House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mmt.


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Some hon. members


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Some hon. members


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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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Some hon. members


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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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Some hon. members


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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Call in the members.

Accordingly, the recorded division on Bill C-5 stands deferred until tomorrow, Wednesday, October 23, after Government Orders.

The House resumed from October 21, 1996, 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.

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Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak to this bill. I would like to start by saying that I fully support the amendments presented previously by the hon. member for Laurentides. The Bloc Quebecois had many good reasons for wanting to postpone third reading of the bill.

Since the government has decided otherwise, we will continue the debate. Manganese is an additive that we get mainly from our neighbours to the South, the United States. Now if it were produced in Canada, in Ontario, for instance, would the government have spent so much energy on trying to ban it? I wonder.

The government says that this bill represents a serious threat to public health. It also says that it may cause serious damage to antipollution devices on cars, and third, it has confirmed that it must harmonize its policies with those of the United States.

I may remind the government that we now have an agreement on the free circulation of goods. I also realize that the Minister of the Environment is under enormous pressure. There is a very strong lobby, I agree. But who are these people who are putting pressure on the minister? Who are they? Auto manufacturers? Friends of the government? Other people, other companies, including car manufacturers who think that this product damages antipollution devices?

However, many studies have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that manganese can even be beneficial to the environment. It has been scientifically proven that it helps reduce emission levels of nitrogen dioxide, which causes urban smog, by up to 20 per cent.

And we all know that nitrogen dioxide is itself harmful to the environment and to the health of Quebecers and Canadians. In

other words, by passing this bill, we are helping to destroy our environment and consequently endangering the health of our constituents.

In fact, this bill also increases emissions of nitrogen oxide. The effect would be the same if all of a sudden we increased the number of cars on our highways by several hundred thousand. We can imagine the harm that would do.

If the government thinks it is deleterious to our health, then why is the health department not drafting a bill to ban it outright? Asking the question is answering it, as this government is unable to prove, scientifically or otherwise, that this product is harmful.

In my opinion, there is only one real reason why the government has introduced this bill: protectionism. As several of us in this House have pointed out, we must keep in mind that manganese can be replaced with ethanol. Through this bill, the government is protecting ethanol producers, most of whom are based in Ontario and western Canada. Protectionism is one of the reasons why the government has introduced this bill.

Let us not forget either that, in 1994, the then Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health had taken position on this issue. They were very well positioned. Did they not put forward a development program favouring ethanol production? This program was financed to the tune of $70 million. Can these previous commitments suddenly be set aside? No, we are stuck with them.

Having taught mathematics for several years, I think of this as a very simple equation: Ontario ministers plus proposed ethanol plants in Ontario equals the bill before us today. It is that simple.

What about the $275 million lawsuit filed by Ethyl Corporation, an American company that produces manganese? Ethyl claims that this is a violation of NAFTA. Do we as Canadians have so much money that we can afford not to take this lawsuit seriously? Did the Minister of the Environment take the time to consult with his legal advisors on this lawsuit matter before going any further with his project? At a time when this government is making cuts in social programs and the health sector, in the Canada social transfer, I think this is serious enough a matter to consider before passing this bill.

I have another concern relating directly to the bill. The government must take the opinions of the provinces into account. If it asks the provinces for their opinions, it is only natural that it take these opinions into account at some point. But it is a well known fact-this is nothing new, not just since we came here-that the federal government does not respect the provinces. In fact, it is an old habit of theirs, in almost every area.

They are not acting any differently in this matter as in others. It is no secret, the point was made over and over that six of the ten provinces strongly oppose this bill and demand that it be withdrawn.

Once again, interprovincial trade is threatened. The provinces had their say, but this government, the federal government, is a centralizing government. That is nothing new either. We must not pass blindly legislation dealing with the health of Quebecers and Canadians and their environment. We must have all the facts we need to ensure that this government bill truly protects those it is intended to protect, that is to say the public as a whole.

