Peter Kent takes a stand against mischaracterization -

Peter Kent takes a stand against mischaracterization


The NDP quizzed the Environment Minister yesterday on the cost of the government’s regulatory approach to GHG emissions.

Anne Minh-Thu Quach: Mr. Speaker, in committee yesterday, the Minister of the Environment responded to one of my questions with a trivial statement. When I asked him about the cost of the ineffective sector-by-sector approach adopted by the Conservatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the minister said that the figures were not important. Let us be clear: either the minister has no idea of the cost of his policies, or he wants to hide it. Since I like to be courteous, I will give him another chance. How much is the Conservatives’ sector-by-sector approach going to cost taxpayers?

Peter Kent: Mr. Speaker, that is a slight mischaracterization of our exchange yesterday in committee. Our sector-by-sector plan to reduce GHG emissions started with the regulation of the two sectors that contribute the greatest number of megatonnes every year: tailpipe emissions and coal-fired electricity. The cost-benefit estimates of those regulations can be found on the Environment Canada website with the regulatory impact assessment statement.

Megan Leslie: Mr. Speaker, a mischaracterization? We have the transcripts. The minister seems to know a lot more about made up NDP policies than he does about his own portfolio. Experts confirm that his sector-by-sector approach is not working. It is the least effective and the most expensive approach to GHG reductions. Six months ago we asked the minister how much the plan costs. There was no answer. Yesterday, he said that to him the numbers really are not that important. Is the minister hiding the answer or does he really not know the cost?

Peter Kent: Mr. Speaker, obviously my colleague was not listening to my previous question and was not in attendance at the committee meeting yesterday. The first two sectors have been regulated. The cost-benefits are available. A total number cannot be given until we regulate all of the other sectors in our sector-by-sector plan. The number that Canadians are interested in is the proposed $21 billion carbon tax that the NDP would pick out of the pockets of hard-working Canadian taxpayers.

We looked last month at the costs known so far. Below is the exchange between Ms. Minh-Thu Quach and Mr. Kent at Monday’s meeting of the environment committee.

Anne Minh-Thu Quach: En ce qui concerne les gaz à effet de serre, vous avez dit que vous aviez un programme sectoriel. En fait, monsieur le ministre, quand nous étions en comité plénier, plus tôt cette année, vous avez dit qu’il en coûterait 14 milliards de dollars au Canada pour honorer ses engagements internationaux de réduction de gaz à effet de serre dans le cadre du Protocole de Kyoto. Le 15 mai dernier, ma collègue de Halifax, vous a demandé de fournir des chiffres pour appuyer cette affirmation et vous avez promis de le faire. Vous avez aussi accepté de fournir des données concernant l’impact financier que pourrait avoir le réchauffement climatique sur notre économique canadienne. Toutefois, toujours devant ce comité plénier du 15 mai, vous avez refusé de fournir les analyses des coûts et de la stratégie sectorielle de la réduction des gaz à effet de serre. Vous en avez parlé dans votre préambule.

Est-ce que, aujourd’hui, vous êtes en mesure de nous fournir ces informations?

Peter Kent: I’m not sure if the information I provide will satisfy your question, but in fact the $14 billion that I referenced, and that we referenced at the time of the announcement of Canada’s legal withdrawal from the Kyoto accord, was the budgetary number.

It’s a number that’s based on carbon pricing and international markets. The precise number is far less important than our government’s decision not to send billions of hard-earned Canadian tax dollars abroad to buy hot air credits from depressed eastern European economies.

That was the reason our government announced, from the day that we first assumed office until we gave notice after the Durban conference last year…. The Government of Canada regarded the Kyoto Protocol as ineffective and unfair, particularly in the context of Canada’s circumstances.

With regard to the cost of implementing sector-by-sector greenhouse gas reduction to meet our Copenhagen 2020 targets, these costs are borne on the basis of “polluter pays”, the sectors. We’ve done it in a very non-prescriptive manner, unlike some other countries that use the regulatory tool have done. We’ve done this, for example, in the case of tailpipe emissions with vehicles. We’ve done it in alignment with the United States and with our integrated auto industries. With regard to coal-fired electricity generation, we have done it with the—

Anne Minh-Thu Quach: Pourriez-vous me donner des chiffres.

Peter Kent: —the regulations apply at the end of life.

Anne Minh-Thu Quach: Parce que vous dites que c’est efficace. Je suis contente de vous entendre dire que vous êtes d’accord avec le principe du pollueur-payeur, un principe que j’aimerais beaucoup voir appliquer avec un plan stratégique concret que je ne vois pas. Vous avez dit que 14 milliards de dollars pour les objectifs internationaux des GES, mais on ne sait pas combien coûte votre plan stratégique secteur par secteur. Vous n’avez toujours pas de chiffres aujourd’hui si je comprends bien.

Peter Kent: But the actual cost of achieving our mega tonnage reduction sector by sector is far less important than the fact that we are 50% towards achieving our 2020 Copenhagen accords.

Anne Minh-Thu Quach: C’est important pour nous.

Peter Kent: Pourquoi?

Anne Minh-Thu Quach: C’est important parce qu’il faut savoir où est-ce efficace et comment peut-on surveiller ensuite s’il y a des réajustements à faire. Sommes-nous gagnant et suffisamment productif et surveillons-nous de façon correcte. Vous parlez d’être efficace dans l’investissement, mais vous n’êtes pas capable d’évaluer chacun des secteurs de façon précise. Cela m’alarme. C’est très inquiétant de la part de mon propre ministre.

Peter Kent: But the important thing is the absolute reduction of greenhouse gases sector by sector—

Anne Minh-Thu Quach: Avez-vous les nombres de réduction?

The Chair: Let him answer the question.

Peter Kent: Absolutely. Well, as we said, we reported in an internationally accepted measurement of our greenhouse gas trends that we are at roughly 50% of achieving our 2020 Copenhagen targets.