House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was promise.


Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, there seems to be some confusion about exactly what we are debating here today. The title of Bill C-29 is to regulate the interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances.

This is not about protecting the environment. It is not about members of Parliament making technical decisions beyond their

competency and it is not about this House acting as refereebetween two extremely powerful lobby groups.

This bill is related strictly to international and interprovincial trade, what can be traded and what cannot. Why, therefore, is this bill being brought forward by the Minister of the Environment? This makes no sense at all.

The Liberals have been opposed to the North American Free Trade Agreement in the past but now they are its strongest supporters. If Bill C-29 is passed, there is going to be trouble with our trade partners in the NAFTA agreement. There will be a dispute. This government could save itself embarrassment. It could save the country embarrassment by dropping this whole bill completely.

The Minister for International Trade agrees with what I have said. He is very concerned about the possible passage of this bill. He fears for the reputation of Canada in the international trading community.

I wish to read for the record a letter that the Minister for International Trade wrote to the Minister of the Environment on February 23, 1996:

Dear Sergio:

I understand that you are considering the reintroduction of Bill C-94 in the upcoming session. My department continues to have certain reservations concerning this measure, which I wish to draw to your attention.

One of the original arguments favouring the ban on MMT was that the United States already prohibited its use as a petroleum additive. Recently the U.S. Court of Appeal overturned the U.S. ban. This has effectively removed harmonization arguments in support of Bill C-94. Indeed, since adding MMT to petroleum products is now permissible in the U.S., harmonization would now be promoted by introducing no new Canadian regulations.

An import prohibition on MMT would be inconsistent with Canada's obligations under the WTO and NAFTA: (1) it would constitute an impermissible prohibition on imports, particularly if domestic production, sale and use is not similarly prohibited, and (2) it could not be justified on health or environmental grounds given current scientific evidence.

The United States trade representative-is monitoring the situation closely. There is the possibility that the United States could mount a challenge, either on USTR's own initiative or pursuant to a Section 301 petition; Ethyl Corp., the American producer of MMT, has indicated that it most certainly intends to file such a petition. Also, Ethyl Corp. may try to advance an argument that such a ban would be a measure tantamount to expropriation of Ethyl's investment in Canada. Thus, Canada may also be susceptible to an investor-state challenge under Chapter 11 of the NAFTA.

There has been heated debate surrounding the exact effects of banning MMT. The claims of the automotive and petroleum industries conflict markedly, with little common ground between them. Testing is only now starting in the United States, with unambiguous results some years away.

In view of the Presidential and Congressional elections this year, American politicians are particularly sensitive to any foreign initiative which might injure their domestic industries.

In conclusion, let me stress my department's belief that Bill C-94 should not be re-introduced as it could have many adverse implications for Canadian trade, without compensating environmental benefits.

It is signed by the Minister for International Trade.

I am sure the House is aware that Bill C-94, to which this letter refers, is the precise equivalent of Bill C-29 which we are debating here today.

In view of this, I move:

That all the words after the word "that" be deleted, and the following substituted therefor:

This House declines to give third reading to Bill C-29, An act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese based substances, since the bill fails to address the impact of the import prohibition on certain manganese based substances on international trade.

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12:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The amendment is acceptable. The debate is now on the amendment.

I inadvertently skipped over a speaker. I am going to try to catch up as we go along. I am going to recognize the hon. member for Durham and then, depending on who stands, we will go from there.

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12:35 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not mind being looked over but I do not want to be overlooked.

It gives me great pleasure to speak today on Bill C-29, the MMT legislation and the amendment thereto. Also, I would like to congratulate the Minister of the Environment for having the intestinal fortitude to reintroduce the bill before this legislature.

In Durham on a clear day, as the song goes, we can see forever. On a clear day in the summer sometimes we can see the CN Tower. This summer we saw less and less of the CN Tower as Toronto became smogged in.

People want to take responsibility for the environment and they want to do it in a number of different ways. Our automobile industry is addressing the real concerns people have about how the can take responsibility for the vehicles they drive and indeed in a lot of other industries as well. We have seen this in various areas, the packaging of products and so forth.

The automobile industry has been very responsive to the desire of people to have a clean and safe environment by a number of initiatives. It is moving toward alternative sources of fuel. We had

discussions in this House about the use of ethanol in our gasoline and there are other environmentally sensitive fuels available. In my riding General Motors is a major manufacturer employer and has been a leader in developing these kinds of technologies for its vehicles.

Recently I was surprised to learn that onboard diagnostic systems, which are state of the art, allow people to understand how their vehicles are performing relative to the pollutants.

Many years ago when catalytic converters were first introduced people said "how do we get them off our cars because they are affecting our fuel consumption?" People's attitudes have completely changed. Today that is not the attitude of a common person. People want to find out how they can be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The automobile companies have wisely in their marketing systems realized this and that is why these onboard diagnostic systems exist. They give them the ability to know that their vehicles are performing as best they can and are not polluting the environment as much as possible with our current technology.

General Motors is disabling certain aspects of its onboard diagnostic systems for one very important reason. Manganese based fuel additives cause an 80 per cent residual within engines. As a consequence it creates a situation where the onboard diagnostic system does not work. Here we have a company which is recognizing the desire of people to have a safer and cleaner environment and producing technology to do that but which is unable to basically maintain that because of some of the fuel additives allowed in our gasoline.

There is an ongoing debate about manganese additives but it is the residual build-up within the engine that then turns around and basically makes the onboard diagnostic system not work. Part of that process is that if a catalytic converter is not working properly it should be replaced. People want to know that and those people want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

This legislation addresses that very real concern the average person has. I am surprised at the opposition to this from both opposition parties. I heard one of the Bloc members talk about bringing investment to this country. Some of the biggest investors in this country are the car manufacturing companies. In Ontario one out of six people can trace their jobs directly to automobile production. I am surprised that the Block has taken the position it has because similarly we have a significant plant in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec that is also very interested in dealing with the desires of people to control the environment.

