House of Commons Hansard #175 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was csis.


Natural ResourcesRoutine Proceedings

5:40 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Langley brings up a slightly different issue in respect of the procedures regarding points of order.

Indeed, normally when a point of order is made, in this case initially by the hon. member for Malpeque—and I will get to the other point momentarily—he is right in the sense that each is given the opportunity to briefly comment on what they see was a breach of procedure. This is what we have been doing.

We are now going to come back to the hon. Chief Government Whip to see where we are.

Natural ResourcesRoutine Proceedings

5:40 p.m.


John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think most people know I am a man of few words. I did make a ministerial statement. I had to introduce it as a point of order because I interrupted some business and I took the opportunity not to interrupt somebody midstream. I took approximately one minute of the House's time and now the other points that have been made have taken many more minutes of the House's time. My statement was completely in keeping with the rules and normal procedures of the House.

Natural ResourcesRoutine Proceedings

5:40 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank hon. members and the chief government whip for their interventions on this question.

Members will know that ministers of the Crown may interrupt on a point of order to table documents at any given time. They have that privilege. I saw this as what the Chief Government Whip was doing. He used a few moments to explain the context of the tabling, and this is quite commonplace when ministers give the context for posing the documents to the House.

We are really at a point where all members have been heard on this question. I do not see the practice in this case being out of order.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

5:40 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The member for Malpeque in response to the question from the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

5:40 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. There are certain areas, and I cannot think of the section, in the original Combating Terrorism Act extended in 2007, that have not been utilized. One should note that some of the current arrests were made under the old legislation.

Be that as it may, the point she has raised comes back to my original point. What is really needed is a lot of oversight, and we have expressed this at committee. Questions can be raised of the national security agencies. Why are they not using current laws? Is there a reason? Is there a problem on the prosecution side? Is the law not strenuous enough? Is the threshold too high?

It comes back to the whole substance around my remarks in which we would put members of both Houses on an oversight committee with expertise in the field, who could see classified information, who could ask the hard questions on a day-to-day basis of those security agencies to ensure that they were using the laws available, that they were doing their job and that they were not overextending their powers and getting into civil liberties and undermining our freedoms and values.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

5:45 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we go to resuming debate and the hon. Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, I will let him know that there are approximately 13 minutes remaining in the time allowed for government orders this afternoon, so he will not have his full 20 minutes in this case. He can judge himself accordingly in that regard. Whatever time he does not use here today will remain when the House next resumes debate on the question.

The Hon. parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and La Francophonie.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario


Bernard Trottier ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for La Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to debate Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act, 2015. This is obviously an important bill in this time of troubles around the world and in Canada.

The legislation before us today is comprised of five elements relating to national security. I will limit my comments to the proposed amendments to Division 9 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, or IRPA. Those amendments are in part 5 of the bill. I am also going to comment on other important aspects of the bill that define some of the threat disruption activities in which CSIS can engage. That is contained in part 4 of the bill.

Since we took office, our Conservative government has made the safety of Canadians a special priority.

Since being elected in 2006, we have spent a lot of effort as a government in putting a focus on keeping Canadians safe. Specifically, we have taken strong action to crack down on terrorist, both at home and abroad.

It is clear that the international jihadist movement is one dimension of terrorist threats that we face, and that movement has declared war on Canada and her allies, that is western liberal democracies. That is why we have taken strong action under the leadership of our Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and put forward this legislation.

We have made it a criminal offence to go overseas to engage in terrorist activities. We have created provisions to strip citizenship from those convicted of terrorist offences. We have created mechanisms for individuals to sue state sponsors of terrorism, like Iran. We have also declared war on the barbaric caliphate, or the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

We are doing even more today, denying access to Canadian territory to non-citizens who pose a threat to national security and maintaining the safety of Canadians among the objectives set forth in IRPA.

Generally, determining the admissibility to Canada of non-citizens is made by immigration officers, or members of the Immigration and Refugee Board, using information that can be made public.

Some non-citizens are found inadmissible on the basis of serious grounds, such as national security, human or international rights violations, and serious or organized criminality. In such cases it is sometimes necessary to rely on classified information to support a finding of inadmissibility.

The Division 9 of IRPA establishes a mechanism to allow the government to use and protect classified information in those immigration proceedings by allowing part of the proceedings to be held in a closed setting.

Under IRPA, classified information includes security or criminal intelligence information and information obtained in confidence from a source in Canada or from a foreign government that is protected from public disclosure if its release would be injurious to national security or the safety of any person.

Also, Division 9 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act includes three mechanisms that allow the use and protection of classified information during proceedings. Section 77 provides the authority as it relates to security certificates before the federal court. Section 86 provides authority as it relates to applications for non-disclosure before the Immigration and Refugee Board. Finally, section 87 provides the authority as it relates to applications for non-disclosure in the context of judicial reviews before the Federal Court.

Closed portions of the proceedings are not open to either non-citizens or their lawyers, and the public may not participate in order to protect the classified information. During the closed portions of these proceedings, a judge appointed special advocate, who is non-governmental and security cleared, represents the interest of the non-citizen.

Special advocates are empowered to cross-examine and make submissions to the court. They are empowered to challenge the government's claim that the disclosure of information would be injurious to national security or would endanger the safety of any person and, with the permission of a judge, exercise any other powers necessary to protect the interests of the non-citizen.

Division 9 cases also include open, public proceedings in which the non-citizen and his or her lawyer can participate. In this open part of the proceedings, a summary of the classified information is produced to allow the non-citizen to be reasonably informed of the allegations against him or her.

In some instances, Division 9 cases have involved a significant amount of classified information, some of which was not useful to the government to prove its inadmissibility allegations or to the non-citizens to be reasonably informed of the case against them. Hence, the anti-terrorism act of 2015 includes measures to clarify the classified information that would form the security certificate cases before the Federal Court and cases involving applications for non-disclosure before the Immigration and Refugee Board.

This information includes the following: it has to be relevant to the case; it has to be information on which the case is based; and it would allow the person to be reasonably informed of the case against him or her. In other words, the government would file only information and other evidence that it relies upon to make its case, and provide relevant information that is useful to the non-citizen.

