House of Commons Hansard #123 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think that the population in general underestimates how much the arts influence their lives and how much they need the arts to connect. I mean, during the pandemic, what did people do? They watched television, watched series and read books. It was the arts that helped keep people together and kept them sane.

Sadly, in my own riding, there was the loss of the life of one young man, an 18-year-old who loved the theatre. He dropped out of school and was not able to do what he loved to do. It was his happy place, but it was taken away from him because of COVID-19. I say that more arts will help Canadians. The arts help us to stay strong and help us mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak in support of Bill S-205 and to affirm the importance of the arts for our national life and indeed for all people throughout all time in history. The appreciation of beautiful things and the enjoyment of them is fundamental to the human condition. It is part of what elevates our minds and develops our thoughts and creates space for our greater understanding of goodness and of truth, in unity with beauty.

I was thinking of jumping-off points for talking about this issue. I was reminded that in the Catholic tradition, today is the feast of St. Thomas More. St. Thomas More is known better for some things than for others, although he was a composite figure known for his many different contributions to politics as well as to literature. He is best known for how his career ended: He was executed for refusing to endorse the king's marriage. He did so on a point of principle and a point of conscience. Regardless of whether members agree with the particular stand he took, we can all admire the courage of a politician who takes a stand on a principle and understands that the things they believe in are more important than their career or even their life.

St. Thomas More was also a great humanist. He talked about justice. He talked about human dignity and spoke explicitly about the connection between the ill treatment of people and crime. His writings and comments on those subjects have been sources of inspiration and content for people across the political spectrum. Particularly on the artistic side, he was someone who was able to develop ideas and present political points, indirectly perhaps, in the form of beautiful literary compositions.

If members have not read it, I encourage all to read Utopia. This is where we get the concept of utopia as sort of a political construct. He wrote this relatively short book, Utopia, in which he imagined a voyage to a faraway country called Utopia, and he describes in detail the characteristics, the modes of interaction and the beliefs of this fictitious people. Of course, he was living at a time when it was difficult to make certain kinds of political points directly. As his later career demonstrated, if one believed in certain things and expressed those opinions, there could be very dire consequences, not just in today's sense of people being cancelled but of actually being cancelled.

He spoke about certain ideas and raised certain questions through this description of an imaginary society that operated according to different norms and different rules. There were many questions at the time, and there still are, about what he really meant in many aspects of this book. Was he describing an ideal society? On the other hand, there were things about that society that seemed to be different from things that he defended and advocated as a politician. Maybe he was not describing an ideal society; maybe he was simply trying to expand the creative imagination. He was trying to give flower to possibilities by creating a space in which it was acceptable to think about things that would have been seen as maybe too subversive if he had been commenting directly on norms or policies in his own country.

I think what Utopia demonstrates is the beginning of the tradition of trying to subvert established ideas through the subtlety that is possible through art when it is is maybe harder to present those alternative concepts directly. There has since been this whole genre of utopian or dystopian literature, with dystopia, obviously, being the inverse of a utopia. There are many great modern works that pick up on this tradition and use this device of imagining another place, another time, another context to subtly comment on our current realities. Some of the works of Margaret Atwood, of course, are famous in this regard, such as The Handmaid's Tale. The Children of Men is another great dystopian novel that I have read recently, and I think it has a great deal of value in it.

The point I am trying to make is that art has value in and of itself. It is also a vehicle by which questions can be raised and thoughts can be provoked that are not as obvious, not as directly accessible through explicit political speech, and, indeed, possibilities can be opened that are unexamined otherwise or harder to argue for directly.

That can be the case perhaps because of direct repercussions for those who propose contrary ideas, but that can also be the case simply because certain concepts are so out of the mould that it is hard to envision what they would imply unless they are actually described in a more literary format. Thomas Moore is one example of someone who successfully provoked the creative imagination through art and literature.

We can see the value in Parliament creating this position of a visual artist laureate as appreciating our artists, as affirming the value of arts as a mechanism by which Parliament uses its position, its leadership role within the country to affirm the importance of the arts. However, it is also an opportunity to recognize, in our national life, so many of the conversations we have about the big challenging issues facing our country. Questions of justice, questions of human rights and questions of how we behave and respond to certain challenges can be proposed and shaped through art.

With that in mind, I am very supportive of the bill. It is one of many private members' bills before the House, some of which have come from the Senate, that do have great value and that Conservatives are pleased to support. From what I understand, Bill S-205, like Bill S-204, which we were speaking to last week, had the unanimous support of all senators. Like Bill S-204, it also has a great deal of support in the House. By all indication, I think all members will be supportive of the valuable provisions contained in that bill. It is one of those things hopefully parliamentarians can work together on across different important private members' bills as well as across different chambers to move these things forward.

In the context of the legislative timeline we have in front of us, unfortunately it looks like the Prime Minister is trying to malign the work of Parliament to create the impression that Parliament is not working. The reality is that this Parliament has worked substantially to move certain important issues forward; it just has not always worked in a way the government has liked.

One example the sponsor of this bill will be familiar with is the work being done at the Canada-China committee, a committee that was created even though the government did not want it created, a committee that undertook important studies, did important work on the situation in Hong Kong, a committee that has been part of discussions that have happened at other committees as well on recognizing the Uighur genocide, something that happened through the leadership of Parliament and not through the leadership of the government. Now we have a situation of Parliament asserting its rights to access documents. These are important cases of the leadership of this Parliament.

If the Prime Minister is critiquing Parliament, it has less to do with the fact Parliament is not working and more to do with the fact that, from his perspective, Parliament is working too well. Parliament is doing things the government may not like, but nonetheless Parliament has been able to lead, oftentimes through the collaboration of opposition parties and sometimes working with individual members of the government as well.

Nonetheless, we are in the situation now as we approach the end of the spring session where it looks very much like the Prime Minister, in trying to malign the work of Parliament, is trying to position himself to justify calling an election. If that happens, of course, it will put important legislative initiatives that have not yet passed in jeopardy.

