House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was promise.

Topics

Canada Elections Act
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is there unanimous consent to suspend the business of the House until noon?

Canada Elections Act
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Sitting suspended at 11.36 a.m.)

The House resumed at 12.01 p.m.

Canada Elections Act
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

The Speaker

The House is now in session. I am going to hear a point of order from the hon. whip of the Reform Party.

Points Of Order
Private Members' Business

October 28th, 1996 / 11:30 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, October 22 the member for Wild Rose brought to your attention a matter that occurred at the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. It was a serious matter regarding a breach of Standing Order 114. It was suggested that because it appeared to be an inadvertent act, the issue could be resolved at committee.

I brought the issue back to the committee because, as whip of the party, I was the one who applied Standing Order 114. When I applied the standing order on behalf of my caucus I had certain expectations.

I am aware that committees are masters of their own proceedings. I have experienced and have been frustrated by some internal majority supported rules in the past. What is comforting is that the rules of the House take precedence over the rules of the committees. This lends some predictability and some protection, particularly for those of us in opposition.

The problem arose on Monday, October 21. The member for Wild Rose was substituting on the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs and attempted to table a motion at that committee meeting. He was told that he could not do that. The reason given by the chair was the fact that he was only a substitute. The chair based her reasoning on an internal rule where 48 hours' notice is required to move a motion.

I refer you to Beauchesne's sixth edition, citation No. 766(1). It describes the status of a non-member. It states that they can participate, but "they may not vote, move motions nor be a part of any quorum". Voting, moving motions and being a part of a quorum is a privilege enjoyed by a permanent member.

However, it is the nature of the work of members of Parliament to be out of Ottawa on occasion, or to have commitments in the House while their committee is meeting. A procedure has always existed to allow for other members to substitute for permanent members. In our present standing orders this procedure is covered under Standing Order 114. The relevant section of the standing order that I applied reads as follows:

At any time-the Chief Whip of any recognized party may effect substitutions by filing notice thereof with the clerk of the committee, having selected the substitutes from among all the Members of his or her party-and such substitutions shall be effective immediately they are received by the clerk of the committee.

This procedure is effective because the substitute is given the full status of a permanent member while the substitution is in force. That full status means the authority to vote, move motions and be part of quorum.

The chair of the committee argued that the member is only a substitute for the day and therefore could not table the motion. Mr. Speaker, if you cannot table a motion at this committee you cannot move a motion. If you cannot move a motion then you are breaching the authority granted the substitute under Standing Order 114. In other words, the committee has redefined the status of a substitute.

Not only is a standing order diminished but a longstanding practice is being ignored. Unlike the House where unanimous consent is required by a private member to table a document, at committee a member can table anything he or she wants. A member can table a document, a letter or a motion. Considering that a substitute has the status of a member while signed in, that substitute can then table a document, letter or motion.

There was concern about whether or not the member for Wild Rose would be signed in for a subsequent meeting to move his motion, provided he was allowed to table the motion. It is not a matter for the chair of that committee to decide or even speculate on that. It is up to the party whips with the authority granted to them under Standing Order 114 to determine the status of their members who attend. It is the House that determines the membership and outlines of procedure and authority for the substitutes, not the chair or the committee majority. That is up to the House in its rules. Such a decision by the chair or by that committee to say that they pre-empt the standing orders of this House borderlines on contempt.

The chair of the justice committee also argued that because another member could table and move a motion on behalf of the substitute that no harm was done.

Mr. Speaker, you were once a chairman of a committee and you know full well it is not uncommon for a small opposition party not to have a permanent member present at a meeting. There are often substitutes representing a party at committee. That is commonly done. Sometimes this is due to the business a committee is dealing with and the wide variety of interests within a particular caucus. Sometimes, as I pointed out to the chair of the committee, someone will be substituted in a committee week after week in order to fulfil the role that the party has asked the member to fill and to reflect his or her interest in the subject matter.

Under these circumstances my party would be unable to table a motion and therefore be unable to move a motion. The committee is telling the House and every party whip of the House that no longer can they just send substitutes to a committee in order to be functional, they now have to ensure that a permanent member is present.