Another important step we are taking in this legislation involves the appeal and judicial review of an order to publicly disclose classified information. Currently, an appeal or judicial review of a disclosure order may be available only at the end of a proceeding. Even if the government successfully seeks to have a disclosure order overturned at the end of the proceeding, it may be too late as the injury to national security may already have occurred or a person's safety may have already been endangered. While the government could seek to withdraw this information from the case to mitigate the risk of injury, this might not always be possible or doing so could dramatically weaken the case. Bill C-51 therefore seeks to allow the government to appeal or have the court review orders for public disclosure during Division 9 proceedings rather than at the end.

Let us be clear. The proposed amendments to IRPA would facilitate and reinforce Division 9 proceedings. The Division 9 regime, while exceptional, provides for a fair and constitutional process. In fact, in 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutionality of Division 9 when it found the statutory framework to be consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When considering whether the government can protect information in a given case, the judge must ensure that it does not impede a fair process and that the non-citizen is reasonably informed of the case against him or her. To make this decision, the judge has the discretion to ask special advocates for submissions and to communicate with special advocates to allow them to make these submissions. When taken together, these new provisions would preserve the discretion of the judge to ensure fairness.

Ultimately, the objective of the process is the removal from Canada of non-citizens who are inadmissible on the most serious grounds and who may pose a serious threat to Canada and Canadians. Overall, these amendments would ensure that Division 9 proceedings continue to be fair, while offering more robust protections for classified information.

Our government takes the obligation to protect public safety very seriously. We are also determined to respect the rights of individuals under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to meet our international human rights obligations.

Now I want to talk about some of the threat-disruption activities in which CSIS could engage because of changes being proposed in this bill. I will just give one example.

A young Canadian activist becomes disenchanted with Canada, and he has reviewed some YouTube videos, for example, and has listened to some influential people in his community. Individuals within his local place of worship have advised CSIS that he is planning to travel overseas to engage in terrorist activities.

Currently, in this scenario, without this piece of legislation, CSIS can investigate but cannot do anything to stop the individual from travelling. The furthest CSIS can go is to advise the RCMP that it believes the person is about to commit an offence and the RCMP could launch its own investigation, which could take several days. Under the anti-terrorism act of 2015, CSIS could actually engage with a trusted friend or relative to speak with this individual to advise against travelling for terrorist purposes. Further, CSIS officials could meet with the individual to advise him that they know what he is planning to do and what the consequences of taking further action would be. Members can see how this could lead to preventing terrorist activities and why it is important to have that.

Here is another example before I wrap up my remarks. Let us say that CSIS learns through its intelligence activities that a planned shipment of chemicals may be used in a terrorist attack on a Canadian business operating in a foreign country. The exact timing is vague or unknown. Currently, CSIS can share this information with the foreign government and other foreign partners, and a travel alert could potentially be issued by foreign affairs. That is all it could do.

With the anti-terrorism act, 2015, CSIS could actually engage in a joint operation with a foreign partner to disrupt the shipment. For example, the shipment could be rerouted so that it is not delivered into the hands of terrorists.

I will give a third example. A Canadian ally warns CSIS that foreign spies are planning to meet with a Canadian avionics firm. CSIS investigates and determines that the spies are posing as businessmen in order to purchase telemetry equipment. This dual-use technology is a civilian application in flight test programs but is also used in ballistic missile targeting. Under the current laws, as part of its investigations, CSIS can interview officials from the Canadian company to gather information and ask the CBSA to check the parts' paperwork at the time of export to determine if there are customs violations. That is all it can do.

With Bill C-51 enacted, CSIS could seek and receive a warrant to intercept the equipment and alter it so that it would not have any suitability for non-civilian applications.

These measures could save lives. These measures could disrupt terrorist organizations from terrorizing innocent populations. That is why they are very important.

I will wrap up. I have heard some exaggerations on the part of the opposition and some fabrications about what is in this bill. Canadians understand the importance of security and countering terrorist threats at home and abroad. That is why, if we talk to Canadians about what it is actually in the bill, the reasonable measures within it that put our security agency, CSIS, on par with what other security agencies do around the world, they support it. They understand the importance of these measures and the importance of giving them some additional powers that still respect the rights and freedoms we have in this country.

As the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and many of my colleagues have said, and as I have told people in my constituency of Etobicoke—Lakeshore, there is no liberty without security. Security is fundamental to our freedoms, and that is why it is important that we have strong security measures in this country.

I call on the opposition parties and members throughout the House to support this important piece of legislation.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015Government Orders

5:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. parliamentary secretary will have seven minutes remaining for his remarks when the House next returns to debate on the question.

It being 6 p.m., the House will proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

moved that Bill C-619, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to begin debate on Bill C-619, the climate change accountability act.

It is always a privilege to be here in this place, but sometimes what we have to do makes that sense much more present and inescapable. This is how it feels to me today as we begin debate on Bill C-619, because in truth we are continuing on what Jack started, the climate change accountability act. We are picking up again where Jack left off and building on his efforts to have us avert dangerous levels of global warming.

As I am sure Jack would happily acknowledge, and indeed did happily acknowledge, he too was just a torchbearer when he introduced the former and original iteration of the climate change accountability act in 2007.

Homage needs to be paid to a long lineage of Canadians who have persisted in the fight to arrest global warning. They had the foresight to know its urgency before most of us could even label it as an issue and have clung to a positive picture of our future on this planet, the possibility of living sustainably on this planet. They have hung in there not just in the face of inaction of government but in the face of the hostility of government and threats by government, most recently in the form of Bill C-51.

To paraphrase David Suzuki from some years ago, others have done their part. The scientists have done their part. The burden now shifts to the politicians to do ours.

To quote Jack Layton from his speech in this place in 2007 on his climate change accountability act, he said: “Let us take action on that burden and let us do Canadians proud by taking action”. I believe that even more than when Jack spoke those words, Canadians do want us to take action.

The science has being laid out before us many times over, most recently and most comprehensively in the 2014 working group report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The findings are simple and conclusive: climate change is impacting natural and human systems on all continents and across all oceans. Glaciers continue to shrink. Permafrost continues to warm and thaw. The IPCC warns of sea levels rising by as much as half a metre by the end of the century, putting at risk tens of millions of people living in lower-level coastal cities and communities.

