House of Commons Hansard #372 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was regard.

Topics

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, like many of our colleagues, I listened to my friend across the way for a few hours. I guess we were in the other place, in the House of Commons, when the member started his speech. He has finally, to the relief of many, no doubt, concluded his remarks.

In his remarks, the member covered a fairly wide spectrum of concerns. One could list a series of questions, but I am going to limit it to one. Given the length and tenure of the debate from my friend across the way, could he give us an indication of what he believes the Conservative Party's approach on this legislation actually is, given that it seems to be the opinion of the member across the way that there might not be very many members who actually want to speak to it? Maybe that is one of the reasons he was so motivated to express himself.

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3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I have just been accused by the member for Winnipeg North of being verbose. That is truly incredible. It is almost like when the Prime Minister accuses other people of standing by the wealthy. This is a pattern of the Liberals that we see in so many areas. After being critical of the length of my remarks, he asked what the Conservative approach was to Bill C-57, as if he had not heard my remarks at all.

Let me just say, in summary of those remarks, that we believe in the importance of a sustainable approach across the board, an approach that involves thinking about the impacts the decisions we take today will have on the future. That is why we believe in a balanced budget. We know that the government's deficits will lead to further attempts by the government to increase taxes. If it gets a chance to do that after the next election, we can be sure that it will take every opportunity to raise taxes.

All of the failures of the Prime Minister when it comes to balancing the budget, when it comes to thinking ahead, will have concrete costs for Canadians.

On this side of the House, our approach to Bill C-57, our approach to sustainability, is to look for ways to ensure that Canadians can get ahead over the long term.

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3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech relatively closely. He talked about many things in that speech, all of which was accurate and precise. The member across the aisle did not hear it, obviously. I would like the member to repeat some of the failures of the government and tell us what it is actually going to cost the constituents in my riding and Canadians right across the country.

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3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, finally, a good question. There are so many failures of the government we could talk about. I spoke about many of them in my remarks, but I will focus on one, and that is the failure of its so-called environmental policy.

The government does not have a plan for the environment. It has a plan to use the discussion of the environment as a tool to raise taxes. It is imposing a carbon tax. It will continue to increase the level of that carbon tax. We know that it will not improve the situation of the environment for the reasons, in particular, I talked about. The government is collecting GST on top of that.

This failure to have a real plan on the environment is costing everyday Canadians more. It is not costing everyone more, because the government has given a break to the largest emitters. It has given a break to those with well-placed lobbyists who could advocate for one. However, the government has not given a break to everyday working people in our constituencies. This is the clearest mark of the failure of the government. It is something we need to change. We need to get rid of the carbon tax so that we can help Canadians who are trying to get ahead have more money in their pockets to do just that.

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3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, there was so much misinformation provided by my friend across the way. He talked about sustainability. As a part of that, he talked a great deal about taxation, yet when it really came down to the government of the day putting a special tax on Canada's wealthiest, the Conservatives voted against it. When it came time for a tax break for Canada's middle class, the Conservatives voted against that too.

When we talk about sustainability of the family and trying to ensure that families have prosperity, we can look at the Canada child benefit. Again, that was enhanced by this government and opposed by the Conservatives.

On the one hand, the Conservatives try to fool Canadians by saying that they are standing up for the middle class, when in reality there is only one party that is standing up for Canada's middle class. It is this Prime Minister and it is the Liberal Party of Canada.

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3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

What colour is the sky in your world? What does la-la land really look like?

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3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I wonder if the member opposite can explain the hypocrisy that seems to be among the Conservative Party when it comes to taxation policy.

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3:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I just want to remind the member for Prince Albert that I am sure that his colleague, who is going to have the floor in a couple of minutes, is very well able to answer the questions that the parliamentary secretary just asked. I would ask him to hold back on any comments or questions he may have during that time.

The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

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3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I truly have missed the member for Winnipeg North over this long break. His interventions are such a source of amusement.

