|| That, given the government's carbon tax will impose higher gas prices, and making “better choices”, as the Prime Minister suggested, will not help most Canadians heat their homes and buy groceries, the House call on the government to cancel plans for new taxes that would further raise prices on consumers.
He said: Mr. Speaker, when prices rise, the effective salary of average Canadians drops; the distance their dollar will go shortens; and it becomes harder and harder for people to pay the bills. In recent months, we have seen this problem worsen. Inflation has reached its highest level in a very long time, well over the 2% target rate that is set by the Bank of Canada. This means that the goods and services on which people rely actually become more expensive and more difficult for people to afford at their current salary rates.
The hon. member for will be commenting on this, as I will be splitting my time with him today.
Furthermore, the cost of servicing the very large debt levels that Canadians shoulder is also on the rise. Just last week, RBC and TD significantly raised their posted rates for five-year fixed mortgages. In the case of RBC, they went up by 45 basis points or almost 10% of the total interest rate charged to the average mortgage borrower, from 5% to roughly 5.69%. This is on top of record gas prices that are afflicting motorists, particularly in British Columbia but starting to affect people right across the country.
One of the root causes of increased costs for consumers is most often forgotten, and that is the cost of government. Government represents over 40% of our entire economy. Thus, when the cost of government rises, the cost of everything else rises with it, and that is the focus of my remarks today. Let me dissect how growing government costs cascade down to consumers at all levels.
Let me start with the proposed Liberal carbon tax. The government has said it will impose a tax on anything that requires fossil fuels to produce or deliver. What does this mean to the average Canadian consumer? The government admits that the carbon tax would increase the cost of gasoline by at least 11¢ a litre at the pump. The Liberals admit that the average households would pay roughly $200 more per year to heat their homes. That is all they are prepared to admit.
They have not calculated how much this tax would increase the cost of groceries, which of course are transported by truck and rail. Therefore, when the transportation costs go up, the costs are passed on to consumers at the end of the day. The Liberals have not revealed how much costs will increase for other household expenses, such as electricity. In many, if not most, provinces, electricity is produced by some form of fossil fuel, whether natural gas, coal fire, or some other source that would be affected by this carbon tax. Even people taking transit might end up paying more for their transit passes because so many of our buses continue to run on gas, diesel, or natural gas, all of which will become more expensive once this carbon tax is fully imposed.
Finance Canada has released documents conceding that the cost of the carbon tax would cascade down to consumers through higher prices. I have obtained documents from Finance Canada estimating how much those costs would be for households, depending on their income. The only problem is that the government blacked out all the numbers on those documents. We know from the evidence I have obtained that there will be higher prices for Canadian households; we just do not know how much, because the government is concealing that information.
Before the House now is Bill , the budget bill, which would impose a federal carbon tax of $50 per tonne of greenhouse gases.
The government is asking our permission, as the House of Commons, which has the exclusive power of the purse, to give the permission to impose this tax, without telling us what the tax will cost.
The basic principle of the power of the purse is that the government cannot tax what Parliament has not approved. However, Parliament cannot approve what it does know. Right now, we do not know how much this tax will cost average Canadians.
There is a whole series of estimates. Some estimate it will be $1,000 a household. Some estimate more, some slightly less, but the government will not say, even though it has performed all of the calculations. It knows; it just does not want Canadians to know.
This is a particularly insidious tax because all of its costs are embedded in other products. For example, the price of fresh fruit might become more expensive for a single mother, but she will not know what share of the extra cost of that fruit is the tax. She might assume that it is just that her local grocer has raised prices. In this way, the government is attempting to blame local shopkeepers, grocers, and other small businesses for rising prices that are really imposed by government.
An hon. member: What about people in the north?
Hon. Pierre Poilievre: People up north, my colleague rightly points out, will face even greater costs because of the enormous price of heating their homes in -40°C or -45°C weather and the enormous cost of transporting oneself across enormous distances. All of these activities will become exponentially more expensive.
The government says, “Do not worry; it is all revenue neutral.” That is another one of these fancy political terms that politicians like to use that cause most eyes to glaze over, including in the case of many of the people who use the terms themselves. I asked the , “Does revenue neutral mean free?” He could not answer the question.
I am not sure if he has answered a single question in his two years in Parliament, but he could not answer when on more than a dozen occasions I asked him what this carbon tax would cost. He can not and he will not say.
How can we even know that it is revenue neutral if the government will not tell us what the original cost is? How can we know if the average family is getting back what it puts in, in taxes, if we do not know what it is in the first place? The was in committee the other day, and he said that he would tell us in September, after he is given permission to impose it.
That would be like someone going to a used car dealer and having the dealer say he will sell the car and put it on a credit card, but the person can only find out the price for the car after the purchase is made—and by the way, there is no money back if the person does not like what he paid. In other words, if we make the deal now and agree to make the payment today, seven or eight months down the road the government will tell us what came out of our bank account.
That is not how business is done in a civilized G8 democracy. Here in Canada, government has the responsibility to tell people what it will cost before people are required to pay. That is why we are going to continue to fight against this carbon tax cover-up.
The carbon tax is only one area where the government is raising the cost of living. Eighty percent of middle-class Canadians are paying higher income tax today than when the took office. That number will rise to 92% of middle-class Canadians, and their average cost within the next three years will be over $2,000 in new payroll taxes, new income taxes, and other taxes. That is according to the prestigious Fraser Institute, which has conducted this calculation.
Canadians are paying more of all sorts of taxes. They are also paying more for their debt. Their debt levels are being hit with higher interest rates. As I pointed out earlier, major banks are raising the cost of interest on Canadians, and that is partly due to the increased bond yields on government debt. The more the government borrows, the more it makes it expensive for Canadians to borrow, driving up the cost of living.
Let me conclude by saying that on this side of the House, we will always put people before government. We will fight for lower taxes and more affordable consumer prices for all Canadians.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the hon. member for in kicking off this debate on the carbon tax and its impact on families.
When we talk about affordability, we mean the bottom line for the average taxpaying Canadian: at the end of the day, how much would Canadians be paying just for the basic cost of living? It is going up, and it is not going up because of market forces; it is going up because of government action.
The carbon tax is a big driver of it, but it is not the only one. There are things like minimum wage, payroll taxes, and government decisions on energy regulations, which are making it harder for companies to keep Albertans and Canadians employed. That is having an impact at the end of the day on the budgets of families, especially those in my riding who find themselves on the tail end of a recession, in a recovery that they are hoping will bring back jobs, which they are not seeing. What they are seeing is that at the end of the month, their bills are higher.
They are paying more for heat. Of course they are. Even the federal government said they are going to be paying $200 more to heat their homes. They are paying more at the pump. If they drive vehicles, they are paying upward of 11¢ more. People in British Columbia and Vancouver are now seeing the direct impact on their bills. Every single month, they are paying more. Life is getting more difficult, not easier.
I know the government will say it supposedly lowered taxes on middle-income Canadians. That is not true. It actually lowered taxes for every single MP in the House, who got the full benefit of that middle-income tax cut. It is like the government does not even know how the tax system works when it makes that claim.
Yesterday I had the privilege of sitting down with students and young people from CJPAC. We had an exchange of ideas and talked about issues of the day in politics. At every single table I went to, they expressed skepticism about the carbon tax. They expressed skepticism about what the government is doing because they recognize it. One young man told me what he thinks about the carbon tax. He said it would be like going to a dealership, picking out a car with his parents, purchasing a vehicle without knowing the price, and being told they will only know the price when they roll it off the lot. That is the only time they will know what the price is. That is how young people feel about the carbon tax.
The other side will say that it is nothing of the sort and that people like the carbon tax because they like doing something for the environment. People do, but this is not the only thing that they can do. There is an entire array of options. The previous Conservative government took advantage of them. Through regulation, it sought to reduce GHG emissions, and we know that GHG emissions went down. They went down.
We know that families are paying more at the pump. They are paying more to heat their homes. They are paying more for basic products.
Transportation has gone up. When we go to the grocery store today, we pay more for our vegetables, fruits, and meats. I notice that. I go to the Superstore in my riding and meet constituents, and everybody is saying that. The number one thing people email me about nowadays is the cost of living and how expensive it has become.
I always tell them I would like to be able to help them and that I would like to be able to tell them how much, on average, it will cost families, but I cannot even tell them that because the government is covering it up. It is covering up the true cost of the carbon tax on the average family.
It is interesting that every single other government program and initiative is costed out. Projections are usually provided on the estimated impacts. We know that the finance department has done this, but those documents have been redacted so that Canadians and Parliament have no way of knowing.
Before the House now is a piece of legislation asking us to approve a rebate program. How can we approve a rebate program when we do not even know the average cost to Canadians? How can we approve a rebate program when we do not even know how much it would cost the average family, those with kids, those without kids, those with higher incomes, those with lower incomes? The government will not give us that information, and as a result Parliament is not able to make a judicious, intelligent decision on it. It wants that information only for itself and not the rest of Canadians.
I have asked Order Paper question 834 many times now. I have also made access to information requests on the Alberta carbon tax rebate. It is a rebate program in Alberta that is actually operated by the Canada Revenue Agency. It would provide more detailed information on the true impact on Albertans, and the government still will not release it to me. It still will not provide me with that information. Finance officials at the finance department are completely unable to answer the simplest of questions: how much will lower-income Canadians pay?
I have moved a motion at committee to compel that information to be produced, so that during the discussions on the budget implementation act we would know the true impact on Canadians, on cost of living increases, and on affordability, so that we can make a judicious decision on whether or not this will work. However, we cannot even do that.
They say that stubbornness is the greatest ill. It is a Yiddish proverb, but it applies. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the government does not want to release the information. I have heard the argument that it is an old memo and we do not need that information now. If it is old, great, but release it and give it to us. If the information is old and that is why the Liberals do not want to release it, then they should update the information and make it public. They made a document public on Monday last week that has been roundly panned in the media. It is basically a showpiece, a sell job by Environment Canada, to try to make the case for their carbon tax, and it is the only thing they are doing on their side.
We saw that Australia abandoned a carbon tax after two years of trying to impose it on Australians. Australians revolted. They said no, the cost of living has gone up too high, it is unaffordable, and this is not the way to do it. That is where we are today.
When I travel the country with the finance committee, and when I speak to Albertans in my riding, I can see that people are fed up with paying more just for the basics of living. They are not asking to buy a highly rated Tesla and have it subsidized by a provincial government. They just want to buy the minivan, the basics, so they can take their kids to a soccer or hockey game.
In my riding, we have the Erin Woods arena. The moment the carbon tax was introduced, the arena started paying more. Articles started appearing in the Calgary Herald, saying how much more arenas were paying for heating and to keep the ice cold. They are not getting a rebate. The people who are paying more are the kids, through their registration fees. It is their parents and the dads playing a pickup game on the weekend who are paying more. They do not get a rebate. This is not revenue neutral. The government gains revenue. This scheme has been exposed in British Columbia; the carbon tax there is not revenue neutral. There was a full-on admission that it is not.