The IPCC warns of the changing chemistry of our oceans, of their acidification by way of increased levels of carbon, with impacts on marine ecosystems and dire consequences for global food security, as over one billion people globally rely on fish as their main source of protein.

Around the world, changing precipitation or melting snow and ice is altering water systems. It is affecting water in terms of quantity and quality. For every degree of global warming, the IPCC estimates a corresponding decrease in renewable water resources of at least 20% for significant portions of the global population.

This, in addition to extreme weather events and population growth, will have further negative impacts on food security. We are not immune here in Canada from issues of crop failure and agricultural productivity decline, according to the IPCC.

This is the path we are on. Perversely, these are the threats to our peace, to our security, to our happiness, to the reproduction of human life and other forms of life on this planet that we are creating for ourselves.

Along this path we keep passing warning signs. Jack held up a sign, the climate change accountability act, seven years ago. It urged us to stop and provided a different way forward. It pointed to a different future. Jack, in his speech in 2007 on his version of the bill, talked about there being, “...a moment in time here that is unique in Canadian history when action can be taken”.

Some might argue that that moment was lost on us as Jack's bill got caught up in the partisan machinery and machinations of this place and as the IPCC begins prudently to model global warming beyond the two-degree mark.

However, I am hopeful that the moment that Jack identified still lingers and that we can act with haste, and with more Canadians more certain now that perhaps we must act with haste.

Bill C-619 revises that which Jack had previously tabled, recognizing changes in the institutional context—specifically, the death of the national round table at the hands of the Conservative government—and recognizing that sub-national jurisdictions and international organizations have moved forward while this place stood still, leaving Canada open to international criticism and undermining the reputation of not just Canada but of us, of all of us as Canadians, as people always prepared to do our fair share.

Bill C-619 sets out new milestones to get us to a level of greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, which is the target recognized by the scientific community as the minimum required to limit global warming to 2° Celsius and to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The bill, the only legislation in this Parliament to ever bring forward legislated emission reduction targets, would set a binding medium-term target of a 34% reduction in GHG emissions by 2025.

Bill C-619 would further require the Government of Canada to set and commit to targets for each five-year period up to 2050; to develop and publish plans to achieve these targets; to ensure that these targets are developed in compliance with the latest scientific reports and methodology of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and to ensure that these targets closely reflect the most stringent targets set by other developed nations, effectively setting the best practices in OECD countries as our own benchmark here in Canada

With the United Nations climate change conference in Paris set for December 2015, Canada needs a serious plan to bring to that table, and this is it. This bill would bring our country back to the forefront of environmental protection and climate change mitigation, because the targets set out in Bill C-619 and the accountability process set out to support them do nothing less than commit Canada to doing its fair share to avert catastrophic global warming.

However, the climate change accountability act is not here before us just because of the moral imperative to do something to change the course we are on, but also and equally because of the opportunity it presents to us. Holding firm to these targets brings forward the opportunity to invent and invest in new ways to live and be productive on this planet.

Clearly, as an example, in light of the growing food security issues created by and hastened by climate change, there is a need to usher in transformative change in what food we grow and the way we grow it. Clearly, too, there is an opportunity to usher in transformative change in how we produce energy. According to Clean Energy Canada, a global commitment to getting to 80% below 1990 levels requires a $44 trillion investment in clean energy.

There is a nascent clean energy industry in Canada, with 37% job growth between 2009 and 2013. More Canadians are employed in renewable energy production in Canada than in the oil sands, yet we in Canada have captured just 1% of the $1 trillion global clean energy industry. We are being left out and left behind.

It is notable that the China-U.S. climate change pact signed last November was not just about climate change; it was also about clean energy co-operation. We have in Canada what we need to participate more fully in this industry. As the Pembina Institute put it:

Canada is well positioned to compete in the field of clean energy technology, creating jobs and economic prosperity across the country. It was recently noted that “Canada’s skilled workforce, innovation clusters, research excellence and stable investment climate make it an ideal growth environment for cleantech firms.

However, the current government greets this opportunity with, as the director of Clean Energy Canada put it, “indifference”.

While other national and sub-national governments here in Canada make the clean energy industry a priority, the federal government continues to raise the stakes for all of us on the fossil fuel economy, putting billions of dollars of public funds into subsidies for the oil and gas industry, tearing to the ground environmental regulation in a desperate effort to get Canada's oil out of Canada by whatever means possible without regard to environmental risk or social license. There are beads of sweat rolling down the collective forehead of Canadians watching this desperate gamble, watching the economic stability and the economic prospects of this country at stake in the government's desperate gamble on fossil fuels, on a brittle, unstable carbon economy.

This bill is a response to parents worried about their kids' future. It is a response, too, to young people looking for a future. There is opportunity embedded in this bill on climate change, and Canadians are looking for such opportunity after successive failures by Liberal and Conservative governments to deal with climate change and chart a course into and through this century.

As the urban affairs critic and infrastructure critic for our NDP caucus, I want to close with a word about cities, about the possibilities for our cities that flow from this bill and, as Jack put it, about the moment we are in.

All around the world it is recognized that in cities lie our best opportunity for averting global warming. Cities are responsible for the end-use of three-quarters of our fossil fuels and, consequently, a commensurate amount of our greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking out from here, the story could get worse as the global and historic trend toward urbanization will continue through this century. However, looking out from here, one can also begin to imagine a different way of living on this planet and our potential to defeat this problem.

China and the U.S. have recognized that. Their climate change and clean energy pact includes a climate-smart/low-carbon cities initiative. The joint announcement of the pact says:

Under the initiative, the two countries will share city-level experiences with planning, policies, and use of technologies for sustainable, resilient, low-carbon growth. This initiative will eventually include demonstrations of new technologies for smart infrastructure for urbanization. As a first step, the United States and China will convene a Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities “Summit” where leading cities from both countries will share best practices, set new goals, and celebrate city-level leadership.

We ought to be in on that. Bill C-619 opens up these great possibilities for us and our cities, because as China and the U.S. recognize, meeting the targets that we set, the ones that we need to reach, means rethinking how we live, what we live in, and how we move around our cities. It means cities friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. It means rapid public transit and energy efficient buildings. It means trees and green. It means that vision I have set out in my urban white paper, and yet even more, including things we have yet to invent, yet to conceive. However, cities around the world and here in Canada are moving to this future without the federal government. They are innovating.

