(i) the first carbon tax, including sales tax, will add 41 cents to a litre of gas,
(ii) the second carbon tax, including sales tax, will add 20 cents to a litre of gas,
(iii) the combination of carbon tax one and carbon tax two will mean that Canadians pay an extra 61 cents for each litre of gas,
(iv) making life more expensive for Canadians in a cost of living crisis by implementing a second carbon tax demonstrates how out of touch this Liberal prime minister is,
(v) the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed that both carbon taxes will have a net cost of up to $4,000, depending on the province in which they live,
the House recognize the failure of carbon tax one and call on the government to immediately cancel carbon tax two (the "Clean Fuel Regulations").
He said: Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for .
The lives in a parallel world, a world where fiction reigns supreme and reality is largely absent, a world where people just invent solutions to very real problems. In reality, these solutions sadly do nothing to solve those problems.
Imagine a meeting of the federal Liberal cabinet where each Liberal minister dreams of changing the world in their own way, but where each of those dreams unfortunately turns to a nightmare for the real world. That is exactly what we are experiencing in Canada with this Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s good ideas are very costly for all hard-working Canadians.
Instead of adopting responsible fiscal behaviour that will reduce the cost of living, the Liberal government has passed an inflationary budget that increases the cost of everything for all Canadians. Instead of adopting a real plan to address climate change, what has the Prime Minister done? He went ahead with a tax plan that in no way changes emissions in Canada to actually address climate change. Instead of implementing common-sense policies that respect the situation of Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet each month, the Prime Minister chose to implement measures that make life even more difficult. Why? To satisfy his own conscience, by making those who are the very foundation of our country and our economy, our workers, pay for his “woke” policies.
Today’s motion is clear. Allow me to reread it because it is very important and this will have an impact and disastrous consequences for all Canadians and for Quebeckers, despite what those in the government and the NDP‑Liberal coalition will be claiming all day.
The motion states that the first carbon tax and the associated sales tax—because the carbon tax is taxable with the GST—“will add 41 cents to a litre of gas”. It also states that the second carbon tax, and the associated sales tax—the GST that will also be added to the second carbon tax—“will add 20 cents to a litre of gas”.
If we do the math, we see that, with those two taxes, Canadians will pay 61 cents more on a litre of gas because a tax will be added to a tax that will be added to a tax on another tax. That is a lot of taxes. When it comes time to pay at the pump, when Canadians use a debit card or, too often today unfortunately, a credit card to fill up, they realize it right away.
Above all, when Canadians have to make difficult choices like travelling less on their own or as a family for activities or leisure because they can no longer afford the fuel they need to get around, they are being deprived of their right to live. We never expected something like this to happen in Canada.
Let us return to the motion. It says that “making life more expensive for Canadians in a cost of living crisis”, like the one we are currently experiencing, “by implementing a second carbon tax demonstrates how out of touch this Liberal prime minister is”. It also mentions that the Parliamentary Budget Officer, and not the Conservatives, “confirmed that both carbon taxes will have a net cost of up to $4,000, depending on the province in which they live”. In Quebec, this new carbon tax will cost more than $400 per year, per family. What the motion is asking is that “the House recognize the failure of carbon tax one”. Why is it a failure?
According to a recent United Nations report, how did Canada rank among 63 countries, despite the carbon tax being imposed on Canadians?
If we listen to the Liberals, we would think that Canada's performance is very good and that this country is in the top 10. Looking at how deep the Liberal government will dig into Canadians' pockets, we might expect Canada to be among the best countries because it is costing everyone so much. However, Canada's actual ranking is 58th out of 63.
I will not go further on that topic, because my colleague from has the study with him and he will talk about it in his speech, which is coming up next. I encourage everyone to listen carefully to his speech. Unfortunately, the Liberals want to make the middle class pay for their so-called fight against climate change that does absolutely nothing but deprive Canadians of the financial resources they need to make ends meet.
I will return to the motion, which proposes that “the House recognize the failure of carbon tax one and call on the government to immediately cancel carbon tax two”, the new tax that is about to be added.
It is not enough for the Liberals to cause so much suffering to so many families; they want to go even further with the clean fuel regulations. These regulations will be applied right across Canada, even in Quebec, and Quebeckers will have to pay more at the pump for the same tank of gas.
I think that that is enough. I had the opportunity to talk to many citizens in Mégantic—L'Érable who are at the end of their rope. I visited every food bank in my riding. They have all seen an increase in the number of people using their services. People no longer have enough money to live on, and the Liberal solution is to take even more from the pockets of Canadians. One in five Canadians goes without food because groceries are too expensive. In addition, nine out of 10 young Canadians no longer dream of becoming homeowners in this country because rents are too expensive and homes are unaffordable. The Liberal solution is to impose yet more taxes.
I already hear the tell us, as he does regularly, that we should know that the carbon tax does not apply to Quebec, which has a provincial cap-and-trade system. In Quebec, this system is less visible than a carbon tax.
I will quote from the report of the CFIB, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. It says that the “cap-and-trade system is less visible than a carbon tax because it because it involves creating a market mechanism for allocating the right to emit a certain amount of carbon in the form of allowances....Therefore, there is little information on the pass-through cost of prices within the system that affects both SMEs and consumers.”
Does that mean that they are not affected by carbon pricing? No, not at all. Quebeckers are still affected by carbon pricing with this mechanism. Also, if we increase the carbon tax in Canada, the cost of absolutely everything will increase. Guy Parent, who has been a trucker for 30 years, said that the automatic reaction of companies that pay the carbon tax is to “pass it on to customers”.
In this CFIB study, it is said that any increase in taxes will certainly have an impact on consumers because small businesses do not have the resources to absorb these increases. Now, Quebeckers are being asked to pay even more through a second carbon tax that will deprive them of even more of the income they need to make ends meet. As a result, more and more Quebeckers will need to turn to food banks.
Who are the victims of this ideology? Is the coalition planning to reduce greenhouse gases by making all Quebeckers poor? That would reduce consumption and therefore production, resulting in lower emissions. If that is indeed the plan, it is not the right way to go. Depriving Quebeckers and Canadians of the money they need to make ends meet serves no purpose. That is why I am asking all parliamentarians to support this motion.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this very important debate that affects all families, particularly following such an eloquent speech by the member for Mégantic—L'Érable.
Climate change is real. Humans played a role in creating climate change and so humans have a role to play in reducing its effects. The government is proposing a tax to reduce the impact of climate change. That is not the path that we are taking.
As we speak, we know that 1.5 million Canadians used food banks this month. One in five families will skip a meal this week because they do not have enough money in their pockets.
Inflation is the highest it has been in 40 years. That is the daily reality of Canadian families. The government is saying that, in order to provide direct assistance to Canadian families who are struggling because they do not have enough money in their pockets and have to skip meals, it has to impose a new tax. The government has to create a new tax and take even more money out of people's pockets.
For years, Canadians who have been saving have noticed that, under the Liberal government, the price of housing has doubled, the cost of borrowing to buy a house has doubled and the down payment required to buy a house has doubled. All of that has happened in the eight years that the Liberal government has been in power.
Families are having a hard time. The government's brilliant idea for helping Canadians is to create a new tax, the Liberal carbon tax 2.0. The Liberals think that the issue of climate change can be solved by taxing Canadians, but we believe that that is not the answer, especially in inflationary times.
Let us get one thing straight. The system in Quebec is different from those in other provinces. Quebec has a carbon exchange. One thing that everyone seems to forget in this debate, especially the Liberals and the NDP, is that, in passing the act that created the Liberal carbon tax, the federal government gave itself the right to impose a price on carbon in all of the provinces, regardless of whether or not they had a carbon exchange. The federal government was the only one that knew how much more this would cost. The Liberal federal government wants to impose its philosophy on everyone. It is unfortunate to see people who call themselves nationalists agreeing with the invasive approach taken by the Liberal government, aided and abetted by its pal, the NDP.
For eight years, the Liberal government has been in power. For eight years, the government has been lecturing the entire planet. “Canada is back”: That is what the was so proud to say in Paris in 2015.
Canada is way back; it is really way back. In the last eight years, the government has failed to reach any goals, except one during the COVID tragedy. If the government's plan is to shut down the economy in Canada to achieve its goal, I do not think this is the right way to go, and it is certainly not the one we will follow.
This government talks a good game but never follows through. Need I remind members that the , the founder of Equiterre, is now being personally sued because, according to the document filed with the Federal Court on May 6, 2022, the government talks a lot, but fails to react or take any concrete actions?
The Conservatives are not the only ones who can see that the government's track record on climate change is mediocre. The United Nations sees it too. Last November in Egypt, which is a strange place to hold a conference on climate change, but that is the venue the organizers chose, the United Nations tabled a report on the performance of the 63 most important countries in the world for fighting climate change. “Canada is back”, he said eight years ago.
What did the UN think? It ranked Canada 58th out of 63 countries when it comes to climate change. That is what the report says, and that number is not all.
Let us look at another table. How does Canada rank among the 63 countries in terms of greenhouse gas emissions? It ranks 57th. That is not bad. It moved up a rung. “Canada is back”, indeed—way back.
Now let us talk about renewable energy. How is Canada doing after eight years of Liberal government? It ranks 52nd out of 63, yet it is telling the whole world what to do.
In terms of energy consumption, we are not doing at all well. Canada ranks 63rd out of 63. Canada certainly is back, at the back of the pack. It could not go any lower, since only 63 countries were evaluated. The upshot is that Canada, which loves to lecture everyone else, ranks 58th out of 63. We are not the ones saying that. It comes straight from the UN, yet the Liberals want to tell us what to do.
As I said earlier, pollution is real and must be reduced. Everyone has to work together to reduce pollution. The Liberal approach of imposing a Liberal tax on carbon is not the right way to do that, much less when this tax is doubled. For Canadian families, that means $573 more. For Quebec families, it is $436 more. This is in addition to the carbon exchange that exists in Quebec. As my colleague from said, according to the report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, there is an effect, but it is difficult to pinpoint the price exactly because it is the business that must absorb the costs.
The second Liberal carbon tax will have a direct impact, in that families will need to pay $436 more.
Why does the Liberal carbon tax not work?
If every country in the world had a carbon tax pegged at the same level, we could look closely at that, but this is not the case. I would remind members that, geographically speaking, we have a rather imposing neighbour to the south. There are 40 million Canadians compared with more than 300 million Americans. The U.S. is our next-door neighbour and our most significant financial partner, but it is also our greatest competitor. Our economies are interconnected, and we are proud of that, we are privileged, but we still have to participate on equal terms and get the same results everywhere, so that we can then conquer the world. The carbon tax does not exist in the President Biden's United States.
I was very proud to welcome the President of the United States here. He was just a few feet away from me. There is no denying that it was exciting. He has taken a leading role in the global fight against climate change, yet he does not impose a tax in his own country. Why should we Canadians have one, when our main neighbour, main partner and main competitor does not have one? Perhaps it is because the United States knows it is a risky move to go after American families directly.
