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View Dan Albas Profile
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Abbotsford for his contribution to our country and to our debate today by putting forward his motion, one I am happy to speak to and support. To me, this is an important subject, and I will explain why.
Climate change has had a serious impact on my riding and on British Columbia in general. I would like to give an example. The science shows us that our winters are not as cold as they once were. Because our winters are not as cold, the mountain pine beetle has managed to survive through the winter months and not be killed off. This, in turn, has allowed the pine beetle to thrive, and in turn, it has devastated our forests. That has created two problems. One is an economic problem. Throughout B.C. and my riding, we have had a number of lumber mill closures. This can have a devastating impact on small rural communities. It is simply devastating. One of the reasons for these mill closures is a lack of fibre. Because too much forest has been killed off by the pine beetle, there is not enough supply for timber. That is one major problem.
The second major problem is that all this dead timber, combined with our hot summers, has basically created a powder keg of fuel for a wildfire. Make no mistake. Be the cause lightning or humans, when there is a forest fire, this dead beetle wood is producing wildfire activity the likes of which British Columbia has never seen. This not only hurts tourism but can also harm human health. Those with respiratory issues have serious problems dealing with all the smoke and ash. There is also a loss of homes and small businesses and a massive cost for fighting those fires. It is all part of a serious problem.
However, here is the thing: the carbon tax does not stop this. It does nothing to help relieve the situation. The Liberals like to pretend otherwise, but after 10 years of having the carbon tax in British Columbia, our forest fire situation only looks more dire.
Let us overlook that fact for a moment and see if the carbon tax is working otherwise in British Columbia. Total greenhouse gas emissions in B.C. fell in the period between 2004 and 2008. Much of this paralleled what happened nationally with greenhouse gas emissions, and this was mainly attributed to the worldwide economic meltdown that occurred during the later part of that time frame.
In the summer of 2008, former premier Gordon Campbell introduced Canada's first carbon tax in the run-up to the 2009 B.C. general election. The B.C. NDP opposed the carbon tax at that time.
What has happened in B.C. since the carbon tax was introduced in late 2008? It is a great question. I hate to break this fact to the Liberal government, but total greenhouse emissions in British Columbia have gone up. Yes, they have gone up. In fact, there has been a 1.5% increase in emissions in B.C. since 2015 alone. Let me repeat that for the benefit of the Minister of Environment. Since 2015, there has been a 1.5% increase in emissions in British Columbia, despite its having a carbon tax. In other words, the carbon tax is not working.
We have also discovered something else. It is called carbon leakage. What is carbon leakage? Let me give members an example. In 2008, when the carbon tax was first introduced in British Columbia, basically 100%, of all cement used in British Columbia was manufactured in British Columbia. Well, why not? Concrete is not exactly a lightweight, inexpensive product to import and then transport to other jurisdictions. What happened when B.C.-produced concrete became subject to a carbon tax in 2008? Naturally, it became more expensive. By 2014, B.C.-produced concrete accounted for roughly 65% of all concrete used in British Columbia, because cheaper concrete was being imported from jurisdictions with no carbon tax. That is a 35% loss of market share in B.C.'s own market.
Of course, our federal Liberal government knows all about this. That is why, quietly last summer, the Liberals started giving carbon tax exemptions to some of Canada's biggest polluters. However, there is no exemption for small business in their plan, or in my home province, for the average middle-class family. In fact, in B.C., the NDP has now turned the carbon tax into a billion-dollar tax grab that hits families and small business owners hard.
Ironically, the B.C. government is intervening in the carbon tax jurisdictional litigation, arguing that if other provinces do not have a carbon tax, B.C.'s competitiveness will be harmed. Of course, the same principle applies to Canada, where we try to compete with some of our major trading partners that do not have a carbon tax.
This is how carbon leakage is defined in British Columbia:
industries that compete with industry in countries that may have low or no carbon price. If BC industry loses market share to more polluting competitors, known as carbon leakage, it affects our economy and does not reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
To recap what we know from the British Columbia example, after 10 years of having a carbon tax, it has done nothing to prevent the serious climate-change-related problems we are facing in British Columbia. Worse yet, the evidence also shows that it has done nothing to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions. They have actually increased since the B.C. carbon tax was created. It makes British Columbia less competitive, all the while letting major polluters off the hook. Basically, all the carbon tax has done in British Columbia is act as a giant tax grab for the NDP government.
Here is another fact I will share on this point. The B.C. LNG project we often hear the Liberal government boast about, which, by the way, was first approved by the previous government, has been totally exempted from carbon tax increases. The only way this went forward was that it was totally exempted from future carbon tax increases, and it will be a major contributor to increasing B.C. greenhouse gas emissions. Honestly, none of this reconciles, and the facts clearly show that.
If members doubt the facts and evidence from British Columbia, look no further than our very own Parliamentary Budget Officer, who last week made it very clear that the present course of the Liberal government will completely and totally fail to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets it has set, unless, of course, the Liberal government desires to massively increase the carbon tax load for everyday citizens. That point could not have been made any clearer.
We are seeing mixed messages from the Liberal government on this. Will the Liberals or will they not massively raise the carbon tax if re-elected? We do not get clear answers.
Where does that leave us? It leaves us here with this motion, because it states the obvious. The carbon tax is not working. It continues to fail, so let us do away with this carbon tax so that we can focus on and find other ways to reduce our emissions. We have a collective responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint. We cannot sit back, watch this carbon tax continue to fail and try to pretend that we are taking action on reducing emissions, when in reality, we are not. If anything, we are taking action to provide more carbon tax exemptions to major polluters, and much like the B.C. LNG project, to major projects.
We can pretend that this is not occurring, but it is. Why did the Liberal government provide a 95.5% carbon-tax discount on dirty coal power in the province of New Brunswick? Does anyone seriously believe that making coal power cheaper is any way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? It is a total farce, and we sell ourselves and our future short if we continue to play that charade.
I care about our children's future as much as the members opposite, so let us stop the charade today. Let us admit that the carbon tax has failed. Not only has it failed, but it continues to fail. Yes, it may work in theory if everyone were on the same page, but carbon leakage is proof that we are not. Let us do away with the carbon tax and instead let us work together and focus on real, tangible ways to reduce our emissions and lower our carbon footprint.
That is why I am going to be voting in support of this motion today. Again, I thank the member for Abbotsford for his leadership on this file.
View Dan Albas Profile
Mr. Speaker, the government in its first two years before introducing its so-called price on carbon, gave places like Nova Scotia large exemptions from their coal-fired facilities so they could go much longer than was originally brought into place by the previous government.
The second thing that group has done, with its so-called price on carbon, is to exempt 95.5% for coal-fired production, dirty coal, in New Brunswick.
The member says that somehow the Liberals are the white knights who will deal with these issues. They are actually the government that is giving massive exemptions to large emitters. How do they square that?
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2019-06-18 11:25 [p.29276]
Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue. A myth has been peddled by both the Conservatives and the NDP about supposed exemptions for large emitters under our system. Let me be crystal clear. There are no exemptions for large emitters under our system. They pay into a system that is called an output-based pricing system which requires them to pay a price—
An hon. member: You're playing with words.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2019-06-18 11:26 [p.29276]
Mr. Speaker, I enjoy good conversation with my friends and colleagues.
To be crystal clear, there is no exemption for big emitters under our system. They pay at the exact same price that everyone else does under what is called the output-based pricing system. We have established a system that allows us to move forward with a price for big emitters that does not jeopardize their competitiveness.
One of the points of differentiation between our plan and the NDP's plan is that without this kind of system, as the Ecofiscal Commission has pointed out, the NDP will hurt the Canadian economy by causing carbon leakage and also increase global emissions because big polluters will be incentivized to leave Canada.
With respect to the example in New Brunswick, it is because that province is dealing with an industry that is operating better than the industry standard. In Nova Scotia, the member is right that we do have an equivalency agreement with that province to help it transition off coal, still 28 years faster than the Conservatives would have it transition. It is because we are trying to reflect the realities after we have had discussions with the different provincial governments.
I have a meeting later today. We are going to discuss how we can accelerate the phase out of coal in Nova Scotia, because it is the right thing to do.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2019-06-18 12:06 [p.29282]
Mr. Speaker, today we are debating the following motion that Conservatives have put forward:
That, given that the carbon tax will not reduce emissions at its current rate and it is already making life more expensive for Canadians, the House call on the government to repeal the carbon tax and replace it with a real environment plan.
As part of debate on this motion today, I would like to break down what climate change is, what causes it, and then show why the Liberals' carbon tax scheme, which is currently at $40 a tonne, will not reduce emissions in Canada, why it exacerbates global climate change and why it is harmful to our economy, but I will do so in the following context.
