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House of Commons Hansard #131 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Nuclear DisarmamentOral Question Period

December 13th, 2001 / 3 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Today's decision by George Bush to scrap the 1972 ABM treaty is a body blow to nuclear disarmament which will lead to a new star wars missile defence program and to the militarization of space. The Canadian government has refused up to now to take a stand on NMD saying it is hypothetical.

Will the government now finally get off the fence and tell George Bush that Canadians oppose this dangerous reopening of the nuclear arms race? Will Canada condemn this decision to scrap the ABM treaty?

Nuclear DisarmamentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to recognize that the ABM treaty is a bilateral agreement between the United States and the Russian federation, formerly the Soviet Union, and that the United States has acted within the terms of that treaty in giving six months' notice.

It is the hope of our government that during the process of the six months' notice period the parties will be able to agree on a new strategic framework which not only will include the basis for arms control and disarmament between them, but will also provide a verifiable and transparent system to supervise the reduction in offensive weapons that both parties have promised to initiate.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, during the question period I referred to the matter of the Minister for International Cooperation voting twice. I may have appeared to have been talking about her allegedly voting twice in the federal election. What I was talking about was the issue of her allegedly voting twice during the last municipal election in Toronto, which took place during the federal election. I thought the House would appreciate this clarification.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, that intervention by the Deputy Prime Minister was not clear to all ordinary Canadians. I wonder if he might get up and repeat it.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Certainly we will all have the chance to read it tomorrow in Hansard . Perhaps we will wait for that.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, I was wondering if she was making a list and voting it twice. Maybe you could check on that one.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Herb Gray Liberal Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the hon. member's question referred to her action three times in a row about taking her pension. She might want to have a clarification as well.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

We might but I do not think we will.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I need your help on this one. It is about resolving a difficulty which you know has been on the floor of the House for a number of weeks. I am not sure what can be done. It goes back to a statement made by the minister of HRDC in the House which has proven to be inaccurate.

I want to point out the difficulty this has created, not only for members on this side of the House but, in all generosity, for members on the other side of the House as well. It concerns a well established practice of HRDC to basically allow the early reporting of EI benefits so that EI cheques would not be held up during the holiday season. I am abbreviating this.

As you well know, Mr. Speaker, we all want to enjoy some kind of a Christmas. Usually that means putting groceries on the table, especially for those Canadians who are not working. Now--

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

If this is a point of order, the hon. member will have to abbreviate it further. I hope that he will get directly to the point of order. I have not heard anything yet that indicates a point of order here. He seems to be making a complaint, understandable but not permissible.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for using the word understandable. Where the difficulty arises, which I think is completely understandable, is that if the minister stood in her place and made a statement in the House that would correct the problem.

What she said in the House was that basically we would go back to how we used to do it to allow advance clearance of those cheques. I want to quote the minister and I will also quote other members who put out press releases based on a statement made by a minister in the House. The minister stated in the House on December 7, and I quote from Hansard :

I can confirm for the hon. member that we will ensure, as has been the case in the past, that EI claimants will be able to request in advance a cheque before Christmas.

The key word is cheque. As we have found out and as confirmed by her department today, claimants will get only half a cheque. In the meantime members of parliament have--

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am having trouble hearing what the point of order is that the hon. member is seeking to deal with. It sounds like he is arguing about what the minister said. He made that point during his statement under Standing Order 31 a little earlier, but having made it, what is the point of order? What is the breach of the rules of the House to which the hon. member is referring? I wish he would state that and then maybe we will hear the rest of the arguments, because without that I am afraid he is embarking on a statement that is out of order.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I was seeking your advice at the very beginning and I am still seeking your advice. The point I am making is that other members of the House, myself included, have put out press releases based on a statement made in the House by the minister which she in the meantime has reversed.

It is a reflection on the minister, but in another way it is a reflection on all of us because information that is not accurate is now out there in the public. What I am asking is that the minister stand in her place and apologize for putting out inaccurate information.

Points of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

There we have the nub of it and there, I am afraid, as the hon. member indicated, is the problem. The minister could stand and make a statement if she wants. The hon. member has made his point. If the minister wishes to make a statement on the subject later, no doubt we will hear from the minister.

