House of Commons Hansard #306 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was targets.


Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario


Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

moved that Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I will describe how our government is taking action to ensure that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand; our work with provinces, territories, indigenous peoples, and international partners to address climate change; and our support for the global 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals.

I will go on to discuss how Bill C-57 supports our strong commitment to sustainability and how it will contribute to more effective, inclusive, and accountable sustainable development strategies in the future.

Let me emphasize again the importance of discussing how Bill C-57 would support our strong commitment to sustainability as well as how the proposed changes would contribute to more effective, inclusive, and accountable sustainable development strategies in the future.

First, I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. The committee's unanimous second report, “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”, provided thoughtful recommendations that were the foundation of the bill.

I would also like to congratulate the members of the committee for their work in considering and amending Bill C-57 and for taking part in fruitful discussions and debate. Their efforts resulted in a number of improvements to the bill, which I will be discussing today.

Of course, I would like to again recognize the hon. John Godfrey, former member of Parliament for Don Valley West and sponsor of the original private member's bill that became the Federal Sustainable Development Act. His vision and leadership gave rise to the current federal sustainability approach we are seeking to build on and enhance through the bill.

Bill C-57 is about advancing sustainable development in Canada. I have noted before in the House, and I will continue to emphasize, that advancing sustainable development is a priority for our government. Canadians have said that they want a sustainable future for Canada. We have always maintained that a clean environment and a strong economy can and must go hand in hand in the modern world. We also know that the well-being of Canada's future generations depend on it.

As part of the global community, we are all facing serious challenges, including the continued threat of global climate change. Here in Canada, we are already experiencing the effects of a warming planet from wildfires that rage longer and harsher than ever before, to thinning sea ice in the Arctic, to rising sea levels that threaten communities from coast to coast to coast, to unprecedented flooding, something we experienced first-hand here in the Ottawa-Gatineau area about this time last year.

Action is needed, and we are responding together with our partners in Canada and around the world. Our government is committed to supporting the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the global framework to eliminate poverty, fight inequality, and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. As the Prime Minister said in his recent address to the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly, we are committed to implementing the 2030 agenda’s sustainable development goals at home while we work with our international partners to achieve them around the world.

The federal sustainable development strategy demonstrates our commitment to the 2030 agenda, with 13 aspirational goals that are a Canadian reflection of the global sustainable development goals. The federal strategy's specific, medium-term targets, short-term milestones, and actions show how we will implement the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’s environmental dimensions.

The amendments to the act would support future federal sustainable development strategies that would continue to align their goals and reporting with the 2030 agenda, ensuring that Canadians would have a thorough view of our sustainable development priorities and our accompanying national actions to advance the 2030 agenda.

Tackling climate change, the most pressing challenge of our time, is an important part of the 2030 agenda and is a priority for our government. Transitioning to a low-carbon economy is critical if we want to ensure a good quality of life for our children and grandchildren. Inaction is not an option.

Recognizing this, our government ratified the historic Paris agreement in October 2016 and worked with provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples to develop the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, Canada's comprehensive plan to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy, accelerate clean growth, and build resilience to climate impacts.

Implementation of the framework is now well under way, with good progress already achieved on measures such as phasing out coal-fired power generation by 2030, developing regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, and introducing a clean fuel standard.

This past June, our government launched the $2-billion low-carbon economy fund to support projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are also working with provinces and territories to ensure that carbon pricing applies across Canada, including by developing a federal carbon pricing backstop system.

We also continue to work with our international partners to advance global action on climate change. Most recently, at the recent 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Canada became a founding member of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which includes national and subnational governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations focused on accelerating clean growth and climate protection through the rapid phase-out of traditional coal power.

This past November, Canada also became one of the first countries in the world to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This amendment will phase down hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are powerful greenhouse gases. In support of our commitment to the Kigali Amendment as well as our made-in-Canada climate plan, we have published regulations to reduce HFC consumption in Canada by 85% by 2036.

We are also taking action to protect Canada's lands, coasts, and oceans. We are engaging coastal communities, stakeholders, and all four orders of government as we implement our oceans protection plan. As part of this plan, we introduced legislation in May to formalize the moratorium on crude-oil tanker traffic on British Columbia's north coast. We have also achieved our commitment to protect five per cent of Canada's marine and coastal areas by 2017, and we remain committed to protecting 10% by 2020.

In August, the federal government, Nunavut, and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association announced the official boundary for a new national marine conservation area in Tallurutiup Imanga, Lancaster Sound, which will be the biggest protected area ever established in Canada.

