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View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
I call this meeting to order.
Before we pick up where we left off, I just have a couple of very quick items to deal with.
At the last meeting, Ms. May raised a point about whether the motion that allows independent members to present amendments would allow her to speak to a motion of an independent member that is deemed inadmissible, and I said I would get that to her and members of the committee. I read the motion closely and discussed it with the legislative clerk. I don't have that interpretation and I'll mention why.
If you look at the motion, in part (b) about amendments from independent members, it says they “shall be deemed to be proposed during the said consideration”, so I take that to mean during the process and following the process that every member is part of.
I don't see it as being that the minute that the amendment is sent into the clerk, the independent member can speak to it even if it's inadmissible. Also, it doesn't make sense to me because that would mean that all members would be able to speak to their inadmissible motions.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
I have a point of order. I would prefer it, Mr. Chair, if you describe my role accurately. The motion says, independent or members of non-recognized parties.
I am not an independent member of Parliament.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
I apologize. I should have said—
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
I am a Green Party member of Parliament.
I had thought, Mr. Chair, that the third part of the motion is quite affirmative that each member is allowed to speak.
I understand your ruling. I'm not challenging you, and I know we are rather pressed for time, but in previous committees at which I have been appearing since this motion was first brought forward under the fiction that each committee chose to draft a motion that was identical to everyone else's motion, I've been allowed to speak to each of my amendments deemed to have been put forward.
I don't mean to trespass on your time any further if you want to finish what you were going to say, Mr. Chair.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
It says here that, during clause-by-clause, “the Chair shall allow a member who filed suggested amendments...an opportunity to make brief representations” as well. There's been no time limit really imposed on anyone, including the member from the Green Party, and the member from the Green Party makes substantive comments and is not filibustering the committee, so there's no need for enforcing the idea of brevity.
I guess, Ms. May, that means that when you do get the floor on an amendment that's admissible, there's nothing stopping you from referring back to an amendment that was inadmissible.
Anyway, I just wanted to get back to you on this. I did take it seriously and discussed it with the legislative clerk.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, I just wanted to briefly comment on this.
I've already raised many of the points specific to the amendments that Ms. May placed earlier, which you ruled inadmissible, so I won't go to that. I will talk about the future process.
As MP May referenced, she has gone to other committees and had different experiences. I don't want to undermine anyone's credibility, whether it be yourself or the law clerk, because I do believe that we're all trying to work together in good faith. One thing I would consider, Mr. Chair, is that I know there is a committee of all the chairs of committees, and this is something that perhaps you might want to bring three, because to have inconsistent rulings where you're making a judgment call and someone else is making a judgment call....
Perhaps the different House leaders who make these motions, compelling independent or non-recognized party members such as MP May to come to this process only to find out that she's not even able to speak in favour of it or to challenge a position.... To me, it's a principle of natural justice that if a ruling is given against your amendment, you would be able to speak to it.
Just for the sake of consistency, I would encourage you, Mr. Chair, to perhaps discuss this with other chairs and perhaps discuss it with the different House leaders, so that if a motion does come forward again perhaps there can be some clarity as to the admissibility or the ability of an independent or a non-recognized party member to be able to speak to it.
I believe that fundamentally we should be able to make reference to it, and it shouldn't be up to a member to make arguments on behalf of another member's rights. Those rights and privileges are something that we all should be looking out for in these kinds of cases.
I would ask you, Mr. Chair, just in the spirit of trying to make for a better process next time, to take this to your fellow chairs and discuss it perhaps with your—
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'll take it under advisement.
The other item is regarding an error in the French version of amendment G-8. The Senate picked this up in the prestudy.
The phrase is, in French, pris en compte, with no “e” on pris. We adopted prises, which is grammatically incorrect. I assume there is unanimous consent to revert to pris, instead of prises. As I say, it's a technicality.
Mr. Albas.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, before you seek unanimous consent, although I imagine you can ask for someone to do that, one of the things that I and other Conservative members have been arguing, and quite frankly, that I've also heard from MP May, is that this process has been rather—what's the word I'm looking for?—compressed. There has not been sufficient time to review and have proper discussion about these things.
Rather than have someone ask for unanimous consent and for us to deny it, right now, I'm a person who believes in good governance, but I also think there is a principle here. The Liberal members have been jamming and basically opposing any other amendments. The process, in this case, hasn't been clean. This is just another example of having to bend over backwards and to ask things that are outside the usual process because things were not followed.
Rather than asking for unanimous consent and us just saying no, I ask you to maybe leave it with us for a bit. My understanding is that we have a very long session today. Perhaps we can deal with it after we have a break, so that I can speak with my other members to see if they want to allow that.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
That is fine with me, after we have our break. I would find it very unusual if the Conservative Party opposed taking “es” from the French version and making it grammatically correct, but....
