House of Commons Hansard #86 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.


The House resumed from October 10, consideration of the motion that Bill C-29, an act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances, be read the third time and passed; and of the amendment.

Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.


Rex Crawford Liberal Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to speak on a bill that I am confident will benefit every Canadian from coast to coast. I am especially honoured to speak on the bill as it directly affects my riding of Kent in Ontario. Next Friday will be the ground breaking day for a world class ethanol plant in Chatham, Ontario.

Alternative fuels are the wave of the future using corn as the base product. Ethanol is an environmentally friendly, cost efficient and job producing substance. It is my hope and belief that some day every vehicle in Canada will run on alternative fuels.

Speaking of the ethanol plant in Chatham, I would like to give a little history of how it came to be. Approximately four years ago I was approached by Doug MacKenzie of Commercial Alcohols to try and promote this to the federal government and get its backing.

Over the years we had a very busy time. We met with every minister and every potential minister at that time to try and sell this project for the county of Kent. Every Wednesday morning at caucus we would present different proposals to all the ministers. Every Wednesday morning it seemed as if I was approaching them with a summons. I showed up every Wednesday with an envelope for every minister which had information and articles on ethanol and how it would benefit the Canadian population.

There are 21 municipalities in Kent, not the riding of Kent but in the county of Kent, of which I had the fortune of being a past warden. All 21 municipalities sent in their support not only once but twice to every member of Parliament.

I remember one cold day in January, in fact I think it was the coldest day we had that year, the administrator of the city of Chatham and the administrator of the county arrived here to meet with the finance department. They were in their raincoats as they were used to the weather in southwestern Ontario which we refer to as the banana belt of Canada. We walked to the minister's office which is approximately five blocks from here and both gentlemen were completely frozen. They were not used to the weather in Ottawa. The administrators met twice in Ottawa with the finance department and the minister.

Over the year we had thousands of petitions from the riding of Kent supporting an ethanol plant in Chatham. Really they were not asking for money; what they were asking for was a tax deferment. Since alcohol is not taxed in Canada they wanted to make sure that it stayed off to give the company a kick off start.

This company is a $153 million project. On next Friday October 18 will be the kick off party to starting to build this project. The ridings of Kent, Essex-Kent and Lambton-Middlesex, the corn belt of Canada, will supply this company. It is another way of people in agriculture being able to utilize their produce. Any commodity that helps agriculture is to the benefit of all.

There will be approximately 90 to 100 jobs within the company and a spinoff of approximately 400 jobs. People who work in agriculture, truckers, labourers and shippers will all be involved with this plant in Chatham. It is not only a benefit to the environment, it is a benefit to the economy.

Over those years we tried every way possible to get the ministers and the members of this party and the other parties to agree to having this tax deferral. I must mention a chap who worked for me by the name of Emery Huszka. Emery drove down to his hometown of Bothwell filled a pickup with a load of corn and drove all the

way back to Ottawa. One weekend he and his wife wrapped ears of corn and our proposal with a ribbon. I must compliment Emery and his wife Julie for all the work they did in such a novel way to get attention. All the offices received an ear of corn with our proposal wrapped by ribbon.

I must thank the member for Halton-Peel and the member for Lambton-Middlesex who co-chaired the ethanol program for the environment here under the former minister, the hon. member for Hamilton East. They worked night and day to get this project off the ground.

I would like to thank all the members of Parliament who supported this. It was almost unanimous. I believe there was only one member who fought me on it, the member for Sarnia-Lambton. I do not blame the member for Sarnia-Lambton one iota. We are very close friends. But living in the chemical valley of Canada he has to stand up for the people who support him.

There were debates in Windsor. I debated along with Robert Wheeler from the city of Chatham who is the head of economic development against the member for Sarnia-Lambton and Ray Curran, the chair of the Lambton industrial society. Our debate was on the pros and cons of ethanol versus MMT. Later Doug MacKenzie and I debated in the city of London against the chemical companies themselves which were there to debate why they felt MMT should not be banned and why we should not go ahead with ethanol.

It was a very busy year and a half. My staff worked night and day. But had it not been for the ministers of our government and the members not only of the government but of the opposition who gave their support, we would never have attained our goals.

Let me now address another important issue. As more and more cars make their way onto our city streets and highways, we face a major environmental problem. Every year the 14 million cars on Canada's roads release about four tonnes of pollutants into the air. Not only do excessive emissions infect the air we breathe but they also pollute our water systems and environment. This is a massive problem that is only getting worse.

I have personal evidence that ethanol is very beneficial as I have used ethanol in my car for some 20 years or more. I drove one car for over 450,000 kilometres without any trouble with its catalytic converter or motor. Ethanol certainly benefits with a cleaner running motor. I still use ethanol today after 20 years. I always pick a gas station that sells ethanol.

I congratulate both the ministers of environment and agriculture for taking hold of this problem, for tightening emissions regulations, for improving fuel compositions and for encouraging Canadians to make careful and environmentally sound transportation choices.

