House of Commons Hansard #347 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

Sikh Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The question is on the motion.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Sikh Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Sikh Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

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

Sikh Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Sikh Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

Sikh Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Sikh Heritage Month ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 7, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

AsbestosAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, I would like to dedicate my remarks this evening to Howard Willem, a federal public servant who died from being unknowingly exposed to asbestos in his workplace. Before his death, Howard was a tireless advocate of a ban on asbestos because of his work and that of his stepson, Jessie Todd. Saskatchewan was the first province to have a public registry of buildings containing asbestos. In Howard's words, people have to say enough is enough. We need to know.

In June, I asked the government if it would be implementing a comprehensive strategy for asbestos removal to protect all Canadians and all workers. At the time, the answer was that the strategy was under construction. Four months later, we still have nothing even resembling a comprehensive asbestos removal and remediation strategy. Instead, what we have are regulations with notable exemptions.

As Kathleen Ruff, a prominent Canadian human rights activist and board member of Rideau Institute has said: “I would give them credit for finally moving to ban asbestos, but I'm troubled by these weaknesses and gaps and, if anything, they seem to have gotten worse.... They seemed to have weakened their proposed regulations.”

If the health and safety of Canadians is the reason for a ban on asbestos, why allow exemptions? These exemptions include magnesium extraction companies being permitted to work on nearly 800 million tonnes of asbestos residue remaining near the mines in Quebec. The use of road infrastructure containing asbestos will also be exempt from the ban, and with no exemption date in mind. The ban also does not apply to structures or products that already contain asbestos, another reason many think the ban is not strong enough. Asbestos in Canada will still be found in a wide variety of products, including building insulation, ceiling and floor tiles, automobile brake pads, cement and plaster products.

Canadians were expecting a complete and comprehensive ban. When is ban not a ban? It is when we get so many exemptions that workers will continue to be exposed to deadly asbestos. It seems that despite the lofty goals the government likes to talk about, its actions reflect instead the desires of powerful and well-financed lobby groups.

The federal government is even financing companies that are hoping to continue to make profits from using asbestos. The asbestos lobby is rejoicing that the Canadian and Quebec governments are financing a project to extract magnesium from the millions of tonnes of asbestos mining waste near the town of Asbestos, Quebec, and the Canadian government has given the company $12 million for this project. It appears that no independent environmental assessment has been carried out. Public health experts have been excluded and both the Quebec and federal governments have turned a deaf ear to their concerns.

The International Chrysotile Association and pro-chrysotile movement deny the science on asbestos and oppose banning asbestos, claiming it is virtually harmless. If the government is all about evidence-based decision-making and truly believes that any exposure to asbestos is harmful, which the evidence shows, then why has it allowed these exemptions that will continue to put Canadians' lives at risk?

AsbestosAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Kate Young Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib.

Madam Speaker, I am happy to respond to comments made by the hon. member for Saskatoon West regarding asbestos.

Protecting the health and safety of all Canadians is one of our government's foremost responsibilities and one that we are committed to upholding. The Government of Canada takes great precautions to manage and control the risks associated with asbestos in accordance with federal policy and legislative requirements from applicable acts and regulations for health and safety.

Our government has already taken proactive and concrete action to address this issue and to reduce the risk of exposure to asbestos. In 2016, my colleague, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement announced that the use of asbestos in new government construction and major renovation projects under its purview would be prohibited, and published an initial publicly available inventory of government-owned and leased buildings that contain asbestos.

Furthermore, in December 2016, my colleagues and I announced a number of measures as part of a whole-of-government approach to ban asbestos and asbestos-containing products in Canada by 2018. I am pleased to report that we have followed through on our promise to deliver on all commitments announced in the strategy.

For example, in June 2017, new federal workplace health and safety rules came into force that drastically limit the risk of people coming into contact with asbestos on the job. The Government of Canada's position regarding the listing of asbestos as a hazardous material under the Rotterdam convention was updated based on Canada's domestic ban.

