House of Commons Hansard #289 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was change.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share my time with the hard-working member for Langley—Aldergrove today.

When I was asked yesterday to speak to the latest Liberal cover-up, I said, “Sure, but which one?” Was it the cover-up on the outlook and program expenses in the budget? In the budget, in spite all the added funding that the Liberals are throwing out there for DND and indigenous infrastructure and the added money for the student summer jobs so that they could finance anti-oil protesters, real spending over the five years, as outlined in the budget, has actually dropped.

We asked the finance department, but it had no answer; it was covering up. PBO asked the government how it was going to accomplish that; Liberals refused to answer. I thought maybe the cover-up they wanted me to speak on was the Liberal Phoenix fiasco cover-up, when the Liberals refused to release the fact that IBM, which they blamed consistently over the last couple of years for their mess-up, had told them explicitly not to start the Phoenix program because it was not ready.

I wondered if the cover-up could be about the UBS rogue trader cover-up. The government has told an investigator it will take 800 years to get all the information released under the Access to Information Act. Perhaps this is Panama papers 2.0 they are trying to cover up.

Could it be the infrastructure cover-up, the billions and billions of infrastructure money that the PBO cannot seem to find? The Liberals had announced $14 billion in 2016, but the PBO could only find about seven billion dollars in the last budget. We asked, but the government refuses to answer. Perhaps it cannot answer.

Could it be the combat ship cost cover-up they wanted me to talk about? The Parliamentary Budget Officer, when trying to cost out the ships—which he figures to be about $60 billion, although some experts are now saying $100 billion—had to go to the United States to get costing on the Arleigh Burke class of destroyer in the U.S. and bring that information back to Canada to extrapolate costs for ours because the government refused to release the information on the costing. In fact, the government has refused to release the details of the request for proposal to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. We do not know how much even the main contractor is going to be paid on a cost plus basis. Will it be cost plus 10%, cost plus 18%? We do not know, because the government is covering up.

One thing we do know is that the main contractor will be allowed to sole-source to itself on the shipbuilding. It could take a $100-million contract, sole-source it one of its subsidiaries, add the unknown markup to it, and ding the taxpayers.

We asked the government how it is going to police this issue. It says it does not have an answer. I am not sure if the government does not have an answer or if it just will not give an answer.

What about the defence spending cover-up? The Liberals have talked about a 315% increase in defence spending over the years. We have not seen that kind of increase in spending since the Korean War. Defence experts say it is impossible, given the government's current procurement processing capacity, so we know they will not be able to get to that. Perhaps they can protect us from North Korean missiles with more announcements and speeches.

It turns out that my staff wanted me to talk about the carbon tax cover-up. I wish they had mentioned it from the beginning, because it could have saved a few minutes. I have asked my team to be more specific in the future.

We have asked the government time and again for information on its carbon tax initiative, and every time we do, we are hit with lukewarm talking points that give us nothing substantial beyond the holding lines. We know the government has done the costing, because we had the report. What we do not have is all the hidden information behind the report.

If the Liberals are so proud of their record on this issue, why do they not release the redacted information? A failure to disclose information tells me that they are hiding something. If they are not hiding anything, they should just simply disclose the information they have. They say they want a higher standard of debate in this place, but they give us nothing to work with, nothing to debate, because they are too afraid of the consequences of their actions.

The carbon taxes are of massive public interest. They affect everyone. We have a responsibility as elected officials to debate and discuss the effects of the federal legislation, and this plan will have large ramifications across the board. It raises the price of home heating, electricity, groceries, and gas, but the Liberals refuse to tell Canadians how much this tax hike will cost and what it will achieve. We know it is going to add about 11¢ per litre to the price of gas, something I am sure that people in B.C. would love to hear right now, but that is not all.

About 51% of Canadians heat their homes with natural gas, and experts claim that the carbon tax will add about $260 per year. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation figures it is going to cost every family about $2,500 per year. Trevor Tombe, at the University of Calgary, estimates a bit lower, but it is still about $1,100.

I know people on that side of the House probably think it is not that much money, but $1,100 to $2,500 per family is a lot of money. Average family income before tax is $80,000 a year, so it is a 3% tax grab on pre-tax dollars just for the carbon tax. It could be rent payments, sports for the kids, university tuition. These are all things that Canadian families can kiss goodbye thanks to this costly plan, but the government refuses to come clean on it.

The environment minister told us that a price on carbon could have to go as high as $100 per tonne in 2020 and $300 per tonne in 2050 to meet the government's 2030 targets, but that is not just individual costs; the carbon tax will have a huge impact on Alberta's oil and gas sector as well. Last week, I had a round table with various groups from the energy sector, including academia, labour groups, business groups, and provincial partners, and it was clear that the biggest barrier to growth and economic prosperity in Alberta is investment fleeing from our energy sector and from the carbon tax. The carbon tax makes everything we produce more uncompetitive. It punishes places of worship and the not-for-profits. The Edmonton Food Bank, for example, is getting hit with thousands of dollars of added costs, and a not-for-profit cannot just pass these costs on to customers.

