This is to all members. The clerk simply needs to know the names of witnesses for , the National Sustainable Development Act, by Wednesday from all parties. So I would ask you to do so if you haven't submitted names for that, because our first session will be on Monday next. I will be counting on introducing the bill and with it some of the proposed amendments that are in response to criticisms that have been made in the House by various members. I want to indicate the kinds of changes that I'd be bringing forward anyway so people don't waste their time attacking things I agree with them on.
I would also expect to bring in people from the Suzuki Foundation and from the Natural Step because some of their principles are incorporated in the principles of the bill. So that's one point, Mr. Chair.
Secondly, I would ask the indulgence of members when the Commissioner of the Environment comes forward, in the two sessions that we have set aside for him, and to carve out a bit of time--not endless amounts of time--for him to make comments at that time on , because it does affect the role of the commissioner himself.
Sure. That sounds good.
There are two items here with dollar figures. The first one is for witnesses for Bill C-377 and the teleconference. Of course those expenses have already occurred and amount to about $2,345. I would like the committee's approval to pay those retroactively.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: For Mr. Godfrey's bill, for Bill C-474, the clerk has estimated $7,700. Again, I would like approval from the committee on that.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
We're now on clause-by-clause.
The usual way we do things is that we stand the first item, which is basically clause 1, and also the preamble, which is clause 2, until the end.
(Clauses 1 and 2 allowed to stand)
(On clause 3--Purpose)
The Chair: No amendments have been put forward on this clause, which deals with the purpose of the bill.
Yes, Mr. Warawa.
Chair, I have just a quick comment here. Clause 3 reads as follows:
||The purpose of this Act is to ensure that Canada contributes fully to the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
It sounds lofty, and it's actually what we need to do. That's why Canada has the Turning the Corner plan.
Clause 3 is saying that the purpose of this act is to “ensure that Canada contributes fully to the stabilization”. We've heard from witnesses that it's an empty, hollow bill with no policy. It won't accomplish anything. There has been no costing on it, so we don't know what its impacts will be.
We were advised that it needed to have the impact studied. The fact is that the bill came from , and he said it should be costed. These points have been made at length.
I think if this bill, had been presented by the government--if you look at this 180 degrees differently--then nobody around would be supporting this. But because it's from the opposition, even though it's a terribly flawed bill that constitutionally will be struck down and will accomplish nothing, the opposition is stubbornly moving forward to support this.
We know that what clause 3 is saying is not the truth. It will not accomplish what Canada needs. The Turning the Corner plan will accomplish what Canada needs to do.
So I can't be supporting this, but I just want to make those quick comments, that what this clause is saying is not the truth. It will not accomplish that, and that's what we've heard from the witnesses.
My comments are more in the form of question, maybe to our resource people here as well.
Again, reading this over, the clause states:
||The purpose of this Act is to ensure that Canada contributes fully to the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
I've been around this place for a few years, but help me understand this in terms of the legal weight. This is, as we say, a purpose clause, an interpretive tool. What kind of weight does this have in respect to other issues of ambiguity or lack of clarity in the bill? Can somebody inform me or clue me in on that?
It's more than just a straight statement, because it's a grid or lens through which we look at all the other aspects or parts of the bill. Is that correct? Does this clause have weight of a different significance from the other clauses? Is it a more weighty clause?
Chair, Bill proposes to add the qualification that the government has an obligation to ensure that greenhouse gases are reduced to specific targets, and it's subject to these targets identified in the UNFCCC.
The amendment would bind future Canadian governments to accepting targets agreed to under the UNFCCC. These targets may not be consistent with Canada's Turning the Corner plan and the UNFCCC may not be able to come up to an agreement that involves all the major emitters. We heard from the witnesses how important it is for Canada to take leadership, and Canada is taking leadership now with the Turning the Corner plan.
We have, historically, the toughest targets in Canadian history, but we have also taken strong leadership in asking that all the major emitters be involved. And we heard time and time again, particularly from the last set of witnesses, how important it is that we have all the major emitters part of the solution, not just 30%, but we have all the developing world's nations. G8+5 was mentioned, and we need to have 80% to 100% of the countries involved with reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, not just 30%. So this has some problems with the wording.
I'm unclear as to the focus of the amendment that Mr. Bigras has proposed. However, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change does not itself include any specific targets, which has been mentioned. I'd like to remind Mr. Bigras that the ultimate objective of that convention is the stabilization of greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system. This objective applies to all countries, all the major emitters, and it should be.
Furthermore, we're not in a position to speculate on what will be the exact nature of any new agreement, as has been mentioned, since all parties are about to begin negotiations. They began in Bali.
So I have great difficulty with this proposed amendment, as I do with Bill .
I'd like to respond directly to the parliamentary secretary's comments.
