Canada’s Minister of EnvironmentTakes Questions in Senate QP

Environment and Climate Change - Energy Targets—Energy Alternatives

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Minister, welcome to the Senate of Canada. On a more personal note, I would like to congratulate you on the exceptional quality of your French. I am always impressed when I hear you speak during an interview or press conference. Congratulations!

My question concerns the different ways to reduce carbon emissions. We all know that we would reach the ambitious targets set at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference more quickly by reducing the use of coal as an energy source.

Minister, do you believe that natural gas is a desirable transitional energy source? Should we encourage heavy energy consumers to use natural gas instead of coal? With that in mind, should we encourage Canadian provinces to develop their shale gas production like the Obama administration did in the United States over the past eight years?

Hon. Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change: Thank you for the question, honourable senator. It is a great honour for me to be with you today to answer your questions on matters under my responsibility. We have had a very full session in both chambers.

I am very pleased to be back from China, where I had the opportunity to take part in a clean technology mission. We signed a pan-Canadian agreement on climate change. It was an honour for me to be involved in that initiative. I am very pleased with the cooperation among the provinces, the territories and the Prime Minister that resulted in the signing of this agreement. We all worked very hard, and I am pleased to share that with you.

Honourable senators, with respect to natural gas, we definitely find ourselves in a period of transition towards an economy marked by much less carbon consumption. That is extremely important to our planet's future and our ability to offer a cleaner and healthier future to our children and grandchildren. At the same time, this also represents an important economic opportunity, because the economy and the environment go hand in hand.

Of course, we need to get on with the job of lowering our greenhouse gas emissions but, unfortunately, that won't happen overnight. This year our government approved some pipeline projects that were part of our commitments to the resource market. We also established carbon pricing and approved a liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia.

All projects submitted to our government go through a science- based analysis, and we make sure that those projects are carried out in a safe and responsible manner. We are always studying ways to improve our resource development during this period of transition.

As I said, this transition will not happen overnight, and we are taking the time needed to examine all projects to determine their impact on the environment and on greenhouse gas emissions. That is part of our analysis.

We announced transitional principles, we will study all projects that are submitted to us and our decisions will be based on science and evidence.

Franklin Expedition

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): Minister, my question is also about access to Canada's natural assets. Thanks to investments from the Government of Canada, over the past few months, artifacts from the Franklin expedition have been found in the Canadian Arctic archipelago.

What does the government intend to do to make these recently discovered artifacts accessible to Canadians?

Hon. Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change: That is a very good question. I was pleased to learn that the Parks Canada underwater archeological team has confirmed that the wreck that was discovered off the coast of King William Island in Nunavut is indeed the HMS Terror.

I think it is important to make these discoveries accessible to Canadians. The government intends to work with the people of Nunavut and the British government on this.

These discoveries provide an opportunity to showcase the knowledge and tools that were used at the time. This priority reflects the government's commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, in this case the Inuit people.

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