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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-18 11:50 [p.29321]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today as we talk about the most important issue that is facing our planet and humanity. The Conservative motion today is:
That, given that the carbon tax will not reduce emissions at its current rate and it is already making life more expensive for Canadians, the House call on the government to repeal the carbon tax and replace it with a real environment plan.
I am going to speak about an environmental plan and how we can get to that conversation. However, before I do that, I want to read an important quote from Greta Thunberg. We all know that she is a leading climate activist globally. She says, “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
I am going to target my speech to this motion and around the fiscal responsibilities of what is happening today. We know that the PBO did a report in 2014 and guesstimated that the cost of climate emergencies would be about $900 million a year to the Canadian economy. That has actually turned into $1.8 billion, so at the time he very much under-calculated the true cost of climate emergencies and how quickly we were going to see climate change happen. He also predicted that by 2050 we would see the cost escalate to $40 billion to $50 billion. When I think about Greta Thunberg, I think about my children and the children of our country. I think about ensuring that we do not leave them with a huge deficit and that we pay for pollution now instead of expecting Greta and other children around the world to inherit this huge economic deficit.
In our country, we are seeing skyrocketing temperatures that have never been seen before. Canada is the fastest-warming country in the world, now at 1.7° above 1948 temperatures, which is our baseline. We are looking at 2.3°C in the far north, where it is the fastest warming in the world. As I have raised here in the House, we are seeing changing weather patterns. We had the biggest windstorm in Vancouver Island's history in December. In February, we had the biggest snowstorm. In March, we had the biggest drought. We had forest fires that started in May and right now most communities in coastal British Columbia and certainly all over Vancouver Island are on water conservation orders. It is affecting our salmon, our economy, our food security and our way of life.
I will go to the motion. The Conservatives have been opposing the carbon tax. They have raised the carbon tax issue. I did a Library of Parliament research question. About two months ago, the Conservatives had asked 762 questions in question period opposing the carbon tax. Those are lost opportunities to bring solutions to the government and to call on the government to take action on a list of items that the Conservatives could be bringing forward. They are perhaps talking about some of that tomorrow. I am extremely disappointed that the Conservative Party of Canada did not roll out its platform yesterday so that today we could be debating its proposal. It would have been good for a healthy debate. We need to put partisan politics aside and have a healthy debate about this most important crisis that is happening in all of our planet's history.
I am extremely disappointed. The Conservatives point to the government, saying that the Liberals have no real plan, but we still have not heard the Conservatives' plan. This really affects the credibility of today's motion, which is just in opposition.
The Progressive Conservative Party of the past was willing to take action on climate leadership like with acid rain, putting a cost on polluters and ensuring that they paid the price. The Conservatives are not listening to some of their own leaders. Preston Manning is very much in support of a carbon tax, putting a price on pollution and ensuring it is carbon neutral. Therefore, when we look at the changes and evolution of the Conservative Party, I am concerned to see this motion come forward without the Conservatives' plan being presented to us.
We have heard from the Liberal Party about the importance of balancing the environment and the economy. We could not agree more.
However, we hear about the government purchasing a pipeline for $4.5 billion, and now, today, the Liberals are going to consider making a decision. If that decision has not already been announced while I am rising right now, it is to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline and invest $15 billion, which would be the largest purchase by the public in Canadian history in fossil fuel infrastructure, and at a time when we need to go in the other direction and invest in clean energy and renewal. Therefore, I am extremely disappointed to hear the government talk about balancing the environment and the economy when it could invest $15 billion into clean energy right now and into electrifying our country. There are so many opportunities and tools that the government has to bring our emissions down and take real climate action.
When I look at jurisdictions around the world, they certainly differ from the beliefs of my friend for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. He believes that the carbon tax in British Columbia and Quebec has not worked when, in fact, they have had the fastest growing economies in our country. In British Columbia, it has been an enormous success. When the member attacks the B.C. Liberal government of the past that brought it in and the B.C. NDP government that is carrying forward an important policy that is supported by the B.C. Green Party, he is taking a shot at all political parties in British Columbia that are united on one thing: knowing that we have to put a price on pollution and that polluters need to pay their fair share. That is just the reality.
We cannot leave it for Greta and other young people in our communities who we are hearing from. The youth climate action, as we have heard, is doing Friday walkouts, joining children from around the world demanding that we take action. By “we”, they mean right here in the House of Commons and leaders from across political parties standing united to take action. They are demanding it. I have children in my riding from G.P. Vanier and Mark R. Isfeld secondary schools in Courtenay who have walked out of school and called on us to bring their important message to Ottawa to be heard here in the House, and I am doing that today. Children in Port Alberni at Wood Elementary School are walking out of school, demanding we take action.
I have been privileged to sit on the climate caucus here in Ottawa, which is an all-party, multi-party caucus, with my good friend for Drummond from the NDP, my friend for Saanich—Gulf Islands from the Green Party, my friend for Repentigny from the Bloc Québécois and my friend for Wellington—Halton Hills from the Conservative Party. It is one opportunity where we actually put our partisan politics aside and become united on an important issue. Sadly, only about 10 or 12 of us show up on a regular basis, and we need more. We need to make it a party so that climate caucuses meet right here in the House of Commons and have a healthy debate about how we move forward and not go backward.
Today, I look at models around the world. California is an excellent model that has taken real action, such as curbing climate emissions on vehicles. Californians have taken a multi-tasked approach where they work with people who are facing real challenges in communities, who are facing huge economic hardship, and shifted that through cap and trade. They have improved their GDP by 37% since 2000 and have reduced emissions by 35%, and that is per capita. This is just another example of a jurisdiction that has taken leadership. Norway has invested in $1 trillion in oil and gas, while our country put $11 billion aside. In Norway, they are earning $50 billion in interest alone and investing in clean energy and strategies that will lower emissions. In fact, 53% of their vehicles are electrified in Norway. Therefore, it can be done. There are 45 countries around the world that have a price on pollution and a carbon tax, as well as an additional 25 jurisdictions, provincial or state, in various countries around the world.
We have heard from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the IPCC, that we need to reduce emissions by 45% from 2005 levels, and our commitment in Paris, by 2030. We have to take drastic action.
I could speak all day about solutions and creating jobs, clean energy and investing in electrification, and ending subsidies to big oil and gas, which, again, could finance so many opportunities and solutions, such as retrofitting buildings. The number of things that we could do is endless. We could have a full debate about that, and I wish we were.
We are in a climate crisis, and I want to close on what Greta Thunberg had said, “I don't want your hope. I don't want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic [and] act as if the house was on fire.”
We are in the House. Let us act like it is on fire.
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