That is not to mention the fact that our country generates 1.5% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, whereas the United States generates 14%. We also know that China is responsible for one-third of the world's pollution and that India produces an enormous amount of pollution. Many emerging countries are increasing their environmental impact because their economies are doing better. We must keep that in mind.
The last time I checked, pollution travels. I have never seen a CO2 molecule travelling with a passport. Pollution knows no borders. If other places in the world do not have the same measures as we do in Canada, then we are just undermining our economy without obtaining the tangible results we are trying to achieve.
We believe that we need to take specific concrete action to reduce pollution with tax incentives for investing in the high-tech sector, that we need to give the green light to green energies, that we need to be proud of our Canadian expertise in exporting around the world, particularly to emerging countries, and that we must do all of this with the support and co-operation of the first nations. Those are the four pillars that will help us to combat climate change. That is what we need to do, rather than taxing Canadians.
Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to contribute to today's debate.
As our allies worldwide are moving forward with measures to make their economies greener and cleaner, it is really unfortunate to see that some of our hon. colleagues still do not understand the benefits of our approach. They like saying that our pollution pricing system is making people poorer, chumming the water with hyperinflated misinformation based on the worst-case scenarios of a future where we do nothing to combat climate change.
The truth is, in fact, that today, right now, pollution pricing is putting more money back in the pockets of Canadian households. In 2022-23, through the climate action incentive payments, an average family of four received $745 in Ontario, $832 in Manitoba, $1,101 in Saskatchewan and $1,079 in Alberta. In addition, those living in rural and small communities received an extra 10%.
Clearly, it appears that my colleagues from the official opposition would prefer that we just wait and take no action to address climate change. They would prefer that Canadian households just keep riding the roller coaster of international oil prices, while the cost to our environment, our health and our communities from climate change just keeps adding up. This is by no means a viable option for our country.
At the end of March, our government released budget 2023, our made-in-Canada plan for a strong middle class, an affordable economy and a healthy future. It comes at an important moment for our country.
I will be splitting my time with the member for . He is a proud Quebecker, who I am sure will share his important perspective.
To go back to my remarks, I will begin by speaking about the state of the Canadian economy today. Last year, Canada delivered the strongest economic growth in the G7, and our economic growth was stronger than expected in the first quarter of this year; I think it was 3% or 4%. There are 900,000 more Canadians working today than there were when COVID first hit. Our unemployment rate is just 5%, and it has remained near a record low for five months in a row. We have recovered 129% of the jobs lost to COVID, compared with just 115% in the United States.
Inflation was 4.4% in April, down from a peak of 8.1% last June, and the Bank of Canada predicts that inflation will drop to just 2.5% by the end of this year. Even with a slowing economy driven by elevated interest rates in Canada and around the world, our deficit is projected to be lower than it was last year, down to just 1.4% of the GDP. Our deficit and our net-to-GDP ratio are the lowest in the G7 and lower than those of other large AAA-rated economies, such as Australia and the Netherlands.
This strong economic foundation underpinned the budget our government released in March. Bill , the budget implementation act, is currently at committee stage. It would implement many of the key measures outlined in our budget, including new targeted investments to make life more affordable for Canadians.
As I mentioned earlier, in Canada, inflation has come down significantly from its peak of 8.1% in June. However, we all know that it is still too high, and it is still making it difficult for many Canadians to make ends meet and put food on the table. Groceries are more expensive today, and for many people, higher prices on other essential goods are causing undue stress. That is why budget 2023 announced new targeted inflation relief to help support the most vulnerable Canadians with the cost of living. This includes the introduction of a one-time grocery rebate, providing $2.5 billion in targeted inflation relief for 11 million low- and modest-income Canadian families.
I am pleased to say that, with royal assent to Bill , the grocery rebate will be delivered to eligible Canadians on July 5, 2023, by direct deposit or cheque through the Canada Revenue Agency. This means that eligible couples with two children will receive an extra $467, single Canadians without children up to an extra $234 and seniors an extra $225 on average. However, the Conservatives voted against every one of these measures. This is much-needed inflation relief that will be in the pockets of Canadians in just over a month. This is just one of example of a suite of measures announced in budget 2023 to help make life more affordable.
As another example, to support hard-working small business owners, budget 2023 outlined the government's efforts to work closely with small businesses and the payment card industry to lower these fees. Another important measure in the budget includes working with regulatory agencies, provinces and territories to reduce junk fees for Canadians. The budget also takes action to crack down on predatory lending. Predatory lenders can take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, including low-income Canadians, newcomers and seniors, often by extending very high interest rates. With budget 2023, our government is taking action by proposing to lower the criminal rate of interest from the equivalent of an annual percentage rate of 47% to 35% and imposing a cap on payday loans.
Budget 2023 announced that the federal government will increase the number of Canadians eligible for File my Return to two million people by 2025, almost triple the current number. Budget 2023 also announced that, starting next year, the CRA will pilot a new automatic filing system. This will help vulnerable Canadians who do not currently file their taxes to receive the benefits to which they are rightly entitled.
The government knows that the higher cost of living means that students still need support to afford an education and pursue their dreams. Budget 2023 also proposed enhanced support for students for the 2023 school year. This included increasing Canada student grants by 40%, providing up to $4,200 for full-time students, raising the interest-free Canada student loan limit from $210 to $300 per week of study, and waiving the requirement for mature students aged 22 years or older to undergo credit screening in order to qualify for federal student grants and loans for the first time.
The members opposite like to make up big-cost numbers for the year 2030 and pull them forward as though they are happening right now, all the while ignoring the real damage that climate change is inflicting in our communities, whether it is through fires, floods, coastal erosion or storm damage. Meanwhile, we are helping people in the here and now in budget 2023, with measures that build on significant investments our government has made since 2015 to support Canadians and make life more affordable. These measures include reducing fees for regulated child care by 50% on average, to deliver regulated child care that costs an average of just $10 a day by 2026; increasing old age security benefits for seniors aged 75 and older by 10%; supporting about 3.5 million families annually through the tax-free Canada child benefit; enhancing the Canada workers benefit for our lowest-paid and often most essential workers to support up to 4.2 million Canadians annually; and permanently eliminating interest on Canada student loans.
In conclusion, making life more affordable for Canadians has been a priority for our government since 2015, and it remains a priority. As I have outlined, budget 2023 builds on key investments from our government throughout the years, as we continue to make targeted and responsible investments to build a stronger economic future for all Canadians. As with previous inflation relief, this new support has been carefully designed to have the biggest impact on those that need it most and, at the same time, to avoid exacerbating inflation.
Madam Speaker, since we are talking about fuel, gasoline and the like, today, I would like to ask you a question. It is a rhetorical question; I am not expecting an answer. Do you have a car? I am sure you do. I am sure you drive on two-lane highways and three-lane highways. If you are like me, you see, every now and then, a car that moves from one lane to the next and then back again, sometimes without even signalling. That is frustrating and it is dangerous. I will come back to that car later.
The official opposition has a gift for holding two contradictory positions at the same time. It is a clever balancing act, and, in some ways, I am impressed. I find it disturbing in a way, but it is clever in its own way. The official opposition can argue both sides at once. It is as though it wants to have its cake and eat it too. I will give an example. We hear, every day, that inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods. In other words, it is caused by a record expansion of the money supply during the pandemic. The next day, the official opposition says inflation is cost-driven, principally by the price on carbon, not by any other factor impacting costs, like supply chain bottlenecks and so forth. I will give a second example. The official opposition gets up and says that the horrible drug problem we have in this country is because of the low price of street drugs, which has created high demand. However, when we talk about the high price of gasoline, somehow that does not curtail demand. In other words, it seems like, according to the opposition, only those with addictions respond to the price mechanism. There are contradictions everywhere.
I will give a third example. The official opposition has been for the price on carbon, and then it has been against the price on carbon. I would suggest that every Conservative MP in the House owes their constituents an explanation as to why they ran on a platform to impose a price on carbon yet abandoned that platform commitment very shortly afterward. They call the price on carbon a tax, but we are in an alternate reality here. The price on carbon is simply a transfer. They then call the clean fuel standard a second tax, but when it comes to the clean fuel standard, the government is not imposing any kind of charge. The clean fuel standard is not a tax; it is a regulation. This brings me to the fourth example of Conservative contradiction. For years, the Conservatives have been saying no to a price on carbon. That was before the 2021 election platform. Before that, they traditionally favoured regulation, as if regulations do not have a cost. They would say that they are not for a price on carbon, and that they prefer regulation, because, they say, there is no cost to regulation. It is very simple. It is like a magic wand. They will combat climate change through the magic wand of regulation, which, according to the Conservatives, costs nothing.
The clean fuel standard is a regulation. No money goes to the government. It will result in the transfer of credits between companies, but only if a company does not meet its intensity target. It is not even clear how many credits a company or an enterprise would have to purchase, and since we do not know how many credits a company would have to purchase in 2030, we do not know what the cost impact of the purchase of those credits will be.
The clean fuel standard is something Conservatives should approve of and support, because it will drive innovation. We know that Conservatives like that, because, as the solution to climate change, they always invoke the magic word “technology”, which again they imply is something free. Technological advancement and innovation are often the result of government regulation and involve costs for research and development in order to arrive at new, more efficient technologies.
The next thing they will be telling us, and this will be another contradiction in their discourse, is that the methane regulations the government brought into force, which are meant to stop fugitive and controlled methane emissions, are a tax, which they are not. We are in Alice in Wonderland; it is all sleight of hand.
Then there is the Conservatives' fake math. They are pulling numbers out of thin air and omitting to tie them to specific dates. Do members remember “Triple, Triple, Triple” on the Conservatives' hit parade? That ditty seems to have fallen from the number one spot recently. It made it seem like the price was going up in multiples overnight, but the price on carbon goes up only $15 per tonne annually, or 30% from 2022 to 2023, not 300%. I think the Conservatives got the decimal point wrong. It will go up in a declining percentage every year: 23% from 2023 to 2024, then 19% from 2024 to 2025. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which is no friend of the Liberal government, estimates that, after the 2023 increase on the price on carbon, the total impact of carbon pricing will amount to an extra 14¢ per litre, not “triple, triple, triple".
There is another thing the opposition omits, and that is the rebate, which is what makes the price on carbon a transfer. Milton Friedman, who agreed with the price on carbon, did in fact include a rebate in his formula. We know that the is a disciple of Milton Friedman. I think Milton Friedman would be very upset, if he were alive today, to know that the leader of the official opposition here in Canada is against a market mechanism like the price on carbon.
Once the clean fuel standard regulations take full effect, according to figures the PBO obtained from Environment and Climate Change Canada, they will increase the price of gas and diesel by as much as 17¢ per litre, but that is in 2030. Conservatives never mention the date when they get up and say, “triple, triple, triple". They forget there is a calendar date that is far off into the future.
