House of Commons Hansard #221 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.


Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation Act
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Some hon. members


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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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Some hon. members


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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

In my opinion, the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

At the request of the government whip, the vote has been deferred until 11.30 p.m.

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David Anderson for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

moved 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 second time and referred to a committee.

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Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very happy to start off this debate on a bill concerning a fuel additive called manganese.

In English it is referred to in technical terms as MMT, nevertheless implying that we are dealing here with a substance called according to a technical name, MMT. It contains a chemical substance called manganese. It is well known in chemistry as well as in geology and in the mineral disciplines as being one that can be dangerous to human health.

This bill aims very simply at bringing about a decision in Canada that was launched and concluded successfully south of the border well over 16 years ago, more precisely in 1978. At the time the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington concluded as a result of studies conducted there that it was essential in the public interest to do away with manganese as an additive to gasoline.

This bill attempts today to bring to the attention of members and the public the importance to do the same now in Canada, not just for environmental reasons but also for technical reasons, not just for public health reasons but also because the automotive industry has by virtue of technological change reached a level where it actually depends on the elimination of manganese from gasoline.

It must be said for the record that Canada is probably the only country in the world that is still using manganese. As a result of that, for the reasons I have just outlined, the situation has reached a point where it is absolutely essential that we move on this issue and deal with it.

The engineers in the automotive industry are telling us that manganese impairs the performance of pollution control equipment in cars and trucks. The automakers in Canada and in the United States are now producing cars with systems that can tell the driver how well and whether the pollution control equipment is working.

Manganese in gasoline does not permit automakers to give the driver of the vehicle the benefit of using the pollution control equipment because manganese is incompatible with this kind of equipment. I am told that automakers will have to disconnect this kind of equipment in Canada if gasoline continues to contain manganese.

The consequences for consumers are manifold. First the warranty of the engine will be affected. It will not be extended as far as it could be extended with this kind of equipment to the benefit of the consumer. Second the performance of the engine could be affected because of the inability of the driver to know whether certain parts of the equipment are functioning. The third consequence is complementary to the second point: the driver will not know whether the catalytic converter is working or not, whether the anti-pollution devices in the car are properly functioning and therefore the driver will not know whether the equipment installed in the car is working in the manner it is supposed to in terms of pollution controls.

The scientists in our community are also informing us that manganese in gasoline means risking greater pollution in the form of smog, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.

Automakers in Canada have told the government they want the elimination of manganese in gasoline. They are technologically ready for it. Actually they are well beyond this point. They all say that manganese adversely affects the onboard diagnostic

systems, which is a fancy word for indicating the types of devices that inform the driver whether the anti-pollution equipment is working or not. In other words, the driver will not have the ability to tell whether or not the pollution control equipment installed in the car is working or not.

Members will quickly realize therefore the importance in the public interest of this measure proposed by the Minister of the Environment, who has been working on this initiative for some time already and who has been behind the scenes pushing the interested industries, petroleum on the one hand and the automakers on the other-and the latter is being quite keen and cooperative-to bring this matter to a solution without legislation.

It is only fair to say that the federal government has waited for the automotive and the petroleum industries to resolve this problem without legislation. Unfortunately, the problem has not been resolved.

The automakers at the very moment as we have this debate are now manufacturing the diagnostic system for the 1996 models. We are now debating this matter at the eleventh hour, and the government finds it necessary to present and pass this legislation in the speediest manner possible.

The government is doing this with three purposes in mind: number one, as I mentioned earlier, to protect human health; number two, to protect the warranty of the car to the benefit of the consumer; and number three, to take advantage of technological change and reap the benefits offered by these diagnostic systems, which are higher efficiency for the engine, lower consumption, and of course, quite important, pollution prevention.

The question might arise as to who is opposed to this bill. Obviously the only opposition at this stage can be identified among those who are the suppliers of manganese, some multinational companies, which do not really have at heart the public interest.

Remember that MMT, the substance that contains manganese, was banned already in 1978 and for very precise health reasons. This issue has been on the agenda of publicly concerned legislators for some time.

Members remember leaded gasoline. Lead is one of the most poisonous substances which poses a danger to human health, particularly to children. It has been removed therefore from gasoline, from toys, from paints. Who was opposed at the time when lead was to be removed from these products? It was the very same people who now oppose the removal of manganese from gasoline.

It can be said in conclusion that in Canada there are 18 automobile companies that view this bill as needed and desirable. They see it of course from their perspective as being involved in the motor vehicle production centre. As a Parliament we have to take a view also to include health considerations and consumer protection considerations. It is therefore for these three reasons put together that we think this is a bill that commands the attention and positive reception on the part of colleagues and members of this House in the hope that they will consider it in a favourable manner tonight and give it speedy consideration so it can be passed and put at work for the benefit of Canadians from coast to coast.

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Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Madam Speaker, today we start second reading of Bill C-94, an act to regulate the provincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese-based substances. More specifically, Bill C-94 is aimed at banning the addition of a substance called MMT to unleaded gasoline in Canada. This bill would allow the Minister of the Environment to rid Canada of MMT, a substance which, I would like to remind you, has been added to our gasoline since 1977.

The minister is tabling this bill as the session is drawing to a close, and she appears eager to have it passed as quickly as possible. The minister's approach denotes a certain uneasiness in this matter, an uneasiness that may be due to pressure from automotive manufacturers who, coincidentally, are concentrated in her region. Far be it from me to think that the minister has decided to ban MMT in Canada for the sole purpose of addressing the automotive industry's concerns. I am convinced that she is acting in the public interest and that her first concern in making decisions is for the environment. At least, that is what we should expect from the minister.

However, in the case of MMT, the minister's intentions are not clear and she appears unwilling to disclose the real motivation behind this decision. Her arguments seem lame and questionable. The minister also acts in similar fashion in several other matters. What she is saying in this and other cases and the information she spreads are not likely to reassure the public, let alone environmental groups.