He talked about the Canada child care benefit. The Liberals changed the name of the universal child care benefit. They finally realized that parents were not going to use this money for beer and popcorn, which was progress for them. They had previously said not to give money to parents, because they will use it for beer and popcorn. On this issue at least, the Liberals came around to our way of thinking to some extent, but they have a lot further to go to come around to our way of thinking.

What they did at the beginning was put forward a proposal that made various changes to tax rates. The same measure also reduced the amount that Canadians could put aside in a tax-free savings account, which we know statistically is the preferred savings vehicle for Canadians who are in the middle class and for those working hard to join it. Canadians are struggling to get ahead and want to get ahead, yet they face more and higher taxes from the government. However, we can tell from the rhetoric of the member that the Liberals do not want to admit it.

Every time they try to increase our taxes, they try to do it in a way that is as surreptitious as possible. They want to change the deductions so that a person would have to pay more on benefits received in the workplace. They want to impose a carbon tax to increase the cost of everything we buy, without being transparent about the cost. They black out the information about how much the carbon tax costs. It is the carbon tax cover-up.

I say this to the member across the way: If he is actually proud of his approach to taxing Canadians, then will he end the carbon tax cover-up and tell Canadians how much it will actually cost them?

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3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, on my 400th intervention in this Parliament, I just want to say how much of an honour it is to rise in this new place that we will call home for the next 10 years.

I had the opportunity to listen to this member from the beginning of his speech. He started it off quite a while ago by talking about failures and the failures of this government, but by his measure, when we look at this, we see that Canada now leads the G7 in terms of economic growth. We have the lowest unemployment that we have ever had since we started recording it. How is it possible that a Conservative member would judge that record and say that it is a failure? I just do not understand it.

Can the member explain what he means when he talks about a failure, in light of the fact that we have had the best growth that this country has had in a long time and that we have the lowest unemployment rate since we started recording it?

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3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, under the Conservatives, at the time of the last election Canada had the lowest unemployment, the highest rate of growth, the best job creation record in the G7 and a balanced budget. We were able to deliver the goods with a balanced budget.

My colleague across the way is laughing. Let me tell members this: His constituents are not laughing, because they are struggling to get ahead. They know that the out-of-control deficit spending by the government will mean higher taxes for them. It is already meaning higher taxes and it is going to lead to further higher taxes.

If the member cares about how much his constituents pay, I wonder if he will commit to the government's not raising the carbon tax after the next election. We know that if it has a chance to raise the carbon tax, it will certainly do so. We have to stop it.

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3:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to take a few seconds to say how pleased I am to be back here in this new place. I am very happy to see all the work that has been done over these past years to build this new House of Commons. I commend everyone who worked on it, because it is amazing. I hope that it will help us have useful discussions and debates that will benefit our constituents.

Today, we are examining a bill pertaining to the Federal Sustainable Development Act, and as the NDP environment critic, I am obviously very pleased to rise in the House to talk about sustainable development, the environment, ecology, the future and what we will leave our children.

We urged the government to be more transparent and engage in more intergovernmental coordination to ensure better planning and accountability with respect to sustainable development in Quebec and Canada. I believe that this is an approach to economic development that has unanimous support in Canada today. We would have liked to see Bill C-57 go further in some respects, but, at every step, the NDP supported the government's policy direction on this matter as well as the progress made on this bill.

We could have gone much further. For example, we would have liked to see the United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals included in this bill, which would have strengthened the federal government's commitment to those UN goals. It is unfortunate that they were not included. We suggested it, but the government declined.

Today, however, we need to debate and vote on the government motion in response to the three amendments proposed and adopted by the Senate. The government agrees with amendments 1 and 3 from the Senate, but it disagrees with amendment 2. That is the fly in the ointment. We in the NDP cannot understand the Liberal government's attitude. Let us look at what amendment 2 says:

2. Clause 8, page 5: Add the following after line 30:

“10.2 Performance-based contracts with the Government of Canada, including employment contracts, shall, where applicable, include provisions for meeting the applicable goals and targets referred to in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and any applicable strategy developed under section 11.”.