We are continuing to conserve and connect Canada's lands, lakes, and rivers. With the Government of Alberta, we are leading a process to meet our target of 17% of terrestrial areas and inland waters conserved by 2030. This includes gathering advice from a broad range of stakeholders through the National Advisory Panel and the Indigenous Circle of Experts.

It is clear that we are taking effective action to realize our vision of a clean environment, a strong economy, and a better quality of life for Canadians. Much is being done, but more progress is needed to meet the challenge of sustainable development and to take advantage of its opportunities.

That brings me back to Bill C-57. This bill would make important improvements to the sustainability approach in the 2008 Federal Sustainable Development Act, particularly in the areas that require the government to prepare and report on sustainable development strategies. It would make these strategies more accountable and inclusive, thereby making them more effective. This would help to hasten our progress toward a more sustainable Canada, something I am sure we all support.

I would now like to take this opportunity to share the specific amendments proposed in Bill C-57. First, the bill proposes a new purpose, which clarifies that the focus of the act and the federal sustainable development strategy would be sustainable development, not strictly related to the environment. It would shift the act's focus from planning and reporting to driving action and improving Canadians' quality of life, and it would specify that the federal sustainable development strategy must respect Canada's domestic and international obligations.

Bill C-57 also adds principles to the act to guide our whole-of-government strategy, as well as the strategies of individual federal departments and agencies. These include, for example, the principle of intergenerational equity, which is absolutely foundational to the concept of sustainable development. The current act requires individual departments to prepare their own strategies that are in line with their mandates and that comply with and contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy.

Under Bill C-57, more than 90 federal organizations, up from 26 today, will work in a collaborative and coordinated way toward common objectives.

The bill would also reinforce our government’s commitment to an inclusive sustainability approach by strengthening the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. It would double representation of indigenous peoples on the council from three members to six, and would provide the council with a clear mandate to advise me on sustainable development.

Finally, and most critically, it would strengthen the government's accountability for achieving concrete and meaningful sustainable development results. Part of the recommendations would shift the focus in the Federal Sustainable Development Act from planning and reporting to results. This is extremely important. We want to see results. We need to show that government departments understand the importance of sustainable development. One way to do that is to have strong targets, measurable targets, targets that have a clear time frame for their achievement.

Bill C-57 would ensure that future strategies would continue to have a focus on results and would increase the accountability of departments and agencies in setting and achieving ambitious sustainable development targets. This would enable Canadians to closely track whether the government was meeting its commitments.

Parliamentarians have an essential role to play in holding the government to account for sustainable development results. Bill C-57 would support and strengthen this role. Building on the requirements of the current act, it would ensure that federal organizations report each year to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, and the equivalent committee of the Senate, on actions taken to meet their commitments and the results achieved.

Also, recognizing the crucial role of parliamentarians, Bill C-57 would provide for a permanent review of the act by a parliamentary committee. The review would be carried out every five years, further strengthening accountability and supporting continuous improvement of the act and its implementation over time.

I want to acknowledge that as well as providing the foundation for this bill through its unanimous report, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development strengthened it by studying the bill and proposing thoughtful amendments. I want to thank all the committee members for their contributions. Good ideas from all sides were considered, debated, and discussed.

While all the amendments accepted by the committee resulted in important changes to the bill, I would like to highlight a few in particular that would contribute to the government's sustainable development approach. First, the committee accepted an amendment proposed by the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands that added a new principle to Bill C-57. This principle tells us that sustainable development is an evolving concept. It clarifies that achieving sustainable development means protecting our environment, but it also means protecting health, promoting equity, conserving cultural heritage, respecting our domestic and international obligations, and recognizing our responsibility to future generations. Our government will look to this principle to develop strategies that go beyond environmental issues to address sustainable development as a whole and to draw on well-accepted approaches to promoting sustainability, such as applying the precautionary principle.

Public consultations are already an essential part of the current act. Comments from indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and the public shaped our current federal sustainable development strategy, leading to more measurable and ambitious targets, and a stronger focus on supporting the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

With the committee’s amendments, all federal organizations would take these comments into account as they prepare their own sustainable development strategies.

Finally, other amendments, including those proposed by the hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington, would help focus the act on sustainable development as a whole rather than on the environment alone. One, for example, specifies that Treasury Board’s role includes establishing policies and issuing directives related to the sustainable development impacts of government operations and not just environmental impacts.

Taking into account these improvements, how would Bill C-57 support greater progress towards our vision for sustainable development in Canada? Quite simply, it would be through better sustainable development strategies that focus on results and reflect the priorities of Canadians and by ensuring that the government set clear and measurable sustainability targets and could be held accountable for achieving them.