As I mentioned earlier, I come from a rural area. It is the corn capital of Canada. We do not have public transportation. My community relies almost exclusively on automobiles for travel. We do not have bus service or trains in our area so all individuals must use their own transportation.

With the economy the way it is, husbands and wives work, children work. They all have cars and they are all polluting our environment. I am certain this is the case all over Canada. If we accept that people are not going to give up their cars, then we have to accept a cleaner, cheaper and better fuel product. MMT is the exact opposite.

MMT is the gasoline additive that increases octane. It is not essential to the operation of a car and many experts, including automobile manufacturers, say that it causes significant problems with pollution control components. That is why, relating to the car I have, the catalytic converter is the same as the day I bought the car new.

Cars today are very sophisticated with onboard diagnostic systems. These onboard systems are used to help drivers maintain their car's pollution control systems. I understand that if one had to be replaced it would cost approximately $1,000 with labour. Studies have shown that MMT corrupts these systems.

The decision to ban MMT was made after serious consideration. Along with many of my colleagues and the Ministers of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Environment, I have spent over two years consulting automobile manufacturers, oil companies and environmental groups. We are certain that banning this nasty American fuel additive, and it is not a Canadian additive as it is made in the southern United States, will improve the health and safety standards for all Canadians.

Banning MMT also makes sense when we are already producing better alternative fuels such as ethanol. There are several ethanol plants in Canada. The one in Chatham is not the original as there are several out west and down east.

When ethanol is made I talk of corn but ethanol can be made out of anything: wood, straw, beans. It can be made out of any product that is grown and is renewable.

As I mentioned before, ethanol is a cheaper and cleaner alternative fuel. Banning MMT makes way for corn growers across the country to contribute to the new exciting industry of alternative fuels. I am confident that this bill will benefit all Canadians by improving their health and their environment.

There are questions why Bill C-29 is important. Bill C-29 represents a prudent approach to ensuring that Canadian consumers and the environment are protected in view of uncertainties regarding the long term effect of MMT on advanced emission control

technologies such as the onboard diagnostics that are now only emerging in the motor vehicle fleet on a widespread basis.

Why is it important to have OBD systems in Canadian vehicles? OBD systems are designed to monitor the performance of pollution control systems, in particular the catalyst, and alert the driver to a malfunction. This could prevent cases of increasing tailpipe emissions, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, which impact on local air quality, as well as carbon dioxide, the principal contributor to climate change.

Properly functioning OBD systems are in essence an inspection and maintenance tool in the vehicle. Inspection and maintenance programs require vehicles to be emissions tested on a periodic basis. I feel the environment committees and ministries will be doing more of this to improve our society. Successful implementation of properly functioning OBD systems will permit all Canadians to benefit from such an emissions reduction strategy.

For example, an assessment of the emissions benefit attributed to the air care inspection and maintenance program in the Vancouver area, conducted on an annual basis, shows that hydrocarbon emissions have been reduced by 20 per cent, carbon monoxide emissions by 24 per cent, nitrogen oxide emissions by 2.7 per cent and fuel consumption by 5 per cent from the tested fleet.

What are automakers going to do if MMT remains in Canadian fuels? The automakers have indicated that if MMT remains in Canadian gasoline they would take action ranging from disconnecting OBD sensors to removal of the OBD system and decreased warranty provisions for consumers. General Motors of Canada has already advised the government that it has disabled certain functions of the OBD system on 1996 model years.

As I mentioned, by using ethanol these motors can run almost indefinitely. In our positions as members of Parliament we travel many miles in a year. Unfortunately, I must keep a car for a long time because I am not in a position to trade it too often. I put an immense amount of mileage on a vehicle.

How is this action to eliminate MMT from Canadian fuel consistent with what is happening in U.S. fuel? The current Canadian situation is not consistent with the U.S. MMT is permitted up to twice the level in Canada today compared with the level now allowed in conventional U.S. gasoline. When we test gasoline for purities we use American gasoline to check mileage and emissions here in Canada. I think this is wrong. We should be using our own fuel to test.

However, there remains considerable uncertainty about the widespread acceptance and the use of MMT in the U.S. First, there already exists a patchwork of fuels, that is, some that use MMT and some that are MMT-free in the North American market.

MMT is still not allowed in reformulated gasoline in the U.S. which is required in areas that suffer from extreme air pollution. Air pollution is starting to build up in the city of Toronto. Second, the Environmental Protection Agency supported by the Environmental Defence Fund has expressed serious concerns about the lack of data related to the use of MMT in gasoline and consequently has advocated a cautious approach with respect to the use of this additive.

Third, many of the larger petroleum companies in the U.S. have indicated that they do not intend to use MMT. In Canada right now certain service stations use only an ethanol blend. In Chatham three different companies use an ethanol blend.

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment task force report on cleaner vehicles and fuels recognized that fuels and emissions control technology should be treated as an integrated system to reduce motor vehicle emissions. The ministers have further agreed to require that cleaner fuels be mandated for use in all Canadian motor vehicles. The MMT initiative is fully consistent with that approach.

