Nuclear Fuel Waste Act

An Act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.


Ralph Goodale  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Pest Control Products ActThe Royal Assent

June 13th, 2002 / 4:45 p.m.
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The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber, the Deputy Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-43, an act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act—Chapter 17.

Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada—Chapter 18.

Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization—Chapter 19.

Bill S-41, an act to re-enact legislative instruments enacted in only one official language—Chapter 20.

Bill C-27, an act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste—Chapter 22.

Bill C-47, an act respecting the taxation of spirits, wine and tobacco and the treatment of ships' stores—Chapter 22.

Bill C-59, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2003—Chapter 21.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2002 / 1 p.m.
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Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-57, which was introduced at first reading on May 31, 2002.

It is fair to say that in this House we have seen more comprehensive bills amending a number of acts. However, the bill before us today amends a single section of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. According to the sponsor of the bill, the Minister of Natural Resources, the bill is designed to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. He calls it an administrative amendment or bill, meaning that it is not a complete overhaul of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

However, this amendment, even though this is not obvious yet, will have a serious impact on the way the nuclear industry operates here in Canada. It is significant that the minister has decided to introduce the bill we are debating today. The bill amends the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

Of course, I will speak about Bill C-57 and the amendments at issue, but I would also like to talk about the long term management of nuclear waste.

Members will recall that there has already been a debate in the House on the disposal of nuclear waste. This debate took place in the context of Bill C-27. This was an interesting bill, as it was introduced and considered in committee. It was also interesting because Canada studied the issue of nuclear waste management for a ten year period with the Seaborn commission, which I will speak about later.

Of course, I will speak to Bill C-57, and I will also refer to Bill C-27 and the whole issue of nuclear waste disposal. I will also speak to the issue of the importance of public consultations in cases where the disposal of such waste is being considered in locations and regions in Quebec and Canada.

As an example, there is a case we asked questions about to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission just this morning in the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. There was even a ruling on this case by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. It is the case of the Bruce complex in Ontario. This is a site where radioactive waste will be stored on the shores of Lake Huron, and the residents would have liked a commission to have been set up, through the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, to consult with residents and to study the projects.

The Bruce complex is located on the shores of Lake Huron and has been designated, first, as a high level complex. Second, it is one of the biggest disposal sites in the world. The residents would therefore have liked to have been consulted.

Finally, I would like to close by outlining to Canadians and Quebecers the impact that nuclear waste and nuclear energy can have on human health. A number of reports have been published on this. These reports conclude that nuclear waste and nuclear energy are significant in the development of certain diseases when workers, residents and more specifically children are near this waste.

So, Bill C-57 amends the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. Clause 1 would replace a paragraph in the current legislation, which reads as follows: “--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”.

Bill C-57 would amend paragraph 46(3) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to read as follows: “--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”.

In fact, only a few words will be changed if this bill is passed. But the impact will be considerable.

In his press release, the minister tells us that these amendments are purely administrative. That may be so from a cosmetic point of view, but the impact will be considerable.

What are the government's true intentions in introducing this amendment? It is good to ask ourselves this question. If the amendment is purely administrative, there should not be any impact. But this bill amends the act significantly and will have a considerable impact on the development of the nuclear industry here in Canada.

Basically, the government wants this amendment to exempt one group from decontamination obligations. Third parties should no longer be responsible for decontamination.

In this connection, we know what the government's intentions are. Its true intentions are to ensure, for example, that a bank making a loan to a nuclear plant could—under the existing legislation, if we succeed in defeating this bill—be taken to court and would inevitably incur very high costs.

It is primarily to exempt these third parties, the banks, those able to finance the nuclear industry, that this bill was introduced.

The government wants to arrange it so that those parties—be they banks or other interests—who have helped developed the nuclear industry in Canada are exempt from their decontamination obligation.

This runs counter to a fundamental principle recognized in Quebec which is that the polluter pays. Anyone who contributed to the contamination of a site must share the costs of decontamination.

We on this side of the House are of the opinion that to the extent that a citizen, a third party, but more importantly a citizen, whether a corporate entity or not, has contributed to contamination by nuclear wastes, he must assume the costs thereof. This is what the government is trying to take away with this bill and this is basically what we are opposed to.

There have been some significant debates on this in the past. As my colleague from Sherbrooke has indicated, a commission was set up here in Canada because the storage of nuclear waste needed to be given some thought. There are 20,000 metric tonnes of waste—or 18,000 to be more precise—in Canada at the present time.

This represents 1.3 million bundles, as we know, and we also know that there are three types of waste: nuclear fuel waste, low level radioactive waste and uranium mine and mill tailings.

It is worthwhile taking the time to look at the nuclear waste situation in Canada. It must be pointed out that, of these 20,000 tonnes of waste, the bulk of it comes from spent nuclear fuel bundles. We are talking here of the 22 Candu reactors, most of which date back to the 1970s. Ontario Power Generation Inc. is currently operating 20 reactors. At the present time, 90% of the nuclear waste is in Ontario.

Hydro Québec produces some at its Gentilly plant, of course, but the nuclear waste produced in Quebec accounts for only 3% of the total of 20,000 tonnes currently available, if I may use such a term.