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, on that point, it is the right of every parliamentarian to express—
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
—opposition or to allow a process to go forward.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Of course it is.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
If you would like to make that a political argument, I would say that would probably not be the position of the chair to be making, but I do want this committee to work well. Therefore, if you wouldn't mind following that process, we'll have that discussion.
I will say that Conservatives here have raised a number of concerns about this process. Again, whether it be having to bend over backwards to allow Mr. Bachrach's change for nine years and 366 days, because they voted down MP May's similar amendment, there have been issues here where the government seems to think it can get what it wants when it wants it, despite the usual rules and process. Therefore, I appreciate that.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
You will be conferring with your members to see if we can—
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Yes, Mr. Chair. I would appreciate that. That's a big courtesy.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Then we'll come back after the break and find out what the answer is.
Now we can continue. The floor is back to....
Yes, Mr. Bittle.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
I want to respond to that very quickly.
It's ironic that Mr. Albas is saying that this matter has been compressed. This is a very short bill, yet we are many hours into this process and the Conservatives are slow-walking this bill. Having originally supported it, now they're against it. Maybe they'll support it yet again. We don't know. They're going to consult.
They're even dragging on an issue of whether to correct the French language in this bill on a minor point. To say that this is compressed is interesting, given the amount of time, including the amount of time that Mr. Albas has spent already in this meeting on a couple of very minor points.
It's interesting. It's ironic. I will stop.
In the past, I know that the members of this party have asked for unanimous consent to change a vote because they perhaps weren't paying attention. That's acceptable from the rest of the House, but it's denied in these particular cases for Mr. Albas if it will delay this process even more. It's rather unfortunate. I want to point that out. Thank you.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Okay. Now we will resume—
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
No, Mr. Chair. I'd like to respond to that, please.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Look, when we have a vote in the House of Commons and someone incorrectly hits yea or nay when they were supposed to vote for the opposite and then begs for the House to allow them to change it—because that's the process that's been laid out—that cuts both ways. That's applicable to all parties. That's to make sure that those members of Parliament can actually represent their constituents properly and have their vote accounted for. In a minority Parliament, I would hope that all members would realize that this is a fair process.
When it comes to raising concerns around the process, we had 72 briefs—plus—that came in afterwards. Through no fault of the legislative clerk, these things had to be translated so that all members, regardless of their language, would be able to read them in their preferred official language.
That was compromised because, Mr. Chair, we ended up having to submit amendments. Like all parties, we submitted our work, and the fact—
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
2021-06-07 15:56
I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
We're entering into the field of debate. It's really not the time or the place for this. We really do need to get to work on the process of getting through this bill. I really don't feel it is the time for this.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
We agreed you'd come back....
Mr. Albas, you had the floor anyway.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
I have one final point I'd like to make, Mr. Chair, because Mr. Bittle did throw these barbs at Conservative members.
I would just say that if the government cannot write proper English and French in its amendments to its own bill, they have larger problems than people like me.
(On clause 14)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
We're now at whether clause 14 shall carry, because we've gone through all the amendments. I believe that's where we left off.
Shall clause 14 carry as amended?
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
No. I'd like a recorded division, please, Mr. Chair.
(Clause 14 as amended agreed to: yeas 7; nays 4)
(On clause 15)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
We'll go now to clause 15, and Ms. May's PV-24.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We had similar amendments the other day, in order to ensure that we have more frequent assessment reports. As noted, we now have a number of amendments that mean that the first part of my amendment that “the Minister must prepare at least two assessment reports before 2030” will appear to have been covered.
The critical last part of this amendment is, “and at least one assessment report per year between 2030 and 2050.” This is an attempt, of course, to fortify a bill that doesn't have carbon budgets in it, so annual reports will assist in remedying that deficiency.
Thank you. Mr. Chair.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
We have Mr. Albas.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll ask Mr. Moffet or perhaps Mr. Ngan—whoever can best answer this.
In reference to Madam May's amendment, PV-24, she did say, on the second point, “at least one assessment report per year between 2030 and 2050.”
Mr. Ngan, earlier you said that the information that would be presented sometimes takes 18 months to gather. Could you tell me how that fits into this amendment?
Vincent Ngan
View Vincent Ngan Profile
Vincent Ngan
2021-06-07 15:59
Thank you for the question.
This question actually pertains to whether the bill should include, on an annual basis, the issuance of an assessment report. The importance of this would be, as Mr. Albas indicated, that due to the collection and the provision of data from Statistics Canada as well as from stakeholders, there's usually 18 months between that particular year and the year we could actually assemble the national inventory report.