Before this internal rule we could send whomever we determined appropriate in order to fulfil the requirements of our party and our caucus. We did so under the authority of the House. What has happened to that authority? The justice committee has dictated a new criteria for party whips. Standing Order 114 does not mean what it once meant and the tail is wagging the dog.

On June 16, 1994 there was a similar case regarding Standing Order 114. The chairman of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs allowed a member who was not legally signed in to move motions, vote and be part of quorum. Although he was aware of the irregularity, he continued to allow the member to participate as a substitute.

The matter was brought to the House the next day by the member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley. The member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley questioned the chair's primary responsibility to ensure that the committee operated under the rules established by the House of Commons. Although, Mr. Speaker, you rarely rule on proceedings of a committee, this case was a clear breach of Standing Order 114.

In your ruling, Mr. Speaker, you said:

In the matter now before us, I must conclude that this is serious enough to require the intervention of the Chair because it concerns a fundamental right which belongs to the House and not to the committee, namely the right to establish the membership of a committee.

You went further, Mr. Speaker, and stated that:

While it is a tradition of this House that committees are masters of their own proceedings, they cannot establish procedures which go beyond the powers conferred upon them by the House.

We are in the same situation today. This time a member was legally substituted in, but was denied the privileges of that status under Standing Order 114.

Mr. Speaker, when I brought this matter to the committee, as you asked me to do, the chair upheld the rules of the committee over the rules of the House. Your last ruling regarding Standing Order 114 is clear. The committee has no business interfering with the right of the House to establish the membership of a committee. It has no right to diminish the status of a substitute member and it has no right dictating to the party whips membership requirements in excess of what is already in our standing orders.

Standing Order 114 gives a substitute the authority to table, vote, move motions and be part of quorum. The committee, in the case I have cited, has gone beyond the power conferred on it by the House by denying a substitute the right to table and move a motion.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to make a ruling on this to clarify the matter. I have gone to the committee as you have requested but I have not received satisfaction there. I think it is obviously a clear contravention of your previous ruling and the rules of the House.

Could I please ask you to rule on this so that our members and all party whips will know where they stand on this. It is a serious matter which I believe you will take in the seriousness in which it is offered.

Points Of Order
Private Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, I want to apprise the House that this is the first instance that this matter has come to my attention. I fully understand that my hon. colleague, the Reform Party whip, to the best of his ability and with the facts as he knows them, is defending the interests of his colleague, the member for Wild Rose. I think his intention is to defend the best interests of committees in general.

However, I submit as a point of verification that in the justice committee the member in question in that most recent incident referred to by my colleague from Fraser Valley East, the member for Wild Rose, is an associate member.

I would also like to inform the Chair that the two members of the Reform Party, who for lack of a better expression I will refer to as full members of the committee, were present at the committee at that time. Under those circumstances and possibly there were others, I certainly understand the Reform Party whip raising this matter at this time.

I only wish I had known about the matter previously. I would have been in a better position to give a better argument to sustain what I believe to be the standing rule of the House, which to a great extent, of course, is the principle that committees are masters of their own destiny.

Mr. Speaker, I recognize, as do all members, if that should be infringed on, I certainly would respect any decision you would make in that area in the best interests of the House and our committee structure. I will leave that matter in your most capable hands at this time.

Points Of Order
Private Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. whip of the Reform Party for bringing this to my attention once again, and the intervention of the government whip today.

I will take this matter under advisement and I will, first of all, inform myself of what transpired in the committee. I will inform myself of the precedents, notwithstanding that the whip of the Reform Party has outlined the case which seems to be very well researched. I take the point that there are other people who were at the committee who could have moved that motion.

I believe the crux of the matter, if I can put it in these words, is that we are asking ourselves, does the committee have the power, the right, to make a decision which would supersede a decision of the House?

