I appreciate the comments of the member opposite. He mentioned clause 10 a couple of time in there; I'm not sure if he actually commented on clause 10. He gave a pretty big lecture about the politics of the environment, but we do have important privileges here in how we arrive at these bills in terms of process. It's not simply about having the votes around the table, but the opportunity to fully debate this particular issue, which brings me to the issue at hand with clause 10, as amended.
We've been involved in some pretty important discussion here at this table. Certainly this side is interested in fully debating this and exploring the ramifications of this particular bill, as well as this particular clause within that bill. I want to zero in.
Of course clause 10 as amended mentions a number of potential tools available to the federal government as it addresses the issue of expected reductions. It talks about targets, emission limits, mechanisms, fiscal incentives, and things like that.
Mr. Chair, I'm going to start with one of the ones mentioned, the so-called just transition fund. I think this is an important mechanism. It is important first because of its name. The opposition says there's a need for a just transition fund; the implication, of course, is that the transition for industry and working families under this particular bill will be anything but just.
What does an unjust transition for working families in Canada mean? Well, I think the cold, hard truth, Mr. Chair, is that a mechanism such as the one mentioned in clause 10 would translate into job losses.
That's not just a flight of fancy stated by an opposition member here today, Mr. Chair. We've heard testimony at this particular committee. Take, for example, Mr. David Sawyer, an economist at EnviroEconomics. He was asked to speak about the economic implications and suggested policy measures perhaps similar to those mentioned in clause 10.
Here's what Mr. Sawyer had to say in front of this committee. In terms of achieving targets and with respect to Bill C-377, which includes, of course, clause 10, he said that we couldn't achieve these--and here's the quote--“without significant economic dislocations”. That's on page 4 of the testimony before this committee on February 6, 2008.
“Dislocations” is a bit of a sanitized word, but what it really means is job losses. That translates into a very important human cost, one that the opposition intentionally designs in naming a just transition fund. Remember, they accept in clause 10 that the transition under this bill to these targets will be anything but just for working families.
Let's go a little further into Mr. Sawyer's testimony before this committee. He referred to his economic modelling, which he didn't think was extremely costly. I'm going to quote here again; this is page 5 of the testimony from February 6. He said, “This national picture masks some sectoral and regional variations.” He said that there will be “competitiveness impacts”. He says, and I quote, that for industry, “...competitiveness impacts will be real and significant for some segments of the economy”. He implies further in his testimony that at least partly a factor that could contribute--and that's jobs for working families--is manufacturing moving to China. He said there were many factors in that particular trend, but this is certainly one of them.
In terms of a “just” transition, for example, how just is it to put an auto worker out of a job today without any guarantee or certainty about where they're going tomorrow? How do you lead a family through troubling times like that, Mr. Chairman?
When illustrating this point, I'm reminded of my own time as an auto worker. I worked on the assembly line at Chrysler and then DaimlerChrysler, and eventually Chrysler again, for six and a half years. It was a very difficult time for the industry. One of the plants I worked at closed down. The years leading up to the closure were unbelievably stressful. I don't think it's easy for some to truly appreciate job loss in that sector, or what it means to be living with that kind of uncertainty day by day in a family. As a young family at the time, we had two kids when the truck assembly plant closed down. We had just taken out our first mortgage. It was a time of enormous stress and uncertainty, and we had tough living conditions day to day.
The plant finally closed. I was blessed in the sense that I had some collective bargaining rights to move to a different factory, but very many were without a job. That's what the economists call “dislocation”. This dislocation is anticipated by the opposition, forced by the opposition, when they talk about a so-called “just” transition fund for industry.
I think we have to anticipate the challenges of the industry. There are already difficult, challenging factors for the automotive industry. Consumers in the United States are battered; in many cases they are bankrupt or their credit is overextended, and they're not purchasing our vehicles anymore. That's a particularly troubling point for the automotive industry. That's one of the competitiveness factors Mr. Sawyer refers to when he talks about “competitiveness impacts”. We have to consider that as context for these types of tools and what this bill is proposing to do: force an unjust transition on Canadian workers.
There are additional effects. What about the automotive supply chain? What does an unjust transition look like for them? These are important things to spell out, Mr. Chair, because this could get to the scope of a just transition. How big would this just transition fund have to be?
It's not just the auto assembly jobs that are potentially affected by this measure in clause 10. Here's what the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association highlighted to another committee of the House--on February 6, 2007, interestingly enough. I'm reading from page 20 of the testimony before the committee. At that particular point they talked about the auto industry; Mr. Nantais, who was representing the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, expanded on it. He said it's not just the assembly jobs, but “...we look to our full supply chain”. That's everything from impacts on “...mining the ore in the ground, through to steel production, plastic productions, and petrochemicals”. The supply chain is vast, and the number of working families supported by that....
I know the opposition takes great delight in the debate around Bill C-377, in a sense kicking the oil sands in the shins an awful lot, but the extraction and refinement of petrochemicals and their uses in plastics that go into vehicles are all supporting workers not just in the extraction end of it in Alberta, but also in the struggling Ontario economy.
This is a critical time, and they want to impose an unjust transition. They want the government to take up a just transition fund, which I would suspect, Mr. Chair, would be of a very significant scope and magnitude.
In fact, I had the opportunity to probe that question with Mr. Sawyer before this committee. A little bit further on, I was boring down into the economic modelling that Mr. Sawyer had conducted and presented to this committee. His original costing was done on sort of a percentage of GDP basis regarding what it would cost this economy annually.
Getting down further into the numbers, I said to him--and it's on page 18 in the February 6, 2008, testimony before this committee--
||By GDP assessments, do you mean simply the cost of compliance, or do those include the income replacement cost you talked about?