I want to highlight in particular the impact of the new principles proposed in Bill C-57, particularly given the improvements made at committee. Principles are at the core of Bill C-57, defining our values and aspirations for sustainable development strategies. The bill would ensure that government considers principles such as intergenerational equity, collaboration, and results and delivery when preparing strategies. The new principle would provide clarity on the nature and scope of sustainable development, and approaches the government should consider in working toward sustainability goals and targets. Under an amended act, future strategies will clearly demonstrate to Canadians how our commitments and actions reflect these core principles.

This means that future strategies will benefit from a clear, shared understanding of the breadth of actions that contribute to achieving sustainable development and to protecting the environment, as well as protecting health, promoting equity, and conserving cultural heritage.

Future strategies will also continue to benefit from engagement with indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians. We saw the importance of this in the development of the current federal sustainable development strategy. Comments received through public consultations helped make our plan more aspirational, measurable, and inclusive.

Bill C-57, including the amendments made at committee, would build on this important component of the government’s sustainability approach. It would better enable indigenous peoples to play a strong role in guiding our sustainable development strategies and actions, including by increasing their representation on the Sustainable Development Advisory Council.

It would also enable me to engage more effectively with my council, including meeting with its members in person, something that has never been possible before. By specifying that the council's mandate includes advising me on matters related to sustainable development, it would address a clear gap in the current act.

All these measures would help ensure that our strategies, both the overarching federal sustainable development strategy and strategies of individual federal organizations, reflect the priorities of indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and Canadians. In particular, it would ensure that the unique perspectives of indigenous peoples are heard and taken into account.

However, strategies matter only if the government can be held accountable for results. That is why Bill C-57 would strengthen accountability under the Federal Sustainable Development Act. In requiring all federal sustainable development strategy goals to be measurable and include a time frame, the bill would ensure that Canadians are fully aware of what the government has committed to achieve and whether those commitments are being met.

With a new requirement for federal departments and agencies to report each year on how they are implementing their strategies and the results achieved, parliamentarians and all Canadians will be able to closely track the government's sustainable development progress and hold the government to account.

In conclusion, Bill C-57 reinforces our government's commitment to put sustainable development and the environment at the forefront of government thinking and decision-making. We believe it is a very important step that we need to take in order to ensure that we make decisions about a sustainable future in Canada, focusing on results and increasing the accountability of departments and agencies for setting and achieving ambitious sustainable development targets.

The bill supports modernizing the Federal Sustainable Development Act and incorporating into legislation our government's strong focus on results. The bill also promotes close collaboration and coordinated action across government through a whole-of-government approach. In short, this legislation would move us from planning and consulting on sustainable development to achieving and reporting on results.

I would like to once again thank the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their ideas, commitment, and collaboration.

I encourage all my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the Minister of Environment for her speech. Sadly, her decisions and results fall short of her rhetoric. We already know from the environment commissioner that Canada will not be able to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020 or 2030.

Speaking of the environment commissioner, I was interested to read in her April report that Canada is not on track to meet the 17 sustainable development goals that it has promised to implement on two separate occasions since 2015. The Prime Minister also reiterated that promise to the United Nations General Assembly in 2017.

Five departments responsible for implementing these goals have no national targets and no system for monitoring progress. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Status of Women Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada all have yet to establish a system.

How does the minister expect to meet the United Nations goals if her own department has neither a structure for setting targets nor a system for monitoring results?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my counterpart for his question.

Clearly, we are going to see improvements thanks to Bill C-57, since it is a very results-based bill.

I want to once again thank the committee for its thoughtful suggestions with regard to the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Canadians want Canada to have a sustainable future. This bill clearly demonstrates that sustainable development and the environment are at the forefront of the government's thinking and future decisions. Thanks to the committee's recommendations, the sustainable development bar for Canada has been raised. We took into account all of the committee's recommendations. I think that will significantly improve the bill and we will see results.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, in her speech, the minister talked about the principle of intergenerational equity. This is news to me. I am interested in understanding what is really meant by that and what kind of actions the government will take to support that principle.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, Canadians have clearly said they want a sustainable future for Canada, and when we talk about a sustainable future, we cannot do it without thinking about future generations. Indigenous people often talk about seven generations. I have three children and often think about the future they want. This is exactly what this act would do. This act is intended to make sure that as government makes decisions, we consider the impact on future generations and look at sustainable development as a whole.

I am very pleased that we are incorporating suggestions from the committee, the unanimous report from the committee, that we focus on results. We also focus on expanding the scope so that we have more government departments included and there is more transparency. We really need to be working together to ensure that future generations, our kids and grandkids, have a sustainable future.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the Minister of Environment and Climate Change for bringing forward for discussion Bill C-57, including the recommendations from the committee.