That is the case which I believe the whip of the Reform Party is trying to make. Did that occur? I intend to inform myself and I will get back to the House with a decision on this matter. I am sure the House will give me a little bit of time so that I can satisfy myself that whatever decision I make will be for the betterment of the functioning not only of the committee but also of the House of Commons. I will get back to the House at an early time.

The House resumed from October 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-29, an act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation of commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances, be read the third time and passed.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Essex—Kent
Ontario

Liberal

Jerry Pickard Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate today on Bill C-29 outlining the government's actions on methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl, commonly referred to as MMT.

We must be clear from the outset that the government's interest in this legislation is our commitment to the environmental, health and protection elements of the bill. We have made this commitment to Canadians and we intend to make good on our commitment.

When we looked around we asked ourselves how we can most effectively ensure that we protect our environment. We must come to one conclusion. The answer is we must do what we can to prevent pollution. As legislators Canadians expect us to ensure that their safety and the environment are maintained. I would suggest to my colleagues that this is accomplished in C-29.

All of us here in this place and Canadians all across the country are concerned about maintaining our environment. When we think of air pollution we think of automobiles as being a major contributor to air pollution. In fact, autos and all forms of transportation are the leading source of air pollution. It stands to reason that to impact on air pollution, if we are seriously taking action on this, we must focus on the automobile. Bill C-29 does that.

The auto industry, which represents 21 domestic and offshore manufacturers, is convinced that MMT has an adverse effect on the operation of vehicle pollution control components including the sophisticated onboard systems. The industry is adamant that the government must take quick and decisive action to ensure that MMT free fuels are available to Canadian consumers. The auto industry is so concerned and convinced of the detrimental effects of MMT that it is conducting a $10 million test program in the United States in order to obtain definitive evidence in support of this position.

Bill C-29 represents a prudent approach to ensure that Canadian consumers and the environment are protected in the view of uncertainty of the long term impacts of MMT on the advanced emissions control technology such as onboard diagnostics that are being introduced in our cars and will be in widespread use in the very near future.

The automakers have indicated that if MMT remains in Canadian fuels, they would take action ranging from disconnecting onboard diagnostic sensors to the removal of sensors and decreased warranty provisions for our consumers. General Motors has already advised us that certain onboard diagnostic systems in the 1996 models have been disabled.

The onboard diagnostic systems in autos are designed to permit cars to operate more efficiently and in a more environmentally friendly manner. If the systems fail or are disarmed because of MMT in the fuel, there is an overall harmful impact on Canadians and our environment. The public must be confident that the government is doing all that it can in order to protect citizens and the environment.

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment task force on cleaner vehicles and fuels estimates that health benefits of up to $31 billion over 23 years would result from introducing cleaner fuels and more stringent emissions standards into the Canadian marketplace. We can readily see the need for decisive action, action that will reduce air pollutants and ensure efficient operation of vehicles. Bill C-29 has that as its goal.

The EPA in the United States has expressed concerns on the lack of data relating to the use of MMT in gasolines and therefore advocates a cautious approach to the use of these additives in fuels. Unless MMT is banned in Canada, our consumers will be inconvenienced by frequent and unnecessary visits for vehicle maintenance and will encounter warranty problems.

Over the years, Canadians have taken pride in setting an example for our international colleagues on a number of fronts. In the case of environmental issues we should not be overly influenced by unnecessary threats of our neighbour to the south. We have worked for and earned respect worldwide on issues on health and the environment.

I ask my colleagues in the House that we not shy away from taking a leadership role on this issue. The removal of MMT from fuels will provide an opportunity for the introduction of ethanol and other substitutes which could be an important element of a broader based national energy policy. Such a policy would be consistent with our commitments in the red book as well as an Agriculture Canada policy paper to eliminate MMT from gasoline.

Just two weeks ago I attended a ground breaking ceremony for a new ethanol facility in Chatham, Ontario. That event marked a win-win situation for all parties involved in the development of that initiative. The ethanol plant in Chatham will be a $153 million facility producing 150 million litres of ethanol fuel each year. It will allow Canadian farmers, manufacturers and distributors to fulfil Canadian consumer demands and it will provide a safe, clean burning fuel additive to our markets. It will be a success story for our government, industry and consumers.

