House of Commons Hansard #418 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.


The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario


Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change


That the House recognize that: (a) climate change is a real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity, that impacts the environment, biodiversity, Canadians' health, and the Canadian economy; (b) Canadians are feeling the impacts of climate change today, from flooding, wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather events which are projected to intensify in the future; (c) climate change impacts communities across Canada, with coastal, northern and Indigenous communities particularly vulnerable to its effects; and (d) action to support clean growth and meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all parts of the economy are necessary to ensure a safer, healthier, cleaner and more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren; and, therefore, that the House declare that Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires, as a response, that Canada commit to meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement and to making deeper reductions in line with the Agreement's objective of holding global warming below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to address the House of Commons today with respect to our government's motion asking all parliamentarians, elected by Canadians from coast to coast to coast, to acknowledge and declare that climate change is an emergency, that the science behind climate change is clear and that we all need to come together to meet our international obligations.

Why do we need to do this?

Let us listen to Greta, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden. What did she say? She said, “Our house is falling apart, and our leaders need to start acting accordingly.” However, it is not just Greta who is standing up. Young people across Canada are demanding serious climate action from us, elected leaders, who have the ability to act.

Louis and Sara, from Quebec, organized the world's largest demonstration, and they are calling for government action on climate change.

Every Friday, Sophia from Sudbury is out on the streets for Fridaysforfuture. Amelia from my riding of Ottawa Centre is putting posters across Ottawa Centre talking about climate change.

Let me tell members about Carter.

Carter is a young Inuit boy from Cambridge Bay. I met him when I was on a ship in the High Arctic. He sat down beside me and said that he was worried about what he was seeing in his community. He thought that some of the impacts he was seeing were being caused by climate change.

I was lucky to be on a ship with my amazing Environment and Climate Change Canada scientists. I had one of them sit down with Carter. Carter started talking about what was happening in Cambridge Bay in his community. He talked about things that broke my heart. He talked about how when hunters went out to hunt, their feet would get stuck in thawing permafrost like quicksand. He talked about the caribou disappearing, the food on which his community relies. Then he said the saddest thing. He talked about how, after a millennia of hunting on snowmobiles, hunters were now falling through the ice because they could no longer tell its thickness.

We need to come together as a country. We need to join governments from around the world that recognize we are in a climate emergency and we need to act like it.

Today, I had the opportunity to present our scientists' report on climate change in Canada. This report shows that Canada is warming at twice the global rate and at three times that rate in the north.

That means our oceans are acidifying. That means we see more extreme weather events and we will continue to see more and feel the impacts.

The Arctic and North Atlantic oceans will lose their summer pack ice.

As sea levels rise, our coastal areas will flood even more.

I do not need to tell Canadians just about the science; let us talk about what is happening.

Right here, in the national capital region, we have seen the impacts of climate change. Three years ago there was a flood, a flood that was supposed to be a once-in-a-hundred-year flood, that devastated communities. Folks were out of their homes. People were sandbagging. People were worried they were losing their homes and livelihoods. They rebuilt. Then what happened?

Last year in the summer, tornados we had never seen before hit the same community. What happened this year? Now these folks are dealing with another flood. This is a flood that was only supposed to happen once in 100 years. Now we are seeing these events every few years.

We can also talk about what happened in Quebec last summer. Temperatures were so extreme that people died. They died because it was too hot.

Look at what happened out west. Forest fires are burning longer and brighter than ever before. These have real impacts on people. I talked to a mother who worried about whether her kids should go outside because the air quality index was 10 or higher, which meant it was dangerous.

We know the science behind climate change. We know the impacts. It is important that we now come together as a country and act. We may not always agree in the House about which solutions are best, but surely we can agree on the problem, that climate change is an emergency like none we have ever faced before and that we all need to do more to ensure a cleaner, more prosperous future for our kids and grandkids.

Everyone needs to do their part to combat climate change and build a cleaner future for our planet.

I am the second longest-serving environment minister, and it has been a huge honour. I often reflect on when I started this job. Two days into the job, we were off to the Paris climate negotiations. I was not alone. The Prime Minister was there. Members of the opposition were there. All parties were represented. Premiers, indigenous leaders, business leaders and young people were there. We fought for an ambitious Paris agreement.

After a decade of inaction, after a decade of stalling on climate action, my colleagues told me they were happy Canada was back at the table to be serious about climate action.

That is what we did. We pushed and we made an ambitious agreement, with recognition of indigenous rights and recognition of the importance of the markets. Then we came back to Canada.

What did we do after that? We had our own work to do, because this is not just about signing an agreement with the world. We need to do our part. For a year, we negotiated with the provinces, territories and indigenous peoples. We heard from Canadians, businesses, environmentalists and youth.

We listened to Canadians. We negotiated for a whole year, and we came up with a made-in-Canada climate plan that was made by Canadians. That was a very proud moment, because we showed that we could be serious on climate change, that after a decade of inaction we could have a serious plan that brought folks together and took serious action to not only tackle climate change but to grow a clean economy. The reality is that we do not have to choose. The environment and the economy go together in the 21st century. However, that requires work. That requires finding solutions that are unique to Canada.

Let us talk about our climate plan.

