An Act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.

Sponsor

Herb Dhaliwal  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

November 27th, 2007 / 10:15 a.m.
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Shawn-Patrick Stensil Energy and Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada

Good morning. My name is Shawn-Patrick Stensil, and I am an energy and climate campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. I'll make my presentation in English, but I'll be pleased to hear your questions in French.

I'd like to thank the committee for this opportunity to present to you today.

In ten short minutes, I'm going to speak to you of three general issues of concern for Greenpeace regarding the proposed Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act.

First, the revisions to the act that have been put forward are indicative of how nuclear policy decisions are made in Canada. I would urge the committee to look further into this bill, as well as other nuclear policy decisions that are being made behind closed doors.

Second, I'd like to call into question the need for the Nuclear Liability Act and address specific issues of concern in the bill.

Third, I'd like to raise an issue of what I see as a policy gap between the Nuclear Liability Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in regard to nuclear terrorism.

First, in regard to the Nuclear Liability Act as an example of how policy decisions are made on nuclear issues in Canada, I would like to urge the committee to take a closer look at this bill and seek the opinion of many more non-industry stakeholders.

As background, in January 2006 Greenpeace Canada submitted a petition to the federal environment commissioner regarding the failure of Natural Resources Canada to bring revisions to the Nuclear Liability Act. This followed two previous petitions by a grassroots group called Citizens for Renewable Energy, to which Natural Resources Canada had said they would bring revisions by the end of 2005.

I have requested the clerk to provide the committee with copies of this petition.

In the petition, we cited numerous documents that Greenpeace had acquired through access to information showing that Natural Resources Canada had intentionally avoided consulting with non-industry stakeholders, such as the City of Toronto and environmental groups, regarding revisions to the Nuclear Liability Act, which is in front of you today, while it had “carried out extensive consultations with the nuclear industry”. Other correspondence showed that despite long-time public demands for revisions to the act, the nuclear industry was advising the government against renewing the act—probably for some reasons of political expedience; I'm not sure.

It is noteworthy that in 2003, Natural Resources Canada pushed through fairly quickly the passage of what was called Bill C-4 at the time, which amended the previous act, in order to meet the need of Bruce Power—a private nuclear company that had formed since 2000—to indemnify investors who were looking to invest in its project. So it quickly pushed through amendments to the act but was holding back on the wider revisions.

All this is to say that this act has been held up for many years seemingly to suit the desires of the nuclear industry. Natural Resources Canada has intentionally avoided consulting the public and non-industry stakeholders, probably because doing so raises a number of big issues for the nuclear industry: one, the threat of accidents, and two, the inherent subsidies that go along with this act.

As a recommendation to the committee, I would like to ask the committee to look at this bill more in depth and to seek the advice and perspectives of people outside the industry. It's the nuclear industry who are the risk-makers; we as Canadians are the risk-takers in this act implicitly, and we have the right to be consulted on that.

I'd like now to speak to the need for the Nuclear Liability Act and to specific concerns about the act.

I would like to say to the committee that the fact that we have this act in front of us should underline the fact that the nuclear industry has failed to develop into an independent and viable industry, despite years of trying and subsidies. Nuclear protection regimes began in the 1950s, and the idea at the time was to give the industry a running start to prove itself. The United States passed the Price-Anderson Act. We've been renewing these acts for 40 years, because the industry has never been able to gain the confidence of the insurance industry to be completely independent without these acts.

It has been estimated that in Canada the current limit on liability amounts to a subsidy of approximately 1¢ to 4¢ per kilowatt hour. As I mention in my petition to the auditor, Greenpeace also discovered that post-September 11 the federal government had begun assuming increased insurance costs for terrorist risk coverage for the industry. The government's stated intent was to avoid the adverse effects of high premium increases on nuclear power competitiveness in a deregulated electricity market. What was the cost of this? It was about $200,000.

The question why we are paying for it should furrow some eyebrows. Why should Canadians and the environment at large be subject to the risks that exceed the capacity of the insurance market? This goes against the principle of polluter pays which, I would remind the committee, Canada has ratified or signed onto in numerous international agreements. It is Canadians who will be forced to bear the expense and risks of a nuclear accident. This is an unacceptable subsidy to the industry.

I would now like now to address a number of specific concerns, because I think my time is running out.

First, regarding the increase to $650 million, that amount is a limit not based on the projected costs of a nuclear accident, but on what the global insurance industry has admitted it can handle. It is noteworthy that a 2006 federal government study of the costs of a dirty-bomb attack in downtown Toronto that released a small amount of radiation over four kilometres concluded that the costs of such a small accident would be $24 billion. That is way out of sync with what we're being told at the committee today for an accident releasing a small amount of radioactivity at a nuclear site. It is difficult to see, then, how even a small-scale release of radioactivity could be covered by the limits established in this bill, let alone a Chernobyl-scale event occurring in Canada—which the federal government has completely discounted.

As I mentioned in my petition to the environment commissioner, Greenpeace is concerned about the quality, rigour, and transparency of the risk studies carried out by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, studies that are used to claim that Chernobyl-style accidents wouldn't occur. I don't have time to discuss this in depth, but I would encourage the committee to investigate it.

It is Greenpeace's position that this cap on liability is inadequate, and nothing should stop this committee from recommending that the cap be taken off, as Germany has done. You could still insure up to $650 million, take the cap off, and then examine other options that have been mentioned this morning, such as industry pooling, so that we can internalize more of the costs of the nuclear industry.

A second issue I'd like to raise is the period for compensating victims, which has been extended from 10 to 30 years. The bill needs to address the nature of nuclear accidents. The impacts from radiation exposure, such as cancer and genetic damage, can take long periods to appear and then may be difficult to trace or attribute. Proving causation is obviously a cause for concern in regard to the proposed 30-year limitation period. For example, if it takes 10 years to prove the link between radioactive emissions and, say, an inter-generational effect, then a 30-year limit is clearly too short for claimants. We should extend this period.

Finally, I'd like to raise an issue I also raised in my petition regarding a gap in federal legislation between the Nuclear Liability Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. This former act excludes the damages and the costs from a nuclear incident caused by terrorism. Implicitly, that means we Canadians are assuming the risks for a terrorist act such as that. If so, we should have the ability to evaluate and discuss in public what those potential impacts could be. A forum for this may be the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. During environmental assessment hearings on nuclear projects in the past, such as the current life extension of Pickering B, Greenpeace requested that terrorist attacks be addressed in the Environmental Assessment Act. The response from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission was that this was not a requirement under CEAA and therefore they don't have to do it.

I would note for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission that in the United States last year, a federal court, as well as the Supreme Court, directed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that in licensing decisions they had to consider the environmental impacts of a terrorist attack. We should be making those amendments to our legislation here in Canada, so that at least the people who are taking on the risks will be aware of the full costs.

With that, I believe my ten minutes may be up.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Points of OrderThe Royal Assent

February 13th, 2003 / 10:25 a.m.
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The Speaker

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

February 13, 2003

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable John Major, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy of the Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 13th day of February, 2003, at 8:50 a.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C-4, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act--Chapter No. 1.

Request for Emergency DebateGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
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The Speaker

Pursuant to order made on Friday, December 6 the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-4.

Call in the members.

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

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2002 / 12:25 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

The question is on third reading of Bill C-4. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2002 / 12:20 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among members about the vote that will eventually happen on Bill C-4. To permit as many members as possible to participate on this, I would like to move the following motion. I move:

That, when no member rises to speak during consideration of Bill C-4, the question shall be put and a division thereon deemed to have been requested and deferred until Tuesday, December 10 at 3:00 p.m.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

December 5th, 2002 / 3 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, today we will continue with the business of supply. I understand that the votes are scheduled for a 5:15 p.m. bell, followed by the votes of course.

Tomorrow the House will consider the message from the Senate with regard to Bill C-10, the Criminal Code amendment.

In spite of the fact that we have debated it extensively, the government is prepared to offer yet another day, next Monday, with regard to debating the Kyoto protocol.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we will return if necessary to Bill C-10, and if and when completed, followed by Bill C-4, the nuclear safety bill with the possibility of also doing Bill C-3, Canada pension plan amendments, and Bill C-15, the lobbyists registration bill.

While I am on my feet I might as well give the plan for the rest of next week. Next Thursday and Friday, I will be calling the annual prebudget consultation debate.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 4th, 2002 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a good time to get up and talk on this very important issue. Since we have been on debate for some time today, I am going to emphasize for those who might be joining in late to this wonderful debate today that Bill C-4 amends the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to limit the current liability provisions related to the cost of cleanup stemming from an incident impacting the environment.

