The House resumed from November 26 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise and speak as the member of Parliament for Vaughan—Woodbridge on behalf of the residents of my riding as their strong voice in Ottawa. I know first-hand how important the issue of climate change is to Vaughan residents.
Our government has adopted a whole-of-government approach, partnering and consulting with industry and stakeholders to tackle climate change and ensure not only a healthy environment but a strong economy for generations, including for my two young daughters, Eliana and Natalia, and all youth across the country.
It is great to speak today and continue the debate on Bill , the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, which would provide for the implementation of national targets and plans for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, with the objective of attaining net-zero emissions by 2050. Fighting climate change is most certainly about reducing or lowering greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also about a stronger Canadian economy and strengthening our middle class while helping those working hard to join it.
Many of my colleagues know that I am a champion of the private sector. I have increased linkages between countries through trade, investment and, most importantly, wealth creation. Our economic system has brought with it a high standard of living and has lifted literally billions of individuals out of poverty despite the current setback caused by the pandemic.
On climate change, industry and the private sector are again leading the charge. We see and hear about this every day. There are technological advances on many fronts, including right here in Canada, where electric buses are engineered, manufactured and assembled. There are announcements by automotive companies to produce electric vehicles here in Canada, made by the hard-working individuals at Ford's Oakville plant, Stellantis's Windsor facility and GM's operation in Ingersoll. My Vaughan—Woodbridge riding is home to a Tesla dealership where Canadians are able to purchase and pick up their electric vehicles. It is less than two kilometres from my constituency office.
The feedback from leading private sector stakeholders on Bill has been unequivocally positive. Allow me to quote from the Business Council of Canada's statement “Transparency around net-zero emissions targets is essential, business leaders agree”. In it, the council said, “Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets are important, as is the process to assess progress against those targets.... Clear guidelines, a predictable policy framework and a supportive investment environment will help them get there faster.”
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, or CAPP, represents an industry that is the largest exporting sector of the Canadian economy, with over $100 billion in export proceeds. The energy sector directly and indirectly employs nearly 900,000 Canadians. As CAPP noted:
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is committed to working with the Canadian government to meet emissions reduction objectives, which includes the ambition to achieve net-zero by 2050.
By working together, we can further accelerate innovation and develop technology that reduces emissions while delivering responsibly produced energy to meet global energy demand.
We all welcome the new leadership in the United States, as our neighbour to the south has rejoined the Paris climate accord. The Biden administration will once again join with the Conservative U.K. Prime Minister, the European Union and all 195 countries that have signed it, 190 of which have ratified it. Canadians expect no less than leadership, and that is what we are delivering through Bill .
I wish to return briefly, in my remaining time, to a company that I mentioned in my first opportunity to speak to Bill . I wish to dive a little deeper into it, as it is indicative of where the private sector is going and leading on climate change.
Enel is Europe's largest utility and the world's largest renewable energy provider, with nearly 100 million end-users across 33 countries. For years, Enel has been recognized as a leader of sustainable development in its work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We know this is a global issue and will require global leadership.
Speaking at the 2020 Bloomberg Green Summit, Enel CEO Francesco Starace laid out why the company for years has pursued policies in line with the United Nations sustainable development goals. As noted by the CEO, “We’re looking at sustainability, not just green energy—it’s a little larger. As the world evolves more and more into a circular and sustainable economy, it makes sense that financial instruments are tailored to that direction.”
In fact, in 2020, the United Nations Global Compact galvanized chief financial officers of global companies responsible for over $14 trillion of investments, which compares with the size of the Canadian economy of $2 trillion, by establishing a task force to help close the gap in funding for a sustainable and green future. Enel is the task force's patron sponsor and co-chair. Quite innovatively, the company issued its first sustainable development green SDG-linked bonds, denominated in U.S. dollars and euros, as part of its sustainable future.
The future is now. Innovation is driving the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. Yes, it will take time, but we know that Canada and Canadians are ready and excited for this future.
Bill provides the framework, the certainty and the rigour for Canada to achieve its goal of net zero by 2050. The bill requires the tabling and publication of targets, plans, progress reports and assessment reports. The initial target of 2030 must be set by the within six months of the coming into force of this act, along with an emissions reduction plan. Notably, a progress report must also be tabled by 2027.
Bill is a dynamic document. In addition to having a robust parliamentary accountability mechanism, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, supported by the Office of the Auditor General, must examine and report on the government's implementation of the measures aimed at mitigating climate change within five years of the coming into force of this act and every five years thereafter.
Madam Speaker, I will continue.
At first glance, what I just read seems very promising. The Liberals have always been good at using buzzwords to suck Canadians in with their promises, especially when it comes to hot topics like environmental protection and climate change mitigation.
If we do not seem overly enthusiastic or prepared to blindly get on board with this Liberal government's proposal of a net-zero Canada by 2050, it is a reaction based on our experience. For example, the following is an excerpt from the mandate letter for the Minister of the Environment:
Support the Minister of Natural Resources to operationalize the plan to plant two billion incremental trees over the next 10 years, as part of a broader commitment to nature-based climate solutions that also encompasses wetlands and urban forests.