In those cities, we have a generation of young Canadians who are eager to get engaged in building the kinds of cities, communities, and neighbourhoods they want to live in. We have, in this climate change accountability act, the opportunity to open up the door and move through it into an exciting sustainable future. The door is ours, as politicians, to throw open with this bill.

The only truly important questions to be answered are still about us, not about the science or the math. They are about whether we are capable of seizing this moment, of seeing beyond ourselves at this time, in this place. To fail to do so would be a failing beyond us as politicians and our political system, a failing more fundamental.

As I said when I introduced this bill last June, all of us are entrusted with the care of the earth we inhabit and the well-being of those who inhabit it. We now need to act upon that responsibility. I urge all members of Parliament to support this bill.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario


Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am really glad that my colleague mentioned pedestrians and cyclists, but he might as well have mentioned canoeists as well.

By our estimates, to implement this bill today we would literally have to shut down the entire oil and gas sector, we would have to bring to a stop all transportation in this country, and we would have to end all electricity generation that produces emissions. Furthermore, we would not just have to do one of these three things, we would have to do all three.

Can the member tell us who he consulted prior to adopting his targets and tabling his bill in the House? Did he consult with the governments of the provinces and the territories? What about industries? I come from Oshawa where there is manufacturing industry. Did the member consult any industry out there? Were they supportive? Was anyone supportive of the targets laid out in this bill?

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my speech, Canadians are supportive of the targets in the bill, because the targets mean the aversion from dangerous levels of climate change that has been set out over and over again by the scientists. The government ought to listen to the fact that it is not time to act now for the scientists or the mathematicians. They have done their job and provided us with the irrefutable science, and it is now time for us to act on that for our future, for the future of our children.

It is most disappointing, but not surprising, to see the government talk about all the negativity that flows from our efforts to deal with and avert dangerous climate change. Conservatives ought to read the Stern report on the economic opportunities available to us. They ought to read the Clean Energy Canada report about all the economic opportunities that are open to us as we address this issue.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, our party will be supporting this. I thought the member's speech was thoughtful and quite reflective of the reality we are facing as a species, so to speak.

Unfortunately, the parliamentary secretary gave a demonstration of why we have made no progress in the last nine years, with rather juvenile questions about what we are actually facing as a nation.

I notice in the various provisions of the bill that there is no reference to carbon tax. The member knows, as do I, that his party and my party get continually criticized by the government for putting a tax on everything, and other nonsense that continues to be perpetrated. I wonder whether the omission of a carbon tax in the member's legislation was intentional.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his support for the bill. It will be no surprise to members in the House that the NDP believes that the primary mechanism to address climate change and carbon pricing is by way of a cap and trade system, and there is specific reference to that in the bill.

We have not raised this to an ideology. The bill is open to many other measures, and the language of the bill provides for other mechanisms and measures. In fact, one of the significant amendments and reasons for amendment of the bill from that which was originally tabled by Jack Layton in 2007 is precisely because subnational governments in this country have moved ahead with a variety of ways and measures of addressing carbon pricing.

Forming government, it would be our intention with an act like this to work with those subnational governments and find ways of pricing carbon and addressing global warming in a way that is constructive and helpful and acknowledges efforts that have been made by provinces across this country to date.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

February 19th, 2015 / 6:20 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario


Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak today to Bill C-619, the Climate Change Accountability Act.

I would like to begin by saying that the government does not support Bill C-619 for a number of reasons. The main reason is that the bill would require Canada to adopt unrealistic climate change targets. These targets could not be met without having a significant impact on the competitiveness of Canadian businesses. They would impose a heavy burden on taxpayers and would have a major negative impact on the economy as a whole.

If the targets set out in this bill were to be adopted, they would impose on Canada a disproportionate burden for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as compared to that imposed on the United States and our other trade partners. We are already taking a realistic, comprehensive approach to dealing with climate change at the national and international levels, and that approach is getting results for Canadians.

This bill would create an obligation on the federal government to ensure that Canadian greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 34% below 1990 levels by 2025, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. If converted from the 1990 baseline used in the bill to a 2005 baseline used by Canada, this target would be equivalent to a 47% reduction from 2005 levels by 2025.

This is simply an unrealistic target. Indeed, it translates to a target that is 20 percentage points more than the recently announced U.S. targets of 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Adopting such a target would leave us with a far greater emissions reduction burden than our largest trading partner and, potentially, other key peer countries, and lead to negative economic impacts on Canadian industries, firms, and individual Canadians.

I would be very interested to know from the bill's sponsor how he proposes to achieve these reduction targets. Perhaps the members opposite will mention some new unheard-of technology that will allow us to meet these goals.

Looking at this another way, perhaps the hon. member is planning to meet these targets by slashing emissions in sectors that provide jobs and economic benefits for Canadians. In this case, achieving the reductions contemplated in this bill would mean eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from all transportation sources and all oil and gas sector activities combined by 2025. This is simply not realistic.

On the basis of these concerns and the fact that our government already has a comprehensive climate change agenda in place that is generating results for Canadians, our government does not support Bill C-619 and will instead continue to take decisive action on the environment while protecting our economy. Domestically, our government is pursuing a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. This approach makes it possible to tailor regulations according to individual sector circumstances, and to integrate environmental and economic considerations.

Regulations are designed to achieve emissions reductions, provide regulatory certainty, and leverage capital stock turnover to avoid locking in long-term high-emitting infrastructure. This approach allows Canada to maximize progress on reducing emissions while maintaining economic competitiveness. Our government has introduced regulations for two of the largest emitting sectors of the Canadian economy, the transportation and the electricity sectors.

As a result of regulations introduced for the transportation sector, for example, the 2025 model-year passenger vehicles and light trucks will emit about half as many greenhouse gas emissions as 2008 models, and greenhouse emission from 2018 model-year heavy-duty vehicles will be reduced by up to 23%.

In the electricity sector, our government has introduced stringent coal-fired electricity standards, making Canada the first major coal user to ban construction of traditional coal-fired electricity-generating units.