I would like to thank all members of Parliament both on the government and opposition sides who supported the ethanol plant for the city of Chatham in the county of Kent. Without your help and the help of the minister it would never have been realized for our area. Chatham is still in a recession and this company will certainly benefit the area. For all the people in the riding of Kent and the county of Kent I wish to thank everyone for the efforts that helped to implement this project. I also wish to thank the Government of Canada for supporting this ethanol plant.

Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for his speech, but I think it reflects, to some extent, the pressure exercised by lobbies and felt in this House since the bill was first tabled.

I heard a lot about the ethanol plant, which is located in Ontario. The hon. member is from that region, and I do not blame him for his position, however, I would like to go back to some important facts.

First, we asked the auto lobby and Ethyl corporation to submit studies.

Ethyl Corporation provided independent studies confirming that MMT is not harmful to health, and that it is not harmful to automobiles either. We asked auto dealers to do the same, but were told: "No, these are confidential studies. We cannot release them. It would be dangerous from a competition point of view".

The point is that six provinces out of ten oppose this bill. Once again, the federal government is getting involved in a field of provincial jurisdiction. It will even prohibit the interprovincial trade of manganese. This is another reason why we will vote against the bill.

In our amendment, we simply asked that the bill be read the third time six months from now. Again, we cannot be opposed to virtue. We ask that independent studies be done, so as to check the version of both sides and see if MMT is indeed dangerous and harmful, as claimed by some Mps and others, even though no conclusive studies support such claims.

All we have is a 1994 study from the health department itself, which concludes there is no evidence that manganese is dangerous or harmful to health.

There is another important point: manganese was just reintroduced into the U.S. market. The government talks about the North American market, but it wants to pass a bill to prohibit this product at home.

The result is that this government is now being sued by Ethyl corporation, to the tune of $201 million, in U.S. dollars, for presumably violating certain NAFTA provisions. Mr. Speaker, I do not know if you have $201 million to invest in this bill, but I feel that, before making a decision like this one, we should do some thinking.

In conclusion, we know that an ethanol plant was built. We have nothing against ethanol, but who knows, maybe in five or ten years, this product will be considered dangerous. After all, it is also an additive. We are talking about additives. This may not be the best solution to eliminate environmental problems caused by greenhouse gases generated by automobiles.

Why not invest in a lasting technology such as the electric car? I discussed this option the other day. To replace an additive with another additive looks a lot like a response to big lobbies.

Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Rex Crawford Liberal Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member for her questions and her statements concerning MMT and the studies that have been or have not been done over the years.

I have only been in the House of Commons approximately eight years. The matter of ethanol production was brought up long before I arrived. The feeling was that we should look into ethanol.

I believe hon. members have said that six provinces are not in favour of banning MMT. There are ethanol plants out west, down east, in Quebec. Those are the only plants I know of at the present time, that is, in three different provinces.

I would imagine that Vancouver, and British Columbia in general, would certainly be in support of ethanol over MMT. As far as the safety of ethanol is concerned, whether it has been tested, all I know is if someone can drink it, it cannot be that bad. One thing about ethanol, if your car breaks down, while you are waiting for help which takes a long time to arrive, you can sit there and drink ethanol. You might not be in shape to drive the car afterward, though.

Ethanol has been proven to be very safe. MMT, on the other hand, has been banned in several states. I believe there are 16 states in which there is an outright ban. For areas that have large car populations such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver it is to their benefit to be using ethanol instead of MMT.

There has been what we call evidence, although Ethyl said that it is not evidence, coming from the United States. The United States has studied this for the last 50 years. Ethanol is nothing new. Ethanol has been produced in the United States for over 50 years. In fact, when Henry Ford first came out with the Tin Lizzy, the model-T, long before the hon. member was born, it burned ethanol at that time. I have driven a model-T, but not new.

The evidence over the years in the United States has proven that there are problems with MMT. It is not banning it just for the sake of banning it. It is a very cheap additive. It is banning it because of health reasons.

As far as the $201 million lawsuit, living on the border, I am very familiar with Americans. They sue everyone for anything. It is a good bluff.

Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleagues, we are now at the next stage of debate. Speakers will have a maximum of 10 minutes without questions or comments.

Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening for a few days now to the famous debate on MMT and Bill C-29. For the benefit of those who are still wondering what MMT is after so many days of hearing about it in the House of Commons, it is methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl.

I am surprised that Liberal members supporting the bill have not each given the name of the product in full, so dangerous does it appear to be, so chemical that anyone surveyed would oppose such a product.

We know that it is a fuel additive, a manganese-based product used to increase the octane rating in gasoline and improve engine performance. It has been in use for a number of years.

Before preparing my speech, I reread the speech of the hon. Minister of the Environment, who called for a ban on this additive in gasoline. We heard about children with respiratory problems, and city smog. It was a bit apocalyptic. It brought to mind certain futuristic films with gloomy cities whose inhabitants are all dressed in black, a bit like Batman films, where everything is dark and dirty. Such was the image evoked by the minister.

