House of Commons Hansard #11 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was property.

Topics

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will put my hon. colleague's comments and question into context on a few things.

First, as the bill provides, should the damages on a potential low risk incident rise above $650 million, Parliament would be brought together to discuss it. I want to put that $650 million into context.

Studies have been done on whether or not there would be liability in the event of a major incident and what that liability would be. The incident at Three Mile Island in the United States was looked at. Translated into Canadian dollars, real dollar value now, the liability from that incident, which was viewed as a major incident, was about $100 million.

I would like to add to the basic background to give some sort of an idea of what sort of damages we may be potentially looking at.

In 2003 the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission contracted an independent firm to study what the economic loss, the personal loss, et cetera would be from a major incident. It went through the criteria, looked at a possible major incident in a plant, and I believe that Darlington was the plant that was used as the model, and it came to the conclusion that as a worst case scenario, it was looking at $100 million with what we have in Canada.

While I am very open to hon. members thinking that $650 million would not compensate, independent studies in 2003 indicated it would be well below that level. There are other aspects available for other funds, and also, there is a provision in the bill where every five years the minister would be required to review it. I believe the $650 million figure could rise, which is something that has not been noted in the bill yet, and if in the future it was felt this amount was insufficient protection for taxpayers, the limit could be raised.

Looking at the numbers, $100 million is what the amount has been in the past and what has been estimated would happen. I think that $650 million, with the potential for that amount to be raised, is sufficient before the issue would be brought to Parliament to be looked at further.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Bill C-5, An Act respecting civil liability and compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident.

This is an important debate in this Chamber today, because the issue of nuclear energy will occupy a greater place in our discussions in the years to come. There are three important issues that I would like to point out before heading directly into the debate on Bill C-5. First, this government decided in recent weeks to join the nuclear club and to use all international forums to promote an energy source which, according to the federal government, is considered clean.

I was in Kyoto in 1997, when the international community decided to exclude nuclear energy as an energy source that could benefit from emission credits under the Kyoto protocol. I remember the debates we had in Japan about this energy source. Of course it can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions but it creates other important external factors including, among others, radioactive waste. No one can promote this form of energy and this alternative without having a plan for better ways of managing the resulting waste.

A major conference called Climate 2050 was held in Montreal last week. A leading researcher, Thomas Cochran, appeared before the international community and said that, in the view of American environmentalists, the nuclear industry must play a more active role in dealing with the problems related to the underground storage of nuclear waste.

These problems are extremely important in Canada, where some provinces have decided in favour of nuclear energy. I could mention Ontario, which, among other things, has just decided to modernize its nuclear facilities. I could also mention New Brunswick, which recently decided to favour this approach.

The controversy surrounding nuclear power will therefore only intensify in the years to come. We will have to remain very cognizant of the technologies that are developed and the approaches that the government recommends in the years to come.

We will have to be vigilant because we know as well that Quebec has only one nuclear power plant on its soil. This facility is responsible for barely 10% of the nuclear waste produced in Canada. Nevertheless, among the storage sites and possible sites that the federal government has recommended so far, we find the Lower North Shore. We certainly would not want Quebec to become the nuclear garbage bin of Canada when we account for barely 5% of Canada’s nuclear waste.

I therefore call upon the government to be very careful with the decisions it makes in the next few years. The liability regime in case of nuclear accidents is very important. This is the issue addressed in Bill C-5. Its stated purpose is to establish a liability regime applicable in the event of a nuclear incident that makes operators of nuclear installations absolutely and exclusively liable for damages up to a maximum of $650 million.

Back in 1976, Canada passed the Nuclear Liability Act, which made the operators of nuclear installations liable for damages in the event of nuclear incidents and set the amount of coverage required at $75 million. Part II of the act enabled the Governor in Council to establish a nuclear damage claims commission to deal with claims for compensation in the event that the federal government concluded that the cost of the damages resulting from a nuclear accident could exceed $75 million.

