Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Ontario.
I am very pleased to have an opportunity to speak on Bill C-23. As the chairman of the natural resources committee, I had an opportunity, along with many of my colleagues from all sides of the House, to study the bill in detail. A large number of witnesses came forward to provide us with a number of opinions, and concerns in some cases, about the bill.
I was pleased to see that during the report stage of this legislation that a number of changes were proposed by the government and were eventually incorporated into this bill.
I would like to take a moment to thank all of those people who took the time to testify before us as well as to thank my fellow members on the committee, many of whom are sitting here in the House right now, for the work that they did.
It is most important to recognize that this legislation is an attempt to find an appropriate balance. On the one hand it is an attempt to find a balance between ensuring the beneficial use of nuclear substances for the generation of power, medical research and medical technology, and on the other hand it is an attempt in putting in place a regulatory regime that ensures public safety and public health.
That is the balance that has to be found when dealing with the nuclear industry. Bill C-23 does just that. It gets that balance. It puts it in place and does it properly.
As some of the other speakers have mentioned previously in debate, this legislation is long overdue. The original legislation governing nuclear energy was passed in 1946. That is over 50 years ago. It was a time when the primary concern was one of national security, as opposed to one of public health and safety.
This legislation is long overdue and I applaud the Minister of Natural Resources for assuming the responsibility and after 50 some odd years bringing new legislation into the House that reflects the realities of the 1990s. Today we are far more concerned with the issues of health and safety than the concerns of national security.
As I mentioned in my opening comments, the bill looks to create a balance. I would like to quote clause 3 of the bill which deals with its purpose: "The purpose of this act is to provide for the development, production and use of nuclear energy and the production, possession and use of nuclear substances, prescribed equipment and prescribed information in a manner than prevents an unreasonable risk to national security, the environment or the health and safety of persons and is consistent with Canada's international obligations".