That being said, I think it is important to take into account the following facts. In terms of Bill C-12, which is the net-zero emissions accountability act, currently there is the annual projections report that provides information to Canadians as well as shares internationally whether Canada is on track with a particular greenhouse gas emissions target. Of course, for the past few years, the reporting has been on 2030. Every year, the national inventory report, although with an 18-month data lag, also identified the state of play in terms of Canada's emissions level.
I want to reassure Canadians. If they want to know, with a particular milestone, that we are on track, based on empirical data from past years' emissions levels, those reports will be able to provide a very clear picture.
I will leave it to the committee to determine whether that amendment is appropriate or necessary. I think that will be my answer.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Could I ask one other brief question in regard to that?
You mentioned that much of the same information is reported through other reports. Could you let the listeners tuning in at home know what is done already? Would this be more or less similar information supplied, or would this be something new?
Vincent Ngan
View Vincent Ngan Profile
Vincent Ngan
2021-06-07 16:02
Thank you for the question.
Canada, like any other country, must comply with the UNFCCC methodology and reporting requirements. The information definitely is very consistent year after year, and it is consistent with international practices. Canada would not be venturing into developing its own methodology that is inconsistent with reporting requirements set by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The assessment report, as well as the progress report here, stipulates in legislation the same methodology and requirements to ensure consistency and transparency. I agree with you that it's very consistent and also that there is greater clarity in terms of the types of reports and in terms of the progress that the Bill C-12 process entrenches in legislation.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
This is my last question.
When we do report to UNFCCC on our yearly updates, that information is also public. Is that correct?
Vincent Ngan
View Vincent Ngan Profile
Vincent Ngan
2021-06-07 16:03
That is correct.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I appreciate Mr. Ngan weighing in on that.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
The vote is called on PV-24.
(Amendment negatived: nays 10; yeas 1 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: We will go now to G-12.
Ms. Saks.
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ya'ara Saks Profile
2021-06-07 16:04
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, colleagues.
Mr. Chair, I'm happy to introduce a motion to modify subclause 15(2) of the Canadian net-zero emissions accountability act.
This motion ensures that the assessment reports will include additional information, something we've heard much about, such as a summary of Canada's most recent official GHG emissions inventory known as the NIR; information submitted by Canada under its international commitments on climate change; and an assessment of the co-operative measures, whether they be with the provinces or other governments, and how they contribute to Canada's efforts to achieve its targets. This motion strengthens the act by consolidating, in its assessment reports, information already contained in Canada's other reports related to GHG emissions.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
Mr. Albas.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I appreciate MP Saks's putting forward her amendment. I have just a few questions for Mr. Ngan or perhaps Mr. Moffet, whoever deems themselves most capable of responding to it.
Let's just start with paragraph (a), “a summary of Canada's most recent official greenhouse gas emissions inventory and information, relevant to the report, that Canada submitted under its international commitments with respect to climate change”. This is very similar information to what we discussed about Canada sending its report to the UNFCCC. Is that correct?
Vincent Ngan
View Vincent Ngan Profile
Vincent Ngan
2021-06-07 16:06
That is correct, Mr. Albas.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Would this be on an annual basis or would this simply be when the minister deems it?
Vincent Ngan
View Vincent Ngan Profile
Vincent Ngan
2021-06-07 16:06
The assessment report is actually produced according to the schedule of the reporting cycle. The emissions level for a particular milestone year would actually not be fully available until 18 months later. Therefore, the assessment report will actually be required when the national inventory for that particular year becomes available. There is a specific timeline to make sure that, with the release of the national inventory report for that year, the assessment report will also be released in a timely manner.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
This dovetails with what is already envisioned in the original version of Bill C-12. There's no extra work, other than just to embed the extra information into the minister's report. Is that correct?
Vincent Ngan
View Vincent Ngan Profile
Vincent Ngan
2021-06-07 16:07
That is correct, Mr. Albas. The reporting frequency has not been changed, but greater specification and transparency have been included through this amendment.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
This might be a better question for Mr. Moffet.
Part (b) of MP Saks' amendment, again that's G-12, says it would add, after line 29 on page 6, the following:
(c.1) an assessment of how the key cooperative measures or agreements with provinces or other governments in Canada described in the relevant emissions reduction plan contributed to Canada's efforts to achieve the national greenhouse gas emissions target for that year;
This amendment refers to “cooperative measures or agreements”.
Mr. Moffet, could you please explain what is meant by that? I don't believe that's defined in the bill.