The Senate is basically suggesting that federal government contracts awarded to companies and subcontractors take into account the goals and targets of the federal sustainable development strategy. This is something I do not say very often in the House, but I agree with the Senate. The representatives of the upper house have made an excellent suggestion.

The NDP does not understand why the government disagrees with Senate amendment 2 in its motion. Why does the Liberal government want to prevent the contracts in question from having to meet the objectives of the federal sustainable development strategy? How will that help build a greener country that is more respectful of future generations and our ecosystems?

It would not have cost the Liberal government very much to be consistent and agree to the Senate's amendment. It would not cost anything to require that contracts comply with a framework set out in the national sustainable development strategy, which includes certain objectives and principles. Why does the government want to sidestep that requirement? It seems as though the government is giving itself some wriggle room, creating a grey area so it can do what it wants when it awards contracts.

The NDP opposes the government's motion because it rejects that amendment, which seems completely reasonable, coherent and consistent with a comprehensive vision of sustainable development.

There is a lot to say about the Liberal government's coherent and ambitious vision for the environment. This is such an important issue for all Canadians, their children and their grandchildren, but we are once again dealing with a government that says one thing and does the opposite. The government's hypocrisy, its Jekyll-and-Hyde approach, is completely mind-boggling.

In December, I went to Poland for COP24, a major gathering of the United Nations focusing on the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement. I attended a number of meetings and round tables.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change delivered a speech to the delegates at the plenary hall in Katowice. There were 20,000 people there from about 185 countries, and not just government representatives. There were also people representing unions, businesses, investors and environmental groups. The Minister of Environment delivered an absolutely outstanding speech. I was there, I heard the speech, and I applauded along with everyone else. I applauded out of politeness, but also because the speech was very good. The speech laid out a vision that New Democrats and most environmentalists can get on board with. I myself would have wholeheartedly endorsed the text.

The problem is that the Liberal government's decisions have nothing whatsoever to do with what was said in the speech. On the international stage, they are all about making themselves look good, patting themselves on the back and saying all the right things, but there is a lot they are hiding and would rather not talk about. That hypocrisy is a real shame. There are countless examples of how the government says one thing but does the opposite.

A report was presented at COP24 assessing the performance of the 60 richest, most industrialized nations—and obviously that includes Canada—when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. People in Canada often like to brag about our strong performance in various areas. For instance, Canada ranks pretty high on the United Nations human development index. Where does Canada rank in terms of greenhouse gas reductions? Canada ranks 54th out of 60 countries. That is nothing to be proud of. The Liberal government does not keep its promises, and greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

I actually just read an interesting statistic. The only year in which greenhouse gas emissions decreased in Canada was 2008, and that was because of the economic crisis and recession. Every other year, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise inexorably. We are getting further away from our targets. Let us move forward together, and not fall backwards.

In 2030, we are supposed to have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions to 517 megatonnes. That is our target. The Liberal government did not make much of an effort considering that was the Harper government's target. The Liberal government simply copied the targets set by the government of Stephen Harper, known friend of the environment and ecosystems. The Liberals are so ambitious that they decided to adopt the same target as the previous government and they are not even going to reach that.

According to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, we are going to miss the 2020 and 2030 targets. Every year we see the gap between our achievements and our targets getting ever wider.

According to the December 2017 report, if the Liberal government continues down the same path, it will fall 66 megatonnes short of the target. It will fail to meet the Harper government's target by 66 megatonnes.

What did we learn from the December 2018 report a few weeks before Christmas? We learned that we will fall 79 megatonnes short. That is 13 megatonnes more than what was predicted in 2017.

As the years go by, we are falling further behind our 2030 target. Instead of moving forward, we are moving backwards. The Liberal government's results continue to fall further and further behind the Conservative target for greenhouse gas emission reductions. The Liberal government's performance is really nothing to be proud of. Despite its claims, the government does not seem to realize the urgency of the situation.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, quoted the IPCC, which submitted a truly exceptional report last year. He told us that we have 12 years to act; we have 12 years before it is too late.

