Hansard Record of June 2, 2003

House of Commons Discussion
of Motion M-385

How MPs voted the next day

Private Members' Business
* * *


The Environment
Mr. Joe Jordan (Leeds"Grenville, Lib.) moved:

Motion No. 385

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should develop and report annually on a set of social, environmental and economic indicators of the health and well-being of people, communities and ecosystems in Canada.

Mr. Joe Jordan
: Mr. Speaker, surprisingly, I have had indications from a number of members that they wish to speak to the motion, which is good news.

I will briefly go over the main points of the intention of the motion, then take whatever questions members may have and then let other members speak to this important issue. This is not the first time I have introduced this idea, and I have spoken in the House on this issue before.

The motion sets out a framework for the government to develop a set of indicators or measurements, and there is certainly debate around which would be better and more applicable, so that at the end of each year, or some time during a calendar year, we could provide reports to the people of Canada that would provide objective information concerning the economy of the country, the state of the environment and measures that would deal with social well-being.

I realize there have been some concerns expressed, such as health indicators being an encroachment into provincial jurisdiction. However I want to assure members of the House that when I first began this odyssey I naively thought I could sit down with a group of people and develop these indicators. I quickly came to the conclusion, after one particular meeting at which we talked about the spiritual value of a candle flame for an hour, that it was probably better left to people who knew what they were doing.

A couple of people have been of tremendous help. I have to say again that this certainly was not my idea. This idea has been around since Marilyn Waring, a very insightful politician from New Zealand who in the 1970s started talking about the problems associated with how we measure progress.

I want to pay tribute to and thank Mike Nickerson, a gentleman from Merrickville, Ontario, who has written extensively and devoted a great part of his adult life to the issue of sustainability. I also want to thank Ron Colman from Atlantic Canada who developed a genuine progress index that I think goes a long way toward solving what types of things we might go about measuring and how we might go about measuring them.

Canadians can be proud of those people and others in that they have undertaken this issue as almost their life's ambition and have provided us with a tremendous foundation of what we need to do.

As I was looking through the material on this issue, I came across a wonderful document that was produced in the early 1990s called "Energy Efficiency Trends in Canada. It contains over 100 pages and breaks down indicators for energy use. It is fascinating reading. It gives us very clear
insight into the fact that although Canada is a large country and, in absolute
terms, has an abundance of resources, even if we take into consideration
climate and geography, Canadians are energy hogs. We are using far more energy
in this country on a per capita basis than could ever be available if the
third world even started approaching anything remotely close to our standard
of living.

If we had known that in the early 1990s, had that been in the public
domain and had we had a concerned citizenry, I think it would have closed the
loop in terms of governments looking at energy policy and coming up with
energy policies taking that into consideration. Ignoring the fact that we have
waste streams associated with that, sooner or later we will run out of energy.
The costs of running out and the problems associated with that would certainly
be minimized if we were to start addressing the problem sooner rather than

Á (1110)

In terms of the history of this initiative, my own personal involvement is
directly tied to Peter Bevan-Baker, a candidate who ran for the Green Party
in, I think, every provincial and federal election in my riding for a little
over a decade. I would attend these debates initially as a policy advisor to
my father who was the candidate and the member, and then myself.

I was always struck with the passion of Mr. Bevan-Baker's arguments. I
talked to him after one of the debates and told him that I did not disagree
with anything that he had to say in terms of where he thought we needed to go
as a country. Where I had the problem, I told him, and I guess this is rooted
back into my academic background, which is business, is that we had to get
from (a) to (b in a way that people would accept it and support it.

One of the paradoxes that confronts governments is that some of the
decisions they would have to make transcend an election cycle, which means
there has to be an informed public that will support some tough decisions over
the course of five to ten years. The public must have confidence that the
government has taken the steps that will result in the outcomes that are being

I think a set of tracking indicators would be the first step and the first
step only to putting in place a structure where if governments are serious
about addressing energy efficiency or energy usage in this country, if they
are serious about attacking problems, such as illiteracy and poverty, then we
need a way to demonstrate to Canadians that the policies that are being
supported by their tax dollars are actually making the situation better
instead of worse.

I would argue that one of the problems we have now is that we do not have
such a tracking mechanism. What we have is an extreme bias toward economic
indicators. I am not saying that those are necessarily bad. What I am saying
is that they do not give the total pictures.