John Moffet
View John Moffet Profile
John Moffet
2021-06-07 16:08
That's correct; it's not. The bill will be interpreted broadly if a plan does not need to include such a co-operative agreement, but it may include a co-operative agreement. What this says is that, as Mr. Ngan has explained, the assessment report basically asks, once we get to a target year, how we did. This would require that, among other information, there be information about any such agreements and whether they were effective or not. It doesn't require that there be such agreements, but if there are, then this ensures the reporting is as comprehensive as possible.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
When you say “key cooperative measures or agreements”, does that mean the government, through the minister, gets to choose which provinces or territories this might refer to and only the ones they want to report on?
John Moffet
View John Moffet Profile
John Moffet
2021-06-07 16:09
You're asking a legal question. I can say, in a general sense, that this does provide some discretion to the minister to determine which co-operative measures are key. I don't think it would allow the minister to ignore measures with some provinces and to privilege others. The federal government, as you likely know, does have countless measures, some incredibly small with respect to incredibly minor details.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
One of the things we've heard, which is also something stakeholders have raised with me privately, is that they're not always sure whether or not this particular bill has any kind of jurisdiction over provincial actions. This simply recognizes that if there is an agreement with a particular province on a particular measure, there can be reporting on that, but again, it's at the discretion of the minister. Is that correct?
John Moffet
View John Moffet Profile
John Moffet
2021-06-07 16:10
That's correct. This in no way infringes on provincial jurisdiction or requires provinces to do anything.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Usually when we include the term “provinces”, it's a very broad term that includes the provinces and territories. Is that not the case?
John Moffet
View John Moffet Profile
John Moffet
2021-06-07 16:10
That's correct, but the reference to other governments could be interpreted to include municipalities. We have agreements with municipalities. It can also be interpreted to include agreements with indigenous governments.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
That was going to be.... You kind of jumped ahead. I'm glad that you're a bit ahead of me, because it shows that someone is on the ball here.
To ask again, though, does this not give the minister a bit of an arbitrary power to decide to report on provinces, territories, indigenous governments or municipalities that it is politically in alignment with or is in more of a co-operative stance with? Does giving such discretion to a minister not politicize the bill?
Vincent Ngan
View Vincent Ngan Profile
Vincent Ngan
2021-06-07 16:11
Mr. Albas, if it's okay, I can provide an example of how key measures can be derived.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Vincent Ngan
View Vincent Ngan Profile
Vincent Ngan
2021-06-07 16:11
As you know, in 2016 the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change was adopted. It is based on consensus among federal, provincial and territorial governments. Since then, the Government of Canada has been working with the provinces and territories to report on progress on a yearly basis. Over the past four years, we have developed and agreed to, on a consensus basis, measures in the pan-Canadian framework for reporting on progress and measures on key initiatives put in place by the provinces and territories that they would like to showcase.
In a nutshell, of course, we would not be able to provide an exhaustive list of all the measures from the provinces and territories. Pragmatically, it is not doable. That being said, from a key measures perspective, there is already a document, based on consensus, from the provinces and territories where information can be extracted. These are definitely measures that the provinces and territories deem as key to put forward, and they report on them on an annual basis.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
I'm glad you raised the pan-Canadian framework, because that's exactly what I had in mind when I was considering MP Saks's amendment. Saskatchewan did not join in with the consensus in Vancouver in 2016.
Have you been reporting on provincial actions of provinces that have elected not to participate in the framework?
Vincent Ngan
View Vincent Ngan Profile
Vincent Ngan
2021-06-07 16:13
All 13 jurisdictions that participated in the pan-Canadian framework have been reporting for the past three years, despite the fact that one jurisdiction has elected not to join. That said, the key measures of Saskatchewan have been reported on an annual basis as part of the measures, along with those of the 12 other jurisdictions.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Okay. I believe Ontario came into compliance later on, but there doesn't seem to be.... The pan-Canadian framework is an example that could be used with regard to this amendment. Is this amendment necessary? The pan-Canadian framework is already reported on.
Vincent Ngan
View Vincent Ngan Profile
Vincent Ngan
2021-06-07 16:13
I think the answer goes back to the very beginning of the question, that is, whether there is discretion by the minister to cherry-pick what measure is deemed as key. Given that there is already annual reporting based on consensus among the provinces and territories, the key measures that will be reported through the assessment report will be drawn from that consensus vehicle, therefore minimizing any probability or optics that the minister is cherry-picking.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, I'll finish my intervention today by thanking both officials for clarifying things for me. I know these questions can be difficult, because I struggle with them when stakeholders ask me whether or not this law applies to things under provincial jurisdiction. It wasn't entirely clear.