Income replacement, of course, is for those who are dislocated and those who have lost their jobs in an unjust transition.
I went on to say:
||There is job loss and increased costs for energy, for example, that eat into fixed income for seniors. Are those costs reflected in your analysis of cost, for example?
He said “No, they're not.” He did say that those are the types of questions that need to be asked and answered.
And yet, Mr. Chair, when we debate clause 10 and we get into the substance of proposed mechanisms, we ask whether there should be costing done on some of these things. Of course the opposition says no, we just need to ram this thing through and leave it up to the government to decide--in effect, leave it up to the government to deal with the wreckage that they hope to create among working families in Canada, forcing an unjust transition on them.
These are important things. Mr. Chair, I would suggest that the best transition, the most just transition for workers in this country in fact is in the balanced targets and plan of the government in the Turning the Corner plan. It's a pretty comprehensive plan. I think it addresses some of the issues that are mentioned, perhaps some of the mechanisms here in clause 10. I want to point something out, and you don't have to take my word on whether the Turning the Corner plan with its mechanisms addresses the concerns of the auto industry.
Maybe this is painful for Mr. Cullen to hear, and for his party to hear. And of course maybe it's difficult for the two New Democrat MPs in Windsor, Mr. Comartin and Mr. Masse, to hear. Of course maybe this is difficult for his Liberal friends over there who are also pushing this unjust transition on auto workers, but maybe they'd like to hear what Mr. Hargrove has to say about our Turning the Corner plan.
I'm going to quote from the May 1, 2007, Toronto Sun. Here's what Mr. Hargrove says about the Turning the Corner plan: “It's realistic. They”—meaning the Conservative government—“understand it is going to have to be a long-term solution that will take some time.” He further goes on to say: “I think John Baird”--that's our environment minister—“is right on the money.”
He further said, in the National Post on April 27, 2007, that the environment minister, Mr. Baird, “listened and paid attention to the industry concerns in bringing in the changes he's proposing today”.
That's our Turning the Corner plan and our mechanisms, some of which may have some overlap with this clause, many of which don't.
Buzz Hargrove, head of the CAW, Canadian Auto Workers Union, fighting for automotive jobs in our region, across Ontario, says the government got it right. He didn't say the opposition has it right with or clause 10 of Bill C-377 or any part of Bill C-377. He says we got it right with our plan. I think that's an important thing. I know it may be painful for the New Democrats and the Liberals to hear that today, but this is important.
What does an unjust transition look like? I'm going to come back to the government's Turning the Corner plan and some comparison of mechanisms we've approached versus clause 10 in just a moment.
I want to go a little further. Let's start with Mr. Hargrove, again to talk about some of the challenges the auto industry is facing. I think the context is important when we're talking about the transition that is necessary here. Mr. Hargrove is laying out some of the context for where the auto industry finds itself. This is only one industry that's potentially affected by Bill C-377. Of course there are many others.
I am the chair of the government's auto caucus, and this is one area of particular interest that I want to focus on--an area that's extremely important for Essex and Windsor. Mr. Chair, let's talk about the contribution of the auto industry. Here Mr. Hargrove is talking about the scope of the industry. This is right now. It's going to be profoundly affected by an unjust transition from Bill C-377. But here's where they're at now. He's talking about the “big three” within the auto industry, which manufacture here, and he's talking about the industry providing 80% of the jobs, buying almost 85% of the automotive parts, mainly in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. He says they're all struggling. It's difficult times for the industry.
Of course the opposition.... What do they want to do through Bill C-377? They want to put their foot on the throat of a struggling automotive industry in Canada, and they want to finish it off. Those aren't my words; here's what Buzz Hargrove said. And don't just take my word for it. I know a lot of people say, well, that's Jeff; he's biased about this. Here is what Mr. Hargrove says. Let's go back to February 24, 2007. He is talking about shutting down the auto industry. That's the effect of the climate policies of the opposition parties. He says it's suicidal for our economy. These are significant statements. It's not my hyperbole, Mr. Chair.
On CBC.ca, on April 26, 2007, he talks about doing these environmental changes “in an intelligent fashion that doesn't jeopardize thousands of jobs in the auto industry or the overall economy”. Clearly he is concerned. This is a critical time for this industry.
On February 06, 2007, when he was talking about the industry before the legislative committee on Bill , he said:
|Whatever we do, it can't be so onerous that it takes already crippled companies that are providing jobs for people and undermines their ability to survive.
It's pretty significant: “undermining their ability to survive”. It's a difficult transition time for this industry. This government wants to see them get there. Our plan is balanced, in juxtaposition to Bill C-377 in clause 10 and these measures. We took a balanced approach. We're going to help them make the transition; we're going to help working families make the transition.
What else did he say about this particular industry? He talks about vehicle emission standards, for example. He's talking about targets and standards that need to be “achievable, effective and constructed in a manner that compels improvements at the same time as they strengthen Canada's automotive industry”.
This Bill C-377 imposes an unjust transition on the industry--an unjust transition that's causing job losses. That's not strengthening Canada's automotive industry. That's putting an end to the industry here.
It talks about some of the North American context of this industry. Here's what he said in his testimony before , just over a year ago:
||We're the only country in the world with an auto industry that is fully integrated with that of another country that is 90% larger in market and production.
What happens in the United States affects us. The types of measures we take, the standards we take up and implement, and the targets are all critical for this industry, that we do it in a way that helps the industry get along in a way that recognizes the integrated North American nature of this industry and also some of the threats from within that integrated market.
That's what we're doing, Mr. Chair. That's what our government is doing. We're taking a responsible approach, unlike Bill C-377 in clause 10.
