Hansard
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 100 of 464
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, over the last 10 years the Conservatives have run multi-billion dollar deficits, averaging about $15 billion a year. All of their incompetence, mismanagement, phony tax cut legacy, and personal debt records are buried in a whopping $150 billion addition to the national debt.
Does a Conservative balanced budget mean that over their term it balances out at about a $15 billion deficit? Is a multi-billion dollar deficit year after year what the Conservatives mean by balanced?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the fundamental responsibility of a Minister of Justice is to protect the rule of law and the integrity of investigations. Therefore, “no comment” means “no comment”. If an investigation has merit, it is compromised, and in extreme cases, lives are put at risk. If there is no merit, individuals are slandered and smeared with little recourse.
What then was the Minister of Justice thinking when he commented on Minister Michael Chan? Has he forgotten his oath of office, or was he so overwrought with the joy of potential partisan advantage that he jettisoned his oath of office?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, Pope Francis has just released his encyclical on climate change.
Over the centuries, great prophets have denounced injustice and spoken truth to power, often at great personal risk. In more modern times, Wilberforce denounced the scourge of slavery in the British Empire. Bishop Desmond Tutu fearlessly led the fight against apartheid. Reverend Tommy Douglas denounced the injustice of tying health care to the size of one's bank account. Pope John Paul II is best remembered as the spiritual godfather of the demise of communism.
Into this prophetic role stepped Pope Francis this week. In a comprehensive, well-researched, and penetrating account of climate change, the Pope zeroed in on the injustice that allows the rich to get richer on the backs of those least able to adapt. Like the prophets of old, he denounced the cavalier indifference of the smug and the affluent.
If the Conservative government does not get the science and chooses to ignore the economics, surely it will listen to Pope Francis. To ignore faith, science, and economics is to define smug indifference.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, Pope Francis issued a powerful encyclical about the ravages of climate change. He has decried the injustice of those who allow the rich to get richer on the backs of those least able to adapt to climate change. The Conservatives have smugly ignored the economics and science of climate change.
If the Conservative government does not get the science and refuses to ignore the economics, surely the Conservatives will listen to the clarion call of Pope Francis. To ignore faith, science and economics is to define smug ignorance. Will they at least listen to the Pope?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment the hon. member on his rant. It was one of the finer rants I have heard in a while.
The previous question actually went where I wanted to go, which was to the self-congratulatory nonsense the Conservatives continually put forward. They have run up the national debt between $150 billion and $160 billion. That means that over the last 10 years, their average expenses have exceeded their revenues by somewhere in the order of $15 billion on an annual basis, which is hardly a way to run the economy.
Since I have already answered that question, I want to ask a second question which is on the so-called carbon pricing. Clearly, every government in Canada gets it now. B.C. prices carbon. Alberta prices carbon, and certainly the new government will be much more sensitive on pricing carbon. Ontario prices carbon. Quebec prices carbon. About 80% to 85% of the economy already prices carbon. The only place that the pricing of carbon is bad is across the aisle here, where the Conservatives simply want to keep their heads stuck literally in the sand, but I will not describe which kind of sand.
I would be interested in the hon. member's views that as a nation we have actually moved a great deal forward on the pricing of carbon, where the government has actually been a drag on the pricing of carbon.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has completed his photo op tour with a visit to Pope Francis, who took his pontifical name from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the environment.
In his latest photo op, Pope Francis did not look too impressed. Having met with the Prime Minister, who is the international laggard in chief on climate change, may explain the Pope's disgruntled appearance.
Could the minister tell us why Pope Francis looked so impressed, and did he call on the Prime Minister to be serious about climate change?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century, barely.
After immense pressure from the G7 leadership, he reluctantly agreed to a communiqué that would get Canada out of fossil fuels by the end of the century. However, his minister only has a target of 225 megatonnes by 2030. She seems awfully keen on mini-tonnes, however, on fugitive methane emissions from oil, gas and fertilizer sectors.
Since fugitive emissions are relatively small potatoes in the emissions profile, what is her plan for the rest?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, this weekend the Prime Minister will be attending the G7 summit in Germany. He will be pressed by President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Cameron, and others to be serious about climate change.
He knows, as does the rest of the world, that this pledge to cut 30% by 2030 is nothing more than a press release masquerading as a plan. Having done nothing in the last 10 years, he expects to waltz into the most important meeting in the world and bully and bluster his way through the agenda. He will fool no one.
Once again Canada's reputation will be trashed, once again the Prime Minister will resist any serious commitment to reducing GHGs, and once again he will assiduously work to water down any communique by the leaders. The G7 leaders know that this plan is both delusional and deceptive. The G7 is not a group for delusions and deceptions.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will be at the G7 meeting in Germany this week. Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama see this as the most important meeting prior to Paris to talk about GHG emissions. The Prime Minister has set a GHG target, which everyone knows is a press release masquerading as a target. The G7 leaders know that this is just simply a deceptive and delusional plan.
Why embarrass us, once again, on the international stage to deceive the world's most important leaders? Why not just admit that the last 10 years have been a colossal Conservative failure?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the minister is now committed to a 225 megatonne reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030. Delusionally, she said that her government will reduce its methane emissions for the oil and gas sector and regulate the production of fertilizer.
Can the minister tell the House precisely how many megatonnes will be reduced and eliminated by fertilizer and methane regulation, and what is the plan for the rest?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, after much hemming and hawing, we finally got the Minister of the Environment to commit to her new target of 524 megatonnes by 2030. Having done nothing for the last 10 years, she now asks us to believe that an additional 200 megatonnes will be achieved in 15 years without a plan.
What are her commitments in writing from the provinces? What are her commitments in writing from the industrial sectors? How will she offset the projected 180 megatonnes from the oil sands?
This target looks more deceptive and delusional than fair and ambitious.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the Minister of the Environment a very simple question at committee: Could she state the new 2030 targets in megatonnes? Incredibly, the deputy minister jumped in and said that it was very complicated.
However, 30% of 731 megatonnes is not complicated, and it is the responsibility of the minister to know her facts and to have a plan as to how we will make those targets.
The minister has had 24 hours to crunch the numbers. Could she state the 2030 target in megatonnes?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I doubt that if you sought it you would have unanimous consent to make me go for the 10 minutes.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Hon. John McKay: I have some consent here, but there does not seem to be much consent elsewhere.
There are some resplendent ironies in discussing this motion on a day where The Globe and Mail carried the obituary of Dr. David Sackett. He is known as the father of evidence-based medicine at McMaster University. He was Canada's guru on evidence-based medicine.
If one does not function on evidence-based medicine, one sometimes does exactly the opposite of what one needs to do. The classic example in the medical field is the death of George Washington. The death of George Washington, a relatively healthy man, happened in the course of about 16 to 24 hours. In the course of those hours, he was attended upon by the best physicians that country had to offer, all of whom made their decisions based on practice, what they had done in the past. They were not based on evidence but on what they had done in the past.
One of the practices was bloodletting. Over the course of 16 hours, they drained five pints of blood from the first president of the United States. If he was not sick before, he certainly would have been sick afterwards. He died. This was a practice that was not based on evidence. If we continue to make practices and decisions based upon something other than evidence, for example, ideology, we will actually kill the patient, as in the case of medicine.
That is my view of what is happening here. We have instances where environmental scientists are told to toe the line. Therefore, just as we have one department, one website, we should have one department and one voice. That was the edict that was published by the Department of the Environment in 2007, so that all inquiries of scientists would be funnelled through the political department of the minister at that time.
Environment Canada scientists, many of them world leaders in their fields, have long been encouraged to discuss their work with the media and the public, on everything from migratory birds to melting Arctic ice. Several of them were co-authors of the United Nations report on climate change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Until now, Environment Canada has been one of the most open and accessible departments. As a consequence, because decisions are not shared widely, because there is not an opportunity for the scientists to discuss them, the decisions made at Environment Canada, and elsewhere in the government, are not optimum. After question period, I would like to give some classic examples of these decisions.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, prior to question period I was talking about bloodletting. It appears that bloodletting is not just limited to out-of-date medical procedures but is still living in on Environment Canada. The title of the document that I was reading from is called, “Environment Canada scientists told to toe the line”. Until now, Environment Canada was one of the most open and accessible departments. One of the researchers was quoted as saying “They’ve been muzzled,” says Weaver of the federal researchers. “The concept of free speech is non-existent at Environment Canada. They are manufacturing the message of science.”
This is serious stuff. I am pleased that the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands has brought forward this motion because the scientists who work for not only Environment Canada but also the rest of the federal government are under siege.
Fifty per cent of them believe that there are cases where the health and safety of Canadians or environmental sustainability has been compromised because of political interference with scientific work. There appears to be no end to which the government will go in order to muzzle scientists, even to the point of compromising the health and security of Canadians.
Seventy-one per cent of them agree that our ability to develop policy laws and programs are based on scientific evidence and that facts have been compromised by political interference, much like my bloodletting example where the ideology gets ahead of the evidence. In fact, the evidence is that when it is, it is inconveniently ignored.
Forty-eight per cent of them are aware of cases where the department or agency has suppressed or declined to release information, which has led to incomplete, inaccurate and misleading impressions.
Seventy-four per cent of them think the sharing of government science findings with the Canadian public has become too restrictive. This is serious stuff.
Finally, 60% of the scientists of Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans believe that the government is not incorporating the best climate change science into its policies.
This is not just some sort of little academic excise. Last week, after Parliament rose, the Minister of the Environment told reporters, and in effect the world, that Canada was going to reach a target in 2030 of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. That sounds like a good target. This morning she came before the committee on estimates and I asked her a very simple question. Could she state that 30% target in actual megatonnes? It was quite interesting. The deputy minister immediately took over the question, did not let the minister speak, and went into this rather complicated story of how this was a bit of a moving target. I agree with him that it is a moving target. This simple little lawyer asked himself: how can we actually state a 30% reduced target if we do not know what the number of the megatonnes to be achieved is? It is hard to say. It may be 20%, it may 40%, or it may be no per cent at all.
It is quite strange. We are starting with a target of 749 megatonnes as of 2005. Simple math would take that down by 30%, which is somewhere between 150 megatonnes and 200 megatonnes. One would think it would be easy to say that we expect to have a target somewhere in the order of 550 megatonnes by 2030. However, the environment minister is not even able to say that. Nor is the the deputy minister.
This is either the result of the inability of Environment Canada to actually calculate the number or it is a result of the inability of Environment Canada to communicate the number. If in fact the number were stated in public as to what our megatonne target was in terms of greenhouse gas emissions reduction, then Canadians from all provinces, all stripes, would know whether this was a realistic target and would know how the government planned to get to this target.
This exercise in talking about how scientists are muzzled is very serious. It is very serious because policy is being made, being announced, and what is it based upon? The government chooses, for whatever reason, to not put forward evidence on which to base its decision-making process. The consequence is that we have fantasy targets. The government's credibility is completely shot on this file and many others, and the consequence of the consequence, if you will, Mr. Speaker, is that ideology prevails, communication and speaking points prevail over all matters, and with respect to evidence, who cares? That is simply inconvenient.