The government obviously felt that Bill C-12 needed this amendment. Otherwise, they wouldn't be putting it forward. That being said, I believe that by allowing the minister—instead of having a whole-of-government approach—to arbitrarily pick which key examples will be selected.... Maybe this isn't such a bad thing. Maybe showing some positive examples could be good. However, it could be a punitive tool whereby you showcase provincial or territorial governments that are aligned with the government of the day, or municipalities it will perhaps want to recruit new candidates from to put them on a bit of a pedestal so the candidates can have a good news story. I think that having one minister make these decisions, rather than having a whole-of-government approach, doesn't make a lot of sense. As we know, much of the reporting is already being done right now through the pan-Canadian framework, and there is regular reporting.
This is too arbitrary and, again, doesn't necessarily add to the bill, so the Conservatives will be voting against it. However, if any of my Conservative colleagues want to ask a question or raise a concern, they should, because we do think that provinces are a key area here. We would like to see further reporting on the summaries of what provinces are doing, but not in an arbitrary, politically driven process.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Okay, the vote is called.
(Amendment agreed to: yeas 7; nays 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
The amendment G-12 passes.
We're now at CPC‑14.
Mr. Albas.
View Brad Redekopp Profile
CPC (SK)
I'd like to move that one, Mr. Chair.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'm sorry about that.
Mr. Redekopp, go ahead.
View Brad Redekopp Profile
CPC (SK)
Thanks.
I'm going to move CPC‑14, and I'll just read it into the record here. It's that Bill C‑12, in clause 15, be amended by adding, after line 21 on page 6, the following:
(a.1) a summary of the measures undertaken by the governments of the provinces to contribute to Canada's efforts to achieve the national greenhouse gas emissions target for that year and of their impacts on those efforts;
This kind of carries on with what we were just speaking about, and I think it expands upon it quite nicely.
The government has already proposed in G‑11, and just now in G‑12, that we would add some key co-operative measures or agreements with the provinces. It's very critical that we have provincial buy-in to the plan. That's why I'd like to propose this amendment, to deepen this a little bit more.
Ultimately, the vast majority of the reductions that are going to occur in Canada are going to come from measures that are under provincial jurisdiction. It's the provinces that control our natural resources and our electrical grids, and they also regulate a large portion of the transportation industry. We absolutely need the provinces on board or this isn't going to work.
Now, unlike the Liberals and the NDP, which have tended to be more combative with the provincial governments in Canada, Conservatives believe that we need to work together with the provinces. For example, under Liberals, we've seen lawsuits, such as the carbon tax lawsuit we recently saw, and it went all the way to the Supreme Court. It tied up a lot of time and energy and created some animosity between governments. We don't want to do that. We want to be more co-operative.
Also, I think it's the people on the ground who know what they need to do to reduce emissions. They don't need Ottawa to tell them what to do. In Saskatchewan, for example, our environment has always been a very high priority, because our agricultural-based economy depends on a healthy environment.
I'll give you an example. For many years, I was involved in an agricultural company based in Saskatoon that brought a new innovation to farming, and it brought this new farming technique right into the mainstream. That technique was called “zero tillage”. In a nutshell, it's essentially allowing stubble to stand over the winter and then using an air seeder and air drill to seed directly into the stubble. Farmers are able to retain carbon in the ground and minimize fuel use by reducing the number of passes they have to take over the ground.
In Saskatchewan, when it comes to the environment, our farmers were doing what they should long before being told what they have to do.
We've heard testimony after testimony from pulse farmers, cattlemen, CAPP and the Chamber of Commerce about the need for provincial co-operation. I know that the federal government should work with the provinces, but the reality is that this act says very little about the provinces. In fact, it seems to me that it goes out of its way to avoid talking about the provinces. It seems that the government is being very careful to create a situation where it can work in isolation if it feels that it needs to. My fear, too, is that if we don't achieve our targets as set out in the legislation, then we're setting it up for finger pointing, where the federal government can accuse the provinces of not doing their part, because they weren't a part of this initially.
I believe that we need to modify this legislation and bring the provinces into this discussion in a more formal way. Instead of generating laws and fighting each other in court, the federal and provincial governments should be working together. This legislation should set the foundation for the provinces and the federal government to work together. It should set things up for a co-operative arrangement where everybody is pulling in the same direction.
I'll just end with a reference back to Ecojustice, from their joint submission to the committee. I believe it's one of the ones we didn't have a chance to hear from in testimony, but their submission called for regional and provincial jurisdiction to be respected. This amendment does exactly that.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Albas.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have just a couple of things I want to detail. Again, for those who are watching at home who may not have seen some of the previous amendments we have made, we think that, rather than giving all the ability to one minister, having some of the plans voted on by cabinet so that everyone can kind of break down silos and get a whole-of-government approach would make for a better bill.