He goes further, talking about some of the specifics of the industry, itself. This is what we're transitioning from to where the NDP wants to take us. He says that more than 80% of the engines we build in our plants in Canada are V8 engines. The rest are V6. We don't build a four-cylinder engine. To take a V8 engine plant and rebuild it to produce four-cylinder engines requires at least a billion dollars, and you need to have a market that is not there today. So there are some real competitive challenges.
As Mr. Sawyer said before the committee, competitiveness impacts will be “real and significant” for some sectors of the economy if you're trying to force this kind of change, as the opposition is trying to do, on the industry. Here we have an industry, with words like “crippled companies”, with some competitiveness issues. And Bill comes along with these particular mechanisms. They want to force an unjust transition on the industry.
Beyond that, we've raised it time and time again to the uncaring and unsympathetic ears of the opposition. Remember, if they're willing to force an unjust transition on workers, they don't really care. That's the reality, Mr. Chair.
Clause 10, Bill , hasn't been costed. What are these measures going to cost? How big is this just transition fund?
Quite frankly, the NDP doesn't care to cost it. They want to leave that to the government, perhaps, or to others. In other words, they want to leave the bad news to this government. They want to force the requirement on the government and leave all the bad news with them, to bear the responsibility.
No, Mr. Chair, we're not going to accept that. It's our moral responsibility to oppose what the NDP are trying to force on working families in this country. They don't even care to cost it. They don't want to tell Canadians the truth about how big this just transition fund will be. They want to govern, the New Democrats in concert with the opposition, without the responsibilities or the prerogatives of the government.
What kind of price are we talking about? Let's put some numbers to how big the cost could be. The carbon price was stated by Mr. Sawyer when he testified. I think he said that the carbon price was going to be $200 a tonne, and then he said plus 50%, or it could be more, even $300 a tonne. That's a big cost, of course. There has been no costing of the instruments, though, in clause 10.
There's a significant amount of uncertainty, he further goes on to say. I'm going to quote again from Mr. Sawyer that there's “a significant level of uncertainty in these numbers”.
So what's missing, Mr. Chair? There are no costs around these measures in clause 10. These are the costly Bob Rae economics, where the Treasury be damned for rigid ideology. That's what they pursue over there. They don't care. They don't want to tell Canadians how big a just transition fund could be or how much money is going to have to be spent to put workers out of their jobs and then find them jobs later on. They don't want to talk about that. So much for the human cost.
Mr. Chair, I was listening to debate today on the budget implementation bill. The NDP were crowing about the triple bottom line, how they consider the human cost in everything they do. So much for the triple bottom line, Mr. Chair. They forgot the human cost inherent in Bill C-377 and these measure in clause 10. They forgot about that.
The reality is that when push comes to shove and the principles of that party are on the line, about defending the interests of workers, the New Democrats are completely off the bottom line in their calculations, Mr. Chair.
I say shame on them, absolutely shame. I know that Mr. McGuinty over there is mocking me, saying shame. I'm waiting for him to tell this committee, of course, when his brother is going to shut down his coal-fired plants, but we'll leave that for another day, even though we're helping him. Mr. McGuinty didn't like that, but that's all right.
Do you know what these clauses, like clause 10, represent in Bill C-377? They represent a disturbing pattern of NDP and Liberal disregard for workers and their families. It starts with their support of Kyoto after doing nothing about it for 13 years, Mr. Chair. This is part of the pattern. Bill C-377 is part of this pattern.
Here is what Buzz Hargrove said. Let's come back to him, because we're talking about the auto industry. Mr. Hargrove sets one of the first points of this pattern of disregard. Here's what he said about honouring the country's original Kyoto commitments. It would be “suicidal for our economy”. He said “you'd almost have to shut down every major industry in the country from oil and gas to the airlines to the auto industry”. He's not saying you'd have to close down a couple of plants. You'd have to shut down every major industry, including the auto industry. And he says that just “doesn't make sense”. That was quoted from The Windsor Star of February 24, 2007. He goes on, of course.
We can go a little further. On the Bill C-30 committee, the clean air committee, there was a relentless pursuit of the California emission standard by the opposition parties--the NDP and the Liberals. Here is what Buzz Hargrove had to say about that in the Edmonton Journal of April 14, 2007. He talked about “the insanity of the environmental movement--everybody's trying to outgreen each other”. He said “Politicians have...the green god and now they're running with it for the next election”.
And here's what he says about California standards. And you'll have to forgive me, as there is a bit of a curse word in this, Mr. Chair, but these are Mr. Hargrove's comments. He said it "would mean every God damn product we build can't be sold here except the Impala".
He means here in Canada, for all the products we build. He said of those California standards, “If I sound upset, I am.... We're losing ground. Everybody seems to have given up on the auto worker.”
Of course, he's talking about the opposition. We already know what he said about our Turning the Corner plan.
He says that the New Democrats, the Liberals, and the Bloc Québécois have “given up on the auto worker”. Those are his words, Mr. Chair. This is part of that disturbing pattern of New Democrat and Liberal disregard for workers that we see here in Bill C-377, clause 10 being part of that, of course.
That's Buzz Hargrove on the California standards. First it's Kyoto and how bad it is, shutting down the industry. Further is their relentless pursuit of this California standard, meaning that every product we build except the Impala can't be sold here. Those were Buzz Hargrove's words.
What else did Buzz Hargrove say? This is testimony of February 6, 2007. I'm going to turn to page 11 and quote Mr. Hargrove as he's talking about the California standard a little more and what these measures may mean.
||If I could answer again, Mr. Chairman, California makes up about 10% of the North American market. Canada is slightly under 10%. Over 60% of their market in California is bought from Japan or South Korea or the European Community, so they don't have any auto industry to speak of. They have one assembly operation. So Governor Schwarzenegger can say he's going to bring in tougher standards, and it doesn't throw a lot of people out of work. There are three or four other states that do the same thing.