Since the operator’s liability was limited to the amount of its insurance, the federal government would therefore probably have to absorb the difference.

We can hardly oppose a proposal to increase the amount of coverage to $650 million. I will come back later to the question of whether this increase to $650 million is enough. There will certainly be a debate in the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, on which my friend from Brome—Missisquoi sits, because there is good reason to think that this is not sufficient at the present time.

In Chapter 8 of the 2005 annual report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, she dealt with this issue of the insurance required of operators of nuclear installations. What did she conclude? She said that the accident insurance requirements for nuclear facilities did not meet the international standards. This meant, among others, the Paris convention and the Vienna convention. The coverage would therefore inevitably have to be increased.

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources studied this issue, as we recall, in June 2002. It concluded that the $75 million of coverage required under the act was terribly inadequate. I repeat that, in the committee’s view, this coverage was inadequate in light of the prevailing international standards. The committee set the stage, therefore, for the conclusion that the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development would reach in 2005.

The committee added that when the senior officials from Natural Resources Canada appeared they even said that, taking inflation into account, $250 million in today’s dollars would be equivalent to what the act provided for when it was passed, and that to come up to the international standard, that would have to be increased to about $650 million.

As a result, despite the changes and the increase in the number of facilities that can be anticipated as a result of the decision by some provinces to encourage the construction and modernization of some of their nuclear installations, the bill simply brings the coverage up to standard in terms of the international conventions. Given the decisions that will be made in Ontario and New Brunswick, we might even doubt that $650 million will be considered to be an adequate coverage level, since taking inflation alone into account would call for coverage of $650 million to comply with the international conventions.

We should also note that in the United States, as my colleague in the NDP was saying earlier, the Price-Anderson Act limits the liability of commercial nuclear plant operators to $9.4 billion U.S. nation-wide. For each reactor, the operators have to take out private insurance for $200 million U.S. plus a second-level policy for $88 million U.S. South of the border, the operators’ coverage and liability requirements are already higher than what we have here in Canada.

An American study done in 1982 showed that the worst-case scenario for an accident in a nuclear plant would result in costs on the order of $24.8 billion U.S. and $590 billion U.S. Coverage is therefore needed. In a few weeks, members will be able to consider in committee if our coverage is sufficient.

What is even more deplorable is the slack approach taken by the government since 1976, especially since the worst nuclear catastrophe the world has seen, Chernobyl, happened in 1988. How is it that the federal government has waited all this time before acting and proposing an increase in the coverage level?

Today, I would make it clear that we support Bill C-5 in principle. However, as parliamentarians, we will have to focus on the entire issue, both the question of nuclear power and the question of nuclear waste. We will also have to consider those questions with a view to the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation in the world in future.

In my opinion, this issue must be examined in its entirety. Naturally, we support Bill C-5, as my colleague has said. Of course, an in-depth discussion must be held about both the question of radioactive waste and the advisability of encouraging this type of power. Most importantly, we will have to examine the level of coverage and liability for nuclear energy promoters in Canada.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his speech, which was very clear.

I would like to ask him a question about the life cycle of a nuclear plant. A life cycle includes all costs: research and development, construction, operation, insurance, police surveillance around the plant, security, decommissioning, demolition, decontamination and the monitoring of waste for one or several thousand years.

I would like my colleague to tell me one thing. If all these resources were invested and the government was not involved, would the private sector still be interested in operating nuclear plants, for which the costs are very high? I would like him to tell me if he thinks that the costs are enormous.

If the project was truly evaluated, given its life cycle and including the externalities which are not usually covered by the private sector, would a nuclear plant be feasible and profitable?

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, one environmental concern that must always be examined when considering such a question is the life cycle of a product. That is crucial. Issues linked to the transportation of waste must also be examined. Basically, someone has to ensure the necessary investments are made, from the research and development stage to the waste treatment stage.