I thank the House for the time and attention. I appreciate the opportunity to speak. I look forward to questions from members.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to take note that in 2002, there were not masses of scientists gathered on the front lawn of Parliament Hill saying, “Free us” and “Allow us to speak”. They started to gather only a few years ago when the policy of the government was enunciated by the then minister of the environment as having one department, one website, and one voice. The consequence is that scientists feel as if they cannot speak.
In fact, it has become so bad that even scientists who do not work for the federal government feel that they cannot speak. A doctor recalled speaking with the scientists at the Experimental Lakes Area in Kenora. According to him, even some non-federal government scientists are afraid to speak out, as their funding comes from the federal government.
As long as we have this climate of fear, this muzzling of scientists, the best evidence does not get out. Unlike 2002, where decision-making was based upon the best evidence available and was frequently in the public domain, it was in the public domain because the scientists of federal Canada put it there and were not afraid to do so.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I think the best answer to my colleague's question is to read a headline posted on May 22, 2015 by Michael Rennie, a scientist with the Experimental Lakes area. The headline is “Ex-government scientist in northwestern Ontario says muzzling was part of “toxic” work environment”. He said, “I think that Canadians are missing out by not hearing about our work”.
In direct answer to my colleague's question, when an ex-scientist from Environment Canada, presumably no longer dependent upon the Government of Canada's largesse, says they were working in a “toxic work environment”, we have to conclude that the best evidence in not getting into the public domain. The consequence is that the best policies are not being acted upon.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his speech and recognize him for his work on water issues over many years. He is certainly one of the experts in this House on water, and I want to direct a question on that particular issue that concerns fracking.
A couple of weeks ago at the environment committee, I asked the officials present what they would do if I poured into Lake Ontario, opposite from my riding, a list of chemicals. There was a list of six or seven chemicals, all of which are hazardous to human health. They basically told me they would lock me up quite quickly and that I would be subject to a half-million-dollar fine and potentially two years in jail.
I said, “That is kind of interesting, because that is the kind of stuff that is actually going into fracking holes. What are you doing about that?” They said, “Well, we are monitoring.” I said, “That is interesting. While you are monitoring, there are things that are potentially happening to the environment, because somewhere between a third and a half of the water that is put into a fracking hole comes back up and has to be managed.”
Therefore, I would be interested in the hon. member's views with respect to the scientists' ability to get hold of what is going into these fracking holes.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, because the hon. member is from B.C., I want to ask her a question with respect to Kristi Miller's experience. She is the scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. She published an article about sockeye salmon in the prestigious journal Science. She was told by officials that she was forbidden from speaking to the media about her groundbreaking findings. This is not just something that is of academic interest and a sort of cute little factoid, the sockeye salmon industry in B.C. is a serious industry.
Has the hon. member thought about the Liberal leader's approach to this issue, which is that all information is open by default unless the government can demonstrate otherwise?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would be interested in the hon. member's comments on a discussion between Raveena Aulakh, who is an environment reporter, and Dr. Tom Duck, a leading atmospheric scientist. They were commenting on the 2007 gag order—for want of a better term:
In 2010, it was reported that media coverage of climate change had been reduced by 80 per cent....
Environment Canada will also hide information, such as statistics on climate change, in the depths of their website;...
Environment Canada’s goal is to frustrate journalists to the point where they give up and abandon the story.
I would like to ask the hon. member whether that is consistent with his experience.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-680, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (microbeads).
He said: Mr. Speaker, the bill would amend the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit the sale of personal care products containing pieces of plastic of up to five millimetres in size.
As we know, this has been a subject of some considerable debate. The reason for moving the bill at this time is that even though the House spoke passionately, eloquently and, ultimately, unanimously in favour of doing something, we have noticed a pattern in the past of motions of the House being ignored.
This will no longer be ignored. The government will have to respond with a response to the legislation itself. I would encourage all members to support it.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, what do these environmental charities all have in common? The David Suzuki Foundation, Tides Canada, Pembina Institute, Environmental Defence, and Sierra Club have all been critical of the government's environmental policy, and all have received unsolicited, aggressive, and unwarranted attention from the CRA.
The minister is going to stand in her place and with a straight face say that these are just routine audits. Why does the minister not use some of that $750 million to stop this witch hunt against legitimate and—
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, Conservatives spent $750 million on self-promotional advertising while clawing back more than $900 million from Environment Canada. Apparently self-promotion is more important than species at risk, or more important than toxic spills in Vancouver, or more important than that elephant in the room, climate change.
Will the current government advertise its $12-million cut for species at risk? Will it advertise its $188-million cut from climate change?
Is it not ironic and tragic that Environment Canada funds are being used to bankroll Conservative Party advertising?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague on her speech about the bogus balanced budget, “B3” for want of a better term. I ask her, what was the emergency to get to the bogus balanced budget since the Conservatives sold off GM shares and lost $100 million doing that and they raided $2 billion from the emergency contingency fund to get to the bogus balanced budget? What was the emergency, other than the Prime Minister's mandate to get to a bogus balance?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, thank you for your generosity.
I agree with my hon. colleague that this is a clever budget insofar as we consider smoke and mirrors to be clever. In that respect, it is clever. I do agree with his demographic targeted cutting of boutique tax credits.
What I was interested in knowing is whether the hon. member is concerned about the built-in structural, fiscal deficit caused by the initial HST cuts, which have basically forced the government into this smoke and mirrors bogus balanced budget, where it has to mug the contingency fund and prematurely sell off assets in order to get to the bogus balanced budget.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, for years the Prime Minister has maintained the fiction that Canada would be in lockstep with the U.S. GHG targets.
When President Obama announced his country's latest goal, the Prime Minister bailed and said that Canada would announce its own targets. Apparently these targets will be announced without a plan, without talking to the premiers, and without pricing carbon.
Why embarrass Canada again at the G7 and in the lead-up to Paris with fictional and delusional targets? Why even bother with the pretence? Why humiliate Canada internationally once again?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I was impressed by the hon. member's speech about what a wonderful job Environment Canada is doing, which speaks to a parallel reality. I am not quite sure how Environment Canada actually does a better job when it lets go 55 scientists from its contaminants program. I am not quite sure how Environment Canada does a better job by reducing the overall budget for emergency responses by something in the order of 35%. I am not sure how Environment Canada actually does a better job by lapsing over the last four or five years the equivalent of one entire budgetary cycle. Every year, Environment Canada lapses a portion of its money and the cumulative total is the equivalent of one budgetary cycle.
I would be interested in the hon. member's analysis as to how, given all of those core facts, Environment Canada is actually responding better.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the enthusiasm for the response to this particular incident seems to be contained only within the Conservative caucus. The Premier of British Columbia was none too impressed. The mayor of Vancouver was none too impressed. In fact, the municipal councils were really irritated in 2013 when they were blindsided by the Kitsilano closing.
I wonder how it is that the hon. member explains that none of the other elected officials, outside of the Conservative caucus in British Columbia, are too terribly impressed by this response. How does he explain that the Auditor General took note of this several years ago, when he said that Canada needs significant improvements in both Coast Guard and National Defence search and rescue equipment and information assistance?
Other than the fantasy world in the Conservative caucus, is there anyone else who actually supports what the response has been to date?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I was kind of amused by the response from the member for Yukon when I asked why the premier of British Columbia, the mayor of Vancouver and council members were all upset. The police, fire responders and the emergency responders were all upset because of the timelines.
The member did not respond to any one of them, but cited some person who is not known to me, but possibly is known to the hon. member who just spoke.
Can the hon. member who just spoke tell me how it is that there seems to be such a variation in reality between what the Conservative caucus believes happened, i.e. less than a third of a litre of oil ultimately escaped, and this apparent upset on the part of every elected politician and every representative outside of the Conservative members of the B.C. caucus?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am trying to reconcile some discrepancies between what government members say and what seems to be the truth of the matter.
When the Kitsilano base was open, it dealt with something in the order of in excess of 300 incidents on an annual basis, which is a little more than one a day. The response time was something in the order of five minutes for all levels of incidents. In this instance, the response time, the notification time, was 37 hours. There seems to be a bit of a discrepancy between five minutes and 37 hours. As a consequence, the response does not seem to be quite the world-class response that members across the way seem to think was operative here.
How is it that 37 hours becomes a world-class response, but five minutes is not?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member professes to love the environment and love data. Here is data for him. Between 2009 and 2015, the transport budget for marine safety was cut from $82 million to $57.5 million. The environmental emergencies response program was cut by 34% over the last seven years. In the last number of years, 55 scientists were fired from DFO's marine contaminants program in 2012. This is how a five-minute response becomes a 37-hour response.
I love the hon. member's rich fantasy life. He is entitled to his opinion, but he is not entitled to the facts. These are the facts. These are the data. Could he respond to how these facts translate into a world-class response to a contaminant in English Bay?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I asked the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette how he squares a cut from $82 million to $57 million in the transport budget for marine safety, a cut of 55 scientists from DFO's marine contaminants program, a 34% cut in another contaminants program, and instead of a five-minute response time a 37-hour response time. He said that just showed the great efficiency of cutting money out of programs so that we now have a world-class response with respect to the environment, et cetera.
The hon. member loves to have data. Because of the hon. member's status as a legitimate scientist, I am interested as to how these cuts have affected Environment Canada and the response times for spills
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the deadline for submitting Canada's next climate action program to the UN is tomorrow; the Conservative government will not meet that deadline. The Petersberg climate dialogue will take place in May; the Conservative government will not attend. Chancellor Merkel plans to make climate change the number one priority of the G7 meetings in June; the Prime Minister will try to obstruct those meetings.
If deadlines are missed, meetings are skipped and the G7 sabotaged, then why bother with the charade of COP 21 in Paris?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I regret to inform the House of the passing of Terry Kelly, from Oshawa, last month.
I first met Terry when he offered me a job as an articling student. As many members will know, articling is only slightly removed from indentured servitude. Not with Terry. He was generous with his time, wise in his advice and reasonable in his expectations.
Terry was Durham's super lawyer. In the morning, he would dominate the criminal docket and in the afternoon, the civil one.
Terry was also known as “superfan”. His idea of a good time was to go to seven different cities, on seven different nights and watch seven different sporting events. His idea of a quiz was to name the All England starting lineup for the 1966 World Cup. If we got that, then he would ask us to name the substitutes.
Not only was Terry a super lawyer and a super fan, he was also a super citizen. His support for various civic projects are too numerous to list. Oshawa and Durham lost their biggest civic booster when Terry died. His generosity of time and spirit touched us all.
Please join me in recognizing a life well lived; a super fan, a super lawyer and a super citizen, wise and generous to the end.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister scored a rare double-double last week. He managed to damage both the economy and the environment. By betting on Congress rather than listening to the most powerful man on earth, he lost Keystone XL. Simultaneously, he made a 44% cut to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. He also cut Sustainable Development Technology Canada. He also cut species at risk and meteorological services.
Should double-doubles not be best served at Tim Hortons?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, just when Alberta and Canada could use an economic boost, the Prime Minister cancels a meeting with the president because he knows that the president will ask him about our ever-increasing GHG emissions. He should know that the president is also a serious basketball player. The PM lined up with a dysfunctional team of climate change deniers in Congress and the president dunked them both.
Is that what the Conservative Party means by an economic action plan?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I largely agree with much of what the hon. member said, and I know he is shocked.
