House of Commons Hansard #226 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mmt.


Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario


Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

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.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

We will not allow anti-pollution equipment in Canada to be less effective than anti-pollution equipment in the United States. We will not allow the competitiveness of our automobile industry to be threatened. We will not allow investment and the thousands of Canadian jobs which depend on that investment to be put in jeopardy.

Properly resolving the MMT question will have positive effects on the environment through the use of the most sophisticated emission control techniques. Moreover, Canadians will enjoy the same guarantee as American automobile owners. Resolving the MMT problem will guarantee that Canadian automobile emission control programs are in line with American programs. This means that Canadians will continue to enjoy the economic and technical benefits of having a standardized North American automobile population.

It also means that the Canadian automobile sector, whether in Quebec or Ontario, will remain competitive.

Let us be clear. The job of reducing motor vehicle pollution can no longer be addressed just by an industry, whether it be the automobile industry, the petroleum industry or the government. Progress at reducing vehicle pollution demands action by every single Canadian.

The petroleum industry needs to move forward in making improvements in the composition and properties of the fuels burned by those engines. The auto industry needs to make improvements in vehicle emission control technologies such as those offered through on board diagnostic systems.

As for the government, it must act to reduce pollution from vehicles. This is the sort of action we have begun with Bill C-94, the sort of action we take when we establish a global automobile emission control strategy, which includes more rigorous standards on vehicle exhaust systems.

In meeting these standards, we are counting on sophisticated emission control techniques and the fuels they require. We need new technology. We must reduce smog and carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions. We have to reduce this type of emission, which have a significant negative effect on the quality of the air and on the greenhouse effect on the climate. This government takes its responsibilities seriously in the area of climatic change.

It is a fact that temperatures increase when carbon emissions increase. It is a fact that carbon dioxide has reached concentrations that are 25 per cent higher than at any time in the 220,000 years of

atmospheric history. It is a fact that the average global temperature today is four to six degrees higher than during the last ice age.

The member of the legislature from Prince Edward Island who is in the gallery today will no doubt be aware of the profound impact of what the failure to address climate change will have on our coastal regions, including the lower mainland of British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. It is a fact that if we fail to take action average global temperatures will rise another 1.5 to 4.5 degrees within the next 50 years.

In other words, our children could confront the kind of global warming which triggered the end of the ice age. They could face the kind of global warming that causes sea levels to rise, that dries forests, that desertifies farmland, that wipes out communities and in some cases that wipes out entire countries.

Climate change is not like other environmental problems. Action after the fact is not an option. If we wait for the problem to overwhelm us, if we ignore the scientific evidence that is coming in harder, faster and stronger than ever before, it will be too late. With climate change preventive action is the key. Preventive action means producing goods more cleanly. It means having access to cleaner automobiles. It means using less energy through the likes of onboard diagnostic systems which can warn us when the systems are malfuctioning and when in fact our conversion is not as efficient as it should be. It means using less energy. It means conserving our natural resources and developing and implementing the latest in green technologies like the emission reduction technologies in today's cars and trucks.

The bill before the House is one small measure in the battle for a better environment. The bill is pro-environment. It is pro-consumer and it is pro-jobs. Eighteen of Canada's automobile companies think we are doing the right thing. Canadians think we are doing the right thing.

MMT can no longer stand in the way of progress that we continue to make on reducing vehicle emissions in the face of the continuing need for environmental protection.

Let us protect Canadian jobs. Let us protect Canadian investment in high technology. Let us protect the pocketbooks of Canadian consumers. Let us above all protect the air that we breath. Let us make Canada the last country in the world to finally to put an end to the use of MMT in unleaded gasoline.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the Deputy Prime Minister's commitment to the environment and what she professes to say. I would like to point out a few facts which she omitted from her speech.

If we were to withdraw MMT from gasoline the nitrous oxide content of the environment would increase by 20 per cent which is a very important additive to smog, a causative agent for smog.

The Deputy Prime Minister brings forward a whole host of studies. Every one of those studies was done by an auto manufacturer. I would also like to tell the Deputy Prime Minister that the EPA just came out with studies which show that MMT does not do anything to damage onboard devices.

I ask the Deputy Prime Minister how she can account for removing MMT from gasoline if the nitrous oxide content coming from cars is going to increase by 20 per cent. Also, is she going to commit to having an independent party review MMT to determine once and for all if it is going to damage onboard computers and also if it is going to harm people?