We can see very clearly where the nuclear industry is headed in Canada. For example, certain areas of Quebec and Canada will be asked to bury nuclear waste in their land, with the promise of astronomical payments. In reality, that waste must be treated.

I am very concerned about the scenario being presented by the federal government, where three sites are the focus. I am thinking specifically about the Labrador site, but also about the North Shore site. An attempt is being made to convince certain mayors that taking on this kind of waste will enrich their region.

One thing must be considered, and that is the Seaborn commission report. My colleague from Sherbrooke, who is present here today, was our natural resources critic at the time. What is needed is a solution that is technologically acceptable. Yet the Seaborn report indicated that social acceptability is just as important in any proposed solution.

As my hon. colleague from Brome—Missisquoi said, this assessment must take into consideration the entire life cycle of the product, and not be conducted only by sector or by niche. The problem is comprehensive and the solution must be equally comprehensive.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague on his speech about the nuclear industry and nuclear waste management. These days, as we all know, when it comes to disposing of any kind of waste, people almost always say, “Not in my backyard”. That is currently the biggest problem we have with household waste.

In terms of nuclear waste, apparently they have figured out a way to treat it or bury it, but deciding where to bury it is a big problem. Earlier, they said it might be in Labrador or on the North Shore, and they promised astronomical compensation and fees.

When I was a member of the natural resources committee, I was worried that once they found a so-called acceptable method, Canada would open its doors to nuclear waste from other countries because nobody on this planet wants to worry about managing it. It also looks like locations have been selected. Nearly all of the locations where the government wants to bury nuclear waste are in Quebec, even though Quebec is home to just one of Canada's 22 nuclear plants and accounts for a very small proportion of the country's nuclear production.

I would like my colleague to comment on the possibility that countries that are currently producing nuclear power will be looking for places to bury nuclear waste that are not on their own soil.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. Quebec has only one nuclear power plant, and the preferred waste disposal site is on the lower North Shore. For the information of the Conservative member from Quebec, there is only one nuclear plant in Quebec: Gentilly.

The federal government needs to keep in mind that Quebec is responsible for about 5% of the nuclear waste produced here in Canada. Yet the government has included three sites, including the site on the lower North Shore. My colleague is right. We also have to look at how we will move this waste. Will we use the St. Lawrence Seaway, which our friends opposite claim could be a terrorist target? There is a very real risk associated with the government's decision to choose the lower North Shore site for the treatment and disposal of nuclear waste in Canada. There is the question of responsibility.

Let me give the House some background. In the 1960s, we had the choice between nuclear and hydroelectric power. We chose hydroelectricity. In Quebec, 95% of our electricity is hydroelectricity and comes from renewable sources. And today, we are being told by the members opposite that Quebec would be responsible for 95% of Canada's nuclear waste? I do not believe that Quebeckers will be very happy to make that choice. That is why I do not believe this waste should be treated in Quebec.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-5, An Act respecting civil liability and compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident.

From the outset, we will have to make changes in committee. The Bloc Québécois will have to make improvements to the bill, as it always does to protect the interests of Quebeckers as well as Canadians. I must say that just because we are tackling Bill C-5 to increase compensation for damage, does not mean we support the Conservative government's whole plan for developing nuclear energy.

I find it very inconsistent of the government to introduce a bill in this House to increase compensation for damage while the Prime Minister is currently prohibiting his ministers from discussing the entire nuclear energy plan. It is being discussed in secret, behind closed doors, with the United States among others, in the framework of the global nuclear energy partnership.

Those who follow the news in print media understand quite well that the Prime Minister's Office issued an order banning his ministers—and his members of Parliament—from talking. It is clear that the Conservative Party intends to move forward with developing nuclear energy. It is not for nothing that it is introducing Bill C-5 to increase compensation for damage. Since 1990, the government has been very lax and has not increased the amount of compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident.