We must continue to pursue an alternate fuel policy. Our national biomass ethanol program does just that. Our actions to eliminate MMT from Canadian fuels will improve our environment, address health concerns and provide options for alternate fuel additives.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to participate again in the debate on Bill C-29, an act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese-based substances. Its purpose is to ban the use of manganese-base substances, including MMT.

This is a highly controversial bill, even among ministers and government Mps. The cabinet is not unanimously in favour of it. The majority of provinces are also opposed. As well, it involves a serious conflict between two major industrial sectors: the automo-

tive manufacturers and the oil industry. The former maintain that MMT is harmful to their products, and forces them to adopt mechanisms and practices which could result in purchasers having to pay more for their vehicles. The latter are opposed to the banning of manganese in unleaded gasoline, and contest the legitimacy of the arguments used by the other group.

I object to the way automotive manufacturers are blackmailing the government and the consumer, with their threat of a $3,000 hike in price and restricted warranties if this bill is passed.

The petroleum industry claims MMT reduces nitrous oxide emissions by as much as 20 per cent. Moreover, a study commissioned by the Council of Ministers of Environment, Canada, estimates that the refineries would require $115 million in capital and $50 million yearly in additional operating costs to get rid of MMT in Canada. This would also mean a hike in gasoline prices. In addition, results of tests by the Ethyl Company in the USA contradict the arguments of the automobile manufacturers.

In my opinion, the proposal to ban MMT has no environmental, economic or legal justification.

This bill is not in line with Canada's obligations under trade agreements such as NAFTA and those relating to interprovincial trade. This past September, the U.S. Ethyl Corporation indicated its intention to lodge a complaint calling for $200 million U.S. in damages from Canada under the appropriate sections of NAFTA for the damages sustained by its Canadian subsidiary. This multinational also claims that its reputation has been tarnished by the comments of the Minister of the Environment on MMT.

As for interprovincial trade, by prohibiting the marketing of manganese-based substances, this bill violates federal-provincial trade agreements. It also constitutes an unacceptable intrusion by the federal government in this area. In fact, almost all provinces are opposed to this bill. Last May, even the Quebec National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution, supported by the opposition, asking the government to postpone the passage of this bill.

So it is hard to understand why the government insists on sending this bill through the House, a bill that, by the way, was criticized by the Minister for International Trade. In a letter sent to the environment minister seven months ago, the Minister for International Trade maintained that banning the importation of MMT would be contrary to Canada's obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization and NAFTA. There was no justification for health or environmental reasons, considering the scientific evidence available. He went on to say, and rightly so, that he was afraid this would lead to another trade dispute with the United States.

Premier Romanow of Saskatchewan sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada on September 16, in which he said that the legislation was in no way justified at this time. He added that, according to the scientific data available on MMT, there was no indication that environmental benefits would accrue as result of this legislation, and they found it difficult to let the refineries or consumers foot the bill.

At the present time, there is very little justification for banning the addition of MMT to unleaded gas. I may remind the House that from the economic point of view, this bill is a costly one, especially in terms of jobs lost, if we consider the threat to the viability of many refineries, including some refineries in Quebec.

This is in addition to the economic problems arising from the resulting violations of trade agreements with North America and the Canadian provinces. This bill contains a number of legal shortcomings, which may have major consequences for Canada's reputation and economy. How can we expect American businesses to be interested in penetrating the Canadian market, when the Government of Canada interferes with the way they do business or fails to observe its trade agreements by passing bills like C-29?

As far as the environment is concerned, the evidence has shown that removing MMT does not increase air pollution, nor is this substance harmful to public health.

A research program funded by the Quebec Department of National Resources, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute has made it clear that the contribution of manganese from MMT sources is negligible, compared with other industrial and natural sources; highway traffic only has an indirect effect on the percentage of manganese in the atmosphere by recirculating dust particles near roads and streets.