An energy company in New Brunswick accounts for another 5%. Atomic Energy of Canada' experimental reactors produce 2%, of the total of 1.3 million bundles.

We have trouble understanding how certain obligations can be taken away, how steps can be taken so that third parties will no longer be responsible for decontamination, when we can see what the problem is like in Canada at this time as far as the management of nuclear waste storage is concerned. How can bills get passed in this House that will facilitate the development of the Canadian nuclear industry while we are having such trouble managing the present 18,000 tonnes? This makes no sense whatsoever.

Why, as a matter of public policy, are we not focusing on the development of clean renewable energies, as my colleague from Jonquière suggested about ten minutes ago? How can we adopt measures like the one in front of us, which benefits this industry, while we are still waiting for financial incentives to develop renewable energies?

I am glad to see that the Minister of Environment is present to hear what I have to say. How can he feel comfortable in a debate on this issue? How can we reject that proposal and apply the polluter pay principle? This bill raises some questions.

I will summarize the Seaborn commission findings. For one thing, what we are expecting from the government in terms of a nuclear fuel waste management plan is that the technical aspects of the storage program be taken into consideration at the planning stage.

Public consultation has to be at the basis of the Canadian policy on waste management. Canadians livre right beside the waste storage complexes. The best solution cannot be only technical. It has to include a sociological approach to management. We would have liked to see the government focus on green energy instead of making social choices that favour the Canadian nuclear industry.

The government is again being called to account for its refusal to hold public consultations, which were called for by the Seaborn commission.

On May 30, 2002, Normand de la Chevrotière appeared as a witness before the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, on the issue of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Bill C-19. He told us that his group, which includes 300 families, had asked the government to establish an environmental assessment board to examine the Bruce complex, which is designed to store radioactive nuclear waste near his community.

This complex on the shore of Huron Lake and the waste storage site are considered among the biggest in the world and are termed high level facilities, and experts will understand what I mean. People from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission told us this morning that they are certainly the biggest in North America.

I was reading some papers this morning, particularly an article from the September 1996 issue of Québec Science . Six years ago, the possibility of storing weapons grade plutonium from Russia and the U.S. at the Bruce complex was being examined . Six years ago, papers in the scientific community were considering this possibility.

The Department of Environment deemed that it was not appropriate to consult the public. It does not matter that 300 families will be living close to this site.

I want to go back to what I was saying two minutes ago when I was referring to the conclusions of the Seaborn panel. Sure, it is necessary to evaluate storage techniques but, more importantly, the public must be consulted.

I am under the impression that this bill is providing oxygen to the Canadian nuclear industry. The government is promoting the establishment in Canada of places to store nuclear waste, while ensuring that third parties, who may not necessarily have the responsibility to manage these sites, cannot be required to decontaminate them.

If a bank decides to fund the Bruce complex storage project, will it be responsible for decontaminating the site if this bill is passed? The answer is no. Those who will have provided the necessary funding to establish this complex on the shores of Lake Huron will have no environmental responsibility.

We want this government to send to the nuclear industry a clear message that its members must behave like good corporate citizens. The legislation already provides for the funding of storage projects by banks. However, it is totally unacceptable on the part of the government to remove the banks' responsibilities by condoning this.

So, this bill must be examined from a different perspective, not from the perspective of the government, which is trying to fool us with mere administrative and cosmetic arguments, because it wants to ram this legislation through the House. This shows how, sometimes, bills that amend only one section may have a major impact.

This is why we are opposed to the bill's only clause. It will have a major impact on the development of Canada's nuclear industry.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2002 / 11:15 a.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, I listened closely to the comments of my colleague on the particular change to the act proposed by Bill C-57.

My colleagues from Athabasca, Sherbrooke, and although he did not speak yet, my colleague from Windsor--St. Clair, have spoken at length on a number of government nuclear policies and the importance of various pieces of legislation affecting the nuclear industry. We have agreed with many of the policies. I take no exception to the thoughtful comments made by my colleague from Sherbrooke although I expect that at the end of the day on this vote we will probably not be in complete agreement. That does not take away from the importance of what my colleague from Sherbrooke said.

Bill C-57, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, is almost a piece of housekeeping legislation. The difficulty, as has been mentioned already, with housekeeping legislation introduced by the government is that one has to go back and check the entire bill again because there is always something hidden.

In this case I do not think there is anything hidden. It is a pretty straightforward, uncomplicated change contained in a few words in subsection 46(3) of the bill.

The government House leader rose earlier and asked that we pass all stages of the bill. The Progressive Conservative Party is in agreement with that. However, it has been said, and needs to be said again, that this is not timely. The government had an opportunity to bring it forward and did not bring it forward. All of a sudden we have a bill on the table in the dying days of this sitting of the House.

Once again there is an unprecedented urgency that all stages of the bill be passed in unison. Because of the subject matter, I agree, but the point needs to be made that it is not the way legislation or changes to legislation should be brought to the House. We should be more thorough in the original legislation. Part of the problem is the absolute sloppiness of the legislation the government has been passing, and its absolute refusal to make amendments to poorly worded legislation.