Yes, it is no longer free to pollute. I was extremely proud when the Prime Minister announced that it was no longer free to pollute in the country, because if it is free to pollute, there will be more pollution. We are giving the money back to people, because we know life needs to be affordable. We can do both. We can put a price on pollution to reduce emissions and put more money in people's pockets so they can have choices and can be part of the solution when it comes to tackling climate change.

We invested historic amounts in public transportation. We were the only party to say that those investments needed to be made.

Now we have public transit projects across the country. Right here in Ottawa, light rail transit will mean the largest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Ottawa's history.

We have also been investing in our entrepreneurs and inventors. I am seeing clean solutions across the country from coast to coast to coast. It is incredible to see businesses stepping up with clean solutions that not only we but the world desperately needs, which means that we can export and create good jobs right here.

We are also phasing out coal, but we are ensuring a just transition for workers and communities, because everyone has to be part of this transition. We are making historic investments in renewables. We have more than 50 measures outlined in the climate change plan that we made with Canadians. We are moving forward on that plan, and it is making a real difference.

However, we are committed to doing more. That is why we have a sustainable finance task force, with some of the brightest minds trying to figure out how to unleash the trillions of dollars that we need to move to a cleaner future.

That is why we have two experts, Vancity's Tamara Vrooman and Steven Guilbeault, from Quebec, advising us on how to do more in the transportation sector and build buildings in ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We are committed to doing more. We are doubling the amount of nature that we are protecting in Canada. That is a good thing, because Canadians love nature, but we also have a biodiversity crisis that is made worse because of climate change. We just had a report that said the planet may be losing up to a million species, and climate change is one of the major contributing factors. We need to be doing more to take care of what we love—our land, our water, our air, our animals.

We are tackling plastic pollution. The creation of plastics creates emissions and so does getting rid of them, and we have too much plastic. We know that if we do not take action, we will have more plastic pollution in our oceans than we will have fish. That is a huge problem, and it is something that we can solve. We are wasting money by throwing out plastics that have value, billions of dollars. We will find ways to move forward, to ban unnecessary single-use plastics, to innovate and find other solutions and alternatives, and to work with countries around the world, because pollution knows no borders.

Unfortunately, we have an opposition of Conservative politicians from across the country who do not seem to understand that we are in a climate emergency, that we have to do more rather than less, that the science is absolutely clear, and that we have solutions that work.

Previously we had a Progressive Conservative prime minister, Brian Mulroney. He tackled the biggest challenge I faced when I was growing up, which was acid rain. I was worried that we were going to poison our lakes and rivers, and Brian Mulroney stepped up. He pushed the United States to take action with Canada. He listened to scientists. He talked to our business people to find solutions. What else did he do? He put a price on pollution, and we were able to tackle acid rain.

We can do this. We are a great country. We can figure this out. However, the only way we do that is by coming together. Polarization will end any action on climate change. We have seen that story. We have seen that story south of the border. We also see it in places like France.

That is where the yellow vests movement started. Of course people want life to be affordable. Fighting climate change has gotten harder. I saw that when I was in France for a G7 meeting last week.

We need to bring Canadians together. In the three and a half years I have been in this job, I realize that yes, we need laws; yes, we need regulations; yes, we need investments, but most of all we need to bring Canadians together.

Canadians, whether a farmer in a small town in Saskatchewan, an Inuk who lives in Cambridge Bay, a person who lives in Prince Edward Island or downtown Toronto or Ottawa centre or British Columbia, care about our environment. Canadians care about clean air and clean water. They want to tackle climate change, but they also want life to be affordable. They also want good jobs. We can do both. We can make sure that the environment and the economy go together.

We know how to solve these problems, but we need to stop fighting with each other. People need to stop telling the kind of falsehoods we keep hearing from Conservative politicians and premiers in this country. They say fighting climate change costs too much, so we cannot do it. They think putting a price on pollution is just a way to fill government coffers, but that is not true.

It is false. We have a plan. We put a price on pollution and we are giving that money back. A family of four in Ontario will get $307.

We are taking action to put a price on pollution but giving the money back to families, such that a family of four in Ontario will get $307. That is more than 80% of what families pay.

Why would Conservative premiers want to not tell the truth? The truth is that we can tackle climate change and do it in a way that is affordable. Why would there be a sticker campaign to mislead Canadians? Why would there be advertising using taxpayers' dollars to mislead Canadians?

We are bringing this motion today. It is not a partisan motion. Everyone should be able to support it.

What does the motion ask? The motion asks that we recognize that climate change is an emergency, that the science behind climate change is clear, that we need to meet our international obligations.

I know we can do this. I know we are a country that has come together, that has faced so many challenges. Think about the efforts that we put in during the two great wars. We stood up. We stood up as a country. We built this great country, and we are blessed because we have amazing natural resources in this country. We have a beautiful country. Our unspoiled wilderness is one of the largest in the world.

Most of all, we have our people. We were elected by Canadians from coast to coast to coast, who expect us to stand up, who expect us to make decisions based on science, who expect us to take action to tackle climate change, who expect us to come together on the biggest challenge that we face and expect us to answer our kids. Our kids are marching in the streets, demanding that we step up.

