Madam Speaker, it is great to be back in the House. It is great to have a vast audience across the way to hear what I am about to say, although the member for Kingston and the Islands may not entirely agree with it.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this excellent private member's bill, Bill C-206, from my colleague for Northumberland—Peterborough South, and in particular to talk about the significant failures in environmental policy on the part of government and how it is imposing costs on Canadians without a real plan to help us achieve our environmental objectives vis-à-vis climate change.
I will start briefly by congratulating the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South on his excellent work on this bill and so many other issues. He serves as the shadow minister for revenue in our caucus. When I hear “shadow minister of revenue”, I think it sounds exciting, but he really has grabbed this position by the horns. It has been a pleasure to work with him on a number of revenue issues, including trying to bring about reforms to the direction and control system.
This member has been a great champion of the charitable sector, trying to push the government to reform various aspects of the regulatory and legislative environment around revenue, especially direction and control, to really empower our charitable organizations and help them move forward. I want to congratulate the member for all his work, particularly in this bill, on behalf of farmers in his riding and elsewhere.
Bill C-206 seeks to change the definition of a qualifying farm fuel to include certain fuels not currently included, and that is a step forward in terms of allowing any fuel a farmer would use to be qualified as a qualifying farm fuel, and therefore not having the carbon tax applied to it. Right now, while natural gas and propane are not identified as qualifying farm fuels, gas and diesel are. Not only does this impose additional costs on farmers, but it also gives farmers an incentive to move away from using natural gas and propane and toward using relatively more gas and diesel.
In all likelihood, this is sort of perverse incentive that encourages greater greenhouse gas emissions, so this member is rationalizing the system through this bill in a way that would reduce costs for farmers and help our environment by removing this artificial incentive to use fuels that pollute to a greater extent.
One would think this is a no-brainer on that basis. If this is going to reduce costs for farmers, but is also going to help our environment by providing more of an incentive for farmers to use cleaner fuels, why would it not just be automatic that everyone in this House supports it? The Liberals are stubbornly clinging to their position that the way they did it was fine.
The big problem with these Liberals on so many aspects of their environmental policy is they do not understand the way in which perverse incentives can lead to worse outcomes for the environment, and they are not willing to look critically at the impact of those incentives on behaviour.
One of the issues we have talked about a lot in the Conservative caucus in terms of the failures of the Liberals' environmental policy is this issue of border adjustments. The Liberal approach is to impose carbon taxes on Canadian producers, Canadian farmers and Canadian consumers, but not to apply those same requirements on people outside of Canada who are producing products and then selling those products in the Canadian market.
The effect of this is that it is artificially creating an advantage for foreign producers, the people manufacturing goods and growing crops outside the country who are trying to then sell those products in Canada. One is creating an advantage for those outside Canada who are selling their products to Canada over Canadian producers. This obviously does not make any sense, in terms not only of protecting our own economic interests, but also of responding to the environmental challenges we face.
When one makes it more expensive, and in the case of this particular bill, it relates to farming, and when one imposes more costs on Canadian farmers and therefore tilts the field against our farmers and in favour of people involved in agriculture production outside of the country, that is not helping the environment. It is simply hurting our own economy at no environmental benefit.
We understand, in this caucus, that the challenges we face in terms of climate change are global challenges. Canada has to do its part, but it also has to put in place policies that recognize that emissions can happen outside of the country, and when they happen they impact us. We need to have a structure that integrates an appreciation for the global impact of climate change.
That is why the Conservative environmental plan, for the first time from any party, proposes a strong policy around border adjustment tariffs. There has to be an equivalency between the burden imposed on Canadian producers and the import adjustments that are taking place. We should not be creating a tilted playing field in which we are actually creating an advantage for those producing greenhouse gas emissions outside of the country.
We have raised this issue of perverse incentives: incentives in the policy that actually encourage the wrong kind of behaviour. In the case of border adjustments, we are talking about an incentive that the government has created, in its approach to environmental policy, to move production outside of the country.
If someone is making products for the Canadian market right now in Canada, that person is paying carbon tax. If someone is producing those products outside of Canada in a jurisdiction that does not have a carbon tax and then selling them into Canada, they are in an economically advantageous position, at least vis-à-vis the carbon tax.
This should be fixed so that we have a fair environmental policy that encourages improvements to environmental performance, but does not encourage the wrong kinds of adaptation, such as moving work outside of the country. As other colleagues have talked about as well, in the case of this bill we are talking about another case of perverse incentive. In imposing the carbon tax on certain kinds of fuel and not others, as the system is currently structured, there is an incentive for farmers to use fuels that may be more expensive and that may produce more in the way of emissions.
I think we can do better. The member for Northumberland—Peterborough South has quite rightly seen the opportunity to do better and has thus put forward a bill that seeks to adjust the incentive environment. That is why I am very supportive of this bill. I would encourage all members to be supportive of it and to push the government to recognize something. It has been a talking point of the Liberals for a long time. They say the environment and the economy go hand in hand, yet they impose restrictions and taxes that hurt our economy and provide no benefit to the environment.
It does not make any sense that they would impose obligations on Canadian producers and not have the corresponding adjustments happening at the border. It does not make any sense from an environmental standpoint. If they really believed that there was a unity of objective that could be pursued between the environment and the economy, they would be supportive of the plan that we have put forward, which includes these kinds of border adjustment measures.
In general, in our environmental plan as announced by our leader, the money that is gathered through the deductions paid when people purchase products that emit carbon is put back into their pockets to also pay for adaptation. Our plan is not just about taking money away from people who are producing: It is about giving those resources back to them to invest in adaptations that improve their environmental performance. Our plan is very different from what we see from the Liberal government. The government is trying to use the environment often as a way to raise extra revenue. Our approach is to target measures that are going to improve the environment, while also supporting our industry.
On this side of the House, we recognize the important role of our farmers. We recognize the value of having agricultural production in Canada. We want to strengthen farming communities. We recognize that from a basic security, food security and well-being perspective, it is important to have strong agricultural production happening here in Canada.
We have championed this position, as a party, from the very beginning. We understand that it is not enough to just say it. Within every party we hear members saying flowery words about the agricultural sector, but the Conservative Party has always been there to stand with our farmers, and Bill C-206 is another example of that.