House of Commons Hansard #257 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mmt.


Message From The SenateThe Royal Assent

3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Government House Ottawa

November 8, 1995

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Peter de C. Cory, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy Governor General, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 8th day of November, 1995, at 4.00 p.m., for the purpose of giving royal assent to certain bills.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony P. Smyth Deputy Secretary Policy, Program and Protocol

Pursuant to our standing orders, I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, Government Orders will be extended today by 19 minutes.

The House resumed from November 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-94, an act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances, be read the third time and passed.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

November 8th, 1995 / 3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Bruce-Grey has the floor. Our hon. colleague still has 11 minutes remaining in his intervention.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


Ovid Jackson Liberal Bruce—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to be here today to speak to Bill C-94, the manganese based fuel additives act.

Yesterday I made the case for the onboard diagnostic equipment. I spoke of the process in an engine during the four-stroke cycle and the fact that when the fuel is burned in such a rapid sequence it exits the tailpipe and how it affects the onboard diagnostic equipment.

I will conclude my remarks by talking about the fuel as it comes out of the exhaust pipe and enters into the catalytic converter. A catalyst is a device that causes something to happen that would not have happened without this device. It basically changes the substance without changing itself.

I talked about what happens with regard to rhodium and platinum and palladium used in this device and how it affects adding or subtracting oxygen and the fact that we added or subtracted oxygen by triggering certain devices by computer controlled mechanisms.

In the House we talk about problems in Canada. We have interprovincial problems. Sometimes because we do not have natural enemies we spend a lot of time navel gazing or talking about other things. It is important, particularly when it comes to the environment, that we act collaboratively and work hard to try to do the best for our country.

The environment is quite fragile. It is quite integrated. As we get more and more knowledgable about it, we understand how important it is and how important it is to interact with it and when we do the right things what the environment can do for us in terms of giving us healthy lifestyles. Given the fact that air will migrate across states and across provinces, it is very important that we have collaborative action to look after that. It does not matter how small those applications are in terms of looking after the environment. We have to act.

I am reminded of the fellow who said "If you think cleaning up the environment is hard, trying cleaning out your garage".

As the House gives final consideration to Bill C-94, I would like to explain the background to this legislation and what it seeks to accomplish.

MMT is the commonly used acronym for a more tongue twisting name: methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl. This is a manganese based fuel additive used to increase the octane rating of gasoline.

MMT was first viewed as a replacement for lead in gasoline. In Canada it has been used since 1977. As all members are aware, lead was phased out of virtually all Canadian gasoline by 1990. The phase-out has brought considerable improvement to urban air quality.

If I may compare MMT to lead, heaven forbid-I think lead was probably more dastardly and more harmful-we would notice that when we try to fill our car up the nozzles for the new gasolines are smaller and the hole is smaller so we cannot use the old nozzles in cases where they have lead.

Lead had its positive points. It was an octane additive. It was used to increase the combustion chamber pressures. If you increase the compression ratio you get higher initial pressure, higher final pressure, and more power. Older cars went up to something like 11:1 compression ratio.

The lead itself actually stops the gasoline from blowing up. Gasoline becomes unpredictable. For those who drive their vehicles very hard, especially some of the older model cars, and turn the ignition switch off with their foot on the accelerator pedal and the car runs on, it is called dieseling or after-running. It is sometimes caused by a hot carbon particle setting the gasoline on fire, although it is not electronically triggered by the sparkplug. It is just the heat that is left in the residual amount of carbon left in the combustion chamber that actually sets the gasoline on fire.

These octane enhancers try to predict or control this explosiveness or the volatility of the gasoline so that it works under controlled processes. When it is controlled it burns a little better and you get better reaction from it and you can control the work it is doing. You are changing heat energy to mechanical work in an engine.

Today almost every Canadian motorist uses MMT, simply because Canadian refineries use it. The exact amount of MMT may vary from one batch of gasoline to another. In general, premium grade gasoline contains a higher MMT level than regular grade gasoline.

MMT has always been controversial. In 1978 it was prohibited for use in unleaded gasoline in the United States because it was

suspected that the substance could damage emission control equipment. Despite recent moves to reverse the U.S. prohibition, MMT is certain to have no place in the high tech cleaner fuels for the future.

Hon. members from the opposition party and the Reform Party have made the case that there is not enough evidence. I have seen films from the automotive manufacturers, and they have said categorically and have shown that the catalysts in the converters are coated at a faster rate. The person who will lose in this case is the consumer.

If Ethyl Corporation and the automotive manufacturers want to work something out, we do not want to be the referee. The federal government has spent a lot of money because members of the opposition and sometimes our own members have asked the government to do certain things. We end up spending a lot of money and sometimes the resultant solutions are not that good.

