Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I just want to take a moment to present this amendment. Through this amendment we are trying to again help refine the whole question of energy efficiency standards for the country and for energy-using products, and at the same time not just refine but bolster the need for us to move more forthrightly and more aggressively on energy efficiency, given the competitive nature of the planet now as we move toward a more carbon-constrained future.
What we've done is we've added at the bottom of page 32, for those members who are following in Bill itself, subsection (4), to call on the government within one year after the day this subsection comes into force to make regulations establishing energy efficiency standards for all energy-using products. We've applied two conditional expressions to all of those energy-using products, those that have a significant or those that have an increasing impact on energy consumption in Canada.
We believe this would help us--and particularly when we speak about energy-using products that might have an increasing impact on energy consumption in Canada--identify emerging sectors, emerging products even, that are particularly high-energy-consuming products in the Canadian marketplace. That might be the IT sector or laptops or PCs. We're not prejudging what those would be, but we would like to see regulations established on that front within one year.
A second thing we've added--again in order to increase environment accountability, this time energy efficiency accountability--is we asked that the standards that are set in subsection (3) be reviewed by the government at least once every three years to make sure that the levels of energy consumption that are provided for are at least equal to the levels set by the most stringent standards in all jurisdictions of North America.
It also reflects the fact that of course our connection with the North American marketplace is strong. Our manufacturing connection is strong, and in fact it helps Canada lead North America by racing to the top. So if a jurisdiction, say South Dakota, were looking at energy consumption standards that were slightly higher than what is the case in Canada now, we might look to those. It doesn't prejudge which jurisdiction in North America might pull the country forward. Again, it's predicated not on a notion but on the reality that the race is on, and those manufacturers of white goods, for example, those manufacturers of any energy-using product now understand the carbon-constrained future we are evolving into.
We believe this would help government standards catch up to what is already clearly going on in the marketplace, and hence this is what amendment L-29.1 is all about, Mr. Chair.
I agree with the intent of the amendment. The fact is we're already implementing a comprehensive regime of minimum energy efficiency standards to cover over 80% of appliances and equipment energy use in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. We've already announced plans to regulate 20 new products, to increase the stringency of standards for 10 more over the next four years, and, through a consultation process, to prepare to consider products that have not been identified yet.
My question is to the department, Ms. Buckley. We want to respect due process, but we do support the spirit and the intent of the amendment. To respect due process, the recommendation is that we have a one-year timeframe. It would be within one year of the act's coming into force.
Is that a realistic timeframe, considering the consultation that's necessary?
Yes, it is the usual practice to consult provincial ministries.
My apologies, but I will answer in English. I am more sure of myself in that language.
We consult. That's part of the time it takes to do 30 regulations, not in one year but in four years. On each regulation we consult with our provincial and territorial colleagues respecting their own jurisdiction over energy efficiency regulations. Some of them have them and some of them don't. We want to make sure they align their regulations with our own so that we don't have patches in Canada that have different regulations, which is very difficult for consumers and for the producers of some of these products.
So we certainly cooperate with them. It may not be evident in the bill itself, but it's certainly part of how we implement the bill. In fact, we've just had a very significant consultation on regulations this past week, including representatives of most of the provinces.
Subject to seeing the exact words, we're open to that friendly amendment.
Ms. Buckley, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but your concerns were not about our new subsection 20(4), which is that we have a review once every three years. That was not the problem. We're now trying to figure out what is a reasonable amount.
Again, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but you don't object to the principles of extending this exercise to try to capture some of the emerging sources.
A voice: [Inaudible--Editor]
Hon. John Godfrey: Okay. So I guess what it comes to is, to what extent is there a resource problem at your end, or is there just a process problem out there? Is there a little of each?
There's only so much your folks can do in a certain amount of time, but then when you mix in the council of ministers and so on, it starts to get more complicated. So can you can give me the balance between your resource problems and process problems?
We want an ambitious target, like Mr. Warawa, but we don't want unreasonable targets. So we need to find out if the problem is at our end or with the people we talk to.
It sounds as though there are going to be some positive changes to this through the consultation.
To get specific on the timeline aspect, I appreciate Ms. Buckley's comments on the ability and the speed at which we can do this. I'm more curious about.... I assume her department is in ongoing conversations with industry about various regulations and standards that the government has proposed in the past or is thinking about proposing in the future.
My question is direct. Given the resources you need, and thinking back to when we were dealing with clause 42 about the conversations you're having with industry right now about some other proposed regulations, in a sense, you're not starting from a standstill. There are people on staff; there are liaisons and connections to industry. What would be your ideal timeline, keeping in mind that nothing happens without a deadline, it seems, around this place?
You've said that four years is one potential and one year is impossible. Do you have recommendations? Do we have experience where we've been able to make regulations in an urgent manner? I wouldn't want to leave it entirely to the whims of other priorities that come up. If this were given proper priority and proper resourcing, would a couple of years be sufficient to do it?
I would agree with all of the members that technology is obviously our best option, and this is a low-hanging fruit that could bring some real benefits to Canada.
I agree with Mr. Bigras in relation to the consultation with other governments, but—I say in a positive light—the reality is that as soon as we add that to it, the Supreme Court, for instance in aboriginal cases, has said there are specific criteria that have to be followed, which I understand take a minimum of three to six months.
As soon as we get into the other situation where we're going to be consulting on however many products—I don't know how many—I could imagine there would be quite the amount of investigation research that would need to be done beforehand. We're going to add at least a minimum of a year to this particular schedule, which the department suggests they can't do...or they suggest a four-year period of time would be appropriate. Then we're into a five-year period of time that they would take, in essence.
I think what we should do is try to lessen it as much as possible. I've seen, in many pieces of legislation before, the words “best efforts”. Maybe we could encompass best efforts in there and a timeframe of two years. Certainly that might be an option.
What does the department think of that?
First of all, on the substantive point, we'll take any reasonable suggestion. We're not crazy. We may be, but that's another issue.
If four years makes sense instead of one year, and if Mr. Warawa thinks we can be more ambitious, fine, but something in that zone. We'll take a friendly amendment on that point.
To nail the second point down, my understanding in a practical way of what the second part, proposed subsection (4), means is that if in, let's say, some American state they have a higher standard for appliances than they do in Canada currently, so that in effect Canada might be a dumping ground for the lower standard appliances, we would examine the standards for specific products and go with the higher one because there's a precedent established and there are jurisdictions in North America that say, we will not take toasters that use beyond a certain amount of energy. That's my understanding of what we're doing and that's in line with what we can do.
I've done some consultation, and I think on the time issue we would amend new subsection 20(3) to say “the Governor in Council shall make best efforts to make regulations”, and so on, “on energy consumption in Canada within three years”.
That means that if, as I understand from having some informal chats with the department, they're unable to because the others can't keep up with them or they don't have the resources to respond to this new burden of work, there has to be an explanation for why they can't do it within three years.