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the preamble to his question the member implies that somehow these 18 automobile companies have an interest in destroying the market for MMT. The only studies I have seen in support of MMT are coming out very thick and fast from the company that imports the product, the same company that I am sure supplied the figures to the member that talks about the level of environmental contribution made by MMT.

If he wants to put it in context, the abolition of MMT will create a situation where air emissions can improve by up to 600 per cent specifically because it will permit the onboard diagnostic systems of new cars to work. The presence of MMT will not help the environment. The presence of MMT will hurt the environment.

Companies such as Toyota, Ford, GM and Saab are companies that are in competition with each other for a market. They are not in collusion. For some bizarre reason 18 automobile companies both domestically producing and importing cars have all done independent studies which have identified a single variable between the Canadian and the U.S. gasoline which contributes to the failure rate of onboard diagnostic systems. That single variable is MMT. Those same companies have provided the department with studies that show the failure rate for Canadian spark plugs is 17 times higher than in the United States.

Should a consumer in the lower mainland of British Columbia have to change his spark plugs 17 times? Mr. Speaker, if you buy the rather weak argument of the Ethyl Corporation that this is such a fantastically great product, why would the Ethyl Corporation not accede to the demand of the government that it offer the consumers a choice? Why would the CPPI producers not arrive at a gas station and let people have the choice? If this is such a fantastic product why not let the consumers decide? Why did the company refuse my offer made to them in person to have only one pump in gas stations

across the country which would be MMT free? If this is such a great product why is Canada the only country in the world that currently authorizes its use?

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta


Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate some of the remarks the hon. Deputy Prime Minister has made. I wonder if the Deputy Prime Minister would be willing to table some of the studies she has quoted from today, referenced and held physically in the presence of this assembly. Would she be willing to table those for our use and examination?

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, those studies were shared. As the hon. member will know, when companies test their automobiles it is a very confidential matter. As I gave my word, the companies in question actually met with CPPI in a private meeting organized through my department where they could individually review all of those studies.

Unfortunately CPPI broke the agreement of secrecy and those studies ended up being passed to other individuals. It was a breach of the confidentiality that every automobile company expects to have in terms of its own testing of vehicles.

I can provide him with analyses of the material that went before the CPPI. I can provide him with some general views from the industry. I cannot provide the individual studies because when they were provided to CPPI through an agreement with my office they subsequently found their way into the public domain.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of the Environment for her efforts today.

I believe the bill in front of us does receive the support of the majority of members of the House of Commons. I congratulate the minister for bringing it forward. At the same time, as she knows, a lot of what she says about the environment and fuel, about the need to be proactive and moving ahead into the future, can also be done through the support of ethanol based fuel additives.

Many in western Canada are engaged in ethanol development projects as a way of not only assisting the environment but also of assisting in regions which require assistance with economic development. I am wondering if in the course of her remarks today the minister might indicate her support and commitment for ethanol based fuel additives and what she can do for western Canadians.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we introduced legislation which will require 75 per cent of all new federal government vehicles to be run on alternative fuels it was in part to try to accelerate the market. The federal government currently has an annual fleet of about 25,000 cars. If we factor in the number of cars in crown corporations there are 39,000 cars that are on the road as a result of federal government activities. We are mandating that 75 per cent of those cars be fuelled by alternative fuels within the next five years.

We think that will provide the kind of niche market which will hopefully be a catalyst for further development in the area of alternative fuels by the private sector. We have not in a sense mandated a particular kind of fuel, but certainly ethanol is an alternative and particularly is one which can be mixed into current vehicle emissions. It is a very positive alternative.

We have tried to build market demand for consumer moves to alternative fuels in a very large way which will help a rather fledgling industry. As the hon. member will know, ethanol can currently be mixed at a 10 per cent ratio. Any further conversions will be good for renewable resources and an alternative for the current growth in global warming.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be able to debate this issue, particularly after having had the summer months to do research and become more familiar with this topic.

I was quite flabbergasted when I heard the Minister of the Environment in her impassioned speech. I could not help but think that the passion was little more than the political puppet dancing when the strings are pulled by the masters of the power brokers in the country.