Under proposed subsection 46(3) in the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, that measure can be interpreted to extend liability for nuclear site remediation, as it is worded now, to an owner, operator or any other person with a right to, or an interest in, the affected land or place.

Obviously that was a mistake in the original act that should have been picked up. Unfortunately it was not picked up and as a result of that clause banks or other financial institutions are reluctant to lend money to nuclear operators because of potential liability. The cost of the liability could exceed the initial financing to the operator and negatively affect the financial situation of the lending institution. This is unprecedented in any other section of Canadian law or legislation.

Even with the changes it is conceivable that a lending institution could still be liable if it owns the property. If for some reason the original owner forecloses then the lending institution could be held liable. That is a different situation and it is not unforeseen with the changes.

Under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is the nuclear control agency, is authorized to conduct investigations to see if nuclear contamination exists onsite if and when any site has been decommissioned. Under subsection 46(3) the commission can order that measures be taken to minimize or eliminate the contamination and that those measures be carried out in a prompt manner, as it should be. However, who is liable for the cost of that clean up?

It was mentioned earlier by my colleague from Athabasca that subsection 46(3) in the original legislation was a section carried over from the mining sector. It was not really meant to affect the operation and control of nuclear reactors. It was meant to deal with mine site reclamation, acid mine drainage and possible tailing ponds contamination to any area surrounding a mine or a smelter. There are ways to deal with that. It was not meant to hinder or control financiers of the nuclear sector.

This is not about whether one supports nuclear energy or not. This is not about all of the correct things said earlier about our responsibility as legislators to seek more avenues and opportunities for green power, hydroelectricity, wind energy, solar energy and thermal energy. That is not what this is about.

This is about taking away the liability of a lending institution from the responsibility for nuclear onsite contamination. That does not exist if, for example a lending institution suddenly became a service station with onsite gas or diesel contamination which needed to be cleaned up. The lending institution is not responsible for that, nor should it be. This change that has been asked for is not a complicated change.

The amendment to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act addresses a number of issues. The possibility of liability for lending institutions for site remediation impedes nuclear facilities from accessing debt financing. Barriers to financing place nuclear operators at a competitive disadvantage compared to non-nuclear operators where barriers do not exist. The amendment also addresses nuclear facilities able to produce electricity with minimal greenhouse gas emissions.

This is not about whether we are supporters or non-supporters of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is a fact of life. Nuclear energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The government is trying to get public opinion on its side to sign Kyoto. There are good reasons to look at the agreements under Kyoto and it is the government's responsibility to look at those agreements. As Canada attempts to meet its commitments under Kyoto there is no question that we will have to turn to alternative sources of energy, namely nuclear energy.

It is not the job of government to stifle the nuclear sector or to prevent it from being a supplier of clean energy. Nuclear waste is still problematic and has not been dealt with. All opposition parties in the House voted against Bill C-27, an act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste, because it was a poorly worded, poorly crafted and sloppy piece of legislation. The government has not dealt with the long term storage problems inherent in the nuclear energy sector. However, that does not mean that we should not approve a small change to the legislation which would allow nuclear operators to access debt financing.

It is not apparent to me that there is the legislative intent in the original wording of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to extend site remediation liability to parties without management or control of operations. I certainly believe that statement. What has happened here is exactly what happened with regard to the storage of nuclear waste in Bill C-27. What happened was that a piece of legislation that was supposed to be housekeeping legislation, just a matter of tying a few loose ends together, became legislation because the government has a huge majority and a huge ego. It could not bear the fact that well-meaning amendments were needed to make that piece of legislation better and to make this piece of legislation better. The government simply voted down the amendments.

It is not about whether the amendments are good or bad, quite frankly. It is about whether or not the Liberals put their majority in place in the committee and vote down amendments because they come from an opposition party. I have made amendments to Liberal government legislation which were voted down at committee and then the government brought back to the House the exact same amendments with the exact same wording and passed them. This is not about passing good legislation. It is all about the ego of a huge majority government that has not done its job.

The next government to come to power will have to go back through all the legislation that the government has passed and improve it. It will not have to change every detail and every word of it but it will have to improve it.

The amendment to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act which we are dealing with today will change the wording of subsection 46(3) to limit liability to those with “management and control” of the affected sites. This will replace the reference to anyone “with a right to or an interest in”, which clearly puts the liability of any nuclear contamination upon the person with management or control of that site. There has been some opposition to the idea: that somehow we are helping out the big banks or the big financiers of the world. It does not exclude them from responsibility if in fact they have management or control of that site.

If there were a private nuclear institution, nuclear producers who actually found themselves in financial difficulty and went bankrupt, and the financiers loaning the money to that institution suddenly became the owners or were in management of or control of that institution, they would assume the liability, which they should. That is a different situation and that situation is covered.

However, for a regular institution loaning money, why should the government hamper and burden the nuclear sector under what is really a very strange clause that never should have been there to begin with and is there only because the government side of the House has not passed clear, consistent, well thought out legislation in this piece of legislation or in any other piece of legislation?

