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Results: 1 - 60 of 154
View Joël Godin Profile
View Joël Godin Profile
2019-06-20 10:21 [p.29466]
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table this morning.
The first was drafted by grade-six students in Ms. Mylène Potvin's class at Harfand-des-neiges elementary school. These children showed great initiative in writing to their government. Together, they are calling on the government to curb the use of plastic bags and excess packaging.
I urge them to continue this fight. They will always be able to count on me.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-19 16:20 [p.29404]
Madam Speaker, the fifth petition is in support of my motion, Motion No. 151, to combat plastic pollution in aquatic environments.
View Christine Moore Profile
Madam Speaker, today I am presenting a petition calling for the creation of a national strategy to combat plastic pollution in our waterways.
This type of pollution is extremely worrisome, particularly because it affects aquatic fauna. I have been fishing for as long as I can remember and I am deeply concerned about the increasing number of fish that ingest plastic, which then ends up in our food chain.
This is a critical issue, especially if we consider the communities for which fishing is a traditional activity.
View John Aldag Profile
Lib. (BC)
View John Aldag Profile
2019-06-18 10:08 [p.29264]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 21st report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, entitled “The Last Straw: Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution in Canada”.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
I would like to thank all of our support staff for the excellent work they did during this term.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2019-06-18 11:04 [p.29272]
Mr. Speaker, as always it is an honour to rise in this House and speak about the topic of climate change, which is near and dear to my heart and something I consistently hear about from my constituents.
I am particularly inspired by the voices of the young Canadians I represent in Central Nova, who have brought this issue to the fore and insist that legislators at the municipal, provincial and federal levels take collective action to combat the existential threat that climate change represents.
For me, the starting point in this conversation is that climate change is not only real but primarily driven by humans' industrial activity. Sometimes, when we talk about climate change, we are guilty of causing apocalypse fatigue, which causes people to feel they cannot do anything meaningful about it. At other times, we dig into the technical details about CO2 concentration being at 415 parts per million, and we lose people's attention.
These are all important things to be addressing, but it is important to explain to Canadians that the consequences of climate change are very real. We are feeling them today, but we have an opportunity and, in my mind, an obligation to do something about it. We simply need to implement the solutions we already know exist, which can make a difference by bringing our emissions down and preventing the worst consequences of climate change from impacting our communities.
We are all familiar, of course, with the consequences of climate change. We see them in our own communities. On the east coast we have experienced more frequent and more severe storm surges and hurricanes. Recently my colleagues from New Brunswick have shown me pictures of their communities, which were literally under water. We can see the forest fires ravaging communities in western Canada, the heat waves in Quebec and Ontario that are taking the lives of Canadians, and the melting ice sheets in Canada's north. There is not a corner of this country that has not been impacted by the environmental effects of climate change.
I mentioned this during the debate yesterday as well, but the consequences are not purely environmental; they are social and economic as well. We see entire communities that have been displaced because we continue to build them in flood zones. Floods that used to take place every few hundred years are now taking place every few years.
We see indigenous communities that have traditionally practised a way of life that involved hunting cariboo, for example. That may no longer be an option because of the combined impacts of human activity and climate change on the species they have traditionally relied on to practise their way of life.
I do not have to look all across the country; I can see the economic impacts of climate change in my own backyard. We rely heavily on the lobster fishery in Nova Scotia. I represent both the eastern shore and the Northumberland Strait, which have vibrant lobster fisheries today that represent nearly $2 billion in exports for our provincial economy.
However, when we look a little south, to the state of Maine, we have seen a decrease of 22 million pounds in their catch over the past few years due to a combination of things like rising ocean temperatures, deoxygenation of the gulf region, and other environmental factors that are having a very real impact.
We are seeing a drop in industrial production and manufacturing in places that have been impacted by forest fires, and when we go for lengthy periods with droughts, we know that our agricultural sector suffers. There is a very real consequence to inaction on climate change in the prevention of economic activity. We know there are solutions. We have an obligation to implement the most effective ones that we know exist.
This brings me to the current motion, which attacks both the efficacy and affordability of our plan to put a price on pollution. I have good news for the members opposite. In fact, we know that putting a price on pollution is the most effective thing we can do to help reduce our emissions. We have identified a path forward on the advice of science, facts and evidence, including world-leading expertise, to ensure that as we put forward a plan that brings our emissions down, the affordability of life is not only not impacted but in fact made a little better for Canadian families.
Over the course of my remarks, I want to touch on the efficacy of carbon pricing. I will talk about some of its benefits and address the affordability, but also highlight some other measures we are implementing. We know that pricing alone is likely insufficient to get us where we need to be, but the attack built into the motion, that our government does not have a real plan, rings hollow from a party that has yet to produce a plan of its own.
I will take a step back and explain in broad strokes what carbon pricing really involves. There are more or less two different ways one can put a market mechanism to price pollution. One is a cap-and-trade system, where one sets an overall cap and industrial players that exceed their credits can buy credits from those that have reduced emissions, in order to bring emissions down across society over time. The other, perhaps simpler, way is to put a price on the thing one does not want, which is pollution, so that people buy less of it. If one puts a price on pollution and people buy less of it but the revenues are returned to households, life can be made more affordable for a majority of families. In a nutshell, that is how it works.
We know it works. We have seen other jurisdictions implement these solutions and have monumental successes. In the United Kingdom, which imposed a price on pollution over and above the European Union's cap-and-trade system, there was a rapid transition from coal-fired power plants to other, less-emitting sources. The United Kingdom has achieved magnificent reductions in recent history, in part because of the way it used a market-based mechanism with a price on pollution.
The example of British Columbia came up previously. One of the members who spoke earlier indicated that emissions have gone up to 1.5% and dismissed it as not possibly working. I commend my NDP colleague, who noted that one should not be cherry-picking data the way that member did. In fact, there has been a 2.2% reduction since the price on pollution came into place. More importantly, when we look at the example of British Columbia, despite population growth and serious economic development we can see that the per capita rate of consumption of greenhouse gases has actually come down significantly.
The report of the Ecofiscal Commission, which studied this in depth, estimates that emissions in British Columbia are 5% to 15% lower than they would have been had no price been put on pollution in the first place. Five per cent to 15% is a serious reduction from one policy tool alone, and we know we can do better by doing more.
However, it is not just the practical examples of which we have empirical evidence that show that this in fact works. We have seen support from folks who really know what they are talking about. Last year's Nobel Prize for economics went to Professor William Nordhaus for his development of the kind of approach we are now seeking to implement in Canada. In fact, he pointed specifically to the example in British Columbia of the kind of model that could work best.
Professor Nordhaus has identified a way to ensure a price is put on pollution, so that what we do not want becomes more expensive and people buy less of it, but affordability is maintained by returning the revenues to households. It is common sense when one thinks about it. It is quite straightforward, and it works.
Mark Cameron, Stephen Harper's former director of policy, has pointed to the fact that this is the right path forward. Even Doug Ford's chief budget adviser testified before the Senate, in 2016 I believe, saying something to the effect that the single most effective thing we can do to transition to a low-carbon economy is to put a price on pollution. Preston Manning has been arguing for this kind of approach for years.
When the partisan lens is removed, we see folks on different sides of the aisle who have a strong history with the Liberals, the Conservatives and the NDP, who all support this approach because they know it is the most effective thing we can do. In particular, I point to the recent Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decision that upheld the federal government's constitutional power to implement a price on pollution across Canada in provinces that would not come to the table with a serious plan. The court said that it was undisputed, based on the factual record before the court, that GHG pricing is not just part and parcel of an effective plan to combat climate change but also an essential aspect of the global effort to curb emissions.
This is why the court found it to be a national concern that some provinces would not have pricing, which gave rise to the federal government's authority to implement a plan. It is an essential aspect of the global effort to reduce emissions. That part was even put in italics, specifically so legislators would see that this is so important. We have to move forward with it if we are going to take our responsibilities seriously.
However, these are not the only voices; I can point to a number of others. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, whom the opposition members have quoted ad nauseam in this House, has said that putting a price on pollution is the most effective way to reduce our emissions. He also pointed out something I hope we will get into during questions and comments, which is that eight out of 10 families will be better off in jurisdictions in which the federal backstop applies. This is because we are returning the revenues directly to households. The only families who will pay more than they get back in the form of a rebate are the 20% in the highest-earning households in Canada. I believe it maxes out at $50 a year for the wealthiest families in Saskatchewan.
Meanwhile, in various provinces there will be rebates of between $250 and $609, depending on how much pollution is generated in those provinces. The bottom line is that eight out of 10 families, no matter which province they live in where the federal system applies, will receive more in the form of a rebate than their cost of living will go up. Therefore, the argument that this is about affordability rings hollow.
I point out in particular the comments this past weekend by Pope Francis, who has no political agenda. He is not a Liberal or Conservative when it comes to Canadian politics, but he has explained that carbon pricing is essential to combat climate change. He pointed to the fact that the world's poor and the next generations are going to be disproportionately impacted. There is a sense of injustice about it, that we are shoving this burden onto future generations, onto the world's poor and onto the world's developing nations. It is not right. Canada has an obligation to play a leadership role and take care of things at home as we help the world transition to a low-carbon economy.
If we move forward with a plan to put a price on pollution, there are also economic benefits. Again, citing the example of British Columbia, there has been a net job gain in that province as a result of its aggressive plan to tackle climate change. The Government of Saskatchewan, in an attempt to gain political support for its fight against the plan, commissioned a report that showed there would be a very limited economic impact. It then tried to bury the report; it did not want the evidence to get out because it conflicted with its ideological narrative that carbon pricing would somehow damage the economy. The reverse is true. It can help spur innovation and take advantage of the new green economy, which Mark Carney has flagged as representing a $26-trillion opportunity globally. If Canada is on the front end of that wave, we can expect to have more jobs in our communities as the world transitions to a global low-carbon economy.
I want to touch on affordability in particular, because this is front of mind for me. In my constituency office, the power company is on speed dial, because so many constituents come to my office not knowing where to turn. We know the cost of living has gone up over time. That is why we are trying to tackle those measures. Poverty has come down by 20%, which means 825,000 Canadians are not living in poverty today who were when we took office in 2015. The allegation that we are somehow seeking to make life more expensive is not true.
We understand the struggles of Canadian families who live in Pictou County, or Antigonish or on the eastern shore, places I represent. These are important issues that we need to tackle. That is why we are moving forward, not just with a plan to address climate change that can make life more affordable, but also by introducing measures like the Canada child benefit, which puts more money in the pockets of nine out of 10 Canadian families and stops sending child care cheques to millionaire families that, frankly, did not need it.
We have moved forward with a boost to the guaranteed income supplement, which puts more money in the pockets of low-income single seniors, some of the most vulnerable folk in the communities I represent, with up to $947 extra a year. That is why we moved forward with a tax cut for nine million middle-class Canadians and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1%.
Each of these measures was opposed by the official opposition. To hear them now criticize a plan based on the fact that it will make life more expensive creates some serious cognitive dissonance considering that they voted against all the measures that were making life more affordable.
In particular, this plan, as I have explained a number of times during these remarks, will also put more money in the pockets of eight out of 10 families in systems in which it applies. We worked with provinces for years leading up to the implementation of this system. In provinces like mine, Nova Scotia, there is in fact no federal price on carbon. It has come up with a cap-and-trade system that impacts about 20 major industrial polluters and places a modest surcharge on fuel. Nova Scotia's plan was accepted because it showed that it was taking seriously the threat that climate change constitutes.
It is only in provinces that would not come to the table with a serious plan that we are moving forward with it. We do not believe it should be free to pollute the atmosphere anywhere in Canada. The atmosphere belongs to all of us. When people operate industrial facilities that degrade that atmosphere, they should be liable to every Canadian for the damage they have done. That is why they are paying a price on pollution, and that is why citizens deserve the rebate that is paid out of these revenues.
None of this money is being kept by the federal government, contrary to what some of the Conservative members have suggested. If they have problems with the tax being kept by governments on the price of gas, I suggest they speak to some of the Conservative premiers who are currently railing against our plan to put a price on pollution. Those premiers have the ability to take the tax off gas and allow families to keep their hard-earned money. We are making polluters pay and giving that money directly to families.
The great thing is that we can see job growth when we move forward with an ambitious plan to fight climate change. In my community, there are examples like the Trinity group of companies, which is doing incredible work in energy efficiency. It started out with a couple of guys who were really good contractors. They realized an incentive was put in place by different governments, which we have since bolstered at the federal level over the past few years, to help homeowners reduce the costs of energy efficient products, whether smart thermostats, better doors and windows or more efficient heating systems. They use the products that have come down as a result of publicly funded rebates, which are helping homeowners bring their costs of living down by reducing their power bill each month. They have added dozens of positions to their organization.
In the community of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, companies like CarbonCure have developed carbon sequestration technologies that pull carbon out of the atmosphere to inject into concrete products to strengthen them for use in construction.
Speaking of construction, Canada's Building Trades Union has pointed out that as we upgrade our buildings and infrastructure, there is a potential opportunity to create four million new green jobs by embracing the green economy and fighting climate change. Those are serious numbers that will have a real impact on the GDP of Canadians. More important, for families, it is a job that people maybe could not get in the community they came from, so they may not have to move.
These are real, meaningful, human examples that are making a difference, not just for our economy but for families.
The motion on the floor suggests that we repeal our price on pollution and implement a real plan. I would like to draw to the attention of the House to the fact that there is so much more to our plan than this one policy onto which the Conservatives have latched. In fact, there are over 50 measures. I am happy to lay a few of them out for the House.
By 2030, and not many Canadians appreciate this, we are on track to have 90% of our electricity in the country generated from non-emitting resources. That is remarkable. We have made the single largest investment in public transit in the history of our country. This will encourage more Canadians to take public transit rather than drive their cars, so we can become more efficient and life can be made more convenient at the same time. We are phasing out coal. We are investing in energy efficiency. We are investing in green technology.
At St. Francis Xavier University, of which I am a proud alumnus, the flux lab, with Dr. David Risk, is developing instrumentation that is putting researchers to work. It has been commercialized because the oil and gas sector has realized that by using this instrumentation, it can detect gas leaks at a distance and increase its production without increasing its emissions. It is capturing gas that is currently leaking out of its infrastructure.
We are moving forward with these serious things.
In addition, we are implementing new regulations on methane to help reduce the fastest-growing contributor to global GHG emissions.
On the same piece, pursuant to the Montreal protocol, in Kigali, we have adopted a single new measure that will result in a reduction of methane emissions which will have the equivalent of a 0.5° reduction in emissions on its own. We are also adopting a clean fuel standard and vehicle emissions standards.
We are moving forward with the most ambitious plan in Canadian history to protect nature in Canada. This is serious. We need to take the opportunity before us to do something to protect our threatened ecosystems. With over $1.3 billion invested in protecting nature, we will more than double the protected spaces across our country.
Of course, we recently announced we would be moving forward with a ban on our harmful single-use plastics. At the same time, we are putting the responsibility of managing the life cycle of those products on manufacturers.
Most of these policies have a few things in common. They will help reduce our emissions and protect our environment, yet the Conservatives oppose them every step of the way. I have taken hundreds of questions in question period about our plan for the environment. Not once have I received a question from the Conservatives about what more we could do for the environment. It is always an attempt to do a less.
The fact is that we cannot turn back the clock. I look forward to seeing the Conservative plan tomorrow. When I hear the kind of commentary from members of Parliament on their side, it gives me great cause for concern. I doubt whether we can even start the conversation about what solutions are most appropriate when I hear comments that deny climate change is primarily due to human activity. This is not a time to be debating the reality of climate change; it is a time to be debating solutions and, more important, implementing solutions.
I want to encourage everyone at home to start pulling in the same direction. If people have children, they should talk to them at the dinner table. It is the most effective thing they can do to help change their minds about the importance of climate change. The kids are all right. They know what is going on and they want us to take action.
If people have the opportunity to take part in a community cleanup, to take part in a solo or co-operative cleanup, to take part in whatever is going on in their community, I urge them to embrace it. We are running out of time. We want to implement a solution to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. I only hope the Conservatives get on board.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2019-06-17 17:17 [p.29206]
Mr. Speaker, climate change is real. It is primarily driven by human activity, and we are experiencing very serious consequences as a result today.
There is no doubt in my mind that the challenge relating to climate change constitutes an emergency here in Canada. I am so proud to lend my support to the motion on the floor of the House of Commons to declare an emergency in respect of climate change in our country. We need not panic, because we can be optimistic. We know that the solutions to this existential threat are before us, if we can simply muster the political will to implement the solutions that we know very well exist today.