He goes on to contrast. He said:
||We have an industry that is so successful that we produce one and a half vehicles for every one we sell.
This is a valuable question, and the opposition is not listening, of course, Mr. Chair, because they don't care. He says “Why would we want to throw a lot of people out of work?” That's a very valuable question. That's about the unjust transition they want to force the government to enact for them. That's what this is all about. Why would we want to force a lot of people out of work? That's a very valuable question, Mr. Chair.
He goes on to say, “This is not California. It's a much different environment.” It's a context, of course, lost on the Liberals and the New Democrats.
He goes on further, Mr. Chair, with respect to the California standards, again, from page 14 of Bill C-30 testimony of February 6, 2007, to say, “Let me give you the example that was outlined to me recently.” The question, of course, that he's answering is the one I had asked him about the impacts after the announcement of two plant closures by Ford in the city of Windsor. I said:
||In the short term if the standards outpace the ability of technology to be put into the vehicles, particularly with respect to engine technology, what does that mean for a plant like the Windsor engine plant, which has 2,500 employees?
It was a very specific question for my constituency.
I asked Mr. Hargrove to tell me what a typical research and development cycle looks like for the auto industry from the time they get an idea for something to the time it's actually being put into a vehicle. It's important to consider when we're looking at the measures that could be available to the government for addressing policy issues. It's a very important question. This is where policy hits the road.
Mr. Hargrove answered:
|| Let me give you the example that was outlined to me recently. If we were to move to the California standards by 2009, that would mean the Silverado that we build in Oshawa and is built in three other General Motors plants in the United States could not be sold in either California or in Canada. So 20% of the market is gone from General Motors. That means we have four assembly plants and one is going to go.
Common sense would tell you that if a country says you can't sell something in Canada and you have to close one plant, you are not going to close a U.S. plant and keep the Canadian plant open when you can sell the vehicle outside of California. So the answer is that there is a direct correlation between what the government does here on the large vehicles and the large engines in the short term without giving some time to accommodate this.
Of course, Mr. Chair, again, the opposition wants to force an unjust transition on the auto industry. I can't understand it. Buzz Hargrove says “Why should we be putting them out of work?” I think he's still waiting for his Liberal friends and the New Democrats to explain that to him: why put them out of work. Why put them out of work, Mr. Chair? It's a very valuable question.
Not only that, Mr. Chair. Bill C-377 and its clauses, including clause 10, don't capture the scope of the entire problem we're facing, and that is that all global emitters should be involved in the pursuit of this. Of course that helps with respect to the competitiveness impacts mentioned by Mr. Sawyer. We can't have our competitors having a competitive advantage over our industry here as well, so they need to be on board.
Here's what Mr. Hargrove said with respect to bringing others on board. This is from CBC.ca, April 26, 2007. I'm going to quote him. He says:
||If we throw everybody out of work and we shut the whole economy down in Canada--we contribute about two per cent of the greenhouse gas problem--that will be offset by China, the United States and others, so there'll be no change at all.
He goes on to say:
||Let's just transfer all the jobs out of Canada to those countries and we'll all sit around and try to figure out how to buy their vehicles while their people are working and ours are unemployed.
This is what the Liberals and the New Democrats want to force on the industry, Mr. Chair. That's what this bill is part of, Mr. Chair. That's what they want to do. We need to bring all the emitters on board. There's nothing with respect to this bill, when we're talking about climate change, when we're talking about what we do. We need to have them all on board—that's the other scope.
This is the pattern of disregard for Canadian workers exhibited by the New Democrats and Liberals, exhibited here by their lining up to support Bill C-377 and clause 10. Mr. Chair, that is just insufficient.
As I said earlier.... Let me see here if I can find.... Just a moment while I get another quote, more evidence, Mr. Chair, more witness testimony. This is the testimony, Mr. Chair, page 20. Allow me a moment while I flip to that page.
In response to one of our colleagues who was asking about using a sledgehammer on the auto industry, asking what effect there would be on the auto industry, he says this is about the need of having others on board with us, Mr. Chair, having the proper tools, the proper negotiation, the proper agreements to bring others on board. That's what our government is trying to do, Mr. Chair.
I think this bill prejudges the outcome of that process, but we're at the table working on it.
This is Mr. Hargrove, page 20, February 6, 2007, before Bill C-30: “Even if Canada did everything possible, it couldn't do it by itself. If the United States doesn't do it, and if other major powers around the world don't move in lockstep, then you still have a problem.” And he asks another valuable question that the Liberals and the New Democrats just don't want to answer; he says “Why would we jeopardize everything that Canadians hold dear while others are going merrily along their way?”
I've heard the New Democrats. They worry about cars coming from China, from South Korea, which are going to take away jobs here in Canada, and yet they'll come to this committee, Mr. Chair, and they'll support a bill like this, while at international negotiations they'll support a pass for those countries. Let them continue emitting, let them build their economy at the expense of our workers. That's unjust, Mr. Chair. That's absolutely unjust.
Of course that's what the New Democrats are leading the charge for here at this committee. They want an unjust transition. They, of course, want us to bear the responsibility for that, but we're simply not going to accept that—absolutely not. That's why we have taken every opportunity in our power, at every turn, at every step at this committee, to do everything we can to oppose this bill. It is a bad bill. This clause within that bill is a bad clause, Mr. Chair. It's not going to get the job done, in terms of getting us to a transition for a better environment and allowing our economy to make the transition there. Our plan does that.
