Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to this issue again. I listened to the members from the opposite side and I am absolutely amazed at the blatant untruths that are being spewed forth from members opposite. I have studied this issue very carefully and there is simply no independent evidence to support the statements we have just heard being made.
There is all sorts of evidence to support exactly the opposite. The Canadian Department of Health did studies and concluded there was absolutely no detrimental effect to the health of Canadians or anyone else by using MMT. That is simply factual evidence. The government continues to spew forth studies from the Canadian Automobile Association which it refuses to release to the public and so we can neither deny nor verify them. It is simply not true.
I fail to understand what is really driving the agenda. We heard some comments about the ethanol industry and how we should give the industry a leg up, which I suppose means subsidization of an industry that cannot compete on an equal playing field. We certainly do not support that kind of initiative. If the ethanol industry can exist viably without taxpayer subsidization then good for it. We wish the industry all the luck.
In speaking with the refiners in Canada that refine and formulate our gasolines, they assure me that even if MMT were banned ethanol would not replace MMT as a gasoline additive. The only thing banning MMT would do would force refiners to be more intensive in their refining process, to use more crude oil, to refine it further, causing higher CO2 emissions, higher benzene emissions and higher sulphur emissions. Again those facts simply do not back up what is being said.
There was some debate when I spoke the other day on this matter about whether the minister had met with Ethyl Corporation, the other side of the issue. I specifically said she has consistently refused to meet with both sides of the issue to discuss it and to listen to all the facts. After having spoken on it and after having had the debate with members opposite I checked to make sure I was correct. The Canadian Petroleum Products Institute wrote to me. It also wrote to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment. The letter reads:
I listened with interest to the second reading debate on Bill C-94 and while I do not agree with your position in this matter, I appreciate your interest in this subject. I would, however, like to address one issue you raised with the member from Athabasca, Mr. David Chatters, during the question and comment period following his speech.
Mr. Chatters quite correctly pointed out that Minister Copps has refused to meet with representatives of Ethyl. In reply, you stated twice that the minister met twice with CPPI as a representative of Ethyl, on this issue.
I want to be completely clear on this point. The Canadian Petroleum Products Institute does not now, nor has it ever, spoken on behalf of Ethyl Canada or Ethyl Corporation. Ethyl is not a member of CPPI, as membership is limited to producers and marketers of motor gasoline.
Representatives of Ethyl have met once with the minister's staff and have met on a few occasions with departmental officials. We have asked for, and been refused a meeting with the minister.
I would ask that you correct this statement at your earliest opportunity.
Clearly there is a lot of confusion, a lot of misinformation and a lot of untruth surrounding the issue. The government repeatedly claims to promote the reduction of interprovincial trade barriers and to promote trade between the provinces. On the issue the minister of the environment for Alberta said: "It is unclear that the removal of MMT from gasoline has a net environmental benefit. Alberta favours the design of a suitable binding process to resolve the dispute in a fair and timely fashion. An open multi-stakeholder review of the environmental and economic merits of MMT should be key to the dispute resolution mechanism to credibly solve the vehicle fuel compatibility issue".
I have a letter from Michael Shaw, deputy minister of the environment and resource management for Saskatchewan, to Mel Cappe, deputy minister of Environment Canada, which reads:
The Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association has not convinced Saskatchewan and the majority of the provinces that there is any evidence to show that MMT has an adverse effect on the onboard diagnostic systems.
We are also concerned with the impact this decision has on the 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 benefits to air quality by this action.
I have a letter from the minister of the environment for Nova Scotia, Wayne Adams, which reads:
We have recently expressed concerns to the federal Minister of the Environment's stated intention to legislate a ban on the use of this additive.
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has established a task force on cleaner vehicles and fuels. The mandate of this task group includes the development of options for setting minimum standards for reformulated fuels as a measure to improve air quality. The assessment will be done in such a way as to provide a national approach and the continued use of MMT in Canada will undoubtedly be one of the issues reviewed. The results of an independent study and the benefits and detriments of MMT would undoubtedly be considered.
David Wilson, the provincial minister of the environment for New Brunswick, said: "It seems there are two opposing views on the value of MMT to the environment. Perhaps an independent review is warranted".
Norman Brandson, Manitoba's deputy minister of the environment, said:
The potential negative impacts or positive benefits arising from the continued use of MMT as an additive to unleaded fuels seems to be an issue that includes comprehension of significant technical information. There needs to be a resolution that will be in the best interests of the environment and the consumer, for both the short and long term.
It would be much preferred that this issue could be resolved directly between the industries involved (the manufacturer of vehicles and those providing the fuels for those vehicles).
I would hardly deem that as support for the initiative from the provinces.
Again we go back to the statements that are being made on the issue continually from the opposite side of the House. Again I reiterate that I cannot understand what is driving the agenda because the evidence is so clear and indisputably against what the government has been saying on the issue.
The Minister of the Environment said:
Some companies have indicated that, rather than accept the possibility of increased warranty repair costs, they may disconnect OBDs or reduce vehicle warranty coverage unless steps are taken to remove MMT from unleaded gasolines in Canada.
That simply is not a valid statement. In blaming MMT for the onboard diagnostic problems the automakers have not disclosed that the automobile industry has experienced substantial technical difficulties in complying with the onboard diagnostic II requirements in the U.S. where MMT is not currently being used and has not been used for 18 years. It is not MMT that is causing problems with the onboard diagnostic equipment. It is simply that the technology has not been perfected and developed to the point where it is reliable.
Another statement by the minister reads that removing MMT "will ensure that the most up to date equipment used to reduce air pollution with will not be jeopardized by components in the fuel".
That comes from the Environment Canada news release on May 19, 1995 and is simply not true. The automakers are blaming MMT for onboard diagnostic problems with certification that I spoke about before. The government has blindly accepted that argument without any studies or without any facts, or at least without any independent studies of the auto making industry.
The next statement reads: "The automobile industry is convinced that MMT has an adverse effect on the operation of vehicle emission control components including sophisticated onboard diagnostic systems". That statement is also from an Environment Canada news release May 19, 1995. It continues: "The automobile manufacturers have failed to demonstrate any adverse effects related to MMT and have not disclosed onboard II certification problems in the U.S. Most of the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association information on onboard computers has been previously rejected by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. court of appeals".
Before the end of the year MMT will again be used in the United States, which would mean that if we are to achieve formulation compatibility between the two countries, as was the wish of the Minister of Industry, we would then be required to leave MMT in the formulation rather than remove it.
If one cares to look at the evidence-and it does not seem to be very important in the debate that is taking place-there simply is no strong independent evidence that MMT has caused any of the problems we spoke about.
It is very important that we step back, take another look and do some independent studies in the time we have before the product is again released in the U.S. to verify this argument one way or the other. That is a reasonable request and one based on the evidence before us.