We also believe that when Canadians think of their responsibility toward climate change, they think, “What is my government doing?”, whether it be federal, provincial or territorial.
Again, I just want to reinforce that the use of the term “provinces” here is a general term, so those in Nunavut, those in the Northwest Territories and those in Yukon can count themselves included in this particular amendment.
This is unlike the case of the previous amendment, in which the government—in that case, the individual minister designated, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change—got to decide which provinces to feature. That's not an all-hands-on-deck approach, Mr. Chair.
Canada is built on federalism, such that we have a field house of different methods. In Quebec we have a cap-and-trade system being used. British Columbia obviously has its own carbon tax, and in other provinces, such as Ontario, they use a combination; they regulate their emissions from industrial bases and there is the federal carbon tax.
Mr. Chair, there are different approaches being undertaken by different governments. A great example would be the tier regulations in Alberta, the structure of which is very different from perhaps that of the output-based pricing system.
This particular amendment would allow for a snapshot, a summary of the situation in all provinces and not just in the ones the government or an individual minister favours. There would be a summary of those so that people could be educated as to what their federal leadership was doing as well as their provincial leadership. This does not in any way, shape or form disrupt or intervene in provincial jurisdiction, so for the Bloc Québécois—we have a representative from the Bloc here—if that is a concern, certainly this is just a summary. I'm sure the Bloc member would agree that if we are to communicate that all governments are taking the threat of climate change seriously, there does need to be a place where people can look for it. Again, it should not be done on an arbitrary basis as described in the previous motion.
I would encourage all members to vote in favour of this amendment.
Mr. Chair, I think Canada can do more. Part of that is being fair and including everyone so that people will be better able to hold all levels of government—provincial, territorial or federal—to account on our climate change path.
Thank you.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
The vote is called.
(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 4)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
We are on amendment CPC-15. Who is presenting that?
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
That would be me, Mr. Chair. Do I have the floor?
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes, absolutely.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Colleagues, appreciate that this is something I asked a number of different groups because, as we know thanks to Madam Pauzé, electrification is going to be an important step.
Our current electrical grid, as we know, is not sufficient. Even the uptake that people expect for electric vehicles, as was said during Madam Pauzé's study on electric vehicles, would require the equivalent of 7.5 Site Cs. Obviously, that's just the aggregate amount of energy. There could be many different sources for it, such as nuclear or hydro. There are so many new ways that people are utilizing electricity, from various renewables to high-efficiency natural gas.
Quite honestly, Mr. Chair, the need for this bill to reference the state of Canada's electrical grid is important. This is something that I'm asked about by constituents on a regular basis. They say, with all these new electric cars—and we all drive in at five o'clock or 5:30—when we all plug them in, how will that work? That's a great question, and one that provincial and territorial governments are going to have to wrestle with as we move forward with some of these adoptions of new technology and a new emphasis on things like electric vehicles. Obviously there have been some investments that we've seen in hydrogen, and that's a plus, but there are going to be increasing questions about electrical loads.
I asked a number of different groups who responded very positively that it would be helpful to have this. As you know, Mr. Chair, when you cross an interprovincial boundary or an international boundary, it is under the federal government's jurisdiction.
I'll read out the amendment, which is that Bill C-12 in clause 15 be amended by adding, after line 29 on page 6, the following:
(c.1) an assessment of electric grids in Canada and the steps needed to ensure that they can manage an increase in electricity demand due to transportation electrification;
Mr. Chair, we heard from the Canadian Electricity Association, and in their brief, they said they support the aim of Bill C-12 and believe that a clear and focused plan is essential for Canada's ability to achieve net zero by 2050, and that holding ourselves collectively accountable for meeting targets is important, but those targets must be matched with focused policy so that we can achieve them.
As I said earlier, one of the areas we are going to be looking to achieve in is further electrification. This would offer an update so that people can understand the grid. Again, it does not interfere with any provincial jurisdiction. What it does do, though, is create a summary, so that for the average citizen—all of our constituents—if they asked you the question, you could refer to that and give them an up-to-date answer.
This is part of good governance. This information is already publicly available to some extent, but nothing that I'm aware of actually includes it in a Government of Canada report. This would allow for greater transparency, which is one of the stated goals of Bill C-12.
I would ask all honourable members to support the amendment, because we need to have a greater understanding of the state of our electrical grid. I think this would be welcomed by groups like the Canadian Electricity Association, knowing that this is going to be an area that a lot of money—a lot of potentially private investment as well as public investment—is going to be needed for us to achieve our goals of electrifying the transportation network and making Canada a greener and more environmentally friendly country as a whole.
