Emergency Debate on Global Warming - Climate, Canada, and the IPCC special report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC

On October 8, 2018 the IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, issued its special report on GLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5 degrees Celsius. The summary report may be read here. The dire and urgent nature of this report prompted MPs and citizens to call for an Emergency Debate on global warming, the IPCC report, and Canada. Thankfully, an Emergency Debate was called, and the evening of October 15, the 6-hour debate was held in the House of Commons. Unfortunately only 31 of 338 MPs participated. Below you may hear the statements of each of these MPs. Listed and linked below is the first-time incidence of each MP speaking. MP Arif Virani speaks 9th from the bottom of the list.

Mr. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches—East York, Lib.

Mr. Gérard Deltell (Louis-Saint-Laurent, CPC)

Mr. Pierre Nantel (Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, NDP): 

Mr. Todd Doherty (Cariboo—Prince George, CPC)

Mr. Mark Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands, Lib.): 

Ms. Julie Dabrusin (Toronto—Danforth, Lib.): 

Mr. Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, NDP):

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): 

Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona, NDP): 

Hon. Catherine McKenna (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.): 

Mrs. Cathay Wagantall (Yorkton—Melville, CPC): 

Hon. Kent Hehr (Calgary Centre, Lib.): 

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP)

Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, BQ): 

Mr. John Barlow (Foothills, CPC): 

Mr. Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay, NDP): 

Mr. Wayne Long (Saint John—Rothesay, Lib.): 

Mr. Marwan Tabbara (Kitchener South—Hespeler, Lib.): 

Ms. Anne Minh-Thu Quach (Salaberry—Suroît, NDP): 

Mr. John Oliver (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Lib.): 

Ms. Brigitte Sansoucy (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, NDP): 

Mrs. Alexandra Mendès (Brossard—Saint-Lambert, Lib.): 

Mr. Mario Beaulieu (La Pointe-de-l'Île, BQ): 

Mr. Arif Virani (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): 

Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC): 

Hon. Kent Hehr (Calgary Centre, Lib.): 

Mr. Robert-Falcon Ouellette (Winnipeg Centre, Lib.): 

Ms. Anju Dhillon (Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, Lib.): 

Ms. Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo—Ladysmith, NDP)

Mr. Sean Fraser (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.): 

Mr. William Amos (Pontiac, Lib.): 

Mr. Gord Johns (Courtenay—Alberni, NDP):


Here is the link to the transcript of the debate as taken in Hansard. On the right sidebar, click on Emergency Debate.

Below is the transcript of MP Arif Virani's statements, and his responses to questions, during the Emergency Debate of Oct. 15, 2018:

I am pleased to rise in the House this evening to speak during this emergency debate on climate change. I will begin with last week's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC is dedicated to providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts, so we know that the conclusions that come from this report have merit. The report confirmed that we are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and the last generation that has the possibility of stopping it.

This is not actually new information. We have known the urgency of our environmental situation for some time now, which is why we are taking steps to protect the environment and to combat climate change.

    How are we doing this? In budget 2018, we reaffirmed our commitment to preserving and protecting our natural environment and to addressing climate change. That budget included a $1.3-billion investment for nature conservation, the most significant investment of its kind in Canadian history. Additionally, $500 million will come from the federal government to create a $1-billion nature fund with provinces, territories, not-for-profits, and corporate and other partners. The nature fund will allow us to secure private lands, support provincial and territorial environmental species protection efforts and help build indigenous capacity to conserve land and species.

    We have also implemented a $1.5-billion oceans protection plan, the most rigorous of its kind on the entire planet. It includes a marine safety system, restoring marine ecosystems and investing in innovative cleanup methods. Budget 2018 also included a $1.4-billion investment in the low carbon economy leadership fund to support clean growth and reduce greenhouse gases.

    On February 8, our government also introduced Bill C-69 to address the inadequacies of the current environmental assessment system. With this bill, our government would bring forward better rules for the review of major projects that would protect our environment, fish and waterways; rebuild trust and respect indigenous rights; and strengthen our economy and encourage investment. To help with the implementation of this bill, we also included $1 billion in funding in budget 2018 for the proposed new impact assessments under Bill C-69 and for the Canadian energy regulator.

