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Question to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change

Climate Plan

Hon. Serge Joyal: Minister, the conclusion of the report entitled Canada’s Changing Climate, published yesterday by your department, is that the anticipated disaster is so significant that the current measures proposed by the government — including carbon pricing and shifting to a green economy — as commendable as they might be, won’t be enough to offset ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane emissions from the melting permafrost in the Far North. It seems to me that what the government has proposed so far — and which, in my opinion, deserves the support of Canadians, the provinces, and stakeholders — falls somewhat short of the kind leadership that the new generation, that young people, expect from the government to assure them that their future isn’t at risk.

[English]

It seems to me that you have to be much more audacieux, much more inventive and much more creative because all of the indicators show that even the objectives that have been given by the government at the COP21 in Paris will be well below what, in fact, we should be aiming for.

In other words, you should not be fighting to defend what you propose. You should be fighting to propose what we needed that will go beyond the mere results that we will get with the carbon tax and all those other measures you have been repeating.

What will you say on the campaign trail to Canada’s youth to convince them that they can trust you?

[Translation]

Hon. Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change: Thank you, senator. I appreciate your support for our government’s ambitious climate action plan. It certainly is ambitious. We have the most ambitious plan of any federal government. Is it enough? No. We’ve taken more than 50 measures, making Canada a world leader. We’re eliminating 40 per cent of methane emissions in the oil sector, something that no other country is doing. We’re investing in renewable energy and putting a price on pollution. We’re eliminating coal-fired electricity and making historic investments in public transit and in renewable energy. We certainly need to do more. I’d very much like to see Conservative parties across the country support our actions. It’s difficult right now because they are saying things that are untrue and people are worried that life will become less affordable. That’s why we have an affordable plan.

[English]

But I agree with you. We have to be more ambitious. That’s why I have a sustainable finance task force. How do we transform the billions to trillions that we need? That’s led by Tiff Macklem.

We just announced another climate change advisory committee led by two well-known environmental leaders in Steven Guilbeault of Quebec, and Tamara Vrooman, who is the CEO of Vancity. We have asked them to talk to us about how we can unleash more financing, in particular when it comes to the transportation sector, our built environment, our buildings and houses, because those are huge sources of emissions.

Internationally, we created the Powering Past Coal Alliance. It’s not just about what we do in Canada. We desperately need countries to get off coal. Coal is absolutely the most polluting substance we can be using and we need to be figuring it out. That’s why we’re supporting countries and businesses that are getting off coal. We’re making investments in developing countries so that in some cases they can leapfrog coal.

Absolutely, we need to do more. First of all, we need to implement parts of our plan and then continue, every single day, to strive to be more ambitious. As I say, it would be a lot easier if climate action was a bipartisan or multi-partisan issue so that we could have people understand that the transition to the future will include everyone, that we will be able to do it while creating jobs and that life will be affordable.

We are going to continue working on it through this mandate and we hope to get elected and implement it through another mandate.

But let’s be clear that there is a Conservative Party that believes that we should do less rather than more and that it should be free to pollute across the country. That will increase our emissions dramatically. It is not the kind of leadership we need. It also puts fear in people who otherwise would support measures that make sense and work.