A line we often hear on the government side is that over 80% of Canadians already pay a carbon tax. Let us wait until June in Ontario. Let us wait until May 2019 in Alberta. How will that argument hold up then, when the residents of those provinces revolt against the endless increases in the cost of living imposed by the federal government and by bad provincial governments? That is what is coming.
As I mentioned, the cost of living is going up. This is not just because of the carbon tax, but it is one of the big drivers. The minimum wage increases, payroll increases, and income tax increases on companies all matter, and they all have an impact. It is the aggregate, cumulative effect piling onto businesses and onto workers. They are the ones paying more, and they then pass the cost on to others. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
I just do not understand the stubbornness on the government side of not wanting to reveal the information they have already, so that we can have a comprehensive debate. A member on the Liberal backbench basically confirmed that there is a cover-up. Instead of talking about that, we could actually be debating the issue, the cost to Canadians, and the benefits.
I hear members on the New Democratic side saying that if we do nothing, then there is a cost. There are think tanks, universities, and private consortiums that can calculate projections. They provide their forecasts online. When it comes to the government's information on the cost to the average Canadian, we cannot have that information, but this other public information is freely available to all of us. How can we make a judgment when we only have half the information?
We need the full information, and we need to vote for this motion because it is for the benefit of Canadians. It is bringing their concerns to the House. The cost of living has been going up for two or three years now, because government actions are raising the cost of living for everyday families, with no benefit whatsoever. All it does is increase the bureaucracy and pay for more civil servants who are doing work in Ottawa but not out in our communities.
Like the member for said, it is about people, not government. The carbon tax is not about people; it is all about government revenue.
Madam Speaker, I rise today to reaffirm the government's commitment to ensuring a healthier environment and a stronger economy for our children and our grandchildren.
Canadians know that climate change is real. Every year thousands of people are impacted by floods, wildfires, and other events. Extreme weather events are occurring more frequently and with increasingly severe consequences, and we are unfortunately seeing this right now in several parts of the country.
The costs of climate change are as evident as the impacts felt by Canadians.
From 1983 to 2004, insurance claims as a result of extreme weather events totalled $400 million a year. This amount has tripled over the past decade to $1.2 billion a year, because of unspeakable damage done to buildings, businesses, and lives. By 2020, climate change is expected to cost Canada's economy $5 billion a year. By 2050, it will be $43 billion a year.
The time for inaction and political procrastination is over. It is time to take the actions required to address climate change and position Canada for the clean growth economy of the future. This is exactly what Canadians elected our government to do, and this is exactly what our government is delivering.
We have a plan to reduce pollution and to meet our climate targets while growing our economy and creating good middle-class jobs. Our approach includes historic investments in public transit, green infrastructure, and clean innovation. It includes phasing out coal, improving energy efficiency, and cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.
As published in December 2017 in Canada's third biennial report to the United Nations, Canada's GHG emissions are projected to be 232 megatonnes lower than expected in the report released in early 2016. This decline in projected emissions is the biggest improvement in Canada's emissions outlook since reporting began, and is directly a product of the pan-Canadian framework.
Moreover, this improvement is widespread across all economic sectors, reflecting the smart, practical outcomes that can be achieved by a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to protecting the environment and growing the economy.
Let us consider what our plan has achieved so far. Greenhouse gas emissions are falling. Over 600,000 jobs, most of them full time, have been created since this government was elected. Canada's unemployment rate is at its lowest level in nearly 40 years. Since 2016, Canada has led the G7 in economic growth. Lastly, the federal debt-to-GDP ratio, which is our national debt relative to our economy, is on a downward track and is set to reach its lowest level in nearly 40 years. In short, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada are falling , while the economy is booming.
We know that this approach, investing in growth that strengthens and grows the middle class and helps those working hard to join it, is exactly the right thing for Canadians.
A core element of our approach to lowering emissions and ensuring a healthier environment is the polluter pays principle. When pollution has a price, polluting less saves money. Individuals and companies make cleaner choices.
Experts around the world, including the vast majority of Canadian economists, agree that carbon pricing is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. It provides companies and individuals with the freedom to make their own decisions on how to best cut their emissions.
A price on carbon works because it creates a powerful incentive to cut pollution, encouraging people and businesses to make different choices that save them money, like better insulating their homes or upgrading to more energy-efficient equipment.
There are also long-term financial benefits of transitioning to a cleaner economy, and many benefits that may flow from new technologies and innovations that are driven by carbon pricing. As some of Canada's largest employers have pointed out, putting a price on carbon pollution is just good business. It is already helping to build a clean growth economy and make Canadian businesses more innovative and more competitive.
Canada's five major banks, along with many companies in the consumer goods, energy, and resource development sectors, support putting a price on carbon, as do members of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, which includes 32 national and subnational governments, 150 businesses, and 67 strategic partners working to support and accelerate carbon pricing around the world.
Canada is creating the business environment that will strengthen the growth of a clean economy. Canada already has many success stories of businesses that are innovating. For example, CarbonCure is a business that takes carbon dioxide that would otherwise pollute and adds it to concrete. The result is less climate pollution and stronger, greener concrete. It is a win-win. Solar Vision Inc. is a company based in Quebec that provides solar lighting technologies. Enerkem takes Edmonton non-recyclable waste and turns it into commonly used fuels and chemicals. Agrisoma Biosciences Inc. is a biotech firm based in Gatineau. It is expanding low-carbon options in the biofuel industry by turning seeds into jet fuel. These and other businesses like them see the opportunity for clean growth. They see that technology can be part of the climate solution and will also be profitable and a source of good jobs.
This is an area in which I have a reasonable amount of personal experience. Prior to running for office, I spent 20 years as a chief executive officer and an executive in the clean technology space in British Columbia.
In B.C., climate action that includes a price on pollution has never come at the expense of economic progress. In fact, just the opposite is true. Over the past decade, B.C.'s carbon tax has reduced emissions by between 5% and 15%. Meanwhile, provincial GDP grew by more than 17% in the same period. Further, B.C.'s price on carbon pollution has stimulated a robust, growing clean technology sector that now brings in an estimated $1.7 billion in annual revenue. The pricing of carbon pollution that was implemented through the leadership of former premier Gordon Campbell has resulted in B.C. having the largest and most robust clean tech hub in the country, and one of the most robust worldwide.
Similar results are being seen in California, where a cap-and-trade system has been reducing greenhouse gas emissions while fuelling one of the strongest economic growth rates in the United States. Sweden has one of the highest carbon prices in the world, and it is showing strong economic growth and falling emissions.
In 2017, B.C., Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, the four provinces with carbon pollution pricing systems in place, were the top four performers in GDP growth across Canada. Obviously, that is the result of a number of factors, but pricing carbon is clearly one of them. Anyone who says carbon pricing hurts economies is not basing his or her argument on the evidence. Pricing pollution has a track record of success in Canada and all over the world. It helped us to tackle problems like acid rain while supporting clean growth and innovation. A price on carbon is already in effect in nearly half the world.
By giving businesses and households an incentive to innovate more and pollute less, we are fulfilling our commitment to invest in growth while respecting and helping to protect our environment. Even some members of the Conservative caucus agree. On B.C.'s price on pollution, the Conservative environment critic stated that British Columbia, “did the right thing”. On Manitoba's climate plan, which includes a price on pollution, the member for said, “I think it's a very, very smart plan.” The member for said, “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to both lower income taxes and clean up our environment through the pricing of carbon.”
Last week, Environment and Climate Change Canada released a report that provided further evidence of the economic and environmental opportunities associated with putting a price on carbon. The study found that carbon pricing would reduce carbon pollution by up to 90 million tonnes across Canada in 2022. That is like shutting down more than 20 coal-fired power plants. Carbon pricing will make a substantial contribution to Canada's 2030 target.
Carbon pricing alone will not get us there, and that is why our climate plan was designed to include a variety of other measures that work together with carbon pricing to reduce pollution. Our forecasts show that taken together, these policies are putting us on the right track. The report also found that GDP growth would remain strong with a nationwide price on carbon pollution. Canada's GDP is expected to grow by approximately 2% a year between now and 2022, with or without carbon pricing, and this finding does not include the huge economic opportunity associated with clean innovation.
Carbon pricing will help Canadian companies compete successfully in the global shift to cleaner growth, an opportunity the World Bank estimates to be worth $23 trillion globally between now and 2030. Canadian companies that develop new technologies or approaches will be able to tap into that massive opportunity.
When it costs more to pollute, fuel switching, energy efficiency, and clean technologies become more desirable and more valuable. Putting a price on carbon tells investors in Canada that getting serious about climate change is about getting serious about the transition toward a clean growth economy.
Given the challenge that climate change presents and the opportunities that pollution pricing creates, we are pleased to see that nearly every province has adopted carbon pricing systems.
We recognize that circumstances vary between provinces and territories. That is why the pan-Canadian framework gives the provinces and territories the flexibility to chose the pollution pricing system that works best for them. They can adopt a carbon pricing system like British Columbia and Alberta or a cap-and-trade system like Ontario.
To ensure that a national pollution pricing system can be implemented across the country, the government promised to set a regulated federal floor price on carbon. This system will apply to any province or territory that requests it or that does not create its own pollution pricing system that meets federal criteria.
Provinces and territories have until September 1, 2018, to confirm their carbon pricing approach. Wherever the federal carbon pricing system applies, the Government of Canada will return all direct revenue from the carbon price to the jurisdiction of origin.
More than 80% of Canadians already live in jurisdictions with carbon pricing in place. Our approach recognizes the actions already taken by B.C., Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. These provinces use the revenues in a variety of ways. They can return money directly to households and businesses, cut taxes, or fund programs that reduce the costs of clean technology. It is no coincidence that those provinces had the strongest economic growth in the country last year.
Addressing climate change is the critical issue of our age. It is an environmental imperative from the perspective of ensuring the long-term health and strength of our natural ecosystems. It is an economic imperative from the perspective of creating an economy that can thrive and generate economic prosperity for Canadians as the world transitions to a lower carbon future. It is a moral imperative for all of us from the perspective of leaving a planet and a country in which our children and grandchildren can and will thrive.
With some good will, hard work, and co-operation, together we can ensure a safe and prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.
Madam Speaker, I thank my esteemed colleagues, and I am sure they cannot wait to hear what I have to say. Let me begin by saying how very pleased I am to be sharing my time with my outstanding colleague from .
I am pleased to rise in the House once again to talk about a subject that means so much to me and is so crucial to those who will follow, as filmmaker Michel Brault would have said. Nothing is more important than figuring out what kind of environment, what kind of planet we will leave to future generations and our children.
The alarm was sounded years ago. Climate change is such a key issue that I have no doubt future generations will judge us as politicians on the basis of whether we do or do not rise to this challenge. It is a big one. The outcome could be disastrous. I know we do not want to engage in fearmongering or be unnecessarily alarmist, but all the projections, including those by scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, say that if we cannot prevent the earth's temperature from rising more than 2°C over the 1990 base year, the number of natural disasters will multiply. We will have massive flooding and drought, and people will become climate refugees. We are already talking about the asylum seekers knocking on our door. I think that is nothing compared to what could happen around the world if global warming becomes unstoppable and leads to climate extremes. In recent years, we have already seen the effects in Quebec, in Canada, and around the world.