After that, we will not be able to stop or fix global warming and climate destabilization. This will lead to some massive environmental crises. Climate refugees will have to leave their homes, their communities or islands. These islands will be swept into the ocean because we were unable to take action and we did not take global warming and climate destabilization seriously, even though they are the greatest challenge of our generation. It is absolutely catastrophic.

Failures like the ones at COP24 are worrisome. Sure, some progress was made to encourage countries to be transparent, to share information about their greenhouse gas reduction plans and to compare these plans.

However, we all know that we will not be able to meet the Paris target to avoid a 2°C rise in temperature with the existing plans some countries have put forward. The target was to have just a 1.5°C rise in temperature. We will not reach the 1.5°C target or 2°C target with the plans and strategies that have been put forward by western countries and the major developing countries.

There were discussions in Katowice about setting more ambitious targets. They focused on recognizing how, even if we manage to meet our targets, it will not be enough and how we need to be more ambitious. Rather than reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to 517 megatonnes by 2030, Canada may need to consider reducing them to 490 or 480 megatonnes.

We need to make a decision about what to do. If we do not and we stick with the work plans that are on the table right now, the earth's temperature could increase by 3°C or 4°C by 2050. That would be catastrophic in many respects. It would result in natural disasters, such as droughts, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and forest fires. Last summer, British Columbia experienced more forest fires and bigger forest fires than it has in years. Montreal had a heat wave. It was 35°C in Montreal and people died because it was too hot and their bodies could not cope with the heat. This sort of thing is going to happen more and more often. Our targets are not good enough to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. They are not good enough to prevent global catastrophe and climate deregulation that will lead to human suffering, displaced populations, war and reduced economic prosperity.

We will not meet our targets, and we cannot even acknowledge that we should have aimed higher and seen the bigger picture, that we need to take responsibility.

Aurélien Barrau is a French astrophysicist I really like. He is the kind of scientist who sometimes dives into these discussions because he feels that, as a scientist, he has a duty to get involved and sound the alarm. A few months ago, he delivered an absolutely brilliant talk that is available on the Internet. He talked about how global warming is a threat to life as we know it.

In a recent interview on French television, Mr. Barrau said something I found devastating but true: a few years from now, our children will view us as criminals. That really got me thinking. Many of us here and at home have children and grandchildren or have friends who do. I would not want my sons and daughters to be going through hard times a few years from now and blaming us because we failed to step up, do the right thing, and make the green transition happen when it needed to happen. That time is now. We have 12 years.

Humanity faces no greater challenge than the fight against climate change. It will take a monumental effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than put in that effort, what has the Liberal government done besides making fine speeches at international conferences? It bought a pipeline. It took $4.5 billion of our money and bought a leaky 65-year-old pipeline so it could triple oil production, which also means more greenhouse gas emissions. We are going backwards.

If we have the money to buy a pipeline, could we not use it to invest in renewable energy instead and create jobs for the many communities that need them? Renewable energy is not just the way of the future, it is the way to prosperity. It means jobs for today and tomorrow. Kinder Morgan thought it was too risky to hang onto the Trans Mountain pipeline, so it decided to sell it, but it could not find a buyer. Not one private company wanted to buy it, because of the multiple risks involved. Then along came the Liberal government. It decided to drop $4.5 billion of our money on a pipeline no one wanted, and then it decided to spend $7.4 billion to triple oil production and make the pipeline even bigger.

This pipeline crosses 800 rivers and waterways in British Columbia. Today we have learned that it is going to endanger a threatened species, the southern resident killer whales. The team that made a submission to the National Energy Board wrote that, because of marine shipping, the project is going to have significant adverse effects on the ecosystem and habitat of the killer whales. That is understandable, since tanker traffic will increase by 700%.

