Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)
|| That, having recognized the principle of complying with the Kyoto targets, it is the opinion of this House that the government should provide the Government of Quebec with the sum of $328 million to enable it to implement its plan to meet the Kyoto protocol targets.
He said: Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois' position on implementing the Kyoto protocol has been known for a long time and is as follows.
First, Canada must meet its international commitments; second, a carbon exchange must be set up in Montreal, which requires strict reduction targets and a polluter-pay policy; third, the government must stop providing assistance for the oil industry; fourth, Canada must adopt a territorial approach; fifth, $328 million must be transferred to the Government of Quebec.
For a number of years, Quebec has asked the federal government for $328 million, to enable Quebec to implement the Kyoto protocol within its borders. This should have happened a long time ago. For too long, the Government of Quebec has been stalled by the federal government on this urgent, fundamental issue.
The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Official Opposition have both undermined Quebec's efforts to fight climate change. In so doing, they have raised considerable doubt as to how determined they actually are to comply with Kyoto. By imposing its policies on Quebec, the Conservative government is doing what the former Liberal government did: hampering economic development in Quebec.
What this House needs to understand is that when it comes to energy, Quebec and Canada are two nations faced with completely different challenges. Although oil is making Canada richer, it is making Quebec poorer.
Last Sunday, a former federal environment minister, Mr. Anderson, stated that the Bloc Québécois was the only party that had always consistently supported the Kyoto protocol. In fact, this fundamental issue has long been a high priority for us. We do not have to make the shift to green thinking.
During the 2000 election campaign, we were already making the fight against climate change a key issue. In the years that followed, Quebec made a huge effort to convince Canada to ratify the Kyoto protocol.
The Bloc spoke out about this issue and was successful. During the 2004 election, we made the environment, and particularly the implementation of the Kyoto protocol, a central focus of our election platform. Greenpeace even awarded us a symbolic windmill for our campaign.
Furthermore, during the course of the 2004 election, something occurred that is very rare in the annals of politics. We received the support of another party leader, the Green Party. At the time, he called on Quebeckers to vote for the Bloc.
During the last campaign, our platform focused once again on the climate change issue.
Lastly, following the election of the current Conservative government, with a Prime Minister who promised to tear up the Kyoto protocol, we lead the charge in Quebec. We launched a petition, calling for compliance with Kyoto, and gathered more than 120,000 signatures.
We obtained the support of the majority of this House in favour of a motion calling on Canada to honour its commitments. It must be understood that this issue was crucial in Quebec.
I must point out here the complicit silence of the Conservatives elected in Quebec regarding this matter. They dishonourably refused to represent the opinion of a large majority of Quebeckers.
Furthermore, I am not at all convinced of the Prime Minister's good will, since not that long ago, he was the one who called Kyoto nothing more than a socialist scheme.
If there was a scheme, it was more likely an oil and gas scheme, reaching from Houston to Calgary, via Washington. I, however, do not believe in conspiracy theories. In fact, Quebec must simply deal with the Conservatives' ideological stubbornness and the Liberals' hypocrisy.
We cannot emphasize enough how appalling the Prime Minister's actions were in this matter.
Not only did he describe the international protocol as a “socialist plot”, but when he was leader of the official opposition he also promised to revoke it at the first possible opportunity.
The Prime Minister is fond of presenting himself as a decisive leader. Tuesday he spoke of leadership and yes, there is leadership, but the problem is that he is leading in the wrong direction. He has reneged on Canada's international commitments. He put a gag on Quebec in Kenya. His Quebec political lieutenant has slammed the door in Quebec's face as far as the $328 million is concerned, and the present Minister of the Environment has said, in response to a question from the Bloc, that he still wishes to proceed on a project by project basis, on a piecemeal basis, just like his predecessor and just like the former Liberal minister.
I am, of course, referring to the present leader of the official opposition. When he was the environment minister, he too hindered Quebec in its efforts. When Quebec was trying to negotiate an agreement with him, the then Quebec Minister of the Environment, Minister Mulcair, a fervent federalist, had this to say: “the term contempt is not strong enough to describe how I was treated.” Nothing has changed since then.
It is all very well for the current Quebec Minister of the Environment, Mr. Béchard, to be pleased with his first meeting with his new federal counterpart, but all he is doing is repeating what he said after his first meeting with the old one. We all know what happened after that: this Conservative government humiliated Mr. Béchard in Nairobi.
Mr. Mulcair, who had never caved in to Ottawa, stated, and rightly so, that the federal government's focus was totally on the west and on Ontario. That is why the Bloc Québécois is demanding a Kyoto implementation plan based on a territorial approach. This is the approach which has enabled 25 sovereign states of Europe to reach agreement and make some progress within the European Union.
That approach will enable Canada to meet its commitments by allocating objectives to Quebec and to each province. Quebec will then be free to determine for itself the best way to meet its objectives. If the government wants to demonstrate its goodwill and to take that path, the first step it needs to take is to transfer $328 million to the Government of Quebec, with no strings attached and not a little at a time.
Quebeckers are committed to combating climate change. They have been making that clear for many years. Petroleum is the source of 71% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec. This means that Quebec will have to radically reduce its petroleum consumption in order to help combat climate change. That is the first reason for Quebec to reduce its reliance on petroleum. It seems to me that saving the planet is an excellent reason.
The second reason is that petroleum makes Quebec poorer. This is not true for Canada. In today's petroleum economy, Canada is a major player. The Canadian economy is heavily reliant on the petroleum industry. This is so true that the fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar depend in large part on petroleum prices. This is largely why Canada has yet to implement the Kyoto protocol. Put simply, petroleum is making Canada richer. The opposite is true for Quebec: petroleum is making it poorer.
That is why Quebec needs to enter into an agreement based on the territorial approach. With such an agreement, Quebec will be able to take charge of implementing the Kyoto protocol within its jurisdiction, including where funding is concerned. This will require a minimum of $328 million to be transferred to the Quebec government.
When I say that petroleum makes Quebec poorer, that is not a figure of speech. For one thing, Quebec does not produce significant amounts of petroleum, natural gas or coal. In 2006, Quebec bought $13 billion worth of petroleum. This represents a $7 billion increase over three years. Over the same three years, Quebec went from a surplus to a trade deficit of $7 billion.
This means that rising oil prices sent Quebec into a trade deficit position. As you know, trade deficits slow economic growth. Every drop in the balance of trade leads to a drop in wealth in Quebec.
As well, the instability of prices and the dollar hits the manufacturing industry. The Quebec finance department estimates that a 20% increase in the price of oil results in a 0.8% drop in real GDP in the first year and 1.4% in the second. That is a huge amount.
The price of oil is supposed to remain high and very probably to go even higher in the short term. That is why I say that oil is making Quebec poor. And that is why it will make Quebec poorer in future, if the federal government persists in countering its efforts.
This is the second justification for adopting a strategy that focuses on reducing our dependence on oil, a strategy that is appropriate for Quebec.
We therefore have strong evidence: Quebec must reduce its dependence on oil, both to combat climate change and to halt the impoverishment that results from our dependence.
There is also a third reason. Quebec, like all societies, will eventually have to do without oil. Oil is a non-renewable resource that will someday be exhausted. If we embark on this path quickly, the reduction in dependence on oil will become a major economic advantage.
The time will necessarily come when oil production is no longer sufficient to meet demand. That will cause shortages and lead to skyrocketing prices. Will this happen in 20 years, or in 50 years? While we do not know the answer, everyone acknowledges that it will happen.
The industrialized world will enter the post-oil era in a few decades. This new direction will call for very far-reaching changes. In fact, it will call for a revolution—an energy revolution. Societies that saw the change coming and embarked on the new path earlier will come out of it as winners. Societies that did not prepare for it will experience a major crisis.
It is therefore entirely to Quebec's advantage to embark on the new path of the 21st century now. But Quebec will never be able to do this if Canada continues to impose its oil economy policies on it.
From 1970 to 1999, the federal government gave $66 billion in direct subsidies to the oil and gas industry, all concentrated outside Quebec. Quebeckers paid for one quarter of those subsidies. Not a single cent was given to the Quebec hydro-electric industry. And it goes on: by our calculations, the accelerated write-off allowed for the oil sands alone will have let the oil companies exempt $15 billion of their taxable profits between 2005 and 2008—$15 billion to the oil companies, when we all know that they are all living on the edge of poverty.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced his intention to transform the savings made on debt servicing into income tax reductions. Should he not be taking that same approach and cutting the assistance given to the oil companies, and spending that money to combat climate change?
As for the leader of the official opposition, he is not missing a trick; he also voted in favour of Bill C-48, legislation that meant that Canada's tax laws became the most favourable for oil companies in North America. The oil companies now pay less tax in the Prime Minister's Canada than in George W. Bush's Texas. We have to do it. Enough.
The Bloc has a strategy that will enable Quebec to reduce its oil dependency. By applying this strategy, Quebec could expect to reduce its oil consumption by 32% over 10 years. In reducing the flight of capital caused by oil imports, these measures could lead to an increase in GDP of 1.5% per year in Quebec.
In addition, reduced oil dependency will improve the competitive strength of the Quebec economy. We are talking here about tremendous impacts that will make the difference between an economy with modest growth and a dynamic and flourishing economy.
Quebec's regions will also benefit from this strategy. For example, the use of forest and farm wastes to produce clean fuels, the implementation of the Quebec marine policy and coastal shipping, modernization of plants in the forestry sector, and reduction of oil-related expenditures are all measures that will benefit the economies of Quebec's regions. Finally, the positioning of Quebec as a player in sectors likely to grow quickly should also ensure continued and sustainable growth for the province.
Over the next 10 years, in meeting these objectives, Quebec will have been able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 21.5%, which will be 10% less than 1990 levels; and that will only be the start, because Quebeckers believe in Kyoto.
For this government and the previous one, Canada’s economic future has always meant more oil. For us, it is exactly the opposite. The future of Quebec always demands less oil. Thus, the future of Quebec and the future of our planet are going in the same direction. Quebec will need all its resources to finance this strategy, but much of Quebec’s financial resources are sent here, to Ottawa.