The analogy I like to use is that the government is driving a bus full of
Canadians and all the Canadians are staring at is this phenomenon. I think
anyone who has driven a vehicle would understand that there are a few other
things we should be keeping our eye on, such as looking out the window and
taking a look at the state of our society, the sustainability of rural
communities and the state of the environment. I think at the end of the day,
if we were to sit Canadians down, those would be the things that they would
say they value.

Unfortunately, in this society we tend to measure what we value and value
what we measure. The bias there is toward economics. Certainly interest rates
are a wonderful test of the functioning of an economy, the health of an
economy and the confidence that capital markets have in an economy.

Gross domestic product is a measure that is widely used. However we must
keep in mind, although I do not want to belabour the point, the GDP makes no
distinction between good expenditures and bad expenditures. Investments in
education count the very same in a GDP calculation as the costs associated
with an automobile accident.

It becomes very clear that although we need economic indicators to
influence an input, the decision making that goes into public policy, we
certainly do not want to have that be the only thing. I would argue that
although they may consider other measures the bias exists. That is what the
motion, hopefully, will have the House deal with, that we have to bring some

The flawed assumption in the current state of measurement or how we
measure well-being is that we are making an assumption that economic activity
and even economic growth directly correlate to improved quality of life and
well-being in this country. I would argue to anyone that that assumption is
flawed. It is not the case. Growth for the sake of growth, if we are not
protecting the environment, energy use patterns, although we may be able to
accept economically because of the abundance of resources in this country,
over the long term will have a detrimental effect on future generations.

What the motion tries to do is expand the measure of wealth. I am not
naive enough to suggest that this is an easy thing to do. I would also argue
that Statistics Canada, one of the best data collecting agencies in the world,
is around the corner. I think a cursory search of secondary information
probably could put together a fairly good set of indicators of information,
such as "Energy Efficiency Trends in Canada, a 110 page document that we are
already doing. We just need to correlate it, put it together and present it to

We must keep in mind what the end game is here. What I hope will happen is
that by reconnecting to Canadians, much like the deficit fight, when we
reflect on that in a non-partisan way in terms of how a government cuts $42
billion in spending and then goes up in the polls, I think people were
tracking it.

Á (1115)

People took an interest in it, understood the importance of it and had a
measure to which to hold their government accountable. I do not want to start
a debate about the rightness or wrongness of the measures that they took to
cut the money, but at the end of the day I think the Canadian population has
shown a tremendous capacity to support responsible action in government.

However the key and the first step is to provide objective information and
put that in the hands of Canadians. I have faith and trust that Canadians will
hold their governments accountable according to the things they value.
Although they value the interest rate, they also value minimizing the number
of people living in poverty in the country. They value the state of the water
and air in our environment, and this measure is a first step to hold
governments accountable.

If governments find they have to move on environmental issues, for
example, we will be unable to improve the state of the environment unless we
take some rather drastic steps. We have to look at tax shift. We have to quit
taxing things that we want to have happen and not taxing things that we do not
want to have happen. We have to look at our tax system and how we can use it
in a classical motivation model to encourage the proper behaviours.

Just to give a quick example of how some of these things might work,
Germany has legislation called lifetime product stewardship legislation.
Essentially under the plan companies that make consumer products, when those
products are no longer useful, the companies have to take them back. They are
not stuck at the curb for a truck to pick up and dump in a landfill site.

A number of things happen when this is done. We find that German
manufacturing now is much less complicated. To the people at home who are
perhaps watching this on television, take a minute and look in the back of the
television set. Why in God's green earth do we have 17 or 18 different kinds
of screws in a television? What we find under regimes where consumer products
are manufactured with lifetime product stewardship legislation in place is
they simplify, reuse and recycle. Over 30% of the parts in BMW cars are now
recycled parts.

At the end of the day it may seem like a rather intrusive move into
markets by government but this initiative is supported not only by the David
Suzuki Foundation, it is also supported by the Canadian Chemical Producers'
Association because they are looking for a set of rules. Nobody benefits if
legislation allows people to pollute. The good companies that want to do the
right thing are eventually put under price pressure to make changes which are
not in the best interest of society.

At the end of the day, pollution pays. We have to address this a different
way and there are things that government can do with the tax system. I am
convinced we will turn this ship and start aiming it in the right direction
but, again, the key is to have the Canadian public on side. The first step to
doing that is to provide them with the most objective information about the
things they value economically, socially and environmentally.

Á (1120)

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to
talk to the motion of hon. member for Leeds"Grenville. I also would like to
acknowledge that just last week I proposed a similar motion on the
environment, the quality of life and contaminants. There is a movement in my
community that deals with health issues that affect a community and make the
quality of life very difficult for people. It also connects them to the
economy, the environment and those contaminants.