If we do nothing, the situation will only get worse, and quickly. This is why, as New Democrats, as progressives, as environmentalists, we are in favour of putting a price on pollution. We support taxing carbon, which already happens in the majority of Canadian provinces. This is nothing new, and it is being done all over the world. Many experts have deemed the carbon tax an effective tool for changing the habits of businesses, corporations, individuals, and consumers. The goal is to transition from an economy that is dependent on fossil fuels to an economy that creates jobs in new sectors. Such sectors include renewable energies, green jobs, and more responsible energies that take the climate and the future of our planet into account.
We therefore heartily support the Liberal government's initiative to finally, after two and a half years, implement a carbon tax, as has been done in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and Ontario with carbon exchanges. This is absolutely nothing revolutionary or new. This is not about upsetting people or causing prices for consumers to rise unduly; this is a tool. It is much like a mechanism for us to exert pressure, change habits, and move towards something that is greener and more responsible.
Personally, I think the Liberal government's initiative does not go far enough, and I am not the only one saying this. The price per tonne on greenhouse gas emissions is not high enough to change behaviours and reach our targets. Speaking of our targets, they are not nearly ambitious enough. I would remind the House that the Liberal government adopted the same targets as the previous Conservative government, and we think these do not go far enough. Despite such weak targets, I still do not think they will be met, even if we go ahead with this carbon pricing. I am not the only one saying so. The OECD and the UN agree, and both are very concerned about the Canadian plan in that regard. The commissioner of the environment right here in Canada thinks so too. She believes that the Liberal government is going to miss its 2020 and 2030 targets, and we see that as completely irresponsible.
Another thing that is irresponsible is the fearmongering the Conservatives are engaging in here with this motion, which would have us do absolutely nothing.
I would like to remind the House again today, as I did last week, that doing nothing has a cost as well. Doing nothing to combat climate change will cost individuals, families, and our society as a whole.
On that point, the national round table on the environment and the economy, a body created by the Conservative government, indicated in 2011 that the costs associated with natural disasters would increase from $5 billion a year to $43 billion a year by 2050. That is huge. That is a lot more than the extra penny or two we will pay here and there for goods and consumer products as individuals.
I think we have to be cognizant of the fact that there are costs associated with doing nothing. In recent years, we have seen an increase in extreme weather events. We could call them natural disasters, but I prefer to call them extreme weather events, because we will be told that we have always had natural disasters, that it changes nothing, and that the climate has always changed. Very well, but at present, things are happening much more quickly and what we call extreme weather events or natural disasters are occurring increasingly more often. The average number of natural disasters in Canada has doubled over the past 30 years, and there is a cost associated with that.
From 1983 to 2004, insured losses due to natural disasters cost on average $373 million a year. However, in the decade from 2005 to 2015, the average annual losses more than tripled to $1.2 billion a year. We, the taxpayers, pay for that.
The federal government helps the provinces and territories recover from disasters, such as the Fort McMurray fire a few years ago, because there is a financial assistance agreement in place for catastrophes. The federal government paid out an average of $54 million in 1970. From 1995 to 2004, it paid out $291 million a year, and from 2005 to 2014, it paid out $410 million a year. We went from $50 million a year to $400 million a year just in costs covered by the federal government to help the provinces and territories affected by extreme climate or natural disasters.
Therefore, saying that we can continue to do nothing is not only irresponsible towards our children and future generations, but is also irresponsible in terms of taxes and the economy if we want to control public spending.
The federal fund that I mentioned earlier has paid out more over the past six years than it did in the previous 40 years. The increase in the cost of this fund over the past 20 years can be attributed directly to the increase in the number and intensity of natural disasters. Yes, there have always been floods, forest fires, and similar natural phenomena, but they are becoming more frequent and more severe.
I am going to quote from a document published by Équiterre, a Quebec environmentalist group that does a lot of work in this area and provides some fascinating information. Here is what it has to say:
|| We often hear that fighting climate change is expensive. However, many studies carried out by major economic players regularly prove the opposite. One after another, insurance companies, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, TD Bank, and other organizations have demonstrated that fighting climate change is not only necessary and urgent, but also makes good economic sense.
What are the consequences of climate change? There will be more extreme weather events, and they will have an impact on public health spending, agricultural productivity, financial coverage and risk, wear and tear on infrastructure, and general energy costs for heating and cooling.
Since it is 2018, I think we absolutely need to take action and take this issue seriously. We need to study the phenomenon as a whole in order to determine our responsibility as lawmakers, so that we can take the best possible measures to ensure that Canada and Quebec pull their weight in the global fight against climate change. The future of our planet depends on it, and so do our economy, our jobs, our deficits, and our public funds. We absolutely need to take action, and I urge the Liberal government to go even further.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to enter the debate. Climate change, as we know, is one of the most important and biggest issues, if not the biggest, Canada and the world are facing. The failure to show leadership and to take real action will have serious impacts on every aspect of our lives. We cannot afford to sit back and wait to see just how serious the impact is. There is a real urgency to act, and to act now.
Studies have shown that climate is becoming an increasingly larger driver of human migration, and this trend will only increase as climate change impacts become more significant. According to The Guardian, in 2017, senior U.S. military and security experts informed the Environmental Justice Foundation that climate change would bring about human migration of 10 million to 20 million people seeking refuge in the coming decades if nothing is done. This figure represents people expected to be driven out of Africa and does not include people driven out of other parts of the globe. That is just one global impact we can expect to see from inaction.
At home, thankfully, it was reported today that the unprecedented flooding in New Brunswick is starting to subside. Water levels have dropped from eight metres to 7.75 metres in Fredericton as of this morning. These record floods will impact every aspect of New Brunswickers' lives for years to come as they clean up, rebuild, and put their lives back together. My thoughts are with them, and I hope that all levels of government step up and help immediately to reduce the burden on these families.
While we cannot point to a single event and say that climate change did this, we are seeing a trend of higher temperatures and more extreme events, such as flooding and forest fires in Canada. The cost of these events on lives, productivity, and the economy is immense, and it needs to be taken seriously. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
To have a productive debate on what Canada can do to mitigate the impact of climate change on our economy and to make our economy greener and more sustainable, we need to set aside the grandstanding being done by both the Conservatives and the Liberals on this issue.
The Liberal government promised real change, and the truth of the matter is that we have not see that. The stood on the global stage and said, “Canada is back.” Really, are we? The Liberals have continued to give away $1.6 billion a year, every year, in subsidies to fossil fuel companies. The Liberals kept the Harper government's greenhouse gas emissions targets. The Liberals promised in 2015 that they would “make environmental assessments credible again”, yet they did not. The failure of leadership on this file instead led to Canadians, and especially British Columbians, feeling betrayed that the Kinder Morgan pipeline was approved under the regulatory regime the government campaigned on as lacking credibility and public trust.
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, auditors general in nine provinces and the federal environment commissioner recently estimated that on its current trajectory, Canada is on pace to overshoot its emissions targets for 2020 by almost 20%. The report found that at this rate, even if all greenhouse gas reduction actions in the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change are implemented in a timely manner, Canada will still be short of our 2030 Paris Agreement targets. The Liberals' grandstanding would have us believe otherwise, and that should not be acceptable to anyone.
The Liberals' approach, through the implementation of a carbon price, further demonstrates their lack of leadership and the difficulty of bringing the provinces together toward a common goal. The policy remains incoherent as they continue subsidizing the fossil fuel industry while claiming to be environmental champions.
The fight must be waged on all fronts.
It is ironic that the Conservatives are criticizing the Liberals on this front, because after all, the Liberals are using their climate targets. The Liberals approved pipelines under the credibility-lacking assessment regime, and they continue to give billions in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
The Conservatives did absolutely nothing on this file while they were in power for 11 years. In their fight against a carbon tax, the Conservatives are ignoring the real cost of not putting a price on carbon, all in an effort to grandstand. The Conservatives simply have no plan for seriously combatting climate change, and we saw that for a decade.
Perhaps in the minds of Conservatives, climate change can be dealt with later. Maybe it is an issue, like some of their failed economic policies, the Conservatives believe should be left for Stephen Harper's grandchildren to solve. Fortunately for Canadians and our future generations, New Democrats do not share that view. Many Canadians do not share that view, particularly younger Canadians, who are very in tune with and aware of the issues, who are taking this issue up, and who are rallying Canadians from coast to coast to coast to stand up and fight for climate action.
We welcomed the announcement of a carbon tax in Canada. The experience of B.C. and Quebec shows that carbon taxes have a positive impact on the environment and do not harm the economy. We see in B.C. and Alberta that there are ways to help low-income households handle any undue cost increases.
However, a carbon tax on its own is not enough. If this measure is not combined with other actions, Canada will not be able to meet its international commitments to the Paris accord. The government must ensure that revenue generated from a carbon tax is used to fund initiatives to make our country greener, more sustainable, and less reliant on fossil fuels. It certainly cannot just be set aside and used to continue funding subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. We need real leadership on this file to ensure that Canada can meet its 2020 and 2030 climate targets.
In September 2015, Canada and 192 other UN member states adopted the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The 2030 agenda is a 15-year global framework centred on an ambitious set of 17 sustainable development goals, 169 targets, and over 230 indicators.
The BC Council for International Cooperation, BCCIC, held a press conference this morning in response to the Auditor General's report, “Canada's Preparedness to Implement the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals”. What was reported, in short, was that the Auditor General concluded that Canada is not prepared to meet the targets. This comes from a completely independent source on the evaluation.
The five government departments identified to lead the implementation of the sustainable development goals agenda are Employment and Social Development Canada; Environment and Climate Change Canada; Global Affairs Canada; Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; Status of Women Canada; and the Privy Council Office.
The conclusion in the Auditor General's report states:
|| Overall, we found that the Government of Canada had not developed a formal approach to implement the 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals. The five federal organizations identified to lead the 2030 Agenda preparations worked together with the Privy Council Office after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda to begin preparing a national approach. However, despite some specific action at the departmental level, there was still no federal governance structure based on clearly articulated departmental roles and responsibilities by November 2017. We found no communication plan and no engagement strategy on how to include other levels of government and Canadians in a national dialogue on the 2030 Agenda. We also found no implementation plan or system to measure, monitor, and report on the progress in achieving the goals.
In short, we have no plan, we have no strategy, and now we are falling short. The failure of that impact, sadly, would be for Canadians to bear, so let us quit the grandstanding. Let us get on with it. Let us address this issue locally and globally.
Madam Speaker, it is a real honour to speak on this important issue. I will be splitting my time with the amazing member for .
It is important we have this debate, and I will read the motion before the House:
|| That, given the government's carbon tax will impose higher gas prices, and making “better choices”, as the Prime Minister suggested, will not help most Canadians heat their homes and buy groceries, the House call on the government to cancel plans for new taxes that would further raise prices on consumers.
The focus of the motion today is that Canadians are complaining about the high taxes that have been imposed by the Liberal government, and part of that is a carbon tax.