We should reflect on the fact that as we possibly come to the end of the spring session, in some cases, we have bills that have been passed in the Senate and are now in the House. If the House could find a way of dealing with them, it would allow us to move forward ahead of the spring session so those bills could become law.

As I have described, this is important legislation. It recognizes the profound role that arts play in our national life, the profound role of beauty in the human experience and also the role arts can play in provoking questions and ideas that might not get discussed otherwise.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline Desbiens Bloc Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, what a fantastic way to wrap up this session of the House.

The purpose of the bill is to create the position of parliamentary visual artist laureate, who would be tasked not only with producing artistic creations, but also with promoting the arts in Canada, through Parliament, including by fostering knowledge, enjoyment and awareness and development of the arts among Canadians. That is a noble task, but it is an ambitious one for a single person.

Visual art can be universal, and carries across languages. Visual art tells a story, creates, projects the real and the abstract. According to the Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec, and by its very nature, art is a reflection of human expression and is intimately linked to its time. As a result, it is an exceptional vector for dissemination and dialogue, offering the public opportunities for interaction, which are indispensable to the development of society. That is a nice definition. Although art is often seen as a mirror on society, just like it, it is interpreted according to the beholder’s experience and history. This experience, our experience, tints our gaze with its colours, so that, where someone sees the ocean, another sees the sky; where someone senses solitude, another feels free; where one human sees the desire to exist or to remember, another may perceive hatred and even contempt.

Art is a powerful means of expression, and finding a person who can create it and express themselves without censure in a strong and pure work of art and in a context where everything is politicized is quite a feat. How can an artist express passion and neutrality, inspiration and representativeness? That is quite the challenge. Textures, colours, nuances, anything can be symbolic: positive for some, negative for others. Everything can be open to interpretation. Unfortunately, we have seen this on many occasions. Art commands freedom. While I am the last person to want to stop someone from creating and making a living from their creativity, the fact remains that the artist will shoulder heavy responsibilities.

As a committed songwriter myself, I know that using the right words is extremely important and has an impact on the listener. I once created a work where song met visual art. Entitled Chansons sur toiles, it won an award in Switzerland. It was a reflection, a mirror of the paintings of Charlevoix by Charlevoix artists. My songs were painted at that point in time.

Having met several visual artists, and being aware of the magnitude of the challenge involved in painting a song, I may have a better grasp of the challenge that awaits this person. Creating a visual expression of Parliament and of all the citizens it represents, often in a context of confrontation, or at least divergence, for everyone to see and absorb is not a simple task. The sad greyness of recent times that obliged us to remain unwillingly estranged from one another, unnaturally separated, only adds to the challenge the artist will have to face.

This being said, art has the power to move us, anger us, delight and amaze us again, and to make us think and evolve. All of this, as we see life from another perspective. We now understand just how much we need each other, how much every little gesture means and how intensely we feel the need to see each other again, embrace each other.

Art will undoubtedly reflect our emergence from the darkness. It does not often happen that every human being on the planet goes through the same tragedy, but the message of hope and love that will come out of this time will be all the more beautiful and grand. Art will have to reflect all this and more. It will have to guide us forward, focusing our attention on the values and hopes we all cherish, but not all for the same reasons. What influence will this artist have on climate change, for example, and on the different opinions expressed in Parliament?

How will the artist convey the fundamental difference between the Liberals' multiculturalism and Quebec's interculturalism, which is more innovative and more in keeping with reality, while remaining impartial? Rather than staying in isolation or feigning indifference, will they be free to express diversity, which is an impetus toward cultural sharing and exchange, in its most beautiful form, namely its uniqueness and recognition?

The artist will also be responsible for fostering and promoting the arts. They will have to find the right tone and then promote the arts, hence the importance, nay, the need for fairness. I do not know how much leeway and freedom they will have, given the obligation to do it through the Parliament of Canada.

Will they have to respect some historical or political criterion? This type of thing is very pervasive, and all communities must be assured that the work will be shown for what it is, for its cultural, social and historical value, and contextualized within the experience of every member of the community, rather than as one in a succession of specifically Canadian works that remain within the strict confines of Canadian values, which are sometimes imposed by the powers that be at the time.

No, the artist must be a person from Medicine Hat, with all that that entails, a Franco-Saskatchewanian, a Huron-Wendat, a Franco-Ontarian from northern Ontario, an Acadian, a Montrealer from Côte-des-Neiges, the Plateau or Hochelaga, a north shore resident or a Nisga’a, a person from Charlevoix, a Magdalen Islander, a person from Lac Saint-Jean or an Innu, with all the richness that every story, every root and every conviction carries.

That is why I have my doubts when I think about who could become the parliamentary artist and bear this weighty responsibility worthy of every virtue. Since the Bloc Québécois is certainly not against virtue, we hope that the artist will be up to this demanding task. What makes a nation belongs to the nation, and its expression belongs to its artists, who have different and at times opposite visions. That is exactly what allows a society to evolve upward.

That is why my humble reflections have led to this conclusion: limiting Parliament to a single signature, free as it may be in its personal interpretation, means giving the power of messaging to a single spirit, however open it may be. That can only limit the immense openness this Parliament needs to be able to express all of our various visions, for now and for the future. That is what I hope for Parliament and for the artist who will inhabit it.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of Bill S-205 as a proud Hamiltonian and member of Parliament representing Hamilton Centre, which for generations has been an epicentre of the arts, a refuge, a place where artists have come to live, create, explore and indeed share their contributions with the rest of Canada. I am excited about this act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act to create a parliamentary visual artist laureate, and I am struck by the ways in which visual art has had an impact on my life.

Those who are familiar with Hamilton or have had the privilege of visiting our incredible city no doubt will have stopped at some time by the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Any child who went to school there would no doubt recall the trips to the Art Gallery of Hamilton. In particular, any small child, I can assure members, can spend hours at the permanent installation of the Bruegel-Bosch Bus by Kim Adams, if given the opportunity to experience it. In fact, any person looking at that installation could spend hours wondering, dreaming and interpreting its meaning.