I had a conversation this morning with one of my constituents, who was concerned about methane emissions in agriculture and whether these are included in our sustainability goals. I mentioned a sustainable agriculture study that I was part of, which we just completed on the agriculture committee. The minister mentioned CH4 in her presentation on methane in the oil and gas industry. Could she maybe expand on the importance of controlling and reducing methane emissions, to address my constituent's concerns?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his very hard work. Guelph has been a real leader when it comes to the environment and sustainable development.

When we approach tackling climate change, we know that we need an approach that brings together farmers, businesses, environmentalists, and all Canadians, and that is certainly the approach we have taken through the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the recommendations from the commissioner for sustainable development. We looked at how we could align the international sustainable development goals in the 2030 agenda with what we are doing here in Canada. We think this is very important. Taking climate action is one of the big priorities under the sustainable development goals internationally, clearly aligned with our priorities here.

We are working with all Canadians, including farmers, to find innovations and solutions and to figure out how we can reduce our emissions, while, of course, growing our economy and ensuring good jobs for farmers, agriculture workers, and all Canadians. We know we can do this. We understand that the environment and the economy go together.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, as I now understand what the minister means by intergenerational equity, it seems to me that the huge deficit spending the Liberal government is putting in place, with $1.5 trillion of debt being left to our children, is not something that is considering sustainability for them. Would the minister agree?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, we are here to focus on Bill C-57, regarding sustainable development, but I will always stand up for our government's broader agenda, which is making key investments that actually are about the future. These investments are in public transportation, for example, historic investments. When it comes to investments in the light rail transit here in Ottawa, this is going to be the largest reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the city's history, and it is also going to be awesome for families. People can get home faster, with less pollution. That is what people want.

We understand that inaction on climate change is a tax on future generations. I wish the party opposite would understand that. If we do not take action now, we are going to pay. We are paying the consequences now. We have seen historic floods, droughts, forest fires. Prince Edward Island is shrinking by 43 centimetres a year. We need to take action on climate change while growing our economy, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I found the environment and climate change minister's speech to be rather incongruous, particularly when she talked about how the government is going to improve accountability and results.

As my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie just said, the commissioner of the environment indicated in several reports that Environment and Climate Change Canada does not even have a plan to monitor the achievement of targets. We will not meet the 2020 or the 2030 targets. The United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals include “affordable and clean energy”, which is goal no. 7, and “responsible consumption and production”, which is goal no. 12. We do not even have a proper environmental assessment process here in Canada, and the Liberal government just approved the Kinder Morgan buyout for $4.5 billion.

How can the government say, as it triples oil production, that this oil will be produced responsibly when there is no environmental assessment?

How can the government say that this is a responsible decision to make for future generations when we know that their environment will be polluted and that those generations are the ones who will have to pay for the decisions the Liberals are currently making?

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

Today we are debating Bill C-57. I hope that I can count on the NDP's support. I think I can. We do have a plan for climate change. The previous government did nothing for 10 years to address climate change, but we negotiated a plan. It took us a year to negotiate with the provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, and all Canadians. In this plan we looked at how we can combat greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, including the oil sector. We will continue with our plan and we will make sure that we meet our international targets.

Standing Committee on FinancePrivilegeGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, there are actually three points of order or references I am going to have to respond to today, so I will start with the first one.

First, I rise in response to a question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Carleton on May 31, 2018, with respect to alleged ministerial interference with regards to Bill C-74. My hon. colleague, in his statement, argued that his and the members of the finance committee's freedom from obstruction and interference had been breached.

I would argue that the matter before us today does not meet the requirements to be considered a prima facie breach of privilege, but is rather a debate as to the facts. First of all, as you have mentioned on many occasions in recent rulings, matters must be raised at the earliest opportunity. This is not the case here.

In an article dated May 14, 2018, from The Globe and Mail, the member is reported as saying that he would be asking the Speaker of the House of Commons to rule on the issue when the House of Commons resumes next week. This clearly did not happen, as it was a whole 17 days later that the hon. member raised his question of privilege. Secondly, the actions alleged here are related to the actions of a civil servant. These matters have historically not been qualified as a breach of privilege.

In a ruling dated May 15, 1985, Speaker Bosley stated:

I think it has been recognized many times in the House that a complaint about the actions or inactions of government Departments cannot constitute a question of parliamentary privilege.

At no point is there an indication that members of the committee were forbidden from inviting the group as witnesses or that the minister's office had any role in the selection of witnesses. As such, Parliament has acted independently from the minister's office, and there is no ground to qualify these actions as interference.