We know what the problem is: We have too much pollution. We know what the solutions are and we need to be coming together. It is so critically important that we recognize the science, that we recognize that we have an obligation to come together, as we said we would in Paris, to meet our international obligations, to be serious about tackling climate change, to not fight about whether we need to take action but come together and fight for more action and push each other to look at what more we can do, yet always remembering that people are at the heart of what we do. We need to make sure that we bring folks together.

I have learned in this job that I am the Minister of Environment and Climate Change for all Canadians, not only for environmentalists but also for people who work in the energy sector, for people who live in the north of the country and people who live in major cities. I recognize that. It means that every day I work hard with Canadians to find solutions.

When I look at what is happening, I see towns across the country taking serious action on climate change because they cannot ignore it. When there are floods, they have to be there. When Constance Bay is once again hit by another flood, the elected municipal leaders need to be there. They are there helping to fill sandbags, because they cannot ignore the science on climate change.

I see it with Canadian companies. There are so many incredible companies that are working so hard to tackle climate change. They are coming out with amazing, incredible solutions. Whether it is CarbonCure out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, or Carbon Engineering out of Burnaby, these companies are finding amazing solutions. They are showing us what we can do, showing us that we have the ingenuity, that we know what the problems are and can figure out the solutions.

That is why I am asking everyone in this House to come together, to put partisan politics aside and vote for a very simple motion. It is not a complicated motion and it is not a partisan motion. All it asks is that everyone in this House stand together and recognize that the science behind climate change is clear. It points to the fact that we are in a climate emergency and that we need to meet our international obligations.

Canadians will be proud.

Canadians will be proud that we can put political differences aside and say that climate change is a problem but that we can tackle it. We were elected by Canadians to stand up and deal with hard issues, to represent them, to show leadership and to be their voices right here in the House of Commons. I ask everyone to recognize that we need to act. We have a climate emergency.

Greta is asking, and children across Canada and around the world are asking, will we be serious? Will we recognize that there is a climate emergency? Will we stand up and take the action we need to and act?

It is their future. We are only borrowing this planet, and we will pass it on to our children and grandchildren. We owe it to them to pass on a sustainable planet. We owe it to them to ensure that they have good jobs and that life is affordable. We owe it them to come together.

We need to take action now for our children and grandchildren. They are asking us to. They are marching in the streets every Friday because they want us, their elected representatives, to show leadership. Are we going to stand up and say that there is a climate emergency and we need to come together to meet our international obligations? It is simple.

It is a simple request, and it is actually very reasonable. It is reasonable that they would want us to act. It is reasonable that they would ask us to put aside our partisan differences and actually come together to tackle the most challenging problem we face with the Canadian can-do spirit. We can figure this out. We can provide the solutions the world needs, and we can be creating jobs.

I am very proud that our government has a climate plan that we worked on and developed with Canadians. At the same time, we have created one million jobs. We can do both, which is something we all must recognize. Taking action on climate change is not a choice about the environment or the economy. We can do both. We can grow the economy and take serious action on climate change. That is what Canadians expect us to do, and that is what we are delivering on.

However, if we do not come together, we may lose all of this progress. It is a simple request: that we all stand up for the science behind climate change; that we stand up and recognize that we are in a climate emergency; and that we stand up and say that, yes, we are going to meet our international obligations and we are going to come together to do that.

I hope all parliamentarians will vote in favour of this motion and recognize climate change science, the climate emergency and the importance of meeting our international obligations.

I know that we can do this. I have seen it across the country. I have seen that Canadians are committed to acting. Now we need to act like leaders. We need to be serious about tackling climate change. We need to come together, and we need to do it now.

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

There are a lot of interesting questions. I would ask hon. members to keep their interventions to no more than one minute.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Abbotsford.

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that the environment commissioner, the Auditor General, the United Nations itself, the Pembina Institute, Environmental Defence and the Climate Action Network all say that the minister is not going to meet the Paris targets she actually signed in Paris. I was there and saw her sign. We accepted in good faith that she was going to bring forward a plan that was going to meet those targets. It is very clear that she is not meeting those targets.

David Suzuki, when asked whether the Liberals would meet the Paris targets, said:

No, we’re not going to make it. [The Prime Minister] was like, the sun came out and we praised him to the skies....

I emailed him after he signed and asked, “Are you serious about what you just signed?” And he emailed back and said, “I am very serious.” We celebrated, we praised him, but the easiest thing to do is sign a document, especially when the end isn’t for years and years. He knows bloody well that he’s not going to be around in 2030.

Does the minister now admit that her government will not meet the Paris targets?

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to meeting the targets. We have a plan that gets us three-quarters of the way there without even factoring in things like investments we are making in public transportation, the doubling of protected nature, the investments in innovation and action by provinces.

Do members know what will ensure that we do not get there? It is defeatist attitudes like that. When the Conservatives bring up points like that, it confuses me. Does it mean that they do not want us to meet our obligations?

We are working hard every day. We negotiated a plan with provinces and territories, and we are holding them to account. Provinces led by Conservative politicians have to do what they said they were going to do. After a year of negotiations, we all agreed that there was going to be a price on pollution. We are moving that forward and giving the money back to Canadians. We need to be serious about taking action. We are absolutely all in. I just hope the party opposite is too.