Today, the government is introducing a bill as a precursor. It is increasing compensation for damage. It seems that the Conservative government intends to push the development of nuclear energy and invest time and money on the side, in secret, while preventing its members of Parliament and its ministers from talking about it.

This is very difficult for us, as Quebeckers, in the Bloc Québécois. Earlier my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie explained quite well that there is only a single nuclear power plant in Quebec. Roughly 95% of our energy comes from hydroelectricity, without a cent from the federal government. I want to remind my colleagues from all the parties that Quebec developed hydroelectricity without any federal money by using the hydroelectricity fees and the taxes paid by Quebeckers.

So, you will understand our hesitation when we see the federal government using public funds to invest in nuclear energy or any other kind of energy while we in Quebec have developed hydroelectricity using our own tax revenues. Yet we pay one quarter of the bill when the government decides to invest in nuclear or other, fossil fuel energy. It is difficult to accept, especially because the wrong message is being sent. The Conservatives have become the master impressionists. They are trying to give the impression that they will solve our energy problems.

Witness the news release issued in June by the Minister of Natural Resources. The title was “Canada's Nuclear Future: Clean, Safe, Responsible”. The minister wanted to spread the message that it is clean energy. However, in responding to a journalist’s question about what would be done with radioactive waste, if nuclear energy were developed, he said that he did not know. They do not know where they will bury radioactive waste. They have not yet decided.

As my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie said, there is one part of Quebec where they hope to offer significant royalties to Quebec for burying radioactive waste produced in other parts of Canada. Surely, you will understand our hesitation. They are trying to make us believe that nuclear energy is clean, even though there is a large and serious problem concerning nuclear waste. This Conservative government, just like the Liberal government before it, has not been able to solve this problem.

Nuclear energy creates considerable waste. Where and how is that waste going to be buried? What will be the result of all that, especially, in terms of transport? Absolutely nothing has been settled but the federal government decided to go ahead and participate, under the table, as I have explained, in discussion with other partners, including the United States, as part of a global nuclear energy partnership. They want to develop a nuclear network. They do not know where the radioactive waste will be disposed. Obviously, they hope that Quebec will accept it. You should understand that we produce only about five percent of all the nuclear waste produced in Canada.

Some people want Quebec to accept all the nuclear waste. You must know that the people of Quebec will not be fooled. This bill, which is in three parts, covers the operator’s responsibilities, the conditions and financial limitations of responsibility and the establishment of a nuclear claims tribunal.

The fact that the amount of damages jumps from $75 million to $650 million reveals the laxity of the federal government over the past 31 years because there have been no amendments in all that time. This is the first time that a major amendment has been introduced.

Clearly, one must ask a serious question. Is the amount of $650 million sufficient, considering that, in our opinion, the federal government should not be investing any money in nuclear development?

We should leave the responsibility of paying the full amount of the bill to those who want to develop this kind of energy. You must understand that in Quebec, it was Quebeckers themselves who paid for hydroelectric development. Therefore, it would be perfectly normal that those who want to develop the nuclear option should pay the whole cost.

Quebeckers do not need to be obliged to pay one-quarter of this bill because they already provide between 23% and 25% of all the money that Canada spends. We would like to say something about the fines. If there is a violation some day, will $650 million be enough? We will study this in committee. Witnesses will be called and we will place our trust in the committee responsible for improving this bill.

At first glance—and from reading articles by people who are knowledgeable and expert in the field—we are inclined to say that the fines will have to be substantial because the damages from nuclear catastrophes can be incredibly large. In view of what happened at Chernobyl, the last great nuclear catastrophe, I do not think that $650 million will suffice. The bill should be very clear on the levying of fines and the way in which the nuclear industry should be allowed to develop so that funds can be created that are sufficient to deal with nuclear incidents or catastrophes.

If Canada wants to go in this direction and the Conservatives intend to continue what they have started over the last few weeks and months, that is to say, international negotiations or discussions on the development of the nuclear industry, it will be very important for them to be able to impose rules on the people involved in this form of energy. In our view, it should not be up to the federal government to provide any money at all for the development of nuclear power.