However, I do not think a point of order has been raised, with regret, despite the hon. member's vigorous assertions. I am sure he is grateful to have had this opportunity to bring the matter before the House.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it being Thursday, I would like to ask the government House leader, what is the business for the rest of today, tomorrow and next week?

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue with the third reading debate on Bill C-27, the nuclear safety bill.

Then we will proceed to the consideration of Bill C-15B, the criminal code amendments, at report stage, followed by the third reading debate on Bill C-43, the technical amendments bill. Consideration of these bills will continue tomorrow.

For next week, which of course commences on January 28, we will resume the budget debate and we will proceed, as quickly as possible after the budget debate concludes, to the legislation emanating from the budget, in other words, the budget implementation bill or bills.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all hon. members and, in particular, the House leaders of various political parties, including those who have gone on to bigger and better things, for their continued co-operation during the entire year 200. They have made this year a productive legislative year. As a matter of fact it has been the most productive year in the five years that I have been House leader. It has been a banner year. I thank all hon. members for making it possible for the House, this parliament and this government to legislate in such an effective way on behalf of Canadians.

The House resumed from December 10 consideration of the motion that Bill C-27, an act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste, be read the third time and passed.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate. I move:

That the question be now put.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to continue with the debate at this time, but I do not understand exactly what the motion that has just been moved is about.

It is my understanding that the question is on the motion for third reading of Bill C-27. I wonder how this can be because, as far as I know, the third reading debate has not yet been completed. Therefore, we should be able to continue with our speeches. We had reached the point where we are allowed to make 20 minute speeches, followed by a 10 minute question period.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Indeed, the hon. member may continue with the debate. However, the debate is now on the motion that the question be now put, which means that no amendment to the motion for third reading of this bill will be permitted, but the debate may indeed continue.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, in one way, I am extremely pleased to speak at third reading of Bill C-27, an act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste.

I am not taking this personally, but I realize that there are fewer people here since I started speaking. Is this because of the speaker, the topic, or the fact that people are anxious to get back to their ridings for the holidays? This is a multiple choice question, and the answer could be none of the above, or even all of the above. I hope there is no connection with the speaker.

Nuclear waste affects everyone. Everyone has questions. Everyone has certain fears triggered by the words nuclear and nuclear waste. Gasoline has been in use for 100 years or so, and coal for several centuries, and we have known for some years that certain fuels we use emit greenhouse gases.

In the 1970s, the nuclear era began. Nuclear technology came to Canada. Today, there are 22 Candu reactors producing electricity, 20 of them in Ontario, 1 in Quebec and 1 in New Brunswick.

We are told that nuclear energy ranks second lowest in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, behind hydro-electricity, of course. Since that time, nuclear energy has been expanding, in the United States, Europe and Japan of course, but also throughout the world.

However, when people describe nuclear energy as better as far as greenhouse gas emissions are concerned, they neglect to mention nuclear waste, a result of this technology. Now there is talk of burying nuclear waste.

In the U.S., the Department of Energy has published a scientific report approving of a nuclear waste burial site; the cost of this was a mere $7 billion over 20 years. Hon. members can see what studies of nuclear waste can involve. Yet electricity is still being produced with nuclear power, and we continue to want to sell our Candu reactors all over the world.

What is special about this bill is that the new waste management organization is to be made up of the key stakeholders of the nuclear world, that is Ontario, Quebec, which has one reactor, and New Brunswick, along with Atomic Energy Canada. There are, therefore a number of specialists and involved parties. Some of the people who submitted briefs to the committee pointed out that this was a bit like letting the fox run the henhouse.

Nuclear waste is a problem that arises out of nuclear technology. We are letting those in the nuclear industry develop a waste management plan. We know that nuclear waste is the albatross around their necks. What are they really going to do?

Bill C-27 was the government's response to the Seaborn panel. On April 25, 2001, the government announced legislation dealing with nuclear fuel waste.

The government, through the Minister of Natural Resources, said, and I quote, “This legislation is the culmination of many years of research, environmental assessments and discussions with stakeholders and the public”.