It is my understanding that the bill has come before the House today because the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association claimed that MMT was setting off the warning lights on onboard diagnostic systems when nothing was really wrong with the systems. I understand the association basically told the minister that she had to ban MMT in Canada or it would disconnect the onboard diagnostic systems on cars headed for Canada, or it would increase the cars' warranty costs or shorten the warranty period. The MVMA also claims that MMT has caused the misfiring of certain sparkplugs.

I fail to understand, in view of how extensively this topic has been studied, particularly in the United States where the product has been banned for 18 years and will again be available for use before the end of the year, why the minister has accepted without question the position of the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association.

Furthermore, I understand that the proponents of the bill claim that banning MMT will lower pollution and health risks to human beings. There have also been numerous claims in favour of banning MMT, such as the need for uniformity in gasolines in the North American market. I would like to address all of these points briefly in my presentation to the House today but most important I wish to show how the ban on MMT could be detrimental to the Canadian market.

Let me say before I get into my presentation that I and numerous other members of my caucus have met with both sides of this argument a number of times, the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association and Ethyl Corporation, which is more than I can say

for what the minister has done. She has consistently refused to meet with both sides of the argument and has only met with the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association. I hardly think one can form a balanced view of the issue without meeting and listening to both sides of the argument.

After having done so, I firmly believe that there is no health, environmental or technical reason for banning MMT in Canada. MMT has been used in Canada since 1977. It was used in the United States until 1970 and was banned in 1970 due to a U.S. clean air act establishing a process requiring new fuel additives not substantially similar to gasoline to obtain a waiver by demonstrating compatibility with vehicle emission systems.

The company that manufactures MMT, Ethyl Corporation, undertook an extensive fuel additive testing program which resulted in the Environmental Protection Agency's conclusion in December 1993 that MMT will not cause or contribute to the failure of any emission control device or system.

Contrary to the minister's statement of May 5, 1995, the U.S. court of appeal ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to grant waiver approval to Ethyl Corporation on April 14, 1995. The minister was fully informed of this decision.

In December 1993 following a large fuel additive testing program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that the use of MMT will not cause or contribute to the failure of any emission control device or system, including onboard diagnostic systems. The Environmental Protection Agency and subsequently the U.S. court of appeal rejected concerns about the impact of MMT on onboard diagnostic systems presented by U.S. automakers.

The U.S. automakers have experienced significant difficulties in the certification of onboard diagnostic systems in the United States where MMT is not currently used in unleaded gasolines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board have recently changed the regulations to allow for certification of vehicles that do not comply with the OBD-II requirements.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated in the federal register that automobile manufacturers have expressed and demonstrated difficulty in complying with every aspect of the onboard diagnostic requirements and such difficulty appears likely to continue into the 1996-97 model year.

In Canada the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association appears to be blaming the OBD-II system difficulties on MMT. The Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association members have lobbied the Canadian government threatening to disconnect onboard diagnostic warning systems and pass the cost on to consumers unless the government passes legislation to ban MMT.

The Canadian government appears to have responded to these threats without noting that the vehicle manufacturers have failed to achieve OBD-II certification in the U.S. for most new models.

Furthermore, I would like to know if this minister can explain her statement that if vehicle manufacturers carry through on threats to remove onboard diagnostic systems this would result in a tenfold increase in vehicle emissions. This false claim shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the technical issues involved and underlies the need for independent technical assessment of the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association claims.

Onboard diagnostic systems do not reduce emissions on vehicles. Onboard diagnostic systems are a monitoring system designed to notify the driver when emission control equipment is not operating properly. Removal or more likely disconnecting the onboard diagnostic systems would only serve to prevent a dashboard malfunction indicator light from illuminating. No emission control equipment would be removed.

On the sparkplug issue that the minister makes much of, the Minister of the Environment cited the claims to help justify her proposal for the legislation to remove MMT. However, she failed to point out that the automakers' claims related primarily to one type of platinum tipped sparkplug used primarily on one engine version only in GM automobiles. The sparkplug in question was discontinued by GM indicating that problems were related to design, not MMT.

No casual links have ever been established between MMT and sparkplug problems. To my knowledge no warranty data has ever been made public.

I have learned that to further assess the validity of GM's concerns independent testing was conducted at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, using the platinum tipped, long life sparkplugs used in all 1994 2.2-litre Chevrolet Cavaliers. The goal of the study initiated with General Motors Corporation in the U.S. was to determine the differences between new sparkplugs, failed sparkplugs and sparkplugs used which have had no problem.