The government must not listen only to powerful lobbyists. It must be more open than that. As I said earlier, the minister's decision to go ahead is not based on any scientific facts. It is imperative that the government redo its homework because the homework handed in by the Minister of the Environment is full of mistakes.

While the government redoes its homework on this bill, we could take a look at all the consequences this bill may have.

I move that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following therefor:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following:

"Bill C-29, An Act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese-based substances, be not now read a third time but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for the purpose of reconsidering the Bill in its entirety."

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Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to bring to your attention that this bill has already been totally reviewed by the committee.

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I believe the matter raised by the hon. member is a matter of debate and not a point of order. The Chair is apprised of the status of this bill. Upon review of the submitted amendment-

I declare the amendment of the hon. member for Chicoutimi in order.

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Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, there has been so much misinformation delivered to this Chamber on the subject of MMT that it is very hard to know where to start to answer it. I will make some comments in response to the member for Chicoutimi by starting at the bottom and working up to the earlier comments.

The member said that the government should be soliciting the opinion of the provinces before it proceeds with a bill of this kind. I remind the hon. member that the opinion and the co-operation of the provinces are absolutely essential for any kind of ethanol production in any province of this country.

In Ontario when the government brought in the ethanol biomass bill, it was essential that the province of Ontario participate in that project, which it did. When ethanol comes to Quebec, which it will do-and I wonder what position my friends from the Bloc will take when a huge industrial complex is built in Quebec-it will require the co-operation and the opinion of the province of Quebec, just like any other part of the country. The opinion of the provinces is not only desirable, it is absolutely essential.

The hon. member for Chicoutimi talked about Ontario factories producing ethanol. We should set the record straight on that one too. There is one factory producing ethanol in Ontario and it produces about half of the ethanol that is produced across Canada at the present time. Much of that ethanol is used for cosmetic, medical and industrial purposes. Only a very small percentage of it goes into motor fuel, even though the demand for ethanol blended gasoline is growing quite quickly. As a result, there is a deficit. We are actually importing the ethanol blend in order to satisfy the demand.

The two new plants that are going up in Ontario, a 66 million litres a year plant in Cornwall and a 150 million litres a year plant in Chatham, will multiply the amount of ethanol produced many, many times. It will only begin to satisfy the demand. The hon. member suggested that somehow Ontario was gaining some undue advantage here and that is not so.

With regard to the health aspect of manganese, the health ministry has declined to approve or to call manganese a noxious material of one sort or another. It does not matter whether the health ministry does or does not, what matters is that the use of the alternative, that is, oxygenates of one sort or another in gasoline, will dramatically lower the emissions of carbon monoxide. It is not a matter of whether or not manganese is noxious; what matters is if it can be replaced with something that will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from the internal combustion engine, then it is a radical step forward.

This government set out with a goal and a commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2004 by 20 per cent from 1988 levels. The inclusion of 10 per cent ethanol in gasoline reduces carbon monoxide by 30 per cent. It exceeds the target for that particular emission. I do not have the figures on what percentage of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the internal combustion engine but it is significant.

Some misinformation has been put forward to this House on what has happened in the United States and what the American experience has been. To set the record straight, nearly 20 years ago the Environmental Protection Agency outlawed the use of MMT in unleaded gasoline in the United States. A year or so ago the supreme court in the United States ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency had exceeded its mandate. The word came back to us that the United States was ready to embrace MMT generally across the board. It has not happened.

If we talk to the refiners in the United States they will tell us they are no longer interested in using MMT even though they have the authority now to go ahead and put it to environmental tests. A number of states have outlawed the use of MMT. If we are talking about harmonizing motor fuel between Canada and the United States, the harmony will only come when MMT is no longer in Canadian gasolines.

