This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

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

Access to Information

10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I have the honour to place on the table pursuant to section 39(1) of the Access to Information Act, a special report to Parliament entitled “Response to the Report of the Access to Information Review Task Force”.

This document is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

Supreme Court of Canada AppointmentRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a copy of the commission constituting the Hon. Marie Deschamps, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, Deputy of the Governor General, to do, in Her Excellency's name, all acts on her part necessary to be done during Her Excellency's pleasure, dated August 7, 2002.

Order in Council AppointmentsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I also am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments made recently by the government.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 10th, 2002 / 10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to five petitions.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This week we raised a very specific problem with the Chair, and the situation is repeating itself today. I would like to draw it to your attention.

A little earlier this week, we were indignant about the softwood lumber assistance plan not being tabled in the House of Commons, as it should have been, but elsewhere instead.

To some extent, you agreed with us and I would remind you that, this morning, I was expecting the Minister of Public Works to table the internal audit report concerning the sponsorship program.

We have learned from the current events on the Hill for today that the Minister of Public Works is going to release the internal audit report on the sponsorship scandal at 2 p.m. today outside this House, whereas this is supposed to be done in the House of Commons.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you this: does this not go directly against the argument we made earlier this week in this House, namely that important documents should be tabled in the House of Commons at the appropriate time?

Also, to conclude, I emphasize that tabling the internal investigation report at 2 o'clock this afternoon, outside the House of Commons, denies the opposition access to the document to analyze it and question the government in the House of Commons today, Thursday, this being the last significant oral question period before next week's recess. In other words, by not abiding by the spirit of the Standing Orders, the Minister of Public Works is gagging the opposition, preventing us from doing our job on this issue, where the government is involved in one of the worst scandals to date.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you remind the hon. Minister of Public Works that the document in question ought to be tabled in this place at 10 o'clock this morning, so that opposition members can use it to question the government about the sponsorship scandal. Instead, they are gagging us, ignoring the rights of the House and of its members, and going against the spirit of the Standing Orders and what was advocated in this place this week.

The fact that such a major report is scheduled to be tabled at the very time that statements by members and oral question period get under way start speaks volumes about the public works minister's desire to deny parliamentarians the chance, just before the recess, to see all that is contained in this report, hoping that this news will become old news over our week off.

On behalf of the Bloc Quebecois—and of all opposition parties, I am sure—I must say I find it unacceptable that we should be prevented from questioning the government on such an incriminating report. I ask that you remind the government of its obligation to table important documents in the appropriate place, that is in the House of Commons, and at the appropriate time, not when it suits the government, to prevent us from asking questions.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, very briefly, if the member will be patient, I will leave the House in a few minutes to get some information on this and I will come back to make a point of order in 15 or 20 minutes to inform the House about this.

As is the case every morning, we have taken a look at all the major issues. I must say that I was not aware of this one. As is often the case, I had the opportunity to talk with my counterparts from the opposition earlier this morning and they did not raise this issue either.

I will get some information right now and I will report to the House by making a point of order in a few minutes, after the bills are introduced in the House.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

We will wait for the leader of the government to report back.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the government House leader's intervention but it does not necessarily end the point of order. It seems to me that the government House leader should realize that the government has an opportunity here to make good on whatever contrition it felt as a result of what happened earlier in the week. Therefore I would certainly urge the government to take seriously the objections of the House leader of the Bloc Quebecois with respect to this matter and make sure that the House for once is properly respected with respect to the kind of information the government intends to make available later this afternoon.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

As you have said it so well, let us give the government a chance to work on this problem.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-14, an act providing for controls on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and for a certification scheme for their export in order to meet Canada's obligations under the Kimberley Process.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

The Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

moved for leave to introduce BillC-226, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 (investment criteria).

Mr. Speaker, the text of this bill amends the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, to require the administrators of pension funds to prepare an annual report on the social, ethical and environmental factors that have been considered in the selection, retention and liquidation of investments.

I remind the House that half the money traded on world financial markets belong to small investors in pension funds. This represents about $90 billion for businesses under federal control. This bill would provide a better framework for investments.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Vimy Ridge Day ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma—Manitoulin, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-227, an act respecting a national day of remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, I ask that the bill be reinstated at the same stage that it was when the session broke, which was that it had concluded second reading and was referred to the heritage committee. I appreciate the agreement of the House at that time.

I just want to point out that the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which took place on April 9, 1917, was a turning point in World War I. The Canadians, who fought together with numerous battalions for the first time and under Canadian command, took Vimy Ridge, which was a turning point in World War I, and earned Canada a place at the table of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

I want to thank Bob Manuel of Elliot Lake for his great effort to bring a citizen's initiative like this forward. For greater clarity, April 9 of each year would not be a statutory holiday but a day of recognition of this very important historical event.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Vimy Ridge Day ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The Chair is satisfied that the bill is in the same form as Bill C-409 was at the time of prorogation of the first session, 37th Parliament. Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 86(1), the bill is deemed read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Jeannot Castonguay Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the pleasure of submitting two petitions signed by constituents of Edmonton West, who condemn any form of creation and use of child pornography.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to protect our children and take all necessary steps to ensure that all material that promotes and glorifies pedophilia and sadomasochism be declared illegal.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions this morning. The first has to do with the softwood lumber dispute. There are some 150 signatures from the people of Port Alberni, Parksville, Duncan and other coastal communities. The petition has even greater significance in light of the fact that there were four more mill closures just one week ago today and some 500 more jobs lost in a community of about 18,000.

