House of Commons Hansard #63 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

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The House resumed from November 23, 2020, consideration of the motion that Bill C-206, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (qualifying farming fuel), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to be able to address the chamber.

This morning I would like to provide some thoughts in regard to Bill C-206. Its intent is to ultimately expand fuel charge relief provided for farmers by making some changes to the definition of “qualifying farming fuel”. Specifically, I understand the bill would add natural gas and propane to the eligible fuel list.

As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, it is really important to recognize that we are not in a position in which we can afford to ignore the real and immediate threat that climate change poses to our environment and our economy. I think it is important to recognize that fact, even in these very trying times.

We will continue, as we have in the past, to work to support Canada's farmers as they attempt to also fight climate change. I think it is also important to recognize that our farmers, and the farming industry as a whole, have contributed so much with they way they are fighting climate change. The modernization and technology that is being used on our farms is absolutely incredible, and every year it continues to get better.

I can recall the days in Saskatchewan of running on to the fields with the big John Deere tractors and cultivators. When we compare the way farming was back then to today, we see some significant changes in the way farms operate. We need to acknowledge that. We will support farmers, ranchers, food businesses and food processors because we recognize the important role they play in our economy, our society and our lifestyle.

It is also important that we recognize that pollution pricing is the most effective and efficient way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change, and we have been saying that since the very beginning. In fact, all the direct revenues from the price on pollution go back to the jurisdiction that it came from.

That has been the goal of the government, and Manitoba has benefited from that significantly. We are getting into the tens of millions of dollars. The majority of the constituents I represent get a net gain as a direct result of the price on pollution.

I think if we look around the world, we would see a huge amount of support for having a price on pollution. We can look to the Paris Agreement or talk about other provincial governments. In fact, British Columbia's government has led the way. Ironically, we would have to go back probably over 15 years to see when even the Province of Alberta initiated the idea on some form of price on pollution.

Instituting a price on pollution across Canada has been a priority of this government, and it has been, for the most part, very effective. For those jurisdictions that do not have something of a similar nature, Ottawa steps in to ensure that there is that sense of equity, in that all Canadians are contributing. We saw legislation that was brought in earlier with regard to net-zero emissions. This legislation is a first of its kind and was introduced by this government.

Again, we are very sensitive to the farmers. We will see what happens when this bill goes to committee, but the government, even during these trying times, has been there to support our farmers. We can talk about the $5 billion in additional farm credit that was unlocked, or the $100 million for the new agriculture and food business solutions fund. We also increased the Canadian Dairy Commission borrowing capacity by $200 million.

There was also an additional $35 million to improve health and safety on farms. We spent well over $100 million for agricultural recovery initiatives, which will ultimately support a national approach to responding to some of the huge additional costs people in farm businesses have had to incur. Also, from what I understand, we launched a $75-million emergency processing fund to help modernize and automate some of these facilities.

Our government knows and understands our Canadian farmers. They are a part of the climate change solution, and we will be there to continue to support them in the months and years ahead.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House this morning to participate in the debate at second reading on Bill C-206, which is sponsored by my Conservative colleague from Northumberland—Peterborough South.

I want to stress how pleased I am, because I consider this colleague to be not only a friend, but also an ally in our work on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. I know how much energy he puts into defending his constituents and all taxpayers, because of how rigorous he is when it comes to our committee work. His bill reflects how much he cares, which is very admirable and does his constituents proud.

I also want to point out that he takes a collaborative approach in all his undertakings, which, despite our profound political differences, allows us to engage in courteous discussions and, above all, to move forward on issues that are important to us. That is ultimately reflected in the work we do for the good of the population in general.

Bill C-206 proposes to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, which is currently referred to as the federal carbon tax.

We all know what the Conservative caucus thinks of this act. Even so, my colleague's goal is a worthy one deserving of our attention. His bill would directly affect the agricultural sector, which the current government believes is firmly on side despite all evidence to the contrary.

My colleague from Northumberland—Peterborough South's Bill C-206 contains one single clause, one simple, short amendment to the existing act that would allow a whole lot of our farmers to stop paying huge amounts of money to the state just so they can run their farms and feed the people of Quebec, as well as people in the rest of Canada and even around the world.

As it stands, the act mandates a blanket charge on fossil fuels to be paid to the government by the supplier at the time of delivery. Sales that meet certain criteria, such as eligible fuels sold to a farmer, are exempt from payment of that charge.

Technically, for all those watching us, the current legislation defines qualifying farming fuel as any “type of fuel that is gasoline, light fuel oil or a prescribed type of fuel”. This is where my colleague shows some real foresight.