A statement was made about nitrous oxide emissions, NOx as it is called, that taking MMT out could cause an increase of up to 20 per cent of nitrous oxide emissions. The question one has to ask is, how much is in there to begin with? The fact is motor fuel produces very little nitrous oxide. Even a 20 per cent increase, which has been debatable depending on whose statistics are used, but let us say it is 20 per cent, if it is 20 per cent of nearly nothing, it is still nearly nothing.

My hon. friend from Chicoutimi also talked about who it is who supports the removal of MMT. There are about 2.3 million members of the Canadian Automobile Association across Canada and the CAA has declared its support for the elimination of MMT in gasoline. Yes, the auto manufacturers certainly support the elimination of MMT. They came to the committee that I have the honour to sit on and delivered the evidence right there as to what an oxide of manganese does to the emission control systems in internal combustion engines.

There are new emission control systems now. We have to contend with the effects on these new control systems. If we do not get rid of MMT, then there is no point going ahead with these very sophisticated, very much improved emission control systems.

In conclusion, what we are dealing with here, the lobby to keep MMT, is simply addressing the last vestiges of kicks from a dinosaur whose day came and now has gone.

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Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, we would expect Canada's environment minister to do what is right for the environment. We would expect the minister to consider our health to be a major priority when drafting legislation. Ultimately, we would expect that any legislation coming out of Environment Canada would have first been scientifically tested, making sure that there are no glitches in the bill.

Canadians expect the best. Yet what we have received over the last three years from this government are two of Canada's most irresponsible environment ministers. Allow me to share a couple of examples.

When the Deputy Prime Minister held the environment post, she had no clue what axe fell under her jurisdiction. When meeting with an environmental group, she was asked how her department would deal with endangered species. She thought that Canada already had an endangered species act. When she found out that Canada did not, she rushed to produce a weak proposal that would only cover roughly 4 per cent of all the land area of Canada. It upsets me to look across the floor and see a minister like this trying to run our country.

When the Deputy Prime Minister was first approached by the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers' Association in 1994 or 1995, it wanted her to find some way to get rid of MMT from Canadian gasoline. One would think that if a lobby group such as the MVMA were to approach a minister and ask for something, the minister would have the department do a thorough investigation and perhaps even conduct interim tests of its own. However, this is where the Deputy Prime Minister is different from other ministers.

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act there is a schedule of substances that are declared harmful to the health of Canadians and to the environment. The minister quickly discovered that she would not be able to ban MMT under CEPA. Therefore she had to find another route.

Her only way was to ban the importation and interprovincial trade of MMT. One can only wonder if she first checked with the Department of International Trade to see how this complied under NAFTA. However, seeing how the department is now scrambling to find a way out as a result of a NAFTA challenge by Ethyl Corporation, I would wager to say she did not check with the department first.

Getting back to CEPA and its schedule to ban substances, to get a substance on that list, Health Canada first has to declare that it is harmful. I know the statement has been heard in this House on many occasions but it needs to be heard again. It is like talking to a toddler. In order for the toddler to understand what is going on, something must be explained over and over again in simple terms. There certainly is a strong parallel between the learning curve of this Liberal government and that of a toddler: slow and tedious, and they sometimes lose their temper.

On December 6, 1994 Health Canada issued a report entitled "Risk Assessment for the Combustion Products of MMT". It stated: "All analysis indicate that the combustion products of MMT in gasoline do not represent an added health risk to the Canadian population".

On October 18, 1995 a Health Canada official appeared before the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development and concurred that the 1995 report remained the position of the department. I really do not know how many more times government members need to hear that MMT is not harmful to our health. It is not a toxic substance.

From the very beginning Reform has unequivocally stated that it would support the banning of MMT if the government could show through an independent scientific test that MMT was harmful to the automakers onboard diagnostic systems, OBD-IIs, as they are called in the industry.