We met with the local cement industry. It is losing out on government contracts because it cannot compete with Chinese bidders because of the added price of a carbon tax. Let us just think about it. Taxpayers' money is going to a foreign competitor that has a horrible environmental record because we have handicapped our cleaner and local industries.

This is what Dr. Andrew Leach talks about when he refers to the carbon leakage. In the end, we are not reducing overall carbon emissions worldwide; we're just moving it to other jurisdictions, mostly with worse environmental standards. The energy sector needs job-creating policy and proposals, not more regulation and higher taxes to operate. Nothing drives away business investment quite like a commitment against business investment, such as we have seen with the government giving taxpayers' money to fund anti-oil protesters.

We have repeatedly asked how much the Liberal carbon tax will cost families, but the Prime Minister and the Minister of Environment have flat out refused to answer. If the government will not tell us the cost of its carbon tax, how can it expect Canadians to trust it at all? It is time to table the fully unredacted report. It is time to tell the House, and Canadians as well, what the carbon tax is going to cost Canadians.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer expects a full $10-billion hit to the economy because of the carbon tax. We have seen the GST on the carbon tax. It is a tax on the tax. It is costing Albertans, people in Ontario, and British Columbians a third of a billion dollars. My colleague from Langley—Aldergrove put through a private member's bill to stop this tax on a tax, but the Liberal government simply says it is not a tax but a levy, and it will continue to charge what it calls a revenue-neutral tax, which we know is a sham.

Again, I ask the government to table the full unredacted report. It is time to come clean. It is time to end the Liberal carbon tax cover-up.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Joyce Murray LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to know where to even start with the remarks made by the member for Edmonton West. He is a member of a party that has done nothing but try to block action on climate change for two decades. No matter what was proposed by a Liberal government, or even Liberals in opposition, members of his party had reasons that it would not work. There is no right way to proceed, according to the Conservative Party.

What I want to point out is that putting a price on carbon pollution, taking action on climate change, is a huge piece of a smart economic policy, because of all of the opportunities around the clean energy economy.

The Cement Association of Canada basically congratulated the Province of Ontario for its climate plan, saying it is important that it is a leader in the transition to the low-carbon economy. The cement association is calling on government to do more.

I would like to ask the member for Edmonton West this question: how can Canada actually participate in the global clean energy investments of $333 billion last year if we are a climate laggard and do absolutely nothing to reduce our emissions here in Canada?

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, the debate we are having today is about the Liberal carbon tax cover-up. We know how much the cost is going to be to Canadian families. Finance has it. The Liberals submitted the report and said they have it but they would block everything. That is what this debate is about: why they will not release how much it is going to cost Canadian families. If they are so confident that this is the cat's pyjamas of fixing climate change, why would they not simply release the information? That is what we are asking the government to do: end the cover-up and release the information.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will do something I do not often do, which is to quote the former treasury secretary of the United States, Mr. Robert Rubin, from The Washington Post:

The real question should be: What is the cost of inaction? In my view—and in the view of a growing group of business people, economists, and other financial and market experts—the cost of inaction over the long term is far greater than the cost of action.

I ask my colleague why he would oppose business people, bankers, and economists. There is a huge consensus out there that the cost of inaction is way greater and that we have to at least do something.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, the question in this debate is what it is going to cost Canadian families. We on this side of the House, in the Conservative Party, are concerned for Canadian taxpayers. We are concerned because they should be able to pay for groceries, taxes, and rent, and not have to put one aside so they can pay the carbon tax. The question is how much the carbon tax is going to cost Canadian families. The government knows what it is, and we would like that answer.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will follow up on the last question from my hon. colleague from Vancouver Quadra. The carbon tax approach to reducing greenhouse gases is accepted by experts globally, including The Economist and the International Monetary Fund. It is very establishment-accepted by economists that it is a precursor to basically correct a market failure by making it cost something to dump pollution in our shared atmosphere. At the same time, we need to take steps to eliminate subsidies.

However, these are just foundational steps. They are insufficient to actually address the threat we are facing with the climate crisis.

Has my hon. colleague studied the estimates that the Canadian economy could be experiencing losses of billions or tens of billions of dollars a year by failing to take action?

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member talks about costs to the economy. We know what the cost to the economy of the carbon tax will be. The PBO says it is going to be a $10-billion cost to the economy and to Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to speak on this important issue. I want to thank the member for Edmonton West for his incredible passion for the environment. I appreciate his good work in representing his community well.

The question before us today is how much the carbon tax will cost the average Canadian. That is an important question. When people go shopping and see something they like, the first thing that comes to mind is whether they need it. Although it may look nice, they would ask themselves if they need it and how much it costs. We were looking to downsize, because as we age we do not need as big a house as we do not have the kids. Therefore, we wanted to downsize to a much more energy-efficient home. We found something that had a master bedroom on the main floor. I liked it. It looked good, and it would work for us. It would make livability greater and easier as it was much smaller. However, how much does it cost? That is the first thing Canadians ask. That is the normal process. Whether it is clothing or food, we would look at something and ask ourselves whether we need it and how much it costs.

When we go to a restaurant, the first thing we look at is the menu. Can members imagine if none of the items on the menu had prices? What does that tell us? It tells us that we might want to leave because we have no idea what it is going to cost. That is not fair. If there are no prices on the menu, that is a great hint that it is going to cost a lot of money. Whatever the example, Canadians deserve to know what it will cost and whether it will work.