Her knowledge of the issues appears deficient and inadequate, robbing her of the credibility that is needed if not essential in such a position. This, incidentally, reminds me of the raising of the Irving Whale , the barge belonging to the Irving company, which has been lying at the bottom of the Gulf of St. Lawrence since 1970 with 3,100 tonnes of bunker C fuel oil on board. In this matter, the minister has said all kinds of things on how the barge will be removed. Recently, the minister and her press secretary even came up with their own raising technique, which is not mentioned anywhere in the bidding documents.

I listened to a recording of an interview with the minister on this subject on CBGA, a CBC radio station in the Magdalen Islands. What I heard was utterly ludicrous. Informed people must have shuddered when they heard the minister talk about using something like a rubber dinghy, a sort of enormous condom to enclose the barge 200 feet under water. That is totally ridiculous. Who will tell the minister to stop saying the first thing that comes to mind? Who will tell the minister to familiar-

ize herself with the issues, to look at them before spewing out incorrect information? Who from the cabinet or her department will ask the minister to be more careful in her rhetorical outbursts which are so nefarious for the environment?

I will now close my comments on the Irving Whale with my sincere wishes that its salvaging, which will take place this summer, will not turn into an ecological catastrophe. The devastating effects would be felt for years to come and, by and large, the minister would be held personally responsible. There are similarities between the Irving Whale, the MMT issue and many others. The links between all of these cases and decisions are haste and a lackadaisical approach.

Add to that a rather murky transparency and a lack of will to provide pertinent information, and we find ourselves in very worrisome situations and we find that the Minister of the Environment is increasingly challenged by specialists in the field.

Judging from the minister's actions, one would almost conclude that she is in a leadership race and that she is feeling ignored by the media. One would almost believe that she is suddenly suffering from a lack of visibility and that it was absolutely necessary for her to present us with something: statements from the minister, bills and new policies unexpectedly introduced in the House with no rhyme or reason. They are presented to us piecemeal with no real indication of any will on the part of the minister to draw up a game plan or to create a cohesive environmental policy.

Why is the minister acting this way? Why does she always want to introduce initiatives as if she were pulling a rabbit out of a hat? The answer is simple: the environment is not on the Liberals' list of priorities. The evidence is clear. Since the Grits came to power, important environmental issues have not been dealt with. The promises in the red bible have been thrown out in the garbage, hardly appropriate in this case.

In fact, this comes as no surprise, since the whole red bible has been shelved. The abdication of responsibility is deplorable. The Liberals, starting with the Deputy Prime Minister, have not done much to improve, preserve and protect our environment.

However, some hon. members opposite are very concerned about the environment. We know them well. The hon. member for Davenport, himself a former minister of the environment; the hon. member for York-Simcoe; and the Quebec member for Lachine-Lac-Saint-Louis, former minister of PCBs in Quebec, are all great environmentalists. Like us, they must be aware of their government's abdication of its responsibilities. But what can they do if their hands are tied and they do not have the ear of the minister and the cabinet?

Yes, the minister did shout right and left, and she did spout some high sounding ideas here and there. The minister even went so far as to believe and to say out loud that Canada was a world leader on environmental issues. Now that was rather unfortunate, because when we consider the Liberals' record in this area, it is clear all this is just window dressing. The minister creates a diversion to camouflage the government's lack of commitment.

For instance, the Sierra Club published its environmental report card at the beginning of this month. The result: The minister got a B+, the threesome consisting of the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Industry got an F, for failing, and finally, the Prime Minister got a D with a reprimand that he had failed to instruct his cabinet to achieve the red book's objective to reduce greenhouse gases 20 per cent by the year 2005.

All this confirms what we in the Bloc have maintained since the very beginning, which is that the Liberals are all talk but no action. The cabinet's strategy consists merely in putting the minister on stage to make a lot of high sounding promises. The cabinet has no compunction in sacrificing the minister and, what is worse, the environment as well.

The minister should feel somewhat embarrassed about playing this role at the behest of cabinet. In playing this role, which suits her very well given her verbal facility-she might be called a motor mouth-, the minister is losing a certain credibility, however.

In addition, however, given the rather mixed results in environmental matters, it is clear the minister is no cabinet heavy weight. The ministers who got an "F" from the Sierra Club are the uncontested leaders establishing the environmental agenda. The environmental cause is certainly not advanced by those with the lowest mark.

This inaction and lack of environmental will leads in the end to trivialities, essentially no results. It started off well enough with actions being chosen that required the government itself to carry out internal measures, if I can put it that way, but we have seen no external measures, which would have greater benefit.

Our government therefore shows little interest in the environment and lacks an overall vision and policy. We have a government and a minister that can act only within the system and, on a few occasions, outside it, as in the case of the bill before us today.

The Liberals are favouring a piecemeal environment policy, which is a definite step backwards and a shameful reduction on their part. The best example of their throwing in the towel is undoubtedly their dropping the green plan. This plan, which was introduced in 1990, was an overall action plan. It was spearheaded by the Department of the Environment, which was responsible for various aspects of its implementation, and inspired by an environmental philosophy. The dropping of this plan represents an unprecedented withdrawal. We are going back many years because of the lack of sensitivity and will on the part of decision makers who deal with the environment as if it were a fashionable issue. Polls reveal that the environment is no longer a hot topic. Decision makers react stupidly, putting this issue on the back burner and withdrawing from initiatives already under way.

By dropping the Green Plan, they are definitely saying no to a co-ordinated approach. The minister is replacing a coherent plan, which was spearheaded by a department with a specific budget, by a system which leaves every department free to do what it wants. It is as if someone had decided to scatter pieces from a puzzle all over the place. There would no longer be any relationship between them, and the final objective would become unattainable. This is what the government is doing now, it is dividing up the environment, much to its detriment.

I will remind you that the Green Plan, for which the initial budget was supposed to be around $3.5 billion over five years, never amounted to more than $800 million. This is far short of the initial goal. Those responsible for backing away from this ecological commitment are the people on the other side and the Conservatives who preceded them. The ministers, whether blue or red, did not have the will to pursue this innovative plan, to modify it and to perfect it, to make it responsive to the needs of the environment. Therefore, the budget melted like new snow in May, without anybody paying any attention. What a pity. What irresponsibility and lack of respect towards our environment. Sincerely, I do not believe that this is the way to proceed if we want to leave our children a sound and natural environment capable of answering their needs. The nice sounding principles of sustainable development, biodiversity, and ecosystemic approach people use when they talk about environment, are far from reaching the decision makers and therefore very far from having a chance of being implemented.