The PC Party will support this change to the legislation because it will provide operators of nuclear facilities with the opportunity to access debt financing from private investors. Clearly that is needed. It is important for a number of reasons. It is important to allow nuclear operators to compete equally with other electricity generators and operators and it is important to be consistent with other environmental legislation. We should not be singling out the nuclear sector as one that is somehow different from other sectors. We have a certain amount of and, I think, a very clear environmental responsibility, which should sit evenly on all sectors. The amendment clarifies the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and limits the liability of banks and other financial institutions providing funding to nuclear facilities, as I believe it should.

In closing, let me say again that this is not about nuclear energy or non-nuclear energy. This is about an amendment that should have been made in the original act, a change that should have taken place in the wording of the original act and never did. It is not about supporting or not supporting alternative sectors. I believe everyone in the House supports more clean energy, more green energy, wherever that green energy is from, including ways of improving the so-called dirty energy sectors, the oil generation, certainly even any hydrocarbon electricity generating stations and coal-fired electricity generating stations. There are many areas where we can do a better job and where we have a responsibility to do a better job. There are all kinds of tidal, wind and deep sea current energy that has yet to be harnessed or utilized in Canada. We can spend $66 billion, as has been mentioned earlier, to improve our capacity to burn oil. We spent somewhere around $296 million, which I think was the quote, on types of alternative energy. Something is seriously wrong. It is a completely lopsided agenda that the government has.

Let us take a look at the alternatives, but let us not stifle the nuclear energy sector while we are doing that. This does not take away the government's responsibility to deal with nuclear waste, which it has not done. This does not take away the responsibility of the nuclear sector to be a very good guardian of the planet, to prevent nuclear contamination and to prevent any form of radioactive contamination. However, for the purposes of the bill, for a very simple change in the wording, we support the piece of legislation. It is not timely, being brought in at the end of the session, but it is needed and the PC Party will support it.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

February 26th, 2002 / 6 p.m.
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The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

The question is therefore on the main motion for third reading of Bill C-27.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

February 26th, 2002 / 5:30 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the recorded division on the previous question at the third reading stage of Bill C-27.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

February 22nd, 2002 / 12:30 p.m.
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Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, discussions have taken place among all parties. There is agreement pursuant to Standing Order 45(7) to further defer the recorded division requested on the motion proposed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons concerning third reading of Bill C-27 until the end of government orders on Tuesday, February 26.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

February 22nd, 2002 / 12:20 p.m.
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Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, we have come to the end of the third reading debate on Bill C-27, an act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste.

We cannot address this topic without being concerned, since this reality bluntly raises the issue of our collective responsibility toward the safety of our environment and our planet. Indeed, we are talking about our planet, about the future of life on this planet, and about the health of generations to come.

If, for a while, nuclear research held out the hope of a wonderful source of energy for humanity, this false hope has faded since, and the problem of waste management that it has created illustrates in a concrete way the difficulty of maintaining security and development and of respecting and protecting the environment. Developed countries are among those largely responsible for political decisions in connection with the proliferation of this waste. People who are listening to us will agree with me when I say that Canada cannot evade its responsibilities or underestimate the consequences of its decisions. Yet, the very essence of Bill C-27 suggests that this government is ignoring willingly this worldwide problem.

In good faith and no doubt very naively, the Bloc Québécois supported Bill C-27 at second reading. At that time, we were hopeful that it could be improved at committee stage, ensuring some damage control. But the Liberals rejected all our amendments. Therefore, we will vote against Bill C-27 and we are not reluctant in describing the government's attitude as anti-environment.

I will not be able to list all the objections we raised, to which the government did not listen. But the House will no doubt allow me to outline important amendments that were rejected indifferently.

Everyone recognizes that Bill C-27 is far from responding to the recommendations of the Seaborn panel. For nine years, this independent panel held consultations, carried out environmental impact studies and asked the public for input. The report findings particularly emphasized the fact that Canadians and Quebecers' support is essential for accepting the principle of nuclear fuel waste management, and that the safety of the management system is only one of the essential criteria for acceptability.

One of the suggestions made in the Seaborn report was to develop a comprehensive public consultation plan and to establish a reliable nuclear waste management agency. Another one was that the federal regulatory control with respect to the scientific-technical work and the adequacy of the financial guarantees be subject to regular public review.

Pursuant to clause 6(1), the Minister of Natural Resources will be solely responsible for establishing the waste management organization that will be asked to propose to the Government of Canada approaches for the management of nuclear fuel waste. The problem is that the energy corporations who produce the waste, like Atomic Energy Canada, will be part of the waste management organization.

Everyone knows that Atomic Energy Canada is a crown corporation reporting to the natural resources minister. So, obviously, the minister and the waste management organization will not be having an arms' length relationship. The Minister of Natural Resources will be judge and jury in the decision making process. If that is not a conflict of interest, what is?

To make the decision process more transparent and independent, the Bloc Québécois suggested that clause 2 be amended so that the environment minister be responsible for the act, instead of the natural resources minister. We do not accept the lack of transparency in this bill nor the chummy relationship between the minister and the energy corporations.

The Bloc Québécois believes that the members of the waste management organization should be designated by the governor in council on the recommendation of the House of Commons standing committee. Under Bill C-27, it would be up to the energy corporations to establish the waste management organization that will have to propose to the minister a long term management approach.

We condemn this decision and the Bloc Québécois supports the recommendations of the Seaborn panel that energy companies be excluded from the management organization.

