. This proves that the program had its positives.

Furthermore, I did not just show up one morning with the idea of presenting an energy efficiency program in the House of Commons. On the contrary, I met with groups of people who care about the environment, from all over Canada.

In Drummondville, I met with representatives from energy efficiency companies, and I would like to mention two of them. First we have Venmar, which is known across North America. The company is based in Drummondville, which is a great source of pride for us. Then there is Aéroénergie, a company that is new and growing. There are other companies in this field that are based in Drummondville.

People are telling us that we need to meet with company representatives to convince them to introduce energy efficiency programs and tell them that they will see a return on their investment in 5 or 10 years. Not only is it an investment to encourage people and families to put their money into this area, it is also a way to create savings over a relatively short time.

We know that household debt is at an alarming level right now. Recent studies have again made that observation. We need to work to help families make ends meet. This will also allow us to create jobs for the future. Many of my colleagues have mentioned that we should focus on jobs in innovation and the green sector. We need to move in that direction. That is why the motion I moved is so broad. It does not tell the government what action to take. The government can proceed as it sees fit. I hope that it will work with the provinces, some of which have solid programs with municipalities or other groups.

I would like to add the following point about combatting climate change, and this is very important. This is a debate about tomorrow. Once again, officials at Environment Canada have said that the Conservatives will not meet their watered-down climate change targets.

We need an NDP government. We are a government in waiting.

We have a leader who is ready to make decisions. When we form government, we will have an energy efficiency program for the good of future generations.

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being noon, the time provided for debate has expired.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members



Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

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

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


Energy Efficiency ProgramPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion, the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, September 24, 2014, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Bill C-13—Protecting Canadians From Online Crime ActPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

September 22nd, 2014 / noon


Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order to ask you to select the amendment I submitted for debate and vote at report stage on Bill C-13, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. I understand that you will be giving a ruling on this after question period today, and I wanted to make sure that I made this submission before then, as this is a motion that was proposed and defeated in committee.

As stated in the note to Standing Order 76(5), the Speaker can select a motion that was defeated in committee to be debated at the report stage, “...if the Speaker judges it to be of such exceptional significance as to warrant a further consideration at the report stage”.

I would like to explain why this motion warrants consideration and why it is of such exceptional significance to members that it should be considered again. The motion is to amend clause 12 of Bill C-13 to add “gender identity” to the definition of “identifiable group” in subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code concerning hate crimes.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, the House previously decided on this issue during its consideration of Bill C-279, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity). Clause 3 of Bill C-279 replaces subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code and in doing so adds to the definition of “identifiable group” those members of the public distinguished by gender identity.

Clause 12 of Bill C-13 would replace that same subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code and would add to the current definition of “identifiable group”:

...any section of the public distinguished by national...origin, age, sex...or mental or physical disability.

However, clause 12 of Bill C-13 does not use the current definition in the Criminal Code, as amended by the House by Bill C-279, and therefore deletes a provision by omission. If the House adopts Bill C-13, we will not protect transgender Canadians from hate crimes, despite having already affirmed this principle in this same Parliament.

This one amendment to the Criminal Code makes up half the substantive content of Bill C-279, my private member's bill, which passed third reading in this House on March 20, 2013. The members of this House will recall that it was passed by a majority of members in a vote of 149 to 137 with support from all parties. Again, a change to the Criminal Code proposed in Bill C-279 is a short and specific proposal to offer protection from hate crimes to transgender Canadians. In all likelihood, the 149 MPs who supported Bill C-279 at third reading would also support the motion I proposed in committee had they had the opportunity, since this motion is identical in content to that proposed in Bill C-279.

With Bill C-13, as it will be reported back to the House later today, the government would be, in effect, attempting to override this part of Bill C-279, which was passed by a majority of MPs in the House of Commons.

I believe that the note to Standing Order 76(5) was written specifically for situations like this one. This is an exceptional case in which a motion defeated in committee because of five government MPs would most certainly be supported by at least 149 MPs if it were moved in the House, and it would therefore pass. If the vote were held in the House of Commons rather than in committee, the outcome would be completely different. You can therefore be assured, Mr. Speaker, that this motion is not of a repetitive, frivolous, or vexatious nature or of a nature that would merely prolong unnecessary proceedings at the report stage. This would not be a repeat of the committee stage, since the outcome of the vote would likely be very different from what it was in committee. Some MPs would certainly oppose the motion, but it seems obvious to me that a majority of MPs would once again vote to provide protection from hate crimes to transgender Canadians.