The bill we are considering today deals with something that will take place outside of government. With this bill, the government will be able to prohibit the importation and interprovincial trade of certain substances containing manganese. The first targeted product is MMT, a chemical added to unleaded gasoline to increase its octane rating. For a start, the bill raises a number of questions as to its appropriateness and timing.

Let us remember that on April 5 of this year, the Minister of the Environment announced in a press release her intention of introducing this bill as soon as possible. Indeed, it received first reading on May 19 of this year. In her press release, the minister said and I quote: "This initiative will allow Canadians to continue to enjoy the benefits of technical advances in the area of car emission control, and to receive a protection equal to the one received by citizens in the United States".

With this bill, it is obvious that the minister is specifically responding to auto makers who claim that MMT additive clogs up the pollution control equipment. And to bring more pressure to bear, auto makers said that if MMT was not banned, it could cost $3,000 more to buy a car, warranties could be reduced and the pollution control system could even be disconnected. We might see in this some sort of blackmailing by the industry but, according to the minister, it seems to be serious.

The Minister of the Environment then decides to take this prohibiting measure, not because of the polluting or toxic effects of MMT, but because of its effects on an anti-pollution system that will be incorporated into cars in 1996.

The proof that MMT in itself is not recognized as a toxic or dangerous product is that the minister cannot regulate this product under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the CEPA, which applies specifically to toxic products. So, she has no other alternative than to pass separate legislation.

In her press release of April 5, the minister indicated that this decision was taken after almost two years of discussions with the petroleum and automobile industries. We could question the relevance and value of these discussions, since the minister told the parties at the outset that failure to reach an agreement would result in legislation to ban MMT.

By disclosing this intention, did the minister not introduce a significant bias in the discussions? Had she not just told the automotive industry: It is not necessary to discuss everything at length, since I already support you and intend to introduce a bill. The minister showed her clear bias in favour of the automotive industry, which wants to get rid of MMT and all other additives. In that regard, I wonder what will happen to ethanol, a star additive for which the government has just launched a $70 million investment program.

If the automotive industry does not want any additives, why does the government want to develop this product? Is there not a flagrant inconsistency in the decision to ban an additive and the intention of developing a different one, when the automotive industry does not want any additives? Who can assure us that the automotive industry will not soon ask the government to ban

ethanol because of its negative effects on car parts and equipment? I think that prudence is called for in the development of ethanol.

Ethyl, the maker of this additive, has responded to the automotive industry's arguments on MMT with its own arguments, which seem quite valid. Let us have a look at them.

Removing MMT from gasoline would aggravate the urban smog problem by increasing nitrogen dioxide emissions by 20 per cent. According to Health Canada studies, MMT presents no notable danger to human health. Independent lab tests show that, contrary to statements made by auto industry officials, the MMT used in Canada is perfectly compatible with the new anti-pollution devices, including the OBD-II diagnostic system.

Again, according to Ethyl, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is about to reintroduce MMT in that country, following a decision made on April 14, 1995, by the U.S. Court of Appeal for the district of Columbia, which instructed the American agency to lift the MMT ban and allow its use in lead-free gasoline. The use of MMT at the refining stage results in fewer emissions of some pollutants. Replacing MMT will cost refineries about $100 million in capital costs, as well as tens of millions in operating costs.

These are the arguments put forth by the producer of MMT and the oil industry. Given all this, it is not easy to make a decision in favour of one party or the other. The arguments used by both sides seem valid. However, they are also hard to evaluate and verify.

These arguments give rise to a series of questions, and the answers to these questions are not obvious. This is why Bill C-94 generates so much ambivalence and reservations.

The first question we must ask ourselves, and this is very important, is whether or not the automobile industry will indeed go ahead and increase the cost of cars, reduce the guarantees provided, and disconnect the monitoring system and other anti-pollution devices as early as August 1996, if MMT is not removed from lead-free gas.

You can imagine the harmful effects of such a decision on Canadian consumers. That possibility is based on the position of auto manufacturers, who feel that the MMT clogs their systems and makes them less efficient. This malfunctioning of the anti-pollution systems is said to result in more pollutants being released, thus affecting air quality.

This is certainly not what we hope for, after making encouraging progress regarding exhaust emissions. According to a recent study sponsored by the Canadian Automobile Association, the new emission standards helped to significantly improve air quality. This study also showed that, over a distance of 1 kilometre, a 1970 car caused more pollution than twenty 1995 cars.

The credit for part of the progress made must go to the automotive industry. Through R and D, it has improved its pollution control devices. The industry knows everything there is to know about the devices installed on their products. So, if it tells us that MMT is bad for its systems, then, we must certainly agree with them or at least give them the benefit of the doubt.

But there is a snag. Ethyl Corporation indicates that some independent tests performed on cars have shown that MMT is not harmful to pollution control devices, despite what the automotive industry has said.

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States has recognized that the automobile industry's concerns over the fouling of the devices were groundless. So, what should we make of the allegations made by the motor vehicle manufacturers? To the question, does MMT make the pollution control devices defective, the answer, Madam Speaker, is not that obvious.

We should also ask ourselves the following question. Is MMT a pollutant in itself and will its elimination from gasoline sold in Canada increase smog in urban areas, as the Ethyl Corporation would have us believe? First of all, according to a Health Canada study, dated December 6, 1994, MMT does not have any adverse health effect. Second, experts say that there is no evidence that the elimination of MMT from gasoline would increase urban smog. It seems that, in Canada, conditions contributing to urban smog, including sunshine and temperature, are not combined often enough for the elimination of MMT to cause an increase in this phenomenon.