There is another point I would like to make about the PBO study, which would be apparent to anyone who has studied economics. I do not know how many people on that side have studied economics, but I am sure many other people in the House have. The PBO's analysis is based on what is called “static” economics. It does an analysis based on the idea that everything else stays the same, so it does not take into account innovation, or the fact that companies innovate to meet the intensity target and will not have to buy credits, and so on. It is not real-time economics, and I would say the official opposition needs to get with real time.
I will come back to the big, blue car on the highway. Conservatives are for a price on carbon, then are against it. Conservatives are for regulations that drive innovation, then are against them. That big, blue gas guzzler that zigzags incessantly across the highway needs to pick a lane.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the champion of the environment, the hon. member for .
I am going to do something I rarely do. I am going to make an aside, because today is my son’s birthday; my loyal equerry is 22 years old. My son is studying political science, and I thought that the best gift I could give him was to use one of his university papers. No one will be surprised to hear that the paper was on populism. Everyone will see me coming right away: I feel like the motion before us here today is more populist rhetoric than actual political debate.
I would like to use the reading grid my son presented in his paper. He gives the simplest definition of populism as being the act of developing a simplistic solution to a complex problem. In my opinion, saying that the carbon tax is responsible for today’s inflation is a simplistic solution to a complex problem.
Once again based on the vast knowledge of my son, Émile Simard, populism can also be defined as the political tendency to create division, to simplify and to exacerbate differences of opinion. Later on I will talk about some of the discourse used by the leader of the official opposition. Members will once again see this tendency to create division, to simplify and to exacerbate differences of opinion.
Populism can also be defined as the discourse and behaviours of persons who use rhetoric that combines reality with demagoguery, and that turn the people against ideological adversaries or existing institutions. Lastly, it can be said that all forms of populism berate institutions that do not sufficiently take popular aspirations into account. Populism caricatures political adversaries as elites who are not interested in taking the people’s ideas and popular wisdom into account.
Let us start there and analyze the proposal contained in the Conservatives’ motion today. Populism revolves around populist themes. One of these themes we often see relates to purchasing power. This is telling people that, thanks to the political action of one party, they will have more money in their pockets. The notion of purchasing power is the focus of our Conservative colleagues’ motion. Another populist theme is mistrust of science. Climate change was made up by scientists. Another theme is the irrational need to defend the fossil fuel industry, which, as we know, contributes significantly to climate change.
The Conservatives have tabled a motion here today that is textbook populism. It uses the inflationary context to advance their goal of antagonizing the members of the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois, who recognize that measures must be put in place to fight climate change. They are also trying to advance the agenda of the oil companies.
Let us be honest for a moment and say, right from the start, that those who are not populist and remain rational understand that there is no second carbon tax. What the Conservatives are talking about are the clean fuel regulations, which aim to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels. As a result, we can say that the Conservative discourse linking this policy to the current purchasing power crisis is populist; it is doomsday rhetoric aimed at demonizing the energy transition.
Let us say right from the start that the carbon tax that the Conservatives are talking about does not affect Quebec, but only Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. It must also be said that, for many years, the Conservatives have demonized the carbon tax. That was already the case under Mr. Harper. The goal is to score political points in the short term, which is another basic characteristic of populism.
It must also be said that, at the last Conservative convention, 54% of Conservative Party members rejected the existence of climate change. So more than half of Conservative Party members do not believe that climate change is real.
To counterbalance that, I recall that the hon. member for , the former Conservative leader, had said that he wanted to put a price on carbon. I do not know what led to the carbon tax becoming a key issue for the Conservative Party. At the last election, we had a leader who said that we should still have a tax on pollution.
In my view, the Conservatives are using the Parliamentary Budget Officer because it suits them today, but we rarely hear them when the Parliamentary Budget Officer tells us about a phenomenon as important as the fiscal imbalance. I rarely hear the Conservatives say that they will use an opposition day to study this scourge of the Canadian federation that is the fiscal imbalance. Of course, if we synthesize all that, we are faced with simplistic solutions to the complex problem of inflation.
There is a problem that none of my Conservative colleagues have mentioned. I do not want to address the real problem, because then I would be guilty of populism myself. The problem no one has mentioned is the problem of Canada, which continues to increase the production of dirty oil and tar sands, an unconventional and polluting type of oil. This is the problem we need to tackle today in this federation if we want to fight climate change, which will have a considerable impact on the economy.
What my Conservative friends also often forget is that, historically, what has contributed the most to price fluctuations are fluctuations in the price of oil. We have seen that on numerous occasions. The gluttonous oil companies, which are forever increasing their margins, are earning record profits. We saw that during and after the pandemic. We need to ask these gluttonous oil companies, which are earning record profits, to make an extra effort, and not blame the carbon tax. This distorts reality.
There are ways to fight inflation. I will mention one in particular: increasing retirees' fixed incomes. We have been calling on the government to increase the OAS and GIS for quite some time now. I would have liked to hear my Conservative colleagues talk about that.
This brings me to the favourite topic of the Conservative leader, the member for and leader of the official opposition. I have heard the opposition leader denounce “wokeness” on numerous occasions. On a trip to Quebec, he said that the Bloc Québécois and the Liberal Party are woke parties. Here is a quote that made me laugh. While in Montreal, the Conservative leader said:
The Liberals and their woke buddies from the Plateau Mont-Royal are waging a war on cars. So, having listened to the common sense of the people from the Quebec City region, allow me to send an equally clear message: A Poilievre government will not fund a third link without lanes reserved for cars.
“Good common sense” is a populist term. When someone uses those words, they are usually a populist. Let us not forget the ultimate populist theme: driving. The woke are against driving. What is really funny is that the leader of Conservative Party was rebuked by Quebec's premier, who said that it was not the Liberal federal government that put an end to the third link, it was Quebec. The leader of the Conservative Party was rebuked.
I will conclude by saying that I am going to use a little populist discourse myself. Those we consider woke in Quebec are generally those who are against Bill 21, the secularism law, and Bill 96, the French language law. I know that the leader of the Conservative Party is against both these laws.
Is the Conservative Party a woke party because it is against Bills 21 and 96? That is what I want to know. Perhaps my son can give me an answer on his next birthday.
Madam Speaker, like my colleague, I will say that the Bloc Québécois will vote against this motion.
First, we are not in favour of cancelling the clean fuel regulations. In addition, we do not approve of the Conservative grandstanding on the important issue of inflation and the rising cost of living. We have solutions that would be suitable for Quebec and Canada and that would not prevent them from addressing climate change.
It bears repeating that there is no second carbon tax. My colleague and I have said it twice. It is the clean fuel regulations, or CFR, which are intended to reduce the carbon intensity of liquid fossil fuels and which must come into force on July 1, 2023. Four measures were proposed by Canada to achieve a target of 40% reduction in greenhouse gases from 2005 levels. The CFR and carbon pricing, the elimination of coal and the regulation of methane are all important. The CFR is a measure that focuses on the transportation sector, which is very good since it is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Canada. Unfortunately, emissions are rising.
The Conservative outrage stems first and foremost from their total aversion to policies aimed at putting our society on a path of energy progress. They are against that. Indeed, the CFR could have a regressive effect because lower-income households allocate a greater proportion to transportation expenses than high-income households. However, what is not being said in the discussion is that the analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Officer focuses on the projected cost in 2030 in a scenario in which the CFR is not implemented.
What is needed by 2030, and it is needed even sooner, is a change in our behaviour. That is the idea, that is the objective. By consuming less, the environmental impacts will be proportional. We will pay less because we will be consuming less and we will change our habits. There is no other choice. Things cannot continue as they are now. With their motion, in a truly apocalyptic tone, the Conservatives are weaponizing data from the Parliamentary Budget Officer by applying their mantra of everything to oil and gas.
As I said earlier, this measure aims to send a signal to the market to promote innovation, and I would even add without delay. We are going through major upheavals at the moment. It is all interrelated, interdependent. The global economy is changing. Historically, the greatest factor in price instability has been the price of oil. The best way to protect against that instability is to move to post-oil as soon as possible.
Indeed, as Canadian oil sands production increases, the role of unconventional oil in the Canadian economy increases. However, it is unconventional products that result in economic costs because they are more polluting than conventional oil. The more the share of bitumen increases, the greater the costs of the CFR. Thus, conversely, costs can be saved if the share of bitumen declines.
Provinces with economies that are less dependent on fossil fuels are less affected, as is the case in Quebec. The result of this Quebec policy foresees a reduction of 1.78 megatonnes in our greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. That is the equivalent of 512,000 light vehicles. That is something; it is a step forward.
On the other hand, the discourse from the Conservatives represents a step back. It links these regulatory efforts to the current purchasing power crisis. That is doomsday rhetoric, and I would even say rather misguided. Why?
Conservative thinking does not take into account the economic benefits of the energy transition, as it is that unavoidable step that allows us to consider a future for our society and future generations. The Conservatives ignore the fact that the costs incurred by environmental policies, such as the CFR, are inextricably linked to our energy choices and policies.
To achieve a transformation, to change, tools are needed, incentives are needed, efforts are needed. Human beings are made that way. That is how we are made. As an example, what did we do to curb smoking?
Once all the facts were on the table, the research was there, the devastating findings on cancer were there, multiple deterrents were implemented and they worked. It took time. It did not happen in 5 years; it may have taken 10 years. It took time, but there are fewer cancers.
I will cite an example from Europe. The bonus-malus solution for large engines in Europe gives hope for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. A cost-benefit study of the bonus-malus provision in France shows that the market share of new low-consumption vehicles increased from 30% in 2007 to 45% in 2008 and 56% in 2009. Let us imagine the result 12 years later. It works but, yes, arm-twisting is sometimes needed to move forward.
Levers are needed to speed up the development of new technologies and, at the same time, stimulate demand for clean fuels.
I want to briefly mention New Economy Canada, which was on Parliament Hill this week. The representatives of this organizations came to present to us Quebec and Canadian innovations that will structure the new economy of the future, and they are impressive. We ware talking about companies that fully align with the goal of net-zero emissions and that care about the just transition and ties with indigenous communities. Everything is there in every sector a person can think of.
The climate policy is costing so much because Canada continues to increase the production of oil from the tar sands, so-called dirty oil because it is unconventional and causes more pollution. Pollution has a cost, as does inaction. Inflation affects purchasing power and money. Let us talk about money.
As we speak, there are forest fires raging across the country. The resulting distress and destruction are overwhelming. Climate change does in fact have an impact on people's health and safety, even though the Conservatives sometimes act as though it is no big deal. Have the Conservatives forgotten the sad fate of the 700 people who lost their lives in Lytton in the summer of 2021 or the devastation in the Fort McMurray area?
