Hon. Rona Ambrose (Edmonton-Spruce Grove, Minister of the Environment, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
I am very proud to rise in the House today to speak on such an important issue as the Canadian environment. I am proud to be a member of a government that is facing our challenges on the environment head on and finding solutions that deliver tangible results and put Canadians first.
Earlier today the Government of Canada submitted two sets of documents to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The first set is Canada's 2004 greenhouse gas inventory. The second set includes two submissions that are part of Canada's new input into the global dialogue on future international cooperation on climate change.
What does our 2004 greenhouse gas inventory say? It says that Canadian emissions were up by almost 35% above the Kyoto target negotiated by the Liberals. The numbers speak for themselves. We have inherited a situation that makes the Kyoto targets the Liberals' negotiated unachievable. Why is it unachievable? Let me spell it out.
In 2004 our emissions were 195 megatonnes above the Liberal Kyoto target. How much is 195 megatonnes? It is the equivalent of more than all our transportation emissions, the emissions from every car, truck, plane and train in Canada. We would have to pull every truck and car off the street, shut down every train and ground every plane to reach the Kyoto target that the Liberals negotiated for Canada.
Or we could shut down all the lights in Canada tomorrow, but that still would not be enough. To reach our Kyoto targets the Liberals negotiated we would have to shut off all the lights and shut down the entire agriculture industry tomorrow.
Or, instead, we could shut down every individual Canadian household, not once, not twice, not three times but four times over in order to meet the Kyoto target that Liberals negotiated for Canada.
Or we could do what the Liberals thought was the answer faced with the realization that the targets they negotiated meant shutting down Canada's economy. We could spend billions of dollars overseas buying international credits. The Liberals had set aside up to $600 per Canadian household to be sent overseas in order to help reach the Kyoto target that they negotiated for Canada.
Let us be clear. Many Canadians predicted at the time that the targets the Liberals negotiated were unrealistic and voiced concerns that a proper implementation plan had not been reached. However, politics got ahead of good policy and the Liberals negotiated a target without a plan to meet it.
So we cannot meet the targets that the Liberals negotiated, but that does not mean that we give up the fight. We are committed to real progress on cleaning up Canada's environment and on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, to face the challenge before us in an open and transparent way and develop realistic and reachable goals to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases.
We are turning a new leaf on the environment with a commitment to Canadians that all the money for the environment will be spent on the Canadian environment. We will not send taxpayers' money overseas to buy credits. These are billions of dollars that could be invested in Canada to help reduce pollution right here at home, to build greener infrastructure, develop new technologies and make Canada more efficient and economically competitive.
The principle that guides us is that in our initiatives Canadians will always come first. To that effect, our government is focused on “made in Canada” solutions that are inclusive and results oriented. We will respect the particular needs and circumstances of each of our country's provinces and territories but always insist that our initiatives have direct benefits to Canadians and the Canadian environment. We want to see tangible benefits where it matters most to us, which is in Canadian communities.
Our first focus is on domestic action to ensure that Canadians can enjoy clean air, clean water, clean land, clean and secure energy and healthy communities. We have already begun with an investment in made in Canada solutions that deliver real environmental and health benefits to Canadians by investing in new, greener, cleaner transportation and incentives to get Canadians out of their cars and into public transit. This is important because transportation is one of the highest contributors to pollution and greenhouse gases. In fact, in Quebec transportation is the highest cause of greenhouse gases.
Very shortly we will be sitting down with the provinces and territories to launch our way forward to a national renewable fuel strategy which will see real, tangible benefits to the environment and economic benefits to the agriculture sector. We are launching a long overdue review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Canada's most important piece of environmental legislation. The Liberals put off the review but we committed in our Speech from the Throne that it receive the comprehensive review it deserves for the sake of the Canadian environment. We have begun a review of the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement which has not had a serious review since 1987.
Soon the health minister and I will lay out a vision and direction on the important need to deal with transboundary air pollution and work with the health authorities across Canada and the provinces to develop the Canadian clean air act. Today Canada falls behind the U.S.A. in every industry sector on pollution control. We do not want just to catch up, we do not want just to compete. We want to lead in this area.
The health impacts of pollution are well known. They are deadly and the cost to our health care system is in the billions of dollars. Last year Ontario had 53 smog advisory days and Quebec had 34. For the first time ever in Canadian history we saw 10 winter smog advisory days. On those days Canadian children with asthma and elderly people with respiratory diseases cannot leave their homes. Our government knows and feels that this is unacceptable.
The answer though is not blame the U.S.A. and other countries for the pollution that crosses our borders. We have to set an example and clean up our own backyard first.
We are beginning discussions with the provinces on a national water strategy, to share information about water quality and water quantity, to ensure Canadians have access to safe and clean drinking water and to identify the quantity and resource related issues that are emerging throughout Canada today. We will be working toward a system for large emitters to deal with greenhouse gases and ensure that we take the right steps to facilitate Canada's ability to contribute in what I think is our strongest capacity to this international challenge, through the development and deployment of clean technology.
These are just a few of the things that we are working on. All of them are made in Canada solutions with real benefits, tangible results for Canadians and a Canadian environment. We will ensure that our domestic policy aligns with our international policy. It will also ensure that Canada will continue to exercise a leadership role within international consultation and cooperation by advancing realistic and inclusive international options within the United Nations and we will explore other mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ways that accurately reflect our nation circumstances and effectively protect our country's interest.