However, on giving it further thought and listening to the speeches, we realize that many of our colleagues across the way are talking about ethanol. We are wondering whether this is a debate about MMT or about ethanol. We have questions. A closer look at the situation reveals that there are two large lobbies, two large organizations behind each of these products.

First, there is the automobile lobby, which is telling us that MMT could damage the anti-pollution system. There was talk of fouled spark plugs. There was also talk of devices to test new motors. You know that there is a lot of computerization and electronics, and they are claiming that the presence of MMT in gasoline could cause this equipment to malfunction.

According to the automobile manufacturers, the product presents a hazard. But if the product is harmful, we would have liked to see the Department of Health add it to its list of hazardous products. If it had, we would not have had this debate. The Minister of Health had the authority to do this.

The Department of Health looked into the matter in 1994 and said there was no obvious hazard, and so the use of MMT as a gas additive was not prohibited.

Then the following question arises: What are the arguments of those in favour of continuing this practice? Those in favour are mainly the oil companies. Here again, these are not necessarily companies that are very reliable from the average citizen's point of view, because the oil companies, like the automobile manufacturers, pursue their own particular interests. They have a vested interest in MMT as an additive. Let me explain: According to the oil companies, production costs would go up if MMT were ever to be replaced by another product.

Meanwhile, the oil companies have other arguments as well, because they cannot just tell us it will cost us more and they will have to sell their products at a higher price. They are also warning us against replacing MMT with a specific product, ethanol, which we will discuss later on.

There is also the issue of reducing the amount of nitrogen oxide. It seems that the presence of MMT would reduce the production of nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere. This is a positive factor, and the oil companies have mentioned this. I already mentioned the cost factor. The oil companies also quoted a study by the company that produces MMT. There is, after all, a company that has an interest in the production of MMT, Ethyl Corporation. It demonstrated on the basis of its studies that the product as such was not harmful.

Considering these arguments, we are inclined to believe that the bill aimed at prohibiting the use of MMT is not entirely on solid ground.

Much has been made of the fact that in the United States, the use of MMT as an additive was banned. However, there has been a court ruling allowing certain larger oil companies to resume adding MMT. So that argument is no longer valid.

There is another argument in favour of maintaining the use of MMT as a gas additive, and that is NAFTA. As you know, we signed NAFTA several years ago. The Liberal Party was opposed to it. It was supposed to make very significant changes in the treaty, but it was all much ado about nothing, because there were no major changes. However, according to the NAFTA treaty, we would not necessarily have the right to ban the use of MMT.

Earlier, there was a reference to a $200 million lawsuit, and one hon. member opposite said, in responding to the hon. member for Laurentides: "They-the Americans-sue everyone for anything". But when you read the American newspapers, you realize that people are being sued for enormous amounts of money. So I do not think it is very reasonable to argue that it does not really matter if we are sued, that we should not take it seriously, since it is just a way for American lawyers to make a living.

There is another aspect we should not overlook, and it is that six provinces in Canada are opposed to this ban. If it were only Quebec, people could say that the Quebec separatists are at it again, objecting to a federal measure because it interferes with provincial jurisdictions, but here we have not one but six provinces. We could also mention a letter from the Premier of Saskatchewan who is opposed to banning MMT.

We can see there are two lobbies in opposition here, the automotive lobby and the petroleum industry. However, we as legislators must reach a decision. We can see that the arguments for removing MMT from gasoline have no scientific basis. We can see that the arguments for continuing to introduce the manganese-based additive to gasoline are readily defended.

There is another aspect which is becoming more and more obvious, one on which my colleague from the party in power has spoken at length just now: what would replace MMT, since gasoline needs to have an additive in order to have the proper octane level, would be ethanol. We note that there has been major development in that industry in Ontario.

The other day, I heard our colleague for Lambton-Middlesex speaking of the imminent opening of a $153 million plant in Chatham, Ontario, which would provide an outlet for some of the 15 million bushels of corn produced in the Chatham region.

I am well aware that the product is being developed in Ontario, that they want to replace MMT with ethanol, but I feel this should be done openly. They ought to say: we have a Canadian product we

want to develop, and it can be proven that it would replace MMT advantageously. Then they convince the gasoline companies to replace the MMT. There is no obligation for them to add MMT, they could just as easily put in ethanol.

What we are doing now is doing the work of those who are trying to develop the ethanol industry in Canada. We are trying to get MMT taken out through binding legislation, which would leave only one possible additive, ethanol, which just so happens to benefit many ridings in Ontario.

This is why my party will be voting against the bill. There is no proof that this is a dangerous product. It is not appropriate to vote in favour of such a bill.

Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise briefly in the debate on the MMT legislation. I will address some of the points raised by some of the opposition members with regard to this issue.