In the first 21 years, these regulations are expected to result in a cumulative reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing roughly 2.6 million personal vehicles from the road per year. This is an example where we consulted with stakeholders, unlike the NDP proposals, which would cripple our economy.

Building on this action, our government also recently announced the next steps for the development of regulation for hydrofluorocarbons, which is the fastest-growing set of greenhouse gases in the world. In fact, this group of gases can be thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.

To complement these regulatory efforts, since 2006, our government has made investments of over $10 billion to transition Canada toward a clean energy economy and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the long term. The NDP voted against all of that. These measures include support for green infrastructure, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies and the production of cleaner energy and fossil fuels. These funds have helped establish Canada as a global leader in the research, development and demonstration of carbon capture and storage technologies, and assisted with developing the world's first post-combustion carbon capture project in a coal-fired power plant, a project which recently opened in Estevan, Saskatchewan, within the riding of Souris-Moose Mountain.

Our government has also taken action to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, such as tax preferences for oil sands producers and eliminating certain tax preferences for mining sectors, including coal. As a result of collective actions by all levels of government, as well as by consumers and businesses, Canada's 2020 greenhouse gas emissions are projected to be 130 megatonnes lower relative to the scenario with no action since 2005. In other words, relative to the scenario under the Liberals.

Moreover, between 1990 and 2012, the emissions intensity of the Canadian economy decreased by 29% and Canada's per capita emissions reached a historic low of 20.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person, their lowest point since tracking began in 1990. These improvements in emissions intensity and emissions per capita are expected to continue through 2020.

Canada is playing a constructive role within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiation process and is committed to continue working toward the establishment of a new global climate change agreement. For Canada, an effective new international climate change agreement must be fair and, most important, such an agreement must include a commitment to action by all the world's major emitters of greenhouse gases.

The importance of this last point cannot be understated. Previous climate change agreements were supported by countries representing only a fraction of global emissions. Given Canada only accounts for less than 2% of global emissions, any new climate change agreement must include all these major emitters, including emerging economies that represent the bulk of projected growth in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Our government's international efforts also include providing support to other nations to help address climate change. Our government delivered $1.2 billion in fast-start financing, which supports a wide range of climate change projects in developing countries around the world. Building on this effort, our government recently pledged $300 million for the Green Climate Fund. The Green Climate Fund will play a key role in addressing climate change globally by balancing mitigation and adaptation initiatives, and focusing on helping the poorest countries.

Beyond the United Nations, our government is also advancing important work under a number of key international partnerships. These collaborative efforts include addressing short-lived climate pollutants, which help slow the rate of near-term warming, both globally and in the Arctic.

Clearly, our government already has a comprehensive climate change agenda in place that is achieving real results for Canadians. That is why we do not support this irresponsible bill, Bill C-619, and the unreasonable targets being proposed and, instead, continue to address climate change in a way that balances the environmental and economic objectives.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the parliamentary secretary's recitation of his talking points. I think I have heard them about a dozen times before. They are in some respects reflective of why there has been no progress made on this file in the last nine or ten years and the reason for the hon. member for Beaches—East York's presentation of what I consider to be a very able bill.

The NDP is a party that takes climate change and carbon pricing seriously. The Green Party is a party that takes climate change and carbon pricing seriously, as does the Liberal Party. The only party in the House that does not take either climate change or carbon pricing seriously is the Conservative Party, and the parliamentary secretary has just given a classic demonstration of why we have not made any progress on this file over the last nine years.

As the temperatures of the earth rise, Rome burns while Nero fiddles.

I found all of the things that the parliamentary secretary said they have done to be ironic. What he neglected to say is that there is absolutely no chance whatsoever that the government will achieve its own Copenhagen targets, which were watered down from those the previous government had set. We are in a situation where three out of the four parties in the House take the issue seriously but, regrettably, the governing party does not.

In the last few weeks, the leader of the Liberal Party gave a demonstration of how we would go about achieving these targets. The first thing he did was to meet with the premiers. That is a novel concept for the Prime Minister. He has had nine years to meet with the premiers, but unfortunately has not been able to clear up his schedule, except from time to time before hockey games, where he can fit in 15 or 20 minutes to meet with the premiers. On the other hand, the Liberal leader has met with many of the premiers, sometimes on multiple occasions. In the case of Premier Wynne, he has talked with her about the issue of pricing carbon.

B.C., Alberta, Quebec, and probably Ontario very shortly will all price carbon one way or another. That makes for about 85% of the overall economy. The junior levels of government have all moved on from the federal government, because the people of Canada and the premiers of Canada take the issue of pricing carbon seriously. The leader of the Liberal Party has met with those premiers who are taking this issue seriously.

The second thing he did was fly to Calgary. Not only did he fly to Calgary, but he also went to the Calgary Petroleum Club. He went there, a place not exactly friendly to a person of his last name, and reminded them of his last name. He told the people there that we in Canada have to price carbon. He said, “You know Canada needs to have a price on carbon. The good news is that we’re already on our way.” It was a mature and honest conversation with the area of the country that has the most difficulty with carbon emissions.

If the environmental argument does not persuade members, perhaps the economic argument will. If we are to get our resources to tidewater, we need to be serious about the environment. What is good for the environment is actually good for the whole economy.

The Keystone XL pipeline has been a colossal mess both economically and politically. It has been an economic and political disaster. In fact, it is a classic case of political mismanagement. Alienating the most powerful individual in the world about something that we need and want is wondrous to behold.

Not only does the Prime Minister not talk to the premiers, but he also does not talk to the leader of the free world and our largest trading partner. It seems a bizarre way to go about trying to get an international / North American price on carbon.

The leader of the Liberal Party proposed a model for Canadians that they understand and with which they have some experience—namely, a health care model. Canada is a confederation, and we succeed in this confederation when we collaborate. He suggested a health care model for how we will price carbon.

He then said we have to set the goals. That is consistent with what the hon. member for Beaches—East York indicated, that targets have to be set. The national government has to be engaged, whether it is cap and trade as it is with Quebec and California, possibly Ontario as well, or whether it is a tax as it is in British Columbia, whether it is revenue neutral or revenue generating. The leader of the Liberal Party is agnostic as to how a province or a territory will meet its goals. Do whatever it takes, but these will be the national goals and these will be the breakouts of the goals.