Bill C-206 seeks to amend this definition by adding marketable natural gas and propane. Anyone who has ever used a barbeque knows what propane is. Marketable natural gas is a fuel that consists of at least 90% methane and that meets the specifications for pipeline transport and sale for general distribution to the public. It is the same natural gas that heats and cools thousands of homes, buildings, and facilities of all kinds.

My colleague's bill is crystal clear and deserves to be passed by the House. We hope that the Liberals will take the time to study it properly. We will also find out at the last minute where the NDP stands. They might yet again betray their principles to ensure their survival. We will see what happens when they vote.

That said, I remind members that all farmers, without exception, depend on propane and natural gas to run their operations. Grain producers are even more reliant on these fuels. I would remind everyone of the CN strike in November 2019, when rail deliveries of propane to eastern Canada were interrupted creating a crisis that the Liberal government utterly failed to resolve. Grain must be dried quickly so it can be stored in silos without rotting. That is pretty obvious, and every day counts when trying to save an entire harvest.

Although some grains are grown in Quebec, agriculture in that province focuses on other products. In Quebec, we produce the best milk in the world, the most delicious pork on the planet and the most nutritious eggs, not to mention the plump and tender chicken that our farms have been producing forever.

No matter what they produce, all farms rely on propane and natural gas fuels. If the government keeps forcing farmers to pay a fuel charge for these fuels, there is no question we will all lose. In my view, this bill needs to be passed because farmers' profit margins are already too low for the hard work they do.

Farmers need this tax exemption so that they can get us the highest quality products, which are envied around the world. All we need is for the Liberals to step up and amend a few words in the existing legislation to give the entire agricultural sector a little breathing room and to ensure the sustainability of family farms.

Farms are a key economic sector, key even to our very survival. I have a strong relationship with farmers in my area, the Lower St. Lawrence, so I know the farming sector well enough to know that, despite the ideological considerations that guide the Liberals, they should admit they were wrong and fix things while there is still time. My colleague from Northumberland—Peterborough South is giving them the opportunity to do just that. I hope they will recognize the huge sacrifices made by grain producers in particular and farmers as a whole.

Before closing, I want to point out that the carbon tax is a tool for action meant to incentivize all industries to change their behaviour, but that means technology needs to be accessible and affordable in rural areas. It is not, so propane and natural gas are still the only options.

We have a common duty to support all of our farmers, but the Liberal government does not currently have the best track record in that regard, to be honest. However, we have an opportunity to fix that, and a simple amendment to the existing legislation, as proposed by our Conservative colleague in Bill C-206, would be a step in the right direction.

I could talk for hours about specific farmers in Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques who would benefit from this measure. All of them would say that the environment is a daily concern because it is essential to their work. These people live off the land and its bounty. We have a responsibility to help and support them. The current markets are fiercely competitive, and a simple tax break to support them would show that we appreciate everything they produce and their contribution to our economy, not to mention the food they put on our plates.

Because the Bloc Québécois supports farmers, because we are extremely proud of their work and because they are as reliable as we can be, we will support Bill C-206. The Liberals should do their part. If not, they will have to answer for it.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

February 22nd, 2021 / 11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Lianne Rood Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill C-206, an act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. It is the private member's bill of my Conservative colleague, the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South.

First, as the official opposition shadow minister for agriculture and agri-food, I want to congratulate the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South and thank him for this bill. The member is well aware of the challenges faced by farmers and producers in his riding and is clearly in touch with their concerns. I believe his constituents can look forward to his long and fruitful service on their behalf.

I have heard many concerns from farmers and producers in my own riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex and how the carbon tax negatively affects their cost of production and puts them at a competitive disadvantage against imports coming from our neighbours to the south, especially given our close proximity to the U.S. border.

I turn now to the bill itself. If the government refuses to support this bill, it will send a clear a message to Canadians generally and to Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers in particular. The message the Liberals will send is that they do not care how their carbon tax negatively affects Canadians and our domestic food security and production. The Liberals will also show how sadly out of touch they are with Canadian farmers.

I want to point out to this House the current situation with the Liberals' carbon tax and producers. Farmers are already exempt from paying the federal carbon tax on gasoline and fuel oils, which includes diesel fuel, where these are used for agriculture production on the farm. Let me be clear: This bill is only proposing to extend this existing federal carbon tax exemption for farmers to include propane and natural gas.

Last March at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and again on a video conference last June, the agriculture minister suggested that the farmers' federal carbon tax payments on propane and natural gas are less than 1% of their expenditures and insignificant, but that is just not the case. As one might imagine, the Liberals' carbon tax on propane and natural gas is far more than that. Many farmers and producers use propane or natural gas to heat their barns and dry grain and oilseeds.

