House of Commons Hansard #435 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was change.

Topics

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

June 17th, 2019 / 4 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, in relation to the consideration of Government Business No. 29, I move:

That the debate be not further adjourned.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In accordance with Standing Order 67.1, we will now proceed to a 30-minute question period.

Members will recall that the preference for questions during the 30 minutes is provided to the opposition, but not to the exclusion of some members from the government side. I ask all members who wish to participate in the 30 minutes to now rise, to indicate how much time will be afforded.

If members could keep their interventions to approximately one and a half minutes, that will get through the members who wish to participate.

A final reminder is that members can speak more than once, should the need arise or it be necessary in the course of the 30 minutes.

We will now proceed to questions, with the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to take note of the fact that the government introduced this motion over a month ago. The government House leader has not put this back on the agenda, which, for one, kind of belies what the Liberal government actually thinks constitutes an emergency.

Two, the Parliamentary Budget Officer this week panned the government's carbon tax, saying that it would not work. Then the environment minister said that the Liberals were not going to increase the price of carbon, so they admitted that their carbon tax is a cash grab. She is responsible for dumping millions of litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence. As well, the Prime Minister could not even answer to Canadians what he was doing to reduce plastics use.

If it is such an emergency, why is the Prime Minister jetting back and forth today from the Raptors parade, creating a big carbon footprint?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Catherine McKenna LiberalMinister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, it is really important that the House comes together to vote on the increasing climate emergency that we are seeing here in Canada and around the world.

Scientists did a report on the science behind climate change here in Canada. It found that Canada is warming at twice the global average, and three times or more in our north. We know we need to take action on climate change. We know that the science is clear, including the science around extreme weather and the links we have seen already this year, with floods in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. They were supposed to be once in a hundred-year floods and are now happening every several years. That is having a real impact on people's lives, property and on the economy.

When it comes to Alberta, we are already seeing wildfires. We know the science behind climate change. The changing climate report shows we can expect that wildfires will start earlier, will burn longer and will have a greater impact. We need to take action on climate change. I am hoping that the whole House comes together to show Canadians from coast to coast to coast that we understand there is an increasing climate emergency. We understand the science behind climate change, and we understand the need to do work here at home to meet our international obligations.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the point. The science says that pushing through TMX, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, will massively increase greenhouse gas emissions for Canada. The science says, as well, that if we continue to massively subsidize billions of dollars a year to the fossil fuel industry, we are going to simply accelerate climate change. The science says all of those things.

The NDP brought forward a climate emergency motion over a month ago. The Liberals voted it down, because we called for what science calls for exactly, which is stopping the fossil fuel subsidies that the Liberals love to lavish on the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and stopping the Trans Mountain pipeline.

A month later, after this motion simply languishing, all of sudden, on the eve of the Trans Mountain rubber-stamp, the Liberals are bringing it back. They are bringing it back with a vicious type of closure that basically shuts down debate completely. Is the reason that they are bringing in this toxic type of closure today, after letting this motion languish for weeks, not because tomorrow they are going to rubber-stamp and ram through Trans Mountain and they are embarrassed about the consequences on climate change?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hope the member opposite and his party will support our motion that we have an increasing climate emergency.

I know the NDP cares greatly about taking action on climate change, but we also have to make sure we grow the economy and create good jobs. That has always been our focus. Affordability is something that Canadians care about. That is why we put a price on pollution. However, we are giving the money back to people, such that 80% of people will be better off, especially low- and middle-income people.

That is why we are also making investments in clean innovation. That is creating jobs across the country. I have been in British Columbia and have seen amazing companies, like Carbon Engineering, in Squamish, B.C. They are taking CO2 out of the air and then using it to create clean fuels. That is the kind of innovation that is going to create good jobs.

We have made historic investments in public transportation so that people can get around cheaper, faster, cleaner. We are working across the board. We understand that we need to tackle climate change; we need to protect to environment. We can do that at the same time as growing the economy and making sure that life is affordable for Canadians.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, as has been mentioned, this motion was first introduced just over a week ago. Here we are today, and it is being pushed through.

There is some hypocrisy entangled within the motion that is being brought forward by the Liberals. I will comment a little on that. The government says that its so-called climate action plan is to impose a carbon tax on Canadians, but then it is allowing the largest emitters in Canada to get off scot-free. They are off the hook. Meanwhile, everyday Canadians, small business owners, moms and dads who are driving their kids around to sports games, are paying top dollar on the fuel that they use as well as the natural gas they use to heat their homes in Canada. That is not really an option, especially for those in my constituency, Lethbridge, where our winters are -30°, -35° C.

