House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nuclear.

Topics

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, if my memory serves me correct, Motion No. 82 is a private member's motion. I am pleased to inform the member that there is a process for sorting out motions to determine which are debatable and subsequently those that are votable.

As the hon. member will know, the government never interferes in that process. Not only that, but we have free votes on private members' business as well, as the hon. member should know and perhaps will want to try from time to time.

Insofar as the government sponsored initiative on Kyoto, the Prime Minister has promised both in the throne speech and in the speech he delivered in the House that he is prepared to offer a debate and a vote in the House prior to the Christmas adjournment.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-4, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are debating the bill regarding our nuclear power concerns and earlier I was discussing the Kyoto ramifications.

The events concerning Dr. Swann in Alberta are quite unnerving, quite surprising and quite pleasing. He is a medical doctor who stated publicly his concerns and support for the Kyoto accord. He sees firsthand the climate change concerns of his patients.

He was summarily removed from his position. We still do not have clear satisfactory answers as to why it happened. We could only speculate that his removal from that office was because of political interference from the provincial government of Alberta.

We know that Mr. Klein, the premier of Alberta, stated his case very clearly that in no way, shape or form does he want Kyoto ratified. To stop or not even to allow dissenting opinions within the pubic service of Alberta when it comes to a medical doctor, for example, is simply unconscionable. It should never be allowed in the country or allowed to happen again.

We are quite pleased that the hospital board reinstated Dr. Swann, but he will now have a tainted relationship with his employer, the board and the provincial government. It is a sin that this happened.

If we were serious about having a full and open debate on any aspect of Kyoto and nuclear power we would be able to do it without fear of retribution. We must be able to state our case for, against or whatever. That is why the House of Commons is so important, so that we can have the exchange and debate of ideas.

Our public services, be they federal, provincial or municipal, should also have the ability to express their opinion on various issues facing the country. They should not live in fear that their jobs are at stake. We have other examples of the federal health department and other instances of that happening.

When someone with the reputation of Dr. Swann of the medical profession of Alberta stated very clearly his support for the Kyoto accord, the Alberta government should have said that it may disagree and it would continue on its path. To remove him from his position was simply unbelievable.

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for interrupting the hon. member. We have tentatively arrived at an agreement on a motion that I should now like to offer to the House. I understand that a number of members want it with before they leave the Chamber.

There has been consultation among all House leaders and I would like to propose the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice:

  1. The Standing Committee on Finance and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade may hold organizational meetings on October 21, 2002; and that the membership of the said committees be as follows:

Members of the Standing Committee on Finance: Sue Barnes, Scott Brison, Rick Casson, Roy Cullen, Nick Discepola, Albina Guarnieri, Richard Harris, Rahim Jaffer, Sophia Leung, Joe McGuire, Hon. Maria Minna, Hon. Lorne Nystrom, Pierre Paquette, Charlie Penson, Pauline Picard, Gary Pillitteri, Tony Valeri and Bryon Wilfert;

Members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade: Sarkis Assadourian, Stéphane Bergeron, Aileen Carroll, Bill Casey, Irwin Cotler, Stockwell Day, John Duncan, Hon. Art Eggleton, Mark Eyking, John Harvard, Marlene Jennings, Francine Lalonde, Hon. Diane Marleau, Keith Martin, Patrick O'Brien, Deepak Obhrai, Bernard Patry and Svend Robinson.

  1. During the period ending December 10, 2002, there shall be seven allotted days pursuant to Standing Order 81;

  2. During its consideration of proceedings pursuant to Standing Order 83.1, the Standing Committee on Finance, together with any necessary staff, may travel within Canada and may authorize the broadcasting of its proceedings.

For the benefit of members the motion provides for an additional allotted day. The lists of the associate members of the two committees will be tabled later.

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-4, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the federal Liberal government is at fault for not clearly explaining the positive aspects of Kyoto or even, as some people may say, the negative aspects of Kyoto. This deal was done five years ago. The government had five years to get the information out to all Canadians so they could make informed decisions on what this deal would mean to the long term future of Canada and its economy. The Alliance Party and Canadians are correct to raise concerns about that.