Last November, the parliamentary budget office released a report on the carbon tax showing that farmers, ranchers and producers would pay $9 million for the remainder of just this fiscal year, plus $226 million over the next four fiscal years, for using propane and natural gas in their operations. For that period of time, that is a total of $235 million. It appears the Minister of Agriculture has a problem not just with math but with arithmetic, so let me press further on the arithmetic and math.

The profit margins for most Canadian producers are very narrow. For most Canadian farmers, there is very little room for error or additional input costs. For Canadian farmers, the Liberals' carbon tax is an input cost on their production, and most producers are price-takers, not price setters. That means farmers have no way of recovering what they pay in the Liberals' carbon tax from the next stage of the supply chain. To be clear, the Liberals' carbon tax takes from most Canadian farmers' profits and from their families' standard of living.

Canadians count on a reliable supply of food on their grocery shelves, and this just in: Food must come from a farm. If a farm is not profitable, the farm must shut down and the farmer must leave the land. As Canadian farmers are driven off the land and out of business, less food is produced here in Canada. A reliable supply of food must be found elsewhere and Canadian food sovereignty is put in doubt.

By bringing forward this bill, my colleague has shown he understands the challenges farmers face, but the minister's resistance to extending an exemption to the Liberals' carbon tax shows just out of touch she is with farmers.

The Minister of Agriculture's problems do not stop there. The minister has recently suggested that farmers should innovate so as to avoid using propane and natural gas in their production, but for many farmers, using propane and natural gas is the only option. Propane and natural gas are widely used by producers and farmers for heating their barns and drying their grains and oilseeds, and there are no other options available currently.

Ironically, at a recent meeting of the Keystone Agricultural Producers in Manitoba, the minister indicated that farmers could finance the purchase of a new, more efficient gas or propane grain dryer using the climate action incentive fund, so on the one hand she is telling farmers to find a viable alternative and on the other she is proclaiming that her government will pay for it. Which is it? Could the minister be any more out of touch with farmers?

The existing federal carbon tax exemption for farmers' use of gasoline and fuel oils raises another question. Compared to gasoline and fuel oils, both propane and natural gas are very clean fuels in respect of their emissions.

According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the carbon dioxide emissions from diesel and heating oil are 16% higher than for propane. The CO2 emissions for diesel and heating oil are 37% higher than the emissions for natural gas. The CO2 emissions for gasoline are 13% higher than for propane and 17% higher than for natural gas.

According to the Canadian Propane Association, “Studies have found that propane can emit up to 26% fewer GHGs than gasoline in vehicles, 38% fewer GHGs than fuel oil in furnaces.... Propane's end-use GHG emissions are significantly lower than gasoline, diesel, coal and heating oil. When upstream life-cycle emissions are taken into account, the case for propane becomes even stronger.” That is the science.

Here is the question: Why is the government refusing to extend the federal carbon tax exemption to propane and natural gas when they emit less carbon dioxide than gasoline or fuel oil? This is clearly not a science-based decision. Not only does the government have trouble with mathematics and arithmetic and not only is it out of touch with farmers, but it has trouble with the science too.

Let me draw to the attention of the House the wider consequences of the government's failure to be in touch with Canadian farmers and producers. Let me underscore the problems with the Liberals' inability to understand the issues around farmers' profit margins.

As farmers' profit margins move toward zero or cross over to become losses, it becomes more and more difficult for farmers and ranchers to stay on the land and in the business of producing food and feedstocks. How many times on this side of the House have we heard from farmers and ranchers whose families have been on the land for generations, but who now can no longer afford the uncertainty of knowing whether this year would see profit or loss? How many farm families who have been on the land for generations have shut down operations because their children saw little future in staying on the land with losses year over year? How many farm families have seen their standard of living gradually fall as costs pile up and the market prices for their commodities are static or in a downward trend?

Some of these Canadian families have been on the land for three, four, five or more generations. Despite producing a reliable supply of food for all Canadians, Canadian farmers are faced with a Liberal government that seems to think that food security is only about food banks. The Liberals are wrong. They are putting the ability of Canadians to produce food and Canadian food sovereignty in doubt.

Despite being prudent managers of the land they hold, Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers see little recognition from the Liberal government for their contribution to maintaining a safe, clean outdoor environment. Despite being conscientious taxpayers who contribute to the treasuries of their municipality and their province and the federal treasury, Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers are faced with a government that believes they should pay even more in the form of the Liberals' carbon tax.

