Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate today. For people who are watching on TV or following the debate in the galleries, Bill C-57 is one of those pieces of legislation that would be in many ways be viewed more as a process piece of legislation. It is not so much about a particular policy; it is about how to set up the particular processes, the mechanisms, the various government reports, etc. to come to a particular policy. Therefore, it is often fairly difficult to explain for people who do not live, breathe, and inhabit Parliament Hill why legislation needs to exist. However, we need certain processes and mechanisms to accomplish legislative aims.
What is fundamental about this bill is that it would expand the number of people who would be involved and the number of departments that would have to report. While that is all fairly interesting and probably useful in the long term, and may or may not have positive outcomes, I think the underlying question most Canadians want to ask is whether all these processes actually make for a better environment, do they get Canada where it wants to go. A process is only as useful as its end result.
Therefore, this is in many ways a difficult bill to comment about because we really do not know what the end result of all these changes to process will be.
What I will contribute to today's debate is to make some suggestions based upon the history and knowledge of what actually works in environmental policy, so when these processes come to fruition, the people who are involved in it will have some idea of what the various parliamentarians thought about what would be good input to have to create proper legislation in the future.
Again, to some degree, we are buying a pig in a poke today because the bill would create more fees and funding for people who would be on the advisory committees. It would require more departments to have more reports. Maybe that is good, maybe it is not, but as far as what the substance is to make the environment better, we really will not know based upon this legislation.
Let me give some advice for the House as to what has worked in history to make better, more proper, more positive environmental legislation.
For all the talk we have nowadays from the Liberal government about what works or what does not, the Liberals have not looked at the broader scope of world history to see what has fundamentally made our environment better. I know this may get some challenges from some parts of the House, but one of the things that has been most useful and successful as far as making the environment better has been the rise of capitalism and free enterprise.
Around the world, the countries that were the first and earliest to embrace capitalism and free enterprise now have the best environment. They may be drifting away from the free enterprise system, but systematically this is one of those things that cannot be disputed from history.
In places like Europe, which was having massive problems with deforestation, the Europeans brought in coal technology. The market brought it in to replace wood for energy. They began to use things like the market mechanisms to move food around the world. Ships that were run by oil, diesel, fuels, and coal were able to take food from parts of the world, such as North America, Europe, and various other places, and move it around.
How did that help the environment? Very simply, instead of local areas having to use their marginal resources to produce food, they were able to bring it from different parts of the world by using market mechanisms.
Technology has also helped to improve the environment. One of the ironies of the expanding debate around fracking and tight shale and different things about that, is these technologies have helped to create a greater supply of natural gas, lowering the price for natural gas which then replaces coal. I am no critic of the coal industry, but natural gas, when it is used for electricity, produces less greenhouse gases than coal.
Here is the irony. Petroleum engineers, through free enterprise, have done more to cut greenhouse gases than all the government regulations proposed by the various left-wing regimes around the world. If we look at the other place in the world, where there were major cuts to greenhouse gases, it was after the collapse of the Soviet communist bloc in Eastern Europe. They got rid of the heavy industry that was subsidized by the socialist-communist regimes of Eastern Europe. That was why the European Union was able to claim such massive credits. However, the irony of it all, for all the talk about regulation and taxation that the Liberal government puts forward, is that free enterprise and capitalism have actually done more for the environment than anything else. This is not surprising when we look at what people take responsibility for. They take responsibility for their own actions and their own property.
I used to live in the former Soviet Union for a short while as it was transitioning to becoming the various republics and independent nations it is now. I could see, as was to be expected, that people had environmental respect of their own property. However, the broader collectively-owned property did not. Free enterprise, responsibility, and all those basic things work to help protect the environment.
If we look at what the current government is doing, it has not been following those historical patterns. It has not looked at what broadly works to integrate with human nature to do it. Its ultimate policy is to do things like Bill C-57, which is about process, more talking, more reports, and more people being appointed to more committees to get more per diems and more payments, and so forth. Unfortunately that all tends to lead to more taxes and more regulation. The whole drive of the Liberal Party's environmental policy is to tax more and more.
What do people naturally do when they are taxed more? They do not necessarily change their behaviour in regard to the environment. They would if it were their own property and they needed to preserve and protect it. They do what people naturally should do. They try to avoid these carbon taxes.
I worked with the Saskatchewan Mining Association, which has been trying to communicate with the Minister of Environment, and not all that successfully I might add. However, it is very clear that it wants to work and do the best job it can for the environment. However, if the government overtaxes it with carbon taxes and regulations that have no basis in reality, its investment will move. Therefore, we do not actually clean up the environment. We do not actually have a better environmental outcome. What we do when we put on these carbon taxes and other regulations that are unnecessary for environmental improvement is that we move the industrial activity, hurt the Canadian economy, and do nothing to improve the environment.
If we tax electric plants in Canada that are generated by coal and we tax them so they move from Saskatchewan to North Dakota, all we have done is kill economic activity in Canada and moved it to the United States. We have not done anything to improve the environment.
This is what I encourage the government to do today. Process legislation is fine. Bills such as Bill C-57 could, if the process is actually implemented, do something positive.
Here is my challenge to other members of the House. When we look to support legislation, such as the bill before us, look to see what the historical record shows has been done to improve the environment. It has not been taxes, big government, or big government regulations. It has been people taking their own initiative under a free market, free enterprise systems, doing what they can with private property rights to improve it. That is what the historical record has shown and that is what we can expect to see in the future.
Again, a policy of big taxes, more regulation, and more government interference and bureaucracy will not improve the environment.
I realize I will not have convinced all of my hon. colleagues in the House, but I hope they are willing to enter into a discussion on what fundamentally will help improve the Canadian environment.