A Liberal MP brought his infant daughter into the House of Commons to help make the case that more must be done to combat climate change.
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Terry Beech spoke Monday in support of a Liberal motion for the House to declare a national climate emergency and commit to Canada meeting the greenhouse gas emissions targets outlined in the Paris climate accord.
Beech, who represents the B.C. riding of Burnaby North-Seymour, wore his five-month-old daughter Nova in a carrier throughout his nine-minute remarks.
“This is her first trip to Ottawa. I thought there would be no better opportunity for her to visit this House than during a debate on the defining issue of our generation,” he said.
Beech referenced a dire report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), calling for major cuts to greenhouse gas emissions to try to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C — a level expected to be hit between 2030 and 2052 without dramatic action — rather than the target of 2 C spelled out in the Paris climate accord.
“The IPCC has made our collective impact on the world very clear. Already, the human race has warmed the planet a full degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. If we do nothing, this will increase to 1.5 degrees between Nova’s 12th and 34th birthdays. We are running out of time.”
Beech said the fight against climate change should not be partisan, but rather something that brings parliamentarians together.
“I come to this House everyday hoping to be inspired, not just by my own party but by all of the amazing and talented people Canadians have sent to this place to fight on behalf of our collective futures,” he said. “Working together and alongside our colleagues in the world, I know we can solve this.”
But Beech did take a lighthearted poke at Tories when Nova started to fuss.
“We’ll talk about the Conservative plan later,” he said to her, sparking chuckles.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna later took to Twitter to say Beech and his daughter helped her “remember why we’re here and who we’re doing this for.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has not yet said how he would fight climate change if Tories form government after the fall election. Scheer is set to unveil his climate plan before July.
Scheer has pledged to scrap the Liberal government’s carbon pricing system, which includes a carbon tax of $20 per tonne (rising to $50 per tonne by 2022) on provinces that have not introduced a system up to federal standards. Canadians in those provinces will receive rebates to offset higher costs for gas and heating.
Under the Paris accord, Canada committed to a 30 per cent cut in emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. However, Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand has said Canada is not at all on pace to hit those targets, even with the Liberal government’s carbon pricing system.
The Liberal motion has been seen as an attempt to squeeze Scheer’s Tories to clarify if they will meet Canada’s international climate targets. Though Tory MPs voted in 2017 to implement the Paris accord and Scheer once pledged to meet the targets without a carbon tax, the Tory leader has since appeared to backtrack by saying his plan will “speak to” the targets.
Conservatives have shot back against the Liberal motion by calling on McKenna to “admit” the government’s plan is failing.
An earlier motion from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, which called on Trudeau to declare “an environment and climate emergency” and scrap the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, was easily defeated earlier this month.
In 2017, Beech and fellow B.C. MP Hedy Fry voted against an Opposition motion backing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The pipeline runs through Burnaby.
On Monday, Conservative MP Pat Kelly called on Beech to “confirm right now whether he supports the construction of this project.”
Beech responded that his “record” on the project has been very clear.
“It has always been my priority to represent my constituency’s concerns first,” he said.
“I will go door to door coming into this next election to share with every person how our plan for Canada is going to improve lives, not only for Nova but for all Canadians.”
With a file from The Canadian Press