In conclusion, there is every reason to object vehemently to Bill C-29, which creates problems from the economic, environmental, social, commercial and legal points of view. For all of these reasons, I am very much opposed to Bill C-29.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, there seems to be some confusion about exactly what we are debating here today. The title of Bill C-29 is to regulate the interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances.

This is not about protecting the environment. It is not about members of Parliament making technical decisions beyond their

competency and it is not about this House acting as refereebetween two extremely powerful lobby groups.

This bill is related strictly to international and interprovincial trade, what can be traded and what cannot. Why, therefore, is this bill being brought forward by the Minister of the Environment? This makes no sense at all.

The Liberals have been opposed to the North American Free Trade Agreement in the past but now they are its strongest supporters. If Bill C-29 is passed, there is going to be trouble with our trade partners in the NAFTA agreement. There will be a dispute. This government could save itself embarrassment. It could save the country embarrassment by dropping this whole bill completely.

The Minister for International Trade agrees with what I have said. He is very concerned about the possible passage of this bill. He fears for the reputation of Canada in the international trading community.

I wish to read for the record a letter that the Minister for International Trade wrote to the Minister of the Environment on February 23, 1996:

Dear Sergio:

I understand that you are considering the reintroduction of Bill C-94 in the upcoming session. My department continues to have certain reservations concerning this measure, which I wish to draw to your attention.

One of the original arguments favouring the ban on MMT was that the United States already prohibited its use as a petroleum additive. Recently the U.S. Court of Appeal overturned the U.S. ban. This has effectively removed harmonization arguments in support of Bill C-94. Indeed, since adding MMT to petroleum products is now permissible in the U.S., harmonization would now be promoted by introducing no new Canadian regulations.

An import prohibition on MMT would be inconsistent with Canada's obligations under the WTO and NAFTA: (1) it would constitute an impermissible prohibition on imports, particularly if domestic production, sale and use is not similarly prohibited, and (2) it could not be justified on health or environmental grounds given current scientific evidence.

The United States trade representative-is monitoring the situation closely. There is the possibility that the United States could mount a challenge, either on USTR's own initiative or pursuant to a Section 301 petition; Ethyl Corp., the American producer of MMT, has indicated that it most certainly intends to file such a petition. Also, Ethyl Corp. may try to advance an argument that such a ban would be a measure tantamount to expropriation of Ethyl's investment in Canada. Thus, Canada may also be susceptible to an investor-state challenge under Chapter 11 of the NAFTA.

There has been heated debate surrounding the exact effects of banning MMT. The claims of the automotive and petroleum industries conflict markedly, with little common ground between them. Testing is only now starting in the United States, with unambiguous results some years away.

In view of the Presidential and Congressional elections this year, American politicians are particularly sensitive to any foreign initiative which might injure their domestic industries.

In conclusion, let me stress my department's belief that Bill C-94 should not be re-introduced as it could have many adverse implications for Canadian trade, without compensating environmental benefits.

It is signed by the Minister for International Trade.

I am sure the House is aware that Bill C-94, to which this letter refers, is the precise equivalent of Bill C-29 which we are debating here today.

In view of this, I move:

That all the words after the word "that" be deleted, and the following substituted therefor:

This House declines to give third reading to Bill C-29, An act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances, since the bill fails to address the impact of the import prohibition on certain manganese based substances on international trade.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The amendment is acceptable. The debate is now on the amendment.

I inadvertently skipped over a speaker. I am going to try to catch up as we go along. I am going to recognize the hon. member for Durham and then, depending on who stands, we will go from there.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not mind being looked over but I do not want to be overlooked.

It gives me great pleasure to speak today on Bill C-29, the MMT legislation and the amendment thereto. Also, I would like to congratulate the Minister of the Environment for having the intestinal fortitude to reintroduce the bill before this legislature.

In Durham on a clear day, as the song goes, we can see forever. On a clear day in the summer sometimes we can see the CN Tower. This summer we saw less and less of the CN Tower as Toronto became smogged in.