We have heard great speeches. The Liberals have practised their talking points, for years, actually. I am looking back to the previous report from the environment commissioner, where she said that there was a great gap between what the Liberals say and what they actually do, and that good intentions are not enough. She also said, “When it comes to protecting the environment, bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground.... The federal government seems to have trouble crossing the finish line.” Nothing has changed. There are great announcements, great platitudes, and great talking points.

I can speak first-hand with respect to this. Canadians from the riding of Langley—Aldergrove, which I am honoured to represent, love protecting the environment. They want clean streams and clean air, not only for themselves but for their children and grandchildren. It is a community in the suburbs of Vancouver that puts a high importance on clean environment. Every year since I became a member of Parliament we nominate people who are recognized as environmental heroes in three different categories: business, youth, and individual. Every year we recognize them, and a brass plaque is put at the bottom of a tree at the national historic sites, such as the fort in Fort Langley. The environment is very important. However, these people have to drive because public transit is very limited. In Canada, public transit does not meet all our needs, so Canadians have to drive their vehicles.

The plan with respect to the carbon tax is to tax people to the level where they will stop driving their cars. If we make it so onerous, they will have to change those habits of using carbon, such as using gasoline in their cars or heating their homes. The Liberals want the temperature in homes to be lowered to the point that we start putting on sweaters. This is what we are talking about. If the price of carbon goes high enough, it will affect people's behaviour.

What is the price of gasoline in Vancouver right now? It is $1.629 a litre, and that is for regular. That is the highest in North America. Now, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment said that people in Langley should be applauding this. He said that just 10 minutes ago.

In the former Parliament, I was the parliamentary secretary for the minister of the environment, and we did a good job. I was in Copenhagen preparing for one of the COP meetings, and we set the targets as a government. We said that to reduce carbon emissions globally, everybody has to participate and not just Canada.

We set a good example. We set targets, and those same targets are the targets that the current government has adopted. The Liberals are using the former Conservative government targets. The targets are good and they are achievable, but how are the Liberals going to do it? They are going to do it by raising taxes for all Canadians to the point where they start to groan—not applaud, but groan. It is absolutely wrong.

Therefore, Canadians want to know what it is going to cost, and whether it will work. That is the other question. Will raising the carbon tax on everything have the desired effect? Will it reduce global emissions and greenhouse gas emissions coming out of Canada?

We have heard a lot of promises from the Liberal government. One of the promises about this new carbon tax is that the provinces will have to put it in, as is mandated, and if they do not, it will be forced on them. Also, it will be federally revenue-neutral. Is that true? Well, we looked, and sure enough, in last year's budget there was a massive increase in GST benefits. Where is that coming from? It is GST on the carbon tax. It is a tax on a tax. Canadians were not applauding. They were groaning and saying that it is not fair to charge tax on a tax. The GST is a tax on goods and services. Is the carbon tax a good? No, it is not. Is it a service? No. Is it an onerous burden? Yes. Is that what we are supposed to be charging tax on? No.

The Prime Minister said that it would be revenue-neutral. Of course, Conservatives want to make sure that the government is keeping its promises, so we helped it. I was honoured to introduce Bill C-342, which is a very simple bill. The bill said that it is not fair to charge tax on a tax. Of course, Canadians expected every member of this Parliament to support a common-sense bill. It is a bill that would have helped the Liberal government keep its promises. Did it keep its promises? No. It was a sad day.

Therefore, we turn to the experts, if the government is not going to tell us how much this tax is going to cost: “just trust us”; “we know what we're doing”; “budgets do balance themselves”; “we'll just keep taxing until emissions come down”. However, emissions will come down if people cannot drive their cars. Emissions will come down if factories close, if jobs are lost, and if investment dollars leave Canada and go to another country where they are more competitive. Tomatoes will not be grown in greenhouses in Canada, because it will be cheaper to import them from Mexico. Pipelines will be stopped, so we will not have a way to move our natural resources. The government is funding protesters.

The trajectory we are on may reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but after the dust settles, it will be a disaster created by the Liberals. Lost jobs and people out of work are not what Canadians want.

The Liberals talk about social licence, but the only way the government will have social licence to proceed with this is if it is honest and open.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, I listened to yet another Conservative speech. The Conservatives talk about their environmental achievement of reducing greenhouse gas emissions during their term in office. However, there were two things that did that. One was Ontario getting out of coal and reducing the coal particulate in the air, which was hugely beneficial and has had massive savings for the health care budget in Ontario.

However, the real thing that caused the greenhouse gas emissions to go lower during the Harper years was the global recession. In fact, Stephen Harper liked recessions so much that he tried to start a second one just as he was leaving office, which, coincidentally, he would have made deeper if the opposition had not gotten together and forced him into a massive investment in infrastructure to try to stimulate the economy, something the Conservatives continually oppose.