The sparkplugs were fired by a power supply which increased output to the plugs in a ramped manner. Current leakage up until the plugs fired was measured. Movies were taken to document whether arcs occurred between electrodes or from electrode to shell.

The sparkplug test program showed that MMT is not associated with reported sparkplug related problems. To satisfy the U.S. clean air act requirements for the reintroduction of MMT in unleaded gasolines in the United States, Ethyl Corporation informed me that

it had conducted the most extensive series of tests ever undertaken on a gasoline additive.

The testing program was designed with the assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. automakers to evaluate and document the effective MMT performance additive on automobile tailpipe emissions and to determine the implications for air quality if MMT additives were used in the U.S. gasoline.

The initial MMT emissions test program involved 48 cars representing a broad cross-section of automobiles driven in North America operated for a total of more than three million miles. Half of the 1988 cars used the test fuel with the additive and half used the same fuel without the additive.

Tailpipe emissions were checked every 5,000 miles. Testing demonstrated conclusively that MMT decreases nitrous oxide by approximately 20 per cent. As a note, the EPA participated in determining the test protocols. Also, independent testing data analysis organizations used procedures similar to those used by the Environmental Protection Agency.

On the issue of health, I would like to address the concerns with MMT. On December 6, 1994 Health Canada released the results of an independent risk assessment focusing on new epidemiological studies and Canadian exposure data titled "Risk Assessment for the Combustion Products of MMT in Gasoline".

The Health Canada study concluded that the use of MMT in gasoline does not represent a health risk to any segment of the Canadian population. Specifically the report states: "Airborne manganese resulting from the combustion of MMT in gasoline powered vehicles is not entering the Canadian environment in quantities or under conditions that may constitute a health risk". The study also concluded that there is no connection between levels of ambient respirable manganese and MMT sales or use in unleaded gasoline whether examined by geographical area or by season.

Back on April 25, 1995 the hon. Minister of Industry stated that it is crucial that we have uniformity in standards of gasoline in the North American market. The hon. Minister of Industry was referring to the fact that at the time MMT was not used in the U.S.A. but was in Canada and it was important to have the same gasoline-

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Of course the hon. member will have the floor right after question period. It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

New Brunswick ElectionStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Liberal Party of New Brunswick and Premier Frank McKenna for a decisive victory at the polls on September 11. The citizens of New Brunswick have reaffirmed their commitment to the provincial government's vision of job creation growth.

The former official opposition party, the Confederation of Regions, is a party that opposes bilingualism both in Canada and in New Brunswick. It is important to note that it was completely shut out of the legislative assembly. In my own riding, five core MLAs were defeated and only one finished second. This sends a message to the people of New Brunswick that both linguistic communities are an integral part of our province and our country. I applaud the citizens of Fredericton and of New Brunswick for asserting their vision of an equitable and tolerant society.

I once again congratulate the Liberal Party and Mr. McKenna on their victory.

Social Program ReformStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, students will hold rallies throughout Quebec to protest against the federal government's cuts to social programs and its intransigent attitude toward the Quebec National Assembly's unanimous and legitimate demands.

The budget cuts made by the federal government will have a disastrous impact on the provinces' tax burden, which the Prime Minister is loath to admit. His government's cuts to social transfers have left the provinces and the students with no way out. These cuts are forcing the provinces to impose an unprecedented hike in tuition fees, on the one hand, and to increase student indebtedness to unmanageable levels, on the other hand.

Given all the secretiveness and tricks used to hide the consequences of his reforms, how can Quebecers trust the Prime Minister of Canada?

Capital PunishmentStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, since 1970 in the U.K. 89 per cent of Conservative MPs and about 81 per

cent of Labour MPs have voted at least once against the orders of the whip. This free voting has resulted in the defeat of some unpopular government bills but it has never caused the fall of the government. MPs in the U.K. have gained the courage to stand up and represent their constituents because the benefits of doing so far outweigh the disadvantages of punishment by the whip.

On Wednesday the House will debate my motion that asks the government to hold a binding referendum on capital punishment at the time of the next election. I will be asking members to make the motion votable and to subsequently support the motion so that the people who pay our salaries can have their say on this important issue.