Two billion trees is a lot. Not only will Canada be helping to sequester CO2, but it will also be creating jobs. According to a study published in Science magazine in July 2019, there is room for an extra 0.9 billion hectares of canopy cover on Earth, which is equivalent to 1.2 trillion trees. When added to existing forests, these trees could sequester 205 gigatonnes of CO2, or one-quarter of the carbon present in the atmosphere.
Let us not forget the 2019 election campaign, when we got used to the Liberals' big talk and grand gestures to impress the public. They promised to plant two billion trees. We all know that wood absorbs CO2, so it is not a bad idea in and of itself, but now the Liberals need to walk the talk. The current Liberal government is merely using smoke and mirrors to impress the public and putting everything off until later.
Reporter Mélanie Marquis wrote in La Presse that not a single tree has been planted to date. It is 2021, and the Liberals were elected in 2019. I know that they are, once again, going to blame COVID-19, and there may be some truth to that, but what action are they going to take?
If I recall correctly, in the spring of 2019, before Parliament was shut down for the scheduled election, there was a sense of urgency about taking action. There was bold talk about the importance of taking concrete action for the environment. Nothing was done.
The government has now introduced Bill , which would implement measures and plans. Do we know when the first plan will be tabled? I will figure it out based on the number of majority elections. It will be tabled in two elections plus one year, that is in nine years, or in 2030.
Does the Liberal Party of Canada have any credibility to govern our country and make environmental decisions? The answer is that it has no credibility. It kicks the can down the road. This is the same approach it takes to finances: It puts things off, it takes no responsibility and it has no vision.
According to the calculations in Mélanie Marquis's article, we have lost one year of planting. By eliminating one year from the ten-year plan, we are now talking about 222 million trees a year. That is 608,828 trees a day. Is that realistic? That is the Liberal government's action plan for our planet. I have to admit that the Liberals made a smart promise; now, they cannot keep it. It is a gesture, but that is not all we must do to reach our objectives to protect our planet.
Yesterday, in Le Journal de Québec, Mothers Step In published an open letter to MPs from the Quebec City area, including me, so this concerns me as well.
Mothers Step In are mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers who want to leave a healthy planet for future generations. This pandemic has taught us a few things. We can take concrete action to make a difference, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our carbon footprint.
In its letter, the Mothers Step In organization writes that “Bill C-12, introduced by the government as its ‘net-zero emissions act’, is not a real climate bill. There is still time to improve it. We call on all our elected officials—especially the women—in Ottawa to act immediately and decisively. This is imperative, if we want to protect our children.”
To the children of the co-signers of the letter—Ernest, Madeleine, Élodie, Marguerite, Éléonore, Félicie, Stella, Megan, Louka, Mathilde, François-Xavier, Lionel, Annette, Henri, Chanelle, Ismael, Yameli and Hendrik—and to all the children of this beautiful country, I would like to say that the Conservative Party of Canada will take real action for the environment, as our record attests.
The other opposition parties accuse us of being oblivious and doing nothing to protect our planet. That is totally untrue, and I want to offer all parents, mothers, fathers and children some reassurance as to our record and tell them that the Conservative Party will work to save our planet and improve our environmental footprint.
The Conservative Party's list of accomplishments is long, and I would like to highlight some of them.
Between 2006 and 2015, we invested $17.7 billion in concrete action to improve the global environment. We created the clean energy fund to support clean energy research. We enhanced tax relief for green energy production and invested in 1,569 local conservation projects. We created the habitat stewardship program for species at risk. We invested $140 million in creating Canada's first national urban park, Rouge National Urban Park. That was an achievement. That is a fact.
We added an area nearly twice the size of Vancouver Island to the network of federally protected areas. In 2006, we created the chemicals management plan. In 2012, greenhouse gas emissions were 5.1% lower than they had been in 2005, and the economy grew by 10.6%.
We took action. That is why I find it absurd that the Liberal Party of Canada is positioning itself as a champion of the environment. Bill C-12—
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona.
I hope the next few times I will speak with you in English.
I will speak French for now, but I too am working very hard to learn our great country's other official language.
Let me say that you are right. We could be taking meaningful action. Bill , the bill we are debating, does not address the concerns or propose any quick, tangible measures.
I would like to remind my colleague of the Conservative Party of Canada's record from 2006 to 2015, when our government made major investments through the eco-energy innovation initiative. These are meaningful steps the Conservative Party took at the time, but the problem has not been solved yet, and we are all aware that it is going to take a collective effort.
When it comes to recycling, everyone is making an effort to achieve results, yet 65% of the recyclable items that Canadians go out of their way to put in blue bins end up in the landfill. There is a structural problem that we need to address.
That is the type of meaningful action we need to be taking.
I would like to reassure my colleague that we can take meaningful action to get results for the sake of our environment, both here in Canada and around the globe.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to join the debate on Bill , Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act, which is arguably the most important piece of climate legislation in our country's history.