So we make it more ambitious than the four years, which the department was asking for, for the original body of work, because we're adding to the body of work, but we're recognizing that we don't want to put them into an impossible situation. That was a suggestion that came from talking to various folks. So I'll make a friendly amendment, if that's possible.
You're right, Mr. Chair, and I was just going to address this point.
Having heard the officials from NRCan and being aware of their team and their resourcing constraints, I think there might be more certainty if we were to simply say, for example, “within four years after the day on which this subsection comes into force, the GIC shall make regs”. That gives you the timelines, it's in line with the government's original thinking, and it gives more certainty for the marketplace.
If I'm in the white goods manufacturing sector and I hear about best efforts and I'm starting to retrofit my rolling stock, if I'm looking at new standards and I'm manufacturing for Inglis or some other company that's worldwide, I want to know. Why don't we just simply move to “within four years after the date on which this subsection comes into force”? That seems to jibe with your abilities and resourcing.
Thank you, Chair. The concern is well heard.
What this amendment is directed to is that in the previous year, the very specific retrofit program for low-income families was cancelled, the reasons for which ministers have come before this committee and others to make their arguments.
Appreciating the chair's caution in terms of the royal recommendation required, what we're encouraging the government to do is.... A lot of this came out of money, the budget that was rewritten in the previous Parliament, which was then spent by the previous government and then this one. The government ended up cancelling that program.
This was a forum and a format for us to reintroduce the concept to the government and talk about the need and the urgency for it: that we have many families seeking to have these retrofits done but are unable to do it by their own means because by definition they're in a lower-income category; that the minister has the power to spend this money and money is available; that this retrofitting program is being disbursed by the minister, but the specific targeted one that addressed the needs of low-income families was removed, for decisions we won't debate here today.
In the discussion around , we know the government has the power to reintroduce this, has the power to spend this money and make this happen for Canadians whom we are all hearing from, who are seeking to be involved in not only just reducing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, but also reducing the cost of running their households.
While we'll take the obvious consideration of the chair in terms of the royal recommendation requirements, it should be noted and on the record that the minister has the power to do this, has the money available, and requires no other act of Parliament to do it. It's at their disposal right now. Having cancelled the program, this is an encouragement for them to reconsider that choice and bring it back.
I intend to deliver my ruling right now.
It is that part 2 of deals with amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act. This amendment proposes a new section giving the minister the authority to establish a program for the purpose of assisting low-income Canadians to reduce energy consumption of housing projects.
The rule against infringing on the financial initiative of the Crown is one of those things we have discussed before. It's expressed as follows at page 655 of Marleau and Montpetit:
||An amendment must not offend the financial initiative of the Crown. An amendment is therefore inadmissible if it imposes a charge on the Public Treasury or if it exceeds the objects or purposes or relaxes the conditions and qualifications as expressed in the Royal Recommendation.
Although paragraph 21(e) of the Energy Efficiency Act provides for the minister:
||for the purpose of promoting the efficient use of energy and the use of alternative energy sources...[to] undertake such...projects, programs and activities as in the Minister’s opinion advance that purpose
amendments seeking the authority to use approved funds for new purposes must be accompanied by a new royal recommendation.
Therefore, I find the amendment infringes on the financial initiative of the Crown, and on that basis I must rule it inadmissible. While I understand the desire to get it on the record, we can't use this process to re-establish a dollar program within the context of . Amendment NDP-31 is inadmissible on that ground.
Is that clear?
I've ruled, Mr. Jean.
Members will have before them the amendment that we propose. In essence, what this will do is to phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs. It's been an issue that many around this table will be aware of, the benefits and the necessity for government to act. In fact, it's important to note, Mr. Chair, that this issue was brought forward by members in my community, and they took this issue literally to the doorsteps of Canadians. I know Mr. McGuinty, in his riding, where the Project Porchlight started, was involved as well.
In fact, if you go to their website, you'll see the holding up one of their light bulbs, as well as the and others who have been great supporters of their initiatives to phase out the use of inefficient technology and bring in efficient technology. What this amendment would do is simply send that signal in a way that is important to consumers, to Canadians, that government is supportive of green clean technologies.
Mr. Chair, members of the committee and Canadians will know that this is an initiative that will help Canadians and industry to deal with the issue of climate change in a very concrete way. People get this--the idea of simply changing a light bulb. This simple measure will make a huge difference to the environment and to Canadians' energy bills. It's not only helping deal with the effects of greenhouse gas emissions that we derive our energy from, but it also saves money for Canadians. One light bulb can generate up to $50 in energy savings over the life of that light bulb and cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to half a tonne over its lifetime.
It's important to note this is not something that would put us on the cutting edge in terms of legislation. This is being done in Australia, which is adopting it. In the United States, there's a bill--a bipartisan initiative--in front of the Congress right now. Nunavut is doing the same thing. So we see that we could be in step with the rest of the world and other jurisdictions if we amend.
There are some concerns people have had, and I want to put those on the table, generally speaking. Some have suggested that with this technology--in other words, the alternatives to the incandescent bulb--there's not enough variety, not enough light that comes from the CFLs, and not the football league, but the compact fluorescent light bulbs. In fact, the technology has changed such that there's enough light emitted from it so that people can use this for their day-to-day lighting. I invite anyone to come into my home and you'll be able to read just fine. And the price point in this technology has come way down. In fact, people save money when they change to this technology.
You'll note from this amendment, which talks about regulation, and that's important, that we're giving time to phase this in. This is not an overnight proposal. As you will see in the amendment, and we're following along with other jurisdictions, as mentioned--the United States, here in Canada, as well as Australia and others--to phase this in. It would take effect in 2012.
Finally, Chair, I want to note that when we talk about the importance of embracing new technologies, we have to look at how it's going to save money--I mentioned that--but also we have to look at how it's going to help different jurisdictions. Presently coal-fired power represents 74% of electricity generated in Alberta. In Ontario it's 18%. By our taking leadership on this issue, what this will do is cut down the reliance on the coal-fired generation. As you've heard from testimony in front of this committee, it's not going to happen overnight, and we certainly know that in Ontario. I believe it's the same in Alberta. So what we need to do, I believe, is to take away the reliance upon coal-fired generation by consumption, and changing the technology is important, and by way of changing, to move away from incandescent lighting. That is a way to do it.
To wrap up, Chair, I think what we have in front of us here is a very common sense idea. It's one that all parties in one way or another have embraced, as I've mentioned, from the to the to members of the Liberal party, .
One final thing I want to mention, Mr. Chair, is that there have been some concerns about mercury.
Because of the reliance on coal-fired generation, it is entirely improbable that we'll get rid of the mercury emitted from coal-fired generation overnight. Mercury is a situation everyone is concerned with in connection with coal-fired generation.