The petitioners are calling upon the government to act speedily to end this softwood lumber dispute. Further, they are calling for a ban on the export of logs to the United States while this dispute continues.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition has to do with stem cell research. In light of the fact that just yesterday Bill C-56 was reintroduced to the House the importance of these signatures is even more significant.

The petitioners are taking note of debilitating diseases, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injury, noting that ethical stem cell research offers an opportunity to advance cures for these conditions.

The petitioners further take note of the fact that adult stem cell research avoids the complication of tissue rejection and anti-rejection drugs. They encourage Parliament to consider wholehearted support for adult stem cell research.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of some 400 constituents in my riding of Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca who would like changes to the Coast Guard diving regulations.

The petitioners would like to see the Coast Guard made an independent body, whose priority is the saving of lives, separate from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with all the necessary resources for staffing and equipment, including a new Hovercraft, to enable it to perform the rescues of those in peril.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Bonwick Liberal Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions this morning to present to the House on behalf of the residents of Simcoe--Grey. The first petition concerns child pornography.

Residents of Canada draw the attention of the House to the following: that the creation and use of child pornography is condemned by the clear majority of Canadians; and that the courts have not applied the current child pornography laws in a way which makes it clear that such exploitation of children will always be met with swift punishment.

The petitioners therefore call upon Parliament to protect their children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophiles or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Bonwick Liberal Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is on behalf of residents in the south end of my riding. The petition deals with stem cell research. There are over 300 signatures on it.

Residents of Canada draw the attention of the House to the following: that hundreds of thousands of Canadians suffer from debilitating illnesses and diseases, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injury; that Canadians support ethical stem cell research which has always shown encouraging potential to provide cures and therapies for these illnesses and diseases; and that non-embryonic stem cells, which are also known as adult stem cells, have shown significant research progress without the immune rejection or ethical problems associated with embryonic stem cells.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to focus its legislative support on adult stem cell research to find cures and therapies necessary to treat the illnesses and diseases of suffering Canadians.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am presenting two petitions signed by more than 1,000 petitioners. The petitions concern the redistribution of economic regions for employment insurance purposes.

The changes in EI economic region boundaries in Manicouagan and Charlevoix are causing serious hardship to the people of these two ridings. Furthermore, the proposition is not consistent with the employment insurance rules pertaining to the uniformity of the labour market and the adjoining regions.

Therefore, the petitioners ask that Parliament revise its administrative redistribution of the region so that the federal ridings of Manicouagan and Charlevoix are once again united and part of the former administrative region of northern Quebec.

Questions on the Order paperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order paperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order paperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

moved that Bill C-4, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address the House at second reading of Bill C-4, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. It gives me great pleasure to stand before the House today in support of this bill. It is a one clause bill with the same provision as that contained in Bill C-57 introduced in the House in May 2002.

The amendment clarifies the wording in subsection 46(3) of the act which has had the consequence of extending the obligation for site remediation beyond the owners and managers to private sector lending institutions. This is an anomaly that must be corrected.

Under the current wording of subsection 46(3), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has the authority to order the owner or occupant or any other person with a right to or an interest in to take prescribed measures to reduce the level of radioactive contamination. This proposed amendment clarifies the subsection by deleting the words “person with a right or interest in” and replacing them with the words “person who has the management and control”.

This subsection has discouraged the private sector from lending to the nuclear industry. The industry is a vital component of the Canadian economy. It includes electric power plants, uranium mines and refineries. Nuclear energy supplies 13% of Canada's electricity. It thus contributes to the diversity which helps to ensure the security of our energy supply.

The nuclear industry is more than electricity, however. Nuclear technology has daily applications in industry, material science and in sterilizing medical items. Medical isotopes produced in reactors are used to diagnose and treat disease. In fact, Canada is a world leader in producing medical isotopes which are used around the globe.

The amendment serves to clarify the risk for institutions lending to companies in the nuclear industry. A lender who goes into management and control of a nuclear facility would be within the reach of this subsection.

No other industrial sector or power generation sector is encumbered by a federal provision of this nature that discourages their access to bank lending. For example, the chemical and natural gas industries do not have the problem we are trying to fix.

The nuclear industry must have access to commercial credit to finance its needs, just like any other sector. This amendment will allow the nuclear industry to attract market capital and equity. It is not, and should not be misconstrued as, a measure to provide favourable treatment to the nuclear industry. All the stringent mechanisms embodied in the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and regulations, which are designed to ensure that nuclear facilities are managed in a safe and environmentally sound manner, are still in place and unaffected by this provision.

