House of Commons Hansard #436 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Children's RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present hundreds of additional names to the tens of thousands of Canadians who have petitioned the government over the last few months. This petition has been sponsored by activists from the Elizabeth Fry Society, and we thank them for their activism.

What the petitioners are asking for is very simple. Irregular situations mean that so many children in Canada do not have access to the programs and services that other children have access to. The Canadian government has a responsibility, under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to make sure that discrimination is eliminated.

To this point, the government has not provided an adequate response to this petition and to the requests from activists across the country that all children be treated equally and have a right to the same benefits in Canada.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Today being the last allotted day for the supply period ending June 23, the House will proceed as usual to the consideration and passage of the appropriation bill. In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bill be distributed now?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

moved:

That, given that the carbon tax will not reduce emissions at its current rate and it is already making life more expensive for Canadians, the House call on the government to repeal the carbon tax and replace it with a real environment plan.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, a beautiful riding in British Columbia.

The motion before us says that the Liberal climate plan, which is effectively a tax plan, should be replaced by a real plan that will move Canada forward to address its emission challenges, addresses the global challenge of green gas emissions and climate change and does it in a way that is respectful to Canadian taxpayers.

The reality is this. Right now the Liberals have brought forward something they call a climate plan. However, it is not a climate plan; it is a tax plan. How do we know it is a tax plan? If members remember back to when they rolled out this plan, a briefing was held by departmental officials from Environment Canada. The minister's own officials said that the foundational element of the government's so-called climate change plan was the carbon tax. Therefore, they admitted right off the bat that this was a tax plan. Of course, today the Liberals are denying that. I think Canadians understand that this is all about taxes.

There is another reason why Canadians have good reason to believe that this is nothing more than a craven tax plan to raise revenues for the government. The minister often gets up in the House and talks about the 50 different elements within her tool kit that the government is deploying to address climate change in Canada. It has a program of 50 different elements and it will let the provinces pick whatever elements they choose to meet their own targets, except for one tool. What is that tool? It is the carbon tax. Out of 50 tools, the one tool that the Liberals are going to ram down the throats of the provinces and territories, ram it down the throats of consumers and taxpayers across the country is the carbon tax.

We have to ask ourselves why this is the only tool the Liberals have made mandatory across the country? The only conclusion Canadians can draw is that this tax is an essential element in the Liberal government raising more revenues, tax revenues, in the future to spend on its own political priorities rather than on the priorities of Canadians. This is what we are left with. It is one of the reasons why we brought forward this motion, clarifying for Canadians that the Liberal climate change plan is nothing but a craven tax plan. Today, Canadians are already paying the price for that plan.

This is a cash grab from Canadians and they understand that this is on top of all the other tax increases they pay because of the Liberal government.

Members may recall that under the previous Conservative government, taxes on Canadians reached an all-time low, the lowest tax burden on Canadians for over 50 years. Today, Canadians pay, on average, $800 more in taxes than they did back in 2015. On top of that, the carbon tax is being layered on families. Fifty per cent of those families are within $200 of being insolvent. Along with the challenges Canadians have to face, where they struggle day to day to meet their mortgage payments, take care of their kids' educations, buy groceries and put gas in their cars, the Liberals are laying a carbon tax on top of that.

What is worse, and what the Liberals did not come out and confess, is the fact that there is GST layered on top of that carbon tax. Therefore, Canadians are paying a tax on tax. I think a lot of Canadians watching right now are wondering whether I am serious about this.

The price at the pump has gone up dramatically already and the government is charging GST on top of that. The Liberals claim that all this money will go back to the taxpayer, which is not true of course. It is a tax on everything. It will cost Canadians more when they fill up their cars with gas, heat their homes and buy their groceries.

The plan right now calls for this tax to move from today's $20 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions to $50 per tonne by 2022. Last week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer came out with a report that said that in order for the Liberals to reach their Paris agreement targets, they would have to jack up that tax to over $100 per tonne of emissions, more than doubling what it would be in 2022 and more than five times greater than what that carbon tax is today. This is a craven tax plan.

The Prime Minister has said that when it came to gas prices, higher gas prices was exactly what he wants. That is a statement from our own Prime Minister. He said that this extra tax burden on already overtaxed Canadians was exactly what he wanted.

Let me talk a bit about the Paris targets.

