Mr. Speaker, before I speak to Bill C-4, I would like to congratulate my colleague, the member for Laval Centre, for her clear-sighted and impressive speech. It opens doors for the debate we will now have on Bill C-4.
I am very happy to have the opportunity to talk about Bill C-4 today. As you know, nuclear energy is a very important issue for me. For more than a month, two years ago, I saw how the Canadian nuclear energy industry laughed at the citizens from the Saguenay region in the matter of MOX imports.
You all know about the debate we had on importing MOX from the Soviet Union and how people in my area were opposed to the idea of airplanes transporting containers of that product over their heads. We won our case.
Research scientists in the industry work behind closed doors, ignore the population, paint a bright picture of the industry and think that the public cannot and should not understand the situation, because people do not have the required training to do so.
One does not need to be an expert to understand that the nuclear industry creates radioactive waste that will last for thousands of years and that it is not a green energy like wind or solar energy, but rather a form of energy the appropriateness of which should be reviewed.
I can only approach this issue with a very critical mind. It is for this reason and for many others that I am so interested in taking part in this debate on Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.
As it now stands, the act says that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission may, and I quote “--order that the owner or occupant of, or any other person with a right to or interest in the affected land or place [to] take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination”. That is what the current act says: “take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination”.
The phrase “any other person with a right to or interest in, the affected land or place” is quite broad. It means that any person with an interest may be made to pay in case of a spill or any other kind of problem. This means everybody, including lenders. That is what the current act says.
A bank that loaned money to a plant could thus be sued and incur what would inevitably be very high costs. It is mainly to spare third parties, like banks and lending institutions, especially those that are able to finance the nuclear industry, that the bill was introduce. The purpose of the bill is to replace “any other person with right to or interest in, the affected land or place take the prescribed measures to reduce the level of contamination” by “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 bill frees all third parties and lenders who finance nuclear energy, from any responsibility. What is being done through this bill is serious, all the more so when one thinks about all the doors that it will open for nuclear energy.
If the bill is passed, these legal entities would no longer have to clean up the sites contaminated by nuclear waste or the byproducts of nuclear energy exploitation.
It is not just a simple administrative amendment, as the minister would have us believe. There is a lot involved in this bill.
In fact, as the minister indicated in his press release, “Companies that own and operate nuclear facilities must have access to commercial credit to finance their needs, like any other enterprise”. This is where I have a problem.
Two elements caught my eye when I read this document, namely “finance their needs” and “environmentally-sound”.
It is a well-known fact that the current government, led in that by the Prime Minister, has always considered nuclear energy as an incredible economic development tool. Moreover, in terms of respecting its Kyoto commitments, the government is very favourable to this kind of energy
But, as we know, nuclear energy is not clean. It produces so much radioactive waste that we do not know what to do with it anymore. Yet, the Canadian government thinks differently, despite all that we know and the current situation. This is very serious.
Indeed, it says on the Internet site of the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, and I quote, “Nuclear energy is a clean, safe, and economical energy source that has many benefits, particularly in the areas of environment... It does not contribute to air pollution, global warming or acid rain”.
What a wonderfully incomplete propaganda tool. What Atomic Energy of Canada does not say is that we are stuck with over 20,000 tonnes of nuclear waste in Canada. This is serious. Do members know how much it would cost to get rid of it? It would cost over $13 billion. This waste has a half-life of 24,000 years—and this will answer the question of the hon. member for Laval Centre—and they want to bury it deep in the Canadian Shield. As we know, three quarters of the Canadian Shield is located in Quebec.
They want Quebec to become a dumping ground for the waste of others. It is Canada that has nuclear plants. It is Canada that created these 20,000 tonnes of nuclear waste currently stored on the plants' sites.
This government agency is really not telling the whole truth to the public and it would have us believe this incomplete and misleading information.