Mr. Speaker, my friend from Winnipeg North says that they have great potential for growth from that. I agree, but as the Liberals thought after the 2008 elections, sometimes we do not know where the floor is.
Nonetheless, the issue at hand is that they use the argument that any progress achieved under the previous government was the result of action by the provinces, yet if we look across the country at all the jurisdictions and the differences in policies that were pursued and the differences in political stripe of the governments that were pursuing them, we saw something consistent across those provinces. That was that in every single province across this country during the period of the previous government, emissions went down or they went up by less than they had in the previous 10 years. In other words, if we take every jurisdiction individually and look at its performance in that period, and we look at that same jurisdiction in the previous period, there was clear environmental progress.
If members observe the greenhouse gas emissions data across different jurisdictions and across the years, environmental progress during the period of the previous Conservative government was achieved in every single jurisdiction. Maybe all these different governments were just pursuing great policies, and it had nothing to do with the federal government.
My friend from Spadina—Fort York is nodding, but it seems implausible to say that the federal government had nothing to do with it. If progress could be seen in every single part of this country, in every jurisdiction, then his contention that it had nothing to do with the federal government is about as plausible as his contention that I get virtue ethics from Ayn Rand.
The failures of the current government, on the other hand, are pretty clear, in contrast to its own rhetoric with respect to the environment, and they are also fairly clear in contrast to the accomplishments of our previous government.
The Liberals' approach to the environment is not a sustainable one. It is a very present-oriented, revenue-oriented approach. They see in this discussion of the environment, in rising social awareness of the challenges of climate change, only an opportunity to raise taxes. This is consistent with the approach of the government across a wide spectrum of policy areas. The saying goes that if one has a hammer, every problem is a nail. The hammer they have is a tax, so every problem they see is best responded to with higher taxes.
If it were really a concern about the environment that motivated them, I wonder if they could explore ways of reducing taxes in a way that created incentives for environmental action. In fact, we saw policies like that under the previous government, areas where tax reductions were used as a way of stimulating environmental activity. The current government would never countenance those types of policies, policies like eco-energy retrofits, which gave a tax credit to people for doing environmentally responsible things, or things like the transit tax credit, which gave a tax reduction, in the context of environmental action, for taking public transit. The government would never consider that, because that involves a loss of government revenue.
The Liberals' approach to sustainability is not about sustainability. It is about tax increases. Maybe it is because at some level, although they will not admit it, they recognize that they have a problem with fiscal sustainability. The Liberals' financial plan of running deficits forever is just not a financially sustainable one, so they want to use the discourse around environmental sustainability as a justification for trying to get more revenue.
At the same time, there is an exception to their approach on this, and that is they are taking a different approach when it comes to Canada's largest emitters of greenhouse gases. They say that they are going to provide a special exception for those emitters, because it would be difficult for them to pay the cost of that carbon tax. They say it might have negative economic consequences if we impose taxes on those large emitters.
What about the negative consequences of the carbon tax that the Liberals are imposing on small businesses, on people who do not have connections to successful lobbyists, who do not have the ability to make their particular case for a particular exception with the government, or the people in my riding who will have to pay the carbon tax, who do not have the well-connected lobbyists that the large emitters have? What about them? What about the impact on those people? What is the impact on them?
The government wants to always be imposing new taxes. My colleague across the way is heckling “rebate”. Let us be clear about something. The federal plan for a carbon tax does not rebate all the money it collects. The Prime Minister said, “Most of it.”
This raises more revenue for government. It is, “Give me $100, and I might give you $50 of it back.” I do not think that is going to satisfy most Canadians, or that it is going to fool most Canadians. They will understand exactly what the parliamentary secretary means when he talks about a “rebate”. It is an elegant way of attempting to draw more money from people and then control exactly how it is disbursed.
Canadians are not going to buy into the logic of that economically, and they are not going to be fooled into thinking that this is an environmental plan. Also, they will recognize that when the government says there is a negative economic impact associated with imposing this tax on large emitters, then it follows from the logic of that position that there will be a similar negative impact on everybody else. It is just that everybody else is not as well connected and well resourced to make those arguments through the kinds of contexts that our large emitters have the capacity to do.