At the core of the current debate lies the concept of parliamentary privilege. Matters of privilege and contempt can be broadly defined as, one, anything improperly interfering with the parliamentary work of a Member of Parliament, or two, an offence against the authority of the House. The situation brought forward by the hon. member for Carleton does not fit any of these categories, as no individual MP has been impeded and there has not been any offence against the authority of the House.

Failing to see how anyone's rights have been compromised or infringed, I would respectfully submit that this matter does not constitute a prima facie question of privilege.

Firearms ActPrivilegeGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, I now go on to a second response, which has been provided to me by the fine work of the support staff. I will respond to this particular question of privilege that has been raised by the hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner on May 29, 2018, with respect to an alleged contempt of Parliament by the RCMP.

In his argument, the hon. opposition member argued that in multiple online publications of the RCMP, adoption of Bill C-71 is presumed, because it did not use the conditional tense when discussing its possible effects. I would argue that the matter before us today is not a question of privilege, but rather a matter of debate.

Furthermore I would state that when one reads, as referred to by the hon. member, “Special Business Bulletin No. 93”, one will find the following statement at the beginning:

Bill C-71 would affect the Ceská Zbrojovka (CZ) firearms in your inventory in one of three ways:

they may become prohibited

they may become restricted, or

the classification may stay the same.

I should note that the same introduction is given to the document entitled “How does Bill C-71 affect individuals?”, which was mentioned in the member's question of privilege. As you see here, Madam Speaker, there is clearly no presumption of anything. Therefore I would argue that the member's question of privilege is not based on any precedent or jurisprudence.

In his argument, the hon. member cited a long list of so-called relevant precedents with regard to the RCMP interfering with the work of members of Parliament. None of the elements mentioned in his long list apply here, as the question is not whether a member of Parliament has been arrested, interrogated, spied on, or had his access to Parliament blocked. We are not talking about misleading information being given to parliamentarians. Consequently, none of these decisions are pertinent to the matter at hand.

As such, I believe it impossible to find a ground for contempt. Consequently, I respectfully submit that this is a question of debate and, as such, does not constitute a prima facie question of privilege.

Main Estimates 2018-19PrivilegeGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

The third issue I want to respond to is the point of order raised by the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona on May 29, 2018, with respect to the Treasury Board vote 40.

My hon. colleague, in his statement, asked the Speaker to strike vote 40 from the main estimates. In his argument, the hon. opposition member argued that in his opinion, the budget implementation vote is not consistent with the legal mandate of the Treasury Board.

To the point of the vote being consistent with the legal mandate of the Treasury Board, the member's whole argument against vote 40, as well vote 5, is based on a narrow reading, or outright misreading, of subsection 7(1) of the Financial Administration Act. Also, nothing in the Standing Orders of the House of Commons presumes to clarify or constrain the limits of Treasury Board's policy authority.

Furthermore, I would like to reiterate the statement made by the Speaker in his decision of May 29, 2018. In his decision, the Speaker indicated:

There are ample precedents of monies being granted to a central fund. The most well known of these is vote 5 under Treasury Board for government contingencies. Ultimately, the government determines the form its request for funds will take.

With regard to vote 5, which the hon. member addressed in his statement, there has not been any criticism by the Auditor General on this subject since the 2002 report. That is 16 years ago.

As for the proper way to strike such a vote, I would once again refer to the aforementioned decision by the Speaker. In it, the Speaker emphasized:

While committees have no power to change the destination of the spending, as this would violate the crown's right to initiate spending requests, they do have the power to reduce or even reject the amount of a vote if they are not satisfied with the information provided.

Also, on whether or not the explanation of the particular request is sufficiently detailed or if the destination is the appropriate one, the Speaker noted:

[these] are matters for members to consider when studying and voting on the estimates.

As such, I believe it is impossible to qualify vote 40 as inconsistent with the mandate of the Treasury Board. Consequently, I respectfully submit that there are no grounds to strike vote 40 from the main estimates.

Main Estimates 2018-19PrivilegeGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I appreciate the additional information provided by the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader. We will take it under advisement and come back should that be required.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, be read the third time and passed.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today in the House to speak to C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

For those who are not familiar with this piece of proposed legislation and what it is trying to do, it would provide a legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy that would make government's environmental, economic, and social decision-making more accountable to Parliament.