The first issue is the impact of lobbying. All members must be well aware of the activity of lobby groups from various sectors of business and industry. Lobbyists to a great extent provide an interesting service to members of Parliament in that they bring to our attention their points of view and their interests with regard to proposed legislation. We cannot forget there are lobbyists on both sides of the question and probably on every position in between.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Canadian automobile dealers association. I had a good chat with their chairman, Mr. Douglas Leggat. We talked about a lot of issues. The lobby is not a single issue group. It represents Canadian automobile dealers association and not necessarily the manufacturing sector.

The group has concerns besides banning MMT as an additive in our fuels. Its representatives had concerns about the propriety of banks getting into auto leasing. They had concerns about the GST discrepancy, about whether GST had to be dealt with on their trade-ins, whereas the small independents who apparently deal with the vast majority of used car transactions do not get caught by the GST situation. They are concerned with a broad spectrum of issues.

The fact remains that it is not just the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association. Throughout the debate we have heard that virtually every automobile manufacturer has come out in support of the banning of MMT.

MMT is a fuel additive which replaced lead in our gasoline. All members know of the problems we faced when we phased out lead because of the serious health consequences that could be caused over a long period of time. As a result MMT, and I will not even try to pronounce the full name, is a complex chemical additive and replaces the additive lead which was necessary for the configuration of the combustion engines.

A number of the Bloc members have said that they are not sure that it is a dangerous substance. I sense that they are trying to say that until we know it is dangerous, do not do anything. The first thing I thought of when I heard that argument was, is it a good policy to wait until after there is a problem to do something? Maybe it is more prudent and responsible to deal with issues on a preventative basis to make sure that we do not get ourselves into a situation such as we had with lead additives or with ureaformaldehyde insulation. Again, at the time it came out there was a lot of interest. It was a new product recommended by jurisdictional authorities. As everyone knows, serious problems were revealed later.

On the point of not being sure, the issue is that we are not sure. There are no definitive studies that show the significance of the health impacts. There are some indications from some sectors. There is some disagreement and this is the reason that a strong central government is necessary because there is a disagreement among the provinces.

Apparently six of the ten provinces have said they do not think they want to support the banning of MMT. I am not sure of their individual reasons. The fact remains that we are not meddling in provincial jurisdictions. This is a health issue and an environmental issue. The federal government has to be proactive in terms of the protection of the health of Canadians and of Canada's environment.

There was some question about it having been reintroduced in the United States. Even the materials that were provided to members refute that as well. There are no major changes in the position of the U.S. More questions have been raised than answers given, quite frankly.

This piece of legislation calls for the banning of MMT. If we need an additive and MMT is going to be banned, it will have to be replaced by something. Major petroleum industry representatives are looking at ethanol as the additive replacement. When I was with United Co-operatives of Ontario, our petroleum division actually had a test site in the production of ethanol. It could not keep enough of it in stock for consumers who wanted it because of the significant increase in the performance level of automobiles. That was in the Guelph area. As I recall, this was a big breakthrough.

With regard to ethanol, another point that has been made by the opposition is that it is an Ontario issue. That is not quite right because there is an ethanol plant in Quebec and one out west. We now have a new plant in Chatham.

Our thanks go to the leadership of people such as the member for Kent who spoke earlier who have been working for some time to make sure that the facts get on the table. Judging from his speech the member knows what he is talking about. He has been a member of this House for eight years. He has done his work and he has provided leadership within this House to make sure that members know.

In closing I want to reiterate that the purpose of the bill is environmental health and protection. The most efficient way to ensure environmental health and protection is through pollution prevention. We have heard enough already about the impact on catalytic converters and the need for dealing with emissions into our environment.

Cars are the single largest polluter of our environment. This is one constructive, positive and necessary step to make sure that Canada has a cleaner environment.

Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to take part in today's debate on Bill C-29, an act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese-based substances.

The purpose of Bill C-29 is to ban manganese-based products, including MMT, which are suspected by the government and the automobile industry of damaging antipollution devices in cars, although in Canada this substance has been added to most types of unleaded gasolines since 1977. Therefore it follows that MMT is harmful to the environment and to the health of Quebecers and Canadians. However, this is not so.

When added in very small quantities, as it is in gasoline, MMT has been shown not to be harmful either to the environment or to health. Since the conclusions arrived at by Health Canada were not the ones the government expected, it had no other choice but to resort to a special piece of legislation to ban interprovincial trade in and importation for a commercial purpose of certain manganese-based substances, including MMT.

After the auditor general, is it now the turn of Health Canada scientists to be the butt of Liberal wrath? One might wonder.

If the Canadian government wants to legislate in this area, it is not on environmental grounds nor to protect the health of its citizens, but as the result of pressure from various lobbies. If MMT had been proven to be a health hazard, or harmful to the environment and cars, its use would have been banned a long time ago.

To better understand the whole controversy surrounding the use or prohibition of MMT, it might help to mention again who the stakeholders are in this issue.

First there is the Ethyl Corporation. Based in the United States, it manufactures lubricating additives and engine performance enhancing fuels. Moreover, it is the only exporter of MMT to Canada. MMT is added to gasoline in Sarnia, Ontario.

