Madam Speaker, I will go on until my speech is finished.
Bill C-94-I hope this will please my colleagues-is just one more example of this improper way of doing our best. The minister started out with an idea and she will not change her mind, even if her idea is not the best one. It is impossible to go any further with other studies and analyses. The minister said no, and her no is irrevocable. Yet, there is room for debate on the issue of MMT. Let us look at the arguments both sides are making, and try to find the best route to follow.
First, we will talk about the MMT lobby, which is composed of oil companies and Ethyl Corporation. This lobby came to defend MMT before the standing committee, besides meeting many members of Parliament.
The MMT lobby tells us that by removing this additive from gasoline, we will aggravate the problem of urban smog, since we are increasing the nitrogen oxide emissions by 20 per cent. Health Canada studies indicate that the MMT additive does not constitute a major threat for human health.
Independent laboratory experiments prove that, contrary to the statements made by the automobile lobby, MMT used in Canada is totally compatible with the new onboard diagnostic systems for pollution control, the OBD-II systems.
Also according to the MMT lobby, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should reintroduce this additive very soon in that country. In fact, under an October 20 ruling by the United States Court of Appeal, District of Columbia, in the case Ethyl v. Browner, chief administrator of the EPA, the EPA has been compelled to register MMT as an additive for unleaded gasoline, something the EPA had refused to do until now. In its ruling, the court stated:
On November 30, 1993 the EPA found that MMT had no adverse effects on automobile emission control systems.
Consequently, the EPA was recognizing de facto that MMT did not adversely affect pollution control systems. At the refining stage, MMT allows to reduce some polluting emissions. It would cost refineries about $100 million in capital and about $10 million in operating expenses to replace MMT. Plants would then have to extend the whole refining process. Extra refining costs more money and pollutes more.
So, these are essentially the arguments made by the MMT lobby. I want to emphasize that, to substantiate its arguments, only Ethyl Corporation made a series of experiments on the effect of MMT on vehicle pollution control devices. You tell us that those tests go back quite some time and that the same components are no longer used? That may be, but Ethyl was the only one to conduct those tests, which seem to prove that MMT does not gum up the systems.
Furthermore, the carmakers' lobby claims that MMT affects the emission control system and more specifically the electronic pollutant detection system. In concrete terms, this system uses a light to indicate that your car's emission control device is defective.
However, there is no scientific evidence to sustain the theory of MMT causing a malfunction of this light. The carmakers' lobby tells us they have evidence, but they have made nothing public to prove it. Besides, the industry in the United States is only just beginning to conduct scientific tests to support its claims.
To bring more pressure to bear, the minister, together with the carmakers' lobby, is claiming that it could cost as much as $3,000 more to buy a car, that guarantees could be reduced, and even that the famous detection device could be disconnected.
After checking recently, we found that the guarantees on 1996 cars have not yet been changed, contrary to what the minister was claiming. This pressure can be seen as a form of blackmail on the part of the industry, but according to the minister, it is serious.
The other major argument used by the minister has to do with the harmonization of fuel standards in Canada with those in the United States. Now, as we saw earlier, the U.S. could very soon have the same MMT rates that we presently have in Canada. Some even talk about next December, when close to 50 per cent of American refineries could use MMT.
If this should happen, the minister, who is now talking about harmonization, would look rather silly. Why not wait a few weeks and see what happens in the United States? This is what both sides are saying.
The minister, who naturally tends to lean towards the car manufacturers' lobbyists, has decided to order this ban, not because of the toxic or polluting effects of the MMT on health, but because of its impact on a new electronic system being used in cars.
MMT in itself is not recognized as a toxic or hazardous product as evidenced by the fact that the minister cannot regulate the use of this product through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, or CEPA, which deals with toxic substances. The minister has no other alternative but to pass a specific act on the sale of this product.
In her press release dated April 5, the minister indicates that this decision follows almost two years of discussions between the oil industry and the automotive industry. One can wonder about the relevancy of these discussions and their true value, since the minister has warned both parties that, if they did not come to an agreement, an act banning MMT would be passed.
In saying so, was the minister not telling the automotive industry: "There is no need to discuss this much further, since I support your position and will legislate on this matter."
Again, the minister was showing her clear support for the automotive industry, which does not want to use MMT anymore and does not seem to support any of the fuel additives. Therefore, I wonder what will happen to ethanol, a favourite among additives, for which the government has recently set up a $70 million investment program.
If the automotive industry does not want to hear about additives, why would the government want to develop such a product? What a blatant inconsistency it is to ban one additive while speaking of developing another one, when the automotive industry does not want any additives at all.