It is also in Ottawa that crucial decisions are made with regard to research, and to marine and railway transportation. Decisions are made in Ottawa with respect to certain industrial standards, the regulation of polluting emissions and vehicle compliance, decisions on implementation of the Kyoto protocol, creation of a carbon market, for example, and decisions about business support programs, taxation and many infrastructure programs. All those decisions are made in Ottawa.
It is obvious that Quebec will not be able to achieve all these objectives without the good will of the federal government. However, within the federal framework, past experience teaches us that Quebec must be very patient before Ottawa agrees to respond to its needs and interests.
Therefore, I invite Quebeckers to take note that there would be nothing to prevent a sovereign Quebec from implementing an energy revolution that will serve our interests and those of the planet.
Mrs. Sylvie Boucher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, why do we need the clean air act when we have the Canadian Environmental Protection Act?
Canadians are concerned about the quality of the air they are breathing, as well as climate change. Harmful atmospheric emissions are continuing to impact on our health, our environment, our economy and even our quality of life. Our government is aware that global warming is a serious threat to the health and well-being of Canada. So the new government of Canada has taken measures designed to reduce air pollution and climate change in order to protect Canadians’ health and their environment.
The report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has just been released, once again sounds the alarm. Growing levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere may exacerbate climate change, and this may prove to be devastating in many parts of the world.
This government’s long-term integrated regulatory approach to the reduction of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions will be strengthened by the improvements that the bill aims to make to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, or CEPA. By relying on the considerable powers already provided under CEPA, Bill C-30 will ensure a much firmer foundation for concerted action to be taken against smog emissions, acid rain pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions produced in many cases by the same industrial and vehicle sources.
Concerted action will make it possible to avoid so-called “pernicious” effects. Sometimes the technologies used to reduce air pollution have unfortunate side effects, which actually increase greenhouse gas emissions. By tackling this problem, our government will maximize the advantages for the population of Canada and Quebec. Our approach will also provide the certainty necessary to industry so that it can make the most of technology and invest the necessary money to reduce both air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
The previous government committed itself to meeting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, but the emissions increased by 27% during its mandate. Consequently there was a increase in smog in our cities and an increase in the incidence of asthma and other respiratory diseases. That is why our government is taking a dynamic new path.
The clean air act creates new powers to allow for regulation and surveillance of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.
Allow me to give a few examples of the effects the changes to CEPA will have.
The clean air act will be the legislative basis for a made-to-measure approach to regulate indoor and outdoor air pollutants as well as greenhouse gases. By adopting regulations based on the act, we will be in a position to impose requirements and to take enforcement measures against offenders.
Our clean air regulation initiative comes as a radical change if we consider all the missed opportunities of the past. For the first time, the environment and health ministers will be legally forced to establish national objectives on air quality, to follow closely the progress in meeting those objectives and to produce a progress report every year. This is a very strict obligation that we think will ensure that successive governments make a priority of improving air quality.
With the clean air act, Canadians will be in a position to hold the government accountable for real progress in reducing air pollution.
Bill C-30 will also amend CEPA to enable us to make full use of the emission-trading market so that industry can comply as efficiently as possible with the regulatory standards that are going to be instituted.
The bill will also improve our ability to regulate air emissions from various products.
Along with the provinces and territories, our government promised to require that the renewable fuel usage rate be set at 5% by 2010. This objective is stricter than the American one and comparable to that of our European partners. The amendments to CEPA will allow us to regulate the fuel mix and thereby institute national standards on renewable fuel content in as efficient a way as possible.
Canada's Clean Air Act will also improve the Energy Efficiency Act, enabling us to set solid energy efficiency standards for a broader array of consumer and commercial products, especially household appliances and electrical products.
Finally, Canada's Clean Air Act will amend the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act to modernize the government’s ability to regulate the fuel consumption of new motor vehicles. For the very first time, we will be able to regulate the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles beginning in the 2011 model year.
We already have some legislative power to protect Canadians’ health and the environment from air pollution. That is why we do not expect the amendments to unleash new regulatory measures. The notice of intent we issued last October described a certain number of regulations that will come into force over the next 12 months under the existing legislation.
Canadians will see real reductions thanks to these regulations imposing mandatory requirements. The era of voluntary compliance is over.
In conclusion, Canada's Clean Air Act will be the first comprehensive, integrated effort that Canada has seen to fight air pollution and greenhouse gases. It will give all Canadians cleaner air while also fighting climate change. Our health has suffered long enough and our environment has been degraded enough. Canada's Clean Air Act is absolutely necessary to achieve real progress for our generation and those to come.
Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of the Environment.
Mr. Mark Warawa (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments and her hard work in representing Quebec well.
I would like to begin by emphasizing clearly that the government is committed to taking immediate and concrete action to address the issue of climate change and cleaning up the environment.
As the Prime Minister said in his speech of February 5, just two days ago:
||--we have to have a realistic plan, not just empty rhetoric.
|| Our government supports a concerted global effort to deal with climate change--and such an effort [ to be effective] must include the major emitters, including the United States and China.
|| But we cannot ask others to act unless we are prepared to start at home, with real action on greenhouse gases and air pollution.
In short, the time for empty rhetoric is over. It is time for real action.
This government has a realistic plan. Our government has launched an ambitious environmental agenda that will have clear benefits for the environment and for the health of all Canadians.
The environment, particularly climate change, is a fundamental, multi-faceted issue that will require collaborative efforts from all levels of government.
We are committed to working with the provinces and territories in order to address shared challenges while ensuring that national and provincial efforts are well coordinated. Environment is a shared jurisdiction where all governments have a responsibility to act and to be accountable to their citizens.
Quebec is a significant player in the environment, as are all the provinces and territories. We recognize that Quebec has a comprehensive climate change plan and we commend the province's efforts. We have a good working relationship on many federal-provincial issues, not only with Quebec but with other provinces as well. The federal government is equally committed to taking action on climate change and I hope our two governments can work together to achieve shared goals and objectives.
As well, in this House, our government has decided to follow a different course of action in regard to funding of environmental programs.
The government has recently committed over $2 billion in a series of ecoenergy measures to promote both renewable energy and energy efficiency. These initiatives will complement current and future provincial and territorial efforts on climate change and support shared goals and objectives on air pollution and greenhouse gases in every region of the country, including Quebec.
In short, this funding will deliver real results. Canadians from coast to coast to coast will benefit as concrete reductions in greenhouse gases and air pollutants are achieved. I am confident that these initiatives, which will complement Quebec's climate change plan, will be well received by all Quebeckers.
We value provincial and territorial expertise in all aspects of environmental management and local considerations and will ensure that this expertise is utilized when moving forward on the environmental agenda.
In fact, many elements of the government's new ecoenergy programs will require joint efforts, including participation of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, industry, and the universities. Public-private partnerships with industry and federal and provincial governments will be forged where there is a shared interest.
In fact, ours is the first federal government to come forward with a comprehensive plan to regulate both greenhouse gases and pollutants in the industrial sector.
This government is committed to achieving real and measurable results that will produce health and environmental benefits for all Canadians. When it comes to the health of Canadians and the environment, we are not simply willing to adopt voluntary approaches, which do not necessarily lead to meaningful improvements.
We will set realistic and concrete mandatory targets for the short, the medium and the long term that will result in cleaner air, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a healthier environment.
Our approach is balanced. New regulations will be complemented by a series of new programs that will support national goals and objectives.
The new ecoenergy initiatives are a prime example of our balanced approach, as they will complement the government's regulatory measures under the proposed clean air act, Bill C-30. They will deliver real results while regulations are being developed. They will also drive the technological innovation required to support upcoming regulations.
Provinces and territories are responsible for a great deal of the day to day delivery of the environmental programs. They work directly with local business, industry and municipalities, and they manage and monitor many facets of the environment across the wide expanse of the country.
We recognize that all levels of government are currently taking action to tackle air emissions. As such, we have launched a frank and transparent process of dialogue to ensure continued exchange of information throughout the regulatory development process.
At the beginning of November last year, consultations on the regulatory framework were launched with provinces and territories as well as with industrial sectors, aboriginal groups and non-governmental organizations.
I am pleased to say that to date these consultations have been positive and constructive. Provinces and territories are generally supportive of the federal government's efforts to introduce regulatory measures and to consult on setting the targets and the timelines.
We will continue to work in partnership and will respect shared responsibility among all levels of government. Our ongoing dialogue with the provinces and territories is key to achieving consistent and comprehensive national outcomes.
Our Minister of the Environment has met with several of his provincial and territorial counterparts, including Quebec's Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks. These meetings have been productive, with a shared view that both orders of government can continue to work together.
In fact, we are pleased to say that provinces and territories recognize that this government is taking immediate action on climate change and is prepared to work in collaboration to address this shared challenge.
The government's policy is clear. We will establish targets that will result in concrete improvements in environmental outcomes. These targets will be realistic and they will be achievable.
The environmental agenda developed by this government ensures a balance between recognizing the increased federal role to act in the national interest while ensuring provincial cooperation on an ongoing basis.
This government values the work of provinces and territories and believes they are critical players in environmental management. We will work with them in a cooperative and productive manner as this environmental agenda is further developed.
Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak this morning to the motion put forward by our colleagues.
I am pleased to rise in this House today to express my views on an issue as critical as the Kyoto protocol on climate change.
First, I would like to thank all the Bloc and NDP members for supporting the motion tabled in the House last week by the leader of the official opposition. Through their votes, the vast majority of hon. members confirmed their support for Kyoto and their commitment to fight climate change.
We know that the government is now all alone in its approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This shows that it is headed in the wrong direction. The motion that enjoyed the support of the three opposition parties recognized that human activities are largely responsible for the disruptions affecting the climate, and demanded that the government respect its Kyoto commitments.
The motion directed the Prime Minister to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to use the existing means provided in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to take necessary initiatives. The motion was adopted a week ago and the government is still not acting on it.
The Kyoto protocol is a cooperation tool that unites nations willing to address the international issue that global warming represents. It is not just a set of targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is not just a step forward, it is also, and more importantly, the right path that will lead us to results. The Kyoto protocol is dealing with the issue before it is too late, because the alarm is already sounding.