There is so much in the arts that enriches our lives in society. As I walk around my own riding of Hamilton Centre, I am struck by the beauty, inspiration and indeed the stories that are told through our public art. There are barriers to art. There are certainly class implications to art and people's ability to access it in fair ways. Perhaps there was a time in our city when art was confined to places like the art gallery or other institutions that may not have been accessible to the public.

I think the opportunity to have a national parliamentary visual artist laureate speaks to our calls for open access to art, understanding that everybody, regardless of income or area code, deserves to have exposure to the splendour, the beauty and the stories of art.

I would like to take this moment to acknowledge some of the profound impacts that local artists have had on our city. There was a time, not too long ago, when Hamilton was an affordable place to live. Of course, that has changed over the years, but what remains are the artists who, over the last 10 or 15 years, decided to make Hamilton their home. There is a unique culture, a collectivist culture, within Hamilton, where artists take care of one another and create spaces that might not be present. I had the opportunity and pleasure of serving with the Hamilton Community Foundation in the transition from the idea of art as philanthropy versus art as a part of an actual built institution or forum within our cities, and I would like to thank my dear friend Jeremy Freiburger with Cobalt Connects for helping me provide some of that reference point.

I think about the ways in which a parliamentary visual artist laureate could set an example for the rest of the country and, as the previous speaker mentioned, give a snapshot of the uniqueness of the diversity within this country. I thought it important and I raised the question, when the sponsor from Cumberland—Colchester presented this private member's bill, about the importance of having this artist laureate be reflective of Canada's diversity, because it is often the case that when we go into these spaces, we do not just look for who is there; if we are coming from diverse communities, we often recognize who is not there. That is why her reference to our 2016-17 poet laureate George Elliott Clarke was so important to me, because I recall hearing some of his many works where he would speak truth to power in ways that might have been absent without his lived experience.

When I reflect on that and I look at the ways in which our neighbourhoods have been transformed by public art, the way in which there is a wonder in finding and discovering new pieces of art, whether they are murals on walls, whether they are from graffiti artists who have contributed to our community, or whether they are sculptures, any way in which visual art presents itself, I am deeply grateful.

For those members who know my community, there was a time when the public's perception of my neighbourhood was one of a stark industrialism, which has its own artistic beauty, but certainly is beautified by works of public art. I think about the ways in which those works are representative of our city, the ways in which this visual artist laureate could be representative of our country.

If I may take this moment, I would like to acknowledge the newly named executive director for Hamilton Artists Inc., my friend, neighbour, multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker Derek Jenkins, and the newly named collective public programs coordinator, John Hill, who is an Oneida artist and who believes that art can give people the tools to imagine new and hopeful worlds. I love that. I love the promise that it brings, and I feel like that could encapsulate the promise that this private member's bill could bring.

We have so many talented artists in our city. I could spend an hour today pitching all the amazing people who would make incredible visual artists laureate. I think about the way they are connected to all the incredible community groups within our city, like the Coalition of Black and Racialized Artists, which has served a mandate to support and uplift the much-needed diversity within our arts and culture scene.

I think about the visual alchemist Stylo Starr, the world-renowned photographer George Qua-Enoo, the incredibly important and affirming work of Herstory Doll creator Queen Cee, or her husband, Leon 'Eklipz' Robinson, who has the distinct cultural legacy as a graffiti master, hip hop extraordinaire, poet, photographer, painter and filmmaker. In fact, I had the privilege of working with him on a project where he took small children and allowed them to create their own art in our incredible Gage Park, which remains there today, by the pump track, indeed a monument to the creative nature of our children and their ability, when they are connected through programs to art, to build beautiful things in our community.

I often also reflect on the ways in which some of my favourite works reflect the struggle that people have felt in this country, and I reference the Montreal mixed-media artist Kit Lang, whose work Incendiary: Mary Joseph Angélique reflects the historical and present-day truths facing the African Canadian diaspora in Canada; or the Hamilton-born artist Kapwani Kiwanga, whose contributions can offer a critique on settler colonialism; or the works of Syrus Marcus Ware, whose portraits commemorate the activists and the revolutionaries of our communities to ensure that Black, indigenous, racialized, queer or trans people, or people living with disabilities, are given safe and creative spaces. I think about Camille Turner and her perceptions of Canadianness and her performance in the persona of Miss Canadiana, which confronts the ideas of the Black body as being foreign or other.

The list goes on and on, about the incredible opportunity that this private member's bill provides the House of Commons today to honour, to lift up and to exalt the artists and the artistry that we have in this country, the multiculturalism and diversity that make this country unique.

In closing, I would like to thank the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester for bringing this important private member's bill and allowing me the opportunity to stand in the House today to share with the members just some of the many incredible artists we have from my city in Hamilton Centre.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to speak today in support of Bill S-205, which calls for the creation of a parliamentary visual artist laureate.

I want to thank my colleague from Cumberland—Colchester for bringing this important bill to the House of Commons. I would also like to thank Senator Bovey for introducing the bill and for the role it would play in promoting the arts across Canada. Senator Bovey has had a long career as a promoter of the arts, and we would all be hard pressed to find anyone who matches her expertise in this field. She previously called for this in a bill introduced in the last session of this Parliament, as did Senator Wilfred Moore in 2018. Twice it has successfully passed the Senate and made it to the House, so let us work together to pass Bill S-205 in this House.

Similar to the poet laureate, this would be a non-partisan officer of Parliament in the Library of Parliament tasked by this institution with promoting the arts throughout the country by fostering knowledge, enjoyment, awareness and development of the arts. The position comes with a wide mandate, as the visual arts can include drawing, painting, sculpture, print making, crafts, photography, videography and filmmaking. The mandate would be to promote the arts in Canada through Parliament by producing or commissioning artistic creations. At the request of the Speaker of either House, he or she could produce artistic creations for use in Parliament or on occasions of state. The artist laureate could also sponsor artistic events and give advice to the Library of Parliament regarding the library's collection and acquisitions to enrich the library’s cultural holdings.