Again, I would ask all honourable members to support this particular amendment. It's an easy one for the Liberals to support, because I think this is one of those good governance provisions that we all can rally behind.
Again, just to make sure that Madam Michaud knows I'm thinking of the Bloc and of their constant quest to make Quebec as strong a province as possible, this would not interfere with that. Hydro-Quebec is a very respected organization and does a lot of good work, both interprovincially as well as internationally. I would hope that the Bloc members would be supportive of that.
I know that I referenced Site C. I just would say to MP Bachrach that obviously the provincial government is supportive of Site C, but I hope that by utilizing Site C he did not mean that he would somehow tie himself to be voting in favour of 7.5 more Site Cs. It was just an example that I was using.
I hope to get every committee member to support this particular amendment to Bill C-12 today, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brad Redekopp Profile
CPC (SK)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I just want to comment a little further on this with some personal examples. In my prior life, I was an accountant. I guess I still am technically an accountant. I worked for many years, as I said, at a manufacturing company, and we measured a lot of things. It has been said previously in this committee that you manage what you measure.
A lot of what's we have discussed so far about this legislation has been focused on what we're doing to reduce greenhouse gases, and rightly so. The nice thing about this amendment is that it kind of forces us to look at balancing some of the pieces of this puzzle. If we focus on just one thing, we may miss some important details on other things. This is one of those very critical pieces of the puzzle.
We can, to use a simple example, force all of our vehicles to be electric, but if we don't have the charging capacity to deal with that, then we're actually not getting to where we want to go. That's what I like about this. It allows us to take a bit of a more balanced approach to some of the metrics we are watching, making sure that while we might achieve goals on this side of the fence, we've also achieved goals on the other side of the fence so that this whole thing is going to work when it's done. If we don't look at the whole picture, we could end up with something that isn't doable or functional at the end of the day. Ultimately that would let Canadians down, and they wouldn't be able to do the things they need to do if we do this wrong.
I have another example, just to further reinforce this. I live in a condo building in downtown Saskatoon. We have a three- or four-floor parkade. At the moment, we have just a couple of electric vehicles plugging into the power that's in that building. As more and more electric cars start showing up in our particular parkade, that's going to start causing stress to the electrical power grid that's coming into the building. I think it's fair to say that, at some point, we're going to have to add another trunk line coming into the building in order to handle the capacity there. If you look around—
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Does the amendment deal with this, or is that something you should maybe bring to the attention of...?
View Brad Redekopp Profile
CPC (SK)
I think the point is about measuring what we're talking about in an electric grid, so yes, I think it's exactly what we're dealing with.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brad Redekopp Profile
CPC (SK)
My point is that the electric grid in Saskatoon runs down the back alley of my building and other buildings. If you look outside of my building, you'll see multiple other multi-storey buildings that are all going to have the same issue. It's not just a simple matter of running another power line into the building. We're actually going to have to add an entire trunk line down the back alley to service all of these buildings. You can multiply that out by multiple times.
That's why I think this is an especially critical point to look at. If we do not get this right, then we won't be able to achieve the results on the other side—or we may achieve the results to a certain point, and then the whole house of cards will fall apart because we didn't deal with this one issue. That's why I'm saying I think this is a particularly good point to look at, because it really helps us to see the balanced picture. As I said, you manage what you measure, and I think it's important that we measure this and manage it properly.
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
I have just one additional point. I'll try to keep it as brief as possible.
The federal government has made investments in Muskrat Falls, for example, because we know that is a key feature in that province's future. If you don't have energy, then it's difficult to industrialize in a way that is efficient and that can also reduce emissions. I know there are problems with that project, but that is all the more reason, to my mind, we should be giving a summary of our electrical grid.
Again, from Muskrat Falls to Site C to much of SaskPower's infrastructure, what we haven't discussed are the lines. Someone said to me that if Tesla came to Canada today—if he were alive—he would note that much of the technology we rely on for the transmission of power, whether between communities, within communities, between provinces or between countries, is very old. In fact, members have made many references to how they would like to see things like a smart grid that would be able to deal with many of the concerns about people plugging in their vehicles all at the same time.
There are ways we can deal with these things, Mr. Chair, but unfortunately if we just leave this as an issue, then we're going to see a patchwork. Quite honestly, Mr. Chair, I don't know about you, but in my riding people just refer to the government. They don't refer to the provincial government or the federal government. I know that's a distinction that we make, and we must make, because we believe—
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
My constituents seem to know the difference. I'm just saying—
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, are you saying that there is an intelligence level difference?
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
No, not at all.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
I don't think that's a fair statement to make, Mr. Chair.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
I think everyone understands that there are different levels of government.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, I'd like just to finish, if you wouldn't mind.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Okay. Thank you very much.