According to Ethyl, MMT reduces by 20 per cent nitrous oxide emissions that contribute to the formation of smog. But here, in Canada, it is not clear that increased nitrous oxide emissions meet the necessary conditions to contribute to the formation of urban smog.

If MMT is so effective in reducing smog, why is it banned in large American cities where smog is much more of a problem than in Canadian cities? I think we should ask ourselves this question. Why would the United States ban a product that would be beneficial?

On the issue of increased nitrous oxide emissions, it seems that, thanks to a more sophisticated system, 1996 car models will help further reduce exhaust gas emissions, which, according to some people, would compensate largely for the increased

nitrous oxide emissions caused by the elimination of MMT, but this has yet to be proven.

It must be noted that all these arguments are put forward by the concerned parties. Therefore, it is not easy to make a fair evaluation of them since it is in the best interest of the parties to present them to us in a favourable light.

I mentioned earlier that urban smog is not a problem in Canadian cities, but the temperatures we have had these past few days certainly prove me wrong. Because of the heat wave, there has been a smog advisory in effect in Toronto for the last two days. The Montreal area has also been suffering from an increase in air pollution. The present situation in these two large cities is certainly food for thought.

If it were true that MMT reduces nitrous oxide emissions by 20 per cent, what would be the air pollution level in these large cities if this additive was not present in gasoline?

If Ethyl's argument turns out to be right, can we knowingly and legally allow the quality of the air we breathe to be adversely affected? Another important question is whether the Environmental Protection Agency is going to reintroduce MMT into gasoline in the United States in the very near future, as Ethyl claims? Preliminary indications are that the EPA may indeed allow MMT back on the market. In fact, the United States court of appeal for the District of Columbia has issued a mandate ordering the EPA to grant a waiver permitting the use of MMT.

However, certain sources tell us that concrete action is still far off and that, for a number of years now, Ethyl has been returning regularly to the charge with the EPA. Until now, Ethyl's demands were always turned down. This time, however, it seems that the chances are much better. Ethyl conducted a battery of tests on a significant number of automobiles and met the EPA requirements. According to Ethyl, the tests carried out prove that MMT does not clog the spark plugs, catalytic converters, or exhaust gas oxygen probes, nor is it dangerous to public health. It will be interesting to see where our neighbours to the south go with this issue.

The impact on the petroleum industry raises another important question. According to this industry, removing MMT from their unleaded gas will result in relatively high conversion costs. Furthermore, the industry claims that MMT is a good additive which is easily mixed with gas and is making no bones about its support for the additive.

Therefore, if we do away with MMT, what kind of additive will take its place? This is another interesting avenue of inquiry to consider. If we drop MMT, a very good additive according to the oil industry, we will have to replace it with something else. Currently, it appears that the Liberal government favours ethanol as the replacement. We know, in fact, that a big plant is being built in Chatham, in southern Ontario. This plant, which will be built in two phases at a cost of $270 million, would have a production capacity of 300 million litres of ethanol from corn annually.

It would appear that this construction project is just waiting for the go ahead from Treasury Board. An article which appeared in the London Free Press on June 14 clearly said the following: ``The paperwork sealing the federal government's ethanol policy, essential for the construction of a massive ethanol plant here, is expected to be signed imminently''.

There you have it. The ethanol plant in Chatham is waiting for federal assistance. But is this plant which will produce ethanol, an additive, connected in any way to the bill prohibiting MMT, another additive? Is the government favouring ethanol produced from corn grown in Ontario, the very red Liberal province in this Parliament? Please note that producing ethanol from corn is financially and ecologically costly. The government is cutting taxes associated with ethanol and is considerably reducing the production capacity of our land, all the while increasing pollution, given the fertilizers and pesticides used to grow corn. It is therefore most desirable that the Liberals make the right choice when opting for ethanol.

After thoroughly analyzing all of the arguments regarding MMT and all of the related issues, it is clear that we have to shed more light on the whole issue. I firmly believe that all hon. members who are evaluating this bill need more information, more details from all of the parties concerned and also from all concerned parties who have no stake in the issue. We would then be in a better position to weigh the pros and the cons. At this stage in the debate, despite everything, we look favourably upon this bill. However, we have many serious reservations which will have to be laid to rest when the bill is studied in committee.

In concluding, I would like to add, after having spoken to the hon. member for Davenport, that it is imperative that the chairman of the committee, assisted by his clerk make every effort to hear as many witnesses as possible, whether they are for or against the bill, and to give us enough time with them so that we can really find out what the best solution is from the environmental point of view.

Should we use MMT? Should we ban MMT? Should we use ethanol? Should we concentrate on another product? We need clarification. I ask that we be given enough time to meet all the witnesses concerned.

From what I have heard, it seems we will proceed with third reading very soon. I do not think we will be ready to start third reading unless we have shed some light on these issues and until we are really convinced that banning MMT in Canada-the United States may do so six months from now-is the right decision and that we are not merely putting the oil companies or

other businesses to additional expense just to pass a bill that looks good to the public.

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Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order to inquire whether you are permitting questions and comments.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

The first three speakers will have a maximum of 40 minutes with no questions and comments.

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Paul Forseth New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, balance is needed and I hope this is what I can represent as I respond to the government on Bill C-94.

It is amazing how quickly the bill got to this stage. I take it the environment minister feels this bill is more important than Bill C-83, an act to amend the Auditor General Act, which was a red book promise. I suppose large companies like General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are not pushing to pass a bill that would create a commissioner to the auditor general's office like Bill C-83 would do.

Every Canadian knows of the power of the big three auto manufacturers. What they want they seem to get from the minister. In this case they wanted the help of the minister to ban the octane enhancer MMT from Canadian gasoline, and help is exactly what they got.

When the minister held her press conference on May 19 she said that the data the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association presented to her clearly convinced her that MMT was bad for automobiles and for Canadians. She did not comment on the evidence presented to her by Ethyl Corporation. When the minister was asked to comment on that she simply stated that she did not need to see Ethyl's data because what the MVMA presented was correct and there was no refuting it. Essentially what the minister was saying was that Ethyl's data was wrong and the data from the MVMA was correct, but she would not fully admit it.

