Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-57. At first glance, it looks really short. In fact, it amends only one section of the act, but the fact that it is short does not mean that it is not important. It is extremely important, since it deals with nuclear energy. It frees banking or financial institutions from any liability with regard to site decontamination as a result of the use of nuclear energy.
This bill is especially important for Ontario. There is a concentration of nuclear power stations in that province. It is important because people are increasingly afraid of nuclear energy, not only here, but around the world.
Mr. Speaker, you certainly know that 32 countries produce nuclear energy in the world; several of them have greater concentrations. Such is the case in Ontario.
In Quebec, there was a plant in Gentilly. It is still in operation, but in the years following its construction, environmentalists were very worried. There even was an expansion project, Gentilly 2. I must say that people are still concerned.
Nuclear energy creates nuclear waste. I am very open to hear the explanations of those who could reassure me and reassure the public with regard to the effective disposal of nuclear waste from these plants. Few people can do that. I challenge those who know or those who can read scientific studies to tell us beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no problem with that. The Government of Quebec had strong enough concerns to decide not to further develop this industry. It decided to focus on hydroelectricity instead. It is true that we did have the potential for that.
I think we made a very good decision. Of course, Quebec was able to go in that direction because of its rivers, which opened up this possibility.
The member for Matapédia—Matane talked about a sector of interest to him, that of alternative energies such as wind energy that is being produced as an experimental project in his area, more precisely in Cap-Chat. This form of energy is beginning to have some success, which is promising, and it is worth investing in this industry.
The member for Sherbrooke has brought this issue to our attention in caucus. He is calm but forceful, as members have no doubt noticed. He has a lively humour, but he is still calm but forceful. He seldom gets all worked up, but he usually has very strong arguments when he needs to convince the Bloc Quebecois members that they have to pay attention to something, that they should not get excited and that they should remain calm. We should never get people excited. We should not dramatize and scare people.
At the same time, it is good and I think that it is also our mandate, to represent the people, who are concerned about the importance of this issue and about potential risks, even if they do not exist at present. Before further developing this type of energy, we should try to obtain more scientific information on the best way to eliminate nuclear waste. There is not much scientific information on this. Therefore, this is still a concern.
At one time, in the 1970s, and we still do this but with much less enthusiasm as we can see, Canada was selling Candu reactors to some countries that are now making headlines internationally. I mention this because as member of a subcommittee of the standing committee on foreign affairs, I deal particularly with the Asian issues, on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois.
Let us talk about what is happening now between India and Pakistan. Let us ask ourselves the following question: how is it that these two countries seem to have a nuclear capacity? And they seem to have more than a capacity, because they are even carrying out nuclear tests. Where did they get this nuclear energy? Plutonium is required. We know that it is possible—this has been demonstrated—with inputs or outputs from nuclear plants, to use these materials to make something else, potentially bombs. What we are seeing now between Pakistan and India, with Kashmir at stake, is barely veiled threats from both sides. The people in the region and everyone else are extremely concerned.
What about the problems, the leaks that have occurred in nuclear plants, particularly in the former U.S.S.R., affected the neighbouring countries? In Canada, I am convinced that the people can feel safer. It must feel safe. I do not think there is a concern. There is a good framework.
I agree with the member for Sherbrooke: we should not scare people either. However, as far as the world nuclear industry is concerned—I read some articles just recently on the subject—there are no guarantees with regard to climate change.
In my are and in Quebec, we all remember the ice storm. We wonder why we had an ice storm that lasted so long and that caused so much damage. I read many international newspapers, perhaps because of my involvement in foreign affairs since the last election. We see more and more disasters that are related to the weather.
No need to go far from home. Members can just think about the water level in the St. Lawrence, which is abnormally low. What happens when this occurs?
You will, of course, be thinking “Here we go again, the member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière is going to talk to us about his ships and shipbuilding, and all that stuff”.
Yes, but at the rate things are going with the water level on the St. Lawrence between Montreal and Quebec City, we are soon going to have to develop another kind of ship, one that draws less water, because there has to be more dredging done to do away with the sandbars and debris at the bottom of the river.
Why? Because the water level is dropping. Why is the water level dropping? Because of climate change in the world, the continent or the country. There is global warming. One just needs to listen to the science programs; the glaciers are melting.
Kilometres of the glaciers are melting away. There is the ozone layer and then there are the greenhouse gases. These are of such concern that in Rio, in 1984 I think it was, thought was given to an international protocol to deal with greenhouse gases. This led to the Kyoto protocol, in which Canada committed to doing something about greenhouse gases.