Earlier in debate today, the member for Kingston and the Islands said that by raising this motion, the Conservatives were “playing with the lives of future generations”. Recently, something awesome happened to me. I became a stepmom and a step-grandmother. To one tiny, very sticky human being, I am known as nana. My stepson Kepi is watching the debate today and my stepdaughter Tori really cares about this issue because she has a son. This one is for them, not for the member for Kingston and the Islands.
What is climate change and what causes it? Climate change can be broadly described by global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid- to late 20th century onward and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. Climate change is caused by changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, for example industrial emissions, cars, volcanoes, forest fires; deforestation and land use changes; sulfate aerosols; and soot particles or black carbon. If that is what it is and what it is caused by, then how do we reduce it?
Let us start with the Liberal plan, which is the subject of the motion today. To the member for Kingston and the Islands and everyone who has mentioned children as the reason for debate on this issue, Liberals have staked their children's future on a $40-a-tonne price on carbon. If we know what the causes of climate change are, as I read them out, then the policy objective should be to put in place a policy instrument that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. That is what we are managing to, to save the planet for our children. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us as legislators to ask, given the severity and gravity of this, if the Liberals' purported plan would work.
Those who have a background in economics will know that there is a concept called price elasticity. I am oversimplifying this, but it means that if a price changes on a good, people will buy more or less of it. When the price changes on goods and people buy more or less of them, those are highly price-elastic goods. When the price of goods increases but people still have to buy them and their consumption does not change, those goods are called price-inelastic.
I am raising this because this concept is super important when we talk about whether a carbon tax would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If an additional price is put on carbon, and I mean things like gas in our tanks, what we use to heat our homes or electricity, if it is produced by fossil fuels, if the government is going to put a price on that and that is its purported way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in theory, Liberals are hoping and praying that people will buy less carbon because the price has increased.
The government has refused to table or make public any sort of data that it has from modelling the price elasticity of carbon. That is really unfortunate, because it does not allow us as legislators, given what is at stake for our kids, to look at whether this is actually going to work.
The reality is that, in Canada, where it is very cold and we have to use fossil fuels to heat our homes and to drive around, as we do not have the same sort of transit infrastructure that a small European country would have, there really is not a substitute good for carbon. In Canada, carbon is price-inelastic, which means that putting a price of $40 a tonne on carbon, as the Liberals have done, is not actually going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
The reason this motion is before the House today is that this is an important issue, but if we want to save the planet for our kids and we know that it is not going to work, then we have to talk about other solutions, not just cling to it out of political expediency.
Members do not have to take my word for it. This year, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, a non-partisan agent of Parliament whose job it is to do this type of modelling, said that the Liberals' carbon tax would need to be $102 per tonne in every province and territory in order to meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets set by the government, which it is purportedly managing to.
When asked if she would raise the tax to this level, the environment minister said no. Praise the Lord the answer was no. Essentially, the Liberals have said that they are setting a $40-per-tonne price on carbon. They know it is not going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and they are not going to raise it to a higher level.
What have we done in four years? The Liberals' own released report this year shows that Canada is actually further from the Paris target than last year. New numbers released by Environment Canada show that Canada is on track to fall 79 megatonnes short of its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target, and that is up from 66 megatonnes last year.
These guys are standing here doing something that I like to call apocalypse porn. It is where people stand and talk about all the terrible things that are happening and focus on that to deflect any sort of legislative inquiry into the efficacy of their policies. We know it is not going to work. That is why the motion is in front of us today. Liberals shut down debate when any of their climate plans are questioned. If they know that their plan will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions and they will not raise the tax, then why have they put this forward?
I could speculate at length about that. I think this is a cash grab for the Liberals' out-of-control spending. This is a way for some of the senior cabinet ministers to get on speaking tours and perhaps position themselves for jobs in the industry of people who do not really have plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but make a lot as environmental consultants.
I think that is what they are managing to, and that is really unfortunate, given that the member for Kingston and the Islands appealed to the children. I do not want my kids to see a Liberal carbon plan where what the Liberals are managing to, instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is jobs after politics, because they have said the right things but have done nothing.
I want to debunk some of the talking points that the Liberals have been throwing out today in opposition to the motion. First of all, they are citing the Nobel Prize-winning economist who said that this is the way to fight climate change. Let us go through some of the work that Dr. Nordhaus actually did. He acknowledges that the carbon tax raises many practical design and implementation questions. There are issues with cross-border taxes on carbon emissions and issues with administrative inefficiencies.
In fact, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the cost of administering the carbon tax in Canada, which, as I have shown, is ineffective and does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is $174 million, outside of the cost to Canadians in their pocketbooks. There is no price elasticity data by the Liberals to show that the $40 per tonne would actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For comparison, the United Nations report the Liberals often cite actually estimates that the government would need to impose effective carbon prices of $135 to $5,500 per tonne of carbon dioxide by 2030. This does not take into account any sort of economic growth modelling or what would happen to the growth of the Canadian or global economy at this point in time.
There are other things that this professor talks about in terms of some of the inefficiencies and uncertainties that could be applied to the Liberals' ineffective plan.
In one of his books, he writes, “The exact pace and extent of future CO2-induced warming are highly uncertain, particularly beyond the next few decades.” Yes, there might be a consensus view, but he notes, “Science does not proceed by majority vote.”
He notes that costs are key:
People want to be assured...that [carbon emissions] targets are not simply the result of overly concerned environmentalists who are intent on saving their ecosystems at the expense of humans.... People want to compare costs and benefits.... It will not be sufficient to say: “Ecosystems are priceless”, or “We must pay any cost to save the polar bears.”
He also notes that modelling is hard. The Financial Post said:
Of his own computer exercises looking into the implications of climate tipping points, he emphasizes that the assumptions he makes “are at the outer limit of what seems plausible and have no solid basis in empirical estimates of damages”.
This is a complex issue with complex economic modelling, which the Liberals have not explained to Canadians. They have not talked about the fact that the $40-a-tonne price on carbon will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet they are asking Canadians to pay a very high cost for that. It is morally bankrupt and it is wrong.
Nordhaus also notes that all countries, the poorest countries included, need to be included in globally binding emissions structures in order for this to have any effect. However, the Liberals are not doing any of the things cited by this economist, absolutely zero.
A few other things have been raised in debate today. The member for Vancouver Kingsway cited B.C.'s carbon tax. He cited this 2.2% emissions reduction as if it were a victory. However, he is looking at data in the context of the Lower Mainland, B.C. It is warmer there, and there is more public transit. The price elasticity for carbon there might be different from that in rural Saskatchewan. If we are looking for a solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, it has to be a solution that applies to the entire country without harming our economy.
Members opposite brought up Preston Manning. I think Preston Manning's approach on this is absolutely wrong. I question why Preston Manning is doing this. I would even go as far as to speculate that he is doing this to raise funds for his think tank, not to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I would be happy to debate Preston Manning, on any stage, on the same data I have put forward, because this is not right and it will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
Members opposite have also cited the Pope. Members cannot stand in the House of Commons and say that we need a science-based, empirical response to climate change, not produce their own data and then cite religion, from a man who would not even meet the litmus test to run as a Liberal candidate.
Members opposite have talked about revenue neutrality. I will explain this concept for those listening and for my stepson, Kepi. According to the government, and only a Liberal would say that, revenue neutrality means paying a tax and getting an equal amount of money for it. That is crazy, because, as members know, it costs money to take money away. People are paid from the $174-million administrative cost. People will not get the same amount of money back in a cascading tax that affects every single level of production. This has been borne out by data reports in British Columbia, which have shown that the tax has become regressive. It is not revenue-neutral anymore.
Furthermore, with respect to the purported rebate that is going to Canadians, which the government said was factually correct, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, in an announcement, showed that the average carbon tax rebate Canadians received in 2018 was significantly lower than the amount the Liberals claimed Canadians would receive.
If it is not reducing greenhouse gas emissions, people are paying more and it is not revenue-neutral, why would we accept this as the status quo when talking about what we are doing for the children? It is just crazy.
In addition, the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens all say that this will not affect the economy. That is bunk. I will tie this into the concept that the Liberal carbon tax actually exacerbates climate change globally, because when we tax goods that are produced under high environmental standards, such as we have in Canada, we actually displace them with goods coming from higher-carbon jurisdictions. A perfect example of this is steel production in Canada.
When our steel producers in Ontario were subject to a carbon tax and Chinese steel was not, and the Chinese government was able to dump steel in Canada at lower prices, that was actually displacing goods in Canada that were produced under lower emissions standards.