I was pleased to see Maureen Kempston-Darkes, president of the Canadian division of General Motors, announcing that her company and other car makers will introduce leading edge pollution control technologies to further reduce smog-causing emissions from automobiles.

They are not going to continue with that kind of research and development, they are not going to continue with those kinds of solutions to pollution if they do not get the assistance through people like us who will ban the use of MMT as a fuel additive. Clearly those vehicles are not going to perform up to their expectations as long as they have these components within the gasoline they produce.

In conclusion, I am very supportive of the MMT legislation, the banning of MMT. I believe the people of Durham desire to see alternate fuels and other technologies that companies like General Motors will develop to reduce fuel emissions and to create a cleaner air environment not only for us but for generations to come after us.

I look forward to the passage of this bill in all due haste.

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12:45 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in this House to reiterate that the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to Bill C-29.

In fact, after listening to our government colleagues' speeches this morning and the previous speeches at second reading, we are more convinced than ever that every one of us should at this time-I repeat, at this time-vote against Bill C-29.

This bill is aimed at prohibiting the importation into Canada of and the interprovincial trade in MMT, without any serious evidence that it is harmful to health or the environment. It is also in flagrant violation of NAFTA, and we should be particularly careful with this.

The Bloc Quebecois is therefore opposed to this bill at third reading. We stress that we will always oppose Bill C-29 as it now stands, because it is unacceptable for a Minister of the Environment to try to legislate on international trade. We will not support the roundabout way in which the Minister of the Environment is using legislation to ban the importation of and interprovincial trade in a product under the pretext that this product is harmful to health and the environment.

If the Minister of the Environment is really convinced that MMT is dangerous, he should also ban the manufacturing and use of this product. This bill prohibits the importation of this product, but not its use and manufacturing. Yet, according to their fine rhetoric, MMT is harmful to people's health. In that case, why are we still allowed to use and produce it?

Frankly, Bill C-29 is not aimed in the right direction. On the contrary, it still allows the use and production of MMT, but only within a province's borders.

Some Liberal members have accused us of not being concerned with the environment and Canadians' health. You know this is not

true. Like all the members of this House, the members of the Bloc Quebecois are very concerned with the well-being of Quebecers and Canadians alike. That is why we have asked that the government give us clear and irrefutable proof that MMT is harmful.

Without doubting their word, we would like them to prove their point, which they have not been done. I will explain it to some extent in my remarks. When a serious study is available, we will be able to make an informed decision. But so far, the Minister of the Environment and his colleagues have not provided any real reason or hard facts in support of their claim.

At this stage of the debate on Bill C-29, the government has yet to demonstrate the need for such legislation or its merits, which suggests to us that the real reasons for wanting this bill passed are of a purely commercial and electoral nature.

Like his predecessor, the Minister of the Environment is favouring corn producers in western Canada and especially those in Ontario. By banning MMT, whose sole producer is Ethyl, the minister is ensuring that the only alternative to MMT will be ethanol, since fuel without additives is not foreseeable in the short and medium term.

For the Minister of the Environment like for Machiavelli's main character in The Prince , the end justifies the means. It has been clear to us for quite a while already that the minister really cares much less than he says about the environment and the health of Canadians and cares much more about pleasing western and Ontario corn producers, who he hopes will vote Liberal in the next election.

Ignoring every recommendation made by his colleagues in this House, not only Bloc Quebecois and Reform Party members, but also the Minister for International Trade, the Minister of the Environment continues crusading against MMT, but we must recognize that he has a very small army behind him.

To achieve his end, he is prepared to sacrifice millions of dollars in financial compensation to Ethyl, an American company, which filed notice, on September 10, to claim $276 million Canadian in damages from the Canadian government for presumably breaching the provisions of NAFTA. While his government boasts about making job creation its number one priority-they said it over and over during the weekend-the minister is prepared to sacrifice jobs in the oil industry.

He would even go as far as to subject Canadians to yet another hike in the price of gas. Of course, nothing is too costly when one wants to please a lobby.

Despite all opposition, the environment minister and the Liberal government will probably get Bill C-29 passed. However, the government's modus operandi regarding this issue confirms once again the lack of judgment of some of its members.

When will the Liberal government finally act in a responsible and serious manner, as we have been asking, since, once again, the government's action does not make sense.

We tried to put three short questions to the government. Why prohibit a product which, in the opinion of Health Canada, does not pose any risk to the health of Canadians? Unless I am mistaken, Health Canada is a Canadian organization. As I said about Statistics Canada in another speech, if the government is not pleased, it simply removes the chairperson and replaces him or her.

Why prohibit the importation and interprovincial trade of such a product, rather than its production and use? If it is so harmful to one's health, then we should prohibit its production and use.

Why violate a trade agreement which we duly signed and run the risk of having to pay a compensation of $276 million Canadian, if not more? These are the same Liberals that used to be passionate about free trade agreements. Historically, Liberals have been free traders and they should know free trade agreements very well, or at least respect them.

These are the three short questions the environment minister and his colleagues should have answered in earlier speeches. But they did not do so, first because there is no rational answer to these questions, but also because, once again, they simply do as they please. The Liberal government does not care at all about the opinion of Canadians, who protested in large numbers against Bill C-29. As with many other issues, the government turns a deaf ear.

This is a shame. In its present form, Bill C-29 is inappropriate and we have a duty, as members representing Quebecers and Canadians, to oppose this legislation. A number of stakeholders from various areas, including six provincial governments, vigorously oppose Bill C-29. I join my voice to theirs to invite all members of Parliament, including Liberals, to vote against this legislation.

The government must do its homework and table a proper and rigorous bill.

