House of Commons Hansard #81 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was unions.


The House resumed from May 5 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Honoré-Mercier Québec


Pablo Rodriguez LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in support of private member's Motion No. 45, which, as amended, definitely deserves our support.

First, I want to congratulate my colleague, the member for Halifax, for his work on this important recommendation. Basically, the motion asks the Government of Canada to take the potential impact of greenhouse gas emissions into account for future infrastructure projects that receive federal funding and, where appropriate, to prioritize funding for projects that help mitigate the impact of climate change. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

The science is clear: climate change is the most pressing issue the world faces, and we must act collectively and we must act now. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of our government's key priorities, and this motion is very supportive of our goal.

Canada has much to gain by aligning its climate change goals with its infrastructure investment goals. The two are very closely related. The government also knows that working jointly with the provinces, territories, municipalities, and first nations is critical to the success of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable economic development.

When we tabled our budget in March, we kept our promises to Canadians to invest in our future, support the middle class, and help those who need it most.

Budget 2016 is about Canadians and about our country's future. It is about seniors, children, students, and indigenous people. It is about supporting the most vulnerable and making sure that every Canadian has an opportunity to succeed.

The budget offers immediate help to those who need it most and lays the groundwork for sustained, inclusive economic growth that will create good jobs and prosperity for all Canadians.

I have to say that this is one of the most progressive budgets in a very long time.

The infrastructure plan, which is included and outlined in the budget, promotes accelerated economic growth and job creation across the country. The budget provides new investments in infrastructure totalling more than $120 billion. This includes an additional $60 billion for public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure.

We know that infrastructure is the cornerstone of our economy and our society, but it is not an end in itself. We believe it is one way of ensuring prosperity and inclusion across the country.

Looking beyond these figures, there is much more to infrastructure than just physical structures. It is about more than just concrete, pipelines, roads, bridges, buses, or trains.

Infrastructure is really about people. It is what connects Canadians to their communities and allows them to be active participants, both socially and economically.

Infrastructure is about parents sleeping in peace, knowing that their children will have clean and safe water to drink.

Infrastructure can also mean a refuge, a shelter for women fleeing domestic violence, or clean, safe housing for someone who has absolutely no other option.

In budget 2016, we committed to investing more than $10 billion over the next few years toward the infrastructure projects that Canadians need most: modern and reliable public transit, water and waste water systems, as well as affordable housing.

This funding is in addition to investments we have already made. The funding I am talking about right now is part of phase one.

Phase one is mostly focused on short-term projects around recapitalization, repair, modernization, and improving the accessibility of existing infrastructure assets. These are projects that could get moving fast and get completed within two or three years, and would rebuild the foundation of transit, water, and housing that people rely on.

I am proud to say that over the summer we reached bilateral agreements with every province and territory for phase one. As a result of that great work by the Minister of Infrastructure, $5.4 billion is now available for public transit, water, and wastewater projects.

When we signed those agreements, we also approved lists of projects that were already on under way or that could start imminently. We approved over 700 projects worth more than 50% of the total allocation for phase one. More importantly, 466 of those projects are already under way across the country, creating growth and improving the quality of life for all Canadians. Over 400 communities across Canada will benefit from these projects. This is absolutely key.

There is also $3.4 billion in budget 2016 for us to invest in affordable housing, early childhood, cultural and recreational infrastructure, as well as on-reserve health care institutions.

We are also holding consultations across the country over the coming year on developing a national housing strategy to make the most out of the upcoming federal investments. We will continue to hold extensive consultations with Canadians so that we can build programs to meet their needs.

As members know, we have committed to investing in green infrastructure to help build healthier and more sustainable communities. Green infrastructure also means building communities that are resilient to the effects of climate change.

We do not have to look too far back to see the impact of climate change. We saw it in Edmonton during the 2012 floods, which impacted many communities. This is why we are investing in flood mitigation. This is why it is a priority for us.

We also committed to working openly and transparently with our partners and all Canadians. Infrastructure and Communities Canada publishes all the details of the funding and allocations for the projects it supported. I can also assure my colleagues that we will continue to do so.

More recently, we published the letters sent to the provinces and territories describing our government's plan for releasing funding for projects that will rehabilitate and modernize infrastructure and encourage economic growth to boot.

These letters outline in detail the public transit infrastructure fund and clean water and waste water fund allocations for each province and territory.

However, budget 2016 is only the first step of an ambitious plan that we have for Canada and Canadians. We want to do more, and we will do more.

While our phase-one funding for programs is helping communities with their most pressing infrastructure needs, phase two will include funding for projects that will leave a lasting legacy for future generations.

In conclusion, we are committed to getting phase two under way as soon as possible, and we look forward to announcing the details in the coming months.

Again, I want to commend my colleague, the hon. member for Halifax, on his important work on this file.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The member for Edmonton Manning.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, the member gave what could be called a hopeful speech about projects and what will probably happen in the next 10 to 15 years. He mentioned job creation twice. This is something we have not heard about for a long time from members on the other side. He also mentioned investing $120 billion in upcoming infrastructure projects. Can the member opposite—

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Excuse me. I am sorry, but I made a mistake. I realize now that this is private members' business and I forgot that there are no questions and comments.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague talked about all kinds of generalities from the budget, but he did not speak specifically about Motion No. 45, which is what I am going to speak on.