The provinces and people who want to have this kind of power should do it, but they should also create a compensation fund so that it is not the taxpayers, including those from Quebec, who are summoned once again to cover some of the bill.

I will never be able to say it enough, but it is very important for my colleagues to understand that the federal government did not contribute any money at all toward the development of the entire hydroelectric system in Quebec. It was Quebeckers who did it. The federal government never contributed. This was not the case, however, of the development of fossil fuels, including oil, and more than $40 billion has been invested since 1990 in the development of other kinds of energy, including nuclear.

We would therefore like it to end. We have to stop making Quebec pay for developing other people’s energy, while we ourselves are paying, with no federal assistance, to develop our own energy. It bears repeating: hydroelectricity is clean energy and we are proud of it. This is a choice that Quebeckers made in the 1960s. We could have chosen nuclear power, but we decided to invest in hydroelectricity, and it has paid off for us. It is what has made Quebec the first province to be able to meet the Kyoto objectives.

If Quebec were a country, we would have ratified the Kyoto protocol. We would be taking part in discussions about the carbon exchange and we could be benefiting our businesses, which have clearly made efforts, in both the manufacturing sector and the aluminum industry, and which have succeeded in reducing their emissions based on the objectives set in the 1992 Kyoto protocol.

Quebec companies have thus done far better than the Kyoto objectives set in 1992. As of today, we would be able to sell credits on the carbon exchange. That is not the case, because obviously we are part of Canada, which will never ratify the Kyoto protocol, regardless of what the federal government’s environment ministers may say, particularly the Conservatives, who are trying to negotiate agreements with other countries that would run flatly counter to the Kyoto protocol and try to create their own system for doing things.

All the while, the icebergs are melting in the North and we are talking about a navigable passage in the North. This is a direct consequence of the greenhouse gases that are destroying the most beautiful ice fields on the planet, on which a large part of our ecosystem depends. This is a choice made by the Conservatives. We see it again today, with bills to oversee nuclear development, with a Prime Minister who stops his ministers from even talking to journalists about the nuclear option. We see where this government wants to go: against the Kyoto protocol, pro-nuclear, pro-war, everything to destroy our wonderful planet. This is the choice made by the Conservatives.

It is clear that the purpose of my speech is to state that although the Bloc Québécois does support this bill to increase liabilities and fines for those who could cause damage through a nuclear catastrophe, it is not because we support the development of nuclear energy. Quite the contrary, we will completely defend only the development of clean energy that does not produce radioactive waste.

Once again this government is making a mistake by trying to sell nuclear energy as a clean energy source. No, it does not emit greenhouse gases, but it does produce radioactive waste that takes tens of millions of years to break down. The exact figure has not yet been calculated. We should be able to decontaminate this waste. We must stop trying to bury it. Given that the technology has not yet been developed, Canadian regions, including Quebec's North Shore among others, are offered large sums. There is a wish to bury the waste from other Canadian provinces in Quebec, despite the fact that Quebeckers decided to develop a clean energy, hydroelectricity, using their own money.

It is clear now that the Bloc Québécois will support bill C-5, but it will make improvements to it in committee. As for the $650 million in damages, we find that a very low figure given that a nuclear catastrophe would cost a great deal more. Witnesses will be called in order to adjust this amount. This does not mean that, while we support Bill C-5, we support the way in which this Conservative government has decided to develop nuclear energy, behind closed doors, in secret negotiations with other countries.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. He will have seven minutes for his comments after oral question period.

Auditor General of Canada
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I have the honour to table the report of the Auditor General of Canada for 2007. The report includes a supplement on environmental petitions from January 5 to June 30, 2007.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g) the document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Environment and Sustainable Development
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I have the honour to lay upon the table, pursuant to subsection 23(3) of the Auditor General Act, the report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the House of Commons for the year 2007.