As currently defined in subsection 46(3), any person with an interest in the affected land or facility is potentially liable for the cost of cleaning up any contamination resulting from incident. This includes not only the owner and operators but also the mortgage lender or holder of a security interest in the land. The proposed amendment would narrow the scope of potential liability to include only the owners and operators.

Some who have spoken here today have indicated that it just seems unfair somehow that we would hold the lender liable for lending a company money and that if there is a huge disaster the lender should not have to pay.

I would suggest that part of the reason this type of wording was put in the act initially is that there was an understanding, a recognition, that any type of nuclear disaster is far more detrimental than just the ordinary realm of liability that we might have in an investment in a clothing store down the street or, for that matter, a mine, even though I fully recognize, as my colleague from the Alliance has indicated, that after a mine closes down residue and tailings often are left, which affect the environment and the lives of those around the mine. I would suggest that absolutely there should be greater liability for the cleanup and who is responsible.

Under this act, though, I believe it was recognized that there was greater risk and that as a result there was greater need for anyone even thinking of being part of that type of operation to recognize that there was a really strong liability.

I would suggest that lenders to a nuclear facility are going to make a profit off the interest on that loan and as a result profit from whatever that business does, in this case the nuclear business. Whatever it does, the lenders are going to profit from it. Quite frankly, after the fact, after an accident happens, the people in a large area around the plant are affected. Usually in a nuclear accident it not just that little spot where the plant is located that is affected. Huge areas all around it, if not throughout the world, are affected. As a result, there is greater liability. For that reason, I believe, there was an intent, and a good intent, to see this as being more serious and to have a greater risk of liability.

I believe there is no question that the $75 million maximum liability that can be charged to the owner or operator of the nuclear plant at this point would hardly come close to being able to address some of the costs that would probably be there as the result of an accident.

The Chernobyl reactor incident a number of years ago in the Ukraine seems so far away. Somehow we cannot imagine anything like that ever happening here in Canada, but let us face it, the cost of the Chernobyl accident was beyond anything we can imagine. Certainly there was the cost to the environment, the land itself, the cost to businesses and other industries in that area, the cost of the numerous lives that were lost, and the cost of the medical treatment that has resulted for years and years afterwards as a result of the Chernobyl accident. These are not just some little business operations going bad and affecting their own little 40 acres. These incidents will affect a huge area and the whole country, if not the world and they cannot be seen in the same way.

Quite frankly, I believe the government would have everyone believe that this is just a little housekeeping incident, that we have to get this out of there, that it was never intended to be there.

I do not agree. I think there was an absolute intent for it to be there and it should stay as is. The government would have us fast track this and keep the public debate down as much as possible, and as a result, I believe,would put the Canadian taxpayers at risk for a huge cost. As I have indicated, should there be an accident, should there be liability and $75 million will not cover the cost, who would end up covering it? If it is a private, independent operation, the plant would go bankrupt. If it goes bankrupt, who pays? The operators could not pay any more. They could go off somewhere else under another name and keep operating or doing whatever. We often see that happening with businesses that get into trouble. Those who would pay are the Canadian taxpayers.

I am extremely disappointed that members from the Alliance would not wholeheartedly say that there is no way the Canadian taxpayers should be stuck with that kind of cost, that we must have something in place to ensure that the Canadian taxpayers do not end up bearing the brunt. I have not heard that from them, which is disappointing, because quite frankly every one of us here should be ensuring that the Canadian taxpayers do not have to pay for those kinds of disasters.

I feel the same way about mines or any kind of operation that will leave environmental devastation behind. We have seen a situation with a mine in the Yukon, I believe, where the owner claimed bankruptcy and left. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs took on the responsibility and the government ultimately ended up cleaning up the mess at taxpayers' expense after a whole bunch of shareholders made money over a period of years. The operator of the mine was probably proclaimed a wonderful person because he or she did such a great business job, but ultimately the taxpayers of Canada bore the brunt.

That says nothing about the numerous times when there is no environmental cleanup. It sits there because there is not enough money to clean it up, because there is not a fund in place to ensure that there is a cleanup after different operations are in place. Yes, there are plans, so that an operator has to close things up to make sure that if people walk by they will not fall down a hole. Those types of rules are in place, but as far as the long term environmental consequences of some of those mines, there is no cleanup.

I think we need to change that. In the shipping of oil there is a process in place whereby each company puts so much money into a sort of insurance plan. We will call it that for lack of the exact name. If there is an accident, those funds can be accessed to clean it up. Why we do not have that in place for numerous other businesses is beyond me, but it is not there. I think it will come as people become more and more conscious of the need to protect the environment, as they have as a result of climate change and as a result of our wonderful debate on the Kyoto accord. People are becoming more conscious of it and as a result want to do whatever they can to ensure that the environment is sustained for years to come.

Numerous colleagues of mine today have also commented on the alternatives to nuclear power plants. Certainly there are numerous alternatives now. Yes, we can pooh-pooh them all the way, but I remember the first time I ever heard about wind energy. I wondered how the heck we could ever put it in place. Then I started reading more about it. We get a lot of information as members of Parliament and numerous pieces of information on wind energy began coming in. I started thinking about it. It is not as if this is something new. We have had operating windmills in place for years, not with the magnitude of operations that we need in some areas, but there is real potential for wind energy. It is being utilized in a number of places. Certainly we should expand on those types of operations whenever we possibly can. Whatever method of clean energy we can put in place is where we should be directing our efforts.

I recognize that not all of them will have 100% perfect results. What we do know is that a number of sources of energy are not good to be using. I am not suggesting for one moment that we should say to heck with the whole fossil fuel industry. Quite frankly, as my colleague from the Canadian Alliance indicated, our fossil fuels will run out. By reducing, adapting and readapting our usage, we are not necessarily saying to heck with our fossil fuel industry, we are extending the life of that industry and, through that process, working on cleaner forms of energy and ensuring that we are doing what is best for our country and ultimately for the world.

Why we would want to bring forth a change to a bill that would risk Canadian taxpayers having to offset the cost is beyond me. If a financial institution decides not to invest in an operation because it is concerned about the liability, I think that is a good thing. If it decides to invest because it is a good operation, it makes sure that its investment dollars are protected and that those types of accidents do not happen. It also ensures that an agreement is in place and that it keeps tabs on that operation so no consequences could ultimately hit the institution. I think that is a good, sound way of doing things. That is being responsible. It has been in place for a few years now and it has not been a problem but somehow it has become a problem now in the push to privatize the nuclear industry.

I know there are those who believe that private industry is best and that the capital way and the market economy are the way to go, and in some instances we may have had some success, but in a lot instances we have not had success. We know that with cuts here and there proper safety methods are used.

In the case, I believe, of the Bruce plants, we see that there needs to be literally millions of dollars invested to bring them up to snuff, so to speak, to make them safe. One has to wonder how they were allowed to reach that point and how much a private company will continue putting in. I just do not have the faith that it will be done in a safe manner unless there is a strong demand from their loaning institution to make sure they do that. Usually they just walk away from it.

I would rather not get into the whole privatization-public argument, even though all we have to do is talk about Manitoba Telephone System, a public institution that was sold. I make no bones about this when I say that we certainly do not have as good a service as we had before it was sold, bar none. We would find very few people in Manitoba, who had service under the old MTS and now have it under the new company, who would say that it is better today, because it is not. It just is not. It just wants to make money where money can be made. It does not want to invest in the province as a whole. It does not want to look at the benefits for all the people. It just wants to make a quick buck and to heck with everybody else.

I do not think that is the way certain operations should be put in place. Certain things should be done for the benefit of everyone, which is how this country was formed. People recognized that they were here to support each other, province by province by province, in different areas when it was needed. The people in a unified country support each other.

I think we have lost sight of that. We have little areas where people want to protect their 40 acres and do not care what anyone else does. We have lost track of what is important, and that is building a country and supporting each other.

No one is suggesting that we totally wipe out any industry when it comes to fossil fuels. It is just a matter of balancing and putting things in practice so that we have long term sustainability, we have a country for which we can be proud, and we have a country where the environment is safe for numerous generations to come.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 4th, 2002 / 5:05 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, could my hon. colleague explain how the passage of Bill C-4 will help the Alberta oil sands recovery project to afford lower carbon emissions in the overall extraction and production?

