Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, most of my speech will be in English, but I want to start by talking about the price on pollution.
I agree with my hon. colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith that this is not the one and only solution. There are many others.
As for the use of our vehicles—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we will obviously need to use cars, planes and other modes of transportation that run on fuel, which we want to phase out over the coming years. This transition will take time. However, we must make choices.
My colleague complained that gas in British Columbia is very expensive. This is true. I noticed the price when I was there recently. People need to choose cars that consume less fuel. These types of cars exist. That is one way to reduce our dependence on gas.
An hon. member: That's why you are not saying it in English.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, why should I not say it in English? I can say it English. We should choose cars that consume less. It is doable. They exist. I did not invent them. They are there.
An hon. member: That is perfect. Thank you.
Mrs. Alexandra Mendès: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this is what we need to do. We need to choose—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, Canada and the world are facing a real climate emergency. This was made very clear with the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's special report on global warming.
Climate-related risks to our health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, safety and security and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5° and increase further if we surpass 1.5° Celsius.
Here at home, Canadians are already feeling the impacts of climate change. Communities in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick have once again suffered record-breaking flooding in the spring. Thousands of residents in northern Alberta were evacuated because of out-of-control wildfires. Last summer, in the province of Quebec, the deaths of more than 90 people were linked to the heat wave.
Extreme events are becoming more frequent, more devastating for Canadians and more expensive in terms of both disaster response and recovery.
My children and grandchildren have now lived through two severe floods and two tornadoes in the Ottawa region in the past four years. We now have to constantly worry about ticks that carry Lyme disease. These impacts have now become their normal, and it is not right.
The Government of Canada recognizes that the impacts of climate change will only continue to be more devastating if no action is taken.
We also recognize that Canada is one of the highest per capita emitters in the world and consistently ranks in the top 10 of the world's highest absolute GHG emitters. How could we expect other countries to reduce their emissions if we do not do the same?
In 2015, this government was involved in the negotiation of the Paris agreement with a delegation that included representatives from the three political parties as well as indigenous leaders. We all came together with the rest of the world, and for the first time ever, every country's representative said that they were going to act on climate change.
Canada pushed countries to limit temperature increases to 1.5°, because this is the only way to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts, such as increases in average temperature, heavy precipitation and severe droughts devastating local ecosystems and the Canadian way of life.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Kitchener Centre.
In 2016, we came together again to develop a national climate plan with concrete measures to reduce emissions, build resilience and grow the economy. Our plan includes more than 50 concrete measures, regulations, standards, programs and investments to achieve our goal, and pricing carbon pollution is an important and effective part of that.
Our plan includes putting a price on carbon pollution, because it is the most effective way to reduce emissions. It sends an important signal to the markets and provides an incentive for businesses to reduce energy use through conservation and efficiency measures. Hence, my mention of cars that consume less. We know it works.
Last year, the three provinces that already put in place their own carbon pollution pricing, British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta, were also among the top performers in GDP growth across Canada.
This climate action is so effective that more than 74 jurisdictions around the world, representing about half of the world economy, have adopted it as part of their plans to reach the Paris agreement targets. Doctors, industry leaders and Nobel Prize-winning experts have all agreed that putting a price on pollution is effective and have demanded that governments take this action.
Pollution should not be free anywhere across this country. Based on analysis conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada, putting a price on carbon pollution would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 million to 60 million tonnes in 2022. This is equivalent to shutting down about 30 to 35 coal-fired electricity-generating units for a year.
It is also important to note that all direct proceeds from the federal carbon pollution pricing system will be returned to the jurisdictions in which they were collected. Households receive a climate action incentive, which gives most families more than what they pay and creates incentives for cleaner choices. Funds will also be given to the province's schools, hospitals, businesses and indigenous communities to, for example, help them become more energy efficient and reduce emissions, helping Canadians save even more money and improve our local economies.
Again, putting a price on pollution is not the only action this government is taking to address climate change. As part of our climate plan, we are also regulating the oil and gas sector to reduce methane emissions by 40% to 45% by 2025, which will encourage companies to find cleaner, more efficient ways to run their operations.
We are phasing out the use of coal-fired electricity by 2030, as part of Canada's efforts to have 90% of electricity from non-emitting sources by 2030, while working with the affected families, communities and businesses to help them with the transition to a cleaner economy.
We are making a historic investment of $3 billion to spur innovation and bring clean technologies to market, such as funding to support technology to scrub carbon dioxide directly from the air, as well as $75 million to tackle challenges in clean technology.
We are developing net-zero energy ready building codes to be adopted by 2030 for new buildings, developing a model code to guide efficiency improvements for retrofitting existing buildings and establishing mandatory labelling to provide businesses and consumers with information on energy performance.
As we work to fight climate change, we know that Canadians are feeling the impacts of a changing climate. That is why we are taking action to help our communities adapt and prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.