Now let's look at the measures in clause 10 and talk about our Turning the Corner plan and other measures employed by the government. Mr. Chair, some things are certainly mentioned in clause 10 in terms of things that are available to the government to address this issue. How do we tackle climate change? Let's talk about what this entails with respect to the automotive industry. Let's start there, Mr. Chair. It takes an auto policy, doesn't it, and this government has one.
They don't mention that, by the way, Mr. Chair. They don't talk about an auto policy helping. They don't talk about anything helping the auto industry specifically in clause 10. Maybe they don't want the government to consider the impact of the auto industry. But we have an automotive policy, Mr. Chairman. A few weeks ago, Minister Prentice announced the four pillars of this government's auto policy, talking about the first pillar being the best economic fundamentals of any economy in the G-7. Notwithstanding Mr. McGuinty's brother in Ontario, broadly speaking, in Canada, we have the best economic fundamentals.
Mr. Chair, that's the first pillar. We have to have low taxes. That's a fiscal measure. This clause talks about fiscal measures available to the government. We have low taxes for the industry, Mr. Chair. I'll remind the members opposite that they voted against that. Did the New Democrats support that, Mr. Chair? No, they didn't. Did the Liberals support that, Mr. Chair? No, they didn't. That's important. That's a tool available to the government, right?
We're talking about tools here: paying down debt; keeping our fundamentals good; keeping interest rates low. Lowering consumer taxes like the GST by two percentage points makes the purchase of a fuel-efficient vehicle that much more available to a consumer, which keeps somebody working on the assembly line and deals with the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, Mr. Chair. And that's only the first pillar of our auto policy: having the best economic fundamentals in the G-7.
The second pillar, of course, is dealing with things that recognize the integrated nature of the North American automotive market and building on those things through, for example, the security and prosperity partnership initiative, addressing competitiveness issues on the continent for the industry. It means building a new crossing at Windsor to increase trade throughput for the industry, and also to give predictability to the supply chain as they build these fuel-efficient vehicles for the next generation here, for Canadians, for people in North America, for people around the world. These are world-class products, Mr. Chair.
It also means dealing with a stringent fuel efficiency standard--a dominant North American standard--that will see this industry catapult ahead of our competitors, addressing the issues of climate change and emissions head-on while producing a competitive vehicle, and abating their costs across the entire North American market. That's an efficient tool available to them. That's doing it in a smart way. That's the second pillar of the auto policy. It is a tool available to government.
The third pillar of our auto policy is significant multi-billion-dollar investment in science and technology. We have a $9.7-billion science and technology strategy, and what did the NDP and the Liberals do when it came to that measure in our budget? We increased it by $1.3 billion in our last budget, and they voted against that. They didn't want more money for research and development into the next generation of green technologies for the auto industry, or anything else for that matter. They voted against it. The Bloc voted against it. Can you believe that?
That's a tool available in our auto policy. That's the third pillar: harnessing a significant portion of that research and development money to produce the green technologies to be built here in Canada. We want to commercialize that. We want to build those products here.
Here the government is saying we're going to partner with the billions of dollars of in-house, private research and development done by the automotive industry--most of it done not in Canada, unfortunately. We're going to work to bring that here. We're saying we're going to partner with those industries to produce not just the technologies that exist today, but the ones that have to get us beyond 35 miles per gallon.
Imagine an SUV or van that gets 35 miles to the gallon--that's incredible--and doing it in two product cycles. That's impressive. That's almost a moon shot in terms of the technology. I think one of the automotive executives said it would be like John F. Kennedy saying we're going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. That's the kind of technological change we have to achieve with this industry, not the kind of “step on the throat and end the industry” with this bill that the opposition wants to see.
We're building an auto policy tool that says “We're going to partner with you and help you do that research and development”. That could be anything. For example, I know my colleagues on this side of the table are interested in the fact that Quebec is one of the leading jurisdictions for research and development in lightweight metals and materials. That's very important if you want to increase fuel efficiency. We have to find the kinds of metals and alloys that will have the durability and strength we need in vehicles, yet have less weight so we get fuel efficiency improvements. It's very important. We're saying we want to partner in that way. It's good for the province of Quebec, the auto industry, and our climate. It helps the industry make the transition. We're making investments to move this industry along.
Those are the kinds of tools we're using, not this unjust transition fund mentioned in amended clause 10 that we're debating here today. That's the idea of the opposition. And it's sad that the Bloc is also supporting an unjust transition fund for the auto industry instead of supporting this government's investments in that type of lightweight material research and development that is being done in their province. They're turning their backs on that industry; they're not supporting it. They should be supporting those types of tools, not the unjust transition fund.
I see Mr. Bigras with a wry smile over there. But that's okay, Mr. Bigras, we're doing something. These are the kinds of tools we're talking about.
And the fourth pillar of our auto policy.... And again, the auto policy is just one tool. We not only want to do the research and development into these next-generation technologies; we want to commercialize them here in plants in Canada for the benefit of our workers as well. We're thinking about the next step. The unjust transition fund says, “Put the worker out now. Maybe down the road a 'green job' will be created, but we're not sure what sector it will be in. Maybe we'll train you for it or maybe you'll have to go back to school.” Something very uncertain like that is not good for building strong families when you don't know what your future's going to look like.
We're already thinking ahead with the industry, in terms of our tools, about where this industry needs to go. We're not just doing the research and development, but commercializing it into our plants. This is what the $250-million auto innovation fund is all about, as announced in budget 2008.