The introduction of carbon tax and new taxes that the government has imposed on Canadians have been carefully crafted and wordsmithed to make them sound good for Canadians. It is like a snake oil salesman saying that what is being offered will heal all our ills.
I carefully have made note of how the government and the NDP today are presenting putting a price on carbon. They say that it is important to have a market mechanism that will improve the environment, that will help business, that will build a new economy, that will be revenue neutral. It is going to do none of that, but that is what they are saying it will do.
Before I elaborate on that, I will reflect on past years.
I have have been honoured to represent Langley—Aldergrove in the House for the last 14 years. Before that, I was a councillor for 14 years. Every year, we would have our balanced budget. We were required by law to balance our budgets. Often there were opportunities to provide tax exempt status for different community groups. As this was discussed with the community, we would ask if a particular group should be tax exempt. Of course, everybody would say, yes, that it was a good group, that we should give it tax exempt status. The next question would be whether people would then support their taxes being raised a little, because that $30,000 or $10,000 collected in tax from that group would now be exempt, and the money had to come from somewhere. Canadians, British Columbians, constituents, would say that they supported the tax exempt status, but they were already paying enough taxes. If it meant their taxes would go up, then they would not support it.
From that paradigm, this is where we find ourselves now. If we ask Canadians if they support providing a good, clean environment for our children, our grandchildren, etc., then, absolutely, Canadians are willing to pay their fair share of taxes and do what is good for the environment. We all do, but how do we get there? Will putting a price on carbon achieve that?
What is putting a price on carbon? What does that mean? It means increase the price of energy fuel, such as gas to refill our cars, and make it more expensive to the point where a behavioural change is forced. It is also known as social engineering, when we force behavioural change. Changing to what? To a new energy-efficient economy.
The previous government made it a priority to create energy efficiency, and it did a lot in that way. The standards for motor vehicles were greatly improved. As of 2011, all vehicles came under totally new standards. Fridges, stoves, other appliances, and homes were improved. Home improvement grants were provided. The amount of energy that we used as Canadians was greatly reduced because we invested in Canadians to do a better job and use our energy more efficiently. However, a carbon tax would not do that.
A carbon tax will put the price of natural gas to heat our homes way higher, so people will use electricity instead of natural gas. That is a possibility, but it is a different challenge. In British Columbia, we create hydroelectric. Those calling for a transformation to new economies would then oppose hydroelectric. However, we need to create that new electricity in a new economy. We cannot have it both ways. It is ironic that those who say we need to have a new economy also oppose electricity. Hydroelectricity is a blessing to British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and other provinces.
If we put a price on carbon, how high does it have to go to force a change of behaviour? When we ask Canadians how high would they support gasoline prices going, they say prices are high enough now. When we ask them how much they would they pay to heat their home, they say they are high enough now. That is not what the government is supporting. That is not what the NDP is supporting. They want the energy prices to continue to rise until people stop using oil and gas.
The Liberals are using the taxes they collect from Canadians to fund protesters to oppose pipelines to move energy within Canada. They are wordsmithing when they say carbon pricing will improve the environment. It is not true. They say that carbon pricing will help new business. That is not true. It actually makes Canadian business less competitive when it costs more to manufacture in Canada. That is why, unfortunately, we see some of our jobs in Canada move to the United States where there is no carbon pricing.
The Liberals have said that carbon pricing will build a new economy. That takes time. Technological change in Canada and the world is good. Doing things more efficiently is good, but forcing the change through disruptive ways of enforcement and not letting it happen as it should is not. Again, Liberals have misled Canadians.
Carbon pricing being revenue neutral is not true. The government knows very well that it will be making billions of dollars of new taxes on the backs of Canadians.
The , which I had the honour of being, is given talking points, but sadly, the talking points are misleading. The carbon tax is not revenue neutral. The government is charging a tax on a tax, which Canadians have told me is very unfair. They asked me to introduce a bill, which I did, that would give the government an opportunity to truly make the carbon tax revenue neutral. The government voted against that.
What the government says and what it does are very different. There is proverb “A tree is known by its fruit”. We are known by what we do as parliamentarians, not by what we say. We can wordsmith and say things that are misleading, but we will be known for our actions. The previous government made a commitment for efficiency and we achieved that. We made promises and we kept those promises.
As we did in previous Parliaments, we took action on the environment, providing a trajectory of moving forward to a clean environment. We set the targets which the Liberal government adopted as the Paris targets for 2030. We were on target. and when we form government in 2019, we will be back on target, keeping our promises and improving the economy for future generations.
Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to rise in debate today to talk about the carbon tax and its impact on Canadians. Going further, I want to talk about how I am troubled by debate in Canada where it appears that the government, and some commentators, believe it is a truism that only the carbon tax can lead to GHG reductions. In fact, we hear this idea regularly, including from the , who said she is so done with Canadians who do not agree with her on this approach.
There is nothing inherent in a carbon tax that actually lowers greenhouse gas emissions. The hope by many economists and by many people like the members of the government is that it will cause people to make “better choices” with respect to their daily lives.
However, I want to show how backward this approach is and how it reflects the fact that, with the exception of perhaps the , we have a government front bench that is devoid of any serious experience in the private sector economy. The carbon tax is not only unfair to a family struggling with affordability in Ontario and British Columbia, but it is also extremely unfair to fixed-income, single seniors living in Atlantic Canada, where most homes are heated with home heating oil. They are on fixed incomes. They are seeing property taxes and a range of other things going up, and they cannot afford to spend hundreds of dollars more on home heating oil. They cannot afford hundreds of dollars more in higher costs on all the goods and services they purchase. They cannot afford $1.60 gasoline.
What is fundamentally troubling and flawed in the logic on the carbon tax is that so many people working at universities or in the benches of government have virtually zero contact with private sector small and medium-sized businesses in Ontario. They do not realize it is making us uncompetitive. Not only are we going to see job losses; we are also seeing a lack of affordability.
The Ecofiscal Commission suggests that the $50 per tonne price on carbon, which will be fully in place by 2022, will raise $30 billion in tax revenues, basically taking that money out of the economy, out of investment by business, out of households, and away from seniors. These same people are advising the government to go to $200 per tonne before people will make “better choices”, to use the words of our . That would take $100 billion out of our economy, out of the pockets of Canadians, and away from our competitiveness, at a time when the United States is putting more capital and liquidity into its economy by lowering taxes and by making less regulatory intervention in the economy.
As noted economist and public thinker Terence Corcoran said about the carbon tax, “[It is] not a mere a tax grab, it is a multibillion-dollar tax bulldozer rolling through the economy.... ”
Canadians should already be aware that roughly 40¢ to 60¢ of the price at the pump right now is already tax, yet we are still driving, I have noticed, especially in the 416-905 GTA or in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Can someone who lives in Bowmanville, in my riding, who has to commute to his job in Mississauga across the entire GTA to provide for his family, make better choices? There is no transit available. Moms and dads juggle so many things. They have to get back to pick up the kids for soccer. These are the people I represent. They have to work for their families. “Better choices” from the person living in the ivory tower of the 's vantage point shows a radical disconnect.
Also, what if the employer he might work for in Mississauga is an auto parts manufacturer? That auto parts manufacturer in southern Ontario or in Kingston, where my friend is listening from now, competes against suppliers in Michigan, where there is no carbon input price to their competitiveness, where they are lowering taxes. This government has been raising taxes, with payroll taxes and carbon taxes.
Every bank economist has talked about our affordability and our competitiveness with a government that is devoid of a connection with the real world, the real needs of families, the real needs of single seniors. I am going to show why the Liberals' false debate, their creation of the truism that only the carbon tax can help our economy, is a failure of public policy leadership. Instead of standing up and citing her platitudes time and time again, the minister should meet with people in the real economy. I will use an example.
Statistics from the Liberal government for 2016, which was the latest year for which I could get these statistics, say that we have 704 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in our country, 37% of which comes from 596 facilities across the country that are already reporting. Let us compare that.
We have reports for 596 facilities that produce over a third of Canada's total emissions. We could have a targeted regulatory approach to help them step down their emissions without laying people off and without reducing production. We could do that by a targeted sector-by-sector enhanced approach—and I will speak later about how we could do that specifically—or we could do what the Liberal government is doing, which is by regulating the 13,320,610 households in Canada. That is what the Liberals are doing with the carbon tax. That represents 32.8 million people in those households.
A single senior in Kingston is who the government is targeting for its GHG program. Seniors will pay more for home heating, for fuel, for all the goods in their house at a time when property taxes are going up and affordability is going up.
Perhaps when the member was mayor, he lowered property taxes. I do not know, but seniors are not the problem. The government's own documents show us that fewer than 600 facilities account for over a third of the GHG emissions. What is even more striking is that 50% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions come from two sectors: the oil and gas sector and the transportation sector.
I can tell the House right now about a program that is far better than every ridiculous time I hear the minister say the environment and the economy go together. She should understand the economy. She is detached from the real world, calling people who have a different plan for greenhouse gas emissions “climate change deniers”. I have been working on climate change and the environment likely longer than she has, but I have also been in the real economy and I know how we have to tackle these things.
Fifty per cent of our emissions as a country, over 350 megatonnes, are addressed in these two sectors. With the oil and gas sector, we can have two public policy goals to lower emissions. First is capital cost allowance acceleration for any investment that goes to a resource company or a company in the oil sands, one of our largest single contributors to the gross domestic product of Canada. Let us incentivize them to lower their emissions by using the tax system and writing off investments. I said during my leadership run that this approach could actually be extended to water usage too. We could allow any investments they make to depreciate at a faster rate.
Then we could work with those emitters. There are 596 of them. We know where the large emissions are coming from. We could lower their tax rate over a 10-, 15-, 20-year timeline if their emissions are reduced.
In the case of the transportation sector—remember that almost 50% comes from transport and oil and gas—the government has not lobbied for cabotage with our NAFTA modernization. As a result, right now if we make something in Oshawa, Ontario, and ship it to a state in the United States, such as California, because of trucking regulations, that truck has to come back empty. Just think of the wasted efficiency and the wasted GHG emissions. If we are modernizing NAFTA, we should work with President Trump in the U.S. and eliminate this archaic system whereby we have empty transports. In fact, there are hundreds of megatonnes coming from wasted inefficiencies in transport.
David Emerson, a former Liberal cabinet minister, agreed with me at the transportation committee that cabotage would be the single largest move to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as a country. We need cabotage for the transportation sector and a targeted, tailor-made approach using our tax system for the oil and gas and resource sector.
This is about using our tax system as a carrot to incentivize better choices, in the words of the , as opposed to a stick punishing the single seniors, punishing the families, and punishing the small businesses trying to compete. It is about time we had fresh thinking from the government.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
I thank the hon. member for for bringing forward his motion. I welcome this opportunity to speak to an issue that is a key part of our government's plan to make Canada a leader in the clean growth economy.
Listening to the Conservatives talk about pricing carbon reminds me of those old Maytag commercials where some poor Maytag repairman would be sitting, looking bored, and waiting for the phone to ring. He was lonely; nobody was calling him. The world was marching on without him, and he could not seem to figure out what to do.