However—and I am bringing this up as a lighter note, which is sometimes a good idea—the Prime Minister once told us a few years ago that “Canada is the best country in the world”, but this best of countries is the one that pollutes the most per capita, as far as greenhouse gases are concerned.
Someone will counter with the comment that China produces more than the United States, and yes it does overall. However, given its land mass and its population, taking the two together Canada is the biggest polluter per capita and per square kilometre as far as greenhouse gases are concerned.
That being the case, of course we encourage the government of Canada, the federal government, to respect its commitment to the Kyoto protocol.
However, we saw what happened: there was September 11; there was a change of government in the United States. What do we see now? We see that the Government of Canada is trying, if not to please, at least not to irritate the Americans, who have decided not to bother with the Kyoto protocol. That is very serious.
The Government of Quebec is trying to be heard because we, in Quebec, have chosen hydroelectricity, because we have experimented with wind energy in the Gaspe Peninsula and in the Lower St. Lawrence area, because research shows that it is worth investing in renewable energies that are not dangerous, or at least in energies that we can control.
In this regard, I certainly encourage the member for Matapédia—Matane, because he is absolutely right. I visited Cap-Chat, even though wind turbines are used elsewhere also. I am trying to see the kind of pollution that can be created by any wind-powered structure.
When it rains, it does not create any problems. I did not see any emissions, any gases. There is absolutely no negative aspect, apart from the initial argument as to whether it is effective or not. Is it worth the investment? More and more, the answer is that it is very promising.
The Bloc Quebecois believes that it would be worth investing $700 million a year in wind energy as a renewable source of energy.
Some might say that I am talking about a different issue. Who could make this? Of course, it takes large companies. For example, the Davie shipyards have a great deal of experience in building oil platforms and very large structures. They build these structures all year round and they can weld them together. They have all the electronic processes and they would be able to do it. There is also Bombardier. There are other businesses that could do this.
It is windy in the Gaspé Peninsula. At times, it is terrible. If we travel from Matane to Forillon park along the coast and we are camping, we need good stakes for the tent, because there is a lot of wind down there.
The wind is terrible when the weather is not nice and it is cold. At the same time, just think of the energy available, of the incredible potential in the Gaspé Peninsula and the Lower St. Lawrence. Why not develop wind energy? It is not dangerous; there is a lot of space. In Quebec and in Canada, there are businesses that can produce what is needed. We have the technological capacity. We have the expertise and the brains to devise plans and do research.
Why not? We spent $3 billion on the Hibernia project. I have been watching the situation in Lévis for years. We were hoping that the Davie shipyard could make a contribution. It could have done so for some components. But no, it was Newfoundland. Sure, Granted, Newfoundland also has the right to get government contracts and to benefit from government investments. We are not jealous of Newfoundland. However, when it is Quebec's turn, in the hydroelectricity industry, we cannot get a penny from the federal government. When we had a problem with hydroelectricity, as was the case during the ice storm, the federal government did not contribute one penny, because it was a crown corporation that was asking for help.
The government says “Quebecers are always upset”. But the facts speak for themselves. There was not one penny for Hydro-Quebec. Yet, this was a major crisis.
We are not asking to take anything away from Newfoundland, to punish Newfoundland and not to give anything to Newfoundland any more. We are asking for something on the same basis for Quebec, namely $700 million per year for an energy that has extraordinary potential.
I do not want to speak louder, because you will accuse me of being a windbag. I do not need to, because there is plenty of wind in the Gaspé. There is a lot of wind all year long. The member for Matapédia—Matane has never been once in the Gaspé without it being windy. It is a strong wind that comes from afar.
In the Magdalen Islands, there is the tourist industry. However, since the minister—she did not to so personally, she is inheriting problems from her predecessors—made cuts into employment insurance, seasonal workers in the tourist industry have been affected. The Magdalen Islands, what a beautiful place. There are wind generators there already and there could be more. It is even more windy than the Gaspé. This is awful, but it is also an extraordinary potential for the wind energy sector. Why do we not think about these safe things? They are renewable. From what I have heard, wind is renewable. Every month, there are wind actions from nature.
With regard to hydroelectricity, we know that it affects the fauna and flora. Sometimes aboriginal populations are disrupted, as any population, when they have to be displaced. Ecosystems are displaced. This can have a non measured and perhaps a hardly measurable effect, but there is one. A water body releases vapor and so on. But wind energy only displaces wind.
I am passionately defending the Lévis shipyard. However, when I hear the hon. member for Matapédia—Matane talk about the potential of wind energy, I have no choice but to agree. With his exemplary calmness, the hon. member for Sherbrooke is saying that we should be careful not to scare everyone. Personally, I say let us use safe energy for the future.