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are contradictions within this debate. The government talks about this being an emergency and a crisis, but it also went out and bought a $4.5-billion pipeline, and it plans to expand it by tripling it. It is a bit of a contradiction. I think the minister, in a quiet moment, could admit to do doing harm, while saying that they are doing a benefit, and that the targets will not be met.

I want to speak to her about something very specific, which is larger than even the issue of climate change, and that is our role as parliamentarians. Last night, the Senate committee voted to kill C-48, a government-sponsored bill on the north coast tanker ban, which I had sponsored in a previous Parliament. The government campaigned on this, as did four out of five parties in this House.

This is a democratic question I ask. I think this is the first time in Canadian history that a government-sponsored bill is threatened with defeat at the Senate, which this government reformed, perhaps creating a bad problem and maybe making it worse.

What will the minister do to join with us not only to protect the north coast from the threat of oil spills and to make sure that this bill becomes law but to push back on the unelected and unaccountable Senate that is looking to overturn the democratic will of this House, as expressed by Canadians in the past election? This does not just have an effect now; it will affect future parliaments and the expressed will of Canadian voters in those elections.

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, sadly, I know the member opposite is leaving this House. I want to thank him for his efforts on so many files, including on the tanker ban.

I am concerned about what happened. We campaigned on this. We believe that this is critically important. I will do whatever I can to work with the member opposite and the party opposite to make sure that we move forward on this. The Senate has a very important role, but so does Parliament, and this is a very important piece of legislation.

In terms of flip-flops, it is hard taking action on climate change while making sure that we grow the economy and create good jobs. Unfortunately, the leader of the NDP said that he no longer supported LNG. That is 10,000 jobs. It is something I know the member opposition supported, because he knows it creates good jobs in his riding. He also knows that the B.C. NDP government is all in on climate change. My question to the member opposite is why.

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, throughout her speech, time and again, the minister said that we need to bring Canadians together, that this is about bringing Canadians together and that through their action, they have brought Canadians together. However, we have not seen a more divisive environment since the Prime Minister's father was in office. It is all because of the condescending remarks we hear from the minister, who speaks to Canadians as if they are uneducated. She speaks to parliamentarians as if they are uneducated. However, my question is not going to be about that.

I want to know how the minister can stand in the House and talk about her climate action plan while still approving billions and billions of litres of raw sewage being emptied into our rivers, lakes and streams.

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. The reason municipalities are having challenges with sewage is that the previous government made no investments in waste water treatment facilities. We have made historic investments. I have seen it here in Ottawa, where we have made investments that are going to make a huge difference in making sure that we do not have untreated sewage. This is a top priority of mine, and we are working very hard as a government to make the investments that cities and municipalities need.

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick


Alaina Lockhart LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Tourism

Mr. Speaker, Fundy Royal sits on the banks of the Saint John River basin and beside the Bay of Fundy. We have seen the direct impact of climate change. We have seen unprecedented flooding. We have seen coastal erosion. We have seen our local infrastructure overwhelmed.

What is amazing to me is that while the communities in my riding and the people in my riding are turning toward making sure that their homes are more resilient and that their communities are more resilient, we are sitting here having a debate about whether there is actually an emergency. Clearly, there is.

While the opposition seems to be screaming about what this is going to do to kill the economy, I am impressed that the businesses in my riding are coming to me with innovative ideas about a green future. Whether it is biodigesters or upgrades to asphalt operations, they are making changes.

If we could come together and actually agree that there is an emergency here and that we need to take action, how much further could we go to support these communities, these people and these businesses?

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to really thank my hon. colleague for raising what is happening in her riding. This is what is happening across the country. We have businesses that are innovating. We have cities and towns that are figuring this out.

Imagine what we could do if we did not spend time in question period having to answer questions about a price on pollution. We know that a price on pollution works, and we are giving the money back.

Imagine if we spent time asking these questions: What are the big ideas? What are the big innovations? Who are the entrepreneurs and inventors we should be supporting? What more can we do to make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change they are facing?

Once again, I hope that the House comes together to show Canadians that we understand the science, that we understand that there is urgency and that we are committed to meeting our international obligations and to working together.

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

May 16th, 2019 / 11 a.m.


Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I note a lot of inconsistencies in the speech made by the minister, who says she is moved by young people who are sounding the alarm and by scientists.

She wants us to rely on reports from IPCC scientists, among others, but her own department recently produced a report that says that, under the current government, greenhouse gas emissions went up by 12 million tonnes over last year.

The cost of inaction is estimated at $1.6 billion a year, and it could increase to $43 billion a year because nothing meaningful is happening to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

The Liberals are incapable of eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. They are investing in the Trans Mountain pipeline, which triples oil sands production and adds seven times the number of oil tankers at sea, leading to even greater risk. This makes absolutely no sense.

Will they at least commit to eliminating fossil fuel subsidies?

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her dedication to fighting climate change.

Our plan includes more than 50 measures, such as phasing out coal, ensuring a fair transition for communities and investing in renewable energies.

Yes, we said we would eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

We now have a transparent process. We have eliminated eight out of nine fossil fuel subsidies in our tax system. We have a process.

We have to make sure that there are not unintended consequences. The NDP wants to immediately eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, but what would that mean to northern communities that actually have subsidies to make sure that energy is affordable for them?

We need to figure out the transition. We need to figure out a way that makes sense for people at the heart of it, that makes sure that life is affordable and that we are creating good jobs. Yes, we are absolutely serious about tackling climate change.

