Madam Speaker, if we are now talking about the climate emergency we are currently facing, it is because, year after year, every time the alarm sounded, Canada hit the snooze button. Ottawa has known for decades that, without a transition to green energy, we were heading towards a wall. We are just about there.
I say “we” because Quebec can try all it wants, but as long as Ottawa keeps on polluting, the global result will be the same. The planet is warming and the climate is destabilizing.
A few weeks ago, the NDP wanted to get one up on the Liberals with a motion on the climate emergency. Now the Liberals want to get one up on the Conservatives with a motion on the climate emergency. While they try to outdo one another, no one is really doing anything to address the issue, even though we have known about it for years. That is how climate destabilization has turned into a climate emergency.
Let's go back in time a bit. On December 19, 2002, Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol on climate change. That was almost a generation ago. A fine motion was moved in the House and eloquent speeches were made on the urgent need to act, similar to what we are seeing today, but then, that was it.
David Anderson was environment minister at the time in Jean Chrétien's government. He was tasked with developing a plan to meet the Kyoto targets, but it was a huge failure. Emissions rose by 20% instead of decreasing by 6%.
Mr. Anderson gave a long interview in February 2007, after he quit politics, to explain his failure. What he had to say now sounds like a warning. While he was minister, everyone claimed to want to combat climate change, but everything fell apart when it came time for real action.
There is good reason to take action when a country is the largest consumer of energy per capita and the second-largest GHG emitter per capita, but there is also a lot of resistance. This means that as soon as he proposed something, someone would be unhappy and the measure would be stalled.
Sure, some business somewhere may have to make changes if the government takes action. This was the case with the Liberals, and also with the NDP, which was afraid of squabbles with the unions. I remind members that oil and auto workers were pushing hard against Kyoto. The Ontario auto sector was, in large part, made up of gas guzzlers like GMC trucks and Ford Crown Victorias.
Each Canadian produces twice as much GHG emissions than a Quebecker. If it cost more to pollute and were more profitable to not pollute, Canadians would be in trouble and Quebeckers would hit the jackpot. That is why nothing ever gets done, despite the rhetoric.
Let me again reference Mr. Anderson, the former minister. When he was listing all the problems, he said that the only leader whose support of Kyoto never wavered was the Bloc Québécois leader. That was true at the time, and it is even more true today. Finding a policy that suits Quebec without hurting western Canada is impossible.
As a result, any pan-Canadian party that aspires to govern has to cater to both sides. Having a coherent policy becomes impossible. It cannot bring forward sound policy, because it would favour Quebec too much. That is why we are currently in a full-blown climate crisis. That is why the Bloc Québécois had to sign the citizens' universal declaration of climate emergency. The Bloc was the first party in the Parliament of Canada to do so. It remains to be seen as to whether we will remain the only party to do so, for the same reasons that have been motivating the same Canadian parties to continue to accept the same compromises for decades.
As I said earlier, there have been quite a few motions. The NDP moved one to try to corner the Liberals on the climate emergency, and the Liberals moved one to try to corner the Conservatives. However, when it comes time to make a personal commitment, no federal leader, apart from Yves-François Blanchet, has acknowledged the urgent need to sign the citizens' universal declaration of climate emergency. No federal leader, apart from Yves-François Blanchet, has acknowledged the urgent need to support the massive citizen engagement around this issue. No one else has acknowledged the urgent need to support the 365 municipalities that have signed the citizens' universal declaration of climate emergency and that already have an action plan. Also, on May 14, 2019, the organizers of the declaration wrote to the Minister of Environment asking her to table the declaration in question in the House.
They wrote that it is time to walk the talk. We are still waiting. It seems the Liberals are struggling with the kind of frictions one should come to expect when attempting at all costs to keep Quebec within a dysfunctional federation that does not serve our interests.
We agree with every part of the motion we are debating today. We know that climate change is a real crisis that impacts the environment, biodiversity and even human health. That is undeniable. However, we also know that while they were coming to this conclusion, the Liberals were also green-lighting nearly $20 billion in investments in fossil fuels. Furthermore, we know that the Liberals are following the same plan as the Conservatives, who sometimes think they are living in the age of the dinosaurs.
The targets use 2005 as the base year, whereas Quebec and the rest of the world use 1990. Only the “ROC”, meaning the rest of Canada, and the United States use 2005. This practice hides 15 years of free pollution for oil companies.
We also know that, if current trends continue, these “Liberal-Conservative” targets will not be reached. That is not the way to handle a real crisis. The Prime Minister is fiddling while the world burns.
We know that we feel the effects of climate change. Just ask the thousands of Quebeckers who still cannot return home because of the flooding. The cities and towns of Quebec need $4 billion to deal with climate change. Instead of giving them $4 billion, Ottawa spent $4.5 billion buying the Trans Mountain pipeline in western Canada.
We know that climate change is having an impact on coastal communities. Shoreline erosion is a serious problem in Quebec. The shores of the Magdalen Islands are disappearing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence at a rate of 60 centimetres a year. Highways 138 and 132 are under constant pressure from the changing climate. In Montérégie, people are losing their seawall and fear that their homes will end up in the water. When the government talks about the coasts it does not mention erosion. It talks about a coast-to-coast pipeline to export even more oil from the oil sands.
Lastly, we know that the goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to 1.5°C. In Paris they said we need to limit warming to 2°C, but ideally to 1.5°C. Now people are saying we must not exceed 1.5°C and we have already reached 1.1°C. We also know that Canada is getting further and further away from these targets instead of getting closer. If the world followed Canada's lead, global warming would reach 3°C by the end of the century, a threshold that Climate Transparency calls catastrophic.
Making a commitment to protect the environment is about more than voting in favour of a motion to ease our conscience. We need to firmly believe that everyone has the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. The fight against climate change is the Liberal government's biggest broken promise. I was in Paris in 2015, and I clearly remember that historic agreement. I saw the government make promises to the entire world. I felt as though I was participating in a historic event. Cities, federated states, scientists, banks, NGOs, businesses and others were all there. Everyone was there and they all sincerely believed that something had changed. Denial was no longer an option. I heard the Minister of Environment say that we needed to stop talking and start taking action.
The Paris Agreement was supposed to be a beginning, not an end. However, there is a good chance that nothing will come of it here because Canada does not have the courage to turn that commitment into an bold, ambitious, radical plan, rather than just a simple motion to keep Parliament talking. Quebeckers will not be fooled.