Last week, the intergovernmental panel on climate change, a group established by the United Nations, released a shocking report. It concluded that human activities are almost without a doubt responsible for global warming and are, consequently, also responsible for the major socio-economic disruptions that this warming trend could trigger in the years to come.
Despite the international panel's shocking statements last Friday, the Prime Minister cannot yet answer a question that I and many others have been asking him for over a year now. Where is his plan to fight climate change?
The only conclusion we are left with is that the Conservative government does not have a plan. The Prime Minister is trying to fool Canadians who are now more than ever concerned with the future of our planet. We cannot trust a Prime Minister who was leader of the opposition and called the Kyoto treaty a socialist scheme. He promised to battle its ratification, “whatever the cost”.
We know that if the Prime Minister were serious about climate change, he would have mentioned it in his last fiscal update, just last fall. If climate change were a priority at all for the Conservatives, it would at least have been mentioned perhaps in their Speech from the Throne or perhaps in their so-called list of five priorities during the campaign. It was absent from all those documents, from all those speeches and from all that rhetoric.
The Conservatives' record in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions is just pathetic. The Conservative government axed federal programs that promoted the reduction of greenhouse gases.
The proof? Here it is: $395 million cut from the EnerGuide program for home renovations; $500 million cut from the EnerGuide program for low-income homeowners; and $250 million cut from the partnership fund for climate change projects that the Liberals concluded with the provinces and municipalities.
Almost $600 million was cut from wind power production and renewable power production programs. The Conservatives did away with the One Tonne Challenge. They cut a billion dollars from the Climate Fund to reduce greenhouse gases. They cut $2 billion of general climate-change program funding.
The most recent victim of the Conservatives' cuts to environmental programs is the Commercial Building Incentive Program, which provided a financial incentive for the design and construction of new energy efficient buildings.
This was not a useless program; it produced results. Since its inception, this program supported no less than 541 projects in Canada that improved the energy performance of new buildings. These new buildings perform on average almost 35% better than similar buildings.
This program proved that it helped reduce greenhouse gases; every residential building, for example, built through the program emitted 182 fewer tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. For commercial buildings, the average reduction of greenhouse gases was 291 tonnes a year.
A government that eliminates such a program cannot say that it is taking care of the climate change problem. And similar announcements keep on coming.
Yesterday we learned that the government is shutting down the Northern Climate ExChange in the Yukon, which excels in climate change research in northern Canada and in the world. Since the Conservatives are cutting off their annual funding of $320,000, the researchers and scientists at Northern Climate ExChange have to end their studies.
If we do a quick calculation of all of the cuts, we get over $5.5 billion that has been eliminated from initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases—$5.5 billion in cuts. Is this how the government shows that it is serious about fighting climate change?
If the government is serious about action on climate change, it certainly has not shown it with its widely penned and so-called clean air act.
The Bill C-30 legislative committee has resurrected a bill that was dead on arrival in the House of Commons and only resurrected it with a promise to completely and utterly rewrite it.
Experts agree that there are no significant powers, not a single significant power to regulate in the new Bill C-30, that the government does not already possess under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. In short, the bill does nothing. I think we know that if the government were serious, it would have acted rather than punting the whole issue into Parliament.
Just half an hour ago, the Minister of the Environment refused to promise that the amended Bill C-30, once sent back to this chamber on March 30, would be acted on quickly by the government. He refused to guarantee and promise Canadian people that the hard work of the legislative committee would be implemented by the government. What kind of game is this when we are talking about such a serious issue for the future of the country?
Let us turn our attention to a subject that fascinates government members, the Liberal record on the environment. Project green was introduced as the centrepiece of the greenest budget in Canadian history. To paraphrase the Minister of the Environment, who said that? Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada.
With several key platforms for action, six greenhouse gases were added to the list of toxins under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. A proposed large final emitter system was published and draft regulations were nearly released before the unexpected 2006 election. We released a proposed set of rules for an offset credit system to award credits to large and small industries, technology companies, municipalities, farmers, foresters and individual Canadians, achieving greenhouse gas emission reductions. That system would have also created a market, allowing these individuals, industries and organizations to sell their credits, which is one of the most efficient ways to get the maximum emissions reductions at the lowest cost.
Our climate fund was set to start operations in early 2006, acting as a kind of investment bank. It would have purchased reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, resulting from tangible projects. For Canadians, opportunities would have been available in every sector of the economy. Many different groups would have benefited from the fund: forestry companies that engaged in state of the art forest management practices; farmers who adopted low-till practices; property developers who included district heating and renewable energy elements in their plans for their new subdivisions; businesses that developed innovative ways to reduce emissions through recycling and energy efficiency; companies and municipalities that invested in their communities to encourage alternative transportation modes; municipalities that went further and captured landfill gas and used it to generate electricity; or courier companies that retrofitted their fleets.
We have lost a key year, 12 months of silence, 12 months of blame game. In the 12th month, what does the government do? It goes back into our green plan. It cherry-picks three core programs and re-gifts them for Canadians. Not only does it re-gift the programs, but seriously weakens all three.
In other words, at some point Canada's new government will have to deliver a plan. We will have to see a plan. The Canadian people are desirous of a plan.
Another major part of project green was the $250 million partnership fund. This fund was expected to grow to $2 billion to $3 billion as projects were expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 to 85 megatonnes by 2012.
The first project announced under the partnership fund was a three-way federal-provincial-private plan in Prince Edward Island to upgrade the province's electricity transmission system and to allow P.E.I. to take advantage of wind energy. This is exactly the kind of investment we need to leverage industry to fight climate change. It is a program that was stillborn with the Conservative government a year ago.
Our climate change plan was in fact a business strategy for Canada that generated beneficial investments across the economy. Where did that plan go?
We do not only denounce the lack of vision on the part of the government. The Liberal approach is quite different from what the Bloc Québécois is advocating. Today, the Bloc is calling for $328 million to be transferred from Ottawa's coffers, merely a transfer of money. We would prefer a partnership between the two levels of government.
When Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol in 1997, it joined its efforts in a cooperation agreement entered into by a number of countries to achieve a single goal. Climate change is a global problem that Canada cannot solve on its own, in isolation. We took the lead, we agreed to live up to our responsibilities and we committed ourselves to working to improve the situation.
Because we cannot ignore our allies in the fight against climate change, we must also seize the opportunity to work in close collaboration with each of the provinces, each of the territories, all of the cities and villages and aboriginal communities. We are talking here about a collective effort in which every level of government must do its part. The federal government should extend its hand to them and demonstrate its intention of collaborating. Cooperation is one of the keys to success. That is how we can be sure that our efforts are not in vain and that we are advancing toward our common goal.
Just as for all of the childcare agreements that the government had entered into with the 13 provinces and territories, just as for the Kelowna accord, the first comprehensive federal agreement with all of the major aboriginal and Métis communities, the objective of the Kyoto protocol Partnership Fund was to secure agreements between Ottawa and all of the provincial and territorial governments for fighting climate change.
We had a memorandum of agreement, with Quebec, which involved $328 million and possibly more. Similar agreements had been signed with Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. But after the 2006 election, Quebec found itself alone in its efforts to achieve the Kyoto protocol objectives. The federal government made a big mistake when it took away the $328 million we had set aside for Quebec to fight climate change.
In my closing remarks, I am going to ask the government again to table a plan for the people of Canada to honour our obligations under the international treaty called the Kyoto protocol.
As a nation and as a people, we committed to lead the world in a global response to a global problem. The government refuses to accept that although there are over 180 nation-states, there is only one atmosphere and there must be a global response. That is why 168 countries, including Canada, have signed the treaty. The government instead would like us to leave the treaty but will not tell Canadians the truth about it.
To conclude, I would like to move an amendment to the motion by the Bloc Québécois that is before us today.
I move that the motion be amended by replacing the words “the sum of” with the words “a sum of not less than” and by adding after the words “Kyoto Protocol targets” the following: “in accordance with the commitment made to all of the provinces and territories by the Partnership Fund established in Project Green”.
Those are my remarks. On this extraordinarily important time in Canadian history, we support the efforts of the Bloc Québécois; we support the efforts of all provinces and we are desperately looking forward to plan which engages Canadians, provinces, municipalities, towns and villages in what is the challenge of the 21st century: to reduce our greenhouse gases and protect the only atmosphere we have.
Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on the Bloc Québécois motion on air quality, the environment and the Kyoto protocol. I have listened to our Liberal colleague speaking of the green plan and so on. I believe he has neglected to say that their environmental plan has been a failure, and I will give him an example. Moreover, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development has pointed out that, even if the reduction measures set out in the Liberal government's 2005 plan had been fully implemented, it is hard to say whether the planned reductions would have been sufficient to allow us to fulfil our obligations. This was in the report tabled by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development on September 28, 2006.
The Liberals are busy patting themselves on the back and saying that they would have solved the environmental and air quality problems if they had been in power. This raises some questions, particularly since the environment minister at that time is now the leader of the Liberal Party. Now he thinks donning a green scarf is going to change Canada's environment.
I do not want to dwell on the Liberal position for too long. I do not believe they managed during their 13 years in power to demonstrate that they considered the environment important, considering that greenhouse gas emissions increased by 30% over that period. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development has even stated that the measures for 2005 could not achieve the Kyoto protocol objectives.
Regrettably, when we look at the new government—as it still wants to be called—one which was at one point totally opposed to the Kyoto protocol, we see it has been forced to set aside the Minister of the Environment in favour of another.
My congratulations to Canadians, to all those who have realized that the environment has become a priority for our country. A person cannot open a newspaper or listen to a news broadcast these days without realizing that the environment is becoming one of our priorities.
It is not a normal situation in our communities all over the country for little children to have asthma, and for children, adults and seniors to be sick because of environmental pollutants. It is our fundamental responsibility, as citizens and as human beings, to preserve our planet for our children, for future generations. How can we not make the environment a priority?