Bringing down the reliance on coal-fired generation by phasing out incandescents and using CFLs will in fact reduce the amount of mercury in our environment. I say that because there are some concerns around the present technology--not all of it, and this is important to note.
With the compact fluorescent, there is mercury, but when you do the balance and talk to people in the industry--and this has been debated in Australia and other jurisdictions--it's not going to be a concern because of the amount of energy that is going to be saved, along with less emission of greenhouse gas and mercury from coal-fired generated plants. The benefits are going to be much greater than the amount of mercury in the bulbs.
I must add that there are programs right now for recycling, and the amount of trace elements of mercury in bulbs is reduced every time they come up with a new bulb on the market.
I just wanted to put those things out on the table--the concerns people might have--and underline the fact that this is a common sense thing. It is something we can do here and now. It is being done in other jurisdictions, and I look forward to the support of all members for this amendment.
Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair.
I suppose Mr. Dewar actually addressed one of the issues I was going to raise, and which I will still raise, about the mercury levels in these bulbs.
As a matter of fact, a couple of days after a news report of Mr. Dewar's private member's bill asking that these bulbs be prohibited, a constituent by the name of Robert Rice wrote to me about the disposal problem. He said:
||Many of these bulbs contain small levels of the toxic metal mercury, while each bulb by itself offers literally no harm to the users, the mass dumping of them into landfills or trash incinerators could cause detrimental environmental impact in the local environment. The safe disposal of these Compact fluorescent requires special handling, including that bulbs be unbroken and handled much like the safe disposal of alkaline batteries with special facilities to handle and recycle these bulbs.
Mr. Dewar addressed the issue, but....
You mentioned that the benefits of these bulbs in terms of mercury reduction outweigh the problems associated with disposal and the environment. Are you basing your recommendation on any particular studies?
Yes. If you have a chance to go to Project Porchlight, which I mentioned, they underline the cost benefit.
Through the chair, I should just tell you that if you look at the reliance aspect, as I mentioned, in Ontario 18% of the energy is presently generated by coal. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, by using just one bulb, you are going to be cutting down by about half a tonne over the lifetime of a bulb if you change to this technology. You can see from that one example how changing one light bulb brings down the emissions and the amount emitted from coal-fired generation that the cost benefit makes sense.
I might add that we're not reliant 100% on CFLs. If you look at LEDs as well, you don't have that issue, and there are sodium and other products coming on.
I think it's really important to underline that this is an emerging technology, and in no way is the amendment in my private member's bill written to say you have to rely upon CFLs. It's simply saying that all lighting, by the timelines we've put in here, will have met certain efficiency standards.
If we look at other jurisdictions, they've done the same cost-benefit analysis. We see that there are recycling programs in place. In fact, the private sector has already done this with IKEA. I think it's one of those issues in which timelines are involved. It's already being done in other jurisdictions; we'd have the timelines to phase in those concerns you have.
I don't think there's a member on this committee who would be opposed to defining energy efficient light bulbs and appliances. We all support any way we can cut down on the use of energy.
A number of years ago I changed to a fluorescent type of light bulb, and that technology is getting better and better too. They now have instant on. Some of them still have to warm up, but a number of them are instant on.
On the suggestion about a private member's bill, that may be the more appropriate way of dealing with this. There are a lot of questions that I have and that I had. Maybe I'll hold on then.
Before I close, though, I'd like to hear from Ms. Buckley. Is this the best way of handling this, defining 60 lumens? Is that the appropriate number? What's the best way of handling this--legislatively, in regulations, or by way of a private member's bill?
It's unusual to put a numeric standard in an act, and it's unusual to have a numeric standard with no consultation and analysis. From my perspective, I saw this an hour or so ago and I haven't been able to do an analysis of what 60 watts per lumen means in any detail. I can give you three reference points that between my colleague and me we were able to dig up to inform the committee in that lapse of time.
The Energy Star standard to replace a 60-watt bulb would not meet 60 lumens per watt. It would fail. So, to me, that makes 60 lumens per watt sound pretty significant. I can't tell you if it's a lot more stringent and how it applies to other lighting products. I just have that one example--comparing this to a 60-watt bulb replaced by the Energy Star bulb wouldn't beat it. I haven't been back to my office to talk to the technicians, so this is just based on the hour and a half we had between these two sessions.
I have two other reference points. One is Australia and the other is California. The popular press likes to speak of these jurisdictions' desire to ban the incandescent bulb, and that's in effect what their standards will do. However, they're not putting their standards forth written that way. They are choosing a technologies' performance standard. They're not looking at 60 watts per lumen. California is looking at 20 watts per lumen for 2010, and maybe 50 watts per lumen for 2017, but they haven't decided yet. They are going through a regulatory process and they are doing the type of consultation and analysis that I talked about earlier.
I can't tell you that 60 lumens per watt sounds good or bad. Off the top of it, it sounds quite stringent. It's similar in Australia, where they have the intent to ban the incandescent bulb. They plan to do it through a performance standard. They haven't landed on the number yet. So we can't use Australia as a reason that 60 lumens per watt makes sense.
I would feel much more comfortable if I had a chance to talk to our technicians about what that actually means, but the number causes me some reservation.
I think we should discuss it and vote on it. I think one of the concerns I have is that a private member's bill.... We're here right now dealing with the issue of energy efficiencies. I guess I'm a little surprised that members aren't willing to have a little courage and actually embrace it. You mentioned around this table that there have been many people who have embraced it. We have examples of other jurisdictions.
I want to add, Chair, that when you look at the compact fluorescents, their efficiencies are 44 to 80 lumens per watt presently. That information is there. Just to give you an idea, with incandescents right now, the efficiencies are ranging from 7 to 24 lumens per watt. If we look at the idea of efficiencies, the idea of phase-ins, and the idea that we're not banning anything, as was mentioned by staff, we're looking at phasing out and bringing up efficiencies that already exist. We have the technology here. We have the ability to do this. It's a matter, not of a way, but it's really a matter of a will. I guess I'm appealing to people around this table to embrace that.
I hear from my colleagues from the Liberal side that they have concerns about the storage. Well, there are programs to do that presently, and we have a phase-in period. We know that if it's a private member's bill...when are we going to get to that? We're here now talking about energy efficiencies, we're here now talking about dealing with greenhouse gases, and we're here now dealing with the ability to do something.
I guess I'm appealing to members to take the opportunity now. If there are amendments to suggest, fine. I think Canadians would be surprised that we just turned our noses and turned away from this, because it's a common sense solution.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
With regard to this amendment, I believe we must be extremely careful. We can of course estimate that the use of this type of light bulb could, for example, allow us to reduce our electricity consumption by 75%. However, we might, in adopting an amendment aimed at reducing negative effects on the environment, be creating other problems, for example with regard to the mercury contained in these light bulbs. It is clear, given the quantity of mercury involved, that recycling is necessary. In short, the adoption of this amendment might well lead to a reduction in our electricity consumption, but it could also give rise to other negative consequences for the environment. This is why I believe that prudence is key.
