, seconded by the member for , moved that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, one does not plan in life to win the lottery, but when one does, one is left with decisions about how to take advantage of the good fortune. I thought long and hard about how I would use my good fortune to come up with a private member’s bill that was an extension of so much of the work I have done across the Prairies.
The building a green economy in the Prairies act was inspired by reflections over decades. The first were in my own province of Manitoba. In the 1980s, the $200-million core area initiative program shaped the interests of the governments of Canada, Manitoba and Winnipeg into a common agenda. The three levels of government, through their senior representatives, met often to work to align their policies in the interest of rehabilitating and renewing downtown Winnipeg's core. Almost $200 million was invested through this format. It was successful and well regarded by the citizens of Manitoba.
More recently, during the first months of the pandemic, it was notable how much Canadians appreciated governments collaborating, co-operating and co-ordinating their agendas around the common interest, the public interest, to achieve shared goals. Canadian federalism is strong and flexible, but it cannot be taken for granted. This bill was developed by placing these thoughts side by side and applying to them the economic development of my own region, the Prairies.
This bill would give the of Canada, in consultation with the , the , the and the , a mandate and statutory framework of consultation with provincial governments, first nation and Métis governments, municipal governments, businesses and their employees, and civil society itself to prepare for significant changes in federal public policy. This is adapting to the new reality of how we produce energy, how we adapt to the new reality of using that energy and how we prepare for the changes to the energy environment worldwide and in our own communities.
We know that the prairie provinces are going to be especially impacted by climate change and the policies implemented to combat it. Traditional industries will take on a far different look, and we already have evidence of that. Leaders in the corporate sector are changing their strategic plans to adapt to a reduced reliance on fossil fuels and investing in other sources of energy. We have many examples of this.
In my home riding of Winnipeg South Centre, there are start-up companies that recognize the growing importance of carbon capture utilization and storage, and they are developing prototypes to build this technology on an industrial scale. Alberta is already the largest hydrogen producer in Canada. It recognizes its role in bringing this cleaner, low-cost energy to the rest of the Prairies, Canada and the global market. We see the evolution of the small modular reactor technology, and we know that if Canada is going to meet our objective of net-zero emissions by 2050, we must rely on a wide variety of energy sources.
For a few hundred years now, we have grown food on the Prairies to feed ourselves and to feed the world. Increasingly, it is evident that what we grow on the Prairies can also fuel the world. The pace of innovation in the biomass supply chain means that very soon we may be able to do just about anything with a bushel of canola that we can do with a barrel of oil.
The bill recognizes this and knows that, to implement these policy objectives, our chances of success improve if there is co-operation among the levels of government and those who create wealth. In Canada, we talk about the distribution of the nation’s wealth, and these discussions are critical. We should also talk about wealth creation, something that we do not do much about because we are so focused on how we are going to spend the bounty of our nation.
We can take child care as an example. It is both an economic and a social policy. We know that the Prairies are struggling with other difficult circumstances. I can use transportation as an other example. Anybody who has tried to get from one part of the region to the other over the last number of years will know how challenging it has become.
Train service has been dropped. A train has not run between the cities of Calgary and Edmonton since 1985. Bus service has been curtailed across wide sections of the Prairies, making life more difficult, particularly for seniors living in rural communities. Let us review this, discuss it and debate it. The bill emphasizes this.
This bill represents a new way of doing business as a nation. Many of the elements and the aspirations of the bill are already here, not because they are mandated or obliged to happen, but because a particular minister or a group of MPs or a premier or a mayor has an idea that co-operation would be a good thing. This bill would do more than make suggestions. It would give the and the federal government 18 months to establish this framework, after deep and meaningful consultation with those mentioned in the bill, and it demands a reporting to Parliament.
The intention is to focus the ministerial mind to make that kind of consultation and coordination easier because it must happen. It mandates collaboration, co-operation and relationship building.
