House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for the question and for the compliment on the well researched speech. In regard to the question, I have recognized that the members opposite are in servitude to their whip and I can say with great confidence that up to this point I have never had to go against my whip on a vote.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, first, I wish to thank my colleague from the Alliance Party in regard to her comments on taxation on utilities. She is absolutely right. The GST on utilities is something that seniors or those on fixed incomes just cannot handle. However she also said in her speech that nuclear energy is safe and cheap. Unfortunately she is wrong on both counts.

When it comes to nuclear energy, we have to take in the cost of the byproducts forever. What happens to the nuclear waste? She may well know that there is the Point Lepreau nuclear plant in New Brunswick. Just to get it up to standard will cost close to $900 million, and that is a conservative estimates at best. Following September 11, nuclear power plants are more a target now than they have ever been in their history.

Could she reiterate why she thinks nuclear power is safe and cheap?

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is particularly apropos that he recognizes that people in Ontario are being heavily taxed for their power. That is why a safe, efficient and clean form of electricity is really important to us in Ontario.

In terms of safety, if the member were to look at the accidents and deaths resulting from coal powered plants or the industries that mine and produce the coal for the industries, I think the member would find that there have been far more accidents than in nuclear industry. In fact there have been no deaths in Canada attributed to the nuclear industry.

In terms of cheap, it is becoming more cost effective and will become increasingly so with the implementation of the Kyoto protocol.

In so far as waste goes, only 1% of the fuel, the uranium, is transformed during the process.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her speech. I continue to hear from the chattering group in the NDP a kind of a sucking and blowing sound at the same time. What we have is a group of people who are dead set against nuclear energy creation but totally supportive of the Kyoto accord. Of course it is just silliness.

What I would like the hon. member to comment on is another great thing that is supposed to save the world from all kinds of problems, the Ballard fuel cell. The creator of the Ballard fuel cell was quoted in the paper the other day as saying that we should not sign the Kyoto accord rather we should build more nuclear power plants because we will need them to create enough hydrogen to power the Ballard fuel cell. In other words, this debate about nuclear energy and the Kyoto accord needs to be taken holistically in the sense of how we will create sustainable, long term energy requirements for a western democracy.

Could the member comment on what she sees as the balance between growing energy requirements and the Kyoto accord, which the NDP would have us support but yet would dictate to many Canadians what type of power they would use in the future?

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think part of that sucking and blowing might be the members at the end of the room trying to get their fires started because there will to be a real shortage of energy coming this winter.

I thank the member for the question on the Ballard fuel cells because the beauty of a nuclear reactor is that when it is not generating electricity in its down phase it can be producing the hydrogen necessary to put into the fuel cells. The two technologies really go hand in hand.

Insofar as the balance between Kyoto and our emerging energy needs, it is interesting to note that nuclear generated power is so efficient that had we been allowed to allocate carbon credits toward the use of nuclear energy, Canada would have controlled the entire carbon credit market. That is how beneficial it is in terms of reducing greenhouse gases.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, this has been a very interesting debate in the House on an exceedingly important issue, given the fact that Parliament will be asked to ratify or not to ratify the Kyoto accord.

I draw the attention of the House to a very important fact. There is a lot of misinformation or misnomers about nuclear power. It has its upsides and downsides, particularly with respect to effete fuel rods that are byproducts of nuclear power.

We are concerned about the reduction of pollution of not only greenhouse gas emissions which are not pollution because they are primarily carbon dioxide. However pollution from coal burning generators that produce various particulate matter causes many health problems particularly in southern Ontario and border states.

Here is a very important and interesting fact. With 40% of the global market share Canadian uranium is powering commercial reactors that void over one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

If we want to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions the question arises about how we will do it. It will not magically happen by virtue of doing nothing. We have an obligation to meet our power obligations and the energy requirements of a growing population. How are we to do it?

The answer that we can perhaps adopt is one that involves the adoption of a large array of different energy sources including nuclear power. The utilization of nuclear power in an appropriate setting will reduce pollution, will reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, and will enable us to meet our energy demands.

It is not the whole answer by any means. As I mentioned we have to dispose of the fuel rods. That is a significant problem. There is a potential risk of problems with the reactor that can happen in any event, but we have to accept the fact that nuclear power is here to stay. We must use it in appropriate amounts and in balance with other energy sources.