In conclusion, I want to table an amendment to the amendment of the Reform Party to Bill C-29. I propose, seconded by the hon. member for Laurentides:

That the amendment be amended by adding the following:

"and particularly, the impact of the said Bill on trade between Canada and the United States".

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleagues, the amendment to the amendment is in order. We will therefore continue debate.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to say a few words today about the amendment to Bill C-29 which was recently put forward by my colleague from Saskatchewan.

The intent of the amendment is to delay the passage of the bill. In other words, that it not be read a third time until the government adequately addresses the pending import prohibition on certain manganese based substances and the impact of that on our free trade agreements which currently exist. The Reform Party clearly sees a problem with that.

I would like to begin my comments by referring to some key facts about MMT. I noticed there have been a lot of suppositions put forward from both sides of the House during this debate and a lot of innuendo flowing in this place about this subject.

MMT is a gasoline fuel additive which boosts octane in gasoline and increases the efficiency of gasoline production. MMT has been used in almost all Canadian unleaded gasolines since 1977. Canadian motorists have travelled more than an estimated trillion kilometres using gasoline treated with MMT. MMT is the only available gasoline additive in Canada that is capable of reducing nitrogen oxide emissions, NOx, by as much as 20 per cent.

Removing MMT from gasoline will increase nitrogen oxide emissions. Nitrogen oxide emissions cause urban smog. A ban on MMT would have the equivalent effect of adding 1 million cars to Canadian roads by the year 2000.

Two recent studies have concluded that the removal of MMT would increase Canadian nitrogen oxide emissions by 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes annually. This would violate Canada's international treaty agreement signed in Montreal in 1988 promising to freeze nitrogen oxide emissions at the 1987 level.

Test results from the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, the largest approved fuel additives testing program in history, demonstrate clearly that contrary to claims by the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, MMT in Canadian gasoline is fully compatible with new on board diagnostic systems.

Automakers have experienced significant difficulties with the certification of on board diagnostic systems in the United States and the U.S. EPA has stated in the federal register that automobile manufacturers have expressed and demonstrated difficulty in complying with every aspect of the OBD requirements and that such difficulty appears likely to continue into 1996 and 1997 model years.

The United States EPA and the California Air Resources Board have recently changed their regulations to allow for certification of vehicles that do not comply with OBD-II requirements.

Often in this debate the talk is about automobile emissions but no one on the other side of the House talks about the emissions from the refineries during the production of gasoline. MMT allows Canadian refiners to use less intensive refining thereby decreasing refinery emissions of carbon dioxide as well as nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide. It also enables refiners to reduce the aromatic content of gasoline which reduces emissions of benzene. I just add that for clarification to the viewing public.

A lot of facts have been presented to parliamentarians from all parties on this subject. Sometimes it seems that the debate, as was referred to by my hon. colleague when he presented his amendment, often strays quite a bit from the intent of the bill or what the bill actually does. What the bill does is it places a ban on the interprovincial transport or the international importation of the product MMT. That is all it does.

It is said that if we do not do this that possibly it will be harmful or that it will be potentially harmful, or that it will potentially gum up the onboard diagnostic systems of new automobiles. In their speeches hon. members across the way have used words such as "maybe" and "might". If we are going to base the requirement of legislation on the hypothetical, which is what we are doing with this piece of legislation, then I will pose a hypothetical question myself.

If we in this place are going to ban products in Canada, which is what is going to be accomplished with this ban on the transportation of MMT, every time we think there is a potential for harm, how many lawsuits will the Government of Canada have to face? Ultimately how many millions of dollars will the taxpayers of Canada have to pay just because we feel there is some potential for a problem down the road? That is the thrust of what I wish to add to the debate today.

Everyone in the riding I represent is well aware that I have spoken a number of times on this subject over the last year and a half as have many colleagues on both sides of the House. The point was made recently that members from both sides are reaching the point of exhaustion on this subject. I do not know how much more can be said about it.

That is why we are continually concerned that no matter how many points are made on the side opposing this piece of legislation, we see that C-94, which was put forward in the previous session of Parliament, has been brought back to the House as Bill C-29 which we are debating today. We find that no amendments were made, despite all of the debate in this place and all of the points raised on

the part of opposition members of Parliament who tried to bring to the attention of the government the very real concerns out there and the economic impact this is going to have on industry and jobs.

The government says it is concerned about jobs and the continuing high number of unemployed and underemployed in this country of ours. Yet this government has brought in this piece of legislation unamended from the previous session. It is in virtually the same state as it was when Parliament prorogued in January of this year.

I have to question what we are doing in this place. We bring forward points which are then ignored with no reference and legislation is continually forced through this House of Commons because one party enjoys a majority. It really brings into question the whole issue of how Canada is governed and what effect and impact debate in this Chamber ultimately has upon legislation.

With that, I will close. Of course, as the seconder of the amendment I am in total support of it. This government must properly address the concern which, as my hon. colleague noted, was raised in a letter from the hon. Minister for International Trade to his counterpart, the Minister of the Environment some time ago, about what impact this legislation will have on our trading partners and how they view our commitment to the free trade agreement. Until that is properly done and until the study is completed, this bill should be set aside.

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1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Before continuing, I would just like to remind members that the debate is now on the subamendment of the official opposition.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in this House and speak to Bill C-29, which seeks to prohibit the use of manganese based products in leaded gasoline in Canada. It goes about it very indirectly, by prohibiting interprovincial trade and importation from the United States, where the product is manufactured by Ethyl Corporation.

The purpose of this bill is therefore to prohibit the use of manganese based products in leaded gasoline. We in the Bloc Quebecois are opposed to this bill, in its present form anyway, for a number of reasons.

