House of Commons Hansard #128 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nuclear.

Topics

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, as regards Bill C-60, it is customary in Parliament at third reading for a member of the government to speak first and then be followed by a member of the opposition.

The Liberals decided not to present a speaker. I was on my way to hear the speech by the Liberal member. The spirit of the rules must be followed, but rules should not interpreted to the letter, which would prevent us from speaking on this bill, for which we have moved some 100 amendments and have made a number of suggestions and which will have significant financial impact.

The House and the Liberal majority would be acting in bad faith if they failed to recognize the opposition member due to speak on the subject.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The Chair has heard the arguments and I thank members on all sides for their assistance on this matter but I think the answer is fairly clear.

A quorum call was in progress and hon. members chose to come to the House or not while the bells were ringing. The bells were rung for the purpose of bringing members to the House. With respect, at the end of the quorum call naturally the Chair called for the resumption of debate on the bill which was before the House. Members who were here at the time the quorum call occurred will note that the Chair had put the question on the motion and called for debate but no one had risen to speak because the quorum called intervened.

As your Speaker, I called for debate on the motion and no one rose to debate the motion. I do not want to say something that I should not say concerning the presence or absence of members from the House, but no one rose to speak on the motion. Accordingly, I said: Is the House ready for the question? And the answer was, yes. I then received the document to put the question.

It may be that while the question was being put members entered the House but no one rose to speak while I waited for the document to put the question. I submit that the Chair has acted in accordance with the practices and principles of the House in this matter.

As the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup just said, he was on his way to the House when the question was put to the House. He was too late. He must be here. If the hon. minister does not want to speak at third reading, that is his prerogative, he has no obligation to do so. For personal reasons, he decided not to speak.

As you know, I serve the House, but, in my opinion, the situation is as I described it. There is no point of order, and the matter is closed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, when you checked to see if there was a quorum, were you not supposed to determine if there was a quorum according to the number of members in their seat?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I counted the members in the House. I did not check whether they were all in their seat, but I determined that 20 members were present in the House.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, are you not supposed to count only those members in their seats?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

With all due respect to the hon. member, I do not think it necessary that every member be at his own seat. It is enough that he be in the House. There were 20 members in the House when the bells stopped ringing. I counted the members myself, and am satisfied the House Standing Orders were followed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, am I to understand that your ruling, based on the Standing Orders, is that you can count members regardless of where they are in this House for the sake of maintaining quorum?

If that is your ruling, I respect it. It is just that, in making your ruling, I heard you say: "I think that-", which seemed to indicate you were unsure. Could we please check what the Standing Orders say?

If you tell me that is what they say, I will take your word for it. We will do the checking ourselves.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Perhaps I did not make myself clear enough, but the fact is that I was satisfied that there were 20 members present in the House, and that is what our Standing Orders call for. They were not in the galleries, they were here, in the House. I counted 20 members, so that is the end of the matter.

Nuclear Safety And Control Act
Government Orders

February 12th, 1997 / 3:45 p.m.

Edmonton Northwest
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Natural Resources

moved that Bill C-23, an act to establish the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the third time and passed.

Nuclear Safety And Control Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Dauphin—Swan River
Manitoba

Liberal

Marlene Cowling Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am more than pleased to speak in the House today regarding Bill C-23, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

The current legislation in this area is 50 years old. As the minister noted earlier, it suffers from several deficiencies and is outdated. The development application and the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes brings many benefits to Canada. However, it also entails some important responsibilities.

It is high time we had modern legislation to govern the regulation of nuclear activities. The benefits of nuclear technology include a safe and secure supply of energy, some 26,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs and significant export revenues from the sale of Candu reactors and uranium.

Nuclear science has brought us advanced medical treatments, agriculture and scientific applications and real environmental advantages. To maximize these benefits and minimize the risks, Canada has had to take certain precautions to protect public health and safety as well as the environment.

Canadians insist on very high standards for the regulation of nuclear activity, higher than for most other forms of technology.

Since 1946 the agency charged with enforcing those standards, the Atomic Energy Control Board, has done an excellent job. Its vigilance is one reason that Canada has an enviable nuclear safety record. However, the agency needs our help.

I would like to take a few minutes to expand on the role of the AECB and to demonstrate why a new, modern framework is needed to ensure that the nuclear regulatory authority in Canada can continue to fulfil its mandate.

As has already been mentioned, the Atomic Energy Control Act was proclaimed in 1946, shortly after the end of the second world war. Apart from one amendment in 1954, the act has remained essentially unchanged for half a century. During that time there have been dramatic changes in the extent and nature of nuclear activities in Canada and abroad and in society's expectations of government regulations. There has also been a shift in emphasis at the AECB. The agency continues to be concerned with the security of nuclear information and materials. Today, however, most of its activities focus on regulating the health, safety and environmental aspects of nuclear technology.

In fact, these have been the most important issues for the AECB since 1960 when the first health and safety regulations were established under the Atomic Energy Control Act. In the 1970s and 1980s concern for the environment surged to the forefront of the public agenda. This has also helped shape the AECB's modern mandate.

Let me say a few words about how the AECB operates. The AECB is an independent regulatory agency reporting to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. It is directed by a five member board, one of whom is the president of the board.

The president of the board supervises approximately 400 officers and staff. Most of these employees are based at the AECB headquarters in Ottawa-

Nuclear Safety And Control Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening carefully to the hon. member, but I realize I am about the only one here. We do not have a quorum. I am asking for a quorum count, Mr. Speaker.

Nuclear Safety And Control Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Sound the bells, please, and summon the members.

And the count having been taken:

Nuclear Safety And Control Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I see a quorum. Resuming debate.

Nuclear Safety And Control Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Nuclear Safety And Control Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is the House ready for the question? Is the hon. member rising to speak?

Does the hon. member wish to take part in the debate? Are there other members who wish to take part in the debate?