We must remember that this carbon tax is a foundational element of a plan to meet the Paris emissions targets that Canada signed onto. Is the government actually meeting its Paris targets? The answer is, no it is not. The government is far off.

We know from internal environment ministry reports that in 2016, the government had already fallen 44 megatons short of its Paris agreement targets. In 2017, it had fallen 66 megatons short of its targets. In 2018, it fell 79 megatons short of its targets. However, it gets worse.

Last year, when the government calculated that 79 megaton shortfall, it had already created something out of thin air called the land use and land use change in forestry component. The acronym is LULUCF. It essentially says that Canada sequesters carbon in its natural landscape, forests, grasslands, wetlands and farmlands. We are sequestering this carbon. The reality is that the government has not done the science to prove that, in fact, a net sequestration is taking place.

Available science, which is spotty at best, indicates that since about 2000-01, Canada has been a net contributor toward emissions from our natural landscape. The government has said that the science may not be there, that the Paris agreement does not allow Canada to account for this 24 extra megatons of emission reductions, but it will take it anyway. It says that Canada is only 79 megatons short. If we factor in this unsubstantiated claim that the government will reduce emissions through natural landscape, it is actually 103 megatons short.

Is the government meeting its Paris targets, which was the goal of the carbon tax, the foundational element of the Liberal climate change plan? The Liberals are not even meeting those targets and they are falling further behind every year.

Is the Liberal plan a failure? Absolutely, and members will have to agree with me. If we look at what is being measured and accountability for what we are delivering for the plan, the Liberals are way off the mark.

Very briefly, we are going to be rolling out our own environment plan tomorrow. It is going to give Canada a better chance, the best chance, to meet its Paris targets.

Therefore, I strongly support the motion before us, replacing the Liberal carbon tax plan with a real plan to address climate change.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a great amount of respect for the member. We sat on the environment committee together, and I know he cares. However, what I find deeply troubling about the motion before us and the member's statements is that he is playing with the lives of future generations when he is making those claims in the House, particularly about putting a price on pollution and how ineffective it will be.

We have a Nobel Prize-winning economist who has said that this is the way to fight climate change. In 2008, Stephen Harper, the former prime minister of Canada, said that putting a price on pollution was a way to fight climate change. We had the Pope last weekend endorse putting a price on pollution.

Now I hear the Conservatives heckling about the fact that I am invoking the Pope. How ironic is that?

It is a basic economic principle that when we want to reduce something, we put a price on it. How can the member stand here today and go against what a Nobel Prize-winning economist and what Stephen Harper, his former leader and the former prime minister of Canada, would say and endorse?

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, actually, Mr. Harper does not support a carbon tax and I can tell the member why.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

I will send you the link. There's a video.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have a perfect example in Canada of a failed carbon tax policy, which is in my home province of British Columbia. It introduced a carbon tax back in 2008 with three promises.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Like you did.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, he is heckling me.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

There was heckling on both sides. I would appreciate it if we respect the person who is speaking, whether he or she is asking the question or answering the question.

The hon. member for Abbotsford.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for that admonishment.

In 2008, the British Columbia government of the day, which was a Liberal government by the way, made three promises about the carbon tax in B.C.

First, it would be revenue neutral. In other words, we would take one dollar out of one pocket and put it back in the other pocket of the taxpayer. For a law that was in place, what is to date? Is the tax revenue neutral? No, it was eliminated, and it is now a cash cow for the government.

The second promise that was broken was that it would be capped at $30 per tonne of emissions. That promise was broken. Today that tax is $40 per tonne and going up every year.

The third promise was that it would reduce overall carbon emissions in B.C., but today those emissions continue to go up and up.

These three broken promises prove the point that carbon taxation does not work.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

One thing is certain: once the Conservatives sink their teeth into something, they hold on tight and do not let go. Unfortunately, they do not have an alternative plan.

The Liberal government is being hypocritical. It says one thing and then buys a pipeline. Meanwhile, the Conservatives have been criticizing the price on pollution and acting as though we can continue to pollute without any consequences for future generations. They have no plan.

I would like my colleague to tell me what he will do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, one more sleep and the member will be able to see our climate change plan, our environment plan, writ large. We believe it will give Canada the best chance of meeting the Paris targets. Am I going to scoop our leader with that announcement? Of course, I am not.

