Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to be speaking to this important piece of legislation about the environment and sustainability.
There is a saying in politics that 24 hours is a long time. In the last day, we have had some seminal events with respect to the way the government is operating in terms of the economy and the environment, and also, by the way, in terms of this chamber. We have had closure brought forward three times in one day. That has to be a record. Certainly, if the government continues at this pace, it will far surpass the record of any previous administration with respect to closure. Three times in one day is quite something. It shows that it has no interest in meaningful dialogue on the legislation it has put forward. In many cases, it is doing this on omnibus bills, very long pieces of legislation that include many varied and different elements. For instance, it just brought forward closure on a bill dealing with criminal justice, with many different elements in it. It includes, as my colleagues have pointed out, reducing sentences, yet it tries to justify it by saying that there is something over here in the bill we might like. That is precisely the point when we have this omnibus legislation. That is part of the context. We are at close to 11 o'clock tonight debating Bill C-57, having had three different instances of closure brought forward today.
Speaking of the environment and sustainability, which is the core theme of this legislation, we also had the government announce today that the only way it can get a pipeline built is if it first buys a pipeline that is over 60 years old, and if it is able to work out all the legal wrangling through the courts and with the B.C. government, it will then go ahead and spend billions more of taxpayers' money to build that pipeline. That is not fiscally sustainable. If the government wants to establish a precedent that any time major economic development projects happen they will only happen if it is spending enormous amounts of taxpayers' money, that is not a fiscally sustainable model of economic growth.
Our approach, in the Conservative Party, is to establish the conditions that allow for private sector economic development. Under the previous government, there were four pipelines built. A fifth pipeline was approved. We hear the bizarre criticism from the government that the Conservatives did not build any pipelines to tidewater. Let us be clear. Up until now, at least, it has not been the government that has built pipelines. The government has evaluated and approved pipelines, or had the option of not approving them. However, in our case, we approved pipelines that had been proposed by the private sector. That included approving a pipeline to tidewater as well as approving and overseeing the construction of four pipelines.
From an environmental perspective, I think we should be very supportive of the development of pipelines, because transporting our energy resources through pipelines is a more environmentally sustainable way of proceeding. It is less costly, actually, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, to be transporting our energy resources by pipeline. Therefore, it is a win-win. It is a win economically and a win for the environment.
We often hear from the government that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. Sometimes they go hand in hand in the wrong direction, and sometimes they move hand in hand in the right direction. Under the current government, they are both moving in the wrong direction, I think. Under the previous government, we got pipelines built by creating conditions for the private sector to get that work done. That allowed for economic advancement for our country and also environmental improvements.
The previous Conservative government was the first government in Canadian history to oversee a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Our friends across the way are always very skeptical of this. They want to find reasons they cannot really credit it to us, and here are the arguments they use. They will try to say that the Conservatives cannot really take credit for the reduction in greenhouse emissions, because the reductions were the result of policies undertaken by the provinces. The response to that is that if we compare the record of the previous Conservative government to the Liberal government before it, we either had reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, or there was an increase that was lower than the increase in the previous period. In other words, there were improvements in terms of environmental performance in every jurisdiction, which suggests that it was not merely about things happening in individual jurisdictions, although there is obviously a role to be played there, but was a result of federal policy. That was the record of the previous government.
The current government will then say that it was only because of the recession. It is true that the Conservatives governed during a period when there was a global recession, yet at a time when global emissions went up, Canadian emissions went down, even though Canada was relatively less impacted by the global economic recession than many other countries. We were able to achieve environmental improvements at a time when the rest of the world did not, even though the rest of the world was more affected by the recession and therefore saw more constriction in terms of economic activity compared to what was happening in Canada.
If one puts those facts together and recognizes that the Conservatives undertook thoughtful, managed policies on environmental improvements, a regulatory sector-by-sector approach, one can see that we achieved real, substantial, and meaningful progress.
Here is the difference. We do not use the environment as an excuse to impose new taxes on low- and middle-income Canadians. We see the environment as an objective that can be pursued in concert with economic improvement. We can have a sustainable federal budget that does not involve massive deficits at the same time as concerning ourselves with sustainable environmental performance, in environmental terms.
If we look at the record of the previous Conservative government, we can see a strong economy as well as improvements in terms of the environment. I hate to be accused of plagiarism, but if we look at the record of the previous government, it does look like the environment and the economy were going hand in hand.
Under the current government, we see something quite different. We see a government totally unable to establish the conditions that allow for private sector investments in pipelines. In fact, what it is doing is buying out assets, which leads companies to then move that money and make those investments elsewhere. Kinder Morgan is going to spend the money it received from the Canadian government, but it is not going to spend it here in Canada. Very likely, it is going to spend it in other parts of the world.
The energy sector in other countries is doing very well, but we face continuing, significant challenges here in Canada as a result of the government's total inability to get these issues right. It is imposing more taxes on low- and middle-income Canadians through its carbon tax, and by the way, it is not telling people how much it will cost. We are still asking the government to come clean, end the carbon tax cover-up, and share with us the cost to individual Canadians of the carbon tax. It will not come clean with respect to that. It will not reveal the information and has only released severely redacted, blacked-out documents that prevent Canadians from actually seeing what the impact of that carbon tax will be.
The government thinks that imposing these new taxes on Canadians is somehow going to lead to solutions to our environmental challenges. If we want to see what sustainable development really looks like, we should look specifically at what happened in terms of economic performance and greenhouse gas reductions during the period of the previous government.
When we have this kind of big government intervention, the economy model the government has, it is not fiscally sustainable. It means leaving massive debt and deficits to the next generation, and it does not do much good for our environment, either.