The National Research Council and its partners have been reviewing all instances of asbestos under the national model building codes.

Health Canada is working to raise awareness of the health impacts of asbestos through social media and other communications products.

On October 17, 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada, in collaboration with Health Canada, published regulations to prohibit the import, sale and use of asbestos, as well as the manufacture, import, sale and use of products containing asbestos with a limited number of exclusions. The new regulations and related amendments will take effect on December 30, 2018.

In closing, I thank the member opposite for her questions and for sharing the government's interest and concern with protecting the health and safety of Canadians.

AsbestosAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, I would like to remind the parliamentary secretary that Quebec's commission on occupational standards, equity, health and safety, as well as all of Quebec's health authorities, have called for zero tolerance for exposure to asbestos, because it is so deadly and because that is the scientific evidence.

In closing, I would like to echo Kathleen Ruff again:

...the Canadian government has endorsed a double standard within Canada itself and is supporting a project that allows workers to be exposed to 10 times higher levels of asbestos than are permitted elsewhere in Canada....Why did [the Liberal government] deny the clear scientific evidence for so long?....The answer is clear: It was because public policy was captured by the asbestos industry.

That is shameful. Where is the comprehensive removal and remediation plan? Is the government still waiting for the asbestos lobby to write it?

AsbestosAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility (Accessibility), Lib.

Kate Young

Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada's activities in working to reduce Canadians' risk of exposure to asbestos is another example of our government demonstrating its leadership and vision.

We have taken a proactive and comprehensive approach, one that is founded in science and based on evidence. We have taken action by developing regulations to ban the manufacture, use, import and export of asbestos and products containing asbestos under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Evidence-based policy-making is important to the government and to Canadians. Examining the evidence and ensuring that operational and policy decisions are informed by the best possible scientific data are cornerstones of our government. Our actions on asbestos are comprehensive, co-ordinated and well researched, and will protect the health and safety of all Canadians.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

November 1st, 2018 / 6:50 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure for me to rise in the House to talk about the environment, the economy, sustainable development, the fight against climate change and renewable energy.

On June 12, I had the opportunity to ask a question about creating good jobs in a sustainable, green economy. Unfortunately, these days, the Liberal government is ignoring the environment and investing in the economy of the past. The government plans to invest $4.5 billion in an old pipeline using taxpayers' money, money belonging to Canadians, Quebeckers, and residents of Drummond. The current Liberal government is still living in the past. The government should not be investing in pipelines, of all things. It should be investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and those sorts of things.

According to Équiterre, every dollar invested in renewable energy will create six to eight times more jobs than a dollar invested in fossil fuels. That means that investing in renewable energy or fossil fuels is not about jobs or the economy. Investing in renewable energy is even better for the economy than investing in the energies of the past.

Our leader, Jagmeet Singh, criss-crossed Quebec talking about the environment, renewable energy and the green economy, and I had the opportunity to welcome him to Drummond. He visited a number of businesses, shops and attractions in the region. He met with Jean-Denis Lampron, the founder of Rose Drummond, and Carl Binette of Aéronergie. Aéronergie specializes in energy efficiency and heat recovery and also combines its systems with solar walls. That is what the economy of the future looks like, and the company is growing. Our region is very proud of this company.

Mr. Singh also met with Pascal Bouffard of Nakama-thé, who is also working to reduce his company's ecological footprint. His business provides paper straws and reusable metal straws, which are better for the environment and help combat the scourge of ocean plastics.

He also visited Maison d'Herbes, whose owner, Dany Lefebvre, is using more and more techniques to reduce his company's ecological footprint.

Lastly, Mr. Singh visited Soprema, a well-established company we are very proud of. Its North American headquarters is located in Drummond. Soprema's new building was built according to Aéronergie principles and is LEED certified. I can be proud of my region.

Canadians want initiatives like these. They want concrete measures to tackle climate change.