Fifth, acknowledge that some of the provinces will need more assistance than others, just as in the health care model. Some provinces are more successful at achieving health outcomes than are others. If we understand the health model that way, then we will also understand the model that is being suggested by the leader of the Liberal Party. If the parties were serious, we could get this done. The provinces and territories have not had a serious partner in nine years.

Sixth, he made a commitment to go to Paris in October or November of this year to negotiate Canada's final goals. Could someone please tell me the last time the Prime Minister of Canada attended a COP conference since 2006? The Prime Minster avoids those conferences like the plague because he is not serious. He is not serious about pricing carbon, and he is not serious about COP. If the leader of the Liberal Party has the good fortune of being elected as the prime minister of Canada, he has committed himself to go to Paris.

The seventh point is that the leader of the Liberal Party would call a conference of the confederation within 150 days of the commencement of government. He would go to the conference, get the targets, aggregate the targets among the various provinces and territories, and commit to what needs to be done to achieve the targets.

The nonsense that the parliamentary secretary spouted about destroying the economy in order to achieve the targets is just that. The federal government is nowhere to be found in the whole development of the clean energy sector. The sector has pretty well done it on its own, and it is responsible for an equal number of jobs to oil and gas, which is around 27,000 direct and 275,000 indirect jobs.

Finally, just to show that the government is not serious, there is a paragraph in the Lima conference that says that each nation will submit a target by the end of March, an intended nationally determined contribution, due at the end of March. I dare say that neither the minister nor the parliamentary secretary will be able to shed any light on whether that target has been set.

We will support this bill. It is a step in the right direction. It is a little overly prescriptive, but nevertheless it is a useful contribution to a debate. It shows a seriousness on the part of some parliamentarians to actually deal with what many say is the existential threat of our time.

I thank the hon. member for his efforts in putting together a very useful bill for the House to consider.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood for his comments about some parliamentarians wanting to take this issue seriously. I would hope that more of us in this House would want to take this issue seriously, but I am pleased to hear that Liberals will be supporting the bill.

In 2011, a historic election for the NDP, we won a number of seats and became the official opposition for the first time in history. We were here for caucus meetings right after that election. My phone rang, and I knew it was Jack Layton calling me. He was calling around to people, asking them to serve in his shadow cabinet. He was asking us to shadow the Prime Minister's cabinet in different roles.

When my phone rang, he asked me if I would serve as the environment critic, and I was thrilled. I was thrilled because all I have ever wanted to work on are issues of justice. For me, justice is social justice, economic justice, and environmental justice.

I was really excited to work on this portfolio. When I was on the phone with him, I told Jack I wanted to meet with him and talk about my mandate. If I am working on the environment portfolio, what mandate should I serve under? He said we would have a lot of time to talk about that, but that I needed to understand that the most important issue facing us today is climate change, because climate change affects poverty, it affects security, it affects agriculture. It can create famine. It has the potential to affect everything, so everything one does has to be seen through that lens of climate change.

Jack and I never got to have that follow-up talk, but I took that mandate of applying the lens of climate change to everything I work on.

After his death, we had a leadership race. The member for Outremont is now the Leader of the Opposition. He asked me if I would keep this portfolio, and I said that I would, gladly, but under one condition: that I carry out that mandate of using the lens of climate change for everything I do. My leader, the member for Outremont said, “Of course, because that is all that matters here.”

So here we have the climate change accountability act, initially tabled by Jack Layton in the 39th Parliament, but unfortunately it did not make it through the Senate because we had an election, and that kills all legislation.

We reintroduced it in the 40th Parliament, because we in the NDP are plucky like that. We keep going at it. The bill passed all the stages in the House of Commons and then was voted down by an unelected and unaccountable Senate.

I was with Jack that evening, and I have never seen him angry like that. I have never seen him yell like that. He was very angry, and rightly so, because we were democratically elected members of the House and we had said that yes, we need to take action on climate change, we need to legislate these targets, we are working with the international community, we are working with environment organizations, and this is what we have to do—and the Senate voted it down.

It is now the 41st Parliament, and we have brought it back. I really want to thank and applaud my colleague, the member for Beaches—East York, for his commitment to climate change, his commitment to his constituents, and his commitment to our future. We all owe him for bringing this bill back after his election.

We are bringing it back, and if it fails, we will bring it back again. If it fails again, we will keep bringing it back, and if we have to form government to get the bill to pass, we will form government to get the bill to pass, because we are committed to legislating our targets.

How will we achieve these reductions? First, of course, we are going to legislate the targets, just as the bill says, and then we are going to act.

We are the only recognized party in the House of Commons that has committed to putting a price on carbon. Our preferred mechanism is cap and trade, as it was in the last election, but it is not just about a price on carbon. It is not about cap and trade or carbon tax or fee and dividend. These are little economic models, these mechanisms, and they work. We have seen them work around the world, but it is not just about a price on carbon.

I am really proud to be a member of the NDP, a social democratic party. Social democratic parties have a history of leading economic transformations. If we look to jurisdictions where there have been social democratic governments, they are frequently at the top when it comes to innovation. They are at the top of the list, and we can draw lessons from our history as social democrats to create the green transformation that we need here in Canada.

The key difference with the NDP's approach, a social democratic approach to environmental justice, is that the principles of equality and fairness, and the provision of social security are fundamental conditions for this type of transformation that I am talking about. That is the transformation we need in order to deal with climate change. These things are must-haves; they are not things that would be nice to have.

We have to build solidarity if we are to tackle climate change, and so we need to focus on capturing the benefits of a green energy economy. We need to make sure that people receive the benefits of energy efficiency services. We need to ensure that cities and our local communities can grab hold of the green technology sectors. It is that solidarity that I am talking about.

I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment ask, what kind of wacky technology are we going to use to bring down these emissions. Well, how about the wacky technology of energy efficiency? The cheapest source of energy is the energy that we do not use.

I know it sounds wacky, but it is these energy efficiency programs. If we look at the old home energy retrofit program, it created jobs in every single community, from Nanaimo to Ecum Secum to Brantford, in every community. There would be two energy auditors and four home retrofitters. Those jobs were in all of our communities. That was our local economy. It also brought down our emissions. We saw the results from Environment Canada showing good reductions in emissions. It also put money in our pockets. We were well on our way to figuring out how to offer this to low-income Canadians as well, and we see those kinds of low-income programs at the provincial level.