People want to take responsibility for the environment and they want to do it in a number of different ways. Our automobile industry is addressing the real concerns people have about how the can take responsibility for the vehicles they drive and indeed in a lot of other industries as well. We have seen this in various areas, the packaging of products and so forth.

The automobile industry has been very responsive to the desire of people to have a clean and safe environment by a number of initiatives. It is moving toward alternative sources of fuel. We had

discussions in this House about the use of ethanol in our gasoline and there are other environmentally sensitive fuels available. In my riding General Motors is a major manufacturer employer and has been a leader in developing these kinds of technologies for its vehicles.

Recently I was surprised to learn that onboard diagnostic systems, which are state of the art, allow people to understand how their vehicles are performing relative to the pollutants.

Many years ago when catalytic converters were first introduced people said "how do we get them off our cars because they are affecting our fuel consumption?" People's attitudes have completely changed. Today that is not the attitude of a common person. People want to find out how they can be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The automobile companies have wisely in their marketing systems realized this and that is why these onboard diagnostic systems exist. They give them the ability to know that their vehicles are performing as best they can and are not polluting the environment as much as possible with our current technology.

General Motors is disabling certain aspects of its onboard diagnostic systems for one very important reason. Manganese based fuel additives cause an 80 per cent residual within engines. As a consequence it creates a situation where the onboard diagnostic system does not work. Here we have a company which is recognizing the desire of people to have a safer and cleaner environment and producing technology to do that but which is unable to basically maintain that because of some of the fuel additives allowed in our gasoline.

There is an ongoing debate about manganese additives but it is the residual build-up within the engine that then turns around and basically makes the onboard diagnostic system not work. Part of that process is that if a catalytic converter is not working properly it should be replaced. People want to know that and those people want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

This legislation addresses that very real concern the average person has. I am surprised at the opposition to this from both opposition parties. I heard one of the Bloc members talk about bringing investment to this country. Some of the biggest investors in this country are the car manufacturing companies. In Ontario one out of six people can trace their jobs directly to automobile production. I am surprised that the Block has taken the position it has because similarly we have a significant plant in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec that is also very interested in dealing with the desires of people to control the environment.

I was pleased to see Maureen Kempston-Darkes, president of the Canadian division of General Motors, announcing that her company and other car makers will introduce leading edge pollution control technologies to further reduce smog-causing emissions from automobiles.

They are not going to continue with that kind of research and development, they are not going to continue with those kinds of solutions to pollution if they do not get the assistance through people like us who will ban the use of MMT as a fuel additive. Clearly those vehicles are not going to perform up to their expectations as long as they have these components within the gasoline they produce.

In conclusion, I am very supportive of the MMT legislation, the banning of MMT. I believe the people of Durham desire to see alternate fuels and other technologies that companies like General Motors will develop to reduce fuel emissions and to create a cleaner air environment not only for us but for generations to come after us.

I look forward to the passage of this bill in all due haste.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in this House to reiterate that the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to Bill C-29.

In fact, after listening to our government colleagues' speeches this morning and the previous speeches at second reading, we are more convinced than ever that every one of us should at this time-I repeat, at this time-vote against Bill C-29.

This bill is aimed at prohibiting the importation into Canada of and the interprovincial trade in MMT, without any serious evidence that it is harmful to health or the environment. It is also in flagrant violation of NAFTA, and we should be particularly careful with this.

The Bloc Quebecois is therefore opposed to this bill at third reading. We stress that we will always oppose Bill C-29 as it now stands, because it is unacceptable for a Minister of the Environment to try to legislate on international trade. We will not support the roundabout way in which the Minister of the Environment is using legislation to ban the importation of and interprovincial trade in a product under the pretext that this product is harmful to health and the environment.

If the Minister of the Environment is really convinced that MMT is dangerous, he should also ban the manufacturing and use of this product. This bill prohibits the importation of this product, but not its use and manufacturing. Yet, according to their fine rhetoric, MMT is harmful to people's health. In that case, why are we still allowed to use and produce it?

Frankly, Bill C-29 is not aimed in the right direction. On the contrary, it still allows the use and production of MMT, but only within a province's borders.

