C-288 in the Senate
Routine Proceedings of the Senate; Feb 15, 2007
Kyoto Protocol Implementation Bill
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
On motion of Senator Mitchell, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.
Question Period of the Senate; Feb 15, 2007:
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee
Study of Kyoto Protocol Implementation Bill
Hon. CÃ©line Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.
Can the honourable senator please tell the chamber whether the committee will address Bill C-288 at its earliest convenience?
Hon. Tommy Banks: It is the practice of our committee, as I am sure it is of others, that legislation takes precedence over other matters, such as the study of CEPA, which is mandated by the legislation.
At present, there are two other bills before our committee, so I will discuss with the committee the priority they would like to use in establishing how soon to deal with which bill and in which order.
Bill C-288 is a bill of considerable import. I suspect members on all sides will want to address their attention to the bill with some alacrity.
I do not know whether this gave rise to the honourable senator’s question, but a report in a large newspaper stated as follows with respect to Bill C-288 â€” and “there” in the upcoming quote refers to the Senate: “There, it is expected to be passed into law after being studied briefly by the environment committee.”
I wish to disabuse any members who may be under that impression, or anyone else who is within the sound of my voice who may be under that impression. We will not dispense with or deal with that bill briefly. By definition, it is an important bill. It contains very important matters that will affect not only our country, but the standing of our country in the world.
Our job, as we are reminded by people who have been here for a long time, is to review legislation. That is the job of this place. When an important bill that has widespread implications comes before us, we will not review it briefly. We will review it in some detail. We will examine its implications. We will examine the legislative effectiveness of the bill. We will find out how effective it is. We will find out what teeth it has. We will find out what the downstream implications are if the bill comes into force and is acted upon. These implications are interesting and considerable. We need to know what they are in the course of our review of that legislation. We need to know the legal and constitutional obligations of the government, if any, should the Senate decide to pass this bill. Therefore, the double answer I will provide to the leader is that I think the members of the committee will agree to address that bill in short order and to address it thoroughly and patiently before we report to this house.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I am encouraged by what I have heard from the chairman of this particular committee. I can see that Senator Banks, in everything he does in this place, takes his job seriously. I happen to be privileged to work with him on other committees, and I know how thorough he is.
I am not sure whether it is proper to ask him this question at this time but, as a committee, can he visualize studying the global aspect of this bill as opposed to zeroing in on the legislation itself? Does he see the purview of the committee extending to the various other contributors to the problem on a global scale?
Honourable senators, this issue is such an important one. As humans on this earth, we play an important role, but I do not think we are the be-all and end-all. There are many other players in this program, and I wonder whether they will come into the study of this particular legislation.
Senator Banks: I have the honour to chair a committee comprised of people who already happen to have considerable knowledge of this subject, that is to say, the global implications of the questions addressed in this bill. We have been studying those implications avidly for six years and probably for a long time before that. In the present context, we have studied this subject for a long time. The members on all sides are knowledgeable in that respect and are committed to doing the right thing. However, we will look at this legislation, what it means and what it will do.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Can I also ask Senator Banks, in whose distinguished leadership in the committee we all trust, whether he is aware of any predisposition that might exist on the part of the majority to stand in the way of substantive and thoughtful amendments that might normally be brought forward for discussion and consideration at the committee stage? Alternatively, is he of the view that the committee would be open to, and, as chairman, he would have no predisposition against, the discussion of any appropriate amendments in the clause-by-clause review that may ensue after inquiry into the other areas of examination he so thoughtfully laid out in response to his leader’s question?
Senator Banks: I have been a member of this committee since long before I had the honour of becoming its chair. It has never, to my knowledge or recollection, and certainly never under my chairmanship, made a report to this place that was not unanimous.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Can the chair of the committee clarify that part of the purview of his committee’s investigation or review of this bill would be to ascertain, perhaps by calling the Minister of the Environment or even the Prime Minister, whether that government is prepared to fulfill the law of Parliament as embodied in Bill C-288 passed by the House of Commons and presumably could be passed by this Senate, or whether they are prepared to break that law?
Senator Banks: I have to assume that no government of Canada would ever break the law.
Senator Mercer: Stay tuned.
Senator Banks: I assume as well that no government of Canada would ever flout the will of Parliament. I cannot answer the honourable senator’s question because, as he knows well, being a member of the committee, the committee will identify the witnesses to appear before it.
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee
Kyoto Protocolâ€”Effect on Economy
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, my question is for the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, and I apologize in advance if it puts him on the spot.
Last week, Environment Minister John Baird raised the hysteria of his anti-Kyoto bias by saying that Canada’s economy would collapse like Russia’s economy if the government were to fulfill its international Kyoto obligations. He simply cannot connect the dots between the environment as an opportunity and the economy.
Is the Chair of the Energy Committee aware of any evidence, analysis or reports that might back up the contention that should Canada pursue its Kyoto obligations in an appropriate manner, the Canadian economy would collapse like that of Russia’s?
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I point out that Senator Fortier has joined us.
I was unaware that the economy of Russia had collapsed. I do not think it has. The Soviet economy collapsed, but the Russian economy is quite a different matter and is doing quite well.
It is also my experience, and we have heard evidence for a long time now, that good ecological and environmental practices by individuals, businesses, institutions and government always lead to profits.
Senator Mitchell: It seems to me that the honourable senator is saying he can think of or has come across no examples, no evidence in fact, that enlightened environmental policy and business-related environmental initiatives would be inclined to damage an economy or a business; quite the contrary, they actually enhance economic growth and business success.
Senator Banks: I believe I would find agreement on all sides of our committee that all of the evidence we have heard in the past several years since emissions have become an issue is to the effect that responsible ecological management at all levels of industry and society are, in the end, profitable. I could provide a long list of examples, beginning with Royal Dutch Shell, whose chairman came before us and said that the measures they had initiated to put into place better ecological practices have resulted in unanticipated profits for his corporation with six zeros on the end of them. He was very happy to explain that to us.
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