Canada is a country that needs jobs. We've lost hundreds of thousands of jobs on the Liberal government's watch. The government promised Canadians that it would run a deficit to put people back to work by emphasizing infrastructure spending. That is what Liberals said during the campaign, and what they repeated ad nauseam last session. It has been a year, and every month the job numbers show that there are more and more people out of work. The infrastructure money is flowing too slowly to change that, and now the government wants to entertain a motion that would slow the pace of infrastructure spending approval from a bureaucratic nightmare to a snail's pace.

I was an engineer overseeing capital projects when the large multinational companies adopted their sustainability goals. They started doing greenhouse gas emission analysis. In fact, I myself have done the calculations for greenhouse gas emissions analysis. The analysis is very complicated. There are a lot of questions to consider. Do we include everything from the carbon and greenhouse gas emission footprint of the raw materials, like the steel and concrete used to construct the project? How do we find out what that footprint was without sometimes knowing confidential information from the company that made the raw material, or by making assumptions about it? What about including the carbon footprint of all the vehicles that all the constructors use on the project? What about counting the footprint of the compressors and diesel generators used to build the project, and how do we estimate that? How do we predict the emissions that are post start-up from the project? Do we include those or not?

These are just a few of a myriad of questions that have to be considered for each project, even when there is a greenhouse gas emissions guideline. Most of the time, what is included for each project has to be decided on a per-project basis because each one is different. We cannot compare GHG emission information for different projects, because different things are included on each one.

Well then, how do we decide what is an acceptable level of emission or footprint? If it is better than something currently built, is that okay? What if it is not quite as good as the best available technology? Is that okay? Do we include the footprint of the existing infrastructure that is being repaired or not?

What happens is that there are endless delays while these questions and issues and the seeking of data are resolved, resulting in huge delays for the project. At the end of the day, there is no good way to compare projects or figure out whether they are good enough on GHG emissions or not.

That said, many municipalities and provinces have already started implementing their GHG emission requirements. Now the federal government will add an additional layer of bureaucracy, and the federal program will be different from the municipal and provincial programs that have been put in place. Therefore, this is adding another layer of red tape that will not get these projects built.

Who will pay for these endless hours of searching for information, calculating and estimating emissions? Will it be the municipalities? They cannot afford it. Will it be the federal government, with more taxpayer money? Hopefully, not.

The motion claims that it is going to help the national climate change strategy. Let us talk about that for a moment. Canada makes up less than 2% of the global carbon footprint. We could eliminate our entire footprint and it would not make any factual evidence-based scientific difference to the temperature of the planet. Let me repeat that. Canada could eliminate its entire footprint and it would make no difference to global warming.

What we should be doing is leveraging our carbon emissions reduction technology to the substantive contributors to climate change, like China, India, and the U.S. They make up nearly half of the global footprint. We could create jobs for Canadians and we could help the planet at the same time. However, this motion will not help the planet, and it will not help us create the jobs we need to create quickly with infrastructure funding.

The motion certainly goes against the direction that was told to Canadians when the infrastructure minister said that the focus for infrastructure would be road repairs, maintenance, and rehabilitation of existing assets to quickly create jobs for Canadians. Under this motion criteria, road repairs will never make the list, and we have not seen any job creation on the part of the government from infrastructure spending as it is.

There are plenty of opportunities to create jobs with the infrastructure funding. For example, in my riding of Sarnia—Lambton, we need $12 million to build an oversized load corridor to create 3,000 well-paying manufacturing jobs. The manufacturing shops already exist and already produce these large fabricated modules that can be exported to markets within Canada, the U.S., and the Middle East. However, the current government, which I have been presenting this opportunity to since November of last year, has done nothing to follow up and help create Canadian jobs. It has given away $200 million to Iraq for economic development, but it cannot give my riding $12 million to create 3,000 well-paying Canadian jobs.

Additionally, Motion No. 45 has been amended to make it even more ambiguous and vague. By removing the criteria that a greenhouse gas analysis would only be done on projects over $500,000, it has now created a disadvantage for smaller projects. When we do the analysis, smaller projects typically have less greenhouse gas emissions because less widgets are used to build them and less time is spent putting them together. This motion is another Liberal action that makes me wonder if the Liberals want to have any private sector jobs at all.

Putting GHG screening into pipeline approvals has all but stalled that process, eliminating the potential for hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs. Threatening carbon taxes has caused businesses not to invest here and to move their expansions to the United States, along with their carbon footprint. The United States does not have an uncompetitive tax. This has happened with two expansions in my riding, costing another 2,000 Canadian jobs.

Therefore, I am speaking against this motion. It will not create the economic stimulus that the infrastructure money promised by the Liberals was supposed to create when they campaigned. It will not result in projects getting approved in a timely fashion. It will not help the planet or contribute significantly to reducing the global carbon footprint. It will bog down the process of supporting municipalities in their need to upgrade infrastructure. Based on the other evidence that the government presented last session, it will likely result in project awards to friends of Liberals and Liberal municipalities, which is not a fair outcome for all Canadians.