However, I believe the member is genuine in wanting to make progress in addressing our emissions. They are global emissions, by the way, because this is a global challenge that requires a global response. Canada is perfectly positioned to deliver on that response.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Abbotsford for his contribution to our country and to our debate today by putting forward his motion, one I am happy to speak to and support. To me, this is an important subject, and I will explain why.

Climate change has had a serious impact on my riding and on British Columbia in general. I would like to give an example. The science shows us that our winters are not as cold as they once were. Because our winters are not as cold, the mountain pine beetle has managed to survive through the winter months and not be killed off. This, in turn, has allowed the pine beetle to thrive, and in turn, it has devastated our forests. That has created two problems. One is an economic problem. Throughout B.C. and my riding, we have had a number of lumber mill closures. This can have a devastating impact on small rural communities. It is simply devastating. One of the reasons for these mill closures is a lack of fibre. Because too much forest has been killed off by the pine beetle, there is not enough supply for timber. That is one major problem.

The second major problem is that all this dead timber, combined with our hot summers, has basically created a powder keg of fuel for a wildfire. Make no mistake. Be the cause lightning or humans, when there is a forest fire, this dead beetle wood is producing wildfire activity the likes of which British Columbia has never seen. This not only hurts tourism but can also harm human health. Those with respiratory issues have serious problems dealing with all the smoke and ash. There is also a loss of homes and small businesses and a massive cost for fighting those fires. It is all part of a serious problem.

However, here is the thing: the carbon tax does not stop this. It does nothing to help relieve the situation. The Liberals like to pretend otherwise, but after 10 years of having the carbon tax in British Columbia, our forest fire situation only looks more dire.

Let us overlook that fact for a moment and see if the carbon tax is working otherwise in British Columbia. Total greenhouse gas emissions in B.C. fell in the period between 2004 and 2008. Much of this paralleled what happened nationally with greenhouse gas emissions, and this was mainly attributed to the worldwide economic meltdown that occurred during the later part of that time frame.

In the summer of 2008, former premier Gordon Campbell introduced Canada's first carbon tax in the run-up to the 2009 B.C. general election. The B.C. NDP opposed the carbon tax at that time.

What has happened in B.C. since the carbon tax was introduced in late 2008? It is a great question. I hate to break this fact to the Liberal government, but total greenhouse emissions in British Columbia have gone up. Yes, they have gone up. In fact, there has been a 1.5% increase in emissions in B.C. since 2015 alone. Let me repeat that for the benefit of the Minister of Environment. Since 2015, there has been a 1.5% increase in emissions in British Columbia, despite its having a carbon tax. In other words, the carbon tax is not working.

We have also discovered something else. It is called carbon leakage. What is carbon leakage? Let me give members an example. In 2008, when the carbon tax was first introduced in British Columbia, basically 100%, of all cement used in British Columbia was manufactured in British Columbia. Well, why not? Concrete is not exactly a lightweight, inexpensive product to import and then transport to other jurisdictions. What happened when B.C.-produced concrete became subject to a carbon tax in 2008? Naturally, it became more expensive. By 2014, B.C.-produced concrete accounted for roughly 65% of all concrete used in British Columbia, because cheaper concrete was being imported from jurisdictions with no carbon tax. That is a 35% loss of market share in B.C.'s own market.

Of course, our federal Liberal government knows all about this. That is why, quietly last summer, the Liberals started giving carbon tax exemptions to some of Canada's biggest polluters. However, there is no exemption for small business in their plan, or in my home province, for the average middle-class family. In fact, in B.C., the NDP has now turned the carbon tax into a billion-dollar tax grab that hits families and small business owners hard.

Ironically, the B.C. government is intervening in the carbon tax jurisdictional litigation, arguing that if other provinces do not have a carbon tax, B.C.'s competitiveness will be harmed. Of course, the same principle applies to Canada, where we try to compete with some of our major trading partners that do not have a carbon tax.

This is how carbon leakage is defined in British Columbia:

industries that compete with industry in countries that may have low or no carbon price. If BC industry loses market share to more polluting competitors, known as carbon leakage, it affects our economy and does not reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

To recap what we know from the British Columbia example, after 10 years of having a carbon tax, it has done nothing to prevent the serious climate-change-related problems we are facing in British Columbia. Worse yet, the evidence also shows that it has done nothing to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions. They have actually increased since the B.C. carbon tax was created. It makes British Columbia less competitive, all the while letting major polluters off the hook. Basically, all the carbon tax has done in British Columbia is act as a giant tax grab for the NDP government.

