House of Commons Hansard #303 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.

Topics

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:40 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

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.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:50 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I found that the hon. member's speech included some contradictions, and it certainly abstracted from certain realities.

The member mentioned at the beginning of his speech that the issue of the Trans Mountain pipeline is wrapped up in legal wrangling. Does the member believe that a Conservative government would eliminate legal wrangling? How would it do that? Would it eliminate the court system?

We have a court system in this country that environmentalists, provincial governments, and all kinds of intervenors and stakeholders can access. That is what has happened with the Trans Mountain pipeline project. It has become caught up in legal wrangling, and the government had to act in that context.

The member seems to think that somehow, with the wave of a magic wand, a Conservative government would eliminate all legal wrangling. I would like the hon. member to respond to that notion.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, it is with great sympathy and understanding that I acknowledge that for a Liberal, it would look like magic to do what I just described, which is establish the conditions that allow for private sector growth. It is not a thought experiment. Look at where we were in October 2015. Four pipelines had been built, the northern gateway project had been approved, and Trans Mountain and energy east were pipelines being proposed by private sector investors.

Where are we today? Energy east has been killed indirectly by the piling on of burdens. By the way, I would like to know what the Maritime Liberal MPs think about the total inaction on energy east in the midst of the government bailing out Trans Mountain, because we want to see energy east, as well. That pipeline is no longer being pursued by the private sector proponent. The northern gateway pipeline was killed directly and intentionally by government policy, and the only way the government thinks it can get Trans Mountain done is by buying it out.

That is not a question of magic. That is a question of the difference elections make. Elections have consequences, and in 2019, that election will have consequences as well.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to understand the Conservative position with regard to purchasing the pipeline and the intervention in market forces. Would they also consider that massive tax subsidization, through tax credits and subsidies, especially given the fact that a number of organizations and companies have paid very few taxes, also represents market intervention, since this reduces taxation amounts? Would they also consider subsidies, grants, and research credits advantages, where the public has subsidized the industry?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I know, of course, that the NDP does not take a consistent position in terms of corporate welfare in general. We would have to have a more detailed discussion about how it is defining “subsidy” in this specific context.

My colleague lumped a few things together in a way that seems a little bit imprecise to me. In general, I am not supportive, for instance, of direct government grants to private business and a government buying a pipeline in the way the government has. There is a legitimate place for non-refundable tax credits, like SR&ED credits. There is a legitimate place for an accelerated capital cost writeoff as an incentive for companies to make investments in Canada.

In general, we want to be competitive and encourage investments in Canada. I think the best way to do it is not through the government picking winners and losers through direct subsidies, but rather by establishing conditions and providing incentives to encourage those kinds of capital investments. I would encourage the NDP, when it looks at the oil and gas sector compared to other sectors, to at least take a consistent position, because some of the things it is criticizing in terms of tax credits in the energy sector seem like the same kinds of things it advocates for in sectors like the auto sector. We are very supportive—

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Unfortunately the time is up. I tried to let the member know that his time was running very short.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to present my thoughts on Bill C-57. I regret very much that we have time allocation on this bill, and even more so the hour of 11 p.m. that is now approaching. This important legislation deserves to be heard in a normal fashion with full debate.

Let me go back to when this bill originated. The Federal Sustainable Development Act was actually passed in the era of a Conservative government, and was one of those rare pieces of legislation that originated with the opposition. It was brought forward by a former Liberal MP, John Godfrey. It was one of his last contributions as a very diligent and thoughtful member of Parliament. He went on to leave Parliament and go back to his old stomping grounds of education.

Sustainable development and aspects of sustainable development had been in Canadian law before. This bill managed to get through Parliament in 2008, and the successor bill that we have before us tonight does improve some elements of sustainable development as originally put forward with a lot of co-operation in this place back in 2008. I was not yet a member of Parliament in that year, but I followed very closely the development of the Federal Sustainable Development Act because it was really a high-water mark for the minority-government years of former Prime Minister Harper, because opposition parties were willing to work together. The opposition parties had a majority, but very rarely used it. In this case, the Federal Sustainable Development Act was brought in. This act could have been improved and strengthened, but there is very little that I would say is wrong with it. I am disappointed that we will repeal the definition of the precautionary principle, but overall the bill will strengthen the application of sustainable development principles to more parts of the federal government, and I do like the creation of a sustainable development advisory council. The bill has real potential, but I do not think the government plans to do with it what I hope it will do.