The other side of the coin is how we meet our Kyoto requirements. How do we reduce our carbon dioxide emissions which are not, I might add, pollution as we have come to know it?

It is sad that Kyoto is a shell game. The way Canada has actually adopted Kyoto is not to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide that we as a country are supposed to do. Through an energy trading scheme we will actually enable our country to produce more greenhouse gas emissions in exchange for giving money to other countries that have larger carbon sinks, which are basically forests. That is what is happening.

All members of the House, including the public who is watching, want to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Will Kyoto as we have organized it do that? The answer is a flat no because it is a shell game of moving around the ability of producing greenhouse gas emissions in exchange for paying money to other countries that do not produce as much as we do.

In effect, if Canada signs on to Kyoto we as a country will not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. That is counterintuitive on the surface but those are the facts. Then the question arises of how we manage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last week I attended a very interesting breakfast meeting with a gentleman by the name of Mr. Anderson who runs a large company in the U.S. His company, a very energy demanding company, produces carpets. It managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. How did the company do that? It did that by being able to conserve energy and increase the efficiencies of the process that entailed less demand.

His thesis is as follows. First, Canada can meet its greenhouse gas emissions under Kyoto and beyond by using available technologies to save energy. In the manner in which we build our buildings using existing technologies we can save huge amounts of money and huge amounts of energy utilization

Second, we need to use existing technologies in a manner in which other industries actually use their energy. There is much we can do in conservation, much we can do in efficiencies of energy utilization, much we can do in terms of increasing the carbon sinks that take carbon dioxide out of the environment and actually turn it into an innocent substance, water. If we crunch the numbers we will be able to meet our Kyoto requirements and beyond.

A man by the name of Ralph Torrie in Ottawa has crunched the numbers. He has come up with a very provocative set of solutions that will enable us to meet and go beyond those emissions standards, which is what we have to do anyway, and not take on the oil patch, interestingly enough. In the end 95% of our Kyoto requirements can be met by using energy resources more efficiently and using existing technologies to save energy, for example, in the manner in which we build buildings. There is much that can be done to build buildings in a way that conserves energy more efficiently. If we do that the energy savings are massive.

If we look back in history we see the manner in which we have employed new technologies to make buildings more efficient and to save energy, particularly with cars. We find that the bulk savings in greenhouse gas emissions and pollution are so large that they dwarf our commitments under Kyoto, which is very interesting.

We are saying that there are solutions out there. People have done the work in our country which demonstrates very clearly that we have the industrial capabilities and the technology to meet our Kyoto requirements and go beyond them. We know our Kyoto requirements will only affect a very small percentage of what we ought to be dealing with in terms of our emissions.

In summary, Canada must employ some key policy initiatives. First, in a rational economy energy should be developed and used in response to the demand for goods and services, not to produce energy for its own sake.

Second, emissions reduction strategies should be based on existing technologies that have been shown to be effective and economic.

Third, in the future Canadians will continue to expect economic growth and social mobility. Our low carbon scenario anticipates that we can have a 50% per capita reduction in GDP.

The implementation plan should not rely on punitive energy taxes. However a good plan should reflect the full cost of each energy option, including the subsidies that currently flow to petroleum and nuclear production, as well as health and environmental costs.

Energy from local small scale sources will encourage greater self-reliance and insulate consumers from geopolitical crises such as what we are seeing in the Middle East and large scale system failures as we have seen in other countries.

Working with these principles, Canada can achieve the following using existing technologies with current economic assumptions. The first is a doubling of the thermal efficiency of residential and commercial buildings. This again means using current technologies in the manner in which we build buildings that increase efficiencies in energy savings.

The second is a doubling of the fuel efficiency of truck fleets. There are technologies that can be applied to trucks that can greatly reduce pollution coming out the other end.

The third involves a tripling of the efficiency of the passenger car fleet and a doubling of the average efficiency of electrical devices including lighting, motors and appliances, a 1% per year improvement in the energy efficiency of industrial output, a phasing out of coal and less demands on other generating plants.

If we do that we will meet our economic targets, save money, meet our environmental standards and have a healthier environment.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his rather great soccer play last night. For the record, members of Parliament lost to the European Union eight to one. We will get them the next time.

The member is absolutely correct when he says that even if we sign and ratify Kyoto the government will not have the courage to meet its commitments. I am in agreement with that. The fact is that anyone who has read Kyoto knows that at best it is the minimum requirements.