First, he said this bill would bind Canada, and once it bound Canada to IPCC targets, it would run in contradistinction or against the government's own Turning the Corner plan. Well, in fact the government is already in breach of the existing international treaty obligations and has unilaterally decided not to be bound in its domestic plan, called the Turning the Corner plan, which, by the way, has never been subject to any kind of legislation or a vote in the House of Commons. It has unilaterally decided to be in breach of the existing legal standard. That's number one.
So the concerns the parliamentary secretary has for binding heirs and successor governments and having them compelled to have to live up to the standards set by an international body are not true. His own government has given plenty of evidence to Canadians that their domestic governments, including this government, particularly this government, have in fact unilaterally abandoned those standards.
Secondly, the parliamentary secretary continues along message track lines to foist untruths on the Canadian people about whether or not annex 2 countries, developing countries, are in or out of the international treaty. This is false. It's a patent falsehood that continues to be repeated ad nauseam by the government. There are 172 countries that have signed on to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol and attachments thereto. All of them have in one fashion or another--this is directly on point to the parliamentary secretary's remarks, unless I'm missing something--agreed to common but differentiated responses to the climate change crisis in different timelines.
Our own minister, your minister, went to Bali to launch the two-year negotiation round as contemplated perfectly in the Kyoto Protocol to bring annex 2 countries like India and China and others inside the tent, so that by 2012 they would have hard targets like the 36 annex 1 countries that are first off the mark.
It is not fair, it is not right to continue to repeat fundamental mistruths about the Kyoto Protocol to the Canadian people, and I really would ask respectfully of the parliamentary secretary that he not do that, because it's not true.
I have a question, I guess, from this. I find it a little bit strange and a little peculiar why we would be committing ourselves to something in the future, not knowing what that agreement will be, the Convention on Climate Change, and what those targets would be.
Just on a personal basis, when I'm involved in some kind of agreement to buy an acreage, to buy whatever it happens to be, and then I'm making agreements that down the road there are these unforeseen, unknown things, whatever they happen to be, I'm agreeing to that too, and I don't have a clue what it is. I would never sign a document to that effect. I think most people in Canada would not.
I find it really more than odd, and rather dangerous, I guess would be the better word, in terms of why we would do that at this juncture when we don't know exactly what this will commit us to, subjecting ourselves, as we sit here.... We're signing a blank cheque is in effect what occurred.
I would like to ask the members if there may be some better way they would choose to qualify it. But simply to say that we're agreed to reduce, subject to those targets identified by the UNFCCC, I don't think is a wise or a prudent course of action for us. I think the Canadian public would see it that way, because by and large, I don't think they get into the kind of scenario that we're doing here.
If it's a house agreement, if it's a personal agreement of any sort, signing off on unforeseen speculative things down the road is not a wise thing to do.
First of all, I want to address the comments from Mr. McGuinty. He brought up fundamental mistruths--his phrase--and also elaborated that the government has abandoned the international standards, that we were in breach of these international standards.
He's quite right that the previous government was in breach. The fact is that it was his party, the previous Liberal government, that committed Canada to targets of 6% below 1990 levels. Did we achieve those targets? No. Was it an honest mistake? We're heard over the last two years that no, what happened was they didn't have a plan in place, there was no action taken. There were a lot of announcements, which you would now call greenwashing. There's the sin of greenwashing where a product will be presented as being environmentally friendly when in fact, when you scratch under the surface, it's phony; it's anything but. And that's what the previous Liberal government was guilty of: trying to convince the Canadian public and actually the international stage that they really cared about the environment and were going to take action.
To do something is much more than just accepting a target of 6% below 1990 levels. You have to have action, you have to have substance, you have to have a policy. That's why Bill C-377 concerns me greatly. We've heard Bill C-377 is very similar to what happened with the previous Liberal government, which did breach what they promised internationally and to Canadians. They breached those promises. They abandoned those standards and we ended up with 33% above those targets. It was terrible.
We find ourselves as a nation with an environmental mess, and it was quite embarrassing. We heard from one witness that over the last 12 years, 14 years, 15 years Canada has been embarrassed because of those past actions of inaction.
Bill C-377 will take us down a similar path, with an announcement of great aspirations but no way of achieving it, no plan, no costing, and creating constitutional issues. It sounds good, but there's nothing there. It's like telling somebody we're going to provide you with this but there's nothing there. There's no substance. It's just talk.
So it's very important that Canada does have a plan that's realistic. I believe that the Turning the Corner plan, which has been costed and which has policy attached to it, is going to achieve those targets of absolute reductions of 20% by 2020 and 60% to 70% by 2050. That is good. That's good for the environment, it's good for Canadians' reputation.
We heard today in question period, Mr. Chair, that now the NDP, the author of Bill C-377, have admitted they don't know how it's going to be achieved, but the leader of the NDP has a dream.
We've also heard now in QP that they don't support carbon capture and storage. When you go to the international conferences, that's one of the main new technologies providing a technical way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions: you capture the carbon dioxide and you pipe it and you inject it back into the earth and you can store it. You can use that for enhanced oil recovery, and it could be stored for millions of years very safely.