Surprisingly the government right now is opposing that motion which fits
hand and glove with the motion before us now. It is shocking to hear one week
later the same arguments. I am glad they are coming from somebody on that
side, but what I would like the hon. member to join me in my motion. More
important, I ask him to address how he will influence the government to take
the necessary measures because our motions are very closely tied.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I
certainly will take a very hard look at his motion. Private members' bills on
this side are not whipped.

As I said, this initiative was first launched in the House in 1998, so I
have been working on it quite a while. There is actually a bill that lays out
the framework for how we might do this structurally. However one thing I found
was the more specific I got with what I was trying to do, the more push-back
there was. That is why I backed off the bill, because it was easy for the baby
to go out with the bathwater if somebody saw one little thing.

Essentially, the process which I would like to see unfold here may also
address the situation about which the member spoke very passionately in his
area. The environment committee is an excellent standing committee in the
House in terms of the work that it does under the chairmanship of the member
for Davenport. Having spent considerable years on that committee, it could
look at what the indicator sets might be. Whether the Auditor General or
perhaps the environmental commissioner would be the reporting mechanism, I do
not know, but we need to undertake a process in this country where Canadians
reflect upon what they value. We are being told they value interest rates and
the GDP. The disconnect leading to environmental and health issues in his
community is the same disconnect leading to environmental health issues in my

Anything we can do in terms of trying to shed some light on the ridiculous
notion that somehow if we take care of the economy, everything else will take
care of itself, I would welcome Therefore I would be more than happy to
consider this motion.

Mr. Brian Masse: Mr. Speaker, to follow up, it is good to hear those
comments but I want to read my specific motion, Motion No. 399:

That this House call upon the government to take the necessary measures,
including the drafting of legislation, to prevent medical conditions and
illnesses caused by exposure to identifiable environmental contaminants.

That would create a trigger to which the government would have to respond,
a very beneficial one for the communities to give public confidence. Then the
information would be brought back to the House to be debated and analyzed, for
a government process.

That specifically is my motion. If the member pushes forward, I would hope
that his motion could join my motion because the member is striking a chord.
Even the OECD is acknowledging now the environmental degradation, the effects
on the economy and how it is unsustainable. To date only the Progressive
Conservatives and the NDP are joining me in this fight

Á (1125)

Mr. Joe Jordan: Mr. Speaker, that is very helpful and the member has
identified a very serious issue. What I would say to the member is at the end
of the day we will have to judge ourselves on whether we move the agenda
forward on that issue. When I was first elected in 1997, one of the
frustrations I had was I was up against some pretty strong forces. Sometimes
it is conspiracy, sometimes it is just disconnect.

My approach is to put it in the hands of Canadians because I do not think
we will find a lot of people willing to go out on a limb around here. The
better approach is to identify a set of solid indicators that certainly would
address his issue in a more holistic way, and then governments will start to
demand that we take action on these things. To me that just seems to be much
more of a long term fix than trying to pick the issues off one at a time.

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker,
I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 385 brought forward by the member for
Leeds--Grenville today. It reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should develop and
report annually on a set of social, environmental and economic indicators of
the health and well-being of people, communities and ecosystems in Canada.

As we heard in the previous discourse that this was a broad motion.
However it has a relatively simple and straightforward purpose which is to
replace gross domestic product as the major indicator of well-being. It would
be replaced with something called the genuine progress indicator, otherwise
known as GPI.

The proponent is quite wise not to get too detailed in his motion. There
is a lot of work to get to where we have an index that will engender wide
ranging support . To launch this index without the appropriate structural
homework would be a mistake.

The current GDP is definitely a poor way to determine how well human
beings are actually doing. Gross domestic product is solely a monetary
measurement which does not take into account factors other than the output of
a nation's economy.

This genuine progress indicator would take into account many factors,
social factors, environmental factors and other indicators. The genuine
progress indicator is a measurement which would introduce values other than
money into our accounting system.

For example, if money were currently spent in British Columbia,
Newfoundland or another jurisdiction for repairing environmental damage from
an oil spill or some other environmental catastrophe, this would record as an
increase in the gross domestic product. This ignores the environmental damage
obviously and focuses only on money. Whereas the genuine progress indicator
would also take the environmental damage into account. We could use other
examples, social, environmental or other matters as well.

