Mr. Speaker, here we are in the House, on Wednesday, May 30, at 8:45. I should mention that that is 8:45 p.m., for the many residents of Beauport—Limoilou who I am sure are tuning in. To all my constituents, good evening.
We are debating this evening because the Liberal government tabled very few significant government bills over the winter. Instead, they tabled an astounding number of private members' bills on things like swallows' day and beauty month. Sometimes my colleagues and I can hardly help laughing at this pile of utterly trivial bills. I also think that this process of randomly selecting the members who get to table bills is a bit past its prime. Maybe it should be reviewed. At the same time, I understand that it is up to each member to decide what kind of bill is important to him or her.
The reason we have had to sit until midnight for two days now is that, as my colleague from Perth—Wellington said, the government has been acting like a typical university student over the past three months. That comparison is a bit ridiculous, but it is true. The government is behaving like those students who wait until the last minute to do their assignments and are still working on them at 3 a.m. the day before they are due because they were too busy partying all semester. Members know what I mean, even though that paints a rather stereotypical picture of students; most of them do not do things like that.
In short, we have a government that, at the end of the session, has realized that time is running out and that it only has three weeks left to pass some of its legislative measures, some of which are rather lengthy bills that are key to the government's legislative agenda. One has to wonder about that.
The Liberals believe these bills to be important. However, because of their lack of responsibility over the past three months, we were unable to debate these major bills that will make significant changes to our society. Take for example, Bill C-76, which has to do with the electoral reforms that the Liberals want to make to the voting system, the way we vote, protection of the vote, and identification. There is also Bill C-49 on transportation in Canada, a very lengthy bill that we have not had time to examine properly.
Today we are debating Bill C-57 on sustainable development. This is an important topic, but for the past three years I have been getting sick and tired of seeing the Liberal government act as though it has a monopoly on environmental righteousness. I searched online to get an accurate picture of the record of Mr. Harper's Conservative government from 2006 to 2015, and I came across some fascinating results. I want to share this information very honestly with the House and my Liberal colleagues so that they understand that even though we did not talk incessantly about the environment, we achieved some excellent concrete results.
I want to read a quote from www.mediaterre.org, a perfectly legitimate site:
Stephen Harper's Canadian government released its 2007 budget on March 19. The budget allocated $4.5 billion in new investments to some 20 environmental projects. These measures include a $2,000 rebate for all electronic-vehicle or alternative-fuel purchases, and the creation of a $1.5-billion EcoTrust program to help provinces reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Liberals often criticize us for talking about the environment, but we did take action. For example, we set targets. We proposed reducing emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Liberals even retained these same targets as part of the Paris agreement.
They said we had targets, but no plan. That is not true. Not only did we have the $1.5-billion ecotrust program, but we also had a plan that involved federal co-operation.
Allow me to quote the premier of Quebec at the time, Jean Charest, who was praising the plan that was going to help Quebec—his province, my province—meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets. Jean Charest and Mr. Harper issued a joint press release.
Mr. Harper said, “Canada's New Government is investing to protect Canadians from the consequences of climate change, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.” He was already recognizing it in 2007.
Mr. Charest said, “In June 2006, our government adopted its plan to combat climate change. This plan has been hailed as one of the finest in North America. With Ottawa contributing financially to this Quebec initiative, we will be able to achieve our objectives.”
It was Mr. Charest who said that in 2007, at a press conference with the prime minister.
I will continue to read the joint press release from the two governments, “As a result of this federal funding, the Government of Quebec has indicated that it will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalent below its anticipated 2012 level.”
What is more, the $1.5-billion ecotrust that was supposed to be allocated and was allocated to every province provided $339 million to Quebec alone. That was going to allow Quebec to engage in the following: investments to improve access to new technologies for the trucking sector; a program to develop renewable energy sources in rural regions; a pilot plant for production of cellulosic ethanol; promotion of geothermal heat pumps in the residential sector; support for technological research and innovation for the reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases. This is probably one of those programs that is helping us make our oil sands increasingly environmentally friendly by allowing us to capture the carbon that comes from converting the sands to oil. There are also measures for the capture of biogas from landfill sites, for waste treatment and energy recovery, and finally for Canada ecotrust.
I invite our Liberal colleagues to listen to what I am going to say. In 2007, Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace said the following: “We are pleased to see that after negotiating for more than a year, Quebec has finally obtained the money it needs to move towards meeting the Kyoto targets.”
Who made it possible for Quebec to move towards meeting its Kyoto objectives? It was the Harper government, a Conservative government, which established the $1.5-billion ecotrust fund in 2007 with monies from the budget surplus.
Not only did we have a plan to meet the targets we proposed, but this was also a plan that could only be implemented if the provinces agreed to the targets. It was a plan that was funded through the budget surplus, that did not further tax Canadians, and that provided money directly, without any conditions, other than the fundamental requirement that it had to help reduce climate change, which was philosophically important. Any and all measures taken to reach that goal were left entirely to the discretion of the provinces.
Mr. Harper, like a good Conservative who supported decentralization and like a true federalist leader, said that he was giving $400 million to each province so it could move forward with its plan.
By 2015, after 10 years of Conservative government, the country had not only weathered the worst economic crisis, the worst recession in history since the 1930s, but it had also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2% and increased the gross domestic product for all Canadians while lopping three points off the GST and lowering income taxes for families with two children by an average of $2,000 per year.
If that is not co-operative federalism, if those are not real results, if that is not a concrete environmental plan, then I do not know what is. Add to that the fact that we achieved royal assent for no less than 25 to 35 bills every session.
In contrast, during this session, in between being forced to grapple with scandals involving the carbon tax, illegal border crossings, and the Trans Mountain project, this government has barely managed to come up with four genuinely important bills.
By contrast, we expanded parks and protected Canada's wetlands. Our environmental record is exceptional.
Furthermore, we allowed debate. For example, we debated Bill C-23 on electoral reform for four days. The Liberals' electoral reform was debated for two hours.
I am sad, but I am happy to debate until midnight because debating is my passion.