How can we have any confidence in a management system with no new body independent from current producers and owners of waste, and one whose overall mandate is geared toward safety?

By refusing to amend clause 6(2) to ensure that no nuclear energy corporation can be part of the waste management organization, the government is clearly saying that public safety is not its primary concern.

Real public consultations are needed; in fact, they are essential. We deeply deplore the fact that the decision to use the Canadian Shield as a long term burial site for waste was not the discussed through any public consultation, and that the federal government decided to bulldoze any public consultation by limiting impact studies to three years for the future management organization.

We think that our amendment, to the effect that this organization should have ten years instead of just three, would indeed have allowed for an intelligent and thorough consultation. As members surely know, our proposal was ignored. The government is not only acting irresponsibly, it is also showing contempt for the public.

Moreover, Bill C-27 does not guarantee that the public will be consulted. Indeed, the bill provides that the minister may consult the public, the provinces and the aboriginals. The minister has the right, but not the obligation, to do so. Again, this contradicts the Seaborn report. The Bloc Quebecois, and the public, will not settle for bogus consultations like those that lasted 28 days on MOX.

In fact, the Bloc Québécois vainly tried to have Bill C-27 amended to ban imports of nuclear waste or MOX in Canada. Our amendment was defeated. The Liberals rejected our proposal. Bill C-27 ignores the indispensable support of Canadians and Quebecers in the whole issue of nuclear fuel waste management.

The amendment proposed by the Bloc Québécois regarding clause 15 was also ignored. We firmly believe that the House of Commons should imperatively be consulted on the management method chosen.

To whom does clause 15 give the final say in the selection of the nuclear waste management approach? How surprising: the winner is the governor in council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Natural Resources. Clause 15 of the bill should have been amended, so that the management approach would be chosen on the recommendation of the standing committee of the House of Commons.

The impact of Bill C-27 is all the more a cause for concern, since the management organization provided for in the bill will not come under the Access to Information Act. Openness was an essential condition clearly recommended in the Seaborn report. The Bloc Quebecois thinks all the documents created by the management organization, including environmental impact assessments, should be made publicly available if need be.

This is the reason why we have asked that the Access to Information Act apply to the management organization. But the Liberals rejected our amendment. Do they have something else to hide, besides their Canada Deuterium Uranium containers, also called CANDUs?

Quebec could very well be the first victim here. The geological formation chosen for the permanent disposal of nuclear waste is the Canadian Shield. As my colleague from Jonquière indicated, the Canadian Shield includes 90% of the Quebec territory.

I would like to conclude by saying that Bill C-27 is proof that for the federal government, a Liberal government to boot, the environment is a very low priority.

The Bloc Québécois thinks that the environmental challenge concerns all mankind. We will vote against Bill C-27 because of our concern for quality of life. We will continue to fight for and on behalf of future generations.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

February 22nd, 2002 / 12:05 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, before question period in my debate on Bill C-27, I mentioned a local experience in the constituency of Surrey Central where radioactive material had been stored in the heart of the city of Surrey for 25 years. The government called it temporary storage. That was one local example. Another example in British Columbia is the 8,600 tonnes of dioxin laced hazardous toxic material which is moving into British Columbia from Oregon in the United States.

Those examples show that the government does not care how radioactive hazardous material is stored or that it is moving into Canada.

I asked a question about this situation of the Minister of Natural Resources during question period. He is the political minister responsible for British Columbia and even the environment minister was the former political minister for British Columbia. I asked the minister why hazardous material which is too toxic for the people of Oregon would be safe for British Columbia. I could not understand the answer.

It is important that nuclear waste, which has a lot of radioactive material, or hazardous waste is taken care of properly and stored in a way which is efficient, cost effective and safe.

In conclusion, Canadians are very sensitive when it comes to the nuclear industry. The safety, health and welfare of Canadians are of utmost importance. I stress that the Minister of Natural Resources must take every possible measure to ensure that the waste management organizations focus on results, not just on the process, the bureaucracy part of it or patronage when committees are set up. Focus on the results.

While I register my support for the trust funds created under the bill, I do so with some warnings to the government. Waste management organizations are long overdue. We must ensure that the waste management organizations act responsibly in the disposal of nuclear waste as it could be a potential threat to our security and could lead to terrorism in the future. To do this, they need to keep in mind the security lessons afforded by Russia's experience.

While I support the bill, I give fair warning to the government to act efficiently and effectively.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

February 22nd, 2002 / 10:50 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House again on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to take part in the third reading debate on Bill C-27, an act respecting the long term management of nuclear fuel waste. Members of the House no doubt recall the provisions of the bill from previous stages, therefore I will keep my comments about the bill's contents very brief.

The bill requires the creation of a long term management strategy to make sure that the disposal of nuclear fuel waste is done in a complete, integrated and cost effective manner. To do this, it directs the major owners of nuclear waste, which are Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Ontario Power Generation Inc., Hydro-Québec and New Brunswick Power Corporation, to create waste management organizations to implement these long term strategies.