On this side of the House, we say, “Enough.” On this side of the House, Conservatives believe that the challenges Canadian farmers face should be top of mind. Conservatives know that agriculture producers may be Canada's most important natural resources producers. Conservatives know Canadian families rely on Canadian farmers for a steady, secure and reliable supply of food on grocery shelves. Conservatives understand that farming is both a way of life for many Canadian families and their business.

Conservatives understand that the way of life requires that farming be profitable. Conservatives understand that ranchers pay property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes. Conservatives understand that agricultural producers cannot afford to pay the Liberals' carbon tax on fuel used for production, including propane and natural gas. Conservatives offer Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers a bright future for their families and for the generations that will follow in their steps.

For those reasons, as the official opposition's shadow minister for agriculture and agri-food, it is my honour and privilege to support the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South and his bill, Bill C-206.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to take part in the second reading debate on this private member's bill, BillC-206. The bill proposes to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act in order to modify the definition of what qualifies as farming fuel. It would further modify and expand the definition to include marketable natural gas and propane, in addition to gasoline and light fuel oil.

The sponsor of the bill hopes to provide relief to grain drying farmers. While I appreciate the goal of the bill as written, it would not provide relief for fuel costs of grain drying while also balancing the importance of executing Canada's climate action plan.

Allow me to explain. The bill adds natural gas and propane to the eligible fuel list, but does not add grain drying as an eligible farming activity under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. Because of this, it would not provide relief for grain drying activities. This is why I think it is important that we take a closer look at the implications of the bill.

Our hard-working farmers are an integral part of our economy and indeed cultural fabric. They do important work in helping grow, store and sell crops that Canada and indeed the world rely on. Our government will continue to support Canadian farmers as they work to bring their goods to market.

As it stands, this act provides relief for farmers for gasoline and diesel, subject to certain conditions. In particular, to qualify, all or substantially all of these fuels must be used for eligible farming activities. Relief from the fuel charge generally applies to the operation of farming equipment and machinery, such as a combine harvester. Only limited emissions from the agricultural sector are covered under the federal pollution pricing system, such as those resulting from the use of natural gas or propane for heating or cooling a building or similar structure.

During the past year, as we have been fighting the pandemic, we on this side of the House have not forgotten the serious implications of climate change. It remains one of Canada's and indeed the world's most important long-term challenges. We continue to see the impacts of climate change through extreme weather events.

Right now, Texas has been dealing with winter storms that have posed severe problems to its power grid. In the Indian part of the Himalayas, the melting from a glacier has resulted in several deaths and many more missing because of floods. From the threat and after-effects of wildfires in western Canada, California and Australia to the increasing powerful hurricanes, typhoons and storms that batter communities around the world, these continue to have an impact. It is not increasingly a question of whether or not an extreme weather event will happen; it is a question of where it will happen.

Our government is serious in its commitment to confront and address this generational challenge. Canada needs to play an important role in this global fight. We need to act now to ensure that our children and grandchildren have clean air to breathe and a strong and healthy economy.

Canada's work to combat climate change is built on four pillars: pricing pollution, complementary actions to further reduce emissions across the economy, measures to adapt to the impacts of climate change and build resilience, and actions to accelerate innovation, support clean technology and create jobs.

Pricing pollution is central to the government's pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. A price on pollution reduces pollution at the lowest overall cost to businesses and consumers. A well-designed price on pollution provides an incentive for climate action and clean innovation while protecting business competitiveness. It is efficient and cost-effective because it allows businesses and households to decide for themselves how best to reduce their emissions.

The federal pollution pricing system has two components: a regulatory charge on fossil fuels and an output-based pricing system for large industrial facilities, which provides a price incentive to reduce emissions and spur innovation.

All direct proceeds from pricing pollution under the federal system are being returned to the jurisdiction in which they have been collected. Returning proceeds from pollution pricing helps Canadians make more environmentally sustainable consumption choices, but does not change the incentive to pollute less. Every time a consumer or business makes a purchase or investment decision, they have a financial incentive to choose greener actions.

Our government has been clear that it should not be free to pollute in Canada. In addition, I want to be clear that the federal pollution pricing system is not about raising revenues. Indeed, as I have said many times, this is not a tax. The government is not keeping any direct proceeds from the federal pollution pricing system. A pollution pricing system is about recognizing that pollution has a cost, encouraging cleaner growth and a more sustainable future.