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 4th, 2002 / 4:45 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Canadian Alliance Athabasca, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again to take part in this debate on Bill C-4.

As I sit and listen to the debate I am amazed at how muddy the water can become on a filibuster and how irrelevant some of the arguments are to what is before us. I am amazed that the self-interest of the Bloc Quebecois does not seem to have any bounds. The development of fossil fuel energy in Canada has been one of the major reasons for our standard of living and our prosperity. Certainly Quebeckers enjoy driving their cars and moving their goods as much as anybody else in Canada. It just blows me away. However, I do not want to get carried away on that kind of debate because I want to stay more focused on what we are dealing with here today.

It is a seven word amendment to the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. It seems to me that the amendment before us is clear and simple. It would remove the responsibility of liability from the lending institution, not all responsibility of liability, but liability over and above the investment that the lending institution makes in the project. It, like in any other project or any other loan that the institution would make, would be liable for the amount of the loan and the loss of that loan should the project fail. However, this particular act as it existed when we passed it back in 1997, and I will address that a little later, held the lending institution responsible for the negligence of an operator in a contamination of a site over and above the amount that institution had invested in the project. That seems ludicrous to me.

When a mine, coal-fired power plant, or a wind farm goes out and looks for financing for a project and puts together a financing package, no one would expect that the lending institution that helps to finance that project would be held liable over and above the amount of the loan for negligence on behalf of the operator of that mine, wind farm or coal-fired generating station.

So why then would anybody, the NDP, the Bloc or a few members of the Liberal Party, believe that the lending institution should be liable in the case of a nuclear facility over and above the amount of the loan that it would be writing for a project? It seems straightforward and simple, yet it has become complicated and the target of such a filibuster in the House. I find it quite amazing.

I want to hold the government responsible in some measure for what is happening with this simple bill. The government has known about this anomaly in the act for some time. It was aware of it when Parliament was recalled around the beginning of October of this year. It did nothing about it until the bill was introduced not that long ago. It expressed this concern that the refurbishing of the Bruce Power facility could not proceed until the bill was passed and so we have some urgency here.

The government could have put this into the mix and we probably could have passed it a long time ago. However it did not. The government is responsible for the fact that we only have a week and a half to go before the Christmas break and the only way it will get the bill through is to use closure once again, which is unacceptable. I feel the government is in some way responsible for this filibuster and what is going on here.

We dealt with the bill in committee where various interest groups made representations to me. Everyone I spoke to, including Bruce Power, the Canadian Nuclear Association and others, said it was a simple oversight. When we considered the bill in 1997 nobody caught that. In committee the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Canadian Nuclear Association reiterated that it was just an oversight that needed to be corrected and we could get on with it.

The director general and the legal counsel for the department were at committee deliberations. It was disturbing that the director general was less than forthcoming with his explanation of why the phrase “or any other person with a right or interest in” was in the bill. The director general did not express the same opinion that I heard before that it was simply there because it was an oversight and was missed.

When the legal counsel was asked the lady said the department was very much aware of the meaning of the phrase and its consequences. She was the legal counsel but was not prepared to offer an opinion. If it was aware of it, why was it in the bill? Why was it not removed when we debated and passed the bill back in 1997? That concerns me. The government could have helped the bill through the process by being a bit more forthcoming on that issue, but it was not.

The NDP and the Bloc brought in all kinds of other issues that muddied the water in a major way. It was educational in a sense because I learned a lot about the genuine issues concerning nuclear power. The House needs to take the time to study the whole issue of nuclear power and how it fits into the mix of energy in this country and how we can best protect Canadians from the dangers of nuclear power.

All that was very interesting but it was terribly irrelevant to the whole thing. We spent a half a day in committee listening to a filibuster about the financial situation of British Power. The weak financial position and the danger of bankruptcy in British Power was enough reason for us to deny this seven word amendment in the bill. Surely, if we were to pass the bill and remove that extraordinary liability from the lending institution, that lending institution would have enough brains to look at Bruce Power, and how its financial situation related to British Power. The bank could then decide whether the liability on its money was too great to lend it. We do not need to do that as parliamentarians. It is a bit outrageous for us to go down that road and have that debate.

Another interesting issue that came forward endlessly was the issue of the Nuclear Liability Act. Issues were raised that I was not familiar with and that we need to deal with. The Nuclear Liability Act limits the level of liability in a nuclear accident to $75 million.That may not have been a big issue when the only people in the entire country who owned and operated nuclear plants were governments. Ultimately no matter what the cap was, when that cap was bypassed, the government of the day would end up being responsible. When the government was responsible from the very beginning, it was not as big an issue.

Now with the introduction of this bill and the opening up of the industry to private sector financing, the question is how liable should a private sector operator be in the case of a nuclear spill? This is a much bigger issue than just the contamination of the reactor site. This is about liabilities for off-site contamination, the health of Canadians, et cetera.

It is a really important issue. Clearly $75 million is nowhere near a high enough cap on the liability. We need to go back at some point to the Nuclear Liability Act, study it and set an appropriate cap either in the act as this is or a cap that is part of the licensing approval process by the Nuclear Safety Commission in the application for the licence to operate a plant. There needs to be a bond or something in place to ensure that the money is there, if there is contamination or an accident, to will protect Canadians, particularly those Canadians living in the vicinity of the nuclear facility.

Those are valid arguments. We need to at some point in this Parliament or in committee or somewhere go back and look at these things. They were not relevant to Bill C-4 and I was very disappointed at that. I can only imagine the frustration experienced by Bruce Power, while it waits for the bill to go through the House, having watched the filibuster which has gone on for weeks on this. It knows that until the amendment is passed, the entire project of refurbishing the reactors at Bruce Power is in jeopardy. Therefore, electrical energy in Ontario and the supply and price of that energy to the province is affected by that.

We hear talk about how we do not need nuclear power and that we should get rid of it. That is another debate for another day. However at some point Ontario Hydro made the decision to go nuclear. Arguments were made about the wisdom of that decision given the death of Ontario Hydro and other issues surrounding it, but they did it anyway.

Now nuclear power in Ontario is an integral part of the baseload power. If anyone doubts that, I would urge the nuclear operators in Ontario to simply shut down all nuclear power at six o'clock in the evening and see how much the wind power operators and the solar power operators can pick up for Ontario residents so they can cook their evening meals. I suggest it would be very dark and very cold.

To advocate those things is irresponsible. We have to do everything we can. We have a responsibility as a government and through government to the bureaucracy and the Nuclear Safety Commission to protect the interests of Canadians in terms of safe operation of the facilities. However we also have heard references to nuclear waste and what we do with that. We have a huge responsibility to look after that waste responsibly and in a safe manner. I think we can do that.

Nuclear power will continue to be part of the energy mix of the country. Undoubtedly, if the government goes ahead with the Kyoto protocol, the contribution of nuclear power will increase, particularly if AECL can come up with a new generation of a Candu reactor which is smaller, more efficient, cheaper and the lead time to construct it is cut way down. If all those things are achieved, nuclear power undoubtedly will become a more important part.

The contribution that fossil fuel energy has made to the country has been tremendous. Probably the key reason why North America has moved so far ahead of much of the rest of world in prosperity is the availability of cheap fossil fuel energy and our ability to use it and export it.

However given the environment we are in today and where Canadians are at, I do not think anybody in the fossil fuel industry would argue that it is time for us to look at cleaner energy sources that provide a baseload, which wind power, solar power and geothermal power can never do. They certainly can increase their share and their contribution, but we still need that baseload power, the one we can depend upon when everybody's lights and stoves are on in the evening.

It is time to look at where that might shift to, simply because fossil fuel energy is a finite resource which will run out one day and which gets more and more expensive. It is pure common sense that we look for alternatives. To think that tomorrow we can erect wind farms and solar panels so we can shut down either the fossil fuel industry or the nuclear industry but still keep the lights on and keep our homes warm is irresponsible and ludicrous.

I would urge all members in the House, in the interests of fairness and reasonableness, to get on with the issue of passing the bill and sending it off to the other place so that Bruce Power can get on with the job of refurbishing the its facility and get it back on line. This would allow Ontario hydro to shut down more of the extremely polluting coal fired plants, which are importing some of the dirtiest coal in the world from the U.S. This would then allow us to have clean non-polluting power, which the Bruce Power facility is capable of providing to us.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 4th, 2002 / 4:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the House that the bill before us, which I began speaking about briefly yesterday, is the former Bill C-57. After prorogation of the House, it became Bill C-4. This is essentially the same bill granting businesses wanting to invest in nuclear energy a privilege that we consider excessive and that exempts them from any responsibility.