Like other countries, Canada finds itself in a place where we are looking back at our history and reconsidering whom we choose to commemorate and celebrate. This is why I particularly appreciate the fact that the bill specifies that the final laureate must be chosen from a list that reflects Canada's diversity. If this bill is passed, over time we will find ourselves with laureates representing the many cultures that exist within Canada: anglophones, francophones, indigenous people, newcomers, men and women, and people of all backgrounds working in all mediums of the visual arts.

The arts community often runs on a not-for-profit basis and often needs the support of government institutions and grants. Our government provides funding for the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada, the National Film Board, CBC/Radio-Canada and other institutions that cultivate our artists and bring them to the world stage. In 2017, the government announced an additional investment of $300 million over 10 years for the Canada cultural spaces fund, more than doubling the program's annual budget until 2028. As well, budget 2019 included additional investments to support arts, culture and celebration through five Department of Canadian Heritage programs, and to support arts presentation. This is one more way we can show our support for the industry.

The pandemic has been difficult for the entire arts community. Museums and galleries had to close their doors, and artists' businesses slowed. However, many have embraced the new challenges that this represents and found news ways to deliver their programming online, and our government has been there to support many of them.

In my community, the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives, known as PAMA, features a variety of permanent and touring exhibits of paintings, photography, sculpture, historical artifacts, and also serves as the main cultural archives for our region. It showcases historical and modern indigenous artwork, artifacts of local history, pieces by local artists and much more.

Last October, PAMA received a grant of $100,000 so they would have the resources to continue their work in preserving our local heritage during the pandemic. It was also just recently announced that they would receive $800,000 from the federal government to make much-needed infrastructure improvements to their facility.

In my community, there are many initiatives that promote the creation of arts by members of many diverse communities. The International Film Festival of South Asia is one such example. As the largest South Asian film festival in North America, IFFSA is an outstanding platform for local artists to showcase their talents. The festival is not only limited to movies. This festival has a deep social role promoting civic engagement and culture dialogue.

In my riding of Brampton South, the arts sector is also supported through other federal initiatives such as the Canada summer jobs program. Summer jobs in the arts are supported through the Beaux Arts Brampton gallery, right in downtown Brampton, and the Arts and Culture Initiative of South Asia. Perhaps artists who come up through the Peel Art Gallery, or any of these other local programs, would one day find themselves as the parliamentary visual artist laureate.

Art, in all its forms, has the potential to be both a reflection of a society and a reflection of its strength and weakness. It is a manifestation of our hopes and dreams, as well as our daily struggles. Through paint or stone, artists do not just open themselves up to us, they open us up to ourselves.

I am looking forward to not only the passage of this bill, but also the great works of art that would be promoted by our nation's future laureates.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Aitchison Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to speak. I must admit, I need to thank the member for Richmond—Arthabaska. We are members of the heritage committee together, and he asked me if I would speak to this bill, which we support. He asked me if I would speak to it a bit earlier today. Without a lot of time to prepare, I thought it would give me a great opportunity to speak to what we have heard a lot about already today in this chamber, which is the importance and the power of the visual arts to inform, educate and heal. Many members have said that so eloquently already.

What I find interesting is that so far I have not heard, including from the other Conservative member who spoke on this topic already, about how the arts are important for telling our story as Canadians. They are important for living a full, self-actualized life. They are part of our growth and healing. As a Conservative, I also think it is crucially important we point out the importance of the economic impact of the arts.

I can give members all kinds of examples in my riding of Parry Sound—Muskoka. Parry Sound—Muskoka is a beautiful place with many beautiful vistas. It is visited by many thousands of tourists and cottagers every year. One of the things that is unique to Muskoka is the fact that we have so many artists who live in and around the beautiful lakes and trees that make up our landscape.

In fact, the Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour was one of the very first studio tours established in Canada back in 1979. There are dozens of artists, such as Catherine O'Mara; Janice Feist; Stan Tait, who makes jewellery; Miranda Britton, who makes jewellery; and Marni Martin, who makes beautiful tapestries.

These people do such incredible work, and they create such beautiful items, but they also created careers for themselves. They all work in this field, and they have had tremendous success. The Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour is a great example of why supporting the arts is also a really smart economic move. I point out that one example for my colleague from B.C.

I would like to point out as well that Senator Bovey from the other place presented this motion in the first place, and it has since been brought here. She pointed out the importance and impact of the arts sector on the economy. She reported that the GDP of cultural industries in Canada in 2017 was $58.9 billion, or $1,611 per capita, which is about 2.8% of national GDP. Those numbers are from 2017. It is a significant contributor to our economy.

I also think about the local artists in my region when I think about the importance of telling our story. I think back to one of the founding members of that Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour, Brenda Wainman Goulet, who sadly died suddenly a few years ago. I was the mayor of Huntsville at the time, and when I was asked by the family to speak at the memorial service, I thought long and hard about the work that Brenda Wainman Goulet did. She took the rugged granite of Muskoka and blended that with metals and created some of the most beautiful sculptures I have ever seen.

When it came time to beautify the front of a new theatre that was constructed in Huntsville, the Algonquin Theatre, we looked for an artist to create something special, a special statue in front of the theatre. Brenda Wainman Goulet created a bronze sculpture of Tom Thomson, the famous pre-Group of Seven artist who was famous for painting striking Canadian landscapes of the Canadian Shield. I have seen more people have their photo taken with that bronze statue in downtown Huntsville than anything else in town.

At the time of her memorial, I was thinking a lot about the importance of beauty. It brought me to thinking about something I had read years before called Italian Journey, which I am sure Mr. Speaker is familiar with. It is actually an edited verison of the diary of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was a very accomplished young man in the 1700s. He had been appointed to Duke Karl August's privy council at the age of 25.

