Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-57, which amends the Federal Sustainability Act. This is a very important issue, which I will get to in a little bit.
I want to start by saying that it is unfortunate and disgusting that we are once again under a gag order as we debate issues that are so very important not only to us as a society, but also to the future of our planet. Once again, the government is limiting the amount of time we have for debate. It is preventing parliamentarians from debating and improving this bill, to ensure that we have a strong plan for sustainable development. the Liberals are once again breaking a clear promise they made during the election campaign. They are limiting debate times, imposing a gag order on members of Parliament, and not giving us enough time to have a serious debate. Today is Friday, and this is the fifth time this week alone that the Liberals have moved a time allocation motion. For those who are not familiar with the jargon, a time allocation motion means that the government is imposing a gag order a limiting the amount of time for debate.
I think that topics like sustainable development, the United Nations goals, and global warming should be taken seriously by the Liberal government. It should give us enough time to have a thorough, honest debate on this bill, so that we can address all of the details.
It is so important that I am personally convinced, and many of my colleagues here share my opinion, that the environmental issues, the protection of biodiversity, and the fight against climate change are truly the challenge of our generation.
Our children and grandchildren will judge us on our ability to deal with these challenges, our ability to ensure that we maintain a healthy environment, and our ability to prevent global temperatures from increasing by more than 2%, since that could have catastrophic consequences. I do not say that lightly. It has been scientifically proven that the earth's temperature is rising. It has also been proven that the actions of human societies, including our production and consumption activities, are mainly responsible for global warming. Our actions and our decisions are causing global warming and there are many consequences to that, including what is known as extreme weather. In some places, it is much hotter than it used to be, while in others it is much colder. On average, it is much hotter, and there has been an increase in the number and intensity of so-called natural disasters. That means there have been more floods, droughts, forest fires, and hurricanes, and those hurricanes are stronger and cause more damage. We have already seen this sort of thing in Canada. It has been documented and there are reports on the subject. Extreme weather and natural disasters are costing us more and more.
We often hear about cost, about putting a price on pollution and the cost of making greener, more environmentally responsible choices. However, I want to make it clear that there is also a cost to doing nothing and sitting on our hands while disasters break out all around us. This is not just a financial or economic issue, it is a human issue.
I would remind everyone here that former U.S. vice-president Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental advocacy and actions. Why did the Nobel committee decide to award a Nobel Peace Peace to someone who works on environmental and sustainable development issues? There does not seem to be a link, but in fact, there is one. In addition to extreme weather, we are now going to start seeing climate migrants. Mr. Gore was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize because it is a well-known fact that drastically higher temperatures in certain regions, deforestation, and lack of access to water will cause population displacement around the globe and turn millions of people into climate migrants.
Environmental migration can lead to conflict, even armed conflict. That is why the folks at the Nobel committee decided to recognize Al Gore on his work a number of years ago and issued a statement saying that preventing global warming might get us just a bit closer to world peace.
Global warming also has an impact on our ecosystems here. One of our colleagues from northern Canada, the author of Bill C-262, noted that Quebec's far north now has species of birds and insects that it did not have before and that can trigger dangerous changes in the balance of certain ecosystems. Even in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, where there are not that many ecosystems, we were forced to cut down dozens of trees because of the ash borer, an insect that did not previously exist back home. Climate change has caused the ash borer to migrate north and now it is attacking the trees.
I was talking to a winemaker in the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé recently. He says climate change could affect wine production in Quebec because of a vine-destroying insect called phylloxera native to France and Europe. Phylloxera cannot survive our winters, but that could change as our winters warm and we get periods of milder weather. It may begin to attack our vines. Periods of milder weather have other significant impacts, too. For example, if there is a major thaw in January, the vines think spring has come and start to bud, then they freeze and die for the rest of the season.
I wanted to share those details with the House, but I will now turn to a situation happening a long way from home. This morning on Radio-Canada, I had a chance to listen to an interview with documentary filmmaker Matthieu Rytz, who directed a documentary called Anote's Ark. Anote is the leader of a small nation, a unique population living on Kiribati, an atoll in the middle of the Pacific.
Like many other Pacific atolls, their island is only about a metre above sea level, and sea level is already rising. If we do not meet our Paris Agreement targets and slow down global warming, the glaciers at the North and South poles will melt, causing the sea level to rise everywhere. For the people of Kiribati, it is almost too late already.
There are other countries where we hope to avert disasters. I am thinking in particular of Bangladesh, which is already below sea level, but which may have more resources to protect its coastline. The Netherlands and Holland already have an entire infrastructure for that, but the people of Kiribati do not. It is most unfortunate.
The documentary is called Anote's Ark because all these people plan on leaving. They are looking for somewhere else to live. They may move to Fiji, for example. They are already in negotiations to relocate to other countries. It is so tragic. Their entire way of life will disappear. It could also lead to complications and tension.