I know the member opposite was a proud member of the Harper government. If recessions are his strategy, he must also admit that the document is a Harper document. It was written, researched, and commissioned before this government took office. It was released through the civil service the day after the election, before this government was sworn in. Therefore, it is the Conservatives' document. Did they not read it? Do they not remember what is in it? Why do they not ask one of their cabinet colleagues what is in it? Why have they forgotten even their own work? On the other hand, I might want to forget their work.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for acknowledging that the targets the Liberal government is using are actually aggressive, achievable targets set by the previous Conservative government.

I am proud of what we did on efficiencies. It was a tough time during the 2008 global recession. Our government was recognized internationally as the strongest economy in the world, and it was because of fiscal management. We made sure that every dollar was spent carefully and invested for the future of Canadians, and also with a clean environment.

Emissions were reduced because of efficiencies. Appliances are using less energy. Vehicles are using less energy. That started with the 2011 model. We became government in 2006, and we were elected as government again in 2011. During those nine years in government, there was the home improvement, energy improvement tax benefit. Whether it had to do with homes, vehicles, or industries, everything became more efficient.

We brought down our greenhouse gas emissions without a carbon tax. How much will the carbon tax cost Canadian families?

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, many folks maybe would not appreciate this, seeing the member's policies and my very different set of ideas for the country, but he and I enjoy each other's company.

We agree with the principle that the Liberals ran on, which was “open by default”, that information should be available and understandable, in terms of government policies. We think that was a laudable promise the Liberals made when they were running for office. The idea of having this information about a government policy be open is a laudable one.

Earlier today we tried to modify the Conservatives' motion to suggest that the government should also be open on the cost of inaction. We have known for many years, going all the way back to the Nicholas Stern report of 2006, when the member's party formed government, that the costs of inaction on climate change to our economy and to the communities we represent were far in excess of anything anyone was proposing around the world.

In fact, there is the benefit side that often gets overlooked when carbon is priced, especially if that pricing is able to be diverted into the solutions, making life more affordable for Canadians, whether it is home heating, as the member talked about, transportation for families, or the cost of producing energy generally.

If it is reasonable to ask the government what the cost of carbon pricing across the country is for individual families, is it not also reasonable to ask the government to come forward with the cost of inaction on those same families? Those costs are real. They affect the natural resource sector, which the member is well familiar with, the fishing sector, and people's daily lives. Things become more expensive because of inaction on the part of successive governments to properly address climate change.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was the parliamentary secretary to the environment and the member was the critic holding the government to account. He did a good job. We do disagree on some things, but we do agree on affordability.

What the government is doing with massive tax increases, and I believe the reason it is not answering the question of what it will cost the average Canadian family is it just wants to wait until Canadians start to groan. Life is becoming unaffordable because of the Liberals' tactics and tax increases.

It is not right. Canadians are groaning, and they are asking for relief. An increasing carbon tax will only hurt more Canadians and make things more unaffordable. I hope I can get the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley to agree that not answering questions on the carbon tax is why we need to have honesty from the government.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg North.

I rise today to contribute to the case for a price on pollution, to give households and businesses a powerful incentive to save money by making greener choices, to provide clear direction and incentives for the further development of Canada's clean-tech sector, to strengthen our ever-improving international reputation, and as a key aspect of our clean growth and climate plan.

Pricing carbon pollution works. This is a key result of the new analysis that our government published earlier this week. The study found that by 2022, a nationwide price on carbon pollution that meets the federal standard would eliminate 80 million to 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This is a major contribution to meeting Canada's climate target under the Paris Agreement. It is the equivalent of taking between 23 million and 26 million cars off the road for a year. To put it in context, our government's decision to phase out coal-fired electricity, a very important step to protect the health of Canadians as well as to address climate change, is estimated to cut carbon pollution by 16 million tonnes in 2030. Our analysis finds that pricing carbon pollution will deliver five times the reductions of phasing out coal.

Our carbon pricing study also found that growth would remain strong with a nationwide price on carbon pollution. Canada's GDP is expected to grow by about 2% a year between now and 2022 without carbon pricing.

Pricing pollution is a win for the environment and for the economy. It is the approach that economists overwhelmingly recommend. It is the policy that over 30 governments and 150 businesses have come together to support through the international Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, a group that includes Canada's five major banks alongside Canadian companies in the consumer goods, energy, and resource development sectors, and yet members of the party opposite said that they plan to reach our Paris Agreement targets without putting a price on carbon. This makes absolutely no sense, and it most certainly does not reflect a sound risk management approach or a vision for Canada's innovation economy.

Acting on climate change is a shared responsibility. Our government has developed Canada's clean growth and climate action plan in partnership with provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples. Provinces have been leaders in pricing pollution when the federal government under former prime minister Harper was afraid to act. I am particularly proud, of course, of British Columbia's leadership in this regard, and I recall a decade of absolutely no support whatsoever, in fact, regression, on the part of the federal government at that time.

Our pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon intends to ensure a level playing field on carbon pricing across the country. The approach will expand the application of carbon already in place in Canada's four largest provinces to the rest of Canada. Right now, four out of five Canadians live in jurisdictions that are already pricing carbon. Those four provinces, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia, are also the provinces that led the country in economic growth last year.