Over the course of my remarks, I hope to offer some insight into the nature of the consequences we are experiencing, to give some of my insights on the opportunity that could be garnered if we embrace climate change as an economic growth strategy, and to perhaps provide some additional insight, for any of those listening, into the political dynamic that we are facing today as we approach the next election with climate change being a central issue of importance to the campaign.
To begin, I do want to address some of the consequences that we are facing, but perhaps before, although it seems trite to say so, it is important to explain the science behind how we know climate change is real. The recent report from Environment Canada, “Canada's Changing Climate Report”, signals that Canada is experiencing warming at twice the rate of the global average. In some parts of our country, it is five times that rate.
The consequences that we are seeing are apparent in our communities. This science has been corroborated for decades by groups like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A majority of the world scientists who are studying climate change acknowledge not only that it is happening, but a primary driver of what is happening is human industrial activity. It is incumbent upon us to take action if we are going to avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change that we are seeing.
Though I probably do not have to explain to many in this room, we can observe these consequences in our community. If we look at my home province of Nova Scotia, we deal with increased storm surges and hurricanes. The report I mentioned, “Canada's Changing Climate Report”, flags that the city of Halifax in my home province of Nova Scotia in the next few decades is going to experience floods at four times the rate it does today.
We look at our colleagues from New Brunswick, who I have had numerous conversations with about the floods that their province has been experiencing. We have seen pictures circulating on social media of highway signs that are completely submerged under water. We can look at a few years ago in Quebec and Ontario, and we see the heat waves that took dozens of lives. We can see the forest fires in western Canada. We can see the melting of our glaciers in northern Canada. There is not a community in our country that has not been impacted by the environmental consequences of climate change.
It is important to acknowledge that it is not just environmental consequences that we are experiencing as a result of climate change, there are social, health and economic consequences as well. When I see communities next to coal plants, we can observe a higher rate of childhood asthma. There is increased lung and heart disease in communities. In fact, there is a physical threat to many folks, like those who had to flee the fires in Fort McMurray.
The fact is we know that these consequences are having an impact. In addition, we can point to the changing patterns and migration of infectious diseases. I know ticks have become a much bigger problem in Nova Scotia. They were not when I was a kid. With them, we are seeing a similarly rising level of Lyme disease in my home province.
The fact is, we can observe these changes. There are social consequences, like communities physically being displaced, the impact on wildlife that communities have traditionally hunted, indigenous and non-indigenous alike. We are seeing consequences that are changing our weather patterns, our climate systems that are changing the way that we have to live and forcing us out of the habits and traditions we have practised for generations.
If the environmental, social or health consequences are not enough to inspire action, we can see the economic losses that we are experiencing today. If we look at the data from the insurance sector in Canada, we see that they are starting to change the way that they assess the risk of climate change. I take it that most people here would accept that the insurance sector is doing what it is in the best interests of its bottom line.
From the time of the mid-1980s until 2008 or so, the average payout in the insurance sector for severe weather events in Canada was between $250 million and $450 million. Since that time, the average has climbed to about $1.8 billion, exceeding $2 billion most recently. That number is projected to grow. This is having an impact on the cost of insurance.
There are some homes that simply will not be able to be insured. There are provinces and communities in Canada that are spending taxpayer dollars to help relocate families from homes that are no longer in a safe area, places that used to have 100-year floods once every 100 years are now having them every few years.
The fact is there is something happening, and those who are watching their pocketbooks very closely are changing their behaviour. They are reflecting a new reality.
It is not just the insurance sector. Members should look at the costs to municipalities paid for by by local ratepayers of building out flood mitigation infrastructure, for example. That cost is borne by taxpayers. The cost of inaction is simply too great to ignore.
However, it is not all bad news because we actually see an enormous opportunity to invest in the measures that are going to help deal with the consequences of climate change. Canada's Building Trades' projection is that as many as four million jobs for the Canadian economy could be added if we embrace new building codes that would actually bring us up to a standard that can help us reduce our emissions.
I have companies in my own community like the Trinity Group of Companies that have embraced energy efficiency as an economic growth strategy. It started out with a couple of great guys from home who were pretty handy and were able to do some local contracting work. Due to investments of successive provincial governments, we have actually seen energy efficiency take hold and homeowners who want to save on their power bills hire a company to come in, conduct an energy audit and make their home more efficient. It has grown from an operation with just a couple of guys into an organization that has dozens of employees and is present across the entire Atlantic region.
There are incredible world-leading companies like CarbonCure in Dartmouth that are delivering incredible products when it comes to carbon sequestration, pulling the carbon emissions out of our atmosphere and using it to strengthen products we need like concrete. Another company, just five minutes from where I live today, is MacKay Meters. It has secured a patent to build electric vehicle charging stations into their parking meters. This is truly innovative stuff that is going to help change the world that we live in.
Of course, the value that we gain from researchers who are working in our communities, researchers like Dr. David Risk at the FluxLab at StFX University in Antigonish, is actually developing instrumentation that can help detect gas and methane leaks in oil and gas infrastructure across Canada. He is commercializing this technology, not only to make a profit but to continue doing more research, keeping young people employed in a rural community that has a university that I represent.
There is also a missed economic opportunity if we do not address the worst consequences of climate change. I represent a province that relies heavily on the fishery in order to sustain the smaller communities that dot the coast of Nova Scotia. What we have seen take place in Maine over the past few years, a loss of 22 million pounds in their lobster catch, would be devastating if and when it comes to Nova Scotia, and if we continue to see the acidification and warming of our oceans off Nova Scotia. We can only expect that the lobsters will either move or suffocate inside the waters where they traditionally live and sustain a local economy.
In western Canada, we saw an enormous dip in production in the energy sector when forest fires that are linked to climate change ravaged parts of western Canada. The fact is that we can look at any province and see that.
In the Prairie region, the agricultural sector is under threat. I met with a young researcher, who did a master's thesis on the impact of climate change on agriculture in the Prairie provinces, recognizing that the Prairies are in the rain shadow of the Rockies and do not benefit from some of the weather that helps make our soil fertile, essentially large amounts of rain. They rely heavily instead on the spring melt that comes from our glaciers. When they finally disappear, there may be insufficient water and increased droughts that prevent our agricultural sector from growing.
These are very real and obvious risks, if we just take the time to speak with people who have been studying them. Frankly, we need to take this opportunity because the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, a Canadian, has identified that there is a $26-trillion opportunity in clean growth and Canada should be on the front end of that wave so that we can capitalize on not just the growth but the jobs that come with that growth. We can do the right thing and do the smart thing at the same time.
However, it is difficult to have discussions in this chamber and in Ottawa when it comes to climate policy, because the starting point is not only that we need to address the problem and do something about it. Sometimes we have to turn back the clock and prove the science to one another before we can have a meaningful debate. To me this is completely unacceptable.
What Canadians are going to face come October is a choice between a Liberal government that is advancing an ambitious agenda, trying their best to fight climate change and making a meaningful difference, not only to reduce our emissions but to capitalize on clean growth opportunities, and a Conservative Party that has refused to put forward a plan on climate change to date, despite their leader saying more than a year ago that he was going to find a plan that would comply with the Paris Agreement targets.
With respect, the Conservative Party has said it is going to be releasing their plan later this week. I do not have much hope that it will be worth the paper that it is written on. When I look at some of the Conservative members who would have informed that plan, it gives me great trepidation. We have seen members identify piles of snow in western Canada in February to suggest that that is evidence that global warming is not taking place.
Some Conservatives have indicated that the phenomenon of rising global temperatures is simply like folks walking into a room and their bodies giving off heat. We have seen other members suggest to school children in Alberta that CO2 is not pollution but plant food. Just recently, one of the caucus member sitting in the Senate indicated that a recent power outage was due to the Prime Minister of Canada's anti-energy policies.
The Conservatives are saying we should retreat from the global conversation on climate change by withdrawing from the Paris agreement. Even the the leader of the Conservatives and deputy leader have recently tweeted articles, suggesting that the link between climate change and severe weather events has not been proven.
If this is the kind of information feeding into the plans that are developing, I have great disappointment in advance of the plan being released if these are the kinds of conversations that are taking place behind the scenes.
We know that the Conservatives' provincial counterparts are pushing forward the same kind of laissez-faire attitude when it comes to climate change. The Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, has advanced a policy dismantling flood protection and then has shown up at flood zones and said, “I wonder what could possibly be going on.” He has set aside $30 million to fight climate action, rather than take action on climate change. That money could make a difference. He has launched a frivolous campaign to post stickers on gas stations. At the same time, he purports to support free speech. This makes no sense.
The climate economists who have been covering this issue are suggesting that his plan is not only going to slow down our reduction in emissions, but it is going to be more expensive for households as well.
With respect to my NDP colleagues, I have a lot time for their ideas, because I know they care about climate change and protecting the environment. However, I do have reservations about the policy suggestions they have advanced. I think we can work together to accomplish certain ideas, but others have very serious problems that need to be addressed.
In some of the commentary I have heard around our plan to put a price on pollution, NDP members have indicated that big emitters are exempt. This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what is going on. The NDP has advanced a plan that would put a price on big emitters, but, as the Ecofiscal Commission has pointed out, it would not lead to a reduction in emissions globally, because it would simply encourage polluters to leave Canada and pollute elsewhere even more. This would hurt the Canadian economy and would not contribute to our emissions reduction efforts.
Other examples from the NDP include the declaration that we need to immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies. We need to take action on fossil fuel subsidies, do not get me wrong. In fact, to date, we have phased out eight that were embedded in the tax code. However, the blanket ban the NDP proposed on this specific issue would lead to fundamental consequences, which are certainly unintended, because the plan was not very well thought through.
Examples include the denial of subsidies that support diesel to northern and remote indigenous communities, which rely on diesel for electricity, and the denial of subsidies for the potential research I mentioned at the flux lab at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. Some of the products being developed with those research funds are going to reduce emissions in the oil and gas sector. Similarly, the NDP plans would deny the opportunity for us to invest in certain infrastructure that is helping us transition from gas and diesel-powered vehicles toward alternative fuelled vehicles.
I am happy to work with my colleagues in different parties to advance ideas that make sense. However, we cannot make statements that they will work before we have actually thought them through.
I would like to take some time to mention some of the actions we have taken to date.
We are facing a climate emergency, and a lot of attention has been given to our plan in this place with respect to putting a price on pollution. However, we are not a one-trick pony. Our plan has over 50 measures that would help to bring emissions down.
I want to take a moment to discuss our plan to put a price on pollution to educate the public on how it works. It is pretty simple. If something is more expensive, people buy less of it. When it comes to carbon pricing, every penny generated from revenues related to the price on pollution is kept within the province where the pollution is generated. Those revenues are directly returned to residents living within those provinces.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer has stated in a public report that because of the structure of this kind of a plan, eight out of 10 families can expect to be better off. They will receive more money than the price on pollution costs them. The number of families that will be out of pocket will be a modest amount, but they will be among the 20% wealthiest Canadians living in provinces where our plan applies.
This is not some hare-brained idea born simply out of the Liberal caucus in Ottawa. It has broad-based support among anyone who has any expertise in the conversation about climate change and economics. In fact, last year's Nobel Prize winner in economics won the Nobel Prize for developing an approach to climate change that would do exactly what the federal government's plan is doing: put a price on pollution and return the rebates directly to households so the majority of folks are left better off.
It is not just Nobel laureates and Liberal politicians who support this plan. Mark Cameron, the former director of policy for Prime Minister Harper, is behind this kind of an approach. In fact, Doug Ford's chief budget adviser testified in the Senate in this Parliament that the number one thing we could do to transition to a low-carbon economy was to put a price on pollution.
Most recently, the Pope made statements, just this last weekend, indicating that carbon pricing was essential. He said, “For too long we have collectively failed to listen to the fruits of scientific analysis, and doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.”
When I talk to people in my community, particularly young people, I see them advocating for the kind of change that all of these different folks have been suggesting we should be taking for so long.
Let us look at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal case that recently dealt with the constitutionality of the federal government's backstop that implemented a price on pollution. The court said that carbon pricing was not just part and parcel of an effective plan to reduce emissions; it said it was “an essential aspect...of the global effort to limit GHG emissions.” It put the word “essential” in italics so folks like us who are sitting in this chamber would pay extra close attention to the importance of advancing this important mechanism, which we know to be the most effective thing we can do to bring down our emissions.
However, we are not a one-trick pony. We are advancing measures to phase out coal. By 2030, 90% of the electricity in our country will be generated from non-emitting resources. We are making the single largest investment in the history of public transit. We are making record investments in energy efficiency to support companies that are advancing green technology. We are changing methane regulations to reduce the fastest-growing sources of GHG emissions that are driving climate change today. We have adopted new vehicle emissions standards. We are working on a clean fuel standard.
We are also taking steps to protect nature. I know Canadians, the ones who I represent in Central Nova, have demanded that we take action to protect nature and to eliminate plastics from our marine environment. We put forward a $1.5-billion oceans protection plan early in our mandate.
More recent, we announced that we were moving forward with a ban on harmful single-use plastics. We are putting the responsibility to deal with the life cycle of those plastic products on the manufacturers rather than on the end user. We expect that this is going to create economic opportunities in the plastics industry. At the same time, we prevent the discharge of harmful materials into our environment and in particular into our marine environment.
I want to spend a minute of the few I have left talking briefly about the impact that climate change and human activity have had on nature.
Since the 1970s, the earth has lost about 60% of its wildlife. This should shock the conscience of every Canadian. Let us look at the largest countries in the world. Canada is one of five countries that represents about three-quarters of the world's remaining wilderness. We have an opportunity and an obligation to address this issue. We are seeing the impacts today with some of our most iconic species.
Caribou herds across Canada are suffering because of immense deforestation. We have seen the southern resident killer whale population dwindle in recent history. We have a number of other species at risk. Globally, it is expected that one million of eight million species in the world are at serious threat of extinction if we do not change direction.
I have spent a lot of time dealing with the southern mountain caribou. In British Columbia right now, there are population units that have just a handful of animals left. They have been there for thousands of years but will disappear. We have made the single largest investment in the history of Canada to protect nature by more than doubling our protected spaces.
However, we know that it is not enough and we know we need help to get there. We need every Canadian to be pulling in the same direction. The time to come together is now. People who are living in a community that has a solar co-op can figure out how they can take part. If they want to take part in a community cleanup, they are doing something. Through collective global action, we can make a difference. Quite frankly, we do not have a choice. It is the smart thing to do and it is in our self-interest.
I am proud to speak in favour of this motion to recognize that we face a climate emergency. I am even prouder to work as part of a government that is doing its best to do something about it.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-06-17 18:44 [p.29220]
Madam Speaker, I want to be clear on what the Green Party would do in this light.
My understanding is that the Green Party is opposed to fossil fuels, that it would oppose building additional pipelines, that it is in favour of the carbon tax and against the use of plastics. Is that correct?
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2019-06-17 18:44 [p.29220]
That is correct up to a point, Madam Speaker. My hon. friend from Sarnia will find our policies both in “Vision Green”, which is on our website in deep detail, and “Mission: Possible”, which is intended to be that ambitious rally call for Canadians to go off fossil fuels. Any fossil fuel infrastructure expansion is inconsistent with our own planetary survival and continuation of human civilization.
We are not against the use of all plastics. That is the one place where I would disagree with my colleague. We think that bitumen production can be changed from fossil fuel production to feedstock for petrochemicals, particularly for durable plastics, not single-use plastics.
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
2019-06-13 14:14 [p.29058]
Mr. Speaker, the disastrous effects of climate change demand immediate action. This is our generation's biggest challenge. My constituents in Outremont and Mile-End feel the same. I have listened to them and we responded. Our government just strengthened our plan for the environment.
We are banning single-use plastics in two years, including plastic cutlery and plastic food wrapping. Eighty-seven per cent of these plastics are not being recycled. They are instead found in our lakes, in our rivers and in our parks.
I know some think this is a very bold measure, but we need to be bold. It is our responsibility in this House to consider the future of our country and to protect the planet for our children and our grandchildren.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-11 14:38 [p.28919]
Mr. Speaker, after months of the NDP calling for a ban on single-use plastics, the Liberal government has finally announced a proposal that still does not name which plastics will be banned. Canadians are finding the Liberals' commitment to ban plastics hard to believe, when just last year, they handed a $35-million grant to a company to expand plastics production.
When Liberals keep subsidizing the plastics industry, how can Canadians know that this is not just another empty promise?