He was very accomplished. He oversaw the expansion of silver mining in the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar. He implemented reforms to the university there. He sat as a member of the war and highway commissions, all at the age of 25. He was a very accomplished young man. He was also instrumental in the planning of the botanical gardens and the reconstruction of the ducal palace, which is a UNESCO world heritage site today in Italy.

At the age of 37, though, Goethe was frustrated and feeling like something was lacking in his life. To recharge, he decided he would travel through Italy, and from 1786 to 1788 he travelled through Italy. He chronicled his experience, of course, in his diary.

He really yearned to understand what possible conditions there were in Italy that made it such a paradise. Italy was obviously well known at the time to be a beautiful place. He concluded that, with what seemed to be a limitless expression of art absolutely everywhere in Italy, beauty was not a momentary reprieve from the dreariness of everyday life. It was everyday life, and it filled his soul.

Art is good for the economy, and it is good for the soul. It is important for us to share and understand our stories, for generations to come to understand our stories, and to certainly understand in a meaningful way what we do around here. For these reasons, I think it is very important that we all in this House support this bill and the concept of a visual arts laureate for Parliament.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to highlight the fact that, despite the great importance we place on arts and culture, I find it unfortunate that we are debating Bill S-205, which seeks to create the position of parliamentary visual artist laureate.

At a time when the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons are going around telling the media and anyone who will listen that the Conservative Party is filibustering and blocking important legislation, here we are at 7:20 p.m. debating a bill to create an artist laureate position. Is this bill critically important to moving our country forward?

We know that the Prime Minister probably wants to call an election this summer. I just wanted to put on the record that, notwithstanding the importance we place on arts and culture, which are so important to society, I find it very odd that we are debating this matter today when the government is falsely accusing us of filibustering on all the other bills.

That said, I want everyone to have access to the arts. It is very important. Despite what some may think of us Conservatives, we are educated people, we travel and we visit cathedrals, monuments and museums. We are not totally stupid, far from it. However, we do not like being told that we are holding up critically important parliamentary business. With only 24 hours left in the parliamentary session, we are currently debating a bill to create an artist laureate position.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. There seems to be a bit of a sense of electoral urgency in the air, so let me just say that I have always appreciated the honour to be their representative, and I will always keep fighting for their interests. I am thankful also to my family, who allow me to continue that work.

If we hearken back just to the Government Business No. 9 debate when it originally opened up, we had the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment and me. I was interrupted part way through for the proceedings of this place. It happens all the time, so I do ask those watching at home to know I am continuing my speech. In essence, I was giving a litany of concerns raised by the committee process, which was hastened by the Liberals literally steamrolling through along with the NDP. It was a process where people who wrote in to the committee were not heard. There were no indigenous witnesses. In fact, even the Assembly of First Nations' brief along with over 70 other briefs were not translated and sent to the committee until after the period of amendment. This is something that has been raised by a number of people as being a concern, telling people they did not matter.

Returning back to my comments, I was speaking specifically about the need for different aspects to be included in the bill. I will just start where I left off.

What we wanted to do was to include in the assessment report a summary of the measures undertaken by the provincial governments to achieve the national emissions targets. Once again, that seems obvious. However, once again without any debate, the Liberals and the NDP rejected it. There were no reasons given. They just voted against it. Their changes would be to include only the key measures that the federal government was implementing together with the provinces. However, since the provinces will be doing many great things on their own, should there not at least be a record of them?

The Liberals truly believe that the provinces are subordinate to the federal government and that, unless something is done by Ottawa, it is not important. That is not what we believe. A Conservative government would work with the provinces to reach our climate objectives. We believe that the provinces are partners, not punching bags.

There is another problem that I am hearing a lot about, and that is how the big push towards transportation electrification is affecting our electric grid.

Now, I support electric vehicles. Our party included an electric vehicle mandate in our secure the environment plan. We are not against electric vehicles, but Canadians are questioning whether the grid can handle this change. That is why we proposed that the assessment report in the bill include an assessment of the grid's ability to deal with increased demand.

We cannot move forward if we do not have the full picture. This was another reasonable proposal that was rejected by the Liberals and the NDP. We persevered nevertheless.

A lot of concern about the bill, including from me earlier on, has been about the formation of the advisory group. A significant number of briefs, witness testimony and amendments from other parties were about this very topic. We came up with what we believed was a reasonable approach: Instead of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change appointing all 15 members, he would simply appoint six, then the Minister of Finance would appoint three, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry would appoint three and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations would appoint three.

This would allow a more whole-of-government approach and for different ministers to put forward the priorities from their ministries into the advisory body. Conservatives believed this was the best way to ensure a wide variety of voices, not a body that includes people devoted to destroying a way of life for many Canadians, yet, sadly, the Liberals and NDP rejected it. Why did I list all these changes and talk about why the Liberals and the NDP rejected them without even debating them? It is because I wanted to show how much of a farce this process was.

Everything I mentioned was thoughtful and reasonable. We did not come in with a “Liberals admit they are terrible and should resign” amendment designed to be defeated, no. We came in with good ideas that the Liberals and NDP refused to even debate or consider, all of this after the minister said he was willing to work with all parties. Yes, sure. It was not just the Conservatives affected by this bad-faith deal between the Liberals and the NDP. I have already mentioned how an identical Green Party amendment was defeated. By the end of the process, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands had started to withdraw her own amendments because it was clear the Liberal and NDP members were not even interested in listening.

The Bloc Québécois put forward many great amendments, not ones that Conservatives generally supported, but thoughtful and productive. The Liberals and the NDP opposed them all without debate, except for one at the very end and the NDP decided to support adding a five-year parliamentary review. No one could have watched that process in committee and not be sickened by what they saw. The Liberals and the NDP not only rejected any suggestion that was not their own, but a great deal of witness testimony to boot.

Indeed, the few amendments the Liberals proposed and supported did not do anything. Many were just spelling out that the minister must do things that the minister could already do. The biggest joke of them all was an amendment that the target of net zero by 2050 did not mean net zero could not be achieved earlier, which zero people thought was the case, yet before we were called just as bitter as the Liberals, we voted for a couple of government amendments we thought were good. We came in willing to work in good faith. Unfortunately, the government and the NDP did not.