I can see that the Bloc Québécois wants to be the champion of the environment in Quebec, as if it had all the answers. As I recall, just before the election, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace said we were number one in terms of the environment. They did mention the Bloc Québécois, but never said this was the doing of the Bloc alone.
I should remind the House and the people of Canada and Quebec that we all have to work together, because environmental pollution is something that does not affect only Quebec. It is happening worldwide. We must therefore work together and collectively to prevent pollution. As a member of this House, I was very disappointed when the Bloc Québécois voted against a motion put before the House by the NDP to ban the use of pesticides on people's lawns.
I was very disappointed with the position taken by the Bloc Québécois, saying that this was a provincial jurisdiction. I find it hard to believe that pollutants fall under provincial jurisdiction.
Quebec had good legislation respecting pesticides. We even commended it for that. But in this House, in this Parliament, here in Ottawa, by voting against our motion to ban pesticides, Bloc members have prevented the rest of Canada from enjoying similar legislation. It struck me as unfortunate, especially since they paint themselves as saviours of the environment and of Kyoto. They opposed a motion going to the heart of the issue of health in the regions, as it dealt with the banning of pesticides on grassy areas in municipalities and towns. How could they oppose that?
It is almost as if they can think of only one thing: Quebec, and only Quebec. That is unfortunate. The motion before us is a case in point: it talks only about Quebec. An amendment might be put forward later. This time, one would hope that they will not vote the same way they did on pesticides. Hopefully, they will say that they are prepared to work together with the rest of Canada and agree with this benefiting all the provinces.
Let us talk about some of the amendments proposed by the NDP to Canada’s Clean Air Act. Canadians want us to act immediately to reduce pollution so their families can breathe cleaner air and Canada can do its part in the international effort to combat climate change at a world-wide level.
Re-writing the ineffective and inadequate Bill C-30, an Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (Canada’s Clean Air Act) within a special legislative committee offers an important opportunity for Canada to get back on the road to reducing pollution and to combating climate change.
Once again, the NDP proposed the creation of a special legislative committee on the environment, on air quality, to study the Conservative bill so that we could deal with the problem immediately through this bill. A special committee would not have to follow the same procedures. So, in that sense, we could go faster. The NDP proposed that we could present amendments to the bill within 30 days.
Earlier, I listened to the Liberals telling us that Bill C-30 would do nothing to improve air quality in Canada. Unless I am completely mistaken, the opposition now forms a majority in the House of Commons and also on a special legislative committee. As a result, the opposition could present amendments to improve the bill so that it goes in the right direction.
We wanted to do that within 30 days to ensure that we had a bill before the budget is tabled in the House of Commons, because there could be a vote of non-confidence in the government after the budget is tabled. We wanted to be sure that the bill is through the House of Commons and sent to the Senate.
However, the other political parties, the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois decided to delay review of the bill until March 31, or after the budget. This position of the other parties is regrettable. The Conservative party wanted to hear 40 witnesses in committee, and the Liberals wanted more than 40 witnesses. I do not know how many witnesses the Bloc Québécois also wanted to call.
If we do not already know what we need to improve the bill, if in 30 days we could not review the bill and agree on what needs to be done, instead of playing politics, then we are missing the boat. That is my sincere belief.
With a new bill, Parliament can ensure significant and immediate action enabling Canadians to see improvements in the air they breathe throughout their lives, in addition to protecting the planet for their children and their grandchildren.
The NDP is proposing a series of detailed changes to Bill C-30, which again commits Canada to respecting its short-term commitments under the Kyoto protocol and ensures the development of an exhaustive plan for it to meet internationally recognized scientific objectives in the medium and long term.
The NDP will continue to seek comments and other amendments from environmental experts and Canadians both during the period leading up to the work by the special committee and while it is working.
The amendments proposed by the NDP are to impose, by legislative rather than regulatory means, short-, medium- and long-term targets for absolute reductions of greenhouse gases by requiring that Canada: meet the 2008-2012 target under the Kyoto protocol; ensure an 80% reduction, based on scientific research, of 1990 levels by 2050; achieve the interim five-year targets between 2015 and 2050; and impose, by means of legislation rather than declaration of intent, an earlier-than-expected timetable for regulation of the industrial sector. Such regulations should be put in place by 2008.
The NDP also asks that Canada: impose, through legislation rather than regulation, a fixed cap for greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial sector of at least 45 megatonnes a year; require, by legislation, the establishment of mandatory standards for air contaminants in the year following the adoption of this new law, in addition to a plan for complying with these standards, including mandatory emission standards for large industrial facilities; require, by legislation, an energy efficiency standard for vehicle fuel that comes close to that of leading North American jurisdictions, which will be published by 2008 and which will be in place for production year 2011, so that vehicle manufacturers have sufficient notice concerning the expiry of the voluntary agreement. This would be accompanied by a new authority for the government to establish a fair transition fund for the automobile sector.
The NDP also asks that, by legislation, the government set a carbon cap and establish a carbon-trading system in Canada and that it eliminate key tax incentives for the gas and oil sector, particularly the accelerated depreciation deduction given for tar sands development.
I think this is a very unfortunate situation for Canadians. A few weeks ago, I listened to a program in French on Radio-Canada about the research done in Alberta. Rivers there are polluted and this has posed a threat to an aboriginal community. It seems that the government is prepared to agree to increase oil production in western Canada by five times more than current production. We are told that production today, with current technology, causes an incredible amount of pollution.
We must therefore ask ourselves the following questions. Is the Conservative government serious? Is the Prime Minister of Canada, who is from Alberta, really serious? Will he do what is best for the environment? Will he take the requests of Canadians to heart and respond to them sincerely, with concrete action?
Here is an example of concrete action: in north-eastern New Brunswick, along the Baie-des-Chaleurs, and in the Gaspé near Matane, windmills have been built to generate electricity. That is one way of combating pollution. The area I come from is ideal for that.
People always say that politicians make promises that they never keep. I can promise that there will be plenty of wind for the rest of our days and for future generations. There will always be wind. That is a promise we can keep and windmills need wind.
What sort of investments has the government made so far to fight pollution and to help the environment? Whether we like it or not, we need light, electricity and resources. However, we could be doing more. What is the government doing to encourage so-called green cars, which do not pollute? What is it doing about that? We hear nothing about it and even if they do talk, the talk is not followed by action.
In my area, for example, there is a coal-fired power plant in Belledune. Why would the federal government not invest for the longer term in natural gas in northern New Brunswick? The cuts it made in EI benefits paid in that area amount to $85 million a year. It could invest that in the environment. These are concrete measures that would do good, create good jobs and be better for the environment than coal use.
Since the Bloc Québécois introduced the motion I would like to ask its permission to propose an amendment to promote cooperation in the interest of all Canadians.
I propose, seconded by the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie, the following amendment:
|| That the motion be amended by adding the word “minimum” before the word “sum”, and by adding immediately after the words “Kyoto Protocol targets”: “, and that, after negotiations, the Government of Canada should provide appropriate funds to all other Canadian provinces and territories to make the transition towards Kyoto”.
I would like to ask for the support of the Bloc to introduce that amendment.
Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, I have today the great pleasure to speak to a motion introduced by the leader of the Bloc Québécois which has to do with the Kyoto protocol. The motion proposes:
|| That, having recognized the principle of complying with the Kyoto targets, it is the opinion of this House that the government should provide the Government of Quebec with the sum of $328 million to enable it to implement its plan to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets.
We also took note of the amendment introduced by the NDP, the purpose of which was to indicate clearly that the $328 million is of course a minimum and that the government should also give the appropriate amounts to the other provinces that wish to embark on the fight against climate change.
I would say that the original Bloc motion plus the NDP amendment prove one thing. The first part of the motion refers to the fact that the principle of complying with the Kyoto protocol has been recognized in this House. What does that mean? First, it means that through the House of Commons and parliamentarians, we have taken strong action to send to the government the clear message that we want a credible plan for fighting climate change that incorporates the Kyoto targets.
I will remind you that last May, the Bloc Québécois tabled a motion calling on the government to table this credible plan incorporating the Kyoto protocol targets. The majority of members in this House—from the Bloc, the NDP and the Liberal Party—voted in favour. The principles of compliance with the Kyoto protocol that are included in the Bloc’s motion today are thus repeated, and we would like the majority of the House to repeat this support many times expressed by parliamentarians, in the Bloc Québécois motion in May, in Bill C-288 tabled by the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier, and again this week in an opposition motion calling for compliance with the Kyoto protocol.
However, the reality is quite different. Greenhouse gas emissions have risen 27% since 1990. So billions of dollars have been invested in Canada to fight climate change, but the results have not come. This means that, to comply with its Kyoto targets, as things now stand the government will have to reduce its emissions not just by 27%, but also by another 6% on top of that.
In my opinion, the results presented by the Conservative government in Nairobi—results that can be attributed to the Liberal efforts of recent years—must drive home to us the importance of changing our approach to combating climate change in Canada.
What is that approach? First of all, it is a voluntary approach which—if absolutely necessary, of course—would establish regulations, as proposed by the Liberal finance minister of the time, in a budget for example. But it was also an approach that would provide for regulations based on emission intensity.
What does that mean? It means that in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions imposed on industry, we would take production into consideration and not set a reduction target based on the total quantity of greenhouse gases produced by these different industrial sectors.
This approach which has been adopted by the federal government, both Liberal and Conservative, is nothing but a gain, a savings and an advantage for the oil companies and the big polluters.
We are calling on the government to base its greenhouse gas reductions and its emission targets for large industrial emitters on the total quantity discharged by the different industrial sectors. But the Conservative government, which has adopted the same policy as the previous government, an approach that is ineffective, inefficient and unfair, is perpetuating an approach that has not yielded the desired results in the battle against greenhouse gas emissions.
We are today proposing to change this approach, to adopt a territorial approach whereby the provinces would be asked to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in binding fashion, obliging them to cut emissions within their territory by 6%, while leaving them free to establish the plans, policies and programs they want.
The reason for doing this is quite simply because the energy policy of Quebec, which generates 95% of its power from hydroelectricity, is not the energy policy of Western Canada, which depends on hydrocarbons, oil sands and fossil fuels. The energy policy of Quebec is not that of Alberta. Neither is it the energy policy of Ontario, which has favoured coal in recent years, and more recently, nuclear power.