The Deputy Prime Minister believed the argument of the MVMA and proceeded to draft legislation that would ban MMT from unleaded fuel. The minister's explanation of this was that she believed the results of the MVMA, and who is going to argue with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler? So what has happened is that the minister has exposed herself as a pushover. Any lobby group interested in changing policy should go right to the Deputy Prime Minister because she will grant your every wish.

I would like to say that the current environment minister is maybe better than the first. I would like to say that but I cannot, not in respect of this bill. The minister had the opportunity to scrap the whole bill when the House prorogued but he did not. He too suddenly felt the enormous weight of the MVMA and caved in. Canada has a minister who can neither think nor talk for himself. The minister is in the same category as his predecessor.

It looks to me like Environment Canada is being dictated to by General Motors. If Bill C-29 passes, Canadians can be sure that more substances are going to be banned using the same process of push and shove.

Bill C-29 has essentially become a war between two very powerful groups. On one side we have the automobile manufacturers and on the other side is the manufacturer of MMT as well as the petroleum companies. Both have made cases of why MMT should be banned or why it should not.

The MVMA claimed that MMT gums up onboard diagnostic systems in all late model automobiles and claims that the only reason that onboard lights come on prematurely is the MMT in the gasoline.

However, when I have confronted experts in the auto industry on why onboard lights are also coming on prematurely in the U.S. where MMT is not regularly used in its fuels, they either refuse to answer or simply claim that there are still some minor problems with the systems.

Is it not funny that a malfunction in Canada is related to a gasoline additive while the same malfunction in the U.S. is related to a minor bug in the system?

This is why the bill should never have been introduced in the first place. There is no conclusive proof that MMT is harmful to our health, to our environment or to the cars we drive each day.

It is always the intention of the members of the Reform Party to work with the government on legislation. Like the government, we want what is best for all in Canada. As the member of Parliament for New Westminster-Burnaby, I want to do what I can to represent my constituents in the best way I can. I want to be able to consider every side of an argument and bring forward the best solution.

Bill C-29 did not take all sides into account, nor did it bring forward the best solutions. There was no independent testing, but rather high powered lobbying.

Both the Minister of the Environment and Deputy Prime Minister claim that the results from the MVMA tests prove that MMT should be banned. Unfortunately not only were the tests not made for all to see, they were done in conditions not similar to those in Canada. How can we believe tests that were conducted in a southern U.S. state when Canada never sees climate such as that?

In my opinion both ministers were blindfolded and gagged when they agreed to table the bill. No minister who had any understanding at all would agree to such a bill. It is no wonder why today the Minister for International Trade, the natural resources minister and the Minister of Industry are all furious about the possible passage of this bill.

Reform does not want to see any substance being used that is harmful. This is the spin the Liberals may have taken. But it is just plain wrong. What we are looking for is an independent test conducted by a third party to find out exactly what effect MMT is having on our health, if any, our environment or the onboard diagnostic systems of automobiles.

Recently the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute conducted its own tests with respect to MMT. In its test 144 vehicles were tested for emissions and the interim results indicate that both the emission levels as well as the performance of the OBD systems were excellent.

I simply want to make the House aware that there are tests that prove that MMT poses no harm. Reform is not endorsing the CPPI test. However, the case that we are trying to make is that if both groups are coming up with their own conclusions and if both conclusions have completely opposite results then there is only one viable solution: the government needs to conduct its own test. By not doing so, the minister is going to show Canadians that he does not want to do what is right. He is going to show that the legislation is not constructed using the very best of scientific evidence. I say demonstrate and then legislate.

If this bill passes through the House it will be a sad day for all of Canada. It will prove that the government has put special interests ahead of the interests of Canadians. I only hope that the other place will indeed use its power of sober second thought to shelve this bill indefinitely.

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Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to answer some of the questions raised by the opposition members, the distinguished members for Chicoutimi and New Westminster-Burnaby. In answer to the question has the Minister of the Environment consulted his legal advisors, the answer is a definite yes, otherwise this bill would not have come forward and would not have gone through the drafting process that is due and given to every bill by the Department of Justice.