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Catherine McKenna Profile
2019-06-11 14:39 [p.28919]
Mr. Speaker, I was very happy yesterday to announce with the Prime Minister that we will be taking action to ban harmful single-use plastics. We know we have a problem. We have too much plastics in our oceans, our lakes and our rivers, and we can do better. We know that we can take action on plastic straws and plastic bags, that we can innovate and we can reduce our plastics.
I appreciate the member opposite's advocacy, but we are not just taking talk, we are taking action, and I am very pleased with what we did yesterday.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to speak to this important issue today.
I want to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for bringing Bill S-203 to the House. The bill looks at the reality of phasing out the captivity of dolphins, whales and porpoises.
The riding that I represent, North Island—Powell River, is along the ocean, and these are beings that we live with. That interaction is very important to us. I think of the times I have spent watching this wildlife engage with us in their free natural state. It is important that we are talking about this issue here today.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank my caucus colleague, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, for his dedication to the country's oceans, rivers and streams. His commitment to protecting the wildlife that lives within them has resonated with people across Canada. He will not be sitting in the House with us much longer, so it is important to acknowledge the work he has done on files like this one.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has always had a special place in my heart because he represents the area where I grew up. I really respect his connection with the communities in that largest of ridings in British Columbia.
A couple of weeks ago, the member came to my riding to talk about his private member's bill on zero-waste packaging. That issue is a huge concern in my riding. Packaging made of plastic takes so long to deteriorate and we know the impact it is having on our oceans.
Without that member's work we would not be standing here today debating Bill S-203. I understand that he is working with the minister right now to push forward his important piece of legislation around zero-waste packaging. It deals with an important issue to make sure we do not fill our landfills with plastics anymore.
If it were not for the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley accepting a letter from me, the member for Courtenay—Alberni, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, our colleague from Victoria and Laurel Collins asking him to give up his spot on today's private members' hour, we would not be debating this bill today. I want to acknowledge that and thank him for continuing to work so hard on his zero waste packaging legislation. He will not give up, which is something that I appreciate deeply about the member.
Bill S-203 proposes to phase out the captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Canada, except in situations like rehabilitation or rescue.
New Democrats will always support the ethical and useful research of these beings in the water, but the research can take place in the wild. Scientists in the wild environment can get a realistic view of the natural behaviours of these animals without causing a lifetime of pain and suffering, which we know is the reality when they are held in captivity.
What we have heard from scientists is that these beings suffer in confinement. They suffer a sense of isolation, serious health problems, reduced lifespans, high infant mortality rates, sensory deprivation, as well as trauma from the transfer to other parks and calf separation.
This bill speaks to an important issue where we can get it right and do the right thing. Given the evidence, captive facilities cannot provide for these beings' social or biological needs.
Keeping them in captivity is cruel. They are intelligent social animals. They are acoustically sensitive marine beings that spend their time in the vast oceans. They dive deep down to places many of us will never see.
When we look at their freedom in the wild, to swim freely, to dive deeply, when we think about their confinement, it is so much less. We have heard it is less than 1% of the range that they are used to. Can members imagine that? None of us in this place can imagine being in our environment, doing the things that we do, and suddenly being put into a small box and told that we have to be successful and perform for other people. We cannot ask these beings to do that.
It reminds me of what Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, do better.” This is an opportunity in this House to move forward because we now know better, so it is time for us to do better.
Unlike many issues, this really is not a partisan issue. It is a moral issue. It is a bill that is supported by science. We know that whales, porpoises and dolphins in captivity suffer in a way that cannot be justifiable. We know that this bill, Bill S-203, is a reasonable one. It is a balanced piece of legislation. It grandfathers the process and it gives zoos and aquariums time to phase out this practice. This is the right thing to do and I hope everyone in this House takes the opportunity to support this.
When we think about the grandfathering process out of captivity that Bill S-203 proposes, we know it will do important things. It will ban live captures under the Fisheries Act, except for rescues when some being out there needs help. Currently, captures are legal if they are licensed. We all need to pause and take a moment to think about what that means. We know that the last capture that happened was belugas near Churchill in 1992, so it is a practice that is not being implemented. However, the fact that it is still there is very concerning, and this bill would remove it.
Bill S-203 also bans imports and exports, except if licensed for scientific research. This is a hard one, but we want to see an open water sanctuary. We want to see the process happen in a way that is best for the whale, the dolphin or the porpoise. We want to make sure it is under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. These are important factors that this bill can bring forward.
Finally, this bill would ban breeding under the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code. This is also very important.
Right now there is a bill before the Senate, Bill C-68, that would prohibit the captures but it would not restrict imports or exports by law nor would it ban breeding. This is why we need this bill. This is why I will be supporting it. This is the action that needs to be taken to complete what is happening already.
Twenty marine mammal biologists from around the world released a letter supporting Bill S-203. They said, “At a minimum, the maintenance of odontocetes [toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises] in commercial captive display facilities for entertainment purposes is no longer supported or justified by the growing body of science on their biological needs.”
We know it is the right thing to do and it is time to make sure that people have the opportunity to see these beautiful animals in the wild, to respect what they need and to create a new relationship. Keeping them enclosed is not the right way to go.
When we look at the wild, we know that dolphins, whales and porpoises travel up to 100 miles daily feeding and socializing with other members of their pods. The pods can contain hundreds of individuals with complex social bonds and hierarchies. That is their natural state. In captivity they are in small enclosures and unable to swim in a straight line for any distance. They do not have the ability to dive deep. Sometimes they are housed alone or housed with other animals they are not naturally used to being with. When we look at that isolation with this concern in mind, we know this is the right thing to do.
I look forward to seeing support from all members in this House. We can do the right thing. Today is the day and I look forward to seeing a positive vote.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-10 11:26 [p.28782]
Mr. Speaker, it is a huge honour to speak today in the House of Commons. With this bill and with the support of my hon. colleagues, Canada is on the cusp of making history and ending cetacean captivity and making sure it is a thing of the past. Not only is this important to me, but it is important to the people of my riding, to people right across this country from coast to coast to coast, to countless environmental stewards who have fought hard on this issue, and certainly to the Nuu-chah-nulth people and indigenous people across this country.
I have heard from many of them. Many Nuu-chah-nulth people see the orca, in their language the kakaw’in, as a spirit animal and as an animal that is a reflection of their ancestors. To think of their ancestors being held in captivity is certainly something they do not want to see happen again.
If we pass this bill, it would do a couple of things. First, it would give us credibility and legitimacy to take it even further, to push for a global ban on having cetaceans held in captivity. We know that cetaceans held in captivity suffer in a way that is not justifiable. Bill S-203 is a reasonable, balanced piece of legislation.
Let us look at the life of a captive whale, dolphin or porpoise. In captivity, conditions are spartan and prison-like. Cetaceans suffer confinement, isolation, health problems, reduced lifespans, high infant mortality rates, sensory deprivation and trauma from transfer to other parks and calf separation. Given the evidence, captive facilities cannot provide for their social or biological needs. They need to roam widely and dive deep in order to thrive. The range of captive orcas is only 1/10,000th of 1% the size of their natural home range, and 80% of their time is spent at the surface, looking for food and attention from their trainers, who make the choices for them when they are held in captivity. Captive-born animals are often forcibly weaned and shipped to other facilities, away from their mothers and the only companions they have ever known. It creates unnecessary trauma. It is cruel.
Let us compare that to wild cetaceans. They spend approximately 80% to 90% of their time under the water. They have the freedom to make their own choices, sometimes travelling up to 100 miles per day, following food and the members of their family. Many of these species, like the orcas, live in complex societies with their own cultures and dialects, maintaining close ties with family and friends. Some remain in family groups for life. For wild orcas, their pod is critical to their survival.
I want to add that I am excited that we just had a baby orca in the pod off Tofino, witnessed by my good friends Jennifer Steven and John Forde. It is another reminder of the importance of our orcas being able to roam freely in the wild and knowing that a baby orca will not be taken and put into captivity. It is a relief to all of us.
We know that keeping cetaceans is cruel, given the scientific evidence about their nature and behaviour. They are intelligent, social and acoustically sensitive marine animals.
New Democrats believe in the power of research, and we know that the continued study of cetaceans can be done ethically in the wild. There, scientists can get a realistic view of their natural behaviours without causing a lifetime of pain and suffering.
Our party also understands the need for legislation to be measured, and Bill S-203 does balance a fair transition for the two remaining facilities that hold captive cetaceans. It grandfathers in existing animals and gives the zoo and aquarium community a long phase-out period. It is not asking these facilities to close overnight. Certainly we will not be supporting the movement of cetaceans or sale of cetaceans anywhere from those facilities.
There are a few people we need to thank today. First of all, we need to thank the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who brought their voice to all elected officials, whether in the House of Commons or in the Senate, calling for this legislation to be passed; the environmental groups and animal rights organizations for mobilizing people; and indigenous communities for raising their concerns, which led to the bill and today's debate.
Also, there are people in the House whom we need to thank, for coming together and showing this is not a partisan issue; it is a moral issue. First, I want to thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley. He had a very important piece of legislation to end zero-waste packaging, with which we hope the government will move forward. It made some announcements today in response to my motion, Motion No. 151, around phasing out single-use plastics. I would like to congratulate the government on that first step, and I look forward to seeing more momentum and movement, especially around industrial-use plastics, and rethinking how we use plastics.
I thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley because his bill was supposed to be in the House today, and he gave up his spot so we could move forward with this piece of legislation, knowing the only way we could save it was for it to be in the House today. I also want to thank Terrace's Ben Korving. He is the one who helped my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley bring the bill forward on zero-waste packaging through a contest held in his riding to ensure Canadians' voices were heard in the House. We have not lost sight of Ben's work. We have ensured the government heard the proposal that Ben brought forward. I want to thank them both.
In that same spirit, I want to thank my colleague and friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands for the considerable work she has done on this issue and the stewardship she has shown by taking on this bill, working with us to find a path forward and showing a non-partisan approach when it comes to ensuring we do the right thing for cetaceans, which do not have a voice. We are their voice and this is an opportunity to demonstrate what we are going to do to look out for them.
I want to thank my colleague and friend from Port Moody—Coquitlam, the former vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, who helped move this bill through committee and worked very hard on it. I also want to thank my friend and colleague, the chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the member for Avalon, who has done some great work to help ensure the passage of this bill. I really mean that, because without his help, working with all of us in the House, we would not have got this done. I commend him for his work on that.
This bill would not have made it this far without the courageous and bold efforts of Senator Wilfred Moore. We sometimes raise concerns about the Senate, and I certainly have my doubts right now on a number of pieces of legislation, so I will take it away from the Senate and give it to a human being who is a huge champion, and that is retired senator Wilfred Moore. He has been a champion of this bill. He tabled this bill in the Senate and stayed on this bill even beyond his retirement, showing his dedication and commitment, and we owe him a round of applause. I thank him for being completely committed and devoted to seeing this through.
I thank Senator Murray Sinclair for taking on and championing this bill in the Senate, bringing the really important wealth of indigenous knowledge and his connections across this country and ensuring those voices were also heard in the Senate.
In closing, I hope this bill passes very quickly. I thank the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have been the voice of cetaceans, which do not have a voice, and look forward to Canada having legitimacy and credibility on the international stage when it comes to fighting for cetaceans and ending the captivity of whales internationally. I hope that is the next step for our country.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2019-06-10 11:46 [p.28785]
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to speak today during the final hour of debate after several years of work on a bill that is important to the world's whales.
I am particularly honoured to rise this morning because we are at the point that most members in this place appear ready to see this legislation pass. The legislation was first brought forward in the last few days of the Senate sitting of 2015. It has been, to put it mildly, a long haul.
The hon. member just raised concerns, and I think all concerns by my colleagues in this place are legitimate. However, it is important for anyone watching this debate to recognize that the bill is based on science.
Many scientists testified as to why it is critical that we stop keeping cetaceans in captivity. We understand why. They are obviously not akin to livestock, for instance. Cetaceans require the ocean. They require the space. They require acoustic communication over long distances. The scientists who testified before the committee who made the case so strongly made it based on science.
Yes, Canadians care. Yes, the school children who wrote to us in the thousands were not moved by the science; they were moved because they see movies and nature films and they understand that whales, dolphins and porpoises are of a different character than other animals.
I would reassure my friend that we could not just substitute the name for another species. Bill S-203 is firmly tied to the Fisheries Act. I do not think we would find any horses in the wild in the ocean. We have tied it down legislatively in such a way that others should not worry that there will be a creeping effect.
In the time remaining, I want to say how grateful I am for the non-partisan spirit. It has been my entire honour to be the sponsor of this legislation in the House. I am enormously grateful to my colleagues.
I mentioned the scientists. Let me thank Dr. Visser, who testified at committee, coming in by Skype from New Zealand in the days right after the Christchurch killings. It was an emotional time for everyone. I would also like to thank Dr. Naomi Rose, and from Dalhousie University, Dr. Hal Whitehead. Phil Demers, a former whale trainer at Marineland, offered excellent real-life testimony as to the cruelty of keeping whales in captivity.
Certainly Senator Wilfred Moore and Senator Murray Sinclair have done an enormous amount to help. So too has the government representative in the Senate, Senator Harder.
I also want to thank the Minister of Fisheries and his predecessor for taking companion elements in Bill S-203 and embedding them in Bill C-68. Bill C-68, the reform of the Fisheries Act, remains before the Senate.
I want to take a moment to urge all colleagues in the other place to move Bill C-68 through. I also urge everyone here, if there are amendments, to move Bill C-68 through, because the Fisheries Act is critically important on many scores, as well as being companion legislation to Bill S-203.
Again, in a non-partisan spirit, I want to thank the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, who we will miss in this place, and the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. I also want to mention his constituent, Ben Korving, who put forward the legislation regarding zero-waste packaging. I pledge, as leader of the Green Party, to take on Ben Korving's motion and make sure that it does not die in this place, because those members made a sacrifice to allow Bill S-203 to pass before we rise at the end of June.
I also want to thank the hon. member for Beaches—East York, a Liberal, and my friend from Courtenay—Alberni, who was gracious in his praise earlier.
Everyone pulled together on this. The member for Charlottetown, the parliamentary secretary, helped enormously.
I would once again like to thank my Bloc Québécois colleague, the member for Repentigny.
I know that there were Conservative colleagues who did what they could.
I cannot tell members how important this legislation is. I will close with a few words that we have not heard in this place before. They are from the book of Job. They are found in chapter 41, verse 1.
Behold, Behemoth,which I made as I made you;...He is the first of the works of God;...Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhookor press down his tongue with a cord?Can you put a rope in his noseor pierce his jaw with a hook?...Will traders bargain over him?Will they divide him up among the merchants?...On earth there is not his like,...He sees everything that is high;he is king over all the sons of pride.
To everyone in this place, let us think for a moment. We behold Leviathan. He belongs in the wild. He will never again be placed in a swimming pool in this country.
View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, plastic pollution is a global challenge that requires immediate action. Plastic waste ends up in our landfills and incinerators, litters our parks and beaches, and pollutes our rivers, lakes and oceans, entangling and killing turtles, fish and marine mammals.
Right now, less than 10% of plastic used in Canada gets recycled. We have reached a defining moment, and this is a problem we simply cannot afford to ignore.
Unlike the Conservatives, who have no plan for the environment, our government knows that we need to take action on this issue to protect our oceans, wildlife and planet.
Could the parliamentary secretary please update the House on the—
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2019-06-10 14:49 [p.28811]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member, as a fellow MP who represents coastal communities, for his advocacy to rid our oceans of plastic pollution.
We know that plastic pollution is choking our oceans and putting an undue burden on our marine environment. I was so pleased to hear the Prime Minister announce this morning that we would be moving forward with a ban on single-use harmful plastic products and implementing extended producer liability.
It is the 21st century. It is time we rid our oceans of this pollution once and for all.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-06 10:13 [p.28660]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by hundreds and hundreds of constituents from my riding of Courtenay—Alberni. They are from Courtenay, Parksville, Qualicum, Port Alberni, Tofino, Ucluelet and the other 31 communities in my riding. The petition calls on the government to follow through with its commitment after the unanimous support of the House for Motion No. 151 to develop a comprehensive plan to combat plastic pollution.
The petitioners are excited about the government's rolling it out this month, and hopefully all of the provisions that are outlined in this petition will be adopted.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2019-06-05 17:07 [p.28598]
Mr. Speaker, it my honour to present two petitions.