Therefore, since there is no common energy policy across Canada and since energy and natural resources are managed by the provinces, we must ensure that the provinces are involved.
Remember what the environment commissioner told us in her report on climate change programs. The provinces must be part of the solution because that is where electricity is produced, distributed and used.
The government must recognize today that we should stay away from a sectorial approach and adopt a territorial approach that will allow us to put in place an effective, efficient and fairer national policy with regard to climate change. Canada's problem in fighting climate change has nothing to do with the programs themselves, as they already exist, but it has to do with the fact that they are not adapted to the provinces' energy reality.
Tuesday, at the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, we heard from a prominent climate expert who is a professor at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. He told us, and I quote:
|| One of the reasons for Canada's failure is its desire to have the same approach for all the players, supposedly because it is more equitable, even though the situation is not the same for all the players.
Mr. Villeneuve also said:
|| It is clear that regional approaches are much more interesting since decisions regarding energy policies are made at the provincial level and natural resources are managed by the provinces.
Canada did commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 6%. But can we adopt a so-called common approach that would be tailored to each province, something similar to what Europe did?
In 1997, Europe committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 8%. That same year, Europe went to Kyoto with specific objectives and a territorial approach to meet that 8% target. Under that approach, its sovereign countries—there were 15 at the time—would have different targets where some could increase their emissions and others could reduce them, taking into account various parameters such as the climate, which has a considerable impact on energy consumption. The economic structure has to be taken into account.
Each country's energy policy and wind energy potential must be taken into account in the targets negotiated with these countries.
This is a flexible approach that would let Canada continue to demonstrate to the international community that it is determined to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet its international commitments. Canada could also reach agreements with its provincial partners in order to develop a more effective climate change policy.
The third demand is the carbon exchange. Companies and industrial sectors are just waiting for greenhouse gas emissions regulations.
The government told us that it was going to base its regulation of the industry on emission intensity. In other words, in setting a target for each industrial sector, it was going to take into account production and greenhouse gas emissions. This approach cannot work.
On the one hand, this approach is unfair to industry sectors that have made efforts in the past, such as the industrial sectors in Quebec. Meanwhile, industrial sectors in the rest of Canada have increased their emissions by over 20%, nearly 30% since 1990. The industrial sectors in Quebec have succeeded in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 7%.
Sector-based intensity targets would clearly penalize companies and industrial sectors that have made efforts in the past and can show progress in fighting climate change. Not only is this intensity-based approach to climate change unfair, but it clearly jeopardizes the implementation of a carbon exchange in Canada.
The government has to understand that if it wants to set up a carbon exchange, which we support and would like to see in Montreal—I know that there is some discussion as to whether the exchange will be in Montreal or Toronto—then we must set strict reduction targets. Intensity targets will complicate Canada's implementation of a carbon exchange, a special tool allowed under the Kyoto protocol so that countries can reach their greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.
This morning, the minister appeared in committee. I asked him whether he favoured a territorial approach or a carbon exchange. His response was clear. Quebec was asking for too much. That is what the Minister of the Environment said. He made it even more clear how little he understands the establishment of a carbon exchange. This morning he told us that Quebec could not call for a territorial approach as well as a carbon exchange. It is totally illogical.
How can the minister say such things when Europe has indicated it will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 8%? In Europe, the Kyoto protocol targets were divided territorially and the world’s most innovative carbon exchange established. It is so innovative that the Montreal climate exchange signed an agreement with the European carbon exchange, a side agreement to the conference on climate exchange in Montreal.
At the economic forum in Davos on January 25, the Premier of Quebec, it will be remembered, called for such an exchange to be established as quickly as possible.
What is the government waiting for then? The Montreal exchange is waiting for the federal government. All of Quebec is waiting for the Montreal exchange to be established to help improve Canada’s situation generally in the fight against climate change.
The government must commit as soon as possible to formulating regulations and targets for the industrial sector. It must let Quebec achieve the Kyoto protocol targets within the province and establish a carbon exchange.
There is a fourth element: the $328 million we are demanding from the government.
The minister told us in committee this morning that he was consulting, discussing and negotiating with the Government of Quebec for the $328 million. I have been the environment critic for years. I have seen a succession of ministers. I have seen them say no to Quebec over this significant transfer of $328 million. The former Liberal Minister of the Environment, the former Conservative minister and the current minister have all turned a deaf ear to Quebec’s demands, although it has a strategy for climate change.
With Quebeckers ready to commit public funds to meeting 72% of the Kyoto targets in Quebec’s plan of action we are asking Ottawa for some 30% only of the financial effort required to meet Kyoto targets, and time is a-wasting.
It is odd that when we discuss, here in this House, bills such as Bill C-48, which gives tax breaks to the oil industry, things move along more quickly, bills get passed and there is agreement.
I am talking about $250 million granted annually to the oil industry, according to the figures from the finance department. Let me quote some of them. The oil companies will have saved $55 million in 2003-04, $100 million in 2004-05 and $260 million in 2007-08.
Does anyone realize that the $328 million is the total for just two full fiscal years that the oil industry will have benefited from through Bill C-48? For 2007-08 alone, oil companies will save $260 million, while Quebec has been negotiating for years to get $328 million to meet Kyoto protocol targets.
We, on this side of the House, are saying that the policies of the Conservative government and of the Liberal government promote nothing less than a polluter-paid policy rather than a polluter-pay policy. This is an example. While the $328 million would be used to fund a plan to combat climate change in Quebec, the government is saying no, but saying yes to the oil companies. This does not make sense.
The government needs to acknowledge that the Kyoto protocol targets are, for the opposition in this House—including the Bloc Québécois, of course—a non negotiable objective. The government need not expect that we will negotiate on achieving the targets in the Kyoto protocol or its inclusion in Bill C-30. We want the Kyoto protocol targets to be part of Bill C-30. Let that be clear. We feel that a refusal by the government to include them would be nothing short of a slap in the face in the fight against climate change.
Finally, giving $328 million to Quebec has nothing to do with the tax incentives given to the oil industry. It has to do with fighting climate change and having a sustainable transportation policy in Quebec that is in line with Kyoto targets.
In closing, I hope members will consider this amended motion and vote in favour of it.
Mr. Jacques Gourde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the member for Louis-Hébert.
In many comments we hear in this House concerning the government's environmental agenda, and in particular its ecoenergy renewable initiative, there is little mention of what we are actually talking about.
I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the various kinds of renewable energy with which the government's legislation is concerned. Canada is blessed with abundant energy sources, both conventional and renewable. Conventional energy sources will continue to be a large part of Canada’s energy mix. Fossil fuels are a long way from becoming dispensable. However, the share of clean renewable energy in Canada's energy mix will continue to grow.
Renewable energy has been defined in many ways. Generally speaking, it means fuel sources that produce usable energy without depleting resources, as is the case with fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal.
Renewable energy has also come to mean low or zero emissions of air pollutants or greenhouse gases. In accordance with this commonly accepted definition, the main sources of renewable energy are water, biomass, wind, solar and earth energy.
Using more of these energy sources to improve the environment is basically using the environment to improve the environment. This is what the ecoenergy renewable initiative is attempting to do.
Let me focus for a moment on these various clean sources.
First, there is wind energy. The energy of the wind can be converted into mechanical energy or electricity. Wind energy is an infinitely renewable form of energy. It does not require fossil fuels, and it does not produce greenhouse gases or other air pollutants.
Although people have used wind energy for thousands of years, modern wind technologies provide reliable, cost-effective, pollution-free energy for individual, community and national applications.
In good wind areas, the costs of generating electricity range between 5 and 10 cents per kilowatt hour—higher than traditional electricity generation but decreasing every year. Most conventional generation costs continue to increase.
As of November 2006, Canada’s installed wind-energy capacity was 1,341 megawatts, enough to power more than 400,000 homes. Each megawatt-hour of electricity generated by wind energy helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants that would otherwise be produced by fossil fuel-based generation.
As for solar energy, there are many ways to transform sunlight into energy. However, the main kinds are solar panels that convert sunlight directly to electricity, or photovoltaic panels, and panels that absorb heat from the sun and transfer it as space heating or water heating.
Solar energy has a number of advantages. It does not emit air pollutants or greenhouse gases. The energy from the sun is virtually unlimited and largely free once the initial cost of the installation has been recovered. Solar photovoltaic energy systems can be stand-alone or connected to a power grid.
Hydro power uses energy from flowing water to generate electricity. Hydroelectric energy is Canada’s main source of electricity, most of which comes from large projects developed by electric utilities.
Today, more small-scale hydroelectric projects are being developed. These smaller projects are often classified as small, 1 to 30 megawatts, mini, 100 kilowatts to 1 megawatt, and micro, 100 kilowatts or less. Small-scale hydro projects take up little space and do not require the construction of dams, since the turbines are generally placed directly in the flowing stream. As a result, small-scale hydro projects are much less expensive than the traditionally large hydro projects that have involved massive amounts of earth moving and the construction of large facilities.
Small-scale hydro can be a competitive source of clean, reliable energy. It is an especially attractive alternative to traditional high-cost diesel generation that currently provides electricity in most of Canada’s remote communities.
Two types of energy can be obtained from the earth: earth energy and geothermal energy. Geothermal energy uses steam or hot water in the earth's crust to power turbines or to heat buildings or water. If the local geography has the right features, geothermal facilities can be installed to capture steam as it escapes from cracks or holes underground. Geothermal energy requires a source temperature of more than 100°C to drive a generating turbine.
Earth energy uses the relatively constant temperature of the earth below ground or below a body of water to cool or heat air and water for buildings. For example, a heat pump can extract heat from underneath the ground to heat a building. In the summer, the pump can be reversed to provide air conditioning by moving hot air out of the building and down into the ground.
There are thousands of earth-energy installations in Canada that are used for residential, commercial, institutional and industrial applications. Depending on the source of electricity used to run the system’s components, an earth-energy system can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than two-thirds compared to similar systems that use fossil fuels.
