Question Period: Green Jobs – December 10, 2014
Mr. Coon: My question is for the Premier. On Monday of this week, Quebec, together with Ontario and British Columbia, issued a joint statement demonstrating leadership on climate change. They joined federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in Peru this week at the final UN meeting before a new global treaty on climate action is signed next year in Paris. Their joint statement identifies climate change as a serious threat to our economy and recognizes the opportunity to create a new low-carbon economy that will drive job creation in our country and in our provinces if we act now. Immediate action means investing in people, building new public infrastructures, such as transit, and creating a business environment that will cultivate a greener and fairer economy. Will the Premier join his colleagues in Quebec and Ontario and be seen supporting this joint statement on climate change?
Hon. Mr. Gallant: I appreciate the question very much. This is something that is very important to our province, to our country, and across the globe. In fact, I did have a chance to speak to Premier Couillard when I was with him at the Sommet de la Francophonie recently. Also, when I met with him in Quebec, we had a chance to speak about many, many subjects, including climate change.
J’aimerais mentionner une très bonne initiative que le premier ministre Couillard veut mettre en place. En effet, il est en train d’organiser un sommet pour tous les premiers ministres, soit un sommet national, qui se tiendra en avril prochain, afin de discuter des changements climatiques. Notre gouvernement sera présent et nous allons aussi déposer un plan pour nous assurer que nous faisons notre part pour ce qui est des changements climatiques.
There was a report and recommendation document that was done by the previous government in June of this year, but we are going to work with all New Brunswickers to beef that up, because this is an important issue.
Mr. Coon: That is good to hear. With the moratorium, for sure, we have an opportunity to build a new low-carbon economy in this province to drive green job creation. However, the Premier’s championing of the Energy East Pipeline project contradicts this approach. The Alberta-based Pembina Institute estimates that the expansion in tar sands mining necessary to feed the pipeline is equivalent to adding 32 million tonnes of carbon pollution to our atmosphere every year. That is like building 10 Belledune-sized coal-fired power plants.
John Van der Put, the vice-president of marketing for TransCanada Pipelines, was in my office last week, and he provided me with documentation that suggests that we will see only 78 permanent direct jobs from this pipeline. Will the Premier commit to building a new low-carbon economy to drive the creation of thousands of green jobs rather than the handful of jobs that come with the Energy East Pipeline project?
Hon. Mr. Gallant: In our action plan that we will develop . . . I certainly hope that the member opposite will provide his ideas and suggestions—I have no doubt that he will—on how we can beef up the plan that was presented by the previous government in June pertaining to climate change. Of course, one part of that discussion is how to build on green jobs here in the province. I think that is an opportunity, and it is something that we will want to explore as much as possible.
De plus, nous savons qu’Énergie NB travaille très fort pour ce qui est de l’énergie renouvelable, ce qui pourrait faire partie des produits énergétiques de la province.
We know that, with the smart grid of NB Power, much is being done to try to ensure that we have renewable energy that is on the grid. We will continue to reach out to everyone and anyone who has ideas on how to address climate change, all the while ensuring that we fulfill our first priority of job creation. The Energy East Pipeline project is something that we support. We want to do it right. We want to make sure that we benefit, and we want to make sure that we protect the environment. We are sure that we can get it done.
Mr. Coon: We in this province have a commitment to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 10% over the next five years, so it is good to hear the Premier say that he is going to beef up the plan for climate action, as promised, because it needs to be beefed up. In that vein, transportation accounts for 6 million tonnes—fully one third—of New Brunswick’s greenhouse gas emissions every year. Achieving our target will require action on transportation-related emissions. Aside from Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick is the only province in the country that does not invest directly in our public transit systems, and, as a result, they are shrinking. They are having difficulty serving the public.
My question for the Premier is this: Will he commit, as part of this plan, to beefing up the plan to invest infrastructure money in improving and expanding public transit in our province?
L’hon. M. Arseneault : Je remercie le député pour sa question. Comme l’a mentionné le premier ministre à maintes reprises, nous devons faire plus pour combattre les changements climatiques. Toutefois, il est à remarquer que le gouvernement libéral de Brian Gallant remet en place certains programmes. Par exemple, l’autre jour, on a parlé du Programme résidentiel d’efficacité énergétique.
The other day, I heard the Leader of the Opposition say how he believed in the home retrofit program, but he was sitting around the Cabinet table when they cut that program. Since 2006, we invested $50 million in the home energy retrofit program, and that created $286 million in economic activity in New Brunswick, through contractors and purchases of equipment and building material. That reduced, on average, for 31 000 homes in New Brunswick, 23% of their energy costs. Thus, we do believe in an energy renewal project. It is too bad that the Leader of the Opposition does not.