In Quebec, there are programs in place that among other things offer $25 incentives for the purchase of these light bulbs. I believe that we must in this area do things progressively. I very much like the idea of this proposal being included in a private member's bill. We could then, as a committee, invite witnesses and evaluate the whys and wherefores of this proposal.
I think we've made the switch back in; Mr. Dewar has to go to another appointment.
We've heard the concerns. Before we move to the vote, it's very interesting to me that no one put forward an amendment or a solution to the concerns raised, even though they exist. It's also very interesting to me that when Australia and other jurisdictions announced this, Canadians celebrated that movement, and members of this committee were in the public celebrating that movement, yet when the moment comes for some courage to potentially stand this motion and reconsider pieces--we have seen other amendments on which we have not heard expert testimony--the courage wasn't there all the way through.
It is sadness in true fashion. There is an opportunity to offer Canadians something real, something tangible, that other jurisdictions and other countries have moved forward on, and we've applauded, but for some now manufactured and whipped-up reasons, when the moment comes before us, it can't possibly be done. When we're going to reduce energy usage, when we're going to reduce the amount of mercury produced into our atmosphere through a smokestack, somehow the minuscule amount in some of these light bulbs is a greater threat than the known amount coming out of the smokestacks of coal-fired generation in this country. That equation is somehow manifest in members' minds.
We seek to have compromise. We seek to have good dialogue at this committee. We feel we brought forward arguments that addressed the concerns of members in this committee, and they should go back to their constituents and understand that today, on this one issue, we've made a lot of progress in this committee; we found votes from all sides.
On this one, what I've heard today is that from all sides of the House there's support for the NDP to move this through a private member's bill. We'd encourage the government to move with even greater haste, because we've all been witness to the private member process, and it can take time. I appreciate Mr. Jean's encouraging me along, but I want to note that in this process today, when we had an intelligent motion brought forward to deal with something concrete that Canadians can actually put their hands on and realize that the government is showing leadership, members on this committee panicked from some imagined scenario of doom falling from the sky. It's unfortunate, but we'll soldier on and bring more motions forward to get this done.
Let's reconvene, s'il vous plaît
I'd like to welcome two officials from Transport, Madam Roy and Madam Higgens, and one from Justice, Madam Trombetti. Welcome.
The bells will ring at 5:30. We'll get as far as we can. We'll suspend for the votes and then come back. The good news is there will be supper after the votes.
We are starting part 3, amendments to the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act. The first clause is a new clause, clause 46.1. Don't be confused with the last one; that was in a different part.
We've got two amendments currently. The first is L-30, so we'll start with it.
Go ahead, Mr. McGuinty.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
This is a short preambular addition and replacement to the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act. The middle paragraph sets an aspirational target for the country. It is basically calling on the Government of Canada to be committed to having fuel consumption standards that meet or exceed international best practices.
We see this as particularly fitting in the preamble section, Mr. Chair, because we think we should be aspiring. We think we should be racing to the top in terms of fuel consumption standards. We know our automakers can win the race. We know they are working hard to win that race. We think this act would again have government catch up to where the industry is already. As I'm sure my colleague would confirm, whether it's on the floor or in the boardroom, people are working hard to bring the Canadian auto sector to the very front of the pack. It's a competitive business, but we have every confidence that Canadian vehicle manufacturers are going to win the race.
We recognize, of course, that this industry is connected to North American industry and the parts and supply industry, but we have every confidence that they're going to win that race. This, we think, reflects that we are no longer talking about what we can't do; we're talking about what we can do.
That, in short form, is why L-30 is here, Mr. Chair. I so move it.
Thank you very much.
I want to go back to one of the operative words I used in presenting this amendment. This is an aspirational statement, as in we're going to aspire.
Preambular sections, and Mr. Jean knows this, are not enforceable in law ever. They are simply an indication of what this act would purport to do. What we're trying to set here at the very front end of the act in preambular fashion is that this country aspires to be the leading jurisdiction in the world that produces motor vehicles, the most efficient motor vehicles on the face of the planet. It's a commitment to be the best in the world.
Again, as I said in my opening remarks, at some point we have to start talking about what we can do and not always get hung up on what we can't do. It's precisely that defeatist attitude that the vehicle manufacturers in this country reject because they are competing so well. That defeatism isn't going to take our motor vehicle industry into the 21st century's highly competitive carbon-constrained future.
I could also, for example, put the question to the officials. Let's say we were to have other wording in the preambular section, wording, for example, that we're going to establish an ambitious and realistic standard for motor vehicles. What does that mean in law? Is it transparent? Is it predictable? Can it be nailed down? Do car manufacturers have a better understanding of what an ambitious and realistic standard might mean, for example, if we were to change the words? Could you help us understand that?
I think there's something encouraging in the general conversation we're having around the table, in the sense that we've moved across the voluntary threshold into the legislative, mandatory, and regulatory areas. The reason I say we're encouraged is that it was not so long ago in the House--Mr. Watson can probably remind me of the exact date--that we brought forward a motion to do that, and it was voted down by many members in Parliament. Moving over there--being willing to commit to the notion of having a firm standard that industry will account itself to--is the first stage.
On the argument Mr. McGuinty has just made about seeking interpretation from the courts about what is meant by realistic or achievable or ambitious, I think a lot of those terms, particularly if we're talking about a preamble, are a rabbit's den. We're going to run down a rabbit's hole.
The point I would like to make to committee members is that as it exists right now, CEPA says in its preamble:
||Whereas the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of endeavouring, in cooperation with provinces, territories and aboriginal peoples, to achieve the highest level of environmental quality for all Canadians and ultimately contribute to sustainable development
We have language like this in use in our acts as they are right now, acts that the government accepts and uses on a daily basis, so I don't think we should be too timid, in terms of the seeking to--as was written on the front page of the budget--“aspire”, or seeking to go.... I don't think there's anything binding.
There was one interesting point raised by my Conservative colleagues with respect to who sets and how it's set. We're not there yet, Chair, but I think it's instructive to where we're going and why we're supportive of this in the NDP. In amendment NDP-35 we talk about that process--about how we involve industry, the government, and the other sectors relevant to this issue in the setting of those standards and how they meet with international standards.
We have a disturbing trend in our auto sector right now; deals are being signed between Canadian auto companies and Chinese auto companies to produce low-emission vehicles. They would then be open to receiving a benefit from the Government of Canada for cars that were designed and made by a Chinese automaker. You can get to the absolute absurd if we're not on the leading edge of where the industry is headed. It's been a real struggle for our auto industry, particularly the big three, over the last number of years; we've all seen the news reports.
