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House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was israel.

Topics

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Liberal Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

He is a Liberal.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

He is a Liberal. Absolutely

The hon. member asked a question of the member opposite, why would all of these automotive manufacturers put forward a situation where MMT is bad for their onboard diagnostic systems? We are talking about over 20 automotive manufacturers that are in competition with each other. They have spent millions of dollars conducting scientific tests. Why would they spend this money in a fiercely competitive market if they were not going after the truth?

I want to add a few more truths about Bill C-29 to refute some of the untruths coming from the other side. The truth is that MMT impairs emission control equipment. If you want information on the formulation of fuel you should consult a refinery expert. If you want to understand the impact of that fuel on a vehicle you need to talk to the engineers and scientists who design and test vehicles.

Everyone agrees that more than 80 per cent of the manganese that is added to gasoline stays in the automobile's engine and emissions control system. Guess what happens when it stays there? It gums up the works. It makes those systems inoperable. When those systems do not operate it makes it impossible to monitor all of the other emissions from that automobile.

The member opposite in his speech spoke of the cost to consumers. Taking MMT out of gasoline will result in a $5 cost to the consumer for a year versus thousands and thousands of dollars of cost to their automobile. That is why the Canadian Automobile Association, which is the largest consumer group for the automobile drivers in Canada, is right behind this bill.

Another truth is that if MMT was really as great as the corporation that produces it claims for vehicle performance and emission control, it would have been embraced by the automotive manufacturers in jurisdictions like California as part of their emission control standard. MMT is banned in California. If anyone in the House has been to California you know the kinds of problems it has with smog.

The organizations that have been held accountable for achieving measures for emissions reductions have worked with leading academics, scientists and engineers around the world to find a way to reduce the pollution from vehicles. No jurisdiction or corporation has found MMT to be part of the solution.

The truth is that Canada is the only jurisdiction in the developed world in which MMT is used on a national basis. In spite of the recent narrow technical decision of a U.S. court that forced the Environmental Protection Agency to grant Ethyl a waiver, MMT is still prohibited for use in over one-third of the U.S. states. A number of refineries do not allow MMT as part of their reformulation program.

There is another truth which I would like to use to debunk opinions expressed by members of the House. The Government of Canada has the authority under NAFTA to pass legislation like Bill C-29. I guess the members opposite are running like scared little chickens, afraid of this giant American multinational company. They are afraid to promote their sovereignty. I find it very interesting when we hear a lot of debate about sovereignty in this House.

NAFTA has a safeguard that allows us to protect human, animal or plant life and health. This safeguard was enshrined in NAFTA to allow the federal government the ability to protect the environment and the health of Canadians without fear of having these efforts blocked by frivolous trade actions like the one recently announced.

I have another truth. It is that the U.S. wants to ban MMT as badly as Canada. The proposed challenge being brought by the corporation is a private challenge against Bill C-29. This is a clear signal that its position is not supported by the American government. The American government has not hestitated to launch complaints under NAFTA in the past but in this case the U.S. EPA has taken a leadership role, which is what the Government of Canada is doing in opposing the use of this fuel additive.

Carol Browner who is the head of the EPA in the United States said earlier this year, and I would like to say this loudly, clearly and perhaps slowly so that it might sink into the member's opposite, that the EPA, believes that the American public should not be used as a laboratory to test the safety of MMT.

I applaud the efforts of the government which makes a similar stand. Canadians will not be a testing ground for MMT. Would you like me to repeat that? Canadians will not be-

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I ask the hon. member to please sit down. I appreciate the hon. member is not the only one who does this but the hon. member will please not have a you and I discussion across the floor. I ask that she please address all of her remarks to the Chair.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is just that I have such an incredible passion about this particular issue and I have such a lack of understanding why the opposite side is not getting it.

Health Canada confirmed in July 1996 that it fully supports the proposed ban on MMT. A ban on MMT is also supported by the public health departments of the cities of Toronto and North York. These and other communities are all too familiar with the health problems associated with poor air quality and are anxious to see MMT banned. Very little is known about the long term health effects of chronic low level exposure to manganese compounds that are formed when MMT is used as an additive in gasoline.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, the suggestion that we are caving in to one lobby group is totally absurd. When we look at the equation, who is standing on the side of the public interest? On one side are the Bloc and the Reform that have caved in to the lobbying efforts of a single American multinational which I might add fought against the removal of lead in gasoline.

