Bill C-7 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.
Lawrence Cannon Conservative
Concurrence at Report Stage
(This bill did not become law.)
April 1st, 2010 / 10:15 a.m.
Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In response to questioning from Mr. Watson, yes, the NDP has fought long and hard on the safety issues, and we did fight on Bill C-6--and later on Bill C-7--because it wasn't simply the whistle-blower content of that bill that was offensive to us. I think the record will show that over and over again.
I'm interested in going back to this policy, because I think the policy is very important here. I'm glad you brought it in front of us. I have some questions. You say that section 5.0 has been added on. When was it added on? In February of 2010?
April 1st, 2010 / 9:30 a.m.
Senior Officer, Research, Canadian Union of Public Employees
On the specific issue of the CBAA, I believe there is a transition period of one year. I understand that Don Sherritt will be leading a consultation process to bring back the old CAR 604 regulations that used to regulate these operators. They hope to do that in a year's time, but I think that is an ambitious timeframe.
In terms of other organizations, if you remember, during Bill C-7, people were saying airports, helicopters... There is a document we put in here, at tab 3, which is their policy to do new initiatives, to do safety partnerships. I think you should review that policy and, if you feel warranted, ask the minister to look at it and rescind that policy as well, so the CBAA experiment will be ended and the way forward...
My understanding is that this policy was introduced by Mr. Reinhardt, who worked for Mr. Preuss. Both of those gentlemen have since retired. Perhaps it's time for the new leadership and the minister to review tab 3 and say, “We don't think we need to go there.” I think that would go a long way towards sending a very clear signal on how to deal with things in this industry.
April 1st, 2010 / 9:05 a.m.
Richard Balnis Senior Officer, Research, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Good morning. My name is Richard Balnis. I am from the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
CUPE represents 600,000 workers across Canada, and our airline division represents 8,500 flight attendants at six airlines in Canada. In front of you are my remarks in English and French. I will deliver my remarks in English. In addition, a book of documents accompanies that presentation. Those documents are also entirely in English and French. The first part of tab 1 has the English, while after the green paper you will find the French. That document is entirely bilingual. I would like to go through my remarks now.
Since they were discussed in 1999, we have been and continue to be critics of safety management systems in aviation. Our submission and accompanying documents address the first point of your specific study into aviation safety, “Transport Canada's Implementation of Safety Management Systems for the Aviation Industry”, and “in particular the delegation of oversight and administration for business aircraft” to the CBAA. We are also prepared to comment on other issues related to flight and duty time for flight attendants, or other issues or questions the committee may have.
When the CBAA approach first became public in 2001, we said that this was industry self-regulation and it was wrong. The CBAA took over certification of business aircraft in January 2003 as a result of a ministerial exemption. We repeated our concerns about the CBAA approach when we appeared before you on May 2, 2007, during your consideration of Bill C-6, later Bill C-7. On December 28, 2007, we released 337 pages of documents under access to information legislation. We have since learned that at the same time that Bill C-6 was before Parliament, Transport Canada inspectors missed serious issues of regulatory non-compliance with regard to how CBAA was conducting its operations.
In tab 1 is our detailed analysis of those 337 pages. I have a set of those documents, which I can leave with the committee. They are in English only. I don't intend to create any controversy by tabling English-only documents, but I can leave it with the clerk if you wish to review it to make sure that what we say in tab 1 is accurate.
We also learned, as you can see in tab 1, that there were serious shortcomings in how CBAA was conducting its operations in other areas as well. Moreover, Transport Canada senior manager Don Sherritt overruled the inspector conducting this audit, who found that the CBAA corrective action plan would be ineffective in addressing these identified deficiencies. To our knowledge, SCOTIC has been told none of this.
As the Transportation Safety Board of Canada reported on its investigation into the crash of Tim Hortons co-founder Ron Joyce at Fox Harbour on November 11, 2007, “Transport Canada did not document its decision to close off the CBAA assessment even though the CBAA had not submitted an acceptable corrective action plan”. In tab 2 you will find, in English and French, the extracts of that report's conclusions. The TSB further found that it took another review, on March 11, 2009, for Transport Canada to conclude that the assessment it had conducted, which ended on September 21, 2007, had been “fully addressed”, nearly eighteen months later.