I was just responding to some of the concerns and comments made by Mr. McGuinty in relation to clause 5.
It's very important that we shine a light on what Bill C-377 is. Bill C-377 is a very hollow, false bill. It will not accomplish what Canadians want us to.
The other issue is the importance of the amendment. The amendment is to reduce, subject to the ultimate targets of the....
Okay--reduce, subject to the ultimate objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Now, we have to make sure that we have the major emitters involved. The negotiations are ongoing. So we have to be very careful. At this point, the negotiations have just begun; they're building that framework for post-2012, and we don't have those. Again, we have Bill C-377 with nothing, no substance to it. They're grasping at straws.
I'm very concerned about the phoniness of this bill.
Mr. Chairman, I think I'm starting to get a clearer picture of the government's strategy. What does the amendment say? First, it corrects an oversight in my amendment in that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change does not identify targets, but rather objectives. Therefore, the NDP amendment corrects this oversight.
The government is opposed to the substance of the amendment which calls for targets in line with the UN Framework Convention. What does this opposition imply? It implies that not only is the government rejecting the Kyoto Protocol, but it is also refusing to subscribe to the objectives of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. While the Minister was boasting in Bali of wanting to continue negotiating within the convention's framework, the government is now telling us that it is prepared to defeat an amendment calling for the objectives of the framework convention to be upheld. These objectives are not targets, they are GHG emission stabilization objectives.
I'm also beginning to understand Mr. Johnson's presentation. He said that perhaps the first thing to do is to have emerging countries sit down at the table with G8 countries.
As I understand it, the government is rejecting the objectives set out in the framework convention and in the Kyoto Protocol. What is it exactly that the government wants? Does it want to limit room at the negotiating table to the Asia-Pacific partnership? Is that what it wants?
My motion makes no mention of meeting the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol. It refers to the objectives of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. My message to the government is clear: if the government and the government party vote against amendment BQ-1, this will mean that the government no longer wants to meet the objectives of the UN framework convention. It will be official. We will ask for a recorded vote and the parliamentary secretary will proceed to vote down this amendment. He will have to bear the consequences of his actions.
I think it's important that as we go through this...I'm looking at the progress, because as we all know, we have a deadline to make the proper amendments to this bill.
If my Conservative colleagues have a fundamental problem with the bill, that has been well stated and understood. The bill's passage is now being considered.
I would ask them, when amendments are before them, that they first actually read them and understand what it is they're objecting to before they object. Second, if they actually don't have any additions or changes to make to the bill, we understand and it's been well established that they don't like it. Thank you. But if you're not willing to do the work, the actual work of making a bill better, then I suggest you refrain from comments and use them in the media or back in your householders to your communities.
We've got a motion forward that says that we are encouraging the government to do what it has already committed to doing internationally, so I'm not sure why we're taking 15 or 20 minutes to confirm or deny this, coming from the government benches. Strictly speaking, it's what your minister has already committed to. He's committed to exactly this.
During the debate, we asked the New Democratic Party to tell us how much this would cost. They didn't answer our question. Now, they are calling for emissions to be cut by 25% compared to 1990 levels, but they have forgotten that absolutely nothing was done between 1997 and 2005. I'm not trying to blame the Liberals. They are no dumber, or smarter, than anyone else. They encountered a problem and fell behind by ten years. To make up for that, major reduction targets were set. There is even talk of cutting current emission levels by 52%. I see this as hypocritical.
Cutting emission levels by 20% by 2020 is not only the highest target set by any G8 country, but the highest set by any world country. This is the highest target in the world, in terms of an absolute reduction in GHG emissions. Yet, here we have a call to raise the target to at least twice the identified level. According to this table, costs would represent 19% of Canada's GDP. For Quebec, these costs would be about 8%. However, for the other provinces, they would represent 37%. In the case of Alberta, the figure is 51%. These numbers also need to be taken into consideration.
This is the only study that we have. I do not think it should be given priority consideration. It may contain some errors. It was submitted to us by a witness. It is the only study that focuses on the economic side of things. To my Ontario friends, I say that for Ontario, this would represent 23% of the GDP. A cost of 5% already means a major recession. With 23%, we can multiply the effects times five.
People may not want to hear this, but this is the reality. Have my Liberal friends actually read this document? Is there another study out there that refutes these claims? We have not seen it. We requested a copy, but we didn't get one. Now we're being told that we are the ones who are wrong and who are not listening. We raised this question before Christmas and we have yet to receive an answer. We've given the opposition three months to respond, but to no avail. Now, we're being told that we are at fault for not going along. One day soon, we will need to set partisan politics aside and get down to the business of finding real solutions.
The 20% target identified by the government is already the most difficult target to achieve of all G8 and world countries. To raise this target to more than twice the identified level in an attempt to comply with standards, while at the same time forgetting that we need to make up for the eleven years we have lagged behind, well, that is serious business. We cannot make up for lost time in the blink of an eye.