The government is spending money to say it is going to protect our oceans and the B.C. coast, but at the same time it buys a pipeline that will increase marine traffic, endangering a species that is already threatened. As for the coast, the oil we are talking about is heavy oil. In the event of an oil spill in a river, a lake or the ocean, which would be even worse, no one knows exactly how that type of oil will behave. There is a good chance that after a certain period of time the oil will sink to the bottom, and it will be nearly impossible to clean it up. These are important factors.

Last November, an Equiterre report gave us some insight into this government's choices. The Liberal government is investing 12 times as much money in the oil and gas sector as it is in renewable energy. We propose doing the opposite, investing in solar, wind, tidal and geothermal energy, as well as in electric cars, to change the way we think about the economy so that we have a new clean, green economy that will create good jobs for Canadians.

Export Development Canada alone gives at least $10 billion to the oil and gas sector. Last year, it was more than $10 billion, since we have to include the $4.5 billion that was invested in the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

We have a collective responsibility that goes beyond the re-election of a government or an MP. We have to have the courage to do things differently and make the shift that we have been slow to make here. That is why 300,000 people signed the Pact for the Transition and have decided to make an effort. They will compost and recycle their waste and eat less meat, for example. Why is the Liberal government unable to follow the public's example and make the right decisions for the future?

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4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, we have had the opportunity this morning and this afternoon to listen to interventions from both the Conservative Party and the New Democrats on this particular piece of legislation as it relates to sustainability. We witnessed that the Conservatives talk only about the economy. That is the only thing that matters. They never really mention the environment. We see from the NDP only discussion about the environment, never talking about the economy.

I spoke in the emergency debate that we had on the intergovernmental report on climate change, and I cannot recall if that member was here. It was a passionate discussion.

I think we can all come to the conclusion that, if we are going to be successful at this, it will be in a way that will not jeopardize our economy. Based on everything that has come from the NDP, it sounds as if it would jeopardize the economy if it means trying to get this right, but in reality that would only put us back and not advance the issue forward.

I wonder if the member could at least comment on whether he thinks it is important to bring these two issues together.

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4:15 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, but I do not think he listened to my whole speech. I talked about jobs, for today and tomorrow, at least 12 times.

All reports and estimates show that millions of jobs in sustainable development and renewable energy will be created around the world. By investing in fossil fuels, we are failing to remain competitive with other countries. We could be leaders in certain areas of expertise and create jobs for Canadians, but we are failing miserably. This is what the Liberal government does not understand. It insists on investing in yesterday's energy sources, when we want to invest in the energy sources and jobs of tomorrow.

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4:15 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, one of the problems with the New Democratic Party is that it seems to send inconsistent messages. Let me give a tangible example. The NDP government in Alberta supports many of the issues related to the expansion of pipelines, taking into consideration indigenous people, the environment and the different stakeholders. The Alberta NDP government supports that.

The LNG in British Columbia is the biggest private sector–government investment that we have seen in the history of Canada. Svend Robinson, a prominent New Democrat, says it is a bad idea. The NDP leader says it is a good idea. It seems to me that the NDP does not know what to say about the environment, especially if it happens to be in government in Alberta or B.C.

Where is the consistency? Is Jagmeet right or is Jagmeet wrong? Canadians would like to know, in regard to the LNG. I think they would also like to know his thoughts about British Columbia versus Rachel Notley.

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January 28th, 2019 / 4:15 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Jagmeet Singh is coming here, Madam Speaker. That is one thing I know.

I thank the parliamentary secretary for his question.

The New Democrats have always strongly supported workers, while still being environmentally and ecologically responsible. The Liberals get all worked up and cry about how we need to save the planet and how it would be catastrophic to do nothing, but they do nothing. All they have done is invest more in the oil and gas sector, buy an old pipeline and triple oil production. They managed this file so poorly that the the courts quashed the project. They are not able to move forward, primarily because they did not respect indigenous communities and their rights. It is ironic that the parliamentary secretary brought this up, since they have been so incompetent with Trans Mountain that the courts stopped the project.

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4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his activism in fighting for the environment and the economy.

What is clear in this debate is that the Liberals cannot manage the environment or the economy. The example that the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie cites is very striking.