Therefore the genuine progress indicator has some very large positives.
What we must recognize, however, is the genuine progress indicator can be, and
I am not saying it will be, easily abused and manipulated if the indicators
built into it are used to skew the results in a way that is designed not so
much to bring a new form of transparency but to make the designers of the
system look good.

This is always a concern when we leave this kind of initiative in the
hands of government because government will unfailingly seek to create a form
of measurement that is self-serving.

One example I could give is one could suggest that the number of factories
located in a certain area would be built into the development of an indicator.
This could be taken as an indicator, for example, of how much pollution is in
the air, or it could indicate a higher number of jobs or it could be skewed to
say a number of other things.

My point is the government or the bureaucracy could use the GPI to justify
almost anything it wanted. Therefore that is probably the biggest hurdle and
reason why GDP, gross domestic product, continues to be the main basis of
comparison because of its predictability and the fact that it can be compared
internationally despite its flaws.

Á (1130)

We need a set of indicators for GPI to which everyone can agree so that we
can get to a comparable and essentially truthful answer rather than a self-
serving answer. The key is to develop a set of parameters and indicators that
are objective.

A recognized objective measurement that many organizations and countries
are beginning to utilize is neither the gross domestic product nor the genuine
progress indicator, but something called the gross domestic product purchasing
power parity. Rather than genuine GPI, some countries are tending to use GDP
purchasing power parity as a more accurate measure of a nation's well-being
because it takes into account the standard of living within that country.

This turned out to be a useful comparison this last month when I was in
Thailand and India with the trade subcommittee because in a developing country
normal measurements of GDP do not tell much about the state of the middle
class or the state of how people in the workforce are actually doing.

Nearly all of the most respected international organizations now use GDP
purchasing power parity to measure economic progress. This includes the World
Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations economic reports.
These groups are utilizing this new measurement. Nearly all reports must take
into account the actual cost of living to express a nation's wealth and well-
being. This new measurement tends to do that.

I am generally supportive of Motion No. 385. At this point in time it is
not developed to the point where I believe it can be implemented usefully.
Adoption of this motion, however, would signal our concern with continued
reliance on and utilization of the GDP measurement.

Expansion to GDP purchasing power parity would be a positive move.
Movement to the genuine progress indicator is also a positive move but needs
an international push and international agreement on data input standards.
Canadian support for this initiative would be a very positive step.

A fair and objective set of measurements is needed. This is something that
needs to be recognized internationally and not something designed for
government to make government look good. This past winter, the Canadian
Alliance set up a sustainable development work group to look at this very
issue. I would like to summarize their findings.

Indicators have been developed to measure progress in achieving
sustainable development objectives, including Nova Scotia's genuine progress
indicator and the World Bank's genuine savings sustainability indicator.
However, quantification and measurement of values based on hundreds of
sustainable development variables, such as soil degradation, pollution,
forestry and fisheries completion, volunteer activity, natural resources
values, et cetera, are extremely complex. We want to adopt sustainable
development indicators.

The GPI, genuine progress indicator, is a work in progress and I support
that initiative.

Á (1135)


Ms. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part
in this debate on Motion M-385, which says:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should develop and
report annually on a set of social, environmental and economic indicators of
the health and well-being of people, communities and ecosystems in Canada.

I must indicate that we will vote against this motion, which well reflects
this government's obsession with wanting to take control of everything and,
once again, interfering in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

This motion follows the discussions held during the National Roundtable on
the Environment and Economy. In its report, the national roundtable proposed
that sustainable development indicators be adopted to ensure that calculations
relating to present and future economic development be enhanced with six new
measures: changes to the Canadian forest cover, freshwater quality, air
quality, greenhouse gas emissions, extent of wetlands, as well as educational

It also wants calculations such as the GDP to be broadened to take human,
social and environmental factors into consideration, while ensuring that the
quality of environmental information is improved.

This is what Mr. Stuart Smith, co-chair of the Environment and Sustainable
Development Indicators Initiative had to say about the six indicators:

You only manage what you measure. Other countries are looking at Canada.
The OECD, for instance, and the World Bank are watching with interest"

What Mr. Stuart called, "ground-breaking work."

He added that it is crucial to keep track of the human and natural capital
in assessing our economic performances.

Mr. Smith greatly insisted on the fact that this study was commissioned by
the former finance minister and Prime Minister in waiting and not the
environment minister. I will come back to the ties between Mr. Smith and the
former finance minister, and you will understand better why Mr. Smith is
backing him.