Not long ago, we had an emergency debate in the House of Commons to illustrate the importance of taking action. As shown in the IPCC report, we have the technology. We can be efficient. The only thing missing is the political will.

Where is this government's political will?

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Drummond for his question and for his speech.

I would like to point out that our political will on this side of the House is quite clear. We are putting a price on pollution all across the country.

The province of Quebec, my colleague's home province, has adopted a policy on pollution, and that is a good thing. Unfortunately, that is not the case in every part of our country. In fact, that is not the case in my home province of Ontario. It is important to point out that there is a will to do this in Quebec, in Drummond and elsewhere in Canada, and that will is reflected at the federal level, in our government.

The minister, in response to his question when it was originally raised in the chamber, indicated what kinds of investments we were making. He has again stated this evening that he is looking toward things such a more efficient, more green economy. What I would underscore is the exact same points that the Minister of Natural Resources made in the first instance when this question was asked.

There are $20 billion being committed by our government toward public transit; $21.9 billion is being committed toward green infrastructure to improve energy efficiency and help Canadians save money. However, there is more. We have been ensuring from the get-go, from November 2015 when the cabinet was first sworn in, that the economy and the environment indeed go hand in hand. By doing that, we signed the Paris agreement on climate change. We helped shape it, a historic, ambitious and balanced plan for bringing together economic prosperity and environmental protection.

Then we sat down with provinces and territories. We consulted with indigenous persons. We drafted the pan-Canadian framework to implement the Paris agreement, which promotes clean growth and combats climate change. We are now putting a price on pollution, as I just mentioned. We have accelerated the phasing out of coal-fired electricity in favour of clean options like renewable energy. We are making generational investments in clean technology and green infrastructure.

We are doing this for two reasons: first, because the way we develop, move and use energy accounts for 80% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions; and second, because the world is in the midst of something that has happened only a few times in history, a fundamental shift in the types of energy that power our society. That is being prompted by the very report the member for Drummond just outlined, the IPCC report, which indicated that we were on the precipice of a global crisis. People have to act, nations have to act, governments have to act. That is why we are acting.

This was the inspiration behind a group that we formed, called Generation Energy. It was the largest national conversation about energy in our country's history. We invited stakeholders to talk about what their world might look like for their kids and grandchildren and how we would get there. They told us that they wanted us to waste less energy, switch to cleaner sources of electricity, to use more renewable fuels and produce cleaner oil and gas. That Generation Energy concept produced 14 members with diverse backgrounds and experience in the energy sector.

We are listening to their suggestions. We are moving forward, most important, with a price on pollution. Thankfully, it occurs in Drummond in the province of Quebec, but not everywhere in Canada. Until it does, we will continue forward with that plan, because the consequences are too dramatic to contemplate if we do not.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague and his party for putting a price on carbon. That is extremely important.

As he said, there is already a price on carbon in Quebec and British Columbia. However, we need to have carbon pricing across Canada. We also need more meaningful action. We cannot talk about bringing in carbon pricing and then go out and buy a pipeline that conflicts with the measures to fight climate change.

Today, my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona moved a motion calling on the federal government to enact legislation that would establish a legal process to ensure binding measures for greater transparency and accountability in the fight against climate change.

Does my colleague agree that we must enact legislation for greater transparency and accountability? Does he agree with the motion?

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.

Arif Virani

Madam Speaker, what I can stress this evening in the House is that there is a battle to be waged against climate change. This battle must be fought across the country, working with as many partners as possible. It is very important that the NDP agree with us that we must face this crisis by making changes and implementing policies.

As I mentioned at the outset, we are investing in our economy, public transit and green infrastructure. We have also increased the low carbon economy fund.

We are investing $2 billion dollars for a low-carbon economy fund. Also we put in $220 million to help rural and remote communities move off diesel. These are all comprehensive efforts. They all work toward the same goal. It is a goal the member for Drummond and I share.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:02 p.m.)