This document is referred permanently to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Malaria
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, malaria is the leading killer of children in Africa. A child dies every 30 seconds, 3,000 children every day. It is horrific and shocking statistic, particularly when we know that malaria could be prevented through the use of an insecticide treated bed net.

Established in 2004, Buy-a-Net Malaria Prevention Group is the first Canadian citizen driven initiative aimed at the prevention of malaria, one village at a time in Africa. Buy-a-Net is an example of effective action and leadership on the global war on malaria.

Through Buy-a-Net, Canadians have the opportunity to truly make a difference in the battle against this preventable disease.

It is with pride that I bring attention to the efforts of Canadians helping to protect children in Africa from malaria.

Peter Garrison
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, on October 19 a terrible tragedy befell my community of Richmond. Peter Garrison died when his plane crashed into a high-rise. The accident cost us his life, injured two others and left as many as 135 members of my community homeless.

I am proud that our community has responded spontaneously. The Tsu Chi Foundation was first at the scene and S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and the Richmond emergency social services unit were all there to help the victims. Many citizens have opened up their homes to help.

I have met with many of the victims and they have several important questions to ask the government.

Why is the minimum airplane insurance set at $100,000?

Should changes be made to the flight plans taking planes away from densely populated areas?

Should stricter licensing requirements be made based on age and previous accidents?

We must take the necessary steps to make sure this never happens again.

Access to Water
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Guy Laliberté for launching ONE DROP, a global foundation to deal with access to water issues.

The founder of Cirque du Soleil has committed to a $100 million contribution over the next 25 years. The Royal Bank of Canada and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation were among the first to join the initiative.

Guy Laliberté's desire to create this foundation reminds us of a serious problem: at least every eight seconds, a child dies because of lack of access to drinking water. A pilot project has already been implemented in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the world, with the help of OXFAM International.

The Bloc Québécois believes that anything done to improve the living conditions of impoverished people throughout the world represents a step forward for humanity. For this reason, we would like to commend the ONE DROP initiative.

Government Procurement Policy
Statements By Members

October 30th, 2007 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, we make the best buses in the world right here in Canada, but when the military needed 30 new troop carrier buses, it gave the contract to a company in Germany. Why? Because the German bid was one-half of 1% lower than Motor Coach Industries in Winnipeg or Prévost Car Inc. in Quebec.

Canadian workers got screwed out of these jobs for less than $2,000 per bus on buses that cost $500,000 each to build. We sold out Canadian workers for less than the cost of a set of tires.

Now our tax dollars are creating jobs in Germany instead of in Winnipeg or Quebec. Now government will not get the tax revenue that would have paid for a quarter of the total purchase cost of the buses and, worst of all, this shortsighted stupidity sends a message to all of our NATO allies, “Hey, if you want to buy a really good troop carrier, buy German. That's what we did”.

We need a made in Canada procurement policy. If our own government will not stand up for Canadian manufacturing jobs, who will?

Davie Shipyard
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, a new day is rising on Lévis.

Yesterday, I was at the Champlain dry dock of Canada's largest shipyard to attend the laying of the first block ceremony for an ultra-sophisticated offshore-built ship in the presence of 425 workers, dignitaries, clients and journalists.

Twenty months ago, the Davie Shipyard, which had been in operation since 1825, was on the verge of bankruptcy and engaged in an almost irreversible final winding-up process. This might have happened had it not been for the extraordinary persistence and perseverance of those who built it and who work there.

Today, it is a revitalized shipyard with state-of-the-art equipment, an impeccable yard and orders for five ships totalling $635 million to be delivered by 2010. What spectacular turnabout.

I want to tip my hat to Davie's president, Gilles Gagné, and his loyal team of experienced managers, to the union's president, Paul-André Brulotte, and all the workers and their families, as well as to Tore Enger and Sigurd Lange, from Teco Management. I pay tribute to them for having lead the shipyard to a successful recovery against all odds.

Long Live Davie Quebec.