We have a government that is willing to splurge $15 billion for the Trans Mountain pipeline, which is a money-losing pipeline that they tried to pretend was actually earning money. This leads to a net job loss in British Columbia because of the closure of the Parkland refinery as a result of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Therefore, we are talking about net job losses even before we talk about the threat this project represents to the fishery and tourism industries in British Columbia. It is threatening thousands of jobs.

We have a Liberal government that cannot manage the environment, is incapable of fighting back against climate change and at the same time has made a complete and utter mess of any sort of economic basis for the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Does my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie feel that the Liberals have in any way managed effectively either the environment or the economy?

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4:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question. I do not believe he will be surprised to hear me say that the Liberals have done a very poor job of managing environmental and economic issues, especially the taxation file.

We were told that they would abolish the loopholes for CEOs, which cost us hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Four years later, the loopholes are still there. We were told that it was unacceptable for people to put money in tax havens because they are not paying their fair share of taxes. However, new tax agreements were signed with more tax havens. We were told that major corporations must contribute. Do Netflix and other web giants pay taxes? No. When it comes to taxation, the Liberals have failed miserably.

As for environmental stewardship, it is nothing but words. You would think you were listening to Dalida. It is rather ironic, but absolutely nothing has changed. As my colleague from British Columbia mentioned, it is true that purchasing the Trans Mountain project has caused job losses. Moreover, as environmentalist Mike Pearson pointed out, some habitats, such as salmon habitats, are already at risk or have been destroyed. He stated that during the preliminary work, and even before the project was blocked by the court, salmon habitats had already been damaged or destroyed because of this government's decisions.

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4:20 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, let us come back to amendment 2 made by the Senate, which the government rejects and the NDP supports.

Imagine that I am the Government of Canada and that I want to award contracts for major projects. It seems to me that I would have the upper hand. It would be pretty easy to award the contract to the lowest bidder, but I could also decide to award it to the bidder who offers the best chances of achieving our greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Why does the government not make the most of this advantageous position to promote environmental protection in order to eventually reach the targets we hope to achieve?

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4:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am not an inspector, investigator, or police officer, but I know the old question: who profits from crime? Why is there some sort of loophole? Why would we allow those who sign contracts with the government to get around the criteria for achieving the objectives of the national sustainable development strategy?

It is only logical for those people to have the same obligations as the rest of us so that we can all move together in the same direction. However, that is not the case. It seems like the government is giving companies and subcontractors a gift, some sort of free pass. It is not like me to say that, but the Senate is telling us that this needs to be included in the bill. A simple amendment to section 10.2 would ensure that all companies involved are subject to the same obligations, which would prevent any one subcontractor or company from having a competitive edge. They would all be required to move in the same direction and meet the criteria under this government's sustainable development strategy.

Why are the Liberals not doing that? It makes no sense.

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4:20 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I am rising to confirm that tomorrow, Tuesday, January 29, shall be an allotted day.

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

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4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in our new chamber to speak to Bill C-57 and to continue to represent the people of Whitby, who have graciously allowed me to be here and who I know are very interested in the environment and issues that relate to the sustainable development goals.

I be splitting my time with the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

The bill responds to a number of recommendations from the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I would like to thank the committee members in this place and the other place for ensuring we have legislation that focuses on ensuring increased accountability by departments and agencies for setting and achieving a very ambitious sustainable development target, one that promotes close collaboration with all agencies through a whole-of-government approach. It sets a higher bar with respect to transparency, with improved reporting, oversight and continued conversations with indigenous peoples and individuals right across Canada to respect diversity and gender parity. It provides improvements through our robust and wholesome look at a federal sustainable development strategy, ensuring it incorporates the different views of Canadians across our country.

We have released the draft 2019-2022 federal sustainable development strategy. It is open for comment by Canadians until April 2. We want Canadians to help make the strategy stronger, so I would invite individuals to provide their commentary on that. The sustainable development goals data hub is on the Statistics Canada website.