In 2018, the World Health Organization identified climate change as the greatest threat to health in the 21st century. The disasters I just mentioned bring with them trauma, the displacement of families, material losses, and the list goes on. The impacts of the climate crisis, which is largely attributable to our dependence on fossil fuels, are such that the reinsurer Swiss Re estimated the cost of natural disasters in 2021 at $320 billion, up 24% over 2020.
What does all this mean for our health?
The medical costs associated with air pollution are high. According to a 2017 estimate by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, these costs totalled between $26 billion and $48 billion in 2015.
An in-depth analysis done by Health Canada in 2019 found that air pollution causes 14,600 premature deaths every year, at a cost of $114 billion, or 7% of Canada's GDP. That is significant.
I am a little confused by the Conservative demagoguery. Their party seems to embody one single objective: to maintain, and even grow, a lethal industry that is shamefully making the rich even richer, to the detriment of any collective progress offered by a genuine energy transition.
This budget leans heavily on green this and green that, on the magical—and, as I see it, smoke-blowing—technology known as carbon capture and storage, a Trojan horse if ever there was one. It is anything but efficient.
Independent expert analyses confirm without a doubt that capture and storage is inefficient, costly and impossible to implement in time, not to mention a tool invented by oil companies themselves to make money.
Conservative Party members are not knights in shining armour come to the aid of workers and citizens. They are shills for the ruling Canadian oil and gas elite, which is laser-focused on producing more, exporting more and sucking up more public money to stay afloat, all while greenwashing to the max.
When people are in denial, they lose sight of the truth. This stubborn rejection of change has to stop. The longer we wait, the higher the financial, human, environmental, economic and social costs.
Sometimes changing one's mindset requires therapy. Summer is coming, and we will not be here for three months. I think this is a good time to start therapy.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to announce that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from who, I am sure, will teach us a lot about this very important issue.
The planet is burning. It is not a metaphor. Global warming and climate change are real. This is affecting people. It is killing people. It is making people sick and forcing people to leave their villages and towns. The planet is burning and not thousands of kilometres away, but here at home in our own backyard.
Forest fires are currently burning in British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Quebec. What bright idea did the Conservatives come up with? They are saying that we should not put a price on pollution. They are completely disconnected from reality, from what is actually happening here at home and around the world.
The ice shelves in Antarctica are collapsing. This is causing ocean levels to rise. If the permafrost ends up melting, it will release an unbelievable amount of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 70 times stronger than CO2. All these phenomena are piling up. The oceans are acidifying and that will also have an impact on climate change.
How is it that the Conservatives are coming back for the eighth time in three years, telling us that we should not put a price on pollution, that it would be good to continue the status quo because everything is going so well and this is good for the economy?
However, if there is no planet, if there is no environment, there will be no economy. I do not understand why the Conservatives keep hammering away on this issue, supporting an industry that is harmful not only to biodiversity and nature, but also to human beings, public health and our economy. Even insurance companies are sounding the alarm. Insurance companies are not the biggest tree huggers in the world, but they are beginning to realize that there are areas and places that are no longer insurable. They no longer want to insure people's homes because it is too risky. It is too risky, whether for floods, forest fires or landslides. It has come to that point.
The Conservatives keep repeating the same old line that nothing needs to be done or we should wait until others do something. If China does nothing, we do nothing. If the United States does nothing, we do nothing.
As human beings and citizens of the world, we have a responsibility to take action to ensure that our environment remains healthy, viable and livable for our children and our grandchildren. As Quebeckers and Canadians, we have a special responsibility because we are big polluters. It is true, we have a small population but we are major greenhouse gas emitters.
In 2021, Canada ranked as the 10th GHG-emitting country in the world. By population, it is ranked 39th in the world. Thus, we should be ranked 39th for greenhouse gas emissions, but no, we are ranked 10th. We are in the top 10 emitters because, on average, our per capita greenhouse gas emissions total 17.5 tonnes per year.
According to the Paris agreement, to perhaps hold the temperature increase to 1.5° or 2°, per capita greenhouse gas emissions must be limited to two tonnes per year, on average. We are at 17.5 tonnes. This shows the gap between how we live and what result we should attain. It is a huge gap.
I would like to take this opportunity to urge caution when discussing the concept of averages in connection with climate change. When we tell people about the need to be careful because a global temperature increase of more than two degrees could be catastrophic, they usually react by thinking that two degrees is not that much, and they wonder what difference it could make. They tell themselves, after all, they often wake up in the morning to a temperature of 15°C, only for it to rise by the afternoon to 25°C. That is a difference of 10°C in a single day. In Quebec, temperatures can drop to 35 below in winter and rise to 35 above in summer, a difference of 70 degrees. All this leaves people wondering what a 1.5°C or 2°C rise in temperature really means.
They say it is going to alter the planet's ecosystems and, to understand that, we need to go back a bit. When I say “a bit”, I mean a very long time ago. If we go back 20,000 years, it was, on average, 4°C colder than it is today. As a result, Europe was covered by 3,000 kilometres of ice. The planet was uninhabitable, because it was colder. It is easy to see that if, when it was 4° colder, there were 3,000 kilometres of ice, then when it is 4° warmer, a whole slew of areas on the planet would simply become uninhabitable. Human beings, the human body, cannot survive in those conditions. French engineer Jean-Marc Jancovici is quite clear about that.
There are beautiful maps that unfortunately show that an additional 2°C would make certain parts of the world uninhabitable, places such as Central America, northern South America, parts of the Maghreb, South-East Asia, parts of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, where, if it were over 35° with 100% humidity it would be impossible for human beings to survive. Perspiration would no longer be enough to cool a person's body, so they would die. What happens when people are at risk of dying if they stay in their region, town or village? They move to places where it is not as hot, where it is cooler.
Global warming will lead to phenomenal levels of population migration across the globe, which could give rise to geopolitical conflict, extreme tension and probably even war. That is why former U.S. vice-president Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize several years ago for his work on the environment and the prevention of climate change. Why would someone win the Nobel Peace Prize when we are talking about the environment? I just explained why, and it might be worth reflecting on.
I submitted a written question to the government recently, specifically to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and the department responsible for housing, to find out how the federal government plans to handle the arrival of climate refugees. The answer was that Canada has the national housing strategy, that everything is going to be fine and no one needs to worry about it.
We have a Liberal government that is a climate change laggard on the international stage. It is incapable of planning for what is coming. Greenhouse gas emissions in Canada increased by 2% in 2021. Between 1990 and 2021, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada increased by 14% when the goal was to reduce them by 40%. We are way off target. What is more, there has been a dizzying increase in oil and gas production since 2005. The production of oil in the oil sands, which is the most polluting oil in the world, has increased by 215% since 2005 while, internationally, Canada boasts. It attends COP and says that it is a model, that we need to transition, that it is important and we need to pay attention. In the meantime, there is a 215% increase in production in the oil sands. That means that, since 2005, 200,000 wells have been drilled to find oil and gas.
The Liberals tell us that things will work out, that we will be able to reach our objectives, yet their actions say the opposite. The is a former founder of Equiterre, an organization that is currently suing him for shirking his responsibilities. Although he claims he wants to be there to change the world and save the planet, he picked up his pen or pencil and signed a ministerial order green lighting the Baie du Nord project, a decision solely within his purview that will ultimately generate hundreds of millions of barrels of oil.
On the one side we have the Conservatives, dinosaurs who refuse to take the matter seriously, and on the other side we have the Liberals, saying one thing and doing the opposite.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this motion.
I am struck by the fact that we are here, yet again, debating a Conservative motion to cancel a climate policy. It is like Groundhog Day, except in this case, every time the Conservative groundhogs poke their heads out of the ground, the weather is hotter, the wildfires are more severe and the floods are more frequent. This is taking place, of course, against the backdrop that my friend from described very eloquently. In Nova Scotia, wildfires are raging. In Alberta, there are still 61 wildfires. I checked the portal last night to see how many there are. To date this year, they have had 555 wildfires in that province, and it is only June.
This debate is taking place against the backdrop of oil and gas corporations raking in eyewatering profits, historic profits, profits so great that the CEO of Shell, one of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world, said that we should tax them. Of course, these profits drive inflation and make life more expensive for average Canadians.
This is the backdrop against which we are having today's debate, yet on Monday I listened to a Conservative colleague from Red Deer, a very decent guy, talk about how climate change is not real, how CO2 is not a problem, how the people who warned us about things like acid rain in the seventies and eighties were snake oil salesmen, and how, without climate change, we would not have rivers. This is the kind of discussion we hear coming from the party that has put forward the motion before us today.
This particular Groundhog Day, the Conservatives' target is something called the clean fuel regulation, a regulation that the government has proposed to reduce the carbon intensity of liquid fuels, including gasoline and diesel. The fuel regulations account for 26 million tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions in the government's emission reduction plan, which, putting aside the merits of the actual policy, indicates that it is being called on to do some heavy lifting in reaching the targets. We know how much difficulty previous Liberal governments have had in meeting their targets.
I think that Canadians should look at this motion before us with some skepticism. I will lay out a couple of reasons why.
The first one is the language that the motion uses. I think we have a responsibility as parliamentarians to communicate clearly and accurately to the people who we represent when we talk about policy, particularly policy that is so important and that can be complex. The Conservatives are calling a regulation a tax, knowing full well that regulations and taxes are different things. We know this. If we call everything the same thing, it does not work. That is the purpose of language, to differentiate between different kinds of things.
I cannot imagine why they would be doing this. The only two reasons I can come up with is, first, they don't know the difference between a regulation and a tax. That cannot be the case because I know that many of my hon. colleagues are intelligent and educated people, so that cannot be why. What could the other reason be? Of course in this place it is against the Standing Orders to intentionally mislead the House, so that cannot be the reason. I cannot think of why they would want to conflate two very different kinds of policies: taxes and regulations.
Perhaps, Madam Speaker, you know what that third reason might be.
The second reason I think that Canadians should be very concerned about the motion in front of us is because the party proposing it, the party calling for this policy of the Liberal government to be cancelled, to be axed, has not provided an alternative. This is a pattern that we see. We just heard it from our colleague down the way. They say, “Oh, no, this plan doesn't work. We need a real, effective plan.” They never bring forward that real, effective plan so we can evaluate it against the plan that the government has put forward.
Granted, the government's plan has many shortcomings. It should be evaluated and it should be costed out, but the official opposition never puts forward a plan that can be costed out or evaluated. In fact, the one time that it brought forward a climate plan that could be evaluated, it contained a lot of the same policies the Liberal government has put forward. I would love to read some of those. I am going to get to that a little later in my speech.
Of course, this motion rests heavily on and draws heavily from a recent report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, and the many challenges with that report have been well documented in the media and by climate policy experts. I wish that the PBO had provided an explanation as to why he chose the highest possible cost estimate, the uppermost bound, as the basis for his estimations of cost. The $531 per household is not the expected cost. It is the maximum cost. Of course, there are many things that could prevent that maximum cost from being reached. For instance, the update of electric vehicles could be faster than expected or the biofuel industry could advance technology and innovate at a greater pace. All of these things are not only possible, but likely.