On the other side, the side that is speaking for the public interest, for the health of Canadians, for the environmental protection of Canadians are organizations like the Allergy Asthma Information Association, the Canadian Automobile Association, which is the largest consumer group for Canadians automobile drivers, the Canadian Institute of Child Health, the Council of Canadians, the Environmental Defence Fund, the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, the Ontario Public Health Association, Pollution Probe and the Sierra Club of Canada.

I believe I have made my case very clearly and I look forward to a quick resolution of the amendment and the bill.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I listen to the comments on MMT it occurs to me that just about the time the Liberals are getting around to banning it, the United States lifted the ban about a year ago. I wonder why the Liberals are trying to play catch-up on this now.

A consequence of eliminating MMT as an additive is a 20 per cent increase in nitrous oxide emissions, which is the smog we are trying to avoid in our cities. What the member said does not make a lot of sense. I wonder what her comment would be in the light of these two facts.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member had the misfortune not to hear my speech. I will endeavour to speak a little more slowly.

With respect to the member's first question, in my speech I clearly stated that the case which went before the U.S. Supreme Court was lost on technical grounds. The EPA is going ahead. I also said that Carol Browner, who is head of the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, said that the American public should not be used as a laboratory to test the safety of MMT. I further said that California, along with 16 other U.S. states, has banned MMT. Most of the refineries in the United States are not using MMT. They refuse to use MMT.

With respect to the final question of the hon. member opposite, the information that he has relayed to the House comes from a study undertaken by the corporation responsible for the production of MMT and, might I add, the only corporation in the entire world which produces MMT. This information came from the study. This was a study which the University of Waterloo, an internationally renowned institution, debunked.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Liberal Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want ask a question of the parliamentary secretary. The member from the third party spoke about nitrous oxide, manganese oxide, et cetera. There is another additive that we could put into gasoline. It is called alcohol. When alcohol is put together with gasoline it is called ethanol. We are not putting a refinery out of business. It could mix that too.

In Ontario we will create a new domestic market for corn producers, consisting of 15 million bushels, with the ethanol plant which will come on line next year. Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions can be lowered. The problem of the onboard diagnostic sensors which the automotive dealers are worried about can be solved. More than that, there is a byproduct of this. It is called brewer's grain. Brewer's grain has had enzymes which have acted upon it. It is highly digestible. It can be fed to cattle, dairy cows and pigs. There is a byproduct from it called fertilizer. Some of the amendments the third party is talking about reflect the byproduct that comes from bulls. That can go into the ground. Crops can be raised from that. There is absolutely no pollution from it at all. It is totally green biomass. I would like the parliamentary secretary to comment on that.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, as always, my hon. colleague has an interesting way of addressing some very complex problems.

One of the things that has been raised in this House, especially by members opposite, is that this will only help the Ontario corn industry. I would suggest that not only ethanol can be used as a replacement for MMT. There are many other substances.

The members from the Bloc forget that there is an ethanol producing organization in Quebec which manufacturers ethanol from wood products.

There are many different opportunities. There are refinery operations in the province of Alberta, the province that many Reform members come from.

When we are talking about banning MMT and replacing it, we are talking about a variety of substances being used in ways that all parts of this country can benefit instead of giving all of the money to an American firm.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

An hon. member

It is good for health.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

It is good for health.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Resuming debate, with apologies to the member for Mississauga South, unless there is unanimous consent to extend the time.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have been scheduled to speak on this issue for some time now. I was kind enough to give my space in the order to a Bloc member who had to

catch a plane. I would appreciate some time to speak on this issue before the time expires.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Accordingly, there is not unanimous consent to extend the time of the parliamentary secretary.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want some clarification from the Chair as to the extension of time. Private Members' Business is set for 5.30 p.m. and certainly we have no difficulty at all in extending it briefly but obviously we do want to get on with the motion.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member. The time has been extended because of a ministerial statement to 5.42 p.m.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is important for me to speak on this issue again because of the way the Liberal members are using the facts of this issue so loosely. We have talked about a number of them. Over and over they have talked about the ethanol issue.

I have been involved in this issue from the very beginning. I listened to the evidence before the committees. We were told time and time again by the refinery people that ethanol is not a substitute for MMT in gasoline. So that is a straw man they are putting up. It is an entirely irrelevant issue; it has no relevance here.