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

As members of the House and more important as representatives of all Canadians, it is important that we weigh and pursue every available option to come up with an accurate conclusion before we create any legislation. The Liberal government calls itself responsible but I ask what is really meant by the term responsible in view of Bill C-94. In these technical matters it certainly does not hurt to demonstrate and then legislate.

Some important questions should be asked on the banning of this substance. First, was the evidence brought forward based on accurate data and was it performed by independent testers? Second, who paid for the evaluators and who are they accountable to? Third, what will be the cost implications to consumers both in financial and in environmental terms? I think it is who pays is at the bottom of the government's capitulation to the MVMA lobby.

I want to deal with how the minister came to the decision to ban MMT. Apparently on September 12 last year representatives from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler met with the minister to discuss the banning of MMT.

They told her that if MMT was still in gasoline in August 1995, a time when all new model cars were released, they would do one of maybe three things. First they would raise the price of each automobile by about $3,000. Second they would void sections of their cars warranties and/or close down some high tech Canadian manufacturing facilities.

The minister got spooked in a big way. This was the big three as well as a few other importer tag-alongs telling her what to do. They threatened to close up automotive plants and most of the plants are located not too far from her constituency of Hamilton East and certainly in southwestern Ontario.

The political decision apparently was not too difficult: ban MMT. About a month following the meeting the minister told a reporter that unless the fuel industry moved MMT from its products voluntarily the government was going to impose a ban.

The MVMA could not have been happier: no more dealing with Ethyl and let the federal government work the whole thing out for itself. There was no need for a third party to come in to do testing. Negotiations and industry collaboration went out the window. This is where the minister failed.

There are two sides to the issue and she picked the one that seemed politically friendly. The decision was not based on science. It was based on short term political interest and money, certainly not because there would be any gains for the environment.

Both the MVMA and Ethyl have conducted tests. Both had apparent credible statistics and yet they were contrary to each other. Both sides were adamant that the tests they had brought forward were accurate. I am not a scientist and the environment minister has admitted the same in her background. I have seen the detailed test data and the chemical charts and tables. I am not going to stand here today to convince with a technical argument. All I am trying to do is to provide a reasonable solution like any responsible environment minister would do.

The solution should have been, and for that matter still can be, an independent third party series of tests to determine if MMT actually causes a problem to onboard diagnostic systems in cars. Certainly MMT is not hazardous to our environment as it greatly reduces knocks. Both sides were close to coming to a decision. Both sides were about to approve a third party evaluation. Ford

Motor Company recently did a test with MMT flavoured gasoline to see how it would affect its onboard diagnostic systems.

The minister has been touting the MVMA to be the expert and most accurate in its data collection. Ford conducted an in house fleet test composed of twenty 1994 Thunderbirds. Ten went to Toronto and were driven for about 50,000 miles of city driving. Five went to Florida and five to Nevada. Similar to the testing in Toronto, the ten U.S. cars were also driven about 50,000 miles each and were also kept to city driving. In the interim report Ford asserted that catalyst monitoring ratios generated by the OBD-II system in the vehicles were different in Canada and the U.S. mainly because of MMT.

Ford claims that this was the only difference between Canadian and U.S. vehicles. The U.S. EPA, on the other hand, concluded "it is difficult to distinguish small losses in catalyst activity" using existing OBT technology. The smallest change in emissions which is technologically feasible to detect for current production vehicles equipped with the OBD-II system is a hydrocarbon emission increase or decrease of about .4 grams per mile. Ford tests show an HE emission of only .02 grams per mile. Apparently Ford has not released any data that would verify if the OBD-II systems actually have the ability to measure such small changes in emission performance.

The testing that Ford did was in three very distinct areas: Toronto, Florida and Nevada. We are all aware that the composition of fuel will vary from region to region. With data provided by the National Institute for Petroleum and Energy Research, the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute and Environment Canada, basic differences in the gasoline between the three test sites were rather considerable.

Let us use for example summer gasoline in Toronto. The amount of sulphur in parts per million is about 400 and the percentage of ether is about zero per cent. On the other hand in U.S. gasoline sulphur content is about 248 parts per million in Florida and about 80 parts per million in the west southwest. As for ether, in Florida it is 1.8 per cent and in the west southwest it is 1.6 per cent.

The reason for my explanation of these data is to show that test parameters can vary significantly from city to city.

Why did Ford use these two U.S. cities to conduct its testing when it knew full well of the differences in the composition of gasoline? As politicians we are all very familiar with polls and the use of polls. One poll says this and another poll says something else. If one wants a polling company to get a favourable answer it is possible to do so by the way one words the questions.

I would assume the same was also true for the way testing was done on MMT. On one side Ethyl wanted to see tests which showed that MMT was not responsible for malfunctions with the onboard diagnostic systems in cars. On the other side the MVMA wanted to prove how MMT was hurting or interfering with its systems. Essentially each party got the results it wanted. How accurate are the tests and what are the implications for public policy?

The bill bans MMT in Canada. The way I read it there is no reference to Nevada or Florida in the bill, if the minister wants to believe the data provided to her of tests that were not even performed in this country on comparable fuels.

Some proponents of the bill will ask me for a better way of doing the tests. I can only think of one logical way. The ban is in Canada. Take cars and pair them up. Choose independent locations across the country. Use two cars in each location. In one car use gasoline added with MMT and in the other car use the same type of gasoline without the addition of MMT. Drive each car for the same distance and over the same terrain and in the same climate. For instance, if one of the two cars is driven in the city, the same should apply to the other. A wide variety of car models should be used in varied Canadian climates and conditions. This would seem to be the only available solution.

When people are charged with crimes and they know in their hearts they are innocent, they agree to any test, any independent investigation, lie detectors, DNA and so on. They are confident and therefore they have nothing to be afraid of, nothing to hide.

Since the beginning the Ethyl Corporation has wanted to settle the entire dispute using a comprehensive series of industry wide, third party tests. It was confident in the outcome. The same was not true for the MVMA. As soon as there was a hint that the minister would back it up all future talks were cancelled. Now it balks at the idea of independent testing. I guess its lobbying paid off.

