House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was national.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Don Valley West (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Environment April 24th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, last fall the Environment Commissioner reported that Canada can reach 21% of its Kyoto targets each year annually through a domestic offset and trading system, but the government's own Kyoto report last week announced that it would never allow such a system to be used.

Between Chicken Little's report and his refusal to be clear about Bill C-30, one thing has become clear. The government is doing everything it can to do nothing about global warming.

We all know now what the Conservatives will not do, so can the minister finally tell us what percentage of Kyoto he is willing to--

The Environment April 24th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment's apocalyptic report is deeply flawed. But how can we win the fight of our generation if our hands are tied? Bill C-30, as amended by the committee, enables Canadians to use all the tools available to them under the Kyoto protocol.

Why can the minister not decide whether he will bring the bill to a vote? When will he make up his mind?

Business of Supply April 24th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, there are two responses to that question.

The first, of course, is that the last environment minister in the last Liberal government brought forward project green. As I have just explained to my colleague from the NDP, there were absolute regulations for heavy industry and thus for half of the emissions produced in this country. We also addressed the auto sector. In fact, there was a plan and we were bringing it in until it was upset by electoral events.

I was fascinated to hear one thing the hon. member said, which was that he supports the motion. The motion is quite precise about the government setting fixed greenhouse gas emission targets and--

Business of Supply April 24th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am afraid the hon. member is mixing up two things.

There was a voluntary agreement with the auto sector, something, by the way, that was supported by organized labour in the form of the Canadian Auto Workers. There was not a voluntary agreement for the large final emitters, that is, the three major industrial groups that produce 50% of the greenhouse emissions in this country: heavy industrial users, upstream oil and gas, and electrical users. The system was not voluntary for them. It was to be regulated and targets were set.

He is confusing two different aspects of project green.

Business of Supply April 24th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support the motion of the Bloc Québécois which really has two elements in it. It first talks about the importance of fixed targets, a regulated system for Canada's greenhouse gases; and second, that it has to be a precondition for the establishment of a carbon market in Montreal or indeed anywhere else in Canada.

I would like today to focus on the carbon market aspect of this and I think there are 13 important lessons when it comes to carbon markets.

Lesson number one is that a carbon market, in and of itself, does not lower emissions. To be real, somebody somewhere has to be undertaking activity, whether it is industrial or agricultural, that actually demonstrably lowers greenhouse gas emissions. This is why we keep asking the minister and his parliamentary secretary for the government to show its plan, so that we can get on with establishing a carbon market.

Lesson number two for the minister is that we cannot have a carbon market if carbon emissions are treated as free if the atmosphere is treated as a waste receptacle. If emissions are free, there is nothing to trade and that is why the Liberal Party put forward its carbon budget plan to put a value on CO2 emissions. That was further demonstrated in Bill C-30, which was amended to reflect a true climate change plan and a true clean air act.

Lesson number three follows, therefore, that to have a carbon market carbon has to have a precise value or price. It has to be determined by the market and in order for that to happen emissions have to be capped by regulation and, hence, targets. That is why our carbon budget plan said that the price of carbon for those who exceeded their budget would be $20 in 2008, rising to $30 in 2012. That is what it means to put a value on carbon.

Lesson number four, which follows, is that caps on emissions have to be absolute, not intensity based. I am told that it is theoretically possible to have a market with intensity based targets, but it will likely be more complex and not fungible or compatible with systems like that which have been set up in the European Union.

This is why the Bloc motion is so important. This motion puts the emphasis on absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets so as to meet the Kyoto targets.

Targets have to be tough and get tougher to create a sufficient price signal to provide incentive for the formation of a market.

We will see how tough these targets really are next Thursday, if I understood correctly, when the government's intentions will be made known.

Lesson number five is that a carbon trading market needs to be simple, completely transparent and liquid. It cannot be complex. It cannot be an over the counter system where only big players can understand it and participate. It has to be accessible and fair to smaller companies and to individual investors.

Lesson number six deals with quality. Credit certification must be of top quality, of top environmental transparency and integrity.

Lesson number seven is additionality. We cannot give credit for carbon reducing activities that would have happened anyway.

Lesson number eight is that for maximum efficiency a domestic carbon trading market has to be compatible or interconvertible with the North American market, such as the Chicago exchange, and ultimately with Europe and with the United Nations clean development mechanism. That again is why we need absolute targets to establish an absolute price.

Lesson number nine is that, as with any market, we need to give this new derivative market time to work out the bugs, to establish investor confidence and to build credibility. Both the European system and the United Nations clean development mechanism have gone through a pilot period project where mistakes were made and the learning from those mistakes was used to improve the system. Perfection is not automatic or instantaneous.