The member for Chicoutimi was also strong in his intervention on the fact that there was not sufficient consultation with the provinces. Actually the results are in a divided field of opinion and therefore it is incumbent upon the government, at a certain point, to make a decision as to what it thinks is in the best interest of the public and the concerned industries.

The member for Chicoutimi also raised the question of increased NOx emissions but he failed to deal with the question of increased carbon dioxide, NCO emissions, which would result if the diagnostic system were not to function.

Both the members for Chicoutimi and New Westminister-Burnaby dealt with the question of health. Evidently here we see the matter from different perspectives I regret to say. As far as I know manganese is a heavy metal. It contains neurotoxin. In certain respects it is similar to lead. As we did in the 1960s, despite strenuous opposition when we removed the lead from gasoline as an additive, we are now moving into the next phase which is partially technologically driven in now removing another heavy metal, MMT, which is an abbreviation for a complex and long chemical term which includes the heavy metal manganese.

To make it perhaps as concise as I can in the limited time, I would submit that the bill is driven by four major reasons. Basically it boils down to the reason of health. I regret to see that here we have a difference of opinion. However, in order to protect the health of Canadians it is a good step to remove manganese as an additive from gasoline. Here we are taking a measure as a precautionary principle because, as many have already said, quite rightly, the final conclusive proof has not yet come in. However, there is enough evidence to conclude that because it is a heavy metal it is desirable to remove it from the emissions that come into the air which we all breathe.

Second, there is the question of technological progress. We cannot at this stage ignore the fact that the automotive industry is installing certain onboard signalling check systems that would not function with the presence of manganese. Therefore, it becomes imperative to keep pace with technological progress, but that is not all.

This leads me to the third reason which is that we have to protect the consumer. If the car manufacturer indicates that the presence of manganese in gasoline will force the manufacturer to disconnect the diagnostic system, the consumer will no longer be informed as to the malfunctioning of certain parts of the engine and therefore the warranty will be affected. Therefore the consumer will be negatively impacted by this sequence of events.

In order to protect the consumer and in order to give the consumer the benefits and the advantage of the new type of warranty that is emerging as a result of technological progress, something must be done in order to remove the MMT from gasoline. It is an inevitable sequence of events. In other words, we cannot in this Parliament stop technological progress.

The fourth reason, in addition to the consumer protection, in particular of the car owner, and in addition to the protection of the quality of the air we breath, is the one that the distinguished member who spoke so eloquently about ethanol indicated already in his intervention. I am sure that there are members opposite who are very keen on opening opportunities for their rural constituents in industries that are related to corn production and ethanol production. Definitely this bill also will open up opportunities for the industrial use of ethanol, which would enter the stream of additives used by way of removing the MMT additive.

What we are really trying to do is keep up with the times, taking into account health, technological progress, consumer protection because of the warranties in the cars that will be produced in the very near future and also the potential for ethanol producers.

We know, despite the denial on the part of my distinguished colleagues, that MMT causes the malfunctioning of the newest emission control technologies on cars. If that is going to happen, then the result will be more pollutants entering the air. I fail to understand therefore the rationale of some of my colleagues who talk in the same vein as I do, namely in support of public health.

Carbon dioxide emissions would increase as a result of the decreased fuel efficiency if the diagnostic systems on board were not to function because of the presence of this MMT additive. The automakers when we were working in committee indicated to us that if MMT remains in gasoline they will have to disconnect the onboard diagnostic system and provide decreased warranty provisions, the ones I was referring to a moment ago, for consumers. Among them are General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and so on. These are the people who are progressing with their technology. We have to take into account that fact.

I am sure there are automotive manufacturers in Quebec and workers at Saint-Thérèse who would want to see a positive attitude developed with respect to this bill. I am referring in particular to my distinguished colleague in the Bloc Quebecois.