The world is moving on, and it is time for the Conservatives to catch up, take their heads out of the sand, and recognize that acting as they did for 10 years under the previous government is simply not good enough. It is time to realize that, one, scare tactics are wrong; two, climate change is real; three, the science is settled; and, four, around the globe countries are taking important steps to address it.
An appeal to fear is a fallacy that underpins the entire motion before us today. In fact, the Conservatives find themselves on an increasingly shrinking island of denial. While they spend their days yelling “The sky is falling” over carbon pricing, the world is moving decisively and optimistically toward action. Indeed, in 2017, there were 42 countries and 25 subnational jurisdictions pricing carbon. In fact, the number of carbon pricing initiatives implemented or scheduled has almost doubled over just the past five years.
Among those pricing or planning on pricing carbon are the European Union, China, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Colombia, and California. Of course Canada's four largest provinces, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, representing more than 80% of our country's population, have all adopted carbon pricing.
I mentioned that China is one of the countries pricing carbon. It has already tested a cap and trade system in nine of its provinces, seven since 2014 and two more added in the past two years. The plan will soon go national there, effectively doubling the world's priced carbon. When that happens, fully one-quarter of the world's carbon pollution will be priced at one level or another, one quarter.
Why is that? The leaders of those jurisdictions care about jobs. They read the debates on both sides. They know how devastating business as usual would be. They are taking market-based approaches to effect meaningful change. Governments around the world understand something that the Conservative do not seem to grasp: basic economics.
Let me explain for the benefit of my friends in Her Majesty's loyal opposition. In economics, the law of supply and demand dictates the relationship between supply, price, and demand. To encourage a certain type of activity, a financial incentive could be provided for doing so. To discourage a certain type of activity, such as polluting, a financial disincentive could be created. It is really not that hard.
That is how free markets work. It is good public policy and it takes economics into account. By sending clear market signals, the genius of the private sector is unleashed to find creative and innovative ways to meet market needs for things like home heating and groceries at the lowest price, while at the same time pricing pollution. Unless we price pollution, the laws of demand cannot be unleashed to reduce it.
That is exactly what our government is doing with carbon pricing. We are harnessing the power of market forces to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. This will spur innovation and improve our competitiveness. It encourages companies to look for better ways of doing things, including using different sources of energy, using less energy overall, or converting the pollution into useful or sequestered forms.
Using less energy overall is critical. According to the International Energy Agency, we could get halfway to our Paris commitment just by using energy more efficiently. That is why, together with most provinces and territories, as well as indigenous groups, we adopted the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, which includes carbon pricing.
Those in the private sector understand the benefits of pricing carbon. In fact, they have been asking governments to put a price on carbon for years because they want certainty about the ground rules. They want to know what will be expected of them. They want a level playing field during the transition to a low-carbon economy.
We also know that carbon pricing is the best, most efficient way of achieving the desired public policy objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving our planet. That is why companies themselves are adopting carbon pricing. In fact, as of November 2017, 1,389 companies had disclosed that they were planning to implement internal carbon pricing to the Climate Disclosure Project. This 1,389 is up from just 150 four years ago. Therefore, the Conservatives had better add multinational corporations to the list of folks who just will not get behind their politics of fear.
Quite simply, global momentum for carbon pricing is building in national governments, states and provinces, and the private sector, and Canada will move with them. We are also seeing it in international organizations, such as the United Nations. The UN Global Compact calls on companies to set internal pricing, a minimum of $100 per metric tonne over time, and invites companies to become carbon-pricing champions by aligning with the business leadership criteria on carbon pricing. That criteria is designed to “inspire companies to reach the next level of climate performance and to advocate for a price on carbon as a necessary and effective measure to tackle the climate change challenge.” Under this initiative, companies set an internal carbon price, advocate for responsible policy, and report on their progress.
There is yet another group calling for carbon pricing, the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, which has joined with the World Bank to bring together leaders from across government, the private sector, and civil society to share experiences working with carbon pricing and to expand the evidence base.
We can see that the opposition finds itself increasingly out of step, increasingly out of touch, and increasingly alone. The fact is that when Canadians give climate change serious thought, it is obvious to them that pricing carbon has to be part of the solution. That consensus has been in place for quite a while. Our government is part of that consensus. We know that pricing carbon sends the right signals to the markets. Companies respond by becoming more innovative and energy efficient, and by doing both, they become more competitive.
It was the French novelist Victor Hugo who wrote, “You can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time has come.” The time for carbon pricing has come. It is time for the Conservatives to help Canadians join the international effort to fight climate change.
Her Majesty’s loyal opposition undoubtedly has constructive suggestions. I wait for those members to pull their heads out of the sand and share them with us. On this point I will say that carbon pricing is only one part of the solution. The government has to take a varied approach and come at this problem from different angles.
We are not proposing that the entire reduction in CO2 emissions will come from a carbon price and the market effect of that price. We are proposing things like a greening government solution and efforts to reduce methane gas emissions from the oil sands. We are working with the provinces to improve infrastructure that will drive the green economy. We are investing in innovation across the country in different superclusters and whatnot to ensure that there is an opportunity for Canadian companies to generate the technology, the patents, and the know-how to engage in the clean climate future.
It is not merely about defending the status quo. It is about moving forward and being part of a global solution to tackle a global problem. Canada has the intelligence, the ability, and the infrastructure. There are smart, young, driven people who want to be part of positive change and part of the solution.
I appreciate members opposite, in previous remarks, who said that we cannot move without the United States. In fact, the United States is moving. The 1,389 companies I mentioned include American companies, and Americans are taking steps to reduce their overall carbon demand, with companies such as Tesla, SolarCity, and others making their patents freely available to the world so that the world can reduce its carbon footprint.
This does not happen alone, and the Government of Canada is not suggesting that it does. We are suggesting that if we are going to make change, we should do it right. We should do it in a way that includes market forces. We should not just leave it to the 50% of top emitters, as the previous member mentioned, but include all Canadians by adopting a price on carbon.
Mr. Speaker, when it comes to Canada's economy and the environment, our government has been clear. We believe that the two go hand in hand. Canadians understand that pollution is not free, and they understand, as we do, that the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to put a price on carbon pollution. That is why we introduced the greenhouse gas pollution pricing act, part of the budget implementation act, otherwise known as Bill , currently before the House.
By giving businesses and households an incentive to innovate more and pollute less, we are fulfilling our commitment to invest in growth while respecting and helping to protect our shared environment. This approach, investing in growth that strengthens and grows the middle class and helps people who are working hard to join it, is already paying off.
Let me take a moment to list the economic achievements we have reached in just two years in government. Since this government was elected, more than 600,000 new jobs have been created, most of them full time. Canada's unemployment rate is at the lowest level we have seen in more than 40 years. Since 2016, Canada has led the G7 in economic growth. The federal debt-to-GDP ratio, which is our debt relative to our economy, is not only on a downward track but is nearly at its lowest level in 40 years.
We know that investing in our communities and in our people is the best way to grow a modern economy. We have also taken steps to ensure a good business climate so that our businesses can succeed, grow, and hire. Canada is the best place in the world to invest and to do business, and we want to make sure that it stays as such.
This past week, A.T. Kearney came out with its best places to invest, or foreign direct investment index, as we economists like to call it. Canada ranked number two in the world and has moved up three places, just slightly behind the United States of America. This is important to note, because this report, which was put out by a non-partisan institute, incorporated the fact that 85% of the population of Canada is covered by a carbon-pricing mechanism.
We know that low and competitive tax rates allow Canada's entrepreneurs to invest in their businesses and create even more good, well-paying middle-class jobs. That is why we cut the small business tax rate to 10% this past January. It will fall even further next January to 9%. By this time next year, the combined federal, provincial, territorial average income tax rate for small business will be 12.2%, the lowest in the G7 and the third lowest among members of the OECD. This means that enterprises in my riding will see up to $7,500 in lower federal corporate income tax per year. This will help Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators do what they do best, which is create jobs. I note that 600,000 of them have been created over the last two and a half years. That is good news for Canadian businesses and great news for the hard-working people in my riding of Vaughan--Woodbridge and across this country.
There is more work to be done. That is why in budget 2018, we proposed the Canada workers benefit, a strengthened version of the working income tax benefit, something I long advocated for before I became a candidate for the Liberal Party and a member of Parliament in this government.
The new CWB will allow low-income workers to take home more money while they work. It is important to note that it will also encourage more folks to enter the labour force. To someone nearing retirement or who is retired and wants to go back to work and make some extra money, this will be a top-up. To students going to university who want to make some extra money on the side to help pay for their studies, this will be a little bit of a top-up. That is so important in the face of the demographic challenges Canada and many of the western countries are facing these days. For example, low-income workers earning $15,000 could receive up to $500 more from the CWB in 2019 than they would have received this year under the current system.
With automatic enrolment, literally hundreds of thousands of individuals across Canada, low-income, hard-working Canadians, will receive the benefit. It is estimated that 70,000 more Canadians will be lifted out of poverty by 2020.
Since 2016, the government has also been providing additional support to Canadian families through the Canada child benefit. Compared to the old system of child benefits which sent cheques to millionaires, the CCB gives low- and middle-income parents more money each month, tax-free, to help with the high costs of raising kids. I know this for a fact. I have two very precocious young daughters, who are the loves of my life, but it takes a few bucks to put them into some of their activities.
The CCB is simpler, more generous, and better targeted to give more help to people who need it most. Since its introduction in 2016, the CCB has lifted literally hundreds of thousands of kids out of poverty. That is something we need to applaud. It is a proud achievement of our government. In my riding, $59 million of Canada child benefit was distributed to residents. This helped out literally 15,000 or 16,000 young children. I know that every single one of those residents is grateful for this program and for the opportunity to receive something that helps them so much at home.
These investments and others our government is making in infrastructure, science, innovation, and skills and training, are all designed to achieve one goal: to ensure the benefits of a growing economy are felt by more and more people with good well-paying middle-class jobs, and people working very hard to join the “classe moyenne”.
We want Canadians to feel confident about the future, and be better prepared for what lies ahead. Part of achieving this entails making investments, and taking action to protect Canada's air, water, and natural areas for our children and grandchildren, while creating a world-leading clean economy. That is not just aspirational; it is happening today. There are literally hundreds of companies all over the world that are utilizing and testing technology for producing a cleaner environment.
Yesterday at the finance committee, I referenced how companies in Germany, for example, Daimler, are already turning trucks away from diesel and putting electric vehicles on the road. That is something that is very important. We must grasp these opportunities. That is why our government has put a focus on innovation, and research and development, so that the “supergrappes”, as they are called in French, the five clusters that we have identified, can ensure that Canadian companies are able to utilize or incentivize to create those world-leading technologies right here in Canada. That is something we need to do, and we are doing it.
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time. Unlike the party opposite, which in 10 years did not do anything, we have known from the beginning that inaction is not an option. That is why our government has worked for over two years to implement smart, practical measures to reduce emissions and protect the environment, while taking important steps to support literally tens of thousands of middle-class Canadians, 108,000 of whom live in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, grow the economy and create good jobs.
