Madam Speaker, every so often, when we bring in legislation, there are some surprises.
Yesterday, it was quite encouraging when we brought in Bill C-48 on the bail reform issue and we saw parties come together to recognize the value of the legislation and understand and appreciate how important it was to get it passed.
In fact, later yesterday, after a few hours of debate, a Conservative member suggested that we go ahead with unanimous consent and pass it through the system.
That was a bit of a surprise. I was quite pleased about it. I thought it surprised a number of people. It was quite encouraging because it shows that, if the House recognizes something of great value, collectively, where we have all parties onside, we can accomplish things very quickly inside the House.
I look at Bill C-49, which we are debating today. I am not from Atlantic Canada, as we all know, but I understand the importance of regional development. The Atlantic accord is of critical importance to Atlantic Canada, to two provinces in particular, Newfoundland and Labrador, along with Nova Scotia.
We understand and appreciate all of the efforts. I have had a number of Conservatives stand up and ask why it took so long to bring it before the House. It is not like one can snap one's heels together, wave a wand and make legislation appear. There is a lot of work that is done prior to bringing the legislation forward. There is a timing issue. There is a great deal of consultation that takes place.
As for my quick readthrough, in terms of the legislation, and the passion that I have seen from my Atlantic colleagues in dealing with this legislation, and they are a passionate caucus, as we know, this is good solid legislation that should be supported.
What surprises me today with Bill C-49 is that it is one thing to say one does not want to pass it today. It is another thing to come out saying one opposes the legislation. That is what we are hearing from the Conservative Party today.
The Conservative Party of Canada does not support the principles of this legislation. This is legislation that has the support of every other political entity, from what I understand, inside the House. It also has the support of provincial jurisdictions of different political stripes. We have heard member of Parliament after member of Parliament, at least from some opposition benches and the government benches, talking about how important this legislation is.
Even the Minister of Labour and Seniors came forward, in a very passionate speech. He was not the only member of the caucus who spoke passionately about the importance of this legislation to their respective provinces.
Renewable energy is so critically important when we talk about economic development into the future. I know that first-hand from being a parliamentarian for over 30 years, first as an MLA in Manitoba, and the impact that Manitoba Hydro has had on the residents of Manitoba, to the benefits of Canada as a nation.
It is a renewable energy. It is one of the reasons why, and I do not know if it still is today, and if not, it would be very close, the cheapest energy price in North America, in terms of electrical rates, is in Manitoba. It now might be two or three. I know that when I was a MLA, for a long period of time it was number one, the cheapest rate.
I can tell members that here is an opportunity. When we talk about Canada reaching its climate targets and looking at offshore renewable energy projects, one can very easily get excited to think of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and other coastal communities, because the opportunities are great.
However, I do not understand why, in looking at the legislation, the Conservative Party of Canada wants to say “no” to Atlantic Canada. It makes no sense whatsoever. When I listen to the energy that is coming from the government benches, which is being driven by my Atlantic colleagues, like the member for Avalon talking about how important this legislation is, there seems to be a disconnect with the Conservative Party.
It was interesting when the member for Avalon posed a question earlier to a Conservative member asking why he did not support the bill. The Conservative member stood up and said that the it is the principle of the legislation and that it is about the carbon tax. Really? I do not think that a number of the Conservative speakers who have stood up really understand what the legislation would do, as they were trying to rope in the issue of a price on pollution and, as that one member implied, base an opinion on a price on pollution to not support the bill. It seems to me that they are being somewhat misguided. I have not heard from any Conservative member, and I have been here all day listening to member after member speak on the legislation, specifically why this legislation cannot be passed.
We had the former Conservative member stand up and speak for 20 minutes about, based on the past, we are going to see time allocation and that we are going to see some opposition parties working with the government in order to get the bill time-allocated in order to pass. Well, I can assure the Conservative Party that there will be time allocation on this bill if the Conservatives are going to filibuster it, because we on the government side see the value of this legislation to Atlantic Canada and to Canada as a whole, which is the reason we will fight tooth and nail to ensure that we see this type of regional economic development take place. If that means working with New Democrat and Bloc members in order to ensure we get time allocation so that we can get legislation passed, I am game for that.
We recognize that we are talking about our environment. We are talking about future jobs and opportunities. I want to see Newfoundland and Labrador continue to be a “have” province. I want to see the prosperity of all regions of our country. I recognize the value of renewable energy, because of the example of Manitoba Hydro. I see where government does play an important role. What I do not see is why the Conservative Party would take an issue such as this and deny two provinces the opportunity where there was an agreement.
After this legislation passes, with the support of at least some opposition parties, and it will pass, it will receive mirror legislation from provincial legislatures in order to enact and make sure that it turns into a reality so that the people who live in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia will have wonderful renewable energy resources being developed and opportunities well into the future.