Here is another fact I will share on this point. The B.C. LNG project we often hear the Liberal government boast about, which, by the way, was first approved by the previous government, has been totally exempted from carbon tax increases. The only way this went forward was that it was totally exempted from future carbon tax increases, and it will be a major contributor to increasing B.C. greenhouse gas emissions. Honestly, none of this reconciles, and the facts clearly show that.

If members doubt the facts and evidence from British Columbia, look no further than our very own Parliamentary Budget Officer, who last week made it very clear that the present course of the Liberal government will completely and totally fail to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets it has set, unless, of course, the Liberal government desires to massively increase the carbon tax load for everyday citizens. That point could not have been made any clearer.

We are seeing mixed messages from the Liberal government on this. Will the Liberals or will they not massively raise the carbon tax if re-elected? We do not get clear answers.

Where does that leave us? It leaves us here with this motion, because it states the obvious. The carbon tax is not working. It continues to fail, so let us do away with this carbon tax so that we can focus on and find other ways to reduce our emissions. We have a collective responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint. We cannot sit back, watch this carbon tax continue to fail and try to pretend that we are taking action on reducing emissions, when in reality, we are not. If anything, we are taking action to provide more carbon tax exemptions to major polluters, and much like the B.C. LNG project, to major projects.

We can pretend that this is not occurring, but it is. Why did the Liberal government provide a 95.5% carbon-tax discount on dirty coal power in the province of New Brunswick? Does anyone seriously believe that making coal power cheaper is any way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? It is a total farce, and we sell ourselves and our future short if we continue to play that charade.

I care about our children's future as much as the members opposite, so let us stop the charade today. Let us admit that the carbon tax has failed. Not only has it failed, but it continues to fail. Yes, it may work in theory if everyone were on the same page, but carbon leakage is proof that we are not. Let us do away with the carbon tax and instead let us work together and focus on real, tangible ways to reduce our emissions and lower our carbon footprint.

That is why I am going to be voting in support of this motion today. Again, I thank the member for Abbotsford for his leadership on this file.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member across the way for a stimulating discussion on this today. I was thinking of my middle daughter when he was talking. When she was small and we were living in Winnipeg, she hated putting on her coat in the wintertime. When we would get her coat on, she would struggle and struggle. The last thing she wanted was to wear her coat in the wintertime.

It seems that it is the same with the Conservative Party members. The last thing they want to do is work on climate change. Every time we bring up climate change, they struggle, scream and get upset about climate change, but part of the program is putting a price on pollution. It is part of a 50-point program that also includes incentivizing businesses, municipalities, hospitals and universities to save on their use of energy.

Could the member comment on the rest of our program? We have a plan. We are still waiting for their plan. Maybe he could give us a hint of what part of their plan might also contribute to fighting climate change.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, many of us here have had the experience of raising children. It is a difficult situation. It is best left to individual parents to raise their children. That is something Conservatives believe parents can do best.

However, when we come to this place, we should be prepared to talk about what works and what does not. We have a Parliamentary Budget Officer who has said that with the tools that have been presented so far by the current government, particularly the so-called price on carbon the Liberals continue to talk about, we will not meet the Paris targets by 79 million megatonnes. That is a failure of the government.

We will be presenting our full plan. I am mindful that the member in his “Real Change” platform had a single paragraph about working with provinces to deal with an international problem. We have provinces that are taking the government to court. We have provinces that are pushing back. The current government has done nothing to work with the provinces. We cannot afford to simply continue to say that father knows best and push on the provinces and not find ways to work together to deal with this issue. The provinces have the majority of the policy levers when it comes to energy, transportation and housing. This member should realize that.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to challenge a statement my hon. colleague from British Columbia made about the efficacy of the carbon tax.

In preparation for this debate on this major issue, I requested that the Library of Parliament provide my office with the impact of the British Columbia carbon tax on emissions. Since it was introduced in 2008, there has been a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia of 2.2%. The number in 2008 was 63,737 kilotonnes, and the number in 2016, the most recent year we have numbers for, was 62,264 kilotonnes. I believe the kilotonne is the measurement being used. That is a 2.2% reduction.