Fortunately, Minister Baird has finally agreed with us nearly a decade later. As he told media on March 16, 2010, “Right now it's self-regulation for corporate jets...”. Referring to the Fox Harbour crash, he said, “We learned from a recent report that it's simply wrong for industry to regulate itself”.
The CBAA experiment was therefore ended by Minister Baird. It is too bad that it took crashes for this ill-conceived policy to be abandoned. Unfortunately, one could go to the Transport Canada website as late as March 30--Tuesday of this week--and still find a 2009 “Safety Partnership Programs Framework” document, which we've included in English and French in tab 3, which allows similar adventures in delegation to industry and industry self-regulation to continue.
We ask that you recommend to Minister Baird that he cancel this policy approach as well. Let us learn from the lesson of the CBAA.
On the issue of government oversight in an era of SMS, which I think is the central focus of your deliberations, we told you on May 2, 2007, that Transport Canada was implementing a new diminished role for itself under its new SMS regime, contrary to established international norms. At that time, we quoted Transport Canada assistant deputy minister Marc Grégoire, who said that there will be a “shifting relationship” between airlines and Transport Canada under its new SMS regime. As he said on April 25, 2006:
There must also be a willingness on the part of the regulator to step back from involvement in the day-to-day activities of the company in favour of allowing organizations to manage their activities and related hazards and risks themselves.
Despite the claims that things were changing when Transport Canada representatives appeared before you on March 30, 2010--and some of those changes are overdue and welcome--there will be no change in this fundamental approach. If you do not believe us, look at Transport Canada's own documents dealing with SMS and government surveillance, which we've included in our documents.
On March 22, 2010, less than two weeks ago, Don Sherritt provided participants at a CARAC consultation meeting with the document found in its entirety at tab 4, in English and French. As you can see in the marked passage on page 3 in the English version and on page 1 of the French, SMS and performance-based regulations and standards will permit “each operator to manoeuvre within the designed 'playing field' based upon their targeted risk indices and safety requirements”. In our view, that is an unprecedented level of air operator autonomy from government oversight.
We were further told at that meeting that government oversight in this environment of operator manoeuvrability would be conducted in accordance with Transport Canada staff instruction SUR-001, entitled “Surveillance Procedures”, which is also reproduced in its entirety in tab 5. There are 66 pages in English and 72 pages in French. The fundamental premise of this approach is that government surveillance is designed to ensure that the operators have procedures in place to comply with regulations, not that inspectors will ensure compliance with regulations.
As an explanation of what you were told on Tuesday, if there are sufficient resources remaining, there “may” be other government surveillance activities to ensure such government regulatory compliance, such as the inflight or ramp inspections that were mentioned to you. Please, in particular, see section 5.0; that passage has been added in the last two months.
While this is an important addition to earlier editions of this document, there are still significant problems with SUR-001. First, these supplemental surveillance activities are discretionary and entirely dependent upon resources. Without adequate resources, these supplemental surveillance activities will not be done, although they are there on paper. Second, these surveillance activities are important in themselves. As you will see in tab 6, the Atlantic region of Transport Canada disagreed with the Ottawa head office approach of having only higher-level oversight activities, such as program validation inspections, enhanced monitoring, and assessments, because "they do not address day-to-day oversight of companies and do not include intelligence-gathering activities, which are important in providing data for safety monitoring". That is in tab 6 in its entirety.
Finally, in tab 7 we have prepared a case study of maintenance violations in 2007 at Southwest Airlines, a major American air operator. As that analysis shows--and if we have time in questioning, we can spend more time on it--it is only through mandatory, no-notice, and hands-on inspections, with effective whistle-blowing protection for front line inspectors who have to go against managers who may have cozy relationships with the operators they oversee, that the public's safety can be assured.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. We have other comments as well, including the lack of any flight and duty time limitations for flight attendants, something we have been seeking without success from Transport Canada since 1991.
We look forward to your questions on anything we've presented and on any other area that you would like to question us on.
November 30th, 2009 / 4:55 p.m.
Airline Coordinator, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Canada
There are too many conflicting and competing interests, and there are too many humans involved in the process. It is therefore bound to fail.