Much has been said of the ban on the uses of MMT in the United States. This has been often raised in debate by the opposition. If I were in the opposition obviously I would do the same. The fact is that even after the ban in the U.S. MMT is still prohibited from use in 37 of the U.S. states.

More important, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the court overturned the ban on MMT because it rejected a certain specific argument. It was only a technical procedural argument, namely that the public health impacts of fuel additives should be fully evaluated prior to broad use. In other words, it was the procedure by which MMT was banned that led to the court decision to overturn the ban. The lifting of that ban says nothing about the potential health effects of MMT. There has been a substantial misinterpretation here.

This is not a war between automobile manufacturers on one side and the U.S. based Ethyl Corporation on the other, as some participants in the debate have said. This is a question of understanding the technological process that is taking place, as I mentioned, and taking health into consideration and, subsequent to that, taking into consideration the car owner and the warranty, which are the driving forces behind this bill.

Who is opposed? As we learned in committee, the opposition comes from one large corporation, Ethyl Corporation of the United States, which exports into Canada the MMT additive. That is the only major, massive opposition that has been mounted. We heard from that corporation, of course, in committee. That is the same corporation which 12 years ago opposed tooth and nail the removal of lead from gasoline. The lobby that it mounted was considerable. Nevertheless, gasoline with lead no longer exists. Ten years from now MMT in gasoline will no longer exist as well. Subsequent generations of legislators will see a connection and a progression from health damaging additives in gasoline being gradually replaced and removed as we learn through technology how to find alternatives which are not health damaging.

Manganese is a heavy metal. It contains neurotoxins, as does lead. There is not a chemist or an engineer who will dispute that point.

As my colleague indicated, we have to move toward cleaner burning fuels. We have to improve fleet performance, increase the performance for every 100 kilometres, both in Canada and the U.S., because the number of motor vehicles on the road is increasing. Therefore, every time the quality of emission controls is improved, the increase in volume does not allow us to make progress as fast as we would like in terms of protecting the public.

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1:45 p.m.


Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address 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 prohibit manganese-based substances, including MMT, which the government and the automotive industry suspect of damaging the anti-pollution systems of cars, even though this product has been used since 1977 to produce the vast majority of unleaded gasolines in Canada.

By the same token, MMT would also be harmful to the environment and to the health of Quebecers and Canadians. However, this is not the case. It has been demonstrated that MMT is not dangerous when used in minimal amounts, such as in gasoline, whether for the environment or for one's health.

Since Health Canada's findings were not the ones expected by the government, it had no choice but to resort to a special act to prohibit interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese-based substances, including MMT. After reprimanding the auditor general, will the Liberals now scold Health Canada's researchers, one wonders.

Environmental concerns or Canadians' health are not the reasons why the federal government wants to legislate in this area. Rather, it is because of the pressures exerted by lobbyists. If it had been proven that MMT is harmful to the environment, to one's health, or to automobiles, the use of this additive would have been banned a long time ago.

In order to better understand the controversy surrounding the use of MMT, we should take a look again at the stakeholders concerned by this issue. First there is Ethyl Corporation, a U.S.-based company. Ethyl produces additives for lubricants and fuels to improve engine performance. It is also the sole exporter of MMT to Canada. MMT is added to fuel in Sarnia, in Ontario.

Second, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, has been fighting Ethyl in court for years now to maintain the ban on MMT. On November 30, the EPA regulations banning MMT were revoked by the U.S. Court of Appeal, District of Columbia. The EPA has announced that it does not intend to appeal that decision.

Third, the automotive manufacturers are against any kind of fuel additive and against MMT. They are threatening to increase the price of Canadian cars and to reduce the scope of their guarantees if MMT is not banned. There is no conclusive evidence showing that MMT is detrimental to cars' anti-pollution system.

Fourth, the oil companies are in favour of MMT for technical reasons. MMT requires less intensive treatment, which means less pollutants from the stacks of plants producing gasoline.