The member said that he did not think the carbon tax had an impact. That is clearly wrong. It has had an impact. By the way, one would expect carbon emissions to have gone up significantly in that time period, so the fact that there is actually an overall reduction shows that the carbon tax does work.

However, I agree with the member that the carbon tax on its own is not going to be sufficient. I personally believe that we are facing a climate crisis. We have to use every single policy tool we can to deal with this. That is carbon sequestration, a carbon tax, a cap and trade system and retrofitting. We need conservation efforts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has sent out alarm bells that should have every single legislator in every chamber like this in the world absolutely riveted, because we have 11 years to have reductions of 45% over 2010. The member is right. We are not meeting these targets. The previous Conservative government did not meet the targets, nor has the current Liberal government.

Is the member's plan going to meet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change targets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by 45% over 2010 levels? Yes or no.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2019 / 11 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, when one of the NDP members rose on this debate a few weeks ago, I quoted specifically from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in British Columbia. It actually said that the last year of data we had indicated a 1.5% increase in emissions. It is on the B.C. government website. I suggest that the member look at it and he can inform himself. Obviously, during the economic recession post-2008, we saw a decline in industrial activity. The member might want to familiarize himself with the latest part of the cycle we are in.

When it comes to the plan, the Parliamentary Budget Officer evaluated the current government's plan and found it wanting. That is where we need to have the starting point. We will be presenting our plan, and the member can choose which plan he thinks is best.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Liberal

Sean Fraser LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, as always it is an honour to rise in this House and speak about the topic of climate change, which is near and dear to my heart and something I consistently hear about from my constituents.

I am particularly inspired by the voices of the young Canadians I represent in Central Nova, who have brought this issue to the fore and insist that legislators at the municipal, provincial and federal levels take collective action to combat the existential threat that climate change represents.

For me, the starting point in this conversation is that climate change is not only real but primarily driven by humans' industrial activity. Sometimes, when we talk about climate change, we are guilty of causing apocalypse fatigue, which causes people to feel they cannot do anything meaningful about it. At other times, we dig into the technical details about CO2 concentration being at 415 parts per million, and we lose people's attention.

These are all important things to be addressing, but it is important to explain to Canadians that the consequences of climate change are very real. We are feeling them today, but we have an opportunity and, in my mind, an obligation to do something about it. We simply need to implement the solutions we already know exist, which can make a difference by bringing our emissions down and preventing the worst consequences of climate change from impacting our communities.

We are all familiar, of course, with the consequences of climate change. We see them in our own communities. On the east coast we have experienced more frequent and more severe storm surges and hurricanes. Recently my colleagues from New Brunswick have shown me pictures of their communities, which were literally under water. We can see the forest fires ravaging communities in western Canada, the heat waves in Quebec and Ontario that are taking the lives of Canadians, and the melting ice sheets in Canada's north. There is not a corner of this country that has not been impacted by the environmental effects of climate change.

I mentioned this during the debate yesterday as well, but the consequences are not purely environmental; they are social and economic as well. We see entire communities that have been displaced because we continue to build them in flood zones. Floods that used to take place every few hundred years are now taking place every few years.

We see indigenous communities that have traditionally practised a way of life that involved hunting cariboo, for example. That may no longer be an option because of the combined impacts of human activity and climate change on the species they have traditionally relied on to practise their way of life.

I do not have to look all across the country; I can see the economic impacts of climate change in my own backyard. We rely heavily on the lobster fishery in Nova Scotia. I represent both the eastern shore and the Northumberland Strait, which have vibrant lobster fisheries today that represent nearly $2 billion in exports for our provincial economy.

However, when we look a little south, to the state of Maine, we have seen a decrease of 22 million pounds in their catch over the past few years due to a combination of things like rising ocean temperatures, deoxygenation of the gulf region, and other environmental factors that are having a very real impact.

We are seeing a drop in industrial production and manufacturing in places that have been impacted by forest fires, and when we go for lengthy periods with droughts, we know that our agricultural sector suffers. There is a very real consequence to inaction on climate change in the prevention of economic activity. We know there are solutions. We have an obligation to implement the most effective ones that we know exist.