We have the concept of putting out the leading edge, the concept of saying we will aspire to make the best cars in the world, the most efficient and safest. The industry has experience in doing this in other measures, in terms of efficiency of the auto plants; a number of the plants in Ontario achieved the highest efficiency ratings for volume output, etc., and safety standards. We've done this before. The industry has come to realize that there are real costs in having an unsafe plant or an inefficient plant.
We are now doing the same process for the efficiency of the vehicle itself when we say we not only want to be good, we want to be the best, because that factor of pollution, of what happens when a car is in use, has become a cost of doing business. It's become a cost of operating the vehicle, and it's a serious cost, both in pollution and to the consumer who eventually drives that car for the rest of the car's life. In the process we were very clear in making sure we had something set up that met with some industry acceptance in terms of how the designs were put in place, but the concept of benchmarking ourselves to where the best is happening in the world is an encouraging one.
I encourage committee members again. We have language and acts right now in Canada that talk about endeavouring to be at the international best standard. If we're quibbling between what the Conservatives have brought forward and what the Liberals have brought forward in terms of that language, seeking whether one is more vague than another or whether one might be more open in a court to interpretation one way or the other--and no offence is intended for our witnesses today--I think it's a rabbit's hole. I don't think we're going to get a conclusive decision that “most ambitious” or.... That won't serve us.
We're submitting a process that will allow us to establish what that means in real terms. Industry is involved in it, as is government. We think that's a strong safety catch to make sure that we're making things that are realistic and achievable, but that also seek to be the best. The auto sector has experience in doing that in other terms, but not yet in the terms of making the most efficient vehicles. This is why we'll be supporting this motion.
We've had a good healthy discussion. As the members know, there is what I believe a better preamble. It's interesting. The last time I sat around a legislative table was about a year and a half ago. The Liberal government at that time assured us that the preamble was enforceable. Now we've heard that the preamble is not--it's there to give guidance--which is in fact the way it is. It's very interesting how positions change.
Chair, as we've heard, we need to have an ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need a preamble that properly represents a balanced approach and what is realistic, practical, and possible.
At this point, Chair, I would like to move an amendment. I believe we have distributed our amendment. I would be moving to amend Liberal L-30. After the word “adding,” it would read the following before the heading before section 1:
||Whereas the Government of Canada seeks to achieve sustainable development by integrating environmental, social, and economic factors in the making of all decisions;
||Whereas the Government of Canada is determined to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and significantly improve motor vehicle fuel efficiency;
||Whereas the Government of Canada is committed to regulating the fuel consumption of motor vehicles;
||Whereas the Government of Canada recognizes that the motor vehicle industry operates in an integrated North American market;
||And whereas the Government of Canada seeks to establish an ambitious and realistic standard for motor vehicles that is achievable within a North American market and that significantly contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;
||Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
That is my motion, Chair, as I think it is a more appropriate preamble.
All right. I'm going to respond to some comments, and this includes that debate. I would ask other members to be diligent in listening to these particular points.
I believe the proposal by Mr. Warawa is a good one, and it provides a compromise. I would suggest we use this particular amendment to move forward, but what I'm concerned with--and the point of the last conversation that I want to take up--is not the idea that we were being defeatist, which was a term used by Mr. McGuinty, but more that we want to make sure that we're not challenged in the future and subject to wasteful litigation, which doesn't help anyone.
I want to speak further about that in relation to, especially, the one-year timeframe that has been suggested, as far as the prescribed class of motor vehicles for any one year goes.
Although it doesn't talk about an implementation time for those standards, my colleague Mr. Watson has brought forward many times, on behalf of the auto industry, the fact that it takes sometimes three to six years for the cycle of a motor vehicle to reach a plant site and actually have changes made. So even if the changes were made year to year, it might be five or six or even ten years before they were implemented. I see that as being something of a problem.
As well, when we talk about “international best practices”, which I think is a very vague and unenforceable term, that also speaks to international standards that are in other countries, such as Australia. As Mr. Cullen knows, I spent three years in Australia. Australia has different wattages, different electricity standards, and, quite frankly, great environmental and recycling systems. In this particular case, I would suggest that using international standards might bring about technical problems, because some countries that have better carburation systems or better technology are not considering the size of our vehicles in Canada or indeed the cold.
Finally, in the second paragraph of L-30, I understand we're dealing with this particular amendment, but in my mind it speaks to inequitable policy that prescribes based upon a corporation's factor, such as company size or number. I think the key is that we want to move forward with general language that deals with what our general intention is and then deal with the more specific standards within the legislation itself.
I think this is a good amendment. It talks about, in general terms, what the Government of Canada wants to move forward with and what this committee intends to move forward with. I would suggest that any amendments put forward by any of the parties would be duly considered and would be appropriate, given their different interests on this legislation, and also the changes that have been taking place over the last three days.
I want to start by picking up on some earlier comments from our colleague Mr. Cullen. It's important. I want to speak to that for a moment, because I think the amendment remedies the deficiency of L-30.
I think Mr. Cullen was referring to NDP-35 when he talked about who it's important to consult. The wording includes “labour organizations” as well as business.
It's important for the committee to remember that we had both industry and labour here. They gave very compelling testimony. I think what they said is not reflected in what Mr. Cullen or the Liberals have gone on to say. What they said is I think really largely captured in the amendments the government is proposing to L-30. There has to be a goal or an aspiration, if we want to use Mr. McGuinty's language, that's realistic and attainable.
In speaking about targets, for example, Mr. Hargrove said they have to be a stretch but they also have to be attainable. Why? Labour agrees with industry on this one: jobs hang in the balance. Real people's lives hang in the balance with our decisions. So when we're charting a course, I think the government's amendments very clearly capture the reality we have with an integrated North American market for vehicles. It takes into account the competitive realities of industry. It offers the challenge to achieve an ambitious standard without creating the kinds of obstacles that could lead to industries going out of business, laying people off.
I think what we have in the government's amendments is an appropriate balance between the need for environmental gain.... I think that has to be understood in the government's amendments, that we are looking for an ambitious standard and we are looking to make gains in fuel efficiency. I would presume that means sustained gains but in a way that makes it realistic. We're taking into account the capital stock turnover and the research and development cycles of industry, which both they and labour talked about.
I don't know how we could sit at the table and somehow disregard both business and labour when crafting an aspiration statement on this important issue and then later hope to suggest in a further amendment that they should be included in consultations about these types of things. They were here. We heard from them. Canadians heard from them.
It's not restricted to testimony before this committee. I was in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago and they were having hearings at the energy subcommittee there. Both business and labour--the United Auto Workers, Mr. Gettelfinger--talked about what a standard that's too far ahead will do to the industry. It will lead to offshoring. That's what Mr. Gettelfinger said. We've heard similar compelling arguments by Mr. Hargrove for Canadian auto workers. It's either that or in the near term you'll get a flood of vehicles into our markets that are produced overseas.