First of all, it is interesting to note the emphasis of government officials on the risk to the environment of products such as MMT. You may have noticed that the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Agriculture spent almost eight minutes of his ten minute speech speaking about the risks and dangers of this additive in leaded gasoline, when this is simply not true. Nowhere in North America has it been shown that the use of manganese based substances in leaded gasoline is dangerous to the environment. There is not a shred of evidence.

Furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has already argued to have this product banned in gasoline, saying that it was a risk to the environment, when this is not the case. Agency spokespersons have not been able to prove it. And not only is it not dangerous for the environment, but, if this product is now prohibited in leaded gasoline, then there really is a risk of creating a problem for the environment. According to studies, this manganese based product reduces emissions of nitrogen oxide that creates the greenhouse effect. This is a dangerous gas that is harmful to the environment. It creates a greenhouse effect, with disastrous consequences that, in some cases, are even world wide in scope.

By banning the use of manganese-based products in leaded gas, we run the risk of increasing the greenhouse effect. Emissions of nitrogen oxide may increase by as much as 20 per cent. The government or its representatives cannot truthfully say they want to ban the use of products like MMT because they are harmful to the environment. The evidence proves the exact opposite is true.

For instance, we are told that MMT may cause problems for car owners because it may lead to deterioration of the exhaust system, which is also clearly unfounded. There is no real reason, no sensible reason for reaching that conclusion.

This product does not create a specific hazard for cars, but in addition, if MMT is removed from leaded gas, this may actually increase the price of cars and the price of gas and also have a rather negative impact on the oil companies, especially in Quebec, because they will have to change their equipment as a result of the ban on MMT. This bill, which aims to ban the use of manganese-based products in leaded gas, has a whole series of negative effects.

Why should the government want to pass a bill, and ulterior motives are a factor, by banning not the product itself, because it is not in itself harmful, but the interprovincial trade in or importation from the United States of the product? Why does the Liberal government insist on doing so, although there is every indication that not only would this be harmful to the environment but it would also have a negative impact on the entire oil industry and the automotive industry in Canada, in addition to the loss of jobs?

Banning interprovincial trade in this product constitutes an intrusion in provincial jurisdictions. That is why six provinces are opposed to this bill. I repeat, this constitutes a federal intrusion in a provincial jurisdiction. Banning the importation of this product from the United States may put Canada in a very uncomfortable position with the U.S., because that would violate NAFTA. If this

bill is passed, Canada will be sued for damages to the tune of $200 or $300 million. Considering the current deficit, this is no time for the government to open the door to legal action.

So why is the government so stubborn, despite all the negative effects this bill may have on the environment and the automotive and petroleum industries, despite the predicted loss of jobs and possible legal action by the United States and the provinces? I will tell you why. The reason is they have decided to create an ethanol industry in Ontario, to create jobs in Ontario at the expense of the other provinces, at the expense of Quebec and at the expense of the entire country.

Sure, the government has the power, and so it can go ahead and develop an industry that is not harmful as such, and I certainly agree there is something to say for the production of ethanol and the use of this product as an additive to unleaded gas. It could be a bonus for farmers.

But doing it in such a roundabout way reminds me, as a Quebecer, of the Borden line, of how the federal government in 1963 managed to move most of the oil refineries into Ontario through a similarly roundabout approach. Montreal lost four out of six, no wonder Montreal is badly off. In those same years, in 1965, the government managed to concentrate the entire automotive industry in Ontario. You will not that Quebec has virtually no automobile industry. It is all in Ontario.

These unfortunate examples demonstrate how, once again, this Liberal government is attempting to concentrate its efforts on Ontario, despite the fact that there are a number of reasons not to do so, as in the case for Bill C-29.

It is patently obvious that removal of this product as an additive to unleaded gasoline will have a strong negative impact on the environment, on the automotive industry, on the petroleum industry. It can mean job losses, and a lot of hassle for the government in the form of lawsuits from the U.S. and the other provinces. This is, in my opinion, bad politics, and is the reason why we in the Bloc are opposed to Bill C-29, at least as it stands at present.

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1:15 p.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise today at third reading of Bill C-29, an act to regulate interprovincial trade in and the importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese-based substances.

This bill has been debated in this House for quite some time, having been introduced as Bill C-94 during the previous session. Although it survived a challenge to the Liberal government's work when the House was prorogued last winter, this bill is the perfect example of the absurdity and lack of logic guiding cabinet, and especially its leader's lack of rigour.

As I pointed out, the government allowed dozens of bills to die on the Order Paper when the House was prorogued. Yet, Bill C-94 survived to become Bill C-29. This is totally absurd. Enough pressure was exerted during the first session for the government to abandon this bill, which, in fact, does not in any way respond to the concerns of the industry, the public, or the various interest groups.

This bill is highly controversial in form as well as content. As far as form is concerned, the government may be using the noble precepts of public health and environmental protection to pass a bill that will benefit only the ethanol industry. I will get back to this outrageous aspect of the bill a little later at the end of my speech.

First, I would like to go back to the substance of Bill C-29, whose main purpose is to ban the addition of MMT to unleaded gasoline. I find it unacceptable for the party in power to be shamelessly spending taxpayers' money in order to pass a bill that not only does not respond to public concerns, but also knowingly creates a conflict situation in which Canada could be sued for close to $300 million under NAFTA.

The situation is quite simple. The government and the automotive industry want MMT banned as a fuel additive because MMT may impair the operation of emission control devices. It does nothing of the kind, at least not according to American, Canadian and European scientific studies published to date. There is no legislation attesting to the harmfulness of MMT as a fuel additive.

This goes to show that there must be more obscure and possibly more partisan reasons pushing the government to have this bill passed, even though the Prime Minister boasts about not having been involved in any scandal.