Another thing to point out about the failure of the carbon tax, compared to the more positive, constructive approach pursued by the previous government when it came to the issue of sustainability, is that many of the people who would like to reduce their emissions require some kind of a capital investment in order to do so. If I am living on a fixed income, and I would like to make energy-friendly retrofits to my home that reduce my energy use, are good for the environment and save me money, that might be a great idea, but I also might not have the capital sitting around that allows me to do that.
The previous government was engaged with this question of giving people the means, through tax reductions and through building their capacity, to make their own choices that are reflective of the values that exist in our communities and of that sensitivity to the importance of sustainability.
By contrast, the Liberal government takes a punitive approach. It imposes taxes that do not make it easier but in fact make it more difficult for people in the kinds of situations I talked about to actually make the investments that will advance their own situation. The government's approach to environmental policy is punitive, and it is punitive against those who can least afford it. It is imposing new taxes on those who are struggling the most, while providing all kinds of benefits and escape hatches for people in other kinds of situations.
It is really important to underline the deceptive nature of the government's economic rhetoric. The government will often talk about how, allegedly, it is raising taxes on those who are well off, yet it has so many different vehicles for giving that money back, maybe not to everybody in the category of well off, but certainly the well connected and those who are able to go in and ask for those resources.
We have had the issue of cash-for-access fundraisers for the government, and of course I believe they have policy consequences in terms of the way the government responds to things.
We have talked about the exception the government is giving in terms of the carbon tax to our largest emitters, but we could also talk about the huge amounts of money the Liberals are spending in other forms of corporate welfare, such as the money they gave to Bombardier, some of which was then given to CEOs in bonuses. We could talk about the huge amounts of money spent on so-called superclusters. The spending of the government is so often in the form of corporate welfare and breaks to large emitters, while it is imposing new taxes and new burdens in the form of a carbon tax on those who can least afford to pay it.
We also saw absolutely no tax reductions for those making $45,000 or less. This is important, because we have to see how the environmental policy, the so-called sustainability policy of the government, is so often an excuse for achieving other objectives. It is an excuse not only for imposing new and higher taxes on Canadians, but also for imposing taxes on those who can least afford them.
Contrast that with the approach of the previous Conservative government, which tried to bring constructive changes when it came to the environment, and succeeded in doing so in ways that actually gave people the fiscal capacity to make investments that were going to benefit them over the long term.
Also, while the Liberal government imposes new burdens on those who can least afford to pay them, we gave tax reductions to those who needed the support the most. We lowered the GST, from 7% to 6% to 5%. We lowered the lowest marginal rate of tax. We raised the base personal exemption; in other words, we increased the amount of money that a person could earn before they would pay any tax.
We did not bring in any tax reductions for high-income earners. We lowered business tax rates, which helped to stimulate job growth and benefit workers here in Canada, lowered the unemployment rate and stimulated our economy. When it came to personal tax reductions, however, all the tax relief provided by the previous Conservative government was targeted at those who needed that relief the most, and we can see the benefits in terms of that policy.
Providing those tax reductions was so helpful in stimulating economic growth, which benefited all of Canada. It was sustainable as well, because those tax reductions happened in the framework of a road to balanced budgets, and a balanced budget was delivered. The previous government was thinking about sustainability in every aspect of its policy. It made spending commitments in the context of a balanced budget plan. When we make spending commitments in the context of a balanced budget plan, people can have confidence that those spending commitments will endure and be sustainable, because they are in the context where enough money is coming in to pay for them, and not where we are borrowing to achieve them. Also, in the midst of this fiscally sustainable approach, greenhouse gas emissions were reduced overall.
As we think about the environmental achievements of the previous government and contrast them with the failures of the current government when it comes to delivering on the environment, there are many different areas we should look at that go beyond the particulars of greenhouse gas emissions. They can provide a constructive example for the government as it thinks about what sustainability actually would look like in the context of government policy-making.