Canada has been a leader in this regard. In its most recent article IV mission report for Canada, the International Monetary Fund noted that pollution pricing “is the most efficient policy for reducing emissions while returning the revenues to households in transparent tax relief helps with acceptability.” The IMF specifically mentioned, “At the global level, Canada's carbon price floor could be a valuable prototype for an international carbon price floor arrangement among large emitting countries.”

These are all important considerations that Canadians will expect us to take into account in assessing the potential merits of Bill C-206. I want to thank the hon. member for raising this very important issue.

As I said earlier, the bill adds natural gas and propane to the eligible fuel list, but it does not add grain drying as an eligible farming activity under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. As written, it would not provide relief for grain drying activities.

Should the bill go to committee for study, I would recommend that the committee hear from a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers, environmental non-governmental organizations, officials and industry associations, to fully evaluate the impact that the bill would have. This wide-ranging consultation would allow the committee to examine the bill in its entirety and evaluate the legislative and legal implications of moving forward with it.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-206, introduced by the hon. member for Northumberland—Peterborough South. I will not keep anyone in suspense, as my colleague has already announced that the Bloc Québécois will support Bill C-206.

However, people may be wondering why the Bloc Québécois is intervening on this bill, since Quebec actually already has its own carbon market and is not subject to the federal carbon tax program. Nevertheless, I think it is important that we speak to this issue, since there seems to be some question as to whether agriculture and environmental protection are compatible. It is a problem that we have noticed with regard to several topics on which the Bloc Québécois has been called upon to intervene in the past. We know that there are serious challenges for both agriculture and the environment, and there is often a delicate balance between the two.

Consider, for example, all the pressure on farmers, particularly regarding riparian buffer zones, a problem that is often raised. Riparian buffer zones help protect rivers that border farmland, but they sometimes hurt profit margins. However, it is important to understand that farmers want to do the right thing and help protect the environment. When we take the time to speak with farmers, we learn that buffer zones can be narrower in some places because of the nature of the soil. Some riparian buffer zones can protect the environment while also generating revenue. For instance, some farmers plant fruit trees along these buffer zones. Collaboration can lead to good solutions.

The same question has been raised about the use of certain pesticides. Again, farmers do not get up in the morning excited to generate pollution and put hazardous chemicals into the environment. Rather, they are forced to use certain pesticides because of a lack of resources or alternatives.

One-size-fits-all measures are not necessarily the best. For example, if the government were to ban a particular pesticide, farmers could just end up having to ask agronomists to prescribe even more dangerous pesticides. On certain issues, farmers need to be treated as collaborators.

As for the carbon pricing issue specifically, I would remind members that it was designed as a way for Canada to combat climate change by taxing pollution to discourage the use of fossil fuels. The problem is that farmers do not really have any other options for drying grain.

This reminds of an experience I had. In late October, after the 2019 election, I spent some time riding along with my father as he trucked grain from the fields to grain dryers for some local farmers. It was a wonderful day of father-daughter bonding. I remember that a huge snowstorm hit the region after November 1, making the grain very wet. On top of that, it had been an unusual season. Planting had been delayed for three weeks due to cold spring temperatures. Then, in early fall, September was very cold, so the grain did not have time to mature, and the harvest was quite late. The grain had to be harvested in the snow, so it had very high moisture levels.

Because it never rains but it pours, a propane shortage occurred right after that, on the heels of the CN strike. I started getting phone calls from many farmers who were devastated because they had no other way to dry their grain. Grain has to be dried before it is stored, or it will rot. Although the moisture level may seem all right, if it is not low enough, mould may be present without anyone realizing it. In some cases, animals that eat this grain can fall ill. Distraught farmers were calling me, and I was working with them to find solutions.

Climate change aside, they would like to move away from fossil fuels such as natural gas and propane. As I talked with them, I realized that there are very few alternatives. It is impossible to heat storage facilities sufficiently and dry grain with hydroelectricity alone. The demand for energy would be too great. The other problem is that the Hydro-Québec power grid cannot deliver so much energy.

Other alternatives do exist, such as freeze drying, where the grain is stored in large dryers. The problem is that this method cannot always be used because the weather has to be perfect for it to work. That was not at all the case in 2019, when planting was delayed, there was a snowstorm, and the harvest was late. Using fossil fuels is therefore an option.

Some farmers have also turned to biomass, but it is not yet suitable for large-scale farms. Those who have switched to biomass are mainly poultry farmers. They can use biomass to heat the barns where the animals are kept and to dry the quantity of grain needed to feed them. These tend to be small-scale farmers. For larger producers, fossil fuel energy is unfortunately still necessary. Given that there are no real alternatives, it is important to understand that increasing the price of propane and natural gas will not decrease the use of these energy sources, since farmers have no choice. The only thing this will accomplish is to continue eroding farmers' profit margins, which are often already razor thin, especially when the weather conditions are not good, as was the case in 2019.