The bill proposes to expand the Federal Sustainable Development Act by enabling a whole-of-government approach, with mandatory and expanded reporting requirements and new enforcement measures. These amendments partly stem from the unanimous 2016 report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development entitled “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations”. That report recommended a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development projects. As the minister has previously indicated, it was a unanimous report by the committee, with recommendations to try to move us forward on this topic of sustainable development.

However, it is important when we are trying to move forward on something that we understand what it is. Therefore, I will read the definition of sustainable development:

Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. The desired result is a state of society where living conditions and resource use continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural system. Sustainable development can be classified as development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.

There are a few important things in this definition. I want to highlight the first part that talks about having goals. It is important to have goals when we are trying to achieve sustainable development. The second part that is really important to me is where it says that we should meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations. I will highlight a few areas that could be of concern in this regard.

If, as I said, we need goals for sustainable development, what are the goals of the Liberal government here?

We have all heard countless times that the environment and economy go hand in hand. It is obviously a goal of the government to see this become a reality in the country. We also know that the government is keen to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If those are the goals, it is important to look at them.

First, let us talk about the Auditor General's report, because the Auditor General looked look at what the government is doing and has commented on its progress. Here we are about 65% through this current parliamentary session, but, unfortunately, the Auditor General's report is not very flattering about what is happening with the environment minister. The report talks about the progress that should have been made in reducing greenhouse gases. Members will remember that the Liberal government boasted in the last election that it was the only party that could address Canada's climate change challenges. However, after two years, the Auditor General gave it an F, a failing grade. His report reads:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...the measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions contained in this plan had yet to be implemented.

Therefore, two-thirds of the way through the government's mandate, these recommendations have yet to be implemented.

The Auditor General's report went on to say:

We concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada...did not make progress toward meeting Canada’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The report says that no progress has been made. It does not say that there was insufficient progress.

In the meantime, the one thing the minister and her government did was impose a massive carbon tax on Canadians, resulting in impacts that we will see for generations. Even so, the Auditor General still concluded that Environment and Climate Change Canada had not provided adequate leadership to advance the federal government's adaptation to climate change impacts.

The progress made is nothing, and the Liberals have not implemented a plan. Therefore, that is not going very well.

Let us take a look at how he economy going. During the two-thirds of the mandate in which the Liberals have been in charge, $80 billion of investment have left Canada in the energy sector, 100,000 energy workers have lost their jobs, 400,000 forestry workers have been impacted by the government's inaction on the softwood lumber file, and who knows what the impacts will be from the most recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminium, which are huge industries in Canada.

In addition, there is the whole Kinder Morgan pipeline fiasco. The government has stepped in and spent $4.5 billion of taxpayer money to buy 65-year-old assets that will not build one inch of new pipeline. Instead of encouraging private investment in the country, which Kinder Morgan planned to do by spending billions of dollars and creating thousands of Canadian jobs, the government has given Kinder Morgan money to take to the U.S. and create jobs there. We are not creating those jobs here in Canada. There is no evidence that the government has addressed any of the conditions required to keep the NDP from protesting against the pipelines, the B.C. government from opposing this, and getting the licence from the indigenous people to move forward on this.

That is one part of the economy.

The other part of the economy is the deficit. Starting with a $10 billion deficit, the promise the Liberals ran on in the 2015 election, all of a sudden the deficit in the first year was twice that. The second year was twice that. Now in this third year, it is three times that, with no end in sight. The Liberals will not be returning to a balanced budget within its mandate. Projections are that they will not be returning to balance until 2045. The Liberals have added $1.5 trillion to the deficit. This is ridiculous.

The principles of sustainable development say that we want to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations. However, future generations will have to pay for the debt that the government has racked up. I did simple math yesterday to try to figure out what that would look like. It looks like every taxpayer in Canada will pay $5,000 right off the top, just for the interest on the debt being accumulated by the government.

This spending pattern is definitely not sustainable development, and it is not helping the economy. People are losing confidence in the Canadian economy, not the other way around.

Worse, environmental regulations have been put in place that lengthen the approval process, that create uncertainty in the approval process and drive investments out of Canada. Under the Liberal government, the energy east project was withdrawn by the private investor. The Petronas LNG project went the same route. The government arbitrarily decided that the northern gateway project was not to be built. Investors in other countries looking at Canada are not going to be inspired to think that development is sustainable or even achievable here. The government needs to do something to change that climate.

As members knows, I am not one to just criticize without making helpful suggestions. I do have some helpful suggestions at which the government should look.

First, let us talk about the climate change plan. Canada makes up about 2% of the carbon footprint of the world. We could eliminate the whole thing and it really would not make a big difference in addressing climate change. However, we do have some things that we can do.