From the outset, we completely disagree with this bill for one simple reason. I strongly believe that the current government should have invested more in clean energy such as wind energy, instead of once again giving nuclear energy another chance. I am convinced that the community and most citizens —and my hon. colleague from Sherbrooke mentioned public consultation on this issue yesterday— would like to get rid of this energy and see it eliminated from the Canadian and Quebec landscape.

The second reason, which I alluded to earlier, is that the Bloc Quebecois believes that, if backers find this investment too risky, there is no reason why it should be any different for society.

I am having trouble figuring out where the government is going with this bill. It absolves investors of any obligation by saying “What we want as a government is to ensure that people can invest in nuclear energy without having to get involved if there is a problem”. If there were a disaster and the site needed to be decontaminated, it would again be up to the people, in other words the government, to clean up the mess. I am convinced that, because of the high costs of site remediation, the companies responsible would probably go bankrupt and disappear into thin air. Again, the government would have to deal with the problem. The State and its citizens would have to pay to have the site decontaminated. This bill leaves the door wide open to this kind of abuse.

The third reason is that, despite everything being said, we believe that there are significant risks associated with nuclear energy. The main risk of course has to do with waste disposal. We could remind the House of the Chernobyl disaster. Some will say “Yes, but our nuclear power plants are different. They do not use the same technology. Candu reactors are used at our plants”.

We have exported our Candu technology throughout the world. In fact, we have even gone as far as selling it to dictatorships when Eastern Europe was still under Soviet rule.

In spite of all that, I believe that nuclear energy is dangerous. We saw that a few years ago, two or three years ago, when we toured Canada's nuclear generating stations, whether in Ontario or in New Brunswick, where the Pointe-Lepreau nuclear generating station is located. We realized that nuclear generating stations, particularly in Ontario, were not well maintained and could pose significant risks for society as a whole and for those living near these stations. Of course, because of the size of our continent and because of the dominant winds, if ever there were a nuclear accident in one of these stations—and I could also talk about nuclear generating stations located in the state of New York—we would be affected in Quebec. And the same goes for all of central Canada and even for the east coast.

These are the three reasons why we will oppose this bill. However, I would like to go back to the treatment of nuclear waste. Investing $6 billion in Atomic Energy of Canada without knowing how nuclear waste will be disposed of is a typical example of a society's failure to think.

As a society, it is irresponsible to produce this type of energy without knowing what we will do when the time comes to treat nuclear waste, to dispose of it in an appropriate manner and to decontaminate the sites where these generating stations are located.

I would like to quote from the press release that was put out by the former Minister of Natural Resources when he introduced the bill. It accurately reflects the spirit of the bill as well as our fears:

These companies must have access to commercial credit to finance their needs, like any other enterprise, said Minister Dhaliwal. This amendment will allow the nuclear industry to attract market capital and equity. At the same time, we can continue to ensure that nuclear facilities are managed in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

Continuing:

The Act's current wording has been interpreted to extend site remediation liabilities beyond the owners and managers to also include lenders—

I would stress, these are the minister's own words.

creating for them unknown financial obligations that may exceed by far their commercial interest. The consequence has been to discourage private sector interest in lending to the nuclear industry.

Here we have the minister introducing a bill and making such an incredible statement. He is telling us “Yes, but the private sector does not want to invest in nuclear energy, because the risk is too great and is an unknown”.

So, we are just going to absolve them of responsibility. Is the risk not also a major one for society as a whole? Is what is now being done not just bringing the risk here, before this House, so that the entire community will have to assume that risk, rather than lenders?

We cannot in any way support such a bill. In my opinion, this is a mistake that must be corrected. I am convinced anyway that, if we were to require businesses, lenders, to be liable for an accident, none of them would invest in nuclear energy.

What point is there in this, if the private sector refuses to invest in nuclear energy, in this type of energy?

In recent days there has been much talk of the Kyoto protocol. The government wants to see it passed, but we could also talk about this government's past record as far as clear energy is concerned. If we no longer invest in nuclear energy, a replacement must be found. In my opinion, it will need to be replaced by new energies, and there must be heavy investment in these energies.

I would describe the federal government's track record, as far as investment in new energy is concerned, as shabby and irresponsible.

Simply consider the proposed investments in wind power. I was telling you earlier that more than $6 billion was invested in the Atomic Energy of Canada program. What is the federal government doing to help develop wind power, particularly in our regions? We know that regions like the Gaspé are great places to develop this kind of energy.

The existing federal government program gives us access to $17 million per year over 15 years to develop wind power. This is simply ridiculous, if you compare it to the $6 billion invested in atomic energy.

We could also look at other sectors when fossil fuels are concerned. The Hibernia project in Newfoundland alone received $3.8 billion in assistance. Currently, we are discussing the Kyoto protocol. We are being told that it is essential to ratify Kyoto and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The government invested $3.8 billion in the Hibernia project for oil and gasoline, which is a highly polluting fossil fuel energy and a big producer of greenhouse gas.

Direct subsidies of $1.22 billion, $1.66 billion in loan guarantees and a $300 million interest assistance loan were granted to the Hibernia project in Newfoundland. Ottawa also financed 65% of the total project cost, and now look at how much currently goes toward developing wind power.

Did the federal government do the same with hydroelectricity? It did not invest one penny in this sector. Fossil energies were developed, when we had the capacity to develop clean energies such as hydrolectricity. This government never invested one penny in hydroelectricity in Quebec, when it was pouring huge amounts of money into the other provinces.

I could also have talked about what happened regarding the Athabasca tar sands. Since 1970, the federal government has invested $66 billion in fossil energies such as oil and gas. Let us try to imagine what would have happened if, in addition to the $6 billion invested in atomic energy, that money had been invested in clean energies. If we had had $72 billion to develop clean and alternative energies, today the Kyoto protocol would be a mere formality. We would probably be ahead of the other countries of the world. We would produce a lot less greenhouse gases.

I want to go back to wind energy. We talk about it a lot right now because of the Kyoto protocol, but we could also do it because of what the government is proposing. Over the past six years, wind energy has experienced an annual growth of 30% worldwide.

Germany is the number one user of this form of energy. It has 40 times more installed power than Canada. Europe alone has almost 75% of the world's wind generators. Yet, we all know that, at one time, Europe was a major developer of atomic energy. Today, it is doing everything it can to get rid that form of energy, because it is not, in its opinion, a truly cost-effective form of energy, considering the costs involved and its end result, namely the waste that it produces. Moreover, current technology does not allow us to get rid of the waste produced by atomic energy.

Consequently, the European Union wants 22% of its electricity generation to come from renewable sources, wind energy in particular. A large part would come from this type of energy, as I mentioned. Denmark is currently meeting 13% of its energy needs through wind energy. Even the United States has significant incentives, including a 2.7 cent per kilowatt-hour subsidy, to meet an objective of over 500,000 watts.

Let us look at what the current government is offering in the area of wind energy. This $17 million per year comes from a program that spans several years and sets out a 1.2¢ per kilowatt-hour contribution for projects set up in 2002, a 1.1¢ per kilowatt-hour contribution for those started in 2003, and so on, all the way to a 0.8¢ per kilowatt-hour contribution in 2007. This is being called an incentive, this $17 million a year to develop clean energy here. Personally, I do not think that this amounts to much. I think the government has the responsibility to invest more in wind energy.

The Bloc Quebecois proposed a $700 million federal wind energy investment program. That may seem like a lot of money, but I remind those listening that if we look at the amounts that were given to the oil and nuclear industries in recent years, it adds up to more than $72 billion. We are talking about $700 million compared to $72 billion. I do not think that it is too much to ask for a real program to promote wind energy. It would be fully in line with ratification of the Kyoto protocol.

We know very well that wind energy is a clean source of energy. It produces no greenhouse gases. Therefore, it does not constitute a danger for our society, nor for the society we will leave for our children.

We, in the Bloc Quebecois, are proposing a $700 million program over five years. I might add that this is a minimum. If we decided tomorrow morning to develop wind energy just in eastern Quebec and particularly in the Gaspé Peninsula, we could create 15,000 jobs in short order, including on the North Shore and along the Lower North Shore. Nuclear energy could never do that. It could never do that for our regions.