He also said, “Together with the existing Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the legislation would ensure that the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste would be carried out in the best interests of Canadians—in a safe, environmentally sound, comprehensive, cost-effective and integrated manner”.

Having taken part in the different committee discussions and having heard different witnesses, the minister's words to the effect that the legislation was based on what Canadians wanted seemed quite surprising. When he referred to Canadians, the minister was likely alluding to consultation.

As regards consultation, there was a major consultation when the Seaborn panel was created, in 1989, if my memory serves me well. The report was published in 1998. The panel worked on the issue for close to ten years. It held a multitude of consultations and formulated a number of very good, even excellent, recommendations.

The minister refers to consultation in his report, but I do not know where in the history of this bill there was any real consultation.

We are told that the provinces that use nuclear energy were consulted. We are told that the people who live in and around the main areas where nuclear reactors are located were consulted. However, based on the evidence heard by the committee, if the provinces, including Quebec, were consulted, it was probably by telephone or very informally.

When this legislation was announced, we were told that all the provinces agreed with it. Let us take the example of New Brunswick. The New Brunswick Power Corporation appeared before us and proposed no less than 34 amendments to the bill. There may have been consultations at the time, but the fact that the corporation proposed 34 amendments to a bill that has only about 31 clauses is rather telling. We really wonder about the nature of the consultations that the minister promised at the time.

Environmental protection is another issue. As we know, the Minister of Natural Resources is responsible for the energy sector. However, as far as I am concerned, the nuclear energy issue is an environmental one. To be sure, nuclear waste has an impact on the environment. This was an important issue for most groups, not nuclear energy corporations but groups that submitted briefs or took part in the consultation process. One amendment proposed that at least the bill be under the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment. It was also proposed that in certain clauses of the bill the word environment be included, but that term was avoided in the whole government bill.

When this legislation was introduced, an important point was mentioned. It was said that:

—the bill is based on a totally impartial environmental assessment made by the Seaborn panel over a period of 10 years.

This is what got to me. The government told us that this legislation was based on the work of the Seaborn panel, which was impartial, yet it came up with something like this. Most of the witnesses who took part in the committee's consultation process invariably referred to the Seaborn panel and said that the government did not really understand the panel's recommendations.

The government said that the legislation was based on the Seaborn panel, which was impartial, and it came up with a bill like this, which had most of the witnesses who took part in the committee's consultation process referring to the Seaborn panel. They said that the government had not really understood the panel's recommendation, because they naturally addressed various levels, but there were some very important elements in these recommendations which the government basically dropped.

The panel, I think, highlighted one very important element, which is the creation of a waste management organization. The representatives of the Seaborn panel always recommended the creation of an independent nuclear fuel waste management agency, or NFWMA. The report said that for various reasons many communities had a perception of nuclear energy that was detrimental to the activities and projects of the nuclear industry.

If the government hopes to restore any sort of confidence in a long term nuclear fuel waste management system, it must start off on the right foot this time and create a new agency, with no links to the current producers and owners of waste but with a safety-oriented mandate.

It could not be clearer. Obviously, when it came to its bill, the government was anxious that the waste management organization be made up of the principal stakeholders in the nuclear world. In the bill's definitions, we see that the nuclear energy corporations which are to make up the waste management organization are Ontario Power Generation Inc., Hydro-Québec, New Brunswick Power Corporation, and any other body that owns nuclear fuel waste resulting from the production of electricity by means of a commercial nuclear reactor.

The sole reference to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited is in connection with any assignee of the company. Obviously, one of our proposed amendments had to do with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited being clearly identified along with Ontario Power Generation Inc., Hydro-Québec, and the New Brunswick Power Corporation as one of the actual nuclear energy corporations. We wanted this to be clearly spelled out, but our proposal was rejected.

Furthermore, the Bloc Quebecois was responsible for some 30 or so of the approximately 80 amendments put forward in committee. We were obviously in agreement with the other opposition parties, the Canadian Alliance, the NDP, and the Progressive Conservatives, on a number of points. On more than one occasion, the other opposition parties were agreeably surprised by the amendments we put forward and wondered why they had not thought of them first.

