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ENVI Committee Meeting

Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.

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Minutes of Proceedings

44th Parliament, 1st Session
Meeting 98
Thursday, February 15, 2024, 3:30 p.m. to 5:35 p.m.
Francis Scarpaleggia, Chair (Liberal)

• Pam Damoff (Liberal)
• James Maloney (Liberal)
• Salma Zahid (Liberal)
Library of Parliament
• Alison Clegg, Analyst
• Sarah Yakobowski, Analyst
As an individual
• Chandra Madramootoo, Distinguished James McGill Professor, McGill University
• George McGraw, Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Forum for Leadership on Water
• Robert Sandford, Senior Government Relations Liaison, Global Climate Emergency Response, United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health
• Emily Lorra Hines, Director
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
• Gregory McClinchey, Director, Policy and Legislative Affairs
• Lisa Walter, Coordinator, Aquatic Connectivity
International Joint Commission (Canadian Section)
• Susan Chiblow, Commissioner
• Merrell-Ann Phare, Commissioner
• Christopher Wilkie, Secretary
Nature's Rights
• Mumta Ito, Founder and President
United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health
• Kaveh Madani, Director
Water Rangers
• Kat Kavanagh, Executive Director
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, the committee resumed its study of freshwater.

Chandra Madramootoo, Robert Sandford, Merrell-Ann Phare and George McGraw made statements and, with Susan Chiblow and Emily Lorra Hines, answered questions.

Dan Mazier gave notice of the following motion:

Given that:

• Justin Trudeau’s Minister of the Environment has publicly stated, “Our government has made the decision to stop investing in new road infrastructure”;

• Trudeau’s Minister of the Environment has also stated that funding new roads and highways is not needed because public transit and current road infrastructure is good enough—while Canadians in large urban centres like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal spend hours in traffic each week, and rural Canadians, do not have access to public transit;

• Canadians living in rural and remote areas also rely on new roads and highways to raise their families;

• Rural Canadians don’t have the luxury of being able to walk to work or to a doctor’s office;

• Rural Canadians cannot rely on a subway to get to the nearest city, because there are no subway stations in rural communities;

• Many municipal and provincial governments across Canada were rightfully outraged when Minister Guilbeault announced the Liberal government will stop funding new road infrastructure;

• Justin Trudeau’s Minister of the Environment is also plowing ahead with his plan to ban all gas-powered, passenger vehicles, preventing millions of Canadians from using a vehicle;

• Many Canadians, especially rural, northern, and indigenous Canadians, are worried they won’t be able to live or work because Minister Guilbeault’s policies will directly deprive them of owning a vehicle;

• No material purchase provides Canadians with more freedom to live and work than the purchase of a personal vehicle, especially in a nation as large as Canada;

• The recent announcement from Minister Guilbeault to stop funding new roads and highways comes at a time when Justin Trudeau is deliberately increasing the price of fuel on Canadians;

• The Liberal government plans to increase their failed-carbon tax on Monday, April 1, 2024, by 23%;

• The Minister of the Environment also stated earlier this month that “the government does not measure the annual amount of emissions that are directly reduced by federal carbon pricing.”;

• Canadians are sick and tired of this Liberal government’s ideological crusade against vehicle ownership in Canada; and

• Canadians are also sick and tired of this government’s constant and undemocratic tactics of always shutting down debate on issues that they expect addressed.

The committee urge Minister Guilbeault to publicly testify before the committee for no less than two hours to explain his radical plan to stop funding roads and highways across Canada; and report to the House that Minister Guilbeault’s plan to stop funding new roads and ban gas-powered vehicles is not an environmental policy; it is government-imposed deprivation.

Questioning of the witnesses resumed.

At 4:39 p.m., the sitting was suspended.

At 4:45 p.m., the sitting resumed.

Gregory McClinchey, Mumta Ito, Kaveh Madani and Kat Kavanagh made statements and, with Lisa Walter, answered questions.

Branden Leslie gave notice of the following motion:

Given that:

  1. Steven Guilbeault, the Minister of Environment, announced, “There will be no more envelopes from the federal government to enlarge the road network”;
  2. Minister Guilbeault also said the Liberal government has decided to stop investing in roads because the current network is “perfectly adequate” to respond to the needs of Canadians;
  3. Moreover, Minister Guilbeault said, “We can very well achieve our goals of economic, social and human development without more enlargement of the road network”;
  4. Minister Guilbeault has provided no evidence to backup his erroneous claims;
  5. The Liberal government has not consulted with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, or with Indigenous leaders regarding Minister Guilbeault’s announcement;
  6. Drivers in Canada’s major cities spend on average 144 hours in rush-hour traffic every year, with Toronto topping out at 199 hours, Vancouver at 197 hours, Montreal at 180 hours, and Winnipeg at 173 hours;
  7. Kam Blight, the president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, said:

    “In response to the recent comments made by federal Minister Steven Guilbeault that demonstrate a lack of awareness regarding the challenges faced by municipalities, investing in municipal infrastructure, particularly road projects of all sizes, is crucial in fostering economic growth and addressing the challenges posed by a growing population and expanding trade networks.

    With the reality of our members facing an ever-increasing municipal infrastructure deficit and operating under 19th century fiscal limitations, it is now more important than ever that other orders of government increase investments to support all kinds of infrastructure and work in partnership with municipalities to develop a modernized Municipal Growth Framework for the 21st century.

    It is a strategic move that not only addresses the immediate needs of a growing population but also positions municipalities as hubs of economic activity, fostering sustainable development and enhancing their roles in the broader regional and global economy; and”

  8. Minister Guilbeault’s plan to end all federal investments in new roads and highways would cripple Canada’s economic growth.

The committee call on the Liberal government to condemn Minister Guilbeault’s announcement; and the committee report its opinion to the House.

Questioning of the witnesses resumed.

At 5:16 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 115(5), it was agreed that the committee continue to sit.

Questioning of the witnesses resumed.

At 5:35 p.m., the committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.

Natalie Jeanneault
Clerk of the committee