The first petition is an electronic petition with 9,676 signatures. The petitioners are calling for a national plastic strategy, which includes an education and public awareness campaign highlighting the scope and impact of global plastic pollution; a ban on the manufacturing, distribution and use of all plastics that cannot be recycled; a ban on all single-use plastics that are hard to recycle and most often end up in landfills and waterways; a commitment to encourage a circular plastics economy by keeping recyclable plastics out of landfills and instead reusing them in a closed-loop system, effectively saving billions in manufacturing costs while producing less water waste; a commitment to invest in the infrastructure on a municipal, provincial and federal level to collect, sort, process, recycle and reuse all plastic packaging; and a zero plastic waste Canada by 2030 by ensuring all plastic packaging is 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable.
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Catherine McKenna Profile
2019-05-16 10:27 [p.27911]
That the House recognize that: (a) climate change is a real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity, that impacts the environment, biodiversity, Canadians' health, and the Canadian economy; (b) Canadians are feeling the impacts of climate change today, from flooding, wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather events which are projected to intensify in the future; (c) climate change impacts communities across Canada, with coastal, northern and Indigenous communities particularly vulnerable to its effects; and (d) action to support clean growth and meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all parts of the economy are necessary to ensure a safer, healthier, cleaner and more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren; and, therefore, that the House declare that Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires, as a response, that Canada commit to meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement and to making deeper reductions in line with the Agreement's objective of holding global warming below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to address the House of Commons today with respect to our government's motion asking all parliamentarians, elected by Canadians from coast to coast to coast, to acknowledge and declare that climate change is an emergency, that the science behind climate change is clear and that we all need to come together to meet our international obligations.
Why do we need to do this?
Let us listen to Greta, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden. What did she say? She said, “Our house is falling apart, and our leaders need to start acting accordingly.” However, it is not just Greta who is standing up. Young people across Canada are demanding serious climate action from us, elected leaders, who have the ability to act.
Louis and Sara, from Quebec, organized the world's largest demonstration, and they are calling for government action on climate change.
Every Friday, Sophia from Sudbury is out on the streets for Fridaysforfuture. Amelia from my riding of Ottawa Centre is putting posters across Ottawa Centre talking about climate change.
Let me tell members about Carter.
Carter is a young Inuit boy from Cambridge Bay. I met him when I was on a ship in the High Arctic. He sat down beside me and said that he was worried about what he was seeing in his community. He thought that some of the impacts he was seeing were being caused by climate change.
I was lucky to be on a ship with my amazing Environment and Climate Change Canada scientists. I had one of them sit down with Carter. Carter started talking about what was happening in Cambridge Bay in his community. He talked about things that broke my heart. He talked about how when hunters went out to hunt, their feet would get stuck in thawing permafrost like quicksand. He talked about the caribou disappearing, the food on which his community relies. Then he said the saddest thing. He talked about how, after a millennia of hunting on snowmobiles, hunters were now falling through the ice because they could no longer tell its thickness.
We need to come together as a country. We need to join governments from around the world that recognize we are in a climate emergency and we need to act like it.
Today, I had the opportunity to present our scientists' report on climate change in Canada. This report shows that Canada is warming at twice the global rate and at three times that rate in the north.
That means our oceans are acidifying. That means we see more extreme weather events and we will continue to see more and feel the impacts.
The Arctic and North Atlantic oceans will lose their summer pack ice.
As sea levels rise, our coastal areas will flood even more.
I do not need to tell Canadians just about the science; let us talk about what is happening.
Right here, in the national capital region, we have seen the impacts of climate change. Three years ago there was a flood, a flood that was supposed to be a once-in-a-hundred-year flood, that devastated communities. Folks were out of their homes. People were sandbagging. People were worried they were losing their homes and livelihoods. They rebuilt. Then what happened?
Last year in the summer, tornados we had never seen before hit the same community. What happened this year? Now these folks are dealing with another flood. This is a flood that was only supposed to happen once in 100 years. Now we are seeing these events every few years.
We can also talk about what happened in Quebec last summer. Temperatures were so extreme that people died. They died because it was too hot.
Look at what happened out west. Forest fires are burning longer and brighter than ever before. These have real impacts on people. I talked to a mother who worried about whether her kids should go outside because the air quality index was 10 or higher, which meant it was dangerous.
We know the science behind climate change. We know the impacts. It is important that we now come together as a country and act. We may not always agree in the House about which solutions are best, but surely we can agree on the problem, that climate change is an emergency like none we have ever faced before and that we all need to do more to ensure a cleaner, more prosperous future for our kids and grandkids.
Everyone needs to do their part to combat climate change and build a cleaner future for our planet.
I am the second longest-serving environment minister, and it has been a huge honour. I often reflect on when I started this job. Two days into the job, we were off to the Paris climate negotiations. I was not alone. The Prime Minister was there. Members of the opposition were there. All parties were represented. Premiers, indigenous leaders, business leaders and young people were there. We fought for an ambitious Paris Agreement.
After a decade of inaction, after a decade of stalling on climate action, my colleagues told me they were happy Canada was back at the table to be serious about climate action.
That is what we did. We pushed and we made an ambitious agreement, with recognition of indigenous rights and recognition of the importance of the markets. Then we came back to Canada.
What did we do after that? We had our own work to do, because this is not just about signing an agreement with the world. We need to do our part. For a year, we negotiated with the provinces, territories and indigenous peoples. We heard from Canadians, businesses, environmentalists and youth.
We listened to Canadians. We negotiated for a whole year, and we came up with a made-in-Canada climate plan that was made by Canadians. That was a very proud moment, because we showed that we could be serious on climate change, that after a decade of inaction we could have a serious plan that brought folks together and took serious action to not only tackle climate change but to grow a clean economy. The reality is that we do not have to choose. The environment and the economy go together in the 21st century. However, that requires work. That requires finding solutions that are unique to Canada.
Let us talk about our climate plan.
Yes, it is no longer free to pollute. I was extremely proud when the Prime Minister announced that it was no longer free to pollute in the country, because if it is free to pollute, there will be more pollution. We are giving the money back to people, because we know life needs to be affordable. We can do both. We can put a price on pollution to reduce emissions and put more money in people's pockets so they can have choices and can be part of the solution when it comes to tackling climate change.
We invested historic amounts in public transportation. We were the only party to say that those investments needed to be made.
Now we have public transit projects across the country. Right here in Ottawa, light rail transit will mean the largest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Ottawa's history.
We have also been investing in our entrepreneurs and inventors. I am seeing clean solutions across the country from coast to coast to coast. It is incredible to see businesses stepping up with clean solutions that not only we but the world desperately needs, which means that we can export and create good jobs right here.
We are also phasing out coal, but we are ensuring a just transition for workers and communities, because everyone has to be part of this transition. We are making historic investments in renewables. We have more than 50 measures outlined in the climate change plan that we made with Canadians. We are moving forward on that plan, and it is making a real difference.
However, we are committed to doing more. That is why we have a sustainable finance task force, with some of the brightest minds trying to figure out how to unleash the trillions of dollars that we need to move to a cleaner future.
That is why we have two experts, Vancity's Tamara Vrooman and Steven Guilbeault, from Quebec, advising us on how to do more in the transportation sector and build buildings in ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We are committed to doing more. We are doubling the amount of nature that we are protecting in Canada. That is a good thing, because Canadians love nature, but we also have a biodiversity crisis that is made worse because of climate change. We just had a report that said the planet may be losing up to a million species, and climate change is one of the major contributing factors. We need to be doing more to take care of what we love—our land, our water, our air, our animals.
We are tackling plastic pollution. The creation of plastics creates emissions and so does getting rid of them, and we have too much plastic. We know that if we do not take action, we will have more plastic pollution in our oceans than we will have fish. That is a huge problem, and it is something that we can solve. We are wasting money by throwing out plastics that have value, billions of dollars. We will find ways to move forward, to ban unnecessary single-use plastics, to innovate and find other solutions and alternatives, and to work with countries around the world, because pollution knows no borders.
Unfortunately, we have an opposition of Conservative politicians from across the country who do not seem to understand that we are in a climate emergency, that we have to do more rather than less, that the science is absolutely clear, and that we have solutions that work.
Previously we had a Progressive Conservative prime minister, Brian Mulroney. He tackled the biggest challenge I faced when I was growing up, which was acid rain. I was worried that we were going to poison our lakes and rivers, and Brian Mulroney stepped up. He pushed the United States to take action with Canada. He listened to scientists. He talked to our business people to find solutions. What else did he do? He put a price on pollution, and we were able to tackle acid rain.
We can do this. We are a great country. We can figure this out. However, the only way we do that is by coming together. Polarization will end any action on climate change. We have seen that story. We have seen that story south of the border. We also see it in places like France.
That is where the yellow vests movement started. Of course people want life to be affordable. Fighting climate change has gotten harder. I saw that when I was in France for a G7 meeting last week.
We need to bring Canadians together. In the three and a half years I have been in this job, I realize that yes, we need laws; yes, we need regulations; yes, we need investments, but most of all we need to bring Canadians together.
Canadians, whether a farmer in a small town in Saskatchewan, an Inuk who lives in Cambridge Bay, a person who lives in Prince Edward Island or downtown Toronto or Ottawa centre or British Columbia, care about our environment. Canadians care about clean air and clean water. They want to tackle climate change, but they also want life to be affordable. They also want good jobs. We can do both. We can make sure that the environment and the economy go together.
We know how to solve these problems, but we need to stop fighting with each other. People need to stop telling the kind of falsehoods we keep hearing from Conservative politicians and premiers in this country. They say fighting climate change costs too much, so we cannot do it. They think putting a price on pollution is just a way to fill government coffers, but that is not true.
It is false. We have a plan. We put a price on pollution and we are giving that money back. A family of four in Ontario will get $307.
We are taking action to put a price on pollution but giving the money back to families, such that a family of four in Ontario will get $307. That is more than 80% of what families pay.
Why would Conservative premiers want to not tell the truth? The truth is that we can tackle climate change and do it in a way that is affordable. Why would there be a sticker campaign to mislead Canadians? Why would there be advertising using taxpayers' dollars to mislead Canadians?
We are bringing this motion today. It is not a partisan motion. Everyone should be able to support it.
What does the motion ask? The motion asks that we recognize that climate change is an emergency, that the science behind climate change is clear, that we need to meet our international obligations.
I know we can do this. I know we are a country that has come together, that has faced so many challenges. Think about the efforts that we put in during the two great wars. We stood up. We stood up as a country. We built this great country, and we are blessed because we have amazing natural resources in this country. We have a beautiful country. Our unspoiled wilderness is one of the largest in the world.
Most of all, we have our people. We were elected by Canadians from coast to coast to coast, who expect us to stand up, who expect us to make decisions based on science, who expect us to take action to tackle climate change, who expect us to come together on the biggest challenge that we face and expect us to answer our kids. Our kids are marching in the streets, demanding that we step up.
We know what the problem is: We have too much pollution. We know what the solutions are and we need to be coming together. It is so critically important that we recognize the science, that we recognize that we have an obligation to come together, as we said we would in Paris, to meet our international obligations, to be serious about tackling climate change, to not fight about whether we need to take action but come together and fight for more action and push each other to look at what more we can do, yet always remembering that people are at the heart of what we do. We need to make sure that we bring folks together.
I have learned in this job that I am the Minister of Environment and Climate Change for all Canadians, not only for environmentalists but also for people who work in the energy sector, for people who live in the north of the country and people who live in major cities. I recognize that. It means that every day I work hard with Canadians to find solutions.
When I look at what is happening, I see towns across the country taking serious action on climate change because they cannot ignore it. When there are floods, they have to be there. When Constance Bay is once again hit by another flood, the elected municipal leaders need to be there. They are there helping to fill sandbags, because they cannot ignore the science on climate change.
I see it with Canadian companies. There are so many incredible companies that are working so hard to tackle climate change. They are coming out with amazing, incredible solutions. Whether it is CarbonCure out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, or Carbon Engineering out of Burnaby, these companies are finding amazing solutions. They are showing us what we can do, showing us that we have the ingenuity, that we know what the problems are and can figure out the solutions.
That is why I am asking everyone in this House to come together, to put partisan politics aside and vote for a very simple motion. It is not a complicated motion and it is not a partisan motion. All it asks is that everyone in this House stand together and recognize that the science behind climate change is clear. It points to the fact that we are in a climate emergency and that we need to meet our international obligations.
Canadians will be proud.
Canadians will be proud that we can put political differences aside and say that climate change is a problem but that we can tackle it. We were elected by Canadians to stand up and deal with hard issues, to represent them, to show leadership and to be their voices right here in the House of Commons. I ask everyone to recognize that we need to act. We have a climate emergency.
Greta is asking, and children across Canada and around the world are asking, will we be serious? Will we recognize that there is a climate emergency? Will we stand up and take the action we need to and act?
It is their future. We are only borrowing this planet, and we will pass it on to our children and grandchildren. We owe it to them to pass on a sustainable planet. We owe it to them to ensure that they have good jobs and that life is affordable. We owe it them to come together.
We need to take action now for our children and grandchildren. They are asking us to. They are marching in the streets every Friday because they want us, their elected representatives, to show leadership. Are we going to stand up and say that there is a climate emergency and we need to come together to meet our international obligations? It is simple.
It is a simple request, and it is actually very reasonable. It is reasonable that they would want us to act. It is reasonable that they would ask us to put aside our partisan differences and actually come together to tackle the most challenging problem we face with the Canadian can-do spirit. We can figure this out. We can provide the solutions the world needs, and we can be creating jobs.
I am very proud that our government has a climate plan that we worked on and developed with Canadians. At the same time, we have created one million jobs. We can do both, which is something we all must recognize. Taking action on climate change is not a choice about the environment or the economy. We can do both. We can grow the economy and take serious action on climate change. That is what Canadians expect us to do, and that is what we are delivering on.
However, if we do not come together, we may lose all of this progress. It is a simple request: that we all stand up for the science behind climate change; that we stand up and recognize that we are in a climate emergency; and that we stand up and say that, yes, we are going to meet our international obligations and we are going to come together to do that.
I hope all parliamentarians will vote in favour of this motion and recognize climate change science, the climate emergency and the importance of meeting our international obligations.
I know that we can do this. I have seen it across the country. I have seen that Canadians are committed to acting. Now we need to act like leaders. We need to be serious about tackling climate change. We need to come together, and we need to do it now.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2019-05-16 11:34 [p.27920]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate some of those contributions to today's debate, but I do not have a lot of confidence in the party opposite's plan, for which we have been waiting over a year.
I stand here on behalf of my constituents from Parkdale—High Park. They recognize that there is national climate emergency. I recognize that there is a national climate emergency. I think most parties in the House recognize that there is a national climate emergency. However, it is telling that the word “emergency” is not used in the proposed amendment to today's motion by the member opposite.
I would hope the Conservatives and the member appreciates that when we look at this issue, we have to look at it much more broadly, including addressing things like plastics. Canadians are concerned about plastics and plastic pollution. We see instances, such as Roncy Reduces in my riding, where residents are taking the initiative, along with businesses, to reduce these plastics and encourage the use of reusable plastic containers.
Is that the kind of initiative we need more of at the national, provincial and local levels, including in the member's riding?
View Ed Fast Profile
View Ed Fast Profile
2019-05-16 11:35 [p.27920]
Mr. Speaker, this is the kind of issue on which we could probably make common cause. The member knows, I believe, that the government plans to release a plastics pollution strategy before the end of June. At the same time, at the environment committee, we have been undertaking a comprehensive study on plastics pollution.
Will I tell him what our plans for plastics are going forward? He will have to wait until we roll out our environment plan prior to the end of June. However, I can assure him that we are cognizant of the fact that plastics pollution is a challenge in Canada, but it is an even greater elsewhere around the world when we think of places like southeast Asia, south Asia and China. On oceans plastic pollution, we have a significant challenge. As parliamentarians, we should be working together on that.
View Randall Garrison Profile
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Salaberry—Suroît.
I am very pleased today to rise to debate a motion calling for a climate emergency declaration by Canada. It is very important to declare a climate emergency. That is a call for all of us to work together with urgency to meet the biggest challenge this country has faced since World War II and perhaps the biggest challenge in human history. I will be supporting the government motion and I will try not to engage in a polemic about who was first.
An NDP motion was followed quickly by the government motion. That is a good idea. Unfortunately, the new Green member has chosen to engage in a polemic before he has even come to the House, somehow taking credit for what is going on here. I welcome him to join us and I welcome a similar motion from the Green Party. We have to work together in the country to meet the challenges of climate change.
Since the Conservatives just moved an amendment, I want to address that amendment very quickly.