We are looking at a framework in which government will have to report to a greater extent. Obviously, we are supportive of the government really making explicit and being transparent about the reporting of information around sustainability. However, what we have seen so far in the evaluation of the government's performance with respect to sustainability is that it has consistently been getting very poor marks. People are recognizing those failures, and not all of those people who are criticizing the government on its sustainability record are friends of ours.
It has been pointed out that the Liberal government has the same greenhouse gas emission targets that the previous Conservative government had. It is pretty rich for the Liberals to criticize the Conservatives' record, when in fact we had clear targets, which are the same targets they have. However, our approach was different. It was not to use the environment as an excuse to raise taxes. It was a positive, constructive approach.
As I said, the environmental accomplishments that were clearly achieved under the previous government were not limited to the areas of meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. During the Conservative government, over $17 billion was spent to support improvements with respect to the environment, including a wide range of different technologies, tax reductions and benefits that had real, concrete and substantive impacts. Let me identify some of examples of those achievements.
The previous government invested significantly in clean transportation initiatives to support renewable fuels and a cleaner, more efficient transportation system. My riding includes substantial rural areas, yet sometimes the rhetoric from the government makes it seem as if people could just stop driving. While it might be realistic to walk to the grocery store in some parts of this country, it clearly is not realistic in many parts of the country, especially for families with children in tow.
The previous government recognized that people are going to continue to drive, but made investments in making transportation cleaner, helping to propel technological investment in a way that is going to improve the sustainability of the necessary trips that families take across the country. Again, this was a constructive approach rather than a punitive approach. That was done by the previous government, and it went a very long way.
Another achievement was investing significantly in eco-energy initiatives, targeting renewable energy, energy science, and technology and energy efficiency. This also recognized the benefits of energy efficiency and the fact that people are going to continue to use energy. Energy is a part of our lives. All members, with the exception of those who live very close to Ottawa, have to fly back and forth to our constituencies. People in this climate use energy to heat their homes, travel and purchase goods that they need. One cannot realistically grow all the food one needs to eat on one's own. That is obviously not something everybody can do.
Increasing energy efficiency and supporting renewable energy and energy alternatives do not mean phasing out the existing energy mix, but they do mean having an “all of the above” strategy, recognizing that we need different kinds of energy and that we can work to improve the efficiency of our energy systems as we go.
Another accomplishment of the previous Conservative government with respect to environmental initiatives was investing significantly to support the clean air regulatory agenda, a regulatory framework that has not only reduced greenhouse gas emissions but also improved air quality across the country. The improvements in air quality that result specifically from the regulatory approach of the previous government are well demonstrated. Some of the members across the way, even in other contexts, have recognized those achievements.
I spoke about this before, but another one worth underlining is the significant investment made by the previous Conservative government in the eco-energy home retrofit program to help homeowners make their homes more efficient. There is a clear contrast in approach between the current government and the previous government. All of us want greater sustainability. All of us want to facilitate a situation, hopefully, where people are able to live in a way that uses less energy, where they still use energy for their vital needs and do not need to cut back dramatically in terms of their quality of life but are able to live lives that are more energy efficient. Oftentimes, getting there requires major retrofits.
When there were round tables in my constituency on this issue, people told me about specific investments they had made themselves. People talked about buying solar panels. One person I spoke to recently talked about the family's decision to buy an electric car. However, the costs often make it difficult. Even those who would like to do so, or who can perceive the long-term positive effects on the environment and their own economic situation from doing this, still may not be able to make those investments.
One of the areas, in terms of concrete sustainability, that would encourage collaboration between the government and other actors is to look at how we can help people get over the hump of having the necessary fiscal capacity to make the investments they want to make when it comes to environmental improvements.
The kinds of policies brought in by the previous government, such as the ecoENERGY retrofit homes program, told people that if they made investments in their own homes to make them more energy efficient, the government would make changes to tax deductions and benefits that would improve the benefits to their doing that. People who might have been at the cusp of making that decision, but who might not have been able to do it before, were now able to do the math and see that it would work out for them to make that investment. It was something they could afford because of the benefits realized through that tax program.