Bioenergy is produced by the release of chemical energy contained in fuels made from biomass. Biomass is stored solar energy in plants and many common waste products such as wastes from agriculture, forestry, municipal landfills and food processing. Biomass can supply heat, electricity and vehicle fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.
Achieving an increased contribution of these inexhaustible energy sources to Canada's grid is what the government's ecoenergy renewable initiative is about. In particular, the government's investment of $1.48 billion in one renewable program, ecoenergy for renewable power, aims to boost Canada's supply of renewable electricity by 4,000 megawatts.
We have discussed today the many opportunities provided by new technologies. Soon—in the short, medium or long term—Canada will have to intensify efforts in research and development to develop new sources of renewable energy so that future generations can benefit from new energy sources and supplies, allowing us to diversify. That is very important because all members of this House, including the Bloc members, I am sure, realize that fossil energies will become limited in years to come. It is very important to any seriously environment-minded government to pursue efforts to ensure that more Canadians have access to our stable and, more importantly, renewable energy resources.
If we want to rely on our environment and to have a clean and healthy environment for future generations—we can certainly not do without energy altogether—this government thinks that renewable energies are important, as one long term alternative to provide future generations with heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, lighting and a good life in our great and beautiful country.
Mr. Luc Harvey (Louis-Hébert, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the government recognizes that global warming poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of Canadians.
The recent report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) raised the alarm yet again. The time has come to recognize that scientific support for fighting climate change has grown over the years.
I would like to make three points briefly: first, the scientific basis for mitigating climate change is well founded; second, we are already seeing the effects of climate change; third, we must be ready to deal with other effects in the years to come. Some of these effects are inevitable, and we will have to adapt.
When we look at the science of climate change, we cannot fail but notice that climate experts from the world over agree on a number of points. First, the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing. Since the start of the industrial revolution, concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased from 280 parts per million to nearly 380 parts per million—an increase of 35%. This figure is higher than any figure collected from ice cores, data which date back several hundreds of thousands of years. Scientists have concluded without a doubt that the increase in carbon dioxide is the result of human activity, primarily the consumption of fossil fuels, which releases annually thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxides, have also increased considerably over the same period. We also know that concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will continue to climb. In the case of carbon dioxide—CO2—the figure will be some 2 parts per million per year unless we do something to cut our emissions. This is why the new government intends to act. As the Prime Minister said on February 6, the government will regulate atmospheric pollution from the major industrial sectors for the first time. It will also regulate the energy efficiency of motor vehicles for the first time starting with 2011 models. Furthermore, for the very first time, the government will make regulations for the short, medium and long terms. These measures will benefit all the provinces in Canada, including Quebec.
Scientists also agree that the temperatures of the earth’s surface have increased by some 0.7 degrees Celsius over the past century. Recent decades have been the hottest in several hundred years, and the 1990s were the hottest decade in the past one hundred years, with 1998 being the hottest year on record. This evidence indicates clearly the recent temperature increases are very unusual.
As my colleague from Simcoe—Grey pointed out last week, the increases in temperatures we are experiencing have resulted in changes, such as fewer icebergs; infestations of mountain pine beetles, which have had a disastrous impact on the BC forest industry; the drought in recent years on the Prairies, which has cost the farm economy billions of dollars; extreme weather conditions on the west coast in recent months and an early but exceptionally mild winter on the east coast. Although these phenomena cannot be attributed individually to climate change, they are however in keeping with scientists’ forecasts on the potential for other extreme weather phenomena.
What can we expect in the future, according to the scientific community? First, we can expect greenhouse gas concentrations to continue to rise, to double, even triple, before the end of the century. To avoid these increases, drastic measures will have to be taken to reduce our emissions. That is why Canada’s new government will see that greenhouse gas emissions are regulated in the main industrial sectors. The age of voluntary compliance is over: I would emphasize that fact.
Second, having applied sophisticated digital climate system models to a spectrum of possible future greenhouse gas trajectories, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that we can expect the temperature of the earth to increase several degrees by 2100.
That sort of temperature increase, at that sort of speed, has never been seen in the past 10,000 years. Note that this period is one of the most relevant to us, for this is the period when human civilization evolved.
As I was saying earlier, the concerns are not limited to changes in average temperature: there is also the greater frequency and severity of extreme meteorological conditions and phenomena, such as floods, droughts, heat waves and winter and summer storms.
Given the changes already observed and the changes we can foresee, it is clear that we have to take the necessary steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. It is also imperative that we start preparing ourselves for the changes to come, start preparing to adapt. Since greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for many decades, even after emissions are reduced, we will have to face other changes of climate and we will have to put in place the measures necessary to adapt to those changes.
In summary, the Government of Canada is extremely concerned by climate change, and recognizes that there is sufficient evidence to justify the adoption of tough measures for confronting the problem and beginning to manage the risks posed by climate change.
The new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provides conclusive additional evidence that the climate has changed, that human activity is the cause, and that we can expect unprecedented changes in the future.
It is imperative that we take the necessary measures immediately, and that is what the new government is doing. The children of Canada, the children of Quebec, deserve to grow up in a world where they can breathe clean air and drink clean water. In short, as the Prime Minister said, Canadians and Quebeckers will be able to enjoy a country that is cleaner, greener and healthier.
Mr. André Bellavance (Richmond—Arthabaska, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Brome—Missisquoi.
I am pleased to take part in this important debate on the environment. It is a wide-ranging subject, but with this motion, we have decided to focus on Quebec's specific request. The Government of Quebec has long been calling on the federal government to provide it with $328 million so that it can meet its Kyoto protocol targets.
To remind hon. members exactly what we are talking about, I will read the motion, because we were treated to 20 minutes of rather academic speeches. I could see that you were very interested in what was said, Mr. Speaker. I felt that, for two government members, they did not outline any very concrete measures, although they did tell us that climate change was very important. We already know this, but I would have expected them to answer the question that was just asked—are they going to vote for or against the motion?—especially since they are government members from Quebec. Will they vote for this motion to give the Government of Quebec the $328 million it is owed, to help it implement its plan to comply with Kyoto? The motion reads as follows:
|| That, having recognized the principle of complying with the Kyoto targets, it is the opinion of this House that the government should provide the Government of Quebec with the sum of $328 million to enable it to implement its plan to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets.
This motion is crucial to Quebec, which already has its own green plan, as hon. members know, but which lacks that sum of $328 million that will allow it to reach its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels.
I come from the Bois-Francs area, which has long been known as a cradle for sustainable development. It is the birthplace of Normand Maurice, who is the father of recycling and recovery. This region is where the Lemaire family is from; they set up the Industries Cascades. As you can see, I am acutely aware that I am representing a region and a population that have long understood the importance of the environment and, likewise, sustainable development.
As elsewhere in Quebec, the people in my region support the fight against climate change. I want to remind hon. members that a survey conducted just a few days ago, at the end of January, for The Globe and Mail and CTV, showed that nearly 80% of Quebeckers find that the government must make the necessary efforts to meet the Kyoto protocol targets. I imagine that the predecessors of the Conservative government who responded to the survey were not part of this 80%, but, in fact, a majority of Quebeckers understand the situation and want governments to take action.
While it has become fashionable to claim to want to protect the environment, I would like to remind hon. members of the work done by the Bloc Québécois, its environment critic in particular, the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who I commend. While listening to him earlier, I realized how effective his educational work is. His explanations and actions spell out the situation quite clearly and show us why the Government of Quebec is making this request. He drives a hybrid car. I think it is important to point out that he may not put the pedal to the metal, but he can drive at a respectable enough speed while saving fuel and protecting the environment at the same time. Far from slamming on the brakes, my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie has done a tremendous amount of work in this House. Without him, we would be far from where we are today on a number of bills and measures. I wish to acknowledge the work he has done here.
I was a candidate in 2000 and, even then, the Bloc Québécois electoral platform emphasized the need to implement measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Again today, the Bloc Québécois is proposing tough greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles, discounts on the purchase of ecological vehicles, significant financial support for development of renewable energy sources—especially wind power—and an end to the tax system that favours the oil companies. The Conservative member from the Quebec region who spoke earlier seemed to be quite offended that we are calling for abolition of a tax system that favours the oil companies, as though those people could not survive these days. It is a little bit like saying that perhaps we should be helping the banks and giving them subsidies. It is the same principle. We also are proposing funding for organizations that contribute to the achievement of the Kyoto protocol targets.
That is what the Bloc Québécois is calling for in its platform. We are where we are today because of my colleague, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, who has worked for so long, and obviously the whole Bloc Québécois team and its members, meeting in convention, who have recognized for a long time how important the environment is for all of us.
Once again today, I am proud to carry the colours of a party that so ardently defends the need to take real measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to achieve the Kyoto protocol targets through concrete actions, as I have said, such as putting forward this motion.
It is not enough to put on a green scarf at a leadership convention to suddenly become a great defender of the environment, as the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada did. We all remember that image. We said that all of a sudden he was a “green” man. His scarf was green, but as for the rest, we must look at the actions that have been taken.
It was under his stewardship, while he was Minister of the Environment, that greenhouse gas emissions in Canada increased by 24%. I am talking about the time since 1993 because, earlier, my colleague spoke of an increase of 27% since 1990. It seems to me that to date, since the Liberals came to power, we have had a 24% increase in greenhouse gas emissions while the Kyoto target, as I recall, was a reduction of 6%. It is a disaster, a monumental failure. Yes, you can put on a green scarf. That might protect you against the cold; but that does not make you a great defender of the environment. The voluntary approach of the Liberals is a failure.
What is there to say about the Conservative government? Elected just over a year ago, it presented its five priorities—as we all recall—but the environment was not one of them.
As agriculture critic, I often speak with farmers about all the things that are going on in the House of Commons. I tell them often that this government has five priorities. The priorities of the entire population of Quebec people and the entire population of Canada are not necessarily the priorities of the Conservative government. It talks of law and order, and of all manner of things, but not of agriculture or the environment. In campaigning for election, I often tell the people of my riding “Your priorities are my priorities, and I will transmit those priorities on your behalf to the House of Commons.” I cannot understand how a government can be so insensitive as not to grasp that the priorities of the population must be its priorities, because its members represent the population. They were sent here for a reason: to represent the population.