Going back to the early 1960s, for decades the Canadian government benefited from well-researched, strong public policy advice from institutions that we no longer have. We used to have, starting in 1963, the Economic Council of Canada. We had as well the Science Council of Canada. In the early 1970s, we had the creation of the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council. In 1993, all three of those agencies were wound up and repealed. That meant we lost the Economic Council of Canada, the Science Council of Canada, and the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council. They were wound up and repealed because in 1993 the federal government brought in the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. This was our first substantial sustainable development tool. To quote the late Jim MacNeill, a brilliant Canadian diplomat and former deputy minister who really challenged the ideas of sustainable development, one of the core ideas was that “If we change the way we make decisions, we'll change the kind of decisions we make.”

The idea of the national round table was that by bringing together people from different perspectives, including trade unions, large corporate enterprises, academics, environmentalists, indigenous people, as well as government ministers and agencies and so on, the resulting give and take and shared learning would create decisions that met the challenge of sustainability, because sustainability is not the environment by itself. Sustainability has at least three legs to the stool. They are the environment, and social and economic concerns, but those are within a very clear mandate to ensure that the decisions we take today do not compromise the ability of future generations to make their own decisions and to meet their own needs. In other words, sustainability requires that we think about intergenerational equity.

Here I have to confess that I was a member and vice-chair for quite a while of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. Its work was substantial. I do not want to blow my own horn, but a lot of work was done by a lot of people over many years, and I served for only a relatively brief period.

In 2012, under omnibus budget Bill C-38, the national round table was eliminated. No one at that point said that we had better bring back all those other advisory bodies that we had eliminated in 1993 when we created the national round table. There is no longer the Economic Council, no longer the Science Council, no longer the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council, and there is no national round table.

This is the first time something has been created that could meet that need, namely a sustainable development advisory council. It is pretty thin gruel. It could do a lot. The Treasury Board within the act could establish policies or issue directives and could be adequately funding this new agency, which is quite modestly proposed in the act. That said, I certainly hope that the government will realize that we desperately need sound advice on what is sustainable and what is not.

Speaking of what is not sustainable, it includes today's announcement that the Government of Canada is going to form a crown corporation that will now be the management entity for a pipeline that the federal government proposes to buy with a closing date in August. I can only hope that something goes wrong with this sale because this is monstrous. We are proposing to spend $4.5 billion to buy the assets of what is called the Trans Mountain pipeline, but owned by Kinder Morgan of Houston, Texas.

The Trans Mountain pipeline was built in 1953 by a Canadian company with the goal of bring crude or synthetic crude to Burnaby, British Columbia, where over time they developed four refineries. The Trans Mountain pipeline was all about bringing Canadian crude from Alberta to Canadian refineries in the Lower Mainland for domestic use.

When Kinder Morgan bought the assets of Trans Mountain, which are now more than 60 years old, in its valuation to the National Energy Board, the company put the value of the Trans Mountain assets at $550 million. Those are the assets that today the Minister of Finance announced he would buy at a price of $4.5 billion. That is astonishing. Kinder Morgan has certainly achieved a very rich return on investment without having invested new infrastructure.

Kinder Morgan wanted to build a new pipeline, but I think it has lost interest in it. That is why it kidnapped its own project and said that if we did not have a solution by May 31, it would walk away. Clearly for political reasons, primarily for the impact in Alberta, the federal government decided that anything was preferable to having Kinder Morgan walk away, so it has done something astonishing. It is planning to spend $4.5 billion to buy the existing assets of the old pipeline and to take on, as yet undescribed by the Minister of Finance, but said by Kinder Morgan to be a $7.4 billion project to build the expansion. The government is taking on a project that has not yet cleared its conditions with the National Energy Board and is still before the courts in 15 different court cases for violation of indigenous rights, and is doing so with a completely scandalously inadequate environmental review before the National Energy Board within which evidence was put forward by Kinder Morgan and at which no intervenors were allowed to cross-examine.