Most important is that the PBO's report was silent on the cost of inaction. There is something called “the social cost of carbon”, which in 2020 was estimated by our public service as being $54 a tonne. We cannot compare the costs of the proposal in front of us to cancel a climate policy against the option of no action at all. That is not a fair comparison. We are talking about an existential threat, a threat that everyone in the House has acknowledged in this debate and previous debates. Therefore, we can only compare the clean fuel regulations the government has proposed against alternative policies, yet the Parliamentary Budget Officer, in a footnote, states very clearly that it is outside the scope of his work to compare the clean fuels regulations to other alternative policies that may achieve a similar end.
Finally, the PBO has not explained in adequate detail what other scenarios may take place. We know there is great uncertainty about the path forward when it comes to climate action and how this policy interacts with other policies. There is a great amount of uncertainty, and overly simplistic conclusions, such as the one we have received, do not serve the public interest.
It is surprising, and this has been raised previously in this debate, that the Conservatives do not like market-based mechanisms because, of course, that is the party that worships at the altar of the almighty market, yet the two policies they criticize the most are both market-based mechanisms that leverage the power of markets to find the most efficient and the least-cost way to reduce emissions. This is what economists say is the path forward.
Personally, I am agnostic. What I want to see are effective policies that drive down climate pollution and give our kids a chance at a decent, stable future. However, we do not hear policies like that coming from the Conservative Party. All we hear is criticisms of the policies that have been put forward by so many experts.
I was looking at the 2021 Conservative election platform, and I want to read members a passage because I find it quite interesting. It says in that platform:
We’ll finalize and improve the Clean Fuel Regulations to reduce carbon emissions from every litre of gasoline...we burn, turning them into a true Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
Boy, that sounds very familiar. It goes on to read:
Our improvements will include:
Basing our Low Carbon Fuel Standard on British Columbia’s policy to achieve a 20% reduction in carbon intensity for transport fuels....
The policy from the government reduces the carbon intensity by 15%, yet in the last election, the Conservatives were proposing the same policy, but with a 20% reduction. Therefore, I am not sure how we get this weather vane of Conservative policy. As I proposed before, maybe that weather vane itself could be a source of renewable energy that could drive down emissions. If it were not for all the hot air, that might be an opportunity.
I am perplexed. If not these policies, then which ones? When are the Conservatives going to put forward a plan? Having no plan is not an option at this juncture.
These aspects should concern all Canadians, and we do need to focus on affordability, but we need to have a serious debate in the House about serious matters. I am deeply troubled by the fact that the Conservative Party continues to conflate basic concepts to confuse Canadians on a topic that has so much import for our country and our world.
Madam Speaker, these are sad times for rural Canada, and specifically for rural Atlantic Canada, its people and industries that depend on fuel to move everything.
The Liberal-NDP coalition has decided carbon tax 1, which will add 41¢ per litre to gasoline when fully implemented, is not enough of a beating to lay on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and Maritimers. I stand here today on behalf of the good people of Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame and on behalf of my province and all of Atlantic Canada to support our Conservative motion.
I will be sharing my time with our hon. .
On behalf of all these people in Atlantic Canada who are downtrodden, I stand here to support our Conservative motion to recognize the failure of carbon tax 1 and to immediately cancel carbon tax 2.
Carbon tax 2 is cleverly disguised as the clean fuel standard. The costly coalition will argue that carbon tax 2 is not a tax. What is next? Will income tax be called the “income standard” or will the harmonized sales tax be renamed the “harmonized sales standard”? We do not know where all this is going, but the Liberal-NDP marriage, which is rumoured to be entering some period of marriage counselling not long after the honeymoon, will never run out of creative ways to tax us. That is one thing that is guaranteed.
Carbon tax 1, let us face it, is a complete failure. Not one single solitary emissions reduction target has been met. In fact, our emissions are higher than they were in 2015 when our country started to head for the toilet.
President Biden recently stood right here just a few feet from where I am standing right now. He is a close personal friend of the . He has decided not to place a carbon tax on fuel in the United States, and guess what, U.S. emissions have dropped since 2015.
For us here and for people in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, they are going to pay an extra $1,316 per year by the time carbon tax 1 is fully implemented. Carbon tax 2, by the time it is fully implemented, will be another $850 a year for families. Can I get a drum roll for the grand total? There is no drum roll as they cannot be proud enough to give that a drum roll. The total is $2,166 per year.
P.E.I. does not have anyone on this side to represent it and stand up for it. For the poor people of P.E.I., it is going to cost those folks $2,081 a year.
I referenced net because these Liberals, including Liberal MPs like those from and , claim that we will get more back in rebates than we will pay. These two federal ministers from Newfoundland are thrilled, according to a SaltWire article from this past November 22. Imagine our own federal representatives in this cabinet thrilled about the extra costs being placed on the lives of their people.
Liberals will tell us that Conservatives are presenting fake numbers. Earlier today I heard exactly what my hon. colleague said when he blamed us for using fake numbers. These are not magical, illusionary or fabricated figures. These are figures that were calculated by the PBO, who is a Liberal-appointed official. According to the PBO, carbon tax has an inflationary effect.
Guess who else said that tax was inflationary? It was the Governor of the Bank of Canada. Our federal members, including the member for , who was sick and tired of hearing about the cold winter and what we are doing about it, do not believe the PBO or the Governor of the Bank of Canada. It is unbelievable. They are expecting the people they serve to believe them instead of experts. Atlantic Canadians are not buying what the Liberal government is selling.
The Liberal premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Andrew Furey, close personal friend of the , and three other Atlantic premiers wrote to the Prime Minister last fall begging him not to place the carbon tax on home heating fuel. The silence was deafening.
Last week, the same four premiers reached out to the and asked him to not implement carbon tax 2. Once they realized that the PBO had identified the big hit that it was going to make to the pocketbooks of Atlantic Canadians, the premiers went to work.
Will the and his climate-change wingman listen to the premiers of Atlantic Canada, or will they barrel ahead with no regard for the people who gave them 32 seats in 2015?
This new tax, disguised as a standard, will cost families in Newfoundland and Labrador $850 a year when it is fully implemented. Who besides seniors and families is going to pay? The answer is simple: everyone will pay.
Carbon tax 1 is crippling the mining, forestry, tourism, and oil and gas industries in Newfoundland and Labrador, and that effect will accelerate as we move toward 2030. Carbon tax 2 will be charged on all fuel in these industries and this new tax will even be placed on fuel used by fishermen to land their catch and haul around their gear as they endeavour to feed their families in this challenging environment.
Farmers are going to pay as well. Not only are these failed tax policies impacting the bottom lines of household and manufacturing industries, now our farmers and fishermen are taking on added costs that will affect their bottom lines.
Farmers and fishermen feed families. Taxing their operations with the new standard is an attack on the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen, and it is a threat to our food security in this country. At a time when people are struggling to survive, the tone-deaf, costly coalition strikes again.
Madam Speaker, you might be thinking to yourself, “Where is the member's seal skin bow tie?” I did not wear it today. My clothes today represent the people I represent.
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the chance to follow the great member from Newfoundland and Labrador, a man who has a stronger and more honest and powerful voice for Newfoundland and Labrador than all other MPs from that province combined. He understands that his job is to be the voice of Newfoundland in Ottawa, not the voice of Ottawa in Newfoundland. Indeed, that is all of our roles.
Here we are today in a country where nine in 10 young people believe they will never be able to afford a home, something that would have been unimaginable eight years ago. There are 1.5 million Canadians eating at food banks, and one in five are skipping breakfast, lunch or dinner because they cannot afford the cost of food. What do the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc think is the remedy for all of that? It is a 61¢-a-litre carbon tax.
Let us go back, though, and examine the history of this tax. First, the said that it would give people more money than they pay, a tax that makes them better off. He said he would send out cheques to give people back the money they paid. It turns out that the Parliamentary Budget Officer he named proved that people will end up paying approximately $1,500 more in taxes than they get back in rebates. Then the Prime Minister said the tax would never go above $50 a tonne, but what he realized was that his tax was so ineffective at tackling emissions that he would have to raise it more than triple that $50. Of course, that news came out after the election rather than before.
Another falsehood is that he said this tax would help us meet our emissions reduction targets. He has missed every single target he has set. He did not even meet them in the year 2020, when Canadians were locked down and banned from using their automobiles. Even then, his tax was so ineffective that it did not reach the targets he set. Those are three falsehoods on which he built the tax in the first place.
When the first tax failed, what was his solution? It was to bring in another one. If it failed once, do the same thing all over again. The definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again expecting to get a different result.
The Liberals now have a second carbon tax. The first one will take the price of a litre up 41¢ and the second will bring it up another 17¢, to a total of 58¢ a litre. However, they are not done yet. They want to charge HST on the tax and the tax, to get it up to a full 61¢ a litre in taxes. We can imagine, then, that a cost of a litre of gas will be two dollars, three dollars or maybe four dollars if the has his way.
We should keep in mind that higher gas prices are not a bug; they are a feature of Liberal Party policy. The goal is to raise gas prices. That is not a secondary consequence. It is the policy, and it is a policy supported by the NDP and the Bloc Québécois. The NDP, which pioneered the carbon tax, brought it to B.C. and has raised it in that province higher than anywhere else, is voting with its Liberal bosses in Ottawa to more than triple the carbon tax on British Columbians.
What are the consequences of a tax on energy? When one taxes energy, one taxes everything, because everything has to be dug, built, moved, cooled and heated using energy. Let us start with food. If we tax the farmer who grows the food and the trucker who ships the food, we ultimately tax the food itself. This is at a time when food price inflation is at a 40-year high.
We just got more evidence. The told us inflation is on the decline. Worry not; it is all over. The nightmare has ended and inflation is going away. What happened in the month of April? Inflation shot up again. Why did it shoot up in April? What happened in the last part of March? There were two things. One was that the introduced $60 billion of new inflationary spending, or, as she called it, gas on the inflationary fire, two days before the start of April. Then the carbon tax hit on April 1, April Fool's Day. The joke is on Canadians. The tax hits, the deficits hit and inflation is back on the rise. It is cause and effect.
However, they are just getting started. The tax right now is only 14¢ a litre. We used to say “triple, triple, triple”, but it is not triple anymore. The Liberals want to quadruple it and more, from 14¢—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Hon. Pierre Poilievre: Madam Speaker, it is quadruple, quadruple, quadruple, quadruple. There is a tongue twister, but it is going to be even more painful to pay than to say.
We have families already living in poverty, and we know that the rich guys will be fine. They have no problem. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, this latest carbon tax will hit the poorest people the worst. Those with the least will pay the most, because energy constitutes a bigger part of their family budget. Rich people spend a smaller amount of their family budget on energy.