Canadians know that addressing climate change and protecting the environment are important parts of ensuring a more prosperous and competitive economy for Canadians. This is exactly what the plan of “notre gouvernement” is delivering. We will put a price on what we do not want, pollution, in order to support things we need, including emissions reductions, clean innovations, and clean jobs, which are good middle-class jobs, for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Through investments in greener infrastructure, cleaner transportation, energy efficiency, and emerging technologies, we will continue to help make our communities stronger, healthier, and more resilient. We believe this is the best way to support strong economic growth and secure a clean environment today and for many generations to come. That is what Canadians sent us here to do, and we are proud to do it.
We are doing the work that we spoke about during the election campaign. To use a hockey analogy, we are not ragging the puck; we are going to where the puck is, and we are going to make sure we score for Canadians. Whether it is through clean technologies producing those great jobs or leading innovations that will be adopted throughout the world, we will make sure our exporters and businesses stay competitive throughout this whole process. Frankly, 600,000 new jobs over the last two and a half years is not too bad at all.
Let me repeat that a clean environment and a strong economy go firmly hand in hand. We can have it no other way. This benefits all Canadians aujourd'hui, demain, and for all future generations.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
It has been suggested that an effective response to climate change needs to be scientifically sound, environmentally sustainable, financially realistic, as well as global, comprehensive, and holistic. That may be a little optimistic in that we would not get all of the components in a planned approach in response to climate change, but I would suggest that the Liberals are failing on probably each and every one of these measures as they approach their climate change plan. They are really failing to meet most of these criteria.
As people in the House are aware, the government has introduced Bill , which includes the greenhouse gas pollution pricing act, and talks about it being designed to impact behavioural change. My remarks are going to focus not only on how the specific issues I mentioned earlier would be ineffective but also how many people with the least options are going to be unduly penalized.
First, all Canadians should be very concerned and offended by the lack of transparency on this particular initiative. The Conservative shadow minister for finance has regularly pointed out the carbon tax cover-up. The finance department knows the numbers. The finance department has calculated the numbers in terms of the cost for individuals and families. When it was asked for that information, the government released it, but blacked out all of the information. It really is quite offensive that a government would impose a tax on Canadians and not be transparent about what that tax will actually cost.
I harken back to the election commitments the Liberals made, saying they would be a transparent government by default. On this and many other issues, whether it be the deficit or democratic reform, they are absolutely failing to live up to the commitments they made to Canadians in 2015. I suggest that for any credibility, they should be releasing those numbers and not waiting until months down the road, after they have imposed the tax. This, quite frankly, is wrong.
At the start of my speech, I talked about something that was scientifically sound. What have the Liberals done? They have set a pricing level that would start at $30 and move its way up to $50. The minimum calculation that any scientist makes in terms of being effective is $100, and I have seen some that go as high as $300, as what needs to be the price on carbon to create the behavioural changes the Liberals want to create. They are creating a cost for consumers, but it is not going to have the impact this tax needs to have.
It is important to note that it is being done in isolation from our continental partners. If we recall, China, India, and the U.S. are the major emitters and Canada is less than 2%. We need to be global in our approach. That is in the definition, “global approach”. Here we are, going down a path in which, quite frankly, the Liberals are pricing in a way that would hurt Canadians and not create the desired effect, and they are essentially doing it in isolation from the global major emitters.
The government and the love to talk about British Columbia, so I will as well. That is the province I am from. They hold it up as a really great model. They have consistently said that. It was introduced in 2008 as a revenue neutral carbon tax, but let me explain what has been happening over the years. In actual fact, I was not upset or concerned when the British Columbia government introduced this revenue neutral carbon tax. It explained it appropriately. I was fortunate that it was not going to create a huge affordability issue for me and my family. The B.C. government was trying its best to offset impacts on those who could not afford it.
The Liberals hold it up as great example because, they say, it brought emissions down. Well, emissions went down across the world in 2008. They went down because we had a global recession. The analysis was that the carbon tax brought emissions down and then the economy recovered, absolutely. If we take a baseline from before, when the economy was ticking along quite nicely in 2007 and 2008, and then we had a global recession, we would have a significant drop in emissions. Ultimately Canada had a good recovery.
The Liberals also like to say that emissions dropped and the GDP did well. They love to compare it to Ontario, but Ontario was suffering the highest electricity prices and manufacturing was fleeing. They never actually compare it to provinces that had a similar type of economy, such as Saskatchewan and Alberta, and if we look at the economic growth in those two provinces, it was significantly more than British Columbia's economic growth. We cannot take gross measures and hope to be precise in what the impact of the actual carbon tax was, because there were so many things that were happening throughout that time period.
What was a revenue-neutral carbon tax started to drift. There was a solid commitment to the citizens of British Columbia that every penny the government took in carbon taxes would be returned to them. What happened in 2013-14 was that the Auditor General started to review and saw that what was initially revenue neutral was turning into other things. The B.C. government started to include many things that really were inappropriately included to suggest it was revenue neutral, but in actual fact it was drifting quite significantly from revenue neutrality.
I have to talk about the NDP in British Columbia, because it campaigned on “axe the tax”. It said it would axe the tax, that it would be gone. The NDP finally became government in 2017, and the first thing it did was to take away the revenue neutrality from the carbon tax. It actually legislated away revenue neutrality and then increased the tax. What was a well-designed, reasonable approach quickly became a cash grab under the control of the NDP government. It was general revenue for the government to use for whatever it wanted.
As a result, members will forgive me for being a little cynical about anyone who lauds the British Columbia tax as a great revenue-neutral model. I know the same thing could happen across the country in all the other provinces as they implement this imposed federal tax. It demonstrates how a commitment to revenue neutrality can quickly be reneged on, and there is nothing that will stop the federal government from doing the same thing.
The north is going to be the area most impacted by these changes. It has very limited density. In many cases, people rely on diesel fuel, and the north has extra costs associated with its mining. It is going to be significantly impacted.
The northern premiers signed on in good faith, with the understanding that the government would look at their particular and unique circumstances. What has happened? What does the bill the government has introduced do for the north? It has done nothing. The Liberals looked at a baseline for mining emissions and actually based it on a southern model, so what is going to happen is that mines in the north will be more significantly impacted than any others.
What we see here is that the government has introduced a measure that is going to be ineffective in meeting its goal. It has provided no accommodation for people who live in the north and in rural communities. It is really important that the Liberal government gets into its own areas of jurisdiction. It has policy levers it can use to meet reduction targets and meet its Paris targets. However, quite simply, what the government is doing is going to be a failure on way too many measures.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on this opposition day to speak to a motion that makes a lot of sense.
The Liberals have lost control of the public debt, taxes, and now greenhouse gas emissions. What is their solution? A tax. This time, it is being called the carbon tax. It is a tax nonetheless, because a tax is a tax is a tax. This particular tax is costly and ineffective, as I will be demonstrating over the next few minutes. It will be very easy. This will be a snap for me.
As my colleague from British Columbia just said, that province's carbon tax is not working. Greenhouse gas emissions keep going up, and the whole business ended up being a cash grab against taxpayers.
This time, however, the Liberals found a way to exploit Canadians' desire to effectively combat climate change. When we ask the Liberals how much their tax will cost Canadian taxpayers, they respond that they do not know. When we ask them by how much their tax will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Liberals have nothing to say. No answer. We do not know how much the tax will cost, nor do we know how much greenhouse gases would be reduced. The Liberals are asking us for a blank check. This government has lost control.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the next two deficits would exceed estimates by $4 billion.
In the latest report entitled “Economic and Fiscal Outlook”, Jean-Denis Fréchette's team estimated that Ottawa would post a $22.1-billion deficit at the end of the current fiscal year, which is $4 billion more than what the government projected in its budget in February.
This is recent. We are talking about April 2018. Two months after revising their budget to reflect a $22.1-billion deficit, they have already gone over. The Liberals have overspent on their overspending, and they are in over their heads. This is quite surprising, considering that the Prime Minister said that this government would run “modest deficits”.
We now see that government spending is out of control. It might not be so bad if people could say that the government is going into debt but they are paying less in taxes, but I am sorry to say this afternoon that over 80% of middle-class families are paying more taxes. The Fraser Institute is an independent and non-partisan organization that studies public policies. It has said that, on average, middle-class families will have to pay $840 more in taxes. That article was published some time ago in September 2017. Unfortunately, families have to pay even more taxes, and it is only getting worse. Canada's debt is growing and people have to pay more taxes.
Another point that I would like to make is that Canada is failing to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets. This government is really having a hard time governing. It is raising taxes, causing the deficit to skyrocket, and losing control of greenhouse gas emissions.
This same government just asked us for carte blanche today to impose even more taxes on taxpayers, without any idea of what the outcome will be. The fact that climate change exists is reason enough for the Liberals to tax Canadians without really knowing what the impact of that tax will be.
It will have an impact. The Parliamentary Budget Officer published a new report showing that the carbon tax will reduce our GDP by $10 billion by 2022, possibly even $35 billion a year by some estimates. Who will pay for that? It is workers, families, and parents who drive their children to activities. Summer is coming, a time when, after work, people go home and have a quick supper and then drive their children to their activities, often soccer. They try to do that before it gets dark. The price of gas will continue to rise even though it is already heavily taxed.
We are already paying a significant tax on carbon, and now we will be paying even more, without knowing how this tax will affect the environment. However, we know that it will have an effect on the economy.
Yesterday, I was at a committee meeting where we were discussing how to help young Canadians, particularly indigenous youth, integrate into the job market. The committee heard from a representative from an organization representing agencies that help indigenous youth train for careers. We need welders, mechanics, and plumbers. These youth must leave the reserve and sometimes travel long distances to get to a training centre, and they pay a lot for gas. This indigenous representative said that this was another barrier preventing young Canadians from accessing the job market.
We would like to be able to say that things are going well with this government, but the truth is that things are not great. Debt is going up, along with taxes and greenhouse gas emissions. It is an interesting contrast, because we have an alternative to offer to those people who are tuning in, and we have been through it before. Sometimes, the solution is to look back. In a news release in February 2007, a certain organization welcomed an announcement made one morning in Sherbrooke by prime minister Stephen Harper and premier Jean Charest that the Quebec government would be getting $350 million from the federal government for its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That same organization was delighted that this $1.5-billion program applied to all the provinces. I was lucky enough to be part of that government, and the organization that was praising Stephen Harper's Conservative government was Greenpeace.
There are then two approaches. First, there is the approach of a government that cut taxes. Members will recall the GST being lowered from 7% to 5% and the general tax cuts for all Canadians. Such a thing had not been seen in decades, despite the economic crisis. When we handed the car keys to the government across the aisle, Canada had a balanced budget. We had also reduced Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 2.2%, increased our gross domestic product, grown the economy by more than 15%, and, of course, created hundreds of thousands of jobs, on the heels of a recession, no less.