One of the amendments we had proposed concerned clause 6. It came from the recommendations of the Seaborn panel and concerned the creation of a board of directors that would bring together many more stakeholders than are provided for in the current bill, which includes only nuclear energy corporations.

The board would comprise seven people. During committee deliberations, the government was prepared to add more. I recognize my colleague from Jonquière, who has just joined us and who also took part in its deliberations.

She sat on the committee and asked the government some very good questions. Unfortunately, and I empathize with her, she never got very good responses.

The only answer we got, and I have already mentioned this in the House, was no, no, no. With each amendment we proposed, the answer was a flat-out no.

If only it had been a flat out no after what I hope had been careful consideration. But the way it worked was that the Liberal members were always having to consult about what they should answer.

While we were working on the amendment, and my colleague will testify to this, some members were indicating that things made sense, but, when we asked the question they looked around to see who was the cheerleader, and then it was no, no, no.

Anyhow, they missed an opportunity when they voted down the amendment to paragraph ( c ) that we put forward. We were up to eight directors. Initially, there were seven; we added one and had agreed that eight persons could be part of the waste management organization as board members. We were in agreement; we had improved the bill.

Of course, some people who took part in the committee's hearings said they did not want any nuclear energy corporation. We, however, suggested that with regard to the membership of the board of directors we should have two representatives of the nuclear energy corporations. We wanted to hear their views when the time came to make decisions regarding this very important bill because, after all, it is the tool that will be in place to manage our nuclear waste, and that is something people care about. We wanted to hear a different point of view from that of the nuclear energy corporations.

Of course, there was a representative from the government. In many areas of the bill mention is made of the governor in council, which is the government, and actually the Prime Minister, who for all intents and purposes decides what will happen with regard to nuclear waste management.

We wanted to change the provisions of the bill to make the waste management organization accountable to parliament to members of parliament, who are democratically elected. We could have been the voice of those who consistently say they are afraid of nuclear energy. We could have assessed the situation and voted on their behalf, but the government steadfastly refused to make the process transparent by involving members of parliament.

There were representatives from a well known non-governmental organization dealing with the environment. There was a representative from a scientific and technical discipline having to do with nuclear waste management.

Madam Speaker, you are signalling that my time is nearly up. I must say that in your company time flies.

If we had a Christmas present for Canada and Quebec, it would be to withdraw this bill, send it back to the committee and undertake real consultation. If there were another nice Christmas present to give Quebec, it would be for parliament to unanimously say right now that Quebec is a country, a sovereign state.

I take this opportunity to wish every Quebecer and every Canadian very happy holidays. I wish them whatever their minds and hearts desire.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

There is a very good saying that another famous lady once said: “Flattery will get you everywhere”.

I do not know the French equivalent for this expression, but I hope the interpreters understood.

“Flattery will get you everywhere”. It was Mae West.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate my colleagues, the members for Sherbrooke and Jonquière, for the magnificent work they did in committee during the review of this bill.

I also want to thank my colleague, the member for Mercier; we should not forget that she submitted amendments to the House. If I am not mistaken, they were all rejected. This shows clearly how this parliament works, and especially the Liberal majority, which is at liberty to adopt or not adopt the proposed amendments. What did these amendments suggest? Public consultation.

When one looks at the whole issue of importing plutonium into my colleague's riding of Jonquière, one clearly sees that even before the discussion on Bill C-27 the federal government had no intention whatsoever of undertaking public consultation on such issues, even if they were at the forefront of the news or were of the utmost importance for public security.

When I say such issues are important for public security, I am quoting a specialist. These days in the House, it is normal to relate all bills or matters discussed in the House to the issues of the day, particularly with the current war on terrorism.

I will remind members of the remarks made by Don Wiles, a professor of chemistry at Carleton University. As recently as September 23 of this year, he said:

These attacks are an example that shows that the stability of civilization remains fragile to a certain extent and that it is preferable to deal with the issue of nuclear waste in the safest manner possible.