I will remind Canadians who are looking in on this, of course, that the New Democrats, the Bloc, and the Liberals didn't support that. They don't want to see green technologies commercialized in our plants in the near future for the benefit not only of our environment, but also of Canadian workers and their families. They don't want to support that, Mr. Chair--$250 million to help these plants do the retooling in their Canadian operations to manufacture these fuel-efficient components. They could be engines. They could be transmissions. It could be the assembly of vehicles, or research and development programs. There is a lot there, Mr. Chair. This is important stuff for the industry as well as for the environment. This is good for families and good for achieving.... These are the types of tools that our government is looking at and that the opposition parties are opposing.
Instead, they like this idea of an unjust transition, and maybe the government should have a just transition fund. That's their idea.
Here are some other tools available: a $2 billion investment by the federal government in biofuels, which is very significant to the industry, very significant to Canadian families who are involved in both farming as well as the petrochemical side, producing biofuels that are low in emissions--E85 being one, soy diesel. Ethanol and soy diesel are very important. In fact, in my riding we have a trolley that runs on soy diesel fuel only. It's a very interesting thing. It's good for tourism down there, good for the tourism jobs.
This is the kind of stuff, a $2 billion investment by this government...which, I will remind folks who are looking in, is a tool rejected by the New Democrats, for example, who voted against that back home. Of course, that means that Joe Comartin and Brian Masse voted against these types of tools to help our environment as well as help the industry along in making a transition and helping our working families. I can tell you that there are a number of Chrysler vehicles, for example, our minivans in Windsor, that are produced with E85 technology and need this biofuel.
Our farmers have come through two of the roughest years under the Liberal government, with low commodity prices, selling off their equity, losing their equity in their farms. For them to be able to capitalize on a booming industry, with commodity prices for corn and soy beans that are going well for them, to produce these types of vehicles.... Our investments are helping to support that, Mr. Chair. I'm not going to sit here and say that's the only thing driving commodity prices, but we're contributing to that by creating demand for these products to be mixed into traditional petrochemicals to give us a much better fuel mix that's good for emissions and good for working families.
I know that my workers at the Windsor assembly plant, which is where I spent my last two and a half years, on the assembly line, appreciate the E85 technology.
It's not just making the investment in the biofuels themselves. What other tools are available to this government? Clause 10 talks about tools. We made some investments, actually, in supporting E85 infrastructure in the current budget, Mr. Chair. What did the opposition parties do? They lined up against it and they didn't support it. Shame on them. That is very bad opposition. I agree with Mr. McGuinty, who is saying “bad opposition” over there, “bad”. I agree with him. He's right. Shame on them for not supporting moving forward.
What does that mean for products like these minivans that are built with E85 technology? Where do they go? Can we use them on our own streets? That's the type of thing this government is involved in. They are good for emissions, good for reaching our targets. I'll remind folks at home that we have extremely tough targets, the toughest of any country right now, Mr. Chair. That's 20% by 2020, and between 60% and 70% by 2050. Those are very challenging targets. They are very good targets. They are good for the environment, Mr. Chair.
We are moving forward in a way that's good for lowering greenhouse emissions in this country and good for the auto industry.
What other tools are there, Mr. Chair? How about investments in public transit made by this federal government, not only in the infrastructure for public transit, but in transit passes to increase ridership, for example, to encourage people to get out of their cars and get into public transit; or investment in commuter trains from to Peterborough to Toronto, announced recently? How about the $500 million public transit capital trust 2008?
That's $500 million, allocated on a per capita basis. It's very significant for Ontario and Quebec, for example, my home province, who are dealing with these issues. I know it's one that Mr. McGuinty would be very happy about. I think they got $195 million for projects, making additional investments in public transit infrastructure. That's a pretty significant investment in public transport. It's good for the environment, good for our communities, Mr. Chair.
These are the types of smart tools being employed by this government. Of course, for the benefit of Canadians back home, let's remind them that the Conservatives, of course, supported these measures. They were in our budget. The Bloc didn't support it. The New Democrats didn't support it. The Liberals didn't show up to support it, and the ones who did voted against it. They're against those investments, multi-million-dollar investments, billions of dollars of investments. This builds on the $1.3 billion in budget 2006 in support of public transit infrastructure and the transit pass tax credit. These are very significant tools used by the government, very significant investments that are good for Canadians, good for the environment, rejected by the New Democrats, the Liberals, and the Bloc. Shame on them, Mr. Chair.
They rejected the approach of dealing with air pollution and pollutants other than greenhouse gases. Of course, we know, Mr. Chair, and you well know, Mr. Chair, that there's plenty of evidence, not only in your career, but plenty of evidence before committees of the House, the committee being one of them. We know there are significant co-benefits in addressing climate change by making reductions in other air pollutants. There are very significant co-benefits both ways, Mr. Chair. An integrated approach is extremely necessary to the health and the climate for Canadians. We're taking that integrated approach, opposed of course by the opposition parties.
I alluded to our science and technology strategy a little bit earlier within the context of our auto policy—$9.7 billion for significant research and development on a wide variety of fronts, many of them on issues that are important for our environment. It may have been controversial, but you talk about clause 10 talking about fiscal incentives. We took a controversial one, admittedly, in assessing green levies, taxes, to discourage the driving of gas-guzzling vehicles. As well, we instituted measures to get old polluting vehicles off our streets. It's very necessary.
Are they changing consumer buying habits—sure they are—to more fuel-efficient vehicles, helping them get the old vehicles off the road and getting them into new vehicles? It's good for the environment, Mr. Chair. We know that tailpipe emissions, in terms of greenhouse gas, are only 1% for these new vehicles. It's the old ones we need to get off the road, and we're doing that. It's also good for employment, Mr. Chair, in our factories—people building components, assembling these vehicles. It's very important to get fleet turnover, getting people to get into newer vehicles. It keeps the jobs rolling on the assembly line back home. That's very important. Our government is taking action on those measures.