This recognizes a basic Conservative insight about society, which is that the government cannot do it alone. The government cannot realize the benefits we want to see in society by acting alone or in a way that creates division or conflict. However, the government can try to facilitate decisions people want to make by providing them with these kinds of tax reductions.
The Liberal ideology, the Liberal assumption, is that higher taxes are always good for the environment, the poor and from the social equality point of view. Actually, what we often see is the opposite. We see how higher taxes and more government are bad for the environment and tend to disadvantage those who can least afford to pay the higher taxes imposed on them.
I am very proud of measures like the ecoENERGY retrofit program, which worked collaboratively with individuals and helped give them the capacity and resources to make these kinds of investments.
The previous government also made significant investments in the green infrastructure fund, which supported green infrastructure projects like renewable energy and clean water infrastructure. I think we all agree that it is part of the role of the government to be engaged in infrastructure. How can the infrastructure investments we make at the national level, the infrastructure partnerships we establish between the national government and other levels of government, the spending projects we pursue in general, be done in a way that is more reflective of Canadians' understanding of our environmental obligations and the importance of environmental sustainability? These were innovative, constructive ideas that came forward under the previous government, and I am certainly very proud of those actions and achievements.
A sixth accomplishment was providing significant support to pulp and paper mills to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become leaders in the production of renewable energy from biomass. These are the kinds of innovative proposals that provide support for the continuing operation of our mills that are good for the economy and also reduce emissions.
By the way, a talking point that we often hear from the government is that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. Right now, it is walking hand in hand in the wrong direction. With the previous government, we saw significant improvements in the economy, a sustainable approach when it came to economic management and a sustainable approach to environmental management. Yes, it is possible for achievements to made on these fronts together. We can also go in the wrong direction on these fronts at the same time. When we look at the actual constructive achievements of the previous government, yes, we can see results in both of those areas.
The previous government created the clean energy fund to support clean energy research, development and demonstration projects. This was an important fund that was working effectively to bring about results when it came to improving our environmental situation.
The next point deals with an issue we have discussed recently in the House, the health of our oceans and other waterways. The previous government made major investments to preserve and restore Canada's waters, including our oceans and lakes. We were invested in an agenda that put the emphasis on clean land, clean air, and in this particular case, clean water.
I was pleased to see recently the passage of a motion by my colleague in the NDP that dealt specifically with the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans. This was a constructive motion that all parties were able to come together in support of, and I was pleased to speak in favour of it. Canada is a relatively minor contributor to the volume of plastics in our oceans compared with other countries, but nonetheless we recognize our problem and we recognize the need to do all we can to reduce ocean pollution. One stat that jumped out at me in that debate is that every year plastic litter kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals, such as turtles, dolphins, whales and seals.
When we look at sustainability, we have to think about the sustainability proposition of the increasing flow of pollution into our oceans, and what steps we can take to address it. That is why Conservative members were pleased to support a motion that would help us take some steps in that direction. This is a process that all members in the House, including in our caucus, will be following closely to think about how we conserve our marine and ocean environment for future generations. However, that work was started by big investments that were made under the previous government, and certainly members of that government and all of us as Canadians can be proud of the work that was undertaken as a result of those investments.
The previous government expanded tax relief for green energy generation to include water-current energy equipment and equipment used to treat gases from waste. Again, this is another accomplishment that involves environmental action not through tax increases, but through tax relief. These are proposals that we would never see considered by the current government. To it, any idea on the environment has to involve a tax increase, greater involvement of government and revenue for government. The Liberals would really struggle to understand the purpose of tax relief for green energy generation. However, that was very much our understanding, that we could create incentives that would encourage economic development and environmental improvements, including via tax reductions and less government.
We can take this case to Canadians and say that they do not have to pay more to have a cleaner environment. In fact, the way we approached these issues was that people would pay less in taxes and have a cleaner environment as well. Therefore, in this particular context, green energy generation using water-current energy equipment, benefiting from the natural resources we have, recognizes that we can have an energy mix that includes a wide spectrum of different tools and opportunities in the process.