The member for Abbotsford says that we should wait for the Conservatives' plan, I am a little worried about their plan, given their amendment today. Let me point out three things their amendment would do.
First, it would eliminate climate emergency from the motion. It would take away the most important thing about the debate going on in the House now, which is the recognition that we have very few years left to act before climate change becomes irreversible and its impacts make this planet uninhabitable.
Second, it says that human action has an impact on climate. Here we are, back to the Conservatives denying the source of climate change. We know it is human activity. We know we are causing the rise in temperatures and the great variations in our climate. Therefore, because we are causing it, we can do something about it.
The third thing the proposed Conservative amendment does is blame everybody else. Its emphasis is on global action. Yes, of course, global action is required. Action by all of us is required to meet those challenges. However, the Conservative amendment places all of the emphasis on other people and what other people are doing.
I hope the whole world will react as one in the attack on climate change. That does not excuse us from ensuring we meet our responsibilities in the House and through our government.
A lot of things have been thrown around about who was first, who has the longest record and who has the strongest record. I want to put on the record that I know there are members in at least two of the parties here, three if we count unofficial parties, who have long and strong records on the environment. There have been some false things said lately in my riding about my environment record, so I want to talk just for a minute about this.
As a student, on the first Earth Day in 1970, I joined with my fellow students to block traffic during rush hour, and I learned a very powerful lesson that day. We made a lot of people angry and we made no change. I learned at that time that it is much better to build the coalitions we need to bring about the required changes.
The second time I got involved in climate change was when I got a job working for an organization called Pacific Peoples' Partnership. It is an indigenous-led organization that builds links between indigenous people in Canada and the Pacific Islands. I became the executive director in 1989. Pacific Islanders brought two issues to our attention in 1989, 30 years ago. One was the great Pacific garbage patch, the plastic patch in the Pacific Ocean. At that time, it was, horrifyingly, as big as Vancouver Island, and I will come back to that in a minute.
The second issue it wanted us to raise in Canada was global warming, as it was called then, as a threat to the habitability of the Pacific Islands, not requiring them to get swimming lessons, as it is often trivialized, but threats to the coral reefs, which protect the ecosystems of those islands. We are now seeing a huge die-off of coral reefs around the world, and increased storm surges. All of the Pacific Islands depend on a lens of fresh water that sits underneath the islands. With the storm surges, they were fearing increasing invasion of those lenses by salt water, which would make the islands uninhabitable.
That was, as I said, 30 years ago when I started working on the issue of climate change. We organized a tour of high schools and I published a series of articles, warning about the impacts of what we were then calling global warming.
I was elected to Esquimalt council in 2010. When we had the first emergency measures meeting, I asked what we had for oil spills, because we have long and beautiful coast in Esquimalt, and the answer was “nothing”. I was the first elected official in the country to move a motion against what was then the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
The second thing I was able to do on council was get Esquimalt to become one of the first municipalities in the entire country to adopt science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets. People asked at the time what that meant. It meant to me, and it still means in Esquimalt's policy, that we have to adjust those targets to what is necessary to keep the warming to 1.5°C or below. It was not simply saying that this is what we have to do; it was saying that we have to do this much and keep our eye on the ball and maybe do more as time goes on.
When I was doing a tour of high schools 30 years ago, I did not really imagine that, first, I would ever become an MP, but more important, that I would be standing here in this chamber when the great Pacific garbage patch was now not just bigger than Vancouver Island but bigger than B.C. and Alberta combined. I did not imagine that I would be standing here, when climate change is now clearly a threat to our very survival, and we would still be so far from any effective action to meet these challenges.
That is where I am disappointed with the government motion. As I said, I am happy to support it, because anything that brings us together to fight climate change is a good idea. However, I could not have imagined that this is what I would be standing here talking about, when reports show that we will soon have more plastic in the oceans than fish and when reports show that Canada will not meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets set in Paris, a reduction of 25% below 2005 levels by 2030, and that it will not meet those targets for 200 years with the current policies that are in place.
I am going to be supporting the government motion, despite what I would call omissions. One of the first of those, to me, is that there is no mention of reconciliation. On a side note, I have heard Liberals talking about our motion and saying that eliminating fossil fuel subsidies means cutting off power in remote indigenous communities. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have said that a climate change plan has to prioritize reconciliation, and that means dealing with those first nation communities that are the most affected by climate change: in the attack on traditional activities; in the flooding we have seen taking place; and in their dependence on diesel fuel, which makes life very unaffordable.
We have the example in my own riding of the T'Sou-ke Nation, which has become energy self-sufficient using solar power and now sells power back to the grid. That is what it means to prioritize reconciliation in a climate change plan to help first nations become self-sufficient on a renewable-energy basis that creates good jobs in their communities.
There is no mention of workers or jobs in the government's motion. I firmly believe that we cannot get the collective action we need on climate change if we have policies that leave certain parts of Canada, certain communities and certain kinds of workers behind. We know that the technology now exists for a transition to a net zero-carbon energy economy very quickly, and that will create good, family-supporting jobs in every community in this country.
We in the NDP have put forward some of our planks. One of those is an energy retrofit program to retrofit the entire building and housing stock in this country. That would create good jobs in every community and jobs that would use some of those same skills that people who work in the oil-based energy industry already have. A good example is geothermal. Geothermal energy uses almost the same skills, in terms of engineering, welding and all those other kinds of things, that are already used in the oil patch.
I want to conclude by saying once again that I believe that it is important to declare a climate emergency, because we are simply running out of time to change. It is no longer a question of the distant future. We have seen the massive forest fires around the country. We have seen the massive flooding. We are already in the midst of what is called the second great extinction. We are about to lose one million species of plants and animals. That will destroy the web of life that our very existence depends upon.
Many Canadians have already taken individual action to reduce their carbon footprints, but personal action alone will not meet these challenges. We must come together in urgent and major collective action to address the threat of climate change. We need a declaration of a climate emergency and plans to attack that emergency very, very quickly.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-05-16 12:09 [p.27925]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her speech.
I would like her to clarify the NDP's position. Is it true that New Democrats are against fossil fuels, pipelines and plastics?
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
2019-05-16 12:10 [p.27925]
Madam Speaker, back in October, the scientific community gave us 12 years. Now, we have 11 left. We must take drastic action by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 45%. We will never get there if keep subsidizing fossil fuels.
There is no shortage of people ready to work in the renewable energy industry, which represents six to eight times more jobs. Alberta has the highest potential in the country for developing solar energy. Why are we not doing it? Why are billions of dollars not being invested there?
As previously mentioned, in recent years, the federal government has invested $62 billion in the oil sector, and only $5 billion in renewable energy. That is completely absurd given the fact that inaction costs us $1.6 billion per year, not to mention the impact on human and ecological health.
View Joël Godin Profile
View Joël Godin Profile
2019-05-16 13:40 [p.27939]
Madam Speaker, this is a very important subject that I care a lot about.
First, I would like to remind the House that the Conservatives get up every morning to try to protect our planet, unlike what the Liberals would have people believe. Climate change is unacceptable, but it does exist. I am a Conservative, and I am stating loud and clear that climate change is real.
Today, the Liberals are waking up after three and a half years in office. They are waking up as the election season approaches, but given their environmental track record, they will be embarrassed to go talk to their voters.
Today, we are debating Motion No. 29, which states:
That the House recognize that: (a) climate change is a real and urgent crisis....
I will not read the entire motion. I simply want to say that this was urgent 50 years ago, 20 years ago and 10 years ago. It was urgent three and a half years ago, it was urgent yesterday, it is urgent today and it will be urgent tomorrow, too. We need to act and we need to come together to protect our planet.
The Liberals falsely label us. I would like to talk about the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant is a hard worker. She prepares for the harsh winter ahead by storing food. We could liken her to the farmer, who cultivates his land and knows the seasons well. The grasshopper is the complete opposite. She is lazy and spends her time singing without worrying about the coming cold. We could liken her to the artist, who lives in a dream without worrying too much about reality and the seasons. In our context, the ant represents the Conservatives, and the grasshopper obviously represents the Liberals. They whiled away their three and a half years in office, and now they are waking up. The environment is now an important issue for them. It took three and a half years. The government's attitude is rather appalling.
Earlier, it was said that this is urgent. On April 22, 2016, Canada signed the Paris Agreement, which was ratified on October 5, 2016.
Ms. Alexandra Mendès: Was it actually 2016?
Mr. Joël Godin: I would like my colleague opposite to listen to what I am saying. She has a mouth and two ears, and she should use those two ears.
As I was saying, the Paris Agreement was signed in April 2016, so this is nothing new. It was being worked on before it was signed. It was worked on globally, in other words, with other countries around the world. We can now say that Canada will not achieve its Paris targets. We will say it. We will rely on the credibility of our public servants, our qualified people. The Auditor General has said so. The United Nations, which must be credible, also said so. The commissioner of the environment said so as well. Unfortunately, the Liberals are blind to this.
I was talking about the grasshopper earlier. The Liberals would probably be represented by the grasshopper. Summer is coming to an end for the grasshopper, with the election right around the corner. Let this serve as a warning to them. Let me do them this favour, so they can present their mediocre environmental record.
I am a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I had an opportunity to meet with the minister, who appeared before the committee. She is one of the grasshoppers. I asked her a very clear question.
I will read the question so I am not accused of twisting words. Hon. members and people at home can consult the record themselves. It is available to all Canadians. This was my question:
Minister, with respect to your much-touted environmental plan, I would like to know—and the question is simple—whether or not you will be meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gases.
The minister said yes. Everyone can see her response for themselves in the transcripts, which are public. Earlier today, the Minister of Environment bragged about being the longest-serving environment minister. How can she say with a straight face that Canada will meet the Paris Agreement targets? There is a word that we cannot use in the House, and I will not say it, but it is unacceptable to not tell the truth.
What credibility do the Liberals and the Minister of Environment have on the world stage? The minister will not meet the Paris Agreement targets. Again, it is the Auditor General, the United Nations and the environment commissioner who say so.
On another subject, during her testimony, the minister took a swipe at me by remarking that she had been waiting 365 days for us, the Conservatives, to release our plan for the environment. My answer was that whether we do or do not release a plan, it does not change anything right now. We need to take action to fight climate change, and the Liberals have been sitting on their hands for 1,300 days.
Why did they draw on the Conservatives' expertise in the environment? Because we have credibility. That is why they used our targets. The Liberals called us incompetent and claimed our scientists had not done a good job, yet when they got to Paris, they realized the previous Conservative government had done an amazing job. They proved it by adopting our targets.
It is absurd that the government is counting on us to get it out of trouble again by handing over our environmental plan. I would remind the Liberals that our leader has pledged to release our plan by the end of the session. That is even ahead of schedule, since it should normally be presented during the election campaign. We are presenting it ahead of schedule to give the Liberals another chance to take action. Time is short, obviously, but we are going to meet their demands and present it, even though we do not have to. We need to be conscientious and rigorous. We have an environmental plan that will enable us to meet the Paris targets. Yes, the Conservatives can do that.
In committee, I also told the minister that the previous Conservative government was successful in lowering greenhouse gas emissions. It was under a Conservative government that Canada saw the most significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions in its history. The minister claimed that was because we were in a recession. However, just yesterday, when I asked her a question during oral question period, the minister said that she would create thousands of jobs and that she had a plan. She needs to be consistent. If she is creating jobs, her plan will not work. We implemented a plan that worked, but she said it was due to the recession. That does not add up. She is making conflicting statements.
Yes, we can encourage economic development and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but her speeches are fraught with inconsistencies. How can we accept the arrogance of this minister and this government, who, much like the grasshopper, woke up one morning and suddenly realized that we need to look after the environment?
The environment is an everyday problem. It is a local, provincial, national and international problem that needs to be addressed holistically.
For example, not all of the plastic that washes up on our shores comes from Canadian production. It comes from all over the world. Here in Canada, we are lucky to have a lot of shoreline, but there are problems that go along with that. Because of ocean currents, plastics from other countries around the world are washing up on our shores. Are members aware that only 5% of the plastic that is cleaned up along our shores from east to west comes from Canadian consumption? That means that 95% comes from other countries. We need to look at this problem from a global perspective. When working on a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we need to realize that we are, unfortunately, not working in a silo. There is no way to remain separate. We cannot deal with this all on our own. We need to work with all those involved.
We, the Conservatives, have taken concrete action, and we will continue on that same path.
In Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, the riding I have the privilege of representing, I have taken some very solid, very targeted actions to improve our environmental footprint. I collaborated with local stakeholders to create a circular economy committee.
Yes, we, the Conservatives, are working for the environment. Yes, we, the Conservatives, are aware of climate change and taking concrete action.
In addition, a group of grade five students from a school in Stoneham in my riding presented me with a poem about the environment. They also prepared a petition that I will soon be presenting here. Together, we will succeed.
The strange thing about the Liberals across the aisle is that they are just now waking up and deciding this is urgent.
It is urgent every day. This is nothing new. We need to take charge and improve our environmental behaviour. Industries, citizens, governments and all stakeholders in a society need to row together to get results.
I want to come back to the fact that the Minister of the Environment does not tell the truth when she is asked the question.
I will be asking her this question again in a moment. I want to warn her that I will be asking the same question today about the Paris targets. I am giving her a hint, and I hope she will be able to tell us the truth.
I am not making this up. As I said earlier, the Auditor General, the United Nations, the environment commissioner, journalists and print media are all saying it. This is coming from specialists, journalists, the Conservatives. The Liberals are the only ones who do not see the truth.
I just want to read out a few headlines. One asks why Trudeau's climate plan is not working—
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2019-05-15 15:30 [p.27842]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition that was coordinated, circulated and collected by my youth council in my riding of Kingston and the Islands and signed by 780 individuals.
The petitioners call on the minister of environment to enact a ban on the production and distribution of all single-use plastics.
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2019-05-13 14:14 [p.27678]
Mr. Speaker, what if I told you we could produce plastic-like products made from natural agricultural waste fibres that are 100% compostable? I am proud that this exact innovation has been created by two of my constituents from Kingsville. Last week Mike and Victor Tiessen received the 2019 National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Synergy Award for Innovation. They helped create a biomass product created from coffee plants that is 100% compostable.
Prism Farms partnered with three Ontario companies to develop biodegradable materials that are a substitute for petroleum-based plastics. They use natural fibres and resins found in non-food, agricultural material and waste streams to create these bio-composite materials. One of their materials is now used in single-serve coffee pods by companies like McDonald's and Club Coffee.
This innovation will reduce our dependency on single-use plastics and the waste that is building up in our landfills and oceans. Canadians like Mike and Victor are working hard to create cutting-edge, enterprising solutions that could truly change our world for the better.
View Nathan Cullen Profile
View Nathan Cullen Profile
2019-05-03 11:53 [p.27341]
Mr. Speaker, the world is facing a plastic waste crisis that is filling up our oceans and clogging our landfills. There is over one tonne of plastic waste for every person on the planet. In our lifetime, there will be more plastic than fish by volume in our oceans. Canada's recycling program is not doing the job.
Over 90% of what we put in our blue boxes actually ends up in landfills. However, we have a solution. A citizen-inspired bill, the zero waste packaging act, would require all plastic packaging to be recyclable or compostable. If Liberals are truly serious about dealing with the plastic waste crisis, will they support our bill?
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2019-05-03 11:54 [p.27341]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his commitment to the environment. The fact is that plastics are simply choking our oceans right now, and I will undertake to consider the bill he has put forward and return to him with the government's position.
However, in the meantime, we are taking meaningful actions to fight plastic pollution today. We are banning microbeads. We are reducing plastic waste from government operations and eliminating unnecessary single-use plastics within the federal government. We have invested $100 million toward a marine litter mitigation strategy. Through the G7 presidency, which we held last year, we introduced the G7 ocean plastics charter. We have adopted a zero plastic waste strategy with all our provincial and territorial partners.
The time to act on plastics is now. I am willing to work with the member to ensure we have meaningful progress.
View Sven Spengemann Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Sven Spengemann Profile
2019-04-11 14:08 [p.26999]
Mr. Speaker, the accumulation of plastics in our oceans and lakes is one of the most pressing challenges of our time here and around the world.
In Mississauga, plastics enter the Credit River watershed and make their way into Lake Ontario, along with 22 million pounds of plastic that end up in the Great Lakes each year.
On March 9, our community gathered at the Small Arms Inspection Building for a town hall on plastics. We welcomed the participation of over 200 residents, organizations, and environmental advocates, including Chief Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, indigenous adviser Cat Criger, Chris Pyke of the City of Mississauga, the 1st Port Credit Sea Scouts, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, the Port Credit Salmon and Trout Association, Professor Chelsea Rochman, the MDA corporation, Chantler Packages, Coextinction Film, Trash Walking Moms, Pixie Blue Studio, CVC's Jean Williams, and 4ocean.com.