It also directs these organizations to establish trust funds and make regular payments into them to finance efforts toward long term waste management. These nuclear waste management organizations have a responsibility to come up with a number of fiscally responsible and realistic options for managing these byproducts. Once these options are identified, it becomes the responsibility of the governor in council to choose which one will be used.

It would not be fair to treat the nuclear waste issue as only a domestic one. As a member of the foreign affairs committee studying nuclear proliferation a few years ago, I heard many harrowing tales of how nuclear material was stolen in many of the former Soviet republics and exported by criminal elements. For example, we heard how in Russia the raw material for thousands of Hiroshima bombs was in lightly guarded stockpiles. One observer gave the chilling commentary that “unless something is done or something changes, the next truck bomb could be a nuclear bomb”.

Obviously it is quite important to look at these incidents. There are many. I have examples of 73 different incidents of smuggling of nuclear material from 1993 to 1996. For example, Romanian police had in their possession 82 kilograms of radioactive material, enriched uranium. In another incident, Lithuanian officials seized 100 kilograms of radioactive material, uranium 238. In another incident, the Belarus committee for state security seized five kilograms of cesium 133.

The list goes on. The German parliament discussed how three smugglers offered it 11 kilograms of Russian weapons grade plutonium. Similarly, Greenpeace was offered 800 kilograms of scarred warheads for public display in Berlin. The Czech police seized 2.72 kilograms of this material. Hungarian border guards seized 1.7 kilograms of uranium. The list goes on. As I said, there were 73 different incidents just from 1993 to 1996.

Obviously if Canada is not to become the weak link in nuclear proliferation, Canada's waste management organizations will need to examine security procedures, particularly when we are fighting the war against terrorism.

I also heard that nuclear material and technology is transferred from certain rogue states to countries around the globe that have nuclear ambitions. Both Iran and North Korea are examples of countries that are believed to have transferred nuclear technology and materials to the highest bidder.

Obviously the issue of security and the storage of nuclear waste is not just a Canadian issue. The lesson from these examples is that the Canadian waste management organizations established under Bill C-27 need to have full security procedures in place to ensure that this material does not fall into the wrong hands. This is essential if we are to protect the safety of Canadians.

I have a good example in my constituency. The residents of Surrey Central know a great deal about dealing with radioactive waste. In my constituency of Surrey Central, radioactive material was in temporary storage for 25 years. That 4,000 tonnes of radioactive waste was lying in the open until the federal government realized its carelessness. A company was given a licence in 1972 to import radioactive ore that contained thorium, then the federal government forgot about it. In 1989 the government woke up and created a volunteer based organization called the Surrey sitting task force to look into the disposal and storage of that radioactive material.

When I was on the foreign affairs committee I accidentally found out about that radioactive material being stored in Surrey under unsafe conditions. When I came across this--

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

February 21st, 2002 / 3 p.m.
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Wascana Saskatchewan


Ralph Goodale LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we will continue this afternoon with report stage debate of Bill C-5 respecting species at risk.

Tomorrow we will consider report stage and third reading of Bill C-30, the courts administration legislation, and return to third reading of Bill C-27 respecting nuclear safety. Bill C-48, the copyright bill, will be our backup work for tomorrow afternoon if we have time.

Next week, we will return to Bill C-5. We are now in the third day of the report stage of that bill and I should think that the House would want to complete consideration of this bill without much further delay. As early as we can, depending on when Bill C-49, the Budget Implementation Act, 2001, is reported from committee, we will want to try to deal with it at the report and third reading stages.

Thursday of next week, February 28, will be an allotted day.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

December 14th, 2001 / 10:55 a.m.
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Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been following with great interest the debate on Bill C-27, the nuclear fuel waste act. It is important legislation for the whole country, but I regret it has been drawn out to the point that we will not reach Bill C-15B, the cruelty to animals legislation, before Christmas.

The hon. member and his colleagues are obviously interested in and well informed on this issue. They have been talking about nuclear power and nuclear fission. One of the solutions to the waste problem, and in the long run to the problems that face our nuclear power industry, is nuclear fusion, not fission.

Where do the hon. member and his colleagues and perhaps Quebec Hydro stand on the ITER project? It is a proposal that has been discussed for three years. It would bring scientists from Japan, the European Union, the United States and elsewhere to Canada to participate in a sophisticated international study of nuclear fusion for many years. What do the member and his colleagues think of that as a solution to the nuclear waste problem?

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

December 14th, 2001 / 10:40 a.m.
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Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

—a hot potato, as the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles just said, it means that the issue ought to be given serious consideration.

This is an issue that must be dealt with in a way that will reassure the public so that they have confidence. To get their confidence there should be an ongoing and real public consultation with the various stakeholders in the field, not only the scientists, not only the experts, but also the people in the field.

I realize that we must not always say “not in my backyard”, but the fact remains that this must be done somewhere and in appropriate areas. Why should an area accept nuclear waste coming from another area and another country?

I know there are not enough hon. members here this morning and they are not quite awake. Perhaps they are too tired to criticize me and tell me “Come on, why are you saying that? The bill does not say that we will agree to nuclear waste imports”.

Yes, but an issue such as this one is somewhat like the bills on public security that were passed or tabled here in the House, where the government was saying “Yes, but rest assured, this is not written in the bill”. The fact is we are not reassured. We would prefer it were written that there will be no such imports. Why not do so?