This bill is not about jurisdictional overreach. It is clear that these policies are within the federal jurisdiction but must consider local circumstances and continuing dialogue with local governments and with businesses and workers who, after all, are best positioned to understand the consequences of changing policy on the way they run their governments or their businesses in an ever-changing landscape.
Indigenous nations are partners because their interests are integral to the success of the entire region, and the entire country. Not only does our Constitution demand this, but we know that development of resources across first nation, Métis, and Inuit land requires these conversations to be meaningful from the start.
Though the bill is succinct, I believe it is full of possibilities and ideas that span a wide range. I am optimistic, which springs from spending many months as the minister responsible for the prairie provinces, talking to decision-makers and regular folk across a vast range of interests. I was working on my little computer on the second floor of my house. That gave me the scope and the capacity to cover a lot of ground.
I remember one day when I chatted with people over breakfast at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce before moving on to a visit with canola producers and then ranchers. After that, I talked to people who are in the power business in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, before leading a round table with first nations and Métis community and business leaders. I was in touch with the heads of unions and other associations too.
I was able to do this in a single day because I did not have to get on a plane. Having that ease to stay in touch with so many people was a great advantage.
What I found was that there are very few stereotypes that hold water and, in any case, stereotypes are barriers to progress. I wonder if colleagues know of Professor Michael Houghton at the University of Alberta, who has a PhD.D., is a Nobel laureate, and was recognized for his work combatting hepatitis C and with vaccinations. The Prairies are absolutely full of scientists in each of our provinces.
When we think of the Prairies and when we think of Alberta, I want us to think of Nobel prize winners. I want us to think of the cutting edge of research. I want us to think about feeding the world.
I was struck, over the course of those several days, by how much community of interest I found across the great diversity and expanse of the Prairies. In perspective, in topography and in geography, it is a vast region. What I found was that we can find common ground if we seek it.
I was often delighted and encouraged by the degree of agreement I saw and that played out as we moved closer to a whole variety of decisions.
The time for a bill like this one is now. It takes what we have already accomplished across this special part of our country and builds on it. I am hopeful this bill will tap into the aspiration that the country should unite around shared objectives and values.
The bill recognizes that what we have, more than the bounty of natural resources we have been so adept at developing, is this generation of young people who understand the urgency of climate change. They are sophisticated in their thinking and see the economic opportunities that building a new Prairie economy would provide for them as they choose career paths over the next 10, 20 and 30 years.
We want our young people across the Prairies to thrive in the region and to have prosperous and secure futures. We want the energy infrastructure we have today to help us move along to the next generation of energy development that is clean, sustainable and marketable. Without question, the region will be very attractive to those looking to invest in the new economy.
Though the Prairies are the region I have chosen, because it is the region I live in and the one most impacted by changes in the energy world, I am certain this bill provides a template for a way of building relationships and doing business that would be relevant to any other region of Canada.
Therefore, I am encouraged, excited and optimistic about how we can strengthen our federation in ways we have strived to achieve as a nation for decades. With this framework, mandated by a statute passed by the majority of members in the House of Commons and the Senate, I am confident that we will have ushered in a new era of co-operative federalism and a dynamic moment for Canadian democracy.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for and colleagues right across Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan, I will respond to the private member's bill, Bill , from the member for Winnipeg South Centre.
I first wanted to say that I really respect the member. I enjoy working opposite to and sometimes constructively with him. Most of all, I am sincerely heartened to see him here and in good health.
My own background is, of course, a rural prairie one. I grew up near a village of about 200 people. My husband and I live and raise horses where he grew up a mile west of a town of fewer than 1,500 people, so no matter where I go or what I do, I am always a rural Alberta farm girl at heart.
As an MP, I have fought non-stop for farmers, for farm families, for oil and gas workers, for responsible resource development, for rural and indigenous communities and against burdensome government red tape, taxes and barriers to rural life. I am grateful to our interim leader for her friendship, counsel and confidence and for the opportunity to focus on rural economic development and rural broadband in the months ahead.