Second, there is the American Environment Protection Agency. For years it has been fighting Ethyl in court to maintain the ban on MMT. On November 30, the EPA regulation was overruled by the US court of appeal in the District of Columbia. The EPA announced it did not intend to appeal the ruling.

Third, there are the car manufacturers. They are against any kind of gasoline additives, including MMT. They are threatening to increase car prices in Canada and limit the warranty coverage on these cars if MMT is not banned. There is as yet no hard proof that MMT actually harms automobile pollution control systems.

Last, there are the oil companies. They are in favour of MMT on technical grounds. Processing MMT is less intensive, therefore oil refinery smoke stacks release smaller quantities of pollutants into the atmosphere.

And finally, ethanol producers are probably opposed to MMT because they believe ethanol would be an excellent alternative to MMT. It is interesting to note that ethanol is produced mainly in the riding of the former Minister of the Environment, the present Deputy Prime Minister.

Therefore the whole issue of banning MMT is resulting in considerable costs for the oil industry. These costs could amount to $7 million in Quebec alone. Furthermore, oil companies could spread a rumour of massive layoffs, or price increases for the consumer, if MMT is not accepted.

We must not forget that Canada is facing a suit for $275 million from Ethyl Corporation, based on the free movement of goods policy included in NAFTA. Personally, I believe the Minister of the Environment is taking a big risk, which could have unforeseeable consequences, on top of all the problems this would cause for the Canadian affiliate of Ethyl Corporation.

Last February, the international trade minister wrote to the environment minister to remind him of that fact. But it seems the environment minister decided to wait and see whether Ethyl or the American government would initiate legal proceedings against the federal government for breach of the free trade agreement.

Furthermore, as I mentioned before, banning MMT would benefit the ethanol industry, which is well developed in Ontario and the West, at the expense of the ethanol industry in Quebec which is barely beginning.

I would like to explain the Bloc Quebecois' position. The Bloc is open to the passing of a bill banning the utilisation and the importation of MMT, provided it is proven that this product poses a threat to the environment and people's health. The Bloc Quebe-

cois even voted in favour of Bill C-29 to allow for a more thorough study in order that light could be shed on the whole issue.

However, I must admit that debate and discussions brought to light not the harmful effects of MMT, but the stubbornness and partisanship of the present Minister of the Environment and of his predecessor, the Deputy Prime Minister. The Liberal government is showing no respect for the international trade agreements it signed and disregards the Canadian Constitution as far as provincial jurisdictions are concerned.

When it tabled Bill C-29, the federal government declared it wanted to regulate gasoline distribution essentially for three main reasons, because MMT was hazardous to the health of Canadians and Quebecers, because it could damage pollution control devices and because we should harmonize our policies with the American ones. Unfortunately those arguments are no longer valid. A recent American ruling has shown that MMT has no harmful effects on pollution control systems.

In conclusion, the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to Bill C-29 and that is why we shall vote against it.

Manganese-Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry, but this must come to an end, is that not so? We will now move on to members' statements.

Fire Prevention WeekStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


John O'Reilly Liberal Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Mr. Speaker, Fire Prevention Week began October 6. This Saturday, October 12 is Fire Service Recognition Day. This is our chance to honour Canada's 98,000 firefighters, full time and volunteer professionals alike.

As a former volunteer firefighter with Lindsay Ops, I want to emphasize how vital this service is to Canadians and ask you to follow this year's Fire Prevention Week slogan: "Let's hear it for fire safety. Test your detectors". Let us deliver the message on behalf of firefighters across the country to remind people that a fully operational smoke detector will save the lives of you and your neighbour.

This Thanksgiving Day take time to check your detector. If you need assistance, ask any firefighter. They care about your safety.

The Jonquière Seniors AssociationStatements By Members

11 a.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, an association providing services to senior citizens in my riding, Les Aîné(e)s de

Jonquière, recently received the Armand-Marquiset honourary award at an international gerontology symposium held in Montreal.

This award recognizes the excellence of voluntary work perpetuating the values promoted by Armand Marquiset, the French founder of the movement Les Petits Frères des pauvres.

We often say no man is a prophet in his own country and, yet, the organization Les Aîné(e)s of Jonquière is the exception. Its remarkable work has long been recognized by the people in the community it serves. Its reputation is now transcending our borders.

I congratulate Les Aîné(e)s de Jonquière association for this award, honours all of Quebec. We must encourage all the associations that, like Les Aîné(e)s de Jonquière, are concerned with easing and enriching the lives of our elderly people with all the respect and recognition they deserve.

Conservative PartyStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the credibility of the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party becomes more and more questionable as each day passes. This is no more evident than in the case of his failure to demand the resignation of the Progressive Conservative second in command in the Senate. This Tory senator refuses to answer a court subpoena in Saskatchewan based on his parliamentary privilege. He is using an archaic, irrelevant, obsolete section of the Constitution to avoid appearing in court. This Tory senator's actions demean the integrity of Parliament and all politicians.

What does the Progressive Conservative leader say for himself? Zilch, zippo, notta, not a peep.