Fifteen thousand jobs could be created in Quebec if $700 million was invested in the development of wind energy. This would involve developing a made-in-Canada technology rather than an imported one. It would be all ours, adapted to our climate, adapted to our environment. We would be creating a high tech industry, with worthwhile jobs, and could later export the technology. We have a particular climate and therefore need to develop technology that is tailored to that climate.

As I said, this is what the Bloc Quebecois is proposing. When we first proposed this, the objective was to create a minimum wind power capacity of 1,000 megawatts in Quebec alone, mainly the Gaspé region. That is why the program we are proposing would target component manufacturing plants. As I said, it is not just a matter of setting up wind generators, or of just purchasing the technology and sticking up some poles with blades on them on some mountain. That is not what will create jobs. That is not what will help us make technological advances over other countries. That is not what will allow us to develop, particularly in a region like the Gaspé.

I should perhaps point out at this time, given the local socioeconomic situation, and the possibility of a cod moratorium, that we stand to lose another thousand jobs in the Gaspé. In Newfoundland alone, there will be 11,000 jobs lost. If a substantial investment were made in wind power, the economies of these regions could be given a real boost.These regions could develop by turning to high tech, instead of being totally dependent on natural resources.

It is important for this government to realize that this would be a major input for developing our economy. In recent days, moreover, what has been called for unanimously, in Quebec, in the Gaspé, on the North Shore, in Newfoundland and the maritime provinces as well, is a true program to jump start the economies affected, particularly those that will be hit by the potential cod moratorium. Some economies were virtually totally destroyed by the 1992 moratorium. By adopting measures in favour of developing clean energies, energies to replace fossil fuels or nuclear energy, we have an opportunity—

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 3rd, 2002 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member, but he will have 17 minutes remaining to finish his speech when Bill C-4 comes back to the House.

It being 5:40 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 3rd, 2002 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Madam Speaker, before I begin, I want to ask a question of the hon. member from the Alliance who has spoken often in this debate. The subject is nuclear energy, but there are also energy alternatives.

I would like to know if he understands the difference when wind power is discussed, for example. Does he understand that it is the wind that turns the turbines and not the turbines that create the wind? I do not think that he truly grasps the meaning of this bill, which takes the responsibility away from lenders with regard to the nuclear industry.

This bill is saying to lenders, “You can support nuclear energy. No matter what happens, you are not responsible. You will not be responsible if there is an accident or if a site becomes contaminated”.

By doing this, we are telling lenders to the nuclear industry, who refuse to invest in this energy because they think it is too risky and too dangerous, “No problem, you can invest with no problems; we guarantee that, from now on, you are not responsible”. So we are taking responsibility away from the private sector.

My hon. colleague from the Alliance claimed earlier that the private sector was currently being granted privileges because in comparison to the public sector, the government invested $6 billion in the atomic energy program alone. It is like saying that the private sector does not want to invest because the risks are too great and, therefore the government has to invest.

In my opinion, neither the private sector nor the government should invest in nuclear energy. It is a form of energy that should disappear. There should perhaps be investment in an area that aims at finding a way to get rid of nuclear energy, to eliminate it and replace it as soon as possible. It is especially important to find ways to dispose of nuclear waste and to treat it in such a way that this type of waste will not have to be dealt with for centuries to come, so that our children and grandchildren, and their grandchildren, will not be forced to solve this problem.

You will understand that we are completely opposed to the bill before us today. I would like to remind the hon. members that this bill was called Bill C-57 prior to prorogation of the House and that it is now called Bill C-4. Nonetheless, it is exactly the same bill and it conveys the exact same intention by the government.

The government's intention is simple, as I mentioned earlier. In fact, it is giving the green light to backers by saying, “Henceforth, you will no longer be responsible”. This is unacceptable to me.

The government has a very bad record in terms of investment in fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Why did it invest—

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 3rd, 2002 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, in the beginning of the third reading debate a couple of hours ago, the Minister of Natural Resources made a statement which was intended to give reassurance about the purpose and the intent of this bill. It seems to me that the statement has raised more questions than answers.

Take for instance the reference by the minister to the fact that this bill would amend subsection 46(3), removing what is being called by the minister an anomaly which is keeping banks away from lending to the nuclear sector to avoid assuming potentially unlimited liability, which is the essence of this bill.

However what the minister calls an anomaly, is actually a practice which has proved to be a good one over the past few decades. Here we are instead told that what this bill intends to do is to remove the responsibility of the investor who decides to make funds available to a nuclear facility. I submit that this is not an anomaly. Actually what this bill intends to remove is a highly desirable measure that should be kept and not removed.

The minister has said, “Limiting liability to the owner, occupant or those who have management and control is normal practice in the federal government environmental law. Canadian law generally limits lender liability to those with management or control of secured assets”. The statement would be quite right if the investment were to be in a water bottling company or in a chain of food retailers, but not when it comes to the nuclear energy industry. We are in a completely differently field which requires a lot of careful thinking and certainly not a measure of this kind.

Then the minister went on to say that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission would retain sufficient authority to protect health, safety, security and the environment. This statement would be reassuring, if there were a parallel or an insertion in the bill before us to that effect. Unfortunately though, Bill C-4 does not contain this kind of reinforcement of sufficient authority. One wonders on the strength of what knowledge the minister can make a statement of that nature.

Finally, the minister concluded by saying that the issue before us was not the safety of Canadian nuclear plants. I find a statement like that intellectually offensive because that is exactly what is before us. If we remove the liability of the investor in a nuclear plant, we certainly are toying with and raising some very serious questions about the safety of the nuclear plant itself.

Up until now, we have had legislation which says that the investor and the operator have a liability responsibility in the nuclear industry. This bill instead would remove that liability responsibility from the investor. It could be a bank or it could be anything. The question therefore is whether we are acting in the interests of the public by moving ahead with a bill of this nature.

One wonders whether the minister realizes that this bill is about liability. It is about public safety. It is about the inability of operators to become fully liable in case of an accident. What we should be discussing is not the removal of a liability responsibility from the investor. We should be discussing increasing the amount of liability. Our present legislation provides only $75 million. This is a very modest amount compared to the liability levels that are imposed by governments in Europe and in other jurisdictions, which are sometimes 10 times higher than ours.

For years parliamentarians have raised this issue in Parliament, drawing the attention of the minister to the fact that this level of liability ought to be increased. Instead we are moving in the opposite direction. We are doing that because we are under pressure from the Ontario government and investors, probably British Energy although I cannot prove it, and by investors in general who see probably an opportunity for investment in the nuclear industry and want to be absolved of their responsibility in case of an accident. I submit this is wrong. It is counter to the public interest and we should not proceed with the bill.

One wonders whether the minister himself realizes with this one page bill that he is absolving, with this measure before Parliament, investors from liability. One wonders whether the minister realizes that it is urgent that the matter of liability levels, the amount namely to which I referred before of $75 million, ought not to be addressed as a matter of urgency and within an approach to the entire management and legislation covering the nuclear industry.

Members are also aware of the fact that over the last three or four decades the nuclear industry has received yearly subsidies which now amount to over $5 billion. It is an industry that is constantly in need of public funds. Again, why should an industry which is chronically in need of public support now receive relief from a responsibility on liability for investors in this instance? We are obviously moving in the wrong direction.

I suppose Bill C-4 is before us because someone has concluded that the Bruce and the Pickering plants, which are being plagued by problems, need a considerable injection of capital. That is quite possible. I refer to plants A and B in Bruce, Ontario.

In addition to that, the investing company that has purchased this facility from the Ontario government and privatized it, namely British Energy to which other members have already made reference, is in trouble and has asked the Ontario government for some assistance. Since provincial governments do not have jurisdiction over nuclear matters, for which we must be profoundly grateful, then the Ontario government has to turn to the federal government for assistance.

According to a clipping, which appeared in the Ottawa Citizen , British Energy is:

--is in imminent danger of bankruptcy and is seeking to borrow $3.9 billion, in addition to a $1.5-billion loan from the British government, to stay in business.

In addition it says that Bruce Power must put up something like $220 million in financial guarantees to renew its licence to operate with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

This tells us that there is a problem that ought to be examined in the broadest possible context and not by a six line amendment, which looks so innocent and harmless, in a one page bill. There is deep trouble and it needs to be addressed.