The idea of a carbon tax is a theory, but it does not work in reality. Instead, we should be focusing on looking after our rivers and waterways, on conserving our land and making sure that wildlife is protected. We should be making sure that we are making investments in green technologies.

Let us talk about the hypocrisy with regard to the St. Lawrence River, the waste that is being dumped in it and the government having done absolutely nothing to stop that.

If we are going to talk about the environment, then let us have a real conversation about the environment, and let us make real changes for it, rather than speaking out of one side of our mouth and doing something different, which is exactly what the Liberals are doing.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to see last week that Pope Francis met with major energy companies. He said that carbon pricing was essential to combatting climate change. He appealed to climate change deniers to listen to the science. He said, “For too long we have collectively failed to listen to the fruits of scientific analysis and “doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain..”.

Pope Francis is so focused on this, because the most vulnerable, the poorest among us are the most impacted by climate change. We need to take action. He was very clear that there needs to be price on pollution, that it can no longer be free to pollute, because we are paying the price. The people who are paying the price are the most vulnerable among us. That is a basic teaching of the church, that we need to be standing up for the most vulnerable, that we need to be working together to protect what he has called “our common home”.

Laudato Si, the encyclical of the Pope, is very clear about the need for us all to come together, which I hope this House will do. We need to come together to tackle climate change, to realize it can no longer be free to pollute, to understand that we need to do the hard work at home to meet our international obligations. We are all going to need to do more.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

King—Vaughan Ontario

Liberal

Deb Schulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, some people in my riding are questioning why we need to declare a climate emergency.

While climate impacts are being felt around the globe, in my riding, we are seeing impacts, with irregular weather, hotter summers, invasive species killing our trees, and affecting our health, for instance with Lyme disease and the West Nile virus.

However, there are those who are questioning the need to declare this a climate emergency. Can the Minister of Environment and Climate Change please share with the House the purpose of declaring a climate emergency?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for all the work that she has done to protect the environment, to tackle climate change, including previously as head of the House of Commons committee on the environment.

The reason we need to recognize that we have an increasing climate emergency is because that is what the science tells us. The science says that Canada is warming at twice the global average, three times more in our north. If we are to take serious action on climate change, we need to understand the science, we need to recognize the science and we need to act on the science.

We hope that everyone in the House will come together and we will show Canadians from coast to coast to coast that we understand the science behind climate change, including the impacts that the member spoke about in her own riding.

We recognize that extreme weather is linked to climate change. We recognize that we need to take action and we need to take it now. We recognize that we need to take action at home to meet our international obligations. We all need to do more.

It is important to show Canadians and the world that Canada understands. It is time for us to act. It is good for our economy, it is good for our environment and we owe it to our kids.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think we can all agree that when it comes to addressing climate change, we need policy that is based on fact and scientific evidence. When we hear the Parliamentary Budget Officer say that the $40 per tonne price on carbon is not going to allow the government to meet its Paris targets, that is something we should digest, internalize and perhaps change course on.

For the minister to now go from saying we need a scientific-based approach to making this about religion, is hypocritical. Is she going to quote religion on other areas of policy? We have to get away from zealotry and dogma, which is what the minister has made her whole career on. It is the church of climate change and policies that will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If the minister really cares about climate, why is she making this about religious dogma as opposed to putting forward a plan that would actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Why is the government invoking closure on a debate where we could be discussing these exact things and sussing out a policy that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change in a meaningful way?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my point was that people around the world, including the Pope, understood that climate change was having an impact and that we needed to act. In fact, that meeting was between the Pope and major energy companies.

The member opposite cares greatly about jobs and about getting our resources to market. Those companies met with the Pope to say that a price needed to be put on pollution.

Let us talk about our climate plan. We have a climate plan and we are committed to meeting our targets. We have noted that we are not just doing a price on pollution, but we have other measures.

What are we doing as part of our climate plan? We are making historic investments in public transportation. We are phasing out coal and investing in renewable energy and a just transition for workers, because we need to ensure people are at the heart of it. We are investing in clean innovation and energy efficiency. We are working with provinces on electric vehicles to ensure people have more affordable and cleaner options. We are making investments in affordable housing, but ensuring that those investments are the most energy efficient, so that people with the least amount of money can save money.