After looking at the Kyoto agreement myself, I firmly believe it is minimum at best as to what we should do as a country. I am very encouraged that many individuals and businesses have taken it upon themselves to retrofit their buildings, to reduce their greenhouse gasses and to reduce their energy export.

It is imperative that Canadians be informed. This has to happen. I agree with a full and open debate prior to Kyoto being ratified. That is why we would like get that debate going now, so we can move on this issue and move toward a much better society in terms of a cleaner and healthier Canada, as well as a cleaner and healthier environment.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for his presentation, even though it was interrupted several times. As we know, Bill C-4 seeks to amend one particular section.

Previously, subsection 46(3) read, and I quote:

--any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.

That is a place that might be contaminated.

The bill would replace this excerpt by the following:

--any other person who has the management and control of, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.

This change would exempt a whole group from its obligation to decontaminate. For instance, under the proposed new wording of the act, a bank that had granted a loan to a firm could not be taken to court.

Does the member think it is appropriate to amend the existing act with this bill?

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, a couple of lines above that it says the commission may or may not. In reality the commission may not do anything but just let it happen. It should say the commission shall impose that. However, when it says may, then it is up to the commission to decide whether it wants to do anything. I am not a lawyer, but I have it on sound advice from my colleague from Windsor, who is a lawyer, that the word shall would strengthen the bill completely.

Again it boils down to a matter of trust and confidence. Do we in the opposition, and for that matter many Canadians, have the trust and confidence in the Liberal government to do the right thing when it comes to the situation of a catastrophic problem with a nuclear power plant, or contamination of surrounding grounds or the downsizing or removal of a power plant?

We know that it is extremely expensive to get involved in this type of discussion. Who will pay for it? Who will be ultimately responsible for the clean up in the event something happens?

We saw other examples where a business had a serious problem and left its responsibility. Who was left to clean it up and take control of it? The government. Then that falls upon the taxpayer, and their dollars are expended to remedy the situation. That is simply unacceptable.

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked if we could trust the government and I would suggest that we cannot. This is the same government that intends to jail Canadian farmers in less than three weeks for trying to market their own grain.

I want to come back to a point that he made earlier. He said that workers were supporting this agreement. The reason they are supporting it is that they do not know what the agreement holds. The more people find out about it, the more concerned they are.

My concern is mainly over agricultural issues. I want to refer to one of the only studies on Kyoto and agriculture that we could find. It was conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation. We had to go to the United States to find any information. Absolutely nothing has been done in Canada on the effects of Kyoto on agriculture. It suggests that Kyoto would increase farm expenses by up to 32%, depress annual farm income by 24% to 48%, diminish agricultural exports and put many farmers out of business. In fact, this study called the Kyoto protocol the single biggest public policy threat to the agricultural community today.

The members represent a party that calls itself democratic. I am unsure as to why they would be in favour of an agreement that would be so devastating to agriculture. These questions need to be answered. What will be the impact of higher energy prices? How many farmers will that put out of business? What will be the impact of non-implementing countries that we have to compete against? How will the protocol mechanism affect farmers?

I am a little uncertain as to why his party would take a position that is so aggressively against agriculture and farmers?

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It has come to my attention through the projected order of business and the notification that we all have on our desks that the House is debating Bill C-4, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, put forward by the Minister of Natural Resources.

I am quite happy to have a debate on Kyoto, but we are supposed to be having a debate on the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. I am not sure how that relates to farm issues and Kyoto, although I certainly get the relationship between extreme weather and drought and the implications of Kyoto. Could get the House back on topic?

Nuclear Safety and Control Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that our colleague is wrong in thinking that we should not talk about Kyoto while debating the bill before us.

The bill before us deals with energy as a whole. Energy is linked to Kyoto. Why is it linked to Kyoto? Because in Kyoto there is a firm commitment on the part of Canada to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Therefore, we must talk about Kyoto and the House should reaffirm the due diligence the government should exercise in order to ratify Kyoto as quickly as possible. We sense a lack of resolve on the government side. However, I want to convince you that the links between the bill before us and Kyoto are not only relevant but unavoidable.