One day in the hearings before the standing committee on natural resources, the member from Windsor made a memorable intervention on this subject. We heard an NGO, called Energy Probe, say that in its estimates at least no private company could make a profit in nuclear energy, “without massive public subsidies and protection from environmental liability”. Bill C-4 asks us to go in the opposite direction. It does not make sense.

Then we have the report of the former auditor general of a couple of years ago warning Parliament that the costs of commissioning are not reflected or incorporated in electricity rates. This is a warning and an interesting message to all those who think that electricity generated by nuclear power is the cheapest on the market.

In addition to the issue of the commissioning raised by the auditor general, the fairly old and unresolved issue of storage. It is an item that has been the subject of panels established under the Environmental Assessment Act, if I remember correctly, and a study conducted by a former deputy minister, Mr. Seaborn, which made a specific recommendation. Yet 10 years later, the issue of storage has not been resolved.

I do not think I have much more to say on this except to express a certain degree of indignation, which I am not usually inclined to express. However, I find this measure very disturbing.

Therefore I concur with those who have said before me that this bill should be suspended. It should instead be replaced by an overall type of legislation that deals with the governance of the entire nuclear industry so as to bring the legislation up to date. Then we can examine also the facets and difficulties, including the ones brought forward and pointed to by the auditor general, and bring order to a rather messy situation rather than proceed with a measure that does not stand up to close scrutiny. This measure should be suspended.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 3rd, 2002 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, I want to congratulate the hon. member from the Bloc Quebecois for his excellent speech on Bill C-4. I am quite pleased that the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party oppose this bill.

The hon. member raised some very strong points against the bill. I am thinking in particular of his suggestion that an indepth study of the impact on industry be undertaken before further subsidies are granted.

It is important that we recognize the real objective of the bill as my colleague from Windsor--St. Clair has pointed out so eloquently in his interventions both in the House and in the standing committee on the environment.

The bill is effectively a gift to the Ontario Conservative government and it responds very specifically to the Bruce Power situation. It enhances the privatization of the nuclear industry. For that reason alone my colleagues and I in the New Democratic Party strongly oppose this amendment.

The objective of the amendment is effectively to narrow the scope of liability for those who are involved in the nuclear power industry. I would point out that under the provisions of the 1976 Nuclear Liability Act, that liability is already limited to $75 million. This is an industry that is already well protected by legislation. It needs tougher liability laws, not weaker ones.

I strongly support the work that is being done by Campaign for Nuclear Phase Out which is calling for a phase-out of the nuclear industry. I intend to speak to that later in my comments before the House.

I see the hon. member for Davenport in the chamber today. He is the very distinguished chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. I want to pay tribute to that member and to the vice-chair of the environment committee, the member for York North, as well as the hon. member for Churchill River and the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.

Those members had the courage to stand up in the House a short time ago and vote against the bill at report stage. I want to salute them for their courage and for their continuing leadership on the fundamentally important issues of the protection of the environment. I certainly hope that upon reflection, the colleagues of my friend from Davenport, when it comes to the final vote on this bill, may see the light and will vote against the legislation as well.

The history of this legislation is deeply disturbing for many of us. In fact, there was an almost unprecedented action in the standing committee on the environment to shut down, muzzle and silence debate in a very shameful way on this issue.

My colleague from Windsor--St. Clair had the floor in the standing committee on the environment. I believe he was speaking to a motion that would have subpoenaed witnesses from the nuclear industry. It was essential that those witnesses be heard with respect to this important legislation.

My colleague from Windsor--St. Clair, our environment critic who has been doing such a fine job on this and other bills, was interrupted on a point of order by another member in that committee. At that point the chair of the committee indicated that he was prepared to put the question on a motion to shut down the member for Windsor--St. Clair and to call a vote. This was blatantly out of order and unprecedented. I deeply regret that the appeal that was made to the Speaker in this House to ensure that this kind of very dangerous precedent would not stand unfortunately was not successful.

That is some indication of what is happening with this legislation. Liberal members on the standing committee on the environment were prepared to shut down democratic debate which is the lifeblood of democracy in order to silence the member for Windsor--St. Clair and prevent him from speaking to a motion to hear from the industry.

While industry was not heard from during the course of those committee hearings, there were a number of very important witnesses. One of those witnesses was the Campaign for Nuclear Phase Out.

The Campaign for Nuclear Phase Out was founded in 1989. It is a broadly based Canadian coalition of organizations working to phase out nuclear energy in Canada. I might note parenthetically that a former colleague from Broadview--Greenwood, Lynn McDonald, for some time has been one of the driving forces in the Campaign for Nuclear Phase Out. She has been doing fine work on this issue. I only regret that she is not still with us in the House to continue speaking out on this.

During the 13 years the Campaign for Nuclear Phase Out has been in existence in Canada, it has done very important work. It has pointed out the tremendously obscene level of subsidies to the nuclear industry in Canada. It has worked on MOX shipments into Canada. It developed the first atomic map of Canada. It was never mapped before. It included all the nuclear sites in Canada.

The objective of the Campaign for Nuclear Phase Out is to phase out nuclear energy in Canada. It points out that across the world people are moving out of nuclear energy. I want to say very clearly that I strongly support the objectives of the Campaign for Nuclear Phase Out.

It is interesting to note that the Kyoto accord made absolutely no reference to nuclear energy as being a component of the drive to respond to the crisis of climate change in Canada and globally. Indeed, the draft implementation plan, Canada's federal draft plan for Kyoto, had not a word about nuclear energy as well.

In fact, I think it is essential that we recognize that the nuclear industry is a dinosaur industry. It is a dying industry which is on its way out. Within a very short time, it may very well be that the only location of that industry will be Ontario. I believe that in Quebec and in New Brunswick the industry is being phased out.

There is a web of subsidies and legislative crutches as the Campaign for Nuclear Phase Out pointed out that has held up the industry so far, without which it just would not be sustainable at all. In 2002 the subsidies for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited reached $210 million, the highest amount since 1987. The fact of the matter is that clearly this is an industry that has to be propped up by the federal government.

I note that my friend from Port Moody is in the House. I know that as a hardworking member of the Canadian Alliance, he would be deeply concerned about this kind of government handout to the nuclear industry. I know that he would want to rise in his place to speak out in anger and indignation against this handout to the dying nuclear industry in Canada.

The tragic irony is that the funding for renewable energy in 2000 was some 17 times less than the funding for nuclear energy. Those priorities are completely skewed.

We oppose the bill because we think that any attempt to limit the liability in this way, any kind of gift to the nuclear industry and to Bruce Power in Ontario, is completely unacceptable.

We have to ask as well, who exactly owns this company? Right now it appears that British Energy has the major stake in Bruce Power but guess who is looking at possibly buying it according to a news story today. Warren Buffett, the U.S. investment billionaire may be interested in buying a piece of Bruce Power. Of course, unless this legislation gets through, they say there may be some problem in financing this cozy little deal. We say that we want no part of this offensive transaction.

There has been a lot of bafflegab, distortion and misleading information about the real objectives of the bill.

I want to pay tribute to the work done on this issue by the Sierra Club of Canada, in particular its distinguished executive director, Elizabeth May. Miss May appeared before the standing committee on the environment. She pointed out that there were a lot of distortions about the bill. As she said, the bill does not create any kind of automatic liability for banks or other investors in the nuclear industry. This is what we are being told by the government; it is not fair to create this automatic liability.

The reality is very different, as she pointed out. The current Nuclear Safety and Control Act does not create any automatic liability nor does subsection 46(3) as rewritten to remove what are apparently offensive words. The offence is to the bankers and financiers. Let us be clear on what actually is the current state of the law.

The bill is a blatant attempt to make the nuclear industry even more immune from the impact of its actions. When we look at some of the very serious accidents, whether it is Chernobyl, Three Mile Island or elsewhere, we should be deeply concerned about any attempt to weaken the accountability, responsibility and liability of the nuclear industry. All we have to do is read the report of the environmental auditor about the terrible impact of abandoned nuclear mines in northern Saskatchewan and elsewhere to know that this is a problem.

Let us look at what this issue of liability is actually about. In fact, subsection 46(3) creates a discretion, not any kind of automatic obligation, it creates a discretion for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, following a hearing, to file a notice. It may then order that the owner, or yet another level of discretion as the investors are again one step away, occupant or any other person with a right to or interest in the affected land, take prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.

