Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to put a few thoughts on the record about the government's position, my position and my feelings about Kyoto.
One of the unfortunate things that is happening is the attempt to create the concept that when we vote on Kyoto and presumably ratify the accord, that somehow something magical will happen, that jobs will fall off the frontier, that costs will rise, that we will pay more for gas, et cetera.
The reality is, and members opposite know, that the decision to ratify Kyoto and the vote at the point that it is taken is not the end of this process. In fact, it is quite the contrary. I suggest that is the beginning of the process of Canada becoming a world leader in the reduction of greenhouse gases and in the improvement of the quality of our climate, our atmosphere, our air, everything that matters to our future.
People opposed to our ratifying the accord tell us not to wrap it around an emotional issue. It is not only the people who support ratifying Kyoto who care about their grandchildren, and I acknowledge that quite clearly, we all care. Perhaps many members opposite really do believe some of the propaganda that has been put out on this issue such as it will somehow cost us jobs and hurt our economic growth. I do not believe that members opposite are so disingenuous that they would simply argue against ratifying an accord that is so important to the future of this country and the entire world without believing their concerns to be real.
This issue is not about whether we have hugged a tree lately. This is about finding out what the best thing Canada can do as a sovereign nation to show some leadership and some courage because it does take some courage.
People ask what the hurry is and why does this have to be done before Christmas. I get the question from people in my own riding. The fact that we are only a couple of weeks away from adjourning for the Christmas session would seem to make that question a little more urgent.
The reality is that the decision to move ahead on the ratification of Kyoto has been a longstanding desire and the position of this government and this Prime Minister is that it is time to bring it to a head. How many times do we get calls on any given issue in our ridings from people telling us that all we do is talk? How many times do we get calls asking us to finally do something and to make a decision, or to stand up and fix this or fix that? Lo and behold a decision has been made to put a timeframe in place, to allow Parliament to debate and to hear from Canadians all over the country on this issue. We are having this huge public debate but all of a sudden we are moving too quickly. It does not seem that there is a way to satisfy everybody.
Canada is obviously a country that is very difficult to govern. What is needed is leadership. That is what we are seeing from the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Environment and the government. Members may not agree with the leadership, and I do not have a problem with that, but they cannot deny, and Canadians should recognize, that the government is telling people what it will do.
People are asking to see the plan. I submit this is a bit like some of the debates in this place where people ask to see documents and then when they see them they say that is not good enough and they ask for more. We show them more and still they say that is not good enough and they point out what is wrong. This is a bit of a mug's game.
The fact of the matter is that a plan is in place and the provinces have been working with the federal government. Municipalities are way ahead of us. It is time we got on the bus and caught up to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The government invested in the municipal sector by providing a green fund of $250 million. I thank the member for pointing out the fact that the government has shown that kind of leadership. That only makes sense. The municipal sector is already there. I would suggest many people in the private sector are already there.
One of the things that is disturbing is that this whole debate is being framed as an us versus them scenario: central Canada against western Canada; Canada against the United States; government against business; the feds against the provinces; politics against science, and Lord knows there are not too many scientists in this place; and the government against the opposition, which is the norm. It should be none of those things because this is for all Canadians.
The plan that is being discussed would be a living plan. It would be necessary for us to continue looking for new ways to help people insulate their homes. Perhaps put in place a policy, something that I intend to fight for in my role as parliamentary secretary for crown corporations, where any project that is developed for affordable housing, or any housing, that involves federal dollars would be built to at least a level of R-2000. We should ensure that level of insulation takes place wherever we can. We must show that kind of leadership as the national government, as I believe we will.
I want to talk about the fears that I have had expressed in my riding. People write or phone and say they do not understand at all. They understand that the United States is not ratifying and everything that we do, that we give and suffer for, may be lost because we live next door to the elephant, and there is no benefit in it. However, let me make some points if I may.
At both the federal and state level, the United States has already taken significant action to address climate change, and will continue to do that. I believe as many as 42 states in the U.S. already have legislation in place that goes a large measure toward the exact same goals of Kyoto. President Bush has appropriated $3 billion from the United States Congress to spend on Kyoto initiatives.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that President Bush, being from Texas, may well want to stand up publicly and say that he does not support Kyoto, notwithstanding that the former president, President Clinton, in fact did. So he has officially pulled out. However, let us not be misled. The states of California, Washington, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Maryland, and even Texas to a certain degree, have put in place changes to recognize the need to stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
I want to address the issue of science. None of us in this place, to my knowledge, or very few, are scientists or capable of debating this issue from that perspective. But at the end of the day, we have a responsibility that goes beyond science. We are not elected to be scientists; we are elected to be pragmatic. We are elected to look at the argument from all sides. We are elected on all sides of the House to examine the principles that are in place and to decide whether or not we believe they are the best for our country, for our ridings, and for the international world in which we live.
Canada was not supported by the United States in the landmines treaty, and yet we moved on the landmines treaty. We are recognized as one of the leading nations in the world on that particular issue. We should not, and cannot, and will not, shirk our duty as it relates to the environment. That is why the government is committed to ratifying Kyoto, so that we can begin the process. It is not an end. It is the beginning of a process that would see us lead to show that kind of international leadership that Canada is well known throughout the world for and that we can all be proud of.