I've done some studies. Take the transportation industry, for example. How many years does it take to replace the inventory of vehicles? Studies show that this takes about eight years in Canada. They are claiming that this process will be cost-neutral.
It's ridiculous to suggest that a change which will affect the entire population and industry will not have any major negative effects.
Are there any other comments?
Let me read the amended motion so everybody knows exactly what we have:
||The Government of Canada shall ensure that Canadian greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, subject to the ultimate objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Everybody has heard the friendly amendment? Good.
(Amendment agreed to: yeas 7; nays 0)
(Clause 5 as amended agreed to)
(On clause 6--Target Plan)
I want to change paragraph (b) to insert LIB-5, and as part of LIB-5, I want to say, “including consideration of”—that is new to LIB-5—“the latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”.
In other words, it has to be taken into consideration, as well as the other emission targets adopted by other national governments. It doesn't say you have to follow it slavishly; it says you have to consider it, because that's part of the competitive environment within which Canada will be functioning. That is that.
The only other change I would propose—and I apologize for this three-dimensional tic-tac-toe operation—is that after discussion with various parties, in paragraph (c) where we say “show that each target is consistent with a fair contribution”, we are proposing to eliminate the word “fair” en français et en anglais and add the word “responsible”, so that it reads “responsible contribution by Canada”, une contribution responsable du Canada, which seems to convey better what we are trying to achieve.
I realize this is a little messy because we're dealing with a whole bunch of things at the same time, but those are the amendments to the amendments and the incorporation of two amendments as one.
We welcome this amendment. The issue in clause 6 that is being addressed is something that has been lacking in previous initiatives from the government, which is keeping Canadians and Parliament up to speed on where our targets are, what our goals are.
A lot of long-term promises are made within government legislation, back-ended financing deals that go out six years and beyond. The need to have a steady, consistent track with our greenhouse gas reductions is essential. This amendment seeks to embed within those estimations some measurement of what other countries are putting into their efforts and engaging Canada, I hope, deeper into the solutions that are out there.
I think for too long in this country we have relied simply upon our own initiative and intelligence to meet greenhouse gas emission challenges and not looked overseas and not looked to other countries, who are now far outpacing our country when it comes to energy efficiency and the like.
We think this is a good amendment to clause 6, and we look forward to its passage.
The purpose of this is to reflect two things. One is that the state of our knowledge about climate change is always being added to by the scientific community, and if this is going to be a piece of living legislation, it always has to take into account the latest reports from the UNFCCC, for example. We can't be bound by last year's science if this year's science presents a stronger case for action. So that is one of the purposes of this.
The second purpose of this is that we locate our efforts within the context of what other countries do. This is an approach that the government itself has proposed. They have said that one of the ways in which we will judge our effort here is by what other major industrial polluters are doing--for example, China and India--so it is a judgment call by the government of the day, and the Parliament of the day, to look at what other large industrial emitters are doing and ask if this looks roughly responsible.
I think everybody accepts the fact that we are a privileged industrial power with greater capacity for adjustment than developing countries, that we're in a different situation. What “responsible” looks like is always going to be contextual. It will always be relative to what other countries are doing, whether they're developing countries or developed countries.
By the way, this is very much the European approach. The Europeans are saying that what they will do by 2020 is reduce their emissions by 20% vis-à-vis 1990, no matter what. If other large national governments have higher targets than are currently anticipated--such as the United States--they will then revise their targets upwards to 30%.
So this clause is designed to reflect our need to be competitive with other countries, because we wish to always be sure we are among the leaders in greenhouse gas reduction. What constitutes leadership will be an evolving story, depending on how other countries are doing, whether those countries are the United States, China, Russia, or whoever. This is designed to give both the government and Parliament the flexibility to take this legislation forward.
There are two kinds of targets. There are the scientific targets, which tell us, as a world, that we need to put forward a certain degree of effort or we will get beyond a 2% increase in global temperatures because of greenhouse gas emissions. So one set of targets is based on the science and tells us, as a world, what we have to do.
Another set of targets says common but differentiated responsibilities based, first of all, on historical record. That is what various countries have built their wealth on over time. We, and the industrialized world--Britain, Germany, United States--live off the riches of an economy created by greenhouse gas emissions, and we can't neglect that heritage. We did it. We've been polluting and we haven't been paying for it.
There is also a per capita component. As the Indians say, “We promise we will never emit more per capita than you do”, which is not much of a promise when you think about it.
So there's the historical component, which I think is fair, because there's a burden that we've developed over time, and there's a per capita component, which says, why should some citizens of the planet never get to the same stage of development as we are? Now that we're here, we're going to pull up the drawbridge; you can't develop.