This brings me to the current motion, which attacks both the efficacy and affordability of our plan to put a price on pollution. I have good news for the members opposite. In fact, we know that putting a price on pollution is the most effective thing we can do to help reduce our emissions. We have identified a path forward on the advice of science, facts and evidence, including world-leading expertise, to ensure that as we put forward a plan that brings our emissions down, the affordability of life is not only not impacted but in fact made a little better for Canadian families.

Over the course of my remarks, I want to touch on the efficacy of carbon pricing. I will talk about some of its benefits and address the affordability, but also highlight some other measures we are implementing. We know that pricing alone is likely insufficient to get us where we need to be, but the attack built into the motion, that our government does not have a real plan, rings hollow from a party that has yet to produce a plan of its own.

I will take a step back and explain in broad strokes what carbon pricing really involves. There are more or less two different ways one can put a market mechanism to price pollution. One is a cap-and-trade system, where one sets an overall cap and industrial players that exceed their credits can buy credits from those that have reduced emissions, in order to bring emissions down across society over time. The other, perhaps simpler, way is to put a price on the thing one does not want, which is pollution, so that people buy less of it. If one puts a price on pollution and people buy less of it but the revenues are returned to households, life can be made more affordable for a majority of families. In a nutshell, that is how it works.

We know it works. We have seen other jurisdictions implement these solutions and have monumental successes. In the United Kingdom, which imposed a price on pollution over and above the European Union's cap-and-trade system, there was a rapid transition from coal-fired power plants to other, less-emitting sources. The United Kingdom has achieved magnificent reductions in recent history, in part because of the way it used a market-based mechanism with a price on pollution.

The example of British Columbia came up previously. One of the members who spoke earlier indicated that emissions have gone up to 1.5% and dismissed it as not possibly working. I commend my NDP colleague, who noted that one should not be cherry-picking data the way that member did. In fact, there has been a 2.2% reduction since the price on pollution came into place. More importantly, when we look at the example of British Columbia, despite population growth and serious economic development we can see that the per capita rate of consumption of greenhouse gases has actually come down significantly.

The report of the Ecofiscal Commission, which studied this in depth, estimates that emissions in British Columbia are 5% to 15% lower than they would have been had no price been put on pollution in the first place. Five per cent to 15% is a serious reduction from one policy tool alone, and we know we can do better by doing more.

However, it is not just the practical examples of which we have empirical evidence that show that this in fact works. We have seen support from folks who really know what they are talking about. Last year's Nobel Prize for economics went to Professor William Nordhaus for his development of the kind of approach we are now seeking to implement in Canada. In fact, he pointed specifically to the example in British Columbia of the kind of model that could work best.

Professor Nordhaus has identified a way to ensure a price is put on pollution, so that what we do not want becomes more expensive and people buy less of it, but affordability is maintained by returning the revenues to households. It is common sense when one thinks about it. It is quite straightforward, and it works.

Mark Cameron, Stephen Harper's former director of policy, has pointed to the fact that this is the right path forward. Even Doug Ford's chief budget adviser testified before the Senate, in 2016 I believe, saying something to the effect that the single most effective thing we can do to transition to a low-carbon economy is to put a price on pollution. Preston Manning has been arguing for this kind of approach for years.

When the partisan lens is removed, we see folks on different sides of the aisle who have a strong history with the Liberals, the Conservatives and the NDP, who all support this approach because they know it is the most effective thing we can do. In particular, I point to the recent Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decision that upheld the federal government's constitutional power to implement a price on pollution across Canada in provinces that would not come to the table with a serious plan. The court said that it was undisputed, based on the factual record before the court, that GHG pricing is not just part and parcel of an effective plan to combat climate change but also an essential aspect of the global effort to curb emissions.

This is why the court found it to be a national concern that some provinces would not have pricing, which gave rise to the federal government's authority to implement a plan. It is an essential aspect of the global effort to reduce emissions. That part was even put in italics, specifically so legislators would see that this is so important. We have to move forward with it if we are going to take our responsibilities seriously.

However, these are not the only voices; I can point to a number of others. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, whom the opposition members have quoted at nauseam in this House, has said that putting a price on pollution is the most effective way to reduce our emissions. He also pointed out something I hope we will get into during questions and comments, which is that eight out of 10 families will be better off in jurisdictions in which the federal backstop applies. This is because we are returning the revenues directly to households. The only families who will pay more than they get back in the form of a rebate are the 20% in the highest-earning households in Canada. I believe it maxes out at $50 a year for the wealthiest families in Saskatchewan.