It is obvious that this is not automatic in any way. It does not mean that everybody attached to the project is liable for millions and millions of dollars in potential financial commitment. They may have killed people or there may have been serious environmental impact on adjacent lands. It means that there is an obligation to clean up. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission may, it does not have to, but may, following a public hearing, decide that the clean up of the contaminated site and reducing the level of contamination requires actions by a number of people and within that current list, should this amendment not pass, are those who have a right to or interest in the land or place that requires cleaning up.

I also want to point out that far from moving ahead on this legislation, what we should be doing is having a comprehensive public inquiry and debate on the nuclear industry in Canada. There has never been any kind of a commission or debate or any kind of a public hearing on the desirability of having a nuclear industry.

Elizabeth May pointed out in the environment committee that there was one brief attempt by a former minister of energy, mines and resources, Ray Hnatyshyn, to move ahead on this but that of course did not go anywhere because that government did not last very long. However we certainly do not need to be moving in the direction of this particular proposed amendment.

What are the alternatives that we should be looking at? We should be looking at phasing out this industry and recognizing that nuclear waste is a major threat to human health and the environment.

As of 1992 Canada had accumulated over 200 million tonnes of low level radioactive tailings from uranium mining, over 1 million cubic metres of contaminated soil and 900,000 bundles of nuclear fuel waste, and nobody has any notion of what to do with these wastes at all. We are just passing them on to future generations.

There has been a huge increase in the annual production of nuclear waste in Canada. It grew by 76% between 1982 and 1998.

I see the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the House. I know he shares my concern about this staggering increase in the level of nuclear waste. I am sure he would share with me the concern that the Canadian public has a right to get at the truth about the nuclear industry and the extent to which it is so heavily subsidized by Canadian taxpayers. In fact, Canada today is the highest per capita user of nuclear energy in the world.

What should we be doing instead of handing out even more exemptions and extending the absence from any liability for the nuclear industry? We should be looking at alternatives, as my colleague from Windsor--St. Clair and witnesses who appeared before the committee pointed out.

We do not support Bill C-4 because it weakens the liability provisions of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and it could facilitate an expansion of nuclear power production in Canada and its continued privatization. Privatization in this industry is the last thing we need, as we have seen from the disastrous example of the privatization of Ontario Hydro. Even the ultra right wing government in British Columbia of Gordon Campbell is now recognizing that this not the direction that it should be moving toward.

Far from strengthening our support for the nuclear industry, we should be looking at the example of nations like Germany and others, and phasing out nuclear power production and investing in alternative renewable energy resources.

We fall far behind in those sectors, particularly behind countries like Denmark. Denmark is currently meeting 16% of its electricity needs from wind. The Canadian Wind Energy Association has an excellent proposal that would see billions of dollars of capital investment in rural communities that would result in many quality jobs in Canada and the reduction of 15 million to 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. It would be a tremendous contribution to meeting our Kyoto targets.

Instead of propping up this dying nuclear industry, why are we not putting far more resources into renewable energy, particularly into the kind of proposal that the Canadian Wind Energy Association is putting forward? If we were to accept its proposal we would achieve the goal of installing more than 10,000 megawatts of wind power capacity and would be providing 5% of our electricity from wind power by 2010. That is still far less than the proportion that Denmark is providing.

We have to do much more to level the playing field for renewable energy sources and expand efficiency and conservation programs. Important recommendations have been put forward by groups, such as the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute, which called for the removal of unfair competitive advantages to fossil fuels and the nuclear industry. This includes removing royalty structures, capital cost subsidies and lax emission standards that favour coal-fired plants.

As well, we should be looking at legislating improved fuel efficiency standards for motor vehicles, increasing oxidation levels in gasoline and diesel fuel, and promoting the use of alternatives like ethanol and hybrid vehicles. With all of these we could significantly reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and the harmful emissions that they produce.

Those are real and achievable goals that our government could and should commit to for the benefit of all Canadians. Instead of expanding nuclear power, we should be moving in the opposite direction: phasing it out and investing in cleaner energy resources.

I am pleased to see my colleague, my friend from Lac-Saint-Louis in the House. I want to salute him for the leadership he has shown over the years on these issues, right up to as recently as just a few hours ago when he had the courage to speak out and to vote against this destructive piece of legislation, Bill C-4, along with, I believe, three of his colleagues, including the member for Davenport, the chair of the environment committee.

I would hope that if we are not prepared to reject the bill at third reading, which is the stage that we are at now, that we would at least be prepared to send the legislation back to the environment committee and ask it to give witnesses an opportunity to be heard as to why the legislation is so destructive.

We heard in the environment committee from the Sierra Club, from Energy Probe and a number of others. I think that before extending the exemptions from liability for this industry, far more background work needs to be done.

The bill is fundamentally about privatization. It is about facilitating the privatization of the nuclear industry and particularly in the context of Ontario and what is happening with Bruce Power.

As I said, this is an industry that far from being propped up through massive subsidies, which is the case so far, should be phased out. When one looks at the record of Candu reactors for example and the sales of Candu reactors, where have these reactors been sold? They have not been sold at all in recent years, but they have been sold to repressive dictatorships. They were sold to Ceausescu in Romania. They were sold to the dictators in South Korea. They were sold to the dictators in Argentina. However that surely is not the kind of energy that we should be promoting in Canada.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

December 3rd, 2002 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness is supposed to work hand in hand with the Nuclear Safety Commission of Canada. The safety commission and the nuclear safety act are what we are talking about today in Bill C-4.

What we have is a situation where the training for this nuclear protection is in a state of flux at the Arnprior college when we need it most. We have been asking for weeks to see the report that justifies moving the college from Arnprior to a temporary place and now we question whether or not the report even exists.

The successful passage of Bill C-4 is not the only potential impediment to producing safe, clean, cost effective electricity. Municipalities on both sides of the Ottawa River need to have a coordinated preparedness plan. Again, this is the fear people have and is the reason they do not want to vote in favour of Bill C-4.

For example, Mayor Denzil Spence of the Pontiac has been calling for a coordinated system of response, but because the college is no longer in the process of taking trainees for the programs he cannot get that preparedness to counter the fears of his people. So the games are putting this constituency into a state of limbo as well.

Let us talk about another potential benefit of Bill C-4 when it is passed. Hydrogen fuel cells are replacing the internal combustion engine in the transportation sector, the major emitter of greenhouse gases in Canada and in many other countries. It has been determined that no overall reduction but actually an increase in greenhouse gas emissions will occur if the hydrogen produced for these cells by the conventional steam methane reforming process is used. To achieve the desired reduction, the hydrogen would have to be produced by the electrolysis of water from non-greenhouse gas emitting electricity sources, with nuclear power being the only practical large scale source. Electrolytic hydrogen, produced by Candu generated electricity, can also be used to upgrade the heavy oils from the Alberta oil sands.

Conversion of Canada's transportation systems from the fossil fuel base to an electrolytic hydrogen base will provide opportunities for Canadian industries as well. Companies like Stuart Energy Systems electrolyzers and Ballard Power Systems fuel cells add hydrogen storage in low weight, high pressure cylinders produced by another Canadian company, Dynatek. Even under the assumptions of a high rate of substitution of coal by natural gas, aggressive energy demand management and an increase in renewable resources of energy, projections have carbon dioxide emissions increasing by about 7% by 2010 compared to Europe's Kyoto protocol target of 8% reduction below 1990 levels by 2010. Increases of 14% of CO

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by 2020 are estimated. Alternatives proposed include a high carbon tax plus the replacement of the retiring nuclear plants by nuclear capacity or construction of new nuclear capacity.

What I am talking about is the relationship of the passage of Bill C-4 with the attainment of targets of reducing our carbon dioxide emissions, something which is very much the topic of the day as well. Bill C-4 and our emission reduction targets are closely linked.

The percentage of nuclear electricity generation has to increase today from 21% to 26% by 2020, and to 28% by 2030, so we must have the financing available to build more nuclear power plants. The government alone should not be the financier of these capital costs.

Replacement of the now 45-year-old NRU, the reactor at Chalk River, with a vital new reactor, the Canadian Neutron Facility, by the year 2005 was a vital element in the continued support of nuclear R and D. While the project has been approved by cabinet and was an election 2000 commitment, as of yet no money has been committed. Part of that stems from the problems that the act, before Bill C-4 is passed, poses. The ability to borrow from the private sector is needed. In order for that to happen, Bill C-4 must be passed. The Canadian Neutron Facility is essential for the ongoing support and the life extension of the current Candu reactors and the development of future Candu designs. It will also provide an indispensable tool for probing the nature of materials.