Look at the Krever report on blood contaminants concerning things that have happened in the past. Those proceedings are going on and on; it is going to cost us millions of dollars and will probably result in a lot of lawsuits from people about things that have happened in the past. It seems the only people who get a lot of jobs are lawyers. I am sure my lawyer friends are going to be mad at me, but that is a problem with some of the things that happen here.

In this case, the federal government should not intervene in a dispute between the Ethyl Corporation and the automotive manufacturers. It has to make a decision on behalf of Canadians and the environment. That is what this decision is all about.

Canada is being forced to confront the downside of MMT not because a new environmental threat has emerged but because we are getting better at countering those threats.

Cleaner air involves using cleaner fuels as well as cleaner cars and trucks. While research has continued on the product we put into our gas tanks, it has also continued on our hardware, the engine that burns the fuel and the control equipment that lowers emissions. Technological advances have steadily cut the harmful emissions coming out of tailpipes.

Now we have taken another major step toward the introduction of sophisticated onboard diagnostic systems, which are known as OBDs. These systems are extremely valuable for the environment. They are responsible for the monitoring of the vehicle's emission controls and alerting the driver to malfunctions. They ensure the cleaner burning engines of today and tomorrow operate as designed. They ensure automobiles are properly maintained, resulting in decreased tailpipe emissions and improved fuel economy.

This is a very important technology, but it is even more important that it works, that it does the job properly on the new cars. This is where the problem arises.

The automobile manufacturers are convinced that gasoline containing MMT adversely affects the operation of sophisticated onboard diagnostic pieces of equipment. Accordingly, the industry has made the decision that it will not accept the risk of increased warranty repair costs caused by MMT related damage. Some companies have even indicated they will disconnect the OBD systems in whole or in part if MMT continues to be used in Canadian gasoline. That means the cost of maintaining these systems could be passed on directly to Canadian consumers and Canadian consumers would pay more to operate these new cars.

What we have here is a conflict between two key industrial sectors, the automotive manufacturers and the oil industry. The car makers insist that MMT harms their product, forcing them to adopt practices that may raise prices for consumers.

The oil industry claims that MMT reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 20 per cent, but the figure is subject to dispute. In any case, alternatives to MMT are available. By the industry's own estimates, the cost of MMT removal translates into an increase of 0.1 to 0.24 cents per litre at the pump, which is a negligible amount, given that gasoline prices regularly fluctuate by a few cents per litre.

The Minister of the Environment urged both industries to find a voluntary resolution to the issue of MMT in Canada by the end of 1994. She said that if they did not do so the government would take action. The deadline was subsequently extended into February of this year to review automotive and petroleum industry proposals. Unfortunately, the matter was not resolved, so the federal government proceeded with Bill C-94.

Allow me briefly to explain the key provisions of the bill. The legislation will prohibit the import or interprovincial trade for a commercial purpose of MMT or unleaded gasoline containing MMT. It will give the Minister of the Environment the power to authorize exceptions for MMT, which will not be used in unleaded gasoline, subject to a monitoring requirement. Coverage of the act can be expanded by order in council to cover other manganese based substances. The act is binding on all persons and entities, including federal and provincial governments.

I believe that the initiative taken by the government is correct. I feel that the onboard diagnostic equipment malfunctions outweigh the gains we can achieve with respect to nitrous oxides. We could control the nitrous oxides. The OBD systems will give us better fuel economy and better burning engines, resulting in fewer emissions to the environment.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.


Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak today to third reading of Bill C-94. I am pleased to speak for two reasons. First, it will give me the opportunity to show Canadians a sad example of bad legislation. Second, speaking today allows me to reveal again how the government's inability to display good judgment will cause Canadian industry, the consumer, and the overall environment to suffer.

On May 19, 1995 Bill C-94 was introduced in the House of Commons by the Minister of the Environment. After introduction the minister proceeded to hold a press conference, where she informed reporters that the reason for banning MMT was because it caused problems with onboard diagnostic systems in new automobiles. That was not the only reason the minister proceeded to ban MMT. She stated that Canada was one of the few countries in the world using MMT in unleaded gasoline and that this should change.

The minister knows very well what the best solution to the entire debate would be. She knows that a series of independent third party tests are needed, but she will not initiate this or facilitate it.

As members of the House and, more important, as representatives of all Canadians it is important we weigh and pursue every available option to come up with an appropriate conclusion before we create legislation. We should be asking ourselves: What indeed is the best science can tell us?

The Liberal government calls itself responsible. What is really meant by the term responsibility, in view of Bill C-94? On these technical matters it certainly does not hurt to demonstrate and then legislate. That is not too much to ask.

