Mr. Speaker, I move that the 26th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, presented to the House on Tuesday, February 14, be concurred in.
To start, I want to say that I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague, the member for Battle River—Crowfoot.
Before I begin, I want to mention that this week is the birthday of the member's predecessor, the wonderful Kevin Sorenson. It was his 65th birthday.
Since Mr. Sorenson and I used to fly together a lot, I had the pleasure of enjoying a birthday with Kevin one night. We were flying back to Edmonton, we landed and we went to our cars. I got into an Uber to go home and Kevin went to pick up his car from the outdoor lot. It turned out that, although it was a brand new car, it would not start. He thought, “crap, it is my birthday”, and so he went back to the airport to rent a car. He handed over his credit card and driver's licence, but it turned out his licence had expired about five minutes earlier, because we were five minutes in. So, poor Kevin, not only on his birthday did he have to spend it with me on a plane, but his car would not start, he could not get a rental car and he had to catch a cab all the way home to Battle River—Crowfoot.
I am pleased to be talking today regarding the study in question. Actually, Kevin, at the time I first started doing some work on public accounts, was the chair of the committee. However, the greening government report that we are chatting about today is actually perfect timing for a lot of reasons, and I will comment on some of the timing as I go. One of the reasons this is great timing is because in public accounts we are actually studying the green hydro sham. I call it a sham, because there are various issues that come up about the government's actions, and I will cover them later in my talk.
On the greening government report, I will give a couple of points to give some background.
Treasury Board launched the greening government strategy back in 2017 with the ultimate goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. I will comment from the Auditor General's report, which says that “The Government of Canada has indicated that it is committed to leading by example in both the domestic and global transition to a low‑carbon economy.” Again, I get back to the great timing, because we just heard from the environment commissioner commenting that the government has not once yet achieved a single one of its environmental goals. Yet, we have here the public accounts committee looking at a report stating that the government's goal was to be a domestic and global leader and transition to a lower-carbon economy, but failed.
It is an interesting comment from the Auditor General that said that the federal government is responsible for 3% of all GHG emissions, which is larger than any single corporation or company in Canada. One would think that this government would actually work to reduce its own GHG emissions instead of driving out of business so many companies across Canada. Instead, we see its goal is to reduce GHG by eliminating revenue-producing companies, especially in Alberta, but at the same time growing its own emissions.
From the findings of this report, the Auditor General comments that “5 years into the strategy, the [Treasury Board] secretariat’s efforts to reduce emissions were not as complete as they could have been—especially considering...[their statement that they were going to be a] global leader in transitioning”. So here we have the Auditor General pointing out that the government is all talk and no action on this issue.
Further into the report there is the comment, “We found that the overall reported results from Crown corporations were neither included on the secretariat’s website nor aggregated”. Why is this important? Again, I talked about timing and the government. Treasury Board does not cover Crown corporations.
We, of course, have the green scam going on right now with the SDTC where we have a $1-billion Liberal green slush fund and where we know millions have been diverted to companies without any oversight. Here we have the Auditor General herself commenting that the Treasury Board has provided no oversight on these programs with Crown corporations.
The Auditor General continues to argue that the Treasury Board Secretariat of the government also left an important context out of its reporting, such as “an overview of...government's key sources of emissions”; “key activities undertaken by the secretariat”; “opportunities, risks, and related mitigation measures likely to affect the government’s ability to implement the strategy over the remaining 28 years”; and “information about how the strategy supported the United Nations 2030 Agenda.”
Liberals did not know what they were doing, they did not know what they were going to achieve, they did not know how they were going to achieve it and they did not know when they were going to achieve it. That pretty much sums up the government in a lot of areas, but especially on the green front.
The Auditor General also concluded, “we found that the Greening Government Strategy did not contain sufficient detail about some important commitments. Additional information would give parliamentarians and Canadians a clearer picture of what is to be accomplished, including the government’s plans [how] to transition”. It is very clear that throughout this report it says there was a lack of transparency in the government's reporting.
Then the Auditor General finished up commenting on limited risk management. This is important because at this time in the ethics committee and others, we are talking about the $1-billion slush fund, with no oversight and no risk of management on the government's programs for spending. She stated, “We also found that the secretariat did not identify how it would consult departments on their risks in order to come up with a more comprehensive, accurate list of these.... We found that only 8 of 27 departments had created emission reduction plans for...” government programs, and that was all.
I want to talk about the SDTC. It is important because the Auditor General has made it clear that Treasury Board, which is responsible for oversight, has not provided oversight. It failed on the oversight of Crown corporations, which the SDTC is, and did not provide risk management or risk mitigation.
There is a comment in the SDTC mission statement that says their “investments translate to economic and environmental benefits.” We heard earlier that the environment commissioner stated the Liberals have not achieved one target in their environmental plans. I have to disagree. The Liberals have achieved one plan, and that is stuffing taxpayers' money into connected Liberals' pockets through the SDTC. We have looked up donations from the directors of the SDTC. Tens of thousands of dollars have flown into the Liberal government's coffers and, at the same time, millions are going out the door that are unaccounted for.
The SDTC also said, “We help Canadian companies develop and deploy sustainable technologies by delivering critical funding”.
The SDTC mission statement further stated, “committed to full transparency”. That is very similar to the government saying “open by default”. Both are not true. We have had to fight in committee to get information.
I will read a couple of comments from the whistle-blower on the SDTC about some of the money that was wasted, “There's a lot of sloppiness and laziness. There is some outright incompetence and, you know, the situation is just kind of untenable at this point.” It seems very similar to the $54-million ArriveCAN scandal, but I think this is going to be much larger.
The whistle-blower went on to say, “The minister is going to flip out when he hears the stuff and he's going to want an extreme reaction, like shut it all down.” I will note that the minister found out in March and here we are in November before we have seen some action by the government. “It's unlikely that certain members of the board”, we will remember the board that funnelled tens of thousands of donations into the Liberal coffers, “or the entire board, and executives are going to be able to continue to serve. Like they've kind of lost the confidence. So really, the discussion will be the mechanisms for getting them out.” It continues, “...pretty well prepared to talk him off the ledge. Like minister, '[That's a] bad idea, we've got other ideas'.”
We have the Auditor General's report on the greening government strategy very clearly laying out problems. Back in 2022, a year ago, we knew there were problems with Crown corporations. In March, whistle-blowers came forward about the waste of taxpayers' money. Now it is November and we still have not seen action. It is very clear that Canadians cannot afford the costly government after eight years and, after eight years, it is very clear the environment cannot afford the government either.