I have only a few seconds left, so I will be happy to take questions.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the first observation I would make is that increased pollution will cause more people to use the hospitals, so the costs will go up anyway. However, there are many programs that the government is putting in place to help institutions transition into a cleaner economy and make that transition by changing the way they heat the hospitals, or by changing the way energy is used in hospitals, schools or businesses. That is part of the plan. It is not just a price on pollution; it is also all the other measures we are putting in place to help businesses transition into a greener economy.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am really sorry but I missed the last part of the question. I wish I could answer her, but I just did not hear the question. Could she ask it again?
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is part of the plan. It is definitely part of the transition we have been talking about. I do not have a date, but I absolutely can tell members it is part of the plan. It will eventually be something that we hope we will end in Canada.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, yes, I would like to expand on the many and various ways the government is preparing Canadians to transition from the current dependence on fossil fuels.
Beyond what I just mentioned is the supporting of alternatives. To go to my colleague's question about the hospital, there are alternatives to traditional ways of heating and powering homes and buildings, such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal technologies, as well as innovative ways to connect and transmit these sources of energy to help businesses save money on their energy needs.
There is the setting of new standards to improve energy efficiency of appliances and equipment, like clothes washers, refrigerators and dishwashers, to encourage innovation and save Canadians money. We are providing $1.1 billion in funding for energy efficiency in residential, commercial and multi-unit buildings, including support to improve efficiency in affordable housing developments.
These are part of the many measures, and there are more, that the government is putting in place to facilitate the transition to a better and greener economy.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, today, the residents of Brossard—Saint-Lambert and I were delighted to learn that the new Samuel De Champlain Bridge will be opening soon. Our government was clear in 2015. We wanted to make it easier for families to commute so that they could spend more time together rather than stuck in traffic.
Could my hon. colleague, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, give us some highlights and updates on the opening of the new Samuel De Champlain Bridge?
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the Société chorale de Saint-Lambert.
The SCSL is one of our finest cultural and heritage institutions. It is the oldest active amateur choir in Quebec and one of the oldest in Canada.
The Société chorale de Saint-Lambert was officially incorporated in 1919.
Its history is closely linked to the development of the municipality of Saint-Lambert, which was created in 1857 with the construction of the railway. At the time, concerts accompanied all major ceremonies.
David Christiani became the SCSL's director in September 1978 and continued to serve in that capacity until 2014. He created the eclectic repertoire the choir has become known for, drawing on baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary works, spirituals, folk songs and Christmas music.
However, it is more than just an admired and exceptionally talented musical ensemble. The Société chorale de Saint-Lambert has contributed in many and varied ways to the social fabric of the city of Saint-Lambert.
I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to the SCSL on this major milestone.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Mississauga—Erin Mills.
Now more than ever, communities need support to adapt to the extreme weather events associated with climate change. The science is clear and troubling. A recent scientific study published by Environment and Climate Change Canada noted that our country's climate is warming twice as fast as the global average. This alarming development poses serious threats to the well-being of all Canadians.
Flooding, forest fires and storms are becoming more frequent and more intense. Across the country, we are seeing the devastating consequences of climate-related disasters for Canadians. Over the past few weeks, communities in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick have been hard hit by historic floods.
We have seen communities in British Columbia devastated by wildfires. We are no longer just talking about preventing climate change; we need to adapt to this stark reality urgently.
These disasters respect no borders. They threaten the health and safety of all Canadians. They traumatize families and damage entire communities when they lose their essential services and see their economies disrupted.
It costs a lot of money and takes time to repair damaged infrastructure. That is why our government is taking measures under the investing in Canada plan by earmarking $180 billion for public infrastructure renewal across the country.
First, we are investing in resilient infrastructure that helps communities withstand damage from extreme weather events. The goal is to limit the costs of repairing damaged infrastructure and help communities recover faster. Through the $2-billion disaster adaptation and mitigation fund, our government is supporting large-scale infrastructure projects that improve the resilience of communities in responding to natural disasters.
That funding is also used for wetland restoration, fire breaks, dikes and booms that can help communities affected by climate disasters recover more quickly.
To date, 26 projects have been announced under the fund. These projects include upgrades to 60 kilometres of dikes and flood water control structures along the western shores of Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy. The investment will reduce flooding risk and the damage it can cause for tens of thousands of residents.
Another project is a stormwater management system in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. This investment will protect the drinking water supply of the 20,000 residents living in two Dene communities.
Another project provides upgrades to the dikes and pumping stations in the coastal city of Richmond, B.C., to help protect its residents against the impacts of severe storms and rising sea levels.
Another is a new shoreline protection project in Hamilton, Ontario, to improve resilience and reduce the flooding risks along the shores of Lake Ontario.
Yet another is the construction of dry ponds in Edmonton. This investment will reduce stormwater overflows on city streets during rainfall, which means the number of Edmonton residents who go without essential services during floods will be reduced.
Our government has also introduced a new assessment, called the “climate lens”. This assessment applies to select funding programs under the investing in Canada plan.
