There are currently two weeks left for debate on Parliament Hill before the end of 2012 and as was the case last year, it is widely expected that filibusters and procedural tactics will be at a premium as Government seeks to have legislation passed that the Opposition opposes. Most prominent will be Bill C-45, the Jobs and Growth Act. For those unfamiliar with the Jobs and Growth Act, it is the second act to implement provisions of the Budget for 2012 and as a result our Government will introduce time allocation this week to help ensure that the Budget for 2012 is actually passed in 2012. Time allocation is often confused with closure, a different Parliamentary procedure. Time allocation sets a fixed period of time that is available in the House of Commons to debate a specific stage of debate during a Bill. Closure differs from time allocation in that closure in effect ends debate and calls for a vote. Interestingly enough from a Parliamentary perspective, closure is a long term procedural tactic that will be one hundred years old in 2013 while time allocation is a far more recent Parliamentary procedural phenonmenon that was created as an alternative to closure and has continued to evolve over the past few decades.
One area of the Jobs and Growth Act that I believe many in Okanagan-Coquihalla would be supportive of but has not received a great deal of attention is changes to our tax policy as it relates to the environment. The phasing out of the Atlantic Oil and Gas tax credit is one such policy. Our Government is committed to improving the neutrality of the tax system as it currently exists in different sectors of the economy. In part this is a result of a commitment by G-20 Leaders to rationalize and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term. Another measure in the act is the addition of a capital cost allowance that would incentivize those who would like to generate renewable energy. This would include a variety of equipment that would generate or conserve energy by using a renewable energy source such as wind, solar, small hydro, or using fuels from waste like landfill gas, wood waste, manure; perhaps making more efficient use of fossil fuels with high efficiency cogeneration systems. Given that there has been a fair amount of interest in communities such as Merritt, Penticton and Princeton in these kinds of projects and the accompanying jobs both in construction and ongoing operations, it is my hope that these kind of initiatives will be well received and help create opportunities in these and other communities.
Another initiative that our Government recently announced were regulatory changes in the automotive sector that will harmonize recent similar changes in the United States that promote increased fuel economy for cars and trucks sold in Canada. This not only keeps our auto sector competitive and in sync with the large US market, but will also conserve fuel. The new regulations will begin implementation in 2017 and by 2025 will see vehicles that consume 50% less fuel and at the same time emit 50% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to a vehicle sold in 2008. Collectively in the period from 2017 to 2025 these new regulatory changes are estimated to reduce green house gas emissions by 162 MT. As some of you may be aware, our Government also announced heavy duty vehicle GHG emissions regulations earlier this year that will begin to take effect in 2014. Also announced in September of this year are final regulations to reduce emissions in the coal-fired electricity sector. This sector by sector approach does have critics however the 2012 Canada Emissions Trends report shows that combined efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada are working. Currently Canada is at the halfway point in reaching a targeted reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. It should also be noted that a previous Government who signed an international agreement but then took no further action actually saw an increase of greenhouse gas emissions by 27%. Although jobs, the need to support our local economies and responsible resource development are frequent topics of discussion, it should be noted that there are a number of initiatives like the ones mentioned previously that are often overlooked. Although you may not hear about some of these environmentally related measures in the Jobs and Growth Act, it is important to recognize that this act proposes to not only keep our economy strong but also to promote diversification and innovation in our great country.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
Central Okanagan – Similkameen – Nicola