Right off the top, let me share the general view of prairie residents, especially rural people and those in Lakeland. The federal government in Ottawa is very far away, very expensive and very slow to respond. It does not get the realities or the priorities of prairie life, and the very best way the federal government can help the Prairies to develop and diversify their economies, to create jobs and to reduce emissions is to get out of the way. We are already doing it.
I know this member is sincere in his intentions to increase collaboration between all levels of government and indigenous communities, but it will instead add the very layer of bureaucracy that often stifles economic development initiatives or private sector projects, partnerships and investments in the first place.
A framework to enhance consultation sounds commendable. The reality will be a complex bureaucratic process spanned across three provinces and at least five federal departments, dragged out over a year and a half, just to create a plan that is likely to mostly feature predetermined federal Liberal government ideology and goals. While effective and timely collaboration does not always happen in practice, this attempt to create yet another layer of red tape is, and ought to be, unnecessary. There is nothing stopping federal and provincial ministers, existing departments and public servants from working together on any and every policy area that overlaps and impacts each other already. The fact that an MP thinks it is necessary to legislate such practice is actually an indictment on the status quo approach of current governments and politicians, and maybe even senior levels of departments and regulatory bodies.
I think most Canadians expect that this sort of work is already happening regularly and that it should not take a new law and a long drawn-out process to get it done. As someone who has worked in a provincial public service primarily focused on energy, environment and economic development policies and issues, I can say first-hand that it is eminently possible and reasonable for public servants to work in cross-departmental and cross-provincial capacities with the federal government, along with a variety of private sector and indigenous partners, and to achieve real outcomes.
A federally imposed, top-down, drawn-out legislated bureaucratic process is not necessary and is most likely to be long on meetings, procedures and reports, but short on deliverables, outcomes and actual economic or environmental results. Instead of accepting that yet another legislative- and administrative-heavy framework is what is required, it seems to me the ministers, departments and each level of government should both demand and do better. I believe that timely accountability is what most Canadians expect too.
On top of that, frankly, I think what the member is trying to remedy in his bill is already happening in the provinces to which it applies. It seems to be a solution in search of a problem. Most notably in the Prairies and across Canada, provinces have created and already implemented working plans to reduce emissions and enhance environmental protection. These are both programs that enable more R and D and innovation to advance energy technologies and energy efficiency through seed funding or private-public partnerships, and specific programs designed to increase indigenous participation in economic opportunities, both as partners and as owners, by increasing the capacity for indigenous and Métis communities to participate in regulatory processes, and to advance economic reconciliation by enabling indigenous people to secure more significant, long-term economic opportunities to build legacies of prosperity and self-sufficiency for future generations through increased access to capital. The duty to consult on major federal resource projects or related infrastructure is of course an explicit federal responsibility, and it should focus on getting that right.
Therefore, it seems to me that an obvious unintended consequence of this bill is that it could actually undermine the extensive work already being done across the country, and particularly in the Prairies already leading the way, by municipal and provincial governments, indigenous communities, utilities and the private sector. Instead of this “Ottawa knows best” approach to formalize oversight across three provinces and to federally wag the dog on their respective approaches to environmental stewardship, the federal government would do well to identify all the ways in which federal programs, rules and taxes overlap, duplicate, contradict and add costs and administrative burdens to entrepreneurs, resource developers and farmers.
The federal government would do better to listen to private sector proponents and indigenous communities, which say the regulatory burden the Liberals have created in Canada is politicized, onerous, punitive and driving away billions of dollars in projects and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the very sectors this bill focuses on, because it is so disproportionate from competitor jurisdictions and economies that nothing can get built here. The federal government would do better to listen to innovators and fix the major problem in Canada that they call the valley of death, where years of risk-taking, innovation, collaboration, creativity, inventiveness, research and development, and money go to die before ever making it to real commercialized, usable, feasible technology in Canada, making innovators go elsewhere. The federal government must maintain high standards in its key areas of responsibility, obviously, but otherwise should get itself out of the way of local and provincial governments that know their jurisdictions best and out of the way of private sector proponents, entrepreneurs and innovators, who know their sectors best.