Motion No. 45 is a warm, fuzzy, feel-good motion that is not well thought out. The evaluation of the greenhouse gas emissions cannot be well defined or applied equitably to different projects, as I have shown. It will slow down the process and delay the creation of the Canadian jobs we so desperately need. Therefore, members should say no to Motion No. 45.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, we need to act on climate change. We have lost 10 years, arguably 20 years of action around the globe. We have damaged Canada's international reputation, and we have certainly affected our fishing stocks, forests, public safety, and put more stress on firefighters, local farmers, and on future generations. Action is badly needed. Canada cannot stand on the sidelines. We need to transition now to a cleaner and greener economy.

That means setting ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gases and acting on a concrete plan to actually deliver those targets. Unfortunately, the federal government here, and at the other end of the House, has done neither. I am reminded of my first job out of university, in the early nineties, working with environmental groups and industry across the country to use economic instruments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. The Liberal government of the day did not embrace the recommendations that we made together, and we have a lot of time to make up.

Shifting away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner technology is good for the earth, the atmosphere, the economy, and it creates a lot of good, green, local jobs in the process. Therefore, my picture is much friendlier and more positive than my colleague who just spoke.

The good news is that climate action is a win-win. I have a lot of good stories from my riding, Nanaimo—Ladysmith, that illustrate what we can do if we make our investment and economic decisions with a climate change filter.

The Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre is building the first affordable family housing project in Nanaimo since 1998: 17 units of affordable housing, some of them designated for elders, some for youth transitioning out of care, and some for survivors of domestic violence. This is the first certified passive house in western Canada for affordable housing. Passive homes use 80% less energy than conventional home constructions. Low energy use leads to lower operating costs, which leads to more affordability for the residents and homeowners. We are very proud of Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre for embracing this technology, which has been in place for 30 years in Europe.

Another great affordable housing project that I have had the honour of being involved with is Habitat for Humanity's mid-island chapter on Vancouver Island. It has just opened the first two of six new affordable housing units. It had a fantastic amount of community support for this. Vancouver Island University's carpentry students dedicated 5,000 hours of labour toward this project, on which they learned about energy efficient technology building techniques and installing low-energy windows, ventilation systems, and lighting. Interior design students were involved. Heavy equipment operators were involved. It is a wonderful community experience. To be part of the key ceremony where two families took ownership of two homes built by volunteers and students in an environmental and low operating cost way was a very proud moment for all of us.

We have a number of LEED certified buildings in our region: Ladysmith Community Services Centre, the Nanaimo Fire Station No. 4, South Forks water treatment plant, and many others. There are about 20 all together. We have had great economic impact from building homes in a more energy efficient way. The economic impact of LEED buildings across the country for the last 10 years is estimated to have resulted in $128 billion worth of economic output.

In 2014, Canada's green building industry employed more direct full-time workers than the forestry, mining, and oil sectors combined. This is a great place of pride for us, and a huge economic opportunity, a local employment opportunity as well as a climate change saving opportunity.

We need our government to support local initiatives like this and remove barriers to innovation here at home. We have the know-how in our communities. We want climate leadership that supports, not impedes, cutting greenhouse gas emissions in our riding, on the coast, and across the country.

We also have infrastructure wishes in our riding that would benefit from a climate change task and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

There is a huge need for regional transit in my riding. In communities that are just 20 minutes apart, Ladysmith and Nanaimo, there is no public transit connection. That is a problem for students, for the affordability of post-secondary education, and for band members of the Stz'uminus first nation. It is hard for them to commute to their jobs. If they could use the bus, life would be more affordable. There is great demand, and many business people are pulling for public transit in my region. A climate change filter on infrastructure investment would put this to the top of the list.

There is fantastic volunteer work on bicycle paths and mapping out what our community could look like with lower greenhouse gas emissions and getting vehicles off the road.

There is a huge lobby for food-processing facilities that would support local farmers in value-added processing and niche foodie industry, which is big across the whole country. Distillers, brewers, and wineries as well are all looking for ways to support infrastructure that supports local agriculture.

The indigenous peoples place of culture is a very hopeful initiative in my riding. It would implement some of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on bringing people together, all nations, indigenous and non-indigenous, in a beautiful facility. We are looking for infrastructure funding for this now. It would have a day care, a school, and a community kitchen. Again, it would be built with a passive design, using 80% less energy than conventional buildings do.

We are very thankful to the Mid Island Metis Nation, the Boys & Girls Club of Canada, and Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre for this innovative and positive development that would be climate friendly and good for my community in every way.

Vancouver Island University has a proposal for district geo-exchange energy based on flooded, abandoned coal mines that underlie the university campus. The intent is to replace natural gas, to reduce carbon outputs to near zero, and to use the facility as a teaching and awareness site, a teaching opportunity, to help people get excited about alternative energy and see it working.

New Democrats support this motion. We support initiatives to help lower Canada's greenhouse gas emissions and to promote federally funded projects, like the ones I have described, that would mitigate the impacts of climate change. The motion proposes that infrastructure projects receiving over half a million dollars in federal funding be subject to an analysis of the project's potential greenhouse gas emissions. This is a welcome addition.

It is disappointing, however, that the language in the motion does not appear to compel real action from the government. We are hoping for criteria that would tie decision-making more directly to the results of the greenhouse gas emissions analysis. We would like a mechanism that would compel real action in government decision-making on infrastructure. We want specification of projects that promote climate change prevention, not just action after the fact. We believe that input from stakeholders, particularly environmental organizations and local governments, would add to the study at the committee phase.