Another area of accomplishment that really speaks to our values in terms of sustainability is the actions that we took to protect Canada's national parks. We can protect Canada's national parks and recognize that these are important not only for the environment, but also for human interaction with the environment. When we preserve and strengthen our national parks, it gives Canadians an opportunity to visit, to understand and experience nature in a special way. In my province of Alberta, we have a number of famous national parks that my family and I enjoy visiting whenever we can. I do not take vacations as often as some members of the House do, but, whenever we can, we like to visit national parks.
The previous government protected Canada's national parks by providing significant investment to make improvements to highways, bridges and dams located in our national parks and historic canals. These investments strengthened our national parks, but also ensured that Canadians would have an opportunity to engage with our national parks, to be present there and experience them in a way that helped build a social understanding and experience of nature that will help us ensure the sustainability of those parks and of our natural environment in general over the long term.
The government previously supported conservation by investing additional money in a recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program to support projects that support the conservation of recreational fishery habitat. We saw it with the previous government as well. I think it was a constructive engagement with the conservation community that recognized, for instance, that hunters, fishermen and fisher people are involved in conservation in a constructive way and that the government can work well and effectively with them through some of these conservation partnerships, like the investments we made in recreational fisheries conservation partnerships. These constructive partnerships that recognize the benefits of conservation go a very long way to achieve the results we need to.
The next point I will make is that the previous government invested in 1,569 local conservation projects. These benefited the habitat of more than 430 species at risk under the habitat stewardship program. That again is another constructive investment that involved local partnerships those on the front lines of conservation. It involved the government not seeing its role as going alone, but rather seeking to work in partnership with community organizations to actually achieve results. That supported 1,016 EcoAction projects that engaged Canadians in direct environmental activities and helped them to connect to nature. These are the kinds of things that Canadians are taking on themselves and that the previous government supported. A new tax is no substitute for this kind of positive, constructive environmental action that happened.
We created Canada's first national urban park by investing $140 million in conservation, restoration, education, dangerous species recovery, visitor experience and community driven stewardship initiatives in the Rouge National Urban Park and $7.6 million per year thereafter for its continuing protection and operation.
This is close to my heart. Although I do not live in Ontario, my father grew up in the Scarborough area and it was where his parents first immigrated to when they came to Canada. I know the people of that region significantly benefited from the vision of the previous Conservative government.
I know my colleague from Thornhill was very aware of and involved in that during his tenure as the environment minister. We had some legislation that took further steps around that initiative in the House. It was legislation that the opposition was proud to support, although we had some constructive suggestions along the way that were designed to improve it and recognize it in the context of an urban park. The ability of people to make connections with the environment, to be present requires a different understanding of the phrase “ecological integrity”.
We have to think about sustainability with respect to the sustainability of our environment, as well as people's interactions with the environment. We should not see that as a negative, but rather people's interaction with the environment as a positive thing that contributes to our broader social understanding and recognition of the importance of sustainability and the capacity we have as a country to move forward together. This investment of over $100 million through the Rouge Urban National Park was greatly appreciated by people in that area.
Another accomplishment was protecting the environment by launching the national conservation plan that included $252 million to conserve and restore lands and waters across the country, while connecting Canadian families to nature in and around their communities. We are talking big dollars in investments in a national conservation plan that worked collaboratively with communities, but did not seek to impose new taxes, that made investments that moved us forward environmentally.
We supported projects, programs and policies in other activities to address climate change in our own context. We talked about the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that it achieved. We provided $1.2 billion in fast-start financing on which Canada successfully delivered and which funded projects focused on climate change adaptation and increased renewable energy.
Again, these are examples of things funded under the previous government.
We improved federal infrastructure such as radar and surface weather and climate monitoring stations, which is the backbone of Canada's severe warning system. We improved and expanded trail access across the country and encouraged donation of ecologically sensitive land by making tax relief for such donations more generous and flexible.
Again, this was an environmental measure that involved a positive tax incentive, which encouraged people to make donations of ecologically sensitive land. People might have though about whether they could afford to make this donation. They would have liked to have done something for the environment, they wanted to be engaged in bringing about progress, but they had to make the calculation with respect to their capacity to do so. Now as a result of policies pursued in the area of tax reduction and environmental improvement, they could look at the improved framework for the donation of ecologically sensitive land and realize that it would be something maybe they now could do. As a result, we achieved concrete, substantive and meaningful improvement in the area of environmental improvement.