He knows very well that we in the western world make up 25% of the world's population. We eat up 75% of the world's resources. He is absolutely correct when he says that many companies are ignoring the government and going ahead with their own greenhouse reductions right now.

The member has a lot of people in his riding and he understands. We hear from the business community that Kyoto would be disastrous for the country and for workers. Yet he also knows that many workers and representatives of CEP, CAW and many others have agreed that Kyoto should be met.

Many of these workers are in his riding. Would he not agree with them? If the workers are ready to ratify Kyoto, why would his party not be ready to ratify Kyoto?

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me preface my comments by saying that my colleague and friend is the coach of our soccer team and did an exemplary job of leading us. We will do better the next time.

The reason our party does not want to support Kyoto is not because we are against reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We want a plan that will truly reduce greenhouse gas emissions without negatively affecting our economy.

Can it be done? Absolutely. That is what I articulated in this plan today. The technology exists today to meet our greenhouse gas emission targets while not affecting our economy. If we use that technology we will be able to do that.

Unfortunately Kyoto is a shell game. My friend knows full well that the government has made this into a shell game. We are to pay countries like Russia to buy the ability to produce greenhouse gases. We will produce the same amount of greenhouse gases and say disingenuously that we have met our commitments.

We have not met our commitments. All we have done is shunted our greenhouse gas emissions to another country by giving it the money to produce more greenhouse gases. That will do absolutely nothing to reduce greenhouse gases.

I ask the member to look at some of the work that has been done. The Sierra Club has done some good work. Ralph Torrie has done some good work. Others have done some excellent work in our country articulating specific solutions that can improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from homes, cars and trucks. If we employ them we will meet our commitments and go beyond them.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like a little clarification from my colleague who did an excellent job in his speech today. Is he suggesting that we have a choice?

It seems on one hand we have a protocol that will lock us into limits on greenhouse gases which other countries do not have. Then, in order to reach those limits, we will have to take from $2 billion to $5 billion per year to pay another country to buy credits from it so that we can meet our standards.

We have information that there will be a tremendous impact on agriculture. The only study that has been done is out of the United States. It indicates that it will cost farm production billions of dollars and depress annual farm incomes by 24% to 48%.

Does the member not think it would be better if we had a made in Canada solution where we work together to set the standards for our own country and then spend our $2 billion to $5 billion in Canada to reach those standards rather than giving it to someone else to buy artificial credits?

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate to explain to the people who are listening what this means. Basically, the way the government has organized this to meet our Kyoto requirements, we as a country will give taxpayer money to a country like Russia. In exchange we will receive the ability to produce more carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions. Then we can say we have met our obligations but we have not in effect reduced our greenhouse gas emissions at all.

In short, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by doubling the thermal efficiency of residential and commercial buildings, doubling the fuel efficiency of truck fleets, tripling the efficiency of car fleets and doubling the average efficiency of electrical devices including lighting, motors and appliances. If we do that we will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and we will go beyond Kyoto.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the question of nuclear safety and regulations is of interest to me. As a resident and the elected representative of an area located in central Quebec, I live very close to the Bécancour nuclear plant, which is about forty minutes north of Drummondville.

Let me just start by saying once again that my party is against Bill C-4.

First, we believe that the hazards relating to nuclear energy require tighter regulations than for any other type of energy.

Second, if financial backers find this too risky an investment, there is no reason for society to see it differently.

Third, the government should focus its efforts on developing clean energy such as wind power.

Finally, where energy is concerned, the Bloc Quebecois also demands, first and foremost, ratification of Kyoto.

What is the purpose of this bill? It amends the legislation to vary the classes of persons that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission may order to take measures to reduce the level of contamination of a place.

Currently, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act allows the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to “order that the owner or occupant or--this is the point Bill C-4 seeks to amend--any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination”.

I understand that the scope of the phrase “any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place” is rather broad. More simply put, this means that any person with an interest may be made to pay should a spill or other problem occur.

It is conceivable that a bank that granted a loan to a nuclear plant could be sued and would have to pay out a lot of money. It then becomes easier to understand the purpose of the bill, which seeks to exempt third parties from possible legal action. It is a way of protecting those likely to finance the nuclear industry.