I've seen some of the examples already, such as the ones I have listed, and I'm sure there are more. I've gathered these in just the last two or three weeks, and there are more out there. It's just a matter of getting people to be comfortable enough to come forward and tell me.
They're telling me that the system is failing, just as it has in the States. I know the Americans don't have SMS in place, but they have a rigorous system in place under which they do spot checks, and yet Southwest was caught with its pants down. What does that tell you--if they put in SMS it's going to get better? I mean, they were purposely hiding from the FAA the fact that they weren't doing these inspections, so why would SMS make it any better? They're already telling you that they're not professionals, that they're not acting in the best interests of their passengers and safety, so why would SMS make it any better? It just gives you another tool to therefore continue to operate in the way you have been so that nobody will find out what's going on.
The difference between the Americans and us is that they have a much better whistle-blower protection system in place. They've done a lot of research into it; we have not. I believe ours is still sitting in the bill somewhere on one of the shelves in Parliament. Bill C-7 hasn't come forward yet.
February 26th, 2009 / 4:45 p.m.
Lobbyist, Teamsters Canada
Again, the devil is in the detail. I did talk in my presentation about the so-called smart regulations—which leads us to safety management, which leads us to oops.
In terms of safety management systems or best business practices, you don't require a government agency plan to do that. Basically, it's deregulation because business knows best. That's why I like the use of safety plans.
One example, because it came up the other day, was brother Bernardino. On August 26, 2003, two million pounds of frozen food fell on him in VersaCold. I went down a couple of years ago to tour the plant. The HR director showed me all the stuff he was doing, way above anything required by regulation. I was astounded. I asked why. He said somebody had died on his watch and it wasn't going to happen again. He wanted to see if we could get the government to enact or “prescribe” regulations, which was a bad word. Nobody wants to do it.
The last question I asked him was, “How much does it cost?” He said, “Cost? It saves us a fortune.” He said every time he goes to the board of directors they say to him, “Do more safety; it's really good.”
At the end of the day, when you talk about safety management systems, which is something we have universally been attacking, why I like safety plans is that they are something that companies can do without regulation. They don't require it. But really, it comes to Mr. Greenspan's oops.
When it comes to security and to safety, at some benchmark level we believe it's up to you to make sure that it's there. That's why the one amendment we asked for in the bill was the same amendment we had in Bill C-7, to allow the two transport committees to review regulations made under safety.
The answer is yes, we'll have to sell this bill, and we will.
Nuclear Liability and compensation Act
June 19th, 2008 / 1:35 p.m.
Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Western Arctic quite rightly points out that it is the absence of a cohesive plan, an overall central strategy that is worrisome, because often these piecemeal bits and pieces are at the whim or the will of an aggressive corporate lobby. They are individual incidents but they create a motif or a theme.
We recently dealt with Bill C-7 where the government is dismantling the safety associated with the air transportation system. Now we are dealing with the nuclear industry where the government is dismantling the safety provisions in the nuclear industry. I would suggest that not one person in this House should vote on this bill until they have read Dr. Helen Caldicott's book, Nuclear Power is Not the Answer. I implore members to get the book out of the library and read it. I will put it back today because I have read it.
I want to point out that the nuclear safety record in the world when compiled is a staggering and horrifying list. We have the explosion and combustion of the graphite reactor core in Pripyat, Ukraine that spread radioactive material over much of Europe. That was not in 1956 at the advent of the nuclear age. That was in 1986. Some 300,000 people had to be evacuated from the fallout areas.
We would think that would have ground the nuclear industry to a halt and that it would have regrouped to ensure that could never, ever happen again. However, in 1989, in Greifswald, Germany, fuel damage operators disabled three of the six cooling pumps. However, instead of the automatic shutdown, the fourth pump failed causing excessive heating which damaged and exposed 10 fuel rods. Workers again were hurt.
Earlier that year, at Hamm/Uentrop power station in Germany, fuel damaged spherical fuel pebbles became lodged in a pipe used to deliver fuel elements.