This is because Canada should always be striving to act as a world leader in climate change action, but our history has not borne that out. The fact is that Canada remains a top-10 emitter in greenhouse gas emissions on an absolute basis, and that we are firmly entrenched as a top-three contributor of emissions on a per capita basis. For too long, Canada has set emission reduction goals and failed to meet them. Most of the time we have failed to even have a realistic plan to meet them.
In 2005, we committed ourselves via the Kyoto protocol to reduce emissions to an average of 6% below our 1990 emissions level. The Liberals, Bloc and NDP all voted in favour of meeting the targets. Former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin then brought forth project green, which was Canada's first real climate action plan to meet this commitment.
Unfortunately, the government was brought down and we were subject to a critical decade of being a climate laggard under the Harper government. We missed the Kyoto targets, and nothing was done to meet the Copenhagen 2020 targets. Over these years Canada's efforts were characterized as cowardly, and Canada was even seen as a pariah in the context of UN-led climate change negotiations, giving us a dubious winning streak for the Fossil of the Year Award as well as a Lifetime Unachievement Award.
This was not only a source of great national shame. By failing to act in the greatest and most urgent challenge of our world, we also eroded our soft power and our country's standing in the world.
Thankfully, those years are over. Canada, led by our former minister of environment and climate change, was a key protagonist in negotiating the Paris climate accord, where the world committed to limiting global warning to 2 degrees Celsius while working towards limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.
Canada and the biggest emitters around the world are now committing to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. We have also committed to bringing in a strengthened 2030 target in time for the leaders' climate summit on April 22 of this year.
We know committing to it is not good enough. We need to hold ourselves accountable to meeting it. That is why the legislation we are debating today is so important. Bill will act as the legal foundation for Canada's strengthened climate action plan by mandating national emissions targets on five-year increments, based on the best scientific information available, as well as by requiring detailed strategies for achieving these targets and transparent reporting in efforts on the way to get there.
An independent net-zero advisory board will play a key role in informing the government in the setting of targets and the plans to meet them. This body was recently set up with a diverse and exceptional group of 14 experts, including several who have been highly critical of the government's efforts to date. I think that shows leadership.
I know the advice they will give the minister through annual reports on its activities, which the minister must publicly respond to, will be essential to ensure Canada's actions are informed by the specific challenges and opportunities our country faces.
Furthermore, the minister must table both progress reports and assessment reports in Parliament with respect to each target. As such, the public will be kept aware of our progress, two to three years prior to every target, and our prospective success or failure will be analyzed and presented to the House following each target date.
In the event of a failure to achieve a target, the minister must report on the reasons why Canada failed to meet the target, provide a description of actions the Government of Canada is taking or will take to address the failure to achieve the target. This is important both for transparency as well as for an accountability mechanism, because it will provide an ideal evidentiary base for a potential plaintiff to bring forth climate change litigation against the government for inaction.
The would also have a duty to publish annual reports explaining how the government is managing its financial risks and opportunities related to climate change. This obligation will require the government to report on all its operations, including Crown corporations, such as Export Development Canada, so we can track how public money, even in organizations where the government is not involved in case-by-case investment decisions, and see how it is impacting our climate action.
This could set the stage for appropriate responses to be made. As such, Bill will effectively lay government spending bare, and ensure that Canada is putting its money where its mouth is.
The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, who is an independent officer of Parliament, must, at least once every five years, examine and report on the government's actions to date, providing additional scrutiny and transparency for Canadians.
The impact of multiple independent reports will have on climate accountability and transparency cannot be emphasized enough. However, the accountability bill itself does not stand, without acknowledging the importance and interdependence of Canada's strengthened climate plan introduced this past December. The strengthened climate plan, which has been deemed as absolutely marvellous by former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, builds upon the 2017 pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change to ensure that we do not only meet but actually exceed our 2030 climate target.
It includes 64 new measures and $15 billion in new investments, on top of the $60 billion in investments in our 2017 plan. This strengthened plan includes measures that will support the rollout and retrofits of energy-efficient homes and buildings; support more sustainable transportation, such as electric vehicles; support cleaner electricity to power our country; help build a lower carbon advantage for our industries; and invest in nature-based solutions to climate change, such as planting two billion trees.
Importantly, we have committed to continually and predictably increasing the price on pollution, up to $170 a tonne by 2030, to provide an incentive and certainty to individuals and businesses alike. This is so they can make and invest in more sustainable choices, while at the same time ensuring that the vast majority of Canadian households will get more money back than they spend on this mechanism.
The former leader of the B.C. Green Party tweeted, “The tax and dividend approach is the 'gold standard' of pricing policies and Canada should be praised for this innovative approach.”
While this plan provides a blueprint, we need Bill to ensure it is followed by the current government, as well as to ensure that future governments are held to account as well. I hope that my colleagues across this House see likewise and will be supporting this bill to get to the committee stage.
With that said, Bill is not perfect. There are ways it can be strengthened, and I hope that the following areas will be looked at at the environment committee. I believe that the progress reporting in this bill needs to be sooner. This is so Canadians could judge and be confident that our government is on track and on the appropriate arc to reach both our 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goals and setting us on a realistic path to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. I think this can be done three or four years earlier on top of the other reporting obligations that will be taking place in the meantime.