We now find ourselves asking if the government understands sustainable development, because overarching all of this is the most fundamental and pressing question, what about the climate crisis? How can we possibly claim that Canada understands the pressing imperative of the transition away from fossil fuels, whether in 10, 20, or 30 years? We need to make plans. How can we understand the imperative of avoiding the kind of disaster that deprives not hypothetical future generations but our own children, children alive today that we tuck in at night? How can we possibly think we understand sustainability while building pipelines?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague quite rightly referred to the fact that the original sustainable development act was actually a collaboration within this very House, but in a previous Parliament. It was a minority government and it produced an act that all members in this House could support, one that reflected the appropriate balance between our social objectives, our environmental objectives, and our economic imperatives. Then that went on to result in a study that took place at the environment committee.

We studied the act as it had been implemented over a number of years. We found a number of shortcomings. We suggested improvements. Some of those improvements were actually incorporated into the bill we have before us, Bill C-57.

However, at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding. If a government does not want to apply the lens of sustainability, it will not, and quite frankly, I have serious reservations about the ability of the Liberal government to understand what sustainability means.

My colleague referenced that. She asked if the government actually understands sustainability. She referred to the Kinder Morgan sale, the purchase by the government of that pipeline, as a clear indicator that the government does not understand sustainability.

I would ask her if she has any other examples of the government failing to understand the true notion of sustainability.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, certainly there are many. As a matter of fact, every time I hear the minister say that the environment and the economy go hand in hand, increasingly I have that image of Thelma and Louise just at the last frame of the film. The environment and the economy go hand in hand when one chooses to do things for the economy that benefit the environment, but when one chooses to do things that are in conflict, then one is living in a world of trying to hold opposing notions together at the same time, otherwise known as cognitive dissonance.

A specific example is approving two LNG projects that will drive up greenhouse gases in B.C., Petronas LNG and Woodfibre LNG. Another was the approval of Site C, a project that did not receive an environmental assessment clean bill of health, and if they had gone back and looked at that review, they would not have approved it. There have been numerous occasions on which the decision-making went against what I had expected from a government that claims to understand sustainability.

I do applaud the effort to put in place a carbon price, but the government has not removed fossil fuel subsidies, and, as anyone can see, it is spending billions of dollars. At this point it is committed to at least $15 billion on this project. It is doing the opposite of ending fossil fuel subsidies. It is inventing new ones.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member mentioned intergenerational equity, which is something that now has been incorporated into sustainability. I would ask her to perhaps expand on what that means to her, and how intergenerational equity will benefit future generations of Canadians.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has just a little over a minute to respond.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the essence of sustainability, in many ways, goes back to the concept that comes to us from the Iroquois Confederacy of making decisions on to the seventh generation when we think about what we are doing, and today we are thinking long term. Our economic theories tend to discount the future, and it is hard for us to think about what it means to future generations because they are not right here in front of us.

At a minimum—and this goes back to the Brundtland commission report, “Our Common Future”—the idea was that the decisions we make today should meet our own needs, while at the same time ensuring that we do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

The kinds of things that exemplify sustainability, for instance, are projects that ensure we are replanting as many trees as possible, or ensuring that we do everything we can to suck carbon out of the atmosphere by replanting the mangrove forest of the planet. We have removed about a third of the mangrove forest.

We are doing everything we can to get fossil fuels out of our electricity system. Decarbonizing electricity is a key goal. One of the things we could do, if we are throwing around $4.5 billion, is to use it to build an east-west electricity grid to green up our electricity sector.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here at 11:15 at night to talk about Bill C-57, a bill that seeks to make amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Someone else was commenting about time allocation today, and there is something about the Gordie Howe hat trick, like a goal, an assist, and a fight. We almost had a government House leader hat trick here today with the closure motion and two time allocation motions.

The Federal Sustainable Development Act has been in place since 2008. It was introduced during the previous Conservative government. I am pleased to see steps are being taken to ensure that it remains relevant in our current landscape.

Jim Prentice, our colleague whom we sadly lost in an aviation accident, said it best: “We must balance environmental issues with economic and social considerations. By doing so, we can make long-term sustainable progress on the environment that is integrated with progress on the economic and social agenda for Canadians.” Most of us in this place, if not all of us, will agree with that.

The bigger point here, though, is making sure we have both environmental protection and economic success. Our previous government did that, which is why the current government kept our environmental plans. The biggest difference, arguably, is that it just slapped a new name on the department.