The technology is so complex that every step of the way is fraught with potential failures. I am a tradesman. I am a carpenter by nature and I have been in installations of hydroelectric dams. I have never worked on a nuclear power plant but I know the complexity associated with generating energy and the room for failure in a hydroelectric dam when it stops producing energy for a while.
The possibility for failure in an incident associated with a nuclear power plant is that it can devastate whole communities, whole regions and contaminate them for generations to come. However, the government is trying to pass a bill today that would put the maximum liability on any nuclear company that has this kind of a nuclear incident, for Monty Burns, $650 million, which is peanuts. A couple of hundred people alone who were affected by some of these accidents would easily burn that up in the liability lawsuits that are bound to follow.
Somewhere out there Homer Simpson is running a nuclear power plant. Somewhere out there Monty Burns is lobbying the Conservative Government of Canada today to ensure the safety regulations are not too onerous because “How am I supposed to make a buck cranking out nuclear energy if you make me pay for my mistakes?”.
I put it to the government that if we are looking to nuclear power to meet our energy needs in the coming decades, we are not trying hard enough. In fact, we have ignored the obvious and we have embraced the outdated technology.
The post-war era was tragic in many respects. The petrochemical industry, the asbestos industry and the nuclear industry ran amok. We are just beginning to realize that we have soiled our own nest to the point where we can hardly live here any more if we do not change our ways.
We do not want to see the Darlington nuclear power plant doubled in size. We want to see it shut down. We want to see clean energy from demand-side management, from energy retrofitting, from solar and wind energy. We do not want to see the industry contemplating the next generation of nuclear power.
Some of us believe it was a mistake. We believe that a government with some vision and leadership would have done more than expand or compound the problem. We also believe that an opposition party with some leadership would come up with something better than the carbon tax that it is flogging today, because it will not tax the guy who drives the Hummer. The people who are trying to heat their home in the western Arctic at $800 a month for home heating fuel will to pay the carbon tax. The guy driving the Hummer will pay nothing because it is excluded.
The government will take money from the person in the western Arctic heating their home but give a tax break to the guy driving the Hummer. That is the most convoluted, pretzel logic I have ever heard in terms of meeting a well-defined environmental problem.
We have been let down by both sides of the House today, with the exception of this little end where the NDP lives, where people are hearing some reasoned debate. The Conservatives have let us down with Bill C-5, hobnobbing with nuclear lobbyists again. I believe they have fallen victim to a bunch of clever lobbyists again. We have been let down by the official opposition as well because those members have come up with something that will suck all the life out of the debate about reducing carbon emissions.
We only get one shot to capture the public's imagination, if we are to talk about limiting carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the debate is going to be about defeating this bad idea instead of being about solutions. We are going to have to waste our energy defeating the government's bad idea first before the genuine debate can begin.
Nuclear Liability and compensation Act
June 19th, 2008 / 1 p.m.
Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for this opportunity to continue on the same vein as my colleague from Vancouver East with our concerns and reservations about Bill C-5, the nuclear liability and compensation act.
I actually asked for permission to join in this debate. I came sprinting to the Commons from my office in West Block hoping for the opportunity to rise and speak to this bill. I noticed there was another debate going on the last time I tuned in on my television and that seems to have collapsed. When this bill came on, I said to myself, “Self, this is a bill that you want to be involved in. You want to be on the record”.
I said that to myself, partly because one of the most important books to come across my desk in recent memory is one that a colleague sent to me. It is written by Dr. Helen Caldicott, a name that many of us remember well, a well-respected, internationally acclaimed scientist. The title of her book is, Nuclear Power is not the Answer.
Dr. Caldicott felt compelled to write this book because, as the world grapples with the obvious risks to the environment by greenhouse gas emissions, it is tempting, seductive almost, to revisit nuclear power as perhaps the source of energy that might not contribute to global warming. In the temptation to be lured in that direction, we fear, and she fears in her book, the world is overlooking the potential risk and the gaps in the technology that cannot give assurance to the world's citizens that this is the right way to go.
We in the NDP were alarmed in that sense when Bill C-5 was introduced. We spoke against it immediately, saying that the last thing we want to do at this point in time, when the world is being attracted to revisit nuclear energy as a viable option, is in any way diminish, undermine or deregulate the safety regime associated with the nuclear energy system as we know it. It is a shocking idea. As I said, I want to build off the comments of my colleague from Vancouver East. It seems to be a worrisome motif, a hallmark almost of the corporate sector today, that it is trying to further deregulate and undermine the environmental standards and reviews that are necessary.