Some Liberal members have accused us of not being concerned with the environment and Canadians' health. You know this is not

true. Like all the members of this House, the members of the Bloc Quebecois are very concerned with the well-being of Quebecers and Canadians alike. That is why we have asked that the government give us clear and irrefutable proof that MMT is harmful.

Without doubting their word, we would like them to prove their point, which they have not been done. I will explain it to some extent in my remarks. When a serious study is available, we will be able to make an informed decision. But so far, the Minister of the Environment and his colleagues have not provided any real reason or hard facts in support of their claim.

At this stage of the debate on Bill C-29, the government has yet to demonstrate the need for such legislation or its merits, which suggests to us that the real reasons for wanting this bill passed are of a purely commercial and electoral nature.

Like his predecessor, the Minister of the Environment is favouring corn producers in western Canada and especially those in Ontario. By banning MMT, whose sole producer is Ethyl, the minister is ensuring that the only alternative to MMT will be ethanol, since fuel without additives is not foreseeable in the short and medium term.

For the Minister of the Environment like for Machiavelli's main character in The Prince , the end justifies the means. It has been clear to us for quite a while already that the minister really cares much less than he says about the environment and the health of Canadians and cares much more about pleasing western and Ontario corn producers, who he hopes will vote Liberal in the next election.

Ignoring every recommendation made by his colleagues in this House, not only Bloc Quebecois and Reform Party members, but also the Minister for International Trade, the Minister of the Environment continues crusading against MMT, but we must recognize that he has a very small army behind him.

To achieve his end, he is prepared to sacrifice millions of dollars in financial compensation to Ethyl, an American company, which filed notice, on September 10, to claim $276 million Canadian in damages from the Canadian government for presumably breaching the provisions of NAFTA. While his government boasts about making job creation its number one priority-they said it over and over during the weekend-the minister is prepared to sacrifice jobs in the oil industry.

He would even go as far as to subject Canadians to yet another hike in the price of gas. Of course, nothing is too costly when one wants to please a lobby.

Despite all opposition, the environment minister and the Liberal government will probably get Bill C-29 passed. However, the government's modus operandi regarding this issue confirms once again the lack of judgment of some of its members.

When will the Liberal government finally act in a responsible and serious manner, as we have been asking, since, once again, the government's action does not make sense.

We tried to put three short questions to the government. Why prohibit a product which, in the opinion of Health Canada, does not pose any risk to the health of Canadians? Unless I am mistaken, Health Canada is a Canadian organization. As I said about Statistics Canada in another speech, if the government is not pleased, it simply removes the chairperson and replaces him or her.

Why prohibit the importation and interprovincial trade of such a product, rather than its production and use? If it is so harmful to one's health, then we should prohibit its production and use.

Why violate a trade agreement which we duly signed and run the risk of having to pay a compensation of $276 million Canadian, if not more? These are the same Liberals that used to be passionate about free trade agreements. Historically, Liberals have been free traders and they should know free trade agreements very well, or at least respect them.

These are the three short questions the environment minister and his colleagues should have answered in earlier speeches. But they did not do so, first because there is no rational answer to these questions, but also because, once again, they simply do as they please. The Liberal government does not care at all about the opinion of Canadians, who protested in large numbers against Bill C-29. As with many other issues, the government turns a deaf ear.

This is a shame. In its present form, Bill C-29 is inappropriate and we have a duty, as members representing Quebecers and Canadians, to oppose this legislation. A number of stakeholders from various areas, including six provincial governments, vigorously oppose Bill C-29. I join my voice to theirs to invite all members of Parliament, including Liberals, to vote against this legislation.

The government must do its homework and table a proper and rigorous bill.

In conclusion, I want to table an amendment to the amendment of the Reform Party to Bill C-29. I propose, seconded by the hon. member for Laurentides:

That the amendment be amended by adding the following:

"and particularly, the impact of the said Bill on trade between Canada and the United States".

Manganese Based Fuel Additives Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleagues, the amendment to the amendment is in order. We will therefore continue debate.