I have in my hand the parliamentary calendar. There are basically 12 sitting weeks, subject to the whims of the Prime Minister to call an election. Things do not move at lightning speed around here at the best of times and the chances of getting this into committee, out of committee and back to the House for debate, along with the budget, which may or may not be presented in April, and the rest of the stuff that goes on to get a bill out of here and into the Senate seems, to me, to be a lot of parliamentary time.
Does the hon. member think the bill will receive royal assent?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, also on the billion-dollar question, which is the billion-dollar question here, does the member know offhand, or do his background notes tell us, how much the Enbridge Michigan spill was? I doubt it is within the range of the $20 million to $50 million that he suggested.
Also, is the member concerned about spills in certain areas? For example, there are pipelines that run through the heart of downtown Toronto. A spill in the heart of downtown Toronto would be a fairly significant spill and would be far more significant financially than a spill in some other parts of Canada, such as remote parts, so in some respects the average spill does not mean too much. It is the catastrophic spills that do.
I would be interested in the member's thoughts with respect to the catastrophic spill in Michigan, as well as a potential catastrophic spill in major cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, et cetera.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, to pick up on what the hon. member just said, we actually do have to account for the absurd catastrophic experience, which is why this kind of money has to be provided.
I was disappointed that the member was not able to respond with respect to the Michigan spill, because it was a huge hit on Enbridge's bottom line. I do not know what the number was, but I would have hoped that he would have been able to share that number with the House so that we could talk about these “absurd” spills, which is what the subject of the legislation before us is all about.
The Liberal Party largely supports the bill, so my remarks are offered in that light. It is a necessary piece of legislation. We might think it is a bit incremental, but nevertheless a step in the right direction is a step in the direction. There is no gainsaying that.
My first remarks have to do with the $1 billion liability insurance. As it has been previously explained in the House, this is no-fault liability insurance, meaning that no matter how the spill occurs, there would be insurance to cover it. The reasonable expectation is that it is simply a cost of doing business, whatever the premiums are. Since none of these companies is in the business of trying to lose money, I daresay that the ultimate end user of the product will pay for the cost of this insurance one way or another.
The late and great C.D. Howe was a cabinet minister in the Mackenzie King government and in the St. Laurent government. This was in the era when cabinet ministers were serious people. They did not need to refer to talking points each and every day in order to find out what the prime minister of the day thought about any subject. C.D. Howe was a legend, and as he was presenting a budget towards the end of World War II, which was a budget with an appropriation of about $1.3 billion for the war effort—a pretty significant sum of money at the end of World War II—one of the opposition members asked him about a million-dollar item.
Mr. Howe apparently replied, “Well, in the context of a $1.3 billion appropriation, $1 million is not a significant sum of money.” Out of that came the political lexicon that has been attributed to C.D. Howe, namely “What's a million?” Conservatives being Conservatives, they were never given to accuracy or truthfulness back then, so despite the fact that C.D. Howe did not actually say that, it still became part of the lexicon.
Conservatives then and Conservatives now are basically the same entity as far as truthfulness and accuracy might be concerned. I might appropriate that political lexicon and say “What's a billion?” If “What's a million” at the end of World War II was a significant sum of money in the minds of many, then “What's a billion?” in 2015, for many people, would still be considered a significant sum of money.
A liability of $1 billion in certain areas of the country seems to me to be perfectly adequate. In fact, I would say that in maybe 95% of the areas where pipelines are located, $1 billion might very well be a perfectly adequate sum of money. However, a pipeline running through downtown Toronto—as does Line 9, which runs through through Finch and Yonge, right beside a subway station—poses a significant risk.
Similarly, pipelines that run over watercourses that provide drinking water for millions of people pose a pretty significant risk. That is again the case in Toronto. A spill there would be of far greater significance than, say, a spill in a remote region in northern Ontario, possibly in Haliburton, although it would be a shock to have a spill in Haliburton. In sum, the risk from a spill in downtown Toronto, downtown Montreal, downtown Halifax, or downtown Vancouver is of a far greater magnitude than the risk in the more remote regions of the country.
The other issue is the content of the pipeline. One of the real reasons for the problems that occurred in Michigan with Enbridge was that the content was diluted bitumen, dilbit as it is known. The way I understand it is that when it hits water, it simply sinks to the bottom. That makes it very difficult to clean up, because one is then cleaning up something that is below the surface of the water, as opposed to, say, a gas line spill where the spill is on the surface of the water and because the spill largely evaporates before it does any serious environmental damage. Thus the contents of the pipelines vary and carry a significant sum of our gross domestic product with them. The contents of the pipelines are as relevant as the location of the spills.
I also have some concerns about the unlimited liability aspect. The first billion dollars of liability is no fault, and that is covered by an insurance policy. After that, in theory, either an energy company acquires further insurance at some presumably significant cost or it does not carry that insurance, and it in turn in effect pledges its own value as the assurity or its ability to clean up that risk beyond one billion dollars. My colleague across the way thought that that might be an absurd idea, but Enbridge in particular does not think it is such an absurd idea.
I want to point out to those who might be interested that pipelines are creatures of the stock market. Some days pipeline companies are worth multiple billions of dollars, and at other times, as multiple billions of dollars melt rather quickly, they become worth multiple millions of dollars, and there is nothing like a spill to shed value on a stock market.
I recommend, Mr. Speaker, that you not be in the doorway when an energy company spill occurs, because you will be crushed by the run of stockholders out the door because, frankly, they do not want to stand around and pick up the tab for anything that is potentially beyond one billion dollars.
The concept of unlimited liability beyond one billion dollars in theory sounds pretty good, but in practice may actually be quite a challenge, because the very fact of a spill or other catastrophic market events such as what we have witnessed in the last few months literally melt billions of dollars off the bottom line of a company.
These are issues that I think and hope a committee will take into consideration and get some expert advice on so that members know what they are voting on.
My colleague from Halifax West expressed a concern about the discretion allocated to the National Energy Board and cabinet to proclaim and enforce more robust regulations. I share his concern. I know the government wishes us to think, and I would like to think myself, that inspections will increase by 50%. I hope that is true. I am also hopeful that safety audits will double. I have no reason to doubt the good faith of the government.
However, I also want to be assured, and I hope the minister and the Conservatives members on the committee will be able to assure other members of the committee who might be a touch more skeptical, that the cabinet and the NEB would engage the robust powers they would be given under the legislation and that it would not simply be in appearance rather than anything else.
We are talking about a very serious amount of money on an annual basis. Pipelines ship roughly $100 billion of product on an annual basis. I will put that into perspective. That is just slightly below the budget at Queen's Park, the budget of the second biggest government in Canada. That is a significant sum of money.
I know that the members and the minister opposite have repeatedly said that 99 point whatever per cent is shipped safely. I am prepared to believe that. However, it is a little like saying that 99% of the time my brakes work. It is kind an absurd statistic, because I am not expecting perfection. Short of some other place, there is no perfection in this world, and so I do not anticipate perfection. However, I do think that every possible measure needs to be taken to assure Canadians' safety, not only the safety of their air and their water, but also of the food chain, et cetera.
I would say that, ultimately, Bill C-46 is a move to restore public confidence and, in that respect, it is a tiny step in the right direction.
Regrettably, Canadians have come to learn not to trust the current government on any point of intersection between the economy and the environment. Unfortunately, where there is a point of conflict between the environment and the economy, the environment loses. This is a bill that would try to restore that confidence, but, regrettably, the current government has established a reputation that it is not serious about environment issues and, as I say, whenever the economy and the environment come into conflict, it is the environment that loses.
Unfortunately, we have seen in this past week a consequence of its not being serious about the environment and the consequence of its not being serious about damage to our economic best interest.
When President Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline, he did so for a good reason. He does not think the current government is serious about the environment. His perception, like the perception of many, is that the current government is not serious. The most obvious example is the ever-inclining trend in GHG emissions.
The charts put out by the government itself and audited by the Commissioner of the Environment show that in 2020 we will have historically high emissions of 720 megatonnes. The goal that was set by the government after Kyoto was 607 megatonnes.
There is, I know, a fantasy life over across the way that we are on track to meeting our emissions targets, and there may actually be someone in this country outside the Conservative caucus who actually believes that. However, the simple facts of the government's own charts, as audited by the Auditor General, show that there are 113 megatonnes that need to be made up. There is no chance that the Prime Minister would meet his own watered-down Copenhagen targets.
As I said, President Obama has noticed, many members of Congress have noticed, many of the American public have noticed, NGOs have noticed, the world has noticed, the Europeans have noticed and, as a consequence, we have established this reputation for not being serious about the environment. The consequence of having established that reputation has been a serious hit to our own economy.
Just this week in the main estimates there were major cuts to sustainable development technology, $25 million; the sustainable development technology fund, another $6.5 million; major cuts to species at risk, $12.5 million; major cuts to meteorological services, $5 million; cuts to project management, $2.3 million, et cetera. Moreover, a 44% cut to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency was jammed into an omnibus bill. Environment Canada's budget has gone from $978 million two years ago to $961 million for the fiscal year ending March 2016, a difference of $17 million. It is not as if Environment Canada has less work to do; it actually has more work to do with fewer resources.
President Obama could be forgiven if he expressed a bit of skepticism about Canada and the current government's commitment to environmental issues, particularly greenhouse gas emissions. As I said, NGOs have noticed, Canadians have noticed, other Americans have noticed, and Europeans have noticed. Therefore, the credibility gap is quite significant; hence, the reason for this bill being on the table today. This is a tiny incremental step to regain some of that credibility. The government is, in effect, digging itself out from its own credibility hole.
It is hard to do that when the government runs around saying that the people who protest pipelines are eco-terrorists. I respectfully submit that that pretty well killed the chances of ever obtaining a reasoned decision on the northern gateway pipeline. That has affected our economic interests. The absence of credibility in the government has made Kinder Morgan a much more difficult pipeline to obtain. It has left the TransCanada east pipeline essentially orphaned in the hope that somehow or another something will happen for that pipeline to go through. Keystone XL, at least for the foreseeable future, has no life in it.
When we lose the credibility in the larger marketplace, we lose our social licence. If we lose our social licence, we will not obtain the pipelines that we think we need. When we lose that, we therefore lose our economic ability to generate revenue and GDP, and that has very serious economic consequences. This faux fight between the environment and the economy is just simply that: a faux fight.
I hope that Bill C-46 will get a good airing in committee. I hope there will be clarification of the audit and inspection powers of the NEB. I hope there will be a commitment coming out of that. I hope there will be a mechanism for ensuring that pipeline companies remain responsible for their abandoned pipelines. There are a number of things that could potentially come out of this, such as requiring a portion of each company's financial resources to be readily accessible, or providing the authority to take control of incidents. All of these things could come out of this.
I want to make note in my closing comments that I can hope, but I do not expect. I can see that we have 12 weeks left on the parliamentary calendar. To get this bill from here to royal assent in 12 weeks is mostly hope, but I think it will end up as a talking point for the government, that we had the best of intentions, but Bill C-46 died on the order paper.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would say that when a Conservative offers us a chair we should ensure that all of the legs are in place.