We know that at the time the bill was introduced MMT was not yet approved for use in unleaded gasoline in the United States. Since 1978 MMT has not been in U.S. fuel. In 1978 the Environmental Protection Agency did not approve MMT because it felt it might be detrimental to the health of Americans. Understanding what the Americans did with respect to MMT is very significant to what this government is trying to do with Bill C-94.

In the U.S. there was an air quality act brought forward by Congress in 1967. The act established a registration program for fuel additives. The regulations made registration a condition of sale and required that manufacturers provide information on the recommended range of concentration and use and chemical composition and structure.

In 1970 Congress amended the act to transfer authorization of the registration program over to the EPA. Congress required that the EPA designate fuels and fuel additives for registration. The clean air act required that manufacturers provide information on the chemical composition to the EPA. The EPA also had the authority to judge the effects of additives on emission control performance and public health.

In 1977 Congress made more amendments to the clean air act. One amendment dealt with the emergence of catalytic converters in automobiles. I will read what the courts had to say about the new amendment and the effect it would have on MMT:

As catalytic converters could not be used with leaded fuel, their adoption had led to a sharp rise in the use of MMT as an octane booster, and Congress responded to concerns that it and other fuel additives might harm the effectiveness of these converters. Section 211(f)(3) required that manufacturers of certain existing additives, those that were "not substantially similar" to constituents of fuel used in the certification of vehicles for emission purposes for 1975 or later model years, stop distributing such additives effective September 15, 1978.

Congress directed the EPA to grant a waiver once it determined that the additive would not cause or contribute to the failure of an emission control device system. The EPA deliberately stalled on making a decision until the courts instructed it to do the testing.

On November 30, 1993 the EPA found that MMT did not cause or contribute to the failure of emission control systems. However, not wanting to be outdone by the courts, the EPA denied the waiver on the grounds that the manufacturer, Ethyl, had not yet established the absence of health effects.

The court wrangling continued until October 20, 1995 when the United States Court of Appeals, in the case of Ethyl Corporation v. Carol M. Browner, administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, ruled:

We order the EPA to register MMT for use as an additive in unleaded gasoline, as of November 30, 1993.

What is significant with this ruling is not that Ethyl won and that MMT could be sold in U.S. unleaded gasoline by the end of the year, but rather it is the process that was undertaken by Congress and then the EPA not to approve MMT in unleaded fuels. Back in 1978 the EPA said that MMT might pose a health problem and cause adverse effects to catalytic converters, but through the examination of all evidence by the courts these negative concerns were put aside.

The EPA has until December 4, 1995 to appeal the decision made by the court. Considering that it did not appeal an earlier decision this year it is doubtful it will appeal the October 20 ruling. The implications of this are rather ironic. When the bill was introduced in May both the environment minister and the industry minister said that eliminating MMT from our gasoline was essential to achieve a North American harmonization of fuel. They said we should copy the Americans.

Both ministers were confident that the ban on MMT would remain in the United States. On May 5 I asked the environment

minister during question period about the fact that the courts would probably rule in Ethyl's favour. In response he stated:

I advise the hon. member that last week when I had the opportunity of speaking with Carol Browner, head of the EPA, she reaffirmed the U.S. commitment not to allow MMT. She decried the fact that there is only one country, Canada, that still allows MMT. We intend to change that.

The Minister of Industry has gone further than his colleague, the Minister of the Environment. On April 25 in a question period response he told me:

Key to that is uniformity of standards between the U.S. and Canada. The member will know that MMT is not permitted in the United States by legislation. It is crucial that we have uniformity of standards. The effort we put into trying to ensure there was a voluntary agreement between the two sectors has been well placed, but finally governments have to decide.

The Ministry of Industry has clearly stated on the record that it is important U.S. and Canadian gasoline need to have the same composition harmonization. That is his position and he will no doubt vote in favour of Bill C-94. The government is confused. I thought the definition of harmonization was two sides being in harmony with each other. I guess the minister has a different definition as MMT is now going to be used in the U.S.A.

The industry minister is not the only one who has different ideas of harmonization. During the clause by clause consideration of the bill I moved the motion that we hold off on the bill until December 5, 1995, one day after the EPA's 45 allotted days to appeal the court ruling. The U.S. ruling was not only significant for Ethyl Corporation but was equally important for the Canadian consumer. I point out a statement by the member for York-Simcoe in rebuttal to my motion:

I think in terms of what's going on in the United States. The decision that was encountered recently regarding MMT was based on some technicality. We also have to give consideration to the fact that MMT is banned in California and some of the high ozone states.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member. He may continue his intervention after we return from the Senate.

A message was delivered by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod as follows:

Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Deputy to the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the chamber of the honourable the Senate.

Accordingly, the Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber.