Let me explain briefly the basis for my remarks. This move to ban the importation of MMT, and especially its trade, has more to do with protectionism than with the public interest, unless it is merely motivated by financial consideration or else support for and contributions to the Liberal Party's election fund. Personally, I have no problem endorsing this view, given the very real motivation the former Minister of the Environment may have, benefits the current incumbent may also be entitled to, incidentally.

They are using scare tactics in saying that adding manganese to fuel is harmful to our health and to the environment. In this respect, the U.S. Court of Appeal has ruled against banning MMT, because it was not established that MMT presented a public health risk.

Incidentally, our American neighbours are much more cautious than us when dealing with environmental issues. Therefore, if the U.S. court of appeal ruled, as regards EPA's challenge concerning

MMT, that the use of this product cannot not be prohibited in the United States, I fail to see why we should prohibit it here in Canada.

Even the EPA, which is well-known in my riding of Frontenac because of the asbestos dispute, made no attempt to challenge this ruling, since the evidence to support such a move is so weak and disorganized. This suggests that such a restrictive measure under NAFTA can be supported by the industry providing the substitute, namely ethanol. The automotive industry is also involved in this attempt to prohibit MMT, even though it does not lead the group lobbying the Liberal caucus.

One wonders about the principles and especially the integrity of some cabinet members, given that the former environment minister is from a region that produces ethanol, while the current minister is also from Ontario. Indeed, one wonders about the real motives of the environment minister. Obviously, an industry as rich as the ethanol industry can be very generous during an election campaign. We are all aware of current economic conditions.

But there is more. We are at third reading of Bill C-29, whose impact is so major that it is now a source of dissension within the Liberal caucus. Bill C-29 directly contravenes several NAFTA provisions. Worse still, Canada faces a potential lawsuit that could reach close to $300 million. In fact, the Minister for International Trade has already told his colleague, the environment minister, about the peculiarity of this situation. Yet, nothing seems to detract the minister and his acolytes from their objective.

Since my time is running out, I will conclude by stressing the danger, for Canadian Parliament, to pass Bill C-29. The official opposition will strongly oppose this legislation, so that, if it is not defeated it can at least be amended so as not to be implemented throughout the country.

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1:25 p.m.


Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Madam Speaker, following on my colleague, I will speak today to Bill C-29, which the government attempts to sell with three main reasons.

First of all, it comes right out and tells us that manganese represents a serious danger to public health. The second reason it gives is that it could result in extensive damage to antipollution systems in vehicles. The third reason it gives is that this bill provides an opportunity to harmonize our policies with those of the United States. These are the three reasons given for the bill.

In my opinion, the government has only one real reason for introducing this bill. It is a question of protectionism. We know that the product that will replace manganese is ethanol. This bill is an attempt to protect ethanol producers in Ontario and western Canada. This, in my view, is the real reason why the government has introduced this bill.

We must not forget that in 1994 the then environment minister and the then health minister positioned themselves with respect to this bill. These two ministers put forward a development program designed to protect ethanol.

Once you have a program, you are talking about money invested. This program has a 70 million dollar budget. There is no turning back; significant funds have been committed. Naturally, the major factories are going to be in Ontario and western Canada.

However, the government is also forgetting that there are important social costs associated with this bill.

Considering the present economic situation, it would be irresponsible to ignore the additional costs that would result if this bill were passed. The petroleum industry mentioned that it would cost $7 million in Quebec alone to bring about the necessary changes. Imagine the millions of dollars it would take across Canada. And someone will have to pay for all this. In the end, it will be the gasoline consumer.

The petroleum industry tells us that automatically, people will be laid off. Today, with the level of unemployment we have in Canada, we cannot afford to let any industry proceed with lay-offs. The order of the day should as follows: put people back to work and let them feel proud of themselves once again. We cannot afford lay-offs in this industry.

And what about damages of $275 million being sought by Ethyl Corporation, an American company that produces manganese? This company alleges that NAFTA has been violated. Do we have so much money in this country that we can afford to take this lightly? Has the Minister of the Environment consulted his legal advisors? At a time when the government is making cuts in social programs and health care, this is a very serious matter. If the government is in such a hurry to spend its money, I suggest it consider how many jobs it could create with that money.

The House will agree that if this bill is passed, it will be a very expensive proposition. So it is rather irresponsible to go ahead with this bill. Furthermore, the government should take the advice of the provinces and act on that advice. Of course we all know the federal government has no respect for the provinces. This has been a long standing rendition.

And in this bill, the government is true to form. We all know that six provinces out of ten vehemently oppose this bill. They are calling for nothing less than its rejection. Interprovincial trade is

threatened, so the provinces have some say in the matter. However, as we all know, the government's attitude is centralist.

In committee and on second reading, we in the Bloc Quebecois tried to have this bill postponed. We urged the government to wait until various studies had been concluded before making a decision, and to consult those who had something to say about the bill and to listen to these people. That is how important the matter is.

We do not need the kind of consultations we had with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans a few months ago, who did not take the process seriously.

I think that the impact on health and the environment is too serious for us to accept this bill. The minister should go back to the drawing board, let more people have their say and also wait until all the studies are in before coming back with a new bill. That is why the Bloc Quebecois will vote against this bill on third reading.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, Madam Speaker, had the Government members accepted the wise amendment proposed by my colleague for Laurentides a while ago, we would no longer be involved in this debate, or at least not for a while.

In the light of the scientific data available in this sector, it seemed obvious that we were lacking certain fundamental information before going ahead with adoption of this bill. Despite the fact that the government has not called for such scientific studies, it is determined to move ahead, thus placing the opposition parties in the position of having to vote against it, despite the fact that the initial positions, at least as far as the Bloc is concerned, were not so black and white. We were saying that we were not categorically against the use of MMT, but did believe that scientific proof was lacking, and it seemed only logical to demand such proof before going any further. That, unfortunately, proved impossible.