I would like to thank the people of Mississauga—Lakeshore for their collective effort on this important issue, and I look forward to working together towards an environment free of plastic waste.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2019-04-08 14:28 [p.26808]
Mr. Speaker, according to a new survey, the majority of Canadians are concerned about the impact of plastic waste on the environment and think that the Liberals need to do more.
The NDP has already announced that it will ban single-use plastics by 2022. Other countries are already taking action.
When will the Liberals take real action to combat plastic pollution?
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Catherine McKenna Profile
2019-04-08 14:28 [p.26808]
Mr. Speaker, personally, I am very proud of what our government is doing.
We took a leadership role in the G7. We have worked with other countries and with businesses to develop a charter on plastic pollution. We know that we are facing a major challenge. We are also working with the provinces and territories to develop a national zero plastic waste strategy. We all need to work together.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2019-04-08 14:29 [p.26809]
Mr. Speaker, we need to ban single-use plastics, as 1.6 billion plastic coffee cups sit in Canadian landfills. Nearly eight million plastic bags are thrown away daily. The science is clear that plastic pollution is threatening our ecosystem, our food supply and the very health of Canadians, yet the Liberals refuse to stand up to plastic producers. It seems the Liberals cannot even stand up to any powerful corporation.
Will the Prime Minister stand with us and ban single-use plastics by 2022?
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Catherine McKenna Profile
2019-04-08 14:29 [p.26809]
Mr. Speaker, when we hosted the G7, we took a leadership role. We said that we need to ensure that we do not have more plastic pollution in our oceans than fish by weight by 2050. That is why we brought in the ocean plastics charter, which sets clear targets for countries around the world. That is why we are supporting developing countries that need support with their waste treatment facilities so that we do not end up with plastic pollution. That is why we are meeting with provinces and territories and working with businesses to have a zero plastic waste strategy. We need to be working with provinces. We need to be working with cities and we need to be working with Canadians.
We banned microbeads July 1, 2018, and we need to keep on doing—
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-04-05 11:54 [p.26743]
Madam Speaker, the government is failing to protect our waterways. According to a new survey released today, nine out of 10 people are worried about the impact of plastic waste on the environment, and 82% believe that the Liberals should be doing more to tackle it. New Democrats passed a unanimous motion on ocean plastics and we announced that we would ban single-use plastics by 2021. While the Liberals are still talking about a national strategy, the EU and India are already taking action to ban single-use plastics.
When are the Liberals going to take plastic pollution seriously and take real action?
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Catherine McKenna Profile
2019-04-05 11:55 [p.26743]
Madam Speaker, I am glad to talk about what we are doing to tackle plastic pollution. We know we have a real problem. If we do not tackle plastic pollution, we will have more plastics, by weight, than fish.
We banned microbeads. In the G7, we created the oceans plastics charter where we have targets internationally. We are supporting developing countries so that they have proper waste management systems. We are also ensuring that in government operations we are eliminating unnecessary single-use plastics. We put suppliers on notice that we will be choosing suppliers that have innovative solutions. Also, we are working with provinces and territories on a zero plastics waste strategy that will be announced in June.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2019-03-19 14:07 [p.26141]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight some of the great work that the students of the youth council in my riding of Kingston and the Islands are doing. They have spent months studying what the federal government does and talking about the issues that are important to them. One of the common themes was discussions about a desire to do something about our environment. These students recognize the importance of acting today, not tomorrow.
With over two million single-use plastic bags circulating worldwide every minute and over one billion plastic bags being distributed annually in Canada, they believe it is imperative that we put an end to this pollution. That is why I am happy to share that my youth council has created an e-petition asking the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to enact a ban on the production and distribution of all single-use plastics. Some may call these students the leaders of tomorrow, but I believe that through their actions they are the leaders of today.
I would like to congratulate my youth council on its hard work and ask all Canadians to consider signing the petition.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-02-22 12:12 [p.25690]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to once again table a petition on behalf of coastal British Columbians who are calling on the Government of Canada to create a national strategy to combat plastic from our waterways and aquifers. As we know, there is a garbage truck of plastics entering our water every minute globally. We have the largest coastline in the world.
These coastal people would like the government to follow through with its unanimous support of Motion No. 151, and create a national strategy as soon as possible so that we can take urgent action to combat this huge global crisis around plastic pollution in our waterways.
View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2019-02-05 10:04 [p.25241]
Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to introduce today, signed by many residents of Vancouver Kingsway and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
The first is a petition to establish a national strategy to combat plastic pollution. Many residents point out their concern that plastics are making their way into various bodies of water via storm drains and are interfering with our global ocean currents, and this is causing massive problems for species and bodies of water around the world. They call on the government to adopt a national strategy to combat this immediately.
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
2019-02-01 12:11 [p.25159]
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table today, which were signed primarily by people in my riding.
The first petition has to do with a national strategy to combat plastic pollution. Plastics are ending up in our oceans, lakes, rivers and other waterways and are threatening sensitive ecosystems, wildlife and individuals. Plastics make their way into these bodies of water in a variety of ways, including stormwater outfalls, ocean tides and currents, and direct industrial and consumer waste disposal.
For all these reasons, the petitioners are calling on the government to work with the provinces, municipalities, communities and indigenous peoples to develop a national strategy to combat plastic pollution in aquatic environments.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-02-01 12:15 [p.25160]
Mr. Speaker, I am presenting two petitions today.
The first petition is on behalf of coastal British Columbians who are very happy to see the House unanimously pass my motion, Motion No. 151, to call on the Government of Canada for a national strategy to combat plastic pollution. With a garbage truck of plastic entering our waterways every minute, they are calling on the government to immediately act on Motion No. 151 to combat plastic pollution and develop a national strategy as soon as possible to mitigate and eliminate the amount of plastic entering our ecosystem.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-01-28 15:32 [p.24888]
Mr. Speaker, it comes as no surprise that the first petition I am tabling in the House, on behalf of Vancouver Islanders, is calling on the government to immediately create a national strategy to combat plastics in our oceans. My motion was passed in the House unanimously. These petitioners are calling on the government to develop this strategy in time for the budget and in light of the recent announcements in the EU and India to ban single-use plastics. They are calling on the government to implement a strategy, similar to the ones in those countries, immediately.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be speaking to Motion No. 151, which addresses an important issue for the people in my riding of North Island—Powell River, and that is plastics and the impact they have on the waters that sustain our communities across Canada and across the world.
I am also very pleased to be speaking to this motion because the member for Courtenay—Alberni also happens to be my neighbour. I am very proud of the work he has done in this place. I am very proud that he brought forward this very important initiative. It is basic to the people we serve in both our ridings.
Mr. Speaker, I hope you will indulge me. On December 1, it was my grandson's birthday. I would like to take this opportunity to wish him a very happy birthday. As all members in the House know, we do not get to be with our family members nearly as much as we would like, so I just want to make sure he knows that his grandmother is thinking of him at this important time for him.
When I think about plastics and the impact they are having on all the waterways across the world, I cannot help but think of all our grandchildren and the impacts plastics will have on them in the future if we do not address this in a meaningful way.
The statistics are distressing. This is something I hope everyone in the House is taking time to learn about and understand. Twenty million tonnes of debris enter the world's oceans every year. On average, in every square kilometre of ocean globally, there are 18,000 pieces of plastic. Eighty per cent of all plastics in the ocean come from land-based sources. Ninety per cent of the plastics found in the ocean are microplastics. Ninety-five per cent of single-use plastics are used only once and discarded. In fact, if we do not take some serious action by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish if this trend continues. That is something I think every Canadian, and I hope every person on the planet, will seriously start to look at and address in a meaningful way.
We know that every year plastic litter kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals, and there are so many more realities that face communities across the world.
The people of North Island—Powell River are working as hard as they can every day to address these issues. I can tell stories about doing my own beach walks with my family, carting tires off the beach and finding very small bits of plastic and trying to find as much space in our pockets to carry all that debris off the beach. However, what is really amazing is the amount of work people in my riding are doing every single year to combat this. I will mention a few. I want to be respectful. I do not know what everyone is doing. I have a huge riding. However, I want to acknowledge those I do know.
We have dive clubs that do marine cleanups. They dive right into the water and clean out debris. They include Top Island Econauts and the Campbell River Tide Rippers. The OrcaLab and Parks Canada partner every year to do a cleanup around Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve, which is an orca rubbing beach. There are several of them.
Surfrider Vancouver Island does cleanups in remote locations in our region. The great Canadian shoreline cleanup is an event during which many community organizations and schools get out and clean beaches across the riding.
The Living Oceans society does many cleanups in its region. In 2017 I spent a week on a remote beach in my riding, Grant Bay, and added to the collection, the big pile on the beach, that Living Oceans Society cleans up every year. It is amazing to see huge pieces of styrofoam, tires and plastic. It is just heartbreaking to see this on the beach, but everyone who comes to those beaches collects it and piles it all up, and then it is removed.
The Sierra Club has hosted several beach cleanups I have had the privilege of participating in. The Tyee Club does a big cleanup in the Campbell River estuary. Project Watershed does estuary stewardship in the Comox Valley. The community cleanup in Port Hardy collects garbage from everywhere across the community.
I happened to attend the beach cleanup this past October by the Saratoga and Miracle Beach Residents' Association. I was very impressed by the young people, the students from Miracle Beach Elementary School, who showed up and helped clean up the beach.
I want to be clear. With a lot of these beach cleanups, not only are people out there cleaning up the beach and picking up every piece of plastic they can find but they are calculating it. I have been out there in the rain with a plastic bag over my piece of paper. We are picking up things, and then we are marking, “cigarette butts”, “small pieces of plastic”, “rope”, “tires”, “cups” and so forth, just so we have a better understanding of the beach and what is happening. It is disheartening sometimes to see how much people just toss out and how much work it takes for people to come behind and clean up.
I want to also acknowledge that many people clean up the beaches in their own personal time. I heard a story of one woman who, for the past 15 years, has been cleaning up the beach in her area almost every single day. This is important work. It is something the people of North Island—Powell River really believe in, because we live on the ocean. We live close to our waterways, our lakes, our streams and our rivers in our communities, and we know that they produce so much for us. They feed our communities. They also bring a lot of tourism revenue and important work into our area. We just want them to be healthy, because the healthiness of our waterways is the healthiness of our people.
When I look at the work I have done in those communities with those community organizations, I appreciate the work they continue to do. They take the time to go out. They calculate and give statistics back to us so that we know what is happening on our beaches and what is getting into our water.
If we look at the text of this motion, it is asking for meaningful action. So many people in my riding and across Canada are saying that they want to see meaningful action. They do not want to hear more sound bites. They want to see things moving forward.
This motion asks the government to “work with provinces, municipalities and indigenous communities to develop a national strategy to combat plastic pollution in and around aquatic environments”. It is about a collaborative approach and working with all levels of government so that we can provide the support that is needed and make sure that there are resources for these organizations that work so hard.
I remember one time being on Quadra Island doing a beach cleanup, and there was one of those huge boxes for garbage. It was almost completely full of styrofoam. It was debris from a lot of different industries and different things that are happening in the ocean. When they were in big chunks, that was fabulous. However, when we went through the actual sand on the beach, we were finding small pieces. These small, broken-down pieces getting into the water is something we should all be concerned about. We want to see a reduction.
This motion also asks for regulations with respect to a reduction in use to make sure that we are doing less harm. We want to make sure that there is a reduction in the consumer and industrial use of single-use plastics, including, but not limited to, things we see on the beach, including plastic bags, bottles, straws, tableware, foam, cigarette filters and beverage containers. I now carry around with me a stainless steel straw so I do not have to use any plastic straws when I go out. I try to be attentive and make sure that I do not use those things that are for a one-time use, because the potential impact on our environment is just too strong.
The last thing I feel people need to know about this motion is that it asks for community-led projects to clean up plastics and debris on shores, banks, beaches and other aquatic areas. It also asks for education and outreach campaigns on the root causes and negative environmental effects of plastic pollution in and around bodies of water.
In the communities I represent, the work is being done, but largely by volunteers. I think that is fantastic. I think it shows the commitment of the community. However, we need to educate people more. We need to let them know the potential harm when they toss away a cigarette butt or a plastic lid from a cup or when they do not take the time to put their litter and recycling where it should be.
I appreciate that the current government has moved forward with the ocean plastics charter with the G7. I think that was a great step forward. However, what I hear again and again in my riding is that people want to see action, not just words. This motion speaks to having a plan, to working collaboratively and to making sure that things happen. Therefore, I hope we take the next step. I hope everyone in this House supports this very meaningful motion and that we start to take action to make sure that our beaches and waterways are as clean as they possible can be in this changing world we live in.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2018-12-03 11:14 [p.24288]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Courtenay—Alberni for his continued interest in combatting plastic pollution in our waterways and oceans.
Our government shares the hon. member's concerns about the negative impacts of plastic waste and marine litter on the environment, and the Liberals will be supporting the motion.
As we all know, plastics play an important role in society due to their low cost, unrivalled functionality and durability. However, the negative impacts of plastic waste and pollution in our environment are undeniable. Plastics do not belong in our waters or scattered around our land.
We subscribe to the view that plastics that leave the economy as waste represent a loss of resources and value. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that between $80 billion and $120 billion worth of plastic packaging alone is lost from the global economy every year.
Plastic production continues to grow, with about a 620% increase in growth since 1975, outpacing most manufactured materials. If current consumption, production and disposal rates continue, about 12 billion tonnes of plastic will be lost to landfills or the environment by 2050. In Canada, in 2014, approximately 90% of plastic waste was lost with only about 11% recycled. It is estimated that about 8,000 kilograms of our own plastic waste ends up as marine litter every year.
With a growing economy and population, nationally and globally, we need to think differently about how we design, produce, recover and use plastics. A high point of our G7 presidency was the release of the Ocean Plastics Charter in June 2018. The charter has since been endorsed by 11 governments and 19 businesses and organizations worldwide, all committing to move toward a more resource-efficient and sustainable approach to plastics that will reduce plastic waste and marine litter.
The charter includes ambitious targets and actions along the entire life cycle of plastics, from sustainable design, production and collection to management, as well as actions to advance education, research, innovation, new technologies and on-the-ground improvements.
Actions to meet the charter targets need to happen on two fronts: internationally and domestically. Internationally, we continue to advance policy discussions and research in international fora so that our efforts are amplified along with others. For instance, we joined the United Nations Clean Seas campaign and pledged, with numerous others, to take action on marine litter. We participate in the United Nations Global Partnership on Marine Litter. We also contributed to the recently adopted guidance on fishing gear from of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Canada also recently joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative to tackle lost fishing gear, and we are working on scientific methods to detect plastics in dredged materials from ocean disposal sites.
We need to innovate and embrace solutions across the entire plastics value chain and change our entire system to one with no waste. I am very pleased to note that Canada will be hosting the World Circular Economy Forum in 2020. This will offer a great opportunity to showcase Canadian progress on plastics while fostering dialogue on moving Canada and the world toward a circular economy for all materials, including plastics. To achieve this, we are working together with a broad range of stakeholders: industry, academia and civil society.
Through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, we are working with provinces and territories to implement the newly launched CCME strategy on zero plastic waste. The next step is to develop a Canada-wide action plan to eliminate plastic waste, reduce marine litter and use a circular economy lens to address plastics throughout the value chain. The action plan will provide a platform for collaboration among different levels of government, industry and other stakeholders.
Industry and Canadians have signalled they are ready to make the necessary changes. This means making plastic design and production more sustainable; improving collection, management systems and infrastructure; adopting a more sustainable lifestyle and creating awareness of environmentally sound alternatives and good practices; continuing to improve on our understanding of the issue and solutions through research and innovation; and finally, taking action to capture and remove the plastic litter that is already covering shorelines and our near-shore waters.
To propel the full range of Canadian industry to action, we recently launched the Canadian plastics innovation challenge. The challenge will accelerate innovation in our country by providing over $12 million to Canadian innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses to tackle plastic challenges in seven key areas: separation of mixed plastics; food packaging; plastic wastes from construction activities; removal and management of ghost fishing gear and marine debris; improved compost ability of bioplastics; recycling of glass fibre-reinforced plastic; and sustainable fishing and aquaculture gear.
The federal government is also leading by example. We have committed to divert at least 75% of the plastic waste from government operations by 2030. This will be accomplished through changing our own practices as well as in the procurement of more sustainable plastic products such as those that are reusable, recyclable, repairable or are made with recycled plastic content.