Those are the three components: the scientific targets that need to get us where we are going to be; the historical components, which remind us of how we got to be rich in the west; and then the per capita components, which deal with the consequences, particularly as we think about equity, for those countries that are being side-swiped by climate change--the low-lying island states, for example.
Those would be the considerations that a government would have to take into account in establishing its targets. That's why the words “consideration of” are there. It simply sets out some principles of equity and allows the government of the day to make its best judgment, given competitive considerations and where other countries are.
I have a final question, then, so I understand where Mr. Godfrey is coming from. I appreciate that explanation.
Do you feel your amendment expresses that intent? If a government should see this 20 to 40 years from now, are they going to understand that intent? You've used the word “responsible” instead of “fair”. You've shared that it's based on scientific, historical, and per capita. You did mention the 1990 level.That would depend on....
Is your amendment going to give guidance to future governments?
Sure. With respect to the reference in Liberal amendment 4, new paragraph (c) does reflect the strong commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, which would imply a commitment to the 1990 target.
Of course future governments are going to be dealing with the future and subsequent successor arrangements after 2012. It will not be the Kyoto Protocol; it will be something else.
I think this attempts to take the environment minister at his word, that Canada wants to be a leader, that Canada wants to be part of the international system. Canada is not denying the science of the UNFCCC and neither is the parliamentary secretary. It gives a formulation that is flexible enough to take into account the changes we can't anticipate, but lays down some principles of equity that will remind us of what, as a responsible, developed, leading country, Canada must do.
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased with the amendment moved by my colleague Mr. Godfrey. The expression “fair contribution” would be replaced by “responsible contribution”. The change is appropriate in that later, there is a reference to the objective of the UN Framework Convention.
One of the basic principles that we must not reject that of joint responsibility. The Convention makes provision for the principle of liability, not the principle of equity. It would be a shame to find ourselves in the same situation as in Bali, where the government spoke of a certain number of principles, such as national circumstances, in the consideration of objectives and Canada's future commitment to fighting climate change. It is not national circumstances or the principle of equity that must be considered, but rather the principle of liability. By taking this principle into account, I think we can comply with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
There's only so much you can do, working with the legislation as you find it. So everything we've attempted to do here by way of amendment--and you'll see this again in the preamble in our amendments--is chiefly to update this legislation to reflect how the world has moved on since the bill was drafted. It has been nearly a year and a half since it was first presented.
It's not our bill. We're attempting to lay out the principles to guide future governments without overly restricting them and attempting to guess or anticipate where the world may take us. We want the direction and the ambition to be clear, but it will always be contextual, based on the science and the competitive aspects of what other countries are doing.
I think that's about as good as we can do, because we're notionally writing a piece of legislation to get us to 2050. That's pretty much it.
I don't think it's any more difficult to establish the historical record on greenhouse gas emissions than it is to establish the historical record of a company that has been polluting a site, say, for an awfully long time. We actually have the evidence. Economic historians do know how much carbon dioxide has been emitted by industrial countries over the years. There is a record of coal burned. I'm an economic historian, and I can tell you there is a pretty good record of what the burn rate was, literally, of coal in the 19th and 20th centuries by major industrial powers. That was the chief source of greenhouse gas emissions. That record is well known. There is an absolute correlation between the coal burned and the energy used and the economic success that accrued to those countries that did it first. That's what the Industrial Revolution was about. It is a known fact.
In terms of the principle of the thing, just as we would go back and try to penalize a company that over the years has built up its fortune by polluting a piece of ground, we're basically invoking the principle that one day or another the polluters have to pay, even if they didn't recognize at the time that's what they were doing, because the result of that activity was their wealth. They grew their wealth based on those emissions associated with energy consumption. That is the story of the Industrial Revolution, and it's known.
It is interesting that the UNFCCC said at Bali--and the minister did not contradict--that given that historical record, developed countries should see their reductions being at a minimum by 2020, with regard to 1990 targets, 25% to 40%. That is the conclusion you draw: you did it; you can't get away with it simply because you grew, or by saying that was then and this is now. You have to recognize how it is you got to be rich. That's how the west got rich, and they have to pay for it. We have to pay for it.
I will ask two quick questions, and then I'll close off here.
On the issue of the polluter paying, which you said, Mr. Godfrey.... I don't understand in effect what you're doing. I guess you're lumping it all together in a kind of national sense, in effect going back and tracing that the polluter doesn't pay. It's somebody else--the national government--who has taken responsibility for that. Maybe that's in fact what you're implying anyhow.
You don't speak in regard to GDP. Was there a reason for that? You spoke in terms of per capita, historical, scientific, but nothing in reference to GDP. Is that implied here somewhere?
We should thank Mr. Godfrey. We've had a history lesson and gone back to the 18th century and so on, and there will be a test at the end, so we'll be posting the marks.
On the amendment, may we proceed without my reading it? Everyone knows where the amendments LIB-4 and LIB-5 are now literally one, where they have been put together. I would like to vote on the amendment first. I call the question on the amendment to clause 6.