Under Canada's clean growth and climate action plan, revenues from pricing pollution will always be returned to the province or territory they come from. If a province or territory adopts its own carbon pricing system that meets the federal standard, that jurisdiction will decide how to use the revenues. In B.C. today, for instance, carbon pricing revenues fund tax cuts for small businesses and households. In Alberta, the revenues support rebates to families, action to phase out coal, and investment in energy efficiency. In Ontario, revenues from carbon pricing support clean energy, like solar panels. In Quebec, carbon pricing funds climate action, like investments in public transit. Carbon pricing is recognized as a cost-effective way to reduce emissions and stimulate clean growth.

The costs of inaction on climate change are significant. I recall when I was mayor of West Vancouver sitting in a seminar with Lloyd's of London representatives well over a decade ago, where the underwriters and insurance industry leaders globally expressed their growing concern regarding the cost of extreme and unpredictable storm events, patterns of human settlement, and which housing developments would be even worth underwriting. That was ages ago.

Some estimates suggest that climate change will cost Canada's economy $5 billion a year by 2020. We know from examples from around the world that putting a price on carbon pollution helps to drive innovation and create good, middle-class jobs. According to the World Bank, jurisdictions representing about half the global economy are putting a price on carbon, not even including China's national system, which was recently announced.

While it has been interesting to listen to the opposition as it looks in its rear-view mirror, pricing carbon pollution is the new normal. It spurs clean innovation, helping Canada to compete and prosper in the $23-trillion economic opportunity that clean growth represents around the world. Governments can and should design their carbon pricing systems to avoid putting extra financial pressure on low-income and middle-class households. For example, provinces can choose to provide money-back rebates, cut taxes, or fund discounts on energy saving programs and technology. That has certainly been borne out in British Columbia.

Governments in Canada are already making those choices. In Alberta, approximately 60% of households receive full or partial rebates to offset the cost of the carbon levy. Families that earn less than $95,000 a year receive a full rebate to offset the costs associated with the carbon levy.

Our government knows that pricing carbon pollution strengthens the economy and promotes a cleaner environment. This is the work that we are doing each and every day for our children and grandchildren to help Canadians prosper. The party opposite does not share that vision. Under Stephen Harper, the party opposite spent a decade failing to act to cut carbon pollution. Canadians deserve better. Canadians deserve a serious, smart, and thoughtful plan to protect the environment and grow the economy.

Putting a price on carbon pollution is an important aspect of our plan to transition and to grow a low-carbon economy.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, I think it was, the member for Nunavut asked a very pointed question about the extraordinary negative effect of the carbon tax on Nunavut and Arctic communities. I happen to represent a very large rural riding the size of Nova Scotia, where there is no public transit, communities are dispersed, and people are dispersed. My constituency is actually one of the lowest-income constituencies in the country. The effect of the carbon tax, and with the GST tacked on top of the tax, will be abnormally large for northern and rural communities.

I noticed in my colleague's speech that she did not mention those communities once. They are considered an afterthought by the government. Why is the government being so callous toward rural and northern communities, and also to people on low incomes who often, especially as we can see in Ontario with its ridiculous energy policies, have a choice every day to heat or eat?

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, of all the parts of Canada that are most likely to be most severely affected by climate change, it is the north. Of course, that is front and centre in our thinking, and we are taking multiple actions along with putting a price on carbon pollution. We are accelerating the phase-out of traditional coal power. We are making historic investments in cleaner infrastructures, including what works best for the north. We are putting a price on carbon pollution to grow the economy in cleaner ways. Of course, quality of life in the north and for Inuit peoples matters.

I am also interested in the member's view of how the opposition is representing the CEOs, for instance, of Imperial Oil, Irving Oil, or Shell, all of whom are advocating for a price on carbon pollution. They are the very ones who are going to be spawning innovation in the energy sector.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I actually had some hope because I have noticed a number of Conservative commentators, and some Conservative politicians, over the last number of years conceding to the idea and admitting that climate change is real, and that to put a price on carbon pollution is a realistic, and maybe even a good initiative.

I think this version of the Conservative Party may be regressing back to the norm, which happens, yet over the weekend it suggested that it can meet the Paris climate target with a plan that has not yet been articulated but it will be, one day. Meanwhile, the Liberal government is completely off its Paris commitments. I will be more than curious, as Canadians will be as well.

The member's government did promise to be open by default with information about government policies. This is a pretty big government policy. A pan-Canadian carbon price is a big deal. The Liberals certainly make a big deal out of it and it is an important thing that they have decided to enact. Talking about what the carbon price will mean is a way for Canadians to digest it, because when talking in megatonnes and parts per million, it is a difficult thing for people to grasp.

I wonder if the government would move in a direction to counter the argument that it is all negative when pricing carbon, and talk about what the cost of inaction is to the Canadian economy. What is the cost of making things worse to the Canadian economy, to coastal communities like the member's and mine? If we do not act on this, and if we continue to build pipelines, for example, what is the cost to the B.C. economy when it comes to tourism and the fisheries? If we do not act on climate change, what is the cost to our families and the families we represent?

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that pollution is not free. We see the costs in droughts, floods, extreme weather events, and the impacts on our health. From 1983 to 2004, insurance claims in Canada from severe weather events totalled almost $400 million a year. In the past decade, that amount has tripled to more than $1 billion a year. Climate change is expected to cost Canada's economy $5 billion a year by 2020 and as much as $43 billion a year by 2050.