We, as a country, can put a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions until the cows come home, but as long as we are buying goods from China, India, Brazil and the United States, we are not going to tackle the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. There needs to be a globally binding system that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, with binding targets, for this to work.
What should we do? Tomorrow, my leader is going to announce a very comprehensive plan that addresses many of these issues. Again, I do not want to scoop him. We need a made-in-Canada solution that addresses the fact that we have a regionalized economy. It is cold here. There are not a lot of substitutes for our products. We have a wealth of technology that needs the right incentives to be adopted. We need energy efficiency standards. This is just me thinking up things.
Our global climate action cannot be the Minister of Environment going on a photo op tour where the most environmentally friendly thing she did was sit at a table covered in grass and drink cocktails. That was not Canada using its role on the world stage to incent climate action.
I want to speak to the Conservative record. The Liberals can say that the Conservatives do not have a plan until the cows come home, but there is one inconvenient truth: there is only one time in Canada's history when we saw a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions while the economy grew. It was under Stephen Harper's government, when we imposed regulations on passenger vehicles. I would also argue with the member for Vancouver Kingsway about any reductions they saw in B.C. What about the passenger vehicle reductions we put in place?
The coal-fired regulations on Canada's coal-fired sector came in under a Conservative government, because we believe, and here is the underlying point, that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without undermining the Canadian economy. I am standing here as an Alberta MP, because these guys have used their apocalypse porn to put my riding out of work. The Liberals have done nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They have stood here and railed, “What about the children?” The Liberals have done nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and they have put my riding out of work. That is morally bankrupt. That is crass politics.
Members should be concerned about what political party they stand for after this debate. It is partisan. The Liberals stand here, apocalypse porn and all, behind policy instruments that do not work, and then they want me to look at my children and my grandchild and say, “Yeah, it was great. It was non-partisan. We did nothing.” That is wrong.
I was actually at an event with Al Gore, and I debated Al Gore. I wish that event had been public, because it was a lot of fun. There is a lot of inconvenient truth about the buzzwords that come out of these communities that do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We have a responsibility to take action in Canada. Conservatives have done that. In fact, the last Liberal government saw greenhouse gas emissions rise by 30% when it was in government. The Liberals are probably on track to do the same here.
This should be partisan, because these guys have made this all about falsehoods, all about policy, and have done nothing to materially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change said that it is time to be debating solutions and implementing those solutions. The kids are all right. They want us to take action. They do. However, a price on carbon that does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and puts people out of work in this country, and allows countries like China to get away with producing goods in a high-carbon jurisdiction while we buy them, is not action. That is politics. That is morally bankrupt.
Since this might be one of the last times I speak in this House in this Parliament, I want to thank all my constituents in Calgary Nose Hill for giving me the opportunity to fight for them. It is important. I would just say to them that we fought hard. We fought the Liberal government at every turn, and we have had great success in holding it to account and making it step back on some of the policies.
Now the time to fight goes to my constituents, so I ask them to join us.
View John Nater Profile
View John Nater Profile
2019-06-18 13:24 [p.29293]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to this motion. Canadians do care about the environment. Canadians care about the environment, and they care about climate change. Constituents in my riding of Perth—Wellington care about the environment and climate change. They tell me that. Small businesses, families and the agricultural community care about the environment. After all, farmers are the original conservationists. They are closest to the ground, closest to the natural resources and closest to the natural environment that they depend on for their livelihoods and way of life, so they care about this. They care about what we as a country and we as a Parliament are doing for the environment and to combat climate change.
I also hear from my constituents about the negative impact the policies of the Liberal government are having on their families, their communities and small businesses in Perth—Wellington. They tell me on their doorsteps, write to my office and send emails, and I see it on social media. They are concerned about the rising cost of living. They are concerned about the impact and effect the carbon tax is having on the cost of taking their kids to soccer practice, driving to a part-time job, running their businesses and caring for their families. They are concerned about this. They are concerned that they are being taxed and taxed again, and seeing no tangible impact of those changes.
Today's motion is very simple. It calls on the House to express its opinion that we should repeal the carbon tax, which it has been shown will not meet the Paris targets. In fact, it will fall far short of meeting those targets. The motion calls on the House to endorse a real environment plan. I am proud to say that tomorrow Canadians will see what a real environment plan looks like.
The government fails to understand that people in my riding and Canadians across the country are not wasteful people. They care about the environment, and they care about their communities. They do not waste. They are already making changes where they can. They have made their best efforts and are continuing to make their best efforts, because they care.
I recently came across a comment by a small business owner just outside of St. Marys, Ontario. She wrote that as she listened to our Prime Minister stumble over the question regarding how his family were changing their lifestyle to help the environment, she thought of her husband, whom she called the unintentional environmentalist. He has flown on an airplane once in his life, in 1991, to attend a friend's wedding in B.C. His idea of a holiday is a day trip to a local museum or pioneer village, or a train ride to Toronto to watch a ball game. A fun Saturday night is staying home watching the game on TV. He has never used a fast-food drive-through. He does not even drink coffee.
On the rare occasion that he goes out for something to eat, he always goes into the restaurant to dine. When he goes to work, he packs a lunch in a reusable container and fills his water jug from the tap. His favourite drink, milk, is purchased from the local variety store in recyclable jugs. He shops locally, and the limited clothing in his closet comes from work, the township or sports team sources. His little Honda only leaves the driveway when there is a purpose, and he does multiple errands where possible. Christmas and birthday gifts are books, given and received, not trinkets from offshore. One can see his footprint is quite small.
That is reflective of so many Canadians, so many of my constituents and so many Canadians across the country who are making an effort. Then they see the Liberal government taxing them more, and they see a Prime Minister who, when asked the very simple question of what he personally and his family are doing, stumbled over his own words and made some incoherent comment about a “drink box-water bottle-sort of thing”. That is not good enough for Canadians. It is not good enough for Canadians who are making a real effort to reduce their carbon footprint. It is not good enough for Canadians who are struggling to get by because of the cost of having the Liberals in office.
Rural communities like mine are struggling because of these costs. They do not have the benefit of mass transit systems that our urban cousins have. Someone who works in Atwood but lives in Listowel cannot take a bus to work; someone who lives in Stratford cannot take a subway to St. Marys to visit family, and a person in Arthur cannot take a transit bus to Mount Forest for appointments. It is not possible, yet this carbon tax is putting an added burden on these Canadians.
I often hear about the cost of heating people's homes, and of course the carbon tax is increasing the cost of heating homes. Luckily, the Conservative Party has proposed to lower the cost of heating homes by removing the GST portion of the HST from home heating to help families get ahead.
The problem we see is that the Liberals are not talking about an environment plan. It is a tax plan. It is a tax plan that they claim takes with one hand and gives back with the other hand, but we see them reaching into both pockets. Their rebate plan was clearly not as advertised: We saw Canadians in Ontario being told they would receive $307 back, yet the vast majority received far less than promised.
We see the Liberals, at every opportunity they get, fearmongering. They say that anyone who is opposed to the carbon tax is somehow a climate change denier. They use strong-man arguments to try to paint hard-working Canadians and the opposition as climate change deniers. However, at the end of the day, we know that the Liberals are just using empty, symbolic gestures rather than taking real action. Real action is what Conservatives take.
Real action is what Conservatives will take once again in October when we are given the honour, hopefully, of serving this great country. It was a Conservative government, under Brian Mulroney, that introduced, signed and ratified the acid rain treaty. Contrast that with the Liberal government, which signed the Kyoto protocol and then did nothing. I am proud to be a member of the Conservative government that, during its time in office, actually saw emissions decrease.
We often talk about coal-fired power plants. In fact, it was a Conservative government in 2001 in Ontario that began the process of phasing out coal in Ontario, having a meaningful and real impact on emissions in Perth—Wellington and across Canada. In my riding, many people heat their homes with natural gas. It is fascinating that the Liberal carbon tax gives a more favourable rate to coal than it does to natural gas, which is a far cleaner use of electricity and energy. Once again, the Liberals do not care about that. They care about revenues and money, and that is exactly what the Liberal plan is: a tax plan.
Yesterday we saw the Liberals vote in favour of declaring a climate change emergency, which is a symbolic gesture but has no meaningful or tangible impact. The NDP member for New Westminster—Burnaby said, “I have to comment on what just transpired. The Liberals are slapping each other on the back because they passed a motion that is meaningless.”
That is exactly what we are seeing with the Liberals: meaningless gestures rather than taking real action. Real action is what we will see tomorrow, when the Conservatives unveil our plan.
I realize that my time is running short, but I want to make a few final comments. The carbon tax is not benefiting our environment. In fact, in 2016 Canada was 44 megatonnes over its Paris target. In 2017, that number rose to 66 megatonnes. Last year, it was 103 megatonnes above the Paris commitment.