The roundtable recommended that the finance minister play a leadership
role by agreeing to use the new indicators and helping to set up new
priorities in order to expand the system of national accounts. Statistics
Canada has committed to producing an annual report on the recommended
indicators and, as soon as it gets the resources needed, it will expand the
system of national accounts to include all of the assets. As for Environment
Canada, it has agreed to implement the Canadian Information System on the

What are we to think of this? It is all very well, but the hon. member for
LaSalle--Émard has had ten years to realize that, as far as the economy is
concerned, environmental impacts must be taken into account, as well as the
human and social capital of the world that surrounds us. Yet it is he who
slashed transfer payments to the provinces, among other things.

It is rather odd that this report is coming out now, when the campaign to
replace the outgoing Prime Minister is in full swing.

Do you know who this Stuart Smith is? He is the co-chair of the
Environment and Sustainable Development Indicators committee. At a press
conference, he praised the hon. member for LaSalle--Émard. According to a
report by Charles Côté in La Presse, Mr. Smith is a personal friend of the
hon. member for LaSalle-Émard and a former leader of the Liberal Party of

That said, hon. members will understand my mistrust of this individual and
the fact that we are distancing ourselves from the motion being debated.

Á (1140)

We do basically support the recommendations of the Round Table, as the
federal government has neglected to take these indicators into account, which
should not be viewed as a novelty. When it comes down to it, it is surprising
that it has taken this study to oblige the federal government to make the
appropriate calculations for all these items.

There are some points that need to be clarified, however: what kind of
consultations will there be with the Government of Quebec and the provinces?

We are told these indicators will make it possible to calculate the true
value of the economic capital of Canada, but we must be cautious here. The
population of Canada and Quebec lives in a concentrated area along the border
with the United States, while huge expanses are virtually empty. We fear the
statistics will be misused and will end up letting the federal ministers and
their officials see things through rose coloured glasses.

Another interesting example given at the press conference related to
carbon sinks, an area we know requires further study. The Bloc Quebecois
favours reduction of emissions at the source. The effectiveness of these
carbon sinks is not yet known. We sincerely hope that calculating forest cover
in order to reduce the Kyoto objective is not one of things the aspiring
successor to the outgoing Prime Minister and hon. member for LaSalle"Émard has
in mind.

The concept of a consumption index, such as the "ecological footprint,
could have been chosen, for various reasons; the information collected could
be used as the basis to draft legislation as required, and to encourage more
accurate targeting by federal government initiatives within its fields of
jurisdiction such as fiscal incentives, for example.

Quebec's jurisdiction must be respected, in health, the environment and
management of natural resources.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development notes that
the Liberal government, under the current Prime Minister and under the former
finance minister and member for LaSalle"Émard, has not fulfilled its
sustainable development commitments. This is seen in her October 2002 annual
report. She says:

The federal government is not investing enough"enough of its human and
financial resources; its legislative, regulatory, and economic powers; or its
political leadership"to fulfil its sustainable development commitments.

And she continues:

The federal government says it is managing its fiscal deficits to avoid
leaving a burden for future generations, but its failure to deal in a timely
manner with the environmental legacy of contaminated sites in its own backyard
passes on another burden.

She adds:

Our audit findings this year make me more concerned than ever about the
environmental, social and economic legacy we are leaving our children"we are
burdening them with a growing sustainable development deficit.

In conclusion, while the motion in itself appears worthwhile, we have
doubts about the reasons for the continuing lack, 10 years after the Rio
conference on sustainable development, of solid economic measures, as
presented in the motion.

Since we have no guarantee that reporting on such indicators would not
have an impact on Quebec's sovereignty in its fields of jurisdiction, because
the government is not prepared to establish these indicators in cooperation
with the provinces, and especially with Quebec, we shall vote against this

Á (1145)


Mr. John Herron (Fundy"Royal, PC): Mr. Speaker, it is my responsibility to
enter some remarks for the record on Motion No. 385. As you are aware, Sir,
the motion states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should develop and
report annually on a set of social, environmental and economic indicators of
the health and well-being of people, communities and ecosystems in Canada.

The goal of the motion is to develop a comprehensive set of indicators to
evaluate the well-being of Canadians on an economic, social and environmental
level. If the motion passes, it will actually encourage the probability for
the Standing Committee on Environment to vigorously examine and improve on the
wording of the motion itself. As it stands right now, I would say that the
language of the motion is somewhat vague, but the idea is there and it needs
to be examined. It is a very good and solid first step in bringing forward
this system of indicators. I am proud to say on behalf of the Progressive
Conservative Party of Canada that we fully intend to support this motion.