Hopefully this friendly reminder will motivate the Tory leader to stand up for the people of Saskatchewan and demand that the senator come out from behind his self-serving abuse of parliamentary privilege. Anything short of that demand will exhibit the Tory leader's contempt for parliamentarians, the democratic process in Canada, but most especially concerned Canadian citizens.

Goods And Services TaxStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was sorry to hear that the tentative deal to harmonize the GST with provincial sales taxes in three Atlantic provinces appears to be back on track with the so-called Nova Scotia compromise on book sales.

It is obvious from this deal that harmonization negatively affects the province's right to make tax policy sympathetic to local

economies. Under the deal in Nova Scotia books will continue to be taxed by the federal government, which does not seem to understand the growing evidence that the GST harmonization will not benefit consumers, workers or regional economies.

New Democrats across Canada led by Nova Scotia's Alexa McDonough say that the current harmonization proposal is the wrong direction for tax reform since it shifts taxes away from business and corporations and applies them to the poor, middle class and working families.

Harmonization including the Nova Scotia compromise remains unfair and ineffective.

R. W. GanongStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, on October 2, 1996 hundreds of guests attended a special dinner honouring Mr. R. W. Ganong's 90th birthday celebration.

Mr. Ganong of the famous Ganong Bros. Limited chocolate company of St. Stephen, New Brunswick has a long history in the Canadian confectionery industry, beginning with the Ganong firm in 1927 where he acted as superintendent for 17 years, general manager for 11 years, president for 20 years, chairman of the board for 17 years and since 1994 has acted as chairman emeritus.

In addition to R. W. Ganong's successful career, he served his community, province and our country to the best of his capacity. He was honoured as the first Candy Man, a distinction awarded by the Canadian confectionery industry in June of 1976. In 1982 the University of New Brunswick, Saint John campus, presented Mr. Ganong with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and in 1989 R. W. Ganong was presented with the Order of Canada.

Congratulations to Mr. R. W. Ganong, 90 years young on October 2, 1996.

Linguistic DualityStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Jesse Flis Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians share the same values. They are peaceful, generous and united. We are also proud of our cultural diversity and we promote bilingualism from coast to coast.

Thus, the Toronto school board is proposing mandatory French courses to all students, these courses being required by the Department of Education and Training.

Together, public and catholic boards in Toronto have 14 French schools. In fact, French is thriving in Toronto. Many students in my riding even have the opportunity to learn three languages simultaneously.

Obviously, our linguistic duality is dynamic and constitutes an unquestionable asset for Canadians in the global economy.

Mental Illness Awareness WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, next week is Mental Illness Awareness Week. One out of five Canadians is affected by mental illness at sometime in their lives. It is time to destigmatize mental illness.

I salute the Canadian Psychiatric Association, its partners and the volunteers in this year's campaign of teamwork in service delivery. I support medical research and urge every Canadian to do so.

Last week in my riding a functional magnetic resonance imaging research facility opened. It is the first of its kind outside the United States. This facility will map brain activity at the cellular level and will contribute to the vital medical research being carried out at the institute. We will gain a greater understanding of Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, vision and other brain related disorders and issues.

To those who continue to work tirelessly on the institute's discovery fund campaign, I offer my thanks and congratulations. I am confident that staff, researchers and the benefactors of this institute will add to their list of accomplishments. Their research will benefit the world and all Canadians. Bravo.

1996 Nobel Economy PrizeStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois would like to commend Canadian economist William Vickrey who, along with James Mirrlees, from Great Britain, received the 1996 Nobel Economy Prize.

William Vickrey, born in 1914, is a key figure in contemporary economics. In the last 45 years, he has published several books and some 140 scientific articles in many renowned journals.

The Nobel Prize was awarded to these two researchers for their contribution to the economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information. Professor Vickrey carried out significant studies

on the taxation level taxpayers can bear to finance government expenditures without these taxes having a negative impact on employment and tax revenues.

The Bloc Quebecois would like to congratulate Professor Vickrey for receiving this award. Such an honour reflects on all Quebecers and all Canadians; so, it is in their names that we want to pay tribute to Professor Vickrey today.

Reform PartyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, since coming to this House three years ago, I have seen some notable changes. Liberals have taken shaky, tentative steps in trying to implement Reform policies.

The biggest contrast between a Reformer and a Liberal is their vision for the future of Canada. It is appropriate during family week to point out that Reform is the family friendly party because of its concern for children. Reform's fiscal policies are designed to lessen the debt and tax burden on our young people and to give them better jobs and more opportunities.

The Liberal-Tory policies have instead forced our children to pay for government excesses that occurred before they were even born. Overtaxation forces both parents to work outside the home. A weak Young Offenders Act and targeting law-abiding citizens rather than criminals are the Liberal's legacy.

However, the area where the most contrast exists is the Liberal vision for the future, which redefines families. Social engineering does not work. Liberals obviously are not learning their lessons by attending Reform school, so implementation of the Reform vision will have to be left to a Reform government.