Meanwhile, in various provinces there will be rebates of between $250 and $609, depending on how much pollution is generated in those provinces. The bottom line is that eight out of 10 families, no matter which province they live in where the federal system applies, will receive more in the form of a rebate than their cost of living will go up. Therefore, the argument that this is about affordability rings hollow.

I point out in particular the comments this past weekend by Pope Francis, who has no political agenda. He is not a Liberal or Conservative when it comes to Canadian politics, but he has explained that carbon pricing is essential to combat climate change. He pointed to the fact that the world's poor and the next generations are going to be disproportionately impacted. There is a sense of injustice about it, that we are shoving this burden onto future generations, onto the world's poor and onto the world's developing nations. It is not right. Canada has an obligation to play a leadership role and take care of things at home as we help the world transition to a low-carbon economy.

If we move forward with a plan to put a price on pollution, there are also economic benefits. Again, citing the example of British Columbia, there has been a net job gain in that province as a result of its aggressive plan to tackle climate change. The Government of Saskatchewan, in an attempt to gain political support for its fight against the plan, commissioned a report that showed there would be a very limited economic impact. It then tried to bury the report; it did not want the evidence to get out because it conflicted with its ideological narrative that carbon pricing would somehow damage the economy. The reverse is true. It can help spur innovation and take advantage of the new green economy, which Mark Carney has flagged as representing a $26-trillion opportunity globally. If Canada is on the front end of that wave, we can expect to have more jobs in our communities as the world transitions to a global low-carbon economy.

I want to touch on affordability in particular, because this is front of mind for me. In my constituency office, the power company is on speed dial, because so many constituents come to my office not knowing where to turn. We know the cost of living has gone up over time. That is why we are trying to tackle those measures. Poverty has come down by 20%, which means 825,000 Canadians are not living in poverty today who were when we took office in 2015. The allegation that we are somehow seeking to make life more expensive is not true.

We understand the struggles of Canadian families who live in Pictou County, or Antigonish or on the eastern shore, places I represent. These are important issues that we need to tackle. That is why we are moving forward, not just with a plan to address climate change that can make life more affordable, but also by introducing measures like the Canada child benefit, which puts more money in the pockets of nine out of 10 Canadian families and stops sending child care cheques to millionaire families that, frankly, did not need it.

We have moved forward with a boost to the guaranteed income supplement, which puts more money in the pockets of low-income single seniors, some of the most vulnerable folk in the communities I represent, with up to $947 extra a year. That is why we moved forward with a tax cut for nine million middle-class Canadians and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1%.

Each of these measures was opposed by the official opposition. To hear them now criticize a plan based on the fact that it will make life more expensive creates some serious cognitive dissonance considering that they voted against all the measures that were making life more affordable.

In particular, this plan, as I have explained a number of times during these remarks, will also put more money in the pockets of eight out of 10 families in systems in which it applies. We worked with provinces for years leading up to the implementation of this system. In provinces like mine, Nova Scotia, there is in fact no federal price on carbon. It has come up with a cap-and-trade system that impacts about 20 major industrial polluters and places a modest surcharge on fuel. Nova Scotia's plan was accepted because it showed that it was taking seriously the threat that climate change constitutes.

It is only in provinces that would not come to the table with a serious plan that we are moving forward with it. We do not believe it should be free to pollute the atmosphere anywhere in Canada. The atmosphere belongs to all of us. When people operate industrial facilities that degrade that atmosphere, they should be liable to every Canadian for the damage they have done. That is why they are paying a price on pollution, and that is why citizens deserve the rebate that is paid out of these revenues.

None of this money is being kept by the federal government, contrary to what some of the Conservative members have suggested. If they have problems with the tax being kept by governments on the price of gas, I suggest they speak to some of the Conservative premiers who are currently railing against our plan to put a price on pollution. Those premiers have the ability to take the tax off gas and allow families to keep their hard-earned money. We are making polluters pay and giving that money directly to families.