What did the NDP get for seemingly selling out to the government and agreeing to be its coalition partner in all of this? It was not much, as it happens. Basically, every environmental witness and brief stated there needed to be a 2025 target in the bill, a milestone target. In fact New Democrats themselves said that over and over in debate on the bill, but did they get that by making a deal with the government? No. Instead, they got a 2026 interim objective, which is not actually a thing in the bill and only exists in the NDP amendments as a topic that must be reported on.

In the bill, targets have teeth. They must have plans and reports. The interim objective does nothing. That is what New Democrats got for their undying allegiance in this. They also say that they got the advisory group to be more independent. What that really means is they simply added the word “independent” to the name. Seriously, that is all they did, just added a word. The minister still appoints all of them and decides what they will do unilaterally, but the word is in the title, so it must be true. It would be funny seeing what little the NDP members gave up in exchange for their loyalty if it was not so sad.

I am sure the NDP member will rise after me and proclaim New Democrats made the bill better, that they got the Liberals to make these nothing changes and that means they are doing really good work. The reality is that the Liberal government pulled one over on the New Democrats, gave them almost nothing and got their dignity in return. They will have to answer to their friends in the environmental movement for this sellout. I expect some of those meetings will not be pleasant.

That is how we got to where we are. The Liberals and NDP rushed the process, refused to listen to witnesses or briefs, refused to debate anything and refused to consider any ideas not their own, and that is just disgraceful. While we, the Bloc and the Greens were trying to debate, trying to do the thing we have all been elected to do, the minister accused us of filibustering the bill.

There were over 150 amendments and they were moving through at less than 10 minutes each. We were not filibustering, we were asking questions and debating, the kind of thing one would expect to do at committee scrutiny. To the Liberals, I guess daring to ask questions is tantamount to heresy.

We saw what they did to Bill C-10, stopping debate and passing laws in secret. That is how they want this place to run: a rubber-stamp for their Liberal ideas. I reject that. My constituents sent me here to represent them and to try to make the country better, and yes, to debate.

Therefore, I did ask questions during debate, and it is not my fault the Liberals and NDP refused to. In the Liberal world, even asking questions is apparently now a filibuster, because how dare we question the member for Papineau, whose ideas are perfect as they are and should never be challenged no matter who someone is. Well, I will because that is what I was sent here to do. I will ask those questions.

Since I wrote my speech, we had a closure motion pass today. As I said, the process the government chose was to put forward a bill and let it drag along and drag along. I would have constituents ask about Bill C-12 and I would tell them the government just really has not decided to move it forward.

Suddenly Liberals get to the end of the session and they start remembering there is a bill they have to do. They rush it through committee, a process I have explained, as well as how difficult it was on the witnesses, and even for members. I am sure there are lots of things Liberals would have wanted to ask more questions on so they could do their job as backbenchers holding the government to account, but they could not. They agreed to a strategy and they stuck with the NDP faithfully.

Since then, this very night, the minister tried to say Liberals supported the Bloc Québécois in their parliamentary review. That was fundamentally out of synch with any sort of reality. It contradicts exactly the testimony we heard earlier. The closure motion did not just cut off debate for myself but for all members, including those backbench Liberal MPs who maybe thought their constituents deserved to see their members of Parliament in action, asking questions, showing up to debate and putting forward their own ideas.

Let us be mindful, the House leader actually called the Conservatives out for filibustering a bill. We were asking questions, and he had the gall to say that we were holding things up. In fact, the Minister of the Environment a week ago Wednesday, wrote to different parties and asked us to finish the bill, which we were almost finished anyway.

We finished it Wednesday night, waited to see what happened Thursday and nothing. Eventually, our chair for the environment tabled it Friday and then Liberals said that they wanted to debate it as early as Monday, so we expected it. Then we found out that Government Business No. 9 suddenly springs out of nowhere. It sounded like they did not even want to debate Bill C-12, they just wanted to have something on the Order Paper, maybe because they knew it would not be ready in time.

What I am saying is the Liberals are in control of the agenda. One of the few things the government largely still has control of is the agenda on this place. Despite all their talk about us filibustering, they did not bring the bill forward. In fact, we did not even debate debating the bill, as in this motion, Government Business No. 9, until yesterday, a full week and a half after the bill was tabled.

I hope I have impressed upon members tonight that the government has slowly tabled a bill that many witnesses did not support, and then decided to let it languish on the Order Paper. When the Liberals finally realized they had to get the engines hopping, they jammed it through with only six hours of debate. Then they jammed it through again at committee. Now they are jamming it through today, so that even Liberal members do not get the ability to hold their own government to account, let alone all other members in this place.

I am deeply dissatisfied with the government. Canadians should see that the Liberals, by their own actions, have used a process whereby Canadians do not feel heard and their representatives do not feel needed. This is a minority Parliament. No political party was given an absolute majority in deciding the views of all Canadians.

This is where we are supposed to debate ideas and to force compromise. Instead, the Liberals and the NDP have linked up and said that they do not need to hear from anyone else. During a minority, that is a shame. Shame on the government House leader and the Minister of Environment for doing so.

On this side of the House, we will call out what we see. On this side of the House, we will fight for ideas that help our environment and help us meet our targets on climate change, not simply talk about them and talk a good game. After an election, a Conservative government will do what is right on the environment and do right by Canadians.

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I must say that I really enjoyed working with him on the committee. As he mentioned in his speech, some committee members truly wanted to improve this bill.

However, it is completely wrong to claim, as the minister did, that the Liberals voted in favour of a Bloc Québécois amendment, that they at least gave the Bloc something and accommodated the opposition. The only reason a single one of the 30-some amendments we proposed was adopted is that the Conservatives voted with us on the amendment, and I thank them for that.

I would like to know what my colleague thought about what the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development did to improve this bill.

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I think it is important to say that the Liberals and the NDP rejected a lot of ideas. The Bloc Québécois, the Green Party and the Conservative Party proposed many improvements to Bill C‑12.