In addition, I do not think we need to limit ourselves by setting only five-year advance emissions reduction targets. We must ensure that the government, the private sector and Canadians at large have a clear medium-term picture of where we are going, so actions and investments that will help us get there are made now. In this respect, I believe we can set targets for 10 years in advance, at the same time we are making the targets for five years in advance.
As an example of what this would mean, a 10-year plan would allow for the planning and construction of provincial electricity interties that could connect to B.C. and Alberta electricity grids to support Alberta to transition away from fossil fuel-emitting electricity. This would be stable baseload power from B.C. while Alberta invests in renewable electricity. Alberta has some of the greatest Canada-leading potential in this space.
Canada's action on climate change alone will not solve our global crisis, but we have a strong moral, scientific and economic reasons to play our parts. We are not a first mover in this space, and we can learn from the efforts of our counterparts in bringing in legislation, while fitting it to the particular context we have here in Canada. This bill and our climate plan will ensure Canada will not be left behind by our international counterparts in the massive $2.6-trillion opportunity of the green economy.
Achieving our targets is not something that can be accomplished by the Government of Canada alone, as, by virtue of our federal structure, the federal government does not hold all of the levers on emissions actions. We need all orders of government playing a part.
B.C. has put forth a strong plan with a clean B.C. plan and I am fortunate to have municipalities within my riding taking a leadership role, including the District of Squamish directly intervening in the Supreme Court of Canada case on the constitutionality of the federal backstop price on pollution. We need municipalities on board because half of our emissions come from within municipal boundaries, but we also need to be there in partnership with them, as they often face the biggest costs in adaptation.
I will conclude today by asking my colleagues to support Bill , arguably our most important piece of climate legislation in a decade, to get to committee. The measures I have identified in my speech are potential amendments, and I know my colleagues have identified others that we can make to make this important legislation even better.
We let one party's intransigence on climate action derail our country for a decade before. Let us not make that same mistake again. Let us deliver the climate action that the vast majority of Canadians want to see, and let us pass climate accountability legislation.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill , since I am concerned about environmental issues.
My party is in favour of the principle in Bill C-12, but unfortunately the bill does not go far enough. We were off to a good start, but sadly, the government shows no ambition with Bill C-12.
I would like to point out, because it seems essential to me, that all countries that care about the environment are putting forward legislation that will set greenhouse gas, or GHG, reduction targets. Unfortunately, in Bill C-12 these targets are nowhere to be found. Through the member for , my party introduced Bill , which sets greenhouse gas reduction targets.
If you compare Bill C-12 against Bill C-215, you quickly realize that nothing in Bill C-12 holds the government accountable for meeting its net-zero emission targets. It contains nothing to make future governments accountable for their actions. However, that would be necessary. There are no target requirements.
I find it rather strange that Bill C-12 sets out intentions. I always have good intentions. I want to lose weight. I intend to do it, but, unfortunately, I do not. We need to set achievable targets. That is a fact, but we need to at least set some targets. Bill C-215 talked about a 30% reduction by 2030.
I spoke earlier about the lack of a control mechanism—other than the political parties, which is rather problematic—to let the government know, objectively and impartially, whether it is meeting its targets. This bill does not contain any such mechanism, unlike the bill introduced by my party.
The government was on the right track, but it did not go far enough. When I was thinking about it earlier, I wondered why the government would be so wishy-washy about climate targets. Often, when we talk about the environment, I think the biggest challenge is striking a balance between the environment and the economy.
For those with an interest in environmental issues, the 1987 Brundtland report introduced the idea of sustainable development and, for the first time, people tried to strike a balance between the environment and the economy. I think the Canadian government has a lot of work to do on that front.
Balancing the environment and the economy is challenging, but so is figuring out how to overcome national self-interest. That is something that often comes up. Every time we talk about climate change, we hear the same key phrase. It is something I often hear from my Conservative colleagues. They say, “Yes, but China and the U.S. are doing worse”, as though that clears us of all responsibility.
There are therefore two main questions. How do we overcome national self-interest? How do we strike a balance between the economy and the environment? These two questions lead me to the crux of the environmental issue in Canada. The problem, in a word, is oil.
The Canadian economy revolves entirely around the oil industry. The Quebec nation often pays the price of a national self-interest centred on the oil industry. If I am not mistaken, other than Norway, the Quebec nation is one of the only nations in the world whose economy is not based on fossil fuels.
We therefore need to make both the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party aware of the fact that Canada's future does not lie in petroleum resources. The best example is what can be done with the forestry industry. The Standing Committee on Natural Resources held six meetings and was told by the main stakeholders in the forestry industry that it is probably the most promising sector in the fight against GHGs. We must make good use of the forest. It is probably the most promising sector.
The forest is a carbon sink. After 70 years, a tree begins to release the carbon it has sequestered all its life through a natural process. It will either be devoured by insects, or rot, or be consumed by fire. Therefore, we must collect this wood, which has sequestered some carbon, and make full use of it, something the federal government has never considered.