Perhaps I was a little agitated, Mr. Chair, because it seemed that you were saying that somehow your constituents are a little different from mine.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
I would say that most citizens right now, especially during COVID, are trying to make their lives work as best they can with all the different things that are going on.
I will tell you, because I share an office in Summerland with an MLA, a member of the Legislative Assembly, Dan Ashton, that we often have people who come in and don't know who they're supposed to speak to. Are they supposed to speak to their MLA or their MP? That's where we see this a lot, Mr. Chair.
Again, this is an area where we could give people that information in one summary, so I hope that all members will vote in favour of this. This is a good and particular amendment. This won't be difficult in terms of time.
I guess I could ask a question of the government representatives here, but you know what? I think I've made a pretty good case, Mr. Chair, so rather than prolonging this, I think I'll just let people vote for it.
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Okay. We'll call the vote.
(Amendment negatived: nays 6, yeas 5)
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Unfortunately, Mr. Albas, it doesn't pass.
Shall clause 15 carry?
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, I'd like to speak a little bit to—
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes, of course.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Chair, we've seen a number of suggestions brought to this table—or this virtual table—and unfortunately, the government, supported by the NDP, has voted against every single one of them.
I want to relay my thanks to Madam Michaud for her support on the last motion. I think her Province of Quebec—
View Francis Scarpaleggia Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'm sorry, Mr. Albas. I neglected to say that it's clause 15 as amended.
View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Again, the only amendments that were accepted by this committee were the ones coming from the government. Let's be mindful, Mr. Chair. It seems that they are continuing the path they have taken with the NDP.
Again, I don't want to belabour the point, because I think Mr. Bachrach has done an able job on other issues with this committee. I just find it strange because a lot of the information that is here, or the amendments that have come forward, really don't expand the nature of the bill or make it more accountable. In fact, in some cases, the bill allows the minister to have sole discretion as to which provinces, which territories, which first nations and which municipalities seem to be aligned with the government and can use this as a political communications tool.
I would just say that we tried, as Conservatives, to put forward amendments that we felt would make the bill better. One was in reference to including a summary of all provinces. As I said earlier, when people come into my joint office in Summerland, and even to some extent in Westbank, where I also have an office at the Westbank Towne Centre, they don't always know the difference between us. They just want to share their opinion on what government should be doing. Sometimes they come in with different needs.
It's important, first of all, that there should be a proper summary, where a minister doesn't get to check that. Our particular amendment would have done that. Also, then, there's just the growing consciousness of the need for action on climate change and more interest that people have on how they can do that—purchasing an electric car, for example, or some sort of variation of an electric vehicle. I hear that the F-150 Lightning is impressing a lot of people. Maybe it will impress people in my riding. I haven't heard that yet, but people have been asking about the status of our electrical grid and its ability to deal with this. I am sure, Mr. Chair, that some of the witnesses I asked about this felt that would have been a good change to clause 15.
Clause 15 as it stands right now, as amended, I feel is not the best clause that could go forward. Conservatives will be voting against this particular provision. We think it's a bit of a shame, Mr. Chair, because there was an offer to work together to spotlight all provinces and territories as they try to meet their climate targets, which is incredibly important. If we do not have all provinces and territories working towards this, what will end up happening, Mr. Chair, is that the federal government, with its own jurisdiction, will not be enough.
In most provincial jurisdictions, you have housing policies such as building codes. You also have transportation. You also have energy systems and their regulation. If we cannot give people a snapshot of how their provinces are doing.... This particular clause, as amended, will not do that. In fact, like I said, it allows the minister to isolate or only report on the provinces, municipalities or indigenous first nations communities that best....
Conservatives will be voting a big no against this, Mr. Chair. Again, like I said, it's a shame. We came to this table with amendments, feeling that we were offering things that were not very political—not political at all—but actually were things that would help build better understanding and better governance for this country. Without information, Mr. Chair, without having these things in front of people, people can't judge whether or not their government is being effective. That could be provincial or that could be federal. This particular clause as amended unfortunately does not leap over the bar. I think we could have done better.
As we go forward with other amendments, Mr. Chair, I hope that perhaps the government or perhaps the NDP will change their minds and we'll see maybe some creativity or maybe some willingness to be flexible, to allow for other voices and for amendments to come to the bill, or else this is really just going to be a bill that has just the bare democratic mandate.
That's important to have in our system, but it's not the only way that the government could choose. It could choose to be a little more open and to work with all parties. That's something that Minister Wilkinson has said time and time again.
Unfortunately, Mr. Chair, with all the times that the minister said he wanted to work in good faith with all parties on the back end, it seems that isn't the case in this bill...in this clause as amended today.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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