So the bill seeks to replace “any other person with a right or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination” with a less stringent statement narrower in scope. The amendment would read as follows, “any other person who has the management and control of, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination”.

This amendment would exempt a whole group, including banks, from the obligation to decontaminate. We believe this amendment to the legislation is inappropriate.

The use of nuclear energy involves risks, huge risks. Obviously every technical precaution is taken to avoid an accident that would be both dangerous and costly. The way nuclear plants operate makes it impossible for a fission reaction to get out of control and for a reactor to explode.

However, the reactor's water pipes may break and, in spite of reactor containment, slightly radioactive water might be released as steam into the atmosphere or into surrounding bodies of water.

In the most serious cases, the fuel might melt down and release very radioactive substances into the environment. There might be a power outage that would disable the reactor and its safety systems. This is why there are numerous independent electrical circuits.

Earthquakes, attacks or plane crashes are unlikely events that are taken into account in the design of the plant and during its operation.

It must be said that, in Canada, there has been no serious accident in nuclear plants where the people living nearby were subjected to nuclear radiation. Strong efforts are made by operators to always increase the security and the reliability of reactors. But we must not forget that there is always an element of risk.

Even when everything is fine, the production of radioactive waste has in itself harmful consequences in the long term. As in all industrial activity, the use of energy and radiation produces waste, which comes from power plants, other nuclear installations, nuclear medicine services, research labs, and so on. Nuclear waste is essentially made up of contaminated objects and materials as well as products resulting from uranium fission.

Nuclear waste is classified according to its characteristics: its radioactivity level and its lifespan. Each category of waste is managed differently. Approximately 90% of waste has a short lifespan. The radioactivity of waste will decrease to a level comparable to natural radioactivity in several hundred years. The remaining 10% has a long lifespan.

We ask ourselves this: what will be the impact of nuclear waste on future generations?

The use of nuclear energy raises a lot of questions. For example: is there sufficient data to analyze the biological effects of artificial radioactivity?

I know that serious research on the consequences of significant levels of radiation started with the follow-up on the victims of Hiroshima. An unusually high incidence of breast cancer was detected in that population. Since then, many biological and ecological studies have been conducted, and our knowledge of the effects on humans and on the environment, meaning plants and animals, is ever increasing. Yet numerous questions remain unanswered, like the effects of low levels of radiation.

Here is another question: how can the ground be decontaminated after an accident? The techniques vary depending on the size of the area. Large areas cannot be decontaminated. The only solution is to restrict access, to put strict controls on agricultural production and to avoid the resuspension of radioelements, through fires for example. If the area is small, such as a prairie, the ground can be scoured, since radioactivity is concentrated in the top ten centimetres of soil, and the radioactive waste can then be stored.

For very small areas, chemicals can also be used to wash the contaminated area, but these must then be stored just like waste. It is a costly process.

Let us get back to the Minister of Natural Resources who, in this bill, is proposing an amendment he believes to be of an administrative nature.

We think that if the minister can argue that lenders were facing an unknown financial risk that could be disproportionate to their commercial interest, is the population not facing the same risk should a nuclear accident occur? It is important to ask ourselves that question.

A simple cost-benefit analysis shows that the investment is not worth the risk and, for a bank, the risk of having to pay for decontamination some day is just too great.

If the banks feel the risks are too high, why should we feel otherwise? Why give this energy special treatment, when it is far from being considered clean energy, and when alternatives exist? Why would the government not turn to clean and renewable energies?

It is certainly topical to be discussing responsibility for our environment. We in the Bloc Quebecois are in favour of developing alternative energies and have, moreover, already proposed an investment plan of some $700 million over 5 years to encourage the development of wind energy in Quebec. This plan alone might help create 15,000 jobs in Quebec, in Gaspé for the most part, where jobs are greatly needed.

In the throne speech of last week, the government spoke of its intention to ensure a healthy environment and to rise to the challenge of climate change. We are aware that our geographical position will make us vulnerable to such changes sooner than other countries. The government has made a commitment to meet its obligations as far as greenhouse gas emissions are concerned, and now it must stop hemming and hawing and start taking action. That is why we in the Bloc Quebecois have proposed a major federal wind energy program for the Gaspé.

As I have already mentioned, the Bloc Quebecois has proposed a federal investment program in the wind energy industry of $700 million over five years. This amount is equivalent, on a per capita basis, to the federal aid to Newfoundland for the Hibernia project. The federal government has the means to do so, as proven by its $9.8 billion surplus for fiscal year 2001-02.

