Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Kings—Hants this morning.
At two in the morning on July 22 of this year, Tera Sisco heard an emergency alert on the first responder scanner at her workplace. A flash flood was barrelling through Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, where Chris Sisco and Chris and Tera's six-year-old son were sleeping. Worried, she called Chris, who woke to find the apartment filling with water. He told Tera they were going to get in their Ford F-550 and evacuate.
Chris and their son, along with neighbours Nick and Courtney Harnish and their two children, got into the massive truck. However, even at four tonnes, it was no match for the flood’s current; soon the truck was drifting away, filling with water and sinking. The next update Tera received came over the scanner once again: word that there was a child in the water.
On July 21 and 22, thunderstorms dumped 250 millimetres, or 10 inches, of rain on Nova Scotia. It was the heaviest rainfall in 50 years, amounting to three months' worth of typical rainfall in just 24 hours. Tragically, four Nova Scotians died in those floods, including the two children in that Ford F-550: Colton Sisco and Natalie Harnish, both six years old.
Nick Holland, 52, and Terri-Lynn Keddy, 14, also perished. I know that all members in this House join me in mourning this terrible loss and extending our condolences to their families and loved ones, whose grief must be simply unimaginable.
In an interview with the Canadian Press not long after burying her six-year-old son, Tera Sisco recounted to reporter Michael Tutton the story I just shared. I would like to read a quote from Tera in that piece. She said, “Governments aren’t moving quickly enough to prepare for climate change, and Canadians are now seeing avoidable climate disaster deaths”. She continued, “These climate events are historic, and my little boy is part of that history now.” I hope her words are heard loud and clear here in this chamber.
This year, Atlantic Canada has seen the devastating impact of unrelenting climate disasters. A year ago this week, hurricane Fiona, the strongest storm in Canadian history, swept through Atlantic Canada. In just one small community alone, Port aux Basques, 20 homes were destroyed, displacing 200 people. A Nova Scotian, a Prince Edward Islander and a Newfoundlander died in that hurricane.
This past summer, wildfires raged through the Halifax area, destroying 150 homes and causing 16,000 Haligonians to evacuate. Many were without a home to return to after the fires. I am sharing these stories to illustrate the human impacts of climate change. The climate crisis is here. It is ravaging communities in each of our ridings, and it is getting worse by the month and by the year.
Canadians are looking to us to act and to protect them from the most devastating impacts of extreme weather events caused by climate change. We have an immediate responsibility to adapt our infrastructure to this new reality, especially in coastal communities such as those in Atlantic Canada, and to mitigate the worst, most unbearable impacts of climate change caused by fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course, there is no mystery as to why these disasters are happening. We have known for decades that climate change is caused by releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and that the only way to mitigate climate change is to stop releasing greenhouse gases by transitioning to cleaner, renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, tidal, green hydrogen and others.
In Nova Scotia, we are particularly vulnerable to unmitigated climate change. We have 7,400 kilometres of coastline, and we are surrounded almost entirely by water. We have the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Gulf of Maine to the south, the Bay of Fundy to the west, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the north.
In fact, we are connected to the rest of Canada only by a 21-kilometre-wide land bridge known as the Chignecto Isthmus, which is mostly a marshland that is barely above sea level. It is extraordinarily vulnerable to sea level rise, storm surge and hurricane damage and becomes more vulnerable every year.
While our identity and our livelihoods have been sustained for generations by our proximity to the sea, the sea has increasingly become a threat because of extreme weather events and sea level rise caused by climate change. However, here is the thing: Our proximity to the ocean also grants us a fighting chance to protect ourselves and future generations from the very worst effects of climate change, and that is the immense potential of offshore renewable energy.
This is the context in which the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources introduced Bill C-49 in the House today. Bill C-49 proposes to amend the mandates of the historic Atlantic accords in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador to accelerate offshore wind development off of Atlantic Canada's east coast. Since the Atlantic accords were signed in the mid-1980s, they have become vitally important for the economic prosperity of our two provinces. Moreover, they have provided a framework between Canada and Nova Scotia and between Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador that has allowed each province to receive a significant share of revenues generated from offshore oil production.
However, times are changing. As we make our necessary transition from oil to a low-carbon future, and in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, Canada and the world are looking for new forms of renewable energy. Therefore, for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to continue to benefit from the Atlantic accords in this new context, the Atlantic accords, too, must change and evolve. This change is good and necessary. It has been a long time coming, and it brings with it an incredible opportunity for our region and for our people.
Bill C-49 would expand the mandates of offshore boards that, today, regulate offshore oil and gas projects to now include the regulation of offshore renewable energy, for example, wind. We do this because, for major offshore projects to proceed, the government must provide a stable, predictable and credible legislative framework and regulatory regime. This is exactly what we are doing in Bill C-49. In introducing these amendments, we are unlocking the enormous potential of offshore renewable energy development for generations to come. As has been expressed by Canada's industry association, Marine Renewables, in its support for this bill, we are building an industry that reflects Canada's values and builds a sustainable blue economy.
Last year, my province of Nova Scotia established an offshore wind target. Seabed leases will produce up to five gigawatts of offshore energy by 2030. This was an incredibly exciting move that garnered a great deal of excitement from the renewable-energy industry around the world. Bill C-49, as we have heard, is supported by our provincial partners in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the obvious next step in ensuring that we meet that opportunity.
Let us be specific about what that opportunity is. It is a trillion dollars. That is the potential economic opportunity of offshore wind globally. We should make no mistake: Atlantic Canada is in that global race. Europe is already knocking at our door for clean energy options. The changes in Bill C-49 would allow us to create further products, such as green hydrogen. We can then ship them to our European allies, such as Germany. The German chancellor came to Newfoundland last summer to show his country's interest in Atlantic Canada's clean energy potential. Chancellor Scholz is not alone. When I recently met with Ukraine's ambassador to Canada, Yulia Kovaliv, the first thing she wanted to talk about was how soon we can start exporting green hydrogen from Nova Scotia to Europe to get off of Putin's gas.
Let us not forget the immense private sector interest in cleaner forms of energy development. Officials at the Port of Halifax are in advanced talks about decarbonizing their port. I have been involved in many conversations with offshore shipping organizations to figure out how to decarbonize the marine transportation sector as well.
This kind of job creation is exactly what we mean when we talk about the sustainable jobs of tomorrow. These renewable energy projects are creating well-paying jobs for generations of Canadians to come. I mentioned earlier that our proximity to the ocean has shaped who we are as Atlantic Canadians and provided a livelihood to communities along our coastline. Bill C-49, by unlocking the promise of offshore wind energy, would provide a limitless new opportunity for Atlantic Canadian workers to earn a livelihood and to grow our regional economy, all while providing us with a fighting chance against the threat of unmitigated climate change.
If this bill does not pass, offshore renewable energy projects in Atlantic Canada will be stalled for years to come. Therefore, to the official opposition's energy critic, who signalled earlier in this debate that she is not supportive of this bill, I will say this: She and Premier Smith can own the stalled emissions reductions, the ecological devastation, the human impact and the unrealized job creation that comes with cancelling renewable energy projects in Alberta. However, she may want to chat with Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative premier, Tim Houston, who is in full support of Bill C-49 and wants it passed as quickly as possible.
This government is unswerving in the fight against climate change, and we stand with the offshore renewables industry in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador. For our workers, our communities and our future, I urge all members to support this historic bill.