Early last week the United States Court of Appeals issued a mandate ordering the EPA to grant a waiver to permit the use of MMT in unleaded gasoline in the U.S. The court found that MMT does not cause or contribute to the failure of any emission control device or system. It evaluated the evidence placed before it. I realize this does not mean that MMT will be in U.S. gasoline tomorrow but it does mean one large step closer.

Ethyl Corporation still has a hearing before the same court in September of this year to confirm final registration of MMT, which would then allow for the sale of the additive. It is interesting to note that in the above decision by the appeals court

neither the auto industry nor the Environmental Protection Agency appealed the court decision. Why? There was likely no grounds for appeal.

On Friday I received material from the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute that has been following the issue with great interest. The CPPI official who was in attendance in Washington for the decision stated:

EPA officials made it clear that, assuming Ethyl does win, the burden of proof for any future attempts to have MMT banned will shift from Ethyl to the auto makers. This is leading the auto makers in the U.S. to all of a sudden start talking about a joint testing program. This is what CPPI has been proposing for the last two years in Canada and what the auto makers have continually refused to support.

Maybe the auto manufacturers' lobbyists are not so confident of their position.

Even before Bill C-94 was introduced Reformers asked the environment minister to conduct independent tests. She has adamantly refused. Somehow the minister at least could have facilitated it. The MVMA knew it had the inside track with the minister. All it had to do was stall with Ethyl.

In the early stages I think the minister believed the U.S. courts would maybe side with the EPA. The bill will become the environment minister's legacy. There is a good chance that the bill will pass through the House about the same time that the U.S. begins using MMT in its gasoline again. What will the minister do then? Will she stick to her legislation and continue with the ban or will she flip-flop or succumb to some international pressure?

The industry minister has also said on numerous occasions that the key to banning MMT in Canada is to create a uniformity of standards between the U.S. and Canada so costs to the auto makers rather than environmental concerns are behind this move. According to this statement Canada will go back and forth like a lost puppy or maybe a lapdog.

The minister introduced this legislation with hopes it would get quick passage before the summer. She is on a deadline set by the MVMA. The 1996 cars were about to be shipped and they wanted to ship them with the OBD-II systems all hooked up.

It is clear now the bill will not get through all stages. The bill will wait until the fall to be reopened for debate. Even if the bill is passed before the end of the year manufacturers will have already shipped their cars. The 1996 cars will not have gone up in price and the warranties will not have been reduced, since all the warranty manuals will already have been printed and shipped with the cars. This is a perfect opportunity for the environment minister since she knows the passage of the bill is irrelevant to the timing of production for the 1996 cars.

It was once said the Liberal philosophy holds that enduring governments must be accountable to someone besides themselves, that a government responsible only to its own conscience is not for long tolerable. This is befitting of the government which occupies the benches today; to whom is it accountable?

Before the government goes through with this legislation I draw to its attention some of the information I have come across during the last several weeks. I raise it for the sake of discussion.

On several occasions the minister stated in the House and at the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development that if we do not curb global warming much of Prince Edward Island will be completely under water. The minister has stated that if action is not taken immediately thousands upon thousands of jobs could be lost.

I still have a lot of questions on the whole issue of global warming in relation to greenhouse gases, as do many Canadians. In the reading I have done on the topic lately I have discovered that according to scientists the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides, NOx.

Since we are dealing specifically with MMT we should concentrate on the NOx emissions. I do not believe anyone will deny that the additive MMT does reduce NOx emissions. However, I suppose the only argument may come as to how much NOx emissions are reduced with MMT in gasoline. It may also be important to point out that at the 1988 international treaty Canada committed itself to freezing NOx emissions at the 1988 level. This was all part of Environment Canada's NOx VOC2 management plan.

Since the minister's own department feels it is necessary to reduce these emissions it would be important for us to better understand how much MMT actually reduces NOx emissions and helps the environment.

This past June a month long cleaner air campaign was launched in Toronto after results showed the outrageous levels of smog in certain Canadian centres. The campaign was put together by pollution probe and included some major sponsors: Canadian Tire Corporation, Consumers Gas, Petro-Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Environment Canada, to name a few.

B.C.'s lower mainland, where I come from, parts of New Brunswick and the Windsor-Quebec corridor were found to be the three worst areas in the country for smog pollution. The people of Hamilton East, part of the Windsor-Quebec corridor, need to know their member of Parliament, who happens to be the Minister of the Environment, is banning a substance which would help to reduce urban smog. The minister needs to be

accountable to the well-being of Canada's environment. She should also be accountable to those who elected her to office.

Ethyl Canada claims that removing MMT from Canadian gasoline would increase NOx emission levels by up to 20 per cent. The CPPI has added to this and made the claim that removing MMT would be the equivalent of adding over a million cars to Canadian roads. Those are pretty substantial numbers for the environment.

On the other hand, Environment Canada did its own testing on MMT and found that removing it from gasoline would increase NOx emissions by only 5 per cent; again, two evaluations, two substantially different numbers. Which one is correct?

I want to look at how Environment Canada came to its conclusion of 5 per cent. Environment Canada used an EPA NOx benefit of .08 grams per mile, based on John Holly's 1994 analysis of all Ethyl and Ford testing data. Therefore the .08 grams per mile was divided by the average of summer and winter predicted emissions for a typical Canadian gasoline without MMT.

I point out something very important. John Holly's analysis is based on MMT testing data for late model passenger cars only, with vehicles accruing no more than 75,000 miles. Again Environment Canada is taking data based on U.S. gasoline which has completely different properties, most of which will affect NOx emissions. This was something I explained earlier when I referred to the testing done by the MVMA. We are relatively clear that our gasoline is different than that in the U.S. and that this would no doubt skew the results.

I am not a technical expert and so reading scientific data and making interpretations could only be general in nature. When we look at some of the ways MMT was tested it is clear there are many intervening factors and uncontrolled variables, the number one factor being the type of gasoline used in each of the tests.

