Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-12, such an important bill. I do not think there is anything more important than what this bill seeks to set in motion.
We have made it very clear that we must reach net-zero by 2050 and that we must exceed the Paris climate targets by 2030. What this bill would do is set the framework to establish and measure those targets, but more importantly, afterwards, figure out if something needs to be adjusted and hold accountability back to Parliament for whatever governments come and go between now and 2050, so that Canadians have an ability to assess how we are doing.
I say that nothing is more important than this, because I cannot think of any particular piece of legislation that could trump this in terms of the impact it would have for generations to come.
I think of my children, who are 17, four and two, and the world they will live in 50 years from now. I worry about what it will look like from an environmental perspective and from an ecosystem perspective, not just here in Canada, as there is no doubt, in my opinion, that we are probably one of the better-off countries in terms of the effects of climate change, but what climate change will mean to things like world order. What impact will climate refugees, those seeking refugee status as a result of climate change, have in our world? Nothing matters more, in my opinion, than what this legislation attempts to hold governments to account on as we move into the future.
I think of some of the discussions that have been had today, and I think of what it is going to take to get to this. A lot of people talk about how this is going to be very challenging, how there is a lot of work that needs to be done, how electric vehicles are not where they need to be and what the real impact on reducing those emissions will be, and it is daunting to think about it. I think we really have to change a lot of what we do.
However, if we stop there and only consider the daunting perspective of what needs to be done, we will completely miss the opportunity that comes along with it. In my opinion, there is a great opportunity here to be leaders in the technology. Who does not want to develop those new technologies that the world will adopt? Who does not want to be an exporter of great technology? We need to be at the leading edge of this so that we are exporting our technologies around the world, as other nations that are developing are looking for ways to do things differently and to be more environmentally sensitive so that the impact is more environmentally correct, but also on a more localized level.
I will never forget one of the climate strike rallies in Kingston on a Friday afternoon a couple of years ago. One of the organizers of the event, Gavin Hutchison, whom I know very well as he helped me in my 2015 campaign, came up to me and said, “Think of the potential for job creation in doing what we need to do.” Kingston is renowned for its old buildings, and of course old buildings do not lend themselves well to being extremely efficient until they have been retrofitted. Gavin pointed over to Kingston city hall and said, “Think of the work that has to be done to change those windows to triple-pane windows and relook at the way we do our heating systems by using geothermal and other ways of doing things.” All of this will employ thousands of people in the short, medium and long term in order to get to where we need to be.
When we have a debate like this, I think of somebody like Gavin. For somebody who is so incredibly passionate and who understands the dire circumstances we are in, he still has the ability to be optimistic. He still looks at the glass as half-full, rather than saying, “Oh well, I can only drive 300 kilometres with my electric car, so I may as well go back to the F-150”, which, by the way, is going electric in the next couple of years. People like Gavin do not think like that. The vast majority of Canadians do not think like that. They look at things from an optimistic perspective. Our economy and markets look at things optimistically: Where will the leading-edge technology be? Capital for anything with the term “green” attached to it is readily available because the markets know that this is where the future is.
We are about to unlock incredible potential with the way our commitment to our environmental responsibilities is changing. I think of some of the opposition to this bill that I have heard today and I cannot seem to wrap my head around it. Conservative members seem to suggest that they are against this bill and I cannot understand why. When we think about it, this bill basically says that we establish benchmarks and then measure ourselves against them. What more would an opposition party want than that? We are literally putting this into legislation. We are saying, this is what we are going to accomplish and, by the way, we are going to follow up to see if we actually did it. With the ammunition it would give to the Conservative Party in attacking and holding a government to account, I cannot understand why anybody would be against this. Even if someone was against doing anything with respect to climate change, there is still the opportunity to hold the government to account.
That brings me to my next point. Are the Conservatives really against this bill, or are they against the evolution and modernizing of our economy so that we can get to where we are being more environmentally responsible? It is so funny that the member for Battle River—Crowfoot, who was speaking earlier, was talking about Liberals being hypocrites. This is coming from a party that, by the way, now supports pricing pollution and clean fuel standards. For years, they fought us on this. They repeatedly said that the Liberals were trying to pass a carbon tax, that they cannot and will not have it, and now it is suddenly what they are going to do.
As if that was not the best part, I want to read something the member for Battle River—Crowfoot said in this House today. Members might find this interesting. The member said, “all members of this House...certainly from the Conservative side, support a strong environment for our future, but we also believe that needs to go hand in hand with the economy”. A Conservative member in this House today said the environment needs to go hand in hand with the economy. I feel for the previous minister of environment, the member for Ottawa Centre, who for years sat in the House saying the exact same thing and she was heckled repeatedly for it. What is next? Are the Conservatives going to come in here and say “the middle class and those working hard to join it”? Is that the next line that is going to start coming from the Conservatives?
I will end with where I started. Nothing is more important than this bill. Nothing is more important than defining what our future will look like and, even more importantly, holding any government to account to make sure it delivers, and if it does not, understanding exactly what it is going to do differently so that it does. Without this, nothing else really matters. This is the most important thing that we can do for future generations.