This bill was not perfect, no matter what the government believed. The opposition members from the Bloc, the Conservative Party and the Green Party are the ones who had a lot of positive ideas to protect the environment and to meaningfully address climate change.

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the comments by the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, and I find his protestations somewhat disingenuous. I was at those committee meetings. I watched the member vote against the principle of climate accountability at second reading and then, at committee, vote against clauses 3, 4, 5, 6, 6.1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19. It is like the member is saying that he agrees we need to get across the river, but then he votes against wading, votes against swimming, votes against bridges and votes against watercraft.

Is the member in support of climate accountability, and will he be voting in support of Bill C-12?

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank my fellow British Columbian. I know why he is so uptight and upset. My speech has revealed the true face of the NDP in this Parliament. It has enabled the Liberal government and its rhetoric instead of taking real action.

I was in favour of this bill very early on, to the surprise of the member and I am sure of many in his caucus. However, the minister worked in bad faith with us, and the member worked with the minister to basically push through a process that pushed Canadians and expertise out.

As he is pointing a finger at me, he should be mindful that when he points his finger at someone, three fingers are pointing back. That is why the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is upset. It is because he was part of a bad process and he enabled it.

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, it sounds like the committee process was a real sideshow.

I talked to the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, who has attended 13 COP conferences and has been involved in the climate change movement for decades now. She knows lots of scientists and is well-connected, and is probably more knowledgeable than any other member of this place. She made some really important suggestions, like getting in touch with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, where they have established legal precedents and worked with other countries on climate change, or with James Shaw, who is the Minister for Climate Change in New Zealand. He has implemented a series of detailed plans to combat climate change. She knows a long list of scientists. All of this was rebuffed.

What does the hon. member think about the accountability in this bill?

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is disappointed, and I know that the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands was extremely disappointed, not just with the product but with the process. When in government, no party will win everyone over, but for goodness' sake, we should at least have a clean process. More than anything, that is where members, like the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith and the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, can find some common cause to hold the Liberal government to account.

It is really sad when we see a minister so hell-bent on getting his way that he is willing to push aside even his own caucus members. That is not accountability. That is not how the system is supposed to work. I have heard the expression that with good people, a bad system can work, but unfortunately when we do not have the right people, even a good system will not work.

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. His constituency name is not as easy as Essex, but it is a heck of a great name.

The hon. member spoke of putting teeth into bills and teeth into reports, and of Conservatives fighting for great fresh ideas. Could the member give us an example of what he and Conservatives would have liked to see in the report and ultimately in the bill?

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am really pleased that the member for Essex listened to my speech. Had he listened to the whole thing, he probably never would have wanted to talk to me again. However, I will speak specifically to the one part of it.

The Conservatives believe in a whole-of-government approach. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach to climate change. That is the only way we are going to be able to do this. We need to work with the provinces. As I said, the provinces should be partners not punching bags, something the government continues to forget.

What did we want to see? Instead of the minister being the sole person to decide who is on the advisory board and the plans that go to cabinet being made on the recommendation of the minister, we wanted a whole-of-government approach. Instead of one person being responsible, multiple ministers should be. Then cabinet itself would be able to argue, break down the silos and come out with a united plan.

Climate change is very real. It is a challenge. If we cannot get the right governance structures in place and do not get rid of the silos of government and work with the provinces, we will get no further. We need all hands on deck for this, and the Liberal bill puts it all on one minister.

How can one minister change everything, unless it is the Prime Minister in that government? I do not know. These guys seem to think there is a way to do it. We will see how it works in reality.

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2021 / 7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have had the privilege of sitting on the environment committee with my colleague, and I did notice all of the collusion that happened between the NDP and the Liberals on this issue.

My question to him is simple. How will all of the collusion in the way the NDP has worked to support the Liberals be portrayed in the next election? Can Canadians trust NDP members to have their own thoughts, or are they just here to prop up the Liberal government?

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, we live in a democracy, so it is up to citizens to decide who will champion their cause. If we look at Bill C-10, for example, the Liberals have sided with the Bloc, the NDP and the Greens to jam a bill through that quite honestly most Canadians do not understand. When they find out that their right to freedom of expression, as laid out under subsection 2(b) of the charter, is at risk, they will not like it.

It is up to the NDP to decide: Are they here to carry water for the government, or are they here to stand up for their constituents? Unfortunately, in this case, they do not seem to be doing much of anything. If I were a constituent of the NDP and I asked what they got, they would say they got an interim objective assessment in 2026 that the official from the Department of Environment and Climate Change said does not amount to a lot.

The government does not stand up to scrutiny. When will the NDP?

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, as members will see, my speech has a few things in common with the speech by my colleague from Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.

I believe the Greens, the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois all experienced the same frustration during the committee's study. The Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of Bill C‑12 anyway, despite its flaws, because we agree with the net-zero by 2050 target set out in the Paris Agreement.

I do want to point out, however, that the government chose to delay putting Bill C‑12 on the House's agenda for more than four months. It took pressure from environmental groups for the government to finally introduce it in the House.

It was introduced in November, and the Minister of the Environment announced the formation of his advisory body in December, before we had even discussed it in committee. In April, the Prime Minister declared his climate ambitions to President Biden, setting targets for a 40% to 45% reduction by 2030. It was not until mid-May that Bill C-12 was finally referred to the committee, with only a few weeks left in the parliamentary session. In our view, the government's calculation is clear: little time to hear witnesses, little time to read correspondence or the many briefs submitted to the committee and, lastly, a rushed and truncated clause-by-clause process whose outcome was, as some committee members put it, a foregone conclusion.

The government has run roughshod over important parts of the legislative process by imposing this agenda and the resulting delays. I am not alone in drawing these conclusions. Since urgent action is needed, we are now dealing with Government Business No. 9. The real emergency is the climate emergency. We were hopeful that the parties that had been clamouring for strong, robust climate legislation that provides transparency and accountability and is guided by science would deliver. I can say right now that the result has been disappointing.