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

We are out of time.

I appreciate the interest, participation and co-operation of members in keeping their interventions succinct. We will make note of the other members who wish to put questions and comments and make sure that we can get them involved in the debate that follows.

The EnvironmentGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has a difficult job, and I understand her frustration. She has to defend a climate plan that has failed miserably. She does not know where to turn, because the Prime Minister is jetting around the world, embarrassing Canada on the international stage.

However, she started her speech by claiming this was a non-partisan issue, when of course the motion before us is fiercely partisan. Then she said, in all those warm and fuzzy statements, that she hoped this House would come together, I guess suggesting there would be a Kumbaya moment. Then she launched into a fiercely partisan speech.

In fact, she went so far as to suggest that the Conservative premiers in Canada, namely in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and P.E.I., were liars. She said they were not telling truth, and we know that means. We are not allowed to call each other liars in the House, but she said in the House that those premiers were not telling the truth, as if she is the virtuous one telling the truth.

The rest of her speech was, of course, partisan, so how does she expect to bring this House together? How does she expect that Canadians are going to believe her, when her plan has failed so miserably?

Let me talk about the motion. I want to highlight a few parts of it. The motion states in part:

That the House recognize that: (a) climate change is a real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity, that impacts the environment, biodiversity, Canadians' health, and the Canadian economy; (b) Canadians are feeling the impacts of climate change today, from flooding, wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather events which are projected to intensify in the future; (c) climate change impacts communities across Canada, with coastal, northern and Indigenous communities particularly vulnerable to its effects; and (d) action to support clean growth and meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all parts of the economy are necessary to ensure a safer, healthier, cleaner and more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren—

So far, for the most part, we can come to a consensus on this. We might quibble about a few words, but there is general agreement that we have a very serious global climate challenge that needs to be addressed, and Canadians are prepared to do that.

The motion then goes on to say, “and, therefore, that the House declare that Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires, as a response, that Canada commit to meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement”, and I would ask members to remember those words, “and to making deeper reductions in line with the Agreement's objective of holding global warming below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

That is the end of the motion, and the last part of it has some very serious problems for the government. It is the government's motion and the government's climate change plan, so how is that all working out?

Before I comment on that, I want to highlight that all of us in the House acknowledge that climate change is real, that we as humans contribute to climate change, and that we must do our part to address that challenge. I believe Canadians understand that problem. They understand that we face a global challenge that needs to be responded to globally, and that Canada can play a very helpful and constructive role in delivering a lot of the solutions required. I will get into that a little later.

This motion actually has nothing to do with taking meaningful action on climate change. This is effectively political posturing by the Liberals.

Let us think of the timing here. We are days before this Parliament comes to an end. We are on the eve of an election. For almost four years, the current government has done virtually nothing on the climate change file. The plan that the Liberals tabled with the premiers in Vancouver about six months after they were elected is an abject failure. They are scrambling because this is the last piece of their legacy that has any ability to survive, and they come up with a motion declaring a national emergency when actually the challenge is a global one.

It gets worse. The political posturing here is actually jaw-dropping when we place it in the context of the government's record of failure on the climate change file. It is the current government that adopted the Paris targets. By the way, those were the previous Conservative government's targets. Members may remember that the Liberals said they would take those targets but treat them as a floor. The Liberals said they were going to increase those targets. They accepted the Conservative targets and baked them into our Paris Agreement commitments. What happened? We were supposed to make progress. We were supposed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by a couple of hundred megatonnes by 2030.

Are we on track to do that? We all know we are not. In fact, the government's own documents show that in 2016 the Liberal government fell 44 megatonnes short of meeting its Paris targets. In 2017, the Liberals were 66 megatonnes short. In 2018, the latest report says they are 79 megatonnes short. We can see that this is going in the wrong direction. The report goes so far as to signal that by the time we hit 2030, the government could be up to 115 megatonnes short of its Paris targets.

This is the party that was doing all the virtue signalling in the last election. The Liberals were the “green party”. They were going to deliver for Canadians. They were going to go to Paris and sign on to really ambitious targets, which ended up being the Stephen Harper targets, and now they are not even meeting those targets. In fact, they are falling so far behind that they have become a bit of an international joke.

I know that because when the minister was at committee a couple of weeks ago, she was asked, point blank, if she was on track to meet her Paris targets. She said yes. Then she was asked if she could provide the committee with any proof that she is going to meet those targets. She responded by holding up this skimpy document with a couple of pages. She said it was right there, and she was pointing to a pie chart.

I have the pie chart here, and it has allocated very specific commitments. One of the commitments is that the Liberals are going to attribute 13 megatonnes of reductions to the role that forests play in Canada. The problem is they do not have any science to back it up.

They are asking for credits under the Paris Agreement, when the rules to establish those credits are not in place. In fact, even at the last United Nations meeting that discusses these issues, COP24 in Poland, Brazil was holding up consensus on these rules; there is really no immediate prospect that those rules will be in place.

The government is claiming credit for something it does not have the right to claim credit for under the Paris Agreement. It also claims credit for something called additional measures. Nobody knows what additional measures are. We have been trying to figure out what those measures are. They include things like federal, provincial and territorial policies and measures, including those under the Liberals' own failed climate plan, that have been announced but are not yet fully implemented.