As the world becomes more aware, we become more insistent on developers and industries to be more compliant and to be more sensitive to environmental issues. That is a nuisance to them. They have been forced by the general public to go in a direction they do not want to go. The only way they can maintain the status quo or even diminish the status quo in terms of safety is by regulation. Bill C-7, which was before the House earlier this week, is along the same vein. It would dismantle or certainly diminish a safety regime.
I asked a page to go to the Library of Parliament, that wonderful resource, and bring me a copy of Dr. Helen Caldicott's book, Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer. To her credit she found it in jig time. I strongly recommend it to all of my colleagues in the House of Commons, in the context of debating this bill. They should pick up this book and go through some of the important points that this internationally well-respected scientist cautions us about. I am just going to read some of the titles of the chapters. I am not going to read from the book at any great length.
Dr. Caldicott goes through the whole costing of nuclear energy. As seductive as nuclear energy is, even on the face value, it is extremely expensive. She spends one chapter chronicling the whole cost of nuclear energy when we contemplate the insurance, never mind the cost of cleanup if there was in fact, God forbid, an accident, and the pollution, et cetera. I will come back to Dr. Caldicott in a minute.
I think we are better than this. I think we are better than expanding our nuclear system in the context of meeting our energy demands and needs. Let me explain what I mean by that.
I used to be the head of the carpenters union, the head of the building trades union in the province of Manitoba. The government of Manitoba lost a major power deal with the province of Ontario. The hydroelectric power sale somehow fell apart which resulted in the cancellation of a hydroelectric dam. That would have employed 1,500 of my members for five years. I was running the carpenters union at the time. It was devastating. It forced us to take stock, to do some research as to how we might cope with the loss of the job creation opportunities associated with building a hydro generating station.
I commissioned some research. We published a report called, “A Brighter Future--Job Creation through Energy Conservation”. We compared the job creation opportunities in a large megaproject such as the Darlington nuclear power station, which it has just been announced they intend to double in size. Let me backtrack. The original bill for Darlington was going to be $4 billion. By the time the dust settled, it was turned on and it generated its first unit of energy, the bill was $15 billion and I do not think they have finished spending yet.
What we learned in the comprehensive study, and I raise this in the context of Bill C-5, is that demand side management of our precious energy resources is far smarter than the supply side management in a number of significant ways.
A unit of energy harvested from the existing system by energy conservation measures is indistinguishable from a unit of energy produced at a generating station, except for a number of key important things. First, it is available at one-third the cost. The unit of energy that we harvested from the existing system by eliminating waste and by energy conservation measures is available at one-third the cost of generating a new unit of energy at a hydroelectric dam or nuclear power station.
The second great advantage is that the new unit of energy is online and available immediately. In other words, the second we turn off a light switch in a room, that unit of energy conserved is available to be used at the house next door or to be sold offshore internationally. We sell a lot of power from Manitoba to Minnesota and the states directly south of us.
If we had an east-west grid for electricity, we could in fact close down every coal-fired plant in Ontario by selling them clean hydroelectricity from Manitoba. I think most Ontarians would be happier to get cheap clean power from Manitoba instead of expensive dirty power from coal-fired generating stations or, God forbid, risky electricity from nuclear power stations.
Another advantage between demand side management units of energy, or units of energy harvested from the existing system and ones produced at a generation station, is the lag time where one does not have to borrow money to do it. In fact, many energy retrofits can be done through a process where the upfront cost is paid for, free of charge to the property owner, and the financier is paid back out of the energy savings over the next three, five or seven years. That is a great system. It is sweeping the Building Owners and Managers Association, those property owners that own skyscrapers and large institutional, commercial and industrial buildings because their energy costs are going through the ceiling. They can have off balance sheet financing to renovate and energy retrofit those buildings for which they do not pay a single penny. They pay it out of the energy savings over the next three to five years until that renovation is complete.