The objective is to create a wind power capacity of a minimum of 1,000 megawatts in Quebec, mainly in the Gaspé. In order to accomplish this, a strong wind power industry needs to be developed. I remind hon. members that installation of such an industry would have the potential to create, as a conservative estimate, 15,000 jobs.

That is why the program will focus on the building of plants manufacturing wind turbines. These projects must, of necessity, include a significant local content component as well as an aspect aimed at bolstering regional industry.

Other aspects of the program can provide grants to farmers or landowners interested in this form of energy. The government could, for example, help with the necessary bank loans to purchase equipment at advantageous 10-year interest rates.

As well, the program could also contain elements to facilitate the construction of infrastructure, such as highways or power transmission lines.

Let us get back to the ratification of the Kyoto accord. The position of the Bloc Quebecois on environmental protection has been known for a long time. Incidentally, several city councils my riding of Drummond have sent me resolutions supporting the ratification of the Kyoto protocol. I have given these resolutions to the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, who is a passionate advocate of this issue.

The Quebec National Assembly adopted a unanimous motion supporting the ratification of the Kyoto protocol, but the federal government is constantly dithering, in an attempt to back out of its commitments, while Europe has confirmed that it will ratify the accord. A number of ministers, including the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Industry, have acted as spokespersons for the western oil lobby, in an attempt to impede the ratification process.

Quebec believes that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not only benefit the environment and future generations, but will also promote innovation and new investments that will give new momentum to our economy.

The fact that the environmental impact of climate change is huge for Canada and Quebec cannot be ignored. One does not need to be an expert to see the effects: the increasing frequency of floods and droughts, the damage caused to our natural areas, not to mention the higher incidence of several infectious diseases, are convincing enough.

In February 2001, an article published in the daily La Presse mentioned the following, regarding the fact that the level of water in the St. Lawrence River was getting lower:

The flow of the St. Lawrence River will be reduced, but the rise in the sea level will increase the risk of flooding along the shores. In the Prairies, crops will be affected by drought.

What else? The poorer quality of the air we breath generates astronomical health costs. In June 2002, the Ontario Medical Association said that annual costs amounted to $1 billion because of the greater number of hospitalizations, visits to the emergency room and absenteeism.

At some point, we will have to deal with these issues. Moreover, people, particularly children, are developing more and more allergies. We have yet to deal with the issue of why there is an increasing number of people who are allergic to food items, to dust and to all sorts of things we breathe. It goes without saying that this is related to climate change. Be that as it may, we will have to collect data and do research on this. It is very important that we look at this issue to improve people's health and quality of life.

Since the ratification of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, Quebec has exercised strong leadership on the Canadian scene. After endorsing by decree the objectives of the convention, Quebec implemented a first action plan on climate change in 1996, and a second one in the year 2000.

Following on the unanimous resolution passed in the National Assembly in April 2001, the Government of Quebec came down repeatedly in favour of ratification of the Kyoto protocol by Canada. Because of its dithering, the federal government is preventing Quebec from expressing its views worldwide and playing a leading role in environmental issues.

It is perfectly legitimate for Quebec to expect a positive return on the actions and the decisions made in the past as far as energy and the environment are concerned. We believe that these innovative moves will allow it to maintain its economic growth and the competitiveness of local businesses at every level: interprovincially, continentally and internationally.

In Quebec, we believe that a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can lead to technological innovation that can revitalize our economy. The government of the Parti Quebecois wants the economy to be dynamic.

The development of new technologies, like wind power, gives us the opportunity to set up structuring industries in the regions. The diversification of regional economies would ensure a better future for the next generation.

Moreover, according to a study released by the Analysis and Modelling Group in November 2001 and published by Le Devoir on January 29, 2002, and I quote:

With the ratification of Kyoto, sales of the Canadian environmental industry would go up, from $427 million to $7 billion a year until 2010.

Other benefits worth mentioning include a better environment, which would lead to better health. Social benefits from a more healthy population could reach $500 million a year.