(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
(Clause 6 as amended agreed to )
These amendments come directly out of the testimony we heard from a number of the constitutional experts we brought before us.
I will be brief, yet I will ask for the committee's indulgence in some ways, because this is one of the more substantial pieces we're looking at today.
There are three specific concerns that we were able to find in the testimony. We've looked through the testimony significantly. The first piece of change is a reference to CEPA, particularly section 93 of CEPA.
Under the current writing of the bill, the regulation was deemed to be too broad in its authority. As committee members know--since we've referenced it many times at other hearings--section 93 allows us to focus in on the intention of the bill. It focuses on the government's power and the limits of the government's power to make regulations. It's referenced upon CEPA, which has already passed a challenge at the Supreme Court, and it is also what we borrowed from when we went through a similar exercise on Bill C-288. That's the main piece in limiting government regulatory power.
The second piece--again, we got this from the constitutional lawyers who came in front of us--was the specific legal wording to suggest that using the words “regulations under this or any other Act” anchors this legislation, which is a criticism that was first put to other standing pieces of legislation. This is not a stand-alone piece. It fits in with things that have already gone through--a constitutional challenge like CEPA and other things.
Third and equally important, to allow for greater certainty in subclause 7(2)--if committee members are following--around provincial and federal jurisdictions, the bill required greater clarity around what the provincial and federal governments were allowed to do, particularly, obviously, the federal government. The language we put into it, “any measure that it considers appropriate to limit greenhouse gas emissions”, is again very similar to Bill C-288. This would move the current subclause 7(2) completely out. It will later come up for the committee's reference in clause 9.
We think these amendments are strong, obviously, and speak directly to where some of the concerns were raised. This is the essence and the role of committee, to make sure that bills are as constitutionally sound as possible and reference current law.
The last thing I'll say before I relinquish the floor is that the very first portion of this title under NDP-2, the very first quotation that we come across, “regulations under this or any other Act”, acknowledges a government power that exists already. We're being in a sense overly explicit to say that the regulations the government may come forward with....
The government members of this panel have often said that the plan could be too wide-scoping, could be too this, that, and the other thing. never purported to outline the exact plan and the exact measures. We've all seen the charts of solutions. Bill C-377 was never intended to do that but rather to set the general direction for the government and allow the government to use the powers it has, be that a cap and trade system, be that auto emission regulations, or be that the various tools that are at the government's disposal. All of these amendments clarify those tools.
The government will find some comfort in this amendment, and we look forward to their support of it as well.
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank my NDP colleague for opting for a more consensual approach, one that is respectful of provincial jurisdictions.
I would like to move a friendly amendment to amendment NDP-2. Immediately following “this or any other act ”, I would add “within the limits of federal constitutional authority”. Basically, I would move the portion of text in subsection (b) which reads “within the limits of federal constitutional authority” to the beginning of the provision. Subsection (b) would then start with “limiting the amount of greenhouse gases that may be released”.
The amendment would then read as follows:
|regulations under this or any other Act, within the limits of federal constitutional authority
|(a) limiting the amount of greenhouse gases that may be released into the environment;
|(b) limiting the amount of greenhouse gases that may be released in each province by applying to each province the commitment made under section 5 [...]
And so on.
Mr. Chairman, there is no guarantee that the territorial approach will be applied by the federal government. However, there are aspects of this amendment found in Bill . They make Bill somewhat more asymmetrical than we initially considered it to be.
If this friendly amendment is deemed in order, I think members would agree to it. In any event, it seems clear to me that BQ-2 will be defeated.
I was just going to point out for the record that in our Turning the Corner
plan we have before us some very specific regulations--development for that--to achieve the very same goals we have in the amendment the NDP have put on the table here. In terms of a regulatory framework for greenhouse gas emissions and the approach for determining those reductions, those targets, it's all here on page 9 and following in the regulatory framework for air emissions. It's under the greenhouse gases section in the table of contents.
So the approach is there for setting targets for existing facilities and for new facilities. There is a compliance mechanism here as well. There's talk in terms of all the detail of that.
It's kind of an overlap, a duplication, if you will. I guess the NDP wants to propose it, but it is not necessary, in view of the fact that we already have something black on white in respect of that. It's laid out in the Turning the Corner plan to achieve the goals in a very specific way.
Are there any other comments?
We have the amendment then, and I think everyone understands that that goes right after “any other Act”, and we simply move the first part of (b) up to fit after that.
Those in favour of the amendment?
(Amendment agreed to)
(Clause 7 as amended agreed to: yeas 7; nays 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
(Clause 8 agreed to)
(On clause 9--Canada to meet its commitment and targets)
I think there are some complementary changes required that this may not take into account here, some of the G8 major emissions initiative. They're dealing with climate change right now, and they're considered partners, at least to advance the discussions, and then those processes will feed into the United Nations to advance, in effect, a global framework with some of the world's largest emitters.