And being returned:

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActThe Royal Assent

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Bill S-9, an act to amend the Canada-United States Tax Convention Act, 1984-Chapter 34.

Bill C-71, an act to amend the Explosives Act-Chapter 35.

Bill C-90, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act and the Excise Act-Chapter 36.

Bill C-105, an act to implement a convention between Canada and the Republic of Latvia, a convention between Canada and the Republic of Estonia, a convention between Canada and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and a protocol between Canada and the Republic of Hungary, for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income-Chapter 37.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-94, an act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances, be read the third time and passed.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for New Westminster-Burnaby has the floor for his remaining 10 minutes.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, before we left for the Senate I was quoting the member for York-Simcoe. She had said:

I think in terms of what's going on in the United States. The decision that was encountered recently regarding MMT was based on some technicality. We also have to give consideration to the fact that MMT is banned in California and some of the high-ozone states- So any kind of justification for the fact that 100 per cent of the United States is not going to be using MMT is simply just not acceptable because that's not true. At least 30 per cent of the country will not be having MMT usage at all.

When I was a youngster in elementary school and I thought I might be embarrassed, I would perhaps disassemble to get out of

trouble. The comments made by the member for York-Simcoe in the environment committee show that the government's back is up against the wall and it is now saying anything it can to save face. The policy of the government is clear: legislate how the minister feels, or wants to favour someone, rather than by what is right in view of legitimate evidence.

When MMT is reintroduced into the United States later this year probably 70 per cent of the gasoline will have MMT in it, if we use the numbers from the member for York-Simcoe. Let me also point out that the environmental restrictions in California are different from any of those used in other states. I have often heard the description that California is a country all of its own. If California lifted the ban on MMT I am certain the members of the Liberal caucus would find some other reason it is important to ban MMT.

When the EPA attempted to ban MMT it mistakenly believed it was harmful. The Liberal government wants to ban not the substance but rather the importation and interprovincial trade in the substance. This is clearly an anti-free trade bill. Some would ask the reason for doing it this way. The government has no other choice. When it is unable to do something through the proper channels, old style Liberals find other ways.

This is the government that told the Canadian electorate following the last election that it would show credibility and responsibility and be forthright with the public. Here is another example that can be added to a long list of old style governance and politics.

Every Canadian should ask the Minister of the Environment why she did not go through the proper channels and ban MMT under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. She is the sponsor of this legislation so why did she not use her department's act, an act that was designed specifically for banning harmful substances. The answer is simple. She could not. There is not a scientific basis for it. MMT appears to be no more harmful than household dust on the furniture.

In order to add a substance to the schedule of banned substances under CEPA it must be proven by Health Canada that the substance is hazardous to the health of Canadians. Anyone who has listened to any of the debates on this bill is well aware of the December 6, 1994 Health Canada report called "Risk Assessment for the Combustion Products of MMT". It states that "all analyses indicate that the combustion products of MMT in gasoline do not represent an added health risk to the Canadian population".

On October 18 a Health Canada official appeared before the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development and concurred that the 1994 report remains the position of the department. Therefore I urge all members of the House not to include in their speeches during this third reading stage any reference that the removal of MMT will improve health quality. I

heard several government members make a mention of this during second reading. It is a false and inaccurate assertion. A member may make an unforeseen mistake, however in this case, the evidence gives clear direction concerning what can be claimed.

From the outset Reformers have unequivocally stated that we would support the banning of MMT if the government could prove through an independent scientific test that MMT was harmful to the automakers onboard diagnostic systems or OBD-IIs as they are called in the industry. However the minister has only scoffed at Reform for even suggesting independent testing. The Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association has provided her with their test data and that is all the data she apparently needs or wants to see.

When the petroleum companies appeared before the committee they suggested they would have a tremendous amount to lose should MMT be removed from Canadian fuels. In their testimony it was suggested that the removal of MMT could result in an increase of manufacturing costs by as much as $69 million per year.

According to the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, the $69 million increase would be due to the fact that refiners would have to burn more crude in order to achieve the high octane levels needed for today's automobiles. They would also have to retrofit refineries. Other expensive additives would have to be used which might eventually be revealed to be very harmful.

This bill has been through the various stages. I want to make it clear that at every stage Reform has made every attempt to put the bill on hold until conclusive proof is found. We have not been obstructionist. We have called for common sense, not unreasonably siding with any group, unlike the government.

I want to read into the record parts of three letters I have come across, all from provincial ministers of the environment and all concerning MMT. First, from the Hon. Vaughn Blaney, Minister of the Environment for the province of New Brunswick:

Given that neither the federal government nor the motor vehicle manufacturing industry have provided the information and assurances that this province and the refining industry have requested regarding the economic and environmental impacts of this bill, and given the current discussions on use of this compound in the United States, I would hereby request that this bill be set aside until the questions raised have been clearly responded to by Canada and a decision on the continued use of this additive is taken in the United States.