Women's History MonthStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Marlene Cowling Liberal Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, October is Women's History Month. As the member of Parliament for Dauphin-Swan River, I would like to take a moment to speak in appreciation of all of the women of Dauphin-Swan River who make our constituency a wonderful place to live in.

Women's History Month was created by the Government of Canada to encourage the awareness of women's contributions to Canadian society. This year's theme is women and the arts. In Dauphin-Swan River we have many women who have made valuable contributions to our arts community through the years. Right now a group called Friends of the Dauphin Allied Arts Council has the work of 17 local women artists displayed in the Dauphin shopping mall. The works, stained glass, ceramics, water colours and wood carvings, are featured to celebrate this year's Women's History Month.

I applaud the Government of Canada for supporting a valuable and worthwhile initiative like Women's History Month.

The Liberal GovernmentStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, this past summer as I travelled through my riding of Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe I had the opportunity to meet with 26 town councils and hundreds of constituents.

The question that was most frequently asked of me was: "What has the Liberal government done for me?" This was my answer: "If I had told you back in the summer of 1993 that in three years our government would achieve the following you probably would not have believed me". The deficit is down from $42.5 billion in 1993 to $17 billion by the end of 1997, a 60 per cent decrease.

Exports are up by over 30 per cent. The prime rate is down to 5.5 per cent. Mortgage rates are down by 4 per cent. On a $100,000 mortgage that gives homeowners an extra $3,000 a year in their pockets, and that is without a tax cut.

This is how far we have come and I strongly believe that we should continue moving in this direction.

Deputy Premier Of QuebecStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, in an open letter published earlier this week in the daily Le Devoir , Bernard Landry reacts to an article written by Claude Picher about the likelihood of an independent Quebec entering NAFTA.

True to the PQ theory, Bernard Landry let himself be persuaded that an independent Quebec would have no trouble being accepted within NAFTA. The consensus among international experts is that an independent Quebec would not automatically be part of NAFTA. The United States would certainly not miss such an opportunity.

Instead of losing his time in futile and hypothetical discussions, Mr. Landry should focus on abolishing barriers to interprovincial trade. After all, are the other Canadian provinces not among the major trade partners of Quebec?

GuatemalaStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have learned recently that a peace agreement could soon put an end to the horrible civil war that has been tearing Guatemala apart for 35 years.

It seems that the peace process officially undertaken in 1991 will soon come to a successful conclusion. The Bloc Quebecois salutes the tenacity and the dedication of the Guatemalan people, of Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and strong defender of the rights of the native majority, as well as the efforts of all supporters of democracy and the good work of United Nations mediators. These mediators helped find a lasting solution to a brutal armed conflict that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and forced one million Guatemalans into exile.

With the conclusion of this agreement for peace, security and justice between guerillas and the government, we can now hope for lasting peace and a true democracy in that country.

The FamilyStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have spent a lot of time in the bush and, with this being National Family Week, I have to say that animals in the forest treat their young better than we do.

Families are the building blocks of society. But what has this Liberal government done to protect them? Regarding finances, since the Liberals came to power the average annual family income has dropped by about $3,000. The old line parties structured income tax so that families in which one parent stays at home to care for children pay many thousands of dollars more in taxes than families that pay someone else to look after their youngsters.

Regarding safety, the Liberals still put the rights of criminals ahead of society's right for safety. After all, it is the children who are the main victims of young offenders. And kids themselves want the Young Offenders Act made a lot tougher. In many cities today kids dare not wear a favourite T-shirt or sports cap to school for fear they will be mugged or it will be stolen.

It is past time the Liberals acted to support kids and the traditional family.

The FamilyStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week Canada is celebrating National Family Week to renew our commitment to strong, healthy and happy families.

The family is the basic unit of humanity, without which society as we know it would cease to exist. Family means children, the guardians of our future. Family means unselfishly putting the interests of our children ahead of our own, and family means providing care, support and love to each other for life.

Strong families are less likely to depend on social assistance, less likely to have children living in poverty, less likely to become chronic users of health care and less likely to run afoul of the laws of Canada.

In brief, strong families mean a strong country. If the family is strong, the deficit would be gone and children would have the first call on the resources of the nation.

In this National Family Week my prayer is that all families find the fortitude they need to stay strong, healthy and happy.

The Leader Of The Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.


Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois does not want hear about a ten-year moratorium on sovereignty and he does not intend to give the Parti Quebecois full responsibility for the sovereignist project.

On this subject he said, and I quote: "The Parti Quebecois does not own sovereignty. The sovereignist project is a shared responsibility and that is exactly why there are partners [. . .]Should there be a ten-year moratorium on sovereignty, it would make a notable difference: I would no longer be a partner in that project".

It becomes increasingly clear that the leader of the Bloc Quebecois belongs to the more radical wing of the separatist movement. For him, the separation of Quebec is the only thing that counts.

Lucien Bouchard really should stay away from this undesirable ally, who could hamper his efforts towards the reunification of Quebec.