I will give an example that I have repeated ad nauseam for some time. Take the construction sector. If we replace a cubic meter of steel and concrete with wood, we can reduce CO2 emissions by between 1.1 tonnes and 2.1 tonnes. This would represent 18 tonnes of carbon sequestered in 20 cubic metres of wood used for every house that would be built in Quebec.
I mentioned the construction sector, but there are many other possible applications. Now, with what is known as the bioeconomy, we can replace all petroleum-based products and generate bioplastics and even the medical equipment that was in short supply during the pandemic.
One company, FPInnovations, managed to make masks out of wood pulp in just under six weeks. We now know that we can use moulds that are also made out of wood pulp to make certain types of masks that can replace the well-known N95 masks that have been in short supply during this crisis.
If the federal government wants to meet targets it should start by setting some. To meet them, simple measures can be put in place. In its recovery plan, the Bloc Québécois proposes using carbon footprint as a criterion for purchasing power in the federal government's procurement policy. That is entirely feasible and we could leverage that into support for the forestry industry.
I want to address another essential point. I talked about national self-interest and the fact that we must reconcile the economy and the environment.
During the period from 2017 to 2020, the federal government invested $24 billion in the oil industry. Out of that $24 billion, $17 billion was used to nationalize the Trans Mountain pipeline.
During that same period, the federal government invested $950 million in Canada's entire forestry industry. For Quebec, that means just $71 million a year. Out of that $950 million, 75% are loans. These are not net investments going into the forestry sector.
This is clearly a double standard. As long as we stick to the narrative of putting oil before technologies that would help us reduce our carbon footprint, we will have the same problem. I do not want to malign anyone, but I think that this situation might explain the federal government's lack of ambition when it comes to setting greenhouse gas reduction targets.
As I was saying earlier, we have a solution. The forestry industry is where the economy and the environment intersect. Everyone is talking about the huge potential for innovation in the forestry industry, but the Government of Canada has not committed to or invested in this solution.
Our other solution has to do with transportation electrification. The government has indicated that it plans to make transportation electrification one aspect of its recovery plan. Now, if I were unscrupulous, I would point out that this plan is mainly focused on the economy of Ontario, the only province that no longer provides rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles. I am not unscrupulous, though.
This may be a step in the right direction for Quebec and its expertise. We already have expertise in batteries and we are quite advanced when it comes to hydroelectricity. The possibility of transportation electrification is—
Madam Speaker, it is an absolute honour to rise in this House to speak on behalf of the residents of my riding of Davenport on Bill .
Other than my constituents' very legitimate concerns about COVID-19, which has been the top issue for the past year, the main other thing they have written to me about has been climate action and a green recovery. They have really been pushing me to make sure that our federal government will not only meet our Paris accord targets and achieve net-zero by 2050, but that as we come out of COVID-19 and restart our economy, we also continue to commit ourselves to a green recovery and a carbon-neutral future.
As we look at this bill, it is important to understand its scope and what it actually sets out to do. We also need to consider it in the context of the things that our government is already doing to lower emissions and the many challenges that are still in front of us. As well, it is important to recognize that it is only one part, albeit an extraordinarily key part, of our government's climate action strategy.
For years many of us have urged our government to present a clear, credible, transparent climate plan to show Canadians exactly how our government intends to meet our Paris accord targets. That has been a very direct ask of many environmentalists and many people in general from the Davenport community.
I was absolutely delighted when, in mid-December, our presented a plan in a report called “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy”, which basically outlined a number of policy changes that will get us way past our original 2030 targets. It lays out a number of things in our plan to cut emissions across a number of different sectors, including our homes and transportation systems, industry and natural spaces. It talks a lot about our price on pollution and our plan to increase that price and provide incentives around that, as well as how we are going to help increase the kind of rebates that Canadian families are receiving to cover their costs and to invest in reducing emissions. I could go on, as I am very proud of this report, which presents a plan. I really encourage everybody to read it.
Bill will ensure that we meet our targets. What exactly does it do? The bill, as it is written right now, sets out that national targets and plans for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada be put in place with the objective of obtaining net-zero emissions by 2050. The act requires the tabling and publication of targets, plans, progress reports and assessment reports. The bill also stipulates the content of milestone plans and, in the event of a failure to achieve a target, requires the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to publicly explain the reasons. There are also a number of other accountability mechanisms, including for the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development, supported by the Office of the Auditor General.
I am really pleased that we have laid this all out, which is important for us to do. I am really pleased that it is included in Bill C-12.
I will also mention that our first target is for 2030, and that there are also subsequent milestone years in 2035, 2040, 2045, with targets being set and emissions reduction plans established at least five years in advance of each of the subsequent milestone years. That is basically it, in a nutshell. I know we have heard a lot about this over the last few speeches.
I think it is important for us to articulate that since we were elected in late 2015, we have done a lot to protect our environment and to lower our emissions. We have put a price on pollution. We have invested over $60 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help Canadians adapt to climate change, primarily through investments in clean technology and infrastructure. We have also started taking some urgent action to ban single-use plastics. I know we are well on our way to protecting 25% of our land and water by 2025.