Suffice it to say that we agree that sustainability is a fiscally responsible decision, especially in a country where natural resources play such a substantial role in our economy. That is why this side of the House has been pushing so hard on Trans Mountain, on ensuring that the government takes action to ensure that this pipeline gets built.

Now we find ourselves in a bind, because apparently the only way the government could make this happen was to throw a bunch of money at Kinder Morgan. Perhaps this could be an indication that the Liberal approach to attracting and maintaining business partnerships is not working.

There was a story yesterday in Bloomberg entitled—and I will adjust the title so as not to name anyone—“[The Prime Minister]'s Hipster Economics Looked Great Until Trump Cut Taxes”. Many may think this judgment is a bit harsh, but I think the criticism is warranted, and here is why.

Canada needs Kinder Morgan and other energy investment. We have been saying this for months and years. Energy investment means thousands of jobs for Albertans and workers across Canada. It means growth for our provinces and increased revenues for the economy.

What has happened with Trans Mountain, a project that has been so ineptly handled by the government that taxpayers are now owners of a pipeline, is not surprising, given the attitude of the government toward business growth, and it will certainly not be the last time it happens.

As the Bloomberg article says:

Around the country, business owners and corporate executives are grumbling. Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia are also boosting minimum wages. The federal government is requiring provinces to put a price on carbon emissions to help fight climate change in a program that could push power bills up further. Railroad bottlenecks threaten Canada's standing as a major commodities exporter. There's insufficient pipeline capacity for the oil-sands boom.

On a continent where our neighbour is cutting corporate taxes, pumping the brakes on regulatory policy, and undoing much of the tangles of red tape, Canada has become the regulation-happy, carbon-tax-wielding, under-investment monster that businesses fear, and the ones we had managed to keep at least for a while are now fleeing the country.

What incentive is there for businesses like Kinder Morgan to stay? There is next to none, basically.

In the case of Trans Mountain, the government's response is not to address the problems stemming from the beast it has created but instead to dip a little more into the public purse and throw out more money borrowed from our kids, our grandkids, and our great-grandkids.

While I and my colleagues understand that the environment is important in considering federal policy, it must be done responsibly, not just to fight climate change but to protect economic prosperity as well, and that is something we have yet to see from the government.

The trend we have been seeing is that the government loves to say it is doing something, with absolutely zero follow-through. It is almost as if we see more apologies in the House than bills passed.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled a report outlining how the government has fallen short in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change, something we have been saying would happen for years.

The Liberal government has pie-in-the-sky ideas with absolutely no ability to get anything done. It aims for the headline and walks back the actual policy when it comes time to get something done. The Liberals cannot even follow their own plan, and the environment commissioner agrees. Here is an example from the report.

Report 2 from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's 2018 Spring Report states:

Overall, we found that the Government of Canada had not developed a formal approach to implement the 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals.

It went on:

[D]espite some specific action at the departmental level, there was still no federal governance structure based on clearly articulated departmental roles and responsibilities by November 2017. We found no communication plan and no engagement strategy on how to include other levels of government and Canadians in a national dialogue on the 2030 Agenda.

Here is the commissioner's statement on the government's outstanding record on the environment so far:

First, the federal government does not regularly balance the three pillars of sustainable development [economic, environmental, and social].

Second, there is a lack of leadership for many sustainable development activities.

Third, the federal government has not implemented the tools it already has to assess the impacts of policy decisions on sustainable development.

This, in itself, is why we need the Federal Sustainable Development Act. We need to ensure that we are balancing all aspects of sustainability, not just the things that get a headline in the Toronto Star, and that we are doing more than just talk.

I want to look at the environment and climate change departmental plan, the annual departmental plan that gets released when the estimates come out. In the plan's introduction, the minister says that she is pleased to present it. I would be very embarrassed to present the plan that she has.

The former parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, said that departmental plans are mere communication devices, and this report is proof. The Treasury Board president, in his failed estimates reform, promised to address this but has not.

This is what the Treasury Board website says about the departmental plans:

The Policy on Results sets out the fundamental requirements for...departmental accountability for performance information...while highlighting the importance of results in management and expenditure decision making, as well as public reporting.