It must be understood that the MMT being referred to is, quite simply, an additive in the production of gasoline for cars. The refineries use additives to raise the octane level. Lead is an additive and, in its case, there was proof some time ago that it was a health hazard. The refineries therefore replaced lead with another additive: manganese or MMT.

It is hard to understand the government position, since there are studies underway at this time, preliminary ones at least. The first outcomes of these are not as alarmist as the government would have it. The government is not basing its alarmism on any scientific study whatsoever.

In the first part of this debate, the government side was often heard saying: "If we continue to use MMT, Canada will be a minority of one, for Europe is not using it." Why is it not in use in Europe? Simply because they are still making lead-based gasoline. Two additives are not necessary, only one, and since Europe has not yet got rid of lead in its gasoline, naturally it is not using MMT. The day that it does get rid of lead, however, European companies may be forced to start using MMT, unless some other product is discovered.

The oil companies are not dead set against MMT. They are simply asking for proof that it is harmful to people's health and the environment. Bill C-29 is really anachronistic because not only is it not founded on demonstrable data, but it is also out of sync with the times.

What does Bill C-29 do? It does not ban the use of MMT, but its importation. Let us keep in mind that, not too long ago, the Canadian government and the U.S. administration signed a free trade agreement specifically aimed at eliminating trade barriers between the two countries. Mexico joined the treaty a little later. So banning the importation of MMT goes against the spirit, at least, of the free trade agreement with the U.S.

But Bill C-29 is also anachronistic for another reason. When we signed the free trade deal with the U.S. a few years ago, the Canadian government stated that, once the problem of liberalizing trade between Canada and the U.S. was settled, interprovincial trade barriers should come down. So what does Bill C-29 do? It bans interprovincial trade in MMT. Second anachronistic element: it recreates a barrier after such vigorous condemnation of interprovincial trade barriers.

Finally, since this bill seems somewhat strange and violates the international and interprovincial rules we gave ourselves, why does the government insist on going ahead? It gave us two reasons. It claims that MMT is harmful to people's health. If that were true, it could have-with or without this bill-added MMT to the list of toxic products, and that would have been the end of it. But that is not what it did.

It also claims that it is harmful to the environment based on a ruling by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which did ban the use of MMT at one point. However, this ruling was appealed, and the agency lost its case. In some American states, the use of MMT has become acceptable again.

Not only have the health and environmental reasons not been clearly demonstrated, but according to Ethyl Corporation, which produces MMT, eliminating this product would increase nitrous oxide emissions by close to 20 per cent, which, of course, would have a disastrous impact on the environment and therefore on Canadians' health.

If not for health or environmental reasons, why would the government insist on going ahead? We think that the government was pressured by two lobby groups. First, the auto industry, which claims, without ever having proven it, that the use of MMT would adversely affect antipollution devices.

But it has never been demonstrated that it was. Instead of substantiating its claim, it took the much easier route of simply asking the government to prohibit the interprovincial trade in and importation of the product, making it a non-issue.

The second lobby that probably got involved is that of an emerging industry, namely the ethanol industry. I am not saying that there is something wrong with using ethanol. What I am saying at this time is that, with the science available, we are probably not in a position to safely assume that replacing MMT with another additive like ethanol will not create other problems. We would, of course, have to see what goes into producing ethanol. If it is derived from grains, then we can argue that pesticides and chemical fertilizers may have been used, for instance. If it is made out of wood chips, there would be another problem.

For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois will remain opposed to Bill C-29.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-29 the this government is set to pass exemplifies its ad hoc approach to environmental management. Indeed, Bill C-29 has been introduced at a time when nothing has been clearly established, when the so-called scientific opinion is divided.

As we know, the scientific approach is based on rigour, critical thinking, analysis, precision and objectivity. The least we can say in this case is that Bill C-29 is based on considerations of interest instead of reason.

What is this bill all about? Bill C-29 prohibits the commercial use of MMT, which is, as we know, a manganese-based substance added to unleaded gasoline to increase its octane level, thereby making car engines more efficient. The bill also regulates the interprovincial trade in and importation for commercial purposes of certain manganese-based substances.

At this stage of the debate, we must recognize that there is water in the gas line. Opinions are in fact mixed on the relevance of prohibiting or allowing the use of MMT. Some, like the Minister of the Environment and his predecessor, are for banning manganese-based products because they suspect MMT of being a health risk and impairing the operation emission control systems on cars.

At the time of this bill's tabling, they also wanted this bill passed to harmonize Canadian legislation with that of other countries, the U.S. in particular. As for Ethyl Corporation, the only company producing and exporting MMT to Canada, it believes that, on the contrary, the use of MMT results in a decrease of up to 20 per cent of emissions of nitrogen oxides harmful to the environment. These emissions are responsible for urban smog.

As for auto makers, they claim manganese adversely affects the smooth functioning of new antipollution devices in cars. To this, those who support the use of MMT reply that the findings of scientific studies on this issue are contradictory and that the problems are due primarily to other factors.

Oil companies now support the use of additives. According to them, manganese reduces the consumption of crude oil, increases the octane levels in gasoline, improves engine performance and reduces polluting emissions. We also know that ethanol could become a substitute for manganese. The ethanol industry is located in western Canada and in Ontario, primarily in the region represented by the Deputy Prime Minister, which would therefore benefit from another market.

This is where the problem lies. Remember the announcement made last year by the former environment minister and Deputy Prime Minister about a $70 million investment program to develop ethanol. We are going full speed with nothing to guide us, except the interests of some. Beyond the diverging opinions and studies, some facts remain.

In 1994, the health department conducted a review of these issues. The conclusions reached by Health Canada stress that exposure to manganese does not pose a threat to the health of Canadians and Quebecers. In fact, had the results been different and had MMT been proven to be toxic, Health Canada would have prohibited its use. And, given the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, we would not be here debating Bill C-29. Everything would have been just fine.