Even if the government increases the price on pollution, farmers do not have any other consistent options available to them. In light of this, farmers are not the right target. If we maintain the tax on fossil fuels, there is a risk that even more farms will not be passed down from generation to generation, which will diminish our ability to have food sovereignty. That means we would have to rely more heavily on other countries to support us, although they do not have the same standards as Canada does. Ultimately, the quality of our food would suffer.

Farmers are already making great efforts to protect the environment. They want to help protect the environment, but they need the right kind of help. It is important to consider that they are not always the right target when it comes to addressing climate change.

I would like to draw a parallel with a news release that the Bloc Québécois recently published on tax havens. It reads, and I quote:

Canada is a world laggard when it comes to addressing tax avoidance by multinational enterprises. Before contributing to the global fight against tax havens, Canada first needs to stop making the problem worse by allowing these companies to legally use tax havens.

That is a rather interesting parallel because the government is not focusing on the right thing when it targets farmers. The first thing we need to do is to turn off the tap where the impact is greatest, for example, by refusing to continue to fund certain fossil fuels and, more importantly, by putting an end to projects like Trans Mountain. We need to go after these major players first, rather than attacking agriculture, which is already a collaborative partner. Farmers already want to do a better job of fighting climate change because it has a direct impact on their own culture.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Resuming debate.

The hon. member for Northumberland—Peterborough South has the right to reply.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking all the members who studied Bill C-206 and spoke about it.

I would like to thank all the members who have spoken for their tremendous support with respect to the legislation, particularly the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, who has been a terrific partner working in the public accounts committee. I thank everybody for their time and consideration. We have even heard positive reports from the other side of the aisle, particularly from the member from Prince Edward Island, and I would like to thank him for his great comments.

Getting directly into the rebuttal, I want to address the comments from the member for Kingston and the Islands. I have the opportunity once again to enlighten him, which I am sure he will appreciate.

The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act actually says that eligible farming machinery means “...an industrial machine or a stationary or portable engine”. That would include a grain dryer 100 out of 100 times. I would encourage the member to research perhaps before he gets up to speak.

It is an honour to speak about my private member's Bill C-206, which seeks to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. I have had the opportunity to talk from coast to coast to coast with farmers. Every single one of them has supported the bill, and they have been absolutely terrific. I give a big shout out to the grain growers, who have been tremendous supporters, and I really appreciate their support.

As has been outlined, currently there is an exemption for some fuels for farmers with respect to the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, or the carbon tax. This includes diesel and gasoline, but it does not include, I think through an oversight, natural gas and propane. Natural gas and propane are actually cleaner fuels, so why would we exempt gasoline and diesel, which are dirtier fuels, and not natural gas and propane?

All I am trying to do with this proposed legislation is help our farmers and clean up another Liberal mess. Quite frankly, our farmers are being let down. They have been let down now for months and months, if not years and years, by this government, and this is our opportunity to help them a little bit. We are competing globally and our farmers have to take their goods all around the world, while many countries do not have to fight a pollution-price barrier or a carbon tax. We need to give our farmers every opportunity to compete.

The minister and the government have said again and again, unfortunately, that the carbon tax has no really big impact on farmers, which is just not true. That is not the reality. The problem with the Liberals is not that they do not know things, it is just that they know so many things that are not true. That is the reality.

Many farmers have sent us bills that show us that the carbon tax is costing them $10,000 to $30,000. The Saskatchewan Association of Agricultural Societies and Exhibitions has said that the carbon tax is 8% to 12% of agricultural producers' net income. This is the difference between our farmers making it and not making it. This is the difference between our farmers competing in global markets and not. This is the difference between our farmers holding on to their farms and losing their generational farms.

Although Liberals do not want to admit it, the reality is that, for farmers, the carbon tax is not revenue-neutral. The non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Office said that our proposed exemption would save farmers tens of millions of dollars. Farmers live in a world of extremely slim margins. These tens of millions of dollars spread to our farmers could make a tremendous difference, not just for our farmers but for our rural communities. Our rural communities are struggling through the pandemic. These farmers bring money and drive the economy of our rural communities. They pay for tractor dealerships, they pay for restaurants and they pay for the families that they support. We need to rally behind our farmers.

Our farmers are among the first environmentalists, along with our indigenous people. They have stood up for our land time and again, and the plants and the animals that exist. They are the ones standing up and protecting us. Agriculture, farming, was net zero 40 years before this Liberal government would achieve net zero. Our farmers have already done it. We need to stand up for them as they stand up for us and our environment.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Is the House ready for the question?