Fifth, the ethanol producers are probably against MMT, since they argue that ethanol would be an excellent alternative to MMT. It is important to note that the Deputy Prime Minister, formerly the Minister of the Environment, is from a region where ethanol is produced in huge volumes.

The ban on MMT is costing a lot of money to the oil industry. These costs amount to $7 million in Quebec alone. Also, the oil companies could start rumours about massive lay-offs and increases in gas prices if the use of MMT is not allowed.

We must not forget also that Canada is facing a $275 million lawsuit by Ethyl Corporation on the principle of free movement of goods included in NAFTA. Personally, I think the Minister of the Environment is taking a big risk that could have repercussions way beyond what he expects, on top of the problems this would cause for Ethyl's Canadian subsidiary.

Last February, the Minister of International Trade wrote to the Minister of the Environment to remind him of that, but it seems that the Minister of the Environment has decided to take the risk of seeing the federal government being sued by Ethyl Corporation or by the American government for having violated the free trade agreement.

Moreover, as I was saying a while ago, banning MMT favours the ethanol industry, which is highly developed in Ontario and in western Canada but which is just starting to develop in Quebec.

I am happy to state the Bloc Quebecois' position. I should remind members that, when the bill was introduced, the Bloc was open to the idea of adopting a law banning the use and the importation of MMT provided it could obtain proof that this substance is indeed harmful to the environment and to our health. The Bloc Quebecois even voted in favour of Bill C-29 so a more detailed study could be done to shed some light in this issue.

However, I must say that it is not the harmful effects of MMT that emerged from these debates and discussions, but rather the stubbornness and the partisan attitude of the Minister of the Environment and his predecessor, the Deputy Prime Minister. Through this action, the Liberal government is showing no respect

for the international trade agreements it has signed and is ignoring the Canadian Constitution with regard to the provinces' responsibilities.

In conclusion, the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to Bill C-29. It has been demonstrated on several occasions that the threat of MMT to the health of Canadians and Quebecers and its potential harmful effect on our cars' emission control systems are totally unfounded.

Moreover, the Liberal government is showing no respect for provincial governments, for the international agreements it has signed and for Canadians and Quebecers. It would be in the Liberals' best interest to find solutions to the real problems instead of looking for solutions to problems that do not exist.

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1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being almost 2 p.m. and rather than another speaker starting a speech, we will go directly to Statements by Members.

Mental Illness Awareness WeekStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, last week from October 13 to 19, Canadians marked National Mental Illness Awareness Week.

One out of five Canadians or six million people will suffer from a mental illness at some point in his or her life. For example, schizophrenia alone affects one in every 100 Canadians.

The cost of mental illness to society is high in terms of impact on health care requirements, loss of productivity and on the individuals it affects.

This year's theme Mental Illness, Teamwork in Service Delivery highlights the role that all of us can play in destigmatizing mental illness. Through public education and awareness we can work to achieve this goal.

I would ask that all my colleagues work to promote mental illness awareness in their constituencies.

The International Poetry FestivalStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the International Poetry Festival was recently held in Trois-Rivières, which has gained international renown as the site of a major cultural event for the past 12 years. Last year, over 100 poets from some 20 countries presented their work.

This poetry festival arouses the interest and relies on the involvement of hundreds of participants of various backgrounds from school children to seniors. I am proud to say that this festival democratizes poetry, as is eloquently demonstrated by the hundreds of poems posted throughout the city and the monument to the unknown poet, the only monument of its kind in the world.

I would like to pay a special tribute to Gaston Bellemare, the festival's founder and driving force, to his team of hundreds of volunteers, and to the various partners who have turned the festival into an event recognized as a great moment in our cultural life.

In Trois-Rivières, democracy rhymes with poetry.

TaxesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, here are the top 10 reasons why taxpayers hate paying taxes to a Liberal government.