The federal government would be a perfect place for that. You would be surprised to learn, Mr. Speaker, or maybe you would not be surprised to learn because, being in charge of the parliamentary precinct, you do supervise a great number of publicly owned buildings, there are 68,000 federally owned buildings in Canada, many of which were built during a period of time when we were wasteful in our design and usage of energy. They are energy hogs, really. They are wasteful. There have been some legitimate efforts to try to upgrade and modernize those buildings to make them less wasteful, but there has never been a comprehensive plan to deal with a significant number of these buildings.
Imagine what a demonstration project that would be, if the federal government of the day actually engaged in energy retrofitting thousands of these buildings that are owned by the-
Nuclear Liability and compensation Act
June 19th, 2008 / 1 p.m.
Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Hamilton Mountain for rising to speak on her concerns about the bill and I am sure she will be speaking later on it as well at greater length. She echoes my concerns and those of the NDP. I would point out that Gordon Edwards, who is the president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, has said that any vote for this bill would be taken as an approval of nuclear power. It is a concern about the safety standards and the fact that the bill, as part of a larger privatization agenda that the government is so eager to rush forward on, is something that damages the public interest.
I am very glad that the member mentioned Bill C-7 which is the next bill behind that because it is exactly the same kind of track. It is a track of privatization. It is a track of deregulation. It is a track of putting the public interest below private interests and that is exactly what we do not want to see. A majority of Canadians believe we are here in this place to protect their interests, particularly when it comes to questions of significant liability around a nuclear incident and accident.
As the member has pointed out, people may be impacted by an accident and they may receive significant health concerns as a result, or that may manifest itself in a future generation if it were something that was very serious. People want to know that they have legal protection.
Yet, it seems to me the protection that is provided in the bill is really shortsighted. It is minimal. It is at the bottom of the international standings of what these protections are all about. Why would Canada, as is commonly phrased, be racing to the bottom? Why would we not be ensuring that we are leading the way with standards, whether it is on the environment, labour rights, or social standards?
This is part of a huge agenda that is taking place globally where we see a stranglehold of multinational corporations who want to advance the capacity for greater profitable gains at the expense of environmental degradation and a loss of standards for people who work in an industry. This bill is very much a part of that kind of agenda. Another reason we should say no to it.
Nuclear Liability and compensation Act
June 19th, 2008 / 12:55 p.m.
Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON
Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague from Vancouver East and the member of Parliament for Western Arctic for doing such an exceptional job in talking about nuclear liability and why it is that we feel so strongly about needing to oppose this bill.
As she so eloquently pointed out, the $650 million cap is an international minimum and is completely inadequate for protecting the interests of Canadians. I think she covered that area extremely well and frankly passionately on behalf of Canadians who want us here in the House to protect public interests.
I know the member could have talked about this for hours. I wonder if I could take her into that other area of the bill which deals directly with nuclear safety. We are in the dying days of the session and suddenly we are in this rush to get through a number of pieces of legislation, this is not the only one, that in a very real way undermine the safety of hard-working Canadian families.
The other example is Bill C-7, where we are talking about safety in the airline industry. The government is very eager to throw caution to the wind in favour of protecting its friends in the industry. I think we are doing the same thing here when it comes to the nuclear industry.
Let me remind folks who are watching today what the bill is about. The bill will shortchange ordinary Canadians who would become sick and/or die from a nuclear accident, or who would lose all they owned because of contamination, or who would lose a family member who would die from cancer or radiation sickness. These are the people we need to protect and we have that opportunity by opening up this legislation.
Our critic from the Western Arctic put amendments in place that would have protected Canadians' safety. I wonder, with whatever little time the member for Vancouver East has remaining in this debate, if she could focus on the safety aspect of this legislation.
Nuclear Liability and compensation Act
June 19th, 2008 / noon
Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to speak to Bill C-5 regarding nuclear liability.
What is the cost of cleaning up a nuclear accident? We had a nuclear accident in the 1940s in New Mexico and a series of nuclear accidents in the 1950s in Russia, in Chalk River, Ontario and in Illinois. If I have time later, I will go through some of the examples.
However, the nuclear accidents that captured the public's attention the most were Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Windscale.