Since I am being shown that I only have one minute left, I will conclude. I could have addressed the issue by talking about the assistance the federal government has already provided to other energy industries. Billions of dollars have been spent on developing industries using fossil fuels, $66 billion to be specific, four times the health budget for Quebec, in the form of direct subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

While wind energy is growing and creating jobs everywhere else in the world, the Liberal government wants to relax the rules to promote the development of a type of energy that involves high costs and risks not only for us, but also for future generations.

That is why I am against Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act .

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member from the Bloc Quebecois for her speech. I know that the Bloc Quebecois in the House year in and year out has stressed environmental concerns and questions on behalf of its constituents. It should be congratulated for that.

One of the greatest fears I have of amending the Nuclear Safety and Control Act is that the Liberal government will continue on the path that it continues on all the time.

Mr. Speaker, you were here when Sergio Marchi was the environment minister and literally overnight changed the laws. Even though the Sierra Club took it to the Supreme Court and lost, the government changed the laws to where it could sell Candu reactors to China and at the same time give China $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars in order to assist in buying them.

This country has also sold Candu reactors to India and Pakistan. It is no coincidence that years later these two countries are testing nuclear weapons. If one were to stretch that argument out, there is a very good chance the nuclear weapons being tested by China could have a Canadian element to them.

I would like the hon. member from the Bloc Quebecois to explain her party's position on Candu reactor or nuclear sales to other countries around the world that may or may not have questionable dealings in nuclear missile technology.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the New Democratic Party for his comments. The information he has just given us is very important. Indeed, if it is not good for us, then nor is it good for other countries.

Today there are alternatives that are less dangerous for people. Earlier a colleague from the Canadian Alliance said that there had not yet been any accidents, and that this was reassuring. Personally, that does not reassure me all that much. Yes, we have been lucky to have escaped an accident like the one Russia had, but we cannot say that there are no risks. We cannot say that there is zero risk.

We should be working on what the Bloc Quebecois proposed: developing alternative measures. For electricity, in terms of energy, this could also be produced with wind energy. We have an example in the Lower St. Lawrence and in the Gaspé Peninsula. This energy benefits everyone. It has been proven to be sustainable and clean.

For those who come from out west, last year the Standing Committee on Finance heard from organizations out west that asked the government to help them set up wind energy facilities. The Prairies are currently experiencing climate-related problems. This year, farmers lived through a disastrous drought. We know this is caused by climate change. People out west cannot deny that they are now experiencing the ill effects of greenhouse gas emissions.

So, these organizations came to tell the government that if it supported them through grants, they would set up wind energy facilities. As in the Gaspé Peninsula, they have the wind required for this energy source to work. They were aware of the great advantages. Furthermore, this energy creates jobs.

Who is saying this? Not I, nor the Bloc Quebecois. The U.S. Department of Energy has stated that wind energy generates more employment per dollar invested than any other technology. It creates five times more jobs than thermal, coal and nuclear energy.

The European Wind Energy Association has estimated that every megawatt of wind energy that is installed creates approximately 60 jobs per year, with another 15-19 jobs directly or indirectly. Consequently, the 3,500 megawatts newly installed in Europe in 1993 apparently created 72,000 jobs. To confirm what the association was saying, in Germany, in 2001, wind energy created employment for more than 30,000 people.

I do not know how I can emphasize any more the importance of developing wind energy, a source of healthy, clean, sustainable and risk-free energy.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate my charming and elegant colleague from Drummond. I could tell during her speech that she is not very enthusiastic about the development of nuclear energy. In fact, she does not seem to be in favour of it at all.

I have one big concern. This morning, we talked about financial protection, about protecting access to funding, about energy development and about exempting lenders from their responsibilities. However there has never been a real study, a real discussion on the use of nuclear energy in this country.

Does my colleague agree with me that we should scrap Bill C-4 and undertake to have real consultation on nuclear energy and alternative energies such as wind energy, which seems to be of particular interest to the member?

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his kind words and also for his most intelligent question, which I will gladly answer.

First, I would certainly throw this bill in the garbage, or rather in the recycling bin to speak in environmental terms.

I am somewhat surprised that such a change is being proposed in this bill aimed at exempting lenders from their responsibilities. They stand to make money from their investments, but they will have no responsibility.

As far as the public is concerned, the government does not see things the same way. The public is also at risk from this type of energy. Even though bankers and investors in this energy will not have to take any risk, the public will have to suffer the consequences should a nuclear disaster ever occur.

Therefore I think that this bill should indeed be thrown in the recycling bin.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to speak to this important bill and I thank as my colleague from Windsor for the work he has done in this regard.