I think we have to be balanced in our approach. Yes, we want to achieve the necessary environmental gains, but we have to do so in a way that takes into account that these are competitive industries. We're not only competing on the continent but off the continent. So we have to move forward in a way that is realistic.
We heard testimony about the United States as well. They've reformed their CAFE standards. Both industry and business have testified before the congressional subcommittee that those are a stretch but they think they can attain them, with effort. The opposition is now proposing something that leapfrogs beyond that--with no end in sight, quite frankly.
Every time an international standard is changed, the government then has to change its regulation. I don't know, but regulations could change in several jurisdictions around the world several times within a year potentially. What does that mean? The government loses the control to decide itself what regulation it wants. Business now has to comply. Labour winds up being in the same boat with them.
I think there are problems with L-30 that are remedied by the government's proposed amendments here. We want to achieve sustainable development by integrating environmental, social, and economic factors in the making of all decisions. We recognize that the motor vehicle industry operates in an integrated North American market. We're committed to regulating fuel consumption of motor vehicles. And we're seeking to establish an ambitious and realistic standard for motor vehicles that is achievable within a North American market and that significantly contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
We're not looking--and neither is industry or labour, as they've testified before us--to get out of making gains in both fuel efficiency and environmental performance.
I think what the government's amendments do here is remedy the deficiency in the second “Whereas” in L-30, and that's why I'm prepared, as a guy who comes off the shop floor, as Mr. McGuinty alluded to earlier, to support this type of an amendment. I think it does the right thing, and I know that people in communities back home would respect that. They'd tell the two New Democrat MPs there that this is the type of language that needs to be incorporated in our vision for moving forward.
I did not put my name on the list, but I will take the floor for a few minutes in order to take part in this debate.
In my view, it is important to have strict standards.
I am somewhat surprised to hear the arguments made today by the members on the government side. Since when have strict environmental standards been a brake to economic development? This is what Mr. Watson seems to say, while the opposite is true. Environmental standards are no longer a brake to economic development. Quite the contrary, they encourage innovation and development. Therefore, I believe ours should be the highest possible.
In its motion, the government states that it recognizes that the motor vehicle industry operates in an integrated North American market. This seems to imply that we should have the same standards as those of the United States.
But the market argument does not hold water. The California market is comparable to that of Canada. If it is possible in California, why would it not be possible to have stricter standards here, in Canada?
Let us not forget this is a preamble. A preamble provides direction, and we would like to push for higher standards. We wish for stricter standards that meet or exceed international best practices and that will promote innovation. We want standards that will allow us to grow our economy rather than lead to economic slowdown, as members of the government are saying.
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
I'd just like to come back to the proposed amendment. I thank the government for putting forward the amendment. Our reading of it is that it doesn't exactly constitute an amendment. It's rather a wholesale substitution of the government's amendment for the amendment on the table. So we don't see it at face value, as an amendment, as opposed to a substitution.
I think it's important for people looking at this preambular section to remember that it's just that; it's a preambular section. It talks about, “Whereas the Government of Canada is committed”. It doesn't ask the Government of Canada to be bound; it talks about the Government of Canada being committed to having fuel consumption standards that meet or exceed international best practices.
It's sort of like when the United States said they were committed to putting a man on the moon, or, for example, in the government's own budget, the title of which was “Aspire”--aspire to a better country, aspire to a better economy, aspire to a better environment. I thought that was the gist of the speech I heard from the just last week. I think in that spirit, this is what we're putting forward here--that it is, as rightly points out, about saying that we're going to acknowledge that environmental standards are now a major driving, competitive force. If we want to be leading, we've got to get out front.
From the meetings I've had, Mr. Chair, and the witnesses I've heard from, from labour and from motor vehicle manufacturers, they also aspire to be in first place, and I think this reflects it well.
In conclusion, I don't accept the amendment--I'll close with this, Mr. Chair, if we're not there--and I want to raise it with the government just in case there's been a change in policy. The government uses language in the amendment that's put forward. It talks about the Government of Canada seeking to achieve sustainable development. I'm very pleased--I should think most parliamentarians are--to see that, given that one of the first acts of the government, when it got elected, was to change the wording in the enabling legislation at the Natural Resources Canada department and to remove the notion of sustainable development, replacing it with the words “responsible development”, to eliminate the social equity provisions of the classic sustainable development definition.
So I'm glad to see the government has shifted gears and recognizes that sustainable development is something we are bound to as a nation state, and I'm glad to see it reflected here. Maybe they can go back and amend the NRCan Act at the same time.
Maybe I should just clarify the plan for the regulations under the MVFCSA, just to give some clarification. As the government has indicated, the plan is to have regulations in force after the expiry of the MOU for model year 2011. To arrive there, the plan is to have regulations in the Canada Gazette Part II
by the end of December 2008.
Just to give you an idea of the regulation-making process, there is a consultation paper; a consultation period with the industry, provinces, and stakeholders; Gazette Part I publication of the regulations; another period of comments by various stakeholders; and then publication in Gazette Part II by the end of December 2008 for the model year 2011.
Already that plan for the steps to having regulations by the end of December of 2008 is quite tight. It takes time to do all of that. I'm just trying to point out that to have regulations made under this act published in the Canada Gazette--I don't know if it's Part I or Part II here--within one year could be tight, depending on when the decision comes into force, because to have all of that work done, the whole regulatory process, in one year.... I have some doubts that this can be done.
The second point is that normally in legislation there's no reference to a document that will be there for a certain period of time. An act is there for a long time. So to have a reference to a document that will be there until 2010 is awkward in legislation.
I just wanted to flag that there are some challenges with the timeframe--of course, depending on when the act comes into force--and that the regulatory process takes time. The reference to the fact that the regulations would apply after the MOU is also not something you would normally see in legislation.
This is one that I referred to earlier in our debate. When seeking to have our auto sector produce the best vehicles in terms of efficiency, the construction of a design body needs to be broad and focused.
NDP-35 alters this section. It allows the government to have seats at the table, as well as, of course, the automakers themselves, labour organizations.... We think it's quite progressive to put labour, environmental organizations, the manufacturers, and government together in the designing of these criteria.
The ability to start to include...as we've seen all the way through with the amendments the NDP has put through this bill, it is to try to find ways to not allow the externality of pollution and the cause and effect of what we do to go on. There must be a way for business to incorporate the objectives they bring forward in terms of profitability, employment, and others, as well as the objectives that Canadians hold valuable. The externality of climate change, the externality of air pollution, and the health effects on Canadians must be caught somewhere. As it is right now, it's caught in a plight of the commons, if you will. That can't be acceptable if we're looking to make the changes. I know government has made similar suggestions, to capture those pieces in the bill.
I so move this. I think it brings us further ahead and actually creates less argument and confrontation in the design phase in the future, rather than always trying to catch up once the pollution is done.
I have a couple of friendly amendments I'd like to put to my colleague, Mr. Cullen, if I could. I hope they add something constructive to his good suggestion.