We are going to continue acting on climate change. I hope the party opposite is going to present its climate plan. We really hope it will show how the Conservatives will meet the target right in Canada through clear action.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I find it very troubling that we are talking about moving closure on a motion to declare the climate issue in Canada a crisis. As the minister said, Canadians are concerned, above anything else, about climate change. All I hear is about the forest fires and the floods.

Yesterday I was in my home in Penticton and at one o'clock in the morning, my neighbour banged on my door to tell me to get out of the house because there was a big forest brush fire 200 metres from our houses. We had to get out. Luckily, three fire departments came and put the fire out.

People are very concerned about this, yet the Liberal government tries to stand behind its targets, which the IPCC says are inadequate. Climate action tracking websites say that our actions are highly insufficient. We should be debating this in the House for as long as it takes to get across to everybody here. We have to work across party lines and across provincial borders to get this done. Moving closure on this sends a very bad signal to the Canadian people.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know how much my hon. colleague cares about taking action on the environment. It sounds like it was a terrible situation last night. This is, unfortunately, what we are seeing across the country. Wildfires are now starting earlier in the season because it is much drier. They are burning longer and they are more destructive. We see clear links to climate change and we will continue to see this.

The reason we need to have this discussion and the reason it is important that we have this vote before the session ends is because Canadians deserve to see whether everyone in the House understands the science behind climate change, understands that we increasingly are in a climate emergency and understands that we need to do our part at home. We need to meet our international obligations and then, like everyone in the world, we need to do more. This is a critical discussion. I am very hopeful. I believe the NDP will support this motion.

However, the big question is this. Will the Conservatives support the motion? Do they understand that Canadians expect us to act right here at home? Do they understand that we need to take the measures to reduce emissions, that we can do it in a way that makes life affordable the same way we have done with putting a price on pollution and giving the money back to Canadians, that we need to move forward as a country, that we should not be fighting in court, that we should not be having sticker campaigns like Premier Ford and that we should be taking serious action on climate change?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, according to the Prime Minister's itinerary today, he started the morning in Ottawa. He then flew to Toronto. He will then fly to Ottawa. After that, he will fly to Montreal. After he is done in Montreal, he will fly back to Ottawa for the climate emergency vote tonight.

What does the Challenger jet fly on? Does it fly on good intentions or is it just that the Prime Minister is a high-carbon hypocrite?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. I would ask the hon. member for Perth—Wellington to consider the use of those kinds of characterizations. As the members have seen, they lead to disorder. I really ask hon. members to think about how they phrase things, especially when they are talking about characterizing or assigning adjectives to other hon. members in the House.

The hon. Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians want to know is whether Conservative politicians understand that climate change is an increasing emergency. There is a real question out there. There has been a number of cases where the Conservatives have openly questioned the links between extreme weather and climate change.

Jason Kenney, the Premier of Alberta, says that climate change is like the flavour of the month. There are forest fires burning such that he cannot do a press conference to talk about how he killed a price on pollution, because it is so smoky in the legislative building.

Doug Ford is cutting programs for flood management and forest fire management, while there are floods and forest fires. He is funding sticker campaigns so small-business owners will have to pay fines if they do not mislead Ontarians about the cost of a price on pollution and the money that goes directly back to people, that this is shameful that we need to take action on climate change.

Young people are striking every Friday. They are looking for leadership from everyone in the House to stand and say that we have an increasing climate emergency. We need to take action, we need to make decisions based on science and we need to come together to meet our international obligations and then, like the world, we all need to do more.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, the students in Guelph from the community environmental leadership program and the Headwater Group had a town hall where they had the mayor, the MPP and me, as the MP, being challenged to recognize the climate emergency.

At the beginning of the session, I was not sure what they meant by that. By the end of the session, it was very clear that they were asking us to look at our policies, look at our budgeting and look at how we were protecting the natural environment as an emergency, as something that needed to have action now. They also asked about our alignment with international partners and what Canada was doing to lead in the international stadium. I had a follow-up meeting last week on Skype with those same students, who were calling on us to take action as a federal government.

Could the minister update us on our international obligations as well as how we develop policy, budgets and protection of natural habitat with respect to managing this crisis and emergency we are facing?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have had a chance to visit the member's riding to see what the university is doing, to see what local businesses are doing in the community and how much they care about the environment and are taking action on climate change.

We started in Paris with the Paris agreement. We played an active role at the negotiating table. People were happy that Canada was there saying that we recognized the science, that we needed an ambitious agreement. For the first time ever, the whole world came together and agreed that we all needed to take action on climate change.