We seem to have strayed away from the debate so for the record I would like to reinstate exactly what we are talking about today. The bill states:

Where, after conducting a hearing, the Commission is satisfied that there is contamination referred to in subsection (1), the Commission may, in addition to filing a notice under subsection (2), order that the owner or occupant of, or any other person who has the management and control of, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination.

That is basically the little change the government is making. The one thing that is offensive is the word “may”. The bill states the commission may do it, but the commission may not do anything and that is a major problem.

I was involved in the union movement for years and in doing collective agreements the word may was considered very vague and ambiguous. One wanted the word “shall”. It has legal meaning from what I understand, and my colleague from Windsor and others are lawyers. I suggest that the government change the word may to the word shall. If it did that, the bill would have much more meaning in ensuring that owners and people who cause contamination or whatever have a legal right to clean up that property.

I spoke on a bill of this nature during the last Parliament. At that time I said that in the end the privatization of nuclear plants will cause higher utility rates for consumers. Also, if something hits the fan, if something catastrophic happens, the owners will simply walk away because no corporation in Canada would have the funds necessary to clean up the mess and the resulting insurance liability.

What would happen? The people of that area would turn to the only place they could: their elected officials. If elected officials are required to assume responsibility in the end, then let us keep these things in public hands until the day comes when a New Democratic government is elected here and we can slowly eliminate nuclear power plants from the face of this country, and for that matter, the face of the earth. They are dangerous.

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1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

With Kyoto you're going to need them.

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1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague says we are going to need them. What we need in Canada is more alternative technologies when it comes to wind energy and solar energy, but just as important is our reduction of energy use. We are energy pigs in this country. We use more energy per capita than any other nation on the planet. That is a fact. Canadians are great people, but when it comes to energy use we are absolutely wasteful.

I want to get a little dig in at my good colleague from Fraser Valley who accused the NDP of sucking and blowing at the same time. I cannot let a comment like that go, particularly when I recall that it was that member who at one time was sitting to the left of me in something called the DRC. He did not know whether he was a Conservative, an Alliance member or an Independent, so he and a few others came up with this thing called the DRC. My colleague from Winnipeg--Transcona then gave one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard in the House, in which he said that this is the House of Commons, not a motel where one checks in under an assumed name. When the good member for Fraser Valley, whom I respect greatly, talks about sucking and blowing at the same time, all he has to do is look in the mirror and he will see who he is really referring to.

However, back to the matter at hand. The reality, as my colleague from Esquimalt said very clearly, is that even we ratify Kyoto we are not going to meet our greenhouse commitments. He is absolutely right. I do not have any confidence that the Liberal government will keep any of its promises or any of its commitments when it comes to the protection of the environment. Of all the budgets that were cut, of all the downsizing of departments since 1995, the environment department took the greatest hit. The government just assumed everything would take care of itself, but the reality is that our environment should be our number one concern, not only for this legislature but for all legislatures across the country. If people cannot drink the water, eat the food and breathe the air we are in serious trouble and nothing else matters. This is what should be our concern.

I want to commend all those companies and individuals that have taken it upon themselves, without direction, to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions, to reduce their energy use. I look at the great province of Nova Scotia and especially the city of Halifax, the Halifax Regional Municipality, which has instituted a very good recycling and composting program where in the span of three years we have reduced our waste by 50%. We are getting better all the time. Our recycling and composting program is a model throughout Canada, if not the world, of how waste and compost materials should be diverted from the general landfills. I encourage anyone who wishes to do the same to come down to the great city of Halifax and have a look at what we have done. They will be amazed. In fact, many people from around the world have seen it.

For my Alliance colleagues and others who disagree that the Kyoto protocol should be signed, all I ask them to do is talk with the workers. The CLC, CEP, CAW and many other union representatives, the workers who the business community says will be affected, have said very clearly after very careful sober thought and reflection that Kyoto must be ratified. These are the workers saying that. Well over 100 major municipalities in the country have signed an accord saying that Kyoto should be ratified. These people are not fools. These people represent labour, independent businesses, corporations, municipalities and everything else. These people do not just sit in a room, raise their hands and say “go for it”. They do this with careful consideration.

I think it is imperative for all members of Parliament to ensure that we listen to those voices out there, because Canadians are very concerned about their environment. They are also very concerned about what happens in their nuclear power plants.