This adds to other federal efforts, including pollution prevention legislation, such as our phased ban on microbeads in toiletries that came into effect this year; investments in waste and waste-water infrastructure to prevent debris from entering the environment; and raising awareness through public engagement and education.
With respect to increasing awareness and community action among Canadians, in September we collaborated with five NGOs and launched an ocean plastics education kit for students and teachers to increase awareness of marine plastic litter and empower youth to develop solutions and take action.
On Earth Day, we launched the Canadian dialogue on plastic waste. We heard from more than 1,900 Canadians about their views on ways to reduce plastic waste and pollution. We posted a summary of what we heard on our website. Participants across the country recognized the need to take prompt action on this issue and that no one solution would do the trick.
We have supported community projects as well as national conservation initiatives. The Government of Canada is a partner with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup that removes plastic litter and collects citizen science data.
We are working with the United States and Mexico, through the Commission of Environmental Cooperation, to implement a pilot project in the Salish Sea watershed in British Columbia. The project will engage local decision-makers and the community to identify local plastic waste and litter challenges and implement small scale solutions.
We also continue to advance science to support action on plastics. We also conduct and support research on the plastics economy in Canada and the impacts of plastic pollution in aquatic environments and fauna.
This month, we hosted two scientific workshops with international and national experts to help inform our plastics science agenda. We discussed the state of current science on the effects of plastics in the environment, identified knowledge gaps and prioritized areas where we could take concerted action to strengthen our science. Strong science is the foundation of effective decision-making.
We look forward to continuing action in these areas and working with partners in Canada and abroad to move to a circular plastics economy, one without plastic waste.
We recognize that achieving a zero plastic waste future that is protective of the environment is multi-faceted. There is no one solution.
To address the issue of plastic waste and its pollution, actions are required at each stage of the plastic life cycle. All levels of government, from municipalities to national governments, as well as industry, civil society and citizens have a role to play.
The Government of Canada will continue to support action by these players and through its own efforts in sound science, research and development, funding, regulation and other policy levers to keep plastic waste in the economy and out of the environment.
This is why today we will support the motion put forward by the member for Courtenay—Alberni.
View Karine Trudel Profile
View Karine Trudel Profile
2018-12-03 11:25 [p.24290]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate my colleague from Courtenay—Alberni's Motion No. 151, which proposes a national strategy to combat plastic pollution and was moved in response to the federal government's inaction when, in November 2016, a ship lost 35 containers in the Pacific Ocean that eventually washed up on the shores of British Columbia. That kind of ecological disaster should be a wake-up call for us all.
Around the world, oceans are drowning in plastic. Globally, a garbage truckload of plastic enters our oceans every minute. This year, 20 million tonnes of plastic waste will end up in our waterways. Ninety-five percent of the time, single-use plastics, such as straws, containers, utensils and grocery bags, are used just once and then tossed in the trash, where they take at least 200 years to decompose in the environment. These objects break down into tiny particles that marine animals, such as the fish we eat, end up consuming. Plastic pollution contaminates our coastlines, destroys our ecosystem and threatens the health of our fellow citizens.
The NDP is appalled at the federal government's failure to develop a plastic waste management strategy. Compared to many other countries, Canada looks pretty bad. Every year, our waterways spew tonnes of waste that is harmful to marine biodiversity, but the rest of the world understands the importance of addressing this crisis. Canada is lagging behind. Over 40 countries and states around the world, such as California, Australia, France, China, the United Kingdom, Kenya and Rwanda, have already adopted measures to ban or tax plastic packaging and other polluting plastics.
In Quebec, more than 500 artists, scientists, and community leaders have signed the Pact for the Transition, committing to do what they can as individuals to reduce their environmental footprint. They are calling on governments to match their efforts by also committing to act responsibly. One of the commitments is to reduce plastic consumption by choosing, among other things, products with the least packaging.
Some cities in Quebec, like Saguenay, in my riding of Jonquière, have already set up systems for recycling plastic bags. In the Saguenay region, many salvage and recycling depots have popped up to deal with plastic waste and other materials. The Saguenay sorting centre collects as much as four tonnes of plastic a week, diverting more than 500 tonnes of waste from the landfill. The City of Saguenay also does an agricultural plastics clean-up, which consists in gathering the plastic film used by the farmers who participate. More than a hundred farmers are registered for the agricultural plastics collection program run by the sorting centre.
These are the kinds of measures we need to support in order to start a movement that catches on at both the national and local levels. We currently recycle only 11% of our waste. Unless something changes, by 2050 the oceans could have more plastic than fish. We therefore need to do a lot more, and this motion lays out what to do.
Not only is this necessary, but it also presents an opportunity to innovate and create jobs as part of a green transition. Many volunteers across the country have decided to dedicate their time and effort to improving the environment. Last summer one of my constituents from Saguenay, Keaven Roberge, decided to clean up the banks of the Chicoutimi River, which is located in my riding, Jonquière. I am ashamed to have to tell him that his efforts will not be financially supported and that the federal government does not share his goals. Keaven takes a very realistic approach to this issue, which really sums up the situation. He says that the problem belongs to everyone and to no one at the same time. Everyone supports better waste management practices for the environment, but no one wants to take the lead.
Let me give another good example of environmental consciousness in Arvida in my riding. This week, Vanessa Gauthier is opening a new self-service shop called La Réserve, where customers can buy bulk products with zero waste, since they bring their own containers to fill. At the entrance, there will be a self-service scale where customers can weigh their containers so that they pay only for the product they buy.
La Réserve will be selling a variety of products in bulk, including dry and liquid food products and household and body care products. Ms. Gauthier plans to offer alternative solutions to disposables as well as cloth containers and bags for bulk items. There will also be a section with basic materials for making homemade cleaning products and cosmetics. The goal is to really minimize consumption as much as possible and to use as little plastic as possible.
The Liberal government's track record is troubling and shows that the government does not care enough about this major issue. Its $1.5-billion oceans protection plan does not include any funding to reduce plastic or debris in our oceans. In fact, the plan makes no mention of the word “plastic” at all. The current public policy for managing plastics is totally inadequate to deal with what our waterways are dumping into our oceans. Eight percent of the world's water flow passes through Canada, which means that any pollution we put into our rivers and waterways pollutes our oceans.
For a long time, waterways were seen as a practical way of getting rid of waste. Some waterways were used extensively and even excessively because of their ability to assimilate waste. The majority of industrial, municipal, farming and mining waste can be reduced at the source. Our country has the longest coastline in the world. It is our responsibility to take strict and effective measures to reduce plastic pollution in aquatic environments.
However, last June's ocean plastics charter did not include any binding measures. The Prime Minister may well brag about taking “an important step towards achieving a life cycle economy, in which all plastics would be recycled and repurposed”, but we need to engage and guide everyone. This has to be a general movement. Canadians are not so naive as to believe that a charter that is only three pages long will result in any action by polluting industries to help the environment. Motion No. 151 is exactly what the Prime Minister promised four years ago. This hypocrisy cannot continue. We desperately need political solutions and that is what Motion No. 151 proposes.
The first measure consists of regulations aimed at reducing consumer and industrial use of single use plastics, such as bags and plastic straws. Our plastics economy follows a linear model. We produce plastic, use it briefly and then throw it away. Approximately 95% of plastic objects are only used once and then are no longer of any use to the economy, taking several years, even centuries, to decompose in the environment. This pollution has already had catastrophic effects on our ecosystem. In fact, 85% of marine birds have already ingested plastic and this number will increase to 99% by 2050.
The Liberals are forcing taxpayers to pay for things that are harmful to the environment and health rather than funding less costly, alternative solutions.
People have been waiting too long for the proposed national strategy and partnerships with municipalities. No one here can deny that the situation is alarming. The IPCC forecasts released on October 8 are catastrophic. The Paris Agreement is also not enough. If we do not take any action, the impacts on health and food security, water supply and the economy will only increase.
Denying that this is urgent is denying our future generations a safe and prosperous future.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
2018-12-03 11:35 [p.24291]
Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to rise in the House to discuss the motion this morning. As my colleague said, the government will support the motion.
Indeed, in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a major chapter of the industrial revolution, one could say, around the petrochemicals industry, as we began developing plastics technology and flooding the market with products made of plastic. In fact, as I think has been mentioned, the production of plastic products has outpaced that of almost every other material since then.
To quote Erik Solheim, the former head of UN Environment, “Plastic is a miracle material. Thanks to plastics, countless lives have been saved in the health sector, the growth of clean energy from wind turbines and solar panels has been greatly facilitated, and safe food storage has been revolutionized.”
However, there is a disturbing flip side to this, which has also been mentioned by others in this debate. I will give a few examples of my own. Roughly nine million tonnes of plastic are entering the Great Lakes annually. Plastic packaging accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste globally, much of it thrown away within just a few minutes of first use. America, Japan and the EU are the world's largest producers of plastic packaging waste per capita. Only 9% of the nine billion tonnes of plastic the world has ever produced has been recycled. Finally, if current consumption patterns and waste management practices continue, by 2050 there will be around 12 billion tonnes of plastic litter in landfills and the environment.
Plastic pollution is an environmental price we are paying for the miracle of petrochemicals. It is a monumental challenge for us all. This is nothing new, though. When it comes to the environment, all the challenges are monumental.
Still, there is hope. To paraphrase Erik Solheim, former executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, the good news is that a growing number of governments are taking action on plastics pollution and demonstrating that all countries, whether rich or poor, can do their part and become environmental leaders.
Take Rwanda, for example. Rwanda is obviously not a rich country, but it took the whole world by surprise in 2006 when it banned plastic bags.
All countries can take meaningful steps to help the environment.
Motion No. 151 brings attention to Canada's own commitment to, and progress in, addressing the scourge of plastics pollution. The motion calls on the government to combat plastic pollution in and around aquatic environments, specifically through regulations to reduce the industrial use of microplastics and consumer and industrial use of single-use plastics, including presumably though CEPA's priority substances list. Secondly, the motion calls for annual funding for community-led projects and education and outreach campaigns. Some of these community initiatives have been mentioned during this debate.
My rising today to speak to this motion is in large part because of my ongoing interest in water policy, an interest that goes back to when I was first elected. I believe that water is our overarching, overriding environmental priority. What I mean is that water encompasses two of the world's biggest headline environmental issues, namely climate change, which brings more frequent and intense flooding and drought; and secondly, chemical pollution, which impacts human as well as environmental health, and spreads with water flow. Taken together, these two issues relate to water quantity and quality, respectively.
When I think of water, two wise quotes come to mind. The first is “Water is the first principle of everything.” This is attributed to Thales of Miletus. The second is from Rachel Carson, who said, “In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.”
Water policy is multi-faceted, and Motion No. 151 addresses one of the many important aspects of water policy. It is complex not only because it is multi-faceted, but also because it is multi-jurisdictional. The question of controlling plastic pollution points to this jurisdictional complexity, as so many levels of government must be involved, including at the international level, if we are to make meaningful progress on this issue.
Our government has already taken important steps to address the scourge of plastic pollution in water. At the most recent G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Canada was the force behind the ocean plastics charter. The charter commits Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the EU to broadly take a life-cycle management approach to plastics, including working toward increased recycling and related public education efforts, as well as investing in research to find alternatives to currently used plastics, like organic water bottles, that do not harm the environment. I recently saw an example of a water bottle that completely biodegrades, and maybe that is the future when it comes to bottled water. The charter commits the signatories to investing in research and developing, for example, technologies to remove plastics and microplastics from waste-water and sewage sludge.
Clearly, plastic pollution is not only about oceans. It is also about fresh water as fresh water carries pollution, including plastics, into the oceans. This realization has led to initiatives like NextWave, a non-governmental coalition founded by companies, including Dell, and an environmental group called Lonely Whale, which employs people living in coastal regions to collect discarded plastic within 30 miles of waterways to prevent it from making its way to the sea. So far, NextWave has focused on two types of plastic commonly found in marine environments, nylon 6 and polypropylene.
Recently, HP announced it would be joining the NextWave coalition. In fact, since 2016, HP has been working with locals in Haiti to collect a total 550,000 pounds of plastic, which the the company has since used to create ink cartridges.
Among other things, the ocean plastics charter calls for direct government action to reduce the use of microplastics. I think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard has mentioned that our government has banned the manufacture, import and sale of most toiletries that contain microbeads. This ban took effect July 1, and all are banned, with the exception of those contained in natural health products and over-the-counter drugs. However, as of July 1, 2019, the ban will include natural health products and non-prescription drugs.
However, in our multi-jurisdictional nation, progress on many public policy issues requires collaboration among the federal, provincial and territorial governments. That is why two Fridays ago, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers agreed to work collectively toward a common goal of zero plastic waste through a Canada-wide strategy on zero plastic waste that aligns with the ocean plastics charter. As stated in the joint communiqué of the ministers, “Protecting our terrestrial and aquatic environment from plastic pollution is imperative for the health of freshwater ecosystems, and is also important as the water and litter flow directly into oceans."
Finally, let us not forget the need for action at the grassroots level. Other speakers in this debate have mentioned the many initiatives involving citizens who voluntarily group together to clean up the shoreline. At this point, I would like to give a shout-out to members of the Lac-Saint-Louis youth council, and other young people, who came out with me this past September 8 to look for plastic debris along the shores of the St. Lawrence River in the southwest corner of my riding. I am speaking specifically of Harrison Kirshner, Malik Dahel, Melissa Potten and Philippe Guay.
Fortunately, our municipal governments are doing a good job of keeping the shoreline clean, but, nonetheless, we did find some items of plastic, such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, polystyrene and cigarette filters. If everyone works together, governments, NGOs, industry, and if citizens engage, I believe we will make some important progress tackling this terrible scourge.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Motion No. 151, put forward by my friend from Courtenay—Alberni. I must say it is good to see an environmental measure that brings together members of the House from all parties. This is something that we can all agree is a problem; there is no debate about that. We also appreciate that the motion brought forward by my colleague proposes that we work through this issue in a constructive way. There are many things I like about the motion: It is nice to see an environmental measure that is not being used to propose a new tax, but instead tackles the problem head on. I appreciate this measure and I will be proud to join the rest of my Conservative colleagues in supporting Motion No. 151. In the context of that debate, I want to make a few observations. It may be one of the only times we agree in this Parliament, but we will see.
The first observation I will make is that Canadians should be aware of some of the health effects we see associated with certain components of plastics. I was very proud that it was our previous Conservative government that took the step of banning BPA in baby bottles. We were one of the first countries to do so in recognition of some of the emerging scientific research suggesting there were problems associated with BPA exposure. We recognized that people can be exposed to it, perhaps through certain household products and through plastic pollution in the environment.
On BPA specifically, I was reading a study that came out in 2014. It was a literature review of 91 studies that found BPA to be associated with negative human health outcomes, particularly behavioural issues in children, and also problems in adult reproductive function. I will quote from another study: “BPA alters male reproductive function in humans. These investigations revealed that men occupationally exposed to BPA had high blood/urinary BPA levels, and abnormal semen parameters. BPA-exposed men also showed reduced libido”.
Some of these health problems we see associated with BPA were stated in another study: “High levels of BPA have recently been correlated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, polycystic ovarian disease or low sperm count.” This paper also mentions the ability of BPA to make certain cancer cell lines grow. Various studies in prominent medical journals are emerging that suggest there are adverse health outcomes associated with BPA exposure. That is why I was proud of the world-leading steps taken by the previous government around BPA exposure.
This is something that requires our ongoing engagement with how certain components in plastic products need to be studied further because there may be health impacts associated with them that we need to be aware of and seek to minimize. That is one of the issues that is provoked by discussion of this motion, which again is something that I commend to the consideration of a committee of the House as we go forward.
Whenever we debate these kinds of measures in the House, it is important to observe that so much of the most effective response we see to environmental challenges comes not from the level of state action, but from individual action. There is a role for the government, absolutely, but it is a matter of the choices that individuals make when they choose to be as responsible as they can be with the products they consume, with the ways they reuse certain things, with seeking materials they can use multiple times, and trying to make sure that things are disposed of responsibly. That dimension of individual responsibility comes to mind when we think about limiting ocean plastics, and the roles that we can all play are certainly important and top of mind. As we talk about the response from government, let us not forget the response that comes from individuals as well.
Another point I want to make about how we respond to plastic pollution and ocean plastics is that it is worthwhile for us, as we proceed down this road of studying this issue, to reflect on the magnitude of the challenge we face from ocean plastic pollution, reflect on the different sources of that pollution and try to work collaboratively with other countries to target the main sources of that plastic pollution.