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

The question is on the motion.

If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

I see that the hon. member for Northumberland—Peterborough South is standing.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

I am very excited to request a recorded vote.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Pursuant to an order made on Monday, January 25, 2021, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, February 24, 2021, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Suspension of SittingGreenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

The House will now suspend until noon.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:49 a.m.)

(The House resumed at 12 p.m.)

The House resumed from February 19 consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

Noon

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, from coast to coast to coast Canadians are struggling, both with a pandemic that has cost far too many people their lives and with an economy in deep trouble. These two crises have hit working Canadians very hard. Lives and livelihoods have been lost. Despite all this, Canadians are persevering, as we know they can. Through adversity, they are getting the job done. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Liberal government.

The most important role the feds have is to procure vaccines and, sadly, they are failing. Canada is falling behind scores of countries in getting COVID-19 vaccines. We are standing north of 50: There are probably 50 countries ahead of us for vaccine procurement and its use. Israel has vaccinated about 80% of its population and the United Kingdom more than 25%. The United States has vaccinated more than 17%. In fact, I saw a statistic the other day that said more people were vaccinated in the United States in just one day than have been vaccinated in Canada, period. Canada is looking at a vaccination rate of about 3.60%, according to Bloomberg News. We are behind Greece, Chile, Morocco, Portugal, the Maldives, Serbia and many other countries.

For everyday Canadians, failure to procure vaccines will mean we will continue to be at risk and under lockdown, and the lockdowns will take place for longer times. These lockdowns have real-world consequences. I recently called a friend at a seniors' facility near Toronto. He is forbidden to leave his room. He told me it feels like he is in a jail cell.

Obviously, without enough people vaccinated, we will also be late to reopen our economy. While scores of other countries will reopen, we will still be locked down, with our businesses shuttered, and that is a true tragedy. This failure will have a significant impact on jobs and Canadian businesses. It certainly already has.

Being left behind is the last thing that struggling Canadians need, and workers are in a very dark place. It is especially true in my home province of Alberta. In addition to facing the pandemic and its economic consequences, Alberta is facing a federal government hostile to its number one industry: an industry that creates thousands of good-paying jobs right across Canada. I think a lot of Canadians should realize that the oil and gas industry is not all about Alberta: It is about all of Canada. It is a vital industry to Canada.

During the 2009 global recession, the energy industry helped Canada weather the storm. Because of the energy industry, Canada had the strongest economy in the G7 through that global recession, but the Liberal government has squandered that national asset. The government and its hostile legislation have attacked the goose that laid the golden egg. Take, for example, the Liberal government's recent lacklustre response to the Americans scrapping the Keystone XL pipeline.

In June 2018, the United States, under former president Donald Trump, placed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. Canada quickly responded with measures of its own. Canada took action to protect its vital economic interests. It did that despite knowing, at the time, that it was a campaign promise by then president Trump. Back then, the foreign affairs minister said, “the United States has taken the absurd decision to harm its own people at a time when its economy is suffering”. That was a reasonable approach, and we need that same reasonable approach with Keystone XL for Canada's largest export industry.

In 2019, our energy exports were valued at more than $134 billion. Let that sink in for a bit. Think what that money could buy. Think how much worse we will be when we do not have that money. Instead, Canada's current foreign minister said that we should understand and respect the decision on Keystone XL. The Prime Minister only said that he was disappointed. That is not the type of response they gave when manufacturers were under threat from tariffs during NAFTA renegotiations. Why is the energy industry treated differently?

During the NAFTA renegotiations, we took a team Canada approach in defence of Canada's vital national interests. Canadian government officials and politicians, including myself, went to Washington and lobbied key American stakeholders. We talked to Democrats, Republicans and everyone we could, yet today when another vital industry is under threat, all we hear are crickets from the Liberal government. We have actually heard more from American politicians and union officials in support of Keystone XL than from our own government.

On January 21, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said:

The Teamsters strongly oppose yesterday’s decision, and we would urge the administration to reconsider it. This executive order doesn’t just affect U.S. Teamsters; it hurts our Canadian brothers and sisters as well who work on this project. It will reduce good-paying union jobs that allow workers to provide a middle-class standard of living to their families. America needs access to various forms of energy that can keep its economy running in the years ahead. This decision will hurt that effort.

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas called out the Biden administration cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying “The Biden administration is already killing jobs in Arkansas—in the middle of a pandemic—to appease far-left environmental groups. This isn’t what America needs right now.”