Each side has an argument about what the other side did wrong, how its test design was inadequate or how unwarranted conclusions were made from the available evidence. I am sure if we were to bring both the MVMA and Ethyl together to debate their individual cases each would have no problem finding fault with each other's data and making circular arguments.

I now bring another player into this whole debate. All we have heard about so far are the auto makers and Ethyl. However, another key component to the equation is the refineries. Studies show the removal of MMT would significantly add to refinery costs for reformulating gasoline and increase the cost of the refining processes.

Refineries are required to achieve cleaner burning fuels but removal of MMT will cause refineries to increase refinery emissions and consume a greater amount of fuel which would require an expensive retrofitting process.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment and Resource Management stated in a May 1995 letter to Environment Canada:

We are also concerned with the impact this decision will have on Consumers' Co-Operative Refineries Limited in Regina. CCRL has Advised us that refining costs will increase in the order of $500,000 annually if MMT is banned. We have difficulty rationalizing this cost with no identifiable benefit to air quality by this action.

This is a dollar amount from only one refinery. If we take into account other refineries the number would be extremely high. In the recent Kilborn study, which I understand the environment department has still not released, it is estimated the cost to refiners of replacing MMT in Canada would be approximately $100,000 million in capital and tens of millions of dollars for operating. Perhaps the minister will release this report as soon as possible so all Canadians can see the real cost of the implication of this legislation.

The Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, which represents the majority of the petroleum refining and marketing industry in Canada in the same way that the MVMA represents the Canadian Automobile Manufacturers, states:

The MMT controversy is a technical issue between the auto industry and the petroleum industry that should be decided on the basis of science-The CPPI has repeatedly offered to participate in either a joint testing program or an independent scientific evaluation program, and to abide by the results, but all offers have been rebuffed.

Why should they when there is the appearance that the minister is in the pocket of the MVMA?

I learned on Friday that the American Automobile Manufacturers' Association is considering doing third party testing. Apparently the recent decision by the U.S. court of appeals has made it think twice. The Minister of the Environment should put an immediate stop to her legislation and let the key players work this out among themselves. I do not believe anyone would consider the Minister of the Environment a key player. Putting it simply, she appears to be an all too willing politician at the behest of the MVMA.

I want to point out to the minister there is still time left before she may become rather embarrassed. If all goes well for Ethyl the United States may have MMT included in its gasoline by the fall. If the minister decides to scrap the bill in the fall, she will appear as the minister who has been hasty and not on top of her responsibility to protect the public interest rather than the interest of those who contribute to her election campaigns. There will be no way of making amends at that time.

My suggestion is for the government to scrap this legislation and begin immediately with independent third party testing. The Reform Party would support the minister if she decided to do this and would support subsequent government regulations when science so indicates.

It is time for the minister to be wise. However if the minister continues the stubborn course and proceeds with Bill C-94 we will have no choice but to oppose this legislation.

If the bill passes second reading the House standing committee must hear witnesses and provide a public forum for the scientific evidence to be displayed, not inside arguments made within ministries but out in the open. The merits of the bill must stand on their own. The bill must not be rammed through to respond to the government's friends and against available scientific evidence.

Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act
Government Orders

9:25 p.m.


Ovid Jackson Bruce—Grey, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate tonight but I am dismayed with what I heard from the Reform Party and from the BQ. The fact they are not supporting our current producers of ethanol is very sad.

Both members accused our minister of not doing a proper job. I will probably clarify a lot of incorrect inferences they made about our minister. I will speak to the BQ critic of the environment from Laurentides. Are any cars produced in Quebec?

She talked about the lack of consistency with ethanol. Ethanol is a hydrocarbon. Petroleum comes from the Latin word petra, which means rock, and oleum, oil. These substances are extracted from the ground and cracked in refineries. My colleagues from the west would know all about that since they produce energy.

It has been said that one gallon of gasoline could actually take an automobile 460 miles if all the energy were utilized during that combustion process. We are moving closer to that kind of situation as on board diagnostic equipment kicks in, knowing how much fuel is coming in, exactly how to time the spark and exactly how to control the combustion in the engine.

With reference to ethanol discussed by the member for Laurentides, she was confusing an octane enhancer with a fuel. The member accused the Minister of the Environment of not acting in the best interest of the environment, which is exactly the opposite of what the minister is doing. The minister is protecting the environment. She is actually protecting customers. She is protecting humans from contaminants.

Contaminants from automobiles in places like Los Angeles, California, which is in a valley, are noticeable when there is a temperature inversion that causes photochemical smog. Photochemical smog is caused by an interaction of NOx gases from automobile tailpipes and certain atmospheric conditions with some sunlight.

If members opposite want to ask me a question I will be glad to answer any and all, including technical questions. I would be glad to tell them how a car works or exactly what the banning of MMT means.

I will explain to the House why we are taking action against MMT. It is a manganese based fuel additive used to increase the octane rating of gasoline. It has been used in Canada since 1977 as a replacement for lead in unleaded gasolines. The lead was phased out in virtually all Canadian gasoline engines by 1990. Octane rating is a unit of measurement established by the automative industry to determine the antiknock quality of a fuel.

When we talk about compression ratios in race cars it may be up to 10:1 or 11:1. In diesels it is about 20:1. In a diesel the air is compressed until it gets extremely hot, about 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, then fuel is introduced into that engine. In an automotive engine a spark plug is used to ignite fuel. In the case of a high compression engine the fuel becomes very unstable and will self-ignite.

If a car engine continues to run after the ignition has been turned off, it is called dieseling. The reason it diesels is that maybe a spark other than the gasoline in the combustion chamber triggers it and allows it to run. It becomes very unpredictable. In order to stop the unpredictability an octane enhancer is used. That is partially what an octane enhancer does.

Who uses MMT? Just about every Canadian motorist does because Canadian refineries use it. The exact amount of MMT used may vary depending on the batch of gasoline. However, premium grade gasolines generally contain a higher dosage than regular grade gasoline. Canada is the only country that uses MMT. The United States for example banned it from unleaded gasoline in 1978.