I pay a lot of attention to Chernobyl because we have seen a huge increase in the rate of thyroid cancer in children and families in Chernobyl. I know a lot about thyroid cancer because I have thyroid cancer and after studying the disease I noticed that one of the causes was exposure to nuclear reactors, nuclear waste or nuclear radiation.
Thyroid cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the world, aside from skin cancer, although both have a growth rate of about 5% per year.
What is the cost of helping survivors of this disease? Once the thyroid has been removed, people will need to take certain types of drugs for the rest of their life. The cost of the drugs, in a country where there may not be adequate health care or pharmacare, could be enormous. Therefore, it is absurd that the bill would limit the liability of a nuclear accident to only $650 million. It costs so much more, not only for each individual, but also to repair all the damage that is inflicted by a nuclear accident.
The liability for a nuclear accident in U.S. is $10 billion. The Canadian amount of $650 million is at the bottom of the heap according to the international standard. Yes, Canada is well known to be at the bottom of the heap with regard to the international standard, not only on nuclear liability but also with regard to nuclear waste. Nuclear waste lasts for thousands and thousands of years. It is a good comparison to look at something that lasts for that length of time versus something that is so much about our future, our children.
The children of Canada are our first concern because they are our future. Canada is not only at the bottom of the heap in terms of nuclear liability and the $650 million limit if this bill passes, but we are in fact putting our children, in terms of our investment in a national child care program, also at the bottom of the OECD heap.
In terms of liability, in Germany there is no limit. Not only Germany but a lot of European countries are moving more toward unlimited liability limits. As the world is going in one direction, Canada is going backwards as usual by saying that we are going to cap the liability at $650 million. Also, no private insurance would be made available.
That actually says to a lot of the cities and areas around nuclear plants that they are only worth $650 million. If there is a nuclear accident, it would cost billions of dollars in damage, personal injury and death, so who would pay? Let me answer that question in a minute, because this is the critical situation. If it is not the corporation that is paying, who is paying?
That is why the New Democrats, at the committee and at report stage, moved 35 amendments. We took the Liberal Party at its word. In the House of Commons in October of last year, the Liberal critic said:
--this is a very important bill and I will be recommending to my caucus and my leader that we support it and send it to committee. In committee we will be doing our job as official opposition listening to stakeholders and experts, and we will review the bill in detail.
However, as usual, the Liberals are missing in action. They try to say that they really are worried about the nuclear industry, but they are not sure whether they are saying yes to nuclear industry expansion. They were saying that maybe the liability was too low, maybe they would amend this, and maybe they would study it.
After all of that discussion, what did they do? They did not bring in any amendments whatsoever. We are not surprised, are we? The Bloc did bring in a few amendments, which were nothing that would fundamentally alter the bill, but it did not matter, because the amendments from the Bloc and the New Democratic Party were defeated. Why? Because the Liberals did not support any of them, even though they said publicly that they were extremely concerned about nuclear safety.
As members may recall, when there was a shutdown at AECL, the Liberals were saying that safety is really important. They said that we must invest in safety. As for the history of AECL, for example, there was hardly any investment in the last 15 years. What the Conservative Party is doing right now, after firing Ms. Keen because she said that perhaps it was not very safe, is to sell AECL and privatize it.
I notice that the Conservatives have not met an issue that they do not want to privatize. They are privatizing the airline industry safety measures in Bill C-7, which we are debating. It is about privatizing airline safety so that the airlines would police themselves. The Conservatives are saying not to worry, to let them do their own thing.
On immigration, it is the same thing. They are saying to privatize it, to give the contracts to the visa office and let those private companies deal with it.
It is the same thing here in Bill C-5. If there is a problem, the government is saying, we will let the taxpayers pay for it. But $650 million is not enough. It will take many billions of dollars. Who is going to carry the costs of cleanups?
Who is going to carry the cost of cleaning up of the Great Lakes if Pickering has some trouble? Who is going to clean up the environment? Who is going to deal with the people who develop ill health? It will be the taxpayers, not the industry. The government does not worry about taxpayers. It will let the industry do its own thing. In fact, this legislation is a big yes to the nuclear industry.