From the Hon. Wayne Adams, Minister of the Environment for the province of Nova Scotia:

I realize that there are conflicting reports respecting pros and cons of MMT use. However, the task force should consider the potential increase in NOx emissions, higher production costs, and higher energy demands associated with the manufacture and use of a non-MMT gasoline. I believe that it would be prudent to withhold a final decision with respect to fuel reformulation and MMT until such

time as all stakeholders have had sufficient opportunity to assess the available information and the question of MMT is settled in the U.S.

From the Hon. Bernard H. Wiens, Minister of the Environment and Resource Management for the province of Saskatchewan:

The province understands the importance of the automobile manufacturing industry in Canada, however, our petroleum refining industry continues to be concerned that the removal of MMT would cause substantial cost increases for their industry. In addition to the cost implications, increased greenhouse gas emissions as a result of intensified refinery processes required to replace MMT, and increased vehicle tail-pipe emissions of smog forming Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) would also occur. The data supplied to date by the automative industry does not identify a net air quality benefit and as such, we have difficulty rationalizing the cost to the refining industry or consumers.

The issue of NOx benefit is a serious one. NOx emissions are major contributors to urban smog. As well, there is no disputing that the presence of MMT in unleaded gasoline actually reduces smog as it complements complete combustion. All of the experts agree, including those from Environment Canada. The only dispute is about the appropriate amount.

Environment Canada officials claim that the amount is 5 per cent whereas Ethyl and the petroleum companies claim it is closer to 20 per cent. Whatever the number, the result is that MMT reduces NOx emissions, it certainly does not increase it.

One of the most interesting aspects of this entire debate is the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources. Within the minister's purview are the many refineries and coming from the capital of the oil industry one has to wonder what her opinions are. When asked whether or not the natural resources minister is in agreement with Bill C-94 the environment minister stood up and stated: "I would point out that any cabinet decision to move on MMT is supported by all minister of government".

However, in the final outcome, the Minister of Natural Resources will have to explain her actions to her constituents. I doubt the scientists and technicians of her department support the bill. They have been muzzled and disallowed from expressing their own personal and professional views.

Can the Minister of Natural Resources really stand in the House and vote for such changes as proposed in Bill C-94? May I remind her that she won by one of the smallest margins in the last federal election. If I remember correctly there were several recounts. I suggest the minister make her voice known around the cabinet table instead of succumbing to the unreasonable pressure of the Minister of the Environment.

Since the very beginning Reform has pushed the environment minister to do independent testing and let the auto manufacturers and Ethyl Corporation work things out themselves. The minister could not believe that I would suggest such a thing. She was adamant that the auto manufacturers were correct and that was that.

I have some new information about a recent development. I hope each of my hon. friends across the floor, including the Minister of the Environment, will be listening very closely. The American Automobile Manufacturers Association and its members are continuing to develop an MMT vehicle test program. They expect to co-operate with the makers of MMT. The industry is talking about the pursuing a sharing of data about the effects of MMT on OBD systems. It looks like the industry can solve the problem itself without government interference.

It is time for the environment minister to change her headstrong approach. When industries are willing to work together to find common ground, the government should stay clear. If the Minister of the Environment is too willing to interfere, I can only ask the question, why? If the minister wants to have a credible legacy in the environment portfolio I would suggest that she put aside this bill and let it gather some household dust.

The government's lack of a meaningful legislative agenda for the country is now noticed by the political observers. The country is falling apart on the tenets of the fundamental agreements that made the Confederation of Canada, yet we are dithering over MMT in car gas. The sense of proportion for government is missing at this critical point in our history.

If we must regulate gasoline additives for the country, then let the minister come forward with a bill that deals with rules and an open process for any substance that does not come under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. This anti-free trade bill before us today will likely be challenged on the reasonable basis under the NAFTA provisions. I think the intervenor should win on the merits against the government as everything our party has said on this matter would support such a challenge. It is my assessment that the government is in a very weak, unjustifiable position on that count but is hoping that it will slip by.

In closing, Reformers say to the Minister of the Environment who is the Deputy Prime Minister, give up on this misguided track and get on with saving the country.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, seldom in recent times have I witnessed a debate into which so much misinformation has been injected and so much confusion has been put on the record in order to create a lack of confidence in the actions of the government.

With all due respect to the member for New Westminster-Burnaby, this matter is not a new one. It is not one that has prompted

the Minister of the Environment and the government to make a rash decision. It has been around for some time.

If I remember correctly, in October 1993, the Minister of the Environment announced that if the petroleum industry would not take voluntary action to resolve the issue of MMT in gasoline by the end of 1994, she would have to take action to prohibit its use. This deadline was extended to February 1995.