Basically, it is saying, “Here are our plans, and here is what the results are going to be. This is what we are going to spend, and this is what we are going to achieve.”

However, I want to look at the environment departmental plan. Yes, I have read them; I do not think many people have. I am going to read the planned results.

For departmental result indicators on GHG emissions from light-duty vehicles, the target is a 21% improvement, which is fair enough, “for manufacturer model year 2017 reporting relative to 2011 model year”. One would think that if we were going to reduce it from 2011 to 2017, this already being 2018, which is odd, we would have what the GHG emissions are right now. The target date to achieve it is 2018, but under “actual results” for last year and the years before to compare it against, the comment is “This is a new indicator. Results are not available from previous years.” Fair enough, we have nothing to compare it to.

The next is GHG emissions from heavy-duty vehicles: “Percentage improvement in GHG emissions performance for manufacturer model year 2018-2020 reporting relative to the 2010 model year”. The target is 13% lower by 2020. Again, if we are comparing it to previous years to see how we are doing, one would think that we would know what it is for 2016-17 and not just compared to eight years ago. What do they have? “This is a new indicator.” Results are not available from the previous year, or the year before that, oddly enough.

For HFC emissions, the target is a 10% reduction in consumption levels compared to 2017-18. The date to achieve this target is 2019. What did we do last year? We do not know: “This is a new indicator. Results are not available from previous years.” Fair enough.

The next goal is “Reduced methane emissions from the oil end gas sector”. The target is a 40% reduction relative to 2012, and we are going to achieve this by 2025. What is the base right now? “This is a new indicator. Results are not available from previous years.”

This goes back to what I have been saying about the current government. The Liberals talk a lot, but they are not getting anything done. In their own departmental plan, where the Treasury Board requires them to state reports and what they are trying to achieve, they have nothing.

The departmental result indicators go on with “Emissions reductions are being achieved under the Clean Fuel Standard building on the Renewable Fuels Regulations”. The target is “30 Mf annual GHG emissions reduction in 2030”. This is 30 Mf down from what? Well, it is down from previous years. What was it in previous year? “This is a new indicator. Results are not available from previous years.” Again, they are setting imaginary goals, almost aspirational goals, with nothing to actually compare them to. The departmental result indicators go on.

I have a lot of other stuff that I would love to go over, but I cannot. I would just say that we need to ensure that foreign investment and international business are attracted to Canada, and that Canadian businesses want to stay; that growth and responsibility happen together; and that innovation is championed across all sectors, not just the ones favourable to the government, but including oil and gas.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:25 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Madam Speaker, I had a great time working on the operations and estimates committee and reading those departmental reports with the hon. member.

With respect to the energy data and many of the metrics he was referring to, it is true that Canada does not have an energy information agency that has collected the years of data that would be necessary for us to determine some of these outcomes and measures. That is why, at present, the natural resources committee is undertaking a study of energy data so we can both set targets and collect data to determine whether or not we are meeting them.

In this regard, I am wondering if the member could comment on whether or not his party is generally supportive of the direction that committee is taking, and whether or not he is supportive of the idea of Canada collecting, maintaining, distributing, and making available to the public energy data so that we can know whether or not we are meeting our greenhouse gas emission targets.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I used to live in St. John's East, in the member's riding. It is a beautiful part of town. I appreciate his comments and the time we spent together on the operations committee.

Yes, we do need the data, and that data should have been provided in the environment department's plan. We cannot judge how we are actually getting stuff done unless we have reasonable, true targets. It cannot simply be the aspirational targets that the Minister of Environment has provided in this basically useless plan, which violates the rules of what the Treasury Board has said should be in departmental plans.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, I found the member's speech to be quite informative. When he talked about some of the targets of the environment minister, he illustrated how the minister and the government are all talk and no action. Indeed, it seems that the only thing the minister is capable of doing and saying is that the economy and the environment go hand in hand, as though that is enough.

The hon. member was cut short. He said he had more to say. I was very interested in what he was saying, so perhaps he could use this time to continue.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, there are a lot of other flaws in the departmental plan. My favourite is a table that reads, “Canadian communities economies and ecosystems are more resilient”, and that presents departmental results indicators that include the “Number of individuals, businesses, and governments accessing climate services and using that information to inform decision making”. It notes that the targets involve an “Increase from [the] baseline”.

