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House of Commons Hansard #128 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, as regards Bill C-60, it is customary in Parliament at third reading for a member of the government to speak first and then be followed by a member of the opposition.

The Liberals decided not to present a speaker. I was on my way to hear the speech by the Liberal member. The spirit of the rules must be followed, but rules should not interpreted to the letter, which would prevent us from speaking on this bill, for which we have moved some 100 amendments and have made a number of suggestions and which will have significant financial impact.

The House and the Liberal majority would be acting in bad faith if they failed to recognize the opposition member due to speak on the subject.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The Chair has heard the arguments and I thank members on all sides for their assistance on this matter but I think the answer is fairly clear.

A quorum call was in progress and hon. members chose to come to the House or not while the bells were ringing. The bells were rung for the purpose of bringing members to the House. With respect, at the end of the quorum call naturally the Chair called for the resumption of debate on the bill which was before the House. Members who were here at the time the quorum call occurred will note that the Chair had put the question on the motion and called for debate but no one had risen to speak because the quorum called intervened.

As your Speaker, I called for debate on the motion and no one rose to debate the motion. I do not want to say something that I should not say concerning the presence or absence of members from the House, but no one rose to speak on the motion. Accordingly, I said: Is the House ready for the question? And the answer was, yes. I then received the document to put the question.

It may be that while the question was being put members entered the House but no one rose to speak while I waited for the document to put the question. I submit that the Chair has acted in accordance with the practices and principles of the House in this matter.

As the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup just said, he was on his way to the House when the question was put to the House. He was too late. He must be here. If the hon. minister does not want to speak at third reading, that is his prerogative, he has no obligation to do so. For personal reasons, he decided not to speak.

As you know, I serve the House, but, in my opinion, the situation is as I described it. There is no point of order, and the matter is closed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, when you checked to see if there was a quorum, were you not supposed to determine if there was a quorum according to the number of members in their seat?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I counted the members in the House. I did not check whether they were all in their seat, but I determined that 20 members were present in the House.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, are you not supposed to count only those members in their seats?

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

With all due respect to the hon. member, I do not think it necessary that every member be at his own seat. It is enough that he be in the House. There were 20 members in the House when the bells stopped ringing. I counted the members myself, and am satisfied the House Standing Orders were followed.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, am I to understand that your ruling, based on the Standing Orders, is that you can count members regardless of where they are in this House for the sake of maintaining quorum?

If that is your ruling, I respect it. It is just that, in making your ruling, I heard you say: "I think that-", which seemed to indicate you were unsure. Could we please check what the Standing Orders say?

If you tell me that is what they say, I will take your word for it. We will do the checking ourselves.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Perhaps I did not make myself clear enough, but the fact is that I was satisfied that there were 20 members present in the House, and that is what our Standing Orders call for. They were not in the galleries, they were here, in the House. I counted 20 members, so that is the end of the matter.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

February 12th, 1997 / 3:45 p.m.

Edmonton Northwest Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

moved that Bill C-23, an act to establish the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the third time and passed.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Dauphin—Swan River Manitoba

Liberal

Marlene Cowling LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am more than pleased to speak in the House today regarding Bill C-23, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

The current legislation in this area is 50 years old. As the minister noted earlier, it suffers from several deficiencies and is outdated. The development application and the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes brings many benefits to Canada. However, it also entails some important responsibilities.

It is high time we had modern legislation to govern the regulation of nuclear activities. The benefits of nuclear technology include a safe and secure supply of energy, some 26,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs and significant export revenues from the sale of Candu reactors and uranium.

Nuclear science has brought us advanced medical treatments, agriculture and scientific applications and real environmental advantages. To maximize these benefits and minimize the risks, Canada has had to take certain precautions to protect public health and safety as well as the environment.

Canadians insist on very high standards for the regulation of nuclear activity, higher than for most other forms of technology.

Since 1946 the agency charged with enforcing those standards, the Atomic Energy Control Board, has done an excellent job. Its vigilance is one reason that Canada has an enviable nuclear safety record. However, the agency needs our help.

I would like to take a few minutes to expand on the role of the AECB and to demonstrate why a new, modern framework is needed to ensure that the nuclear regulatory authority in Canada can continue to fulfil its mandate.

As has already been mentioned, the Atomic Energy Control Act was proclaimed in 1946, shortly after the end of the second world war. Apart from one amendment in 1954, the act has remained essentially unchanged for half a century. During that time there have been dramatic changes in the extent and nature of nuclear activities in Canada and abroad and in society's expectations of government regulations. There has also been a shift in emphasis at the AECB. The agency continues to be concerned with the security of nuclear information and materials. Today, however, most of its activities focus on regulating the health, safety and environmental aspects of nuclear technology.