At this point, it looks like the motion lacks real teeth, which are needed so badly to compel action from the government, but New Democrats look forward to the conversation at committee and are optimistic that the details can be improved.

It has to be said that the Liberals have had a hand in undermining Canada's environmental assessment regime and assessments for federally funded infrastructure projects in particular. The Liberals supported the Conservatives' Bill C-10, which was the first blow to our environmental assessment system. It removed a trigger for projects receiving funding in the first place. The Prime Minister voted in favour of that, as did 12 of his current cabinet ministers in this Parliament.

New Democrats are happy to see the change in tone but certainly want this to be a more powerful tool that will actually get results: real action.

Investing in renewable energy projects, embracing new building technology, and growing our food closer to home would build more new job opportunities, support small business, and create the win-wins for climate action that our local economies, our communities, and our country so badly need.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to and offer my support for private member's Motion No. 45.

Private member's Motion No. 45 hearkens back to our government's Speech from the Throne, which said,

...a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. We can no longer have one without the other. Protecting the environment and growing the economy are not incompatible goals; in fact, our future success demands that we do both.

I commend my friend, the hon. member for Halifax, for introducing this important motion. The motion represents a significant opportunity for our government to highlight our climate change priorities through targeted infrastructure investments.

As members know, the relationship between infrastructure and climate change is an important one to our government. Budget 2016 stated that the second phase of our infrastructure plan would go hand in hand with the important transition to a low-carbon economy.

Investments in infrastructure can concretely advance our government's climate change objectives. Extreme weather events can be connected to climate change. We can protect communities across the country and save Canadians money on maintenance and repair by updating the codes and standards that relate to climate change.

Infrastructure investments can also support efforts to reduce emissions. Whether it is constructing residential and commercial buildings according to the highest efficiency standards or investing in public transit infrastructure to help get cars off the road and reduce congestion, infrastructure investments can drive the reduction of greenhouse gases and help advance our government's clean-growth agenda.

We expect our infrastructure to last for decades. That is why it is important that we take the time to do it right. Gone are the days of the simplicity of measure twice, cut once. Our policies and our engineering have to be smart and forward thinking. We must view all of our infrastructure projects through an economic lens in addition to an environmental lens. We need to ensure that we make the right decisions to avoid exposing our investments to future climate risks and that we prevent locking in high emissions for future generations. We have to quickly adapt and change our mindset to include the effects of climate change in our large-scale infrastructure investments. It just makes sense, both environmentally and economically.

That is why my colleague's motion is so valuable. Analyzing the greenhouse gas impacts of relevant infrastructure investments and considering this analysis in our decision-making represents a significant opportunity to meaningfully advance our mandate priorities on clean growth and climate change.

I spent over six years as a municipal councillor. I believe that municipalities are on the front line in their efforts to combat climate change through their decisions on infrastructure. That is why our government is partnering with organizations like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and making investments to advance shared climate change priorities. We are in this together.

In February, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, along with the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, announced $31.5 million for 20 sustainability projects across Canada under the green municipal fund. The green municipal fund supports municipal initiatives to improve local air, water, and soil quality and to promote renewable energy. I am pleased to say that a number of these projects will directly contribute to Canada's climate change objectives through infrastructure investments. This includes funding a new net-zero library in Quebec that will minimize energy consumption while maximizing energy production. This means that it will generate as much energy as it consumes.

Building on this funding, budget 2016 announced a further $125-million top-up to the green municipal fund in support of local green projects, including those that contribute to Canada's climate change efforts.

Budget 2016 also announced an additional $75 million for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to help support the reduction of GHG emissions, to assess risks, and to integrate all the potential impacts into asset management plans.

Combined, this funding demonstrates our government's understanding of the critical role municipalities play in reducing emissions and enhancing environmental resilience across Canada.

Budget 2016 also included funding for projects where infrastructure and climate change complement each other.

To enhance Canada's resilience to the impact of climate change and severe weather, budget 2016 included funding to support revised building codes and stronger standards for our infrastructure assets.

Funding of $248 million was also allocated to the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin outlets channels projects, which will allow the province of Manitoba to regulate lake levels and to provide flood protection for the surrounding communities.

Furthermore, $212 million was allocated to upgrade the Lions Gate waste water treatment plant in Vancouver to make it more resilient to the effects of severe weather and climate change.

Budget 2016 also announced infrastructure funding to reduce emissions. A total of $62.5 million was allocated to support innovative technology projects and to improve emissions through alternative transportation investments across the country. This includes funding for passenger vehicles that run on lower-emitting alternative fuels and fast-charge stations for non-emitting electric vehicles.

A portion of the $574 million announced for social housing in Canada will be used to fund energy efficiency retrofits, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower heating and cooling costs, and create jobs. That is real change. That is building the green economy. Both measures will directly contribute to the overall reduction of greenhouse gases in Canada.

Passing and implementing this motion will build on these efforts to advance the government's climate change objectives through infrastructure investments. As our government works with provinces, territories, municipalities, and other key partners and stakeholders on the long-term infrastructure plan, we will consider options for implementing the motion in a manner that is consistent with our climate change and infrastructure priorities.