Then we find out from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that the only way the Liberals will even come close to hitting their Paris targets is if they increase by five times the cost of the carbon tax, from $20 today to $102. That means people in ridings across Ontario and Canada could be paying as much as 23¢ per litre of gasoline more into the coffers of the Liberal government.
Under the Conservative plan, we will have the best chance of meeting our Paris targets. Under the Conservative plan, we will have a meaningful commitment to the environment, a meaningful plan to combat climate change and a meaningful plan that will benefit all Canadians, rather than the tax plan that we see from the Liberals.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2019-06-18 16:20 [p.29322]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Red Deer—Mountain View.
Before I launch into debate today, I just want to recognize Bombardier Patrick Labrie, who died tragically this week while serving his country in Bulgaria. As a serving soldier in Canada's armed forces reserves and as a parliamentarian, I know that the thoughts and prayers of this House go out to the Labrie family. We thank Patrick for his service. I appreciate that we can all come together in this House to support the men and women of our armed forces. It is very important. It is not a partisan issue.
Getting into the debate, it is my pleasure to rise and talk about this opposition day motion on carbon taxes and the environment. It is not an issue that we as Conservatives are afraid to talk about, because we have a very strong record on this issue. At the beginning of the previous Conservative mandate in 2007, greenhouse gas emissions in this country were 744 million megatonnes. By the end of our mandate in 2015, we had brought that number down significantly, below the 744 million megatonnes, while also growing our economy. That is a significant feat that we should be very proud of.
It is all very clear that this was done without the imposition of a carbon tax on Canadians. The government has a clear framework, an example given to it by previous governments, of what can be done to lower greenhouse gas emissions while not putting taxes on hard-working families when they fill up at the pump, when they are heating homes in these cold Canadian winters and when they go to buy groceries or anything that gets trucked in.
I rose today because this debate is important for our country and for the world, but it is also very important for my constituency. The reason is that my constituency, along with the constituency of the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, is the home of Alberta's industrial heartland region. This is a hub in Canada for carbon capture and sequestration technology.
Under the previous government, significant investments were made to partner with industry to find ways to tangibly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This technology has been recognized by the International Energy Agency as one of the key pillars in ensuring sustainable and meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
On the other side of my riding, it is an important issue because Parkland County is home to a significant number, I believe over one-third, of Canada's remaining coal-fired generation plants. Decisions by the federal Liberals and the previous provincial NDP government in Alberta on carbon taxes and red tape have had serious consequences in my community, including job losses in the thousands and the loss of tens of millions of dollars in assessed tax revenues for municipal and county governments.
My remarks today are going to highlight the consequences of these policies, but I also want to highlight the opportunities and tangible things we can do to bring down greenhouse gas emissions and support our industries.
Going over the history of this, in 2015 the NDP government came to power in Alberta, and subsequently there was a federal government decision to unilaterally end coal power by 2030. These events presented significant challenges to my community, as well as undermining the livelihoods of my constituents and putting into doubt our ability to supply affordable power.
Under the previous Conservative government, Canada took a responsible, continent-wide approach with our closest ally and neighbour, the United States, to begin phasing out coal power. I recognize that coal has high CO2 emissions and that we need significant action in order to meet our Paris climate change targets. However, I could not disagree more with the path the government has taken on this issue.
Going back to the previous Conservative policy, we would have phased out most coal-fired power plants in this country before 2030. Now, not a lot of that is different from the current government's policies, but this is where the bulk of greenhouse gas emission reductions are going to take place, mostly from plants that were already ending their life cycle before 2030 anyway. There would have been no major cost to taxpayers, no unexpected job losses, and no unexpected revenue losses for communities.
We also allowed for some of the newest and latest coal facilities, one of which was built as recently as 2012, to run through their life cycles, up until 2045. This would have resulted in significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions, while ensuring that taxpayers would not be put on the line for billions of dollars to bail out companies for transitioning from coal to natural gas, which is what many were doing anyways. I will talk about the specific penalties later.
I am proud of the investments of the previous Conservative government, to the tune of billions of dollars, to support industries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through carbon capture and sequestration. I want to highlight a couple of projects in this country.
We have Shell's Quest refinery, which has just celebrated its fourth megatonne. Four million tonnes of CO2 have been sequestered at its facility and put into deep saline aquifers. That is four million tonnes of CO2 that is not in our atmosphere today because of an investment by the previous, Conservative government. We also have the North West Redwater refinery project, which is in my riding of Sturgeon River—Parkland. When this, the newest refinery in Canada, becomes fully operational, it will sequester an estimated 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 a year. These are tangible emissions levels.
As the government is falling short of its Paris climate change agreement by 79 million tonnes, facilities in my riding are, on their own, processing over a million tonnes, with facilities next to my riding already achieving four million tonnes. These are not just chump change numbers. These are significant numbers that, if replicated across the country and across industries, can have a massive effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This can be done with very little support from the government and without imposing a carbon tax on hard-working families.
These projects were the result of partnerships with the federal government. They were expensive when they were first implemented, but we have to remember that with technology there are often high barriers to entry. We certainly saw this with a lot of our renewable industries, including with solar and wind power. We know that the consequences of government decisions have raised the cost of power for everyone in the province of Ontario.
There are high costs to doing this, but we know that once this technology is put in place and we learn from it, it will come down significantly in price. Comments from Shell have indicated that it could replicate the Quest refinery project for 30% less than Quest cost. It was about a $700-million project, and Shell could do it for 30% cheaper. This is an investment that we should be replicating in this country moving forward.
That is why I find it disappointing that with respect to CCS in this country, we have not really seen a lot of progress over the last four years. I just checked out the National Energy Board website today. It indicated that there are four major projects in this country. We have the Redwater refinery; Shell's Quest project, which I mentioned; the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, which is also in my riding; and a project in Fort Nelson, northern B.C., which, at full capacity, could sequester an estimated 2.2 million tonnes of CO2. However, since 2015, we have heard nothing about this project. There was previous government support of about $30 million from the B.C. government and the federal Conservative government, but the current government has taken no action.
How can the government be leaving a project like this on the shelf? We are talking about 2.2 million tonnes of CO2. That is over 2% of what we need in this country to achieve our climate change goals, yet the government, which I believe is ideologically opposed to carbon capture and sequestration, has refused to support projects like this.
I am going to be pushing for the next Conservative government to take up these opportunities and increase Canada's investment in carbon capture and sequestration so we can come up with tangible results on greenhouse gas emissions. I feel very strongly that this will be the case.
I also want to quickly talk about carbon pricing. The government has talked about increasing gas by 23¢ a litre after the election, but Canadians already pay. Up to 30% of the price of a litre of gas is federal levy, provincial levy, the GST and, in some provinces, the HST. We are already paying carbon taxes, and we are talking about 23¢ more per litre. That is going to be nearly 50% of the cost of a litre of fuel. It is just a tax plan; it is not an environment plan, plain and simple.
View Linda Duncan Profile
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-06-06 17:12 [p.28722]
moved that Bill C-438, An Act to enact the Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights and to make related amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Madam Speaker, there are many in this place who know that I have long awaited the opportunity to debate this bill again. It is Bill C-438, an act to enact the Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights and to make related amendments to other acts, because that includes an amendment to the bill of rights.
This is the fourth time that I have tabled this bill in 11 years in this place over three Parliaments. I believe the first time I tabled it was as soon as I was elected, somewhere between 2008 and 2009. That bill was debated and went through committee, and I will get into that in a minute. Today, in the brief time I am allotted, I hope to say what an environmental bill of rights is, what its origin is, why it is needed, and who has endorsed the need for an environmental bill of rights.
The environmental bill of rights legally extends the right to a healthy, ecologically balanced environment to Canadians. It confirms the duty of the Government of Canada to uphold its public trust duty to protect the environment. It amends the Canadian Bill of Rights to add environmental rights. It extends a bundle of rights and tools to Canadians, including having a voice in decisions impacting their health and environment, having standing before courts and tribunals, and having the power to hold the government accountable on effective environmental enforcement and on the review of law and policies. It extends protections for government whistle-blowers who release to Canadians information that is relevant to health and environmental impacts.
As I mentioned, I have tabled this bill four times over 11 years in three successive governments. My bill actually survived a challenge and gained a speaker's ruling in my favour when the Conservatives tried to crush it in 2009. It did proceed to second reading and on to committee. Sadly, it was essentially shredded at committee. It then died on the Order Paper when the early election was called.
I retabled it again, as I mentioned, in 2011 and 2015 and again in a revised, updated form in 2019.