Let us show our constituents that we are prepared to represent them and to do so in the interests of real democracy.

Crow Benefit Compensation ProgramStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture needs to reconsider at least one decision he and his department have made about the Crow benefit compensation program.

Farmers on the prairies and particularly in northwest Saskatchewan who grew forage crops in 1994 in rotation with their grains have been declared ineligible for compensation on those land acres seeded for forage. All summer long I received calls and letters from producers caught in this unfair situation. Most recently I have been receiving letters from individual rural municipalities asking that this unfair situation be changed because forage acres will see the same reduction in land values as cultivated acres.

Prior to the decision being made, the Minister of Agriculture said he consulted with the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities and valued its opinion. I hope he continues to value its opinion and will now reconsider so that producers who are managing their lands properly will not be unduly penalized by this unfortunate and unfair circumstance.

Canadian Country Music AwardsStatements By Members

September 19th, 1995 / 1:55 p.m.


Peter Thalheimer Liberal Timmins—Chapleau, ON

Mr. Speaker, Shania Twain, one of many famous musicians from my riding of Timmins-Chapleau, was enormously successful in last night's Canadian Country Music Awards. Among other awards, Shania won female vocalist and album of the year.

Shania worked hard to get where she is today and continues to work hard. No doubt Shania is the fastest rising country music star. She thanked her home town of Timmins in one of her many appearances at the podium to receive awards.

In return, I would like to thank Shania and her family, friends, teachers and neighbours, who can all take great pride in her achievement last night. I would also like to congratulate all nominees in the awards. Showcases of such Canadian talent make me proud not only to be from Timmins but from Canada.

I ask all members to join me in congratulating Shania and the other Canadian nominees.

The Late Walter Albert TobinStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Bonnie Hickey Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, a funeral was held yesterday for a distinguished Newfoundlander who passed away on Friday. Mr. Walter Albert Tobin, 97 years old, was the last survivor of the first world war Battle of Beaumont Hamel.

Mr. Tobin was only 17 years old when he enlisted in the army. He had no way of knowing then that on July 1, 1916, his Royal Newfoundland Regiment would be virtually wiped out at Beaumont Hamel. Over 300 people died or went missing; 386 were wounded. The next morning only 68 men were able to answer the roll call. Mr. Tobin was one of them. Although wounded, he received medical attention and then returned to the battlefield.

I recently spoke with Mr. Tobin at a veterans ceremony in St. John's and I was indeed honoured to meet a man of such courage and stature.

There are fewer than 2,300 first world war veterans living today. As we mourn the passing of Mr. Tobin we would do well to listen and learn from their experience and their wisdom. We should seize the opportunity to tell these men and women how grateful we are and how proud we are of their service to our country.

Land MinesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Jane Stewart Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently returned from Cambodia and subsequently from the Second World Parliamentarian Conference in support of the United Nations, which was held in Gifu, Japan.

I would like to again draw the attention of the Chamber to the important issue of land mines. Despite real progress in Cambodia toward political and economic sustainability, the people in the rural northwest are still subject to the aftermath of the war with the Khmer Rouge. I saw internally displaced people who cannot go home because their fields are mined. There is still a steady stream of men and women and children into the hospitals with seriously disabling injuries as a result of land mine accidents. We know that the de-mining activities are going to take generations to complete because the process is so painstakingly slow.

At Gifu, the world's parliamentarians voted unanimously to work aggressively toward a ban on the manufacture, deployment and use of land mines. I would ask the members of the House to please consider doing the same.

Quebec ReferendumStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Glen McKinnon Liberal Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians, including the residents of my riding, are concerned about the Quebec referendum. In their view, now is the time for all Canadians to speak about the advantages of Canada. Now is the time for calm and competent leadership by all elected people who care about our country.

Everyone seems to understand that except for the Reform Party. I am saddened and disappointed with the irresponsible behaviour of that party. Rather than speaking up for Canada, the Reform Party appears to be interested in contributing to the success of the separatists.

Whose side are the Reformers taking? Do they secretly want a yes vote? If they want a vote for Canada, as all federalists do, I hope they will show the kind of positive leadership that will help the people of Quebec choose Canada.

The residents of Brandon-Souris and I are happy to have the sound and sensible leadership of the Prime Minister to defend the interests of Canada, not the irresponsible exploitations of the Reform Party.