More than ever, we sometimes have the feeling that we are studying bills that are of little or no importance. On the contrary, this issue is fundamental in the context of a war against terrorism. Canada's and Quebec's nuclear facilities must be protected, but most of all the waste coming from these facilities must be stored in safe places that will present no danger to the public.

The amount of nuclear fuel waste in Canada is estimated at 18,000 tonnes. There is only one nuclear plant in Quebec, the Gentilly plant, which stores 3% of Canada's nuclear waste. This is a reality.

I would like to ask a question of my colleague from Sherbrooke. How can he explain that a government like the one opposite rejected the amendments moved by the Bloc with regard to public consultation, regardless of the techniques which could be used and which I will have the opportunity to discuss in a few minutes?

How can he explain that this government rejected the opposition's amendments dealing with public consultation?

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, obviously if I knew the answer to that question and had I known why the government was going to reject all of the amendments proposed by the Bloc Quebecois, the Canadian Alliance, the NDP or the Progressive Conservative Democratic Representative Coalition, I could quite easily have intervened and had our amendments accepted.

As my colleague for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie was saying, Quebec has about 3% of the nuclear waste, Ontario, 90%, and New Brunswick, 2%. Atomic Energy of Canada, with all its activities, produces about 5%. So one may really wonder why the government does not want the public consulted. Consultation was a key word that appeared in all the recommendations of the Seaborn panel.

For it to be acceptable, a nuclear waste management strategy must first enjoy broad public support. It is all very well to introduce any old system or technology to convince people that you have the problems of nuclear waste management under control. If you do not have the confidence of the public, this is all for naught, because at some point you will have to store the waste somewhere. The Canadian Shield was mentioned. Care must be taken here, because Quebec has 95% of the Canadian Shield within its borders.

Does another province, one that produces 90% of the waste, intend to store it elsewhere? This is a legitimate question. At this point, if we were to consult the public, environmental organizations, the public and experts in the waste management and nuclear field, the government might well have to make public its intentions, which at the moment it does not wish to reveal.

I think there was not enough consultation with respect to the bill, because the government figured there had been consultation in the course of the hearings of the Seaborn panel. So it washed its hands of it. However, it is not implementing the recommendations of the panel. The mechanism provided in the bill is the establishment of a committee by management organizations and producers of nuclear waste. It does not necessarily have a clear mandate and clear responsibilities. The management organization does not even have any responsibility for approving the recommendations of the committee as such, and so it becomes a hollow committee. The management organization can appoint whom it wishes to this committee.

There were proposals via various amendments to make consultation mandatory and to also consult the aboriginal people, which was one of the Seaborn recommendations. Given the government's intention of getting this bill passed, consultations would be risky. It would then be forced to start all over from scratch.

There are serious questions about waste management methods, but whose was the initial responsibility for deciding to produce energy this way, knowing it would produce waste that cannot be properly controlled or managed? Who made the choice originally? It would be far better to focus efforts on reducing energy consumption. We know we have become a nation of high energy consumption. This is where the focus must be, on decreasing energy consumption, because it has become too easy to consume. Often what is out of sight is out of mind, but we must take care. Nuclear waste does exist. Ideally, we should get rid of all of it. This should be the focus of research and development, in the same proportion as the profits being made by all of our energy industries, in Canada, the Americas, and the entire world.

All these profits should be reinvested in order to manage energy properly, find renewable energy sources and no longer have the problems we do in connection with pollution, with something that is going to be around for hundreds, indeed thousands of years, and will always represent a risk to the population.

Madam Speaker, in closing I again wish you a happy holiday season.

Nuclear Fuel Waste ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to address this bill, as I did about a week and a half ago.

Bill C-27 was introduced at first reading on April 25, 2001. It is 15 pages long. In my opinion, this bill ought to trigger discussion at the international level, not only on the management of our waste but also on the use of waste as a productive source of energy in the world.

I stress this point, because a month and a half ago I had the opportunity to attend a major international conference in Marrakesh, namely, the seventh conference of the parties to the framework agreement on climate change, to follow up on the Bonn agreement on climate change.