Here we are talking about policies that may or may not be implemented and may or may not be effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and effectively what the Liberals are asking us to do is trust them. “Trust us; we know what we are doing,” they say. Their plan is failing and they are not meeting targets, but they want us to trust them because they have a plan to make up the difference, the 79 megatonnes or the 115 megatonnes that would still leave us 50% short of our Paris targets. They have a plan.

There is another problem with the pie chart that the minister held up at committee. There is a chunk of proposed policies that would lead to about 79 megatonnes' worth of reductions if we take them at their word. However, right there, in print, it says, “These measures are unmodelled.” That means fictitious or illusory. We can come up with a whole bunch of synonyms to describe what that means. “Unmodelled” means they have not actually done the work to figure out if these measures are even going to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they are putting them in the window so they can mislead Canadians into thinking they have a plan to make up the gap in their failed environment plan.

That is what is happening. It is a charade. By the way, the additional measures the Liberals talk about also include the carbon tax, which of course, right now, is $20 per tonne of emissions.

Let us talk about the carbon tax. We know that carbon taxes will not do anything to help the environment. We cannot tax our way to a cleaner economy. Here is the problem. It does nothing for the environment, but it puts an unnecessary burden on Canadian families and small businesses, who are already overtaxed.

We know that the tax burden in Canada for the average Canadian family has gone up by about $800 per year. We also know that 50% of Canadians are $200 or less away from becoming insolvent. Do we really want to tax them more? Yes, that is what the Liberal plan is. It is a tax plan. It is not a climate plan. Members should remember, the carbon tax is a tax on absolutely everything. It will cost Canadians more to fill their cars with gas. They know that across the country, because gas prices are skyrocketing.

In my province of British Columbia, the price of gas at the pump is $1.80. Somewhere around 65¢ of that is government taxes, and the Liberals are increasing that. Right now, that carbon tax is $20 per tonne of emissions. We know that by 2022, it will go up to $50 per tonne. We also know, from government documents that I would be glad to show everyone, that the Liberals want to move to a carbon tax of $200 to $300 per tonne. That works out to another 66¢ per litre of gas.

I hope Canadians who are watching these proceedings understand what is at stake here. This is a government that loves to spend. Liberal governments are tax-and-spend governments. We know that. It is baked into their gene pool. The Liberals are talking about $200 to $300 more per tonne in carbon tax alone, but there is another kicker. Are members aware that the Liberals charge GST on their carbon tax?

It is a tax on a tax. Does any of the GST they collect on the carbon tax go back to Canadians? I am looking at my Liberal friends across the way, because they know the answer: It is no. It goes into government coffers and is spent on the government's own political priorities.

However, it gets worse. The government has said that by the end of June, it is going to announce what it calls its “clean fuel standard”. We call it the “Liberal fuel standard”. I have had stakeholder after stakeholder in my office, the ones who will be impacted by this clean fuel standard, and I have asked each one of them how much cost this will add. The carbon tax started at $20. It will go to $50 by 2022 and will probably go to $200 to $300 per tonne in the future. Now, on top of that, we have this fuel standard. How much is that expected to add on top of the carbon tax? The lowest estimate from those stakeholders was $200 per tonne of emissions, and estimates went as high as $400 per tonne.

Members can see where this is going. This is a huge, oppressive tax burden being placed on Canadians under a plan that is not working.

I have already shown that the Liberal climate change plan is not working. The Liberals are not meeting their targets. A host of people have confirmed that the Liberals are not meeting their greenhouse gas emissions targets. I will list just some of the many people who have told the minister she is wrong, that she is not meeting the Paris targets and should not con people into thinking she is.

The environment commissioner for Canada has said that. The Auditor General has said it. The United Nations itself has commented on the fact that Canada does not appear to be on track to meet its Paris emissions targets. The Pembina Institute, Environmental Defence, and the Climate Action Network Canada, which are all friends of the Prime Minister, have all said that the government is not going to meet its Paris targets. David Suzuki himself has said that Canada will not meet its targets.

When we look at the Liberals' performance, we see that they have not delivered on what they promised. It is another broken promise by the Prime Minister.

Members may remember that he promised balanced budgets by 2019. Where is the balanced budget? We now know it will not be balanced until 2040. That is when we could see a balanced budget. When young Canadians understand that, they point out to me that my generation is going to be gone, but they are going to be left holding the bag. They wonder if they will have to pay back the money that has been borrowed. I have to say that yes, that is the case.

The budget is supposed to be balanced by 2040. That date represents another broken promise. Do members remember “small deficits”? A broken promise. Do members remember electoral reform? A broken promise. Then we have the environment plan, with the Liberals saying they are going to meet our Paris targets. It is a broken promise.

I now want to talk a bit more about the Liberal carbon tax.

Liberals are very sensitive. They have a very thin skin. Whenever they are criticized, they fire back and point to the B.C. carbon tax. To them, it is the paragon of virtue when it comes to carbon taxes.

Well, we know that all the promises made with respect to that tax have been broken as well.

It was brought in under the previous Liberal government in British Columbia under Premier Gordon Campbell. For full disclosure, he is a good friend of mine. I believe when he brought this measure forward, his motives were pure. The execution probably was not as good as it could have been, but I think he meant well.