Ensuring that all infrastructure investments are first examined through an environmental and climate change lens must become the normal course of business in Canada.

Implementing Motion No. 45 would set Canada in the right environmental direction and would advance work under the Vancouver declaration as well as Canada's international commitments under the Paris agreement.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Halifax for bringing forward this important motion, which I support as amended. I would urge all members in this House to vote in support of its implementation.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I too rise to speak to Motion No. 45 as amended. It is important to keep in mind precisely what the motion proposes. It proposes that the government ensure that an analysis of the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions be undertaken for all federal infrastructure, but it leaves the thresholds unknown and unclear as to who will be consulted on those thresholds and when they may arrive. Why do I emphasize that condition? Because we are hearing from the big city mayors that they are in a crisis, and that they need funding for social and affordable housing right now. They want to now how long they have to wait for these criteria.

There is huge interest across the country, including in my riding of Edmonton Strathcona, for a shift toward consideration to a more sustainable way of living. Both my municipal government, under the direction of Mayor Iverson and his council, and the youth of my city are very interested in job creation in the new energy field. That includes in greener infrastructure.

The motion appears in small part to respond to the recommendations by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in her recent audit report. It offers only a partial framework for commitments already made by the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities to at least partially redirect federal funds toward greening infrastructure.

The problem is the motion offers no substantive changes to either the regulatory or assessment laws to make consideration of reduction of greenhouse gases mandatory. It also offers no recognition of proposals for a more substantive and all-encompassing reform for a next generation environmental impact assessment process as proposed by a number of leading legal and environmental impact assessment critics, some of those including from Dalhousie University in the riding of the member for Halifax.

What has the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development called for? She has called for more substantive reforms to the ways in which the federal government actually delivers money for municipal infrastructure. This past spring, she reported in her audit on federal infrastructure programs intended to improve community environmental sustainability, including on the gas tax fund, the green municipalities fund, and other infrastructure programs whose objectives were to improve performance and sustainability of Canadian communities. She determined that in all three cases the government had failed to achieve environmental objectives. One of those objectives is action on climate change.

What about the gas tax fund? The commissioner found no demonstration that the gas tax fund spending actually resulted in cleaner air or water, or in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. When Jack Layton was the president of the FCM, the institute of the sustainability criteria for the fund, municipalities were required to produce sustainable development plans in order to receive some of those funds. However, the Conservatives in the last government stripped all reference to sustainability in the gas tax renewable agreements.

Over the past decade, there were no adequate performance measures, no reporting, and no accountability for the spending under that fund. The commissioner recommended that Infrastructure Canada work with the recipients to develop effective performance measures, take corrective action, and report to Parliament and the public. Motion No. 45 partially addresses this, but only for greenhouse gas assessment, with no specific actions required in the reporting.

What about the green municipal fund? That has been a $500-million endowment to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, or FCM, since the early 2000s. The commissioner determined that the FCM managed the fund well, but needed clear objectives and performance expectations and longer-term federal commitment was needed. The announced green infrastructure fund may partially address it, but there are no details yet on the specific criteria. The threshold, once agreed on, would trigger a greenhouse gas assessment, but again that is unknown. The agreement granting the funds to the FCM already specifies a desire “ enhance Canadians’ quality of life by improving air, water and soil quality and protecting the climate.” The criteria include energy. Again, there is a need for greater certainty.

What about the commissioner's concerns with federal infrastructure funds generally? She determined that the government had failed to consider environmental risks including climate change and the fact that there was a failure to identify, manage, or mitigate environmental risks the announced green infrastructure fund may address, but no criteria.

What is the response of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to the motion? I am told it is concerned about the effects of climate change and is already moving toward taking action on the emissions for which it is responsible. It is taking a lead on climate resiliency and on greenhouse gas reduction, not only because it is the right thing to to do but because it has no choice. It is bearing the brunt of flooding and fires in my province.

Across the country programs are being implemented to make transit fleets greener, to retrofit buildings, and to manage stormwater more effectively. The federation is modelling some of Canada's best lowest carbon practices such as investing in district heating, active transit, electric car infrastructure, and better waste management. For the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, flexibility is paramount. It also wants a voice in any terms that are set.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association, which has been on the Hill in the last few weeks speaking with all elected officials, has already espoused a vision of sustainability in transit. That is encouraging.

Our partners are already onboard.

What are the challenges the government faces in redirecting federal dollars to the greening of infrastructure? As I mentioned earlier, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities has testified at committee and additionally outside. He has said that he has focused on three strategic areas: public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure.

It is still unclear how the government defines green infrastructure and whether there will be a requirement to provide upfront analysis of how the project would address or mitigate environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas reductions.

A number of people in this place have suggested that we need is legal criteria. What is the point of assessing if there will not be an obligation to deliver on those undertakings?

There appears to be some contradiction in direction by the government. The has minister stated that his mandate letter requires transport to refocus on building Canada funds toward trade-related infrastructure. Yet there is also this interest in moving toward greening. Are the dollars going toward building overpasses, freeways and rail terminals, or toward more of a greening of our infrastructure?