Then we came home. We did the hard work. We developed a national climate plan that has over 50 measures, from phasing out coal, to putting a price on pollution, to making historic investments in public transportation and clean innovation. However, we have not stopped. We are doubling the amount of nature we are protecting because that is natural sinks. It is also good for species at risk, which I know are a concern in the member's riding as well. We just announced incentives for zero emission vehicles. We are tackling plastic pollution. We are not going to stop because we know we have an opportunity to do a lot better.

We did not get it out of the stone age because we ran out of stones. We got smarter. This is progress and we will continue to move forward for Canadians.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the debate in the House of Commons does not do justice to the crisis we are in. For my Conservatives friends, when we arguing over the costs of the carbon tax, the costs of unmitigated climate change are going to completely dwarf anything we are arguing about now in future generations.

With respect to the minister, I know her heart is in the right place and I know many of my Liberal colleagues are as well. However, with respect to this motion, I look at what the government has done, spending $4.5 billion of our tax dollars on an export pipeline. Is this the economic future in which we want to be investing? How long is the pipeline going to operate for, another 10 years, maybe 20 years or 30 years? In 2050, are we still going to be exporting three times as much bitumen as we are presently? Is that where we want to be?

To use an analogy, the reason Wayne Gretzky was such a great hockey player was because he was always going to be where the puck was going to be, not where it was currently. That is what we need to do as a country. We have to look at where we want to be in 2050, 2060 and put ourselves on a projection toward that. It does not involve purchasing an oil pipeline, tripling its capacity and investing in fossil fuels that rightly belong in the past.

We have to do the just transition. We have to be faithful to our workers, use their skill sets and get them in the new energy economy of the future. I do not see actions with respect to the government paying attention to the seriousness of the motion before us today.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I totally agree. We need to move to the economy of the future. That does not happen overnight, but we are working extraordinarily hard. We have invested over $40 billion in everything from public transportation, to green infrastructure, to clean innovation to investments in science and research. That is critically important, but it is also critically important we still create jobs.

When we look at the LNG Canada, it is the largest foreign direct investment in Canada's history that will create tens of thousands of jobs. The NDP members initially supported this project, which is supported by the NDP government in British Columbia, but now they have flip-flopped and are against this project. That is not how we will transition to a cleaner future. We need to figure this out.

Transitions take time. They require thoughtfulness and they require a great ambition. That is what we are doing. We are doing what we need to on climate change at the same time ensuring that when we phase out coal, there is a just transition for workers and communities. We put a price on pollution to give the money back to people so life is more affordable for 80% of families, especially low and middle-income.

We are going to continue to do that because we need to figure this out together. When I talk to Canadians, they want us to take serious action on climate change. They also want good jobs and they want life to be affordable.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, talking about thoughtful transitioning, it would be interesting to see if the Prime Minister would show some leadership on this issue. It is interesting to note his itinerary for today. He started out his morning in Ottawa. He is now in Toronto and he is coming back to Ottawa. He is going to end his day in Montreal and we expect him to be back in Ottawa for tomorrow. How does he propose to tour around the country in this manner without a carbon economy?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, sometimes I really wonder about the debate. Is this really the biggest issue? We are talking about a climate emergency.

I noted that the Leader of the Opposition was also celebrating the Raptors. That is a great thing. We the North. I am really happy the Raptors won. I bet probably everyone in the House is happy the Raptors won, but they still want a serious climate plan. That is what we have. We have a serious climate plan, a plan that will phase out coal, that will invest in clean innovation, that will invest in energy efficiency, that will make sure we are looking at biofuels for planes and that we are investing in the economy of the future, but we continue to hear things from Conservatives that are not in the big picture.

We need to take action on the climate change, we need to figure out this transition, and I really hope Conservatives will show Canadians that they are serious about climate change. I hope they will vote for this motion, recognizing we have an increasing climate emergency, that we need to meet our international obligations through actions right here at home, and that the science between climate change and extreme weather is clear. I hope they will have a serious climate plan.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedThe EnvironmentGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have heard from Conservatives on the other side of the House on a number of occasions talking about the Prime Minister flying from here to there and his carbon footprint. The reality of the situation is that every member in this House has a larger carbon footprint than probably the average person in our communities based on the fact that we have to travel to get here. They say it as though any one particular individual has the ability to change everything, as though if only one person wanted to drive an electric car, suddenly the entire industry would boom.

What they are missing, and I want the minister to comment on this, is how this is a solution that can only be achieved if we work together toward a common goal. Calling individual people out is not going to help us move in the right direction. How do we do this collectively in a way that moves societies forward when it comes to real change for our carbon footprint?