This is a vital Canadian interest. Where is Canada's response? This lack of leadership has real world impact.

Recently, the Calgary Herald ran a story about Muhammad Ali, who has the same name as the famous boxer. Muhammad is a proud Calgarian, as he should be. Calgary is a fantastic city. It is the second biggest city in Alberta, the second best. He is currently finishing his business degree at the University of Calgary where he is majoring in supply management. Muhammad hoped once he graduated he would be able to find a career in the energy industry in Alberta, but now he is forced to leave the province for the U.S.A. He said, “I would have really loved to stay in Alberta, especially Calgary, it’s a really great place to live. And I was looking forward to maybe working in the energy industry here.” Unfortunately, those hopes have been dashed. As Muhammad put it, there just seems to be so much more opportunity for him in the U.S.

Muhammad is just one of many young western Canadians who are finding their career prospects leading them south of the border. Despite having the one of the largest oil deposits in the world, because of the neglect and outright hostility that the Liberal government has shown to our energy industry, it has seen its investment and jobs go elsewhere. At a time when it is essential to begin the process to rebuild our economy, seeing stories like Muhammad's is really disappointing. I wish him all the best. He seems like a talented and hard-working young man and I am sure he will a real asset wherever he goes. However, the fact that he must leave, despite wanting to stay, is a huge loss to our communities.

Last year, we saw the largest deficit in Canadian history, $331 billion. We are going to need the skills and hard work of people like Muhammad in Canada to help us pay off the enormous debt the Liberals have racked up. That is why we need the federal government to end its hostility to the energy industry, Canada's golden goose. It needs to stop exporting good Canadians jobs and facilitate the export of Canadian energy. We need to get Canada working.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, today, we are debating the economic statement implementation act. The bill was introduced by the Minister of Finance to put forward measures to take care of Canadians right now during a pandemic. The hon. member talked about vaccines. He talked about NAFTA. He talked about oil. He seemed to talk about anything he could think of except this issue.

I know the Conservatives have really been holding onto this bill for a while now. They need to desperately talk about it to ensure they have their opportunity to debate it before we pass it. That is what I have been hearing from the other side of the House for days now.

Would the member actually like to speak to anything that is in legislation?

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, this is another instance of a member from that side of the House not understanding the value of the key industry in Canada. What could be more important than vaccinating people, getting our country back and our jobs back? Maybe the problem is that the member has lost track of what is really important in our country.

I think people in Alberta and right across the country are seeing the neglect of the energy industry, the industry that fuels our country. We will not have much of a country at all unless we get onboard with that industry.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to follow up on the comments about vaccinations. I was astounded when the health minister was asked how many people would have to be vaccinated before the lockdowns would end and we could start to reopen the economy. Her response was that they were not even sure whether someone could transmit or get COVID after having a vaccine.

It is clear that the government does not have a plan to exit the pandemic. I wonder if my colleague could comment on that.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, that is a great observation. It is the real fear. Canadians are following public health orders. They are doing everything they are being told to do, generally speaking. They are trying to look around the corner to see what is coming. Unfortunately, that future still looks rather grim.

As I mentioned in my comments, I read this morning that the United States had vaccinated more people in one day than Canada had vaccinated in its entirety. To me, that speaks of a very weak Liberal plan. Unfortunately, it is very grim news for everybody when there is so little planning.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, if people listened to the previous Conservative member's question and that member's answer to it, they would have no idea what we are talking about.

This is nothing more than a delay tactic by the Conservatives because they do not want this bill to be voted on in the House. They are using certain pandemic measures put forward by this government to take care of Canadians during a pandemic as a political tool to prevent the bill from moving forward. They are basically forcing this side of the House to at some point move closure on the bill because they refuse to have a vote on the floor. It is shameful that the member is part of this action. It is easy to see that in the last exchange between him and the other Conservative member.

I will give the member one last opportunity to actually talk about something that is in the bill. Would he like to do that?

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, it is interesting that it is a Liberal who believes that rigorous debate should not be allowed, and that just shows you how out of touch you are. I am sorry that—

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not think you are out of touch. The member said that you are out of touch. For the record, you are not out of touch; you are a fine Speaker. He should not be talking about you like that.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

I thank the hon. member for defending my honour.

The hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Madam Speaker, on that point of order, and not to speak for my colleague, as often happens in this place, members in responding to one of their colleagues, through you, do direct their comments in that fashion. While I agree with the member for Kingston and the Islands that the Speaker is not out of touch, I expect that the member for Edmonton Griesbach was referring to the member for Kingston and the Islands being out of touch.