We are clearly in this together. We are clearly all feeling the effects of climate change. I am looking forward to seeing clear support for a price on carbon pollution.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and address the important issue of a price on pollution.

In listening to many of the Conservatives who stood in their place to contribute to the discussion, one would quickly conclude that they continue to disregard what Canadians are thinking on this important issue.

The idea that technology can make our planet a better place to work and that the government has a role in investing in greener technology or in providing incentives, working with stakeholders, particularly provincial governments, to have a positive impact on both the economy and the environment is something that seems to somewhat escape the Conservatives.

I want to highlight one industry in particular, that being farming, and what a lot of us could learn from our farmers. Thanks to our hard-working farmers, today Canada's agriculture and food system is a powerful driver of our economy. It generates $111.9 billion of our GDP, over $64 billion of our exports, and one in eight jobs. Our farmers have done all that while leading the way in responsible environmental stewardship.

The sector has a solid track record in innovation and the adoption of new technologies that have reduced GHG emissions. From drones to GPS systems, farmers are using precision farming to make sure that they are making the most efficient use of chemicals and fertilizers. Innovation in land management, feeding, breeding, and genetics are helping our farmers feed the world while lessening the sector's environmental footprint.

Increased adoption by Canadian producers of conservation tillage and reduced summer fallow have increased the amount of carbon stored in soil. Leaving plant material on the ground reduces soil erosion, retains moisture, builds organic matter, and captures carbon in the soil. No-till was pioneered by scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Today almost 50 million acres of Canadian farmland is no-till.

Last year, in parts of the Prairies, there was less rain than during the famous dust bowl of the 1930s, yet farmers in the area did not have a complete crop failure. Overall, the grain harvest in western Canada was the third highest on record, and that is thanks to technologies like soil conservation and world-class plant genetics.

The sector has also reduced livestock emissions through improved feeding, breeding, and dedicated research. Thanks to these advancements over the past three decades, greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of beef have declined by 15%. As a result, Canadian beef has among the lowest carbon footprint in the world. A glass of milk today has one-third the carbon footprint it did in the 1950s. It is all about using technology to work smarter, and it makes sense for both the environment and the farmer's bottom line.

Look at what this government has been able to accomplish in the last two and a half years, whether it is in negotiations with international leaders or here on the national scene.

Shortly after the last federal election, the Prime Minister went to Paris, where an agreement was achieved. Working with indigenous people, provinces, and territories, we were able to bring home what took place in Paris, where governments all around the world reached an agreement. We were able to arrive at a consensus here in Canada that putting a price on carbon was the way to go. Not only the federal government here in Canada but governments around the world have recognized the value of this.

Let us talk about lost opportunities. We can talk about the Conservative approach to the environment and the need to advance a cleaner, healthier environment into the future. That is a lost opportunity.

The current leader, who is often confused with a Harper look-alike with a smile, said that he has a plan. The Conservative Party has a plan, but it does not want to share that plan. It says that we should wait until the election comes rolling around, and then it will share that plan. That plan is no plan, the same plan Stephen Harper had. There is no difference. People will find it challenging to find a difference between the current Conservative Party and the Harper government Canadians voted against. They wanted a change.

Yesterday, when the former prime minister's name came up, opposition members from the Conservative Party were cheering, as if they missed the guy. Most Canadians do not miss Stephen Harper. They recognize that it was important to have that change, yet the Conservative Party still believes that change is not necessary and that it is okay to have no plan when it comes to the environment. All the Conservatives do is criticize and say that a price on pollution is a bad thing and that Canadians do not support it, even though 80% of Canadians are already familiar with paying a price on carbon in one form or another.

When the Conservatives are confronted with facts, they deny them. It is not like a price on carbon is absolutely new to Canadians. It has been in the province of British Columbia for around 10 years. If we look at what is happening in British Columbia, it is not suffering as a result of having a price on pollution. Its economy is doing exceptionally well. It is either first or second, depending on the years we look at. Some may say that the overall emissions have gone up, but the overall population of British Columbia has gone up, as it has been and continues to be a major attraction for people.

The point is that it has a price on carbon, and it is not the only jurisdiction that does. Eight of the 10 provinces already have some form of price on pollution in place. It seems to me that the only ones who are adamantly against it are members of the Conservative Party of Canada. That is why I highlight the fact that they continue to be out of touch with what Canadians are thinking. They are still living in the past. They need to wake up and understand that the economy and the environment can go hand in hand in prospering our country, enhancing our middle class, and creating green jobs in the future that have the potential to expand our economy. By having a healthier economy, we will have a healthier middle class. We do not have to fear a greener economy.

I remember having a tour of a facility in Winnipeg North a number of years ago that was taking some of the ingredients from used shingle tiles from roofs and putting them into asphalt. At one time, we would take the shingles from roofs and pay a landfill $40 or $50 to dump them there. Now they are being recycled. In many ways, companies pay now to receive shingles.

The technology is there. We have many scientists and engineers in Canada who are eager to take on this whole idea. We finally have a government that has recognized it and has provided resources and support to ensure that we continue to advance.