Its important who will be determining the priorities. My understanding is that the Liberal government has said that it is no longer going to dictate to the provinces or municipalities. Yet today's very motion proposes that it will be dictating the criteria. The FCM has said that it wants to be a part of the negotiations on how this moves forward.

As my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley recommended in his speech on the motion, an assessment of greenhouse gas potential of an infrastructure project may not be sufficient. He concurred with the recommendation of the commissioner that there was a need for performance measures, reporting, and accountability. As my colleague queried: will the projects under any of these categories of funding be denied if greenhouse gases are not decreased? Does it mean that those projects proposing to reduce a greater amount of greenhouse gases will get priority? What about infrastructure projects that do not reduce greenhouse gases, but rather help mitigate the impacts of climate change or propose better solutions?

Why just infrastructure? Our greatest challenge to meet our international commitments on greenhouse gases remains our major source industry. Is it fair that our municipalities will face strict scrutiny and conditions on federal funding when few conditions exist yet on larger sources?

The big city mayors are calling for urgent funding for affordable and social housing, and they need that money now. Do they have to wait for this criteria? Do they have to wait and be consulted on this criteria?

What about more comprehensive reforms to environmental impact assessment laws? Many, including legal experts at Dalhousie University and Schulich School of Law, support a more substantive next generation change toward sustainability assessments beyond simply responding to greenhouse gas reductions. They want upfront considerations.

It is well past time that the federal government moved to address rising greenhouse gas emissions. This is the beginning of an answer but only partial. We will support the motion, but we look forward to more detailed conditions being imposed by the government.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to conclude debate on private member's Motion No. 45. I would like to begin by thanking all my colleagues from various corners of the House who have seconded the motion and all those who have weighed in and spoken on it as well. I also thank every person and organization across Canada who has shared their insight, their encouragement and their wisdom from this motion's earliest date.

In November 2015, very shortly after the federal election that sent all of us to this place, an open letter appeared in a Halifax newspaper called The Coast, addressed to me as the then new member of Parliament for Halifax, and I would like to read a few lines:

Andy...Consider this your chance to distinguish yourself as an MP who understands what climate change will mean for his own community, and who will champion policy change with the urgency the climate crisis necessitates.

As your new constituents, we find ourselves wondering how you will live up to the high expectations this community has. How will you represent us? Where will you stand when it comes to the most important questions of our generation?

In Halifax, we have always demanded environmental leadership from our elected representatives. In many ways, we are a city of environmentalists, and what choice do we have? As one of Canada's leading coastal cities, the impact of climate change and associated sea level change in Halifax is near and frightening. Every day, the threat inches closer and closer to our shores. As the member of Parliament for Halifax, I am called to act on behalf of my constituents.

I introduced Motion No. 45 to the House because I believed at that moment in time, at the edge of what could be catastrophic climate change, and on the threshold of a $120-billion investment in infrastructure that would transform our nation, we could no longer afford to make decisions without fully understanding and considering their environmental implications.

As I have said before, I am a city planner of 25 years. I know that the way we build our communities, the kind of infrastructure we deploy will in large measure determine whether we win or lose in this battle against climate change.

Infrastructure is a key determinant of greenhouse gas emissions. If we choose poorly, without the proper data and well defined guiding principles, we risk funding infrastructure projects that lock in for years the very emissions that we must reduce and eliminate.

For that reason, we must consider whether the infrastructure investments we make today might have future risks that outweigh their short-term benefits. Therefore, logically, environmental impact must be a key consideration in the rollout of this historic infrastructure investment.

That is why my motion, Motion No. 45, would achieve this. More specific, if passed as amended, Motion No. 45 will require greenhouse gas emissions analyses to be included in applications for federally funded infrastructure projects. Further, it will, where appropriate, require government to give funding priority to projects which help us achieve our emissions reduction goals.

So as not to disadvantage small projects for which a greenhouse gas analysis would be unduly burdensome or where the project's environmental impact would be obviously negligible, Motion No. 45 would allow for responsible discretion by government to set an appropriate threshold, below which GHG analysis would not be required.

To bring action to Motion No. 45, the motion also calls for the development of an implementation plan. I know our government will work closely with provinces and municipalities, including my friends and colleagues at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, with whom I have consulted on this motion and with whom I will continue, to develop a sensible and fair framework which supports the efforts that communities across Canada are already undertaking to combat climate change.

I would like to invite colleagues one final time to support Motion No. 45 when it comes to a vote later this week. I hope I have been able to convey its merits and indeed its necessity, not only to my home city of Halifax but to our beloved communities from coast to coast to coast in Canada, which I have visited. I have seen first hand the harmful impacts of climate change, sea level rise, and extreme weather events. They are real and they are happening now.

This week, by passing Motion No. 45, our Parliament can take a leadership role in decisive, meaningful action in the fight against climate change. In so doing, we will protect our environment for the next ones in this place: our children and our children's children. I believe we have no other responsible choice.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members



InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

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Some hon. members


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The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion, the yeas have it.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Andy Fillmore Liberal Halifax, NS

And five or more members having risen:

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, September 28, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

The House resumed from September 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-4, an Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.


11:55 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, as many will know, when there is an opportunity to talk about the issue of labour relations in Canada, as much as possible people can count on the fact that I love to be able to share my thoughts on what I believe is a very important issue. It is an important issue not only for me but also for the Prime Minister and the Liberal caucus as a whole. That is very clearly demonstrated in the degree to which labour relations has been made a parliamentary priority by the government.