As has been said, with reference to the supporting survey, the public has long been prepared and long been aware of how important it is to deal with climate change. That, however, was not a priority for the government in place, the self-proclaimed “new government”. The new aspect was that the environment is not a priority. If something like that were a new product on the market, I can tell you that it would not exactly be flying off the store shelves.
As a result of the polls just referred to, of public opinion, of the work of the Bloc Québécois and the work of the other opposition parties—also needing to be mentioned—the Prime Minister has just added the environment to his priorities. High time too, considering this government was sworn in a little over a year ago. All of a sudden, they are saying the environment is a priority. I do not know how sincere this is. It is a bit suspect, particularly when it comes to actions actually taken to make the environment a true priority.
We still need to act, as other industrial countries have done. Germany and the United Kingdom come to mind. My hon. colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie is certainly in a better position than I am to talk about what is happening elsewhere, for example in Europe. I do know, however, even if I am less of an expert than he is in this area, that some industrialized countries have been able to meet the Kyoto targets after signing the protocol. So why not us? Often, one compares oneself to console oneself, but here in Canada, that is not at all the case. Political will is needed, to truly invest in the fight against climate change. That is what must be done. That is what certain countries have done.
Economically speaking, the recent report prepared by Nicholas Stern, the former World Bank chief economist, recommends that every country should immediately invest up to 1% of its GDP in the fight against climate change in order to avoid future economic losses that could exceed $7,000 billion world-wide. It is hard to even imagine such a figure. That is a sum 20 times higher than the cost needed to reverse the trends. So, let us reverse the trends, because that will cost a lot less than sitting here with our arms crossed and both feet on the brakes, as suggested earlier by a Conservative colleague, referring to us.
I think he was merely projecting. It is the Conservative government, rather, that is slamming on the brakes when it comes to the environment.
Why can other countries do it, but not ours? Yet, Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol in 2002. As I was saying, both the Liberals and the Conservatives have failed. Their inaction is shaming us on the international stage. Quebec has a plan. It needs $328 million more, which the Liberals and Conservatives refuse to give.
Quebec wants to implement a plan that suits its situation. If the federal government is serious about its desire to reduce greenhouse gases, the Bloc Québécois calls on the government to take a simple but effective action: vote in favour of this motion and give $328 million to the Quebec government.
Mr. Christian Ouellet (Brome—Missisquoi, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to remind my colleagues from Louis-Hébert and from Beauport—Limoilou that they ought perhaps to start by reading the wording of the motion. Even if my colleagues have repeated the motion, they still appear to be speaking about something else. Yet this motion is what we want to talk about today. We want to know whether respecting the objectives of the Kyoto protocol will include the $328 million that Quebec needs to implement that protocol. We are not asking whether or not they are in favour of the Kyoto protocol. We want the agreement respected, and we want the $328 million transferred to Quebec. That is the point.
Of course, one could go back in time and say that the Liberals are as blameworthy as the Conservatives in this situation. The nation of Quebec has made different choices than the rest of Canada, and these choices must be respected. They were made a very long time ago. We consider Quebec to be the nation that has always promoted the Kyoto protocol, right from the get go.
Now I will respond to the member for Louis-Hébert and his recent comments on China. Let us recall how the Kyoto protocol was reached. In order to come into effect, it needed to be ratified by 55 countries, or ones representing 55% of total greenhouse gas emissions according to 1990 levels.
There are, therefore, four categories of country as far as Kyoto protocol commitments are concerned. There are the ones that have done nothing, like the U.S. and Australia which have signed but never ratified. We will come back to the reasons for that later. Then there are those that have ratified and made commitments to reduce, like Canada, Germany, Japan, Europe and so on. Lastly, there are the countries that have ratified—I do mean to say ratified—but that are not required to take any measures for the first period only, from 2008 to 2010. These are China, India and Brazil, which have also ratified the Kyoto protocol and will make a commitment to it.
The power plants will not have been built by 2010 anyway. China will definitely be seeking and finding new technologies in order to avoid greenhouse gas emissions, because it is going to respect the agreements it has signed.
As I said, it was very hard for Canada to accept this Kyoto protocol agreement. Luckily Quebec has always been the nation to exert pressure on Canada. Otherwise we are convinced that we would not even be this far yet. But all the industrialized countries have implemented it.
In February 2003, Tony Blair said it was clear that Kyoto is not radical enough. Those were his words. And the Conservatives admire what England does. Its objective is a 60% reduction by 2050, but unlike the Conservatives, England began to take action as soon as this announcement was made. Consequently it will have to take significant measures in the areas of transportation, industry and building.
In 2004 Tony Blair returned to the charge, saying that reductions would be stepped up, that they were going further. That led to the elimination of non-sustainable policies. All the policies adopted by the government thought to be non-sustainable, inconsistent with sustainable development, were going to be eliminated starting in 2004.
The Prime Minister prefers to align himself with Bush rather than Quebec or Blair. In the summer of 2005, Bush won a very important vote to stop a decisive law, and he went on listening to the anti-Kyoto lobbyists. Bush sought support for his pro-oil designs. So we can see where the Prime Minister’s influence came from in 2006. In fact he was influenced by Mr. Bush in 2005.
The scientific uncertainty has not been an issue for a long time now. This is no longer something that people can use. We often hear the Conservatives say that it is not known for sure whether scientists agree on the subject. The detractors always use this argument, saying that we do not know exactly how long it will be before global temperatures rise. That is true, but only the detractors use this argument. One thing is certain, and it is that climate change has begun. Whether we are talking about global warming of 2o, 3o or 4o does not matter. What matters is knowing that climate change will affect civilization, our way of living, and much more than terrorism. Quebeckers are convinced of this.
By dithering, the government is slowing us down. The hypothesis that warmer temperatures will bring benefits is a myth. That is what we heard, though, a while ago, from the members on the other side of the House. By going from 550 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere to 700 ppm of CO2, the changes will be there in any case. Our way of living and our civilization will be affected. That is what Quebec believes.
The oil lobby is the great promoter of this myth, and it influences the Prime Minister and his cabinet. That influences even the Quebec members who are willing to vote with the rest of Canada in favour of oil development. This is where it becomes obvious that the Quebec Conservatives do not have any power. They only appear to be in power. In reality, they just vote the way the cabinet tells them. They do not vote how the vast majority of Quebeckers want them to. Quebeckers want the Kyoto protocol implemented. Even the federalist Liberal government in Quebec wants it. The Conservatives, though, will vote against it. Is that what being in power means for Quebec Conservatives? If so, it is pretty bad.
The oil industry started criticizing the Kyoto protocol in April 1998. The first Kyoto protocol agreement was signed in 1997. That was when oil industry lobbyists put their first ad in the New York Times. Millions of dollars were invested and new research institutes, such as the George C. Marshall Institute, the Cato Institute, the Friends of Science and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, sprang up and hired scientists to disparage Kyoto. Their influence was felt in Canada. Other scientists were trained here in Canada to persuade people that oil is very important for life on this planet. The Standing Committee on Natural Resources still welcomes these lobbyists, who say that oil is synonymous with Canada’s survival and greenhouse gases do not matter.
These institutes found scientists who were heavily paid to become detractors. They succeeded, because the Conservatives see in them a plot against Kyoto. The Liberals too did not transfer the necessary funds to Quebec. So they are kind of similar.
Last spring on May 3, 2006, the Washington Post rejoiced over the cuts Canada was making to its programs to reduce greenhouse gases, claiming that Canada was getting the message of the oil industry lobby and was going over the heads of its people. That is why we lost a year. Quebec lost a year in the implementation of its program because the $328 million did not flow. One year with nothing new in Quebec. One year without more energy efficiency. One year without promoting clean energy. One year in which Quebec had to be pulling back on the reins. The Bush lobby and the oil lobby lost Quebec a year. Will this government now be responsible to Quebec?
Hon. Shawn Murphy (Charlottetown, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be given the opportunity to speak today on this particular motion. I will be voting yes to the motion with a caveat or a reservation. I will develop that reservation in my remarks. Climate change and the Kyoto accord are very important issues and I do appreciate the opportunity to say a few words.
There has been a lot said in the House and outside the House on the whole issue of climate change and Kyoto, and whether this country should continue in its efforts to meet the Kyoto accord. As an assembly we have to sit back and look at the whole thing in perspective and the background of this accord.
The Kyoto accord was signed by well over 100 different countries. It is an international treaty. It took approximately 10 years to develop the accord. The accord involved a lot of time, energy, effort and resources. I would equate it to herding a hundred cats into a room. Then, after the tremendous effort of many international players, there was an accord signed and certain greenhouse gas emission targets were agreed upon on a worldwide basis. The accord has to be implemented on a worldwide basis.
It was hoped at the time that the accord would not pit country versus country, industry against industry, developed parts of the world versus the developing parts of the world, and the rural areas of the various countries against the urban areas, but everyone would put their shoulder to the wheel and be involved. It was hoped that everyone would support the accord and, as a result, greenhouse gases would be reduced.
There has been a lot of talk over the years about Kyoto. There has been a lot of talk in the House. I submit that it is no longer debatable. We have moved beyond debate. The science is clear that this is a very serious issue that has to be resolved by the people living on this planet that we call Earth.
However, we do still have naysayers in this country and in North America. I was reading a poll not that long ago and on a Canada-wide basis approximately 5% of people do not believe in the concept of climate change and Kyoto. However, 11% of the population still believe Elvis is alive.
George Bush is one of those naysayers. To the shame of this country our Prime Minister is one of those people that does not believe in the Kyoto accord. It is documented by the record that the Prime Minister spent his entire working life fighting or in his words “going to the wall” against this particular accord. This was the fight of his life. The Prime Minister went out and he raised thousands and thousands of dollars to assist him and his party on this fight of his life. He promised that he would not implement the Kyoto accord. This was a solemn promise that he made to the Canadian people.