Let us face reality. It is safe to say that the majority of people in the prairie provinces, where the major economic drivers are agriculture, mining and gas and oil extraction, and which are home to 62% of employment in Canada's egg activities and food processing and 19% of Canada's resource-based employment, are rightly skeptical and suspicious about the current federal government's intentions and actions. The Liberals' high-taxing, anti-energy, anti-resource development, anti-private sector legislative and regulatory approach has killed pipelines, driven away billions of dollars' worth of business and indigenous-partnered projects in oil, mining, natural gas and LNG development, and initiatives for more Canadian resource exports. Their approach has stuck 20 billion dollars' worth of resource and critical infrastructure proposals on idle in their cumbersome and prohibitive-by-design regulatory framework. The point really should be efficient, transparent, fair, objective and evidence-based due diligence in consultation, while maintaining Canada's world-class standards, not checking off boxes with ever-changing rules over the years and then not being certain a project can go ahead if it does get the green light. All of that has really done more to stifle innovation, R and D, technology advances and economic development and diversification in the Prairies than anything else.
This, of course, is at the heart of the matter. It is the fundamental difference in the world views and the approaches between the Liberals and the Conservatives and perhaps, really, between Ottawa and the Prairies.
The most significant private sector investors in clean tech; in emissions reduction; in new, renewable and alternative energy technologies; in solar, wind and green hydrogen projects; and in others areas are existing oil and gas, oil sands and pipeline companies. All kinds of government bodies at all levels, and utility companies, are currently shovelling millions of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars into pilots for what they call the energy transition. However, in real terms with real outcomes, it is actually the private sector energy and resource companies that have long been leading efforts on emissions reduction, technological adaptation and mitigation, energy efficiency, and environmental stewardship and remediation, without risking billions in tax dollars.
It is also true that initial academic and government partnerships with seed funding and favourable regulatory approaches were important to starting major developments that benefit all of Canada and spinoff employment in multiple other sectors like the oil sands. This is 100% true in agricultural industries and among egg producers too, so it is strange that this bill does not actually include egg production at all. I notice this is a PMB seven years in, so one wonders how much of a priority it is to the government.
The fact that the heavy lifting and real leadership in emissions reduction and green technology advancements come from the private sector should not be a surprise to anyone. However, the federal government does often seem to be unaware. It stifles the very work and outcomes it says it wants to achieve, in favour of top-down, high-cost, complicated, low-results big government.
People in the Prairies, and especially in Lakeland, are not inclined to welcome the “I'm from the government and I'm here to help” mentality, and for many, many good reasons, so notwithstanding this respected member's goodwill and positive aspirations, the Conservatives will oppose Bill .
Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed reading my hon. colleague's bill. It is very interesting. The intention is sincere, and it could be impactful. Kudos to my colleague, and I thank him.
This bill talks about concentration in the economy and the importance of diversifying the economy. As we know, having an extremely concentrated economy primarily in the provinces that produce very polluting resources has an important impact not only on those provinces, but also on the rest of the country and Quebec.
The first thing we need to talk about is the environment. We all know that one Albertan produces six times more greenhouse gas emissions than a Quebecker. One Saskatchewanian produces seven times more than a Quebecker. That is substantial.
Next is resilience. A poorly diversified economy is less resilient in the face of stress, recessions, geopolitical uncertainties and pandemics.
There is also dependence. Anytime too much of the economy is focused on a single resource or group of resources, that creates dependence.
Conservative members like to say that Quebec and other provinces depend on equalization. However, the greatest example of dependence in this country is Alberta's dependence on oil. I will give an example. I had a lot of fun looking at Alberta's old budgets. I like public finances. There are normally very few surprises in the public finances of the provinces, but Alberta was pleasantly surprised this year.