I can recall having discussions about labour-related legislation prior to our being in government, when we discussed two private members' bills. I will comment on that because at times it was fairly emotional for my colleagues opposite when we indicated the manner in which the past government, the Harper government, had changed the labour laws.

One of the discussions that took place had to do with the sense of unfairness about what the Conservative government was doing at the time in introducing private members' legislation. Therefore, no one should be surprised that the new government, led by our current Prime Minister, has made a fairly bold statement that we want to establish a new attitude and a new relationship between labour and management, given the harm caused by the former government. It did not take long for our new government and the Prime Minister to bring forward legislation that will ultimately assists in setting the stage.

Bill C-4 is a genuine and effective attempt to repeal legislation that was previously introduced in the House by private members. I was there during the debate when those private members' bills were brought forward to fulfill what we believed at the time was the Conservative Harper government's agenda with respect to labour relations.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to walk on picket lines and to support workers. I have had opportunity to meet with management groups to talk about labour relations. I understand the importance of balance. At one point, I was even the labour critic in the Province of Manitoba. I understand how important it is that there be balance, because balance is what provides for an effective bargaining process.

Although we have only held the reins of power here at the national level for a relatively few months, I believe we have made significant strides forward. I was really encouraged by our ministries here today that were so effective in sending the message to Canada Post and the union not to expect the current government to jump in with back-to-work legislation.

The government's expectation is that the stakeholders in this case, the management and the union, will be able to negotiate in good faith. I believe that in good part they have understood that the government wants to see that different attitude toward negotiations and that it believes it is in their best interest, both management and the labour side of Canada Post, to reach a negotiated agreement. In essence, that is what we have witnessed. When there is an opportunity for a negotiated agreement between the stakeholders, I believe this is what we should be striving for at all times. I do not believe the previous government really appreciated that fact.

Hansard will clearly demonstrate that I would comment back then that everyone knew at the time that the government of the day would institute back-to-work legislation virtually immediately if a strike took place. How did that influence negotiations? It was not just in respect of Canada Post. Indeed, the government needs, as much as possible, to respect and allow for negotiations in good faith. It does not necessarily mean that we are limited. We act in the best interests of Canadians at all times.

The former government did not recognize the importance of labour harmony. That is one of the reasons why we, as a government, had to deal with labour legislation right from the get-go. That is exactly what our Prime Minister and our government did with the introduction of Bill C-4. First reading was back in January and the bill was brought forward for second reading in February.

What was the Conservative Party's official response? The Government of Canada said that Bill C-4 was a priority piece of legislation and that we should debate it. Back then, the Conservatives did not think twice. They brought forward an amendment to the legislation. The amendment read:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “that” and substituting the following therefor: “this House decline to give second reading to Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act, because the bill violates a fundamental principle of democracy by abolishing the provision whereby the certification and decertification of a bargaining agent must be achieved by a secret ballot vote-based majority”.

Right away, the Conservative Party attempted to reject Bill C-4. It did that because it prefers those private members' bills, no matter who was offended by them. I am very proud that the government continued to push forward boldly with the legislation, understandably so, and we saw it go to committee.

When we deal with bills like C-525, C-377, and C-4, they go to committee and we get all sorts of different types of presentations on them. However, in this case, both labour and management argued that the approach established by Bill C-525 and Bill C-377 set a dangerous precedent for labour relations and law reform, wherein the tripartite consultation process—referring to employer, union, and government—had traditionally been considered as essential by the stakeholder to maintaining a workable labour-management balance.

We saw both sides make that claim. Many members in the Liberal caucus have raised that issue. I listened to my colleague from Atlantic Canada, when he was the critic for labour, stand up many times and articulate how important that balance was and how we had to respect the importance of the stakeholders. That was one of the fundamental flaws with the private members' bills that were being advanced at the time, which we are repealing through this legislation.

We have an hour of private members' business every day, almost without exception. There was substantive labour legislation. When changes are made to labour legislation, there is an obligation to take those stakeholders, the labour and management sides, and bring them to the table and sit down with them to get a good understanding of where consensus could actually to built. That allows the government to be involved in this well-established process that has proven to be fairly effective in Canada. Other jurisdictions look to Canada to see how we are able to provide balance between labour and management, and the different stakeholders.

That is something that is so critical, yet both of those private members' bills did not go through that process. In fact, if we had applied the same rules of procedure to Bill C-4 as we did to the two private members' bills, then we would not be debating the bill right now. The bill would have been limited in terms of the amount of time allowed for debate.

Members know full well that a private member's bill is treated quite differently than a government initiative or government legislation. There is more debate time for government bills. There is a different process, whether it is the lead-up, the making of the legislation, ensuring that there is that consultation and that the consensus is built between and labour management, all the way to the second reading, third reading, report stage, and so forth.

There are time limits that are instituted in our rules to deal with private members' bills. That is why many thought it was intentional on the part of the Harper government to have private members bring legislation in through the back door. We have made reference to that in the past. Many on the other side get very upset or are offended when we talk about that back door approach, but they need to recognize that there is a difference in the process. That offended both labour and management stakeholders. At the time, the Harper government completely ignored that.