If we could help other countries, such as China, India, Europe, and the U.S., reduce their footprints, and those four areas are 60% of the carbon footprint of the world, we would actually do something to help climate change. How could we do that?

We have technology and resources that we could bring to bear. If we can get the oil to the coasts and sell it to China, India, Korea, and places like that in the world that want to purchase our oil, they could get off coal. That is a huge advance in reducing the carbon footprint in the world. In addition, Canada is very well known for our renewable technology. My riding of Sarnia—Lambton has one of the largest solar farms in North America. We have wind power. We have a whole bio-innovation centre devoted to coming up with new innovations to cleverly create power in the world.

There are a couple of ideas. One of them is a vortex machine that could be used in places that have warm sea water, using the warm sea water to create power and energy. This is excellent technology. If members are not familiar with it, they should look up Lambton College and Bio-Innovation Centre in Sarnia—Lambton and take a look at that technology.

However, there is other technology such as carbon sequestration. Canadians are known around the globe for this. Leveraging that technology would also do a lot to help the world reduce its carbon footprint, which is important. Some things are in our control and others are outside of our control.

The volcano in Hawaii within a few short days will put out more carbon footprint than almost all of the entire planet. Those types of things we cannot control. Forest fires are the same. The number of forest fires in North America every year totally undoes all the work we try to do in carbon footprint reduction, so we need to have a plan for that.

The other thing the government needs to consider with respect to climate change is having a plan to address the impacts of climate change. Canada has seen an increase in flooding, for example. We had severe flooding in Calgary, in Winnipeg, in Toronto, and in the Atlantic provinces. We have seen forest fires in B.C. unlike anything we have seen before.

Disaster relief for these things takes money. There are issues that can be predicted. The permafrost, for example, as it is melting in the north, impacts on the infrastructure like roads and highways. Where is the government's plan to address this and where are the contingencies for these types of things? The government needs to do something on that.

With respect to the economy and ensuring that the environment and the economy go hand in hand, the Liberals need to look at how they are creating a climate for business investment in Canada. I would suggest they look to our neighbours to the south. They are lowering corporate taxes. They do not have a carbon tax everywhere but California. They are reducing the regulatory burden instead of putting in additional processes that add time, bureaucracy, costs, and uncertainty to the project. They should look at those situations and try to create a competitive environment in Canada.

Canada can compete. We have great talent and great resources. However, if we do not create a climate where investors want to come here to do business and feel certain they can, then we will lose out.

We cannot put all of our eggs in one basket, so the government needs to think more broadly about sustainable development than just climate change. We need to pay attention to a number of issues in Canada, but I do not feel they are receiving adequate attention today.

In the west the pine beetles are eating our forests. That is one of our great natural resources. It drives industry and jobs in Canada as well, not to mention the fact that it absorbs carbon dioxide. We need to address that crisis.

The algae bloom issue in Lake Erie needs to be addressed. I know plans are in place and people are working with the agriculture industry and others to try to reduce phosphorus loading, but more needs to be done.

Our agriculture industry is another area. It is very important not just to sustain the industry so all of us can eat, but also so we can grow things that will help us with a carbon sink. The agriculture industry is under attack in Canada. The government is putting regulations on this industry to ban pesticides, without replacement, but it is allowing people to ship food grown with those same pesticides into the country. This is another area where Canada is not competitive.

With respect to raising livestock, the government is currently introducing something to eliminate the selling of feed with antibiotics premixed in it. That is given to animals that are sick; it is not given wholeheartedly to all animals. It is another example of people in other countries being able to raise their animals in a way that is more competitive and ship those products here.

I could go on about the water issue in Canada, another one of our great natural resources. I am terribly disappointed in the government's progress on eliminating boil water advisories across the country.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member will have four minutes and 50 seconds remaining after question period.

Lois Carson BoyceStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Joe Peschisolido Liberal Steveston—Richmond East, BC

Madam Speaker, on Saturday, April 21, I attended the celebration of life at South Arm United Church for Lois Carson Boyce, who passed away at the age of 99 years young.

Lois was a proud member of the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, before dedicating her life to the peace movement, the environment, seniors' issues, and the cause of social justice.

Her volunteer work earned her many awards, including the prestigious Golden Jubilee Medal, the Richmond Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award, and the Ethel Tibbits Award in recognition of her contributions as a Richmond pioneer.

Lois dedicated her life to Richmond and to making it a better place. She will truly be missed.

Scleroderma Awareness MonthStatements By Members

11 a.m.


David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, today is the beginning of June and it is also the beginning of Scleroderma Awareness Month.

