Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to explain before my colleagues, the hon. members of the House of Commons, some of the reasons why I support the motion introduced by my colleague in the Bloc Québécois, the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, demanding compliance with the objectives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions established under the Kyoto protocol.
I would like to say, first of all, that my personal health status has a lot to do with the extreme importance I attach to this issue. Like thousands of our compatriots and millions of people around the world, I have asthma.
Members may have already heard me coughing here in the House, and although these untimely noises are beyond my control, I would like to offer my apologies to this kind assembly.
I do not want to base my presentation solely on my personal situation, which is not of much concern, ultimately, in comparison with the health problems that some of our fellow citizens face.
I should just say that I forgot to mention I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi.
It seems to me though, and people will certainly agree, that not enough attention is paid in the current debate to the effects that greenhouse gases have on our health and how urgent it is, therefore, to take action.
Sometimes I wonder what air those who put so much energy into polluting the atmosphere breathe or what world oil producers and other large generators of greenhouse gases live in. Do they not see the effects of all this pollution on their children, on themselves, and on the entire planet? Do they want a tomorrow for future generations?
We should all be implementing, and should have for a long time now, lasting solutions to a problem for which we are entirely responsible as human beings.
On the international level, we should be following the example of the European Union, which reduced greenhouse gas emissions by minus 1.4% in 2003, while Canada increased its emissions by 24.2%.
We could even draw inspiration from Quebec, which had the best record in Canada for greenhouse gas emissions in 2003 at 12 tonnes per person. That is clearly below the Canadian average of 23 tonnes per person.
Rather than building on all these positive models that are based on fundamental principles such as those presented by the Bloc Québécois—namely, honouring international commitments, fairness, and respect for Quebec's jurisdictions—the Minister of the Environment is considering joining the United States in the Asia-Pacific partnership.
On April 25, after a meeting with her American counterparts, the Minister of the Environment announced that her government would be taking a page from American successes in the areas of the environment and curbing air pollution.
Contrary to the claims of the Conservatives these days, the American approach to fighting climate change is not a model to be adopted. In fact, whereas greenhouse gas emissions totalled 23.4 tonnes per Canadian in 2003, they amounted to 23.7 tonnes per American.
What is it that the Conservatives really want to do? Reduce or increase greenhouse gas emissions? The question bears asking.
The Conservative government has indicated that it does not intend to attempt to honour the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels, as it deems this to be an unrealistic and unachievable target. The tragedy is that the Conservative government has shown no intention of meeting the Kyoto target.
Not meeting the Kyoto target is tantamount to abandoning Kyoto.
The Conservatives must realize that their position has serious consequences for Canada's credibility on the international stage.
They have to realize that their position could call the whole issue of the viability and relevance of the negotiations and the signing of multilateral agreements into question.
The Conservatives have to realize that they must not limit themselves to spending taxpayers' money on building prisons. They must invest in measures that will ensure our safety, our health and our prosperity for years to come.
Climate and extreme weather conditions, while they cannot be changed, are the result to a large extent of human action. We must react now and stop putting the lives of future generations in peril.
Returning to health matters, I appeal to the conscience of the Conservatives in the hope they will follow the example of the European Union, according to which:
Air quality is one of the prime environmental concerns of European citizens and, accordingly, of the European legislature, in so far as it affects not only the environment but also public health. The latest research has shown that air quality is one of the main causes of the increase in respiratory disorders.
For this reason and for all the others cited here today, the Conservatives must honour the objectives of the Kyoto protocol, as the Bloc Québécois is demanding in the name of the 90% of Quebeckers who have given it their support.