When Canadians look back I think they can say that our Prime Minister has attained a reasonable amount of success in this promise. There are many promises that have not been fulfilled to the Canadian people, whether it is child care, wait times, the Ontario agreement, income trusts, the equalization agreements and so forth. The pile is getting bigger. On the issue of climate change I think we can put it down as a promise made and a promise delivered. He promised he would not implement it and the first thing the Prime Minister did when was sworn in as our Prime Minister was that he revoked our commitment to the Kyoto accord. He said that the country would turn its back to the Kyoto accord and the international agreements that Canada made.
We as people who make public policy have to realize that there are so many levers at our disposal. There is no switch here in Ottawa where we can turn the temperature down. We have to use all the levers at our disposal.
I have always thought that the first lever that has to be started is public education. We have to convince the public, and I think that has probably been done, that this is a serious issue and that it warrants a very serious effort on our part.
We also have to incentivize our industries, people, associations and organizations to get involved, especially those industries and people that need assistance in adapting their industries, jobs and lives to the new reality.
Under the previous government, a number of programs were developed. One that was in the process of being implemented was the partnership program. It was a government to government cost sharing initiative to invest in technologies and infrastructure development important in lowering levels of greenhouse gases. I am talking about an initiative that was federal government to provincial government and also federal government to municipal government. I am talking of clean coal technology, carbon dioxide capture and storage, ethanol, and the creation of an east to west energy grid.
A number of agreements were signed under the partnership program, but let me go on to the third point. Governments of course have the right, and the obligation too, I submit, to legislate and to regulate so that we as a country meet our commitments. We have to do it.
There have been discussions recently about the Alberta energy industry, the car industry, different industries, and the coal industry in Canada and worldwide, but we have to get beyond that. Everyone has to be involved in this process. If there is oil that is drilled in the province of Saskatchewan, refined in Alberta and goes into a car that is made in Ontario and is being driven in Quebec, we cannot divide that up into four or five different provinces. This is a countrywide problem that we have to solve on a countrywide basis. We have to get beyond that particular discussion.
To go back to the partnership program agreement, I thought at the time that it was an excellent agreement, because this is one of the levers. A lot of the initiatives that have to come about to solve this particular problem have to be at the provincial and municipal levels, and this was an incentive. They were going to take advantage of this. The province of Ontario took advantage of it. It signed an agreement. It was a government to government agreement whereby Ontario and the Government of Canada signed an agreement--and not the Liberal government but the Government of Canada--for $538 million to eliminate certain coal-powered stations over the next couple of years.
The province where I come from signed an agreement to put in an electrical cable from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. Again, that was all part of this east-west energy grid that would have helped us out immensely, but what happened after the present government got in? First it cancelled our commitment to the Kyoto accord. More seriously, it went ahead and cancelled 92% of all programs dealing with climate change. Of course the Ontario agreement, the $538 million, went on the chopping block, and then there was the $12 million. These were signed agreements. The cable also went on the chopping block, very unfortunately.
The motion before us talks about $328 million. I am going to get to my reservation or caveat. We are talking about $328 million going to the province of Quebec to implement its plan to meet the Kyoto targets. I assume it would be the intent of the mover of the motion that this fund would come from the partnership initiative or a similar type of program whereby we can have government to government agreements, but, and this is my caveat, that this has to meet with the objectives of the Governments of Canada and Quebec.
Having said that, I have extreme confidence in the province of Quebec and I have confidence in the people who live in Quebec. They seem to be ahead of the curve on this particular issue. They have done a lot and I believe they certainly understand the issue clearly. They understand what has to be done and it would appear from everything we read and everything we hear that they are prepared to do it.
On that basis, I am certainly prepared to support the motion. I hope the motion passes, but I also hope the finance minister does not just cut a cheque. The funds would have to be for a certain agreed upon program that is developed between the province of Quebec and Canada, which I am totally confident will be developed very quickly.
I have talked about the broad brushes here and am very pleased to be supporting the motion, but again, we are talking about a larger issue, and the way this country is heading is very disturbing. I am very disturbed as a member of Parliament about what we are not doing with respect to this particular accord. We are getting into a shouting match. It is 1:40 p.m. now and in 40 minutes members will be shouting and screaming at each other in the House as to who is to blame. Some members will be screaming that we cannot implement Kyoto because we cannot meet our targets. Some members will scream back and say that we can.
However, this is a process. If, because of political issues or other reasons, the country cannot meet its targets, we do not turn our back on the people who live here. We do not turn our back on the world. We do not turn our back on the other countries. We explain it to the 100 and some countries that signed the agreement with us. It is a process. Maybe it will take us two years beyond 2012 to meet our agreed upon targets. That would be disappointing, but it would not be the end of the world. What would be more disappointing and shameful would be for us to say that we cannot meet the targets by 2012 so we will forget about them.
It would be disappointing and shameful to say that we are going to forget about Kyoto and climate change, to say that we are prepared to turn our back on the other countries and the people who live in those countries. I find that totally shameful.
We will be into that discussion in 40 minutes. To the shame of this assembly, in 40 minutes we are going to hear the words I have just mentioned, because members are going to be pointing fingers and screaming at each other. I suggest that we stop screaming for 10 minutes. I suggest that we just sit back and, instead of pointing fingers, say that whatever we can do, we will do.
First of all, we have to acknowledge the international agreement that we signed in good faith with 100-plus other countries. That has to be the condition precedent to any discussion. If we are not prepared to do that, then we are a shameful country. I hope reason and common sense will prevail in this House. I hope that we will sign the agreement, get to work and do what, first, we agreed to do and, second, what we should do.
Those are my remarks. I hope the motion passes. I hope the funding will be made available to the province of Quebec. As I said before, I have extreme confidence in the province on this particular issue. Again, this is just one small step in the larger issue, but I hope we can get on with it. I hope the motion passes and the plans develop, and I hope the funds are transferred as soon as possible.
Mr. Marcel Lussier (Brossard—La Prairie, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.
Although Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol on December 17, 2002, after a majority vote in the House of Commons, and the government thereby committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by 6% from the 1990 level between 2008 and 2012, Canada's record on greenhouse gas emissions is not a glowing one.
In 2004, Canada emitted 26% more greenhouse gases. To reach the target of 6% less than 1990, Canada will have to eliminate over 200 megatonnes of greenhouse gases, or nearly 32.5%. Liberals and Conservatives are both to blame for this sorry situation.
Quebec itself has made very different choices. Between 1990 and 2004, it experienced an increase of barely 6% in its greenhouse gases, four times less than the Canadian national average. Quebec continues to show leadership, with its plan to combat climate disturbances, which incorporates all of the targets in the Kyoto agreement.
The greenhouse gas emissions picture is often cited. Quebec still holds the record when it comes to greenhouse gases, in terms of the minimum produced per capita. It produces approximately 12 tonnes per capita, about half the Canadian average. If we exclude Quebec, for what is called the ROC, the rest of Canada, that 23.7 tonnes per capita average climbs to 27.2 tonnes.
While greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec were rising by barely 6%, they grew by 39% in Alberta, and by 61% in Saskatchewan. It is often said that the decision to opt for hydroelectric energy has contributed greatly to Quebec's enviable performance. The collective choices made by the public, by their industries and by the National Assembly, however, are also contributors.
Emissions from Quebec manufacturing industries fell by 7% from 1990 to 2002. The pulp and paper industry reduced its emissions by 18%. The Quebec inventory of greenhouse gases in 2002 illustrates how emissions are distributed in Quebec by industry. We see that the transportation industry is the largest source of emissions, representing 38% of total emissions in Quebec. Road transportation alone accounts for 85% of emissions in the transportation industry, which is why it is important for Quebeckers to target motor vehicles, our dependence on oil and public transit.
Currently, with regard to public transportation in the immediate region of Montreal, there are feasibility studies on three major projects. First, on the North Shore, there is a rapid commuter train that links Montreal to the region of Terrebonne-Repentigny-Mascouche and which is at a little more advanced stage than the two others. Indeed, the government has already committed $300 million to solve this problem.
Quebeckers are asking for $328 million, and we see already that the money will almost certainly be totally spent on the Montreal-Mascouche commuter train.
Our minister and senator recently came to us with a new project to link downtown Montreal and the Montreal-Trudeau airport, in Dorval. The minister and senator probably has in his pockets some interesting amounts for public transportation.
In my area, the riding of Brossard—La Prairie also has its pre-feasibility studies. Our Minister of Transport could probably tell us more about this project. There is a plan for light rail on the boom of Champlain bridge. The pre-feasibility studies are completed. We are waiting for the results. All the chambers of commerce on the South Shore are anxious to see these results.
A few months ago, the cost of this project was estimated at $1.2 billion. Once again, we see that it would be very easy for the Quebec government to invest in public transportation. There are three projects that would easily reach $1 billion, I would even say $2 billion, if we include all the infrastructures and all the structures to cross the St. Lawrence River. Public transportation is very important in Quebec.
Quebec is trying to free itself from its oil dependency. Here are a few numbers randomly chosen. In 1962, 67% of energy needs were filled with fossil fuels. With the big hydroelectric projects, that percentage was reduced to the point where, in 1981, our oil dependency had dropped to 53%.
In 2002, that percentage fell to 38% thanks to the increase in hydroelectricity production in Quebec. The reduction of our dependency on oil is mainly attributable to the implementation of programs like EnerGuide and the shift towards electric heating.
In 2005, Quebec consumed 200 million barrels of oil a year. We want to reduce that consumption by at least 20% by 2016. So, it is very important that the $328 million we are demanding from the federal government be directed toward public transit. The government must act swiftly and make public the studies the Agence métropolitaine du transport spent $12 million on.
There is a project that is of particular interest to me and that has become a priority for the population of Montreal's South Shore. It concerns highway 10, which has reached its full capacity. Every day, the population must cope with traffic congestion on the Champlain bridge. A light train could transport 20,000 people an hour and reduce the number of cars using the bridge by about 8,000.
In fact, the addition of a train would bring enormous savings for the area. Furthermore, the time lost by workers is estimated at $1 billion every year.
I urge our Minister of Transport to invest in public transit as soon as possible and not 10 years from now, after two or three further elections.