For its part, the government, through the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, explicitly said that targets were going to be included in the bill. It did so twice: once in the House and once in committee. At the May 17 meeting, at 2:51 p.m., the minister confirmed the following to my colleague from Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia: “Yes, the new target range of 40% to 45% that we have announced as a goal for 2030 will be a requirement of the act.”

The two ministers, namely the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of the Environment, lied: no numerical target ended up being included. We worked quickly, and we have had to pick up the pace because of the timeline I mentioned earlier. However, we did listen to what various experts had to say and heard their advice on what key elements were required to come up with an ambitious climate bill.

Even more importantly, given Canada's record on greenhouse gas emissions and its dismal past failures, it was important for us to establish a road map for a bill that would enable Canada to honour its international commitments under the Paris Agreement, or in other words, legislation that would provide Quebeckers and Canadians with a demonstrably viable path toward net-zero emissions, a green and fair transition and a future for our young people. That is what this is about. It is about the life we want for future generations in our communities.

We were given excellent advice, but the government, with the calculated and negotiated support of the NDP, failed to deliver the basics of what was required, despite the science and what it tells us, despite what we have been told over the years by experts from almost every sector of the economy, including those from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency, despite the fact that time is of the essence and that we cannot take small steps when leaps and bounds are required, and despite the 33 robust amendments presented by the Bloc Québécois, which were all systematically rejected except for one.

I will not use my time to talk about everything that happened at committee because my colleague already covered that thoroughly, but I would like to talk about the other committee, the one the Minister of Environment and Climate Change created in December. Since December, the government has given that committee a hodgepodge of different names, as my colleagues will see.

The committee started out as an expert advisory panel, which was not bad. It was a good start, but then things went downhill. Next it was known as the independent advisory body, the departmental net-zero panel and the net-zero advisory panel. If my colleagues find that confusing, they are right.

Everything to do with the organization of what Bill C‑12 now calls the “net-zero advisory body” is crucial to Canada's ability to say it has a meaningful climate act, not just to the governing party's ability to call an election and say it has this great climate legislation and everyone should vote for that party.

The advisory body, its composition, its mandate, its responsibilities and powers, its operation and its resources are all elements that the Bloc Québécois tried to clarify with the sole aim of finding in this bill what it was supposed to promote: government transparency and accountability in dealing with the climate emergency. The things I just mentioned were largely left out of the original version of Bill C-12.

In its amended version the NDP simply added the word “independent” to the name of the body. However, getting independent advice and having an independent body are not at all the same thing. By refusing the amendments we proposed, the NDP's minor qualification is unfortunately merely cosmetic and has no real legal scope. The departmental expert who appeared at our meeting confirmed this unequivocally.

Climatologist Corinne Le Quéré appeared before the committee. She is the chair of France's High Council on Climate and a member of the Committee on Climate Change in the United Kingdom. She has participated in several studies conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, so she has extensive knowledge and expertise. She said, and I quote:

…the current design of the legislation makes the advisory group too close to the minister, and the independence isn't quite visible enough. It must be at arm's length. The distance isn't very visible.

Let us now talk about consultations. We want thorough consultations to take place with different sectors of the economy and with government actors, all with respect for Quebec, the provinces, indigenous peoples and civil society, it goes without saying. However, the consultations must be guided by the people who have the expertise and scientific knowledge on climate change, and not the opposite.

When I listen to science, I am not listening to a multitude of positions and propositions coming from all over the place, to interests that are sometimes reconcilable, sometimes divergent. People are best placed to draw up a plan for us when they are independent, either as individuals or as a body, when they consult others, accept positions and propositions and analyze them in light of the demands of the climate crisis and the solutions that scientific expertise has to offer.

I will mention an amendment that the NDP will try to get a lot of mileage out of, I am sure. It is the one that requires the minister's first plan to include an objective for 2026. My colleagues should make no mistake: The expert who was present at the study confirmed that an objective is not the same thing as a target. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley will tell us that his negotiated amendment is essentially a surrender. He said, and I quote:

There is other wording I would have preferred as well, but this exercise is about building enough agreement to get these changes through the committee, and that was the language that was agreed to that we feel will gain agreement from the majority of the committee members. I think the term “objective” is clear enough for most people to understand…That's certainly my understanding. My hope would be that the government would understand it similarly.

I wish him good luck with that, because hope is not a management tool for dealing with a climate crisis. I think it is good to remind our NDP colleagues of that fact.

The weekend after the first meetings for the clause-by-clause study of the bill, my office voice mail was bombarded by concerned citizens from places like Kingston, Victoria and Sudbury, who had watched the committee proceedings and wanted to express their severe disappointment as NDP supporters. Concerning the environmental file, two people went so far as to say that “the Bloc Québécois is the only real opposition left in Ottawa”. I am not making that up.

Will Canada impose an impossible task on future generations by making this accountability mere window dressing? The government must be accountable now, not in six months or a year.

The Bloc Québécois is a party with integrity that followed through on its convictions. We kept our word on the issue of climate accountability for the common good, for more transparency, for greater democracy, for more rigour and for more results.

We proposed a target of 37.5% below 1990 levels, the baseline year used by Quebec and the 27 EU countries. Canada decided to use 2005 as the baseline year, thus writing off 15 years of pollution.

We are facing a race that we cannot drop out of, but all we have is sneakers with no laces. I am worried about that. Everyone in Quebec and Canada should be worried, too. We were unable to see the process through to the end because of how the government, with the NDP as its ally, conducted this important debate.

We could wait until fall to put Bill C-12 to a vote. After all, the government waited six months to introduce it in the House and then refer it to committee. Instead of calling an election this summer, why not continue our work and wait until the fall to debate the bill and do an outstanding job of perfecting it? This will not happen, however, because the government would rather stand up in front of voters and show them how great it is.

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 8 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of Motion No. 9 under government business now before the House.

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.

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would request a recorded division.

Government Business No. 9—Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability ActGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #177