Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased and honoured to speak this evening in this very important debate about the future of our country and our planet and, of course, the impact of climate change.
First, let me pay my respects to the new member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith. I cannot say whether he is here or not, but I can recall that he made his first entrance into the House of Commons at 2:16 p.m. as a new member of Parliament. I wish him the best.
I know that his mandate will be short, only four weeks, but I am sure he will appreciate it. The people will then decide in 150 days from now if he will maintain his job. I can assure him that the Conservative Party of Canada will have a strong candidate against him, but he should not take it personally.
The reason I salute the arrival of the new member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith today is that it is a perfect illustration of why we are gathered here this evening to debate a government motion on climate change. Against all odds, the Green Party won the byelection, and the next day, the Liberal members and ministers said this proved that the environment is important. However, this vote was also a judgment on the ruling Liberal Party. The Liberals came not first, or second, or third, but fourth. That is the message that the people of Nanaimo—Ladysmith sent the government. They do not trust it to handle environmental matters.
That is understandable, because the motion moved today is completely non-binding and fails to reflect the real facts, namely that this government has done absolutely nothing positive or constructive to improve the situation in the past three and a half years. On the contrary, the only solution it has come up with is to tax Canadians and send $4.5 billion of taxpayer money to Houston. More on that later.
Since we believe that the government's motion was not strong enough and, more importantly, it did not contain any binding elements that would force the government to take immediate action, the member for Abbotsford, my distinguished colleague from British Columbia, whom I, like all members of the House, hold in high esteem, presented an amendment in which we repeat the most important words from the original motion. Before I read it, I would like to remind the House that my colleague is also the Conservative environment critic. Everyone in the House has the utmost respect for this man, who has served his constituents in the House for over 10 years and who held very high positions in the previous government, including that of international trade minister. He is the one behind some of the trade agreements that we have today with a number of European and Asian countries. That said, here is our motion:
That the House recognize that:
(a) climate change is a real and urgent global problem requiring real global solutions...
(b) human activity has an impact on climate change....
(d) the government’s own “Clean Canada” report shows the government is falling short of the Paris targets by 79 million tonnes;
...the House call upon the government to produce a real climate change plan that will enable Canada to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions...
Who could be against the facts?
The amendment moved by my colleague from Abbotsford goes to the heart of the debate. We recognize the reality, we recognize that we must take action, we recognize that human activity has an impact, and we are calling on the government to introduce an action plan.
We are therefore confident that this government will support the motion, which is straightforward and, most importantly, shows that the Liberals have missed the mark and that all their measures have not led to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
In that regard, I am always happy to remind the House and all Canadians that greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by more than 2% under the leadership of previous Conservative governments. I am not the one saying so. It is right here in this document, which I would be pleased to table after my speech with the consent of the House, naturally. I am confident and certain that my colleagues will agree. I have tried to table this document about 300 times in the past three years. Perhaps they will agree this time. This is a document from Natural Resources Canada, and it shows that between 2005 and 2015, when we were in power, greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 2.2%. What has the current government done? In the past few years, it has imposed the Liberal carbon tax.
One fine morning, the Prime Minister rose in the House and said he would be negotiating with the provinces and proposing an action plan. “Negotiating” is one way of putting it. The provinces were told that if they did not set up a carbon exchange or implement a carbon tax, the feds would slap their own carbon tax on them. That is not exactly a positive, constructive, progressive approach to negotiation. It is telling the other provinces what to do, and if they do otherwise, the government forces its tax on them.
That is exactly what happened. The Liberals proposed the Liberal carbon tax, which came into effect on April 1. The tax is having a direct impact on taxpayers' wallets but no impact on greenhouse gas emissions. I will come back to that later.
First, I would like to underscore the glaring hypocrisy of the Liberal tax. The Liberals make a lot of noise about their lofty principles and putting a price on pollution. What pollution is that, exactly? Big polluters are exempt from the Liberal carbon tax.
I had a wonderful day last Friday with my colleague from Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup and my constituents. My constituents do not understand when I tell them that the big polluters are not subject to the carbon tax. Why does a humble business owner in an industrial park have to pay the Liberal carbon tax, while a major polluter does not?
This is the hypocrisy of the carbon tax. The government did everything it could to hide emails. I remind members that our government asked public servants to analyze the real cost of the tax. This analysis was released on October 20, 2015. “Released” is a big word. I cannot show the document I have here, but if I could, you could see that it is heavily redacted. The document in question, dated October 20, 2015, the day after the election, says that the memo focuses on the potential impact of the carbon price on households' consumption expenditures across the income distribution. This is exactly what we want to know. It then goes on to share the findings, but those are completely redacted. The government is hiding the main findings. People hide information when they are not confident. That is what happened with the Liberal carbon tax.
As I said earlier, on top of the Liberal carbon tax, the government took $4.5 billion from taxpayers. It could have used that money to invest in renewable energy or in research and development, or to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint. Instead, the Liberal government took $4.5 billion in taxpayers' money and sent it to Houston to buy a pipeline. That is what people do not understand.
How can this government brag about its lofty environmental principles on the one hand, while taking money out of taxpayers' pockets and sending it to Houston on the other hand? That makes no sense. It is insulting to anyone who believes in developing our natural resources in harmony with environmental initiatives. We believe that the Liberal carbon tax is completely off the mark. It is being imposed on people who do not want it. That is not good.
It is clear that imposing a carbon tax will not reduce greenhouse gases. It is not an economist or a forecaster saying so. The facts speak for themselves. Quebec has a carbon exchange system. I know what I am talking about, because I was a member of the National Assembly when it passed. We have a real example, not a hypothetical one or a study. Quebec has had a carbon exchange, which is a way of taxing pollution, for the past five years. In fact, the Prime Minister even said a choice had to be made between a carbon exchange and a carbon tax. It was one or the other. The goal is the same.
What is the real, concrete, scientifically calculated and proven result? We have the result. On November 29, at the National Assembly, the newly elected Premier rose and tabled the document that I have here in my hands. Again, I cannot show it to members, but it is entitled “Inventaire québécois des émissions de gaz à effet de serre en 2016 et leur évolution depuis 1990 — GES 1990-2016”. What did we learn from this document created by Quebec's department of the environment and tabled by the Premier of Quebec at the National Assembly on November 29? We learned that for 2014, 2015, and 2016, the first years that the carbon exchange was fully in place, greenhouse gas emissions did not go down. They increased—minimally, admit, by 0.1%, but they did not decrease.
This proves that imposing a tax or a carbon price is not going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If the primary objective of the Liberal carbon tax is in fact to ensure that we have a healthier environment and less greenhouse gas emissions, those who say that the tax is effective are not telling us the real story. I am not talking about studies done by any Tom, Dick or Harry. I am talking about a study done by the Quebec department of the environment on the reality of the carbon exchange here in Canada, in the Province of Quebec. Taxing pollution does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those are not my words, but those of the Quebec department of the environment.
In fact, I still think that is a shame. The government is playing politics, and I should know. Seriously though, I have asked the government to table this document at least 15 times, and the Liberals unfortunately keep refusing. This is why we the Conservatives have a different approach. The Liberals want to impose taxes and we want to provide assistance. In the coming weeks, the Leader of the Opposition will present the Conservatives' environment plan. Three weeks ago, 800 federal Conservatives from across Quebec gathered for a rally in Victoriaville. They came together thanks to the extraordinary leadership of the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, our political lieutenant. We introduced 58 candidates out of the 78 ridings. Several more have joined since then, and more will be announced soon. I do not want to give anything away, but you may find a hint in the papers.
At this event, when our party was gathered in Quebec, our leader gave a speech announcing several elements that will guide our actions if we are fortunate enough to win Canadians' trust 150 days from now. Our environmental plan will be based on three elements. First, we will help Canadians lower their greenhouse gas emissions. Second, we will make sure our plan is really concrete and is applied in a way that is positive for everyone. That means getting back into research and development. Lastly, we will export Canadian expertise. Those are the three main thrusts of our plan.
The Liberals want to tax, whereas we want to help. We want to help Canadians, businesses, provinces and municipalities reduce their environmental footprint. We have already unveiled the beginnings of that initiative. In January, speaking in Montreal, our leader announced that he will be working with cities to minimize sewage dumps into rivers like the St. Lawrence. It is all well and good to say that the environment and rivers are important, but dumping billions of litres of sewage into the St. Lawrence does not help the cause one bit.
Some may recall that while certain people were in Montreal lecturing Canada about the environment, a massive dump was in progress, sending millions of litres of filthy sewage into the St. Lawrence.
The three main components of our plan will be to help Canadians reduce their consumption, to focus on research and development, and to export Canadian expertise. I am thinking of expertise in areas like hydroelectricity, which has been proudly developed in Quebec over the past 75 years with some major projects. It started in the 1950s with the Bersimis power station and continued into the 1960s with the Manic station, the 1970s with the James Bay station, and the 2000s with the Romaine station.
Thanks to all these major projects, Quebec can be very proud of the hydroelectricity it generates. We need to seize this golden opportunity to export that knowledge.
Our plan goes beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions by helping Canadians in their daily lives; it also includes what we call the energy corridor. We have been working on that for some time now. I was really looking forward to seeing the future prime minister, the Leader of the Opposition, make our plan public so that we could finally talk about it.
That will be a real, true nation-building project. This is so exciting for me. It is so great for Canadians. We need to do that. For the future of this country, we need to do that.
This corridor would enable us to use electricity from Quebec everywhere in Canada. We could transport natural resources from Alberta and western Canada all across Canada. That is a win-win situation.
This 500-metre or one-kilometre corridor will go through Canada's north, where it would have social licence because we will have the support of the first nations. They will be partners in Canada's prosperity. This is an exciting project.
Canada could get its electricity from Quebec. Quebec will have a golden opportunity to provide electricity to any Canadian province it wants.
We will also allow our natural resources from Alberta and Saskatchewan to be exported to markets in eastern Canada. That is precisely what people want.
I already hear people saying that Quebec does not want a pipeline. In Quebec, there have been pipelines since 1942, long before Alberta's oil boom of February 14, 1947. In Quebec, there are 2,000 kilometres of pipelines as well as nine pipelines under the St. Lawrence. In 2012, Quebec launched a brand-new pipeline from Lévis to Montreal. That is 248 kilometres of pipeline passing through nearly 630 lots and 26 waterways, including the St. Lawrence. It works so well that no one talks about it and no one knows about it.
We are capable of doing things the right way. That is exactly what the Conservatives want to do. We will be able to ensure economic prosperity and at the same time develop our natural resources in an appropriate and sound manner, while meeting our climate change responsibilities by helping Canadians, municipalities, cities, the provinces and businesses reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, by focusing on research and development and by exporting Canadian know-how and expertise.
I hope that the government realizes the value of the amendments moved by the member for Abbotsford. I am certain that it will vote for our amendment.