On the parties that might be involved in this regulations design and development exercise, I was hoping we would consider including provinces. I'm thinking particularly of the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, which are intricately attached in terms of the overall auto sector. That is the first consideration put to Mr. Cullen.
Second, with respect to the ministers who would be involved, I take the first minister in this amendment to be the Minister of Transport, given that this act is under the ambit of the Minister of Transport and the Department of Transport. We have the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of the Environment, but given the important role the Minister of Industry plays, I would suggest that the Minister of Industry be engaged in this because it would help align industrial policy with these choices.
Those are the significant ones I wanted to put forward. The inclusion of the Minister of Industry and the inclusion of provinces and territories--those are my friendly amendments, Mr. Chair.
We are now on new clause 51.1 and we have NDP-36.1.
Before I ask Mr. Cullen to speak to that, I have to say I have some concerns about the relevance and admissibility of this one.
This amendment proposes changes to the regulations accompanying the Income Tax Act, dealing with tar sands ore. I have two concerns about the admissibility of this amendment, which I would like the member to address in his presentation.
First, as the committee has already heard, an amendment must always be relevant to the subject matter of the bill. This rule is expressed on page 654 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Marleau and Montpetit.
As I look at it, the bill is concerned with greenhouse gases, air pollution, the classification of energy-using products, and the establishment of motor vehicle fuel consumption standards. On initial examination, the relevance of this amendment is not clear to me, and I would appreciate it if the honourable member could establish that.
Secondly, the amendment is proposing tax measures. I would appreciate an explanation of the impact. Let me explain why. If the amendment seeks to remove or reduce a tax exemption or a tax deduction, this would have the effect of placing an additional charge on the taxpayer. Such charges, as with all measures to create or increase taxes, must be preceded by the adoption of a ways and means motion in the House.
As stated on page 655 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Marleau and Montpetit, an amendment is also inadmissible
||...if it creates a new charge on the people that is not preceded by the adoption of a Ways and Means motion or not covered by the terms of a Ways and Means motion already adopted.
So I would appreciate, Mr. Cullen, if you could address those points during your remarks.
I'll hear from other members as well before making a decision.
First of all, in terms of relevance, we think this is highly relevant. I don't know if it was a preamble to your question, but you raised the issue of what this bill deals with. Bill deals with energy production and consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in this country.
Government has available to it a number of tools that it uses to direct private investment. It uses public investment and policy to guide some of the things that occur within our borders.
One of the things that was brought forward in the mid to late 1990s under a former Liberal government, with a Conservative government in Alberta, was an incentive program, essentially, to spur on development of the Athabasca tar sands, which at the time had been deemed not commercially viable for a number of years. The incentive was to help direct investment into those tar sands, which, as Mr. Jean will attest, has met with extraordinary success. The pace of development has been encouraged by this.
The reason this is deeply relevant is that this is one of the policy signals that government has sent to industry, particularly the private sector in energy production. We have talked all the way through the Clean Air Act about various policy signals that get sent through this bill, whether they're a limitation to certain activities or an encouragement of other ones, on motor vehicles. We've talked about targets as a country, about large final emitters, the largest polluters in the country, as being essentially limited in the amount of greenhouse gas pollution they can produce.
What this government policy has done is encouraged the investment in a very energy-intensive form of energy production, also a very carbon-intensive form of production. The estimates vary, but it takes more than a barrel of oil in energy equivalents to produce a barrel out of the tar sands, and the greenhouse gases that are produced through that barrel of energy, once all is said and done, are extraordinarily high when compared, obviously, to some of the other forms available.
We think there's a certain amount of fairness in what we proposed, simply on the basis of the profitability of this sector right now. We were talking about this in question period today, I think with reference to some industries in Quebec. The Prime Minister talked about encouraging investment in a faltering industry in Quebec by allowing such an accelerated capital cost allowance to encourage a sector that is in some trouble. That certainly cannot be said of the upstream oil and gas sector in northern Alberta. Trouble is not what they're in, in terms of economic viability. They're doing quite well, as well as any company or any set of companies has ever done in Canadian private industry history. They're doing, by all accounts, extremely well, with $20 billion-plus profit this past year.
That's all well and good, and that's not the concern we have. The concern is over why we would continue to offer incentives to do more for an industry that's so clearly profitable in and of itself, with the price of a barrel of oil being, on any given day, between $55 and $70, and as high as $80, while the cost of production--Mr. Jean will probably have the exact figures--is in the low twenties. Why would a government policy continue to exist beyond the point where investment needed to be encouraged? There have been three extremely large major oil sands projects announced within the last 10 days. The enthusiasm for the sector is overheated, to say the least.
There's something about a market failure in this when we've had the community of Fort McMurray, through their town council--Wood Buffalo would be the appropriate jurisdiction for the town--ask for an actual moratorium on further projects. We've asked the provincial and federal governments to respond to this. Its infrastructure is hurting and all the rest.
But what this motion does--and the reason it's relevant--is it speaks directly to the national targets we just previously set. It speaks directly to where you want to put Canadian tax policy and incentives and why you would want to put them towards the most energy-intense and greenhouse gas emissions-intense form of production possible. We've heard from industry at the natural resources committee that they have an expectation that things will continue to rise, and that even on an intensity basis--which we don't agree with--things will get worse in the coming years and not better.
All these factors play in, and the relevance to the bill, we believe, is inherent and somewhat self-evident.
In terms of the additional charge to the taxpayer, this is not an additional charge; this is a removal of what essentially works out to be a subsidy. There's no taxpayer in the country who is going to feel the burden of this change. In fact--and we have encouraged this government, as we did the previous one--if they wish to give incentives to energy production, there are lots of willing players at the table who can produce high-quality energy, with many jobs available in sectors that are not clearly as profitable as the upstream oil and gas sector is in northern Alberta.
We absolutely think it's in order. We think it's relevant, and we're very curious to hear from other members of the committee as to their opinions on this. And of course if they're not in favour, we'd like them to justify the reason for this tax policy to be there, because why it needs to continue is simply beyond us and any sound economic analysis.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, I'd like to applaud the government and this Prime Minister for taking steps in relation to the capital cost allowance and for actually taking that money in the future and making the opportunity for that money to go directly back into green investments.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Brian Jean: I think that's a great step forward, and it shows the dedication that this Prime Minister and this government have to the environment.
I want to clear up some ignorance. By this I mean the lack of understanding and lack of knowledge of this member and many of the other members of the House in relation to many things I have heard from Mr. Holland and Mr. Cullen and other members from many parties.
The first is that it's not tar sands; it's oil sands. The reason it's oil sands is because it's oil that's coming from them, not tar.
Fort McMurray is a city. The municipality is the largest in North America, and it encompasses something in the range of 120,000 square kilometres.
