Read my Speech in House in support of declaring a national climate emergency.

May 30, 2019

Click here if you would prefer to watch a video of the speech on my facebook page:

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for sharing his time with me.

We visited the Mohawks on the Bay of Quinte last year. We are both water champions, looking to reduce boil water advisories.

Item (c) in our motion expressly says that the vulnerable communities we are trying to serve include the indigenous communities. We recognize the effects of climate change on the land they were once stewards of, and good stewards of, that we are no longer good stewards of, and recognize the emergency we have brought on ourselves.

I rise today to support the motion. Climate change is like no other problem we have had to face as a government or as a people. With respect to fossil fuels, renewables and the transition we have to make into the new economy, there is a challenge in front of us, and it is an emergency.

Environment and Climate Change Canada identifies greenhouse gas contributions by sector to help define the challenge ahead of us. Industry contributes 40% of greenhouse gas emissions; transportation, 25%; electricity and energy, 11%; residences, 11%; agriculture, forestry and food-related emissions, 13%. The first thing we need to do when faced with a problem like this is to measure it, because what gets measured gets acted on.

Since 2007, Guelph has had a community energy initiative, and I am proud to say that I was involved in it from the beginning. It looks at the factors contributing to energy use in Guelph and how we can reduce per capita consumption by 50% as we increase our population by 50%. That has a direct impact on climate change. Guelph is also very involved in active transportation and in reducing our impact on the climate. We are now looking at how we can hitch our wagons together, having Canadian programs working with Guelph programs.

In 2017, the government invested $175,000 for Guelph to update the community energy initiative, and last month the results were published in a phase 1 and phase 2 report, which was tabled at city council and will be discussed there later this month. It looks at all areas of climate change and how we can get our act together federally and with the municipality to address challenges together, aligning our efforts so we can combat climate change together.

My constituents are deeply concerned about the effects of climate change and how they will affect their future. I recently attended a student-run town hall, where students brought in the mayor, the member of provincial Parliament and me to sit on a panel for an accountability session. I would like to thank the young leaders of the community environmental leadership program and the Headwaters program for organizing the town hall.

The message is clear: Youth are demanding action from their leaders. They do not want leaders fighting each other; they want leaders fighting climate change. They do not want us to be distracted and in denial. They want us to meet climate change challenges head on, regardless of party and level of government.

Transitioning our economy from hydrocarbons to sustainable technology is the crucial task before us. While this at first appears to be disruptive to our economy, it is in fact a tremendous opportunity. There is a $26-trillion global market for clean solutions, and Canada has a chance to get ahead in this emerging market.

To prevent further changes to our climate, and to position Canada for the looming sustainable economy to come, our government has a plan. The pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change is investing $5.7 billion over 12 years, including $2 billion in the low-carbon economy fund. Other ministries, such as Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Transportation, Natural Resources, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, have programs that contribute to our 50-point plan to address the climate emergency as we are facing it.

At the centre of this framework is a transition plan for our economy, including the sectors that emit the most, such as transportation and power generation, but also sectors that are already low on emissions, such as agriculture.

Emissions from transportation account for almost a quarter of all emissions in some provinces, such as Alberta, and in Quebec they account for half of all emissions.

To help change the level of emissions from transportation, our government has put forward an electric vehicle tax credit. Budget 2019 will invest $300 million over three years to fund a credit of up to $5,000 on any purchase of an electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle whose list price is less than $45,000. Again, this measure is focused on the middle class and on vehicles that are affordable for families. It helps them with the decision to get into those vehicles so that they can have a personal impact on climate change.

The clean fuel standards program aims at reducing emissions associated with the use of fuel and to promote cleaner technologies relating to fuel. The Canadian Trucking Alliance has actively worked to reduce emissions by adopting natural gas-powered engines and calling on governments to introduce complementary measures of investment in these technologies, as well as in hydrogen cell technology.

In Guelph, we are partnering with the federal government to find solutions. During a visit to Linamar, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced a $50-million investment, which was matched by $50 million from our previous provincial government. The funding will help create 1,500 new Canadian jobs and will support more than 8,000 jobs already within Linamar's corporate structure, including in advanced manufacturing processes using 3D printing and modelling, and resulting in cleaner automotive technologies.

Linamar will also open a new innovation centre in Guelph on Woodlawn Road. It will be dedicated entirely to research and development into the car of the future, including alternate fuels, electric vehicles, hydrogen cells and artificial intelligence technologies.

As a Guelphite and former president of the chamber of commerce, I know how important it is to have those jobs in Guelph. As co-chair of the automotive caucus of the Liberal Party, I know it is so important to see us getting into the car of the future in my home town.

The Government of Canada has financed the purchase of 26 new buses in Guelph, provided new bus stop funding and fare boxes, and funded a municipal study to look at how the municipality could use car sharing in the city's fleet to try to reduce the carbon footprint of the municipality itself.

With regard to energy and electricity, funds from the price on pollution can be used to invest in sustainable energy projects. My wife Barb and I have put solar panels on our house. We made use of a government program in order to do that. We are doing our part and getting income from our roof. What else can we do?

Geothermal is an example. In Saskatchewan, there is a $50-million geothermal project in Estevan. Helped by the Government of Canada, Guelph's Canadian Solar is investing $16 million in a solar project in Alberta, creating jobs in the new technologies of the future.

With regard to agriculture, we are looking at 13% of Canada's emissions. This week we were really excited to hear the announcement that Guelph and Wellington County were awarded $10 million to develop their plan for a circular food economy. They developed three principal goals to transform our local food ecosystem and reduce our environmental footprint caused by food waste by 2025.

The three goals we are looking at are: looking at increasing accessibility of affordable, nutritious local foods by 50%; creating 50 new circular businesses and collaborations relating to food; and increasing circular economic revenue by 50% by recognizing the value of food waste. In fact, McDonald's Canada is now working with the University of Guelph studies to create plastics for the automotive industry by using all the coffee grounds from across Canada, which I know will be interesting to the member for Winnipeg, who I hear enjoys a lot of McDonald's coffee on the weekend.

Climate change is a serious matter for seniors concerned about their grandchildren's future, for entrepreneurs and for students. Even today, groups of music students from GCVI in Guelph are visiting for the MusicFest Nationals, and they are deeply concerned about climate change. We spoke about this just moments ago.

As members of Parliament, we have a responsibility to future generations to both acknowledge this threat and to develop an actionable climate plan. We have a realistic and progressive plan to reduce our emissions, reduce poverty and lay the foundations for a sustainable economy of the future.

I will close with the words of one of my constituents, who wrote, “I implore you to do your part ahead of this historic vote and to do more work in the future in your role as representative to take on the uncomfortable choices that the climate crisis has given us.” I thank the people of Guelph, who inspired me to work on this challenge with them, and I look forward to working on this across Canada as well.