What is the baseline? There is a little mark that says that the baseline will be established when the Canadian Centre for Climate Services has been functioning for a full year, and that it is expected it will become operational next year. Therefore, the baseline will be set two years from now.

Here are the departmental goals we are trying to achieve this year, and we will not even know what the government is saying is our target, because we will not set a baseline for two more years. We are expected to accept a plan from the government that has been rightly ridiculed by the commissioner. The government is telling us that it will not know what results we are trying to achieve for two years, but that we should accept the plan today for results and give it the money to spend now, with no planned outcomes.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:25 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Madam Speaker, the member for Edmonton West is discussing the lack of available energy data, but of course after nine years of inaction the member is assuming that the minister can jump into the world ready with all of the answers. However, she is coming into her role after nine years of a government that did not believe in climate change. The government had not even collected any of the data for the baseline, and now he is attempting to blame the minister for having failed to have the data available for the baselining.

I find it quite an interesting response to my question of whether or not he agrees that we should collect the data for him to blame the minister for not collecting the data for the nine years prior to his being elected.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I believe we should collect the data. In our environment minister's departmental plans for 2014-15, the last year we were in power, we actually did have the data for all of our items. It is just for the two years since the Liberals took over that the data is blind.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-57.

I want to begin by addressing some comments made recently by a Liberal colleague about climate change. Statements that the previous government did not consider climate change a serious problem are absolutely false. The fact is that the targets we set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are the targets that the Liberals are using. The position of the previous government was that every country has to be part of the solution. That is what science tells us. If it is just Canada and a few select countries that are doing their fair share, we cannot address the issue of growing greenhouse gas emissions. The targets that the previous government set are the targets that are being used by the Liberal government.

In speaking to Bill C-57, my concern is not about the bill and the text of the bill. It is whether the government will act on the bill, and whether change is necessary.

Bill C-57 came about exactly 10 years ago. I was parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment. The minister was John Baird. The Liberal member who was retiring and leaving this place was John Godfrey. As the parliamentary secretary in that structure, I was tasked with meeting with John. We talked. There was work with the David Suzuki Foundation and others. What was proposed was considered, and there was give-and-take. We ended up with a bill, Bill C-474, and the government, under the minister of the environment, John Baird, supported that. We ended up with a good piece of legislation that everyone could support, and we moved it forward as a Parliament in 2008.

That gives us a glimpse into what happened under a previous Conservative government. In the committee structures, how did things work back then? There was work between the government in power and the opposition members. Unfortunately, we do not see that in the current government. It is sad. That is one of the reasons why there is a lack of trust. The government says that it will work with the opposition, but that is not what happens.

In the committee, members are not even permitted to ask questions. It was last week that the ministers came to answer questions about how they were going to spend the $7 billion of discretionary funds in the main estimates. The ministers came and made their speeches, and then down came the gavel to end the meeting so that the opposition members could not ask any questions. It was so undemocratic and so shocking.

That is how the Liberal government runs the House. In one day, it brought closure three times, and in the committees it does not permit the opposition members to do their work, representing Canadians and keeping the government accountable. The government refuses to let that happen in committees. It is very sad.

That did not happen in 2008, when we worked with a Liberal member, John Godfrey, and permitted him to introduce his bill. There was give-and-take, and we came up with what we could both agree on. The David Suzuki Foundation was part of that consultation.

We ended up with a good bill, the Sustainable Development Act. There are three parts to it. What we said, and what the current government is saying, is that we can have a healthy environment and we can have a healthy economy. We can do it, but there has to be social buy-in. Canadians have to buy in. The key to that is having all three. There has to be trust. Unfortunately, what is missing in Bill C-57 is trust.

There is a third body. There is the Commissioner of the Environment, who will do an assessment of what is happening. Is the government doing what it needs to? The Commissioner of the Environment gives us a report card. How is Parliament doing? How is the government doing?

As was noted previously, the spring 2018 audit by the commissioner stated:

...we found that the federal government is not ready to implement its commitments on sustainable development....

First, the federal government does not regularly balance the three pillars of sustainable development.

That is one of the reasons why it is failing. It then states:

Second, there is a lack of leadership for many sustainable development activities.