I believe the idea behind the motion is accountability. Oftentimes
governments, and in particular from a partisan perspective this Liberal
government, have had a history of making promises and commitments that we
never see fulfilled. As reference documents, I suggest hon. members peruse red
books one and two.

It is interesting to note that in February this year the Commissioner of
the Environment and Sustainable Development, Madam Gélinas, appeared before
the environment committee and shared the very same idea that the member for
Leeds--Grenville is advocating here today. In the commissioner's address, she
challenged committee members to pursue the Liberal government to live up to
its Johannesburg commitments. She said action was needed from the government
and committees should serve to help motivate it.

The summit in Johannesburg, in which I was a participant, produced a plan
that contains noble ideas and commitments which indeed need to be followed
through with. As hon. members know, the summit was held to discuss and develop
a plan for sustainable development. In my view, sustainable development
encompasses a wide range of issues, including a state of well-being. Whether
we are talking about biodiversity, health, industry, technology, trade or the
environment, it all falls under one umbrella of sustainable development. We
know that a healthy economy is necessary in a progressive society, but after
all, if we cannot drink the water or breathe the air, what is the point?

The summit reaffirmed sustainable development as an central element of the
international agenda and gave new impetus to global action to fight poverty
and to protect the environment. Governments agreed to and reaffirmed a wide
range of concrete commitments and targets for action to achieve more effective
implementation of sustainable development objectives.

Canada is already forced to comply with the commitments that were made in
Johannesburg. Therefore, it would seem to be a logical progression to
establish a set of indicators within Canada to measure sustainable development
or overall well-being. The commissioner of the environment herself advocated
this approach to the environment committee members. She said that government
must establish an action plan for the future based on the commitments made in
Johannesburg. Further, she went on to say that this progress must be monitored
and tracked.

Those individuals who come from a corporate or business background say
that if we cannot measure it, we cannot manage it, and I think that really
speaks to the intent of the motion itself. We need to avoid the situations
that happened after the Rio convention in 1992, when sustainable development
promises were made by the Progressive Conservative Party but not kept by the
Liberal government; as hon. members might remember, we were downsized a little
bit about a calendar year later. Eleven years later, we do not want to repeat
those very same mistakes.

Á (1150)

Madam Gélinas has recommended that the government produce a report with
long term goals and a destination for Canada to move toward in terms of
sustainability. The motion being debated today on the floor of the House would
effectively push the government in the right direction toward following
through with sustainable development commitments that would ensure the well-
being of Canadians. It would provide for the definition, development and
periodic publication of a set of indicators of the economic, social and
environmental well-being of our country, communities and ecosystems.

Through the motion being brought forward, the committee will have an
opportunity to continue the work that the commissioner of the environment has
outlined and challenged our committee to do. It is extremely important that we
contribute to the overall achievement of developing a plan for sustainable
development in this country. The environment committee could then in turn
receive input from the public through submissions and public hearings to
determine the broad societal values of what such indicators should be based

Once again, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada supports this
private member's motion. As vice-chair of the environment and sustainable
development committee, I must say that I am looking forward to putting my
shoulder to the wheel and helping the member for Leeds"Grenville in this
worthwhile pursuit he has tabled before the House.

Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor"St. Clair, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would like to
start by acknowledging the good work that the member for Leeds"Grenville, the
author of the motion, has put into this issue and, as he indicated to us in
his opening remarks today, for quite an extended period of time.

There is no question that the intent of the motion is to get in place and
then implement indicators of progress, wealth and well-being that are not, in
any significant manner, assessed at this point, so again I congratulate the
member for Leeds--Grenville for having brought forward the motion. As my
colleague for Windsor West has indicated, he is working to a smaller degree in
another area. We hope that all members on the government side will support
both of these motions.

However, in that regard, and it gives me great cause for concern, this
type of index and the promulgation of these types of indicators is not a new
idea. We heard that it came out of Australia and New Zealand in the late 1970s
when it was first enunciated in a general way that we assess our wealth and
our progress in a holistic fashion. That goes back well over 30 years now.

Canada has looked at this issue repeatedly. More specifically, I would
point out that in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the current government
was in opposition, their environmental critic, the member for LaSalle"Émard,
indicated very clearly that this methodology, these indexes or these
indicators, had to be proceeded with and he was in full support. Then, after
the Liberals became the government and that same member became the minister of
finance, and was until quite recently, he was regularly lobbied by
environmental groups and social activists in this country to begin to
establish this index or these indicators. Right up until this time, we do not