The great thing is that we can see job growth when we move forward with an ambitious plan to fight climate change. In my community, there are examples like the Trinity group of companies, which is doing incredible work in energy efficiency. It started out with a couple of guys who were really good contractors. They realized an incentive was put in place by different governments, which we have since bolstered at the federal level over the past few years, to help homeowners reduce the costs of energy efficient products, whether smart thermostats, better doors and windows or more efficient heating systems. They use the products that have come down as a result of publicly funded rebates, which are helping homeowners bring their costs of living down by reducing their power bill each month. They have added dozens of positions to their organization.

In the community of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, companies like CarbonCure have developed carbon sequestration technologies that pull carbon out of the atmosphere to inject into concrete products to strengthen them for use in construction.

Speaking of construction, Canada's Building Trades Union has pointed out that as we upgrade our buildings and infrastructure, there is a potential opportunity to create four million new green jobs by embracing the green economy and fighting climate change. Those are serious numbers that will have a real impact on the GDP of Canadians. More important, for families, it is a job that people maybe could not get in the community they came from, so they may not have to move.

These are real, meaningful, human examples that are making a difference, not just for our economy but for families.

The motion on the floor suggests that we repeal our price on pollution and implement a real plan. I would like to draw to the attention of the House to the fact that there is so much more to our plan than this one policy onto which the Conservatives have latched. In fact, there are over 50 measures. I am happy to lay a few of them out for the House.

By 2030, and not many Canadians appreciate this, we are on track to have 90% of our electricity in the country generated from non-emitting resources. That is remarkable. We have made the single largest investment in public transit in the history of our country. This will encourage more Canadians to take public transit rather than drive their cars, so we can become more efficient and life can be made more convenient at the same time. We are phasing out coal. We are investing in energy efficiency. We are investing in green technology.

At St. Francis Xavier University, of which I am a proud alumnus, the flux lab, with Dr. David Risk, is developing instrumentation that is putting researchers to work. It has been commercialized because the oil and gas sector has realized that by using this instrumentation, it can detect gas leaks at a distance and increase its production without increasing its emissions. It is capturing gas that is currently leaking out of its infrastructure.

We are moving forward with these serious things.

In addition, we are implementing new regulations on methane to help reduce the fastest-growing contributor to global GHG emissions.

On the same piece, pursuant to the Montreal protocol, in Kigali, we have adopted a single new measure that will result in a reduction of methane emissions which will have the equivalent of a 0.5° reduction in emissions on its own. We are also adopting a clean fuel standard and vehicle emissions standards.

We are moving forward with the most ambitious plan in Canadian history to protect nature in Canada. This is serious. We need to take the opportunity before us to do something to protect our threatened ecosystems. With over $1.3 billion invested in protecting nature, we will more than double the protected spaces across our country.

Of course, we recently announced we would be moving forward with a ban on our harmful single-use plastics. At the same time, we are putting the responsibility of managing the life cycle of those products on manufacturers.

Most of these policies have a few things in common. They will help reduce our emissions and protect our environment, yet the Conservatives oppose them every step of the way. I have taken hundreds of questions in question period about our plan for the environment. Not once have I received a question from the Conservatives about what more we could do for the environment. It is always an attempt to do a less.

The fact is that we cannot turn back the clock. I look forward to seeing the Conservative plan tomorrow. When I hear the kind of commentary from members of Parliament on their side, it gives me great cause for concern. I doubt whether we can even start the conversation about what solutions are most appropriate when I hear comments that deny climate change is primarily due to human activity. This is not a time to be debating the reality of climate change; it is a time to be debating solutions and, more important, implementing solutions.

I want to encourage everyone at home to start pulling in the same direction. If people have children, they should talk to them at the dinner table. It is the most effective thing they can do to help change their minds about the importance of climate change. The kids are all right. They know what is going on and they want us to take action.

If people have the opportunity to take part in a community cleanup, to take part in a solo or co-operative cleanup, to take part in whatever is going on in their community, I urge them to embrace it. We are running out of time. We want to implement a solution to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. I only hope the Conservatives get on board.

Opposition Motion—The EnvironmentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government in its first two years before introducing its so-called price on carbon, gave places like Nova Scotia large exemptions from their coal-fired facilities so they could go much longer than was originally brought into place by the previous government.

The second thing that group has done, with its so-called price on carbon, is to exempt 95.5% for coal-fired production, dirty coal, in New Brunswick.

The member says that somehow the Liberals are the white knights who will deal with these issues. They are actually the government that is giving massive exemptions to large emitters. How do they square that?