Second, everyone, including those who oppose the use of MMT, agree that this product helps reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, even though results of studies may vary. Some talk about a 20 per cent reduction, while others say it is 5 per cent. According to others still, prohibiting the use of MMT could trigger an increase in emissions of nitrogen oxides equivalent to having one million additional cars on the road by the year 2000. Who is right? Which of these estimates is correct? We still do not know.

Third, this bill will generate costs of several million dollars. It will, among others, result in enormous costs to the oil industry, which will have to start making gasoline free of MMT. Once again, consumers and taxpayers will be footing most of the bill.

Finally, there is another factor of no small importance concerning the development of the situation in the United States. A November 1995 ruling by the District of Columbia Court of Appeal recognized that MMT was not harmful to health or to antipollution systems in vehicles. Because of this ruling, MMT can be reintroduced in the United States.

The Minister of the Environment and his predecessor have thus been deprived of one of their main arguments, harmonization with U.S. policy. Now that MMT has been authorized in the United States, Bill C-29, prohibiting its importation, will constitute a unjustified protectionist measure, contrary to the free circulation of goods, the cornerstone of NAFTA. For it is indeed the importation of and interprovincial trade in MMT that is the focus of Bill C-29.

Thus, Bill C-29 will allow national production of MMT and its sale and use within a province. If this product is as harmful as the government claims, why authorize it? The policy is obviously inconsistent.

By prohibiting international and domestic trade, the government is contravening NAFTA and once again trampling on provincial jurisdiction. Despite the Minister for International Trade's warning to the Minister of the Environment last February, the latter is pushing ahead with Bill C-29. The result is that, last September 10, Ethyl Corporation in the United States issued a notice of its intention to file a complaint under the Free Trade Agreement and to seek compensation from the Canadian government of, get ready, almost $300 million, money that may be thrown out the window because of the pigheadedness we are seeing.

While the Liberal government is slashing budgets as never before, it is knowingly gambling with the public purse. This is not right. At the very least, government members should think about what they are doing and put a bit of manganese or ethanol into their arguments, in order to boost their credibility rating.

I would also like to comment on another aspect of this bill. Unintentionally, I imagine, the member for York-Simcoe, in a speech in November 1995, gave the Bloc Quebecois another reason to be critical of the inflexibility of Canadian federalism.

Commenting on an American court ruling in favour of MMT, the member for York-Simcoe said, and I quote: "30 per cent of the United States will continue with the ban on the use of MMT in fuel".

In Canada, the federal government alone decides what additives will be allowed in gasoline. Despite strong opposition by six provinces to Bill C-29, the Minister of the Environment has his mind made up and is refusing to listen to his provincial counterparts. In a country that claims to be the most decentralized in the world and in light of the supposedly new flexible federalism-Plan C, you never know-this attitude is astonishing.

The reasons given by the environment minister for banning the importation of MMT no longer stand up. Whether for reasons of health, damage to antipollution systems, environmental issues, or harmonization of Canadian and U.S. policies, Bill C-29 fails on all counts.

The current debate proves that there are a number of questions outstanding. But the federal government is charging full steam ahead, preferring expediency to any serious logic. There is no doubt that this government is running on empty.

Manganese Based Fuel Additives ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I would permit questions except we are running a little short. What I propose to do is take that very first question from the government whip right after question period. He will be the first one I go to. I could not afford to not go there.

Colouring BoissevainStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Glen McKinnon Liberal Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, the town of Boissevain, Manitoba, strategically located along the junction of Highway 10 and Highway 3, and serving as the gateway to the world famous International Peace Garden, has embarked on a most creative project, namely to preserve its history and culture in the form of larger than life murals on buildings in the community.

The community, originally called Cherry Creek, was named Boissevain in recognition of the efforts of a Dutch financial railway official named Adolph Boissevain who was instrumental in founding that community.

Pictorial perspectives of wild life and agricultural resources, the arrival of the railroad, adventures of the early pioneers, the role and rich traditions of the Metis, the organization and the arrival of Northwest Mounted Police along the Boundary Trail are just some of the themes captured in the 20 murals now visible in the community.

I encourage all colleagues to consider visiting Boissevain and sharing a part of our colourful history.

Gérald LaroseStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, last weekend, the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste named CSN president Gérald Larose patriot of the year. Mr. Larose earned this title by fighting to build a more humane society in which all citizens, whatever their economic and social backgrounds, have the same rights and opportunities.

A staunch sovereignist, he has used all of his skills to serve the Quebec cause to which he is committed. He has always shown absolute confidence in the people of Quebec.

Mr. Larose deserves this tribute for his great generosity and his exceptional contribution to Quebec's democratic life. Mr. Larose's social commitment shows the link between the fight for Quebec sovereignty and the struggle for a more just society.

On behalf of all my colleagues, congratulations, Gérald Larose.

Nishg'A Agreement In PrincipleStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I recently made a submission to a B.C. standing committee with regard to the Nishg'a Agreement in Principle. It is holding public hearings throughout British Columbia.

Contrary to public expectations, these hearings are configured in such a way that no substantive change to the AIP can be achieved.

Last spring the federal government behaved as if it could be changed. Now it is clear that governments are acting as if it is a binding agreement. There is a sense of public disgust because they see no tolerance from governments to vary from their predetermined agenda. The only mandate of this committee is to determine what elements of the AIP are transferable to other B.C. treaty agreements.

All we have heard recently is a deafening silence from the federal minister as the province carries out this sham. It is time for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to honour his earlier commitment for meaningful public input and analysis into the Nisga'a deal.

Health CareStatements By Members

October 28th, 1996 / 2 p.m.


Georgette Sheridan Liberal Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, October 1996 marks the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' national public awareness campaign on menopause.