Second, there is the approach of a government that says it is going to make us pay for a new tax, the carbon tax, and that we will have to pay more taxes and get deeper into debt. Of course, it cannot offer us any guaranteed results, because the commissioner of the environment, Julie Gelfand, says that if nothing is done about greenhouse gas emissions, the federal government will not meet the targets set by the previous Conservative government. Not only do the Liberals boast about being environmentalists, but they are copying our targets and cannot even meet them.
I see that my time is almost up, but that was the gist of my presentation. The saddest thing is that we are in a time of obfuscation and secrecy. The numbers are being kept from us. What impact will the carbon tax have on reducing greenhouse gas emissions? No answer. What impact will it have on Canadian families? We know from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that it will cost at least $10 billion.
In closing, I would like to quote a Quebec business reporter who commented on the carbon tax saying that the government is abusing Canadians' generosity: “If you still have not realized that the government is quietly shoving a hidden tax down our throats, then I cannot help you.” He then added, “The average taxpayer is overtaxed and concerned about the environment.” Contrary to what the government across the way would have us believe, all Canadians, regardless of their political stripe, want Canada to be a leader, but they also expect the country to balance the needs of the economy and of the environment. Finally, the quote ends with, “If we stopped taking taxpayers for fools, they would be more motivated to do their share.”
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to once again reaffirm our commitment to tackling climate change. I will be splitting my time with the member for .
Canadians understand climate change is real, and they know governments at home and around the world must urgently address this challenge. It is the right thing to do for our children and grandchildren.
As we speak here today, Canadians and people around the world are being impacted by climate change, from severe storms and droughts, to sea level rise, to devastating floods. Sadly, as climate change accelerates, these impacts will not only worsen, they will bring crushing costs.
From 1983 to 2004, insurance claims in Canada from severe weather events were almost $400 million a year. In the past decade, that amount tripled to $1.2 billion a year. By 2020, climate change is expected to cost Canada's economy $5 billion a year, and as much as $43 billion a year by 2050.
If we do not act now, we will pass these growing costs on to future generations. That is exactly what the previous government did. By setting emissions targets without having a concrete plan to meet them, it jeopardized both the environment and the economy. We must not make the same mistake.
By making smart, sensible, and practical changes, we will avert the dangers of climate change and grasp the enormous economic opportunities of taking action, opportunities worth trillions of dollars around the world and good jobs at home.
Unlike the opposition party that voted to support the Paris agreement, but again and again refuse to tell Canadians what its climate plan is, we have a practical, cost-effective plan that will reduce emissions, create good-paying, middle-class jobs, and spur our clean growth economy.
A major component of our made-in-Canada climate plan is reducing costs for homes and businesses through energy efficiency. Reducing energy and saving Canadians money is a win-win for our environment and our economy. We know that families that invest in energy efficiency can cut their home heating bills in half, and we know that energy efficient homes and buildings have higher resale values.
Of course, these changes need not be overly complicated. Small investments can yield huge results. For instance, by using a programmable thermostat, people can save up to $150 a year. By putting energy-efficient light bulbs in the five light fixtures they use most frequently, people can save more than $65 a year.
One company in Alberta, Landmark Homes, makes net zero homes through better insulation, heating, and lighting, and many produce more energy than they consume. Today, we see homes like this being built across the country. In Edmonton, where Landmark Homes is based, the city has the highest number of net zero homes in the country.
Now, for provinces that have signed onto our climate plan, we are making it easier for people to reduce their energy use and save money through our low-carbon economy leadership fund. A few weeks ago I announced our government was investing $100 million to help the people of Ontario make energy efficient retrofits to their businesses and homes, including apartments, townhouses, and low-income housing.
By teaming up with the provincial government, the GreenOn rebates will help property owners make energy efficient changes like installing better insulation, high-efficiency ventilation systems, and other devices to save energy and reduce costs. We are launching programs like this across the country.
Last year, through the green municipal fund, we also invested $72 million to support energy efficiency projects in 48 communities.
The municipality of Saint-Ubalde, in Quebec, received some of that funding to install a district heating system for several buildings. The project, which creates energy by transforming residual forest biomass, will help the municipality cut its emissions by 218 tonnes and reduce long-term heating costs by 40% in the buildings using that system.
Investing in energy efficiency also creates good-paying middle-class jobs: jobs in construction, services, research, and manufacturing. That is why we are investing $21.9 billion in green infrastructure to build energy-efficient homes and offices, helping families save money on their energy bills and creating new jobs for Canadians.
In fact, over 100,000 Canadians were employed in energy efficiency jobs in 2013. A report just last year found that shifting to net zero emissions buildings could create just short of two million jobs over 33 years through construction from retrofitting and building new, green buildings.
We know that every dollar spent on energy efficiency programs generates between $4 and $8 of GDP. In other words, this is about reducing energy and saving money. It is equally about creating good jobs for Canadians across the country.
The opposition party wants Canadians to think that tackling climate change is a cost, but by failing to take action we see huge economic costs, and Canadians miss out on good jobs and major economic opportunities.
According to the World Bank, the Paris Agreement will help open up nearly $23 trillion in new opportunities for climate-smart investments in emerging markets around the world between now and 2030. Combined, this will spark incredible job creation, and that is why Canada is leading to take advantage of the opportunities.
We are investing $20.1 billion to support urban public transit to help reduce commute times in our cities, increase the use of clean transportation, and allow people to spend more time with their families and less time in traffic.
With a $2.2-billion investment, we are fostering clean tech research and development, production, and export. We are accelerating the growth of this industry to capture an increasing share of the global market.
Last year, I was in China on a trade mission and saw the rapid shift toward clean energy that country is making. As the world's largest producer of wind and solar electricity, China is expected to increase its power storage capacity tenfold by 2020. China now has the largest number of electric vehicles on the road, overtaking, for the first time, the number of electric vehicles in the United States.
While visiting the country, I met with representatives from Ballard Power Systems, a Canadian company from Burnaby, B.C. that makes fuel cells used in zero-emission vehicles. There, in Shanghai, I saw electric city buses using Ballard's technology. Ballard is commercializing and exporting clean energy solutions that are in demand in China and around the globe, and this is just one example of a Canadian company that is innovating, creating jobs, and selling its clean technologies.
To spur the kind of innovation and job creation I described, we also need to put a price on carbon pollution. Canadians know that polluting is not free. It has real costs. In fact, it is essentially a tax that we are passing on to the next generations.
Our climate plan includes a price on pollution, because it works. It is one of the lowest-cost tools to fight climate change and drive clean innovation. Just last week, we published a study that found that, by 2022, a nationwide price on carbon pollution that meets the federal standard would eliminate the emissions equivalent of taking between 23 million and 26 million cars off the road for a year, or closing 20 coal-fired plants. Already, over 80% of Canadians live in a province that has a price on carbon pollution: Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. Last year, these provinces led the country in economic growth.
The time for politics is over. Taking action on climate change should not be a partisan issue, but, sadly, that is what the Conservatives are making it. Through our made-in-Canada climate plan, we are pricing carbon pollution, phasing out coal-fired electricity, and investing in public transit, green infrastructure, and clean technologies. In doing so, we are sending a strong signal to investors and to the world. Canada will create good-paying middle-class jobs, drive clean innovation, and be a leader in the clean growth century. That is what Canadians expect us to do, and that is what we are doing.
Our government will continue acting in the interest of our environment and our economy, because we owe it to our kids and our grandkids.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for for his motion. Unfortunately, this motion is another example of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
After years of denying climate change, after years of being singled out for fossil fuel awards at international climate meetings, after years of feet-dragging, one would hope that perhaps, just perhaps, a light would shine through to inform motions like this.
Sadly, that appears not to be the case. Rather than embrace, as so much of the world has done, that climate change is real and that action is needed, this motion reflects the same old tune, the tune of denial, division, and opposing any action that would treat climate change as the challenge it is.
Actually, it is not so much about singing the same old tune as it is about whistling past the same old graveyard. It reflects the perspective that if we just whistle loudly enough and close our eyes tightly enough, climate change will simply go away and the world will revert back to the way things used to be before climate change became a scientifically established fact, before the world came together in Paris, and before the impacts of climate change became obvious to anyone with the wit and the will to see them.
That is what this motion represents, a long-past nostalgic time when sea levels were not rising, when more extreme weather was not happening, when greenhouse gas emissions were not a concern. It is a lovely place, but it is not planet Earth.
In reality, climate change is having profound effects on our world, and countries are alive to both the challenges and the opportunities it presents. This is perhaps where the motion most misses the point, in realizing that we are now in the clean growth century and that those nations that provide the innovation, ideas, and ingenuity to address climate change will be the ones that prosper.
The transition to clean energy is a perfect case in point. As the world embraces renewable energy and cleaner ways to extract traditional energy, Canada is ideally positioned to provide those answers.
Our clean technology sector ranks fourth in the world, and first in the G20. That is according to the 2017 Cleantech Innovation Index. Canada has now leapfrogged ahead of the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom. That is a jump from seventh in 2014. Canada also ranks third in the general drivers index, a set of indicators related to starting a business, clean tech or otherwise.
My friend will also be proud that the authors of the 2017 Cleantech Innovation Index praise Canada for its “leadership in national regulatory quality and government effectiveness, signaling the ability of [its government] to formulate and implement policies that promote the development of the private sector.”
That is what happens when a government makes generational investments in clean technology and clean infrastructure. It is what happens when a government takes climate change seriously by signing the Paris accord; accelerating the phase-out of coal; creating a low-carbon fuel standard; regulating methane emissions; making unprecedented investments in foundational science; developing, together with our provincial and territorial colleagues, a national plan for combatting climate change; and, yes, putting a price on carbon, as 42 countries and 25 subnational jurisdictions have also done.
As is clear from this motion, the hon. member does not want Canada to be part of this global shift. He does not want to tax carbon, presumably because he does not believe that carbon is contributing to climate change. This is simply a false premise on which to build an argument.
If we want to combat climate change, we need to reduce the amount of carbon and other polluting gases we are putting into the atmosphere, and the best way to do that is to make it more costly to pollute. That is what economists tell us. That is what corporations tell us. That is what indigenous groups tell us.
Making Canada a leader in clean tech and clean energy is what Canadians tell us they expect of their leaders and their county. That is the message that came through loud and clear in Generation Energy, the largest national conversation about energy in our country's history.
We invited Canadians to imagine their energy future. How do they expect the world to look when their kids and grandkids are grown? What should we be doing now to get there? Canadians responded in an unprecedented way, with numbers that are eye-opening. There were more than 380,000 participants, with 31,000 hits on social media, 63 engagement sessions in every part of the country, and more 650 people at the two-day Generation Energy Forum in Winnipeg last fall.
What emerged from Generation Energy was a remarkable, inspiring vision of how Canadians see their energy future. They told us that they want a thriving zero-carbon economy. They want us to be a leader in clean technology. They want an energy system that provides equal opportunities to Canadians without harming the environment. They want indigenous peoples to be part of the decision-making and to benefit from those opportunities.
Canadians are looking for smart cities with integrated energy systems, increased energy efficiency, and low-carbon transportation. They want rural and remote communities to have better options than diesel for generating electricity and heating their homes.
