June 18, 2019

LIB

Anthony Rota

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota)

Order. It seems we can no longer hear the interpreters.

The problem seems to be fixed.

The hon. member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Alexandra Mendes

Liberal

Mrs. Alexandra Mendès

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.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
?

An hon. member

That's why you are not saying it in English.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Alexandra Mendes

Liberal

Mrs. Alexandra Mendès

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.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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?

An hon. member

That is perfect. Thank you.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Alexandra Mendes

Liberal

Mrs. Alexandra Mendès

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this is what we need to do. We need to choose—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
LIB

Anthony Rota

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota)

I just want to remind the hon. members that shouting or even talking across the aisle is not conducive to debate. I encourage them to put their comments through the Speaker. Also, while the Speaker is speaking, I would appreciate it if members did not talk to him.

The hon. member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Alexandra Mendes

Liberal

Mrs. Alexandra Mendès

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 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.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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CPC

Colin Carrie

Conservative

Mr. Colin Carrie (Oshawa, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I think it is unanimous in the House that we all care about climate change. The challenge is the way that the current government is implementing things. It is causing challenges that no one foresaw. For example, the hospital in my community is Lakeridge in Oshawa. The estimate for the carbon tax, because there will be an increase in costs to heat its facilities, is going to be $278,000 in 2019-2020. By 2022-23, it is going to be $700,000. Hospitals that are on a strict budget are going to see increased costs. It is the same with our schools. Educational facilities, municipal governments with municipal buildings, sports facilities and bus and transportation systems are going to be seeing increased costs, and there are no details on how that is going to be compensated for through the carbon tax program that the Liberals have instituted.

What does the member say to hospitals that are going to be faced with these unexpected increased budgetary costs in regard to the carbon tax?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Alexandra Mendes

Liberal

Mrs. Alexandra Mendès

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.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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NDP

Jenny Kwan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I know the Liberal government likes to see itself as a climate leader. However, we should all acknowledge the fact that climate leaders do not continue to subsidize big oil.

When will the government fully eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Alexandra Mendes

Liberal

Mrs. Alexandra Mendès

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?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
LIB

Anthony Rota

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota)

Can the hon. member for Vancouver East repeat the last part of the question?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
NDP

Jenny Kwan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Jenny Kwan

Mr. Speaker, I would be very happy to. I know the member was busy talking to the government House leader.

My question to the member is this. When will the Liberal government fully eliminate fossil fuel subsidies?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
LIB

Alexandra Mendes

Liberal

Mrs. Alexandra Mendès

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.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
LIB

Bardish Chagger

Liberal

Hon. Bardish Chagger (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I was speaking with the hon. member because I was commending her on her excellent speech and the work she has done. An area I feel she has not been able to share is about the programs we have when it comes to transitioning to a cleaner, greener economy. I am wondering if she could expand on some of the additional programs that will be available? We have quite an impressive comprehensive plan that we have put forward, because it is so important that the economy and the environment go together and that we ensure that future generations have a cleaner, greener economy they can count on.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
LIB

Alexandra Mendes

Liberal

Mrs. Alexandra Mendès

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.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Raj Saini

Liberal

Mr. Raj Saini (Kitchener Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pride to rise and speak to this motion, and I thank my hon. colleagues for their comments. I look forward to seeing the Conservative Party's environmental platform tomorrow, as I hope it will show that they have finally become serious about climate change. Given that members of that caucus still share the musings of climate change deniers on social media and howl for us to give up fighting for a better future because it is difficult, I will admit I am skeptical.

Conservatives have consistently ignored the science and the economics behind climate change, and I have seen nothing to indicate that they have changed their thinking. In 2006, the first year of the previous government's mandate, a report on the economics of climate change commissioned by the British government was released. It was led by the former chief economist of the World Bank, Nicholas Stern.

The Stern review concluded that inaction on climate change “could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.”

Stern stressed that governments needed to take action then, saying that the next 10 to 20 years would be critical in laying the foundations for combatting climate change. He also concluded that tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy for the long term. The U.K. listened and cut its emissions. Europe listened and cut its emissions. Both regions became leaders in combatting climate change.

What did the members opposite do? Did they retrofit our buildings and infrastructure? No. Did they commit to diversifying our economy to reduce our reliance on finite and environmentally unsustainable resources? No. Did they work with heavy industry to meaningfully reduce its emissions? No. Did they invest in new infrastructure, grow the green tech industry or expand protections for natural areas? No. Did they discuss climate change abroad? No. The members opposite ignored the data, ignored the science and stuck to a business-as-usual approach. They ignored the science and economics.

They ignored the economic growth and energy security that come from investing in green energy and technology. They ignored the massive costs that climate change would have, from disrupting trade and transportation to mass displacements and a global refugee crisis.

From 1983 to 2008, Canadian insurance companies paid out an average of $400 million per year for climate-related claims. The floods and fires this year alone will cost $1.8 billion. According to the Stern review, damages are projected to force 20% of global annual GDP to be spent on repairing, strengthening and replacing infrastructure. Notably, severe weather events like the floods, fires, and heat waves we have experienced in the past few years are only among the earliest symptoms; it will get worse.