I note that the Conservatives want to sign on to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership and turn Canada into a nuclear waste dump for those who do not have space for nuclear waste. Canada is a big country. Maybe they can put some of it here, because after all, if there are any problems, the liability would be capped at only $650 million. Do not worry about it, that is the attitude, and do come to Canada, even though we know there is no long term nuclear waste storage solution in the world.
For example, let us look at cleanups. There are huge and expensive cleanups. Port Hope is stuck with a huge number of problems that it has to clean up. The Northwest Territories is another example.
Nuclear waste remains deadly even after thousands and thousands of years. The bill in front of us is saying that the government will not have to worry about this waste, that taxpayers can handle it. That is extremely unfortunate. Why? Because many of the municipalities in southern Ontario are saying no to this kind of reckless behaviour.
Let me give the House an example. Twenty years ago, Guelph had a record of being one of the best cities in terms of dealing with waste management. Now, with the new mayor, the entire city is focusing on how to have zero waste. Guelph wants a big reduction in the amount of waste.
Last weekend, a conference was held in Niagara Falls. It was put together by the Ontario Zero Waste Coalition. The coalition is looking at a situation in which companies that have waste take on the responsibility for that waste. For example, Interface is a big carpet company. If someone buys a new carpet from Interface, it takes the old one back.
We are seeing a trend toward this, which is that people and companies must take care of their products, whether it is the waste or the packaging. That is the direction the world is taking. We should do the same thing with nuclear waste.
If there is a nuclear installation, we want make sure that its waste is taken care of and that if there is an accident, the liability limit is unlimited, or at least to a standard that is extremely high, in the billions of dollars, for example, not this measly $650 million in Bill C-5.
That is why I am astounded that the Liberals and the Bloc will not do everything they can to block this bill. This bill really limits the civil liability and compensation for damage in the case of a nuclear accident. We know there has been a series of accidents in the past. I have a long list of them. How can it be possible that on the last day of this sitting of the House of Commons we get no debate but only complete silence from both the official opposition and the Bloc?
Are they not worried about their residents, their voters, discovering that in the last few sitting days of the House of Commons before the summer break we allowed a bill of this nature to pass? How can we possibly do that?
Do we think that people in southern Ontario, where there are big nuclear plants, are not worried that if there are even more nuclear reactors being built the company liability would be only $650 million? What is the worth of a city? Let us look at Guelph. What is the worth of the Great Lakes? What is the worth of Aurora, right beside Guelph? I went to the University of Guelph for a short period of time. There is the city and the zoo and a great number of places. In Pickering, it is the same thing.
How can we say that if there is an accident it would cost $650 million and we could repair everything that is damaged? Just for the lake itself, cleaning up the water would cost $650 million, never mind the health damages and contamination of all the buildings in the area.
Let me tell members about some of the nuclear leaks. I will start with recent ones. In Tennessee in March 2006, 35 litres of a highly enriched uranium solution leaked during a transfer into a lab at the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Erwin. What happened? The incident caused a seven month shutdown and required a public hearing on the licensing of the plant.
A company wanting to build a new plant and seeing a liability of only $650 million perhaps might think that it could skip a few safety standards. Maybe it would not do everything that it should to ensure that it has the safest nuclear facility because, after all, the liability is only $650 million.
Further, by the way, the bill also says that a person would have to take action within three years of becoming aware of damage, with an absolute limitation of 10 years after an incident. In the case of bodily injury, the limit is 30 years.
However, we know, and I know personally, that cancers and genetic mutations, et cetera, will not appear for at least 20 years following exposure. That is why in Chernobyl for the first 10 to 15 years it was not very obvious. It was only 20 to 30 years later that we began to see the huge rates of thyroid cancer, other cancers and genetic mutations in the future generations, with the children suffering.
By that time, according to this bill, it would be too late. No one could sue or do anything because of the time limit.
The bill also restricts liability to Canadian incidents except when there is an agreement in place with another country and the operators are Canadian. What happens if the operators are not Canadian? They could be German, Chinese or American. Does it mean that the operators would not be liable? That is outrageous. How can we possibly allow this bill to pass?
I have at least 14 pages of nuclear accidents since 1945. There are hundreds of them, and each of them has had serious implications. Let me list another one. In 2005, in Illinois--