Reason No. 10: Grants, grants and more grants, including a grant from Telefilm Canada for a film about the joys of necrophilia.

Reason No. 9: $150,000 spent on propaganda to help Liberal MPs explain why 10 per cent unemployment is a good thing.

Reason No. 8: The gold-plated MP pension plan when other pensioners are being asked to cut back.

Reason No. 7: A $600 billion debt.

Reason No. 6: An unbelievable Liberal standing ovation for a $28 billion deficit.

Reason No. 5: Because of the tax the Liberals promised to kill, scrap and abolish, the GST.

Reason No. 4: The 15 per cent BST on reading material. A little on the BS there.

Reason No. 3: An employment insurance system that overcharges by $5 billion.

Reason No. 2: The office of propaganda Canada and the heritage minister's provocative "plan of the week" unity strategy. The number one reason why taxpayers hate paying taxes to the Liberal government-the heritage minister herself.

Post-Secondary EducationStatements By Members

2 p.m.


John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I joined students from the University of Regina at the Canadian Federation of Students National Day of Action to protest Liberal cutbacks to post-secondary education.

The Liberals' cutting of $2 billion to post-secondary education represents a $2,000 per student cut, a straight offload of federal debt to those who can least afford it: young Canadians.

The Liberals have chosen to declare war on students with major cuts rather than reform the tax system to make the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share. This is another broken promise in a litany of Liberal broken promises. Once again the Liberals have sided with corporate interests over the interests of middle class families. A tax system based on fairness and ability to pay is what Canada needs now.

Today the crisis facing students in Canada because of the Liberal cutbacks is every bit as destructive as any war. Unfair Liberal tax policies support the wealthy and big corporations and threaten the future of Canada.

The Liberal red book has become a red faced book that is killing off future opportunities for today's students.

MiningStatements By Members

October 22nd, 1996 / 2 p.m.


Bonnie Hickey Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate two Newfoundlanders who were named Mining Men of the Year for 1995 by the Northern Miner newspaper and Prospectors of the Year by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. There is no doubt in my mind that they are also qualified as Newfoundland and Labrador's Men of the Year. They are Albert Chislet and Christopher Verbiski.

In 10 years, hundreds of millions of dollars will have been invested in Voisey's Bay, creating thousands of local jobs. In addition, millions of dollars will be pumped back into the provincial and national economies.

It is because of people like Albert Chislet and Christopher Verbiski that this is possible. Because of their expertise, we can look forward to a better future.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, T. Sher Singh of Guelph recently helped organize a rally which was held Saturday in Toronto in support of the CBC.

I recently called on CBC officials to consider membership from their viewers and listeners. TV Ontario is committed to reducing its dependency on government grants from 80 to 60 per cent of its revenues by the end of the decade. The Public Broadcasting System in the United States counts on the support of its viewers for 25 per cent of its revenues.

Now is the time for imagination and new thinking. Many Canadians have indicated to me that the CBC is an important source of entertainment and news.

The CBC's motto this year is: television to call our own. Memberships from Canadians may be a way to truly call the CBC our own.

Small BusinessStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Herb Dhaliwal Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, as this is small business week, I want to speak on the importance of small and medium size businesses to the Canadian economy.

There are nearly 2.4 million small businesses in Canada. Small businesses account for 43 per cent of all private sector business in this country. Sixty per cent of Canada's economic output is produced by small business. Eighty-eight per cent of new job creation comes from companies that employ 50 people or less. These numbers are impressive.

Because we are aware of the crucial role these businesses play in Canada's economic health, we have taken measures to alleviate the burdens placed on them.

Since 1993, 20,000 new businesses have been created. We have worked toward reducing restrictive regulations, paperwork, taxation and duplication. We have improved access to capital, streamlined business registration and efficiency and provided more support services.

Thanks to initiatives such as the program for export market development, Canadian-

Small BusinessStatements By Members

2 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary Centre.