There are several precedents where the Speaker referred to the note to Standing Order 76(5) to identify a motion as being of exceptional significance to the House as justification for selecting it for debate at the report stage, even though it had been proposed and defeated in committee. Mr. Speaker, let me remind you of those precedents.

One involves Motions Nos. 3 and 4 at the report stage of Bill C-23, an act to modernize the statutes of Canada in relation to benefits and obligations. On April 3, 2000, the chair occupant said to the House:

Motion No. 3 in the name of the member for Burnaby—Douglas is identical to the text of a subamendment moved in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights during a meeting on March 23, 2000 and defeated in a recorded division. Motion No. 4 in the name of the member for Elk Island is similar to another motion moved in that committee. Under normal circumstances such motions would not be selected for consideration at report stage. I have looked carefully at the two motions and after appropriate consideration, I am convinced that they do fulfill the requirements to be selected in that they have such exceptional significance as to warrant a further consideration at report stage.

Another example took place on February 18, 2002, at the report stage for Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada. Speaker Milliken stated as follows:

...there are motions similar to those that were rejected by the committee. Usually, such motions are not selected, because they would generate discussions that have already taken place in committee. However, the note in the Standing Orders allows the Speaker to select these motions if he deems that they are of such importance that they deserve to be examined again at report stage. I believe that these motions respect that criterion and therefore they will be selected for the debate.

Lastly, I would like to refer to the precedent established on June 10, 2005, at the report stage for Bill C-43, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005. Again, Speaker Milliken had originally rejected Motions Nos. 5 and 6 at the bill's report stage. After hearing a point of order raised by the chief opposition whip, he reversed his ruling and selected the motions for debate at the report stage. In response to a question from a government MP who disagreed with him, the Speaker said:

Motion No. 1 to amend clause 9 to put back in words that were deleted in the committee was allowed. I understand they are the same words. I allowed those to be debated because, as I say, the minister made submissions that indicated he thought this was a matter of public importance. I am prepared to make the same arrangement with respect to Motions Nos. 5 and 6 and I have so ruled.

Mr. Speaker, my request is even more significant, if we consider the precedent that would be set if this motion is not selected for debate. The House previously decided on the issue of gender identity when a majority of MPs chose to include provisions in the Criminal Code that would protect transgender Canadians. Without the amendment I have proposed, Bill C-13 would do exactly the opposite. It would reverse a decision reached democratically in the House following several hours of debate and a recorded division.

It is also worth noting that the 149 MPs who supported Bill C-279 included many government MPs. The five Conservative MPs who opposed this amendment to Bill C-13 in committee were not representative of all their colleagues. By allowing the government to rewrite subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code to eliminate the changes made by Bill C-279, we are going against the wishes of the majority of MPs in the House who supported that bill. What this means is that if a majority government does not support a piece of private member's business, which is the case for Bill C-279, it can introduce a government bill reversing the provisions of the private member's bill. All the government has to do is ensure that the members who sit on the committee during the clause-by-clause study of the government bill are among those who opposed the private member's bill in question. I believe this creates a dangerous precedent for private members' business.

This amendment is of significant importance for MPs and for public safety, as demonstrated when Bill C-279 was debated in the Commons and was considered by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The amendment should be selected for debate at the report stage so that all MPs may decide on this issue. This is not a matter that can be resolved by a mere handful of government MPs on a committee of the House. It deserves to be considered again in the full House of Commons.

Given that this motion is of exceptional significance to the debate at report stage, and in view of the precedents available to the House, I respectfully request that you select it for consideration at the report stage of Bill C-13 and that you allow the members of this House to vote on it separately as a stand-alone motion and one not tied to any of the other votes at report stage proceedings.

Bill C-13—Protecting Canadians From Online Crime ActPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I believe the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board is rising on the same point of order.

Bill C-13—Protecting Canadians From Online Crime ActPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.