The climate migrants I mentioned earlier are a clear and typical example of the fact that this phenomenon will grow. If they are moved to another country, will a state be created within the host country, or will they simply be assimilated into the existing population? These are serious issues. What can we do to prevent this cultural diversity from disappearing? Biological diversity is important, but so is cultural diversity. We see the type of problems that this will cause.
Before I go into the specifics of the bill, I want to point out that the Liberal government promised to put an end to oil subsidies. After two and a half years in power, it has done absolutely nothing about this. On the contrary, I believe it has just handed out the largest oil subsidy in Canada's history by writing a $4.5-billion cheque to a U.S. company to purchase a 65-year-old pipeline that is leaking, by the way.
However, Canada pledged to participate in an accountability process adopted by the G7 and G20 to track each country's progress in reducing and gradually phasing out oil subsidies. We have received an invitation. We have already been invited to pair up with Argentina to examine each other's actions and decisions to see if we are serious and making progress. What is absolutely incomprehensible is quite simply that the Liberal government did not even respond to Argentina's invitation. Argentina is still waiting for Canada to say that it wants to partner up. As they say in Argentina, it takes two to tango, but Canada is refusing to get on the dance floor.
More specifically, we have a government that, once again, is saying one thing but doing the opposite. The oil subsidies are a blatant example. It is sad. I would like to quote a report from the environment commissioner that clearly states that this government is not going in the right direction and that it will likely fall well short of meeting the weak targets it has set, where it even set any, that is. That is another problem. It is unfortunate that, despite the Liberals' campaign promises, they set exactly the same greenhouse gas reduction targets as the previous government and kept the very same game plan, and yet it seems Canada will not even meet those targets.
I would like to quote the environment commissioner's report directly. It reads:
On the basis of current federal [and] provincial...policies and actions, Canada is not expected to meet its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting Canada’s 2030 target will require substantial effort and actions beyond those currently planned or in place.
It seems pretty clear to me that we are going to miss the boat. We are going to miss the boat on what is probably the greatest challenge of this Parliament, this government, at a time when it should be leading the way and making tough decisions. It is not only the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development who is saying so. The United Nations and the OECD share the same concerns and have said that Canada will not reach its targets for 2020 or 2030. There is nothing to be proud of or to brag about here. Giving great speeches in Germany, in New York, and at the UN is all well and good, but if the government is not willing to walk the talk, there is no point. It is nothing but hot air, nothing but words, as Dalida would have said.
As for the Federal Sustainable Development Act specifically and the fact that Canada has officially committed to achieving the United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals, once again, a report released in April by the Commissioner on Environment and Sustainable Development sounded the alarm that we are not on track to achieve them. One of the federal government's major commitments to the UN is likely to remain mere empty rhetoric if Ottawa does not take meaningful action to honour those commitments.
At a news conference in April, Julie Gelfand said that it is always worrisome when a government says that it will do something and does not do it. In one of her three annual reports, she noted that Canada is not on track to meet the 17 sustainable development goals it has promised to implement on two separate occasions since 2015. The Prime Minister himself reiterated this promise when he appeared before the UN General Assembly in September 2017.
However, five departments responsible for implementing these goals by 2030 still have no targets and no system for monitoring progress. This is absolutely ridiculous. Ms. Gelfand also noted that there is no framework for coordinating these efforts at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Status of Women Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. It is unreal.
We are not on track to meet the goals and will not fulfill our international commitments, and the departments are so inept that they cannot establish targets or tracking systems themselves. Furthermore, one of these departments is the Department of the Environment. What a terrible message. What a joke. This is why the government's credibility on the environment leaves a lot to be desired, in spite of all their fine words.
Bill C-57 makes a few small changes, but it is still not enough. We are missing the boat. I will come back to this if I have any time left, but this bill is basically a copy of Bill C-474, which was introduced by Liberal Party member John Godfrey and passed in 2008. The overall framework of the bill before us is extremely weak. What I am about to say may seem a bit technical, but rather than give the government an incentive to achieve a series of sustainable development targets based on certain principles, Bill C-57 merely sets out a legal framework for developing a strategy.
That means that, once again, a framework will be created, consultations will be held, and everyone will talk about big ideas for this strategy. In the meantime, however, the concept of setting targets and figuring out how to meet them has fallen by the wayside even though those steps are key if we want to take this seriously and make things happen. Instead, they are building castles in the air, ignoring the targets, and pretending what they are doing will be good enough. We think this is a missed opportunity that could have been used to achieve so much more.
Initially, the bill introduced and passed in 2008 proposed establishing an independent commissioner position to act as an environmental auditor general, which we currently do not have. There is no one who is entirely independent to oversee, as an auditor general does, what the government is doing on the environment. Regrettably, instead of creating that position, the bill aims simply to create a sustainable development office at Environment and Climate Change Canada, but without any real plan. Thus, the person responsible for monitoring progress on achieving the objectives will be part of the same organization that should already be tracking it anyway. I would not put a fox in charge of the henhouse. This is laughable.
Basically, we see a few steps in the right direction, but we think it is unfortunate that the Liberals did not act on all the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, despite what the minister said earlier today.