My hon. colleague, the member for , mentioned to the House late last year when he was speaking on this bill that our government's actions between 2016 and 2019 have already put Canada on the path to reducing 2030 emissions by 25%, or 227 million tonnes. That is more than any Canadian government in history has done to date.
The net-zero emissions accountability act is an important step forward. I know it has been lauded by a number of groups, including Greenpeace, which has called it an important step toward holding governments accountable for meeting science-based climate targets. I was also pleased to see the Business Council of Canada lauded it, saying that clear guidelines, a predictable policy framework and a supportive investment in the environment will help businesses get to net zero faster.
While Bill is an excellent bill, Davenport residents have been calling me for the last little while to indicate that there might be some ways we can improve it. Therefore, I held had a number of meetings with groups such as Just Earth, Fridays for Future, Leadnow and Seniors for Climate Action Now, all of which are really amazing groups that have been talking to me. They have advocated for us to have a stronger emissions target by 2030 of at least 45%, with frequent progress reports over the next 10 years. They want to make sure that the accountability mechanisms are as strong as possible and that support for the offices of the environment commissioner and Auditor General is locked in place. They also indicated that they would love to see the advisory council and its recommendations be fully public and transparent. Those are just some of the very important changes and recommendations they have suggested that could improve Bill . I wanted to make sure I put them on the record.
The other thing I want to mention, because it is so important to the people of my riding of Davenport, albeit it is not directly relevant to what is in front of us, is the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as soon as possible. I know this is something that was articulated to the . He held a virtual town hall with residents from my riding, where he very clearly indicated to us that he is working on this. I really am so grateful to him and his unbelievable team for their hard work.
I also want to mention that in our fall economic statement, we have also reaffirmed quite a few investments to ensure that we do reduce our emissions and get ourselves on track to exceeding our 2030 targets and meeting our net-zero target of 2050. We talked about a historic $14.9 billion investment, federal funding for public transit and a huge investment of almost $3 billion to help homeowners make their homes more energy efficient. We have talked about planting over two billion trees to fight climate change. I know that our made an announcement about that. We have committed almost a billion dollars to restore a degraded ecosystem to protect our wildlife and improve land and resource management practices, among many other things.
Davenport residents have indicated unequivocally to me that this continues to be top of mind for them. I want to read something from Natalie Zed, who wrote: “I understand that decisions are being made in cabinet right now and in the Liberal government about how to invest over $100 billion in a green recovery and/or beyond. I'm writing with everything I have to ask you to do whatever you can for the approval of that investment. COVID is a minor problem compared to what climate change is already bringing, and we have only seen the beginning of it. We're in the midst of a civilization crisis and collapse and it's super important for us to be focused on this.”
I want to close by saying how proud I am of the healthy environment and economy plan. I am very proud of this bill, which if passed will set out the legally binding five-year milestones and set in stone our emissions reduction plan.
In the end, climate change is not a Liberal, Conservative, Green Party, Bloc Québécois or NDP issue, but a federal issue, and all parties across all levels of government must do their part to urgently tackle climate change. Our current and future generations are depending on us to take urgent action now. We cannot wait any longer. No more words; it is all about action now.
I am thankful for the opportunity to discuss this bill. I urge all of my colleagues in the House to move for speedy passage of the bill.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to join you this evening to talk about Bill . We are debating it in the House. I am pleased to take the time to discuss it because I have some experience when it comes to environmental issues.
I always find it fascinating to hear my Bloc Québécois, Green Party or even Liberal colleagues try to demonize the Conservatives by saying that, unlike other Canadians across the country, members of the big Conservative family do not care about environmental issues
In my opinion, the big difference between our political family and the others is that we are pragmatic. We want to take concrete action. We do not want to simply come up with hare-brained ideas that we will never be able to implement.
I know what I am talking about because I used to be the mayor of Victoriaville, also known as the cradle of sustainable development. In fact, most environmental initiatives originated in my community, my municipality. Victoriaville was the first town in Quebec to bring in a recycling program and an organic waste collection program. Big city folks often like to lecture us a bit, but the fact is that this started more than 20 years ago in our regions. We just got right to it instead of shooting our mouths off and talking big, like the Liberal Party unfortunately does.
The Liberals introduced a bill on attaining net-zero emissions by 2050 that has no targets, when they are not even capable of meeting the Paris targets by 2030. There was agreement on the 2030 targets. Those were the targets set by the Conservatives and copied by the Liberals.
After five years of Liberal government, it is clear that, year by year, Canada is drifting farther and farther away from those agreed-upon targets. The Liberal government would have us believe that everything will be fine in 2050, but it cannot even hit the 2030 targets. It is actually getting farther and farther away from them.
The Liberals have really changed their tune over time. When they first came to power, they scrapped the public transit tax credit. A few weeks ago, their minister announced supposedly historic investments in developing public transit in Canada. When will those investments be made? Starting in 2026. Those investments will be made not by the next government, but by the one after that.
The government is once again refusing to step up and bear the burden of making tough decisions for the good of our environment. It announced that it would plant two billion trees over the next 10 years, but none of its budgets have earmarked any money for this, and not a single tree has been planted yet. The Liberals make all the right promises, but they do not follow through in ways that show Canadians we are serious.