Now we are going through the process. What was Bill C-525? It was the Employees' Voting Rights Act. It was introduced in the House of Commons as a private member's bill on June 5, 2013, by the Conservative member for Red Deer—Lacombe. The bill received royal assent on December 16, 2014, and ultimately came into force on June 16, 2015. It suggested that the card check certification model, which we believe is quicker, more efficient, and more likely to be free of employer interference, was something the Conservative Party adamantly disagreed with. It articulated that it needed to be gotten rid of.

However, it did not go through the process. The private member, heavily supported by the government, brought forward that piece of legislation and it offended a great number of people, not only union personnel.

Then Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations), was introduced in the House of Commons on December 5, 2011, again by a Conservative member. The bill ultimately did pass on December 12, 2012. On June 26, 2013, amendments were made to the bill in the Senate and it was referred back to the House of Commons for review; however, the bill was restored back to its original version. Keep in mind, that was a majority Conservative Senate. Even the Senate recognized the imbalances being caused by this piece of legislation, but the Harper government used its majority to kick it back. Ultimately it was accepted and then put into force after royal assent in June 2015 and took effect in December 2015.

It is no wonder we have made this a high priority for this government. We heard some criticisms at the time about Bill C-377. That it could upset the existing labour relations balance between unions and employers was a comment we heard continuously, whether it was through debates or at the committee stage. That union financial disclosure was already addressed in the Canada Labour Code and in many provincial labour statutes was also something that was raised on many occasions, as well as why the Conservative government was singling out unions. What was the driving factor behind the Conservatives doing that?

It must be pointed out that the bill is discriminatory against unions and ignores other types of organizations such as professional associations, which also receive favourable treatment under taxation law. The bill would invade the privacy of labour organizations and their members.

It is interesting to note that the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees launched a constitutional challenge to Bill C-377. I understand that challenge is now in abeyance until we see what takes place with Bill C-4. There were a great many concerns dealing with privacy. Even the Canadian Bar Association and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner provided comments to that effect. The CBA suggested that the bill may be subject to legal challenges on those grounds alone.

It is amazing the number of provinces that voiced opposition to Bill C-377. A majority of the provinces also criticized the bill for potentially crossing over and destabilizing the labour relations environment. This is where I started my discussion. When we talk about Bill C-4, it is all about righting a wrong. It is restoring a sense of fairness and balance to our labour laws and that is of the utmost importance.

The Conservative government lost touch with Canadians on labour issues, as it lost touch on many different issues with Canadians. Bill C-4 is a good bill and should be supported by all members because it brings back and restores balance to labour relations.


12:15 p.m.


Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to correct some of the facts.

Basically, when the previous government passed Bill C-525 and Bill C-377, there were major consultations, a word I believe the current government loves to hear all the time. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance examined the issue, as did the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Although no one is accusing the government of being logical, here is the question. What is the motivation behind the legislation? I believe an observer would say it is to protect the union bosses. The irony is that those union leaders are themselves elected by secret ballot. Does it make sense that union leaders be elected by secret ballot if secret ballots are not allowed for union certification votes? That is the question, and hopefully we can hear some logical answers.


12:20 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, let me be crystal clear as to why it is we have Bill C-4.

In essence, it is about the fundamental values of how negotiations should be taking place in the collective bargaining process. Those values were violated by the Harper Conservative government. Bill C-4 is an attempt and a first step in restoring that balance of fairness, of openness, to labour relations here in Canada. It would fix a problem that the Conservatives created. That is what Bill C-4 is all about.


12:20 p.m.


Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, I was very heartened to hear the member use words that I used in my speech, which were about having a more balanced approach to labour relations and that the legislation before us was a first step toward correcting what I feel was anti-worker legislation from the previous government. The NDP fought hard in the last Parliament to get rid of these anti-union, anti-worker types of legislation. Although there was consultation, if we go back and look, most people who were consulted disagreed with the government's legislation.

Why would we continue to operate under the previous government's Bill C-4 and just go at it bit by bit? Why not really make a stand, if the government really is supportive of workers, and repeal all the previous anti-worker legislation? I would like to hear whether the member would like to join with me in order to move forward. It is almost as big a step going back to start over in order to get back what workers fought long and hard for, which was taken away under the previous government.


12:20 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I did indicate that this is but a first step. There is other legislation.

I recall another priority legislation that we introduced, which dealt with the RCMP being afforded the opportunity for collective bargaining. Even though it was the Supreme Court that ultimately told the former Conservative government that we needed to establish that framework, it did not take our Prime Minister and the government long to recognize that this was something that needed to be done and should be done quickly, and we brought forward legislation to that effect. It was something that other jurisdictions, other law enforcement agencies, already had, this ability to organize. Therefore, why put it off? This is yet another piece of legislation.

I can assure the member across the way that we are, as a government, very sympathetic to making changes that would improve our labour laws. However, there is an onus of responsibility on behalf of the Minister of Labour, the cabinet, the government, and in fact all members of the House to make sure that it goes through a process that enhances that balanced approach and works with the different stakeholders. We should not just take an idea and turn it into a law. We need to recognize the importance of inclusion and make sure that labour, management, and different stakeholders are brought into the circle.