We are talking about who is in the pockets of whom. The member Essex-Windsor talked about the importance of the Canadian automobile industry and that it produces 465,000 jobs and 7 per cent of Canada's GDP and all the rest of it. I do not see how that is relevant in this debate unless that member is lobbying on behalf of the automotive industry.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. With due respect, when a member names another member and indicates that they are in the pockets of somebody else, indicates that somehow they are getting some benefit, that is to impute motive and bring disrespect to a fellow colleague in the House.

I resent that and I ask the member to withdraw the comment.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

If members had to sit up here they would appreciate that sometimes comments that are made are very disturbing. I wonder, in the interest of collegiality if the member would be prepared to reconsider and word that matter differently.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to withdraw the accusation if those on that side withdraw exactly the same accusation that was made against this party.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I did not rule it to be unparliamentary. In light of what the member has said, I will rule that what has been said is not unparliamentary and I will allow the member to continue.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Certainly I have no problem with the member for Essex-Windsor defending the interests of the automotive industry because they are, after all, her constituents. Coming from a constituency that has considerable oil and gas development, I would also speak on behalf of those people.

However, one condition I would put, speaking on their behalf, is that they would produce credible evidence for me to back up their case. I sat in committee and listened to the evidence and only a moron would have believed the evidence to be credible. They told us that this substance in fact fouled the spark-plugs of cars. They did not even have the decency to produce the evidence on two spark-plugs that were the same make and model. The Liberals sat there and swallowed that rubbish like it was the truth.

I listened, met and talked to both sides on this issue, the car manufacturers, the refiners and Ethyl Corporation, which is more than the Liberals were willing to do, I might add. After all this debate and in committee Ethyl Corporation told the members that it wanted to be reasonable and fair on this issue and that if the Liberals would just allow a non-partisan study where all the interest groups had a chance to partake in the protocol on this study and that the evidence was impartial and undeniable, it would voluntarily withdraw the product from the market. How can anyone be more reasonable than that? I suggest they cannot.

I think the hypocrisy that floats around this issue is unbelievable. The member for York-Simcoe, who spoke yesterday, stood in the House during statements and said: "Nations around the world agree that human interventions create conditions that cause global warming and climate change. We all share in the negative economic and social consequences".

That same day in the afternoon the member for Elgin-Norfolk said: "I would like to congratulate the city of Chatham and the company, Commercial Alcohols, for the recent announcement of the construction of a new $153 million ethanol production facility". We kind of get an idea of what is going on here. We cannot have it both ways.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

An hon. member

That smell is getting pretty bad.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

You are darn right, and it is not the fermenting corn that smells either.

The facts surrounding the ethanol business relating to MMT simply are not a rational argument because ethanol does not and will not replace MMT. I think anyone who looks at the argument would agree.

I am running short of time so I am jumping around here a little bit. I would also like to quote from the Halifax Sunday Daily News when Premier Savage of Nova Scotia said that he could not support this bill because the supporting of this bill would necessitate the closing of the Imperial Oil refinery in his province.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

An hon. member

That is garbage.

The Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

That is right here.

The fact is the automotive industry is trying to get rid of MMT to cover a deficiency in the technology it is required to bring forward. In spite of the fact that MMT has been banned for 20 years in the United States, the OBD-II technology has the same failure rate in the U.S. as it does in Canada where MMT is in the gasoline. The problem is that the automotive industry had to get exemptions from those standards in order to licence the OBD-II technology in its cars because they are not reliable. The technology is not developed to the degree it needs to be and it cannot meet the standards. It needed a bogeyman to blame that on so it chose MMT. And that is the plain and simple reason why this issue is before us now.

The evidence is there. This issue has been studied more than any other gasoline additive issue in history. It went before the courts in the United States twice and Ethyl Corporation won the cases both times. There is no scientifically verifiable evidence to show that MMT does foul the OBD-II equipment. It simply is not there.

We have heard time and time again the horror stories about manganese destroying human brain cells and all the rest of it. The Liberals' own health minister studied this product very thoroughly and in spite of all we have heard, Health Canada says there is no detrimental effect to the health of Canadians by the addition of MMT to gasoline in Canada.

Again, these strawmen keep popping up everywhere to cover this weakness of the evidence involved. I got across everything I needed to.