I read an interesting article by a think tank called the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. It examines the proportions of plastic pollution that we see in the ocean. Yes, all of us should seek to do better in terms of what we dispose of and the way we dispose of it. There are some striking numbers with regard to the floating patch in the Pacific Ocean that is full of plastic garbage. The article says:
According to a recent study of its contents in the open-source academic journal Scientific Reports...46 per cent of it was discarded fishing nets. A further substantial portion is related fishing industry items such as floats, ropes, baskets, traps and crates. And another 20 per cent is junk washed away from Japan’s shores during the 2011 tsunami....
The vast bulk of floating plastic waste in the Pacific is the product of commercial fishing – primarily the Asian fishing industry. Another huge chunk arises from the aftermath of a massive natural disaster.
We look at what steps we can take, but we also look at those substantial contributors to the challenge. Maybe my colleague from Courtenay—Alberni will have thoughts on how we can provide support and engagement around improving some of those fishing practices in other countries that may be substantially contributing to the challenges that we face from plastic pollution. We should not be narrowly focusing on one piece of this.
One of the things I appreciate about the motion is it does speak to engaging this problem in a holistic way, not just looking at perhaps one specific and potentially small contributor to the problem, but instead thinking about the various components that contribute to plastic pollution. It would seem logical to me that we start from two places. We start with thinking about what we can do. We also look at the biggest contributors to that challenge and whether we can attack those biggest contributors and then work our way back from that. Some of that may involve us looking for opportunities to build partnerships with other countries where we see some of that particular risk exposure.
Again to recap, we are dealing with Motion No. 151 from my colleague from Courtenay—Alberni that asks us to engage in a more pointed and serious way with the issue of plastic pollution. We know this is a big problem, a growing problem, that 20 million tonnes of debris enter the world's oceans every year and on average there are 18,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square kilometre of ocean globally. Some 80% of all plastic in the ocean comes from land-based sources. We know that when plastic is in the ocean, it breaks down, and it can affect marine life and it can also affect human health.
I have read some studies from various medical journals looking at some of the impacts associated with plastic exposure. I have spoken about how the previous government was engaged with this issue. It took steps to ban BPA in baby bottles. Perhaps this is an area where we can do more to study the impact of certain components in plastic that may be having a health impact and look to change the sources of those materials that are used and consider the impact on human health from doing so. When we have these different items in the ocean breaking down, it causes significant problems for marine life as well as potentially for human health.
I have one other factoid I will put out for my colleagues from British Columbia. A study found that returning adult B.C. salmon can ingest up to 90 pieces of plastic each day, so this has a big impact throughout the food chain.
I appreciate that the House is coming together on this motion and I hope that it will lead to further action from the government to respond to these challenges we face together.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2018-12-03 11:55 [p.24294]
Mr. Speaker, we have heard, time and time again, that a garbage truck of plastic is entering our oceans and our waterways every minute, globally. In fact, here in Canada, we produce more garbage per person than any other country in the developed world.
Today, a CBC article on my motion said:
Scientists with the Vancouver Aquarium say the average Canadian uses up to four times their body weight in throw away plastics every year. Enough of it is ending up in oceans, lakes and rivers that plastic is being found in shellfish and even drinking water.
Every year, 10,000 metric tons of plastic end up in the Great Lakes alone. Single-use plastics affect us all, and we now have an opportunity to act. These are alarming statistics, and I know that members on all sides of the aisle are hearing from their constituents that we need to act.
On the weekend the member from Victoria introduced me to 16-year-old Anastasia Castro of Saanich, an amazing young environmental activist, who along with friends has launched "Kids for a plastic free Canada.” She is part of the new generation of environmental stewards who are taking on the serious issue of marine debris and plastics entering our aquifers and our oceans.
Due to the hard work of incredibly dedicated Canadians like Anastasia, the crisis of marine plastic pollution has reached the national stage. Unfortunately, action on the issue has been slow-moving.
This is only the second piece of legislation around plastic, the first being from the member for Windsor West and Megan Leslie, the former member for Halifax, who introduced their motion on banning microbeads in 2015.
When I first rose in this House, following the Hanjin container spill off the coast of my riding on Vancouver Island, we only heard platitudes from the government in response to calls for action to support the hundreds of volunteers who had taken to the beaches to recover tonnes of styrofoam and marine debris. I congratulate the government for its statements of good intentions, and for its pledges and promises along with those of other G7 nations. I want to recognize the limited actions that have been taken in recent months by the government.
Having said that, we need to go further and faster. When we tried to find support for communities struggling to respond to the crisis on our coastline, senior officials told us that there is a legislative and regulatory void and they were sorry, but no help was forthcoming.
This motion seeks to fill that void through the seven steps set out by the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre. The proposed regulatory action is aimed at reducing plastic debris discharge from stormwater outfalls, industrial use of microplastics, and consumer and industrial use of single-use plastics. The programmatic proposals include the provision of permanent, dedicated and annual funding for the cleanup of derelict fishing gear; community-led projects to clean up plastics and debris on shores, banks, beaches and other aquatic peripheries; and education and outreach campaigns on the root causes and negative environmental effects of plastic pollution in and around all bodies of water.
This motion is the product of hard work by dozens of environmental organizations, educational institutions, churches, businesses and corporations. In particular, I want to thank Surfrider Pacific Rim and Clayoquot Clean Up, Communities Protecting our Coast, the Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards, Ocean Legacy, the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation, Vancouver lsland coastal communities, the Union of British Columbia coastal municipalities, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and community champions who monitor and clean our beaches and coastlines without any support from our federal government. I want to thank Margaret Atwood, who supported my motion.
I want to thank the tens of thousands of everyday Canadians who have signed petitions, knocked on doors and, in other various forms, have supported this motion. I want to thank all members of this House from all political parties who have chosen to stand in support of our precious marine environment, committing to supporting this motion, and especially the government today for finally coming forward to support this motion.
I have talked to people from across this country, and because of this campaign, we have given people hope, people who were feeling hopeless. By demonstrating our commitment to cleaning our oceans and waterways by voting for this motion, we as parliamentarians are bolstering this renewed optimism.
I am reminded of Tommy Douglas. I am also reminded of Jack Layton, who famously said, “Don't let them tell you it can't be done.” Coastal people and Canadians have been listening to these words, and we have the opportunity, the love, hope and courage that Jack Layton spoke of and embodied, to tackle this issue, and leave a better Canada for future generations.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2018-12-03 12:00 [p.24295]
The question is on the motion.
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
And five or more members having risen:
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to order made Thursday, November 29, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, December 5, immediately after proceedings on the supply bill.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-12-03 15:10 [p.24324]
Mr. Speaker, I present a petition in which constituents from Nanaimo—Ladysmith call on this House to adopt a national strategy to end the terrible problem of marine plastics. They urge this House to support the Motion No. 151 by the member for Courtenay—Alberni's, which will be voted on this Wednesday, to ban single-use plastics, to develop regulations to get at the root of the marine plastics problem, and to fund, in a permanent way, dealing with some of the ongoing problems like ghost fishnets that move across the sea and continue to kill marine mammals and fish. They urge the consideration of their petition.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have multiple pages here signed by constituents who recognize that plastics in our oceans, lakes, rivers and other bodies of water are posing a dire threat to sensitive ecosystems. They want the government to work with the provinces, municipalities and indigenous communities to develop a national strategy to combat plastic pollution so we can reduce the industrial use of microplastics, single-use plastics, and have a strategy for cleaning up derelict fishing gear.
Furthermore, they call upon the government to support Motion No. 151, to bring in a national strategy to combat plastic pollution, supported by my good friend and colleague, the member for Courtenay—Alberni.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-11-29 10:13 [p.24174]
Mr. Speaker, the calamity of marine plastic pollution is evident all over the world.
Plastics are making their way into our oceans and lakes via storm drains and global ocean currents, and consumer disposal and industrial waste, and making their way into salmon on the west coast.
I have so many petitions from citizens in Nanaimo, Lantzville and Ladysmith urging the government to adopt a national strategy. This would deal with single-use plastics but also make sure that we have funding in a permanent way to deal with some of the big problems, like ghost nets, fishing nets that move across our oceans, across the globe and continue to capture and drown animals.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2018-11-28 15:49 [p.24103]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to table a petition on behalf of residents of coastal British Columbia. They are calling on the government to work with the provinces, municipalities and indigenous communities to develop a national strategy to combat plastic pollution in and around aquatic environments. They would like regulations aimed at reducing plastic debris discharged from stormwater outfalls, the industrial use of microplastics and the consumer and industrial use of single-use plastics. They would also like permanent, dedicated annual funding for the cleanup of derelict fishing gear, community-led projects to clean up plastic and debris on our shores and education and outreach campaigns.
Further, they are calling on the government to adopt my motion, Motion No. 151, which Parliament will be voting on next week, to establish a national strategy to combat plastic pollution. With the amount of plastic arriving on our shores, they are calling on the government to make this an urgent priority.
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
2018-11-21 15:18 [p.23672]
Mr. Speaker, the last petition calls on the government to establish a national strategy to combat plastic pollution.
Whereas plastics in our oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, and other bodies of water pose a dire threat to ecosystems, wildlife, communities and individuals with sensitivities, the petitioners call on the government to work with the provinces, municipalities and indigenous communities to develop a national strategy to combat plastic pollution in aquatic environments.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2018-11-08 10:15 [p.23425]
Mr. Speaker, marine plastics are spreading all over B.C.'s coasts, entering salmon and littering beaches. A lot of it is coming from British Columbia but some is also coming from overseas. Petitioners from Nanaimo, Parksville and Lantzville have asked me to convey to the House their strong call for the government to develop a national strategy to combat marine plastic pollution, which would particularly involve regulations on the single use of plastics to prevent plastics from entering the marine environment in the first place and also to fund in a permanent ongoing way some of the pieces we have been unable to tackle like ghost nets, which move across the ocean capturing fish, dolphins and so on. It is a terrible emergency. We call on the government to act.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2018-11-06 19:34 [p.23371]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise again today to talk about a very important issue for people of Courtenay—Alberni, and certainly across Canada.
As we know, plastic is entering our oceans and our aquatic environments at a rapid pace. Over a garbage truck of plastic is entering the environment of our waters every minute.
My Motion No. 151 has spelled out seven different reforms, based on a very solid report, “Seven Reforms to Address Marine Plastic Pollution”, developed by the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre. This is a very important report. It was the member for Victoria who introduced me to Calvin Sandborn and the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation; they helped develop the report. It is a 100-page report that outlines different ways we can combat plastic pollution.
We know that single-use plastic is an important issue when it comes to plastic and how we can reduce the amount of plastic entering our waterways. Therefore, I was proud to rise in this House to bring forward a question on behalf of coastal people and people who live near waterways across our country. Most people live near a lake or a river or the ocean. We have the longest coastline in the world, and we have 60% of the world's lakes and 20% of the world's supply of fresh water, so that would make us stewards of a very important resource that we need to protect, and it requires some leadership.
One thing I want to touch on tonight is the issue of ghost fishing gear and derelict fishing gear because it very important to the people in my riding. There are a couple of groups that are working on cleaning it up. One is Ocean Legacy, led by Chloé Dubois and James Middleton. They take fishing gear, recycle it and repurpose it for companies like Lush that use it in their cosmetics. They make sure that we remove plastic from our environment and use it for purposes. There is another group called Emerald Sea Protection Society. It is a group of divers who go down and seek out this gear and remove it.
We know that Washington State, Oregon and California have taken great leadership on this and have removed thousands of tonnes of ghost and derelict fishing gear, so I do not understand why Canada has not used a model that is so close, especially for me. I live near the Salish Sea. We share the same sea. We share the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We could use their expertise, their knowledge and their legislation and apply it in Canada and take action that is important.
As members know, ghost fishing gear is dangerous to the mammals and species in the ocean. A lot of birds, seals, crab and even our fish get entangled in ghost fishing gear. It is very important that we explore ways to get it out. It is costly for the economy. Washington State says it costs it about $700,000 U.S. just in lost crab to crab pots that have been left at the bottom of the sea, that have escaped. The UN Environment Programme estimates about 640,000 tonnes of gear is in the ocean right now.
This is a great opportunity for us to spotlight a very important issue for all of us.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2018-11-06 19:37 [p.23372]
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for his work on marine pollution. I found his comments interesting. He led by commenting that this was an issue about which coastal communities in B.C. and across Canada should care deeply. I would go one step further, and I am sure he would agree, to suggest that marine pollution, particularly plastic pollution, is an issue that has captured the attention of the entire world.
There is no question that plastics are choking our oceans, lakes and rivers, some of the most treasured that Canadians know and love. I know my colleague from B.C. has put a lot of energy into this and represents coastal communities. Some of us would be very familiar with some of the very picturesque places, like Tofino, which the hon. member represents.
Back home for me in Central Nova, we have places like Melmerby Beach, Martinique Beach and Clam Harbour that are really a sight to behold. We need to do our best to protect these gems for our kids and grandkids, so they can benefit from the marine environments we love so much.
In his remarks, my colleague acknowledges that our government is familiar with the critical problem of plastic pollution in our waterways. For quite some period of time, he has been asking us what we are doing on this issue.
I would like to take this opportunity to survey some of the actions we are taking and offer to him that we are willing to continue to work in partnership as we move forward.
As a government, we have made it a priority to address oceans health and plastics pollution under our G7 presidency in 2018. During the G7 leaders' summit in June, we launched the ocean plastic charter and the Charlevoix blueprint for healthy oceans.
We have also committed $100 million to help vulnerable regions improve their waste management practices and combat plastic pollution. This is no small thing, $100 million can go a long way to helping move the needle on this important file. In fact, while the Minister of Environment and Climate Change was recently in my home province of Nova Scotia for the G7 summit, she announced that we would be eliminating the unnecessary use of plastics in government meetings and, importantly, committed to reducing the Government of Canada's use of plastics by 75% by the year 2030.
Further to this, we regulated the manufacture, import and sale of microbeads in toiletries earlier this year. We made a commitment to procure only sustainable plastic products.
We are taking serious steps forward on this important issue. The fact is that federal, provincial and territorial governments are currently working together, through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, to develop a national approach that responds to the charter and moves toward zero plastic waste. Our shared goal is to keep all types of plastics out of our landfills and out of our marine environment, in particular.
This is an ambitious vision and it is going to require action by governments, industry, consumers and individuals. We are all working with these partners to identify innovative ideas to improve the design, use and management of plastic products.
I am very interested in some of the remarks my colleague made about lost fishing gear. If this is an area where we can work in partnership with him and other folks in Canadian communities, I would be pleased to do so.
There is no one solution that will allow us to completely remove plastics from the marine environment. It is going to take a varied approach, considering different aspects where we can reduce our plastics. We recognize the need to address single-use plastics in Canada, such as straws or bags, but we need to develop a more comprehensive approach to effectively address this issue. This includes evaluating all available policy options, which I am willing to do.
I genuinely welcome the member's continued effort on this important file.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2018-11-06 19:41 [p.23373]
Madam Speaker, it is great to see the parliamentary secretary so active on this file.
What we need is regulation. We need traceability, tracking and accountability when it comes to plastics in the ocean, especially when it comes to industry. We can look at salmon farming and oyster and shellfish farming. We want to support the shellfish industry, but at the same time we want to ensure there is traceability when it comes to the plastics they are using in their environment. We need legislation and regulation.
With respect to polystyrene and styrofoam, we need to stop using it in a place where it can escape and end up on our shores, breaking apart and impacting our sensitive ecosystems.
I hope the member will look forward to bringing forward solutions so we can mitigate this. I want to commend the Liberals for signing on to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative. It is a great initiative and it is a good start.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2018-11-06 19:42 [p.23373]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to serve as the representative for a riding that has two coasts, the beautiful Northumberland Strait and the pristine Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. This file is near and dear to my heart. We need to protect our marine environments.
Again, to demonstrate how seriously we are taking this file, our government is finally taking action to protect our marine environment. We have a $1.5 billion oceans protection plan. We are moving forward with initiatives to protect our freshwater resources. We have helped achieve a G7 ocean plastic charter. We are knocking off 75% of the government's use of plastics by the year 2030. We are now regulating the use and import of microbeads in Canada.
I outlined a number of other measures during my remarks. I know I do not have a full opportunity now. I only hope to communicate that we are taking this problem seriously and we remain open to innovative ideas, no matter what side of the aisle they come from, to ensure plastics stay out of our oceans.
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