We know that it will affect the single mom, the truck driver, the barber and the student who is trying to scrape together an extra $4,000 or $5,000 a year as part of his 25-year plan to save for a down payment. Those are the people who will end up paying this tax, and for what? Canada places 58th out of 63 nations in the climate change implementation index. We are behind the rest of the world. According to this index, China has a better record than the Liberal government. It is worse than the dictatorship the so admires when it comes to climate matters.
We get all the pain and none of the gain. If the Liberals want a real plan for climate change, why not technology and not taxes. Let us speed up and lower the cost of carbon-free energy.
Let us cut through the red tape and allow Quebec to build hydroelectric dams. This would allow Quebeckers to double the amount of electricity available for electrification. Under my leadership, the government will allow Quebec to speed up construction of this green energy network.
We could approve the wave power that Nova Scotia was attempting to permit with a private sector company, using tidal forces to bring electricity to the great shores of Nova Scotia and power its grid with lower emissions. I would have approved that in a millisecond. The bureaucratic gatekeepers blocked it for years, and the company got up and left. I will green-light green projects like that. I will green-light nuclear energy, allowing for small modular nuclear reactors to electrify places like Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. They have already signed memoranda of understanding to move forward with nuclear power, but not if it takes 25 years to get it permitted.
What kind of safety and environmental knowledge would we gain in the last 17 years of that process that we could not gain in the first three years? Why not compress the work? Yes, let us protect safety. Yes, let us protect the environment. However, let us do it quickly, because our environment and our energy grid cannot wait.
Finally, for carbon capture and storage, we would incentivize our mighty energy sector, which is the most advanced, sophisticated and ethical in the world, to reinvest some of its growth in cleaning its operations so we can have the lowest-emitting energy sector anywhere in the world and can put that carbon right back in the geological structures from whence it came.
All of these things are possible if we have a government in Ottawa that gets out of the way, green-lights green projects and incentivizes reinvestment of market revenues back into clean, green technology. The Liberals' philosophy is very different. If it moves, they tax it. If it keeps moving, they regulate it. When it stops moving, they subsidize it. That is a nonsensical approach.
What we have here is common sense. The common sense of the common people, united for our common home: their home, my home, our home. Let us bring it home.
Madam Speaker, I would be remiss on June 1 if I did not say Happy National Indigenous History Month, Deafblind Awareness Month, Filipino Heritage Month, Italian Heritage Month, Portuguese Heritage Month and Pride Month.
To go back to the topic at hand, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to discuss this important subject today. The Canadian economy is doing well in the face of global economic challenges, with more than 900,000 Canadians working today than before the pandemic and an unemployment rate close to a record low. However, we are well aware that many Canadians continue to struggle with the cost of living. Since 2015, the government has been making important investments to grow the economy, strengthen Canada's social safety net and make life more affordable for Canadians. These investments have included the tax-free child benefit to support about 3.5 million families annually, an enhanced Canada workers benefit and a 10% increase in old age security payments to seniors aged 75 and over, among others.
In budget 2023, we outlined how our government will provide new targeted inflation relief to Canadians, including the grocery rebate, to support the many individuals and families who are struggling to put food on the table because of the rising cost of groceries. The new one-time grocery rebate will deliver targeted inflation relief for 11 million low- and modest-income Canadians and families who need it most, with up to $467 for eligible couples with two children, up to an extra $234 for single Canadians without children and an extra $225 for seniors, on average. The grocery rebate will be delivered to eligible Canadians on July 5, 2023, by direct deposit or cheque, through the Canada Revenue Agency. By targeting the grocery rebate to Canadians who need it the most, the government will be able to provide relief without making inflation worse.
We all know that inflation is still too high, and the steep increase in interest rates has caused economic pain for many Canadians, including small businesses, which need to pay more for their lines of credit. We saw the pandemic lead to an increase in people using credit cards when they shop. Canadian small businesses pay fees to process these credit card transactions, with the largest component being the interchange paid to credit card issuers.
However, I am pleased to be able to say that the Government of Canada recently announced that, in budget 2023, it will be delivering a commitment to lower credit card transaction fees for small businesses by finalizing new agreements with Visa and Mastercard, while also protecting reward points offered by Canada's large banks for Canadian consumers. For qualifying small businesses, Visa and Mastercard have agreed to reduce interchange fees for in-store transactions, to an annual weighted average of 0.95%, and to reduce interchange fees for online transactions by 10 basis points, resulting in reductions of up to 7%. As a previous small business entrepreneur myself, I am happy to say that these new agreements will help most small businesses in Canada.
More than 90% of credit card-accepting businesses in Canada will qualify for the new lower rates and see their interchange fees reduced by up to 27% from the existing weighted average rate. These reductions are expected to save Canadian small businesses about $1 billion over five years. Small businesses will also have free access to online fraud and cybersecurity resources to help them grow their online sales while preventing fraud and charge-backs. In concrete terms, a small store with $300,000 in annual credit card sales should see interchange savings of $1,080 per year. The new rates will come into effect in the fall of 2024 to allow time for systems to be updated.
Another important measure in the budget includes working with regulatory agencies in provinces and territories to reduce junk fees for Canadians, including higher telecom roaming charges, event and concert fees, excessive baggage fees and unjustified shipping and freight fees. These costs can add up very quickly. It is important to ensure that businesses are transparent and fair with prices for Canadians.
The budget also takes action to crack down on predatory lending. Predatory lenders can take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, including low-income Canadians, newcomers and seniors, often by extending loans with very high interest rates. With budget 2023, our government is taking action by proposing to lower the criminal rate of interest by reducing the annual percentage rate from 47% to 35% and imposing a cap on payday loans.
Another way the government is taking steps to support low-income Canadians is through automatic tax filing. Having hosted a free tax clinic in my office during tax season, I know first-hand that this will go a long way for all our constituents.
We want to ensure that Canadians can easily file their tax returns in order to receive the benefits to which they are entitled. Since 2018, the Canada Revenue Agency has delivered a free and simple File my Return service, which allows eligible Canadians to auto-file their tax returns over the phone after answering a series of short questions. Budget 2023 announced that the federal government would increase the number of Canadians eligible for File my Return—
Madam Speaker, as I said, budget 2023 announced that the federal government would increase the number of Canadians eligible for File my Return to two million people by 2025, which is almost triple the current number.
My son Kyle is about to graduate from elementary school, and I am thinking forward to when he enters university and what he is going to be paying for his education. We know that the higher cost of living means that students still need support to afford an education and pursue their dreams. Budget 2023 proposed enhanced support for students for the 2023 school year. This includes increasing Canada student grants by 40%, providing up to $4,200 for full-time students; raising the interest-free Canada student loan limit from $210 to $300 per week of study; and waiving the requirement for mature students, aged 22 years or older, to undergo credit screening in order to qualify for federal student grants and loans for the first time. This would allow post-secondary students to access up to $14,400 in enhanced Canada student financial assistance for the upcoming school year. Students with disabilities and dependents would also receive an increase in Canada student grants.
Post-secondary education is expensive, and the government is committed to ensuring that education remains accessible and more affordable for Canadians, so that future generations can seek higher education. That is why we will be working with students in the year ahead to develop a long-term approach to student financial assistance in time for budget 2024.
Unfortunately, for too many Canadians, including young people and new Canadians, the dream of owning a new home is increasingly out of reach. In budget 2022, the government committed to introducing a tax-free personal savings account, a new registered plan to give prospective first-time homebuyers the ability to save $40,000 on a tax-free basis. In budget 2023, the government delivered on this commitment by allowing financial institutions to start offering this plan to Canadians on April 21, 2023, a few months ago.
These are just a few examples of how we are making targeted and responsible investments to build a stronger economic future for all Canadians.
Madam Speaker, one can imagine my surprise when I found out that the Conservatives wanted to talk about a price on pollution again. I say that tongue in cheek because, obviously, I am not surprised.
It is interesting. If someone has followed the debate on the price on pollution, they will find that the first jurisdiction, I believe, in North America, many years ago, that instituted the principles of a price on pollution was actually a Conservative government in the province of Alberta. The Conservative member applauds across the way. He is quite right. It was a Conservative provincial government. I have to qualify this: It was a Progressive Conservative government. There is a big, substantial difference between the Progressive Conservatives and the extreme right movement we now have, which the leader of the Conservative Party heads today.
Let us fast-forward and imagine an international conference being held in Paris. Countries from around the world convene in Paris and come up with the idea of a price on pollution, and say that we should be promoting it. Canada comes back from Paris and says, “Look, some provinces already have some form of a price on pollution, and what we need to be able to do is ensure that all provinces are on the same level playing field, in essence, and are dealing with the environment.” We established a program that allowed for provinces that had plans in place to have those plans respected as long as they met certain targets. We still have provinces today that have their own programs. In other words, the price on pollution that we have today is, in fact, applied to most provinces and territories but not to all provinces. British Columbia and Quebec are examples of that.
If we look at it from that perspective, we now have the Conservative Party of today, that far right movement. What is it saying? As has been pointed out on numerous occasions in the past, the far right party of today is very different, even from the party of 2021. The leader, at that time, had a policy platform, and in that policy platform, he was able to reverse the Conservative position that came out of the Paris accord. Coming out of the Paris accord, the Conservative Party of Canada said that it did not like it. After a great deal of debate, the Conservative Party changed its mind and told Canadians that. It said to Canadians that it had changed its mind and that it now supported a price on pollution. People do not have to take my word for it; they can actually look at the party policy platform of the Conservative Party in 2021 and they will find that the Conservatives supported a price on pollution.
Let us fast-forward. The Conservatives dumped that leader and adopted a new, shiny leader, the member for . The member for Carleton now comes out saying that the Conservatives have changed their opinion. It does not matter that it was an election platform issue that all 338 candidates had incorporated in the last federal election, saying that they supported a price on pollution. That is just pushed to the side because the Conservative Party, that right-wing party today, wants to be able to have a bumper sticker that, in essence, says that it is going to get rid of the carbon tax. There are inconsistencies even in that, if we think about it.
I will use the province of British Columbia as an example. From coast to coast to coast, the new, shiny leader of the Conservative Party is telling people that the Conservatives are going to get rid of the price on pollution. What about the province of British Columbia? The Conservatives say they are going to get rid of the price on pollution in the rest of Canada, but they are not doing it in the province of British Columbia. What is the member for going to be telling his constituents? Will he say that what the is saying does not apply to British Columbia, or is the Conservative Party going to be consistent and say it will subsidize and compensate the residents of British Columbia because the rest of Canada is getting that so-called tax break?
The Conservative Party is intentionally misleading Canadians in many different ways, all because it wants a simple bumper sticker saying that it is prepared to abandon principles the traditional, progressive party actually supported. It supported them, whether decades ago or in the last federal election, because the principles of a price on pollution are, in fact, effective; they work.