Supported in this important initiative by partners such as the Osteoporosis Society of Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Pharmaceutical Association and the North American Menopause Society, the SOGC has launched a four-week campaign called "Menopause: Let's Talk About It!"

Thanks to the co-operation of Canadian cable industry members like Shaw Cable, a cross-country series of public dialogues will be televised to ensure maximum community awareness.

Founded in 1944, the SOGC, a voluntary, scientific, non-profit corporation, remains committed to education initiatives for both the public and health care professionals.

Once a taboo subject, menopause has become a topic of great interest. Women are bombarded with information from lay sources, the media and the medical community. To help sort fact from fiction the SOGC's national awareness campaign is designed to inform women of choices available to them during menopause, to provide greater access to information to allow informed decision making and to raise public awareness of menopause and its impact on women's lives.

While the national campaign is-

Health CareStatements By Members

2 p.m.

The Speaker

We are having some minor difficulties with the lights. When I call your name, however, I believe we get transmission. We are working on it to get it cleared up in the next few minutes.

The Death Of Arthur TremblayStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, former Senator Arthur Tremblay died yesterday morning in Quebec City at the age of 79.

He participated in the campaign against Duplessis, worked as a senior government official, became the first Deputy Minister of Education in Quebec history, and was the driving force behind the educational reform of the 1960s. After serving as Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, he was appointed to the Senate in 1979.

As a great servant of the state, he always put Quebec's interests first. He was an architect of the quiet revolution, but his political reflections led him to oppose the unilateral patriation of the Constitution. Bitterly disappointed when the Meech Lake accord failed as a result of Newfoundland and Manitoba's opposition, he joined the sovereignist ranks. As former minister Marc-André Bédard reminded us, Senator Tremblay was a perfectionist, and not the kind of man to take position without careful consideration.

Senator Tremblay will remain a great Quebecer to us all. To his family, I wish to express our sincerest condolences.

Social ProgramsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville—Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are proud of the equality of opportunity that our social programs in health, education and welfare have provided to all Canadians. We must be vigilant to ensure that equality of opportunity continues to prevail.

In Toronto, Ontario's teachers were being vigilant when they marched to warn parents about the erosion of Ontario's education system. In Ottawa, Liberal Party delegates were being vigilant when they addressed the phenomenon of child poverty in the country. They are recommending a national child benefit to lift children out of poverty and to restore equality of opportunity as a hallmark of Canadian citizenship.

As parliamentarians we too must be vigilant so that during our watch we strengthen equality of opportunity for Canadian children. By doing so, we will ensure the future of our nation.

Liberal PartyStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, after the weekend Liberal policy convention we now know how the government develops its policies. It consults empty chairs and empty rooms which pose no difficult questions, resulting in perfect harmony. For the real tough questions Liberals look to the Prime Minister's wife for answers.

A big problem with the Liberal government is that it has placed the wrong ministers in their respective portfolios. For example, the justice minister should be switched to agriculture. Then farmers would be out of prison farming and the real criminals might be behind bars. The heritage minister and the finance minister should reverse their roles so that the CBC could survive the cuts and report to the nation the moment the Liberal government has spent us into bankruptcy. When this happens, they will just look for the minister with the credit cards.

The Liberals swing to the left, they swing to the right and sooner or later they will swing out of sight.

The President Of FranceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau—La Lièvre, QC

Mr. Speaker, anyone who is well informed and honest cannot help but admire French President Jacques Chirac's courage. He acted with conviction and firmness to support the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations.

It is unusual for a head of state to come and take a personal look at a situation like that of the Palestinians. He is convinced that the peace process can succeed if the parties comply with the terms of the Oslo agreement providing for Palestinian self-government on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

He is asking the Palestinians primarily to resist the temptation of violence, despite the stalling of the peace process and the frustrations and humiliations they must face every day.

Middle EastStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Middle East peace process is much like a long journey, waiting for that small first step in order to begin. Yet such as step is there for the taking.

This week marks the fifth anniversary of Israeli airman Ron Arad's joining the ranks of soldiers missing in action. He is not alone. There are a host of other MIAs who have been awaiting release since 1982. Their families have been calling for their liberation but to little avail.

It is time that their captors heeded the expressions of concern on their behalf forwarded by the global community and, in particular, by Canada. On a humanitarian basis, their release is long overdue. Moreover, such action would contribute substantially to peace initiatives since the release of MIAs would represent a powerful confidence building measure.

From a social and political perspective the return of MIAs makes sense. Canada should generate a chorus of like minded countries to urge Iran, Syria and others capable of affecting the repatriation of MIAs to act without delay.

Liberal PartyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the delegates at the national Liberal convention held in Ottawa this past weekend have achieved a consensus on a number of important issues.

It should be noted that our government's deficit reduction strategy has received overwhelming endorsement from convention delegates. Diversion tactics such as tax reductions, as attractive as they may be in the short term, would jeopardize the government's fiscal health.

Liberals from all over the country have chosen to support a strategy that will lead to the complete elimination of the deficit by the turn of this century. That is how we will ensure job creation, sustainable social programs and real economic recovery.

Liberal PartyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend Liberal delegates from across Canada assembled in Ottawa for the 1996 biennial convention. Convention delegates were united in their support and encouraged the government to stay the course for continued success in deficit reduction.

The government is on track to meet or better its deficit target of $24.3 billion or 3 per cent of GDP this current year; $17 billion in 1997-98 and in 1998-99 the deficit target is $9 billion or approximately 1 per cent of GDP. This means it will no longer need to go to the financial markets for new borrowing requirements.

Interest rates are as low as they have been in 30 years. Inflation is under control and the government's number one priority of job creation is working as business and industry create thousands of new jobs across Canada.

We will be faced with new challenges that we will accept and overcome as we have to date while building a better tomorrow for all Canadians.