The issue is that we would not be having this conversation or the opposition would not be expressing some skepticism had the government established its environmental credibility over the past nine years. However, it has not established its environmental credibility; rather, it has lost its social licence to do things.
I am forever puzzled by the pathetic way in which the Conservative members ask for affirmation, such as, “Tell us what good things we have done today.” Well, what did they have for breakfast? I am sure that was a good thing.
I like and respect my hon. colleague across the way. However, the regrettable fact is that each and every pipeline I have mentioned has a considerable pushback from people who are very concerned about the safety of pipelines.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I do not think the offence is limited to Quebec. It is an operative fact that the purview and the ability of the NEB to consider various issues that are of relevance to the very people the member is talking about has been quite circumscribed, and so the hearings themselves are limited and the access to the hearings is limited. The problem with that is that the project has basically been destroyed before one can get to it. If that pattern continues, then regrettably, this industry will have some serious problems.
The current government wishes to act like a cheerleader. It is not a cheerleader; it is a regulator. When a regulator operates properly, it operates in the best interests of the Canadian public.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand the 2015 calendar. We have two sitting weeks in March. We have three sitting weeks in April. I imagine that the three sitting weeks in April will pretty well be used up by the budget. We then have three sitting weeks in May, and one and a half sitting weeks scheduled for June.
If the government were committed to a lightning-like process, it could do this bill, but that is just getting it through the House. From there, we have to move it over to the Senate, which has its own process.
I respectfully suggest that the chances of this bill seeing royal assent are about the same as the chances of the Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup this year. I have hit a pretty sensitive point, but as a lifelong Leafs fan, I have had a tonne of realism hit me this year.
I do not think this will happen. My only speculation, and it is entirely speculative on my part, is that this bill was introduced for window dressing.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I wonder sometimes whether they eat the talking points or have them mainlined.
I am told that the cost of the Enbridge spill is at about $1.3 billion and growing. That is a huge hit on Enbridge's bottom line. I do not know what the insurance was for Enbridge's spill. Were that to happen here, I assume that the first $1 billion would be picked up by the no-fault insurance. That is good. That is a good point.
Having said that, not all companies are Enbridge. There are companies that are in free fall as far as the value of their assets is concerned. I have watched stock markets in the past. The stampede of the shareholders out the door when bad things are happening to a company is amazing. The poor old taxpayer gets stiffed with the bill. I would just point that out.
There is only person whom we had to make happy with the Keystone XL pipeline. That one person is the most powerful man in the world. The government blew it. It was a no-brainer.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I quite enjoy working with him on the environment committee. I wish we would actually accomplish something at the environment committee, but it is what it is, unfortunately. Members might be interested to know that the environment committee is now engaged in a study on hunting and trapping. Of all the issues the environment committee could be studying, such as climate change, fracking, or whatever, hunting and trapping is the one that has been chosen. It is of critical interest to us all.
I am pleased to hear that the NDP will be supporting the bill. I would think it should be at committee sooner rather than later, but I am also, as I outlined earlier, a bit concerned about the parliamentary schedule. I know that there is a lot of make-work stuff going at other committees, but this actually could be a real piece of work.
Does he think there is a real chance that, with what is left, this will actually get to royal assent?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the government members have been repeating the 99.999% figure, and my first analogy is that I hope my brakes are 100% rather than 99%, because the 1% when I actually need them, I really will need them.
The second point is that if in fact pipelines are as safe as he says they are, 99.999%, then really, the bill is a bit unnecessary. It is a risk where there is no risk at all. How is it, therefore, that we need a bill to insure that 0.0001% of risk? Were I an insurance company I would be more than happy to charge a premium for a risk that was of that order of magnitude.
I cannot quite square his argument. Either the bill is necessary, which I think it is, or the risk is higher than whatever is left over after 99.999%.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, in question period today, the Prime Minister suggested that discussions such as this should go to the justice committee. It seems somewhat disingenuous to me, because Bill C-51 has just been referred to the justice committee. We have 12 sitting weeks left to do something. Therefore, I am interested in the hon. member's response to the Prime Minister's comment.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, there is very little I disagree on with what the hon. member just said. Unfortunately, however, we are facing a 12-month deadline. This time next year, there will be no law unless Parliament acts. The reality is that we have 12 sitting weeks to do that.
While I agree with much of what she said, I wonder whether she would agree with what Preston Manning said in The Globe and Mail article, in which he set out a nine-point strategy for dealing with it. As Mr. Manning rightly has said, doing nothing is not a strategy or an alternative. In his final point, he stated:
The courts, the interest groups, the academics and the commentators have had a great deal to say on the pros and cons of physician-assisted suicide. Now it is especially important that our elected officials and legislators hear from rank-and-file Canadians.
If doing nothing is not a strategy, then what is the alternative, other than what has been proposed today?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, a lot of the objections on the government side with respect to this motion have to do with not having enough time. As the member for Guelph rightly said, there is a looming deadline, and that is February next year. We do not have that much time to do it.
The argument then becomes that we may have to go to the Supreme Court to ask for an extension. The parliamentary secretary suggested that. The member for Kildonan—St. Paul suggested that.
Is it the member's opinion that our position to seek an extension, if in fact that was appropriate, would be much more enhanced if Parliament had engaged, started the process, and actually started to hear witnesses?
I point to the chair of the finance committee. It is not unusual for the finance committee to hear 300 or 400 witnesses in the course of a three- or four-month hearing process on pre-budget consultations. It is doable. I would be interested in the member's opinion as to whether our position before the Supreme Court would actually be enhanced by the commencement of a process.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank colleagues for what I regard as a largely respectful debate throughout the day and minimal partisanship. I want to address the one specific issue that seems to be of most concern, because once people work through the issues around physician-assisted suicide, it comes down to giving an appropriate, respectful length of time to what should be the legislative response. Therefore, I would be interested in the hon. member's views with respect to the compressed 12-month timeline that the Supreme Court has given in deference to Parliament, whether she has any thoughts as to whether that is sufficient and, if it is sufficient, if this is the appropriate motion to get it going.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I have been here for a good part of the day, listening to this debate, and I want to congratulate colleagues on their largely non-partisan debate. It is actually quite encouraging. I think that, for those who are watching, it is encouraging to see parliamentarians actually engage in an issue that is of deep significance to each and every one of us. I think that, frankly, over the course the day, we have done that in largely quite a respectful manner.
What brings us to this point, though, is the Supreme Court decision, which as my colleague just said, is only 18 days old and does put us under the gun, and the gun will explode one way or another on February 6, 2016. In my judgment, it is a carefully crafted judgment; it is also unanimous, it has a date, and it is also an exercise in deference to Parliament because the Supreme Court rightly thinks that Parliament is the appropriate place to craft a legislative response to its decision.
In that light, we have basically three alternatives before us.
We can do nothing. That is an alternative. The do-nothing alternative means that, in 12 months, we will have legal chaos, and I would extend that even to emotional chaos. I really do not think that Canadians would be very encouraged by their parliamentarians if in fact we did nothing over the next 12 months.
The next alternative is to ask for an extension. That is a perfectly legitimate response and has been raised by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, has been raised by the parliamentary secretary speaking on behalf of the government, and has been alluded to by the member from Winnipeg. That is, again, a second alternative and possibly an alternative that we might land on. However, I would not want to be the government lawyer on February 5, 2016, standing before the Supreme Court of Canada, asking for an extension. The first question out of the mouth of the Chief Justice would be to ask what we have done in the last 12 months. If in fact we have done nothing, then I would say that the Supreme Court would be very reluctant to grant the extension.
That basically drives us to the third conclusion, which is that we have to start doing something.
We have put forward to this chamber a motion to create a special committee to do something, because doing nothing or hoping like heck that somehow or another the Supreme Court would grant us an extension, in another year, are not reasonable alternatives in my judgment.
I think, because this is a decision that so uniquely affects 100% of the Canadian population, it behooves us to listen to what Canadians have to say, and so I adopt the reasoning of a former colleague and a good friend for many of us, Preston Manning, who outlined a nine-point process in The Globe and Mail just recently.
I will start where he ends. He says:
Let the people speak: The courts, the interest groups, the academics and the commentators have had a great deal to say on the pros and cons of physician-assisted suicide.
He is absolutely right.
Now it is especially important that our elected officials and legislators hear from rank-and-file Canadians.
Mr. Manning has put before us a challenge, as has the Supreme Court. I know Mr. Manning a bit, and I know his great respect for listening to what Canadians have to say.
In his article, he goes on to talk about when he was a member for Calgary Southwest and he actually convened a number of meetings with his own constituents.
His own constituents, by and large, were in favour of legislation involving physician-assisted dying. That was, frankly, contrary to his personal beliefs, so it was interesting for Mr. Manning to be in a situation in which his own constituents were asking him to promote legislation that was not consistent with his own views.
In the process, he outlined a number of areas where we need to be concerned.
His first point was that we need to be compassionate. I have heard various members over the course of the day talking about various personal situations. Those personal situations are deeply held views and range across the entire gamut of the human experience. The first point, if and when such a committee is composed, is that it be a committee that expresses itself in compassion.
The second point that Mr. Manning raises has to do with palliative care. I think it is a relevant point, and it has been raised as well by the member for Timmins—James Bay. I think we are a bit agnostic as to whether the motion needs to be amended to include reference to palliative care, but I know the Liberal Party would be open to such a suggestion.
However, our motion was drafted in response to what the Supreme Court said. I think a lot of air would go out of the balloon, for want of a better term, if the Government of Canada and all of the other legislatures in Canada responded to the committee report that the member for Guelph, the member for Timmins—James Bay, and the member for Kitchener—Conestoga put forward. If that response was there, then maybe there would not be as much animus in this debate.
The next point has to do with provincial legislation. I and quite a number of colleagues in the House have practised law. We have dealt, from time to time, with situations in which relatives are telling us one thing and the client is telling us something else. Even absent an impending death, or even outside of an impending death, there is conflict within families. I am not telling the House anything new. There is conflict within families, and the conflict frequently spills over into conflicts involving professionals. A clarification of living wills or in some other form through provincial legislation would be very helpful.
The next point has to do with the number of letters a lot of us are receiving with respect to doctors and where they find themselves in these difficult situations. A lot of doctors got into being doctors because they are very interested in preserving life and enhancing life, et cetera. They see physician-assisted dying as inconsistent with their own understanding of why they are doctors.
That needs to be clarified sooner rather than later, because a lot of doctors, if my correspondence is similar to anyone else's in this chamber, are very conflicted about where they stand without real legislation. If this Parliament does not act by February 6, 2016, to provide some clarification of the law, there will be a very difficult situation for our physician colleagues, who will not know where they stand in the administration of this whole matter.
Let me wind up there. Again I commend my colleagues for what I believe to be largely a respectful debate. I do think it is important that the people speak. I do think it is important that we get going on this. If we could start tomorrow morning, I would be happy about that. I am agnostic about whether it has to be a special committee, but my views are that it does have to be a special committee because all of the other committees' agendas are already filled.
I am conscious that we have essentially 12 weeks to get through this. It is possible. Where there is a will, there is a way, and I hope that tonight we will get that way.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I should have said where there is a will, there is a lawyer, but in this particular case, let us hope not.
