Mr. Speaker, I am so used to dealing with questions that I forgot that it was time for my speech. Thank you for the opportunity to give my speech.
However, I think what I just said is still relevant to any speech. Maybe my colleague could answer that question at another time.
Anyway, we are discussing Bill S‑222. The “S” means that the bill originated in the Senate. Unelected representatives are making a contribution to the debate by introducing the bill that is before us. Quebec got rid of its version of the Senate. Eventually, at the federal level, some thought will need to be given to what to do with the Senate, with this group of people who do not represent the population, but who are simply appointed by the sitting Prime Minister. The very concept is hard to explain.
Let me get back to Bill S‑222, which seeks to ensure that the government considers the benefits of wood in developing its requirements before launching calls for tender. That is not a bad thing. It is actually a good thing, because it means that there is a willingness to do more for wood construction. We cannot be against that. That is why the Bloc Québécois intends to support Bill S‑222.
However, we think that this bill lacks ambition. It could have gone further. It could have pushed harder. That said, that may be just what Bill S‑222 and its sponsor intended, namely to do something that is not overly ambitious and that does not go too far so that it can get the approval of the government, which itself does not have much ambition for wood or the forest industry in Quebec. Maybe the sponsor thought that a bill that does not go too far would stand a better chance of being supported by the Liberals.
That is too bad, because we in the Bloc Québécois have raised this issue in the past. In 2010, Bill C‑249 was tabled by Gérard Asselin, the former member for Manicouagan, a heavily forested riding. He was keenly aware of the reality and needs of the forest industry and the need to look to the future on this issue. In 2014, the Bloc Québécois tried again with Bill C‑574, tabled by Claude Patry, the former member for Jonquière—Alma. He had initially been elected as an NDP member, but he came to realize that that party did not represent Quebec, so he decided to join the Bloc Québécois. I should note that Jonquière—Alma is also a heavily forested region.
Those two MPs understood Quebec, its needs and the importance of pushing harder for wood construction. The big difference between Bill S‑222 and the Bloc Québécois bills is the use of different terms to promote wood construction. The Bloc bills speak of “giv[ing] preference to” the use of wood, whereas Bill S‑222 speaks of “consider[ing]” wood's comparative advantages. Of course, “considering” is fine, but “giving preference to” is just that much stronger.
That is what we would have liked to see in this bill, and we will be pushing for it if the bill returns to the House for third reading. We are very hopeful that this bill will get unanimous support in the House. There is hope that will happen. I have yet to hear from all my colleagues on that point, but it would be an encouraging sign for Quebec's forestry industry, which, unfortunately, does not receive sufficient support from the federal government.
It seems like the federal government in Ottawa only has eyes for oil. Whenever oil comes up, dollar signs are not far away. The oil industry gets cheques and subsidies to the tune of billions of dollars. However, when it comes to the forestry industry, it is a whole other story. The government finds it really tough to provide the support that Quebec's forestry industry needs. Often, it gives our forestry industry peanuts, while sending hundreds of millions of dollars across the country, with a bit going to British Columbia and a bit going to eastern Canada.
One year, I thought I was hallucinating, because I read that it was offering financial assistance to deal with spruce budworm. I thought it was great that the government was announcing financial assistance for that in its budget, but then I realized it was only for eastern Canada and British Columbia. There was not a cent for Quebec. It was as if there were no forests in Quebec, as if Quebec's forestry industry did not exist.
That basically shows us what this government's priority is, that is, everything but Quebec. That about sums it up. Quebec is more advanced than Canada when it comes to wood. Of course, we welcome and support Canadian initiatives like this bill, but Quebec already has its own policy for incorporating wood into construction. It is a useful policy that perhaps the Canadian government should learn from. The aim of the policy is to ensure that wood is systematically incorporated into all new buildings whenever possible.
Why should wood be used in construction? I think that it is an essential element, a crucial element. In fact, the Quebec Construction Code was actually amended in 2010 and 2015 to allow the construction of six-storey wooden buildings. Today, the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, Quebec's building authority, even allows for buildings with up to 12 floors under certain conditions. A specific application must be submitted, and it must demonstrate that this would be feasible and that it would be done safely. In short, builders can construct wooden buildings up to 12 stories tall. That is significant.
What we know is that about 80% of all commercial, industrial and institutional buildings could be built of wood. Almost everything could be built of wood. We know that residential wood construction is already quite strong. In that respect, not much promotion is needed even though, at times, construction that could be done in wood is not.
For Quebec, forests are more than trees. They are much more than that. In fact, they are part of our identity, part of who we are. They are part of our territory, of our history. They are part of the collective imagination in Quebec.
For hundreds of years, as we know, the fabled settlers were farmers in the summer and lumberjacks in the winter. In our collective imagination, the forest is inseparable from Quebec's identity. In a way, it goes much further than the famous two-by-four. Two-by-fours are interesting because they symbolize construction itself, but much more can be done. In the past, there was the craze surrounding newsprint, which was the main wood product for a long time. Today, that needs to be rethought and other stronger and more relevant products need to be found going forward.
The forest in Quebec is our past and our present, but it is also our future. Unfortunately, it is being neglected. I repeat: it is being neglected by the Canadian government, the federal government, for whom it is not a priority. Its priority is oil, and that shows in the investments.
Obviously, in Quebec, we are proud of our forests and we would like to be able to promote them more. Today, there is more and more talk about buying local and short distribution channels, for example. That is precisely it. Wood is taken from Quebec and is used in construction in Quebec. Is that not incredible? Jobs are created in the regions of Quebec with that wood. Is that not incredible? That is all our regions are asking for: the ability to develop our forests.
Unlike oil, wood is a renewable resource. The use of wood is environmentally friendly. When construction uses steel or concrete, for example, what happens? Greenhouse gases are emitted. When construction uses wood, the carbon is captured. The opposite happens. In fact, it is much better. It is magical in a way.
It is far more magical than those facilities receiving millions, not to say billions, of dollars in subsidies from the federal government for carbon capture and sequestration. We do not know whether it has been scientifically proven or whether anything will come of it. We know that there is one thing that works: timber construction. Why not take that direction? One cubic metre of wood captures one tonne of CO2, which is a pretty big amount.
While Canada is pumping billions of dollars into oil, I encourage everyone to support our timber industry for a strong Quebec, a green Quebec, a Quebec that is proud of its forests, that does not neglect them, that takes care of them and that takes care of the planet.
I hope that the House will pass Bill S-222. The government has been taking a hands-off approach, in particular by allowing Resolute Forest Products to be bought out by Chinese interests. It needs to adopt a policy that will allow us to take care of our forests and promote our products, and it needs to invest the money needed to make that work.