I did not take part in the committee's proceedings but I reviewed the amendments put forward by Bloc Quebecois members who wanted to make sure, among other things, that we had better definitions, and rightly so.

The suggestions to correct one of the flaws were aimed at making sure that the authority was not given to one minister or to the cabinet because, on such an important public issue, specific projects or the subject matter should to be reviewed by the House of Commons on a regular basis, and be audited, not just by anyone, but by someone under the Auditor General of Canada.

As the member for Jonquière mentioned earlier, every proposed amendment was turned down one after the other in committee and here at report stage. Members who used to be on the other side, but who have to tow the party line when a bill is put forward by a minister, voted down these amendments because the government bill was supposedly perfect.

I am making an aside here to remind the House that we have been here for eight years now. This is probably the last speech I will make before the end of the 2001. I said it on several occasions, but I believe it bears reminding.

We saw the way the government dealt with anti-terrorism and public security bills after September 11. We realize that the authority is concentrated in the hands of a single minister, or cabinet at times which is made up of members of parliament appointed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister appoints the Governor General, the senators when the time comes to send members to the other House. He is responsible for appointing people to high offices. Some say that proportionally, Canada is not the United States, and the powers of the Prime Minister of Canada are actually greater than those of the President of the United States.

In the United States, through a veto, both Houses can prevent the president from exercising certain powers such as sending troops abroad or using supplementary funds. He needs to introduce a specific bill or program in both houses of congress. This is not the case here.

In Canada, when we want to buy time, we refer bills to the other place. However, seeing as Liberal Party members also sit in its caucus, they receive instructions from the Prime Minister—naturally, they also share with him what is going on in the other place—saying, “Take your time on that bill”, or the opposite, “Hurry up and adopt that bill”.

An example of this was the bill on organized crime, which has yet to be passed officially by the other place. But they rush through bills on public security, or Bill C-7 on young offenders. Now with Christmas around the corner, during the last sitting of the session before the holidays, we are studying Bill C-27. No doubt an important issue, but the bill is seriously flawed

The Prime Minister or the caucus will have the ability to appoint all of the members of the board for this new waste management organization that will oversee nuclear waste. Who will he appoint? People in whom he has complete trust, or to whom he feels indebted. I know that the word patronage is not necessarily parliamentary, but if the shoe fits, then I do not see how I could avoid the term. So I will use it. This opens the door to patronage.

Under these circumstances, with an issue as important as nuclear waste, how can we expect the public to believe that things will not be decided by the powers that be, the cabinet, the Prime Minister, or the minister responsible?

But it so happens that the minister could be appointed elsewhere, according to the rumour that a cabinet shuffle may take place before Christmas. Therefore, he must please the Prime Minister to make sure that he gets promoted.

The Minister of Finance used to have a degree of independence, but this year, contrary to what he did in the past, he came up with a budget to please the Prime Minister. So much so—it was funny, but it really was not—that a Canadian Alliance member said “Let the real author of that budget rise”, and both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance got up at the same time.

This shows beyond any doubt that, this time, this is not a Minister of Finance's budget, but mostly a Prime Minister's budget. After eight years in office, one would have thought that the Prime Minister would become reasonable, would be less power-hungry, but no. Now, he wants to assume powers which, under our parliamentary system, are normally held by the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Speaker, I realize that I am digressing a bit, but I have always recognized your spirit of tolerance and your flexibility. Knowing that this is my last speech in 2001, you are giving me a small Christmas present by allowing me to say what I think, even though this sometimes goes beyond the scope of the bill.

I know that the hon. member for Abitibi--Baie-James--Nunavik is very jealous of me. Indeed, because of the way the current Canadian parliamentary system works, he will not be able to say what he really thinks, since he has a small hope of being appointed parliamentary secretary, or perhaps minister some day. He hopes that the Prime Minister will forget that he once sat as a Conservative.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

December 14th, 2001 / 10:35 a.m.
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Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-27, an act respecting the long term management of nuclearfuel waste.

One needs not be an expert to know that nuclear waste cannot be disposed of in just any regular dump. Today we have a better knowledge of nuclear waste than we did in the 1970s. It was already a concern and the subject of discussions at the time and it still is today.

A few weeks ago the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie reminded us of the Marrakesh summit. One key recommendation of this summit was that we should consider prohibiting the use of nuclear energy in the future. Since the 1970s, and even before that, a number of countries, including Canada, have been using nuclear power to generate electricity.

Today we can say with some pride that the Quebec government undertook a number of projects, of which Gentilly was one and LaPrade another, but it soon abandoned this approach because of deep concerns and because scientists and experts had many objections. Quebec decided to generate electricity from water power instead of nuclear power.

We can consider ourselves lucky since Quebec produces only 3% of Canadian nuclear waste. When we, as members of the Bloc, say that we want to defend Quebec's interests, I think that, in this particular case, we are pleased that it is just 3%. We have a better understanding of the attitude shown by the Liberal government, that has a great number of representatives from Ontario in the House, when we know that that province produces 90% of nuclear waste.