A major development occurred at the conference, in that a consensus led to the drafting of a legal text to the effect that member countries of the conference of the parties—this is an international consensus—should abstain from using nuclear energy as a future source of energy in the world.

As my colleague from Sherbrooke has already pointed out, even though nuclear energy does not produce greenhouse gases, it is a fact that using nuclear fuel waste poses a major threat to public safety. In this regard, I reiterate the Bloc Quebecois position, which would have preferred the term “abstain” in the Marrakesh agreement to have a more direct and legal meaning, closer to the term “prohibit”. This is why the discussion on the use of nuclear fuel waste should go well beyond the management of that waste.

As for the bill before us today, let us not forget that its purpose is, first, to require owners of nuclear fuel waste to assume adequate financial responsibility and, second, to require these owners to carry out their management activities in an integrated, effective and, I might add, safe global fashion, because the threats to public safety are, as I said earlier, obvious and real.

Let us recall that there are three kinds of nuclear waste: waste from nuclear fuel, low level radioactive waste and uranium mine and mill tailings. It is important to mention them, because the different types of waste must not be confused. We can also refer to residual waste, because my colleague from Sherbrooke is also experiencing a situation in which the Eastern Townships may be called upon to become the dumping ground for residual waste produced in the United States. The bill does not deal with this. It deals instead with the first type of waste, that is, nuclear fuel waste.

Let us recall also that in Canada most of this waste comes from nuclear fuel bundles that are currently located, or submerged, as they say, in 22 reactors, especially Candu reactors that use a technology from the end of the 1970s. This waste was for the most part produced towards the end of the 1970s. However, there is a problem today. That is the problem of storing and stocking waste.

Earlier I mentioned that there was an estimated 1.3 million spent nuclear fuel bundles currently submerged in what is known as cooling pools, which corresponds to 18,000 tonnes of waste being stored. However, there is a clear problem. These pools are currently overloaded.

As my colleague, the member for Jonquière, and I have said, not only are these pools overloaded but the infrastructure itself is aging and we most certainly need to make improvements in them.

Everyone agrees on one thing: the current method of storing waste does not constitute a long term solution for Canadians to ensure our public safety. For this reason, it is important to find a better and more efficient way to manage this waste in the years to come.

More specifically, of the 18,000 tonnes of waste currently being stored in Canada, only 3% is located in Quebec, most of which is stored by Hydro-Québec at the Gentilly plant. We have only 3% of the waste, while Ontario, through Ontario Power Generation Inc., with its 20 operational plants, has 90% of the waste. Once again, the 22 Candu reactors produced this waste in the late 1970s.

We must also remember that the New Brunswick Power Corporation, which has only one reactor, is responsible for 5% of all waste. Finally, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, which currently has experimental reactors, is responsible for 2% of the waste. It all adds up to 1.3 million nuclear fuel bundles, 18,000 tonnes, 22 reactors, 20 of them in Ontario, one in Quebec and one in New Brunswick. The remainder of the waste comes from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's experimental reactors.

Storing the waste is not a long term solution. This is why the federal government has implemented a nuclear fuel waste management plan for storage over a 20 year period in the geological layers of the Canadian Shield.

This possibility, which is now on the table, has the support of certain experts. I am thinking of Don Wiles, a chemist at Carleton University, who felt as recently as September 23, and I quote:

—the best solution to the problem remains the burial of nuclear waste in the Canadian Shield—

According to him:

—such waste could be stored for 30,000 years without posing any risk to people or to the environment.

There are in fact some people who favour this form of storage. Let there be no mistake: this is long term storage.

Following the introduction of the federal nuclear fuel waste management plan, the federal government decided in 1989 to create the famous independent Seaborn panel, whose mandate the member for Sherbrooke has spoken to us about.

Basically this panel had two main objectives. The first was clear: to examine the technological merits of the solution proposed. What proposal? The proposal to store waste in the Canadian Shield.

The panel's second objective was to examine the criteria for evaluating safety and accessibility. This is quite a task. One can imagine an independent panel sitting and doing its work over a period of ten years. This represents extensive consultations. I will come back to the recommendations later.