With respect to the lack of leadership, where is that source? What is the commissioner talking about? It is the government. It is the Prime Minister. It is the minister. There is no leadership. If the problem with the lack of sustainable development is that lens, why is it not happening? The commissioner is saying it is because of a lack of leadership. The government is not using the tools it has. That is the third reason he cites as follows:

the federal government has not implemented the tools it already has to assess the impacts of policy decisions on sustainable development.

The minister and the Prime Minister need to do their job. The government needs to work with members of the opposition and all parties. There needs to be respect and trust. Then what we already have in place would be working.

Under Liberal governments, we have seen a legacy of disrespect for Parliament and not getting it done. I am looking at reports by the Commissioner of the Environment done year after year. I do not have the time to go through all of them.

The 2002 report stated, “The Liberal government's sustainable development deficiency continues to grow.”

The 2003 report noted, “There is a gap between what the Liberal government said it would do and what it is actually doing. Good intentions and great announcements are not enough.”

The 2004 report asked, “Why is progress so slow after all the mandates and commitments were there? I am left to conclude that the reason is that there is a lack of leadership, a lack of priority and a lack of will.” It sounds like what was announced just weeks ago.

The 2005 report stated, “When it comes to protecting the environment bold announcements are made and then forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground.”

We have a problem. Because of lack of leadership, we are missing a sustainable development lens that includes a healthy environment; a strong, growing economy; and social buy-in. That is what the Commissioner of the Environment is saying. Can members imagine for a moment what the economy, the environment, and the social buy-in for a healthy economy and environment would look like if we had a Conservative government or a minister of the environment like the member for Abbotsford? I can only imagine how good it would be.

We became government in 2006. In 2011, we had efficiencies, appliances, and vehicles in place that helped reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The fact is it was in 2008, 2009, and 2010 that emissions were going down because of efficiencies resulting from policies brought in by the previous Conservative government. I can only imagine that emissions would continue to go down when we get a change of government, when we get a Conservative government that respects Canadians, that works with Canadians, and uses common sense to create a growing environment and a growing economy. It is achievable and it will happen from 2019 onwards. I am excited because I know that with a Conservative government, we are going to get it done.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, at the end of my friend's speech he talked about GHG emissions and the record of the previous Conservative government, because it was under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper that we saw a real reduction in GHG in the neighbourhood of around 3%. I was wondering if the hon. member could compare the record of the previous Conservative government, which saw a real reduction by taking a sector-by-sector approach, compared to the record of the current government over the last two and a half years.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, during the early 2000s, a Jean Chrétien/Paul Martin Liberal government, emissions were growing. The Kyoto targets were set, they were ignored, and emissions continued to grow.

I remember Bob Mills who used to be a member of the environment committee. He warned the government not to set the targets artificially, that they should be based on science. However, Chrétien was involved and he allowed Bob Mills to go on one of those trips. The targets were set artificially and they were never achieved. Again, the commissioner was right: lots of announcements, lots of confetti, but no action.

It took a change of government in 2006 before emissions started to come down. The government started to listen, consult and determine how it could best reduce emissions. We set a world-class example. Sadly that has all ended. In the last three years, there has been a lot of bafflegab, a lot of announcements, and broken promises. The environment and the economy are too important.

The Prime Minister is saying in one part of the country that we have to shut down the oil sands. In another part of the country, he saying that we need to grow the oil sands. At one end of the country, he is funding protestors. At the other end of the country, he is buying pipelines. It is bizarre. It does not make sense. We need a change of government.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Langley—Aldergrove's riding is right next to mine. We have a lot in common. We used to serve on city council together.

I appreciate the fact that he truly understands sustainability. He referenced greenhouse gases. Yes, we all acknowledge that greenhouse gases have to be addressed, but that does not mean we need a carbon tax. Sustainability does not necessarily mean we have to penalize Canadians by taxing them to death.

He and I both come from the province of British Columbia, where a carbon tax was implemented almost a decade ago. The target at the time was to reduce emissions by 2020 by 33%. Today, emissions are down by 2%. The carbon price is $35 per tonne. It is hurting British Columbians, but not achieving any measurable, truly substantial reductions in emissions.