The member for Brome—Missisquoi cannot say it but I know he totally supports the position of the Bloc Quebecois. As a Quebecer, he is just as proud as we are that the Government of Quebec—be it under the Parti Quebecois or under the Quebec Liberal Party of which his brother is a member—made the choice not to proceed any further with nuclear energy in that province.

Now we have before us a bill on this issue. We supported the principle of the bill at second reading because we were sufficiently in favour of the bill to vote for it at that stage. Nuclear waste is a critical issue as it is hazardous in all respects, including health and safety. The Seaborn panel worked for 10 years on the subject and our critics on this issue raised some objections.

I know the member for Jonquière worked on this for a long time, even until the end, with the member for Sherbrooke. I know that the member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie would have liked to have his say also as environment critic. Unfortunately, the government decided that this issue fell under the purview of the Department of Natural Resources exclusively and not under the purview of the Department of the Environment.

Therefore, the Standing Committee on the Environment could not be consulted on this. I would say that this is one of the main shortcomings of the bill. It would be the sole responsibility of the Department of Natural Resources, which would work with the waste management organizations from the various provinces, and those who have a stake in the industry would be asked to assess and criticize what is being done in this regard. Yesterday, the member for Sherbrooke said that it was like letting the fox watch the hen house, and I agree with him.

This makes no sense whatsoever. Generally, when we deal with a bill or a legislative measure, we should ensure that an audit or an evaluation is done by a third party, independent people or another department. We should ensure that people or officials do not evaluate themselves. This makes no sense.

When we talk about the nuclear issue we should avoid slipping into demagogy and frightening everyone. However, a number of incidents have occurred throughout the world. Some countries have even recognized that they are incapable of properly managing their nuclear waste. Russia, for example, and the countries of the former Soviet Union are desperately trying to get rid of their nuclear waste: first, because its disposal is very expensive; second, because it is technically difficult to manage; and third, because Russia has abundantly used this source of energy.

I remember the objection of the member for Jonquière. We know all the energy she is capable of showing when she disagrees or agrees with something. To avoid this situation, she launched an initiative in her riding regarding new nuclear waste dumps in the world. She was right.

If the same thing had occurred in my riding of Lévis, members can be sure that I would have done the same thing. I believe that any member having to deal with this kind of situation in his or her own riding would have protested and I believe that everyone would have understood. However, the member for Jonquière reacted with fierceness and no later than yesterday she talked about this issue. I congratulate her for having done so. I also congratulate the member for Sherbrooke who, as usual, dealt with the issue in a very serious manner.

I have heard the member for Rosemont-Petite-Patrie say on occasion that he wanted to talk about this. He could only talk about it in the House since the issue was not dealt with by the Standing Committee on Environment. In his speech, which I listened to yesterday, as well as in the one he made earlier today, he pointed to this issue, which, I believe, reflects another important point. It is the place, in fact, the “lack of place” provided to the public on this issue.

We should not consider this issue simply in a technical or a scientific perspective especially since it seems that the more we move forward on this issue the more we give in to uncertainty. When a scientist trying to reassure us about this issue give us the impression that he is stressed, as though he had in his hands an issue—

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

December 14th, 2001 / 10:20 a.m.
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Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

I am told they will manage to find them something. I am sure they will.

Once again, I hope that the will will suddenly be there and that the government will decide before the vote at third reading, before this bill is passed—if it stays the way it is, the Bloc Quebecois will certainly be voting against it—to get serious and remember that the future we are talking about is not just the immediate future of the Liberal Party but the future of all Canadians and all the generations to come.

I am one of those who thinks that the management of nuclear waste should become more important for this government. There is still time. Someone said that this would perhaps be the nicest Christmas present the government could give Quebecers and Canadians, tell them that is withdrawing Bill C-27, rethinking it, taking another look at the consultations that were done, getting more information and examining its conscience, since everybody's future is at stake.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

December 14th, 2001 / 10:20 a.m.
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Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

They have indeed already been appointed. This is the main problem we have with the management of nuclear waste, the nuclear future, and my colleague from Verchères—Les Patriotes has made that clear. He said that nuclear fusion is simply like trying to stuff the sun in a bottle. It is extremely clean energy, energy of the future that should be useful if we continue research. I also recall this matter, because, when we debated nuclear fusion and the importance of researching nuclear fusion, I was assistant to the Quebec minister of the environment.

While it spends millions on the nuclear industry in general, the government in its great wisdom has decided, as far as cuts are concerned, to go after what is unimportant. It cut some $7.5 million a year in research on nuclear fusion. The wisdom of the government leaves something to be desired. What it does for me is leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

The $3 billion saved over the past eight years will also be used to pay down the debt.

The minister has said “We will look into the matter, and the committee will look into it too, and you will make recommendations”. The recommendations have still not been followed up on. We are not in possession of the truth here. And those who do not, like us, pay for it.

I now want to come back to Bill C-27. One of the committee's recommendations, as I mentioned earlier, was not to give the job of managing nuclear waste to the industry because of the risk involved. Waste management must be given to independent and competent bodies by municipalities and people who will live with waste management, and not to the industry. However, we discover that the bill provides that the industry will manage this waste.

It surprises me that the government did not establish another foundation for that. It would provide work for the friends of the government.