It is also one of our top priorities to ensure that indigenous people have their voices heard in this political discourse on the environment. We are taking firm steps to conduct proper consultations with first nations, commensurate with direction from the court, on the matter of the environment and protecting heritage. To that end, our government has co-developed an indigenous advisory and monitoring committee that gives indigenous persons access to monitoring ongoing environmental projects. Further, we launched an economic pathways partnership that will make it easier for indigenous people and communities to access existing federal programs that will help benefit them economically.

    Following consultations, we were able to meet with, discuss and come to an agreement with 43 communities that signed mutual benefit agreements with the proponents on the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and 33 of those communities are in British Columbia. A grand total of 43 first nation communities will get the benefit from the proposed use of their territory for the construction of an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline.

    We have undertaken all these projects with proper and comprehensive indigenous consultation and input. Where that consultation has been lacking, we have heard from the court, and we are committed to revisiting the consultations and reaching out in a serious manner to understand the needs of indigenous persons and to accommodate their needs.

    We are also fulfilling the promise of UNDRIP. I think this bears some discussion. UNDRIP calls for a number of things, among which is having the resource wealth contained on indigenous territories reaped by those very indigenous communities, communities that for 400 years have been excluded from the benefit of the resource wealth on their land. That is what we are changing through our policies. That is what UNDRIP speaks to.

    We are also helping to incentivize businesses to make positive, environmentally sound upgrades. We are extending tax support for clean energy investments. This is critical. I speak now as not only the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice but as the member of Parliament for Parkdale—High Park in the city of Toronto in the province of Ontario. The current provincial government of Ontario is stepping out of supporting green renovations. We, on the other hand, have allocated $123 million in budget 2018 to extend the tax benefit program beyond 2020 to 2023. This benefit promotes and supports the adoption of energy efficient equipment, which is exactly what Ontarians, and indeed all businesses, want to see around this country.

    The most important step we have taken so far is to commit to putting a price on pollution. We have set a national price on carbon pollution that will be implemented in every province that has not implemented its own pricing system by January 1 of next year. This is essential, because polluters must pay. That bears repeating, and members will hear that over and over again from this side of the House: polluters must pay.

    Many governments around the world understand this, but some provincial leaders are, unfortunately, deciding to no longer take action. Saskatoon has said no, Manitoba has withdrawn from pricing pollution and now, to the dismay of the residents in my riding, the Premier of Ontario has also withdrawn from the fight against climate change. This is nothing less than an abnegation of responsibility, and it jeopardizes the future of Ontario, and indeed, the future of this country. By cancelling the cap and trade system, the Ontario government cancelled at the same time 700 renewable energy contracts. However, our response on this side of the House and at the federal level is simple. We will stand firm in our commitment that polluters must pay.

    For jurisdictions implementing an explicit price-based system, the carbon price must start at a minimum of $10 per tonne in 2018 and rise $10 per year to $50 per tonne by 2022.

    Overall, our plan has over 50 commitments, and we remain committed to meeting those targets. It is also important to say that on this side of the House, we are actually focused on doing the work necessary to meet our targets, not simply talk about the targets, which is in marked contrast to some other members in the chamber, who continue to publicly opine on our plan but have yet to propose a plan of their own to address climate change.

    The argument that pricing pollution harms economic growth is wholly inaccurate. The money collected from pricing pollution is returned to the residents and governments of the respective provinces. In this way, the price on pollution is entirely revenue neutral. Just look at the Province of British Columbia, for example. B.C. unveiled a carbon tax of its own with an identical commitment: that carbon pricing would be entirely revenue neutral in 2008 and that every dollar raised would be returned to the people of B.C. in the form of lower taxes. The statistics bear that out exactly. The first year of carbon pricing in B.C. saw $307 million collected and $315 million given back in the form of revenue returned to residents. The following year, the net give-back was over $180 million in excess.

    Research by environmental economist Dave Sawyer, of EnviroEconomics, suggests that in this scenario, most households, regardless of income level, would receive more money, not less, from the federal government than they would pay in terms of any increased prices in the economy. The study of three provinces suggests that those households, particularly at the lower end of the income spectrum, would end up better off under this plan. The amount they receive would rise over time, in line with the direct price on pollution, which will start at $20 per tonne next January and rise to $50 per tonne in 2022.

