Mr. Speaker, if the federal government is given the opportunity to protect jobs, save the environment, protect consumers, and keep Canada on the leading edge of automotive technology, should we take it? You bet. You bet that we will seize a chance to support technology that helps us improve fuel economy and meet our climate change objectives. You bet that we are going to do everything we can to reduce air pollution and smog. That is
why we have taken action to remove MMT from Canadian unleaded gasoline, and that is why I am happy to stand today in support of Bill C-94, the manganese based fuel additives act.
This bill will prohibit the importation of and interprovincial trade in MMT, a manganese-based fuel additive manufactured in the United States. The proposed bill will come into force sixty days after the day on which it is assented to. At the present time Canada is the only country in the world still using MMT in unleaded gasoline. Even in Bulgaris, studies have even been carried out, and it was decided not to use it. The USA banned it in 1968 from their unleaded gasoline. Bulgaria and Argentina are the only other countries showing any interest whatsoever in its use and, as I said, Bulgaria finally decided against it.
Why is MMT not used by more countries? Because it adversely affects the operation of the pollution control equipment in today's cars and trucks.
My department has received and reviewed study after study of the effects of MMT on this equipment. I have seen the studies myself: studies from Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Nissan, Mazda, Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Saab, Lada, Jaguar, Land Rover and Hyundai. They are separate studies, which all say the same thing: MMT adversely affects onboard diagnostic systems where pollution control equipment is found. These systems are extremely important for the environment.
One only has to travel in the lower mainland of British Columbia to know how we need strong legislation on vehicle emissions. MMT is preventing the kinds of clean emissions governments across this land are seeking.
These systems of onboard diagnostics are crucial for environmental gains. They are responsible for monitoring a vehicle's emission controls and for letting a driver know when an anti-pollution system is not working. They make sure that the cleaner burning engines coming off the production lines today operate as they are designed. They make sure that automobiles are properly maintained, resulting in decreased tail pipe emissions and improved fuel economy.
One only has to drive a new car off the lot to know that the models of this year and next year and the year after are substantially improved in terms of their emission levels, fuel economy, and anti-pollution devices. Those cars should be given a chance to work, not only in the best interests of their drivers, but particularly in the best interests of the lack of air pollution in our cities.
This is critical technology. It is technology that has to be given the chance to do its job. With the legislation we are making sure that modern anti-pollution technology can be put to work in Canadian cities, cities that were reeling last summer under the burden of smog caused by too many cars clogging the arteries of our nation's communities.
This government would not allow MMT to stop the Canadian automobile industry from designing far less polluting vehicles. Canada's environment and Canada's consumers are entitled to the best pollution control equipment possible.
The federal government had been waiting since 1985 for the automobile and petroleum industries to get together on a solution to this problem, which the government had already identified ten years ago. I made a personal appeal to the two industries to pool their efforts towards finding a solution. I even proposed to the MMT manufacturers that they give consumers the choice, that there be at least one pump without MMT, and they absolutely refused. They are not interested in what consumers want. They are not interested in anti-pollution matters. They are interested only in a polluting product imported from the United States, which is not even used there, because its use has been prohibited since 1978. But we have to allow it here. How can that be?
I want to repeat that, because I think it is important to this debate that the House understand we have waited 10 years for the importers of this product to get together with the automobile manufacturers to find a common solution. We are not interested in legislating solutions to all consumers' problems.
I offered in personal meetings with the importers of the particular product to have a solution where at least one gasoline pump per gas station was free of MMT. Give the consumer the choice. They refused. They categorically refused, even though there has been study after study after study. I believe at last count there 17 automobile companies either manufacturing or selling in Canada that have asked for gasoline free of MMT. Somehow there is this tremendous conspiracy inflicted on them by consumers.
Mr. Speaker, how do you think Canadian consumers feel about the fact that sparkplugs in Canada fail at 17 times greater rates than in the United States? Why? Why do you think the Toyota manual right now advises against using MMT gasoline? The new manuals will have disclaimers in them, that if you use MMT in your gasoline they may not be able to in fact guarantee your warranty. Why is it that automobile manufacturers in Canada have suggested that if we cannot move on MMT they may be forced to add up to
$3,000 to the cost of a new car in Canada, the same car they sell in the United States? The variable is MMT.
For some reason, despite direct offers by the Government of Canada for the importers of this product to find a replacement or a consumer alternative, they refuse again and again. Ten years of waiting for a solution is long enough. With the new requirements of automobile emissions pending, we have to move quickly. As we speak there are cars rolling off the assembly line dedicated to the 1996 market that do not have an onboard diagnostic system attached because at the moment the companies cannot be guaranteed that it is going to work as long as we have MMT in the gasoline.
Even then, I waited, I gave the companies a deadline of last December to resolve the problem. They could not do it. I waited until February, but for some reason, the companies importing ethyl could find no other way but to force it on all fuel levels.
Once again, we waited. Well, the ten year wait has gone on long enough. It is time now for the government to act on consumers' behalf, in support of anti-pollution technology and above all in support of the environment.
Without action our vehicle emission reduction programs will be put in jeopardy. We risk missing out on major reductions in smog, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
If we do not act now, Canadian consumers will be prevented from taking advantage of state of the art emission technology because they do not have access to MMT free gasoline. If we do not act now we will face the situation where automakers will turn off the diagnostic systems for the 1996 models because of the damage caused by MMT.
Right now General Motors is bringing cars off the assembly lines with on board diagnostic functions disconnected from the system. It is no longer prepared to assume the increased warranty risks for damage caused to pollution control equipment by MMT.
In the end it is the Canadian consumer, the Canadian taxpayer, the Canadian who drives a car who has to pay more. The maintenance of our cars is costing more because of the presence of MMT. We will not let this happen. We will not allow leading edge Canadian technology to be put at risk.
This substance is not manufactured in Canada but imported from the United States where it has been banned for almost 20 years. They can make it there but they cannot use it there so they use it in Canada, the last bastion of MMT. We will not allow the buck to be passed to Canadian consumers.