The Conservatives can talk all they want about emission controls. It does not take away the principles of what a price on pollution does as an incentive. When the says he will get rid of the so-called carbon tax, he does not tell Canadians that, along with the tax, he will get rid of the rebate portion. I would like to reflect on the residents I represent in Winnipeg North. The Conservative Party will take away, from more than 80% of my constituents, a net gain because of the price on pollution. In essence, he is reaching into their pockets and taking money out of them, while, in the same breath, he is trying to tell them he is giving them a tax break. It is completely inconsistent. This is not the first time, when we really take a look at what the Conservative Party of Canada is proposing. It just does not make sense. It is not good for the environment. It is not good for the economy. It is not good for supporting Canada's middle class. However, I guess it will fit on a bumper sticker, and the leader may be able to fool some Canadians. That is the driving force behind this.
It reminds me of another idea he had when he was running for the leadership, which was cryptocurrency. Do people remember that one? Those who would have followed his advice would have lost thousands of dollars. In some areas, individuals may have lost 60% of their life's earnings if they had invested in cryptocurrency. We had today's advocating for it. He still has not apologized for that piece of wisdom, which turned out to be a total failure.
I think there is a responsibility of the Conservative Party. One of my colleagues said that its has now been the leader for more than 250 days. I do not know the actual number, but we still do not have an environmental policy coming from the Conservative Party of Canada.
On this side of the House, we consistently announce programs that will assist in protecting our environment, whether by the expansion of conservation sites, the expansion of national parks, the banning of single-use plastics, making zero-emission vehicles more affordable or the idea of planting more trees. These are the types of things we are talking about, and the price on pollution is a major part of what a progressive government needs to do in order to protect our environment, support Canadians and build a healthier economy. We are building greener jobs. A good example of that, and there are many examples one can give, is the Volkswagen battery plant. It is going to be the largest factory in Canada. The Conservatives are opposing even that.
Madam Speaker, I am going to be splitting my time with my amazing colleague and good friend, the member for .
It was a scam all along. It was never sold as advertised. This carbon tax scam, in 2015, was sold to Canadians as a scam that the Conservatives called out all along the way.
First Liberals said it was a levy. They said it was a levy for one's Chevy, that they wanted to charge us for driving our Chevys around rural Canada to get from job site to job site and job site to home. They said that it would make Canadians better off. That was the other scam they sold with carbon tax scam 1.0. They said that Canadians would get more into their pockets than what they paid. That was the scam.
Thank God we have a public budgeting officer. Who should we believe? Should we believe the public budgeting officer the Liberals appointed themselves or should we believe a drama teacher, the , who has the most scandals of any prime minister in Canada's history?
Should we believe the public budgeting officer, whose job is to tell the truth and expose any scandal or any mistruths being told in any type of reporting or should we believe an , who is the only one in this House I know of who has been in an orange jumpsuit?
Should we believe the public budgeting officer or should we believe a who said she would not fuel the flames of inflation and who just months ago took a big $63-billion jerry can of inflation of fuel and threw it on the inflationary fire she started herself?
Who should we believe?
The misinformation continues from the Liberal-NDP costly coalition, which continuously says Canadians get more into their pockets and are much better off. The reality is that after eight years, the carbon tax scam 1.0 is still a scam. It will cost on average every single Canadian household, every struggling Canadian household, around $1,500 each. This is at a time when we see inflation out of control because the Liberal-NDP government spent out of control and spent more money than all governments before it combined, making inflation out of control. We see rents out of control and mortgages unaffordable, going up by the day, because it could not stop spending Canadians' money.
Then the Liberals sold this other scam that it would magically fix the environment and that the weather would start getting better, the more they charged Canadians for this scam. They said that they would be fix all the problems we see around the world with climate. The reality is that was a scam all along too, because Canada ranks 58th out of 63 countries in its climate plan. This is behind China, of all countries, the same country the admires because he admires that basic dictatorship. Although Canada produces much less emissions than China, we are still behind it. That just goes to show how big a scam this was from day one.
Let us now talk about the realities of what Canadians are going through today. As I said, we see inflation out of control. Food inflation is out of control. We see mortgages have doubled since the Liberal-NDP government has taken over. We see rents that are out of control. There is not enough housing. One in five Canadians are skipping meals today because they cannot afford to eat and heat their homes. There are 1.5 million Canadians visiting a food bank in a single month in this country. I could not have imagined when my family and I moved to this country that this would be what Canada is today, a country where one can have two or three jobs and still not be able to afford eating and heating one's home.
Not only has the Liberal-NDP government caused the price of food to go up, it added to that price, because of the carbon tax scam, which has made it more expensive for farmers to grow food, to transport it and to store it at the grocery store. At the end of the day, Canadians are having to pay those costs, at a time when one in four Canadians are saying they have to borrow money to meet their basic necessities. This is not the Canada my family and I moved to so many years ago. Like other immigrants who came here, we were looking for hope, hope for a better future and a government that wanted to support them, not continue to kick them down and take more from them while giving less back.
This carbon tax scam is hurting Canadians and Canadian households. It takes more out of their pockets, leaving them with even less. We see parents and single moms having to choose between being able to afford tutors for their children or feed them nutritious food three times a day at minimum. They are making choices they have never had to make before. What did the Liberal government do? It added a second carbon tax scam on top of it, one without any phony rebates. Now, on average, every single Canadian household in this country is going to spend $2,000 on these carbon tax 1.0 and 2.0 scams combined. This is the Liberal-NDP solution to a problem it created for struggling Canadian households.
Canada is in a dire situation. I will quote some statistics from a representative of the Daily Bread Food Bank who came to the finance committee on May 17. Before the pandemic it saw 60,000 clients a month, during the pandemic it saw 120,000, but in March 2023 it spiked to 270,000 visits.
I will quote Neil Hetherington, from the Daily Bread Food Bank, who stated:
The underlying reasons for this are complex, but I can summarize them in one sentence: People do not have enough income to afford the rapidly rising cost of living.
The Liberal-NDP government not only made housing impossible to find in this country, but its out-of-control spending made mortgages and rents go up. Now it wants to take even more from Canadians who are struggling. It is impossible for anyone to be able to survive today. I have spoken with newcomers who have said that they find it impossible to stay in this country when they came here looking for hope.
Hope is on the horizon. We are going to get rid of these carbon tax 1.0 and 2.0 scams. We are going to make sure we build more green, clean projects in this country to bring down the cost of our energy. We are going to make sure we are supporting families, not taking more from them. We will leave more in their pockets. We are going to bring home more powerful paycheques by lowering prices and making sure we get rid of the carbon tax scam.
We need to make sure our immigrants, newcomers and young people can all see the hope of a better future in this country, and we will see that hope when the member for becomes the Prime Minister of this country.
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House and especially today for this opposition day motion, which talks about how the first carbon tax would increase the price of gas by 41¢ a litre and how the second, the clean fuel regulations, would add 20¢ more to that when sales tax is included. This will further exacerbate the cost of living issues that people are facing across the country.
What I want to do today in my speech is talk about what the carbon tax will do, talk about what it will not do and talk about what real solutions should be offered.
First of all, what does it actually do? It increases the price of things. It is not just the price of gasoline that is going up, because it is an escalator. For example, if we look at food, it has increased in price, on average, by 12%, but some items of food are up 30% and 40%.
When we are talking about a farmer who is producing the food, they will have to use more diesel and fuel to heat their barns and take care of growing their products and drying them. There is a carbon tax on that. To make it worse, there is a tax on the tax. The Liberals are applying tax on top of that, and it is a substantial amount of money. We are talking about $150,000 for a farmer. That is a real thing that they obviously have to pass on to the consumer.
Then they are shipping the product to a processing facility, and there is a carbon tax on that and a tax on the tax. Then at the processing facility, depending on the type of processing facility, there is a carbon tax on emissions. Then we are talking about shipping it to the grocery store. Again, that is another carbon tax and a tax on the tax. Then we get to the grocery store, and it has to be put in refrigerators. If the Liberal do not buy them, that is another expense, but then they are spending more energy trying to keep the products preserved.
What is happening is this is hurting individuals. Before the pandemic, the data reported said that half of Canadians were within $200 of not being able to pay their bills. Let us think about that. Then fast-forward to where we are now, where we have added a second carbon tax that is estimated, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, to cost each individual $538 a year. Half of Canadians were within $200 of not being able to pay their bills every month, and now the Liberals have added $600 more. That is on top of the estimated cost of the already existing carbon tax, which the Parliamentary Budget Officer says, depending on the province we live in, is between $1,500 and $3,000 a person.
By the time all these taxes, carbon taxes and the tax on the tax get to an individual, we are talking about $4,000 per Canadian. That is a substantial amount of money. If we break that down by month, we are talking $300 a month, which puts us way over the 50% of people who could not pay their bills if they had an increase of $200.
The Liberals are going to say that Canadians get back more than they give, but we know that is not true. I have seen my climate action rebate cheque come to me, $128.55 four times a year. Adding that up, it is nowhere near $4,000. It is absolutely a misrepresentation of the facts to say the government is giving Canadians more back. No, it is not.
I am getting calls at my office, continually, from individuals who are saying they cannot afford to pay their bills and are losing their house. I have a lot of seniors in my riding, and some of them have had to go back to work at 74 years of age in order to afford heating, gasoline, groceries, the whole thing. That is what the carbon tax is doing. It is adding to inflationary pressures that we already have from the out-of-control spending happening on the other side. That is what the carbon tax does.
Let us talk a little about what it does not do. It does not reduce emissions. It is a tax plan; it is not an emissions plan. If we look to who has met their Paris targets, our neighbours to the south have met their Paris targets, and they did it through emissions reduction technology and switching to fuels like nuclear, LNG and lower-carbon fuels. These are actual, concrete solutions. They put capital incentives in place so that businesses would put emissions reduction technology in place. That is how they did it, and they did it in four years.
If we look at where we are, we were supposed to reduce our targets by 30% from the 2005 level. The 2005 level was 732 megatonnes and we are now at 670 megatonnes. In 20 years, we have reduced 60 megatonnes, but the target we have to get to is a reduction of 538. We are nowhere near the plan.
In the approach the Liberals have, they talk about tree planting. They are going to plant two billion trees. Do members know how many trees we already have in Canada? We have 318 billion trees in Canada and this is two billion more. More trees are always better, but the reality is that recent reports said the Liberals have planted less than 2% of these in years. It is because the program that was introduced does not work.
I know a great group, Climate Action Sarnia-Lambton, that wants to plant trees. I approached the and said that we have lots of volunteers who are willing to come out. They have all the tools. We just need the money to get the trees and get them in the ground. Do members know what I heard? We have to plant 10,000 trees or we cannot get any money. We have to start somewhere with a program that works a little better than that. That is what the carbon tax does not do.