    In my remaining time, I want to reiterate that the concept of the environment and the economy going together is not a partisan issue. Indeed, it is only the leadership of NDP premiers, like Rachel Notley in Alberta, who aggressively put a price on carbon pollution and a cap on oil sands extraction, that allowed the notion of the pipeline approval to proceed in the first instance, in the case of TMX. Indeed, Premier Horgan, in British Columbia, is equally supportive of building up natural resource infrastructure to support economic growth, as he is actively pursuing a liquified natural gas refinement facility in Kitimat, B.C., to ensure that this resource can be exported from B.C. to markets elsewhere. That historic agreement with the NDP Premier of B.C. and indigenous communities in the west for an LNG refinery, which will be the cleanest of its kind on earth, will support jobs for indigenous persons and help assist our Asian allies, including China and India, in transitioning from polluting coal toward a low carbon economy.

    As we know and as the UN outlined in its study last week, the issue of climate change is not just pressing at a national level, it is pressing at a global level. It is a global problem that requires a global response. We need to think globally but also act locally.

    I will finish on a note about my constituents in Parkdale—High Park who care so passionately about the environment. These are the residents of my riding who have expressed their dismay with the actions of Premier Ford and are asking for a reinvigorated federal response. That is what we are committed to: finding a way to address the environmental concerns of Ontario residents and businesses and making a firm commitment to combat climate change. That is what we are here to do, and that is what this debate is about tonight.

Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC)
    Madam Speaker, it sounds like my colleague wants to re-adjudicate the Ontario provincial election and I certainly look forward to a similar result as that provincial election.
    I want to ask my colleague two very specific policy questions. First, he spoke about the alleged revenue neutrality of the Liberals' carbon tax. I want to ask specifically why the government continues to choose to charge the GST on the carbon tax. If the Liberals were serious about trying to demonstrate good faith in this respect, they could have supported proposals from my colleague to remove the GST on the carbon tax. Very clearly, as long as there is a tax on a tax that is a federal tax explicitly, there is no revenue neutrality. That is fairly difficult to counter, but we will see.
    The other question is about indigenous consultation. He spoke about the importance of engaging and consulting with indigenous people. I spent last week in the Arctic area and I spoke to Inuit leaders who were very disappointed by the government's decision to unilaterally announce an offshore drilling—

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): 
    I am sorry to interrupt. It is only five minutes for questions and comments. Therefore, if there is additional time, the member may want to stand and see if he can ask another question.

    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
Mr. Arif Virani: 
    Madam Speaker, I will address each of the member's comments very quickly.

    With respect to the Ontario election results, what puzzles me is that an individual such as Premier Ford, who ostensibly has the backs of Ontario business individuals, has cancelled 700 renewable energy contracts in the province of Ontario, hurting those very businesses that he purports to support.

    With respect to the revenue neutrality, I will reiterate for the member opposite that this is not a tax. A tax is something that goes to the general treasury and has the ability for widespread spending no matter where it is desired. This is a revenue neutral collection where it is collected and returned to individuals. It is not a tax that is for the expenditure of the general treasury.

    On indigenous consultation, those same people in Canada's far north pride us on the fact that we implemented a moratorium for Arctic drilling, pride us on the fact that we expanded conservation areas and pride us on the fact that we have continued to consult on a go forward basis.

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): 
    I want to remind members that there are questions and answers happening right now and to keep the discussions down across the way.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay.

Mr. Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay, NDP): 
    Madam Speaker, members on the Liberal side have been talking about a crisis of leadership and I would totally agree with them. There is a crisis of leadership here and it rests on their shoulders. The Conservatives would not have done any better in their time in government either.
    This is when we need real leadership. The lPCC report has come out and has said that we have to do better, a lot better, not just a little better. We are not going to meet our own targets that the Canadian government set out after coming back from Paris and saying “we're back”. They were inadequate. The Paris agreement was not going to give Canada the ability to say that it had done its bit, it had done what the world asked it to do. We are not going to meet those targets. The Liberals have no plan to meet them and we will fall very short.
    I still have yet to hear any member on that side tonight in this emergency debate say how we will do what we have to do.

Mr. Arif Virani: 
    Madam Speaker, I will agree with one aspect of my friend opposite's comments, which is that this is a time that calls for leadership. Leadership is being shown. We are seeing a government that has unmuzzled scientists; a government that expressly articulates the term “climate change” and is not afraid of it; a government that is putting billions of dollars into transit, into green infrastructure; a government that is committed to making decisions and sticking by them.

     At exactly the time when provincial governments are turning tail and running from the climate problem, we remain firm to a commitment we made over 18 months ago, that we will price pollution because polluters must pay and that is how to address climate change. That is what we are sticking to and that is leadership in the face of opposition that is growing in the country.