Why is an environmental bill of rights needed? Community voices, the voices of non-governmental organizations and indigenous voices are absolutely critical triggers for action to protect health and the environment. Federal law and policy is made all the stronger with public engagement, and public rights are absolutely critical to government accountability. That has been my direct experience over the almost 50 years that I have been an environmental lawyer and advocate.
I want to now give a couple of examples of what happens when the public is engaged and their rights are upheld, and what happens when they are not.
One strong example is an engagement that I had, along with a small community organization in Alberta. We were dealing with how to improve air emissions from coal-fired power. Coal-fired power is still the major source of electricity in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and it is huge in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Mercury from coal-fired power is the largest source of industrial mercury in North America, and mercury is a neurotoxin. It was the first substance listed by the federal government under the former Environmental Contaminants Act and was incorporated into the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, yet to this day, the federal government has never regulated mercury from coal-fired power.
I intervened as a volunteer in the review of the standards. It is a consensus process. I dug in my heels. If industry wanted to get their emissions standards for NOx, sulfur dioxide particulate, they had to agree to my recommendation that mercury had to be captured by that sector, and there had to be a law in place. To the credit of the Alberta government, they enacted that law.
That is a clear example showing that had my community not intervened, neither the federal nor the provincial government would have stepped forward, after 40 years of burning coal in Alberta, to actually stop the flow of mercury into our lakes.
Another example that we have been talking about over the last couple of months in this place is the issue of mercury at Grassy Narrows, and there is a different example. If the indigenous community at Grassy Narrows had been directly engaged in decisions on how those industrial operations were going to operate in their community and along the river and had been engaged on the issue of whether or not it was safe to put effluent that had high levels of mercury contamination into the river, and if they had been given the information on the potential health and environmental impacts and a seat at the table to have a say in how that plan should operate, I do not believe that we would be facing the health impacts and the expense of cleaning up that area now.
Those are the two differences in what happens when we have some environmental rights, the opportunity to be at the table and access to information. The other, Grassy Narrows, is an example of where we did not do that and there is a high cost, both health-wise and financially.
A number of times in this place I have raised concern with the impact of emissions on the indigenous community next to the Sarnia industrial complex and the failure of both levels of government to combat those and do proper health studies and control. That community has struggled just in trying to get basic information on what the emissions are, whether controls are in place and whether it is impacting their health.
Ongoing frustration was felt by indigenous communities in northern Alberta when they attempted to finally have a health impact study delivered in their communities on the impact of oil sands emissions on their health, despite the fact that there was a release quite some years ago about the high rate of rare cancers. A lot of work was also done by scientists, showing a buildup of contaminants in the Athabasca River, in the air and on the land.
Just this week, three chiefs in that area published an article in The Hill Times. They said the oil sands is the only activity in their area for employment and economic development. They invest in the oil sands. They demand to have a seat at the table on decisions as to whether or not they are going to allow the draining of the contaminated water in those tar ponds into the Athabasca River. It is going to contaminate the Athabasca River on to Lake Athabasca and on into the Northwest Territories. This has been going on for many years and the government, behind closed doors, has been making these decisions.
This is a perfect example of the need for an environmental bill of rights. If we had an environmental bill of rights, those communities would have the right to all that information, the right to the process that is going on, and the right to have a seat at the table in determining whether or not that is a wise decision.
The Mikisew Cree eventually had to go to UNESCO to demand that there be action on the impact of the Site C dam, the Bennett dam and the oil sands operations on the Peace-Athabasca Delta and the world heritage site. They issued directives, and we are still waiting for the government to act on those directives.
Two other final examples are pipelines. If the former Conservative government had actually listened to its advisers, if it had listened to first nations and if it had listened to the environmental community, it would have known it could not proceed with the northern gateway pipeline until it respected first nations' rights and interests. It was the same issue on the TMX pipeline, but as the court held, there was no consideration under the government obligations with regard to endangered species. Therefore, those projects have been stalled or cancelled.
If we had an environmental bill of rights, it would clarify the right to participate, the right to access to information and the right to access to experts and to legal counsel, so that one could come to the table in a constructive and informed way.
Who has endorsed this concept? Some provinces and territories have enacted an array of environmental rights, and some of those limited rights have been enacted in federal laws. Sadly, a good number of those laws were downgraded by the Harper government. That government downgraded the federal impact assessment process, thereby limiting the opportunities for people to participate and the kinds of projects that would be reviewed, including the expansion of oil sands projects and in situ operations.
The Liberals promised in the 2015 campaign that they would immediately strengthen federal environmental laws. Four years into it there is still no action on the report of my committee on reforming CEPA, which would have expanded environmental rights, and we do not know what the fate of Bill C-69 is. We are waiting with bated breath to know what will happen to all of those regressive amendments proposed in the Senate.
The North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation was a side agreement to NAFTA. It was enforced by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, where I had the privilege of working for four years as the head of law and enforcement. Under that agreement, Canada, along with Mexico and the United States, committed to public participation in conserving, protecting and enhancing the environment. It also committed to giving people the opportunity to comment on proposed environmental measures and the right to seek a report on effective environmental enforcement, stand before administrative, quasi-judicial and judicial proceedings, and have access to remedies. Those are exactly the provisions that are in the bill before us today.
Canada already committed years ago to move forward and uphold these rights. Therefore, I have tabled this proposal over and over again to try to encourage the government to respond to the current trade law. In a minute, I will speak about what the government could have done and was asked to do.
There is a side agreement to the proposed new trade law. However, I am sad to say it has been downgraded from the existing one. All of the trade deals that have been signed and sealed since NAFTA have downgraded the environmental rights enshrined in the side agreements.
The United Nations Human Rights Council special rapporteur was asked to look into human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a clean, safe, healthy and sustainable environment. He travelled the world for four years. On behalf of the Human Rights Council, he issued an environmental bill of rights framework for all nations to adopt. Guess what. It is exactly the framework in my bill.
Over 90 nations have extended these rights through constitutions, laws, court rulings, international treaties or declarations. Canada is far behind.
In 2009, the Aarhus convention was signed by many countries of the world, and in large part by European and Scandinavian nations. It committed the signatories to provide access to information, public participation decision-making and access to justice and environmental matters. Canada said it did not have to sign it because it was already extending those rights. In fact, it has not done that yet.
Recently, to the credit of many in this place, many members of Parliament signed the environmental rights pledge issued by the David Suzuki Foundation through the Blue Dot campaign. We had a big celebration on Monday night, celebrating the fact that so many parliamentarians were committed to enacting environmental rights.
This is something interesting. In 2018, the Liberals held a federal convention and passed a resolution. That resolution reminded the Liberals that in June 2010, all Liberals members of Parliament present in the House of Commons voted in favour of Bill C-469, which was my environmental bill of rights. The convention reminded the members that the United Nations recognized environmental rights as a basic human right. They then passed a resolution, saying that the Liberal Party of Canada urged the Government of Canada to enact legislation establishing a Canadian environmental bill of rights.
I have said all along, since the first day I was elected in 2008, that I would welcome the government of the day taking my bill and enacting a full-fledged bill. Here we are with a couple of weeks left in this place and nothing has occurred. That is why I am delighted I can debate the bill, and I look forward to the response of some of my colleagues.
To date, over 3,000 Canadians have signed petitions, both e-petitions and hard-copy petitions, saying that they support the enactment of this environmental bill of rights. Ecojustice, the David Suzuki Foundation and, most recently, the Social Justice Cooperative Newfoundland and Labrador have endorsed this bill and called for action by the government to enact this law.
I look forward to hearing the comments from other parties in the House. It has been my absolute pleasure to work with other members of Parliament on environmental matters. I know there are strong promoters of environmental rights here, and I hope to hear from them this evening.
View Terry Duguid Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Terry Duguid Profile
2019-05-16 17:37 [p.27976]
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the member for Repentigny.
Climate change is real. It is an urgent problem driven by human activity. Scientific data presented in the recent “Canada's Changing Climate Report” makes it clear that our country is warming at twice the global rate. In Canada's north, change is happening even faster.
We are seeing the devastating impacts of climate change across the country. Rivers are rising higher during floods. Droughts are parching crops. Forest fires are burning longer, hotter and more often.
Manitoba has already been hit hard by climate change. The 2011 and 2014 floods cost us some $1 billion each and forced the evacuation of thousands of people. This spring, parts of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick were devastated by floods. What used to be the flood of the century seems to be happening every few years now. Canadians are growing more and more concerned about the damaging and costly impacts of our destabilizing weather on our infrastructure, on our communities and on our environment.