Member For Brome-MissisquoiStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians had yet another opportunity to see how ignorant some federalists are when they heard the comments made yesterday in this House by the hon. member for Brome-Missisquoi.

The commercial against drugs made by the Matane local community service centre and broadcasted by Radio-Canada in eastern Quebec was withdrawn because it failed to disclose the name of the advertiser as required by CBC regulations.

After the correction was made, the message went back on the air and is still being broadcasted. It is obvious that the hon. member for Brome-Missisquoi is totally misinformed. He would have been better off not saying anything about a matter he was not familiar with.

Saying No to drugs is a wise decision, especially at a time when we are getting ready to say Yes to our future.

CultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, last Friday the heritage minister gave what he claimed would be a visionary speech on the future of Canadian culture. To be kind, we will just say it fell somewhat short of its billing.

The speech was really a little temper tantrum replete with contradictions and embarrassing pleas for respect from the big bad Americans. The sub-theme of the speech was: "It is not our fault; we are all victims".

In the face of worldwide competition the Canadian cultural industry needs to take full advantage of American capital markets. We need competition. We need international partnerships. We need new markets. Subsidization and protectionism will only produce trade wars, feeble and inefficient companies, and the loss of the choice and value that Canadians deserve.

Yes, change sometimes can be frightening, but the minister should quit his whining and stand out of the way. Even while he spoke and with no help from the government, individuals and private sector Canadian companies were charting new ground in introducing Canadian culture to the world and the 21st century.

John And Jesse DavidsonStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow two special constituents, their families, friends, supporters, and hopefully many in this Chamber will walk the final kilometres of a courageous journey.

Jesse's journey started on May 20 when John Davidson began pushing his son Jesse across Ontario to raise awareness and funds for gene research. Jesse is 15 years old and is confined to a wheelchair, afflicted with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Together they have seen the faces, hearts and beauty of our province and its people. It was a humbling experience for those who have shared some road time in these past months with John and Jesse.

Medical research has gained from this 3,300-kilometre walk. To date, funds donated are in excess of $700,000. I believe though that for John and Jesse the summer of 1995 has been more a testament to the love and the caring of the Davidson family.

Congratulations. Félicitations et bravo.

Quebec ReferendumStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is surprised to see that the public is questioning the validity of the referendum process.

Essentially, this resistance has to do with the three separatist leaders deciding not to honour their promise to make the question clear and simple.

Does the leader of the Bloc Quebecois remember making a speech on October 19, 1994, in which he said that Quebecers would be asked a simple question that would go something like this: Do you want Quebec to become a sovereign country, yes or no?

Instead of fulfilling this promise, the Bloc leader decided to do precisely what he had condemned by asking a question so subtle and that it makes no sense and is ridiculous, to use his own words.

Quebec ReferendumStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister stated that he may or may not recognize the Quebec referendum depending on its results. If the No side wins, the answer is clear, but if the Yes side wins, he would consider holding a federal referendum. This new concept involving various levels of democracy is shocking and must be denounced by anyone who believes in democracy.

Mrs. Lysianne Gagnon was quoted in La Presse as saying that Mr. Parizeau has reason to be proud because he kept his promises; he had promised to ask a clear question and that is what he did.

It is obvious that the Prime Minister is out of touch with reality in Quebec. Even Quebec federalists recognize the validity of the referendum results. But such faulty reasoning is hardly surprising coming from the very man who masterminded the 1982 show of force and killed the Meech Lake accord.

Standing CommitteesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are only so many chances for a Liberal backbencher to make a decision that will affect the direction and tone of the parliamentary session. They face one of those chances now with the opportunity to elect leaders to the House of Commons standing committees.

Last year backbenchers followed the dictates of their whip and handed over the vice-chairmanship of every committee to the Bloc Quebecois. If they once again reward Bloc members with each and every vice-chair position, backbenchers will be rewarding people who are determined to tear the country apart. However, if they choose instead to allow Her Majesty's only real and national opposition, the Reform Party, to have a fair share of the committee work, they can send a message to all citizens that the House is determined to cultivate leaders from every province and region who want to participate in building a new and united Canada.

It is up to the backbenchers. Are they going to take orders from the whip or are they going to do what is right?