Much like our farming industry, there is good reason for us to be optimistic that a price on pollution, in the long term, will generate jobs and opportunities, and we will have a healthier economy and a healthier environment.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for highlighting farmers. I represent a riding that is urban-rural. Some of the best farmers in Canada are in the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga. I thank him for highlighting the conservation elements our farmers are taking part in, such as no-till farming, which is reducing fuel costs, reducing compaction, and increasing yields. We all know that.

I contacted a farmer in my riding and asked him what the potential impact would be of 12¢ a litre on diesel fuel. He uses 50,000 litres per year in his tractors. This farmer would be paying $6,000 just for the extra tax on carbon. That is not counting the increased cost of getting feed to his farm or the increased cost of fertilizer. Those things are going to be added to that $6,000.

Does my colleague actually want to phase out the agriculture industry, the same way the Liberals are trying to phase out the energy sector? What would the carbon tax actually cost the average Canadian family? If he cannot answer what it would cost a farmer, what would it cost the average Canadian family?

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong in his overall assessment. What he does not factor in is that the provinces, through the generation of revenues on the price on carbon, will have the opportunity to redistribute the money that is collected. I suspect that the Government of Saskatchewan, much like the Government of Alberta and hopefully my home province of Manitoba, will continue to value the fine work farmers are doing and the many initiatives they are taking on themselves to advance a healthier economy and a healthier environment. They can do that through giving program incentives or direct cash to farmers, if they want. There are all sorts of mechanisms.

I was a provincial politician for many years, and I can say that there is no shortage of ideas on how we can assist farmers, whether directly or indirectly, and provide incentives for them to continue the fine work they have done to produce some of the very best crops in the world, along with beef, pork, chicken, and just name it. Our farmers are the best and will continue to be so.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have seen first-hand the impact of climate change. I was evacuated from my home in Calgary in 2013 during the floods. We have seen reports recently pegging the cost of climate change to Canada in the range of $43 billion by the year 2050. I would ask the hon. member if he thinks that the policies being put forward today are going to help mitigate that cost and also create additional economic opportunities for businesses to put middle-class Canadians to work.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member is 100% right. It will assist us in having not only a healthier environment but a healthier economy. Over the next two to four years, we will continue to see more green jobs being developed. Those are valuable jobs.

This government has been very aggressive. If we think of the budget announcements we have made consistently while working with Canadians, not only are we promoting and encouraging a greener economy but we are generating thousands of jobs. I believe it is well over 600,000 jobs. Former prime minister Stephen Harper never came close to the job numbers we have been able to generate. Even though Stephen Harper could not get a pipeline built to tidewater, we now have one that is in process.

Managing the economy while protecting our environment is a top priority. It generates the type of economic activity that all Canadians want. It also provides protection of our environment, which, again, all Canadians want. We can have both. It just takes a little more work, and this government is prepared to work.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

It was with great hilarity that I listened to my Manitoba colleague's speech. One thing that I noticed was that not a single number came out of his mouth. It was all straight opinion.

Numbers are important. If there is no talk about numbers, there is no talk about environmental policy. If there are no numbers, there are no facts. Numbers are, in essence, science. The government professes to support science, but let us notice how it obfuscates, skates around issues, and presents no proof of what it says. It simply does not care about science.

I would like to quote a sage from 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates of Kos, who said, “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” All I heard from the member opposite was nothing but opinions.

Let us look at the numbers regarding the carbon tax, which is the signature policy of the government in terms of the cost to the economy. One would think that the government would use metrics, but knowing the government's proclivity for obfuscation, there are two possibilities: either the government knows the real number in terms of the cost to the economy but will not tell, or it is blindly charging ahead with no idea of the effect on the environment or the economy.

Interestingly, my colleague from Manitoba talked about B.C. and all that kind of stuff. I am going to segue into a letter from a citizen from Seattle. He was talking about the activists in B.C. He said, “Thanks to [those activists] who seem to have once again to have blocked an oil pipeline to the coast. Those of us living south of the border will continue to enjoy importing your oil at substantial discounts while exporting our oil from Gulf ports at world market prices. Your gift to us, around $100 million per day Canadian, is greatly appreciated. We marvel at your generosity while doubting your sanity. All of this will have zero impact on the global climate, of course.”

Again, the effects of what the government is doing in terms of blocking Canada's oil exports and in terms of its climate pricing are truly daunting.

A few weeks ago, I challenged the environment minister in committee to provide a number in terms of how much reduction there would be in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the carbon tax. I demanded answers. She was just going around and around. Throughout her answer, I asked, “What is the number? What is the number?” Naturally, she gave us nothing. In fact, the exchange was so hilarious that it was featured on This Hour has 22 Minutes. The whole segment was on how the government provides no answers to any specific questions.

Let us come up with a few answers for the effect on the economy of a $50-a-tonne carbon tax, which is what the government wants. A $50-a-tonne carbon tax will increase fuel prices by 11.6¢ per litre. Canadians can go to the natural resources website and see that Canada consumes about 105 billion litres per year of domestic fuel, so when we do the math, we see that Canadians will pay about an extra $12 billion per year for domestic fuel. That means the average family, just for that alone, will pay between $1,000 and $2,000 per year extra.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has a very interesting article, headed “PBO says carbon tax will knock $10 billion off GDP by 2022”.