Canadians expect their leaders to take action on the very real threats from climate change. The federal Liberal government's climate plan will achieve historic reductions in emissions through over 50 practical and affordable measures, including putting a price on pollution.
Our federal plan is fair and affordable. In the provinces where the federal price on pollution will apply, we are returning all the money collected back to Canadians. Let me be clear: The federal government is not keeping a cent. Ninety per cent is going right back to citizens through the climate action incentive tax rebate. The remaining 10% will help businesses, schools, hospitals, universities, municipalities and indigenous communities shift to a cleaner economy. An average family of four in my province of Manitoba will get $339 through its 2018 tax return under our federal plan. Most Canadian families will save more in taxes than they will pay in the carbon price increase. Citizens will also have a greater incentive to make greener choices.
We know that a price on pollution is the most affordable and effective measure we can take to bring down harmful emissions. In 2018, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer won a Nobel Prize for their work on the economics of climate change. Nordhaus argues that the most sensible response to climate change is to price carbon pollution. Romer asserts that the problem is not knowing what to do; the problem is getting a consensus to act, which we do not seem to have in this chamber.
Another key part of the federal government's plan to tackle climate change is setting ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets that will see Canada's emissions reduced by 30% from our 2005 levels. By 2030, we aim to reduce our output from 815 megatonnes of emissions to 523 megatonnes.
We intend to phase out our coal power by 2030 as well. Coal power that causes pollution today results in close to 10% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, smog from coal power plants can lead to asthma and respiratory illness, especially for children and seniors, and it adds to the burden on our health care system. Accelerating the phasing out of coal-fired electricity in Canada by 2030 will help reduce carbon pollution by more than five megatonnes in 2030, the equivalent of moving 1.3 million cars off the roads. It will also mean cleaner air and healthier lives for Canadians.
Through our budget 2019, we are making zero-emission vehicles accessible for more Canadians and are creating a new home retrofit program to help people lower their electricity and energy bills.
Our federal government is collaborating with scientists and economists on practical actions that work. We know this makes good ecological and economic sense. The whole world is looking for clean solutions, and the market for those solutions is estimated to be worth $26 trillion. That is bigger than the Canadian, U.S. and U.K. economies combined. A price on pollution gives Canadian businesses an added incentive to innovate, compete and lead in the dawning low-carbon economy. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and we cannot let Conservative politicians hold Canada back.
The time for debate over what to do about climate change has come and gone. The science is clear and the window of opportunity to safeguard our planet as a healthy home for future generations is closing. Now is the time to come together, as our Minister of Environment and Climate Change said today. Why, then, are Conservative politicians across this country ignoring evidence, putting roadblocks in front of positive climate action and using this issue to divide Canadians? It reminds me of the Stephen Harper decade of environmental backsliding and muzzling of scientists.
While a cabal of provincial Conservative leaders like Doug Ford, Jason Kenney and Scott Moe wish to spend time and money fighting carbon pricing in the courts instead of fighting climate change, the federal Conservatives are still choosing to ignore science.
I am very disappointed in my own premier, Brian Pallister, who has joined the cabal by flip-flopping on his original position to put a price on pollution. Not only are the Conservatives ignoring the reality of climate change, but they are also misleading Canadians. Recently, Conservative MPs mailed a tax guide to households that does not tell people how to claim their climate action incentive rebate. That could cost a family hundreds of dollars if it is tricked into not claiming what it is entitled to. The Conservatives say they are on the side of the middle class, but how could they deny money to middle-class citizens who are entitled to those funds?
The fact is that, in 2019, if a government does not have a plan for the environment, a government does not have a plan for the economy. Conservative politicians will spread myths and misinformation about fighting climate change, but by investing in the clean economy now, we are actually creating the jobs of tomorrow and helping to lower the huge future costs to society resulting from climate-related disasters.
The Government of Canada proposes a motion that recognizes that climate change is a real, urgent crisis caused by human activity that impacts our environment, biodiversity, economy and health.
Fighting climate change is the greatest collective challenge we face. It is a tough battle and we cannot let ourselves be distracted by partisan posturing. The world is changing, and one day soon we will pass it on to our kids and our grandkids. We owe them our very best, most well-informed, most united effort. Supporting our federal government's motion to declare a national climate emergency and commit to meeting the Paris targets is the first united step we can take to fight climate change together and protect the environment that we as Canadians love.
I hope all parties will join us in supporting the motion.
View Bill Morneau Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bill Morneau Profile
2018-11-21 16:12 [p.23680]
Mr. Speaker, the fact is that when the members opposite push for an aggressive elimination of the deficit, what they really mean is aggressive cuts in services, cuts that would make life harder for people and for families. That is not what we want for Canada, and it is not what Canadians want for themselves.
We choose a different path: one that is a targeted, measured and fiscally responsible; one that encourages businesses to invest in growth, and create more good, well-paying jobs for middle-class Canadians; one that makes it clear to businesses that if they have a choice to invest on either side of the border, Canada is the smart and sensible choice. This path ensures that our federal debt-to-GDP ratio continues on a steady downward track.
It is worth remembering that we already have the best balance sheet among our key allies, and that our government has made an absolute commitment to maintaining that competitive advantage in a volatile world.
I will tell you why it is important to get the fundamentals right. As much as we are taking positive actions today to help grow the economy and invest in middle-class jobs, the reality is that there are challenges all around us.
The challenges range from the uncertainty about the global economy to concerns about lingering trade disputes to the challenges facing the oil and gas sector in Alberta, which is contending today with very low crude oil prices. The market prices are so low compared with international benchmarks. That is why we are matching our words with actions, to ensure that we can achieve greater market access for our resources in the right way.
Let there be no mistake. We could have ignored the concerns of business leaders, decided not to make the investments and the changes that are part of the fall economic statement, and we would have had a lower deficit as a result. To have done so would have been neither a rational response nor a responsible one.
We are choosing, once again, to trust Canadians—the people who put their trust in us. We know that if we give Canadian businesses more opportunities to succeed and grow, they will do just that. One of the greatest opportunities for Canada's economy is connected to the global shift toward clean growth.
In 2016, our government worked with provinces and territories, in consultation with indigenous peoples, to reach Canada's first ever national clean growth and climate action plan. It is a comprehensive plan that invests in public transit, phases out coal power, invests in clean energy, prices pollution and supports energy efficiency across Canada.
Conservative politicians here in the House and in some provincial capitals want to bury their heads in the sand and ignore what is happening to the climate and to the economy. They want to make pollution free again and let our kids and grandkids deal with the consequences. We are not going to let that happen. Pollution was free, so we had too much of it. This is the root of the problem, and we are going to fix it.
After three years of strong action, Canada is now poised to lead and succeed in the global clean growth economy, an opportunity that is estimated to be worth $26 trillion in the next dozen years. To help get us there, we are announcing our intention to create an advisory council on climate action that would give our government expert advice on how we can further reduce pollution and encourage economic growth in two crucial areas: the transportation sector and the building sector.
We intend to name two Canadian clean growth leaders, Steven Guilbeault and Tamara Vrooman, to help lead that work.
It is not enough to simply clean up the economy. We need to make a cleaner economy more affordable to middle-class Canadians. That is why our government will not keep any of the revenues from pricing pollution. We will return every single penny to provinces and territories where we collect it, and 80% of Canadian families will be better off as a result.
Our government is confident that if we give Canadian businesses more opportunities to succeed and grow they will meet and exceed all expectations.
To encourage businesses to invest in their own growth and create more good, well-paying jobs, our government proposes to allow businesses to immediately write-off for tax purposes the full cost of machinery and equipment used in the manufacturing and processing of goods.
We will also allow specified clean energy equipment to be eligible for an immediate write-off of the full cost. This will help achieve climate goals and boost Canada's global competitiveness.
In response to requests from the business community, we are also introducing a new accelerated investment incentive, an accelerated capital cost allowance for businesses of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy. This incentive will encourage more businesses to invest in assets that will drive business growth over the long term, setting the stage for more good middle-class jobs across our country.
Our government is also setting an ambitious agenda to make Canada the most globally connected economy in the world. We are already well on our way. With the successful conclusion of the new NAFTA, as well as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, we now have comprehensive free trade agreements with countries representing two-thirds of the world's GDP.
Canada is now the only G7 country to have free trade agreements with all other G7 countries.
We want to give Canadian businesses more opportunities to grow, succeed and create good, well-paying jobs. That is why we are launching an export diversification strategy, to directly support Canadian businesses to grow their overseas sales by 50% by 2025.
Here at home we are going to work with our provincial and territorial partners to remove barriers to internal trade within Canada. Specifically, we will work to find ways to ensure that businesses can transport goods more easily, to harmonize food regulations and inspections, to align regulations in the construction sector and to facilitate greater trade in alcohol.