We're already committed to developing those global kinds of frameworks for climate change, and that involves all of the world's emitters. I think our pressure as a government in terms of bringing in those other partners has been pretty evident. It's played out in the media; it's been widely recorded.
I think, in view of that, I would have to disagree with the proposed amendment by Mr. Godfrey.
This clause refers back quite a bit to clause 7 in general. In terms of laying out those targets, this is the clause that now talks about how it is that government goes about achieving these targets. We wanted to tighten up a couple of pieces in the legislation on this. One is with respect to the timelines. Well in advance of where the government is headed, it has to report back to the Canadian public as to what achievements have been made and then declare itself with respect to its next target.
This is an accountability measure, again, as we've seen in other amendments we've made, that's been lacking. A lot of these changes are going to flow from the now adopted changes we've made in clause 7, and committee members can look through the rest.
There's one shorter timeline for the first target date. That's because we're now into 2008. But subsequent to that, there's a healthy amount of notice for the Canadian public to see--whatever the government of the day, whatever its political stripe--that this is what the law requires them to publish and to then conform their actions to. We think this type of accountability measure is long overdue when it comes to dealing with climate change in this country.
I thank Mr. Godfrey for his intervention, and the language we can clean up.
This allows committee members some level of comfort, because we heard--in various iterations of climate change legislation--when the business community has testified, they've often lamented the lack of certainty that comes from government in making their long-term investment plans, whether it be major manufacturing, the auto industry, or energy production. The reason this clause exists, in allowing such long timelines in advance, is to send those signals clearly to industry: this is where the target is going to be; make your modifications and investments now.
If this is the effort we need to take on in order to reverse course, then we have to eliminate all of the excuses or reasons--depending on your perspective--that we have heard as committee members and governments and the Canadian people for too long. So this is an important one that allows certainty in the broadcasting of a clear signal to industry to make the investments required to change course on their pollution. Regardless of the government's comfort or discomfort with the bill, I'm sure they can support and confirm that level of certainty, having heard from many in both the business and environmental communities.
Chair, I remind Mr. Cullen that is already happening. There is a certainty with the Turning the Corner
plan by regulation, and what he's proposing is to provide a great deal of uncertainty for industry and moving forward.
My question refers to his date. He has a date of December 31, 2008. I remind him we are in March 2008. Our Liberal members know how long it takes to move a regulation. Our Turning the Corner plan is a regulatory framework--and it takes time.
I think is a very poorly written bill, and we're having to basically rewrite it. We already have a good plan in place, and so I'm not particularly interested in helping Mr. Cullen try to make a very bad bill palatable.
This is a very important point. In his amendment is a proposed date of December 31. It's not realistic. It's a bad bill, but you still have to have some realistic targets and dates set.
I guess my question for Mr. Cullen is whether he honestly thinks you can legally get a regulation in place in that short period of time. The answer, I could tell him, is absolutely not. It's not realistic. What magic is he imagining here?
I'm glad the parliamentary secretary asked me this question, for two reasons.
I think one of my favourite moments was when we had his boss here some months ago, and I asked him why, after two years of being in power, there hadn't been one single regulation issued by his government to deal with greenhouse gases--in two years, which is a healthy amount of the time to issue any regulation. Since then we're still waiting.
There's a framework rumoured to come out, with an issuance of a regulation meant to be happening this summer. This is saying that the regulation--whatever government comes up with--must take us to the 2015 mark to allow business a minimum of that level of certainty. Those regulations are coming forth from his government. I don't trust the regulations to pick the right target and appropriate timelines. That's what this bill is ensuring for Canadians.
In terms of the pacing and timing of how long it takes, we're now sitting in March, and he's saying that unfortunately it's impossible to get to a regulation by December. Meanwhile, his government's planning to issue them in June. So it's either one story or another. Either his government is issuing these regulations or it's not. If it is able to issue regulations, as it's been claiming all of today and many days prior, then clearly this bill fits nicely in with its plans. What this bill does, though, is use a science-based model rather than some fancy hocus-pocus to decide on where the target should be.
Obviously, Mr. Cullen--and I consider him a friend when we walk away from this committee--is passionate about the environment, so I'm not trying to discredit him at all, but he obviously does not know how a regulation is formed.
My question would be, through you to one of our supporting staff, who can tell us how long it takes to form a regulation? There is a procedure to follow. There's a process, and in my understanding it's about 18 months. There has to be a notice of intent to regulate. There's the gazetting process. Our government tabled a notice of intent to regulate in April, and then there's this process.
My question, then, through you, is to the staff. Who can guide this committee? What's the process to get a regulation in...?
Good day, Mr. Chairman. My name is Michel Arès and I work for the Justice Department at Environment Canada's Legal Services.
Unfortunately, I must give a lawyer's answer to Mr. Warawa's question. It all depends on the regulations. According to government policy, draft regulations must be published 30 days in advance in the Canada Gazette and comments from the public must be considered.