I point to the example of the finance committee. The finance committee has conducted pre-budget hearings annually for probably the last 10 or 15 years. The witness list stretches to 300 or 400 witnesses over the course of about three months.
Where there is a will, there is a way. A special committee would presumably have sufficient time.
I do not consider the legislative drafting to be all that difficult. We would be amending the Criminal Code; we do that each and every day. I would be very surprised if the Minister of Justice has not already received several draft responses from his officials to look over. Compliance with charter issues is extremely important.
There is an ability to do this if there is a will do it. If we fail to do it, we are letting down 100% of Canadians.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, my colleague made a very thoughtful suggestion. I had not thought of dividing it between the two Parliaments so as to have a report by July and then have a draft of the legislation ready to go after the election. That is certainly an alternative.
When we first contemplated making this particular motion today, one of the suggestions that I put forward dealt with asking the government to introduce legislation at first reading. I suggested having the first reading initiate the hearings so that we would be doing the legislative hearing and the hearing on the issues simultaneously.
That said, I actually like my colleague's idea more than I like my own, so if that plan would be appropriate, I am fine with it.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, our party will be supporting this. I thought the member's speech was thoughtful and quite reflective of the reality we are facing as a species, so to speak.
Unfortunately, the parliamentary secretary gave a demonstration of why we have made no progress in the last nine years, with rather juvenile questions about what we are actually facing as a nation.
I notice in the various provisions of the bill that there is no reference to carbon tax. The member knows, as do I, that his party and my party get continually criticized by the government for putting a tax on everything, and other nonsense that continues to be perpetrated. I wonder whether the omission of a carbon tax in the member's legislation was intentional.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the parliamentary secretary's recitation of his talking points. I think I have heard them about a dozen times before. They are in some respects reflective of why there has been no progress made on this file in the last nine or ten years and the reason for the hon. member for Beaches—East York's presentation of what I consider to be a very able bill.
The NDP is a party that takes climate change and carbon pricing seriously. The Green Party is a party that takes climate change and carbon pricing seriously, as does the Liberal Party. The only party in the House that does not take either climate change or carbon pricing seriously is the Conservative Party, and the parliamentary secretary has just given a classic demonstration of why we have not made any progress on this file over the last nine years.
As the temperatures of the earth rise, Rome burns while Nero fiddles.
I found all of the things that the parliamentary secretary said they have done to be ironic. What he neglected to say is that there is absolutely no chance whatsoever that the government will achieve its own Copenhagen targets, which were watered down from those the previous government had set. We are in a situation where three out of the four parties in the House take the issue seriously but, regrettably, the governing party does not.
In the last few weeks, the leader of the Liberal Party gave a demonstration of how we would go about achieving these targets. The first thing he did was to meet with the premiers. That is a novel concept for the Prime Minister. He has had nine years to meet with the premiers, but unfortunately has not been able to clear up his schedule, except from time to time before hockey games, where he can fit in 15 or 20 minutes to meet with the premiers. On the other hand, the Liberal leader has met with many of the premiers, sometimes on multiple occasions. In the case of Premier Wynne, he has talked with her about the issue of pricing carbon.
B.C., Alberta, Quebec, and probably Ontario very shortly will all price carbon one way or another. That makes for about 85% of the overall economy. The junior levels of government have all moved on from the federal government, because the people of Canada and the premiers of Canada take the issue of pricing carbon seriously. The leader of the Liberal Party has met with those premiers who are taking this issue seriously.
The second thing he did was fly to Calgary. Not only did he fly to Calgary, but he also went to the Calgary Petroleum Club. He went there, a place not exactly friendly to a person of his last name, and reminded them of his last name. He told the people there that we in Canada have to price carbon. He said, “You know Canada needs to have a price on carbon. The good news is that we’re already on our way.” It was a mature and honest conversation with the area of the country that has the most difficulty with carbon emissions.
If the environmental argument does not persuade members, perhaps the economic argument will. If we are to get our resources to tidewater, we need to be serious about the environment. What is good for the environment is actually good for the whole economy.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been a colossal mess both economically and politically. It has been an economic and political disaster. In fact, it is a classic case of political mismanagement. Alienating the most powerful individual in the world about something that we need and want is wondrous to behold.
Not only does the Prime Minister not talk to the premiers, but he also does not talk to the leader of the free world and our largest trading partner. It seems a bizarre way to go about trying to get an international / North American price on carbon.
The leader of the Liberal Party proposed a model for Canadians that they understand and with which they have some experience—namely, a health care model. Canada is a confederation, and we succeed in this confederation when we collaborate. He suggested a health care model for how we will price carbon.
He then said we have to set the goals. That is consistent with what the hon. member for Beaches—East York indicated, that targets have to be set. The national government has to be engaged, whether it is cap and trade as it is with Quebec and California, possibly Ontario as well, or whether it is a tax as it is in British Columbia, whether it is revenue neutral or revenue generating. The leader of the Liberal Party is agnostic as to how a province or a territory will meet its goals. Do whatever it takes, but these will be the national goals and these will be the breakouts of the goals.
Fifth, acknowledge that some of the provinces will need more assistance than others, just as in the health care model. Some provinces are more successful at achieving health outcomes than are others. If we understand the health model that way, then we will also understand the model that is being suggested by the leader of the Liberal Party. If the parties were serious, we could get this done. The provinces and territories have not had a serious partner in nine years.
Sixth, he made a commitment to go to Paris in October or November of this year to negotiate Canada's final goals. Could someone please tell me the last time the Prime Minister of Canada attended a COP conference since 2006? The Prime Minster avoids those conferences like the plague because he is not serious. He is not serious about pricing carbon, and he is not serious about COP. If the leader of the Liberal Party has the good fortune of being elected as the prime minister of Canada, he has committed himself to go to Paris.
The seventh point is that the leader of the Liberal Party would call a conference of the confederation within 150 days of the commencement of government. He would go to the conference, get the targets, aggregate the targets among the various provinces and territories, and commit to what needs to be done to achieve the targets.
The nonsense that the parliamentary secretary spouted about destroying the economy in order to achieve the targets is just that. The federal government is nowhere to be found in the whole development of the clean energy sector. The sector has pretty well done it on its own, and it is responsible for an equal number of jobs to oil and gas, which is around 27,000 direct and 275,000 indirect jobs.
Finally, just to show that the government is not serious, there is a paragraph in the Lima conference that says that each nation will submit a target by the end of March, an intended nationally determined contribution, due at the end of March. I dare say that neither the minister nor the parliamentary secretary will be able to shed any light on whether that target has been set.
We will support this bill. It is a step in the right direction. It is a little overly prescriptive, but nevertheless it is a useful contribution to a debate. It shows a seriousness on the part of some parliamentarians to actually deal with what many say is the existential threat of our time.
I thank the hon. member for his efforts in putting together a very useful bill for the House to consider.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the misquotes being attributed to the leader of the Liberal Party border on urban legend. I would offer the opportunity for the hon. member to correct the nonsense by the Conservative Party, which is to spend and which, in this new coalition, has been picked up by the NDP as well.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, five years ago, the government set up a bogus corporate social responsibility office to deflect criticism of its own inaction. It was mandated to fail. During its long and illustrious history, it handled a total of six files. When the counsellor bailed from boredom, the government decided not replace her. Now instead of wasting a million dollars a year, the government only wastes $180,000 a year. Is this what the government calls “respect for taxpayers' money”?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
It is yet another false claim by the members of the opposition, Mr. Speaker.
If it only stopped there: $700,000 to sue veterans, which makes the lawyers pretty happy; $7 million in partisan ads during sports events, while members who are watching sports events go to the loo; $162,000 for a Toronto party, yet again to announce the CETA agreement—we cannot say Toronto is not a place to party; another $1.4 million for lawyers to fight refugees over their health care entitlements. No wonder the government is having trouble balancing the budget.
Is this just party time for Conservative lawyers?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his speech, and I share his skepticism with respect to whether we will have a thorough study in committee. However, hope springs eternal, and maybe in 2015 a committee will actually study it and make recommendations, and the government will actually make changes to the bill.
I would like to get the member's commentary on the $1-billion threshold for liability. As the member rightly points out, it is a no-fault threshold, and thereafter it is unlimited liability. In the matter of oil spills, particularly significant ones, $1 billion is actually just a rounding error. It is nothing in terms of the catastrophic effect an oil spill can have. To use my own community of Toronto as an example, if there were an oil spill and it leaked into Lake Ontario close to a water pipe intake, the consequences would be catastrophic
I wonder whether the committee might actually give some thought to whether $1 billion is a threshold. In fact, liability beyond $1 billion is limited by bankruptcy legislation. No company is immune from bankruptcy, and a company can hit its bankruptcy threshold pretty quickly in some of these things.
The third thing I would like the member to comment on is a terrorist incident. If there were a series of well-planned incidents by people who wished to do us harm, how would the liability play through, both for the $1-billion threshold and the post-$1-billion threshold?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, with friends like me, he does not need any enemies. This is actually an opportunity to have a real debate about this liability, as opposed to the usual nonsense that passes for debate around here.
I wonder whether the concept of pooled insurance would be a concept the committee might consider. It may well be similar to Lloyd's of London. The insurance company would take the first hit on the liability, and thereafter some form of Lloyd's-type insurance, either from the industry itself or from Lloyd's, would actually pick up the balance.
I appreciate the significance of the cost of the premiums, but on the other hand, as they say in the economics trade, these are externalities. These externalities are things that heretofore we have not actually factored into the cost of transporting carbon. We feel it is perfectly fine to pollute the environment, the water, the air, and that sort of thing and not price it, as opposed to other forms of energy generation. These are the kinds of things I would like to see a committee get into.
Does the member accept the minister's statement that it is 99.99% safe? There seem to be a heck of a lot of incidents in the newspaper about spills, small and large.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, there does seem to be a lot of Christmas spirit around here.
In a moment of Christmas spirit, I am going to give colleagues a gift: I will speak very briefly about this bill. I appreciate the enthusiasm on the part of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I anticipate that this enthusiasm is shared by pretty well everyone in this House.
The reason is that there has been lots of debate about this bill. Pretty well everything that needs to be said has been said. There is general support on both sides of the House for this bill. It has been noted, and I will note again, that it is regrettable: the minister could have taken the entire South Nahanni watershed, as the population wanted, and turned it into an addition to this park.
For Liberals, this is a special park because it was initiated under former prime minister Trudeau many years ago. Successive governments have added to this park. I congratulate the government for its latest addition to the park.
It is ultimately kind of dragging bad news out of good news to take out what would have been the South Nahanni watershed and shrink it down to what is in the metes and bounds description that is in front of the bill. Regrettably, it only had the support of two people, of all of the 1,600 people who were canvassed.
Nevertheless, I adopt the views of a former colleague, Ethel Blondin-Andrew, that we should not let perfection be the enemy of the good. This is a bill that is worthy of giving support, and I am urging all colleagues to do so.
Again, in the spirit of Christmas, merry Christmas to all.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, there are specific reasons for that, and they have been canvassed in previous debates and at the committee. I specifically asked the minister why she chose the smallest portion of all of the portions that were presented as options. Indeed, there were four options. I am going from memory so do not quote me on these numbers, but the options were the entire South Nahanni watershed, or 7,000 square kilometres, or 6,000 square kilometres, or 5,000 square kilometres. The 5,000 square kilometre option was the one that was accepted, which only had the support of two people.