What did the opposition parties do? Of course, they opposed them. They reject those measures. They don't like helping the industry move forward and the climate to move forward. Instead, they want to force an unjust transition on working families. They want to throw auto workers and others in other industries out of a job into an uncertain future. They don't know when the green job will come for them. They just don't know. Quite frankly, they don't care.
How about accelerated capital cost allowance measures? There was a unanimous report—very rare, Mr. Chair, as we can see in committee proceedings in the House. The industry committee had a unanimous all-party report on how to address issues facing the manufacturing sector. The very first one on the list was an accelerated capital cost allowance for industries to purchase new technologies, to make intensive capital investments to move their industries forward, to keep their workers working, Mr. Chair, and to exploit new opportunities and new markets for products. It's very significant to make these investments and to make them now.
Our government, in two separate budgets, implemented that measure. What did our opponents do? You have to purchase these technologies to build green technology. You have to purchase these things in our plants now. What did the opposition say? They voted against them. They'd prefer this unjust transition for workers instead of supporting sensible tools that will help industry move forward productively and make the transition that we need to get them to where they're producing fuel-efficient vehicles, doing so in ways that are innovative and with low impact to the environment. This is very significant.
It's this type of thinking that our government is engaged in. We're thinking about the health of these industries. That's what our Turning the Corner plan is all about. It contains the measures we're implying. That's what our budgets are dealing with. It's extremely important. We're taking a very proactive and long-range approach on that.
I think it's important to highlight that it was at one time a unanimous report. The other parties did say that they supported these types of capital cost writeoffs. Again, when principle came to action, they either sat on their hands, like the Liberals did, or they voted against them. Shame on the opposition for not doing things to move the industry forward.
How important is technology right now, Mr. Chair? Let's go to the testimony. Don't just take my word for this. Don't just take my word because I've been an auto worker and I've been involved in this industry; don't take my word for it.
In Wednesday, February 6, 2008, testimony before this committee--
Amended clause 10 says:
||10. (1) On or before May 31 of each year, the Minister shall prepare a statement setting out
||(a) the measures taken by the Government of Canada to ensure that its commitment under section 5 and the targets set out in the target plan are being met, including measures taken in respect of
||(i) regulated emission limits and performance standards,
||(ii) market-based mechanisms such as emissions trading or offsets,
||(iii) spending or fiscal incentives, including a just transition fund for industry, and
My colleague Mr. Watson spoke on that at length, and I want to thank him for what he shared with this committee.
||(iv) cooperation or agreements with provinces, territories or other governments; and
||(b) the Canadian greenhouse gas emission reductions that are reasonably expected to result from each of those measures in each of the next ten years; and
||(c) the level of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions in each of the following ten years to be used as a baseline to quantify the reductions referred to in paragraph (b).
Mr. Watson was speaking on Bill C-377, clause 10, and talking about what Bill C-377 will do to the auto industry. We've heard parables told to our children and grandchildren. Maybe each of us has read little stories and parables. We learn a basic truth or principle as we read parables. They're quite instructive and helpful. So as we consider Bill C-377, clause 10, and hear Mr. Watson sharing how this can impact the auto industry, I'd like to share a little parable.
Let's think about going into an auto store in Canada and being shown a beautiful vehicle with good fuel economy. Let's assume it's a hybrid, with leather seats, a sun roof, and new technology, but the salesperson does not allow you to look under the hood. They promise that this vehicle gets 100 miles per litre. It's phenomenal. Mr. Watson spoke of new technology. They're not going to tell you what that new technology is, but they tell you it's incredible. You say you'd like to take it around the block. They say you can't take it around the block. You can't drive it, but it will deliver these incredible 100...let's say 200 kilometres per litre. It's phenomenal. You can't drive it, but it is actually incredible.
What's likely the next question somebody is going to ask? It will be available next year or the year after, but what will it cost? What is the price tag on this technology that is supported by lots of promises? They say “You can sit in this, but I can't start it up for you yet. It's in the showroom. It has leather seats but you can't look under the hood. We're not going to tell you what it's going to cost.”
How many people would buy that? It's all based on rhetoric and promises.
What we're seeing here with Bill C-377 is exactly that. It's not based on science; it's based on scientific targets, with no evidence that they are achievable. That's what we heard from each of the witness groups. There is no way they know whether it's going to achieve anything. It's all based on a dream. That's the analogy Mr. Layton used when he came to this committee.
He talked about his dream, his dream of the railway, and they had no idea how they were going to pay for this, but it was a dream that he had that Bill C-377 would move forward with these international targets.
Now, he knew about what was happening in Parliament and that the government had a notice of intent to regulate. The Turning the Corner plan was already moving forward. There were already positive signals in the marketplace that the Turning the Corner plan was already having positive results. We've even seen that recently with the Montreal carbon exchange, climate exchange. This is moving forward, and this would not be happening without a plan that has credibility, credibility that people are buying into.
Now, are people buying into the rhetoric of Bill C-377? The expert witnesses who came to this committee did not buy in. We didn't have anybody who was saying “Yes, I would be willing to pay whatever it costs for your dream”--not one.
So as we look at Bill C-377, clause 10, as Mr. Watson aptly warned us, built into this is a disclaimer. The disclaimer is that we have a transition fund, and the transition fund is for all the Canadians we're going to put out of work, because we're such big-hearted people--the NDP.