To keep the momentum, the has created a 14-member Generation Energy Council to provide recommendations on how best to move forward. That council is due to report this summer and will help define Canada's energy future, both here at home and through our international engagements, including at the G7, the G20, and the Clean Energy Ministerial.
This is the forward-looking clean energy future that Canadians seek, and they know that if we are serious about getting there, we need to begin today. Pricing carbon is an important part of that by sending the right signals, encouraging clean energy, discouraging pollution, spurring innovation, and creating new jobs.
The motion before us goes in the opposite direction. It looks to the past, not the future—to things as they were, not things as they are. It appeals to Canadians' worst fears, not their best hope. That is not the way forward for Canada. It is not the way to create the future. It is not the path our government will take.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and join the debate today. I will be sharing my time with the excellent member of Parliament for Red Deer—Lacombe. I look forward to his speech greatly.
I am from British Columbia, where we have had Canada's first true carbon tax in use for a decade. At the time, the B.C. carbon tax was proposed to be revenue neutral. Taxes raised from the carbon tax would be used to lower other taxes, such as B.C.'s personal, small business, and corporate tax rates. Indeed, for much of the last decade, B.C. has, as a result, had some of the lowest personal income tax rates in most income brackets in Canada. However, that was then and this is now, because now there is a B.C. NDP government, and it has changed the rules, so to speak, so that the revenue-neutral carbon tax has instead become an NDP tax grab.
More importantly, we are now seeing the obvious. Let me quote a headline from The Vancouver Sun from earlier this year: “Latest figures show B.C.'s carbon emissions continue to increase”. The article goes on to point out that the latest data shows B.C.'s carbon emissions at 63.3 million tonnes of carbon equivalent, an increase of 1.6% over the previous year. To be clear, that is an increase, not a decrease.
That is not the only place where the carbon tax is not working. Right next door is Washington State. As we all know, the United States had no national carbon tax. In 2016, Washington State looked at a carbon tax, but it was voted down.
What happens when one of your largest trading partners, who is also one of your biggest competitors, or where most of your biggest competitors are located, does not have a carbon tax? Let us look at the example of the British Columbia cement industry as an example. In 2008, at the time the B.C. carbon tax was introduced, basically 100% of all cement used in British Columbia was manufactured in British Columbia, and why not? Concrete is not exactly a lightweight, inexpensive product to import and then transport from other jurisdictions.
. What happened when B.C.-produced concrete started to become subject to a carbon tax in 2008? That is a great question. It became more expensive. By 2014, B.C.-produced concrete only accounted for roughly 65% of all concrete used in B.C., because cheaper concrete was being imported from jurisdictions with no carbon tax. That is a 35% loss of market share within its own market.
As result, the B.C. government is now providing financial subsidies to the B.C. concrete industry. They actually have a term for this now, and it is called “carbon leakage”.
Here is how “carbon leakage" is defined in the B.C. NDP's 2018 budget document: “Industries that compete with industry in countries that may have low or no carbon price: If Industry loses market share to more polluting competitors, known as carbon leakage, it affects our economy and does not reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.”
This is a flat out admission that a carbon tax is not all that it is made out to be, because it creates carbon leakage. I say that carbon leakage is found in this budget document, because subsidies and exemptions cost everyday taxpayers money. For the average hard-working Canadian family, there is no carbon tax exemption or relief for them. Costs for everyday items will skyrocket, taxes will rise, and life will simply become unaffordable for everyday Canadians. Instead, when the is confronted with the fact that carbon taxes have helped to create some of the highest gasoline and diesel prices in North America, he said that this is “exactly what we want.”
Is it really? I can tell my colleagues that is not what my constituents are saying back in Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola when they fuel up at local gas stations. In fact, they are saying quite the opposite.
I have places in my riding that are not accessible by public transport. Even private transport providers like Greyhound are abandoning some rural communities. Many of these same communities do not have access to renewable energy or even cleaner-burning non-renewables like liquefied natural gas. These people get hit the hardest by a carbon tax.
One gentleman actually showed me his natural gas bill from last month. If my colleagues can believe it, with the latest carbon tax increase, he actually paid more in carbon taxes than he did for the natural gas he used last month.
Let us think about that, paying more in a tax on a commodity than what the commodity actually costs. The current has said that is exactly what he wants.
What is more insulting is that the Liberal government has an who likes to say “pollution isn't free”. On this side of the House, we say, “Ok, tell us what it will cost Canadians.” The transparent Liberal government refuses to say. The information is redacted. It is being hidden from Canadians who deserve to know.
Basically the Liberal government demands that they pay this Liberal carbon tax but refuses to tell them how much they will have to pay. I am hopeful that the Office of the Information Commissioner, which has now launched an investigation to determine why the data about financial costs of a carbon tax per household is not being released to Canadians, will find out the reason why.
Last week, I asked my constituents why they thought the Liberal government was refusing to release this carbon tax information. The reason they shared with me does not inspire confidence in the Liberal government.
We have a carbon tax that after 10 years in B.C. has still failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have a carbon tax that has helped create the most expensive gasoline prices in North America, and living costs continue to rise. We have two problems here.
First, the carbon tax has proven that many industries cannot compete with countries that do not have a carbon tax. Despite the 's insistence on his “progressive trade” agenda, it has been a total failure.
How often do we hear about carbon leakage? We do not, because those who promote carbon taxes refuse to talk about carbon leakage. It is an acknowledgement that carbon taxes can harm our economy without reducing pollution. There is no mystery why investment in Canada has declined every year since the Liberal government was elected. Each year it has been in power, it has enacted policies that have increased costs and have made us less competitive as a country. Irresponsible governments sitting on massive amounts of carbon tax revenue love to throw that money around, picking winners and losers.
I should add that the B.C. greenhouse growers have also secured B.C. carbon tax exemptions, not unlike some of Ontario's worst industrial polluters that have also received extensions and exclusions from the Ontario cap-and-trade way of taxing carbon. We all know the more carbon tax increases, the list of greenhouse gas emitters getting carbon leakage subsidies and relief will also continue to rise.
That leads to my second point. We will have a carbon tax that penalizes hard-working Canadian families because they never get exemptions from paying the carbon tax. We all know who pays for those subsidies and handouts. It is those hard-working families that are increasingly struggling to get by because the Liberal government keeps downloading costs onto them.
Environment Canada expects the carbon tax to go even higher. The Liberals are refusing to tell Canadians what it will cost. However, they are completely hiding that they will not stop there. They will continue to increase carbon taxes on Canadians. When either the or the are asked how much greenhouse gas emissions would be taken out of the environment by a Liberal carbon tax, we all know they will not answer. We should remember that in B.C., after a decade of a carbon tax, greenhouse gas emissions went up and not down.
The price of gasoline, the price to heat our homes, the price to buy groceries and provide food for our families, and the price of everyday goods that Canadians rely on will all go up under this Liberal carbon tax. We must stop increasing costs on Canadians with a failed carbon tax that we have already established is not working. That is why I will be voting in favour of the motion. We need to start addressing the cost of living for Canadians, not making the country unaffordable for them to live here.
Mr. Speaker, it is truly a privilege for me to stand in the House and represent the fine folks in the constituency of Red Deer—Lacombe, some of the hardest working people we will ever find, many of them out of work or underemployed now as a direct result of policies, both provincially and federally, when it comes to the energy sector. People only need to take a drive through my constituency past the pipeline companies and the Edgar Industrial Park in Red Deer. If there is not a for sale or for lease sign on some of these buildings, they will see that all the iron is either still parked in the yard or gone. Where has it gone? It has gone to the United States. We are selling rigs at the pace of one a week out of Canada and into the United States.
This is all about the carbon tax cover-up. The Liberal government will not reveal the documents that finance officials and others have, underlining the cost to Canadians. This is because bad news is not good news for the government, so it will not release that information. It knows it will be a damning set of information that will likely haunt it into the next election.
However, we will not let up on this side of the House. We appreciate clean air, water, and land, and we will make the responsible choices that allow us to get there.
Notwithstanding all the graphics certain organizations and interests like to produce and show around the world, Alberta is one of the most clean place we will ever find. There are beautiful mountains and crystal clear blue rivers flowing out of our Rockies, pristine wilderness in our national and provincial parks, as well as in our forested areas all over northern and central Alberta. It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Anybody who says otherwise obviously has not been there.
The Liberals will not say how much the cost of this carbon tax is. In fact, when we ask for the documents, we are given these massive documents and every page is virtually blacked out, otherwise known as “redacted”, which means the information in there is too sensitive for the government to give us. It leads us to having an opposition day where we have to ask the government to reveal this information, which is known as the carbon tax cover-up.
If we are not going to know what the cost of the actual carbon tax is going to be, then we should know what the cost is to Canadians. I will talk about the boots on the ground.
As I alluded to earlier, over 100,000 jobs in the energy sector alone, many of jobs in my constituency of Red Deer—Lacombe, are not entry level salary jobs. These are some of the best paying jobs we will find in Alberta. In fact, these jobs are so desirable and so high paying that the taxes that have come from Alberta over the last series of decades have left Alberta in a situation where it contributes approximately $20 billion more a year to the coffers and revenues of the Government of Canada than the province of Alberta gets back in transfer payments for health, education, and so on. This means it is a $20-billion a year sector. This is just for the people who live and work in Alberta. It does not even include the thousands of people across the country who used to travel all the time to Alberta.
I mentioned this in a speech last week. I have been a member of Parliament here for 12 years. I get on a flight Thursdays to go back to Alberta, which is the best part of my job. These flights would originate out of either Montreal or Halifax. When I would get on that airplane in Ottawa, it would be filled with oil sands workers coming from either Atlantic Canada, the Maritimes, or Quebec. These folks were all wearing their Firebag and Kearl project jackets, they had their workboots on, and they were ready to go all the way to Alberta. These jobs were so well-paying it was cost-effective enough for them to book a flight, go work in the oil sands for several weeks at a time, and then go back to their families. That paycheque would improve the quality of life of these Canadians. People from all over the world would come to Alberta.
Over 4,000 businesses in Canada alone have a direct line to the oil sands because they provide goods, services, or products to the oil sands development. These are millions and millions of dollars of revenue.
The cost is 100,000 pairs of boots on the ground that are no longer working in some of the highest-paying jobs, and paying the highest tax rate, by the way, providing government coffers with more wealth than virtually any other sector of the economy.
What has this cost been to families? When someone does not have a job it causes stress. It causes strife. It causes suicides. These are things that do not get talked about a lot, but as the member of Parliament for Red Deer—Lacombe, I can say this is one of the most egregious factors undermining the ability of those in an otherwise well-paid portion of our economy who have lost their jobs to be able to provide for their families. What I mean by that is places where houses are relatively expensive and the cost of living is fairly high because the amount of wealth that is generated there is generally fairly high. This creates all kinds of problems for the constituents in my riding.
These costs are very high. There is a cost for mothers wanting to take their kids to baseball or to hockey. When one lives in Rimbey—
Mr. Speaker, I see you want me to stop here. I will pause and resume where I left off with the fine folks in Rimbey.