My colleagues in the NDP, the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party can attest to the fact that two weeks ago, the Conservatives tabled a motion calling for Canada to stop exporting its waste abroad. We need to be responsible consumers. We need to take action to improve the situation, recycle and educate the public at the grassroots level, with the goal of reducing consumption.
Adding value to products is good, but consuming less would already be better for the environment. The only party that voted against this Conservative Party motion was the Liberal Party. The Liberals voted against the motion because it was the Conservative Party that introduced it. In the Liberals' minds, that meant it could not be a good idea. However, the Bloc Québécois, the NDP, the Green Party and the independent members voted in favour of our motion.
The reality is that the Liberal Party talks a lot but does not deliver. We can see that, because the bill has no targets, no binding measures for the government. What the Liberals are doing is putting it off until later and setting up another committee of so-called experts. However, the reports are there, and we know what needs to be done. We need to invest in innovation and research and find new ways to replace our oil-based products. That is true, but we still need that oil.
Attacking our jobs, singling out certain provinces and fighting with one another is certainly not the way to reach the consensus needed to make these changes. We will not solve our problem by banning the development of our own domestic natural resources, which create jobs and generate financial resources to pay for our social programs, balance a budget—which is easy for the Liberals, since they think budgets balance themselves—or simply deliver services, nor by consuming the natural resources of other countries, as we are doing now.
This debate about our jobs versus the development of our natural resources is a red herring. Instead, we should be trying to achieve net-zero emissions. Even the big oil and auto companies have joined the net-zero movement already. They have officially stated that they want to work with the government. However, the government must be willing to work with those industries, rather than opposing them and always attacking them.
This means the government needs to stop burying its head in the sand and stop taking people for fools. People know they are still using oil but, in many cases, there is no alternative to this natural resource.
I believe that we are dealing with a government that has never followed through on its promises and that is all talk and no action. It must walk the talk, an expression that Canadians and Quebeckers are familiar with. The time has come for the Liberals to start taking action so that we can fight climate change together, both here in Canada and around the world. We know that we must do this, and we all want to be successful.
In any event, Canadians and Quebeckers recognize the importance of protecting our environment and our natural spaces. Our party and our leader agree on this. Our most recent environmental platform is proof positive of that, because it had some of the same planks as the Green Party. I can say that. This shows that we agree on several elements, and that is why we should all work together toward this goal.
The Conservative Party tackled acid rain. Earlier, I heard my Bloc Québécois colleague say how we managed to do it. It was thanks to Brain Mulroney's government and his global leadership that we put an end to acid rain. We all worked together on legislation that did not attack jobs, but that implemented intelligent measures and rallied everyone around the same cause. These changes were accomplished under a Conservative government, and it was also under a Conservative government that the protection of our national parks was set in motion. We can continue to implement these types of measures. We must work together and move forward.
As the former mayor of Victoriaville, I have personal experience with this issue. People do not want restrictive measures. To make changes, we never imposed restrictive measures that cost money. We worked on education, awareness and information. We worked with youth, who helped us convince older people to change their habits. We worked in a constructive manner rather than fighting, which is the federal government's approach with provincial premiers.
I also want to remind the Liberal government and our Prime Minister that we were elected by the same people. In many provinces, these people chose to elect Conservative premiers and governments. These people are also working hard, but they are grappling with concerns about the economy and employment. The government needs to stop treating these things as mutually exclusive.
I sometimes hear people get upset about oil and gas pipelines, but the fact remains that there are already plenty of them. Pipelines are one of the safest and most effective ways to transport our natural resources across the country. This generates income through jobs and enables us to have good programs. It also enables us to reinvest this money in the transition towards what are known as greener or cleaner energy sources, such as hydroelectricity.
Quebec is lucky in that respect, but that is not the case—
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to speak to this issue in the House and I want to start by going back through a bit of history. I want to go back to the eighties, when I was growing up.
In the eighties, the big issue was the ozone layer. There was talk about the fact that it was thinning, that there were holes in it and that the sun's rays were causing damage. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney got together with some other countries. He brought 24 countries together, and they were able create the Montreal Protocol in 1987. That put the wheels in motion to solve this problem. He worked with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and now, if we look at the Government of Canada website, we see that ozone-depleting substances are decreasing and that it says ozone will be back to its normal state by 2050.
Around the same time, acid rain was another problem. There was literally acid falling from the sky. It was causing health problems and it was also causing problems with vegetation. Again Brian Mulroney was able to work with the U.S. president, and they made an air quality agreement that reduced the pollution that causes acid rain. Today we do not hear anything about acid rain because that problem has been solved.
During the time from Mulroney through to Prime Minister Harper, there were 10 different national parks created, including the Rouge River park in Toronto, and in 2015, Prime Minister Stephen Harper set the greenhouse gas reduction target to 30% below the 2005 levels by 2030. The common thread in all of these environmental successes is Conservative leadership. In 2006, in fact, Corporate Knights magazine named Brian Mulroney the greenest prime minister ever.