I would gladly solicit the member's comments on whether a carbon tax has to be part of a sustainable approach to addressing some of the environmental challenges we have in Canada today.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, his question about putting a price on carbon is an important one. When we were discussing this in the early 2000s, the suggestion was maybe $15 a tonne, and then it went up to $50 a tonne. Now under the Liberal government, it could go to $100 tonne or $200 a tonne. That means possibly $3 or $4 a litre.

British Columbians in my neighbourhood are outraged by the price of fuel to heat their homes and drive their cars. However. the Liberal government has said it will raise the price on fuel as high as it has to go to get people out of their cars. They do not want people driving their cars anymore. That is not reality and the Liberals are wrong. The carbon tax they are proposing is hurting Canadians, and it needs to stop.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

11:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be supporting the bill and I want to explain why. It will make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and more accountable to Parliament.

Among other things, the bill would make the government more transparent because it would expand the number of government entities that would be required to report to both houses of Parliament, and it would expand the information required in these reports to Parliament.

It would also make the government more accountable by establishing principles that need to be taken into account, such as the precautionary principle, the polluter pays principle, and the principle of intergenerational equity, which is important for meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

It also supports the principle of internalization, the whole idea that externalities in our economy, such as producing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, cannot continue to be free, that a price needs to be put on this pollution. We need to internalize those costs in our economic system to ensure we reduce emissions and pollution and ensure sustainable development.

The legislation is needed because the government is not doing a good enough job. It is not doing a good enough job in ensuring the efficient use of natural, social, and economic resources. It is not doing a good enough job with respect to the words in proposed subsection 5(a) to ensure that environmental, economic, and social factors are integrated in the making of all of the government's decisions.

We have an example of how the government is not doing that.

Today the Auditor General released his spring 2018 report on a variety of aspects related to what the government was doing. I want to point to report 4 in particular, which concerns Montreal's Champlain Bridge. I want to highlight what the Auditor General said in that report that determines the government is not taking into account environmental considerations when it makes its decisions.

In 2015, the government decided to remove the tolls from the new Champlain Bridge in Montreal, a project that is costing Canadians well over $4 billion, and a project that is going to replace the old Champlain Bridge. Here is the problem with the government removing the tolls. It not only created inequity in federal bridge policy across the country, where now now people who cross this $4-billion-plus bridge in Montreal will not have to pay a toll, but people crossing the Confederation Bridge between the mainland and Prince Edward Island will have to pay a toll of some $46. People who cross the new Gordie Howe bridge at the Detroit-Windsor crossing will have to pay a toll, but the people of Montreal will not have to pay a toll. Not only has it created this inequity and unfairness between the different regions on the country, it has also not ensured economic sustainability.

The Auditor General points out that the lost revenue from this decision will cost the consolidated revenue fund some $3 billion over the next 30 years. That is not economically sustainable.

It is also not environmentally sustainable, and this is where the government's decision-making is flawed.

The Auditor General has said in report 4 that the government's decision to eliminate the tolls on the new Champlain Bridge has had far-reaching implications. The elimination of tolls is expected to increase traffic volumes significantly by 20%. The Auditor General says that 50 million cars and trucks cross the Champlain Bridge each year. We all know this produces a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. Twenty-five percent of all greenhouse gases emitted in the country, which is far more than the oil and gas sector, come from the tailpipes of automobiles, trucks, and other modes of transportation.

The government took a decision that would directly increase the number of trucks and cars crossing that bridge, from 50 million to 60 million every year. In fact, 62 million, a 20% increase in 50 million, is about 10-plus million vehicles a year. We are looking at 10 million more vehicles crossing the Champlain Bridge every year, with the attendant greenhouse gas emissions, because of the government's decision to cancel the tolls on that bridge.

Not only did the Liberals create inequity for Prince Edward Islanders, southwestern Ontarians, and Montrealers, not only did they create economic non-sustainability because of a $3 billion loss to the consolidated revenue fund, they also did not abide by their own principles of environmental sustainability.

The Auditor General makes it quite clear that there will be a massive increase in traffic on the bridge, with the attendant greenhouse gas emissions. This is why the legislation is so very important. We need the government to be forced to walk the walk and to match its talk. It has been talking a good game about reducing emissions, but its actions belie that talk.

The Liberals committed to Mr. Harper's targets of May 2015 to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by some 30% from 2005 levels by 2030, but they are failing to meet that commitment—