We supported family-oriented conservation by providing $3 million to allow the Earth Rangers Foundation to expand its ongoing work, another achievement of which I am very proud. We invested almost $2 billion in our federal contaminated sites action plan and $215 million of cost-sharing funding which helped remediation at more than 1,400 sites.
Funding also supported assessments of about 9,600 sites, creating an estimated 10,400 jobs in terms of person years. Remediation action plans at approximately 700 sites and assessment activities at 6,500 sites were all fully implemented.
When Canadians look for environmental action, they want to see us engaged with the large global issues. They also want to see us engaged here at home in our immediate entities, with making improvements that provide a constructive impact around cleaning up contaminated sites, ensuring that they, their children and their grandchildren will have sustainable access to clean air, clean land and clean water. For that target of contaminated sites, almost $2 billion was spent in this area.
The government might think this is chump change. From our perspective, that is a lot of money, whether that was an investment that achieved concrete results around environmental approval.
In the context of this plan, almost 4,000 square kilometres of ecologically sensitive private lands were secured. Significant progress was made in the context of partnerships, partnerships emphasizing the work of community groups collaborating with the government, partnerships that achieved a real result; that is the securing of ecologically sensitive land.
We added an area nearly twice the size of Vancouver Island to the network of federally protected areas. Let me identify a number of those federally protected areas that were added as a key accomplishment in environmental action under the previous government: the world's first protected area extending from the mountain tops to the sea floor, the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site; the world's largest freshwater protection area, Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area; a sixfold expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories, considered to be a significant conservation achievement; three new national wildlife areas in Nunavut, protecting 4,554 square kilometres of marine, coastal and territorial habitat, including the world sanctuary for bowhead whales; and three new marine protected areas under the Oceans Act, Musquash Estuary in New Brunswick, Bowie Seamount off the coast of British Columbia and Tarium Niryutait in the Beaufort Sea.
It is interesting to reflect on the achievements that were made particularly in the context of these environmentally protected areas in Canada's North.
I had the pleasure to join Canada's foreign affairs committee on a recent mission to the Arctic. The focus of that trip was to look at issues with respect to Canada's sovereignty in the north. In the context of that, we had many discussions about the wide range of challenges and opportunities that existed in Canada's north, the particular sensitivity that people in the North had to the impact of climate change.
We heard from people in the north who said they were seeing those impacts. We heard about the importance of preserving the natural environment. We also heard that people wanted to see economic development, particularly energy development, that would create opportunities for them and their kids, that would allow them to provide a good standard of living and that would allow their kids to stay and work in the North.
These conversations were to emphasize both the importance of the environment as well as energy development. Because of that, the Conservatives, in listening to Northerners, sought to achieve both and did achieve both.
We achieved major improvements in the area of economic opportunities for the north. For instance, the road to Tuk was brought up many times as an important initiative with respect to connecting the south with the north to a greater extent.
On the other hand, there was frustration about how the Prime Minister unilaterally, with virtually no consultation, announced with the former president of the Untied States a moratorium around particular kinds of energy development. There was a lot of frustration about that.
We hear the talk around consultation, but we never see actual consultation, especially when the government is trying to stop a project. The Liberals seems to think that if we are to proceed with a project, infinite consultation is required and even if people are not directly affected by a project and do not have any expertise, they still should be able to participate in that consultation somehow. However, on the other hand, when they are stopping development, they see no problem in immediately shutting down progress without any kind of meaningful consultation.
What hit home for me, when I was spending time talking to indigenous people and others who lived in Canada's north, was that a full understanding of sustainability required us to think about the environmental sustainability of the north as well as the sustainability and economic viability of communities. Do they have access to affordable energy that allows for sustainable prosperity in that region?