Based on last year's projections, Alberta was expected to run a deficit of almost $11 billion for the 2022-23 fiscal year. All of a sudden, a $500-million surplus is announced. The Alberta government appears to be a genius at managing public funds.
The difference between the two Alberta budgets is that royalties on what they very affectionately call “bitumen” have increased by almost $8 billion. That is what magically covered nearly 70% of the province's deficit. Note that if Alberta had a value-added tax, a sales tax like most industrialized countries that know how to tax properly, like Quebec and the other provinces, like Europe, there would no longer be a deficit.
Yes, those provinces need to diversify their economy.
Beyond that, the market concentration can be calculated. Without getting into any detail, there are concentration indicators, such as the Herfindahl-Hirschman index. When we look at the concentration of Alberta's exports, the index is six times higher than that of Quebec, Ontario and the Canadian average, depending on the year. The most recent reliable statistics that I have date back to 2017. They are a few years old, but when we were debating the situation in Ukraine, the member for did not hesitate to refer to a report from 2015 to say that we needed to produce more. I do not think that it will bother anyone that I am using data from 2017, but as an economist, I can say that the basic gist remains the same.
Yes, we need to diversify the economy.
Since I have been a member of the House, I have heard a lot of talk about diversification, in particular from those sitting next to me. Is there a problem with western Canada's public finances? Let us diversify and produce more oil. Is global warming a problem? Let us produce more oil and hope that, in 70 years, when the oceans have risen by three centimetres, we are able to sequester greenhouse gas emissions. That is pretty obvious.
On a more serious note, I would say that the Conservatives even used the war in Ukraine to try to justify the construction of pipelines that will take 10 to 15 years to complete. We are not talking about Keystone XL; we are talking about forever. They are trying to sell us that. It is serious.
I am a relatively new MP. In passing, I would like to say hello to my constituents in Mirabel and thank them for electing me six months ago. Parliament is a rumour mill. We hear things in the halls and secrets in the cafeteria. It would seem the Conservatives are thinking about putting oil in Canada's food guide.
It seems that this would resolve the problem of diversifying our diet. However, they do not agree at all. Some are wondering if it will be in with the fruits and vegetables. Others are wondering if it will be in with the meats and alternatives. I think it will end up with the dairy products because some people will put oil on their cereal in the morning. Since there is a leadership race, this question will likely be settled in September, or at least we hope so.
Let us come back to serious matters. This is an interesting bill that says that within 18 months after coming into force, the ministers concerned will meet with stakeholders. It says that they will have to make recommendations and reflect—it is a smart process, we admit it—that the report will have to be tabled in the House and brought to the attention of members, and that the process will have to be repeated every five years.
However, let us make sure that these reports do not end up like all the other reports, including the IPCC report. The government shows interest for a day and then throws it in the trash.
The same thing happened to the report of the commissioner of the environment. The commissioner blamed the government. We then asked questions in the House, but to listen to them talk one would believe that the commissioner was congratulating them. They need to do something else with these reports other than say that diversification will be paid for with more oil.
I, too, would like to see major research being conducted in Alberta. I have several university friends there, and I know that some research is already being done. I, too, want to see excellence, but this must be financed with something other than royalties.
Alberta must become less dependent. Their public finances indicate just how vulnerable Alberta is. When the price of oil goes up, everything is good; when the price of oil goes down, things are very bad. When things are good, they want more of it; when things are bad, their solution is to have more. Alberta and oil, it is like nicotine. When you miss it, you smoke more; when you smoke more, you cannot stop.
In the process that will lead us to reflect on this bill, I hope that we will find ourselves in a situation where we are constructive, forward-looking and do not continue to invest in an industry of the past. We must look ahead more than 10 years and stop relying on an industry in decline. Canada's history shows us that it has not always been easy. In former times, with the Pearson government, Canada's policy focused on buying Canadian.