Scleroderma is a progressive and chronic connective tissue disorder that can attack one's internal organs, literally shutting them down one by one, and can also cause weeping ulcers, skin deterioration, and Raynaud's disease, among other symptoms.

As many in the House already know, I had to watch my mother suffer the awful effects that scleroderma brings and that eventually took her life. It was one of the most heart-wrenching experiences of my life.

Unfortunately, my mother was just one of many women to be afflicted with scleroderma, as almost 80% of sufferers are women and most are diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50.

We still are not sure what causes scleroderma, but what we do know is that the number of diagnoses is on the rise.

Research on new therapeutic measures has been promising, but much more is needed. We need more funding to drive this research to find a cure and stem the tide of this horrid disease.

We can and must assure the men and women suffering that the Government of Canada is in their corner.

Entrepreneurship Centres at Algonquin CollegeStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, I was honoured to cut the ribbon at the opening of Algonquin College's new Discovery, Applied Research, and Entrepreneurship building, or DARE, and its Centre for Indigenous Entrepreneurship district. It will include the college's new library, a learning centre, an indigenous commons, and a cybersecurity centre, making it, as forward-thinking college president Cheryl Jensen would say, “a truly collaboratory space”.

It will be home to new training and test facilities for high-demand job sectors, a multimedia production facility, expanded applied research and innovation programs, and an area dedicated to indigenous entrepreneurship.

The federal government invested $21.9 million through its post-secondary institutions strategic investment fund, continuing our goal to make every Canadian innovation-ready, meaning ready to discover new ideas, spot opportunities, and imagine new possibilities.

The DARE district is where we can all dare to dream.

Prairies Action Foundation Youth Leadership AwardStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Madam Speaker, today I rise to congratulate two groups from northern Saskatchewan who will be receiving the Prairies Action Foundation Youth Leadership Award in Regina next week.

The Clearwater River youth Project Venture teaches young people the values of culture, teamwork, and communication. Its programming strengthens the connections of youth to each other, the land, their culture, and their community. Congratulations to all involved.

The second award is to the We Schools group at Hudson Bay Community School in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan. Led by Leann Borowetz, students worked together on a variety of projects, including a fundraising effort for the Hudson Bay Hospital.

These young people showed us all that together we have the ability to make positive change in our communities regardless of how old we are.

I very much look forward to meeting both groups next week as they receive their awards.

50th Anniversary of Town of BlainvilleStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Ramez Ayoub Liberal Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, building a harmonious, respectful, and tolerant community allows people to forge relationships. Forging relationships is the theme chosen to inspire and bring people together for the 50th anniversary of the founding of Blainville on June 29, 2018. This young town's history actually goes back hundreds of years, since Blainville evolved from of the seigneury belonging to Jean-Baptiste Céloron de Blainville, a courageous soldier who was killed in battle in 1756.

Blainville may be young in spirit, but it has a long, rich past, and is ranked as one of the top-five places in Canada to raise a family. I have the honour of representing the people of Blainville in Parliament. I am proud to invite all members to celebrate the anniversary of Blainville, a town that embraces and inspires the best values of society.

Happy 50th anniversary to everyone in Blainville. I know they will enjoy the festivities.

Victims and Survivors of Crime WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, Victims and Survivors of Crime Week is coming to a close. Sadly, nothing significant was announced by the government this week, or since it has come to power, to advance the rights of these people. The government has a pretty dismal record on this issue, especially since it boasts about being egalitarian and feminist. Unfortunately, the human trafficking and sexual exploitation act is still not in effect.

Furthermore, there are still judicial vacancies and the position of ombudsman for victims of crime has remained unfilled for seven months. The Liberals refused to protect this position, which is the official voice in Parliament for victims, by voting against my bill to protect the position by making it permanent and independent, equal to the position of correctional investigator. That would have been a decisive step towards balancing the rights of victims and criminals.

For a theme like “Transforming the Culture Together” to make sense, the Liberal government must first transform its own culture.

Montreal South Shore RibfestStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Madam Speaker, since this is Tourism Week in Canada, I am proud to invite my colleagues to the first-ever Montreal South Shore Ribfest, a new festival being held this weekend in my riding of Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne.

Starting today, barbecue lovers are invited to Greenfield Park to enjoy some of the best ribs in town, along with great music, entertainment, and fun for the whole family as we kick off summer in style.

I want to thank the organizers for inviting me to judge the competition that will determine which “ribber” will be the winner of this year's Southshore Montreal Ribfest. It is a tough job, but someone has got to do it.

I am convinced that the Montreal South Shore ribfest will be a great success and will become a must-attend event in the region. I am sure it will be finger-lickin' good. Ribs are so delicious.