It encourages recipients to design infrastructure that will reduce carbon pollution and withstand extreme weather events related to climate change.
The climate lens is consistent with the objectives of the pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change.
This framework seeks to meet our emissions reduction targets, transition to a low-carbon economy and build resilience to a changing climate.
Our government, in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, supports cities and towns across the country as they develop the skills, capacity and solutions to respond to climate change. For example, the $75-million municipalities for climate innovation program provides training and resources to help Canadian municipalities adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce greenhouse emissions.
In addition, the green municipal fund supports initiatives that advance innovative solutions to environmental challenges. These projects improve air, water and land quality; reduce greenhouse emissions; and generate economic and social benefits for local communities.
Under the investing in Canada plan, our government also invested $27 billion in green infrastructure, which is contributing to making communities healthier and more resilient to climate change.
For example, investments in natural infrastructure, such as healthy watersheds, reduce the risk of flooding during heavy rains. The residents of Cornwall, Prince Edward Island, are benefiting from a cleaner, healthier community following federally funded upgrades to its wastewater system. These improvements mean that raw sewage is no longer discharged into local waterways. In addition, the construction of a new backup power supply for the lift station means wastewater will continue to be treated even during power outages.
To date, nearly 2,900 projects have been approved to support more natural infrastructure and improved water treatment systems in communities across the country. It is because of these investments that more than 80 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted on public systems on first nations reserves.
That is how investing in green infrastructure improves the quality of life of Canadians and leads to healthier infrastructure that is more resilient to climate change.
While extreme weather events associated with climate change are on the rise, we have seen how Canadians come together in a crisis. Their courage, tenacity, and generosity have helped entire communities to carry on.
When it counts the most, Canadians pitch in and help each other in any way we can, with food, water, sandbags, shelter, and anything else our neighbours need to stay safe and rebuild their lives. However, we can no longer stand by and wait to react only when disaster is upon us. We need to do more to strengthen our communities against the rising threat of climate-related disasters. Our government is responding by investing in public infrastructure that protects Canadians before disaster strikes.
All Canadians deserve resilient infrastructure to help them adapt to the frequent and growing effects of climate change. That is why I find it troubling that the amendment proposed by the official opposition eliminates any mention of the climate emergency we are all facing. What is more, it makes no mention of the Paris Agreement, which leads me to believe that, just as it was when Mr. Harper was prime minister, their so-called plan is to withdraw Canada from the Paris Agreement.
If there is one thing our country cannot afford, it is another government that denies the urgency for action.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is rather ironic to have to respond because, in the end, our intentions are the same. All of us in the NDP and the Liberal Party want to fight climate change.
With respect to emissions, there was a slight increase in 2016-17 when the oil industry in Fort McMurray resumed production after the wildfire. However, we have implemented a set of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It takes more than a year or two for the results of these measures to materialize.
We are constantly making investments in public transit and green infrastructure. We are helping several industries to change and transition to the green economy. Our budget includes tax credits for Canadians who invest in electric cars and many other investments and measures, as my colleague from Louis-Hébert mentioned earlier.
It is difficult to assess all the elements of our plan and determine if we will reach our targets. We certainly hope to reach our 2030 targets, but we have chosen to focus on action rather than discussing theoretical targets.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I totally agree with my colleague.
The price on pollution is perhaps the most obvious and visible measure we have put in place. As I said in my speech, pollution has no borders. The impacts of climate change have no borders. Climate change affects us all, throughout the world. Just yesterday, I met a delegation from Mozambique, which is just beginning to come out of the very painful side effects of the cyclone strike.
Absolutely, the price on pollution is the first and most important step to help us all fight against the effects of climate change, being fair to every Canadian and enabling all of us to contribute to this struggle.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, today the modern Commonwealth of nations is celebrating 70 years since it was given a renewed purpose in 1949. The Commonwealth is a free association of sovereign states that have maintained ties of friendship and practical co-operation and that acknowledge Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as the Commonwealth's symbolic head.
We can all unite in celebrating this milestone, an occasion to recognize the aspirational and inspirational objectives of this family of nations. I firmly believe in this organization's raison d'être, namely, to promote democracy, human rights, international peace and security, and the rule of law and good governance. Among many other accomplishments, the Commonwealth made history with its decisive action to end white minority rule in South Africa. It provides useful tools for effective democracy, such as election observation and peace-building initiatives.
The 70th anniversary will be celebrated across the continents for the next year through conferences, literature, ceremonies or other events. Once again, I wish a happy anniversary to the Commonwealth of nations.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, Cyclone Idai devastated Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It destroyed homes and families, affecting more than 1.8 million people. Canada has not ignored the tragic plight of the thousands of people who fled their towns and villages. Our thoughts are with all those who are picking up the pieces after Cyclone Idai.
Could the Prime Minister tell the House about the support Canada has offered the people and communities affected by Cyclone Idai?
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