Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to our government's motion about climate change, brought forward by the hon. Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
I applaud the minister for bringing forward the motion. I and my constituents know that climate change and its effect on the environment is the most pressing issue facing our planet, as do the courts of the country. About three weeks ago, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal called it an “existential threat”.
This motion declares, rightfully, that Canada is in a national climate emergency and it should be supported in a non-partisan manner by every member of the chamber.
We know that climate change is real and that it is a product of human activity. We understand the urgency of the situation, an urgency that was underscored by the IPCC report released in October 2018, which prompted an emergency debate in this chamber. We know from that report that we have 11 years to limit a climate change catastrophe. A recent report from officials within the Government of Canada at Environment and Climate Change Canada tells us that Canada is actually warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, and I will return to this point later. Therefore, urgent change is needed to limit the risk of extreme weather events, some of which we have already begun to see happen at home and around the world, and the repercussions that follow them.
These repercussions are many. They can range from extreme poverty to an impact on the physical health of Canadians to even the movement of people with respect to fuelling a migrant crisis. The motion before the House is about that. It is about addressing these situations, and this needs to be done as a matter of urgency.
The motion also acknowledges the fact that climate change especially impacts coastal, northern and indigenous communities. These groups are often the first to experience the effects of climate change because of the heavy reliance on the lands they live on in order to sustain themselves. Whether it is the alteration of animal migration routes, the dwindling numbers of certain species of animals in provinces like B.C., Alberta and the territories, such as moose or caribou, or the degradation of habitat in coastal communities leading to marine ecosystems disappearing, these communities on the front line of climate change feel the brunt of its devastating effects.
Since 2015, our government has consistently invested in measures that will shore up protections against climate change. We have invested $500 million in the Canada nature fund, which is available to the provinces, territories, not-for-profits, corporate and other partners, that allow us to secure private lands, support environmental species protection efforts and help build indigenous capacity to conserve land and species.
We have invested $1.5 billion in the oceans protections plan, the largest of its kind in the world, helping to restore marine ecosystems and creating innovative cleanup methods. As well, we have made a $1.4 billion investment in the low carbon economy leadership fund which will support clean growth and reduce greenhouse gases.
We are putting this money on the table and co-operating with provinces that want to co-operate. We have made that funding available to municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals and organizations even where provincial governments do not want to co-operate with the low carbon economy leadership fund initiative. I am speaking specifically about the province I represent in the chamber. The government of Doug Ford has clearly stepped out of the battle against climate change, which I will address later on in my comments.
In last year's budget, we also invested $1.3 billion for land conservation, the largest such investment in Canadian history, which will more than double the amount of protected areas in the country.
There are $20 million to support a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change.
Also, Bill C-69 is geared at addressing the environmental assessment system and ensuring that consultation with indigenous communities is at the forefront, as well as protecting our marine species and waterways when we are considering energy projects.
However, members on this side of the aisle are under no illusions, and I will be crystal clear on this. We know that despite the initiatives I have mentioned, despite the real progress we have made, there is still much more to be done to ensure a cleaner future for our children and our grandchildren. The motion recognizes this.
The motion talks about working harder to meet the emission targets under the Paris climate agreement. It also talks about making even deeper reductions in line with the effort to keep global warming below 1.5° C. I have heard about this in my riding, in Toronto, in Ontario and throughout the country in the travel I have undertaken for my parliamentary duties.
I have heard it in my riding from entities such as Green 13 and the Greenest City. I have heard that from significant stakeholders like environmental defence and the leadership of Keith Brooks. I have heard that from people like Catherine Abreu at Climate Action Network. They are saying that the writing is on the wall and we need more ambition. This motion addresses the need for more ambition.
The single most important step is the economic step that was raised in the previous contribution to this debate about putting a price on pollution. Therefore, let me say a few things about the price on pollution.
First, this was initiated by Stéphane Dion when he was the leader of the Liberal Party back in 2008. Then it was vilified as a green shift and a completely abhorrent policy by then leader Stephen Harper. That was inaccurate then and it remains inaccurate now. Unfortunately, the vilification continues with inaccuracies, untruths and outright falsehoods being propagated about this policy. Let us list them, because they are numerous.
First, we are working on a policy that came into place in January against businesses. The plan does include businesses. This is falsehood number one which has been perpetrated by the side opposite.
Second, it is a very basic concept that pollution should not be free. When it is free, we have more of it. When it is not free, we have less of it. The logic is that simple. Basically, elementary kids understand it. They are the kids who are leaving schools on Fridays for Future because they are trying to convince adults, some of whom are in this chamber, about that very simple logic.
Another important aspect is that it has somehow been labelled as a tax. I am trying not to be a constitutional lawyer about this, but allow me one point here. A tax is something collected that goes to general revenue. It is money collected through something like a GST that can be spent on streetcars in Toronto or bridges in Halifax. It is spent as the government of the day sees fit.
A regulatory charge is revenue neutral. One collects money, attributes it and spends all of it on one particular program. That is exactly what this is. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal found exactly that. This is a revenue neutral regulatory charge. I am stupefied by the inability of the members opposite to grasp this, because they voted on this issue and it is entrenched in the bill. They did not support it, but hopefully they would have read it.
Fourth is that no one is getting anything back. That is just false on its face. There is something called a climate action rebate incentive that is being returned to people. It is $307 for a family of four in Ontario. It is larger in places that are more rural. In fact, there is even a rural top-up. Money is going back into people's pockets. It is not being taken from them. Eighty per cent of people in the country will be better off because of this process. It is a process that has been shown to work. Where has it been shown to work? Places like British Columbia have had this process in place for the longest amount of time.
This is one that I absolutely adore, that we do not have the jurisdiction to act. Again, let us take it back to that grade three elementary logic. Air pollution and water pollution traverse provincial borders. Ergo, the national government has jurisdiction to act. That is exactly what we are doing. That is exactly what the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal validated.
What I find most troubling is that underpinning all of this is some sort of skewed logic. When one goes to the climate change conference, which I did in Poland last year, one sees the United Nations literally begging the nation states of the world to take action on what is not just a national problem; it is an international problem. Nevertheless people like Jason Kenney, Scott Moe, Brian Pallister and Doug Ford are saying that the Government of Canada does not have the jurisdiction to act. That is false on its face. It has been shown to be false in law. It is also fallacious logic and it is unbecoming of people in the chamber to perpetuate it.
All of this information is readily available to discerning people. We try not to patronize, but try to elevate the level of debate, not only for the people in the chamber but for Canadians who can grasp these issues.
Some of those Canadians are stakeholders in my riding. I want to outline some of the important advocacy they have done, like Cycle Toronto that advocates for active transport. We have delivered that with more bike share stations. There are people in organizations like Roncy Reduces in my riding. It talks about addressing the need for plastics by curbing the demand for plastics and by encouraging people to take things like Tupperware into stores in Roncesvalles Village so they are not using styrofoam containers. That is leadership and it starts at the grassroots level. It is organizations like Roncy Reduces. It is organizations like Cycle Toronto. Organizations like Green 13, Green Parkdale and the Greenest City are pushing this forward. They are educating me. They are educating other parliamentarians. They are educating all of us, of all ages to get tough with this issue. It is an existential threat. We need to call it an emergency because that is what it is.