Ironically, the lines, when they are drawn, just seem to skirt all of the mining sites so the government can legitimately say there will be no mining going on in the park itself. It is a nice bit of rhetoric, but somewhat facetious since it has drawn the boundary. How it would work, with respect to any effluent that comes from the mine that must go through part of the park, is another question.
Nevertheless, as I said, let not perfection be the enemy of the good. The government, in spite of itself, has done some good here.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I was at that committee, too. I have the record here from the Library of Parliament. The Library of Parliament said that there were three options put in front of the 1,600 people. Two of the options, option A and option B, included the mine sites. The third option skirted the mine sites.
Yes, there is always eagerness for development in northern regions, but there is also a very deep-seated ethic of ecological integrity, which I think northerners probably respect as much as, if not more than, pretty well any other Canadian.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the Environment Canada and the sub-department of Parks Canada have been the orphan child of the Conservative government. Essentially, for the eight or nine years that the government has been in place, the budget has been flatlined and there have been substantial lapses. Some are in the order of 10% in lapsed money last year.
It is not as if Parks Canada cannot use the money. Its infrastructure needs are massive. Literally within walking distance of this place, the Rideau Canal needs something like $300 million in upgrades. A lot of little announcements are made, but little on cheque writing. I guess we save the cheque writing for another occasion
I agree with the hon. member that it would be nice to see the resources accompany the announcements, and it would have been nice to have simultaneously tabled a dedicated sum of money for the preservation, enhancement and access to Nááts’ihch’oh.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I tend to agree with the hon. member in principle, but it is ironic that the people of that area would have preferred to include the mine site in the actual South Nahanni watershed.
It appears that the government and the local folks, who would have been most affected by jobs and the costs of either opening or closing a facility, would have preferred to keep that part of the land inside the park rather than outside the park.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues for filling in my time on speeches, because I thought I offered a Christmas gift of a shorter discourse.
Nevertheless, it is great to preserve these pieces of land. We are all supportive of that. However, it is passingly strange that we do not provide resources to improve and enhance them, or even give access to Canadians so they can actually see these national treasures.
On the issues of science, the government's record speaks for itself. Science has been the whipping child. We would not want to have facts get in the way of ideology. The scientists, regrettably, provide inconvenient facts from time to time, which just ruins a well-crafted political narrative.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, according to the Prime Minister, it is crazy to keep his Copenhagen promises and regulate the oil and gas industry at any price per barrel.
What is even more crazy is to blow off presidents Obama and Hollande and Prime Minister Cameron and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It is crazy to blow off the Lima climate change conference. It is crazy to embarrass his minister. Mind you, she does a pretty good job of it all by herself.
Why not just keep this crazy train going, and actually regulate the oil and gas industry?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment must be very pleased with herself. Yesterday, her own department contradicted her assertion that we are on target to meet our 2020 commitments. Last week, the senior diplomat in the world chastised Canada for its failure to show leadership on climate change. Today, we learned that Canada is 58th out of 61 countries on climate change progress. Thank goodness for Saudi Arabia and Iran, otherwise we would be dead last.
If we are only 2% of the problem, why is it that we are only 0% of the solution?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, another day, another time allocation motion. The hon. member said these now total some 84 motions. I am not keeping track because I have lost track.
This must be a record on a record, because it is time allocation on a park bill, for goodness sakes, which started out with a broad-based agreement in the House where it went on a voice vote to committee, and then it just went south.
What is amusing to me is that we can fix the bill with a very small amendment. However, in its classic governing style, where everyone else is wrong, whether the Queen's Park government, the thousands of petitioners living in and around the area, the environmentalists or even the farmers, the government believes everyone else is wrong and that it is right. As a result, the Conservatives are just jamming the bill down the throats of folks, and they will have a national Swiss cheese park.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the minister professes to being confused. It is a mystery to him how all of these people and governments could be opposed to the park when they were in favour of the park just six months ago. Apparently it is just all politics: when all of those thousands of petitioners are saying not to support the bill, it is just politics; when all of the park people and all of the knowledgeable NGOs in the country who started out in favour of the park are now opposed to the park bill in its present form, they just do not know what they are talking about. It is quite remarkable.
Apparently the telephone system only works one way. It only goes from Queen's Park to here. It does not actually go back the other way.
It is simple. It is a simple fix. The minister should honour what the people of Scarborough and York regions want done.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the minister has a talent for revisionist history. For the last 30 years, all governments have worked to create this park. Whether they have been Conservative or Liberal governments at Queen's Park, or Liberal or Conservative governments in Ottawa, all governments have worked on the land assembly.
Pauline Browes is a legitimate person who has been properly recognized as a real contributor to this, as have Derek Lee and Lois Jane. Frankly, that covers the entire political spectrum. All of these people, up until six months ago, wanted this to happen, yet the government has a unique talent to take consensus, destroy it, stomp on it and do it for the most obscure reasons possible.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report says that Nutrition North is a mess. The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs agrees with the Auditor General.
The MLA for Gjoa Haven says that the program is not working. The deputy mayor of Rankin says that residents are scavenging in the local dump for food.
However, the minister in charge of this particular area says that it is all not true and demands an apology. What is not true, the AG's findings, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs's agreement with the AG's findings, the statement by the MLA for Gjoa Haven, the statement by the deputy mayor for Rankin—
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, all of the parties voted to send the bill to committee in anticipation that there might be some discussion and possibly even some amendments to the bill to satisfy some of the concerns that were out there prior to the vote. As it turns out, the government was not interested in any of the amendments presented, and in fact trashed a number of the witnesses who had slightly different views.
The hon. member spent a lot of time talking about ecological integrity and then ecological health. He says, arguably for good reasons, that this bill could not adhere to the ecological integrity standard of a park that we would expect in Canada. Fine, we will buy that argument. The replacement standard is ecological health, which is referenced in clauses 4 and 6. That is fine. We should find a definition of what ecological health means. Presumably it is a downgraded standard from ecological integrity.
I ask my hon. colleague, can he point to any definition of what ecological health is for this park, or is it really anything the minister says it is?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I do not wish to quibble with my hon. colleague, but he said that no amendments were brought forward. He and I were there when 18 amendments were brought forward. I would think, as a point of order and a point of information, that he would want to correct himself with respect to that.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's speech was thoughtful and she drew out the issues quite well.
I would like her to focus on clause 6, which says that the minister must take into consideration, and she emphasized the point “take into consideration”. What does that actually mean? Four things are supposed to be taken into consideration: protection of natural ecosystems, cultural landscapes, native wildlife and health of ecosystems, none of which is defined in the legislation.
It is a case of everything is a priority. If everything is a priority, then really nothing is a priority and the consequence of that is the people who the legislation purports to protect. The hon. member previously said that he was very concerned about the farmers. We are all very concerned about the farmers. However, the farmers are actually as vulnerable as anyone else in the park. If everything is a priority and therefore nothing is a priority and if we have a minister who is hawkish and has no fettering of his or his discretion, then the farmers could be more vulnerable than they think they are.
She rightly sets up this false food fight between the ecologists and the farmers. The crazy part of the whole thing is that it leaves the farmers as vulnerable as it leaves everyone else. That is why she is right to emphasize the point that definitions matter. We are legislators. We work on definitions.
Is the hon. member, like I, disappointed in how this has turned out over these last few weeks and months?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it is customary for members to stand and say it gives them great pleasure to enter into this debate and so on, but in fact it does not give me great pleasure to enter into this debate. I am quite disappointed with the ultimate outcome of this legislation. I had hoped that with the co-operation of the opposition parties at second reading that the bill could have moved to committee where we could have done some business, but the government chose to take its usual bullheaded approach that it is right and everybody else is wrong. The consequence was that there was no movement by the government on anything, whether it was on the size of the park, or trying to make Queen's Park happier, or for the literally thousands of petitioners and all of the various environmental groups, and even some of the farmers, who are worried about where all of this may end up.
It is without any pleasure at all that I rise to talk about this legislation on behalf of the Liberal Party. In the event that we are fortunate enough to form government, we will fix this because it is in need of a serious fix. This was and is a wonderful opportunity to do something right, but the government in its “wisdom” decided that its way is the only way to do things right.
I largely agree with Pauline Browes, a former minister in the Mulroney government, and her detailing of how various levels of government have come together over time, both Conservative and Liberal, to get us to the point we are at today.
It is ultimately a good idea to turn these lands into a federal park, but regrettably the whole thing has derailed. What caused this derailment? Was it Queen's Park? It said that unless the government fixes the bill, Queen's Park is not going to contribute its lands to the park. Those lands constitute some 44% of the park. Instead of what has been advertised as a 58-square kilometre park, it would be 44% less than that.
However, it is actually worse than that. It is not as if we can chop the whole thing in half, make a nice clean line, and end up with half of a park. This would actually be a Swiss cheese park. The lands are owned in bits and pieces by various entities, one of which is the TRCA, which is controlled by the Ontario government. Those lands run largely along rivers and stream valleys. Other lands are owned by the town of Markham, which will make its own decisions. Then there are the federal lands. The whole thing is going to be a mess. There are conflicting jurisdictions, right from Lake Ontario all the way up to the Oak Ridges Moraine. It is a lot of land.
The fifty-eight square kilometres is quite a bit less than the 100-square kilometres that the environmentalists wished to protect. Lands to the east of the park itself are entirely controlled by the federal government and largely set aside for the Pickering airport, much of which is surplus to any airport. That land could have been contributed by the federal government toward enlarging the park, but for whatever reason the government chose not to do that. The 600-metre corridor which would have connected the Oak Ridges Moraine and the bulk of the park itself could have been included in the lands in the first place, but it was not done, for whatever reason.
The Conservatives seem to be fond of setting aside land, but are not quite so fond of ecological integrity and habitat protection. The animals that are in the park would have to stop at some artificial line between the Oak Ridges Moraine and the end of the park; otherwise, I guess they would be fair game.
In the actual bill itself there are three squiggly little pieces of land in Markham. Therefore, we are not getting 58 square kilometres, 100 square kilometres, or any of the lands that the federal government could have contributed from the lands east of the park itself. Instead, we are getting three little squiggly pieces of land in Markham, and that is the content of the bill. However, as the government has argued, we should trust it.
How did this derail? Was it the Queen's Park decision? That certainly did not contribute. Was it the committee process? We would think that a bill of this significance would have had more than three hearings at committee, one of which was the minister and her officials arguing for the bill. Essentially, we had a total of four hours at committee to review the bill and to hear the concerns of people. This park has been 30 years in the making, and it boiled down to four hours at committee. Many of the witnesses were pre-selected for their views, which were favourable to the those of the government's.
The previous speakers alluded to the multiple amendments, many of which centred on the one issue of the creation of some ecological standard. We can argue as to whether there should be ecological integrity or ecological health, but there should be something. Right now, it is ecological nothing. There are so many priorities set out in section 6 that there are actually no priorities. Therefore, for a minister, possibly such as this one, who is predisposed to making it up as he or she goes along, that leaves everybody quite vulnerable. On the other hand, a subsequent minister might be very interested in one aspect, whether it is some sort of development aspect, farming aspect, or some ecological integrity part of the park. We could assume anything. The way that this legislation is written, the minister has almost fiat-like powers to direct the park, and from time to time that will bump up against the best interests of ecologists, farmers, residents, or other levels of government. We have the opportunity here to get it right, to set forward values and priorities, and what we hear is “Trust us.”