I have heard this a lot in the discussion today during the debate: Well, what about the wildfires and what about the floods? We are seeing severe weather events and we are seeing them at a frequency that we have not seen before. However, Canada is less than 2% of the carbon footprint of the world. We could eliminate the whole thing and we are still going to get all of those wildfires and all of those floods, because we have countries, like China and India, that are building coal plants. China is 34% of the footprint.
What would be better is if we exported Canadian LNG. We could reduce the global footprint by over 10%. We could reduce five times our existing footprint. That is real climate action. Instead, 12 LNG projects have been shut down by the Liberal government.
The Germans approached us. Germany decided to go down the green energy path, and they found out that it was so expensive that they got rid of it and went back onto coal and LNG. They approached us to get a contract with us for $58 billion, which we refused. The Australians used to have a carbon tax. They got rid of it. It made everything more expensive and it did not help them meet their goals.
We have a situation where countries are in need of our fuel. We are the most environmentally responsible producers of LNG in the world, but we cannot get anything built because a Bill project approval thing was put in place. We have seen the disaster that the government is making with the Trans Mountain project. It was supposed to be $7 billion and is up to $30 billion, and it is not even built yet.
The carbon tax hurts Canadians. It inflates their costs. People cannot afford to live. They are struggling. I know that Liberal MPs are hearing this from their constituents and they need to listen.
What we need to do is have emissions reduction technology, get on lower-carbon fuels, export them to the world and work together to get a better planet. That is what we need to do and that is the vision on this side of the House.
Madam Speaker, they are all opposed to pricing pollution because 54% of their base does not even believe in climate change.
I find it interesting that earlier, the member for said, in answer to a question, that Conservatives believe in climate change. I almost fell out of my seat and gasped. The member for started to heckle me from the back. The reason why I almost fell out of my seat is because the member for Calgary Forest Lawn probably was not listening when the following was said by the member for just two days ago in the House. He said—
An hon. member: Time.
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: I have 20 minutes, so buckle up.
Madam Speaker, the member for said:
I mention that because it has been 60 years of catastrophic snake oil salesmen predicting different things that could happen. They have predicted how, in 10 years' time, we are going to have cities flooded, how we are going to have all these issues and how animals are going to go extinct. We hear that all the time.
Every once in a while, I go to Drumheller. I take a look at a sign above the canyon there saying that, 10,000 years ago, we were under a kilometre of ice. If one wanted to talk to the Laurentian elites, Montreal actually had two kilometres of ice over top of it at that time.
This is where it gets really good and I hope the member for Abbotsford is listening. He also said:
In the 1960s, we were talking about global climate cooling, and we had everybody scared then as well. In the 1970s, we spoke about acid rain and concerns existing around that. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was all about global climate warming. In the year 2000, it was Y2K. Since global warming and global cooling did not seem to match what was happening in reality, we now simply talk about climate change. When we think about the environment, we think about the things that have to be done.
He late continued:
Things change; the climate changes. That is how we got our rivers. I know I deal with the effects of climate change right now when I have to go out into my field and pick rocks, because that is how they got there. These are the sorts of things we have to realize. Things do change.
That was his Conservative colleague speaking in the House, the member for , just two days ago.
I apologize to the members for and for almost falling out of my seat when I heard the member for Calgary Forest Lawn say that Conservatives believe in climate change. Now there might be a really interesting caveat there that they are neglecting to mention as to whether they believe that humans have caused climate change. The member for Red Deer—Mountain View clearly told the House that it has been changing. He just says that it is okay because it is just part of the cycles of earth and nature.
The question is whether they believe that humans have caused it. I think that is where there is going to be a problem, with the grassroots, as the member for referenced, as 54% of them said at the last Conservative convention that they do not believe in climate change.
Imagine that in a political party in the 21st century, in the year 2023, when we have fires raging on the east coast and we have fires in Alberta. We are literally witnessing the impacts of climate change on a daily basis in this country, and they are still throwing their hands up in the air saying that none of that is true, we did not cause climate change and this is all normal, folks. Nothing to see here.
Again, I apologize profusely to the member for if I offended him when I almost fell out of my seat after listening to the rich rhetoric coming from the member for Calgary Forest Lawn.
Nonetheless, what I find really interesting, which has been said a couple of times in the House today, if not more than that, is the number of times Conservatives have brought forward a motion on our price on pollution. Do colleagues know how many times they have brought forward this motion since this Parliament was formed a year and a half ago?
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Twice.
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: Twice? No, it is more than twice.
Mr. Warren Steinley: Eight, or 10?
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: Madam Speaker, I understand that even my Conservative colleague across the way cannot even keep track, but guess what. It is more than eight.
Mr. Warren Steinley: I said 10.
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: Madam Speaker, this is the 10th time Conservatives have brought forward a motion about pricing pollution. It is a motion that has been defeated in the House not nine times but 10. Do members know who has voted against it? Every political party except the Conservative Party has voted against it.
I often think to myself, from time to time, because of the growing similarities between the Conservatives and the Bloc members, that we have the Bloc-Conservative coalition here. They say the NDP-Liberal coalition. We can start saying the Bloc-Conservative coalition. However, not even their coalition buddies in the Bloc will agree with them on this issue. Even the Bloc Québécois members, as right wing as they have become in recent months, if not years, believe that climate change is real and that we have to price pollution.
It is a very basic, fundamental concept that, if we want to change market behaviour, we put a price on something. This is economics 101. This is the fundamental rule people are taught about supply and demand and affecting market decisions, in an introductory course to economics. However, somehow, the political party in the House of Commons, the only party that cannot understand that, also happens to be the party that purports itself to be the saviours of the economy. The only party in the House of Commons that somehow understands how an economy works is also the only party that disagrees with countless numbers, hundreds and thousands, of economists who say that this is the way to do it. The Conservatives disagree with the basic fundamental principles of how an economy works, but somehow they like to build up this image that they are the ones who know what is best for the economy.
I should make it very clear that, although I am talking about Conservatives right now in the current context, I am really speaking about these particular Conservatives. These particular Conservatives are even further to the right than the Conservatives with whom I was elected in 2015. Members will remember that it was only a year and a half ago that all of the members of Parliament who are Conservatives ran on a platform that actually said that they wanted to price pollution.
I have here with me, in both official languages, the plan. It is called “The Man with the Plan”. This is the Conservative Party platform from 2021, which is something I am sure all Conservatives are very proud of because they ran on it.
Madam Speaker, I do have it in both official languages, so with your indulgence, I would seek unanimous consent from the House to table, in both official languages, the Conservative platform. Could I have unanimous consent?
Madam Speaker, I apologize to my colleague. If I am too loud for him, perhaps he could leave and watch this later on CPAC to make sure he does not miss a moment of it.
I find it amazing that I just sought the unanimous consent of the House to table, in both official languages, the Conservative Party platform called “The Man with the Plan”, which outlined its plan, and it was Conservatives who yelled no and will not let me table that.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: They are embarrassed about it.
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: Madam Speaker, it does sound like they are embarrassed about it.
How about I read what it says in the platform? In the 2021 platform, it says, “Canada’s Conservatives will work with the provinces to implement an innovative, national, Personal Low Carbon Savings Account. This will put a price on carbon for consumers without one penny going to the government.” That sounds familiar to me. It goes on to say, “It will be completely transparent and engage consumers in the process of building a lower carbon future.”
There were 338 Conservative candidates, 18 months ago, who went door knocking throughout this country and sold this plan to Canadians. Since they were elected, they have brought forward opposition motions against their very own plan 10 times. Talk about it being extremely embarrassing. They are trying to run away from their plan. I am absolutely amazed by it.
Despite the fact that there are over 100 Conservative MPs in the House who were part of that and believed in that, there is also a really special group of Conservative MPs in the House. These members are above and beyond those who ran in the last election.
Those members are, starting with the , the member for Carleton; the member for ; the member for ; the member for ; the member for , who everyone will remember I quoted earlier; the member for ; the member for ; the member for , who was heckling me; the member for ; the member for ; my neighbour, the member for ; the member for ; the member for ; the member for ; the member for ; the member for ; the member for ; and the member for .
What club do these members belong to? They belong to a different club. They belong to a club that not only ran on pricing pollution in 2021, but also ran on it in 2008 under Stephen Harper. Can anyone believe that? I have that platform too, in both official languages. Perhaps, with unanimous consent, they will allow me to table the 2008 Conservative platform in both official languages.
Madam Speaker, wow, I cannot believe that. The Conservatives have now rejected, not once but twice, my attempts to table their very own platforms.
Well, I guess I will just have to read it. Listen to Stephen Harper's commitment that the member for and all the members I referenced, including the member for , ran on in 2008. It said:
A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will implement our Turning the Corner action plan to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by 20 per cent over 2006 levels by 2020. We will work with the provinces and territories and our NAFTA trading partners in the United States and Mexico, at both the national and state levels [here is the good part], to develop and implement a North America-wide cap and trade system for greenhouse gases and air pollution....
For those who do not know what a cap and trade system is, it is basically an alternative to the pricing mechanism that we have now. However, I cannot believe that we now have not only MPs who were hypocrites in 2021, but now we have hypocrites from 2021 and 2008 elections, including the member for , who I understand used to be the minister of the environment.
People will sometimes ask what the cap and trade system is, which I think is a very good question to ask, because there is a slight difference between that and our existing pricing mechanism.
The cap and trade system was actually brought about in North America a number of years ago. It was started by the Western Climate Initiative. In 2007, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington started what was known as the Western Climate Initiative. Later on, Montana and Utah joined. After that, Ontario, Quebec and B.C. got into the cap and trade program.
The cap and trade program is slightly different from pricing pollution, but it effectively does the same thing. It encourages companies within those jurisdictions to trade off their emissions and effectively lowers emissions. This is exactly what Stephen Harper was talking about in his 2008 platform commitment. He wanted to implement that system that had been developed by the Western Climate Initiative. He wanted to bring it in.
Now, guess what happened? Stephen Harper got elected, but do members think he delivered on that commitment?
An hon. member: I bet he flip-flopped.
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: He flip-flopped, that is right. He did not deliver on that commitment. However, instead what we ended up seeing were the provinces going alone. The provinces said, “Well, if Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, cannot take a federal initiative on this, something he ran on and was elected on, we will do it on our own.” That is when Ontario and Quebec went to see Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, signed the deal and essentially became part of the cap and trade.
Flash forward to our newest premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, who got elected.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Mark Gerretsen: Yay for Doug Ford; amazing. If we can believe it, Doug Ford is even more progressive than these guys.
However, I will conclude with this: Doug Ford got out of it. What did we see in the process? What have seen since then? We saw Quebec move so much faster and further ahead in terms of emission reductions via electric vehicle stations and protecting our environment. Now, Ontario is lagging behind.
I look forward to continuing after question period.