How can we be sure that the automotive industry will not soon ask the government to ban ethanol because of its negative effects on a component or some equipment used in their cars? It is certainly not easy to rule in favour of one side or the other. The arguments used look valid. However, the ball is now obviously in the court of the automotive industry and of the minister who, once again, has not done her homework in a responsible and transparent manner.
Granted, the automotive industry knows these systems well but its concerns about the effects of MMT are not based on scientific studies. It is important to note that the automotive industry has made great progress in the exhaust emission control over the past 25 years. According to a study by the Canadian Automobile Association, the adoption of emission standards has greatly improved air quality. Indeed, the study reveals that, for every kilometre driven, a 1970 model polluted as much as 20 cars made in 1995. As far as I know, all this progress has been made in spite of the presence of MMT in fuel.
One can give the benefit of the doubt to the automotive industry as the minister does, but that does not seem enough. I firmly believe that it would be a great mistake to always give the benefit of the doubt on environmental issues.
One needs accurate information to make the best decisions. One must not to be afraid to ask for more. On environmental issues, asking for too much is better than asking for too little. It is the future of this planet that is in jeopardy, the survival of our children. Care must be taken not to make decisions lightly and without sufficient justification.
The minister has not done so, right from the beginning of her mandate. I would like to quote an article over the byline of Terrence Corcoran in the Globe and Mail of October 21, headlined ``Sheila Galileo meets MMT''. It reads as follows:
Scientific rigour has never been at the heart of the environment movement, nor does it appear to be the first love of Canada's Environment Minister-In a speech last Monday, Ms. Copps demonstrated her scientific flair by accusing all who doubt the existence of the greenhouse effect as "the same kind of people who rejected Galileo".
Now there's nothing deeply offensive about that accusation, except that it came from Ms. Copps midway through a speech in which any kind of science, let alone good science, was totally ignored. Speaking to the international panel on climate change in Montreal, Ms. Copps reviewed a list of "weather events from this summer documented by scientists" to prove the existence of the greenhouse effect.
Space does not permit a full rundown, but here are some of the items identified by Sheila Galileo as evidence for the greenhouse effect: the second worst year in history for forest fires; record rains in Alberta; record electricity production in Ontario; the death of a half million chickens and turkeys on one August weekend; wind damage on every property in Oxbow, Saskatchewan; a record number of
icebergs floating off Newfoundland; a steady stream of migraine sufferers, heart patients and asthmatics admitted to hospital emergency departments.
Ms. Copps said "these are facts provided by Canada's leading scientists". Could be, although the list looks more like the output of a good newspaper clipping service.
There's already evidence that bad science, or no science at all, drives environmental politics in Canada, and Ms. Copps is at the leading edge of the movement. Indeed, her department and the entire Government of Canada are now up to their test tubes in a murky scientific and political game they've been playing over a gasoline additive called MMT. In the wake of a ruling yesterday by a Washington court over MMT use in the United States, there's now a good chance that Ottawa's entire fuel emissions program is about to go up in a cloud of smoke, the victim of scientific and political negligence.
End of quote, Madam Speaker.
So much for the scientific rigour of the Minister. In light of the information available at this time, and recent developments in the US, I feel that delaying adoption of this bill is mandatory. It seems vital for studies by independent experts to be carried out to set us completely straight, so that we will have a clear idea of the impact of MMT-and why not of any other additive such as ethanol-on pollution control systems. This would be a more appropriate and more reasonable approach as things stand at the present time.
When the Minister of the Environment is constantly speaking of harmonization, bragging that this is what her policy is all about, a lot of questions come to mind. Canada is composed of provinces, each of which has an environmental policy, each of which has different needs depending on its industries. Our environment must be constantly improved, and I am convinced they are all aware of that.
In Quebec, the environment is the third-ranking priority after jobs and health. The minister must learn how to listen to people instead of stubbornly dictating her philosophies to them. The mistakes in the Department of the Environment have done nothing but constantly increase under her leadership. Her reputation as a brawler was normal when she was in the opposition. But now that she is in power, it is her duty to examine issues thoroughly, carry out studies when uncertain, and harmonize with the provinces, in other words forget all that stuff about sustainable development and the environment.
Let the minister show us, and prove to us, her true desire to make positive and realistic pro-environment decisions, not politically dictated ones. It is obvious that she seems determined to move this bill through at any price. We cannot support it, therefore, because we feel it lacks a large number of elements for banning MMT in Canada. In the aftermath of the American decision of October 20, we find it extremely difficult to support a bill that will no longer harmonize in the least with the US decisions.
Madam Minister, get back to your books, and you can write a makeup test later on.