It has perhaps derailed with the belittling of the witnesses and the exaggeration of the differences between the farmers and the others. Jane Philpott, one of our candidates for that area, and I, made a special effort to spend an entire day with the farmers. I enjoyed that day. I thought they were reasonable people. Their expectations were quite reasonable. I thought that these were people with whom we could do business. Therefore, my anticipation, largely fostered by the government's members, of some sort of hostility on the part of the farmers, was completely and utterly dissipated. I saw them as some of our foremost ecological stewards. They care about their lands. I was reminded of my father who had a farm not far from that site, and his land was his capital. The current situation leaves the farmers in a difficult position because they cannot enhance or develop their capital, whether with various farming techniques, drainage, or things of that nature. They are in a vulnerable situation. I am reminded of the worst words that a citizen of Canada will ever hear, which are, “I'm from the Government of Canada, and I'm here to help you.” I would tell my farmer friends to beware of the bill. They might think it helps them, but a proper definition of ecological health would help them a great deal more.
I have to say that I was disappointed by the treatment of the witnesses who came before us and whose views did not line up with the government's preconceived views. We have to be worried about a bill that is not supported by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, CPAWS, the leading organization in Canada recognized internationally, which is basically saying that we should go back to the drawing board and try to get this right because it will serve as a precedent for other bills.
Ontario Nature does not support it, the STORM Coalition does not support it, Nature Canada does not support it, Environmental Defence does not support it, and literally thousands of petitioners do not support it. They are not all foreign radicals. They are not all there to derail development and all of the rest of the ways in which environmental groups are demonized. They actually had quite reasonable, thoughtful and, I would respectfully suggest, modest suggestions as to how to get over the hump of the concerns of the Queen's Park government with the bill as presented by this particular government. Again, everyone else was wrong, the government was right, and there was absolutely no point at which we could arrive at any kind of compromise.
We have had some discussion about this rejection of the concept of ecological integrity. That is actually a difficult thing, and I could be persuaded that we cannot simply layer over the Parks Canada bill onto an urban setting. It seems like a reasonable proposition, but what is the alternative? We are driven to the other alternatives in clauses 4 and 6. When we ask a very simple question, which is what is ecological health, we either get a dozen answers, resounding silence, or tap dancing away from the question, because there is not a person in this chamber, not a person listening to this debate, who actually knows what ecological health is. It is thrown out there with the assumption that people will buy that idea and somehow or another it will work out in time.
The former minister, in his lead-off speech, said that some things go without saying. If we think about that, we are legislators and we put bills forward. To say it “goes without saying” is not something we could put in a bill because it “goes without saying“. If in fact there is a very concerned community about what those definitions should be, “goes without saying” is not an adequate response to their concerns.
We put definitions in a bill for good reasons. We put them in a bill to circumscribe the discretion of a minister. Ministers come and ministers go. Some are persuaded this way, some are persuaded that way, and with this government there is quite a turnover. In the course of eight or nine years of the government, it has gone through six ministers, one twice, and it has gone through either five or six deputy ministers in the same period of time. It is like two merry-go-rounds going in different directions simultaneously. It hardly creates a level of confidence that there is some direction going through Environment Canada or the deputy minister. It is perfectly natural, because the concept in the government is that everything is run from one place and one place only, so a minister and, for that matter, a deputy minister are substituted from time to time if we want to change the name or face of the organization.
It we put that in the context of this particular bill, in the course of the five, six, and possibly seven ministers we have had, each one would have a different idea of what ecological health might mean. Absent a definition, it goes without saying we cannot live with that. This is why this becomes the hill to die on.
Right now it is the ecological community that is unhappy with the bill. The hon. member for Halifax who spoke earlier listed all of the people who are unhappy with the bill. This time next year it might actually be the farming community that is unhappy with the bill, because this is a blank slate for any minister to do anything. Had we spent some useful time trying to circumscribe the arbitrariness of the bill, we might have come to a point where the entire House could support the bill and it could go forward. For the government's purposes, mysterious as they might be, that is not going to happen.
The other clause that gave some pause for concern was clause 8, the appointment of an advisory committee. It says that the minister “may” appoint an advisory committee. That also means that the minister may not appoint an advisory committee. If we take the arbitrariness of clause 6, which is that all priorities are priorities and therefore that we do not actually have a priority, and add to that the fact that the minister may or may not create an advisory committee, the consequence is that we would have the potential of a minister who may well be very arbitrary. That arbitrariness may go against a variety of any one of the communities that spoke, whether the environmentalist community, the farm community, or whatever. It leaves everyone exposed.
This is a whole series of reasons as to why the bill is derailed, when it could have been kept on the rails with a bit of reason and compromise.
There was also this whole argument about connecting the Oak Ridges Moraine with the bulk of the park in order to protect the animal populations that would go back and forth. This point actually exists in some form, although not very coherently, and would require some result where lands would be acquired. Obviously, lands could also be compensated at the same time. Again, I go back to the way the bill is quite arbitrary. Some minister might well say “Too bad for you, Mr. or Mrs Farmer. You're off your lands.” That, frankly, would be quite regrettable. The connection from the mouth of the Rouge all the way up to the Oak Ridges Moraine was something that would actually protect the ecological position of the park.
In summary, the bill is badly derailed. It could have been saved and still could be saved if the government were open to any amendments. Unfortunately, however, we are going to be in the position of it is their way or the highway. Regrettably, we could have achieved a consensus but did not. I dare say that it is quite typical of the government's attitude toward any opposition, no matter how mild or how reasoned.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I can trust Park Canada; it is the government I cannot trust. That is the issue.
There is no trust when we cannot even get a simple minor amendment to this legislation. The Conservatives have blown it. That is the issue. It was a simple fix, but the government rejected all of the amendments put forward by the opposition and rejected any suggestion, however mild, by the opposition, essentially saying, “It is my way or the highway.”
The member talks about the ecological link. Well, the Conservatives rejected that as well, so we do not have connection between the mouth of the Rouge and Oak Ridges Moraine. We do not have the 58 square kilometres as advertised. We do not even have 30 square kilometres, as the reality now is that it is bits and pieces, here and there. It is going to look like Swiss cheese. It is a bit of a mess.
I would love to trust the government, but we cannot.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is right. This is not rocket science. Where there is a will, there is a way.
These are rather minor changes. Clause 6 could have had something in there about ecological health being the first priority among the other priorities. It could have included a definition of what constitutes ecological health. The member is right to point out that it has been done elsewhere.
We have to come to the conclusion that the government, for whatever reason, thinks being arbitrary has some sort of political advantage. The political advantage, frankly, escapes me. I am assuming it has to do with farm friendliness. We are all farm friendly; we cannot eat without them.
The real question here is this: why would the government pit this set of citizens against that set of citizens, when in fact both sets of citizens have way more in common than they do in differences?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I really would not want to comment. The hon. member for Oak Ridges—Markham has to face his electors, and I will leave him to face them. “Good luck” is all I say.
What is regrettable in the whole exercise was the waste of the work that all of the opposition parties put in to try to make this bill workable so that we could all stand unanimously and support this bill going forward. It would not have been difficult to make that happen.
Ultimately, fiddling with a BlackBerry, ridiculing witnesses, or dismissing amendments out of hand is, frankly, no way to conduct a committee, but for the last number of years, that is not news.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, let me first of all say that in the initial thrust for this bill, there was a lot of support. At an official and, frankly, a political level, there was a great deal of consensus that this bill was going to go forward.
However, when the drafting of the legislation came forward, people actually read it, and it was kind of like a blind agreement. The Queen's Park government had trusted the federal government to meet or exceed the ecological standards that it had in its own memorandum, its own legislation, and its own regulations. Then the bill came forward, and it was, “Here it is. Take it or leave it.” That was the choice that was faced by the Queen's Park government.
I am sure that the officials then bounced it up to the ministerial level. I would not be optimistic that the Minister of the Environment would take a call from the relevant minister at Queen's Park. I am not privy to any of those particular conversations, but when I talked to the folks at Queen's Park, they were pretty disappointed, frankly, that they could not support this legislation. They had expected more, and they got a lot less.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, if we wind back the clock six months, we had broad consensus. The Ontario government was on side, the federal government was on side, all the members from Scarborough and Pickering were on side, and the environment folks were on side. The farmers wanted some stability. They wanted something better than year-after-year leases, et cetera.
How did we get from there to here other than that at the point of consensus, the government drafted a bill that was so shockingly inadequate that the Province of Ontario withdrew its consent, the ecology folks went offside, and thousands of petitioners said, “No way”?
Is that the government's definition of consensus?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to refer back to an intervention by the previous NDP speaker when the Conservative member had talked about how we cannot have it both ways, that either we love the farmers and hate the ecologists or we love the ecologists and hate the farmers. I want to ask the hon. member if she thinks we can have it both ways, whether with some proper drafting, good will, and possibly even some consensus, we could legislate protection for both farmers and ecologists to minimize the differences rather than maximize them.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has given a classic demonstration of why there is no consensus on the bill, even though consensus could easily have been achieved.
When he says, “We will not listen to the opposition, or anyone else for that matter. We will not take any lessons from the opposition, or anyone else for that matter”, he is absolutely right. He is right, and everyone else is wrong.
It does not matter that quotes are out of context. It does not matter that there is a perverse rendition of history. It does not matter that successive Liberal and Conservative governments, both at the provincial and the federal level, have set aside lands and have worked toward the park. It does not matter that a number of NGOs have worked to create this park. Without that work over the last 30 years, we would not even be having this debate because the whole thing would be paved over.
Therefore, I say to those who support the hon. member: With friends like this, they do not need enemies.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Sadly, there are 30,000 Canadian children and youth in foster care awaiting adoption. Canada is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that all children have a right to a safe and permanent living situation. Despite the numbers and despite our international obligations, we have done little as a nation to raise that awareness. We need to do more.
Let us consider that over 60% of runaways in Canada come from the fostering system. Of those who age out, over half of the girls turn to prostitution and the boys to crime. Many of these vulnerable youth are taken or simply seduced by human traffickers or simply go missing. This is personal to me, because my son Ian is an adopted child. Recently he graduated from Cornell, and he is now doing post-doctoral work at the University of Pittsburgh.
This House needs to do everything it can to encourage adoption and to provide resources to ensure that Canada's children, like Ian, have a fair shot at life.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, the United States is going to meet its 2020 Copenhagen targets. The Government of Canada, however, is not going to meet its 2020 Copenhagen targets.
Last week, President Obama set new, more aggressive targets in his deal with the Chinese. If the Government of Canada cannot even meet its 2020 targets, by what means of fanciful thinking does it think that it can meet the new, more aggressive 2025 targets?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, according to DND's annual report, the department missed 60 of its performance targets. That is six, zero. Half of all government procurements are hopelessly behind schedule, and that record is actually worse than the year before. In addition, it hit only 9% of the air force reserve recruitment targets.
