Ottawa’s environment committee wants all members of Parliament to reduce their carbon emissions by economizing on travel — whether for business or returning home.
One MP told the committee that doing so would mean not following the example of Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, his staff and officials.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Environment Canada has run up more than $700,000 in travel expenses in the past year.
"As the environment committee we have to be careful when we travel," Conservative MP Gérard Deltell told the committee.
The MP contends he does "not like to fly [now] more than ever" as "a lot of people are very concerned with the environmental footprint when we travel."
According to flight records, Guilbeault, his director of communications, chief of staff, executive assistant to the chief of staff and various advisers billed taxpayers a whopping $710,913 in travel expenses last year.
From November 6 to November 18, 2021, taxpayers spent $622,000 in airfares for a 266-member Canadian delegation — including 53 from Environment Canada — to attend the UN Conference on Climate Change in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Guilbeault said the finances reflect the costs incurred by different government departments as of November 21, but do not reflect final costs.
At the time, he claimed ‘climate change’ is an "inescapable reality."
"Climate change can no longer be considered a future threat. It is upon us. Canadians already feel the effects, from droughts to wildfires to shoreline erosion and floods," said the minister.
Other travel destinations included Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Banff, Bella Coola, Berlin, Bogota, Brasilia, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Calgary, Charlottetown, Copenhagen, Denver, Edmonton, Eureka, Fredericton, Florence and Geneva, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.
Environment Canada officials also traveled to Halifax, Hamilton, Helsinki, Interlaken, Iqaluit, Kinshasa, Leipzig, Lisbon, London, Montréal, New Delhi, New York, Niagara Falls, Paris, Québec City, Rome, Saguenay, Santiago, Sapporo, Sarnia, Saskatoon, Smoky Lake, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver, Vaughan, Victoria, Vienna, Washington, Whitehorse and Winnipeg.
"We all know we could do less," acknowledged Liberal MP Adam van Koeverden, parliamentary secretary for the environment.
To reduce emissions, Van Koeverden said he occasionally travelled by train to his riding from Ottawa, adding "We should examine our impact on the environment."
The concerns surrounding the carbon footprint of MPs travel emerged when the committee considered touring a Montréal recycling plant and flying to Alberta to see a tailings pond.
"If we want to travel as a committee we must submit a budget," said Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia, chair of the committee.
"I love Alberta, I love visiting," replied van Koeverden, turning to Conservative MP Tom Kmiec. "Mr. Kmiec, it might be easy for you to visit Alberta."
"I live in Alberta,' replied MP Kmiec. "I don’t visit."