Many of my colleagues opposite are quick to criticize any government investment made to make Canadians' lives better, insisting that it is an “unacceptable” debt to leave to our children. Neglecting our responsibility to take action on climate change is the unacceptable debt we leave to our children.

I have received many letters from men and women, parents and grandparents, adults and children. The text may vary, but the message is the same: to recognize the situation we are in, look at the extreme weather events we are experiencing and see the link between the two, study the science behind greenhouse gas emissions that cause our climate to change, and listen to our first nations, which have been saying for centuries that our planet's resources are not there to be recklessly exploited but must be used responsibly and sustainably. They implored me to act now, before it was too late, and I am proud of the fact that our government is doing just that.

Our government has committed to phasing out coal by 2030. We have invested over $2.3 billion to support clean technology. We have helped schools, hospitals, businesses and homes become more energy-efficient, and we are providing enhanced disaster mitigation and adaptation funding to help the victims of these natural disasters.

When we discuss these topics, many like to point to House Resolution 109, the recognition of a need for a green new deal proposed in the United States House of Representatives this February. It calls for building resiliency against climate change and reducing the risks posed by climate impacts. It insists upon the necessity of upgrading infrastructure, transportation and buildings to lower carbon emissions.

It calls for growing the green economy and putting in place a transition process that leaves no one behind, including those working in the fossil fuel sector; restoring natural ecosystems by protecting agricultural and rural lands; and supporting the clean tech industry here, and exporting our expertise abroad.

It is a pleasure for me to point out that many of the components of the green new deal have already been put in place by our government. We are continuing to invest in developing transition centres for workers in carbon-intensive industries, and we are working to diversify our economy across the country by creating good green jobs. This also means helping carbon-intensive industries like the oil and gas sector become more efficient and substantially reduce their emissions.

Our 10-year infrastructure plan is an unprecedented investment in public transit and green infrastructure, to which we have committed over $21 billion so far. We are making electric vehicles more affordable and more accessible, and we are committed to ensuring that all new vehicles are zero-emission by 2040.

We are going to get the rest of the way there, and we are committed to taking even stronger action to reduce pollution and invest in a cleaner future.

Pointedly, I have had the honour of being a seconder to the bill by my colleague from Beaches—East York, which would commit Canada to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. I believe that, as a nation, we can do it, while joining other nations, like Norway, New Zealand and the U.K., which are already taking this path. I also know that we need to do it.

Change cannot happen overnight. There is more to do, but we must do it responsibly and we must keep at it. We will not give up. Recognizing a national climate emergency affirms how seriously we are taking these issues.

One of the most important steps we are taking to lower our emissions in a responsible manner is the price on pollution. The PBO recognizes that the price on pollution not only puts more money in the pockets of Canadians, but it is the least expensive and most effective way to substantially lower our emissions.

We are not deaf to the very real concerns from Canadians regarding their future without action on climate. In Kitchener Centre, I watched with pride as young Canadians stood up to implore us to take action on these issues to ensure our collective future. Climate change affects every single Canadian: rich or poor, man or woman, adult or child. It affects us all. This is why we will not give up. Business as usual is not an option. The longer we wait, the steeper the cost will be.

I will continue to support policies to implement the changes that need to happen. We must protect our environment and end our reliance on fossil fuels so that we can grow the green economy of the future. We are stepping up now to ensure that it is not too late and that Canada can once again be a leader on this issue.

I encourage all my colleagues to have foresight on this issue and not just think until the next year or the next election. We must treat this issue not as a partisan issue to be won or lost, but as a human issue that we must work together to solve. We have to look beyond that.

The 26th president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, recognized that we need to think about our planet in the long term. After viewing the natural beauty of Yellowstone National Park, he said, “We are not building this country of ours for a day. It is to last through the ages.”

Let us strive to ensure that our country and our planet not only last but thrive through the ages.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
CPC

Robert Gordon Kitchen

Conservative

Mr. Robert Kitchen (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about helping the oil and gas industry reduce its emissions. Putting a carbon tax on small businesses is not going to help those people, but there is something that is. The member is probably well aware that in the Paris accord, three of the four recommendations on progressing were about using carbon capture and sequestration, which were talked about and signed off on. This innovation already exists in Canada. Not only does it exist in Canada, but it takes the emissions captured and puts them underground, which helps the enhanced oil recovery.

In fact, just the other week, Mr. Michal Kurtyka, from the Ministry of the Environment for Poland, stated, “Carbon capture and sequestration will be important to make an advance to carbon neutrality”. Mr. Pawel Leszczynski, the COP24 presidency bureau chief, was also there.

My question is very simple. Why are you not championing this?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
LIB

Anthony Rota

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota)

I want to remind the hon. members to place their questions through the Chair.

The hon. member for Kitchener Centre.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink

June 18, 2019