The automobile industry is convinced that gasoline containing MMT adversely impacts the operation of sophisticated on board diagnostic systems. These OBD systems are important because they monitor the performance of emission control components in vehicles.

The automotive 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 and may reduce Canadian vehicle warranty coverage starting in the 1996 model year if MMT continues to be used in Canadian gasoline.

The cost of maintaining these systems are to be passed directly on to Canadian consumers. This is where the federal government comes in. Last October the Minister of the Environment urged both industries to voluntarily resolve the issue of MMT in Canada by the end of 1994 otherwise the government would take action. This deadline was subsequently extended into February of this year to review the automobile petroleum industry proposals.

The matter was not resolved so the federal government had to step in. This action is Bill C-94. The MMT issue is no longer an industry dispute. Its outcome can affect the vehicle emission programs we are putting into place. In the long term it could also negatively impact the automotive sector.

Successful resolution of the MMT issue will ensure that the environmental benefits are realized through the use of the most advanced emission control technologies. It will ensure that Canadians are offered the same warranty coverage as in the United States and will ensure that Canadian motor vehicle emissions control programs do not diverge from those in the United States.

This means that Canadians continue to benefit from the cost and technological advances in North American harmonized fleets. It means good news to Canadians and jobs for Canadians in the Canadian automotive sector. That is because diverging emission standards and differing anti-pollution equipment on Canadian cars will negatively impact the marketplace and decrease the competitiveness of the automotive sector.

We would also be faced with a situation where cars built in Canada that go south of the border could have more advanced equipment than those sold in Canada with better pollution controls on them giving better atmospheric conditions. That clearly is not acceptable.

Let us be clear about the economic impact of removing MMT. It will be small for the entire petroleum industry. Estimates for the cost of MMT removal provided by the industry range from $50 million to $83 million per year. Yes, it costs a little bit of money to clean up the environment. It means an additional .1 or .24 cents per litre increase at the pump. I may add that the on board diagnostic equipment gives better mileage so that may not necessarily affect the car. In fact the car may give better mileage because the systems are designed to do that.

Permit me now to take a few moments to explain some key highlights of the bill. Bill C-94 would prohibit the import or interprovincial trade for a commercial purpose of MMT or anything containing MMT. It will give the minister the power to authorize exceptions for MMT that would not be used in unleaded gasoline, subject to the monitoring requirement.

Coverage of the act can be expanded by an order in council to cover other manganese based substances. The act is binding on all persons and entities, including the federal and provincial governments. The enforcement tools are similar to the ones in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

The penalties are strict. For the unauthorized import or interprovincial trade of MMT, the maximum penalty on summary conviction is a $300,000 fine and/or six months in jail and on indictment the maximum fine is $1 million and/or three years in jail. For knowingly providing false or misleading information on the importation or interprovincial trade of MMT, the penalties are the same but with a maximum of five years in jail instead of three on indictment. On conviction, as in the CEPA, a court can also order an additional fine equal to the monetary benefits resulting from the offence, prohibit conduct that may lead to a repeat offence and direct the offender to notify third parties about the contravention.

That gives members of the House an idea of what the government is proposing in Bill C-94. What does all this mean to our constituents?

I do not mind saying that I come from one of the most beautiful parts of Canada, the riding of Bruce-Grey. Thousands of others have said they enjoy driving up to beautiful Georgian Bay and visiting Owen Sound, Wiarton, Hanover, Walkerton, Flesherton or going across to South Baymouth on the Chi-cheemaun throughout the year. As happy as we are with the tourism that our region attracts, we are also very concerned with the toll increasing motor traffic is having on the fragile environment.

The people of Bruce-Grey want the government and the industry to take all necessary measures to make sure the thousands and thousands of cars and trucks that travel our highways and roads are operating as cleanly as possible. They want us to make sure that increased tourism and increased vehicular activity does not lead to an increase in environmental degradation. In Bruce-Grey we want to protect all we have, not just for our children but for their children, our economy and future generations of Canadian visitors.

The views and concerns of my constituents are no different from those expressed by other Canadians in all parts of Canada. Canadians expect us to do what we can to preserve the environment. They also expect us to protect jobs, consumers and Canadian automotive technology. That is what Bill C-94 does.

I would be glad and willing to answer any questions. There are no dumb questions on this subject because I know we are right to protect the environment. We are protecting our plants and animals. We are providing jobs in a sector that is extremely important to us and we are protecting the environment. We are protecting the air we breathe.

In California weather forecasting they talk about temperature inversions and harmful emissions from automobiles. In many forecasts people are told to stay off the streets because they could

actually suffer from eye irritation. This will not happen here if we allow these new technologies to be fed into the computer.

Just to recap, when we go into our modern cars and turn on the ignition we have these on board diagnostic systems that function. We have exhaust gas recirculation and a charcoal container that captures the hydrocarbons. At a gas station when someone puts the hose in the gas tank and drops of gas fall out, that is hydrocarbon emission. In the old cars there was a vent so they had to put in charcoal to stop it from getting into the atmosphere. They have PCV valves. They have catalytic converters. A catalyst is a device that will change the substances so we can manipulate what comes out of the tailpipe.

We are trying to protect the environment with the best technologies possible. We are trying to protect Canadian jobs. That is what the minister is trying to do.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, 1995
Government Orders

9:35 p.m.



Alfonso Gagliano Secretary of State (Parliamentary Affairs) and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wish to give notice that with respect to the consideration of Senate amendments stage of Bill C-69, an act to provide for the establishment of electoral boundaries commissions and the readjustment of electoral boundaries, at the next sitting of the House I shall move, pursuant to Standing Order 57, that the debate be not further adjourned.

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 managese based substances, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives Act
Government Orders

June 19th, 1995 / 9:40 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Comox—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, the member gave a very eloquent dialogue on MMT. He based most of his discussion on the environmental aspects of MMT and said that it was banned in the United States.

Last week the United States district court of appeals issued its mandate ordering the Environmental Protection Agency to grant a waiver to permit the use of MMT in unleaded gas in the United States because it is clearly not an environmental hazard. What does the member for Bruce-Grey have to say about that?