Dan Albas ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the government certainly wants to contribute to this particular issue and will be coming forth in a timely manner to represent its arguments in this case.

Bill C-13—Protecting Canadians From Online Crime ActPoints of OrderPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The Chair thanks the hon. members for raising the point of order and assures them that it will be dealt with in due course and reminds them, particularly on the government side, that this may be coming forward quite soon and to proceed on that basis.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

There are 52 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-36. Motions Nos. 1 to 52 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

I will now put Motions Nos. 1 to 52 to the House.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC


Motion No. 1

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting the long title.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting the preamble.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 12.

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 13.

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 14.

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 15.

Motion No. 18

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 16.

Motion No. 19

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 17.

Motion No. 20

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 18.

Motion No. 21

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 19.

Motion No. 22

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 20.

Motion No. 23

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 24

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 22.

Motion No. 25

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 23.

Motion No. 26

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 24.

Motion No. 27

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 25.

Motion No. 28

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 26.

Motion No. 29

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 27.

Motion No. 30

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 28.

Motion No. 31

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 29.

Motion No. 32

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 30.

Motion No. 33

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 31.

Motion No. 34

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 32.

Motion No. 35

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 33.

Motion No. 36

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 34.

Motion No. 37

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 35.

Motion No. 38

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 36.

Motion No. 39

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 37.

Motion No. 40

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 38.

Motion No. 41

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 39.

Motion No. 42

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 40.

Motion No. 43

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 41.

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 42.

Motion No. 45

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 43.

Motion No. 46

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 44.

Motion No. 47

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 45.

Motion No. 48

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 45.1.

Motion No. 49

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 46.

Motion No. 50

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 47.

Motion No. 51

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 48.

Motion No. 52

That Bill C-36 be amended by deleting Clause 49.

Mr. Speaker, it is rare, and members of the House will know it, standing as the leader of the Green Party of Canada and member of Parliament for Saanich—Gulf Islands, that I have not availed myself of the opportunity to present amendments at committee stage under new rules that were adopted last fall. I have objected to the opportunity because it has not amounted to a real chance to amend legislation.

Nevertheless, on bills that I find disturbing, I have gone to every committee with amendments of a substantive nature. In the case of Bill C-36, I found I could not find a way to amend the bill in a way that would actually fix it. That is why, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that you have now read out attempts to delete the entire bill based on it being unfixable.

How do we find ourselves here? As we all know, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Bedford decision that our existing laws relating to prostitution were unconstitutional as they violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an important sentence that constitutes a fundamental principle for all Canadians: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

In the Bedford case, the Supreme Court determined that Canadian laws and the Criminal Code are inconsistent with this section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with respect to sex workers who are threatened by current Canadian laws.

With the Supreme Court saying that our laws relating to prostitution did not adequately protect the rights of security of the person for people who found themselves in this very marginalized and difficult place in their lives and that they were even more marginalized, even more stigmatized and driven into the shadows by the status of laws over prostitution in Canada, it was up to us, as Parliament, to come up with an approach that would respect, would protect and would ensure that people in the sex trade industry were not driven into the shadows.

After Bedford, I thought we would see a response from Parliament, a response from the Minister of Justice, that took into account the message from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ironically, earlier this morning, I attended an international symposium on the subject of gender violence and health. The symposium is taking place a few blocks from here, at the Novotel, on Nicholas Street. Researchers from across Canada are presenting research on this topic, with people from around the world. It is a collaborative social science project in Canada on gender violence and health. It was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

I was able to stay long enough, before coming here to debate Bill C-36, to hear the preliminary findings of that work being done across Canada. I was pleased to see that members from my own part of the world, from University of Victoria and from the city of Victoria Police Department had all participated in this work.

Their area of research was restricted to people in the sex trade industry who were over 19 and who were not part of the quite horrific trafficking in people who did not have rights. I want to make it really clear that in the Green Party's stance against Bill C-36, we believe the full measure of the law should be used to crack down on anyone who is exploiting minors and people in sex trafficking. We believe laws in that area must be strengthened and that the laws are adequate, even as they now stand, to differentiate the situations between prostitution, in general, and this group of exploited workers under 19 who are trafficked internationally and lack the rights they should have under the law.