To ensure that Canada has adequate energy in the 21st century will require new thinking about traditional means of meeting the various demands of energy. With the help of federal funding and other public sector and private sector investments, Canada is now well positioned to play a major role, both technical and economic, in a world revolution in greenhouse gas free and pollution free transportation fuels.

Candu reactors could produce the electricity for the Canadian developed high efficiency electrolysis cells to provide hydrogen for Canada's world leading fuel cell technology, to power the cars, buses and trucks we were talking about before. Intercity travel is very much on the minds of people today. For example, today in the international news we saw the Prime Minister of Japan riding in a new car fuelled by hydrogen with just water vapour as its emission. For this to proceed on a larger scale, it will be necessary to build the additional Candu reactors and develop the necessary infrastructure.

This revolution would also help Canada to again reduce both greenhouse gases and pollution. I make the distinction because greenhouse gas emissions and smog are two different things.

To ensure that Canadians continue to enjoy the many benefits of nuclear technology, government investment in nuclear science and the engineering of R and D must be maintained as well. Again, if we want the private sector to invest in the research and development of nuclear technology, we have to release it from the liabilities involved in the case of a nuclear accident.

There is ample evidence to show that the benefits to be realized are at least as great as those that have already been achieved through nuclear power. The generation of nuclear electricity will continue to be economically viable and it will play an essential role in driving the nation's economy while protecting the environment by avoiding greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

Continuing research is needed to support and extend the productive lifetime of the existing Candu reactors in Canada and abroad and to develop competitive, advanced reactor designs. Canada's nuclear expertise supports the nation's strategic and diplomatic initiatives, including the safeguarding of nuclear material and the possibility of destroying weapons, like plutonium, made in the different reactors. It could also support other initiatives by providing greenhouse gas free electricity and fresh water to developing regions of the world. The capacity that Bill C-4 will give for the development of nuclear reactors can also play a vital role in providing water to our world's most needy people.

There is an immediate requirement for the Canadian Neutron Facility, a dual purpose facility that will support both Candu related research and the study of advanced industrial and material biological science research. The use of nuclear power to generate hydrogen fuel will revolutionize transportation and will dramatically curtail the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Nuclear power is necessary to meet our growing dependence on electricity. Our worst nightmare is to have power failures or to suffer brownouts. We need only look at the human suffering and devastation caused by the ice storm of 1998 in eastern Canada that resulted from the lack of enough power at the time.

In addition to meeting exponentially increasing demands for electricity the passing of Bill C-4 would allow for the generation of clean, cost efficient electricity which would have positive environmental impacts as well.

The international response to the issue of carbon dioxide emissions led to a conference in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 where the developed countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below the 1990 levels by given amounts by the period 2008-2012.

Under the Kyoto protocol Canada has undertaken to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 6% below 1990 emissions, nominally by 2010. Since nuclear power plant operation, unlike fossil fuel plant operation, produces neither greenhouse gas emissions nor pollution, nuclear energy provides an important means of meeting the Kyoto commitments. We are also meeting the world's energy needs. Thus the greenhouse gas emissions and pollution issues require the maintenance and growth of nuclear energy to meet the increasing needs of the world. In order for this to happen we need Bill C-4 to pass.

If the Prime Minister is successful in getting his caucus to submit and ratify the Kyoto protocol, Canada would have to reduce the total annual greenhouse gas emissions by 199 million tonnes and carbon dioxide emissions by about 160 million tonnes below the business as usual scenario by 2010.

Using Candu power plants instead of fossil fuel plants Canada has already avoided significant emissions of carbon dioxide over the years, since the first Candu plant came into line in 1962.

Natural Resources Canada has calculated the emissions avoided by the use of nuclear energy in Canada and has concluded that about 1,440 million tonnes have been avoided up to the end of 1999 which is significantly higher than previously estimated. Furthermore, about 67 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided by nuclear power generation in 1999.

Canada would face an even more difficult task in meeting its Kyoto commitments without the continuing contribution of nuclear power. It has been calculated that the carbon dioxide emissions from electrical generation in Canada for recent years were about 129 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. That is considerably higher than the 98 million tonnes estimated for 1996. Half of this 32% increase in only two years resulted from the increase of coal fired generation to replace generation from the laid up Ontario power generation reactors. This is why the funding is needed in the passage of Bill C-4.

In addition, significant increases in pollutants that contribute to acid rain and smog, like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, have also occurred because of the lay up of the OPG reactors and they were laid up because of the lack of financing available to get them up and running again.

It is also important to recognize that estimates of carbon dioxide emissions from electrical generation in 1998, 129 million tonnes, are already 10% higher than the projected carbon dioxide emissions, 117 million tonnes, from this sector in 2010.

The business as usual case assumed that electricity demand would increase by about 1% per year and that the Pickering A, but not the Bruce A, units would return to service and it predicted that the existing reactors would not be replaced at the end of their lives and that no nuclear plants would be built. Nuclear generating capacity in Canada would decrease from about 16,000 megawatts in 2000 to about 3,500 megawatts in 2030.

The medium case scenario electricity demand would increase by about 1.3% a year, with both the Pickering A and Bruce A units returning to service, the lives of the existing reactors would be extended, some coal fired capacity in Ontario would be replaced by nuclear, and some of the increasing demand there would be met by nuclear.

If nuclear were to return to its 1995 share of the generation in Canada of about 18%, 10 new new-generation Candu 6 reactors would need to be built for the period of 2030.

The government alone cannot provide the funding for the capital expenditures that would be required to build this many reactors. We need the involvement of the private sector and the financial institutions in the private sectors. The taxpayers alone cannot bear this burden. In order for them to want to even be involved we must release them of this liability so that there would be some incentive to make a profit and help fund our energy plans for the future.

In the high case scenario, all of the coal fired capacity in Ontario would be replaced by nuclear and all of the increasing demands would be met by nuclear. In that case, 22 new new-generation Candu 6 reactors would be required by the period 2030.

I have talked about requirements and demands for power. Hand in hand are the requirements to reduce emissions. Under the Kyoto protocol Canada has tried to obtain greenhouse gas reduction credits for Candu exports to be shared with the customer country.

OPEC, whose countries did not even sign on to Kyoto, opposed any recognition of nuclear energy for this purpose and resulted in the Canadian government's failure to ensure that nuclear energy and the export of its technology was excluded as qualification for carbon credits. So here again because we do not have the money coming in from carbon credits we are relying more on the private sector which today does not exist to a large extent because we do not have the passage of Bill C-4, the clause that prevents the financial institutions from investing.

On the other hand, Australia negotiated an 8% increase in credits for its long distances and the European Union countries received credit for their use of nuclear power plants to produce electricity. We have come up short there.

Canada would receive no credit whatsoever for its vast forests which sequester huge amounts of carbon.

Countries representing 5 billion of the 6 billion inhabitants on earth are exempted from having limits on greenhouse gas emissions and can pollute as much as they want. The United States, the biggest economy in the world, is not signing the accord. Canada would receive no credits for energy usage due to cold winters and long distance transportation requirements. Canada would not get carbon credits if our coal, oil or gas burning industries reduce emissions. Canada would receive no credit for exporting electricity from hydro dams. Thus, we need the money to come from somewhere.

The application of a new-generation Candu 6 reactor to bitumen recovery from the Alberta oil sands is being considered as well. This is being made possible for the development of the steam assisted gravity drainage process, the SAGD. The steam heats the heavy oil that drains down by gravity to a lower horizontal pipe from which the oil-steam mixture is recovered. We can see that the passage of Bill C-4 would also have an impact on our oil industries in the west.

The SAGD process has been demonstrated and it would open up the potential for the production of 88% of the oil sands not accessible by the current conventional methods, that is open pit technology, making an estimated extra 330 billion barrels recoverable.

Co-generation new-generation Candu 6 reactors would provide both the steam and the electricity needed for the operation of the plant, as well as the electrolytic production, from water, of hydrogen required for upgrading the recovered heavy oil, with oxygen and heavy water as the by-products.

Based on the 30% reduction of capital costs for the new-generation Candu reactor design, when compared with a natural gas fired steam plant with natural gas at $4 US per gigajoule, the economics for nuclear energy are promising. The new-generation Candu reactor design has the added advantage of addressing greenhouse gas emissions that may be otherwise incurred.

The Canadian Alliance is committed to reducing pollution.