Of course, today Mr. Harper's targets have not been achieved by the Liberals. Even though they have been running the country for five years, they have not been able to move toward that. They are still many, many points away from hitting the targets that were set back then, so I will take no lessons from the Liberal government on environmental issues. They can brag about things when they have actually accomplished something for the environment.
What we need to hear is a made-in-Canada solution. I am a tall person, and that means I am good at certain things and not so good at some other things. For example, when a light bulb needs to be changed in our house, I am good at that. My wife is a shorter person, and when she needs something off the top shelf, I am very good at that. The point is that we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses, and that is true for countries also. Countries have strengths and countries have weaknesses.
What we always tell our kids is that they cannot become something that they are not. We have to be proud of who we are and use the skills and talents that we have to contribute to the world. For Canada it is a challenge, because we have higher greenhouse gas output per capita than lots of other countries, but there are reasons for that. Canada is a very big country. When a truck needs to move from Saskatoon to Nova Scotia, it is a long distance. There is a lot of energy required to do that. Flying across our country takes a lot of energy.
Canada is cold. We have to heat our homes. If we do not heat our homes, people will literally die, so it is something that we just have to do. We also produce lots of resources and lots of food, and those are very energy-intensive industries. It requires a lot of energy to produce those things, so we should not feel bad about that. It is who we are, and we should be proud of that. We should find ways—and we do find ways all the time—to utilize the skills that we have to make the world a better place.
This also translates into strengths. Our resource sector is a huge strength, and we can use those strengths to help the world. We all know that Canada has significant quantities of resources, all the different types of minerals, forestry and agricultural resources. We have lots of quantity that we can help the world with. We also have the best ethical and human rights records and laws in the world. We have the highest labour standards anywhere. We also have very high environmental standards. All of these things make our Canadian resources the best in the world.
We also used to have a very stable market-based economy, and once the Conservatives come back into power, we will make sure that we get back to that stable market-based economy that Canada is so used to.
We have a lot of technology to offer the world. We have carbon capture and storage. In my home province, that is a skill we have developed, and we lead the world in it. Canada leads the world in nuclear power. We have all kinds of advances in the agriculture sector. I worked at a company for many years that perfected zero tillage, which is a way of farming that uses less resources and keeps more carbon in the ground, making agriculture more efficient.
These are things that we have not only developed in Canada, but we have exported all around the world to help others in deal with that.
Of course, our oil and gas industry produces significant finances for our country. We are the fourth-largest producer in the world, we employ hundreds of thousands of people and billions of dollars come back to our economy and to our governments through the oil and gas industry. The challenge is to preserve our environment without sacrificing the jobs and our economy.
I like the proposed legislation, Bill . The reason I like it is that it is a made-in-Canada solution to greenhouse emissions. It is far better than a carbon tax, in my view. The carbon tax penalizes farmers, business owners and people who are heating their homes. All of these people get penalized through a carbon tax. The carbon tax does not reduce demand unless the amount of the tax goes way up. Of course, we know that the government is planning to increase it to $170 a tonne, but that is not enough to make a significant difference in the consumption.
The carbon tax is based on a fundamental assumption that there are one of two possible outcomes. The first outcome is that things stay status quo and greenhouse gases continue to rise, and that causes trouble in our environment. The other outcome is that we have to make drastic changes to our lifestyle. We have to turn our thermostat temperature down from 21° to 15°. We have to get rid of anything that uses fuel. We have to make drastic changes in our lifestyle. It looks as though those are the two options we have.
However, I would suggest there is a third option. Canadians are very resilient, creative and smart, and I have a couple of examples that I want to share.
In Saskatchewan, there is a company called Gibson Energy. This company recently expanded its production capacity by 25% with a zero increase in greenhouse gases that go with it. This company found a way to increase production, yet keep greenhouse gases the same.
Right next door to my province, in Alberta, there is another company called Enhance Energy. It captures carbon from the Sturgeon Refinery and the Nutrien fertilizer facility and transports that carbon and sequesters it underground in old wells. So far, in less than 10 years, it has sequestered carbon equivalent to taking 350,000 cars off the road. This is a significant improvement and accomplishment.
What is even better is that we can take this technology and this knowledge that we have and export it around the world. We have our portion of greenhouse gases that we can affect in Canada, but if we can take our technology and leverage it by sending it around the world, we could punch above our weight. We could actually reduce greenhouse gases and help the rest of the world, which would achieve an even better result than just what we could on our own.
We can have a significant impact in the world and we can punch above our weight, and that is what Canadians do. Canadians are resilient and very smart, Canadian companies are very creative and that is where we can really make a significant difference.
As I conclude, I want to come back to a question I get a lot, which is, what would the Conservatives do?
There are two things we would do for sure. First, we would get rid of the inefficient, economic-killing carbon tax. Second, we would instead focus on made-in-Canada solutions like the Gibson Energy and Enhance Energy examples. We would allow Canadians to innovate, to be creative and to make a real, significant difference, not just in Canada but all over the world. As we export these ideas and share them with the world, we will also make the world an overall better place and help everyone reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.