Research has been done that is being reported on just today, as I mentioned. It was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It was collaborative work done in six different cities across Canada by some of our best social science researchers, who examined the lives of sex trade workers who were not under the age of 19 or involved in human trafficking.

What the institute found as a foundational piece of information in early research is intuitive and is what the Supreme Court of Canada understood. It is that any laws that are punitive in nature, anything that in our social context that would further stigmatize sex trade work, means that the people conducting themselves in that work are more vulnerable and are less able to access the supports and protections found in our society.

The Supreme Court of Canada decision made it clear what Parliament needed to do: Parliament needed to find a way to ensure that people in the sex trade industry were not driven into the shadows and were not further stigmatized.

This is a tragedy, because we are talking about people's lives. We are not just talking about slogans for election campaigns or going for some sort of core vote from Conservative Party supporters. This issue transcends partisanship. This is about Parliament being asked by the Supreme Court of Canada to ensure that section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is respected when we bring forth laws that deal with prostitution.

On that fundamental requirement for our laws, Bill C-36 stands as a singular failure. It would absolutely not make the life of sex trade workers more secure. It goes in the wrong direction. As numerous legal commentators have noted, this law would make the sex trade more dangerous.

Just to give a sense of why that is, I would like to quote comments made by the Minister of Justice at a press conference on the day that Bill C-36 was tabled back in June. I am going to quote from an exchange that he had with a reporter.

The Minister of Justice said:

Some prostitutes we know are younger than 18 years of age. If they are in the presence of one another at 3:00 in the morning and are selling sexual services, they would be subject to arrest.

A reporter then asked:

That would still be considered a criminal offence?

The response from the Minister of Justice was:

That’s correct. They’re selling it in the presence of a minor.

The reporter said:

Okay, so if two 17-year-old prostitutes are standing side by side in the middle of the night in what is considered a public place, they will be committing an offence.

The response by the Minister of Justice:

And selling sex, yes.

A reporter said:

That’s effectively making them stay on their own and endangering furthering their own security.

The Minister of Justice:

Not at all. We’re not making them do anything. We’re not forcing them to sell sex.

That is a response in the absence of reality. If we are to take the Supreme Court's decision in the Bedford case seriously, then we should do everything possible to allow people in the sex trade industry to be with each other, to be near each other, to be protecting each other. There is a distinction between being on the street and indoor sex work. Anything that drives people in the sex trade industry onto the street and into the shadows is going to make their lives more dangerous.

This goes to the next piece of Bill C-36, which is likely unconstitutional: banning advertisement for sexual services and banning communicating for the purchasing of sex in particular.

Bill C-36 states that all of it would be illegal unless the sex trade workers are communicating directly. In other words, publishing their ads would be illegal. This again would force a prostitute to lose the intermediary. It would force the sex trade worker to lose the possibility of some form of screening, some way of ensuring they are not face-to-face in the shadows negotiating their situation. It would make their lives much more dangerous.

The decision in Bedford gave us guidance on this issue. The court said in Bedford:

By prohibiting communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution, the law prevents prostitutes from screening clients and setting terms for the use of condoms or safe houses. In these ways, it significantly increases the risks they face.

Bill C-36 is written as though the Supreme Court of Canada has given us no guidance, as though we are blundering around not imagining the narrowness of the ways in which communicating or advertising would remain legal in Canada.

It is as though the Bedford decision gave us no guidance, because what they have come up with is aimed at a new offence of advertising sexual services and is undoubtedly going to make life more dangerous for sex trade workers.

I could go on and on, but I know my time is at an end.

I just want to say that this law will only make the lives of hundreds of sex workers more difficult and more dangerous.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale Ontario


Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, the member went on at some length to talk about specific provisions in the bill what would restrict prostitutes from communicating in a public place for the purpose of prostitution. Apparently she does not know that there was an amendment proposed and passed at the House justice committee on that very point that would restrict the communication in a public place provision to the schoolyard, the playground, and the daycare centre. I wonder if she could tell the House if she thinks it is a good idea that prostitutes be allowed, and perhaps encouraged, to communicate for the purposes of prostitution in those three places?