The Chicago market is essentially a voluntary market for carbon where participation is not mandatory, as it is in the European Union. Chicago, too, is learning a great deal about how to build a successful carbon market. I would note that, because the Chicago market is voluntary, carbon prices in Chicago are lower than they are in Europe. We also need to learn from these types of experiences so that we can avoid their early mistakes, and there were mistakes.

Lesson number 10 is that it is a huge political challenge to explain to the public in simple language what a carbon market actually is and why it helps. As I have said before, an atmospheric tipping fee no longer treats the atmosphere as a free waste receptacle for what we call CO2.

Lesson number 11 is that it is extremely important that we have a carbon trading market located in Canada. Otherwise, it will end up being located in Chicago or elsewhere, which is why we need a clear signal now from the government about the nature of the system it intends to create.

That leads to lesson number 12, which is that it is critical that we get a regulated system in place as soon as possible in Canada for greenhouse gases and the carbon market.

As for lesson number 13—and I see my friends from the Bloc—it is not for me to decide between Montreal or Toronto. It is as if I was asked to choose between the Senators, the Canadiens or the Toronto Maple Leafs. Personally, I always choose the Maple Leafs, because that is where I was elected. Nevertheless, we must let the market decide, as we must let the Stanley Cup decide among these three teams; it is not up to us. Ultimately, quality will win out.

In closing, I can certainly say that the Liberal Party supports the concept of creating a carbon trading market in Canada.

The Liberal Party also supports the development of an integrated climate change plan that deals with all the major sources of emissions in Canada, that is to say, industrial, electricity, upstream oil and gas, big industrial energy consumers, transportation, residential, commercial, agricultural and waste, but we have to be part of the only global system going, the United Nations framework convention on climate change and the Kyoto protocol, which flows from that.

We have to set ambitious fixed targets for ourselves and give it our best effort to reach them.

We have to honour our international obligations and Canada's promise to the world.

We have to save our country and our planet.

Most of all, we have to pass a better world on to our children and to their children.

A Canadian carbon trading market, wherever it is ultimately located, is a small but important part of that effort.

Business of Supply April 24th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member if the federal government is the one that will decide where the carbon exchange will be established or if the market will simply make that choice itself among the competitive exchanges that may exist anywhere in Canada?

The Environment March 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the Minister of the Environment that it looks like the finance minister decided to add a few gas guzzlers to the green car list.

General Motors vehicles that can also run on E85 are indeed eligible for a tax funded $1,000 rebate. The problem is the only pump where drivers can fill up in Canada with E85 is in Ottawa. What good does that do for a driver in Calgary?

Did the minister add these models to the list simply because they are assembled by people in his riding?

The Environment March 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, a week before the budget, the Minister of Finance decided to subsidize General Motors vehicles with big engines, because they can also run on an ethanol E85 blend. The Minister of Finance is likely the only taxpayer in Whitby—Oshawa who can fill up his car at the only E85 fuel pump in the country, which is here in Ottawa.

Why is the minister subsidizing vehicles that in no way help improve the environment?

Points of Order February 2nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have two different issues.

Bill C-288 does not propose spending. It proposes monitoring. That is the whole purpose of it. What the government does outside the bill to meet climate change is the government's business. The bill does not do more than simply say the government must have a plan for Kyoto and must tell how that plan works.

The second point is that the two amendments do not propose specific programming spending. Both amendments could be dealt with by reallocating funds within the relevant agencies, whether it is the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which could reallocate within its spending package what it chose to do and drop something else. So could the worker adjustment funds. There is no specific spending proposal that cannot be met by reallocating funds within those two categories.

Therefore, I request that this be taken into consideration in making your decision, Sir.

Business of Supply February 1st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions for the minister. The first is that I am a little puzzled that in a debate which is essentially about climate change and the Kyoto protocol he would continue as it were to muddy the air and indeed the water by continuing to confuse climate change, air pollution and water pollution. They are all important questions but they do demand different solutions and they have totally different consequences. One is local by character and another is global. I wonder why he introduced that diversion on water treatment plants.

Second, on transit passes, where the advertisement claims that so many cars will be taken off the road and so many drivers will be induced to join the subway system, how does he deal with the inefficiency of that since the people who are most likely to claim transit passes for tax purposes are people who are currently using the system, not people who will be induced out of their cars? It is known in economics as literally the free rider problem.

If he would address those two questions I would be most appreciative.