In 1965, the plant site of Suncor, and I'm going to use that as an example, was started, and it employed very few people. It was in the hundreds, as there were only about 1,800 people in the community at that time. It continued to struggle for some period of time, until 1987. We heard from Dee Parkinson-Marcoux, who was the president and CEO of Suncor at that time, who gave evidence that they almost closed down Suncor because of lack of profitability over the last 20 years.
If you look at the profits of this particular corporation and the only other corporation that has been going for some period of time, you will find that over the average life expectancy of that particular corporation, the profits have not been good. They are good now because of the price of oil, but they have not been good. On an average basis, on a year-to-year basis, over the lifespan of the corporation, it has not been a success story. Now, yes, it is, but it has not been.
I would suggest that they expect some kind of return on investment. And why do I say that? I had to laugh when there were conversations by members about not being able to start small oil sands projects in the future. There is no such thing as a small oil sands project, because it takes upwards of $3 billion—yes, that's right, $3 billion—to even consider starting an oil sands project of any magnitude, of any size, whether it be SAGD development or raw mining.
To get back to the capital cost allowance and the Liberal bill of 1996, I think, where they put it in at that particular time.... I'd also like to talk about what corporations require. They require certainty. Certainty is important to being able to look forward over a long period of time, or at least five to 10 to 12 years, to see what their investors are going to get back and to plan appropriately.
I would like to bring to everyone's attention that Suncor Energy was named as one of 10 “green giants” in business. It was named by Fortune magazine in its global list of 10 corporations because it goes beyond what is required to operate in an environmentally sustainable way. They just received this award about two weeks ago. In the world, it is one of the top 10, globally, environmental corporations. That was by Fortune magazine.
There is going to be $100 billion worth of development by 2020 in that area, but as well, for every one job created in that area, which will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100,000, there are 600,000 jobs created in the rest of this country—600,000 jobs for every one job in that area. And yes, we do have a problem with infrastructure, and I've brought it up in the House since I was an opposition member. We have a huge problem with infrastructure, but what we don't want to do is create what the Liberals did with the national energy program back in the eighties, when I saw every single business in my community fold and die. It is not a good thing to see a community die, and I don't want to see it happen again.
I'm interested in certainty and I'm interested in relevancy. This is not relevant to this particular section.
Mr. Chair, I would bring to your attention page 711 in Marleau and Montpetit. I've quoted it several times. I'm going to try not to do it one more time, but this is an “amendment which either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications”, and as such it is inadmissible.
I would refer you further to a decision by Speaker Fraser, when he spoke specifically in relation to this, on page 93 in the Journals of the House of Commons of Canada, February 5, 1973. “(T)he citation refers not only to the amount of a charge but also to its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications”, and as such it's inadmissible, Mr. Chair, and it should not be considered and cannot be considered as an appropriate place to bring forward this particular amendment.
On the question around the ways and means, this is not an introduction of a tax; this is removal of an incentive.
I well hear Mr. Jean's points, and I've often heard him talk about the desperate situation in terms of infrastructure in his community. I very much appreciate that there was hardship brought on by previous Liberal governments in the national energy program.
The specific thing this speaks to, which I didn't hear in his comments--and certainly that's fine--is trying to equate a national energy program with the removal of a subsidy to give incentive to an industry at its very beginning stages. Now that the industry is well on its way and doing very well, to consider that you need to give incentive to that doesn't make any sense.
In addressing this bill, the chair raised two questions of admissibility. One of them, in terms of a ways and means motion, is not an increase in taxation at all; it's the removal of a subsidy.
In terms of the relevance of the bill, he applauds the government's action to seek to remove this. So in principle he believes, and more importantly his government believes, that this should no longer be there.
This motion we brought forward calls into question the timing and the length of time. The phase-out proposed by the current government doesn't even begin until 2011, and then it follows some years after that. If we believe in the principle and we know it's right, then it's just a basic question of fairness. That's why we brought the motion forward. We have an enormous number of projects being announced right now. No one has ever said on scale or size...of course, oil sands projects are large, and there isn't a small one out there.
I ask that you look across the spectrum at where energy industries are right now. While Alberta and Canada realized there may have been a need in 1996 for an incentive, no sensible person would say there's a need for an incentive for this industry right now.
Why would you give an incentive to an industry that's doing fine on its own? That's not the role of government. That stems from something else, where you start to pick and choose favourites. There's no need for it. There's no rational economic need for it, and there's certainly no environmental need for it.
If the projections go from the current output to upwards of five million barrels a day, which is what industry has on the books, and it is moving quite quickly to this, our concern is how government can credibly and seriously enter into negotiations at the international level about restricting greenhouse gas emissions, and at the same time have an incentive on its books to do more of what all within and outside industry say is one of the most energy intensive and greenhouse gas emitting forms of production. They're counterintuitive points.
All we're pushing forward in this motion is, and I'm waiting for other committee members to suggest that it's not correct.... But why are you giving incentive to an industry that's doing so well? You did it in the past. It was done. To continue on for eight more years is not tax fairness. It absolutely undermines the work of the Minister of the Environment and others when they go on the international scene and suggest that Canada is serious about getting control of greenhouse gas emissions. In effect, we're saying please do more; please do as much as you possibly can before this 2011 phase-out period that will last until 2015 at a minimum.
Hold it. You're not going through the chair, and the chair gets cranky when you don't do that.
I am prepared to render a decision.
The amendment, regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the situation, does seek to remove or reduce a tax exemption or a tax deduction. This would have the effect of placing an additional charge on the taxpayer. Such charges, as with all measures to create or increase taxes, must be preceded by the adoption of a ways and means motion in the House.
As stated on page 655 of Marleau and Montpetit, an amendment is inadmissible “if it creates a new charge on the people that is not preceded by the adoption of a Ways and Means motion or not covered by the terms of a Ways and Means motion already adopted”.
Regardless of the argument about whether it's right or wrong, strictly from a legal point of view, and as defined in Marleau and Montpetit, I have to find it inadmissible.
Mr. Chair, there are a fair number of stood clauses. There are less than 20, but all of those stood clauses relate to something that was passed or not passed. I would suggest it will be fairly simple once we straighten out in our own minds where it is we're going to go.
Quite frankly, the only reason I would agree with Mr. Warawa, besides the fact that we're on the same side of the table, is that it's logical. This is an important piece of legislation. I think all of us need to go home, put our thinking caps on, and spend some time on it, either tonight or tomorrow morning, before we come back and do a final push.
This bill is very important to Canadians, and we want to make sure we get the best opportunity possible to make sure we don't have any screw-ups on it from a committee perspective, not necessarily a party perspective. Then, at that time, we can come back tomorrow.
I think we should actually meet either at 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock. I know we're scheduled for both 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., but just to have an opportunity to go through it, I would say we have probably two hours of work left. I would suggest that we want to make sure it's done properly and that we haven't missed anything.