He made three promises. The first promise on this B.C. carbon tax, which these folks are trying to emulate, was that the carbon tax would be capped at $30 per tonne. How did that work out? Today, the tax in B.C. is $40 per tonne, and it goes up every year by at least $5. British Columbians have been had on that one. That is one broken promise.

The second promise was that this was going to reduce overall gas emissions in British Columbia. Today we know that is a broken promise, because emissions continue to go up. Yesterday my NDP colleague from New Westminister suggested they are going down, but all the statistics show that emissions are going up, not down. That is another broken promise.

The third promise was that this tax was going to be revenue neutral, meaning that every dollar that is pulled out of one pocket from a taxpayer goes back in the other pocket in other tax relief. Does that sound familiar? That is really the Liberals' plan.

How did that work out in British Columbia? A new NDP government came in, and the first act of that government was to eliminate the revenue neutrality on that tax. That was another broken promise. Three promises were broken with respect to the carbon tax.

Have members ever asked themselves why, out of the 50 different policies and programs that the minister mentioned in her speech, the only one that is mandatory and is being imposed on the provinces and territories with the heavy hand of the current Prime Minister is the carbon tax? It is the only tool in that 50-tool tool kit. Why is that? Why have the Liberals selected that one and why are they are so intent on jamming it down the throats of the provinces and territories?

I know, and members know. It is because this is going to be a revenue-raising tool after the election. The Liberals are going to eliminate all these funny cheques they are sending out, and Canadians will be left holding the bag. That is the way it is under Liberal governments. If it happened in British Columbia, sure as shooting it is going to happen with the current Liberal government. The plan is failing. It is actually a tax plan.

Let us talk about who this tax hits the most.

We would assume that a benevolent Liberal government would look out for the most vulnerable, the working poor, the average Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet, and not make them bear the burden of the tax. Instead, the tax would be on the biggest polluters, but do members know what the Liberal climate change plan, the tax plan, will do? It will give the big polluters an exemption of up to 90% on this tax.

Think about that. The average consumer will pay 100% of the tax that is levied. Maybe these folks have great connections to the Prime Minister, because he said the big polluters would only have to pay 10% of the amount they should be paying and that they would get an exemption of 90%. When we add up all of the money that is collected under the carbon tax, what percentage of that do members think the big polluters will have to pay? Of that big pot of money that is going into government coffers from the carbon tax, what portion is being paid by the big polluters, the ones we would expect would pay the most? It is 8%. Canadians, consumers and small businesses are left paying the other 92% of that tax.

That is shameful. That should not be happening.

We should have a plan that treats our taxpayers with respect, that actually makes measurable improvements to the environment, measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We should not be misleading Canadians about our objectives and our achievements, yet that is what the government is doing. The Liberals are misleading Canadians about their plan, and it is a failed plan.

When we look at this failed plan and the carbon taxes, we see that gas prices in British Columbia are in the order of $1.80 per litre. If we think of all the other taxes that are being levied and about how the Liberal government is already committed to raising this carbon tax as the years go by, we can see that high gas prices are going to be a reality in Canada if the Liberals are re-elected in October of this year.

However, there is very good news: A plan is coming. We have promised that we will release our environment plan before the end of June. It will be a plan that understands that climate change is a global issue, a global challenge requiring global solutions, and that Canada is perfectly positioned to deliver on many of those solutions. We are world leaders in so many areas; why would we not leverage that excellence to help the world reduce emissions?

Our plan is going to be workable, it is going to be realistic, and it will give Canada the best chance to meet its targets.

I would like to close by moving this amendment.

I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “that” and substituting the following:

the House recognize that:

a. climate change is a real and urgent global problem requiring real global solutions and that Canada can and must take a leadership role in developing those global solutions;

(b) human activity has an impact on climate change and its effects impact communities across the country and the world;

(c) Canada and the world must take urgent action to mitigate global climate change and combat its impacts on the environment;

(d) the government's own “Clean Canada” report shows the government is falling short of the Paris targets by 79 million tonnes;

and, therefore, as an alternative to its current proposal to tackle climate change involving a non-binding declaration, the House call upon the government to produce a real climate change plan that will enable Canada to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions according to the targets of the Paris agreement.

That is my amendment.

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11:30 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The amendment is in order.

Questions and comments, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

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11:30 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate some of those contributions to today's debate, but I do not have a lot of confidence in the party opposite's plan, for which we have been waiting over a year.

I stand here on behalf of my constituents from Parkdale—High Park. They recognize that there is national climate emergency. I recognize that there is a national climate emergency. I think most parties in the House recognize that there is a national climate emergency. However, it is telling that the word “emergency” is not used in the proposed amendment to today's motion by the member opposite.

I would hope the Conservatives and the member appreciates that when we look at this issue, we have to look at it much more broadly, including addressing things like plastics. Canadians are concerned about plastics and plastic pollution. We see instances, such as Roncy Reduces in my riding, where residents are taking the initiative, along with businesses, to reduce these plastics and encourage the use of reusable plastic containers.

Is that the kind of initiative we need more of at the national, provincial and local levels, including in the member's riding?