We will also take steps to modernize regulations so that it is easier for Canadian businesses to grow, and we will do that in ways that continue to protect Canadians' health and safety as well as that of the environment.
We intend to move forward with additional investments that will help Canadian innovators add value, succeed and grow.
Because our economy is doing well, we also have the fiscal room to continue to follow through on the commitments we made to Canadians.
We know that the best solutions for Canada's big challenges come from Canadians themselves. When charities, non-profit and social enterprises have access to capital and investment, they can innovate and go further than government can do alone. That is exactly what we are doing today by launching a new social finance fund.
We have also been working with local residents to reform the Nutrition North Canada program so that this program ensures better access to affordable, nutritious traditional food and is transparent, effective and accountable to northerners and other Canadians.
A key part of Canada's digital and creative advantage is our francophone culture. The protection and promotion of that culture unlocks enormous economic opportunity, not just in Canada but around the world. That is why we are helping to create a new francophone digital platform, in partnership with TV5MONDE public broadcasters.
To protect the vital role that independent news media play in our democracy and in our communities, we will be introducing measures to help support journalism in Canada.
To help sustain Canada's wild fish stocks and the communities that rely on them, we will invest in efforts to rebuild fish stocks. We will also introduce two new funds: a British Columbia salmon restoration and innovation fund and a Quebec fisheries fund to support the fish and seafood sectors in those two provinces.
What these and the other measures in the fall economic statement all have in common is this. They are all part of our government's plan to follow through on the commitments we made to Canadians to strengthen and grow the middle class and to offer real help to people working hard to join it; to grow the economy and invest in the middle class; and to give Canadians the help they need to succeed, by making smart investments to grow our economy for the long term, while we bring the books back toward balance.
That is what Canadians expect of us. That is what we promised, and that is exactly what we are doing.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-11-21 17:12 [p.23688]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to respond to the hon. Minister of Finance's presentation.
I will note that I have never seen a display as rude as the heckling of the Minister of Finance during his speech in this place. I wish that did not happen in this place, because it brings disrepute on us all. I disagreed with much of what the Minister of Finance said, but we owe respect to the officers of this place and to our executive in a government. We are here as members of Parliament to hold the Liberals to account, not to ridicule them as if we were in a school yard.
I apologize for taking a moment to act like a schoolmarm, but I just could not help myself.
To the matter in front of us, I want to say how disappointed I am that in an opportunity to respond to the intergovernmental panel on climate change report that we must hold global average temperatures to 1.5°, that the document apparently did not cross the Minister of Finance's desk. This is not an issue that can be pigeonholed, where the cabinet can afford to say that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change or the Minister of Natural Resources can worry about whether our children will have a livable planet, because that is just one of those other issues that is less important than its finances.
For every member in this place, particularly to the Prime Minister and his cabinet, no issue comes close to discussing whether this planet will be habitable for human beings in the lifetime of our children. It is a rather important issue and it is completely ignored in this document.
Let us look at what was discussed. We have to be serious about ensuring we change our plan so Canada is not be held up as it was recently in the scientific study and earlier referenced in this place. If every country on earth followed Canada's plans for climate, we would not hold to 1.5° and we would be in the worst category there is. We would be in with China and Russia, taking this planet to 5.1°, which is a level of danger that can only be described as an existential threat to the survival of humanity on this planet. That means it is important.
Let me put it very clearly. Climate change is not an environmental issue. Climate change is a security threat that eclipses all of the terrorists one could find on the planet. It is a security threat that should awaken in every responsible member in the House a determination to rise up and meet that challenge.
I am convinced Canadians from coast to coast want to be given the tools. They want to know what they can do. We should ask the Rotary clubs, the Lions clubs, the church groups, every volunteer organization in our country what they would like to do. If they want to start installing solar panels, we could help them. If they want to plant trees everywhere, we could help them with that. If they want young people to know what they can do so they to make a difference and to protect their future, we could be there for them. We need leadership.
We have to look at the advice we have had from serious studies of how we get to a place where we have security for our future, a planet that will not only sustain life but will allow us to thrive. We have had the benefit of a very hospitable planet ever since human beings first emerged as homo sapiens and left our monkey cousins behind. We have had the benefit of a very beneficial climate. We are at risk of losing it for good.
What would we do if we wanted to put ourselves on that good path? We know that because work has been done. The advice of the deep decarbonization project, which I will refer to quickly, is to first get all fossil fuels out of electricity, decarbonize our electricity grid, improve our east-west electricity grid so there is good connectivity for British Columbia to sell to Alberta, for Quebec to sell to all of the Maritimes and so on. The east-west grid needs work.
Then we want to get all the fossil fuels out of it and ensure we are able to go off fossil electricity entirely. That does not mean Alberta's plan of going off coal and going to fracked natural gas. That does not do it. It is about the same amount of greenhouse gas. Therefore, we do all of that and then we get rid of the internal combustion engine and go to electric vehicles. Then we ensure that every single building in the country is retrofitted to the highest energy efficiency standards, which will employ, according to the trade unions I have talked to about this, four million Canadians. That means jobs for more workers than we actually have needing jobs.
We take this apart and compare it to this document. What do we have on the priorities for removing barriers to trade within Canada? We have nothing on the barriers to selling electricity.
These are the four high profile areas identified by the government in a time of climate crisis. These are the four areas where there will be an opportunity to improve internal conduct of trade. It is going to improve the transporting of goods in the trucking industry. It is going to harmonize food regulations. It is going to align regulations in the construction sector. It is going to facilitate greater trade in alcohol between the provinces and territories across Canada.
I am not against any of those things. However, where is the east-west electricity grid anywhere in this discussion? Where is there any awareness of what needs to be done, how it could stimulate our economy, how it would create jobs and how it would protect our future?
As I look—
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2018-11-21 17:18 [p.23689]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the courtesy very much, so my friends in this place can hear me.
The east-west electricity grid is a very important part of putting together what we need to do to address the climate crisis. When I talk to groups in my riding, I say this to them. If they had a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces on a table in front of them, but they had lost the lid of the box, it would be very hard to solve the puzzle. However, if they paint the top of the box, it looks like this: get carbon fuels out of electricity; move our vehicle fleet to electric vehicles; do fuel switching for everything else, tractors, fishing boats, forest equipment using biodiesel; ensure all our buildings are as energy efficient as possible; and stop exploring and developing any more fossil fuels than the level we have now and use it domestically instead of trying to put it in pipelines to ship it to places that are not interested.
Instead, there is a pipeline reference in this document. Page 93 tells us what we already know, that we have spent $4.5 billion on a 65-year-old pipeline, and it refers to the idea that we may expand and build an additional one, but it does not indicate the price tag. If anyone wants to know the price tag for expanding the now owned by the Government of Canada Kinder Morgan pipeline, it is an additional $10 billion to $13 billion on top of the $4.5 billion we already have spent for an existing pipeline. It is actually referred to in the following sentence:
Should construction of the Expansion Project be permitted to recommence prior to a sale of the Trans Mountain entities, the Government will record construction and other associated expenditures as adding to the book value of the asset.
However, the opportunity cost of spending $10 billion to $13 billion on an expansion of that pipeline is extraordinary. Not only in this document, but in any document of the Government of Canada or document of the prior owner, Kinder Morgan, will we find a cost benefit analysis of what it really costs just in economics to build a pipeline to ship bitumen offshore.
The reason the Alberta Federation of Labour and Unifor, the biggest union representing oil sands workers, intervened at the National Energy Board to oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline was because it cost jobs and it did not diversify markets either. If anyone wants to track the real-life examples of where the dilbit goes that reaches the port in Burnaby now, it mostly goes to California. It is not diversified markets; it is just moving our oil, solid bitumen, not even crude, to the same places it can go over land.
If we are serious about this, if we want to be serious about a climate crisis, which is real, and we want to respond to the needs of Canadian society, this is not the document to produce.
We do have other critical issues in the country and while the climate crisis is an existential threat, I really do agree with the New Democratic Party's response, which is this would have been a good time to start getting pharmacare going, to give us that commitment, maybe in the spring budget, but we need pharmacare in the country.
I also know Jim. The hon. member mentioned him earlier. He is a veteran and he sits outside by the bridge next to the Chateau Laurier. He cannot afford his medications without people giving him money. We are the only country with universal health care that does not provide universal pharmacare. While we are at it, why are we not implementing Vanessa's Law, which was passed in the 41st Parliament, to take big pharma to task and make it publish its drug results? There is a lot we need to do in our country and this document does not say that we are committed to doing those things.