No CEO would be allowed to continue her job if they missed 60 performance targets. Are these performance targets, or are they just casual suggestions?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, 60 missed performance targets is gross incompetence, but it is completely inexcusable to not support our troops.
By the government's own numbers, over a third of the Canadian Armed Forces, that is one third, say that they do not believe the government will look after them if they are injured.
Why is the government so indifferent to the needs of those who put their lives on the line for us?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his efforts in putting together the bill. It is quite commendable.
I recollect that a few weeks ago there was a Globe and Mail article supporting the hon. member in this bill. It seems to me it feeds into a lot of other media commentary from pretty well right across the spectrum, left, right, up, down, whatever, that supports the hon. member's proposal. I wonder if he would comment on the media support that he has received for his proposal.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to respond to the member's invitation, but I am not holding my breath for that to happen. It appears that the minister wishes to have it both ways by getting it out of the House quickly and then having a superficial hearing at committee.
I want to pick up on the first point that he raised, which was that the bill is in fact a response to certain judicial issues or court cases. I ask him to expand on that point. I assume there is some sort of problem with protection of witnesses and with CSIS operating abroad. In both these instances, the courts have intervened.
A secondary question is that if the member for Vancouver Quadra's bill had been accepted, or if yours had been, we would not be dealing with this issue, as that balance would have been achieved.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, yesterday at a press conference with President Hollande, the Prime Minister added as a point of information that Canada had reduced its emissions from the oil sands by over 40%. Really? The fact is that emissions will have risen dramatically from 34 megatonnes to 101 megatonnes by 2020.
Was that a point of information or was it a point of misinformation?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the hon. member's theme about all of the things that are hidden in this little gem of a budget.
I presented to the House Bill C-474, a transparency bill for the extractive sector. Lo and behold, the government in its wisdom defeated the bill, and now it has slipped that bill back into this omnibus legislation. I suppose I should be flattered. I could count that as maybe a half win. Nevertheless, the irony is quite resplendent. That bill demanded of the extractive sector accountability and transparency and was put in an omnibus bill of 586 pages, which has no accountability and no transparency.
Would the member care to comment on all of these little “gems” that are hidden in this legislation, which make it difficult for members to vote reasonably?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I too thought the member made a thoughtful speech.
Usually, when a government is looking at a surplus, there is an allocation among debt, tax reductions and program spending. It is usually set out as some sort of percentage for each. We certainly heard lately how the government intended to reduce taxes through its income splitting concept. However, we have not heard anything about whether the government intends to pay any of the $160 billion to $170 billion that it has borrowed over the last six to eight years toward debt reduction.
We certainly have not heard about any program spending. To pick up on the hon. member's comments about lapsing, the military has effectively had its budget cut by $3 billion or $4 billion, much of which has been lapsing year over year over year. It has taken lapsing almost to an art form.
Would the hon. member comment on whether the government is prepared to commit to percentages between debt reduction, tax cuts and program spending?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, two years ago I had the honour of presenting Major Robert Firlotte with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal. Sadly, last month he passed away.
He entered the army as a private and left the army as a major. All of his promotions were battlefield promotions. I asked him how he did it. He said he was very strong and very fast, good attributes when someone is shooting at you.
He was deployed to Europe twice during World War II, with the Carleton and York New Brunswick Regiment and then with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. He then went to Korea with the Queen's Own. In retirement, he served on the Living History Speakers Bureau at Legion 258, spoke at many citizenship ceremonies, and supported the building of the Juneau Beach Centre.
He may have been fast and he may have been strong, but ultimately he served us well and he will be remembered. I extend my condolences to his family and my deepest sympathies to his friends.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Still glued to the talking points, Mr. Speaker. Today and yesterday, the minister said the government's record is clear and we have had decisive action—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
There seems to be some enthusiasm for the question, Mr. Speaker.
The environment commissioner, however, says that federal departments have made unsatisfactory progress in the areas examined. Timelines have not been met. Departments are not able to assess whether the measures in place meet the emissions records expected.
Is this the record the minister is bragging about that is clear and decisive? That would be talking point number four.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, frankly, I share the hesitancy of the hon. member, and I congratulate him on his speech.
I wish we could ramp down the politics of this matter, because not one of us on either side wishes to send the men and women of our military into harm's way, particularly in a situation such as this.
I wonder if the hon. member has given thought to the people who are going to be joining us in the coalition, and not so much the obvious ones, but rather Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Up until now, Iran has been the greatest exporter of state-sponsored terrorism, according to our own Minister of Foreign Affairs. Iran is a sponsor of Hezbollah, yet in this particular fight, it is our ally. That puts everyone in a very awkward position. I would be interested in the member's thoughts on that.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, this morning the environment commissioner stated that “the federal regulatory approach was unlikely...to meet the 2020 Copenhagen target”. We also learned that the Minister of the Environment has not met with the oil and gas industry since March 2013.
Strangely enough, the department agrees with the commissioner's findings. Does the minister agree with her department and the commissioner that Canada will miss our 2020 targets because there has been no meeting with that industry since March 2013?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, there are not that many times in the life of a parliamentarian when we get to speak on the issue of sending men and women in uniform into harm's way. I am appreciative of the privilege.
I regret that more colleagues are actually not able to stand in their places to talk about the significance of this moment. However, it is what it is, and the government has chosen to limit the amount of commentary on this matter.
The rush to war is frequently done in terms of these being the good guys and those being the bad guys. The problem with this entire conflict is that the good guys and the bad guys are a bit of a mix.
I thought we should do a canvass of the countries that are in the immediate area. For instance, one of the allies, the so-called good guys, is Saudi Arabia. Now, Saudi Arabia is the spiritual home of Wahhabism and Salafism. That is the touchstone, the spiritual home, of ISIS.
Within Saudi society, there is a great deal of conflict. Some argue that wealthy Saudis are those who sponsor ISIS. That puts the House of Saud, the government of Saudi Arabia, in a very difficult situation.
I join with our ambassador for religious freedom, who called upon Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and a variety of other countries in and around that Middle East area to deal with this particularly pernicious form of Islam.
These kinds of internal conflicts within our allies undermine the effectiveness of our presence. I would say that we are responding to a moral imperative. In that respect, all members of this House are on the same page. Having said that, our interventions in this part of the world have not gone well in recent history, and even in history further back.
Saudi Arabia is a society that does not tolerate forms of religious expression other than a very strict form of Sunni Islam. Indeed, it is known that there are beheadings if, in fact, this kind of rebellion against this kind of Salafism or Wahhabism takes place in Saudi Arabia. This makes it very difficult for us, as a western society, or even as a country motivated for the best reasons to intervene, because there is this spiritual support for the founders of ISIS.
If we go around the horn a bit, there is Iran. Iran has been the chief beneficiary of the Bush Iraq war. Baghdad is a satellite office of Tehran. That is, arguably, some of the source for ISIS: the grievance of Sunni Muslims against Shia Muslims.
Up until recently, much to the chagrin of the U.S. and other western powers, the manipulation of Baghdad by Tehran has in some respects created the difficulty ISIS is responding to. That, in and of itself, makes it very difficult.
Until recently, it was the view of the current government that Iran was the chief sponsor of state terrorism. It was considered to be the number one state terrorist threat in the world. Now Iran is apparently going to be our ally in fighting the ISIS threat.
As members know, Iran has been the supporter of Hezbollah, and Hezbollah has been the chief Shiite terrorist entity, threatening Israel on the one side and Lebanon on the other. It has joined in with President al-Assad in the Syrian conflict, which has created literally hundreds of thousands of refugees and literally hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Until recently, the papers were full of what President Assad had done to his own people, including gassing them, so it becomes a little complicated, since the chief sponsor of Hezbollah, and therefore the supporter of President Assad, is now our ally in the support of this conflict with ISIS.
Then we can just move over beside Iran to Turkey. Turkey has been in a 30-year fight with the PKK, which is a supporter of the Peshmerga. The Peshmerga are the chief fighters on the ground resisting ISIS, so Turkey is in a difficult position, shall we say, because it has had this conflict over quite a number of years and it regards the PKK as a terrorist entity.
Mr. Jamie Nicholls: As does Canada.
Hon. John McKay: Mr. Speaker, a colleague has said, “As does Canada”. I am not quite sure he is right. Nevertheless, we recognize a number of the militias in the area as terrorist entities. Sometimes they are on our side, as in this particular fight; most of the time, or up until recently, they have been on the other side.
We are entering into an area where, on any given day, it is hard to tell good guys from bad guys. I do not know how Turkey's parliament arrived at its decision as a NATO partner to enter into supporting the ISIS mission, but Turkey has a lot of internal conflicts, a lot of which will work out in Kurdistan, which is really the centre of this particular conflict.
Therefore, the Peshmerga will have to keep one eye on ISIS and the other eye on the Turkish forces. Simultaneously, the Peshmerga will have to keep an eye on ISIS and another eye on the Iranian National Guard, which is fighting in parallel against the ISIS threat, all of which makes it very difficult to pick out moral high ground.
Let me give an example of where we are. We supported the Libyan conflict, for instance, and I think we actually did the right thing. However, we will be bombing the people that we were supporting in the Libyan conflict, so it becomes somewhat difficult to pick out the good guys from the bad guys.
As I said earlier, we actually have had no record of success. Ultimately there are those, including the religious ambassador, who think this is ultimately a dispute between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam, and in that conflict, I doubt that we will have much to contribute.
I join with the Liberal Party in its hesitation and I recognize that we are entering into a conflict in which we have had no history of success.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the Taliban was initially created by the CIA. The CIA created the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to push the Russians out of the country. That in turn led to al Qaeda. Al Qaeda then perpetrated its misery on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the rest of us for the last decade or so.
Once that conflict was over, it went to Syria. In Syria, it then got into a dispute with the ISIS folks. The ISIS folks do not actually think that al Qaeda is a serious enough terrorist Islamic organization.
The irony is that we have put our foot in it and have created difficulties way beyond our imagining. Therefore, we should be very hesitant to get involved in this conflict.
I buy the argument that we have to give support to those who are being persecuted, the Kurds, the Yazidis, the Christians, et cetera. I am on side for that. However, the government should not be so naive as to make the same idiotic mistakes all over again.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question because I think it is an approach.
I buy the argument that this is a very serious conflict. I buy the argument that there is butchery going on. I buy the argument that one could even argue that it is a genocide. When the Prime Minister came to the member's party and mine and invited us over to see what was happening, we could support that limited engagement. He has made no such effort since then.
Here we are, an hour from the vote, yet has the Prime Minister offered to disclose to the member's leader or mine information that he cannot disclose in a public setting?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, as members know, I have played a number of roles in Parliament over the years. One of my favourites, frankly, was as defence critic for the Liberal Party. I became a huge fan of our military folks. We in the Liberal Party support these folks to the hilt.
Once this vote is taken, we will know what will be asked of them, and what will be asked will be very serious.
We do take objection to the mandate of their mission. We think that we need to tread very lightly. Only fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and in this particular instance, history, complications, and as Jeffrey Simpson said in The Globe and Mail, the whole cauldron of conflicting issues should make us all very cautious indeed.
Results: 1 - 100 of 464 | Page: 1 of 5

1
2
3
4
5
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data