This is what I am talking about when I say that building solidarity is key to fighting climate change. This is what I am talking about when I say that we need to look at the social, environmental, and economic aspects of justice.

The NDP is committed to investing in green technology and renewables. We are committed to things like loan guarantees to provinces and first nations who want to capture that exciting transition to the green energy economy. This is what we are all about.

As proof of that commitment, my colleague, the MP for Drummond, brought forward an energy efficiency motion. My colleague, the MP for Edmonton—Strathcona, understands the need for transformational change and developed a Canadian environmental bill of rights in which we would enshrine the right to live in a healthy environment. Can members imagine if we had that right as Canadians?

This is about real ideas that will work. This is about drawing on that social democratic history to lead that economic transformation to the green energy economy. This is about justice: environmental justice, social justice, and economic justice.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.


Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this debate today. I do appreciate the efforts of the hon. member in presenting Bill C-619, but I intend to join with the government in opposing this bill and the unrealistic climate change targets that it would impose upon Canadians.

The targets specified in the bill simply cannot be achieved without significant negative economic effects upon Canadians. Moreover, the government has already delivered a comprehensive suite of climate change initiatives that is generating real results for Canadians a way that does not harm our economy.

Further, unlike previous agreements, the international climate change agreement, which will be concluded in Paris later this year, is expected to require countries to submit specific plans showing how they will achieve the targets that they propose. That is only common sense.

The time is long past when politicians could pull the wool over the eyes of voters by proposing feel-good climate change targets without any specific plan to achieve them.

A specific plan is exactly what is missing from this bill. The hon. member has not included any plan whatsoever in his bill. It does not measure up to current international standards. For that reason alone, the House should not support the bill.

The Conservative government, by contrast, I am proud to say, has a plan. The government is committed to addressing climate change. It is continuing to advance a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reduce the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions across the country.

Canada is a vast northern country with large distances between urban centres and a rapidly growing population, so we face unique challenges in reducing our greenhouse gas emission. A sector-by-sector approach allows the government to tailor regulations for each economic sector, reducing emissions efficiently, while still safeguarding jobs.

Because of our close economic ties with the United States, we also work to align our greenhouse gas regulations with those in the U.S., as appropriate for the Canadian context.

This sector-by-sector approach allows the Government of Canada to work collaboratively with provincial and territorial governments to avoid duplication of efforts through measures such as equivalency agreements. Officials engage regularly with provincial and territorial colleagues and other stakeholders to develop federal regulations.

The government also works collaboratively with provinces and territories in a leading role through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, which will consider climate change strategies across the country in the coming year.

The government has successfully taken the initiative on two of our largest sources of emissions: transportation and electricity generation. The transportation sector produces nearly a quarter of all GHG emissions in Canada. That is why the government has made regulations for the transportation sector a key priority in its action on climate change.

The government is targeting emissions from transportation by setting stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for both light and heavy duty on-road vehicles. We are also aligning with the U.S on these measures, given the high degree of integration of our automotive markets.

In October 2010, the government put in place greenhouse gas regulations for passenger automobiles and light trucks for model years 2011 to 2016, so new vehicles purchased by Canadians emit fewer greenhouse gases and, by the way, are more fuel efficient. Over the lifetime of all 2011 to 2016 model year vehicles sold in Canada, this will result in an actual cumulative reduction of 92 megatonnes of GHG emissions.

However, continued advances in vehicle technologies have provided an opportunity to introduce a whole new generation of vehicles emitting even fewer greenhouse gases. As a result, in October 2014, the government finalized new regulations to establish progressively more stringent greenhouse gas emission standards for light-duty vehicles of model years 2017 to 2025. As a result of these measures, 2025 model year cars and light trucks will consume up to 50% less fuel than 2008 models, leading to significant savings at the pumps for drivers as well, and they will only emit half as many GHGs as the 2008 models. Over the lifetime of these 2017 to 2025 model year vehicles, these measures will deliver total GHG reductions of 174 megatonnes.

Canada is also reducing emissions from on-road heavy-duty vehicles. In 2013, the government implemented regulations to put stringent standards in place for the 2014 to 2018 model year heavy-duty vehicles such as full-size pickups, garbage trucks, and buses. These regulations reduce actual GHG emissions from 2018 model year heavy-duty vehicles by up to 23%. Building on this real success, the Minister of the Environment recently announced proposed regulations to further reduce GHG emissions from heavy-duty vehicles for post-2018 model years.

The government has also delivered real reductions in the electricity sector. Specifically, we now have regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired electricity generation. Canada is the first major coal user in the world to ban the construction of traditional coal-fired electricity-generating units. The regulations also require the phase-out of existing coal-fired units that do not capture and store the carbon dioxide they emit.

Taking action now to regulate coal-fired electricity generation achieves multiple health and environmental benefits. Our measures will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 214 megatonnes by the year 2036. This is equivalent to removing 2.6 million personal vehicles from the road every year over this period. These regulations will also deliver significant air-quality and health benefits, reducing emissions of harmful pollutants like sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and mercury from coal-fired electricity generation, all associated with a wide range of negative health outcomes.

Canada already has one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world, and these regulations will take us even further, a permanent transition toward lower emitting and non-emitting electricity generation such as high-efficiency natural gas and renewable energy sources.

Building on these very real successes in the transportation and electricity sectors, in December 2014 the government published notice of its intent to regulate hydrofluorocarbons. HFCs are greenhouse gases that are actually thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide. They are used as coolants in refrigeration and air conditioning in homes, buildings, industrial facilities, cars, and trucks and in other ways elsewhere. HFCs currently account for less than 2% of global GHG emissions, but if left unchecked, emissions of HFCs are expected to increase substantially in the next 10 to 15 years. These measures are intended to control the manufacture, import, and use of HFCs in Canada.

The Government of Canada will continue to work closely with stakeholders, provinces, territories, and our largest trading partner, the United States, to implement GHG-reduction measures. The government takes climate change seriously and will continue its sector-by-sector regulatory approach to deliver additional reductions while protecting economic growth and job creation.