There many nice words in the document, I am not saying there are not. I welcome any document that says it is time we take the charitable sector seriously. However, there is nothing about when we will pull up our socks and live up to our commitments to make poverty history by increasing our overseas development assistance to 0.7% of our GNP. That commitment was made years ago, and we are falling backward compared to where we were under former prime minister Brian Mulroney. That was the highest it ever was with respect to our charitable sector, 0.45%, in 1992.
To wrap up, the late Jim MacNeill, a great Canadian who wrote the Brundtland report, said that the single most important environmental document prepared by any government was its budget.
This fall mini-budget fails entirely to respond to the single largest threat to our children's future. Let us hope that before we go to COP24 in Poland, we will see the government step up and say that it wants to be the climate leader it promised Canadians it would be.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2018-11-02 10:48 [p.23193]
Madam Speaker, some members come to the House of Commons and bring tremendous experience. Some do not bring experience, but bring a lot of levity. That is why I love the comments from my friend, the member from the Toronto Island airport, who spoke earlier today about coal-fired plants.
I would like my colleague from Alberta to actually talk about the irony of his comments on coal-fired plants. Not only did Dalton McGuinty not meet his intended targets on coal-fired plants, this bill would exempt coal-fired plants from the carbon tax.
Residents in my area of the Durham region, commuters, single seniors, will be paying the carbon tax, and the Liberals are exempting coal-fired plants.
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
View Earl Dreeshen Profile
2018-11-02 10:49 [p.23193]
Madam Speaker, the hypocrisy under this situation is amazing. I go out to Sheerness, which is close to my hometown in central Alberta, and that coal-fired plant is running full bore. People do not even know it is on. That is the technology we should be selling around the world, instead of shutting it down because of some plans the former Ontario Liberal government thought were important.
View Linda Duncan Profile
View Linda Duncan Profile
2018-10-15 18:37 [p.22367]
Mr. Speaker, despite the fact I am feeling very under the weather, which seems to be an appropriate saying for tonight, I had to be here to participate in this. I want to thank my colleagues, colleagues across the way and the member for the Green Party for calling this debate.
This matter of urgency did not happen simply because the IPCC told us to wake up, that we were already at the 1.5°C mark. The urgency was identified a long time ago. I happen to hold a very thick report issued by the Department of National Resources 23 years ago, calling for expedited action on climate change. That report was edited by an agricultural expert. There is a major chapter in that report about the impacts that were already being felt in Canadian agriculture then because of climate change.
This is a crisis that touches every corner of the country. Our colleagues in the Conservative Party represent a lot of farmers, and they should wake up and realize the impacts their farmers are facing.
In my province, we have faced unprecedented terrible weather this fall. We have not had a fall. We had a bumper crop, and so many of those crops have been downgraded in value because of early terrible weather, namely early snow and terrible rains. Those who rely on the construction industry, landscaping and nurseries have been devastated. This represents two months of incomes and this is just the beginning.
Those are what we might call “minor” impacts to small businesspeople, but the impacts are being felt across the globe. We simply need to look at our neighbours to the south in this continent to understand the devastation that has been wreaked upon us. We do not need the IPCC scientists, but we certainly need to heed them.
Many times over, Canada committed to Kyoto and the 2020 targets, which have passed by. The Harper government pulled out of the Kyoto targets and the Liberals have simply brushed away the 2020 targets, which the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development has decried. Are we simply going to brush away the 2030 targets? If we do not get serious, we are in serious trouble not only with respect to meeting our commitments in Paris, but even in meeting the reprehensibly low Harper government targets, which, amazingly, remain the targets of the Liberal government. It is time to get serious.
A question was asked about what other country we can give as an example. One of our trading partners, the United Kingdom, achieved 23% greenhouse gas reductions from 1999 levels by 2012, and it is on track for a 35% reduction of 1999 levels by 2020. We are not even basing our reductions on 1999 anymore. We have moved forward to the Harper target of the 2000s.
While the Liberals have supported this call for an emergency debate, sadly their commitments fall far short of responding to the urgent need for action.
It is really important for us to keep in mind, and particularly so given the comments from our colleagues in the Conservative Party, that the federal government does have powers to act on climate change. Yes, it is a good idea to also work in co-operation with the provinces and territories and with first nations, but the federal government has a duty to move when the provinces and territories are not moving. Recent elections in Canada have put a greater onus on the federal government, but it is the federal government that committed to the Paris targets, and it should therefore be the government held accountable.
What are the two key powers? The really important one is the spending power. The federal government collects dollars from Canadian taxpayers, and it decides how it is going to spend those dollars. Regrettably, despite commitments by the Harper regime and the Liberals of the day, the government has still not removed the perverse subsidies for fossil fuels. That would be a start. The investments in renewables and in energy efficiency in no way match those supporting the fossil fuel industry. If we are talking about making a shift toward a cleaner economy, that would be a simple first step.
Could the government please shift from pilot projects to significant federal investments for the deployment of renewable energy? We have had enough pilot projects. We have so many proven technologies, developed in this country and elsewhere, that can be deployed. Our communities need federal support to deploy those energy sources.
We need help in costing the smart grids and the interprovincial grids. There is a lot of talk about Manitoba Hydro being fed into Saskatchewan so that the latter can get off coal sooner, of Quebec hydro going into Ontario and lots of talk of BC Hydro going into Alberta. It would be nice if B.C. would give us a good price. However, the federal government could certainly help.
If we look at Bill C-69, a lot of the discussion during the expert panel was that it was unlikely that the National Energy Board, soon to become the new Canadian energy regulator, would actually deal with a lot of fossil fuel projects except for interprovincial grids. Therefore, the government needs to gearing up and talking about that and having a big dialogue about how it can help to expedite these improved grids.
The government needs to disburse the pan-Canadian funds now. We raised this three years ago. It has set aside this $1.5 billion dollars and some, and then sat on it, supposedly waiting for the provinces and territories to decide what they needed to do. My premier, Premier Notley, said to send it now. Thank heavens the province finally put in place an energy efficiency program and it was grateful for the infusion of dollars. If there were any way to get more people on side to understand that we need to put a price on carbon, we also need to help those who need a leg up to retrofit or build in cleaner ways. How about a little balancing?
Recently, dollars were given to the Northwest Territories. I have talked to my friends and colleagues there, and they are saying that it is merely symbolic. Imagine what it costs to build energy-efficient housing and buildings in the Northwest Territories, let alone Yukon and Nunavut. There are a lot of people interested, such as small energy companies, in deploying clean technology and building energy efficiency. Let us move forward our national building code. For heaven's sake, we learned at committee that it is not going to be in place until 2030. We need to have our housing and buildings built to a higher standard right now.
The transportation sector is on par with the fossil fuel industry in emitting GHGs, so we do not just need a major infusion of dollars, but to make sure that the federal government uses its regulatory powers and sticks with those stricter standards for large vehicles and, frankly, for trucks and SUVs.
The Harper government promised that it would use its regulatory power. In 10 years, it never issued a regulation on fossil fuels. I am sorry, but we cannot listen to what it did. It is more a case of what it did not do.
As I mentioned, the fixation seems to be on whether we should have a carbon tax and how much it should cost. Why are we not talking about the whole bundle of measures that need to happen in tandem with the carbon tax? There is no way that Canadians are going to look at a $50 a tonne carbon tax, let alone a $150 a tonne tax, which is projected to be necessary to stay at 1.5°C, unless there are measures in place to help them get there. In particular, I refer to those who cannot afford to do it, such as small business a lot of homeowners and apartment dwellers. A lot of people who have small businesses are renting from other people who own those buildings. They need support to lower their power bills.
We absolutely need the federal government to issue stronger regulations for controlling methane. Forty per cent is just not good enough. I encourage everyone in this place to take in one of those technical briefings that show that we can reduce far more methane if we require, as the technology exists. However, we need to require the monitoring of methane in tandem with the initial regulations. We can reduce our climate impacts in a large way if we get those industries to reduce their methane faster.
Also, I am concerned about the standards to be set for gas power. People need to be aware that the conversions from coal to gas are going to be much weaker than for new gas plants. Gas plants also emit a lot of greenhouse gases. Where is our timeline? What is the timeline for simply moving to cleaner sources of energy?
We need to be scaling up the investments in northern diesel. It is costing the northern governments hundreds of millions of dollars to transport that diesel to the communities and it is polluting those communities.
In terms of coal shutdown, where is the federal budget for a just transition for those working in the coal fire power sector? To its credit, a year ago Alberta committed $40 million to help retrain and support workers in that sector. All the government has done is to consult. It does not expect to even have a report until the end of this year. We need a major infusion of federal dollars to support both oil and gas, not just coal workers, and to shift to renewables.
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