Depending on the complexity of the regulations, what is at stake, who is consulted, and what they're consulted upon, it may take three months, one year, two years. It's not really a legal question.
No, it wasn't, and I have a further question.
Thank you for answering. It provides a very general context. Your answer was that it depends on what's being considered as regulations.
What we're considering here is a huge form of consultation with industry at setting targets that are going to be stringent greenhouse gas targets to deal with on an international stage, but affecting Canadian industry. Do you see that as a three-month process? I don't, and I'm thinking this is quite complex, to be setting these international 2050 targets that are going to affect every sector of industry in Canada. To do it properly would take a while.
Your answer was very general: three months to two years. Do you have a feeling of how long it may take for what's being proposed in ?
To finish my point, Chair, as the record will show, I made an offer to the parliamentary secretary to substantially contribute to this bill, and he chose not to take that offer.
The government has been working with this consultative process going back to the beginning of 1992, in great substance since 2000, and then beyond. It's not as if the conversation got started from ground zero. This has been going on for many years, and we've heard that from witnesses. We've heard the round tables and various iterations of this government, previous governments, on and on. Any suggestion of delay, more time, and more consultation is the problem in Canada. I don't think that would meet the smell test for most Canadians.
The Alberta government proposed regulations in March to bring in in July. We're suggesting December, if regulations pass under this bill. If the parliamentary secretary has a better idea, he can move an amendment. He has chosen not to do that.
I think we need to move on. Unless the government is willing to step up to the plate with serious and credible regulations, having spent more than two years in office without a single one coming forward, the credibility gap is simply too wide.
I would like to come back to Mr. Godfrey's item and get this approved so we can put the wording correctly.
At the beginning of this, we would put--and Mr. Cullen, I hope you agree--“A regulation made under subsection (1)” instead of “regulations”. It would read: “A regulation made under subsection (1) to ensure”, etc.
We're voting on amendment NDP-3--
A voice: I think it has to remain plural.
The Chair: It would be “regulations”, plural? Okay. It would end up reading like this: “Regulations made under subsection (1)”.
This is proposed subclause 9(3). I am losing track of how many times the NDP has to amend its own bill.
Mr. Chair, as for the language here, we're calling it another tool in the tool box. I think the government's tool box already incorporates a number of tools in our Turning the Corner plan. We already recognize the fact, for example, that climate change is a shared priority across all jurisdictions and communities; it's not just the federal government's responsibility. We acknowledge that the provinces have a role, that our communities have a role, industry has a role, and individual citizens have a role. So in terms of the tool box, I think we already recognize that this is a shared priority across all jurisdictions.
We are as well taking significant action, as the federal government, within our own jurisdiction to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We recognize that it can't be done by federal action alone.
We recognize, in part by our actions with the ecoTrust for the provinces, that there are tools that could be used to assist the provinces. In Ontario alone, I think that allows us to help close Mr. McGuinty's coal-fired generating stations, as one example, which is something he was unable to do himself, Mr. Chair. We recognize there has to be that kind of partnership. It's not going to take federal action alone. Certainly Ontario now can take some action, because we're helping it.
This takes the involvement of industry. We're involved in a wide-ranging process with industry, Mr. Chair, to come up with regulations to help effectively set the carbon price for industries to comply.
It takes the actions of individual citizens. Take, for example, our eco rebates to help retrofit homes for energy efficiency. I just had an energy audit on my own home, and my wife and I are going to try to make improvements for energy efficiency to our own 35-year-old home. So it takes the efforts of individual citizens. That's what our Turning the Corner plan is based on. It's based on a number of those things, Mr. Chair.
Our budgets have reflected the fiscal levers of the government to complement our actions, not only alone but in conjunction with others and with individual citizens, to achieve these types of goals, Mr. Chair.
It is evident that this government, through our Turning the Corner plan, through our budgets, is working with all of our partners, taking an integrated approach, not just with respect to greenhouse gas reductions, Mr. Chair, but we're also interested in pollution reduction--
I counted six separate occasions today when the members of the government talked about the need for analysis. I'm just wondering if it would be possible to request from the minister's office all of the analysis that was performed to backstop the government's Turning the Corner
For example, Mr. Watson just referred to budgetary items. Could he maybe help Canadians understand what analysis backstopped the ecoTrust; what analysis was performed to show exactly how many greenhouse gases would be reduced; what analysis was performed to substantiate their claims on the bus pass measures; and what analysis was performed--any kind of econometric analysis, modelling, whatever--by the government? We have seen nothing at all.
In fairness, the members keep raising the need for analysis in this bill. I'm wondering if they can help us understand what that means in real terms. Could the parliamentary secretary, through the minister, request full disclosure for all Canadians and all members of this committee on all the analysis performed, all the modelling performed inside government and outsourced to consulting firms? We would very much like to see exactly what was done to arrive at the numbers the government is putting forward.