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11:35 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is the kind of issue on which we could probably make common cause. The member knows, I believe, that the government plans to release a plastics pollution strategy before the end of June. At the same time, at the environment committee, we have been undertaking a comprehensive study on plastics pollution.

Will I tell him what our plans for plastics are going forward? He will have to wait until we roll out our environment plan prior to the end of June. However, I can assure him that we are cognizant of the fact that plastics pollution is a challenge in Canada, but it is an even greater elsewhere around the world when we think of places like southeast Asia, south Asia and China. On oceans plastic pollution, we have a significant challenge. As parliamentarians, we should be working together on that.

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11:35 a.m.


Fin Donnelly NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague, the member for Abbotsford. He has pointed out that the government is dramatically failing on meeting its Paris accord climate change targets, and we certainly agree. He mentioned environmental organizations, like the Pembina Institute, and he quoted Dr. David Suzuki.

Therefore, why are the hon. member and his Conservative senators blocking Bill C-48, the west coast tanker ban, from becoming law? Why are the Conservatives saying one thing but doing another? Could he explain that?

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11:35 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry the member is retiring. I know he is going to spend more time with his family, which is a good decision to make. However, we will miss him in this place. This is probably the last time I will have the chance to publicly say that to him. I have appreciated his friendship. We have been working on one file together.

However, Bill C-48, the tanker ban, intends to shut down resource development in Canada, more particularly, the development of our oil and gas resources. That is the purpose of this ban. Our party wants to find the appropriate balance between the environment and the economy, something the NDP has never understood. The Liberals are having trouble understanding that, because they have a climate change plan that is failing because it is a tax plan.

I would encourage the member to re-evaluate what Bill C-48 actually represents. It is a smack in the face to Alberta and Saskatchewan, which are trying to get those cleaner products out to international markets. Somehow those members think it is a good thing to shut down that effort.

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11:35 a.m.


Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest and also the chair of the New Brunswick caucus, I have reached out several times to the Higgs provincial government to meet over climate change.

I wonder if my hon. colleague in the opposition has had an opportunity to reach out to B.C. Premier John Horgan to ask if he has approached or needs help with the B.C. Utilities Commission to look at regulating gas prices in British Columbia?

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11:35 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe Premier Horgan is suggesting that if the government's heavy hand would suddenly interfere in the marketplace, that would be a very dangerous road to go down. Premier Horgan does not appreciate the value of the oil and gas sector and our resource sector. He has made it very clear that he does not want to get Canadian oil and gas products to foreign markets, which is produced in a more environmentally-sustainable way than any oil and gas in any other country. He is against getting that product to foreign markets and getting maximum value for the resources with which this country has been blessed.

To answer the member's question, I do not believe that Mr. Horgan is, in any way, amenable to supporting a marketplace and finding better ways of reducing taxes than the heavy hand of regulation. The way to reduce gas prices is by reducing taxes, eliminating carbon taxes which, of course, he is not prepared to do, because it is such a significant source of revenue for his cash-and-spend government.

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11:40 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague talked about how the government was misleading Canadians on some of the parts of this climate action plan. I want to talk about one specifically.

The minister has been telling Canadians that the climate action rebate is an example of how they will get all the money they pay on the carbon tax back. This year when I filed my annual taxes, I got $169 for the annual climate action rebate. However, the cost of gas has become $10 more every time I fill up. If I fill up more than 50 times a year, which is about what I do, that is more than $500. Already, I am not getting everything back, and that is before we talk about the cost of home heating and the fact that the Liberals are charging GST on top of it and everything else.

Would the member agree that this is another example of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change misleading Canadians?

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11:40 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to agree with my hon. colleague. She knows very well that when governments promise to give money back after it is taxed, that promise eventually will be broken. Canadians have a right to be skeptical about the promises the government has made, because it has broken so many of them, such as balanced budgets, small deficits and electoral reform, along with a failed environment plan. It goes on and on and on.

The Prime Minister has broken dozens upon dozens of promises. There is no reason for Canadians to trust that the cheques they will supposedly get back or the credits on their tax returns they will supposedly get will last. They will not. The moment this election is over, the Liberals will realize they have this gaping fiscal hole. They are running a huge national debt, a huge deficit and somehow they are going to have to fill that hole. How are they going to do that? They are going to reverse themselves.

This carbon tax is, in no way, going to be revenue-neutral. Canadians are going to be hurt. They are already being hurt because they have been misled by the Liberal government.

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11:40 a.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I apologize to my hon. colleague from Abbotsford for being out of the chamber for parts of his remarks, so he may have addressed this.

What targets does the Conservative Party currently think are appropriate? If we look at the IPCC report on why we must hold global average temperature to more than 1.5°C, it is quite clear that we cannot continue to have an economy that depends on fossil fuels, but must transition out of it.

I would appreciate my hon. colleague's thoughts on what targets are appropriate for Canada to ensure we hit no more than 1.5°C.

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11:40 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course the member knows that the targets that were set in Paris were the former Conservative government's targets. We have said that the plan we will roll out prior to the end of June will give Canada the best chance to meet those targets.

For the rest of it, she will have to wait until she sees our plan. It is going to be a good plan. It is going to be a much better plan than we have received from the Liberals. It is going to be accountable to Canadians, with measurable results, measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and a global approach to how we address our environmental challenges.