This decision has a long history. The government has carefully watched a dispute between two industrial sectors and despite the prompting and the time extension, a solution was not found and it was found necessary to intervene. In the face of the inability of the two major stakeholders and one proponent to meet and come to an agreement on MMT, the onus must fall on the government to determine what needs to be done in the public interest.

The most informed judgment available at the time in this case was the judgment that MMT as a fuel additive had to go. So much for the accusation that the government has not thought it over and has not given the parties sufficient time to come to a solution on their own. This matter was also pointed out when we had our hearings in committee.

A number of issues are at stake. One issue is the question that emission systems would fail prematurely because of the presence of MMT in gasoline. There is the issue of unnecessary repair costs when these emission systems are not plugged in. Millions of motorists would be affected by the presence of MMT in the new model cars. Data and analyses only come from companies that make MMT or from automakers and the government as an independent agency has to judge both and decide which way to go. There is the risk of increased warranty repair costs to the consumer and the possible reduction of the warranty coverage for Canadian motorists.

An overall encompassing issue and a matter I would like to bring to the attention of those who oppose this bill is that technological progress is pushing legislative changes. That is what it boils down to. This is technology which is moving ahead and is impossible to ignore. We must take that fact into account and find ways of protecting the consumer. I am sure the constituents in Athabasca, the constituents in New Westminster-Burnaby and the constituents of that great Canadian patriot from Laurentides will all benefit from this measure.

Cars coming onstream into the marketplace have OBDs, the onboard diagnostic systems, which will ensure that the mix of emissions produced are under control in the most advanced levels that technology has reached. If we do not remove MMT from gasoline, this technology cannot be utilized by the consumer. The manufacturer of the car, as we were told in committee, will simply disconnect the diagnostic system from the engine.

Initially I had some difficulty understanding what manganese does. I found it very helpful to hear the explanation given to us by people in the know who made two points.

The exhaust of an engine passes over the specially coated surface of a catalytic converter, which we all know is that little box under the car which was installed some time ago in order to reduce car emissions. When the exhaust gas passes over it, certain pollutants are removed. Manganese is produced by virtue of the consumption of gasoline in the engine. If the manganese covers the surface of the catalytic converter, then this type of catalytic converter cannot function properly. As a result, vehicles will pollute more over time. Here is the link between the effect of manganese and the catalytic converter in a very linear form.

Engines in recent times have adopted the technology of oxygen sensors. They determine how much oxygen goes into the air and fuel mixture in the engine. If manganese is used in gasoline, over time the manganese will coat the sensors. When it coats the sensors, the sensors give a false signal that air must be injected into the mixture. As a result the engine consumes more fuel because the air-fuel mixture becomes too rich.

The cars built for the North American market are equipped with onboard diagnostic systems. The system tells the motorist when the emission equipment must be looked at. Unlike the emission inspection systems of the past, the onboard diagnostic system identifies the first moment the vehicle begins to pollute excessively. That is important to remember because unlike what we were told by the hon. member for New Westminster-Burnaby, there are health implications. There is no need, thanks to the onboard diagnostic system, to have inspection stations, to wait in line ups, to pay inspection fees, and the like.

The majority of motorists whose vehicles are not polluting excessively need not be inconvenienced. All they need is the onboard diagnostic system. It helps the motorist and the environment. It improves the control of the emission of various gases produced in the combustion engine.

The oxygen sensors are important. We must keep that in mind. The catalytic converter is important. The removal of manganese is a function of the performance of these two items, the catalytic converter and the sensors.

We want to achieve something which is good for the consumer and which is also good for the quality of the air we breathe, particularly in densely populated urban centres from Vancouver to Halifax.

A number of red herrings have been brought forward during the debate. I will not spend too much time speaking on the comments which were made the other day by the great patriot from Laurentides when she had to drag in and quote Terence Corcoran of the Globe and Mail who was criticizing the Minister of the Environment in a rather pathetic way. If it were up to Mr. Corcoran, our environmental standards would quickly return to the middle ages. The criticism was that the removal of MMT would produce more pollution. The theme of the hon. member for Laurentides was also picked up quite extensively by the hon. member for Athabasca. He was very strong in committee on that.

In committee we heard the views of Ethyl Corporation, which is opposed to the bill, as it was opposed to the removal of lead in gasoline 10 years ago, and quite adamantly so. We also heard views from the car manufacturing industry. We had to conclude that the claims about increased pollution as advanced by Ethyl Corporation were seriously exaggerated. They were based on data collected by Ethyl from test cars and not on data from a Canadian fleet. I am told there is a big difference between the two.