Bill C-619, on the other hand, is proposing targets that would not fulfill these goals but would do the opposite. That is why I join with the government in opposing this bill.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before I recognize the hon. member for Drummond, I must inform him that there is one minute remaining in the time provided for private members' business.

The hon. member for Drummond.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Beaches—East York for his bill to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change.

I am very pleased to support this bill because it offers hope. Why? Because it was once Jack Layton's, and the member took up the torch and introduced the bill. What was Jack Layton's legacy? His legacy was hope.

I know that the Conservatives like to pit the environment and the economy against one another, but this bill puts the environment and the economy on the same side, and that is very good for Canada, the environment and economic development.

People across Canada will benefit from this bill because it will create jobs in research and innovation in a low-carbon-emissions economy.

Many businesses in the riding of Drummond are already benefiting from this new technology. I would like to list just a few of them: Aéronergie, Annexair and Venmar. These companies are involved in heat recovery and technological innovation. These are incredible opportunities for Drummond's economy.

We must move forward with an ambitious plan to fight climate change. Our leader, the Leader of the Opposition, who will be the next prime minister, will be the first Canadian prime minister to go to Paris and come back with an ambitious plan to fight climate change. He will take the lead, and we will all be very proud to be there to support him.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Drummond will have nine minutes to finish his speech when the House resumes debate on this motion.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.


Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to follow up on a series of questions I asked of the government some time ago, specifically the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, about the high and unacceptable rates of poverty faced by first nations in our country. I specifically highlighted the rates of poverty and the challenging life conditions existing in my home province of Manitoba.

I am honoured to represent 33 first nations. These are incredible communities. They are diverse, young, with much hope and energy, yet as the research that has come out in recent weeks shows, they face the greatest challenges when it comes to living conditions. Many people in these communities characterize their living conditions as third world.

This is Canada. It is 2015. We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and yet the first peoples of our country still live in conditions that most Canadians could not even imagine exist here. We are talking about homes that are mouldy and overcrowded. I have been in homes where 17 people are living in that one house. We are talking about lack of water and sewer services. Yes, in communities like Island Lake, progress has been made, but too many people still lack access to running water.

I have been in homes that have to resort to outhouses because of issues with plumbing and infrastructure, which simply do not exist. I have been in first nation schools that, as we know, are notoriously underfunded by this federal government, and were by previous Liberal governments as well. Teachers do not have enough money to buy books, and there are not enough resources to hire specialized teachers, and kids have to do with less, simply because they are from first nations.

These levels of inequality and poverty are unacceptable.

I want to point to the unprecedented conversation happening in Manitoba and in many other parts of the country about the levels of systemic discrimination that first nation and indigenous people face in our country. On so many measures, aboriginal people fall lower, or in some cases higher, than other Canadians. But in all cases they face greater challenges. We know this has everything to do with the federal government's approach to indigenous peoples, not just over the last few years, but over decades as well. It is under this Conservative government that we have seen deep cuts and real neglect in treating indigenous peoples with respect, with a nation-to-nation relationship framework, and understanding and working in partnership with indigenous communities to be able to address the significant challenges they face.

As a result, I rise in the House to refer to the levels of aboriginal poverty. Some 62% of aboriginal children in Manitoba live in poverty and 25% of aboriginal children across the country do so as well. I ask how this federal government does not see a problem. On behalf of the people I represent, and in conjunction with so many indigenous people across the country, I ask for federal action to deal with these unacceptable realities.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario


Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in order to answer the question posed by the hon. member for Churchill this evening.

As the minister has already said, our government believes that first nations should have the same quality of life, the same opportunities and the same choices as all other Canadians.

When it came to power, our government promised to work for the first nations, but the NDP voted against almost every measure we introduced.

Let us look at this past fiscal year, for example. In 2013-14 alone, we invested more than $1 billion in support for Manitoba's first nations.

I would like to highlight just a few ways we have been working with Manitoba first nations to improve their quality of life.

Specifically with respect to housing, we invested roughly $38 million in 2013-14. Since being elected, our government has built nearly 2,000 homes on reserve in Manitoba alone. We are not only ensuring that Manitoba first nations have homes to live in; we want to make sure that they are serviced to the same standard as those off reserve.

As we speak, homes in the first nations communities of St. Theresa Point, Wasagamack, Garden Hill, and Red Sucker Lake are getting investments in their infrastructure. Economic action plan investments have allowed our government to retrofit 318 homes and to purchase six water trucks, seven sewage trucks, and over 200 water and sewage tanks in these communities alone. These are renovations and purchases, I might add, that the NDP insisted on voting against.

We have also made significant investments in first nations water and waste water. In November 2013, the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act came into force. Once the regulations are complete, this landmark piece of legislation will ensure that first nations enjoy the same quality of drinking water as all other Canadians.

We are making sure that the funding is in place to implement the goals of this act. A $10.7-million upgraded waste water facility, including a new sewage treatment plant, is nearing completion for the God's Lake First Nation. It will serve over 1,400 Manitobans who live on reserve.

We are also investing in jobs and skills training. In January 2014, our government announced that more than 150 first nation young adults in Manitoba would be connected to skills training and jobs through enhanced service delivery.

As members can see, whether it relates to housing or water and waste water, our government is committed to improving the lives of first nations on reserve, despite the fact that the NDP continues to oppose these excellent investments.

Aboriginal AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.


Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the reference to the kinds of commitments that have been made to our region. They are commitments people have fought for. In fact, I have been involved in advocating for many of these priorities, alongside chiefs, councils, leaders, and regional leaders. The reality is that there is so much more that needs to be done.

Recent reports documented by the Canadian Press indicate chronic underfunding and a systemic issue at hand. The reality is that, yes, important infrastructure investments are being made as a result of tireless advocacy, but much more needs to be done.

When we look at the disproportionate levels of poverty, it is clear, and I am sure that it is clear to many members of the government, that the status quo is not working.

The government member across referred to the minister's commitment. I will highlight the fact that over the last couple of days, in raising the issue of fire safety, I have been struggling to find the minister's commitment. In fact, I have seen much enthusiasm to try to blame first nations rather than to get to the table and make the difference that is required.