Well, that is morally reprehensible: to mislead Canadians by presenting a bill in the House--you don't know anything about it--just to make you look like you care about the environment. That's very serious to play with Canadians' emotions like that, because Canadians have a commitment, and we all know that--they have a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That's why we're having a healthy debate here around this table. It's very concerning when we have members of the opposition, and it's every member of the opposition, it's the Liberal Party that has a legacy of lots of pomp, lots of announcements, but never getting anything done. And it's not that they just didn't get it done; it's that everything got worse under their lack of plans. All it was was announcements, and we heard that from the commissioner. That's what we see in Bill C-377, clause 10: announcements but no substance.
So I think it is morally reprehensible for the NDP to present something, and then to shout and huff and puff and say this has to go forward for the environment, when there's nothing there. It's as phony as a $3 bill. Maybe that's why it's called Bill C-377. It's as phony as a $7 bill. It's phony right to its core, because there's no substance. It is that car with lots of promises, nice leather seats,and it even has a sun roof, but you can't start it, and there's no proof it will ever.... But just send us all your money and hopefully one day we will have something that will work.
But they don't have a track record. Has the NDP ever given Parliament a bill that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Not once. They do not have a track record that is to be trusted. They're great at buying birthday cakes or celebration cakes, making the announcements when they crack deals with the Liberals. But they do not have a legacy of substance; it's also a legacy of announcements.
Now, they know they're not very likely ever to be government, so they can come up with a bill that doesn't have substance. It's a lot of rhetoric. So that's why as government we have a responsibility to protect Canadians, to make sure that what Canadians have is something that will really work. And that's the legacy of this government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper; it's a legacy of keeping his promises and getting it done.
Referring to Bill C-377, clause 10, we had a comment. And I believe that every member of this committee has a passion for the environment. I really do. I believe personally that Mr. Cullen, who is lobbying for this bill and for his leader, , does have a passion for the environment. I believe every one of us--Mr. McGuinty, Mr. Regan, Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Scarpaleggia, Mr. Bigras, Mr. Lussier--has a passion, but each of us is following the direction to some extent.
Mr. Chair, you are doing a great job, and you are a neutral party, and we all want to thank you for putting up with what's happening in this committee, which is consideration of Bill C-377, a phony bill right to its core.
Further evidence of the genuine desire of Mr. Cullen to see something happen in the environment while lamenting the lack of action on it, and of how excited opposition members, including him, get when the government fails, was heard on March 12, when Mr. Cullen, speaking to the environment commissioner, said, “I suppose that as opposition members we should be excited when there are reports in the Auditor General's office, the commissioner's office, that show government failure.”
Well, Chair, it's nothing to be excited about when we see growing emissions. Every witness group has said it will not support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through Bill C-377 because we don't know what that will cost. Now we have a glimpse at what those costs would be, and that glimpse comes from experience when we attend international meetings.
Mr. Godfrey was at an international meeting in Germany with me, at the G8 + 5, along with Mr. Cullen, and we heard how important it is to have a plan that's realistic. And I have shared before with the committee that the plan has to have a realistic timeframe with realistic targets, and that each country is unique and different.
That's why we asked Mr. Bramley, when he was here as a witness just after Mr. Layton on Bill C-377, whether Canada's unique circumstances had been considered in Bill C-377, whether it had been costed. And his response was that Canada's unique circumstances hadn't been considered, it hadn't been costed, and it should be considered. That's why I've asked every one of these committee members here in the environment committee to please cost the bill. Do an impact analysis. Stop this phoniness, and do what Canadians want.
Now they're refusing to cost this bill, as recommended by the witness groups, and why would that be? Well, I think Mr. Watson hit the nail on the head, Chair. When you look at the measures under Bill C-377, clause 10, they are so vague and meaningless and nondescript that you end up with nothing. And you end up again with their making these promises that this vehicle is going to go 200 kilometres on a litre of fuel, with no substance. The bottom line is they want to be able to get good announcements out there, and they are afraid to tell Canadians what this will really cost.
My concern is that we're looking at possibly doubling the cost of energy to Canadians with Bill C-377. Doing what Bill C-377 is asking to do in a short period of time will have dramatic costs to Canadians--direct costs--and energy costs will be going up dramatically. That means energy costs to heat your home.
Canada has a unique situation. We're in the north. We have a colder climate. The climate is colder than in the United States, because we're quite a bit north. That's why a lot of Canadians fly to the United States, where it's warmer during the winter. They call them snowbirds.
We have a colder climate. It takes a lot of energy to keep our homes comfortable and warm. There are some practical things we can do. As a government, we have provided the tools in our Turning the Corner plan to help Canadians upgrade their homes so they use less energy and are still comfortable.
You have to have a reasonable amount of time that Canadians can do that. You can't say to all Canadians that they must reduce the amount of energy they're going to be using in half within a few years. It's not possible to do that. You can't say that every Canadian has to drive a hybrid vehicle; not all hybrids have incredible fuel economy. You can't say that all Canadians have to buy a vehicle that gets 100 kilometres per litre. We don't have that technology yet. You have to be realistic in your expectations, and you have to provide a realistic timeframe. That's what we heard when we were at the international conference in Germany.
You have to create the tools too, including a domestic carbon market. That's what we have in Canada now: the genesis of a domestic carbon market. That's exactly what we were told in Germany needs to happen. And it is happening.
Canadians want an action plan that is realistic and that will see absolute results--not phoney announcement, but results. That's the legacy this government provides to Canadians. It's not like clause 10 in Bill C-377--vague, no direction, no substance. Canadians want action, and that's what they get in the Turning the Corner plan.
How is that Turning the Corner plan achieving that, and will our plan hurt the economy? There will be an impact, but it's over a realistic timeframe. In the end, it will result in absolute reductions of 20% by 2020. That's 150 megatonnes. If we were to continue to see emissions grow--