We know they are very interested in the price of oil. Well, they were selling us their oil for more than the global price. That profit margin enabled them to develop the western oil sands, which cost a lot more to exploit than conventional oil because of the three processing stages.
In 2009, the Harper government said it would eliminate inefficient oil subsidies, whatever that means. Anyway, it does not matter what it means because the government did nothing. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement, our banks have invested $609 billion of our money, our savings, in non-renewable energy projects, in oil. That is a total of $609 billion, including $84 billion for coal. This is the 21st century, but we are investing in coal. It feels like we are back in the days of old locomotives.
There are solutions, in particular industry-led ones. This has to be a two-way street. The Bloc Québécois has made a lot of green finance proposals because the transition must be financially worthwhile. We need to ensure that the big capital is going to the right place, that investors have an incentive to invest, and that effective price signals are sent. We can use taxation, a savings tax. Transparency in the banking system is lacking. I want to know if my bank is investing my money in dirty oil. I will then make my own decision, but I want to know.
We are talking about maybe working on the fiduciary duties of pension funds, which invest our pensions for 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, when this industry is expected to be on the decline. We are talking about norms, about norms from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD, about other norms that could be applied to Crown corporations, and so on.
There is a lot to think about. There is a lot of work to be done. We need to get a lot of people around the table. I read this bill with great interest and I hope that it will produce something constructive for the future of people in western Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill . It is clear that we need better co-operation between the federal government, the provinces and the territories in order to get serious about climate action. We know that is the case because we have not seen serious climate action. We haven't seen our governments rise to the occasion and make the investments we know we have to make for Canada to do its part with respect to lowering its greenhouse gas emissions. Clearly, there is a need for a conversation, so it is difficult to oppose a bill that sets up a framework for that conversation and a mechanism to report on that.
It was interesting to listen to the member for because I think we have a very different take on the central message of this bill. I do not see it as an “Ottawa knows best” bill. I think it is an admission that Ottawa does not know enough about how to take serious action on the climate change file. That is a real disappointment to a lot of people who have been looking to governments and especially the federal government for leadership on climate action since it was elected in 2015 and promised it would do exactly that.
It is worth remarking on the fact that the bill is being presented by someone who has been a central player in that government, a former minister of both natural resources and international trade. If there is a disappointment with respect to the bill, it is that there are no clear indications as to what kinds of projects we should be moving forward on as a country. Clearly, there are conversations that need to happen to be able to co-determine those priorities along with other jurisdictions.
The fact that we have somebody who has been a central player in the current government for the over six years now that it has been in power, and whose main suggestion is to get the conversation going, is a real testament to the fact that Canada is not where it needs to be and that the government has not lived up to the promises it ran on in not only 2015, but 2019 and 2021. The fact that it went from having a comfortable majority in 2015 to just kind of hanging on by its fingernails in 2019 and then again in 2021 is a testament to the fact that Canadians are watching and they know the government has not made good on its commitment to take serious climate action.
Therefore, by all means let us carry on this conversation and have some public reporting out so there can be some accountability, but I do not think we can pass over in silence the disappointment at not having some concrete ideas about how we get there as a country.
It would be nice to see the federal government, the provinces and the territories agree on some things with respect to investments. I look to our own region, the region that is indeed the subject of this bill, western Canada and I think about some of the conversations that have happened and the various reports that have been published about the possibility of a western Canadian power grid. That would be about more than just simple transmission between provinces, but about trying to have a coordinated system of generation, transmission and distribution so that provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan, which have an enormous potential for solar and wind energy, can benefit from having neighbours in B.C. and Manitoba that have an abundance of hydroelectric power that can be used to even out the generation cycles of those other forms of renewable energy. That could be a massive benefit to Canada with respect to lowering our own greenhouse gas emissions.