The Canadian fleet tests took into account world operating conditions and concluded that the NOx reduction was more in the order of 5 per cent than the 20 per cent claimed by Ethyl. The claim that removing MMT will lead to a higher production of NOx is one that has not been sufficiently and clearly substantiated in our committee hearings. Actually, the matter was put to rest quite effectively when we heard that the operation of the diagnostic system permits a control of all polluting gases produced during the combustion process. This is important. The overall impact of the diagnostic controlling system is that it will reduce the overall engine pollution in all of its components, namely carbon monoxides, NOx and hydrocarbons.

With respect to the lack of provincial support, a letter was read from the New Brunswick minister of the environment. I believe we also received a letter from the Saskatchewan minister, but we certainly have not received a letter from the minister of the environment for British Columbia. We understand that British Columbia is very much in favour of this legislation. We have not heard from the province of Ontario, which I suspect is also very much in favour. I suspect the same for the province of Quebec. I believe that the provinces, by and large, have expressed either directly or indirectly considerable support.

I submit with all due respect to my knowledgeable and esteemed colleague from New Westminster-Burnaby, it is hard to believe that this matter could be put into the category of being an anti-free trade measure. This measure really does not have to do with free trade.

The NAFTA agreement gives much relevance to matters related to labour and the environment. This comes clearly under the environmental heading. It is a very legitimate initiative and it is certainly not motivated by anti-free trade reasons.

I dealt with interference by the minister earlier. This is an intervention by the government by two ministers who, after having exhausted all alternative avenues, had to conclude there was no other course of action relevant than to proceed and provide the necessary protection for the consumer.

The technology is inexorably moving ahead. We have reached a new plateau in the knowledge of how to control and reduce pollution emitted by motor cars. We have to move with the technology. We have very little alternative other than to allow the disconnecting of the onboard diagnostic system by the car manufacturer if manganese is not removed. Surely that measure would be reminiscent of another era when we pretended that certain evidence was not staring at us and we looked the other way because we did not like the evidence.

We have to take the evidence into account. We would be seriously criticized and quite rightly so by members of the opposition if we were inactive on this matter. In the end this measure will lead to a reduction in air pollution in highly populated areas. The performance of the engines will be improved. There will be an improvement in mileage with the same consumption of fuel, and there will be an improvement in terms of reduced emissions.

We all know from studies conducted by a number of esteemed medical doctors that there is a connection between air pollution and hospital admissions, particularly in connection with asthmatics. These have been measured in the past. They have been scientifically supported by way of printouts of admissions to various hospitals in the province of Ontario. This fact cannot be denied.

It seems to me that for all these reasons we are moving on the right track. If we did not do that we would be in the same league as countries like Bulgaria, Argentina, or perhaps Taiwan. Let me see what other countries are still using manganese in gasoline: Russia, the Ukraine. I am sure that sooner or later, if their automotive technology will allow, they will be glad to also move away from the use of MMT.

We are moving from one stage of improvement in technology to the next. In the 1980s we were concerned with lead. In the 1990s we are concerned with MMT. In another decade we will be concerned with some other aspect of this technology. But it is quite clear that as the number of vehicles on the roads increases and as the population increases and as the number of people who want the freedom of movement a car allows increases, we will have to

tighten up the system and find ways to reduce the pollution that accompanies the operation of a car.

In that context, this measure makes sense and fits into the progression. It is not the first step of this nature, because we already took an important step in the 1980s by removing lead from gasoline, and it will not be the last. There will be other measures following in the years to come.

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4:45 p.m.


Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of questions concerning the member's presentation.

He stated that this issue has gone on for some time. I would accept that. I heard the suggestion that the two sides were unable to reach a conclusion. I would ask him how he could realistically expect the two sides to ever come to any agreement after the minister made this statement, prior to October 1993, that she was prepared to ban the use of MMT. How can he realistically expect the Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Association to continue to bargain in good faith after that statement was made and it was clear what would happen if no agreement was achieved?

This member in committee clearly stated that he was no expert in these matters. We heard evidence presented before the EPA and two court challenges in the U.S. that there has been significant failure of OBD technology in the U.S. There is just as high a failure rate there without MMT as there is in Canada. This evidence was presented by experts in the court as well as before the EPA. Even his own members on the committee expressed serious doubts as to the validity of the evidence. Why does he then as a layman accept unquestionably the evidence provided by MMT as to catalytic converter problems and all the rest of it?

Finally, why does the member insist that this has no implications on trade or that it is not a trade matter when clearly section 1209 of the energy chapter of the draft agreement on internal trade reached with the provinces states that no party shall prohibit or hinder access to its petroleum markets or its petroleum product markets? How then can this bill not affect trade?

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4:50 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will try to answer some of his questions.