For example, in the class 1 nuclear facilities regulations, which deal with the large power reactors, the commission requires industry to provide detailed information about their environmental protection policies and procedures, effluent and environmental monitoring programs and environmental baseline studies. The commission continues to have the authority to act to suspend the licence for any activity when it concludes that the activity carried on poses an unreasonable risk to the environment, health and safety or security. These examples show that the commission's mandate to prevent unreasonable risk to the environment will continue to be fulfilled.

Nuclear power is a proven technology for generating electricity. It has been in commercial operation in Canada for more than 30 years. There are currently 438 nuclear power plants around the world, producing 16% of the world's electricity. The only non-greenhouse gas emitting source which produces a larger share of the world's electricity is hydro power, which produces 19%.

Governments are encouraging more private sector participation in the ownership and management of facilities in all energy sectors. Companies with nuclear operations need access to the same financial instruments available to other companies. This means that companies need the participation of banks and other financial organizations to attract market capital and equity to finance ongoing and future operations.

We must be fair and consistent. We must ensure that all companies have an equal opportunity to conduct their business and to better position themselves in the marketplace. At the same time we must ensure that these companies are fully responsible for environmental stewardship. This approach maintains the authority of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to take the necessary measures for site remediation against those who have management and control.

The bill will put us in a win-win situation. It will not in any way weaken Canada's stringent licensing and regulatory regime, which is designed to protect human health, safety and security and the environment. At the same time it will put the nuclear industry on an equal footing with other industrial and power generation sectors and clarify that owners or those who manage and control have liability for site remediation.

I reiterate that the bill is not a measure to provide favourable treatment to the nuclear industry. It does not contain any hidden agenda. It demonstrates the government's commitment to implement its policy strategy to achieve smart regulation, as outlined in the Speech from the Throne. The bill will help “achieve the public good” and at the same time enhance “the climate for investment and trust in markets”. I would ask the hon. members to join me in voting to send this bill to committee.

Nuclear Safety and Control ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on Bill C-4, an act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. I listened to the speech by the minister with interest and I have a few observations which I will share with the House.

We all know that Canadians are very sensitive when it comes to the nuclear industry. They have the right to be and they should be. As elected representatives of the people it is our foremost duty to protect Canadians and assure their safety. It is also our moral responsibility to keep our environment as clean and pollution free as we can.

The purpose of the bill is to amend “the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to vary the classes of persons that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission may order to take measures to reduce the levels of contamination of a place”. The bill corrects a clause in the Nuclear Safety and Control Act preventing debt financing in the nuclear power sector, which could result in the government getting involved in financing the nuclear power sector.

Subsection 46(3) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act is replaced by the following:

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.

Lenders, banks and other financial institutions are refusing to consider approval of investment in the nuclear power sector due to a clause in the current Nuclear Safety and Control Act that would make the lenders liable in a case of a nuclear spill or accident or any other consequences thereof. This clause is not contained in other Canadian environmental legislation. Subsection 46(3) makes anyone with “an interest” in contaminated land or facilities liable for environmental remediation, and mortgage lenders and persons advancing funds and taking security on land are deemed as persons with an interest. I was a director of a credit union at one time. I remember the environmental assessment requirements imposed at that time and the onus on the financial institutions. It caused a furor in the industry at that time. We know how the lenders feel when they have to deal with that kind of liability.

I have a few examples of how the industry is already suffering because of this. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has indicated that it is ready to explore the possibility of buying the reactors to ensure that the refurbishment is conducted. AECL is looking for private sector backers to help pay for the project because it would prove that refurbishing CANDU reactors in Canada and around the world is feasible. So on the one hand there is research and development and high technology, and on the other hand it is a funding problem for the nuclear industry.

Here is another example. British Energy plc Bruce Power, which currently owns the lease to operate Ontario's Bruce nuclear power plant, has no clean and tidy answers about its ability to post a $222 million guarantee to comply with its licence to operate an Ontario nuclear power plant. Bruce Power wants Canada's nuclear power plant regulator to consider alternatives to a requirement that the venture have enough cash on hand to operate for six months in case it has to shut down reactors and pay for any disaster cleanup.

The venture is looking into getting insurance against shutdowns, obtaining a credit rating and credit facilities, or changing its ownership structure. As we know, British Energy owns about 82% of the venture, Saskatoon-based Cameco Corporation, the world's largest uranium miner, owns 15%, and workers' unions own the rest of the power plant.

It is very difficult for the industry because of this particular restriction to arrange any financing or sponsoring of those projects. Canadian law generally limits lender liability to those with charge, management or control of secure assets, and investors recognize this standard form of liability and factor it into their agreements. Due to the unusual level of liability commanded by subsection 46(3), investors in the nuclear power sector are refusing to provide debt financing. That is a serious challenge and difficulty. Large scale projects--