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.