One of the disasters when it comes to nuclear power plants in the country is the Point Lepreau fiasco, which goes on and on. It is a nuclear power plant in New Brunswick. A study has just been done on the Point Lepreau power plant. In order to get it up to speed, another $900 million is needed just to get it going again. That is a conservative estimate; some very good people have researched this and have said it may be even higher.

When people say that nuclear power is cheap, it is simply not true. Nuclear power is extremely expensive in the long run when all factors are taken into consideration. What the government should be doing is ensuring that we immediately go to alternative forms of energy, such as Denmark and other countries have done.

Europe has ratified the Kyoto deal and did it without the falsehood of credits. Again my colleague was correct when he said that the credit system used by the Liberal government is a shell game to slough off the major responsibility. He is absolutely right. Imagine giving taxpayers' dollars to another country and saying “Look at what we have done. Now we have met our Kyoto commitment”. It is simple nonsense. For five years the government has known that Kyoto had to be ratified. For five years it has sat on its hands and done nothing. Now the government is in rush mode in order to tell the provinces and have consultations and give the facade that it is really serious about Kyoto. If the government were really serious about the Kyoto protocol, it would ratify it today, in the House, right now. That would show leadership.

We hear about all the fear of what is going on. We heard those same fears about the legislation for using unleaded gas. We remember very well the leaded gas argument that it was going to destroy the auto industry, it was going to destroy jobs, et cetera.

That was contrary to the truth. The fact is that using unleaded gas is much better, but we need to go much further. If we are to leave any kind of legacy, and I love that word “legacy” for the Prime Minister, it will be not how much money is in our bank account but what kind of planet we leave for our children and our children's children. That should be the key legacy of any member of Parliament, any member of a provincial legislature or any member of a municipal council. What we do to this planet has long term effects down the road. To use scare tactics is not the way. Everyone knows it has to be done, so let us get it done.

I also want to congratulate our former colleague, Mr. Nelson Riis, one of the most respected members of Parliament ever to grace the halls of the House of Commons. He moved a motion a couple of years back which stated that businesses should be allowed to have a tax deduction if they allowed their employees to have a bus pass or a transit pass.

That motion was passed in the House of Commons but we are still waiting for the government to move on it. Many Liberals supported it; in fact, many on the front bench supported it but we are still waiting for the legislation to come forward. Imagine the leadership the federal government would show if it initiated that. All employees would be given a transit pass or bus pass; the employer would get a tax credit and the employees could leave their cars at home. That would go a long way with businesses across the country in meeting the Kyoto commitment.

My colleague from Winnipeg had a motion about energy retrofitting of public buildings which passed in the House, but we are still waiting. The government apparently owns 50,000 units across the country. Those buildings should be retrofitted now. An incredible number of jobs would be created. An incredible amount of energy would be reduced in the long term. An incredible number of small businesses would have the advantage of jobs and contracts from that. It is a win-win situation.

However, we are still waiting for the government to act. I ask the Liberal government in all honesty and gratitude, to turn around this credit system it plans to impose on the Canadian people which will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gases and move toward some constructive solutions that we in the NDP have already provided. We in the NDP have many more suggestions for the government which would not only reduce greenhouse gases but would create jobs and also would create and protect a lot of small businesses in the entire country.

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1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore will have approximately eight minutes remaining on his intervention following question period. It will give him an opportunity to get his second wind, should it be necessary.

Before I go to statements by members, I want to deal with a point of order from the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

October 10th, 2002 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I understand that there would be unanimous consent to permit me to propose, seconded by the hon. members for Saskatoon--Rosetown--Biggar; Laval Centre; Winnipeg--Transcona; and Dauphin--Swan River; and for the House to adopt without debate the following motion. I move:

That the House, noting that Nigeria has signed and ratified many international human rights legal instruments and is a leading proponent of the New Plan for Africa's Development, a central pillar of which is good governance and respect for human rights, and that the government of Nigeria has declared extreme Sharia punishments unconstitutional, request that the President of Nigeria, President Obasanjo, take all necessary steps to prevent the execution of the death sentence against Amina Lawal as in the case of Safiya Hussaini last February.

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1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the House give its unanimous consent for the hon. member to present the motion?

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1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Agreed and so ordered.

(Motion agreed to)