If we talk about environmental sustainability, but not about the sustainability of an economic situation in those communities, then we only have half the equation and it makes it very hard for people to do well in that context. Therefore, we need to have both, which means allowing economic development to happen, recognizing the benefits of energy, recognizing that we all need and use energy, and that includes people in Canada's north, so we benefit from energy development at the same time as making real achievement in designating protected areas. We achieved that exactly in the protected areas I mentioned. Again, for example, over four and a half thousand square kilometres of marine, coastal and territorial habitats were protected in Nunavut alone.
On other accomplishments achieved in environmental sustainability under the previous government, we expanded our national parks network by creating Canada's 44th national park, the Nááts'ihch'oh National Park. All Canadians can be proud of our excellent network of national parks and the achievement that was made in creating Canada's 44th national park under the previous government.
The chemicals management plan is an under-discussed achievement of the previous government, an achievement of our former interim leader, Rona Ambrose, when she was environment minister. This came in 2006. At that time, our government created the chemicals management plan to assess chemicals used in Canada and to take action in cases where the evidence showed those chemicals were harmful. Of the 4,300 substances already in use and were identified as priorities for assessment, over 2,600 had been assessed and risk management strategies were developed for 62 deemed harmful to the environment or human health. Additionally, 3,000 substances were evaluated before their introduction into the Canadian market.
The last Conservative budget, budget 2015, committed close to half a billion dollars over five years to renew Canada's management plan.
This was a real, concrete achievement that, because of the leadership on the environment file of that environment minister, the chemicals management plan was brought in, which identified harm to the environment or human health for 62 chemicals. We were able to bring in an effective strategy for managing those chemicals.
When we identify chemicals being used that have a harmful impact, when we develop a coherent strategy for managing them and when we fund that strategy effectively over a period of time, then we achieve very tangible and concrete impacts when it comes to human health and ensuring we have clean air to breath, clean land and clean water.
The Conservatives' proposed multi-sectoral air pollutants regulation established, for the first time, national air pollution emission standards for major industrial facilities across the country. The expected reductions from those announcements would result in lower smog levels and better air quality overall for Canadians and their environment. Smog remains an issue and the air pollutant regulations that were proposed under the previous government were part of those achievements.
I mentioned the achievements of the previous government on greenhouse gas emissions, but as I review the accomplishments in the area of the environment, I want to highlight the specific numbers. There was a reduction in greenhouse gases. By 2012, greenhouse gas emissions were over 5% lower than 2005 levels, so in that period of time there was over a 10% growth in the economy and a 5% reduction in emissions. That was through the period of the global financial crisis. These were concrete achievements.
There was coordination between the federal and provincial levels on efforts to restore, protect and conserve the Great Lakes under the Canada-Ontario agreement, which was renewed on December 18, 2014, toward the end of the time of the previous government. It is interesting that even though there were different political stripes, Prime Minister Harper and Kathleen Wynne were able to work together on the renewal of the Great Lakes Canada-Ontario agreement in 2014.
Let us contrast that with the seemingly total inability of the current government to work effectively with premiers. Premier after premier is being elected on a mandate to say that the government's approach to the environment, using the environment as an excuse to raise more tax revenue, is not the approach their provinces would like to see. Provinces across the country that have these concerns are coming forward with alternative environmental plans. They vary in their particulars from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, as one might expect in a country as vast and diverse as ours, but there is a growing consensus at the provincial level with premiers rejecting the carbon tax. I am hopeful that my province will soon join the anti-carbon tax coalition.
It is interesting that the Liberal government was so afraid of the role that the opposition, the United Conservative Party, in Alberta might play as an intervenor that it sought to have that party not be an intervenor in that process. I am sure the provincial government of Alberta has a different feeling on carbon taxes, but I suspect very soon there will be, as more elections occur, even more provinces standing up to reject the approach of the government, which is all about using the environment as an excuse to raise taxes.
When it comes to federal-provincial relations, there is a clear contrast: The previous prime minister was able to work with the provinces, as these achievements suggest, but the current Prime Minister is all about imposing his carbon tax agenda on provinces. He will impose something that we have never had before in this country, which is a jurisdiction-specific tax, which is to say that people in one province have to pay a tax that people in another province are not paying. It is really unprecedented in the federation that this kind of inequality in a tax imposed on citizens is designed to compel a provincial government to do something in its area of jurisdiction that is against its objectives.