I get a lot of questions from young people. Millennial kids, for example, email me and are seized with what we are doing as a government to ensure we keep on top of our commitments around sustainable development, particularly the environment, and to ensure we leave a world that is better for them, our children and grandchildren.

I happened to be part of the delegation that went to the UN last year with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, at which Canada gave its voluntary national review on sustainable development. It was a great moment for Canada to be there to express its commitment to a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development.

Today we are talking about the amendments that came from the other place. We accepted amendments 1 and 3. I know that other colleagues have questioned why our government did not accept amendment 2 to have incorporated in some of the contracts the sustainable development goals and targets. We have not supported this amendment because it goes beyond the policy intent of the legislation, which purpose is to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.

I want to reference the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and member of Parliament for Central Nova. Last year, he spoke to the legislation quite passionately. In his comments on amendment 2, he spoke to the 2018 report, a progress report that shows that we are on target to meet many of the targets set forth in the 2016-2019 development strategy. In particular, in December 2017, he spoke to the fact that almost 8% of coastal marine areas were being conserved or were on track to reach our target of 10% by 2020.

He also referenced reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets. We have achieved a 28% reduction in GHG emissions relative to 2005, more than half way to our target of 40% by 2030. The progress report highlights that we are well on our way to achieving this target. When we talk about protecting terrestrial areas and inland waters, we are not moving fast enough. Through having a whole-of-government approach and legislation that focuses on ensuring we are measuring those targets, we are able to see where we are doing well.

I mentioned our marine and government approach to reducing GHGs and where we could improve. We saw that we were not moving fast enough to protect our terrestrial and inland waters. Therefore, in budget 2018, we invested $1.3 billion in biodiversity and conservation to help us bolster that target and ensure we keep on track.

I would like to outline some of our government's accomplishments. We have heard others in this place talk about what we have done on the environment and our environmental stewardship, as well as putting a price on pollution, our insistence that polluters pay for the damage they do to our country. However, more important, we cannot just look at climate change in a silo.

One of the principles of the legislation is to ensure there is a whole-of-government approach. We have taken initiatives to ensure that climate change does not negatively or disproportionately impact individuals in our society who may not have a lot of means. We introduced Canada's first-ever poverty reduction strategy. That is built upon previous investments from the Canada child benefit, our national housing strategy, our public transit investments and our investments in the Canada workers benefit. We know that individuals who are working to become part of the middle class tend to be more negatively impacted by climate change, so we have to put in buffers. We have to put in place the means to ensure those individuals are well protected.

We know women and children are often the first to feel the brunt of the impact of climate change. We have a strategy around gender equality, ensuring we are looking at the legislation that comes before us through a gender lens and ensuring that women are given the opportunities they need to thrive in Canada and do so successfully.

For our indigenous population, we are working toward ensuring long-term water advisories are lifted by March of 2021. We are well on our way to doing that.

A number of initiatives need to be put in place to ensure we are not looking at the impacts of climate change in a silo. We have taken leadership around ensuring our climate plan is secure. However, we have also put forward different initiatives to ensure all Canadians, no matter their means, no matter their diversity, are able to have a sustainable future in our country. While we look to protect our environment, we also need to have the capacity to grow our economy and have good, well-paying jobs not just now but in the future.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, the Federal Sustainable Development Act actually articulates a policy, a principle, of intergenerational equity. Effectively, intergenerational equity is that we do not deprive future generations of prosperity and wholesomeness by spending money wildly for the current needs of the nation. Intergenerational equity is about understanding that future generations have a right to supply and serve their own needs without a burden being imposed upon them by previous generations. However, we have seen the government embark upon huge deficits, when it promised small deficits. The Liberals promised that they were going to balance the budget. They have now said that no, they are not going to balance the budget by 2019 as promised. They are going to do it in 2040, and by doing so they will impose a tax burden and a debt burden on future generations.

How does the member square her government's performance on this file, an appalling performance, with the intergenerational equity principle articulated in the Federal Sustainable Development Act?