The Minister of the Environment became a minister after the election in 1993. She made the statement after being appointed in October. I am not aware of any other statement she made before that.

In the red book there was a commitment to sustainable development. There was a commitment to a number of pollution prevention measures. This fits perfectly within the general principle of pollution prevention, I submit to the hon. member.

There was a valid question on how can the two parties come to a realistic agreement. They can if they are given the time. Since a year and a half as of last June has elapsed, one can conclude that the two parties are unable to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. There is a point when that institution called government, to which the public entrusts its interests, has to move. One could argue that it should have been done sooner. Some people would argue that it should have been done at a later date. That is question of judgment and a question of policy.

The other question had to do with trade and section 1209. The NAFTA agreement states that matters that are related to environmental policies would have to be taken into account before this particular section 1209 is invoked and put into effect. In other words, when Canada signed the NAFTA agreement in December 1993 it was done with a mutual understanding, and I think reinforced by the Americans as well, that there would always have to be consideration given to modifying the agreement either in the field of labour or in the field of the environment. This is a classic example that has been invoked.

As to the OBD systems in the U.S., I have been told that waivers have been provided to automotive manufacturers because of the complexity of the systems and not because they have failed in the field. This is in answer to the third question.

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4:50 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Davenport began his speech by talking about red herrings. I think it is appropriate, because he seems to be a master at this.

The first red herring is the bill itself. At a time when our nation is facing a debt increasing by $100 million a day, at a time when we have a stalker who has killed and is taunting the police and our justice system needs repair, at a time when we have a gaggle of cabinet ministers huddling about what the meaning of national unity is, we are here debating Bill C-94 about manganese additives.

The member has some of his own red herrings, like the red herring of comparing manganese additives to lead based additives. The health officials say that this additive has no bearing on health and that it is not a harmful emission.

I would like to ask the member for Davenport why he would compare in such a way the manganese additives with lead based additives when the government itself has said there is no comparison.

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4:55 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether I should be flattered or offended by being called a master of red herrings. I will leave it to my colleagues to judge me in that respect. Maybe I am more effective on that front than I ever thought.

The member from Chilcotin is very kind in drawing to my attention that manganese has no health effects, according to health authorities. He is correct. We were told that in committee. But it is the effect on the diagnostic system on board that reduces the totality of the gas emissions that is the important factor. If that diagnostic system is not functioning properly, you have poor performance and more pollution. You do not want to have more pollution because that has an effect on health. It is in that context that I made that statement.

Why compare manganese to lead? It is not a question of comparing it. All I am saying is there is a progression. First we fought the battle of removing lead in gasoline, which today everybody accepts, but boy was it ever controversial 10 years ago: the sky would fall, jobs would be lost, refineries would go out of business-all things we were told in 1983. Perhaps I should also offer the information that at that time I was environment minister and this was part of my task. It was pretty dramatic as to the consequences of removing lead in gasoline, believe me.

In any event, it was done gradually. Today we consider that as a normal fact of life. There are positive effects in the health of children, the ones who suffer from exposure to lead when it is contained in gasoline. It is one of the reasons it was done.

I am saying it is part of a progression. First it was lead, now it is manganese. Ten years from now perhaps it will be another substance, because technology is moving ahead and legislators have to move as well. If we do not move with technology, I submit to you we will lose relevance. The public will justly think that the political institutions are no longer performing the job they are supposed to do. I think that is the last thing we collectively would like to see happen.

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4:55 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member for Davenport why we even have this bill, when MMT is proven by the Department of Health not to be a health hazard to Canadians and there is ample evidence demonstrating that MMT does not affect onboard devices at all. I wonder why we are trying to ban this substance.

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4:55 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have discussed this a few times. The Department of Health is saying that there is no proof that manganese is damaging to health. That is how it is being put. Nobody has said that manganese is a healthy thing. Nobody is saying that manganese is good for the environment.

Manganese, I must draw to the member's attention, is a heavy metal. Anyone who knows about heavy metals knows what that means and the importance of dealing with this substance in a proper manner.

I hope I have answered the question.

The House resumed, from November 7, 1995, consideration of the motion that Bill C-108, an act to amend the National Housing Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being five o'clock, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division at second reading of Bill C-108, an act to amend the National Housing Act.

Call in the members.

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

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5:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee.)

The House resumed from November 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-95, an act to establish the Department of Health and to amend and repeal certain acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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5:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division on second reading of Bill C-95.

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5:25 p.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, if you were to seek it, I believe there would be unanimous consent for applying the vote on the previous motion to the motion now before the House, and Liberal members will be recorded as voting yes to this motion.

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5:25 p.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, members of the Bloc Quebecois will vote no.

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5:25 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, Reform members will vote for the motion, except those who might choose to vote otherwise.