It said:

The government's carbon pricing plan will cause the GDP to drop, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's (PBO) latest report, costing Canadians $10 billion they would otherwise have gained by 2022.

The article went on to say:

The report warns that the levy will “generate a headwind” for the economy as the price on carbon is boosted from $10 per tonne of CO2 in 2018 to $50 per tonne in 2022.

It adds, “...in economic terms, headwinds aren't a good thing.”

In terms of the effect on rural and northern communities and poor people, the member for Nunavut—and I spent a fair bit of time in Nunavut myself in a previous life—spoke at length. He asked the parliamentary secretary about some kind of price relief for the Nunavummiut. Anyone who has been to any community in Nunavut—indeed, in much of the Northwest Territories as well—will know diesel fuel powers those communities. Also, snowmobiles are very expensive and use a lot of fuel. They are vital for the hunting, trapping, and fishing that people in those regions engage in. The answer the parliamentary secretary gave was basically that they would look at it and think of something.

My own riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa is the size of Nova Scotia. It is a very dispersed riding, with lots of small and remote communities and lots of wide open spaces. There is no public transportation, so people have to drive, regardless of their income. My constituency is one of the lower-income constituencies in Canada. Not only are our people forced to use their vehicles—keep in mind we love our pickup trucks—but so are farmers. The member opposite went on about agriculture. We agree how terrific our farmers are, as the member for Kitchener—Conestoga pointed out so eloquently. Community farmers are price-takers and not price-makers. They will not be able to recover those carbon tax costs. I go back to the point that rural people have no option but to drive.

Going back to the cost of carbon tax, there was a report done by Chris Ragan, the chair of Canada's Ecofiscal Commission. He pointed out that Canada currently emits 700 million tonnes of emissions annually. A price of $50 per tonne placed on these emissions comes to $35 billion, and in an interview he said that this is not the most efficient model for growing the economy. He went on to say, “The best way, if you really care about economic growth, is you use the revenue from a carbon price to reduce the most growth retarding tax we have, which is a corporate income tax.”

Thirty-five billion dollars per year is the upper estimate, so it would be between $10 billion and $30 billion per year.

Again, a report from the Conference Board of Canada states that carbon pricing alone can't meet Canada's GHG reduction targets.

The government's record on the environment is absolutely appalling. It is long on rhetoric but woefully short of results. It is appalling hypocrisy. Montreal and Quebec were allowed to discharge millions of litres of sewage. What did we hear from the other side? We heard crickets. Victoria is currently dumping raw sewage. The wetlands fund and the recreational fisheries conservation partnership program were cancelled.

We ask ourselves what the outcome of the carbon tax will be. It should be a truism in environmental policy that when one does an environmental project, there is an environmental outcome. If a scrubber is put on a smokestack, SO2 is reduced. What is the outcome of the carbon tax?

When Conservatives do environmental policy, we insist on real and measurable results for environmental programs and policies. For example, when Brian Mulroney was prime minister, he negotiated the acid rain treaty. Those were very tough, tense negotiations with the Americans, but there was a clear and definite result for our environment. Our government would put in place new parks, remediate contaminated sites, restore wetland funds, and on and on, producing real results.

Given the flaws in the government's carbon tax plan and the cascading of the GST on top of the carbon tax, which will result in significant cost to Canadian families and the economy, I am very pleased to support the motion by my colleague.

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 1st, 2018 / 1:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Joyce Murray LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa and his colleagues know very well, the costs and benefits to families will be determined by the provincial program to apply the price on pollution and to determine how that gets reinvested into their communities. They know very well that there is not such a thing as a simple cost for families, because it depends. It could be a benefit for families, and I hope that in his community his province will structure it so that rural and remote communities benefit, just as was done in British Columbia.

We know this is a false question and a false choice. We know that the answer is in the hands of the provinces in terms of how they apply this measure. Then one must ask what they are really trying to do. Is this another step in trying to undermine any action to actually have real, measurable results on climate?

The member asked for numbers. I will give him some numbers: 3,000 new Amazon jobs in Vancouver right now; over 100,000 clean-tech jobs in British Columbia, because of putting a price on carbon; $333 billion in global clean energy investment. Why would the members want to undermine and frustrate the ability of Canadians to take part in the growing clean-tech sector by always trying to block anything that would constitute action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Opposition Motion—Production of Documents on the Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Mr. Speaker, under our government, the clean-tech sector thrived. If one looked at environmental indicators by number, almost all of them improved under our watch, because we wanted real results. In 2006, GHG emissions were 740 tonnes and in 2015 it was 722. That was a real result.

I noticed that the member opposite said it “could be” a benefit, so obviously for many citizens it will simply not be a benefit, especially those who live in rural areas. I have also been provided with anecdotal evidence—and I do not really like anecdotes, but numbers—that the number of people from B.C. buying gas in the United States is growing by leaps and bounds.

For the member to take credit for Amazon moving to Vancouver because of a carbon tax is absolutely ridiculous.