In every case across the country where there is a carbon tax, GST will be imposed on that carbon tax. The carbon tax is not revenue-neutral for the federal government and the so-called federal backstop is not revenue-neutral either.
The government is saying that it will rebate some of the money, even most of the money, collected through the federal carbon tax, but we know it will not refund all of the money, and will collect GST on top of it. This will impose a big burden on Canadians.
I have outlined in a clear way the significant accomplishments of the previous government when it came to sustainability, but I will also add this, and it is not something we will hear from the government. It is important to underline that building pipelines is an environmental improvement. The new pipelines are good for the environment because they displace alternative transportation that is less environmentally friendly. If we can move more of our energy resources by pipeline, if we can access Canada's highly regulated, effective, environmentally sensitive and responsive energy sector with new markets, displacing other competitors by building energy infrastructure which is in itself clean, that is an environmental achievement.
The government needs to start recognizing that if it truly believes that the environment and the economy go hand in hand, then it needs to support the construction of new pipelines. New pipelines are sustainable because if we do not have new pipelines then we deepen the fiscal challenges that we face, the unsustainability of our fiscal policy. Also, we ensure that we can do better for the environment and for climate change by transporting our energy in a more efficient way.
Building pipelines is good for the environment and good for the economy. That is why pipelines were built under the previous government. In fact, four pipelines were approved and built under the previous government.
The first was the Enbridge Alberta Clipper project, which transports 450,000 barrels a day a distance of 1,590 kilometres. The application was filed in May of 2007. It was approved in February of 2008. Federal cabinet gave approval and the new pipeline was constructed and placed in service in April of 2010. The new pipeline carries our energy resources from Hardisty, Alberta to Gretna, Manitoba, where it crosses the U.S. border and carries on to Superior, Wisconsin. It is designed to be expanded to 800,000 barrels per day. It was filed in 2007, approved in 2008. Federal cabinet gave its approval and it was constructed and in service by 2010. That is how to build a pipeline, and we did it. It was good for economy and it was good for the environment. It was good for sustainability. That is an accomplishment that all Canadians can be proud of.
Second is the TransCanada Keystone. It carries 435,000 barrels a day a distance of 4,324 kilometres. The application was filed in December of 2006. It was approved in September of 2007. Federal cabinet gave it approval in November. It was constructed and placed in service in June of 2010. This new pipeline carries our energy resources from Hardisty, Alberta to Haskett, Manitoba, where it extends into the U.S. to Cushing, Oklahoma. That was a pipeline that was proposed, approved and constructed under the previous government. That was another achievement that was delivered.
The Kinder Morgan Anchor Loop carries 40,000 barrels a day a distance of 158 kilometres. On October 31, 2006 the NEB approved the expansion. It was constructed and put into service in 2008. It increased the capacity of the existing line significantly by those 40,000 barrels.
Finally, the Enbridge Line 9 reversal carries 300,000 barrels a day a distance of 639 kilometres. The application was filed in 2012 to reverse the flow of Line 9. It was approved in 2014. NEB granted conditional leave to open in 2015, and the reversal allowed the flow of 300,000 barrels a day of western crude into Quebec, displacing foreign crude oil.
These were all pipelines that helped us engage with the fundamental problem that Alberta faces today, which is the gap between what we are receiving for our oil and the global price. Pipelines were built that helped us displace foreign oil and ensure that Canadians could benefit from the opportunity to do ongoing commerce with each other. These were all significant accomplishments that were achieved under the previous government with respect to getting to real action on pipelines and the ensuing benefits for environmental sustainability.
There is this paradoxical rhetoric from our friends across the way. On the the one hand, they want to tout the shutting down of pipelines and, on the other hand, they want to say that they are actually trying to build pipelines. It is the most farcical set of contradictions one could imagine, in terms of the way in which they try to be on both sides of the fence. As I learned when I was a child, it is dangerous to try to be on both sides of the fence at once—