One fundamental issue began to take on importance over the ten years of the panel's existence, and that was the issue of public consultation. I will come back to this in the recommendations. It began to overshadow the evaluation of the technical merits of the solution being proposed. Public consultation became an important issue.

All storage and security aspects of the solution proposed by certain scientists, including the scientist from the Ottawa University whom I quoted, were considered by the panel and through broad public consultation. This was one of the major and main conclusions, and I insist on that point, of the panel.

I will quote one of the conclusions:

Canadian public support is vital to the acceptability of the concept of nuclear waste management. Moreover, safety is only one of the vital elements of acceptability. It must be considered from two complementary angles, namely the technical and social points of view.

Therefore the panel did not limit itself to a simple technical conclusion. It considered all the societal implications of the project. Public consultation was the important aspect. And this is why we are disappointed.

I saw the work done by my two colleagues from Jonquière and Sherbrooke on this issue in committee and I know that my colleague from Mercier has moved amendments in the House which would have made consultation unavoidable under this bill. However, the government rejected those amendments out of hand.

This shows that this government cares about the management of waste only from the technical point of view but not in terms of societal implications or respect for individuals.

When hazardous materials are imported, and my colleague saw plutonium and MOX residue and waste imported into her own area, local communities come together to protest and take a common stand but this government refuses to listen to the people.

The minister and the government have been consistent from the beginning. Nuclear waste was imported into the riding of my colleague from Jonquière. Then this bill was introduced in last April and the government rejected all the amendments moved by the Bloc Quebecois. If there is one thing we can hold against the government, it is that it refused to hold public consultations.

This the people of Quebec will long remember when they see projects like these cropping up in the ridings of our Quebec colleagues. Hon. members will recall how the public rallied around when there was talk of burying nuclear waste in the Canadian Shield and said no to this. The public has a right to be included in the solution. The proposed solutions must not be solely in the hands of scientists and government. There must also be respect for the consultation process and for the transparency Quebecers have a right to demand of their government.

The consultation aspect was therefore a fundamental element of the Seaborn panel, and this has been, basically, translated into the Bloc Quebecois proposals. It must be kept in mind that the Bloc was the direct conduit for the Seaborn conclusions. This government must realize that commissioners cannot be mandated to hold consultations and examine such questions for ten years and then the outcome of their consultations and their work just have brushed aside. This is a totally stupid way to proceed, and one that shows disrespect for the panel and also for the public, which has the right to be consulted and respected as well as included in the process.

We are therefore disappointed to see the government acting this way, disappointed as well to see that this bill includes one other aspect, the creation of nuclear management bodies via trust fund. Our regret, consistent as we are, is that it makes no sense for the energy companies to also be the nuclear management bodies. There must be transparency. Why could the public not be integrated with these management bodies? Why could local communities not be entitled to a seat on these management bodies instead of leaving the big energy companies to themselves to manage the waste they themselves have produced and are now responsible for? This is a disappointment.

It's a disappointment because the proposal these management bodies need to make integrates three important parameters and requires them, keeping in mind that with this bill the federal government will transfer to the provinces full responsibility for waste management while it is in large part responsible, and the energy companies in particular, to present a proposal that integrates, first of all, the method for burial in the Canadian Shield; second, the method for storage at nuclear reactor sites; and third, the method for centralized storage.

It is obvious to us that this bill opens the door to the importation of nuclear waste. We should not forget that under the leadership of my colleague from Jonquière the municipalities mobilized around special events and demonstrations against importing plutonium.

On June 21, 2001, Greenpeace, which is not in the habit of associating with political organizations, did so in order to fight against the importation of plutonium waste.

Since my time is almost up, let me remind the House that the Bloc Quebecois also has condemned the importation of plutonium waste. We fear, and that will be my conclusion on this bill, that this will open the door to the importation of nuclear waste.

I will quote from the conclusion of a press release by Greenpeace on June 21, 2000, “We cannot allow Canada to become a nuclear waste dump”. We too wish to avoid that.

We would have liked the government to support Bloc amendments for greater openness and better management to secure the future of civilization.