In fact, these have been the most important issues for the AECB since 1960 when the first health and safety regulations were established under the Atomic Energy Control Act. In the 1970s and 1980s concern for the environment surged to the forefront of the public agenda. This has also helped shape the AECB's modern mandate.

Let me say a few words about how the AECB operates. The AECB is an independent regulatory agency reporting to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. It is directed by a five member board, one of whom is the president of the board.

The president of the board supervises approximately 400 officers and staff. Most of these employees are based at the AECB headquarters in Ottawa-

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening carefully to the hon. member, but I realize I am about the only one here. We do not have a quorum. I am asking for a quorum count, Mr. Speaker.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Sound the bells, please, and summon the members.

And the count having been taken:

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I see a quorum. Resuming debate.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is the House ready for the question? Is the hon. member rising to speak?

Does the hon. member wish to take part in the debate? Are there other members who wish to take part in the debate?

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Deshaies Bloc Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, are we debating Bill C-23, dealing with the nuclear safety commission?

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think you would find that the parliamentary secretary responsible for the very important portfolio of natural resources is in her place and ready to continue the debate.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I am asking if there are members wishing to speak. If members who wish to speak would rise, I would recognize them.

The parliamentary secretary had the floor. I did not see her rising before. If she is rising, I will recognize her so that she can conclude her remarks.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Cowling Liberal Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, let me say-

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, when you asked if someone wished to speak, when we asked for a quorum count, the hon. parliamentary secretary was already in the process of making her speech.

When debate resumed, you said "Resuming debate" and the hon. parliamentary secretary said she did not wish to use the time she had left. That is what I concluded, since she said she was done, so we could proceed to other matters. Following this, our colleague rose and said: "I wish to speak to Bill C-23".

Earlier, we experienced the same situation with Bill C-60 and you did not recognize our colleague, who had not reached his seat. In this case, I do not think you should let the hon. parliamentary secretary carry on, because she clearly stated her desire to end her speech.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I appreciate the comments made by the hon. member for Joliette. I did not hear the hon. parliamentary secretary when she said, as the member pointed out, that she did not wish to continue to speak in this debate.

What I did say was: Resuming debate. No one rose. I said: Do other members wish to speak? At that point two members rose, including the hon. member for Abitibi. I concluded from that, since the parliamentary had already risen, she wished to resume her remarks.

If she said otherwise earlier I did not hear it. She did not rise earlier, I agree, and that is why I asked again: Is there anyone who wishes to speak, because I assumed that the hon. member for Abitibi was going to speak.

I think it is reasonable in the circumstances that the parliamentary secretary conclude her remarks, since the two indicated at the same time that they wished to speak.

Accordingly, I call on the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Dauphin—Swan River Manitoba

Liberal

Marlene Cowling LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, let me say a few words about how the AECB operates.

The AECB is an independent regulatory agency reporting to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. It is directed by a five member board, one of whom is the president of the board.

The president of the board supervises approximately 400 officers and staff. Most of these employees are based at AECB headquarters in Ottawa, with resident inspectors stationed at all nuclear generating stations, at four regional offices and at a uranium mining division in Saskatoon.

Hon. members may be interested to know that the large part of AECB's operating costs are recovered from operators through licensing fees. During 1994-95 licensing fees generated $28 million in revenues, reducing the net cost to the federal government of delivering AECB services to $15 million. This annual expenditure will be further reduced as the board's cost recovery program matures over the next five years.

Canada's approach to nuclear regulation is based on the internationally accepted principle that the operator of nuclear technology is responsible for safety and must justify the proposed use.

The role of the AECB is to set safety standards and to ensure, through a variety of compliance mechanisms, that these standards are met. Like other national nuclear regulatory bodies, the AECB licenses facilities that use nuclear energy or nuclear material.

One way to illustrate the scope of the AECB's regulatory activities is to note that about 4,000 licences or other permits are currently in effect across Canada. These include licences for nuclear reactors, particle accelerators used in industrial and medical applications, uranium mines and refiners, reactor fuel fabrication plants, heavy water plants, radio active waste management facilities and radioisotopes. Radioisotopes are used for everything from medical and research applications to oil and gas well investigations and in consumer products like household smoke detectors. In fact, radioisotopes account for about 90 per cent of AECB licences.

AECB licencees are found throughout Canada. They range from corporate giants like Ontario Hydro to small companies providing inspection services to the industry, to private individuals operating out of-

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to interrupt the member again, but it is once again about quorum. The Liberals are absent from the House. It is not only up to the members of the Bloc to listen-

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Ontario, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed in the position taken by the Bloc members in calling a third time for a quorum count.

Nuclear Safety And Control ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

There must be a quorum in the House. As I do not see one, I ask the following: Call in the members. And the bells having rung :