Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure once again to speak to Bill C-94, an act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances.
The purpose of the bill is to ban the import and interprovincial trade of MMT, an octane enhancer. Essentially MMT reduces emissions from motor vehicles. The government claims that MMT damages the onboard devices in new 1996 cars. It is going to be obligatory for cars used in Canada not to use MMT. This was at the prompting of the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association.
The Ethyl corporation that makes MMT and the petroleum products group claim that first, MMT is not a health hazard to Canadians and second, does not damage onboard devices.
If the minister wishes to ban MMT, then she has to prove that MMT is a health hazard to Canadians. The contrary has been proven by the Ministry of Health which has shown that MMT does not damage the health of Canadians. I have heard some spurious allegations by members across the way who have actually claimed that since the health department said what it did, that maybe MMT really does harm Canadians. Those are statements made off the top of their heads without any factual basis. If we look at the facts, MMT does not harm the health of Canadians.
Central to the bill is the question, does or does not MMT damage onboard devices? There is ample evidence showing that onboard devices are not damaged by MMT. It is wise to look at the situation in the United States. We say we want a common gasoline for our vehicles, but the United States is bringing back MMT. It is bringing MMT back for a couple of very important reasons: first, that it is
not a health hazard to people; second, that it does not damage onboard devices; and, third, that if it is removed from gasoline nitrous oxide emissions will be increased by more that 20 per cent. Nitrous oxide is a very important component of smog. Smog exacerbates respiratory problems in people who suffer from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
If MMT is to be banned another substance will have to take its place. That will make gasoline more expensive. It will translate into more expense at the pump and in turn will cost to the industry more. It would act as a depressant on the economy, which means fewer jobs.
The minister cannot ban MMT on the basis of health reasons so she is going to try to ban its movement in interprovincial trade and in import and export which, in effect, is a ban on the substance. That is how the minister has managed to get around that.
The real truth behind this is that the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association is looking for a scapegoat because its members know that their onboard devices malfunction. They want to find some other reason for this and have found a handy peg to hang their hat on by claiming that MMT damages the onboard devices. However the facts prove otherwise.
When looking at the situation in the United States which does not use MMT, we find that onboard devices malfunction at exactly the same rate as they do in cars using MMT. This is very conclusive, suggestive and strong evidence that MMT, as a reason for the damage of onboard devices simply does not hold water.
I ask the minister to look at new ways and new energy sources. The transport sector has a 90 per cent plus dependency on fossil fuels. As we all know in the House, fossil fuels are finite and one day they will come to an end.
We must also look globally. By the year 2025, 11 billion plus people will be living on this planet or twice as many as lives on it today. Therefore, energy consumption will double or, as many people believe, will increase even more than that.
Another reason is that in developing nations people are actually consuming energy at a far greater rate than they have in previous years. Through industrialization and manufacturing the demands for energy and fossil fuels increase.
I ask the minister to work with the minister of science and technology and the Minister of Transport and look at different ways we can work on new and more environmentally sound alternatives to fossil fuels in the future. One alternative is electrically powered cars. We cannot provide energy now at the low cost that we have with fossil fuels but in the future this will be an important alternative for powering vehicles. While we cannot do it now, we must look to the future and develop the research and technology so that we can do that.
Another interesting concept is the hydrogen fuel cell which works on the electrolysis of hydrogen sulphide or water. Although these systems are too bulky right now to use this might be an alternative form of power for vehicles in the future. Another is photovoltaic cells which take energy from the sun. The Holy Grail of all energy sources is the concept of fusion.
As a country we do not have the finances to engage in extensive projects in this area. By working with our neighbours to the south and some Europeans that are doing some fascinating work on fusion technology, we can provide our scientific expertise to them to try to make this into a reality in the future. While it may not be practical for the transport sector, there are many other energy sectors for which this technology will have to be used.
Although these alternatives cannot replace fossil fuels right now, we do not see enough of working together between ministries. In this instance the Ministry of the Environment has logical partners in the ministry of science and technology and the Ministry of Transport. They are intimately entwined. It would serve Canada well if these ministers got together with their staffs and determined areas where they could work together in an efficient fashion.
I suggest the minister look at some other areas in the transportation sector and work with the Minister of Transport, as I said before. It costs about $7,000 a year to operate a car, with high social and environmental costs. It is very expensive. Canadians should look at the European model and extract from that more environmentally sound measures on the transportation of people, paying particular attention to bicycles and rail travel.
There is a very important issue in my riding. The E & N railway runs north-south on Vancouver Island. It can be a very potent and environmentally sound mover of goods, services and people. This railway has been lying idle for many years and is highly unproductive. I hope the Minister of the Environment will work with the Minister of Transport to try to make this railway a reality, not in the public domain but in the private domain; ownership being retained in the public domain but management and functioning in the private sector.
Vancouver Island is an area where the population is growing at perhaps the fastest rate in all of Canada. Unfortunately we are seeing the southern California syndrome where we have urban sprawl at its worst. We can look at Vancouver to see what happened there.
With that growth in population will come transport and energy demands. These must be met by looking toward the future by determining ways in which we can provide this transportation
without damaging and destroying the pristine environment that the island affords.
In conclusion, with respect to MMT our role in the House is to determine the truth. The minister acknowledges the conclusive evidence that first, MMT does not damage people's health. Second, there is conclusive evidence within our own country and even south of the border to show that MMT does not damage onboard devices.
We need to determine the truth. I ask the minister to review the relevant data and rethink this issue. Clearly there is no reason to ban MMT in Canada now. If the minister has to have an independent study to determine once and for all whether MMT actually does damage onboard devices then she ought to do that.
Again I hope the minister would work with the minister of science and technology and the Minister of Transport to look at new and improved ways of meeting the energy needs of Canadians in the future.
I wish to move the following motion to Bill C-94. I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "that" and substituting the following therefor:
"This House declines to give third reading to Bill C-94, an act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances, since among other things the bill does not take measures to compensate for the fact that MMT free gasoline would cause the fuel industry to burn more crude oil, causing greater emissions into the atmosphere while at the same time increasing tailpipe nitrous oxide emissions".