Mr. Speaker, it is quite apparent the Bloc is trying to stretch this 50 year effort to finally update this bill to protect Canadians' health and safety with a few shenanigans, but I shall continue. Hopefully, we will get the concerns of Canadians through the House despite that.
As I was saying, there are a number of important objectives in this legislation. We have talked about the need to update the regulatory regime. We have talked about finding a balance.
As well, this bill gives the government the legislative authority to carry out its international obligations. Those international
obligations are very important. For instance, it allows Canada to work toward the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices. We have undertaken important international agreements to try to stop the spread of nuclear weapons in the world. This legislation provides the government the tools it will need to carry out those international agreements. That is another important objective of the bill.
Fourth, all government departments have worked on streamlining the regulatory regime under which Canadians must operate. This bill works toward that end. It works toward ensuring that the carrying out of regulations will be done in an efficient and cost effective manner. That is another important objective of the bill.
There are a number of specific provisions in the bill. I would like to speak to a couple of the provisions which will work toward achieving the objectives of the legislation.
First, the bill will expand the size of the commission from five members to seven members. That will allow more expertise, more representation on the commission, so that when decisions are being made there will be a broader group of individuals with a broader range of expertise. They will be able to make better and more effective decisions.
Second, the bill has increased the level of fines for individuals or corporations which contravene their licences. That is very important. By doing that we will get away from the situation where a company might consider a very minor fine to be simply the cost of doing business and will continue to not follow the rules and regulations. The bill will introduce fines which have real teeth in them. The increased fines will be an incentive to companies to adhere to the rules and regulations of their licences. I am very pleased that the legislation gives the government the power to establish fines at a level which will serve as a deterrent.
Third, in dealing with the regulatory regime, the bill will give the federal government the power to delegate administrative functions to the provinces where they are best able to carry them out. We will be able to get away from the situation where one day a provincial inspector shows up to do one part of the job and the next day a federal inspectors shows up to do another part. That system is very inefficient. This bill will allow the provinces to delegate administrative responsibilities.
Fourth and very important is the whole idea of having public hearings. One of the concerns that we heard during the committee meetings was that there would not be sufficient public input for some of the very important decisions which the commission will have to undertake. Through what was originally in the legislation and through the amendments that were made, based in part on the information we received at committee, the legislation has been changed so that there will be mandatory public hearings where people will be able to review decisions. There will also be an appeal process.
I believe this is a good piece of legislation. It demonstrates clearly that the Minister of Natural Resources, in coming into office and seeing a difficult problem, was able to act. She acted on a legislative regime that had not been updated for 50 years. The Minister of Natural Resources stepped up to the challenge and put before the House good, solid legislation.
This bill was not quickly put together. The committee held six weeks of hearings to gather opinions from a broad range of individuals and groups. We were able to obtain a large amount of input which was used to make the bill better than it was when it was debated in the House at second reading.
This bill is about protecting the health and safety of Canadians. It is not about favouring one part of the country over another, about saying that Quebec gets all of this or Ontario gets all of this or the west gets all of this. That is not what this bill is all about, not what we in this House are about today.
It is about protecting Canadians' health and safety, about ensuring that we have a proper regulatory regime over the nuclear industry in this country, about making sure we protect the health and safety of Canadians.
I become quite fatigued when I hear on a bill that is as important as this, about the health and safety of Canadians, on a bill that deals with moving forward the agenda of protecting Canadians no matter where they live, comments about this part of the country getting more and that part of the country getting more. That has no place in this debate.
What this is about is a good piece of legislation, about protecting Canadians and making sure that the system works.