It is also a project that could create a lot of employment, both with respect to the building and the ongoing maintenance and operation of the grid. A lot of Canadians look to pipeline projects as a place to create construction and ongoing jobs, but we can do that with renewable energy infrastructure as well.
Six and a half years of government by the Liberals and no real progress in championing a large infrastructure project like that is a missed opportunity and we are running out of time to keep missing opportunities. We need to get serious about selecting some of these opportunities. We need to get serious about investing in them. We need to get serious about investing in them not as a one-off pilot or a little project here or there, but with a plan for the next 10 or 20 years on how we are going to create sustainable infrastructure in Canada. That is important to not only get a sense of how we will do with respect to our greenhouse gas emissions but for work forecasts as well.
That is what gives Canadians confidence that they are going to be able to go out and get jobs, if they are employed in the industries that build and maintain our critical infrastructure of this kind.
It is also really important when we look at a stubbornly high unemployment rate, and we are going to talk about training. We need to talk about training, but we need to know what work is going to be there in the next 10 to 20 years. Certainly, a lot of work is going to be there just as a product of demand in sectors such as housing and others. We are going to continue to need tradespeople. There is an opportunity here to lay out some ambitious projects on a timeline for companies and other actors in the sector. I think of my own union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which does a lot of good work in training electricians for the workforce.
Having a sense of the kind of work that is going to be out there, and that is going to be publicly funded as part of our effort to do our part in the battle against climate change, allows those organizations to work with training colleges, unions and contractors to figure out how we supply the workforce that we need.
That is why it is so disappointing. This would have been a great bill in the year 2000. This would have been lovely work to do back then. It would have been great for the government to have done it in 2015. The information and the research are out there. That is why these conversations between governments are important, because it is a matter of choosing those priorities and building that political will, in the absence of which we are simply not going to make progress. As I say, we are really just running out of time to get this done.
To the member for , I would say that this is not about whether government knows best. This is about there being a meaningful role for public investment in facing down the climate crisis and in training people for the economy. All the time, we hear that employers are concerned that they cannot find people with the relevant skills and experience to make their businesses go. They are looking to the government for solutions on that. They are looking to have meaningful training programs that are publicly funded, at least to some extent.
Those are things that the private sector is looking to the government for. We know that there has to be a role for the public sector in rebuilding the economy post-pandemic, and we know that there has to be a role for the public sector in taking on the climate challenge. The idea that somehow there is not a role for the public sector here is certainly naive, if it is true. Otherwise, it is just sort of trying to pass over the important role of the public sector here for the purposes of a political narrative. I think that is doing more harm than good.
We need coordination in order to meet the challenges of the climate crisis. We need coordination to meet the challenges of the labour supply shortage that we are facing, even in the face of a high unemployment rate. We have this curious problem in Canada: we have a whole bunch of people who are looking for work and cannot find it, and a whole bunch of employers who are saying that they are looking for workers and cannot find them. If the private market, on its own, was going to fix that, it would have done it by now. There is absolutely a role for governments to work with all of those stakeholders and come up with a plan.
Ultimately, this is a bill that is about planning. That is fair enough. This is planning not only that we need to do, but it is planning that we should have done by now. I think it is an admission. The fact that this bill comes from somebody who has been such a central player in the government is an admission that the government has not been doing that work, or certainly not doing it well enough.
Let us get on with this. I hope the government will not wait for the deadlines established in this bill, because I think it has enough information, or it should by now, in order to come up with a plan. I would hope that the conversations this bill calls for are conversations that are already ongoing. If they are not, we have a big problem.
I am comfortable moving the bill along, but I certainly hope the government is not going to take that as a sign that it can sit on its hands and wait another 18 months to start thinking seriously about how we take climate action in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member of Parliament for mentioned in his intervention a moment ago, sometimes we need a little bit of luck, and only 24 members had worse luck than I did in the last private members' draw. Fortunately, my prairie colleague has put forward an excellent private member's bill, Bill , which I was honoured to second at first reading, and I am thrilled to rise once again in support.
My hon. colleague recently served as the special representative to the Prairies. In this role, he provided members in this House with a clear-eyed assessment about the direction this government must take for our region to grow and our communities to thrive. The hon. member's guidance and wisdom have been deeply appreciated by everybody who has had the pleasure of meeting and working with him. We will never forget his passionate advocacy for those who call western Canada home.
As chair of the Liberals' Prairies and northern caucus, I have had the privilege of leading many great conversations about western Canada's future. Last week I had the immense pleasure of touring across Saskatchewan, meeting with local mayors, business and community leaders and area residents. These conversations have left me hopeful while giving me a deep appreciation for the challenges ahead of us. They have also shown me how valuable a framework of co-operation, as proposed through Bill , would be in addressing these shared challenges.
I am a newly elected member of Parliament, but I have been a Calgarian my whole life. I have watched my city grow and develop through boom and bust. We are resilient and hard-working and we are always ready to come together to solve problems.
The world is changing more quickly than ever before. We are facing many massive challenges, and there are not many challenges greater than climate change. We are witnessing the devastating impacts of climate change today. It is not just tomorrow's problem.
The area I represent, northeast Calgary, was ravaged by a hailstorm in June 2020. I stood up for the thousands of residents affected by this devastating storm, which caused more than one and a half billion dollars of damage. This storm was one of the costliest weather events in Canadian history, a clear example of extreme weather caused by climate change.
While touring Saskatchewan, I heard about the growing threat of drought looming over the farmers who put food on Canadians' tables across the continent. From massive devastation caused by flooding in British Columbia to fires tearing through our forests, climate change is happening. Our Liberal government has already invested over $100 billion to fight climate change. We are going to do more, and Bill will help us focus our efforts.
Our government has committed to fighting climate change throughout all we do. We have already taken major steps toward reducing emissions. There is much more work to do, and we are going to do it, but while we do our part, we cannot forget about western Canadian workers. The member for said it best: “This bill represents a new way of doing business as a nation.”
Our western economy is incredibly well positioned to thrive in a green economy, but our government must make sure this happens. Western Canada, the Prairies, Alberta and Calgary need to be world leaders in all things energy as we move towards a low-carbon economy. Industry stakeholders understand that this is inevitable and are reorienting their operations to compete in a low-emissions environment.
Our government should incentivize the transition while understanding that it cannot happen overnight. Only the Liberal government recognizes both the urgency of climate action and the importance of supporting Canadian energy workers. Striking this balance is at the heart of Bill .
Our green transformation will have tremendous effects, not only on the energy industry, but also in reaching our net-zero goals, which will require an economy-wide effort. It is about integrating clean energy into all energy-intensive sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, transportation and manufacturing; rethinking how we live and move in and between our cities and towns, investing in public transit projects, such as the blue line LRT in my riding of Calgary Skyview, as well as Edmonton-Calgary and Calgary-Banff train links; investing in rural transit; and consulting with counties, hamlets and towns to better understand their needs.
I recently spoke with Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess first nation. He re-emphasized the importance of his community being self-sustaining and of being an economic partner in the growth of the province and country. Our government recently invested $5 million in a solar grid at Cowessess, which will allow the nation to power its own homes with renewable energy and contribute to the Saskatchewan grid. Bill would facilitate projects like these by mandating co-operation, collaboration and relationship building.
As a former city councillor, I have seen what happens when local government perspectives are shut out of conversations. Municipalities understand local priorities and concerns. Our federal government needs to build strong, productive relationships with our counterparts in towns and cities across the country, focusing on the Prairies. Bill proposes a framework to build a better economy. It is a framework that will help our federal government coordinate local co-operation and engagement. It is a framework that acknowledges that one level of government cannot build a green economy alone, and it is a framework that can serve as a model from coast to coast to coast.
I want to voice my full support of this bill once again. I hope the House can stand up for prairie workers as we continue to build a green economy that works for everyone.